The Story of Burnt Njal
Part 7: Sections 102 - 117
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #11
102. THE WEDDING OF HAUSKULD, THE PRIEST OF WHITENESS Now we must take up the story, and say that Njal spoke thus to Hauskuld, his foster-son, and said, "I would seek thee a match." Hauskuld bade him settle the matter as he pleased, and asked whether he was most likely to turn his eyes. "There is a woman called Hildigunna," answers Njal, "and she is the daughter of Starkad, the son of Thord Freyspriest. She is the best match I know of." "See thou to it, foster-father," said Hauskuld; "that shall be my choice which thou choosest." "Then we will look thitherward," says Njal. A little while after, Njal called on men to go along with him. Then the sons of Sigfus, and Njal's sons, and Kari Solmund's son, all of them fared with him and they rode east to Swinefell. There they got a hearty welcome. The day after, Njal and Flosi went to talk alone, and the speech of Njal ended thus, that he said, "This is my errand here, that we have set out on a wooing-journey, to ask for thy kinswoman Hildigunna." "At whose hand?" says Flosi. "At the hand of Hauskuld, my foster-son," says Njal. "Such things are well meant," says Flosi, "but still ye run each of you great risk, the one from the other; but what hast thou to say of Hauskuld?" "Good I am able to say of him," says Njal; "and besides, I will lay down as much money as will seem fitting to thy niece and thyself, if thou wilt think of making this match. "We will call her hither," says Flosi, "and know how she looks on the man." Then Hildigunna was called, and she came thither. Flosi told her of the wooing, but she said she was a proudhearted woman. "And I know not how things will turn out between me and men of like spirit; but this, too, is not the least of my dislike, that this man has no priesthood or leadership over men, but thou hast always said that thou wouldest not wed me to a man who had not the priesthood." "This is quite enough," says Flosi, "if thou wilt not be wedded to Hauskuld, to make me take no more pains about the match." "Nay! " she says, "I do not say that I will not be wedded to Hauskuld if they can get him a priesthood or a leadership over men; but otherwise I will have nothing to say to the match." "Then," said Njal, "I will beg thee to let this match stand over for three winters, that I may see what I can do." Flosi said that so it should be. "I will only bargain for this one thing," says Hildigunna, "if this match comes to pass, that we shall stay here away east." Njal said he would rather leave that to Hauskuld, but Hauskuld said that he put faith in many men, but in none so much as his foster-father. Now they ride from the east. Njal sought to get a priesthood and leadership for Hauskuld, but no one was willing to sell his priesthood, and now the summer passes away till the Althing. There were great quarrels at the Thing that summer, and many a man then did as was their wont, in faring to see Njal; but he gave such counsel in men's lawsuits as was not thought at all likely, so that both the pleadings and the defence came to naught, and out of that great strife arose, when the lawsuits could not be brought to an end, and men rode home from the Thing unatoned. Now things go on till another Thing comes. Njal rode to the Thing, and at first all is quiet until Njal says that it is high time for men to give notice of their suits. Then many said that they thought that came to little, when no man could get his suit settled, even though the witnesses were summoned to the Althing, "and so," say they, "we would rather seek our rights with point and edge." "So it must not be," says Njal, "for it will never do to have no law in the land. But yet ye have much to say on your side in this matter, and it behoves us who know the law, and who are bound to guide the law, to set men at one again, and to ensue peace. 'Twere good counsel, then, methinks, that we call together all the chiefs and talk the matter over." Then they go to the Court of Laws, and Njal spoke and said, "Thee, Skapti Thorod's son and you other chiefs, I call on, and say, that methinks our lawsuits have come into a dead lock, if we have to follow up our suits in the Quarter Courts, and they get so entangled that they can neither be pleaded nor ended. Methinks, it were wiser if we had a Fifth Court, and there pleaded those suits which cannot be brought to an end in the Quarter Courts." "How," said Skapti, "wilt thou name a Fifth Court, when the Quarter Court is named for the old priesthoods, three twelves in each quarter?" "I can see help for that," says Njal, "by setting up new priesthoods, and filling them with the men who are best fitted in each Quarter, and then let those men who are willing to agree to it, declare themselves ready to join the new priest's Thing." "Well," says Skapti, "we will take this choice; but what weighty suits shall come before the court?" "These matters shall come before it," says Njal, -- "all matters of contempt of the Thing, such as if men bear false witness, or utter a false finding; hither, too, shall come all those suits in which the judges are divided in opinion in the Quarter Court; then they shall be summoned to the Fifth Court; so, too, if men offer bribes, or take them, for their help in suits. In this court all the oaths shall be of the strongest kind, and two men shall follow every oath, who shall support on their words of honour what the others swear. So it shall be also, if the pleadings on one side are right in form, and the other wrong, that the judgment shall be given for those that are right in form. Every suit in this court shall be pleaded just as is now done in the Quarter Court, save and except that when four twelves are named in the Fifth Court, then the plaintiff shall name and set aside six men out of the court, and the defendant other six; but if he will not set them aside, then the plaintiff shall name them and set them aside as he has done with his own six; but if the plaintiff does not set them aside, then the suit comes to naught, for three twelves shall utter judgment on all suits. We shall also have this arrangement in the Court of Laws, that those only shall have the right to make or change laws who sit on the middle bench, and to this bench those only shall be chosen who are wisest and best. There, too, shall the Fifth Court sit; but if those who sit in the Court of Laws are not agreed as to what they shall allow or bring in as law, then they shall clear the court for a division, and the majority shall bind the rest; but if any man who has a seat in the Court be outside the Court of Laws and cannot get inside it, or thinks himself overborne in the suit, then he shall forbid them by a protest, so that they can hear it in the Court, and then he has made all their grants and all their decisions void and of none effect, and stopped them by his protest." After that, Skapti Thorod's son brought the Fifth Court into the law, and all that