Gyqp-eSTfkKm2PhFTf-vTg Bandamanna Saga

Bandamanna Saga

The Story of the Confederates an 1882 translation into English by John Coles

Section Reference 8


Now the chieftains ride to the "Þing," each with a numerous following. The old carl Úfeigr was in Styrmir's band. The confederates arranged between them to meet on Bláskógaheiði, these of them, namely, Egill and Styrmir, and Hermundr and Thórarinn; and from that meeting they all rode south to the "Þing"-wolds. From the east there came riding Skeggbroddi and Thorgeir Halldórson out of Langidalr, and from the north came Járnskeggi, and all these met together at Reyðarmúli. And now all these bands rode down unto the wolds, and thence unto the "Þing." Now the things most talked of are the law affairs of Oddr, and all men take for certain that here no one will come forward to defend, deeming that few men have a heart thereto, and no one would avail therein, seeing what great chieftains there were to cope with. The confederates, on their side, show great hopefulness about their case, and behave not a little braggingly thereanent. Not a man ventured to utter a word against them. No one comes forward with full powers from Oddr to see his case; but he fits his ship out in Hrútafjörðr, when people were gone to the "Þing."

It was one day that old carl Úfeigr went from his booth deeply rapt in care; not a helper to be seen, but heavy troubles to cope with ahead; he sees hardly how he may have might alone to withstand such chieftains, the case in itself affording no ground of defence. He went about bent and drooping, from one booth to another, reeling on his feet, and in this manner he strolled about for a long time. At last he came to the booth of Egill at a time when people had come to him to confer on sundry affairs with him. Úfeigr turned aside from the door of the booth, and waited there until the men went away. Egill saw them out, but when he was about to turn back into the booth, Úfeigr, turning about, posted himself in his way and greeted him. Egill glanced at him and asked him who he was. "I am hight Úfeigr," said he. Egill said: "Art thou the father of Oddr?" He said he was. Then thou shalt be minded to talk his affairs over, but it is no good to come to me on that matter, for this case is gone much too far to the wrong for me to have any availing word to say thereto; besides there are other men who have more to say in this matter than I have, namely, Styrmir and Thórarinn, for they take to themselves the lead while we others follow." Then Úfeigr answered: "Well then, rather than talk over Oddr's affairs, which have at times looked better than they do now, I shall hit on something else to divert my mind; and I take it that thou art not the man to refuse to talk to me; for it is now the chief amusement of an old carl to have talk with men like you and thus while away the hours." Egill answered: "Speech, at any rate, shall not be forbidden thee." And so the two walk away together and sit down. Then Úfeigr took up the word: "Art thou a bonder, Egill?" He said he was. "Art thou keeping house at Borg?" "True," said Egill. Spake Úfeigr: "Good things only and favourable are told to me about thee; I am told that you stint meat to no man, and are a lordly man of thy house, and that I and you have not a few things in common, both being of a great family, open-handed, but uneasily circumstanced as to means; and, moreover, that thou art fond of bestowing gifts on thy friends." Egill answered: "I should like it well to be spoken of by people as thou art, for I know that thou art a man of good family and a wise one withal." Úfeigr said: "We are unlike, however, for thou art a great chieftain, who fearest nothing that may stand in thy way, and givest never in with whomsoever thou mayest have to deal, but I am a mannikin, but as to temper and mind, there, I think we are somewhat alike; and it is a great pity that men of such lordliness and large-heartedness should be the worse off for means." Egill answered: "May be that soon things may take a turn, so as to make my circumstances easy." "How may that come about?" said Úfeigr. "It seems to me," said Egill, "that if Oddr's wealth should drift into our hands we shall not be in lack for money; for great things, indeed, are told to us of all his riches." Said Úfeigr: "It is no exaggeration if he is reported to be the richest man in Iceland; yet may be it is matter of curiosity to thee what thy share in the wealth may amount to, seeing that thou art so much in want of money." "That is true," said Egill, "and a good old carl and wise thou art, and knowest, no doubt, the whole truth about Oddr's riches." He said: "I am minded to think that that matter is better known to no one than myself, and I can tell you this, that no one, who brings the greatest reports of it, states its greatness to its full extent; and yet I have considered in my mind already how much of it would come into thy share. And I will not withhold from thee to what amount thou wouldst be made the happier man, for thy share would be one-sixteenth part of the land of Melr." "The devil take it," said Egill, "then the wealth is not so great as I expected; but how can that be?" Answered Úfeigr: "No, no; the riches are great enough, but still I am minded to think that this will be all that thou gettest; have ye not arranged that you yourselves should have one-half of Oddr's wealth, and the Quartermen the other half; then my counting comes to this, if there are eight confederates of you together, that the half of the land of Melr must fall to your share. This is according to your own arrangement, and according to what you have declared yourself in an affair taken up in such an unheard-of manner as no example may be found to match -- but, whatever the character of your suit, these are your terms. Now did you really expect that my son, Oddr, would sit quietly to let you come upon him rushing from the south? No, Oddr is not the man to sit unready in your way, and abundant as is his wealth, he is no less abundantly gifted with wits, and ready of counsel, when he deems that such is wanted; and it misdoubts me that his good ship will glide none the slower under him through the Iceland main that ye declare him a guilty man here. But a guilt it should never be called, which is so wrongly taken up, and surely it shall fall on those who have undertaken it, and by this time I expect him to be out on the main with all that is his, with the exception of the land at Melr, that he intends to leave to you. Rumour, too, had told him that there was no long distance from the sea up to your house at Borg, in case that he should bring his ship into Borgarfjörðr. Now these things will come down, even according as they were set up, that ye will reap thereof only shame and disgrace, as you richly deserve, besides every man's blame." Then said Egill: "This looks true as day; I now perceive that there are tricks at play in the case; for was it ever to be expected that Oddr should remain quiet and unready? Nay, nor shall I have a word to say to this any more, for there are some men in this case who most eagerly urge it on, and to whom I should not grudge the shame of its coming to grief, such as Styrmir, or Thórarinn, or Hermundr." Úfeigr spoke: "It will turn out, even as is right and due, that they will get many a man's blame for all this; but I should be very sorry to know your lot to be any the worse for it, as, out of all ye confederates, I have the greatest liking for thee." At this word he let sink from under his cloak a mighty purse. Egill turned a swift side glance towards it, seeing which, Úfeigr pulled up the purse in haste, and said: "It is this way, Egill," said he, "that all, what I have told to you, will come pretty nearly true, as I imagine; but I would fain do you some honour, if I might;" and out he pulls the purse, and pours the silver into the skirt of Egill's cloak, full two hundred in silver of the finest alloy. "This thou shalt have from me if thou refrainest from going against Oddr in the case, yet I mean to honour thee thereby." Egill answered: "Indeed, I think you are no mean rogue, old carl as thou art; never expect me to break an oath which once I have taken." Úfeigr answered: "Indeed, you are not the men that you deem yourselves to be, ye chieftains, who have no eye to any comfort for yourselves, if ye happen to drift into some difficulty. Now thou hadst better not act on thy declaration, for I think I can hit on a counsel whereby thou mayest hold to thy own oath." "What is that?" said Egill. Úfeigr said: "Have ye not determined to carry the case unto guilt, or otherwise to secure for yourselves self-doom in it ?" Egill said that was so.

