As the goat upon the mountain,
As the long-ship on the wave-road,
As the sword in battle swinging
So the poet’s swift in speaking.
Then he came, the great hall owner.
From his covert Thorstein saw him,
Tall and warlike, long hair falling,
Gold around his giant shoulders.
Like a king he led his horse in,
Striding through the massive doorway,
Took to stall his mountain racer,
Turned at last to his own table.
Hilt and pommel of his short-sword
Thorstein saw with blood upon them,
And his hands stained cloth and water
As he washed them in a basin.
Then he filled a glinting goblet —
By the fire-gleam drank the vine’s blood:
Held a feast with manner regal
In the dark hall full of treasure.
Here no song, no bright hall-laughter
Sounded, ringing to the rafters;
But the forest deep with shadow,
In the night-wind sang then softly
When the stranger to his hearth came,
Saw the glowing gold-red coal-bed,
Said he, ‘Someone stirred my fire up,
Set the log-foe fiercely flaming.
Dauntless men have come to hunt me,
Come to rive my breath from body;
They have cause to seek my life-blood,
Send my spirit down in sword-sleep."
With his tongs he took an ember,
Held aloft the red-coal glowing,
Cast a light upon the timbers,
Of the mighty forest dwelling.
Every shadow, black, foreboding,
Could be hiding some avenger;
On the beams the dragon carvings
Leered at him with greedy hunger.
When he came to where was lying
All his pillage and provisions,
Thorstein stole from out the packing
Through a cleft behind the chimney.
He escaped the threatening searcher
In the fog-cloak of the forest,
Sat and smiled and blessed his smallness
In the night outside the death-hall.
Three times through the great hall owner
Searched his hall with smouldering ember,
Three times through the highway-hunter,
Sought the hero who would hunt him.
Said he 'My mind's dark as midnight
I will leave things as they're lying —
Yet I fear my own heart's counsel
Will betray me before morning.'
Thorstein watched him loose his short-sword
Through the cloven chimney hatchway,
Saw him hang it by the headboard,
Sharp to pour warm wine for ravens.
Spell-bound Thorstein looked upon it,
Shining, biting, sharp wound-maker,
And he listened for the breathing
Soft and even of a sleeper.
All fell dark -- to prove his slumber,
Thorstein scratched as midnight-mouse scrapes --
Listened -- heard the robber turning,
Stirring in his dreams of ambush.
Then again to prove his slumber
Thorstein made a clanking clatter;
Less he stirred, the long-haired sleeper,
And he dreamed of red wounds flowing.
Then he crossed the boards more boldly,
And he struck a blow like thunder
On the bedpost of the sleeper,
Who lay still, and dreamed of grave-worms.
Had he stol'n away in darkness
Left his death-den? Thorstein wondered;
So again he stirred the embers,
By their low light saw him lying.
Never had he seen his equal —
Taller, stronger than old Ketil,
In a silk shirt of Samarcand,
Hair like gold embroidery glistening.
As to take a crown of silver,
Seven year’s work of a master,
And to cast it in the ocean,
So it seemed, to kill this stranger.
But the words of grey-haired Ketil
Followed Thorstein to the forest,
From the Fjord in grey-cliff’s shadow,
From the grass-capped hall in Romsdal.
'Greater honor to our family
Would a man be great of spirit,
Not a man like little Thorstein
Who knows sword-play like a woman.'
Thorstein reached to take the short-sword,
Grasped the sword made sharp for slaughter,
Tempered with the blood of strangers
By the man who lay beside it,
Clenched the hilt and raised his hand up
As a priest would, or a murderer:
Brought it down and broke his breastbone,
Stabbed the sword straight through the sleeper.
Thorstein’s sword-thrust tore through silk shirt,
Thrilled through heart-chest, struck the bed-board.
All at once he felt five fingers
Seize his arm and pull him upward.
I don't know of any illustrations to this story but, here's an illustration from another saga that could be of the robber thinking in bed.