“I have thought over the suit, and it will do so. Thou shalt ride from homewith two men at thy back. Over all thou shalt have a great rough cloak, and under that, a russet kirtle of cheap stuff, and under all, thy good clothes. Thou must take a small axe in thy hand, and each of you must have two horses, one fat, the other lean. Thou shalt carry hardware and smith’s work with thee hence, and ye must ride off early to-morrow morning, and when ye are come across Whitewater westwards, mind and slouch thy hat well over thy brows. Then men will ask who is this tall man, and thy mates shall say – ‘Here is Huckster Hedinn the Big, a man from Eyjafirth, who is going about with smith’s work for sale’. This Hedinn is ill-tempered and a chatterer – a fellow who thinks he alone knows everything. Very often he snatches back his wares, and flies at men if everything is not done as he wishes. So thou shalt ride west to Borgarfirth offering all sorts of wares for sale, and be sure often to cry off thy bargains, so that it will be noised abroad that Huckster Hedinn is the worst of men to deal with, and that no lies have been told of his bad behaviour. So thou shalt ride to Northwaterdale, and to Hrutfirth, and Laxriverdale, till thou comest to Hauskuldstede. There thou must stay a night, and sit in the lowest place, and hang thy head down. Hauskuld will tell them all not to meddle nor make with Huckster Hedinn, saying he is a rude unfriendly fellow. Next morning thou must be off early and go to the farm nearest Hrutstede. There thou must offer thy goods for sale, praising up all that is worst, and tinkering up the faults. The master of the house will pry about and find out the faults. Thou must snatch the wares away from him, and speak ill to him. He will say – ‘Twas not to be hoped that thou wouldst behave well to him, when thou behavest ill to every one else. Then thou shalt fly at him, though it is not thy wont, but mind and spare thy strength, that thou mayest not be found out. Then a man will be sent to Hrutstede to tell Hrut he had best come and part you. He will come at once and ask thee to his house, and thou must accept his offer. Thou shalt greet Hrut, and he will answer well. A place will be given thee on the lower bench over against Hrut’s high-seat. He will ask if thou art from the North, and thou shalt answer that thou art a man of Eyjafirth. He will go on to ask if there are very many famous men there. ‘Shabby fellows enough and to spare,’ thou must answer. ‘Dost thou know Reykiardale and the parts about?’ he will ask. To which thou must answer – ‘I know all Iceland by heart’.
“Are there any stout champions left in Reykiardale?’ he will ask. ‘Thieves and scoundrels,’ thou shalt answer. Then Hrut will smile and think it sport to listen. You two will go on to talk of the men in the Eastfirth Quarter, and thou must always find something to say against them. At last your talk will come to Rangrivervale, and then thou must say, there is small choice of men left in those parts since Fiddle Mord died. At the same time sing some stave to please Hrut, for I know thou art a skald. Hrut will ask what makes thee say there is never a man to come in Mord’s place; and then thou must answer, that he was so wise a man and so good a taker up of suits, that he never made a false step in upholding his leadership. He will ask – ‘Dost thou know how matters fared between me and him?’
“‘I know all about it,’ thou must reply, ‘he took thy wife from thee, and thou hadst not a word to say.’
“Then Hrut will ask – ‘Dost thou not think it was some disgrace to him when he could not get back his goods, though he set the suit on foot?’
“‘I can answer thee that well enough,’ thou must say, ‘Thou challengedst him to single combat; but he was old, and so his friends advised him not to fight with thee, and then they let the suit fall to the ground.’
“‘True enough,” Hrut will say. ‘I said so, and that passed for law among foolish men; but the suit might have been taken up again at another Thing if he had the heart.’
“‘I know all that,’ thou must say.
“Then he will ask – ‘Dost thou know anything about law?”
“‘Up in the North I am thought to know something about it,’ thou shalt say. ‘But still I should like thee to tell me how this suit should be taken up.’
“‘What suit dost thou mean?’ he will ask.
“‘A suit,’ thou must answer, ‘which does not concern me. I want to know how a man must set to work who wishes to get back Unna’s dower.’
“Then Hrut will say – ‘In this suit I must be summoned so that I can hear the summons, or I must be summoned here in my lawful house’.
“‘Recite the summons, then,’ thou must say, and I will say it after thee.’
“Then Hrut will summon himself; and mind and pay great heed to every word he says. After that Hrut will bid thee repeat the summons, and thou must do so, and say it all wrong, so that no more than every other word is right.
“Then Hrut will smile and not mistrust thee, but say that scarce a word is right. Thou must throw the blame on thy companions, and say they put thee out, and then thou must ask him to say the words first, word by word, and to let thee say the words after him. He will give thee leave, and summon himself in the suit, and thou shalt summon after him there and then, and this time say every word right. When it is done, ask Hrut if that were rightly summoned, and he will answer ‘there is no flaw to be found in it’. Then thou shalt say in a loud voice, so that thy companions may hear -
“‘I summon thee in the suit which Unna Mord’s daughter has made over to me with her plighted hand.’
