The Fall of the Niebelungs
Part 2 out of 5
before the pavilions with his thousand Nibelungs.
Then came Hagen of Trony at the king's command, and, on friendly wise,
stopped the jousting, lest the dust should irk the fair maidens, and
they demurred not, but obeyed gladly.
Gernot said, "Let stand the horses till it groweth cooler, and let us
lead the women home. But be ready to ride again when the king giveth the
So the tourney ended over all the plain. And the knights went to the
women under the high pavilions, and passed the time merrily till it was
time to ride home.
At the fall of night, when the sun went down and the air had begun to
cool, they tarried not longer, but arose, men and women together, and the
knights wooed the fair maidens with their eyes. Then, as was the custom
of the land, the good squires spurred forward to the castle gate before
the proud knights.
There the king alighted from his horse, and, on knightly wise, the heroes
lifted down the women. There, too, the noble queens parted. Uta and her
daughter went with their attendants into a wide chamber, and a merry din
was heard over all.
The chairs were set, for the king was ready to go to table with his
guests, and beautiful Brunhild stood by him, and were her crown in
Gunther's land. Certes, she was proud enough.
Many were the seats, they say, and the tables goodly and broad, and laden
with food. Little, I trow, was lacking! And many a noble guest sat
there with the king. Gunther's chamberlains carried round water in
golden ewers. If any tell you of a prince's table better served, believe
Or Gunther took the water, Siegfried, as was meet, minded him of his oath
that he had sworn or ever he saw Brunhild in Issland.
He said, "Forget not the vow thou swarest with thy hand, that, if
Brunhild came into Burgundy, thou wouldst give me thy sister. Where is
thine oath now? Mickle toil was mine on the journey."
The king answered his guest, "Thou hast done well to remind me. I go not
back from the oath of my hand. What I can do therein I will do."
They bade Kriemhild to the court before the king. She went up the hall
with her maidens, but Giselher sprang down the stair and cried, "Send
back these maidens. My sister goeth alone to the king."
They brought Kriemhild before Gunther, where he stood amidst of knights
from many lands. And they bade her stand in the middle of the hall.
Brunhild, by this time, was come to the table, and knew naught of what
was toward. Then said Dankrat's son to his kinsmen, "Help me now, that
my sister take Siegfried to her husband."
And they answered with one accord, "That may she do with honour."
Gunther said, "Dearest sister, I prithee of thy goodness, loose me from
mine oath. I promised thee to a knight; and truly thou wilt do my will,
if thou take him to husband."
The maiden answered, "Dear brother mine, thou needest not to entreat.
Command and I will obey. Him that thou givest me to husband I will
Siegfried grew red for love and joy, and vowed his service to Kriemhild.
And they bade them stand together in a circle, and asked her if she would
take the knight.
On maidenly wise she was shamefast at the first, yet so great was
Siegfried's good fortune and his grace, that she refused not his hand;
and the king of the Netherland, from his side also, plighted his troth to
When their word was given, Siegfried took his queen in his arms
straightway, and kissed her before the warriors.
The circle brake up when this was ended, and Siegfried took the seat of
honour with Kriemhild. The vassals served before them, and his Nibelung
knights stood nigh.
The king and Brunhild were seated, and Brunhild saw Kriemhild sitting by
Siegfried, the which irked her sore; she fell to weeping, and the hot
tears ran down her bright cheeks.
Whereupon the host said, "What aileth thee, sweet Lady, that the light of
thine eyes is dim? Rejoice shouldst thou rather, for my land and rich
castles and true liegemen are all subject to thee."
"I have cause to weep," said the maiden. "I grieve from my heart for thy
sister, that she sitteth there by thy vassal. I must ever weep to see
her so shamed."
But King Gunther answered, "I prithee, silence! Another time I will tell
thee why I gave my sister to Siegfried. May she live happily with the
But she said, "I must grieve for her beauty and her birth. If I knew
whither I might flee, I would not suffer thee by me, till that thou hadst
told me how Siegfried hath gotten Kriemhild."
Gunther answered them, "Hearken, and I will tell thee. Know that he hath
lands and castles even as I, and is a rich king; wherefore I give him my
beautiful sister gladly to wife." Yet, for all the king could say to
her, she was downcast.
The knights rose from the table, and the tourney waxed so fierce that the
castle rang with the noise. But the king wearied amidst of his guests.
He thought, "It were softer alone with my wife." And his heart dwelled
on the mickle joy her love must bring him, and he looked at her sweetly.
Then they stopped the tourney, that the king might retire with his wife.
At the foot of the stair that led forth from the hall, Kriemhild and
Brunhild came face to face. They were not foes yet. Their attendants
followed them, and longer they tarried not. The chamberlains brought
candles, and the knights of the two kings parted in two companies, and
many followed Siegfried.
Then came the heroes where they were to lie, and each thought to win his
wife's favour, whereat their hearts melted.
With Siegfried all went well. He caressed the maiden lovingly, and she
was as his life. He had not given her alone for a thousand other women.
Of them I will tell no further. Hear now how it fared with Gunther.
Better had been his case with any but Brunhild.
The folk had departed, dames and knights. The door was made fast. He
thought to win her love, but it was long yet or she became his wife. He
lay down in a white garment and thought, "Now have I my heart's desire."
The king's hand hid the light. He went to Brunhild and embraced her with
his arm. He was greatly glad. He would have caressed her sweetly if she
had let him. But she was so wroth that he was dismayed. He thought to
find joy, but found deep hate.
She said, "Noble knight, let me alone, for it shall not be as thou
desirest. Mark well I have naught to do with thee, till that thou has
answered me concerning Kriemhild."
Then Gunther began to be angry with her, and fought with her, and tore
her raiment. And the royal maiden seized a girdle, a strong embroidered
silk cord that she wore round her waist, and did hurt enow to the
knight. She bound his hands and his feet, and carried him to a nail, and
hung him on the wall. She forbade him to touch her because he disturbed
her sleep. He almost perished from her strength.
Then he that should have been master began to pray, "Now loose my bands,
most noble queen. I promise never to touch thee, or even to come night
She asked not how he fared while she lay soft. There must he hang the
long night through till the day, when the bright morning shone through
the window. If he had ever had strength, he had little in his body now.
"Tell me, Sir Gunther, said the beautiful maiden, "doth it not irk thee
that thy chamberlains find thee bound by the hand of a woman."
The noble knight answered, "It were the worse for thee. Also little were
my honour therein. Of thy charity allow me to lie down. Seeing thou
hatest my love, I will no so much as touch thy garment with my hand."
Then she loosed his bands, and let him go, and he laid him down, but so
far from her that he ruffled not her beautiful gown. Even that she had
Thereupon their attendants came and brought them new apparel, as much as
they could wear, that had been made ready against the wedding morn. But,
amidst of them that rejoiced, the king was heavy of his cheer beneath his
crown that day.
According to the good custom of the land, Gunther and Brunhild tarried
not longer, but went to the minster to hear mass. Thither also went
Siegfried, and there was great press of people.
Crowns and robes were ready for them there; and after they had taken
their vows, they stood up, all four, proudly beneath their crowns.
Youths, to the number of six hundred or more, were dubbed knights (I say
sooth) in honour of the king. And great joy was in Burgundy, and much
splintering of lances by sworded knights.
The beautiful maidens sat at the windows, and underneath them was the
flashing of many shields. But the king stood apart from his men, and
went about sadly.
He and Siegfried were unlike of their moods. The hero guessed what ailed
him, and went to him and asked him, "Tell me how it hath fared with thee."
Then said the host to his guest, "Shame and hurt have I suffered from my
wife in my house. When I would have caressed her, she bound me tight,
and took me to a nail, and hung me up on the wall. There I dangled in
fear the night through till the day, or she loosed me. How soft she lay
there! I tell thee this in secret."
And stark Siegfried said, "I grieve for thee. I will tell thee a remedy
if thou keep it from her. I will so contrive it that this night she will
defy thee no longer." The word was welcome to Gunther after his pain.
"Now see my hands, how they are swollen. She overmastered me, as I had
been a child, that the blood spurted all over me from my nails. I
thought not to come off with my life."
Said Siegfried, "It will yet be well. Unequal was our fortune last
night. Thy sister Kriemhild is dearer to me than mine own body. This
day must Brunhild be thy wife. I will come to-night to thy room secretly
in my _Tarnkappe_, that none may guess the trick. Send the chamberlains
to their beds. I will put out the lights in the hands of the pages, and
by this sign thou shalt know that I am night. I will win thy wife for
thee or perish."
"If only thou winnest her not for thyself. She is my dear wife.
Otherwise I rejoice. Do to her what thou wilt. If thou tookest her
life, I would bear it. She is a terrible woman."
"I vow to thee on mine honour that I will have naught to do with her.
Thy dear sister is more to me than any I have ever seen." And Gunther
believed Siegfried's word.
Meanwhile the guests rode at the tourney with fortune good and bad, but,
when it was time for the women to go to the hall, they stopped the
tilting and the din, and the chamberlains bade the folk void the way.
And now the courtyard was empty of horses and men. A bishop led each
queen before the kings to table, and many proud knights followed them to
their seats. The king sat beside his wife in good hope, for he minded
Siegfried's promise. The one day seemed to him as thirty, for he thought
only on Brunhild.
Scarce could he wait till they rose from the table.
Fair Kriemhild and also Brunhild were led to their chambers. Ha! what
bold knights went before the queens!
Joyful and without hate Siegfried the knight sat sweetly beside his
beautiful wife. With her white hand she caressed his, till, she knew not
how, he vanished from before her eyes. When she played with him and saw
him no longer, she said to her maidens, "I marvel much where the king is
gone. Who took his hands out of mine?" And so the matter dropped.
He had gone where he found the chamberlains with the lights, which he
began to put out. By this sign Gunther perceived that it was Siegfried.
He knew well what he wanted, and he sent away the women and maidens.
When that was done, the king himself locked the door, and shot two strong
bolts before it. He hid the light quickly behind the bed curtain, and
the struggle that had to come began between stark Siegfried and the
beautiful maiden. King Gunther was both glad and sorry.
Siegfried lay down by the queen, but she said, "Stop, Gunther, lest thou
suffer as afore. Thou mayest again receive a hurt at my hand."
