SO Bork and his men rode on after that by the path over the sands till they get across the mouth of Sandwater; there they get off their horses and bait. Then Thorkel says he wishes to see his brother-in-law Aunund, and that he will ride on hard before them. But as soon as ever he was out of sight be rides straight for Hol, and says what had happened, and how Thordisa had given out that Gisli slew Thorgrim.
“Now,” he says, “the story is in every man’s mouth.”
Gisli was silent a while, and then chaunted:
“My sister loves to tire her head,
But little thinks of Gudrun dead–
Gudrun, that high-souled Gjuki’s child,
Who saw her husband slain, and smiled;
Another husband she might have,
But barren lies a brother’s grave ;
And so, to ‘venge her brother’s fall,
She slew her husband, sons, and all.
“And yet I never thought she would do this, for I think I have often shown that her dishonour was not a whit less felt by me than my own. Sometimes, too, I have had my life in peril for her sake, but now she deals me this death-blow. But what am I to look for at thy hands, kinsman, now that I have done such a deed?”
“This,” said Thorkel, “I will warn thee if I am myself aware that men are about to lie in wait for thy life, but I will give thee no other help for which I may get into trouble. Methinks, too, thou hast much misdone against me–slain both my brother-in-law, and partner, and bosom friend.”
“Well,” says Gisli, “was it not to be looked for, for such a man as Vestein was, that some revenge must be had for his loss? I would not answer thee as thou answerest me; nor would I do as thou doest.”
So those brothers parted, and now Thorkel rides back to meet Bork, and they ride west across the heath. Bork does not draw bridle till he comes south to Thorsness, and sets his house in order there. As for Thorkel Soursop he buys him land at Bardastrand at a place called “the Combe.”
But when the summoning days are coming on Bork sets out with sixty men for the west firths, and means to summon Gisli to take his trial at Thorsness Thing, and Thorkel went with him, and Thorodd and Quarrelsome Stein, Bork’s nephews, the sons of Thordisa, the daughter of Thorstein Codbiter. There was an Easterling too, named Thorgrim, who went with them.
So they all fared till they came to Sandwatermouth. Then Thorkel says that he has some debts to call for at a farm called Hol, farther on in their way.
“I will ride on first,” he says; and so he does. But as soon as ever he reached the farm he bade the housewife change horses with him.
“But let this horse of mine stand outside before the door, saddled and bridled, and when they come by–my fellow-travellers–say I am indoors telling silver.”‘
She did as he bade her–got him another horse; and he rides might and main to Hol, sees Gisli, and tells what was about to befall him. Gisli asks Thorkel again what counsel was best to take, and what countenance he will give him. But Thorkel answers as before that he will do naught else but warn him if any danger is about to befall him.
Now Thorkel rides away, and so shapes his course that he rode round behind Bork and his fellows, mounts his own horse, and overtakes them. He delays them as much as he can, and makes them lose much time. But as soon as those brothers parted–Thorkel and Gisli–Gisli takes two sledges, and drives off with them into the wood, with all his goods and chattels: he had already sold his land to Thorkel, Erie’s son: and he takes Thord the Hareheart, his thrall, with him. Then Gisli said to Thord:
“Oft hast thou been faithful and obedient to me, and done my bidding, and I am bound to repay thee well.” It was ever Gisli’s wont to wear a blue cape, and he was often well clad; and now Gisli goes on to say:
“I will give thee this cape, friend; put it on at once, and get up on the last sledge. But I will lead the horses and wear thy cloak.” So they did that, and Thord thanks him over and over again for the gift.
Again Gisli said:
“Bear in mind, though men may follow on our heels, never to answer a word if they call out to thee! But if the worst comes to the worst, and they try to do thee harm, jump down and run away into the wood, and let it shield us.”
So they changed clothes. Thord was something like Gisli in bearing and gait, and a tall, proper man, but as to his courage and wit there was not a pin to choose between them; he had not a spark of either.
Now, Bork and his friends see Gisli going off into the wood, and run after them as hard as they can. But when Thord sees that, he jumps off the sledge in a trice, and runs nimbly among the trees. They all thought they knew Gisli, and press on after him, and call out to him, but he utters never a word. Then Thorgrim the Easterling hurls his spear after him, and hit the thrall between the shoulders, and he fell flat on his face, and needed no more.
