|The Story of Siegfried|
|by James Baldwin|
|Legends of the Nibelungen hero, Siegfried, full of the mystery, awe, and poetry of the northern lands. They tell of how Siegfried forged the wondrous sword, Balmung, of his riding through flaming fire to awaken the maiden, Brunhild, and of the many other strange and daring deeds which he wrought. Many of the Norse myths are interwoven in the tale. The best rendition for children of the Siegfried legends, based on the Eddas, the Volsung Saga, and the Nibelungen-lied. Ages 11-14 |
IN NIBELUNGEN LAND AGAIN
 WHEN the folk of Isenland learned that their queen had been
outwitted and won by a strange chief from a far-off and
unknown land, great was their sorrow and dismay; for they
loved the fair maiden queen, and they feared to exchange her
mild reign for that of an untried foreigner. Nor was the
queen herself at all pleased with the issue of the late
contest. She felt no wish to leave her loved people, and her
pleasant home, and the fair island which was her kingdom, to
take up her abode in a strange land, as the queen of one for
whom she could feel no respect. And every one wondered how
it was that a man like Gunther, so commonplace, and so
feeble in his every look and act, could have done such
deeds, and won the wary warrior maiden.
"If it had only been Siegfried!" whispered the maidens among
"If it had only been Siegfried!" murmured the knights and
the fighting men.
"If it had only been Siegfried!" thought the queen, away
down in the most secret corner of her heart.
 And she shut
herself up in her room, and gave wild vent to her feelings
of grief and disappointment.
Then heralds mounted the swiftest horses, and hurried to
every village and farm, and to every high-towered castle, in
the land. And they carried word to all of Brunhild's kinsmen
and liegemen, bidding them to come without delay to
Isenstein. And every man arose as with one accord, and
hastened to obey the call of their queen. And the whole land
was filled with the notes of busy preparation for war. And
day by day to the castle the warriors came and went, and the
sound of echoing horse-hoofs, and the rattling of ready
swords, and the ringing of the war shields, were heard on
"What means this treason?" cried Gunther in dismay. "The coy
warrior maiden would fain break her plighted word; and we,
here in our weakness, shall perish from her wrath."
And even old Hagen, who had never felt a fear when meeting a
host in open battle, was troubled at the thought of the
mischief which was brewing.
" 'Tis true, too true," he said, and the dark frown deepened
on his face, "that we have done a foolish thing. For we four
men have come to this cheerless land upon a hopeless errand;
and, if we await the gathering of the storm, our ruin will
be wrought." And he grasped his sword-hilt with such force,
that his knuckles grew white as he paced fiercely up and
down the hall.
 Dankwart, too, bewailed the fate that had driven them into
this net, from which he saw no way of escape. And both the
warriors besought King Gunther to take ship at once, and to
sail for Rhineland before it was too late. But Siegfried
"What account will you give to the folk at home, if you thus
go back beaten, outwitted, and ashamed? Brave warriors,
indeed! we should be called. Wait a few days, and trust all
to me. When Brunhild's warriors shall be outnumbered by our
own, she will no longer hesitate, and our return to
Rhineland shall be a triumphant one; for we shall carry the
glorious warrior queen home with us."
"Yes," answered Hagen, mocking, "we will wait until her
warriors are outnumbered by our own. But how long shall that
be? Will the lightning carry the word to Burgundy? and will
the storm clouds bring our brave men from across the sea?
Had you allowed King Gunther's plans to be followed, they
would have been here with us now, and we might have quelled
this treason at the first."
And Dankwart said, "By this time the fields of the
Southland are green with young corn, and the meadows are
full of sweet-smelling flowers, and the summer comes on
apace. Why should we stay longer in this chilly and
fog-ridden land, waiting upon the whims of a fickle
maiden,—as fickle as the winds themselves? Better face the
smiles and the jeers of the folk at home than suffer
shameful shipwreck in this cold Isenland."
 But Siegfried would not be moved by the weak and wavering
words of his once valiant comrades.
