The Tale of Geirmund the Hel-skinned

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Author: Daniel White
Date: Fall 2018
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Document Type: Folktale
Length: 2,757 words
Lexile Measure: 1100L

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Chapter 1

Geirmund the Hel-skinned was the son of King Hjor, son of that Half for whom Half's heroes were named, (1) who was himself the son of King Hjorleif Another son of King Hjor was Hamund who was also called the Hel-skinned. They were twins.

Here is the story of why they came to be known as Hel-skinned. At one time, when King Hjor was obliged to attend a meeting of kings, his queen was pregnant and gave birth to two boys while the king was abroad. They were both extremely large in size, and bizarre and ugly in appearance. However, as no-one thought they had ever seen such dark skin as these boys had, it was decided that this was the ugliest thing about them. The queen paid little attention to the boys, and she felt no affection towards them.

Lodhott was the name of the one slave who managed the other slaves there. This slave was married: his wife also gave birth to a son while the queen had been giving birth, and this boy which the slave's wife had was so strangely fair that the queen thought she could not see a blemish on the boy. She now felt more affection for this boy than her own.

Thus, the queen decided to exchange boys with the maidservant. The maidservant was of one mind with the queen in thinking her son was more worth having, but did not dare to refuse to exchange boys with the queen. The queen took the maidservant's son and had him given a name, calling the boy Leif The queen said this boy was her own son. The maidservant took the queen's sons, and they were raised in the straw there like the children of other slaves until they were three winters old. Leif lived a life of luxury, and received the respect due to a king's child. But then as all the boys grew up together, Leif struggled whereas Hamund and Geirmund came into their own the more they aged, and thus each drew more from their own family.

Chapter 2

It is mentioned that one time Bragi the poet (2) attended a feast given by King Hjor and was with the king for some time. It is said that one day the king and his men went on a hunt for animals with the retinue and few men remained in the hall. Bragi the poet was at home and sat on the raised dais with an old rod in his hand and played with it as he hid in his coat. The queen lay on a wall-pallet at the perimeter of the hall and was so covered with bedclothes that none could have known she was there unless they had prior knowledge. Leif sat in the high-seat and played with a gold ring. Hamund and Geirmund sat in the straw watching how Leif played with the ring. They did not see anyone else in the hall.

Then Geirmund said to...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A566561146