The path was very narrow at that point, and he of the black beard called out gruffly,—
“Make way, old man! Give room to pass.”
Roused abruptly from his reverie, the dreamer turned quietly, but made no movement to the side. The party by this time were so close that they had perforce to halt, with some clash of armour, and again their captain cried,—
“Are you deaf? Make way!”
Yet there was something daunting in the other’s pale eye, and though the Viking moved the halberd uneasily on his shoulder, his own glance shifted. With the slightest intonation of contempt, the traveller asked,—
“Who bids me make way?”
The black-bearded man looked at him with an air of some astonishment, and then answered shortly,—
“They call me Ketill; but what is that to you?”
Without heeding the other’s gruffness, the old man asked,—
“Does King Hakon sail from Hernersfiord to-day?”
“King Hakon has not sailed for many a day. His son leads this force.”
“Ay, I had forgotten, we are both old men now. Then Estein sails to-day?”
“Ay, and I sail with him. My ship awaits me, so make way, old man,” replied Ketill.
“Whither do ye sail?”
“To the west seas. I have no time for talking more. Do you hear?”
“Go on then,” replied the old man, stepping to one side; “something tells me that Estein will have need of all his men before this voyage is over.”
Without stopping for further words, the black-bearded captain and his men pushed past and continued their way to the fiord, while the old man slowly followed them.
As he went down the hillside he talked again aloud to himself:—
“Ay, this then is the meaning of my warning dreams—danger in the south lands, danger on the seas. Little heed will Estein Hakonson pay to the words of an old man, yet I am fain to see the youth again, and what the gods reveal to me I must speak.”
Down below, near the foot of the path that led from the pier up to the hall of Hakonstad, a cluster of chiefs stood talking. In the midst of them, Hakon, King of Sogn, one of the independent kinglings who reigned in the then chaotic Norway, watched the departure of his son.
He was a venerable figure, conspicuous by his long, wintry locks and embroidered cloak of blue, straight as a spear-shaft, but grown too old for warfare. His hand rested on the shoulder of Earl Sigvald of Askland, a bluff old warrior, long the king’s most faithful counsellor and companion in arms. Before them stood his son Estein, a tall, auburn-haired, bright-eyed young man, gaily dressed, after the fashion of the times, in red kirtle and cloak, and armed as yet only with a gilded helmet, surmounted with a pair of hawk’s wings, and a sword girt to his side. His face, though regular and handsome, would have been rather too grave and reserved but for the keenness of his eyes, and a very pleasant smile which at times lit up his features when he spoke.