Asgrim and Njal's sons pray men for help
By that time Flosi had come to the Thing, and filled all his booths. Runolf filled the Dale-dwellers' booths, and Mord the booths of the men from Rangriver. Hall of the Side had long since come from the east, but scarce any of the other men; but still Hall of the Side had come with a great band, and joined this at once to Flosi's company, and begged him to take an atonement and to make peace.
Hall was a wise man and good-hearted, Flosi answered him well in everything, but gave way in nothing.
Hall asked what men had promised him help? Flosi named Mord Valgard's son, and said he had asked for his daughter at the hand of his kinsman Starkad.
Hall said she was a good match, but it was ill dealing with Mord, "and that thou wilt put to the proof ere this Thing be over".
After that they ceased talking.
One day Njal and Asgrim had a long talk in secret.
Then all at once Asgrim sprang up and said to Njal's sons -
"We must set about seeking friends, that we may not be overborne by force; for this suit will be followed up boldly."
Then Asgrim went out, and Helgi Njal's son next; then Kari Solmund's son; then Grim Njal's son; then Skarphedinn; then Thorhall; then Thorgrim the big; then Thorleif crow.
They went to the booth of Gizur the white and inside it. Gizur stood up to meet them, and bade them sit down and drink.
"Not thitherward," says Asgrim, "tends our way, and we will speak our errand out loud, and not mutter and mouth about it. What help shall I have from thee, as thou art my kinsman?"
"Jorunn my sister," said Gizur, "would wish that I should not shrink from standing by thee; and so it shall be now and hereafter, that we will both of us have the same fate."
Asgrim thanked him, and went away afterwards.
Then Skarphedinn asked, "Whither shall we go now?"
"To the booths of the men of Olfus," says Asgrim.
So they went thither, and Asgrim asked whether Skapti Thorod's son were in the booth? He was told that he was. Then they went inside the booth.
Skapti sate on the cross bench, and greeted Asgrim, and he took the greeting well.
Skapti offered Asgrim a seat by his side, but Asgrim said he should only stay there a little while, "but still we have an errand to thee".
"Let me hear it," says Skapti.
"I wish to beg thee for thy help, that thou wilt stand by us in our suit."
"One thing I had hoped," says Skapti, "and that is, that neither you nor your troubles would ever come into my dwelling."
"Such things are ill-spoken," says Asgrim, "when a man is the last to help others, when most lies on his aid."
"Who is yon man," says Skapti, "before whom four men walk, a big burly man, and pale-faced, unlucky-looking, well-knit, and troll-like?"
"My name is Skarphedinn," he answers, "and thou hast often seen me at the Thing; but in this I am wiser than thou, that I have no need to ask what thy name is. Thy name is Skapti Thorod's son, but before thou calledst thyself 'Bristle-poll,' after thou hadst slain Kettle of Elda; then thou shavedst thy poll, and puttedst pitch on thy head, and then thou hiredst thralls to cut up a sod of turf, and thou creptest underneath it to spend the night. After that thou wentest to Thorolf Lopt's son of Eyrar, and he took thee on board, and bore thee out here in his meal sacks."
After that Asgrim and his band went out, and Skarphedinn asked -
"Whither shall we go now?"
"To Snorri the Priest's booth," says Asgrim.
Then they went to Snorri's booth. There was a man outside before the booth, and Asgrim asked whether Snorri were in the booth.
The man said he was.
Asgrim went into the booth, and all the others. Snorri was sitting on the cross bench, and Asgrim went and stood before him, and hailed him well.
Snorri took his greeting blithely, and bade him sit down.
Asgrim said he should be only a short time there, "but we have an errand with thee".
Snorri bade him tell it.
"I would," said Asgrim, "that thou wouldst come with me to the court, and stand by me with thy help, for thou art a wise man, and a great man of business."
"Suits fall heavy on us now," says Snorri the Priest, "and now many men push forward against us, and so we are slow to take up the troublesome suits of other men from other quarters."
"Thou mayest stand excused," says Asgrim, "for thou art not in our debt for any service."
"I know," says Snorri, "that thou art a good man and true, and I will promise thee this, that I will not be against thee, and not yield help to thy foes."