“But when men are sound asleep, you shall rise and take your bridles and saddles, and tread softly, and go out of the house, and put your saddles on your fat horses in the fields, and so ride off on them, but leave the others behind you. You must ride up into the hills away from the home pastures and stay there three nights, for about so long will they seek you. After that ride home south, riding always by night and resting by day. As for us we will then ride this summer to the Thing, and help thee in thy suit.” So Gunnar thanked Njal, and first of all rode home.
Gunnar rode from home two nights afterwards, and two men with him; they rode along until they got on Bluewoodheath, and then men on horseback met them and asked who that tall man might be of whom so little was seen. But his companions said it was Huckster Hedinn. Then the others said a worse was not to be looked for behind, when such a man as he went before. Hedinn at once made as though he would have set upon them, but yet each went their way. So Gunnar went on doing everything as Njal had laid it down for him, and when he came to Hauskuldstede he stayed there the night, and thence he went down the dale till he came to the next farm to Hrutstede. There he offered his wares for sale, and Hedinn fell at once upon the farmer. This was told to Hrut, and he sent for Hedinn, and Hedinn went at once to see Hrut, and had a good welcome. Hrut seated him over against himself, and their talk went pretty much as Njal had guessed; but when they came to talk of Rangrivervale, and Hrut asked about the men there, Gunnar sung this stave -
Men in sooth are slow to find, -
So the people speak by stealth,
Often this hath reached my ears, -
All through Rangar’s rolling vales.
Still I trow that Fiddle Mord,
Tried his hand in fight of yore;
Sure was never gold-bestower,
Such a man for might and wit.
Then Hrut said, “Thou art a skald, Hedinn. But hast thou never heard how things went between me and Mord?” Then Hedinn sung another stave -
Once I ween I heard the rumour,
How the Lord of rings bereft thee;
From thine arms earth’s offspring tearing,
Trickful he and trustful thou.
Then the men, the buckler-bearers,
Begged the mighty gold-begetter,
Sharp sword oft of old he reddened,
Not to stand in strife with thee.
So they went on, till Hrut, in answer told him how the suit must be taken up, and recited the summons. Hedinn repeated it all wrong, and Hrut burst out laughing, and had no mistrust. Then he said, Hrut must summon once more, and Hrut did so. Then Hedinn repeated the summons a second time, and this time right, and called his companions to witness how he summoned Hrut in a suit which Unna Mord’s daughter had made over to him with her plighted hand. At night he went to sleep like other men, but as soon as ever Hrut was sound asleep, they took their clothes and arms, and went out and came to their horses, and rode off across the river, and so up along the bank by Hiardarholt till the dale broke off among the hills, and so there they are upon the fells between Laxriverdale and Hawkdale, having got to a spot where no one could find them unless he had fallen on them by chance.
Hauskuld wakes up that night at Hauskuldstede, and roused all his household, “I will tell you my dream,” he said. “I thought I saw a great bear go out of this house, and I knew at once this beast’s match was not to be found; two cubs followed him, wishing well to the bear, and they all made for Hrutstede, and went into the house there. After that I woke. Now I wish to ask if any of you saw aught about yon tall man.”
Then one man answered him – “I saw how a golden fringe and a bit of scarlet cloth peeped out at his arm, and on his right arm he had a ring of gold”.
Hauskuld said – “This beast is no man’s fetch, but Gunnar’s of Lithend, and now methinks I see all about it. Up! let us ride to Hrutstede.” And they did so. Hrut lay in his locked bed, and asks who have come there? Hauskuld tells who he is, and asked what guests might be there in the house.
“Only Huckster Hedinn is here,” says Hrut.
“A broader man across the back, it will be, I fear,” says Hauskuld, “I guess here must have been Gunnar of Lithend.”
“Then there has been a pretty trial of cunning,” says Hrut.
“What has happened?” says Hauskuld.
“I told him how to take up Unna’s suit, and I summoned myself and he summoned after, and now he can use this first step in the suit, and it is right in law.”
“There has, indeed, been a great falling off of wit on one side,” said Hauskuld, “and Gunnar cannot have planned it all by himself; Njal must be at the bottom of this plot, for there is not his match for wit in all the land.”
Now they look for Hedinn, but he is already off and away; after that they gathered folk, and looked for them three days, but could not find them. Gunnar rode south from the fell to Hawkdale and so east of Skard, and north to Holtbeaconheath, and so on until he got home.
Gunnar and Hrut strive at the thing
Gunnar rode to the Althing, and Hrut and Hauskuld rode thither too with a very great company. Gunnar pursues his suit, and began by calling on his neighbours to bear witness, but Hrut and his brother had it in their minds to make an onslaught on him, but they mistrusted their strength.
Gunnar next went to the court of the men of Broadfirth, and bade Hrut listen to his oath and declaration of the cause of the suit, and to all the proofs which he was about to bring forward. After that he took his oath, and declared his case. After that he brought forward his witnesses of the summons, along with his witnesses that the suit had been handed over to him. All this time Njal was not at the court. Now Gunnar pursued his suit till he called on the defendant to reply. Then Hrut took witness, and said the suit was naught, and that there was a flaw in the pleading; he declared that it had broken down because Gunnar had failed to call those three witnesses which ought to have been brought before the court. The first, that which was taken before the marriage-bed, the second, before the man’s door, the third, at the Hill of Laws. By this time Njal was come to the court and said the suit and pleading might still he kept alive if they chose to strive in that way.
