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Full text of "The children of Odin"

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CHILDREN OF ODIN 



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THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

mW YORE • BOSTON • CHICAGO • DALLAS 
ATLAHTA • SAN FRANaSCO 

MACMILLAN & CO., Limitbd 

LONDON • BOMBAY • CALCUTTA 
HELBOURNB 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Lro. 

TORONTO 



(^e ObtldRen or Oain 

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^^a. "^" ^^'i Norwood, M»M.. U.S.A. 



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HARRIETT VAUGHN MOODY 

LOVER OF TALES AND 
READER OF RUNES 



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PART I 

The Dweluxs in Asgaed 

-I. Far Away and Long Ago 

2. The Building of the Wall 

3. Iduna and Her Apples : How Loki Put the Gods in Danger . 

4. Sif 's Golden Hair : How Loki Wrought Mischief in Asgard . 
S- How Brock the Dwarf Brought Judgement on Loki . 

6. How Freya Gained Her Necklace and How Her Loved One 

Was Lost to Her 45 

7, How Frey Won Gerda, the Giant Maiden, and How He Lost 

' His Magic Sword S3 

8. Heimdall and Little Hnossa : How All Things Came to Be . '64 

9, The All-Father's Forebodings : How He Leaves Asgard . 71 



3 
6 

13 
27 

34 



PART n 
Odin the Wanderer 

•I. Odin Goes to Mimir's Well : His Sacrifice for Wisdom . 79 

a. Odin Faces.an Evil Man 85 

-3. Odin Wins for Men the Magic Mead 93 

4. OdinTellstoVidar,IEs Silent Son, the Secret of His Doings . 102 

vii 



viii CONTENTS 

FACE 

5. Thor and Loki in the Giants' City loS 

6. How Thor and Loki Befooled Thrym the Giant . . .120 

7. iEgir's Feast : How Thor Triumphed 129 

8. The Dwarf's Hoard, and the Curse that It Brought . . 141 

PART m 

The Witch's Heart 

1. Foreboding in Asgard i57 

2. Loki the Betrayer 161 

3. Loki against the ^ir 171 

4. The Valkyrie 176 

5. The Children of Loki 181 

6. Baldur's Doom 187 

7. Loki's Punishment 300 

PART IV 

The Swosd of the Volsungs and the Twilight of the Gods 

1. Sigurd's Youth 207 

2. The Sword Gram and the Dragon Fafnir .... 216 

3. The Dragon's Blood 223 

4. The Story of Sigmund and Signy 232 

5. The Story of Sigmund and SinhotU 242 

6. The Story of the Vengeance of the Volsungs and of the 

Death of SinfiotU 248 

7. Brjmhild in the House of Flame 255 

8. Sigurd at the House of the Nibelun^ ..... 260 
g. How Brynhild Was Won for Gtmnar 265 

10. The Death of Sigurd 270 

11. The Twilight of the Gods . 276 



COLOUR PLATES 

Iduna Picking the Apples of Life for the Gods . . . Frontispiece 

MCING PAGE 

Odin at Mimir's Well 82 

The Valkyrie 176 

Sigurd Rides Through the Wall of Fire 256 



iz 



Part I 
THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 




V 



INCE there was another Sun and another Moon ; 

Oa different Sun and a different Moon from the 
ones we see now. Sol was the name of that Sun 
and Man! was the name of that Moon. But 
always behind Sol and Mani wolves went, a wolf 

behind each. The wolves caught on them at 

last and they devoured Sol and Mani. And then the world 
was in darkness and cold. 

In those times the -Gods lived, Odin and Thor, Hodur and 
Baldur, T)^: and Heimdall, Vidar and Vali, as well as Loki, the 
doer of good and the doer of evil. And the beautiful Goddesses 
were living then, Frigga, Freya, Nanna, Iduna, and Sif . But in 
the days when the Sun and Moon were destroyed the Gods 
were destroyed too — all the Gods except Baldur who had 



4 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

died before that time, Vidar and Vali, the sons of Odin, and 
Modi and Magni, the sons of Thor. 

At that time, too, there were men and women in the world. 
But before the Sun and the Moon were devoured and before the 
Gods were destroyed, terrible things happened in the world. 
Snow fell on the four corners of the earth and kept on falling for 
three seasons. Winds came and blew everything away. And 
the people of the world who had lived on in spite of the snow and 
the cold and the winds fought each other, brother killing brother, 
until all the people were destroyed. 

Also there was another earth at that time, an earth green 
and beautiful. But the terrible winds that blew levelled down 
forests and hills and dwellings. Then fire came and burnt the 
earth. There was darkness, for the Sun and the Moon were 
devoured. The Gods had met with their doom. And the time 
in which all these things happened was called Ragnarok, the 
Twilight of the Gods. 

Then a new Sun and a new Moon appeared and went travelling 
through the heavens ; they were more lovely than Sol and Mani, 
and no wolves followed behind them in chase. The earth became 
green and beautiful again, and in a deep forest that the fire had 
not burnt a woman and a man wakened up. They had been 
hidden there by Odin and left to sleep during Ragnarok, the 
Twilight of the Gods. 

Lif was the woman's name, and Lifthrasir was the man's. 
They moved through the world, and their children and their 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 5 

children's children made people for the new earth. And of the 
Gods were left Vidar and Vali, the sons of Odin, and Modi 
and Magiii, the sons of Thor ; on the new earth Vidar and Vali 
found tablets that the older Gods had written on and had left 
there for them, tablets telling of all that had happened before 
Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods. 

And the people who lived after Ragnarok, the Twilight of the 
Gods, were not troubled, as the people in the older days were 
troubled, by the terrible beings who had brought destruction 
upon the world and upon men and women, and who from the 
beginning had waged war upon the Gods. 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 





LWAYS there had been war between the Giants 

and the Gods — between the Giants who would 

have destroyed the world and the race of men, 

and the Gods who would have protected the race 

of men and would have made the world more 

beautiful. 

There are many stories to be told about the Gods, but the 

first one that shall be told to you is the one about the building 

of their City. 

The Gods had made their way up to the top of a high moimtain 
and there they decided to build a great City for themselves that 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 7 

the Giants could never overthrow. The City they would call 
"Asgard," which means the Place of the Gods. They would 
build it on a beautiful plain that was on the top of that high 
mountain. And they wanted to raise round their City the 
highest and strongest wall that had ever been built. 

Now one day when they were beginning to build their halls 
and their palaces a strange being came to them. Odin, the 
Father of the Gods, went and spoke to him. "What dost 
thou want on the Mountain of the Gods?" he asked the 
Stranger. 

"I know what is in the mind of the Gods," the Stranger said. 
"They would build a City here. I cannot build palaces, but I 
can build great walls that can never be overthrown. Let the 
build the wall round your City." 

"How long will it take you to build a wall that will go round 
our City?" said the Father of the Gods. 

"A year, O Odin," said the Stranger. 

Now Odin knew that if a great wall could be built around it 
the Gods would not have to spend all their time defending their 
City, Asgard, from the Giants, and he knew that if Asgard were 
protected, he himself could go amongst men and teach them and 
help them. He thought that no payment the Stranger could ask 
would be too much for the building of that wall. 

That day the Stranger came to the Council of the Gods, and 
he swore that m a year he would have the great wall built. Then 
Odin made oath that the Gods would give him what he asked in 



8 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

payment if the wall was finished to the last stone in a year from 
that day. 

The Stranger went away and came back on the morrow. It 
was the first day of Summer when he started work. He brought 
no one to help him except a great horse. 

Now the Gods thought that this horse would do no more than 
drag blocks of stone for the building of the wall. But the horse 
did more than this. He set the stones in their places and mor- 
tared them together. And day and night and by hght and 
dark the horse worked, and soon a great waU was rising round 
the palaces that the Gods themselves were building. 

"What reward will the Stranger ask for the work he is doing 
for us?" the Gods asked one another. 

Odin went to the Stranger. "We marvel at the work you and 
your horse are doing for us," he said. " No one can doubt that the 
great wall of Asgard will be built up by the first day of Summer. 
What reward do you claim? We would have it ready for you." 

The Stranger turned from the work he was doing, leaving the 
great horse to pile up the blocks of stone. "O Father of the 
Gods," he said, "O Odin, the reward I shall ask for my work is 
the Sun and the Moon, and Freya, who watches over the flowers 
and grasses, for my wife." 

Now when Odin heard this he was terribly angered, for the price 
the Stranger asked for his work was beyond all prices. He went 
amongst the other Gods who were then building their shining 
palaces within the great wall and he told them what reward 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 9 

the Stranger had asked. The Gods said, "Without the Sun and 
the Moon the world will wither away." And the Goddesses 
said, "Without Freya all will be gloom in Asgard." 

They would have let the wall remain unbuilt rather than let 
the Stranger have the reward he claimed for building it. But one 
who was in the company of the Gods spoke. He was Loki, a 
being who only half belonged to the Gods ; his father was the 
Wind Giant. "Let the Stranger build the wall round Asgard," 
Loki said, " and I will find a way to make him give up the hard 
bargain he has made with the Gods. Go to him and tell him that 
the wall must be finished by the first day of Summer, and that 
if it is not finished to the last stone on that day the price he asks 
will not be given to him." 

The Gods went to the Stranger and they told him that if the 
last stone was not laid on the wall on the first day of the Summer 
not Sol or Mani, the Sun and the Moon, nor Freya would be 
given him. And now they knew that the Stranger was one of 
the Giants. 

The Giant and his great horse piled up the wall more quickly, 
than before. At night, while the Giant slept, the horse worked 
on and on, hauling up stones and laying them on the wall with 
his great forefeet. And day by day the wall around Asgard 
grew higher and higher. 

But the Gods had no joy in seeing that great wall rising higher 
and higher around their palaces. The Giant and his horse would 
finish the work by the first day of Summer, and then he would 



lo CHILDREN OF ODIN 

take the Sun and the Moon, Sol and Mani, and Freya away 
with him. 

But Loki was not disturbed. He kept telling the Gods that 
he would find a way to prevent him from finishing his work, 
and thus he would make the Giant forfeit the terrible price he 
had led Odin to promise him. 

It was three days to Summer time. All the wall was finished 
except the gateway. Over the gateway a stone was still to be 
placed. And the Giant, before he went to sleep, bade his horse 
haul up a great block of stone so that they might put it above 
the gateway in the morning, and so finish the work two full days 
before Summer. 

It happened to be a beautiful moonlit night. Svadilfare, the 
Giant's great horse, was hauling the largest stone he ever hauled 
when he saw a httle mare come galloping towards him. The 
great horse had never seen so pretty a little mare and he looked 
at her with surprise. ' 

"Svadilfare, slave," said the little mare to him and went 
frisking past. 

SvadiKare put down the stone he was hauling and called to 
the little mare. She came back to him. "Why do you caE 
me 'Svadilfare, slave'?" said the great horse. 

"Because you have to work night and day for your master,'^, 
said the httle mare. " He keeps you woTking, working, working, 
and never lets you enjoy yourself. You dare not leave that stone 
down and come and play with me." 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD ji 

"Who told you I dare not do it? " said Svadilfare. 

"I know you daren't do it," said the little mare, and she 
kicked up her heels and ran across the moonlit meadow. 

Now the truth is that Svadilfare was tired of working day and 
night. When he saw the little mare go galloping ofif he became 
suddenly discontented. He left the stone he was hauling on the 
ground. He looked round and he saw the little mare looking 
back at him. He galloped after her. 

He did not catch up on the little mare. She went on swiftly 
before him. On she went over the moonlit meadow, turning 
and looking back now and again at the great Svadilfare, who came 
heavily after her. Down the mountain-side the mare went, and 
Svadilfare, who now rejoiced in his liberty and in the freshness of 
the wind and in the smell of the flowers, still followed her. With 
the morning's light they came near a cave and the little mare went 
into it. They went through the cave. Then Svadilfare caught 
up on the little mare and the two went wandering together, the 
little mare telling Svadilfare stories of the Dwarfs and the Elves. 

They came to a grove and they stayed together in it, the little 
mare playing so nicely with him that the great horse forgot all 
about time passing. And while they were in the grove the Giant 
was going up and down, searching for his great horse. 

He had come to the wall in the morning, expecting to put the 
stone over the gateway and so finish his work. But the stone 
that was to be lifted up was not near him. He called for Svadil- 
fare, but his great horse did not come. He went to search for 



12 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

him, and he searched all down the mountain-side and he searched 
as far across the earth as the realm of the Giants. But he did not 
find Svadilfare. 

The Gods saw the first day of Summer come and the gateway 
of the wall stand unfinished. They said to each other that if it 
were not finished by the evening they need not give Sol and Mani 
to the Giant, nor the maiden Freya to be his wife. The hours 
of the summer day went past and the Giant did not raise the 
stone over the gateway. In the evening he came before them. 

"Your work is not finished," Odin said. "You forced us to a 
hard bargain and now we need not keep it with you. You shall 
not be given Sol and Mani nor the maiden Freya." 

"Only the wall I have built is so strong I would tear it down," 
said the Giant. He tried to throw down one of the palaces, 
but the Gods laid hands on him and thrust him outside the wall 
he had built. "Go, and trouble Asgard no more," Odin com- 
manded. 

Then Loki returned to Asgard. He told the Gods how he 
had transformed himself into a little mare and had led away 
Svadilfare, the Giant's great horse. And the Gods sat in their 
golden palaces behind the great wall , and rejoiced that their 
City was now secure, and that no enemy could ever enter it 
or overthrow it. But Odin, the Father of the Gods, as he sat 
upon his throne was sad in his heart, sad that the Gods had got 
their wall built by a trick ; that oaths had been broken, and that 
a blow had been struck in injustice in Asgard. 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 



13 




iduna and Ijen i^ppfesi^oo) 
toftipac f^QodslnBanQCR 

N Asgard there was a garden, and in that garden 
there grew a tree, and on that tree there grew shining 
apples. Thou knowst, O well-loved one, that every 
day that passes makes us older and brings us to that 
day when we will be bent and feeble, grey-headed 
and weak-eyed. But those shining apples that grew 




/ 



14 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

/ 

in Asgard — they who ate of them every day grew never a day 

older, for the eating of the apples kept old age away. 

Iduna, the Goddess, tended the tree on which the shining 
apples grew. None would grow on the tree unless she was there 
to tend it. No one but Iduna might pluck the shining apples. 
Each morning she plucked them and left them in her basket and 
every day the Gods and Goddesses came to her garden that they 
might eat the shining apples and so stay for- ever young. 

Iduna never went from her garden. All day and every day 
she stayed in the garden or in her golden house beside it, and all 
day and every day she listened to Bragi, her husband, tell a 
story that never had an end. Ah, but a time came when Iduna 
and her apples were lost to Asgard, and the Gods and Goddesses 
felt old age approach them. How all that happened shall be 
told thee, O well-beloved. 

Odin, the Father of the Gods, often went into the land of men 
to watch over their doings. Once he took Loki with him, Loki, 
the doer of good and the doer of evil. For a long time they went 
travelling through the world of men. At last they came near 
Jotunheim, the reahn of the Giants. 

It was a bleak and empty region. There were no growing 
things there, not even trees with berries. There were no birds, 
there were no animals. As Odin, the Father of the Gods, and 
Loki, the doer of good and the doer of evil, went through this 
region hunger came upon them. But in all the land around they 
saw nothing that they could eat. 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 15 

Loki, running here and running there, came at last upon a herd 
of wild cattle. Creeping up on them, he caught hold of a young 
bull and killed him. Then he cut up the flesh into strips of meat. 
He lighted a fire and put the meat on spits to roast. While the 
meat was being cooked, Odin, the Father of the Gods, a little 
way off, sat thinking on the things he had seen in the world of 
men. 

Loki made himself busy putting more and more logs on the 
fire. At last he called to Odia, and the Father of the Gods came 
and sat down near the fire to eat the meal. 

But when the meat was taken off the cooking-spits and when 
Odin went to cut it, he found that it was still raw. He smiled at 
Loki for thinking the meat was cooked, and Loki, troubled that 
he had made a mistake, put the meat back, and put more logs 
upon the fire. Again Loki took the meat off the cooking-spits 
and called Odin to the meal. 

Odin, when he took the meat that Loki brought him, found that 
it was as raw as if it had never been put upon the fire. "Is this 
a trick of yours, Loki ? " he said. 

Loki was so angry at the meat being uncooked that Odin saw 
he was playing no tricks. In his hunger he raged at the meat and 
he raged at the fire. Again he put the meat on the cooking-spits 
and put more logs on the fire. Every hour he would take up the 
meat, sure that it was now cooked, and every time he took it off 
Odin would find that the meat was as raw as the first time they 
took it off the fire. 



i6 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Now Odin knew that the meat must be under some enchant- 
ment by the Giants. He stood up and went on his way, hungry 
but strong. Loki, however, would not leave the meat that he 
had put back on the fire. He would make it be cooked, he de- 
clared, and he would not leave that place hungry. 

The dawn came and he took up the meat again. As he was 
lifting it off the fire he heard a whirr of wings above his head. 
Looking up, he saw a mighty eagle, the largest eagle that ever 
appeared in the sky. The eagle circled round and round and 
came above Loki's head. "Canst thou not cook thy food?" 
the eagle screamed to him. 

"I cannot cook it," said Loki. 

"I will cook it for thee, if thou wilt give me a share," screamed 
the eagle. 

"Come, then, and cook it for me," said Loki. 

The eagle circled round until he was above the fire. Then 
flapping his great wings over it, he made the fire blaze and blaze. 
A heat that Loki had never felt before came from the burning 
logs. In a minute he drew the meat from the spits and found it 
was well cooked. 

"My share, my share, give me my share," the eagle screamed 
at him. He flew down, and seizing on a large piece of meat 
instantly devoured it. He seized on another piece. Piece after 
piece he devoured until it looked as if Loki would be left with no 
meat for his meal. 

As the eagle seized on the last piece Loki became angty indeed. 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 17 

Taking up the spit on which the meat had been cooked, he struck 
at the eagle. There was a clang as if he had struck some metal. 
The wood of the spit did not come away. It stuck to the breast 
of the eagle. But Loki did not let go his hold on the spit. 
Suddenly the eagle rose up in the air. Loki, who held to the spit 
that was fastened to the eagle's breast, was drawn up with him. 

Before he knew what had happened Loki was miles and miles 
up in the air and the eagle was flying with him towards Jotun- 
heim, the Realm of the Gfants. And the eagle was screaming 
out, "Loki, friend Loki, I have thee at last. It was thou who 
didst cheat my brother of his reward for biulding the wall round 
Asgard. But, Loki, I have thee at last. Know now that Thiassi 
the Giant has captured thee, O Loki, most cunning of the 
dwellers in Asgard." 

Thus the eagle screamed as he went flying with Loki towards 
Jotunheim, the Reahn of the Giants. They passed over the river 
that divides Jotunheim from Midgard, the World of Men. And 
now Loki saw a terrible place beneath him, a land of ice and rock. 
Great moimtains were there : they were lighted by neither sun 
nor moon, but by columns of fire thrown up now and again 
through cracks in the earth or out of the peaks of the moimtains. 

Over a great iceberg the eagle hovered. Suddenly he shook 
the spit from his breast and Loki fell down on the ice. The eagle 
screamed out to him, "Thou art in my power at last, O thou 
most cunning of all the Dwellers in Asgard." The eagle left 
Loki there and flew within a crack in the mountain. 



%8 .. CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Miserable indeed was Loki upon that iceberg. The cold was 
deadly. He could not die there, for he was one of the Dwellers 
in Asgard and death might not come to him that way. He 
might not die, but he felt bound to that iceberg with chains of 
cold. 

After a day his captor came to him, not as an eagle this time, 
but in his own form, Thiassi the Giant. 

"Wouldst thou leave thine iceberg, Loki," he said, "and 
return to thy pleasant place in Asgard? Thou dost delight in 
Asgard, although only by one-half dost thou belong to the Gods. 
Thy father, Loki, was the Wind Giant." 

"O that I might leave this iceberg," Loki said, with the tears 
freezing on his face. 

"Thou mayst leave it when thou showest thyself ready to 
pay thy ransom to me," said Thiassi. "Thou wilt have to get 
me the shining apples that Iduna keeps in her basket." 

"I cannot get Iduna's apples for thee, Thiassi," said Loki. 

"Then stay upon the iceberg," said Thiassi the Giant. He 
went away and left Loki there with the terrible winds buffeting 
him as with blows of a hammer. 

When Thiassi came again and spoke to him about his ransom, 
Loki said, "There is no way of getting the shining apples from 
Iduna." 

"There must be some way, O cunning Loki," said the Giant. 

"Iduna, although she guards well the shining apples, is simple- 
minded," said Loki. "It may be that I shall be able to get her 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 19 

to go outside the wall of Asgard. If she goes she will bring her 
shining apples with her, for she never lets them go out of her 
hand except when she gives thiem to the Gods and Goddesses 
to eat." 

"Make it so that she will go beyond the wall of Asgard," said 
the Giant. "If she goes outside of the wall I shall get the apples 
from her. Swear by the World-Tree that thou wilt lure Iduna 
beyond the wall of Asgard. Swear it, Loki, and I shall let thee 
go." 

"I swear it by Ygdrassil, the World-Tree, that I will lure Iduna 
beyond the wall of Asgard if thou wilt take me off this iceberg," 
said Loki. 

Then Thiassi changed himself into a mighty eagle, and taking 
Loki in his talons, he flew with him over the stream that divides 
Jotunheim, the Realm of the Giants, from Midgard, the World 
of Men. He left Loki on the ground of Midgard, and Loki 
then went on his way to Asgard. 

Now Odin had already returned and he had told the Dwellers 
in Asgard of Loki's attempt to cook the enchanted meat. All 
laughed to think that Loki had been left hungry for aU his cun- 
ning. Then when he came into Asgard looking so famished, they 
thought it was because Loki had had nothing to eat. They 
laughed at him more and more. But they brought him into 
the Feast Hall and they gave him the best of food with wine out 
of Odin's wine cup. When the feast was over the Dwellers in 
Asgard went to Iduna's garden as was their wont. 



20 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

There sat Iduna in the golden house that opened on her garden. 
Had she been in the world of men, every one who saw her would 
have remembered their own innocence, seeing one who was so 
fair and good. She had eyes blue as the blue sky, and she smiled 
as if she were remembering lovely things she had seen or heard. 
The basket of shining apples was beside her. 

To each God and Goddess Iduna gave a shining apple. Each 
one ate the apple given, rejoicing to think that they would never 
become a day older. Then Odin, the Father of the Gods, said 
the runes that were always said in praise of Iduna, and the 
Dwellers in Asgard went out of Idima's garden, each one going 
to his or her own shining house. 

All went except Loki, the doer of good and the doer of evil. 
Loki sat in the garden, watching fair and simple Iduna. After a 
while she spoke to him and said, "Why dost thou still stay here, 
wise Loki? " 

"To look weU on thine apples," Loki said. "I am wondering 
if the apples I saw yesterday are really as shining as the apples 
that are in thy basket." 

"There are no apples in the world as shining as mine," said 
Iduna. 

"The apples I saw were more shining," said Loki. "Aye, 
and they smelled better, Iduna." 

Iduna was troubled at what Loki, whom she deemed so wise, 
told her. Her eyes filled with tears that there might be more 
shining apples in the world than hers. "O Loki," she said, "it 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 21 

cannot be. No apples are more shining, and none smell so 
sweet, as the apples I pluck off the tree in my garden." 

"Go, then, and see," said Loki. "Just outside Asgard is the 
tree that has the apples I saw. Thou, Iduna, dost never leave 
thy garden, and so thou dost not know what grows in the world. 
Go outside of Asgard and see." 

"I will go, Loki," said Idima, the fair and simple. 

DUNA went outside the wall of Asgard. She went 
to the place Loki had told her that the apples grew 
in. But as she looked this way and that way, Iduna 
heard a whirr of wings above her. Looking up, 
she saw a mighty eagle, the largest eagle that had 
ever appeared in the sky. 
She drew back towards the gate of Asgard. Then the great 
eagle swooped down ; Iduna felt herself lifted up, and then she 
was being carried away from Asgard, away, away ; away over 
Midg'ard where men lived, away towards the rocks and snows of 
Jotunheim. Across the river that flows between the World of Men 
and the Reabn of the Giants Iduna was borne. Then the eagle 
flew into a cleft in a mountain and Iduna was left in a cavernous 
hall lighted up by columns of fire that burst up from the earth. 
The eagle loosened his grip on Iduna and she sank down on the 
ground of the cavern. The wings and the feathers fell from 
him and she saw her captor as a terrible Giant. 

"Oh, why have you carried me off from Asgard and brought 
me to this place?" Iduna cried. 



22 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"That I might eat your shining apples, Iduna," said Thiassi 
the Giant. 

"That will never be, for I will not give them to you," said 
Iduna. 

"Give me the apples to eat, and I shall carry you back to 
Asgard." 

[:^"No, no, that cannot be. I have been trusted with the 
shining apples that I might give them to the Gods only." 

"Then I shall take the apples from you," said Thiassi the 
Giatit. 

He took the basket out of her hands and opened it. But 
when he touched the apples they shrivelled under his hands. 
He left them in the basket and he set the basket down, for he 
knew now that the apples would be no good to him unless Iduna 
gave them to him with her own hands. 

"You must stay with me here until you give me the shining 
apples," he said to her. 

Then was poor Iduna frightened : she was frightened of the 
strange cave and frightened of the fire that kept bursting up out 
of the earth and she was frightened of the terrible Giant. But 
above all she was frightened to think of the evil that would fall 
upon the Dwellers in Asgard if she were not there to give them 
the shining apples to eat. 

The Giant came to her again. But still Iduna would not 
give him the shining apples. And there in the cave she stayed, 
the Giant troubling her every day. And she grew more and 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 23 

more fearful as she saw in her dreams the Dwellers in Asgard go 
to her garden — go there, and not being given the shining apples, 
feel and see a change coming over themselves and over each other. 

It was as Iduna saw it in her dreams. Every day the Dwellers 
in Asgard went to her garden — Odin and Thor, Hodur and 
Baldur, Tyr and Heimdall, Vidar and Vali, with Frigga, Freya, 
Nanna, and Sif. There was no one to. pluck the apples of their 
tree. And a change began to come over the Gods and Goddesses. 

They no longer walked lightly ; their shoulders became bent ; 
their eyes no longer were as bright as dew-drops. And when 
they looked upon one another they saw the change. Age was 
coming upon the Dwellers in Asgard. 

They knew that the time would come when Frigga would be 
grey and old ; when Sif 's golden hair would fade ; when Odin 
would no longer have his clear wisdom, and when Thor would 
not have strength enough to raise and fling his thimderbolts. 
And the Dwellers in Asgard were saddened by this knowledge, 
and it seemed to them that all brightness had gone from their 
shining City. 

Where was Iduna whose apples would give back youth and 
strength and beauty to the Dwellers in Asgard? The Gods 
had searched for her through the World of Men. No trace of 
her did they find. But now Odin, searching through his wisdom, 
saw a means to get knowledge of where Iduna was hidden. 

He summoned his two ravens, Hugin and Munin,his two ravens 
that flew through the earth and through the Realm of the Giants 



24 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

and that knew all things that were past and all things that were 
to come. He summoned Hugin and Munin and they came, and 
one sat on his right shoulder and one sat on his left shoulder and 
they told him deep secrets : they told him of Thiassi and of his 
desire for the shining apples that the Dwellers in Asgard ate, and 
of Loki's deception of Iduna, the fair and simple. 

What Odin learnt from his ravens was told in the Council 
of the Gods. Then Thor the Strong went to Loki and laid 
hands upon him. When Loki found himself in the grip of the 
strong God, he said, "What wouldst thou with me, O Thor?" 

"I would hurl thee into a chasm in the ground and strike 
thee with my thunder," said the strong God. "It was thou who 
didst bring it about that Iduna went from Asgard." 

"O Thor," said Loki, "do not crush me with thy thunder. 
Let me stay in Asgard. I will strive to win Idima back." 

"The judgement of the Gods," said Thor, "is that thou, the 
cunning one, shouldst go to Jotunheim, and by thy craft win 
Iduna back from the Giants. Go or else I shall hurl thee into a 
chasm and crush thee with my thunder." 

"I will go," said Loki. 

ROM Frigga, the wife of Odin, Loki borrowed 
the dress of falcon feathers that she owned. He 
clad himself in it, and flew to Jotunheim in the 
form of a falcon. 

He searched through Jotunheim until he found 

Thiassi's daughter, Skadi. He flew before Skadi 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 25 

and he let the Giant maid catch him and hold him as a pet. 
One day the Giant maid carried him into the cave where Iduna, 
the fair and simple, was held. 

When Loki saw Iduna there he knew that part of his quest 
was ended. Now he had to get Iduna out of Jotunheim and 
away to Asgard. He stayed no more with the Giant maid, but 
flew up into the high rocks of the cave. Skadi wept for the 
flight of her pet, but she ceased to search and to call and went 
away from the cave. 

Then Loki, the doer of good and the doer of evil, flew to where 
Iduna was sitting and spoke to her. Iduna, when she knew that 
one of the Dwellers in Asgard was near, wept with joy. 

Loki told her what she was to do. By the power of a spell 
that was given him he was able to change her into the form of 
a sparrow. But before she did this she took the shining apples 
out of her basket and flung them into places where the Giant 
would never find them. 

Skadi, coming back to the cave, saw the falcon fly out with the 
sparrow beside him. She cried out to her father and the Giant 
knew that the falcon was Loki and the sparrow was Iduna. He 
changed himself into the form of a mighty eagle. By this time 
sparrow and falcon were out of sight, but Thiassi, knowing that 
he could make better flight than they, flew towards Asgard. 

Soon he saw them. They flew with all the power they had, 
but the great wings of the eagle brought him nearer and nearer 
to them. The Dwellers in Asgard, standing on the wall, saw the 



26 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

falcon and the sparrow with the great eagle pursuing them. 
They knew who they were — Loki and Iduna with Thiassi in 
pursuit. 

As they watched the eagle winging nearer and nearer, the 
Dwellers in Asgard were fearful that the falcon and the sparrow 
would be caught upon and that Iduna would be taken again by 
Thiassi. They lighted great fires upon the wall, knowing that 
Loki would find a way through the fires, bringing Iduna with 
him, but that Thiassi would not find a way. 

The falcon and the sparrow flew towards the fires. Loki 
went between the flames and brought Idima with him. And 
Thiassi, coming up to the fires and finding no way through, 
beat his wings against the flames. He fell down from the wall 
and the death that came to him afterwards was laid to Loki. 

Thus Iduna was brought back to Asgard. Once again she 
sat in the golden house that opened to her garden, once again 
she plucked the shining apples off the tree she tended, and once 
again she gave them to the Dwellers in Asgard. And the 
Dwellers in Asgard walked lightly again, and brightness came 
into their eyes and into their cheeks ; age no more approached 
them ; youth came back ; light and joy were again in Asgard. 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 



27 




SiFsQoldenf)aiRifx)CDLo1ii 
a)i?ouQT)c(Discl7ieFin ^s^Rd 



ILL who dwelt in Asgard, the ^sir and the Asyniur, 
who were the Gods and the Goddesses, and the 
Vanir, who were the friends of the Gods and the 
Goddesses, were wroth with Loki. It was no 
wonder they were wroth with him, for he had let 
the Giant Thiassi carry off Iduna and her golden 
apples. Still, it must be told that the show they made of their 
wrath made Loki ready to do more mischief in Asgard. 

One day he saw a chance to do mischief that made his heart 
rejoice. Sif , , the wife of Thor, was lying asleep outside her 



^8 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

house. Her beautiful golden hair flowed all round her. Loki 
knew how much Thor loved that shining hair, and how greatly 
Sif prized it because of Thor's love. Here was his chance to do a 
great mischief. Smilingly, he took out his shears and he cut 
off the shining hair, every strand and every tress. She did not 
waken while her treasure was being taken from her. But Loki 
left Sif's head cropped and bare. 

Thor was away from Asgard. Coming back to the City of the 
Gods, he went into his house. Sif, his wife, was not there to 
welcome him. He called to Sif, but no glad answer came from 
her. To the palaces of all the Gods and Goddesses Thor went, 
but in none of them did he find Sif, his golden-haired wife. 

When he was coming back to his house he heard his name 
whispered. He stopped, and then a figure stole out from behind 
a stone. A veil covered her head, and Thor scarce knew that 
this was Sif, his wife. As he went to her she sobbed and sobbed. 
"O Thor, my husband," she said, "do not look upon me. I am 
ashamed that you should see me. I shall go from Asgard and 
from the company of the Gods and Goddesses, and I shall go 
down to Svartheim and live amongst the Dwarfs. I cannot bear 
that any of the Dwellers in Asgard should look upon me now." 

" O Sif," cried Thor, " what has happened to change you?" 

"I have lost the hair of my head," said Sif, "I have lost the 
beautiful golden hair that you, Thor, loved. You will not love 
me any more, and so I must go away, down to Svartheim and to 
the company of the Dwarfs. They are as ugly as I am now." 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 29 

Then she took the veil ofE her head and Thor saw that all her 
beautiful hair was gone. She stood before him, shamed and 
sorrowful, and he grew into a mighty rage. "Who was it did 
this to you, Sif ?" he said. "I am Thor, the strongest of all the 
Dwellers in Asgard, and I shall see to it that all the powers the 
Gods possess will be used to get your fairness back. Come with 
me, Sif." And taking his wife's hand in his, Thor went off to the 
Council House where the Gods and the Goddesses were. 

Sif covered her head with her veil, for she would not have the 
Gods and Goddesses look upon her shorn head. But from the 
anger in Thor's eyes all saw that the wrong done to Sif was 
great indeed. Then Thor told of the cutting of her beautiful 
hair. A whisper went round the Council House. "It was Loki 
did this — no one else in Asgard would have done a deed so 
shameful," one said to the other. 

"Loki it was who did it," said Thor. "He has hidden himself, 
but I shall find him and I will slay him." 

"Nay, not so, Thor," said Odin, the Father of the Gods. 
"Nay, no Dweller in Asgard may slay another. I shall summon 
Loki to come before us here. It is for you to make him (and 
remember that Loki is cunning and able to do many things) bring 
back to Sif the beauty of her golden hair." 

Then the call of Odin, the call that all in Asgard have to 
barken to, went through the City of the Gods. Loki heard it, and 
he had to come from his hiding-place and enter the house where 
the Gods held their Council. And when he looked on Thor and 



30 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

saw the rage that was in his eyes, and when he looked on Odin 
and saw the sternness in the face of the Father of the Gods, he 
knew that he would have to make amends for the shameful wrong 
he had done to Sif. 

Said Qdin, "There is a thing that you, Loki, have to do: 
Restore to Sif the beauty of her hair." 

Loki looked at Odin, Loki looked at Thor, and he saw that 
what was said would have to be done. His quick mind searched 
to find a way of restoring to Sif the beauty of her golden hair. 
"I shall do as you command, Odin All-Father," he said. 

lUT before we teU you of what Loki did to restore 

» .^^j the beauty of Sif's golden hair, we must tell you 

I ^^^ of the other beings besides the Gods and the God- 

B B desses who were in the world at the time. First, 

^^^•-..^ there was the Vanir. When the Gods who were 

■■ ' called the ^Esir came to the moimtain on which 



they bmlt Asgard, they found other beings there. These were 
not wicked and ugly like the Giants ; they were beautiful and 
friendly ; the Vanir they were named. 

Although they were beautiful and friendly the Vanir had no 
thought of making the world more beautiful or more happy. 
In that way they differed from the ^sir who had such a thought. 
The ^sir made peace with them, and they lived together in 
friendship, and the Vanir came to do things that helped the ^sir 
to make the world more beautiful and more happy. Freya, whom 
the Giant wanted to take away with the Sim and the Moon as a 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 31 

reward for the building of the wall round Asgard, was of the 
Vanir. The other beings of the Vanir were Frey, who was the 
brother of Freya, and Niord, who was their father. 

On the earth below there were other beings — the dainty Elves, 
who danced and fluttered about, attending to the trees and flowers 
and grasses. The Vanir were permitted to rule over the Elves. 
Then below the earth, in caves and hoUows, there was another race, 
the Dwarfs or Gnomes, little, twisted creatures, who were both 
wicked and ugly, but who were the best craftsmen in the world. 

In the days when neither the ^sir nor the Vanir were friendly 
to him Loki used to go down to Svartheim, the Dwarfs' dwelling 
below the earth. And now that he was commanded to restore 
to Sif the beauty of her hair, Loki thought of help he might get 
from the Dwarfs. 

Down, down, through the winding passages in the earth he 
went, and he came at last to where the Dwarfs who were most 
friendly to him were working in their forges. All the Dwarfs 
were master-smiths, and when he came upon his friSnds he found 
them working hammer and tongs, beating metals into many 
shapes. He watched them for a while and took note of the things 
they were making. One was a spear, so well balanced and made 
that it would hit whatever mark it was thrown at no matter how 
bad the aim the thrower had. The other was a boat that could 
sail on any sea, but that could be folded up so that it would go 
into one's pocket. The spear was called Gungnir and the boat 
was called Skidbladnir. 



32 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Loki made himself very agreeable to the Dwarfs, praising their 
work and promising them things that only the Dwellers in Asgard 
could give, things that the Dwarfs longed to possess. He 
talked to them till the little, ugly folk thought that thej would 
come to own Asgard and all that was in it. 

At last Loki said to them, "Have you got a bar of fine gold 
that you can hammer into threads — into threads so fine that 
they will be like the hair of Sif , Thor's wife ? Only the Dwarfs 
could make a thing so wonderful. Ah, there is the bar of gold. 
Hammer it into those fine threads, and the Gods themselves will 
be jealous of your work." 

Flattered by Loki's speeches, the Dwarfs who were in the forge 
took up the bar of fine gold and flung it into the fire. Then 
taking it out and putting it upon their anvil they worked on the 
bar with their tiny hammers until they beat it into threads that 
were as fine as the hairs of one's head. But that was not enough. 
They had to be as fine as the hairs on Sif's head, and these were 
finer than anything else. They worked on the threads, over and 
over again, until they were as fine as the hairs on Sif's head. The 
threads were as bright as sunlight, and when Loki took up the 
mass of worked gold it flowed from his raised hand down on 
the ground. It was so fine that it could be put into his palm, 
and it was so light that a bird might not feel its weight. 

Then Loki praised the Dwarfs more and more, and he made 
more and more promises to them. He charmed them all, al- 
though they were an unfriendly and a suspicious folk. And 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 33 

before he left them he asked them for the spear and the boat 
he had seen them make, the spear Gungnir and the boat Skid- 
bladnir. The Dwarfs gave him these things, though in a while 
after they wondered at themselves for giving them. 

Back to Asgard Loki went. He walked into the Council 
House where the Dwellers in Asgard were gathered. He met the 
stern look in Odin's eyes and the rageful look in Thor's eyes with 
smiling good humour. "OS with thy veil, O Sif," he said. 
And when poor Sif took off her veil he put upon her shorn head 
the wonderful mass of gold he held in his palm. Over her 
shoulders the gold feU, fine, soft, and shining as her own hair. 
And the .^sir and the Asyniur, the Gods and the Goddesses, 
and the Van and Vana, when they saw Sif 's head covered again 
with the shining web, laughed and clapped their hands in glad- 
ness. And the shining web held to Sif's head as if indeed it had 
roots and was growing there. 



34 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 




JudQeoieDt on tckOKi 



IT was then that Loki, with the wish of making the ^Esir 
and the Vanir friendly to him once more, brought out 
the wonderful things he had gained from the Dwarfs 
— the spear Gungnir and the boat Skid-bladnir. The 
^sir and the Vanir marvelled at things so wonderful. 
Loki gave the spear as a gift to Odin, and to Frey, 

who was chief of the Vanir, he gave the boat Skidbladnir. 
All Asgard rejoiced that things so wonderful and so helpful 

had been brought to them. And Loki, who had made a great 

show in giving these gifts, said boastingly : 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 35 

"None but the Dwarfs who work for me could make such 
things. There are other Dwarfs, but they are as unhandy as 
they are misshapen. The Dwarfs who are my servants are the 
only ones who can make such wonders." 

Now Loki in his boastfulness had said a foohsh thing. There 
were other Dwarfs besides those who had worked for him, and 
one of these was there in Asgard. All unknown to Loki he 
stood in the shadow of Odin's seat, listening to what was 
being said. Now he went over to Loki, his Uttle, unshapely 
form trembling with rage — Brock, the most spiteful of all the 
Dwarfs. 

