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Medieval and Classical Library

The Story of Burnt Njal
(Njal's Saga)

Part 2: Sections 21 - 37

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #11


Now it must be told how Unna had lost all her ready money.  She
made her way to Lithend, and Gunnar greeted his kinswoman well. 
She stayed there that night, and the next morning they sat out of
doors and talked.  The end of their talk was, that she told him
how heavily she was pressed for money.

"This is a bad business," he said.

"What help wilt thou give me out of my distress?" she asked.

He answered, "Take as much money as thou needest from what I have
out at interest."

"Nay," she said, "I will not waste thy goods."

"What then dost thou wish?"

"I wish thee to get back my goods out of Hrut's hands," she

"That, methinks, is not likely," said he, "when thy father could
not get them back, and yet he was a great lawyer, but I know
little about law."

She answered, "Hrut pushed that matter through rather by boldness
than by law; besides, my father was old, and that was why men
thought it better not to drive things to the uttermost.  And now
there is none of my kinsmen to take this suit up if thou hast not
daring enough.

"I have courage enough," he replied, "to get these goods back;
but I do not know how to take the suit up."

"Well!" she answered, "go and see Njal of Bergthorsknoll, he will
know how to give thee advice.  Besides, he is a great friend of

"'Tis like enough he will give me good advice, as he gives it to
every one else," says Gunnar.

So the end of their talk was, that Gunnar undertook her cause,
and gave her the money she needed for her housekeeping, and after
that she went home.

Now Gunnar rides to see Njal, and he made him welcome, and they
began to talk at once.

Then Gunnar said, "I am come to seek a bit of good advice from

Njal replied, "Many of my friends are worthy of this, but still I
think I would take more pains for none than for thee."

Gunnar said, "I wish to let thee know that I have undertaken to
get Unna's goods back from Hrut."

"A very hard suit to undertake," said Njal, "and one very
hazardous how it will go; but still I will get it up for thee in
the way I think likeliest to succeed, and the end will be good if
thou breakest none of the rules I lay down; if thou dost, thy
life is in danger."

"Never fear; I will break none of them," said Gunnar.

Then Njal held his peace for a little while, and after that he
spoke as follows: --


I have thought over the suit, and it will do so.  Thou shalt ride
from home with 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
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

"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

"`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


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 (1) bereft thee;
     From thine arms earth's offspring (2) tearing,
     Trickfull 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.


(1)  "Lord of rings," a periphrasis for a chief, that is, Mord.
(2)  "Earth's offspring," a periphrasis for woman, that is, Unna.


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 be 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 Oxwater.  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 bear 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

"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 Gunnar'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, "III 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

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
more for help from her and her kin hereafter than from other men.

She said, so it should be.


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 (1).  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-looted 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 soldierlike of

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 baseborn.  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.


(1)  The son of Ranveig the Silly, the son of Valgard, the son of
     Aefar, the son of Vemund Wordstopper, the son of Thorolf
     Hooknose, the son of Thrand the Old, the son of Harold
     Hilditann, the son of Hraereck Ringscatterer.  The mother of
     Harold Hilditann, was Aud the daughter of Ivar Widefathom,
     the son of Halfdan the Clever.  The brother of Valgard the
     Guileful was Wolf Aurpriest -- from whom the Pointdwellers
     sprung -- Wolf Aurpriest was the father of Swart, the father
     of Lodmund, the father of Sigfus, the father of Saemund the
     Wise.  But from Valgard is sprung Kolbein the Young.


There was a man named Asgrim (1).  He was Ellidagrim's son.  The
brother of Asgrim Ellidagrim's son was Sigfus (2).  Gauk
Trandil's son was Asgrim's foster-brother, who is said to have
been the fairest man of his day, and best skilled in all things;
but matters went ill with them, for Asgrim slew Gauk.

Asgrim had two sons, and each of them was 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."


(1)  Ellidagrim was Asgrim's son, Aundot the Crow's son.  His
     mother's name was Jorunn, and she was the daughter of Teit,
     the son of Kettlebjorn the Old of Mossfell.  The mother of
     Teit was Helga, daughter of Thord Skeggi's son, Hrapp's son,
     Bjorn's son the Roughfooted, Grim's son, the Lord of Sogn in
     Norway.  The mother of Jorunn was Olof Harvest-heal,
     daughter of Bodvar, Viking-Kari's son.
(2)  His daughter was Thorgerda, mother of Sigfus, the father of
     Saemund the Learned.


