Nibelungs - George Upton




Siegfried Visits The Nibelungs

Hastening to the ship, Siegfried once more donned the cap and put out to sea. The ship seemed to be moving of itself, for Siegfried was invisible, but urged on by his strong arm and a favoring wind that filled the sails, it sped along so fast that the end of a day and night found him an hundred miles from Iceland. On the second day he came to the shores of the land of the Nibelungs, which he had once conquered and made subject to him. Before the King's castle he landed, and wishing to discover first of all if the treasure was well guarded, knocked at the gate. The porter, who was a giant, asked:

"Who knocks?"

And Siegfried, disguising his voice, replied: "One who would fain exchange blows with thee!"

Thereupon the giant, seizing his iron staff, rushed forth and attacked Siegfried, who defended himself stoutly, till a mighty blow split his shield Goldrand. Then was he in great peril, yet it pleased him well to find such zeal in his service. At last Siegfried smote the giant so that he stumbled and fell; whereupon he quickly seized and bound him.

The clash of arms, however, had reached the ears of Alberich the dwarf, who was guardian of the treasure; and now, clad in helm and shirt of mail, his terrible whip in hand, he sprang upon Siegfried. Thereupon Siegfried grasped him by his long gray beard and soon overpowered him. Then Alberich besought him to spare his life, saying:

"I would gladly own thee master, but I have already sworn faith to another—the mighty Siegfried."

At this Siegfried made himself known, and releasing the dwarf, said: "In sooth, good Alberich, I did but try thee, to prove thy faith."

Overjoyed, the dwarf cried: "Now is it indeed meet that such a master should be lord of all the land!"

The giant was set free and well praised for his valor; and thereafter Siegfried bade the dwarf awaken the Nibelungs, for that he had need of a thousand men. Alberich obeyed; and when they heard that Siegfried was come again, they sprang up joyfully and hastened to the lighted hall to greet him. By the next day full thirty thousand had assembled, but of these Siegfried chose but a thousand of the strongest and bravest, and with them sailed away.

Oft, meantime, did Gunther watch anxiously across the sea, when one day, having mounted with Brunhild and all her court to the battlements of the castle, he saw the ships of Siegfried and his Nibelungs approaching. Marvelling greatly, Brunhild asked who might be these strangers whose sails gleamed so white, and whose armor shone so dazzlingly in the sunlight; and Gunther answered joyously:

Siegfried and Alberich.

SIEGFRIED VANQUISHES ALBERICH.


Now, forsooth, are these my own bold warriors, come to fetch me home!"

Soon Siegfried strode to shore with the Nibelungs and the Queen gave them gracious welcome.

The King was eager to depart, nor did Brunhild gainsay him, but leaving her uncle to rule over Iceland in her stead, she took leave of her people and sailed away with Gunther to Burgundy.

And with her from their native land

Went many a damsel fair.

No longer might they seek delay

Their sovereign's lot to share.

With bitter tears, farewells they spoke;

They hasten to the strand,

For nevermore shall they return

Unto the fatherland.

The sails are spread, a favoring gale

Soon speeds them on their track;

Of joyous sports to pass the time

In truth was there no lack.

Yet when bold Iceland's rocky shores

Had passed from sight at last,

What sorrow fills each maiden breast!

Their tears fall thick and fast.