|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||Thor's Journey to Jotunhem|
THOR'S JOURNEY TO JOTUNHEM.
By James Baldwin.
[Prom Earper't Young People.]
Thor ma the greatest giant-killer that ever lived. His home was in Gladsheim, on tho towering top oi Mount Asgard; and he was
said to he the strongest ana bravest, though
not always the wisest, of all good folk who dwelt there. When tae mist giants of the summer wrapped the world in dark clouds and threatened to destroy the ripening harvest, Thor harnessed his goats to his great iron chariot, and with his mighty hammer in his hand, rode out to battle with the foes of man, and drive them back to their airy homes in the mountains. And, later in the season, when the frost giants of the JNorth-land came rushing furiously from their chilly halls of Jotunhem, and sought to overwhelm all living beings with their icy breath, he met them single-haaded, and, after months of stormy warfare, forced them to return, beaten and ashamed, to their own cheerless land.
Early one fine morning, Thor, standing in his iron car, drove oat of Asgard at so rattling a pacetliat all the people were astonished at the noise he made. The din and uproar of a common thunderstorm were nothing to the uproarious racket that followed iu the wake of the prancing goats and the rumbling car. But the Thunderer, as men called Thor, was so often riding here and there, and driving over the rough clouds, and hurling his hammer at the giants of mid-air, that every body had long ago concluded not to wonder greatly at anything he did. This time, bow ever, there was quite a curiosity to learn where ho was going. But none of his acquaintancs [knew, and not even Sii, bis golden-haired wife, could tell.
Thor drove furiously onward until he reached the shimmering rainbow bridge, the trembling way that leads from Asgard Moun tain to the homes of men. Nor paused he even here, until,^on the futher side, be came to the towering Himminborg. where dwelt his brother, the gold-toothed HeimdaL Heimdal was the warder of the gods and the faithful keeper of the rainbow bridge, ahd night and day he watched it lest the giants might force their way over it, and drive mankind from off the earth. More wakeful than the birds was Heimdal, and his eye was so piercing that, by night or day, he could see everything 1within a hundred miles of Himminborg. His hearing too was
very sharp, for there was no sound that could escape him. He could hearthe grass growing in the fields, as well as the ocean's roar, or the storm-clouds' diu; and the silent music of the stars, too heavenly for our ears, cheered and gladdened his more lonesome hours.
In the peaceful hulls of Heimdal, Thor stayed many days, a loved and honoured guest; and as the brothers quaffed the glad some mead together, the pleasant memories of former days were again awakened. Then Thor told his brother the secretof his journey : he was on his way to Jotunhem, the home of the giants.
" Ah !" answered Heimdal. " Why dare you thus venture into the stronghold of your foes? Have you not enough to do to ride in the whirlwind and the storm, and to fight our enemies there? What if some mishap befall you in Jotunhem? Then the earth
would miss your thundering prcseuce in the clouds, and the giants, no longer fearing your hammer, would come in driving hurricane to lay waste the fields and waylay the fair homes of men. I, as well as you, am a sworu foe to the Jotunhem giants, but I dare not leave my post. AVhy will you rush into danger ?"
"I go to slay the wolf in his lair," said Thor. " Is it not better to meet our enemy and overcome him once for all than to keep up this everlasting warfare, which is stayed only to be begun again ?"
"But think of "the chances against you," answered Heimdal. " Think of what might
" Thor never fails," cried the Thunderer,
"and he never thinks of chances."
Next day Thor bade his kind brother good by, and drove out of Himmimborg into the cheerless land of Nifiheim. In that country the frost giants rule, and tbe sun shines but half the year, and snow and ice cover the land and the sea. With voice and whip Thor urged his team along, and he travelled hundreds of leagues through clash ing cliffs of ice and blinding storms of snow
until he stood under the steadfast northern
star, and at the farthest bounds of Nifiheim. There he saw the giant HresveJger, the keeper of the north winds, standing upon the very uttermost edge of the world. The grim giant was clad in eagles' feathers, and when his huge wings flapped, dire hurricanes arose, and the bitter winter blasts rushed forth to
chill the earth. Of him Tbor asked the way
"Go south, then east," answered the giant.. " Go south, then east over tbe frozen sea ;
Then Thor gave the reins to his goats, and they Bped southward, swiftly driven by a. strong blast from Hresvelger's wings. ? They made no stop until they bad passed the bounds of Nifiheim, and came into warmer lands and among the abodes of men.
Late in the evening Thor halted at a peasant's hut, and asked for shelter during the night. Gladly the good people welcomed him, and gave him tbe best of all they had, hut there was not food enough for alL Then Thor killed his two goats, and, when he had stripped off their skins, he boiled the flesh in the great iron kettle which hnng over the fire. And then all sat down to partake of a meal, the like of which the good peasant and his family had never tasted before. With great care Thor spread the skin of the goats upon the floor before the fireplace, saying
to his hosts—
" Be very careful, when you have eaten all the flesh froaithe bones to throw them softly upon these skins."
This every one did ; hut Thialfe, the pea sant's son, thoughtlessly broke one of the
shank-bones in order, to get at the marrow
Thor rested in the hut all night, and in the morning, when the first faint streaks of light appeared, he rose and dressed himself, and made ready to resume his journey. The old . peasant, who had also arisen, and was stirring
the fire, wondered how his guest would travel that day, and what he would do with the iron car that stood beside the door. But his mind was soon set at rest, so far as that was concerned; for Thor, taking his hammer in his hand, passed it three times over the hones ana skins, calling his goats by name; and the creatures took their wonted forms, and rose upon their feet, and walked to their places in front of the iron car. But one of the animals limped painfully on one of his hind-legs. When Thor saw this his wrath waxed very great, and he grasped the handle of his hammer with Bach force that his knuckles grew white and his hands swelled hig with Hue blood; and he knit his dark eyebrows, and stamped furiously upon the ground.
''Who has broken my goat's leg?" he cried.
The peasant and his wife fell upon their knees and screamed with fright, and earnestly declared that none of their family had done anything of the kind; and the trembling Thialfe and his little sister Roska, with tears streaming from tbeir eyes, besought the terrible Thunderer to have pity upon them and spare their lives, for they had not meant to do any harm to the goat.
When Thor saw in what great trouble the poor people were, his anger was softened, and he laid bis hammer quietly in the car. Then he turned to the peasant, and said—
" On one condition 1 will spare your lives Give to me as servants this fleet-footed boy, Thialfe, and his sister, the golden-haired Roska. Then I will go on my way, and leave' yon and your wife in peace. And every year the boy, whom men shall 'call the aelver. shall make the ground ready for the farmers seed, and his sister shall follow him, and reap the golden grain. The one shall have the care of the hopeful seed-time and its pro mises ; and the other of the gladsome harvest and its rich fulfillments."
" Take them," answered the poor man and his weeping wife, "for you offer them a better heritage than we can ever give them."
Then Thor took Thialfe and Roska with
him, and they travelled eastward until they came to the great sea. Here they left the goats and the iron car, and taking a swift sailing vessel, they crossed to the other
No sooner had they stepped upon land than they knew that they were in the country where the giants dwell. The trees, most of them oaks and ashes, seemed to reach upwards to the sky ; the coarse grass was taller than their beads, and there were no flowers, neither were there any singing-birds. Every thing was of huge size, and seemed rough and harsh, and altogether forbidding.
(Jo be continued.)