Upon a summer’s afternoon it happened that Baldur the Bright and Bold, beloved of men and the gods, found himself alone in his palace of Broadblink. Thor was walking among the valleys, his brow heavy with summer heat; Frey and Gerda sported on still waters in their cloud-leaf ship; Odin, for once, slept on the top of Air Throne; a noon-day stillness pervaded the whole earth; and Baldur in Broadblink, most sunlit of palaces, dreamed a dream.
The dream of Baldur was troubled. He knew not whence nor why; but when he awoke he found that a new and weighty care was within him. It was so heavy that Baldur could scarcely carry it, and yet he pressed it closely to his heart and said, “Lie there, and do not fall on any one but me.” Then he rose up and walked out from the splendor of his hall, that he might seek his own mother, Frigga, and tell her what had happened. He found her in her crystal saloon, calm and kind, and ready to sympathize; so he walked up to her, his hands pressed closely on his heart, and lay down at her feet sighing.
“What is the matter, dear Baldur?” asked Frigga, gently.
“I do not know, mother,” answered he. “I do not know what the matter is; but I have a shadow in my heart.”
“Take it out, then, my son, and let me look at it,” replied Frigga.
“But I fear, mother, that if I do it will cover the whole earth.”
Then Frigga laid her hand upon the heart of her son that she might feel the shadow’s shape. Her brow became clouded as she felt it; her parted lips grew pale, and she cried out, “Oh! Baldur, my beloved son! the shadow is the shadow of death!”
Then said Baldur, “I will die bravely, my mother.”
But Frigga answered, “You shall not die at all; for I will not sleep to-night until everything on earth has sworn to me that it will neither kill nor harm you.”
So Frigga stood up, and called to her everything on earth that had power to hurt or slay. First she called all metals to her; and heavy iron-ore came lumbering up the hill into the crystal hall, brass and gold, copper, silver, lead, and steel, and stood before the Queen, who lifted her right hand high in the air, saying, “Swear to me that you will not injure Baldur”; and they all swore, and went. Then she called to her all stones; and huge granite came with crumbling sandstone, and white lime, and the round, smooth stones of the seashore, and Frigga raised her arm, saying, “Swear that you will not injure Baldur”; and they swore, and went. Then Frigga called to her the trees; and wide-spreading oak trees, with tall ash and sombre firs, came rushing up the hill, and Frigga raised her hand, and said, “Swear that you will not hurt Baldur”; and they said, “We swear,” and went. After this Frigga called to her the diseases, who came blown by poisonous winds on wings of pain to the sound of moaning. Frigga said to them, “Swear”; and they sighed, “We swear,” then flew away. Then Frigga called to her all beasts, birds, and venomous snakes, who came to her and swore, and disappeared. Then she stretched out her hand to Baldur, while a smile spread over her face, saying, “Now, my son, you cannot die.”