"Ha, Loki, you boaster," he roaked, "you lie in your words. 
Sjindri, my brother, who would scorn to serve you, is the best 
smith in Svartheim." 

The ^sir and the Vanir laughed to see Loki outfaced by Brock 
file Dwarf in the middle of his boastfulness. As they laughed 
Loki grew angry. 

"Be silent. Dwarf," he said, "your brother will know about 
smith's work when he goes to the Dwarfs who are my friends, 
and learns something from them." 

" He learn from the Dwarfs who are your friends ! My brother 
Sindri learn from the Dwarfs who are your friends!" Brock 
roared, in a greater rage than before. "The things you have 
brought out of Svartheim would not be noticed by the ^sir 
and the Vanir if they were put beside the things that my brother 
Sindri can make.^' 



36 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"Sometime we will try your brother Sindri and see what he 
can do," said Loki. 

"Try now, try now," Brock shouted. "I'll wager my head 
against yours, Loki, that his work will make the Dwellers in 
Asgard laugh at your boasting." 

"I will take your wager," said Loki. "My head against yours. 
And glad will I be to see that ugly head of yours off your mis- 
shapen shoulders." 

"The ^sir will Judge whether my brother's work is not the 
best that ever came out of Svartheim. And they will see to it 
that you will pay your wager, Loki, the head off your shoulders. 
WiU ye not sit in judgement, Dwellers in Asgard ? " 

"We will sit in judgement," said the ^Esir. Then, still full 
of rage, Brock the Dwarf went down to Svartheim, and to the 
place where his brother Sindri worked. 

HERE was Sindri in his glowing forge, working 
with bellows and anvil and hammers beside him, 
and around him masses of metal — gold and silver, 
copper and iron. Brock told his tale, how he had 
wagered his head against Loki's that Sindri 
could make things more wonderful than the spear 
and the boat that Loki had brought into Asgard. 

"You were right in what you said, my brother," said Sindri, 
"and you shall not lose your head to Loki. But the two of us 
must work at what I am going to forge. It will be your work 
to keep the fire so that it wiU neither blaze up nor die down for a 




THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 37 

single instant. If you can keep the fire as I tell you, we will 
forge a wonder. Now, bro'ther, keep your hands upon the 
bellows, and keep the fire under your control." 

Then into the fire Sindri threw, not a piece of metal, but a 
pig's skin. Brock kept his hands on the bellows, working it so 
that the fire neither died down nor blazed up for a single instant. 
And in the glowing fire the pig-skin swelled itself into a strange 
shape. 

But Brock was not left to work the bellows in peace. Into 
the forge flew a gad-fly. It lighted on Brock's hands and 
stung them. The Dwarf screamed with pain, but his hands still 
held the bellows, working it to keep the fire steady, for he knew 
that the gad-fly was Loki, and that Loki was striving to spoil 
Sindri's work. Again the gad-fly stung his hands, but Brock, 
although his hands felt as if they were pierced with hot irons, 
still worked the bellows so that the fire did not blaze up or die 
down for a single instant. 

Sindri came and looked into the fire. Over the shape that 
was rising there he said words of magic. The gad-fly had flown 
away, and Sindri bade his brother cease working. He took 
out the thing that had been shaped in the fire, and he worked 
over it with his hammer. It was a wonder indeed — a boar, 
all golden, that could fly through the air, and that shed light 
from its bristles as it flew. Brock forgot the pain in his hands 
and screamed with joy. "This is the greatest of wonders," he 
said, "The Dwellers in Asgard will have to give the judgement 



38 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

against Loki. I shall have Loki's head! I shall have Loki's 
head!" 

But Sindri said, "The boar Golden Bristle may not be judged 
as great a wonder as the spear Gungnir or the boat Skidbladnir. 
We must make something more wonderful still. Work the 
bellows as before, brother, and do not let the fire die down or 
blaze up for a single instant." 

Then Sindri took up a piece of gold that was so bright it 
lightened up the dark cavern that the Dwarfs worked in. He 
threw the piece of gold into the fire. Then he went to make 
ready something else and left Brock to work the bellows. 

The gad-fly flew in again. Brock did not know it was there 
until it lighted on the back of his neck. It stxmg him till Brock 
felt the pain was wrenching him apart. But still he kept his 
hands on the bellows, working it so that the fire neither blazed 
up nor died down for a single instant. When Sindri came to 
look into the fire. Brock was not able to speak for pain. 

Again Sindri said magic words over the gold that was being 
smelted in the fire. He took it out of the glow and worked 
it over on the main-anvil. Then in a while he showed Brock 
something that looked like the circle of the sun. "A splendid 
arm-ring, my brother," he said. "An arm-ring for a God's 
right arm. And this ring has hidden wonders. Every ninth 
night eight rings like itself will drop from this arm-ring, for this 
is Draupnir, the Ring of Increase." 

"To Odin, the Father of the Gods, the ring shall be given," 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 39 

said Brock. "And Odin will have to declare that nothing so 
wonderful or so profitable to the Gods was ever brought into 
Asgard. O Loki, cunning Loki, I shall have thy head in spite of 
thy tricks." 

"Be not too hasty, brother," said Sindri. "What we have 
done so far is good. But better still must be the thing that will 
make the Dwellers in Asgard give the judgement that delivers 
Loki's head to thee. Work as before, brother, and do not let 
the fire blaze up or die down for a single instant." 

This time Sindri threw into the fire a bar of iron. Then he 
went away to fetch the hammer that would shape it. Brock 
worked the bellows as before, but only his hands were steady, 
for every other part of him was trembling with expectation of the 
gad-fly's sting. 

He saw the gad-fly dart into the forge. He screamed as it 
flew round and roimd him, searching out a place where it might 
sting him most fearfully. It lighted down on his forehead, 
just between his eyes. The first sting it gave took the sight 
from his eyes. It stung again and Brock felt the blood flowing 
down. Darkness filled the cave. Brock tried to keep his hands 
steady on the bellows, but he did not know whether the fire was 
blazing up or d37ing down. He shouted and Sindri hurried up. 

Sindri said the magic words over the thing that was in the 
fire. Then he drew it out. "An instant more," he said, "and 
the work would have been perfect. But because you let the fire 
die down for an instant the work is not as good as it might have 



40 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

been made." He took what was shaped in the fire to the main- 
anvil and worked over it. Then when Brock's eyesight came 
back to him he saw a great hammer, a hammer all of iron. The 
handle did not seem to be long enough to balance the head. 
This was because the fire had died down for an instant while it 
was being formed. 

"The hammer is Miokiir," said Sindri, "and it is the greatest 
of the things that I am able to make. All in Asgard must 
rejoice to see this hammer. Thor only will be able to wield it. 
Now I am not afraid of the judgement that the Dwellers in 
Asgard will give." 

"The Dwellers in Asgard will have to give judgement for us," 
Brock cried out. " They will have to give judgement for us, and 
the head of Loki, my tormentor, wiU be given me." 

"No more wonderful or more profitable gifts than these have 
ever been brought into Asgard," Sindri said. "Thy head is 
saved, and thou wUt be able to take the head of Loki who was 
insolent to us. Bring it here, and we will throw it into the fire 
in the forge." 

■ HE iEsir and the Vanir were seated in the Council 
House of Asgard when a train of Dwarfs appeared 
before them. Brock came at the head of the train, 
and he was followed by a band of Dwarfs carrjdng 
things of great weight. Brock and his attendants 
stood round the throne of Odin, and barkened to 
the words of the Father of the Gk)ds. 




THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 41 

"We know why you have come into Asgard from out of 
Svartheim," Odin said. "You have brought things wonderful 
and profitable to the Dwellers in Asgard. Let what you have 
brought be seen, Brock. If they are more wonderful and more 
useful than the things Loki has brought out of Svartheim, the 
spear Gungnir and the boat Skidbladnir, we will give judgement 
for you." 

Then Brock commanded the Dwarfs who waited on him to 
show the Dwellers in Asgard the first of the wonders that Sindri 
had made. They brought out the boar, Golden Bristle. Round 
and round the Council House the boar flew, leaving a track of 
brightness. The Dwellers in Asgard said one to the other that 
this was a wonder indeed. But none would say that the boar 
was a better thing to have in Asgard than the spear that would 
hit the mark no matter how badly it was flimg, or the boat 
Skidbladnir that would sail on any sea, and that could be folded 
up so small that it would fit in any one's pocket : none would say 
that Golden Bristle was better than these wonders. 

To Frey, who was Chief of the Vanir, Brock gave the wondrous 
boar. 

Then the attending Dwarfs showed the arm-ring that was as 
bright as the circle of the Sun. All admired the noble ring. 
And when it was told how every ninth night this ring dropped 
eight rings of gold that were like itself, the Dwellers in Asgard 
spoke aloud, all saying that Draupnir, the Ring of Increase, 
was a wonder indeed. Hearing their voices raised. Brock looked 



42 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

triumphantly at Loki who was standing there with his lips drawn 
closely together. 

To Odin, the Father of the Gods, Brock gave the noble arm-ring. 

Then he commanded the attending Dwarfs to lay before Thor 
the hammer Miolnir. Thor took the hammer up and swimg it 
around his head. As he did so he uttered a great cry. And 
the eyes of the Dwellers in Asgard lightened up when they saw 
Thor with the hammer Miolnir in his hands ; their eyes lightened 
up and from their lips came the cry, "This is a wonder, a wonder 
indeed ! With this hammer in his hand none can withstand 
Thor, our Champion. No greater thing has ever come into 
Asgard than the hammer Miolnir." 

Then Odin, the Father of the Gods, spoke from his throne, 
giving Judgement. "The hammer Miolnir that the Dwarf 
Brock has brought into Asgard is a thing wonderful indeed and 
profitable to the Gods. In Thor's hands it can crush moimtains, 
and hurl the Giant race from the ramparts of Asgard. Sindri 
the Dwarf has forged a greater thing than the spear Gungnir 
and the boat Skidbladnir. There can be no other judgement." 

Brock looked at Loki, showing his gnarled teeth. " Now, Loki, 
yield your head, yield your head," he cried. 

" Do not ask such a thing," said Odin. " Put any other penalty 
on Loki for mocking you and tormenting you. Make him 
yield to you the greatest thing that it is in his power to give." 

"Not so, not so," screamed Brock. "You Dwellers in Asgard 
would shield one another. But what of me? Loki would have 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 43 

taken my head had I lost the wager. Loki has lost his head to 
me. Let him kneel down now till I cut it off." 

Loki came forward, smiling with closed lips. "I kneel before 
you, Dwarf," he said. "Take off my head. But be careful. 
Do not touch my neck. I did not bargain that you should touch 
my neck. If you do, I shall call upon the Dwellers in Asgard 
to punish you." 

Brock drew back with a snarl. "Is this the judgement of the 
Gods?" he asked. 

"The bargain you made. Brock," said Odin, "was an evil 
one, and all its evil consequences you must bear." 

Brock, in a rage, looked upon Loki, and he saw that his lips 
were smiling. He stamped his feet and raged. Then he went 
up to Loki and said, "I may not take your head, but I can do 
something with your lips that mock me." 

"What would you do. Dwarf?" asked Thor. 

"Sew Loki's lips together," said Brock, "so that he can do no 
more mischief with his talk. You Dwellers in Asgard cannot 
forbid me to do this. Down, Loki, on your knees before me." 

Loki looked round on the Dwellers in Asgard and he saw that 
their judgement was that he must kneel before the Dwarf. He 
knelt down with a frown upon his brow. "Draw your lips 
together, Loki," said Brock. Loki drew his lips together while 
his eyes flashed fire. With an awl that he took from his belt 
Brock pierced Loki's lips. He took out a thong and tightened 
them together. Then in triumph the Dwarf looked on Loki. 



44 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"O Loki," he said, "you boasted that the Dwarfs who worked 
for you were better craftsmen than Sindri, my brother. Your 
words have been shown to be lies. And now you cannot boast 
for a while." 

Then Brock the Dwarf, with great majesty, walked out of the 
Coimcil House of Asgard, and the attending Dwarfs marched 
behind him in procession. Down the passages in the earth the 
Dwarfs went, singing the song of Brock's triumph over Loki. 
And in Svartheim it was told for ever after how Sindri and 
Brock had prevailed. 

In Asgard, now that Loki's lips were closed, there was peace 
and a respite from mischief. No one amongst the iEsir or the 
Vanir were sorry when Loki had to walk about in silence with 
his head bent low. 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 



4S 




T1oa)»?eva QainedtTeR 
"DediTaceancfpbfflneRtwea 
pne (DastiOsc coT?eR 

ES, Loki went through Asgard silent and with head 
bent, and the Dwellers in Asgard said one unto 
the other, "This will teach Loki to work no more 
mischief." They did not know that what Loki 
had done had sown the seeds of naischief and that 
these seeds were to sprout up and bring sorrow 
to the beautiful Vana Freya, to Freya whom the Giant wanted 




46 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

to carry off with the Sun and the Moon as pajnment for his 
building the wall around Asgard. 

Freya had looked upon the wonders that Loki had brought 
ihto Asgard — the golden threads that were Sif' s hair, and 
Frey's boar that shed light from its bristles as it flew. The 
gleam of these golden things dazzled her, and made her 
dream in the day time and the night time of the wonders 
that she herself might possess. And often she thought, 
" What wonderful things the Three Giant Women would 
give me if I could bring myself to go to them on their 
mountain-top." 

Long ere this, when the wall around their City was not yet 
biult, and when the Gods had set up only the court with their 
twelve seats and the Hall that was for Odin and the Hall that 
was for the Goddesses, there had come into Asgard Three Giant 
Women. 

They came after the Gods had set up a forge and had begun 
to work metal for their buildings. The metal they worked was 
pure gold. With gold they built Gladsheim, the HaU of Odin, 
and with gold they made all their dishes and household ware. 
Then was the Age of Gold, and the Gods did not grudge gold to 
any one. Happy were the Gods then, and no shadow nor fore- 
boding lay on Asgard. 

But after the Three Giant Women came the Gods began to 
value gold and to hoard it. They played with it no more. And 
the happy innoceijce of their first days departed from them. 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 47 

At last the Three were banished from Asgard. The Gods 
turned their thoughts from the hoarding of gold, and they built 
up their City, and they made themselves strong. 

And now Freya, the lovely Vanir bride, thought upon the 
Giant Women and on the wonderful things of gold they had 
flashed through their hands. But not to Odur, her husband, 
did she speak her thoughts; for Odur, more than any of the 
other dwellers in Asgard, was wont to think on the days of 
happy innocence, before gold came to be hoarded and valued. 
Odur would not have Freya go near the mountain-top where 
the Three had their high seat. 

But Freya did not cease to think upon them and upon the 
things of gold they had. "Why should Odur know I went to 
them?" she said to herself. " No one will tell him. And what 
difference will it make if I go to them and gain some lovely 
thing for myself? I shall not love Odur the less because I go 
my own way for once." 

Then one day she left their palace, leaving Odur, her husband, 
playing with their little child Hnossa. She left the palace and 
went down to the Earth. There she stayed for a while, tending 
the flowers that were her charge. After a while she asked the 
Elves to tell her where the mountain was on which the Three 
Giant Women stayed. 

The Elves were frightened and would not tell her, although 
she was queen over them. She left them and stole down into 
the cavei of the Dwarfs, It was they who shoyred her the way 



48 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

to the seat of the Giant Women, but before they showed her 
the way they made her feel shame and misery. 

"We will show you the way if you stay with us here," said one 
of the Dwarfs. 

"For how long would you have me stay?" said Freya. 

"Until the cocks in Svartheim crow," said the Dwarfs, closing 
round her. "We want to know what the company of one of the 
Vanir is Uke." "I will stay," Freya said. 

Then one of the Dwarfs reached up and put his arms roimd her 
neck and kissed her with his ugly mouth. Freya tried to break 
away from them, but the Dwarfs held her. "You cannot go 
away from us now until the cocks of Svartheim crow," 
they said. 

Then one and then another of the Dwarfs pressed up to her 
and kissed her. They made her sit down beside them on the 
heaps of skins they had. When she wept they screamed at her 
and beat her. One, when she would not kiss him on the mouth, 
bit her hands. So Freya stayed with the Dwarfs until the cocks 
of Svartheim crew. 

They showed her the mountain on the top of which the Three 
banished from Asgard had their abode. The Giant Women sat 
overlooking the world of men. "What would you have from 
us, wife of Odur?" one who was called Gulveig said to her. 

"Alas ! Now that I have foimd you I know that I should ask 
you for nought," Freya said. 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 49 

"Speak, Vana," said the second of the Giant Women. 

The third said nothing, but she held up in her hands a neck- 
lace of gold most curiously fashioned. "How bright it is!" 
Freya said. "There is shadow where you sit, women, but the 
necklace you hold makes brightness now. Oh, how I should 
joy to wear it!" 

"It is the necklace Brisingamen," said the one who was 
called Gulveig. 

"It is yours to wear, wife of Odur," said the one who held it in 
her hands. 

Freya took the shining necklace and clasped it round her 
throat. She could not bring herself to thank the Giant Women, 
for she saw that there was evil in their eyes. She made reverence 
to them, however, and she went from the mountain on which 
they sat overlooking the World of Men. 

In a while she looked down and saw Brisingamen and her 
misery went from her. It was the most beautiful thing ever 
made by hands. None of the Asyniur and none other of 
the Vanir possessed a thing so beautiful. It made her more 
and more lovely, and Odur, she thought, would forgive her 
when he saw how beautiful and how happy Brisingamen 
made her. 

She rose up from amongst the flowers and took leave of the 
slight Elves and she made her way into Asgard. All who 
greeted her looked long and with wonder upon the necklace 



■ J 



so CHILDREN OF ODIN 

that she wore. And into the eyes of the Goddesses there came a 
look of longing when they saw Brisingamen. 

But Freya hardly stopped to speak to anyone. As swiftly 
as she could she made her way to her own palace. She would 
show herself to Odur and win his forgiveness. She entered her 
shining palace and called to him. No answer came. Her child, 
the little Hnossa, was on the floor, plajdng. Her mother took her 
in her arms, but the child, when she looked on Brisingamen, 
turned away crying. 

Freya left Hnossa down and searched again for Odur. He 
was not in any part of their palace. She went into the houses 
of all who dwelt in Asgard, asking for tidings of him. None 
knew where he had gone to. At last Freya went back to their 
palace and waited and waited for Odur to return. But Odur 
did not come. 

One came to her. It was a Goddess, Odin's wife, the queenly 
Frigga. "You are waiting for Odur, your husband," Frigga 
said. "Ah, let me tell you Odur will not come to you here. He 
went, when for the sake of a shining thing you did what would 
make him unhappy. Odur has gone from Asgard aiid no one 
knows where to search for him." 

"I will seek him outside of Asgard," Freya said. She wept 
no more, but she took the little child Hnossa and put her in 
Frigga's arms. Then she mounted her car that was drawn by 
two cats, and journeyed down from Asgard to Midgard, the 
Earth, to search for Odur her husband. 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 51 



YEAR in and year out, and over all the Earth, Freya 
went searching and calling for the lost Odur. 
She went as far as the bounds of the Earth, where 
she could look over to jQtunheim, where dwelt the 
Giant who would have carried her off with the 

Sun and the Moon as payment for the building 
of the wall around Asgard. But in no place, from the end of 
the Rainbow Bifrost, that stretched from Asgard to the Earth, 
to the boundary of Jotunheim, did she find a trace of her hus- 
band Odur. 

At last she turned her car towards Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge 
that stretched from Midgard, the Earth, to Asgard, the Dwelling 
of the Gods. Heimdall, the Watcher for the Gods, guarded the 
Rainbow Bridge. To him Freya went with a half hope flutter- 
ing in her heart. 

"O Heimdall," she cried, "O Heimdall, Watcher for the Gods, 
speak and tell me if you know where Odur is." 

" Odur is in every place where the searcher has not come ; Odur 
is in every place that the searcher has left ; those who seek him 
will never find Odur," said Heimdall, the Watcher for the Gods. 
Then Freya stood on Bifrost and wept. Frigga, the queenly 
Goddess, heard the sound of her weeping, and came out of 
Asgard to comfort her. 

"Ah, what comfort can you give me, Frigga?" cried Freya. 
"What comfort can you give me when Odur will never be found 
by one who searches for him ? " 



52 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"Behold how your daughter, the child Bbiossa, has grown,^' 
said Frigga. Freya looked up and saw a beautiful maiden 
standing on Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge.* She was young, more 
youthful than any of the Vanir or the Asjmiur, and her face and 
her form were so lovely that all hearts became melted when they 
looked upon her. 

And Freya was comforted in her loss. She followed Frigga 
across Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, and came once again into 
the City of the Gods. In her own palace in Asgard Freya 
dwelt with Hnossa, her child. 

Still she wore round her neck Brisingamen, the necklace 
that lost her Odur. But now she wore it, not for its splendor, 
but as a sign of the wrong she had done. She weeps, and her 
tears become golden drops as they fall on the earth. And by 
poets who know her story she is called The Beautiful Lady in 
Tears. 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 




^fpev (DonQeMatfieOianc 
(Daiden, andl?b(Dl?elbsc^ts 

(T)aQic ScDORd 




REY, chief of the Vanir, longed to have sight of 
his sister who had been from Asgard for so long. 
(You must know that this happened during the 
time when Freya was wandering through the 
world, seeking her husband, the lost Odur.) Now 
there was in Asgard a place from which one 



54 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

could overlook tHe world and have a glimpse of all who 
wandered there. That place was Hlidskjalf, Odin's lofty 
Watch-Tower. 

High up into the blue of the air that Tower went. Frey 
came to it and he knew that Odin All-Father was not upon 
Hlidskjalf. Only the two wolves, Geri and Freki, that crouched 
beside Odin's seat at the banquet, were there, and they stood in 
the way of Frey's entrance to the Tower. But Frey spoke to 
Geri and Freki in the language of the Gods, and Odin's wolves 
had to let him pass. 

But, as he went up the steps within the Tower, Frey, chief of 
the Vanir, knew that he was doing a fateful thing. For none 
of the High Gods, not even Thor, the Defender of Asgard, nor 
Baldur, the Best-beloved of the Gods, had ever climbed to the 
top of that Tower and seated themselves upon the All-Father's 
seat. "But if I could see my sister once I should be contented," 
said Frey to himself, " and no harm can come to me if I look out 
on the world." 

He came to the top of Hlidskjalf. He seated himself on Odin's 
lofty seat. He looked out on the world. He saw Midgard, the 
World of Men, with its houses and towns, its farms and people. 
Beyond Midgard he saw Jotunheim, the Realm of the Giants, 
terrible with its dark moimtains and its masses of snow and ice. 
He saw Freya as she went upon her wanderings, and he marked 
that her face was turned towards Asgard and that her steps were 
leading towards the City of the Gods. " I have contented myself 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 55 

by looking from Hlidskjalf," said Frey to himseK, "and no 
harm has come to me." 

But even as he spoke his gaze was drawn to a dwelling that 
stood in the middle of the ice and snow of Jotunheim. Long he 
gazed upon that dwelling without knowing why he looked that 
way. Then the door of the house was opened and a Giant 
maiden stood within the doorway. Frey gazed and gazed on 
her. So great was the beauty of her face that it was like star- 
hght in that dark land. She looked from the doorway of the 
house, and then turned and went within, shutting the door. 

Frey sat on Odin's high seat for long. Then he went down the 
steps of the Tower and passed by the two wolves, Geri and Freki, 
that looked threateningly upon him. He went through Asgard, 
but he foimd no one to please him in the City of the Gods. That 
night sleep did not come to him, for his thoughts were fixed upon 
the loveliness of the Giant maid he had looked upon. And when 
morning came he was filled with loneliness because he thought 
himself so far from her. He went to Hhdskjalf again, thinking 
to climb the Tower and have sight of her once more. But now 
the two wolves, Geri and Freki, bared their teeth at him and 
would not let Tn'm pass, although he spoke to them again in the 
language of the Gods. 

He went and spoke to wise Niord, his father. "She whom 
you have seen, my son," said Niord, "is Gerda, the daughter of 
the Giant Gymer. You must give over thinking of her. Your 
love for her would be an ill thing for you." 



S6 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"Why should it be an ill thing for me?" Frey asked. 
"Because you would have to give that which you prize most 
for the sake of coming to her." 
"That which I prize most," said Frey, "is my magic sword." 
"You will have to give your magic sword," said his father, 
the wise Niord. 

"I will give it," said Frey, loosening his magic sword from his 
belt. 

"Bethink thee, my son," said Niord. "If thou givest thy 
sword, what weapon wilt thou have on the day of Ragnarok, 
when the Giants will make war upon the Gods?" 

Frey did not speak, but he thought the day of Ragnarok 
was far off. "I cannot Uve without Gerda," he said, as he 
turned away. 

■ HERE was one in Asgard who was called Skirnir. 
He was a venturesome being who never cared what 
he said or did. To no one else but Skirnir could 
Frey bring himself to tell of the trouble that had 
fallen on him — the trouble that was the pun- 
ishment for his placing himself on the seat 
of the All-Father. 

Skirnir laughed when he heard Frey's tale. "Thou, a Van, 
in love with a maid of Jotunheim ! This is fun indeed ! Will ye 
make a marriage of it?" 

"Would that I might even speak to her or send a message of 
love to her," said Frey. "But I may not leave my watch over 
the Elves." 




THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 57 

"And if I should take a message to Gerda," said Skirnir the 
Venturesome, "what would my reward be?" 

"My boat Skidbladnir or my boar Golden Bristle," said Frey. 

"No, no," said Skirnir. "I want something to go by my side. 
I want something to use in my hand. Give me the magic 
sword you own." 

Frey thought upon what his father said, that he would be left 
weaponless on the day of Ragnarok, when the Giants would 
make war upon the Gods and when Asgard would be endangered. 
He thought upon this, and drew back from Skirnir, and for a 
while he remained in thought. And all the time thick-set 
Skirnir was laughing at him out of his wide mouth and his blue 
eyes. Then Frey said to himself, "The day of Ragnarok is 
far o£E, and I cannot live without Gerda." 

He drew the magic sword from his belt and he placed it in 
Skimir's hand. "I give you my sword, Skirnir," he said. 
"Take my message to Gerda, Gymer's daughter. Show her this 
gold and these precious jewels, and say I love her, and that I 
claim her love." 

"I shall bring the maid to you," said Skirnir the Venturesome. 

"But how wilt thou get to Jotunheim?" said Frey, suddenly 
remembering how dark the Giants' land was and how terrible 
were the approaches to it. 

"Oh, with a good horse and a good sword one can get any- 
where," said Skirnir. "My horse is a mighty horse, and you 
Lave given me your sword of magic. To-morrow I shall make 
the joutney." • 




S8 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

■ KIRNIR rode across Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, 
laughing out of his wide mouth and his blue eyes 
at Heimdall, the Warder of tiie Bridge to Asgard. 
His mighty horse trod the earth of Midgard, 
and swam the river that divides Midgard, the 
World of Men, from Jotunheim, the Realm of 
the Giants. He rode on heedlessly and recklessly, as he did all 
things. Then out of the iron forests came the monstrous 
wolves of Jotunheim, to tear and devour him and his mighty 
horse. It was well for Skirnir that he had in his belt Frey's 
magic sword. Its edge slew and its gleam frighted the mon- 
strous beasts. On and on Skirnir rode on his mighty horse. 
Then he came to a waU of fixe. No other horse but his mighty 
horse could go through it. Skirnir rode through the fire and 
came to the dale in which was Gymer's dwelling. 

And now he was before the house that Frey had seen Gerdai- 
enter on the day when he had climbed HUdskjalf , Odin's Watch- 
Tower. The mighty hounds that guarded Gymer's dwelling 
came and bayed around him. But the gleam of the magic sword 
kept them away. Skirnir backed his horse to the door, and 
made his horse's hooves strike against it. 

Gymer was in the feast hall drinking with his Giant friends, 
and he did not hear the baying of the hounds nor the clatter 
that Skirnir made before the door. But Gerda sat spinning 
with her maidens in the hall. "Who comes to Gymer's door?" 
she said. 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 59 

"A warrior upon a mighty horse," said one of the maidens. 

"Even though he be an enemy and one who slew my brother, 
yet shall we open the door to him and give him a cup of Gymer's 
mead," said Gerda. 

One of the maidens opened the door and Skirnir entered 
Gymer's dwelling. He knew Gerda amongst her maidens. He 
went to her and showed her the rich gold and the precious 
jewels that he had brought from Fray. "These are for you, 
fairest Gerda," he said, "if you wiU give your love to Frey, 
the Chief of the Vanir." 

"Show your gold and jewels to other maidens," said Gerda. 
" Gold and jewels will never bring me to give my love." 

Then Skirnir the Venturesome, the heedless of his words, 
drew the magic sword from his belt and held it above her. 
" Give your love to Frey, who has given me this sword," he said, 
"or meet your death by the edge of it." 

Gerda, Gymer's daughter, only laughed at the reckless Skirnir. 
"Make the daughters of men fearful by the sharpness of Frey's 
sword," she said, "but do not try to frighten a Giant's daughter 
with it." 

Then Skirnir the Reckless, the heedless of his words, made the 
magic sword flash before her eyes, while he cried out in a terrible 
voice, saying a spell over her : 

Gerd, I will curse thee ; 
Yes, with this magic 
Blade I shall touch thee ; 



6p CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Such is its power 
That, like a thistle, 
Withered 'twill leave thee, 
Like a thistle the wind 
Strips from the roof. 

Hearing these terrible words and the strange hissings of the 
magic sword, Gerda threw herself on the ground, crying out for 
pity. But Skimir stood above her, and the magic sword flashed 
and hissed over her. Skirnir sang : 

More ugly I'll leave thee 

Than maid ever was ; 

Thou wilt be mocked at 

By men and by Giants ; 

A Dwarf only will wed thee ; 

Now on this instant 

With this blade I shall touch thee, 

And leave thee bespelled. 

She lifted herself on her knees and cried out to Skimir to spare 
her from the spell of the magic sword. 

"Only if thou wilt give thy love to Frey," said Skimir. 

"I will give my love to him," said Gerda. "Now put up thy 
magic sword and drink a cup of mead and depart from Gymer's 
dwelling." 

"I will not drink a cup of your mead nor shall I depart from 
Gymer's dwelling until you yourself say that you will meet and 
speak with Frey." 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 6i 

"I will meet and speak with him," said Gerda. 
"When will you meet and speak with him?" asked Skimir. 
"In the wood of Barri nine nights from this. Let him come 
and meet me there." 

Then Skimir put up his magic sword and drank the cup of mead 
that Gerda gave him. He rode from Gymer's house, laughing 
aloud at having won Gerda for Frey, and so making the magic 
sword his own for ever. 

IKIRNIR the Venturesome, the heedless of his 
words, riding across Bifrost on his mighty horse, 
found Frey standing waiting for him beside Heim- 
daU, the Warder of the Bridge to Asgard. 

"What news dost thou bring me?" cried Frey. 
"Speak, Skirnir, before thou dost dismount from 
thine horse." 

"In nine nights from this thou mayst meet Gerda in Barri 
Wood," said Skimir. He looked at him, laughing out of his wide 
mouth and his blue eyes. But Frey turned away, saying to 

himself : 

Long is one day ; 
Long, long two. 
Can I live through 
Nine long days? 

Long indeed were these days for Frey. But the ninth day came, 
and in the evening Frey went to Barri Wood. And there he met 
Gerda, the Giant maid. She was as fair as when he had seen 



62 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

her before the door of Gymer's house. And when she saw Frey, 
so tall and noble looking, the Giant's daughter was glad that 
Skirnir the Venturesome had made her promise to come to 
Barri Wood. They gave each other rings of gold. It was settled 
that the Giant maid should come as a bride to Asgard. 

Gerda came, but another Giant maid came also. This is 
how that came to be : 

All the Dwellers ia Asgard were standing before the great gate, 
waiting to welcome the bride of Frey. There appeared a Giant 
maid who was not Gerda ; all in armour was she. 

"I am Skadi," she said, "the daughter of Thiassi. My father 
met his death at the hands of the Dwellers in Asgard. I claim 
a recompense." 

"What recompense would you have, maiden?" asked Odin, 
smiling to see a Giant maid standing so boldly in Asgard. 

"A husband from amongst you, even as Gerda. And I myself 
must be let choose him." 

All laughed aloud at the words of Skadi. Then said Odin, 
laughing, "We will let you choose a husband from amongst us, 
but you must choose him by his feet." 

"I will choose him whatever way you will," said Skadi, fixing 
her eyes on Baldur, the most beautiful of all the Dwellers in 
Asgard. 

They put a bandage round her eyes, and the .lEsir and the 
Vanir sat in a half circle around. As she went by she stooped 
over each and laid hands upon their feet. At last she came to 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 63 

one whose feet were so finely formed that she felt sure it was 
Baldur. She stood up and said : 

"This is the one that Skadi chooses for her husband." 
Then the ^sir and the Vanir laughed more and more. They 
took the bandage off her eyes and she saw, not Baldur the Beauti- 
ful, but Niord, the father of Frey. But as Skadi looked more 
and more on Niord she became more and more contented with 
her choice ; for Niord was strong, and he was noble looking. 

These two, Niord and Skadi, went first to Uve in Niord's 
palace by the sea ; but the coming of the sea mew would waken 
Skadi too early in the morning, and she drew her husband 
to the mountain top where she was more at home. He would 
not Uve long away from the sound of the sea. Back and for- 
ward, between the mountain and the sea, Skadi and Niord 
went. But Qetda stayed in Asgard with Frey, her husband, 
and the Msk and the Vanir came to love greatly Gerda, the 
Giant maid. 



64 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 




WM\ aridUaMjDOssa 
1pQ)¥{\\ DTtngsCame to8e 



INOSSA, the child of Freya and the lost Odur, was 
the youngest of all the Dwellers in Asgard. And 
because it had been prophesied that the child would 
bring her father and her mother together, little 
Hnossa was often taken without the City of the 
Gods to stand by Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, so 

that she might greet Odur if his steps turned towards Asgard. 
In all the palaces of the City of the Gods little Hnossa was 

made welcome : in Fensalir, the HaUs of Mists, where Frigga, 

the wife of Odin All-Father, sat spinning with golden threads ; 

in Breidablik, where Baldur, the Well-Beloved, lived with his 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 65 

fair wife, the young Nanna ; in Bilskimir, the Winding House, 
where Thor and Sif lived ; and in Odin's own palace Valaskjalf , 
that was all roofed over with silver shields. 

The greatest of all the palaces was Gladsheim, that was *built 
by the golden-leaved wood, Glasir. Here the banquets of the 
Gods were held. Often Uttle Hnossa looked within and saw 
Odin All-Father seated at the banquet-table, with a mantle of 
blue over him and a shining helmet shaped like an eagle upon 
his head. Odin would sit there, not eating at aU, but drinking 
the wine of the Gods, and taking the food off the table and giving 
it to Geri and Freki, the two wolves that crouched beside his seat. 

She loved to go outside the great gate and stay beside Heimdall, 
the Warder of the Rainbow Bridge. There, when there was no 
one crossing that she might watch, she would sit beside Heimdall 
and listen to the wonders that he spoke of. 

HeimdaU held in his hands the horn that was called the Gialar- 
horn. He would sound it to let the Dwellers in Asgard know that 
one was crossing the Rainbow Bridge. And HeimdaU told little 
Hnossa how he had trained himself to hear the grasses grow, and 
how he could see all around him for a hundred miles. He could 
see in the night as well as the day. He never slept. He had nine 
mothers, he told Hnossa, and he fed on the strength of the earth 
and the cold sea. 

As she sat beside him day after day, Heimdall would tell little 
Hnossa how aU things began. He had lived from the beginning 
of time and he knew all things. "Before Asgard was built," 



66 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

he said, "and before Odin lived, earth and sea and sky were all 
mixed together : what was then was the Chasm of Chasms. In 
the North there was Niflheim, the Place of Deadly Cold. In 
the South there was Muspelheim, the Land of Fire. In Niflheim 
there was a cauldron called Hveigihner that poured out twelve 
rivers that flowed into the Chasm of Chasms. 

" Ginnungagap, the Chasm of Chasms, filled up with ice, 
for the waters of the rivers froze as they poured into it. From 
Muspelheim came clouds of fire that turned the ice into thick 
mists. The mists fell down again in drops of dew, and from these 
drops were formed Ymir, the Ancient Giant. 

" Ymir, the Ancient Giant, travelled along by the twelve rivers 
until he came to where another hving form was standing in the 
mists. This was a Giant Cow. Audhumla was the name of that 
cow. Ymir lay down beside her and drank her milk, and on the 
milk she gave him he Hved. Other beings were formed out of the 
dew that fell to the groimd. They were the Daughters of the 
Frost, and Ymir, the Ancient Giant, married one, and their 
children were the Giants. 

"One day Ymir saw Audhumla breathe upon a cliff of ice and 
lick with her tongue the place she breathed on. As her tongue 
went over and over the place he saw that a figure was being formed. 
It was not like a Giant's form ; it was more shapely and more 
beautiful. A head appeared in the cUff and golden hair fell over 
the ice. As Ymir looked upon the being that was being formed he 
hated him for his beauty. 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 67 

"Audhumla, the Giant Cow, went on licking the place where 
she had breathed. At last a man completely formed stepped 
from the cliff. Ymir, the Ancient Giant, hated him so much that 
he would have slain him then and there. But he knew that if he 
did this, Audhumla would feed him no more with her milk. 

"Bur was the name of the man who was formed in the ice 
cliff. Bur, the first of the heroes. He, too, lived on the milk of 
Audhumla. He married a daughter of the Ancient Giant and 
he had a son. But Ymir and Ymir's sons hated Bur, and the 
time came at last when they were able to kill him. 

"And now there was war between Ymir and Ymir's sons and 
the son and son's sons of Bur. Odin was the son of Bur's son. 
Odin brought all his brothers together, and they were able to 
destroy Ymir and all his brood — all except one. So huge was 
Ymir that when he was slain his blood poured out in such a 
mighty flood that his sons were all drowned in it, all except 
Bergelmir, who was in a boat with his wife when the flood came, 
and who floated away on the flood to the place that we now call 
Jotunheim, the Realm of the Giants. 

"Now Odin and his sons took the body of Ymir — the vastest 
body that ever was — and they flung it into the Chasm of 
Chasms, filling up all the hollow places with it. They dug the 
bones out of the body and they piled them up as the mountains. 
They took the teeth out and they made them into the rocks. 
They took the hair of Ymir and they made it into the forests 
of trees. They took his eyebrows and formed them into the 



68 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

place where Men now dwell, Midgard. And out of Ymir's hollow 
skull they made the sky. 

"And Odin and his sons and brothers did more than this. 
They took the sparks and the clouds of flame that blew from 
Muspelheim, and they made them into the sun and the moon 
and all the stars that are in the sky. Odin found a dusky Giantess 
named Night whose son was called Day, and he gave both of 
them horses to drive across the sky. Night drove a horse that 
is named Hrimfaxe, Frosty Mane, and Day drove a horse that 
is named Skinfaxe, Shining Mane. From Hrimfaxe's bit 
falls the drops that make the dew upon the earth. 

"Then Odin and his sons made a race of men and women and 
gave them Midgard to live in. Ugly Dwarfs had grown up and 
had spread themselves over the earth. These Odin made go 
live in the hollow places beneath the earth. The Elves he let 
stay on the earth, but he gave them the tasks of tending the 
streams and the grasses and the flowers. And with the Vanir 
he made peace after a war had been waged, taking Niord from 
them for a hostage. 

"Bergelmir, the Giant who escaped drowning in Ymir's blood, 
had sons and daughters in Jotunheim. They hated Odin and his 
sons and strove against them. When Odin lighted up the world 
with the sun and the moon they were very wroth, and they found 
wo of the fiercest of the mighty wolves of Jotunheim and set 
hem to follow them. And still the sun and the moon, Sol and 
Mani; are followed by the wolves of Jotimheim." 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 69 

Such wonders did Heimdall with the Golden Teeth tell Hnossa, 
the youngest of the Dwellers in Asgard. Often the child stayed 
with him by the Rainbow Bridge, and saw the Gods pass to and 
from Midgard : Thor, with his crown of stars, with the great 
hammer Miolnir in his hands, with the gloves of iron that he 
used when he grasped Miolnir ; Thor in his chariot drawn by two 
goats and wearing the belt that doubled his strength ; Frigga, 
with her dress of falcon feathers, flying swiftly as a bird ; Odin 
All-Father himself, riding upon Sleipner, his eight-legged steed, 
clad all in golden armour, with his golden helmet, shaped like an 
eagle, upon his head, and with his spear Gungnir in his hand. 

