Page: 4Earth cried for clouds and rain. The people of Africa became black because of the terrible heat. Streams dried up, mountains burned, and the River Nile hid his head forever in a desert. At last Earth cried in a husky voice to Jupiter, the ruler of the gods:
"What have I done that this punishment should come? Slay me, or save my people from this burning!"
Jupiter, from his seat in the thunderclouds, saw the danger the
heavens and the earth were in, and hurled his lightnings at the rash
driver. Phaeton fell dead from the chariot. From morning till night,
and from that night till morning, he fell like a shooting star, and
sank at last into an Italian river. His sisters trembled so at his
fall and wept so bitterly that they changed into poplar trees upon the
river banks. Even to this day they mourn for him and tremble at the
least breeze from heaven. Apollo's horses, calmed by Jupiter's voice,
finally found the track. When evening came they entered the western
gates of the sky and were taken back, by way of the north, to their
stalls near Apollo's palace.
"In the spring they were told that Woden made the leaves come and the flowers open. No one knew the true God then. Everyone said that Woden lived in a beautiful city in the sky, north of our own Northland. All the houses there were gold and silver, and the most splendid one was Woden's royal palace. This was called Valhalla. To reach it one had to ride or walk the whole length of the rainbow, as it arched from land to land. But there was a sharp-eyed watchman at the gate who stopped anyone who had no right to cross that seven-hued bridge.
"In Valhalla, Woden's people were always happy. They were never sick; they never died. There were no little girls and no little boys in this golden palace, only soldiers; and some of these were women! Woden often sent his shield-maidens, as they were called, to battlefields to carry to Valhalla the souls of brave men. When the choosers of the slain rode through the air, their glittering, shining robes and spears, and their swift horses made a strange, bright light in the North. People called it Northern Lights, but Woden knew it was his Valkyrias. Did you ever see them?