Asgrim thanked him, and Snorri the Priest asked -
"Who is that man before whom four go, pale-faced, and sharp-featured, and who shows his front teeth, and has his axe aloft on his shoulder?"
"My name is Hedinn," he says, "but some men call me Skarphedinn by my full name; but what more hast thou to say to me?"
"This," said Snorri the Priest, "that methinks thou art a well-knit, ready-handed man, but yet I guess that the best part of thy good fortune is past, and I ween thou hast not long to live."
"That is well," says Skarphedinn, "for that is a debt we all have to pay, but still it were more needful to avenge thy father than to foretell my fate in this way."
"Many have said that before," says Snorri, "and I will not be angry at such words."
After that they went out, and got no help there. Then they fared to the booths of the men of Skagafirth. There Hafr the wealthy had his booth. The mother of Hafr was named Thoruna, she was a daughter of Asbjorn baldpate of Myrka, the son of Hrosbjorn.
Asgrim and his band went into the booth, and Hafr sate in the midst of it, and was talking to a man.
Asgrim went up to him, and hailed him well; he took it kindly, and bade him sit down.
"This I would ask of thee," said Asgrim, "that thou wouldst grant me and my sons-in-law help."
Hafr answered sharp and quick, and said he would have nothing to do with their troubles.
"But still I must ask who that pale-faced man is before whom four men go, so ill-looking, as though he had come out of the sea-crags."
"Never mind, milksop that thou art!" said Skarphedinn, "who I am, for I will dare to go forward wherever thou standest before me, and little would I fear though such striplings were in my path. 'Twere rather thy duty, too, to get back thy sister Swanlauga, whom Eydis ironsword and his messmate Stediakoll took away out of thy house, but thou didst not dare to do aught against them."
"Let us go out," said Asgrim, "there is no hope of help here."
Then they went out to the booths of men of Modruvale, and asked whether Gudmund the powerful were in the booth, but they were told he was.
Then they went into the booth. There was a high seat in the midst of it, and there sate Gudmund the powerful.
Asgrim went and stood before him, and hailed him.
Gudmund took his greeting well, and asked him to sit down.
"I will not sit," said Asgrim, "but I wish to pray thee for help, for thou art a bold man and a mighty chief."
"I will not be against thee," said Gudmund, "but if I see fit to yield thee help, we may well talk of that afterwards," and so he treated them well and kindly in every way.
Asgrim thanked him for his words, and Gudmund said -
"There is one man in your band at whom I have gazed for awhile, and he seems to me more terrible than most men that I have seen."
"Which is he?" says Asgrim.
"Four go before him," says Gudmund; "dark brown is his hair, and pale is his face; tall of growth and sturdy. So quick and shifty in his manliness, that I would rather have his following than that of ten other men; but yet the man is unlucky-looking."
"I know," said Skarphedinn, "that thou speakest at me, but it does not go in the same way as to luck with me and thee. I have blame, indeed, from the slaying of Hauskuld, the Whiteness priest, as is fair and right; but both Thorkel foulmouth and Thorir Helgi's son spread abroad bad stories about thee, and that has tried thy temper very much."
Then they went out, and Skarphedinn said -
"Whither shall we go now?"
"To the booths of the men of Lightwater," said Asgrim.
There Thorkel foulmouth had set up his booth.
Thorkel foulmouth had been abroad and worked his way to fame in other lands. He had slain a robber east in Jemtland's wood, and then he fared on east into Sweden, and was a messmate of Saurkvir the churl, and they harried eastward ho; but to the east of Baltic side.ö Thorkel had to fetch water for them one evening; then he met a wild man of the woods,ö and struggled against him long; but the end of it was that he slew the wild man. Thence he fared east into Adalsyssla, and there he slew a flying fire-drake. After that he fared back to Sweden, and thence to Norway, and so out to Iceland, and let these deeds of derring do be carved over his shut bed, and on the stool before his high-seat. He fought, too, on Lightwater way with his brothers against Gudmund the powerful, and the men of Lightwater won the day. He and Thorir Helgi's son spread abroad bad stories about Gudmund. Thorkel said there was no man in Iceland with whom he would not fight in single combat, or yield an inch to, if need were. He was called Thorkel foulmouth, because he spared no one with whom he had to do either in word or deed.