Heimdall kept his horn in the branch of a great tree. This tree 
was called Ygdrassil, he told little Hnossa, and it was a wbnder 
to Gods and Men. "No one knows of a time when Ygdrassil 
was not growing, and all are afraid to speak of the time when it 
will be destroyed. 

"Ygdrassil has three roots. One goes deep under Midgard, 
another goes deep under Jotunheim, and the third grows above 
Asgard. Over Odin's hall a branch of Ygdrassil grows, and it is 
called the Peace Bough. 

"You see Ygdrassil, little Hnossa, but you do not know all 
the wonders of it. Far up in its branches four stags graze ; they 
shake from their horns the water that falls as rain upon the earth. 
On the topmost branch of Ygdrassil, the branch that is so high 
that the Gods themselves can hardly see it, there is an eagle that 
knows all things. Upon the beak of this eagle a hawk is perched, 
a hawk that sees what the eyes of the eagle may not see. 



70 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"The root of Ygdrassil that is in Midgard goes deep down to 
the place of the dead. Here there is an evil dragon named Nid^ 
hogg that gnaws constantly at the ropt, striving to destroy 
Ygdrassil, the Tree of trees. And Ratatosk, the Squirrel of 
Mischief — behold him now ! — runs up and down Ygdrassil, 
making trouble between the eagle above and the dragon below. 
He goes to tell the dragon how the eagle is bent upon tearing 
him to pieces and he goes back to tell the eagle how the dragon 
plans to devour him. The stories that he brings to Nidhogg 
make that evil dragon more fierce to destroy Ygdrassil, 
the Tree of trees, so that he may come upon the eagle and 
devour him. 

"There are two wells by the roots of Ygdrassil, and one is 
above and one is below. One is beside the root that grows in 
Jotunheim. This is a Well of Knowledge, and it is guarded by 
old Mimir the Wise. Whoever drinks out of this weU knows of 
all the things that will come to be. The other well is by the 
root that grows above Asgard. No one may drink out of this 
well. The three sisters that are the holy Norns guard it, and they 
take the white water from it to water Ygdrassil, that the Tree of 
Life may keep green and strong. This well, little Hnossa, is 
called Urda's WeU." 

And little Hnossa heard that by Urda's Well there were two 
beautiful white swans. They made a music that the Dwellers 
in Asgard often heard. But Hnossa was too young to hear the 
music that was made by the swans of Urda's Well. 



THE DWELLERS IN; ASGARD 



:7i 




"pbcu^e l^eaoes ^sQciRa 

wo rayens had Odin All-Father ; Hugm and Munin 
were their names ; they flew through all the worlds 
every day, and coming back to Asgard they would 
light on Odin's shoulders and tell him of all the 
things they had seen and heard. And once a day 
passed without the ravens coming back. Then 
Odin, standing on the Watch-Tower Hlidskjalf , said to himself : 

I fear me for Hugin, 

Lest he come not back, 

But I watch more for Munin. 

: A; day passed and the ravens flew back. They sat, one on each of 
his shouldfijrs. Then did the All-Father go into the Council Hall 




7a CHILDREN OF ODIN 

that was beside Glasir, the wood that had leaves of gold, and 
harken to what Hugin and Munin had to tell him. 

They told him only of shadows' and forebodings. Odin All- 
Father did not speak to the Dwellers in Asgard of the things 
they told him. But Frigga, his Queen, saw in his eyes the shadows 
and forebodings of things to come. And when he spoke to her 
about these things she said, "Do not strive against what must take 
place. Let us go to the holy Norns who sit by Urda's Well and 
see if the shadows and the forebodings will remain when you 
have looked into their eyes." 

And so it came that Odin and the Gods left Asgard and 
came to Urda's Well, where, under the great root of Ygdrassil, 
the three Norns sat, with the two fair swans below them. 
Odin went, and Tyr, the great swordsman, and Baldur, the 
most beautiful and the best beloved of the Gods, and Thor, 
with his Hammer. 

A Rainbow Bridge went from Asgard, the City of the Gods, 
to Midgard, the World of Men. But another Rainbow Bridge, 
more beautiful and more tremulous still, went from Asgard to 
thatrootof Ygdrassil underwhichwas Urda's Well. ThisRainbow 
Bridge was seldom seen by men. And where the ends of the two 
rainbows came together Heimdall stood, Heimdall with the 
Golden Teeth, the Watcher for the Gods, and the Keeper of the 
Way to Urda's Well. 

"Open the gate, Heimdall," said the All-Father, "open the 
gate, for to-day the Gods would visit the holy Norns." 



THE DWELLERS IN ASGARD 73 

Without a word Heimdall opened wide the gate that led to 
that bridge more coloured and more tremulous than any rainbow 
seen from earth. Then did Odin and Tyr and Baldur step out 
on the bridge. Thor followed, but before his foot was placed 
on the bridge, Heimdall laid his hand upon him. 

"The others may go, but you may not go that way, Thor," 
said Heimdall. 

"What? Would you, Heundall, hold me back?" said Thor. 

"Yes, for I am Keeper of the Way to the Noms," said Heim- 
dall. "You with the mighty hammer you carry are too weighty 
for this way. The bridge I guard would break imder you, 
Thor with the hammer." 

"Nevertheless I will go visit the Noms with Odin and my 
comrades," said Thor. 

"But not this way, Thor," said Heimdall. "I will not let 
the bridge be broken under the weight of you and your 
hammer. Leave your hammer here with me if you would go 
this way." 

"No, no," said Thor. "I will not leave m any one's charge 
the hammer that defends Asgard. And I may not be turned 
back from going with Odin and my comrades." 

"There is another way to Urda's Well," said Heimdall. 
"Behold these two great Cbud Rivers, Kormt and Ermt. 
Canst thou wade through them? They are cold and suffo- 
cating, but they will bring thee to Urda's Well, where sit the 
three holy Noms." 



74 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Thor looked out on the two great rolling rivers of cloud. It 
was a bad way for one to go, cold and suffocating. Yet if he 
■went that way he could keep on his shoulder the hammer which 
he would not leave in another's charge. He stept out into the 
Cloud River that flowed by the Rainbow Bridge, and with his 
hammer upon his shpulder he went struggling on to the other 
river. 

Odin, Tyr, and Baldur were beside Urda's Well when Thor 
cariie struggling out of the Cloud River, wet and choking, but 
with his hammer still upon his shoulder. There stood Tyr, 
upright and handsome, leaning on his sword that was inscribed 
all over with magic runes ; there stood Baldur, smiling, with his 
head" bent as ^he listened to the murmur of the two fair swans; 
and there stood Odin All-Father, clad in his blue cloak fringed 
with golden stars, without, the eagle-helmet upon his head, 
and with no spear in his" hands.' 

,. The three Norns, Urda, Verdandi, and Skulda, sat beside the 
well that was in the hollow of the great root of Ygdrassil. Urda 
was. ancient j and, with white haiir, and Verdandi was beautiful, 
•*rhile Slailda, could hardly be seen, for she sat far back, and her 
hair fell over her face, and eyes. Urda, Verdantli, and Skulda; 
they knew the whole of the East, the wholeof the Present, and the 
whole of the Future.- Odin, looking on them, saw into the eyes 
of Skulda even. Long, long he stocid looking on the Norns with 
the; eyesjof a God, while, the others 'listened to the murmur of the 
swans and the falling of the leaves of Ygdrassil into Urda's Well. 



THE DWELLERS IN.ASGARD 75 

Looking into their eyes, Odin saw the shadows and forebodings 
that Hugin and Munin told him of take shape and substance. 
And now others came across the Rainbow Bridge. They were 
Frigga and Sif and Naima, the wives of Odin and Thor and 
Baldur. Frigga looked upon the Norns. As she did, she turned 
a glance of love and sadness upon Baldur, her son, and then she 
drew back and placed her hand upon Nanna's head. 

Odin turned from gazing on the Norns, and looked upon Frigga, 
his queenly wife. "I would leave Asgard for a while, wife of 
Odin," he said. 

"Yea," said Frigga. "Much has to be done in Midgard, the 
World of Men." 

"I would change what knowledge I have into wisdom," said 
Odin, "so that the things that are to happen will be changed into 
the best that may be." 

"You would go to Mimir's Well," said Frigga. 

"I would go to Mimir's Well," said Odin. 

"My husband, go," said Frigga. 

Then they went back over that Rainbow Bridge that is more 
beautiful and more tremulous than the one that men see from 
the earth ; they went back over the Rainbow Bridge, the ^Esir 
and the As3miur, Odin and Frigga, Baldur and Nanna, Tyr, 
with his sword, and Sif beside Tyr. As for Thor, he went 
struggling through the Cloud Rivers Kormt and Ermt, his 
hammer Miolnir upon his shoulder. 

Little Hnossa, the youngest of the Dwellers in Asgard, was 



76 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

there, standing beside Heimdall, the Watcher for the Gods and 
the Keeper of the Bridge to Urda's Well, when Odin All-Father 
and Frigga, his Queen, went through the great gate with heads 
bent. "To-morrow," Hnossa heard Odin say, "to-morrow I 
shall be Vegtam the Wanderer upon the ways of Midgard and 
Jotunheim." 



Part II 
ODIN THE WANDERER 




f)h 9acRiRccr©R CDisd©m 



IND so Odin, no longer riding on Sleipner, his 

eight-legged steed ; no longer wearing his golden 

armour and his eagle-helmet, and without even 

his spear in his hand, travelled through Midgard, 

the World of Men, and made his way towards 

Jotunheim, the Realm of the Giants. 

No longer was he called Odin All-Father, but Vegtam the 

Wanderer. He wore a cloak of dark blue and he carried a 

traveller's staff in his hands. And now, as he went towards 

79 



8o CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Mimir's Well, which was near to Jotunheim, he came upon a 
Giant riding on a great Stag. 

Odin seemed a man to men and a giant to giants. He went 
beside the Giant on the great Stag and the two talked together. 
"Who art thou, O brother?" Odin asked the Giant. 

"I am Vafthrudner, the wisest of the Giants," said the one 
who was riding on the Stag. Odin knew him then. Vafthrudner 
was indeed the wisest of the Giants, and many went to strive to 
gain wisdom from him. But those who went to him had to 
answer the riddles Vafthrudner asked, and if they failed to answer 
the Giant took their heads off. 

"I am Vegtam the Wanderer," Odin said, "and I know who 
thou art, O Vafthrudner. I would strive to learn something 
from thee." 

The Giant laughed, showing his teeth. "Ho, ho," he said, 
"I am ready for a game with thee. Dost thou know the 
stakes? My head to thee if I cannot answer any question 
thou wilt ask. And if thou canst not answer any question that 
I may ask, then thy head goes to me. Ho, ho, ho. And now 
let us begin." 

"I am ready," Odin said. 

"Then tell me," said Vafthrudner, "tell me the name of the 
river that divides Asgard from Jotunheim?" 

"Ifling is the name of that river," said Odin. " Ifling that is 
dead cold, yet never frozen." 

"Thou hast answered rightly, O Wanderer," said the Giant. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 8i 

"But thou hast still to answer other questions. What are the 
names of the horses that Day and Night drive across the sky ? " 

"Skinfaxe and Hrimfaxe," Odin answered. Vafthrudner was 
startled to hear one say the names that were known only to the 
Gods and to the wisest of the Giants. There was only one 
question now that he might ask before it came to the stranger's 
turn to ask him questions. 

"Tell me," said Vafthrudner, "what is the name of the plain 
on which the last battle will be fought?" 

"The Plain of Vigard," said Odin, "the plain that is a hundred 
miles long and a hundred miles across." 

It was now Odin's tiurn to ask Vafthrudner questions. "What 
will be the last words that Odin will whisper into the ear of 
Baldur, his dear son?" he asked. 

Very startled was the Giant Vafthrudner at that question. 
He sprang to the ground a<nd looked at the stranger keenly. 

"Only Odin knows what his last words to Baldur will be," he 
said, "and only Odin would have asked that question. Thou 
art Odin, O Wanderer, and thy question I cannot answer." 

"Then," said Odin, "if thou wouldst keep thy head, answer me 
this : what price will Mimir ask for a draught from the Well of 
Wisdom that he guards?" 

"He will ask thy right eye as a price, O Odin," said Vaf- 
thrudner. 

"Will he ask no less a price than that?" said Odin. 

"He will ask no less a price. Many have come to him for a 



§2 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

draught from the Well of Wisdom, but no one yet has given the 
price Mimir asks. I have answered thy question, O Odin. 
Now give up thy claim to my head and let me go on my way." 

I "I give up my claim to thy head," said Odin. Then Vaf- 
thrudner, the wisest of the Giants, went on his way, riding on his 
^reat Stag. 

T was a terrible price that Mimir would ask for a 

draught froiii the Well of Wisdom, and very troubled 

was Odin All-Father when it was revealed to him. 

, His right eye ! For all time to be without the sight 

of his right eye ! Almost he would have turned 

back to Asgard, giving up his quest for wisdom. 

He went on, turning neither to Asgard nor to Mimir's Well. 

And when he went towards the South he saw Muspelheim, where 

stood Surtur with the Flaming Sword, a terrible figure, who would 

one day join the Giants in their war against the Gods. And when 

he turned North he heard the roaring of the cauldron Hvergelmer 

as it poured itself out of Niflheim, the place of darkness and drea.d. 

And Odin knew that the world must not be left between Surtur, 

who would destroy it with fire, and Niflheim, that would gather 

it back to Darkness and Nothingness. He, the eldest of the 

Gods, would have to win the wisdom that would help to save the 

world. 

And so, with his face stern in front of his loss and pain, Odin 
All-Father turned and went towards Mimir's Well. It was under 
tiie great root of Ygdrassil — the root that grew out of Jotun- 



ODIN THE WANDERER 83 

Tieim. And there sat Mimir, the Guardian of the Well of Wisdom, 
with his deep eyes bent upon the deep water. And Mimir, who 
had drunk every day from the Well of Wisdom, knew who it 
was that stood before him. 

"Hail, Odin, Eldest of the Gods," he said. 

Then Odin made reverence to Mimir, the wisest of the world's 
beings. "I would drink from your well, Mimir," he said. 

"There is a price to be paid. All who have come here to drink 
have shrunk from paying that price. Will you. Eldest of the 
Gods, pay it?" 

"I will not shrink from the price that has to be paid, Mimir," 
said Odin All-Father. 

"Then drink," said Mimir. He filled up a great horn with 
water from the well and gave it to Odin. 

Odin took the horn in both his hands and drank and drank. 
And as he drank all the future became clear to him. He saw 
all the sorrows and troubles that would fall upon Men and 
Gods. But he saw, too, why the sorrows and troubles had to 
fall, and he saw how they might be borne so that Gods and Men, 
by being noble in the days of sorrow and trouble, would leave 
in the world a force that one day, a day that was far off indeed, 
would destroy the evil that brought terror and sorrow and despair 
into the world. 

Then when he had dnmk out of the great horn that Mimir 
had given him, he put his hand to his face and he plucked out 
his right eye. Terrible was the pain that Odin All-Father 



84 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

endured. But he made no groan nor moan. He bowed his head 
and put his doak before his face, as Mimir took the eye and let 
it sink deep, deep into the water of the Well of Wisdom. And 
there the Eye of Odin stayed, shining up through the water, a 
sign to all who came to that place of the price that the Father 
of the Gods had paid for his wisdom. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 



85 




Ocfin r(jces/1n€(/fl (Dan 



OINCE, when his wisdom was less great, Odin had 
lived in the world of men. Frigga, his Queen, was 
with him then ; they had lived on a bleak island, 
and they were known as Grimner the Fisherman 
and his wife. 

Always Odin and Frigga were watching over the 
sons of men, watching to know which ones they would foster and 
train so that they might have the strength and spirit to save the 
world from the power of the Giants. And while they were stay- 
ing on the bleak island, Odin and Frigga saw the sons of King 



86 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Hrauding, and both thought that in them the spirit of heroes 
could be fostered. Odin ^nd Frigga made plans to bring the 
children to them, so that they might be under their care and train- 
ing. One day the boys went fishing. A storm came and drove 
their boat on the rocks of the island where Odin and Frigga lived. 

They brought them to their hut, Odin and Frigga, and they 
told them they would care for them and train them through the 
winter and that in the spring they would build a boat that would 
carry them back to their father's country. "We shall see," said 
Odin to Frigga that night, "we shall see which of the two can 
be formed into the nolalest hero." 

He said that because Frigga favoured one of the boys and he 
favoured the other. Frigga thought well of the elder boy, Agnar, 
who had a gentle voice and quiet and kindly ways. But Odin 
thought more of the younger boy. Geirrod, his name was, and he 
was strong and passionate, with a high and a loud voice. 

Odin took Geirrod into his charge, and he showed him how to 
fish and hunt. He made the boy even bolder than he was by 
making him leap from rock to rock, and by letting him dimb 
the highest cliffs and jump across the widest chasms. He would 
bring him to the den of the bear and make him fight for his life 
with the spear he had made for him. Agnar went to the chase, 
too, and showed his skill and boldness. But Geirrod overcame 
him in nearly every trial. "What a hero Geirrod will be," Odin 
would often say. 

Agnar stayed often with Frigga. He would stay beside her 



ODIN THE WANDERER 87 

while she spun, listening to the tales she told, and asking such 
questions as brought him more and more wisdom. And Agnar 
heard of Asgard and of the Dwellers in Asgard and of how they 
protected Midgard, the World of Men, from the Giants of Jotun- 
heim. Agnar, though he did not speak out, said in his own mind 
that he would give all his life and all his strength and all his 
thought to helping the work of the Gods. 

PRING came and Odin built a boat for Geirrod 
and Agnar. They could go back now to their 
own country. And before they set out Odin told 
Geirrod that one day he would come to visit him. 
"And do not be too proud to receive a Fisherman 
in your hall, Geirrod," said Odin. "A King 
should give welcome to the poorest who comes to his hall." 

"I wiU be a hero, no doubt of that," Geirrod answered., 
"And I would be a King, too, only Agnar Little-good was born 
before me." 

Agnar bade good-bye to Trigga and to Odin, thanking them 
for the care they had taken of Geirrod and himself. He looked 
into Frigga's eyes, and he told her that he would strive to learn 
how he might fight the battle for the Gods. 

The two went into the boat and they rowed away. They came 
near to King Hrauding's realm. They saw the castle overlooking 
the sea. Then Geirrod did a terrible thing. He turned the 
boat back towards the sea, and he cast the oars away. Then, for 
he was well fit to swim the roughest sea and climb the highest 



88 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

cli£Es, he plunged into the water and struck out towards the 
shore. And Agnar, left without oars, went drifting out to sea. 
Geirrod climbed the high cliffs and came to his father's castle. 
King Hrauding, who had given up both of his sons for lost, 
was rejoiced to see him. Geirrod told of Agnar that he had 
fallen out of the boat on their way back and that he had been 
drowned. King Hrauding, who had thought both of his sons 
were gone from him, was glad enough that one had come safe. 
He put Geirrod beside him on the throne, and when he died 
Geirrod was made King over the people. 

IND now Odin, having drunk from Mimir's Well, 
went through the kingdoms of men, judging 
Kings and simple people according to the wisdom 
he had gained. He came at last to the kingdom 
that Geirrod ruled over. Odin thought that of 
all the Kings he had judged to be noble, Geirrod 
would assuredly be the noblest. 

He went to the King's house as a Wanderer, blind of one eye, 
wearing a cloak of dark blue and with a wanderer's staff in his 
hands. As he drew near the King's house men on dark horses 
came riding behind him. The first of the men did not turn his 
horse as he came near the Wanderer, but rode on, nearly tram- 
pling him to the ground. 

As they came before the King's house the men on the dark 
horses shouted for servants. Only one servant was in the stable. 
He came out and took the horse of the first man. Then the 



ODIN THE WANDERER 89 

others called upon the Wanderer to tend their horses. He had 
to hold the stirrups for some of them to dismount. 

Odin knew who the first man was. He was Geirrod the King. 
And he knew who the man who served in the stable was. He 
was Agnar, Geirrod's brother. By the wisdom he had gained he 
knew that Agnar had come back to his father's kingdom in the 
guise of a servant, and he knew that Geirrod did not know who 
this servant was. 

They went into the stable together. Agnar took bread and 
broke it and gave some to the Wanderer. He gave him, too, 
straw to seat himself on. But in a while Odin said, "I would seat 
myself at the fire in the King's hall and eat my supper of meat." 

"Nay, stay here," Agnar said. "I will give you more bread 
and a wrap to cover yourself with. Do not go to the door of the 
King's house, for the King is angry to-day and he might repulse 
you." 

"How?" said Odin. "A King turn away a Wanderer who 
comes to his door ! It cannot be that he would do it !" 

"To-day he is angry," Agnar said. Again he begged him not 
to go to the door of the King's house. But Odin rose up from the 
straw on which he was seated and went to the door. 

A porter, hunchbacked and with long arms, stood at the door. 
"I am a Wanderer, and I would have rest and food in the King's 
hall," Odin said. 

"Not in this King's hall," said the hunchbacked porter. He 
would have barred the door to Odin, but the voice of the King 



90 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

called him away. Odin then strode into the hall and saw the 
King at table with his friends, all dark-bearded, and cruel- 
looking men. And when Odin looked on them he knew that the 
boy whom he had trained in nobility had become a King over 
robbers. 

" Since you have come into the hall where we eat, sing to us, 
Wanderer," shouted one of the dark men. "Aye, I will sing to 
you," said Odin. Then he stood between two of the stone pillars 
in the hall and he sang a song reproaching the King for having 
fallen into an evU way of life, and denouncing all for following 
the cruel ways of robbers. 

"Seize him," said the King, when Odin's song was finished. 
The dark men threw themselves upon Odin and put chains around 
him and boimd him between the stone pillars of the hall. "He 
came into this hall for warmth, and warmth he shall have," 
said Geirrod. He called upon his servants to heap up wood 
around him. They did this. Then the King, with his own hand, 
put a blazing torch to the wood and the fagots blazed up 
aroimd the Wanderer. 

The fagots burned round and round him. But the fire did not 
burn the flesh of Odin All-Father. The King and the King's 
friends stood round, watching with delight the fires blaze round 
a living man. The fagots all burned away, and Odin was left 
standing there with his terrible gaze fixed upon the men who 
were so hard and cruel. 

They went to sleep, leaving him chained to the pillars of 



ODIN THE WANDERER 91 

the hall. Odin could have broken the chains and pulled down 
the pillars, but he wanted to see what else would happen in 
this King's house. The servants were ordered not to bring 
food or drink to him, but at dawn, when there was no one 
near, Agnar came to him with a horn of ale and gave it to him 
to drink. 

The next evening when the King came back from his robberies, 
and when he and his friends, sitting down at the tables, had eaten 
like wolves, he ordered the fagots to be placed around Odin. 
And again they stood around, watching in deUght the fire playing 
around a living man. And as before Odin stood there, unhurt 
by the fire, and his steady and terrible gaze made the King hate 
him more and more. And all day he was kept in chains, and the 
servants were forbidden to bring hitn food or drink. None knew 
that a horn of ale was brought to him at dawn. 

And night after night, for eight nights, this went on. Then, 
on the ninth night, when the fires around him had been lighted, 
Odin lifted up his voice and began to sing a song. 

His song became louder and louder, and the King and the 
King's friends and the servants of the King's house had to stand 
still and harken to it. Odin sang about Geirrod, the King ; how 
the Gods had protected him, giving him strength and skill, 
and how instead of making a noble use of that strength and skill 
he had made himself like one of the wild beasts. Then he sang 
of how the vengeance of the Gods was about to fall on this ignoble 
King. 



92 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

The flames died down and Geirrod and his friends saw before 
them, not a friendless Wanderer, but one who looked more kingly 
that any King of the earth. The chains fell down from his body 
and he advanced towards the evil company. Then Geirrod 
rushed upon him with his sword in hand to kill him. The sword 
struck him, but Odin remained unhurt. 

Thy life runs out, 

The Gods they are wroth with thee ; 

Draw near if thou canst ; 

Odin thou shalt see. 

So Odin sang, and, in fear of his terrible gaze, Geirrod and his 
company shrank away. And as they shrank away they were 
changed into beasts, into the wolves that range the forests. 

And Agnar came forward, and him Odin declared to be King. 
All the folk were glad when Agnar came to rule over them, for they 
had been oppressed by Geirrod in his cruel reign. And Agnar 
was not only kind, but he was strong and victorious in his rule. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 



93 




©diDmipsfeR (DcnXjefDaQicte 



IT was the Dwarfs who brewed the Magic Mead, and 
it was the Giants who hid it away. But it was 
Odin who brought it from the place where it was 
hidden and gave it to the sons of men. Those 
who drank of the Magic Mead became very wise, 
and not only that but they could put their wisdom 

into such beautiful words that every one who heard would love 

and remember it. 
The Dwarfs brewed the Magic Mead through cruelty and 

villainy. They made it out of the blood of a man. The man was 



94 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Kvasir the Poet. He had wisdom, and he had such beautiful 
words with it, that what he said was loved and remembered by 
aU. The Dwarfs brought Kvasir down .into their caverns and 
they killed him there. "Now," they said, "we have Kvasir's 
blood and Kvasir's wisdom. No one else will have his wisdom 
but us." They poured the blood into three jars and they mixed 
it with honey, and from it they brewed the Magic Mead. 

Having killed a man the Dwarfs became more and more bold. 
They came out of their caverns and went up and down through 
Midgard, the World of Men. They went into Jotunheim, and 
began to play their evil tricks on the most harmless of the Giants. 

They came upon one Giant who was very simple. GiUing 
was his name. They persuaded Gilling to row them out to 
sea in a boat. Then the two most cuiming of the Dwarfs, Galar 
and Fialar, steered the boat on to a rock. The boat split. 
Gilling, who could not swim, was drowned. The Dwarfs clam- 
bered up on pieces of the boat and came safely ashore. They 
were so delighted with their evil tricks that they wanted to play 
some more of them. 

Galar and Fialar then thought of a new piece of mischief they 
might do. They led their band of Dwarfs to Gilling's house and 
screamed out to his wife that Gilling was dead. The Giant's 
wife began to weep and lament. At last she rushed out of the 
house weeping and clapping her hands. Now Galar and Fialar 
had clambered up on the lintel of the house, and as she came 
running out they cast a millstone on her head. It struck her 



ODIN THE WANDERER 95 

and Gilling's wife fell down dead. More and more the Dwarfs 
were delighted at the destruction they were making. 

They were so insolent now that they made up songs and sang 
them, songs that were aU a boast of how they had killed Kvasir 
the Poet, and GilHng the Giant, and Gilling's wife. They stayed 
around Jotimheim, tormenting all whom they were able to 
torment, and flattering themselves that they were great and 
strong. They stayed too long, however. Suttung, Gilling's 
brother, tracked them down and captured them. 

Suttung was not harmless and simple like Gilling, his brother. 
He was cunning and he was covetous. Once they were in his 
hands the Dwarfs had no chance of making an escape. He took 
them and left them on a rock in the sea, a rock that the tide would 
cover. 

The Giant stood up in the water taller than the rock, and the 
tide as it came in did not rise above his knees. He stood there 
watching the Dwarfs as the water rose up round them and they 
became more and more terrified. 

"Oh, take us off the rock, good Suttung," they cried out to 
him. "Take us off the rock and we will give you gold and jewels. 
Take us off the rock and we wiU give you a necklace as beautiful 
as Brisingamen." So they cried out to him, but the Giant Sut- 
tung only laughed at them. He had no need of gold or jewels. 

Then Fialar and Galar cried out: "Take us off the rock and 
we will give you the jars of the Magic Mead we have brewed." 

"The Magic Mead," said Suttung. "This is something that no 



96 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

one else has. It would be well to get it, for it might help us in 
the battle against the Gods. Yes, I will get the Magic Mead 
from them." 

He took the band of Dwarfs off the rock, but he held Galar 
and Fialar, their chiefs, while the others went into their caverns 
and brought up the jars of the Magic Mead. Suttung took the 
Mead and brought it to a cavern in a mountain near his dwelling. 
And thus it happened that the Magic Mead, brewed by the 
Dwarfs through cruelty and villainy, came into the hands of the 
Giants. And the story now teUs how Odin, the Eldest of the 
Gods, at that time in the world as Vegtam the Wanderer, took 
the Magic Mead out of Suttung's possession and brought it 
into the world of men. 

^i"^ jOW, Suttung had a daughter named Gunnlod, and 

^^m ^k she by her goodness and her beauty was like CJerda 

I ■ and Skadi, the Giant maids whom the Dwellers in 

I ^ Asgard favored. Suttxmg, that he might have a 

4* • V# guardian for the Magic Mead, enchanted Gunnlod, 

turning her from a beautiful Giant maiden into 

a witch with long teeth and sharp nails. He shut her into the 

cavern where the jars of the Magic Mead were hidden. 

Odin heard of the death of Kvasir whom he honored above all 
men. The Dwarfs who slew him he had closed up in their 
caverns so that they were never again able to come out into the 
world of men. And then he set out to get the Magic Meac 
that he might give it to men, so that, tasting it, they would have 




ODIN THE WANDERER 97 

wisdom, and words would be at their command that would make 
wisdom loved and remembered. 

How Odin won the Magic Mead out of the rock-covered 
cavern where Suttung had hidden it, and how he broke the 
enchantment that lay upon Gunnlod, Suttung's daughter, is a 
story which is often told around the hearths of men. 

INE strong thralls were mowing in a field as a 
Wanderer went by clad in a dark blue cloak and 
carrying a wanderer's staff in his hand. One 
of the thralls spoke to the Wanderer : "Tell them 
in the house of Baugi up yonder that I can mow 
no more until a whetstone to sharpen my scythe 
is sent to me." "Here is a whetstone," said the Wanderer, and 
he took one from his belt. The thrall who had spoken whetted 
his scythe with it and began to mow. The grass went down before 
his scythe as if the wind had cut it. "Give us the whetstone, 
give us the whetstone," cried the other thralls. The Wanderer 
threw the whetstone amongst them, leaving them quarrelling 
over it, and went on his way. 

The Wanderer came to the house of Baugi, the brother of 
Suttung. He rested in Baugi's house, and at supper time he was 
given food at the great table. And while he was eating with the 
Giant a Messenger from the field came in. 

"Baugi," said the Messenger, "your nine thralls are all dead. 
They killed each other with their scythes, fighting in the field 
about a whetstone. There are no thralls now to do your work." 



98 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"What shall I do, what shall I do?" said Baugi the Giant. 
"My fields wiU not be mown now, and I shall have no hay to 
feed my cattle and my horses in the winter." 

"I might work for you," said the Wanderer. 

"One man's work is no use to me," said the Giant, "I must 
have the work of nine men." 

"I shall do the work of nine men," said the Wanderer, "give 
me a trial, and see." 

The next day Vegtam the Wanderer went into Baugi's field. 
He did as much work as the nine thralls had done in a day. 

"Stay with me for the season," said Baugi, "and I shall give 
you a full reward." 

So Vegtam stayed at the Giant's house and worked in the 
Giant's fields, and when all the work of the season was done 
Baugi said to him : 

"Speak now and tell me what reward I am to give you." 

"The only reward I shall ask of you," said Vegtam, "is a 
draught of the Magic Mead." 

"The Magic Mead?" said Baugi. "I do not know where it 
is nor how to get it." 

"Your brother Suttung has it. Go to him and claim a draught 
of the Magic Mead for me." 

Baugi went to Suttung. But when he heard what he had come 
for, the Giant Suttung turned on his brother in a rage. 

"A draught of the Magic Mead ? " he said. " To no one will I 
give a draught of the Magic Mead. Have I not enchanted my 



ODIN THE WANDERER 99 

daughter Gunnlod, so that she may watch over it? And you 
tell me that a Wanderer who has done the work of nine men for 
you asks a draught of the Magic Mead for his fee ! Giant as 
foolish as GilHng ! O oaf of a Giant ! Who could have done such 
work for you, and who would demand such a fee from you, but 
one of our enemies, the /Esir ? Go from me now and never come 
to me again with talk of the Magic Mead." 

Baugi went back to his house and told the Wanderer that Sut- 
tung would yield none of the Magic Mead. "I hold you to your 
bargain," said Vegtam the Wanderer, "and you will have to get 
me the fee I asked. Come with me now and help me to get it." 

He made Baugi bring him to the place where the Magic 
Mead was hidden. The place was a cavern in the mountain. 
In front of that cavern was a great mass of stone. 

"We cannot move that stone nor get through it," said Baugi. 
"I cannot help you to your fee." 

The Wanderer drew an auger from his belt. "This will bore 
through the rock if there is strength behind it. You have the 
strength, Giant. Begin now and bore." 

Baugi took the auger in his hands and bored with all his 
strength, and the Wanderer stood by leaning on his staff, calm 
and majestic in his cloak of blue. 

"I have made a deep, deep hole. It goes through the rock," 
Baugi said, at last. 

The Wanderer went to the hole and blew into it. The dust 
of the rock flew back into their faces. 



loo CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"So that is your boasted strength, Giant," he said. "You 
have not bored half-way through the rock. Work again." 

Then Baugi took the auger again and he bored deeper and 
deeper into the rock. And he blew into it, and lo ! his breath 
went through. Then he looked at the Wanderer to see what 
he would do ; his eyes had become fierce and he held the auger 
in his hand as if it were a stabbing knife. 

