The Story of Burnt Njal
Part 8: Sections 118 - 129
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #11
118. ASGRIM AND NJAL'S SONS PRAY MEN FOR HELP By that time Flosi had come to the Thing, and filled all his booths. Runolf filled the Dale-dwellers' booths, and Mord the booths of the men from Rangriver. Hall of the Side had long since come from the east, but scarce any of the other men; but still Hall of the Side had come with a great band, and joined this at once to Flosi's company, and begged him to take an atonement and to make peace. Hall was a wise man and good-hearted. Flosi answered him well in everything, but gave way in nothing. Hall asked what men had promised him help? Flosi named Mord Valgard's son, and said he had asked for his daughter at the hand of his kinsman Starkad. Hall said she was a good match, but it was ill dealing with Mord, "And that thou wilt put to the proof ere this Thing be over." After that they ceased talking. One day Njal and Asgrim had a long talk in secret. Then all at once Asgrim sprang up and said to Njal's sons, "We must set about seeking friends, that we may not be overborne by force; for this suit will be followed up boldly." Then Asgrim went out, and Helgi Njal's son next; then Kari Solmund's son; then Grim Njal's son; then Skarphedinn; then Thorhall; then Thorgrim the Big; then Thorleif Crow. They went to the booth of Gizur the White and inside it. Gizur stood up to meet them, and bade them sit down and drink. "Not thitherward," says Asgrim, "tends our way, and we will speak our errand out loud, and not mutter and mouth about it. What help shall I have from thee, as thou art my kinsman?" "Jorunn, my sister," said Gizur, "would wish that I should not shrink from standing by thee; and so it shall be now and hereafter, that we will both of us have the same fate." Asgrim thanked him, and went away afterwards. Then Skarphedinn asked, "Whither shall we go now?" "To the booths of the men of Olfus," says Asgrim. So they went thither, and Asgrim asked whether Skapti Thorod's son were in the booth? He was told that he was. Then they went inside the booth. Skapti sate on the cross-bench, and greeted Asgrim, and he took the greeting well. Skapti offered Asgrim a seat by his side, but Asgrim said he should only stay there a little while, "But still we have an errand to thee." "Let me hear it?" says Skapti. "I wish to beg thee for thy help, that thou wilt stand by us in our suit." "One thing I had hoped," says Skapti, "and that is, that neither you nor your troubles would ever come into my dwelling." "Such things are ill-spoken," says Asgrim, "when a man is the last to help others, when most lies on his aid." "Who is yon man," says Skapti, "before whom four men walk, a big burly man, and pale-faced, unlucky-looking, well-knit, and troll-like?" "My name is Skarphedinn," he answers, "and thou hast often seen me at the Thing; but in this I am wiser than you, that I have no need to ask what thy name is. Thy name is Skapti Thorod's son, but before thou calledst thyself `Bristlepoll,' after thou hadst slain Kettle of Elda; then thou shavedst thy poll, and puttedst pitch on thy head, and then thou hiredst thralls to cut up a sod of turf, and thou creptest underneath it to spend the night. After that thou wentest to Thorolf Lopt's son of Eyrar, and he took thee on board, and bore thee out here in his meal sacks." After that Asgrim and his band went out, and Skarphedinn asked, "Whither shall we go now?" "To Snorri the Priest's booth," says Asgrim. Then they went to Snorri's booth. There was a man outside before the booth, and Asgrim asked whether Snorri were in the booth. The man said he was. Asgrim went into the booth, and all the others. Snorri was sitting on the cross-bench, and Asgrim went and stood before him, and hailed him well. Snorri took his greeting blithely, and bade him sit down. Asgrim said he should be only a short time there, "But we have an errand with thee." Snorri bade him tell it. "I would," said Asgrim, "that thou wouldst come with me to the court, and stand by me with thy help, for thou art a wise man, and a great man of business." "Suits fall heavy on us now," says Snorri the Priest, "and now many men push forward against us, and so we are slow to take up the troublesome suits of other men from other quarters." "Thou mayest stand excused," says Asgrim "for thou art not in our debt for any service." "I know," says Snorri, "that thou art a good man and true, and I will promise thee this, that I will not be against thee, and not yield help to thy foes." Asgrim thanked him, and Snorri the Priest asked, "Who is that man before whom four go, pale-faced, and sharp-featured, and who shows his front teeth, and has his axe aloft on his shoulder." "My name is Hedinn," he says, "but some men call me Skarphedinn by my full name; but what more hast thou to say to me." "This," said Snorri the Priest, "that methinks thou art a well- knit, ready-handed man, but yet I guess that the best part of thy good fortune is past, and I ween thou hast now not long to live." "That is well," says Skarphedinn, "for that is a debt we all have to pay, but still it were more needful to avenge thy father than to foretell my fate in this way." "Many have said that before," says Snorri, "and I will not be angry at such words." After that they went out, and got no help there. Then they fared to the booths of the men of Skagafirth. There Hafr (1) the Wealthy had his booth. The mother of Hafr was named Thoruna, she was a daughter of Asbjorn Baldpate of Myrka, the son of Hrosbjorn. Asgrim and his band went into the booth, and Hafr sate in the midst of it, and was talking to a man. Asgrim went up to him, and bailed him well; he took it kindly, and bade him sit down. "This I would ask of thee," said Asgrim, "that thou wouldst grant me and my sons-in-law help. Hafr answered sharp and quick, and said he would have nothing to do with their troubles. "But still I must ask who that pale-faced man is before whom four men go, so ill-looking, as though he had come out of the sea-crags." "Never mind, milksop that thou art!" said Skarphedinn, "who I am, for I will dare to go forward wherever thou standest before me, and little would I fear though such striplings were in my path. 'Twere rather thy duty, too, to get back thy sister Swanlauga, whom Eydis Ironsword and his messmate Stediakoll took away out of thy house, but thou didst not dare to do aught against them." "Let us go out," said Asgrim, "there is no hope of help here." Then they went out to the booths of men of Modruvale, and asked whether Gudmund the Powerful were in the booth, but they were told he was. Then they went into the booth. There was a high seat in the midst of it, and there sate Gudmund the Powerful. Asgrim went and stood before him, and hailed him. Gudmund took his greeting well, and asked him to sit down. "I will not sit," said Asgrim, "but I wish to pray thee for help, for thou art a bold man and a mighty chief." "I will not be against thee," said Gudmund, "but if I see fit to yield thee help, we may well talk of that afterwards," and so he treated them well and kindly in every way. Asgrim thanked him for his words, and Gudmund said, "There is one man in your band at whom I have gazed for a while, and he seems to me more terrible than most men that I have seen." "Which is he?" says Asgrim. "Four go before him," says Gudmund; "dark brown is his hair, and pale is his face; tall of growth and sturdy. So quick and shifty in his manliness that I would rather have his following than that of ten other men; but yet the man is unlucky-looking." "I know," said Skarphedinn, "that thou speakest at me, but it does not go in the same way as to luck with me and thee. I have blame, indeed, from the slaying of Hauskuld, the Whiteness Priest, as is fair and