The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 43

Now, Suttung had a daughter named Gunnlöd, and she by her goodness and her beauty was like Gerda and Skadi, the Giant maids whom the Dwellers in Asgard favored. Suttung, that he might have a guardian for the Magic Mead, enchanted Gunnlöd, turning her from a beautiful Giant maiden into a witch with long teeth and sharp nails. He shut her into the cavern where the jars of the Magic Mead were hidden.

Odin heard of the death of Kvasir whom he honored above all men. The Dwarfs who slew him he had closed up in their caverns so that they were never again able to come out into the World of Men. And then he set out to get the Magic Mead that he might give it to men, so that, tasting it, they would have wisdom, and words would be at their command that would make wisdom loved and remembered.

How Odin won the Magic Mead out of the rock-covered cavern where Suttung had hidden it, and how he broke the enchantment that lay upon Gunnlöd, Suttung's daugh[Pg 94]ter, is a story often told around the hearths of men.

Nine strong thralls were mowing in a field as a Wanderer went by clad in a dark blue cloak and carrying a wanderer's staff in his hand. One of the thralls spoke to the Wanderer: "Tell them in the house of Baugi up yonder that I can mow no more until a whetstone to sharpen my scythe is sent to me." "Here is a whetstone," said the Wanderer, and he took one from his belt. The thrall who had spoken whetted his scythe with it and began to mow. The grass went down before his scythe as if the wind had cut it. "Give us the whetstone, give us the whetstone," cried the other thralls. The Wanderer threw the whetstone amongst them, leaving them quarreling over it, and went on his way.

The Wanderer came to the house of Baugi, the brother of Suttung. He rested in Baugi's house, and at supper time he was given food at the great table. And while he was eating with the Giant a Messenger from the field came in.

"Baugi," said the Messenger, "your nine thralls are all dead. They killed each other with their scythes, fighting in the field about a whetstone. There are no thralls now to do your work."

"What shall I do, what shall I do?" said Baugi the Giant. "My fields will not be mown now, and I shall have no hay to feed my cattle and my horses in the winter."

"I might work for you," said the Wanderer.

"One man's work is no use to me," said the Giant, "I must have the work of nine men."[Pg 95]

"I shall do the work of nine men," said the Wanderer, "give me a trial, and see."

The next day Vegtam the Wanderer went into Baugi's field. He did as much work as the nine thralls had done in a day.