The Nibelungenlied was originally written in Middle High German, using a poetic form of four-line rhymed stanzas, broken in the middle (compare the "Hildebrandslied") but not primarily alliterative. It is divided into thirty-nine "Adventures" -- effectively chapters of variable length. The translation here is a prose version made around the turn of this century, and heavily modified for readability to delete some of the more pointless and obscure archaisms. Here is a sample of the language -- the opening pair of stanzas:
Uns ist in alten maeren wunders vil geseit
von helden lobebaeren von grôzer arebeit
von freuden, hôchgeziten, von weinen und von klagen,
von küener recken striten muget ír nu wunder hoeren sagen.
Ez wuohs in Búrgónden ein vil édel magedin,
daz in allen landen niht schoeners mohte sîn,
Kríemhílt geheizen si wart ein schoene wîp.
dar umbe muosen degene vil verlíesén den lîp.
In old tales they tell us many wonders of heroes and of high courage, of glad feasting, of [wailing] and of mourning; and herein ye shall read of the marvellous deeds and the strife of brave men.
There grew up in Burgundy a noble maiden; in no land [could there be] a fairer. Kriemhild was her name. Well favoured was the damsel, and by reason of her died many warriors. Doughty knights in plenty wooed her, as was meet, for of her body she was exceeding comely, and her virtues were an adornment to all women.
Three kings noble and rich guarded her, Gunther and Gernot, warriors of fame, and Giselher the youth, a chosen knight. The damsel was their sister, and the care of her fell on them. These lords were courteous and of high lineage, bold and very strong, each of them the pick of knights. The name of their country was Burgundy, and they did great deeds, after, in Etzel's land. At Worms, by the Rhine, they dwelled in might with many a proud lord for vassal.
Their mother was a rich queen and hight Uta, and the name of their father was Dankrat, who, when his life was ended, left them his lands. A strong man was he in his time, and one that in his youth won great worship.
These three princes, as I have said, were valiant me, overlords of the best knights that folk have praised, strong and bold and undismayed in strife. There were Hagen of Trony, and also his brother Dankwart the swift; and Ortwin of Metz; the two Margraves, Gary and Eckewart; Volker of Alzeia, strong of body; Rumolt, the steward, a chosen knight; Sindolt and Hunolt. These last three served at court and pursued honour. And other knights were there, more than I can name. Dankwart was the marshal; the nephew of Ortwin of Metz carved at the board; Sindolt was the butler, a worthy warrior; each did his part as a good knight.
The splendour of this court and its might, the high valour and chivalry of its lords, were a tale without end.
Now it so fell that Kriemhild, the pure maid, dreamed a dream that she fondled a wild falcon, and eagles wrested it from her; the which to see grieved her more than any ill that had happened to her heretofore.
This dream she told to Uta, her mother, who interpreted it on this wise. "The falcon that thou sawest is a noble man; yet if God keep him not, he is a lost man to thee."
"What speakest thou to me of a man, mother mine? Without their love would I still abide, that I may remain fair till my death, nor suffer dole from any man's love."
Said her mother then, "Be not so sure; for wouldst thou ever on this earth have heart's gladness, it cometh from the love of a man. And a fair wife wilt thou be, if God but lead hither to thee a true and trusty knight."
"Say not so, mother mine," answered the maiden, "for on many a woman, and oft hath it been proven, that the [consequence] of love is sorrow. From both I will keep me, that evil betide not."
Long in such wise abode the high, pure maiden, nor thought to love any. Nevertheless, at the last, she wedded a brave man; that was the falcon she dreamed of erstwhile, as her mother foretold it. Yea, bitter was her vengeance on her kinsmen that slew him, and by reason of his death died many a mother's son.
There grew up in the Netherland a rich king's child, whose father hight Siegmund and his mother Sieglind, in a castle high and famous called Xanten, down by the Rhine's side. Goodly was this knight, by my troth, his body without blemish, a strong and valiant man of great worship; abroad, through the whole earth, went his fame. The hero hight Siegfried, and he rode boldly into many lands. Ha! in Burgundy, I [wager], he found warriors to his liking. Or he was a man grown he had done marvels with his hand, as is said and sung, albeit now there is no time for more word thereof.
Of his best days there were many wonders to tell, how he waxed in goodliness and honour; his, too, was the love of women.
As was seemly for such an one, his breeding was well seen to, and of his nature, likewise, he was virtuous. His father's land was famed for his worth, for in all things he was right noble.
When he was of an age to ride to the court, the people saw him gladly, and wedded wives and maids [hoped alike] that he should tarry there. By order of Siegmund and Sieglind he was richly clad, and without guards he was suffered not to ride abroad. They that had him in charge were wise men versed in honour, to the end that he might win thereby liegemen and lands.
Now was he grown a stark youth, of stature and strength to bear weapons; he lacked nothing needful thereto, and inclined him already to the wooing of women. Nor did these find the fair youth amiss.
So Siegmund his father proclaimed a [festival], and word thereof came to the kingdoms that were round about. To strangers and to friends alike he gave horses and apparel, and wheresoever they found one of knightly birth, that youth they bade to the [festival], to be dubbed a knight with Siegfried.
Many wonders might one tell of that [festival], and rightly Siegmund and Sieglind won glory from the gifts of their hand, by reason whereof a multitude rode into the land. To four hundred sworded knights and to Siegfried was given rich apparel. Full many a fair damsel ceased not from working with her needle for his sake. Precious stones without stint they set in gold, and embroidered them with silk on the vest of the proud youth. He was [not unwilling to do that]. And the king bade them set places for many a hero the mid-summer that Siegfried became a knight.
The rich squires and great knights drew to the [church]. Meet is it that the old help the young, even as they in their day were [helped].
The time sped in merriment and sports. First, God to honour, they sang mass. Then the people pressed in hard to behold the youths dubbed knight with such pomp and high observance as we see not the like of nowadays.
Then they ran where they found saddled horses. And the noise of tourney was so great at Siegmund's court that the palace and hall echoed therewith, for there was a mighty din of heroes. From old and young came the noise of hurtling and of broken shafts whizzing in the air; and from warring hands flew splintered lances as far as the castle; men and women looked on at the sport. Then the king bade stay the tilting. And they let off the horses. Many shields lay broken, and, strewed on the grass, were jewels from shining bucklers [shields], fallen in the fray.
The guests went in and sat down as they were bidden, and over the choice meats and good wine, drunk to the full, they parted from their weariness. Friends and strangers were entreated with equal honour.
Albeit they ceased not from tilting all the day, mummers and the minstrels took no rest, but sand for gold and got it; wherefore they praised the land of Siegmund. The king enfeoffed [(i.e., enrolled formally as a vassal, holding lands)] Siegfried with lands and castles, as in his youth his father had enfeoffed him, and to his sword-fellows he gave with full hand, that it rejoiced them to be come into that country.
The [festival] endured seven days. Sieglind, the wealthy queen, did according to old custom. She divided red gold among her guests for love of her son, that she might win their hearts to him.
Among the minstrels none were needy. Horses and raiment were as free as if they that gave had but a day to live. Never company gave readier.
So the [festival] ended with glory, and the rich lords were well minded to have Siegfried [as] their prince. But the noble youth would none of it. While Siegmund and Sieglind lived, their son, that loved them, desired not to wear the crown, but only, as a brave man, to excel in strength and might. Greatly was he feared in the land; nor [dared] any chide him, for from the day he bare arms he rested not from strife. Yea, in far countries and for all time, his strong hand won him glory.