Siegfried concealed his voice and spake not. Gunther heard well all that
passed, albeit he saw nothing. There was little ease for the twain.
Siegfried feigned that he was Gunther, and put his arm round the valiant
maiden. She threw him on to a bench, that his head rang loud against a
The bold man sprang up undaunted, but evil befell him. Such defence from
a woman I ween the world will never see more. Because he would not let
her be, Brunhild rose up.
"It is unseemly of thee," said the brave maiden. "Thou wilt tear my
beautiful gown. Thou art churlish and must suffer for it. Thou shalt
She caught the good knight in her arms, and would have bound him as she
had done to the king, that she might have peace. Grimly she avenged her
What availed him then his strength and his prowess? She proved to him
the mastery of her body, and carried him by force, since there was no
other way, and squeezed him hard against a press that stood by the bed.
"Alack!" thought the knight, "if I lose my life by the hand of a woman,
all wives evermore will make light of their husbands, that, without this,
would not dare."
The king heard it well. He feared for the man. Then Siegfried was
ashamed and waxed furious. He grappled fiercely with her, and, in terror
of his life, strove to overcome Brunhild. When she squeezed him down, he
got up again in spite of her, by dint of his anger and his mickle
strength. He came in great scathe. In the chamber there was smiting
with many blows. King Gunther, likewise, stood in peril. He danced to
and fro quickly before them. So mightily they strove, it was a wonder
they came off with their lives. The trouble of the king was twofold, yet
most he feared Siegfried's death. For she had almost killed the knight.
Had he dared, he had gone to his help.
The strife endured long atwixt them. Then Siegfried got hold of
Brunhild. Albeit she fought valiantly, her defence was grown weak. It
seemed long to the king, that stood there, till Siegfried had won. She
squeezed his hands till, by her strength, the blood spurted out from his
nails. Then he brake the strong will that she had shown at the first.
The king heard it all, but he spake no word. Siegfried pressed her down
till she cried aloud, for his might hurt her greatly. She clutched at
her side, where she found her girdle, and sought to tie his hands. But
he gripped her till the joints of her body cracked. So the strife was
She said, "Noble king, let me live. I will make good to thee what I have
done, and strive no more; truly I have found thee to be my master."
Siegfried rose up then and left her, as though he would throw off his
clothes. He drew from her hand a gold ring, without that she was ware of
it. He took her girdle also, a good silken band. I know not if he did
it from pride. He gave them to his wife, and suffered for it after.
The king and the fair maiden were left together, and, for that she was
grown weak, she hid her anger, for it availed her nothing. So the abode
there till the bright day.
Meanwhile Siegfried went back to his sweet love, that received him
kindly. He turned the questions aside that she asked him, and hid from
her for long what he had brought with him, till at the last, when they
were gotten home to the Netherland, he gave her the jewel; the which
brought him and many knights to their graves.
Much merrier was Gunther of his cheer the next morning than afore.
Throughout his lands many a noble knight rejoiced, and the guests that
he had bidden to the hightide were well feasted and served.
The hightide lasted fourteen days, during the which time the din of the
sports, and of the pastimes they practised, ceased not. Mickle was the
cost to the king. The king's kinsmen gave, in his honour, to the
stranger knights, as their lord willed it, apparel, and ruddy gold and
horses, and thereto silver enow; and they that received the gifts took
their leave well content. Also Siegfried of the Netherland and his
thousand knights gave all that they had brought with them - goodly horses
with saddles. Certes, they lived right royally. Nevertheless, or they
had made an end of giving, they deemed it long; for they were weary for
their home. So ended the hightide, and the warriors went their ways.
How Siegfried Brought his Wife Home
When the guests were all gone, the son of Siegmund spake to his friends,
"We will also go forth to our land." And his wife was glad when she
heard the news.
She said to her husband, "When shall we start? Yet be not in too great
haste. My brothers shall first divide the land with me." But the word
The princes went to him and said, all the three, "Sir Siegfried, we be
thy true servants till death. Know this of a surety." And he thanked
the knights that they spake him so fair.
"We would also divide with thee," said Giselher the youth, "land and
castles, and the rich kingdom that we rule. A full share thereof shalt
thou receive with Kriemhild."
But the son of Siegmund made answer, when he had heard their honourable
intent. "Blest be your heritage to you evermore, and also the people
thereof. The share you would give to my dear wife she may well forego,
for when she will wear the crown, she will be, if she live long enough,
the richest woman on earth. Command me in aught else, and I will obey."
But Kriemhild said, "Though thou scorn my land, not so lightly shalt thou
treat Burgundian warriors. These any king might be proud to take with
him, and them, at the least, shall my brothers' hand share with me."
Gunther answered, "Take whom thou wilt. Thou wilt find many ready to
ride with thee. Of three thousand knights, choose thou one thousand for
Then Kriemhild sent for Hagen of Trony and for Ortwin, and asked them if
they and their kinsmen would ride with her. But Hagen fell in a fury and
cried, "To no man in this world shall Gunther give us. Others can ride
with thee. Thou knowest the men of Trony and their way. By the king at
the court will we bide, to serve him and follow him as heretofore."
So she let the matter rest, and made ready for the journey; for her
followers she won two and thirty maidens and five hundred men, among the
which was Eckewart the Margrave. And they took their leave, as was meet:
knights and squires, damsels and dames. They parted thence with kisses,
and set out from Gunther's land joyfully.
Her kinsmen brought her far on her way, and had night quarters put up
where they desired them, in the king's land. And they despatched envoys
to King Siegmund, to tell him and Queen Sieglind how that their son drew
nigh with fair Kriemhild, Queen Uta's child, from Worms on the Rhine.
They could not have brought them better news.
Siegmund said, "Praised be God that I have lived to see the day when
Kriemhild shall wear the crown here. My heritage is increased in worth,
and Siegfried himself shall be king."
Queen Sieglind gave the envoys, for fee, red velvet and heavy silver and
gold, for she was glad at the news.
Her women began to adorn them in haste, and when Sieglind knew who came
with Siegfried, she let seats be builded, where he might be crowned in
presence of his kinsmen.
King Siegmund's knights rode out to meet them. Never heroes were better
welcomed, I trow, than these, into Siegmund's land. Sieglind rode forth,
herself, to greet fair Kriemhild, with beautiful women and bold knights,
a day's journey or they spied the guests. And strangers and friends were
pressed alike for room, till that they came to a great castle that hight
Xanten, where Siegfried and his wife were crowned afterward.
Siegmund and Sieglind kissed Kriemhild, and Siegfried also, many times
with smiling mouth for their sorrow was ended; and Kriemhild's attendants
got a gracious welcome.
They brought the guests into Siegmund's palace, and lifted the fair
damsels from the horses. There were knights enow eager to serve them.
Howso rich had been the hightide by the Rhine, here the knights received
costlier apparel than ever before in their lives. Many marvels might be
told of their splendour. So they sat in honour and had plenty. The
courtiers wore robes of red gold embroidered with precious stones and
silk, that Sieglind, the noble queen, gave them.
Then Siegmund spake in presence of his kinsmen, "Be it known to you all
that Siegfried shall henceforth wear my crown." They of the Netherland
heard the news gladly. So he made over to Siegfried his crown and his
rule and his land, that he became lord and king. And to him that he
acquitted, and to him that he condemned, it was done according to his
judgment. The husband of Kriemhild was a man greatly feared.
Thus, in high honour (and this is sooth that I say) he lived and reigned,
a crowned king, till the tenth year, when a son was born, whereby the
king's liegemen saw their desire accomplished. They hasted and
christened him, and called him Gunther, after his uncle; that was no
shame, for, took he after his kinsmen, he must grow to be a bold man.
They reared him well, as was meet.
And in these days Sieglind died, and many wept because death had taken
her. Then Uta's child held supreme rule, as befitted so rich a queen.
Now at the same time, they tell us, in Gunther's land of Burgundy, the
beautiful Brunhild had borne a son, that, for love of the hero, they
named Siegfried. With all care they trained him. Gunther let him be
reared by his liegemen at the court in all virtues that might serve him
if he grew to be a man. Soon, alack, by an evil fate, he was to lose all
The fame of Siegfried's court ceased not to be noised abroad, and with
what worship his knights abode there; great was the fame also of
Gunther's chosen warriors in Burgundy.
The Nibelungs held their land in fee from Siegfried, and none of his
kinsmen were so rich as he. For he was overlord to the knights of
Shilbung, and owned the treasure of the two brothers. Wherefore his
heart was the more uplifted.
The biggest hoard that ever hero won was his; that he had got by means of
his strong hand before a mountain, and for the which he smote many heroes
He had honour to the full; yet, if he had possessed nothing at all, none
that saw him had denied him to be the prowest champion that ever rode a
horse. With good cause the folk feared him.
How Gunther Invited Siegfried to the Hightide
Now there passed not a day but Gunther's wife thought, "Surely Kriemhild
beareth her too proudly. Siegfried, her husband, is our vassal. Little
service hath he done for his land."
She pondered it secretly in her heart; for it irked her that they were
strangers, and she had fain known wherefore Siegfried's country yielded
no tribute. She prayed the king that she might behold Kriemhild again,
and told him her secret thought. But her word pleased him not. "How
could we bid them hither?" said the great king. "It cannot be. They
dwell too far off. I durst not do it."
But Brunhild answered proudly, "However mighty a king's vassal may be, he
must do what his lord commandeth."
But Gunther laughed, for he took it not as homage when he saw Siegfried.
She said further, "Dear lord, for my love, help me thereto, that
Siegfried and thy sister visit us, and that we see them here. Truly
nothing could rejoice me more. Thy sister's courtesy, her gentle
breeding - with what delight my heart dwelleth thereon, and how we sat
together the day I became thy wife! That she chose Siegfried to her
husband did her honour."
She begged the king for it so long that he said, "Certes! no guests would
I gladlier welcome, and willingly I grant it thee. I will bid them
hither by my envoys."
The queen answered then, "Send not thither without my knowledge, and
inform me, without fail, when my dear friends shall come. And tell me,
also, whom thou wilt charge with the embassy."
"That will I," said the king. "I will despatch thirty of my knights."
