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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Story Of Siegfried - Chapter XVII. How Siegfried Lived in Nibelungen Land
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The Story Of Siegfried - Chapter XVII. How Siegfried Lived in Nibelungen Land Post by :hirini-reedy Category :Long Stories Author :James Baldwin Date :February 2011 Read :1797

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The Story Of Siegfried - Chapter XVII. How Siegfried Lived in Nibelungen Land

When the twelve-days' high-tide at King Gunther's
home-coming had been brought to an end, and the guests had
all gone to their homes, Siegfried, too, prepared to bid
farewell to the Rhineland kings, and to wend to his own
country. But he was not to go alone; for Kriemhild, the
peerless princess, was to go with him as his bride. They had
been wedded during the merry festivities which had just
closed, and that event had added greatly to the general joy;
for never was there a fairer or a nobler pair than Siegfried
the fearless, and Kriemhild the peerless.

"It grieves my heart to part with you," said Gunther,
wringing Siegfried's hand. "It will fare but ill with us, I
fear, when we no longer see your radiant face, or hear your
cheery voice."

"Say not so, my brother," answered Siegfried; "for the gods
have many good things in store for you. And, if ever you
need the help of my arm, you have but to say the word, and I
will hasten to your aid."

Then the Burgundian kings besought the hero to take the
fourth part of their kingdom as his own and Kriemhild's, and
to think no more of leaving them. But Siegfried would not
agree to this. His heart yearned to see his father and
mother once again, and then to return to his own loved
Nibelungen Land. So he thanked the kings for their kind
offer, and hastened to make ready for his intended journey.

Early on Midsummer Day the hero and his bride rode out of
Gunther's dwelling, and turned their faces northward. And
with them was a noble retinue of warriors,--five hundred
brave Burgundians, with Eckewart as their chief,--who had
sworn to be Queen Kriemhild's vassals in her new,
far-distant home. Thirty and two fair maidens, too, went
with her. And with Siegfried were his Nibelungen earls.

As the company rode down the sands, and filed gayly along
the river-road, it seemed a lovely although a sad sight to
their kinsmen who gazed after them from the castle-towers.
Fair and young were all the folk; and the world, to most,
was still untried. And they rode, in the morning sunlight,
away from their native land, nor recked that never again
would they return. Each warrior sat upon a charger, richly
geared with gilt-red saddle, and gorgeous bridle, and
trappings of every hue; and their war-coats were bright and
dazzling; and their spears glanced in the sun; and their
golden shields threw rays of resplendent light around them.
The maidens, too, were richly dight in broidered cloaks of
blue, and rare stuffs brought from far-off Araby; and each
sat on a snow-white palfrey geared with silken housings, and
trappings of bright blue.

For some days the company followed the course of the river,
passing through many a rich meadow, and between lovely
vineyards, and fields of yellow corn. Then they rode over a
dreary, barren waste, and through a wild greenwood, and
reached, at last, the hills which marked the beginning of
King Siegmund's domains. Then Siegfried sent fleet heralds
before them to carry to his father the tidings of his coming
with his bride, fair Kriemhild. Glad, indeed, were old King
Siegmund and Siegfried's gentle mother when they heard this
news.

"Oh, happy is the day!" cried the king. "Thrice happy be the
day that shall see fair Kriemhild a crowned queen, and
Siegfried a king in the throne of his fathers!"

And they showered upon the heralds who had brought the happy
news rich fees of gold and silver, and gave them garments of
silken velvet. And on the morrow they set out, with a train
of earl-folk and lovely ladies, to meet their son and his
bride. For one whole day they journeyed to the old fortress
of Santen, where in former days the king's dwelling had
been. There they met the happy bridal-party, and fond and
loving were the hearty greetings they bestowed upon
Kriemhild and the radiant Siegfried. Then, without delay,
they returned to Siegmund's kingly hall; and for twelve days
a high tide, more happy and more splendid than that which
had been held in Burgundy, was made in honor of Siegfried's
marriage-day. And, in the midst of those days of sport and
joyance, the old king gave his crown and sceptre to his son;
and all the people hailed Siegfried, king of the broad
Lowlands, and Kriemhild his lovely queen.