[ Adventures 3-4. Siegfried comes to Worms and fights with the Saxons on behalf of the Burgundians; they become friends.]
A vast multitude of them that would attend the [festival] drew daily to the Rhine; and unto those that came for the love of the king, horses were given and goodly raiment, and to each his place, even unto two and thirty princes of the highest and the best. So they tell us.
And the women vied with one another in their attire. Giselher, the youth, and Gernot, and their two squires, rested not from welcoming both friends and strangers. They gave courtly greeting unto the warriors.
The guests brought with them to the Rhine, to the tourney, saddles worked in ruddy gold, and finely-wrought shields, and knightly apparel. And the sick rejoiced, and they that lay on their beds sore wounded forgot that death is [a] hard thing. When the rumour of the festival was noised abroad, no man took heed more of them that groaned, for each thought only how he might sojourn there as a guest. Joy without measure had all they that were found there, and gladness rejoicing were in Gunther's land.
On Whitsun [Pentecost] morning there drew toward the [festival] a goodly company of brave men, fairly clad: five thousand or more, and they made merry far and wide, and strove with one another in friendly combat.
Now Gunther knew well how, truly and from his heart, the hero of the Netherland loved his sister whom he had not yet seen, and whose beauty the people praised before that of all other maidens.
And he said, "Now counsel me, my kinsman and my lieges, how we may order this [festival], that none may blame us in [anything]; for only unto such deeds as are good, pertaineth lasting fame."
Then answered Ortwin, the knight, to the king, "if thou wilt win for thyself glory from the [festival], let now the maidens that dwell with honour in our midst appear before us. For what shall pleasure or [gladden] a man more than to behold beautiful damsels and fair women? Bid thy sister come forth and show herself to thy guests."
And this word pleased the knights.
"That will I gladly do," said the king; and they that heard him rejoiced. He sent a messenger to Queen Uta, and besought her that she would come to the court with her daughter and her women-folk.
And these took from the presses rich apparel, and what lay therein in wrapping-cloths; they took also brooches, and their silken girdles worked with gold, and attired themselves in haste. Many a noble maiden adorned herself with care, and the youths longed exceedingly to find favour in their eyes, and had not taken a rich king's land in lieu thereof. And they that knew not one another before looked [upon each other] right gladly.
The rich king commanded [a] hundred men of his household, his kinsmen and hers, to escort his sister, their swords in their [hands]. Uta, with [a] hundred and more of her women, gorgeously attired, came forth from the female apartments, and many noble damsels followed after her daughter. The knights pressed in upon them, thinking thereby to behold the beautiful maiden.
And lo! the fair one appeared, like the dawn from out the dark clouds. And he that had borne her so long in his heart was [weary no longer], for the beloved one, his sweet lady, stood before him in her beauty. Bright jewels sparkled on her garments, and bright was the rose-red of her hue, and all they that saw her proclaimed her peerless among maidens.
As the moon excelleth in light the stars shining clear from the clouds, so stood she, fair before the other women, and the hearts of the warriors were upllifted. The chamberlains made way for her through them that pressed in to behold her. And Siegfried [rejoiced], and sorrowed likewise, for he said in his heart, "How should I woo such as thee? Surely it was a vain dream; yet I [would rather die] than [be] a stranger to thee."
Thinking thus he [became] oft white and red; yea, graceful and proud stood the son of Sieglind, goodliest of heroes to behold, as [if] he were drawn on parchment by the skill of a cunning master. And the knights fell back as the escort commanded, and made way for the high-hearted women, and gazed on them with glad eyes. Many a dame of high degree was there.
Said bold Sir Gernot, the Burgundian, then, "Gunther, dear brother, unto the gentle knight, that hath done thee service, show honour now before thy lieges. Of this counsel I shall never [be ashamed.] Bid Siegfried go before my sister, that the maiden [may] greet him. Let her, that never greeted knight, go toward him. For this shall [be of] advantage [to] us, and we shall win the good warrior for ours."
Then Gunther's kinsmen went to the knight of the Netherland, and said to him, "The king bids thee to the court that his sister may greet thee, for he would do thee honour."
It [pleased] Siegfried that he was to look upon Uta's fair child, and he forgot his sorrow.
She greeted him mild and maidenly, and her colour was kindled when she saw before her the high-minded man, and she said, "Welcome, Sir Siegfried, noble knight and good." His courage rose at her words, and [gracefully], as [was fitting for] a knight, he bowed himself before her and thanked her. And love that is mighty constrained them, and they yearned with their eyes in secret. I know not whether, from his great love, the youth pressed her white hand, but two love-desirous hearts, I [trust], had else done amiss.
Nevermore, in summer or in May, bore Siegfried in his heart such high joy, as when he went by the side of her whom he coveted for his dear one. And many a knight thought, "Had it been my hap to walk with her, as I have seen him do, or to lie by her side, [surely], I [would have done it] gladly. Yet never, truly, hath warrior served better to win a queen." From what land soever the guests came, they were [aware] only of these two. And she was bidden kiss the hero. He had never had like joy before in this world.
Said the King of Denmark then, "By reason of this high greeting many good men lie low, slain by the hand of Siegfried, the which hath been proven to my cost. God grant he [may not return] to Denmark!"
Then they ordered to make way for fair Kriemhild. Valiant knights in stately array escorted her to the [church] [church], where she was parted from Siegfried. She went thither followed by her maidens; and so rich was her apparel that the other women, for all their striving, were as [nothing] beside her, for to [gladden] the eyes of heroes she was born.
Scarce could Siegfried tarry till they had sung mass, he yearned so to thank her for his gladness, and that she whom he bore in his heart had inclined her desire toward him, even as his was to her, which was meet.
Now when Kriemhild [had] come forth to the front of the [church], they bade the warrior go to her again, and the damsel began to thank him, that before all others he had done valiantly. And she said, "Now, God requite thee, Sir Siegfried, for they tell me thou hast won praise and honour from all knights."
He looked on the maid right sweetly, and he said, "I will not cease to serve them. Never, while I live, will I lay head on pillow, till I have brought their desire to pass.. For love of thee, dear lady, I will do this."
And every day of twelve, in the sight of all the people, the youth walked by the side of the maiden as she went to the court. So they showed their love to the knight.
And there was merriment and gladness and delight in the hall of Gunther, without and within, among the valiant men. Ortwin and Hagen did many wonderful deeds, and if any devised a sport, warriors, joyous in strife, welcomed it straightway. So were the knights proven before the guests, and they of Gunther's land won glory. The wounded also came forth to take part with their comrades, to skirmish with the buckler, and to shoot the shaft, and waxed strong thereby, and increased their might.
Gunther gave order that, for the term of the [festival], they should set before them meats of the daintiest, that he might fail in [nothing] as a king, nor the people blame him.
And he came to his guests, and said, "Receive my gifts [before] you go hence, and refuse not the treasure that I would share with you."
The Danes made answer, "[Before] we turn again to our land, make thou a lasting peace with us. We have need of such, that have many dear friends dead, slain by thy warriors."
Ludgast and [also] the Saxons were healed of their wounds gotten in battle, but many tarried behind, dead.
Then Gunther sought Siegfried and said, "Now counsel me in this. On the morrow our guests ride forth, and they desire of me and mine a lasting covenant. what they offer I will tell thee: as much gold as five hundred horses may carry, they will give me to go free."
And Siegfried answered, "That [would be] ill done. Send them forth without ransom, that they [might] ride no more hither as foemen. And they shall give thee the hand thereon for surety."
"[I will do as you advise.] They shall depart as thou sayest."
