Our Little Viking Cousin of Long Ago - C. H. Johnston




How Thor Regained His Lost Weapon

Luncheon was soon over. The boys were eager to hear the rest of the tale, so Lothair again seated himself in his oaken chair, and continued his narrative.

"Thor had been very anxious when Loki had flown away to visit Thrym, for he did not wholly trust the Sly One, and he was afraid that he would not return at all. So, when his feather-dress appeared at the doorway of Bilskirnir, he cried out, in a stern voice:

"'Well, well, Loki, have you succeeded in your errand? What have you learned about my hammer, pray? What has old Thrym been doing, eh? Hurry! Speak up! I am anxious to hear!'

"Loki looked fearlessly at the god of all gods.

"'Well, I have found out everything!' said he. 'Thrym, the King of the Giants, has your hammer. He will not return it unless first the beautiful Freyja becomes his bride. 'What think you of that?'

"Thor grew so angry that he fairly snorted, and his red beard stuck out in the air as if charged with electricity. He growled out his answer with such force that the heavens reverberated with thunder, and the people down on the earth looked fearfully into the air as flashes of lightning played above them.

"'Hah! What is this you tell me, Loki? Is it true that Thrym has sent me such a message? Is it to win the beautiful Freyja that he has made all this trouble? We will ride to see her without delay.'

"So the chariot drawn by his two goats was brought around before the palace. Thor and Loki jumped inside, and soon were speeding through the air to visit the beautiful Freyja, whom they found sitting upon her throne and playing with her wonderful necklace, whose beads sparkled and flashed like drops of water upon which the sun is shining.

"'I am delighted to see you, Thor,' said she, as the god of all gods drew up before the door. Loki flew up to her and dropped at her feet the feather dress which he had borrowed.

"'Thrym has stolen my hammer, Beautiful One,' said Thor. 'He refuses to bring it back until you become his bride. What think you of that, Freyja?'

"The Lovely One grew scarlet with rage, and her hand caught in her necklace and broke it into a thousand little sparkling globules. She cried out, angrily:

"'What? Become the bride of that horrible old monster? Never! Never! I say, never!'

"Thor looked at her with great surprise, for he considered the hammer of such importance that he thought that any one would do anything for him in order to regain it.

"'Well, if I do not get my hammer back, you will probably be captured by Thrym and his giants, for, if they should invade the sky, I would have nothing to fight them with. Hence you would be carried away by force.'

"Freyja said nothing, but looked sorrowfully at both him and Loki, who was whistling a tune, and was nervously tapping his foot upon the palace floor.

"Thor continued as before:

"'I do not see why you do not marry Thrym. He has got great riches. He has twenty milk-white steeds. He has a herd of black oxen and an hundred cows with golden horns.'

"But Freyja had no wish to become the bride of the terrible giant. She stamped her foot and ran out of the hall and slammed the door in the face of the two visitors.

"Thor hung his head dejectedly and ran his hands over his beard.

"'Loki,' said he, at length, 'we will see what my kinsmen have to say about this. Come on! We will visit all the gods and will confer with them.'

"Jumping again into the chariot, the two goats were urged onward, and Thor and Loki sped away into the air, while Thor growled so savagely, in anger, that the people down on the earth looked above, saying: 'Hark! What a terrible thunder shower is brewing!'

"Thor drove to nearly every palace in the sky, and invited all the gods to a conference with him. Soon all were gathered together on the plains of Ida. There was Odin, the All Wise Ruler; Balder, the Bright; Heimdal, the White One; Tyr; Broge; and Vale. They had a long consultation over what was to be done so that Thor could regain his hammer. At last Heimdal, the White One, spoke loudly, and said:

"'It is my advice that we play a trick upon the King of these giants by making him believe that we have done as he asked Loki to do. I suggest that we dress Thor in bridal robes and send him to see Thrym. He can play that he is the beautiful Freyja, can find out where his hammer is hid, and, when Thrym is not looking, he can seize it and can get away.'

"'Good! Good!' said all, and they laughed heartily.

"But Thor did not think so well of it. For was he not the strongest man in the Heavens? And was he not the god of all gods? Imagine him, Thor, dressed up as a beautiful woman with his long, red beard hidden by a kerchief. Thor scowled with anger.

"Loki, however, was anxious to have this done.

"'You should do this, Thor,' said he, 'else the giants will come and take your palace away from you, as you have no hammer to defend yourself with.'

"Thor knew that this was true, so he could do nothing but submit when they brought Freyja's jewels, her long robes, and her veil, and proceeded to dress him up like a woman.