right; but both Thorkel Foulmouth and Thorir Helgi's son spread abroad bad stories about thee, and that has tried thy temper very much." Then they went out, and Skarphedinn said, "Whither shall we go now?" "To the booths of the men of Lightwater," said Asgrim. There Thorkel Foulmouth (2) had set up his booth. Thorkel Foulmouth had been abroad and worked his way to fame in other lands. He had slain a robber east in Jemtland's wood, and then he fared on east into Sweden, and was a messmate of Saurkvir the Churl, and they harried eastward ho; but to the east of Baltic side (3) Thorkel had to fetch water for them one evening; then he met a wild man of the woods (4), and struggled against him long; but the end of it was that he slew the wild man. Thence he fared east into Adalsyssla, and there he slew a flying fire-drake. After that he fared back to Sweden, and thence to Norway, and so out to Iceland, and let these deeds of derring do be carved over his shut bed, and on the stool before his high seat. He fought, too, on Lightwater way with his brothers against Gudmund the Powerful, and the men of Lightwater won the day. He and Thorir Helgi's son spread abroad bad stories about Gudmund. Thorkel said there was no man in Iceland with whom he would not fight in single combat, or yield an inch to, if need were. He was called Thorkel Foulmouth, because he spared no one with whom he had to do either in word or deed. ENDNOTES: (1) Hafr was the son of Thorkel, the son of Eric of Gooddale, the son of Geirmund, the son of Hroald, the son of Eric Frizzlebeard who felled Gritgarth in Soknardale in Norway. (2) Thorkel was the son of Thorgeir the Priest, the son of Tjorfi, the son of Thorkel the Long; but the mother of Thorgeir was Thoruna, the daughter of Thorstein, the son of Sigmund, son of Bard of the Nip. The mother of Thorkel Foulmouth was named Gudrida; she was a daughter of Thorkel the B1ack of Hleidrargarth, the son of Thorir Tag, the son of Kettle the Seal, the son of Ornolf, the son of Bjornolf, the son of Grim Hairy-cheek, the son of Kettle Haeing, the son of Hallbjorn Halftroll. (3) "Baltic side." This probably means a part of the Finnish coast in the Gulf of Bothnia. See "Fornm. Sogur", xii. 264-5. (4) "Wild man of the woods." In the original Finngalkn, a fabulous monster, half man and half beast. 119. OF SKARPHEDINN AND THORKEL FOULMOUTH Asgrim and his fellows went to Thorkel Foulmouth's booth, and Asgrim said then to his companions, "This booth Thorkel Foulmouth owns, a great champion, and it were worth much to us to get his-help. We must here take heed in everything, for he is self- willed and bad tempered; and now I will beg thee, Skarphedinn, not to let thyself be led into our talk." Skarphedinn smiled at that. He was so clad, he had on a blue kirtle and grey breeks, and black shoes on his feet, coming high up his leg; he had a silver belt about him, and that same axe in his hand with which he slew Thrain, and which he called the "ogress of war," a round buckler, and a silken band round his brow, and his hair brushed back behind his ears. He was the most soldier-like of men, and by that all men knew him. He went in his appointed place, and neither before nor behind. Now they went into the booth and into its inner chamber. Thorkel sate in the middle of the cross-bench, and his men away from him on all sides. Asgrim hailed him, and Thorkel took the greeting well, and Asgrim said to him, "For this have we come hither, to ask help of thee, and that thou wouldst come to the Court with us." "What need can ye have of my help," said Thorkel, "when ye have already gone to Gudmund; he must surely have promised thee his help?" "We could not get his help," says Asgrim. "Then Gudmund thought the suit likely to make him foes," said Thorkel; "and so no doubt it will be, for such deeds are the worst that have ever been done; nor do I know what can have driven you to come hither to me, and to think that I should be easier to undertake your suit than Gudmund, or that I would back a wrongful quarrel." Then Asgrim held his peace, and thought it would be hard work to win him over. Then Thorkel went on and said, "Who is that big and ugly fellow, before whom four men go, pale-faced and sharp featured, and unlucky-looking, and cross-grained?" "My name is Skarphedinn," said Skarphedinn, "and thou hast no right to pick me out, a guiltless man, for thy railing. It never has befallen me to make my father bow down before me, or to have fought against him, as thou didst with thy father. Thou hast ridden little to the Althing, or toiled in quarrels at it, and no doubt it is handier for thee to mind thy milking pails at home than to be here at Axewater in idleness. But stay, it were as well if thou pickedst out from thy teeth that steak of mare's rump which thou atest ere thou rodest to the Thing while thy shepherd looked on all the while, and wondered that thou couldst work such filthiness!" Then Thorkel sprang up in mickle wrath, and clutched his short sword and said, "This sword I got in Sweden when I slew the greatest champion, but since then I have slain many a man with it, and as soon as ever I reach thee I will drive it through thee, and thou shalt take that for thy bitter words." Skarphedinn stood with his axe aloft, and smiled scornfully and said, "This axe I had in my hand when I leapt twelve ells across Markfleet and slew Thrain Sigfus' son, and eight of them stood before me, and none of them could touch me. Never have I aimed weapon at man that I have not smitten him." And with that he tore himself from his brothers, and Kari his brother-in-law, and strode forward to Thorkel. Then Skarphedinn said, "Now, Thorkel Foulmouth, do one of these two things: sheathe thy sword and sit thee down, or I drive the axe into thy head and cleave thee down to the chine." Then Thorkel sate him down and sheathed the sword, and such a thing never happened to him either before or since. Then Asgrim and his band go out, and Skarphedinn said, "Whither shall we now go?" "Home to our booths," answered Asgrim. "Then we fare back to our booths wearied of begging," says Skarphedinn. "In many places," said Asgrim, "hast thou been rather sharp- tongued, but here now, in what Thorkel had a share methinks thou hast only treated him as is fitting," Then they went home to their booths, and told Njal, word for word, all that had been done. "Things," he said, "draw on to what must be." Now Gudmund the Powerful heard what has passed between Thorkel and Skarphedinn, and said, "Ye all know how things fared between us and the men of Lightwater, but I have never suffered such scorn and mocking at their hands as has befallen Thorkel from Skarphedinn, and this is just as it should be." Then he said to Einar of Thvera, his brother, "Thou shalt go with all my band, and stand by Njal's sons when the courts go out to try suits; but if they need help next summer, then I myself will yield them help." Einar agreed to that, and sent and told Asgrim, and Asgrim said, "There is no man like Gudmund for nobleness of mind," and then he told it to Njal. 120. OF THE PLEADING OF THE SUIT The next day Asgrim, and Gizur the White, and Hjallti Skeggi's son, and Einar of Thvera, met together. There, too, was Mord Valgard's son; he had then let the suit fall from his hand, and given it over to the sons of Sigfus. Then Asgrim spoke. "Thee first I speak to about this matter, Gizur the White and thee Hjallti, and thee Einar, that I may tell you how the suit stands. It will be known to all of you that Mord took up the suit, but the truth of the matter is, that Mord was at Hauskuld's slaying, and wounded him with that wound, for giving which no man was named. It seems to me, then, that this suit must come to naught by reason of a lawful flaw." "Then we will plead it at once," says Hjallti. "It is not good