And they told it to his enemies; also that none desired their gold. they said it to the war-tired men, by reason of whom the dear ones of their own land sorrowed.
And the king took shields full of treasure, and divided it among them without weighing it, five hundred marks and more. Gernot, the brave knight, counselled him thereto. And they took their leave, for they were [weary] for home. And they passed before Kriemhild and Queen Uta; never were knights dismissed more courteously.
The chambers were void when they left, nevertheless the king abode there still with his lieges and his vassals and knights. And these ceased not to go before Kriemhild.
Then Siegfried, the hero, had also taken leave, for he thought not to attain his desire. But the king heard of it, and Giselher he youth turned him back. "Whither ridest thou, Sir Siegfried?" Prithee yield to me in this. Go not from among our knights, and Gunther, and his men. Here are fair maidens [enough] that thou mayest behold at will."
Said bold Sir Siegfried, "Let stand the horses, bear hence the shields. I would have ridden forth and turned again to my land, but Giselher hath changed my intent."
So he abode among them through love, nor in any land had it been sweeter for him. And Kriemhild, the fair maiden, he saw daily, by reason of whose beauty he tarried.
They passed the time in sports and feats of chivalry. But his heart was weary with love; yea, for love he sorrowed then, and after, died miserably.
A fresh rumour spread beyond the Rhine. It was reported that many maidens dwelt there; and Gunther was minded to woo one of them, whereat his knights and his liegemen were well pleased.
There was a queen high throned across the sea, that had not her like, beyond measure fair and of [great] strength, and her love was for that knight only that could pass her at the spear. She hurled the stone and leapt after it to the mark. Any that desired the noble damsel's love must first win boldly in these three games. If he failed but in one, he lost his head.
And often had this [happened] already, when the rumour thereof reached the noble warrior by the Rhine, who fixed his desire upon the maiden, the which, [before] all was done, cost the life of many heroes.
On a day that the king sat with his men, and they cast to and fro whom their prince might best take [as a] wife for his own comfort and the good of his land, the lord of Rhineland said, "I will hence across the sea to Brunhild, let what will betide. For her sake I will [risk] my body, for I [will] lose it if I [do not win her for my wife.]"
"Do not so," said Siegfried. "Cruel is the queen, and he that would woo her playeth too high a stake. Make not this journey."
But King Gunther answered, "Never yet was woman born so stark and bold, that, with this single hand, I could not vanquish her in strife."
But Siegfried said, "Peace! Thou knowest her not. [Were you] four men, [you would be] no match for her grim wrath. In good faith I counsel thee to let the matter be. If thou lovest thy life, come not in such straits for her sake."
"Nay, now, I care not how [strong she may be]; I will journey, even as I have said, to Brunhild, and take my chance. For her great beauty I must adventure this. What if God [favors] me, and she [follows] me to the Rhine?"
"Then I counsel thee," said Hagen, "to ask Siegfried to share with thee this hard [enterprise.] It were well, since he knoweth so much of Brunhild."
So the king spake, "Wilt thou help me, most noble Siegfried, to woo the damsel? Grant me this, and if I win the royal maiden for my dear one, I will [risk] honour and life for thy sake."
Siegfried, the son of Siegmund, made answer, "Give me thy sister Kriemhild, the high princess, and I will do it. Other [reward] I ask not."
Said Gunther, "I swear it, Siegfried, on thy hand. If Brunhild [comes] hither, I will give thee my sister [as your] wife; and mayest thou live joyfully with her to thy life's end."
The noble warriors [swore] an oath; and [trouble enough] they endured, [before] they led back the fair one to the Rhine; yea, ofttimes they were [afflicted sorely.]
I have heard tell of wild dwarfs: how that they dwell in hollow mountains, and wear wonderful cloaks called Tarnkappes. And whoso hath this on his body cometh not in [peril from] blows or spear-thrusts; nor is he seen [by] any man so long as he weareth it, but may spy and hearken at his will. His strength also [increases] thereby; so runneth the tale.
Siegfried took the Tarnkappe with him that he had wrested from Albric the dwarf. And these high and noble knights made ready for the journey. When stark Siegfried did on the Tarnkappe, he was strong with the strength of twelve men, and with these cunning devices he won the royal maiden; for the cloak of cloud was fashioned [in such a way], that whoso wore it did what him listed, none seeing; and he won Brunhild thereby, [who] after brought him [sorrow.]
"Now tell me, Siegfried, [before] we depart, how we may cross the sea with honour? Shall we take warriors with us to Brunhild's land? It [would be] easy to summon thirty thousand knights."
But Siegfried answered, "Howsoever great a host we led thither, the cruelty of the queen is such, that every mother's son of them must perish. A better plan is mine, most noble king. Let us [go] down to the Rhine as simple knights, even these friends that I name. Thou and I, and, further, only two. So shall we woo the damsel, let the issue be as it may. I shall be one, and thou shalt be another. Let the third be Hagen, and the fourth Dankwart, the doughty man. A thousand shall not prevail against us."
"[I would like to] know," said the king then, "what manner of raiment we should wear before Brunhild. Prithee, counsel me in this matter, Siegfried."
"In the land of Brunhild they wear naught but the best, wherefore let us appear before the women in goodly apparel, that none may cry shame on us hereafter."
Then said the knight, "I will go, myself, to my dear mother, and beseech her that she let her damsels make ready for us such garments as may bring us honour before the royal maiden."
But Hagen said courteously, "Wherefore beg this service of thy mother? Tell thy sister of thy intents. She is skilled, and will provide the with goodly raiment."
And Gunther prayed his sister to receive him and Siegfried. The which she did after she had robed her in her best apparel. She was little grieved at the coming of the knights. Her attendants were fitly adorned, and the knights went in. When she saw them, she rose from her seat, and [made haste], and received the noble guest and her brother courteously. She said, "Thou are welcome, my brother: thou and thy friend. I would know what hath brought you to the court. Tell me, I pray you, noble knights, how it standeth with you."
The king answered, "Lady, I will tell thee. An hard adventure is before us, the which we must bear boldly through. We ride a-wooing into a far and a strange land, and have need of rich apparel."
"Now sit, dear brother," said the king's child, "and tell me plainly who the women are that ye would woo in other kings' lands." The maiden took both the chosen knights by the hand, and led them to the rich cushion whereon she had sat, and on the which were wrought (for this I know) fair pictures raised with gold. They wearied not, [to be sure], among the women. Of kind glances and soft looks there was not stint. Siegfried bore her in his heart, and loved her as his life, and won her for his wife by noble service.
The great king said, "Dearest sister mine, we need thy help. We go to sojourn in the land of Brunhild, and must have rich apparel to wear before the women."
The princess answered, "If I can aid thee in any wise, believe me, I will do it; Kriemhild [would be sad] if [anything] were denied thee. Ask of me, [doubting nothing], noble knight, and, as a master, command me; all that thou desirest I will readily perform."
"We would have goodly raiment, dear sister, and therein thy white hand shall help us. Let thy maids bestir them, that we [may] be [well] equipped, since none shall turn us from this journey."
Said the damsel, "Now mark what I say. We have silk of our own; bid them bring us hither, on the shields, precious stones to work [into] the robes, [so that ye may wear them unashamed] before the royal maiden." The princess asked, "Who are they that shall follow thee in rich array to the court?"
And he answered, "We [are four:] my two liegemen, Dankwart and Hagen, ride with us. And what I tell thee, mark well. for each of four days thou shalt provide us with three changes of good raiment, that we be not scorned in Brunhild's land!"
