« PreviousContinue »
THE TWENTY-FOURTH FABLE.
Of Thialfe's Art.
THEN the king afked, what that young man could do, who accompanied Thor. THIALFE aniwered, That in running upon fcates, he would difpute the prize with any of the courtiers. The king owned, that the talent he spoke of was a very fine one; but that he muft exert himself, if he would come off conqueror. He then arofe, and conducted Thialfe to a fnowy' plain, giving him a young man named Hugo (Spirit or Thought) to dispute the prize of fwiftnefs with him. But this Hugo fo much outtript Thialfe, that in returning to the barrier whence they fet out, they met face to face. Then says the king; Another trial, and you may exert yourself betThey therefore ran a fecond courfe, and Thialfe was a full bow-fhot from the boundary, when Hugo arrived at it. They ran a third time; but Hugo had already reached the goal, before Thialfe had got half way. Hereupon all who were present cried out, that there had been a sufficient trial of skill in this kind of exercife.
THE TWENTY-FIFTH FABLE.
Of the Trials that Thor underwent.
HEN the king afked THOR, in what art HE
would choose to give proof of that dexterity for which he was fo famous. Thor replied, That he would conteft the prize of Drinking with any perfon belonging to his court? The king confented, and immediately went into his palace to look for a large Horn, out of which his courtiers were obliged to drink when they had committed any trespass against the customs of the court*. This the cupbearer filled to the brim, and presented to Thor, whilft the king fpake thus: Whoever is a good drinker, will empty that horn at a fingle draught; fome perfons make two of it; but the most puny drinker of all can do it at three. Thor looked at the horn, and was astonished at its length +; however, as he was very thirsty, he fet it to his mouth, and without drawing breath,
* Our modern Bachanals will here obferve, that punishing by a Bumper is not an invention of these degenerate days. The ancient Danes were great Topers.
+ The Drinking Veffels of the northern Nations were the Horns of animals, of their natural length, only tipt with filver, &c. In YorkMinster is preserved one of these ancient Drinking Veffels, composed of a large Elephant's Tooth, of its natural dimensions, ornamented with fculpture, &c. See Drake's Hift.
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 withdrew the cup from his mouth, in order to look in, he could fcarcely perceive any of the liquor gone. To it he went again with all his might, but fucceeded no better than before. At laft, full of indignation, he again fet the horn to his lips, and exerted himself to the utmost to empty it entirely: then looking in, he found that the liquor was but a little lowered upon this, he refolved to attempt it no more, but gave back the horn. I now fee plainly, fays the king, that thou art not quite fo ftout as we thought thee; but art thou willing to make any more trials? I am fure, fays Thor, fuch draughts as I have been drinking, would not have been reckoned small among the Gods: But what new trial have you to propose We have a very trifling game here, replied the king; in which we exercife none but children: it confifts in only lifting my Cat from the ground; nor fhould F have mentioned it, if I had not already obferved, that' you are by no means what we took you for. Imme diately a large iron-coloured cat leapt into the middle of the hall. Thor advancing, put his hand under the cat's belly, and did his utmost to raise him from the ground; but the cat bending his back, had only one of his feet lifted up. The event, fays the king, is juft what I forefaw; the cat is large, but Thor is little in comparison of the men here. Little as I am, fays Thor, let me fee who will wrestle with me. king looking round him, fays, I fee no body here who would not think it beneath him to enter the lifts with you; let fomebody, however, call hither my nurfe Hela (i. e. Death), to wrestle with this God Thor: fhe hath thrown to the ground many a better man than he. Immediately a toothless old woman entered the hall. This is the, fays the king, with whom you
muft wrestle*. I cannot, fays Jafnhar,' give you all the particulars of this conteft, only in general that the more vigorously Thor affailed her, the more immoveable the flood. At length the old woman had recourse to ftratagems, and Thor could not keep his feet fo fteadily, but that fhe, by a violent ftruggle, brought him upon one knee. Then the king came to them, and ordered them to defist: adding, there now remained no body in his court, whom he could ask with honour to condefcend to fight with Thor.
I here follow the Latin Verfion of Goranfon, rather than the French of M. Mallet.
THE TWENTY-SIXTH FABLE.
Illufions accounted for.
HOR paffed the night in that place with his companions, and was preparing to depart thence early the next morning; when the king ordered him. to be fent for, and gave him a magnificent entertainment. After this he accompanied him out of the city. When they were juft going to bid ad eu to each other, the king asked Thor what he thought of the fuccefs of his expedition. Thor told him, he could not but own that he went away very much ashamed and disappointed. It behoves me then, fays the king, to dif cover now the truth to you, fince you are out of my city; which you fhall never re-enter whilft I live and reign. And I affure you, that had I known beforehand, you had been fo ftrong and mighty, I would not have fuffered you to enter now. But I enchanted you by my illufions; first of all in the foreft, where I arrived before you. And there you were not able to untie your wallet, because I had fastened it with a magic chain. You afterward aimed three blows at me with your mace: the first stroke, though flight, would have brought me to the ground, had I received it: but when you are gone hence, you will meet with an immenfe rock, in which are three narrow valleys of a fquare form, one of them in particular remarkably deep: these are the breaches made by your mace; for I at that time lay concealed behind the rock, which you