Translated by George L. Hardman, 2011
Chapter 1. Gest Comes to King Olaf
It is said that at one time, when King Olaf Tryggvason was staying in Thrandheim, it so happened that a man came to him as day was drawing to an end, and spoke to him honorably. The king received him well, and asked who he was, and he said that he was named Gest. The king answered: "You shall be a guest here, whatever your name is." Gest answered: "I say my name truly, sire, and I will gladly accept your hospitality, if possible." The king said to him that he was ready. But since the day was ending, the king did not want to talk to his guest, since he was going straight to his evening-songs and then to eat and then to rest and quiet. And on the same night King Olaf Trygvasson was awake in his bed and reading his prayers, when everyone else was sleeping in the room. Then the king thought that some sort of elf or spirit had come into the house, even though all the doors were locked. He came before the bed of each man sleeping there, and finally he came to the bed of one man who was lying there near the entrance. Then the elf stopped and said: "A wonderfully strong lock here, before an empty house, and the king is not so wise about such things as others say, even if he is the wisest of all men, and sleeps now so soundly." Then he disappeared through the locked door. Early the next morning the king sent his servant to ascertain, who had occupied this bed during the night; it proved to be that the guest had lain there. The king had him called before him, and asked whose son he was. He answered: "My father was named Thord, and was called 'Thingbitr,' because he was so argumentative at the assembly. He was of Danish ancestry. He lived at a farm in Denmark that was called Graening."
"Good-looking man, you are," said the king.
Gest was bold in words and more than other men before, strong, and somewhat advanced in age. He asked the king to stay there longer with his men. The king asked if he was Christian. Gest said that he had been christened but not baptized. The king said that he should be baptized with his troops, --"for you must be unbaptized for only a short time with me." The elf had spoken so about the lock, because Gest had crossed himself in the evening like other men, even though he was actually heathen. The king said: "Do you have any skills?" He said that he played the harp and recited sagas, so that people were pleased. The king said then: "King Sveinn does ill, that he lets unbaptized men travel out of his realm among the lands." Gest answered: "The Danish king has no way of knowing that I traveled out of Denmark long before Kaiser Otto had Denmark burned and tyrannized King Harald Gormsson and Hakon Blotjarl to receive Christianity."
The king asked Gest about many things, and he explained them well and wisely.
People say that this Gest came to King Olaf in the third year of his reign. In that year there came to him also men who were called Grimar, and were sent from Gudmund from Glasir Plain. They brought the king two horns which Gudmund gave to him. They were also called Grim. They also had much business for the king, of which will be spoken later.
Now it is to be said that Gest dwelled with the king. He was placed apart from the guests. He was a good-mannered man and conducted himself well. He was also well liked by most men and well esteemed.
Chapter 2. The Wager of Gest and his Troops
Shortly before Yule, Ulf the Red came home and his men with him. He had been off during the summer on the king's business, since he was assigned to watch over the land in the bays during the fall, in anticipation of an attack by the Danes. He was accustomed to be with King Olaf during the height of winter.
