Three times did Thialfe match his speed against Hugr, and, three times beaten, withdrew from the contest as disconsolate as Loki.
“And now may I ask what you can do yourself?” said the King to Thor.
“I can drain a wine-cup with any one,” replied the god.
“Try him,” said Utgarda Loke.
And forthwith the royal cupbearer presented a drinking-horn to Thor.
“If you are as great as you pretend to be,” said the King, “you will drain it at one draught. Some people take two pulls at it, but the weakest among us can manage it in three.”
Thor took up the horn, and, being very thirsty, took a steady pull at it. He thought he had done very well, but on removing it from his lips he marveled to see how little had gone.
A second time he took a draught, but the horn was far from being emptied.
Again a third time he essayed to drain it, but it was full almost to the brim.
Therefore he set it down in despair, and confessed himself unable to drain it.
“I am disappointed in you,” said Utgarda Loke; “you are not half the man I took you for. I see it is no use asking you to do warrior’s feats; I must try you in a simpler way, in a child’s play that we have amongst us. You shall try to lift my cat from the ground.”
Thor turned quite scarlet, and then became white with rage.
“Are you afraid?” asked Utgarde Loke; “you look so pale.”
And a large gray cat came leaping along, and planted itself firmly before Thor, showing its sharp claws, and glaring upon him with its fiery eyes.
Thor seized it, but in spite of all his efforts he was only able to raise one of the cat’s paws from the ground.
“Pooh! pooh!” exclaimed Utgarda Loke, “you are a mere baby, fit only for the nursery. I believe that my old nurse Hela would be more than a match for you. Here, Hela, come and wrestle with the mighty god Thor.”
And Utgarda Loke laughed disdainfully.
Forth stepped a decrepit old woman, with lank cheeks and toothless jaws. Her eyes were sunken, her brow furrowed, and her scanty locks were white as snow.
She advanced towards Thor, and tried to throw him to the ground; but though he put forth his whole strength to withstand her, he was surprised to find how powerful she was, and that it needed all his efforts to keep his feet. For a long time he was successful, but at length she brought him down upon one knee, and Thor was obliged to acknowledge himself conquered.
Ashamed and mortified, he and his companions withdrew to a lodging for the night, and in the morning were making ready to leave the city quietly, when Utgarda Loke sent for them.
He made them a splendid feast, and afterwards went with them beyond the city gates.
“Now tell me honestly,” said he to Thor, “what do you think of your success?”
“I am beyond measure astounded and ashamed,” replied the god.