(Essentials of European Literature)

When young Aslak Gunnarsson came to Hestviken with the tale that he had slain a man, Olav Audunsson was not minded to shelter an outlaw. Nevertheless, he and Aslak had fought side by side in Duke Eirik’s war, and he remembered his own outlawry in his younger days. So Aslak stayed at Hestviken that winter.

Cecilia Olavsdatter and Bothild, her foster sister, found Aslak such pleasant company that at last Olav began to believe that the dalesman and his daughter were friendlier than was needful. He was not sorry when he heard that Aslak’s family had paid atonement for the killing and the time came for his guest to return home. When Aslak begged to return with his kinsmen and ask for Cecilia’s hand, Olav spoke kindly but gave him no hope for his suit.

Late in the summer Eirik came home, bringing with him Jorund Rypa, his friend. Olav had no great liking for Jorund because of an act of boyish disloyalty to Eirik years before, but Jorund’s pleasant manners and courteous speech made Olav feel that perhaps he had been mistaken in his judgment. When Jorund rode back to his family’s manor at Gunnarsby, it was understood that his brothers would soon return to declare his suit for Cecilia.

Meanwhile, Eirik had become lustfully attracted to Bothild and, to her distress, he wooed her with boorish rudeness. One night they went on an errand to Rundmyr farm. On the way back she tried to evade him, fell, and began to vomit blood. Then Eirik learned for the first time that she was ill with the wasting sickness. Remorseful, he left Hestviken. Bothild died shortly before Yule. Early in the new year Eirik returned, determined to make amends by asking Bothild’s hand in marriage. Filled with feelings of guilt for her death, he suddenly decided to become a monk.

Olav was well pleased with Eirik’s decision. For years he had brooded because a false heir, Ingunn’s son by Teit, would inherit after him. Perhaps, he thought, God was protecting Cecilia’s rights. Also, his unconfessed guilt in the secret murder of Teit had weighed upon him for years; now there might be a time when he could make contrition by confessing the father’s slaying to the son. Then, if Eirik accepted him, all might be well.

The news of Eirik’s intention speeded Jorund’s wooing, for Cecilia would be a rich heiress; before long she journeyed to Gunnarsby for her wedding feast. Olav, seeing the great manor Jorund shared with his brothers, was well satisfied with her marriage.

Eirik, however, made a poor novice after all, so that the convent brothers sent him home. Meanwhile Cecilia had not been happy among the brawling Rypas at Gunnarsby. Shortly before the birth of her second child, she and Jorund begged to be allowed to live at Hestviken. Jorund proved a poor son-in-law and husband-man. When Olav sent Eirik to collect some debts in Oslo, Jorund went with him and fell into old habits of dicing and drinking. Before they returned, he...

(The entire section is 1212 words.)