Then Flosi went home to his booth, and Bjarni with him, but Eyjolf went to the booth of Snorri the Priest, and sate down by him, and they talked much together.
Snorri the Priest caught hold of Eyjolf's arm, and turned up the sleeve, and sees that he had a great ring of gold on his arm. Then Snorri the Priest said, "Pray, was this ring bought or given?"
Eyjolf was put out about it, and had never a word to say. Then Snorri said, "I see plainly that thou must have taken it as a gift, and may this ring not be thy death!"
Eyjolf jumped up and went away, and would not speak about it; and Snorri said, as Eyjolf arose, "It is very likely that thou wilt know what kind of gift thou hast taken by the time this Thing is ended."
Then Eyjolf went to his booth.
(1) Eyjolf the Guileful was the son of Thord Gellir, the son of Oleif Feilan. The mother of Eyjolf the Guileful was Rodny, the daughter of Skeggi of Midfirth.
138. OF ASGRIM, AND GIZUR, AND KARI
Now Asgrim Ellidagrim's son talks to Gizur the White, and Kari Solmund's son, and to Hjallti Skeggi's son, Mord Valgard's son, and Thorgeir Craggeir, and says, "There is no need to have any secrets here, for only those men are by who know all our counsel. Now I will ask you if ye know anything of their plans, for if you do, it seems to me that we must take fresh counsel about our own plans."
"Snorri the Priest," answers Gizur the White, "sent a man to me, and bade him tell me that Flosi had gotten great help from the Northlanders; but that Eyjolf Bolverk's son, his kinsman, had had a gold ring given him by some one, and made a secret of it, and Snorri said it was his meaning that Eyjolf Bolverk's son must be meant to defend the suit at law, and that the ring must have been given him for that."
They were all agreed that it must be so. Then Gizur spoke to them, "Now has Mord Valgard's son, my son-in-law, undertaken a suit, which all must think most hard, to prosecute Flosi; and now my wish is that ye share the other suits amongst you, for now it will soon be time to give notice of the suits at the Hill of Laws. We shall need also to ask for more help."
Asgrim said so it should be, "but we will beg thee to go round with us when we ask for help." Gizur said he would be ready to do that.
After that Gizur picked out all the wisest men of their company to go with him as his backers. There was Hjallti Skeggi's son, and Asgrim, and Kari, and Thorgeir Craggeir.
Then Gizur the White said, "Now will we first go to the booth of Skapti Thorod's son," and they do so. Gizur the White went first, then Hjallti, then Kari, then Asgrim, then Thorgeir Craggeir, and then his brothers.
They went into the booth. Skapti sat on the cross bench on the dais, and when he saw Gizur the White he rose up to meet him, and greeted him and all of them well, and bade Gizur to sit down by him, and he does so. Then Gizur said to Asgrim, "Now shalt thou first raise the question of help with Skapti, but I will throw in what I think good."
"We are come hither," said Asgrim, "for this sake, Skapti, to seek help and aid at thy hand."
"I was thought to be hard to win the last time," said Skapti, "when I would not take the burden of your trouble on me."
"It is quite another matter now," said Gizur. "Now the feud is for master Njal and mistress Bergthora, who were burnt in their own house without a cause, and for Njal's three sons, and many other worthy men, and thou wilt surely never be willing to yield no help to men, or to stand by thy kinsmen and connections."
"It was in my mind," answers Skapti, "when Skarphedinn told me that I had myself borne tar on my own head, and cut up a sod of turf and crept under it, and when he said that I had been so afraid that Thorolf Lopt's son of Eyrar bore me abroad in his ship among his meal-sacks, and so carried me to Iceland, that I would never share in the blood feud for his death."
"Now there is no need to bear such things in mind," said Gizur the White, "for he is dead who said that, and thou wilt surely grant me this, though thou wouldst not do it for other men's sake."
"This quarrel," says Skapti, "is no business of thine, except thou choosest to be entangled in it along with them."
Then Gizur was very wrath, and said, "Thou art unlike thy father, though he was thought not to be quite cleanhanded; yet was he ever helpful to men when they needed him most."
"We are unlike in temper," said Skapti. "Ye two, Asgrim and thou, think that ye have had the lead in mighty deeds; thou, Gizur the White, because thou overcamest Gunnar of Lithend; but Asgrim, for that he slew Gauk, his foster-brother."
"Few," said Asgrim, "bring forward the better if they know the worse, but many would say that I slew not Gauk ere I was driven to it. There is some excuse for thee for not helping us, but none for heaping reproaches on us; and I only wish before this Thing is out that thou mayest get from this suit the greatest disgrace, and that there may be none to make thy shame good."
Then Gizur and his men stood up all of them, and went out, and so on to the booth of Snorri the Priest.
Snorri sat on the cross-bench in his booth; they went into the booth, and he knew the men at once, and stood up to meet them, and bade them all welcome, and made room for them to sit by him.
After that, they asked one another the news of the day.
Then Asgrim spoke to Snorri, and said, "For that am I and my kinsman Gizur come hither, to ask thee for thy help."
"Thou speakest of what thou mayest always be forgiven for asking, for help in the blood-feud after such connections as thou hadst. We, too, got many wholesome counsels from Njal, though few now bear that in mind; but as yet I know not of what ye think ye stand most in need."
"We stand most in need," answers Asgrim, "of brisk lads and good weapons, if we fight them here at the Thing."
"True it is," said Snorri, "that much lies on that, and it is likeliest that ye will press them home with daring, and that they will defend themselves so in like wise, and neither of you will allow the others' right. Then ye will not bear with them and fall on them, and that will be the only way left; for then they will seek to pay you off with shame for manscathe, and with dishonour for loss of kin."
It was easy to see that he goaded them on in everything.
Then Gizur the White said "Thou speakest well, Snorri, and thou behavest ever most like a chief when most lies at stake."
"I wish to know," said Asgrim, "in what way thou wilt stand by us if things turn out as thou sayest."
"I will show thee those marks of friendship," said Snorri, "on which all your honour will hang, but I will not go with you to the court. But if ye fight here on the Thing, do not fall on them at all unless ye are all most steadfast and dauntless, for you have great champions against you. But if ye are overmatched, ye must let yourselves be driven hither towards us, for I shall then have drawn up my men in array hereabouts, and shall be ready to stand by you. But if it falls out otherwise, and they give way before you, my meaning is that they will try to run for a stronghold in the 'Great Rift.' But if they come thither, then ye will never get the better of them. Now I will take that on my hands, to draw up my men there, and guard the pass to the stronghold, but we will not follow them whether they turn north or south along the river. And when you have slain out of their band about as many as I think ye will be able to pay blood-fines for, and yet keep your priesthoods and abodes, then I will run up with all my men and part you. Then ye shall promise to do as I bid you, and stop the battle, if I on my part do what I have now promised."
Gizur thanked him kindly, and said that what he had said was just what they all needed, and then they all went out.
"Whither shall we go now?" said Gizur.
"To the Northlanders' booth," said Asgrim.
Then they fared thither.
139. OF ASGRIM AND GUDMUND
And when they came into the booth then they saw where Gudmund the Powerful sate and talked with Einar Conal's son, his foster- child; he was a wise man.
Then they come before him, and Gudmund welcomed them very heartily, and made them clear the booth for them, that they might all be able to sit down.
Then they asked what tidings, and Asgrim said, "There is no need to mutter what I have to say. We wish, Gudmund, to ask for thy steadfast help."
"Have ye seen any other chiefs before?" said Gudmund.
They said they had been to see Skapti Thorod's son and Snorri the Priest, and told him quietly how they had fared with each of them.
Then Gudmund said, "Last time I behaved badly and meanly to you. Then I was stubborn, but now ye shall drive your bargain with me all the more quickly because I was more stubborn then, and now I will go myself with you to the court with all my Thing-men, and stand by you in all such things as I can, and fight for you though this be needed, and lay down my life for your lives. I will also pay Skapti out in this way, that Thorstein Gape-mouth his son shall be in the battle on our side, for he will not dare to do aught else than I will, since he has Jodisa my daughter to wife, and then Skapti will try to part us."
They thanked him, and talked with him long and low afterwards, so that no other men could hear.
Then Gudmund bade them not to go before the knees of any other chiefs, for he said that would be little-hearted.
"We will now run the risk with the force that we have. Ye must go with your weapons to all law-business, but not fight as things stand."
Then they went all of them home to their booths, and all this was at first with few men's knowledge.
So now the Thing goes on.
140. OF THE DECLARATIONS OF THE SUITS
It was one day that men went to the Hill of Laws, and the chiefs were so placed that Asgrim Ellidagrim's son, and Gizur the White, and Gudmund the Powerful, and Snorri the Priest, were on the upper hand by the Hill of Laws; but the Eastfirthers stood down below.
Mord Valgard's son stood next to Gizur his father-in-law, he was of all men the readiest-tongued.
Gizur told him that he ought to give notice of the suit for manslaughter, and bade him speak up, so that all might hear him well.
Then Mord took witness and said, "I take witness to this that I give notice of an assault laid down by law against Flosi Thord's son, for that he rushed at Helgi Njal's son and dealt him a brain, or a body, or a marrow wound, which proved a death-wound, and from which Helgi got his death. I say that in this suit he ought to be made a guilty man, an outlaw, not to be fed, not to be forwarded, not to be helped or harboured in any need. I say that all his goods are forfeited, half to me and half to the men of the Quarter, who have a right by law to take his forfeited goods. I give notice of this suit for manslaughter in the Quarter Court into which this suit ought by law to come. I give notice of this lawful notice; I give notice in the hearing of all men on the Hill of Laws; I give notice of this suit to be pleaded this summer, and of full outlawry against Flosi Thord's son; I give notice of a suit which Thorgeir Thorir's son has handed over to me."
Then a great shout was uttered at the Hill of Laws, that Mord spoke well and boldly.
Then Mord began to speak a second time.
