Njála, 155

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Chapter 155

GUNNAR LAMBI'S SON'S SLAYING.


Just at that very time Kari and Kolbein and David the White came to Hrossey unawares to all men. They went straightway up on land, but a few men watched their ship.

Kari and his fellows went straight to the earl's homestead, and came to the hall about drinking time.

It so happened that just then Gunnar was telling the story[1] of the burning,[2] but they were listening to him meanwhile outside. This was on Yule-day itself.

Now King Sigtrygg asked, "How did Skarphedinn bear the burning?"

"Well at first for a long time," said Gunnar, "but still the end of it was that he wept.[3]" And so he went on giving an unfair leaning in his story, but every now and then he laughed out loud.

Kari could not stand this, and then he ran in with his sword drawn, and sang this song:

"Men of might, in battle eager, Boast of burning Njal's abode, Have the Princes heard how sturdy Seahorse racers sought revenge? Hath not since, on foemen holding High the shield's broad orb aloft, All that wrong been fully wroken? Raw flesh ravens got to tear."

So he ran in up the hall, and smote Gunnar Lambi's son on the neck with such a sharp blow, that his head spun off on to the board before the king and the earls, and the board was all one gore of blood, and the earl's clothing too.

Earl Sigurd knew the man that had done the deed, and called out, "Seize Kari and kill him."

Kari had been one of Earl Sigurd's bodyguard, and he was of all men most beloved by his friends; and no man stood up a whit more for the earl's speech.

"Many would say, Lord," said Kari, "that I have done this deed on your behalf, to avenge your henchman."

Then Flosi said, "Kari hath not done this without a cause; he is in no atonement with us, and he only did what he had a right to do."

So Kari walked away, and there was no hue and cry after him. Kari fared to his ship, and his fellows with him. The weather was then good, and they sailed off at once south to Caithness, and went on shore at Thraswick to the house of a worthy man whose name was Skeggi, and with him they stayed a very long while.

Those behind in the Orkneys cleansed the board, and bore out the dead man.

The earl was told that they had set sail south for Scotland, and King Sigtrygg said, "This was a mighty bold fellow, who dealt his stroke so stoutly, and never thought twice about it!"

Then Earl Sigurd answered, "There is no man like Kari for dash and daring."

Now Flosi undertook to tell the story of the burning, and he was fair to all; and therefore what he said was believed.

Then King Sigtrygg stirred in his business with Earl Sigurd, and bade him go to the war with him against King Brian.

The earl was long steadfast, but the end of it was that he let the king have his way, but said he must have his mother's hand for his help, and be king in Ireland, if they slew Brian. But all his men besought Earl Sigurd not to go into the war, but it was all no good.

So they parted on the understanding that Earl Sigurd gave his word to go; but King Sigtrygg promised him his mother and the kingdom.

It was so settled that Earl Sigurd was to come with all his host to Dublin by Palm Sunday.

Then King Sigtrygg fared south to Ireland, and told his mother Kormlada that the earl had undertaken to come, and also what he had pledged himself to grant him.

She showed herself well pleased at that, but said they must gather greater force still.

Sigtrygg asked whence this was to be looked for?

She said there were two vikings lying off the west of Man; and that they had thirty ships, and, she went on, "They are men of such hardihood that nothing can withstand them. The one's name is Ospak, and the other's Brodir. Thou shalt fare to find them, and spare nothing to get them into thy quarrel, whatever price they ask."

Now King Sigtrygg fares and seeks the vikings, and found them lying outside off Man; King Sigtrygg brings forward his errand at once, but Brodir shrank from helping him until he, King Sigtrygg, promised him the kingdom and his mother,[4] and they were to keep this such a secret that Earl Sigurd should know nothing about it; Brodir too was to come to Dublin on Palm Sunday.

So King Sigtrygg fared home to his mother, and told her how things stood.

After that those brothers, Ospak and Brodir, talked together, and then Brodir told Ospak all that he and Sigtrygg had spoken of, and bade him fare to battle with him against King Brian, and said he set much store on his going.

But Ospak said he would not fight against so good a king.

Then they were both wroth, and sundered their band at once. Ospak had ten ships and Brodir twenty.

Ospak was a heathen, and the wisest of all men. He laid his ships inside in a sound, but Brodir lay outside him.

Brodir had been a Christian man and a mass-deacon by consecration, but he had thrown off his faith and become God's dastard, and now worshipped heathen fiends, and he was of all men most skilled in sorcery. He had that coat of mail on which no steel would bite. He was both tall and strong, and had such long locks that he tucked them under his belt. His hair was black.

