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To Ch. 13.  Earl Sigurd and Brian's Battle.


84.  Now it must be told how Njal's sons, Grim and Helgi, left Iceland the same summer that Thrain and his fellows went abroad;  and were aboard ship with Olaf Kettle's son of Elda, and Bard.  They got so strong a wind from the north that then they were driven south into the main;  and so thick a mist drove over them that they could not tell whither they were going, and they were out a long while.  Then they came to where was a great ground-sea, and thought they must be near land.  Njal's sons asked if Bard could tell at all to what lands they were likely to be nearest.  "Many lands there are," said he, "after the set of wind that we have had, the Orkneys, or Scotland, or Ireland."  Two nights after they saw land on both boards, and a great surf running up in the firth.  They cast anchor outside the breakers.  Then the wind began to fall;  and next morning it was clear.  Then they see thirteen ships coming out towards them.  Then Bard spoke and said, "What counsel shall we take now, for these men must be going to make an onslaught on us?"  So they took counsel whether they should defend themselves or yield, but before they could make up their minds the vikings were upon them.  Then each side asked the other their names, and what their leaders were called.  Then the leaders of the chapmen told their names, and asked back who might lead that host.  One called himself Gritgard, and the other Snowcolf, sons of Moldan of Duncansby in Scotland, kinsmen of Malcolm the Scot king.  "And now," says Gritgard, "we have laid down two choices, one that ye go on shore, and we will take your goods;  the other is, that we fall on you and slay every man that we catch."  "The will of the chapmen," sais Helgi, "is to defend themselves."  Then the chapmen called out, "Wretch that thou art to speak thus!  What defence can we make?  Lading is less than life."  Grim, he fell upon a plan to shout out to the vikings, and would not let them hear the bad grumbling of the chapmen.  Bard and Olaf said, "Think ye not that these Icelanders will make game of your bad manners;  take rather your weapons and guard your goods."  Then they all seized their weapons and bound themselves, one with another, never to give up so long as they had strength to fight.

85.  Then the vikings shot at them and the fight began, and the chapmen guard themselves well.  Snowcolf sprang at Olaf, and thrust his spear through his body, but Grim thrust at Snowcolf with his spear, and so stoutly, that he fell overboard.  Then Helgi turned to meet Grim, and they drove down all the vikings, and Njal's sons were ever where there was most need.  The vikings called out to the chapmen and bade them give up, but they say they would never yield.  Just then some one looked seaward, and there they see ships coming from the south round the Ness, and they were not fewer than ten.  They row hard and steer thitherwards.  Along their sides were shield on shield, but on that ship that came first stood a man by the mast, who was clad in a silken jacket, and had a gilded helm, and his hair was both fair and thick;  that man had a spear inlaid with gold in his hand.  He asked "who have here such an uneven game?"  Helgi tells his name, and said that against them are Gritgard and Snowcolf.  "But who are your captains?"  he asks.  Helgi answered, "Bard the black, who lives, but the other who is dead and gone, was called Olaf."  "Are ye two men from Iceland?"  says he.  "Sure enough we are," Helgi answers.  He asked whose sons they were.  They told him, then he knew them and said, "Well known names have ye all, father and sons both."  "Who art thou?" says Helgi.  "My name is Kari, and I am Solmund's son."  "Whence comest thou?"  says Helgi.  "From the Southern isles."  "Then thou art welcome," says Helgi, "if thou wilt give us a little help."  "I'll give ye all the help ye need," says Kari;  "but what do ye ask?"  "To fall on them," says Helgi.  Kari says that so it shall be.  So they pulled up to them, and then the battle began the second time;  but when they had fought a while, Kari springs up on Snowcolf's ship;  he turns to meet him and smites at him with his sword.  Kari leaps nimbly backwards over a beam that lay athwart the ship.  Snowcolf smote the beam so that both edges of the sword were hidden.  Kari smites at him, and the sword fell on his shoulder, and the stroke was so mighty that he cleft in twain shoulder, arm, and all, and Snowcolf got his death there and then.  Gritgard hurled a spear at Kari.  Kari saw it and sprang up aloft, and the spear missed him.  Just then Helgi and Grim had come up both to meet Kari, and Helgi springs on Gritgard and thrusts his spear through him, and that was his deathblow;  after that they went round all the ships on both boards.  Then men begged for peace.  So they gave them all peace, but took all their goods.  After that they ran all the ships out under the islands.

