Gateway to the Classics: The Heroes of Asgard by A. & E. Keary
The Heroes of Asgard by  A. & E. Keary

On Tiptoe in Air Throne

I told you, some time ago, how Van Frey went away into Alfheim with the light elves, of whom Odin made him king and schoolmaster.

You have heard what Frey was like, and the kind of lessons he promised to teach his pupils, so you can imagine what pleasant times they had of it in Alfheim.

Wherever Frey came there was summer and sunshine. Flowers sprang up under his footsteps, and bright-winged insects, like flying flowers, hovered round his head. His warm breath ripened the fruit on the trees, and gave a bright yellow colour to the corn, and purple bloom to the grapes, as he passed through fields and vineyards.

When he rode along in his car, drawn by the stately boar, Golden Bristles, soft winds blew before him, filling the air with fragrance, and spreading abroad the news, "Van Frey is coming!" and every half-closed flower burst into perfect beauty, and forest, and field, and hill, flushed their richest colours to greet his presence.

Under Frey's care and instruction the pretty little light elves forgot their idle ways, and learned all the pleasant tasks he had promised to teach them. It was the prettiest possible sight to see them in the evening filling their tiny buckets, and running about among the woods and meadows to hang the dew-drops deftly on the slender tips of the grass-blades, or to drop them into the half-closed cups of the sleepy flowers. When this last of their day's tasks was over they used to cluster round their summer-king, like bees about the queen, while he told them stories about the wars between the Æsir and the giants, or of the old time when he lived alone with his father Niörd, in Noatun, and listened to the waves singing songs of far distant lands. So pleasantly did they spend their time in Alfheim.

But in the midst of all this work and play Frey had a wish in his mind, of which he could not help often talking to his clear-minded messenger and friend Skirnir. "I have seen many things," he used to say, "and travelled through many lands; but to see all the world at once, as Asa Odin does from Air Throne, that  must be a splendid sight."

"Only Father Odin may sit on Air Throne," Skirnir would say; and it seemed to Frey that this answer was not so much to the purpose as his friend's sayings generally were.

At length, one very clear summer evening, when Odin was feasting with the other Æsir in Valhalla, Frey could restrain his curiosity no longer. He left Alfheim, where all the little elves were fast asleep, and, without asking any one's advice, climbed into Air Throne, and stood on tiptoe in Odin's very seat. It was a clear evening, and I had, perhaps, better not even try to tell you what Frey saw.

He looked first all round him over Manheim, where the rosy light of the set sun still lingered, and where men, and birds, and flowers were gathering themselves up for their night's repose; then he glanced towards the heavenly hills where Bifröst rested, and then towards the shadowy land which deepened down into Niflheim. At length he turned his eyes northward to the misty land of Jötunheim. There the shades of evening had already fallen; but from his high place Frey could still see distinct shapes moving about through the gloom. Strange and monstrous shapes they were, and Frey stood a little higher, on tiptoe, that he might look further after them. In this position he could just descry a tall house standing on a hill in the very middle of Jötunheim. While he looked at it a maiden came and lifted up her arms to undo the latch of the door. It was dusk in Jötunheim; but when this maiden lifted up her white arms, such a dazzling reflection came from them, that Jötunheim, and the sky, and all the sea were flooded with clear light. For a moment everything could be distinctly seen; but Frey saw nothing but the face of the maiden with the uplifted arms; and when she had entered the house and shut the door after her, and darkness fell again on earth, and sky, and sea,—darkness fell, too, upon Frey's heart.

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