Ulf had brought the king much good treasure, which he had gained during the summer, and he had gotten a gold ring, which was named Hnitud. It was welded together in seven places, and each part had its own color. The gold was much better than other rings. A farmer named Lothmund had given it to Ulf. The ring had previously belonged to King Half, from whom the Halfsrekkar are descended and known. They had forced treasure from King Halfdan in Ylfing. But Lodmund had asked Ulf in return for it, that he guard his farm for him with the assistance of King Olaf. Ulf had agreed to that. The king was now holding a magnificent Yule celebration at his court in Thrandheim. On the eighth day of Yule, Ulf the Red gave the ring Hnitud to King Olaf. The king thanked him for the gift, and for all of his faithful service, which he had always shown him. The ring was circulated widely around the room, where men were drinking, since there were no halls built at that time in Norway. Each man showed it to the other, and it seemed to the men that they had never seen such fine gold as was in the ring. Eventually it came to the guest bench, and so to the stranger Gest. He looked at it and handed it back, in the palm of the hand in which he had previously held his goblet. He did not think much of it, and did not say much about this treasure, but continued to talk merrily as before with his companions. A room servant served drinks at the end of the guest bench. He asked: "Don't you like the ring?" "Quite well," they said, "except for the new arrival Gest. He doesn't find anything in it, and we think that he doesn't appreciate it, since he doesn't notice such things." The room servant went in before the king and told him this in the same words that the guests had used, and that when the new-comer came in, he had taken little notice of the treasure, even when he was shown such a valuable thing. The king said: "The newcomer Gest must know a lot more than you suspect, and he shall come to me in the morning and tell me a story." Now guests at the other end of the table were talking among one another. They asked the newly arrived guest, where he had ever seen such an equally good ring or better. Gest answered: "Since you think it is strange, that I speak so little, I should say that I have seen gold that seems not at all worse, but actually better." Now the king's men laughed a lot and said, that this appeared to be a great entertainment, - "and will you wager us, that you have seen gold which is equally as good as that, so that you can prove it. We will put forth four marks of current silver coins, and you your knife and belt, and the king will say who is right."
Gest then said: "I will not do either, to be in mockery with you, or to fail to hold to the wager, which you offer. And I shall certainly wager right here and lay out against it what you have said, and the king will say who is right." They stopped their discussion. Gest took his harp and played it well, and long into the evening, so that everyone was delighted to hear it, and he played the Gunnarsslag best. At the end he played the ancient Gudrunarbrogd. No one had heard that before. And after that, they went to sleep for the night.
Chapter 3. Gest Wins the Bet
The king got up early in the morning and attended mass. And when it was finished, the king went to eat with his troops. And when he came to the high seat, the guests went in before the king and Gest with them, and told him all about what was said, and the wager, which they had made.
The king answered: "Your wager does not mean much to me, though you have staked your own money on it. I suspect that you had gotten drink in your heads, and it seems to me that you should have nothing of it, all the more if Gest thinks it would be better."
Gest answered: "I want for the whole agreement to be held to."
The king said: "It seems to me, Gest, that my men must have talked themselves into trouble about the matter more than you have, but that will soon be determined."
After that, they went away to drink. And when the drinking tables were taken away, the king had Gest called to him and spoke thus to him: "Now you will be obliged to bring forth some gold, if you have any, so that I may decide your wager."
"That shall be as you wish, sire," said Gest.
He thrust his hand into his purse, which he had with him, and took up a bag, which he loosened and put into the hand of the king. The king saw that it was broken from a saddle ring, and said that it was extremely fine gold. He asked then to take the ring Hnitud.
When this was done, the king compared the gold and the ring and then said: "It certainly seems to me that the gold, which Gest has produced, is better, and so it should seem to anyone who sees it."
Many men agreed with the king. Afterward he declared Gest the winner. It seemed to the other guests that they had been unwise about the situation.
Then Gest said: "Take your money yourselves, since I don't need to have it, but don't bet any more with strangers, for you never know whether you may have met someone who has seen and heard more than you have. I thank you, sire, for your decision."
The king said: "Now I would like you to tell me, where you got that gold, which you carry with you."
Gest answered: "I am reluctant to do so, for most people would think unbelievable, what I would say about it."
"We would like to hear it, though," said the king, "since you have promised us before that you would tell us your story."
Gest answered: "If I tell you what has happened about the gold, then I expect that you will want to hear the other story also."
"I suspect," said the king, "that you are right about that."
