STORY OF GRETTIR THE STRONG 311
passed, an idea occurred to Grettir. ' They will not deem their journey good if we be not found,' he said ; so, though much against the advice of his friend, he disguised himself in a slouch hat and other clothes, took a staff and intercepted Thorir's band at a point where he knew they must pass. They asked him whether he had seen any men riding over the heath. ' Yes,' he said, ' the men you seek I have seen, and you have missed them only by a very little; they are there on the south side of these bogs to the left.' On hearing this, off galloped Thorir and his men, but the bogs were a sort of quagmire, wherein the horses stuck fast; and remained wallowing and struggling for the greater part of the day, while the riders ' gave to the devil withal the wandering churl who had so befooled them.'
Grettir now deemed it advisable to go about the country in disguise, and, under the name of Guest, came to a place called Sandheaps, much haunted by trolls. Two winters before he arrived the husband of the good-wife had mysteriously disappeared during her absence, none knew whither; her name was Steinvor. A loud crashing had been heard in the night about the man's bed, but the folk were too frightened to rise and find out the cause ; in the morning Steinvor came back, but her husband was gone. Again, the next year, while she was away at church, a house-servant remained behind ; but he too vanished, and bloodstains were found about the outer door. Grettir was told of this when he came to Sandheaps on Christmas-eve, staying there under the name of Guest. Steinvor, as usual, went away to worship, and remained absent that night, leaving Grettir at home. He sat up to watch, and about midnight he heard a great noise outside, shortly after which there came into the hall a huge troll-wife, with a trough in one hand and a monstrous chopper in the other. Seeing Grettir she rushed at him, but he closed with her, and there was a terrible wrestling match. She was the stronger, and