was spoken of before. Then men went to the Hill of Laws, and men set up new priesthoods: In the Northlanders' Quarter were these new priesthoods. The priesthood of the Melmen in Midfirth, and the Laufesingers' priesthood in the Eyjafirth. Then Njal begged for a hearing, and spoke thus: "It is known to many men what passed between my sons and the men of Gritwater when they slew Thrain Sigfus' son. But for all that we settled the matter; and now I have taken Hauskuld into my house, and planned a marriage for him if he can get a priesthood anywhere; but no man will sell his priesthood, and so I will beg you to give me leave to set up a new priesthood at Whiteness for Hauskuld." He got this leave from all, and after that he set up the new priesthood for Hauskuld; and he was afterwards called Hauskuld, the Priest of Whiteness. After that, men ride home from the Thing, and Njal stayed but a short time at home ere he rides east to Swinefell, and his sons with him, and again stirs in the matter of the marriage with Flosi; but Flosi said he was ready to keep faith with them in everything. Then Hildigunna was betrothed to Hauskuld, and the day for the wedding feast was fixed, and so the matter ended. They then ride home, but they rode again shortly to the bridal, and Flosi paid down all her goods and money after the wedding, and all went off well. They fared home to Bergthorsknoll, and were there the next year, and all went well between Hildigunna and Bergthom. But the next spring Njal bought land in Ossaby, and hands it over to Hauskuld, and thither he fares to his own abode. Njal got him all his household, and there was such love between them all, that none of them thought anything that he said or did any worth unless the others had a share in it. Hauskuld dwelt long at Ossaby, and each backed the other's honour, and Njal's sons were always in Hauskuld's company. Their friendship was so warm, that each house bade the other to a feast every harvest, and gave each other great gifts; and so it goes on for a long while. 103. THE SLAYING OF HAUSKULD NJAL'S SON There was a man named Lyting; he dwelt at Samstede, and he had to wife a woman named Steinvora; she was a daughter of Sigfus, and Thrain's sister. Lyting was tall of growth and a strong man, wealthy in goods and ill to deal with. It happened once that Lyting had a feast in his house at Samstede, and he had bidden thither Hauskuld and the sons of Sigfus, and they all came. There, too, was Grani Gunnar's son, and Gunnar Lambi's son, and Lambi Sigurd's son. Hauskuld Njal's son and his mother had a farm at Holt, and he was always riding to his farm from Bergthorsknoll, and his path lay by the homestead at Samstede. Hauskuld had a son called Amund; he had been born blind, but for all that he was tall and strong. Lytina had two brothers -- the one's name was Hallstein, and the other's Hallgrim. They were the most unruly of men, and they were ever with their brother, for other men could not bear their temper. Lyting was out of doors most of that day, but every now and then he went inside his house. At last he had gone to his seat, when in came a woman who had been out of doors, and she said, "You were too far off to see outside how that proud fellow rode by the farm-yard!" "What proud fellow was that," says Lyting "of whom thou speakest?" "Hauskuld Njal's son rode here by the yard," she says. "He rides often here by the farm-yard," said Lyting, "and I can't say that it does not try my temper; and now I will make thee an offer, Hauskuld, to go along with thee if thou wilt avenge thy father and slay Hauskuld Njal's son." "That I will not do," says Hauskuld, "for then I should repay Njal, my foster-father, evil for good, and mayst thou and thy feasts never thrive henceforth." With that he sprang up away from the board, and made them catch his horses, and rode home. Then Lyting said to Grani Gunnar's son, "Thou wert by when Thrain was slain, and that will still be in thy mind; and thou, too, Gunnar Lambi's son, and thou, Lambi Sigurd's son. Now, my will is that we ride to meet him this evening, and slay him." "No," says Grani, "I will not fall on Njal's son, and so break the atonement which good men and true have made." With like words spoke each man of them, and so, too, spoke all the sons of Sigfus; and they took that counsel to ride away. Then Lyting said, when they had gone away, "All men know that I have taken no atonement for my brother-in-law Thrain, and I shall never be content that no vengeance -- man for man -- shall be taken for him." After that he called on his two brothers to go with him, and three house-carles as well. They went on the way to meet Hauskuld as he came back, and lay in wait for him north of the farm-yard in a pit; and there they bided till it was about mideven (1). Then Hauskuld rode up to them. They jump up all of them with their arms, and fall on him. Hauskuld guarded himself well, so that for a long while they could not get the better of him; but the end of it was at last that he wounded Lyting on the arm, and slew two of his serving-men, and then fell himself. They gave Hauskuld sixteen wounds, but they hewed not off the head from his body. They fared away into the wood east of Rangriver, and hid themselves there. That same evening, Rodny's shepherd found Hauskuld dead, and went home and told Rodny of her son's slaying. "Was he surely dead?" she asks; "was his head off?" "It was not," he says. "I shall know if I see," she says; "so take thou my horse and driving gear." He did so, and got all things ready, and then they went thither where Hauskuld lay. She looked at the wounds, and said, "'Tis even as I thought, that he could not be quite dead, and Njal no doubt can cure greater wounds." After that they took the body and laid it on the sledge and drove to Bergthorsknoll, and drew it into the sheepcote, and made him sit upright against the wall. Then they went both of them and knocked at the door, and a house- carle went to the door. She steals in by him at once, and goes till she comes to Njal's bed. She asked whether Njal were awake? He said he had slept up to that time, but was then awake. "But why art thou come hither so early?" "Rise thou up," said Rodny, "from thy bed by my rival's side, and come out, and she too, and thy sons, to see thy son Hauskuld." They rose and went out. "Let us take our weapons," said Skarphedinn, "and have them with us." Njal said naught at that, and they ran in and came out again armed. She goes first till they come to the sheepcote; she goes in and bade them follow her. Then she lit a torch, and held it up and said, "Here, Njal, is thy son Hauskuld, and he hath gotten many wounds upon him, and now he will need leechcraft." "I see death marks on him," said Njal, "but no signs of life; but why hast thou not closed his eyes and nostrils? see, his nostrils are still open!" "That duty I meant for Skarphedinn," she says. Then Skarphedinn went to close his eyes and nostrils, and said to his father, "Who, sayest thou, hath