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 warning."
"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 unatoned."
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 silver."
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.