They put on a girdle and hung a bunch of jingling keys from his waist in order to show that he was a good housekeeper. They braided his red hair into two long braids, and put a long stick in his right hand. Then they put on a cap with a long veil attached, so that no one could see his red beard. And, in spite of the fact that he raged and fumed at all of this, every one laughed at him. All the heavens echoed with the laughter of the gods, so that those below thought that many thunder squalls were brewing. And Thor scowled and fumed, but he knew that he must subject himself to all of this, if he were ever to regain his lost hammer. Loki then dressed himself as a servant maid, and, when all was ready, the chariot was brought up, and away went Thor and Loki to the palace of Jotunheim.

"Thrym heard them coming when they were a long way off and, as he was sure that the beautiful Freyja was approaching, he cried out to his followers: 'Arise, giants, and spread embroidered cloths over the benches. Fill the golden goblets with sparkling wine, for Freyja is coming to be my bride.'

"The golden chariot was drawn by the Goat-That-Gnashes-His-Teeth and the Goat-That-Flashes-His-Teeth, and they struck out fiery sparks from their golden-shod hoofs as they pranced along above the clouds. Just as twilight fell the chariot thundered into the courtyard, and, as Thor had on Freyja's jewels, her robes, and her headdress, Thrym thought that it was certainly she. He consequently took her hand, led her to a seat, and smiling exultantly, sang out:

"'Much wealth have I! Many gifts have I!

Freyja, the Beautiful One, is all that I lack!'

"'Bring in much food!' he shouted. 'Every one must join me in my wedding feast!'

"All the giants seated themselves around a long table, and the feasting began. Thor fell to with a will, although he was careful to open only a small space in his veil so that he could swallow his food. He was very hungry; so hungry, in fact, that he forgot that he was a dainty lady. What do you think? He ate up seven whole salmon, one whole side of an ox, a gallon of curds and honey, and washed it all down with three barrels of sweet and spicy mead, or ale. Loki kicked him under the table, saying:

"'Don't eat so much, Thor. You will give yourself away! Don't eat so much!'

"But Thor ate up another entire salmon.

"'Whew!' said Thrym. 'I never saw a bride eat so much before! I never saw a woman drink so much mead!'

"Thor heard what he said and began to get alarmed; for, if the giant should discover who he was, before he obtained possession of his hammer, he would kill him. He sat there silently looking before him, when Loki spoke, and said:

"'Freyja is very hungry, O Thrym, for has she not come eight days upon this journey? Freyja is thirsty, for eight days is a long time to travel.'

"Thrym began to look more complacent. 'Yes,' he answered. 'That is a long time to travel.'

"But now Thrym thought that he would like to implant a kiss upon Freyja's swan-like cheek. So, before Loki could stop him, he reached out with a great hairy hand and pulled at the bridal veil. He jerked it aside just far enough to see Thor's furious, little fiery eyes.

"Thrym sprang backwards, shouting out:

"'Why are Freyja's eyes so sharp? Fire is burning in the eyes of the Beautiful One!'

"But Loki, the Sly One, was again ready for the emergency.

"'Freyja has not slept for eight long nights,' said he. 'It took eight long days and eight long nights to come to Jotunheim.'

"'My, is that so,' said Thrym. 'I do not wonder that my beloved one is tired and red eyed.' He returned to his seat, but continued to look lovingly at his bride-to-be.

"But time wore on, and the moment arrived for the presentation of the bridal gifts. An old giantess, Thrym's sister, came up to where Thor was seated, and, bowing low before him, said:

"'Give me the golden rings from your hand, if you desire my friendship and my love.'

"Thor kept silent, for he knew that the moment he took the gloves from his hairy hands he would be discovered.

"But Thrym feared that his bride had been offended by the request, so he spoke up, and said:

"'Bring me Thor's great hammer, which I stole from him. Place it upon the maiden's lap, and wed us together in the name of Var.'

"How Thor did smile when his beady eyes fell upon his beloved hammer, as it was drawn out of its hiding-place and borne towards him. He sat there as stiff as a poker. There was danger if his disguise was discovered before his hand should grasp the hammer. Nearer, always nearer, the giant's attendants came with it. Nearer, always nearer, until, at last, they laid it on his knees!

"Thor's mighty fist closed upon the handle of his trusty weapon. He now feared no one in the heavens. He threw back his veil; he leaped to his feet. His red beard stood out straight on all sides. His fierce eyes blazed upon the assembled giants. His arm flew back to strike one of his mighty blows!

"'Cr-a-a-sh!' The thunder shook the halls of Jotunheim with a loud, reverberating peal, and Thrym fell dead at the feet of the god of all gods. 'Cr-a-a-sh!' and the old giantess lay dead beside her brother. Again and again the fearful hammer fell, until all the giants had been beaten to death, and lay like the trunks of fallen trees. Loki was laughing and dancing about in a frenzy of joy, for his strategy had been a complete success.

"Thus did Thor, the son of Odin, regain his mighty hammer. It was all due to a smart and crafty trick, and to the aid and assistance of Loki, the Sly One."