Njála, 098

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Chapter 98

There was a man named Lyting; he dwelt at Samstede, and he had to wife a woman named Steinvora; she was a daughter of Sigfus, and Thrain's sister. Lyting was tall of growth and a strong man, wealthy in goods and ill to deal with.

It happened once that Lyting had a feast in his house at Samstede, and he had bidden thither Hauskuld and the sons of Sigfus, and they all came. There, too, was Grani Gunnar's son, and Gunnar Lambi's son, and Lambi Sigurd's son.

Hauskuld Njal's son and his mother had a farm at Holt, and he was always riding to his farm from Bergthorsknoll, and his path lay by the homestead at Samstede. Hauskuld had a son called Amund; he had been born blind, but for all that he was tall and strong. Lytina had two brothers--the one's name was Hallstein, and the other's Hallgrim. They were the most unruly of men, and they were ever with their brother, for other men could not bear their temper.

Lyting was out of doors most of that day, but every now and then he went inside his house. At last he had gone to his seat, when in came a woman who had been out of doors, and she said, "You were too far off to see outside how that proud fellow rode by the farm-yard!"

"What proud fellow was that," says Lyting "of whom thou speakest?"

"Hauskuld Njal's son rode here by the yard," she says.

"He rides often here by the farm-yard," said Lyting, "and I can't say that it does not try my temper; and now I will make thee an offer, Hauskuld, to go along with thee if thou wilt avenge thy father and slay Hauskuld Njal's son."[1]

"That I will not do," says Hauskuld, "for then I should repay Njal, my foster-father, evil for good, and mayst thou and thy feasts never thrive henceforth."

With that he sprang up away from the board, and made them catch his horses, and rode home.

Then Lyting said to Grani Gunnar's son, "Thou wert by when Thrain was slain, and that will still be in thy mind; and thou, too, Gunnar Lambi's son, and thou, Lambi Sigurd's son. Now, my will is that we ride to meet him this evening, and slay him."

"No," says Grani, "I will not fall on Njal's son, and so break the atonement which good men and true have made."[2]


With like words spoke each man of them, and so, too, spoke all the sons of Sigfus; and they took that counsel to ride away.

Then Lyting said, when they had gone away, "All men know that I have taken no atonement for my brother-in-law Thrain, and I shall never be content that no vengeance--man for man--shall be taken for him."

After that he called on his two brothers to go with him, and three house-carles as well. They went on the way to meet Hauskuld as he came back, and lay in wait for him north of the farm-yard in a pit; and there they bided till it was about mideven (1). Then Hauskuld rode up to them. They jump up all of them with their arms, and fall on him. Hauskuld guarded himself well, so that for a long while they could not get the better of him; but the end of it was at last that he wounded Lyting on the arm, and slew two of his serving-men, and then fell himself. They gave Hauskuld sixteen wounds, but they hewed not off the head from his body. They fared away into the wood east of Rangriver, and hid themselves there.

That same evening, Rodny's shepherd found Hauskuld dead, and went home and told Rodny of her son's slaying.

"Was he surely dead?" she asks; "was his head off?"

"It was not," he says.

"I shall know if I see," she says; "so take thou my horse and driving gear."

He did so, and got all things ready, and then they went thither where Hauskuld lay.

She looked at the wounds, and said, "'Tis even as I thought, that he could not be quite dead, and Njal no doubt can cure greater wounds."

After that they took the body and laid it on the sledge and drove to Bergthorsknoll, and drew it into the sheepcote, and made him sit upright against the wall.

Then they went both of them and knocked at the door, and a house- carle went to the door. She steals in by him at once, and goes till she comes to Njal's bed.

She asked whether Njal were awake? He said he had slept up to that time, but was then awake.

"But why art thou come hither so early?"

"Rise thou up," said Rodny, "from thy bed by my rival's side, and come out, and she too, and thy sons, to see thy son Hauskuld."

They rose and went out.

"Let us take our weapons," said Skarphedinn, "and have them with us."

Njal said naught at that, and they ran in and came out again armed.

She goes first till they come to the sheepcote; she goes in and bade them follow her. Then she lit a torch, and held it up and said, "Here, Njal, is thy son Hauskuld, and he hath gotten many wounds upon him, and now he will need leechcraft."

"I see death marks on him," said Njal, "but no signs of life; but why hast thou not closed his eyes and nostrils? see, his nostrils are still open!"

"That duty I meant for Skarphedinn," she says.

Then Skarphedinn went to close his eyes and nostrils, and said to his father, "Who, sayest thou, hath slain him?"

"Lyting of Samstede and his brothers must have slain him," says Njal.

Then Rodny said, "Into thy hands, Skarphedinn, I leave it to take vengeance for thy brother, and I ween that thou wilt take it well, though he be not lawfully begotten, and that thou wilt not be slow to take it."