She promised this to the knights, and they took their leave.
Then Princess Kriemhild summoned from their chambers thirty of her maidens that had great skill in such work.
Silk from Araby, white as snow, and from Zazamanc, green like clover, they embroidered with precious stones. The royal maiden cut them herself. In sooth, they were goodly robes. Linings finely fashioned from fishes' skins, rarely seen then, they covered, as many as they had, with silk, and wrought them with gold. Many a marvel could one tell of these garments. For they had, in plenty, the finest silks from Morocco and Libya that the children of kings ever wore. It was not hard to see that Kriemhild loved the warriors. And because they desired rich apparel, the black-spotted ermine was not spared, the which good knights covet still for [festivals].
Precious stones sparkled on gold of Araby. [Indeed], the women were not idle. Inside of seven weeks the clothes were ready, and also weapons for the knights.
Now when all was done, a stout ship lay waiting on the Rhine to bear them down to the sea. Ill paid were the maidens, after, for their toil.
When they told the knights that the rich [clothing] they were to wear was ready, and that all they had asked was accomplished, they were eager to quit the Rhine. A messenger was sent to them, that they might try on their new apparel, lest haply it might be too short or too long for any. But the measure was exact, wherefore they thanked the maidens. All that saw it owned that, in the whole world, none was better. They wore it proudly at the court, and none were praised above them for their attire.
The maidens had sweet thanks, and the doughty warriors took their leave right courteously, and bright eyes were dim and wet with tears.
Kriemhild said, "Dear brother, thou didst better to stay here and woo other women without risk to thy body. It were easy to find, nigh at hand, a wife of as high lineage."
I [imagine] her heart told her the [sorrow] that was to come. And they wept all together, and refused to be comforted, till the gold on their breasts was wet with the tears that rolled down from their eyes.
She spake further, "Sir Siegfried, to thy care and good faith I commend my dear brother, that no evil betide him in Brunhild's land." The knight gave his hand thereon, and promised it. He said, "Fear not, lady; if I live, I will bring him back safe to the Rhine. I swear it by mine own body."
And the fair maiden thanked him.
They carried down the shields of ruddy gold to the strand, and stowed their armour in the vessel, and [had their horses brought], for they were eager to be gone. The women made [great wail.] Fair damsels stood at the windows. The fresh wind caught the sail, and lo! the good knights sat on the Rhine.
Then said Gunther, "Who shall be steersman?"
"That will I be," answered Siegfried. "Trust me, ye heroes, and I will pilot you hence, for I know the currents." So with stout hearts they left Burgundy. Siegfried took hold of pole and pushed from the strand. Gunther himself took an oar, and they fell away from the shore. They had rich meats with them, and Rhine wine of the best. Their horses stood easy and quiet; their boat flew light, and misadventure they had none. Their strong sails filled, and they made twenty miles [before] night fell, for the wind favoured them. But their high [enterprise] brought many women [grief]. They say that by the twelfth morning the wind had blown them afar to Isenstein in Brunhild's land, the which none had seen before that, save Siegfried. When King Gunther beheld so many towers and broad marches, he cried out, "Now say, friend Siegfried; knowest thou whose are these castles and these fair lands? By my troth, I have never in my life seen castles so many and so goodly as stand there before us. A mighty man he must be that hath [built] them."
Whereto Siegfried made answer, "Yea, I know well. They are all Brunhild's -- towers and lands, and the castle of Isenstein. I say sooth; and many fair women shall ye behold this day. Now I counsel you, O knights, for so it seemeth good to me, that ye be all of one mind and one word; we must stand warily before Brunhild the queen. And when we see the fair one amidst of her folk, be sure that ye tell all the same story: that Gunther is my lord, and I his liegeman. So shall he win to his desire. Yet this I do less for love of thee than for the fair maid, thy sister, that is to me as my soul and mine own body, and for whom I gladly serve, that I may win her [as my] wife."
They promised with one accord, and none [contradicted] him through pride, which stood them in good stead when the king came to stand before Brunhild.
[ Adventures 7 - 13. In Iceland, Gunther wins Brunhild by the ruse of having Siegfried, wearing the Tarnkappe and so invisible, do everything while he himself goes through the motions. Siegfried performs a super-human feat of sailing, and goes to fetch troops from home. Afterward, Brunhild is brought home to Burgundy, and Siegfried wins Kriemhild and takes her home to Netherland. After they have been there a while, Gunther invites them to a festival at Burgundy again. While they are there the following situation unfolds. ]
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 never be."
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, "[However] valiant thy husband, comely and fair, thy brother Gunther excelleth him, for know that he is the first among kings."
But Kriemhild said, "My praise was not idle; for worshipful is my husband in many things. [Believe] it, Brunhild. He is, at the least, thy husband's equal."
"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 [would] my lot [be] if that were true. How [could] my brothers [have] given me to a vassal [as a] 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 [grew] very [angry]. "Lose them thou must, then, 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 are 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 [is held] 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 [church] 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 [church]."
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 [clothing], 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 [church], where Siegfried's knights waited for them.
The folk marvelled much to see he queens apart, and going not together as [before.] Many a warrior was to rue it.
Gunther's wife stood before the [church], and the knights dallied in converse with the women, [until Kriemhild came up with her retinue.] All that noble maidens had ever worn was but as a wind to what these had on. So rich was Kriemhild that thirty kings' wives together would not have been as gorgeous as she was. None could deny, [even if they wanted to], 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 [church]. And Brunhild, with deadly spite, cried out to Kriemhild to stand still. "Before the queen shall no vassal go."
[Then Kriemhild spoke out, for she was angry. "It would have been better had you held your peace.] Thou hast shamed thine own body. How should the [mistress] of a vassal become a king's wife?"
"Whom [are you calling a mistress?" 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 favour a vassal so. Reproaches from thee are much amiss."
"Verily," cried Brunhild, "Gunther shall hear of it."
"What is that to me? Thine arrogancy hath deceived thee. Thou has 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 [church] before the king's wife. There was deadly hate, and bright eyes grew wet and dim.
Whether they prayed or sang, the service seemed to long to Brunhild, for her heart and her mind were troubled, [for which] many a bold and good man paid afterward.
Brunhild stopped before the [church] with her women, for she thought, "Kriemhild, the foul-mouthed woman, shall tell me further whereof she so [loudly] 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 [lover.]" She wore a girdle of silk of Nineveh, goodly [enough], 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 [am] Siegfried's [mistress.]"
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 [complaint] to thee. She proclaimeth aloud that Siegfried hath had me [as his mistress.]"
Gunther answered, "Evilly hath she done."
"She weareth here a girdle that 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 [why] I am summoned."
Whereto Gunther answered, "Right vexed am I. Brunhild, my wife, telleth me here that thou hast boasted thou wert her [lover]. Kriemhild declareth this. Hast thou done it, O knight?"
Siegfried answered, "Not I. If she hath said so, I will not rest 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 shame."
Angry words have divided many women. Brunhild made such [a wail], 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 [swore] 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 [illegitimate children]?" cried Hagen. "That [would be] small honour to good knights. I will avenge on him the boast that he hath made, or I will die.
But the king himself said, "Good, and not evil, hath he done us. Let him live. Wherefore should I hate the knight? He hath ever been true to me."
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 [would have] urged it further, had not Hagen tempted Gunther every day, saying, that if Siegfried [were not alive], many kings' lands [would be] 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 [broke] before Kriemhild, [between] the [church] and the palace; but Gunther's men were [angry].
