THE ALL-WISE DWARF
  It was late at night, and Thor had just come home. He had been away fighting giants for many long days, and he was tired. He left his wagon outside the door, telling his goats to have a good rest.

     As he came inside, he almost tripped over something. Thor stared down in astonishment. It was a pale, mean-looking dwarf-one of the creatures that lived inside the mountains of Middle-Earth.

     'What are you doing in my house?' Thor shouted.
    
     The dwarf folded his arms and looked sulky. 'I am here,' he said, 'to marry your daughter.' 'I myself have strong doubts about that,' Thor answered, lifting his magic hammer.

     'Why not?' the dwarf demanded. 'We dwarves are as good as the gods any day of the week. Why, we made that,' he said, pointing to the hammer. 'We can make anything. And I am wisest of all the dwarves. That's even my name: All-Wise.'

     'Oh,' said Thor. 'That's different. I'm sorry I was impolite before. Here, have a seat. But let me tell you, I will only give my consent to the marriage if you can answer all the questions I ask.'
      'Ask away,' said the dwarf, settling himself comfortably.

     Thor asked the first question. 'Since you know everything, All-Wise, you must know this-what names are given, in all the worlds, to the earth where men live?'
'     That's easy', said the dwarf. 'Men call it Earth, the Aesir-gods call it Land; the Vanir-gods call it Ways, the giants say All-Green, and Growing is the elves' name for it.'

     'Ah,' said Thor. 'Since you know everything, then you must know this too-what names are given, in all the worlds, to the forests that grow on the earth?'
     'Child's play,' said the dwarf. 'Men call it Wood, the gods say Earth's Mane; the giants call it Firewood, the elves Fair Bough, and Seaweed of the Slopes is the name that the dead, who dwell in Hel's hall, give to it.'

     'Hmmm,' said Thor. 'Since you know everything, you must know this too-what names are given, in all the worlds, to the sea that men sail?'
     'No problem,' said the dwarf. 'It's Sea to men, Wave to the Vanir-gods; the giants call it Eel-home, the dwarves say the Deep; and Main is the Aesir-gods' name for it.'

     'Let's see,' said Thor. 'Since you know everything, you must know this too-what names are given, in all the worlds, to the wind that blows over the sea?'
     'I've always known that,' said the dwarf. 'Men call it Wind, but the giants Roarer; it's Whistler to the dwellers in Hel, Loud Farer to the elves, and Wafter is the name that the gods give to it.'

      'I see,' said Thor. 'Since you know everything, it will be no trouble for you to answer this-what names are given, in all the words, to the clouds that are blown by the wind?'
     'No trouble at all,' the dwarf smirked. 'In fact, Windblown is what the Vanir-gods call them; they are Clouds to men, Rain-Carriers to the Aesir-gods, Rain-Hope to the giants; the elves call them Weather-Might, and the dwellers in Hel say Hiding-Helmets'.

     'You are wise indeed,' Thor nodded. 'Since you know everything, you must know this as well-what names are given, in all the worlds, to the night that covers the sky now?'
     'I don't even have to think twice,' the dwarf said. 'Night to men, Mask to the gods; the giants call it Lightless, the elves Sleep-Ease, and to the dwarfs it's Weaver of Dreams. Ask me a harder one now.'

     'Ummm,' Thor said. 'Well, since you know everything else, you must know this-what names are given, in all the worlds, to the moon that shines in the night?'
     'Not much of a challenge,' shrugged the dwarf. 'Moon to men;  Wheel to those who live in Hel; Splendor to the dwarves, and the giants call it Speeder; to the elves, it's Teller of Time. Just one more question now-I want to be on my way with my new bride.'
     And he smiled at Thor's daughter, Thrud, who was looking around the door of her room. She looked disgusted.

     Thor chewed his knuckle and pretended to think for a long time. All-Wise began to tap his foot and started to get up. Then Thor said, 'Wait-I have it.'

     Thor leaned forward, pointing his finger at the dwarf. 'Since you know everything, All-Wise, just you answer this-what names are given, in all the worlds, to the sun that shines so bright in the day?'
     'You silly god!' crowed the dwarf. 'Fair Wheel is what the elves call it; All-Bright it is to the gods, Sun to men, the giants say Everglow, and the dwarves call it Doom. Now stand aside, and let my bride come to me!'

     Thor did stand up, but it was only to open the door of the hall. Sunlight poured in, for while he and the dwarf talked, the dawn had come. 'Never have I met anyone quite so wise,' said Thor, with a courteous bow. 'Very well then, be on your way if you can.'

     But no one answered him-for All-Wise, like all dwarves if they are caught above ground in the light of the day, had turned to stone.

2007 Oak Hedge


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