"Look up to the head of the rock," said the Wanderer. As 
Baugi looked up the Wanderer changed himself into a snake and 
glided into the hole in the rock. And Baugi struck at him with 
the auger, hoping to kill him, but the snake slipped through. 
~~~]EHIND the mighty rock there was a hollow 
K^^ ^ place all lighted up by the shining crystals in the 
I ^^^ rock. And within the hollow place there was an 
B ■ ill-looking witch, with long teeth and sharp nails. 
^^^s.^F But she sat there rocking herself and letting tears 

' fall from her eyes. "O youth and beauty," she 

sang, "O sight of men and women, sad, sad for me it is that 
you are shut away, and that I have only this closed-in cavern 
and this horrible form." 

A snake glided across the floor. " Oh, that you were deadly and 
that you might slay me," cried the witch. The snake glided past 
her. Then she heard a voice speak softly : " Gunnlod, Gunnlod ! " 
She looked round, and there standing behind her was a majestic 
man, clad in a cloak of dark blue, Odin, the Eldest of the Gods. 
"You have come to take the Magic Mead that my father has 



ODIN THE WANDERER loi 

set me here to guard," she cried. "You shall not have it. Rather 
shall I spill it out on the thirsty earth of the cavern." 

" Gunnlod," he said, and he came to her. She looked at him 
and she felt the red blood of youth come back into her cheeks. 
She put her hands with their sharp nails over her breast, and she 
felt the nails drive into her flesh. "Save me from all this ugli- 
ness," she cried. 

"I will save you," Odin said. He went to her. He took her 
hands and held them. He kissed her on the mouth. All the marks 
of ill favor went from her. She was no longer bent, but tall and 
shapely. Her eyes became wide and deep blue. Her mouth 
became red and her hands soft and beautiful. She became as 
fair as Gerda, the Giant maid whom Frey had wed. 

They stayed looking at each other, then they sat down side 
by side and talked softly to each other, Odin, the Eldest of the 
Gods, and Gunnlod, the beautiful Giant maiden. 

She gave him the three jars of the Magic Mead and she told 
him she would go out of the cavern with him. Three days passed 
and still they were together. Then Odin by his wisdom found 
hidden paths and passages that led out of the cavern and he 
brought Guimlod out into the light of the day. 

And he brought with him the jars of the Magic Mead, the Mead 
whose taste gives wisdom, and wisdom in such beautiful words 
that all love and remember it. And Gunnlod, who had tasted a 
little of the Magic Mead, wandered through the world singing 
of the beauty and the might of Odin, and of her love for him. 



I02 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 







IT was not only to Giants and Men that Odin showed 
himself in the days when he went through Jotunheim 
and Midgard as Vegtam the Wanderer. He met 
and he spoke with the Gods also, with one who 
lived far away from Asgard and with others who 

til I 

came to Midgard and to Jotunheim. 
The one who lived far away from Asgard was Vidar, Odin's 
silent son. Far within a wilderness, with branches and taU grass 
growing around him, Vidar sat. And near by him a horse grazed 



ODIN THE WANDERER 103 

with a saddle upon it, a horse that was ever ready for the 
speedy journey. 

And Odin, now Vegtam the Wanderer, came into that silent 
place and spoke to Vidar, the Silent God. 

"O Vidar," he said, "strangest of all my sons; God who will 
live when all of us have passed away ; God who wiU bring the 
memory of the Dwellers of Asgard into a world that will know 
not their power; O Vidar, well do I know why there grazes 
near by thee the horse ever ready for the speedy journey : it is 
that thou mayst spring upon it and ride unchecked, a son speed- 
ing to avenge his father. 

"To you only, O Vidar the Silent One, will I speak of the secrets 
of my doings. Who but you can know why I, Odin, the Eldest 
of the Gods, hung on the tree Ygdrassil nine days and nine nights, 
mine own spear transfixing me? I hung upon that windy tree 
that I might learn the wisdom that would give me power in 
the nine worlds. On the ninth night the Runes of Wisdom 
appeared before mine eyes, and slipping down from the tree 
I took them to myself. 

"And I shall tell why my ravens fly to thee, carrying in their 
beaks scraps of leather. It is that thou mayst make for thyself 
a sandal ; with that sandal on thou mayst put thy foot on the 
lower jaw of a noighty woH and rend him. All the shoemakers 
of the earth throw on the ground scraps of the leather they use 
so that thou mayst be able to make the sandal for thy wolf- 
rending foot. 



104 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"And I have counselled the dwellers on earth to cut off the 
finger-nails and the toe-nails of their dead, lest from those finger- 
nails and toe-nails the Giants make for themselves the ship 
Naglfar in which they will sail from the North on the day 
of Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods. 

"More, Vidar, I will tell to thee. I, living amongst men, 
have wed the daughter of a hero. My son shall live as a mortal 
amongst mortals. Sigi his name shall be. From him shall spring 
heroes who will fiU Valhalla, my own hall in Asgard, with heroes 
against the day of our strife with the Giants and with Surtur of 
the Flaming Sword." 

For long Odin stayed in that silent place communing with 
his silent son, with Vidar, who with his brother would live 
beyond the lives of the Dwellers of Asgard and who would bring 
into another day and another world the memory of the ^Esir 
and the Vanir. For long Odin spoke with him, and then he went 
across the wilderness where the grass and the bushes grew and 
where that horse grazed in readiness for the sudden journey. He 
went towards the sea-shore where the .lEsir and the Vanir were 

r 

now gathered for the feast that old ^gir, the Giant King of 
the Sea, had offered them. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 



loS 







LL but a few of the Dwellers of Asgard had come 

to the feast offered by ^gir the Old, the Giant 

King of the Sea. Frigga, the queenly wife of Odin, 

was there, and Frey and Freya; Iduna, who 

guarded the Apples of Youth, and Bragi, her 

husband; Tyr, the great swordsman, and Niord, 

the God of the Sea, Skadi, who wedded Niord and whose hatred 

for Loki was fierce, and Sif, whose golden hair was once shorn 

ofE by Loki the mischievous. Thor and Loki were there. The 



io6' CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Dwellers of Asgard, gathered together in the hall of Mga, 
waited for Odin. 

Before Odin came Loki made the company merry by the tales 
that he told in mockery of Thor. Loki long since had his lips 
unloosed from the thong that the Dwarf Brock had sewn them 
with. And Thor had forgotten the wrong that he had done to Sif . 
Loki had been with Thor in his wanderings through Jotunheim, 
and about these wanderings he now told mocking tales. 

He told how he had seen Thor in his chariot of brass drawn 
by two goats go across Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. None of 
the ^sir or the Vanir knew on what adventure Thor was bent. 
But Loki followed him and Thor kept him in his company. 

As they travelled on in the brass chariot drawn by the two 
goats, Thor told Loki of the adventure on which he was bent. 
He would go into Jotunheim, even into Utgard, the Giants' 
City, and he would try his strength against the Giants. He 
was not afraid of aught that might happen, for he carried Miol- 
nir, his hammer, with him. 

Their way was through Midgard, the World of Men. Once, 
as they were travelling on, night came upon them as they were 
hungry and in need of shelter. They saw a peasant's hut and 
they drove the chariot towards it. Unyoking the goats and 
leaving them standing in a hollow beade the chariot, the two, 
looking not Hke Dwellers in Asgard, but like men travelling 
through the country, knocked at the door of the hut and asked 
for food and shelter. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 107 

They could have shelter, the peasant and his wife told them, 
but they could not have food. There was little in that place, 
and what little there had been they had eaten for supper. The 
peasant showed them the inside of the hut : it was poor and bare, 
and there was nothing there to give anyone. In the morning, 
the peasant said, he would go down to the river and catch some 
fish for a meal. 

"We can't wait until morning, we must eat now," said Thor, 
"and I think I can provide a good meal for us all." He went 
over to where his goats stood in the hollow beside the chariot of 
brass, and, striking them with his hammer, he left them lifeless 
on the ground. He skinned the goats then, and taking up the 
bones very carefully, he left them down on the skins. Skins 
and bones he lifted up and bringing them into the house he left 
them in a hole above the peasant's fireplace. "No one," said 
he in a commanding voice, "must touch the bones that I leave 
here." 

Then he brought the meat into the house. Soon it was cooked 
and laid smoking on the table. The peasant and his wife and 
his son sat round the board with Thor and Loki. They had not 
eaten plentifully for many days, and now the man and the woman 
fed themselves weU. 

Thialfi was the name of the peasant's son. He was a grow- 
ing lad and had an appetite that had not been satisfied for long. 
While the meat was on the table his father and mother had 
kept him going here and there, carrying water, putting fagots 



io8 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

on the fire, and holding a blazing stick so that those at the table 
might see to eat. There was not much left for him when he was 
able to sit down, for Thor and Loki had great appetites, and the 
lad's father and mother had eaten to make up for days of want. 
So Thialfi got little out of that plentiful feast. 

When the meal was finished they lay down on the benches. 
Thor, because he had made a long journey that day, slept very 
soundly. Thialfi lay down on a bench, too, but his thoughts 
were stiU upon the food. When all were asleep, he thought, 
he would take one of the bones that were in the skins above him, 
and break and gnaw it. 

So in the dead of the night the lad stood up on the bench and 
took down the goat-skins that Thor had left so carefully there. 
He took out a bone, broke it, and gnawed it for the marrow. 
Loki was awake and saw him do this, but he, relishing mischief 
as much as ever, did nothing to stay the lad. 

He put the bone he had broken back in the skins and he left 
the skins back in the hole above the fireplace. Then he went 
to sleep on the bench. 

In the morning, as soon as they were up, the first thing Thor 
did was to take the skins out of the hole. He carried them care- 
fully out to the hollow where he had left the goats standing. 
He put each goat-skin down with the bones in it. He struck 
each with his hammer, and the goats sprang up alive, horns and 
hoofs and all. 

But one was not as he had been befere. He limped badly. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 109 

Thor examined the leg and found out that one bone was broken. 
In terrible anger he turned on the peasant, his wife, and his son. 
"A bone of this goat has been broken under your roof," he 
shouted. "For that I shall destroy your house and leave you 
all dead under it." Thialfi wept. Then he came forward and 
touched the knees of Thor. " I did not know what harm I did," 
he said. "I broke the bone." 

Thor had his hammer lifted up to crush him into the earth. 
But he could not bring it down on the weeping boy. He let his 
hammer rest on the ground again. "You will have to do much 
service for me for having lamed my goat," he said. " Come with 
me. 

And so the lad Thialfi went off with Thor and Loki. Thor took 
in his powerful hands the shafts of the chariot of brass and he 
dragged it into a lonely mountain hoUow where neither men nor 
Giants came. And they left the goats in a great, empty forest 
to stay resting there until Thor called to them again. 

HOR and Loki and the lad Thialfi went across from 
Midgard into Jotunheim. Because of Miolnir, 
the great hammer that he carried, Thor felt safe 
in the Realm of the Giants. And Loki, who 
trusted in his own cunning, felt safe, too. The 
lad Thialfi trusted in Thor so much that he had 
no fear. They were long in making the journey, and while they 
were travelling Thor and Loki trained Thialfi to be a quick and 
a strong lad. 




no CHILDREN OF ODIN 

One day they came out on a moor. All day they crossed it, 
and at night it still stretched far before them. A great wind 
was blowing, night was falling, and th^ saw no shelter near. 
In the dusk they saw a shape that looked to be a mountain and 
they went towards it, hoping to find some shelter in a cave. 

Then Loki saw a lower shape that looked as if it might be a 
shelter. They walked around it, Loki and Thor and the lad 
Thialfi. It was a house, but a house most oddly shaped. The 
entrance was a long, wide hall that had no doorway. When 
they entered this hall they found five long and narrow cham- 
bers running o£f it. "It is an odd place, but it is the best shelter 
we can get," Loki said. "You and I, Thor, will take the two 
longest rooms, and the lad Thialfi can take one of the Httle 
rooms." 

They entered their chambers and they lay down to sleep. 
But from the mountain outside there came a noise that was 
like moaning forests and falling cataracts. The chamber where 
each one slept was shaken by the noise. Neither Thor nor 
Loki nor the lad Thialfi slept that night. 

In the morning they left the five-chambered house and turned 
their faces towards the mountain. It was not a mountain at 
all, but a Giant. He was lying on the ground when they saw 
him, but just then he rolled over and sat up. "Little men, 
little men," he shouted to them, "have you passed by a glove 
of mine on your way?" He stood up and looked all around 
him. "Ho, I see my glove now," he said. Thor and Loki and 



ODIN THE WANDERER iii 

the lad Thialfi stood still as the Giant came towards them. He 
leaned over and picked up the five-roomed shelter they had 
slept in. He put it on his hand. It was really his glove ! 

Thor gripped his hammer, and Loki and the lad Thialfi stood 
behind him. But the Giant seemed good-humoured enough. 
"Where might ye be bound for, little men?" said he. 

"To Utgard in Jotunheim," Thor replied boldly. 

"Oh, to that place," said the Giant. "Come, then, I shall 
be with ye so far. You can call me Skyrmir." 

"Can you give us breakfast?" said Thor. He spoke crossly, 
for he did not want it to appear that there was any reason to 
be afraid of the Giant. 

"I can give you breakfast," said Skyrniir, "but I don't want 
to stop to eat now. We'U si^. down as soon as I have an appetite. 
Come along now. Here is my wallet to carry. It has my 
provisions in it." , 

He gave Thor his wallet. Thor put it on his back and 
put Thialfi sitting upon it. On and on the Giant strode 
and Thor and Loki were barely able to keep up with him. 
It was midday before he showed any signs of halting to take 
breakfast. 

They came to an enormous tree. Under it Skyrmir sat down. 
"I'll sleep before I eat," he said, "but you can open my wallet, 
my little men, and make your meal out of it." Saying this, he 
stretched himself out, and in a few minutes Thor and Loki and 
the lad Thialfi heard the same sounds as kept them awake the 



112 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

night before, sounds that were like forests moaning and cataracts 
faUing. It was Skyrmir's snoring. 

Thor and Loki and the lad Thialfi were too hungry now to 
be disturbed by these tremendous noises. Thor tried to open the 
wallet, but he found it was not easy to undo the knots. Then 
Loki tried to open it. In spite of all Loki's cunning he could nx)t 
undo the knots. Then Thor took the wallet from him and tried 
to break the knots by main strength. Not even Thor's strength 
could break them. He threw the wallet down in his rage. 

The snoring of Skyrmir became louder and louder. Thor 
stood up in his rage. He grasped Miolnir and flimg it at the 
head of the sleeping Giant. 

The hammer struck him on the head. But Skjrmur only 
stirred in his sleep. "Did a leaf fall on my head?" he said. 

He turned round on the other side and went to sleep again. 
The hammer came back to Thor's hand. As soon as Skyrmir 
snored he flung it again, aiming at the Giant's forehead. It 
struck there. The Giant opened his eyes. "Has an acorn fallen 
on my forehead?" he said. 

Again he went to sleep. But now Thor, terribly roused, stood 
over his head with the hammer held in his hands. He struck 
him on the forehead. It was the greatest blow that Thor had 
ever dealt. 

"A bird is pecking at my forehead — there is no chance to 
sleep here," said Skyrmir, sitting up. "And you, little men, 
did you have breakfast yet? Toss over my wallet to me and I 



ODIN THE WANDERER 113 

shall give you some provision." The lad Thialfi brought him the 
wallet. Skyrmir opened it, took out his provisions, and gave a 
share to Thor and Loki and the lad Thialfi. Thor would not take 
provision from him, but Loki and the lad Thialfi took it and ate. 
When the meal was finished Skyrmir rose up and said, "Time 
for us to be going towards Utgard." 

As they went on their way Skyrmir talked to Loki, "I always 
feel very small when I go into Utgard," he said. "You see, I'm 
such a small and a weak f eUow and the folk who live there are 
so big and powerful. But you and your friends will be welcomed 
in Utgard. They will be sure to make little pets of you." 

And then he left them and they went into Utgard, the City of 
the Giants. Giants were going up and down in the streets. They 
were not so huge as Skyrmir would have them believe, Loki 
noticed. 

TGARD was the Asgard of the Giants. But in 
its buildings there was not a line of the beauty 
that there was in the palaces of the Gods, Glads- 
heim and Breidablik or Fensalir. Huge but shape- 
less the buildings arose, like mountains or icebergs. 
O beautiful Asgard with the dome above it of 
the deepest blue! Asgard with the clouds around it heaped 
up like mountains of diamonds! Asgard with its Rainbow 
Bridge and its gUttering gates! O beautiful Asgard, could it 
be indeed that these Giants would one day overthrow you? 
Thor and Loki with the lad Thialfi went to the palace of the 



114 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

King. The hammer that Thor gripped would, they knew, make 
them safe even there. They passed between rows of Giant 
guards and came to the King's seat. "We know you, Thor and 
Loki," said the Giant King, "and we know that Thor has come 
to Utgard to try his strength against the Giants. We shall have 
a contest to-morrow. To-day there are sports for our boys. 
If your young servant should like to try his swiftness against 
our youths, let him enter the race to-day." 

Now Thialfi was the best runner in Midgard and all the time 
he had been with them Loki and Thor had trained him in quick- 
ness. And so Thialfi was not fearful of racing against the Giants' 
youths. 

The King called on one named Hugi and placed him against 
Thialfi. The pair started together. Thialfi sped off. Loki and 
Thor watched the race anxiously, for they thought it would be 
well for them if they had a triumph over the dwellers in Utgard 
in the first contest. But they saw Hugi leave Thialfi behind. 
They saw the Giant youth reach the winning post, circle round 
it, and come back to the starting place before Thialfi had reached 
the end of the course. 

Thialfi, who did not know how it was that he had been beaten, 
asked that he be let run the race with Hugi again. The pair 
started off once more, and this time it did not seem to Thor and 
Loki that Hugi had left the starting place at all — he was back 
there almost as soon as the race had started. 

They came back from the racing ground to the palace. The 



ODIN THE WANDERER iij 

Giant King and his friends with Thor and Loki sat down to the 
supper table. "To-morrow," said the King, "we shall have our 
great contest when Asa Thor will show us his power. Have you 
of Asgard ever heard of one who would enter a contest in eating? 
We naight have a contest in eating at this supper board if we 
could get one who would match bimseK with Logi here. He can 
eat more than anyone in Jotunheim." 

" And I," said Loki, " can eat more than any two in Jotunheim. 
I will match myself against your Logi." 

" Good ! " said the Giant King. And aU the Giants present 
said, "Good ! This will be a sight worth seeing." 

Then they put scores of plates along one side of the table, 
each plate filled with meat. Loki began at one end and Logi 
began at the other. They started to eat, moving towards each 
other as each cleared a plate. Plate after plate was emptied, 
and Thor standing by with the Giants was amazed to see how 
much Loki ate. But Logi on the other side was leaving plate 
after plate emptied. At last the two stood together with scores 
of plates on each side of them. "He has not defeated me," 
cried Loki. "I have cleared as many plates as your champion, 
O King of the Giants." 

"But you have not cleared them so well," said the King. 

"Loki has eaten all the meat that was upon them," said Thor. 

"But Logi has eaten the bones with the meat," said the Giant 
King. "Look and see if it be not so." 

Thor went to the plates. Where Loki had eaten, the bones 



ii6 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

were left on the plates. Where Logi had eaten, nothing was 
left : bones as well as meat were consumed, and all the plates 
were left bare. • 

"We are beaten," said Thor to Loki. 

"To-morrow, Thor," said Loki, "you must show all your 
strength or the Giants will cease to dread the might of the Dwell- 
ers in Asgard." 

"Be not afraid," said Thor. "No one in Jotunheim will 
triumph over me." 

HE next day Thor and Loki came into, the great 
hall of Utgard. The Giant King was there with 
a throng of his friends. Thor marched into the 
hall with Miolnir, his great hammer, in his hands. 
"Our young men have been drinking out of 
this horn," said the King, "and they want to 
know if you, Asa Thor, would drink out of it a morning 
draught. But I must tell you that they think that no one of 
the ^sir could empty the horn at one draught." 

"Give it to me," said Thor. "There is no horn you can hand 
me that I cannot empty at a draught." 

A great horn, brimmed and flowing, was brought over to him. 
Handing Miolnir to Loki and bidding him stand so that he might 
keep the hammer in sight, Thor raised the horn to his mouth. 
He drank and drank. He felt sure there was not a drop left 
in the horn as he laid it on the ground. "There," he gasped, 
"your Giant horn is drained." 




ODIN THE WANDERER 117 

The Giants looked within the horn and laughed. "Drained, 
Asa Thor!" said the Giant King. "Look into the horn again. 
You have hardly drunk below the brim." 

And Thor looked into it and saw that the horn was not half 
emptied. In a mighty rage he lifted it to his lips again. He 
drank and drank and drank. Then, satisfied that he had emptied 
it to the bottom, he left the horn on the ground and walked over 
to the other side of the hall. 

"Thor thinks he has drained the horn," said one of the Giants, 
lifting it up. "But see, friends, what remains in it." 

Thor strode back and looked again into the horn. It was 
still half fiUed. He turned round to see that aU the Giants were 
laughing at him. 

"Asa Thor, Asa Thor," said the Giant King, "we know hot 
how you are going to deal with us in the next feat, but you cer- 
tainly are not able to drink against the Giants." 

Said Thor: "I can lift up and set down any being in your 
haU." 

As he said this a great iron-coloured cat bounded into the hall 
and stood before Thor, her back arched and her fur bristling. 

"Then lift the cat off the ground," said the Giant King. 

Thor strode to the cat,. determined to lift her up and fling her 
amongst the mocking Giants. He put his hands to the cat, 
but he could not raise her. Up, up went Thor's arms, up, up, 
as high as they could go. The cat's arched back went up to 
the roof, but her feet were never taken off the ground. And as 



ii8 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

he heaved and heaved with all his might he heard the laughter 
of the Giants all round him. 

He turned away, his eyes flaming with anger. "I am not 
wont to try to lift cats," he said. "Bring me one to wrestle 
with, and I swear you shall see me overthrow him." 

"Here is one for you to wrestle with, Asa Thor," said the 
King. Thor looked round and saw an old woman hobbling 
towards him. She was blear-eyed and toothless. "This is Ellie, 
my ancient nurse," said the Giant King. "She is the one we 
would have you wrestle with." 

"Thor does not wrestle with old women. I will lay my hands 
on your tallest Giants instead." 

"Ellie has come where you are," said the Giant King. "Now 
it is she who will lay hands upon you." 

The old woman hobbled towards Thor, her eyes gleaming 
under her falling fringes of grey hair. Thor stood, unable to 
move as the hag came towards him. She laid her hands upon 
his arms. Her feet began to trip at his. He tried to cast her 
from him. Then he found that her feet and her hands were as 
strong against his as bands and stakes of iron. 

Then began a wrestling match in earnest between Thor and 
the ancient crone EUie. Round and round the hall they wrestled, 
and Thor was not able to bend the old woman backward nor 
sideways. Instead he became less and less able under her terrible 
grasp. She forced him down, down, and at last he could only 
save himself from being left prone on the ground by throwing 



ODIN THE WANDERER 119 

himself down on one knee and holding the hag by the shoulders. 
She tried to force him down on the ground, but she could not do 
that. Then she broke from him, hobbled to the door and went 
out of the hall. 

Thor rose up and took the hammer from Loki's hands. With- 
out a word he went out of the hall and along the ways and towards 
the gate of the Giants' City. He spoke no word to Loki nor to 
the lad Thialfi who went with him for the seven weeks that they 
journeyed througji jQtunheim. 



I20 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 




^0<D6^oRaDd"£o1it "Be- 
roofed &bR^ S^eSianf 

OKI told another tale about Thor — about Thor 
and Thrym, a stupid Giant who had cunning 
streaks in him. Loki and Thor had been in this 
Giant's house. He had made a feast for them 
and Thor had been unwatchful. 
Then when they were far from Jotunheim 
Thor missed Miohiir, missed the hammer that was the de- 
fence of Asgard and the help of the Gods. He could not re- 
member how or where he had mislaid it. Loki's thoughts went 
towards Thrym, that stupid Giant who yet had cunning streaks 




ODIN THE WANDERER 121 

in him. Thor, who had lost the hammer that he had sworn never 
to let out of his sight, did not know what to do. 

But Loki thought it would be worth while to see if Thrym 
knew anything about it. He went first to Asgard. He hurried 
across the Rainbow Bridge and passed Heimdall without speak- 
ing to him. To none of the Dwellers in Asgard whom he met 
did he dare relate the tidings of Thor's loss. He spoke to none 
until he came to Frigga's palace. 

To Frigga he said, " You must lend me your falcon dress until I 
fly to Thrym's dwelling and find out if he knows where Miolnir is." 

"If every feather was silver I would give it to you to go on 
such an errand," Frigga said. 

So Loki put on the falcon dress and flew to Jotunheim and 
came near Thrym's dwelling. He found the Giant upon a hill- 
side putting golden and silver collars upon the necks of his 
hounds. Loki in the plumage of a falcon perched on the rock 
above him, watching the giant with falcon eyes. 

And while he was there he heard the Giant speak boastful 
words. "I put collars of silver and gold on you now, my hounds," 
said he, "but soon we Giants will have the gold of Asgard to 
deck our hounds and our steeds, yea, even the necklace of Freya 
to put upon you, the best of my hounds. For Miolnir, the defence 
of Asgard, is in Thr3Tn's holding." 

Then Loki spoke to him. "Yea, we know that Miolnir is 
in thy possession, O Thrym," said he, "but know thou that 
the eyes of the watchful Gods are upon thee." 



122 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"Ha, Loki, Shape-changer," said Thrym, "you are there! 
But all your watching will not help you to find Miolnir. I have 
buried Thor's hammer eight miles deep in the earth. Find it 
if you can. It is below the caves of the Dwarfs." 

"It is useless for us to search for Thor's hammer," said Loki ; 
"eh, Thrym?" 

"It is useless for you to search for it," said the Giant sulkily. 

"But what a recompense you would gain if you restored Thor's 
hammer to the Dwellers in Asgard," Loki said. 

"No, cunning Loki, I will never restore it, not for any recom- 
pense," said Thrym. ^ 

"Yet bethink thee, Thrym," said Loki. "Is there nought in 
Asgard you would like to own? No treasure, no possession? 
Odin's ring or Frey's ship, Skidbladnir?" 

"No, no," said Thrym. "Only one thing could the Dwellers 
in Asgard offer me that I would take in exchange for Miolnir, 
Thor's hammer." 

"And what would that be, Thrym?" said Loki, flying towards 
him. 

" She whom many Giants have striven to gain — Freya, for 
my wife," said Thrym. » 

Loki watched Thrjon for long with his falcon eyes. He saw 
that the Giant would not alter his demand. "I will tell the 
Dwellers in Asgard of your demand," he said at last, and he 
flew away. 

Loki knew that the Dwellers in Asgard would never let Freya 



ODIN THE WANDERER 123 

be taken from them to become the wife of Thrym, the stupidest 
of the Giants. He flew back. 

By this time all the Dwellers in Asgard had heard of the loss 
of Miolnir, the help of the Gods. Heimdall shouted to him as 
he crossed the Rainbow Bridge to ask what tidings he brought 
back. But Loki did not stop to speak to the Warden of the 
Bridge but went straight to the hall where the Gods sat in Council. 

To the Msii and the Vanir he told Thrym's demand. None 
would agree to let the beautiful Freya go live in Jotunheim as 
a wife to the stupidest of the Giants. All in the Council were 
cast down. The Gods would never again be able to help mortal 
men, for now that Miolnir was in the Giants' hands all their 
strength would have to be used in the defence of Asgard. 

So they sat in the Council with looks downcast. But cunning 
Loki said, "I have thought of a trick that may win back the 
hammer from stupid Thrym. Let us pretend to send Freya to 
Jotunheim as a bride for him. But let one of the Gods go in 
Freya's veil and dress." 

"Which of the Gods would bring himself to do so shameful 
a thing?" said those in the Council. 

"Oh, he who lost the hammer, Thor, should be prepared to 
do as much to win it back," said Loki. 

"Thor, Thor ! Let Thor win back the hammer from Thrym 
by Loki's trick," said the .^sir and the Vanir. They left it to 
Loki to arrange how Thor should go to Jotunheim as a bride for 
Thrym, 



124 CHILDREN OF ODIN 



, a [OKI left the Council of the Gods and came to 

V where he had left Thor, "There is but one way 

I I to win the hammer back, Thor," he said, " and 

■ 1 the Gods in Council have decreed that you shall 

« ■ •■ take it." 

"What is the way?" said Thor. "But no 
matter what it is, tell me of it and I shall do as thou dost 
say." 

"Then," said laughing Loki, "I am to take you to Jotunheim 
as a bride for Thrym. Thou art to go in bridal dress and veil, 
in Freya's veil and bridal dress." 

"What! I dress in woman's garb?" shouted Thor. 
"Yea, Thor, and wear a veil over your head and a garland of 
flowers upon it." 
"I — I wear a garland of flowers?" 

"And rings upon thy fingers. And a bunch of housekeeper's 
keys in thy girdle." 

"Cease thy mockery, Loki," said Thor roughly, "or I shall 
shake thee." 

"It is no mockery. Thou wilt have to do this to win Miolnir 
back for the defence of Asgard. Thrym will take no other recom- 
pense than Freya. I would mock him by bringing thee to him 
in Freya's veil and dress. When thou art in his hall and he asks 
thee to join hands with him, say thou wilt not until he puts 
Miolnir into thy hands. Then when thy mighty hammer is in 
thy holding thou canst deal with him and with all in his haU. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 125 

And I shall be with thee as thy bridesmaid! O sweet, sweet 
maiden Thor!" 

"Loki," said Thor, "thou didst devise all this to mock me. I 
in a bridal dress ! I with a bride's veil upon me ! The Dwellers 
in Asgard will never cease to laugh at me." 

"Yea," said Loki, "but there will never be laughter again 
in Asgard unless thou art able to bring back the hammer that 
thine unwatchfulness lost." 

"True," said Thor unhappily, "and is this, thinkst thou, 
Loki, the only way to win back Miohiir from Thrym?" 
"It is the only way, O Thor," said the cuiming Loki. 

O Thor and Loki set out for Jotunheim and the 
dwelling of Thrym. A messenger had gone before 
them to tell Thrym that Freya was coming with 
her bridesmaid ; that the wedding-feast was to be 
prepared and the guests gathered and that Miolnir 
was to be at hand so that it might be given over 
to the Dwellers in Asgard. Thrjon and his Giant mother 
hastened to have everything in readiness. 

Thor and Loki came to the Giant's house in the dress of a 
bride and a bridesmaid. A veil was over Thor's head hiding 
his beard and his fierce eyes. A red-embroidered robe he wore 
and at his side hung a girdle of housekeeper's keys. Loki was 
veiled, too. The hall of Thrym's great house was swept and 
garnished and great tables were laid for the feast. And Thrym's 
mother was going from one guest to another, vaunting that her 



126 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

son was getting one of the beauteous Dwellers in Asgard for his 
bride, Freya, whom so many of the Giants had tried to win. 

When Thor and Loki stepped across the threshold Thrym 
went to welcome them. He wanted to raise the veil of his bride 
and give her a kiss. Loki quickly laid his hand on the Giant's 
shoulder. 

"Forbear," he whispered. "Do not raise her veil. We Dwell- 
ers in Asgard are reserved and bashful. Freya would be much 
offended to be kissed before this company." 

"Aye, aye," said Thrym's old mother. "Do not raise thy 
bride's veil, son. These Dwellers in Asgard are more refined in 
their ways than we, the Giants." Then the old woman took Thor 
by the hand and led him to the table. 

The size and the girth of the bride did not surprise the huge 
Giants who were in the wedding company. They stared at Thor 
and Loki, but they could see nothing of their faces and little of 
their forms because of their veils. 

Thor sat at the table with Thrym on one side of him and 
Loki on the other. Then the feast began. Thor, not noticing 
that what he did was unbecoming to a refined maiden, ate eight 
salmon right away. Loki nudged him and pressed his foot, but 
he did not heed Loki. After the salmon he ate a whole ox. 

"These maids of Asgard," said the Giants to each other, 
"they may be refined, as Thrym's mother says, but their 
appetites are lusty enough." 

"No wonder she eats, poor thing," said Loki to Thrym. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 127 

"It is eight days since we left Asgard. And Freya never ate 
upon the way, so anxious was she to see Thrym and to come to 
his house." 

"Poor darling, poor darling," said the Giant. "What she 
has eaten is little after all." 

Thor nodded his head towards the mead vat. Thrym ordered 
his servants to bring a measure to his bride. The servants were 
kept coming with measures to Thor. While the Giants watched, 
and while Loki nudged and nodded, he drank three barrels 
of mead. 

"Oh," said the Giants to Thrym's mother, "we are not so 
sorry that we failed to win a bride from Asgard." 

And now a piece of the veil slipped aside and Thor's eyes were 
seen for an instant. "Oh, how does it come that Freya has such 
glaring eyes?" said Thrym. 

"Poor thing, poor thing," said Loki, "no wonder her eyes are 
glaring and staring. She has not slept for eight nights, so anxious 
was she to come to you and to your house, Thrym. But now 
the time has come for you to join hands with your bride. First, 
put into her hands the hammer Miohiir that she may know the 
great recompense that the Giants have given for her coming." 

Then Thrym, the stupidest of the Giants, rose up and brought 
Miolnir, the defence of Asgard, into the feasting hall. Thor 
could hardly restrain himself from springing up and seizing it 
from the Giant. But Loki was able to keep him still. Thrym 
brought over the hammer and put the handle into the hands of 



128 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

her whom he thought was his bride. Thor's haiids closed on his 
hammer. Instantly he stood up. The veil fell off him. His 
countenance and his blazing eyes were seen by all. He struck 
one blow on the wall of the house. Down it crashed. Then Thor 
went striding out of the ruin with Loki beside him, while within 
the Giants bellowed as the roof and walls fell down on them. 
And so was Miolnir, the defence of Asgard, lost and won back. 



uui i 



ODIN THE WANDERER 



129 




^Riumpned 



HE time between mid-day and evening wore on 
while the ^sir and the Vanir gathered for the 
feast in old ^Egir's hall listened to the stories that 
Loki told in mockery of Thor. The night came, 
but no banquet was made ready for the Dwellers 
in Asgard. They called to ^gir's two imder- 
servants, Fimaffenger and Elder, and they bade them bring them 
a supper. Slight was what they got, but they went to bed say- 




130 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

ing, " Great must be the preparations that old iEgir is making 
to feast us to-morrow." 

The morrow came and the mid-day of the morrow, and still 
the Dwellers in Asgard saw no preparations being made for the 
banquet. Then Frey rose up and went to seek old ^Egir, the 
Giant King of the Sea. He found him sitting with bowed head 
in his inner hall. "Ho, ^gir," he said, "what of the banquet 
that you have offered to the Dwellers in Asgard ? " 

Old ^gir mumbled and pulled at his beard. At last he looked 
his guest in the face and told why the banquet was not being 
made ready. The mead for the feast was not yet brewed. And 
there was little chance of being able to brew mead that would 
do for all, for ^gir's haU was lacking a mead kettle that would 
contain enough. 

When the ^sir and the Vanir heard this they were sorely 
disappointed. Who now, outside of Asgard, would give them a 
feast? iEgir was the only one of the Giants who was friendly 
to them, and ^gir could not give them fuU entertainment. 

Then a Giant youth who was there spoke up and said, "My 
kinsman, the Giant Hrymer, has a mead kettle that is a mile 
wide. If we could bring Hrymer's kettle here, what a feast we 
might have!" 

" One of us can go for that kettle," Frey said. 

"Ah, but Hrymer's dwelling is beyond the deepest forest and 
behind the highest mountain," the Giant youth said, "and 
Hrymer himself is a rough and a churlish one to call on." 



ODIN THE WANDERER 131 

"Still, one of us should go," Frey said. 

"I will go to Hrymer's dwelling," said Thor, standing up. "I 
will go to Hrymer's dwelling and get the mile-wide kettle from 
him by force or cunning." He had been sitting subdued under 
the mocking tales that Loki told of him and he was pleased 
with this chance to make his prowess plain to the ^sir and the 
Vanir. He buckled on the belt that doubled his strength. 
He drew on the iron gloves that enabled him to grasp Miolnir. 
He took his hammer in his hands, and he signed to the Giant 
youth to come with him and be his guide. 

The iEsir and the Vanir applauded Thor as he stepped out of 
old iEgir's hall. But Loki, mischievous Loki, threw a gibe 
after him. " Do not let the hammer out of your hands this time, 
bride of Thrym," he shouted. 

Thor, with the Giant youth to guide him, went through the 
deepest forest and over the highest mountain. He came at last 
to the Giant's dwelling. On a hillock before Hr3Tner's house was 
a dreadful warden ; a Giant crone she was, with heads a-many 
growing out of her shoulders. She was squatting down on her 
ankles, and her heads, growing in bunches, were looking in 
different directions. As Thor and the Giant youth came near 
screams and yelps came from all her heads. Thor grasped his 
hammer and would have flung it at her if a Giant woman, 
making a sign of peace, had not come to the door of the 
dwelling. The youthful Giant who was with Thor greeted her 
as his mother. 



132 CHD^DREN OF ODIN 

"Son, come within," said she, "and you may bring your fellow 
farer with you." 

The Giant crone — she was Hrymer's grandmother — kept 
up her screaming and yelping. But Thor went past her and into 
the Giant's dwelling. 

When she saw that it was one of the Dwellers in Asgard who 
had come with her son the Giant woman grew fearful for them 
both. "Hrymer," she said, "will be in a rage to find one of the 
^sir under his roof. He will strive to slay you." 

"It is not likely he will succeed," Thor said, grasping Miolnir, 
the hammer that all the Giant race knew of and dreaded. 

"Hide from him," said the Giant woman. "He may injure 
my son in his rage to find you here." 

"I am not wont to hide from the Giants," Thor said. 

"Hide only for a little while ! Hide until Hrymer has eaten," 
the Giant woman pleaded. "He comes back from the chase in a 
stormy temper. After he has eaten he is easier to deal with. 
Hide until he has finished supper." 

Thor at last agreed to do this. He and the Giant youth hid 
behind a pillar in the hall. They were barely hidden when they 
heard the clatter of the Giant's steps as he came through the 
court-yard. He came to the door. His beard was like a frozen 
forest around his mouth. And he dragged along with him a wild 
buU that he had captured in the chase. So proud was he of his 
capture that he dragged it into the hall. 

"I have taken alive," he shouted, "the bull with the mightiest 



^ODIN THE WANDERER 133 

head and boms. 'Heaven-breaking' this bull is tailed. No 
Giant but me could capture it." He tied the bull to the post 
of the door and then his eyes went towards the pillar behind which 
Thor and the Giant youth were hiding. _The pillar split up its 
whole length at that look from Hrymer's eyes. He came nearer. 
The pillar of stone broke across. It fell with the cross-beam it 
supported and all the kettles and cauldrons that were hanging 
on the beam came down with a terrible rattle. 

Then Thor stepped out and faced the wrathful Giant. "It 
is I who am here, friend Hrymer," he said, his hands resting on 
his hammer. 

Then Hrymer, who knew Thor and knew the force of Thor's 
hammer, drew back. " Now that you are in my house, Asa Thor," 
he said, "I will not quarrel with you. Make supper ready for Asa 
Thor and your son and myself," said he to the Giant woman. 

A plentiful supper was spread and Hrymer and Thor and the 
Giant youth sat down to three whole roast oxen. Thor ate the 
whole of one ox. Hrymer, who had eaten nearly two himself, 
leaving only small cuts for his wife and his youthful kinsman, 
grumbled at Thor's appetite. "You'll clear my fields, Asa Thor," 
he said, "if you stay long with me." 

"Do not grumble, Hrymer," Thor said. "To-morrow I'll go 
fishing and I'll bring you back the weight of what I ate." 

"Then instead of hunting I'll go fishing with you to-morrow, 
Asa Thor," said Hrymer. "And don't be frightened if I take you 
out on a rough sea." 



134 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Hrymer was first out of bed the next morning. He came with 
the pole and the ropes in his hand to where Thor was sleeping. 
"Time to start earning your meal, Asa TJior," said he. 

Thor got out of bed, and when they were both in the court-yard 
the Giant said, "You'll have to provide a bait for yourself. 
Mind that you take a bait large enough. It is not where the 
little fishes are, the place where I'm going to take you. If you 
never saw monsters before you'll see them now. I'm glad, 
Asa Thor, that you spoke of going fishing." 

"Will this bait be big enough?" said Thor, laying his hands 
on the horns of the bull that Hrymer had captured and brought 
home, the bull with the mighty head of horns that was caUed 
" Heaven-breaking." "Will this bait be big enough, do you 
think?" 

"Yes, if you're big enough to handle it," said the Giant. 

Thor said nothing, but he struck the bull full in the middle 
of the forehead with his fist. The great creature fell down dead. 
Thor then twisted the bull's head off. "I have my bait and I'm 
ready to go with you, Hrymer," he said. 

Hrymer had turned away to hide the rage he was in at seeing 
Thor do such a feat. He walked down to the boat without 
speaking. "You may row for the first few strokes," said Hrymer, 
when they were in the boat, "but when we come to where the 
ocean is rough, why I'll take the oars from you." 

Without saying a word Thor made a few strokes that took 
the boat out into the middle of the ocean. Hrymer was in a rage 



ODIN THE WANDERER iss 

to think that he could not show himself greater than Thor. He 
let out his line and began to fish. Soon he felt something huge on 
his hook. The boat rocked and rocked till Thor steadied it. 
Then Hrymer drew into the boat the largest whale that was in 
these seas. 

" Good fishing," said Thor, as he put his own bait on the line. 

"It's something for you to tell the ^sir," said Hrymer. "I 
thought as you were here I'd show you something bigger than 
salmon-fishing." 

"I'll try my luck now," said Thor. 

He threw out a line that had at the end of it the mighty- 
horned head of the great bull. Down, down the head went. 
It passed where the whales swim, and the whales were afraid 
to gulp at the mighty horns. Down, down it went till it came 
near where the monster serpent that coils itself round the 
world abides. It reared its head up from its serpent coils as 
Thor's bait came down through the depths of the ocean. It 
