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Medieval and Classical Library

The Story of Burnt Njal
(Njal's Saga)

Part 4: Sections 54 - 71

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #11


Now we must take up the story, and say that Gunnar was out of
doors at Lithend, and sees his shepherd galloping up to the yard.

The shepherd rode straight into the "town; and Gunnar said, "Why
ridest thou so hard?"

"I would be faithful to thee," said the man; "I saw men riding
down along Markfleet, eight of them together, and four of them
were in coloured clothes."

Gunnar said, "That must be Otkell."

The lad said, "I have often heard many temper-trying words of
Skamkell's; for Skamkell spoke away there east at Dale, and said
that thou sheddest tears when they rode over thee; but I tell it
thee because I cannot bear to listen to such speeches of
worthless men."

"We must not be word-sick," says Gunnar, "but from this day forth
thou shall do no other work than what thou choosest for thyself."

"Shall I say aught of this to Kolskegg thy brother?" asked the

"Go thou and sleep," says Gunnar; "I will tell Kolskegg."

The lad laid him down and fell asleep at once, but Gunnar took
the shepherd's horse and laid his saddle on him; he took his
shield, and girded him with his sword, Oliver's gift; he sets his
helm on his head; takes his bill, and something sung loud in it,
and his mother, Rannveig, heard it.  She went up to him and said
"Wrathful art thou now, my son, and never saw I thee thus

Gunnar goes out, and drives the butt of his spear into the earth,
and throws himself into the saddle, and rides away,

His mother, Rannveig, went into the sitting-room, where there was
a great noise of talking.

"Ye speak loud," she says, "but yet the bill gave a louder sound
when Gunnar went out."

Kolskegg heard what she said, and spoke, "This betokens no small

"That is well," says Hallgerda, "now they will soon prove whether
he goes away from them weeping."

Kolskegg takes his weapons and seeks him a horse, and rides after
Gunnar as fast as he could.

Gunnar rides across Acretongue, and so to Geilastofna and thence
to Rangriver, and down the stream to the ford at Hof.  There were
some women at the milking-post there.  Gunnar jumped off his
horse and tied him up.  By this time the others were riding up
towards him; there were flat stones covered with mud in the path
that led down to the ford.

Gunnar called out to them and said, "Now is the time to guard
yourselves; here now is the bill, and here now ye will put it to
the proof whether I shed one tear for all of you."

Then they all of them sprang off their horses' backs and made
towards Gunnar.  Hallbjorn was the foremost.

"Do not thou come on," says Gunnar; "thee last of all would I
harm; but I will spare no one if I have to fight for my life."

"That I cannot do," says Hallbjorn; "thou wilt strive to kill my
brother for all that, and it is a shame if I sit idly by."  And
as he said this he thrust at Gunnar with a great spear which he
held in both hands.

Gunnar threw his shield before the blow, but Hallbjorn pierced
the shield through.  Gunnar thrust the shield down so hard that
it stood fast in the earth (1), but he brandished his sword so
quickly that no eye could follow it, and he made a blow with the
sword, and it fell on Hallbjorn's arm above the writs, so that it
cut it off.

Skamkell ran behind Gunnar's back and makes a blow at him with a
great axe.  Gunnar turned short round upon him and parries the
blow with the bill, and caught the axe under one of its horns
with such a wrench that it flew out of Skamkell's hand away into
the river.

Then Gunnar sang a song:

     "Once thou askedst, foolish fellow,
     Of this man, this seahorse racer,
     When as fast as feet could foot it
     Forth ye fled from farm of mine,
     Whether that were rightly summoned?
     Now with gore the spear we redden,
     Battle-eager, and avenge us
     Thus on thee, vile source of strife."

Gunnar gives another thrust with his bill, and through Skamkell,
and lifts him up and casts him down in the muddy path on his

Audulf the Easterling snatches up a spear and launches it at
Gunnar.  Gunnar caught the spear with his hand in the air, and
hurled it back at once, and it flew through the shield and the
Easterling too, and so down into the earth.

Otkell smites at Gunnar with his sword, and aims at his leg just
below the knee, but Gunnar leapt up into the air and he misses
him.  Then Gunnar thrusts at him the bill and the blow goes
through him.

Then Kolskegg comes up, and rushes at once at Hallkell and dealt
him his death-blow with his short sword.  There and then they
slay eight men.

A woman who saw all this, ran home and told Mord, and besought
him to part them.

"They alone will be there," he says, "of whom I care not though
they slay one another."

"Thou canst not mean to say that," she says, "for thy kinsman
Gunnar, and thy friend Otkell will be there."

"Baggage, that thou art," he says, "thou art always chattering,"
and so he lay still in-doors while they fought.

Gunnar and Kolskegg rode home after this work, and they rode hard
up along the river bank, and Gunnar leapt off his horse and came
down on his feet.

Then Kolskegg said, "Hard now thou ridest, brother!"

"Ay," said Gunnar, "that was what Skamkell said when he uttered
those very words when they rode over me."

"Well, thou hast avenged that now," says Kolskegg.

"I would like to know," says Gunnar, "whether I am by so much the
less brisk and bold than other men, because I think more of
killing men than they?"


(1)  This shews that the shields were oblong, running down to a


Now those tidings are heard far and wide, and many said that they
thought they had not happened before it was likely.  Gunnar rode
to Bergthorsknoll and told Njal of these deeds.

Njal said, "Thou hast done great things, but thou hast been
sorely tried."

"How will it now go henceforth?" says Gunnar.

"Wilt thou that I tell thee what hath not yet come to pass?" asks
Njal.  "Thou wilt ride to the Thing, and thou wilt abide by my
counsel and get the greatest honour from this matter.  This will
be the beginning of thy manslayings."

"But give me some cunning counsel," says Gunnar.

"I will do that," says Njal, "never slay more than one man in the
same stock, and never break the peace which good men and true
make between thee and others, and least of all in such a matter
as this."

Gunnar said, "I should have thought there was more risk of that
with others than with me."

"Like enough," says Njal, "but still thou shalt so think of thy
quarrels, that if that should come to pass of which I have warned
thee, then thou wilt have but a little while to live; but
otherwise, thou wilt come to be an old man."

Gunnar said, "Dost thou know what will be thine own death?"

"I know it," says Njal.

"What?" asks Gunnar.

"That," says Njal, "which all would be the last to think."

After that Gunnar rode home.

A man was sent to Gizur the White and Geir the Priest, for they
had the blood-feud after Otkell.  Then they had a meeting, and
had a talk about what was to be done; and they were of one mind
that the quarrel should be followed up at law.  Then some one was
sought who would take the suit up, but no one was ready to do

"It seems to me," says Gizur, "that now there are only two
courses, that one of us two undertakes the suit, and then we
shall have to draw lots who it shall be, or else the man will be
unatoned.  We may make up our minds, too, that this will be a
heavy suit to touch; Gunnar has many kinsmen and is much beloved;
but that one of us who does not draw the lot, shall ride to the
Thing and never leave it until the suit comes to an end."

