Thor and the Giants(2)
Thor, Loki and Thialfi followed the giant's instructions and only an hour later, they found a very big castle. 'This is the castle of the giants!' said Thor. 'Now let's go and fight them!'
But when they arrived at the door of the giants' castle, it was closed, and they could not open it. They looked at the walls of the castle. They were very high, too high for them to climb over.
'How can we get in?' asked Thor.
Thialfi found a window. There was no glass in the window, but there were some bars in it, like the window of a prison. 'Look!' said Thialfi. 'I can go between the bars of this window.' And he climbed up and went between the bars and into the giants' castle. Loki could get between the bars as well. But Thor could not. Thor was too big.
'Help!' he said to Loki and Thialfi. 'I can't get between these bars!'
Loki and Thialfi had to pull, very hard, to make Thor get between the bars. After nearly an hour, they were all inside.
They walked into a big room which was full of giants - men and women giants, old and young giants.
'I've never seen so many giants!' said Thor.
'And these are the biggest giants I've ever seen!' said Loki.
The giants were so big they did not even see Thor, Loki and Thialfi at first. When they did see them, they only laughed.
'Hello little people!' said the biggest giant. 'I'm Utgard, king of the giants. You're Thor, aren't you?'
'Yes I am!' said Thor.
'I thought you were bigger than that,' said Utgard. 'And you're Loki!' he continued. 'But who's this?'
'I'm Thialfi,' the farmer's son said.
'Ha!' said Utgard. 'A human! So why have you all come here?'
'I have come here to fight you all!' said Thor.
'I'm sorry,' said Utgard. 'I didn't hear that. You have to speak loudly if you speak to a giant!'
'Shut up!' said Loki angrily to Thor. 'We can't fight all these giants!'
'Everyone in this castle has a special ability,' said Utgard. 'One giant is the strongest, another giant is the fastest runner, another giant is the most intelligent. To be in this castle, everybody must be the best at something. So tell me, Thor, Loki and Thialfi, what are you good at?'
Loki, who was very hungry, said, 'I can eat faster than anyone in this castle!'
'Ha!' laughed Utgard. 'Is that true? Then let's see.' Utgard told the other giants to bring a table of food into the room. It was a very long table, and there was lots of meat on it. Loki sat at one end of the table.
'This giant here can eat more than any other giant,' continued Utgard. Another giant sat at the other end of the table. 'Let's see if you can eat more than him!'
Loki and the giant both began to eat the meat on the table. As they ate, they moved their chairs closer to the middle of the table. Loki was very hungry, so he ate and ate and ate all the meat on the table. Soon he was sitting next to the giant in the middle of the table. But Loki only ate the meat, the giant then ate the bones of the meat as well.
'Ha!' laughed the giant. And then he ate the table as well.
'Loki,' said Utgard. 'You're the loser!'
Loki was angry, but he did not say anything.
'And what about you, human boy? What can you do?' Utgard asked Thialfi.
'I can run very fast!' said Thialfi. 'I'm the fastest runner in Midgard!'
'Is that true?' asked Utgard. 'Then let's see. Hugi is the fastest of the giants. He'll run against you.'
Thor, Loki, Thialfi and all of the giants went out of the castle into a field. Thialfi and the giant Hugi stood at one end of the field.
'When I say "go"', said Utgard, 'you'll both run to the other end of the field. Are you ready? Then go!'
Thialfi ran as fast as he could. He ran so fast his feet did not touch the floor. He ran so fast he felt he was flying. He knew he was going to win the race against the big, heavy giant. But when he arrived at the other end of the field, the giant Hugi was already there, waiting for him.
'Hello little boy!' said Hugi. It seemed Hugi only took two steps to cross the field. He did not have to run at all.
'Thialfi,' said Utgard. 'You're the loser!'
Thialfi was very angry, but he did not say anything.
'So you, Thor,' said Utgard. 'You're good at telling everyone how strong you are, but let's see what you can really do!'
'I can do many things!' said Thor.
'For example?' asked Utgard.
'Well, I can drink more than anyone else!' replied Thor.
'You can drink more than anyone else, can you?' asked Utgard. 'Then let's see!' Utgard told another giant to bring out the giants' drinking horn. The giants' drinking horn was as big as Thor himself. 'This is what the giants drink from,' said Utgard. 'Let's see if you can empty it!'
