Njála, 051

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Chapter 51

Gunnar rode to the Thing and all the sons of Sigfus; Njal and his sons too, they all went with Gunnar; and it was said that no band was so well knit and hardy as theirs.

Gunnar went one day to the booth of the Dalemen; Hrut was by the booth and Hauskuld, and they greeted Gunnar well. Now Gunnar tells them the whole story of the suit up to that time.

"What counsel gives Njal?" asks Hrut.

"He bade me seek you brothers," says Gunnar, "and said he was sure that he and you would look at the matter in the same light."

"He wishes then," says Hrut, "that I should say what I think for kinship's sake; and so it shall be. Thou shalt challenge Gizur the White to combat on the island, if they do not leave the whole award to thee; but Kolskegg shall challenge Geir the Priest. As for Otkell and his crew, men must be got ready to fall on them; and now we have such great strength all of us together, that thou mayst carry out whatever thou wilt."

Gunnar went home to his booth and told Njal.

"Just what I looked for," said Njal.

Wolf Aurpriest got wind of this plan, and told Gizur, and Gizur said to Otkell, "Who gave thee that counsel that thou shouldst summon Gunnar?"

"Skamkell told me that was the counsel of both Geir the Priest and thyself."

"But where is that scoundrel?" says Gizur, "who has thus lied."

"He lies sick up at our booth," says Otkell.

"May he never rise from his bed," says Gizur. "Now we must all go to see Gunnar, and offer him the right to make his own award; but I know not whether he will take that now."

Many men spoke ill of Skamkell, and he lay sick all through the Thing.

Gizur and his friends went to Gunnar's booth; their coming was known, and Gunnar was told as he sat in his booth, and then they all went out and stood in array.

Gizur the White came first, and after a while he spoke and said, "This is our offer--that thou, Gunnar, makest thine own award in this suit."

"Then," says Gunnar, "it was no doubt far from thy counsel that I was summoned."

"I gave no such counsel," says Gizur, "neither I nor Geir."

"Then thou must clear thyself of this charge by fitting proof."

"What proof dost thou ask?" says Gizur.

"That thou takest an oath," says Gunnar.

"That I will do," says Gizur, "if thou wilt take the award into thine own hands."

"That was the offer I made a while ago," says Gunnar; "but now, methinks, I have a greater matter to pass judgment on."

"It will not be right to refuse to make thine own award," said Njal; "for the greater the matter, the greater the honour in making it."

"Well," said Gunnar, "I will do this to please my friends, and utter my award; but I give Otkell this bit of advice, never to give me cause for quarrel hereafter."

Then Hrut and Hauskuld were sent for, and they came thither, and then Gizur the White and Gier the Priest took their oaths; but Gunnar made his award, and spoke with no man about it, and afterwards he uttered it as follows:

"This is my award," he says; "first, I lay it down that the storehouse must be paid for, and the food that was therein; but for the thrall, I will pay thee no fine, for that thou hiddest his faults; but I award him back to thee; for as the saying is, 'Birds of a feather flock most together.' Then, on the other hand, I see that thou hast summoned me in scorn and mockery, and for that I award to myself no less a sum than what the house that was burnt and the stores in it were worth; but if ye think it better that we be not set at one again, then I will let you have your choice of that, but if so I have already made up my mind what I shall do, and then I will fulfil my purpose."

"What we ask," said Gizur, "is that thou shouldst not be hard on Otkell, but we beg this of thee, on the other hand, that thou wouldst be his friend."

"That shall never be," said Gunnar, "so long as I live; but he shall have Skamkell's friendship; on that he has long leant."

"Well," answers Gizur, "we will close with thee in this matter, though thou alone layest down the terms."

Then all this atonement was made and hands were shaken on it, and Gunnar said to Otkell, "It were wiser to go away to thy kinsfolk; but if thou wilt be here in this country, mind that thou givest me no cause of quarrel."

"That is wholesome counsel," said Gizur; "and so he shall do."

So Gunnar had the greatest honour from that suit,[1] and afterwards men rode home from the Thing.

Now Gunnar sits in his house at home, and so things are quiet for a while. [2]

References

  1. Gunnar had the greatest honour from that suit: "As Gunnar wins each battle and each legal skirmish, the reader feels the growing determination of Gunnar's enemies to procure his defeat. The battles in the courtroom complement the battles in the field contributing to the drama of the episode." Ordower, Henry. Exploring the Literary Function of Law and Litigation in "Njal's Saga." (p. 50).
  2. and so things are quiet for a while: "Rather, it [i.e. chapter 51] fulfills a narrative protocol to which the saga-author needs to bring some closure: he needs to offer a final assessment of the character of Hrútr to Gunnarr, and by this, to the audience. Recall that while negotiating the marriage deal for Hallgerðr, Gunnarr suspects Hrútr to be reluctant on account of a grudge. It is imperative that Hrútr let it be known that this is not the case, because his reluctance actually stems from his need to be truthful in all sexual dealings. He is still atoning for the lie that he told Gunnhildr." Fleming, Damian. Sex, lies and the Íslendingasögur (p. 7).

Kafli 51

Gunnar reið til þings og allir Sigfússynir, Njáll og hans synir. Þeir gengu með Gunnari allir og var það mælt að engi flokkur mundi jafnharðsnúinn þeim.

Gunnar gekk einn dag til búðar Dalamanna. Hrútur var við búð og Höskuldur og fögnuðu þeir vel Gunnari. Gunnar segir þeim nú málavöxt á þessu.

