Bjorn's Transformation into a Bear and the Birth of Bodvar

Then Bjorn disappeared, and no one knew what had become of him. When people realized that Bjorn was missing, they searched for him. As might have been expected, he was not to be found.

Next to be told is that the king's cattle were being killed in large numbers by a gray bear, large and fierce. One evening it happened that Bera, the freeman's daughter, saw the savage bear. It approached her unthreateningly. She thought she recognized in the bear the eyes of Bjorn, the king's son, and so she did not try to run away. The beast then moved away from her, but she followed it all the way until it came to a cave.

When she entered the cave, a man was standing there. He greeted Bera, the freeman's daughter, and she recognized that he was Bjorn Hring's son. Theirs was a joyful reunion. For a time they stayed together in the cave, because she did not want to part from him while she still had a choice. He told her it was not right for her to be there with him, because he was a beast by day, even if he again became a man at night.

King Hring, when he returned home from the wars, was told everything that had happened while he was away. He learned about the disappearance of his son Bjorn. He was also told about the huge creature that had arrived in the land, attacking mostly the king's own livestock. The queen strongly urged killing the animal, but this was delayed for a time. The king expressed no opinion, even though he thought the events most unusual.

One night, while Bera and the prince lay in their bed, Bjorn began to speak, 'I suspect that tomorrow will be my death's day, for they will hunt and trap me. In truth, I find no pleasure in living because of the curse that lies upon me. You are my only delight, but that too will now cease. I want to give you the ring that is under my left arm. Tomorrow you will see the men stalking me. When I am dead, go to the king and ask him to give you whatever is under the beast's left shoulder; he will grant you this request.'

'The queen,' Bjorn continued, 'will be suspicious of you when you want to leave. She will try to make you eat some of the bear's meat, but you must not eat it, because, as you well know, you are pregnant and will give birth to three boys. They are ours, and it will be obvious from their appearance if you have eaten any of the bear's meat. This queen is a great troll.' Then go home to your father, where you will give birth to the boys, one of whom will seem best to you. If you are not able to raise them at home, because of their strange and uncontrollable natures, bring them here to the cave. You will find here a chest with three bottoms. Runes are carved on it, and they will tell what each of the boys should receive as his inheritance. Three weapons are imbedded in the rock, and each of our sons shall have the one intended for him. Our firstborn will be called Elk-Frodi, the second son, Thorir, and the third, Bodvar. It seems most likely that they will not be weaklings and that their names will long be remembered.'

Bjorn foretold many things to her, and afterwards the bear-shape came over him. Then the bear went out, and she followed him.

When she looked around, she saw a great company of men circling the side of the mountain. A large pack of hounds raced in front of the men, and now the bear began to run. Turning away from the cave, he ran along the slope of the mountain. The hounds and the king's men gave chase, but the bear proved difficult for them to catch. Before he was overtaken he maimed many men and killed all the dogs.

At last the men formed a ring around him. The bear ranged about inside the ring but understood the situation and knew that he would not be able to escape. Then he attacked in the direction of the king. Grabbing the man who stood next to the king, he ripped the man apart while still alive. By then the bear was so exhausted that he threw himself down on the ground. The men seized the opportunity and quickly killed him.

The freeman's daughter saw these events. She went up to the king and said, 'Sire, will you give me what is under the beast's left shoulder?'

The king granted her request, saying that nothing there could be unsuitable to give to her. By then, the king's men were well along in flaying the bear. Bera went to the carcass and took the ring, hiding it carefully. The men did not see what she took, but then, no one was paying much attention.

The king asked who Bera was, because he did not recognize her. She gave whatever answer she thought best, although it was not the truth.

The king then returned home and Bera found herself swept along among his followers. The queen, now very cheerful, made Bera welcome, inquiring who she was. As before, Bera concealed the truth.

The queen prepared a great feast and had the bear meat readied for the men's enjoyment. The freeman's daughter was in the queen's chamber, unable to get away because the queen was suspicious about her identity. Sooner than expected, the queen entered the room with a plate of bear meat. She told Bera to eat, but Bera did not want to eat.

'How uncommonly rude,' said the queen, 'that you reject the hospitality that the queen herself has chosen to offer you. Eat it quickly, otherwise something worse will be prepared for you.'

The queen cut a small piece of the meat for Bera, and in the end Bera ate it. The queen then cut another piece and put it into Bera's mouth. Bera swallowed a small morsel of it then spat the rest out of her mouth. She declared that she would not eat any more, even if she were to be tortured or killed. 'It may be,' said the queen, 'that this bit will be enough,' and she burst out laughing.

Bera then escaped and went home to her father. She had a very difficult pregnancy. She told her father the whole story relating to her condition and the reasons for what had happened. A little while later she fell ill and gave birth to a boy, though of an extraordinary kind. He was a man above the navel, but an elk below that. He was named Elk-Frodi. She bore another son, who was named Thorir. He had dog's feet from his insteps down. Because of this, he was called Thorir Hound's Foot; otherwise, he was the most handsome of men. A third boy was born, and this one was the most promising. He was named Bodvar, and there was no blemish on him. Bera loved Bodvar the most.

The boys shot up like weeds. When they were at the games with other men, they were fierce and unyielding in everything. Men received rough treatment at their hands. Frodi maimed many of the king's men, and some of them he killed. So matters continued until the boys were twelve years old. By then, because they were so strong that none of the king's men could stand up to them, they were no longer permitted to take part in the games.

Next Frodi told his mother that he wanted to leave, because, 'I am not able to contest with the men. They are nothing but fools, easily injured as soon as they are touched.'

She said that his being among people did not suit him because he had an unyielding nature. His mother took him to the cave. She showed him the treasure that his father had intended to him, for Bjorn had long before determined what each son should have. Frodi, whose his allotted share of the wealth was the smallest, wanted to take more but was unable to do so. Then he saw the weapons protruding from the rock. First he grasped the sword hilt, but it remained fast in the stone, and he was unable to remove it. Next he seized the axe handle, but it too remained fast in the stone.

Then Elk-Frodi said, 'The one who brought these treasures here seems to have intended that the division of weapons should follow along the same lines as the division of the other property.'

He grasped the handle of the remaining weapon, a short sword that came loose at once. He looked at the sword for a while, and then said, 'The one who divided these treasures was unjust.'

Taking hold of the sword with both hands, he struck at the rock, intending to smash the weapon to pieces. But the sword without breaking plunged into the stone right up to the hilt. Then Elk-Frodi said, 'No matter how I wield this nasty thing, it clearly knows how to bite.' After that he set out on his way, parting without even bidding his mother farewell. Frodi went to a road high in the mountains, where he attacked travellers, killing for money. He built himself a hut and settled in.