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Now we must take up the story, and say how, when Earl Hacon missed Thrain, he spoke to Sweyn his son, and said, "Let us take four long-ships, and let us fare against Njal's sons and slay them, for they must have known all about it with Thrain."

"'Tis not good counsel," says Sweyn, "to throw the blame on guiltless men, but to let him escape who is guilty."

"I shall have my way in this," says the earl.

Now they hold on after Njal's sons, and seek for them, and find them under an island.

Grim first saw the earl's ships and said to Helgi, "Here are war ships sailing up, and I see that here is the earl, and he can mean to offer us no peace."

"It is said," said Helgi, "that he is the boldest man who holds his own against all comers, and so we will defend ourselves."

They all bade him take the course he thought best, and then they took to their arms.

Now the earl comes up and called out to them, and bade them give themselves up.

Helgi said that they would defend themselves so long as they could.

Then the earl offered peace and quarter to all who would neither defend themselves nor Helgi; but Helgi was so much beloved that all said they would rather die with him.

Then the earl and his men fall on them, but they defended themselves well, and Njal's sons were ever where there was most need. The earl often offered peace, but they all made the same answer, and said they would never yield.

Then Aslak of Longisle pressed them hard and came on board their ship thrice. Then Grim said, "Thou pressest on hard, and 'twere well that thou gettest what thou seekest;" and with that he snatched up a spear and hurled it at him, and hit him under the chin, and Aslak got his death wound there and then.

A little after, Helgi slew Egil the earl's banner-bearer.

Then Sweyn, Earl Hacon's son, fell on them, and made men hem them in and bear them down with shields, and so they were taken captive.

The earl was for letting them all be slain at once, but Sweyn said that should not be, and said too that it was night.

Then the earl said, "Well, then, slay them to-morrow, but bind them fast to-night."

"So, I ween, it must be," says Sweyn; "but never yet have I met brisker men than these, and I call it the greatest manscathe to take their lives."

"They have slain two of our briskest men," said the earl, "and for that they shall be slain."

"Because they were brisker men themselves," says Sweyn; "but still in this it must be done as thou willest."

So they were bound and fettered.

After that the earl fell asleep; but when all men slept, Grim spoke to Helgi, and said, "Away would I get if I could."

"Let us try some trick then," says Helgi.

Grim sees that there lies an axe edge up, so Grim crawled thither, and gets the bowstring which bound him cut asunder against the axe, but still he got great wounds on his arms.

Then he set Helgi loose, and after that they crawled over the ship's side, and got on shore, so that neither Hacon nor his men were ware of them. Then they broke off their fetters, and walked away to the other side of the island. By that time it began to dawn. There they found a ship, and knew that there was come Kari Solmund's son. They went at once to meet him, and told him of their wrongs and hardships, and showed him their wounds, and said the earl would be then asleep.

"Ill is it," said Kari, "that ye should suffer such wrongs for wicked men; but what now would be most to your minds?"

"To fall on the earl," they say, "and slay, him."

"This will not be fated," says Kari; "but still ye do not lack heart, but we will first know whether he is there now."

After that they fared thither, and then the earl was up and away.

Then Kari sailed in to Hlada to meet the earl, and brought him the Orkney scatts, so the earl said, "Hast thou taken Njal's sons into thy keeping?"

"So it is, sure enough," says Kari.

"Wilt thou hand Njal's sons over to me?" asks the earl.

"No, I will not," said Kari.

"Wilt thou swear this," says the earl, "that thou wilt not fall on me with Njal's sons?"

Then Eric, the earl's son, spoke and said, "Such things ought not to be asked. Kari has always been our friend, and things should not have gone as they have, had I been by. Njal's sons should have been set free from all blame, but they should have had chastisement who had wrought for it. Methinks now it would be more seemly to give Njal's sons good gifts for the hardships and wrongs which have been put upon them, and the wounds they have got."

"So it ought to be, sure enough," says the earl, "but I know not whether they will take an atonement."

Then the earl said that Kari should try the feeling of Njal's sons as to an atonement.

After that Kari spoke to Helgi, and asked whether he would take any amends from the earl or not.

"I will take them," said Helgi, "from his son Eric, but I will have nothing to do with the earl."

Then Kari told Eric their answer.

"So it shall be." says Eric. "He shall take the amends from me if he thinks it better; and tell them this too, that I bid them to my house, and my father shall do them no harm."

This bidding they took, and went to Eric's house, and were with him till Kari was ready to sail west across the sea to meet Earl Sigurd.

Then Eric made a feast for Kari, and gave him gifts, and Njal's sons gifts too. After that Kari fared west across the sea, and met Earl Sigurd, and he greeted them very well, and they were with the earl that winter.

But when the spring came, Kari asked Njal's sons to go on warfare with him, but Grim said they would only do so if he would fare with them afterwards out to Iceland. Kari gave his word to do that, and then they fared with him a-searoving. They harried south about Anglesea and all the Southern isles. Thence they held on to Cantyre, and landed there, and fought with the landsmen, and got thence much goods, and so fared to their ships. Thence they fared south to Wales, and harried there. Then they held on for Alan, and there they met Godred, and fought with him, and got the victory, and slew Dungal the king's son. There they took great spoil. Thence they held on north to Coll, and found Earl Gilli there, and he greeted them well and there they stayed with him a while. The earl fared with them to the Orkneys to meet Earl Sigurd, but next spring Earl Sigurd gave away his sister Nereida to Earl Gilli, and then he fared back to the Southern isles.

Next: 89. Njal's Sons And Kari Come Out To Iceland