Classic Myths

Page: 52

"Yes, they are proving that all things have kept their promise not to hurt my boy."

"What!" said the old woman, "have all things promised not to hurt Baldur?"

"All things," said Frigga. "All but one little plant that grows on the eastern side of Valhalla. It is called the mistletoe. It is so weak and small that I did not ask it to join with the others. I thought it could harm no one."

The old woman left Fensalir. In a few moments Loki appeared on the eastern side of Valhalla and plucked a bit of mistletoe from an old oak that shaded Woden's palace. No one saw him, for he was as sly as a fox and as tricky. Hiding the mistletoe in his hand, he hurried back to the circle of gods who were seated around Baldur.

One god who was blind sat outside the ring.

"Why don't you join in the sport?" asked the wicked Loki.

"I cannot see where Baldur is; and nothing could or would harm anyone so good," said the blind god.

"I will show you where to sit and you shall have this little sprig that is in my hand to throw. You must not be left out of the sport because you are blind," and Loki handed the mistletoe to him.

The others welcomed the blind god to the ring and made him happy by telling him that Baldur smiled at all of their strokes.

"Let me throw next," said Hodur, the blind god. Loki stood by him and directed his hand as Hodur threw the mistletoe.

Poor Baldur! The mistletoe pierced his heart through and through. He fell backward dead.

Hodur was wild with grief. The other gods knew that the treacherous Loki had done it, and did not blame Hodur. Frigga asked which of the gods would dare to ride to Loki's home to bring Baldur back.

Hermod, called the nimble, an older brother of Baldur, said he would go.

Woden, his father, told him to take the horse Sleipnir. Sleipnir had never carried any one but Woden himself. He had twice as many legs as any other horse. He made eight tracks instead of four.

Hermod mounted Sleipnir and rode fast for nine days and nine nights until he came to the land of Death, where Loki loved to stay.

Hela, who ruled there, said Baldur might return if all things above mourned for him.

WODEN ON THE THRONE. <strong><a href=Thor on the left, Freya on the right, holding mistletoe. Loki at the bottom, suffering for the murder of Baldur. From an ancient bas-relief.">

Hermod rode back and asked all things if Baldur should return. All begged for Baldur but one old hag, who sat on the side of a mountain. Everything else wept for Baldur. Tears stood on the rocks about her as we have seen drops of water on the hardest rock in early morning; the leaves of the trees shed tears of grief. This old hag refused to weep. Baldur could not return.

After the test was over, the gods believed that the old creature on the mountain side was Loki disguised in this way. It must have been the evil Loki, for nothing else could have been so cruel.