The Northern Way

A Cure for Love-Sickness


from Ívars þáttr Ingimundarsonar

In the instance now to be related it can be observed what a wonder man King Eystein was, how loyal to his friends, and how thoughtful and ingenious he was in finding out from them what grieved them. There was a man with him named Ivar, the son of Ingimund, an Icelander by race and well born by family, a wise man and a good poet. The king valued him highly and showed his affection, as will be seen.

Thorfin was the name of Ivar´s brother. He went abroad to meet King Eystein and was well recieved on account of his brother. But Thorfin was displeased that he should not be considered his brother´s equal, but have to depend upon his brother´s position. He was therefore not happy at the court, but prepared to return to Iceland.

Before the brothers separated, Ivar asked Thorfin to take a message to Oddny Johanns-daughter that she wait for him and marry no other. He intimated that he was more interested in her than in any other woman.

Thorfin then went out to Iceland and had a good voyage. He took this course, to ask for Oddny for himself, and he married her.

A little later Ivar came out and learned of this and thought Thorfin had kept his faith badly. He did not like to stay and therefore went back to King Eystein and was in good favour with him as before.

He took now to great sorrow, and when the king found this out he fetched Ivar for a private talk with himself and asked why he was so unhappy. "Before, when you were with us, there was always great fun in your conversation, and I will not conceal that I do not know that we have done any worse to you. As wise a man as you will not draw suspicion of what is not. And now tell me what it is the matter."

Ivar answered, "What the cause is, sire, I must not speak about."

The king said: "I will then guess. Are there some men here whom you do not get on with?"

"It is not that, sire," said Ivar.

The king said: "Do you think that you received from me less honour than you desire?"

He said it was not that.

The king asked: "Have you seen something in this country that has troubled you so much?"

He allowed that it was not so.

"It now becomes difficult to guess," said the king. "Do you want to have the management of some estates?"

He denied that.

"Are there any women in your country," said the king, "whom you are longing after?"

He answered: "So it is, sire."

The king said: "Do not be distressed on that account. Fare you out there as soon as it is spring. I will provide you both with money and with a letter carrying my seal to those men who manage this woman's affairs. I know of no likelihood of those men refusing, after our greetings or our threats, to marry the woman to you."

Ivar answered, "This cannot be."

The king spoke. "On no account," said the king; "I shall add that even though another man possess her, still I can get her, if I wish, for yourself."

Ivar said, "The case is more serious than that, sire. My brother now has the woman."

Then the king said: "We will turn away from that. I see now a good plan; after Jule I will go on travels to gather the tributes, and you will go with me and you will see many gentle ladies, and, if thy are not princesses, I will get you one of them."

Ivar answered, "Sire, what makes my case still more serious is that constantly, whenever I see beautiful women, I am reminded of that woman. This always makes my grief greater."

The king said: "I will give you some management and an estate, as I offered you before, that you may have pleasure in looking after it."

He replied, "I would not enjoy it."

The king said: "Then I will get you merchandise and you can make trading trips to whatever land you wish."

He allowed that he did not want that.

Then the king said: "This is now becoming rather difficult for me. I have tried whatever I can think of. There is only one thing left and it is of very little consequence compared to those things that I have offered you. And I am no longer certain that I can guess what is most likely to benefit you. Come now to me every day when the tables are set, if I am not sitting over affairs of state, and I will gossip with you. We shall talk about this woman, in every way that you wish and may remember, and I will reserve leisure time for this, because it sometimes happens that men's grief becomes lighter if they can discuss it. And this shall also come to pass, that you shall never go from our meeting without a gift."

Ivar answered, "That I desire, sire, and you have my sincere thanks for your inquiry."

And so they did. When the king was not sitting over affairs of state, then he talked often about this woman with Ivar, and matters improved greatly. Ivar's sorrow grew lighter in a short time, and, after a while, he was glad and happy. He came back to the same state of mind as he had been in before, as to entertainment and good cheer. And he remained at the court with King Eystein.

© 2000 Hringari Oðinssen


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