The Wanderer's Necklace eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 348 pages of information about The Wanderer's Necklace.

“And would you save me if you could?”

“Aye, Steinar.  Why not?  Surely you must suffer enough with so much blood and evil on your hands.”

“Yes, I suffer enough, Olaf.  So much that I shall be glad to die.  But if you are not come to kill me, then it is that you may scourge me with your tongue.”

“Not so, Steinar.  It is as I have said, only to bid you farewell and to ask you a question, if it pleases you to answer me.  Why did you do this thing which has brought about such misery and loss, which has sent my father, my brother, and a host of brave men to the grave, and with them my mother, whose breasts nursed you?”

“Is she dead also, Olaf?  Oh! my cup is full.”  He hid his eyes in his thin hands and sobbed, then went on:  “Why did I do it?  Olaf, I did not do it, but some spirit that entered into me and made me mad—­mad for the lips of Iduna the Fair.  Olaf, I would speak no ill of her, since her sin is mine, but yet it is true that when I hung back she drew me on, nor could I find the strength to say her nay.  Do you pray the gods, Olaf, that no woman may ever draw you on to such shame as mine.  Hearken now to the great reward that I have won.  I was never wed to Iduna, Olaf.  Athalbrand would not suffer it till he was sure of the matter of the lordship of Agger.  Then, when he knew that this was gone from me, he would suffer it still less, and Iduna herself seemed to grow cold.  In truth, I believe he thought of killing me and sending my head as a present to your father Thorvald.  But this Iduna forbade, whether because she loved me or for other reasons, I cannot say.  Olaf, you know the rest.”

“Aye, Steinar, I know the rest.  Iduna is lost to me, and for that perhaps I should thank you, although such a thrust as this leaves the heart sore for life.  My father, my mother, my brother—­all are lost to me, and you, too, who were as my twin, are about to be lost.  Night has you all, and with you a hundred other men, because of the madness that was bred in you by the eyes of Iduna the Fair, who also is lost to both of us.  Steinar, I do not blame you, for I know yours was a madness which, for their own ends, the gods send upon men, naming it love.  I forgive you, Steinar, if I have aught to forgive, and I tell you, so weary am I of this world, which I feel holds little that is good, that, if I might, I’d yield up my life instead of yours, and go to seek the others, though I doubt whether I should find them, since I think that our roads are different.  Hark! the priests call me.  Steinar, there’s no need to bid you to be brave, for who of our Northern race is not?  That’s our one heritage:  the courage of a bull.  Yet it seems to me that there are other sorts of courage which we lack:  to tread the dark ways of death with eyes fixed on things gentler and better than we know.  Pray to our gods, Steinar, since they are the best we have to pray to, though dark and bloody in their ways; pray that we may meet again, where priests and swords are not and women work no ruin, where we may love as we once loved in childhood and there is no more sin.  Fare you well, my brother Steinar, yet not for ever, for sure I am that here we did not begin and here we shall not end.  Oh!  Steinar, Steinar, who could have dreamed that this would be the last of all our happy fellowship?”

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The Wanderer's Necklace from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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