Bodvar and His Brothers
(The Bone Pile)
Bodvar continued on his way to Hleidargard. After arriving
at the king's royal residence, he immediately stabled his
horse in the stall with the king's best mounts without asking
anyone's permission. Then he entered the hall, where there
were only a few men. He sat down near the entrance, and, after
he had been there for a short time, he heard a noise coming
from somewhere in the corner. Bodvar looked in that direction
and saw a man's hand emerging from a huge pile of bones lying
there. The hand was very black.
Bodvar walked over to the corner and asked who was in the
bone pile. He was answered, though timidly, 'My name is Hott,
'Why are you here?' asked Bodvar. 'Or what are you doing?'
Hott reply was, 'I am making myself a shield wall, kind
'You and your shield wall are pathetic,' said Bodvar. He
grabbed hold of the man and yanked him out of the bone pile.
Hott screamed loudly and then said, 'You are acting as though
you want me dead, since I had prepared my defenses so well.
Now you have broken my shield wall into pieces even though
I had built it so high around me that it protected me against
all your blows. No blow has reached me now for some time,
yet the wall was not as complete as I had intended it to be.'
Bodvar said, 'You will no longer build your shield wall.'
Hott replied, 'Are you going to kill me now, kind sir?'
Bodvar, telling Hott to be quiet, picked him up and carried
him from the hall to a nearby lake. Few paid attention to
this. Bodvar washed Hott completely and then returned to the
same place on the bench where he had sat previously. He led
Hott there and sat him down beside himself. Hott was so scared
that all his limbs and joints trembled, although he seemed
to understand that this man wanted to help him.
Later in the evening men crowded into the hall. Hrolf's
champions saw that Hott had been seated on one of the benches,
and it seemed to them that the man who had undertaken to do
that was indeed brave. Hott cast a fearful glace in the direction
of his old acquaintances, for he had received only harm from
them. Afraid for his life, he tried to get back to his bone
pile, but Bodvar held onto Hott and he was unable to get away.
Hott thought that if he could manage to get to the heap of
bones, he would not be so exposed to the men's blows.
The king's men now took up their old habits. At first they
threw small bones across the floor at Bodvar and Hott. Bodvar
acted as if he saw nothing. Hott was so frightened that he
took neither food nor drink, expecting to be struck at any
Then Hott said to Bodvar, 'Kind sir, here comes a large
knuckle bone, which is intended to do us much harm.'
Bodvar told Hott to be quiet. He cupped his hand and caught
the knuckle bone, which included the attached leg bone. Bodvar
threw the knuckle back, and it smashed with such force into
the man who had thrown it that he was killed. The king's men
were struck with fear.
King Hrolf and his champions up in the fortress were now
told that an imposing man had arrived in the hall and had
killed one of the king's retainers. The other retainers wanted
to have the man put to death.
The king asked whether his follower had been killed without
'Almost,' they said.
Then the full truth came out. King Hrolf said that by no
means should this man be killed: 'It is a bad habit that you
have adopted, throwing bones at innocent men. It brings dishonor
to me and shame to you. I have repeatedly spoken to you about
this matter, but you have paid no attention. I suspect that
this man, whom you have now attacked, is no weakling. Summon
him to me, so that I can find out who he is.'
Bodvar went before the king and greeted him artfully. The
king asked for his name.
'Your retainers call me Hott's protector, but my name is
The king said, 'What compensation are you prepared to offer
me for my man?'
Bodvar replied, 'He got what he deserved.'
The king said, 'Do you want to be my man and occupy his
Bodvar answered, 'I will not refuse to become your man,
but Hott and I will not, as matters stand, be separated. We
will both sit closer to you on the benches than that man did,
or else we both leave.'
The king said, 'I see no honor in him, but I will not begrudge
Bodvar now chose a seat that pleased him, not bothering
to sit in the place the other man had occupied. At one point
he pulled three men up out of their seats, and then he and
Hott sat down in their places. They had now moved much farther
into the hall than earlier. Men thought Bodvar difficult to
deal with, and there was strong resentment against him.
As Yuletime drew near, gloom settled over the men. Bodvar
asked Hott what caused of their dejection. Hott told him that
a huge, monsterous beast had come there the past two winters.
'The creature has wings on its back and it usually flies.
For two autumns now it has come here, causing much damage.
No weapon can bite into it, and the king's champions, even
the greatest among them, do not return home.
Bodvar said, 'The hall is not so well manned as I had thought,
if one animal alone could destroy the king's lands and his
Hott said, 'It is not an animal, rather it is the greatest