"Trust me," he said, "and all will yet be well. Wait here
but a few days longer in quietness, while I go aboard ship,
and fare away. Within three days I will bring to Isenstein a
host of warriors such as you have never seen. And then the
fickle fancies of Brunhild will flee, and she will no longer
refuse to sail with us to the now sunny Southland."
Hagen frowned still more deeply; and as he strode away he
muttered, "He only wants to betray us, and leave us to die
in this trap which he himself has doubtless set for us."
But Gunther anxiously grasped the hand of Siegfried, and
said, "Go! I trust you, and believe in you. But be sure not
to linger, for no one knows what a day may bring forth in
this uncertain and variable clime."
Without saying a word in reply, Siegfried turned, and
hastened down to the shore. Without any loss of time he
unmoored the little ship, and stepped aboard. Then he donned
his Tarnkappe, spread the sails, and seized the helm; and
the vessel, like a bird with woven wings, sped swiftly out
of the bay, and Isenstein, with its wide halls and
glass-green towers, was soon lost to the sight of the
invisible helmsman. For four and twenty hours did Siegfried
guide the flying vessel as it leaped from wave to wave, and
sent the white foam dashing to left and right like flakes of
snow. And late on the morrow he came to a rock-bound coast,
where steep cliffs and
 white mountain peaks rose up, as it
were, straight out of the blue sea. Having found a safe and
narrow inlet, he moored his little bark; and, keeping the
Tarnkappe well wrapped around him, he stepped ashore.
Briskly he walked along the rough shore, and through a dark
mountain pass, until he came to a place well known to
him,—a place where, years before, he had seen a cavern's
yawning mouth, and a great heap of shining treasures, and
two princes dying of hunger. But now, upon the selfsame spot
there stood a frowning fortress, dark and gloomy and strong,
which Siegfried himself had built in after-years; and the
iron gates were barred and bolted fast, and no living being
was anywhere to be seen.
Loud and long did Siegfried, wrapped in his cloak of
darkness, knock and call outside. At last a grim old giant,
who sat within, and kept watch and ward of the gate, cried
"Who knocks there?"
Siegfried, angrily and in threatening tones, answered,—
"Open the gate at once, lazy laggard, and ask no questions.
A stranger, who has lost his way among the mountains, seeks
shelter from the storm which is coming. Open the gate
without delay, or I will break it down upon your dull head."
Then the giant in hot anger seized a heavy iron beam, and
flung the gate wide open, and leaped quickly out to throttle
the insolent stranger. Warily he glanced around
 on every
side; but Siegfried was clad in the magic Tarnkappe, and the
giant could see no one. Amazed and ashamed, he turned to
shut the gate, and to go again to his place; for he began to
believe that a foolish dream had awakened and deceived him.
Then the unseen Siegfried seized him from behind; and though
he struggled hard, and fought with furious strength, our
hero threw him upon the ground, and bound him with cords of
The unwonted noise at the gate rang through the castle, and
awakened the sleeping inmates. The dwarf Alberich, who kept
the fortress against Siegfried's return, and who watched the
Nibelungen treasure, that was stored in the hollow hill,
arose, and donned his armor, and hurried to the giant's
help. A right stout dwarf was Alberich; and, as we have seen
in a former adventure, he was as bold as stout. Armed in a
war coat of steel, he ran out to the gate, flourishing a
seven-thonged whip, on each thong of which a heavy golden
ball was hung. Great was his amazement and his wrath when he
saw the giant lying bound and helpless upon the ground; and
with sharp, eager eyes he peered warily around to see if,
perchance, he might espy his hidden foe. But, when he could
find no one, his anger grew hotter than before, and he swung
his golden scourge fiercely about his head. Well was it for
Siegfried then, that the Tarnkappe hid him from sight; for
the dwarf kept pounding about in air so sturdily and strong,
that, even as it was, he split the hero's
 shield from the
centre to the rim. Then Siegfried rushed quickly upon the
doughty little fellow, and seized him by his long gray
beard, and threw him so roughly upon the ground, that
Alberich shrieked with pain.