gulped at the head and drew it into its gullet. There the great 
hook stuck. Terribly surprised was the serpent monster. It 
lashed the ocean into a fury. But stiU the hook stayed. Then it 
strove to draw down to the depths of the ocean the boat of those 
who had hooked it. Thor put his legs across the boat and 
stretched them till they touched the bottom bed of the ocean. 
On the bottom bed of the ocean Thor stood and he pulled and he 
pulled on his line. The serpent monster lashed the ocean into 
fiercer and fiercer storms and all the world's ships were hurled 



136 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

against each other and wrecked and tossed. But it had to loosen 
coil after coil of the coils it makes around the world. Thor pulled 
and pulled. Then the terrible head of the serpent monster 
appeared above the waters. It reared over the boat that Hrymer 
sat in and that Thor straddled across. Thor dropped the line 
and took up Miolnir, his mighty hammer. He raised it to strike 
the head of the serpent monster whose coils go round the world. 
But Hrymer would not have that happen. Rather than have 
Thor pass him by such a feat he cut the line, and the head of the 
serpent monster sank back into the sea. Thor's hammer was 
raised. He hurled it, hurled that hammer that always came back 
to his hand. It followed the sinking head through fathom after 
fathom of the ocean depth. It struck the serpent monster a 
blow, but not such a deadly blow as would have been struck if 
the water had not come between. A bellow of pain came up 
from the depths of the ocean, such a bellow of pain that all in 
Jotunheim were affrighted. 

"This surely is something to tell the ^sir of," said Thor, 
"something to make them forget Loki's mockeries." 

Without speaking Hrymer turned the boat and rowed towards 
the shore, dragging the whale in the wake. He was in such a rage 
to think that one of the ^sir had done a feat surpassing his 
that he would not speak. At supper, too, he remained silent, but 
Thor talked for two, boasting loudly of his triumph over the 
monster serpent. 

"No doubt you think yourself very powerful, Asa Thor," 



ODIN THE WANDERER 137 

Hrymer said at last. "Well, do you think you are powerful 
enough to break the cup that is before you?" 

Thor took up the cup and with a laugh he hurled it against the 
stone pillar of the house. The cup fell down on the floor without 
a crack or a dint in it. But the pillar was shattered with the 
blow. 

The Giant laughed. "So feeble are the folk of Asgard!" he 
said. 

Thor took up the cup again and flung it with greater force 
against the stone pillar. And again the cup fell to the ground 
without a crack or a dint. 

Then he heard the woman who was the mother of the Giant 
youth sing softly, as she plied her wheel behind him : 

Not at the pillar of the stead, 
But at Hrymer's massy head : 
When you next the goblet throw, 
Let his head receive the blow. 

Thor took the cup up again. He flung it, not at the pillar this 
time, but at Hrymer's head. It struck the Giant full on the fore- 
head and fell down on the floor in pieces. And Hrjmier's head 
was left without a dint or a crack. 

"Ha, so you can break a cup, but can you lift up my mile- 
wide kettle?" cried the Giant. 

"Show me where your mile-wide kettle is and I shall try to 
lift it," cried Thor. 



138 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

The Giant took up the flooring and showed him the mile- 
wide kettle down in the cellar. Thor stooped down and took the 
kettle by the Brim. He lifted it slowly as if with a mighty effort. 

"You can lift, but can you carry it?" said the Giant. 

"I will try to do that," said Thor. He lifted the kettle up and 
placed it on his head. He strode to the door and out of the house 
before the Giant could lay hands on him. Then when he was 
outside he started to run. He was across the mountain before 
he looked behind him. He heard a yelping and a screaming 
and he saw the Giant crone with the bunch of heads running, 
running after him. Up hill and down dale Thor raced, the mile- 
wide kettle on his head and the Giant crone in chase of him. 
Through the deep forest he ran and over the high mountain, 
but still Bunch-of-Heads kept him in chase. But at last, jimiping 
over a lake, she fell in and Thor was free of his pursuer. 

And so back to the ^sir and the Vanir Thor came in triumph, 
carrying on his head the mile-wide kettle. And those of the .^Esir 
and the Vanir who had laughed most at Loki's mockeries rose 
up and cheered for him as he came in. The mead was brewed, 
the feast was spread, and the greatest banquet that ever the 
Kings of the Giants gave to the Dwellers in Asgard was eaten in 
gladness. 

A strange and silent figure sat at the banquet. It was the 
figure of a Giant and no one knew who he was nor where he had 
come from. But when the banquet was ended Odin, the Eldest 
of the Gods, turned towards this figure and said, "O Skyrmit, 



ODIN. THE WANDERER 139 

Giant King of Utgard, rise up now and tell Thor of all you prac- 
tised upon him when he and Loki came to your City." 

Then the stranger at the banquet stood up, and Thor and Loki 
saw he was the Giant King in whose haUs they had had the 
contests. Skyrmir turned towards them and said : 

"O Thor and O Loki, I will reveal to you now the deceits I 
practised on you both. It was I whom ye met on the moorland 
on the day before ye came into Utgard. I gave you my name as 
Skyrmir and I did all I might do to prevent your entering om: 
City, for the Giants dreaded a contest of strength with Asa 
Thor. Now hear me, O Thor. The wallet I gave for you to take 
provisions out of was tied with magic knots. No one could undo 
them by strength or cleverness. And while you were striving 
to undo them I placed a mountain of rock between myself and 
you. The hammer blows, which as you thought struck me, 
struck the mountain and made great clefts and gaps in it. When 
I knew the strength of your tremendous blows I was more and 
more in dread of your coming into our City. 

"I saw you would have to be deceived by magic. Your lad 
Thialfi was the one whom I first deceived. For it was not a 
Giant youth who raced against him, but Thought itself. And 
even you, Loki, I deceived. For when you tried to make your- 
self out the greatest of eaters I pitted against you, not a Giant, 
but Fire that devours everything. 

"You, Thor, were deceived in aU the contests. After you had 
taken the drinking horn in your hands we were all affrighted 



140 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

to see how much you were able to gulp down. For the end of 
that horn was in the sea, and iEgir, who is here, can tell you that 
after you had drunk from it, the level of the sea went down. 

"The cat whom you strove to lift was Nidhogg, the dragon 
that gnaws at the roots of Ygdrassil, the Tree of Trees. Truly 
we were terrified when we saw that you made Nidhogg budge. 
When you made the back of the cat reach the roof of our palace 
we said to ourselves, 'Thor is the mightiest of all the beings we 
have known.' 

"Lastly you strove with the hag Ellie. Her strength seemed 
marvellous to you, and you thought yourself disgraced because 
you could not throw her. But know, Thor, that EUie whom you 
wrestled with was Old Age herself. We were terrified again to 
see that she who can overthrow all was not able to force you 
prone upon the ground." 

So Skyrmir spoke and then left the hall. And once more the 
/Esir and the Vanir stood up and cheered for Thor, the strongest 
of all who guarded Asgard. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 



141 




©f^eDcoaRf s^oaRd, and 
0>eQiRse tfjcrf if ^Rou0i 



low old ^gir's feast was over and all the ^sir 

and the Vanir made ready for their return to 

Asgard. Two only went on another way — Odin, 

the Eldest of the Gods, and Loki the Mischievous. 

Loki and Odin laid aside all that they had kept 

of the divine power and the divine strength. 

They were going into the World of Men, and they would 

be as men merely. Together they went through Midgard, 



142 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Jninglihg with men of all sorts, Mhgs and farmers, outlaws and 
true men, warriors and householders, thralls and councillors, 
Courteous men and men who were ill-maanered. One day they 
came to the bank of a mighty river and there they rested, listening 
to the beat of iron upon iron in a place near by. 
' Presently, on a rock in the middle of the river, they saw an 
btter come. The otter went into the water and came back to the 
irock with a catch of salmon. He devoured it there. Then Odii^ 
saw Loki do a senseless and an evil thing. Taking up a great 
stone he flung it at the otter. The stone struck the beast on 
the skull and knocked him over dead. j 

"Loki, Loki, why hast thou done a thing so senseless and so 
evil?" Odin said. Loki only laughed. He swam across the water 
and came back with the creature of the river. "Why didst thou 
take the life of the beast ? " Odin said. 

"The mischief in me made me do it," said Loki. He 
drew out his knife and ripping the otter up he began to flay 
him. When the skin was off the beast he folded it up and 
stuck it in his belt. Then Odin and he left that place by 
the river. 

They came to a house with two smithies beside it, and from 
the smithies came the sound of iron beating upon iron. They 
went within the house and they asked that they might eat there 
and rest themselves. 

An old man who was cooking fish over a fire pointed out a 
bench to them. "Rest there," said he, "and \yhen the fish. is 



ODIN THE WANDERER 143 

cooked I will give you something good to eat. My son is a fine 
fisher and he brings me salmon of the best." 

Odin and Loki sat on the bench and the old man went on with 
his cooking. "My name is Hreidmar," he said, "and I have two 
sons who work in the smithies without. I have a third son also. 
It is he who does the fishing for us. And who may ye be, O 
wayfaring men ? " 

Loki and Odin gave names to Hreidmar that were not the 
names by which they were known in Asgard or on Midgard. 
Hreidmar served fish to them and they ate. "And what adven- 
tures have ye met upon your travels?" Hreidmar asked. "Few 
folk come this way to tell me of happenings." 

" I killed an otter with a cast of a stone," Loki said with a laugh. 

"You killed an otter!" Hreidmar cried. "Where did you 
kiUone?" 

"Where 1 killed him is of no import to you, old man," said 
Loki. "His skin is a good one, however. I have it at my belt." 

Hreidmar snatched the skin out of Loki's belt. As soon as he 
held the skin before his eyes he shrieked out, "Fafnir, Regin, my 
sons, come here and bring the thralls of your smithies. Come, 
come, come!" 

"W^y dost thou make such an outcry, old man?" said Odin. 

"Ye have slain my son Otter," shrieked the old man. "This 
in my hands is the skin of my son." 

As Hreidmar said this two young men bearing the fore- 
hammers of the smithies came in followed by the thralls. " Strike 



144 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

these men dead with your forehammers, Fafnir, O Regin," 
their father cried. "Otter, who used to stay in the river, and 
whom I changed by enchantment into a river beast that he might 
fish for me, has been slain by these men." 

"Peace," said Odin. "We have slain thy son, it would seem, 
but it was unwittingly that we did the deed. We will give a 
recompense for the death of thy son." 

"What recompense will ye give?" said Hreidmar, looking at 
Odin with eyes that were small and sharp. 

Then did Odin, the Eldest of the Gods, say a word that was 
unworthy of his wisdom and his power. He might have said, 
"I will bring thee a draught of Mimir's well water as a rec- 
ompense for thy son's death." But instead of thinking of 
wisdom, Odin All-Father thought of gold. " Set a price on the 
Ufe of thy son and we will pay that price in gold," he said. 

"Maybe ye are great kings travelUng through the world," 
Hreidmar said. "If ye are ye will have to find gold that 
will cover every hair upon the skin of him whom ye have 
killed." 

Then did Odin, his mind being fixed upon the gold, think upon 
a certain treasure, a treasure that was guarded by a Dwarf. 
No other treasure in the nine worlds would be great enough 
to make the recompense that Hreidmar claimed. He thought 
upon this treasure and he thought on how it might be taken and 
yet he was ashamed of his thought. 

"Dost thou, Loki, know of Andvari's hoard?" he said. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 145 

"I know of it," said Loki sharply, "and I know where it is 
hidden. Wilt thou, Odin, win leave for me to fetch Andvari's 
hoard?" 

Odin spoke to Hreidmar. "I will stay with thee as a hostage," 
he said, "if thou wilt let this one go to fetch a treasure that 
will cover the otter's skin hair by hair." 

"I will let this be done," said old Hreidmar with the sharp 
and cunning eyes. " Go now," said he to Loki. Then Loki went 
from the house. 

NDVARI was a Dwarf who, in the early days, 
had gained for himself the greatest treasure in 
the nine worlds. So that he might guard this 
treasure unceasingly he changed himself into a 
fish — into a pike — and he swam in the water 
before the cave where the hoard was hidden. 
AU in Asgard knew of the Dwarf and of the hoard he guarded. 
And there was a thought amongst all that this hoard was not 
to be meddled with and that some evil was joined to it. But 
now Odin had given the word that it was to be taken from the 
Dwarf. Loki set out for Andvari's cave rejoicingly. He came 
to the pool before the cave and he watched for a sight of Andvari. 
Soon he saw the pike swimming cautiously before the cave. 

He would have to catch the pike and hold him till the treasure 
was given for ransom. As he watched the pike became aware of 
him. Suddenly he flung himself forward in the water and went 
with speed down the stream. 



146 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Not with his hiaiids and not with any hook and line could Loki 
catch that pike. How, then, could he take him ? Only with a net 
that was woven by magic. Then Loki thought of where he might 
get such a net. 

Ran, the wife of old ^Egir, the Giant Eling of the Sea, had a net 
that was woven by magic: In it she took all that was wreckSd on 
the sea. Loki thought of Ran's net and he turned and went 
back to ^gir's haU to ask for the Queen. But Ran was seldom 
in her husband's dwelling. She was now down by the rocks of 
the sea. 

He found Ran, the cold Queen, standing in the flow of the sea, 
drawing out of the depths with the net that she held in her 
hands every piece of treasure that was washed that way. She 
had made a heap of the things she had drawn out of the sea, 
corals and amber, and bits of gold and silver, but still she was 
pl)dng her net greedily. 

"Thou knowst me, ^gir's wife," said Loki to her. 

"I know thee, Loki," said Queen Ran. 

"Lend me thy net," said Loki. 

"That I will not do," said Queen Ran. 

"Lend me thy net that I may catch Andvari the Dwarf who 
boasts that he has a greater treasure than ever thou wilt take out 
of the sea," said Loki. 

The cold Queen of the sea ceased plying her net. She looked at 
Loki steadily. Yes, if he were going to catch Andvari she would 
lend her net to him. She hated all the Dwarfs because this one 



ODIN THE WANDERER 147 

and that one had told her they had greater treasures than 
ever she would be mistress of. But especially she hated Andvari, 
the Dwarf who had the greatest treasure in the nine worlds. 

"There is nothing more to gather here," she said, "and if thou 
wilt swear to bring me back my net by to-morrow I shall lend it 
to you." 

"I swear by the sparks of Muspelheim that I will bring thy 
net back to thee by to-morrow, O Queen of ^gir," Loki cried. 
Then Ran put into his hands the Magic Net. Back then he went 
to where the Dwarf, transformed, was guarding his wondrous 
hoard. 

^r-y^ lARK was the pool in which Andvari floated as 

t^M ^ a pike ; dark it was, but to him it was all golden 

I ■ with the Ught of his wondrous treasure. For 

^k W the sake of this hoard he had given up his 

fc^^-^ companionship with the Dwarfs and his delight 
in making and shaping the things of their work- 
manship. For the sake of his hoard he had taken on himself 
the dumbness and deafness of a fish. 

Now as he swam about before the cave he was aware again of 
a shadow above him. He slipped towards the shadow of the 
bank. Then as he turned round he saw a net sweeping towards 
him. He sank down in the water. But the Magic Net had spread 
out and he sank into its meshes. 

Suddenly he was out of the water and was left gasping on the 
bank. He would have died had he not undone his transformation. 



148 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Soon he appeared as a Dwarf. "Andvari, you are caught; it 
is one of the ^Esir who has taken you," he heard his captor say. 

"Loki," he gasped. 

"Thou art caught and thou shalt be held," Loki said to him. 
"It is the will of the iEsir that thou give up thy hoard to me." 

"My hoard, my hoard! " the Dwarf shouted. "Never will I 
give up my hoard." 

"I hold thee till thou givest it to me," said Loki. 

"Unjust, unjust," shouted Andvari. "It is only thou, Loki, 
who art unjust. I wiU go to the throne of Odin and I will have 
Odin punish thee for striving to rob me of my treasure." 

"Odin has sent me to fetch thy hoard to him," said Loki. 

"Can it be that all the Msir are unjust? Ah, yes. In the 
beginning of things they cheated the Giant who built the wall 
round their City. The ^Esir are unjust." 

Loki had Andvari in his power. And after the Dwarf had 
raged against him and defied him, he tormented him ; at last, 
trembling with rage and with his face covered with tears, Andvari 
took Loki into his cavern, and, turning a rock aside, showed him 
the mass of gold and gems that was his hoard. 

At once Loki began to gather into the Magic Net lumps and 
ingots and circlets of gold with gems that were rubies and sap- 
phires and emeralds. He saw Andvari snatch at something on 
the heap, but he made no sign of marking it. At last all was 
gathered into the net, and Loki stood there ready to bear the 
Dwarf's hoard away. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 149 

"There is one thing more to be given," said Loki, "the ring 
that you, Andvari, snatched from the heap." 

"I snatched nothing," said the Dwarf. But he shook with 
anger and bis teeth gnashed together and froth came on bis lips. 
"I snatched nothing from the heap." 

But Loki pulled up his arm and there fell to the ground the 
ring that Andvari had hidden under his arm-pit. 

It was the most precious thing in all the hoard. Had it been 
left with him Andvari would have thought that he still possessed 
a treasure, for this ring of itself could make gold. It was made 
out of gold that was refined of all impurities and it was engraven 
with a nme of power. 

Loki took up this most precious ring and put it on his finger. 
Then the Dwarf screamed at him, turning his thumbs towards 
him in a curse : 

The ring with the rune 

Of power upon it : 

May it weigh down your fortune, 

And load you with evil, 

You, Loki, and all 

Who lust to possess 

The ring I have cherished. 

As Andvari uttered this curse Loki saw a figure rise up in the 
cave and move towards him. As this figure came near he knew 
who it was: Gulveig, a Giant woman who had once been in 
Asgard. 



ISP CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Far back in the early days, when the Gods had come to their 
holy hill and before Asgard was built, three women of the Giants 
had come amongst the ^sir. After the Three had been with 
them for a time, the lives of the ^sir changed. Then did they 
begin to value and to hoard the gold that they had played with. 
Then did they think of war. Odin hurled his spear amongst the 
messengers that came from the Vanir, and war came into the 
world. 

The Three were driven out of Asgard. Peace was made 
with the Vanir. The Apples of Lasting Youth were grown in 
Asgard. The ea.gerness for gold was curbed. But never again 
were the ^Esir as happy as they were before the women came 
to them from the Giants. 

Gulveig was one of the Three who had blighted the early 
happiness of the Gods. And, behold, she was in the cave where 
Andvari had hoarded his treasure and with a smile upon her 
face she was advancing towards Loki. 

"So, Loki," she said, "thou seest me again. And Odin who 
sent thee to this cave will see me again. Lo, Loki ! I go to Odin 
to be thy messenger and to teU him that thou comest with 
Andvari's hoard." 

And speaking so, and smiling into his face, Gulveig went out of 
the cave with swift and light steps. Loki drew the ends of the 
Magic Net together and gathering all the treasure in its meshes 
he, too, went out. 



ODIN THE WANDERER 151 



IDIN, the Eldest of the Gods, stood leaning on his 
spear and looking at the skin of the otter that was 
spread out before him. One came into the dwelling 
swiftly. Odin looked and saw that she who had 
come in on such swift, glad feet was Gulveig who, 
once with her two companions, had troubled the 
happiness of the Gods. Odin raised his spear to cast it at her. 

"Lay thy spear down, Odin," she said. "I dwelt for long in 
the Dwarf's cave. But thy word unloosed me, and the curse 
said over Andvari's ring has sent me here. Lay thy spear down, 
and look on me, O Eldest of the Gods. 

"Thou didst cast me out of Asgard, but thy word has brought 
me to come back to thee. And if ye two, Odin and Loki, have 
bought yourselves free with gold and may enter Asgard, surely 
I, Gulveig, am free to enter Asgard also." 

Odin lowered his spear, sighing deeply. "Surely it is so, 
Gulveig," he said. "I may not forbid thee to enter Asgard. 
Would I had thought of giving the man Kvasir's Mead or Mimir's 
well water rather than this gold as a recompense." 

As they spoke Loki came into Hreidmar's dwelling. He laid 
on the floor the Magic Net. Old Hreidmar with his sharp eyes, 
and huge Fafnir, and lean and hungry-looking Regin came in to 
gaze on the gold and gems that shone through the meshes. 
They began to push each other away from gazing at the gold. 
Then Hreidmar cried out, "No one may be here but these two 
kings and I while we measure out the gold and gems and see 



IS2 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

whether the recompense be sufficient. Go without, go without, 
sons of mine." 

Then Fafnir and Regin were forced to go out of the dwelling. 
They went out slowly, and Gulveig went with them, whispering 
to both. 

With shaking hands old Hreidmar spread out the skin that 
once covered his son. He drew out the ears and the tail and the 
paws so that every single hair could be shown. For long he was 
on his hands and knees, his sharp eyes searching, searching over 
every line of the skin. And still on his knees he said, "Begin 
now, O kings, and cover with a gem or a piece of gold every hair 
on the skin that was my son's." 

Odin stood leaning on his spear, watching the gold and gems 
being paid out. Loki took the gold — the ingots, and the lumps 
and the circlets ; he took the gems — the rubies, and the emeralds 
and the sapphires, and he began to place them over each hair. 
Soon the middle of the skin was all covered. Then he put the 
gems and the gold over the paws and the tail. Soon the otter- 
skin was so glittering that one would think it could light up the 
world. And still Loki went on finding a place where a gem or a 
piece of gold might be put. 

At last he stood up. Every gem and every piece of gold had 
been taken out of the net. And every hair on the otter's skin 
had been covered with a gem or a piece of gold. 

And still old Hreidmar on his hands and knees was peering 
over the skin, searching, searching for a hair that was not 



ODIN THE WANDERER 153 

covered. At last he lifted himself up on his knees. His mouth 
was open, but he was speechless. He touched Odin on the knees, 
and when Odin bent down he showed him a hair upon the lip 
that was left uncovered. 

"What meanest thou ? " Loki cried, turning upon the crouching 
man. 

"Your ransom is not paid yet — look, here is still a hair un- 
covered. You may not go until every hair is covered with gold 
or a gem." 

' "Peace, old man," said Loki roughly. "All the Dwarf's 
hoard has been given thee." 

"Ye may not go until every hair has been covered," Hreidmar 
said again. 

"There is no more gold or gems," Loki answered. 

"Then ye may not go," cried Hreidmar, springing up. 
' It was true. Odin and Loki might not leave that dwelling 
until the recompense they had agreed to was paid in fuU. Where 
now would the .iEsir go for gold? 

And then Odin saw the gleam of gold on Loki's finger : it was 
the ring he had forced from Andvari. "Thy finger-ring," said 
Odin. "Put thy finger-ring over the hair on the otter's skin." 

Loki took off the ring that was engraved with the rune of 
power, and he put it on the lip-hair of the otter's skin. Then 
Hreidmar clapped his hands and screamed aloud. Huge Fafnir 
and lean and hungry-looking Regin came within, and Gulveig 
came behind them. They stood around the skin of the son ajid 



IS4 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 



the brother that was all glittering with gold and gems. But they 
looked at each other more than they looked on the glittering 
mass, and very deadly were the looks that Fafnir and Regin cast 
upon their father and cast upon each other. 

IVER Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, went all of the 
M^ ^^ ^sir and the Vanir that had been at old ^gir's 
■ ■ feast — Frey and Freya, Frigga, Iduna, and Sif; 

M m Tyr with his sword and Thor in his chariot drawn 

^^.^^ by the goats. Loki came behind them, and be- 
hind them all came Odin, the Father of the Gods. 
He went slowly with his head bent, for he knew that an un- 
welcome one was following — Gulveig, who once had been cast 
out of Asgard and whose return now the Gods might not 
gainsay. 



Part III 
THE WITCH'S HEART 







HAT happened afterwards is to the shame of 
the Gods, and mortals may hardly speak of it. 
Gulveig the Witch came into Asgard, for Heim- 
dall might not forbid her entrance. She came 
within and she had her seat amongst the iEsir 
and the Vanir. She walked through Asgard 
with a smile upon her face, and where she walked and where she 
smiled Care and dire Foreboding came. 

Those who felt the care and the foreboding most deeply were 
Bragi the Poet and his wife, the fair and simple Iduna, she who 
gathered the apples that kept age from the Dwellers in Asgard. 
Bragi ceased to tell his never-ending tale. Then one day, over- 
come by the fear and the foreboding that was creeping through 

IS7 




;iS8 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

jAsgard, Iduna slipped down Ygdras'sil, the World Tree, and 
lio one was left to pluck the apples witii which the ^sir and the 
yanir stayed their youth. _ ,. j \ 

; Then were all the Dw^llprs in Asgard in sore dismay. Strength 
•and beauty began to fade from all. Thor found it hard to hfi 
Miolnir, his great hammer, and the flesh under ,Freya's jiecklac^ 
lost Its white radiance. And still Gulveig the Witch walke^ 
smiling through Asgard, although now she was hated by all. 

It was Odin and Frey who went in search of Iduna. She would 
have been found and brought back without delay if Frey had 
had with him the magic sword that he had bartered for Gerda. 
In his search he had to strive with one who guarded the lake 
wherein Iduna had hidden herself. Beli was the one he strove 
Against. He overcame him in the end with a weapon made of 
stags' antlers. Ah, it was not then but later that Frey lamented 
the loss of his sword : it was when the Riders of Muspell came 
against Asgard, and the Vanir, who might have prevailed, 
prevailed not because of the loss of Frey's sword. 

They found Iduna and they brought her back. But still Care 
and Foreboding crept through Asgard. And it was known, too, 
that the witch Gulveig was changing the thoughts of the Gods. 

At last Odin had to judge Gulveig. He judged her and decreed 
her death. And only Gungnir, the spear of Odin, might slay 
Gulveig, who was not of mortal race. 

Odin hurled Gungnir. The spear went through Gulveig. 
But stiU she stood smiling at the Giods. A second time Odin 



THE WITCH'S HEART 159 

hurled his spear. A second time Gungnir pierced the witch. 
She stood livid as one dead but fell not down. A third time Odin 
hurled his spear. And now, pierced for the third time, the witch 
gave a scream that made aU Asgard shudder and she fell in 
death on the ground. 

"I have slain in these halls where sla3dng is forbidden," Odin 
said. "Take now the corpse of Gulveig and burn it on the 
ramparts, so that no trace of the witch who has troubled us will 
remain in Asgard." 

They brought the corpse of Gulveig the witch out on the ram- 
parts and they lighted fires under the pile on which they laid 
her and they called upon Hraesvelgur to fan up the flame : 

Hraesvelgur is the Giant, 
Who on heaven's edge sits 
In the guise of an eagle ; 
And the winds, it is said, 
Rush down on the earth 
From his outspreading pinions. 

Far away was Loki when all this was being done. Often now 
he went from Asgard, and his Journeys were to look upon that 
wondrous treasure that had passed from the keeping of the dwarf 
Andvari. It was Gulveig who had kept the imagination of that 
treasure within his mind. Now, when he came back and heard 
the whispers of what had been done, a rage flamed up within 
him. For Loki was one of those whose minds were being changed 



i6o CHILDREN OF ODIN 

by the presence and the whispers of the witch Gulveig. His mind 
was being changed to hatred of the Gods. Now he went to the 
place of Gulveig's burning. All her body was in ashes, but her 
heart had not been devoured by the flames. And Loki in his 
rage took the heart of the witch and ate it. Oh, black and direful 
was it in Asgard, the day that Loki ate the heart that the flames 
would not devour ! 



THE WITCH'S HEART 



i6i 




"^©fii ^t)e ^ef RavjeR 



E stole Frigga's dress of falcon feathers. Then 
as a falcon he flew out of Asgard. Jotunheim 
was the place that he flew towards. 

The anger and the fierceness of the hawk was 
within Loki as he flew through the Giants' Realm. 
The heights and the chasms of that dread land 
made his spirits mount up like fire. He saw the whirlpools 
and the smoking motmtains and had joy of these sights. 
Higher and higher he soared imtil, looking towards the South, 
he saw the flaming land of Muspelheim. Higher and higher 
still he soared. With his falcon's eyes he saw the gleam of 



i62 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Surtur's flaming sword. All the fire of Muspelheim and all the 
gloom of jQtunheim would one day be brought against Asgard 
and against Midgard. But Loki was no longer dismayed to think 
of the ruin of Asgard's beauty and the ruin of Midgard's promise. 

He hovered around one of the dwellings in Jotunheim. Why 
had he come to it? Because he had seen two of the women of 
that dwelling, and his rage against the Asyniur and the Vanir 
was such that the ugliness and the evil of these women was pleas- 
ing to him. 

He hovered before the open door of the Giant's house and he 
looked upon those who were within. Gerriod, the most savage 
of all the Giants, was there. And beside him, squatting on the 
ground, were his two evil and ugly daughters, Gialp and Greip. 

They were big and bulky, black and rugged, with horses' 
teeth and hair that was like horses' manes. Gialp was the ugliest 
of the two, if one could be said to be uglier than the other, for 
her nose was a yard long and her eyes were crooked. 

What were they talking about as they sat there, one scratching 
the other? Of Asgard and the Dwellers in Asgard whom they 
hated. Tlior was the one whom they hated most of all, and they 
were speaking of all they would like to do to him. 

"I would keep Thor boimd in chains," said Gerriod the Giant, 
"and I would beat him to death with my iron club." 

"I would grind his bones to powder," said Greip. 

"I would tear the flesh off his bones," said Gialp. "Father,, 
can you not catch this Thor and bring him to us alive?" 



THE WITCH'S HEART 163 

"Not as long as he has his hanuner Miolnir, and the gloves 
with which he grasps his hammer, and the belt that doubles his 
strength." 

"Oh, if we could catch him without his hammer and his belt 
and his gloves," cried Gialp and Greip together. 

At that moment they saw the falcon hovering before the door. 
They were eager now for something to hold and torment and so 
the hearts of the three became set upon catching the falcon. 
They did not stir from the place where they were sitting, 
but they called the child Glapp, who was swinging from 
the roof-tree, and they bade him go out and try to catch 
the falcon. 

All concealed by the great leaves the child Glapp climbed up 
the ivy that was around the door. The falcon came hovering 
near. Then Glapp caught it by the wings and fell down through 
the ivy, screaming and struggling as he was being beaten, and 
clawed, and torn by the wings and the talons and the beak of 
the falcon. 

Gerriod and Greip and Gialp rushed out and kept hold of the 
falcon. As the Giant held him in his hands and looked him over 
he knew that this was no bird-creature. The eyes showed him 
to be of Alfheim or Asgard. The Giant took him and shut him 
in a box till he would speak. 

Soon he tapped at the closed box and when Gerriod opened it 
Loki spoke to him. So glaxi was the savage Giant to have one of 
the Dwellers in Asgard in his power that he and his daughters 



i64 CHILDREN OF ODpj 

did nothing but laugh and chuckle to each other for days. And 
all this time they left Loki in the closed box to waste with hunger. 
When they opened the box again Loki spoke to them. He told 
them he would do any injury to the Dwellers in Asgard that would 
please them if they would let him go. 
"Will you bring Thor to us?" said Greip. 
"Will you bring Thor to us without his hammer, and without 
the gloves with which he grasps his hammer, and without his 
belt?" said Gialp. .' 

"1 will bring him to you if you will let me go," Loki said. 
"Thor is easily deceived and I can bring him to you without his 
hammer and his belt and his gloves." 

"We will let you go, Loki," said the Giant, "if you will swear 
by the gloom of Jotunheim that you will bring Thor to us as you 
say." 

Loki swore that he would do so by the gloom of Jotimheim — 
"Yea, and by the fires of Muspelheim," he added. The Giant 
and his daughters let him go, and he flew back to Asgard. 

E restored to Frigga her falcon dress. All blamed 
him for having stolen it, but when he told how 
he had been shut up without food in Gerriod's 
dwelling those who judged him thought he had 
been punished enough for the theft. He spoke as 
before to the Dwellers in Asgard, and the rage 
and hatred he had against them since he had eaten Giilveig's 
heart he kept from bursting forth. 



THE WITCH'S HEART 165 

He talked to Thor of the adventures they had together in 
Jotunheim. Thor would now roar with laughter when he talked 
of the time when he went as a bride to Thrym the Giant. 

Loki was able to persuade him to make another journey to 
J5tunheim. "And I want to speak to you of what I saw in 
Gerriod's dwelling," he said. "I saw there the hair of Sif, your 
wife." 

"The hair of Sif, my wife," said Thor in surprise. 

"Yes, the hair I once cut off from Sif's head," said Loki. 
" Gerriod was the one who found it when I cast it away. They 
light their hall with Sif's hair. Oh, yes, they don't need torches 
where Sif's hair is." 
j "I should like to see it," said Thor. 

"Then pay Gerriod a visit," Loki replied. "But if you go to 
his house you will have to go without your hammer Miolnir, and 
without your gloves and your belt." 

"Where will I leave Miolnir and my gloves and my belt?" 
Thor asked. 

"Leave them in Valaskjalf, Odin's own dwelling," said cunning 
Loki. "Leave them there and come to Gerriod's dwelling. 
Surely you will be well treated there." 

"Yes, I will leave them in Valaskjalf and go with you to 
Gerriod's dwelling," Thor said. 

Thor left his hammer, his gloves, and his belt m Valaskjalf. 
Then he and Loki went towards J5tunheim. When they were 
near the end of their journey, they came to a wide river, and 



i66 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

with a young Giant whom they met on the bank they began 
to ford it. 

Suddenly the river began to rise. Lold and the young Giant 
would have been swept away only Thor gripped both of them. 
Higher and higher the river rose, and rougher and rougher it 
became. Thor had to plant his feet firmly on the bottom or he 
and the two he held would have been swept down by the flood. 
He struggled across, holding Loki and the young Giant. A 
mountain ash grew out of the baflk, and, while the two held to 
him, he grasped it with his hands. The river rose still higher, 
but Thor was able to draw Loki and the young Giant to the 
bank, and then he himself scrambled up on it. 

Now looking up the river he saw a sight that filled him with 
rage. A Giantess was pouring a flood into it. This it was that 
was making the river rise and seethe. Thor pulled a rock out 
of the bank and hurled it at her. It struck her and flung her 
into the flood. Then she struggled out of the water and went 
yelping away. This Giantess was Gialp, Gerriod's ugly and evil 
daughter. 

Nothing would do the young Giant whom Thor had helped 
across but that the pair would go and visit Grid, his mother, who 
lived in a cave in the hillside. Loki would not go and was 
angered to hear that Thor thought of going. But Thor, seeing 
that the Giant youth was friendly, was willing enough to go to 
Grid's dwelling. 

"Go then, but get soon to Gerriod's dwelling yonder. I will 



THE WITCH'S HEART 167 

wait for you there," said Loki. He watched Thor go up the hill- 
side to Grid's cave. He waited until he saw Thor come back 
down the hiUside and go towards Gerriod's dwelling. He watched 
Thor go into the house where, as he thought, death awaited 
him. Then in a madness for what he had done, Loki, with his 
head drawn down on his shoulders, started running like a bird 
along the ground. 

[RID, the old Giantess, was seated on the floor of 
^f ^\. the cave grinding corn between two stones. "Who 
■ /' '^ is it?" she said, as her son led Thor within. "One 
M ^^ I of the ^sir ! What Giant do you go to injure now, 
\<1^ Asa Thor?" 

' " I go to injure no Giant, old Grid," Thor replied. 

"Look upon me ! Carmot you see that I have not Miolnir, my 
mighty hammer, with me, nor my belt, nor my gloves of iron?" 
"But where in Jotunheim do you go?" 
"To the house of a friendly Giant, old Grid — to the house of 
Gerriod." 

"Gerriod a friendly Giant! You are out of your wits, Asa 
Thor. Is he not out of his wits, my son — this one who saved 
you from the fl.ood, as you say?" 

"Tell him of Gerriod, old mother," said the Giant youth. 
"Do not go to his house, Asa Thor. Do not go to his house." 
"My word has been given, and I should be a craven if I 
stayed away now, just because an old crone sitting at a quern- 
stone tells me I am going into a trap." 



i68 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"I will give you something that will help you, Asa Thor. 
Lucky for you I am mistress of magical things. Take this staff 
in your hands. It is a staff of power and will stand you instead 
of Miolnir." 

"I will take it since you offer it in kindness, old dame, this 
worm-eaten staff." 

"And take these mittens, too. They will serve you for your 
gauntlets of iron." 

"I will take them since you offer them in kindness, old dame, 
these worn old mittens." 

"And take this length of string. It will serve you for your belt 
of prowess." 

"I will take it since you offer it in kindness, old dame, this 
ragged length of string." 

"'Tis well indeed for you, Asa Thor, that I am mistress of 
magical things." 

Thor put the worn length of string around his waist, and as 
he did he knew that Grid, the old Giantess, was indeed the mis- 
tress of magical things. For immediately he felt his strength 
augmented as when he put on his own belt of strength. He then 
drew on the mittens and took the staff that she gave him in his 
hands. 

He left the cave of Grid, the old Giantess, and went to Gerriod's 
dwelling. Loki was not there. It was then that Thor began to 
think that perhaps old Grid was right and that a trap was being 
laid for him. 



THE WITCH'S HEART 169 

No one was in the hall. He came out of the hall and into a 
great stone chamber and he saw no one there either. But in the 
centre of the stone chamber there was a stone seat, and Thor went 
to it and seated himself upon it. 

No sooner was he seated than the chair flew upwards. Thor 
would have been crushed against the stone roof only that he 
held his staff up. So great was the power in the staff, so great 
was the strength that the string around him gave, that the chair 
was thrust downward. The stone chair crashed down upon the 
stone floor. 

There were horrible screams from under it. Thor lifted up the 
seat and saw two ugly, broken bodies there. The Giant's 
daughters, Gialp and Greip, had hidden themselves under the 
chair to watch his death. But the stone that was to have 
crushed him against the ceiling had crushed them against 
the floor. 

Thor strode out of that chamber with his teeth set hard. A 
great fire was blazing in the hall, and standing beside that fire he 
saw Gerriod, the long-armed Giant. 

He held a tongs into the fire. As Thor came towards him he 
lifted up the tongs and flung from it a blazing wedge of iron. It 
whizzed straight towards Thor's forehead. Thor put up his 
hands and caught the blazing wedge of iron between the mittens 
that old Grid had given him. Quickly he hurled it back at 
Gerriod. It struck the Giant on the forehead and went blazing 
through him. 



170 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Gerriod crashed down into the fire, and the burning iron made 
a blaze all round him. And when Thor reached Grid's cave 
(he went there to restore to the old Giantess the string, the 
mittens, and the staff of power she had given him) he saw the 
Giant's dwelling in such a blaze that one would think the fires of 
Muspelheim were all around it. 



THE WITCH'S HEART 



171 




^©fii ^<4amsf 5f>ellesTR 



HE ^sir were the guests of the Vanir : in Frey'si 
palace the Dwellers in Asgard met and feasted 
in friendship. Odin and Tyr were there, Vidar 
and VaH, Niord, Frey, Heimdall, and Bragi. The 
Asyniur and the Vana were there also — Frigga, 
Freya, Iduna, Gerda, Skadi, Sif , and Nanna. Thor 

and Loki were not at the feast, for they had left Asgard together. 
In Frey's palace the vessels were of shining gold ; they made 

light for the table and they moved of their own accord to serve 

those who were feasting. All was peace and friendship there 

until Loki entered the feast hall. 




172 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Frey, smiling a welcome, showed a bench to Loki. It was 
beside Bragi's and next to Freya's. Loki did not take the 
place; instead he shouted out, "Not beside Bragi will I sit; 
not beside Bragi, the most craven of all the Dwellers in Asgard." 

Bragi sprang up at that affront, but his wife, the mild Iduna, 
quieted his anger. Freya turned to Loki and reproved him for 
speaking injurious words at a feast. 

"Freya," said Loki, "why were you not so mild when Odur 
was with you? Would it not have been well to have been wifely 
with your husband instead of breaking faith with him for the 
sake of a necklace that you craved of the Giant women?" 

Amazement fell on all at the bitterness that was in Loki's 
words and looks. Tjrr and Niord stood up from their seats. But 
then the voice of Odin was heard and all was still for the words 
of the All-Father. 

"Take the place beside Vidar, my silent son, O Loki," said 
Odin, "and let thy tongue which drips bitterness be silent." 

"All the ^sir and the Vanir listen to thy words, Odin, as if 
thou wert always wise and just," Loki said. "But must we 
forget that thou didst bring war into the world when thou didst 
fling thy spear at the envoys of the Vanir? And didst thou not 
permit me to work craftily on the one who built the wall around 
Asgard for a price? Thou dost speak, O Odin, and all the ^sir 
and the Vanir listen to thee ! But was it not thou who, thinking 
not of wisdom but of gold when a ransom had to be made, 
brought the witch Gulveig out of the cave where she stayed with 



THE WITCH'S HEART 173 

the Dwarf's treasure? Thou wert not always wise nor always 
just, O Odin, and we at the table here need not listen to thee as 
if always thou wert." 

Then Skadi, the wife of Niord, flung words at Loki. She spoke 
with all the fierceness of her Giant blood. "Why should we not 
rise up and chase from the hall this chattering crow?" she said. 

"Skadi," said Loki, "remember that the ransom for thy 
father's death has not yet been paid. Thou wert glad to snatch 
a husband instead of it. Remember who it was that killed thy 
Giant father. It was I, Loki. And no ransom have I paid thee 
for it, although thou hast come amongst us in Asgard." 

Then Loki fixed his eyes on Frey, the giver of the feast, and all 
knew that with bitter words he was about to assail him. But 
Tyr, the brave swordsman, rose up and said, "Not agaiast Frey 
mayst thou speak, O Loki. Frey is generous; he is the one 
amongst us who spares the vanquished and frees the captive." 

"Cease speaking, Tyr," said Loki. "Thou mayst not always 
have a hand to hold that sword of thine. Remember this saying 
of mine in days to come. 

"Frey," said he, "because thou art the giver of the feast they 
think I will not speak the truth about thee. But I am not to be 
bribed by a feast. Didst thou not send Skimir to Gymer's 
dwelling to befool Gymer's flighty daughter? Didst thou not 
bribe him into frightening her into a marriage with thee, who, 
men say, wert the slayer of her brother? Yea, Frey. Thou didst 
part with a charge, with the magic sword that thou shouldst 



174 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