He bade them to his presence, and sent greeting by them to Siegfried's
country. Brunhild clad them in rich apparel, and the king spake, "Ye
knights shall keep back naught wherewith I charge you, but shall say to
stark Siegfried, and to my sister, that no man in this world is better
minded to them than I be. Bid them both hither to the Rhine. If they
come, I and my wife will cease not to be beholden to them. Or midsummer
is here, he and his knights will find among us many to do them worship.
Greet King Siegmund also from me, and say that I and my friends are his
true servants; and entreat my sister that, without fail, she ride hither
to her friends. No hightide were fitter for her."
Brunhild and Uta, and their women, commended them to the fair women and
the bold men at Siegfried's court.
So the envoys made haste to do the king's bidding. They stood ready for
the road; horses and harness were there, and they took their leave. They
pushed forward with the escort the king gave them. Inside of twelve days
they reached the land and the castle of the Nibelungs, and found
Siegfried on the march of Norway. Horses and men were weary with the
They brought word to both Siegfried and Kriemhild that knights were come,
clad after the manner of the Burgundians.
And Kriemhild sprang from the couch where she lay resting, and bade a
maiden run to the window, who saw Gary standing in the courtyard, and his
knights that were sent with him. They brought welcome news to her
She cried to the king, "Seest thou, standing there in the courtyard, them
that be come with stark Gary, that my brother Gunther hath sent down the
And Siegfried answered, "They are welcome."
All the folk ran when they saw the envoys and greeted them with kind
words. Siegfried was right glad at their coming. Lodging was given to
them, and their horses were seen to, whereupon they went straightway
where Siegfried sat by Kriemhild. Both were joyful to behold them. The
king and his wife rose quickly to receive Gary and Gunther's knights of
Burgundy. And they bade Gary sit down.
"Nay, let us way-weary guests stand while we tell thee Gunther's
message. After, we will sit. Gunther and Brunhild, with whom it is
well, and Queen Uta, your mother, and Giselher, the youth, and eke
Gernot, and your nearest kinsmen, send greeting from Burgundy."
"Now God reward them," said Siegfried; "I hold them for good and true, as
a man should trust his friends. The like doth their sister. Say on,
whether they be of good cheer. Hath any done my wife's brethren a hurt
since we parted? Tell me, for I will stand by them till their foemen rue
Margrave Gary, the good knight, answered, "It is well with them, and they
are of good cheer. They bid thee to a hightide, and were right glad if
thou camest. They bid my Lady also. So soon as the winter shall be
ended, before midsummer, they would see you."
But Siegfried said, "That can hardly be."
Whereupon Gary the Burgundian answered, "Your mother Uta, Gernot, and
Giselher, pray that ye deny them not. Every day I hear them lament that
ye dwell so far. Brunhild my mistress, and her maidens, rejoice in the
hope to see you."
The message seemed good to Kriemhild. Gary was her kinsman; and the king
bade him sit, and tarried not longer to let pour the wine for the guests.
Thither came Siegmund also, when he saw the messengers, and he spake to
them on friendly wise. "Ye be welcome, ye knights, Gunther's men; since
Siegfried won Kriemhild to wife, ye should have been seen here oftener,
if you would have proved your love."
They answered that, if he willed it, they would come gladly, for that joy
had taken from them their mickle weariness.
Then they bade the envoys sit, and set meats before them, whereof
Siegfried gave order they should have enough. Nine days they were kept
at the court, till at last they murmured, saying that if they tarried
longer, they durst not return again to their land.
Meanwhile Siegfried had let summon his friends. He asked them their mind
about his journey. "Gunther my brother-in-law, and his kinsmen, have
bidden me to a hightide at the Rhine, and Kriemhild also, that she ride
with me. And I were fain to go if his country lay not so far off. Now
counsel me, dear friends, for the best. Had I to harry thirty lands for
their sake, my hand were at their service."
His knights made answer, "If thou wouldst ride to this hightide, we
counsel thee on this wise: take with thee a thousand knights to the
Rhine, that thou mayest have honour among the Burgundians."
Then said King Siegmund of the Netherland, "Wherefore has thou not told
me thou wouldest to the hightide? If thou hast naught against it, I will
ride with thee, and will take an hundred knights with me to add to thy
"Wilt thou do so, dear father mine?" said bold Siegfried. "Right welcome
art thou. Inside of twelve days we will forth."
To them that desired it horses and apparel were given.
Since the king was minded to make the journey, he sent away the swift
envoys, and charged them with a message to his wife's brethren at the
Rhine, that he would come right gladly to their hightide.
Siegfried and Kriemhild (so runneth the tale) gave so much to the envoys
that their horses scarce sufficed to carry it, for Siegfried was a rich
king. So, well content, they drave their sumpters before them.
Then Siegfried and Siegmund equipped their folk, and Eckewart, the
Margrave, bade bring forth the best women's vesture that was in
Siegfried's whole land. They made ready saddles and shields, and to the
knights and the gentlewomen that were to ride with them, they gave
freely, that they lacked naught. Siegfried led many valiant knights to
The envoys hasted on their way, and when bold Gary was come into
Burgundy, they greeted him fair. The riders sprang from their horses
Gunther's hall. And young and old, as their wont is, pressed round them
and asked for news. But the good knight answered, "Ye shall have it when
I have told it to the king." And he passed on with his comrades to
The king sprang from his seat for joy, and Brunhild thanked them that
they were so soon back again. To the envoys spake Gunther then, "How
fareth it with Siegfried, that hath ever done well by me?"
And Gary answered, "He and thy sister waxed red for joy. Kinder greeting
sent man never to his friends than Siegfried and his father Siegmund send
Then said the queen to the Margrave, "Tell me, I prithee; cometh
Kriemhild with them? And hath her body lost nothing of its fairness?"
Whereto Gary answered, "They will both come, and, with them, many
Then Uta bade the envoys to her presence, and showed by her questions
what most she desired to know - how it fared with Kriemhild. He told her
how he had found her, and that she would come thither shortly.
They declared also the envoy's fee that Siegfried had given them: the
apparel and the gold. All the knights of the three kings saw it, and
"It is easy for him to give," quoth Hagen. "He could not spend it if he
lived for ever, for the hoard of the Nibelungs is in his hand. Would it
came our way!"
All the court, both knights and ladies, were glad at their coming. The
servants of the three kings were not idle, and started to raise the high-
seats. Hunolt and Sindolt had work enow, for they were the sewer and the
butler, and they arranged the chairs; to Ortwin, for that he helped them,
Gunther gave thanks. As for Rumult, the chief cook, I ween he knew how
to order his underlings. Ha! what meats they made ready against the
feast, in their huge cauldrons and pots and pans.
The women too busied them, and saw to their robes, whereon they
embroidered gold and bright shining stones, that, when they wore them,
they might be well esteemed.
How They Rode to the Hightide
Leave we all this work now, to tell how Kriemhild and her maidens
journeyed from the Nibelung land to the Rhine.
Never sumpters bare such rich apparel. They sent many travelling chests
on before them, and Siegfried and the queen rode with their friends and
dreamed on joy - that was to end in deep sorrow. As needs was, they left
their son at home. Also for him was the journey woeful: his father and
his mother he saw nevermore. Siegmund, the king, rode with them, that
had, certes, not been there, had he known what was to betide them. Never
sorrow was worse than his for dear ones.
They sent forward messengers betimes, and a proud host of Uta's kin, and
Gunther's knights, came forth to meet them. Gunther busied him to show
his guests worship. He went to Brunhild and said, "How did Kriemhild
welcome thee when thou camest first to this land? I would have thee
welcome her even so."
She answered, "I will do it gladly, for I have cause to love her."
The king spake further, "They come to-morrow early. If thou wilt receive
them, lose no time, lest they surprise us here in the castle, for never
have I welcomed dearer guests."
So she gave orders to her women to seek out goodly robes, the best that
they had, and to wear them; the which, I trow, they did gladly.
Gunther's men also hasted to meet them; all that he had he led forth; and
the queen rode in royal state. Mickle joy was at that greeting. With
high honour they welcomed them, yea, with even more, the folk said, than
Kriemhild had showed Brunhild aforetime; and the hearts of them that saw
it were uplifted. Then Siegfried came up with his men, and the heroes
coursed to and fro on the plain, that none had ease for the dust and the
When the king saw Siegfried and Siegmund, on what loving wise he spake!
"Ye are welcome to me and to all my men. Right joyful have ye made us by
"Now God reward thee," answered Siegmund, the worshipful man. "Since my
son Siegfried won thee to his kinsman, my desire hath ever been to behold
Whereupon Gunther said, "That it hath come to pass doth rejoice me."
Siegfried was received with the honour that was his due; and none wished
him ill. From Gernot and Giselher, also, dear guests had never better
Then the two queens drew nigh to each other.
The saddles were emptied, and the women alighted n the grass with the
help of the heroes, that were not slow, I trow, with their service!
The queens met, and the knights rejoiced at so fair a greeting, and
ceased not to wait upon the fair women. Hero now to hero held out the
hand of welcome; the women courtseyed and kissed, and Gunther's and
Siegfried's men looked on well content.
They tarried not longer, but rode to the town, where the host bade it be
shown plain that the guests were welcome to Burgundy. There, too, there
was tilting before the maidens. Hagen of Trony and Ortwin approved them
mighty, for none durst gainsay their command; and they showed the dear
guests much honour.
The clash of shields, and the din of piercing and smiting, rose before
the castle gate. Long time stood the host there with his guest or they
were all gone in, for in pastime the hours flew by. Then they rode
merrily to the great reception hall. Gorgeous footcloths, rich and
cunningly fashioned, hung down from the saddles of the beautiful women.
Gunther's serving-men hasted forward, and led them to their chambers.
All this time Brunhild kept not her eyes from Kriemhild, that was,
certes, fair enow, and of brighter hue than the gold she wore.
Over all the town of Worms was heard the mirth of the company. King
Gunther bade Dankwart, his marshal, see to them well, who gave them
goodly quarters. Without and within they feasted; never were strangers
fairer entreated; all that they desired stood ready for them, for so rich
was the king, that to none was aught denied. They were served well and
Then the king went to table with his guests. Siegfried they let sit
where he had sat aforetime, and many a proud warrior strode after him to
the feast. Twelve hundred knights were in the circle at the table;
whereat Brunhild thought, "Never afore was vassal so rich." Nevertheless
she was well minded to him, nor contrived aught to his hurt.