slain him?" "Lyting of Samstede and his brothers must have slain him," says Njal. Then Rodny said, "Into thy hands, Skarphedinn, I leave it to take vengeance for thy brother, and I ween that thou wilt take it well, though he be not lawfully begotten, and that thou wilt not be slow to take it." "Wonderfully do ye men behave," said Bergthora, "when ye slay men for small cause, but talk and tarry over such as this until no vengeance at all is taken; and now of this will soon come to Hauskuld, the Priest of Whiteness, and he will be offering you atonement, and you will grant him that, but now is the time to set about it, if ye seek for vengeance." "Our mother eggs us on now with a just goading," said Skarphedinn, and sang a song. "Well we know the warrior's temper (2), One and all, well, father thine, But atonement to the mother, Snake-land's stem (3) and thee were base; He that hoardeth ocean's fire (4) Hearing this will leave his home; Wound of weapon us hath smitten, Worse the lot of those that wait!" After that they all ran out of the sheepcote, but Rodny went indoors with Njal, and was there the rest of the night. ENDNOTES: (1) Mideven, six o'clock p.m. (2) "Warrior's temper," the temper of Hauskuld of Whiteness. (3) "Snake-land's stem," a periphrasis for woman, Rodny. (4) "He that hoardeth ocean's fire," a periphrasis for man, Hauskuld of Whiteness. 104. THE SLAYING OF LYTING'S BROTHERS Now we must speak of Skarphedinn and his brothers, how they bend their course up to Rangriver. Then Skarphedinn said, "Stand we here and listen, and let us go stilly, for I hear the voices of men up along the river's bank. But will ye, Helgi and Grim, deal with Lyting single-handed, or with both his brothers?" They said they would sooner deal with Lyting alone. "Still," says Skarphedinn, "there is more game in him, and methinks it were ill if he gets away, but I trust myself best for not letting him escape." "We will take such steps," says Helgi, "if we get a chance at him, that he shall not slip through our fingers." Then they went thitherward, where they heard the voices of men, and see where Lyting and his brothers are by a stream. Skarphedinn leaps over the stream at once, and alights on the sandy brink on the other side. There upon it stands Hallgrim and his brother. Skarphedinn smites at Hallgrim's thigh, so that he cut the leg clean off, but he grasps Hallstein with his left hand. Lyting thrust at Skarphedinn, but Helgi came up then and threw his shield before the spear, and caught the blow on it. Lyting took up a stone and hurled it at Skarphedinn, and he lost his hold on Hallstein. Hallstein sprang up the sandy bank, but could get up it in no other way than by crawling on his hands and knees. Skarphedinn made a side blow at him with his axe, "the ogress of war," and hews asunder his backbone. Now Lyting turns and flies, but Helgi and Grim both went after him, and each gave him a wound, but still Lyting got across the river away from them, and so to the horses, and gallops till he comes to Ossaby. Hauskuld was at home, and meets him at once. Lyting told him of these deeds. "Such things were to be looked for by thee," says Hauskuld. "Thou hast behaved like a madman, and here the truth of the old saw will be proved; `but a short while is hand fain of blow.' Methinks what thou hast got to look to now is whether thou wilt be able to save thy life or not." "Sure enough," says Lyting, "I had hard work to get away, but still I wish now that thou wouldest get me atoned with Njal and his sons, so that I might keep my farm." "So it shall be," says Hauskuld. After that Hauskuld made them saddle his horse, and rode to Bergthorsknoll with five men. Njal's sons were then come home and had laid them down to sleep. Hauskuld went at once to see Njal, and they began to talk. "Hither am I come," said Hauskuld to Njal, "to beg a boon on behalf of Lyting, my uncle. He has done great wickedness against you and yours, broken his atonement and slain thy son." "Lyting will perhaps think," said Njal, "that he has already paid a heavy fine in the loss of his brothers, but if I grant him any terms, I shall let him reap the good of my love for thee, and I will tell thee before I utter the award of atonement, that Lyting's brothers shall fall as outlaws. Nor shall Lyting have any atonement for his wounds, but on the other hand, he shall pay the full blood-fine for Hauskuld." "My wish," said Hauskuld, "is, that thou shouldest make thine own terms." "Well," says Njal, "then I will utter the award at once if thou wilt." "Wilt thou," says Hauskuld, "that thy sons should be by?" "Then we should be no nearer an atonement than we were before," says Njal, "but they will keep to the atonement which I utter." Then Hauskuld said, "Let us close the matter then, and handsel him peace on behalf of thy sons." "So it shall be," says Njal. "My will then is, that he pays two hundred in silver for the slaying of Hauskuld, but he may still dwell at Samstede; and yet I think it were wiser if he sold his land and changed his abode; but not for this quarrel; neither I nor my sons will break our pledges of peace to him; but methinks it may be that some one may rise up in this country against whom he may have to be on his guard. Yet, lest it should seem that I make a man an outcast from his native place, I allow him to be here in this neighbourhood, but in that case he alone is answerable for what may happen." After that Hauskuld fared home, and Njal's sons woke up as he went and asked their father who had come, but he told them that his foster-son Hauskuld had been there. "He must have come to ask a boon for Lyting then," said Skarphedinn. "So it was," says Njal. "Ill was it then," says Grim. "Hauskuld could not have thrown his shield before him," says Njal, "if thou hadst slain him, as it was meant thou shouldst." "Let us throw no blame on our father," says Skarphedinn. Now it is to be said that this atonement was kept between them afterwards. 