During that summer in which Christianity was adopted by law in Iceland(1000 A.D.), it happened that a ship came to land at Snowfell Ness.It was a Dublin vessel, manned by Irish and Hebrideans, with fewNorsemen on board. They lay there for a long time during the summer,waiting for a favourable wind to sail into the firth, and many peoplefrom the Ness went down to trade with them. There was on board aHebridean woman named Thorgunna, of whom her shipmates said that sheowned some costly things, the like of which would be difficult to findin Iceland. When Thurid, the housewife at Froda, heard of this shewas very curious to see the articles, for she was a woman that wasfond of show and finery. She went to the ship and asked Thorgunnawhether she had any woman's apparel that was finer than the common.Thorgunna said that she had nothing of the kind to sell, but had somegood things of her own, that she might not be affronted at feasts orother gatherings. Thurid begged a sight of these, and Thorgunnashowed her treasures. Thurid was much pleased with them, and thoughtthem very becoming, though not of high value. She offered to buythem, but Thorgunna would not sell. Thurid then invited her to comeand stay with her, because she knew that Thorgunna was well provided,and thought that she would get the things from her in course of time.Thorgunna answered, "I am well pleased to go to stay with you, but youmust know that I have little mind to pay for myself, because I am wellable to work, and have no dislike to it, though I will not do anydirty work. I must be allowed to settle what I shall pay for myselfout of such property as I have."Although Thorgunna spoke in this fashion, yet Thurid would have her togo with her, and her things were taken out of the ship; these were ina large chest with a lock and a small box, and both were taken home toFroda. When Thorgunna arrived there she asked for her bed to be shownher, and was given one in the inner part of the hall. Then she openedup the chest, and took bed-clothes out of it: they were all verybeautiful, and over the bed she spread English coverlets and a silkenquilt. Out of the chest she also brought a bed-curtain and all thehangings that belonged to it, and the whole outfit was so fine thatfolk thought they had never seen the like of it.Then said Thurid the housewife: "Name the price of all your bed-clothes and hangings".Thorgunna answered, "I will not lie among straw for you, although youare so stately, and bear yourself so proudly".Thurid was ill pleased at this, and offered no more to buy the things.Thorgunna worked at cloth-making every day when there was no hay-making, but when the weather was dry she worked among the dry hay inthe home field, and had a rake made for herself which she alone was touse. Thorgunna was a big woman, both broad and tall, and very stout;she had dark eyebrows, and her eyes were close set; her hair brown andin great abundance. She was well-mannered in her daily life, and wentto church every day before beginning her work, but she was not of alight disposition nor of many words. Most people thought thatThorgunna must be in the sixties, yet she was a very active woman.At this time one Thorir "wooden-leg" and his wife Thorgrima "charm-cheek" were being maintained at Froda, and there was little lovebetween them and Thorgunna. The person that she had most ado with wasKjartan, the son of the house; him she loved much, but he was rathercold towards her, and this often vexed her. Kjartan was then fifteenyears old, and was both big of body and manly in appearance.The summer that year was very wet, but in the autumn there came drydays. By this time the hay-work at Froda was so far advanced that allthe home field was mown, and nearly the half of it was quite dry.There came then a fine dry day, clear and bright, with not a cloud tobe seen in all the sky. Thorodd, the yeoman, rose early in themorning and arranged the work of each one; some began to cart off thehay, and some to put it into stalks, while the women were set to tossand dry it. Thorgunna also had her share assigned to her, and thework went on well during the day. When it drew near to three in theafternoon, a mass of dark clouds was seen rising in the north whichcame rapidly across the sky and took its course right above the farm.They thought it certain that there was rain in the cloud and Thoroddbade his people rake the hay together; but Thorgunna continued toscatter hers, in spite of the orders that were given. The clouds cameon quickly, and when they were above the homestead at Froda there camesuch darkness with them that the people could see nothing beyond thehome field; indeed, they could scarcely distinguish their own hands.Out of the cloud came so much rain that all the hay which was lyingflat was quite soaked. When the cloud had passed over and the skycleared again, it was seen that blood had fallen amid the rain. Inthe evening there was a good draught, and the blood soon dried off allthe hay except that which Thorgunna had been working at; it did notdry, nor did the rake that she had been using.Thurid asked Thorgunna what she supposed this marvel might portend.She said that she did not know, "but it seems to me most likely thatit is an evil omen for some person who is present here". In theevening Thorgunna went home and took off her clothes, which had beenstained with the blood; then she lay down in her bed and breathedheavily, and it was found that she was taken with