Chapter 75 - There were fifteen men attacked Egil.

Egil went till he came to Alf's, and was there for the night in good quarters. Next morning he rose before day and made ready for his journey. And while they sat over their morning meal, Alf the master came in. He said: 'You are making a start betimes, Egil; but my counsel would be that you hurry not your journey, but rather look before you, for I think there be liers-in-wait for you in the wood. I have no men to give you as escort who would be any strength to you: but this I offer, that ye tarry here with me till I can report to you that the wood is safe.' Egil said: 'That will be mere nonsense. I will go on my way as I before meant to do.'

So he and his men made ready to go, while Alf tried to stop them, and bade them come back, if they saw that the way was trodden: 'None,' he said, 'have passed the wood from the east since you, Egil, went eastward, except these, who, as I suspect, have gone wishing to encounter you.' Egil said, 'How many will they be, think you, if it is as you say? We have not lost the game, though there be some odds against us.' Alf said: 'I with my house-carles had gone to the wood, and we came on men's footprints; the trail led into the wood, and there must have been many in all. But if you do not believe this that I say, go and see for yourself the trail, and then turn back, if it seems as I tell you.' Egil went his way, and when they came where the road entered the wood, they saw there the tracks both of men and horses. Egil's comrades then advised that they should turn back. 'We will go on,' said Egil: 'methinks 'tis no wonder that men have gone through Eida-wood, for it is a public road.' So they went on, and the footmarks continued, being of a numerous company. And when they came there where the roads forked, then the trail also forked, and was equally strong either way.

Then said Egil: 'Now I think that maybe Alf has told the truth. We will now make us ready as expecting an encounter.' So then Egil and his men doffed their cloaks and all their loose clothing, and laid these on the sledge. Egil had brought in his sledge a very long cord of bast, for it is the wont of those who take long sledging journeys to have with them some spare cord in case the harness need mending. Egil took a large flat stone, and laid it before his breast and stomach. Then he bent thereon the cord, and wound it round and round him, and so encased him right up to the shoulders. After that they continued on.

Eida-wood is of this kind: there is reaching to the cultivated land on either side dense forest, but in the middle is a wide space of shrubs and thin copse, with some parts quite bare of wood. Egil and his company turned by the shorter way, which lay over the ridge. They all had shields and helms, and weapons both to cut and thrust. Egil walked first. And when they came to the ridge, there was wood at the foot of it, but above on the rock it was bare. But when they came up to the rock, then seven men leapt out of the wood and up to the cliff after them, and shot at them. Egil and his men turned and stood abreast across the path. Then came other men against them from above on the crag's brow, and cast stones at them, and this was by far the greater danger. Then said Egil, 'Now must you step back and close to the cliff, and cover yourselves as best ye may; but I will try to win the summit.' They did so. And when Egil got past the rock out on the top, there were in front eight men, who all at once set upon him. Of their exchange of blows nought is there to tell: the end was that Egil slew them all. Then he went forward to the verge of the summit and hurled over stones, that none could withstand; and thereafter three of the Vermians fell, but four gat them into the wood sore wounded and bruised.

Then Egil and his men took their horses and went on their way till they came over the ridge. But the Vermians who had escaped brought news of this to their fellows, who were by the bog. They then advanced by the lower road and so beset the way in front of Egil. Ulf said to his comrades: 'We must now go cunningly to work with them, and so manage that none get away. This,' said he, 'is the nature of the ground: the road skirts the ridge, close to the foot of which runs the bog, while a rocky brow is above, and the passage lies between these and is no broader than a footpath. Now some of us shall go forward round the brow to withstand them if they advance; but some shall hide here in the wood, and leap out at their back when they have got on before us. And take we such heed that none escape.' They did as Ulf bade: Ulf went forward round the brow and ten men with him.

Egil and his men went on their way knowing nought of this plan till they came into the narrow path. Then out leapt men behind them, and drove at them with weapons. They faced about and defended themselves. Now also dashed at them those who were in front of the rocky brow; and when Egil saw that, he turned to meet them. Quick were the blows exchanged between them; and Egil smote down some in the narrow pass, but some turned back to where there was more level space. Egil dashed after them. There fell Ulf. And in the end Egil slew there single-handed eleven men. Then he went where his comrades were keeping the pass before eight men: there were some wounded on either side. But when Egil came, then at once the Vermians fled to the wood hard by. Five escaped, all sore wounded, but three fell there. Egil had many wounds, but none serious.

