Photoplay Magazine
"Vamps of All Times
IV. Fricca
by Svetezar Tonjoroff


As seen when a modern spotlight is turned upon ancient legends. 
FRICCA was the wife of Wotan, the AllFather. It is recorded that she clung to the old-fashioned custom of taking breakfast with her husband seven days in the week—that is, when Wotan happened to be staying at the family mansion, Asgard Hall. But Wotan was a good deal of a wanderer between times. In the Sagas, the Eddas and the Wagner operas he is shown strolling about his kingdom disguised in a long dark cloak and old slouch hat, looking after things.
Wotan's habits as a travelling man must have had an unsettling effect upon Fricca. During these trips she seems to have taken an outing on her own account now and then, passing under the name of Freya. It was on his return from one of these Haroun al-Raschid expeditions that Wotan found Fricca wearing a beautiful golden necklace.

"Where did you get it?" asked Wotan, somewhat disturbed.

The All-Mother replied with nothing but silence, and very little of that. She also positively refused to give up the bauble.

Becoming more and more suspicious, Wotan called in the famous private detective Loki, the Sherlock Holmes of Asgard. Disguising himself as a fly, Loki buzzed into Madame's chamber through a crack in the roof. He found Fricca fast asleep with the necklace around her milkwhite throat. He saw at a glance, however, that he could not get it without waking her, because she was lying on the clasp.

Loki then hurriedly disguised himself as a flea and bit her on the cheek, which caused her to turn in her sleep. Then Loki unsnapped the lock and took the necklace away with him.

Pursuing this clue, the great detective traced the necklace to four dwarfs—Alfrig, Dvalin, Berling and Grer—who kept a silversmith's establishment in a cellar in the Main Street of Asgard and up to that time had enjoyed the patronage of all the gods.

The most careful examination of their books under duces tecum proceedings, however, failed to disclose any money entry in payment for the necklace, either from Fricca, alias Freya, or from any of the neighbors.

Loki was about to do the last thing any detective ever does, and admit he was wrong, when his keen eyes fell on a memorandum slip on which was jotted down the tell-tale line:

"For good and sufficient value received . . . one sixty carat gold necklace, to Madame F."

Things now began to look black for Freya; but after a dispassionate weighing of all the evidence in the case, Wotan ordered his counsel to discontinue the proceedings. The impression prevailed in the Valhalla Club that Wotan had been successfully vamped.

This mysterious transaction apart, Fricca, when she was no; travelling under the name of Freya, appears to have earned the reputation of being a good wife and mother.

Among Fricca's household pets was a German tribe called the Winiler, who were trying to wrest a home-rule measure from the Vandals, the Ambri and the Assi. who were taxing them without granting them representation. Having declared an Easter revolution, the Winiler were about to be attacked by the Vandals and their friends.

In advance of the battle, the chiefs of the Vandals, the Ambri and the Assi, appeared before Wotan as he sat on his throne, his flaxen beard spreading over half the floor of the throne room. They promised all sorts of sacrifices on his altars if lie would help them crush the Winiler and put an end to the homerule movement.

"I am not so sure about that," responded Wotan thoughtfully, tipping back his golden crown and scratching his forehead. "You see, Her Majesty the Queen, our beloved All-Mother is very favorably disposed toward the Winiler on account of their extreme gentleness. Let's see . . . F-e-e, fi fo fum!"

Then, an idea coming into his massive head, he touched the buzzer on the arm of his throne. It was Brunhild who responded to the summons.

"Mead for the gentlemen," ordered Wotan with true Northern hospitality. When they had been served he announced: "The battle is going to be won by the army that I first lay eyes on when I wake up tomorrow morning. My bed faces the east windows. A word to the wise ought to be sufficient."

And he dismissed them with a benevolent nod, gathered up his beard and moved with great dignity out of the throne-room. That night at bedtime Wotan committed the indiscretion of telling Fricca about the arrangement. Fricca at first pretended not to care; but when she heard Wotan snore soundly and had made sure that the snoring was sincere, she got up, crept oat of bed, tiptoed to an armchair, and sat there for a long time, wringing her hands and weeping silently.

Suddenly she stopped crying, smiled, glanced at the sleeping Wotan, put on a fresh boudoir cap, slipped on a simple flowered silk kimono, stole out of the bed-chamber and set to work.

Having summoned Gambara, the queen of the Winiler, Fricca gave her some whispered instructions. Then, tiptoeing back to the royal chamber, Fricca carefully and slowly wheeled the royal bed into such a position that on opening his royal eyes the first thing in the morning the All-Father would gaze, not through the east windows but through the west windows.