Old stories tell how Siegfried reigned in peace and glad
contentment in his fatherland; and how the joyous sunshine
shone wherever he went, and poured a flood of light and
warmth and happiness into every nook and corner of his
kingdom; and how, at length, after the gentle Sigelind had
died, he moved his court to that other country of his,--the
far-off Nibelungen Land. And it is in that strange,
dream-haunted land, in a strong-built mountain fortress,
that we shall next find him.

Glad were the Nibelungen folk when their own king and his
lovely wife came to dwell among them; and the mists once
more were lifted, and the skies grew bright and clear, and
men said that the night had departed, and the better days
were near. Golden, indeed, and most glorious, was that
summer-time; and long to be remembered was Siegfried's too
brief reign in Nibelungen Land. And, ages afterward, folk
loved to sing of his care for his people's welfare, of his
wisdom and boundless lore, of his deeds in the time of
warring, and the victories gained in peace. And strong and
brave were the men-folk, and wise and fair were the women,
and broad and rich were the acres, in Siegfried's well-ruled
land. The farm-lands were yellow with the abundant harvests,
fruitful orchards grew in the pleasant dales, and fair
vineyards crowned the hills. Fine cities sprang up along the
seacoast, and strong fortresses were built on every height.
Great ships were made, which sailed to every land, and
brought home rich goods from every clime,--coffee and spices
from India, rich silks from Zazemang, fine fruits from the
Iberian shore, and soft furs, and ivory tusks of the
sea-beast, from the frozen coasts of the north. Never before
was country so richly blessed; for Siegfried taught his
people how to till the soil best, and how to delve far down
into the earth for hidden treasures, and how to work
skilfully in iron and bronze and all other metals, and how
to make the winds and the waters, and even the thunderbolt,
their thralls and helpful servants. And he was as great in
war as in peace; for no other people dared harm, or in any
way impose upon, the Nibelungen folk, or any of his faithful
liegemen.

It is told how, once on a time, he warred against the
Hundings, who had done his people an injury, and how he
sailed against them in a long dragon-ship of a hundred oars.
When he was far out in the mid-sea, and no land was anywhere
in sight, a dreadful storm arose. The lightnings flashed,
and the winds roared, and threatened to carry the ship to
destruction. Quickly the fearful sailors began to reef the
sails, but Siegfried bade them stop.

"Why be afraid?" he cried. "The Norns have woven the woof of
every man's life, and no man can escape his destiny. If the
gods will that we should drown, it is folly for us to strive
against fate. We are bound to the shore of the Hundings'
land, and thither must our good ship carry us. Hoist the
sails high on the masts, even though the wind should tear
them into shreds, and split the masts into splinters!"

The sailors did as they were bidden; and the hurricane
caught the ship in its mighty arms, and hurried it over the
rolling waves with the speed of lightning. And Siegfried
stood calmly at the helm, and guided the flying vessel.
Presently they saw a rocky point rising up out of the waters
before them; and on it stood an old man, his gray cloak
streaming in the wind, and his blue hood tied tightly down
over his head.

"Whose ship is that which comes riding on the storm?" cried
the man.

"King Siegfried's ship," answered the man at the prow.
"There lives no braver man on earth than he."

"Thou sayest truly," came back from the rock. "Lay by your
oars, reef the sails, and take me on board!"

"What is your name?" asked the sailor, as the ship swept
past him.

"When the raven croaks gladly over his battle-feast, men
call me Hnikar. But call me now Karl from the mountain,
Fengr, or Fjolner. Reef, quick, your sails, and take me in!"

The men, at Siegfried's command, obeyed. And at once the
wind ceased blowing, and the sea was calm, and the warm sun
shone through the rifted clouds, and the coast of Hundings
Land lay close before them. But when they looked for
Fjolner, as he called himself, they could not find him.