105. OF AMUND THE BLIND That event happened three winters after at the Thingskala-Thing that Amund the Blind was at the Thing; he was the son of Hauskuld Njal's son. He made men lead him about among the booths, and so he came to the booth inside which was Lyting of Samstede. He made them lead him into the booth till he came before Lyting. "Is Lyting of Samstede here?" he asked. "What dost thou want?" says Lyting. "I want to know," says Amund, "what atonement thou wilt pay me for my father. I am base-born, and I have touched no fine." "I have atoned for the slaying of thy father," says Lyting, "with a full price, and thy father's father and thy father's brothers took the money; but my brothers fell without a price as outlaws; and so it was that I had both done an ill deed, and paid dear for it." "I ask not," says Amund, "as to thy having paid an atonement to them. I know that ye two are now friends, but I ask this, what atonement thou wilt pay to me?" "None at all," says Lyting. "I cannot see," says Amund, "how thou canst have right before God, when thou hast stricken me so near the heart; but all I can say is, that if I were blessed with the sight of both my eyes, I would have either a money fine for my father, or revenge man for man, and so may God judge between us." After that he went out; but when he came to the door of the booth, he turned short round towards the inside. Then his eyes were opened, and he said, "Praised be the Lord! Now I see what his will is." With that he ran straight into the booth until he comes before Lyting, and smites him with an axe on the head, so that it sunk in up to the hammer, and gives the axe a pull towards him. Lyting fell forwards and was dead at once. Amund goes out to the door of the booth, and when he got to the very same spot on which he had stood when his eyes were opened, lo! they were shut again, and he was blind all his life after. Then he made them lead him to Njal and his sons, and he told them of Lyting's slaying. "Thou mayest not be blamed for this," says Njal, "for such things are settled by a higher power; but it is worth while to take warning from such events, lest we cut any short who have such near claims as Amund had." After that Njal offered an atonement to Lyting's kinsmen. Hauskuld the Priest of Whiteness had a share in bringing Lyting's kinsmen to take the fine, and then the matter was put to an award, and half the fines fell away for the sake of the claim which he seemed to have on Lyting. After that men came forward with pledges of peace and good faith, and Lyting's kinsmen granted pledges to Amund. Men rode home from the Thing; and now all is quiet for a long while. 106. OF VALGARD THE GUILEFUL Valgard the Guileful came back to Iceland that summer; he was then still heathen. He fared to Hof to his son Mord's house, and was there the winter over. He said to Mord, "Here I have ridden far and wide all over the neighbourhood, and methinks I do not know it for the same. I came to Whiteness, and there I saw many tofts of booths and much ground levelled for building. I came to Thingskala-Thing, and there I saw all our booths broken down. What is the meaning of such strange things? "New priesthoods," answers Mord, "have been set up here, and a law for a Fifth Court, and men have declared themselves out of my Thing, and have gone over to Hauskuld's Thing." "Ill hast thou repaid me," said Valgard, "for giving up to thee my priesthood, when thou hast handled it so little like a man, and now my wish is that thou shouldst pay them off by something that will drag them all down to death; and this thou canst do by setting them by the ears by talebearing, so that Njal's sons may slay Hauskuld; but there are many who will have the blood-feud after him, and so Njal's sons will be slain in that quarrel." "I shall never be able to get that done," says Mord. "I will give thee a plan," says Valgard; "thou shalt ask Njal's sons to thy house, and send them away with gifts, but thou shalt keep thy tale-bearing in the background until great friendship has sprung up between you, and they trust thee no worse than their own selves. So wilt thou be able to avenge thyself on Skarphedinn for that he took thy money from thee after Gunnar's death; and in this wise, further on, thou wilt be able to seize the leadership when they are all dead and gone." This plan they settled between them should be brought to pass; and Mord said, "I would, father, that thou wouldst take on thee the new faith. Thou art an old man. "I will not do that," says Valgard. "I would rather that thou shouldst cast off the faith, and see what follows then." Mord said he would not do that. Valgard broke crosses before Mord's face, and all holy tokens. A little after Valgard took a sickness and breathed his last, and he was laid in a cairn by Hof. 107. OF MORD AND NJAL'S SONS Some while after Mord rode to Bergthorsknoll and saw Skarphedinn there; he fell into very fair words with them, and so he talked the whole day, and said he wished to be good friends with them, and to see much of them. Skarphedinn took it all well, but said he had never sought for anything of the kind before. So it came about that he got himself into such great friendship with them, that neither side thought they had taken any good counsel unless the other had a share in it. Njal always disliked his coming thither, and it often happened that he was angry with him. It happened one day that Mord came to Bergthorsknoll, and Mord said to Njal's sons, "I have made up my mind to give a feast yonder, and I mean to drink in my heirship after my father, but to that feast I wish to bid you, Njal's sons, and Kari; and at the same time I give you my word that ye shall not fare away giftless." They promised to go, and now he fares home and makes ready the feast. He bade to it many householders, and that feast was very crowded. Thither came Njal's sons and Kari. Mord gave Skarphedinn a brooch of gold, and a silver belt to Kari, and good gifts to Grim and Helgi. They come home and boast of these gifts, and show them to Njal. He said they would be bought full dear, "and take heed that ye do not repay the giver in the coin which he no doubt wishes to get." 108. OF THE SLANDER OF MORD VALGARD'S SON. A little after Njal's sons and Hauskuld were to have their yearly feasts, and they were the first to bid Hauskuld to come to them. Skarphedinn had a brown horse four winters old, both tall and sightly. He was a stallion, and had never yet been matched in fight. That horse Skarphedinn gave to Hauskuld, and along with him two mares. They all gave Hauskuld gifts, and assured him of their friendship. After that Hauskuld bade them to his house at Ossaby, and had many guests to meet them, and a great crowd. It happened that he had just then taken down his hall, but he had built three outhouses, and there the beds were made. So all that were bidden came, and the feast went off very well. But when men were to go home Hauskuld picked out good gifts for them, and went a part of the way with Njal's sons. The sons of Sigfus followed him and all the crowd, and both sides said that nothing should ever come between them to spoil their friendship. A little while after Mord came to Ossaby and called Hauskuld out to talk with him, and they went aside and spoke. "What a difference in manliness there is," said Mord, "between thee and Njal's sons! Thou gavest them good gifts, but they gave thee gifts with great mockery." "How makest thou that out?" says Hauskuld. "They gave thee a horse which they called a `dark horse,' and that they did out of mockery to thee, because they thought thee too untried. I can tell thee also that they envy thee the priesthood. Skarphedinn took it up as his own at the Thing when thou camest not to the Thing at the summoning of the Fifth Court, and Skarphedinn never means to let it go." "That is not true," says Hauskuld, "for I got it back at the Folkmote last harvest." "Then that was Njal's doing," says Mord. "They broke, too, the atonement about Lyting." "I do not mean to