Then said the king, "Give over this deadly hate. For our weal and honour he was born. Thereto the man is so [wonderfully strong] and grim, that, if he were [aware] of this, none [would dare] stand against him."
"Not so," said Hagen. "Assure thee on that score. For I will contrive secretly that he [will] pay for Brunhild's weeping. Hagen is his foe evermore.
But said Gunther, "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 [go] 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.
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 in to 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, [until] we have declared the message wherewith we are charged to thee. Know that thou hast to thy foeman many a mother's son. Ludger and Ludgast, whom thou hast [before mistreated], ride hither to make war against thee in this land."
The king fell in a rage, as if he had known [nothing] thereof. Then they gave the false messengers good lodging. How could Siegfried or any other guess their treason, whereby they themselves perished [before all was done.]?
The king went whispering up and down with his friends. Hagen of Trony gave him no peace. many of the knights were [eager] 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 [anything] 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 [in such a way] that ye shall all come off with honour. I will do to these warriors even as I did [before]. Waste will be their lands and their castles, [before I am finished]. 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 [harm] at my hand.
"These [are] 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 [mighty] Siegfried, "Tarry here at home, Siegmund, my father. If God prosper us, we shall return [before] 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 [depart].
"Well for me," said Kriemhild, "that ever I won [as] a husband a man that standeth so true by his friends, as doth Siegfried by my kinsmen. Right proud am I. Bethink the 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 [I am sorely sorry for that.] My body hath smarted for it, that ever I troubled her with my words. Siegfried, the good knight, hath seen to that."
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 [not] for his life in battle, but hat he is foolhardy, and of to proud a courage. [Except] for that, he [would be safe enough.]"
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 horse."
She answered, "Thou art my cousin, and I thine. To thy faith I commend my dear husband, that thou mayst watch and keep him."
Then she told him what she [should rather have] left unsaid.
"My husband is [strong] and bold. When  he slew the dragon on the mountain, he bathed him[self] 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 [of heavy heart]! 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. [Because] I know thee honourable, I do this. When the hot blood flowed from the wound of the dragon, and Siegfried bathed herein, there fell [between] his shoulders the broad leaf of a lime tree. there one might stab him, and thence is my care and [sorrow].
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 in battle."
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 [my husband for me] when ye ride in the thick of the strife, and he withstandeth his foemen in the fierce onset."
"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 this?"
"That will I," said the king.
And the king's men rejoiced. Never more, [I think], will knight do so foully as did Hagen, when he [broke] 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 [clothing]. When he saw the mark, he set 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 [before] he had done battle for his friends. Gunther's vassals scarce held him back. Then he rode to the king, [who] 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 trusties of all my friends. Seeing we [are done with] this war, let us ride a-hunting to the Odenwald after the bear and the boar, as I have often done."
Hagen, the false man, had counselled this.
"Let is be told to my guests straightway that I will ride early. Whoso would hunt with me, let him be ready [early]. But if any would tarry behind for pastime with the women, he shall do it, and please me thereby."
Siegfried answered [in] 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 [shouldst] come not home empty-handed."
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 men had contrived his death, they told all the others. Giselher and Gernot went not hunting with the rest. I know not for what grudge they warned him not. But they paid [dearly] for it.
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 [before] 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 [very heavy of heart]. 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 [go forth]."
Then she thought on the secret she had betrayed to Hagen, but [did not dare] tell him. The queen wept [sorely] that ever she [had been] born, and [grieved immeasurably.]
She said, "Go not hunting. Last night I dreamed an evil dream: how that two wild board chased thee over the heath; and the flowers were red with blood. Have pity on my tears, for I fear some treachery. There [are, perhaps, some who are] offended, [and] 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 [wish] 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 on in his arms and kissed her close; then he took leave of her and rode off.
She never saw him alive again.
The 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 [mighty] Siegfried, "Who will [go] into the forest and lead us to the game?"
"If we [split up before] 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 [he chooses], 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 [enough]!"
Then an old huntsman took a lime hound, and brought the company where there was game in plenty. They hunted down all the beasts they started, as good sportsmen should.
Whatsoever the lime hound stared, 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 lime hound started. This he shot with his bow and a sharp arrow; the lion made only three springs [before] he fell. Loud was the praise of his comrades. Then he killed, one after the other, a buffalo, an elk, four stark ure-oxen, and a grim shelk. his horse carried him so swiftly that nothing outran him. Deer and hind escaped him not.
The lime hound 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 [would another have] done it.
They leashed the lime hound then, and told the Burgundians how Siegfried had prospered. Whereupon his huntsmen said, "Prithee, leave something alive; thou emptiest both mountain and forest [for us.]" And Siegfried laughed.
The noise of the chase was all round them; hill and wood rang with shouting and the baying of dogs, 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 [mighty] Siegfried rode to the [meeting]-fire, they saw that could not be.
The hunt was almost over. The sportsmen brought skins and game [enough] with them to the camp. No lack of meat for cooking was there, [I think].
Then the king [had it announced to] the knights that he would dine. And they blew a blast on a horn, that [announced] that the king was at the [meeting]-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 the company.
Siegfried [gave orders to leave] the wood. His horse [bore] him smoothly, and the others pricked fast behind. The noise roused a grim bear, whereat the knight cried to them that came after him, "Now for sport! Slip the dog, for I see a bear that shall [go] with us to the [meeting]-fire. He cannot escape us [no matter how fast he runs.]."
They slipped the lime hound; 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, [before] it could wound him, he had bound it, [so] 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 [meeting]-fire for pastime.
How right proudly he rode to the camping ground! His boar-spear was [great, and strong] 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 [also bore] 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 [split] every helmet it touched. I [imagine] the huntsman was [of good 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 [his way] 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 the order to slip the hounds that were on leash. [In] faith, it [would have 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 [dared] 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, [who] 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 [enough], on a fair meadow. Ha! what dishes, meet for heroes, were set before them. But the cup-bearers were tardy, [those who] should have brought the wine. Save for that, knights were never better served. If there had not been false-hearted men among them, they [would have been] without reproach. The doomed man had no suspicion that might have warned him, for his own heart was pure of all deceit. Many [even of those who gained nothing from his death] 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 [are to be treated] so, I will hunt no more. [Indeed], 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, [for he] would have us perish of thirst."
Then said Hagen of Trony, "Dear master, [I thought] 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 [angry] with me, but take my counsel, and go thither." [And this] was done, to the hurt of many warriors. Siegfried was [sorely thirsty] and [ordered that the tables be pushed back], 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 [had piled] on a waggon and [taken] home, and all 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 [mighty] Siegfried answered, "If I lose, I will lay me at thy feet in the grass."
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 [thirsty], he drank not [until] 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 [clothing]; 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 [before].
When [mighty] 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 [would have had] 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 broke, and the precious stones flew out. The noble guest [would gladly have] 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 [would have been] a dead man. But the anguish of his wound constrained him. His colour was [pale]; he could not stand upright; and the strength of his body failed him, for he [bore] death's mark on his white cheek. Fair women [enough grieved] 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 [to] where he lay stabbed. To many among them it was a woeful day. They that were true mourned for him, [as] 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 [if he had] left it undone, for [great] 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 [would have] been an easy thing to guard my body from thee. My bitterest [sorrow] is for Kriemhild, my wife. god pity me that ever I had a son. For all men will reproach him that he has murderers [for] 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. [Dearly] have I paid for [having done] 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, [whom] I commend to thee. Let it [benefit] 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 [for] 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, they laid him on a shield of ruddy gold, and took counsel [about] 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 she weep."
