“Ha! ha!” laughed Utgarda Loke. “I knew that you were. However, as we are well out of the city I don’t mind telling you a secret or two. Doubtless you will receive a little comfort from my doing so, as you confess that your coming hither has been to no purpose.
“In the first place, you have been deceived by enchantments ever since you came within the borders of Joetunheim. I am the giant you met with on your way hither, and if I had known as much of your power then as I do now, you would never have found your way within the walls of Utgard.
“Certainly I had had some slight experience of it, for the three blows you gave me would have killed me had they fallen upon me. But it was not I, but a huge mountain that you struck at; and if you visit it again, you will find three valleys cleft in the rocks by the strokes of your hammer.
“As for the wallet, I had fastened it with a magic chain, so that you need not wonder that you could not open it.
“Loge, with whom Loki strove, was no courtier, but a subtle devouring flame that consumed all before it.”
Here Loki uttered an exclamation of delight, but Thor bade him be silent, and Utgarda Loke went on:
“Thialfe’s enemy was Hugr, or Thought, and let man work away as hard as he pleases, Thought will still outrun him.
“As for yourself, the end of the drinking-horn, though you did not see it, reached the sea, and as fast as you emptied it, it filled again, so that you never could have drained it dry. But the next time that you stand upon the seashore, you will find how much less the ocean is by your draughts.
“The gray cat was no cat, but the great Serpent of Midgard, that twines round the world, and you lifted him so high that we were all quite frightened.
“But your last feat was the most wonderful of all, for Hela was none other than Death. And never did I see any one before over whom Death had so little power.
“And now, my friend, go your way, and don’t come near my city again, for I tell you plainly I do not want you there, and I shall use all kinds of enchantment to keep you out of it.”
As he ended his speech, Thor raised his hammer, but Utgarda Loke had vanished.
“I will return to the city, and be avenged,” said Thor.
But lo! the giant city was nowhere to be seen. A fair pasture-land spread itself out around him, and through its midst a broad river flowed peacefully along.
So Thor and his companions, musing upon their wonderful adventures, turned their steps homewards.
THE APPLES OF IDUN
ADAPTED BY HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE