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Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 111

Skrymsli warned the parents that he would make a third attempt to secure the child, whereupon they applied in their despair to Loki, who carried the boy out to sea, and concealed him, as a tiny egg, in the roe of a flounder. Returning from his expedition, Loki encountered the giant near the shore, and seeing that he was bent upon a fishing excursion, he insisted upon accompanying him. He felt somewhat uneasy lest the terrible giant should have seen through his device, and therefore thought it would be well for him to be on the spot in case of need. Skrymsli baited his hook, and was more or less successful in his angling, when suddenly he drew up the identical flounder in which Loki had concealed his little charge. Opening the fish upon his knee, the giant proceeded to minutely examine the roe, until he found the egg which he was seeking.

The plight of the boy was certainly perilous, but Loki, watching his chance, snatched the egg out of the giant’s grasp, and transforming it again into the child, he instructed him secretly to run home, passing through the boathouse on his way and closing the door behind him. The terrified boy did as he was told immediately he found himself on land, and the giant, quick to observe his flight, dashed after him into the boathouse. Now Loki had cunningly placed a sharp spike in such a position [221]that the great head of the giant ran full tilt against it, and he sank to the ground with a groan, whereupon Loki, seeing him helpless, cut off one of his legs. Imagine the god’s dismay, however, when he saw the pieces join and immediately knit together. But Loki was a master of guile, and recognising this as the work of magic, he cut off the other leg, promptly throwing flint and steel between the severed limb and trunk, and thereby hindering any further sorcery. The peasants were immensely relieved to find that their enemy was slain, and ever after they considered Loki the mightiest of all the heavenly council, for he had delivered them effectually from their foe, while the other gods had lent only temporary aid.

The Giant Architect

Notwithstanding their wonderful bridge Bifröst, the tremulous way, and the watchfulness of Heimdall, the gods could not feel entirely secure in Asgard, and were often fearful lest the frost giants should make their way into Asgard. To obviate this possibility, they finally decided to build an impregnable fortress; and while they were planning how this could be done, an unknown architect came with an offer to undertake the construction, provided the gods would give him sun, moon, and Freya, goddess of youth and beauty, as reward. The gods were wroth at so presumptuous an offer, but when they would have indignantly driven the stranger from their presence, Loki urged them to make a bargain which it would be impossible for the stranger to keep, and so they finally told the architect that the guerdon should be his, provided the fortress were finished in the course of a single winter, and that he accomplished the work with no other assistance than that of his horse Svadilfare. [222]


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