After that they drew lots, and Geir the Priest drew the lot to
take up the suit.

A little after, they rode from the west over the river, and came
to the spot where the meeting had been by Rangriver, and dug up
the bodies, and took witness to the wounds.  After that they gave
lawful notice and summoned nine neighbours to bear witness in the

They were told that Gunnar was at home with about thirty men;
then Geir the Priest asked whether Gizur would ride against him
with one hundred men.

"I will not do that," says he, "though the balance of force is
great on our side."

After that they rode back home.  The news that the suit was set
on foot was spread all over the country, and the saying ran that
the Thing would be very noisy and stormy.


There was a man named Skapti.  He was the son of Thorod (1). 
That father and son were great chiefs, and very well skilled in
law.  Thorod was thought to be rather crafty and guileful.  They
stood by Gizur the White in every quarrel.

As for the Lithemen and the dwellers by Rangriver, they came in a
great body to the Thing.  Gunnar was so beloved that all said
with one voice that they would back him.

Now they all come to the Thing and fit up their booths.  In
company with Gizur the White were these chiefs: Skapti Thorod's
son, Asgrim Ellidagrim's son, Oddi of Kidberg, and Halldor
Ornolf's son.

Now one day men went to the Hill of Laws, and then Geir the
Priest stood up and gave notice that he had a suit of
manslaughter against Gunnar for the slaying of Otkell.  Another
suit of manslaughter he brought against Gunnar for the slaying of
Halljborn the White; then, too, he went on in the same way as to
the slaying of Audulf, and so, too, as to the slaying of
Skamkell.  Then, too, he laid a suit of manslaughter against
Kolskegg for the slaying of Hallkell.

And when he had given due notice of all his suits of manslaughter
it was said that he spoke well.  He asked, too, in what Quarter
court the suits lay, and in what house in the district the
defendants dwelt.  After that men went away from the Hill of
Laws, and so the Thing goes on till the day when the courts were
to be set to try suits.  Then either side gathered their men
together in great strength.

Geir the Priest and Gizur the White stood at the court of the men
of Rangriver looking north, and Gunnar and Njal stood looking
south towards the court.

Geir the Priest bade Gunnar to listen to his oath, and then he
took the oath, and afterwards declared his suit.

Then he let men bear witness of the notice given by the suit;
then he called upon the neighbours who were to form the inquest
to take their seats; then he called on Gunnar to challenge the
inquest; and then he called on the inquest to utter their
finding.  Then the neighbours who were summoned on the inquest
went to the court and took witness, and said that there was a bar
to their finding in the suit as to Audulf's slaying, because the
next of kin who ought to follow it up was in Norway, and so they
had nothing to do with that suit.

After that they uttered their finding in the suit as to Otkell,
and brought in Gunnar as truly guilty of killing him.

Then Geir the Priest called on Gunnar for his defence, and took
witness of all the steps in the suit which had been proved.

Then Gunnar, in his turn, called on Geir the Priest to listen to
his oath, and to the defence which he was about to bring forward
in the suit.  Then he took the oath and said, "This defence I
make to this suit, that I took witness and outlawed Otkell before
my neighbours for that bloody wound which I got when Otkell gave
me a hurt with his spur; but thee, Geir the Priest, I forbid by a
lawful protest made before a priest, to pursue this suit, and so,
too, I forbid the judges to hear it; and with this I make all the
steps hitherto taken in this suit void and of none-effect.  I
forbid thee by a lawful protest, a full, fair, and binding
protest, as I have a right to forbid thee by the common custom of
the Thing and by the law of the land.

"Besides, I will tell thee something else which I mean to do,"
says Gunnar.

"What!" says Geir, "wilt thou challenge me to the island as thou
art wont, and not bear the law?"

"Not that," says Gunnar; "I shall summon thee at the Hill of Laws
for that thou calledst those men on the inquest who had no right
to deal with Audulf's slaying, and I will declare thee for that
guilty of outlawry."

Then Njal said, "Things must not take this turn, for the only end
of it will be that this strife will be carried to the uttermost. 
Each of you, as it seems to me, has much on his side.  There are
some of these manslaughters, Gunnar, about which thou canst say
nothing to hinder the court from finding thee guilty; but thou
hast set on foot a suit against Geir, in which he, too, must be
found guilty.  Thou too, Geir the Priest, shalt know that this
suit of outlawry which hangs over thee shall not fall to the
ground if thou wilt not listen to my words."

Thorod the Priest said, "It seems to us as though the most
peaceful way would be that a settlement and atonement were come
to in the suit.  But why sayest thou so little, Gizur the White?"

"It seems to me," says Gizur, "as though we shall need to have
strong props for our suit; we may see, too, that Gunnar's friends
stand near him, and so the best turn for us that things can take
will be that good men and true should utter an award on the suit,
if Gunnar so wills it."

"I have ever been willing to make matters up," says Gunnar; "and
besides, ye have much wrong to follow up, but still I think I was
hard driven to do as I did."

And now the end of those suits was, by the counsel of the wisest
men, that all the suits were put to arbitration; six men were to
make this award, and it was uttered there and then at the Thing.

The award was that Skamkell should be unatoned.  The blood money
for Otkell's death was to be set off against the hurt Gunnar got
from the spur; and as for the rest of the manslaughters, they
were paid for after the worth of the men, and Gunnar's kinsmen
gave money so that all the fines might be paid up at the Thing.

Then Geir the Priest and Gizur the White went up and gave Gunnar
pledges that they would keep the peace in good faith.

Gunnar rode home from the Thing, and thanked men for their help,
and gave gifts to many, and got the greatest honour from the

Now Gunnar sits at home in his honour.


(1)  Thorod's mother was Thorvor, she was daughter of Thormod
     Skapti's son, son of Oleif the Broad, son of Oliver


There was a man named Starkad; he was a son of Bork the Waxy-
toothed-blade, the son of Thorkell Clubfoot, who took the land
round about Threecorner as the first settler.  His wife's name
was Hallbera (1).  The sons of Starkad and Hallbera were these:
Thorgeir and Bork and Thorkell.  Hildigunna the Leech was their

They were very proud men in temper, hard-hearted and unkind. 
They treated men wrongfully.

There was a man named Egil; he was a son of Kol, who took land as
a settler between Storlek and Reydwater.  The brother of Egil was
Aunund of Witchwood, father of Hall the Strong, who was at the
slaying of Holt-Thorir with the sons of Kettle the Smooth-

Egil kept house at Sandgil; his sons were these: Kol, and Ottar,
and Hauk.  Their mother's name was Steinvor; she was Starkad's

Egil's sons were tall and strifeful; they were most unfair men. 
They were always on one side with Starkad's sons.  Their sister
was Gudruna Nightsun, and she was the bestbred of women.

Egil had taken into his house two Easterlings; the one's name was
Thorir and the other's Thorgrim.  They were not long come out
hither for the first time, and were wealthy and beloved by their
friends; they were well skilled in arms, too, and dauntless in

Starkad had a good horse of chesnut hue, and it was thought that
no horse was his match in fight.  Once it happened that these
brothers from Sandgil were away under the Threecorner.  They had
much gossip about all the householders in the Fleetlithe, and
they fell at last to asking whether there was any one that would
fight a horse against them.