References

  1. telling the story: "But the key point is that Kari's mission is no longer about avenging his son, but about repressing alternate versions of the saga." Miller, William Ian. How Not to End a Saga, Unless...: Chapters 146–59 (p. 298).
  2. Gunnar was telling the story of the burning: "Eins og Einari Ólafi og öðrum mönnum var ljóst, þá virðist Njáluhöfundur hafa stuzt við Selsbana þátt í Ólafs sögu helga, þegar lýst er brennusögu Gunnars Lambasonar einn jóladag úti í Orkneyjum." Hermann Pálsson. Eftir Njálsbrennu (p. 50)
  3. but still the end of it was that he wept: "The contrast between banal slander and poetic truth-saying is no better illustrated anywhere than in court of Earl Sigtrygg when Gunnar Lambason reports on the death of Skarp-Hedin […] Kari overhears the account, bursting into the hall, strikes Gunnar dead, and then undoes the insult by mocking the burners in verse." Taylor, Paul B. Wielders and Wasters of Words (p. 293)
  4. promised him the kingdom and his mother : "Earl Sigurd made it a condition that he should, if they were successful in their war against Brian, receive in marriage King Sigtrygg's redoubtable mother, and become King of Ireland in Brians place. It does not carry conviction because Sigtrygg, from what we know of him, had no power to accept the second of these conditions. That Sigurd should wish to marry the elderly and apparently ill-natured Kormlada can be accepted because the alliance might do something to substantiate, and as it were naturalise, his claim to a throne won by conquest; but Sigtrygg, of his own authority, was clearly unable to offer him the high kingship of Ireland." Linklater, Eric. The Battle of Clontarf (s. 5-6)

Kafli 155

Í þenna tíma komu þeir Kári og Kolbeinn og Davíður hvíti til Hrosseyjar öllum á óvart. Gengu þeir þegar upp á land en fáir menn gættu skips. Kári og þeir félagar gengu þegar til jarlsbæjarins og komu að höllinni um drykkju. Bar það saman og þá var Gunnar að að segja söguna[1] [2] en þeir hlýddu til á meðan úti. Þetta var jóladaginn sjálfan.

Sigtryggur konungur spurði: „Hversu þoldi Skarphéðinn í brennunni?“

„Vel fyrst lengi,“ sagði Gunnar, „en þó lauk svo að hann grét.[3]

Og um allar sagnir hallaði hann mjög til en ló víða frá.

Kári stóðst þetta eigi. Hljóp hann þá inn með brugðnu sverðinu og kvað vísu þessa:


47. Hrósa hildar fúsir,

hvað hafa til fregið skatnar

hve, ráfáka, rákum

rennendur? Níals brennu.

Varðat veiti-Njörðum

víðeims að það síðan,

hrátt gat hrafn að slíta

hold, slælega goldið.


Þá hljóp hann innar eftir höllinni og hjó á hálsinn Gunnari Lambasyni og svo snart að höfuðið fauk upp á borðið fyrir konunginn og jarlana.

Sigurður jarl kenndi manninn þann er vegið hafði vígið og mælti: „Takið þér Kára og drepið hann.“

Kári hafði verið hirðmaður Sigurðar jarls og var allra manna vinsælastur og stóð engi upp að heldur þótt jarl ræddi um.

Kári mælti: „Það munu margir mæla, herra, að eg hafi þetta fyrir yður unnið að hefna hirðmanns yðvars.“

Flosi mælti: „Ekki gerði Kári þetta um sakleysi því að hann er í engum sættum við oss. Gerði hann það að sem hann átti.“

Kári gekk í braut og varð ekki eftir honum gengið. Fór Kári til skips síns og þeir félagar, var þá veður gott og sigldu þegar suður til Kataness og fóru upp í Þrasvík til göfugs manns er Skeggi hét og var með honum mjög lengi.

Þeir í Orkneyjum hreinsuðu borðin og báru út hinn dauða. Jarli var sagt að þeir hefðu siglt suður til Skotlands.

Sigtryggur konungur mælti: „Þessi var herðimaður mikill fyrir sér er svo rösklega vann að og sást ekki fyrir.“

Sigurður jarl svaraði: „Engum manni er Kári líkur í hvatleik sínum.“

Flosi tók nú til að segja söguna frá brennunni. Bar hann öllum vel og var því trúað.

