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Main > Scandinavian folktales > Fairy tale " IV.The death of Baldur"

IV.The death of Baldur

Baldur the Good had dreams which forewarned him that his life was in danger, and he told the gods of them. The gods took counsel together what should be done, and it was agreed that they should conjure away all danger that might threaten him. Frigga took an oath of fire, water, iron, and all other metals, stones, earth, trees, sicknesses, beasts, birds, poisons, and worms, that these would none of them hurt Baldur. When this had been done the gods used to divert themselves, Baldur standing up in the assembly, and all the others throwing at him, hewing at him, and smiting him with stones, for, do all they would, he received no hurt, and in this sport all enjoyed themselves.

Loki, however, looked on with envy when he saw that Baldur was not hurt. So he assumed the form of a woman, and set out to Fensalir to Frigga. Frigga asked if the stranger knew what the gods did when they met. He answered that they all shot at Baldur and he was not hurt.

"No weapon, nor tree may hurt Baldur," answers Frigga, "I have taken an oath of them all not to do so."

"What," said the pretended woman, "have all things then sworn to spare Baldur?"

"There is only one little twig which grows to the east of Valhalla, which is called the mistletoe. Of that I took no oath, for it seemed to me too young and feeble to do any hurt."

Then the strange woman departed, and Loki having found the mistletoe, cut it off, and went to the assembly. There he found Hodur standing apart by himself, for he was blind. Then said Loki to him—

"Why do you not throw at Baldur?"

"Because," said he, "I am blind and cannot see him, and besides I have nothing to throw."

"Do as the others," said Loki, "and honour Baldur as the rest do. I will direct your aim. Throw this shaft at him."

Hodur took the mistletoe and, Loki directing him, aimed at Baldur. The aim was good. The shaft pierced him through, and Baldur fell dead upon the earth. Surely never was there a greater misfortune either among gods or men.

When the gods saw that Baldur was dead then they were silent, aghast, and stood motionless.

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