Ospakar rushed on, and Whitefire flickered over Eric’s helm. Down it came and shore one wing from the helm. Again it shone and fell, but Brighteyes caught the blow on his broken shield.
Then, while men waited to see him slain, Eric gave a great war-shout and sprang forward.
“Thou art mad!” shouted the folk.
“Ye shall see! Ye shall see!” screamed Skallagrim.
Again Ospakar smote and again Eric caught the blow; and behold! he struck back, thrusting with the point of the shorn shield straight at the face of Ospakar.
“Peck! Eagle; peck!” cried Skallagrim.
Once more Whitefire shone above him. Eric rushed in beneath the sword, and with all his mighty strength thrust the buckler-point at Blacktooth’s face. It struck fair and full, and lo! the helm of Ospakar burst asunder. He threw wide his giant arms, then fell as a pine falls upon the mountain edge. He fell back, and he lay still.
But Eric, stooping over him, took Whitefire from his hand.
HOW THE FEAST ENDED
For a moment there was silence in the hall, for men had known no such fight as this.
“Why, then, do ye gape?” laughed Skallagrim, pointing with the spear. “Dead is Ospakar!—slain by the swordless man! Eric Brighteyes hath slain Ospakar Blacktooth!”
Then there went up such a shout as never was heard in the hall of Middalhof.
Now when Gudruda knew that Ospakar was sped, she looked at Eric as he rested, leaning on his sword, and her heart was filled with awe and love. She sprang from her seat, and, coming to where Brighteyes stood, she greeted him.
“Welcome to Iceland, Eric!” she said. “Welcome, thou glory of the south!”
Now Swanhild grew wild, for she saw that Eric was about to take Gudruda in his arms and kiss her before all men.
“Say, Bjoern,” she cried; “wilt thou suffer that this outlaw, having slain Ospakar, should lead Gudruda hence as wife?”
“He shall never do so while I live,” cried Bjoern, nearly mad with rage. “This is my command, sister: that thou dost see Eric no more.”
“Say, Bjoern,” answered Gudruda, “did I dream, or did I indeed see thee thrust the broken buckler before Eric’s feet, so that he stumbled on it and fell?”
“That thou sawest, lady,” said Skallagrim; “for I saw it also.”
Now Bjoern grew white in his anger. He did not answer Gudruda, but called aloud to his men to slay Eric and Skallagrim. Gizur called also to the folk of Ospakar, and Swanhild to those who came with her.
Then Gudruda fled back to her seat.
But Eric cried aloud also: “Ye who love me, cleave to me. Suffer it not that Brighteyes be cut down of northerners and outland men. Hear me, Atli’s folk; hear me, carles of Coldback and of Middalhof!”
And so greatly did many love Eric that half of the thralls of Bjoern, and almost all of the company of Swanhild who had been Atli’s shield-men and Brighteyes’ comrades, drew swords, shouting “Eric! Eric!” But the carles of Ospakar came on to make an end of him.