Njála, 006

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Chapter 6

Hrut stayed with the king that winter in good cheer, but when spring came he grew very silent. Gunnhillda finds that out, and said to him when they two were alone together, "Art thou sick at heart?"

"So it is," said Hrut, "as the saying runs--'Ill goes it with those who are born on a barren land.'"

"Wilt thou to Iceland?" she asks.

"Yes," he answered.

"Hast thou a wife out there?"[1] she asked; and he answers, "No.[2]"

"But I am sure that is true," she says; and so they ceased talking about the matter.

Shortly after Hrut went before the king and bade him Good-day; and the king said, "What dost thou want now, Hrut?"

"I am come to ask, lord, that you give me leave to go to Iceland."

"Will thine honour be greater there than here?" asks the king.

"No, it will not," said Hrut; "but every one must win the work that is set before him."

"It is pulling a rope against a strong man," said Gunnhillda, "so give him leave to go as best suits him."

There was a bad harvest that year in the land, yet Gunnhillda gave Hrut as much meal as he chose to have; and now he busks him to sail out to Iceland, and Auzur with him; and when they were "all-boun," Hrut went to find the king and Gunnhillda. She led him aside to talk alone, and said to him, "Here is a gold ring which I will give thee;" and with that she clasped it round his wrist.

"Many good gifts have I had from thee," said Hrut.

Then she put her hands round his neck and kissed him, and said, "If I have as much power over thee as I think, I lay this spell on thee[3] that thou mayst never have any pleasure in living with that woman on whom thy heart is set in Iceland, but with other women thou mayst get on well enough, and now it is like to go well with neither of us; but thou hast not believed what I have been saying."

Hrut laughed when he heard that, and went away; after that he came before the king and thanked him; and the king spoke kindly to him, and bade him "farewell." Hrut went straight to his ship, and they had a fair wind all the way until they ran into Borgarfirth.

As soon as the ship was made fast to the land, Hrut rode west home, but Auzur stayed by the ship to unload her and lay her up. Hrut rode straight to Hauskuldstede, and Hauskuld gave him a hearty welcome, and Hrut told him all about his travels. After that they send men east across the rivers to tell Fiddle Mord to make ready for the bridal feast; but the two brothers rode to the ship, and on the way Hauskuld told Hrut how his money-matters stood, and his goods had gained much since he was away. Then Hrut said, "The reward is less worth than it ought to be, but I will give thee as much meal as thou needst for thy household next winter."

Then they drew the ship on land on rollers, and made her snug in her shed, but all the wares on board her they carried away into the Dales westward. Hrut stayed at home at Hrutstede till winter was six weeks off, and then the brothers made ready and Auzur with them, to ride to Hrut's wedding. Sixty men ride with them, and they rode east till they came to Rangriver plains. There they found a crowd of guests, and the men took their seats on benches down the length of the hall, but the women were seated on the cross-benches on the dais, and the bride was rather downcast. So they drank out the feast and it went off well. Mord pays down his daughter's portion, and she rides west with her husband and his train. So they ride till they reach home. Hrut gave over everything into her hands inside the house, and all were pleased at that; but for all that she and Hrut did not pull well together as man and wife, and so things went on till spring, and when spring came Hrut had a journey to make to the Westfirths, to get in the money for which he had sold his wares; but before he set off his wife says to him, "Dost thou mean to be back before men ride to the Thing?"

"Why dost thou ask?" said Hrut.

"I will ride to the Thing," she said, "to meet my father."

"So it shall be," said he, "and I will ride to the Thing along with thee."

"Well and good," she says.

After that Hrut rode from home west to the Firths, got in all his money, and laid it out anew, and rode home again. When he came home he busked him to ride to the Thing, and made all his neighbours ride with him. His brother Hauskuld rode among the rest. Then Hrut said to his wife, "If thou hast as much mind now to go to the Thing as thou saidst a while ago, busk thyself and ride along with me."

She was not slow in getting herself ready, and then they all rode to the Thing. Unna went to her father's booth, and he gave her a hearty welcome, but she seemed somewhat heavy-hearted, and when he saw that he said to her, "I have seen thee with a merrier face. Hast thou anything on thy mind?"

She began to weep, and answered nothing. Then he said to her again. "Why didst thou ride to the Thing, if thou wilt not tell me thy secret? Dost thou dislike living away there in the west?"

Then she answered him, "I would give all I own in the world that I had never gone thither."

"Well!" said Mord, "I'll soon get to the bottom of this." Then be sends men to fetch Hauskuld and Hrut, and they came straightway; and when they came in to see Mord, he rose up to meet them and gave them a hearty welcome, and asked them to sit down. Then they talked a long time in a friendly way, and at last Mord said to Hauskuld, "Why does my daughter think so ill of life in the west yonder?"

"Let her speak out,"[4] said Hrut, "if she has anything to lay to my charge."

But she brought no charge against him. Then Hrut made them ask his neighbours and household how he treated her, and all bore him good witness, saying that she did just as she pleased in the house.

Then Mord said, "Home thou shalt go, and be content with thy lot; for all the witness goes better for him than for thee."