Sigtryggur konungur vakti þá til um erindi sitt við Sigurð jarl og bað hann fara til orustu með sér í móti Bríani konungi. Jarl var lengi erfiður en kom svo að hann gerði kost á. Mælti hann það til að eiga móður hans og vera konungur á Írlandi ef þeir felldu Brían. En allir löttu Sigurð jarl í að ganga og týði ekki. Skildu þeir að því að Sigurður jarl hét ferðinni en Sigtryggur konungur hét honum móður sinni og konungdómi. Var svo mælt að Sigurður jarl skyldi kominn með her sinn allan til Dyflinnar að pálmsunnudegi.

Fór Sigtryggur konungur þá suður til Írlands og sagði Kormlöðu móður sinni að jarl hafði í gengið og svo hvað hann hafði til unnið. Hún lét vel yfir því en kvað þau þó skyldu draga að meira lið. Sigtryggur spurði hvaðan þess væri að von.

Hún sagði að víkingar tveir lágu úti fyrir vestan Mön og höfðu þrjá tigu skipa „og svo harðfengir að ekki stendur við. Heitir annar Óspakur en annar Bróðir. Þú skalt fara til móts við þá og láta ekki að skorta að koma þeim í með þér hvað sem þeir mæla til.“

Sigtryggur konungur fer nú og leitar víkinganna og fann þá fyrir utan Mön. Ber Sigtryggur konungur þegar upp erindi sitt en Bróðir skarst undan allt til þess er Sigtryggur konungur hét honum konungdómi og móður sinni.[4] Og skyldi þetta fara svo hljótt að Sigurður jarl yrði eigi vís. Hann skyldi og koma pálmsunnudag til Dyflinnar. Sigtryggur konungur fór heim til móður sinnar og sagði henni hvar þá var komið.

Eftir þetta talast þeir við Óspakur og Bróðir. Sagði þá Bróðir Óspaki alla viðræðu þeirra Sigtryggs og bað hann fara til bardaga með sér í móti Bríani konungi og kvað sér mikið við liggja. Óspakur kvaðst eigi vilja berjast í móti svo góðum konungi. Urðu þeir þá báðir reiðir og skiptu þegar liði sínu. Hafði Óspakur tíu skip en Bróðir tuttugu. Óspakur var heiðinn og allra manna vitrastur. Hann lagði skip sín inn á sundið er Bróðir lá fyrir utan. Bróðir hafði verið maður kristinn og messudjákn að vígslu en hann hafði kastað trú sinni og gerðist guðníðingur og blótaði nú heiðnar vættir og var allra manna fjölkunnigastur. Hann hafði herbúnað þann er eigi bitu járn. Hann var bæði mikill og sterkur og hafði hár svo mikið að hann drap undir belti sér. Það var svart.

Tilvísanir

  1. að segja söguna: "But the key point is that Kari's mission is no longer about avenging his son, but about repressing alternate versions of the saga." Miller, William Ian. How Not to End a Saga, Unless...: Chapters 146–59 (s. 298).
  2. þá var Gunnar að að segja söguna: "Eins og Einari Ólafi og öðrum mönnum var ljóst, þá virðist Njáluhöfundur hafa stuzt við Selsbana þátt í Ólafs sögu helga, þegar lýst er brennusögu Gunnars Lambasonar einn jóladag úti í Orkneyjum." Hermann Pálsson. Eftir Njálsbrennu (s. 50)
  3. en þó lauk svo að hann grét: "The contrast between banal slander and poetic truth-saying is no better illustrated anywhere than in court of Earl Sigtrygg when Gunnar Lambason reports on the death of Skarp-Hedin […] Kari overhears the account, bursting into the hall, strikes Gunnar dead, and then undoes the insult by mocking the burners in verse." Taylor, Paul B. Wielders and Wasters of Words (s. 293)
  4. hét honum móður sinni og konungdómi : "Earl Sigurd made it a condition that he should, if they were successful in their war against Brian, receive in marriage King Sigtrygg's redoubtable mother, and become King of Ireland in Brians place. It does not carry conviction because Sigtrygg, from what we know of him, had no power to accept the second of these conditions. That Sigurd should wish to marry the elderly and apparently ill-natured Kormlada can be accepted because the alliance might do something to substantiate, and as it were naturalise, his claim to a throne won by conquest; but Sigtrygg, of his own authority, was clearly unable to offer him the high kingship of Ireland." Linklater, Eric. The Battle of Clontarf (s. 5-6)

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