Atli ceased a while, then spoke again more faintly:
“Hearken, comrades,” he cried; “my strength is well-nigh spent. Ye shall swear four things to me—that ye will give Eric Brighteyes and Skallagrim Lambstail safe passage from Straumey. That ye will tell Swanhild the Fatherless, Groa’s daughter and Atli’s wife, that, at last, I know her for what she is—a murderess, a harlot, a witch and a liar; and that I forgive Eric whom she tricked, but that her I hate and spit upon. That ye will slay Koll the Half-witted, Groa’s thrall, who came hither about two days gone, since by his lies he hath set an edge upon this sword of falsehood. That ye will raise no blood-feud against Eric for this my slaying, for I goaded him to the deed. Do ye swear?”
“We swear,” said the men.
“Then farewell! And to thee farewell, also, Eric Brighteyes! Now take my hand and hold it while I die. Behold! I give thee a new name, and by that name thou shalt be called in story. I name thee Eric the Unlucky. Of all tales that are told, thine shall be the greatest. A mighty stroke that was of thine—a mighty stroke! Farewell!”
Then his head fell back upon the rock and Earl Atli died. And as he died the last rays of light went out of the sky.
HOW HALL OF LITHDALE TOOK TIDINGS TO ICELAND
Now on the same night that Atli died at the hand of Eric, Swanhild spake with Hall of Lithdale, whom she had summoned from the mainland. She bade him do this: take passage in a certain ship that should sail for Iceland on the morrow from the island that is called Westra, and there tell all these tidings of the ill-doings of Eric and of the slaying of Atli by his hand.
“Thou shalt say this,” she went on, “that Eric had been my love for long, but that at length the matter came to the ears of Atli, the Earl. Then, holding this the greatest shame, he went on holmgang with Eric and was slain by him. This shalt thou add to thy tale also, that presently Eric and I will wed, and that Eric shall rule as Earl in Orkneys. Now these tidings must soon come to the ears of Gudruda the Fair, and she will send for thee, and question thee straightly concerning them, and thou shalt tell her the tale as thou toldest it at first. Then thou shalt give Gudruda this packet, which I send her as a gift, saying, that I bade her remember a certain oath which Eric took as to the cutting of his hair. And when she sees that which is within the packet is somewhat stained, tell her that is but the blood of Atli that is upon it, as his blood is upon Eric’s hands. Now remember thou this, Hall, that if thou fail in the errand thy life shall pay forfeit, for presently I will also come to Iceland and hear how thou hast sped.”
Then Swanhild gave him faring-money and gifts of wadmal and gold rings, promising that he should have so much again when she came to Iceland.