sickness. Theshower had not fallen anywhere else than at Froda.All that evening Thorgunna would taste no food. In the morningThorodd came to her and asked about her sickness, and what end shethought it would have. She answered that she did not expect to haveany more illnesses. Then she said: "I consider you the wisest personin the homestead here, and so I shall tell you what arrangements Iwish to make about the property that I leave behind me, and aboutmyself, for things will go as I tell you, though you think there isnothing very remarkable about me. It will do you little good todepart from my instructions, for this affair has so begun that it willnot pass smoothly off, unless strong measures are taken in dealingwith it."Thorodd answered: "There seems to me great likelihood that yourforebodings will come true; and therefore," said he, "I shall promiseto you not to depart from your instructions"."These are my arrangements," said Thorgunna, "that I will have myselftaken to Skalholt if I die of this sickness, for my mind forbodes methat that place will some time or other be the most glorious spot inthis land. I know also that by now there are priests there to singthe funeral service over me. So I ask you to have me carried thither,and for that you shall take so much of my property that you suffer noloss in the matter. Of my other effects, Thurid shall have thescarlet cloak that I own, and I give it her so that she may readilyconsent to my disposing of all the rest as I please. I have a goldring, and it shall go to the church with me; but as for my bed andbed-hangings, I will have them burned with fire, because they will beof service to no one. I do not say this because I grudge that any oneshould possess these treasures, if I knew that they would be of use tothem; rather am I so earnest in the matter, because I should be sorryfor folk to fall into such trouble for me, as I know will be the caseif my words are not heeded."Thorodd promised to do as she asked him, and after this Thorgunna'ssickness increased, so that she lay but few days before she died. Thebody was first taken to the church, and Thorodd had a coffin made forit. On the following day Thorodd had all the bed-clothes carried outinto the open air, and made a pile of wood beside them. Then Thuridthe housewife came up, and asked what he was going to do with the bed-clothes. He answered that he was to burn them with fire, as Thorgunnahad directed him. "I will not have such treasures burned," saidThurid. Thorodd answered: "She declared strongly that it would notdo to depart from what she said". "That was mere jealousy," saidThurid; "she grudged any other person the use of them, and that waswhy she gave these orders; but nothing terrible will happen though herwords are set aside." "I doubt," said he, "whether it will be well todo otherwise than as she charged me."Then Thurid laid her arms round his neck, and besought him not to burnthe furnishings of the bed, and so much did she press him in this thathis heart gave way to her, and she managed it so that Thorodd burnedthe mattresses and pillows, while she took for herself the quilt andcoverlets and all the hangings. Yet neither of them was well pleased.After this the funeral was made ready; trustworthy men were sent withthe body, and good horses which Thorodd owned. The body was wrappedin linen, but not sewed up in it, and then laid in the coffin. Afterthis they held south over the heath as the paths go, and went on untilthey came to a farm called Lower Ness, which lies in the Tongues ofStaf-holt. There they asked leave to stay over night, but the farmerwould give them no hospitality. However, as it was close onnightfall, they did not see how they could go on, for they thought itwould be dangerous to deal with the White River by night. Theytherefore unloaded their horses, and carried the body into an out-house, after which they went into the sitting-room and took off theirouter clothes, intending to stay there over night without food.The people of the house were going to bed by daylight, and after theywere in bed a great noise was heard in the kitchen. Some went to seewhether thieves had not broken in, and when they reached the kitchenthey saw there a tall woman. She was quite naked, with no clotheswhatever upon her, and was busy preparing food. Those who saw herwere so terrified that they dared not go near her at all. When thefuneral party heard of this they went thither, and saw what the matterwas--Thorgunna had come there, and it seemed advisable to them all notto meddle with her. When she had done all that she wanted, shebrought the food into the room, set the tables and laid the food uponthem. Then the funeral party said to the farmer: "It may happen inthe end, before we part, that you will think it dearly bought that youwould show us no hospitality". Both the farmer and the housewifeanswered: "We will willingly give you food, and do you all otherservices that you require".As soon as the farmer had offered them this, Thorgunna passed out ofthe room into the kitchen, and then went outside, nor did she showherself again. Then a light was kindled in the room, and the wetclothes of the guests were taken off, and dry ones given them in theirplace. After this they sat down at table, and blessed their food,while the farmer had holy water sprinkled over all the house. Theguests ate their food, and it harmed no man, although Thorgunna hadprepared it. They slept there that night, and were treated with