"Spare me, I pray you," he cried. "I know that you are no
mean knight; and, if I had not promised to serve my master
Siegfried until death, I fain would acknowledge you as my
But Siegfried bound the writhing dwarf, and placed him,
struggling and helpless, by the side of the giant.
"Tell me, now, your name, I pray," said the dwarf; "for I
must give an account of this adventure to my master when he
"Who is your master?"
"His name is Siegfried; and he is king of the Nibelungens,
and lord, by right, of the great Nibelungen Hoard. To me and
to my fellows he long ago intrusted the keeping of this
castle and of the Hoard that lies deep hidden in the hollow
hill; and I have sworn to keep it safe until his return."
Then Siegfried threw off his Tarnkappe, and stood in his own
proper person before the wonder-stricken dwarf.
"Noble Siegfried," cried the delighted Alberich, "right glad
I am that you have come again to claim your own. Spare my
life, and pardon me, I pray, and let me know what is your
will. Your bidding shall be done at once."
 "Hasten, then," said Siegfried, loosing him from his
bonds,—"hasten, and arouse my Nibelungen hosts. Tell them
that their chief has come again to Mist Land, and that he
has work for them to do."
Then Alberich, when he had set the giant gate-keeper free,
sent heralds to every town and castle in the land to make
known the words and wishes of Siegfried. And the gallant
Nibelungen warriors, when they heard that their liege lord
had come again, sprang up joyously, and girded on their
armor, and hastened to obey his summons. And soon the
strong-built castle was full of noble men,—of earls, and
the faithful liegemen who had known Siegfried of old. And
joyful and happy were the words of greeting.
In the mean while, Alberich had busied himself in preparing
a great feast for his master and his master's chieftains. In
the long low hall that the dwarfs had hollowed out within
the mountain's heart, the table was spread, and on it was
placed every delicacy that could be wished. There were
fruits and wines from the sunny Southland, and snow-white
loaves made from the wheat of Gothland, and fish from Old
Ægir's kingdom, and venison from the king's wild-wood, and
the flesh of many a fowl most delicately baked, and, near
the head of the board, a huge wild boar roasted whole. And
the hall was lighted by a thousand tapers, each held in the
hands of a swarthy elf; and the guests were served by the
elf women, who ran hither and thither, obedient to every
call. But Alberich, at Siegfried's desire, sat
 upon the dais
at his lord's right hand. Merriment ruled the hour, and
happy greetings were heard on every side. And, when the
feast was at its height, a troop of hill-folk came dancing
into the hall; and a hundred little fiddlers, perched in the
niches of the wall, made merry music, and kept time for the
busy, clattering little feet. And when the guests had tired
of music and laughter, and the dancers had gone away, and
the tables no longer groaned under the weight of good cheer
Siegfried and his earls still sat at their places, and
beguiled the hours with pleasant talk and with stories of
the earlier days. And Alberich, as the master of the feast,
told a tale of the dwarf folk, and how once they were
visited in their hill home by Loki the Mischief-maker.
My story begins with the Asa-folk, and has as much to do
with the gods as with my kinsmen the dwarfs. It happened
long ago, when the world was young, and the elf-folk had not
yet lost all their ancient glory.
Sif, as you all know, is Thor's young wife, and she is very
fair. It is said, too, that she is as gentle and lovable as
her husband is rude and strong; and that while he rides
noisily through storm and wind, furiously fighting the foes
of the mid-world, she goes quietly about, lifting up the
down-trodden, and healing the broken-hearted. In the summer
season, when the Thunderer has driven the Storm-giants back
 mist-hidden mountain homes, and the black clouds
have been rolled away, and piled upon each other in the far
east, Sif comes gleefully tripping through the meadows,
raising up the bruised flowers, and with smiles calling the
frightened birds from their hiding-places to frolic and sing
in the fresh sunshine again. The growing fields and the
grassy mountain slopes are hers; and the rustling green
leaves, and the sparkling dewdrops, and the sweet odors of
spring blossoms, and the glad songs of the summer time,
follow in her footsteps.