After that Hrut rode home from the Thing, and his wife with him, and all went smoothly between them that summer; but when spring came it was the old story over again, and things grew worse and worse as the spring went on. Hrut had again a journey to make west to the Firths, and gave out that he would not ride to the Althing, but Unna his wife said little about it. So Hrut went away west to the Firths.

References

  1. Hast thou a wife out there?: " The author of Njál’s Saga has converted this proud openness into secrecy, but he has kept the tenderness. When Hrútr thinks of returning to Iceland-like all good Icelanders, he grows melancholy in the alien court–Gunnhildr, apparently for the first time, asks about his private life there. ’Have you some woman out there–konu nökkura?" Dronke, Ursula. The Role of Sexual Themes in Njáls Saga (p. 190)
  2. and he answers, "No.": "A terse denial of fact is relatively rare in the sagas […] the most telling denial is Hrut’s concealing from Gunnhild the fact that he has a woman waiting for him in Iceland (eigi er þat) when she asks him." Taylor, Paul B. Wielders and Wasters of Words (p. 291)
  3. I lay this spell on thee : " Although less alliterative and rhythmic, it is clear from the use of the verb leggja á (“to lay a spell on”) that this utterance is explicity a curse and it is reminiscent of the Celtic geis, which is a command or injunction, usually laid by a woman on a man to force or prohibit him to act. The result is drastic for Hrutr: the curse, the audience is led to believe, causes marital problems and finally Hrutr’s divorce from Unnr, which of course has wider implications for the central feud in the saga." Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir. Women's Weapons (p. 421)
  4. Let her speak out: "Piqued in his sexual vanity, the normally fair Hrútr puts his wife Unnr in an impossible position when he challenges her publicly to declare the reason for her unhappiness in their marriage. His dysfunction is physiologically unlikely though poetically apt." Davis, Craig Robert. Cultural assimilation in "Njáls saga". (p. 442).

Kafli 6

Hrútur var með konungi um veturinn í góðu yfirlæti. En er voraðist gerist hann hljóður mjög.

Gunnhildur finnur það og mælti til hans er þau voru tvö saman: „Ert þú hugsjúkur?“

Hrútur sagði: „Það er sem mælt er, að illt er þeim er á ólandi er alinn.“

„Vilt þú til Íslands?“ segir hún.

„Það vil eg,“ sagði hann.

„Átt þú konu nokkura út þar?“[1] segir hún.

„Eigi er það,“ sagði hann.[2]

„Það hefi eg þó fyrir satt,“ segir hún.

Síðan hættu þau málinu.

Hrútur gekk fyrir konung og kvaddi hann.

Konungur mælti: „Hvað vilt þú nú, Hrútur?“

„Eg vil beiðast, herra, að þér gefið mér orlof að fara til Íslands.“

„Mun þín sæmd þar meiri en hér?“ segir konungur.

„Eigi mun það,“ sagði Hrútur, „en það verður hver að vinna er ætlað er.“

„Við ramman mun reip að draga,“ sagði Gunnhildur, „og leyfið þér honum að fara sem honum gegnir best.“

Þá var ært illa í landi en þó fékk Gunnhildur honum mjöl sem hann vildi hafa.

Nú býst hann út til Íslands og Össur með honum. Og er þeir voru albúnir gekk Hrútur að finna konung og Gunnhildi.

Hún leiddi hann á einmæli og mælti til hans: „Hér er gullhringur er eg vil gefa þér“ og spennti á hönd honum.

„Marga gjöf góða hefi eg af þér þegið,“ segir Hrútur.

Hún tók höndum um háls honum og kyssti hann og mælti: „Ef eg á svo mikið vald á þér sem eg ætla þá legg eg það á[3] við þig að þú megir engri munúð fram koma við konu þá er þú ætlar þér á Íslandi en fremja skalt þú mega vilja þinn við aðrar konur. Og hefir nú hvortgi okkað vel. Þú trúðir mér eigi til málsins.“

Hrútur hló að og gekk í braut.

Síðan gekk hann til móts við konung og þakkar honum. Konungur mælti vel til hans og bað hann vel fara.

Hrútur gekk þegar til skips og gaf honum vel byri og tóku Borgarfjörð. En þegar skip var landfast reið Hrútur vestur heim en Össur lét ryðja skipið. Hrútur reið á Höskuldsstaði. Höskuldur tók við honum vel og segir Hrútur honum allt um ferðir sínar. Síðan sendu þeir mann austur til Marðar gígju að búast við boði. En þeir riðu síðan bræður til skips og sagði Höskuldur Hrúti fjárhagi sína og hafði á græðst meðan hann var í brautu.

Hrútur mælti: „Minni munu verða launin er vert væri en fá vil eg þér mjöl svo sem þú þarft í bú þitt í vetur.“

Síðan réðu þeir skipinu til hlunns og bjuggu um en færðu allan varninginn vestur til Dala.

Var Hrútur heima á Hrútsstöðum til sex vikna.

