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5-03-2015, 11:32

The Better Shipbuilder

In this excerpt from the saga of Norway's King Olaf, the shipbuilder Thorberg Skafhog sees that the king's new ship is being poorly constructed and points it out by sabotaging the work:

Early next morning the king returned again to the ship, and Thorberg with him.

The carpenters were there before them, but all were standing idle with their arms across. The king asked, "What is the matter?" They said [that] somebody had gone from stem to stern and cut one deep notch after the other down the one side of the planking. [The king] said, "The man shall die who has thus destroyed the vessel."... "I can tell you, king," said Thorberg, "who has done this piece of work. . . . I did it myself." The king said, "You must restore it all to the same condition as before, or your life shall pay for it." Then Thorberg went and chipped the planks until the deep notches were all smoothed [and] the king and all present declared that the ship was much handsomer on the side of the hull which Thorberg had chipped, and bade him shape the other side in the same way; and gave him great thanks for the improvement. Afterwards Thorberg was the master builder of the ship until she was entirely finished.