HOW BROCK BROUGHT JUDGMENT ON LOKI
Loki wanted the Æsir and the Vanir to be friendly to him again so he brought out the wonderful things he had obtained from the Dwarfs—the spear Gungnir and the boat Skidbladnir. The Æsir and the Vanir marveled at such wonderful things. Loki gave the spear as a gift to Odin, and he gave the boat Skidbladnir to Frey, who was chief of the Vanir.
Everyone in Asgard was pleased that things so wonderful had been brought to them. Loki, who had made a great show in giving these gifts, said boastingly, “None but the Dwarfs who work for me could make such things. There are other Dwarfs, but they are as clumsy as they are ugly. The Dwarfs who are my servants are the only ones who can make such wonders.”
Loki in his boastfulness had said a foolish thing. There were other Dwarfs besides those who had worked for him, and one of these was there in Asgard. Unknown to Loki he stood in the shadow of Odin’s seat, listening to what was being said. Brock, the most spiteful of all the Dwarfs went over to Loki, trembling with rage.
“Ha, Loki, you boaster,” he roared, “you lie. Sindri, my brother, who would never serve you, is the best smith in Svartheim.”
The Æsir and the Vanir laughed to see Loki scolded by Brock the Dwarf in the middle of his boastfulness. As they laughed Loki grew angry.
“Be silent, Dwarf,” he said, “Your brother will know about a smith’s work when he goes to the Dwarfs who are my friends, and learns something from them.”
“You think he should learn from the Dwarfs who are your friends? My brother Sindri learn from the Dwarfs who are your friends!” Brock roared, in a greater rage than before. “The things you have brought out of Svartheim would not be noticed by the Æsir and the Vanir if they were put beside the things that my brother Sindri can make.”
“Sometime we will try your brother Sindri and see what he can do,” said Loki.
“Try now, try now,” Brock shouted. “I’ll wager my head against yours, Loki ,that his work will make everyone in Asgard laugh at your boasting.”
“I will take your wager,” said Loki. “My head against yours. I will be glad to see that ugly head of yours off your misshapen shoulders.”
“The Æsir will judge whether my brother’s work is not the best that ever came out of Svartheim. And they will see that you will pay your wager, Loki, the head off your shoulders.”
“We will sit in judgment,” said the Æsir. Then, still full of rage, Brock the Dwarf went down to Svartheim, to where his brother Sindri worked.
Sindri was there in his glowing forge, working with bellows and anvil and hammers beside him, and around him masses of metal—gold and silver, copper and iron. Brock told his tale, how he had wagered his head against Loki’s that Sindri could make things more wonderful than the spear and the boat that Loki had brought to Asgard.
“You were right in what you said, my brother,” said Sindri, “and you shall not lose your head to Loki. But the two of us must work at what I am going to forge. It will be your work to keep the fire so that it will neither blaze up nor die down for a single instant. If you can keep the fire as I tell you, we will forge a wonder. Now, brother, keep your hands upon the bellows, and keep the fire under your control.”
Then Sindri threw into the fire, not a piece of metal, but a pig’s skin. Brock kept his hands on the bellows, working it so that the fire neither died down nor blazed up for a single instant. In the glowing fire the pigskin swelled itself into a strange shape.
But Brock was not left to work the bellows in peace. A gadfly flew into the forge. It landed on Brock’s hands and stung them. The Dwarf screamed with pain, but his hands still held the bellows, working it to keep the fire steady, for he knew that the gadfly was Loki, and that Loki was trying to spoil Sindri’s work. Again the gadfly stung his hands, but although his hands felt as if they were pierced with hot irons, Brock,still worked the bellows so that the fire did not blaze up or die down for a single instant.
Sindri came and looked into the fire. He said words of magic over the shape that was rising there. The gadfly had flown away, and Sindri told his brother to stop working. He took out the thing that had been shaped in the fire, and he worked over it with his hammer. It was a wonder indeed—a boar, all golden, that could fly through the air, and that shed light from its bristles as it flew. Brock forgot the pain in his hands and screamed with joy. “This is the greatest of wonders,” he said. “The inhabitants of Asgard will have to give the judgment against Loki. I shall have Loki’s head!”
