“Since thou dost put me from thee, that is in my mind, lady,” he answered.
Gudruda heard. She thought on the great and beauteous Lady Elfrida, far away in England, and of Eric walking at her side, and sorrow took hold of her. She said no word, but fixed her dark eyes on Brighteyes’ face, and lo! they filled with tears.
Eric might not bear this sight, for his heart beat within him as though it would burst the byrnie over it. Suddenly he stretched out his arms and swept her to his breast. Soft and sweet he kissed her, again and yet again, and she struggled not, though she wept a little.
“It is small blame to me,” she whispered, “if thou dost hold me on thy breast and kiss me, for thou art more strong than I. Bjoern must know this if his dead eyes see aught. Yet for thee, Eric, it is the greatest shame of all thy shames.”
“Talk not, my sweet; talk not,” said Eric, “but kiss thou me: for thou knowest well that thou lovest me yet as I love thee.”
Now the end of it was that Gudruda yielded and kissed him whom she had not kissed for many years.
“Loose me, Eric,” she said; “I would speak with thee,” and he loosed her, though unwillingly.
“Hearken,” she went on, hiding her fair face in her hands: “it is true that for life and death I love thee now as ever—how much thou mayest never know. Though Bjoern be dead at thy hands, yet I love thee; but how I may wed thee and not win the greatest shame, that I know not. I am sure of one thing, that we may not bide here in Iceland. Now if, indeed, thou lovest me, listen to my rede. Get thee back to Mosfell, Eric, and sit there in safety through this winter, for they may not come at thee yonder on Mosfell. Then, if thou art willing, in the spring I will make ready a ship, for I have no ship now, and, moreover, it is too late to sail. Then, perchance, leaving all my lands and goods, I will take thy hand, Eric, and we will fare together to England, seeking such fortune as the Norns may give us. What sayest thou?”
“I say it is a good rede, and would that the spring were come.”
“Ay, Eric, would that the spring were come. Our lot has been hard, and I doubt much if things will go well with us at the last. And now thou must hence, for presently the serving-women will come to seek me. Guard thyself, Eric, as thou lovest me—guard thyself, and beware of Swanhild!” Then once more they kissed soft and long, and Eric went.
But Gudruda sat a while behind the screen of reeds, and was very happy for a space. For it was as though the winter were past and summer shone upon her heart again.
HOW GUDRUDA WENT UP TO MOSFELL
Eric walked warily till he came to the dell where he had left Skallagrim and the horses. It was the same dell in which Groa had brewed the poison-draught for Asmund the Priest and Unna, Thorod’s daughter.