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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 126 pages of information about Vandrad the Viking, the Feud and the Spell.

“Of Olaf?” exclaimed Estein, with a slight start.

“Ay, of Olaf.  Often have I fought by his side on sea and shore, and dearly, more dearly than I ever loved man or woman since, I loved the youth.  Thou even as a child wert strangely like him in features, and as I look upon thee now, there comes back memories of blither days.  Wonder not then that I long was fain to see thee.”

“Then why came you not to my father’s house?” said Estein.  “A friend of his son’s would ever be welcome.”

“Thy father and I fell out,” replied Atli, “the wherefore I must still keep behind the shrouding-curtain, but for my present purpose it matters little.  I could not visit Hakonstad; I could not even stay in the land of my birth.  Olaf fell.”

His voice trembled a little, and he paused.  Estein said nothing, but waited for him to go on.  Then in a brisker tone he continued,- -

“For some years I sailed the west seas; but I was growing old and my strength was wearing away with the wet work and the fighting, so I hied me home again.”

“And my father?” asked Estein.  “Knew not of my coming,” Atli replied.  “Of friends and kinsmen I had few left in the land, but I had long had other thoughts for myself than the tilling of fields and the emptying of horns at Yule.  Often at night had I sat out. [Footnote:  To “sit out” was a method of reading the future practised by sorcerers, in which the magician spent the night under the open sky, and summoned the dead to converse with him.] I had read the stars, and talked with divers magicians and men skilled in the wisdom of things unseen.  I wandered for long among the Finns, I dwelt with the Lapps, and learned the lore of those folks.  Then I came to Jemtland, where cunning men were said to live.”

“Cunning!” exclaimed Estein furiously; “treacherous hounds call them.”

“Cunning, indeed, they are,” said the old man, “but not wise.  This Jomar here is held a spaeman by the people.”

He glanced contemptuously at the sleeping figure on the floor.

“Since I came,” he went on, “I have taught him more than he could have learned in a lifetime here and now, as thou hast seen, he fears and obeys me as a master.  With him I took up my abode, living in a spot known only to few.  Yet my thoughts turned continually to Norway, and chiefly flew to thee, Estein.  I dreamt of thee often, and at last a voice”—­his own sank almost to a whisper as he spoke—­“a voice bade me seek thee.  How I fared thou knowest.”

“I would that I had given more heed to your warning,” said Estein gloomily.

“It all came true then?” cried Atli.  “Nay, there is no need to answer.  Truth I tell, and truth must happen.”

“Have you, then, further rede to give me?”

“Ay, I have heard of this spell and the sore change that has befallen thee, and in my dreams and outsittings I have seen many things—­an old man habited in a strange garb, and a maid by his side.  Ha! flew the shaft true?”

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