counsel," said Thorhall Asgrim's son, "that this should not be hidden until the courts are set." "How so?" asks Hjallti. "If," said Thorhall, "they knew now at once that the suit has been wrongly set on foot, then they may still save the suit by sending a man home from the Thing, and summoning the neighbours from home over again, and calling on them to ride to the Thing, and then the suit will be lawfully set on foot." "Thou art a wise man, Thorhall," say they, "and we will take thy counsel." After that each man went to his booth. The sons of Sigfus gave notice of their suits at the Hill of Laws, and asked in what Quarter Courts they lay, and in what house in the district the defendants dwelt. But on the Friday night the courts were to go out to try suits, and so the Thing was quiet up to that day. Many sought to bring about an atonement between them, but Flosi was steadfast; but others were still more wordy, and things looked ill. Now the time comes when the courts were to go out, on the Friday evening. Then the whole body of men at the Thing went to the courts. Flosi stood south at the court of the men of Rangriver, and his band with him. There with him was Hall of the Side, and Runolf of the Dale, Wolf Aurpriest's son, and those other men who had promised Flosi help. But north of the court of the men of Rangriver stood Asgrim Ellidagrim's son, and Gizur the White, Hjallti Skeggi's son, and Einar of Thvera. But Njal's sons were at home at their booth, and Kari and Thorleif Crow, and Thorgeir Craggeir, and Thorgrim the Big. They sate all with their weapons, and their band looked safe from onslaught. Njal had already prayed the judges to go into the court, and now the sons of Sigfus plead their suit. They took witness and bade Njal's sons to listen to their oath; after that they took their oath, and then they declared their suit; then they brought forward witness of the notice, then they bade the neighbours on the inquest to take their seats, then they called on Njal's sons to challenge the inquest. Then up stood Thorhall Asgrim's son, and took witness, and forbade the inquest by a protest to utter their finding; and his ground was, that he who had given notice of the suit was truly under the ban of the law, and was himself an outlaw. "Of whom speakest thou this?" says Flosi. "Mord Valgard's son," said Thorhall, "fared to Hauskuld's slaying with Njal's sons, and wounded him with that wound for which no man was named when witness was taken to the death-wounds; and ye can say nothing against this, and so the suit comes to naught." 121. OF THE AWARD OF ATONEMENT BETWEEN FLOSI AND NJAL Then Njal stood up and said, "This I pray, Hall of the Side, and Flosi, and all the sons of Sigfus, and all our men, too, that ye will not go away but listen to my words." They did so, and then he spoke thus: "It seems to me as though this suit were come to naught, and it is likely it should, for it hath sprung from an ill root. I will let you all know that I loved Hauskuld more than my own sons, and when I heard that he was slain, methought the sweetest light of my eyes was quenched, and I would rather have lost all my sons, and that he were alive. Now I ask thee, Hall of the Side, and thee Runolf of the Dale, and thee Hjallti Skeggi's son, and thee Einar of Thvera, and thee Hafr the Wise, that I may be allowed to make an atonement for the slaying of Hauskuld on my son's behalf; and I wish that those men who are best fitted to do so shall utter the award." Gizur, and Hafr, and Einar, spoke each on their own part, and prayed Flosi to take an atonement, and promised him their friendship in return. Flosi answered them well in all things, but still did not give his word. Then Hall of the Side said to Flosi, "Wilt thou now keep thy word, and grant me my boon which thou hast already promised me, when I put beyond sea Thorgrim, the son of Kettle the Fat, thy kinsman, when he had slain Halli the Red." "I will grant it thee, father-in-law," said Flosi, "for that alone wilt thou ask which will make my honour greater than it erewhile was." "Then," said Hall, "my wish is that thou shouldst be quickly atoned, and lettest good men and true make an award, and so buy the friendship of good and worthy men." "I will let you all know," said Flosi, "that I will do according to the word of Hall, my father-in-law, and other of the worthiest men, that he and others of the best men on each side, lawfully named, shall make this award. Methinks Njal is worthy that I should grant him this." Njal thanked him and all of them, and others who were by thanked them too, and said that Flosi had behaved well. Then Flosi said, "Now will I name my daysmen (1): First, I name Hall, my father-in-law; Auzur from Broadwater; Surt Asbjorn's son of Kirkby; Modolf Kettle's son," -- he dwelt then at Asar -- "Hafr the Wise; and Runoff of the Dale; and it is scarce worth while to say that these are the fittest men out of all my company." Now he bade Njal to name his daysmen, and then Njal stood up, and said, "First of these I name, Asgrim Ellidagrim's son; and Hjallti Skeggi's son; Gizur the White; Einar of Thvera; Snorri the Priest; and Gudmund the Powerful." After that Njal and Flosi, and the sons of Sigfus shook hands, and Njal pledged his hand on behalf of all his sons, and of Kari, his son-in-law, that they would hold to what those twelve men doomed; and one might say that the whole body of men at the Thing was glad at that. Then men were sent after Snorri and Gudmund, for they were in their booths. Then it was given out that the judges in this award would sit in the Court of Laws, but all the others were to go away. ENDNOTES: (1) The true English word for "arbitrator," or " umpire." See "Job" ix. 33 -- "Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both." See also Holland's "Translations of Livy", Page 137 -- "A more shameful precedent for the time to come: namely, that umpires and dates-men should convert the thing in suit unto their own and proper vantage." 122. OF THE JUDGES Then Snorri the Priest spoke thus, "Now are we here twelve judges to whom these suits are handed over, now I will beg you all that we may have no stumbling blocks in these suits, so that they may not be atoned." "Will ye," said Gudmund, "award either the lesser or the greater outlawry? Shall they be banished from the district, or from the whole land?" "Neither of them," says Snorri, "for those banishments are often ill fulfilled, and men have been slain for that sake, and atonements broken, but I will award so great a money fine that no man shall have had a higher price here in the land than Hauskuld." They all spoke well of his words. Then they talked over the matter, and could not agree which should first utter how great he thought the fine ought to be, and so the end of it was that they cast lots, and the lot fell on Snorri to utter it. Then Snorri said, "I will not sit long over this, I will now tell you what my utterance is, I will let Hauskuld be atoned for with triple manfines, but that is six hundred in silver. Now ye shall change it, if ye think it too much or too little." They said that they would change it in nothing. "This too shall be added," he said, "that all the money shall be paid down here at the Thing." Then Gizur the White spoke and said, "Methinks that can hardly be, for they will not have enough money to pay their fines." "I know what Snorri wishes," said Gudmund the Powerful, "he wants that all we daysmen should give such a sum as our bounty will bestow, and then many will do as we do." Hall of the Side thanked him, and said he would willingly give as much as any one else gave, and then all the other daysmen agreed to that. After that they went away, and settled between them that Hall should utter the award at the Hill of Laws. So the bell was rung, and all men went to