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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376 STORY OF GRETTIR THE STRONG
he agreed to do, as he was so frightened when alone in the dark; nevertheless, having his suspicions of the man, he kept his short sword always within reach. One day Grim came back from fishing, and thought Grettir was asleep, for he made no movement when Grim suddenly stamped his foot; thinking he now had his chance, he stole on tip-toe to the bedside, took Grettir's short sword and unsheathed it. But at the very moment when Grim had it raised aloft to stab Grettir, the supposed sleeping man sprang up, knocked Grim down, wrenched the sword out of his hand and killed him. Next, Grettir's enemy Thorir of Garth heard of his whereabouts, and prevailed upon one Thorir Redbeard to attempt to slay him. So Redbeard laid his plans, with the object, as it is quaintly phrased, of ' winning' Grettir. He, however, declined to be ' won,' for Redbeard fared no better than Grim. He tried to slay the outlaw while he was swimming back from his nets, but Grettir sank like a stone and swam along the bottom till he reached a place where he could land unseen by Redbeard. He then came on him from behind, while Redbeard was still looking for his appearance out of the water; heaved him over his head, and caused him to fall so heavily that his weapon fell out of his hand. Grettir seized it and smote off his head.
Thorir of Garth was anything but satisfied with the result of his endeavour to have Grettir killed, and gathered together a force of nearly eighty men to take him; but this time Grettir was forewarned by a friend, and took up a position in a very narrow pass. When Thorir's men came up and attacked him he slew them one by one till he had killed eighteen and wounded many more, so that Thorir said, ' Lo, now we have to do with trolls and not men,' and bade the rest retire. Shortly afterwards he collected some twenty men and rode off again to search for Grettir. This time he was within an ace of coming upon the outlaw un­awares ; but Grettir and a friend had just time to conceal themselves when Thorir rode by. After the party had
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