greathospitality.In the morning they continued their journey, and things went verysmoothly with them; wherever this affair was heard of, most peoplethought it best to do them all the service that they required, and oftheir journey no more is to be told. When they came to Skalholt, theyhanded over the precious things which Thorgunna had sent thither: thering and other articles, all of which the priests gladly received.Thorgunna was buried there, while the funeral party returned home,which they all reached in safety.At Froda there was a large hall with a fireplace in the midde, and abed-closet at the inner end of it, as was then the custom. At theouter end were two store-closets, one on each side; dried fish werepiled in one of these, and there was meal in the other. In this hallfires were kindled every evening, as was the custom, and folk satround these fires for a long while before they went to supper. Onthat evening on which the funeral party came home, while the folk atFroda were sitting round the fires, they saw a half-moon appear on thepanelling of the hall, and it was visible to all those who werepresent. It went round the room backwards and against the sun'scourse, nor did it disappear so long as they sat by the fires.Thorodd asked Thorir Wooden-leg what this might portend. "It is theMoon of Fate," said Thorir, "and deaths will come after it." Thiswent on all that week that the Fate-Moon came in every evening.The next tidings that happened at Froda were that the shepherd came inand was very silent; he spoke little, and that in a frenzied manner.Folk were most inclined to believe that he had been bewitched, becausehe went about by himself, and talked to himself. This went on forsome time, but one evening, when two weeks of winter had passed, theshepherd came home, went to his bed, and lay down there. When theywent to him in the morning he was dead, and was buried at the church.Soon after this there began great hauntings. One night Thorir Wooden-leg went outside and was at some distance from the door. When he wasabout to go in again, he saw that the shepherd had come between himand the door. Thorir tried to get in, but the shepherd would notallow him. Then Thorir tried to get away from him, but the shepherdfollowed him, caught hold of him, and threw him down at the door. Hereceived great hurt from this, but was able to reach his bed; there heturned black as coal, took sickness and died. He was also buried atthe church there, and after this both the shepherd and Thorir wereseen in company, at which all the folk became full of fear, as was tobe expected.This also followed upon the burial of Thorir, that one of Thorodd'smen grew ill, and lay three nights before he died; then one died afteranother, until six of them were gone. By this time the Christmas fasthad come, although the fast was not then kept in Iceland. The store-closet, in which the dried fish were kept, was packed so full that thedoor could not be opened; the pile reached nigh up to the rafters, anda ladder was required to get the fish off the top of it. One eveningwhile the folk were sitting round the fires, the fish were torn, butwhen search was made no living thing could be found there.During the winter, a little before Christmas, Thorodd went out to Nessfor the fish he had there; there were six men in all in a ten-oaredboat, and they stayed out there all night. The same evening thatThorodd went from home, it happened at Froda, when folk went to sit bythe fires that had been made, that they saw a seal's head rise up outof the fireplace. A maid-servant was the first who came forward andsaw this marvel; she took a washing-bat which lay beside the door, andstruck the seal's head with this, but it rose up at the blow and gazedat Thorgunna's bed-hangings. Then one of the men went up and beat theseal, but it rose higher at every blow until it had come up above thefins; then the man fell into a swoon, and all those who were presentwere filled with fear. Then the lad Kjartan sprang forward, took up alarge iron sledge-hammer and struck at the seal's head; it was a heavyblow, but it only shook its head, and looked round. Then Kjartan gaveit stroke after stroke, and the seal went down as though he weredriving in a stake. Kjartan hammered away till the seal went down sofar that he beat the floor close again above its head, and during therest of the winter all the portents were most afraid of Kjartan.Next morning, while Thorodd and the others were coming in from Nesswith the fish, they were all lost out from Enni; the boat and the fishdrove on shore there, but the bodies were never found. When the newsof this reached Froda, Kjartan and Thurid invited their neighbours tothe funeral banquet, and the ale prepared for Christmas was used forthis purpose. The first evening of the feast, however, after the folkhad taken their seats, there came into the hall Thorodd and hiscompanions, all dripping wet. The folk greeted Thorodd well, thinkingthis a good omen, for at that time it was firmly believed that drownedmen, who came to their own funeral feast, were well received by Ran,the sea-goddess; and the old beliefs had as yet suffered little,though folk were baptised and called Christians.Thorodd and his fellows went right along the hall where the folk sat,and passed into the one where the fires were, answering no man'sgreeting. Those of the household who were in the hall ran out, andThorodd and his men sat down beside the fires, where they