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helped. You must go to the fountain alone by another way; for you are so strong and heavy, that if you were to put your foot on Bifröst, either it would tremble in pieces beneath your weight, or take fire from the friction of your iron heels. Yonder, however, are two river-clouds, called Körmt and Ermt, through which you can wade to the Sacred Urd, and you will assuredly reach it in time, though the waters of the clouds are strong and deep."

At the words of Heimdall Thor fell back from the bridge's head, vexed and sorrowful. “Am I to be sent away, then, and have to do disagreeable things," said he, “just because I am so strong?

? After all, what are Urda and the Norns to me, and Körmt and Ermt? I will go back to Asgard again.”

"Nay, Thor,” said Odin, “I pray you, do not anything so foolish. Think again, I beseech you, what it is that we are going to see and hear. Körmt and Ermt lie before you, as Bifröst before us. It is yonder, above both, that we go. Neither

it much matter, Thor, whether we reach



the Fountain of Urd over Bifröst or through the cloud.”

Then Thor blushed with shame at his own weakness, which had made him regret his strength; and, without any more grumbling or hanging back, he plunged into the dreadful river-clouds, whose dark vapours closed around him and covered him. He was hidden from sight, and the Æsir went on their way over the glittering bridge.

Daintily and airily they trod over it; they swung themselves up the swinging arch; they reached its summit on a pale, bright cloud. Thor was there already waiting for them, drenched and weary, but cheerful and bold. Then, all together, they knocked at the door of the pale, bright cloud; it blew open, and they passed in. Oh! then what did they see! Looking up to an infinite height through the purple air, they saw towering above them Yggdrasil's fairest branches, leafy and of a tender green, which also stretched far and wide; but, though they looked long, the Æsir could distinguish no topmost bough, and it almost seemed


to them that, from somewhere up above, this mighty earth-tree must draw another root, so firmly and so tall it grew. On one side stood the Palace of the Norns, which was so bright that it almost blinded them to look at it, and on the other the Urda fountain plashed its cool waters-rising, falling, glittering, as nothing ever glitters on this side the clouds. Two ancient swans swam under the fount, and around it sat Three. Ah! how shall I describe them--Urd, Verdandi, Skuld. They were mighty, they were wilful, and one veiled. Sitting upon the Doomstead, they watched the water as it rose and fell, and passed golden threads from one

to another. Verdandi plucked them with busy fingers from Skuld's reluctant hand, and wove them in and out quickly, almost carelessly; for some she tore and blemished, and some she cruelly spoiled. Then Urd took the woof away from her, smoothed its rough places, and covered up some of the torn, gaping holes; but she hid away many of the bright parts, too, and then rolled it all round her great roller, Oblivion, which grew thicker and heavier every

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moment. And so they went on, Verdandi drawing from Skuld, and Urd from Verdandi; but whence Skuld drew her separate bright threads

one could see. She never seemed to reach the end of them, and neither of the sisters ever stopped or grew weary of her work.

The Æsir stood apart watching, and it was a great sight. They looked in the face of Urd, and fed on wisdom; they studied the countenance of Verdandi, and drank bitter strength; they glanced through the veil of Skuld, and tasted hope. At length, with full hearts, they stole away silently, one by one, out by the pale, open door, re-crossed the bridge, and stood once more by the side of Heimdall on the heavenly hills; then they went home again. Nobody spoke as they went; but

ever afterwards it was an understood thing that the Æsir should fare to the Doomstead of the Nornir once in every day.



Now upon a day it happened that Odin sat silent by the Well of Urd, and in the evening he mounted Air Throne with a troubled mind. Allfather could see into Dwarf Home from his high place, as well as over man's world ; his keen eye pierced, also, the mountains and darkness of Jötunheim.

On this evening, a tear, the fate-sisters' gift, swam across his vision, and—behold, is that an answering tear which he sees down there in Dwarf Home, large, luminous, golden, in the dark heart of the earth ? Can dwarfs weep?" exclaimed Allfather, surprised as he looked a second and a third time, and went on looking. Fialar and Galar, the cunning dwarfs who


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