ODIN FACES AN EVIL MAN
NCE, 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 staying on the bleak island, Odin and
Frigga saw the sons of King
 Hrauding, and both thought
that in them the spirit of heroes could be fostered.
Odin and Frigga made plans to bring the children to
them, so that they might be under their care and
training. 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 of them can
be formed into the noblest hero."
He said that because Frigga favored one of the boys and
he favored the other. Frigga thought well of the elder
boy, Agnar, who had a gentle voice and quiet and kindly
ways. But Odin though 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 climb 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 mad 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
 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 Jötunheim. 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
"I will 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 goodby to Frigga 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 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 toward the sea, and he cast the
oars away. Then, for he was well fit to swim the
roughest sea and climb the highest
 cliffs, he plunged
into the water and struck out toward the shore. And
Agnar, left without oars, went drifting out to sea.
Geirrod climbed the highest cliffs and came to his
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.
ND 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 trampling him to the
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
 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
today and 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
 called him away. Odin then strode into the
hall and saw the King at a table with his friends, all
dark-bearded, and cruel-looking men. And when Odin
looked on them he knew 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 evil 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 bound 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
around 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
They went to sleep, leaving him chained to the pillars
 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 delight 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 him
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.
 The flames died down and Geirrod and his friends saw
before them, not a friendless Wanderer, but one who
looked more kingly than any King of the earth. The
chains fell down from his body and he advanced toward
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.
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