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The Heroes of Asgard by  A. & E. Keary

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THE WOOD BARRI

[163] WHEN Skirnir got back to Alfheim, and told Gerd's answer to Frey, he was disappointed to find that his master did not immediately look as bright and happy as he expected.

"Nine days!" he said; "but how can I wait nine days? One day is long, and three days are very long, but 'nine days' might as well be a whole year."

I have heard children say such things when one tells them to wait for a new toy.

Skirnir and old Niörd only laughed at it; but Freyja and all the ladies of Asgard made a journey to Alfheim, when they heard the story, [164] to comfort Frey, and hear all the news about the wedding.

"Dear Frey," they said, "it will never do to lie still here, sighing under a tree. You are quite mistaken about the time being long; it is hardly long enough to prepare the marriage presents, and talk over the wedding. You have no idea how busy we are going to be; everything in Alfheim will have to be altered a little."

At these words Frey really did lift up his head, and wake up from his musings. He looked, in truth, a little frightened at the thought; but, when all the Asgard ladies were ready to work for his wedding, how could he make any objection? He was not allowed to have much share in the business himself; but he had little time, during the nine days, to indulge in private thought, for never before was there such a commotion in Alfheim. The ladies found so many things that wanted overlooking, and the little light elves were not of the slightest use to any one. They forgot all their usual tasks, and went running about through groves and fields, [165] and by the sedgy banks of rivers, peering into earth-holes, and creeping down into flower-cups and empty snail-shells, every one hoping to find a gift for Gerda.

Some stole the light from glow-worms' tails, and wove it into a necklace, and others pulled the ruby spots from cowslip leaves, to set with jewels the acorn cups that Gerda was to drink from; while the swiftest runners chased the butterflies, and pulled feathers from their wings to make fans and bonnet-plumes.

All the work was scarcely finished when the ninth day came, and Frey set out from Alfheim with all his elves, to the warm wood Barri.

The Æsir joined him on the way, and they made, together, something like a wedding procession. First came Frey in his chariot, drawn by Golden Bristles, and carrying in his hand the wedding-ring, which was none other than Draupnir, the magic ring of which so many stories are told.

Odin and Frigga followed with their wedding gift, the Ship Skidbladnir, in which all the [166] Æsir could sit and sail, though it could afterwards be folded up so small, that you might carry it in your hand.

Then came Idūna, with eleven golden apples in a basket on her fair head, and then two and two all the heroes and ladies with their gifts.

All round them flocked the elves, toiling under the weight of their offerings. It took twenty little people to carry one gift, and yet there was not one so large as a baby's finger. Laughing, and singing, and dancing, they entered the warm wood, and every summer flower sent a sweet breath after them. Everything on earth smiled on the wedding-day of Frey and Gerda, only—when it was all over, and every one had gone home, and the moon shone cold into the wood—it seemed as if the Vanir spoke to one another.

"Odin," said one voice, "gave his eye for wisdom, and we have seen that it was well done."

"Frey," answered the other, "has given his sword for happiness. It may be well to be unarmed while the sun shines and bright days last; but [167] when Ragnarök has come, and the sons of Muspell ride down to the last fight, will not Frey regret his sword?"


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