Many a rich cloak was wetted where the king sat that night, with the wine
that the butlers ceased not to pour; for they toiled sore to serve all.
As hath still been the custom at hightides, the women and the damsels
were led to their beds betimes; and to each guest, from whecesoever he
came, the host gave honour and gifts enow.
When the night was ended, and the morning shone, precious stones sparkled
on the rich apparel that the hands of the women drew forth from the
travelling chests. Many a rich robe was sought out.
Or it was well day, knights and squires gathered before the hall, and the
din of tourney arose again before the early mass that they sang for the
king. Gunther thanked the young heroes. Then the trumpets were blown
lustily, and the noise of drums and flutes were so loud that Worms, the
wide town, rang therewith.
Everywhere the bold heroes sprang to horse, and tourney was held in the
land. Many young hearts were there that beat high, and, under their
shields, many a doughty knight. In the windows sat stately dames and
beautiful maidens, featly adorned, and gazed down at the joisting of the
warriors, till that the king himself began to tilt with his kinsmen. So
they passed the time, nor thought it long.
Then the bells rang from the dome, whereat they led up the horses, and
the women rode forth, with many stark knights following the queens. They
alighted before the minster, on the grass. Still was Brunhild well
minded to her guests, and, with their crowns on, they went into the great
church. But soon jealousy made an end of their love.
When the mass was sung they rode home in state, and went merrily to
table. Nor was there an end of joy at the hightide till the eleventh day.
Then the queen thought, "I can hide it no longer. I must contrive by
some means that Kriemhild tell me why her husband, that is our vassal,
hath so long paid us no tribute. I cannot lose this riddle."
So she waited for the hour when the Devil tempted her, and she turned the
joy of the hightide to dole. For it pressed on her heart, and must needs
come to light. By reason thereof many lands were filled with mourning.
How the Queens Quarrelled
One day, before vespers, there arose in the court of the castle a mighty
din of knights that tilted for pastime, and the folk ran to see them.
The queens sat together there, thinking each on a doughty warrior. Then
said fair Kriemhild, "I have a husband of such might that all these lands
might well be his."
But Brunhild answered, "How so? If there lived none other save thou and
he, our kingdom might haply be his, but while Gunther is alive it could
But Kriemhild said, "See him there. How he surpasseth the other knights,
as the bright moon the stars! My heart is uplifted with cause."
Whereupon Brunhild answered, "Howso valiant thy husband, comely and fair,
thy brother Gunther excelleth him, for know that he is the first among
But Kriemhild said, "My praise was not idle; for worshipful is my husband
in many things. Trow it, Brunhild. He is, at the least, thy husband's
"Mistake me not in thine anger, Kriemhild. Neither is my word idle; for
they both said, when I saw them first, and the king vanquished me in the
sports, and on knightly wise won my love, that Siegfried was his man.
Wherefore I hold him for a vassal, since I heard him say it."
Then Kriemhild cried, "Evil were my lot if that were true. How had my
brothers given me to a vassal to wife? Prithee, of thy courtesy, cease
from such discourse."
"That will I not," answered Brunhild. "Thereby should I lose many
knights that, with him, owe us homage."
Whereat fair Kriemhild waxed very wroth. "Lose them thou must, for any
service he will do thee. He is nobler even than Gunther, my noble
brother. Wherefore, spare me thy foolish words. I wonder, since he is
thy vassal, and thou art so much mightier than we, that for so long time
he hath failed to pay tribute. Of a truth thine arrogancy irketh me."
"Thou vauntest thyself too high," cried the queen; "I would see now
whether thy body be holden in like honour with mine."
Both the women were angry.
Kriemhild answered, "That shalt thou see straightway. Since thou hast
called Siegfried thy vassal, the knights of both kings shall see this day
whether I dare enter the minster before thee, the queen. For I would
have thee know that I am noble and free, and that my husband is of more
worship than thine. Nor will I be chidden by thee. To-day thou shalt
see thy vassals go at court before the Burgundian knights, and me more
honoured than any queen that ever wore a crown."
Fierce was the wrath of the women.
"If thou art no vassal," said Brunhild, "thou and thy women shall walk
separate from my train when we go to the minster."
And Kriemhild answered, "Be it so."
"Now adorn ye, my maidens," said Siegfried's wife, "that I be not
shamed. If ye have rich apparel, show it this day. She shall take back
what her mouth hath spoken."
She needed not to bid twice; they sought out their richest vesture, and
dames and damsels were soon arrayed.
Then the wife of the royal host went forth with her attendants. Fair to
heart's desire were clad Kriemhild and the forty and three maidens that
she had brought with her to the Rhine. Bright shone the stuffs, woven in
Araby, whereof their robes were fashioned. And they came to the minster,
where Siegfried's knights waited for them.
The folk marvelled much to see the queens apart, and going not together
as afore. Many a warrior was to rue it.
Gunther's wife stood before the minster, and the knights dallied in
converse with the women, till that Kriemhild came up with her meiny. All
that noble maidens had ever worn was but as a wind to what these had on.
So rich was Kriemhild that thirty king's wives together had not been as
gorgeous as she was. None could deny, though they had wished it, that
the apparel Kriemhild's maidens wore that day was the richest they had
ever seen. Kriemhild did this on purpose to anger Brunhild.
So they met before the minster. And Brunhild, with deadly spite, cried
out to Kriemhild to stand still. "Before the queen shall no vassal go."
Out then spake Kriemhild, for she was wroth. "Better hadst thou held thy
peace. Thou hast shamed thine own body. How should the leman of a
vassal become a king's wife?"
"Whom namest thou leman?" cried the queen.
"Even thee," answered Kriemhild. "For it was Siegfried my husband, and
not my brother, that won thee first. Where were thy senses? It was
surely ill done to favor a vassal so. Reproaches from thee are much
"Verily," cried Brunhild, "Gunther shall hear of it."
"What is that to me? Thine arrogancy hath deceived thee. Thou hast
called me thy vassal. Know now of a truth it hath irked me, and I am
thine enemy evermore."
Then Brunhild began to weep, and Kriemhild tarried not longer, but went
with her attendants into the minster before the king's wife. There was
deadly hate, and bright eyes grew wet and dim.
Whether they prayed or sang, the service seemed too long to Brunhild, for
her heart and her mind were troubled, the which many a bold and good man
paid for afterward.
Brunhild stopped before the minster with her women, for she thought,
"Kriemhild, the foul-mouthed woman, shall tell me further whereof she so
loud accuseth me. If he hath boasted of this thing, he shall answer for
it with his life."
Then Kriemhild with her knights came forth, and Brunhild began, "Stop!
thou hast called me a wanton and shalt prove it, for know that thy words
irk me sore."
Said Kriemhild, "Let me pass. With this gold that I have on my hand I
can prove it. Siegfried brought it when he came from thee."
It was a heavy day for Brunhild. She said, "That gold so precious was
stolen from me, and hath been hidden these many years. Now I know who
hath taken it." Both the women were furious.
"I am no thief," cried Kriemhild. "Hadst thou prized thine honour thou
hadst held thy peace, for, with this girdle round my waist, I can prove
my word, and that Siegfried was verily thy leman." She wore a girdle of
silk of Nineveh, goodly enow, and worked with precious stones.
When Brunhild saw it she started to weep. And soon Gunther knew it, and
all his men, for the queen cried, "Bring hither the King of Rhineland; I
would tell him how his sister hath mocked me, and sayeth openly that I be
The king came with his warriors, and, when he saw that his dear one wept,
he spake kindly, "What aileth thee, dear wife?"
She answered, "Shamed must I stand, for thy sister would part me from
mine honour? I make my plaint to thee. She proclaimeth aloud that
Siegfried hath had me to his leman."
Gunther answered, "Evilly hath she done."
"She weareth here a girdle I have long lost, and my red gold. Woe is me
that ever I was born! If thou clearest me not from this shame, I will
never love thee more."
Said Gunther, "Bid him hither, that he confess whether he hath boasted of
this, or no."
They summoned Siegfried, who, when he saw their anger and knew not the
cause, spake quickly, "Why weep these women? Tell me straight; and
wherefore am I summoned?"
Whereto Gunther answered, "Right vexed am I. Brunhild, my wife, telleth
me here that thou hast boasted thou wert her leman. Kriemhild declareth
this. Hast thou done it, O knight?"
Siegfried answered, "Not I. If she hath said so, I will rest not till
she repent it. I swear with a high oath, in the presence of all thy
knights, that I said not this thing."
The king of the Rhine made answer, "So be it. If thou swear the oath
here, I will acquit thee of the falsehood." Then the Burgundians stood
round in a ring, and Siegfried swore it with his hand; whereupon the
great king said, "Verily, I hold thee guiltless, nor lay to thy charge
the word my sister imputeth to thee."
Said Siegfried further, "If she rejoiceth to have troubled thy fair wife,
I am grieved beyond measure." The knights glanced at each other.
"Women must be taught to bridle their tongues. Forbid proud speech to
thy wife: I will do the like to mine. Such bitterness and pride are a
Angry words have divided many men. Brunhild made such dole, that
Gunther's men had pity on her. And Hagen of Trony went to her and asked
what ailed her, for he found her weeping. She told him the tale, and he
sware straightway that Kriemhild's husband should pay for it, or never
would Hagen be glad again.
While they talked together, Ortwin and Gernot came up, and the warriors
counselled Siegfried's death. But when Giselher, Uta's fair child, drew
nigh and heard them, he spake out with true heart, "Alack, good knights,
what would ye do? How hath Siegfried deserved such hate that he should
lose his life? A woman is lightly angered."
"Shall we rear bastards?" cried Hagen. "That were small honour to good
knights. I will avenge on him the boast that he hath made, or I will
But the king himself said, "Good, and not evil, hath he done to us. Let
him live. Wherefore should I hate the knight? He hath ever been true to
But Ortwin of Metz said, "His great strength shall not avail him. Allow,
O Lord, that I challenge him to his death." So, without cause, they
banded against him. Yet none had urged it further, had not Hagen tempted
Gunther every day, saying, that if Siegfried lived not, many kings' lands
were subject to him.
Whereat the warrior began to grieve.