Then Bork bawled out “Good luck. to thee for thy shot, thou happy man!”
As for the brothers Thorodd and Quarrelsome Stein, they spoke together and said: “We will e’en hold on after the thrall, and see if he shows any sport.”
So they turned after him.
But when Bork and his friends came to the man in the blue cape they stripped him of it, and saw who it was. And now they think the deed not so lucky as they weened at first, for they saw it was only Thord the Hareheart.
As for those brothers, it is said they saw Gisli near enough to know him among the trees. Then one of them hurled a spear at him, but he catches it in the air, and hurls it back, and it comes towards Thorodd’s waist, and flies right through him. Then Stein turns back to meet his companions, and tells them what had happened.
After that they all went into the wood to beat it for Gisli. And lo! the Easterling sees that the twigs stirred in one place, and he casts a spear at a venture thither, and hits Gisli in the calf. But he sends the spear back again to its owner, and aims so that it struck the Easterling in the breast, and slew him there and then.
Now Bork and his men beat about the wood and cannot find him.; and then they turn back to Gisli’s house and set the suit on foot against him, for now the proofs were as plain as day, and they had more than guesswork to go on. They did not plunder anything there. So Bork fares back home, little pleased with his journey.
Now Gisli goes up to the fell which stands by his farm, and there he binds his wounds. He stays there so long as Bork and his men are in his homestead, and thence be sees all that passes. As soon as they are gone he goes home and makes ready to leave Hol with all his household. He takes a boat and so flits his goods and cattle. Auda his wife went with him and Gudrida, his foster-child. He sails out of Dyrafirth as far as Husaness, and there lands. Gisli goes up to the farm, and meets a man, who asks him what man he was. Gisli told him what he pleased, but not the real truth. With that Gisli takes up a stone and throws it out on to the Holm, which lies off the land there, and bade the churl’s son do the like when he got home, and said perhaps he would then know what man had been there. But there was never a man who could throw a stone so far; and here again it came out that Gisli was better than most others in feats of strength. After that he went on board his boat and rows round the ness, and across Arnarfirth, and across that firth that turns aside from Arnarfirth, and is called Geirthiofsfirth. There he set up his abode, and built a whole homestead, and dwelt there that winter.
The next thing that happens is that Gisli sends word to his brothers-in-law, Helgi, and Sigurd, and Vestgeir, to go to the Thing and offer an atonement for him, that he might not be outlawed. So they set off for the Thing the sons of Bjartmar, and could bring nothing to pass about the atonement; and men go so far as to say that they behaved very ill, so that they almost burst out into tears ere the suit was over. They were then very young, and Bork the Stout was so wroth they could do nothing with him.
When the Thing was over they went west and saw Thorkel the Wealthy of Alvidra, and tell him all that had happened, and begged him to see Gisli and tell him, for they said they did not dare to say to his face that he was an outlaw.
So Gisli was outlawed. That was the great news at that Thing. And Thorkel the Wealthy went and told Gisli. Then Gisli chaunted this stave:
“At Thorsness Thing
My suit at law
Had never failed
For quirk or flaw,
Had Vestein’s heart,
That never blenched,
In Bjartmar’s babies
“They quailed, those kinsmen of my wife,
When all their souls should warm with strife.
To think that here was work to do,
And foes to foil and conquer too.
And so they fled the throng of men,
As when, with addle egg of hen,
The base-born thrall is pelted down
By all the riff-raff of the town.
“Evil tidings from the North,
An outlaw now I wander forth
A forfeit life by land and sea
None dares to speak a word for me
But still, O man in battle tried,
O bounteous man, whate’er betide,
Know this, that vengeance shall be mine
On those two caitiffs, Bork and Stein.”
Both those namesakes, the Thorkels, say they will give him all the shelter they can, so that they run no risk of losing life or land. After that they went home.
From: The Story/Saga of Gisli the Outlaw
Translated From The Icelandic Sir George Webbe Dasent D.C.L. With Illustrations By C. E. St. John-Mildmay