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Title: The Frithiof Saga - Life Stories for Young People
Author: Schmidt, Ferdinand
Language: English
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                [Illustration: _Frithiof’s sea journey_]

                    _Life Stories for Young People_

                           THE FRITHIOF SAGA

                     _Translated from the German of
                           Ferdinand Schmidt_

                            GEORGE P. UPTON

              _Translator of “Memories,” “Immensee,” etc._

                        With Four Illustrations

                  [Illustration: A. C. McCLURG & CO.]

                          A. C. McCLURG & CO.

                          A. C. McClurg & Co.
                      Published September 21, 1907

               The University Press, Cambridge, U. S. A.

                          Translator’s Preface

Iceland is the home of the Saga, a form of literature which includes the
telling of the story of a hero’s life and adventures in a fixed, regular
form, and which is usually intended for recitation, though the Saga is
never set in the customary versified style of poetry. A large number of
these Sagas, relating to Iceland, Greenland, North America, and the
Norse countries, still remain, and among them the Frithiof Saga,
narrating the stirring adventures of that hero of the Northland and
Viking of its seas, is one of the most beautiful. Its subject is noble,
heroic, and free from exaggerated description or overwrought sentiment.
Frithiof is a splendid type of the old Norse hero, invincible in battle
upon the land, fearless of Nature’s wrath as he sails the seas in his
dragon ship, impulsive yet just, swift in punishment yet quick in
forgiveness. The central motives of the Saga are his love for King
Bele’s daughter, Ingeborg; the refusal of her brothers to sanction their
marriage because the hero is not of royal birth; her unwilling marriage
to the old King Ring; Frithiof’s exile, and his final union with
Ingeborg after the death of her husband and reconciliation with her
brother. Interwoven with the narrative itself, which is full of dramatic
situations, are some of the old myths, than which none is more beautiful
than the death of the gentle god Balder. The very breath of the North
sweeps through the stately story which the German author has told with
so much skill. Those who wish to come in closer contact with the Saga
itself can do so by consulting Bishop Tegner’s masterly translation.

                                                                G. P. U.

Chicago, June, 1907.


  Chapter                                                           Page
  I Frithiof and Ingeborg                                             11
  II The Death of Balder                                              15
  III King Bele and Thorsten                                          26
  IV Frithiof’s Inheritance                                           33
  V Frithiof’s Wooing                                                 40
  VI King Ring                                                        44
  VII Frithiof at Chess                                               48
  VIII Frithiof goes to Ingeborg                                      50
  IX The Parting                                                      52
  X Frithiof’s Voyage                                                 59
  XI Frithiof at the Court of Augantyr                                62
  XII Frithiof’s Return                                               68
  XIII The Burning of the Temple                                      74
  XIV Frithiof in Exile                                               78
  XV Frithiof’s Viking Life                                           81
  XVI Frithiof comes to King Ring’s Court                             84
  XVII The Sledge Excursion                                           89
  XVIII Frithiof’s Temptation                                         91
  XIX Death of King Ring                                              97
  XX The Election to the Kingdom                                     100
  XXI The Reconciliation                                             102


  Frithiof’s Sea Journey                                  _Frontispiece_
  Frithiof’s Wooing                                                   42
  Frithiof’s Wrestle                                                  64
  King Ring’s Death                                                   98

                           The Frithiof Saga

                               Chapter I
                         Frithiof and Ingeborg

In olden times there ruled in Norway a King of great renown called Bele,
whose wife died early, leaving him two sons and a daughter. When the
latter had reached her sixth year, the King said to Thorsten, his
brother-in-arms and lifelong friend, “My rosebud, Ingeborg, is the joy
of my heart, but none the less I must send her away and entrust her to
the guardianship of Hilding the Wise, so that, far from the turmoil and
distractions of a court, the light of true knowledge shall be hers. But
lest she should miss the companionship of her beloved playfellow, I pray
thee permit thy son Frithiof to accompany her, that they may be reared

“Gladly will I do so,” replied Thorsten; “not alone to honor thy
request, but because I know thou hast my son’s welfare also at heart in
sending him as the companion of thine own child to be taught by the wise
Hilding. My King’s will shall be done.”

Hilding’s abode lay on the sea-coast, surrounded by gardens and wooded
hills, and there Ingeborg and Frithiof spent the years of their
childhood, faithfully taught and cared for by the good old man. Two rare
blossoms of the Northland were these children, both richly endowed with
gifts of mind and body: Ingeborg was like the swelling rosebud within
whose heart the promise of the spring lies dreaming, while Frithiof grew
up tall and strong as a young oak tree crowned with its crest of
rustling leaves. So blessed by the gods were they with health and beauty
that never had their like been seen in all the North. Now listening to
the wondrous tales of their wise master, with clear eyes uplifted to
his; now racing over the sunny meadows or dancing lightly under the dark
boughs of the fir trees in the silvery moonlight, they were like the
Light Fairies, whose appearance betokens blessing and fills the heart
with anticipations of joy.

Frithiof was but little older than Ingeborg, and when he first learned
from Hilding to read the Runic signs, it was his delight to teach them
in turn to his beloved playmate. Ofttimes they would sail out upon the
wind-tossed sea, and when the shifting of the sail sent foam and spray
dashing into the boat, Ingeborg would clap her small hands in glee. No
tree was too high for the bold lad when he wished to capture a nest of
young birds for the King’s child; even the osprey’s eyrie, high among
the rocky crags, was not safe from his daring quest. ’Twas he that found
for her the first pale blossoms of the springtime, the first ripe
strawberry, the summer’s first golden ear of corn. Joyously they
wandered together in the forest, Frithiof armed to protect his playmate
in case of need; for he early strove to train himself in all a hero’s

Thus, like a beautiful dream, the happy days of childhood glided by.
Ingeborg blossomed into maidenhood, and Frithiof became a stalwart
youth. The King’s daughter spent more time in her own chamber now,
learning the tasks of women, chief of which was the weaving of garments,
while Frithiof was often abroad with the men in quest of game or booty.
Inheriting not only his father’s strength and daring, but also his
discretion and cheerfulness, he was beloved by all and soon aroused the
wonder of his companions in the chase by the boldness with which he
would attack the fiercest beasts, felling them with a blow from his
spiky club, or piercing them through with the sharp-pronged spear. As in
earlier days he had been wont to bring his playmate gifts of flowers or
fruit as greetings of the season, so now he laid at her feet the
trophies of his prowess—shaggy bears or grisly wild boars, often
revealing upon his body bloody traces of the struggle. Admiringly
Ingeborg’s gaze would rest at such times on the young hero, while her
heart beat fast in terror for his life.

And when on cold winter nights they sat together in the great hall by
the blazing hearth fire listening to the legends old Hilding told them
of the gods, or, when the King’s daughter would sing of the deeds of
some great hero long at rest beneath his grassy mound, she seemed to
Frithiof like a goddess sent by the great All-Father for a brief space
to the darksome earth to awaken a foretaste of Valhalla’s delights.
“Praises of Frigga’s golden hair are sung throughout the land,” he would
say to himself, “but surely it can be no more beautiful than Ingeborg’s
fair tresses.” And when he gazed into those soft eyes, so full of
heaven’s own light and hue, he doubted Hilding’s declaration that the
eyes of the goddess Frigga were the most beautiful in all the world.

                               Chapter II
                          The Death of Balder

Again the Spring had come. Frigga, the radiant Earth-goddess, had decked
meadow, hill, and vale with bloom and verdure, and summoned the various
warblers of grove and wood. One mild evening Ingeborg and Frithiof
repaired with Hilding to a hillside overlooking the sea and seated
themselves on the mossy stones. There, while the waves roared at their
feet, the master told them of the gentle god Balder, and how envy and
malice brought him to his death.

“Balder was a son of the all-powerful Odin and the fair Earth-goddess
Frigga, beautiful as the day and so bright that a shining splendor
surrounded him as he traversed the dome of heaven on his white steed,
swifter than thought. All evil, hatred, and strife were abhorrent to
him. Eloquent, wise, mild, and just, he ever sought to promote peace, to
avert misfortune, and to ease pain and sorrow. Sometimes, assuming human
shape, he would mingle in the combat, but never, even in the heat of
battle, did he lift his sword against a mortal. Though the other gods
often took part in the strife of men, ’twas to do good alone that drew
Balder to the field of battle. Once on a hot summer’s day it chanced
some warriors were perishing for want of water; whereupon he thrust his
spear into the ground, and a cool spring gushed forth, while others
welled up wherever his horse’s hoofs had trodden. These springs were
inexhaustible and still exist, surrounded by sacred groves, wherein the
beneficent god will be worshipped to the end of time. Equally gentle and
lovely was his spouse Nanna, and far above the clouds, whither the eye
of man cannot penetrate, they dwelt in their palace, Silvery Lustre,
where nothing evil or impure can ever enter.

“Balder was beloved by all the gods and goddesses save only Loke, the
ever-evil, who hated him. One night Balder dreamed that some danger
threatened his life, and so alarming was this dream that he could not
shake off its shadow, but sad and heavy-hearted, thought only of
approaching evil. Sorrow seized not only upon Nanna, his loving wife,
but upon all the gods and goddesses, when they learned of the dark
forebodings that filled Balder’s soul. In vain did Odin, his father,
spend many days and nights in thought; in vain did he take counsel with
the other gods and consult his two wise ravens, who see into the past
and future, as to the nature of the danger that threatened his beloved
son. At last he determined to undertake the perilous journey to the
abode of the goddesses of Fate. Rising from his shining throne, he left
the palace, mounted his fire-breathing celestial steed that stood before
the door, and, followed by the two ravens and the two wolves who are his
constant companions, flew like lightning through the space betwixt
heaven and earth and soon reached the path that leads to the kingdom of
the pale goddess, Hel, in the terrible underworld.

“Far down below Valhalla, the golden palace of the gods, whither heroes
are borne by Odin’s battle-maidens, the Valkyrs, on their winged steeds,
lies the dread realm of shadows where abides the inexorable Hel. Loke is
her father; her mother—the giantess Angurboda, is a sister of the
frightful wolf Fenris and the earth-enveloping serpent. Woe, thrice woe
to him who descends into the cold mist-kingdom of the goddess of death!
Misery is her Hall, Ruin her Threshold, Pining Sickness her Bed, and
Danger the Curtains thereof. Sloth is her Thrall, and Despair her
Handmaiden. She eats from the Dish Hunger with the Knife of Famine.

“To this terrible place Odin now took his way. The path, which no living
man had ever trodden, led between frightful abysses and icy crags. But
he heeded not these terrors nor the furious yelping and snapping of the
death-hounds, intent only on learning what evil threatened his favorite
son. At last he reached the spot where dwelt the goddesses of Fate, and
at the first gray Rune-stone he swung himself from his steed. Below it
had lain for a thousand years the Norn who reads the future; while about
the desolate tomb the wind moaned through the leafless branches and
whirled aloft the parching sand. Odin drew his sword and inscribed
thrice with it a Runic sentence in the sand. Then he shouted thrice the
Runic call which, uttered by the lips of a god, has power to wake the
dead within their graves. In dull, hollow tones a voice answered from
the depths:

  What mystic spell of sternest might
  Penetrates the dungeon’s night?
  Stirs me from my sleep of old?
  Who art thou, O stranger bold?
  Go! let me rest, for here below
  Through Winter’s snows and Summer’s glow,
  Through dripping dew and streaming rain,
  A thousand years I now have lain.
  Ruthless thou stirrest the dead’s deep rest—
  Who mayst thou be, thou stranger guest?

“And Odin answered:

  A wanderer I, unknown my name;
  A warrior’s son, untold my fame;
  Of the upper world I would not know,
  But fain would seek of those below.
  For whom is the glittering table spread?
  For whom prepared the golden bed?

“Again the hollow tones responded:

  Sawest thou not in beaker bright
  Draught of sweet mead, foaming light?
  O’er it hangs the golden shield
  Warrior’s arm no more shall wield!
  Balder’s coming these betoken;
  Balder’s death doom hath been spoken!

  This rede reluctant have I told—
  Now get thee gone, thou stranger bold.
  Leave the weary to her rest
  And come no more, whate’er thy quest.

