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THE TWENTY-FIRST FABLE:
Of the Horse Sleipner, and his Origin.
ANGLER asked; Whence comes the horfe
Sleipner, which you mentioned; and to whom does he belong? Har replied, His origin is very wonderful. One day a certain architect came, and offer, ed his service to the Gods, to build them, in the space of two years, a city so well fortified that they should be perfectly safe from the incursions of the Giants, even although they should have already penetrated within the inclosure of Midgard; but he demanded for his reward the Goddess Freya, together with the Sun and Moon. After long deliberation, the Gods agreed to his terms, provided he would finish the whole himself without any one's assistance; and all within the space of one single winter. But if any thing should remain to be finished on the first day of summer, he should entirely forfeit the recompense agreed on. On being acquainted with this, the architect ftipulated that he should be allowed the use of his horse. And to this the Gods, by the advice of Loke, assented. This agreement was confirmed by many oaths, and concluded in the presence of many witnesses; for without this precaution, a Giant would not have thought himself safe among the Gods, especially if Thor had been returned from the expedition he had then taken into the east, to conquer the Giants. From the very first night then this workman caused
his horse to draw stones of an immenfe bulk; and the Gods law with surprise, that this creature did much more work, than his master himself. The winter however was far advanced, and toward the latter end of it, this impregnable city had almost attained the summit of perfection. In short, when the full time was now expired all but three days, nothing was wanting to complete the work, except the gates, which were not yet put up. Then the Gods entered into consultation, and enquired of one another who among them it was that could have advised to marry Freya into the country of the Giants; and to plunge the sky and heavens into darkness, by permitting the Sun and Moon to be carried away. They all agreed that Loke was the author of that bad counsel, and that he should be put to a most cruel death, if he did not contrive some way or other to prevent the work man from accomplishing his undertaking, and obtaining the promised reward. Immediately they laid hands on Loke; who in his fright, promised upon oath to do whatever they desired, let it cost him what it would. That very night, while the architect was employing his horse, as usual, to convey stones to the place, there suddenly leaped forth a mare from the neighbouring forest, which allured the horse with her neighings. That animal no sooner saw her, but giving way to his ardour, he broke his bridle, and began to run after the mare. This obliged the workman also to run after his horse, and thus, between one and the other, the whole night was lost, so that the progress of the work must have been delayed till next morning. Then the architect perceiving that he had no other means to finish his undertaking, resumed his own proper shape and dimensions ; and the Gods now clearly perceiving that it was really a Giant with whom they had made their contract, paid no longer
any regard to their oath*, but calling the God Thor, he immediately ran to them, and paid the workman his falary by a blow of his mace, which lhattered his head to pieces, and sent him headlong into hell. Shortly after Loke came and reported, that the architeet's horse had begot a foal with eight feet. This is the horse named SLEIPNER, which excels all the horses that ever were poffeffed by Gods or men.
* The Gothic Deities seem to be guided by no very nice principles of Morality, any more than those of the Greeks and Romans. It is needless to observe what a dreadful effect, such an example as the above, must have on the conduct of their blind votaries. T.
THE TWENTY-SECOND FABLE.
Of the Ship of the Gods.
ANGLER says to Har, You have told me of a veffel called Skidbladner, that was
the best of all ships, Without doubt, replies Har, it is the best, and most artfully constructed of any ; but the ship Nagelfara is of a larger fize. They were Dwarfs who built Skidbladner, and made a present of it to Frey. It is so large, that all the Gods completely armed may
fit in it at their ease. As soon as ever its fails are unfurled, a favourable gale arises, and carries it of itself to whatever place it is destined. And when the Gods have no mind to fail, they can take it into pieces so small, that being folded upon one ano. ther, the whole will go into a pocket. This is indeed a very well-contrived vessel, replied Gangler, and there must doubtless have been a great deal of art and magic employed in bringing it to perfection.
THE TWENTY-THIRD FABLE.
Of the God Thor.
ANGLER proceeds, and says, Did it never Gi
happen to Thor in his expeditions to be overcome, either by enchantment or downright force ? Har replied to him, Few can take upon them to affirm that ever any such accident befel this God; nay, had he in reality been worsted in any reacounter, it would not be allowable to make mention of it, fince all the world ought to believe, that nothing can resist his power. I have put a question then, says Gangler, to which none of
answer*. Then Jafohar took up the discourse, and said ; True indeed, there are some such rumours current among us ; but they are hardly credible : yet there is one present who can impart them to you; and you ought the rather to believe him, in that having never yet told you a lie, he will not now begin to deceive you
with false stories. Come then, says Gangler, interrupting him, l await your explication ; but if you do not give fatisfactory answers to the questions I have propofed, be assured I shall look upon you as vanquished. Here
* The reader will remember that Gangler would have considered himself as vi&or in this conteft, if he had proposed any question they could not have anfwered. Vide page 3, 4, &c.