But there were some men there who spoke so as to flatter and
honour them, that not only was there no one who would dare do
that, but that there was no one that had such a horse

Then Hildigunna answered, "I know that man who will dare to fight
horses with you."

"Name him," they say.

"Gunnar has a brown horse," she says, "and he will dare to fight
his horse against you, and against any one else."

"As for you women," they say, "you think no one can be Gunnar's
match; but though Geir the Priest or Gizur the White have come
off with shame from before him, still it is not settled that we
shall fare in the same way."

"Ye will fare much worse," she says: and so there arose out of
this the greatest strife between them.  Then Starkad said, "My
will is that ye try your hands on Gunnar last of all; for ye will
find it hard work to go against his good luck."

"Thou wilt give us leave, though, to offer him a horsefight?"

"I will give you leave, if ye play him no trick."

They said they would be sure to do what their father said.

Now they rode to Lithend; Gunnar was at home, and went out, and
Kolskegg and Hjort went with him, and they gave them a hearty
welcome, and asked whither they meant to go?

"No farther than hither," they say. "We are told that thou hast a
good horse, and we wish to challenge thee to a horse-fight."

"Small stories can go about my horse," says Gunnar; "he is young
and untried in every way."

"But still thou wilt be good enough to have the fight, for
Hildigunna guessed that thou wouldest be easy in matching thy

"How came ye to talk about that?" says Gunnar.

"There were some men," say they, "who were sure that no one would
dare to fight his horse with ours."

"I would dare to fight him," says Gunnar; "but I think that was
spitefully said."

"Shall we look upon the match as made, then?" they asked.

"Well, your journey will seem to you better if ye have your way
in this; but still I will beg this of you, that we so fight our
horses that we make sport for each other, but that no quarrel may
arise from it, and that ye put no shame upon me; but if ye do to
me as ye do to others, then there will be no help for it but that
I shall give you such a buffet as it will seem hard to you to put
up with.  In a word, I shall do then just as ye do first."

Then they ride home.  Starkad asked how their journey had gone
off; they said that Gunnar had made their going good.

"He gave his word to fight his horse, and we settled when and
where the horse-fight should be; but it was plain in everything
that he thought he fell short of us, and he begged and prayed to
get off."

"It will often be found," says Hildigunna, "that Gunnar is slow
to be drawn into quarrels, but a hard hitter if he cannot avoid

Gunnar rode to see Njal, and told him of the horse-fight, and
what words had passed between them, "But how dost thou think the
horse-fight will turn out?"

"Thou wilt be uppermost," says Njal, "but yet many a man's bane
will arise out of this fight."

"Will my bane perhaps come out of it?" asks Gunnar.

"Not out of this," says Njal; "but still they will bear in mind
both the old and the new feud who fare against thee, and thou
wilt have naught left for it but to yield."

Then Gunnar rode home.


(1)  She was daughter of Hroald the Red and Hildigunna Thorstein
     Titling's daughter.  The mother of Hildigunna was Aud Eyvind
     Karf's daughter, the sister of Modolf the Wise of Mosfell,
     from whom the Modylfings are sprung.


Just then Gunnar heard of the death of his father-in-law
Hauskuld; a few nights after, Thorgerda, Thrain's wife, was
delivered at Gritwater, and gave birth to a boy child.  Then she
sent a man to her mother, and bade her choose whether it should
be called Glum or Hauskuld.  She bade call it Hauskuld.  So that
name was given to the boy.

Gunnar and Hallgerda had two sons, the one's name was Hogni and
the other's Grani.  Hogni was a brave man of few words,
distrustful and slow to believe, but truthful.

Now men ride to the horse-fight, and a very great crowd is
gathered together there.  Gunnar was there and his brothers, and
the sons of Sigfus.  Njal and all his sons.  There too was come
Starkad and his sons, and Egil and his sons, and they said to
Gunnar that now they would lead the horses together.

Gunnar said, "That was well."

Skarphedinn said, "Wilt thou that I drive thy horse, kinsman

"I will not have that," says Gunnar.

"It wouldn't be amiss though," says Skarphedinn; "we are hot-
headed on both sides."

"Ye would say or do little," says Gunnar, "before a quarrel would
spring up; but with me it will take longer, though it will be all
the same in the end."

After that the horses were led together; Gunnar busked him to
drive his horse, but Skarphedinn led him out.  Gunnar was in a
red kirtle, and had about his loins a broad belt, and a great
riding-rod in his hand.

Then the horses ran at one another, and bit each other long, so
that there was no need for any one to touch them, and that was
the greatest sport.

Then Thorgeir and Kol made up their minds that they would push
their horse forward just as the horses rushed together, and see
if Gunnar would fall before him.

Now the horses ran at one another again, and both Thorgeir and
Kol ran alongside their horses' flank.

Gunnar pushes his horse against them, and what happened in a
trice was this, that Thorgeir and his brother fall down flat on
their backs, and their horse a-top of them.

Then they spring up and rush at Gunnar.  Gunnar swings himself
free and seizes Kol, casts him down on the field, so that he lies
senseless.  Thorgeir Starkad's son smote Gunnar's horse such a
blow that one of his eyes started out.  Gunnar smote Thorgeir
with his riding-rod, and down falls Thorgeir senseless; but
Gunnar goes to his horse, and said to Kolskegg, "Cut off the
horse's head; he shall not live a maimed and blemished beast."

So Kolskegg cut the head off the horse.

Then Thorgeir got on his feet and took his weapons, and wanted to
fly at Gunnar, but that was stopped, and there was a great throng
and crush.

Skarphedinn said, "This crowd wearies me, and it is far more
manly that men should fight it out with weapons; and so he sang a

     "At the Thing there is a throng;
     Past all bounds the crowding comes;
     Hard 'twill be to patch up peace
     'Twixt the men.  This wearies me;
     Worthier is it far for men
     Weapons red with gore to stain;
     I for one would sooner tame
     Hunger huge of cub of wolf."

Gunnar was still, so that one man held him, and spoke no ill

Njal tried to bring about a settlement, or to get pledges of
peace; but Thorgeir said he would neither give nor take peace;
far rather, he said, would he see Gunnar dead for the blow.

Kolskegg said, "Gunnar has before now stood too fast, than that
he should have fallen for words alone, and so it will be again."

Now men ride away from the horse-field, every one to his home. 
They make no attack on Gunnar, and so that halfyear passed away. 
At the Thing, the summer after, Gunnar met Olaf the peacock, his
cousin, and he asked him to come and see him, but yet bade him be
ware of himself; "For," says he, "they will do us all the harm
they can, and mind and fare always with many men at thy back."

He gave him much good counsel beside, and they agreed that there
should be the greatest friendship between them.