"I take you to witness to this," says he, "that I give notice of a suit against Flosi Thord's son. I give notice for that he wounded Helgi Njal's son with a brain, or a body, or a marrow wound, which proved a death-wound, and from which Helgi got his death on that spot where Flosi Thord's son had first rushed on Helgi Njal's son with an assault laid down by law. I say that thou, Flosi, ought to be made in this suit a guilty man, an outlaw, not to be fed, not to be forwarded, not to be helped or harboured in any need. I say that all thy goods are forfeited, half to me and half to the men of the Quarter, who have a right by law to take the goods which have been forfeited by thee. I give notice of this suit in the Quarter Court into which it ought by law to come; I give notice of this lawful notice; I give notice of it in the hearing of all men on the Hill of Laws; I give notice of this suit to be pleaded this summer, and of full outlawry against Flosi Thord's son. I give notice of the suit which Thorgeir Thorir's son hath handed over to me."
After that Mord sat him down.
Flosi listened carefully, but said never a word the while.
Then Thorgeir Craggeir stood up and took witness, and said, "I take witness to this, that I give notice of a suit against Glum Hilldir's son, in that he took firing and lit it, and bore it to the house at Bergthorsknoll, when they were burned inside it, to wit, Njal Thorgeir's son, and Bergthora Skarphedinn's daughter, and all those other men who were burned inside it there and then. I say that in this suit he ought to be made a guilty man, an outlaw, not to be fed, not to be forwarded, not to be helped or harboured in any need. I say that all his goods are forfeited. half to me, and half to the men of the Quarter, who have a right by law to take his forfeited goods; I give notice of this suit in the Quarter Court, into which it ought by law to come. I give notice in the hearing of all men on the Hill of Laws. I give notice of this suit to be pleaded this summer, and of full outlawry against Glum Hilldir's son."
Kari Solmund's son declared his suits against Kol Thorstein's son, and Gunnar Lambi's son, and Grani Gunnar's son, and it was the common talk of men that he spoke wondrous well.
Thorleif Crow declared his suit against all the sons of Sigfus, but Thorgrim the Big, his brother, against Modolf Kettle's son, and Lambi Sigurd's son, and Hroar Hamond's son, brother of Leidolf the Strong.
Asgrim Ellidagrim's son declared his suit against Leidolf and Thorstein Geirleif's son, Arni Kol's son, and Grim the Red.
And they all spoke well.
After that other men gave notice of their suits, and it was far on in the day that it went on so.
Then men fared home to their booths.
Eyjolf Bolverk's son went to his booth with Flosi, they passed east around the booth and Flosi said to Eyjolf.
"See'st thou any defence in these suits."
"None," says Eyjolf.
"What counsel is now to be taken?" says Flosi.
"I will give thee a piece of advice," said Eyjolf. "Now thou shalt hand over thy priesthood to thy brother Thorgeir, but declare that thou hast joined the Thing of Askel the Priest the son of Thorkettle, north away in Reykiardale; but if they do not know this, then may be that this will harm them, for they will be sure to plead their suit in the Eastfirthers' court, but they ought to plead it in the Northlanders' court, and they will overlook that, and it is a Fifth Court matter against them if they plead their suit in another court than that in which they ought, and then we will take that suit up, but not until we have no other choice left."
"May be," said Flosi, "that we shall get the worth of the ring."
"I don't know that," says Eyjolf; "but I will stand by thee at law, so that men shall say that there never was a better defence. Now, we must send for Askel, but Thorgeir shall come to thee at once, and a man with him."
A little while after Thorgeir came, and then he took on him Flosi's leadership and priesthood.
By that time Askel was come thither too, and then Flosi declared that he had joined his Thing, and this was with no man's knowledge save theirs.
Now all is quiet till the day when the courts were to go out to try suits.
141. NOW MEN GO TO THE COURTS
Now the time passes away till the courts were to go out to try suits. Both sides then made them ready to go thither, and armed them. Each side put war-tokens on their helmets.
Then Thorhall Asgrim's son said, "Walk hastily in nothing father mine, and do everything as lawfully and rightly as ye can, but if ye fall into any strait let me know as quickly as ye can, and then I will give you counsel."
Asgrim and the others looked at him, and his face was as though it were all blood, but great teardrops gushed out of his eyes. He bade them bring him his spear, that had been a gift to him from Skarphedinn, and it was the greatest treasure.
Asgrim said as they went away, "Our kinsman Thorhall was not easy in his mind as we left him behind in the booth, and I know not what he will be at."
Then Asgrim said again, "Now we will go to Mord Valgard's son, and think of nought else but the suit, for there is more sport in Flosi than in very many other men."
Then Asgrim sent a man to Gizur the White, and Hjallti Skeggi's son, and Gudmund the Powerful. Now they all came together, and went straight to the court of Eastfirthers. They went to the court from the south, but Flosi and all the Eastfirthers with him went to it from the north. There were also the men of Reykdale and the Axefirthers with Flosi. There, too, was Eyjolf Bolverk's son. Flosi looked at Eyjolf, and said, "All now goes fairly, and may be that it will not be far off from thy guess."
"Keep thy peace about it," says Eyjolf, "and then we shall be sure to gain our point."
Now Mord took witness, and bade all those men who had suits of outlawry before the court to cast lots who should first plead or declare his suit, and who next, and who last; he bade them by a lawful bidding before the court, so that the judges heard it. Then lots were cast as to the declarations, and he, Mord, drew the lot to declare his suit first.
Now Mord Valgard's son took witness the second time, and said, "I take witness to this, that I except all mistakes in words in my pleading, whether they be too many or wrongly spoken, and I claim the right to amend all my words until I have put them into proper lawful shape. I take witness to myself of this."
Again Mord said, "I take witness to this, that I bid Flosi Thord's son, or any other man who has undertaken the defence made over to him by Flosi, to listen for him to my oath, and to my declaration of my suit, and to all the proofs and proceedings which I am about to bring forward against him; I bid him by a lawful bidding before the court, so that the judges may hear it across the court."
Again Mord Valgard's son said, "I take witness to this, that I take an oath on the book, a lawful oath, and I say it before God, that I will so plead this suit in the most truthful, and most just and most lawful way, so far as I know; and that I will bring forward all my proofs in due form, and utter them faithfully so long as I am in this suit."
After that he spoke in these words, "I have called Thorodd as my first witness, and Thorbjorn as my second; I have called them to bear witness that I gave notice of an assault laid down by law against Flosi Thord's son, on that spot where he, Flosi Thord's son, rushed with an assault laid down by law on Helgi Njal's son, when Flosi Thord's son wounded Helgi Njal's son with a brain, or a body, or a marrow wound, which proved a death-wound, and from which Helgi got his death. I said that he ought to be made in this suit a guilty man, an outlaw, not to be fed, not to be forwarded, not to be helped or harboured in any need; I said that all his goods were forfeited half to me and half to the men of the Quarter who have the right by law to take the goods which he has forfeited; I gave notice of the suit in the quarter Court into which the suit ought by law to come; I gave notice of that lawful notice; I gave notice in the hearing of all men at the Hill of Laws; I gave notice of this suit to be pleaded now this summer, and of full outlawry against Flosi Thord's son. I gave notice of a suit which Thorgeir Thorir's son had handed over to me; and I had all these words in my notice which I have now used in this declaration of my suit. I now declare this suit of outlawry in this shape before the court of the Eastfirthers over the head of John, as I uttered it when I gave notice of it."
Then Mord spoke again, "I have called Thorodd as my first witness, and Thorbjorn as my second. I have called them to bear witness that I gave notice of a suit against Flosi Thord's son for that he wounded Helgi Njal's son with a brain or a body, or a marrow wound, which proved a death-wound, and from which Helgi got his death. I said that he ought to be made in this suit a guilty man, an outlaw, not to be fed, not to be forwarded, not to be helped or harboured in any need; I said that all his goods were forfeited, half to me and half to the men of the Quarter who have the right by law to take the goods which he has forfeited; I gave notice of the suit in the Quarter Court into which the suit ought by law to come; I gave notice of that lawful notice; I gave notice in the hearing of all men at the Hill of Laws; I gave notice of this suit to be pleaded now this summer, and of full outlawry against Flosi Thord's son. I gave notice of a suit which Thorgeir Thorir's son had handed over to me; and I had all these words in my notice which I have now used in this declaration of my suit. I now declare this suit of outlawry in this shape before the court of the Eastfirthers over the head of John, as I uttered it when I gave notice of it."
Then Mord's witnesses to the notice came before the court, and spake so that one uttered their witness, but both confirmed it by their common consent in this form, "I bear witness that Mord called Thorodd as his first witness, and me as his second, and my name is Thorbjorn" — then he named his father's name — "Mord called us two as his witnesses that he gave notice of an assault laid down by law against Flosi Thord's son when he rushed on Helgi Njal's son, in that spot where Flosi Thord's son dealt Helgi Njal's son a brain, or a body, or a marrow wound, that proved a death-wound, and from which Helgi got his death. He said that Flosi ought to be made in this suit a guilty man, an outlaw, not to be fed, not to be forwarded, not to be helped or harboured by any man; he said that all his goods were forfeited, half to himself and half to the men of the Quarter who have the right by law to take the goods which he had forfeited; he gave notice of the suit in the Quarter Court into which the suit ought by law to come; he gave notice of that lawful notice; he gave notice in the hearing of all men at the Hill of Laws; he gave notice of this suit to be pleaded now this summer, and of full outlawry against Flosi Thord's son. He gave notice of a suit which Thorgeir Thorir's son had handed over to him. He used all those words in his notice which he used in the declaration of his suit, and which we have used in bearing witness; we have now borne our witness rightly and lawfully, and we are agreed in bearing it; we bear this witness in this shape before the Eastfirthers' Court over the head of John, as Mord uttered it when he gave his notice."
A second time they bore their witness of the notice before the court, and put the wounds first and the assault last, and used all the same words as before, and bore their witness in this shape before the Eastfirthers' Court just as Mord uttered them when he gave his notice.
