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Medieval and Classical Library

The Story of Burnt Njal
(Njal's Saga)

Part 11: Sections 147 - 158

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #11


Thorgeir Craggeir rode home from the peace meeting, and Kari
asked whether the atonement had come about.  Thorgeir said that
they now fully atoned.

Then Kari took his horse and was for riding away.

"Thou hast no need to ride away," says Thorgeir, "for it was laid
down in our atonement that thou shouldst be here as before if
thou chosest."

"It shall not be so, cousin, for as soon as ever I slay a man
they will be sure to say that thou wert in the plot with me, and
I will not have that!  But I wish this, that thou wouldst let me
hand over in trust to thee my goods, and the estates of me and my
wife Helga Njal's daughter, and my three daughters, and then they
will not be seized by those adversaries of mine."

Thorgeir agreed to what Kari wished to ask of him, and then
Thorgeir had Kari's goods handed over to him in trust.

After that Kari rode away.  He had two horses and his weapons and
outer clothing, and some ready money in gold and silver.

Now Kari rode west by Selialandsmull and up along Markfleet, and
so on up into Thorsmark.  There there are three farms all called
"Mark."  At the midmost farm dwelt that man whose name was Bjorn,
and his surname was Bjorn the White; he was the son of Kadal, the
son of Bjalfi.  Bjalfi had been the freedman of Asgerda, the
mother of Njal and Holt-Thorir; Bjorn had to wife Valgerda, she
was the daughter of Thorbrand, the son of Asbrand.  Her mother's
name was Gudlauga, she was a sister of Hamond, the father of
Gunnar of Lithend; she was given away to Bjorn for his money's
sake, and she did not love him much, but yet they had children
together, and they had enough and to spare in the house.

Bjorn was a man who was always boasting and praising himself, but
his housewife thought that bad.  He was sharpsighted and swift of

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.


Now Flosi spoke to the burners, his companions, "It will no
longer serve our turn to sit still, for now we shall have to
think of our going abroad and of our fines, and of fulfilling our
atonement as bravely as we can, and let us take a passage
wherever it seems most likely to get one."

They bade him see to all that.  Then Flosi said, "We will ride
east to Hornfirth; for there that ship is laid up, which is owned
by Eyjolf Nosy, a man from Drontheim, but he wants to take to him
a wife here, and he will not get the match made unless he settles
himself down here.  We will buy the ship of him, for we shall
have many men and little freight.  The ship is big and will take
us all."

Then they ceased talking of it.

But a little after they rode east, and did not stop before they
came east to Bjornness in Homfirth, and there they found Eyjolf,
for he had been there as a guest that winter.

There Flosi and his men had a hearty welcome, and they were there
the night.  Next morning Flosi dealt with the captain for the
ship, but he said he would not be hard to sell the ship if he
could get what he wanted for her.  Flosi asked him in what coin
he wished to be paid for her; the Easterling says he wanted land
for her near where he then was.

Then Eyjolf told Flosi all about his dealings with his host, and
Flosi says he will pull an oar with him, so that his marriage
bargain might be struck, and buy the ship of him afterwards.  The
Easterling was glad at that.  Flosi offered him land at
Borgarhaven, and now the Easterling holds on with his suit to his
host when Flosi was by, and Flosi threw in a helping word, so
that the bargain was brought about between them.

Flosi made over the land at Borgarhaven to the Easterling, but
shook hands on the bargain for the ship.  He got also from the
Easterling twenty hundreds in wares, and that was also in their
bargain for the land.

Now Flosi rode back home.  He was so beloved by his men that
their wares stood free to him to take either on loan or gift,
just as he chose.

He rode home to Swinefell, and was at home a while.

Then Flosi sent Kol Thorstein's son and Gunnar Lambi's son east
to Hornfirth.  They were to be there by the ship, and to fit her
out, and set up booths, and sack the wares, and get all things
together that were needful.

Now we must tell of the sons of Sigfus how they say to Flosi that
they will ride west to Fleetlithe to set their houses in order,
and get wares thence, and such other things as they needed. 
"Kari is not there now to be guarded against," they say, "if he
is in the north country as is said."