“No,” says Gunnar, “I will not have that; I will do the same to Hrut as he did to Mord my kinsman; – or, are those brothers Hrut and Hauskuld so near that they may hear my voice?”
“Hear it we can,” says Hrut. “What dost thou wish?”
Gunnar said – “Now all men here present be ear-witnesses, that I challenge thee Hrut to single combat, and we shall fight to-day on the holm, which is here in Axewater. But if thou wilt not fight with me, then pay up all the money this very day.”
After that Gunnar sung a stave -
Yes, so must it be, this morning -
Now my mind is full of fire -
Hrut with me on yonder island
Raises roar of helm and shield.
All that hear my words bear witness,
Warriors grasping Woden’s guard,
Unless the wealthy wight down payeth
Dower of wife with flowing veil.
After that Gunnar went away from the court with all his followers. Hrut and Hauskuld went home too, and the suit was never pursued nor defended from that day forth. Hrut said, as soon as he got inside the booth, “This has never happened to me before, that any man has offered me combat and I have shunned it”.
“Then thou must mean to fight,” says Hauskuld, “but that shall not be if I have my way; for thou comest no nearer to Gunnar than Mord would have come to thee, and we had better both of us pay up the money to Gunnar.”
After that the brothers asked the householders of their own country what they would lay down, and they one and all said they would lay down as much as Hrut wished.
“Let us go then,” says Hauskuld, “to Gunner’s booth, and pay down the money out of hand.” That was told to Gunnar, and he went out into the doorway of the booth, and Hauskuld said -
“Now it is thine to take the money.”
Gunnar said -
“Pay it down, then, for I am ready to take it.”
So they paid down the money truly out of hand, and then Hauskuld said – “Enjoy it now, as thou hast gotten it”. Then Gunnar sang another stave -
Men who wield the blade of battle
Hoarded wealth may well enjoy,
Guileless gotten this at least,
Golden meed I fearless take;
But if we for woman’s quarrel,
Warriors born to brandish sword,
Glut the wolf with manly gore,
Worse the lot of both would be.
Hrut answered – “Ill will be thy meed for this”.
“Be that as it may,” says Gunnar.
Then Hauskuld and his brother went home to their booth, and he had much upon his mind, and said to Hrut -
“Will this unfairness of Gunnar’s never be avenged?”
“Not so,” says Hrut; “’twill be avenged on him sure enough, but we shall have no share nor profit in that vengeance. And after all it is most likely that he will turn to our stock to seek for friends.”
After that they left off speaking of the matter. Gunnar showed Njal the money, and he said – “The suit has gone off well”.
“Ay,” says Gunnar, “but it was all thy doing.”
Now men rode home from the Thing, and Gunnar got very great honour from the suit. Gunnar handed over all the money to Unna, and would have none of it, but said he thought he ought to look for more help from her and her kin hereafter than from other men. She said, so it should be.
Unna’s second wedding
There was a man named Valgard, he kept house at Hof by Rangriver, he was the son of Jorund the Priest, and his brother was Wolf Aurpriest. Those brothers. Wolf Aurpriest, and Valgard the guileful, set off to woo Unna, and she gave herself away to Valgard without the advice of any of her kinsfolk. But Gunnar and Njal, and many others thought ill of that, for he was a cross-grained man and had few friends. They begot between them a son, whose name was Mord, and he is long in this story. When he was grown to man’s estate, he worked ill to his kinsfolk, but worst of all to Gunnar. He was a crafty man in his temper, but spiteful in his counsels.
Now we will name Njal’s sons. Skarphedinn was the eldest of them. He was a tall man in growth and strong withal; a good swordsman; he could swim like a seal, the swiftest-footed of men, and bold and dauntless; he had a great flow of words and quick utterance; a good skald too; but still for the most part he kept himself well in hand; his hair was dark brown, with crisp curly locks; he had good eyes; his features were sharp, and his face ashen pale, his nose turned up and his front teeth stuck out, and his mouth was very ugly. Still he was the most soldier-like of men.
Grim was the name of Njal’s second son. He was fair of face and wore his hair long. His hair was dark, and he was comelier to look on than Skarphedinn. A tall strong man.
Helgi was the name of Njal’s third son. He too was fair of face and had fine hair. He was a strong man and well-skilled in arms. He was a man of sense and knew well how to behave. They were all unwedded at that time, Njal’s sons.
Hauskuld was the fourth of Njal’s sons. He was base-born. His mother was Rodny, and she was Hauskuld’s daughter, the sister of Ingialld of the Springs.
Njal asked Skarphedinn one day if he would take to himself a wife. He bade his father settle the matter. Then Njal asked for his hand Thorhilda, the daughter of Ranvir of Thorolfsfell, and that was why they had another homestead there after that. Skarphedinn got Thorhilda, but he stayed still with his father to the end. Grim wooed Astrid of Deepback; she was a widow and very wealthy. Grim got her to wife, and yet lived on with Njal.
Of Asgrim and his children
There was a man named Asgrim. He was Ellidagrim’s son. The brother of Asgrim Ellidagrim’s son was Sigfus.
