Part 8 out of 9
it was said that Flosi and his men betook them only to quibbling
Flosi asked Eyjolf if this could be good law, but he said he
could not surely tell, but said the Lawman must settle this
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
"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
home 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 home, 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 shaft 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
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
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
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
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
Then Mord took witness, and prayed the judges to give judgment in
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
"Thou art a wise man, Eyjolf," said Flosi, "so that few can come
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 Ami 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 Ami fell down dead at once to
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
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 here 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
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
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-
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
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
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
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
The day after men went to the Hill of Laws. Then Han 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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
Then Kari and Thorgeir went on their way and spurred their
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
(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
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
"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
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
"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
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 Bjom, "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
Bjom'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
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
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
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
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
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."
"Well," says Bjorn, "I never had it in my head that any man
should stand before me as a shield, but still as things are thou
must have thy way; but for all that, with my gift of wit and my
swiftness I may be of some use to thee, and not harmless to our
Now they all rose up and ran at them, and Modolf Kettle's son was
quickest of them, and thrust at Kari with his spear. Kari had
his shield before him, and the blow fell on it, and the spear
stuck fast in the shield. Then Kari twists the shield so
smartly, that the spear snapped short off, and then he drew his
sword and smote at Modolf; but Modolf made a cut at him too, and
Kari's sword fell on Modolf's hilt, and glanced off it on to
Modolf's wrist, and took the arm off, and down it fell, and the
sword too. Then Kari's sword passed on into Modolf's side, and
between his ribs, and so Modolf fell down and was dead on the
Grani Gunnar's son snatched up a spear and hurled it at Kari, but
Kari thrust down his shield so hard that the point stood fast in
the ground, but with his left hand he caught the spear in the
air, and hurled it back at Grani, and caught up his shield again
at once with his left hand. Grani had his shield before him, and
the spear came on the shield and passed right through it, and
into Grani's thigh just below the small guts, and through the
limb, and so on, pinning him to the ground, and he could not get
rid of the spear before his fellows drew him off it, and carried
him away on their shields, and laid him down in a dell.
There was a man who ran up to Kari's side, and meant to cut off
his leg, but Bjorn cut off that man's arm, and sprang back again
behind Kari, and they could not do him any hurt. Kari made a
sweep at that same man with his sword, and cut him asunder at the
Then Lambi Sigfus' son rushed at Kari, and hewed at him with his
sword. Kari caught the blow sideways on his shield, and the
sword would not bite; then Kari thrust at Lambi with his sword
just below the breast, so that the point came out between his
shoulders, and that was his deathblow.
Then Thorstein Geirleif's son rushed at Kari, and thought to take
him in flank, but Kari caught sight of him, and swept at him with
his sword across the shoulders, so that the man was cleft asunder
at the chine.
A little while after he gave Gunnar of Skal, a good man and true,
his deathblow. As for Bjorn, he had wounded three men who had
tried to give Kari wounds, and yet he was never so far forward
that he was in the least danger, nor was he wounded, nor was
either of those companions hurt in that fight, but all those that
got away were wounded.
Then they ran for their horses, and galloped them off across
Skaptarwater as hard as they could, and they were so scared that
they stopped at no house, nor did they dare to stay and tell the
Kari and Bjorn hooted and shouted after them as they galloped
off. So they rode east to Woodcombe, and did not draw bridle
till they came to Swinefell.
Flosi was not at home when they came thither, and that was why no
hue and cry was made thence after Kari.
This journey of theirs was thought most shameful by all men.
Kari rode to Skal, and gave notice of these manslayings as done
by his hand; there, too, he told them of the death of their
master and five others, and of Grani's wound, and said it would
be better to bear him to the house if he were to live.
Bjorn said he could not bear to slay him, though he said he was
worthy of death; but those who answered him said they were sure
few had bitten the dust before him. But Bjorn told them he had
it now in his power to make as many of the Sidemen as he chose
bite the dust; to which they said it was a bad look out.
Then Kari and Bjorn ride away from the house.
150. MORE OF KARI AND BJORN
Then Kari asked Bjorn, "What counsel shall we take now? Now I
will try what thy wit is worth."
"Dost thou think now," answered Bjorn, "that much lies on our
being as wise as ever we can?"
"Ay," said Kari, "I think so surely."
