The Online 
Medieval and Classical Library


The Death Of Thorod Scat-Catcher;
The Dead Walk At Frodis-Water.

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #33

The morning that Thorod and his men went out westaway from Ness, they were all lost off Enni; the ship and the fish drave ashore there under Enni, but the corpses were not found. But when this news was known at Frodiswater, Kiartan and Thurid bade their neighbours to the arvale, and their Yule ale was taken and used for the arvale. But the first evening whenas men were at the feast, and were come to their seats, in came goodman Thorod and his fellows into the hall, all of them dripping wet. Men gave good welcome to Thorod, for a good portent was it deemed, since folk held it for sooth that those men should have good cheer of Ran if they, who had been drowned at sea, came to their own burial-ale; for in those days little of the olden lore was cast aside, though men were baptized and were Christian by name.

Now Thorod and his company went down the endlong sitting-hall, which was double-doored, and went into the fire-hall, and took no man's greeting, and set them down by the fire. Then the homemen fled away from the fire-hall, but Thorod and his folk sat behind there till the fires slaked, and then gat them gone. And thus it befell every evening while the arvale lasted, that they came to the fire. Much talk was hereover at the arvale, and some guessed that it would leave off when the feast was over. The guests went home after the feast, and somewhat dreary was that household left.

Now the evening that the guests went away were the meal-fires made as wont was. But when they burned up, in came Thorod and his company all dripping wet, and they sat down by the fire and fell to wringing their raiment. And so when they were sat down, in came Thorir Wooden-leg and his six followers, and they were all be-moulded, and they shook their raiment and cast the mould at Thorod and his folk.

Then the home-men fled away from the fire-hall, as might be looked for, and had neither light nor warm stones nor any matter wherewith they had any avail of the fire.

But the evening next after were fires made in another chamber, and it was deemed that they would be less likely to come thither, but it fell not out so, and all went in the same way as the night before, and both companies came to the fires. The third evening Kiartan gave counsel to make a long fire in the fire-hall, and meal-fires in another chamber. So was it done, and this availed thus much, that Thorod and his folk sat by the long fire and the home-men by the little fire; and so things went till over Yuletide.

Now it befell that more and more were things going on in the stock-fish heap, and night and day men might hear how the stock- fish was torn. And after this the time came when need was of stock-fish, and men went to search the heap; and the man who went up thereon saw this to tell of, that up from the heap came a great tail as big as a singed neat's tail, and it was short- haired and seal-haired; he who went up on to the heap caught at the tail and tugged, and called on other men to come help, him. So folk fared up on to the heap, both men and women, and tugged at the tail, and got nought done, and they thought none otherwise than that the tail was dead; but lo, as they pulled, the tail drew down through their hands, so that the skin came off the palms of those who had the firmest hold thereon, and nought was known afterwards of that tail.

Then was the stock-fish heap taken down, and every fish therein was found torn from the skin, so that there was no fish found in his skin in the lower part of the heap; but nought quick was found therein.

After these haps Thorgrima Witch-face, the wife of Thorir Wooden- leg, fell sick and lay but a little while or she died, and the very same evening that she was buried, she was seen in the company of Thorir her husband. Then the sickness fell on folk anew after the tail was seen, and more women than men died; and yet six men died in that brunt. But some fled before those hauntings and ghosts. At harvest-tide there had been thirty serving-folk there, but eighteen were dead, and five fled away, and but seven were left behind at Goi.