THE STORY OF THE VOLSUNGS
Atli bids the Giukings to him
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #29
Now tells the tale that on a night King Atli woke from sleep and spake to Gudrun --
"Medreamed," said he, "that thou didst thrust me through with a sword."
Then Gudrun areded the dream, and said that it betokened fire, whenas folk dreamed of iron. "It befalls of thy pride belike, in that thou deemest thyself the first of men,"
Atli said, "Moreover I dreamed that here waxed two sorb-tree (1) saplings, and fain I was that they should have no scathe of me; then these were riven up by the roots and reddened with blood, and borne to the bench, and I was bidden eat thereof.
"Yea, yet again I dreamed that two hawks flew from my hand hungry and unfed, and fared to hell, and meseemed their hearts were mingled with honey, and that I ate thereof.
"And then again I dreamed that two fair whelps lay before me yelling aloud, and that the flesh of them I ate, though my will went not with the eating."
Gudrun says, "Nowise good are these dreams, yet shall they come to pass; surely thy sons are nigh to death, and many heavy things shall fall upon us."
"Yet again I dreamed," said he, "and methought I lay in a bath, and folk took counsel to slay me."
Now these things wear away with time, but in nowise was their life together fond.
Now falls Atli to thinking of where may be gotten that plenteous gold which Sigurd had owned, but King Gunnar and his brethren were lords thereof now.
Atli was a great king and mighty, wise, and a lord of many men; and now he falls to counsel with his folk as to the ways of them. He wotted well that Gunnar and his brethren had more wealth than any others might have, and so he falls to the rede of sending men to them, and bidding them to a great feast, and honouring them in diverse wise, and the chief of those messengers was hight Vingi.
Now the queen wots of their conspiring, and misdoubts her that this would mean some beguiling of her brethren: so she cut runes, and took a gold ring, and knit therein a wolf's hair, and gave it into the hands of the king's messengers.
Thereafter they go their ways according to the king's bidding: and or ever they came aland Vingi beheld the runes, and turned them about in such wise as if Gudrun prayed her brethren in her runes to go meet King Atli.
Thereafter they came to the hall of King Gunnar, and had good welcome at his hands, and great fires were made for them, and in great joyance they drank of the best of drink.
Then spake Vingi, "King Atli sends me hither, and is fain that ye go to his house and home in all glory, and take of him exceeding honours, helms and shields, swords and byrnies, gold and goodly raiment, horses, hosts of war, and great and wide lands, for, saith he, he is fainest of all things to bestow his realm and lordship upon you."
Then Gunnar turned his head aside, and spoke to Hogni --
"In what wise shall we take this bidding? Might and wealth he bids us take; but no kings know I who have so much gold as we have, whereas we have all the hoard which lay once on Gnitaheath; and great are our chambers, and full of gold, and weapons for smiting, and all kinds of raiment of war, and well I wot that amidst all men my horse is the best, and my sword the sharpest and my gold the most glorious."
Hogni answers, "A marvel is it to me of his bidding, for seldom hath he done in such a wise, and ill counselled will it be to wend to him; lo now, when I saw those dear-bought things the king sends us I wondered to behold a wolfs hair knit to a certain gold ring; belike Gudrun deems him to be minded as a wolf towards us, and will have naught of our faring."
But withal Vingi shows him the runes which he said Gudrun had sent.
Now the most of folk go to bed, but these drank on still with certain others; and Kostbera, the wife of Hogni, the fairest of women, came to them, and looked on the runes.
But the wife of Gunnar was Glaumvor, a great hearted wife.
So these twain poured out, and the kings drank and were exceeding drunken, and Vingi notes it, and says --
"Naught may I hide that King Atli is heavy of foot and over-old for the warding of his realm; but his sons are young and of no account: now will he give you rule over his realms while they are yet thus young, and most fain will he be that ye have the joy thereof before all others."
Now so it befell both that Gunnar was drunk, and that dominion was held out to him, nor might he work against the fate shapen for him; so he gave his word to go, and tells Hogni his brother thereof.
But he answered, "Thy word given must even stand now, nor will I fail to follow thee, but most loth am I to journey."
Go to Chapter XXXV
(1) Service-tree; "pyrus sorbus domestica", or "p. s. tormentalis.