In The Days of Giants A Book of Norse Tales

Page: 50

Then the servant ran to look out of the window, and in a minute she popped in her head, crying, "Here is a mighty stranger who has dismounted from his horse and leads him by the bridle to crop the grass."

Gerd was curious to see who this stranger might be; for her father kept her close and she saw few visitors.

"Bid him enter our hall," she said, "and give him a horn of bright mead to drink. I will see him, though I fear it is the slayer of my brother." For Gerd was the sister of Thiasse whom Thor slew.

So Skirnir came into the hall, and Gerd received him coldly. "Who are you?" she asked. "Which of the wise Æsir are you? For I know that only one of the mighty ones from Asgard would have the courage and the power to pass through the raging flames that surround my father's land."

"I come from Frey, O maiden," said Skirnir,140 "from Frey, whom all folk love. I come to beg that you also will love him and consent to be his wife. For Frey has seen your beauty, and you are very dear to him."

Gerd laughed carelessly. "I have heard of your fair Frey," she said, "and how he is more dear to all than sunshine and the sweet smell of flowers. But he is not dear to me. I do not wish the love of Frey, nor any of that race of giant-killers. Tell him that I will not be his bride."

"Stay, be not so hasty," urged Skirnir. "We have more words to exchange before I start for home. Look, I will give you eleven golden apples from Asgard's magic tree if you will go with me to Frey's dwelling."

Gerd would hear nothing of the golden apples. Then Skirnir promised her the golden ring, Draupnir, which the dwarfs had made for Odin, out of which every ninth night dropped eight other rings as large and bright. But neither would Gerd listen to word of this generous gift. "I have gold enough in my father's house," she said disdainfully. "With such trifles you cannot tempt me to marry your Frey."

141 Then Skirnir was very angry, and he began to storm and threaten. "I will strike you with the bright sword which I hold in my hand!" he cried. "It is Frey's magic sword, under which even that stout old giant your father must sink if he comes within its reach." But again Gerd laughed, though with less mirth in her laughter. "I will tame you with Frey's magic wand!" he threatened, "the wand with which he rules the Light-Elves, and changes folk into strange shapes. You shall vanish from the sight of men, and pass your life on the eagle's mount far above the sky, where you shall sit all day, too sad to eat. And when you come thence, after countless ages, you will be a hideous monster at which all creatures will stare in mockery and scorn."