So they ate and drank. Then Gudruda bade the Baresark draw near and tell her his tale.
“Lady,” said he, “Eric, my lord, lies dying on Mosfell.”
Gudruda turned white as the snow.
“Dying?—Eric lies dying?” she said. “Why, then, art thou here?”
“For this cause, lady: I think that thou canst save him, if he is not already sped.” And he told her all the tale.
Now Gudruda thought a while.
“This is a hard journey,” she said, “and it does not become a maid to visit outlaws in their caves. Yet I am come to this, that I will die before I shrink from anything that may save the life of Eric. When must we ride, Skallagrim?”
“This night,” said the Baresark. “This night while the men sleep, for now night and day are almost the same. The snow is deep and we have no time to lose if we would find Brighteyes living.”
“Then we will ride to-night,” answered Gudruda.
Afterwards, when people slept, Gudruda the Fair summoned her women, and bade them say to all who asked for her that she lay sick in bed. But she called three trusty thralls, bidding them bring two pack-horses laden with hay, food, drugs, candles made of sheep’s fat, and other goods, and ride with her. Then, all being ready, they rode away secretly up Stonefell, Gudruda on her horse Blackmane, and the others on good geldings that had been hay-fed in the yard, and by daylight they passed up Horse-Head Heights. They slept two nights in the snow, and on the second night almost perished there, for much soft snow fell. But afterwards came frost and a bitter northerly wind and they passed on. Gudruda was a strong woman and great of heart and will, and so it came about that on the third day she reached Mosfell, weary but little harmed, though the fingers of her left hand were frostbitten. They climbed the mountain, and when they came to the dell where the horses were kept, certain of Eric’s men met them and their faces were sad.
“How goes it now with Brighteyes?” said Skallagrim, for Gudruda could scarcely speak because of doubt and cold. “Is he dead, then?”
“Nay,” they answered, “but like to die, for he is beside himself and raves wildly.”
“Push on,” quoth Gudruda; “push on, lest it be too late.”
So they climbed the mountain on foot, won the pass and came to that giddy point of rock where he must tread who would reach the platform that is before the cave. Now since she had hung by her hands over Goldfoss gulf, Gudruda had feared to tread upon a height with nothing to hold to. Skallagrim went first, then called to her to follow. Thrice she looked, and turned away, trembling, for the place was awful and the fall bottomless. Then she spoke aloud to herself:
“Eric did not fear to risk his life to save me when I hung over Golden Falls; less, then, should I fear to risk mine to save him,” and she stepped boldly down upon the point. But when she stood there, over the giddy height, shivers ran along her body, and her mind grew dark. She clutched at the rock, gave one low cry and began to fall. Indeed she would have fallen and been lost, had not Skallagrim, lying on his breast in the narrow hole, stretched out his arms, caught her by the cloak and kirtle and dragged her to him. Presently her senses came back.