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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1883-09-22
Page Number43
Word Count1740
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThor's Journey to Jotunhem
article text



By James Baldwin.

[From Harper's Young People.]


Crossing the court-yard Thor and his followers came to the palace, and the door being open, they walked boldly into the broaa hall. 'There they saw a great many huge giants, some Bitting, some standing, ana some at big round tables engaged in quiet games.

Our three travellers passed entirely through this hall, but they were so small that they were not seen, although they were in great danger of being stepped upon and crushed to death.

At the farther end of the ball was the King's audience-chamber; and when they entered it and saw the great Utgard-Loke upon his throne, they stopped and uncovered their heads and saluted him. Vet it was a long time before he noticed them. At length he looked down, and said,

"Ah! here are three little striplings who have lost their way. Methinks from his lookB that one of them is our old enemy, Asa-Thor, from Asgard."

""Sou are right," said Thor, stretching himself to his full height. " I am he."

" Well," said the lung, " What would you have at TJtgard's castle ? What are you good for? What can you do? For we allow no cne to stop with us unless he can do some one thing better than any of us can do it." New in what way do you think you excel?

What feat of strength or skill would yob like:. to undertake ?"

Then said Thor, who in troth was very' hungry, " There is, indeed, one thing that I can do; of -which I am anxions to make a trial at once j 1 can eat more food, and eat it: faster, than any of your big Utgard men." !

And the. King answered, "You have said weU, and you have spoken of that About

which yon may truly Doast until you find 1 some one who can foutdo you. We will see how fast you can eat."

Then he summoned his vassals, and bade them make everything ready for -the trial. A long trough filled with meat was brought and set upon the floor; and then the King called one of his/men, whose name was Flame, and bade him eat against Thor. Thor sat down at one end of the trough and Flame at the other, and both ate as fast as they could. In a few minutes they met at the middle. Thor had eaten only .the meat, hut Flame had devoured the meat, the bones, and the trough itself. And all acknowledged that

Thor had been beaten in this contest. ''

Then the King turned to Thor-and said, " What other feat would our uninvited guests be pleased to try? Or will they now give up, and'say that they are beaten?"

"Never!" answered Thor. "Although I succeed but poorly at eating hard wood and

bones, yet I can drink almost anything. For I no man can drink as fast as I or as much, j Now since I am very thirsty, I should be i

and ordered the servants to bring hiB drink

"This is the horn," said the King, "out J

of which we make our courtiers drink when

they have broken the rules of our Court, MoBt of them can empty it at the first

draught, but some of the weaker ones drink j twice. I suppose, of course, that the-meat Asa-Thor can drink it all at one swallow, and then want more. Come, try it!"

Thor took a deep breath, put the horn to his lips, and drank as much as he could. When he stopped he was amazed to see the vessel as full as ever. The King laughed and said, f I never thought but that Asa-Thor would have done better than that. Yet try


Thor braced himself for another long'drink, put the horn to his mouth, and drank till he grew black in the face. Then be set the vessel down, and saw to bis disgust that the

liquor had sunk but a very little: it would still be bard to carry it without spilling.

"Well, well, friend Asa-Thor," said the King, roaring with laughter, "you drink quite bravely. But haven't you saved too much for the third draught? If you are not careful, you will be so good to yourself at first that, at the last, you will overtax your self. But, in truth, if you show no greater ability in other feats than you have in eating and drinking, our Utgard people will not feel very much afraid of you."

This speech made Thor so angry that lie took up the horn and drank with all his might. But drink as long as he would, the liquor still stood at the same height, and he at last rave up in despair.

The King said, scornfully, "It is plain that you are not so great as men say you are, nor as you yourself think. The best that you can do is to say no more about feats which are impossible to you. Still, if you would like to undertake something else, we shall say nothing against your trying."

"I am not yet ready to say tnat I am beaten," answered Thor. " I will try any other game that you may choose. What will you have mc do ?"

The King thought for a moment, and then said, "I think we might try you at a little game with which we sometimes amuse our children. They think it great fun to lift my

old cat off the floor."

Thereupon he uttered a low whistle, and au old grey cat came out of a corner, and rubbed herself against his legs, and purred very loudly. Thor grasped ner round the body, and lifted with all his might. But the more he lifted, the more the beast bent

her back, and all he could do was to raise one paw off the floor. At last, seeing that further trial was vain, he let go of the cat.

Then the King cried out, " We have seen that this boaster who came from Asgard is not what he pretends to be. If such as be is great among the Asa folk, what kind of people muBt those Asa folk be ? We will have no more games and no more trials of strength, for tne time is growing late. Let our self-invited guests be shown to the chambers which have been made ready for them, and let them be entertained as friends. But on the morrow let tbem betake them selves back to their own land, where they may tell their countrymen of wnat they have seen in Jotunhem, and of what great things they failed to do in Utgard's castle."

The next morning Thor and his comrades were led into the banquet hall, aud the choicest food of every kind was set before them. And when they had eaten and drank to their fill they bade farewell to Utgard's castle, and set out on their journey home ward. And Utgard-Loke, the Giant-King, walked with them across the plain as far

as to the boundaries of the wood. There pausing, he said,

" My good friend Asa-Thor, you have met the wolf in his lair, as you boaBted you would do; what think you of him ? How much honour do you tnink you have gained in

Jotunhem ?

" I must frankly own that I have gained none," answered Thor, ashamed, but always truthful.

Then the giant said,

"Now that you are safely away from my castle, and shall never go into it again, I will tell you something. You have done much greater things in Jotunhem than yon think. If I had dealt fairly with you, and used no decep tion you might have done us great harm. But from beginning to end I fooled you with trickery. It was I who met you in the forest, where I dropped my mitten on purpose to give yon a lodging-place for the night. I tied the dinner-bag with iron wire in such a way that you conld find no ends nor no knots. When you struck at me under the tree, youv first stroke would have killed me bad you bit me as you thought. But before gomg to sleep I bad drawn a mountain around me, and it was that which you struck when you thought you had cleaved my skull.

"When you sat down to the eating trial you did not know that you were contending with fire, yet Flame, who ate, meat, bones, and trough, was but the wildfire which destroys everything in its way. When you almost killed yourself, trying to empty my drinking horn, yon did not know that the small end of the horn was in the sea, and

that if ^ou had emptied it you would,have

drunk old ocean dry, And yet you drank

most wonderfully well; for when you shall

come to the sea again you will find that it is much shallower than when you crossed it three days ago.

The cat which you could not lift was, in troth, the great Midgard snake, which holds the earth in his coils. And when we saw that you had nearly raised one paw up from the floor, we were very much alarmed, for at

that time the snake could barely tnake'his> head and. tail meet, and if-the earth had clipped out.of his.embrace it would hate been all over with as. Now go home, Asa Thor; for should you etay here I have other tricks in store with which to fool you, and you would never get the better of me.

' Thor was more angry than he had ever been before. He seized his hainmer with both hands, and turned, to strike the Giant' King; but he could 'see no one Bave the fleet footed Tbiale.and the; smiling Boska of the golden hair. He looked where the great caBtle had stood, thinking that he would go back and level it to the ground; but there was nothing there save the- meadow-like plain covered with taH waving grask. The palace of Utgard-Loke had vanished.

Thor bit his lips with vexation, and re turned with all speed to his home on Asgard Mountain, wiser by far than when he had

left it.