Asgrim Ellidagrim's son had a suit to follow up at the Thing
against Wolf Uggis' son.  It was a matter of inheritance.  Asgrim
took it up in such a way as was seldom his wont; for there was a
bar to his suit, and the bar was this, that he had summoned five
neighbours to bear witness, when he ought to have summoned nine. 
And now they have this as their bar.

Then Gunnar spoke and said,"I will challenge thee to single
combat on the island, Wolf Uggis' son, if men are not to get
their rights by law; and Njal and my friend Helgi would like that
I should take some share in defending thy cause, Asgrim, if they
were not here themselves."

"But," says Wolf, "this quarrel is not one between thee and me."

"Still it shall be as good as though it were," says Gunnar.

And the end of the suit was, that Wolf had to pay down all the

Then Asgrim said to Gunnar, "I will ask thee to come and see me
this summer, and I will ever be with thee in lawsuits, and never
against thee."

Gunnar rides home from the Thing, and a little while after he and
Njal met.  Njal besought Gunnar to be ware of himself, and said
he had been told that those away under the Threecorner meant to
fall on him, and bade him never go about with a small company,
and always to have his weapons with him.  Gunnar said so it
should be, and told him that Asgrim had asked him to pay him a
visit, "and I mean to go now this harvest."

"Let no men know before thou farest how long thou wilt be away,"
said Njal; "but, besides, I beg thee to let my sons ride with
thee, and then no attack will be made on thee."

So they settled that among themselves.

Now the summer wears away till it was eight weeks to winter, and
then Gunnar says to Kolskegg, "Make thee ready to ride, for we
shall ride to a feast at Tongue."

"Shall we say anything about it to Njal's sons?" said Kolskegg.

"No," says Gunnar; "they shall fall into no quarrels for me."


They rode three together, Gunnar and his brothers.  Gunnar had
the bill and his sword, Oliver's gift; but Kolskegg had his short
sword; Hjort, too, had proper weapons.

Now they rode to Tongue, and Asgrim gave them a hearty welcome,
and they were there some while.  At last they gave it out that
they meant to go home there and then.  Asgrim gave them good
gifts, and offered to ride east with them, but Gunnar said there
was no need of any such thing; and so he did not go.

Sigurd Swinehead was the name of a man who dwelt by Thurso water.

He came to the farm under the Threecorner, for he had given his
word to keep watch on Gunnar's doings, and so he went and told
them of his journey home; "and," quoth he, "there could never be
a finer chance than just now, when he has only two men with him."

"How many men shall we need to have to lie in wait for him?" says

"Weak men shall be as nothing before him," he says; "and it is
not safe to have fewer than thirty men."

"Where shall we lie in wait?"

"By Knafaholes," he says; "there he will not see us before he
comes on us."

"Go thou to Sandgil and tell Egil that fifteen of them must busk
themselves thence, and now other fifteen will go hence to

Thorgeir said to Hildigunna, "This hand shall show thee Gunnar
dead this very night."

"Nay, but I guess," says she, "that thou wilt hang thy head after
ye two meet."

So those four, father and sons, fare away from the Threecorner,
and eleven men besides, and they fared to Knafaholes, and lay in
wait there.

Sigurd Swinehead came to Sandgil and said, "Hither am I sent by
Starkad and his sons to tell thee, Egil, that ye, father and
sons, must fare to Knafaholes to lie in wait for Gunnar."

"How many shall we fare in all?" says Egil.

"Fifteen, reckoning me," he says.

Kol said, "Now I mean to try my hand on Kolskegg."

"Then I think thou meanest to have a good deal on thy hands,"
says Sigurd.

Egil begged his Easterlings to fare with him.  They said they had
no quarrel with Gunnar; "and besides," says Thorir, "ye seem to
need much help here, when a crowd of men shall go against three

Then Egil went away and was wroth.

Then the mistress of the house said to the Easterling, "In an
evil hour hath my daughter Gudruna humbled herself, and broken
the point of her maidenly pride, and lain by thy side as thy
wife, when thou wilt not dare to follow thy father-in-law, and
thou must be a coward," she says.

"I will go," he says, "with thy husband, and neither of us two
shall come back."

After that he went to Thorgrim his messmate, and said, "Take thou
now the keys of my chests; for I shall never unlock them again. 
I bid thee take for thine own whatever of our goods thou wilt;
but sail away from Iceland, and do not think of revenge for me. 
But if thou dost not leave the land, it will be thy death."

So the Easterling joined himself to their band.


Now we must go back and say that Gunnar rides east over Thurso
water, but when he had gone a little way from the river, he grew
very drowsy, and bade them lie down and rest there.

They did so.  He fell fast asleep, and struggled much as he

Then Kolskegg said, "Gunnar dreams now."  But Hjort said, "I
would like to wake him."

"That shall not be," said Kolskegg, "but he shall dream his
dream out."

Gunnar lay, a very long while, and threw off his shield from him,
and he grew very warm.  Kolskegg said, "What hast thou dreamt,

"That have I dreamt," says Gunnar, "which if I had dreamt it
there, I would never have ridden with so few men from Tongue."

"Tell us thy dream," says Kolskegg.

Then Gunnar sang a song:

     "Chief, that chargest foes in fight!
     Now I fear that I have ridden
     Short of men from Tongue, this harvest;
     Raven's fast I sure shall break.
     Lord, that scatters Ocean's fire! (1)
     This, at least, I long to say,
     Kite with wolf shall fight for marrow
     Ill I dreamt with wandering thought."

"I dreamt, methought, that I was riding on by Knafaholes, and
there I thought I saw many wolves, and they all made at me; but I
turned away from them straight towards Rangriver, and then
methought they pressed hard on me on all sides, but I kept them
at bay, and shot all those that were foremost, till they came so
close to me that I could not use my bow against them.  Then I
took my sword, and I smote with it with one hand, but thrust at
them with my bill with the other.  Shield myself then I did not,
and methought then I knew not what shielded me.  Then I slew many
wolves, and thou, too, Kolskegg; but Hjort methought they pulled
down, and tore open his breast, and one methought had his heart
in his maw; but I grew so wroth that I hewed that wolf asunder
just below the brisket, and after that methought the wolves
turned and fled.  Now my counsel is, brother Hjort, that thou
ridest back west to Tongue."

"I will not do that," says Hjort; "though I know my death is
sure, I will stand by thee still."

Then they rode and came east by Knafaholes, and Kolskegg said,
"Seest thou, kinsman!  Many spears stand up by the holes, and men
with weapons."

"It does not take me unawares," says Gunnar, "that my dream comes

"What is best to be done now?" says Kolskegg; "I guess thou wilt
not run away from them."

"They shall not have that to jeer about," says Gunnar, "but we
will ride on down to the ness by Rangriver; there is some vantage
ground there."

Now they rode on to the ness, and made them ready there, and as
they rode on past them, Kol called out and said, "Whither art
thou running to now, Gunnar?"

But Kolskegg said, "Say the same thing farther on when this day
has come to an end."


1.   "Ocean's fire," a periphrasis for "gold."  The whole line is
     a periphrasis for "bountiful chief."