They then continued their journey. He bound his comrades' wounds, none of which were mortal. They sat in the sledge, and drove for the rest of the day.

But the Vermians who escaped took their horses, and dragged themselves from the wood eastwards to inhabited parts. There they got their wounds bound. Procuring companions, they made their way to the earl, and told him of their misadventure. They told how both the Ulfs had fallen, twenty-five men were dead, and but five escaped with life, and they all wounded and bruised. The earl then asked what were the tidings of Egil and his comrades. They answered: 'We know not for sure how much they were wounded; but full boldly did they set on us when we were eight and they four; then we fled. Five reached the wood, but three perished; yet, for all we could see, Egil and his men were as fresh as ever.'

The earl said that their journey had been as bad as could be. 'I could have been content we should have great loss of life, had ye but slain these Northmen; but now when they come west from the wood and tell these tidings to Norway's king, then may we expect from him the very hardest terms.'








 



75. kafli - eir Egill drpu hlfan rija tug manna.

Egill fr, til ess er hann kom til lfs, ok var ar um ntt gum beinleika. Eftir um morgininn st hann upp fyrir dag, bjst til ferar.

Ok er eir stu yfir dagveri, kom ar lfr bndi. Hann mlti: "Snemma bizt r, Egill, en hitt myndi mitt r at hrapa ekki ferinni, sjst heldr fyrir, v at ek tla, at menn munu settir fyrir yr skginn. Ek hefi ekki menn til at f r til fylgar, sv at r s styrkr at, en at vil ek bja, at dvelist hr me mr, ar til er ek kann at at segja r, at frt mun um skginn."

Egill segir: "at mun ekki nema hgmi einn. Mun ek fara veg minn, sem ek hefi r tlat."

eir Egill bjuggust til farar, en lfr latti ok ba hann aftr fara, ef hann yri varr vi, at vegrinn vri troinn, sagi, at ar hefi engi mar farit yfir skginn austan, san er Egill fr austr, - "nema essir hafi farit, er mr er vn, at yr vili finna."

"Hvat tlar , hversu margir eir muni vera, ef sv er sem r segi? Ekki erum vr uppnmir, tt nkkurr s lismunr."

Hann segir: "Ek var farinn fram til skgarins ok hskarlar mnir me mr, ok kmum vit mannafar, ok l s sl fram skginn, ok mundu eir hafa verit margir saman. En ef trir eigi v, er ek segi r, far angat ok sj slina, en sn aftr, ef r snist sem ek segi r."

Egill fr sna lei. Ok er eir kmu veginn, ann er skginn l, s eir ar bi manna spor ok hrossa. mltu frunautar Egils, at eir skyldi aftr hverfa.

"Fara munum vr," sagi Egill. "ykkir mr at ekki undarligt, tt menn hafi farit um Eiaskg, v at at er alulei."

San fru eir, ok helzt ferillinn, ok var fjli spora, ok er eir koma ar, er leiir skili, skili ok slina, ok var jafnmikil hvrn sta.

mlti Egill: "N ykkir mr vera mega, at lfr hafi satt sagt. Skulum vr n bast um, sv sem oss s vn, at fundr vrr muni vera."

San kasta eir Egill af sr skikkjum ok llum lausaklum. Leggja eir at slea. Egill hafi haft slea snum bastlnu mjk mikla, v at at er sir manna, er aka langar leiir, at hafa me sr lausataugir, ef at reia arf at gera. Egill tk hellustein mikinn ok lagi fyrir brjst sr ok kviinn. San rbendi hann ar at taugina ok vafi henni svafi ok bj sv allt upp um herarnar. Eftir at fara eir lei sna.