the Hill of Laws, and Hall of the Side stood up and spoke, "In this suit, in which we have come to an award, we have been all well agreed, and we have awarded six hundred in silver, and half this sum we the daysmen will pay, but it must all be paid up here at the Thing. But it is my prayer to all the people that each man will give something for God's sake." All answered well to that, and then Hall took witness to the award, that no one should be able to break it. Njal thanked them for their award, but Skarphedinn stood by, and held his peace, and smiled scornfully. Then men went from the Hill of Laws and to their booths, but the daysmen gathered together in the freemen's churchyard the money which they had promised to give. Njal's sons handed over that money which they had by them, and Kari did the same, and that came to a hundred in silver. Njal took out that money which he had with him, and that was another hundred in silver. So this money was all brought before the Hill of Laws, and then men gave so much, that not a penny was wanting. Then Njal took a silken scarf and a pair of boots and laid them on the top of the heap. After that, Hall said to Njal, that he should go to fetch his sons, "But I will go for Flosi, and now each must give the other pledges of peace." Then Njal went home to his booth, and spoke to his sons and said, "Now are our suits come into a fair way of settlement, now are we men atoned, for all the money has been brought together in one place; and now either side is to go and grant the other peace and pledges of good faith. I will therefore ask you this, my sons, not to spoil these things in any way." Skarphedinn stroked his brow, and smiled scornfully. So they all go to the Court of Laws. Hall went to meet Flosi and said, "Go thou now to the Court of Laws, for now all the money has been bravely paid down, and it has been brought together in one place." Then Flosi bade the sons of Sigfus to go up with him, and they all went out of their booths. They came from the east, but Njal went from the west to the Court of Laws, and his sons with him. Skarphedinn went to the middle bench and stood there. Flosi went into the Court of Laws to look closely at the money, and said, "This money is both great and good, and well paid down, as was to be looked for." After that he took up the scarf, and waved it, and asked, "Who may have given this?" But no man answered him. A second time he waved the scarf, and asked, "Who may have given this?" and laughed, but no man answered him. Then Flosi said, "How is it that none of you knows who has owned this gear, or is it that none dares to tell me?" "Who?" said Skarphedinn, "dost thou think, has given it?" "If thou must know," said Flosi, "then I will tell thee; I think that thy father the `Beardless Carle' must have given it, for many know not who look at him whether he is more a man than a woman." "Such words are ill-spoken," said Skarphedinn, "to make game of him, an old man, and no man of any worth has ever done so before. Ye may know, too, that he is a man, for he has had sons by his wife, and few of our kinsfolk have fallen unatoned by our house, so that we have not had vengeance for them." Then Skarphedinn took to himself the silken scarf, but threw a pair of blue breeks to Flosi, and said he would need them more. "Why," said Flosi, "should I need these more?" "Because," said Skarphedinn, "thou art the sweetheart of the Swinefell's goblin, if, as men say, he does indeed turn thee into a woman every ninth night." Then Flosi spurned the money, and said he would not touch a penny of it, and then he said he would only have one of two things: either that Hauskuld should fall unatoned, or they would have vengeance for him. Then Flosi would neither give nor take peace, and he said to the sons of Sigfus, "Go we now home; one fate shall befall us all." Then they went home to their booth, and Hall said, "Here most unlucky men have a share in this suit." Njal and his sons went home to their booth, and Njal said, "Now comes to pass what my heart told me long ago, that this suit would fall heavy on us." "Not so," says Skarphedinn; "they can never pursue us by the laws of the land." "Then that will happen," says Njal, "which will be worse for all of us." Those men who had given the money spoke about it, and said that they should take it back; but Gudmund the Powerful said, "That shame I will never choose for myself, to take back what I have given away, either here or elsewhere." "That is well spoken," they said; and then no one would take it back. Then Snorri the Priest said, "My counsel is, that Gizur the White and Hjallti Skeggi's son keep the money till the next Althing; my heart tells me that no long time will pass ere there may be need to touch this money." Hjallti took half the money and kept it safe, but Gizur took the rest. Then men went home to their booths. 123. AN ATTACK PLANNED ON NJAL AND HIS SONS Flosi summoned all his men up to the "Great Rift," and went thither himself. So when all his men were come, there were one hundred and twenty of them. Then Flosi spake thus to the sons of Sigfus, "In what way shall I stand by you in this quarrel, which will be most to your minds?" "Nothing will please us," said Gunnar Lambi's son, "until those brothers, Njal's sons, are all slain." "This," said Flosi, "will I promise to you, ye sons of Sigfus, not to part from this quarrel before one of us bites the dust before the other. I will also know whether there be any man here who will not stand by us in this quarrel." But they all said they would stand by him. Then Flosi said, "Come now all to me, and swear an oath that no man will shrink from this quarrel." Then all went up to Flosi and swore oaths to him; and then Flosi said, "We will all of us shake hands on this, that he shall have forfeited life and land who quits this quarrel ere it be over." These were the chiefs who were with Flosi: -- Kol the son of Thorstein Broadpaunch, the brother's son of Hall of the Side, Hroald Auzur's son from Broadwater, Auzur son of Aunund Wallet- back, Thorstein the Fair, the son of Gerleif, Glum Hildir's son, Modolf Kettle's son, Thorir the son of Thord Illugi's son of Mauratongue, Kolbein and Egil Flosi's kinsmen, Kettle Sigfus' son, and Mord his brother, Ingialld of the Springs, Thorkel and Lambi, Grani Gunnar's son, Gunnar Lambi's son, and Sigmund Sigfus' son, and Hroar from Hromundstede. Then Flosi said to the sons of Sigfus, "Choose ye now a leader, whomsoever ye think best fitted; for some one man must needs be chief over the quarrel" Then Kettle of the Mark answered, "If the choice is to be left with us brothers, then we will soon choose that this duty should fall on thee; there are many things which lead to this. Thou art a man of great birth, and a mighty chief, stout of heart, and strong of body, and wise withal, and so we think it best that thou shouldst see to all that is needful in the quarrel." "It is most fitting," said Flosi, "that I should agree to undertake this as your prayer asks; and now I will lay down the course which we shall follow, and my counsel is, that each man ride home from the Thing, and look after his household during the summer, so long as men's haymaking lasts. I, too, will ride home, and be at home this summer; but when that Lord's day comes on which winter is eight weeks off, then I will let them sing me a mass at home, and afterwards ride west across Loomnips Sand; each of our men shall have two horses. I will not swell our company beyond those which have now taken the oath, for we have enough and to spare if all keep true tryst. I will ride all the Lord's day and the night as well, but at even on the second day of the week, I shall ride up to Threecorner ridge about mid-even. There shall ye then be all come who have sworn an oath in this matter. But if