A Book of Myths

Page: 114

Thereat the prophetess, knowing that her questioner could be none other than Odin, for to no mortal man could be known so much of the future, refused for evermore to speak, and returned to the silence of her tomb. And Odin was forced to mount his steed and to return to his own land of warmth and pleasure.

On his return he found that all was well with Baldur. Thus he tried to still his anxious heart and to forget the feast in the chill regions of Niflheim, spread for the son who was to him the dearest, and to laugh with those who tried in vain to bring scathe to Baldur.

Only one among those who looked at those sports and grew merry, as he whom they loved stood like a great cliff against which the devouring waves of the fierce North Sea beat and foam and crash in vain, had malice in his heart as he beheld the wonder. In the evil heart of Loki there came a desire to overthrow the god who was beloved by all gods and by all men. He hated him because he was pure, and the mind of Loki was as a stream into which all the filth of the world is discharged. He hated him because Baldur was truth [Pg 238] and loyalty, and he, Loki, was treachery and dishonour. He hated him because to Loki there came never a thought that was not full of meanness and greed and cruelty and vice, and Baldur was indeed one sans peur et sans reproche.

Thus Loki, taking upon himself the form of a woman, went to Fensalir, the palace, all silver and gold, where dwelt Freya, the mother of Baldur.

The goddess sat, in happy majesty, spinning the clouds, and when Loki, apparently a gentle old woman, passed by where she sat, and then paused and asked, as if amazed, what were the shouts of merriment that she heard, the smiling goddess replied:

“All things on earth have sworn to me never to injure Baldur, and all the gods use their weapons against him in vain. Baldur is safe for evermore.”

“All things?” queried Loki.

And Freya answered, “All things but the mistletoe. No harm can come to him from a thing so weak that it only lives by the lives of others.”

Then the vicious heart of Loki grew joyous. Quickly he went to where the mistletoe grew, cut a slender green branch, shaped it into a point, and sought the blind god Hodur.

Hodur stood aside, while the other gods merrily pursued their sport.

“Why dost thou not take aim at Baldur with a weapon that fails and so join in the laughter?” asked Loki.

And Hodur sadly made answer:

[Pg 239] “Well dost thou know that darkness is my lot, nor have I ought to cast at my brother.”

Then Loki placed in his hand the shaft of mistletoe and guided his aim, and well and surely Hodur cast the dart. He waited, then, for the merry laughter that followed ever on the onslaught of those against him whom none could do harm. But a great and terrible cry smote his ears. “Baldur the Beautiful is dead! is dead!