WHEN Odin came back to Asgard, Hermod took the bridle
from his father's hand, and told him that the rest of
the Æsir were gone to the Peacestead—a broad, green
plain which lay just outside the city. Now this was,
in fact, the playground of the Æsir, where they
practised trials of skill one with another, and held
tournaments and sham fights. These last were always
conducted in the gentlest and most honourable manner;
for the strongest law of the Peacestead was, that no
angry blow should be struck, or spiteful word spoken,
upon the sacred field; and for this reason some have
thought it might be well if children also had a
Peacestead to play in.
 Odin was too much tired by his journey from Helheim to
go to the Peacestead that afternoon; so he turned away,
and shut himself up in his palace of Gladsheim. But
when he was gone, Loki came into the city by another
way, and hearing from Hermod where the Æsir were, set
off to join them.
When he got to the Peacestead, Loki found that the Æsir
were standing round in a circle shooting at something,
and he peeped between the shoulders of two of them to
find out what it was. To his surprise he saw Baldur
standing in the midst, erect and calm, whilst his
friends and brothers were aiming their weapons at him.
Some hewed at him with their swords—others threw stones
at him—some shot arrows pointed with steel, and Thor
continually swung Miölnir at his head. "Well," said
Loki to himself, "if this is the sport of Asgard, what
must that of Jötunheim be? I wonder what Father Odin
and Mother Frigg would say if they were here?" But as
Loki still looked, he became even more surprised, for
the sport went on, and Baldur was
 not hurt. Arrows aimed at his very heart glanced back
again untinged with blood. The stones fell down from
his broad bright brow, and left no bruises there.
Swords clave, but did not wound him; Miölnir struck
him, and he was not crushed. At this Loki grew
perfectly furious with envy and hatred. "And why is
Balder to be so honoured, "said he, "that even steel
and stone shall not hurt him?" Then Loki changed
himself into a little, dark, bent, old woman, with a
stick in his hand, and hobbled away from the Peacestead
to Frigga's cool saloon. At the door he knocked with
"Come in!" said the kind voice of Frigg, and Loki
lifted the latch.
Now when Frigga saw, from the other end of the hall, a
little, bent, crippled, old woman, come hobbling up her
crystal floor, she got up with true queenliness and met
her half way, holding out her hand, and saying in the
kindest manner, "Pray sit down, my poor old friend; for
it seems to me that you have come from a great way
 "That I have, indeed," answered Loki in a tremulous,
"And did you happen to see anything of the Æsir," asked
Frigg, "as you came?"
"Just now I passed by the Peacestead, and saw them at
"What were they doing?"
"Shooting at Baldur."
Then Frigg bent over her work with a pleased smile on
her face. "And nothing hurt him?" she said.
"Nothing," answered Loki, looking keenly at her."
"No, nothing," murmured Frigg, still looking down and
speaking half musingly to herself; "for all things have
sworn to me that they will not."
"Sworn!" exclaimed Loki, eagerly; "what is that you
say? Has everything sworn then?"
"Everything," answered she, "excepting, indeed, the
little shrub mistletoe, which grows, you know, on the
west side of Valhal, and to which I said nothing,
because I thought it was too young to swear."
 "Excellent!" thought Loki; and then he got up.
"You're not going yet, are you?" said Frigg, stretching
out her hand and looking up at last into the eyes of
the old woman.
"I'm quite rested now, thank you," answered Loki in his
squeaky voice, and then he hobbled out at the door,
which clapped after him, and sent a cold gust into the
room. Frigga shuddered, and thought that a serpent was
gliding down the back of her neck.
When Loki had left the presence of Frigg, he changed
himself back to his proper shape, and went straight to
the west side of Valhal, where the mistletoe grew.
Then he opened his knife, and cut off a large branch,
saying these words, "Too young for Frigga's oaths, but
not too weak for Loki's work." After which he set off
for the Peacestead once more, the mistletoe in his
hand. When he got there he found that the Æsir were
still at their sport, standing round, taking aim, and
talking eagerly, and Baldur did not seem tired.
But there was one who stood alone, leaning against
 a tree, and who took no part in what was going on.
This was Hödur, Baldur's blind twin-brother; he stood
with his head bent downwards, silent, whilst the others
were speaking, doing nothing when they were most eager;
and Loki thought that there was a discontented
expression on his face, just as if he were saying to
himself, "Nobody takes any notice of me." So Loki went
up to him, and put his hand upon his shoulder.
"And why are you standing here all alone, my brave
friend?" said he. Why don't you throw something
at Baldur. Hew at him with a sword, or show him some
attention of that sort."
"I haven't got a sword," answered Hödur, with an
impatient gesture; "and you know as well as I do, Loki,
that Father Odin does not approve of my wearing warlike
weapons, or joining in sham fights, because I am
"Oh! is that it?" said Loki. "Well, I only know
I shouldn't like to be left out of everything.
However, I've got a twig of mistletoe here which I'll
lend you if you like; a harmless little twig enough,
but I shall be happy to guide your
 arm if you would like to throw it, and Baldur might
take it as a compliment from his twin-brother."
"Let me feel it," said Hödur, stretching out his
"This way, this way, my dear friend," said Loki, giving
him the twig. "Now, as hard as ever you can, to do
him honour; throw!"
Hödur threw—Baldur fell, and the shadow of death
covered the whole earth.
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