"I know not," answers Flosi, "as to such stories, whether there
be any truth in what is said of Kari's journeyings; methinks, we
have often been wrong in believing things which are nearer to
learn than this.  My counsel is that ye go many of you together,
and part as little as ye can, and be as wary of yourselves as ye
may.  Thou, too, Kettle of the Mark shalt bear in mind that dream
which I told thee, and which thou prayedst me to hide; for many
are those in thy company who were then called."

"All must come to pass as to man's life," said Kettle, "as it is
foredoomed; but good go with thee for thy warning."

Now they spoke no more about it.

After that the sons of Sigfus busked them and those men with them
who were meant to go with them.  They were eight in all, and then
they rode away, and ere they went they kissed Flosi, and he bade
them farewell, and said he and some of those who rode away would
not see each other more.  But they would not let themselves be
hindered.  They rode now on their way, and Flosi said that they
should take his wares in Middleland, and carry them east, and do
the same in Landsbreach and Woodcombe.

After that they rode to Skaptartongue, and so on the fell, and
north of Eyjafell Jokul, and down into Godaland, and so down into
the woods in Thorsmark.

Bjorn of the Mark caught sight of them coming, and went at once
to meet them.

Then they greeted each other well, and the sons of Sigfus asked
after Kari Solmund's son.

"I met Kari," said Bjorn, "and that is now very long since; he
rode hence north on Goose-sand, and meant to go to Gudmund the
Powerful, and methought if he were here now, he would stand in
awe of you, for he seemed to be left all alone."

Grani Gunnar's son said, "He shall stand more in awe of us yet
before we have done with him, and he shall learn that as soon as
ever he comes within spearthrow of us; but as for us, we do not
fear him at all, now that he is all alone."

Kettle of the Mark bade them be still, and bring out no big

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.


Now Kari talks to Bjorn and says, "We shall ride east across the
fell and down into Skaptartongue, and fare stealthily over
Flosi's country, for I have it in my mind to get myself carried
abroad east in Alftafirth."

"This is a very riskful journey," said Bjorn, "and few would have
the heart to take it save thou and I."

"If thou backest Kari ill," said his housewife, "know this, that
thou shalt never come afterwards into my bed, and my kinsmen
shall share our goods between us."

"It is likelier, mistress," said he, "that thou wilt have to look
out for something else than this if thou hast a mind to part from
me: for I will bear my own witness to myself what a champion and
daredevil I am when weapons clash."

Now they rode that day east on the fell to the north of the
Jokul, but never on the highway, and so down into Skaptartongue,
and above all the homesteads to Skaptarwater, and led their
horses into a dell, but they themselves were on the look-out, and
had so placed themselves that they could not be seen.

Then Kari said to Bjorn, "What shall we do now if they ride down
upon us here from the fell?"

"Are there not but two things to be done," said Bjorn; "one to
ride away from them north under the crags, and so let them ride
by us, or to wait and see if any of them lag behind, and then to
fall on them."

They talked much about this, and one while Bjorn was for flying
as fast as he could in every word he spoke, and at another for
staying and fighting it out with them, and Kari thought this the
greatest sport.

The sons of Sigfus rode from their homes the same day that they
had named to Bjorn.  They came to the Mark and knocked at the
door there, and wanted to see Bjorn; but his mistress went to the
door and greeted them.  They asked at once for Bjorn, and she
said he had ridden away down under Eyjafell, and so east under
Selialandsmull, and on east to Holt, "for he has some money to
call in thereabouts," she said.

They believed this, for they knew that Bjorn had money out at
call there.

After that they rode east on the fell, and did not stop before
they came to Skaptartongue, and so rode down along Skaptarwater,
and baited their horses just where Kari had thought they would. 
Then they split their band.  Kettle of the Mark rode east into
Middleland, and eight men with him, but the others laid them down
to sleep, and were not ware of aught until Kari and Bjorn came up
to them.  A little ness ran out there into the river; into it
Kari went and took his stand, and bade Bjorn stand back to back
with him, and not to put himself too forward, "but give me all
the help thou canst."

"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
tidings anywhere.

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.


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."


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
to do.

"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.


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
their ship.

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.


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
was full.

Now King Sigtrygg and Earl Gilli wished to hear of these tidings
which had happened at the burning, and so, also, what had
befallen since.

Then Gunnar Lambi's son was got to tell the tale, and a stool was
set for him to sit upon.


