Two new titles every week when you join Gateway to the Classics
HOW THOR FOUND HIS HAMMER
HE frost-giants were always trying to get into Asgard. For
more than half the year they held the world in their grasp,
locking up the streams in their rocky beds, hushing their
music and the music of the birds as well, and leaving
nothing but a wild waste of desolation under the cold sky.
They hated the warm sunshine which stirred the wild flowers
out of their sleep, and clothed the steep mountains with
verdure, and set all the birds a-singing in the swaying
tree-tops. They hated the beautiful god Balder, with whose
presence summer came back to the ice-bound earth, and, above
 hated Thor, whose flashing hammer drove them back
into Jotunheim, and guarded the summer sky with its sudden
gleamings of power. So long as Thor had his hammer Asgard
was safe against the giants.
One morning Thor started up out of a long, deep sleep, and
put out his hand for the hammer; but no hammer was there.
Not a sign of it could be found anywhere, although Thor
anxiously searched for it. Then a thought of the giants came
suddenly in his mind; and his anger rose till his eyes
flashed like great fires, and his red beard trembled with
"Look, now, Loke," he shouted, "they have stolen Mjolner by
enchantment, and no one on earth or in heaven knows where
they have hidden it."
 "We will get Freyja's falcon-guise and search for it,"
answered Loke, who was always quick to get into trouble or
to get out of it again. So they went quickly to Folkvang and
found Freyja surrounded by her maidens and weeping tears of
pure gold, as she had always done since her husband went on
his long journey.
"The hammer has been stolen by enchantment," said Thor.
"Will you lend me the falcon-guise that I may search for
"If it were silver, or even gold, you should have it and
welcome," answered Freyja, glad to help Thor find the
wonderful hammer that kept them all safe from the hands of
So the falcon-guise was brought, and Loke put it on and flew
swiftly out of Asgard to the home of the
 giants. His great
wings made broad shadows over the ripe fields as he swept
along, and the reapers, looking up from their work, wondered
what mighty bird was flying seaward. At last he reached
Jotunheim, and no sooner had he touched ground and taken off
the falcon-guise than he came upon the giant Thrym, sitting
on a hill twisting golden collars for his dogs and stroking
the long manes of his horses.
"Welcome, Loke," said the giant. "How fares it with the gods
and the elves, and what has brought you to Jotunheim?"
"It fares ill with both gods and elves since you stole
Thor's hammer," replied Loke, guessing quickly that Thrym
was the thief; "and I have come to find where you have
 Thrym laughed as only a giant can when he knows he has made
trouble for somebody.
"You won't find it," he said at last. "I have buried it
eight miles under ground, and no one shall take it away
unless he gets Freyja for me as my wife."
The giant looked as if he meant what he said, and Loke,
seeing no other way of finding the hammer, put on his
falcon-guise and flew back to Asgard. Thor was waiting to
hear what news he brought, and both were soon at the great
doors of Folkvang.
"Put on your bridal dress, Freyja," said Thor bluntly, after
his fashion, "and we will ride swiftly to Jotunheim."
But Freyja had no idea of marrying a giant just to please
 in fact, that Thor should ask her to do such a
thing threw her into such a rage that the floor shook under
her angry tread, and her necklace snapped in pieces.
"Do you think I am a weak love-sick girl, to follow you to
Jotunheim and marry Thrym?" she cried indignantly.
Finding they could do nothing with Freyja, Thor and Loke
called all the gods together to talk over the matter and
decide what should be done to get back the hammer. The gods
were very much alarmed, because they knew the frost-giants
would come upon Asgard as soon as they knew the hammer was
gone. They said little, for they did not waste time with
idle words, but they thought long and earnestly, and still
they could find no way of getting
 hold of Mjolner once more.
At last Heimdal, who had once been a Van, and could
therefore look into the future, said: "We must have the
hammer at once or Asgard will be in danger. If Freyja will
not go, let Thor be dressed up and go in her place. Let keys
jingle from his waist and a woman's dress fall about his
feet. Put precious stones upon his breast, braid his hair
like a woman's, hang the necklace around his neck, and bind
the bridal veil around his head."
