Gudrun - George Upton


Hartmut now went to his sister and said: "I pray thee, comfort Gudrun and be a sister to her, so many bitter griefs hath she been forced to bear. Seek, too, to turn her heart toward me by kindness. Canst thou but do this, my sister, then will I owe thee thanks so long as I do live!"

Ortrun wept for joy at these words, and embracing her brother fondly, replied: "Happy indeed shall I he once more to see thy love. Our mother forbade me to approach her, and great grief was this to me."

Then said Hartmut: "Henceforth thou shalt share all thy joys with her, dear Ortrun. Perchance if we make her happy here with us her heart may yet be mine."

Joyfully Ortrun hastened to Gudrun and besought her love and friendship, telling her the good news that hereafter by Hartmut's desire they were to share the same chamber; and the two royal maidens acknowledged they had missed and longed for one another.

Happier days dawned for Gudrun. She spent all her time with Ortrun, whose only thought was to cheer her sorrowful companion. When Gudrun talked of her home and people, she listened with loving interest or shared her tears. She would gladly have welcomed the Danish princess as her sister-in-law and lost no opportunity to speak good of Hartmut, whom she dearly loved. But as time went on, she saw more and more clearly that her friend's constancy was unalterable; and it troubled her greatly, for she foresaw more evil days for Gudrun. So the Winter passed, and the Summer, and another Winter drew nigh.

Then Gerlinda persuaded her son to ask Gudrun for the last time to share his throne. So he went to her and besought her once more to be his Queen. Again she refused; whereat Hartmut asked her if he was not as worthy of her love as Herwig, but she only said: "Herwig hath my promise, and I will not break it."

Hartmut assured her that Herwig must have already broken faith with her, since for all these years he had allowed his sword to rust in its sheath and had made no effort to rescue her.

"In truth I know not why this should be," she answered; "yet even if he hath forgotten me, still will I be true to him till death."

So Hartmut went back to Gerlinda and said: "Naught will alter the maiden's resolution. I can do no more; wherefore take her and deal with her as thou wilt."

Then he warned his knights to be on their guard. "For if the friends and kindred of Gudrun be as steadfast as she hath proved herself," he said, "it yet may chance an army shall invade our land."