lay that at their door," says Hauskuld. "Well," says Mord, "thou canst not deny that when ye two, Skarphedinn and thou, were going east towards Markfleet, an axe fell out from under his belt, and he meant to have slain thee then and there." "It was his woodman's axe," says Hauskuld, "and I saw how he put it under his belt; and now, Mord, I will just tell thee this right out, that thou canst never say so much ill of Njal's sons as to make me believe it; but though there were aught in it, and it were true as thou sayest, that either I must slay them or they me, then would I far rather suffer death at their hands than work them any harm. But as for thee, thou art all the worse a man for having spoken this." After that Mord fares home. A little after Mord goes to see Njal's sons, and he talks much with those brothers and Kari. "I have been told," says Mord, "that Hauskuld has said that thou, Skarphedinn, hast broken the atonement made with Lyting; but I was made aware also that he thought that thou hadst meant some treachery against him when ye two fared to Markfleet. But still, methinks that was no less treachery when he bade you to a feast at his house, and stowed you away in an outhouse that was farthest from the house, and wood was then heaped round the outhouse all night, and he meant to burn you all inside; but it so happened that Hogni Gunnar's son came that night, and naught came of their onslaught, for they were afraid of him. After that he followed you on your way and great band of men with him, then he meant to make another onslaught on you, and set Grani Gunnar's son, and Gunnar Lambi's son to kill thee; but their hearts failed them, and they dared not to fall on thee." But when he had spoken thus, first of all they spoke against it, but the end of it was that they believed him, and from that day forth a coldness sprung up on their part towards Hauskuld, and they scarcely ever spoke to him when they met; but Hauskuld showed them little deference, and so things went on for a while. Next harvest Hauskuld fared east to Swinefell to a feast, and Flosi gave him a hearty welcome. Hildigunna was there too. Then Flosi spoke to Hauskuld and said, "Hildigunna tells me that there is great coldness with you and Njal's sons, and methinks that is ill, and I will beg thee not to ride west, but I will get thee a homestead in Skaptarfell, and I will send my brother, Thorgeir, to dwell at Ossaby." "Then some will say," says Hauskuld, "that I am flying thence for fear's sake, and that I will not have said." "Then it is more likely that great trouble will arise," says Flosi. "Ill is that then," says Hauskuld, "for I would rather fall unatoned, than that many should reap ill for my sake." Hauskuld busked him to ride home a few nights after, but Flosi gave him a scarlet cloak, and it was embroidered with needlework down to the waist. Hauskuld rode home to Ossaby, and now all is quiet for a while. Hauskuld was so much beloved that few men were his foes, but the same ill-will went on between him and Njal's sons the whole winter through. Njal had taken as his foster-child, Thord, the son of Kari. He had also fostered Thorhall, the son of Asgrim Ellidagrim's son. Thorhall was a strong man, and hardy both in body and mind, he had learnt so much law that he was the third greatest lawyer in Iceland. Next spring was an early spring, and men are busy sowing their corn. 109. OF MORD AND NJAL'S SONS It happened one day that Mord came to Berathorsknoll. He and Kari and Njal's sons fell a-talking at once, and Mord slanders Hauskuld after his wont, and has now many new tales to tell, and does naught but egg Skarphedinn and them on to slay Hauskuld, and said he would be beforehand with them if they did not fall on him at once. "I will let thee have thy way in this," says Skarphedinn, "if thou wilt fare with us, and have some hand in it." "That I am ready to do," says Mord, and so they bound that fast with promises, and he was to come there that evening. Bergthora asked Njal, "What are they talking about out of doors?" "I am not in their counsels," says Njal, "but I was seldom left out of them when their plans were good." Skarphedinn did not lie down to rest that evening, nor his brothers, nor Kari. That same night, when it was well-nigh spent, came Mord Valgard's son, and Njal's sons and Kari took their weapons and rode away. They fared till they came to Ossaby, and bided there by a fence. The weather was good, and the sun just risen. 110. THE SLAYING OF HAUSKULD, THE PRIEST OFWHITENESS About that time Hauskuld, the Priest of Whiteness, awoke; he put on his clothes, and threw over him his cloak, Flosi's gift. He took his corn-sieve, and had his sword in his other hand, and walks towards the fence, and sows the corn as he goes. Skarphedinn and his band had agreed that they would all give him a wound. Skarphedinn sprang up from behind the fence, but when Hauskuld saw him he wanted to turn away, then Skarphedinn ran up to him and said, "Don't try to turn on thy heel, Whiteness priest," and hews at him, and the blow came on his head, and he fell on his knees. Hauskuld said these words when he fell, "God help me, and forgive you!" Then they all ran up to him and gave him wounds. After that Mord said, "A plan comes into my mind." "What is that?" says Skarphedinn. "That I shall fare home as soon as I can, but after that I will fare up to Gritwater, and tell them the tidings, and say 'tis an ill deed; but I know surely that Thorgerda will ask me to give notice of the slaying, and I will do that, for that will be the surest way to spoil their suit. I will also send a man to Ossaby and know how soon they take any counsel in the matter, and that man will learn all these tidings thence, and I will make believe that I have heard them from him." "Do so by all means," says Skarphedinn. Those brothers fared home, and Kari with them, and when they came home they told Njal the tidings. "Sorrowful tidings are these," says Njal, "and such are ill to hear, for sooth to say this grief touches me so nearly, that methinks it were better to have lost two of my sons and that Hauskuld lived." "It is some excuse for thee," says Skarphedinn, "that thou art an old man, and it is to be looked for that this touches thee nearly." "But this," says Njal, "no less than old age, is why I grieve, that I know better than thou what will come after." "What will come after?" says Skarphedinn. "My death," says Njal, "and the death of my wife and of all my sons." "What dost thou foretell for me?" says Kari. "They will have hard work to go against thy good fortune, for thou wilt be more than a match for all of them." This one thing touched Njal so nearly that he could never speak of it without shedding tears. 