“Now thou takest good counsel,” said Swanhild.
Then in his fear Jon told how Eric had gone down to Middalhof to wed Gudruda, and thence to fly with her to England.
Now Swanhild was mad with wrath, for she had sooner died than that this should come about.
“Let us away,” she said to Gizur. “But first kill this man.”
“Nay,” said Gizur, “I will not do that. He has told his tidings; let him go free.”
“Thou art chicken-hearted,” said Swanhild, who, after the fashion of witches, had no mercy in her. “At the least, he shall not go hence to warn Eric and Gudruda of our coming. If thou wilt not kill him, then bind him and leave him.”
So Jon was bound, and there in the booth he sat two days before anyone came to loose him.
“Whither away?” said Gizur to Swanhild.
“To Middalhof first,” Swanhild answered.
HOW WENT THE BRIDAL NIGHT
Now Eric and Gudruda sat silent in the high seat of the hall at Middalhof till they heard Skallagrim enter by the women’s door. Then they came down from the high seat, and stood hand in hand by the fire on the hearth. Skallagrim greeted Gudruda, looking at her askance, for Skallagrim stood in fear of women alone.
“What counsel now, lord?” said the Baresark.
“Tell us thy plans, Gudruda,” said Eric, for as yet no word had passed between them of what they should do.
“This is my plan, Eric,” she answered. “First, that we eat; then that thy men take horse and ride hence through the night to where the ship lies, bearing word that we will be there at dawn when the tide serves, and bidding the mate make everything ready for sailing. But thou and I and Skallagrim will stay here till to-morrow is three hours old, and this because I have tidings that Gizur’s folk will search the ship to-night. Now, when they search and do not find us, they will go away. Then, at the dawning, thou and I and Skallagrim will row on board the ship as she lies at anchor, and, slipping the cable, put to sea before they know we are there, and so bid farewell to Swanhild and our woes.”
“Yet it is a risk for us to sleep here alone,” said Eric.
“There is little danger,” said Gudruda. “Nearly all of Gizur’s men watch the ship; and I have learned this from a spy, that, two days ago, Gizur, Swanhild, and one thrall rode from Coldback towards Mosfell, and they have not come back yet. Moreover, the place is strong, and thou and Skallagrim are here to guard it.”
“So be it, then,” answered Eric, for indeed he had little thought left for anything, except Gudruda.
After this the women came in and set meat on the board, and all ate.
Now, when they had eaten, Eric bade Skallagrim fill a cup, and bring it to him as he sat on the high seat with Gudruda. Skallagrim did so; and then, looking deep into each other’s eyes, Eric Brighteyes and Gudruda the Fair, Asmund’s daughter, drank the bride’s cup.