“Down in the abyss the mists rolled and parted, permitting Odin for an
instant to gaze into the joyless realm of death, and he saw that all was
indeed made ready to receive his beloved son. With the tears starting to
his eyes he mounted his steed and turned sadly homeward. Loud cries of
woe broke from the waiting gods and goddesses when Odin told them the
saying of the Norn. Vainly they sought some means by which the doom of
their favorite might be averted, till at last Frigga bethought her of a
plan, which was hailed with joy by all. As mistress of the earth, she
bound by oath everything that existed thereon, fire and water, iron and
all the other metals, rock and soil, bush and tree, all disease or
poison, with all created beings of the earth, the air, and the
water,—not to harm her son. Alone of the tender mistletoe that hangs
from the bough, she took no oath, for from that she feared nothing.

“Deeming their favorite safe from harm, the gods in their joy began to
sport with him. Some flung sharp-pointed spears at him, and lo! they
fell harmless to the ground. Others smote his uncovered head with their
keen blades, yet not a hair of his head was injured. Bright and laughing
as a fair spring morning, the god stood in their midst, catching the
hissing darts and lances in his hands. Their joyous cries at last
reached the ears of Loke, whose only pleasure it was to awaken strife
and discontent within the hearts of gods and men, and he hastened
thither to blight, if it might be, these heaven-born flowers of joy.
Taking the form of an aged dame with a staff in her trembling hand, he
approached the goddess Frigga, and said:

“‘Tell me, I pray thee, O watchful Earth-mother, wherefore the gods are
glad, so that I may share their joy.’

“Frigga replied: ‘All nature has sworn to me to do no harm to my son
Balder. His life was in great peril, but now shall the Norn’s rede be
brought to naught, nor shall he descend into the kingdom of pale Hel.’

“But Loke asked: ‘Didst thou take oath of everything upon the earth?’

“And Frigga answered: ‘Of all save the tender mistletoe that grows east
of Valhalla: from that surely there is naught to fear.’

“Now was Loke rejoiced, for mistletoe causes the death of the tree from
which it draws its life. Slipping softly out from the gates of Valhalla,
he hastened to where it grew, and, breaking it off, fashioned from the
tough stem a dart which he sharpened to the keenest point. Then, as the
old woman, he again joined the circle of the gods still busy with their
sports. Perceiving Höder, the blind god, who stood apart listening to
his companion’s joyous cries but unable to share their sports, he drew
near and said to him:

“‘Why dost thou too not hurl the spear or speed the dart?’

“‘Alas! How can I?’ replied Höder. ‘Were not the light gone from my
eyes, gladly would I also do honor to Balder.’

“‘Nay, then, that thou shalt,’ said Loke. ‘Take thy bow and this dart; I
will guide its flight for thee.’

“Höder did as he was bid, and down sank Balder lifeless to the ground.

“This was the greatest misfortune which had ever befallen the gods in
Valhalla. For a space they stood horror-stricken, gazing at the corpse
of the gentle god. Then the vaulted halls echoed to their cries of woe.
Beyond all words was their grief and anguish. At length they bethought
them to seek the author of the evil deed; but vengeance was beyond their
power, for Odin’s palace is a sanctuary. Moreover, Loke had vanished.
With sighs and lamentations they bore the beloved dead to the seashore,
where, drawn up on rollers, stood Balder’s ship. On this his body was to
be burned. But all the efforts of the gods were powerless to stir the
mighty vessel from its place; whereupon they summoned the giantess
Hyrrocken (Fire Whirlwind) to their aid. A rushing sound was heard as
she came with streaming hair, riding a great wolf bridled with a

“Laying her mighty hands upon the ship she pushed it into the sea with
such force that sparks flew from the rollers. Seized with rage and
chagrin at this, Thor lifted his hammer to shatter the head of the
witch, but the other gods hastened to pacify him, and then a fresh
misfortune befell. The heart of Balder’s blooming wife Nanna burst with
its load of sorrow, and she sank lifeless into the arms of Frigga. The
bodies of the youthful pair thus united by death were laid upon the
funeral pyre that had been raised within the ship, and consumed amid the
lamentations of all the gods. This is the story of Balder’s death, which
brought sorrow and mourning into Odin’s halls of joy.”

With rapture Ingeborg and Frithiof had listened to old Hilding’s tale,
while far in the distance they heard the rumbling of Thor’s chariot, in
which the God of Thunder rides upon the clouds, and saw the flickering
lights that follow the blows of his hammer. Tears glistened in
Ingeborg’s eyes, and even Frithiof’s heart was moved. Presently they
arose and turned their faces homeward. Ingeborg retired to her chamber,
while Frithiof and Hilding seated themselves on cushions before a table
upon which burned a taper.

Suddenly Frithiof spoke: “Terrible indeed must be the abode of the
goddess Hel; yet gladly would I die and descend thither could I but know
that Ingeborg would mourn for me as Nanna mourned for Balder!”

Hilding was amazed at this speech.

“Alas! my son,” he said, “can it be that thou art cherishing a love for
Ingeborg? Never can it bring thee happiness. Bethink thee! King Bele’s
ancestors are descended from the gods, while thou art but the son of a
yeoman. From the sons of princes will Bele choose a son-in-law, nor
mayst thou ever hope to wed his child.”

Frithiof laughed and his eyes flashed as he answered, “The gods take no
heed of rank. With them valor is all. They will spurn him who fails in
courage, even though he be of their own blood; but him who strives with
all his soul to imitate them in godlike deeds they will hold in honor.
The fame I have already won for myself by slaying the beasts of the
forest shall count as much for me as if my ancestral line stretched up
to Odin’s halls!”

“Alas for this love of thine!” cried Hilding. “I fear me ’twill bear
thee naught but thorns. My old eyes were dim that I saw not what
mischief was brewing.”

“Nay, father, say not so!” answered Frithiof. “Never till this day have
I thought to win Ingeborg for my wife. ’Tis but now my heart hath
revealed its yearnings for her and her alone in all the world. But I
swear to thee by all the gods that never shall her image be banished
thence. If need be, my sword shall be my wooer. Aye! I would contend for
her with the Thunder-God himself; nor will I give her up so long as life
shall last. Yet of this I will say naught to her father, but sue for her
in due form after the manner of our forefathers.”

As Frithiof thus spoke, Ingeborg sat in her chamber, her thoughts also
busy with him. In his form she seemed to see the fair young god Balder,
and prayed the gods to guard the noble youth and grant him fame and

                              Chapter III
                         King Bele and Thorsten

King Bele and Thorsten, his faithful old brother-in-arms, were now bowed
with the weight of years, like two ruined temples upon whose walls are
graven runes of wisdom still powerful to stir the hearts of reverent

One day the King said to Thorsten: “My friend, the evening of life draws
on; no longer has the mead its wonted flavor, and heavy grows the helm
upon my weary head. The world grows dim before my eyes, but clear and
bright toward me streams the light of Valhalla. Therefore I have
summoned our sons hither. As we have ever stood fast by each other, so
it is my wish that they should do. With this and other matters I would
charge the young eagles ere my lips are sealed by death.”

The three youths soon entered the royal hall, Helge, the eldest first.
Pale and gloomy of countenance was he, as if the terrors of the
death-kingdom had set their seal upon him. With blood-stained hands,
fresh from the sacrificial grove he came, for he was wont to tarry
there, communing with seers and soothsayers. Behind him followed
Halfdan, his brother, whose bright locks framed a face noble, indeed, of
feature but weak and effeminate in expression. The sword at his side
seemed worn but in jest, and he looked like some fair maid who had
sportively donned the garb of a hero. Last came Frithiof, a blue mantle
hanging from his shoulders and taller by a head than his companions. As
the three stood before the King, it was like the bright noonday between
rosy morn and dusky night.

Then the King began: “My end is nigh, O sons, wherefore I charge ye,
govern the land in harmony; for union is like the lance-ring, without
which the strength of the lance is lost. Let force stand guard before
the country’s gate; but within its boundaries cherish the holy blossoms
of peace. Lift not your swords save against the foe. Let your shields be
the safeguard of the peasant’s home. A foolish prince is he who
oppresses his own people; for as their strength is, so is his own. The
leafy crown of a tree whose sapless trunk is rooted in bare rock soon
withers. Four pillars of stone support the dome of heaven; the throne
rests only upon one, the law. Woe to the land where violence reigns; for
thereby shall both ruler and people perish.

“The gods, O Helge, do indeed dwell in temples, but not in them alone.
So far as voice can reach, so far as the sun’s golden beams can
penetrate, or the thoughts of man can fly, so wide are the halls of
their boundless sanctuaries. The blood of sacrificial victims oft
deceives; runes, howsoever deeply graven, sometimes prove false; but
upon a just and upright heart, O Helge, Odin hath inscribed runes which
god and man may trust. As flowers adorn the brazen shield, so doth
gentleness become strength. It is not Winter, but balmy Spring, that
opens the bud of life. Make to yourself true friends! A friendless
chief, be he ever so mighty, is like a tree whose bark has been stripped
away by storms; but he who is blessed with true friendship is like the
forest giant, shielded from tempests by the companions that surround it.
Boast not of thy ancestors’ deeds and honors. What avails the heritage
of a mighty bow which thou hast neither the strength nor the skill to
bend? The fame of thy sires rests with them in the grave: in its own
waves the rushing stream flows onward to the sea!” Then turning to his
second son the King continued: “Thou too, O Halfdan, hear my words and
treasure them in thy heart. A pleasant wit is the adornment of the wise;
but idle chatter befits none, least of all a prince’s son. Honey is
sweet; but without hops no mead can be brewed. Put steel into thy sword,
Halfdan, and earnestness into thy play! Never yet lived there man who
knew too much, however famed for wisdom; but countless is the number of
those who know too little. Disregarded at the feast sits the fool who
holds the seat of honor by right of birth alone; ’tis to the wise man
the guests lend ear, however lowly be his seat. Choose not every man to
be thy blood-brother: an empty house stands open to all who pass; the
rich man’s door is barred. Entrust thy confidence to but one; what is
known to three is known to all the world.”

The old King ceased, and Thorsten arose. “To permit thee, King Bele, to
wander alone through Odin’s halls, befits not one who hath ever been thy
comrade upon earth. Together we have shared life’s changes, and in death
methinks we shall not be parted.”

Then to Frithiof his son, he said: “The years have whispered many a
counsel in my ear for thee, my son. As Odin’s birds hover about the
burial mound, so do the teachings of experience linger on the lips of
age. This above all else lay thou to heart: honor the gods. From them
alone spring all blessing and prosperity, even as it is they who send
the storm-wind and the life-giving sun-rays. They gaze into the heart’s
most secret depths, whither no man’s eye can penetrate. Avoid evil: long
years must oft do penance for one hour’s sin. Obey the King: one must be
lord over all if the land would prosper; the night hath many lights; the
day but one; willingly should the better man do homage to the best.

“One handle only hath the sword; he who grasps it elsewhere wounds his
hand. Strength is a gift of the gods; but without judgment, force is of
small avail. The bear has the strength of twelve men, yet he is slain by
one. Against the sword-thrust hold the shield; against violence, the
law. Guard thy heart from pride; few are moved to fear thereby, but all
to hate. The more arrogant thou growest, the nearer is thy fall. Many
have I seen soar high, who now must go on crutches. Praise not the day
before its end, the mead before ’tis drunk, nor the counsel before ’tis
proved. Youth is prone to trust the lightest word; but battle tests the
value of a blade, and friendship is tried by need.

“Trust neither the ice of a night nor the snows of Spring. It is true of
all men that strength of body and mind must pass away, but the fame of
an upright man lives on forever. Therefore, O my son, resolve only what
is noble, do only what is right.”

So spake the aged heroes, whose sage warnings are still passed from
mouth to mouth in the Northland. They further charged their sons to
perpetuate the friendship that had bound them together, through life, in
weal and woe.

“Ever back to back we stood when danger threatened,” said King Bele,
“and if it came still closer, then with one shield we met it. Hold fast
together as one man, ye three, and never shall the Northland see your
overmatch; for strength bound to kingly rank and power is like the steel
rim that encircles the shield of gold. Fail not to greet for me my fair
rose Ingeborg, who in peace and quiet hath bloomed as becomes a royal
maiden. Shield her well with brotherly love and loyalty, that no rude
tempest bear away my tender flower. Be thou a father to her, Helge;
guard her as your own child, yet forget not that harsh constraint will
oft revolt a noble heart, which by gentleness may easily be guided in
the path of virtue and of custom. Let our weary bodies be laid to rest
beneath two grave-mounds, on either side of the stream, that its rushing
waters may chant for us eternal praises of the heroes. Oft at the
midnight hour, when the pale moon sheds her silvery splendors and the
cooling dews descend upon our mounds, shall thou and I, my Thorsten,
discourse of olden days across the flood, and our voices will mingle
with the murmuring of the waves. And now, dear sons, farewell! farewell!
Leave us in peace, that far from the court we may prepare ourselves to
enter into the glories of Valhalla.”