have kept for the battle. Thou hadst cause to grieve when thou 
didst meet Beli by the lake." 

When he said this aU who were there, of the Vanir rose up, 
their faces threatening Loki. 

"Sit still, ye Vanir," Loki railed. "If the .iEsir are to bear 
the brunt of Jotunheim's and Muspelheim's war upon Asgard 
it was your part to be the first or the last on Vigard's plain. 
But already ye have lost the battle for Asgard, for the weapon 
that was put into Frey's hands he bartered for Gerda the 
Giantess. Ha ! Surtur shall triumph over you because of Frey's 
bewitchment." 

In horror they looked at the one who could let his hatred speak 
of Surtur's triumph. All would have laid hands oh Loki only 
Odin's voice rang out. Then another appeared at the entrance 
of the feasting hall. It was Thor. With his hammer upon his 
shoulder, his gloves of iron on his hands, and his belt of prowess 
around him, he stood marking Loki with wrathful eyes. 

"Ha, Loki, betrayer," he shouted. "Thou didst plan to leave 
me dead in Gerriod's house, but now thou wilt meet death by the 
stroke of this hammer." 

His hands were raised to hurl Miolnir. But the words that 
Odin spoke were heard. "Not in this hall may slaying be done, 
son Thor. Keep thy hands upon thy hammer." 

Then shrinking from the wrath in the eyes of Thor, Loki passed 
out of the feast hall. He went beyond 1\he walls of Asgard and 
crossed Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. And he cursed Bifrost, 



THE WITCH'S HEART 175 

and longed to see the day when the armies of Muspelheim would 
break it down in their rush against Asgard. 

East of Midgard there was a place more evil than any region 
in Jotunheim. It was Jarnvid, the Iron Wood. There dwelt 
witches who were the most foul of all witches. And they had a 
queen over them, a hag, mother of many sons who took upon 
themselves the shapes of wolves. Two of her sons were SkoU 
and Hati, who pursued Sol, the Sun, and Mani, the Moon. She 
had; a third son, who was Managarm, the woU who was to be 
filled with the life-blood of men, who was to swallow up the 
Moon, and stain the heavens and earth with blood. To Jarnvid, 
the Iron Wood, Loki made his way. And he wed one of the 
witches there, Angerboda, and they had children that took on 
dread shapes. Loki's offspring were the most terrible of the 
foes that were to come against the ^sir and the Vanir in the 
time that was called the Twilight of the Gods. 



176 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 




©5T7e \7at"RYR7 e ® 

GAINST the time when the riders of Muspelheim, 
with the Giants and the evil powers of the 
Under-world, would bring on battle, Odin All- 
Father was preparing a host of defenders for 
Asgard. They were not of the ^sir nor of the 
Vanir; they were of the race of mortal men, 

heroes chosen from amongst the slain on fields of battle in 

Midgard. 
To choose the heroes, and to give victory to those whom he 

willed to have victory, Odin had battle-maidens that went to 

the fields of war. Beautiful were those battle-maidens and fear- 





\^ 



'0>> 




_ ; ■iJii^'^^i'^SS 



THE WITCH'S HEART 177 

less ; wise were they also, for to them Odin showed the Runes of 
Wisdom. Valkyries, Choosers of the -Slain, they were named. 

Those who were chosen on the fields of the slain were called in 
Asgard the Einherjar. For them Odin made ready a great Hall. 
Valhalla, the Hall of the Slain, it was called. Five hundred 
and forty doors had Valhalla, and out of each door eight hundred 
Champions might pass. Every day the Champions put on their 
armour and took their weapons down from the walls, and went 
forth and battled with each other. All who were wounded 
were made whole again, and in peace and goodly fellowship they 
sat down to the feast that Odin prepared for them. Odin himself 
sat with his Champions, drinking wine but eating no meat. 

For meat the Champions ate the flesh of the boar Saehrim- 
nir; every day the boar was killed and cooked, and every 
morning it was whole again. For drink they had the mead that 
was made from the milk of the goat Heidrun, the goat that 
browsed on the leaves of the tree Laeradir. And the Valkyries, 
the wise and fearless battle-maidens, went amongst them, filling 
up the drinking-horns with the heady mead. 

Youngest of all the battle-maidens was Brynhild. Nevertheless, 
to her Odin All-Father had shown more of the Runes of Wisdom 
than he had shown to any of her sisters. And when the time 
came for Brynhild to journey down into Midgard he gave her a 
swan-feather dress such as he had given before to the three 
Valkyrie sisters — Alvit, Olrun, and Hladgrun. 

In the dazzling plumage of a swan the young battle-maiden flew 



178 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

down from Asgard. Not yet had she to go to the battle-fields. 
Waters drew her, and as she waited on the will of the All-Father 
she sought out a lake that had golden sands for its shore, and as 
a maiden bathed in it. 

Now there dwelt near this lake a young hero whose name was 
Agnar. And one day as Agnar lay by the lake he saw a swan 
with dazzling plumage fly down to it. And while she was in the 
reeds the swan-feather dress slipped off her, and Agnar beheld 
the swan change to a maiden. 

So bright was her hair, so strong and swift were all her move- 
ments, that he knew her for one of Odin's battle-maidens ; for 
one of those who give victory and choose the slain. Very daring 
was Agnar, and he set his mind upon capturing this battle- 
maiden even though he should bring on himself the wrath of 
Odin by doing it. 

He hid the swan-feather dress that she had left in the reeds. 
When she came out of the water she might not fly away. 
Agnar gave back to her the swan-feather dress, but she had to 
promise that she would be his battle-maiden. 

And as they talked together the young Valkyrie saw in him a 
hero that one from Asgard might help. Very brave and very 
noble was Agnar. Brynhild went with him as his battle-maiden, 
and she told him much from the Runes of Wisdom that she knew, 
and she showed him that the All-Father's last hope was in the 
bravery of the heroes of the earth ; with the Chosen from the Slain 
for his Champions he would make battle in defence of Asgard. 



THE WITCH'S HEART 179 

Always Brynhildwas with Agnar's battalions ; above the battles 
she hovered, her bright hair and flashing battle-dress out-shining 
the spears and swords and shields of the warriors. 

But the grey-beard King Helmgunnar made war on the young 
Agnar. Odin favoured the grey-beard King, and to him he prom- 
ised the victory. Brynhild knew the will of the All-Father. 
But to Agnar, not to Helmgunnar, she gave the victory. 

Doomed was Brynhild on the instant she went against Odin's 
will. Never again might she come into Asgard. A mortal woman 
she was now, and the Norns began to spin the thread of her 
mortal destiny. 

Sorrowful was Odin All-Father that the wisest of his battle- 
maidens might never appear in Asgard nor walk by the benches 
at the feasts of his Champions in Valhalla. He rode down on 
Sleipner to where Brynhild was. And when he came before her it 
was his, and not her head that was bowed down. 

For she knew now that the world of men was pa3dng a bitter 
price for the strength that Asgard would have in the last battle. 
The bravest and the noblest were being taken from Midgard to 
fill up the ranks of Odin's champions. And BrynhiWs heart 
was full of anger against the rulers of Asgard, and she cared 
no more to be of them. 

Odin looked on his unflinching battle-maiiden, and he said, 
"Is there aught thou wouldst have me bestow on thee in thy 
mortal life, Brynhild?" 

"Naught save this," Brynhild answered, "that in my mortal 



i8o CHILDREN OF ODIN 

life no one but a man without fear, the bravest hero in the world, 
may claim me for wife." 

All-Father bowed hishead in thought. "It shall be as thou hast 
asked," he said. "Only he who is without fear shall come near 
thee." 

Then on the top of the mountain that is called Hindfell he 
had a Hall built that faced the south. Ten Dwarfs built it of 
black stone. And when the Hall was built he put rovmd it a 
wall of mounting and drcling fire. 

More did Odin All-Father : he took a thorn of the Tree of 
Sleep and he put it into the flesh of the battle-maiden. Then, 
with her helmet on her head and the breast-mail of the Valkyrie 
upon her, he lifted Brynhild in his arms and he carried her through 
the wall of mounting and circling fire. He laid her upon the 
couch that was within the Hall. There she would lie in slumber 
until the hero who was without fear should ride through the 
flame and waken her to tJie life of a mortal woman. 

He took farewell of her and he rode back to Asgard on Sleipner. 
He might not foresee what fate would be hers as a mortal 
woman. But the fire he had left went mounting and circling 
around the Hall that the Dwarfs had built. For ages that fire 
would be a fence around where Brynhild, once a Valkyrie, lay 
in sleep. 



THE WITCH'S HEART 



i8i 




^e C^Wdnen ©P y^i 




HE children of Loki and the witch Angerboda were 
not as the children of men: they were formless 
as water, or air, or fire is formless, but it was given 
to each of them to take on the form that was 
most like to their own greed. 

Now the Dwellers in Asgard knew that these 
powers of evil had been bom into the world and they thought 
it well that they should take on forms and appear before 
them in Asgard. So they sent one to Jamvid, the Iron Wood, 
bidding Loki bring before the Gods the powers bom of him and 
the witch Angerboda. So Loki came into Asgard once more. 



i82 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

And his offspring took on forms and showed themselves to the 
Gods. The first, whose greed was destruction, showed himself 
as a fearful Wolf. Fenrir he was named. And the second, whose 
greed was slow destruction, showed itself as a Serpent. Jormun- 
gand it was called. The third, whose greed was for withering 
of all life, took on a form also. When the Gods saw it they 
were affrighted. For this had the form of a woman, and one 
side of her was that of a living woman and the other side of 
her was that of a corpse. Fear ran through Asgard as this form 
was revealed and as the name that went with it, Hela, was 
uttered. 

Far out of sight of the Gods Hela was thrust. Odin took her 
and hurled her down to the deeps that are below the world. 
He cast her down to Niflheim, where she took to herself power 
over the nine regions. There, in the place that is lowest of all, 
Hela reigns. Her haU is Elvidnir; it is set round with high 
walls and it has barred gates ; Precipice is the threshold of that 
hall ; Hunger is the table within it ; Care is the bed, and Burning 
Anguish is the hanging of the chamber. 

Thor laid hold upon Jormungand. He flung the serpent into 
the ocean that engirdles the world. But in the depths of the 
ocean Jormungand flourished. It grew and grew until it en- 
circled the whole world. And men knew it as the Midgard 
Serpent. 

Fenrir the Wolf might not be seized upon by any of the iEsir. 
Fearfully he ranged through Asgard and they were only able to 



THE WITCH'S HEART 183 

bring him to the outer courts by promising to give him all the 
food he was able to eat. 

The ^sir shrank from feeding Fenrir. But Tyr, the brave 
swordsman, was willing to bring food to the Wolf's lair. Every, 
day he brought him huge provision and fed him with the point 
of his sword. The Wolf grew and grew until he became monstrous 
and a terror in the minds of the Dwellers in Asgard. 

HT last the Gods in council considered it and de- 
cided that Fenrir must be bound. The chain 
that they would bind him with was called Laed- 
ing. In their own smithy the Gods made it and 
its weight was greater than Thor's hammer. 

Not by force could the Gods get the fetter 
upon Fenrir, so they sent Skimir, the servant of Frey, to be- 
guile the Wolf into letting it go upon him. Skimir came to 
his lair and stood near him, and he was dwarfed by the Wolf's 
monstrous size. 

"How great may thy strength be. Mighty One?" Skirnir 
asked. "Couldst thou break this chain easily? The Gods 
would try thee. " 

In scorn Fenrir looked down on the fetter Skimir dragged. 
In scorn he stood still allowing Laeding to be placed upon him. . 
Then, with an effort that was the least part of his strength, he 
stretchedhimself and broke the chain in two. 

The Gods were dismayed. But they took more iron, and with 
greater fires and mightier hammer blows they forged another 



i84 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

fetter. Dromi, this one was called, and it was half again as strong 
as Laeding was. Skimir the Venturesome brought it to the 
Wolf's lair, and in scorn Fenrir let the mightier chain be placed 
upon him. 

He shook himself and the chain held. Then his eyes became 
fiery and he stretched himself with a growl and a snarl. Dromi 
broke across, and Fenrir stood looking balefully at Skimir. 

The Gods saw that no chain they could forge would bind 
Fenrir and they fell more and more into fear of him. They took 
council again and they bethought them of the wonder-work 
the Dwarfs had made for them, the spear Gungnir, the ship 
Skidbladnir, the hammer Miolnir. Could the Dwarfs be got 
to make the fetter to bind Fenrir ? If they would do it the Gods 
would add to their domain. 

Skirnir went down to Svartheim with the message from As- 
gard. The Dwarf Chief swelled with pride to think that it was 
left to them to make the fetter that would bind Fenrir. 

"We Dwarfs can make a fetter that wiU bind the Wolf," 
he said. "Out of six things we will make it." 

"What are these six things?" Skimir asked. 

"The roots of stones, the breath of a fish, the beards of women, 
the noise made by the footfalls of cats, the sinews of bears, the 
spittle of a bird." 

"I have never heard the noise made by a cat's footfall, nor 
have I seen the roots of stones nor the beards of women. But 
use what things you will, O Helper of the Gods." 



THE WITCH'S HEART 185 

The Chief brought his six things together and the Dwarfs in 
their smithy worked for days and nights. They forged a fetter that 
was named Gleipnir. Smooth and soft as a silken string it was. 
Skirnir brought it to Asgard and put it into the hands of the Gods. 

Then a day came when the Gods said that once again they 
should try to put a fetter upon Fenrir. But if he was to be 
bound they would bind him far from Asgard. Lyngvi was an 
island that they often went to to make sport, and they spoke of 
going there. Fenrir growled that he would go with them. He 
came and he sported in his own terrible way. And then as if 
it were to make more sport, one of the ^sir shook out the smooth 
cord and showed it to Fenrir. 

"It is stronger than you might think, Mighty One," they said. 
"Will you not let it go upon you that we may see you break it?" 

Fenrir out of his fiery eyes looked scorn upon them. "What 
fame would liiere be for me," he said, "in breaking such a 
binding?" 

They showed Vn'm that none in their company could break it, 
slender as it was. "Thou only art able to break it. Mighty One," 
they said. 

"The cord is slender, but there may be an enchantment in 
it," Fenrir said. 

"Thou canst not break it, Fenrir, and we need not dread thee 
any more," the Gods said. 

Then was the Wolf ravenous wroth, for he lived on the fear 
that he made in the minds of the Gods. "I am loth to have this 



i86 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

binding upon me," he said, "but if one of the ^sir will put his 
hand in my mouth as a pledge that I shall be freed of it, I will 
let ye put it on me." 

The Gods looked wistfully on one another. It would be health 
to them all to have Fenrir bound, but who would lose his hand 
to have it done? One and then another of the ^sir stepped 
backward. But not T3t:, the brave swordsman. He stepped 
to Fenrir and laid his left hand before those tremendous jaws. 

"Not thy left hand — thy sword-hand, O T3t:," growled 
Fenrir, and Tyr put his sword-hand into that terrible mouth. 

Then the cord Gleipnir was put upon Fenrir. With fiery eyes 
he watched the Gods bind him. When the binding was on him he 
stretched himself as before. He stretched himself to a monstrous 
size but the binding did not break off him. Then with fury he 
snapped his jaws upon the hand, and Tyr's hand, the swords- 
man's hand, was torn off. 

But Fenrir was boimd. They fixed a mighty chain to the fetter, 
and they passed the chain through a hole they bored through a 
great rock. The monstrous Wolf made terrible efforts to break 
loose, but the rock and the chain and the fetter held. Then see- 
ing him secured, and to avenge the loss of Tyr's hand, the Gods 
took Tyr's sword and drove it to the hilt through his under-jaw. 
Horribly the Wolf howled. Mightily the foam flowed down from 
his jaws. That foam flowing made a river that is called Von — 
a river of fury that flowed on until Ragnarok came, the Twilight 
of the Gods. 



THE WITCH'S HEART 



187 




^afdoR^s ^®ovr> 



IN Asgard there were two places that meant strength 

and joy to the ^sir and the Vanir: one was the 

garden where grew the apples that Idima gathered, 

and the other was the Peace Stead, where, in a 

palace called Breidablik, Baldur the Well-beloved 

dwelt. 

In the Peace Stead no crime had ever been committed, no 

blood had ever been shed, no falseness had ever been spoken. 

Contentment came into the minds of all in Asgard when they 

thought upon this place. Ah! Were it not that the Peace 

Stead was there, happy with Baldur's presence, the minds of the 



i88 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Msir and the Vanir might have become gloomy and stem from 
thinking on the direful things that were arrayed against them. 
Baldur was beautiful. So beautiful was he that all the white 
blossoms on the earth were called by his name. Baldur was 
happy. So happy was he that all the birds on the earth sang his 
name. So just and so wise was Baldur that the judgement he 
pronounced might never be altered. Nothing foul or unclean 
had ever come near where he had his dwelling : 

'Tis Breidablik called, 
Where Baldur the Fair 
Hath built him a bower. 
In the land where I know 
Least loathliness lies. 

Healing things were done in Baldur's Stead. Tyr's wrist was 
healed of the wounds that Fenrir's fangs had made. And there 
Frey's mind became less troubled with the foreboding that Loki 
had filled it with when he railed at him about the bartering of 
his sword. 

Now after Fenrir had been bound to the rock in the far-away 
island the .^sir and the Vanir knew a while of contentment. 
They passed bright days in Baldur's Stead, listening to the birds 
that made music there. And it was there that Bragi the Poet 
wove into his never-ending story the tale of Thor's adventures 
amongst the Giants. 

But even into Baldur's Stead foreboding came. One day 
little Hnossa, the child of Freya and the lost Odur, was brought 



THE WITCH'S HEART 189 

there in such sorrow that no one outside could comfort her. 
Nanna, Baldur's gentle wife, took the child upon her lap and 
found ways of soothing her. Then Hnossa told of a dream that 
had filled her with fright. 

She had dreamt of Hela, the Queen that is half living woman 
and half corpse. In her dream Hela had come into Asgard say- 
ing, " A lord of the ^sir I must have to dwell with me in my realm 
beneath the earth." Hnossa had such fear from this dream that 
she had fallen into a deep sorrow. 

A silence fell upon all when the dream of Hnossa was told. 
Nanna looked wistfully at Odin All-Father. And Odin, looking 
at Frigga, saw that a fear had entered her breast. 

He left the Peace Stead and went to his watch-tower Hlid- 
skjalf. He waited there till Hugin and Munin should come to him. 
Every day his two ravens flew through the world, and coming 
back to him told him of all that was happening. And now they 
might tell him of happenings that would let him guess if Hela 
had indeed turned her thoughts towards Asgard, or if she had 
the power to draw one down to her dismal abode. 

The ravens flew to him, and lighting one on each of his 
shoulders, told him of things that were being said up and down 
Ygdrassil, the World Tree. Ratatosk the Squirrel was saying 
them. And Ratatosk had heard them from the brood of ser- 
pents that with Nidhogg, the great dragon, gnawed ever at the 
root of Ygdrassil. He told it to the Eagle that sat ever on the top- 
most bough, that in Hela's habitation a bed was spread and a 
chair was left empty for some lordly comer. 



igo CHILDREN OF ODIN 

And hearing this, Odin thought that it were better that Fenrir 
the Wolf should range ravenously through Asgard than that 
Hela should win one from amongst them" to fill that chair and 
lie in that bed. 

IE mounted Sleipner, his eight-legged stieed, and 
rode down towards the abodes of the Dead. For 
three days and three nights of silence and dark- 
ness he journeyed on. Once one of the hounds 
of Helheim broke loose and bayed upon Sleipner's 
tracks. For a day and a night Garm, the hound, 
pursued them, and Odin smelled the blood that dripped from 
his monstrous jaws. 

At last he came to where, wrapped in their shrouds, a field 
of the Dead lay. He dismounted from Sleipner and called upon 
one to rise and speak with him. It was on Volva, a dead 
prophetess, he called. And when he pronounced her name he 
uttered a rune that had the power to break the sleep of 
the Dead. 

There was a groaning in the naiddle of where the shrouded ones 
lay. Then Odin cried out, "Arise, Volva, prophetess." There 
was a stir in the middle of where the shrouded ones lay, and a 
head and shoulders were thrust up from amongst the Dead. 

' ' Who calls on Volva the Prophetess ? The rains have drenched 
my flesh and the storms have shaken my bones for more seasons 
than the living know. No living voice has a right to call me from 
my sleep with the Dead." 



THE WITCH'S HEART 191 

"It is Vegtam the Wanderer who calls. For whom is the bed 
prepared and the seat left empty in Hela's habitation?" 

"For Baldur, Odin's son, is the bed prepared and the seat 
left empty. Now let me go back to my sleep with the Dead." 

But now Odin saw beyond Volva's prophecy. "Who is it," 
he cried out, "that stands with unbowed head and that will 
not lament for Baldur? Answer, Volva, prophetess!" 

"Thou seest far, but thou canst not see clearly. Thou art 
Odin. I can see clearly but I caimot see far. Now let me go 
back to my sleep with the Dead." 

"Volva, prophetess !" Odin cried out again. 
But the voice from amongst the shrouded ones said, "Thou 
canst not wake me any more until the fires of Muspelheim blaze 
above my head." 

Then there was silence in the field of the Dead, and Odin turned 
Sleipner, his steed, and for four days, through the gloom and 
silence, he journeyed back to Asgard. 

IRIGGA had felt the fear that Odin had felt. 
She looked towards Baldur, and the shade of Hela 
came between her and her son. But then she 
heard the birds sing in the Peace Stead and she 

knew that none of all the things in the world 

would injure Baldur. 
And to make it sure she went to all the things that could hurt 
him and from each of them she took an oath that it would not 
injure Baldur, the Well-beloved. She took an oath from fire 



192 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

and from water, from iron and from all metals, from earths and 
stones and great trees, from birds and beasts and creeping things, 
from poisons and diseases. Very readily, they all gave the oath 
that they would work no injury on Baldur. 

Then when Frigga went back and told what she had accom- 
plished the gloom that had lain on Asgard lifted. Baldur would 
be spared to them. Hela might have a place prepared in her 
dark habitation, but neither fire nor water, nor iron nor any 
metal, nor earths nor stones nor great woods, nor birds nor beasts 
nor creeping things, nor poisons nor diseases, would help her to 
bring him down. "Hela has no arms to draw you to her," the 
jEsir and the Vanir cried to Baldur. 

Hope was renewed for them and they made games to honour 
Baldur. They had him stand in the Peace Stead and they brought 
against him all the things that had sworn to leave him hurtless. 
And neither the battle-axe flung full at him, nor the stone out of 
the sling, nor the burning brand, nor the deluge of water would in- 
jure the beloved of Asgard. The ^Esir and the Vanir laughed joy- 
ously to see these things fall harmlessly from him while a throng 
came to join them in the games ; Dwarfs and friendly Giants. 

But Loki the Hater came in with that throng. He watched 
the games from afar. He saw the missiles and the weapons 
being flimg and he saw Baldur stand smiling and happy under 
the strokes of metal and stones and great woods. He wondered 
at the sight, but he knew that he might not ask the meaning of 
it from the ones who knew him. 



THE WITCH'S HEART 193 

He changed his shape into that of an old woman and he went 
amongst those who were making sport for Baldur. He spoke 
to Dwarfs and friendly Giants. " Go to Frigga and ask. Go to 
Frigga and ask," was all the answer Loki got from any of them. 

Then to Fensalir, Frigga's mansion, Loki went. He told those 
in the mansion that he was Groa, the old Enchantress who was 
drawing out of Thor's head the fragments of a grindstone that 
a Giant's throw had embedded in it. Frigga knew about Groa 
and she praised the Enchantress for what she had done. 

"Many fragments of the great grindstone have I taken out 
of Thor's head by the charms I know," said the pretended Groa, 
"Thor was so grateful that he brought back to me the husband 
that he once had carried off to the end of the earth. So over- 
joyed was I to find my husband restored that I forgot the rest 
of the charms. And I left some fragments of the stone in Thor's 
head." 

So Loki said, repeating a story that was true. " Now I remem- 
ber the rest of the charm," he said, "and I can draw out the 
fragments of the stone that are left. But will you not tell me, 
O Queen, what is the meaning of the extraordinary things I 
saw the ^Esir and the Vanir doing?" 

"I will tell you," said Frigga, looking kindly and happily 
at the pretended old woman. "They are hurling all manner of 
heavy and dangerous things at Baldur, my beloved son. And all 
Asgard cheers to see that neither metal nor stone nor great wood 
will hurt him." 



194 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"But why will they not hurt him?" said the pretended En- 
chantress. 

"Because I have drawn an oath from all dangerous and threat- 
ening things to leave Baldur hurtless," said Frigga. 

"From all things, lady? Is there no thing in all the world 
that has not taken an oath to leave Baldur hurtless?" 

"Well, indeed, there is one thing that has not taken the oath. 
But that thing is so small and weak that I passed it by without 
taking thought of it." 

"What can it be, lady?" 

"The Mistletoe that is without root or strength. It grows on 
the eastern side of Valhalla. I passed it by without drawing an 
oath from it." 

"Surely you were not wrong to pass it by. What could the 
Mistletoe — the rootless Mistletoe — do against Baldur?" 

Saying this the pretended Enchantress hobbled off. 

But not far did the pretender go hobbling. He changed his 
gait and hurried to the eastern side of Valhalla. There a great 
oak tree flourished and out of a branch of it a little bush of 
Mistletoe grew. Loki broke off a spray and with it in his hand 
he went to where the ^sir and the Vanir were still playing 
games to honour Baldur. 

All were laughing as Loki drew near, for the Giants and the 
Dwarfs, the Asyniur and the Vana, were all casting missiles. 
The Giants threw too far and the Dwarfs could not throw far 
enough, while the Asjmiur and the Vana threw far and wide 



THE WITCH'S HEART 195 

of the mark. In the midst of all that glee and gamesomeness 
it was strange to see one standing joyless. But one stood so, 
and he was of the iEsir — Hodur, Baldur's blind brother. 

"Why do you not enter the game?" said Loki to him in his 
changed voice. 

"I have no missile to throw at Baldur," Hodur said. 

"Take this and throw it," said Loki. "It is a twig of the 
Mistletoe." 

"I cannot see to throw it," said Hodur. 

"I wiU guide your hand," said Loki. He put the twig of 
Mistletoe in Hodur's hand and he guided the hand for the 
throw. The twig flew towards Baldur. It struck him on the 
breast and it pierced him. Then Baldur fell down with a deep 
groan. 

The ^sir and the Vanir, the Dwarfs and the friendly Giants, 
stood still in doubt and fear and amazement. Loki slipped 
away. And blind Hodur, from whose hand the twig of Mistletoe 
had gone, stood quiet, not knowing that his throw had bereft 
Baldur of life. 

Then a wailing rose around the Peace Stead. It was from the 
Asyniur and the Vana. Baldur was dead, and they began to 
lament him. And while they were lamenting him, the beloved 
of Asgard, Odin came amongst them. 

"Hela has won our Baldur from us," Odin said to Frigga as 
they both bent over the body of their beloved son. 

"Nay, I will not say it," Frigga said. 



196 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

When the Msii and the Vanir had won their senses back the 
mother of Baldur went amongst them. "Who amongst you 
would win my love and good-will?" she said. "Whoever would 
let him ride down to Hela's dark realm and ask the Queen to 
take ransom for Baldur. It may be she will take it and let Baldur 
come back to us. Who amongst you will go? Odin's steed is 
ready for the journey." 

Then forth stepped Hermod the Nimble, the brother of Baldur. 
He%iounted Sleipner and turned the eight-legged steed down 
towards Hela's dark realm. 

OR nine days and nine nights Hermod rode on. 
His way was through rugged glens, one deeper 
and darker than the other. He came to the river 
that is called Gioll and to the bridge across it 

that is all glittering with gold. The pale maid 

who guards the bridge spoke to him. 

"The hue of life is still on thee," said Modgudur, the pale 
maid. "Why dost thou journey down to Hela's deathly realm?" 

"I am Hermod," he said, "and I go to see if Hela will take 
ransom for Baldur." 

"Fearful is Hela's habitation for one to come to," said Mod- 
gudur, the pale maid. "All round it is a steep wall that even thy 
steed might hardly leap. Its threshold is Precipice. The bed 
therein is Care, the table is Hunger, the hanging of the chamber 
is Burning Anguish." 

"It may be that Hela will take ransom for Baldur." 



THE WITCH'S HEART 197 

"If all things in the world still lament for Baldur, Hela will 
have to take ransom and let him go from her," said Modgudur, 
the pale maid that guards the glittering bridge. 

"It is well, then, for all things lament Baldur. I will go to her 
and make her take ransom." 

"Thou mayst not pass until it is of a surety that all things 
still lament him. Go back to the world and make sure. If thou 
dost come to this glittering bridge and tell me that all things 
still lament Baldur, I will let thee pass and Hela will have to 
hearken to thee." 

"I will come back to thee, and thou, Modgudur, pale maid, 
wilt have to let me pass." 

"Then I will let thee pass," said Modgudur. 

Joyously Hermod turned Sleipner and rode back through 
the rugged glens, each one less gloomy than the other. He 
reached the upper world, and he saw that all things were still 
lamenting for Baldur. Joyously Hermod rode onward. He 
met the Vanir in the middle of the world and he told them the 
happy tidings. 

Then Hermod and the Vanir went through the world seeking 
out each thing and finding that each thing still wept for Baldur. 
But one day Hermod came upon a crow that was sitting on the 
dead branch of a tree. The crow made no lament as he came 
near. She rose up and flew away and Hermod followed her to 
make sure that she lamented for Baldur. 

He lost sight of her near a cave. And then before the cave 



198 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

he saw a hag with blackened teeth who raised no voice of lament. 
"If thou art the crow that came flying here, make lament for 
Baldur," Hermod said. 

"I, Thaukt, will make no lament for Baldur," the hag said, 
"let Hela keep what she holds." 
"All things weep tears for Baldur," Hermod said. 
"I will weep dry tears for him," said the hag. 
She hobbled into her cave, and as Hermod followed a crow 
fluttered out. He knew that this was Thaukt, the evil hag, 
transformed. He followed her, and she went through the world 
croaking, "Let Hela keep what she holds. Let Hela keep what 
she holds." 

Then Hermod knew that he might not ride to Hela's habita- 
tion. All things knew that there was one thing in the world 
that would not lament for Baldur. The Vanir came back to 
him, and with head bowed over Sleipner's mane, Hermod rode 
into Asgard. 

OW the Msir and the Vanir, knowing that no 

ransom would be taken for Baldur and that 

the joy and content of Asgard were gone indeed, 

made ready his body for the burning. First they 

covered Baldur's body with a rich robe, and 

each left beside it his most precious possession. 

Then they all took leave of him, kissing him upon the brow. 

But Nanna, his gentle wife, flung herself on his dead breast and 

her heart broke and she died of her grief. Then did the ^Esir 



THE WITCH'S HEART 199 

and the Vanir weep afresh. And they took the body of Nanna 
and they placed it side by side with Baldur's. 

On his own great ship, Ringhorn, would Baldur be placed 
with Nanna beside him. Then the ship would be launched on 
the water and all would be burned with fire. 

But it was found that none of the ^sir or the Vanir were 
able to launch Baldur's great ship. Hyrroken, a Giantess, was 
sent for. She came mounted on a great wolf with twisted ser- 
pents for a bridle. Four Giants held fast the wolf when she 
alighted. She came to the ship and with a single push she sent 
it into the sea. The rollers struck out fire as the ship dashed 
across them. 

Then when it rode the water fires mounted on the ship. And 
in the blaze of the fires one was seen bending over the body of 
Baldur and whispering into his ear. It was Odin All-Father. 
Then he went down off the ship and all the fires rose into a mighty 
burning. Speechlessly the ^sir and the Vanir watched with 
tears streaming down their faces while all things lamented, cry- 
ing, "Baldur the Beautiful is dead, is dead." 

And what was it that Odin All-Father whispered to Baldur 
as he bent above him with the flames of the burning ship around? 
He whispered of a heaven above Asgard that Surtur's flames 
might not reach, and of a life that would come to beauty again 
after the world of men and the world of the Gods had been 
searched through and through with fire. 



900 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 




HE crow went flying towards the North, croaking 
as she flew, "Let Hela keep what she holds. Let 
Hela keep what she holds." That crow was the 
hag Thaukt transformed, and the hag Thaukt 
was Loki. 
He flew to the North and came into the wastes 
of Jotunheim. As a crow he lived there, hiding himself from 
the wrath of the Gods. He told the Giants that the time had 
come for them to build the ship Naglfar, the ship that was to be 
built out of the nails of dead men, and that was to sail to Asgard 
on the day of Ragnarok with the Giant Hrymer steering it. 
And barkening to what he said the Giants then and there 




THE WITCH'S HEART 201 

began to build Naglfar, the ship that Gods and men wished to 
remain unbuilt for long. 

Then Loki, tiring of the wastes of Jotunheim, flew to the 
burning South. As a lizard he lived amongst the rocks of Mus- 
pelheim, and he made the Fire Giants rejoice when he told them 
of the loss of Frey's sword and of Tyr's right hand. 

But still in Asgard there was one who wept for Loki — Siguna, 
his wife. Although he had left her and had shown his hatred 
for her, Sigima wept for her evil husband. 

He left Muspelheim as he had left Jotunheim and he came 
to live in the world of men. He knew that he had now come into 
a place where the wrath of the Gods might find him, and so he 
made plans to be ever ready for escape. He had come to the 
River where, ages before, he had slain the otter that was the 
son of the Enchanter, and on the very rock where the otter had 
eaten the salmon on the day of his killing, Loki built his house. 
He made four doors to it so that he might see in every direction. 
And the power that he kept for himself was the power of trans- 
forming himself into a sahnon. 

Often as a salmon he swam in the River. But even for the 
fishes that swam beside him Loki had hatred. Out of flax and 
yarn he wove a net that men might have the means of taking 
them out of the water. 

The wrath that the Gods had against Loki did not pass away. 
It was he who, as Thaukt, the Hag, had given Hela the power to 
keep Baldur unransomed. It was he who had put into Hodur's 



202 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

hiaiid the sprig of Mistletoe that had bereft Baldur of life. 
Empty was Asgard now that Baldur lived no more in the Peace 
Stead, and stern, and gloomy grew the miads of the Msir and the 
Vanir with thinking on the direful things that were arrayed 
against them. Odin in his hall of Valhalla thought only of the 
ways by which he could bring heroes to him to be his help in 
defending Asgard. 

The Gods searched through the world and they found at last 
the place where Loki had made his dwelling. He was weaving 
the net to take fishes when he saw them coming from four direc- 
tions. He threw the net into the fire so that it was burnt, and 
he sprang into the River and transformed himself into a salmon. 
When the Gods entered his dwelling they found only the burnt- 
out fire. 

But there was one amongst them who could understand all 
that he saw. In the ashes were the marks of the burnt net and 
he knew that these were the tracing of something to catch fishes. 
And from the marks left in the ashes he made a net that was the 
same as the one Loki had burnt. 

With it in their hands the Gk)ds went down the River, dragging 
the net through the water. Loki was affrighted to find the thing 
of his own weaving brought against him. He lay between two 
stones at the bottom of the River, and the net passed over him. 

But the Gods knew that the net had touched something at 
the bottom. They fastened weights to it and they dragged the 
net through the River again. Loki knew that he might Jiot 



THE WITCH'S HEART 203 

escape it this time and he rose in the water and swam towards 
the sea. The Gods caught sight of him as he leaped over a water- 
fall. They followed him, dragging the net. Thor waded behind, 
ready to seize him should he turn back. 

Loki came out at the mouth of the River and behold ! there 
was a great eagle hovering over the waves of the sea and ready 
to swoop down on fishes. He turned back in the River. He made 
a leap that took him over the net that the Gods were dragging. 
But Tbor was behind the net and he caught the salmon in his 
powerful hands and he held him for all the struggle that Loki 
made. No fish had ever struggled so before. Loki got himself 
free all but his tail, but Thor held to the tail and brought him 
amongst the rocks and forced him to take on his proper form. 

He was in the hands of those whose wrath was strong against 
him. They brought him to a cavern and they bound him to three 
sharp-pointed rocks. With cords that were made of the sinews 
of wolves they bound him, and they transformed the cords 
into iron bands. There they would have left Loki bound and 
helpless. But Skadi, with her fierce Giant blood, was not content 
that he should be left untormented. She found a serpent that 
had deadly venom and she hung this serpent above Loki's head. 
The drops of venom fell upon him, bringing him anguish drop by 
drop, minute by minute. So Loki's torture went on. 

But Siguna with the pitying heart came to his relief. She 
exiled herself from Asgard, and endured the darkness and the 
cold of the cavern, that she might take some of the torment away 



204 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

from him who was her husband. Over Loki Siguna stood, hold- 
ing in her hands a cup into which fell the serpent's venom, thus 
sparing him from the full measure of anguish. Now and then 
Siguna had to turn aside to spill out the flowing cup, and then the 
drops of venom fell upon Loki and he screamed in agony, twist- 
ing in his bonds. It was then that men felt the earth quake. 
There in his bonds Loki stayed until the coming of Ragnarok, 
the Twilight of the Gods. 



Part IV 

THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS AND THE 
TWILIGHT OF THE GODS 




emm6 dR37C Volsun^s 
QDdf^e^(Dl(tCil7foTfl7eGods| 




® 3§aRd^s muxjh ® 



IN Midgard, in a northern Kingdom, a King reigned 
whose name was Alv; he was wise and good, 
and he had in his house a foster-son whose name 
was Sigurd. 

Sigurd was fearless and strong; so fearless and 
so strong was he that he once captured a bear of 
the forest and drove him to the King's Hall. His mother's name 
was Hiordis. Once, before Sigurd was bom, Alv and his father 
who was King before him went on an expedition across the sea 
and came into another country. While they were yet afar off 
they heard the din of a great battle. They came to the battle- 

207 



2o8 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

field, but they found no living warriors on it, only heaps of slain. 
One warrior they marked : he was white-bearded and old and 
yet he seemed the noblest-looking man Alv or his father had 
ever looked on. His arms showed that he was a King amongst 
one of the bands of warriors. 

They went through the forest searching for survivors of the 
battle. And, hidden in a dell in the forest, they came upon two 
women. One was tall with blue, unflinching eyes and ruddy hair, 
but wearing the garb of a serving-maid. The other wore the rich 
dress of a Queen, but she was of low stature and her manner was 
covert and shrinking. 

When Alv and his father drew near, the one who had on her 
the raiment of a Queen said, " Help us, lords, and protect us, and 
we will show you where a treasure is hidden. A great battle 
has been fought between the men of King Lygni and the men of 
King Sigmund, and the men of King Lygni have won the victory 
and have gone from the field. But King Sigmund is slain, and 
we who are of his household hid his treasure and we can show it 
to you." 

"The noble warrior, white-haired and white-bearded, who 
lies yonder — is he King Sigmund?" 
I ; The woman answered, "Yes, lord, and I am his Queen." 

"We have heard of King Sigmund," said Alv's father. "His 
fame and the fame of his race, the Volsungs, is over the wide 
world." 

Alv said no word to either of the women, but his eyes stayed 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 209 

on the one who had on the garb of a serving-maid. She was on 
her knees, wrapping in a beast's skin two pieces of a broken 
sword. 

"You will surely protect us, good lords," said she who had on 
the queenly dress. 

"Yea, wife of King Sigmund, we will protect you and your 
serving-maid," said Alv's father, the old King. 

Then the women took the warriors to a wild place on the sea- 
shore and they showed them where King Sigmund's treasure 
was hidden amongst the rocks : cups of gold and mighty arm- 
rings and jewelled collars. Prince Alv and his father put the 
treasure on the ship and brought the two women aboard. Then 
they sailed from that land. 

That was before Sigiurd, the foster-son of King Alv, was 
born. 

Now the mother of Alv was wise and little of what she saw 
escaped her noting. She saw that of the two women that her 
son and her husband had brought into their kingdom, the one 
who wore the dress of the serving-maid had unflinching eyes 
and a high beauty, while the one who wore the queenly dress 
was shrinking and unstately. One night when all the women of 
the household were sitting round her, spinning wool by the light 
of torches in the hall, the Queen-mother said to the one who wore 
the queenly garb : 

"Thou art good at rising in the morning. How dost thou know 
in the dark hours when it wears to dawn?" 



210 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

The one clad in the queenly garb said, "When I was young 
I used to rise to milk the cows, and I waken ever since at the 
same hour." 

The Queen-mother said to herself, "It is a strange coimtry 
in which the royal maids rise to milk the cows." 

Then she said to the one who wore the clothes of the serving- 
maid: 

"How dost thou know in the dark hours when the dawn is 
coming?" 

"My father," she said, "gave me the ring of gold that I wear, 
and always before it is time to rise I feel it grow cold on my 
finger." 

"It is a strange country, truly," said the Queen-mother to 
herself, "in which the serving-maids wear rings of gold." 

When aU the others had left she spoke to the two women who 
had been brought into her coimtry. To the one who wore the 
clothes of a serving-maid she said : 

"Thou art the Queen." 

Then the one who wore the queenly clothes said, "Thou art 
right, lady. She is the Queen, and I cannot any longer pretend 
to be other than I am." 

Then the other woman spoke. Said she: "I am the Queen 
as thou hast said — the Queen of Kiag Sigmund who was slain. 
Because a King sought for me I changed clothes with my serv- 
ing-maid, my wish being to baffle those who might be sent to 
carry me away. 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 211 

"Know that I am Hiordis, a King's daughter. Many men 
came to my father to ask for me in marriage, and of those that 
came there were two whom I heard much of: one was King 
Lygni and the other was King Sigmund of the race of the Vol- 
sungs. The King, my father, told me it was for me to choose 
between these two. Now King Sigmund was old, but he was the 
most famous warrior in the whole world, and I chose him rather 
than King Lygni. 

"We were wed. But King Lygni did not lose desire of me, 
and in a while he came against King Sigmund's kingdom with a 
great army of men. We hid our treasure by the sea-shore, and 
I and my maid watched the battle from the borders of the 