Then Mord's witnesses to the handing over of the suit went before the court, and one uttered their witness, and both confirmed it by common consent, and spoke in these words, "That those two, Mord Valgard's son and Thorgeir Thorir's son, took them to witness that Thorgeir Thorir's son handed over a suit for manslaughter to Mord Valgard's son against Flosi Thord's son for the slaying of Helgi Njal's son; he handed over to him then this suit, with all the proofs and proceedings which belonged to the suit, he handed it over to him to plead and to settle, and to make use of all rights as though he were the rightful next of kin: Thorgeir handed it over lawfully, and Mord took it lawfully."
They bore witness of the handing over of the suit in this shape before the Eastfirther's Court over the head of John, just as Mord or Thorgeir had called them as witnesses to prove.
They made all these witnesses swear on oath ere they bore witness, and the judges too.
Again Mord Valgard's son took witness. "I take witness to this," said he, "that I bid those nine neighbours whom I summoned when I laid this suit against Flosi Thord's son, to take their seats west on the river-bank, and I call on the defendant to challenge this request, I call on him by a lawful bidding before the court so that the judges may hear."
Again Mord took witness. "I take witness to this, that I bid Flosi Thord's son, or that other man who has the defence handed over to him, to challenge the inquest which I have caused, to take their seats west on the river-bank. I bid thee by a lawful bidding before the court so that the judges may hear."
Again Mord took witness. "I take witness to this, that now are all the first steps and proofs brought forward which belong to the suit. Summons to bear my oath, oath taken, suit declared, witness borne to the notice, witness borne to the handing over of the suit, the neighbours on the inquest bidden to take their seats, and the defendant bidden to challenge the inquest. I take this witness to these steps and proofs which are now brought forward, and also to this that I shall not be thought to have left the suit though I go away from the court to look up proofs, or on other business."
Now Flosi and his men went thither where the neighbours on the inquest sate.
Then Flosi said to his men, "The sons of Sigfus must know best whether these are the rightful neighbours to the spot who are here summoned."
Kettle of the Mark answered, "Here is that neighbour who held Mord at the font when he was baptized, but another is his second cousin by kinship."
Then they reckoned up his kinship, and proved it with an oath.
Then Eyjolf took witness that the inquest should do nothing till it was challenged.
A second time Eyjolf took witness, "I take witness to this," said he, "that I challenge both these men out of the inquest, and set them aside" — here he named them by name, and their fathers as well — "for this sake, that one of them is Mord's second cousin by kinship, but the other for gossipry (2), for which sake it is lawful to challenge a neighbour on the inquest; ye two are for a lawful reason incapable of uttering a finding, for now a lawful challenge has overtaken you, therefore I challenge and set you aside by the rightful custom of pleading at the Althing, and by the law of the land; I challenge you in the cause which Flosi Thord's son has handed over to me."
Now all the people spoke out, and said that Mord's suit had come to naught, and all were agreed in this that the defence was better than the prosecution.
Then Asgrim said to Mord, "The day is not yet their own, though they think now that they have gained a great step; but now some one shall go to see Thorhall my son, and know what advice he gives us."
Then a trusty messenger was sent to Thorhall, and told him as plainly as he could how far the suit had gone, and how Flosi and his men thought they had brought the finding of the inquest to a dead lock.
"I will so make it out," says Thorhall, "that this shall not cause you to lose the suit; and tell them not to believe it, though quirks and quibbles be brought against them, for that wiseacre Eyjolf has now overlooked something. But now thou shalt go back as quickly as thou canst, and say that Mord Valgard's son must go before the court, and take witness that their challenge has come to naught," and then he told him step by step how they must proceed.
The messenger came and told them Thorhall's advice.
Then Mord Valgard's son went to the court and took witness. "I take witness to this," said he, "that I make Eyjolf's challenge void and of none effect; and my ground is, that he challenged them not for their kinship to the true plaintiff, the next of kin, but for their kinship to him who pleaded the suit; I take this witness to myself, and to all those to whom this witness will be of use."
After that he brought that witness before the court.
Now he went whither the neighbours sate on the inquest, and bade those to sit down again who had risen up, and said they were rightly called on to share in the finding of the inquest.
Then all said that Thorhall had done great things, and all thought the prosecution better than the defence.
Then Flosi said to Eyjolf, "Thinkest thou that this is good law?"
"I think so, surely," he says, "and beyond a doubt we overlooked this; but still we will have another trial of strength with them."
Then Eyjolf took witness. "I take witness to this," said he, "that I challenge these two men out of the inquest" — here he named them both — "for that sake that they are lodgers, but not householders; I do not allow you two to sit on the inquest, for now a lawful challenge has overtaken you; I challenge you both and set you aside out of the inquest, by the rightful custom of the Althing and by the law of the land."
Now Eyjolf said he was much mistaken if that could be shaken; and then all said that the defence was better than the prosecution.
Now all men praised Eyjolf, and said there was never a man who could cope with him in lawcraft.
Mord Valgard's son and Asgrim Ellidagrim's son now sent a man to Thorhall to tell him how things stood; but when Thorhall heard that, he asked what goods they owned, or if they were paupers?
The messenger said that one gained his livelihood by keeping milch-kine, and "he has both cows and ewes at his abode; but the other has a third of the land which he and the freeholder farm, and finds his own food: and they have one hearth between them, he and the man who lets the land, and one shepherd."
Then Thorhall said, "They will fare now as before, for they must have made a mistake, and I will soon upset their challenge and this though Eyjolf had used such big words that it was law."
Now Thorhall told the messenger plainly, step by step, how they must proceed; and the messenger came back and told Mord and Asgrim all the counsel that Thorhall had given.
Then Mord went to the court and took witness. "I take witness to this, that I bring to naught Eyjolf Bolverk's son's challenges for that he has challenged those men out of the inquest who have a lawful right to be there; every man has a right to sit on an inquest of neighbours, who owns three hundreds in land or more, though he may have no dairystock; and he too has the same right who lives by dairystock worth the same sum, though he leases no land."
Then he brought this witness before the court, and then he went whither the neighbours on the inquest were, and bade them sit down, and said they were rightfully among the inquest.
Then there was a great shout and cry and then all men said that Flosi's and Eyjolf's cause was much shaken, and now men were of one mind as to this, that the prosecution was better than the defence.
Then Flosi said to Eyjolf, "Can this be law?"
Eyjolf said he had not wisdom enough to know that for a surety, and then they sent a man to Skapti, the Speaker of the Law, to ask whether it were good law, and he sent them back word that it was surely good law, though few knew it.
Then this was told to Flosi, and Eyjolf Bolverk's son asked the sons of Sigfus as to the other neighbours who were summoned thither.
They said there were four of them who were wrongly summoned; "for those sit now at home who were nearer neighbours to the spot."
Then Eyjolf took witness that he challenged all those four men out of the inquest, and that he did it with lawful form of challenge. After that he said to the neighbours, "Ye are bound to render lawful justice to both sides, and now ye shall go before the court when ye are called, and take witness that ye find that bar to uttering your finding; that ye are but five summoned to utter your finding, but that ye ought to be nine; and now Thorhall may prove and carry his point in every suit, if he can cure this flaw in this suit."
And now it was plain in everything that Flosi and Eyjolf were very boastful; and there was a great cry that now the suit for the burning was quashed, and that again the defence was better than the prosecution.
Then Asgrim spoke to Mord, "They know not yet of what to boast ere we have seen my son Thorhall. Njal told me that he had so taught Thorhall law, that he would turn out the best lawyer in Iceland whenever it were put to the proof."
Then a man was sent to Thorhall to tell him how things stood, and of Flosi's and Eyjolf's boasting, and the cry of the people that the suit for the burning was quashed in Mord's hands.
"It will be well for them," says Thorhall, "if they get not disgrace from this. Thou shalt go and tell Mord to take witness and swear an oath, that the greater part of the inquest is rightly summoned, and then he shall bring that witness before the court, and then he may set the prosecution on its feet again; but he will have to pay a fine of three marks for every man that he has wrongly summoned; but he may not be prosecuted for that at this Thing; and now thou shalt go back."
He does so, and told Mord and Asgrim all, word for word, that Thorhall had said.
Then Mord went to the court, and took witness, and swore an oath that the greater part of the inquest was rightly summoned, and said then that he had set the prosecution on its feet again, and then he went on, "And so our foes shall have honour from something else than from this, that we have here taken a great false step."
Then there was a great roar that Mord handled the suit well; but it was said that Flosi and his men betook them only to quibbling and wrong.
Flosi asked Eyjolf if this could be good law, but he said he could not surely tell, but said the Lawman must settle this knotty point.
Then Thorkel Geiti's son went on their behalf to tell the Lawman how things stood, and asked whether this were good law that Mord had said.
"More men are great lawyers now," says Skapti, "than I thought. I must tell thee, then, that this is such good law in all points, that there is not a word to say against it; but still I thought that I alone would know this, now that Njal was dead, for he was the only man I ever knew who knew it."
Then Thorkell went back to Flosi and Eyjolf, and said that this was good law.
Then Mord Valgard's son went to the court and took witness. "I take witness to this," he said, "that I bid those neighbours on the inquest in the suit which I set on foot against Flosi Thord's son now to utter their finding, and to find it either against him or for him; I bid them by a lawful bidding before the court, so that the judges may hear it across the court."
Then the neighbours on Mord's inquest went to the court, and one uttered their finding, but all confirmed it by their consent; and they spoke thus, word for word, "Mord Valgard's son summoned nine of us thanes on this inquest, but here we stand five of us, but four have been challenged and set aside, and now witness has been borne as to the absence of the four who ought to have uttered this finding along with us, and now we are bound by law to utter our finding. We were summoned to bear this witness, whether Flosi Thord's son rushed with an assault laid down by law on Helgi Njal's son, on that spot where Flosi Thord's son wounded Helgi Njal's son with a brain, or a body, or a marrow wound, which proved a death-wound, and from which Helgi got his death. He summoned us to utter all those words which it was lawful for us to utter, and which he should call on us to answer before the court, and which belong to this suit; he summoned us, so that we heard what he said; he summoned us in a suit which Thorgeir Thorir's son had handed over to him, and now we have all sworn an oath, and found our lawful finding, and are all agreed, and we utter our finding against Flosi, and we say that he is truly guilty in this suit. We nine men on this inquest of neighbours so shapen, utter this our finding before the Eastfirthers' Court over the head of John, as Mord summoned us to do; but this is the finding of all of us."
