Fog had hid the highest cliff-tops,
Made a secret of the mountains,
Fold on fold the white fleece mantle
Made a cloak for giant’s shoulders.
All alone the Romsdal rider
Rode up to the fear-dark forest —
There before her open death-door
Thorstein stopped his horse to tether.
Thorstein hoped that luck would love him
As he stepped into the darkness,
For he thought a hive of killers
Must be waiting in the forest.
Fifteen men in arms together
There had vanished at the new-moon,
Never more were seen in sunlight;
How could one man face such danger?
Thorstein stole along the pathway
Sought his fate beneath the branches
Where the hunting night-wolf wanders,
Red-toothed howling over blood-prey.
Through the world of shadow walking
Thorstein saw part from the path-way
Branching off a crooked by-way,
Twixt the trees there twisting, turning.
Turning Thorstein took the byway,
Long he followed where it led him,
Till he came into a clearing
Where a horn-beamed hall was standing.
Thorstein thought then as he stood there:
"He who holds the horn-beamed hall here
Hunts upon the forest highway
Hails to hell-death hard-helmed fighters.”
So beneath its large fir lintel
Thorstein passed, and there before him,
Lay a table white with linen,
Bright with silver cup and platter.
Finest food awaited someone,
And a big bed, richly curtained;
Thorstein thought by its dimensions
Great must be the man who sleeps there.
Piled betwixt the bed and chimney
On the wide board floor were lying
Many chests and huge sacks bulging,
All with pillage overflowing —
Saxon silver, cloth from Friesland,
Furs from Jamtland, combs of antler,
Saddles, spears and strong steel mail-coats,
Woven belts, and Viking ingots.
Night was falling in the forest
And the hearth-fire low was burning,
Thorstein stirred the flickering flame up,
For this foe unknown sat waiting.
Then he heard a horse-hoof clatter,
Drawing toward him through the forest,
So he climbed among the treasures,
Nestled down mid sacks and boxes.