Meanwhile they let the matter lie, and returned to the tourney. Ha! what
stark spears they brake before Kriemhild, atween the minster and the
palace; but Gunther's men were wroth.
Then said the king, "Give over this deadly hate. For our weal and honour
he was born. Thereto the man is so wonderly stark and grim, that, if he
were ware of this, none durst stand against him."
"Not so," said Hagen. "Assure thee on that score. For I will contrive
secretly that he pay for Brunhild's weeping. Hagen is his foe evermore."
But Gunther said, "How meanest thou?"
And Hagen answered, "On this wise. Men that none here knoweth shall ride
as envoys into this land and declare war. Whereupon thou wilt say before
thy guests that thou must to battle with thy liegemen. When thou hast
done this, he will promise to help thee. Then he shall die, after I have
learnt a certain thing from his wife."
Evilly the king followed Hagen, and they plotted black treason against
the chosen knight, without any suspecting it. So, through the quarrel of
two women, died many warriors.
How Siegfried Was Betrayed
On the fourth morning, thirty and two men were seen riding to the court.
They brought word to Gunther that war was declared against him. The
women were woeful when they heard this lie.
The envoys won leave to go into the king, and they said they were
Ludger's men, that Siegfried's hand had overcome in battle and brought
captive into Gunther's land.
The king greeted them, and bade them sit, but one of them said, "Let us
stand, till that we have declared the message wherewith we are charged to
thee. Know that thou hast to thy foemen many a mother's son. Ludger and
Ludgast, whom thou hast aforetime evilly entreated, ride hither to make
war against thee in this land."
The king fell in a rage, as if he had known naught thereof. Then they
gave the false messengers good lodging. How could Siegfried or any other
guess their treason, whereby, or all was done, they themselves perished?
The king went whispering up and down with his friends. Hagen of Trony
gave him no peace. Many of the knights were fain to let it drop, but
Hagen would not be turned from it.
On a day that Siegfried found them whispering, he asked them, "Wherefore
are the king and his men so sorrowful? If any hath done aught to their
hurt, I will stand by them to avenge it."
Gunther answered, "I grieve not without cause. Ludgast and Ludger ride
hither to war against me in my land."
Then said the bold knight, "Siegfried's arm will withstand them on such
wise, that ye shall all come off with honour. I will do to these
warriors even as I did aforetime. Waste will be their lands and their
castles, or I be done. I pledge my head thereto. Thou and thy men shall
tarry here at home, and I will ride forth with my knights that I have
with me. I serve thee gladly, and will prove it. Doubt not that thy
foemen shall suffer scathe at my hand."
"These be good words," answered the king, as he were truly glad, and
craftily the false man bowed low.
Then said Siegfried further, "Have no fear."
The knights of Burgundy made ready for war, they and their squires, and
dissembled before Siegfried and his men. Siegfried bade them of the
Netherland lose no time, and they sought out their harness.
Then spake stark Siegfried, "Tarry here at home, Siegmund, my father. If
God prosper us, we shall return or long to the Rhine. Meanwhile, be thou
of good cheer here by the king."
They made as if to depart, and bound on the standard. Many of Gunther's
knights knew nothing of how the matter stood, and a mighty host gathered
round Siegfried. They bound their helmets and their coats of mail on to
the horses and stood ready. Then went Hagen of Trony to Kriemhild, to
take his leave of her, for they would away.
"Well for me," said Kriemhild, "that ever I won to husband a man that
standeth so true by his friends, as doth Siegfried by my kinsmen. Right
proud am I. Bethink thee now, Hagen, dear friend, how that in all things
I am at thy service, and have ever willed thee well. Requite me through
my husband, that I love, and avenge not on him what I did to Brunhild.
Already it repenteth me sore. My body hath smarted for it, that ever I
troubled her with my words. Siegfried, the good knight, hath seen to
Whereto Hagen answered, "Ye will shortly be at one again. But Kriemhild,
prithee tell me wherein I can serve thee with Siegfried, thy husband, and
I will do it, for I love none better."
"I should fear naught for his life in battle, but that he is foolhardy,
and of too proud a courage. Save for that, he were safe enow."
Then said Hagen, "Lady, if thou fearest hurt for him in battle, tell me
now by what device I may hinder it, and I will guard him afoot and on
She answered, "Thou art my cousin, and I thine. To thy faith I commend
my dear husband, and thou mayst watch and keep him."
Then she told him what she had better have left unsaid.
"My husband is stark and bold. When that he slew the dragon on the
mountain, he bathed him in its blood; wherefore no weapon can pierce
him. Nevertheless, when he rideth in battle, and spears fly from the
hands of heroes, I tremble lest I lose him. Alack! for Siegfried's sake
how oft have I been heavy of my cheer! And now, dear cousin, I will
trust thee with the secret, and tell thee, that thou mayst prove thy
faith, where my husband may be wounded. For that I know thee honourable,
I do this. When the hot blood flowed from the wound of the dragon, and
Siegfried bathed therein, there fell atween his shoulders the broad leaf
of a lime tree. There one might stab him, and thence is my care and
Then answered Hagen of Trony, "Sew, with thine own hand, a small sign
upon his outer garment, that I may know where to defend him when we stand
She did it to profit the knight, and worked his doom thereby. She said,
"I will sew secretly, with fine silk, a little cross upon his garment,
and there, O knight, shalt thou guard to me my husband when ye ride in
the thick of the strife, and he withstandeth his foemen in the fierce
"That will I do, dear lady," answered Hagen.
Kriemhild thought to serve Siegfried; so was the hero betrayed.
Then Hagen took his leave and went forth glad; and his king bade him say
what he had learned.
"If thou wouldst turn from the journey, let us go hunting instead; for I
have learned the secret, and have him in my hand. Wilt thou contrive
"That will I," said the king.
And the king's men rejoiced. Never more, I ween, will knight do so
foully as did Hagen, when he bade his faith with the queen.
The next morning Siegfried, with his thousand knights, rode merrily
forth; for he thought to avenge his friends. And Hagen rode nigh him,
and spied at his vesture. When he saw the mark, he sent forward two of
his men secretly, to ride back to them with another message: that Ludger
bade tell the king his land might remain at peace.
Loth was Siegfried to turn his rein or had he done battle for his
friends. Gunther's vassals scare held him back. Then he rode to the
king, that thanked him.
"Now, God reward thee, Siegfried, my kinsman, that thou didst grant my
prayer so readily. Even so will I do by thee, and that justly. I hold
thee trustiest of all my friends. Seeing we be quit of this war, let us
ride a hunting to the Odenwald after the bear and the boar, as I have
Hagen, the false man, had counselled this.
"Let it be told to my guests straightway that I will ride early. Whoso
would hunt with me, let him be ready betimes. But if any would tarry
behind for pastime with the women, he shall do it, and please me thereby."
Siegfried answered on courtly wise, "I will hunt with thee gladly, and
will ride to the forest, if thou lend me a huntsman and some brachs."
"Will one suffice?" asked Gunther. "I will lend thee four that know the
forest well, and the tracks of the game, that thou come not home empty-
Then Siegfried rode to his wife.
Meanwhile Hagen had told the king how he would trap the hero. Let all
men evermore avoid such foul treason. When the false man had contrived
his death, they told all the others. Giselher and Gernot were not
hunting with the rest. I know not for what grudge they warned him not.
But they paid dear for it.
How Siegfried Was Slain
Gunther and Hagen, the fierce warriors, went hunting with false intent in
the forest, to chase the boar, the bear, and the wild bull, with their
sharp spears. What fitter sport for brave men?
Siegfried rode with them in kingly pomp. They took with them good store
of meats. By a cool stream he lost his life, as Brunhild, King Gunther's
wife, had devised it.
But or he set out, and when the hunting-gear was laid ready on the
sumpters that they were to take across the Rhine, he went to Kriemhild,
that was right doleful of her cheer. He kissed his lady on the mouth.
"God grant I may see thee safe and well again, and thou me. Bide here
merry among thy kinsfolk, for I must forth."
Then she thought on the secret she had betrayed to Hagen, but durst not
tell him. The queen wept sore that ever she was born, and made
She said, "Go not hunting. Last night I dreamed an evil dream: how that
two wild boars chased thee over the heath; and the flowers were red with
blood. Have pity on my tears, for I fear some treachery. There be haply
some offended, that pursue us with deadly hate. Go not, dear lord; in
good faith I counsel it."
But he answered, "Dear love, I go but for a few days. I know not any
that beareth me hate. Thy kinsmen will me well, nor have I deserved
otherwise at their hand."
"Nay, Siegfried, I fear some mischance. Last night I dreamed an evil
dream: how that two mountains fell on thee, and I saw thee no more. If
thou goest, thou wilt grieve me bitterly."
But he caught his dear one in his arms and kissed her close; then he took
leave of her and rode off.
She never saw him alive again.
They rode thence into a deep forest to seek sport. The king had many
bold knights with him, and rich meats, that they had need of for the
journey. Sumpters passed laden before them over the Rhine, carrying
bread and wine, and flesh and fish, and meats of all sorts, as was
fitting for a rich king.
The bold huntsmen encamped before the green wood where they were to hunt,
on a broad meadow. Siegfried also was there, which was told to the
king. And they set a watch round the camp.
Then said stark Siegfried, "Who will into the forest and lead us to the
"If we part or we begin the chase in the wood," said Hagen, "we shall
know which is the best sportsman. Let us divide the huntsmen and the
hounds; then let each ride alone as him listeth, and he who hunteth the
best shall be praised." So they started without more ado.
But Siegfried said, "One hound that hath been well trained for the chase
will suffice for me. There will be sport enow!"
Then an old huntsman took a limehound, and brought the company where
there was game in plenty. They hunted down all the beasts they started,
as good sportsmen should.
Whatsoever the limehound started, the hero of the Netherland slew with
his hand. His horse ran so swift that naught escaped him; he won greater
praise than any in the chase. In all things he was right manly. The
first that he smote to the death was a half-bred boar. Soon after, he
encountered a grim lion, that the limehound started. This he shot with
his bow and a sharp arrow; the lion made only three springs or he fell.
Loud was the praise of his comrades. Then he killed, one after the
other, a buffalo, an elk, four stark ureoxen, and a grim shelk. His
horse carried him so swiftly that nothing outran him. Deer and hind
escaped him not.
