Chapter 7

Of the Guiles of Old Ufeig.

Now must it be told how master Ufeig goeth up by the meads unto the courts; he comes to the courts of the North-landers, and asks how go folk's cases: they told him that some were now doomed, and others at point to be summed up. Says he: "And how is it with the case of Odd my son : is it ended now peradventure? "

"Ended it is as much as ever it will be," said they,

Ufeig said;. "Is Uspak found guilty, then?" "Nay" said they, "he is not."

"What brought that about?" saith Ufeig.

"There was a flaw found in the case," say they; "it was wrongly set afoot."

"Yea," said Ufeig,"will ye give me leave to go into the court?"

They said yea thereto; so he went into the Doom-ring and sat down ; then said he: "Whether is the case of Odd son doomed?"

"Doomed it is as much as it ever will be," said they.

"How cometh that?" said Ufeig. "Is Uspak wrongfully accused? Slew he not Vali sackless? or could, it be that the case was not deemed urgent?"

They said: "There was a flaw in the case, and it came to nought." "What was the flaw?" said he. They told him. "Yea, forsooth," said he, "and deem ye that there is any right and justice in giving heed to such things of little worth, and to let the worst of men, a thief and a man-slayer, get off scot-free? Is it not taking a heavy weight upon you to doom him sackless who is fully worthy of death, and thus to give judgment contrary .to right?" They said that they did not deem it right, but that in suchwise it was laid down for them.

"Yea, indeed," said Ufeig; "did ye swear the oath?"

"Full surely did we," say they.

"So it must have been,"said he; "and in what words will ye have sworn? Was it not in this wise, that ye would judge according to what seemed truest to you, and most according to the law? Even so must ye have sworn." They said that so it was.

Then said Ufeig: "And what may be more according to truth than to doom the worst of men to be guilty, worthy of death, and to be deprived of all aid: a man proven guilty of theft, and who moreover hath slain a sackless man, even Vali. But as to the third of those things wherewith your oath has to do, that indeed may be deemed somewhat uncertain. Yet think for yourselves which is more of worth, those two words which deal with right and truth, or the third which dealeth with but quibbles of law; and then will it surely seem to you as it verily is, and ye shall surely wot, that ye will have the more to answer for, if ye let one go free who is worthy of death, when ye have sworn an oath that ye would judge according to what ye know to be the right: and now look to it that it will weigh heavy on you else, and that ye will scarce escape answering to a hard matter."

Now whiles would Ufeig let the purse sink down from under his cloak, and whiles would he draw it up, and he found that they all kept casting an eye to the purse.

Then he spake to them: "It were better rede to judge according to right and troth, even as ye have sworn, and to have in return the thanks and love of all wise and upright men."

Therewith he took the purse and poured out the silver, and told it over before them : "Now will I show my friendliness toward you," said he, "and how I am thinking more of you than of myself herein ; and this I do because some of you are my friends, and some my kinsmen, and all of you moreover in such a case, that need is ye look to yourselves: to every man who sitteth in the court will I give an ounce of silver, and half a mark to him that sums up the case: and thus ye will both have gotten money, and put from you a matter heavy to answer to; and moreover, which is most of all, ye will have kept your oath inviolate."

They thought over the matter, and seemed to find truth in his words, and they had aforetime deemed themselves hard bestead in the matter of the straining of their oath: so they took the choice that Ufeig bade them. Then was Odd sent for, and he came by then the chieftains were gone home to the booths. So the case was set forth, and Uspak was made guilty, and witnesses named for the full filling of the doom; and therewith go men home to their own booths. .

Nought was heard hereof that night, but on the morrow up standeth Odd on the Hill of Laws, and saith in a loud voice: "Here in the Court of the Northlanders was a man found guilty of the slaying of Vali: Uspak is his name, and these are the tokens to know the guilty one by: He is great of growth, and a manly enough fellow. Dark brown is his hair, his cheekbones big, his brow swart; great-handed is he, thick-legged, and all his fashion is out of measure big, and his aspect most rascally." Now are men much astonished; many had heard nought thereof before, and men deem that Odd has handled his case, strongly and luckily, such a plight as it was gotten into.