“’My friend, I am loth to lose your company, but here is the parting of our ways. Mine I need not trouble you with, but yours for a space will lead you little further in any direction.’ And with that I bound him firmly to a tree, and left him to think upon his misdeeds. Since then, Estein, I have wandered through these forests like a man in a fog, cursing roundly the land and all its inhabitants.”
“Yet it would seem that it is they who have most reason to complain of your dealings with them,” said Estein, smiling.
“I would I were well quit of the land,” replied his friend. “My heart felt glad when I saw in the glade a man habited after the fashion of the natives. ’There will be one less Jemtlander to-night,’ I said, as I laid an arrow on my bow. ’By all the gods, Estein, I shall laugh whenever I think of it!
“But tell me your adventures.”
Estein told him shortly what had befallen him, excepting only his seeing the girl in the village. He had made up his mind that the resemblance must have been the work of fancy, yet as soon as they had reached the house of Atli, he took the old man aside, and asked him,—
“Shall I then sail when the snows have melted?”
“Assuredly,” replied the seer; “wouldst thou delay what the gods and the dead enjoin?”
The midnight guest.
Jomar had returned early in the day, and they found him already wrapped up in his bear-skin fast asleep before the fire.
“Gave he my warning to Ketill?” Estein asked Atli.
“Assuredly,” replied the old man; “I have never known him fail me, little though he may have liked the errand.”
“And what said Ketill? Had they been attacked? What news brought Jomar back?”
“Let us wake the knave, and ask him,” said Helgi; and suiting the action to the word, he drove one foot sufficiently hard into the sleeper’s side to rouse him with a start.
“What said friend Ketill?” Helgi went on, careless of the man’s ugly look; “sent he back any message?”
Jomar answered with a dark scowl, regarding him steadily for a minute as if to make sure who he was, and then he snapped back shortly,—
“He said he had lost a dog that answered to the name of Helgi, and would be well pleased if the beast had died of the mange in the wood,” and without another word he rolled over and closed his eyes again.