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
dead man.

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
and daring."

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
they ask."

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
things stood.

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.


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
every ship.

Then they slept during the day, but the second night there was
again a din, and again they all sprang up.  Then swords leapt out
of their sheaths, and axes and spears flew about in the air and

The weapons pressed them so hard that they had to shield
themselves, but still many were wounded, and again a man died out
of every ship.

This wonder lasted all till day.

Then they slept again the day after.

But the third night there was a din of the same kind, and then
ravens flew at them, and it seemed to them as though their beaks
and claws were of iron.

The ravens pressed them so hard that they had to keep them off
with their swords, and covered themselves with their shields, and
so this went on again till day, and then another man had died in
every ship.

Then they went to sleep first of all, but when Brodir woke up, he
drew his breath painfully, and bade them put off the boat. 
"For," he said, "I will go to see Ospak."

Then he got into the boat and some men with him, but when he
found Ospak he told him of the wonders which had befallen them,
and bade him say what he thought they bodcd.

Ospak would not tell him before he pledged him peace, and Brodir
promised him peace, but Ospak still shrank from telling him till
night fell.

Then Ospak spoke and said, "When blood rained on you, therefore
shall ye shed many men's blood, both of your own and others.  But
when ye heard a great din, then ye must have been shown the crack
of doom, and ye shall all die speedily.  But when weapons fought
against you, that must forebode a battle; but when ravens pressed
you, that marks the devils which ye put faith in, and who will
drag you all down to the pains of hell."

Then Brodir was so wroth that he could answer never a word, but
he went at once to his men, and made them lay his ships in a line
across the sound, and moor them by bearing their cables on shore
at either end of the line, and meant to slay them all next

Ospak saw all their plan, and then he vowed to take the true
faith, and to go to King Brian, and follow him till his death-

Then he took that counsel to lay his ships in a line, and punt
them along the shore with poles, and cut the cables of Brodir's
ships.  Then the ships of Brodir's men began to fall aboard of
one another when they were all fast asleep; and so Ospak and his
men got out of the firth, and so west to Ireland, and came to

Then Ospak told King Brian all that he had learnt, and took
baptism, and gave himself over into the king's hand.

After that King Brian made them gather force over all his realm,
and the whole host was to come to Dublin in the week before Palm


Earl Sigurd Hlodver's son busked him from the Orkneys, and Flosi
offered to go with him.

The earl would not have that, since he had his pilgrimage to

Flosi offered fifteen men of his band to go on the voyage, and
the earl accepted them, but Flosi fared with Earl Gilli to the
Southern isles.

Thorstein, the son of Hall of the Side, went along with Earl
Sigurd, and Hrafn the Red, and Erling of Straumey.

He would not that Hareck should go, but said he would be sure to
be the first to tell him the tidings of his voyage.

The earl came with all his host on Palm Sunday to Dublin, and
there too was come Brodir with all his host.

Brodir tried by sorcery how the fight would go, but the answer
ran thus, that if the fight were on Good-Friday King Brian would
fall but win the day; but if they fought before, they would all
fall who were against him.

Then Brodir said that they must not fight before the Friday.

On the fifth day of the week a man rode up to Kormlada and her
company on an apple-grey horse, and in his hand he held a
halberd; he talked long with them.

King Brian came with all his host to the Burg, and on the Friday
the host fared out of the Burg, and both armies were drawn up in

Brodir was on one wing of the battle, but King Sigtrygg on the

Earl Sigurd was in the mid battle.

Now it must be told of King Brian that he would not fight on the
fast-day, and so a shieldburg (1) was thrown round him, and his
host was drawn up in array in front of it.

Wolf the Quarrelsome was on that wing of the battle against which
Brodir stood; but on the other wing, where Sigtrygg stood against
them, were Ospak and his sons.

But in mid battle was Kerthialfad, and before him the banners
were home.

Now the wings fall on one another, and there was a very hard
fight.  Brodir went through the host of the foe, and felled all
the foremost that stood there, but no steel would bite on his

Wolf the Quarrelsome turned then to meet him, and thrust at him
thrice so hard that Brodir fell before him at each thrust, and
was well-nigh not getting on his feet again; but as soon as ever
he found his feet, he fled away into the wood at once.

