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wrapped and bound with the cord; and then, as he had done with the other chains, he stretched himself
-or tried to. For the magic rope but drew tighter and tighter for all his struggling, until it cut into bis very skin. Enraged, he brought his great teeth sharply together, and bit off Tyr's hand at the wrist. Then he howled and snapped and growled, until the gods, unwilling to have their peace disturbed, thrust a sword into his mouth, so that the hilt rested upon his lower jaw and the point pierced the roof of his mouth. They next fastened the cord to a rock, and left the wolf to writhe and struggle and shake the earth. So they were freed for a time from their enemy, but at the cost of Tvr's hand.
THE DEATH OF BALDER
Adapted by Anna McCALEB a F all the gods in Asgard, Balder was
most beloved; for no one had ever seen him frown, and his smile and the light of his eyes made all happy who looked at him. And of all who dwelt in Asgard or ever gained admission
there, Loki was most hated. Clever as he was, he used his cleverness to harass the other gods and to make them wretched, and often he attempted real crimes against them. It was natural enough that Loki, slighted and frowned upon, should hate Balder the beautiful, even though Balder himself had never spoken an unkind word to him.
“I cannot bear the sight of his shining hair and happy eyes," muttered Loki to himself. “If I could just blot them out of Asgard I should be revenging myself upon the gods for their bitterness toward me, for harm to Balder would hurt them more than harm to themselves.”
One morning the assembled gods noticed that when Balder came among them he looked less radiant than usual, and they gathered about him, begging that he tell them what was wrong.
“It's nothing! It's nothing!” said Balder; and he forced a smile, but it was not his old smile. It reminded them all of the faint light the sun sheds when a thin cloud has drifted before it.
All day long, as they went about their tasks and their pleasures, the gods were conscious of a feeling of gloom; and when they stopped and questioned themselves, they found that the cause lay in the diminished brightness of Balder's smile. When, the next morning, Balder again came slowly to the great hall of the gods and showed a careworn face, Odin and Frigga, his father and mother, drew him apart and implored him to tell them the cause of his grief,
“My son," spoke Odin, “it is not well that this gloom should rest on all the gods, and they not know the cause. Perhaps we, your father and your mother, may help you.”
At last Balder told them that for two nights he had had strange, haunting dreams; what they were he could not remember clearly when he awoke, but he could not shake off their depressing effect.
"I only know,” he said, “that there was ever a thick cloud, which drifted between me and the sun, and there were confused sounds of woe, and travelings in dark, difficult places.”
Now the gods knew well that their dreams were messages given them by the Norns, or Fates, and not for a moment did Odin and Frigga venture to laugh at Balder's fears. They soothed him, however, by promising to find some means of warding off any danger that might be threatening him. Somewhat cheered, Balder went home to his palace to comfort his distressed wife, Nanna, while Odin and Frigga discussed measures for their son's safety.
“I,” said Odin, “shall ride to the domains of Hela, queen of the dead, and question the great prophetess who lies ried there, as to what Balder's dream may mean...; And mounting Sleipnir, his eight-footed steed, le rode away.
Across the rainbow bridge he passed, out of the light, and down, down, down into the dark, hopeless realm of Hela. As he rode by the gate he saw that preparations for a feast weię. being made within. A gloomy feast it would have to be in those drear regions, but evidently it was being spread for some honored guest, for rich tapestries and rings of gold covered the couches, and "yessels of gold graced the tables. Past the gate rode Odin, to a grave without the wall, where for ages longthe greatest of all prophetesses had lain buried. Here, in this dark, chill place, was to be spoken the fate of Balder, bringer of light.
Solemnly Odin chanted the awful charms that had power to raise the dead, and king of gods as he was, he started when the grave opened, and the prophetess, veiled in mist, rose before him.
“Who art thou?” she demanded in hollow, ghostlike tones. “And what canst thou wish to know so weighty that only I, long dead, can answer thee?"
Knowing that she would refuse to answer him should she know who he really was, Odin concealed his identity, and simply asked for whom the feast was preparing in Hela's realm.
“For Balder, light of gods and men,” replied the prophetess.
“And who shall dare to strike him down?” cried Odin.
"By the hand of his blind brother Hoder shall he fall. And now let me rest.” And the prophetess sank again into her tomb, leaving Odin with a heart
more heavy and chill than the darkness which closed round him.
Meanwhile Frigga had busied herself with a plan which her mother.lèvë had suggested. First to all the gods in Asgard, then through all the earth did she go, saying; Promise me—swear to me—that you will never hurt Balder.” Every bird, every beast, eyery. creeping thing; all plants, stones and metals; al diseases and poisons known to gods and men; fire, water, earth, air—all things gladly took oath: to do Balder no harm. . For do not we,” they cried to Frigga, “love him * Gyen as you do? And why then should we harm him?”
Gladly Frigga took her way toward home, feeling certain that she had saved Balder forever. As she was about to enter Odin's palace, Valhalla, she noticed on a branch of an oak that grew there, a tiny, weak-looking shrub. “That mistletoe is too young to promise, and too weak to do any harm,” said Frigga; and she passed it by.
All the gods rejoiced with her when she told of her success; even Odin partially shook off his fears, as he told the younger gods and the heroes who dwelt with him in his palace to go and seek enjoyment after their period of gloom. To the great playground of the gods they hastened, and there they invented a new game. Balder, smiling as of old, took his stand in the midst, and all the others hurled at him weapons, stones and sticks, and even hit at him with their battle-axes. They grew very merry over this pastime, for do what they would, none of them could harm Balder; the missiles either fell short, or dropped to his feet harmless.