The limehound tracked a wild boar next that began to flee. But Siegfried
rode up and barred the path, whereat the monster ran at the knight. He
slew him with his sword. Not so lightly had another done it.
They leashed their limehound then, and told the Burgundians how Siegfried
had prospered. Whereupon his huntsman said, "Prithee, leave something
alive; thou emptiest to us both mountain and forest." And Siegfried
The noise of the chase was all round them; hill and wood rang with
shouting and the baying of dog, for the huntsmen had loosed twenty and
four hounds. Many a beast perished that day, for each thought to win the
prize of the chase. But when stark Siegfried rode to the tryst-fire,
they saw that could not be.
The hunt was almost over. The sportsmen brought skins and game enow with
them to the camp. No lack of meat for cooking was there, I ween.
Then the king bade tell the knights that he would dine. And they blew a
blast on a horn, that told the king was at the tryst-fire.
Said one of Siegfried's huntsmen, "I heard the blast of a horn bidding us
back to the camp. I will answer it." And they kept blowing to assemble
Siegfried bade quit the wood. His horse bare him smoothly, and the
others pricked fast behind. The noise roused a grim bear, whereat the
knight cried tot hem that came after him, "Now for sport! Slip the dog,
for I see a bear that shall with us to the tryst-fire. He cannot escape
us, if he ran ever so fast."
They slipped the limehound; off rushed the bear. Siegfried thought to
run him down, but he came to a ravine, and could not get to him; then the
bear deemed him safe. But the proud knight sprang from his horse, and
pursued him. The beast had no shelter. It could not escape from him,
and was caught by his hand, and, or it could wound him, he had bound it,
that it could neither scratch nor bite. Then he tied it to his saddle,
and, when he had mounted up himself, he brought it to the tryst-fire for
How right proudly he rode to the camping ground! His boar-spear was
mickle, stark and broad. His sword hung down to the spur, and his
hunting-horn was of ruddy gold. Of better hunting-gear I never heard
tell. His coat was black samite, and his hat was goodly sable. His
quiver was richly laced, and covered with a panther's hide for the sake
of the sweet smell. He bare, also, a bow that none could draw but
himself, unless with a windlass. His cloak was a lynx-skin, pied from
head to foot, and embroidered over with gold on both sides. Also Balmung
had he done on, whereof the edges were so sharp that it clave every
helmet it touched. I ween the huntsman was berry of his cheer. Yet, to
tell you the whole, I must say how his rich quiver was filled with good
arrows, gilt on the shaft, and broad a hand's breadth or more. Swift and
sure was the death of him that he smote therewith.
So the knight rode proudly from the forest, and Gunther's men saw him
coming, and ran and held his horse.
When he had alighted, he loosed the band from the paws and from the mouth
of the bear that he had bound to his saddle.
So soon as they saw the bear, the dogs began to bark. The animal tried
to win back to the wood, and all the folk fell in great fear. Affrighted
by the noise, it ran through the kitchen. Nimbly started the scullions
from their place by the fire. Pots were upset and the brands strewed
over all. Alack! the good meats that tumbled into the ashes!
Then up sprang the princes and their men. The bear began to growl, and
the king gave order to slip the hounds that were on leash. I'faith, it
had been a merry day if it had ended so.
Hastily, with their bows and spears, the warriors, swift of foot, chased
the bear, but there were so many dogs that none durst shoot among them,
and the forest rang with the din. Then the bear fled before the dogs,
and none could keep pace with him save Kriemhild's husband, that ran up
to him and pierced him dead with his sword, and carried the carcase back
with him to the fire. They that saw it said he was a mighty man.
Then they bade the sportsmen to the table, and they sat down, a goodly
company enow, on a fair meadow. Ha! what dishes, meet for heroes, were
set before them. But the cup-bearers were tardy, that should have
brought the wine. Save for that, knights were never better served. If
there had not been false-hearted men among them, they had been without
reproach. The doomed man had no suspicion that might have warned him,
for his own heart was pure of all deceit. Many that his death profited
not at all had to pay for it bitterly.
Then said Sir Siegfried, "I marvel, since they bring us so much from the
kitchen, that they bring not the wine. If good hunters be entreated so,
I will hunt no more. Certes, I have deserved better at your hands."
Whereto the king at the table answered falsely, "What lacketh to-day we
will make good another time. The blame is Hagen's, that would have us
perish of thirst."
Then said Hagen of Trony, "Dear master, Methought we were to hunt to-day
at Spessart, and I sent the wine thither. For the present we must go
thirsty; another time I will take better care."
But Siegfried cried, "Small thank to him. Seven sumpters with meat and
spiced wines should he have sent here at the least, or, if that might not
be, we should have gone nigher to the Rhine."
Hagen of Trony answered, "I know of a cool spring close at hand. Be not
wroth with me, but take my counsel, and go thither." The which was done,
to the hurt of many warriors. Siegfried was sore athirst and bade push
back the table, that he might go to the spring at the foot of the
mountain. Falsely had the knights contrived it. The wild beasts that
Siegfried's hand had slain they let pile on a waggon and take home, and
they that saw it praised him.
Foully did Hagen break faith with Siegfried. He said, when they were
starting for the broad lime tree, "I hear from all sides that none can
keep pace with Kriemhild's husband when he runneth. Let us see now."
Bold Siegfried of the Netherland answered, "Thou mayst easily prove it,
if thou wilt run with me to the brook for a wager. The praise shall be
to him that winneth there first."
"Let us see then," said Hagen the knight.
And stark Siegfried answered, "If I lose, I will lay me at thy feet in
A glad man was King Gunther when he heard that!
Said Siegfried further, "Nay, I will undertake more. I will carry on me
all that I wear - spear, shield, and hunting gear." Whereupon he girded
on his sword and his quiver in haste. Then the others did off their
clothes, till they stood in their white shirts, and they ran through the
clover like two wild panthers; but bold Siegfried was seen there the
first. Before all men he won the prize in everything. He loosed his
sword straightway, and laid down his quiver. His good spear he leaned
against the lime tree; then the noble guest stood and waited, for his
courtesy was great. He laid down his shield by the stream. Albeit he
was sore athirst, he drank not till that the king had finished, who gave
him evil thanks.
The stream was cool, pure, and good. Gunther bent down to the water, and
rose again when he had drunk. Siegfried had gladly done the like, but he
suffered for his courtesy. Hagen carried his bow and his sword out of
his reach, and sprang back and gripped the spear. Then he spied for the
secret mark on his vesture; and while Siegfried drank from the stream,
Hagen stabbed him where the cross was, that his heart's blood spurted out
on the traitor's clothes. Never since hath knight done so wickedly. He
left the spear sticking deep in his heart, and fled in grimmer haste than
ever he had done from any man on this earth afore.
When Siegfried felt the deep wound, he sprang up maddened from the water,
for the long boar spear stuck out from his heart. He thought to find bow
or sword; if he had, Hagen had got his due. But the sore-wounded man saw
no sword, and had nothing save his shield. He picked it up from the
water's edge and ran at Hagen. King Gunther's man could not escape him.
For all that he was wounded to the death, he smote so mightily that the
shield well-nigh brake, and the precious stones flew out. The noble
guest had fain taken vengeance.
Hagen fell beneath his stroke. The meadow rang loud with the noise of
the blow. If he had had his sword to hand, Hagen had been a dead man.
But the anguish of his wound constrained him. His colour was wan; he
could not stand upright; and the strength of his body failed him, for he
bare death's mark on his white cheek. Fair women enow made dole for him.
Then Kriemhild's husband fell among the flowers. The blood flowed fast
from his wound, and in his great anguish he began to upbraid them that
had falsely contrived his death. "False cowards!" cried the dying
knight. "What availeth all my service to you, since ye have slain me? I
was true to you, and pay the price for it. Ye have done ill by your
friends. Cursed by this deed are your sons yet unborn. Ye have avenged
your spite on my body all too bitterly. For your crime ye shall be
shunned by good knights."
All the warriors ran where he lay stabbed. To many among them it was a
woeful day. They that were true mourned for him, the which the hero had
well deserved of all men.
The King of Burgundy, also, wept for his death, but the dying man said,
"He needeth not to weep for the evil, by whom the evil cometh. Better
had he left it undone, for mickle is his blame."
Then said grim Hagen, "I know not what ye rue. All is ended for us -
care and trouble. Few are they now that will withstand us. Glad am I
that, through me, his might is fallen."
"Lightly mayst thou boast now," said Siegfried; "if I had known thy
murderous hate, it had been an easy thing to guard my body from thee. My
bitterest dole is for Kriemhild, my wife. God pity me that ever I had a
son. For all men will reproach him that he hath murderers to his
kinsmen. I would grieve for that, had I the time."
He said to the king, "Never in this world was so foul a murder as thou
hast done on me. In thy sore need I saved thy life and thine honour.
Dear have I paid for that I did well by thee." With a groan the wounded
man said further, "Yet if thou canst show truth to any on this earth, O
King, show it to my dear wife, that I commend to thee. Let it advantage
her to be thy sister. By all princely honour stand by her. Long must my
father and my knights wait for my coming. Never hath woman won such woe
through a dear one."
He writhed in his bitter anguish, and spake painfully, "Ye shall rue this
foul deed in the days to come. Know this of a truth, that in slaying me
ye have slain yourselves."
The flowers were all wet with blood. He strove with death, but not for
long, for the weapon of death cut too deep. And the bold knight and good
spake no more.
When the warriors saw that the hero was dead, the laid him on a shield of
ruddy gold, and took counsel how they should conceal that Hagen had done
it. Many of them said, "Evil hath befallen us. Ye shall all hide it,
and hold to one tale - when Kriemhild's husband was riding alone in the
forest, robbers slew him."
But Hagen of Trony said, "I will take him back to Burgundy. If she that
hath troubled Brunhild know it, I care not. It concerneth me little if
Of that very brook where Siegfried was slain ye shall hear the truth from
me. In the Odenwald is a village that hight Odenheim, and there the
stream runneth still; beyond doubt it is the same.
How Siegfried Was Mourned and Buried
They tarried there that night, and then crossed the Rhine. Heroes never
went to so woeful a hunt. For one thing that they slew, many women wept,
and many a good knight's body paid for it. Of overweening pride ye shall
hear now, and grim vengeance.