"Then our counsel is soon taken," says Bjorn. "We will cheat
them all as though they were giants; and now we will make as
though we were riding north on the fell, but as soon as ever we
are out of sight behind the brae, we will turn down along
Skaptarwater, and hide us there where we think handiest, so long
as the hue and cry is hottest, if they ride after us."
"So will we do," said Kari; "and this I had meant to do all
"And so you may put it to the proof," said Bjorn, "that I am no
more of an every-day body in wit than I am in bravery."
Now Kari and his companion rode as they had purposed down along
Skaptarwater, till they came where a branch of the stream ran
away to the south-east; then they turned down along the middle
branch, and did not draw bridle till they came into Middleland,
and on that moor which is called Kringlemire; it has a stream of
lava all around it.
Then Kari said to Bjorn that he must watch their horses, and keep
a good look-out; "But as for me," he says, "I am heavy with
So Bjorn watched the horses, but Kari lay him down, and slept but
a very short while ere Bjorn waked him up again, and he had
already led their horses together, and they were by their side.
Then Bjorn said to Kari, "Thou standest in much need of me
though! A man might easily have run away from thee if he had not
been as brave-hearted as I am; for now thy foes are riding upon
thee, and so thou must up and be doing."
Then Kari went away under a jutting crag, and Bjorn said, "Where
shall I stand now?"
"Well!" answers Kari, "now there are two choices before thee; one
is, that thou standest at my back and have my shield to cover
thyself with, if it can be of any use to thee; and the other is,
to get on thy horse and ride away as fast as thou canst."
"Nay," says Bjorn, "I will not do that, and there are many things
against it; first of all, may be, if I ride away, some spiteful
tongues might begin to say that I ran away from thee for faint-
heartedness; and another thing is, that I well know what game
they will think there is in me, and so they will ride after me,
two or three of them, and then I should be of no use or help to
thee after all. No! I will rather stand by thee and keep them
off so long as it is fated."
Then they had not long to wait ere horses with packsaddles were
driven by them over the moor, and with them went three men.
Then Kari said, "These men see us not."
"Then let us suffer them to ride on," said Bjorn.
So those three rode on past them; but the six others then came
riding right up to them, and they all leapt off their horses
straightway in a body, and turned on Kari and his companion.
First, Glum Hildir's son rushed at them, and thrust at Kari with
a spear; Kari turned short round on his heel, and Glum missed
him, and the blow fell against the rock. Bjorn sees that and
hewed at once the head off Glum's spear. Kari leant on one side
and smote at Glum with his sword, and the blow fell on his thigh,
and took off the limb high up in the thigh, and Glum died at
Then Vebrand and Asbrand the sons of Thorbrand ran up to Kari,
but Kari flew at Vebrand and thrust his sword through him, but
afterwards he hewed off both of Asbrand's feet from under him.
In this bout both Kari and Bjorn were wounded.
Then Kettle of the Mark rushed at Kari, and thrust at him with
his spear. Kari threw up his leg, and the spear stuck in the
ground, and Kari leapt on the spear-shaft, and snapped it in
Then Kari grasped Kettle in his arms, and Bjorn ran up just then,
and wanted to slay him, but Kari said, "Be still now. I will
give Kettle peace; for though it may be that Kettle's life is in
my power, still I will never slay him."
Kettle answers never a word, but rode away after his companions,
and told those the tidings who did not know them already.
They told also these tidings to the men of the Hundred, and they
gathered together at once a great force of armed men, and went
straightway up all the water-courses, and so far up on the fell
that they were three days in the chase; but after that they
turned back to their own homes, but Kettle and his companions
rode east to Swinefell, and told the tidings these.
Flosi was little stirred at what had befallen them, but said, "No
one could tell whether things would stop there, for there is no
man like Kari of all that are now left in Iceland."
151. OF KARI AND BJORN AND THORGEIR
Now we must tell of Bjorn and Kari that they ride down on the
Sand, and lead their horses under the banks where the wild oats
grew, and cut the oats for them, that they might not die of
hunger. Kari made such a near guess, that he rode away thence at
the very time that they gave over seeking for him. He rode by
night up through the Hundred, and after that he took to the fell;
and so on all the same way as they had followed when they rode
east, and did not stop till they came at Midmark.
Then Bjorn said to Kari, "Now shalt thou be my great friend
before my mistress, for she will never believe one word of what I
say; but everything lies on what you do, so now repay me for the
good following which I have yielded to thee."
"So it shall be; never fear," says Kari.