Sif, as I have said, is very fair; and, at the time of my
story, there was one thing of which she was a trifle vain.
That was her long silken hair, which fell in glossy waves
almost to her feet. On calm, warm days, she liked to sit by
the side of some still pool, and gaze at her own beauty
pictured in the water below, while, like the sea maidens of
old Ægir's kingdom, she combed and braided her rich,
flowing tresses. And in all the mid-world nothing has ever
been seen so like the golden sunbeams as was Sif's silken
At that time the cunning Mischief-maker, Loki, was still
living with the Asa-folk. And, as you well know, this evil
worker was never pleased save when he was plotting trouble
for those who were better than himself. He liked to meddle
with business which was not his own, and was always trying
to mar the pleasures of others. His tricks and jokes were
seldom of the harmless kind, and yet great good sometimes
grew out of them.
 When Loki saw how proud Sif was of her long hair, and how
much time she spent in combing and arranging it, he planned
a very cruel piece of mischief. He hid himself in a little
rocky cavern, near the pool where Sif was wont to sit, and
slily watched her all the morning as she braided and
unbraided her flowing silken locks. At last, overcome by the
heat of the mid-day sun, she fell asleep upon the grassy
bank. Then the Mischief-maker quietly crept near, and with
his sharp shears cut off all that wealth of hair, and shaved
her head until it was as smooth as her snow-white hand. Then
he hid himself again in the little cave, and chuckled with
great glee at the wicked thing he had done.
By and by Sif awoke, and looked into the stream; but she
started quickly back with horror and affright at the image
which she saw. She felt of her shorn head; and, when she
learned that those rich waving tresses which had been her
joy and pride were no longer there, she knew not what to do.
Hot, burning tears ran down her cheeks, and with sobs and
shrieks she began to call aloud for Thor. Forthwith there
was a terrible uproar. The lightning flashed, and the
thunder rolled, and an earthquake shook the rocks and trees.
Loki, looking out from his hiding place, saw that Thor was
coming, and he trembled with fear; for he knew, that, should
the Thunderer catch him, he would have to pay dearly for his
wicked sport. He ran quickly out of the cavern, and leaped
into the river, and
 changed himself into a salmon, and swam
as swiftly as he could away from the shore.
But Thor was not so easily fooled; for he had long known
Loki, and was acquainted with all his cunning ways. So when
he saw Sif bewailing her stolen hair, and beheld the
frightened salmon hurrying alone towards the deep water, he
was at no loss to know whose work this mischief was.
Straightway he took upon himself the form of a sea-gull, and
soared high up over the water. Then, poising a moment in the
air, he darted, swift as an arrow, down into the river. When
he arose from the water, he held the struggling salmon
tightly grasped in his strong talons.
"Vile Mischief-maker!" cried Thor, as he alighted upon the
top of a neighboring crag: "I know thee who thou art; and I
will make thee bitterly rue the work of this day. Limb from
limb will I tear thee, and thy bones will I grind into
Loki, when he saw that he could not by any means get away
from the angry Thunderer, changed himself back to his own
form, and humbly said to Thor,—
"What if you do your worst with me? Will that give back a
single hair to Sif's shorn head? What I did was only a
thoughtless joke, and I really meant no harm. Do but spare
my life, and I will more than make good the mischief I have
"How can that be?" asked Thor.
"I will hie me straight to the secret smithies of dwarfs,"
answered Loki; "and those cunning little
 kinsmen of mine
shall make golden tresses for fair Sif, which will grow upon
her head like other hair, and cause her to be an
hundred-fold more beautiful than before."