Again a second time they uttered their finding against Flosi, and uttered it first about the wounds, and last about the assault, but all their other words they uttered just as they had before uttered their finding against Flosi, and brought him in truly guilty in the suit.
Then Mord Valgard's son went before the court, and took witness that those neighbours whom he had summoned in the suit which he had set on foot against Flosi Thord's son had now uttered their finding, and brought him in truly guilty in the suit; he took witness to this for his own part, or for those who might wish to make use of this witness.
Again a second time Mord took witness and said, "I take witness to this that I call on Flosi, or that man who has to undertake the lawful defence which he has handed over to him, to begin his defence to this suit which I have set on foot against him, for now all the steps and proofs have been brought forward which belong by law to this suit; all witness borne, the finding of the inquest uttered and brought in, witness taken to the finding, and to all the steps which have gone before; but if any such thing arises in their lawful defence which I need to turn into a suit against them, then I claim the right to set that suit on foot against them. I bid this my lawful bidding before the court, so that the judges may hear."
"It gladdens me now, Eyjolf," said Flosi, "in my heart to think what a wry face they will make, and how their pates will tingle when thou bringest forward our defence."
(1) John for a man, and Gudruna for a woman, were standing names in the Formularies of the Icelandic code, answering to the "M or N" in our Liturgy, or to those famous fictions of English law, "John Doe and Richard Roe." (2) "Gossipry," that is, because they were gossips, "God's sib", relations by baptism.
142. OF EYJOLF BOLVERK'S SON
Then Eyjolf Bolverk's son went before the court, and took witness to this, "I take witness that this is a lawful defence in this cause, that ye have pleaded the suit in the Eastfirthers' Court, when ye ought to have pleaded it in the Northlanders' Court; for Flosi has declared himself one of the Thingmen of Askel the Priest and here now are those two witnesses who were by, and who will bear witness that Flosi handed over his priesthood to his brother Thorgeir, but afterwards declared himself one of Askel the Priest's Thingmen. I take witness to this for my own part, and for those who may need to make use of it."
Again Eyjolf took witness, "I take witness," he said, "to this, that I bid Mord who pleads this suit, or the next of kin, to listen to my oath, and to my declaration of the defence which I am about to bring forward; I bid him by a lawful bidding before the court, so that the judges may hear me."
Again Eyjolf took witness, "I take witness to this, that I swear an oath on the book, a lawful oath, and say it before God, that I will so defend this cause, in the most truthful, and most just, and most lawful way, so far as I know, and so fulfil all lawful duties which belong to me at this Thing."
Then Eyjolf said, "These two men I take to witness that I bring forward this lawful defence that this suit was pleaded in another Quarter Court, than that in which it ought to have been pleaded; and I say that for this sake their suit has come to naught; I utter this defence in this shape before the Eastfirthers' Court."
After that he let all the witness be brought forward which belonged to the defence, and then he took witness to all the steps in the defence to prove that they had all been duly taken.
After that Eyjolf again took witness and said, "I take witness to this, that I forbid the judges, by a lawful protest before the priest, to utter judgment in the suit of Mord and his friends, for now a lawful defence has been brought before the court. I forbid you by a protest made before a priest; by a full, fair, and binding protest; as I have a right to forbid you by the common custom of the Althing, and by the law of the land."
After that be called on the judges to pronounce for the defence.
Then Asgrim and his friends brought on the other suits for the burning, and those suits took their course.
143. THE COUNSEL OF THORHALL ASGRIM'S SON
Now Asgrim and his friends sent a man to Thorhall, and let him be told in what a strait they had come.
"Too far off was I now," answers Thorhall, "for this cause might still not have taken this turn if I had been by. I now see their course that they must mean to summon you to the Fifth Court for contempt of the Thing. They must also mean to divide the Eastfirthers Court in the suit for the burning, so that no judgment may be given, for now they behave so as to show that they will stay at no ill. Now shalt thou go back to them as quickly as thou canst, and say that Mord must summon them both, both Flosi and Eyjolf, for having brought money into the Fifth Court, and make it a case of lesser outlawry. Then he shall summon them with a second summons for that they have brought forward that witness which had nothing to do with their cause, and so were guilty of contempt of the Thing; and tell them that I say this, that if two suits for lesser outlawry hang over one and the same man, that he shall be adjudged a thorough outlaw at once. And for this ye must set your suits on foot first, that then ye will first go to trial and judgment."
Now the messenger went his way back and told Mord and Asgrim.
After that they went to the Hill of Laws, and Mord Valgard's son took witness. "I take witness to this that I summon Flosi Thord's son, for that he gave money for his help here at the Thing to Eyjolf Bolverk's son. I say that he ought on this charge to be made a guilty outlaw, for this sake alone to be forwarded or to be allowed the right of frithstow (1), if his fine and bail are brought forward at the execution levied on his house and goods, but else to become a thorough outlaw. I say all his goods are forfeited, half to me and half to the men of the Quarter who have the right by law to take his goods after he has been outlawed. I summon this cause before the Fifth Court, whither the cause ought to come by law; I summon it to be pleaded now and to full outlawry. I summon with a lawful summons. I summon in the hearing of all men at the Hill of Laws."
With a like summons he summoned Eyjolf Bolverk's son, for that he had taken and received the money, and he summoned him for that sake to the Fifth Court.
Again a second time he summoned Flosi and Eyjolf, for that sake that they had brought forward that witness at the Thing which had nothing lawfully to do with the cause of the parties, and had so been guilty of contempt of the Thing; and he laid the penalty for that at lesser outlawry.
Then they went away to the Court of Laws, there the Fifth Court was then set.
Now when Mord and Asgrim had gone away, then the judges in the Eastfirthers' Court could not agree how they should give judgment, for some of them wished to give judgment for Flosi, but some for Mord and Asgrim. Then Flosi and Eyjolf tried to divide the court, and there they stayed, and lost time over that while the summoning at the Hill of Laws going on. A little while after Flosi and Eyjolf were told that they had been summoned at the Hill of Laws into the Fifth Court, each of them with two summons. Then Eyjolf said, "In an evil hour have we loitered here while they have been before us in quickness of summoning. Now hath come out Thorhall's cunning, and no man is his match in wit. Now they have the first right to plead their cause before the court, and that was everything for them; but still we will go to the Hill of Laws, and set our suit on foot against them, though that will now stand us in little stead."
Then they fared to the Hill of Laws, and Eyjolf summoned them for contempt of the Thing.
After that they went to the Fifth Court.
Now we must say that when Mord and Asgrim came to the Fifth Court, Mord took witness and bade them listen to his oath and the declaration of his suit, and to all those proofs and steps which he meant to bring forward against Flosi and Eyjolf. He bade them by a lawful bidding before the court, so that the judges could hear him across the court.
In the Fifth Court vouchers had to follow the oaths of the parties, and they had to take an oath after them.
Mord took witness. "I take witness," he said, "to this, that I take a Fifth Court oath. I pray God so to help me in this light and in the next, as I shall plead this suit as I know to be most truthful, and just, and lawful. I believe with all my heart that Flosi is truly guilty in this suit, if I may bring forward my proofs; and I have not brought money into this court in this suit, and I will not bring it. I have not taken money, and I will not take it, neither for a lawful nor for an unlawful end."
The men who were Mord's vouchers then went two of them before the court, and took witness to this — "We take witness that we take an oath on the book, a lawful oath; we pray God so to help us two in this light and in the next, as we lay it on our honour that we believe with all our hearts that Mord will so plead this suit as he knows to be most truthful, and most just, and most lawful, and that he hath not brought money into this court in this suit to help himself, and that he will not offer it, and that he hath not taken money, nor will he take it, either for a lawful or unlawful end."
Mord had summoned nine neighbours who lived next to the Thingfield on the inquest in the suit, and then Mord took witness, and declared those four suits which he had set on foot against Flosi and Eyjolf; and Mord used all those words in his declaration that he had used in his summons. He declared his suits for outlawry in the same shape before the Fifth Court as he had uttered them when he summoned the defendants.
Mord took witness, and bade those nine neighbours on the inquest to take their seats west on the river bank.
Mord took witness again, and bade Flosi and Eyjolf to challenge the inquest.
They went up to challenge the inquest, and looked narrowly at them, but could get none of them set aside; then they went away as things stood, and were very ill pleased with their case.
Then Mord took witness, and bade those nine neighbours whom he had before called on the inquest, to utter their finding, and to bring it in either for or against Flosi.
Then the neighbours on Mord's inquest came before the court, and one uttered the finding, but all the rest confirmed it by their consent. They had all taken the Fifth Court oath, and they brought in Flosi as truly guilty in the suit, and brought in their finding against him. They brought it in such a shape before the Fifth Court over the head of the same man over whose head Mord had already declared his suit. After that they brought in all those findings which they were bound to bring in all the other suits, and all was done in lawful form.
Eyjolf Bolverk's son and Flosi watched to find a flaw in the proceedings, but could get nothing done.
Then Mord Valgard's son took witness. "I take witness," said he, "to this, that these nine neighbours whom I called on these suits which I have had hanging over the heads of Flosi Thord's son, and Eyjolf Bolverk's son, have now uttered their finding, and have brought them in truly guilty in these suits."
He took this witness for his own part.
Again Mord took witness. "I take witness," he said, "to this, that I bid Flosi Thord's son, or that other man who has taken his lawful defence in hand, now to begin their defence; for now all the steps and proofs have been brought forward in the suit, summons to listen to oaths, oaths taken, suit declared, witness taken to the summons, neighbours called on to take their seats on the inquest, defendant called on to challenge the inquest, finding uttered, witness taken to the finding."
He took this witness to all the steps that had been taken in the suit.