Chapter 4. Gest Tells of the Volsungs
Then I must tell you how I went south in Frakkland. I was curious to know about the king's customs, and great praise that had emerged about Sigurd Sigmundarson, about his handsomeness and courage. There was nothing newsworthy, until I came to Frakkland and met King Hjalprek. He had a great army around himself. There was Sigurd Sigmundarson, son of the Volsungs, and Hjordis Eylimadottir. Sigmund fell in battle before the sons of the Hundings and Hjordis married Halfi, son of King Hjalprek. Sigurd grew up there in childhood, along with all of the sons of King Sigmund. They were superior to all men in strength and size, Sinfljotli and Helgi, who killed King Hunding and so was called "Hundingsbani". The third was called Hamund. Sigurd was the greatest of all the brothers. Everyone knows that Sigurd had been the most noble of all the warrior kings, and the best in ancient times. At the same time, Regin, son of Hreithmar, had also come to King Hjalprek. He was the most cunning of men, but a dwarf in stature, a wise man, but stern and skilled in magic. Regin taught Sigurd many things, and loved him greatly. He spoke of his ancestors, and wondrous occurrences, which had happened there. And when I had been there a short time, I was made a retainer to Sigurd, like many others. All were devoted to him, since he was both friendly and humble and generous to us.
Chapter 5. Of the Sons of Hunding
One day, we came to the house of Regin, and Sigurd was welcomed there. Then Regin spoke these verses:
"The son of Sigmund
Has come here
The resolute man
To our hall
He has great strength
But I, an old man,
Vanquished by the grasp
Of the greedy wolf."
He spoke further:
"But I must honor
The warrior, brave in battle.
Now Yngvar's son
Has come to us.
This chieftain must be
The most powerful under the sun
Renowned in all lands
With his praise."
Sigurd was then always with Regin, and he told him much of Fafnir, how he lived at Gnitahaedi in the form of a snake and that he was wondrously great in size. Regin made a sword for Sigurd, which was called Gram. It was exceedingly sharp-edged, so that when he thrust it into the River Rhine and tossed a flock of wool in the stream, it cut it asunder. Then Sigurd cut the anvil of Regin with the sword. After that, Reginn encouraged Sigurd to kill Fafnir, his brother, and spoke these lines:
"Loudly would laugh
The sons of Hunding
Those who denied
Old age to Eylimi,
If I was enticed
To seek more
A red-gold ring
Than vengeance for his father."
After that Sigurd prepared his journey and decided to harry the sons of Hunding, and King Hjalprek gave him many men and some warships. Hamund, his brother, was with Sigurd on the expedition, and the dwarf Regin. I was there too, and they called me Norna-Gest. King Hjalprek was familiar to me, since he was in Denmark with Sigmund Volsungsson. At that time, Sigmund was married to Borghild, but they separated since Borghild killed Sinfjotli, son of Sigmund, with poison. Then Sigmund went south to Frakkland, and married Hjordis, daughter of Eylimi. The Hunding's sons slew him, and thus Sigurd had to avenge both his father and his mother's father. Helgi Sigmundarson, who was called Hundingsbani, Slayer of Hunding, was the brother of Sigurd, who afterward was called Fafnisbani, Slayer of Fafnir. Helgi, the brother of Sigurd, had killed King Hunding, and his three sons, Eyjolf, Herrod, and Hjorvard. Lyngvi escaped and his two brothers, Alf and Heming. They were the most famous men in all achievements, and Lyngvi excelled his brothers. They were very skilled in magic. They had tyrannized many minor kings and killed many champions and burned many cities, and did most of their pillaging in Spain and France. At that time the imperial power had not reached north over the mountains. Hunding's sons had conquered the realm that Sigurd had in France, and there were large forces there.
Chapter 6. Sigurd Felled the Sons of Hunding
Now it is to be told of how Sigurd prepared for battle against the sons of Hunding. He had a large and well armed force. Regin had planned much for the troops. He had a sword called Ridil, which he had forged. Sigurd bade Regin to lend him the sword. He did so, and bade him kill Fafnir, when he returned from this journey. Sigurd promised him this. Then we sailed south along the coast. Then we met up with a storm raised by witchcraft, and many recognized the work of the sons of Hunding. Then we sailed along the shore a bit. There we saw a man standing on a promontory, which went out from the sea-cliffs. He was dressed in a green cloak and blue pants, and high buttoned shoes on his feet, with a spear in his hand. This man sang to us and said:
"Who rides here
On the high waves
And resounding sea?
