Norway, meanwhile, was convulsed by war; and what perhaps was of more immediate consequence, Svend Fork-beard, whom we Englishmen call Sweyn the renegade from that Christian Faith which had been forced on him by his German conqueror, the Emperor Otto II. with his illustrious son Cnut, whom we call Canute, were just calling together all the most daring spirits of the Baltic coasts for the subjugation of England; and when that great feat was performed, the Scandinavian emigration was paralysed, probably, for a time by the fearful wars at home.
"I came of myself. But my father waits you, Olaf." So I went to where the lord Athalbrand Fork-beard was dismounting, and greeted him, lifting my cap. "What!" grumbled Athalbrand, who seemed to be in an ill temper, "are you Olaf? I should scarcely have known you again, lad, for you look more like a wisp of hay tied on a stick than a man.
But the patriotism of the Norseman always recoiled, even though in secret, from the fact that they were German monks, backed by the authority of the German emperor; and many a man, like Svend Fork-beard, father of the great Canute, though he had the Kaiser himself for godfather, turned heathen once more the moment he was free, because his baptism was the badge of foreign conquest, and neither pope nor kaiser should lord it over him, body or soul.
They know Face-of-god, and were liefer of him for War-leader than any other, and they will follow him wheresoever he leadeth. Thus my kindred biddeth me say, and I hight Fork-beard of Lea. If I live through this war, I shall have lived through five.
The next of which a vision has come to me is one of a somewhat similar house to our own in Aar, upon an island called Lesso, where we were all visiting a chief of the name of Athalbrand. He was a fierce-looking man with a great forked beard, from which he was called Athalbrand Fork-beard.