Then that man stood up over whose head the suit had been declared and pleaded, and summed up the case. He summed up first how Mord had bade them listen to his oath, and to his declaration of the suit, and to all the steps and proofs in it; then he summed up next how Mord took his oath and his vouchers theirs; then he summed up how Mord pleaded his suit, and used the very words in his summing up that Mord had before used in declaring and pleading his suit, and which he had used in his summons, and he said that the suit came before the Fifth Court in the same shape as it was when he uttered it at the summoning. Then he summed up that men had borne witness to the summoning, and repeated all those words that Mord had used in his summons, and which they had used in bearing their witness, "and which I now," he said, "have used in my summing up, and they bore their witness in the same shape before the Fifth Court as he uttered them at the summoning." After that he summed up that Mord bade the neighbours on the inquest to take their seats, then he told next of all how he bade Flosi to challenge the inquest, or that man who had undertaken this lawful defence for him; then he told how the neighbours went to the court, and uttered their finding, and brought in Flosi truly guilty in the suit, and how they brought in the finding of an inquest of nine men in that shape before the Fifth Court. Then he summed up how Mord took witness to all the steps in the suit, and how he had bidden the defendant to begin his defence.
After that Mord Valgard's son took witness. "I take witness," he said, "to this, that I forbid Flosi Thord's son, or that other man who has undertaken the lawful defence for him, to set up his defence; for now are all the steps taken which belong to the suit, when the case has been summed up and the proofs repeated."
After that the foreman added these words of Mord to his summing up.
Then Mord took witness, and prayed the judges to give judgment in this suit.
Then Gizur the White said, "Thou wilt have to do more yet, Mord, for four twelves can have no right to pass judgment."
Now Flosi said to Eyjolf, "What counsel is to be taken now?"
Then Eyjolf said, "Now we must make the best of a bad business; but still we will bide our time, for now I guess that they will make a false step in their suit, for Mord prayed for judgment at once in the suit, but they ought to call and set aside six men out of the court, and after that they ought to offer us to call and set aside six other men, but we will not do that, for then they ought to call and set aside those six men, and they will perhaps overlook that; then all their case has come to naught if they do not do that, for three twelves have to judge in every cause."
"Thou art a wise man, Eyjolf," said Flosi, "so that few can come nigh thee."
Mord Valgard's son took witness. "I take witness," he said "to this, that I call and set aside these six men out of the court" — and named them all by name — "I do not allow you to sit in the court; I call you out and set you aside by the rightful custom of the Althing, and the law of the land."
After that he offered Eyjolf and Flosi, before witnesses, to call out by name and set aside other six men, but Flosi and Eyjolf would not call them out.
Then Mord made them pass judgment in the cause; but when the judgment was given, Eyjolf took witness, and said that all their judgment had come to naught, and also everything else that had been done, and his ground was that three twelves and one half had judged, when three only ought to have given judgment.
"And now we will follow up our suits before the Fifth Court," said Eyjolf, "and make them outlaws."
Then Gizur the White said to Mord Valgard's son, "Thou hast made a very great mistake in taking such a false step, and this is great ill-luck; but what counsel shall we now take, kinsman Asgrim?" says Gizur.
Then Asgrim said, "Now we will send a man to my son Thorhall, and know what counsel he will give us."
(1) An old English law term for asylum or sanctuary.
144. BATTLE AT THE ALTHING
Now Snorri the Priest hears how the causes stood, and then he begins to draw up his men in arry below "the Great Rift," between it and Hadbooth, and laid down beforehand to his men how they were to behave.
Now the messenger comes to Thorhall Asgrim's son, and tells him how things stood, and how Mord Valgard's son and his friends would all be made outlaws, and the suits for manslaughter be brought to naught.
But when he heard that, he was so shocked at it that he could not utter a word. He jumped up then from his bed, and clutched with both hands his spear, Skarphedinn's gift, and drove it through his foot; then flesh clung to the spear, and the eye of the boil too, for he had cut it clean out of the foot, but a torrent of blood and matter poured out, so that it fell in a stream along the floor. Now he went out of the booth unhalting, and walked so hard that the messenger could not keep up with him, and so he goes until he came to the Fifth Court. There he met Grim the Red, Flosi's kinsman, and as soon as ever they met, Thorhall thrust at him with the spear, and smote him on the shield and clove it in twain, but the spear passed right through him, so that the point came out between his shoulders. Thorhall cast him off his spear.
Then Kari Solmund's son caught sight of that, and said to Asgrim, "Here, now, is come Thorhall thy son, and has straightway slain a man, and this is a great shame, if he alone shall have the heart to avenge the burning."
"That shall not be," says Asgrim, "but let us turn on them now."
Then there was a mighty cry all over the host, and then they shouted their war-cries.
Flosi and his friends then turned against their foes, and both sides egged on their men fast.
Kari Solmund's son turned now thither where Arni Kol's son and Hallbjorn the Strong were in front, and as soon as ever Hallbjorn saw Kari, he made a blow at him, and aimed at his leg, but Kari leapt up into the air, and Hallbjorn missed him. Kari turned on Arni Kol's son and cut at him, and smote him on the shoulder, and cut asunder the shoulder blade and collar-bone, and the blow went right down into his breast, and Arni fell down dead at once to earth.
After that he hewed at Hallbjorn and caught him on the shield, and the blow passed through the shield, and so down and cut off his great toe. Holmstein hurled a spear at Kari, but he caught it in the air, and sent it back, and it was a man's death in Flosi's band.
Thorgeir Craggeir came up to where Hallbjorn the Strong was in front, and Thorgeir made such a spear-thrust at him with his left hand that Hallbjorn fell before it, and had hard work to get on his feet again, and turned away from the fight there and then. Then Thorgeir met Thorwalld Kettle Rumble's son, and hewed at him at once with the axe, "the ogress of war," which Skarphedinn had owned. Thorwalld threw his shield before him, and Thorgeir hewed the shield and cleft it from top to bottom, but the upper horn of the axe made its way into his breast, and passed into his trunk, and Thorwalld fell and was dead at once.
Now it must be told how Asgrim Ellidagrim's son, and Thorhall his son, Hjallti Skeggi's son, and Gizur the White, made an onslaught where Flosi and the sons of Sigfus and the other burners were; — then there was a very hard fight, and the end of it was that they pressed on so hard, that Flosi and his men gave way before them. Gudmund the Powerful, and Mord Valgard's son, and Thorgeir Craggeir, made their onslaught where the Axefirthers and Eastfirthers, and the men of Reykdale stood, and there too there was a very hard fight.
Kari Solmund's son came up where Bjarni Broddhelgi's son had the lead. Kari caught up a spear and thrust at him, and the blow fell on his shield. Bjarni slipped the shield on one side of him, else it had gone straight through him. Then he cut at Kari and aimed at his leg, but Kari drew back his leg and turned short round on his heel, and Bjarni missed him. Kari cut at once at him, and then a man ran forward and threw his shield before Bjarni. Kari cleft the shield in twain, and the point of the sword caught his thigh, and ripped up the whole leg down to the ankle. That man fell there and then, and was ever after a cripple so long as he lived.
Then Kari clutched his spear with both hands, and turned on Bjarni and thrust at him; he saw he had no other chance but to throw himself down sidelong away from the blow, but as soon as ever Bjarni found his feet, away he fell back out of the fight.
Thorgeir Craggeir and Gizur the White fell on there where Holmstein the son of Bersi the Wise, and Thorkel Geiti's son were leaders, and the end of the struggle was, that Holmstein and Thorkel gave way, and then arose a mighty hooting after them from the men of Gudmund the Powerful.
Thorwalld Tjorfi's son of Lightwater got a great wound, he was shot in the forearm, and men thought that Halldor Gudmund the Powerful's son had hurled the spear, but he bore that wound about with him all his life long, and got no atonement for it.
Now there was a mighty throng. But though we hear tell of some of the deeds that were done, still there are far many more of which men have handed down no stories.
Flosi had told them that they should make for the stronghold in the Great Rift if they were worsted, "For there," said he, "they will only be able to attack us on one side." But the band which Hall of the Side and his son Ljot led, had fallen away out of the fight before the onslaught of that father and son, Asgrim and Thorhall. They turned down east of Axewater, and Hall said, "This is a sad state of things when the whole host of men at the Thing fight, and I would, kinsman Ljot, that we begged us help even though that be brought against us by some men, and that we part them. Thou shalt wait for me at the foot of the bridge, and I will go to the booths and beg for help."
"If I see," said Ljot, "that Flosi and his men need help from our men, then I will at once run up and aid them."
"Thou wilt do in that as thou pleasest," says Hall, "but I pray thee to wait for me here."
Now flight breaks out in Flosi's band, and they all fly west across Axewater; but Asgrim and Gizur the White went after them and all their host. Flosi and his men turned down between the river and the Outwork booth. Snorri the Priest had drawn up his men there in array, so thick that they could not pass that way, and Snorri the Priest called out then to Flosi, "Why fare ye in such haste, or who chase you?"
"Thou askest not this," answered Flosi, "because thou dost not know it already; but whose fault is it that we cannot get to the stronghold in the Great Rift?"
"It is not my fault," says Snorri, "but it is quite true that I know whose fault it is, and I will tell thee if thou wilt; it is the fault of Thorwalld Cropbeard and Kol."
They were both then dead, but they had been the worst men in all Flosi's band.
Again Snorri said to his men, "Now do both, cut at them and thrust at them, and drive them away hence, they will then hold out but a short while here, if the others attack them from below; but then ye shall not go after them, but let both sides shift for themselves."
The son of Skapti Thorod's son was Thorstein Gapemouth, as was written before, he was in the battle with Gudmund the Powerful, his father-in-law, and as soon as Skapti knew that, he went to the booth of Snorri the Priest, and meant to beg for help to part them; but just before he had got as far as the door of Snorri's booth, there the battle was hottest of all. Asgrim and his friends, and his men were just coming up thither, and then Thorhall said to his father Asgrim, "See there now is Skapti Thorod's son, father."
"I see him kinsman," said Asgrim, and then he shot a spear at Skapti, and struck him just below where the calf was fattest, and so through both his legs. Skapti fell at the blow, and could not get up again, and the only counsel they could take who were by, was to drag Skapti flat on his face into the booth of a turf- cutter.
