Chapter 38 - Of the slaying of the Giukings.

Now King Atli eggs on his folk to set on fiercely, and eagerly they fight; but the Giukings fell on so hard that King Atli gave back into the hall, and within doors was the fight, and fierce beyond all fights.

That battle was the death of many a man, but such was the ending thereof, that there fell all the folk of those brethren, and they twain alone stood up on their feet, and yet many more must fare to hell first before their weapons.

And now they fell on Gunnar the king, and because of the host of men that set on him was hand laid on him, and he was cast into fetters; afterwards fought Hogni, with the stoutest heart and the greatest manlihood; and he felled to earth twenty of the stoutest of the champions of King Atli, and many he thrust into the fire that burnt amidst the hall, and all were of one accord that such a man might scarce be seen; yet in the end was he borne down by many and taken.

Then said King Atli, "A marvellous thing how many men have gone their ways before him! Cut the heart from out of him, and let that be his bane!"

Hogni said, "Do according to thy will; merrily will I abide whatso thou writ do against me; and thou shalt see that my heart is not adrad, for hard matters have I made trial of ere now, and all things that may try a man was I fain to bear, whiles yet I was unhurt; but now sorely am I hurt, and thou alone henceforth will bear mastery in our dealings together."

Then spake a counsellor of King Atli, "Better rede I see thereto; take we the thrall Hjalli, and give respite to Hogni; for this thrall is made to die, since the longer he lives the less worth shall he be."

The thrall hearkened, and cried out aloft, and fled away anywhither where he might hope for shelter, crying out that a hard portion was his because of their strife and wild doings, and an ill day for him whereon he must be dragged to death from his sweet life and his swine-keeping. But they caught him, and turned a knife against him, and he yelled and screamed or ever he felt the point thereof.

Then in such wise spake Hogni as a man seldom speaketh who is fallen into hard need, for he prayed for the thrall's life, and said that these shrieks he could not away with, and that it were a lesser matter to him to play out the play to the end; and therewithal the thrall gat his life as for that time: but Gunnar and Hogni are both laid in fetters.

Then spake King Atli with Gunnar the king, and bade him tell out concerning the gold, and where it was, if he would have his life.

But he answered, "Nay, first will I behold the bloody heart of Hogni, my brother."

So now they caught hold of the thrall again, and cut the heart from out of him, and bore it unto King Gunnar, but he said--

"The faint heart of Hjalli may ye here behold, little like the proud heart of Hogni, for as much as it trembleth now more by the half it trembled whenas it lay in the breast of him."

So now they fell on Hogni even as Atli urged them, and cut the heart from out of him, but such was the might of his manhood, that he laughed while he abode that torment, and all wondered at his worth, and in perpetual memory is it held sithence.1

Then they showed it2 to Gunnar, and he said--

"The mighty heart of Hogni, little like the faint heart of Hjalli, for little as it trembleth now, less it trembled whenas in his breast it lay! But now, O Atli, even as we die so shalt thou die; and lo, I alone wot where the gold is, nor shall Hogni be to tell thereof now; to and fro played the matter in my mind whiles we both lived, but now have I myself determined for myself, and the Rhine river shall rule over the gold, rather than that the Huns shall bear it on the hands of them."

Then said King Atli, "Have away the bondsman;" and so they did.

But Gudrun called to her men, and came to Atli, and said--

"May it fare ill with thee now and from henceforth, even as thou hast ill held to thy word with me!"

So Gunnar was cast into a worm-close, and many worms abode him there, and his hands were fast bound; but Gudrun sent him a harp, and in such wise did he set forth his craft, that wisely he smote the harp, smiting it with his foes, and so excellently well he played, that few deemed they had heard such playing, even when the hand had done it. And with such might and power he played, that all worms fell asleep in the end, save one adder only, great and evil of aspect, that crept unto him and thrust its sting into him until it smote his heart; and in such wise with great hardihood he ended his life days.

[1. Since ("sidh", after, and "dham", that.).

2. Hogni's heart

* The chapter numbering has been skewed by one, this is Chapter 37 in the Old Norse.]

 



38. Kaptuli

N eggjar Atli konungr liit at gera hara skn; berjast n snarpliga, ok skja Gjkungar at sv fast, at Atli konungr hrkkr inn hllina, ok berjast n inni, ok var orrostan allhr.

