The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 59

Thor, with the Giant youth to guide him, went through the deepest forest and over the highest mountain. He came at last to the Giant's dwelling. On a hillock before Hrymer's house was a dreadful warden; a Giant crone she was, with heads a-many growing out of her shoulders. She was squatting down on her ankles, and her heads, growing in bunches, were looking in different directions. As Thor and the Giant youth came near screams and yelps came from all her heads. Thor grasped his hammer and would have flung it at her if a Giant woman, making a sign of peace, had not come to the door of the dwelling. The youthful Giant who was with Thor greeted her as his mother.

"Son, come within," said she, "and you may bring your fellow farer with you."

The Giant crone—she was Hrymer's grandmother—kept up her screaming and yelping. But Thor went past her and into the Giant's dwelling.

When she saw that it was one of the Dwellers in Asgard who had come with her son the Giant woman grew fearful[Pg 127] for them both. "Hrymer," she said, "will be in a rage to find one of the Æsir under his roof. He will strive to slay you."

"It is not likely he will succeed," Thor said, grasping Miölnir, the hammer that all the Giant race knew of and dreaded.

"Hide from him," said the Giant woman. "He may injure my son in his rage to find you here."

"I am not wont to hide from the Giants," Thor said.

"Hide only for a little while! Hide until Hrymer has eaten," the Giant woman pleaded. "He comes back from the chase in a stormy temper. After he has eaten he is easier to deal with. Hide until he has finished supper."

Thor at last agreed to do this. He and the Giant youth hid behind a pillar in the hall. They were barely hidden when they heard the clatter of the Giant's steps as he came through the courtyard. He came to the door. His beard was like a frozen forest around his mouth. And he dragged along with him a wild bull that he had captured in the chase. So proud was he of his capture that he dragged it into the hall.

"I have taken alive," he shouted, "the bull with the mightiest head and horns. 'Heaven-breaking' this bull is called. No Giant but me could capture it." He tied the bull to the post of the door and then his eyes went toward the pillar behind which Thor and the Giant youth were hiding. The pillar split up its whole length at that look from Hrymer's eyes. He came nearer. The pillar of stone broke across. It fell with the crossbeam it supported and[Pg 128] all the kettles and cauldrons that were hanging on the beam came down with a terrible rattle.

Then Thor stepped out and faced the wrathful Giant. "It is I who am here, friend Hrymer," he said, his hands resting on his hammer.