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you smote me with your mallet, you did in
truth but smite a great rock which lieth
thereabout, but which you could not perceive,
because of the enchantment I had put upon
you; and, when you pass that way again,
you will behold three narrow valleys in the
rock, which were caused by the blows of your
mallet. So with your companions in their
trials of skill in my palace. It was no wonder
that Loki could not vanquish Logi, or
that Thialfi should have been beaten by Hugi;
for both the victors were spirits. Logi was a
Devouring Flame, Hugi was Thought. As
for yourself, the horn which you essayed to
empty reached at one end even to the great
main of waters itself; and, when you next go
by the sea-side, you will see that the ocean
is marvellously diminished. The cat whose
paw you lifted from the ground was no cat,
but the great Midgard Serpent, which
encompasseth all this earth.* Strong was our
terror when we saw you drag that old snake
so high towards heaven that scarcely could
he maintain his coils about the world. Lastly,
it was truly amazing that the haggard woman
could only bring you upon one knee; for
know, O son of the gods! it was Death you
wrestled with." †

* This serpent, according to the ancient Scandinavian
belief, is to remain clasped round the world until the
last day, when Thor is to bruise his head.

In a translation of the Edda now before the writer,
the crone is called Elli, or Old Age; but in another
version of the story she is described as Hela, or Death
This is the more striking idea, and is therefore here

Then Thor marvelled greatly, and wrath
was strong within him, and he poised his
mallet with a view to launching it at the
head of the king; but the giant and the city
had vanished, and nothing was about but a
great solitude, and the grass grew rank and
wild all round.

And so the four companies went silently
on their way, thinking of many things.


WET-FOOTED, weary, and with a mountain
appetite, we, a Reading party of four, arrived
at Wastdale from the sea-coast, after
midnight, and were directed to the little
farmhouse by its whiteness, and not by candle
gleam. The good folks are not fashionable
in those parts, and had all gone to bed.

"Wow, wow, wow, wow!" cried the sheepdog
very shrilly, and adding something to
himself against us in his throat, which we
could not quite catch. " Wow, wow, wow,
wow!" bayed the deep-mouthed hound, who
is fox-hunter, hare-hunter, and vermin-killer,
all in one, amongst the Cumberland fells.
But neither of these woke their master.
When we knocked at the door, however, a
female servant opened one of those hinged
panes which still do duty in the lake country
for window sashes, and inquired what was
our " Wull?"

"Beds," demanded the Reading party,
with one voice. " Beds, and a supper; we
hope the house isn't full."

"There is but one bed, sirs," replied the
maiden, pityingly.

"We hope it's a Bed of Ware!" ejaculated
the party, piously.

"I dinna ken," rejoined she; "'tis a mattrass
bed, and holds, may be, two; but I'll wake
the mistress."

Good William Ritson of Wastdale Head
and his wife are the last two persons in the
world to make difficulties or to be put out of
temper. They both got up immediately, and,
by their help and the maiden's, a fire was
kindled and bacon and eggs were on the table
in the pleasant eating-room beside the kitchen
in an inconceivably short time. As for beer
and spirits, such accommodation we well
knew could not be there supplied, and we
had alleviated that misfortune by bringing
some with us from the inn at the foot of
Wastwater, besides which the milk was
divine. Then, for sleeping, there were two
beds after all; and university men who will
pedestrianise in out-of-the-way valleys after
midnight must be content with indifferent
lodging. Some visitors were to leave in the
morning; so, for the next night, the temptation
of a bed apiece was offered to us. If
acres of down, however, had been spread
upon this occasion for our especial use, none
of us could possibly have slept sounder, nor
some of uslonger.

I declare I was down-stairs the first, and
had the first view of what is, without question,
the finest valley in England. The highest
mountains which we boast of are all clustered
about its head, which forms the centre
knot of the great mesh-work of the northern
fells. Scawfell Pike, three thousand one
hundred and sixty feet, is of course the
loftiest; but its giant companions,
Yewbarrow, Kirkfell, and the Pillar, are very
little short of it; while all of them are
invested with a certain savage grandeur denied
to most English hills from their descending
sheer, almost perpendicularly, into the valley,
and being composed entirely of crags without
any turf. Great Gable, however, is an
exception to this; one side of its huge pyramid
being an enormous steep of grass-land,
looking very tempting and even easy to the
climberuntil he begins to climb. The
lake is dark and terrible enough, and its far-
famed rainbow-coloured screes are very bad,
although not impossible walking; but the
view is flat in that direction, and very inferior
to that up Wastdale Head. This valley has
the appearance of a complete cul-de-sac from
the enormous height of its passes; and, in
truth, we were so happy in it, that we should
have scarcely cared had there been no way
out of it. The pass to Ennerdalenot that
of Black Sail, which is Piccadilly compared
to it, but the Dalesmen's Passlooks just
like two or three thousand feet of walL
After the trout was eatenwhich is caught