Hagen bade them bear dead Siegfried of the Nibelung land before the
chamber where Kriemhild was, and charged the to lay him secretly outside
the door, that she might find him there when she went forth to mass or it
was day, the which she was wont to do.
The minster bell was rung as the custom was. Fair Kriemhild waked her
maidens, and bade them bring her a light and her vesture.
Then a chamberlain came and found Siegfried. He saw him red with blood,
and his garment all wet, but he knew not yet that he was his king. He
carried the light into the room in his hand, and from him Kriemhild heard
When she would have gone with her women to the minster, the chamberlain
said, "Lady, stop! A murdered knight lieth on the threshold."
"Woe is me!" cried Kriemhild. "What meanest thou by such news?"
Or she knew for certain that it was her husband, she began to think on
Hagen's question, how he might guard him. From that moment her dole
began; for, with his death, she took leave of all joy. She sank on the
floor speechless; they saw the miserable woman lying there. Kriemhild's
woe was great beyond measure, and after her swoon she cried out, that all
the chamber rang.
Then said her attendants, "What if it be a stranger?"
But the blood burst from her mouth by reason of her heart's anguish, and
she said, "Nay, it is Siegfried, my dear husband. Brunhild hath
counselled it, and Hagen hath done it."
The lady bade them show her where the hero lay. She lifted his beautiful
head with her white hands. Albeit he was red with blood, she knew him
straightway. Pitifully the hero of the Netherland lay there.
The gentle, good queen wailed in anguish, "Woe is me for this wrong! Thy
shield is unpierced by swords. Thou liest murdered. If I knew who had
done this deed, I would not rest until he was dead."
All her attendants wailed and cried with their dear mistress, for they
were woe for their noble master that they had lost. Foully had Hagen
avenged Brunhild's anger.
The sorrowful one said, "Go and wake Siegfried's men quickly; and tell
Siegmund also my dole, that he may help me to mourn for brave Siegfried."
Then a messenger ran in haste where Siegfried's heroes of the Nibelung
land lay, and took from them their joy with heavy tidings. They believed
it not, till they heard the wailing.
The messenger also came quickly where the king was. Siegmund slept not.
I ween his heart told him what had happened, and that he would see his
dear son never more.
"Arouse thee, Sir Siegmund! Kriemhild, my lady, hath sent me. For a
wrong hath been done her, that lieth heavier on her heart than any other
hath done. Thou shalt help her to mourn, for it is thy sorrow also."
Up rose Sir Siegmund then, and said, "What is fair Kriemhild's grief,
whereof thou tallest me?"
The messenger answered, weeping, "She mourneth with cause. Bold
Siegfried of the Netherland is slain."
But Siegmund said, "Jest not with these evil tidings of my son, and say
to none that he is slain; for never to my life's end could I mourn him
"If thou believest not what I tell thee, hearken thyself to Kriemhild,
how she maketh dole for Siegfried's death with all her maidens."
Then Siegmund feared and was sore affrighted. With an hundred of his men
he sprang out of his bed; they grasped their long swords and keen, with
their hands, and ran sorrowfully where they heard the sound of weeping.
They thought not on their vesture till they were there, for they had lost
their wits through grief. Mickle woe was buried in their hearts.
Then came Siegmund to Queen Kriemhild, and said, "Woe is me for our
journey hither! Who, among such good friends, hath murderously robbed me
of my child, and thee of thy husband?"
"If I knew that," answered the noble woman, "I were ever his foe with
heart and soul. Trust me, I would so contrive his hurt that all his
friends, by reason of me, would yet weep for sorrow."
Siegmund took the prince in his arms; the grief of his friends was so
great that, with their loud wailing and their weeping, palace and hall
and the town of Worms rang again. None could comfort Siegfried's wife.
They took the clothes off his beautiful body, and washed his wounds and
laid him on a bier, and all his folk were heavy with great grief.
Then spake his knights of the Netherland, "Our hands are ready for
vengeance. He that hath done it is in this house."
Siegfried's men armed them in haste; the valiant knights assembled to the
number of eleven hundred. These had Siegmund, the mighty king, for his
following; and, as his honour bade him, he had gladly avenged the death
of his son. They knew not whom they should fall on, if it were not
Gunther and his men, with whom Siegfried had gone hunting.
But when Kriemhild saw them armed, she was greatly grieved. For all her
dole and her pain, she so feared the death of the Nibelungs at the hand
of her brother's men that she forbade their vengeance, and warned them in
love, as friend doth with dear friend.
The sorrowful queen said, "My lord, Siegmund, what wouldst thou do?
Surely thou knowest not how many bold knights Gunther has. If ye come to
grips with them, ye must certainly perish."
They stood eager for strife with their shields dressed, but the queen
begged and commanded them to forbear; that they would not, grieved her
She said, "My lord Siegmund, let be, till more fitting season, and I will
help thee to avenge my husband. Verily, I will show him that took him
from me that he hath done it to his hurt. Here by the Rhine there are so
many overweening men that I would have thee, for the present, forbear
from battle; for thy one man they have at least the thirty. God do to
them as they have done to us. Tarry here, brave knights, and mourn with
me till it is day, and help me to lay my dear husband in his coffin."
The warriors answered, "Dear lady, be it so."
None might tell to the end the wailing that arose there from knights and
women. It was so loud that they in the town heard it, and the noble
burghers hasted thither, and mourned with the guests, for they were right
sorrowful. They knew no fault in Siegfried for which he had lost his
life, and the good burgesses' wives wept with the women of the court.
They bade the smiths go and make a coffin of silver and of gold, mickle
and stark, and brace it strongly with good steel. Right heavy of their
cheer were all the folk.
The night was ended. They told them it was day, and the queen gave order
to bear the dead knight, her dear husband, to the minster; and all the
friends he had there followed weeping.
When they came to the minster, how many a bell rang out! On all sides
they sang requiems. Thither came King Gunther with his men, and also
grim Hagen, that had better stayed away.
Gunther said, "Dear sister, woe is me for this grief of thine, and that
this great misadventure hath befallen us. We must ever mourn Siegfried's
"Ye do wrongly," said the wailing queen. "If it grieved thee, it had
never happened. I was clean forgotten by thee when thou didst part me
from my dear husband. Would to God thou hadst done it to me instead!"
But they held to their lie, and Kriemhild went on. "Let him that is
guiltless prove it. Let him go up to the bier before all the folk, and
soon we shall know the truth."
It is a great marvel, and ofttimes seen even now, how that, when the
murderer standeth by the dead, the wounds bleed again. And so it fell
then, and Hagen's guilt was plain to all.
The wounds burst open and bled as they had done afore; and they that had
wept already wept now much more. King Gunther said, "Hear the truth. He
was slain by robbers. Hagen did it not."
"These robbers," she answered, "I know well. God grant that his
kinsmen's hands may avenge it. By you, Gunther and Hagen, was it
done." Siegfried's knights had fain fallen on them, but Kriemhild said,
"Help me to bear my woe."
Gernot her brother, and Giselher the youth, both came and found Siegfried
dead; they mourned for him truly, and their eyes were blind with tears.
They wept for Kriemhild's husband from their hearts.
It was time to sing mass, and men and women flocked from all quarters.
Even they that missed him little mourned with all the rest.
Gernot and Giselher said, "Comfort thee, sister, for the dead, for so it
must needs be now. We will make it good to thee while we live." But
comfort her could none.
His coffin was ready by the middle of the day, and they lifted the dead
man from the bier whereupon he lay, but the queen would not let them bury
him yet. All his folk must first toil sore.
They wound him in a rich cloth. Not one, I ween, was there that wept
not. Uta, the noble queen and all her women wailed bitterly for
When the folk heard they sang the requiem, and that Siegfried was in his
chest, they crowded thither, and brought offerings for his soul. Amidst
of his enemies, he had good friends enow.
Then poor Kriemhild said to her chamberlain, "For my sake, stint not thy
labour. For Siegfried's soul, divide his wealth among them that were
well minded to him, and are true to me."
The smallest child, if he understood all, must go with its offering or he
was buried. They sang at the least an hundred masses a day. And great
was the press among Siegfried's friends.
When they had done singing, the folk rose and departed; but Kriemhild
said, "Leave me not alone to watch the valiant knight. With his body
lieth all my joy. Three days and three nights will I keep him here, till
that I have had my fill of my dear husband. What if God let death take
me too? So the sorrow of poor Kriemhild were ended."
The townsfolk went home; and priests, and monks, and all them that had
served Siegfried, she bade tarry. Heavy were their nights and toilsome
their days. Many a man neither ate nor drank, but they that desired it
were bidden take their fill. Siegmund saw to that. No easy time had the
Nibelungs. They say that all that could sing got no rest. What
offerings were brought! The poorest was rich enow, for they that had
naught were bidden bring an offering from the gold of Siegfried's own
hoard. When he lived no more, they gave many thousand marks for his
soul. Kriemhild bestowed lands and revenues over all, on cloisters and
holy men. Silver and clothes in plenty they gave to the poor. She
showed plain the love she bare Siegfried.
On the third morning, when mass was due, the great churchyard by the
minster was full of weeping countryfolk; for they served him in death as
dear friends should.
They say that, in these four days, thirty thousand marks, or more, were
given to the poor for his soul's sake, when his beauty and life were
brought to nothing.
God had been served; the song was done. The folk were shaken with
weeping. They bade carry him from the minster to the grave, and naught
was heard but crying and mourning.
With loud wail the people followed after. None was joyful, neither woman
nor man. They sang and read or they buried him. Ah, what good priests
were at his funeral!
Or Siegfried's wife came to the grave, her faithful body was wrung with
such grief that they ceased not from sprinkling her with water. None
could measure her sorrow.
It was a wonder that she lived. Her weeping women helped her. Then said
the queen, "Ye men of Siegfried, as ye love me, do me this grace. Give
me, in my sorrow, this little joy: to see his dear head once more." She
begged this so long, and with such bitter weeping, that they brake open
the rich chest.
Then they bought the queen where he was. She lifted his lovely head with
her white hand, and kissed him. Her bright eyes, for grief, wept blood.
It was a pitiful parting.
Then they carried her thence, for she could not walk. And she lay in a
swoon, as her fair body would have perished for sorrow.
