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Medieval and Classical Library


Thorleif Would Slay Arnkel, And Is Slain.

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #33

There was a man called Thorleif, an Eastfirther, who had been found guilty of an affair with a woman. He came to Holyfell in the autumn, and prayed Snorri the Priest to take him in, but he put him off, and they talked long together or ever he got him gone. Thereafter Thorleif went to Lairstead, and came there in the evening, and was there the next night.

Now Arnkel got up early in the morning and set to nailing together the boards of his outer door; and when Thorleif arose, he went to Arnkel, and prayed him to take him in.

He answered somewhat slowly, and asked if he had been to see Snorri the Priest.

"Yea, I have seen him," said Thorleif, "and he would nowise take me in; 'and indeed, it is little to my mind,' says he, 'to give following to such a man as will ever let himself be trodden underfoot by every man with whom he has to do.'"

"Meseems," says Arnkel, "that Snorri would nowise mend his bargains though he give thee meat and drink for thy following."

"Nay, here whereas thou art will I have leave to dwell, Arnkel," said Thorleif.

"It is not my wont," said Arnkel, "to take in out-country men."

So there they gave and took in talk awhile, and Thorleif ever held fast by his prayer, but Arnkel put him off.

Now Arnkel fell to boring holes in the door-ledge, and laid his adze down the while. Thorleif took it up, and heaved it up swiftly over his head with the mind to bring it down on Arnkel's skull, but Arnkel heard the whistle of it and ran in under the stroke, and heaved up Thorleif by the breast, and soon was proven the measure of either's strength, for Arnkel was wondrous strong. So he cast Thorleif down with so great a fall that he lay stunned, and the adze flew out of his hand, and Arnkel got hold thereof and smote it into Thorleif's head, and gave him his death-wound.

So the rumour ran that it was Snorri the Priest who sent that man for Arnkel's head, but Snorri made as if the story had nought to do with him, and let folk say what they would. And so those seasons slipped away that nought else is to be told of.