“This thou canst not do, lord, seeing that thou hast held it in thy arms,” Groa answered, laughing. “Go rather and lay out Gudruda the Fair on Coldback Hill; so shalt thou make an end of the evil, for Gudruda shall be its very root. Learn this, moreover: that thy dream does not tell all, seeing that thou thyself must play a part in the fate. Go, send forth the babe Gudruda, and be at rest.”
“That cannot be, for I have sworn to cherish it, and with an oath that may not be broken.”
“It is well,” laughed Groa. “Things will befall as they are fated; let them befall in their season. There is space for cairns on Coldback and the sea can shroud its dead!”
And Asmund went thence, angered at heart.
HOW ERIC TOLD HIS LOVE TO GUDRUDA IN THE SNOW ON COLDBACK
Now, it must be told that, five years before the day of the death of Gudruda the Gentle, Saevuna, the wife of Thorgrimur Iron-Toe, gave birth to a son, at Coldback in the Marsh, on Ran River, and when his father came to look upon the child he called out aloud:
“Here we have a wondrous bairn, for his hair is yellow like gold and his eyes shine bright as stars.” And Thorgrimur named him Eric Brighteyes.
Now, Coldback is but an hour’s ride from Middalhof, and it chanced, in after years, that Thorgrimur went up to Middalhof, to keep the Yule feast and worship in the Temple, for he was in the priesthood of Asmund Asmundson, bringing the boy Eric with him. There also was Groa with Swanhild, for now she dwelt at Middalhof; and the three fair children were set together in the hall to play, and men thought it great sport to see them. Now, Gudruda had a horse of wood and would ride it while Eric pushed the horse along. But Swanhild smote her from the horse and called to Eric to make it move; but he comforted Gudruda and would not, and at that Swanhild was angry and lisped out:
“Push thou must, if I will it, Eric.”
Then he pushed sideways and with such good will that Swanhild fell almost into the fire of the hearth, and, leaping up, she snatched a brand and threw it at Gudruda, firing her clothes. Men laughed at this; but Groa, standing apart, frowned and muttered witch-words.
“Why lookest thou so darkly, housekeeper?” said Asmund; “the boy is bonny and high of heart.”
“Ah, he is bonny as no child is, and he shall be bonny all his life-days. Nevertheless, she shall not stand against his ill luck. This I prophesy of him: that women shall bring him to his end, and he shall die a hero’s death, but not at the hand of his foes.”
And now the years went by peacefully. Groa dwelt with her daughter Swanhild up at Middalhof and was the love of Asmund Asmundson. But, though he forgot his oath thus far, yet he would never take her to wife. The witchwife was angered at this, and she schemed and plotted much to bring it about that Asmund should wed her. But still he would not, though in all things else she led him as it were by a halter.