The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 82

Skirnir went down to Svartheim with the message from Asgard. The Dwarf Chief swelled with pride to think that it was left to them to make the fetter that would bind Fenrir.

"We Dwarfs can make a fetter that will bind the Wolf," he said. "Out of six things we will make it."

"What are these six things?" Skirnir asked.

"The roots of stones, the breath of a fish, the beards of women, the noise made by the footfalls of cats, the sinews of bears, the spittle of a bird."

"I have never heard the noise made by a cat's footfall, nor have I seen the roots of stones nor the beards of women. But use what things you will, O Helper of the Gods."

The Chief brought his six things together and the Dwarfs in their smithy worked for days and nights. They forged a fetter that was named Gleipnir. Smooth and soft as a silken string it was. Skirnir brought it to Asgard and put it into the hands of the Gods.[Pg 178]

Then a day came when the Gods said that once again they should try to put a fetter upon Fenrir. But if he was to be bound they would bind him far from Asgard. Lyngvi was an island that they often went to to make sport, and they spoke of going there. Fenrir growled that he would go with them. He came and he sported in his own terrible way. And then as if it were to make more sport, one of the Æsir shook out the smooth cord and showed it to Fenrir.

"It is stronger than you might think, Mighty One," they said. "Will you not let it go upon you that we may see you break it?"

Fenrir out of his fiery eyes looked scorn upon them. "What fame would there be for me," he said, "in breaking such a binding?"

They showed him that none in their company could break it, slender as it was. "Thou only art able to break it, Mighty One," they said.

"The cord is slender, but there may be an enchantment in it," Fenrir said.

"Thou canst not break it, Fenrir, and we need not dread thee any more," the Gods said.

Then was the Wolf ravenous wroth, for he lived on the fear that he made in the minds of the Gods. "I am loth to have this binding upon me," he said, "but if one of the Æsir will put his hand in my mouth as a pledge that I shall be freed of it, I will let ye put it on me."

The Gods looked wistfully on one another. It would be health to them all to have Fenrir bound, but who would lose his hand to have it done? One and then another of the[Pg 179] Æsir stepped backward. But not Tyr, the brave swordsman. He stepped to Fenrir and laid his left hand before those tremendous jaws.

"Not thy left hand—thy swordhand, O Tyr," growled Fenrir, and Tyr put his swordhand into that terrible mouth.