But Sindri said, “The boar Golden Bristle may not be judged as great a wonder as the spear Gungnir or the boat Skidbladnir. We must make something more wonderful still. Work the bellows as before, brother, and do not let the fire die down or blaze up for a single instant.”
Then Sindri took up a piece of gold that was so bright it lit up the dark cavern that the Dwarfs worked in. He threw the piece of gold into the fire. Then he went to prepare something else and left Brock to work the bellows.
The gadfly flew in again. Brock did not know it was there until it landed on the back of his neck. It stung him till Brock felt the pain was tearing him apart. But still he kept his hands on the bellows, working it so that the fire neither blazed up nor died down for a single instant. When Sindri came to look into the fire, Brock was not able to speak because of the pain.
Again Sindri said magic words over the gold that was being smelted in the fire. He took it out of the glow and worked it over on the main-anvil. Then in a while he showed Brock something that looked like the circle of their sun. “A splendid arm ring, my brother,” he said. “An arm ring for a God’s right arm. This ring has hidden wonders. Every ninth night eight rings like itself will drop from this arm ring, for this is Draupnir, the Ring of Increase.”
“The ring shall be given to Odin, the Father of the Gods,” said Brock. ” Odin will have to declare that nothing so wonderful was ever brought into Asgard. Oh Loki, cunning Loki, I shall have your head in spite of your tricks.”
“Don’t be too hasty, brother,” said Sindri. “What we have done so far is good but we must ensure that the inhabitants of Asgard give the judgment that delivers Loki’s head to you. Work as before, brother, and do not let the fire blaze up or die down for a single instant.”
This time Sindri threw into the fire a bar of iron. Then he went away to fetch the hammer that would shape it. Brock worked the bellows as before, but only his hands were steady, for every other part of him was trembling with expectation of the gadfly’s sting.
He saw the gadfly dart into the forge. He screamed as it flew round and round him, searching out a place where it might sting him most painfully. It landed on his forehead, just between his eyes. The first sting it gave took the sight from his eyes. It stung again and Brock felt the blood flowing down. Darkness filled the cave. Brock tried to keep his hands steady on the bellows, but he did not know whether the fire was blazing up or dying down. He shouted and Sindri hurried up.
Sindri said the magic words over the thing that was in the fire. Then he drew it out. “An instant more,” he said, “and the work would have been perfect. But because you let the fire die down for an instant the work is not as good as it might have been made.” He took what was shaped in the fire to the main-anvil and worked over it. Then when Brock’s eyesight came back to him he saw a great iron hammer. The handle did not seem to be long enough to balance the head. This was because the fire had died down for an instant while it was being formed.
“The hammer is Miölnir,” said Sindri, “and it is the greatest of all the things that I am able to make. Everyone in Asgard must rejoice to see this hammer. Only Thor will be able to handle it. Now I am not afraid of the judgment that those in Asgard will give.”
“The inhabitants of Asgard will have to give judgment for us,” Brock cried out. “They will have to give judgment for us, and the head of Loki, my tormentor, will be given me.”
“No more wonderful gifts than these have ever been brought into Asgard,” Sindri said. “Your head is saved, and you will be able to take the head of Loki who was disrespectful to us. Bring it here, and we will throw it into the fire in the forge.”
The Æsir and the Vanir were seated in the Council House of Asgard when a number of Dwarfs appeared before them. Brock came at the head of the others, and he was followed by a band of Dwarfs carrying very heavy things. Brock and his attendants stood round the throne of Odin, and listened to the words of the Father of the Gods.
“We know why you have come into Asgard from out of Svartheim,” Odin said. “You have brought wonderful things to us in Asgard. Let us see what you have brought, Brock. If they are more wonderful and more useful than the things Loki has brought out of Svartheim, the spear Gungnir and the boat Skidbladnir, we will give judgment for you.”
