Felicitas: A Tale of the German Migrations, A.D. 476

Macmillan and Company

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Macmillan and Company
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Dec 31, 1883
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The SAGA OF HALFRED THE SIGSKALD is tale of the Tenth Century.
A Long time ago, there was growing up in the North; a boy named Halfred. In Iceland, on the Hamund Fjord, stood the splendid hall of his father, Hamund.

At that time elves and goblins still moved about freely among the Northern nations. And many say that an elf, who had been friendly to the powerful Hamund, drew near to the cradle of the boy Halfred, and laid wild honey upon his lips, and said--
"Victory shall be thine in harping--
Victory shall be thine in singing--
Sigskald shall all nations name thee."
But it is believed that this is a mere idle tale of the heathen people.

Halfred grew, and was strong and beautiful. He often sat alone on the cliffs, and listened how the wind played in rifts in the crags, and he would fain have tuned his harp to the same strain, and because he could not do it he was filled with frustration.

When his father died Halfred took the seat of honour in the hall. But he took no heed to preserve or improve his inheritance. He gave himself up to harp playing and feats of arms. He devised a new strain in singing, "Halfred's strain," which greatly charmed all who heard it. And in hatchet throwing, not one of the men of Iceland could equal him. He could dash his hammer through three shields, and he would not miss with an arrow.

His mind was now set upon building a dragon ship, strong and splendid, worthy of a Viking, wherein he might go-a-Viking, or to play his harp in the halls of kings. And through many a night he considered how he should build his ship, but could devise a plan. Yet the image of the ship was always before his eyes, with prow and stem, with board and bow; and instead of a dragon it must carry a silver swan on the prow.

One morning, he came out of the hall, and looked out over the Fjord, towards the north, there, from the south-south-east, came floating into Hamund's Bay a mighty ship, with swelling sails. Then Halfred and his house-churls seized their weapons, and hurried to their ships. Ever nearer the ship came, but neither helmet nor spear flashed on board, and though they shouted through the trumpet all was still. Halfred and his followers rowed to the great ship, and saw that it was empty, and they climbed on board. This was the most splendid dragon ship that ever spread sail on the salt seas. But instead of a dragon it bore a silver swan upon the prow.

This was the ship that Halfred  had seen in his dreams with forty oars in iron rowlocks. The deck was pavillioned with shields, the sails purple-striped, the prow carved with runes, and the ropes of sea-dogs' skin. The high-arched silver wings of the swan were gloriously carved, and the wind rushed through them with a melodious sound.

Halfred sprang up to the seat of honour on the upper-deck, upon which lay spread a purple royal mantle. A silver harp, with a swan's head, leaned against it, and he said:

"Singing Swan shalt thou be called, my ship;
Singing and victorious shalt thou sail."

And so begins the Saga of Halfred the Sigskald…….
10% of the net sale will be donated to charities by the publisher.
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