Back to thinking about Njál’s Saga while I wait for my copy of Völsunga Saga to show up at the library. 🙂
‘Is it because you cannot find a suitable match?” he asked.
‘It’s not exactly that,’ she said, ‘but I am said to be hard to please in the matter of husbands.’
‘What would you say if I were to ask you?’ he continued.
‘You wouldn’t be thinking of doing that,’ she answered.
‘But I am,’ said Gunnar.
‘If you are of a mind to, then speak with my father,’ she replied.
With that they ended their talk.
Every time I reread that passage, I find myself asking, was Hallgerður in love with Gunnar, or was she simply going after his riches? The saga doesn’t say–one of the fascinating things about the sagas is that they don’t tell you what anyone is thinking, but leave that to the reader. The first time I read this, I assumed Hallgerður was after Gunnar’s money–he’d just returned from Norway a rich man, after all–and that asking about his travels was just a line to get him talking to her.
But three readings later–I think Hallgerður loved him. Whatever happened later, I think the affection shared during their first meeting was real.
And Hallgerður’s uncle Hrút, who’s one of those (remarkably frequent) saga characters with a way of seeing what’s going to happen before it does, seems to have thought so, too (at least in the Hollander translation–there’s some variation here)–he says, ‘Yes, I realise that both of you are foolishly in love. To be sure, it is you two who risk the most [if you take such a leap in the dark].’
Indeed. But don’t we all?
(Of course, for most of us the risks don’t generally involve blood feud. But even so.)