Asgrim had two sons, and both of them were named Thorhall. They were both hopeful men. Grim was the name of another of Asgrim’s sons, and Thorhalla was his daughter’s name. She was the fairest of women, and well behaved.
Njal came to talk with his son Helgi, and said, “I have thought of a match for thee, if thou wilt follow my advice”.
“That I will surely,” says he, “for I know that thou both meanest me well, and canst do well for me; but whither hast thou turned thine eyes?”
“We will go and woo Asgrim Ellidagrim’s son’s daughter, for that is the best choice we can make.”
Helgi Njal’s son’s wooing
A little after they rode out across Thurso water, and fared till they came into Tongue. Asgrim was at home, and gave them a hearty welcome; and they were there that night. Next morning they began to talk, and then Njal raised the question of the wooing, and asked for Thorhalla for his son Helgi’s hand. Asgrim answered that well, and said there were no men with whom he would be more willing to make this bargain than with them. They fell a-talking then about terms, and the end of it was that Asgrim betrothed his daughter to Helgi, and the bridal day was named. Gunnar was at that feast, and many other of the best men. After the feast Njal offered to foster in his house Thorhall, Asgrim’s son, and he was with Njal long after. He loved Njal more than his own father. Njal taught him law, so that he became the greatest lawyer in Iceland in those days.
Hallvard comes out to Iceland
There came a ship out from Norway, and ran into Arnbæl’s Oyce,ö and the master of the ship was Hallvard, the white, a man from the Bay.ö He went to stay at Lithend, and was with Gunnar that winter, and was always asking him to fare abroad with him. Gunnar spoke little about it, but yet said more unlikely things might happen; and about spring he went over to Bergthorsknoll to find out from Njal whether he thought it a wise step in him to go abroad.
“I think it is wise,” says Njal; “they will think thee there an honourable man, as thou art.”
“Wilt thou perhaps take my goods into thy keeping while I am away, for I wish my brother Kolskegg to fare with me; but I would that thou shouldst see after my household along with my mother.”
“I will not throw anything in the way of that,” says Njal; “lean on me in this thing as much as thou likest.”
“Good go with thee for thy words,” says Gunnar, and he rides then home.
The Easterling [the Norseman Hallvard] fell again to talk with Gunnar that he should fare abroad. Gunnar asked if he had ever sailed to other lands? He said he had sailed to every one of them that lay between Norway and Russia, and so, too, I have sailed to Biarmaland.ö
“Wilt thou sail with me eastward ho?” says Gunnar.
“That I will of a surety,” says he.
Then Gunnar made up his mind to sail abroad with him. Njal took all Gunnar’s goods into his keeping.
Gunnar goes abroad
So Gunnar fared abroad, and Kolskegg with him. They sailed first to Tönsberg,ö and were there that winter. There had then been a shift of rulers in Norway, Harold Grayfell was then dead, and so was Gunnhillda. Earl Hacon the Bad, Sigurd’s son, Hacon’s son, Gritgarth’s son, then ruled the realm. The mother of Hacon was Bergliot, the daughter of Earl Thorir. Her mother was Olof harvest-heal. She was Harold Fair-hair’s daughter.
Hallvard asks Gunnar if he would make up his mind to go to Earl Hacon?
“No; I will not do that,” says Gunnar. “Hast thou ever a long-ship?”
“I have two,” he says.
“Then I would that we two went on warfare; and let us get men to go with us.”
“I will do that,” says Hallvard.
After that they went to the Bay, and took with them two ships, and fitted them out thence. They had good choice of men, for much praise was said of Gunnar.
“Whither wilt thou first fare?” says Gunnar.
“I wish to go south-east to Hisingen, to see my kinsman Oliver,” says Hallvard.
“What dost thou want of him?” says Gunnar.
He answered – “He is a fine brave fellow, and he will be sure to get us some more strength for our voyage”.
“Then let us go thither,” says Gunnar.
So, as soon as they were “boun,” they held on east to Hisingen, and had there a hearty welcome. Gunnar had only been there a short time ere Oliver made much of him. Oliver asks about his voyage, and Hallvard says that Gunnar wishes to go a-warfaring to gather goods for himself.
“There’s no use thinking of that,” says Oliver, “when ye have no force.”
“Well,” says Hallvard, “then you may add to it.”
“So I do mean to strengthen Gunnar somewhat,” says Oliver; “and though thou reckonest thyself my kith and kin, I think there is more good in him.”
“What force, now, wilt thou add to ours?” he asks.
“Two long-ships, one with twenty, and the other with thirty seats for rowers.”
“Who shall man them?” asks Hallvard.
“I will man one of them with my own house-carles, and the freemen around shall man the other. But still I have found out that strife has come into the river, and I know not whether ye two will be able to get away; for they are in the river.”
“Who?” says Hallvard.
“Brothers twain,” says Oliver; “one’s name is Vandil and the other’s Karli, sons of Sjolf the Old, east away out of Gothland.”
Hallvard told Gunnar that Oliver had added some ships to theirs, and Gunnar was glad at that. They busked them for their voyage thence, till they were “all-boun”. Then Gunnar and Hallvard went before Oliver, and thanked him; he bade them fare warily for the sake of those brothers.
