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THE MAKING OF THE HAMMER
NE day as Sif, Thor's beautiful wife, was sitting in the
palace Bilskirner in Thrudvang, or thunder-world, she fell
asleep, with her long hair falling about her shoulders like
a shower of gold. She made a very pretty picture as she sat
there in the sunlight; at least Loke thought so as he passed
by and saw her motionless, like the statue of a goddess in a
great temple, instead of a living goddess in her own palace.
Loke never saw anything beautiful without the wish that
somehow he might spoil it; and when he noticed that Sif was
asleep he thought it was a good time to carry off her golden
hair, and so
 rob her of that of which Thor was most proud.
As noiselessly as he could, and more like a thief than a god, he
stole into the palace, cut off the golden locks and carried
them away, without leaving one behind as a trace of his evil
deed. When Sif awoke and found her beautiful hair gone, she
went and hid herself, lest Thor coming home should miss the
beauty which had always been like a light to his eyes.
And presently Thor came; but no Sif was there to meet him,
making him forget with one proud look from her tender eyes
the dangers and labours of his life. She never failed to
greet him at the threshold before; and the strong god's heart,
which had never beat a second quicker at sight of the
greatest giant in the world, grew faint
 with fear that in
his absence some mishap had befallen her. He ran quickly
from room to room in the palace, and at last he came upon
Sif, hidden behind a pillar, her shorn head in her hands,
weeping bitterly. In a few broken words she told Thor what
had happened, and as she went on, Thor's wrath grew hotter
and hotter until he was terrible to behold. Lightnings
flashed out of his deep-set eyes, the palace trembled under
his angry strides, and it seemed as if his fury would burst
forth like some awful tempest uprooting and destroying
everything in its path.
"I know who did it," he shouted, when Sif had ended her
story. "It was that rascally Loke, and I'll break every bone
in his thievish body;" and without as much as saying
good-  by to his sobbing wife, he strode off like a thunder-cloud to
Asgard, and there, coming suddenly upon Loke, he seized him
by the neck and would have killed him on the spot had not
Loke confessed his deed and promised to restore the golden
"I'll get the swarthy elves to make a crown of golden hair
for Sif more beautiful than she used to wear," gasped Loke,
in the iron grasp of the angry Thor; and Thor, who cared
more for Sif's beauty than for Loke's punishment, let the
thief go, having bound him by solemn pledges to fulfil his
promise without delay.
Loke lost no time, but went far underground to the gloomy
smithy of the dwarfs, who were called Ivald's sons, and who
were wonderful workers in gold and brass.
 "Make me a crown of golden hair," said Loke, "that will grow
like any other hair, and I will give you whatever you want
for your work."
The bargain was quickly made, and the busy little dwarfs
were soon at their task, and in a little time they had done
all that Loke asked, and more too; for in addition to the
shining hair they gave Loke the spear Gungner and the famous
With these treasures in his arms Loke came into Asgard and
began boasting of the wonderful things he had brought from
the smithy of Ivald's sons.
"Nobody like the sons of Ivald to work in metal!" he said.
"The other dwarfs are all stupid little knaves compared with
 Now it happened that the dwarf Brok was standing by and
heard Loke's boasting; his brother Sindre was so cunning a
workman that most of the dwarfs thought him by far the best
in the world. It made Brok angry, therefore, to hear the
sons of Ivald called the best workmen, and he spoke up and
said, "My brother Sindre can make more wonderful things of
gold and iron and brass than ever the sons of Ivald thought
"Your brother Sindre," repeated Luke scornfully. "Who is
your brother Sindre?"
"The best workman in the world," answered Brok.
Loke laughed loud and long. "Go to your wonderful brother
Sindre," said he, "and tell him if he can make three such
 things as the spear, the ship, and the golden hair,
he shall have my head for his trouble." And Loke laughed
longer and louder than before.
Brok was off to the underworld before the laugh died out of
his ears, determined to have Loke's head if magic and hard
work could do it. He went straight to Sindre and told him of
the wager he had laid with Loke, and in a little while
Sindre was hard at work in his smithy. It was a queer place
for such wonderful work as was done in it, for it was
nothing but a great cavern underground, with tools piled up
in little heaps around its sides, and thick darkness
everywhere when the furnace fire was not sending its glow
out into the blackness. If you had looked in now, you would
have seen a broad glare of light streaming out
 from the
furnace, for Brok was blowing the bellows with all his
might, and the coals were fairly blazing with heat. When all
was ready Sindre took a swine-skin, put it into the furnace,
and telling Brok to blow the bellows until his return, went
out of the smithy. Brok kept steadily at work, although a
gad-fly flew in, buzzed noisily about, and finally settling
on his hand, stung him so that he could hardly bear it.
