378 STORY OF GRETTIR THE STRONG
dragged him from the house, breaking clown all the fittings of the door; down she dragged him to the river which flowed through the farm, and Grettir, exhausted with the struggle, was well-nigh at the limit of his endurance. Making one last great effort, he managed to draw his short sword and strike off the hag's arm at the shoulder ; then was he free, and she fell into the gulf and was carried down the rapids. This, at least, was Grettir's story; but the men of the neighbourhood say that day dawned on them while they were still wrestling, and that therefore the troll burst; for this trolls do, according to Norse tradition, if they happen to be caught above ground by the rising sun.
Steinvor came back with the priest, who asked Grettir where he thought the two men were who had disappeared. He replied they were, he thought, in the gulf: but if the priest would help him he would find out. The priest agreed. Accordingly, taking a rope with them, they followed the stream down to a waterfall where they saw a cave up under the cliff — a sheer rock the cliff was, nearly fifty fathoms down to the water. The priest's heart misgave him, but Grettir determined to make the attempt; so, driving a peg into the ground, he made the rope fast to it and bade the priest watch it; then he tied a stone to the end and let it sink into the water. When all was ready, he took his short sword and leapt into the water. Disappearing from the priest's view, he dived under the waterfall — and hard work it was, for the whirlpool was strong; but he reached a projecting rock on which he rested awhile. A great cave was under the waterfall, and the river fell over it from the sheer rocks. Grettir climbed into the cave, where he found a great fire flaming, and a giant sitting beside it, huge and horrible to look upon. He smote at the newcomer with a broadsword, but Grettir avoided the blow, and returned such a mighty stroke with his own sword that the giant fell dead at once. The priest on the bank,