Gunnar goes a-sea-roving
So Gunnar held on out of the river, and he and Kolskegg were both on board one ship. But Hallvard was on board another. Now, they see the ships before them, and then Gunnar spoke, and said -
“Let us be ready for anything if they turn towards us! but else let us have nothing to do with them.”
So they did that, and made all ready on board their ships. The others patted their ships asunder, and made a fareway between the ships. Gunnar fared straight on between the ships, but Vandil caught up a grappling-iron, and cast it between their ships and Gunnar’s ship, and began at once to drag it towards him.
Oliver had given Gunnar a good sword; Gunnar now drew it, and had not yet put on his helm. He leapt at once on the forecastle of Vandil’s ship, and gave one man his death-blow. Karli ran his ship alongside the other side of Gunnar’s ship, and hurled a spear athwart the deck, and aimed at him about the waist. Gunnar sees this, and turned him about so quickly, that no eye could follow him, and caught the spear with his left hand, and hurled it back at Karli’s ship, and that man got his death who stood before it. Kolskegg snatched up a grapnel and casts it at Karli’s ship, and the fluke fell inside the hold, and went out through one of the planks, and in rushed the coal-blue sea, and all the men sprang on board other ships.
Now Gunnar leapt back to his own ship, and then Hallvard came up, and now a great battle arose. They saw now that their leader was unflinching, and every man did as well as he could. Sometimes Gunnar smote with the sword, and sometimes he hurled the spear, and many a man had his bane at his hand. Kolskegg backed him well. As for Karli, he hastened in a ship to his brother Vandil, and thence they fought that day. During the day Kolskegg took a rest on Gunnar’s ship, and Gunnar sees that. Then he sung a song -
For the eagle ravine-eager,
Raven of my race, to-day
Better surely hast thou catered,
Lord of gold, than for thyself;
Here the morn come greedy ravens,
Many a rill of wolfö to sup,
But thee burning thirst down-beareth,
Prince of battle’s Parliament!
After that Kolskegg took a beaker full of mead, and drank it off and went on fighting afterwards; and so it came about that those brothers sprang up on the ship of Vandil and his brother, and Kolskegg went on one side, and Gunnar on the other. Against Gunnar came Vandil, and smote at once at him with his sword, and the blow fell on his shield. Gunnar gave the shield a twist as the sword pierced it, and broke it short off at the hilt. Then Gunnar smote back at Vandil, and three swords seemed to be aloft, and Vandil could not see how to shun the blow. Then Gunnar cut both his legs from under him, and at the same time Kolskegg ran Karli through with a spear. After that they took great war spoil.
Thence they held on south to Denmark, and thence east to Smoland,ö and had victory wherever they went. They did not come back in autumn. The next summer they held on to Reval, and fell in there with sea-rovers, and fought at once, and won the fight. After that they steered east to Osel,ö and lay there somewhile under a ness. There they saw a man coming down from the ness above them; Gunnar went on shore to meet the man, and they had a talk. Gunnar asked him his name, and he said it was Tofi. Gunnar asked again what he wanted.
“Thee I want to see,” says the man. “Two warships lie on the other side under the ness, and I will tell thee who command them: two brothers are the captains – one’s name is Hallgrim, and the other’s Kolskegg. I know them to be mighty men of war; and I know too that they have such good weapons that the like are not to be had. Hallgrim has a bill which he had made by seething-spells; and this is what the spells say, that no weapon shall give him his death-blow save that bill. That thing follows it too that it is known at once when a man is to be slain with that bill, for something sings in it so loudly that it may be heard a long way off – such a strong nature has that bill in it.”
Then Gunnar sang a song -
Soon shall I that spearhead seize,
And the bold sea-rover slay,
Him whose blows on headpiece ring,
Heaper up of piles of dead.
Then on Endil’s courserö bounding,
O’er the sea-depths I will ride,
While the wretch who spells abuseth,
Life shall lose in Sigar’s storm.ö
“Kolskegg has a short sword; that is also the best of weapons. Force, too, they have – a third more than ye. They have also much goods, and have stowed them away on land, and I know clearly where they are. But they have sent a spy-ship off the ness, and they know all about you. Now they are getting themselves ready as fast as they can; and as soon as they are ‘boun,’ they mean to run out against you. Now you have either to row away at once, or to busk yourselves as quickly as ye can; but if ye win the day, then I will lead you to all their store of goods.”
Gunnar gave him a golden finger-ring, and went afterwards to his men and told them that war-ships lay on the other side of the ness, “and they know all about us; so let us take to our arms, and busk us well, for now there is gain to be got”.
Then they busked them; and just when they were boun they see ships coming up to them. And now a fight sprung up between them, and they fought long, and many men fell. Gunnar slew many a man. Hallgrim and his men leapt on board Gunnar’s ship, Gunnar turns to meet him, and Hallgrim thrust at him with his bill. There was a boom athwart the ship, and Gunnar leapt nimbly back over it, Gunnar’s shield was just before the boom, and Hallgrim thrust his bill into it, and through it, and so on into the boom. Gunnar cut at Hallgrim’s arm hard, and lamed the forearm, but the sword would not bite. Then down fell the bill, and Gunnar seized the bill, and thrust Hallgrim through, and then sang a song -
Slain is he who spoiled the people,
Lashing them with flashing steel:
Heard have I how Hallgrim’s magic
Helm-rod forged in foreign land;
All men know, of heart-strings doughty,
How this bill hath come to me,
Deft in fight, the wolf’s dear feeder.