forest. With the help of Gram, his wondrous sword, and his own 
great warrior strength, Sigmund was able to harry the great 
force that came against him. But suddenly he was stricken 
down. Then was the battle lost. Only King Lygni's men sur- 
vived it, and they scattered to search for me and the treasure of 
the King. 

"I came to where my lord lay on the field of battle, and he 
raised himself on his shield when I came, and he told me that 
death was very near him. A stranger had entered the battle 
at the time when it seemed that the men of King Lygni must 
draw away. With the spear that he held in his hand he struck 
at Sigmund's sword, and Gram, the wondrous sword, was 
broken in two pieces. Then did King Sigmund get his death- 
wound. 'It must be I shaU die,' he said, 'for the spear against 



212 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

which my sword broke was Gungnir, Odin's spear. Only that 
spear could have shattered the sword that Odin gave my fathers. 
Now must I go to Valhalla, Odin's Hall of Heroes.' 

"'I weep,' I said, 'because I have no son who might call 
himself of the great race of the Volsungs.' 

"'For that you need not weep,' said Sigmund, 'a son will 
be born to you, my son and yours, and you shall name him Sigurd. 
Take now the broken pieces of my wondrous sword and give 
them to my son when he shall be of warrior age.' 

"Then did Sigmund turn his face to the ground and the death- 
struggle came on him. Odin's Valkyrie took his spirit from the 
battle-field. And I lifted up the broken pieces of the sword, 
and with my serving-maid I went and hid in a deep dell in the 
forest. Then your husband and your son found us and they 
brought us to your kingdom where we have been kindly entreated, 
O Queen." 

Such was the history that Hiordis, the wife of King Sigmund, 
told to the mother of Prince Alv. 

Soon afterwards the child was born to her that was Sigmund's 
son. Sigurd she named him. And after Sigurd was bom the old 
King died and Prince Alv became King in his stead. He married 
Hiordis, she of the ruddy hair, the unflinching ways, and the 
high beauty, and he brought up her son Sigurd in his house as 
his foster-son. 

Sigurd, the son of Sigmund, before he came to warrior's age, 
was known for his strength and his swiftness and for the fear- 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 213 

lessness that shone round him like a glow. "Mighty was the 
race he sprang from, the Volsung race," men said, "but Sigurd 
will be as mighty as any that have gone before him." He built 
himself a hut in the forest that he might hunt wild beasts and 
live near to one who was to train him in many crafts. 

This one was Regin, a maker of swords and a cunning man 
besides. It was said of Regin that he was an Enchanter and that 
he had been in the world for longer than the generations of men. 
No one remembered, nor no one's father remembered, when Regin 
had come into that country. He taught Sigurd the art of work- 
ing in metals and he taught him, too, the lore of other days. But 
ever as he taught him he looked at Sigurd strangely, not as a 
man looks at his fellow, but as a lynx looks at a stronger beast. 

One day Regin said to young Sigurd, "King Alv has thy 
father's treasure, men say, and yet he treats thee as if thou wert 
thrall-born." 

Now Sigurd knew that Regin said this that he might anger 
him and thereafter use him to his own ends. He said, "King 
Alv is a wise and a good King, and he would let me have riches 
if I had need of them." 

"Thou dost go about as a foot-boy, and not as a King's son." 

"Any day that it likes me I might have a horse to ride," 
Sigurd said. 

"So thou dost say," said Regin, and he turned from Sigurd 
.and went to blow the fire of his smithy. 1 

Sigurd was made angry and he threw down the irons on which 



214 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

he was working and he ran to the horse-pastures by the great 
River. A herd of horses was there, grey and black and roan and 
chestnut, the best of the horses that King Alv possessed. As 
he came near to where the herd grazed he saw a stranger near, 
an ancient but robust man, wearing a strange cloak of blue and 
leaning on a staff to watch the horses. Sigurd, though young, 
had seen Kings in their halls, but this man had a bearing that 
was more lofty than any King's he had ever looked on. 

"Thou art going to choose a horse for thyself," said the stranger 
to Sigurd. 

"Yea, father," Sigurd said. 

"Drive the herd first into the River," the stranger said. 

Sigurd drove the horses into the wide River. Some were swept 
down by the current, others struggled back and clambered up 
the bank of the pastures. But one swam across the river, and 
throwing up his head neighed as for a victory. Sigurd marked 
him ; a grey horse he was, yoimg and proud, with a great flowing 
mane. He went through the water and caught this horse, 
mounted him, and brought him back across the River. 

"Thou hast done well," said the stranger. "Grani, whom 
thou hast got, is of the breed of Sleipner, the horse of Odin." 

"And I am of the race of the sons of Odin," cried Sigurd, his 
eyes wide and shining with the very light of the sun. "I am of 
the race of the sons of Odin, for my father was Sigmund, and his 
father was Volsung, and his father was Rerir, and bis father was 
Sigi, who was the son of Odin." 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 215 

The stranger, leaning on his staff, looked on the youth steadily. 
Only one of his eyes was to be seen, but that eye, Sigurd thought, 
might see through a stone. "All thou hast named," the stranger 
said, "were as swords of Odin to send men to ValhaUa, Odin's 
Hall of Heroes. And of all that thou hast named there were 
none but were chosen by Odin's Valkyries for battles in Asgard." 

Cried Sigurd, "Too much of what is brave and noble in the 
world is taken by Odin for his battles in Asgard." 

The stranger leaned on his staff and his head was bowed. 
"What wouldst thou?" he said, and it did not seem to Sigurd 
that he spoke to him. "What wouldst thou? The leaves wither 
and fall off Ygdrassil, and the day of Ragnarok comes." Then 
he raised his head and spoke to Sigurd. "The time is near," 
he said, "when thou mayst possess thyself of the pieces of thy 
father's sword." 

Then the man in the strange cloak of blue went climbing up 
the hill and Sigurd watched him pass away from his sight. He 
had held back Grani, his proud horse, but now he turned him and 
let him gallop along the River in a race that was as swift as the 
wind. 



. 2l6 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 




5heDRa<5©n "fafhiR 



® 



OUNTED upon Grani, his proud horse, Sigurd 
rode to the Hall and showed himself to Alv, 
the King, and to Hiordis, his mother. Before 
the Hall he shouted out the Volsung name, and 
King Alv felt as he watched him that this 
youth was a match for a score of men, and 
Hiordis, his mother, saw the blue flame of his eyes and thought 




THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 217 

to herself that his way through the world would be as the way 
of the eagle through the air. 

Having shown himself before the Hall, Sigurd dismounted 
from Grani, and stroked and caressed him with his hands and 
told him that now he might go back and take pasture with the 
herd. The proud horse breathed fondly over Sigurd and bounded 
away. 

Then Sigurd strode on until he came to the hut in the forest 
where he worked with the cunning smith Regin. No one was 
in the hut when he entered. But over the anvil, in the smoke 
of the smithy fire, there was a work of Regin's hands. Sigurd 
looked upon it, and a hatred for the thing that was shown rose 
up in him. 

The work of Regin's hands was a shield, a great shield of 
iron. Hammered out on that shield and coloured with red and 
brown colours was the image of a Dragon, a Dragon lengthening 
himself out of a cave. Sigurd thought it was the image of the 
most hateful thing in the world, and the light of the smithy fire 
falling on it, and the smoke of the smithy fire rising round it, 
made it seem verily a Dragon living in his own element of fire 
and reek. 

While he was still gazing on the loathly image, Regin, the 
cunning smith, came into the smithy. He stood by the wall 
and he watched Sigurd. His back was bent; his hair fellover 
his eyes that were all fiery, and he looked like a beast that runs 
behind the hedges. ' 



2i8 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"Aye, thou dost look on Fafnir the Dragon, son of the Vol- 
sungs," he said to Sigurd. " Mayhap it is thou who wilt slay him." 

"I would not strive with such a beaSt. He is all horrible to 
me," Sigurd said. 

"With a good sword thou mightst slay him and win for thy- 
self more renown than ever thy fathers had," Regin whispered. 

" I shall win renown as my fathers won renown, in battle with 
men and in conquest of kingdoms," Sigurd said. 

"Thou art not a true Volsimg or thou wouldst gladly go where 
most danger and dread is," said Regin. "Thou hast heard of 
Fafnir the Dragon, whose image I have wrought here. If thou 
dost ride to the crest of the hills thou mayst look across to the 
desolate land where Fafnir has his haunt. Know that once it 
was fair land where men had peace and prosperity, but Fafnir 
came and made his den in a cave near by, and his breathings 
as he went to and came from the River withered up the land and 
made it the barren waste that men call Gnita Heath. Now, 
if thou art a true Volsung, thou wilt slay the Dragon, and let that 
land become fair again, and bring the people back to it and so 
add to King Alv's domain." 

"I have nought to do with the slaying of Dragons," Sigurd 
said. " I have to make war on King Lygni, and avenge upon him 
the sla3dng of Sigmund, my father." 

"What is the slaying of Lygni and the conquest of his king- 
dom to the slaying of Fafnir the Dragon?" Regin cried. "I will 
tell thee what no one else knows of Fafnir the Dragon. He 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 219 

guards a hoard of gold and jewels the like of which was never 
seen in the world. All this hoard you can make yours by slay- 
ing him." 

"I do not covet riches," Sigurd said. 

"No riches is like to the riches that Fafnir guards. His hoard 
is the hoard that the Dwarf Andvari had from the world's early 
days. Once the Gods themselves paid it over as a ransom. And 
if thou wilt win this hoard thou wilt be as one of the Gods." 

"How dost thou know that of which thou speakst, Regin?" 
Sigurd said. 

" I know, and one day I may tell thee how I know." 

" And one day I may harken to thee. But speak to me no more 
of this Dragon. I would have thee make a sword, a sword that 
will be mightier and better shapen than any sword in the world. 
Thou canst do this, Regin, for thou art accounted the best sword- 
smith amongst men." 

Regin looked at Sigurd out of his small and cunning eyes and 
he thought it was best to make himself active. So he took the 
weightiest pieces of iron and put them into his furnace and he 
brought out the secret tools that he used when a master-work 
was claimed from his hands. 

All day Sigurd worked beside him keeping the fire at its best 
glow and bringing water to cool the blade as it was fashioned and 
re-fashioned. And as he worked he thought only about the blade 
and about how he would make war upon King Lygni, and avenge 
the man who was slain before he himself was born. 



220 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

All day he thought only of war and of the beaten blade. But 
at night his dreams were not upon wars nor shapen blades but 
upon Fafnir the Dragon. He saw the heath that was left barren 
by his breath, and he saw the cave where he had his den, and he 
saw him crawling down from his cave, his scales glittering like 
rings of mail, and his length the length of a company of men on 
the march. 

The next day he worked with Regin to shape the great sword. 
When it was shapen with all the cunning Regin knew it looked 
indeed a mighty sword. Then Regin sharpened it and Sigurd 
polished it. And at last he held the great sword by its iron hilt. 

Then Sigurd took the shield that had the image 6i Fafnir 
the Dragon upon it and he put the shield over the anvil of the 
smithy. Raising the great sword in both his hands he struck 
full on the iron shield. 

The stroke of the sword sheared away some of the shield, but 
the blade broke in Sigurd's hands. Then in anger he turned on 
Regin, cr3dng out, "Thou hast made a knave's sword for me. To 
work with thee again ! Thou must make me a Volsimg's sword." 

Then he went out and called to Grani, his horse, and mounted 
him and rode to the river bank like the sweep of the wind. 

Regin took more pieces of iron and began to forge a new sword, 
uttering as he worked runes that were about the hoard that 
Fafnir the Dragon guarded. And Sigurd that night dreamt of 
glittering treasure that he coveted not, masses of gold and heaps 
of glistening jewels. 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 221 

He was Regin's help the next day and they both worked to 
make a sword that would be mightier than the first. For three 
days they worked upon it, and then Regin put into Sigurd's 
hands a sword, sharpened and polished, that was mightier and 
more splendid looking than the one that had been forged before. 
And again Sigurd took the shield that had the image of the 
Dragon upon it and he put it upon the anvil. Then he raised his 
arms and struck his full blow. The sword cut through the shield, 
but when it struck the anvil it shivered in his hands. 

He left the smithy angrily and called to Grani, his proud 
horse. He mounted and rode on like the sweep of the wind. 

Later he came to his mother's bower and stood before Hiordis. 
"A greater sword must I have," said he, "than one that is made 
of metal dug out of the earth. The time has come, mother, when 
thou must put into my hands the broken pieces of Gram, the 
sword of Sigmimd and the Volsungs." 

Hiordis measured him with the glance of her eyes, and she saw 
that her son was a mighty youth and one fit to use the sword of 
Sigmund and the Volsungs. She bade him go with her to the 
Ring's Hall. Out of the great stone chest that was in her cham- 
ber she took the beast's skin and the broken blade that was 
wrapped in it. She gave the pieces into the hands of her son. 
"Behold the halves of Gram," she said, "of Gram, the mighty 
sword that in the far-off days Odin left in the Branstock, in the 
tree of the house of Volsung. I would see Gram new-shapen in 
thy hands, my son." 



222 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Then she embraced him as she had never embraced him before, 
and standing there with her ruddy hair about her she told him 
of the glory of Gram and of the deeds* of his fathers in whose 
hands the sword had shone. 

Then Sigurd went to the smithy, and he wakened Regin out 
of his sleep, and he made him look on the shining halves of Sig- 
mund's sword. He commanded him to make out of these halves 
a sword for his hand. 

Regin worked for days in his smithy and Sigurd never left his 
side. At last the blade was forged, and when Sigurd held it in 
his hand fire ran along the edge of it. 

Again he laid the shield that had the image of the Dragon 
upon it on the anvil of the smithy. Again, with his hands 
on its iron hilt, he raised the sword for a full stroke. He struck, 
and the sword cut through the shield and sheared through the 
anvil, cutting away its iron horn. Then did Sigurd know that 
he had in his hands the Volsungs' sword. He went without and 
called to Grani, and like the sweep of the wind rode down to the 
River's bank. Shreds of wool were floating down the water. 
Sigurd struck at them with his sword, and the fine wool was 
divided against the water's edge. Hardness and fineness, Gram 
could cut through both. 

That night Gram, the Volsungs' sword, was under his head 
when he slept, but still his dreams were filled with images that 
he had not regarded in the day time ; the shine of a hoard that 
he coveted not, and the gleam of the scales of a Dragon that was 
too loathly for him to battle with. 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 



223 




"^be DRa<^0T7*5 Bleed 



IIGURD went to war; with the men that King 
Alv gave him he marched into the country that 
was ruled over by the slayer of his father. The 
war that he waged was short and the battles that 
he won were not perilous. Old was King Lygni 
now, and feeble was his grasp upon his people. 

Sigurd slew him and took away his treasure and added his 

lands to the lands of King Alv. 
But Sigurd was not content with the victory he had gained. 

He had dreamt of stark battles and of renown that would be 



224 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

hardily won. What was the war he had waged to the wars that 
Sigmund his father, and Volsung his father's father, had waged 
in their days? Not content was Sigurd. He led his men back 
by the hills from the crests of which he could look upon the 
Dragon's haunts. And having come as far as those hills he bade 
his men return to King Alv's hall with the spoils he had won. 

They went, and Sigurd stayed upon the hiUs and looked across 
Gnita Heath to where Fafnir the Dragon had his lair. All 
blasted and wasted was the Heath with the fiery breath of the 
Dragon. And he saw the cave where Fafnir abode, and he saw the 
track that his comings and goings made. For every day the 
Dragon left his cave in the clififs, crossing the Heath to come to 
the River at which he drank. 

For the length of a day Sigurd watched from the hills the haunt 
of the Dragon. In the evening he saw him lengthening himself 
out of the cave, and coming on his track across the Heath, in 
seeining like a ship that travels swiftly because of its many oars. 

Then to Regin in his smithy he came. To that cunning man 
Sigurd said: 

"Tell me all thou dost know of Fafnir the Dragon." 

Regin began to talk, but his speech was old and strange and 
filled with runes. When he had spoken it all Sigurd said, "All 
thou hast told me thou wilt have to say over again in a speech 
that is known to men of our day." 

Then said Regin : "Of a hoard I spoke. The Dwarf Andvari 
guarded it from the first days of the world. But one of the ..Esir 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 225 

forced Andvari to give the hoard to him, masses of gold and 
heaps of jewels, and the jEsir gave it to Hreidmar, who was my 
father. 

"For the sla3Tng of his son Otter the ^Esir gave the hoard 
to Hreidmar, the greatest hoard that had ever been seen in the 
world. But not long was it left to Hreidmar to gloat over. For 
a son slew a father that he might possess that hoard. Fafnir, 
that son was Fafnir, my brother. 

"Then Fafnir, that no one might disturb his possession of the 
hoard, turned himself into a Dragon, a Dragon so fearful that 
none dare come nigh him. And I, Regin, was stricken with 
covetousness of the hoard. I did not change myself into another 
being, but, by the magic my father knew, I made my life longer 
than the generations of men, hoping that I would see Fafnir slain 
and then have the mighty hoard under my hands. 

"Now, son of the Volsungs, thou dost know all that has to do 
with Fafnir the Dragon, and the great hoard that he guards." 

"Little do I care about the hoard he guards," Sigurd said. 
"I care only that he has made the King's good lands into a 
waste and that he is an evil thing to men. I would have the 
renown of slaying Fafnir the Dragon." 

"With Gram, the sword thou hast, thou couldst slay Fafnir," 
Regin cried, his body shaken with his passion for the hoard. 
"Thou couldst slay him with the sword thou hast. Harken now 
and I wiU tell thee how thou mightst give him the deathly stroke 
through the coils of his mail. Harken, for I have thought of it all. 

Q 



226 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"The track of the Dragon to the River is broad, for he takes 
ever the one track. Dig a pit in the middle of that track, and 
when Fafnir comes over it strike up into his coils of mail with 
Gram, thy great sword. Gram only may pierce that mail. 
Then wiU Fafnir be slain and the hoard will be left guardless." 

"What thou sayst is wise, Regin," Sigurd answered. "We 
will make this pit and I will strike Fafnir in the way thou sayst." 

Then Sigurd went and he rode upon Grani, his proud horse, 
and he showed himself to King Alv and to Hiordis, his mother. 
Afterwards he went with Regin to the Heath that was the haunt 
of the Dragon, and in his track they dug a pit for the sla3Tng of 
Fafnir. 

And, lest his horse should scream aloud at the coming of the 
Dragon, Sigurd had Grani sent back to a cave in the hills. It 
was Regin that brought Grani away. "I am fearful and can do 
nothing to help thee, son of the Volsungs," he said. "I will go 
away and await the slaying of Fafnir," 

He went, and Sigurd lay down in the pit they had made and 
practised thrusting upward with his sword. He lay with his face 
upward and with his two hands he thrust the mighty sword 
upward. 

But as he lay there he bethought of a dread thing that might 
happen ; namely, that the blood and the venom of the Dragon 
might pour over him as he lay there, and waste him flesh and 
bone. When he thought of this Sigurd hastened out of the pit, 
and he dug other pits near by, and he made a passage for himself 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 227 

from one pit to the other that he might escape from the flow of 
the Dragon's envenomed blood. 

As he lay down again in the pit he heard the treading of the 
Dragon and he heard the Dragon's strange and mournful cry. 
Mightily the Dragon came on and he heard his breathing. His 
shape came over the pit. Then the Dragon held his head and 
looked down on Sigurd. 

It was the instant for him to make stroke with Gram. He did 
not let the instant pass. He struck mightily under the shoulder 
and towards the heart of the beast. The sword went through the 
hard and glittering scales that were the creature's mail. Sigurd 
pulled out the sword and drew himself through the passage 
and out into the second pit as Fafnir's envenomed blood 
drenched where he had been. 

Drawing himself up out of the second pit he saw the huge 
shape of Fafnir heaving and lashing. He came to him and thrust 
his sword right through the Dragon's neck. The Dragon 
reared up as though to fling himself down on Sigurd with all his 
crushing bulk and dread talons, with his fiery breath and his 
envenomed blood. But Sigurd leaped aside and ran far off. 
Then did Fafnir scream his death scream. After he had torn up 
rocks with his talons he lay prone on the ground, his head in the 
pit that was filled with his envenomed blood. 

Then did Regin, hearing the scream that let him know that 
Fafnir was slain, come down to where the battle had been fought. 
When he saw that Sigurd was alive and unharmed he uttered a 



228 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

cry of fury. For his plan had been to have Sigurd drowned and 
burnt in the pit with the stream of Fafnir's envenomed blood. 

But he mastered his fury and showed'a pleased countenance to 
Sigurd. "Now thou wilt have renown," he cried. "Forever wilt 
thou be called Sigurd, Fafnir's Bane. More renown than ever any 
of thy fathers had wilt thou have, O Prince of the Volsungs." 

So he spoke, saying fair words to him, for now that he was left 
alive there was something he would have Sigurd do. 

"Fafnir is slain," Sigurd said, "and the triumph over him was 
not lightly won. Now may I show myself to King Alv and to 
my mother, and the gold from Fafnir's hoard will make me a 
great spoil." 

"Wait," said Regin cunningly. "Wait. Thou hast yet to do 
something for me. With the sword thou hast, cut through the 
Dragon and take out his heart for me. When thou hast taken 
it out, roast it that I may eat of it and become wiser than I am. 
Do this for me who showed thee how to slay Fafnir." 

Sigurd did what Fafnir would have him do. He cut out the 
heart of the Dragon and he hung it from stakes to roast. Regin 
drew away and left him. As Sigurd stood before the fire putting 
sticks upon it there was a great silence in the forest. 

He put his hand down to turn an ashen branch into the heart 
of the fire. As he did a drop from the roasting Dragon-heart 
fell upon his hand. The drop burnt rato him. He put his hand 
to his mouth to ease the smart, and his tongue tasted the burning 
blood of the Dragon. 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 229 

He went to gather wood for the fire. In a clearing that he 
came to there were birds; he saw four on a branch together. 
They spoke to each other in birds' notes, and Sigurd heard and 
knew what they were saying. 

Said the first bird : "How simple is he who has come into this 
dell ! He has no thought of an enemy, and yet he who was with 
him but a while ago has gone away that he may bring a spear to 
slay him." 

"For the sake of the gold that is in the Dragon's cave he would 
slay him," said the second bird. 

And the third bird said : "If he would eat the Dragon's heart 
himself he would know all wisdom." 

But the fourth bird said: "He has tasted a drop of the 
Dragon's blood and he knows what we are saying." 

The four birds did not fly away nor cease from speaking. 
Instead they began to tell of a marvellous abode that was known 
to them. 

Deep in the forest, the birds sang, there was a Hall that was 
called the House of Flame. Its ten walls were Uni, Iri, Barri, 
Ori, Vams, Vegdrasil, Derri, Uri, Dellinger, Atvarder, and each 
wall was built by the Dwarf whose name it bore. All round the 
Hall there was a circle of fire through which none might pass. 
And within the Hall a maiden slept, and she was the wisest and 
the bravest and the most beautiful maiden in the world. 

Sigurd stood like a man enchanted listening to what the birds 
sang. 



230 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

But suddenly they changed the flow of their discourse, and 
their notes became sharp and piercing. 

"Look, look!" cried one. "He is coming against the youth." 

"He is coming against the youth with a spear," cried 
another. 

"Now will the youth be slain unless he is swift," cried a 
third. 

Sigurd turned round and he saw Regin treading the way 
towards him, grim and silent, with a spear in his hands. The 
spear would have gone through Sigurd had he stayed one instant 
longer in the place where he had been listening to the speech of 
the birds. As he turned he had his sword in his hand, and he 
flung it, and Gram struck Regin on the breast. 

Then Regin cried out: "I die — I die without having laid 
my hands on the hoard that Fafnir guarded. Ah, a curse was 
upon the hoard, for Hreidmar and Fafnir and I have perished 
because of it. May the curse of the gold now fall on the one who 
is my slayer." 

Then did Regin breathe out his life. Sigurd took the body and 
cast it into the pit that was alongside the dead Fafnir. Then, 
that he might eat the Dragon's heart and become the wisest, 
of men, he went to where he had left it roasting. And he thought 
that when he had eaten the heart he would go into the Dragon's 
cave and carry away the treasure that was there, and bring it as 
spoil of his battle to King Alv and to his mother. Then he would 
go through the forest and find the House of Flame where slept 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 231 

the maiden who was the wisest and bravest and most beautiful 
in the world. 

But Sigurd did not eat the Dragon's heart. When he came to 
where he had left it roasting he found that the fire had burnt 
it utterly. ' 



232 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 




SfieSfoKvoTSi^TOond' and 



IE called to Grani, his proud horse ; he stood up on 

a mound in the Heath and he sent forth a great 

shout. And Grani heard in the cave where Regin 

had left him and he came galloping to Sigurd with 

flowing mane and eyes flashing fire. 

He mounted Grani and he rode to Fafnir's 

cave. When he went into the place where the Dragon was 

wont to lie he saw a door of iron before him. With Gram, his 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 233 

mighty sword, he hewed through the iron, and with his strong 
hands he pulled the door back. Then, before him he saw the 
treasure the Dragon guarded, masses of gold and heaps of 
shining jewels. 

But as he looked on the hoard Sigurd felt some shadow of the 
evil that lay over it all. This was the hoard that in the far-off days 
the River-Maidens watched over as it lay deep under the flowing 
water. Then Andvari the Dwarf forced the River-Maidens to 
give it to him. And Loki had taken it from Andvari, letting loose 
as he did Gulveig the Witch who had such evil power over the 
Gods. For the sake of the hoard Fafnir had slain Hreidmar, his 
father, and Regin had plotted death against Fafnir, his brother. 

Not all this history did Sigurd know. But a shadow of its 
evil touched his spirit as he stood there before the gleaming 
and glittering heap. He would take all of it away, but not now. 
The tale that the birds told was in his mind, and the green of the 
forest was more to him than the glitter of the treasure heap. 
He would come back with chests and load it up and carry it to 
King Alv's haU. But first he would take such things as he 
himself might wear. 

He found a helmet of gold and he put it on his head. He found 
a great arm-ring and he put it around his arm. On the top of the 
arm-ring there was a small finger-ring with a rune graved upon it. 
Sigurd put it on his finger. And this was the ring that Andvari 
the Dwarf had put the curse upon when Loki had taken the 
hoard from him. 



234 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

He knew that no one would cross the Heath and come to Faf- 
nir's lair, so he did not fear to leave the treasure unguarded. 
He mounted Grani, his proud horse, and rode towards the forest. 
He would seek the House of Flame where she lay sleeping, the 
maiden who was the wisest and the bravest and the most beautiful 
in the world. With his golden helmet shining above his golden 
hair Sigurd rode on. 

IS he rode towards the forest he thought of Sigmund, 

his father, whose slaying he had avenged, and he 

thought of Sigmund's father, Volsung, and of the 

grim deeds that the Volsungs had suffered and 

wrought. 

Rerir, the son of Sigi who was the son of Odin, 

was the father of Volsung. And Volsung when he was in his 

first manhood had built his hall around a mighty tree. Its 

branches went up to the roof and made the beams of the house 

and its great trunk was the centre of the hall. "The Branstock" 

the tree was called, and Volsung's hall was named "The Hall of 

the Branstock." 

Many children had Volsung, eleven sons and one daughter. 
Strong were all his sons and good fighters, and Volsung of the 
HaU of the Branstock was a mighty chief. 

It was through Signy, the daughter of the house, that a feud 
and a deadly battle was brought to Volsung and his sons. She 
was a wise and a fair maiden and her fame went through all 
the lands. Now, one day Volsung received a message from a 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 235 

King asking for the hand of Signy in marriage. And Volsung 
who knew of this King through report of his battles sent a 
message to him saying that he would be welcome to the Hall of 
the Branstock. 

So King Siggeir came with hi^ men. But when the Volsungs 
looked into his face they liked it not. And Signy shrank away, 
saying, "This King is evil of heart and false of word." 

Volsung and his eleven sons took counsel together. Siggeir 
had a great force of men with him, and if they refused to give her 
he could slay them all and harry their kingdom. Besides they 
had pledged themselves to give Signy when they had sent him 
a message of welcome. Long counsel they had together. And 
ten of Signy's brothers said, "Let Signy wed this King. He is 
not as evil as he seems in her mind." Ten brothers said it. But 
one spoke out, saying, "We will not give our sister to this evil 
King. Rather let us all go down fighting with the Hall of the 
Branstock flaming above our heads." 

It was Sigmund, the youngest of the Volsungs, who said this. 

But Signy's father said: "We know nought of evil of King 
Siggeir. Also our word is given to him. Let him feast with us 
this night in the Hall of the Branstock and let Signy go from us 
with him as his wife." Then they looked to her and they saw 
Signy's face and it was white and stern. "Let it be as ye have 
said, my father and my brothers," she said. "I will wed King 
Siggeir and go with him overseas." So she said aloud. But 
Sigmxmd heard her say to herself, "It is woe for the Volsungs." 



236 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

A feast was made and King Siggeir and his men came to the 
Hall of the Branstock. Fires were lighted and tables were 
spread, and great horns of mead went around the guests. In the 
middle of the feasting a stranger entered the Hall. He was taller 
than the tallest there, and his bearing made all do him reverence. 
One offered him a horn of mead and he drank it. Then, from 
under the blue cloak that he wore, he drew a sword that made the 
brightness of the Hall more bright. 

He went to the tree that the Hall was built around, to the 
Branstock, and he thrust the sword into it. All the company 
were hushed. Then they heard the voice of the stranger, a 
voice that was like the trumpet's call: "The sword is for the 
hand that can draw it out of the Branstock." Then he went out 
of the Hall. 

All looked to where the sword was placed and saw a hand's 
breadth of wonderful brightness. This one and that one would 
have laid hands on the hilt, only Volsung's voice bade them stand 
still. "It is meet," he said, "that our guest and our son-in-law. 
King Siggeir, should be the first to put hands on its hilt and try 
to draw the sword of the stranger out of the Branstock." 

King Siggeir went to the tree and laid his hands on the broad 
hilt. He strove hard to draw out the sword, but all his might 
could not move it. As he strained himself to draw it and failed, 
a dark look of anger came into his face. 

Then others tried to draw it, the captains who were with King 
Siggeir, and they, too, failed to move the blade. Then Volsung 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 237 

tried and Volsung could not move it. One after the other, his 
eleven sons strained to draw out the stranger's sword. At last 
it came to the turn of the youngest, to Sigmund, to try. And 
when Sigmund laid his hand on the broad hilt and drew it, behold ! 
the sword came with his hand, and once again the Hall was 
brightened with its marvellous brightness. 

It was a wondrous sword, a sword made out of better metal 
and by smiths more cunning than any known. AU envied 
Sigmund that he had won for himself that wonder-weapon. 

King Siggeir looked on it with greedy eyes. " I will give thee its 
weight in gold for that sword, good brother," he said. 

But Sigmund said to him proudly : "If the sword was for thy 
hand thou shouldst have won it. The sword was not for thine, 
but for a Volsung's hand." 

And Signy, looking at King Siggeir, saw a look of deeper evil 
come into his face. She knew that hatred for aU the Volsung 
race was in his heart. 

But at the end of the feast she was wed to King Siggeir, and 
the next day she left the Hall of the Branstock and went with 
him down to where his great painted ship was drawn up on the 
beach. And when they were parting from her, her father and 
her brothers. King Siggeir invited them to come to his country, as 
friends visiting friends and kinsmen visiting kinsmen, and look on 
Signy again. And he stood on the beach and would not go on 
board his ship until each and all of the Volsungs gave their word 
that they would visit Signy and him in his own land. "And when 




23? CHILDREN OF ODIN 

thou comest," he said to Sigmund, "be sure thou dost bring with 
thee the mighty sword that thou didst win." 

All this was thought of by Sigurd, the son of Sigmund, as he 
rode towards the fringe of the forest. 

■ HE time came for Volsung and his sons to redeem 
the promise they made to Eang Siggeir. They 
made ready their ship and they sailed from the 
land where stood the Hall of the Branstock. 
And they landed on the coast of King Siggeir's 
country, and they drew their ship up on the beach 
and they made their camp there, intending to come to the King's 
Hall in the broad light of the day. 

But in the half light of the dawn one came to the Volsung ship. 
A cloak and hood covered the figure, but Sigmund, who was the 
watcher, knew who it was. "Signy!" he said, and Signy asked 
that her father and her brothers be awakened until she would 
speak to them of a treason that was brewed against them. 

"King Siggeir has made ready a great army against your 
coming," she told them. "He hates the Volsungs, the branch 
as weU as the root, and it is his plan to fall upon you, my father 
and my brothers, with his great army and slay you all. And 
he would possess himself of Gram, Sigmund's wonder-sword. 
Therefore, I say to you, O Volsungs, draw your ship into the 
sea and sail from the land where such treachery can be." 

But Volsung, her father, would not listen. "The Volsungs 
do not depart like broken men from a land they have brought 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 239 

their ship to," he said. "We gave, each and all, the word that 
we would visit King Siggeir and visit him we will. And if he is 
a dastard and would fall upon us, why we are the unbeaten 
Volsungs, and we will fight against him and his army and slay 
him, and bear you back with us to the Hall of the Branstock. 
The day widens now, and we shall go to the Hall." 

Signy would have spoken of the great army King Siggeir had 
gathered, but she knew that the Volsungs never barkened to 
talk of odds. She spoke no more, but bowed her head and went 
back to King Siggeir's hall. 

Siggeir knew that Signy had been to warn her father and her 
brothers. He called the men he had gathered and he posted 
them cunningly in the way the Volsimgs would come. Then he 
sent one to the ship with a message of welcome. 

As they left their ship the army of King Siggeir fell upon the 
Volsungs and their followers. Very fierce was the battle that was 
waged on the beach, and many and many a one of King Siggeir's 
fierce fighters went down before the fearless ones that made 
Volsung's company. But at last Volsung himself was slain and 
his eleven sons were taken captive. And Gram, his mighty sword, 
was taken out of Sigmund's hands. 

They were brought before King Siggeir in his hall, the eleven 
Volsung princes. Siggeir laughed to s'ee them before him. "Ye 
are not in the Hall of the Branstock now, to dishonour me with 
black looks and scornful words," he said, "and a harder task 
will be given you than that of drawing a sword out of a tree- 



240 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

trunk. Before set of sun I will see you hewn to pieces with the 
sword." 

Then Signy who was there stood up with her white face and 
her wide eyes, and she said : "I pray not for longer life for my 
brothers, for weU I know that my prayers would avail them nought. 
But dost thou not heed the proverb, Siggeir — 'Sweet to the eye 
as long as the eye can see'?" 

And Siggeir laughed his evil laugh when he heard her. "Aye, 
my Queen," he said, "sweet to the eye as long as the eye may see 
their torments. They shall not die at once nor all together. I 
will let them see each other die." 

So Siggeir gave a new order to his dastard troops. The order 
was that the eleven brothers should be taken into the depths of 
the forest and chained to great beams and left there. This was 
done with the eleven sons of Volsung. 

The next day one who had watched and who was faithful to Signy 
came, and Signy said to him : " What has befallen my brothers ? ' ' 

And the watcher said: "A great wolf came to where the chained 
men are, and fell upon the first of them and devoured him." 

When Signy heard this no tears came from her eyes, but that 
which was hard around her heart became harder. She said, 
" Go again, and watch what befalls." 

And the watcher came the second time and said : "The second 
of your brothers has been devoured by the wolf." Signy shed 
no tears this time either, and again that which was hard around 
her heart became harder. 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 241 

And every day the watcher came and he told her what had be- 
fallen her brothers. And it came to the time when but one of 
her brothers was left alive, Sigmund, the youngest. 

Then said Signy : "Not without device are we left at the end. 
I have thought of what is to be done. Take a pot of honey to 
where he is chained and smear Sigmund's face with the honey." 

The watcher did as Signy bade him. 

Again the great wolf came along the forest-ways to where Sig- 
mund was chained. When she snuffed over him she found the 
honey upon his face. She put down her tongue to lick over his 
face. Then, with his strong teeth Sigmund seized the tongue 
of the wolf. She fought and she struggled with all her might, 
but Sigmimd did not let go of her tongue. The struggle with 
the beast broke the beam to which he was chained. Then 
Sigmund seized the wolf with his hands and tore her jaws 
apart. 

The watcher saw this happening and told of it to Signy. A 
fierce joy went through her, and she said : " One of the Volsungs 
lives, and vengeance will be wrought upon King Siggeir and 
upon his house." 

Still the watcher stayed in the ways of the forest, and he 
marked where Sigmund built for himself a hidden hut. Often 
he bore tokens from Signy to Sigmund. Sigmund took to the 
ways of the hunter and the outlaw, but he did not forsake the 
forest. And King Siggeir knew not that one of the Volsungs 
lived and was near him. 



342 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 




55e SfoRy of SiOroancf arxf 
Sipfiom 

S Sigurd rode the ways of the forest he thought 
upon Sigmund, his father, on his life and his 
death, according to what BGordis, his mother, had 
told him. Sigmund lived for long the life of the 
hunter and the outlaw, but he never strayed far 
from the forest that was in King Siggeir's do- 
minion. Often did he get a token from Signy. They two, the 
last of the Volsungs, knew that King Siggeir and his house would 
have to perish for the treason be had wrought on their father 
and their brothers. 




THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 243 

Sigmund knew that his sister would send her son to help him. 
One morning there came to his hut a boy of ten years. He knew 
that this was one of Signy's sons, and that she would have him 
train him into being a warrior worthy of the Volsung breed. 

Sigmund hardly looked and hardly spoke to the lad. He was go- 
ing himting, and as he took down his spear from the wall he said : 

"There is the meal-bag, boy. Mix the meal and make the 
bread, and we will eat when I come back." 

When he returned the bread was unmade, and the boy was 
standing watching the meal-bag with widened eyes. "Thou 
didst not make the bread?" Sigmund said. 
i "Nay," said the boy, "I was afeard to go near the bag. 
Something stirred within it." 

"Thou hast the heart of a mouse so to be frighted. Go back 
to thy mother and tell her that not in thee is the stuff for a 
Volsung warrior." 

So Sigmund spoke, and the boy went away weeping. 

A year later another son of Signy's came. As before Sigmund 
hardly looked at and hardly spoke to the boy. He said : 

"There is the meal-bag. Mix the meal and make ready the 
bread against the time I return." 

When Sigmund came back the bread was unmade. The boy 
had shrunk away from where the bag was. 

"Thou hast not made the bread?" Sigmund said. 

"Nay," said the boy, "something stirred in the bag, and I 
was afeard." ' 



244 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

" Thou hast the heart of a mouse. Get thee back to thy mother 
and tell her that there is not in thee the stuff for the making of a 
Volsung warrior." 

And this boy, like his brother, went back weeping. 

At that time Signy had no other sons. But at last one was 
born to her, the child of a desperate thought. Him, too, when 
he was grown, she sent to Sigmund. 

"What did thy mother say to thee?" Sigmund said to this boy 
when he showed himself at the hut. 

"Nothing. She sewed my gloves to my hands and then bade 
me pull them off." 

"And didst thou?" 

"Aye, and the skin came with them." 

"And didst thou weep?" ^^ 

"A Volsung does not weep for such a thing." 

Long did Sigmund look on the lad. He was tall and fair and 
great-Umbed, and his eyes had no fear in them. 

"What wouldst thou have me do for thee?" said the lad. 

"There is the meal-bag," Sigmund said. "Mix the meal and 
make the bread for me against the time I return." 

When Sigmund came back the bread was baking on the coals. 
"What didst thou with the meal?" Sigmund asked. 

"I mixed it. Something was in the meal — a serpent, I 
think — but I kneaded it with the meal, and now the serpent is 
baking on the coals." 

Sigmund laughed and threw his arms around the boy. "Thou 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 245 

wilt not eat of that bread," he said. "Thou didst knead into it 
a venomous serpent." 

The boy's name was SinfiotU. Sigmund trained him in the 
ways of the hunter and the outlaw. Here and there they went, 
taking vengeance on King Siggeir's men. The boy was fierce, 
but never did he speak a word that was false. 

One day when Sigmimd and Sinfiotli were hunting, they came 
upon a strange house in the dark wood. When they went within 
they found two men lying there sleeping a deep sleep. On their 
arms were heavy rings of gold, and Sigmund knew that they 
were the sons of Kings. 

And beside the sleeping men he saw wolf skins, left there as 
though they had been cast off. Then Sigmund knew that these 
men were shape-changers — that they were ones who changed 
their shapes and ranged through the forests as wolves. 
I Sigmimd and Sinfiotli put on the skins that the men had cast 
off, and when they did this they changed their shapes and became 
