Skallagrim turns to meet Mord, but Eric says:—
“This one for me, comrade,” and steps forward.
Mord strikes a mighty blow. Eric’s shield is all shattered and cannot stay it. It crashes through and falls full on the golden helm, beating Brighteyes to his knee. Now he is up again and blows fall thick and fast. Mord is a strong man, unwearied, and skilled in war, and Eric’s arms grow faint and his strength sinks low. Mord smites again and wounds him somewhat on the shoulder.
Eric throws aside his cloven shield and, shouting, plies Whitefire with both arms. Mord gives before him, then rushes and smites; Eric leaps aside. Again he rushes and lo! Brighteyes has dropped his point, and it stands a full span through the back of Mord, and instantly that was his bane.
Now men rush to their horses, mount in hot haste and ride away, crying that these are trolls whom they have to do with here, not men. Skallagrim sees, and the Baresark fit takes him sore. With axe aloft he charges after them, screaming as he comes. There is one man, the same whom he had wounded. He cannot mount easily, and when the Baresark comes he still lies on the neck of his horse. The great axe wheels on high and falls, and it is told of this stroke that it was so mighty that man and horse sank dead beneath it, cloven through and through. Then the fit leaves Skallagrim and he walks back, and they are alone with the dead and dying.
Eric leans on Whitefire and speaks:
“Get thee gone, Skallagrim Lambstail!” he said; “get thee gone!”
“It shall be as thou wilt, lord,” answered the Baresark; “but I have not befriended thee so ill that thou shouldst fear for blows to come.”
“I will keep no man with me who puts my word aside, Skallagrim. What did I bid thee? Was it not that thou shouldst have done with the Baresark ways, and where thou stoodest there thou shouldst bide? and see: thou didst forget my word swiftly! Now get thee gone!”
“It is true, lord,” he said. “He who serves must serve wholly,” and Skallagrim turned to seek his horse.
“Stay,” said Eric; “thou art a gallant man and I forgive thee: but cross my will no more. We have slain several men and Ospakar goes hence wounded. We have got honour, and they loss and the greatest shame. Nevertheless, ill shall come of this to me, for Ospakar has many friends and will set a law-suit on foot against me at the Althing,[*] and thou didst draw the first blood.”
[*] The annual assembly
of free men which, in Iceland,
performed the functions of a Parliament and Supreme Court of
“Would that the spear had gone more home,” said Skallagrim.
“Ospakar’s time is not yet,” answered Eric; “still, he has something by which to bear us in mind.”
HOW SWANHILD DEALT WITH GUDRUDA