there be any one who has not come, and who has joined us in this quarrel, then that man shall lose nothing save his life, if we may have our way." "How does that hang together," said Kettle, "that thou canst ride from home on the Lord's day, and come the second day of the week to Threecorner ridge?" "I will ride," said Flosi "up from Skaptartongue, and north of the Eyjafell Jokul, and so down into Godaland, and it may be done if I ride fast. And now I will tell you my whole purpose, that when we meet there all together, we shall ride to Bergthorsknoll with all our band, and fall on Njal's sons with fire and sword, and not turn away before they are all dead. Ye shall hide this plan, for our lives lie on it. And now we will take to our horses and ride home." Then they all went to their booths. After that Flosi made them saddle his horses, and they waited for no man, and rode home. Flosi would not stay to meet Hall his father-in-law, for he knew of a surety that Hall would set his face against all strong deeds. Njal rode home from the Thing and his sons. They were at home that summcr. Njal asked Kari his son-in-law whether he thought at all of riding east to Dyrholms to his own house. "I will not ride east," answered Kari, "for one fate shall befall me and thy sons. Njal thanked him, and said that was only what was likely from him. There were nearly thirty fighting men in Njal's house, reckoning the house-carles. One day it happened that Rodny Hauskuld's daughter, the mother of Hauskuld Njal's son, came to the Springs. Her brother Ingialld greeted her well, but she would not take his greeting, but yet bade him go out with her. Ingialld did so, and went out with her; and so they walked away from the farm-yard both together. Then she clutched hold of him and they both sat down, and Rodny said, "Is it true that thou hast sworn an oath to fall on Njal, and slay him and his sons?" "True it is," said he. "A very great dastard art thou," she says, "thou, whom Njal hath thrice saved from outlawry." "Still it hath come to this," says Ingialld, "that my life lies on it if I do not this?" "Not so," says she, "thou shalt live all the same, and be called a better man, if thou betrayest not him to whom thou oughtest to behave best." Then she took a linen hood out of her bag, it was clotted with blood all over, and torn and tattered, and said, "This hood, Hauskuld Njal's son, and thy sister's son, had on his head when they slew him; methinks, then, it is ill doing to stand by those from whom this mischief sprang." "Well!" answers Ingialld, "so it shall be that I will not be against Njal whatever follows after, but still I know that they will turn and throw trouble on me." "Now mightest thou," said Rodny, "yield Njal and his sons great help, if thou tellest him all these plans." "That I will not do," says Ingialld, "for then I am every man's dastard if I tell what was trusted to me in good faith; but it is a manly deed to sunder myself from this quarrel when I know that there is a sure looking for of vengeance but tell Njal and his sons to be ware of themselves all this summer, for that will be good counsel, and to keep many men about them." Then she fared to Bergthoknoll, and told Njal all this talk; and Njal thanked her, and said she had done well, "For there would be more wickedness in his falling on me than of all men else." She fared home, but he told this to his sons. There was a carline at Bergthorsknoll, whose name was Saevuna. She was wise in many things, and foresighted; but she was then very old, and Njal's sons called her an old dotard, when she talked so much, but still some things which she said came to pass. It fell one day that she took a cudgel in her hand, and went up above the house to a stack of vetches. She beat the stack of vetches with her cudgel, and wished it might never thrive, "Wretch that it was!" Skarphedinn laughed at her, and asked why she was so angry with the vetch stack. "This stack of vetches," said the carline, "will be taken and lighted with fire when Njal my master is burnt, house and all, and Bergthorn my foster-child. Take it away to the water, or burn it up as quick as you can." "We will not do that," says Skarphedinn, "for something else will be got to light a fire with, if that were foredoomed, though this stack were not here." The carline babbled the whole summer about the vetchstack that it should be got indoors, but something always hindered it. 124. OF PORTENTS At Reykium on Skeid dwelt one Runolf Thorstein's son. His son's name was Hildiglum. He went out on the night of the Lord's day, when nine weeks were still to winter; he heard a great crash, so that he thought both heaven and earth shook. Then he looked into the west "airt," and he thought he saw thereabouts a ring of fiery hue, and within the ring a man on a grey horse. He passed quickly by him, and rode hard. He had a flaming firebrand in his hand, and he rode so close to him that he could see him plainly. He was as black as pitch, and he sung this song with a mighty voice: "Here I ride swift steed, His Bank flecked with rime, Rain from his mane drips, Horse mighty for harm; Flames flare at each end, Gall glows in the midst, So fares it with Flosi's redes As this flaming brand flies; And so fares it with Flosi's redes As this flaming brand flies." Then he thought he hurled the firebrand east towards the fells before him, and such a blaze of fire leapt up to meet it that he could not see the fells for the blaze. It seemed as though that man rode east among the flames and vanished there. After that he went to his bed, and was senseless a long time, but at last he came to himself. He bore in mind all that had happened, and told his father, but he bade him tell it to Hjallti Skeggi's son. So he went and told Hjallti, but he said he had seen "`the Wolf's ride,' and that comes ever before great tidings." 125. FLOSI'S JOURNEY FROM HOME Flosi busked him from the east when two months were still to winter, and summoned to him all his men who had promised him help and company. Each of them had two horses and good weapons, and they all came to Swinefell, and were there that night. Flosi made them say prayers betimes on the Lord's day, and afterwards they sate down to meat. He spoke to his household, and told them what work each was to do while he was away. After that he went to his horses. Flosi and his men rode first west on the Sand (1). Flosi bade them not to ride too hard at first; but said they would do well enough at that pace, and he bade all to wait for the others if any of them had need to stop. They rode west to Woodcombe, and came to Kirkby. Flosi there bade all men to come into the church, and pray to God, and men did so. After that they mounted their horses, and rode on the fell, and so to Fishwaters, and rode a little to the west of the lakes, and so struck down west on to the Sand (2). Then they left Eyjafell Jokul on their left hand, and so came down into Godaland, and so on to Markfleet, and came about nones (3) on the second day of the week to Threecorner ridge, and waited till mid-even. Then all had came thither save Ingialld of the Springs. The sons of Sigfus spoke much ill of him, but Flosi bade them not blame Ingialld when he was not by, "But we will pay him for this hereafter." ENDNOTES: (1) "Sand," Skeidara sand. (2) "Sand," Maelifell's sand. (3) "Nones," the well-known canonical hour of the day, the ninth hour from six a.m., that is, about three o'clock when one of the church services took place. 