as wolves. And as wolves they ranged through the forest, now and 
then changing their shapes back to those of men. As wolves they 
fell upon King Siggeir's men and slew more and more of them. 

One day Sigmimd said to Sinfiotli : "Thou art still young and 
I would not have thee be to6 rash. If thou dost come upon 
a company of seven men, fight them. But if thou dost come on 
a company greater than seven, raise up thy voice as a wolf's 
cry and bring me to thy side." 

Sinfiotli promised that he would do this. 



246 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

One day, as he went through the forest in his wolf's shape, 
Sigmund heard the din of a struggle and he stopped to listen for 
Sinfiotli's call. But no call came. Then Sigmund went through 
the forest in the direction of the struggle. On his way he passed 
the bodies of eleven slain men. And he came upon Sinfiotli 
lying in the thicket, his wolf's shape upon him, and panting 
from the battle he had waged. 

"Thou didst strive with eleven men. Why didst thou not 
call to me?" Sigmund said. 

"Why should I have called to thee? I am not so feeble but 
I can strive with eleven men." 

Sigmund was made angry with this answer. He looked on 
Sinfiotli where he lay, and the wicked wolf's nature that was in 
the skin came over him. He sprang upon him, sinking his teeth 
in Sinfiotli's throat. 

Sinfiotli lay gasping in the throes of death. And Sigmimd, 
knowing the deadly grip that was in those jaws of his, howled 
his anguish. 

Then, as he licked the face of his comrade, he saw two weasels 
meet. They began to fight, one with the other, and the first 
caught the second at the throat, and bit him with his teeth and 
laid him out as if in death. Sigmund marked the combat and 
the end of it. But then the first weasel ran and found leaves of 
a certain herb and he put them upon his comrade's wound. And 
the herb cured the wound, and the weasel that was bitten rose 
up and was sound and swift again. 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 247 

Sigmund went searcliing for the herb he saw the weasel carry 
to his comrade. And as he sought for it he saw a raven with a leaf 
in her beak. She dropped the leaf as he came to her, and behold ! 
it was the same leaf as the weasel had brought to his comrade. 
Sigmund took it and laid it on the wound he had made in Sin- 
fiotli's throat, and the wound healed, and Sinfiotli was sound 
once more. They went back to their hut in the forest. And the 
next day they burnt the wolf-skins, and they prayed the Gods 
that they might never be afficted with the wolf's evil nature 
again. And Sigmimd and Sinfiotli never afterwards changed 
their shapes. 



248 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 




S6eSfoR^df56e\^T9§eance 
df^eVoTsaiT^s and of 
SfjeDeofB of Swfiocti 

ND now Sinfiotli had come to his full strength and 
it was time to take vengeance on King Siggeir for 
the slaying of Volsung and the dread doom he 
had set for Volsung's ten sons. Sigmund and 
Sinfiotli put helmets on their heads and took 
swords in their hands and went to King Siggeir's 
Hall. They hid behind the casks of ale that were at the entrance 




THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 249 

and they waited for the men-at-arms to leave, the Hall that they 
might fall upon King Siggeir and his attendants. 

The younger children of King Siggeir were pla3dng in 
the Hall and one let fall a ball. It went rolling behind the 
casks of ale. And the child peering after the ball saw two 
men crouching with swords in their hands and helmets on their 
heads. 

The child told a servant who told the King. Then Siggeir arose, 
and he drew his men-at-arms around him, and he set them on the 
men who were hiding behind the barrels. Sigmund and SinfiotU 
sprang up and fought against the men of King Siggeir, but 
they were taken captives. 

- Now they might not be slain there and then, for it was 
unlawful to slay captives after sunset. But for all that, King 
Siggeir would not leave them above ground. He decreed that 
they should be put in a pit, and a mound made over them so 
that they would be buried aUve. 

The sentence was carried out. A great flagstone was put 
down to divide the pit in two, so that Sigmund and SinfiotU 
might hear each other's struggle and not be able to give help to 
each other. All was done as the King commanded. 

But while his thraUs were putting sods over the pit, one came 
amongst them, cloaked and hooded, and dropped somethmg 
wrapped in straw into the side of the pit where Smfiotli lay. 
And when the sky was shut out from them with the turf and soil 
that was put over tibe pit, Sinflotli shouted to Signiund: "I 



2SO CHILDREN OF ODIN 

shall not die, for the queen has thrown down to me meat wrapped 
in a parcel of straw." 

And a while afterwards Sinfiotli shouted to Sigmund: "The 
queen has left a sword in the meat which she flung down to me. 
It is a mighty sword. Almost I think it is Gram, the sword you 
told me of." 

"If it be Gram," Sigmund said, "it is a sword that can cut 
through this flagstone. Thrust the blade against the stone and 
try." 

Sinfiotli thrust the blade against the stone and the blade 
went through the stone. Then, one on each side, they took hold 
of the sword and they cut the great stone in two. Afterwards, 
working together, it was easy to shift the turf and soil. The two 
came out under the sky. 

Before them was the Hall of King Siggeir. They came to the 
Hall and they set dry wood before it and they fired the wood 
and made the Hall bl^ze up. And when the Hall was in a blaze 
King Siggeir came to the door and shouted, "Who is it that 
has fired the house of the King?" 

And Sigmund said, "I, Sigmund, the son of Volsung, that you 
may pay for the treason wrought on the Volsungs." 

Seeing Sigmund there with Gram, the great sword, in bis hands, 
Siggeir went back into his hall. Then Signy was seen with her 
white face and her stem eyes, and Sigmund called to her, "Come 
forth, come forth. Sigmund calls. Come out of Siggeir's blazing 
house and together we will go back to the Hall of the Sranstock." 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 251 

But Signy said, " All is finished now. The vengeance is wrought 
and I have no more to keep me in life. The Volsung race lives 
on in you, my brother, and that is my joy. Not merrily did I 
wed Kiag Siggeir and not merrily did I live with him, but 
merrily will I die with him now." 

She went withia the hall ; then the flames burst over it and 
all who were within perished. Thus the vengeance of the Vol- 
sungs was wrought. 

ND Sigurd thought on the deed that Sigmund, 
his father, and Sinfiotli, the youth who was his 
father's kinsman, wrought, as he rode the ways 
of the forest, and of the things that thereafter 
befell them. 

Sigmund and Sinfiotli left King Siggeir's land 
and came back to the land where was the Hall of the Bran- 
stock. Sigmund became a great King and Sinfiotli was the 
Captain of his host. 

And the story of Sigmund and Sinfiotli goes on to tell how Sig- 
mund wed a woman whose name was Borghild, and how Sin- 
fiotli loved a woman who was loved by Borghild's brother. A 
battle came in which the youths were on opposite sides, and Sin- 
fiotli killed Borghild's brother, and it was in fair combat. 

Sinfiotli returned home. To make peace between him and the 
Queen Sigmund gave Borghild a great measure of gold as com- 
pensation for the loss of her brother. The Queen took it and 
said, "Lo, my brother's worth is reckoned at this; let no more 



252 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

be said about his slaying." And she made Sinfiotli welcome to 
the Hall of the Branstdck. 

But although she showed herself frigndly to him her heart 
was set upon his destruction. 

That night there was a feast in the Hall of the Branstock and 
Borghild the Queen went to all the guests with a horn of mead in 
her. hand. She came ,to Sinfiotli and she held the horn to him. 
"Take this from my hands, O friend of Sigmund," she said. 

But Sinfiotli saw what was in her eyes and he said, "I wiU 
not drink from this horn. There is venom in the drink." 

Then, to end the mockery that the Queen would have made 
over Sinfiotli, Sigmund who was standing by took the horn out 
of Borghild's hand. No venom or poison could injure him. He 
raised the horn to his lips and drained the mead at a draught. 

The Queen said to Sinfiotli, "Must other men quaflf thy drink 
for thee?" 

Later in the night she came to him again, the horn of mead in 
her hand. She offered it to Sinfiotli, but he looked in her eyes 
and saw the hatred that was there. "Venom is in the drink," 
he said. "I will not take it." 

And again Sigmund took the horn and drank the mead at a 
draught. And again the Queen mocked Sinfiotli. 

A third time she came to him. Before she offered the horn she 
said, "This is the one who fears to take his drink like a man. 
What a Volsung heart he has !" Sinfiotli saw the hatred in her 
eyes, and her iriockery could not make him take the mead from 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 253 

her. As before Sigmund was standing by. But now he was 
weary of raising the horn and he said to SinfiotU, "Pour the 
drink through thy beard." 

He thought that Sigmund meant that he should pour the mead 
through his lips that were bearded and make trouble no more 
between him and the Queen. But Sigmund did not mean that. 
He meant that he should pretend to drink and let the mead run 
down on the floor. Sinfiotli, not understanding what his conurade 
meant, took the horn from the Queen and raised it to his lips 
and drank. And as soon as he drank, the venom that was in 
the drink went to his heart, and he fell dead m the Hall of 
the Branstock. 

Oh, woeful was Sigmund for the death of his kinsman and his 
comrade. He would let no one touch his body. He himself 
lifted Sinfiotli in his arms and carried him out of the Hall, and 
through the wood, and down to the sea-shore. And when he 
came to the shore he saw a boat drawn up with a man therein. 
Sigmund came near to him and saw that the man was old and 
strangely tall. "I will take thy burthen from thee," the man 
said. 

Sigmund left the body of Sinfiotli in the boat, thinking to take 
a place beside it. But as soon as the body was placed in it the 
boat went from the land without sail or oars. Sigmund, looking 
on the old man who stood at the stem, knew that he was not of 
mortal men, but was Odin All-Father, the giver of the sword 
Gram. 



254 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Then Sigmund went back to his Hall. His Queen died, and 
in time he wed with Hiordis, who became the mother of Sigurd. 
And now Sigurd the Volsung, the son of Sigmund and Hiordis, 
rode the ways of the forest, the sword Gram by his side, and 
the Golden Helmet of the Dragon's Hoard above his golden hair. 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 



255 




^RqnBilcf it) tl>e^0ase of® 
TtaoDe 

HE forest ways led him on and up a mountain-side. 

He came to a mountain-summit at last : Hindf ell, 

where the trees fell away, leaving a place open to 

the sky and the winds. On Hindfell was the 

House of Flame. Sigurd saw the walls black, and 

high, and all around them was a ring of fire. 

As he rode nearer he heard the roar of the mounting and the 

circling fire. He sat on Grani, his proud horse, and for long he 

looked on the black walls and the flame that went circling around 

them. 




2S6 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Then he rode Grani to the fire. Another horse would have 
been affrighted, but Grani remained steady under Sigittd. To 
the wall of fire they came, and Sigurd," who knew no fear, rode 
through it. i 

Now he was in the court-yard of the Hall. No stir was there 
of man or hound or horse. Sigurd dismounted and bade Grani 
be stiU. He opened a door and he saw a chamber with hangings 
on which was wrought the pattern of a great tree, a tree with 
three roots, and the pattern was carried across from one wall to 
the other. On a couch in the centre of the chamber one lay in 
slumber. Upon the head was a helmet and across the breast was 
a breastplate. Sigurd took the helmet off the head. Then over 
the couch fell a heap of woman's hair — ^ wondrous, bright-gleam- 
ing hair. This was the maiden that the birds had told him of. 

He cut the fastenings of the breastplate with his sword, and 
he gazed long upon her. Beautiful was her face, but stern; 
like the face of one who subdues but may not be subdued. 
Beautiful and strong were her arms and her hands. Her mouth 
was proud, and over her closed eyes there were strong and 
beautiful brows. 

Her eyes opened, and she turned them and looked full upon 
Sigurd. "Who art thou who hast awakened me?" she said. 

"I am Sigurd, the son of Sigmund, of the Volsung race," he 
answered. 

"And thou didst ride through the ring of fire to me?" 

"That did I." 






/r/0ff-^f^'-^y^' 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 257 

She knelt on the couch and stretched out her arms to where 
the Ught shone. "Hail, O Day," she cried, "and hail, O beams 
that are the sons of Day. O Night, and O daughter of Night, 
may ye look on us with eyes that bless. Hail, O ^sir and O 
Asyniur ! Hail, O wide-spreading fields of Midgard ! May ye 
give us wisdom, and wise speech, and healing power, and grant 
that nothing untrue or unbrave may come near us ! " 

All this she cried with eyes open wide ; they were eyes that 
had in them all the blue that Sigurd had ever seen : the blue of 
flowers, the blue of skies, the blue of battle-blades. She turned 
those great eyes upon him and she said, "I am Brynhild, once 
a Valkyrie but now a mortal maiden, one who will know death 
and all the sorrows that mortal women know. But there are 
things that I may not know, things that are false and of no 
bravery." 

She was the bravest and the wisest and the most beautiful 
maiden in the world : Sigurd knew that it was so. He laid his 
sword Gram at her feet, and he said her name, "Brynhild." 
He told her how he had slain the Dragon, and how he had heard 
the birds tell of her. She rose from the couch and bound her 
wondrous hair on her head. In wonder he watched her. When 
she moved it was as though she walked above the earth. 

They sat together and she told him wonderful and secret things. 
And she told him, too, how she was sent by Odin from Asgard 
to choose the slain for his hall Valhalla, and to give victory 
to those whom he willed to have it. And she told how she had 



258 "^ CHILDREN OF ODIN 

disobeyed the will of All-Father, and how for that she was made 
outcast of Asgard. Odin put into her flesh the thorn of the Tree 
of Sleep that she might remain in slumber until one who was 
the bravest of mortal men should waken her. Whoever would 
break the fastenings of the breastplate would take out the Thorn 
of Sleep. "Odin granted me this," she said, "that as a mortal 
maid I should wed none but him who is the bravest in the world. 
And so that none but him might come to me, All-Father put the 
fire-ring round where I lay in slumber. And it is thou, Sigurd, 
son of Sigmund, who hast come to me. Thou art the bravest 
and I think thou art the most beautiful too ; like to Tyr, the God 
who wields the sword." 

She told him that whoever rode through the fire and claimed 
her as his wife, him she must wed. 

They talked to each other fondly and the day flowed by them. 
Then Sigurd heard Grani, his horse, neigh for him again and 
again. He cried to Br3Tihild: "Let me go from the gaze of 
thine eyes. I am that one who is to have the greatest name in 
the world. Not yet have I made my name as great as my father 
and my father's father made their names great. I have overcome 
King Lygni, and I have slain Fafnir the Dragon, but that is 
little. I would make my name the greatest in the world, and 
endure all that is to be endured in making it so. Then I would 
come back to thee in the House of Flame." 

Brynhild said to him: "Well dost thou speak. Make thy 
name great, and endure what thou hast to endure in making it 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 259 

so. I will wait for thee, knowing that none but Sigurd will be 
able to win through the fire that guards where I abide." 

They gazed long on each other, but Uttle more they spoke. 
Then they held each other's hands in farewell, and they plighted 
faith, promising each other that they would take no other man 
or maiden for their mate. And for token of their troth Sigurd 
took the ring that was on his finger and placed it on Brynhild's — 
Andvari's ring it was. 



26o 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 







IE left Hindfell and he came into a kingdom that 

was ruled over by a people that were called the 

Nibelungs as Sigurd's people were called the Vol- 

sungs. Giuki was the name of the King of that 

land. 

Giuki and his Queen and all their sons gave 

a great welcome to Sigurd when he came to their hall, for he 

looked such a one as might win the name of being the world's 

greatest hero. And Sigurd went to war beside the King's sons, 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 261 

Gunnar and Hogni, and the three made great names for them- 
selves, but Sigurd's shone high above the others. 

When they came back from that war there were great rejoicings 
in the hall of the Nibelungs, and Sigurd's heart was filled with 
friendship for aU the Nibelung race; he had love for the Eling's 
sons, Gunnar and Hogni, and with Guimar and Hogni he swore 
oaths of brotherhood. Henceforward he and they would be as 
brethren. King Giuki had a stepson named Guttorm and he 
was not bound in the oath that bound Sigurd and the others in 
brotherhood. 

After the war they had waged Sigurd spent a whole winter 
in the hall of the Nibelungs. His heart was full of memories of 
Brynhild and of longings to ride to her in the House of Flame and 
to take her with him to the kingdom that King Giuki would 
have given him. But as yet he would not go back to her, for he 
had sworn to give his brethren further help. 

One day, as he rode by himself, he heard birds talk to each 
other and he knew the words they were saying. One said, "There 
is Sigurd who wears the wondrous helmet that he took out of 
Fafnir's hoard." And the other bird said, "He knows not that 
by that helmet he can change his shape as Fafnir changed his 
shape, and make him look like this creature or that creature, or 
this man or that man." And the third bird said, "He knows not 
that the helmet can do anything so wonderful for him." 

He rode back to the hall of the Nibelungs, and at the supper- 
board he told them what he had heard the birds say. He showed 



262 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

them the wondrous helmet. Also he told them how he had slain 
Fafnir the Dragon, and of how he had won the mighty hoard for 
himself. His two sworn brothers who were there rejoiced that 
he had such wondrous possessions. 

But more precious than the hoard and more wondrous than 
the helmet was the memory of BrjTihild that he had. But of 
this he said no word. 

Grimhild was the name of the Queen. She was the mother of 
Gunnar and Hogni and their half-brother Guttorm. And she 
and the King had one daughter whose name was Gudrun. Now 
Grimhild was one of the wisest of women, and she knew when she 
looked upon him that Sigurd was the world's greatest warrior. 
She would have him belong to the Nibelungs, not only by the 
oaths of brotherhood he had sworn with Gunnar and Hogni, 
but by other ties. And when she heard of the great hoard that 
was his she had greater wish and will that he should be one with 
the Nibelvmgs. She looked on the helmet of gold and on the great 
arm-ring that he wore, and she made it her heart's purpose that 
Sigurd should wed with Gudrun, her daughter. But neither 
Sigurd nor the maiden Gudrun knew of Grimhild's resolve. 

And the Queen, watching Sigurd closely, knew that he had a 
remembrance in his breast that held him from seeing Gudrun's 
loveliness. She had knowledge of speUs and secret brews (she 
was of the race of Borghild whose brew had destroyed Sinfiotli's 
life) and she knew that she could make a potion that would 
destroy the memory Sigurd held. 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 263 

She mixed the potion. Then one night when there was feasting 
in the hall of the Nibelungs, she gave the cup that held the 
potion into the hands of Gudrun and bade her carry it to Sigurd. 

Sigurd took the cup out of the hands of the fair Nibelung maiden 
and he drank the potion. When he had drimk it he put the 
cup down and he stood amongst the feasters like a man in a 
dream. And like a man in a dream he went into his chamber, 
and for a day and a night afterwards he was silent and his mind 
was astray. When he rode out with Gunnar and Hogni they 
would say to him, "What is it thou hast lost, brother ? " Sigurd 
could not tell them. But what he had lost was all memory of 
BrynMld the Valk3nrie in the House of Flame. 

He saw Gudrun and it was as though he looked upon her for 
the first time. Soft were the long tresses of her hair ; soft were 
her hands. Her eyes were like wood-flowers, and her ways and 
her speech were gentle. Yet was she noble in her bearing as 
became a Princess who would come into a kingdom. And from 
the first time she had seen him upon Grani, his proud horse, 
and with his golden helmet above his golden hair, Gudrun had 
loved Sigurd. 

At the season when the wild swans came to the lake Gudrun 
went down to watch them build their nests. And while she was 
there Sigurd rode through the pines. He saw her, and her beauty 
made the whole place change. He stopped his horse and listened 
to her voice as she sang to the wild swans, sang the song that 
Volund made for Alvit, his swan-bride. 



264 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

No more was Sigurd's heart empty of memory : it was filled 
with the memory of Gudrun as he saw her by the lake when the 
wild swans were building their nests. And now he watched her 
in the hall, sitting with her mother embroidering, or serving her 
father or her brothers, and tenderness for the maiden kept 
growing in his heart. 

A day came when he asked Gunnar and Hogni, his sworn 
brethren, for Gudrun. They were glad as though a great fortune 
had befallen them. And they brought him before Giuki the 
King, and Grimjiild the Queen. It seemed as if they had cast 
off all trouble and care and entered into the prime of their life 
and power, so greatly did the King and the Queen rejoice at 
Sigurd's becoming one with the Nibelungs through his marriage 
with Gudrun. 

When Gudrun heard that Sigurd had asked for her, she said to 
the Queen : " Oh, my mother, your wisdom should have strength- 
ened me to bear such joy. How can I show him that he is so 
dear, so dear to me? But I shall try not to show it, for he might 
deem that there was no sense in me but sense to love him. So 
great a warrior would not care for such love. I would be with 
him as a battle-maiden." _ 

Sigurd and Gudrun were wed and all the kingdom that the 
Nibelungs ruled over rejoiced. And Queen Grimhild thought 
that though the effect of the potion she gave would wear 
away, his love for Gudrun would ever fill his heart, and that 
no other memory would be able to find a place there. | 



THE SWORD OF THE 


VOLSUNGS 


26 








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poa)B?yDl)if^03as(J[)oplBR 

GUDDOR 



OW that Sigurd had wed Gudrun he was one with 
the Nibelungs. The hoard that was in Fafnir's 
cave he brought away and he left it in their 
treasure house. He went into his foster-father's 
kingdom again, and he saw Bang Alv and Hiordis, 
his mother. But he had no memory now of the 
House of Flame, nor of Brynhild, who waited there for him. 

King Giuki died, and Gunnar, Sigurd's sworn brother, became 
King in his stead. His mother would have him wed, but Gunnar 
told her he had seen no maiden whom he would choose for his wife. 



266 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

But when Sigurd and he were together Gunnar would speak 
of a maiden far away, one whom he often thought on. And one 
day when Sigurd pressed him to tell who this maiden was, he 
spoke of one whom the wisest of the poets told of, a maiden in a 
Hall with a flame around it, a maiden named Brynhild who was 
guarded by a ring of fire. 

Sigurd laughed to think that his shrewd brother was beguiled 
by one whom he had only heard of. But if he was beguiled by 
the tale of her, why should he not come to her and wed her ? So 
Sigurd said. Then Gunnar bent to him and asked Sigurd 
would he aid him to win her? And Sigurd took Gunnar's 
hand and swore that he would. 

So they started off for Hindfell, Gunnar and Hogni and Sigurd. 
They rode on until they came in sight of the black walls with 
the mounting and circling fixe around them. No memory had 
Sigurd of the place. With the flame of eagerness upon his stolid 
face Gunnar went forward to ride through the ring of fire. He 
brought Goti, his horse, near the flame, but the horse, for no 
urging, would go through it. Then Gunnar thought that, mounted 
on Grani, Sigurd's horse, he could ride through the ring of fire. 
He mounted Grani and came near to the flaring wall. But Grani, 
knowing that the one who rode him had fear of the fire, reared 
up and would not go through it. Only with Sigurd on his back 
would Grani go through the flame. 

Then were the three sworn brethren greatly discomfited. 
But after they had considered it for long Hogni the Wise said : 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 267 

"There is a way to win Brynhild, and that is for Sigurd to change 
shapes, by the magic of his helmet, with Gunnar. Then Sigurd 
could ride Grani through the wall of flame and come to Brynhild 
in Gunnar's shape." 

So spoke Hogni the Wise, and when he saw his sworn brother's 
gaze fixed on him in pleading, Sigurd could not but agree to ride 
through the flame and come to Brjoihild in the way he said. 
And so by the magic of his helmet he changed shapes with Gunnar. 
Then he mounted Grani and rode to the wall of flame. And 
Grani, knowing that the one he bore was without fear, rode 
through the flaring fire. Then Sigurd came into the court-yard 
of the House of Flame. He dismounted from Grani, and he bade 
his horse be still. 

He went within the Hall and he saw one with a bow in her 
hands shooting at a mark. She turned to him, and he saw a 
beautiful and stern face, with coils of wondrous, bright-gleaming 
hair and eyes that were like stars in an unventured-in sea. He 
thought that the arrow in her hands had been shot through him. 
But it was not so. Brynhild threw down the bow and came to 
him with that walk of hers that was as of one moving above the 
earth. And when she came near and looked upon him she uttered 
a strange cry. 

"Who art thou?" she said. "Who art thou who hast come 
to me through the wall of flaring fire?" 

" Gunnar, son of Giuki, of the race of the Nibelungs," Sigurd 
said. 



268 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"Art thou the bravest one in the world?" she asked. 

"I have ridden through the wall of flaring fire to come to thee," 
Sigurd answered. 

"He who has come through that wall of flaring fire may claim 
me," Brynhild said. "It is written in the runes, and it must be 
so. But I thought there was only one who would come to me 
through it." She looked at him, and her eyes had a flame of 
anger. "Oh, I would strive with thee with warrior-weapons," 
she cried. Then Sigurd felt her strong hands upon him, and 
he knew that she was striving to throw him. 

They wrestled, and each was so strong that none could move 
the other. They wrestled, Sigurd the first of heroes, and Brynhild, 
the Valkyrie. Sigurd got her hand in his in the wrestle. On that 
hand was a ring, and Sigurd bent back the finger and drew it off. 

It was Andvari's ring, the ring he had placed on her finger. 
And when the ring was taken off it, Brynhild sank down on her 
knees like one that was strengthless. 

Then Sigurd lifted her in his arms and carried her to where 
Grani, his horse, was waiting. He lifted her across his horse, 
and he mounted behind her and again he rode through the wall 
of flame. Hogni and Gunnar were waiting, Gunnar in Sigurd's 
shape. Brynhild did not look upon them, but covered her face 
with her hands. Then Sigurd took back his own shape, and he 
rode before Gunnar and Hogni to the hall of the Nibelungs. 

He went within, and he found Gudrun, his wife, playing with 
Sigmimd, his httle son, and he sat beside her and he told her of 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 269 

all that had befallen : how, for the sake of the sworn brother- 
hood, he had won Brjrnhild the Valkyrie for Gunnar, and how he 
had striven with her and had overcome her, and had taken off 
her finger the ring that he now wore upon his own. 

And even as he spoke to his wife the fume of the potion that 
Gudrun's mother had given him was wearing off, and he had 
memories of going to the House of Flame on a day that was not 
this day, and of riding through the wall of fire in his own shape. 
And again, as on the night when he drank the potion that Queen 
Grimhild brewed, he became as one whose wits are astray. 
He stood watching his child as he played, and his wife as she 
worked at her embroidery, and he was as a man in a dream. 

While he was standing there Gunnar and Hogni came into the 
hall of the Nibelungs bringing Br)Tihild with them. Gudrun 
rose up to welcome her who came as her brother's bride. Then 
did Sigurd look on Brynluld and then did he remember all. And 
when he remembered all such a mighty sigh rose from his heart 
as burst the links of the mail that was across his breast. 



27© 



CHILDREN OF ODIN 




ei)eaff)©f bi^Rd 



nX happened one day that Brynhild, Gunnar's wife, 
now a Queen, was with Sigurd's wife, bathing in a 
river. Not of ten they were together. Brynhild was 
the haughtiest of women, and often she treated 
Gudrun with disdain. Now as they were bathing 
together, Gudrun, shaking out her hair, cast some 

drops upon Brynhild. Brynhild went from Gudrun. And 

Sigurd's wife, not knowing that Brynhild had anger against her, 

went after her up the stream. 
"Why dost thou go so far up the river, Bryijiild?" Gudnm 

asked. 



THE SWORD. OF THE VOLSUNGS 271 

"So that thou mayst not shake thy hair over me," answered 
Brynhild. 

Gudrun stood still while Br)Txhild went up the river like a 
creature who was made to be alone. "Why dost thou speak so 
to nie, sister?" Gudnm cried. 

She remembered that from the first Brynhild had been haughty 
with her, often speaking to her with harshness and bitterness. 
She did not know what cause Brynhild had for this. 

It was because Brynhild had seen in Sigurd the one who had 
ridden through the fire for the fiist time, he who had awakened 
her by breaking the binding of her breastplate and so drawing 
out of her flesh the thorn of the Tree of Sleep. She had given 
him her love when she awakened on the world. But he, as she 
thought, had forgotten her easily, giving his love to this other 
maiden. Brynhild, with her Valkyrie's pride, was left with a 
mighty anger in her heart. 

"Why dost thou speak so to me, Brynhild?" Gudrun asked. 

"It would be ill indeed if drops from thy hair fell on one who 
is so much above thee, one who is King Gimnar's wife," Brynhild 
answered. 

"Thou art married to a King, but not to one more valorous 
than my lord," Gudrun said. 

"Gunnar is more valorous; why dost thou compare Sigurd 
with him ? " Brynhild said. 

"He slew the Dragon Fafnir, and won for himself Fafnir's 
hoard," said Gudrun. ( 



272 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

"Gunnar rode through the ring of fire. Mayhap thou wilt 
tell us that Sigurd did the like," said Brynhild, 

"Yea," said Gudrun, now made angry. "It was Sigurd and 
not Gunnar who rode through the ring of fire. He rode 
through it in Gunnar's shape, and he took the ring off thy finger 
— look, it is now on mine." 

And Gudrun held out her hand on which was Andvari's ring. 
Then Brynhild knew, all at once, that what Gudrun said was 
true. It was Sigurd that rode through the ring of fire the second 
as well as the first time. It was he who had struggled with her, 
taking the ring off her hand and claiming her for a bride, not for 
himself but for another, and out of disdain. 

Falsely had she been won. And she, one of Odin's Valkyries, 
had been wed to one who was not the bravest hero in the world, 
and she to whom untruth might not come had been deceived. 
She was silent now, and all the pride that was in her turned to" 
hatred of Sigurd. 

She went to Gunnar, her husband, and she told him that she 
was so deeply shamed that she could never be glad in his Hall 
again ; that never would he see her drinking wine, nor embroider- 
ing with golden threads, and never would he hear her speaking 
words of kindness. And when she said this to him she rent the 
web she was weaving, and she wept aloud so that all in the hall 
heard her, and all marvelled to hear the proud Queen cry. 

Then Sigurd came to her, arid he offered in atonement the 
whole hoard of Fafnir. And he told her how forgetfulness of 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 273 

her had come upon him, and he begged her to forgive him for 
winning her in falseness. But she answered him: "Too late 
thou hast come to me, Sigurd. Now I have only a great anger 
in my heart." 

When Gunnar came she t61d him she would forgive him, and 
love him as she had not loved him before, if he would slay Sigurd. 
But Guimar would not slay him, although Brynhild's passion 
moved him greatly, since Sigurd was a sworn brother of his. 

Then she went to Hogni and asked him to slay Sigurd, tell- 
ing him that the whole of Fafnir's hoard would belong to the 
Nibelungs if Sigurd were slain. But Hogni would not slay him, 
since Sigurd and he were sworn brothers. 

There was one who had not sworn brotherhood with Sigurd. 
He was Guttorm, Gunnar's and Hogni's half-brother. Brynhild 
went to Guttorm. He would not slay Sigurd, but Brynhild found 
that he was infirm of will and unsteady of thought. With Gut- 
torm, then, she would work for the slaying of Sigurd. Her mind 
was fixed that he and she would no longer be in the world of men. 

She made a dish of madness for Guttorm — serpent's venom 
and wolf's flesh mixed — and when he had eaten it Guttorm 
was crazed. Then did he listen to Brynhild's words. And she 
commanded him to go into the chamber where Sigurd slept and 
stab him through the body with a sword. 

This Guttorm did. But Sigurd, before he gasped out his life, 
took Gram, his great sword, and flung it at Guttorm and cut him 
in twain. 



274 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

And Brynhild, knowing what deed was done, went without and 
came to where Grani, Sigurd's proud horse, was standing. She 
stayed there with her arms across Grani's neck, the Valkyrie 
leaning across the horse that was born of Odin's horse. And Grani 
stood listening for some sound. He heard the cries of Gudrun 
over Sigurd, and then his heart burst and he died. 

They bore Sigurd out of the Hall and Brynhild went beside 
where they placed him. She took a sword and put it through her 
own heart. Thus died Brynhild who had been made a mortal 
woman for her disobedience to the will of Odin, and who was 
won to be a mortal's wife by a falseness. 

They took Sigurd and his horse Grani, and his helmet and his 
golden war-gear and they left all on a great painted ship. They 
could not but leave Brynhild beside him, Brynhild with her 
wondrous hair and her stern and beautiful face. They left the 
two together and launched the ship on the sea. And when the 
ship was on the water they fired it, and Brynhild once again 
lay in the flames. 

And so Sigurd and Brsmhild went together to join Baldur and 
Nanna in Hela's habitation. 

_ lUNNAR and Hogni came to dread the evil that was 

^r^^\^ i^ the hoard. They took the gleaming and glitter- 
■ Z' "% ing mass and they brought it to the river along 
M ^f ■ which, ages before, Hreidmar had his smithy and 

^^..^r the Dwarf Andvari his cave. From a rock in 
' the river they cast the gold and jewels into the 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 275 

water and the hoard of Andvari sank for ever beneath the 
waves. Then the River Maidens had possession again of their 
treasure. But not for long were they to guard it and to sing 
over it, for now the season that was called the Fimbul Winter 
was coming over the earth, and Ragnarok, the Twilight of the 
Gods, was coming to the Dwellers in Asgard. 



276 



CHILDREN OF ODIN " 




5be ^(DfR^Tyf offfieSods 



^^-^yinNOW fell on the four quarters of the world; icy 

^ ^ winds blew from every side; the sun and the 

>^^^^^^ moon were hidden by storms. It was the Fimbul 

K ^ Winter : no spring came and no summer ; no 

J ^^■^ autumn brought harvest or fruit, and winter 

grew into winter again. 

There was three years' winter. The first was called the Winter 

of Winds : storms blew and snows drove down and frosts were 

mighty. The children of men might hardly keep alive in that 

dread winter. 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 277 

The second winter was called the Winter of the Sword : those 
who were left alive amongst men robbed and slew for what was 
left to feed on ; brother fell on brother and slew him, and over all 
the world there were mighty battles. 

And the third winter was called the Winter of the Wolf. Then 
the ancient witch who lived in Jamvid, the Iron Wood, fed the 
Wolf Managarm on unburied men and on the corpses of those 
who fell in battle. Mightily grew and flourished the Wolf 
that was to be the devourer of Mani, the Moon. The Champions 
in Valhalla would find their seats splashed with the blood that 
Managarm dashed from his Jaws ; this was a sign to the Gods that 
the time of the last battle was approaching. 

COCK crew ; far down in the bowels of the earth 
he was and beside Hela's habitation : the rusty- 
red cock of Hel crew, and his crowing made a stir 
in the lower worlds. In Jotunheim a cock crew, 
Fialar, the crimson cock, and at his crowing the 
Giants aroused themselves. High up in Asgard 
a cock crew, the golden cock Gullinkambir, and at his crowing 
the Champions in Valhalla bestirred themselves. 

A dog barked ; deep down in the earth a dog barked ; it was 
Garm, the hound with bloody mouth, barking in Gnipa's Cave. 
The Dwarfs who heard groaned before their doors of stone. The 
tree Ygdrassil moaned in all its branches. There was a rending 
noise as the Giants moved their ship; there was a trampling 
sound as the hosts of Muspelheim gathered their horses. 



278 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

But Jotunheim and Muspelheim and Hel waited tremblingly ; 
it might be that Fenrir the Wolf might not burst the bonds where- 
with the Gods had bound him. Without his being loosed the Gods 
might not be destroyed. And then was heard the rending of the 
rock as Fenrir broke loose. For the second time the Hound 
Garm barked in Gnipa's Cave. 

Then was heard the galloping of the horses of the riders of 
Muspelheim ; then was heard the laughter of Loki ; then was 
heard the blowing of Heimdall's horn ; then was heard the open- 
ing of Valhalla's five hundred and forty doors, as eight himdred 
Champions made ready to pass through each door. 

Odin took council with Mimir's head. Up from the waters 
of the Well of Wisdom he drew it, and by the power of the runes 
he knew he made the head speak to him. Where best might the 
iEsir and the Vanir and the Einherjar, who were the Champions 
of Midgard, meet, and how best might they strive with the forces 
of Muspelheim and Jotunheim and Hel? The head of Mimir 
counselled Odin to meet them on Vigard Plain and to wage there 
such war that the powers of evil would be destroyed for ever, 
even though his own world should be destroyed with them. 

The riders of Muspelheim reached Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. 
Now would they storm the City of the Gods and fill it with flame. 
But Bifrost broke under the weight of the riders of Muspelheim, 
and they came not to the City of the Gods. 

Jormungand, the serpent that encircles the world, reared itself 
up from the sea. The waters flooded the lands, and the remnant 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 279 

of the world's inhabitants was swept away. That mighty flood 
floated Naglfar, the Ship of Nails that the Giants were so long 
building, and floated the ship of Hel also. With Hrymer the 
Giant steering it, Naglfar sailed against the Gods, with all the 
powers of Jotunheim aboard. And Loki steered the ship of Hel 
with the Wolf Fenrir upon it for the place of the last battle. 

Since Bifrost was broken, the iEsir and the Vanir, the Asyniur 
and the Vana, the Einherjar and the Valkyries rode downward to 
Vigard through the waters of Thund. Odin rode at the head of 
his Champions. His helmet was of gold and in his hand was his 
spear Gungnir. Thor and Tyr were in his company. 

In Mirkvid, the Dark Forest, the Vanir stood against the 
host of Muspelheim. From the broken end of the Rainbow Bridge 
the riders came, all flashing and flaming, with fire before them 
and after them. Niord was there with Skadi, his Giant wife, 
fierce in her war-dress; Freya was there also, and Frey had 
Gerda beside him as a battle-maiden. Terribly bright flashed 
Surtur's sword. No sword ever owned was as bright as his 
except the sword that Frey had given to Skirnir. Frey and 
Surtur fought; he perished, Frey perished in that battle, but 
he would not have perished if he had had in his hand his own 
magic sword. 

And now, for the third time, Garm, the hound with blood upon 
his jaws, barked. He had broken loose on the world, and with 
fierce bounds he rushed towards Vigard Plain, where the Gods 
had assembled their powers. Loud barked Garm. The Eagle 



28o CHILDREN OF ODIN 

Hraesvelgur screamed on the edge of heaven. Then the skies 
were cloven, and the tree Ygdrassil was shaken in all its roots. 

To the place where the Gods had drawn up their ranks came 
the ship of Jotunheim and the ship of Hel, came the riders of 
Muspelheim, and Garm, the hound with blood upon his jaws. 
And out of the sea that now surrounded the plain of Vigard the 
serpent Jormungand came. 

What said Odin to the Gods and to the Champions who sur- 
rounded him? "We will give our lives and let our world be 
destroyed, but we will battle so that these evil powers will not 
live after us." Out of Hel's ship sprang Fenrir the Wolf. His 
mouth gaped; his lower jaw hung against the earth, and his 
upper jaw scraped the sky. Against the Wolf Odin All-Father 
fought. Thor might not aid him, for Thor had now to en- 
counter Jormungand, the monstrous serpent. 

By Fenrir the Wolf Odin was slain. But the younger Gods 
were now advancing to the battle ; and Vidar, the Silent God, 
came face to face with Fenrir. He laid his foot on the Wolf's 
lower jaw, that foot that had on the sandal made of all the scraps 
of leather that shoemakers had laid by for him, and with his 
hands he seized the upper jaw and tore his gullet. Thus died 
Fenrir, the fiercest of all the enemies of the (Jods. 

Jormungand, the monstrous serpent, would have overwhelmed 
all with the venom he was ready to pour forth. But Thor sprang 
forward and crushed him with a stroke of his hammer Miolnir. 
Then Thor stepped back nine paces. But the serpent blew his 



THE SWORD OF THE VOLSUNGS 281 

venom over him, and blinded and choked and burnt, Thor, the 
World's Defender, perished. 

Loki sprang from his ship and strove with Heimdall, the 
Warder of the Rainbow Bridge and the Watcher for the Gods. 
Loki slew Heimdall and was slain by him. 

Bravely fought Tyx, the God who had sacrificed his sword- 
hand for the binding of the Wolf. Bravely he fought, and many 
of the powers of evil perished by his strong left hand. But 
Garm, the hound with bloody jaws, slew Tyr. 

And now the riders of Muspelheim came down on the field. 
Bright and gleaming were all their weapons. Before them and 
behind them went wasting fires. Surtur cast fire upon the earth ; 
the tree Ygdrassil took fire and burned in aU its great branches ; 
the World Tree was wasted in the blaze. But the fearful fire that 
Surtur brought on the earth destroyed him and all his host. 

The Wolf Hati caught up on Sol, the Sun; the Wolf 
Managarm seized on Mani, the Moon; they devoured them; 
stars fell, and darkness came down on the world. 

HE seas flowed over the burnt and wasted earth 
and the skies were dark above the sea, for Sol 
and Mani were no more. But at last the seas 
drew back and earth appeared again, green and 
beautiful. A new Sun and a new Moon appeared 
in the heavens, one a daughter of Sol and the other 
a daughter of Mani. No grim wolves kept them in pursuit. 
Four of the yoxmger Gk)ds stood on the highest of the world's 




282 CHILDREN OF ODIN 

peaks ; they were Vidar and Vali, the sons of Odin, and Modi 
and Magni, the sons of Thor. Modi and Magni found Miohiir, 
Thor's hammer, and with it they slew "the monsters that still 
raged through the world, the Hound Garm and the Wolf Mana- 
garm. 

Vidar and Vali found in the grass the golden tablets on which 
were inscribed the runes of wisdom of the elder Gods. The 
runes told them of a heaven that was above Asgard, of Gimli, 
that was untouched by Surtur's fire. ViU and Ve, Will and 
Holiness, ruled in it. Baldur and Hodur came from Hela's 
habitation, and the Gods sat on the peak together and held 
speech with each other, caUing to mind the secrets and the 
happenings they had known before Ragnarok, the Twilight of the 
Gods. 

Deep in a wood two of human kind were left ; the fire of 
Surtur did not touch them ; they slept, and when they wakened 
the world was green and, beautiful again. These two fed on the 
dews of the morning ; a woman and a man they were, Lif and 
Lifthrasir. They walked abroad in the world, and from them 
and from their children came the men and women who spread 
themselves over the earth. ' 



Friated in the United States of America. 



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