Thor knew that Loki was a slippery fellow, and that he did
not always do what he promised, and hence he would not let
him go. He called to Frey, who had just come up, and said,—
"Come, cousin Frey, help me to rid the world of this sly
thief. While I hold fast to his raven hair, and his long
slim arms, do you seize him by the heels, and we will give
his limbs to the fishes, and his body to the birds, for
Loki, now thoroughly frightened, wept, and kissed Frey's
feet, and humbly begged for mercy. And he promised that he
would bring from the dwarf's smithy, not only the golden
hair for Sif, but also a mighty hammer for Thor, and a swift
steed for Frey. So earnest were his words, and so pitiful
was his plea, that Thor at last set the trembling
Mischief-maker free, and bade him hasten away on his errand.
Quickly, then, he went in search of the smithy of the
He crossed the desert moorlands, and came, after three days,
to the bleak hill country, and the rugged mountain land of
the South. There the earthquake had split the mountains
apart, and dug dark and bottomless gorges, and hollowed out
many a low-walled cavern, where the light of day was never
seen. Through deep, winding ways, and along narrow crevices,
Loki crept; and he glided under huge rocks, and downward
 through slanting, crooked clefts, until at last he came to a
great underground hall, where his eyes were dazzled by a
light which was stronger and brighter than day; for on every
side were glowing fires, roaring in wonderful little forges,
and blown by wonderful little bellows. And the vaulted roof
above was thickly set with diamonds and precious stones,
that sparkled and shone like thousands of bright stars in
the blue sky. And the little dwarfs, with comical brown
faces, and wearing strange leathern aprons, and carrying
heavy hammers, were hurrying here and there, each busy at
his task. Some were smelting pure gold from the coarse rough
rocks; others were making precious gems, and rich rare
jewels, such as the proudest king would be glad to wear.
Here, one was shaping pure, round pearls from dewdrops and
maidens' tears; there, another wrought green emeralds from
the first leaves of spring. So busy were they all, that they
neither stopped nor looked up when Loki came into their
hall, but all kept hammering and blowing and working, as if
their lives depended upon their being always busy.
After Loki had curiously watched their movements for some
time, he spoke to the dwarf whose forge was nearest to him,
and made known his errand. But the little fellow was
fashioning a flashing diamond, which he called the Mountain
of Light; and he scarcely looked up as he answered,—
"I do not work in gold. Go to Ivald's sons: they will make
whatever you wish."
 To Ivald's sons, then, in the farthest and brightest corner
of the hall, Loki went. They very readily agreed to make the
golden hair for Sif, and they began the work at once. A lump
of purest gold was brought, and thrown into the glowing
furnace; and it was melted and drawn, and melted and drawn,
seven times. Then it was given to a little brown elf with
merry, twinkling eyes, who carried it with all speed to
another part of the great hall, where the dwarfs' pretty
wives were spinning. One of the little women took the yellow
lump from the elf's hands, and laid it, like flax, upon her
spinning wheel. Then she sat down and began to spin; and, as
she span, the dwarf-wives sang a strange, sweet song of the
old, old days when the dwarf folk ruled the world. And the
tiny brown elves danced gleefully around the spinner, and
the thousand little anvils rang out a merry chorus to the
music of the singers. And the yellow gold was twisted into
threads, and the threads ran into hair softer than silk, and
finer than gossamer. And at last the dwarf-woman held in her
hand long golden tresses ten times more beautiful than the
amber locks that Loki had cut from Sif's fair head. When
Ivald's sons, proud of their skill, gave the rare treasure
to the Mischief-maker, Loki smiled as if he were well
pleased; but in his heart he was angry because the dwarfs
had made so fair a piece of workmanship. Then he said,—
"This is, indeed, very handsome, and will be very becoming
to Sif. Oh, what an uproar was made about
 those flaxen
tresses that she loved so well! And that reminds me that her
husband, the gruff old Giant-killer, wants a hammer. I
promised to get him one; and, if I fail, he will doubtless
be rude with me. I pray you make such a hammer as will be of
most use to him in fighting the Jotuns, and you may win
favor both for yourselves and me."