After that Starkad egged on his men, and then they turn down upon
them into the ness.  Sigurd Swinehead came first and had a red
targe, but in his other hand he held a cutlass.  Gunnar sees him
and shoots an arrow at him from his bow; he held the shield up
aloft when he saw the arrow flying high, and the shaft passes
through the shield and into his eye, and so came out at the nape
of his neck, and that was the first man slain.

A second arrow Gunnar shot at Ulfhedinn, one of Starkad's men,
and that struck him about the middle and he fell at the feet of a
yeoman, and the yeoman over him.  Kolskegg cast a stone and
struck the yeoman on the head, and that was his deathblow.

Then Starkad said, "'Twill never answer our end that he should
use his bow, but let us come on well and stoutly."  Then each man
egged on the other, and Gunnar guarded himself with his bow and
arrows as long as he could; after that he throws them down, and
then he takes his bill and sword and fights with both hands. 
There is long the hardest fight, but still Gunnar and Kolskegg
slew man after man.

Then Thorgeir, Starkad's son, said, "I vowed to bring Hildigunna
thy head, Gunnar."

Then Gunnar sang a song:

     "Thou, that battle-sleet down bringeth,
     Scarce I trow thou speakest truth;
     She, the girl with golden armlets,
     Cannot care for such a gift;
     But, O serpent's hoard despoiler!
     If the maid must have my head --
     Maid whose wrist Rhine's fire (1) wreatheth,
     Closer come to crash of spear."

"She will not think that so much worth having," says Gunnar; "but
still to get it thou wilt have to come nearer!"

Thorgeir said to his brothers, "Let us run all of us upon him at
once; he has no shield and we shall have his life in our hands."

So Bork and Thorkel both ran forward and were quicker than
Thorgeir.  Bork made a blow at Gunnar, and Gunnar threw his bill
so hard in the way, that the sword flew out of Bork's hand; then
he sees Thorkel standing on his other hand within stroke of
sword.  Gunnar was standing with his body swayed a little on one
side, and he makes a sweep with his sword, and caught Thorkel on
the neck, and off flew his head.

Kol Egil's son, said, "Let me get at Kolskegg," and turning to
Kolskegg he said, "This I have often said, that we two would be
just about an even match in fight."

"That we can soon prove," says Kolskegg.

Kol thrust at him with his spear; Kolskegg had just slain a man
and had his hands full, and so he could not throw his shield
before the blow, and the thrust came upon his thigh, on the
outside of the limb and went through it.

Kolskegg turned sharp round, and strode towards him, and smote
him with his short sword on the thigh, and cut off his leg, and
said, "Did it touch thee or not?"

"Now," says Kol, "I pay for being bare of my shield."

So he stood a while on his other leg and looked at the stump.

"Thou needest not to look at it," said Kolskegg; "'tis even as
thou seest, the leg is off."

Then Kol fell down dead.

But when Egil sees this, he runs at Gunnar and makes a cut at
him; Gunnar thrusts at him with the bill and struck him in the
middle, and Gunnar hoists him up on the bill and hurls him out
into Rangriver.

Then Starkad said, "Wretch that thou art indeed," Thorir
Easterling, "when thou sittest by; but thy host, and father-in-
law Egil, is slain."

Then the Easterling sprung up and was very wroth.  Hjort had been
the death of two men, and the Easterling leapt on him and smote
him full on the breast.  Then Hjort fell down dead on the spot.

Gunnar sees this and was swift to smite at the Easterling, and
cuts him asunder at the waist.

A little while after Gunnar hurls the bill at Bork, and struck
him in the middle, and the bill went through him and stuck in the

Then Kolskegg cut off Hauk Egil's son's head, and Gunnar smites
off Otter's hand at the elbow-joint.  Then Starkad said, "Let us
fly now.  We have not to do with men!"

Gunnar said, "Ye two will think it a sad story if there is naught
on you to show that ye have both been in the battle."

Then Gunnar ran after Starkad and Thorgeir, and gave them each a
wound.  After that they parted; and Gunnar and his brothers had
then wounded many men who got away from the field, but fourteen
lost their lives, and Hjort the fifteenth.

Gunnar brought Hjort home, laid out on his shield, and he was
buried in a cairn there.  Many men grieved for him, for he had
many dear friends.

Starkad came home, too, and Hildigunna dressed his wounds and
Thorgeir's, and said, "Ye would have given a great deal not to
have fallen out with Gunnar."

"So we would," says Starkad.


(1)  "Rhine's fire," a periphrasis for gold.


Steinvor, at Sandgil, besought Thorgrim the Easterling to take in
hand the care of her goods, and not to sail away from Iceland,
and so to keep in mind the death of his messmate and kinsman.

"My messmate Thorir," said he, "foretold that I should fall by
Gunnar's hand if I stayed here in the land, and he must have
foreseen that when he foreknew his own death."

"I will give thee," she says, "Gudruna my daughter to wife, and
all my goods into the bargain."

"I knew not," he said, "that thou wouldest pay such a long

After that they struck the bargain that he shall have her, and
the wedding feast was to be the next summer.

Now Gunnar rides to Bergthorsknoll, and Kolskegg with him.  Njal
was out of doors and his sons, and they went to meet Gunnar and
gave them a hearty welcome.  After that they fell a-talking, and
Gunnar said, "Hither am I come to seek good counsel and help at
thy hand."

"That is thy due," said Njal.

"I have fallen into a great strait," says Gunnar, "and slain many
men, and I wish to know what thou wilt make of the matter?"

"Many will say this," said Njal, "that thou hast been driven into
it much against thy will; but now thou shalt give me time to take
counsel with myself."

Then Njal went away all by himself, and thought over a plan, and
came back and said, "Now have I thought over the matter somewhat,
and it seems to me as though this must be carried through -- if
it be carried through at all -- with hardihood and daring. 
Thorgeir has got my kinswoman Thorfinna with child, and I will
hand over to thee the suit for seduction.  Another suit of
outlawry against Starkad I hand over also to thee, for having
hewn trees in my wood on the Threecorner ridge.  Both these suits
shalt thou take up.  Thou shalt fare too, to the spot where ye
fought, and dig up the dead, and name witnesses to the wounds,
and make all the dead outlaws, for that they came against thee
with that mind to give thee and thy brothers wounds or swift
death.  But if this be tried at the Thing, and it be brought up
against thee that thou first gave Thorgeir a blow, and so mayst
neither plead thine own cause nor that of others, then I will
answer in that matter, and say that I gave thee back thy rights
at the Thingskala-Thing, so that thou shouldest be able to plead
thine own suit as well as that of others, and then there will be
an answer to that point.  Thou shalt also go to see Tyrfing of
Berianess, and he must hand over to thee a suit against Aunund of
Witchwood, who has the blood feud after his brother Egil."

Then first of all Gunnar rode home; but a few nights after Njal's
sons and Gunnar rode thither where the bodies were, and dug them
up that were buried there.  Then Gunnar summoned them all as
outlaws for assault and treachery, and rode home after that.