Then Asgrim and his men came up so fast that Flosi and his men gave way before them south along the river to the booths of the men of Modruvale. There there was a man outside one booth whose name was Solvi; he was boiling broth in a great kettle, and had just then taken the meat out, and the broth was boiling as hotly as it could.
Solvi cast his eyes on the Eastfirthers as they fled, and they were then just over against him, and then he said, "Can all these cowards who fly here be Eastfirthers, and yet Thorkel Geiti's son, he ran by as fast as any one of them, and very great lies have been told about him when men say that he is all heart, but now no one ran faster than he."
Hallbjorn the Strong was near by then, and said, "Thou shalt not have it to say that we are all cowards."
And with that he caught hold of him, and lifted him up aloft, and thrust him head down into the broth-kettle. Solvi died at once; but then a rush was made at Hallbjorn himself, and he had to turn and fly.
Flosi threw a spear at Bruni Haflidi's son, and caught him at the waist, and that was his bane; he was one of Gudmund the Powerful's band.
Thorstein Hlenni's son took the spear out of the wound, and hurled it back at Flosi, and hit him on the leg, and he got a great wound and fell; he rose up again at once.
Then they passed on to the Waterfirthers' booth, and then Hall and Ljot came from the east across the river, with all their band; but just when they came to the lava, a spear was hurled out of the band of Gudmund the Powerful, and it struck Ljot in the middle, and he fell down dead at once; and it was never known surely who had done that manslaughter.
Flosi and his men turned up round the Waterfirther's booth, and then Thorgeir Craggeir said to Kari Solmund's son, "Look, yonder now is Eyjolf Bolverk's son, if thou hast a mind to pay him off for the ring."
"That I ween is not far from my mind," says Kari, and snatched a spear from a man, and hurled it at Eyjolf, and it struck him in the waist, and went through him, and Eyjolf then fell dead to earth.
Then there was a little lull in the battle, and then Snorri the Priest came up with his band, and Skapti was there in his company, and they ran in between them, and so they could not get at one another to fight.
Then Hall threw in his people with theirs, and was for parting them there and then, and so a truce was set, and was to be kept throughout the Thing, and then the bodies were laid out and borne to the church, and the wounds of those men were bound up who were hurt.
The day after men went to the Hill of Laws. Then Hall of the Side stood up and asked for a hearing, and got it at once; and he spoke thus, "Here there have been hard happenings in lawsuits and loss of life at the Thing, and now I will show again that I am little-hearted, for I will now ask Asgrim and the others who take the lead in these suits, that they grant us an atonement on even terms;" and so he goes on with many fair words.
Kari Solmund's son said, "Though all others take an atonement in their quarrels, yet will I take no atonement in my quarrel; for ye will wish to weigh these manslayings against the burning, and we cannot bear that."
In the same way spoke Thorgeir Craggeir.
Then Skapti Thorod's son stood up and said, "Better had it been for thee, Kari, not to have run away from thy father-in-law and thy brothers-in-law, than now to sneak out of this atonement."
Then Kari sang these verses:
"Warrior wight that weapon wieldest Spare thy speering why we fled, Oft for less falls hail of battle, Forth we fled to wreak revenge; Who was he, fainthearted foeman, Who, when tongues of steel sung high, Stole beneath the booth for shelter, While his beard blushed red for shame?
"Many fetters Skapti fettered When the men, the Gods of fight, From the fray fared all unwilling Where the skald scarce held his shield; Then the suttlers dragged the lawyer Stout in scolding to their booth, Laid him low amongst the riffraff, How his heart then quaked for fear.
"Men who skim the main on sea stag Well in this ye showed your sense Making game about the Burning, Mocking Helgi, Grim, and Njal; Now the moor round rocky Swinestye (1), As men run and shake their shields, With another grunt shall rattle When this Thing is past and gone."
Then there was great laughter. Snorri the Priest smiled and sang this between his teeth, but so that many heard:
"Skill hath Skapti us to tell Whether Asgrim's shaft flew well; Holmstein hurried swift to flight, Thorstein turned him soon to fight."
Now men burst out in great fits of laughter.
Then Hall of the Side said, "All men know what a grief I have suffered in the loss of my son Ljot; many will think that he would be valued dearest of all those men who have fallen here; but I will do this for the sake of an atonement — I will put no price on my son, and yet will come forward and grant both pledges and peace to those who are my adversaries. I beg thee, Snorri the Priest, and other of the best men, to bring this about, that there may be an atonement between us."
Now he sits him down, and a great hum in his favour followed, and all praised his gentleness and goodwill.
Then Snorri the Priest stood up and made a long and clever speech, and begged Asgrim and the others who took the lead in the quarrel to look towards an atonement.
Then Asgrim said, "I made up my mind when Flosi made an inroad on my house that I would never be atoned with him; but now Snorri the Priest, I will take an atonement from him for thy word's sake and other of our friends."
In the same way spoke Thorleif Crow and Thorgrim the Big, that they were willing to be atoned, and they urged in every way their brother Thorgeir Craggeir to take an atonement also; but he hung back, and says he would never part from Kari.
Then Gizur the White said, "Now Flosi must see that he must make his choice, whether he will be atoned on the understanding that some will be out of the atonement."
Flosi says he will take that atonement; "And methinks it is so much the better," he says, "that I have fewer good men and true against me."
Then Gudmund the Powerful said, "I will offer to handsel peace on my behalf for the slayings that have happened here at the Thing, on the understanding that the suit for the burning is not to fall to the ground."
In the same way spoke Gizur the White and Hjallti Skeggi's son, Asgrim Ellidagrim's son and Mord Valgard's son.
In this way the atonement came about, and then hands were shaken on it, and twelve men were to utter the award; and Snorri the Priest was the chief man in the award, and others with him. Then the manslaughters were set off the one against the other, and those men who were over and above were paid for in fines. They also made an award in the suit about the burning.
Njal was to be atoned for with a triple fine, and Bergthora with two. The slaying of Skarphedinn was to be set off against that of Hauskuld the Whiteness Priest. Both Grim and Helgi were to be paid for with double fines; and one full man-fine should be paid for each of those who had been burnt in the house.
No atonement was taken for the slaying of Thord Kari's son.
It was also in the award that Flosi and all the burners should go abroad into banishment, and none of them was to sail the same summer unless he chose; but if he did not sail abroad by the time that three winters were spent, then he and all the burners were to become thorough outlaws. And it was also said that their outlawry might be proclaimed either at the Harvest-Thing or Spring-Thing, whichever men chose; and Flosi was to stay abroad three winters.
As for Gunnar Lambi's son, and Grani Gunnar's son, Glum Hilldir's son, and Kol Thorstein's son, they were never to be allowed to come back.
Then Flosi was asked if he would wish to have a price put upon his wound, but he said he would not take bribes for his hurt.
Eyjolf Bolverk's son had no fine awarded for him, for his unfairness and wrongfulness.
And now this settlement and atonement was handselled and was well kept afterwards.
Asgrim and his friends gave Snorri the priest good gifts, and he had great honour from these suits.
Skapti got a fine for his hurt.
Gizur the White, and Hjallti Skeggi's son, and Asgrim Ellidagrim's son, asked Gudmund the Powerful to come and see them at home. He accepted the bidding, and each of them gave him a gold ring.
Now Gudmund rides home north and had praise from every man for the part he had taken in these quarrels.
Thorgeir Craggeir asked Kari to go along with him, but yet first of all they rode with Gudmund right up to the fells north. Kari gave Gudmund a golden brooch, but Thorgeir gave him a silver belt, and each was the greatest treasure. So they parted with the utmost friendship, and Gudmund is out of this story.
Kari and Thorgeir rode south from the fell, and down to the Rapes (1), and so to Thurso-water.
Flosi, and the burners along with him, rode east to Fleetlithe, and he allowed the sons of Sigfus to settle their affairs at home. Then Flosi heard that Thorgeir and Kari had ridden north with Gudmund the Powerful, and so the burners thought that Kari and his friend must mean to stay in the north country; and then the sons of Sigfus asked leave to go east under Eyjafell to get in their money, for they had money out on call at Headbrink. Flosi gave them leave to do that, but still bade them be ware of themselves, and be as short a time about it as they could.
Then Flosi rode up by Godaland, and so north of Eyjafell Jokul, and did not draw bridle before he came home east to Swinefell.
Now it must be said that Hall of the Side had suffered his son to fall without a fine, and did that for the sake of an atonement, but then the whole host of men at the Thing agreed to pay a fine for him, and the money so paid was not less than eight hundred in silver, but that was four times the price of a man; but all the others who had been with Flosi got no fines paid for their hurts, and were very ill pleased at it.
The sons of Sigfus stayed at home two nights, but the third day they rode east to Raufarfell, and were there the night. They were fifteen together, and had not the least fear for themselves. They rode thence late, and meant to reach Headbrink about even. They baited their horses in Carlinedale, and then a great slumber came over them.
(1) "Swinestye," ironically for Swinefell, where Flosi lived. (2) This is the English equivalent for the Icelandic Hrep, a district. It still lingers in "the Rape of Bramber," and other districts in Sussex and the southeast.
145. OF KARI AND THORGEIR
Those two, Kari Solmund's son and Thorgeir Craggeir, rode that day east across Markfleet, and so on east to Selialandsmull. They found there some women. The wives knew them, and said to them, "Ye two are less wanton than the sons of Sigfus yonder, but still ye fare unwarily."
"Why do ye talk thus of the sons of Sigfus, or what do ye know about them?"
"They were last night," they said, "at Raufarfell, and meant to get to Myrdale to-night, but still we thought they must have some fear of you, for they asked when ye would be likely to come home."
Then Kari and Thorgeir went on their way and spurred their horses.
"What shall we lay down for ourselves to do now," said Thorgeir, "or what is most to thy mind? Wilt thou that we ride on their track?"
"I will not hinder this," answers Kari, "nor will I say what ought to be done, for it may often be that those live long who are slain with words alone (1); but I well know what thou meanest to take on thyself, thou must mean to take on thy hands eight men, and after all that is less than it was when thou slewest those seven in the sea-crags (2), and let thyself down by a rope to get at them; but it is the way with all you kinsmen, that ye always wish to be doing some famous feat, and now I can do no less than stand by thee and have my share in the story. So now we two alone will ride after them, for I see that thou hast so made up thy mind."
