How They Journeyed
To The Feasting.
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #31
Let us now take leave of all their bustling, and tell how Lady Kriemhild and her maidens journeyed from the Nibelung land down toward the Rhine. Never did sumpters bear so much lordly raiment. They made ready for the way full many traveling chests. Then Siegfried, the knight, and the queen as well, rode forth with their friends to where they had hope of joys. Later it sped them all to their great harm. They left Siegfried's little child, Kriemhild's son, at home. That must needs be. Great grief befell him through their journey to the court. The bairn never saw his father and his mother more. With them, too, there rode Lord Siegmund. Had he known aright how he would fare at the feasting, no whit of it would he have seen. No greater woe might ever hap to him in loving friends.
Messengers were sent ahead, who told the tale. Then with a stately band there rode to meet them many of Uta's kith and Gunther's liegemen. The host gan bestir him for his guests. He went to where Brunhild sate and asked: "How did my sister greet you when ye came to our land? In like manner must ye greet Siegfried's wife."
"That will I gladly," quoth she, "for I have good cause to be her friend."
The mighty king spake further: "They come to us early on the morrow; if ye would greet them, set quickly to work, that we abide them not within the castle. At no time have such welcome guests ever come to see me."
At once she bade her maids and ladies hunt out goodly raiment, the best they had, the which her train should wear before the guests. One may lightly say, they did this gladly. Gunther's men hasted also for to serve them, and around him the host did gather all his knights. Then the queen rode forth in princely wise and mickle greeting of the welcome guests was done. With what great joy did they receive them! It thought them as though Lady Kriemhild had not greeted Lady Brunhild so fair in the Burgundian land. Those who had never seen her became acquaint with lofty mood.
Now was Siegfried come with his liegemen. One saw the heroes wending to and fro upon the plain in unwieldy bands. None might guard him there against the jostling and the dust.
When that the ruler of the land spied Siegfried and Siegmund, how lovingly he spake: "Now be ye full welcome to me and all my friends; we shall be of good cheer because of this your journey to our court."
"Now God requite you," quoth Siegmund, the honor-seeking man; "sith my son Siegfried won you to kinsman, my heart hath urged that I should go to see you."
At this spake Gunther: "Now hath joy happed to me thereby."
Siegfried was received with much great worship as beseemed him; none bare him hatred there. Giselher and Gernot helped thereby with great courtesie. I ween, never have guests been greeted in such goodly wise.
Then the wives of the two kings drew near each other. Emptied were many saddles, as fair ladies were lifted down by knightly hands upon the sward. How busy were those who gladly served the dames! The lovely women now drew near each other, and many a knight was blithe, that such fair greeting passed between the twain. Then one saw great press of warriors standing by the high-born maids. The lordly meiny (1) grasped each other by the hand. Much courteous bowing was seen and loving kisses from fair-fashioned dames. This liked well Gunther's and Siegfried's liegemen for to see. They bided now no longer, but rode to town. The host bade show his guests full well that all were fain to see them in the Burgundian land. Many a royal joust took place before the high-born maids. Hagen of Troneg and Ortwin, too, proved full well their prowess. One durst not leave undone whatso they would command. Much service was rendered by them to the welcome guests. Many shields were heard resound from thrusts and blows before the castle gate. The host and his guests tarried long time without, or ever they came within. Forsooth the hours passed quickly for them with their sports. Merrily they rode before the royal palace. Many cunning housings (2) of good cloth and well cut were seen hanging on either side from the saddles of the fair-fashioned dames.
Then came Gunther's liegemen. Men bade lead the strangers quickly to their easement. At times one saw Brunhild glance at Lady Kriemhild, who was passing fair enow. Her color against the gold gave back the gleam in lovely wise. On every side in Worms one heard the courtiers shout. Gunther bade Dankwart, his marshal, have them in his care, who then gan lodge the retinue in goodly wise. One let them eat within and eke without. Never were stranger guests better cared for. Men gave them gladly all they craved; so rich was the king, that not a wish was there denied. Men served them in friendly wise without all hate. The host now took his seat at table with his guests. One bade Siegfried be seated where he sate afore. Then many a stately man went with him to the seats. Twelve hundred warriors in sooth did sit at his round table. Brunhild thought her that a vassal could not be mightier than he; yet she was still so friendly to him that she did not wish his death.
On an evening when the king was seated at the board, many costly robes were wet with wine, as the butlers hied them to the tables. Full service was given there with mickle zeal. As hath long been the wont at feasts, men bade the ladies and the maids be given fair lodgment. From wherever they were come, the host bare them right good will. One gave them all enow with goodly honors.
When the night had an end and the day appeared, many a precious stone from the sumpter chests sparkled on goodly weeds, as they were touched by woman's hand. Many a lordly robe was taken forth. Or ever the day had fully dawned, many knights and squires came out before the hall. Then rose a merry rout before the early mass, which was sung for the king. There young heroes rode so well that the king did cry them mercy. Many a trumpet rang out passing loud, and the noise of drums and flutes did grow so great that the broad town of Worms reechoed with the sound. The high-mettled heroes horsed them everywhere. Then there rose in the land high knightly play from many a doughty champion; one saw a great rout of them whose youthful hearts beat high, and many a dapper knight and a good stood armed with shield. At the easements sate the high-born dames and many comely maids, decked out in brave attire. They watched the pastimes of the many valiant men. The host himself gan tilt there with his friends. Thus they passed the time, the which seemed aught but long.
Then from the dome was heard the sound of many bells. The palfreys came, the ladies rode away; but many a bold man followed the noble queens. They alighted on the green before the minster; Brunhild was still friendly to her guests. Wearing crowns, they entered the spacious church. Later their love was parted, which caused great hate. When they had heard the mass, they rode away again with many honors and were soon seen going merrily to table. Their pleasure at the feasting did not flag until the eleventh day.
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(1) "Meiny" (M.E. "meiny", O.F. "mesnee"), 'courtiers', 'serving folk'. (2) "Housings", 'saddle cloths'.