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Medieval and Classical Library


Of The Evil Dealings Of Thorolf Halt-Foot.

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #33

Now must it be told of Thorolf Halt-foot that he began to get exceeding old, and became very evil and hard to deal with by reason of his old age, and full of all injustice, and things went uneasily enough betwixt him and Arnkel his son.

Now on a day Thorolf rode in to Ulfar's-fell to find Ulfar the bonder. He was a great furtherer of field-work, and much spoken of for this, that he saved his hay quicker than other men, and was so lucky with sheep withal, that his sheep never died of clemming or from storms.

So when Thorolf met him, he asked him what counsel he gave him as to how he should set about his husbandry, and what his mind told him about the summer, if it would be dry or not.

Ulfar answered: "No better rede can I give thee than what I follow myself. I shall let bear out the scythe to-day, and mow down all I may this week, because I deem it will be rainy; but I guess that after that it will be very dry for the next half month."

So things went as he had said, for it was often seen that he could foretell the weather better than other men.

So Thorolf went home, and he had with him many workmen, and now he let straightway begin the out-meadow mowing; and the weather was even as Ulfar had said.

Now Thorolf and Ulfar had a meadow in common upon the neck, and either of them at first mowed much hay, and then they spread it, and raked it up into big cocks. But one morning early when Thorolf arose, he looked out and saw that the weather was thick, and deemed that the dry tide was failing, and called to his thralls to rise and carry the hay together, and work daylong all they might, "for it seems to me," quoth he, "that the weather is not to be trusted."

The thralls did on their clothes and went to the hay-work. But Thorolf piled up the hay and egged them on to work at their most might that it might speed at its fastest.

That same morning Ulfar looked out early, and when he came in, the workmen asked him of the weather, but he bade them sleep on in peace. "The weather is good," said he, "and it will clear off to-day. Therefore to-day shall ye mow in the home-field, but to-morrow will we save such hay as we have up on the neck."

Now the weather went even as he said; and when the evening was wearing on, Ulfar sent a man up to the neck, to look to the hay that stood there in cocks. But Thorolf Halt-foot carried hay with three draught-oxen the day through, and by the third hour after noontide they had saved all the hay that was his. Then he bade carry Ulfar's hay withal into his garth; and they did as he bade them.

But when Ulfar's messenger saw that, he ran and told his master. Then Ulfar went up on to the neck, and was exceeding wroth, and asked Thorolf why he robbed him. Thorolf said he heeded not what he said, and raved and was ugly to deal with, and they well-nigh came to blows. But Ulfar saw that he had no choice but to go away. So he went straightway to Arnkel, and told him of his scathe, and prayed for his warding, "else," he gave out, "all would be gone by the board."

Arnkel said he would bid his father pay boot for the hay, but said that none the less it sorely misgave him that nought would come of it.

So when father and son met, Arnkel bade his father pay Ulfar boot for the taking of the hay; but Thorolf said the thrall was far too rich already. Arnkel prayed him to do so much for his word as to atone for that hay. Then said Thorolf that he would do nought therefor but worsen Ulfar's lot; and therewith they parted.

Now when Arnkel met Ulfar, he told him of Thorolf's answer; but Ulfar deemed that Arnkel had followed up his case coldly, and said that he might have had his way with his father if he had chosen to do so.

So Arnkel paid Ulfar what he would for the hay; and when father and son next met, Arnkel claimed the price of the hay from his father, but Thorolf gave no better answers, and they parted in great wrath. But the next autumn Arnkel let drive from the fells seven oxen of his father's, and had them all slaughtered for his own household needs. That misliked Thorolf beyond measure, and he claimed their price of Arnkel; but he said that they should be in return for Ulfar's hay. Then Thorolf liked matters a great deal worse than before, and laid the whole thing on Ulfar, and said he should feel him therefor.