Earl Sigurd had a hard battle against Kerthialfad, and
Kerthialfad came on so fast that he laid low all who were in the
front rank, and he broke the array of Earl Sigurd right up to his
banner, and slew the banner-bearer.

Then he got another man to bear the banner, and there was again a
hard fight.

Kerthialfad smote this man too his death blow at once, and so on
one after the other all who stood near him.

Then Earl Sigurd called on Thorstein the son of Hall of the Side,
to bear the banner, and Thorstein was just about to lift the
banner, but then Asmund the White said, "Don't bear the banner!
For all they who bear it get their death."

"Hrafn the Red!" called out Earl Sigurd, "bear thou the banner."

"Bear thine own devil thyself," answered Hrafn.

Then the earl said, "`Tis fittest that the beggar should bear the
bag;'" and with that he took the banner from the staff and put it
under his cloak.

A little after Asmund the White was slain, and then the earl was
pierced through with a spear.

Ospak had gone through all the battle on his wing, he had been
sore wounded, and lost both his sons ere King Sigtrygg fled
before him.

Then flight broke out throughout all the host.

Thorstein Hall of the Side's son stood still while all the others
fled, and tied his shoe-string.  Then Kerthialfad asked why he
ran not as the others.

"Because," said Thorstein, "I can't get home to-night, since I
am at home out in Iceland."

Kerthialfad gave him peace.

Hrafn the Red was chased out into a certain river; he thought he
saw there the pains of hell down below him, and he thought the
devils wanted to drag him to them.

Then Hrafn said, "Thy dog (2), Apostle Peter!  hath run twice to
Rome, and he would run the third time if thou gavest him leave."

Then the devils let him loose, and Hrafn got across the river.

Now Brodir saw that King Brian's men were chasing the fleers, and
that there were few men by the shieldburg.

Then he rushed out of the wood, and broke through the shieldburg,
and hewed at the king.

The lad Takt threw his arm in the way, and the stroke took it off
and the king's head too, but the king's blood came on the lad's
stump, and the stump was healed by it on the spot.

Then Brodir called out with a loud voice, "Now let man tell man
that Brodir felled Brian."

Then men ran after those who were chasing the fleers, and they
were told that King Brian had fallen, and then they turned back
straightway, both Wolf the Quarrelsome and Kerthialfad.

Then they threw a ring round Brodir and his men, and threw
branches of trees upon them, and so Brodir was taken alive.

Wolf the Quarrelsome cut open his belly, and led him round and
round the trunk of a tree, and so wound all his entrails out of
him, and he did not die before they were all drawn out of him.

Brodir's men were slain to a man.

After that they took King Brian's body and laid it out.  The
king's head had grown fast to the trunk.

Fifteen men of the burners fell in Brian's battle, and there,
too, fell Halldor the son of Gudmund the Powerful, and Erling
of Straumey.

On Good-Friday that event happened in Caithness that a man whose
name was Daurrud went out.  He saw folk riding twelve together to
a bower, and there they were all lost to his sight.  He went to
that bower and looked in through a window slit that was in it,
and saw that there were women inside, and they had set up a loom.

Men's heads were the weights, but men's entrails were the warp
and weft, a sword was the shuttle, and the reels were arrows.

They sang these songs, and he learnt them by heart:


     "See! warp is stretched
     For warriors' fall,
     Lo! weft in loom
     'Tis wet with blood;
     Now fight foreboding,
     'Neath friends' swift fingers,
     Our grey woof waxeth
     With war's alarms,
     Our warp bloodred,
     Our weft corseblue.

     "This woof is y-woven
     With entrails of men,
     This warp is hardweighted
     With heads of the slain,
     Spears blood-besprinkled
     For spindles we use,
     Our loom ironbound,
     And arrows our reels;
     With swords for our shuttles
     This war-woof we work;
     So weave we, weird sisters,
     Our warwinning woof.

     "Now Warwinner walketh
     To weave in her turn,
     Now Swordswinger steppeth,
     Now Swiftstroke, now Storm;
     When they speed the shuttle
     How spearheads shall flash!
     Shields crash, and helmgnawer (3)
     On harness bite hard!