                               Chapter IV
                         Frithiof’s Inheritance

The two aged heroes died as they had hoped, within a short time of each
other, and were buried as King Bele had bidden, the two princes being
declared joint heirs to the throne by decree of the people; while
Frithiof took possession of his heritage, Framnäs. His lands were on the
coast, and extended for three miles in each direction. Forests of birch
crowned the mountain tops, whose slopes were covered with golden barley
and waving rye, growing to the height of a man. Lakes teeming with fish
mirrored the wooded heights. Through the forests, threaded with rushing
streams, roamed noble stags, proud and stately as kings. On the rich
meadows herds of cattle with sleek glossy hides cropped the green sward;
while here and there roved flocks of sheep, like fleecy cloudlets slowly
drifting across the blue vault of heaven. Ranged in two rows, twelve
pairs of fiery coursers pawed impatiently in their stalls; shod with
shining steel were their hoofs, their manes knotted with red.

The great drinking-hall was so spacious that six hundred guests would
scarcely fill it. Round the wall extended a table of polished oak, and
on either side of the high-seat images of the gods were skilfully carved
from elm wood, one representing the All-Father Odin, the other Frey, who
rules over the rain and sunshine. Over the high-seat where Thorsten had
sat for so many years a glossy black bearskin, with scarlet jaws and the
claws tipped with silver, was thrown. Midway of the hall was the great
hearth of smoothly polished stone, whence the dancing flames shot
ceaselessly upward; and suspended around the walls, helm and shield and
sword glittered in the reflection of the blaze. Rich indeed was the
dwelling: abundance everywhere met the eye,—crowded presses, well-filled
cellars and store-rooms; while many a jewel, spoil of many a conquest,
lay hidden in close-locked chests.

But the three most precious possessions of the house were famed
throughout the land. Of these the first was a sword, called Angurvadel,
or Brother of Lightning. Forged by dwarfs in some far Eastern land,
Frithiof’s ancestors had wrought with it many heroic deeds. The hilt was
of hammered gold, and the blade was covered with strange runes, the
meaning of which was unknown save to those who forged it in the distant
Orient. When Frithiof drew it from the sheath, it flashed like the
lightning or the streaming Northern Lights. Moreover, a magic power
belonged to this wondrous heirloom: so long as peace ruled the land the
runes on the blade gleamed dull and pale, but when war prevailed they
burned red as the comb of a fighting cock.

Next to this sword in renown was an arm-ring of pure gold, the work of
halting Vaunlund, the Vulcan of the North. Graved on it were the names
of the holy gods and their castles, with the signs of the changing
seasons, while crowning the circlet, as the sun crowns the heavens, was
a splendid ruby. This ring had long been an heirloom of the house and
had once been stolen by the robber Sote, who roved the seas pillaging
and destroying. News came at last to Thorsten that Sote had caused
himself to be buried with all his treasures in a walled-up mound on the
shores of Britain; yet there his spirit found no rest, but haunted the
place as a spectre. Forthwith Thorsten resolved to seek this ghostly
visitant, and with Bele, who offered to accompany him, took ship and
sailed away to the shore of Britain, where they soon found Sote’s place
of burial. Like a sunken palace was the grave-mound, over which lay
piled up vast heaps of earth and ruined stonework. Thorsten and Bele
peered through a chink of the doorway into the vaulted depths. There
stood the black viking ship, and high up on the mast squatted a grisly
shape wrapped in a blue flaming mantle, its staring eyeballs rolling,
while it vainly endeavored to scour the blood stains from a rusty sword.
All about lay heaps of gold, and on the arm of the phantom gleamed
Thorsten’s precious heirloom, the stolen arm-ring.

Bele whispered to Thorsten, “Let us go down together and fight with this
fiery spectre!”

But half angrily Thorsten answered, “Nay, one against one was the custom
of our fathers; alone will I strive with it.”

Long they contended as to which should first encounter that ghastly foe,
but the lot fell to Thorsten. One blow of his spear burst in the door,
and he descended into the vault, while, shield before him and sword in
hand, King Bele listened without. Wild chantings he heard at first, like
some magic spell, then loud clashing sounds, as of swords crossed in
conflict. Then came a horrible scream, followed by instant silence, and
out staggered Thorsten, pale and distraught; but on his arm he bore the
ring. Never in after days would he relate what had passed in those awful
depths, and when questioned would turn away shuddering. But he was often
wont to say, “Truly, ’twas dearly bought, this arm-ring. But once in my
life have I trembled, and that was when I took it!”

Last of the three family treasures was the good ship “Ellida.”
Frithiof’s ancestor, Wiking, so it was said, returning once from a
foray, discovered on his own shores a shipwrecked man. Tall he looked
and nobly formed, with an open countenance, whose expression was
constantly changing like the glancing of waves in the sunlight.
Sea-green floated his hair, white as wave-foam his beard. A blue mantle
enveloped his form, and the golden belt he wore was set with corals.
Steering directly to the spot, Wiking rescued the unfortunate, took him
to his home, and feasted him right nobly. But when at night the stranger
was offered a bed he shook his head, smiling:

“Fair is the wind and my ship a good one,” he said, “and many a mile I
hope to leave behind me ere the break of day. Naught but thanks have I
to offer thee in return for thy hospitality, for my wealth lies deep
beneath the ocean wave. Yet in the morning it may be thou wilt find some
gift from me upon the shore.”

At daybreak Wiking hastened to the shore, and lo! with the swiftness of
the sea-eagle darting upon its prey there came flying into the haven one
of the warships commonly known as dragons. Not a soul was to be seen on
board, neither steersman nor rowers; yet unerringly the rudder guided
its winding course amid rocks and shoals. As it neared the land, the
sails furled themselves, the anchor fell, and the slender vessel rested
quietly upon the sandy beach. As Wiking stood gazing in astonishment at
all this, voices sounded from the dancing waves. They chanted:

  The man thou didst rescue and shelter
  Was Ægir, the lord of the sea;
  He forgets not his debt. See—yon dragon
  He sendeth as token to thee.

Royal, indeed, was the gift of the sea-god. The solid beams of the ship
were not joined in the usual way, but grown together. Long and
dragon-shaped it lay upon the water, the head reared high, wide jaws
gleaming red with gold, the body speckled with blue and gold, and ending
at the rudder in a coiling tail covered with silver scales. Black were
the sails, with edgings of gold, and when each was full stretched, the
ship flew like the storm wind, swifter than the sea-eagle.

With all these treasures and more besides, Frithiof, next to the two
kings, was the richest man in all the land. Kingly of nature was he, if
not by birth, and gentle and noble in word and deed. Twelve mighty
champions had he ever beside him, tried comrades of his dead father.
Among these graybeards, like a rose set in a wreath of withered leaves,
was a youth called Björn, joyous as a child, yet with the strength of
manhood and the wisdom of age. Frithiof had grown up with him, and
together they had sworn blood-brotherhood.

Sorrowfully amid these heroes sat Frithiof in the high-seat draining the
mead horn at his father’s grave-feast, after the custom of his
ancestors, while with a heavy heart he listened to the thundering
hero-songs sounded in praise of the departed.

                               Chapter V
                           Frithiof’s Wooing

Each day the great hall echoed to the sound of harpstrings and rang with
praises of the great deeds of his sires, but naught could rouse Frithiof
from his melancholy. Once more the Spring awoke with smiles; the blue
sea was flecked with swelling sails of ships, and still his gloom
remained unbroken. His thoughts ever dwelt on the happy days at
Hilding’s abode, when the King’s child was his beloved companion.

At last Björn went to him and said: “Why does Frithiof sit like a
wounded eagle in its eyrie? What is amiss with thee, my friend? Surely
thou hast no lack of lands or goods; song and harp sound for thee by
night and day; the mead horn passes from hand to hand. But vainly thy
good steed stamps in his stall; vainly the hooded falcon screams for
prey. See how ‘Ellida’ strains at her cable and spreads her wings,
impatient to be free!”

Then Frithiof clasped his friend’s hand and, shaking off his sorrow,
embarked with his comrades in the dragon, which was soon speeding onward
through the foaming waves.

Helge and Halfdan were sitting on their father’s grave-mound near the
sea, holding judgment for the people, when “Ellida” approached. Frithiof
landed with his men and, entering the circle of warriors, thus addressed
the two kings:

“I stand here before ye, O Kings! as suitor for the hand of Ingeborg.
Surely your dead father would have smiled upon our union, since ’twas by
his wish that we grew up together under Hilding’s guidance, like two
saplings with branches intertwined, whose tops Frigga winds about with
silver thread. Of no royal race am I, ’tis true, but the fame of my
sires is ofttimes sung in royal halls, as well ye know. Easily might I
win for myself a kingdom and wear the golden circlet on my brow; but
’tis my choice rather to dwell in the land of my birth, my sword ever
ready to defend the throne or the hut of the poor. On King Bele’s mound
we stand; in the depths below he heareth and speaketh for me—‘Join ye
the hands of Frithiof and Ingeborg!’”

Frowning darkly, Helge rose and scornfully replied: “Not for a peasant’s
son is our sister destined; none but a prince may hope to win her. Thou
art called the mightiest hero in all the Northland; let that content thy
pride, and aspire not to the hand of a maiden whose forefathers sprung
from Odin himself. My kingdom needs not thy service; that shall be our
own care. But if thou wouldst have a place at court among my hired
warriors, that I will not deny thee.”

Frithiof laughed grimly. “I be thy vassal? Nay—I am a man for myself,
even as was my father. Out, Angurvadel, from thy sheath!”

Bright flashed the blade in the sunlight, the runes glowing fiery red.
“Now, Angurvadel, let us see if any shall deny that thou at least art
high-born and noble! As for thee, King Helge, stood we not upon this
sacred mound, I would smite thee to the dust! Take heed, hereafter, that
thou come not too near my blade!”

With one blow Frithiof clove in twain Helge’s golden shield, that hung
upon an oak tree, and the two halves fell with a crash that awakened
hollow echoes from the vault below.

“Well struck, my sword!” cried Frithiof; “hide now thy gleam and dream
thou of exploits more noble!”

                  [Illustration: _FRITHIOF’S wooing_]

Terror seized Helge and his followers, and all looked on silently while
Frithiof returned to his ship and was borne swiftly away over the water
out to the deep blue sea.

                               Chapter VI
                               King Ring

There reigned at this time in the far North a King named Ring, no longer
young, but gentle and kindly as Balder himself, and sage as Mimir, who
guards the fount of Wisdom. His realm was peaceful as a grove of the
gods. The greenwood never echoed to the clash of arms, nor were the
cornfields trampled by the hoofs of battle steeds. Justice held sway
upon the Seat of Judgment about which the people gathered to hold their
Ting, or general assembly, where each man had a voice in the affairs of
the kingdom. Thither came many a white-sailed vessel, bringing treasures
from a hundred coasts, in exchange for the country’s rich abundance.
Wisely and well had King Ring guided the destinies of his people for
more than thirty years, and prayers for his welfare ascended daily to
Odin’s throne.

One day the King sat with his warriors in the royal hall. Long was the
feast, and many a horn of foaming mead was drained; but at last he
pushed back his gold chair from the board, while all the chiefs arose to
do honor to the words of their lord. Sighing deeply, he began:

“My noble Queen was taken, as ye know, from out these mists of earth,
and now in Frigga’s heavenly bower sits enthroned in purple robes.
Naught remains to me but the flower-decked grave-mound where she lies.
She was the treasure of my life. But my babes suffer for a mother’s
care; the country lacks a queen. King Bele, who was often wont to be our
honored guest, now also shares Valhalla’s joys; but he hath left a
daughter, as fair, they say, as the lily and the rose in one, and her I
choose to be my spouse. ’Tis true that she is young and like the Spring,
while Winter’s frost has touched my locks with gray; but if it so be
that she can trust an upright heart and nourish affection for helpless
childhood in her breast, then will Autumn offer to the Spring its
throne. Take gold from the vault-rooms, therefore, and gems and costly
apparel from the chests, and go ye to Ingeborg’s brothers with my suit.
Also let minstrels accompany you, that they may assist your wooing with
song and harpstring.”

