Thus she spoke and wept much, till Asmund’s heart softened in him, and, though with a doubting mind, he said it should be as she willed.
So Groa stayed on at Middalhof, and was lowly in her bearing and soft of speech.
HOW ERIC WENT UP MOSFELL AGAINST SKALLAGRIM THE BARESARK
Now Atli the Good, earl of the Orkneys, comes into the story.
It chanced that Atli had sailed to Iceland in the autumn on a business about certain lands that had fallen to him in right of his mother Helga, who was an Icelander, and he had wintered west of Reyjanes. Spring being come, he wished to sail home, and, when his ship was bound, he put to sea full early in the year. But it chanced that bad weather came up from the south-east, with mist and rain, so he must needs beach his ship in a creek under shelter of the Westman Islands.
Now Atli asked what people dwelt in these parts, and, when he heard the name of Asmund Asmundson the Priest, he was glad, for in old days he and Asmund had gone many a viking cruise together.
“We will leave the ship here,” he said, “till the weather clears, and go up to Middalhof to stay with Asmund.”
So they made the ship snug, and left men to watch her; but two of the company, with Earl Atli, rode up to Middalhof.
It must be told of Atli that he was the best of the earls who lived in those days, and he ruled the Orkneys so well that men gave him a by-name and called him Atli the Good. It was said of him that he had never turned a poor man away unsuccoured, nor bowed his head before a strong man, nor drawn his sword without cause, nor refused peace to him who prayed it. He was sixty years old, but age had left few marks on him, except that of his long white beard. He was keen-eyed, and well-fashioned of form and face, a great warrior and the strongest of men. His wife was dead, leaving him no children, and this was a sorrow to him; but as yet he had taken no other wife, for he would say: “Love makes an old man blind,” and “When age runs with youth, both shall fall,” and again, “Mix grey locks and golden and spoil two heads.” For this earl was a man of many wise sayings.
Now Atli came to Middalhof just as men sat down to meat and, hearing the clatter of arms, all sprang to their feet, thinking that perhaps Ospakar had come again as he had promised. But when Asmund saw Atli he knew him at once, though they had not met for nearly thirty years, and he greeted him lovingly, and put him in the high seat, and gave place to his men upon the cross-benches. Atli told all his story, and Asmund bade him rest a while at Middalhof till the weather grew clearer.