"Not now," said the elder of Ivald's sons. "We cannot make
it now; for who would dare to send a present to Thor before
he has offered one to Odin, the great All-Father?"
"Make me, then, a gift for Odin," cried Loki; "and he will
shelter me from the Thunderer's wrath."
So the dwarfs put iron into their furnace, and heated it to
a glowing white-heat; and then they drew it out, and rolled
it upon their anvils, and pounded it with heavy hammers,
until they had wrought a wondrous spear, such as no man had
ever seen. Then they inlaid it with priceless jewels, and
plated the point with gold seven times tried.
"This is the spear Gungner," said they. "Take it to the
great All-Father as the best gift of his humble
"Make me now a present for Frey the gentle," said Loki. "I
owe my life to him; and I have promised to take him a swift
steed that will bear him everywhere."
Then Ivald's sons threw gold into the furnace, and blew with
their bellows until the very roof of the great cave-hall
seemed to tremble, and the smoke rolled up
 the wide chimney,
and escaped in dense fumes from the mountain-top. When they
left off working, and the fire died away, a fairy ship, with
masts and sails, and two banks of long oars, and a golden
dragon stem, rose out of the glowing coals; and it grew in
size until it filled a great part of the hall, and might
have furnished room for a thousand warriors with their arms
and steeds. Then, at a word from the dwarfs, it began to
shrink, and it became smaller and smaller until it was no
broader than an oak leaf. And the younger of Ivald's sons
folded it up like a napkin, and gave it to Loki, saying,—
"Take this to Frey the gentle. It is the ship Skidbladner.
When it is wanted for a voyage, it will carry all the
Asa-folk and their weapons and stores; and, no matter where
they wish to go, the wind will always drive it straight to
the desired port. But, when it is not needed, the good Frey
may fold it up, as I have done, and carry it safely in his
Loki was much pleased; and, although he felt disappointed
because he had no present for Thor, he heartily thanked the
dwarfs for their kindness; and taking the golden hair, and
the spear Gungner, and the ship Skidbladner, he bade Ivald's
sons good-by, and started for home. But, before he reached
the narrow doorway which led out of the cave, he met two
crooked-backed dwarfs, much smaller and much uglier than any
he had seen before.
"What have you there?" asked one of them, whose name was
 "Hair for Sif, a spear for Odin, and a ship for Frey,"
"Let us see them," said Brok.
Loki kindly showed them the strange gifts, and told them,
that, in his belief, no dwarfs in all the world had ever
before wrought such wonderful things.
"Who made them?" inquired Brok.
"Ah! Ivald's sons sometimes do good work, but there are many
other dwarfs who can do better. For instance, my brother
Sindre, who stands here, can make three other treasures
altogether as good as those you have."
"It cannot be!" cried Loki.
"I tell you the truth," said the dwarf. "And, to show you
that I mean just what I say, I will wager against your head
all the diamonds in the ceiling above us, that he will make
not only as good treasures, but those which the Asas will
esteem much higher."
"Agreed!" cried Loki,—"agreed! I take the wager. Let your
brother try his skill at once."
The three went straightway to Sindre's forge, and the
brothers began their task. When the fire was roaring hot,
and the sparks flew from the chimney like showers of
shooting stars, Sindre put a pig skin into the furnace, and
bade Brok blow the bellows with all his might, and never
stop until he should speak the word. The flames leaped up
white and hot, and the furnace glowed with a dazzling light,
while Brok plied the
 bellows, and Sindre, with unblinking
eyes, watched the slowly changing colors that played around
the melted and shapeless mass within. While the brothers
were thus intent upon their work, Loki changed himself to a
great horsefly, and settled upon Brok's hand, and bit him
without mercy. But the dwarf kept on blowing the bellows,
and stopped not until his brother cried out,—
Then Sindre drew out of the flickering blue flames a huge
wild boar with long tusks of ivory, and golden bristles that
glittered and shone like the beams of the sun.
