STORY OF GRETTIR THE STRONG 367
and Grettir was able to stab it to the heart. More than ever then on account of this did ill-will against Grettir rankle in Biorn's breast. He sailed west to England, as master of Thorkel's ship; when he returned he met Grettir at a place called Drontheim-firth. The two took up their old quarrel again, fought on the strand, and Biorn was killed.
At that time Earl Svein was ruling over Norway as regent, the rightful king being but a boy. At the court in the Earl's service was Biorn's brother, Hiarandi, who was exceedingly wroth when he heard of Biorn's death, and begged the Earl's assistance in the matter. Svein therefore sent for Thorfinn and Grettir, but Hiarandi would not agree to any terms proposed, and lay in wait to take Grettir's life. With five others he sprang out from a certain court gate, dealt a blow at him with an axe, and wrounded him ; but Grettir and a companion turned on them and slew them all save one, who escaped and told the Earl. There remained yet another brother of Biorn and Hiarandi to take up the feud, but he fared no better, and was also slain. Earl Svein was now 'wondrous wroth' at this tale, for said he, ' Grettir has now slain three brothers, one at the heels of the other, and I will not thus bring wrongs into the land so as to take compensation for such unmeasured misdeeds'; so he wrould not listen to any proposals by Thorfinn to pay blood-money. However, many more added their words to Thorfinn's, and prayed the Earl to spare Grettir's life, for, after all, he had acted in self-defence, and if his life were to be forfeit, there would be slayings throughout the whole land. These arguments at length prevailed, Grettir was allowed to go in peace, and went back to Iceland, the term of his outlawry being expired.
Being now grown to man's estate, and having waxed greatly in bodily strength, he roamed about the country to see if there were any with whom he might match him-