Thor frowned angrily. "If I dress like a woman," he said,
"you will jeer at me."
"Don't talk of jeers," retorted Loke; "unless that hammer is
brought back quickly the giants will rule in our places."
Thor said no more, but allowed
 himself to be dressed like a
bride, and soon drove off to Jotunheim with Loke beside him
disguised as a servant-maid. There was never such a wedding
journey before. They rode in Thor's chariot and the goats
drew them, plunging swiftly along the way, thunder pealing
through the mountains and the frightened earth blazing and
smoking as they passed. When Thrym saw the bridal party
coming he was filled with delight.
"Stand up, you giants," he shouted to his companions;
"spread cushions upon the benches and bring in Freyja, my
bride. My yards are full of golden-horned cows, black oxen
please my gaze whichever way I look, great wealth and many
treasures are mine, and Freyja is all I lack."
 It was evening when the bride came driving into the giant's
court in her blazing chariot. The feast was already spread
against her coming, and with her veil modestly covering her
face she was seated at the great table, Thrym fairly beside
himself with delight. It wasn't every giant who could marry
If the bridal journey had been so strange that any one but a
foolish giant would have hesitated to marry a wife who came
in such a turmoil of fire and storm, her conduct at the
table ought certainly to have put Thrym on his guard; for
never had bride such an appetite before. The great tables
groaned under the load of good things, but they were quickly
relieved of their burden by the voracious bride. She ate a
 before the astonished giant had fairly begun to
enjoy his meal. Then she devoured eight large salmon, one
after the other, without stopping to take breath; and having
eaten up the part of the feast specially prepared for the
hungry men, she turned upon the delicacies which had been
made for the women, and especially for her own fastidious
Thrym looked on with wondering eyes, and at last, when she
had added to these solid foods three whole barrels of mead,
his amazement was so great that, his astonishment getting
the letter of his politeness, he called out, "Did any one
ever see such an appetite in a bride before, or know a maid
who could drink so much mead?"
Then Loke, who was playing the part of a serving-maid,
 the giant might have some suspicions,
whispered to him, "Freyja was so happy in the thought of
coming here that she has eaten nothing for eight whole
Thrym was so pleased at this evidence of affection that he
leaned forward and raised the veil as gently as a giant
could, but he instantly dropped it and sprang back the whole
length of the hall before the bride's terrible eyes.
"Why are Freyja's eyes so sharp?" he called to Loke. "They
burn me like fire."
"Oh," said the cunning serving-maid, "she has not slept for
a week, so anxious has she been to come here, and that is
why her eyes are so fiery."
Everybody looked at the bride and nobody envied Thrym. They
 thought it was too much like marrying a thunder-storm.
The giant's sister came into the hall just then, and seeing
the veiled form of the bride sitting there went up to her
and asked for a bridal gift.
"If you would have my love and friendship give me those
rings of gold upon your fingers."
But the bride sat perfectly silent. No one had yet seen her
face or heard her voice.
Thrym became very impatient. "Bring in the hammer," he
shouted, "that the bride may be consecrated, and wed us in
the name of Var."
If the giant could have seen the bride's eyes when she heard
these words he would have sent her home as quickly as
possible, and looked somewhere else for a wife.
The hammer was brought and
 placed in the bride's lap, and
everybody looked to see the marriage ceremony; but the
wedding was more strange and terrible than the bridal
journey had been. No sooner did the bride's fingers close
round the handle of Mjolner than the veil which covered her
face was torn off and there stood Thor, the giant-queller,
his terrible eyes blazing with wrath. The giants shuddered
and shrank away from those flaming eyes, the sight of which
they dreaded more than anything else in all the worlds; but
there was no chance of escape. Thor swung the hammer round
his head and the great house rocked on its foundations.
There was a vivid flash of lightning, an awful crash of
thunder, and the burning roof and walls buried the whole
company in one common ruin.
The giants shuddered and shrank away
 Thrym was punished for stealing the hammer, his wedding
guests got crushing blows instead of bridal gifts, and Thor
and Loke went back to Asgard, where the presence of Mjolner
made the gods safe once more.