Are your sails
Swollen with the sea
Will the wave steed
Withstand the wind."
Regin said in reply:
"Here are we, with Sigurd,
Come on the sea
Good wind is given to us
To death itself.
The waves break high
Over the ship's prow
Hlunvigg will plunge down
Who asks of this?"
The man in the cloak said:
"I am called Hnikar
Who gladdened Odinn's wise raven
And as a Volsung
Now you must call
The man on the cliff
Feng or Fjolnir
Such a journey will I accept."
Then we made for land, and the weather immediately lessened, and Sigurd bade the man to come out onto the ship. He did so. Now the weather fell, and the most favorable breeze sprang up.
The man sat at Sigurd's knee and was most pleasant. He asked if Sigurd would accept some advice from him. Sigurd said that he would, and said that he supposed that he must have a lot of good advice, if he wished people to benefit from it. Sigurd said to the cloaked man:
"Tell me, Hnikar
All you know
Of both the gods and men:
Which are the best
If there shall be fighting
Fortunate when swords are sweeping."
"Much is good
If men know
Fortunate when swords are sweeping.
A faithful companion
I think the dark raven
To be for a warrior.
That is the second
If you have come outside
And prepared for a journey:
You gaze at two
Standing on the path.
That is the third
If you hear the whistling
Of the wolf and ash tree.
Destined for good luck
From the helmeted head to you
If you wish to travel on.
A man shall not see
Against the horizon
The late shining
Of the moon's sister.
They have victory
Who can see
The rapid sword-play
Or the column arrayed.
That is great harm
If your feet stumble
On the way to battle:
Stand on two cliffs
And wish to see you injured.
Combed and washed
Shall each appear
And at morning meal
Although it is unknown
What comes after.
It is ill to stumble before good luck."
And after that, we sailed south along Holsetuland and east of Friesland, and there to land. There the sons of Hunding heard of our expedition, and collected troops and soon there was a large army. When we met them, there was a great battle. Of the brothers, Lyngvi was the most valiant in all of the advances. They all fought bravely. Sigurd advanced so forcefully that everyone fell back before him, since the sword Gram was likely to wound them, but there was no need to question Sigurd's courage. And when he met Lyngvi, they exchanged many blows and fought quite bravely. There was a pause in the battle, as people were watching hand-to-hand combat. For a long time, neither of them could inflict a wound on the other, since they were so skilled in arms. Then Lyngvi's brothers attacked fiercely and killed many men, although some fled. Then Hamund, Sigurd's brother, turned toward them and I with him. There was then another encounter. It so ended with Sigurd and Lyngvi, that Sigurd seized him, and he was set in irons. But when Sigurd joined us, there was soon a change. Hunding's sons and all of their troops fell, as night was coming on.
When morning light came, Hnikar had disappeared, and was never seen again. Men think that it must have been Odinn. There was then a discussion of what sort of death Lyngvi should have. Regin advised that a blood eagle should be carved on his back. Regin then took his sword from me, and with it carved Lyngvi's back until the ribs were cut from the back, and the lungs drawn out. Thus Lyngvi died with great valor. Then Regin said:
"Now the blood eagle
With a broad sword
The killer of Sigmund
Carved on the back.
Fewer were more valiant
As the troops dispersed
A chief of people
Who made the raven glad."
There was much booty. Sigurd's troops took it all, since he did not want to have any of it. There was much treasure in clothes and weapons. Then Sigurd slew Fafnir and Regin, since he had intended to cheat him.
Sigurd then took Fafnir's gold and rode away with it. He was afterward called Fafnisbani, the Slayer of Fafnir.