That same harvest Valgard the Guileful came out to Iceland, and
fared home to Hof.  Then Thorgeir went to see Valgard and Mord,
and told them what a strait they were in if Gunnar were to be
allowed to make all those men outlaws whom he had slain.

Valgard said that must be Njal's counsel, and yet everything had
not come out yet which he was likely to have taught him.

Then Thorgeir begged those kinsmen for help and backing, but they
held out a long while, and at last asked for, and got a large sum
of money.

That, too, was part of their plan, that Mord should ask for
Thorkatla, Gizur the White's daughter, and Thorgeir was to ride
at once west across the river with Valgard and Mord.

So the day after they rode twelve of them together and came to
Mossfell.  There they were heartily welcomed, and they put the
question to Gizur about the wooing, and the end of it was that
the match should be made, and the wedding feast was to be in half
a month's space at Mossfell.

They ride home, and after that they ride to the wedding and there
was a crowd of guests to meet them, and it went off well. 
Thorkatla went home with Mord and took the housekeeping in hand,
but Valgard went abroad again the next summer.

Now Mord eggs on Thorgeir to set his suit on foot against Gunnar,
and Thorgeir went to find Aunund; he bids him now to begin a suit
for manslaughter for his brother Egil and his sons; "but I will
begin one for the manslaughter of my brothers, and for the wounds
of myself and my father."

He said he was quite ready to do that, and then they set out, and
give notice of the manslaughter, and summon nine neighbours who
dwelt nearest to the spot where the deed was done.  This
beginning of the suit was heard of at Lithend; and then Gunnar
rides to see Njal, and told him, and asked what he wished them to
do next.

"Now," says Njal, "thou shalt summon those who dwell next to the
spot, and thy neighbours; and call men to witness before the
neighbours, and choose out Kol as the slayer in the manslaughter
of Hjort thy brother: for that is lawful and right; then thou
shalt give notice of the suit for manslaughter at Kol's hand,
though he be dead.  Then shalt thou call men to witness, and
summon the neighbours to ride to the Allthing to bear witness of
the fact, whether they, Kol and his companions, were on the spot,
and in onslaught when Hjort was slain.  Thou shalt also summon
Thorgeir for the suit of seduction, and Aunund at the suit of

Gunnar now did in everything as Njal gave him counsel.  This men
thought a strange beginning of suits, and now these matters come
before the Thing.  Gunnar rides to the Thing, and Njal's sons and
the sons of Sigfus.  Gunnar had sent messengers to his cousins
and kinsmen, that they should ride to the Thing, and come with as
many men as they could, and told them that this matter would lead
to much strife.  So they gathered together in a great band from
the west.

Mord rode to the Thing and Runolf of the DaIe, and those under
the Threecorner, and Aunund of Witchwood.  But when they come to
the Thing, they join them in one company with Gizur the White and
Geir the Priest.


Gunnar, and the sons of Sigfus, and Njal's sons, went altogether
in one band, and they marched so swiftly and closely that men who
came in their way had to take heed lest they should get a fall;
and nothing was so often spoken about over the whole Thing as
these great lawsuits.

Gunnar went to meet his cousins, and Olaf and his men greeted him
well.  They asked Gunnar about the fight, but he told them all
about it, and was just in all he said; he told them, too, what
steps he had taken since.

Then Olaf said,"'Tis worth much to see how close Njal stands by
thee in all counsel."

Gunnar said he should never be able to repay that, but then he
begged them for help; and they said that was his due.

Now the suits on both sides came before the court, and each
pleads his cause.

Mord asked, "How it was that a man could have the right to set a
suit on foot who, like Gunnar, had already made himself an outlaw
by striking Thorgeir a blow?"

"Wast thou," answered Njal, "at Thingskala-Thing last autumn?"

"Surely I was," says Mord.

"Heardest thou," asks Njal, "how Gunnar offered him full
atonement?  Then I gave back Gunnar his right to do all lawful

"That is right and good law," says Mord, "but how does the matter
stand if Gunnar has laid the slaying of Hjort at Kol's door, when
it was the Easterling that slew him?"

"That was right and lawful," says Njal, "when he chose him as the
slayer before witnesses."

"That was lawful and right, no doubt," says Mord; "but for what
did Gunnar summon them all as outlaws?"

"Thou needest not to ask about that," says Njal, "when they went
out to deal wounds and manslaughter."

"Yes," says Mord, "but neither befell Gunnar."

"Gunnar's brothers," said Njal, "Kolskegg and Hjort, were there,
and one of them got his death and the other a flesh wound."

"Thou speakest nothing but what is law," says Mord, "though it is
hard to abide by it."

Then Hiallti Skeggi's son of Thursodale, stood forth and said. "I
have had no share in any of your lawsuits; but I wish to know
whether thou wilt do something, Gunnar, for the sake of my words
and friendship."

"What askest thou?" says Gunnar.

"This," he says, "that ye lay down the whole suit to the award
and judgment of good men and true."

"If I do so," said Gunnar, "then thou shalt never be against me,
whatever men I may have to deal with."

"I will give my word to that," says Hjallti.

After that he tried his best with Gunnar's adversaries, and
brought it about that they were all set at one again.  And after
that each side gave the other pledges of peace; but for
Thorgeir's wound came the suit for seduction, and for the hewing
in the wood, Starkad's wound.  Thorgeir's brothers were atoned
for by half fines, but half fell away for the onslaught on
Gunnar.  Egil's slaying and Tyrfing's lawsuit were set off
against each other.  For Hjort's slaying, the slaying of Kol and
of the Easterling were to come, and as for all the rest, they
were atoned for with half fines.

Njal was in this award, and Asgrim Ellidagrim's son, and Hjallti
Skeggi's son.

Njal had much money out at interest with Starkad, and at Sandgil
too, and he gave it all to Gunnar to make up these fines.

So many friends had Gunnar at the Thing, that he not only paid up
there and then all the fines on the spot, but gave besides gifts
to many chiefs who had lent him help; and he had the greatest
honour from the suit; and all were agreed in this, that no man
was his match in all the South Quarter.

So Gunnar rides home from the Thing and sits there in peace, but
still his adversaries envied him much for his honour.


Now we must tell of Thorgeir Otkell's son; he grew up to be a
tall strong man, true-hearted and guileless, but rather too ready
to listen to fair words.  He had many friends among the best men,
and was much beloved by his kinsmen.

Once on a time Thorgeir Starkad's son had been to see his kinsman

"I can ill brook," he says, "that settlement of matters which we
and Gunnar had, but I have bought thy help so long as we two are
above ground; I wish thou wouldest think out some plan and lay it
deep; this is why I say it right out, because I know that thou
art Gunnar's greatest foe, and he too thine.  I will much
increase thine honour if thou takest pains in this matter."

