: Myths And Legends
: Types Of Children's Literature

"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.