At last he sees the falcon far ahead, and now his flight becomes like the flash of the lightning for swiftness, and like the rushing of clouds for uproar. The haggard faces of the gods line the walls of Asgard and watch the race with tremulous eagerness. Youth and immortality are staked upon the winning of Loki. He is weary enough and frightened enough, too, as the eagle sweeps on close behind him; but he makes desperate efforts to widen the distance between them. Little by little the eagle gains on the falcon. The gods grow white with fear; they rush off and prepare great fires upon the walls. With fainting, drooping wing the falcon passes over and drops exhausted by the wall. In an instant the fires have been lighted, and the great flames roar to heaven. The eagle sweeps across the fiery line a second later and falls, maimed and burned to the ground; where a dozen fierce hands smite the life out of him, and the great giant Thjasse perishes among his foes.
Idun resumes her natural form as Bragi rushes to meet her. The gods crowd round her. She spreads the feast, the golden Apples gleaming with unspeakable lustre in the eyes of the gods. They eat; and once more their faces glow with the beauty of immortal youth, their eyes flash with the radiance of divine power, and, while Idun stands like a star for beauty among the throng, the song of Bragi is heard once more; for poetry and immortality are wedded again.
THE GIFTS OF THE DWARFS
Thor was, you may know, the strongest and noblest of the great giants of the north. He was tall in stature and had fiery brown eyes, from which the light flashed like lightning, while his long red beard waved through the sky as he drove in his goat-drawn chariot. Brilliant sparks flew from the hoofs and teeth of the two goats, while a crown of bright stars shone above Thor’s head. When he was angered the wheels of his chariot rumbled and crashed their passage through the air, until men trembled and hid, telling each other that Thor had gone to battle with the Rime-giants or other of his enemies.
Now Thor’s wife was named Sib, and she was most beautiful to look upon. Her soft, browny-gold hair was so long and thick that it would cover her from the crown of her head to her little feet, and her deep brown eyes looked into the faces of her friends as those of a mother look into the face of her child. Loki, the mischief-maker among the giants, often looked at Sib and longed to do her some evil, for he was jealous, thinking that it was not right that she should be praised and loved by everyone; go where he would he could find no one who did not speak well of her.