“It is the ghost of Eric!” they cried again.
“I am no ghost,” said Brighteyes. “I am no ghost, ye men of Swanhild. Tell me: is Gizur, the son of Ospakar, among you?”
“Gizur is here,” said a voice; “but he swore he slew thee last night.”
“Then he lied,” quoth Eric. “Gizur did not slay me—he murdered Gudruda the Fair as she lay asleep at my side. See!” and he drew Whitefire from its scabbard and held it in the rays of the moon that now shone out between the cloud rifts. “Whitefire is red with Gudruda’s blood—Gudruda slaughtered in her sleep by Gizur’s coward hand!”
Now men murmured, for this seemed to them the most shameful of all deeds. But Gizur, hearing, shrank back aghast.
“Listen again!” said Eric. “I was minded but now to burn you all as ye slept—ay, the firing is piled against the door. Still, I held my hand, for I have sworn to slay no more, except to save my life. Now I ride hence to Mosfell. Thither let Gizur come, Gizur the murderer, and Swanhild the witch, and with them all who will. There I will give them greeting, and wipe away the blood of Gudruda from Whitefire’s blade.”
“Fear not, Eric,” cried Swanhild, “I will come, and there thou mayst kill me, if thou canst.”
“Against thee, Swanhild,” said Eric, “I lift no hand. Do thy worst, I leave thee to thy fate and the vengeance of the Norns. I am no woman-slayer. But to Gizur the murderer I say, come.”
Then he turned and went, and Skallagrim went with him.
“Up, men, and cut Eric down!” cried Gizur, seeking to cover his shame.
But no man stirred.
HOW ERIC SENT AWAY HIS MEN FROM MOSFELL
Now Eric and Skallagrim came to Mosfell in safety, and during all that ride Brighteyes spoke no word. He rode in silence, and in silence Skallagrim rode after him. The heart of Skallagrim was broken because of the sorrow which his drunkenness had brought about, and the heart of Eric was buried in Gudruda’s grave.
On Mosfell Eric found four of his own men, two of whom had been among those that the people of Gizur and Swanhild had driven from Gudruda’s ship before they fired her. For no fight had been made on the ship. There also he found Jon, who had been loosed from his bands in the booth by one who heard his cries as he rode past. Now when Jon saw Brighteyes, he told him all, and fell at Eric’s feet and wept because he had betrayed him in his fear.
But Eric spoke no angry word to him. Stooping down he raised him, saying, “Thou wast never overstout of heart, Jon, and thou art scarcely to be blamed because thou didst speak rather than die in torment, though perhaps some had chosen so to die and not to speak. Now I am a luckless man, and all things happen as they are fated, and the words of Atli come true, as was to be looked for. The Norns, against whom none may stand, did but work their will through thy mouth, Jon; so grieve no more for that which cannot be undone.”