Sj bardagi var me miklu mannspelli ok lkr sv, at fellr allt li eira brra, sv at eir standa tveir upp, ok fr r margr mar til heljar fyrir eira vpnum.

N er stt at Gunnari konungi, ok fyrir sakir ofreflis var hann hndum tekinn ok fjtra settr. San barist Hgni af mikilli hreysti ok drengskap ok felldi ina strstu kappa Atla konungs tuttugu. Hann hratt mrgum ann eld, er ar var gerr holunni. Allir uru eitt sttir, at varla si slkan mann. En var hann at lyktum ofrlii borinn ok hndum tekinn.

Atli konungr mlti: "Mikil fura er at, hve margr mar hr hefir farit fyrir honum. N skeri r honum hjartat, ok s at hans bani."

Hgni mlti: "Geri sem r lkar. Glaliga mun ek hr ba ess, er r vili at gera, ok at muntu skilja, at eigi er hjarta mitt hrtt, ok reynt hefi ek fyrr hara hluti, ok var ek gjarn at ola mannraun, er ek var srr. En n eru vr mjk srir, ok muntu einn ra vrum skiptum."

mlti rgjafi Atla konungs: "S ek betra r: Tkum heldr rlinn Hjalla, en forum Hgna. rll essi er skapdaui. Hann lifir eigi sv lengi, at hann s eigi dligr."

rllinn heyrir ok pir htt ok hleypr undan, hvert er honum ykkir skjls vn, kvest illt hljta af frii eira ok vss at gjalda; kver ann dag illan vera, er hann skal deyja fr snum gum kostum ok svna geymslu. eir rifu hann ok brugu at honum knfi. Hann pti htt, r hann kenndi oddsins.

mlti Hgni, sem frum er ttt, er mannraun koma: Hann rnai rlinum lfs ok kvest eigi vilja skrktun heyra, kva sr minna fyrir at fremja enna leik. rllinn var feginn ok fjrit. N eru eir bir fjtra settir, Gunnarr ok Hgni.

mlti Atli konungr til Gunnars konungs, at hann skyldi segja til gullsins, ef hann vill lfit iggja.

Hann svarar: "Fyrr skal ek sj hjarta Hgna, brur mns, blugt."

Ok n rifu eir rlinn annat sinn ok skru r honum hjartat ok bru fyrir konunginn Gunnar. Hann svarar:

"Hjarta Hjalla m hr sj ins blaua ok er lkt hjarta Hgna ins frkna, v at n skelfr mjk, en hlfu meir, er brjsti honum l."

N gengu eir eptir eggjun Atla konungs at Hgna ok skru r honum hjartat. Ok sv var mikill rttr hans, at hann hl, mean hann bei essa kvl, ok allir undruust rek hans, ok at er san at minnum haft.

eir sndu Gunnari hjarta Hgna. Hann svarar:

"Hr m sj hjarta Hgna ins frkna ok er lkt hjarta Hjalla ins blaua, v at n hrrist ltt, en mir, mean brjsti honum l. Ok sv muntu, Atli, lta itt lf, sem n ltum vr. Ok n veit ek einn, hvar gullit er, ok mun eigi Hgni segja r. Mr lk mist hug, er vit lifum bir, en n hefi ek einn rit fyrir mr. Skal Rn n ra gullinu, fyrr en Hnir beri at hndum sr."

Atli konungr mlti: "Fari brott me bandingjann." Ok sv var gert.

Gurn kver n me sr menn ok hittir Atla ok segir:

"Gangi r n illa ok eptir v, sem r hldu or vi mik ok Gunnar."

N er Gunnarr konungr settr einn ormgar. ar vru margir ormar fyrir, ok vru hendr hans fast bundnar. Gurn sendi honum hrpu eina, en hann sndi sna list ok sl hrpuna me mikilli list, at hann drap strengina me tnum ok lk sv vel ok afbragliga, at fir ttust heyrt hafa sv me hndum slegit, ok ar til lk hann essa rtt, at allir sofnuu ormarnir, nema ein nara mikil ok illilig skrei til hans ok grf inn snum rana, ar til er hn hj hans hjarta, ok ar lt hann sitt lf me mikilli hreysti.










 


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