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Starkad And Bale

from The Swedish Fairy Book





Starkad, the hero of the legends, the bravest warrior in the army of
the North, had fallen into disgrace with the king because of a certain
princess, so he wandered up into Norland, and settled down at Rude in
Tuna, where he was known as the Thrall of the Alders or the Red
Fellow.

In Balbo, nine miles from Rude, dwelt another hero, Bale, a good
friend and companion-at-arms of Starkad.

One morning Starkad climbed the Klefberg in Tuna, and called over to
Bale: "Bale in Balbo, are you awake?"

"Red Fellow!" answered Bale, nine miles away, "the sun and I wake
together! But how goes it with you?"

"None too well. I eat salmon morning, noon and night. Come over with a
bit of meat!"

"I'll come!" Bale called back, and in a few hours time he was down in
Tuna with an elk under each arm.

The following morning Bale in Balbo stood on a hill in Borgsjo and
called: "Red Fellow! Are you awake?"

"The sun and I wake together!" answered Starkad. "And how goes it with
you?"

"Alas, I have nothing to eat but meat! Elk in the morning, elk at noon
and elk at night. Come over and bring a fish-tail along with you!"

"I'm coming!" called out Starkad, and in a short time he had joined
his friend with a barrel of salmon under each arm.

In this fashion the two friends provided themselves with all the game
to be found in the woods and in the water, and spread terror and
destruction throughout the countryside. But one evening, when they
were just returning to the sea from an excursion, a black cloud came
up, and a tempest broke. They hurried along as fast as they could; but
got no further than Vattjom, where a flash of lightning struck Starkad
and flung him to the ground. His friend and companion-at-arms buried
him beneath a stone cairn, about which he set five rocks: two at his
feet, two at his shoulders, and one at his head; and that grave,
measuring twenty ells in length, may still be seen near the river.


NOTE

In "Starkad and Bale" (Hofberg, p. 181. From Medelpad, after
ancient traditional sources) humorous feats of gigantic
strength are ascribed to the most famous hero of Northern
legend, Starkad, who was brought up by Odin himself.





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