One day Siegfried sat in his sun-lit hall in Nibelungen
Land; and Kriemhild, lovely as a morning in June, sat beside
him. And they talked of the early days when alone he fared
through the mid-world, and alone did deeds of wondrous
daring. And Siegfried bethought him then of the glittering
Hoard of Andvari, and the cave and the mountain fortress,
where the faithful dwarf Alberich still guarded the
measureless treasure.

"How I should like to see that mountain fastness and that
glittering hoard!" cried Kriemhild.

"You shall see," answered the king.

And at once horses were saddled, and preparations were made
for a morning's jaunt into the mountains. And, ere an hour
had passed, Siegfried and his queen, and a small number of
knights and ladies, were riding through the passes. About
noon they came to Alberich's dwelling,--a frowning fortress
of granite built in the mountain-side. The gate was opened
by the sleepy giant who always sat within, and the party
rode into the narrow court-yard. There they were met by
Alberich, seeming smaller and grayer, and more pinched and
wan, than ever before.

"Hail, noble master!" cried he, bowing low before Siegfried.
"How can Alberich serve you to-day?"

"Lead us to the treasure-vaults," answered the king. "My
queen would fain feast her eyes upon the yellow, sparkling
hoard."

The dwarf obeyed. Through a narrow door they were ushered
into a long, low cavern, so frowning and gloomy, that the
queen started back in affright. But, re-assured by
Siegfried's smiling face, she went forward again. The
entrance-way was lighted by little torches held in the hands
of tiny elves, who bowed in humble politeness to the kingly
party. But, when once beyond the entrance-hall, no torches
were needed to show the way; for the huge pile of glittering
gold and sparkling jewels, which lay heaped up to the
cavern's roof, lighted all the space around with a glory
brighter than day.

"There is the dwarf's treasure!" cried Siegfried. "Behold
the Hoard of Andvari, the gathered wealth of the ages!
Henceforth, fair Kriemhild, it is yours--all yours, save
this serpent-ring."

"And why not that too?" asked the queen; for she admired its
glittering golden scales, and its staring ruby eyes.

"Alas!" answered he, "a curse rests upon it,--the curse
which Andvari the ancient laid upon it when Loki tore it
from his hand. A miser's heart--selfish, cold, snaky--is
bred in its owner's being; and he thenceforth lives a very
serpent's life. Or, should he resist its influence, then
death through the guile of pretended friends is sure to be
his fate."

"Then why," asked the queen,--"why do you keep it yourself?
Why do you risk its bane? Why not give it to your sworn foe,
or cast it into the sea, or melt it in the fire, and thus
escape the curse?"

Siegfried answered by telling how, when in the heyday of his
youth, he had slain Fafnir, the keeper of this hoard, upon
the Glittering Heath; and how, while still in the narrow
trench which he had dug, the blood of the horrid beast had
flown in upon him, and covered him up.

"And this I have been told by Odin's birds," he went on to
say, "that every part of my body that was touched by the
slimy flood was made forever proof against sword and spear,
and sharp weapons of every kind. Hence I have no cause to
fear the stroke, either of open foes or of traitorous false
friends."

"But was all of your body covered with the dragon's blood?
Was there no small spot untouched?" asked the queen, more
anxious now than she had ever seemed to be before she had
known aught of her husband's strange security from wounds.

"Only one very little spot between the shoulders was left
untouched," answered Siegfried. "I afterwards found a
lime-leaf sticking there, and I know that the slimy blood
touched not that spot. But then who fears a thrust in the
back? None save cowards are wounded there."

"Ah!" said the queen, toying tremulously with the fatal
ring, "that little lime-leaf may yet bring us unutterable
woe."

But Siegfried laughed at her fears; and he took the
serpent-ring, and slipped it upon his forefinger, and said
that he would wear it there, bane or no bane, so long as
Odin would let him live.

Then, after another long look at the heaps of glittering
gold and priceless gem-stones, the company turned, and
followed Alberich back, through the gloomy entranceway and
the narrow door, to the open air again. And mounting their
steeds, which stood ready, they started homewards. But, at
the outer gate, Siegfried paused, and said to the dwarf at
parting,--

"Hearken, Alberich! The Hoard of Andvari is no longer mine.
I have made a present of it to my queen. Hold it and guard
it, therefore, as hers and hers alone; and, whatever her
bidding may be regarding it, that do."

