Page images

In many a smoky fireside nook
Of Iceland in the ancient days,
By wandering Saga — man or scald.""

BALDUR the Beautiful was the son of Odin and Frigga. He was so full of sympathy and kindness that wherever he went the sun shone more brightly, and happiness filled the people's hearts. But he had one enemy, a dark and evil spirit named Loki.

One day Odin noticed that Baldur, who made joy and gladness for every one, was himself sad. He was troubled by dreams which told him he must soon die and go away from his home, his wife, his parents and the beautiful world he loved so well.

His father called a council of all the gods and goddesses and put the case before them, asking them if Baldur's silly dreams were true.

“Yes,” they said sorrowfully, “ Baldur must die.” But Frigga, his mother, went to every living creature, to every plant and animal, and got from each a promise never to harm Baldur. “ Now,” she said, “ he cannot die.”

After that the people often had great sport in throwing all sorts of things at Baldur, who enjoyed the fun as well as they, for nothing seemed to have power to hurt him.

But one day when Frigga was sitting in her room, smiling at the shouts of the people who were hurling things at Baldur, an old beggar woman came to ask for help.

It was Loki, disguised as an old woman. “Why do all the people laugh and shout out there on the hill?" asked the beggar woman.

“Oh, they are just amusing themselves throwing and shooting things at my son Baldur,” said Frigga, “but nothing can harm him, for I have gotten a promise from every living thing never to hurt him.”

“ Are you sure, from everything ?” asked Loki.

“Yes, from everything except the tiny mistletoe which grows on the old oak trees. That was so small, I didn't ask it."

A wicked gleam came into Loki's eyes.
He, still disguised as the beggar, went out and

found a mistletoe plant. He chuckled as he took it home with him.

Another day, when the people were playing with Baldur, Loki crept up to Hodur, Baldur's blind brother.

“Why don't you shoot, Hodur ?” he asked.

“ Because I am blind and have no one to help me aim,” replied Hodur.

“ Here! here! try this little arrow I have just made," said the wicked Loki.

He helped Hodur aim it.

Twang! went the arrow, straight and true. It touched Baldur, who fell to the earth, dead.

The little mistletoe, which Frigga thought too lowly to ask a promise from, killed Baldur the Beautiful, the most beloved god of the Norsemen.

“ So on the floor lay Baldur dead; and round
Lay thickly strewn swords, axes, darts and spears,
Which all the gods in sport had idly thrown
At Baldur, whom no weapon pierced or clove;
But in his breast stood fixed the fatal bough
Of mistletoe, which Loki the Accuser gave
To Hodur, and unwitting Hodur threw —
'Gainst that alone had Baldur's life no charm.”

SOFTLY sinking thro’ the snow,
To our winter rest we go,
Underneath the snow to house
Till the birds be in the boughs,
And the boughs with leaves be fair,
And the sunshine everywhere.
Softly thro’ the snow we settle,
Little snowdrops press each petal,
Oh, the snow is kind and white, -
Soft it is, and very light;
Soon we shall be where no light is,
But where sleep is, and where night is, —
Sleep of every wind unshaken
Till our summer bids us waken.


THERE was a family of four persons — a hunter, his wife and two children — who dwelt in a wigwam. Each day the hunter went out for game, and he usually returned with all he could carry. He continued these successful hunting excursions throughout the autumn and until the middle of winter; but one day, while in the woods, far from his wigwam, Kān, the Snow, froze the hunter's feet so badly that he could scarcely get along.

He felt very sad that he was so injured by Kōn, and, to punish him, he made a large bowl, which he filled with snow and buried in a deep hole, where the midday sun could shine down on it, and where the Snow could not run away. He then covered the hole with sticks and leaves to hold the Snow a prisoner until summer.

When midsummer came, the hunter went out to the place where he had buried the Snow, and, removing the covering, permitted the sun to shine down on it and cause it to melt.

Thus he punished the Snow; but when autumn came again and he was one day in the forest, he heard some one say to him, “You punished me last summer, but when winter comes, I will show you how strong I am.”

The hunter well knew that it was Kõn who had thus addressed him, and, taking care to provide

« PreviousContinue »