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 bestmen.  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.


There came a ship out from Norway, and ran into Arnbael's Oyce
(1), and the master of the ship was Hallvard the White, a man
from the Bay (2).  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 (3) 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 (4).

"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.


(1)  "Oyce," a north country word for the mouth of a river, from
     the Icelandic.
(2)  "The Bay" (comp. ch. ii., and other passages), the name
     given to the great bay in the east of Norway, the entrance
     of which from the North Sea is the Cattegat, and at the end
     of which is the Christiania Firth.  The name also applies to
     the land round the Bay, which thus formed a district, the
     boundary of which, on the one side, was the promontory
     called Lindesnaes, or the Naze, and on the other, the
     Gota-Elf, the river on which the Swedish town of Gottenburg
     stands, and off the mouth of which lies the island of
     Hisingen, mentioned shortly after.
(3)  Easterling, i.e., the Norseman Hallvard.
(4)  Permia, the country one comes to after doubling the North


So Gunnar fared abroad, and Kolskegg with him.  They sailed first
to Tonsberg (1), 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

"No; I will not do that," says Gunnar.  "Hast thou ever a long-

"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

"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 "allboun."  Then Gunnar and Hallvard went
before Oliver, and thanked him; he bade them fare warily for the
sake of those brothers.


(1)  A town at the mouth of the Christiania Firth.  It was a
     great place for traffic in early times, and was long the
     only mart in the south-east of Norway.


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 parted 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 cast 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 any a rill of wolf (1) 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

Thence they held on south to Denmark, and thence east to Smoland,
(2) 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,(3) 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 along 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 courser (4) bounding,
     O'er the sea-depths I will ride,
     While the wretch who spells abuseth,
     Life shall lose in Sigar's storm." (5)

"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 Gunner 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."


(1)  Rill of wolf -- stream of blood.
(2)  A province of Sweden.
(3)  An island in the Baltic, off the coast of Esthonia.
(4)  "Endil's courser" -- periphrasis for a ship.
(5)  "Sigar's storm" -- periphrasis for a sea-fight.


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.


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

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 Arnbael'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," said 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 NjaI, "if thou hast not to smart for

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

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

"How wouldst thou answer, were I to ask for thee?"

"That cannot 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

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

"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

"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, "'t is 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.


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
Thorhillda Skaldwife; she had a sharp tongue of her own, and was
given 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, Thorleik, 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

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

"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.


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 crossbench, 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 NjaI, 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

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.


Gunnar rode away to the Thing, but before he rode from home he
said to Hallgerda, "Be good now while I am away, and show none of
thine ill temper in anything with which my friends have to do."

"The trolls take thy friends," says Hallgerda.

So Gunnar rode to the Thing, and saw it was not good to come to
words with her.  Njal rode to the Thing too, and all his sons
with him.

Now it must be told of what tidings happened at home.  Njal and
Gunnar owned a wood in common at Redslip; they had not shared the
wood, but each was wont to hew in it as he needed, and neither
said a word to the other about that.  Hallgerda's grieve's (1)
name was Kol; he had been with her long, and was one of the worst
of men.  There was a man named Swart; he was Njal's and
Bergthora's housecarle; they were very fond of him.  Now
Bergthora told him that he must go up into Redslip and hew wood;
but she said, "I will get men to draw home the wood."

He said he would do the work she set him to win; and so he went
up into Redslip, and was to be there a week.

Some gangrel men came to Lithend from the east across Markfleet,
and said that Swart had been in Redslip, and hewn wood, and done
a deal of work.

"So," says Hallgerda, "Bergthora must mean to rob me in many
things, but I'll take care that he does not hew again."

Rannveig, Gunnar's mother, heard that, and said, "There have been
good housewives before now, though they never set their hearts on

Now the night wore away, and early next morning Hallgerda came to
speak to Kol, and said, "I have thought of some work for thee;"
and with that she put weapons into his hands, and went on to say
-- "Fare thou to Redslip; there wilt thou find Swart."

"What shall I do to him?" he says.

"Askest thou that, when thou art the worst of men?" she says. 
"Thou shalt kill him."

"I can get that done," he says, "but 'tis more likely that I
shall lose my own life for it."

