Gudrun - George Upton




Hartmut Fights with Wate

When the warden on the tower made known the fall of King Ludwig, loud shrieks and cries of woe arose within the castle. These Hartmut heard, and asking their cause, was told his father had been slain. Then looking about him and seeing how they were beset on all sides, he said to his followers: "Honor enough have we won to-day. Let us withdraw into the castle and await a more favorable opportunity for a fresh attack."

His knights followed him gladly, for they were weary with much strife; but when they sought to turn back they found the way was barred. Wate with his men was already fighting before the great gates. Beams and stones were being flung upon them from the walls, and bolts fell thick as hail-stones from the clouds, but Wate heeded them not; his thoughts were bent only upon victory. Between him and the Normans the dead lay piled by hundreds, and Hartmut said:

"By my faith, 'tis a mighty foe we have to deal with, and well are they wreaking vengeance for their ancient wrongs. If we would reach the gates once more, we must encounter heavy odds, for look! the enemy is there before us on every hand. Yonder wave Siegfried's colors, yet our warriors press him hard. At the other gate, 'tis plain by the sword-points on his banner that Ortwin fights, and many shall fall ere he sheathes his sword. On that side is Herwig with his followers. None can deny 'tis in true knightly fashion he doth battle for his bride. In truth, we have tarried too long on the field, and I know not which way to turn. Long will they wait for us within the castle, much I fear, for neither by craft nor yet by secret passage may we pass its walls. Naught remains to us save to dismount and cleave a way for ourselves with our swords."

Accordingly they all sprang from their horses, which they turned loose, and therewith began their perilous attempt.

Hartmut sought out Wate, thinking if he could but slay that mighty champion they might succeed in gaining entrance to the castle. No sooner did Wate see Hartmut approaching than he sprang to meet him. High in the air rose the dust from the feet of the heroes, and they smote one another so fiercely that the clang of sword-strokes on shield and helm was like the sound of hammers in a forge.