Chapter 7. Of Sigurd and Starkad Storverksson
Later Sigurd married Gudrun Gjukadottir. He stayed for a while with the Gjukungs, his in-laws. I was with Sigurd north in Denmark. I was also with Sigurd, when King Sigurd Hring sent Gandalf's son, his in-law, against the Gjukungs, Gunnar and Hogna, and demanded that they pay him treasure or otherwise suffer here. However, they wished to defend their country. Then Gandalf's sons challenged the Gjukungs to a duel on the boundary, and then returned home. But the Gjukungs asked Sigurd Fafnisbani to go to battle along with them. He said that he would do so. I was still with Sigurd. We then sailed stillfurther north to Holsetuland, and landed there at a place called Jarnamodir. A short way from the harbor, hazel poles were set up, where the battle was supposed to be.
We then saw many ships sailing from the north. Gandalf's sons were in command of them. Both of them attacked. Sigurd Hring was not there, since he had to defend his land, Sweden, since the Kurir and Kvaenir were raiding there. Sigurd was by that time quite old. Then the forces collided, and there was a great battle and loss of life. Gandalf's sons advanced bravely, since they were both bigger and stronger than other men. In their troops was seen a man, big and strong. This man killed men and horses so that no one could withstand him, for he was more like a giant that a man. Gunnar bade Sigurd to attack the man-devil, since he said that as things were, there would be no success. Sigurd then prepared to go against the huge man, and some others with him, but most of them were not too eager to do so. "We immediately came upon the huge man," said Gest, "and Sigurd asked his name and where he came from. He said that he was named Starkad Storverksson, from the north, from Fenhring in Norway. Sigurd said that he had heard of him, most often not favorably. "Such men are not merciful to those who are unwelcome." Starkad said: "Who is this man, who casts so many words of blame?" Sigurd said who he was. Starkad said: "Are you the one who is called Fafnisbani?" "So it is," said Sigurd. Starkad then tried to escape, but Sigurd turned after him and lifted aloft the sword Gram, and thrashed him with the sword guard on the jaw so that two teeth fell from his mouth. That was a maiming blow. Then Sigurd told the scoundrel to drag himself off from there. Starkad turned quickly away from there. I took one of the teeth and took it with me. It is now on a bell rope in Denmark, and weighs seven ounces. People think it is a curiosity to see it there.
After Starkad took flight, the sons of Gandalf fled also. We seized much booty, and then the king went home to his realm and stayed there for a while.
Chapter 8. How Gest Got the Gold
A short time later we heard that Starkad had committed foul murder, and that he had killed King Ali in the bath. One day Sigurd Fafnisbani rode to some gathering or other, and rode into a puddle, and his horse Grani leaped up so vigorously that the saddle-girth broke apart and the ring fell down. When I saw where it was shining in the mud, I took it up and brought it to Sigurd, but he gave it to me. You saw that same gold piece a short time ago. Then Sigurd dismounted, and I stroked his horse and washed the mud off of it, and took a lock of hair from its tail to show its size. Gest then showed the lock, and it was seven ells high. King Olaf said: "I find much pleasure in your stories." They all praised his stories and honor. The king wished that he would say much more about the exploits of his kinsmen. Gest told them of many amusing matters until the evening. Then everyone went to bed.
The following morning, the king had Gest called and wanted to talk to him even more. The king said: "I can't really estimate your age, or how likely it can be that you are a man so old that you were present at these events. You will have to tell another story, so that we can be well informed about such matters."
Gest answered: "I knew beforehand, that you would want to hear another of my stories, if I told you about what happened about the gold."
The king said: "You must certainly tell me."
Chapter 9: Of Brynhild and Lodbrokarson
"It is now yet to be told," said Gest, "that I traveled north to Denmark, and settled down on my inheritance, since my father had died shortly before. Shortly afterward I heard of the death of Sigurd and the Gjukungs, and I thought that was important news."
The king said: "How was Sigurd slain?"
