The Corner

Re: Not a Sissy Story

Andrew: That is encouraging. One of the great puzzles of European history

is how those terrifying, bloodthirsty, looting, ravaging Viking warriors

turned into pale, dull, hygienic Swedes and Norwegians with extravagant

welfare states and a 99 percent starting rate of income tax. Nice to know

that the old spirit is not yet quite dead.

I am reminded (dimly, and I wouldn’t mind if someone gives me the reference)

to a story from one of the Icelandic Sagas. A warrior walks the length of a

hall to greet his king. The warrior is suffering from a nasty wound on his

foot. The wound has gone rotten, and the chronicler reports that as the

warrior walks down the hall, the foot squirts pus at every step. (Sorry, I

should have warned you that attention to the Sagas requires a strong

stomach.) Yet in spite of this, the warrior does not limp; he walks with a

firm, steady stride. When praised for his endurance, he replies: “A man who

limps when he still has two legs to walk with, is no man.”

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