Death alone us two shall part.
And that vow Gunnar kept, in that he bore the bill while he lived. Those namesakes [the two Kolskeggs] fought together, and it was a near thing which would get the better of it. Then Gunnar came up, and gave the other Kolskegg his death-blow. After that the sea-rovers begged for mercy. Gunnar let them have that choice, and he let them also count the slain, and take the goods which the dead men owned, but he gave the others whom he spared their arms and their clothing, and bade them be off to the lands that fostered them. So they went off and Gunnar took all the goods that were left behind.
Tofi came to Gunnar after the battle, and offered to lead him to that store of goods which the sea-rovers had stowed away, and said that it was both better and larger than that which they had already got.
Gunnar said he was willing to go, and so he went ashore, and Tofi before him, to a wood, and Gunnar behind him. They came to a place where a great heap of wood was piled together. Tofi says the goods were under there, then they tossed off the wood, and found under it both gold and silver, clothes and good weapons. They bore those goods to the ships, and Gunnar asks Tofi in what way he wished him to repay him.
Tofi answered, “I am a Dansk man by race, and I wish thou wouldst bring me to my kinsfolk”.
Gunnar asks why he was there away east?
“I was taken by sea-rovers,” says Tofi, “and they put me on land here in Osel, and here I have been ever since.”
Gunnar goes to king Harold Gorm’s son and Earl Hacon
Gunnar took Tofi on board, and said to Kolskegg and Hallvard, “Now we will hold our course for the north lands”.
They were well pleased at that, and bade him have his way. So Gunnar sailed from the east with much goods. He had ten ships, and ran in with them to Heidarby in Denmark. King Harold Gorm’s son was there up the country, and he was told about Gunnar, and how too that there was no man his match in all Iceland. He sent men to him to ask him to come to him, and Gunnar went at once to see the king, and the king made him a hearty welcome, and sat him down next to himself. Gunnar was there half a month. The king made himself sport by letting Gunnar prove himself in divers feats of strength against his men, and there were none that were his match even in one feat.
Then the king said to Gunnar, “It seems to me as though thy peer is not to be found far or near,” and the king offered to get Gunnar a wife, and to raise him to great power if he would settle down there.
Gunnar thanked the king for his offer and said – “I will first of all sail back to Iceland to see my friends and kinsfolk”.
“Then thou wilt never come back to us,” says the king.
“Fate will settle that, lord,” says Gunnar.
Gunnar gave the king a good long-ship, and much goods besides, and the king gave him a robe of honour, and golden-seamed gloves, and a fillet with a knot of gold on it, and a Russian hat.
Then Gunnar fared north to Hisingen. Oliver welcomed him with both hands, and he gave back to Oliver his ships, with their lading, and said that was his share of the spoil. Oliver took the goods, and said Gunnar was a good man and true, and bade him stay with him some while. Hallvard asked Gunnar if he had a mind to go to see Earl Hacon. Gunnar said that was near his heart, “for now I am somewhat proved, but then I was not tried at all when thou badest me do this before”.
After that they fared north to Drontheim to see Earl Hacon, and he gave Gunnar a hearty welcome, and bade him stay with him that winter, and Gunnar took that offer, and every man thought him a man of great worth. At Yule the Earl gave him a gold ring.
Gunnar set his heart on Bergliota, the Earl’s kinswoman, and it was often to be seen from the Earl’s way, that he would have given her to him to wife if Gunnar had said anything about that.
Gunnar comes out to Iceland
When the spring came, the Earl asks Gunnar what course he meant to take. He said he would go to Iceland. The Earl said that had been a bad year for grain, “and there will be little sailing out to Iceland, but still thou shalt have meal and timber both in thy ship”.
Gunnar fitted out his ship as early as he could, and Hallvard fared out with him and Kolskegg. They came out early in the summer, and made Arnbæl’s Oyce before the Thing met.
Gunnar rode home from the ship, but got men to strip her and lay her up. But when they came home all men were glad to see them. They were blithe and merry to their household, nor had their haughtiness grown while they were away.
Gunnar asks if Njal were at home; and he was told that he was at home; then he let them saddle his horse, and those brothers rode over to Bergthorsknoll.
Njal was glad at their coming, and begged them to stay there that night, and Gunnar told him of his voyages.
Njal said he was a man of the greatest mark, “and thou hast been much proved; but still thou wilt be more tried hereafter; for many will envy thee”.
“With all men I would wish to stand well,” says Gunnar.
“Much bad will happen,” says Njal, “and thou wilt always have some quarrel to ward off.”
“So be it, then,” says Gunnar, “so that I have a good ground on my side.”
“So will it be too,” says Njal, “if thou hast not to smart for others.”
Njal asked Gunnar if he would ride to the Thing. Gunnar said he was going to ride thither, and asks Njal whether he were going to ride; but he said he would not ride thither, “and if I had my will thou wouldst do the like”.
Gunnar rode home, and gave Njal good gifts, and thanked him for the care he had taken of his goods, Kolskegg urged him on much to ride to the Thing, saying, “There thy honour will grow, for many will flock to see thee there”.