"Wonderfully do ye men behave," said Bergthora, "when ye slay men for small cause, but talk and tarry over such as this until no vengeance at all is taken; and now of this will soon come to Hauskuld, the Priest of Whiteness, and he will be offering you atonement, and you will grant him that, but now is the time to set about it, if ye seek for vengeance. [3]

"Our mother eggs us on now with a just goading," said Skarphedinn, and sang a song.

"Well we know the warrior's temper, One and all, well, father thine, But atonement to the mother, Snake-land's stem and thee were base; He that hoardeth ocean's fire Hearing this will leave his home; Wound of weapon us hath smitten, Worse the lot of those that wait!"

After that they all ran out of the sheepcote, but Rodny went indoors with Njal, and was there the rest of the night.


References

  1. slay Hauskuld Njal's son: "Lyting had never once during those years found that sufficiently annoying to do anything untoward. Only one significant fact has changed in the universe that makes Lyting feel he can act on his grievance, or even articulate it. It is the emergence of Hoskuld Hvitanesspriest, as Hoskuld Thrainsson is known after getting his chieftaincy. Finally the Sigfussons again have a big man in their group to whom they can look for protection." Miller, William Ian. A Tale of Two Hoskulds: Chapters 93–9 (p. 170).
  2. good men and true have made: “this conjunction [of secular ideas of conflict resolution and religious ideas of appropriate behavior] is not recognized by Flosi, nor indeed by any of the other characters in the saga, with the exception of the 'good man' Hǫskuldr Þráinsson who, even as a child, knew that a settlement should be adhered to. Hǫskuldr's insight is not recognized by the other characters and it dies with him when he is killed.“ Jesch, Judith. "Good men" and peace in Njáls saga (p. 79).
  3. if ye seek for vengeance: "From Bergþóra´s egging of her sons to avenge their brother we get a small but sure hint that Höskuldr´s power has very much to do with their brother´s death." Miller, William Ian. Justifying Skarpheðinn (p. 337).

Kafli 98

Maður hét Lýtingur. Hann bjó á Sámsstöðum. Hann átti konu er Steinvör hét. Hún var Sigfúsdóttir, systir Þráins. Lýtingur var mikill maður vexti og styrkur, auðigur að fé og illur viðureignar.

Það var einhverju sinni að Lýtingur hafði boð inni á Sámsstöðum. Hann hafði þangað boðið Höskuldi og Sigfússonum og komu þeir allir. Þar var og Grani Gunnarsson og Gunnar Lambason og Lambi Sigurðarson.

Höskuldur Njálsson og móðir hans áttu bú í Holti og reið hann jafnan til bús síns frá Bergþórshvoli og lá leið hans um garð á Sámsstöðum. Höskuldur átti son er Ámundi hét. Hann hafði blindur verið borinn. Hann var þó mikill vexti og öflugur.

Lýtingur átti bræður tvo. Hét annar Hallsteinn en annar Hallgrímur. Þeir voru hinir mestu óreiðumenn og voru þeir jafnan með bróður sínum því að aðrir komu ekki skapi við þá.

Lýtingur var úti um daginn en stundum gekk hann inn. Hann gekk til sætis síns. Þá kom kona inn er úti hafði verið.

Hún mælti: „Of fjarri voruð þér úti er oflátinn reið um garð.“

„Hver ofláti var sá,“ segir Lýtingur, „er þú segir frá?“

„Höskuldur Njálsson reið hér um garð,“ segir hún.

Lýtingur mælti: „Oft ríður hann hér og er mér eigi skapraunarlaust og býðst eg til þess, Höskuldur, að fara með þér ef þú vilt hefna föður þíns og drepa Höskuld Njálsson.“[1]

„Það vil eg eigi,“ segir Höskuldur, „og launa eg þá verr en vera skyldi Njáli fóstra mínum og þrífstu aldrei fyrir heimboð“ og spratt upp undan borðinu og lét taka hesta sína og reið heim.

Lýtingur mælti þá til Grana Gunnarssonar: „Þú varst hjá er Þráinn var veginn og mun þér það minnisamt og svo þú, Gunnar Lambason, og Lambi Sigurðarson. Vil eg nú að vér ríðum að honum í kveld og drepum hann.“

„Nei,“ segir Grani, „ekki mun eg fara að Njálssonum og rjúfa sætt þá er góðir menn gerðu.“[2]

Slíkum orðum mælti hver þeirra og svo Sigfússynir og tóku það ráðs að ríða í braut.

