"Harald, whose red shield oft has shone O'er herried coasts, and fields hard won, Rides in hot wrath, and eager speeds O'er the blue waves his ocean-steeds. Svein, who in blood his arrows stains, Brings o'er the ocean's heaving plains His gold-beaked ships, which come in view Out from the Sound with many a hue."
King Harald came with his forces to the appointed meeting-place; but there he heard that King Svein was lying with his fleet at the south side of Seeland. Then King Harald divided his forces; let the greater part of the bonde-troops return home; and took with him his court-men, his lendermen, the best men-at-arms, and all the bonde-troops who lived nearest to the Danish land. They sailed over to Jutland to the south of Vendilskage, and so south to Thioda; and over all they carried fire and sword. So says Stuf, the skald: --
"In haste the men of Thyland fly From the great monarch's threat'ning eye; At the stern Harald's angry look The boldest hearts in Denmark shook."
They went forward all the way south to Heidaby, took the merchant town and burnt it. Then one of Harald's men made the following verses: --
"All Heidaby is burned down! Strangers will ask where stood the town. In our wild humour up it blazed, And Svein looks round him all amazed. All Heidaby is burned down! From a far corner of the town I saw, before the peep of morning, Roofs, walls, and all in flame high burning."
To this also Thorleik alludes in his verses, when he heard there had been no battle at the Gaut river: --
"The stranger-warrior may inquire Of Harald's men, why in his ire On Heidaby his wrath he turns, And the fair town to ashes burns? Would that the day had never come When Harald's ships returned home From the East Sea, since now the town, Without his gain, is burned down!"
35. HARALD'S ESCAPE INTO THE JUTLAND SEA.