AIR THRONE, THE DWARFS, AND THE LIGHT ELVES
 IN the morning Odin mounted Air Throne, and looked over
the whole earth, whilst the Æsir stood all round
waiting to hear what he thought about it.
"The earth is very beautiful," said Odin, from the top
of his throne, "very beautiful in every part, even to
the shores of the dark North Sea; but, alas! the men of
the earth are puny and fearful. At this moment I see a
three-headed giant striding out of Jötunheim. He
throws a shepherd-boy into the sea, and puts the whole
of the flock into his pocket. Now he takes them out
again one by one, and cracks their bones as if
 they were hazel-nuts, whilst, all the time, men look
on, and do nothing."
"Father," cried Thor in a rage, "last night I forged
for myself a belt, a glove, and a hammer, with which
three things I will go forth alone to Jötunheim."
Thor went, and Odin looked again.
"The men of the earth are idle and stupid," said Odin.
"There are dwarfs and elves, who live amongst them, and
play tricks which they cannot understand, and do not
know how to prevent. At this moment I see a husbandman
sowing grains of wheat in the furrows, whilst a dwarf
runs after him, and changes them into stones. Again, I
see two hideous little beings, who are holding under
water the head of one, the wisest of men, until he
dies; they mix his blood with honey; they have put it
into three stone jars, and hidden it away."
Then Odin was very angry with the dwarfs, for he saw
that they were bent on mischief; so he called to him
Hermod, his Flying Word, and despatched him with a
message to the dwarfs and
 light elves, to say that Odin sent his compliments, and
would be glad to speak with them, in his palace of
Gladsheim, upon a matter of some importance.
When they received Hermod's summons the dwarfs and
light elves were very much surprised, not quite knowing
whether to feel honoured or afraid. However, they put
on their pertest manners, and went clustering after
Hermod like a swarm of ladybirds.
When they were arrived in the great city they found
Odin descended from his throne, and sitting with the
rest of the Æsir in the Judgment Hall of Gladsheim.
Hermod flew in, saluted his master, and pointed to the
dwarfs and elves hanging like a cloud in the doorway to
show that he had fulfilled his mission. Then Odin
beckoned the little people to come forward. Cowering
and whispering they peeped over one another's
shoulders; now running on a little way into the hall,
now back again, half curious, half afraid; and it was
not until Odin had beckoned three times that they
finally reached his footstool. Then Odin spoke to them
in calm, low, serious tones about the wickedness of
mis-  chievous propensities. Some, the very worst of them, only
laughed in a forward, hardened manner; but a great many
looked up surprised and a little pleased at the novelty
of serious words; whilst the light elves all wept, for
they were tender-hearted little things. At length Odin
spoke to the two dwarfs by name whom he had seen
drowning the wise man. "Whose blood was it," he asked,
"that you mixed with honey and put into jars?"
"Oh," said the dwarfs, jumping up into the air, and
clapping their hands, "that was Kvasir's blood. Don't
you know who Kvasir was? He sprang up out of the peace
made between the Vanir and yourselves, and has been
wandering about these seven years or more; so wise he
was that men thought he must be a god. Well, just now
we found him lying in a meadow drowned in his own
wisdom; so we mixed his blood with honey, and put it
into three great jars to keep. Was not that well done,
"Well done!" answered Odin. "Well done! You cruel,
cowardly, lying dwarfs! I myself saw you kill him.
For shame! for shame!" and then
 Odin proceeded to pass sentence upon them all. Those
who had been the most wicked, he said, were to live,
henceforth, a long way underground, and were to spend
their time in throwing fuel upon the great earth's
central fire; whilst those who had only been
mischievous were to work in the gold and diamond mines,
fashioning precious stones and metals. They might all
come up at night, Odin said; but must vanish at the
dawn. Then he waved his hand, and the dwarfs turned
round, shrilly chattering, scampered down the
palace-steps, out of the city, over the green fields,
to their unknown, deep-buried earth-homes. But the
light elves still lingered, with upturned, tearful,
smiling faces, like sunshiny morning dew.
"And you," said Odin, looking them through and through
with his serious eyes, "and you——"
"Oh! indeed, Odin," interrupted they, speaking all
together in quick, uncertain tones; "Oh! indeed, Odin,
we are not so very wicked. We have never done anybody
"Have you ever done anybody any good?" asked Odin.
 "Oh! no, indeed," answered the light elves, "we have
never done anything at all."
"You may go, then," said Odin, "to live amongst the
flowers, and play with the wild bees and summer
insects. You must, however, find something to do, or
you will get to be mischievous like the dwarfs."
"If only we had any one to teach us," said the light
elves, "for we are such foolish little people."
Odin looked round inquiringly upon the Æsir; but
amongst them there was no teacher found for the silly
little elves. Then he turned to Niörd, who nodded his
head good-naturedly, and said, "Yes, yes, I will see
about it;" and then he strode out of the Judgment Hall,
right away through the city gates, and sat down upon
the mountain's edge.
After awhile he began to whistle in a most alarming
manner, louder and louder, in strong wild gusts, now
advancing, now retreating; then he dropped his voice a
little, lower and lower, until it became a bird-like
whistle—low, soft, enticing music, like a spirit's
call; and far away
 from the south a little fluttering answer came, sweet
as the invitation itself, nearer and nearer until the
two sounds dropped into one another. Then through the
clear sky two forms came floating, wonderfully fair—a
brother and sister—their beautiful arms twined round
one another, their golden hair bathed in sunlight, and
supported by the wind.
"My son and daughter," said Niörd, proudly, to the
surrounding Æsir, "Frey and Freyja, Summer and Beauty,
hand in hand."
When Frey and Freyja dropped upon the hill Niörd took
his son by the hand, led him gracefully to the foot of
the throne, and said, "Look here, dear brother Lord,
what a fair young instructor I have brought for your
pretty little elves."
Odin was very much pleased with the appearance of Frey;
but, before constituting him king and schoolmaster of
the light elves, he desired to know what his
accomplishments were, and what he considered himself
competent to teach.
"I am the genius of clouds and sunshine," answered
Frey; and as he spoke, the essences of
 a hundred perfumes were exhaled from his breath. "I am
the genius of clouds and sunshine, and if the light
elves will have me for their king I can teach them how
to burst the folded buds, to set the blossoms, to pour
sweetness into the swelling fruit, to lead the bees
through the honey-passages of the flowers, to make the
single ear a stalk of wheat, to hatch birds' eggs, and
teach the little ones to sing—all this, and much more,"
said Frey, "I know, and will teach them."
Then answered Odin, "It is well;" and Frey took his
scholars away with him to Alfheim, which is in every
beautiful place under the sun.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics