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    Chapter 32

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    Chapter 32
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    Chapter XXXII
    Thor's Visit to Jotunheim

    One day the god Thor, accompanied by his servant Thialfi, and
    also by Loki, set out on a journey to the giant's country.
    Thialfi was of all men the swiftest of foot. He bore Thor's
    wallet, containing their provisions. When night came on they
    found themselves in an immense forest, and searched on all sides
    for a place where they might pass the night, and at last came to
    a very large hall, with an entrance that took the whole breadth
    of one end of the building. Here they lay down to sleep, but
    towards midnight were alarmed by an earthquake which shook the
    whole edifice. Thor rising up called on his companion to seek
    with him a place of safety. On the right they found an adjoining
    chamber, into which the others entered, but Thor remained at the
    doorway with his mallet in his hand, prepared to defend himself,
    whatever might happen. A terrible groaning was heard during the
    night, and at dawn of day Thor went out and found lying near him
    a huge giant, who slept and snored in the way that had alarmed
    them so. It is said that for once Thor was afraid to use his
    mallet, and as the giant soon waked up, Thor contented himself
    with simply asking his name.

    "My name is Skrymir," said the giant, "but I need not ask thy
    name, for I know that thou art the god Tor. But what has become
    of my glove?" Thor then perceived that what they had taken
    overnight for a hall was the giant's glove and the chamber where
    his two companions had sought refuge was the thumb. Skrymir then
    proposed that they should travel in company, and Thor consenting,
    they sat down to eat their breakfast, and when they had done,
    Skrymir packed all the provisions into one wallet, threw it over
    his shoulder, and strode on before them, taking such tremendous
    strides that they were hard put to it to keep up with him. So
    they travelled the whole day, and at dusk, Skrymir close a place
    for them to pass the night in under a large oak-tree. Skrymir
    then told them he would lie down to sleep. "But take ye the
    wallet," he added, "and prepare your supper."Skrymir soon fell
    asleep and began to snore strongly, but when Thor tried to open
    the wallet, he found the giant had tied it up so tight he could
    not untie a single knot. At last Thor became wroth, and grasping
    his mallet with both hands he struck a furious blow on the
    giant's head. Skrymir awakening merely asked whether a leaf had
    not fallen on his head, and whether they had supped and were
    ready to go to sleep. Thor answered that they were just going to
    sleep, and so saying went and laid himself down under another
    tree. But sleep came not that night to Thor, and when Skrymir
    snored again so loud that the forest re-echoed with the noise, he
    arose, and grasping his mallet launched it with such force at the
    giant's skull that it made a deep dint in it. Skrymir awakening
    cried out, "What's the matter? Are there any birds perched on
    this tree? I felt some moss from the branches fall on my head.
    How fares it with thee, Thor?" But Thor went away hastily,
    saying that he had just then awoke, and that as it was only
    midnight, there was still time for sleep. He however resolved
    that if he had an opportunity of striking a third blow, it should
    settle all matters between them. A little before daybreak he
    perceived that Skrymir was again fast asleep, and again grasping
    his mallet, he dashed it with such violence that it forced its
    way into the giant's skull up to the handle. But Skrymir sat
    up, and stroking his cheek, said, "An acorn fell on my head.
    What! Art thou awake, Thor? Methinks it is time for us to get
    up and dress ourselves; but you have not now a long way before
    you to the city called Utgard. I have heard you whispering to
    one another that I am not a man of small dimensions; but if you
    come to Utgard you will see there many men much taller than I.
    Wherefore I advise you, when you come there, not to make too much
    of yourselves, for the followers of Utgard-Loki will not brook
    the boasting of such little fellows as you are. You must take
    the road that leads eastward, mine lies northward, so we must
    part here."

    Hereupon he threw his wallet over his shoulders, and turned away
    from them into the forest, and Thor had no wish to stop him or to
    ask for any more of his company.

    Thor and his companions proceeded on their way, and towards noon
    descried a city standing in the middle of a plain. It was so
    lofty that they were obliged to bend their necks quite back on
    their shoulders in order to see to the top of it. On arriving
    they entered the city, and seeing a large palace before them with
    the door wide open, they went in, and found a number of men of
    prodigious stature, sitting on benches in the hall. Going
    further, they came before the king Utgard-Loki, whom they saluted
    with great respect. The king, regarding them with a scornful
    smile, said, "If I do not mistake me, that stripling yonder must
    be the god Thor." Then addressing himself to Thor, he said,
    "Perhaps thou mayst be more than thou appearest to be. What are
    the feats that thou and thy fellows deem yourselves skilled in,
    for no one is permitted to remain here who does not, in some feat
    or other, excel all other men?"

