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      Cord of Silk

      A messenger was sent to Dwarfland bidding him ask the Little Men to make a chain which nothing could possibly destroy.

      Setting at once to work, the clever little smiths soon fashioned a slender silken rope, and gave it to the messenger, saying that no strength could break it and that the more it was strained the stronger it would become.

      It was made of the most mysterious things - the sound of a cat's footsteps, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of fishes, and other such strange materials which only the dwarfs knew how to use.

      With this chain the messenger hastened back over the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard.

      By this time the Fenris Wolf had grown too big for his yard, so he lived on a rocky island in the middle of the lake that lies in the midst of Asgard. And here the Asas now betook themselves with their chain, and began to play their part with wily words.

      "See," they cried, "O Fenris! Here is a cord so soft and thin that none would think of it binding such strength as thine."

      And they laughed great laughs, and handed it to one another, and tried its strength by pulling at it with all their might, but it did not break. then they came nearer and used more wiles, saying: "We cannot break the cord, for 'tis stronger than it looks, but thou, O mighty one, wilt be able to snap it in a moment."

      But the wolf tossed his head in scorn, and said: "Small renown would there be to me, O Asa folk, if I were to break yon slender string. Save therefore your breath, and leave me now alone."

      "Aha!" cried the Asas. "Thou fearest the might of the silken cord, thou false one, and that is why thou wilt not let us bind thee!"

      "Not I," said the Fenris Wolf, growing rather suspicious, "but if it is made with craft and guile it shall never come near my feet."

      "But," said the Asas, "thou wilt surely be able to break this silken cord with ease, since thou hast already broken the great iron fetters."

      To this the wolf made no answer, pretending not to hear.

      "Come!" said the Asas again, "why shouldst thou fear? For even if thou couldst break the cord we would immediately let thee free again. To refuse is a coward's piece of work."

      Then the wolf gnashed his teeth at them in anger and said: "Well I know you, Asas! For if you bind me so fast that I cannot get loose you will skulk away, and it will be long before I get any help from you; and therefore am I loath to let this band be laid upon me."

      Still the Asas continued to persuade him and to taunt him with cowardice, until at length the Fenris Wolf said with a sullen growl: "Have it your own way then. But, as a pledge that this is done without deceit, let one of you lay his hand in my mouth while you are binding me and afterwards while I try to break the bonds."

      The Asa folk looked at one another in dismay, for they knew very well what this would mean. And while they consulted together the wolf stood gnashing his teeth at them with a horrid grin.

      At length Tyr the Brave hesitated no longer. Boldly he stalked up to the wolf and thrust his arm into his enormous mouth, bidding the Asas to bind fast the beast. Scarce had they done so when the wolf began to strain and pull, but the more he did so the tighter and stiffer the rope became.

      The gods shouted and laughed with glee when they saw how all his efforts were in vain. But Tyr did not join them in their mirth, for the wolf, in his rage, snapped his great teeth together and bit off Tyr's hand at the wrist.

      Now when the Asas discovered that the animal was fast bound they took the chain which was fixed to the rope and drew it through a huge rock, and fastened this rope deep down in the earth so that it would never be moved. And this they fastened to another great rock which was driven still deeper into the ground.

      When the Fenris Wolf found that he had been thus secured he opened his mouth terribly wide, and twisted himself right and left and tried to bite the Asa folk. He uttered, moreover, such terrible howls that at length the gods could bear it no longer. So they took a sword and thrust it into his mouth so that the hilt rested on his lower jaw, and the point against his upper jaw. And there he was doomed to remain until the end of All Things.

      2004 NorseLady~AMS~DM