After a while Sindre came back and took out of the furnace a
wonderful boar with bristles of pure gold.
Then Sindre took some gold, and placing it in the furnace
bade Brok blow as if his life depended on it, and went out a
second time. Brok had no sooner begun blowing than the
troublesome gad-fly came
 back, and fastening upon his neck
stung him so fiercely that he could hardly keep his hands
away from his neck; but Brok was a faithful dwarf, who meant
to do his work thoroughly if he died for it, and so he blew
away as if it were the easiest thing in the world, until
Sindre came back and took a shining ring from the fire. The
third time Sindre put iron into the fire, and bidding Brok
blow without ceasing, went out again. No sooner had he
gone than the gad-fly flew in, and settling between Brok's
eyes stung him so sharply that drops of blood ran down into
eyes, and he could not see what he was doing. He blew away as
bravely as he could for some time, but the pain was so keen,
and he was so blind, that at last he raised his hand quickly to
brush the fly
 away. That very instant Sindre returned.
"You have almost spoiled it," he said, as he took out of the
glowing furnace the wonderful hammer Mjolner. "See how short
you have made the handle! But you can't lengthen it now. So
carry the gifts to Asgard, and bring me Loke's head."
Brok started off with the golden boar, the shining ring, and
the terrible hammer.
When he came through the great gate of Asgard the gods were
very anxious to see the end of this strange contest, and
taking their seats on their shining thrones they appointed
Odin, Thor, and Frey to judge between Loke and Brok, as to
which had the most wonderful things. Then Loke brought out
the spear Gungner, which never misses its
 mark, and gave it
to Odin; and the golden hair he gave to Thor, who placed it
on Sif's head, and straightway it began to grow like any
other hair, and Sif was as beautiful as on the day when Loke
saw her in Thor's palace, and robbed her of her tresses; and
to Frey he gave the marvellous ship Skidbladner, which
always found a breeze to drive it wherever its master would
go, no matter how the sea was running, nor from what quarter
the wind was blowing, and which could be folded up and
carried in one's pocket. Then Loke laughed scornfully.
"Bring out the trinkets which that wonderful brother of
yours has made," he said.
Brok came forward, and stood before the wondering gods with
 "This ring," said he, handing it to Odin, "will cast off,
every ninth night, eight other rings as pure and heavy as
itself. This boar," giving it to Frey, "will run more
swiftly in the air, and on the sea, by night or by day, than
the swiftest horse, and no night will be so dark, no world
so gloomy, that the shining of these bristles shall not make
it light as noon-day. And this hammer," placing Mjolner in
Thor's strong hands, "shall never fail, no matter how big
nor how hard that which it smites may be; no matter how far
it is thrown, it will always return to your hand; you may
make it so small that it can be hidden in your bosom, and
its only fault is the shortness of its handle."
Thor swung it round his head, and lightning flashed and
 Asgard, deep peals of thunder rolled through
the sky, and mighty masses of cloud piled quickly up about
him. The gods gathered around, and passed the hammer from
one to the other, saying that it would be their greatest
protection against their enemies, the frost-giants, who were
always trying to force their way into Asgard, and they
declared that Brok had won the wager. Brok's swarthy little
face was as bright as his brother's furnace fire, so
delighted was he to have beaten the boastful Loke. But how
was he to get his wager, now he had won it? It was no easy
matter to take the head off a god's shoulders. Brok thought
a moment. "I will take Loke's head," he said finally,
thinking some of the other gods might help him.
"I will give you whatever you
 want in place of my head,"
growled Loke, angry that he was beaten, and having no idea
of paying his wager by losing his head.
"I will have your head or I will have nothing," answered the
plucky little dwarf, determined not to be cheated out of his
"Well, then, take it," shouted Loke; but by the time Brok
reached the place where he had been standing, Loke was far
away, for he wore shoes with which he could run through the
air or over the water. Then Brok asked Thor to find Loke and
bring him back, which Thor did promptly, for the gods always
saw to it that people kept their promises. When Loke was
brought back Brok wanted to cut his head off at once.
You may cut off my head, but you have no right to touch my
 said Loke, who was cunning, as well as wicked. That
was true, and of course the head could not be taken off
without touching the neck, so Brok had to give it up.
But he determined to do something to make Loke feel that he
had won his wager, so he took an awl and a thong and sewed
his lips together so tightly that he could make no more