126. OF PORTENTS AT BERGTHORSKNOLL Now we must take up the story, and turn to Bergthorsknoll, and say that Grim and Helgi go to Holar. They had children out at foster there, and they told their mother that they should not come home that evening. They were in Holar all the day, and there came some poor women and said they had come from far. Those brothers asked them for tidings, and they said they had no tidings to tell, "But still we might tell you one bit of news." They asked what that might be, and bade them not hide it. They said so it should be. "We came down out of Fleetlithe, and we saw all the sons of Sigfus riding fully armed -- they made for Threecorner ridge, and were fifteen in company. We saw too Grani Gunnar's son and Gunnar Lambi's son, and they were five in all. They took the same road, and one may say now that the whole country-side is faring and flitting about." "Then," said Helgi Njal's son, "Flosi must have come from the east, and they must have all gone to meet him, and we two, Grim, should be where Skarphedinn is." Grim said so it ought to be, and they fared home. That same evening Bergthora spoke to her household, and said, "Now shall ye choose your meat to-night, so that each may have what he likes best; for this evening is the last that I shall set meat before my household." "That shall not be," they said. "It will be though," she says, "and I could tell you much more if I would, but this shall be a token, that Grim and Helgi will be home ere men have eaten their full to-night; and if this turns out so, then the rest that I say will happen too." After that she set meat on the board, and Njal said "Wondrously now it seems to me. Methinks I see all round the room, and it seems as though the gable wall were thrown down, but the whole board and the meat on it is one gore of blood." All thought this strange but Skarphedinn, he bade men not be downcast, nor to utter other unseemly sounds, so that men might make a story out of them. "For it befits us surely more than other men to bear us well, and it is only what is looked for from us." Grim and Helgi came home ere the board was cleared, and men were much struck at that. Njal asked why they had returned so quickly but they told what they had heard. Njal bade no man go to sleep, but to be ware of themselves. 127. THE ONSLAUGHT (1) ON BERGTHORSKNOLL Now Flosi speaks to his men, "Now we will ride to Bergthorsknoll, and come thither before supper-time." They do so. There was a dell in the knoll, and they rode thither, and tethered their horses there, and stayed there till the evening was far spent. Then Flosi said, "Now we will go straight up to the house, and keep close, and walk slow, and see what counsel they will take." Njal stood out of doors, and his sons, and Kari and all the serving-men, and they stood in array to meet them in the yard, and they were near thirty of them. Flosi halted and said, "Now we shall see what counsel they take, for it seems to me, if they stand out of doors to meet us, as though we should never get the mastery over them." "Then is our journey bad," says Grani Gunnar's son, "if we are not to dare to fall on them." "Nor shall that be," says Flosi; "for we will fall on them though they stand out of doors; but we shall pay that penalty, that many will not go away to tell which side won the day." Njal said to his men, "See ye now what a great band of men they have." "They have both a great and well-knit band," says Skarphedinn; "but this is why they make a halt now, because they think it will be a hard struggle to master us." "That cannot be why they halt," says Njal; "and my will is that our men go indoors, for they had hard work to master Gunnar of Lithend, though he was alone to meet them; but here is a strong house as there was there, and they will be slow to come to close quarters." "This is not to be settled in that wise," says Skarphedinn, "for those chiefs fell on Gunnar's house, who were so nobleminded, that they would rather turn back than burn him, house and all; but these will fall on us at once with fire, if they cannot get at us in any other way, for they will leave no stone unturned to get the better of us; and no doubt they think, as is not unlikely, that it will be their deaths if we escape out of their hands. Besides, I am unwilling to let myself be stifled indoors like a fox in his earth." "Now," said Njal, "as often it happens, my sons, ye set my counsel at naught, and show me no honour, but when ye were younger ye did not so, and then your plans were better furthered." "Let us do," said Helgi, "as our father wills; that will be best for us." "I am not so sure of that," says Skarphedinn, "for now he is `fey'; but still I may well humour my father in this, by being burnt indoors along with him, for I am not afraid of my death." Then he said to Kari, "Let us stand by one another well, brother- in-law, so that neither parts from the other." "That I have made up my mind to do," says Kari; "but if it should be otherwise doomed, -- well! then it must be as it must be, and I shall not be able to fight against it." "Avenge us, and we will avenge thee," says Skarphedinn, "if we live after thee." Kari said so it should be. Then they all went in, and stood in array at the door. "Now are they all `fey,'" said Flosi, "since they have gone indoors, and we will go right up to them as quickly as we can, and throng as close as we can before the door, and give heed that none of them, neither Kari nor Njal's sons, get away; for that were our bane." So Flosi and his men came up to the house, and set men to watch round the house, if there were any secret doors in it. But Flosi went up to the front of the house with his men. Then Hroald Auzur's son ran up to where Skarphedinn stood, and thrust at him. Skarphedinn hewed the spearhead off the shaft as he held it, and made another stroke at him, and the axe fell on the top of the shield, and dashed back the whole shield on Hroald's body, but the upper horn of the axe caught him on the brow, and he fell at full length on his back, and was dead at once. "Little chance had that one with thee, Skarphedinn," said Kari, "and thou art our boldest." "I'm not so sure of that," says Skarphedinn, and he drew up his lips and smiled. Kari, and Grim, and Helgi, threw out many spears, and wounded many men; but Flosi and his men could do nothing. At last Flosi said, "We have already gotten great manscathe in our men; many are wounded, and he slain whom we would choose last of all. It is now clear that we shall never master them with weapons; many now there be who are not so forward in fight as they boasted, and yet they were those who goaded us on most. I say this most to Grani Gunnar's son, and Gunnar Lambi's son, who were the least willing to spare their foes. But still we shall have to take to some other plan for ourselves, and now there are but two choices left, and neither of them good. One is to turn away, and that is our death; the other, to set fire to the house, and burn them inside it; and that is a deed which we shall have to answer for heavily before God, since we are Christian men ourselves; but still we must take to that counsel." ENDNOTES: (1) The Icelandic word is "heimsokn," a term which still lingers in the grave offence known in Scottish law as "hamesucken." 