A band of chosen warriors set out without delay and, reaching the Court
of King Bele’s sons, made known their errand. Three days they waited for
an answer, while Helge, instead of taking wise counsel on the matter,
offered up horses and falcons on the sacrificial stone and searched the
entrails to discover the will of the gods. But on the fourth day, Ring’s
messengers demanded an answer; whereupon Helge, deluded by the signs he
had perceived, curtly rejected the monarch’s suit and the giddy Halfdan
added jestingly:

“’Tis pity our feastings must have an end! Had King Graybeard but come
hither with you, truly I myself would now have aided him to mount his

Suppressing their wrath, the envoys returned to their master with King
Helge’s answer; nor did they fail to relate the affront that had been
offered them by Halfdan.

“An evil hour shall it be for them, that sees King Graybeard on their
shores!” cried Ring, as he smote the great war-shield that hung upon a
linden tree in the castle courtyard. Swift throughout the land sped the
summons to war, and soon a host of warriors had assembled. The haven was
filled with dragon ships, and countless helm-plumes nodded in the

When the message of war reached King Helge, he was seized with fear, and
hastily despatched his sister Ingeborg to Balder’s temple, which was
held sacred all over the Northland. None had ever dared to violate this
sanctuary, and there he deemed her safe from King Ring and his warriors.

                              Chapter VII
                           Frithiof at Chess

Frithiof was sitting with Björn in his hall at Framnäs before a splendid
chessboard, the squares of which were alternate gold and silver, when
Hilding entered. Greeting the old man kindly, Frithiof led him to the
high-seat and bade him refresh himself with a horn of mead till he and
his adroit adversary should have finished their match. But without
waiting, Hilding began:

“I come on behalf of the two princes, Helge and Halfdan, to pray you to
make peace with them. King Ring has declared war and they fear for the

“Take heed, Björn,” cried Frithiof, “thy King is in danger! A pawn,
indeed, may save him; pawns are lightly sacrificed!”

Hilding, who well understood the double meaning of these words,

“Let not thine anger master thee, my son! Against King Ring the princes
may be weak; against thy single arm ’twere otherwise.”

Frithiof smiled.

“So thou dost threaten my castle, Björn!” he said. “But rest thee
assured it will be well guarded.”

“In Balder’s Grove,” began Hilding once more, “Ingeborg doth weep the
whole day long. Will not even her prayers move thee?”

“Ha! Björn, wouldst thou attack the Queen, dearer to me than life from
childhood’s hour? The most precious piece in all the game is she, and
her I will save, cost what it may!”

“Wilt thou give me no answer, nor yet end thy game?” asked Hilding,

Then Frithiof arose, and grasping his old master’s hand, said earnestly:
“Nay, be not angry with me, father, but hearken to my firm resolve. Say
to Bele’s sons that never will he whose honor they have tarnished be
their vassal.”

Hilding was silent for a space before he replied: “I must e’en perform
my duty; yet neither can I blame thee for thy resolution. Odin will
guide all for the best!”

Then mounting his horse, he rode thoughtfully away.

                              Chapter VIII
                       Frithiof goes to Ingeborg

When the sun had sunk low in the west, Frithiof said to Björn: “Let us
away, for this night I must speak with Ingeborg.”

“How!” cried his friend, “wouldst thou violate Balder’s Grove?”

“Surely ’twill be no violation of Balder’s sanctuary if I do but seek in
all honor and propriety to hold converse with the King’s daughter, my
play-fellow and companion from our infancy!”

Björn said no more, and “Ellida” soon brought them to the holy grove,
one side of which was bounded by the sea. By that way it was forbidden
to enter, under penalty of death, while from the land none but the
priests might grant entrance through the door in the high wall to those
wishing to visit the grove and temple. Paying no heed to this
prohibition, Frithiof boldly entered the grove from the shore and
suddenly appeared before Ingeborg, to her mingled joy and terror.

“Fear not, dear Ingeborg,” he cried, clasping her hand, “that my
presence here will profane Balder’s sanctuary. Nay, rather let us go
into the temple and implore his aid and guidance.”

In silence the lovers entered the temple, and not till the dawn began to
break did they emerge and seek the shore once more.

“Now have we plighted our troth before the gentle god,” said Frithiof,
“and our love for each other shall therefore be publicly made known.”

Thereupon the maiden besought Frithiof to forget what had passed and be
reconciled to her brother.

“Thy words accord with that which Balder hath implanted in my breast,
fair maid,” replied Frithiof, “wherefore I will appear at the Ting and
before all men offer to thy brother Helge the hand of peace. Soon shalt
thou hear thereof.”

And with these words they parted.

                               Chapter IX
                              The Parting

Oft the next day did Ingeborg turn her footsteps toward the sea, and at
last as she neared the wooded shore once more, the sails of the swiftly
approaching dragon glimmered through the branches of the trees. It
stopped, and Frithiof leaped lightly ashore.

“Welcome indeed art thou, Frithiof!” said Ingeborg; “but woe is me! I
read my fate upon thy brow.”

“Seest thou not also blood-red runes thereon, bespeaking insult, shame,
and banishment?”

“Nay, calm thyself, and tell me quickly what has passed.”

“Learn, then, my Ingeborg, the disgrace that I am forced to bear! I
sought the assembly of the people gathered at thy father’s grave-mound,
where, close circling, stood the Northland’s warriors, sword in hand and
shield to shield. Within their ranks upon the Judgment seat, sat that
pale blood-man Helge, his gloomy gaze fast fixed upon the ground, while
beside him Halfdan, like some overgrown child, toyed idly with a slender

“Then I stepped forth and spoke: ‘The clouds of war, O Helge, overhang
thy boundaries. Thy kingdom is in jeopardy; but give me thy sister, and
I’ll lend my arm, whose strength shall stand thee well in time of need.
Forgotten be our grudge, for loath am I to cherish hate against the
brother of my Ingeborg. Be just, O King! and save at once thy country
and thy sister’s heart! As proof of faith I offer thee my hand in peace;
but by the mighty Thor I swear that never again shall it be stretched to
thee in reconcilement!’

“Loud plaudits rang from all about us; the clang of a thousand shields
rose up to heaven. ‘Yea, give him Ingeborg!’ they shouted, ‘the fairest
lily in our vales! Remember, King, that Frithiof is our stoutest
swordsman. Give him thy sister!’

“Thereat our noble foster-father, Hilding, stepped from out the throng
and spoke for me. From his lips fell many a weighty speech and biting
proverb, while even Halfdan, too, did urge consent. But vain were my
words, vain the shouts of the warriors, vain the intercession of Hilding
and Halfdan! As little might the Spring sun coax a blade of grass from
out the naked rock as our united prayers awake one kindly thought in
Helge’s breast. Unchanged his lowering glance as scornfully he spoke:

“‘The peasant’s son might claim, perchance, our sister: but never shall
the defiler of a temple win her hand. Speak, Frithiof! Hast thou not
broken Balder’s peace? Hast thou not forced thy way into his holy
temple, despite the law which so forbids? Answer yea or nay!’

“‘My life’s happiness,’ I answered, ‘hangs upon a word. Yet fear not,
Helge; neither for Valhalla’s joys nor all this earth’s delights would I
forswear myself. Yea; in Balder’s temple I have seen thy sister, but in
no wise did I offend the pure and gentle god. Our prayers to him did
waken holy thoughts within our hearts and led me here to offer peace to

“More I could not speak, for a murmur of horror ran through the circle;
the warriors, paled by superstition, drew back from me as I were smitten
with the plague; thy brother’s was the victory.

“At last he spoke: ‘By the laws of our fathers, mine is the right to
sentence thee to banishment or death: but rather will I emulate in
mildness that god whose sanctuary thou hast violated. Hearken then to my
decree. Far to the westward lies a group of islands ruled by Augantyr.
King Bele long ago did lay him under tribute, and this he faithfully
remitted so long as our royal father was alive. Since Bele’s death he
has refused it. Go thou and collect this tribute, as atonement for thy

“Then he added sneeringly: ‘’Tis said this Augantyr is hard-handed and
sits brooding o’er his gold like Fafner, the famed dragon slain by
Sigurd. But who could withstand our second Sigurd’s prowess? Truly this
is far other work than seeking maids in Balder’s holy grove! Here till
the Summer comes again we’ll wait for thy return, bringing fresh glory
and—above all else—the tribute! But shouldst thou fail in this—thou
shalt be doomed as coward, branded and banished forever from thy native

“So ended his words; the assembly was dissolved, and the warriors
dispersed in silence.”

“But what is now thy purpose, Frithiof?”

“Have I a choice? This very day I depart to redeem my honor.”

“And leave me here?”

“Nay, come with me, my Ingeborg!”

“Alas! that may not be.”

“Yet hear me, beloved, ere thou dost fix thy firm resolve. Thy brother
in his wisdom forgets that Augantyr was once my father’s friend as well
as Bele’s. Perchance he’ll yield with good-will what I ask; but should
he not, this friend I carry at my side shall prove a sharp and powerful
persuader. Then will I send to King Helge the gold he so desireth and
free us both forever from the sacrificial knife of that crowned
hypocrite; then we, my Ingeborg, will seek some distant happier land,
and bid farewell to shores so hostile to our happiness. Look, my
‘Ellida’ doth already spread her eagle’s wings to bear us swiftly o’er
the waves! Come, beloved, haste thee!”

“Alas! alas! I cannot follow.”

“What hinders thee, my Ingeborg? Were thy good father but alive, and did

“Forget not, Frithiof, that Helge holds my father’s place with me. The
gods have blessed and woven these bonds, and a woman dare not break them
to steal her happiness, however near it lies.”

“Once more consider. Is this word thy last?”

“Alas! dear Frithiof, I cannot, dare not do else, if I would maintain my
honor and thy own.”

“Then fare thee well, King Helge’s sister—fare thee well!”

“O Frithiof, Frithiof, is it thus thou wouldst depart—without a glance,
without a hand-clasp for thy childhood’s friend? Methinks one who is
forced to sacrifice as much as I, doth well deserve at least a word of
comfort. The stir of life and clash of arms will ease thy grief, but
what remains for me? To whom, alas! may I impart my woe? Within my bower
I’ll sit, thinking of thee and weaving broken lilies in my web, till
Spring herself with fairer lilies shall adorn my grave.”

“Cease! cease!” cried Frithiof with deep emotion, as he clasped the
maiden’s hand. “Forgive me that my sorrow did assume the garb of anger.
Thou art right. I see it now, my better angel. ’Tis true that only noble
minds can teach us what is noble, and thy pure heart was quicker far to
see the right than mine. Alone I’ll go, and part from thee—but never
from my hope, whate’er betide! Next Spring shall Helge see me here
again, the crime with which he charges me atoned. Then in full circle of
the warriors, ’mid glittering steel will I demand thee from thy brother
as my wife. Till then farewell, and keep me ever in thy thoughts. In
memory of our childhood’s love take thou this arm-ring, a treasured
heirloom of my father’s house: all the wonders of the heavens are carved
upon it—but the world’s best wonder is a faithful heart. See! how it
gleams on thy white arm like a glow-worm upon a lily’s stem!”

Thus they parted, and “Ellida” bore the hero swiftly away, while
Ingeborg, sad and hopeless, betook her to her bower.

                               Chapter X
                           Frithiof’s Voyage

Cold blew the wind; day by day the skies darkened; deck and mast, sail
and rudder were covered thick with ice and frost. Frithiof was already
far from his native shores when suddenly black storm clouds overspread
the heavens and a fearful tempest arose. The sea was stirred to its
depths; waves mountain-high threatened to engulf the ship, which tossed
helplessly amid the boiling surges. But Frithiof exulted in the fury of
the elements; the wild scene upon which he gazed was but a reflection of
the storm that raged within his breast. Still the tempest increased;
showers of hailstones rattled down upon the deck and on the numbed hands
of the warriors at the helm. A gust of wind tore away the cordage;
planks and timbers groaned and creaked; huge billows swept the deck; and
higher and higher rose the water in the hold despite all the efforts of
the ship’s people, who now gave themselves up for lost. Even to Frithiof
it seemed death was nigh.

