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      Sea and Chains



      Having thus disposed of Hela, Odin next turned his attention to the serpent. And when he saw his evil tongue and cunning, wicked eyes, he said: "Thou art he who brings Sin into the world of men; therefore the ocean shall be thy home forever."

      Then he threw that horrid serpent into the deep sea which surrounds all lands, and there the creature grew so fast that when he stretched himself one day he encircled all the earth and held his own tail fast in his mouth. And sometimes he grew angry to think that he, the son of a god, had thus been cast out; and at those times he would writhe with his huge body and lash his tail till the sea spouted up to the sky. And when that happened the men of the North said that a great tempest was raging. But it was only the Serpent-son of Loki.

      Then Odin turned to the third child. And behold! the Fenris Wolf was so fearsome to look upon that Odin hesitated to cast him forth, and he decided to endeavor to tame him by kindness so that he should not wish them ill.

      But when he bade them carry food to the Fenris Wolf, not one of the Asas would do so for they feared a snap from his great jaws. Only the brave Tyr had courage enough to feed him, and the wolf ate so much and ate so fast, the Fenris grew so rapidly and became so mighty that the gods were compelled to take counsel and consider how they should get rid of him. They resolved to bind him fast that he should be unable to do them harm.

      So those Asa folk who were clever smiths set to work and made a very strong, thick chain; and when it was finished they carried it out to the yard where the wolf dwelt, and said to him as though in jest: "Here is a fine proof of thy boasted strength, O Fenris. Let us bind this chain about thee, that we may see if thou canst break it asunder."

      Then the wolf gave a great grin with his wide jaws, and came and stood still that they might bind the chain about him; for he knew what he could do. And it came to pass that directly they had fastened the chain, and had slipped aside from him, the great beast gave himself a shake and the chain fell about him in little bits.

      At this the Asas were much annoyed, but they tried not to show it and praised him for his strength.

      Then they set to work again upon a chain much stronger than the last, and brought it to the Fenris Wolf, saying: "Great will be thy renown, O Fenris, if thou canst break this chain as thou didst the last."

      But the wolf looked at them askance, for the chain they brought was very much thicker than the one he had already broken. He reflected, however, that he himself had grown stronger and bigger, and moreover that one must risk something in order to win renown.

      So he let them put the chain upon him, and when the Asas said that all was ready he gave a good shake and stretched himself a few times, and again the fetters lay in fragments on the ground.

      Then the gods began to fear that they would never hold the wolf in bonds; and it was Odin who persuaded them to make one more attempt . . .



      Tale continues




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