Eiaskgr er ann veg, at mrk er str allt at bygginni hvrritveggju, en um mijan skginn er va smvii ok kjrr, en sums staar skglaust me llu.

eir Egill sneru lei ina skemmri, er yfir hlsinn l. Allir hfu eir skjldu ok hjlma ok hggvpn ok lagvpn. Egill fr fyrir eim. Ok er eir fru at hlsinum, var ar undir niri skgr, en skglaust uppi klifinu.

En er eir vru komnir upp klifit, hljpu sjau menn r skginum ok upp kleifina eftir eim ok skutu at eim. eir Egill snerust vi, ok stu eir jafnfram um vera gtuna. kmu arir menn ofan at eim hamarinn, ok grttu eir aan , ok var eim at miklu httara.

mlti Egill: "N skulu r fara hli undan kleifina ok hlfast sem r megu, en ek mun leita upp bergit."

eir geru sv. Ok er Egill kom upp r klifinu, vru ar fyrir tta menn ok gengu allir senn at honum ok sttu hann. En ekki er at segja fr hggva viskiptum, sv lauk, at hann felldi alla. San gekk hann bergit fram ok bar ofan grjt, ok st ar ekki vi. Lgu ar eftir rr inir vermsku, en fjrir kmust skginn, ok vru eir srir ok barir.

San tku eir Egill hesta sna ok fru fram lei, til ess er eir kmu yfir hlsinn, en eir inir vermsku, er undan hfu komizt, geru njsn flgum snum, eim er vi fenin vru. Stefndu eir fram ina neri leiina ok sv fram fyrir Egil veginn.

sagi lfr flgum snum: "N skulum vr fara at rum vi , stilla sv til, at eir ni eigi at renna. Hr er annig til farit," segir hann, "at leiin liggr fram me hlsinum, en feninu vkr at upp, ok er ar hamarr fyrir ofan, en brautin liggr fram milli ok er eigi breiari en gtubreidd. Skulu sumir fara fram um hamarinn ok taka vi eim, ef eir vilja fram, en sumir skulu leynast hr skginum ok hlaupa san bak eim, er eir koma fram um. Gtum sv til, at engi komist undan."

eir geru sv sem lfr mlti. Fr lfr fram um bergit ok tu menn me honum.

eir Egill fara sna lei ok vissu ekki til essar ragerar, fyrr en eir kmu einstigit. hljpu ar menn bak eim ok bru egar vpn . eir Egill snerust mti ok vrust. N drfa ok menn at eim, eir er verit hfu fyrir framan hamarinn, ok er Egill s at, snerist hann mti eim. Var ar skammt hggva millum, ok felldi Egill ar suma gtunni, en sumir hurfu aftr, ar er jafnlendit var meira. Egill stti eftir eim. ar fell lfr, ok at lykum drap Egill ar einn ellifu menn. San stti hann ar til, er frunautar hans vru gtuna fyrir tta mnnum. Vru ar hvrirtveggju srir. Ok er Egill kom til, flu egar inir vermsku, en skgrinn var vi sjlft. Kmust ar undan fimm ok allir srir mjk, en rr fellu ar.

Egill hafi mrg sr ok engi str. Fru eir n sna lei. Hann batt sr frunauta sinna, ok vru engi banvn. Settust eir slea ok ku, at er eftir var dagsins.

En eir inir vermsku, er undan kmust, tku hesta sna ok drgust austr af skginum til bygga. Vru bundin sr eira. F eir sr fruneyti, til ess er eir kmu fund jarls, ok segja honum snar farar.

eir segja, at hvrrtveggi lfr er fallinn ok dauir vru hlfr rii tigr manna, - "en fimm einir kmust undan me lfi ok eir allir srir ok barir."

Jarl spuri, hvat vri tenda um Egil ok hans frunauta.

eir svruu: "gerla vissum vr hversu mjk eir vru srir, en rit djarfliga sttu eir at oss. er vr vrum tta, en eir fjrir, flum vr. Kmust fimm skginn, en rir ltust, en eigi sum vr annat en eir Egill vri spnnir."

Jarlinn sagi, at eira fer var orin in versta. "Mynda ek kunna v, at vr hefim mannalt mikit, ef r hefi drepit Normennina, en n er eir koma vestr af skginum ok segja essi tendi Nregskonungi, eigum vr af honum vn inna mestu afarkosta."

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