“It is Helge that hath sent this storm upon us,” said one, “and who may
withstand witchcraft?”

“Look!” cried another, “yonder swims a whale and bears on its back two
sea-fiends! One is wrapped in the hide of the ice-bear; the other hath
the shape of a sea-eagle, with black wings flapping. Woe unto us! ’tis
the sea trolls, Heid and Ham! We are lost!” But Frithiof, summoning his
friend Björn to take the helm, hastened to reassure the terror-stricken
crew. His words put fresh courage in their hearts, and with redoubled
strength they began once more to struggle against the fury of the storm.

“Courage, friends!” he shouted; “those who trust in the gods are safe
from the power of evil spirits.” Then, springing to the ship’s prow, he

  Now “Ellida,” show us
  Whether, as ’tis boasted,
  Hero-wood thy bosom holds!
  Listen! Art thou truly
  Ægir’s God-sprung daughter?
  Dash with thy strong keel, and
  Cleave yon spell-charmed whale!

With one bound the dragon clove the Troll-whale’s body, and down it sank
beneath the waves.

  Then, at once, the Hero hurleth
  Two sharp spears; the ice-bear’s hide
  Pierceth one—the other springeth
  Through the pitch-black eagle’s side!

Instantly the storm subsided. The sun broke through the clouds and the
waves no longer swept the deck. Soon the sea was as smooth as glass, and
there before them lay the islands ruled by Augantyr. But the weary
rowers could no longer move their arms, the warriors were forced to lean
for support upon their swords. When the ship touched land, Björn carried
four and Frithiof eight of the exhausted men ashore. Food and drink were
then brought from the ship, and all refreshed themselves with a hearty

                               Chapter XI
                   Frithiof at the Court of Augantyr

In his great hall near the sea sat Augantyr at wassail with his
champions, while outside the window Halvar kept watch. A good swordsman
and stout drinker was he, and often as his horn was empty he silently
thrust it through the lattice to be refilled. Suddenly he flung it far
into the hall and shouted: “I see a ship making to land! On it pale
warriors totter helplessly about; but so strong and fresh are two of
them that they carry the others to the shore.”

Augantyr strode to the window and gazed out toward the sea. Then he
said: “That, methinks, hath the look of ‘Ellida,’ Thorsten’s dragon
ship, and in one of yonder two stout warriors I seem to see old
Thorsten’s form and bearing. Hath he not the air of a prince of all the

When the black-bearded Atle heard this, the Berserk fury seized him. He
sprang from the board with eyes rolling and shouted—“If this be
Frithiof, now will I prove the truth of what is said, that he hath power
to render harmless every blade, and never is the first to sue for
peace.” He rushed from the hall, followed by twelve of the warriors.
Hewing and thrusting furiously at the air with their swords, they
stormed down to the shore, where Frithiof had built a fire to cheer his
men. From afar, Atle shouted:

“Easy were it now for me to slay thee; but rather shalt thou have thy
choice—to do battle with me here, or fly. But if thou wilt yield and sue
for peace, then in friendly guise I’ll lead thee to our lord.”

“Is it your custom thus to welcome toil-worn heroes cast upon your
shores?” was Frithiof’s answer. “Then listen! Spent as I am with days of
hardship and distress, yet never will I sue for peace from thee”; and
therewith he drew his sword, the runes on the blade growing red as fire.
Fast and furious fell the sword-strokes. Both shields at the same moment
dropped, riven in twain, upon the ground; yet fearlessly the champions
fought on. At last down swept Angurvadel with resistless force, and
loudly clanging Atle’s blade was shattered.

Frithiof stepped back, saying, “Swordless I will not slay thee; but if
thou wouldst not yet have peace then let us try a wrestling contest.”

Foaming with rage, Atle sprang at him and a fearful struggle began. Like
two eagles seizing on their prey, they grappled with each other. The
earth shook with the trampling of their feet. It seemed as if the
heaving of their breasts would burst the encasing mail, while in awe
their comrades stood about them waiting for the issue of the contest. At
length Thorsten’s mighty son succeeded in throwing his adversary, and,
kneeling on his breast, he cried:

“Were but my sword within my grasp, its blade e’er now had pierced thee
through, thou swarthy Berserk!”

“Go, then, and fetch it—I will lie here the while,” said Atle proudly.
“All brave men to Valhalla’s halls must wend at last—I to-day and thou

Still filled with the rage of battle, Frithiof with one bound reached
his sword and was about to despatch his prostrate foe, who moved not,
but lay calmly gazing upward, when he suddenly relented and, dropping
his sword, held out his hand to the vanquished Atle. Just then Halvar
came hurrying thither waving a white wand and crying:

                  [Illustration: _FRITHIOF’S wrestle_]

“Cease, cease your furious strife! The savory viands that await ye grow
cold in their silver dishes, and my thirst doth press me sore.”

Therewith the two heroes who but now had striven in deadly combat
together sought the court of Augantyr in peace.

The appearance of the great hall filled Frithiof with astonishment. In
place of the usual oaken planks the walls were covered with gilded
leather adorned with flowering vines. The chimney was of marble; tapers
in silver candlesticks illuminated the halls; the doors were held fast
with locks. A bountiful meal stood ready spread in heavy silver dishes,
and near the high-seat a roasted stag adorned the board, the horns
entwined with leaves, the hoofs gilded. On the high-seat of silver sat
Augantyr, clad in helm and mail of glittering steel, inlaid with gold, a
purple mantel sown with silver stars depending from his shoulders. He
arose as Frithiof entered, and advanced to meet his guest, saying:

“Full many a horn have I drained in Thorsten’s company, and glad am I to
do fitting honor to his valiant son.”

Then leading him to a place beside him on the high-seat, he called on
all his warriors to fill their horns and beakers and drink to Thorsten’s
memory, while the hall rang to the sound of harps, as minstrels praised
that hero’s glorious deeds.

Meanwhile Augantyr questioned his guest concerning matters in the
Northland; and in well-chosen words, avoiding either praise or blame,
Frithiof related all that had passed, concluding with his voyage and the
terrible sea witches against whose power they had been forced to
contend. So eloquently did he describe their adventures that Augantyr
listened with approving smiles, and the bold champions about the board
often interrupted the speaker with their shouts. Then Augantyr inquired
the purpose of his voyage, and Frithiof told him frankly of his love for
Ingeborg, of Helge’s arrogance, and the penance that had been laid upon

“For this have I come,” he concluded, “to demand of thee in behalf of
Kings Helge and Halfdan, the tribute thou wast wont to pay in Bele’s

Calmly Augantyr replied: “Never have I owned another as my lord. Free do
I live; free also are my people about these seas. What I sent Bele was
not enforced, but given in friendship. His sons I know not. If they
would have tribute from me, let them demand it with the sword—then shall
they have the best of answers! Yet thy father was my friend.”

He beckoned to his daughter, who sat near him on a golden stool, and she
hastened to the women’s chamber, soon returning with a purse whereon was
worked with rare skill a green forest scene—animals of gold wandered
beneath the trees, and above shone a silver moon. The tassels were
strung with costly pearls, the clasp enriched with rubies. Augantyr took
this purse, filled it to the brim with pieces of gold, and handed it to
his guest, saying, “Take this as a gift of welcome, son of Thorsten, and
do with it as thou wilt; but as for claim, I refuse to acknowledge any
such. Hear now my wish: tarry thou here till Spring comes, as my honored
guest. Courage and boldness stand thee well in time of danger, it is
true, yet think not thine ‘Ellida’ may withstand all the perils of the
stormy season. And remember there are demons in the sea more mighty yet
than those which thou didst vanquish.”

To this Frithiof gladly agreed, and he held out his hand to his
hospitable host, saying: “Be it, then, as thou wilt!”

                              Chapter XII
                           Frithiof’s Return

The winter passed, and again were hill and valley, grove and forest,
clothed with bloom and verdure. Then Frithiof thanked his host, and,
bidding him farewell, was soon speeding joyously away across the foaming
main. Six times the sun rose and set, and the seventh morning found him
near his journey’s end. Consumed with longing, Frithiof rose early and
mounted to the deck. There, veiled in the mists of dawn, he saw his
native shores and heard the familiar rushing of its mountain streams.
Light as a bird flew “Ellida” o’er the dancing waves and in her swelling
sails the western breezes sang like nightingales. Just as the first ray
of sunlight fell on land and sea they entered the well-known haven.

“Past the green birch woods now,” cried Frithiof to Björn, “and Framnäs
greets me!”

With beating heart and gleaming eyes he waited—but what is this? Is he
bewitched? There lies the open space where his forefathers built their
dwelling, yet naught is to be seen of it. Do his eyes deceive him? He
rubs them and looks again at the familiar spot; but neither house nor
building of any kind is there, only a tall blackened chimney stands out
dark against the sky. Looking closer, where Framnäs stood, he sees a
great pile of ruins, from which the ashes whirl aloft.

“Ellida’s” anchor is dropped, and silently Frithiof approaches the scene
of devastation. Stones and charred beams are strewn around or heaped
together in confusion; fruit trees stretch forth their shrivelled
branches; about the levelled grave-mounds lie the bones of heroes. As
Frithiof stands spellbound amid the desolation, his faithful hound Bran
comes bounding to meet him. Yelping with joy he leaps upon his master,
while out from the dale trots a milk-white courser, neighing and tossing
his gold-knotted mane. Frithiof stroked the dog’s head and patted his
favorite’s glossy neck; but the shadow on his brow remained unaltered.
Then he saw Hilding, his aged foster-father coming toward him with
mournful look.

“Welcome, father, to the ruins of Framnäs!” he cried, and then added
bitterly: “But why should this sight surprise me? ’Tis when the eagle is
flown that boys plunder his nest. So thus doth King Helge guard the hut
of the peasant; thus he keeps his royal oath! Rage at his dastardly act
more moves me than grief for what is lost. But tell me first of all,
good father, where is Ingeborg?”

“Alas! my son,” replied Hilding, “I fear my tidings will but aggravate
thy woe, yet listen to what has passed. Scarce wert thou gone when King
Ring invaded the country, his force outnumbering ours full five to one.
In the Disardale we met, and bloody was the battle. The waters of the
stream ran red with gore. Halfdan, as ever, laughed and jested; but so
bravely did he bear him, my heart was gladdened at the sight, and twice
did my shield protect him from a death-stroke. The victory might even
have been ours, had not King Helge, seized with panic, fled; whereat the
people’s courage, too, forsook them, and, flinging down their arms, they
scattered far and wide. But in his flight King Helge paused to fire thy
house. Ring then demanded of the brothers lands and crown, or that they
yield him up their sister’s hand. Messengers went often to and fro, and
in the end King Ring bore Ingeborg homeward as his Queen.”

Frithiof laughed wildly: “Who now,” he cried, “dare talk to me of
woman’s truth, since she whom I deemed true as Nanna’s self hath proven
faithless? Hereafter naught but hate for mankind shall my bosom harbor;
henceforth the seas shall have their fill of blood, for none who cross
my path shall Angurvadel spare!”

“Nay, son,” said Hilding sorrowfully, “abate thy wrath, nor seek to
revenge thy wrongs upon the innocent. Rather accuse the Norns, whose
doom on thee hath fallen. What Ingeborg doth suffer I alone can tell.
Before all others her despair was dumb as is the turtle dove that mourns
her mate. So doth the sea fowl, pierced by death’s arrow, sink beneath
the waves, in those cool depths to pour away her life. ‘Atonement’—so
she spake—‘hath been decreed by Balder for Frithiof’s violation of his
holy place; nor may I, faint-hearted, seek to shun the sacrifice. To
death he dooms me, not swift,—ah! that were easy,—but lingering—slow, to
waste away with grief. To that decree I yield. Reveal to no one what I
suffer. I desire pity from none. But be thou the bearer of my last
farewell to Frithiof.’

“At last the wedding day was come (Oh, would that evil day had never
dawned!); to Balder’s temple walked a train of white-robed maidens, led
by a bard whose mournful chant moved every heart to woe. Amid them, on a
coal-black steed rode Ingeborg, like that pale spirit which surmounts
the thunder cloud. Before the doors of the temple I lifted my lily from
her saddle and led her to the altar. With unfaltering tongue she spoke
her vows; but unto Balder then she prayed in such heart-rending tones
that every eye save hers was filled with tears. Then for the first time
Helge marked the ring she wore. With a furious glance he tore it from
her and placed thy gift upon the arm of Balder. But thereat I could no
longer suppress my rage, and, snatching my sword from out its sheath,
approached the King as he stood before the image of the god. Of as
little worth was he to me at that moment as the lowest of his people,
and verily a crime would have been committed in that sacred place had
not a whisper reached my ears from Ingeborg.

