THE STORY OF THE VOLSUNGS
How the Queens held angry converse
together at the Bathing
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #29
On a day as the Queens went to the river to bathe them, Brynhild waded the farthest out into the river; then asked Gudrun what that deed might signify.
Brynhild said, "Yea, and why then should I be equal to thee in this matter more than in others? I am minded to think that my father is mightier than thine, and my true love has wrought many wondrous works of fame, and hath ridden the flaming fire withal, while thy husband was but the thrall of King Hjalprek."
Gudrun answered full of wrath, "Thou wouldst be wise if thou shouldst hold thy peace rather than revile my husband: lo now, the talk of all men it is, that none has ever abode in this world like unto him in all matters soever; and little it beseems thee of all folk to mock him who was thy first beloved: and Fafnir he slew, yea, and he rode thy flaming fire, whereas thou didst deem that he was Gunnar the King, and by thy side he lay, and took from thine hand the ring Andvari's-loom; -- here mayst thou well behold it!"
Then Brynhild saw the ring and knew it, and waxed as wan as a dead woman, and she went home and spake no word the evening long.
So when Sigurd came to bed to Gudrun she asked him why Brynhild's joy was so departed.
He answered, "I know not, but sore I misdoubt me that soon we shall know thereof overwell."
Gudrun said, "Why may she not love her life, having wealth and bliss, and the praise of all men, and the man withal that she would have?"
"Ah, yea!" said Sigurd, "and where in all the world was she then, when she said that she deemed she had the noblest of all men, and the dearest to her heart of all?"
Gudrun answers, "Tomorn will I ask her concerning this, who is the liefest to her of all men for a husband."
Sigurd said, "Needs must I forbid thee this, and full surely wilt thou rue the deed if thou doest it."
Now the next morning they sat in the bower, and Brynhild was silent; then spake Gudrun --
"Be merry, Brynhild! Grievest thou because of that speech of ours together, or what other thing slayeth thy bliss?"
Brynhild answers, "With naught but evil intent thou sayest this, for a cruel heart thou hast."
"Say not so," said Gudrun; "but rather tell me all the tale."
Brynhild answers, "Ask such things only as are good for thee to know -- matters meet for mighty dames. Good to love good things when all goes according to thy heart's desire!"
Gudrun says, "Early days for me to glory in that; but this word of thine looketh toward some foreseeing. What ill dost thou thrust at us? I did naught to grieve thee."
Brynhild answers, "For this shalt thou pay, in that thou hast got Sigurd to thee, -- nowise can I see thee living in the bliss thereof, whereas thou hast him, and the wealth and the might of him."
But Gudrun answered, "Naught knew I of your words and vows together; and well might my father look to the mating of me without dealing with thee first."
"No secret speech had we," quoth Brynhild, "though we swore oath together; and full well didst thou know that thou wentest about to beguile me; verily thou shalt have thy reward!"
Says Gudrun, "Thou art mated better than thou are worthy of; but thy pride and rage shall be hard to slake belike, and there for shall many a man pay."
"Ah, I should be well content," said Brynhild, "if thou hadst not the nobler man!"
Gudrun answers, "So noble a husband hast thou, that who knows of a greater king or a lord of more wealth and might?"
Says Brynhild, "Sigurd slew Fafnir, and that only deed is of more worth than all the might of King Gunnar."
(Even as the song says) --"The worm Sigurd slew, Nor ere shall that deed Be worsened by age While the world is alive. But thy brother the King Never durst, never bore The flame to ride down Through the fire to fare."Gudrun answers, "Grani would not abide the fire under Gunnar the King, but Sigurd durst the deed, and thy heart may well abide without mocking him."
Brynhild answers, "Nowise will I hide from thee that I deem no good of Grimhild."
Says Gudrun, "Nay, lay no ill words on her, for in all things she is to thee as to her own daughter."
"Ah," says Brynhild, "she is the beginning of all this hale that biteth so; an evil drink she bare to Sigurd, so that he had no more memory of my very name."
"All wrong thou talkest; a lie without measure is this," quoth Gudrun.
Brynhild answered, "Have thou joy of Sigurd according to the measure of the wiles wherewith ye have beguiled me! Unworthily have ye conspired against me; may all things go with you as my heart hopes!"
Gudrun says, "More joy shall I have of him than thy wish would give unto me: but to no man's mind it came, that he had aforetime his pleasure of me; nay not once."
"Evil speech thou speakest," says Brynhild; "when thy wrath runs off thou wilt rue it; but come now, let us no more cast angry words one at the other!"
Says Gudrun, "Thou wert the first to cast such words at me, and now thou makest as if thou wouldst amend it, but a cruel and hard heart abides behind."
"Let us lay aside vain babble," says Brynhild. "Long did I hold my peace concerning my sorrow of heart, and, lo now, thy brother alone do I love; let us fall to other talk."
Gudrun said, "Far beyond all this doth thine heart look."
And so ugly ill befell from that going to the river, and that knowing of the ring, wherefrom did all their talk arise.
Go to Chapter XIX