Njála, 053

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Chapter 53

It happened next spring that Otkell said that they would ride east to the Dale, to pay Runolf a visit, and all showed themselves well pleased at that. Skamkell and his two brothers, and Audulf and three men more, went along with Otkell. Otkell rode one of the dun horses, but the other ran loose by his side. They shaped their course east towards Markfleet; and now Otkell gallops ahead, and now the horses race against each other, and they break away from the path up towards the Fleetlithe.

Now, Otkell goes faster than he wished, and it happened that Gunnar had gone away from home out of his house all alone; and he had a corn-sieve in one hand, but in the other a hand-axe. He goes down to his seed field and sows his corn there, and had laid his cloak of fine stuff and his axe down by his side, and so he sows the corn a while.

Now, it must be told how Otkell rides faster than he would. He had spurs on his feet, and so he gallops down over the ploughed field, and neither of them sees the other; and just as Gunnar stands upright, Otkell rides down upon him and drives one of the spurs into Gunnar's ear,[1] and gives him a great gash, and it bleeds at once much.

Just then Otkell's companions rode up.

"Ye may see, all of you," says Gunnar, "that thou hast drawn my blood, and it is unworthy to go on so. First thou hast summoned me, but now thou treadest me under foot, and ridest over me."

Skamkell said, "Well it was no worse, master, but thou wast not one whit less wroth at the Thing, when thou tookest the selfdoom and clutchedst thy bill."

Gunnar said, "When we two next meet thou shalt see the bill." After that they part thus, and Skamkell shouted out and said, "Ye ride hard, lads!"

Gunnar went home, and said never a word to any one about what had happened, and no one thought that this wound could have come by man's doing.

It happened, though, one day, that he told it to his brother Kolskegg, and Kolskegg said, "This thou shalt tell to more men, so that it may not be said that thou layest blame on dead men; for it will be gainsaid if witnesses do not know beforehand what has passed between you."

Then Gunnar told it to his neighbours, and there was little talk about it at first.

Otkell comes east to the Dale, and they get a hearty welcome there, and sit there a week.

Skamkell told Runolf all about their meeting with Gunnar,[2] and how it had gone off; and one man happened to ask how Gunnar behaved.

"Why," said Skamkell, "if it were a low-born man it would have been said that he had wept."

"Such things are ill spoken," says Runolf, "and when ye two next meet, thou wilt have to own that there is no voice of weeping in his frame of mind; and it will be well if better men have not to pay for thy spite. Now it seems to me best when ye wish to go home that I should go with you, for Gunnar will do me no harm."

"I will not have that," says Otkell; "but I will ride across the Fleet lower down."

Runolf gave Otkell good gifts, and said they should not see one another again.

Otkell bade him then to bear his sons in mind if things turned out so.

References

  1. and drives one of the spurs into Gunnar's ear : " Once the misfortune was perceived as a wrong, however, responsibility for it needed to be assessed, a wrongdoer had to be found and blamed. There was no problem of identification in the case of an accident. […] Gunnarr knew Otkell spurred him." Miller, William Ian. Dreams, Prophecy and Sorcery (p. 148)
  2. Skamkell told Runolf all about their meeting with Gunnar: ““[gossip] is not gendered (the oldest trick in the book is to say that women gossip, whereas men talk about work or sport, or whatever — a classic piece of social construction — though it does seem to be true that women and men often gossip according to different narrative strategies).” Wickham, Chris. Gossip and resistance among the medieval peasantry. (p. 11).

Kafli 53

Það var um vorið að Otkell mælti að þeir mundu ríða austur í Dal að heimboði og létu allir vel yfir því. Skammkell var í för með Otkatli og bræður hans tveir, Auðúlfur og þrír menn aðrir. Otkell reið hinum bleikálótta hesti en annar rann hjá laus. Stefna þeir austur til Markarfljóts. Hleypir hann nú fyrir Otkell. Ærast nú hestarnir báðir og hleypa af leiðinni upp til Fljótshlíðar. Fer Otkell nú meira en hann vildi.

Gunnar hafði farið heiman einn samt af bæ sínum og hafði kornkippu í hendi en í annarri hendi handöxi. Hann gengur á sáðland sitt og sáir þar niður korninu og lagði guðvefjarskikkju sína niður hjá sér og öxina og sáir nú korninu um hríð.

Nú er að segja frá Otkatli að hann ríður meira en hann vildi. Hann hefir spora á fótum og hleypir neðan um sáðlandið og sér hvorgi þeirra annan. Og í því er Gunnar stendur upp ríður Otkell á hann ofan og rekur sporann við eyra Gunnari[1] og rístur mikla ristu og blæðir þegar mjög. Þar riðu þeir félagar Otkels.

„Allir megið þér sjá,“ segir Gunnar, „að þú hefir blóðgað mig og er slíkt ósæmilega farið. Hefir þú stefnt mér fyrst en nú treður þú mig undir fótum og ríður á mig.“

Skammkell mælti: „Vel er við orðið en hvergi varst þú óreiðulegri á þinginu er þú hélst á atgeirinum.“

Gunnar mælti: „Þá er við finnumst næst skaltu sjá atgeirinn.“

Síðan skilja þeir að því.

Skammkell æpti upp og mælti: „Hart ríðið þér, sveinar.“

Gunnar gekk heim og gat fyrir öngum manni um og ætluðu engir að þetta mundi af mannavöldum vera. Einhverju sinni var það að hann sagði Kolskeggi bróður sínum.

Kolskeggur mælti: „Þetta skalt þú segja fleirum mönnum að eigi sé það mælt að þú gefir dauðum sök því að þrætt mun vera í móti ef eigi vita vitni áður hvað þér hafið saman átt.“

Gunnar sagði nábúum sínum og var lítil orðræða á fyrst.

Otkell kemur austur í Dal og er þar við þeim vel tekið og sitja þar viku. Skammkell sagði Runólfi allt hversu fór með þeim Gunnari.[2] Einn maður varð til að spyrja að því hversu Gunnar varð við.

Skammkell mælti: „Það mundi mælt ef ótiginn maður væri að grátið hefði.“

„Illa er slíkt mælt,“ segir Runólfur, „og muntu það eiga til að segja næst er þið finnist að úr sé grátraust úr skapi hans. Og væri vel ef eigi gyldu betri menn þinnar illsku. Líst mér nú hitt ráð þá er þér viljið heim fara að eg fari með yður því að Gunnar mun eigi gera mér mein.“

„Eigi vil eg það,“ segir Otkell, „og mun eg ríða neðarlega yfir fljótið.“

Runólfur gaf honum góðar gjafir og kvað þá eigi sjást mundu oftar. Otkell bað hann þá muna syni sínum ef svo bæri við.



Tilvísanir

  1. og rekur sporann við eyra Gunnari : " Once the misfortune was perceived as a wrong, however, responsibility for it needed to be assessed, a wrongdoer had to be found and blamed. There was no problem of identification in the case of an accident. […] Gunnarr knew Otkell spurred him." Miller, William Ian. Dreams, Prophecy and Sorcery (s. 148)
  2. Skammkell sagði Runólfi allt hversu fór með þeim Gunnari.: ““[gossip] is not gendered (the oldest trick in the book is to say that women gossip, whereas men talk about work or sport, or whatever — a classic piece of social construction — though it does seem to be true that women and men often gossip according to different narrative strategies).” Wickham, Chris. Gossip and resistance among the medieval peasantry. (s. 11).

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