“‘Nay, stay thy hand. Stain not thy spotless blade! My brother might
indeed have spared me this; but much a heart can suffer ere it break,
and the All-Father shall one day judge between us!’”

“Ay, Ingeborg,” cried Frithiof, “thou speakest truly—the All-Father will
one day judge between us! But he also metes out justice here below by
mortal hand, and ’tis in my heart that I am hither led to be the judge
of one. Is not to-day the Midsummer feast of Balder, that Helge
celebrates within his temple? Now, crowned priest, thou who hast sold
thy sister, thou who hast robbed me of my bride, behold to-day thy

                              Chapter XIII
                       The Burning of the Temple

It was midnight. Low across the mountains burned the blood-red sun,
which in far northern Scandinavia never sets on the longest day of the
year. Neither day nor night was it—an awful twilight reigned. Within the
temple Balder’s great feast was being celebrated. High in the air shot
the flames from the sacred hearthstone, while pale, white-bearded
priests raked the brands till showers of crackling sparks flew upward.
Clad in his royal robes, Helge presided at the altar.

Suddenly the clash of arms sounded without, and a voice was heard:
“Björn, hold fast the door! Let none escape! If any strive by force to
pass thee, cleave his skull!” Helge grew deadly pale; he knew that voice
too well. Then in strode Frithiof and addressed him:

“Here is the tribute thou didst order me to bring thee from Augantyr.
Take it! And now, for life or death we’ll strive before this altar. One
of us twain must burn on Balder’s pyre. Shieldless we’ll fight and thou,
as befits a King, shalt have first stroke. But beware, I say, for I
strike second. Nay—gaze not fearfully about, nor seek escape, King Fox!
Caught in thy hole art thou at last. Remember Framnäs that thou didst
lay waste, and think of Ingeborg’s cheeks, blanched by thee!”

Beside himself with fury, Frithiof tore the heavy purse of gold from his
belt and hurled it at the head of the King, who straightway sank
swooning on the altar steps, blood gushing from his mouth and nose.

“What! canst thou not bear the weight of thine own gold?” shouted
Frithiof. “Shame! shame! thou coward King! Truly my sword is far too
noble for thee, nor shall it taste of blood so base as thine. Silence,
ye pale priests of moonlight, nor dare to lift your sacrificial knives!
Back, back, I say, for thirsty grows my blade!”

He lifted his eyes to the image of Balder. “Thou shining god, frown not
so darkly on me!” Then, perceiving the arm-ring he had given to
Ingeborg, his anger blazed up fiercer than before.

“Nay—by thy leave,” he cried; “that ring came not in lawful fashion on
thy arm! Not for thee did Vaunlund forge its wonders; and he who is its
master claims his own.”

He pulled at the ring, but it seemed grown fast to Balder’s arm. Putting
forth all his strength, at last he tore it loose; but therewith down
crashed the image of the god into the fire below. Higher and higher
leaped the flames, till beam and rafter kindled. Horror-stricken,
Frithiof stood for a moment motionless; then turning to the door, he

“Open, Björn! Let all depart! The feast is over. The temple blazes;
bring water! Hasten, all, to quench the flames!”

Quickly a chain of men to the sea is formed. From hand to hand the
buckets fly, while high up among the rafters stands Frithiof, calm amid
the mounting flames, and directs his comrades. But vain are all their
efforts. The golden plates of the roof melt and drop down into the fiery

“All is lost!” shout the people. “See the red fire-cock, how he stands
upon the roof-tree and ever wider spreads his glowing wings!”

A strong wind arose and whirled the flaming brands into the treetops,
dry from the summer heats. Raging from branch to branch it leaped, and
soon the whole grove was one sea of fire. When morning broke, Balder’s
Grove and Temple lay in ashes, while Frithiof sat within his dragon ship
and wept.

                              Chapter XIV
                           Frithiof in Exile

As “Ellida” passed the strand, Frithiof gazed from the deck with gloomy
brow upon the scene of conflagration, from which the thick smoke still
ascended, and anguish filled his breast.

“Woe, woe is me!” he cried to himself; “in accusation rises yonder smoke
to Odin’s halls! Banished was I by Helge but for a brief space; now must
I forever leave my native land. Be thou, O sea, from hence my country.
On thy blue billows will I make my home. Framnäs no longer is my
dwelling; thou, swift ‘Ellida,’ shalt be now my house. My bride, too,
art thou in thy black garb, since she in lily robes is lost to me
forever. Free dost thou roll, O mighty ocean! No tyrant’s will can ever
do thee wrong; the only King thou callest master is he who looks upon
thee calmly when thy white breast heaves in wildest fury, and thunder
peals are swallowed in thy voice. No grave-mound e’er shall rise above
me; thy tossing waves shall cover deep my bones.”

Here Björn approached and touched his shoulder, saying, “Look! yonder
King Helge makes his way amid the rocks. Methinks he hath yet a word to
speak with thee.” Ten dragon ships were seen approaching. Frithiof
sprang to his feet and bade his men prepare for battle. Joyously they

“King Helge wearies of the crown. His soul thirsts for Valhalla’s
delights. Now shall he fall; bold Frithiof leads us unto victory.”

On came the ships in a half-circle, surrounding “Ellida.” Helge had
given orders to slay Frithiof and all his men, but to capture the ship
as their prize. Suddenly a strange sight met the eyes of Frithiof and
his warriors and filled them with amazement: nine of the ships sank
slowly down beneath the waves, while Helge himself escaped with
difficulty to the shore. Björn laughed.

“’Twas I that scuttled the ships last night, unseen. A good trick it
was, and all befell as I had hoped, save that King Helge has escaped!”

Now all the sails were spread and the ship sped swiftly out to sea.
Backward gazing, Frithiof watched the fast receding shore and chanted a
song that moved all hearts to sadness:

  Farewell! mounds dreaming
    By wavelets blue,
  Where west winds streaming
    White blossoms strew!
  Odin revealeth
    And doometh well
  What man concealeth;—
    Farewell! Farewell!

  Farewell, ye bowers,
    Ye limpid streams,
  Where ’mid spring flowers,
    Youth wandered in dreams.
  Ye friends of childhood
    Who loved me well,—
  Till death remembered,—
    Farewell! Farewell!

  My love insulted,
    My dwelling brent,
  My honor tarnished,
    In exile sent,—
  Heart bideth in sadness
    Norns’ fatal spell.
  To Life’s young gladness
    Farewell! Farewell!

                               Chapter XV
                         Frithiof’s Viking Life

Thus Frithiof became a viking, the sea his only home; and these are the
laws he made for his followers:

  “Pitch no tent on thy ship; seek no slumber below. On his shield
  sleeps the viking, his sword in his hand. His tent is the blue dome of

  “Short be thy sword, like the hammer of Thor; strike close to the foe.

  “When the storm roars on high, spread wider the sails: The sea in its
  wrath fills the viking with joy; a coward is he who would furl.

  “Wine is drink of the gods. Enjoy thou the gift, but drown not thy
  senses—beware! He who falls on the land rises quickly again; who
  staggers here is the death-goddess’ prey!

  “Protect the merchant ship on the high seas so due tribute it doth not
  refuse. Thou art lord of the waves; he’s a slave to his pelf. Thy
  steel is as good as his gold. By lot shall the booty be shared among
  all; complain not however it falls. The Sea King himself throws no
  dice on the deck; he seeks only glory from his foes.

  “Heaves a viking in sight, then come boarding and strife; from us he
  is banished who yields. Mercy fits him who conquers; he who lays down
  his arms at thy feet is no longer thy foe.

  “Prayer is Valhalla’s child, and a scoundrel is he who, ruthless,
  refuses to hear it.

  “The viking’s rewards are his wounds; before all, on the brow and the
  breast are they glorious. He who seeketh ere issue of battle to bind
  them no longer is comrade of viking.”

Thus ran the code of Frithiof, and no laws of Odin were more strictly
obeyed. Many a battle did these heroes fight and win, for there was not
their like on all the seas; and soon their fame spread far and wide. But
naught of this had power to gladden Frithiof’s heart; he would sit, helm
in hand, for hours with clouded brow, gazing out over the rolling
waters. Only in battle did the shadow vanish, as with flashing eyes and
fiercely swelling breast he led his men to victory.

For three years they sailed the seas northward and westward; then
turning south, his dragon anchored one day off the coast of Greek-land
(Greece). With wonder Frithiof gazed upon that beauteous land, with its
noble ruined temples rising amid fragrant groves. The tales his father
had been wont to tell of those fair isles still lingered in his memory
like some lovely vision—a dream that now was realized. Hither had he
once thought to flee with Ingeborg from the haughty Helge, here with her
to found an abode of bliss, but the noble maiden had denied his prayers
and shrunk from such a breach of duty and of custom. Amid these fair
scenes memories of his native land awoke afresh within him, and he
longed to see it once again. But most of all he yearned for a sight of
Ingeborg and to visit his father’s grave-mound.

“Why do I linger here in strange seas and stain my hands with blood?” he
asked himself. “Enough of glory have I won, and I care not for gold.
North points the flag on the masthead. To the Northland the home of my
youth! Up, ‘Ellida’! no longer we’ll tarry, but follow that token from

                              Chapter XVI
                  Frithiof comes to King Ring’s Court

On his high-seat sat King Ring, celebrating the great Yule tide feast
that fell on the winter solstice, and beside him Ingeborg, his wife,
like chilly Autumn with the youthful Spring. The mead-horn went round,
and joyous shouts and laughter filled the hall. Suddenly through the
doorway entered an old man, tall of stature and wrapped from head to
foot in a great bearskin. In his hand he bore a staff and walked as if
bowed with age. None knew him, and he quietly took his place on the
bench near the door, reserved for the poor. The courtiers smiled to one
another and pointed jeeringly at the shaggy figure, while one playfully
approached with intent to make sport of him for the amusement of the
others. With flashing eyes the stranger seized the rash youth, whirled
him about in the air, and set him again on his feet unharmed; whereat
the courtiers’ smiles deserted them, and they fell straightway silent.

“What noise is that down yonder?” cried Ring sternly.

“Come hither, old man, who thus disturbest our kingly peace! Who art
thou? What brings thee here? Whence comest thou?”

“Much dost thou ask, O King,” replied the stranger, “yet all will I tell
thee save my name,—that concerneth none but me. In Penitence was I
reared; Want was my inheritance; my latest bed a Wolf’s lair. Astride my
dragon, with its mighty wings, I flew swiftly hither from afar; now my
good ship lies frozen in upon thy shores. I came to hear thy words of
wisdom, famed through all the land. When thy people just now sought to
mock me, I seized a vain fool and swung him round about—but I did him no
harm. Forgive me, King!”

“Truly,” the monarch cried,—“thou speakest well, and wisdom’s teachings
bid us honor age. Come, sit at the board. But first, I pray thee, doff
thy strange disguisement and show thyself in thy true form, for
deception is ever wont to be the foe of gladness.”

At this the stranger let fall his hairy covering, and there, in place of
an old man, appeared a youth of noble stature, his loft brow shaded with
bright flowing locks. A blue mantle hung from his mighty shoulders, and
his tunic was held in place by a wide silver belt, on which, with
cunning skill, beasts of the forest were embossed. Heavy gold armlets
encircled his arm; at his left side hung a sword that gleamed like
lightning. Fair as Balder, like to the mighty Thor in strength of limb,
he stood before the King and his astonished court. For a moment his keen
glance wandered about the hall, then he seated himself calmly at the
board. The blood rushed to the cheeks of the Queen till she glowed as
crimson as the ice-fields lit by flaring Northern lights.

But now the trumpets sounded the signal for silence. It was the hour of
the vow, and the crowned boar was borne into the hall on a silver
charger and placed upon the board. Touching the head of the boar, Ring

“Hearken, ye warriors, to my vow! I swear to conquer Frithiof, howsoever
stout a champion he be; so help me Odin, Thor, and Frey!”

The stranger rose with a frown and dashed his sword upon the board with
such a clang that all the warriors sprang from their seats.

