The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 67

Now as he swam about before the cave he was aware again of a shadow above him. He slipped toward the shadow of the bank. Then as he turned round he saw a net sweeping toward him. He sank down in the water. But the Magic Net had spread out and he sank into its meshes.

Suddenly he was out of the water and was left gasping on the bank. He would have died had he not undone his transformation.

Soon he appeared as a Dwarf. "Andvari, you are caught; it is one of the Æsir who has taken you," he heard his captor say.

"Loki," he gasped.

"Thou art caught and thou shalt be held," Loki said to him. "It is the will of the Æsir that thou give up thy hoard to me."

"My hoard, my hoard!" the Dwarf shouted. "Never will I give up my hoard."

"I hold thee till thou givest it to me," said Loki.

"Unjust, unjust," shouted Andvari. "It is only thou, Loki, who art unjust. I will go to the throne of Odin and I will have Odin punish thee for striving to rob me of my treasure."

"Odin has sent me to fetch thy hoard to him," said Loki.

"Can it be that all the Æsir are unjust? Ah, yes. In the[Pg 143] beginning of things they cheated the Giant who built the wall round their City. The Æsir are unjust."

Loki had Andvari in his power. And after the Dwarf had raged against him and defied him, he tormented him; at last, trembling with rage and with his face covered with tears, Andvari took Loki into his cavern, and, turning a rock aside, showed him the mass of gold and gems that was his hoard.

At once Loki began to gather into the Magic Net lumps and ingots and circlets of gold with gems that were rubies and sapphires and emeralds. He saw Andvari snatch at something on the heap, but he made no sign of marking it. At last all was gathered into the net, and Loki stood there ready to bear the Dwarf's hoard away.

"There is one thing more to be given," said Loki, "the ring that you, Andvari, snatched from the heap."

"I snatched nothing," said the Dwarf. But he shook with anger and his teeth gnashed together and froth came on his lips. "I snatched nothing from the heap."

But Loki pulled up his arm and there fell to the ground the ring that Andvari had hidden under his armpit.

It was the most precious thing in all the hoard. Had it been left with him Andvari would have thought that he still possessed a treasure, for this ring of itself could make gold. It was made out of gold that was refined of all impurities and it was engraven with a rune of power.

Loki took up this most precious ring and put it on his finger. Then the Dwarf screamed at him, turning his thumbs toward him in a curse:[Pg 144]