One day Loke was wandering about idly as he often did. He came near Thor’s house, which had five hundred and forty rooms.
By the window sat Sif, Thor’s wife, asleep. Loke thought it would be a good joke to cut off her beautiful hair and make Thor angry. So he crept in softly and cut off her hair close to her head without wakening her.
When Thor came home and found out what had been done, he knew at once who had done it
Rushing out, he overtook Loke, and threatened to crush him to atoms. To save his life Loke swore to get the elves to make hair of gold for Sif, that would grow like real hair.
Loke knew he had better do as he had promised, so he went deep down into the earth to Alfheim. When he came near he looked through a crevice in the ground, and there were the elves at work. He could see them by the. light of the forge fires.
Some were running about with aprons on and with sooty faces. Some were hammering iron, and others were smelting gold. Some were cutting out rock crystals and staining them red for garnets and rubies. The elf women brought violets and the greenest grass to be found on the earth above. With these they stained crystals blue and green for sapphires and emeralds.
Some of the elf women brought children’s tears from the upper earth, and the gentlest elves changed them into pearls.
As fast as they were finished the jewels were carried away by the little elf boys and hidden in the ground, where they are found to this day. If you wish to see what cunning workmen the elves were, look at the shining faces and straight edges of quartz crystals, or at the beautiful coloring of emeralds and rubies.
The little elf girls crept through the earth under the ocean and gave the pearls to the oysters to keep. Even now the oysters shut their shells tight and will not give up the pearls.
Loke watched the little workmen a long time. Then he went in and told his errand. Nothing delighted the elves so much as to have work to do. They promised Loke the golden hair, and at once began to make it.
A little elf ran in with a handful of gold and an old grandmother spun it into hair. As she spun, she sang a magic song to give life to the gold. At the same time the elf blacksmiths and goldsmiths set about making a present for Loke.
The blacksmiths made a spear that would never miss its mark. The goldsmiths made a ship that would sail without wind. Besides, it could be folded up and put into the owner’s pocket.
Loke appeared before the gods with these wonderful things. To Odin he gave the spear, and to Frey the ship. Thor took the golden hair and put it upon Sif’s head. Immediately it began to grow. At this the gods pardoned Loke.
When Loke went out he began to boast that the sons of Ivakl, who had made the gifts, were the best workmen in the world.
Brok, an elf of another family, heard him, and exclaimed angrily, “Sindre, my brother, is the best blacksmith in the whole world!”
Loke dared Brok to show him three gifts of Sindre’s making equal to the spear, the ship, and the hair.
Brok hastened to Sindre and told him. The two brothers began the work at once. Sindre put a pig-skin into the furnace and told Brok to blow the fire with the bellows while he went out. Brok worked with a will. Loke had followed him, and now changed himself into a fly and stung Brok’s ear. But Brok worked steadily, never stopping to brush it off.
Sindre came back and took out the pig-skin, and it had become a golden pig. So bright was it, that it made the cave as light as day.
Then Sindre put a little piece of gold into the furnace and went out again. Again, as Brok worked at the bellows, the fly came, and stung him on the nose. But the elf did not stop for an instant.
When Sindre took out the gold it had become a magic golden ring. Prom it every ninth night dropped eight golden rings.
This time Sindre brought a piece of iron and put it into the furnace. Brok began his work. But Loke changed himself into a hornet and stung the elf on the forehead until the blood ran into his eyes.
Brok bore it a long time. Then he paused a moment to drive away the hornet. Just then his brother came in and said it was of no use to go on after he had once stopped.
Sindre took out the iron and it had become the mighty hammer Mjolner. But the handle was a little too short. This was because the elf had stopped when the hornet stung him.
Brok took the golden pig, the ring, and the hammer to Asgard and presented them to the gods. Thor had just lost his hammer in a great fight with the Midgard Serpent, so Mjolner was given to him
This hammer could never be lost, because it would always return to the owner.
The pig, Golden Bristle, was given to the sun-god, Frey, because he had to take long journeys in dark places.
Odin kept the golden ring himself.
The gods voted Sindre a better blacksmith than the sons of Ivald. Brok demanded Loke’s head, which had been wagered. The cunning Loke said he might have the head, but he must not touch the neck. So the elf did not get the head.