    "The feat that I know," said Loki, "is to eat quicker than any
    one else, and in this I am ready to give a proof against any one
    here who may choose to compete with me."

    "That will indeed be a feat," said Utgard-Loki, "if thou
    performest what thou promisest, and it shall be tried forthwith."

    He then ordered one of his men who was sitting at the farther end
    of the bench, and whose name was Logi, to come forward and try
    his skill with Loki. A trough filled with meat having been set
    on the hall floor, Loki placed himself at one end, and Logi at
    the other, and each of them began to eat as fast as he could,
    until they met in the middle of the trough. But it was found
    that Loki had only eaten the flesh, while his adversary had
    devoured both flesh and bone, and the trough to boot. All the
    company therefore adjudged that Loki was vanquished.

    Utgard-Loki then asked what feat the young man who accompanied
    Thor could perform. Thialfi answered that he would run a race
    with any one who might be matched against him. The king observed
    that skill in running was something to boast of, but if the youth
    would win the match he must display great agility. He then arose
    and went with all who were present to a plain where there was
    good ground for running on, and calling a young man named Hugi,
    bade him run a match with Thialfi. In the first course Hugi so
    much outstripped his competitor that he turned back and met him
    not far from the starting-place. Then they ran a second and a
    third time, but Thialfi met with no better success. Utgard-Loki
    then asked Thor in what feats he would choose to give proofs of
    that prowess for which he was so famous. Thor answered that he
    would try a drinking-match with any one. Utgard-Loki bade his
    cupbearer bring the large horn which his followers were obliged
    to empty when they had trespassed in any way against the law of
    the feast. The cupbearer having presented it to Thor, Utgard-
    Loki said, "Whoever is a good drinker will empty that horn at a
    single draught, though most men make two of it, but the most puny
    drinker can do it in three."

    Thor looked at the horn, which seemed of no extraordinary size
    though somewhat long; however, as he was very thirsty, he set it
    to his lips, and without drawing breath, pulled as long and as
    deeply as he could, that he might not be obliged to make a second
    draught of it; but when he set the horn down and looked in, he
    could scarcely perceive that the liquor was diminished.

    After taking breath, Thor went to it again with all his might,
    but when he took the horn from his mouth, it seemed to him that
    he had drunk rather less than before, although the horn could now
    be carried without spilling.

    "How now, Thor," said Utgard-Loki, "thou must not spare thyself;
    if thou meanest to drain the horn at the third draught thou must
    pull deeply; and I must needs say that thou wilt not be called so
    mighty a man here as thou art at home if thou showest no greater
    prowess in other feats than methinks will be shown in this."

    Thor, full of wrath, again set the horn to his lips, and did his
    best to empty it; but on looking in found the liquor was only a
    little lower, so he resolved to make no further attempt, but gave
    back the horn to the cupbearer.

    "I now see plainly," said Utgard-Loki, "that thou art not quite
    so stout as we thought thee; but wilt thou try any other feat,
    though methinks thou art not likely to bear any prize away with
    thee hence."

    "What new trial hast thou to propose?" said Thor.

    "We have a very trifling game here," answered Utgard-Loki, "in
    which we exercise none but children. It consists in merely
    lifting my cat from the ground; nor should I have dared to
    mention such a feat to the great Thor if I had not already
    observed that thou art by no means what we took thee for."

    As he finished speaking, a large gray cat sprang on the hall
    floor. Thor put his hand under the cat's belly and did his
    utmost to raise him from the floor, but the cat, bending his
    back, had, notwithstanding all Thor's efforts, only one of his
    feet lifted up, seeing which Thor made no further attempt.

    "This trial has turned out," said Utgard-Loki, "just as I
    imagined it would. The cat is large, but Thor is little in
    comparison to our men."

    "Little as ye call me," answered Thor, "let me see who among you
    will come hither now I am in wrath and wrestle with me."

    "I see no one here," said Utgard-Loki, looking at the men sitting
    on the benches, "who would not think it beneath him to wrestle
    with thee; let somebody, however, call hither that old crone, my
    nurse Elli, and let Thor wrestle with her if he will. She has
    thrown to the ground many a man not less strong than this Thor

    A toothless old woman then entered the hall, and was told by
    Utgard-Loki to take hold of Thor. The tale is shortly told. The
    more Thor tightened his hold on the crone the firmer she stood.
    At length, after a very violent struggle, Thor began to lose his
    footing, and was finally brought down upon one knee. Utgard-Loki
    then told them to desist, adding that Thor had now no occasion to
    ask any one else in the hall to wrestle with him, and it was also
    getting late; so he showed Thor and his companions to their
    seats, and they passed the night there in good cheer.

