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“But what does Odin give the warriors to eat ?” asked Gangler. “The flesh of the good boar Sæhrimnir, and this is more than enough (though few know how much is required for heroes), for in spite of its being eaten every day it becomes whole again every night; truly it is the best of flesh." “ And what have the heroes to drink ?” asked Gangler “for they must require a plentiful supply; do they drink only water ?” “A silly question that,” replied Har; "dost thou imagine that Allfather would invite kings and jarls and other great men and give them nothing to drink but water? In that case the heroes would think they had paid dearly to get to Valhall, enduring great hardships and receiving deadly wounds; they would find they had paid too great a price for water drink. No, no, the case is quite otherwise, in Valhall there is a famous goat that supplies mead enough for all the heroes and to spare.”
“Mighty things these,” said Gangler; "but how do the heroes amuse themselves when they are not drinking ?” "Every day they ride into the court and fight till they cut each other in pieces, this is their pastime; but when meal-tide approaches they return to drink
in Valhall.” “Odin is great and mighty,” answered Gangler, as it is said in one of the Æsir's own
“The ash Yggdrasill
Is the first of Trees,
“But do all the dead go to Valhalla ?” No; down below in Niflheim there was another home of the dead which was ruled over by the underworld goddess Hela, and called after her Helheim. Coldness and discomfort, according to one account, were rather its characteristics than actual suffering ; and as all the dead were said to go there who died of sickness or old age, it was probably at one time regarded more as a place of misfortune than of punishment. The cold, hidden-away condition of the dead, separated from the bright, warm life of the upper world, would naturally suggest their being consigned to the keeping of some under-world deity, unless, indeed, they could lay claim to a second higher life by virtue of any great warlike deed done up here. By degrees misfortune must have deepened into suffering; and, as the moral sense quickened, the idea would arise of there being a retribution for misdeeds done on earth as well as an emptiness of its missed glories. There is a description given of some place of punishment-it is not quite clear what place it refers to—in these words, -
“A hall standing
of the dead
' Now,” says Har ; that was when he had finished his description of Ragnarök, “If thou, Gangler, hast any more questions to ask, I know not who can answer thee, for I never heard tell of any one who could relate what will happen in the other ages of the world.” “Upon which," the story says, “Gangler heard a terrible noise all round him; he looked everywhere, but could see neither palace, nor city, nor any thing save a vast plain. He therefore set out on his return home.” And so disappears king Gylfi.
But we, who are not so presumptuous as to enquire into the future of the ages, and are neither learned nor over inquisitive like king Gylfi, will go on listening to the great-grandmothers' stories, giant stories and god stories—a little bit that one remembers, and a little bit that another remembers, and so on; and all the time we will try to make the story tellers clear to one another and to ourselves as they go on, translating their old fashioned words into our own common every day words and modes of speech, so that we may have at least a chance of understanding them.
A GIANT-A COW-AND A HERO.
In the beginning of ages there lived a cow, whose breath was sweet, and whose milk was bitter. This cow was called Audhumla, and she lived all by herself on a frosty, misty plain, where there was nothing to be seen but heaps of snow and ice piled strangely over one another. Far away to the north it was night, far away to the south it was day; but all around where Audhumla lay a cold, grey twilight reigned. By-and-by a giant came out of the dark north, and lay down upon the ice near