"Your word is law, and shall be obeyed," said the dwarf,
bowing low.

Then the drowsy gate-keeper swung the heavy gate to its
place, and the kingly party rode gayly away.

On their way home the company went, by another route,
through the narrow mountain pass which led towards the sea,
and thence through a rocky gorge between two smoking
mountains. And on one side of this road a great cavern
yawned, so dark and deep that no man had ever dared to step
inside of it. And as they paused before it, and listened,
they heard, away down in its dismal depths, horrid groans,
sad moanings, and faint wild shrieks, so far away that it
seemed as if they had come from the very centre of the
earth. And, while they still listened, the ground around
them trembled and shook, and the smoking mountain on the
other side of the gorge smoked blacker than before.

"Loki is uneasy to-day," said Siegfried, as they all put
spurs to their horses, and galloped swiftly home.

It was the Cavern of the Mischief-maker which the party had
visited; and that evening, as they again sat in Siegfried's
pleasant hall, they amused themselves by telling many
strange old tales of the mid-world's childhood, when the
gods, and the giants, and the dwarf-folk, had their dwelling
on the earth. But they talked most of Loki, the flame, the
restless, the evil-doer. And this, my children, is the story
that was told of the Doom of the Mischief-maker.(EN#30)

 

The Story.

 

You have heard of the feast that old AEgir once made for the
Asa-folk in his gold-lit dwelling in the deep sea; and how
the feast was hindered, through the loss of his great
brewing-kettle, until Thor had obtained a still larger
vessel from Hymer the giant. It is very likely that the
thief who stole King AEgir's kettle was none other than Loki
the Mischief-maker; but, if this was so, he was not long
unpunished for his meanness.

There was great joy in the Ocean-king's hall, when at last
the banquet was ready, and the foaming ale began to pass
itself around to the guests. But Thor, who had done so much
to help matters along, could not stay to the merry-making:
for he had heard that the Storm-giants were marshalling
their forces for a raid upon some unguarded corner of the
mid-world; and so, grasping his hammer Mjolner, he bade his
kind host good-by, and leaped into his iron car.

"Business always before pleasure!" he cried, as he gave the
word to his swift, strong goats, and rattled away at a
wonderful rate through the air.

In old AEgir's hall glad music resounded on every side; and
the gleeful Waves danced merrily as the Asa-folk sat around
the festal-board, and partook of the Ocean-king's good fare.
AEgir's two thralls, the faithful Funfeng and the trusty
Elder, waited upon the guests, and carefully supplied their
wants. Never in all the world had two more thoughtful
servants been seen; and every one spoke in praise of their
quickness, and their skill, and their ready obedience.

Then Loki, unable to keep his hands from mischief, waxed
very angry, because every one seemed happy and free from
trouble, and no one noticed or cared for him. So, while good
Funfeng was serving him to meat, he struck the faithful
thrall with a carving-knife, and killed him. Then arose a
great uproar in the Ocean-king's feast-hall. The Asa-folk
rose up from the table, and drove the Mischief-maker out
from among them; and in their wrath they chased him across
the waters, and forced him to hide in the thick greenwood.
After this they went back to AEgir's hall, and sat down
again to the feast. But they had scarcely begun to eat, when
Loki came quietly out of his hiding-place, and stole slyly
around to AEgir's kitchen, where he found Elder, the other
thrall, grieving sadly because of his brother's death.

"I hear a great chattering and clattering over there in the
feast-hall," said Loki. "The greedy, silly Asa-folk seem to
be very busy indeed, both with their teeth and their
tongues. Tell me, now, good Elder, what they talk about
while they sit over their meat and ale."

"They talk of noble deeds," answered Elder. "They speak of
gallant heroes, and brave men, and fair women, and strong
hearts, and willing hands, and gentle manners, and kind
friends. And for all these they have words of praise, and
songs of beauty; but none of them speak well of Loki, the
thief and the vile traitor."

