THE BOOK OF ROMANCE - online children's book

King Arthur, His Court and Knights in the Age of Chivalry, by Andrew Lang

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THE STORY OF GRETTIR THE STRONG
About nine hundred years ago, more or less, there lived in Iceland, at a homestead called Biarg, two old folks named Asmund the Greyhaired and his wife Asdis. At the time our story begins they had two sons, Atli the eldest, and Grettir, besides daughters; sixteen years later another son was born to them, named Illugi. Atli was a general favourite, in disposition good-natured and yielding, in this the very opposite of Grettir, who held to his own way, and was, besides, silent, reserved, and rough in manner. But he is described as fair to look on, broad-faced, short-faced, red-haired and much freckled, not of quick growth in his childhood. There was little love lost between him and his father, but his mother loved the boy right well. So matters sped till Grettir was ten years old, when, one day, his father told him to go and watch the geese on the farm, fifty of them, besides many goslings. The boy went, but with an ill grace, and shortly afterwards the geese were found all dead or dying, with many of their necks wrung, at which Asmund was mightily vexed. Again, one evening, being cold, he asked the boy to warm him by rubbing his back, but Grettir, taking up a wool-carder's comb, dropped it down his father's back. The old man was furiously angry, and would have beaten Grettir, had he not run away, while Asdis, though vexed, tried her best to make peace between them.
Next, Grettir was sent to tend the horses, amongst which was a favourite mare called Keingala, who always preferred the coldest and windiest spots to graze in; the boy was ill-clad and half-starved with cold, so, by way of
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