When the noble knight was buried, they that were come with him from the
land of the Nibelungs made measureless dole. Little joy was seen in
Siegmund. For three whole days some neither ate nor drank for woe.
Longer than that their bodies endured it not. And so they ate and got
well of their grief, as many a one doth still.
Kriemhild lay senseless in a swoon all that day and that night, till the
next morning; she knew nothing that they said. And in like case lay also
King Siegmund. Scarce got the knight his wits again, for his strength
was weakened by reason of his great dole. It was no wonder.
Then his men said, "Sir knight, let us home. We may not tarry longer
How Siegmund Returned Home
Kriemhild's father-in-law went to her and said, "Let us hoe to our land.
I ween we are unwelcome guests by the Rhine. Kriemhild, dear lady,
return to my country with me. That treason has bereft thee here of thy
dear husband shall not be avenged on thee. I will stand by thee truly,
for love of thy husband and his noble child. Thou shalt also have all
the power that Siegfried, the valiant knight, gave thee. The land and
the crown are thine, and all Siegfried's men shall serve thee gladly."
They told the squires they would away. There was hurrying for the
horses, for life was a burden to them among their stark foemen. Women
and maidens were bidden seek out their clothes.
But when King Siegmund would have set out, Kriemhild's mother began to
beg that she would remain among her kinsfolk.
The wretched queen said, "That could hardly be. How could I have ever
before mine eyes him that hath brought this woe upon me, miserable woman
that I am?"
Giselher the youth said, "Dear sister mine, thy duty is here by thy
mother. Thou need'st no service from them that have wounded and darkened
thy spirit, for thou shalt live at my sole charge."
But she answered the knight, "It cannot be; I must die of grief but to
look on Hagen."
"Nay, I counsel thee, dear sister, to stay by thy brother Giselher; and I
will make good to thee thy husband's death."
But the God-forsaken one answered, "Need enow hath Kriemhild of comfort."
While the youth besought her so kindly, Uta and Gernot began to pray her,
and her faithful kinsmen also, that she should tarry, for she had few
kinsmen among Siegfried's men.
"They are all strangers to thee," said Gernot, "and however strong a
friend may be, one day he must die. Consider it, dear sister, and take
comfort and stay here by thy kinsfolk. It were better for thee."
So she promised Giselher she would remain there.
The horses were led out for Siegmund's men, for they were ready to ride
back to the land of the Nibelungs; and their harness was laid on the
Then went Siegmund to Kriemhild, and said to her, "Siegfried's men wait
by their horses. Let us away, for it irketh me here by the Burgundians."
Kriemhild answered, "They that are faithful among my kinsfolk counsel me
to abide here with them. I have no kinsmen in the Nibelung land."
Siegmund was woeful when he heard this from Kriemhild, and he said, "Let
none tell thee that. Before all my kinsmen shalt thou wear the crown,
and have dominion as aforetime; no man shall avenge on thee the loss of
the hero. Come with us for thy little child's sake. Leave it not an
orphan. When thy son is grown to a man he shall comfort thee; and
meanwhile many a bold knight and good shall serve thee."
But she answered, "My lord Siegmund, I cannot go. Whatso come of it, I
must tarry here with my kinsfolk, who will help me to mourn."
The warriors liked not the news, and they said with one accord, "Then
might we bewail our wrong indeed, if thou shouldst abide here by our
foemen. Heroes never rode to a sorrier hightide."
"Depart without fear, and in God's keeping. I will see that ye come well
escorted to your land. I commend my dear child to your care."
When they saw plain that she would not go, Siegmund's men all fell to
weeping. How right piteously Siegmund parted from Kriemhild! His grief
was bitter, and he said, "Woe is me for this hightide! Never yet hath
such evil befallen a king and his men at a feast. They shall see us no
more in Burgundy."
Siegfried's men said openly, "Nay, we might well ride hither again if we
knew who had murdered our master. Among his kinsmen they have stark foes
Siegmund kissed Kriemhild, and spake dolefully when he saw she would
tarry, "We fare home joyless to our land. Now, for the first time, I
know all my sorrows."
They rode, without an escort, from Worms across the Rhine. Well might
the Nibelungs fear nothing from the assault of foemen, with their own
strong hand to guard them.
They took leave of none; but Gernot and Giselher went to them lovingly,
for they grieved for their loss, and told them so.
Gernot said courteously, "God in Heaven knoweth that I had no blame in
Siegfried's death; neither was it told me, that any here bare him
malice. With true heart I sorrow for him."
Giselher the youth gave them good escort. He brought the king and his
knights home to the Netherland without further mischance.
How it fared with them after, I cannot tell. But Kriemhild was ever
heard mourning, and none comforted her save Giselher - he was true and
Fair Brunhild sat misproud, and recked little how Kriemhild wept. She
was never kind to her again. Also to her, afterward, Kriemhild caused
bitter heart's dole.
How the Nibelung Hoard Came to Worms
When noble Kriemhild was widowed, Count Eckewart stayed by her in
Burgundy with his men, as honour bade him, and served his mistress with
goodwill till his death.
At Worms, by the minster, they gave her a room, wide and high, rich and
spacious, where she sat joyless with her attendants. To church she went
often and gladly. Since her dear one was buried, how seldom she failed
there! She went thither sorrowfully every day, and prayed to great God
for his soul. Faithfully and without stint the knight was mourned.
Uta and her women ceased not to comfort her. But her heart was wounded
so deep that she could not be cheered. She sorrowed for Siegfried more
than wife ever did for husband. Her great love appeared therein, and she
mourned him to the end, while her life endured. Strong and true she took
vengeance at the last.
So she remained (I say sooth) till the fourth year after her husband's
death, and had spoken no word to Gunther, nor once, in the whole of that
time, had looked on Hagen, her foe.
Then said Hagen of Trony, "Couldst thou contrive that thy sister took
thee to friend again? So would the Nibelung gold come into this land.
Thou mightest win much thereof for thyself, if the queen were appeased."
"We will try it," answered the king. "I will send my brothers thither,
that haply they may prevail upon her to do it gladly."
But Hagen said, "I doubt that will never be."
Gunther sent Ortwin and the Margrave Gary to the court. When that was
done, they brought Gernot, and Giselher the youth. And on friendly wise
they essayed it with Kriemhild.
Bold Gernot of Burgundy said, "Lady, thou mournest Siegfried's death too
long. The king will prove to thee that it was not he that slew him.
Evermore thou art heard wailing bitterly."
She said, "No one blameth the king. Hagen's hand slew him, and from me
he discovered where he should stab. How could I know he hated him? Good
care had I taken then not to betray his beautiful body, and had not
needed now to weep, wretched woman that I am. I will never be the friend
of them that did it."
Then began Giselher, the valiant man, to entreat her.
She said, "Ye give me no peace. I must greet him, but great is your
blame therein, for without fault of mine the king hath brought on me
bitter heart's dole. With my mouth I may pardon him, but with my heart,
"After this it will be better," thought her friends. "What if he so
entreat her that she grow glad again?"
"He may yet make it good to her, " said Gernot, the warrior.
And the sorrowful woman said, "See, I will do as ye desire; I will greet
When they told him that, the king went with his best friends to her. But
Hagen durst not come before her. Well he knew his guilt, and that he had
done her a wrong.
Since she had hid her hate to him, Gunther deemed it well to kiss her.
If he had not wrought her such woe, he might have gone often and boldly
into her presence.
Friends were never reconciled with so many tears, for her wrongs weighed
heavy on her heart. She forgave them all, save the one man, for none but
Hagen had slain him.
Soon after, they contrived that Kriemhild won the great hoard from the
land of the Nibelungs, and brought it to the Rhine. It was her marriage-
morning gift, and rightly hers. Giselher and Gernot went for it.
Kriemhild sent eighty hundred men to fetch it from where it lay hid, and
where Albric with his nearest kinsmen guarded it.
When they saw the men of the Rhine come for the treasure, bold Albric
spake to his friends, "We dare not refuse her the treasure, for it is the
noble queen's wedding gift. Yet we had never parted with it, if we had
not lost with Siegfried the good _Tarnkappe_. At all times it was worn
by fair Kriemhild's husband. A woeful thing hath it proved for Siegfried
that he took from us the _Tarnkappe_, and won all this land to his
Then the chamberlain went and got the keys. Kriemhild's men and some of
her kinsmen stood before the mountain. They carried the hoard to the
sea, on to the ships, and bare it across the eaves from the mountain to
Now hear the marvels of this treasure. Twelve wagons scarce carried it
thence in four days and four nights, albeit each of them made the journey
three times. It was all precious stones and gold, and had the whole
world been bought therewith, there had not been one coin the less.
Certes, Hagen did not covet it without cause.
The wishing-rod lay among it, the which, if any discovered it, made him
master over every man in all the world.
Many of Albric's kinsmen went with Gernot. When Gernot and Giselher the
youth got possession of the hoard, there came into their power lands, and
castles, also, and many a good warrior, that served them through fear of
When the hoard came into Gunther's land, and the queen got it in her
keeping, chambers and towers were filled full therewith. One never heard
tell of so marvelous a treasure. But if it had been a thousand times
more, but to have Siegfried alive again, Kriemhild had gladly stood bare
by his side. Never had hero truer wife.
Now that she had the hoard, it brought into the land many stranger
knights; for the lady's hand gave more freely than any had ever seen.
She was kind and good; that must one say of her.
To poor and rich she began to give, till Hagen said that if she lived but
a while longer, she would win so many knights to her service that it must
go hard with the others.
But King Gunther said, "It is her own. It concerneth me not how she
useth it. Scarcely did I win her pardon. And now I ask not how she
divideth her jewels and her red gold."
But Hagen said to the king, "A wise man would leave such a treasure to no
woman. By reason of her largess, a day will come that the bold
Burgundians may rue."
Then King Gunther said, "I sware an oath to her that I would do her no
more hurt, nor will I do it. She is my sister."
But Hagen said, "Let me be the guilty one."
And so they brake their oath and took from the widow her rich hoard.
Hagen got hold of all the keys.
Gernot was wroth when he heard thereof, and Giselher said, "Hagen hath
greatly wronged Kriemhild. I should have withstood him. Were he not my
kinsman, he should answer for it with his life."
Then Siegfried's wife began to weep anew.
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