Of the slander of Mord Valgard's son
A little after Njal's sons and Hauskuld were to have their yearly feasts, and they were the first to bid Hauskuld to come to them.
Skarphedinn had a brown horse four winters old, both tall and sightly. He was a stallion, and had never yet been matched in fight. That horse Skarphedinn gave to Hauskuld, and along with him two mares. They all gave Hauskuld gifts, and assured him of their friendship.
After that Hauskuld bade them to his house at Ossaby, and had many guests to meet them, and a great crowd.
It happened that he had just then taken down his hall, but he had built three out-houses, and there the beds were made.
So all that were bidden came, and the feast went off very well. But when men were to go home Hauskuld picked out good gifts for them, and went a part of the way with Njal's sons.
The sons of Sigfus followed him and all the crowd, and both sides said that nothing should ever come between them to spoil their friendship.
A little while after Mord came to Ossaby and called Hauskuld out to talk with him, and they went aside and spoke.
"What a difference in manliness there is," said Mord, "between thee and Njal's sons! Thou gavest them good gifts, but they gave thee gifts with great mockery."
"How makest thou that out?" says Hauskuld.
"They gave thee a horse which they called a 'dark horse,' and that they did out of mockery at thee, because they thought thee too untried, I can tell thee also that they envy thee the priesthood, Skarphedinn took it up as his own at the Thing when thou camest not to the Thing at the summoning of the Fifth Court, and Skarphedinn never means to let it go."
"That is not true," says Hauskuld, "for I got it back at the Folkmote last harvest."
"Then that was Njal's doing," says Mord. "They broke, too, the atonement about Lyting."
"I do not mean to lay that at their door," says Hauskuld.
"Well," says Mord, "thou canst not deny that when ye two, Skarphedinn and thou, were going east towards Markfleet, an axe fell out from under his belt, and he meant to have slain thee then and there."
"It was his woodman's axe," says Hauskuld, "and I saw how he put it under his belt; and now, Mord, I will just tell thee this right out, that thou canst never say so much ill of Njal's sons as to make me believe it; but though there were aught in it, and it were true as thou sayest, that either I must slay them or they me, then would I far rather suffer death at their hands than work them any harm. But as for thee, thou art all the worse a man for having spoken this."
After that Mord fares home. A little after Mord goes to see Njal's sons, and he talks much with those brothers and Kari.
"I have been told," says Mord, "that Hauskuld has said that thou, Skarphedinn, hast broken the atonement made with Lyting; but I was made aware also that he thought that thou hadst meant some treachery against him when ye two fared to Markfleet. But still, methinks that was no less treachery when he bade you to a feast at his house, and stowed you away in an outhouse that was farthest from the house, and wood was then heaped round the outhouse all night, and he meant to burn you all inside; but it so happened that Hogni Gunnar's son came that night, and naught came of their onslaught, for they were afraid of him. After that he followed you on your way and great band of men with him, then he meant to make another onslaught on you, and set Grani Gunnar's son, and Gunnar Lambi's son to kill thee; but their hearts failed them, and they dared not to fall on thee."
But when he had spoken thus, first of all they spoke against it, but the end of it was that they believed him, and from that day forth a coldness sprung up on their part towards Hauskuld, and they scarcely ever spoke to him when they met; but Hauskuld showed them little deference, and so things went on for a while.
Next harvest Hauskuld fared east to Swinefell to a feast, and Flosi gave him a hearty welcome. Hildigunna was there too. Then Flosi spoke to Hauskuld and said -
"Hildigunna tells me that there is great coldness with you and Njal's sons, and methinks that is ill, and I will beg thee not to ride west, but I will get thee a homestead in Skaptarfell, and I will send my brother, Thorgeir, to dwell at Ossaby."
"Then some will say," says Hauskuld, "that I am flying thence for fear's sake, and that I will not have said."
"Then it is more likely that great trouble will arise," says Flosi.
"Ill is that then," says Hauskuld, "for I would rather fall unatoned, than that many should reap ill for my sake."
Hauskuld busked him to ride home a few nights after, but Flosi gave him a scarlet cloak, and it was embroidered with needlework down to the waist.
Hauskuld rode home to Ossaby, and now all is quiet for a while.
Hauskuld was so much beloved that few men were his foes, but the same ill-will went on between him and Njal's sons the whole winter through.
Njal had taken as his foster-child, Thord, the son of Kari. He had also fostered Thorhall, the son of Asgrim Ellidagrim's son. Thorhall was a strong man, and hardy both in body and mind, he had learnt so much law that he was the third greatest lawyer in Iceland.
Next spring was an early spring, and men are busy sowing their corn.