Asgrim and his fellows went to Thorkel Foulmouth's booth, and Asgrim said then to his companions, "This booth Thorkel Foulmouth owns, a great champion, and it were worth much to us to get his-help. We must here take heed in everything, for he is self- willed and bad tempered; and now I will beg thee, Skarphedinn, not to let thyself be led into our talk."
Skarphedinn smiled at that. He was so clad, he had on a blue kirtle and grey breeks, and black shoes on his feet, coming high up his leg; he had a silver belt about him, and that same axe in his hand with which he slew Thrain, and which he called the "ogress of war," a round buckler, and a silken band round his brow, and his hair brushed back behind his ears. He was the most soldier-like of men, and by that all men knew him. He went in his appointed place, and neither before nor behind.
Now they went into the booth and into its inner chamber. Thorkel sate in the middle of the cross-bench, and his men away from him on all sides. Asgrim hailed him, and Thorkel took the greeting well, and Asgrim said to him, "For this have we come hither, to ask help of thee, and that thou wouldst come to the Court with us."
"What need can ye have of my help," said Thorkel, "when ye have already gone to Gudmund; he must surely have promised thee his help?"
"We could not get his help," says Asgrim.
"Then Gudmund thought the suit likely to make him foes," said Thorkel; "and so no doubt it will be, for such deeds are the worst that have ever been done; nor do I know what can have driven you to come hither to me, and to think that I should be easier to undertake your suit than Gudmund, or that I would back a wrongful quarrel."
Then Asgrim held his peace, and thought it would be hard work to win him over.
Then Thorkel went on and said, "Who is that big and ugly fellow, before whom four men go, pale-faced and sharp featured, and unlucky-looking, and cross-grained?"
"My name is Skarphedinn," said Skarphedinn, "and thou hast no right to pick me out, a guiltless man, for thy railing. It never has befallen me to make my father bow down before me, or to have fought against him, as thou didst with thy father. Thou hast ridden little to the Althing, or toiled in quarrels at it, and no doubt it is handier for thee to mind thy milking pails at home than to be here at Axewater in idleness. But stay, it were as well if thou pickedst out from thy teeth that steak of mare's rump which thou atest ere thou rodest to the Thing while thy shepherd looked on all the while, and wondered that thou couldst work such filthiness!"
Then Thorkel sprang up in mickle wrath, and clutched his short sword and said, "This sword I got in Sweden when I slew the greatest champion, but since then I have slain many a man with it, and as soon as ever I reach thee I will drive it through thee, and thou shalt take that for thy bitter words."
Skarphedinn stood with his axe aloft, and smiled scornfully and said, "This axe I had in my hand when I leapt twelve ells across Markfleet and slew Thrain Sigfus' son, and eight of them stood before me, and none of them could touch me. Never have I aimed weapon at man that I have not smitten him."
And with that he tore himself from his brothers, and Kari his brother-in-law, and strode forward to Thorkel.
Then Skarphedinn said, "Now, Thorkel Foulmouth, do one of these two things: sheathe thy sword and sit thee down, or I drive the axe into thy head and cleave thee down to the chine."
Then Thorkel sate him down and sheathed the sword, and such a thing never happened to him either before or since.
Then Asgrim and his band go out, and Skarphedinn said, "Whither shall we now go?"
"Home to our booths," answered Asgrim.
"Then we fare back to our booths wearied of begging," says Skarphedinn.
"In many places," said Asgrim, "hast thou been rather sharp- tongued, but here now, in what Thorkel had a share methinks thou hast only treated him as is fitting,"
Then they went home to their booths, and told Njal, word for word, all that had been done.
"Things," he said, "draw on to what must be."
Now Gudmund the Powerful heard what has passed between Thorkel and Skarphedinn, and said, "Ye all know how things fared between us and the men of Lightwater, but I have never suffered such scorn and mocking at their hands as has befallen Thorkel from Skarphedinn, and this is just as it should be."
Then he said to Einar of Thvera, his brother, "Thou shalt go with all my band, and stand by Njal's sons when the courts go out to try suits; but if they need help next summer, then I myself will yield them help."
Einar agreed to that, and sent and told Asgrim, and Asgrim said, "There is no man like Gudmund for nobleness of mind," and then he told it to Njal.