Then said Úfeigr: "May be, that we, Oddr's kinsmen, may be allowed to choose which of the two it shall be. Now it might come to pass that the umpiredom should drift into thy hands, in which case I should like thee to have the settlement" Egill answered: "Thou speakest the truth, and sly old carl and wise art thou; yet I am not prepared for this, for I have neither might nor following strong enough to stand alone against all these chieftains, for enmity is sure to come in exchange for any hitch arising." Said Úfeigr: "How would it do if another confederate could be got to join you?" "Ah! that is more like," said Egill. Úfeigr said: "Whom of the confederates would you like best to choose? never mind me, imagine that I have a free choice of them all." "Well, there are two I will mention," said Egill: "Hermundr is my neighbour, but between him and me dealings are ill; another is Gellir, and him I will choose." "It costs a great self-sacrifice," said Úfeigr, "for I should like to see every confederate, excepting thee alone, come out of this matter in a worse case. But belike, he has wits enough to see which is the best of two things to choose, to take wealth and honour, or to forego the money and have disgrace alone. Now, art thou ready to take upon thee the matter, if it come to thee with a view to lowering the fine." "Yes, surely," said Egill. "Then that is a matter agreed on between us," said Úfeigr; "in a short while I shall be with you again."


28 December 2019 saga, bandamanna, norse, viking, translated, english Read Book