After that they rode east by the upper way, and did not pass by Holt, for Thorgeir would not that any blame should be laid at his brother's door for what might be done.
Then they rode east to Myrdale, and there they met a man who had turf-panniers on his horse. He began to speak thus, "Too few men, messmate Thorgeir, hast thou now in thy company."
"How is that?" says Thorgeir.
"Why," said the other, "because the prey is now before thy hand. The sons of Sigfus rode by a while ago, and mean to sleep the whole day east in Carlinedale, for they mean to go no farther to-night than to Headbrink."
After that they rode on their way east on Arnstacks heath, and there is nothing to be told of their journey before they came to Carlinedale-water.
The stream was high, and now they rode up along the river, for they saw there horses with saddles. They rode now thitherward, and saw that there were men asleep in a dell and their spears were standing upright in the ground a little below them. They took the spears from them, and threw them into the river.
Then Thorgeir said, "Wilt thou that we wake them?"
"Thou hast not asked this," answers Kari, "because thou hast not already made up thy mind not to fall on sleeping men, and so to slay a shameful manslaughter."
After that they shouted to them, and then they all awoke and grasped at their arms.
They did not fall on them till they were armed.
Thorgeir Craggeir runs thither where Thorkell Sigfus' son stood, and just then a man ran behind his back, but before he could do Thorgeir any hurt, Thorgeir lifted the axe, "the ogress of war," with both hands, and dashed the hammer of the axe with a back- blow into the head of him that stood behind him, so that his skull was shattered to small bits.
"Slain is this one," said Thorgeir; and down the man fell at once, and was dead.
But when he dashed the axe forward, he smote Thorkell on the shoulder, and hewed it off, arm and all.
Against Kari came Mord Sigfus' son, and Sigmund Sigfus' son, and Lambi Sigurd's son; the last ran behind Kari's back, and thrust at him with a spear; Kari caught sight of him, and leapt up as the blow fell, and stretched his legs far apart, and so the blow spent itself on the ground, but Kari jumped down on the spear- shaft, and snapped it in sunder. He had a spear in one hand, and a sword in the other, but no shield. He thrust with the right hand at Sigmund Sigfus' son, and smote him on his breast, and the spear came out between his shoulders, and down he fell and was dead at once, With his left hand he made a cut at Mord, and smote him on the hip, and cut it asunder, and his backbone too; he fell flat on his face, and was dead at once.
After that he turned sharp round on his heel like a whipping-top, and made at Lambi Sigurd's son, but he took the only way to save himself, and that was by running away as hard as he could.
Now Thorgeir turns against Leidolf the Strong, and each hewed at the other at the same moment, and Leidolf's blow was so great that it shore off that part of the shield on which it fell.
Thorgeir had hewn with "the ogress of war," holding it with both hands, and the lower horn fell on the shield and clove it in twain, but the upper caught the collarbone and cut it in two and tore on down into the breast and trunk. Kari came up just then, and cut off Leidolf's leg at mid-thigh, and then Leidolf fell and died at once.
Kettle of the Mark said, "We will now run for our horses, for we cannot hold our own here, for the overbearing strength of these men."
Then they ran for their horses, and leapt on their backs; and Thorgeir said, "Wilt thou that we chase them? If so, we shall yet slay some of them."
"He rides last," says Kari, "whom I would not wish to slay, and that is Kettle of the Mark, for we have two sisters to wife; and besides, he has behaved best of all of them as yet in our quarrels."
Then they got on their horses, and rode till they came home to Holt. Then Thorgeir made his brothers fare away east to Skoga, for they had another farm there, and because Thorgeir would not that his brothers should be called truce-breakers.
Then Thorgeir kept many men there about him, so that there were never fewer than thirty fighting men there.
Then there was great joy there, and men thought Thorgeir had grown much greater, and pushed himself on; both he and Kari too. Men long kept in mind this hunting of theirs, how they rode upon fifteen men and slew those five, but put those ten to flight who got away.
Now it is to be told of Kettle, that they rode as they best might till they came home to Swinefell, and told how bad their journey had been.
Flosi said it was only what was to be looked for; "And this is a warning that ye should never do the like again."
Flosi was the merriest of men, and the best of hosts, and it is so said that he had most of the chieftain in him of all the men of his time.
He was at home that summer, and the winter too.
But that winter, after Yule, Hall of the Side came from the east, and Kol his son. Flosi was glad at his coming, and they often talked about the matter of the burning. Flosi said they had already paid a great fine, and Hall said it was pretty much what he had guessed would come of Flosi's and his friends' quarrel. Then he asked him what counsel he thought best to be taken, and Hall answers, "The counsel is, that thou beest atoned with Thorgeir if there be a choice, and yet he will be hard to bring to take any atonement."
"Thinkest thou that the manslaughters will then be brought to an end?" asks Flosi.
"I do not think so," says Hall; "but you will have to do with fewer foes if Kari be left alone; but if thou art not atoned with Thorgeir, then that will be thy bane."
"What atonement shall we offer him?" asks Flosi.
"You will all think that atonement hard," says Hall, "which he will take, for he will not hear of an atonement unless he be not called on to pay any fine for what he has just done, but he will have fines for Njal and his sons, so far as his third share goes."
"That is a hard atonement," says Flosi.
"For thee at least," says Hall, "that atonement is not hard, for thou hast not the blood-feud after the sons of Sigfus; their brothers have the blood-feud, and Hammond the Halt after his son; but thou shalt now get an atonement from Thorgeir, for I will now ride to his house with thee, and Thorgeir will in anywise receive me well: but no man of those who are in this quarrel will dare to sit in his house on Fleetlithe if they are out of the atonement, for that will be their bane; and, indeed, with Thorgeir's turn of mind, it is only what must be looked for."
Now the sons of Sigfus were sent for, and they brought this business before them; and the end of their speech was, on the persuasion of Hall, that they all thought what he said right, and were ready to be atoned.
Grani Gunnar's son and Gunnar Lambi's son, said, "It will be in our power, if Kari be left alone behind, to take care that he be not less afraid of us than we of him."
"Easier said than done," says Hall, "and ye will find it a dear bargain to deal with him. Ye will have to pay a heavy fine before you have done with him."
After that they ceased speaking about it.
(1) "With words alone." The English proverb, "Threatened men live long." (2) "Sea crags." Hence Thorgeir got his surname "Craggeir."
146. THE AWARD OF ATONEMENT WITH THORGEIR CRAGGEIR
Hall of the Side and his son Kol, seven of them in all, rode west over Loomnip's Sand, and so west over Amstacksheath, and did not draw bridle till they came into Myrdale. There they asked whether Thorgeir would be at home at Holt, and they were told that they would find him at home.
The men asked whither Hall meant to go.
"Thither to Holt," he said.
They said they were sure he went on a good errand.
He stayed there some while and baited their horses, and after that they mounted their horses and rode to Solheim about even, and they were there that night, but the day after they rode to Holt.
Thorgeir was out of doors, and Kari too, and their men, for they had seen Hall's coming. He rode in a blue cape, and had a little axe studded with silver in his hand; but when they came into the "town," Thorgeir went to meet him, and helped him off his horse, and both he and Kari kissed him and led him in between them into the sittingroom, and sate him down in the high seat on the dais, and they asked him tidings about many things.
He was there that night. Next morning Hall raised the question of the atonement with Thorgeir, and told him what terms they offered him; and he spoke about them with many fair and kindly words.
"It may be well known to thee," answers Thorgeir, "that I said I would take no atonement from the burners."
"That was quite another matter then," says Hall; "ye were then wroth with fight, and, besides, ye have done great deeds in the way of manslaying since."
"I daresay ye think so," says Thorgeir, "but what atonement do ye offer to Kari?"
"A fitting atonement shall be offered him," says Hall, "if he will take it."
Then Kari said, "I pray this of thee, Thorgeir, that thou wilt be atoned, for thy lot cannot be better than good."
"Methinks," says Thorgeir, "it is ill done to take in atonement, and sunder myself from thee, unless thou takest the same atonement as I."
"I will not take any atonement," says Kari, "but yet I say that we have avenged the burning; but my son, I say, is still unavenged, and I mean to take that on myself alone, and see what I can get done."
But Thorgeir would take no atonement before Kari said that he would take it ill if he were not atoned. Then Thorgeir handselled a truce to Flosi and his men, as a step to a meeting for atonement; but Hall did the same on behalf of Flosi and the sons of Sigfus.
But ere they parted, Thorgeir gave Hall a gold ring and a scarlet cloak, but Kari gave him a silver brooch, and there were hung to it four crosses of gold. Hall thanked them kindly for their gifts, and rode away with the greatest honour. He did not draw bridle till he came to Swinefell, and Flosi gave him a hearty welcome. Hall told Flosi all about his errand and the talk he had with Thorgeir, and also that Thorgeir would not take the atonement till Kari told him he would quarrel with him if he did not take it; but that Kari would take no atonement.
"There are few men like Kari," said Flosi, "and I would that my mind were shapen altogether like his."
Hall and Kol stayed there some while, and afterwards they rode west at the time agreed on to the meeting for atonement, and met at Headbrink, as had been settled between them.
Then Thorgeir came to meet them from the west, and then they talked over their atonement, and all went off as Hall had said.
Before the atonement, Thorgeir said that Kari should still have the right to be at his house all the same if he chose.
"And neither side shall do the others any harm at my house; and I will not have the trouble of gathering in the fines from each of the burners; but my will is that Flosi alone shall be answerable for them to me, but he must get them in from his followers. My will also is that all that award which was made at the Thing about the burning shall be kept and held to; and my will also is, Flosi, that thou payest me up my third share in unclipped coin."
Flosi went quickly into all these terms.
Thorgeir neither gave up the banishment nor the outlawry.
Now Flosi and Hall rode home east, and then Hall said to Flosi, "Keep this atonement well, son-in-law, both as to going abroad and the pilgrimage to Rome (1), and the fines, and then thou wilt be thought a brave man, though thou hast stumbled into this misdeed, if thou fulfillest handsomely all that belongs to it."
