THE WOOD BARRI
 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
"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,
 to comfort Frey, and hear all the news about the
"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
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,
 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
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
 Æsir could sit and sail, though it could afterwards be
folded up so small, that you might carry it in your
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
 when Ragnarök has come, and the sons of Muspell ride
down to the last fight, will not Frey regret his