Nibelungs - George Upton




The Two Queens

Another wedding festival was held at Santen, even more splendid than that at Worms. King Siegmund made over the crown and kingdom to Siegfried, and in due time a son was born to Kriemhild, whom she named Gunther, for her brother. Messengers were sent to Burgundy to announce the joyful event, but at the same time came news to Santen of the birth of a son likewise to King Gunther, and him they called Siegfried. And now for Siegfried and Kriemhild ten happy years went by. Great was their love for each other, and much were they beloved, for Siegfried ruled the kingdom wisely and with a mighty arm.

Many times had Brunhild questioned King Gunther concerning Siegfried, seeming to marvel greatly that he no longer paid service to his liege; but Gunther, though greatly displeased thereat, ever held his peace, nor would he make reply to her words. At length she professed a great desire to see Siegfried and Kriemhild once again, declaring that Gunther as his sovereign might command Siegfried's presence whensoever it pleased him. Gunther, foreboding evil, made for excuse the great distance between them, but so strongly did Brunhild urge the matter that at last the King was forced to yield and bid his sister with her lord as guests to Worms.

Now when the Margrave Gere and his thirty men came to the Netherlands, it chanced that King Siegfried was then in the land of the Nibelungs, and thither they sought him, bearing the message from Gunther and Brunhild. Supposing the King to be again beset by foes he declared himself ready to set out at once to his relief, but the Margrave made him aware that not to do battle was he bidden, but to celebrate the feast of the equinox about to be held in Worms. Siegfried thereupon took counsel with his chiefs, who deemed it prudent that he should go attended by not less than a thousand knights, while his father, Siegmund, made ready to accompany him with his own band of a hundred warriors.

Laden with costly gifts, the messengers returned to Burgundy with the news that Siegfried would shortly follow. But when Hagen beheld the treasures they brought with them he secretly coveted the Nibelung hoard and longed to see it all in Worms.

Meanwhile Gunther had not failed to recall to Brunhild the loving welcome she had met with from Kriemhild when first she came to Burgundy, and charged her now not to be in any way behind in her greetings to his sister, and Brunhild gave her word thereto. On the appointed day the whole Burgundian court rode forth to meet the expected guests, and right joyous was their welcome. The whole city was given up to feasting and rejoicing, and all went well for eleven days, when a grand tournament was held. It chanced, as the two Queens sat at a window looking on at the jousting, that Kriemhild, rapt in watching Siegfried, exclaimed:

"Ah! look thou upon my lord! So brave and knightly doth he bear him, as were the whole world's homage but his due."

This displeased the haughty Brunhild, and she replied scornfully: "Ay, so indeed, perchance, were thou and he alone upon the earth."

But Kriemhild, her gaze still fixed on Siegfried, continued: "How truly noble is my royal spouse! Methinks among yon chiefs he is so far the first as doth the moon outshine the starry host!"

"Rare and matchless though he be, forsooth," returned Brunhild, "yet is he not so great a King as is my Gunther!"

At this Kriemhild's anger began to rise, and she cried out: "In no way is Siegfried behind thy lord or any man on earth!" Whereupon Brunhild with and evil glance at Kriemhild declared that Siegfried with his own lips had owned himself vassal to King Gunther when they came to Iceland for the wooing. Kriemhild was greatly troubled, yet she answered proudly:

"Were my lord in truth what thou sayest, then methinks it passing strange that he hath paid no tribute to Gunther as his liege lord in all these many years."

"By my faith, thou dost presume to much!" cried Brunhild, furiously. "We shall see anon whether thou or I be most deserving homage!"

With this the Queens parted, bitter anger swelling in their breasts.