"Ah!" said Loki wrathfully, twisting himself into a dozen
different shapes, "no one could ask so great a kindness from
such folk. I must go into the feast-hall, and take a look at
this fine company, and listen to their noisy merry-making. I
have a fine scolding laid up for those good fellows; and,
unless they are careful with their tongues, they will find
many hard words mixed with their ale."

Then he went boldly into the great hall, and stood up before
the wonder-stricken guests at the table. When the Asa-folk
saw who it was that had darkened the doorway, and was now in
their midst, a painful silence fell upon them, and all their
merriment was at an end. And Loki stretched himself up to
his full height, and said to them,--

"Hungry and thirsty come I to AEgir's gold lit hall. Long
and rough was the road I trod, and wearisome was the way.
Will no one bid me welcome? Will none give me a seat at the
feast? Will none offer me a drink of the precious mead? Why
are you all so dumb? Why so sulky and stiff-necked, when
your best friend stands before you? Give me a seat among
you,--yes, one of the high-seats,--or else drive me from
your hall! In either case, the world will never forget me. I
am Loki."

Then one among the Asa-folk spoke up, and said, "Let him sit
with us. He is mad; and when be slew Funfeng, he was not in
his right mind. He is not answerable for his rash act."

But Bragi the Wise, who sat on the innermost seat, arose,
and said, "Nay, we will not give him a seat among us.
Nevermore shall he feast or sup with us, or share our
good-fellowship. Thieves and murderers we know, and will
shun."

This speech enraged Loki all the more; and he spared not
vile words, but heaped abuse without stint upon all the folk
before him. And by main force he seized hold of the silent
Vidar, who had come from the forest solitudes to be present
at the feast, and dragged him away from the table, and
seated himself in his place. Then, as he quaffed the foaming
ale, he flung out taunts and jeers and hard words to all who
sat around, but chiefly to Bragi the Wise. Then he turned to
Sif, the beautiful wife of Thor, and began to twit her about
her golden hair.

"Oh, how handsome you were, when you looked at your bald
head in the mirror that day! Oh, what music you made when
your hands touched your smooth pate! And now whose hair do
you wear?"

And the wretch laughed wickedly, as he saw the tears welling
up in poor Sif's eyes.

Then suddenly a great tumult was heard outside. The
mountains shook and trembled; and the bottom of the sea
seemed moved; and the waves, affrighted and angry, rushed
hither and thither in confusion. All the guests looked up in
eager expectation, and some of them fled in alarm from the
hall. Then the mighty Thor strode through the door, and up
to the table, swinging his hammer, and casting wrathful
glances at the Mischief-maker. Loki trembled, and dropped
his goblet, and sank down upon his knees before the terrible
Asa.

"I yield me!" he cried. "Spare my life, I pray you, and I
will be your thrall forever!"

"I want no such thrall," answered Thor. "And I spare your
life on one condition only,--that you go at once from hence,
and nevermore presume to come into the company of Asa-folk."

"I promise all that you ask," said Loki, trembling more than
ever. "Let me go."

Thor stepped aside; and the frightened culprit fled from the
hall, and was soon out of sight. The feast was broken up.
The folk bade AEgir a kind farewell, and all embarked on
Frey's good ship Skidbladner; and fair winds wafted them
swiftly home to Asgard.

Loki fled to the dark mountain gorges of Mist Land, and
sought for a while to hide himself from the sight of both
gods and men. In a deep ravine by the side of a roaring
torrent, he built himself a house of iron and stone, and
placed a door on each of its four sides, so that he could
see whatever passed around him. There, for many winters, he
lived in lonely solitude, planning with himself how he might
baffle the gods, and regain his old place in Asgard. And now
and then he slipped slyly away from his hiding-place, and
wrought much mischief for a time among the abodes of men.
But when Thor heard of his evil-doings, and sought to catch
him, and punish him for his evil deeds, he was nowhere to be
found. And at last the Asa-folk determined, that, if he
could ever be captured, the safety of the world required
that he should be bound hand and foot, and kept forever in
prison.