111. OF HILDIGNNA AND MORD VALGARD'S SON Hildigunna woke up and found that Hauskuld was away out of his bed. "Hard have been my dreams," she said, "and not good; but go and search for him, Hauskuld." So they searched for him about the homestead and found him not. By that time she had dressed herself; then she goes and two men with her, to the fence, and there they find Hauskuld slain. Just then, too, came up Mord Valgard's son's shepherd, and told her that Njal's sons had gone down thence, "and," he said, "Skarphedinn called out to me and gave notice of the slaying as done by him." "It were a manly deed," she says, "if one man had been at it." She took the cloak and wiped off all the blood with it, and wrapped the gouts of gore up in it, and so folded it together and laid it up in her chest. Now she sent a man up to Gritwater to tell the tidings thither, but Mord was there before him, and had already told the tidings. There, too, was come Kettle of the Mark. Thorgerda said to Kettle, "Now is Hauskuld dead as we know, and now bear in mind what thou promisedst to do when thou tookest him for thy fosterchild." "It may well be," says Kettle, "that I promised very many things then, for I thought not that these days would ever befall us that have now come to pass; but yet I am come into a strait, for `nose is next of kin to eyes,' since I have Njal's daughter to wife." "Art thou willing, then," says Thorgerda, "that Mord should give notice of the suit for the slaying?" "I know not that," says Kettle, "for me ill comes from him more often than good." But as soon as ever Mord began to speak to Kettle he fared the same as others, in that he thought as though Mord would be true to him, and so the end of their counsel was that Mord should give notice of the slaying, and get ready the suit in every way before the Thing. Then Mord fared down to Ossaby, and thither came nine neighbours who dwelt nearest the spot. Mord had ten men with him. He shows the neighbours Hauskuld's wounds, and takes witness to the hurts, and names a man as the dealer of every wound save one; that he made as though he knew not who had dealt it, but that wound he had dealt himself. But the slaying he gave notice of at Skarphedinn's hand, and the wounds at his brothers' and Kari's. After that he called on nine neighbours who dwelt nearest the spot to ride away from home to the Althing on the inquest. After that he rode home. He scarce ever met Njal's sons, and when he did meet them, he was cross, and that was part of their plan. The slaying of Hauskuld was heard over all the land, and was ill-spoken of. Njal's sons went to see Asgrim Ellidagrim's son, and asked him for aid. "Ye very well know that ye may look that I shall help you in all great suits, but still my heart is heavy about this suit, for there are many who have the blood feud, and this slaying is ill- spoken of over all the land." Now Njal's sons fare home. 112. THE PEDIGREE OF GUDMUND THE POWERFUL There was a man named Gudmund the Powerful, who dwelt at Modruvale in Eyjafirth. He was the son of Eyjolf the son of Einar (1). Gudmund was a mighty chief, wealthy in goods; he had in his house a hundred hired servants. He overbore in rank and weight all the chiefs in the north country, so that some left their homesteads, but some he put to death, and some gave up their priesthoods for his sake, and from him are come the greatest part of all the picked and famous families in the land, such as "the Pointdwellers" and the "Sturlungs" and the "Hvamdwellers," and the "Fleetmen," and Kettle the Bishop, and many of the greatest men. Gudmund was a friend of Asgrim Ellidagrim's son, and so he hoped to get his help. ENDNOTES: (1) Einar was the son of Audun the Bald, the son of Thorolf Butter, the son of Thorstein the Unstable, the son of Grim with the Tuft. The mother of Gudmund was Hallberg, the daughter of Thorodd Helm, but the mother of Hallbera was Reginleifa, daughter of Saemund the South-islander; after him is named Saemundslithe in Skagafirth. The mother of Eyjolf, Gudmund's father, was Valgerda Runolf's daughter; the mother of Valgerda was Valbjorg, her mother was Joruna the Disowned, a daughter of King Oswald the Saint. The mother of Einar, the father of Eyjolf, was Helga, a daughter of Helgi the Lean, who took Eyjafirth as the first settler. Helgi was the son of Eyvind the Easterling. The mother of Helgi was Raforta, the daughter of Kjarval, the Erse King. The mother of Helga Helgi's daughter, was Thoruna the Horned, daughter of Kettle Flatnose, the son of Bjorn the Rough-footed, the son of Grim, Lord of Sogn. The mother of Grim was Hervora, but the mother of Hervora was Thorgerda, daughter of King Haleyg of Helgeland. Thorlauga was the name of Gudmund the Powerful's wife, she was a daughter of Atli the Strong, the son of Eilif the Eagle. the son of Bard, the son of Jalkettle, the son of Ref, the son of Skidi the Old. Herdisa was the name of Thorlauga's mother, a daughter of Thord of the Head, the son of Bjorn Butter- carrier, the son of Hroald the son of Hrodlaug the Sad, the son of Bjorn Ironside, the son of Ragnar Hairybreeks, the son of Sigurd Ring, the son of Randver, the son of Radbard. The mother of Herdisa Thord's daughter was Thorgerda Skidi's daughter, her mother was Fridgerda, a daughter of Kjarval, the Erse King. 113. OF SNORRI THE PRIEST, AND HIS STOCK There was a man named Snorri, who was surnamed the Priest. He dwelt at Helgafell before Gudruna Oswif's daughter bought the land of him, and dwelt there till she died of old age; but Snorri then went and dwelt at Hvamsfirth on Saelingdale's tongue. Thorgrim was the name of Snorri's father, and he was a son of Thorstein codcatcher (1). Snorri was a great friend of Asgrim Ellidagrim's son, and he looked for help there also. Snorri was the wisest and shrewdest of all these men in Iceland who had not the gift of foresight. He was good to his friends, but grim to his foes. At that time there was a great riding to the Thing out of all the Quarters, and men had many suits set on foot. ENDNOTES: (1) Thorstein Codcatcher was the son of Thorolf Mostrarskegg, the son of Ornolf Fish-driver, but Ari the Wise ways he was the son of Thorgil Reydarside. Thorolf Mostrarskegg had to wife Oska, the daughter of Thorstein the Red. The mother of Thorgrim was named Thora, a daughter of Oleif the Shy, the son of Thorstein the Red, the son of Oleif the White, the son of Ingialld, the son of Helgi; but the mother of Ingialld was Thora, a daughter of Sigurd Snake-eye, son of Ragnar Hairybreeks; but the mother of Snorri the Priest was Thordisa, the daughter of Sur, and the sister of Gisli. 