Þá bjuggust þeir bræður og Össur með þeim að ríða til brúðlaups Hrúts og riðu við sex tigu manna. Þeir riðu þar til er þeir koma austur á Rangárvöllu. Þar var fjöldi fyrirboðsmanna. Skipuðust menn þar í sæti en konur skipuðu pall og var brúðurin döpur heldur. Drekka þeir veisluna og fer hún vel fram. Mörður greiðir fram heimanfylgju dóttur sinnar og ríður hún vestur með þeim. Þau riðu þar til er þau komu heim. Hrútur fékk henni ráð í hendur fyrir innan stokk og líkaði það öllum vel. En fátt var með þeim Hrúti um samfarar og fer svo fram allt til vors.

Og þá er voraði átti Hrútur fé í Vestfjörðum að heimta fyrir varning sinn. En áður hann fór talar kona hans við hann: „Hvort ætlar þú aftur að koma áður menn ríða til þings?“

„Hvað er að því?“ segir Hrútur.

„Eg vil ríða til þings,“ segir hún, „og finna föður minn.“

„Svo skal þá vera,“ sagði hann, „og mun eg ríða til þings.“

„Vel er það og,“ segir hún.

Síðan reið hann heiman og vestur í fjörðu og byggði allt féið og reið heim síðan.

Og er hann kom vestan þá býr hann sig til alþingis og lét ríða með sér alla nábúa sína. Höskuldur reið og, bróðir hans.

Hrútur mælti við konu sína: „Ef þér er jafnmikill hugur á að fara til þings sem þú lést þá bú þú þig og ríð til þings með mér.“

Hún bjó sig skjótt og síðan ríða þau á þing.

Unnur gekk til búðar föður síns. Hann fagnaði henni vel en henni var skapþungt nokkuð.

Og er hann fann það mælti hann til hennar: „Séð hefi eg þig með betra bragði eða hvað býr þér í skapi?“

Hún tók að gráta og svaraði engu.

Þá mælti hann við hana: „Til hvers reiðst þú til þings ef þú vilt eigi segja mér trúnað þinn eða þykir þér eigi gott vestur þar?“

Hún svaraði: „Gefa mundi eg til alla eigu mína að eg hefði þar aldrei komið.“

Mörður mælti: „Þessa mun eg skjótt vís verða.“

Þá sendi hann mann eftir þeim Höskuldi og Hrúti. Þeir fóru þegar. Og er þeir komu á fund Marðar stóð hann upp í móti og fagnaði þeim vel og bað þá sitja. Töluðu þeir lengi og fór tal þeirra vel.

Þá mælti Mörður til Höskulds: „Hví þykir dóttur minni svo illt vestur þar?“

Hrútur mælti: „Segi hún til[4] ef hún hefir sakagiftir nokkurar við mig.“

En þær urðu engar upp bornar við Hrút. Þá lét Hrútur eftir spyrja nábúa sína og heimamenn hversu hann gerði til hennar. Þeir báru honum gott vitni og sögðu hana eina ráða því sem hún vildi.

Mörður mælti: „Heim skalt þú fara og una vel við ráð þitt því að honum ganga öll vitni betur en þér.“

Síðan reið Hrútur heim af þingi og kona hans með honum og var nú vel með þeim um sumarið. En þá er voraði þá dró til vanda með þeim og var þess verr er meir leið á vorið.

Hrútur átti ferð vestur í fjörðu og lýsti því að hann mundi eigi til alþingis ríða. Unnur kona hans talaði fátt um. Hrútur fór í fjörðu vestur.

Tilvísanir

  1. Átt þú konu nokkura út þar?: " The author of Njál’s Saga has converted this proud openness into secrecy, but he has kept the tenderness. When Hrútr thinks of returning to Iceland-like all good Icelanders, he grows melancholy in the alien court–Gunnhildr, apparently for the first time, asks about his private life there. ’Have you some woman out there–konu nökkura?" Dronke, Ursula. The Role of Sexual Themes in Njáls Saga (s. 190)
  2. „Eigi er það,“ sagði hann: "A terse denial of fact is relatively rare in the sagas […] the most telling denial is Hrut’s concealing from Gunnhild the fact that he has a woman waiting for him in Iceland (eigi er þat) when she asks him." Taylor, Paul B. Wielders and Wasters of Words (s. 291)
  3. þá legg eg það á : " Although less alliterative and rhythmic, it is clear from the use of the verb leggja á (“to lay a spell on”) that this utterance is explicity a curse and it is reminiscent of the Celtic geis, which is a command or injunction, usually laid by a woman on a man to force or prohibit him to act. The result is drastic for Hrutr: the curse, the audience is led to believe, causes marital problems and finally Hrutr’s divorce from Unnr, which of course has wider implications for the central feud in the saga." Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir. Women's Weapons (s. 421)
  4. Segi hún til: "Piqued in his sexual vanity, the normally fair Hrútr puts his wife Unnr in an impossible position when he challenges her publicly to declare the reason for her unhappiness in their marriage. His dysfunction is physiologically unlikely though poetically apt." Davis, Craig Robert. Cultural assimilation in "Njáls saga". (s. 442).

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