remainedtill they had fallen into ashes; then they went away again. Thisbefel every evening while the banquet lasted, and there was much talkabout it among those who were present. Some thought that it wouldstop when the feast was ended. When the banquet was over the guestswent home, leaving the place very dull and dismal.On the evening after they had gone, the fires were kindled as usual,and after they had burned up, there came in Thorodd with his company,all of them wet. They sat down by the fire and began to wring theirclothes; and after they had sat down there came in Thorir Wooden-legand his five companions, all covered with earth. They shook theirclothes and scattered the earth on Thorodd and his fellows. The folkof the household rushed out of the hall, as might be expected, and allthat evening they had no light nor any warmth from the fire.Next evening the fires were made in the other hall, as the dead menwould be less likely to come there; but this was not so, foreverything happened just as it had done on the previous evening, andboth parties came to sit by the fires.On the third evening Kjartan advised that a large fire should be madein the hall, and a little fire in another and smaller room. This wasdone, and things then went on in this fashion, that Thorodd and theothers sat beside the big fire, while the household contentedthemselves with the little one, and this lasted right throughChristmas-tide.By this time there was more and more noise in the pile of fish, andthe sound of them being torn was heard both by night and day. Sometime after this it was necessary to take down some of the fish, andthe man who went up on the pile saw this strange thing, that up out ofthe pile there came a tail, in appearance like a singed ox-tail. Itwas black and covered with hair like a seal. The man laid hold of itand pulled, and called on the others to come and help him. Othersthen got up on the heap, both men and women, and pulled at the tail,but all to no purpose. It seemed to them that the tail was dead, butwhile they tugged at it, it flew out of their hands taking the skinoff the palms of those who had been holding it hardest, and no morewas ever seen of the tail. The fish were then taken up and every onewas found to be torn out of the skin, yet no living thing was to befound in the pile.Following upon this, Thorgrima Charm-cheek, the wife of Thorir Wooden-leg, fell ill, and lay only a little while before she died, and thesame evening that she was buried she was seen in company with herhusband Thorir. The sickness then began a second time after the tailhad been seen, and now the women died more than the men. Another sixpersons died in this attack, and some fled away on account of theghosts and the hauntings. In the autumn there had been thirty in thehousehold, of whom eighteen were dead, and five had run away, leavingonly seven behind in the spring.When these marvels had reached this pitch, it happened one day thatKjartan went to Helga-fell to see his uncle Snorri, and asked hisadvice as to what should be done. There had then come to Helga-fell apriest whom Gizurr the white had sent to Snorri, and this priestSnorri sent to Froda along with Kjartan, his son Thord, and six othermen. He also gave them this advice, that they should burn allThorgunna's bed-hangings and hold a law court at the door, and thereprosecute all those men who were walking after death. He also badethe priest hold service there, consecrate water, and confess thepeople. They summoned men from the nearest farms to accompany them,and arrived at Froda on the evening before Candlemas, just at the timewhen the fires were being kindled. Thurid the housewife had thentaken the sickness after the same fashion as those who had died.Kjartan went in at once, and saw that Thorodd and the others weresitting by the fire as usual. He took down Thorgunna's bed-hangings,went into the hall, and carried out a live coal from the fire: thenall the bed-gear that Thorgunna had owned was burned.After this Kjartan summoned Thorir Wooden-leg, and Thord summonedThorodd, on the charge of going about the homestead without leave, anddepriving men of both health and life; all those who sat beside thefire were summoned in the same way. Then a court was held at thedoor, in which the charges were declared, and everything done as in aregular law court; opinions were given, the case summed up, andjudgment passed. After sentence had been pronounced on Thorir Wooden-leg, he rose up and said: "Now we have sat as long as we can bear".After this he went out by the other door from that at which the courtwas held. Then sentence was passed on the shepherd, and when he heardit he stood up and said: "Now I shall go, and I think it would havebeen better before". When Thorgrima heard sentence pronounced on her,she rose up and said: "Now we have stayed while it could be borne".Then one after another was summoned, and each stood up as judgment wasgiven upon him; all of them said something as they went out, andshowed that they were loath to part. Finally sentence was passed onThorodd himself, and when he heard it, he rose and said: "Littlepeace I find here, and let us all flee now," and went out after that.Then Kjartan and the others entered and the priest carried holy waterand sacred relics over all the house. Later on in the day he heldsolemn service, and after this all the hauntings and ghost-walkings atFroda ceased, while Thurid recovered from her sickness and became wellagain.