After that they ride up to the homestead, and then the mistress
asked them what tidings, and greeted them well.
"Our troubles have rather grown greater, old lass!"
She answered little, and laughed; and then the mistress went on
to ask, "How did Bjorn behave to thee, Kari?"
"Bare is back," he answers, "without brother behind it, and Bjorn
behaved well to me. He wounded three men, and, besides, he is
wounded himself, and he stuck as close to me as he could in
They were three nights there, and after that they rode to Holt to
Thorgeir, and told him alone these tidings, for those tidings had
not yet been heard there.
Thorgeir thanked him, and it was quite plain that he was glad at
what he heard. He asked Kari what now was undone which he meant
"I mean," answers Kari, "to kill Gunnar Lambi's son and Kol
Thorstein's son, if I can get a chance. Then we have slain
fifteen men, reckoning those five whom we two slew together. But
one boon I will now ask of thee."
Thorgeir said he would grant him whatever he asked.
"I wish, then, that thou wilt take under thy safeguard this man
whose name is Bjorn, and who has been in these slayings with me,
and that thou wilt change farms with him, and give him a farm
ready stocked here close by thee, and so hold thy hand over him
that no-vengeance may befall him; but all this will be an easy
matter for thee who art such a chief."
"So it shall be," says Thorgeir.
Then he gave Bjorn a ready-stocked farm at Asolfskal, but he took
the farm in the Mark into his own hands. Thorgeir flitted all
Bjorn's household stuff and goods to Asolfskal, and all his live
stock; and Thorgeir settled all Bjorn's quarrels for him, and he
was reconciled to them with a full atonement. So Bjorn was
thought to be much more of a man than he had been before.
Then Kari rode away, and did not draw rein till he came west to
Tongue to Asgrim Ellidagrim's son. He gave Kari a most hearty
welcome, and Kari told him of all the tidings that had happened
in these slayings.
Asgrim was well pleased at them, and asked what Kari meant to do
"I mean," said Kari, "to fare abroad after them, and so dog their
footsteps and slay them, if I can get at them."
Asgrim said there was no man like him for bravery and hardihood.
He was there some nights, and after that he rode to Gizur the
White, and he took him by both hands. Kari stayed there somme
while, and then he told Gizur that he wished to ride down to
Gizur gave Kari a good sword at parting.
Now he rode down to Eyrar, and took him a passage with Kolbein
the Black; he was an Orkneyman and an old friend of Kari, and he
was the most forward and brisk of men.
He took Kari by both hands, and said that one fate should befall
both of them.
152. FLOSI GOES ABROAD
Now Flosi rides east to Hornfirth, and most of the men in his
Thing followed him, and bore his wares east, as well as all his
stores and baggage which he had to take with him.
After that they busked them for their voyage, and fitted out
Now Flosi stayed by the ship until they were "boun." But as soon
as ever they got a fair wind they put out to sea. They had it
long passage and hard weather.
Then they quite lost their reckoning, and sailed on and on, and
all at once three great waves broke over their ship, one after
the other. Then Flosi said they must be near some land, and that
this was a ground-swell. A great mist was on them, but the wind
rose so that a great gale overtook them, and they scarce knew
where they were before they were dashed on shore at dead of
night, and the men were saved, but the ship was dashed all to
pieces, and they could not save their goods.
Then they had to look for shelter and warmth for themselves, and
the day after they went up on a height. The weather was then
Flosi asked if any man knew this land, and there were two men of
their crew who had fared thither before, and said they were quite
sure they knew it, and, say they, "We are come to Hrossey in the
"Then we might have made a better landing," said Flosi, "for Grim
and Helgi, Njal's sons, whom I slew, were both of them of Earl
Sigurd Hlodver's son's bodyguard."
Then they sought for a hiding-place and spread moss over
themselves, and so lay for a while, but not for long, ere Flosi
spoke and said, "We will not lie here any longer until the
landsmen are ware of us."
Then they arose, and took counsel, and then Flosi said to his
men, "We will go all of us and give ourselves up to the earl; for
there is naught else to do, and the earl has our lives at his
pleasure if he chooses to seek for them."
Then they all went away thence, and Flosi said that they must
tell no man any tidings of their voyage, or what manner of men
they were, before he told them to the earl.
Then they walked on until they met men who showed them to the
town, and then they went in before the earl, and Flosi and all
the others hailed him.