When Wotan awoke at break of day he stretched himself, yawned noisily and looked out. There, surely enough, he saw a great army in battle array. But it was not the Vandals and their spiritual kin that Wotan beheld, but the host of the Wiliner.

Fricca's silvery laugh was the first intimation he had that something had gone wrong.

"The Winiler win!" declared Fricca, clapping her robust German hands.

"H'm," he admitted with a disgusted expression. "But where in the name of the great Ash-Tree did all these bearded warriors come from? I didn't know there were so many men in the entire tribe."

"A little trick of mine," explained the AllMother proudly. "You see—I sent word to their women to line up with the men, with their long hair draped down over their shoulders and chests to look like beards."

"Bright idea, Fricca—bright idea," confessed the All-Father with a wry smile.

"Thanks, Wotan," rejoined Fricca sweetly. "After the victory their name shall be Longo-Bardi, or Long-Beards."

Which was another bright idea on the part of Fricca, except for the mere detail that the word Longo-Bardi means Long-Spears and not Long-Beards. But what is a little thing like the peculiarity of language between gods? And, besides, the Lombards told the story on themselves.

We are assured by the writers of the Sagas that Fricca was particularly agreeable at the breakfast table that morning, although Wotan was not in good humor and spoke rather shortly to Brunhild when she brought in a tankard of mead that lacked the usual tang.

That day Fricca took personal command of the Valkyrie, who had an exceedingly busy time picking up dead and dying Vandals and galloping up to Valhalla with them as the tide of battle turned more and more strongly to the gentle and unresisting Winiler.

Although the mistress of Asgard Hall was a spiritual first cousin to Aphrodite, the First Lady of Olympus Mansions, the two goddesses never met. It was a matter of common report both in the Valhalla Club and in the Old Sports' Corner of the Immortals' Club of Olympus, that Fricca severely disapproved of Aphrodite's methods, and especially of the carryings-on of "that person's" priestesses in the Lighthouse district of Alexandria. So Fricca refused to meet Aphrodite.?

"I may be a Vamp," observed Fricca one day to the magazine editor of the Asgard Daily Herald, in an interview strictly not meant for publication; "but I hope I try to be a good wife and mother."

Unlike Aphrodite, Fricca was not fond of display. It was admitted even by some of Aphrodite's best friends—her own son Aeneas, for example—that she was somewhat addicted to what the Anglo-Saxons of a later period called "Swank." Nobody outside the family circle ever saw her when she was not posing for a sculptor, and in most cases in the "altogether."

Fricca, on the other hand, much preferred the simple home-life of Asgard Hall to the stiff formality of a temple. Her reception of Queen Ambara in the modest costume of a boudoir cap and a flowered silk kimono on the eve of the Winiler-Vandal battle is an apt illustration of her marked distaste for ostentation.

Except on important state occasion;, Fricca kept her crown, her royal robes and the other symbols of her All-Motherly dignity put away in her closet. It is said that on one occasion Wotan, on his return from a celebration at the Valhalla Club, found her polishing the mead-horns in the kitchen.

"What d-does this m-mean, my dear?" he remonstrated; "haven't you got Valkyries enough to do the work?"

"Oh, I gave them an evening off," she responded cheerfully. "The poor things looked as if they needed a good gallop over the clouds, so I let them all go."

By some accident the purport of this conversation got into the society column of the Asgard Daily Herald the next morning. Greatly as she regretted the unauthorized publication, Fricca was consoled by the reflection that it helped her to establish the reputation she sought to establish—the reputation of sober-minded, motherly matron who was always taking thought of the happiness of others.

It was noticed that Fricca never ordered a statue of herself. In this respect she differed conspicuously from Aphrodite, who had all the sculptors of Athens, and several in Alexandria and Rome, executing her commissions.

Fricca's powers of persuasion were strictly of the domestic, the womanly sort. One of the tribes that worshipped her called her by the name of Frowa. From that word is derived the expression "frou-frou"—suggesting the gentle, soothing, unobtrusive yet almost unfailing influence by which the wife of the All-Mother achieved her purposes.

With the sole exception of that trifling incident of the dwarfs and the necklace, Fricca's domestic life was as placid as a summer's day.

No more glowing tribute was ever paid to her than the remark made by one of the ladies-in-waiting of the late Queen Victoria after she had laid down "The Memoirs of Fricca" which she had just finished reading. "How like the home life of our dear queen!"