Loki often amused himself in his mountain home by taking
upon him his favorite form of a salmon, and lying
listlessly, beneath the waters of the great Fanander
Cataract, which fell from the shelving rocks a thousand feet
above him. One day while thus lying, he bethought himself of
former days, when he walked the glad young earth in company
with the All-Father. And among other things he remembered
how he had once borrowed the magic net of Ran, the
Ocean-queen, and had caught with it the dwarf Andvari,
disguised, as he himself now was, in the form of a slippery
salmon.

"I will make me such a net!" he cried. "I will make it
strong and good; and I, too, will fish for men."

So he took again his proper shape, and went back to his
cheerless home in the ravine. And he gathered flax and wool
and long hemp, and spun yarn and strong cords, and wove them
into meshes, after the pattern of Queen Ran's magic net; for
men had not, at that time, learned how to make or use nets
for fishing. And the first fisherman who caught fish in that
way is said to have taken Loki's net as a model.

Odin sat, on the morrow, in his high hall of Hlidskialf, and
looked out over all the world, and saw, even to the
uttermost corners, what men-folk were everywhere doing. When
his eye rested upon the dark line which marked the
mountain-land of the Mist Country, he started up in quick
surprise, and cried out,

"Who is that who sits by the Fanander Force, and ties strong
cords together?"

But none of those who stood around could tell, for their
eyes were not strong enough and clear enough to see so far.

"Bring Heimdal!" then cried Odin.

Now, Heimdal the White dwells among the blue mountains of
sunny Himminbjorg, where the rainbow, the shimmering
Asa-bridge, spans the space betwixt heaven and earth. He is
the son of Odin, golden-toothed, pure-faced, and
clean-hearted; and he ever keeps watch and ward over the
mid-world and the homes of frail men-folk, lest the giants
shall break in, and destroy and slay. He rides upon a
shining steed named Goldtop; and he holds in his hand a horn
called Gjallar-horn, with which, in the last great twilight,
he shall summon the world to battle with the Fenris-wolf and
the sons of Loki. This watchful guardian of the mid-world is
as wakeful as the birds. And his hearing is so keen, that no
sound on earth escapes him,--not even that of the rippling
waves upon the seashore, nor of the quiet sprouting of the
grass in the meadows, nor even of the growth of the soft
wool on the backs of sheep. And his eyesight, too, is
wondrous clear and sharp; for he can see by night as well as
by day, and the smallest thing, although a hundred leagues
away, cannot be hidden from him.

To Heimdal, then, the heralds hastened, bearing the words
which Odin had spoken. And the watchful warder of the
mid-world came at once to the call of the All-Father.

"Turn your eyes to the sombre mountains that guard the
shadowy Mist-land from the sea," said Odin, "Now look far
down into the rocky gorge in which the Fanander Cataract
pours, and tell me what you see."

Heimdal did as he was bidden.

"I see a shape," said he, "sitting by the torrent's side. It
is Loki's shape, and he seems strangely busy with strong
strings and cords."

"Call all our folk together!" commanded Odin. "The wily
Mischief-maker plots our hurt. He must be driven from his
hiding-place, and put where he can do no further harm."

Great stir was there then in Asgard. Every one hastened to
answer Odin's call, and to join in the quest for the
Mischief-maker. Thor came on foot, with his hammer tightly
grasped in his hands, and lightning flashing from beneath
his red brows. Tyr, the one-handed, came with his sword.
Then followed Bragi the Wise, with his harp and his sage
counsels; then Hermod the Nimble, with his quick wit and
ready hands; and, lastly, a great company of elves and
wood-sprites and trolls. Then a whirlwind caught them up in
its swirling arms, and carried them through the air, over
the hill-tops and the country-side, and the meadows and the
mountains, and set them down in the gorge of the Fanander
Force.

But Loki was not caught napping. His wakeful ears had heard
the tumult in the air, and he guessed who it was that was
coming. He threw the net, which he had just finished, into
the fire, and jumped quickly into the swift torrent, where,
changing himself into a salmon, he lay hidden beneath the
foaming waters.