Gest answered: "Most men say that Guttorm Gjukason ran a sword through him when he was sleeping in Gudrun's bed. The German men say that Sigurd was slain out in the woods. But small birds said that Sigurd and the sons of Gjuki had ridden to a Thing and they slew him then. But one thing is said by all, that they ventured on him when he was lying down and unprotected, and betrayed him during a truce."
One of the men asked: "How did Brynhild respond then?"
Gest answered: "Then Brynhild killed seven of her slaves and five handmaidens, and ran a sword through herself, and bade that she be taken to the pyre along with these people and burned to death. And so it was done, that one pyre was made for her, and another for Sigurd, and he was burned before Brynhild. She was driven in a chariot, with a canopy of velvet and costly stuff, and everything gleamed with gold, and so she was burned."
Then people asked Gest, if Brynhild had chanted anything when she was dead. He said that this was true. They bade him chant it, if he could. Then Gest said: "When Brynhild was taken to the pyre on the way to Hell, she was taken near some cliffs. There a giantess dwelled. She was out before the doors of her cave and was in a black leather kirtle.
She had a long wand from the forest in her hand, and said: "I will offer this for your burning, Brynhild, and it would be better if you were burned alive for your deeds, that you had Sigurd Fafnisbani, such a splendid man, slain. I was often his companion, and because of that, I will address you in song with words of vengeance, so that everyone will see you as loathsome who hears such things about you.
After that, Brynhild and the giantess chanted to one another. The giantess sang:
"You shall not
The stone portals
Of my courtyard.
It would have seemed better for you
To weave a tapestry
Rather than to attack
A comfortable house.
Why shall you
Visit my house
You have given the robber-wolves
If they come to attack
Many a man's blood
Then Brynhild sang:
"Do not reproach me
Bride from the stone
Although I was formerly
Involved in plundering
I must, of us two
Appear the higher
wherever noble men
The giantess sang:
"You are, Brynhild
Daughter of Budli.
In an evil hour
You were born into the world
You have destroyed
The children of Gjuki
And broken up
Their good home."
"I must say to you
If you wish to know
How the heirs
Of Gjuki made me
and with broken vows.
The courageous king
Delivered me from sorrow.
Living under the oak.
I was twelve years old
If you wish to know
When I swore an oath
To the young king.
I caused the old
Brother of a giantess,
Hjalmgunnar, the next one
To be doomed to die.
I gave to victory to the young
Brother of Auda.
Odinn was wrathful
Because of that.
He surrounded me with shields
Red and white
Then he bade him
To tear me from my sleep,
Who in no land
He caused to burn
Around my south-facing hall
Howling dogs of fire
The masts from on high.
Then he bade him
Alone to ride over.
Then is brought to me
The gold of Fafnir.
The bestower of gold
rode good Grani
there where my foster father
ruled his hall
Alone he seemed there
The Danish Viking,
Best to all
In high worth.
We slept and were content
in one bed
As if he as my brother
Had been born.
Each of us could
One hand over the other
For eight nights.
Thus Gudrun reproached me
Daughter of Gjuki
That I slept
In Sigurd's arms.
Then I became aware
Of that I wished not to know
That they had betrayed me
In taking a husband.
All too long
Women and men
Shall be born living.
We shall never
Tear ourselves apart
Sink now, giantess."
Then the giantess cried out a terrible scream, and leaped into the cliff.
Then the king's retainers said: "That is fine, and tell us more."
The king said: "There is no need to say more of such things."
The king said: "Were you ever with Lodbrok's sons?"
Gest answered: "I was with them for a short time. I came to them when they were plundering south in the Alps and destroyed Vifilsborg. Everyone was terrified of them, since they were victorious wherever they went, and they intended at that time to go to Rome.
One day a man came from King Bjorn Ironside and greeted him. The king received him well and asked from where he might have come. He said that he had come from the south, from Rome."
The king asked: "How long is it to there."
He answered: "Here you must see, O king, the shoe which I have on my foot."