“Hear thou me likewise, good Sir King,” he cried: “That Frithiof whom
thou namest is my friend and kinsman: and him I swear to guard with life
and limb, so help me Norns and my good sword!”

The King smiled. “Thou speakest boldly,” he answered, “but words are
free in Northland’s royal halls. Fill for him, Queen, yon horn with
draught of welcome. I hope he’ll tarry with us as our guest till Spring

This horn was a precious heirloom of the house, broken from the forehead
of the urus. Its feet were of silver wonderfully wrought, while the
golden rings about it were carven with strange runes. With downcast eyes
Ingeborg handed it to the guest, but she trembled so that the wine was
spilled, and red drops gleamed on her white hand like evening’s purple
blushes on a lily.

Unmoved, the hero took the mighty horn, lifted it to his lips and at one
draught drained it to the honor of his host. Then at a sign from the
King, the scald smote on his harpstrings and chanted many a
heart-stirring song and legend. In lofty words he sang of love and
friendship, of freedom and the country’s glory, of the high gods and
Valhalla’s wonders, till fire shot forth from every eye, and
involuntarily each warrior grasped the handle of his sword.

Deeply they drank throughout the night, and many a champion, like a
tower of strength in battle, was vanquished by the sweetly foaming mead.

                              Chapter XVII
                          The Sledge Excursion

“Ho for a sledge ride over the frozen lake!” cried Ring one day; and the
servitors hastened to loose one of the pawing steeds from the royal
stables and harness it before a splendid sledge, over the seat of which
was thrown a silky sealskin.

“’Tis not safe on the lake,” said the stranger. “The ice is thin and
weak in some parts, and should it give way, full cold and deep would be
thy bath!”

“Nay, not so easily do monarchs drown,” replied the King; “let him who
fears it, go around the shore!”

The stranger said no more, but frowning darkly, hastened to fasten on
his steel skates, while the impatient courser pawed the air and whinnied

“Speed on, my steed,” cried Ring, “and let us see if thou art sprung
from Sleipner’s blood!”

Away dashed the sledge with the speed of the whirlwind, the
stout-hearted old king exulting in the motion and heeding not the
entreaties of his wife; but swift as they flew, the stranger still
outstripped them, circling about in wide curves or cutting figures on
the ice. Meanwhile, false Ran, the spouse of the Sea-god, has marked
what is passing above. She cleaves a broad fissure in the sea’s silvery
roof, and into the up-foaming waves plunge horse and sledge. But swift
as the wind flies the stranger thither. Fixing his steel shoes firmly in
the ice, he seizes the horse by the mane and with a mighty jerk, pulls
it and sledge together back on to the ice.

“In sooth,” said the King, “that deed doth merit praise; e’en Frithiof
himself could do no better. And now, my Fleet-of-foot, let us back to
the palace again.”

                             Chapter XVIII
                         Frithiof’s Temptation

Spring is come once more; birds warble in the treetops; freed from their
icy bonds, the streams leap gaily downward to the vales below; the roses
part their delicate sheaths and blossom red as Frigga’s cheeks. King
Ring will now go hunting, and forthwith a joyous stir pervades the
court. Bows twang, quivers rattle, fiery coursers paw the ground, the
hooded falcon screams for its victim, and scarce can the huntsmen keep
in leash the eager hounds. Fair as Frigga, dazzling as the battle-maiden
Rota, sits the Queen upon her milk-white steed like a star on a summer
cloud. Her hunting dress is of green, embroidered with gold, and blue
plumes wave from her velvet cap.

Led by the royal pair, the gay train wends its way into the forest, and
soon the sport begins. Loud bay the hounds; up mount the hawks into the
clear sky; horns sound; the frightened game seeks lair and covert; and
the eager huntsmen scatter in pursuit.

King Ring has fallen behind; old and feeble, he can no longer follow the
lengthening chase, while beside him silent and thoughtful, rides his
guest. At last they reached a rocky glen shut in by thick-clustering
trees and thickets, and here the King dismounted from his courser,

“Full weary am I, stranger; here will I rest me in this pleasant spot.”

“Nay, sleep not on the cold hard ground,” replied the other; “I had
better lead thee back to thy own halls.”

“Sweet slumber comes when least expected; ’tis the way of the gods,”
said Ring. “Surely thou dost not grudge thy host an hour of rest!”

Without further words, the stranger spread his cloak upon the ground and
seated himself on a fallen tree-trunk, while Ring, stretching himself
out upon the mantle, laid his head against the other’s knees. His eyes
closed and soon he slept, sweetly as an infant cradled in its mother’s
arms. As the stranger gazed gloomily down on the face of the King, he
heard a rustling in the branches above him to the left, and lifting his
eyes he saw a coal-black bird, which began to sing:

  Haste thee, Frithiof, slay the dotard, with one sword-stroke grant him
  Take the Queen; she’s thine; her sacred kiss of plighted troth she
  Here no human eye can see thee—silent is the deep, dark grave!

Scarce had the sound ceased when from a bough on the right, a snow-white
bird began:

  Though no human eye should see thee, Odin would the death-stroke view.
  Wouldst thou murder him in slumber? Cowardly thy bright sword stain?
  Know, whate’er besides thou winnest, hero-fame thou ne’er shalt gain!

Thus sang the two birds, while contending thoughts struggled within the
listener. Suddenly he seized his sword by the handle and flung it far
from him into the shadow of the forest. Whereupon the black bird, with
heavy flapping of its wings, flew back to the dark halls of Night, the
abode of perjurers and assassins; while, blithely warbling, upward the
white bird took its flight and vanished at last in the blue of heaven.
At that moment the King awoke and rising to his feet, said:

“Sweet indeed hath been my slumber. Well they rest whom valor’s sword
doth guard. But where is thy war blade, stranger? Methought the Brother
of Lightning never left thy side. Say, who hath parted you?”

“Little boots it,” answered the other; “swords are plenty in the
Northland. The sword is not always a good companion. Its tongue is sharp
and it speaketh few words of peace. In steel there dwells an evil
spirit, sprung from Loke’s dark abode, to whom not even sleep is sacred,
nor the silver locks of age.”

“Hearken, youth!” began the King. “I slept not. ’Twas but to try thee I
did feign to slumber—a fool is he who trusts a man or a blade untried.
Thou art Frithiof! I knew thee even when thou didst cross my threshold.
But wherefore didst thou creep nameless and in such disguise into my
palace? Wherefore, if not to rob me of my wife? Honor comes not nameless
to the banquet, Frithiof! Ever open-faced she meets men’s glances, clear
as sunlight is her shield. The fame of Frithiof’s deeds has reached
us,—a terror both of gods and men; careless alike of cloven shield or
burning temple; the mightiest warrior known in all the land. And this
bold hero, this fierce viking, creeps, a beggar, to our hall! Nay, cast
not down thy eyes before me. I, too, have once been young and felt as
thou. Youth, well I know, hath fiery passions. Much have I thought on
thee, O Frithiof. I have pitied and have pardoned thee. Hearken now! I
am growing old and feeble, and soon for me the grave shall open. Then
take unto thyself my kingdom and my wife. Until that time, be thou a son
to me and guard my house as thou hast done before. And now, my son, let
there be no more feud between us!”

“Not as a thief did I enter thy halls, O King,” replied Frithiof
proudly. “Had I come to seize thy Queen, who could have withstood me?
’Twas but to behold once again her who before the altar gave me her
betrothal kiss. But ah, what slumbering fires my rashness hath awakened!
Too long already have I tarried. Upon my head the gods have poured their
wrath. Even the gentle Balder, lover of all mankind, spurns my prayers.
’Twas I who burned his temple. ‘Wolf in the Sanctuary,’ am I called. All
joy ceases when my name is spoken. The child clings trembling to its
father’s knees. Once more will I seek the broad, free ocean, whither
earth and man have banished me. Out, out, my dragon! Too long in
idleness thou hast lain. Again to the storm wind shalt thou spread thy
pinions, and bathe thy black breast in the dashing spray! All—all on
earth is lost to me forever; the tempest’s roar, the clash of arms shall
whisper comfort to my soul once more! So will I live, so will I fighting
fall; and mounting then to Odin’s throne, the gods, appeased, shall
speak my pardon.”

                              Chapter XIX
                           Death of King Ring

Pale on his throne sat the aged monarch, for he felt his end
approaching. Ingeborg, trembling, stood beside him, and a circle of
silent warriors stood about the royal pair. Sorrowfully Frithiof entered
to say farewell.

“This day for the last time do ye behold me,” he said; “for the last
time my foot doth tread the soil of earth. Henceforth, till the Norns
shall send their summons the ocean’s boundless wastes shall be my home.
Take back the ring round which such memories cluster, Ingeborg; let it
be a parting token from me. And thou, O King, go not with thy Queen by
moonlight to the strand, nor when the pale stars shine, for at your feet
the waves might chance to toss my bleaching bones.”

“Nay, Frithiof,” replied the King, “such mournful plaints become not
men; in maids they may be pardoned. For me the death song soundeth, not
for thee. ’Tis I must hence, not thou! Take thou my realm and guard it
well. Take Ingeborg as thy wife, and be a father to my infant son. Ever
through life hath peace been dearest to me; well have I loved to sit
with friends about the board; yet with a strong hand have I guarded
throne and honor, and cloven many a shield on sea and land; nor ever
hath man seen my cheek turn pale. Victory hath been mine, and glory. One
boon only have the gods denied me—to mount to Valhalla from the
battle-field. Death by the sword is the death of heroes; to linger
on,—the straw death,—never such will Ring live to endure!” And therewith
he plunged his sword into his breast. As the life-blood gushed forth he
had his horn brought to him, and raising it aloft, with glowing face he

“To thy glory I drain this, my country, thou Northland! Ye gods of
Valhalla, all hail, all hail!”

                  [Illustration: _KING RING’S Death_]

Silence reigned within the hall; none gave way to grief lest the dying
man’s last moments should be saddened. Sinking back on his cushions, the
King clasped Ingeborg’s hand for the last time—greeted his friend and
son with a parting glance, and sighing, his soul ascended to the
All-Father. Great was the mourning for him throughout the kingdom; amid
universal lamentations the good King’s mound was heaped above him, while
scalds with sounding dirges glorified his memory.

                               Chapter XX
                      The Election to the Kingdom

“To the Ting! To the Ting!” The message flies o’er hill and vale; the
people are summoned to elect their King. Champions try their swords,
vassals polish their lord’s helm and buckler till they shine like the
sun. Thus with clang of arms the warriors assembled on the open plain.
In their midst on the wide Ting-stone stood Frithiof, and at his side
King Ring’s son, a fair child with golden hair.

“Too young is Ring’s heir,” was murmured through the multitude; “no
chief is he to lead us into battle, or sit in judgment on the

But Frithiof placed the child upon his shield and held him high aloft,
saying: “Northmen, behold your King, a vigorous offshoot of the fallen
oak! Doth he not bear him well upon the shield? Hear now my vow: I swear
to guard for him his Kingdom, till with his father’s circlet he shall
one day here be crowned.” Then raising his eyes to heaven, he added:
“Forsete, son of Balder, be my witness! O thou who judgest justly,
strike me dead if e’er I break my word!”

Meanwhile the King’s son sat on Frithiof’s gleaming shield, gazing about
him proudly; but at length he began to weary of it, and with one bound
sprang lightly to the ground. A shout went up from all the Ting:

“Ha, that was indeed a royal leap! Aye, shield-borne, thee we choose to
be our King! And thou, O Frithiof, who shalt guard his crown and
kingdom, take Ingeborg, our Queen, to be thy wife!”

At these words Frithiof’s brow darkened. “To choose a King are you
come,” he answered; “my bride I woo of my own choice. In anger still
doth Balder look upon me. ’Twas he that took my Ingeborg from me, and he
alone can give her back to me.”

                              Chapter XXI
                           The Reconciliation

No peace was there yet in Frithiof’s heart. As fire had once consumed
the temple, so within him still blazed the flames of his remorse that by
his act had Balder’s earthly dwelling been destroyed. Betaking himself
to his father’s grave-mound he sat all night alone upon the cairn,
beseeching Balder to smile upon him once again. And lo! in the darkness
a wondrous vision grew before his eyes. In Balder’s Grove he saw a
gleaming temple slowly rise; but scarcely had he gazed upon it in
amazement, when again ’twas swallowed in the gloom of night.

