“Do you leave us in this way—without saying farewell, or telling us you were going?”
“I knew not myself when they would come. I told you I must leave you and seek the sea again. It has come true sooner than I expected.”
He took her hands.
“Farewell!” he said again.
She turned her face away.
“I feared you would tire of us,” she said, her voice sinking very low.
“Never, Osla, never! but fate has been too strong for me. They wait for me now, and I must leave you.”
“Farewell, Vandrad!” she said, looking up, and he saw that her eyes were filled with tears.
“Osla!” he cried, drawing her towards him. She yielded an instant, and then suddenly broke free and started away.
“Farewell!” she said again, and her voice sounded like a sob.
He did not trust himself to answer, but turned and hurried to the boat.
They pushed off in silence, the oars dipped in the quiet sound, and Estein left the Holy Isle.
The hall of Liot.
All through the small hours of the morning Estein sat on the poop in silence. Helgi, wrapped in his cloak, threw himself on the deck beside him and fell asleep with a lightened heart, while the long ship, slipping down the sound with the tide, turned westwards into the swell of the Atlantic.
Gloom had settled over Estein’s mind. The pleasantest memories were distorted by the ghost of that old blood feud; his murdered brother called aloud for vengeance; in the wash of the waves and the creaking of the timbers he heard the hermit recite again the story of the burning, and through it all a voice cried, “Farewell! farewell!”
The sun at that season rises early. With it the breeze freshened, and one by one the sleeping figures in the waist woke, and began to stir about the ship. Still their leader sat silent.
Helgi at length sat up with a start, and rubbed his eyes. He looked at Estein, and smiled.
“Very much in love methinks,” he said to himself.
At last Estein saw he was observed, and passing his hand across his brow as if to sweep away his thoughts, asked wearily,—
“Where do we go now, Helgi?”
“Your spell needs a violent remedy, and I have that on my mind that may cure it. What say you to letting Liot Skulison know that he did not slay us all? There are here two others besides ourselves who escaped the fate of Thorkel and our comrades, and they think they owe Liot something. Does revenge seem sweet?”
“Then Liot is alive?”
“Ay, Thor has spared him for us. The Orkney-man who led us to you has an ancient feud against the bairn-slayers, and he tells me Liot and his men are feasting at his dwelling. Shall we fall upon them to-night?”
“You are a good physician, Helgi. Battle and storm are the best cures for such as I.”