Chapter 11

Of the Award at the Thing.

Now it is to be told that on the morrow men go to the Hill of Laws, and a great crowd is there; and Egil and Gellir gather their own friends together: Ufeig was of the company of Styrmir and Thorarin.

So when such as were looked for were come to the Hill of Laws, Ufeig craved silence and said : "Heretofore have I meddled not in this case of Odd my son; but now I wot that here are those men who have been busiest in pushing the case. Of this charge I first of all appeal Hermund: though forsooth the case hath been set on foot with more wrong and rashness than men have yet to tell of; and in likewise has been carried on, and in likewise maybe will end. But now I will ask this: Whether may the case be settled peacefully?"

Hermund answered: "We will take nought save selfdoom."

Said Ufeig : "It is a thing unheard of that one man in one case should give selfdoom to eight men; but that one should give it to one, that hath been heard of; but whereas this case hath been pushed in a more masterful way than any other, I will now crave that two of thy company be judges."

Hermund answered : "We will say yea to this, nor heed aught which twain shall adjudge."

"Then ye will not begrudge me this small honour," said Ufeig, "to choose the twain whom I will of you Banded Men?"

"Yea, yea, so let it be," said Hermund.

Then said Thorarin : "Say yea to such things only to-day as thou ruest not to-morrow."

"I will not call my words back," said Hermund.

Now Ufeig seeks for sureties, and they were not hard to find, for the money was deemed to be in a sure place.

Then men take hands, and they give hansel to the Banded Men of such fines as they whom Ufeig shall name may award, and the Banded Men hansel the voiding of the case. Now it is so determined that the Banded Men shall go out on to the fields with their company, and the folk of Egil and Gellir held together.

So they sat down in a ring in a certain place, and Ufeig goeth into the ring, and peereth round about, and lifteth his cloak-hood: he standeth with his belly somewhat thrust out, stroking his arms ; he peereth round about with his eyes, and then saith:

"There sittest thou, Styrmir, and men will deem it wondrous if I choose thee not for this case which is on my hands ; for I am of thy thingmen, and to thee should I look for helping, and many good gifts hast thou had of me, and rewarded everyone of them with ill. Methinks thou wert the first to shew thine enmity in this matter unto Odd my son, and it was thy doing chiefly that the case was set on foot. So thee will I set aside.

"There sittest thou, Thorarin ; nor may any lay to thy charge that thou lackest wit to deal with this case : yet hast thou brought unthrift on Odd in this case, and with Styrmir wert the first to set afoot the case. Therefore thee will I not choose.

"There sittest thou, Hermund, a great chieftain! and forsooth the case were meetly handled if thou hadst the handling of it: yet hast thou been the eagerest of men herein from the beginning, and clear as day it is that thou wouldst have our dishonour clear as day; nor hath -aught drawn thee hereto saving shamelessness and greed; for nought lackest thou of wealth. So thee I set aside.

"There sittest thou, Jarnskeggi! and art nought lacking in pride to judge the case; and well enow: wouldst thou be pleased to be master herein ; thou, who wert of such pride that thou lettest bear a banner before thee at the Vodla-thing, as before a king. Yet shalt thou not be king in this case; and thee do I set aside."

Now Ufeig casts his eyes about and says: "There sittest thou, Skeggbroddi! is it true that King Harald Sigurdson said when thou wert with him that he deemed thee the meetest for a king of all men out here?"

Broddi answered: "Oft would the King talk well to me, but it is not so sure that he meant all that he said."

Then said Ufeig: "Thou shalt be king over other matters than this case, and thee do I set aside.

"There sittest thou, Gellir," said Ufeig, "and nought hath drawn thee into this case save greediness of money only ; but verily it is small blame to thee, so penniless as thou art, and so much as thou hast to do. And now, though ye be all worthy of ill, yet see I not but that some honour must be given to somebody; for now are but few left, and I am loth to choose from them whom I have set aside already; therefore thee I choose, because thou hast not heretofore been known for a wrongful man,

There sittest thou, Thorgeir Haldorason, and it is well known that no case ever fell to thy judging that was of any account; for nought canst thou mete out judgment, having no more wits thereto than an ox or an ass ; and thee then I set aside."

Then Ufeig looked round about, and there came a stave into his mouth:

Evil it is

When eld falleth on us, Snatching away Wisdom and eyesight; From eight men of avail Might I have chosen, Now on hook hangeth Nought but the wolf's-tail.

"Yea," said he, "I fare as the wolves, who eat on till they come to the tail, unawares : I have had the choice of many chieftains, and now is he alone left whom all will think an evil choice; and true indeed it is that he is unjuster than any, and heedeth not one thing more than another whereby he getteth money, so only he get it at last: yet is it pity of him, though he hath not been nice aforetime, that he should have fallen into this, where-, into so many are fallen, who have heretofore been called righteous men, and yet now have cast aside manliness and uprightness to follow after wrongdoing and greed.

"Well, none could have it in their heads that I should ever choose him, from whom all men look for evil, for no man of your fellowship is wilier: yet so it has to be, for all the rest have been set aside."

Then said Egil, and smiled withal: "Now yet again shall it be, as oft afore, that honour befalleth me, not because others will it: but now, Gellir, it behoveth us to stand up and go apart, and talk the matter over between us."

So did they, and went away thence, and sat down ; then said Gellir: "What shall we say about it?"