"Everything grows big in thy eyes," she says, "and thou behavest
ill to say this after I have spoken up for thee in everything.  I
must get another man to do this if thou darest not."

He took the axe, and was very wroth, and takes a horse that
Gunnar owned, and rides now till he comes east of Markfleet. 
There he got off and bided in the wood, till they had carried
down the firewood, and Swart was left alone behind.  Then Kol
sprang on him, and said, "More folk can hew great strokes than
thou alone;" and so he laid the axe on his head, and smote him
his death-blow, and rides home afterwards, and tells Hallgerda of
the slaying.

She said, "I shall take such good care of thee, that no harm
shall come to thee."

"May be so," says he, "but I dreamt all the other way as I slept
ere I did the deed."

Now they come up into the wood, and find Swart slain, and bear
him home.  Hallgerda sent a man to Gunnar at the Thing to tell
him of the slaying.  Gunnar said no hard words at first of
Hallgerda to the messenger, and men knew not at first whether he
thought well or ill of it.  A little after he stood up, and bade
his men go with him: they did so, and fared to Njal's booth. 
Gunnar sent a man to fetch Njal, and begged him to come out. 
Njal went out at once, and he and Gunnar fell a-talking, and
Gunnar said, "I have to tell thee of the slaying of a man, and my
wife and my grieve Kol were those who did it; but Swart, thy
housecarle, fell before them."

Njal held his peace while he told him the whole story.  Then Njal
spoke, "Thou must take heed not to let her have her way in

Gunnar said, "Thou thyself shalt settle the terms."

Njal spoke again, "'Twill be hard work for thee to atone for all
Hallgerda's mischief; and somewhere else there will be a broader
trail to follow than this which we two now have a share in, and
yet, even here there will be much awanting before all be well;
and herein we shall need to bear in mind the friendly words that
passed between us of old; and something tells me that thou wilt
come well out of it, but still thou wilt be sore tried."

Then Njal took the award into his own hands from Gunnar, and
said, "I will not push this matter to the uttermost; thou shalt
pay twelve ounces of silver; but I will add this to my award,
that if anything happens from our homestead about which thou hast
to utter an award, thou wilt not be less easy in thy terms."

Gunnar paid up the money out of hand, and rode home afterwards. 
Njal, too, came home from the Thing, and his sons.  Bergthora saw
the money, and said, "This is very justly settled; but even as
much money shall be paid for Kol as time goes on."

Gunnar came home from the Thing and blamed Hallgerda.  She said,
better men lay unatoned in many places.  Gunnar said, she might
have her way in beginning a quarrel, "but how the matter is to be
settled rests with me."

Hallgerda was for ever chattering of Swart's slaying, but
Bergthora liked that ill.  Once Njal and her sons went up to
Thorolfsfell to see about the house-keeping there, but that
selfsame day this thing happened when Bergthora was out of doors:
she sees a man ride up to the house on a black horse.  She stayed
there and did not go in, for she did not know the man.  That man
had a spear in his hand, and was girded with a short sword.  She
asked this man his name.

"Atli is my name," says he.

She asked whence he came.

"I am an Eastfirther," he says.

"Whither shalt thou go?" she says.

"I am a homeless man," says he, "and I thought to see Njal and
Skarphedinn, and know if they would take me in."

"What work is handiest to thee?" says she.

"I am a man used to field-work," he says, "and many things else
come very handy to me; but I will not hide from thee that I am a
man of hard temper, and it has been many a man's lot before now
to bind up wounds at my hand."

"I do not blame thee," she says, "though thou art no milksop."

Atli said, "Hast thou any voice in things here?"

"I am Njal's wife," she says, "and I have as much to say to our
housefolk as he."

"Wilt thou take me in then?" says he.

"I will give thee thy choice of that," says she.  "If thou wilt
do all the work that I set before thee, and that, though I wish
to send thee where a man's life is at stake."

"Thou must have so many men at thy beck," says he, "that thou
wilt not need me for such work."

"That I will settle as I please," she says.

"We will strike a bargain on these terms," says he.

Then she took him into the household.  Njal and his sons came
home and asked Bergthora what man that might be?

"He is thy house-carle," she says, "and I took him in."  Then she
went on to say he was no sluggard at work.

"He will be a great worker enough, I daresay," says Njal, "but I
do not know whether he will be such a good worker."

Skarphedinn was good to Atli.

Njal and his sons ride to the Thing in the course of the summer;
Gunnar was also at the Thing.

Njal took out a purse of money.

"What money is that, father?"

"Here is the money that Gunnar paid me for our housecarle last

"That will come to stand thee in some stead," says Skarphedinn,
and smiled as he spoke.


(1)  Grieve, i.e., bailiff, head workman.


Now we must take up the story and say, that Atli asked Bergthora
what work he should do that day?

"I have thought of some work for thee," she says; "thou shalt go
and look for Kol until thou find him; for now shalt thou slay him
this very day, if thou wilt do my will."

"This work is well fitted," says Atli, "for each of us two are
bad fellows; but still I will so lay myself out for him that one
or other of us shall die."

"Well mayst thou fare," she says, "and thou shalt not do this
deed for nothing."

He took his weapons and his horse, and rode up to Fleetlithe, and
there met men who were coming down from Lithend.  They were at
home east in the Mark.  They asked Atli whither he meant to go?
He said he was riding to look for an old jade.  They said that
was a small errand for such a workman, "but still 'twould be
better to ask those who have been about last night."

"Who are they?" says he.

"Killing-Kol," say they, "Hallgerda's house-carle, fared from the
fold just now, and has been awake all night."

"I do not know whether I dare to meet him," says Atli, "he is
bad-tempered, and may be that I shall let another's wound be my

"Thou bearest that look beneath the brows as though thou wert no
coward," they said, and showed him where Kol was.

Then he spurred his horse and rides fast, and when he meets Ko1,
Atli said to him, "Go the pack-saddle bands well," says Atli.

"That's no business of thine, worthless fellow, nor of any one
else whence thou comest."

Atli said, "Thou hast something behind that is earnest work, but
that is to die."

After that Atli thrust at him with his spear, and struck him
about his middle.  Kol swept at him with his axe, but missed him,
and fell off his horse, and died at once.

Atli rode till he met some of Hallgerda's workmen, and said, "Go
ye up to the horse yonder, and look to Kol, for he has fallen
off, and is dead."

"Hast thou slain him? " say they.

"Well, 'twill seem to Hallgerda as though he has not fallen by
his own hand."

After that Atli rode home and told Bergthora; she thanked him for
this deed, and for the words which he had spoken about it.

"I do not know," says he, "what Njal will think of this."

"He will take it well upon his hands," she says, "and I will tell
thee one thing as a token of it, that he has carried away with
him to the Thing the price of that thrall which we took last
spring, and that money will now serve for Kol; but though peace
be made thou must still be ware of thyself, for Hallgerda will
keep no peace."

"Wilt thou send at all a man to Njal to tell him of the slaying?"

"I will not," she says, "I should like it better that Kol were

Then they stopped talking about it.

Hallgerda was told of Kol's slaying, and of the words that Atli
had said.  She said Atli should be paid off for them.  She sent a
man to the Thing to tell Gunnar of Kol's slaying; he answered
little or nothing, and sent a man to tell Njal.  He too made no
answer, but Skarphedinn said, "Thralls are men of more mettle
than of yore; they used to fly at each other and fight, and no
one thought much harm of that; but now they will do naught but
kill," and as he said this he smiled.

Njal pulled down the purse of money which hung up in the booth,
and went out: his sons went with him to Gunnar's booth.

Skarphedinn said to a man who was in the doorway of the booth,
"Say thou to Gunnar that my father wants to see him."

He did so, and Gunnar went out at once and gave Njal a hearty
welcome.  After that they began to talk.

"'Tis ill done," says Njal, "that my housewife should have broken
the peace, and let thy house-carle be slain."

"She shall not have blame for that," says Gunnar.

"Settle the award thyself," says Njal.

"So I will do," says Gunnar, "and I value those two men at an
even price, Swart and Kol.  Thou shalt pay me twelve ounces in

Njal took the purse of money and handed it to Gunnar.  Gunnar
knew the money, and saw it was the same that he had paid Njal. 
Njal went away to his booth, and they were just as good friends
as before.  When Njal came home, he blamed Bergthora; but she
said she would never give way to Hallgerda.  Hallgerda was very
cross with Gunnar, because he had made peace for Kol's slaying. 
Gunnar told her he would never break with Njal or his sons, and
she flew into a great rage; but Gunnar took no heed of that, and
so they sat for that year, and nothing noteworthy happened.