THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER 625
every kind word, every tear that her foster-mother had wept for her, rose up in her memory, and in that moment she almost felt as if she loved the Viking*woman best of all.
1 Yes, we must go to the Viking's castle,' said Stork-papa ; ' mother and the youngsters are waiting for us there. How they will turn up their eyes and flap their wings ! Yes, you see, mother doesn't speak much—she 's short and dry, but she means all the better. I'll begin clapping at once, that they may know we're coming.'
And Stork-papa clapped in first-rate style, and they all flew away towards the Viking's castle.
In the castle every one was sunk in deep sleep. The Viking's wife had not retired to rest until it was late. She was anxious about Helga, who had vanished with the Christian priest three days before : she must have assisted him in his flight, for it was the girl's horse that had been missed from the stables ; but how all this had been effected was a mystery to her. The Viking woman had heard of the miracles told of the White Christ, and by those who believed in His words and followed Him. Her passing thoughts formed themselves into a dream, and it seemed to her that she was still lying awake on her couch, and that deep darkness reigned without. The storm drew near : she heard the sea roaring and rolling to the east and to the west, like the waves of the North Sea and the Cattegat. The immense snake which was believed to surround the span of the earth in the depths of the ocean was trembling in convulsions ; she dreamed that the night of the fall of the gods had come—Ragnarok, as the heathen called the last day, when everything was to pass away, even the great gods themselves. The war-trumpet sounded, and the gods rode over the rainbow, clad in steel, to fight the last battle. The winged Valkyries rode before them, and the dead warriors closed the train. The whole firmament was ablaze with Northern Lights, and yet the darkness seemed to predominate. It was a terrible hour.
And, close by the terrified Viking woman, Helga seemed to be crouching on the floor in the hideous frog-form, trembling and pressing close to her foster-mother, who took her on her lap and embraced her affectionately, hideous though she was. The air resounded with the blows