“That has been little to my mind,” says Gunnar, “to make a show of myself; but I think it good and right to meet good and worthy men.”
Hallvard by this time was also come thither, and offered to ride to the Thing with them.
So Gunnar rode, and they all rode. But when they came to the Thing they were so well arrayed that none could match them in bravery; and men came out of every booth to wonder at them. Gunnar rode to the booths of the men of Rangriver, and was there with his kinsmen. Many men came to see Gunnar, and ask tidings of him; and he was easy and merry to all men, and told them all they wished to hear.
It happened one day that Gunnar went away from the Hill of Laws, and passed by the booths of the men from Mossfell; then he saw a woman coming to meet him, and she was in goodly attire; but when they met she spoke to Gunnar at once. He took her greeting well, and asks what woman she might be. She told him her name was Hallgerda, and said she was Hauskuld’s daughter, Dalakoll’s son. She spoke up boldly to him, and bade him tell her of his voyages; but he said he would not gainsay her a talk. Then they sat them down and talked. She was so clad that she had on a red kirtle, and had thrown over her a scarlet cloak trimmed with needlework down to the waist. Her hair came down to her bosom, and was both fair and full. Gunnar was clad in the scarlet clothes which King Harold Gorm’s son had given him; he had also the gold ring on his arm which Earl Hacon had given him.
So they talked long out loud, and at last it came about that he asked whether she were unmarried. She said, so it was, “and there are not many who would run the risk of that”.
“Thinkest thou none good enough for thee?”
“Not that,” she says, “but I am said to be hard to please in husbands.”
“How wouldst thou answer were I to ask for thee?”
“That can not be in thy mind,” she says.
“It is though,” says he.
“If thou hast any mind that way, go and see my father.”
After that they broke off their talk.
Gunnar went straightway to the Dalesmen’s booths, and met a man outside the doorway, and asks whether Hauskuld were inside the booth?
The man says that he was. Then Gunnar went in, and Hauskuld and Hrut made him welcome. He sat down between them, and no one could find out from their talk that there had ever been any misunderstanding between them. At last Gunnar’s speech turned thither; how these brothers would answer if he asked for Hallgerda?
“Well,” says Hauskuld, “if that is indeed thy mind.”
Gunnar says that he is in earnest, “but we so parted last time, that many would think it unlikely that we should ever be bound together”.
“How thinkest thou, kinsman Hrut?” says Hauskuld.
Hrut answered, “Methinks this is no even match”.
“How dost thou make that out?” says Gunnar.
Hrut spoke – “In this wise will I answer thee about this matter, as is the very truth. Thou art a brisk brave man, well to do, and unblemished; but she is much mixed up with ill report, and I will not cheat thee in anything.”
“Good go with thee for thy words,” says Gunnar, “but still I shall hold that for true, that the old feud weighs with ye, if ye will not let me make this match.”
“Not so,” says Hrut, “’tis more because I see that thou art unable to help thyself; but though we make no bargain, we would still be thy friends.”
“I have talked to her about it,” says Gunnar, “and it is not far from her mind.”
Hrut says – “I know that you have both set your hearts on this match; and, besides, ye two are those who run the most risk as to how it turns out”.
Hrut told Gunnar unasked all about Hallgerda’s temper, and Gunnar at first thought that there was more than enough that was wanting; but at last it came about that they struck a bargain.
Then Hallgerda was sent for, and they talked over the business when she was by, and now, as before, they made her betroth herself. The bridal feast was to be at Lithend, and at first they were to set about it secretly; but the end after all was that every one knew of it.
Gunnar rode home from the Thing, and came to Bergthorsknoll, and told Njal of the bargain he had made. He took it heavily.
Gunnar asks Njal why he thought this so unwise?
“Because from her,” says Njal, “will arise all kind of ill if she comes hither east.”
“Never shall she spoil our friendship,” says Gunnar.
“Ah! but yet that may come very near,” says Njal; “and, besides, thou wilt have always to make atonement for her.”
Gunnar asked Njal to the wedding, and all those as well whom he wished should be at it from Njal’s house.
Njal promised to go; and after that Gunnar rode home, and then rode about the district to bid men to his wedding.
Of Thrain Sigfus’ son
There was a man named Thrain, he was the son of Sigfus, the son of Sighvat the Red. He kept house at Gritwater on Fleetlithe. He was Gunnar’s kinsman, and a man of great mark. He had to wife Thorhilda Skaldwife; she had a sharp tongue of her own, and was giving to jeering. Thrain loved her little. He and his wife were bidden to the wedding, and she and Bergthora, Skarphedinn’s daughter, Njal’s wife, waited on the guests with meat and drink.
Kettle was the name of the second son of Sigfus; he kept house in the Mark, east of Markfleet. He had to wife Thorgerda, Njal’s daughter. Thorkell was the name of the third son of Sigfus; the fourth’s name was Mord; the fifth’s Lambi; the sixth’s Sigmund; the seventh’s Sigurd. These were all Gunnar’s kinsmen, and great champions. Gunnar bade them all to the wedding.
Gunnar had also bidden Valgard the guileful, and Wolf Aurpriest, and their sons Runolf and Mord.