86.  Sigurd was the name of an earl who ruled over the Orkneys;  he was the son of Hlodver, the son of Thorfinn the scull-splitter, the son of Turf-Einar, the son of Rognvald, earl of Mœren, the son of Eystein the noisy.  Kari was one of earl Sigurd's bodyguard, and had taken scatts in the Southern isles from earl Gilli.  Now Kari asks them to go to Hrossey, and said the earl would take to them well.  They agreed to that, and went with Kari and came to Hrossey.  Kari led them to see the earl, and said what men they were.  "How come they," says the earl, "to fall upon thee?"  "I found them," says Kari, "in Scotland's firths, and they were fighting with the sons of earl Moldan, and held their own so well that they threw themselves about between the bulwarks, from side to side, and were always there where the trial was greatest, and now I ask you to give them quarters among your bodyguard."  "It shall be as thou choosest," says the earl, "thou hast already taken so much for them on thy hands."  Then they were there with the earl that winter, and were worthily treated.  Helgi was silent as the winter wore on.  The earl could not tell what was at the bottom of that, and asked why he was silent, and what was on his mind.  "Thinkest thou it not good to be here?"  "Good, methinks, it is here," he says.  "Then what art thou thinking about?" says the earl.  "Hast thou any realm to guard in Scotland?" says Helgi.  "So we think," says the earl, "but what of that?"  "The Scots," says Helgi, "must have taken your steward's life, and stopped all news bearers, that none should cross the Pentland Firth."  "Hast thou the second sight?" said the earl.  "That has been little proved," says Helgi.  "Well," says the earl,  "I will increase thy honour if this be so, otherwise thou shalt smart for it."  "Nay," says Kari, "Helgi is not that kind of man, and like enough his words are sooth, for his father has the second sight."  After that the earl sent men south to Straumey (Stroma) to Arnljot, his steward there, and after that Arnljot sent them across the Pentland firth, and they spied out there and learnt that earl Hundi and earl Melsnati had taken the life of Havard in Thraswick, Sigurd's brother in law.  Then Arnljot sends word to earl Sigurd to come south with a great host and drive those earls out of his realm.  As soon as the earl heard that, he gathered together a mighty host.

87.  After that the earl set out with his host, and Kari went with him, and Njal's sons too.  They came south to Caithness.  The earl had these realms in Scotland --- Ross, and Moray, Sutherland, and the Dales.  There came to meet them men from those realms, and say that the earls were a short way off with a great host.  Then earl Sigurd turns with his host thither, and the name of that place is Duncansnip, beyond which they met.  And it came to a great battle between them.  The Scots had let some of their host go free from the main battle, and these took the earl's men in flank, and many men fell there till Njal's sons turned against the foe, and fought with them and put them to flight.  Then it came to a hard fight, and then Njal's sons turn back to the front by the earl's standard, and fought well.  Now Kari turns to meet earl Melsnati.  Melsnati hurled a spear at him, but Kari caught the spear and threw it back and through the earl.  Then earl Hundi fled, but they chased the fleers until they learnt that Malcolm was gathering a host together at Duncansby.  Then the earl took counsel with his men, and it seemed to all the best plan to turn back, and not to fight with such a mighty land force.  Then they turned back.  But when the earl came to Staumey they shared the battle spoil.  After that he went north to Hrossey, and Njal's sons and Kari followed him.  Then the earl made a great feast, and at that feast he gave Kari a good sword, and a spear inlaid with gold;  but he gave Helgi a gold ring and a mantle, and Grim a shield and sword.  After that he took Helgi and Grim into his bodyguard, and thanked them for their boldness.  They were with the earl that winter and the summer after, till Kari went sea roving.  They went with him, and harried far and wide that summer, and everywhere won the victory.  They fought against Godred, king of Man, and conquered him;  and after that they fared back, and had gotten much goods.  Next winter they were with the earl.  When the spring came Njal's sons asked leave to go to Norway.  The earl said they should go as they pleased, and he gave them a good ship and smart men.  Kari says he must come that summer to Norway with earl Hacon's scatts, and then they would meet;  and so it fell out that they gave each other their word as to that.  After that Njal's sons put out to sea and sailed for Norway, and made the land north near Drontheim. ***********

90.   ............ After that Kari fared west across the sea to meet earl Sigurd, and he greeted them (Kari and Njal's sons) very well, and they were with the earl that winter.  But when the spring came, Kari asked Njal's sons to go on warfare with him, but Grim said they would do so if he would fare with them afterwards out to Iceland.  Kari gave his word to do that.  Then they fared with him a sea roving.  They harried south about Anglesea and all the Southern isles.  Thence they held on to Cantyre, and landed there, and fought with the landsmen, and got thence much goods, and so fared to their ships.  Thence they fared south to Wales, and harried there.  Then they held on for Man.  There they met Godred king of Man and fought with him, and got the victory, and slew Dungal the king's son.  There they took great spoil.  Thence they held on north to Coll, and found earl Gilli there, and he greeted them well, and there they stayed with him a while.  The earl fared with them to the Orkneys to meet earl Sigurd.  But next spring earl Sigurd gave away his sister Nereid to earl Gilli.  Then he fared back to the Southern isles.

91.        That summer Kari and Njal's sons busked them for Iceland, and when they were "all-boun" they went to see the earl.  The earl gave them good gifts, and they parted with great friendship.  Now they put to sea and have a short passage, and they got a fine fair breeze, and made the land at Eyrar ..............

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