In the grove Helge offered both bird and beast,—
A sacred duty;
Asked counsel of vala, consulted the priest
What answer was best
For the queen of affection and beauty.
The offerings and vala and priest denied
The wished-for token;
And Helge, affrighted by signs he’d tried,
With “No,” replied,
For men must obey when the gods have spoken.
But merry king Halfdan laughed gayly, and said,
“The feast is ended,
King Gray-beard himself should have come instead,
I’d glad have led
His beast, and his mounting attended.”
Indignant the embassy went away,
Nor longer tarried;
“King Graybeard his honor’ll avenge one day,”
Is Ring heard to say,
When to him the curt message is carried.
He strikes his bright shield hanging high on a bough,—
His weapon seizes;
And many a dragon is hurrying now,
With blood-red prow,
And helmet plumes wave in the breezes.
The tidings flew swiftly to Helge king,
Who answered slowly:
“The strife will be bloody, for mighty is Ring;
My sister bring
To the temple of Balder, the holy.”
There sitteth the loving one, full of woes,
Though safe abiding:
She weeps, while with silk and with god she sews
A tear overflows,—
The dew ’mid the lilies is hiding.
Fridthjof Plays Chess
Bjorn and Fridthjof chess were playing
On a board, whose squares displaying
Gold and silver deftly fitted,
Skill and beauty both combined.
Then stepped Hilding in. “Come nigher,”
Fridthjof said, “and sit thee higher
’Till our game shall be completed,—
Hilding answered: “From the palace
I am come to you for solace.
Evil are the times at present,
You are all the people’s hope.”
Fridthjof said: “The foe encroaches,
Danger, Bjorn, your king approaches;
You can save him by a peasant.—
He is nothing, give him up.
“Fridthjof, anger kings no longer,
Lo, the eagle’s young grow stronger;
Ring may thwart, their weak endeavor,
Thou wilt surely find it hard.”
“Bjorn, I see you storm the tower.
And in vain your threatening power
’Gainst the castle is; it ever
Safety seeks behind its guard.”
“Ing’borg sits in Balder’s dwelling,
Grief her constant tears compelling:
She should make thee seize thy armor
She with tearful eyes of blue.”
“Vain you strive my queen to capture,
Dear from childhood’s days of rapture;
Best of all, there’s nought shall harm her
Come what may, to her I’m true.”
“Fridthjof, art thou still unheeding
All thy foster-father’s pleading?
For thy foolish game art ready
I should go without a word?”
Fridthjof then arises, laying
Hilding’s hand in his, and saying:
“My resolve is firm and steady,
And my answer you have heard.