Thor stood next to the drinking horn and started to drink from it. He drank and drank as much as he could. But the level of the water in the drinking horn did not go down one little bit.
'Ha!' said Utgard. 'Is that all you can drink? Try again!' Thor drank again from the big drinking horn. He drank and drank and drank, but this time when he finished there was more water in it than when he started.
'That might be a lot in Asgard, but it's not much in my kingdom!' said Utgard.
Thor was angry, but he did not say anything.
'Let's see what else you can do,' said Utgard. 'You think you're strong, don't you?'
'I am the strongest of all the gods!' said Thor.
'Look, then' said Utgard, and he pointed at a cat under a table. 'There's my little cat. Pick it up!'
Thor thought this was going to be easy. He took hold of the cat, and tried to pick it up. But even though the cat was small (for a giant's cat), Thor could not lift it. He pulled and pulled and pulled, but only one of the cat's feet left the floor. All the giants laughed at Thor. Now, he was really angry.
'Let me fight with any one of you!' he said. 'I'll show you how strong I really am!'
'You want to fight with one of us, do you?' asked Utgard. 'Very well then. Elli!' he shouted.
Elli arrived. Elli was an old woman. She was an old woman giant, but not much bigger than Thor. And she was very, very old.
'This is Elli,' said Utgard. 'She's my grandmother. Let's see if you can fight her!'
'But she's an old woman!' said Thor. 'I can't fight her!'
'I'm ready to fight you,' said Elli.
'Are you afraid?' asked Utgard.
'Of course not!' said Thor. And they started to fight. Thor tried to push Elli to the floor, but he could not. Instead, Elli picked Thor up and threw him across the room. Then she came and stood on top of him. 'I'm the winner!' she shouted. 'I'm stronger than the god Thor!'
All the giants laughed and laughed.
'Now,' said Utgard. 'I think we've seen who's the strongest here, and the biggest eater, and the fastest runner. And it's not you. So goodbye Thor, goodbye Loki and goodbye Thialfi. Go home now, and don't think you can fight with giants again! Let me show you the way home.'
Thor, Loki and Thialfi were very angry, but they did not say anything. They knew they were the losers in this competition. They followed Utgard out of the giants' castle.
Outside the castle, Utgard started to tell them something. 'I heard you were coming here,' he said. 'Skrymir told me. I was worried. I didn't want Thor and Loki to fight us.'
'What are you telling us?' asked Thor.
'You're too strong for us, I know that,' continued Utgard. 'So I used tricks to win those competitions!'
'Tricks!' shouted Thor. 'I thought it was Loki who played tricks!'
'Ha!' said Utgard. 'We giants know how to play tricks as well! While Loki was eating all that meat, but not the bones, we took the bones from the table and burned them. You were watching Loki, so you didn't see us.'
'And the running competition?' asked Thialfi.
'You're a very fast runner!' said Utgard. 'Perhaps the fastest runner in Midgard. A big, heavy giant couldn't win against you.'
'So what did you do?' asked Thialfi.
'We put Hugi's twin brother at the other end of the field,' said Utgard. 'You didn't even see!'
'And what about the drinking horn?' asked Thor.
'That drinking horn is so big because it's connected to the sea. The water you drank was the sea itself! Nobody can drink the sea!' said Utgard.
'I thought it tasted salty,' said Thor. 'And the cat?'
'That's no ordinary cat, said Utgard. 'That cat was actually Jormungand, the snake who goes around the world. He changed into a cat, because I asked him. Not even a god can pick up Jormungand!'
'And the old lady?' asked Thor.
'That was no old lady,' said Utgard. 'That lady is old age itself. And nobody, not even a god, can stop old age.'
Thor was very angry, and lifted up his hammer Mjollnir to hit Utgard, king of the giants. 'I'll kill you all!' he shouted.
'Wait!' said Utgard. 'We have used magic to win against you, that's true. But we can use magic again if we want. I will protect my kingdom from the angry gods!'
Thor brought down his hammer as hard and as quickly as he could, but it touched nothing. Utgard and the giants' castle were gone. There was nothing there. Thor, Loki and Thialfi looked around, but there was no sign of a giant or of a castle.
'I think we'll have to walk home,' said Loki. 'And next time you get bored, think of something different to do!'
- THE END -