Þá mælti Lýtingur er þeir voru í braut: „Það vita allir að eg hefi við engum bótum tekið eftir Þráin mág minn. Skal eg og aldrei una því að engi komi mannhefnd eftir hann.“

Síðan kvaddi hann til ferðar með sér bræður sína tvo og húskarla þrjá. Þeir fóru á leið fyrir Höskuld og sátu fyrir honum norður frá garði í gróf nokkurri og biðu þar til þess er var miður aftann. Þá reið að þeim Höskuldur. Þeir spretta þá upp allir með vopnum og sækja að honum. Höskuldur varðist svo vel að þeir fá eigi lengi sótt hann. En þar kom um síðir að hann særði Lýting á hendi en drap heimamenn hans tvo og féll síðan. Þeir særðu Höskuld sextán sárum en eigi hjuggu þeir höfuð af honum. Þeir fóru í skógana fyrir austan Rangá og fálu sig þar.

Þetta kveld hið sama hafði smalamaður Hróðnýjar fundið Höskuld dauðan og fór heim og sagði Hróðnýju víg sonar síns.

Hún mælti: „Ekki mun hann dauður eða var af höfuðið?“

„Eigi var það,“ segir hann.

„Vita mun eg ef eg sé,“ segir hún, „og taktu hest minn og akfæri.“

Hann gerði svo og bjó um með öllu og síðan fóru þau þangað sem Höskuldur lá.

Hún leit á sárin og mælti: „Svo er sem mig varði,“ segir hún, „að hann mundi ekki dauður með öllu og mun Njáll græða stærri sár.“

Síðan tóku þau líkið og lögðu í vagarnar og óku til Bergþórshvols og draga þar inn í sauðahús og láta hann sitja upp við vegginn. Síðan gengu þau heim bæði og drápu á dyr og gekk húskarl til dyra. Hún snarar þegar inn hjá honum og fer þar til er hún kemur að hvílu Njáls. Hún spurði hvort Njáll vekti. Hann kvaðst sofið hafa til þessa en kvaðst þá vaka „eða hví ertu hér komin svo snemma?“

Hróðný mælti: „Stattu upp úr binginum frá elju minni og gakk út og svo hún og synir þínir.“

Þau stóðu upp og gengu út.

Skarphéðinn mælti: „Tökum vér vopn vor og höfum með oss.“

Njáll lagði ekki til þess og hljópu þeir inn og gengu út vopnaðir. Fer hún fyrir til þess er þau koma að sauðahúsinu.

Hún gengur inn og bað þau ganga eftir.

Hún vatt upp skriðljósi og mælti: „Hér er Höskuldur son þinn, Njáll, og hefir fengið á sér sár mörg og mun hann nú þurfa lækningar.“

Njáll mælti: „Dauðamörk sé eg á honum en engi lífsmörk eða hví hefir þú eigi veitt honum nábjargir er opnar eru nasarnar?“

„Það ætlaði eg Skarphéðni,“ segir hún.

Skarphéðinn gekk að, veitir honum nábjargir.

Skarphéðinn mælti við föður sinn: „Hver segir þú að hann hafi vegið?“

Njáll svarar: „Lýtingur af Sámsstöðum mun hafa vegið hann og bræður hans.“

Hróðný mælti: „Þér fel eg á hendur, Skarphéðinn, að hefna bróður þíns og vænti eg að þér muni vel fara þó að hann sé eigi skilgetinn og þú munir mest eftir ganga.“

Bergþóra mælti: „Undarlega er yður kennt er þér vegið víg þau er yður rekur lítið til en meltið slíkt og sjóðið fyrir yður svo að ekki verður af og mun þegar spurn koma til Höskuldar Hvítanesgoða og beri hann biðja yður sætta og munuð þér veita honum það og er nú til að ráða ef þér viljið.“[3]

Skarphéðinn mælti: „Eggjar móðir vor oss lögeggjun.“

Síðan hljópu þeir út allir. Hróðný gekk inn með Njáli og var þar um nóttina.



Tilvísanir

  1. drepa Höskuld Njálsson: "Lyting had never once during those years found that sufficiently annoying to do anything untoward. Only one significant fact has changed in the universe that makes Lyting feel he can act on his grievance, or even articulate it. It is the emergence of Hoskuld Hvitanesspriest, as Hoskuld Thrainsson is known after getting his chieftaincy. Finally the Sigfussons again have a big man in their group to whom they can look for protection." Miller, William Ian. A Tale of Two Hoskulds: Chapters 93–9 (s. 170).
  2. er góðir menn gerðu: “this conjunction [of secular ideas of conflict resolution and religious ideas of appropriate behavior] is not recognized by Flosi, nor indeed by any of the other characters in the saga, with the exception of the 'good man' Hǫskuldr Þráinsson who, even as a child, knew that a settlement should be adhered to. Hǫskuldr's insight is not recognized by the other characters and it dies with him when he is killed.“ Jesch, Judith. "Good men" and peace in Njáls saga (s. 79).
  3. nú til að ráða ef þér viljið: "From Bergþóra´s egging of her sons to avenge their brother we get a small but sure hint that Höskuldr´s power has very much to do with their brother´s death." Miller, William Ian. Justifying Skarpheðinn (s. 337).

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