When the eager Asa-folk reached Loki's dwelling, they found
that he whom they sought had fled; and although they
searched high and low, among the rocks and the caves and the
snowy crags, they could see no signs of the cunning
fugitive. Then they went back to his house again to consult
what next to do. And, while standing by the hearth, Kwaser,
a sharp-sighted elf, whose eyes were quicker than the
sunbeam, saw the white ashes of the burned net lying
undisturbed in the still hot embers, the woven meshes
unbroken and whole.

"See what the cunning fellow has been making!" cried the
elf. "It must have been a trap for catching fish."

"Or rather for catching men," said Bragi; "for it is
strangely like the Sea-queen's net."

"In that case," said Hermod the Nimble, "he has made a trap
for himself; for, no doubt, he has changed himself, as is
his wont, to a slippery salmon, and lies at this moment
hidden beneath the Fanander torrent. Here are plenty of
cords of flax and hemp and wool, with which he intended to
make other nets. Let us take them, and weave one like the
pattern which lies there in the embers; and then, if I
mistake not, we shall catch the too cunning fellow."

All saw the wisdom of these words, and all set quickly to
work. In a short time they had made a net strong and large,
and full of fine meshes, like the model among the coals.
Then they threw it into the roaring stream, Thor holding to
one end, and all the other folk pulling at the other. With
great toil, they dragged it forwards, against the current,
even to the foot of the waterfall. But the cunning Loki
crept close down between two sharp stones, and lay there
quietly while the net passed harmlessly over him.

"Let us try again!" cried Thor. "I am sure that something
besides dead rocks lies at the bottom of the stream."

So they hung heavy weights to the net, and began to drag it
a second time, this time going down stream. Loki looked out
from his hiding-place, and saw that he would not be able to
escape again by lying between the rocks, and that his only
chance for safety was either to leap over the net, and hide
himself behind the rushing cataract itself, or to swim with
the current out to the sea. But the way to the sea was long,
and there were many shallow places; and Loki had doubts as
to how old AEgir would receive him in his kingdom. He feared
greatly to undertake so dangerous and uncertain a course.
So, turning upon his foes, and calling up all his strength,
he made a tremendous leap high into the air, and clean over
the net. But Thor was too quick for him. As he fell towards
the water, the Thunderer quickly threw out his hand, and
caught the slippery salmon, holding him firmly by the tail.

When Loki found that he was surely caught, and could not by
any means escape, he took again his proper shape. Fiercely
did he struggle with mighty Thor, and bitter were the curses
which he poured down upon his enemies. But he could not get
free. Into the deep, dark cavern, beneath the smoking
mountain, where daylight never comes, nor the warmth of the
sun, nor the sound of Nature's music, the fallen
Mischief-maker was carried. And they bound him firmly to the
sharp rocks, with his face turned upwards toward the
dripping roof; for they said that nevermore, until the last
dread twilight, should he be free to vex the world with his
wickedness. And Skade, the giant wife of Niord and the
daughter of grim Old Winter, took a hideous poison snake,
and hung it up above Loki, so that its venom would drop into
his upturned face. But Sigyn, the loving wife of the
suffering wretch, left her home in the pleasant halls of
Asgard, and came to his horrible prison-house to soothe and
comfort him; and evermore she holds a basin above his head,
and catches in it the poisonous drops as they fall. When the
basin is filled, and she turns to empty it in the tar-black
river that flows through that home of horrors, the terrible
venom falls upon his unprotected face, and Loki writhes and
shrieks in fearful agony, until the earth around him shakes
and trembles, and the mountains spit forth fire, and fumes
of sulphur-smoke.

And there the Mischief-maker, the spirit of evil, shall lie
in torment until the last great day and the dread twilight
of all mid-world things. How strange and how sad, that,
while Loki lies thus bound and harmless, evil still walks
the earth, and that so much mischief and such dire disasters
were prepared for Siegfried and the folk of Nibelungen Land!

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