Flosi said it should be so.
Now Hall rode home east, but Flosi rode home to Swinefell, and was at home afterwards.
(1) "Pilgrimage to Rome." This condition had not been mentioned before.
147. KARI COMES TO BJORN'S HOUSE IN THE MARK
Thorgeir Craggeir rode home from the peace meeting, and Kari asked whether the atonement had come about. Thorgeir said that they now fully atoned.
Then Kari took his horse and was for riding away.
"Thou hast no need to ride away," says Thorgeir, "for it was laid down in our atonement that thou shouldst be here as before if thou chosest."
"It shall not be so, cousin, for as soon as ever I slay a man they will be sure to say that thou wert in the plot with me, and I will not have that! But I wish this, that thou wouldst let me hand over in trust to thee my goods, and the estates of me and my wife Helga Njal's daughter, and my three daughters, and then they will not be seized by those adversaries of mine."
Thorgeir agreed to what Kari wished to ask of him, and then Thorgeir had Kari's goods handed over to him in trust.
After that Kari rode away. He had two horses and his weapons and outer clothing, and some ready money in gold and silver.
Now Kari rode west by Selialandsmull and up along Markfleet, and so on up into Thorsmark. There there are three farms all called "Mark." At the midmost farm dwelt that man whose name was Bjorn, and his surname was Bjorn the White; he was the son of Kadal, the son of Bjalfi. Bjalfi had been the freedman of Asgerda, the mother of Njal and Holt-Thorir; Bjorn had to wife Valgerda, she was the daughter of Thorbrand, the son of Asbrand. Her mother's name was Gudlauga, she was a sister of Hamond, the father of Gunnar of Lithend; she was given away to Bjorn for his money's sake, and she did not love him much, but yet they had children together, and they had enough and to spare in the house.
Bjorn was a man who was always boasting and praising himself, but his housewife thought that bad. He was sharpsighted and swift of foot.
Thither Kari turned in as a guest, and they took him by both hands, and he was there that night. But the next morning Kari said to Bjorn, "I wish thou wouldst take me in, for I should think myself well housed here with thee. I would too that thou shouldst be with me in my journeyings, as thou art a sharpsighted, swiftfooted man, and besides I think thou wouldst be dauntless in an onslaught."
"I can't blame myself," says Bjorn, "for wanting either sharp sight, or dash, or any other bravery; but no doubt thou camest hither because all thy other earths are stopped. Still at thy prayer, Kari, I will not look on thee as an everyday man; I will surely help thee in all that thou askest."
"The trolls take thy boasting and bragging," said his housewife, "and thou shouldst not utter such stuff and silliness to any one than thyself. As for me, I will willingly give Kari meat and other good things, which I know will be useful to him; but on Bjorn's hardihood, Kari, thou shalt not trust, for I am afraid that thou wilt find it quite otherwise than he says."
"Often hast thou thrown blame upon me," said Bjorn, "but for all that I put so much faith in myself that though I am put to the trial I will never give way to any man; and the best proof of it is this, that few try a tussle with me because none dare to do so."
Kari was there some while in hiding, and few men knew of it.
Now men think that Kari must have ridden to the north country to see Gudmund the Powerful, for Kari made Bjorn tell his neighbours that he had met Kari on the beaten track, and that he rode thence up into Godaland, and so north to Goose-sand, and then north to Gudmund the Powerful at Modruvale.
So that story was spread over all the country.
148. OF FLOSI AND THE BURNERS
Now Flosi spoke to the burners, his companions, "It will no longer serve our turn to sit still, for now we shall have to think of our going abroad and of our fines, and of fulfilling our atonement as bravely as we can, and let us take a passage wherever it seems most likely to get one."
They bade him see to all that. Then Flosi said, "We will ride east to Hornfirth; for there that ship is laid up, which is owned by Eyjolf Nosy, a man from Drontheim, but he wants to take to him a wife here, and he will not get the match made unless he settles himself down here. We will buy the ship of him, for we shall have many men and little freight. The ship is big and will take us all."
Then they ceased talking of it.
But a little after they rode east, and did not stop before they came east to Bjornness in Homfirth, and there they found Eyjolf, for he had been there as a guest that winter.
There Flosi and his men had a hearty welcome, and they were there the night. Next morning Flosi dealt with the captain for the ship, but he said he would not be hard to sell the ship if he could get what he wanted for her. Flosi asked him in what coin he wished to be paid for her; the Easterling says he wanted land for her near where he then was.
Then Eyjolf told Flosi all about his dealings with his host, and Flosi says he will pull an oar with him, so that his marriage bargain might be struck, and buy the ship of him afterwards. The Easterling was glad at that. Flosi offered him land at Borgarhaven, and now the Easterling holds on with his suit to his host when Flosi was by, and Flosi threw in a helping word, so that the bargain was brought about between them.
Flosi made over the land at Borgarhaven to the Easterling, but shook hands on the bargain for the ship. He got also from the Easterling twenty hundreds in wares, and that was also in their bargain for the land.
Now Flosi rode back home. He was so beloved by his men that their wares stood free to him to take either on loan or gift, just as he chose.
He rode home to Swinefell, and was at home a while.
Then Flosi sent Kol Thorstein's son and Gunnar Lambi's son east to Hornfirth. They were to be there by the ship, and to fit her out, and set up booths, and sack the wares, and get all things together that were needful.
Now we must tell of the sons of Sigfus how they say to Flosi that they will ride west to Fleetlithe to set their houses in order, and get wares thence, and such other things as they needed. "Kari is not there now to be guarded against," they say, "if he is in the north country as is said."
"I know not," answers Flosi, "as to such stories, whether there be any truth in what is said of Kari's journeyings; methinks, we have often been wrong in believing things which are nearer to learn than this. My counsel is that ye go many of you together, and part as little as ye can, and be as wary of yourselves as ye may. Thou, too, Kettle of the Mark shalt bear in mind that dream which I told thee, and which thou prayedst me to hide; for many are those in thy company who were then called."
"All must come to pass as to man's life," said Kettle, "as it is foredoomed; but good go with thee for thy warning."
Now they spoke no more about it.
After that the sons of Sigfus busked them and those men with them who were meant to go with them. They were eight in all, and then they rode away, and ere they went they kissed Flosi, and he bade them farewell, and said he and some of those who rode away would not see each other more. But they would not let themselves be hindered. They rode now on their way, and Flosi said that they should take his wares in Middleland, and carry them east, and do the same in Landsbreach and Woodcombe.
After that they rode to Skaptartongue, and so on the fell, and north of Eyjafell Jokul, and down into Godaland, and so down into the woods in Thorsmark.
Bjorn of the Mark caught sight of them coming, and went at once to meet them.
Then they greeted each other well, and the sons of Sigfus asked after Kari Solmund's son.
"I met Kari," said Bjorn, "and that is now very long since; he rode hence north on Goose-sand, and meant to go to Gudmund the Powerful, and methought if he were here now, he would stand in awe of you, for he seemed to be left all alone."
Grani Gunnar's son said, "He shall stand more in awe of us yet before we have done with him, and he shall learn that as soon as ever he comes within spearthrow of us; but as for us, we do not fear him at all, now that he is all alone."
Kettle of the Mark bade them be still, and bring out no big words.
Bjorn asked when they would be coming back.
"We shall stay near a week in Fleetlithe," said they, and so they told him when they should be riding back on the fell.
With that they parted.
Now the sons of Sigfus rode to their homes, and their households were glad to see them. They were there near a week.
Now Bjorn comes home and sees Kari, and told him all about the doings of the sons of Sigfus, and their purpose.
Kari said he had shown in this great faithfulness to him, and Bjorn said, "I should have thought there was more risk of any other man's failing in that than of me if I had pledged my help or care to any one."
"Ah," said his mistress, "but you may still be bad and yet not be so bad as to be a traitor to thy master."
Kari stayed there six nights after that.
149. OF KARI AND BJORN
Now Kari talks to Bjorn and says, "We shall ride east across the fell and down into Skaptartongue, and fare stealthily over Flosi's country, for I have it in my mind to get myself carried abroad east in Alftafirth."
"This is a very riskful journey," said Bjorn, "and few would have the heart to take it save thou and I."
"If thou backest Kari ill," said his housewife, "know this, that thou shalt never come afterwards into my bed, and my kinsmen shall share our goods between us."
"It is likelier, mistress," said he, "that thou wilt have to look out for something else than this if thou hast a mind to part from me: for I will bear my own witness to myself what a champion and daredevil I am when weapons clash."
Now they rode that day east on the fell to the north of the Jokul, but never on the highway, and so down into Skaptartongue, and above all the homesteads to Skaptarwater, and led their horses into a dell, but they themselves were on the look-out, and had so placed themselves that they could not be seen.
Then Kari said to Bjorn, "What shall we do now if they ride down upon us here from the fell?"
"Are there not but two things to be done," said Bjorn; "one to ride away from them north under the crags, and so let them ride by us, or to wait and see if any of them lag behind, and then to fall on them."
They talked much about this, and one while Bjorn was for flying as fast as he could in every word he spoke, and at another for staying and fighting it out with them, and Kari thought this the greatest sport.
The sons of Sigfus rode from their homes the same day that they had named to Bjorn. They came to the Mark and knocked at the door there, and wanted to see Bjorn; but his mistress went to the door and greeted them. They asked at once for Bjorn, and she said he had ridden away down under Eyjafell, and so east under Selialandsmull, and on east to Holt, "for he has some money to call in thereabouts," she said.
They believed this, for they knew that Bjorn had money out at call there.
After that they rode east on the fell, and did not stop before they came to Skaptartongue, and so rode down along Skaptarwater, and baited their horses just where Kari had thought they would. Then they split their band. Kettle of the Mark rode east into Middleland, and eight men with him, but the others laid them down to sleep, and were not ware of aught until Kari and Bjorn came up to them. A little ness ran out there into the river; into it Kari went and took his stand, and bade Bjorn stand back to back with him, and not to put himself too forward, "but give me all the help thou canst."