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His sister was not in the least curious on the subject; but it was difficult to say whether anger or fear predominated in her sharp eyes and thin compressed lips. The pedlar and old Tronda, confident that the house would never fall while the redoubted Norna was beneath its roof, held themselves ready for a start the instant she should take her departure.
Having looked on the sky for some time in a fixed attitude, and with the most profound silence, Norna at once, yet with a slow and majestic gesture, extended her staff of black oak towards that part of the heavens from which the blast came hardest, and in the midst of its fury chaunted a Norwegian invocation, still preserved in the Island of Unst, under the name of the Song of the Reim-kennar, though some call it the Song of the Tempest. The following is a free translation, it being impossible to render literally many of the elliptical and metaphorical terms of expression peculiar to the ancient Northern poetry :
1. “ Stern eagle of the far north-west, Thou that bearest in thy grasp the thunderbolt,
Thou whose rushing pinions stir ocean to madness,
nation, Though the rushing of thy wings be like the roar of ten
thousand waves, Yet hear, in thine ire and thy haste, Hear thou the voice of the Reim-kennar.
2. “ Thou hast met the pine-trees of Drontheim, Their dark-green heads lie prostrate beside their uprooted
3. * There are verses that can stop the stag in the forest, Ay, and when the dark-coloured dog is opening on his
track; There are verses can make the wild hawk pause on the
Like the falcon that wears the hood and the jesses,
4. “ Enough of woe bast thou wrought on the ocean, The widows wring their hands on the beach; Enough of woe hast thou wrought on the land, The husbandman folds his arms in despair; Cease thou the waving of thy pinions, Let the ocean repose in her dark strength; Cease thou the flashing of thine eye, Let the thunderbolt sleep in the armoury of Odin; Be thou still at my bidding, viewless racer of the north
western heaven, Sleep thou at the voice of Norna the Reim-kennar.”
We have said that Mordaunt was naturally fond of romantic poetry and romantic situation; it is not therefore surprising that he listened with interest to the wild address thus uttered to the wildest wind of the compass, in a tone of such dauntless enthusiasm. But though he had heard so much of the Runic rhyme and of the northern spell, in the country where he had so long dwelt, he was not on this occasion so credulous as to believe that the tempest, which had raged so lately, and which was now declining, was sinking subdued before the charmed verse of Norna. Certain it was, that the blast seemed passing away, and the apprehended danger was already over; but it was not improbable that this issue had been for some time foreseen by the Pythoness, through signs of the weather, imperceptible to those who had not dwelt long in the country, or had not bestowed on the meteorological phenomena the attention of a strict and close observer. Of Norna's experience he had no doubt, and that went a far way to explain what seemed supernatural in her demeanour. Yet still the noble countenance, half-shaded by dishevelled tresses, the air of majesty with which, in a tone of menace as well as of command, she addressed the viewless spirit of
the tempest, gave him a strong inclination to believe in the ascendancy of the occult art over the powers of nature ; for, if a woman ever moved on earth to whom such authority over the ordinary laws of the universe could be. long, Norna of Fitful-head, judging from bearing, figure, and face, was born to that high destiny.
The rest of the company were less slow in receiving conviction. To Tronda and the jagger none was necessary; they had long believed in the full extent of Norna's authority over the elements. But Triptolemus and his sister gazed at each other with wondering and alarmed looks, especially when the wind began perceptibly to decline, as was especially visible during the pauses which Norna made betwixt the strophes of her incantation. A long silence followed the last verse, until Norna resumed her chaunt, but with a changed and more soothing modulation of voice and tune.
“ Eagle of the far north-western waters,