    The next morning at break of day, Thor and his companions dressed
    themselves and prepared for their departure. Utgard-Loki ordered
    a table to be set for them, on which there was no lack of
    victuals or drink. After the repast Utgard-Loki led them to the
    gate of the city, and on parting asked Thor how he thought his
    journey had turned out, and whether he had met with any men
    stronger than himself. Thor told him that he could not deny but
    that he had brought great shame on himself. "And what grieves me
    most," he added, is that ye will call me a person of little

    "Nay," said Utgard-Loki, "it behooves me to tell thee the truth,
    now thou art out of the city, which so long as I live and have my
    way thou shalt never enter again. And, by my troth, had I known
    beforehand that thou hadst so much strength in thee, and wouldst
    have brought me so near to a great mishap, I would not have
    suffered thee to enter this time. Know then that I have all
    along deceived thee by my illusions; first in the forest where I
    tied up the wallet with iron wire so that thou couldst not untie
    it. After this thou gavest me three blows with the mallet; the
    first, though the least, would have ended my days had it fallen
    on me, but I slipped aside and thy blows fell on the mountain
    where thou wilt find three glens, one of them remarkably deep.
    These are the dints made by thy mallet. I have made use of
    similar illusions in the contests you have had with my followers.
    In the first, Loki, like hunger itself, devoured all that was set
    before him, but Logi was in reality nothing else than Fire, and
    therefore consumed not only the meat, but the trough which held
    it. Hugi, with whom Thialfi contended in running, was Thought,
    and it was impossible for Thialfi to keep pace with that. When
    thou in thy turn didst attempt to empty the horn, thou didst
    perform, by my troth, a deed so marvellous, that had I not seen
    it myself, I should never have believed it. For one end of that
    horn reached the sea, which thou was not aware of, but when thou
    comest to the shore thou wilt perceive how much the sea has sunk
    by thy draughts. Thou didst perform a feat no less wonderful by
    lifting up the cat, and to tell thee the truth, when we saw that
    one of his paws was off the floor, we were all of us terror-
    stricken, for what thou tookest for a cat was in reality the
    Midgard serpent that encompasseth the earth, and he was so
    stretched by thee, that he was barely long enough to enclose it
    between his head and tail. Thy wrestling with Elli was also a
    most astonishing feat, for there was never yet a man, nor ever
    will be, whom Old Age, for such in fact was Elli, will not sooner
    or later lay low. But now, as we are going to part, let me tell
    thee that it will be better for both of us if thou never come
    near me again, for shouldst thou do so, I shall again defend
    myself by other illusions, so that thou wilt only lose thy labor
    and get no fame from the contest with me."

    On hearing these words Thor in a rage laid hold of his mallet and
    would have launched it at him, but Utgard-Loki had disappeared,
    and when Thor would have returned to the city to destroy it, he
    found nothing around him but a verdant plain.

    On another occasion Thor was more successful in an encounter with
    the giants. It happened that Thor met with a giant, Hrungnir by
    name, who was disputing with Odin as to the merits of their
    respective horses, Gullfaxi and Sleipnir, the eight-legged. Thor
    and the giant made an agreement to fight together on a certain
    day. But as the day approached, the giant, becoming frightened
    at the thought of encountering Thor alone, manufactured, with the
    assistance of his fellow-giants, a great giant of clay. He was
    nine miles high and three miles about the chest, and in his heart
    he had the heart of a mare. Accompanied by the clay giant,
    Hrungnir awaited Thor on the appointed day. Thor approached
    preceded by Thialfi, his servant, who, running ahead, shouted out
    to Hrungnir that it was useless to hold his shield before him,
    for the god Thor would attack him out of the ground. Hrungnir at
    this flung his shield on the ground, and, standing upon it, made
    ready. As Thor approached Hrungnir flung at him an immense club
    of stone. Thor flung his hammer. Miolnir met the club half way,
    broke it in pieces, and burying itself in the stone skull of
    Hrungnir, felled him to the ground. Meanwhile Thialfi had
    despatched the clay giant with a spade. Thor himself received
    but a slight wound from a fragment of the giant's hammer.

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