     "Wind we, wind swiftly
     Our warwinning woof
     Woof erst for king youthful
     Foredoomed as his own,
     Forth now we will ride,
     Then through the ranks rushing
     Be busy where friends
     Blows blithe give and take.

     "Wind we, wind swiftly
     Our warwinning woof,
     After that let us steadfastly
     Stand by the brave king;
     Then men shall mark mournful
     Their shields red with gore,
     How Swordstroke and Spearthrust
     Stood stout by the prince.

     "Wind we, wind swiftly
     Our warwinning woof.
     When sword-bearing rovers
     To banners rush on,
     Mind, maidens, we spare not
     One life in the fray!
     We corse-choosing sisters
     Have charge of the slain.

     "Now new-coming nations
     That island shall rule,
     Who on outlying headlands
     Abode ere the fight;
     I say that King mighty
     To death now is done,
     Now low before spearpoint
     That Earl bows his head.

     "Soon over all Ersemen
     Sharp sorrow shall fall,
     That woe to those warriors
     Shall wane nevermore;
     Our woof now is woven.
     Now battlefield waste,
     O'er land and o'er water
     War tidings shall leap.

     "Now surely 'tis gruesome
     To gaze all around.
     When bloodred through heaven
     Drives cloudrack o'er head;
     Air soon shall be deep hued
     With dying men's blood
     When this our spaedom
     Comes speedy to pass.

     "So cheerily chant we
     Charms for the young king,
     Come maidens lift loudly
     His warwinning lay;
     Let him who now listens
     Learn well with his ears
     And gladden brave swordsmen
     With bursts of war's song.

     "Now mount we our horses,
     Now bare we our brands,
     Now haste we hard, maidens,
     Hence far, far, away."

Then they plucked down the Woof and tore it asunder, and each
kept what she had hold of.

Now Daurrud goes away from the Slit, and home; but they got on
their steeds and rode six to the south, and the other six to the

A like event befell Brand Gneisti's son in the Faroe Isles.

At Swinefell, in Iceland, blood came on the priest's stole on
Good-Friday, so that he had to put it off.

At Thvattwater the priest thought he saw on Good-Friday a long
deep of the sea hard by the altar, and there he saw many awful
sights, and it was long ere he could sing the prayers.

This event happened in the Orkneys, that Hareck thought he saw
Earl Sigurd, and some men with him.  Then Hareck took his horse
and rode to meet the earl.  Men saw that they met and rode under
a brae, but they were never seen again, and not a scrap was ever
found of Hareck.

Earl Gilli in the Southern isles dreamed that a man came to him
and said his name was Hostfinn, and told him he was come from

The earl thought he asked him for tidings thence, and then he
sang this song:

     "I have been where warriors wrestled,
     High in Erin sang the sword,
     Boss to boss met many bucklers,
     Steel rung sharp on rattling helm;
     I can tell of all their struggle;
     Sigurd fell in flight of spears;
     Brian fell, but kept his kingdom
     Ere he lost one drop of blood."

Those two, Flosi and the earl, talked much of this dream.  A week
after, Hrafn the Red came thither, and told them all the tidings
of Brian's battle, the fall of the king, and of Earl Sigurd, and
Brodir, and all the Vikings.

"What," said Flosi, "hast thou to tell me of my men?

"They all fell there," says Hrafn, "but thy brother-in-law
Thorstein took peace from Kerthialfad, and is now with him."

Flosi told the earl that he would now go away, "For we have our
pilgrimage south to fulfil."

The earl bade him go as he wished, and gave him a ship and all
else that he needed, and much silver.

Then they sailed to Wales, and stayed there a while.


(1)  "Shieldburg," that is, a ring of men holding their shields
     locked together.
(2)  "Thy dog," etc.  Meaning that he would go a third time on a
     pilgrimage to Rome if St. Peter helped him out of this
(3)  "Helmgnawer," the sword that bites helmets.


Kari Solmund's son told master Skeggi that he wished he would get
him a ship.  So master Skeggi gave Kari a longship, fully trimmed
and manned, and on board it went Kari, and David the White, and
Kolbein the Black.

Now Kari and his fellows sailed south through Scotland's firths,
and there they found men from the Southern isles.  They told Kari
the tidings from Ireland, and also that Flosi was gone to Wales,
and his men with him.