Hauskuld and Hrut came to the wedding with a very great company, and the sons of Hauskuld, Torleik, and Olof, were there; the bride, too, came along with them, and her daughter Thorgerda came also, and she was one of the fairest of women; she was then fourteen winters old. Many other women were with her, and besides there were Thorkatla Asgrim Ellidagrim’s son’s daughter, and Njal’s two daughters, Thorgerda and Helga.
Gunnar had already many guests to meet them, and he thus arranged his men. He sat on the middle of the bench, and on the inside, away from him, Thrain Sigfus’ son, then Wolf Aurpriest, then Valgard the guileful, then Mord and Runolf, then the other sons of Sigfus, Lambi sat outermost of them.
Next to Gunnar on the outside, away from him, sat Njal, then Skarphedinn, then Helgi, then Grim, then Hauskuld Njal’s son, then Hafr the Wise, then Ingialld from the Springs, then the sons of Thorir from Holt away east. Thorir would sit outermost of the men of mark, for every one was pleased with the seat he got.
Hauskuld, the bride’s father, sat on the middle of the bench over against Gunnar, but his sons sat on the inside away from him; Hrut sat on the outside away from Hauskuld, but it is not said how the others were placed. The bride sat in the middle of the cross-bench on the dais; but on one hand of her sat her daughter Thorgerda, and on the other Thorkatla Asgrim Ellidagrim’s son’s daughter.
Thorhillda went about waiting on the guests, and Bergthora bore the meat on the board.
Now Thrain Sigfus’ son kept staring at Thorgerda Glum’s daughter; his wife Thorhillda saw this, and she got wroth, and made a couplet upon him.
“Thrain,” she says,
“Gaping mouths are no wise good,
Goggle eyne are in thy head,”
He rose at once up from the board, and said he would put Thorhillda away, “I will not bear her jibes and jeers any longer;” and he was so quarrelsome about this, that he would not be at the feast unless she were driven away. And so it was, that she went away; and now each man sat in his place, and they drank and were glad.
Then Thrain began to speak – “I will not whisper about that which is in my mind. This I will ask thee, Hauskuld Dalakoll’s son, wilt thou give me to wife Thorgerda, thy kinswoman?”
“I do not know that,” says Hauskuld; “methinks thou art ill parted from the one thou hadst before. But what kind of man is he, Gunnar?”
Gunnar answers – “I will not say aught about the man, because he is near of kin; but say thou about him, Njal,” says Gunnar, “for all men will believe it”.
Njal spoke, and said – “That is to be said of this man, that the man is well to do for wealth, and a proper man in all things. A man, too, of the greatest mark; so that ye may well make this match with him.”
Then Hauskuld spoke – “What thinkest thou we ought to do, kinsman Hrut?”
“Thou mayst make the match, because it is an even one for her,” says Hrut.
Then they talk about the terms of the bargain, and are soon of one mind on all points.
Then Gunnar stands up, and Thrain too, and they go to the cross-bench. Gunnar asked that mother and daughter whether they would say yes to this bargain. They said they would find no fault with it, and Hallgerda betrothed her daughter. Then the places of the women were shifted again, and now Thorhalla sate between the brides. And now the feast sped on well, and when it was over, Hauskuld and his company ride west, but the men of Rangriver rode to their own abode. Gunnar gave many men gifts, and that made him much liked.
Hallgerda took the housekeeping under her, and stood up for her rights in word and deed. Thorgerda took to housekeeping at Gritwater, and was a good housewife.
The visit to Bergthorsknoll
Now it was the custom between Gunnar and Njal, that each made the other a feast, winter and winter about, for friendship’s sake; and it was Gunnar’s turn to go to feast at Njal’s. So Gunnar and Hallgerda set off for Bergthorsknoll, and when they got there Helgi and his wife were not at home. Njal gave Gunnar and his wife a hearty welcome, and when they had been there a little while, Helgi came home with Thorhalla his wife. Then Bergthora went up to the cross-bench, and Thorhalla with her, and Bergthora said to Hallgerda -
“Thou shalt give place to this woman.”
She answered – “To no one will I give place, for I will not be driven into the corner for any one”.
“I shall rule here,” said Bergthora, After that Thorhalla sat down, and Bergthora went round the table with water to wash the guests’ hands. Then Hallgerda took hold of Bergthora’s hand, and said -
“There’s not much to choose, though, between you two. Thou hast hangnails on every finger, and Njal is beardless.”
“That’s true,” says Bergthora, “yet neither of us finds fault with the other for it; but Thorwald, thy husband, was not beardless, and yet thou plottedst his death.”
Then Hallgerda said – “It stands me in little stead to have the bravest man in Iceland if thou dost not avenge this, Gunnar!”
He sprang up and strode across away from the board, and said – “Home I will go, and it were more seemly that thou shouldest wrangle with those of thine own household, and not under other men’s roofs; but as for Njal, I am his debtor for much honour, and never will I be egged on by thee like a fool”.
After that they set off home.
“Mind this, Bergthora,” said Hallgerda, “that we shall meet again.”
Bergthora said she should not be better off for that. Gunnar said nothing at all, but went home to Lithend, and was there at home all the winter. And now the summer was running on towards the Great Thing.