"This is Golden Bristle," said the dwarf. "It is the gift of
Brok and his brother to the gentle Frey. His ship
Skidbladner can carry him only over the sea; but Golden
Bristle shall be a trusty steed that will bear him with the
speed of the wind over the land or through the air."
Next the dwarfs threw gold into the furnace, and Brok plied
the bellows, and Sindre gazed into the flames, as before.
And the great horsefly buzzed in Brok's face, and darted at
his eyes, and at last settled upon his neck, and stung him
until the pain caused big drops of sweat to roll off of his
forehead. But the dwarf stopped not nor faltered, until his
brother again cried out,—
This time Sindre drew out a wondrous ring of solid
sparkling all over with the rarest and most costly jewels.
"This is the ring Draupner," said he. "It is well worthy to
be worn on Odin's finger. Every ninth day eight other rings,
equal to it in every way, shall drop from it. It shall
enrich the earth, and make the desert blossom as the rose;
and it shall bring plentiful harvests, and fill the farmers'
barns with grain, and their houses with glad good cheer.
Take it to the All-Father as the best gift of the earth-folk
to him and to mankind."
After this the dwarfs took iron which had been brought from
the mountains of Norse Land; and, after beating it upon
their bellows until it glowed white and hot, Sindre threw it
into the furnace.
"This shall be the gift of gifts," said he to Brok. "Ply the
bellows as before, and do not, for your life, stop or falter
until the work is done."
But as Brok blew the bellows, and his brother gazed into the
glowing fire, the horsefly came again. This time he settled
between the dwarf's eyes, and stung his eyelids until the
blood filled his eyes, and ran down his cheeks, and blinded
him so that he could not see. At last, in sore distress, and
wild with pain, Brok let go of the bellows, and lifted his
hand to drive the fly away. Then Sindre drew his work out of
the furnace. It was a blue steel hammer, well made in every
way, save that the handle was half an inch too short.
"This is the mighty Mjolner," said Sindre to Loki,
 who had
again taken his proper shape. "The Thunderer may have the
hammer that you promised him; although it is our gift, and
not yours. The stoutest giant will not be able now to cope
with Thor. No shield nor armor, nor mountain wall, nor,
indeed, any thing on earth, shall be proof against the
lightning strokes of Mjolner."
And Brok took the three treasures which Sindre had
fashioned, and went with Loki to Asgard, the home of the
Asa-folk. And they chose Odin and Thor and Frey to examine
and judge which was best,—Loki's three gifts, the work of
Ivald's sons; or Brok's three gifts, the work of Sindre.
When the judges were seated, and all were in readiness, Loki
went forward and gave to Odin the spear Gungner, that would
always hit the mark; and to Frey he gave the ship
Skidbladner, that would sail whithersoever he wished. Then
he gave the golden hair to Thor, who placed it upon the head
of fair Sif; and it grew there, and was a thousand-fold more
beautiful than the silken tresses she had worn before.
After the Asas had carefully looked at these treasures, and
talked of their merits, little Brok came humbly forward and
offered his gifts. To Odin he gave the precious ring
Draupner, already dropping richness. To Frey he gave the
boar Golden Bristle, telling him that wherever he chose to
go this steed would serve him well, and would carry him
faster than any horse, while his shining bristles would
light the way on the darkest
 night or in the gloomiest path.
At last he gave to Thor the hammer Mjolner, and said that
it, like Odin's spear, would never miss the mark, and that
whatever it struck, it would crush in pieces, and
whithersoever it might be hurled, it would come back to his
Then the Asas declared at once that Thor's hammer was the
best of all the gifts, and that the dwarf had fairly won the
wager. But, when Brok demanded Loki's head as the price of
the wager, the cunning Mischief-maker said,—
"My head is, by the terms of our agreement, yours; but my
neck is my own, and you shall not on any account touch or
So Brok went back to his brother and his smithy without the
head of Loki, but he was loaded with rich and rare presents
from the Asa-folk.
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