Egil said: "It is my rede that we award a little money fine. I know not what else may come of it, but of a sooth it will not be friendship for us."

"Will it not be full enough," said Gellir, "if we award thirteen ounces of evil silver? for most unrighteously was the case set afoot; and the worse they like it, the better it is : yet am I not fain to give out the award; for meseemeth we shall be evil looked on."

"Do which thou wilt," said Egil; "give out the award, or sit to outface the answers."

"Then I choose to give out the award," said Gellir.

And therewith they go to meet the Banded Men.

Then said Hermund: "Stand we up and hearken to the shaming."

Said Gellir: " Later on we shall wax no wiser, and it all comes to this, that we, Egil and I, award thirteen ounces of silver to us Banded Men."

Then said Hermund : "Heard I aright: saidst thou thirteen tens of silver ounces?"

Answereth Egil: "Wert thou then a-sitting on thine ear, Hermund, since thou stoodest up? Thirteen ounces good sooth, and that of such money as none but a wretch would take : paid shall it be in scrapings of shields and scraps of rings; yea, in all that is most worthless, and shall like you least."

Said Hermund : "Thou hast betrayed us, Egil." "Yea," said Egil, "dost thou deem thee betrayed?" "Betrayed I deem me, and thou it is hast betrayed itie," said Hermund.

Egil answered: "It likes me well to betray him who trusteth no man, nay, not even himself: me-seemeth my tongue may find a true tale thereof; for in the thickest of fogs thou didst hide away thy money, with the mind that if ever it came into thy heart to look for it, thou mightst not find it."

Said Hermund: "This is like the rest of thy lying, like as thou saidest in the winter-tide, Egil, when thou earnest to me at my bidding from thy wreck of a house at Burg in Yule-tide: and right glad wert thou thereat, as was like to be; and when Yule was spent, thou grewest sad, as was like to be, thinking it hard to have to go home to that misery: but I, when I saw that, bade thee abide still, thou and another with thee; and thou tookest that, and wert fain thereof: but in spring-tide after Easter, when thou wert come home to Burg, thou saidst that thirty ice-horses had died, and had all been eaten by us."

Egil answered: "I know not how over-much may be said about thy misery; otherwise I believe little or nothing was eaten of them : but all men wot that I and my men lack never for meat, how-beit that I find it not so easy to come by money: but such is the housekeeping at thy house, that thou needest say nought about it."

"I would well," said Hermund, "that we twain were not at the Thing another summer."

"Now will I say," said Egil, "what I never thought to say, and bid bless thine opening mouth! for it was foretold of me that I should die of old age, and all the better were I content if the trolls took thee first."

Then said Styrmir: "He sayeth soothest of thee, Egil, who sayeth worst, and calleth thee a cheat."

"Now we get on well," said Egil; "the more thou blamest me and the truer thou deemest it, the better it liketh me; for I have been told that when for your ale-joyance ye would play at the mating of men, thou wouldst pair thyself with me. Well, it is indeed true that thou hast certain wiles about thee whereof other men wot not; thou must know thine own heart best: but in one thing are we unlike: for either of us hath promised the other help at need, and I have given it when I might, and have in nought spared me, but thou rannest so soon as the blackshanks were aloft. True it is also that I have ever been unthriving in my house, yet grudge I meat to no man, while thou art a meat-begrudger; and for a token thereof hast a vessel called Meatluck, and no man who cometh into thy garth knoweth what is in him but thyself alone. Now it is but meet to me that my house should have hard times when lack is, but less than meet for a man to pinch his house when lack is not. Think now what man this is!"

Then Styrmir held his peace, and Thorarin stood up, but Egil said: "Hold thy peace, Thorarin, and sit down and lay not another word hereto! Else will I lay such a word on thee as thou hadst been better silent. I see nought to laugh at in it, though the lads laugh, that thou sittest pinched up with thy thighs glued together."

Thorarin said: "Wholesome rede will we hold to, whencesoever it cometh." And he sat down and held his peace.

Then spake Thorgeir; "All may see that this award is without reason and foolish, to award thirteen ounces of silver and no more in so great a case."

"But I had thought," said Egil, "that thou hadst seen reason enough in the award; and so wilt thou, if thou think about thyself therewith; for then wilt thou remember how at the Rangar-leet a certain cot-carle made thirteen stripes on thine head, and thou tookest therefor thirteen ewes with their sucklings : then meseems thou wilt deem the token good enow."

Thorgeir held his peace, and as for Jarnskeggi and Skegbroddi they would have no words with Egil.

Then said Ufeig: "Now shall I sing you a stave for the better memory of this Thing, and the ending of the case that hath here betid."

This grove of metal mostly Shall find its honour minished ; Glad give I forth such tidings, Of the strife 'twixt dwarf and giant. The land of hats of high ones Have I the unwealthy hoodwinked, And in the eyes of chieftains Cast I the dust of gold rings.

Egil answered : "Well mayest thou boast over it, for no one man hath so fearlessly flown in the face of so many great men."

Now after this men went home to their booths, and Gellir spake to Egil, saying: "I will that we hold us both together with our men." And they did so.

Much muttering of threats there was for the rest of the Thing, and the Banded Men were exceeding ill-content with this ending of the case. As for that money no man would have it, and it kicked about the meads there.

Now men ride home from the Thing.