Of that very brook where Siegfried was slain ye shall hear the truth from me. In the Odenwald is a village [called] Odenheim, and there the stream runneth still; beyond doubt it is the same.
[ Adventures 17-22. Siegfried is lamented and buried, and his father returns home to Netherland. The Nibelung treasure -- which belongs to Siegfried -- is brought to Worms. After a time, Helche, the wife of Etzel (Atli) of the Huns, dies. He sends to Burgundy for Kriemhild. She goes reluctantly. Although the country is not itself a Christian land, Etzel is depicted as a liberal ruler -- very far from the historical Attila. At the end of Adv. 21, the poet notes: "And always -- a thing that will hardly happen again -- the Christian life and the heathen existed side by side. But whichever rite a man followed, the King's magnanimity saw to it that all were amply rewarded." (tr. Hatto). He lavishly receives her and they are married. ]
So, in high honour (I say sooth), they dwelled together till the seventh year. Meanwhile Kriemhild had borne a son. Nothing could have rejoiced Etzel more. She set her heart on it that he should receive Christian baptism. He was named Ortlieb, and glad was all Etzel's land.
For many a day Kriemhild rule virtuously, even as Helca [previously]. Herrat, the foreign maiden, that still mourned bitterly for Helca in secret, taught her the customs of the country. Stranger and friends alike praised her, and owned that never queen had ruled a king's land better or more mildly. For this she was famed among the Huns till the thirteenth year.
When now she saw that none [resisted] her ([which] a king's knights will sometimes do to their prince's wife), and that twelve kings stood ever before her, she thought on the grievous wrongs that had befallen her in her home. She remembered also the honour that was hers among the Nibelungs, and [what] Hagen's hand had robbed her of by Siegfried's death, and she pondered how she might work him woe.
"It [would be] easily done, [if I could] but bring them hither." She dreamed that she walked hand in hand with Giselher her brother, and oft, in sweet sleep, she kissed him. Evil came of it after.
It was the wicked Devil, I [suppose], that counselled Kriemhild to part from Gunther in friendship, and to be reconciled to him with a kiss in the land of Burgundy. She began to wet her [clothing] anew with hot tears. Late and early it lay on her heart, how, through no fault of hers, she had been forced to wed a heather. Hagen and Gunther had done this wrong to her.
Never a day passed but she longed to be revenged. She thought, "Now I am so rich an powerful that I could do mine enemies a mischief. Were it Hagen of Trony, I [would not be reluctant.] My heart still yearneth for my beloved. Could I but win to them that worked me woe, well would the death of my dear one be avenged. It is hard to wait," said the sorrowful woman.
All her knights, the kings men, loved her, as was [right]. Her chamberlain was Eckewart, [who] thereby won many friends. None [dared oppose] Kriemhild's will.
Every day she thought to herself, "I will ask the king." She deemed that, of his goodness, he would send for her friends and bring them into the land of the Huns. None guessed her evil intent.
One night, when she lay by the king, and he held her in his arms, as was his wont, for she was to him as his life, the royal woman thought on her foes, and said to him, "My dearest lord, I would [like to] beg a [favor from] thee. I would [like for you to] show, if I have deserved it at thy hand, that my kinsmen have found favour in thy sight."
The great king answered with true heart, "That will I readily prove to thee. All that profiteth and doth honour to the knights [gladdens] me, for through no woman's love have I won better friends."
Then said the queen, "Thou knowest well that I have noble kinsmen. It irketh me that they visit me so seldom. The folk here [consider] me kinless."
Whereto King Etzel answered, "My dearest wife, if it be not too far, I will invite across the Rhine whomsoever thou wouldst gladly see, and bid them hither to my land."
The woman was well content when she discovered his mind on the matter, and said, "If thou wouldst truly please me, my lord, thou wilt despatch envoys to Worms beyond the Rhine. I will inform my friends of my desire by these; so, many good knights will come hither into our land."
He answered, "Thy wish shall be obeyed. Thy kinsmen, noble Uta's sons, will not be so welcome to thee as to me. It irketh me sore that they have been strangers so long. If it [seems] good to thee, dearest wife, I will send my minstrels as envoys to thy friends in Burgundy."
He [had the good fiddlers summoned] straightaway, that [made haste] to where he sat by the queen, and he told them both to go as envoys to Burgundy. He let fashion rich clothes for them; for four and twenty knights they made apparel, and the king gave them the message wherewith they were to invite Gunther and his men. And Kriemhild began to speak to them in secret.
Then said the great king, "I will tell ye what ye shall do. I send to my friends love and every good wish, and pray them to ride hither to my land. I know few other guests so dear. And if Kriemhild's kinsmen be minded to do my will, bid them fail not to come, for love of me, to my [festival], for my heart yearneth toward the brethren of my wife."
Whereto Schwemmel, the proud minstrel, answered, "When shall thy [festival] fall, that we may tell thy friends yonder?"
King Etzel answered, "Next midsummer."
"Thy command shall be obeyed," answered Werbel.
The queen [had the envoys summoned] secretly to her chamber, and spake with them. Little good came thereof. She said to the two envoys, "Ye shall deserve great reward if ye do my bidding well, and deliver the message wherewith I charge you, at home, in my land. I will make you rich in goods, and give you sumptuous apparel. See that ye say not to any of my friends at Worms, by the Rhine, that ye have ever seen me sad of my cheer, and commend my service to the heroes bold and good. Beg them to grant the king's prayer and end all my sorrow. The Huns deem me without kin. Were I a knight, I would go to them myself. Say to Gernot, my noble brother, that none is better minded to him in the world than I. Bid him bring here our best friends, that we win honour. And tell Giselher to remember that never, through his fault, did ill betide me; for which reason mine eyes are [eager] to behold him. Evermore I would serve him. Tell my mother, also, that worship is mine. And if Hagen of Trony tarry behind, who shall lead them through the land? [Since childhood] he hath known the rods hither to the Huns.
The envoys guessed not why she could not leave Hagen of Trony at the Rhine. They knew it afterward to their cost, for, through him, many a knight was brought face to face with grim death.
Letters and greetings were given to them. They rode forth rich in goods, that they might live merrily by the way. They took leave of Etzel and his fair wife. Their bodies were adorned with goodly [clothing].
[Adventures 24-27. The messengers bring the message and invite the Burgundians, who journey to Hungary. On the journey, Hagen has two important encounters involving rivers. First, he meets a belligerent ferryman whom he kills, thus taking over the task for himself of ferrying the passengers across the river (much like Siegfried's own miraculous feat of sailing; and second, he hears a prediction that everyone on the expedition is doomed to die except the chaplain of the expedition. In order to confound the oracle, he throws the chaplain overboard and attempts to drown him, but the chaplain ultimately escapes to the shore they had just left, and in fact makes it back to Burgundy alive. Gelpfrat and Else, the lords to whom the ferryman was answerable, attempt to avenge his murder, but Gelpfrat is himself killed. The company journeys on to Etzel's court. ]
When the Burgundians came into the land, old Hildebrand of Bern heard thereof, and told his master, that he was grieved at the news. He bad him give hearty welcome to the valiant knights.
Bold Wolfhart called for the horses, and many stark warriors rode with Dietrich to greet them on the plain, where they had pitched their goodly tents.
When Hagen of Trony saw them from afar, he spake courteously to his masters, "Arise, ye doughty heroes, and go to meet them that come to welcome you. A company of warriors that I know well draw hither -- the heroes of the Amelung land. They are men of high courage. Scorn not their service."
Then, as was seemly, Dietrich, with many knights and squires, sprang to the ground. They [made haste] to the guests, and welcomed the heroes of Burgundy lovingly.
