Chapter 92 – 1222 CE

I was in my early forties. Not a young man but not old either. I knew her from acquaintance, gathering of the clans.

***

In 1222 I resumed the post of law speaker, which I kept for the next ten years. I made it well known that I was willing to settle disputes, as Jon Loftsson had. The settlements generally, though not always, managed to work in some way to my favor. When my foster brother Saemunder died of sickness, for example, I was asked by his brood of illegitimate children to distribute his wealth fairly. Early the next year I rode South, on my way to Oddi with a large retinue, spending the night at Keldur’s farm where Saemunder’s young daughter Solveig and her mother lived. Solveig was a most delightful girl with whom I found it altogether pleasant to talk. It is true that I was a bit of a fat, gouty, much older man, and something of a schemer and some say that I had fallen head over heels for this snip of a girl. But suffice to say that women of all ages found me charming and romantic. Next morning Solveig and I rode together to Oddi. On the road we met another young woman, Solveig’s cousin Hallveig, who was also the daughter of my late foster brother Orm, and whom you have deduced by now was ‘my Hallveig’. Hallveig Ormsdottir was the wealthiest woman in Iceland, having inherited from her father, her uncle, and her recently deceased husband, Bjorn Thorvaldsson. She had but a single escort with her on the road. Worse, she was dressed quite unfashionably, in a blue woolen cape with flaps sewn together over her head which she wore as sort of a hat. I thought her appearance quite humorous to look upon even though Solveig criticized her cousins dress. More than that I thought it ludicrous for the wealthiest woman in Iceland to have no entourage other than a single bodyguard, considering the road often concealed vagabonds and robbers.

I knew this young feisty woman distantly as the widow of Bjorn Thorvaldsson, who had come to his end somewhat by my encouragement, for misdeeds in business. She knew who I was and had ridden out in her casual dress to confront me to demand compensation for her husband’s death, though his blood was not directly on my hands. Despite her fierce demeanor and aggression towards me, it was my enigmatic smile and charm that persuaded her to withdraw her anger from me. It’s a funny thing how often those who start out as enemies can become friends. In this case we became more than friends. She was my Hallveig and I was smote by her love and devotion in the years after that meeting.

My attention drifted from the young spritely Solveig to the commanding and I might say stunning Hallveig. Drifted from the girl to the woman. But the attraction was not lustful, it was much more powerful. It was as if I had known this woman in another time, another life and that we were mated and meant to be together and that we had lived separated in this time until that moment when we were reunited. I can’t say if she felt that same feeling, but I felt we were drawn like two pieces of lodestone that would reunite to become one.

I didn’t know it at the time but it came to pass that her wealth and my power made us the most perfect match. We thought and spoke from a common mind.

Even though it was obvious to me, when I first met Hallveig, that she was my soulmate, we did not marry until fourteen years later. Herdis stayed at Borg with my son and daughter and I negotiated Hallveig into my household well before then. It was like a marriage and we made a donation of bells to ring the hour at Reykholt.

I continued on to Oddi, with Solveig, for the fair distribution of her father’s estate. She and her six brothers seemed quite happy with the distribution. It was to my advantage and pleasure to make these types of judgements and settlements. As my own power and riches grew, so did my own scheming and conniving, as I became more consumed by my own power and love of luxury and praise. I made many arrangements through the marriages of my own children that brought much to my own treasury and extended my power. Over time I controlled much of the territories of my Iceland, other than the eastern dales and quarters. This of course was to the great consternation of those chieftains who sought their own wealth and power. Having enemies was a common thing of course but great power and property means there is more up for the taking and more for others to envy and lust after. I gained much but the more I gained the more vulnerable I became. If I had been a more ruthless man perhaps I could have been more decisive in my own defense, but I am what I am.

It was such a tangled mess, all these marriages and alliances, strategies for power. I confess that I could have made more preferable arrangements for my children, but love has nothing to do with it. My children, like my women, were my possessions to do with as I determined best, so marrying my eighteen year old daughter Thordis to sixty-four year old Thorvald of Vatnsfjord was a sound arrangement. It gave me virtual control of the lands to the northwest and besides Thordis would only have to bear him a short while, until he died from age or at the hand of one of his many enemies.

I had five children, that I claimed, and in my way I can say that I had affection for them all and of course they loved me, despite the many unkind stories they would have been told about me. It is the curse of brilliance and ambition, to be the way I am, but it is a yoke I bore gladly.

So much happened. The passage of time quickens as we age. Yesterday seems like just hours ago; last week seems like yesterday; and last year like it happened just a week or a month ago. I have strong memories of my childhood because they happened slowly, took long to occur and were profound in their influence on my thinking and perception of things. I am what I am because I was made this way by all the large and small things that shaped my life. Just like you.

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