Opera Stories from Wagner
By Florence Akin
Public Domain Books
The Greedy Fafner
Wotan and Loki hurried back to the mountain-side with their treasure.
At the same time Fafner returned, bringing Freya.
Already Fafner had made up his mind that if he gave Freya back, he must have a very great deal of gold.
When Freya again reached her own country, the sun grew brighter, the air grew sweeter, and the glow of youth came back to the cheeks of Wotan and his family.
“Here, Fafner, is your gold!” great Wotan cried.
“I am sorry to give Freya up,” said Fafner. “Pile up the gold between her and me. You may keep her if there is gold enough to hide her completely from my sight. So long as I can see her, I cannot part with her.”
Then Wotan and his family heaped the glittering gold. They piled it as loosely as they could, but when they had put on all the gold they had, the greedy Fafner cried:–
“More, more! It is not high enough! Still I can see fair Freya’s shimmering hair. Throw on that shining helmet!”
“Put it on, Loki,” commanded Wotan. “There, Fafner, is your pay. Freya again belongs to me.”
“Not yet!” cried Fafner, as he peeped through a space in the heap. “I can see her eyes through here.” Then, pointing to the ring on Wotan’s finger: “Bring that ring and put it in this space.”
“Never!” cried Wotan.
Then Loki spoke. “The ring belongs to the Rhine-maidens, and Wotan is going to return it to them. Already we have given you more than you should expect, all that shining heap and the helmet besides.”
“I will not give you any more!” roared Wotan. “Not all the mighty world shall take this ring from my finger!”
“Then I shall be gone,” said Fafner. “I was afraid you would not give me enough gold. Freya is mine forevermore.”
Wotan’s family began to plead for Freya. “She is worth more to us than all the gold in this world! Without her we must all wither and die!”
It was no use to resist. Wotan knew that he dared not lose Freya.
Taking the ring from his finger, he flung it upon the shining heap.