Then Brock commanded the Dwarfs who waited on him to show the Dwellers in Asgard the first of the wonders that Sindri had made. They brought out the boar, Golden Bristle. The boar flew round and round the Council House, leaving a track of brightness. Everyone in Asgard said to each other that this was a wonder indeed. But none would say that the boar was a better thing to have in Asgard than the spear that would hit the mark no matter how badly it was thrown, or the boat Skidbladnir that would sail on any sea, and that could be folded up so small that it would fit in any one’s pocket. No one would say that Golden Bristle was better than these wonders.
Brock gave the marvelous boar to Frey, who was Chief of the Vanir,.
Then the Dwarfs showed the arm ring that was as bright as the circle of the Sun. All admired the noble ring. When it was told how every ninth night this ring dropped eight rings of gold that were like itself, everyone in Asgard spoke aloud, all saying that Draupnir, the Ring of Increase, was a wonder indeed. Hearing their voices raised, Brock looked triumphantly at Loki who was standing there with his lips drawn closely together.
Brock gave the fabulous arm ring to Odin, the Father of the Gods,.
Then he commanded the other Dwarfs to lay before Thor the hammer Miölnir. Thor took the hammer up and swung it around his head. As he did so he uttered a great cry. The eyes of all there lit up when they saw Thor with the hammer Miölnir in his hands and they cried, “This is a wonder, a wonder indeed! With this hammer in his hand no one can withstand Thor, our Champion. No greater thing than the hammer Miölnir has ever come into Asgard.”
Then Odin, the Father of the Gods, spoke from his throne, giving judgment. “The hammer Miölnir that the Dwarf Brock has brought into Asgard is a wonderful thing indeed. In Thor’s hands it can crush mountains, and hurl the Giant race from the walls of Asgard. Sindri the Dwarf has forged a greater thing than the spear Gungnir and the boat Skidbladnir. There can be no other judgment.”
Brock looked at Loki, showing his crooked teeth. “Now, Loki, give me your head, give me your head,” he cried.
“Do not ask such a thing,” said Odin. “Put any other penalty on Loki for mocking you and tormenting you. Make him give to you the greatest thing that it is in his power to give.”
“Not so, not so,” screamed Brock. “You inhabitants in Asgard protect one another. But what about me? Loki would have taken my head if I had lost the wager. Loki has lost his head to me. Let him kneel down now so I can cut it off.”
Loki came forward, smiling with closed lips. “I kneel before you, Dwarf,” he said. “Take off my head. But be careful. Do not touch my neck. I did not agree that you could touch my neck. If you do, I shall call on the inhabitants of Asgard to punish you.”
Brock drew back with a snarl. “Is this the judgment of the Gods?” he asked.
“The bargain you made, Brock,” said Odin, “was an evil one, and you must accept all its evil consequences.”
Brock, in a rage, looked at Loki, and he saw that his lips were smiling. He stamped his feet and raged. Then he went up to Loki and said, “I may not take your head, but I can do something with your lips that mock me.”
“What do you want to do, Dwarf?” asked Thor.
“Sew Loki’s lips together,” said Brock, “so that he can do no more mischief with his talk. You cannot forbid me to do this. Down, Loki, on your knees before me.”
Loki looked around at those in Asgard and he saw that their judgment was that he must kneel before the Dwarf. He knelt down with a frown. “Draw your lips together, Loki,” said Brock. Loki drew his lips together while his eyes flashed fire. With an awl that he took from his belt Brock pierced Loki’s lips. He took out a thread and tightened them together. Then the Dwarf looked on Loki in triumph.
“Oh Loki,” he said, “You boasted that the Dwarfs who worked for you were better craftsmen than Sindri, my brother. Your words have been shown to be lies. And now you cannot boast for a while.”
Then with great majesty, Brock the Dwarf walked out of the Council House of Asgard, and the other Dwarfs marched behind him in procession. Down the passages in the earth the Dwarfs went, singing the song of Brock’s triumph over Loki. The story of how Sindri and Brock had defeated Loki was told forever after in Svartheim.
After Loki’s lips were closed, there was peace and a relief from mischief In Asgard. No one amongst the Æsir or the Vanir was sorry when Loki had to walk about in silence with his head bent low.