-From 23-
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, kind sir.'

'Why are you here?' asked Bodvar. 'Or what are you doing?'

Hott reply was, 'I am making myself a shield wall, kind sir.'

'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 moment.

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 cause.

'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 Bodvar.'

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 place?'

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 him food.'

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 livestock.'

Hott said, 'It is not an animal, rather it is the greatest of trolls.'