"It will always seem as though I were greedy of gain, but so it
must be.  Yet it will be hard to take care that thou mayest not
seem to be a truce-breaker, or peace-breaker, and yet carry out
thy point.  But now I have been told that Kolskegg means to try a
suit, and regain a fourth part of Moeidsknoll, which was paid to
thy father as an atonement for his son.  He has taken up this
suit for his mother, but this too is Gunnar's counsel, to pay in
goods and not to let the land go.  We must wait till this comes
about, and then declare that he has broken the settlement made
with you.  He has also taken a cornfield from Thorgeir Otkell's
son, and so broken the settlement with him too.  Thou shalt go to
see Thorgeir Otkell's son, and bring him into the matter with
thee, and then fall on Gunnar; but if ye fail in aught of this,
and cannot get him hunted down, still ye shall set on him over
and over again.  I must tell thee that Njal has "spaed" his
fortune, and foretold about his life, if he slays more than once
in the same stock, that it would lead him to his death, if it so
fell out that he broke the settlement made after the deed. 
Therefore shalt thou bring Thorgeir into the suit, because he has
already slain his father; and now, if ye two are together in an
affray, thou shalt shield thyself; but he will go boldly on, and
then Gunnar will slay him.  Then he has slain twice in the same
stock, but thou shalt fly from the fight.  And if this is to drag
him to his death he will break the settlement afterwards, and so
we may wait till then."

After that Thorgeir goes home and tells his father secretly. 
Then they agreed among themselves that they should work out this
plot by stealth.


Sometime after Thorgeir Starkad's son fared to Kirkby to see his
namesake, and they went aside to speak, and talked secretly all
day; but at the end Thorgeir Starkad's son gave his namesake a
spear inlaid with gold, and rode home afterwards; they made the
greatest friendship the one with the other.

At the Thingskala-Thing in the autumn, Kolskegg laid claim to the
land at Moeidsknoll, but Gunnar took witness, and offered ready
money, or another piece of land at a lawful price to those under
the Threecorner.

Thorgeir took witness also, that Gunnar was breaking the
settlement made between them.

After that the Thing was broken up, and so the next year wore

Those namesakes were always meeting, and there was the greatest
friendship between them.  Kolskegg spoke to Gunnar and said, "I
am told that there is great friendship between those namesakes,
and it is the talk of many men that they will prove untrue, and I
would that thou wouldst be ware of thyself."

"Death will come to me when it will come," says Gunnar, "wherever
I may be, if that is my fate."

Then they left off talking about it.

About autumn, Gunnar gave out that they would work one week there
at home, and the next down in the isles, and so make an end of
their hay-making.  At the same time, he let it be known that
every man would have to leave the house, save himself and the

Thorgeir under Threecorner goes to see his namesake, but as soon
as they met they began to talk after their wont, and Thorgeir
Starkad's son, said, "I would that we could harden our hearts
and fall on Gunnar."

"Well," says Thorgeir Otkell's son, "every struggle with Gunnar
has had but one end, that few have gained the day; besides,
methinks it sounds ill to be called a peace-breaker."

"They have broken the peace, not we," says Thorgeir Starkad's
son.  "Gunnar took away from thee thy cornfield; and he has taken
Moeidsknoll from my father and me."

And so they settle it between them to fall on Gunnar; and then
Thorgeir said that Gunnar would be all alone at home in a few
nights' space, "and then thou shalt come to meet me with eleven
men, but I will have as many."

After that Thorgeir rode home.


Now when Kolskegg and the house-carles had been three nights in
the isles, Thorgeir Starkad's son had news of that, and sends
word to his namesake that he should come to meet him on
Threecorner ridge.

After that Thorgeir of the Threecorner busked him with eleven
men; he rides up on the ridge and there waits for his namesake.

And now Gunnar is at home in his house, and those namesakes ride
into a wood hard by.  There such a drowsiness came over them that
they could do naught else but sleep.  So they hung their shields
up in the boughs, and tethered their horses, and laid their
weapons by their sides.

Njal was that night up in Thorolfsfell, and could not sleep at
all, but went out and in by turns.

Thorhilda asked Njal why he could not sleep?

"Many things now flit before my eyes," said he; "I see many
fetches of Gunnar's bitter foes, and what is very strange is
this, they seem to be mad with rage, and yet they fare without
plan or purpose."

A little after, a man rode up to the door and got off his horse's
back and went in, and there was come the shepherd of Thorhilda
and her husband.

"Didst thou find the sheep?" she asked.

"I found what might be more worth," said he.

"What was that?" asked Njal. 

"I found twenty-four men up in the wood yonder; they had tethered
their horses, but slept themselves.  Their shields they had hung
up in the boughs."

But so closely had he looked at them that he told of all their
weapons and wargear and clothes, and then Njal knew plainly who
each of them must have been, and said to him, "'Twere good
hiring if there were many such shepherds; and this shall ever
stand to thy good; but still I will send thee on an errand."

He said at once he would go.

"Thou shalt go," says Njal, "to Lithend and tell Gunnar that he
must fare to Gritwater, and then send after men; but I will go to
meet with those who are in the wood and scare them away.  This
thing hath well come to pass, so that they shall gain nothing by
this journey, but lose much."

The shepherd set off and told Gunnar as plainly as he could the
whole story.  Then Gunnar rode to Gritwater and summoned men to

Now it is to be told of Njal how he rides to meet these

"Unwarily ye lie here," he says, "or for what end shall this
journey have been made?  And Gunnar is not a man to be trifled
with.  But if the truth must be told then, this is the greatest
treason.  Ye shall also know this, that Gunnar is gathering
force, and he will come here in the twinkling of an eye, and slay
you all, unless ye ride away home."

They bestirred them at once, for they were in great fear, and
took their weapons, and mounted their horses and galloped home
under the Threecorner.

Njal fared to meet Gunnar and bade him not to break up his

"But I will go and seek for an atonement; now they will be finely
frightened; but for this treason no less a sum shall be paid when
one has to deal with all of them, than shall be paid for the
slaying of one or other of those namesakes, though such a thing
should come to pass.  This money I will take into my keeping, and
so lay it out that it may be ready to thy hand when thou hast
need of it."


Gunnar thanked Njal for his aid, and Njal rode away under the
Threecorner, and told those namesakes that Gunnar would not break
up his band of men before he had fought it out with them.

They began to offer terms for themselves, and were full of dread,
and bade Njal to come between them with an offer of atonement.

Njal said that could only be if there were no guile behind.  Then
they begged him to have a share in the award, and said they would
hold to what he awarded.

Njal said he would make no award unless it were at the Thing, and
unless the best men were by; and they agreed to that.

Then NjaI came between them, so that they gave each other pledges
of peace and atonement.

Njal was to utter the award, and to name as his fellows those
whom he chose.

A little while after those namesakes met Mord Valgard's son, and
Mord blamed them much for having laid the matter in Njal's hands,
when he was Gunnar's great friend.  He said that would turn out
ill for them.

Now men ride to the Althing after their wont, and now both sides
are at the Thing.

Njal begged for a hearing, and asked all the best men who were
come thither, what right at law they thought Gunnar had against
those namesakes for their treason.  They said they thought such a
man had great right on his side.

Njal went on to ask, whether he had a right of action against all
of them, or whether the leaders had to answer for them all in the

They say that most of the blame would fall on the leaders, but a
great deal still on them all.