The earl asked what men they might be, and Flosi told his name,
and said out of what part of Iceland he was.
The earl had already heard of the burning, and so be knew the men
at once, and then the earl asked Flosi, "What hast thou to tell
me about Helgi Njal's son, my henchman."
"This," said Flosi, "that I hewed off his head."
"Take them all," said the earl.
Then that was done, and just then in came Thorstein, son of Hall
of the Side. Flosi had to wife Steinvora, Thorstein's sister.
Thorstein was one of Earl Sigurd's bodyguard, but when be saw
Flosi seized and held, he went in before the earl, and offered
for Flosi all the goods he had.
The earl was very wroth a long time, but at last the end of it
was, by the prayer of good men and true, joined to those of
Thorstein, for he was well backed by friends, and many threw in
their word with his, that the earl took an atonement from them,
and gave Flosi and all the rest of them peace. The earl held to
that custom of mighty men that Flosi took that place in his
service which Helgi Njal's son had filled.
So Flosi was made Earl Sigurd's henchman, and he soon won his way
to great love with the earl.
153. KARI GOES ABROAD
Those messmates Kari and Kolbein the Black put out to sea from
Eyrar half a month later than Flosi and his companions from
They got a fine fair wind, and were but a short time out. The
first land they made was the Fair Isle, it lies between Shetland
and the Orkneys. There that man whose name was David the White
took Kari into his house, and he told him all that he had heard
for certain about the doings of the burners. He was one of
Kari's greatest friends, and Kari stayed with him for the winter.
There they heard tidings from the west out of the Orkneys of all
that was done there.
Earl Sigurd bade to his feast at Yule Earl Gilli, his brother-
in-law, out of the Southern isles; he had to wife Swanlauga, Earl
Sigurd's sister; and then, too, came to see Earl Sigurd that king
from Ireland whose name was Sigtrygg. He was a son of Olaf
Rattle, but his mother's name was Kormlada; she was the fairest
of all women, and best gifted in everything that was not in her
own power, but it was the talk of men that she did all things ill
over which she had any power.
Brian was the name of the king who first had her to wife, but
they were then parted. He was the best-natured of all kings. He
had his seat in Connaught, in Ireland; his brother's name was
Wolf the Quarrelsome, the greatest champion and warrior; Brian's
foster-child's name was Kerthialfad. He was the son of King
Kylfi, who had many wars with King Brian, and fled away out of
the land before him, and became a hermit; but when King Brian
went south on a pilgrimage, then he met King Kylfi, and then they
were atoned, and King Brian took his son Kerthialfad to him, and
loved him more than his own sons. He was then full grown when
these things happened, and was the boldest of all men.
Duncan was the name of the first of King Brian's sons; the second
was Margad; the third, Takt, whom we call Tann, he was the
youngest of them; but the elder sons of King Brian were full
grown, and the briskest of men.
Kormlada was not the mother of King Brian's children, and so grim
was she against King Brian after their parting, that she would
gladly have him dead.
King Brian thrice forgave all his outlaws the same fault, but if
they misbehaved themselves oftener, then he let them be judged by
the law; and from this one may mark what a king he must have
Kormlada egged on her son Sigtrygg very much to kill King Brian,
and she now sent him to Earl Sigurd to beg for help.
King Sigtrygg came before Yule to the Orkneys, and there, too,
came Earl Gilli, as was written before.
The men were so placed that King Sigtrygg sat in a high seat in
the middle, but on either side of the king sat one of the earls.
The men of King Sigtrygg and Earl Gilli sate on the inner side
away from him, but on the outer side away from Earl Sigurd, sate
Flosi and Thorstein, son of Hall of the Side, and the whole hall
Now King Sigtrygg and Earl Gilli wished to hear of these tidings
which had happened at the burning, and so, also, what had
Then Gunnar Lambi's son was got to tell the tale, and a stool was
set for him to sit upon.
154. GUNNAR LAMBI'S SON'S SLAYING
Just at that very time Kari and Kolbein and David the White came
to Hrossey unawares to all men. They went straightway up on
land, but a few men watched their ship.
Kari and his fellows went straight to the earl's homestead, and
came to the hall about drinking time.
It so happened that just then Gunnar was telling the story of the
burning, but they were listening to him meanwhile outside. This
was on Yule-day itself.
Now King Sigtrygg asked, "How did Skarphedinn bear the burning?"