„Hvað leggur Njáll til ráðs?“ segir Hrútur.

„Hann bað mig finna ykkur bræður og segja svo að eitt ráð mundi honum um það sýnast sem ykkur.“

„Það vill hann þá,“ segir Hrútur, „að eg kveði upp fyrir vensla sakir og skal svo vera. Þú skalt skora á hólm Gissuri hvíta ef þeir bjóða þér eigi sjálfdæmi en Kolskeggur Geiri goða. En fást munu menn til að ganga að þeim Otkatli og höfum vér nú lið svo mikið allir saman að þú mátt fram koma slíku sem þú vilt.“

Gunnar gekk heim til búðar og sagði Njáli.

Úlfur aurgoði varð vís þessar ráðagerðar og sagði Gissuri.

Gissur mælti til Otkels: „Hver lagði það til ráðs með þér að þú skyldir stefna Gunnari?“

„Skammkell sagði mér að það væri ráðagerð ykkur Geirs goða.“

„En hvar er mannfýla sú,“ segir Gissur, „er þetta hefir logið?“

„Hann liggur sjúkur heima að búð,“ segir Otkell.

„Þar er hann standi aldrei upp,“ segir Gissur. „Nú skulum vér allir ganga að finna Gunnar og bjóða sjálfdæmi og veit eg þó eigi hvort hann vill þau nú taka.“

Margir menn mæltu illt við Skammkel og lá hann sjúkur um allt þingið.

Þeir Gissur gengu til búðar Gunnars. Kennd var för þeirra og var sagt Gunnari inn í búðina. Þeir gengu út allir og fylktu. Gissur hvíti gekk fyrstur.

Síðan mælti hann: „Það er boð vort,“ segir Gissur, „að þú, Gunnar, dæmir þetta mál.“

„Fjarri mun það þá þínu ráði er mér var stefnt,“ segir Gunnar.

„Eigi réð eg því,“ segir Gissur, „og hvorgi okkar Geirs.“

„Þá muntu synja þess með skynsemd.“

„Hvers beiðist þú?“ segir Gissur.

„Þess að þú vinnir eið,“ segir Gunnar.

„Það vil eg gera,“ segir Gissur, „ef þú vilt þiggja sjálfdæmið.“

„Það bauð eg fyrir stundu,“ segir Gunnar, „en þykir mér um meira að dæma.“

Njáll mælti: „Eigi er að níta sjálfdæminu, þess meiri sæmdar er fyrir vert, er meira er málið.“

Gunnar mælti: „Gera mun eg til skaps vina minna að dæma málið. En það ræð eg Otkatli að gera ekki til saka við mig síðan.“

Þá var sent eftir Höskuldi og Hrúti og komu þeir þangað til. Vann þá Gissur eið og Geir goði en Gunnar gerði gerðina og réðst við engan mann um og síðan sagði hann upp gerðina.

„Það er gerð mín,“ sagði hann, „að eg geri verð húss og matar þess er inni var. En fyrir þrælinn vil eg þér ekki bæta þar er þú leyndir annmarka á honum. En eg geri hann til handa þér því að þar eru eyru sæmst sem óxu. Met eg svo sem þér hafið stefnt mér til háðungar og fyrir því dæmi eg eigi minna til handa mér en vert er þetta fé, húsið og það er inni brann. En ef yður þykir betra að vér séum ósáttir þá læt eg þess enn kost en gert hefi eg þá enn eitt ráð fyrir mér og skal það þá fram koma.“

Gissur segir: „Það viljum vér að þú gjaldir eigi Otkatli en þess beiðum vér í mót að þú sért vinur Otkels.“

„Það skal verða aldrei meðan eg lifi og mun hann hafa vináttu Skammkels. Þeirri hefir hann lengi hlítt.“

Gissur segir: „Þó viljum vér nú lúka málinu þótt þú ráðir einn skildaganum.“

Voru þá handsalaðar þessar sættir allar.

Gunnar mælti til Otkels: „Ráðlegra er þér að fara til frænda þinna. En ef þú vilt vera þar í sveit þá gerðu ekki til saka við mig.“

Gissur mælti: „Þetta er heilræði og skal hann svo gera.“

Gunnar hafði mikla sæmd af málinu.[1] Riðu menn síðan heim af þingi. Situr nú Gunnar í búi sínu og er nú kyrrt um hríð.[2]

Tilvísanir

  1. Gunnar hafði mikla sæmd af málinu: "As Gunnar wins each battle and each legal skirmish, the reader feels the growing determination of Gunnar's enemies to procure his defeat. The battles in the courtroom complement the battles in the field contributing to the drama of the episode." Ordower, Henry. Exploring the Literary Function of Law and Litigation in "Njal's Saga." (s. 50).
  2. og er nú kyrrt um hríð: "Rather, it [i.e. chapter 51] fulfills a narrative protocol to which the saga-author needs to bring some closure: he needs to offer a final assessment of the character of Hrútr to Gunnarr, and by this, to the audience. Recall that while negotiating the marriage deal for Hallgerðr, Gunnarr suspects Hrútr to be reluctant on account of a grudge. It is imperative that Hrútr let it be known that this is not the case, because his reluctance actually stems from his need to be truthful in all sexual dealings. He is still atoning for the lie that he told Gunnhildr." Fleming, Damian. Sex, lies and the Íslendingasögur (s. 7).

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