"Many will say this," said Mord, "that it was not without a cause
when Gunnar broke the settlement made with those namesakes."

"That is no breach of settlement," says Njal, "that any man
should take the law against another; for with law shall our land
be built up and settled, and with lawlessness wasted and

Then Njal tells them that Gunnar had offered land for
Moeidsknoll, or other goods.

Then those namesakes thought they had been beguiled by Mord, and
scolded him much, and said that this fine was all his doing.

Njal named twelve men as judges in the suit, and then every man
paid a hundred in silver who had gone out, but each of those
namesakes two hundred.

Njal took this money into his keeping but either side gave the
other pledges of peace, and Njal gave out the terms.

Then Gunnar rode from the Thing west to the Dales, till he came
to Hjardarholt, and Olaf the Peacock gave him a hearty welcome. 
There he sat half a month, and rode far and wide about the Dales,
and all welcomed him with joyful hands.  But at their parting
Olaf said, "I will give thee three things of price, a gold ring,
and a cloak which Moorkjartan the Erse king owned, and a hound
that was given me in Ireland; he is big, and no worse follower
than a sturdy man.  Besides, it is part of his nature that he has
man's wit, and he will bay at every man whom he knows is thy foe,
but never at thy friends; he can see, too, in any man's face,
whether he means thee well or ill, and he will lay down his life
to be true to thee.  This hound's name is Sam."

After that he spoke to the hound, "Now shalt thou follow Gunnar,
and do him all the service thou canst."

The hound went at once to Gunnar and laid himself down at his

Olaf bade Gunnar to be ware of himself, and said he had many
enviers, "For now thou art thought to be a famous man throughout
all the land."

Gunnar thanked him for his gifts and good counsel, and rode home.

Now Gunnar sits at home for sometime, and all is quiet.


A little after, those namesakes and Mord met, and they were not
at all of one mind.  They thought they had lost much goods for
Mord's sake, but had got nothing in return; and they bade him set
on foot some other plot which might do Gunnar harm.

Mord said so it should be.  "But now this is my counsel, that
thou, Thorgeir Otkell's son shouldest beguile Ormilda, Gunnar's
kinswoman; but Gunnar will let his displeasure grow against thee
at that, and then I will spread that story abroad that Gunnar
will not suffer thee to do such things.  Then ye two shall some
time after make an attack on Gunnar, but still ye must not seek
him at home, for there is no thinking of that while the hound is

So they settled this plan among them that it should be brought

Thorgeir began to turn his steps towards Ormilda, and Gunnar
thought that ill, and great dislike arose between them.

So the winter wore away.  Now comes the summer, and their secret
meetings went on oftener than before.

As for Thorgeir of the Threecorner and Mord, they were always
meeting; and they plan an onslaught on Gunnar when he rides down
to the isles to see after the work done by his house-caries.

One day Mord was ware of it when Gunnar rode down to the isles,
and sent a man off under the Threecorner to tell Thorgeir that
then would be the likeliest time to try to fall on Gunnar.

They bestirred them at once, and fare thence twelve together, but
when they came to Kirkby there they found thirteen men waiting
for them.

Then they made up their minds to ride down to Rangriver and lie
in wait there for Gunnar.

But when Gunnar rode up from the isles, Kolskegg rode with him. 
Gunnar had his bow and his arrows and his bill.  Kolskegg had his
short sword and weapons to match.


That token happened as Gunnar and his brother rode up towards
Rangriver, that much blood burst out on the bill.

Kolskegg asked what that might mean.

Gunnar says, "If such tokens took place in other lands, it was
called `wound-drops,' and Master Oliver told me also that this
only happened before great fights."

So they rode on till they saw men sitting by the river on the
other side, and they had tethered their horses.

Gunnar said, "Now we have an ambush."

Kolskegg answered, "Long have they been faithless; but what is
best to be done now?"

"We will gallop up alongside them to the ford," says Gunnar, "and
there make ready for them."

The others saw that and turned at once towards them.

Gunnar strings his bow, and takes his arrows and throws them on
the ground before him, and shoots as soon as ever they come
within shot; by that Gunnar wounded many men, but some he slew.

Then Thorgeir Otkell's son spoke and said, "This is no use; let
us make for him as hard as we can."

They did so, and first went Aunund the Fair, Thorgeir's kinsman. 
Gunnar hurled the bill at him, and it fell on his shield and
clove it in twain, but the bill rushed through Aunund.  Augmund
Shockhead rushed at Gunnar behind his back.  Kolskegg saw that
and cut off at once both Augmund's legs from under him, and
hurled him out into Rangriver, and he was drowned there and then.

Then a hard battle arose; Gunnar cut with one hand and thrust
with the other.  Kolskegg slew some men and wounded many.

Thorgeir Starkad's son called out to his namesake, "It looks very
little as though thou hadst a father to avenge."

"True it is," he answers, "that I do not make much way, but yet
thou hast not followed in my footsteps; still I will not bear thy

With that he rushes at Gunnar in great wrath, and thrust his
spear through his shield, and so on through his arm.

Gunnar gave the shield such a sharp twist that the spearhead
broke short off at the socket.  Gunnar sees that another man was
come within reach of his sword, and he smites at him and deals
him his death-blow.  After that, he clutches his bill with both
hands; just then, Thorgeir Otkell's son had come near him with a
drawn sword, and Gunnar turns on him in great wrath, and drives
the bill through him, and lifts him up aloft, and casts him out
into Rangriver, and he drifts down towards the ford, and stuck
fast there on a stone; and the name of that ford has since been
Thorgeir's ford.

Then Thorgeir Starkad's son said, "Let us fly now; no victory
will be fated to us this time."

So they all turned and fled from the field.

"Let us follow them up now," says Kolskegg "and take thou thy bow
and arrows, and thou wilt come within bowshot of Thorgeir
Starkad's son."

Then Gunnar sang a song:

     "Reaver of rich river-treasure,
     Plundered will our purses be,
     Though to-day we wound no other
     Warriors wight in play of spears
     Aye, if I for all these sailors
     Lowly lying, fines must pay --
     This is why I hold my hand,
     Hearken, brother dear, to me."_

"Our purses will be emptied," says Gunnar, "by the time that
these are atoned for who now lie here dead."

"Thou wilt never lack money," says Kolskegg; "but Thorgeir will
never leave off before he compasses thy death."

Gunnar sang another song:

     "Lord of water-skates (1) that skim
     Sea-king's fields, more good as he,
     Shedding wounds' red stream, must stand
     In my way ere I shall wince.
     I, the golden armlets' warder,
     Snakelike twined around my wrist,
     Ne'er shall shun a foeman's faulchion
     Flashing bright in din of fight."

"He, and a few more as good as he," says Gunnar, "must stand in
my path ere I am afraid of them."

After that they ride home and tell the tidings.  Hallgerda was
well pleased to hear them, and praised the deed much.

Rannveig said, "May be the deed is good; but somehow," she says,
"I feel too downcast about it to think that good can come of it."


(1)  "Water-skates," a periphrasis for ships.