BALDUR IN THE ABODE OF THE DEAD
60. “Meanwhile, Hermod was proceeding on his mission. For the space of nine days, and as many nights, he rode through deep glens so dark that he could not discern anything until he arrived at the river Gjoll, which he passed over on a bridge covered with glittering gold. Modgudur, the maiden who kept the bridge, asked him his name and lineage, telling him that the day before five bands of dead persons had ridden over the bridge, and did not shake it so much as he alone. ‘But,’ she added, ’thou hast not death’s hue on thee, why then ridest them here on the way to Hel?’
“‘I ride to Hel,’ answered Hermod, ’to seek Baldur. Hast thou perchance seen him pass this way?’
“‘Baldur,’ she replied, ’hath ridden over Gjoll’s bridge, but there below, towards the north, lies the way to the abodes of death.’
“Hermod then pursued his journey until he came to the barred gates of Hel. Here he alighted, girthed his saddle tighter, and remounting, clapped both spurs to his horse, who cleared the gate by a tremendous leap without touching it. Hermod then rode on to the palace, where he found his brother Baldur occupying the most distinguished seat in the hall, and passed the night in his company. The next morning he besought Hela (Death) to let Baldur ride home with him, assuring her that nothing but lamentations were to be heard among the gods. Hela answered that it should now be tried whether Baldur was so beloved as he was said to be.
“‘If therefore,’ she added, ’all things in the world, both living and lifeless, weep for him, then shall he return to the AEsir, but if any one thing speak against him or refuse to weep, he shall be kept in Hel.’
“Hermod then rose, and Baldur led him out of the hall and gave him the ring Draupnir, to present as a keepsake to Odin. Nanna also sent Frigga a linen cassock and other gifts, and to Fulla a gold finger-ring. Hermod then rode back to Asgard, and gave an account of all he had heard and witnessed.