"Well at first for a long time," said Gunnar, "but still the end
of it was that he wept." And so he went on giving an unfair
leaning in his story, but every now and then he laughed out loud.
Kari could not stand this, and then he ran in with his sword
drawn, and sang this song:
"Men of might, in battle eager,
Boast of burning Njal's abode,
Have the Princes heard how sturdy
Seahorse racers sought revenge?
Hath not since, on foemen holding
High the shield's broad orb aloft,
All that wrong been fully wroken?
Raw flesh ravens got to tear."
So he ran in up the hall, and smote Gunnar Lambi's son on the
neck with such a sharp blow, that his head spun off on to the
board before the king and the earls, and the board was all one
gore of blood, and the earl's clothing too.
Earl Sigurd knew the man that had done the deed, and called out,
"Seize Kari and kill him."
Kari had been one of Earl Sigurd's bodyguard, and he was of all
men most beloved by his friends; and no man stood up a whit more
for the earl's speech.
"Many would say, Lord," said Kari, "that I have done this deed on
your behalf, to avenge your henchman."
Then Flosi said, "Kari hath not done this without a cause; he is
in no atonement with us, and he only did what he had a right to
So Kari walked away, and there was no hue and cry after him.
Kari fared to his ship, and his fellows with him. The weather
was then good, and they sailed off at once south to Caithness,
and went on shore at Thraswick to the house of a worthy man whose
name was Skeggi, and with him they stayed a very long while.
Those behind in the Orkneys cleansed the board, and bore out the
The earl was told that they had set sail south for Scotland, and
King Sigtrygg said, "This was a mighty bold fellow, who dealt his
stroke so stoutly, and never thought twice about it!"
Then Earl Sigurd answered, "There is no man like Kari for dash
Now Flosi undertook to tell the story of the burning, and he was
fair to all; and therefore what he said was believed.
Then King Sigtrygg stirred in his business with Earl Sigurd, and
bade him go to the war with him against King Brian.
The earl was long steadfast, but the end of it was that he let
the king have his way, but said he must have his mother's hand
for his help, and be king in Ireland, if they slew Brian. But
all his men besought Earl Sigurd not to go into the war, but it
was all no good.
So they parted on the understanding that Earl Sigurd gave his
word to go; but King Sigtrygg promised him his mother and the
It was so settled that Earl Sigurd was to come with all his host
to Dublin by Palm Sunday.
Then King Sigtrygg fared south to Ireland, and told his mother
Kormlada that the earl had undertaken to come, and also what he
had pledged himself to grant him.
She showed herself well pleased at that, but said they must
gather greater force still.
Sigtrygg asked whence this was to be looked for?
She said there were two vikings lying off the west of Man; and
that they had thirty ships, and, she went on, "They are men of
such hardihood that nothing can withstand them. The one's name
is Ospak, and the other's Brodir. Thou shalt fare to find them,
and spare nothing to get them into thy quarrel, whatever price
Now King Sigtrygg fares and seeks the vikings, and found them
lying outside off Man; King Sigtrygg brings forward his errand at
once, but Brodir shrank from helping him until he, King Sigtrygg,
promised him the kingdom and his mother, and they were to keep
this such a secret that Earl Sigurd should know nothing about it;
Brodir too was to come to Dublin on Palm Sunday.
So King Sigtrygg fared home to his mother, and told her how
After that those brothers, Ospak and Brodir, talked together, and
then Brodir told Ospak all that he and Sigtrygg had spoken of,
and bade him fare to battle with him against King Brian, and said
he set much store on his going.
But Ospak said he would not fight against so good a king.
Then they were both wroth, and sundered their band at once.
Ospak had ten ships and Brodir twenty.
Ospak was a heathen, and the wisest of all men. He laid his
ships inside in a sound, but Brodir lay outside him.
Brodir had been a Christian man and a mass-deacon by
consecration, but he had thrown off his faith and become God's
dastard, and now worshipped heathen fiends, and he was of all men
most skilled in sorcery. He had that coat of mail on which no
steel would bite. He was both tall and strong, and had such long
locks that he tucked them under his belt. His hair was black.
155. OF SIGNS AND WONDERS
It so happened one night that a great din passed over Brodir and
his men, so that they all woke, and sprang up and put on their
Along with that came a shower of boiling blood.
Then they covered themselves with their shields, but for all that
many were scalded.
This wonder lasted all till day, and a man had died on board