114. OF FLOSI THORD'S SON Flosi hears of Hauskuld's slaying, and that brings him much grief and wrath, but still he kept his feelings well in hand. He was told how the suit had been set on foot, as has been said, for Hauskuld's slaying, and he said little about it. He sent word to Hall of the Side, his father-in-law, and to Ljot his son, that they must gather in a great company at the Thing. Ljot was thought the most hopeful man for a chief away there east. It had been foretold that if he could ride three summers running to the Thing, and come safe and sound home, that then he would be the greatest chief in all his family, and the oldest man. He had then ridden one summer to the Thing, and now he meant to ride the second time. Flosi sent word to Kol Thorstein's son, and Glum the son of Hilldir the Old, the son of Gerleif, the son of Aunund Wallet- back, and to Modolf Kettle's son, and they all rode to meet Flosi. Hall gave his word, too, to gather a great company, and Flosi rode till he came to Kirkby, to Surt Asbjorn's son. Then Flosi sent after Kolbein Egil's son, his brother's son, and he came to him there. Thence he rode to Headbrink. There dwelt Thorgrim the Showy, the son of Thorkel the Fair. Flosi begged him to ride to the Althing with him, and he said yea to the journey, and spoke thus to Flosi, "Often hast thou been more glad, master, than thou art now, but thou hast some right to be so." "Of a truth," said Flosi, "that hath now come on my hands, which I would give all my goods that it had never happened. Ill seed has been sown, and so an ill crop will spring from it." Thence he rode over Amstacksheath, and so to Solheim that evening. There dwelt Lodmund Wolf's son, but he was a great friend of Flosi, and there he stayed that night, and next morning Lodmund rode with him into the Dale. There dwelt RunoIf, the son of Wolf Aurpriest. Flosi said to Runolf, "Here we shall have true stories as to the slaying of Hauskuld, the Priest of Whiteness. Thou art a truthful man, and hast got at the truth by asking, and I will trust to all that thou tellest me as to what was the cause of quarrel between them." "There is no good in mincing the matter," said Runolf, "but we must say outright that he has been slain for less than no cause; and his death is a great grief to all men. No one thinks it so much a loss as Njal, his foster-father." "Then they will be ill off for help from men," says Flosi; "and they will find no one to speak up for them." "So it will be," says Runolf, "unless it be otherwise foredoomed." "What has been done in the suit?" says Flosi. "Now the neighbours have been summoned on the inquest," says Runolf, "and due notice given of the suit for manslaughter." "Who took that step?" asks Flosi. "Mord Valgard's son," says Runolf. "How far is that to be trusted?" says Flosi. "He is of my kin," says Runolf; "but still if I tell the truth of him, I must say that more men reap ill than good from him. But this one thing I will ask of thee, Flosi, that thou givest rest to thy wrath, and takest the matter up in such a way as may lead to the least trouble. For Njal will make a good offer, and so will others of the best men." "Ride thou then to the Thing, Runolf," said Flosi, "and thy words shall have much weight with me, unless things turn out worse than they should." After that they cease speaking about it, and Runolf promised to go to the Thing. Runolf sent word to Hafr the Wise, his kinsman, and he rode thither at once. Thence Flosi rode to Ossaby. 115. OF FLOSI AND HILDIGUNNA Hildigunna was out of doors, and said, "Now shall all the men of my household be out of doors when Flosi rides into the yard; but the women shall sweep the house and deck it with hangings, and make ready the high seat for Flosi." Then Flosi rode into the town, and Hildigunna turned to him and said, "Come in safe and sound and happy kinsman, and my heart is fain at thy coming hither." "Here," says Flosi, "we will break our fast, and then we will ride on." Then their horses were tethered, and Flosi went into the sitting- room and sat him down, and spurned the high seat away from him on the dais, and said, "I am neither king nor earl, and there is no need to make a high seat for me to sit on, nor is there any need to make a mock of me." Hildigunna was standing close by, and said, "It is ill if it mislikes thee, for this we did with a whole heart." "If thy heart is whole towards me, then what I do will praise itself if it be well done, but it will blame itself if it be ill done." Hildigunna laughed a cold laugh, and said, "There is nothing new in that, we will go nearer yet ere we have done." She sat her down by Flosi, and they talked long and low. After that the board was laid, and Flosi and his band washed their hands. Flosi looked hard at the towel and saw that it was all in rags, and had one end torn off. He threw it down on the bench and would not wipe himself with it, but tore off a piece of the tablecloth, and wiped himself with that, and then threw it to his men. After that Flosi sat down to the board and bade men eat. Then Hildigunna came into the room and went before Flosi, and threw her hair off her eyes and wept. "Heavy-hearted art thou now, kinswoman," said Flosi, "when thou weepest, but still it is well that thou shouldst weep for a good husband." "What vengeance or help shall I have of thee?" she says. "I will follow up thy suit," said Flosi, "to the utmost limit of the law, or strive for that atonement which good men and true shall say that we ought to have as full amends." "Hauskuld would avenge thee," she said, "if he had the blood-feud after thee." "Thou lackest not grimness," answered Flosi, "and what thou wantest is plain." "Arnor Ornolf's son, of Forswaterwood," said Hildigunna, "had done less wrong towards Thord Frey's priest thy father; and yet thy brothers Kolbein and Egil slew him at Skaptarfells-Thing." Then Hildigunna went back into the hall and unlocked her chest, and then she took out the cloak, Flosi's gift, and in it Hauskuld had been slain, and there she had kept it, blood and all. Then she went back into the sitting-room with the Cloak; she went up silently to Flosi. Flosi had just then eaten his full, and the board was cleared. Hildigunna threw the cloak over Flosi, and the gore rattled down all over him. Then she spoke and said, "This cloak, Flosi, thou gavest to Hauskuld, and now I will give it back to thee; he was slain in it, and I call God and all good men to witness, that I abjure thee, by all the might of thy Christ, and by thy manhood and bravery, to take vengeance for all those wounds which he had on his dead body, or else to be called every man's dastard." Flosi threw the cloak off him and hurled it into her lap, and said, "Thou art the greatest hell-hag, and thou wishest that we should take that course which will be the worst for all of us. But `women's counsel is ever cruel.'" Flosi was so stirred at this, that sometimes he was bloodred in the face, and sometimes ashy pale as withered grass, and sometimes blue as death. Flosi and his men rode away; he rode to Holtford, and there waits for the sons of Sigfus and other of his men. Ingialld dwelt at the Springs; he was the brother of Rodny, Hauskuld Njal's son's mother (1). Ingialld had to wife Thraslauga, the daughter of Egil, the son of Thord Frey's priest (2). Flosi sent word to Ingialld to come to him, and Ingialld went at once, with fourteen men. They were all of his household. Ingialld was a tall man and a strong, and slow to meddle with other men's business, one of the bravest of men, and very bountiful to his friends. Flosi greeted him well, and said to him, "Great trouble