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from Types Of Children's Literature - Myths And Legends





"Well, Hermod, what did she say?" asked the AEsir from the
top of the hill as they saw him coming; "make haste and tell us
what she said." And Hermod came up.

"Oh! is that all?" they cried, as soon as he had delivered his
message. "Nothing can be more easy," and then they all hurried
off to tell Frigga. She was weeping already, and in five minutes
there was not a tearless eye in Asgard.

"But this is not enough," said Odin; "the whole earth must
know of our grief that it may weep with us."

Then the father of the AEsir called to him his messenger maidens
--the beautiful Valkyrior--and sent them out into all worlds with
these three words on their lips, "Baldur is dead!" But the words
were so dreadful that at first the messenger maidens could only
whisper them in low tones as they went along, "Baldur is dead!"
The dull, sad sounds flowed back on Asgard like a new river of
grief, and it seemed to the AEsir as if they now wept for the first
time-"Baldur is dead!"

"What is that the Valkyrior are saying?" asked the men and
women in all the country round, and when they heard rightly, men
left their labor and lay down to weep--women dropped the buckets
they were carrying to the well, and, leaning their faces over them,
filled them with tears. The children crowded upon the doorsteps,
or sat down at the corners of the streets, crying as if their own
mothers were dead.

The Valkyrior passed on. "Baldur is dead!" they said to the
empty fields; and straightway the grass and the wild field-flowers
shed tears.

"Baldur is dead!" said the messenger maidens to the rocks and
stones; and the very stones began to weep. "Baldur is dead!" the
Valkyrior cried; and even the old mammoth's bones, which had lain
for centuries under the hills, burst into tears, so that small rivers
gushed forth from every mountain's side. "Baldur is dead!" said
the messenger maidens as they swept over silent sands; and all the
shells wept pearls. "Baldur is dead!" they cried to the sea, and
to Jotunheim across the sea; and when the giants understood it,
even they wept, whilst the sea rained spray to heaven. After this
the Valkyrior stepped from one stone to another until they reached
a rock that stood alone in the middle of the sea; then, all together,
they bent forward over the edge of it, stooped down and peeped
over, that they might tell the monsters of the deep. "Baldur is
dead!" they said, and the sea monsters and the fish wept. Then the
messenger maidens looked at one another and said, "Surely our
work is done." So they twined their arms round one another's
waists, and set forth on the downward road to Helheim, there to
claim Baldur from among the dead.

After he had sent forth his messenger maidens, Odin had seated
himself on the top of Air Throne that he might see how the earth
received his message. At first he watched the Valkyrior as they
stepped forth north and south, and east and west; but soon the whole
earth's steaming tears rose up like a great cloud and hid everything
from him. Then he looked down through the cloud and said, "Are
you all weeping?" The Valkyrior heard the sound of his voice
as they went all together down the slippery road, and they turned
round, stretching out their arms towards Air Throne, their long hair
falling back, whilst, with choked voices and streaming eyes, they
answered, "The world weeps, Father Odin; the world and we."

After this they went on their way until they came to the end of
the cave Gnipa, where Garm was chained, and which yawned over
Niflheim. "The world weeps," they said one to another by way
of encouragement, for here the road was so dreadful; but just as
they were about to pass through the mouth of Gnipa they came
upon a haggard witch named Thaukt, who sat in the entrance with
her back to them, and her face toward the abyss. "Baldur is dead!
Weep, weep!" said the messenger maidens, as they tried to pass
her; but Thaukt made answer:

"What she doth hold,
Let Hela keep;
For naught care I,
Though the world weep,
O'er Baldur's bale.
Live he or die
With tearless eye,
Old Thaukt shall wail."

And with these words leaped into Niflheim with a yell of triumph.

"Surely that cry was the cry of Loki," said one of the maidens;
but another pointed towards the city of Helheim, and there they
saw the stern face of Hela looking over the wall.

"One has not wept," said the grim Queen, "and Helheim holds
its own." So saying she motioned the maidens away with her long,
cold hand.

Then the Valkyrior turned and fled up the steep way to the foot
of Odin's throne, like a pale snowdrift that flies before the storm.





Next: THE HERO STORY

Previous: HELHEIM



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