When Dietrich saw them, he was both glad and sorry; he knew what was toward, and grieved that they [had] come. He deemed that Rudeger was privy to it, and had told them. "Ye be welcome, Gunther and Giselher, Gernot and Hagen; Folker, likewise, and Dankwart the swift. Know ye not that Kriemhild still mourneth bitterly for the hero of the Nibelungs?"
"She will weep awhile," answered Hagen. "This many a year he lieth slain. She did well to comfort her with the king of the Huns. Siegfried will not come again. He is long buried."
"Enough of Siegfried's wounds. While Kriemhild, my mistress, liveth, mischief may well betide. Wherefore, hope of the Nibelungs, beware!" So spake Dietrich of Bern.
"Wherefore should I beware?" said the king. "Etzel sent us envoys (what more could I ask?) bidding us hither to this land. My sister Kriemhild, also, sent us many greetings.
But Hagen said, "Bid Sir Dietrich and his good knights tell us further of this matter that they may show us the mind of Kriemhild."
Then the three kings went apart: Gunther and Gernot and Dietrich.
"Now tell us, noble knight of Bern, what thou knowest of the queen's mind."
The prince of Bern answered, "What can I tell you, save that every morning I have heard Etzel's wife weeping and wailing in bitter woe to the great God of Heaven, because of [mighty] Siegfried's death?"
Said bold Folker, the fiddler, "There is no help for it. Let us ride to the court and see what befalleth us among the Huns."
The bold Burgundians rode to the court right proudly, after the custom of their land. Many bold Huns marvelled much what manner of man Hagen of Trony might be. The folk knew well, from hearsay, that he had slain Siegfried of the Netherland, the [mightiest] of all knights, Kriemhild's husband. Wherefore many questions were asked concerning him. The hero was of great stature; that is certain. HIs shoulders were broad, his hair was grisled; his legs were long, and terrible was his face. He walked with a proud gait.
Then lodging was made ready for the Burgundians. Gunther's attendants lay separate from the others. The queen, [who] greatly hated Gunther, had so ordered it. By this device his yeomen were slain soon after.
Dankwart, Hagen's brother, was marshal. The king commended his men earnestly to his care, that he might give them meat and drink [enough], [which] the bold knight did faithfully and with good will.
Kriemhild went forth with her attendants and welcomed the Nibelungs with false heart. She kissed Giselher and took him by the hand. When Hagen of Trony saw that, he bound his helmet on tighter.
"After such greeting," he said, "Good knights may well take thought. The kings and their men are not all alike welcome. No good cometh of our journey to this [festival]."
She answered, "Let him that is glad to see thee welcome thee. I will not greet thee as a friend. What bringest thou for me from Worms, beyond the Rhine, that thou shouldst be so greatly welcome?"
"This is news," said Hagen, "that knights should bring thee gifts. Had I thought of it, I [might] easily [have] brought thee something. I am rich [enough]."
"Tell me what thou hast done with the Nibelung hoard. That, at the least, was mine own. Ye should have brought it with you into Etzel's land."
"By my troth, lady, I have not touched the Nibelung hoard this many a year. My masters bad me sink it in the Rhine. There it must bide till the day of doom."
Then said the queen, "I thought so. Little hast thou brought thereof, although it was mine own, and held by me [previously]. Many a sad day I have lived for the lack of it and its lord."
"I bring thee the devil!" cried Hagen. "My shield and my harness were [enough] to carry, and my bright helmet, and the sword in my hand. I have brought thee [nothing] further.
"I speak not of my treasure, because I desire the gold. I have so much to give that I need not thy offerings. A murder and a double theft -- it is these that I, unhappiest of women, would have thee make good to me."
Then said the queen to all the knights, "None shall bear weapons in this hall. Deliver them to me, ye knights, that they may be taken in charge."
"Not so, by my troth," said Hagen; "I crave not the honour, great daughter of kings, to have thee bear my shield and other weapons to safe keeping. Thou art a queen here. My father taught me to guard them myself."
"Woe is me!" cried Kriemhild. "Why will not Hagen and my brother give up their shields? They are warned. If I knew him that did it, he should die."
Sir Dietrich answered wrathfully then, "I am he that warned the noble kings, and bold Hagen, the man of Burgundy. Do thy worst, thou devil's wife, I care not!"
Kriemhild was greatly ashamed, for she stood in bitter fear of Dietrich. SHe went from him without a word, but with swift and wrathful glances at her foes.
Then two knights clasped hands -- the one was Dietrich, the other Hagen. Dietrich, the valiant warrior, said courteously, "I grieve to see thee here, since the queen hath spoken thus."
Hagen of Trony answered, "I will all come right."
SO the bold me spake together, and King Etzel saw them, and asked, "I would [like to] know who yonder knight is that Dietrich welcometh so lovingly. He beareth him proudly. Howso is his father hight, he is, [undoubtedly], a goodly warrior."
One of Kriemhild's men answered the king, "He was born at Trony. The name of his father was Aldrian. Albeit now he goeth gently, he is a grim man. I will prove to thee yet that I lie not.
"How shall I find him so grim?" he knew nothing, as yet, of all that the queen contrived against her kinsmen: by reason whereof not one of them escaped alive from the Huns.
"I know Hagen well. He was my vassal. Praise and [great] honour he won here by me. I made him a knight, and gave him my gold. [Because] he proved him faithful, I was ever kind to him. Wherefore I may well know all about him. Wherefore I may well know all about him. I brought two noble children captive to this land -- him and Walter of Spain. Here they grew to manhood. Hagen I sent home again. Walter fled with Hildegund.
So he mused on the good old days, and what had [happened] long ago, for he had seen Hagen, that did him [mighty] service in his youth. Yet now that he was old, he lost by him many a dear friend.
[ Adventures 28 - 38. Kriemhild begins to taunt and abuse Hagen in public, and he snubs her by not rising to greet her. Apprehensive, the Burgundians post a watch at nightfall. At daybreak they go to church, and Hagen makes some menacing comments about the survival of Ortlieb, Etzel's son. Bloedelin [Budli -- historically Bleda], Etzel's brother, challenges Dankwart on the slaying of Siegfried, and is himself killed. Burgundian knights and squires are butchered in their quarters, and the affair escalates into full battle in the hall by Adv. 33. The Burgundians hold the hall, and they fling the corpses out to the Hunnish forces surrounding them. Iring of Denmark attempt to confront Hagen, and is also slain. In Adv. 36, Kriemhild has the hall burned down. Rüdiger, the father-in-law of Giselher but a vassal of Etzel, is slain in action against the Burgundians, and the carnage culminates in Adv. 38, where all of Dietrich's men are slain (except Dietrich himself). ]
Thereupon Sir Dietrich went and got his harness himself. Old Hildebrand helped to arm him. The strong man wept so loud that the house rang with his voice. But soon he was of stout heart again, as [was fitting for] a hero. He did on his armour in wrath. He took a fine-tempered shield in his hand, and they [made haste] to the place -- he and Master Hildebrand.
Then said Hagen of Trony, "I see Sir Dietrich yonder. He cometh to avenge his great loss. This day will show which of us twain is the better man. Howso [strong] of body and grim Sir Dietrich may deem him, I doubt not but I shall stand against him, if he seek vengeance." So spoke Hagen.
