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The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 40

"Nay, stay here," Agnar said. "I will give you more bread and a wrap to cover yourself with. Do not go to the door of the King's house, for the King is angry today and he might repulse you."

"How?" said Odin. "A King turn away a Wanderer who comes to his door! It cannot be that he would do it!"

"Today he is angry," Agnar said. Again he begged him not to go to the door of the King's house. But Odin rose up from the straw on which he was seated and went to the door.

A porter, hunchbacked and with long arms, stood at the door. "I am a Wanderer, and I would have rest and food in the King's hall," Odin said.

"Not in this King's hall," said the hunchbacked porter. He would have barred the door to Odin, but the voice of the King called him away. Odin then strode into the hall and saw the King at table with his friends, all dark-bearded, and cruel-looking men. And when Odin looked on them he knew that the boy whom he had trained in nobility had become a King over robbers.

"Since you have come into the hall where we eat, sing to us, Wanderer," shouted one of the dark men. "Aye, I[Pg 87] will sing to you," said Odin. Then he stood between two of the stone pillars in the hall and he sang a song reproaching the King for having fallen into an evil way of life, and denouncing all for following the cruel ways of robbers.

"Seize him," said the King, when Odin's song was finished. The dark men threw themselves upon Odin and put chains around him and bound him between the stone pillars of the hall. "He came into this hall for warmth, and warmth he shall have," said Geirrod. He called upon his servants to heap up wood around him. They did this. Then the King, with his own hand, put a blazing torch to the wood and the fagots blazed up around the Wanderer.

The fagots burned round and round him. But the fire did not burn the flesh of Odin All-Father. The King and the King's friends stood round, watching with delight the fires blaze round a living man. The fagots all burned away, and Odin was left standing there with his terrible gaze fixed upon the men who were so hard and cruel.

They went to sleep, leaving him chained to the pillars of the hall. Odin could have broken the chains and pulled down the pillars, but he wanted to see what else would happen in this King's house. The servants were ordered not to bring food or drink to him, but at dawn, when there was no one near, Agnar came to him with a horn of ale and gave it to him to drink.

The next evening when the King came back from his robberies, and when he and his friends, sitting down at the tables, had eaten like wolves, he ordered the fagots to be placed around Odin. And again they stood around, watch[Pg 88]ing in delight the fire playing around a living man. And as before Odin stood there, unhurt by the fire, and his steady and terrible gaze made the King hate him more and more. And all day he was kept in chains, and the servants were forbidden to bring him food or drink. None knew that a horn of ale was brought to him at dawn.


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