67


OF THE PUNISHMENT THAT FELL ON LOKI


Many evil deeds had Loki done, but the triumph of all his malice was the death of Baldur the Good. And such was the anger of the gods against him after this that Loki fled from Asgard and hid himself in the mountains.

And he built himself a dwelling with four doors, so that he could keep watch on everything around him. And a great terror was ever upon him, for he knew not how to hide him from the eyes of Odin and the gods. Often in the daytime he changed himself into a salmon, and hid under the water of a cascade. And he used his cunning and wit first to find out what the gods were doing in order to catch him, and then to defeat their plans.

And on a day, Loki sat in his dwelling and began to make a net from flax and yarn, such as fishermen now use. And Odin sat on his high throne and looked out over the world, and presently he espied the treacherous god in his hiding-place. And Odin called

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the gods together, and they hastened to capture Loki before he should he aware of their coming.

But Loki saw them approaching, and he threw his net into the fire and ran and threw himself into the river, taking upon him the form of a salmon. And the gods came to his dwelling-place and found him not; but one, more observant than the rest, saw the smouldering remains of the net, and told them that it was a device for catching fish.

Then the gods sat down and made themselves a net after the pattern of the one in the ashes. And when it was finished, Thor took one end, and all the gods took hold of the other end, and they cast it into the river where Loki was hiding. And they dragged the net along, but Loki was not caught in it, for he had crawled between two stones. Yet, when the gods drew the net out again, they knew that some living thing had touched the meshes, and they guessed it must be Loki. So they cast the net in again, this time heavily weighting it, so that it raked all the bed of the river.

And the gods saw a great salmon leap over the net, and they pursued him towards the sea. And Loki, not wishing to be driven out to the sea, tried to leap over the net again, but Thor, who had thrown himself into the river, caught him in his hand. And Loki, the salmon, struggled violently, and being extremely slippery, it seemed that he would slide from Thorís hand, but Thor held him fast by the tail, and ever since then the tail of the salmon has been fine and thin.

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Siguna stood over him, and caught in thr cup the drops of venom (P. 71)

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And the gods felt no pity for the wicked Loki who had caused them so much suffering, and they dragged him to a cavern and bound him to three sharp-pointed rocks. And the goddess Skadi hung a serpent over him in such a way that his venom should fall upon Lokiís face drop by drop. But one there was still who had pity for the god in his misery, that was his wife Siguna, who, from that time, stood ever by him, and caught in a cup the drops of venom as they fell from the serpent, emptying it when it became full. But while she emptied it, the drops fell upon Loki, and he howled with horror, and struggled so violently that all the earth shook. And that is the reason for what men call earthquakes.

And in that cavern must Loki lie till those days shall come to pass which have been long foretold, when he shall range himself on the side of those who shall bring about the doom of the gods, and they and Heaven and Earth and all men shall pass away.