Dietrich, [who] was with Hildebrand, heard him. He came where both the knights stood outside the house, leaning against the wall. Good Dietrich laid down his shield, and, moved with deep woe, he said, "Why hast thou so [treated] a homeless knight? What had I done to thee? Thou hast ended all my joy. [You thought] it too little to have slain Rudeger [to harm us]; now thou has robbed me of all my men. I had never done the like to you, O knights. Think on yourselves, and your loss -- the death of your friends, and your [trouble]. [Are you not therefore heavy-hearted?] [Alas!] how bitter to me is Rudeger's death! There was never such woe in this world. Ye have done evilly by me and by yourselves. All the joy I had ye have slain. How shall I ever mourn enough for all my kinsmen?"
"We are not alone to blame," answered Hagen. "Your knights came hither armed and ready, with a great host. [I think] the tale hath not been told to you [correctly]."
"What shall I believe then? Hildebrand said that when my knights of Amelung begged you to give them Rudeger's body, ye answered mockingly, as they stood below."
Then said the prince of Rhineland, "They told me they were come to bear Rudeger hence. I denied them, not to anger thy men, but to grieve Etzel withal. [At that] Wolfhart flew into a passion."
Said the prince of Bern, "There is nothing for it. Of thy knightliness, atone to me for the wrong thou hast done me, and I will avenge it no further. Yield thee captive, thee and thy man, and I will defend thee to the uttermost against the wrath of the Huns. Thou wilt find me faithful and true."
"God in heaven forbid," cried Hagen, "that two knights, armed as we are for battle, should yield them to thee! I would hold it a great shame, and ill done."
"Deny me not," said Dietrich. "Ye have made me heavy-hearted [enough], O Gunther and Hagen; and it is no more than just, that ye make it good. I swear to you, and give you my hand thereon, that I will ride back with you to your own country. I will bring you safely thither, or die with you, and forget my great wrong for your sakes."
"Ask us no more," said Hagen. "It [would be] a shameful tale to tell of us, that two such bold men yielded them captive. I see none save Hildebrand by thy side.
Hildebrand answered, "Ye would do well to take my master's terms; the hour will come, [before] long, when ye would gladly take them, but may not have them."
"[Indeed, I would rather do that]" said Hagen, "than flee mine adversary like a coward, as thou didst, Master Hildebrand. By my troth, I [believed you would withstand] a foeman better."
Cried Hildebrand, "Thou needest not to twit me. Who was it that, by the wask-stone, sat upon his shield when Walter of Spain slew so many of his kinsmen? Thou, thyself, are not void of blame."
Said Sir Dietrich then, "It [is unseemly for] warriors to fight with words like old women. I forbid thee, Master Hildebrand, to say more. Homeless knight that I am, I have grief [enough]. Tell me now, Sir Hagen, what ye good knights said when ye saw me coming armed. Was it not that thou alone wouldst defy me?"
"Thou hast guessed rightly," answered Hagen. "I am ready to prove it with swift blows , if my NIbelung sword break not. I am [angry] that ye would have had us yield [ourselves as captives]."
When Dietrich heard grim Hagen's mind, he caught up his shield, and sprang up the steps. The Nibelung sword rang loud on his mail. Sir Dietrich knew well that the bold man was fierce. The prince of Bern warded off the strokes. He needed not to learn that Hagen was a valiant knight. [In addition], he feared [mighty] Balmung. But ever and anon he struck out warily, till he had overcome Hagen in the strife. He gave him a wound that was deep and wide. Then thought Sir Dietrich, "Thy long travail hath made thee weak. I [would have] little honour in thy death. [I would rather] take thee captive." Not lightly did he prevail. He threw down his shield. He was strong and bold, and he caught Hagen of Trony in his arms. So the valiant man was vanquished. King Gunther grieved sore.
Dietrich bound Hagen, and led him to the queen, and delivered into her hand the boldest knight that ever bore a sword. After her bitter [sorrow], she was glad [enough]. She bowed before the knight for joy. "Blest be thou in soul and body. Thou hast made good to me all my woe. I will thank thee till my dying day."
Then said Dietrich, "Let him live, noble queen. His service may yet atone to thee for what he hath done to thy hurt. Take not vengeance on him, [since] he is bound."
She bade them lead Hagen to a dungeon. There he lay locked up, and none saw him.
Then King Gunther called aloud, "Where is the hero of Bern? He hath done me a grievous wrong."
Sir Dietrich went to meet him. Gunther was a man of might. He tarried not, but ran toward him from the hall. Loud was the din of their swords.
Howso famed Dietrich was from [times before], Gunther was so wroth and so fell, and so bitterly his foeman, by reason of the wrong he had endured, that it was a marvel Sir Dietrich came off alive. They were stark and mighty men both. Palace and towers echoed with their blows, as their swift swords hewed their good helmets. A high-hearted king was Gunther.
But the knight of Bern overcame him, as he had done Hagen. His blood gushed from his harness by reason of the good sword that Dietrich carried. Yet Gunther had defended him well, for all he was so weary.
The knight was bound by Dietrich's hand, albeit a king should never wear such bonds. Dietrich deemed, if he left Gunther and his man free, they would kill all they met.
He took him by the hand, and led him before Kriemhild. Her sorrow was lighter when she saw him. She said, "Thou art welcome, King Gunther."
He answered, "I would thank thee, dear sister, if thy greeting were in love. But I know thy fierce mind, and that thou mockest me and Hagen.
Then said the prince of Bern, "Most high queen, there were never nobler captives than these I have delivered here into thy hands. Let the homeless knights live for my sake."
She promised him she would do it gladly, and good Dietrich went forth weeping. Yet soon Etzel's wife took grim vengeance, by reason whereof both the valiant men perished. She kept them in dungeons, apart, [so] that neither saw the other again till she bore her brother's head to Hagen. [Indeed], Kriemhild's vengeance was bitter.
The queen went to Hagen, and spake angrily to the knight. "Give me back what thou hast taken from me, and ye may both win back alive to Burgundy."
But grim Hagen answered, "Thy words are wasted, noble queen. I have sworn to show the hoard to none. While one of its masters liveth, none other shall have it."
"I will end the matter," said the queen. Then she bade them slay her brother, and they smote off his head. She carried it by the hair to the knight of Trony. He was grieved [enough].
When the sorrowful man saw his master's head, he cried to Kriemhild, "Thou hast wrought all thy will. It hath fallen out as I deemed it must. The noble King of Burgundy is dead; and Giselher the youth, and [also] Gernot. None knoweth of the treasure now save God and me. Thou shalt never see it, devil that thou art."
She said, "I come off ill in the reckoning. I will keep Siegfried's sword at the least. My true love wore it when I saw him last. My bitterest heart's [sorrow] was for him."
She drew it from the sheath. He could not hinder it. She purposed to slay the knight. She lifted it high with both hands, and smote off his head.
King Etzel saw it, and sorrowed. "Alack!" cried the king, "The best warrior that ever rode to battle, or bore a shield, hath fallen by the hand of a woman! [Even though] I was his foeman, I must grieve."
Then said Master Hildebrand, "His death shall not profit her. I care not what come of it. Though I came [to harm] by him myself, I will avenge the death of the bold knight of Trony."
Hildebrand sprang fiercely at Kriemhild, and slew her with his sword. She suffered sore by his anger. Her loud cry helped her not.
Dead bodies lay stretched all over. The queen was hewn in pieces. Etzel and Dietrich began to weep. They wailed piteously for kinsmen and vassals. [Much] valour lay there slain. The folk were doleful and dreary.
The end of the king's [festival] was woe, even as, at the last, all joy turneth to sorrow.
I know not what fell after. Christian and heathen, wife, man, and maid, were seen weeping and mourning for their friends.