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and by the sedgy banks of rivers, peering into earth-holes, and creeping down into flower-cups and empty snail-shells, every one hoping to find a gift for Gerda.
Some stole the light from glow-worms' tails, and wove it into a necklace, and others pulled the ruby spots from cowslip leaves, to set with jewels the acorn cups that Gerda was to drink from; while the swiftest
chased the butterflies, and pulled feathers from their wings to make fans and bonnet-plumes.
All the work was scarcely finished when the ninth day came, and Frey set out from Alfheim with all his elves, to the warm wood Barri.
The Æsir joined him on the way, and they made, together, something like a wedding procession. First came Frey in his chariot, drawn by Golden Bristles, and carrying in his hand the wedding-ring, which was none other than Draupnir, the magic ring of which so many stories are told.
Odin and Frigga followed with their wedding gift, the Ship Skidbladnir, in which all the
Æsir could sit and sail, though it could afterwards befolded up so small, that you might carry it in your hand.
Then came Idūna, with eleven golden apples in a basket on her fair head, and then two and two all the heroes and ladies with their gifts.
All round them flocked the elves, toiling under the weight of their offerings. It took twenty little people to carry one gift, and yet there was not one so large as a baby's finger. Laughing, and singing, and dancing, they entered the warm wood, and every summer flower sent sweet breath after them. Everything on earth smiled on the wedding-day of Frey and Gerda, onlywhen it was all over, and every one had gone home, and the moon shone cold into the wood -it seemed if the Vanir spoke to another.
“ “Odin," said one voice, “gave his eye for wisdom, and we have seen that it was well done,”
"Frey," answered the other, “has given his sword for happiness. It may be well to be unarmed while the sun shines and bright days last; but
when Ragnarök has come, and the sons of Muspell ride down to the last fight, will not Frey regret his sword ?"
Frey appears as the summer god, and the Boar was sacred to him because, from its tearing up the earth with its tusks, it typified agriculture and return of the seed-sowing time. Gerda is supposed to represent the frozen earth, which Summer seeing from far off loves and woos to his embrace. The lighting of the sky by the uplifted giant maiden's arms is explained to mean the Northern Lights glancing from one end of heaven to the other. Frey parts with his sword in order to win Gerdathis is alluded to in both Eddas as if it were wrong or at any rate highly imprudent. “ When the sons of Muspell come at Ragnarök,” it is said, and Frey shall have to meet Surtur in battle, “then will thou, unhappy, not have wherewith to fight.” The ship Skidbladnir was said to have been made by four dwarfs in the beginning of time; it is alluded to in a poem quoted before. Draupnir is not men
tioned in the Edda in connection with Frey and Gerda.
The Northmen had three grand religious festivals in their year : they all took place in the winter half of the year, between the harvest and seed time. One was celebrated in midwinter about the turn of the day, and from so very nearly coinciding with our Christmas, its name, “Yule," came to be applied to the Christian festival. Yule is derived from a name of Odin, but it is said by Laing that this winter feast was held in honour of Thor. In Fouqué's writings a custom is named which the Scandinavians had of making vows to accomplish some great enterprise before another new year, over a golden boar's head at this winter feast; the mention of the golden boar seems to connect the festival with the god Frey, probably it was a general propitiation of the summer deities for the coming year; the second festival was in honour of the goddesses; the third, about spring, in honour of Odin, because at this season warlike expeditions began to be undertaken.
THE WANDERINGS OF FREYJA.
THE NECKLACE BRISINGAMEN.
Now, though Frey was made king and schoolmaster of the light elves, and spent the greater part of his time with them in Alfheim, his sister Freyja remained in the city of Asgard, and had a palace built for her named Folkvang. In this palace there was one very beautiful hall, Sessrymnir—the “Roomy Seated”—where Freyja entertained her guests, and she had always plenty of them ; for everyone liked to look at her beautiful face, and listen to her enchanting music