hath now come on me and my brothers-in-law, and it is hard to see our way out of it; I beseech thee not to part from my suit until this trouble is past and gone." "I am come into a strait myself," said Ingialld, "for the sake of the ties that there are between me and Njal and his sons, and other great matters which stand in the way." "I thought," said Flosi, "when I gave away my brother's daughter to thee, that thou gavest me thy word to stand by me in every suit." "It is most likely," says Ingialld, "that I shall do so, but still I will now, first of all, ride home, and thence to the Thing." ENDNOTES: (1) They were children of Hauskuld the White, the son of Ingialld the Strong, the son of Gerfinn the Red, the son of Solvi, the son of Tborstein Baresarks-bane. (2) The mother of Egil was Thraslauga, the daughter of Thorstein Titling; the mother of Thraslauga was Unna, the daughter of Eyvind Karf. 116. OF FLOSI AND MORD AND THE SONS OF SIGFUS The sons of Sigfus heard how Flosi was at Holtford, and they rode thither to meet him, and there were Kettle of the Mark, and Lambi his brother, Thorkell and Mord, the sons of Sigfus, Sigmund their brother, and Lambi Sigurd's son, and Gunnar Lambi's son, and Grani Gunnar's son, and Vebrand Hamond's son. Flosi stood up to meet them, and greeted them gladly. So they went down the river. Flosi had the whole story from them about the slaying, and there was no difference between them and Kettle of the Mark's story. Flosi spoke to Kettle of the Mark, and said, "This now I ask of thee; how tightly are your hearts knit as to this suit, thou and the other sons of Sigfus?" "My wish is," said Kettle, "that there should be peace between us, but yet I have sworn an oath not to part from this suit till it has been brought somehow to an end; and to lay my life on it." "Thou art a good man and true," said Flosi, "and it is well to have such men with one." Then Grani Gunnar's son and Lambi Sigurd's son both spoke together, and said, "We wish for outlawry and death." "It is not given us," said Flosi, "both to share and choose, we must take what we can get." "I have had it in my heart," says Grani, "ever since they slew Thrain by Markfleet, and after that his son Hauskuld, never to be atoned with them by a lasting peace, for I would willingly stand by when they were all slain, every man of them." "Thou hast stood so near to them," said Flosi, "that thou mightest have avenged these things hadst thou had the heart and manhood. Methinks thou and many others now ask for what ye would give much money hereafter never to have had a share in. I see this clearly, that though we slay Njal or his sons, still they are men of so great worth, and of such good family, that there will be such a blood feud and hue and cry after them, that we shall have to fall on our knees before many a man, and beg for help, ere we get an atonement and find our way out of this strait. Ye may make up your minds, then, that many will become poor who before had great goods, but some of vou will lose both goods and life." Mord Valgard's son rode to meet Flosi, and said he would ride to the Thing with him with all his men. Flosi took that well, and raised a matter of a wedding with him, that he should give away Rannveiga his daughter to Starkad Flosi's brother's son, who dwelt at Staffell. Flosi did this because he thouoht he would so make sure both of his faithfulness and force. Mord took the wedding kindly, but handed the matter over to Gizur the White, and bade him talk about it at the Thing. Mord had to wife Thorkatla, Gizur the White's daughter. They two, Mord and Flosi, rode both together to the Thing, and talked the whole day, and no man knew aught of their counsel. 117. NJAL AND SKARPHEDINN TALK TOGETHER Now, we must say how Njal said to Skarphedinn. "What plan have ye laid down for yourselves, thou and thy brothers and Kari?" "Little reck we of dreams in most matters," said Skarphedinn; "but if thou must know, we shall ride to Tongue to Asgrim Ellidagrim's son, and thence to the Thing; but, what meanest thou to do about thine own journey, father?" "I shall ride to the Thing," says Njal, "for it belongs to my honour not to be severed from your suit so long as I live. I ween that many men will have good words to say of me, and so I shall stand you in good stead, and do you no harm." There, too, was Thorhall Asgrim's son, and Njal's fosterson. The sons of Njal laughed at him because he was clad in a coat of russet, and asked how long he meant to wear that? "I shall have thrown it off," he said, "when I have to follow up the blood-feud for my foster-father." "There will ever be most good in thee," said Njal, "when there is most need of it." So they all busked them to ride away from home, and were nigh thirty men in all, and rode till they came to Thursowater. Then came after them Njal's kinsmen, Thorleif Crow, and Thorgrim the Big; they were Holt-Thorir's sons, and offered their help and following to Njal's sons, and they took that gladly. So they rode altogether across Thursowater, until they came on Laxwater bank, and took a rest and baited their horses there, and there Hjallti Skeggi's son came to meet them, and Njal's sons fell to talking with him, and they talked long and low. "Now, I will show," said Hjallti, "that I am not blackhearted; Njal has asked me for help, and I have agreed to it, and given my word to aid him; he has often given me and many others the worth of it in cunning counsel." Hjallti tells Njal all about Flosi's doings. They sent Thorhall on to Tongue to tell Asgrim that they would be there that evening; and Asgrim made ready at once, and was out of doors to meet them when Njal rode into the town." Njal was clad in a blue cape, and had a felt hat on his head, and a small axe in his hand. Asgrim helped Njal off his horse, and led him and sate him down in his own seat. After that they all went in, Njal's sons and Kari. Then Asgrim went out. Hjallti wished to turn away, and thought there were too many there; but Asgrim caught hold of his reins, and said he should never have his way in riding off, and made men unsaddle their horses, and led Hjallti in and sate him down by Njal's side; but Thorleif and his brother sat on the other bench and their men with them. Asgrim sate him down on a stool before Njal, and asked, "What says thy heart about our matter?" "It speaks rather heavily," says Njal, "for I am afraid that we shall have no lucky men with us in the suit; but I would, friend, that thou shouldest send after all the men who belong to thy Thing, and ride to the Althing with me." "I have always meant to do that," says Asgrim; "and this I will promise thee at the same time, that I will never leave thy cause while I can get any men to follow me." But all those who were in the house thanked him, and said that was bravely spoken. They were there that night, but the day after all Asgrim's band came thither. And after that they all rode together till they come up on the Thing-field, and fit up their booths.