Njála, 035

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Chapter 35

Now it was the custom between Gunnar and Njal,[1] that each made the other a feast, winter and winter about, for friendship's sake;[2] and it was Gunnar's turn to go to feast at Njal's. So Gunnar and Hallgerda set off for Bergthorsknoll, and when they got there Helgi and his wife were not at home. Njal gave Gunnar and his wife a hearty welcome, and when they had been there a little while, Helgi came home with Thorhalla his wife. Then Bergthora went up to the crossbench, and Thorhalla with her, and Bergthora said to Hallgerda, "Thou shalt give place to this woman."[3]

She answered, "To no one will I give place, for I will not be driven into the corner for any one."

"I shall rule here," said Bergthora. After that Thorhalla sat down, and Bergthora went round the table with water to wash the guests' hands. Then Hallgerda took hold of Bergthora's hand, and said, "There's not much to choose, though, between you two. Thou hast hangnails on every finger, and Njal is beardless."

"That's true," says Bergthora, "yet neither of us finds fault with the other for it; but Thorwald, thy husband, was not beardless, and yet thou plottedst his death."

Then Hallgerda said, "It stands me in little stead to have the bravest man in Iceland if thou dost not avenge this, Gunnar!"

He sprang up and strode across away from the board, and said, "Home I will go, and it were more seemly that thou shouldest wrangle with those of thine own household, and not under other men's roofs; but as for NjaI, I am his debtor for much honour, and never will I be egged on by thee like a fool."

After that they set off home.

"Mind this Bergthora," said Hallgerda, "that we shall meet again."

Bergthora said she should not be better off for that. Gunnar said nothing at all, but went home to Lithend, and was there at home all the winter. And now the summer was running on towards the Great Thing.

References

  1. it was the custom between Gunnar and Njal : “Keeping good kinship did not come naturally. It required work and foresight to maintain the bonds in working order. This task was aided by norms of mutual aid and reciprocity.” Miller, William Ian. The Bonds of Kinship (p. 164).
  2. for friendship's sake : " But nowhere is perfect friendship better exhibited than in the epic Njáls saga, which details the virtuous friendship between Njáll Þorgeirsson and Gunnarr Hámundarson á Hlíðarendi, the two Icelandic farmers whose bond withstood numerous trials and was ‚stronger than the relationship of either man to his wife‘." Van Deusen, Natalie. Sworn Sisterhood? On the (Near-) Absence of Female Friendship from the Íslendingasogur (p. 56-7)
  3. Thou shalt give place to this woman.: "Thorhalla is of such social and political importance to Njal’s household that Bergthora is not about to play gracious hostess to Hallgerd to defuse a tense situation." Miller, William Ian. Making a Scene: Chapters 34–5, 48 (p. 57).

Kafli 35

Það var siðvandi þeirra Gunnars og Njáls[1] að sinn vetur þá hvor heimboð að öðrum fyrir vináttu sakir.[2] Þá átti Gunnar að sækja veturgrið að Njáli og fóru þau Gunnar og Hallgerður til Bergþórshvols. Þá voru þau Helgi eigi heima. Njáll tók vel við þeim Gunnari. Og þá er þau höfðu þar verið nokkura hríð kom Helgi heim og Þórhalla kona hans.

Þá gekk Bergþóra að pallinum og Þórhalla með henni og mælti Bergþóra til Hallgerðar: „Þú skalt þoka fyrir konu þessi.“[3]

Hún mælti: „Hvergi mun eg þoka því að engi hornreka vil eg vera.“

„Eg skal hér ráða,“ sagði Bergþóra.

Síðan settist Þórhalla niður.

Bergþóra gekk að borðinu með laugar.

Hallgerður tók höndina Bergþóru: „Eigi er kosta munur með ykkur Njáli. Þú hefir kartnagl á hverjum fingri en hann er skegglaus.“

„Satt er það,“ sagði Bergþóra, „en hvortgi okkart gefur það öðru að sök. En eigi var skegglaus Þorvaldur búandi þinn og réðstu honum þó bana.“

„Fyrir lítið kemur mér,“ segir Hallgerður, „að eiga þann mann er vaskastur mun á Íslandi ef þú hefnir eigi þessa, Gunnar.“

Hann spratt upp og steig fram yfir borðið og mælti: „Heim mun eg fara og er það maklegast að þú sennir við heimamenn þína en eigi í annarra manna híbýlum enda á eg Njáli marga sæmd að launa og mun eg ekki vera eggjanarfífl þitt.“

Síðan fóru þau heim.

„Mun þú það, Bergþóra,“ sagði Hallgerður, „að við skulum eigi skildar.“

Bergþóra sagði að ekki skyldi hennar hluti batna við það. Gunnar lagði ekki til og fór heim til Hlíðarenda og var heima allan veturinn. Líður nú sumarið til alþingis framan.

Tilvísanir

  1. Það var siðvandi þeirra Gunnars og Njáls : “Keeping good kinship did not come naturally. It required work and foresight to maintain the bonds in working order. This task was aided by norms of mutual aid and reciprocity.” Miller, William Ian. The Bonds of Kinship (s. 164).
  2. fyrir vináttu sakir : " But nowhere is perfect friendship better exhibited than in the epic Njáls saga, which details the virtuous friendship between Njáll Þorgeirsson and Gunnarr Hámundarson á Hlíðarendi, the two Icelandic farmers whose bond withstood numerous trials and was ‚stronger than the relationship of either man to his wife‘." Van Deusen, Natalie. Sworn Sisterhood? On the (Near-) Absence of Female Friendship from the Íslendingasogur (s. 56-7)
  3. Þú skalt þoka fyrir konu þessi.: "Thorhalla is of such social and political importance to Njal’s household that Bergthora is not about to play gracious hostess to Hallgerd to defuse a tense situation." Miller, William Ian. Making a Scene: Chapters 34–5, 48 (s. 57).

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