Roused by fresh hope of winning the offended god’s forgiveness, he
hastily returned to Ring’s dominions and summoned architects to plan for
the building of a new temple. Just as he had seen it in his vision
should the home of Balder actually rise. So filled was he with this one
thought that nothing else had power to move him, neither feast, nor
chase, nor sounding minstrel lay.

At last the work was finished, and like the far-famed shrine of Upsal,
the great temple stood a wonder to all eyes. A brazen portal richly
carved led to the sanctuary; two rows of lofty columns supported the
arching roof, like a great shield of gold. Facing the doorway stood the
high altar, hewn from a single block of Northern marble and polished
with rare skill; round about it were graven runes of solemn import.
Above, in a spacious niche, was Balder’s august image, wrought all of
purest silver. On a rocky hillside rose the building, its reflection
mirrored in the sea below, while round about on three sides stretched a
smiling valley, known as Balder’s Dale. Leafy groves adorned the flowery
meadows. No sound but happy bird songs broke the silence; all nature
breathed of peace.

With deep emotion Frithiof trod those holy precincts. Twelve
rosy-cheeked maidens, priestesses of the temple, robed all in white,
advanced to the high altar and chanted a holy song in praise of Balder.
They sang how beloved was the gentle god by every creature; and when he
fell by evil Loke’s malice, how heaven itself with earth and ocean wept.
And as leaning on his sword the hero listened, the dark shadow, that so
long had lain upon his spirit, lifted. Tender memories of his childhood
woke within him, while calm and serene as the moon in the skies of
Summer, Balder the Good looked down upon him and filled his soul with
peace. Then with slow steps approached the high-priest of the temple,
not young and fair like the god at whose shrine he worshipped, but tall
and majestic, his noble features stamped with heavenly mildness and
graced with flowing beard and locks of silver. With unwonted reverence
Frithiof bent his haughty head before the seer, who thus began:

“Welcome, son Frithiof, to this holy temple. Long have I looked for thee
to come, for force, though restless over land and sea it wanders, turns
ever, wearied, home again at last. Oft did the mighty Thor wend thus to
Jötunheim, the giants’ kingdom; yet despite his godlike belt and magic
gauntlets, the giant King still sits upon his throne. Evil, itself a
force, yields not to evil. Virtue without strength is but child’s play,
the glancing sunbeam on the shield, a wavering shadow on the earth’s
broad breast. Yet neither may strength without virtue long survive. It
consumes itself, like rusting sword in some dark grave-mound—a debauch
from which he who yieldeth to it wakens filled with shame.

“Behold the mighty earth! It is the body of Ymir, the world-giant from
whom all strength proceeds—its rushing streams his blue veins; its iron
and brass his sinews; yet all is barren, bare, and empty till heaven’s
bright sun-rays stream upon it from afar. Then springs the grass; fair
blossoms deck the verdant meadows, and fresh leaves, the trees; the
swelling buds burst forth; all nature breathes new life from the
abundant earth. Thus is it with man’s strength: it yields naught but
blessing when transfigured by the heavenly rays of virtue.

“What the sun is to the earth, was Balder to Valhalla. His pure soul was
the gem that fastened the wreath divine. When, slain by evil Loke, he
descended to pale Hel’s realm, Odin’s wisdom straight began to languish,
and the strength of mighty Thor to dwindle; the prisoned forces of evil,
once mastered by the gods, stirred in their abysses; the dragon Nidhögg
gnawed at the roots of the Tree of Life, and its leafy crown fast
withered. Again the war broke out ’twixt good and evil—the strife that
through all creation still endures.

“This is but the emblem of what passes in every human breast. Hast thou
forgotten, my son, those days when Balder dwelt within thy spirit? Pure
then was every thought and feeling, thy whole life glad as a woodland
songster’s dream. In every child does Balder reappear; in each that is
born doth Hel restore her victim.

“But in each soul is also found the blind god Höder. Evil is ever born
blind, like the bear-cub; in darkness it enwraps itself, while good goes
clad in shining robes of light. Loke still creepeth busily about to
guide the hand of murder; with Balder dies the strength of heart and
spirit, and anew the struggle in man’s breast begins. Virtue sits
hopeless mid the shadows, as the fair god in the darkness of the

“So hath it been with thee, Frithiof. Passion and thirst for vengeance
rose within thee, and Balder’s temple sank to earth in ashes. Now thou
seekest atonement; but knowest thou its meaning rightly? Nay, boldly
meet my gaze and turn not pale, O youth! But one atoner is there on our
earth—his name is Death. All time itself is but a troubled stream from
vast eternity; atonement came from the All-Father’s throne to restore us
thither purified. The high gods, too, have sinned. Their day of battle,
the Twilight of the Gods, is their atonement, and from their fall a
higher life shall rise. Ah, bloody is the day that sees their strife
with the powers of evil! The golden-combed cock that sits on Odin’s
golden palace doth shrilly call to arms. Bursting his chains, up springs
the giant wolf from the abyss; the earth-enveloping serpent writhes in
fury; boiling and foaming, the sea o’erflows the land; the whole earth
shakes; mountains crash together; the Tree of Life groans and trembles;
in terror flee the shades that hover about the path of the dead. On the
corpse-ship, made from the nails of the unburied dead, Loke, the wolf
Fenris, and the giant Hrymer ride to join the battle. On come the flame
giants, their swords gleaming like the red glow of the forge. Over the
rainbow bridge they gallop—with a frightful crash it breaks beneath
their horses’ tread; the heavens are rent asunder; thunder peals sound
from pole to pole; the shouts of terrified mortals mingle with the
groans of the dwarfs, who, pale and trembling, cower in their rocky

“But already have the gods and heroes donned their shining armor, and,
led by Odin, crowned with his golden circlet and shaking aloft his
gleaming spear, over Vigrid’s boundless plain they move in mighty train.
There arrayed against each other stand the hosts, and the strife begins.
Spears hiss, swords clash, the battle-cries of gods and giants fill the
air; the furious bellowing of the serpent and the howling of Fenris
shake the dome of heaven. One by one the gods are slain; but not
unavenged do they perish, for the powers of evil also fall to rise no
more, while from the flames of the world they rise to higher life. Aye,
though the stars fall from the heavens and the earth is buried deep
beneath the waves, yet newly born, the abode of man once more arises
from the waters; a new sun shines on smiling mead and golden harvest.
Then shall those golden runic tablets, lost in Time’s far dawning and
graven with the wisdom of the gods, again be found amid the springing

“Struggle and death are but the fiery proof of virtue; atonement another
birth to higher life. The best, the happiest part of our existence, lies
beyond the grave-mound; low and deep-stained with guilt and error is all
we find ’neath heaven’s starlit dome.

“This life, too, hath its atonement—dim type of that still higher yet to
come. Earth is but Heaven’s shadow; human life the outer court of
Balder’s heavenly temple. Decked with purple is the proud steed led to
sacrifice—a symbol, rightly read, that blood is the red dawn of every
day of grace. Yet by the sacrifice of no other may thine own guilt be
redeemed. The wrongs that man commits he must himself atone for. The
sacrifice All-Father demands from thee, more sweet to him than blood and
reek of victim, is thy fierce hate and burning vengeance offered on the
altar of thy heart. If thou slay not these, then little will this proud
arched temple serve thee. Not with piled-up stones mayst thou atone to
Balder. First with thyself and with thy foe be reconciled; then,
Frithiof, shalt thou have the bright god’s pardon.

“Hear now, what wondrous news hath reached us from the South: there, so
’tis said, was a new Balder, born of a pure Virgin, sent by the great
All-Father to lead man to atonement. Peace was his war-cry; his bright
sword, Love; crowning his helm, the dove of Innocence. Pure was his life
and pure were his teachings; dying, he forgave. Palms wave above his
far-off grave, but still his teachings spread from vale to vale, melting
hard hearts, joining hand to hand, upraising such a realm of Peace as
never yet was seen upon the earth. But little know I of this creed,
alas! yet oft in better moments dimly I gaze upon its streaming light,
and loud my heart proclaims to me the time will come when it shall also
spread through all the North. Levelled then will be our grave-mounds;
lost in the stream of time our names, while other men shall flourish,
other chieftains reign. Ye happier race, who then shall drink from the
New Light’s shining goblet, I greet ye in the spirit. Hail! all hail!
Despise us not whose eager gaze hath ceaselessly sought the radiant
light of Heaven! Scorn not those to whom the divine ray was still
wrapped in veiling shadows! The All-Father hath many envoys—He Himself
is One!

“Frithiof, thou hatest Bele’s sons; but wherefore? Because, proud of
their descent from Seming, Odin’s royal offspring, they did refuse their
sister’s hand to thee. But ‘birth is chance,’ thou sayst, ‘not merit.’
Know, my son, man ever boasts of fortune, not of merit. Thou art proud
of thy strength and of thy glorious deeds; but didst thou give thyself
this force? Was it not Thor who strung thy sinewy arm firm as the oak
limb? Is it not God-sprung courage that throbs so joyously within thy
breast? Beside thy cradle the Norns sang hero-songs to thee. Thus are
thy noblest gifts no merit, but thy fortune,—of no more worth than that
of which the princes boast. Condemn not, judge not, others’ pride,—then
none will judge thine own. King Helge is no more—”

“What! Helge dead!” cried Frithiof, starting. “Where and how came he to
his death?”

“While thou,” continued the high priest, “wert building here this
temple, he, as thou knowest, did undertake a foray ’gainst the Finns.
Within their borders, on a barren mountain-peak there stood an ancient
temple of the heathen Jumala. It was closed and abandoned, and none for
many years had ever crossed its threshold. Above the portal, tottering
to its fall as it appeared, was placed an idol of the god, and an old
tradition handed down from sire to sire said, whoever first should enter
in the temple should Jumala behold. No sooner did Helge hear this than,
blind with rage, he scaled the barren steep, bent on destroying the
hated deity’s abode. He found the key still in the door, thick covered
o’er with rust. Grasping the moss-grown posts he shook them fiercely,
and thereupon, with tremendous crash, down plunged the image of the
heathen god; and thus did Helge view the dreaded Jumala.

“Now Halfdan rules alone. Give him thy hand, brave Frithiof. Sacrifice
thy hatred in this holy shrine. Thus saith Balder, and I his high priest
this demand of thee. Refuse, and vain will be thy efforts to avert his
godlike wrath.”

Here Halfdan entered through the doorway and with doubtful glance
lingered on the threshold of the temple. But Frithiof unbuckled
Angurvadel from his side and placed it with his shield against the
altar. Unarmed he approached his enemy and said kindly:

“In this strife he is noblest who first doth offer his hand in pledge of

Flushing deeply, Halfdan doffed his iron gauntlet, and with a firm
hand-clasp the two heroes sealed their reconciliation. Now the high
priest removed the curse that had rested on Frithiof since the burning
of the temple, and as he joyfully raised his head, no longer an outlaw,
lo! Ingeborg entered, radiant in her bridal garments and robed in royal
ermine. With tears in her beautiful eyes, she sank trembling in her
brother’s arms, but Halfdan tenderly transferred his burden to
Frithiof’s faithful breast; and kneeling before the altar of the
pardoning Balder, with joined hands the long-parted lovers sealed their
nuptial vows.

                     LIFE STORIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

                     _Translated from the German by
                            George P. Upton_

                           _16 Volumes Ready_

  Maid of Orleans
  The Little Dauphin
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  Maria Theresa
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  The Frithiof Saga

                   _Each, illustrated, 60 cents net_
                      A. C. McCLURG & CO., CHICAGO

                     LIFE STORIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

                         _BIOGRAPHICAL ROMANCES
                     TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY_
                            GEORGE P. UPTON

_A new, interesting, and very useful series that will be found
especially suitable for school libraries and for supplementary reading_

The books in this series are translated from the German, because in that
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For parents who feel disposed to give their children books that provide
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The work of translation has been done by Mr. George P. Upton, whose
“Memories” and Lives of Beethoven, Haydn, and Liszt, from the German of
Max Müller and Dr. Nohl, have been so successful.

 _Each is a small square 16mo in uniform binding, with from one to four
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                     LIFE STORIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

                         _FULL LIST OF TITLES_

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  The Little Dauphin

  “These narratives have been well calculated for youthful minds past
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  “He is a delightful writer, clearness, strength, and sincerity marking
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                      A. C. McCLURG & CO., CHICAGO

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