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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362 STORY OF GRETTIR THE STRONG
told accordingly that on that headland Karr the Old was buried; that at first father and son had but one farm on the island, but since Karr died he had so haunted the place that all the farmers who owned land were driven away. Thorfinn, therefore, now held the whole island, and to such good purpose, that whosoever enjoyed his protection was not worried by the ghost. Grettir determined to investigate, and providing himself with spades and tools, set off with Audun to dig into the ' barrow,' as these mounds of earth are called, which northern races and others used to raise over their dead. Leaving Audun to guard the rope by which he descended, Grettir found the interior of the cavern very dark, and a smell therein none of the sweetest. First he saw horse-bones, then he stumbled against the arm of a high chair wherein was a man sitting; great treasures of gold and silver lay heaped together, and under the man's feet a small chest full of silver. All this Grettir carried towards the rope, but while doing so he was suddenly seized in a strong grip ; whereupon he let go the treasure and rushed at the Thing which lived in the barrow ; and now they set on one another unsparingly enough. There was a battle, first one, then the other gaining a slight advan­tage, but at last the barrow-wight fell over on his back with a huge din; whereupon Grettir drew his sword, ' Jokul's gift,' and cut off Karr's head, laying it beside the thigh, for, in this way only, men said, could a ghost be laid. Grettir took the treasure and brought it to Thorfinn, who was not ill-pleased that his father's tomb had been rifled, for he held that wealth hidden in the ground was wealth wrongly placed, in which we shall probably agree with him.
After the events just described, Thorfinn went away with thirty of his men to one of his farms on the main­land, in order to keep the Yule-tide feast (Christmas). His wife and daughter, the latter of whom was ill in bed, remained at home. Now Thorfinn, some time previously,
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