But when Kari heard that, he told his messmates that he would
hold on south to Wales, to fall in with Flosi and his band.  So
he bade them then to part from his company, if they liked it
better, and said that he would not wish to beguile any man into
mischief, because he thought he had not yet had revenge enough on
Flosi and his band.

All chose to go with him; and then he sails south to Wales, and
there they lay in hiding in a creek out of the way.

That morning Kol Thorstein's son went into the town to buy
silver.  He of all the burners had used the bitterest words.  Kol
had talked much with a mighty dame, and he had so knocked the
nail on the head, that it was all but fixed that he was to have
her, and settle down there.

That same morning Kari went also into the town.  He came where
Kol was telling the silver.

Kari knew him at once, and ran at him with his drawn sword and
smote him on the neck; but he still went on telling the silver,
and his head counted "ten" just as it spun off his body.

Then Kari said, "Go and tell this to Flosi, that Kari Solmund's
son hath slain Kol Thorstein's son.  I give notice of this
slaying as done by my hand."

Then Kari went to his ship, and told his shipmates of the

Then they sailed north to Beruwick, and laid up their ship, and
fared up into Whitherne in Scotland, and were with Earl Malcolm
that year.

But when Flosi heard of Kol's slaying, he laid out his body, and
bestowed much money on his burial.

Flosi never uttered any wrathful words against Kari.

Thence Flosi fared south across the sea and began his pilgrimage,
and went on south, and did not stop till he came to Rome.  There
he got so great honour that he took absolution from the Pope
himself, and for that he gave a great sum of money.

Then he fared back again by the east road, and stayed long in
towns, and went in before mighty men, and had from them great

He was in Norway the winter after, and was with Earl Eric till he
was ready to sail, and the earl gave him much meal, and many
other men behaved handsomely to him.

Now he sailed out to Iceland, and ran into Hornfirth, and thence
fared home to Swinefell.  He had then fulfilled all the terms of
his atonement, both in fines and foreign travel.


Now it is to be told of Kari that the summer after he went down
to his ship and sailed south across the sea, and began his
pilgrimage in Normandy, and so went south and got absolution and
fared back by the western way, and took his ship again in
Normandy, and sailed in her north across the sea to Dover in

Thence he sailed west, round Wales, and so north, through
Scotland's firths, and did not stay his course till he came to
Thraswick in Caithness, to master Skeggi's house.

There he gave over the ship of burden to Kolbein and David, and
Kolbein sailed in that ship to Norway, but David stayed behind in
the Fair Isle.

Kari was that winter in Caithness.  In this winter his housewife
died out in Iceland.

The next summer Kari busked him for Iceland.  Skeggi gave him a
ship of burden, and there were eighteen of them on board her.

They were rather late "boun," but still they put to sea, and had
a long passage, but at last they made Ingolf's Head.  There their
ship was dashed all to pieces, but the men's lives were saved. 
Then, too, a gale of wind came on them.

Now they ask Kari what counsel was to be taken; but he said their
best plan was to go to Swinefell and put Flosi's manhood to the

So they went right up to Swinefell in the storm.  Flosi was in
the sitting-room.  He knew Kari as soon as ever he came into the
room, and sprang up to meet him, and kissed him, and sate him
down in the high seat by his side.

Flosi asked Kari to be there that winter, and Kari took his
offer.  Then they were atoned with a full atonement.

Then Flosi gave away his brother's daughter Hildigunna, whom
Hauskuld the priest of Whiteness had had to wife to Kari, and
they dwelt first of all at Broadwater.

Men say that the end of Flosi's life was, that he fared abroad,
when he had grown old, to seek for timber to build him a hall;
and he was in Norway that winter, but the next summer he was late
"boun"; and men told him that his ship was not seaworthy.

Flosi said she was quite good enough for an old and deathdoomed
man, and bore his goods on shipboard and put out to sea.  But of
that ship no tidings were ever heard.

These were the children of Kari Solmund's son and Helga Njal's
daughter -- Thorgerda and Ragneida, Valgerda, and Thord who was
burnt in Njal's house.  But the children of Hildigunna and Kari,
were these, Starkad, and Thord, and Flosi.

The son of Burning-Flosi was Kolbein, who has been the most
famous man of any of that stock.

And here we end the STORY of BURNT NJAL.