How Siegfried Journeyed
Homeward With His Wife.
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #31
When now the strangers had all ridden hence, Siegmund's son spake to his fellowship: "We must make us ready, too, to journey to my lands."
Lief was it to his wife, when the lady heard the tale aright. She spake to her husband: "When shall we ride? I pray thee, make me not haste too sore. First must my brothers share their lands with me."
It was loth to Siegfried, when he heard this from Kriemhild. The lordings hied them to him and all three spake: "Now may ye know, Sir Siegfried, that our true service be ever at your bidding till our death."
Then he made obeisance to the knights, as it was proffered him in such kindly wise. "We shall share with you," spake Giselher, the youth, "both land and castles which we do own and whatever broad realms be subject to our power. Of these ye and Kriemhild shall have a goodly share."
The son of Siegmund spake to the princes, as he heard and saw the lordings' will: "God grant that ye be ever happy with your heritage and the folk therein. My dear bride can well forego in truth the share which ye would give. There where she shall wear a crown, she shall be mightier than any one alive, and live to see the day. For whatsoever else ye do command, I stand ready to your bidding."
Then spake the Lady Kriemhild: "Though ye forego my heritage, yet is it not so light a matter with the Burgundian men-at-arms. A king might gladly lead them to his land. Forsooth my brothers' hands must share them with me."
Then spake the Lord Gernot: "Now take whomsoever thou dost wish. Thou wilt find here really a one who'll gladly ride with thee. We will give thee a thousand of our thirty hundred warriors; be they thy court retainers."
Kriemhild then gan send for Hagen of Troneg and also for Ortwin, to ask if they and their kinsfolk would be Kriemhild's men.
At this Hagen waxed wonderly wroth. He spake: "Certes, Gunther may not give us to any in the world. Let others follow as your train. Ye know full well the custom of the men of Troneg: we must in duty bound remain here with the kings at court. We must serve them longer, whom we till now have followed."
They gave that over and made them ready to ride away. Lady Kriemhild gained for herself two and thirty maids and five hundred men, a noble train. The Margrave Eckewart (1) followed Kriemhild hence. They all took leave, both knights and squires and maids and ladies, as was mickle right. Anon they parted with a kiss and voided merrily King Gunther's land. Their kinsmen bare them company far upon the way and bade them pitch their quarters for the night, whereso they listed, throughout the princes' land.
Then messengers were sent eftsoon to Siegmund, that he might know, and Siegelind, too, that his son would come with Lady Uta's child, Kriemhild, the fair, from Worms beyond the Rhine. Liefer tidings might they never have. "Well for me," spake then Siegmund, "that I have lived to see fair Kriemhild here as queen. My heritage will be thereby enhanced. My son, the noble Siegfried, shall himself be king."
Then the Lady Siegelind gave much red velvet, silver, and heavy gold; this was the envoy's meed. The tale well liked her, which then she heard. She clad her and her handmaids with care, as did beseem them. Men told who was to come with Siegfried to the land. Anon they bade seats be raised, where he should walk crowned before his friends. King Siegmund's liegemen then rode forth to meet him. Hath any been ever better greeted than the famous hero in Siegmund's land, I know not. Siegelind, the fair, rode forth to meet Kriemhild with many a comely dame (lusty knights did follow on behind), a full day's journey, till one espied the guests. Home-folk and the strangers had little easement till they were come to a spacious castle, hight Xanten, (2) where they later reigned.
Smilingly Siegelind and Siegmund kissed Kriemhild many times for joy and Siegfried, too; their sorrow was taken from them. All their fellowship received great welcome. One bade now bring the guests to Siegmund's hall, and lifted the fair young maids down from the palfreys. Many a knight gan serve the comely dames with zeal. However great the feasting at the Rhine was known to be, here one gave the heroes much better robes than they had worn in all their days. Of their splender great marvels might be told. When now they sate in lofty honors and had enow of all, what gold-hued clothes their courtiers wore with precious stones well worked thereon! Thus did Siegelind, the noble queen, purvey them well.
Then to his friends Lord Siegmund spake: "I do all Siegfried's kin to wit, that he shall wear my crown before these knights." Those of Netherland heard full fain the tale. He gave his son the crown, the cognizance, (3) and lands, so that he then was master of them all. When that men went to law and Siegfried uttered judgment, that was done in such a wise that men feared sore fair Kriemhild's husband.
In these high honors Siegfried lived, of a truth, and judged as king, till the tenth year was come, when his fair lady bare a son. This was come to pass after the wish of the kinsmen of the king. They hastened to baptize and name him Gunther for his uncle; nor had he need to be ashamed of this. Should he grow like to his kinsman, he would fare full well. They brought him up with care, as was but due. In these same times the Lady Siegelind died, and men enow made wail when death bereft them of her. Then the child of the noble Uta held withal the power over the lands, which well beseemed such high-born dames. (4)
Now also by the Rhine, as we hear tell, at mighty Gunther's court, in the Burgundian land, Brunhild, the fair, had born a son. For the hero's sake they named him Siegfried. With what great care they bade attend him! The noble Gunther gave him masters who well wot how to bring him up to be a doughty man. Alas, what great loss of kin he later suffered through misfortune! Many tales were told all time, of how right worshipfully the lusty knights dwelt alway in Siegmund's land. Gunther dealt the same with his distinguished kin. The Nibelung land and Schilbung's knights and the goods of both served Siegfried here (none of his kinsmen ever waxed mightier than he). So much the higher rose the mood of the valiant man. The very greatest heard that any hero ever gained, save those who owned it aforetime, the bold man had, the which he had won by his own hand hard by a hill, and for which he did many a lusty knight to death. He had honors to his heart's desire, and had this not been so, yet one must rightly aver of the noble champion, that he was one of the best that ever mounted horse. Men feared his might and justly, too.
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(1) "Eckewart", see Adventure I, note 15. (2) "Xanten", see Adventure II, note 3. (3) "Cognizance", 'jurisdiction.' (4) "Dames", i.e., Siegelind and Kriemhild.