THE MIGHT OF ASGARD
 I HOPE you have not forgotten what I told you of Fenrir,
Loki's fierce wolf-son, whom Odin brought home with him
to Asgard, and of whose reformation, uncouth and
wolfish as he was, All-Father entertained some hope,
thinking that the wholesome, bright air of Gladsheim,
the sight of the fair faces of the Asyniur and the
hearing of the brave words which day by day fell from
the lips of heroes, would, perhaps, have power to
change the cruel nature he had inherited from his
 and make him worthy of his place as a dweller in the
City of Lords.
To Tyr, the brave and strong-handed, Odin assigned the
task of feeding Fenrir, and watching him, lest, in his
cruel strength, he should injure any who were unable to
defend themselves. And truly it was a grand sight, and
one that Asa Odin loved, to see the two together, when,
in the evening after the feast was over in Valhalla,
Fenrir came prowling to Tyr's feet to receive his food
from the one hand strong enough to quell him.
Tyr stood up in his calm strength like a tall,
sheltering rock in which the timid sea-birds find a
home; and Fenrir roared and howled round him like the
bitter, destroying wave that slowly undermines its
Time passed on. Tyr had reached the prime of his
strength; but Fenrir went on growing, not so rapidly as
to awaken fear, as his brother Jörmungand had done, but
slowly, surely, continually—a little stronger and a
little fiercer every day.
The Æsir and the Asyniur had become accustomed to his
presence; the gentlest lady in Asgard no
 longer turned away form the sight of his fierce mouth
and fiery eye; they talked to each other about the
smallest things, and every daily event was commented on
and wondered about; but no one said anything of Fenrir,
or noticed how gradually he grew, or how the glad air
and the strong food, which gave valour and strength to
an Asa, could only develope with greater rapidity
fierceness and cruelty in a wolf. And they would have
gone on living securely together while the monster grew
and grew, if it had not been that Asa Odin's one eye,
enlightened as it was by the upspringing well of wisdom
within, saw more clearly than the eyes of his brothers
TYR FEEDING FENRIR.
One evening, as he stood in the court of Valhalla
watching Tyr as he gave Fenrir his evening meal, a
sudden cloud of care fell on the placid face of
All-Father, and when the wolf, having satisfied his
hunger, crouched back to his lair, he called together a
council of the heads of the Æsir—Thor, Tyr, Bragi,
Hœnir, Frey, and Niörd; and, after pointing out to them
the evil which they had allowed to grow up among them
 asked their counsel as to the best way of overcoming it
before it became too strong to withstand.
Thor, always ready, was the first to answer. "One
would think," he said, "to hear the grave way in which
you speak, Father Odin, that there was no such thing as
a smithy near Asgard, or that I, Asa Thor, had no power
to forge mighty weapons, and had never made my name
known in Jötunheim as the conqueror and binder of
monsters. Set your mind at rest. Before tomorrow
evening at this time I will have forged a chain with
which you shall bind Fenrir; and, once bound in a chain
of my workmanship, there will be nothing further to
fear from him."
The assembled Æsir applauded Thor's speech; but the
cloud did not pass away from Odin's brow.
"You have done many mighty deeds, Son Thor," he said;
"but, if I mistake not, this binding of Fenrir will
prove a task too difficult even for you."
Thor made no answer; but he seized Miölnir,
 and, with sounding steps, strode to the smithy. All
night long the mighty blows of Miölnir rang on the
anvil, and the roaring bellows breathed a hot blast
over all the hill of Asgard. None of the Æsir slept
that night; but every now and then one or other of them
came to cheer Thor at his work. Sometimes Frey brought
his bright face into the dusky smithy; sometimes Tyr
entreated permission to strike a stout blow; sometimes
Bragi seated himself among the workers, and with his
eyes fixed on the glowing iron, poured forth a hero
song, to which the ringing blows kept time.
There was also another guest, who, at intervals, made
his presence known. By the light of the fire the evil
form of Fenrir was seen prowling round in the darkness,
and every now and then a fiendish, mocking laugh filled
the pauses of the song, and the wind, and the ringing
All that night and the next day Thor laboured and
Fenrir watched, and, at the time of the evening meal,
Thor strode triumphantly into Father Odin's presence,
and laid before him
Læ-  ding, the strongest chain that had ever yet been forged on
earth. The Æsir passed it from one to another, and
wondered at its immense length, and at the ponderous
moulding of its twisted links.
"It is impossible for Fenrir to break through this,"
they said; and they were loud in their thanks to Thor
and praises of his prowess; only Father Odin kept a
grave, sad silence.
When Fenrir came into the court to receive his food
from Tyr, it was agreed that Thor and Tyr were to seize
and bind him. They held their weapons in readiness,
for they expected a fierce struggle; but, to their
surprise, Fenrir quietly allowed the chain to be wound
round him, and lay down at his ease, while Thor, with
two strokes of Miölnir, rivetted the last link into one
of the strongest stones on which the court rested.
Then, when the Æsir were about to congratulate each
other on their victory, he slowly raised his ponderous
form, which seemed to dilate in the rising, with one
bound forward snapped the chain like a silken thread,
and walked leisurely to his lair, as if no unusual
thing had befallen him.
 The Æsir, with downcast faces, stood looking at each
other. Once more Thor was the first to speak. "He who
breaks through Læding," he said, "only brings upon
himself the still harder bondage of Dromi." And having
uttered these words, he again lifted Miölnir from the
ground, and weary as he was, returned to the smithy and
resumed his place at the anvil.
For three days and nights Thor worked, and, when he once
more appeared before Father Odin, he carried in his
hand Dromi—the "Strong Binding." This chain exceeded
Læding in strength by one half, and was so heavy that
Asa Thor himself staggered under its weight; and yet
Fenrir showed no fear of allowing himself to be bound
by it, and it cost him very little more effort that on
the first evening to free himself from its fetters.
After this second failure Odin again called a council
of Æsir in Gladsheim, and Thor stood among the others,
silent and shamefaced.
It was now Frey who ventured first to offer an opinion.
"Thor, Try, and other brave sons of the Æsir," he said,
"have passed their lives
 valiantly in fighting against giants and monsters, and,
doubtless, much wise lore has come to them through
these adventures. I, for the most part, have spent my
time peacefully in woods and fields, watching how the
seasons follow each other, and how the silent, dewy
night ever leads up the brightly-smiling day; and in
this watching, many things have been made plain to me
which have not, perhaps, been thought worthy of regard
by my brother Lords. One thing that I have learned is,
the wondrous strength that lies in little things, and
that the labour carried on in darkness and silence ever
brings forth the grandest birth. Thor and Miölnir have
failed to forge a chain strong enough to bind Fenrir;
but, since we cannot be helped by the mighty and
renowned, let us turn to the unknown and weak.
"In the caverns and dim places of the earth live a tiny
race of people, who are always working with unwearied,
noiseless fingers. With Asa Odin's permission, I will
send my messenger, Skirnir, and entreat aid of them;
and we shall, perhaps, find
 that what passes the might of Asgard may be
accomplished in the secret places of Svartheim."
The face of Asa Odin brightened as Frey spoke, and,
rising immediately from his seat, he broke up the
council, and entreated Frey to lose no time in
returning to Alfheim and despatching Skirnir on his