Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
After Olav Audunsson receives his wife Ingunn from her kin, he returns with her to Hestviken to claim his inheritance. Lime trees are in blossom, and their scent brings back to him childhood memories of the manor that had not been his home since he was seven years old. Hestviken, on a ridge above Oslo fjord, was a place of chieftains. One of the heirlooms of Viking days is a wood carving showing legendary Gunnar surrounded by vipers in the pit where Atle threw him.
While Olav was growing up as Steinfinn’s foster son at Frettastein and during his years of warring and outlawry, an aged kinsman lived at Hestviken. Old Olav, called Half-Priest because he studied for the Church before an accident crippled him, was more clerk than franklin. Under his stewardship the manor does not prosper, and young Olav has less wealth than he expects. Still, Hestviken is a rich homestead, and so he cheerfully sets about repairing the houses, increasing his herds, and outfitting boats to trade by sea. Besides, he likes Olav Half-Priest and spends many evenings listening to stories of his ancestors and their deeds in the old days.
Olav Half-Priest knew four generations of the Hestviken men, and his greatest wish, as he often tells Ingunn, is to see her son and Olav’s before his death. The child Ingunn has the summer the old man dies lives only a few seconds. In the next four years she has three more children, all stillborn. During part of that time Olav is away...
(The entire section is 1222 words.)
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