Page:Hans Andersen's fairy tales (Robinson).djvu/42
THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER
'Then I would set the dogs loose. Halloo! away over bog and fen, out to the moor! That would be jolly to see! jollier still to be able to follow him on his course!'
But the Viking did not choose that he should be put to death that way, but, as a denier and opposer of the high gods, he should be offered the next morning on the blood-stone in the grove—the first time that a human sacrifice had been offered there.
Young Helga asked that she might sprinkle the images of the gods and the people with his blood. She sharpened her gleaming knife, and when one of the great, ferocious dogs, of which there were a good many in the court-yard, ran across her feet, she drove the knife into its side. 'That is to test it,' said she; and the Viking's wife looked sadly at the wild, ill-tempered girl, and, when the night came, and the beautiful bodily form of her daughter was changed for the beauty of soul, she spoke glowing words of sorrow to her from her own afflicted spirit.
The hideous toad with the goblin's body stood before her, and fixed its brown, sorrowful eyes on her; listening and seeming to understand with the intelligence of a human being.
'Never, even to my husband, has a word fallen from my tongue about the twofold nature I endure in thee,' said the Viking's wife. 'There is more pity in my heart for thee than I could have believed! Great is the love of a mother; but affection never comes into thy mind! Thy heart is like the cold clod! Whence didst thou then come into my house?'
At that the hideous form trembled and shook. It seemed as if the word touched some connexion between body and soul; great tears came into its eyes.