128. NJAL'S BURNING Now they took fire, and made a great pile before the doors. Then Skarphedinn said, "What, lads! are ye lighting a fire, or are ye taking to cooking?" "So it shall be," answered Grani Gunnar's son; "and thou shalt not need to be better done." "Thou repayest me," said Skarphedinn, "as one may look for from the man that thou art. I avenged thy father, and thou settest most store by that duty which is farthest from thee." Then the women threw whey on the fire, and quenched it as fast as they lit it. Some, too, brought water, or slops. Then Kol Thorstein's son said to Flosi, "A plan comes into my mind; I have seen a loft over the hall among the crosstrees, and we will put the fire in there, and light it with the vetch-stack that stands just above the house." Then they took the vetch-stack and set fire to it, and they who were inside were not aware of it till the whole hall was a-blaze over their heads. Then Flosi and his men made a great pile before each of the doors, and then the women folk who were inside began to weep and to wail. Njal spoke to them and said, "Keep up your hearts, nor utter shrieks, for this is but a passing storm, and it will be long before ye have another such; and put your faith in God, and believe that he is so merciful that he will not let us burn both in this world and the next." Such words of comfort had he for them all, and others still more strong. Now the whole house began to blaze. Then Njal went to the door and said, "Is Flosi so near that he can hear my voice." Flosi said that he could hear it. "Wilt thou," said Njal, "take an atonement from my sons, or allow any men to go out." "I will not," answers Flosi, "take any atonement from thy sons, and now our dealings shall come to an end once for all, and I will not stir from this spot till they are all dead; but I will allow the women and children and house-carles to go out." Then Njal went into the house, and said to the fold, "Now all those must go out to whom leave is given, and so go thou out Thorhalla Asgrim's daughter, and all the people also with thee who may." Then Thorhalla said, "This is another parting between me and Helgi than I thought of a while ago; but still I will egg on my father and brothers to avenge this manscathe which is wrought here." "Go, and good go with thee," said Njal, "for thou art a brave woman." After that she went out and much folk with her. Then Astrid of Deepback said to Helgi Njal's son, "Come thou out with me, and I will throw a woman's cloak over thee, and tie thy head with a kerchief." He spoke against it at first, but at last he did so at the prayer of others. So Astrid wrapped the kerchief round Helgi's head, but Thorhilda, Skarphedinn's wife, threw the cloak over him, and he went out between them, and then Thorgerda Njal's daughter, and Helga her sister, and many other folk went out too. But when Helgi came out Flosi said, "That is a tall woman and broad across the shoulders that went yonder, take her and hold her." But when Helgi heard that, he cast away the cloak. He had got his sword under his arm, and hewed at a man, and the blow fell on his shield and cut off the point of it, and the man's leg as well. Then Flosi came up and hewed at Helgi's neck, and took off his head at a stroke. Then Flosi went to the door and called out to Njal, and said he would speak with him and Bergthora. Now Njal does so, and Flosi said, "I will offer thee, master Njal, leave to go out, for it is unworthy that thou shouldst burn indoors." "I will not go out," said Njal, "for I am an old man, and little fitted to avenge my sons, but I will not live in shame." Then Flosi said to Bergthora, "Come thou out, housewife, for I will for no sake burn thee indoors." "I was given away to Njal young," said Bergthora, "and I have promised him this, that we would both share the same fate." After that they both went back into the house. "What counsel shall we now take," said Bergthora. "We will go to our bed," says Njal, "and lay us down; I have long been eager for rest." Then she said to the boy Thord, Kari's son, "Thee will I take out, and thou shalt not burn in here." "Thou hast promised me this, grandmother," says the boy, "that we should never part so long as I wished to be with thee; but methinks it is much better to die with thee and Njal than to live after you." Then she bore the boy to her bed, and Njal spoke to his steward and said, "Now thou shalt see where we lay us down, and how I lay us out, for I mean not to stir an inch hence, whether reek or burning smart me, and so thou wilt be able to guess where to look for our bones," He said he would do so. There had been an ox slaughtered and the hide lay there. Njal told the steward to spread the hide over them, and he did so. So there they lay down both of them in their bed, and put the boy between them. Then they signed themselves and the boy with the cross, and gave over their souls into God's hand, and that was the last word that men heard them utter. Then the steward took the hide and spread it over them, and went out afterwards. Kettle of the Mark caught hold of him, and dragged him out, he asked carefully after his father-in-law Njal, but the steward told him the whole truth. Then Kettle said, "Great grief hath been sent on us, when we have had to share such ill-luck together." Skarphedinn saw how his father laid him down, and how he laid himself out, and then he said, "Our father goes early to bed, and that is what was to be looked for, for he is an old man." Then Skarphedinn, and Kari, and Grim, caught the brands as fast as they dropped down, and hurled them out at them, and so it went on awhile. Then they hurled spears in at them, but they caught them all as they flew, and sent them back again. Then Flosi bade them cease shooting, "for all feats of arms will go hard with us when we deal with them; ye may well wait till the fire overcomes them." So they do that, and shoot no more. Then the great beams out of the roof began to fall, and Skarphedinn said, "Now must my father be dead, and I have neither heard groan nor cough from him." Then they went to the end of the hall, and there had fallen down a cross-beam inside which was much burnt in the middle. Kari spoke to Skarphedinn, and said, "Leap thou out here, and I will help thee to do so, and I will leap out after thee, and then we shall both get away if we set about it so, for hitherward blows all the smoke." "Thou shalt leap first," said Skarphedinn; "but I will leap straightway on thy heels." "That is not wise," says Kari, "for I can get out well enough elsewhere, though it does not come about here." "I will not do that," says Skarphedinn; "leap thou out first, but I will leap after thee at once." "It is bidden to every man," says Kari, "to seek to save his life while he has a choice, and I will do so now; but still this parting of ours will be in such wise that we shall never see one another more; for if I leap out of the fire, I shall have no mind to leap back into the fire to thee, and then each of us will have to fare his own way." "It joys me, brother-in-law," says Skarphedinn, "to think that if thou gettest away thou wilt avenge me." Then Kari took up a blazing bench in his hand, and runs up along the cross-beam, then he hurls the bench out at the roof, and it fell among those who were outside. Then they ran away, and by that time all Kari's upper clothing and his hair were a-b1aze, then he threw himself down from the roof, and so crept along with the smoke. Then one man said who was nearest, "Was that a man that leapt out at the roof?" "Far from it," says another; "more likely it was Skarphedinn who hurled a firebrand at us." After that they had no more mistrust. Kari ran till he came to a stream, and then he threw himself down into it, and so quenched the fire on him. After that he ran along under shelter of the smoke into a hollow, and rested him there, and that has since been called Kari's Hollow. 129. SKARPHEDINN'S DEATH Now it is to be told of Skarphedinn that he runs out on the cross-beam straight after Kari, but when he came to where the beam was most burnt, then it broke down under him. Skarphedinn came down on his feet, and tried again the second time, and climbs up the wall with a run, then down on him came the wall- plate, and he toppled down again inside. Then Skarphedinn said, "Now one can see what will come;" and then he went along the side wall. Gunnar Lambi's son leapt up on the wall and sees Skarphedinn, he spoke thus, "Weepest thou now, Skarphedinn?" "Not so," says Skarphedinn; "but true it is that the smoke makes one's eyes smart, but is it as it seems to me, dost thou laugh?" "So it is surely," says Gunnar, "and I have never laughed since thou slewest Thrain on Markfleet." Then Skarphedinn said, "Here now is a keepsake for thee;" and with that he took out of his purse the jaw-tooth which he had hewn out of Thrain, and threw it at Gunnar, and struck him in the eye, so that it started out and lay on his cheek. Then Gunnar fell down from the roof. Skarphedinn then went to his brother Grim, and they held one another by the hand and trode the fire; but when they came to the middle of the hall Grim fell down dead. Then Skarphedinn went to the end of the house, and then there was a great crash, and down fell the roof. Skarphedinn was then shut in between it and the gable, and so he could not stir a step thence. Flosi and his band stayed by the fire until it was broad daylight; then came a man riding up to them. Flosi asked him for his name, but he said his name was Geirmund, and that he was a kinsman of the sons of Sigfus. "Ye have done a mighty deed," he says. "Men," said Flosi, "will call it both a mighty deed and an ill deed, but that can't be helped now." "How many men have lost their lives here?" asks Geirmund. "Here have died," says Flosi, "Njal and Bergthora and all their sons, Thord Kari's son, Kari Solmund's son, but besides these we cannot say for a surety, because we know not their names." "Thou tellest him now dead," said Geirmund, "with whom we have gossiped this morning." "Who is that?" says Flosi. "We two," says Geirmund, "I and my neighbour Bard, met Kari Solmund's son, and Bard gave him his horse, and his hair and his upper clothes were burned off him!" "Had he any weapons?" asks Flosi. "He had the sword `Life-luller,'" says Geirmund, "and one edge of it was blue with fire, and Bard and I said that it must have become soft, but he answered thus, that he would harden it in the blood of the sons of Sigfus or the other Burners." "What said he of Skarphedinn?" said Flosi. "He said both he and Grim were alive," answers Geirmund, "when they parted; but he said that now they must be dead." "Thou hast told us a tale," said Flosi, "which bodes us no idle peace, for that man hath now got away who comes next to Gunnar of Lithend in all things; and now, ye sons of Sigfus, and ye other burners, know this, that such a great blood feud, and hue and cry will be made about this burning, that it will make many a man headless, but some will lose all their goods. Now I doubt much whether any man of you, ye sons of Sigfus, will dare to stay in his house; and that is not to be wondered at; and so I will bid you all to come and stay with me in the east, and let us all share one fate." They thanked him for his offer, and said they would be glad to take it. Then Modolf Kettle's son, sang a song: "But one prop of Njal's house liveth, All the rest inside are burnt, All but one -- those bounteous spenders, Sigfus' stalwart sons wrought this; Son of Gollnir (1) now is glutted Vengeance for brave Hauskuld's death, Brisk flew fire through thy dwelling, Bright flames blazed above thy roof." "We shall have to boast of something else than that Njal has been burnt in his house," says Flosi, "for there is no glory in that." Then he went up on the gable, and Glum Hilldir's son, and some other men. Then Glum said, "Is Skarphedinn dead, indeed?" But the others said he must have been dead long ago. The fire sometimes blazed up fitfully and sometimes burned low, and then they heard down in the fire beneath them that this song was sung: "Deep, I ween, ye Ogre offspring Devilish brood of giant birth, Would ye groan with gloomy visage Had the fight gone to my mind; But my very soul it gladdens That my friends I who now boast high, Wrought not this foul deed, their glory, Save with footsteps filled with gore." "Can Skarphedinn, think ye, have sung this song dead or alive?" said Grani Gunnar's son. "I will go into no guesses about that," says Flosi. "We will look for Skarphedinn," says Grani, "and the other men who have been here burnt inside the house." "That shall not be," says Flosi, "it is just like such foolish men as thou art, now that men will be gathering force all over the country; and when they do come, I trow the very same man who now lingers will be so scared that he will not know which way to run; and now my counsel is that we all ride away as quickly as ever we can." Then Flosi went hastily to his horse and all his men. Then Flosi said to Geirmund, "Is Ingialld, thinkest thou, at home at the Springs?" Geirmund said he thought he must be at home. "There now is a man," says Flosi, "who has broken his oath with us and all good faith." Then Flosi said to the sons of Sigfus, "What course will ye now take with Ingialld; will ye forgive him, or shall we now fall on him and slay him?" They all answered that they would rather fall on him and slay him. Then Flosi jumped on his horse, and all the others, and they rode away. Flosi rode first, and shaped his course for Rangriver, and up along the river bank. Then he saw a man riding down on the other bank of the river and he knew that there was Ingialld of the Springs. Flosi calls out to him. Ingialld halted and turned down to the river bank; and Flosi said to him, "Thou hast broken faith with us, and hast forfeited life and goods. Here now are the sons of Sigfus, who are eager to slay thee; but methinks thou hast fallen into a strait, and I will give thee thy life if thou will hand over to me the right to make my own award." "I will sooner ride to meet Kari," said Ingialld, "than grant thee the right to utter thine own award, and my answer to the sons of Sigfus is this, that I shall be no whit more afraid of them than they are of me." "Bide thou there," says Flosi, "if thou art not a coward, for I will send thee a gift." "I will bide of a surety," says Ingialld. Thorstein Kolbein's son, Flosi's brother's son, rode up by his side and had a spear in his hand, he was one of the bravest of men, and the most worthy of those who were with Flosi. Flosi snatched the spear from him, and launched it at Ingialld, and it fell on his left side, and passed through the shield just below the handle, and clove it all asunder, but the spear passed on into his thigh just above the knee-pan, and so on into the saddle-tree, and there stood fast. Then Flosi said to Ingialld, "Did it touch thee? "It touched me sure enough," says Ingialld, "but I call this a scratch and not a wound." Then Ingialld plucked the spear out of the wound, and said to Flosi, "Now bide thou, if thou art not a milksop." Then he launched the spear back over the river. Flosi sees that the spear is coming straight for his middle, and then he backs his horse out of the way, but the spear flew in front of Flosi's horse, and missed him, but it struck Thorstein's middle, and down he fell at once dead off his horse. Now Ingialld runs for the wood, and they could not get at him. Then Flosi said to his men, "Now have we gotten manscathe, and now we may know, when such things befall us, into what a luckless state we have got. Now it is my counsel that we ride up to Threecorner Ridge; thence we shall be able to see where men ride all over the country, for by this time they will have gathered together a great band, and they will think that we have ridden east to Fleetlithe from Threecorner Ridge; and thence they will think that we are riding north up on the fell, and so east to our own country, and thither the greater part of the folk will ride after us; but some will ride the coast road east to Selialandsmull, and yet they will think there is less hope of finding us thitherward, but I will now take counsel for all of us, and my plan is to ride up into Threecorner-fell, and bide there till three suns have risen and set in heaven." ENDNOTES: (1) "Son of Gollnir," Njal, who was the son of Thorgeir Gelling or Gollnir. (2) "My friends," ironically of course.