He then took an iron-shoe from his foot, and it was very thick on top, but quite ragged underneath. "The way to Rome is so long as you can see from my shoes, how badly they have suffered."
The king said: "It is a terribly long journey to travel, and we must turn around and not plunder in Rome."
And they did so, traveling no longer, and everyone thought that it was extraordinary, to change their minds so suddenly, on the word of one man, all of which they had previously resolved to. After that, the sons of Lodbrok returned home to the north, and no longer plundered in the south."
The king said: "It was obvious that the holy men in Rome would not allow their passage there, and the man must have been a spirit sent by God, that they changed their plans so suddenly and not do damage to the holiest place of Jesus Christ in Rome."
Chapter 10: Where Gest Thought it Best to be a King's Man
The king asked Gest further: "Where have you come to the king, whose court seemed best to you?"
Gest said: "I found it most enjoyable with Sigurd and the sons of Gjuki. But the sons of Lodbrok allowed their men to live most independently, as they wished. But with Eirik at Uppsala there was the most happiness. Harald Fair-haired was more difficult with his retainers than any of the previously named kings. I was also with King Hlodve of Saxony, and was given the sign of the cross, for otherwise I would not be allowed there, since Christianity was observed carefully there, and there it seemed to me, on the whole, the best."
The king said: "You can tell us much news, if we wish to ask." The king then asked many things of Gest. Gest told him everything quite distinctly, until as last he spoke so: "Now I must tell you, why I am called Norna-Gest." The king said that he wished to hear that.
Chapter 11: The Prophesy of Norna-Gest
I was brought up in my father's house in that place called Graening. My father was quite wealthy and kept his house in a lavish manner. At that time seeresses, who were called prophetesses, traveled around the land, and told people the future. For this reason, people used to invite them to their houses and prepared feasts for them, and gave them gifts when they parted. My father also did so, and they came to him with a company of men, and they were to foretell my fate. I lay in my cradle, and they were to speak of my fate. Two candles were burning above me. They spoke to me and said that I would be very lucky, greater than my other forbears, or sons of chieftains in the land, and said that everything would come to pass according to my fate. The youngest Norn thought that she was too little valued compared to the other two, since they did not ask her about such prophesies, and so they were valued more. There were also a number of ribald men there, who pushed her off her seat so that she fell to the ground.
She was quite angry at this. She called out loudly and angrily, and bade them cease such good prophesies about me, - "for I assign his future, that he shall not live longer than that candle burns, which is lighted beside him."
After that, the oldest seeress took the candle and extinguished it, and bade my mother keep it safely and not to light it until the last day of my life. After that, the prophetesses went away, and bundled up the young Norn and so kept her away, and my father gave them good gifts at their departure. When I was full-grown, my mother gave me the candle for safe-keeping. I have it with me now.
The king said: "Why did you come here to us?"
Gest answered: "This came into my mind. I came here hoping that some good fortune would be allotted to me, since you have been very much praised by good and wise men."
The king said: "Will you take holy baptism now?"
Gest answered: "I will do whatever you advise."
It was then done, and the king took him into his affection and made him one of his retainers. Gest was loyal to the king, and followed the customs of the king well. He was beloved by everyone.
Chapter 12: The Death of Gest
One day, the king asked Gest: "How long do you wish to live, if you could choose?"
Gest answered: "Just a short time, if God wills it."
The king said: "What will happen, if you take your candle now?"
Gest then took his candle from the frame of his harp. The king bade it to be lit, and so it was done. And when the candle was lighted, it burned quickly.
The king asked Gest: "How old a man are you?"
Gest answered: "I am now three hundred years old."
"You are quite old," said the king.
Gest lay down. He asked them to anoint him with oil. The king had it done. And when it was done, there were very little of the candle left unburned. Then people realized that Gest had little time left. Gest passed away just as the candle was fully burned, and everyone thought that his passing was remarkable. The king thought much of his story, and thought that what he said of his life was quite true.