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The Nibelungenlied - Translated into Rhymed English Verse in the Metre of the Original
by trans. by George Henry Needler
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1223

Eke not else desired / the noble Ruediger Than that by the lady / leave thus granted were: He knew himself so skilful, / might he such favor earn, So should he her full certain / from her spoken purpose turn.

1224

Upon the morrow early / when that the mass was sung Came the noble messengers, / whereof a mickle throng. They that should Sir Ruediger / to court bear company, Many a man full stately / in rich apparel might ye see.

1225

Kriemhild, dame high-stated, / —full sad she was of mood— There Ruediger awaited, / the noble knight and good. He found her in such raiment / as daily she did wear: The while were her attendants / in dresses clad full rich and rare,

1226

Unto the threshold went she / the noble guest to meet, And the man of Etzel / did she full kindly greet. Twelve knights there did enter, / himself and eleven more, And well were they received: / to her such guests came ne'er before.

1227

The messenger to seat him / and his men they gave command. The twain valiant margraves / saw ye before her stand, Eckewart and Gere, / the noble knights and keen, Such was the lady's sorrow, / none saw ye there of cheerful mien.

1228

They saw before her sitting / full many a lady fair, And yet the Lady Kriemhild / did naught but sorrow there. The dress upon her bosom / was wet with tears that fell, And soon the noble margrave / perceived her mickle grief full well.

1229

Then spake the lofty messenger: / "Daughter of king full high, To me and these my fellows / that bear me company Deign now the grace to grant us / that we before thee stand And tell to thee the tidings / wherefore we rode unto thy land."

1230

"That grace to thee is granted," / spake the lofty queen; "Whate'er may be thy message, / I'll let it now be seen That I do hear it gladly: / thou'rt welcome messenger." That fruitless was their errand / deemed the others well to hear.

1231

Then spake of Bechelaren / the noble Ruediger: "Pledge of true love unto thee / from lofty king I bear, Etzel who bids thee, lady, / here royal compliment: He hath to woo thy favor / knights full worthy hither sent.

1232

"His love to thee he offers / full heartily and free: Fidelity that lasteth / he plighteth unto thee, As erst to Lady Helke / who o'er his heart held sway. Yea, thinking on her virtues / hath he full oft had joyless day."

1233

Then spake the royal lady: / "O Margrave Ruediger, If that known to any / my sharp sorrows were, Besought then were I never / again to take me spouse. Such ne'er was won by lady / as the husband I did lose."

1234

"What is that sootheth sorrow," / the valiant knight replied, "An be't not loving friendship / whene'er that may betide, And that each mortal choose him / who his delight shall be? Naught is that so availeth / to keep the heart from sorrow free.

1235

"Wilt thou minded be to love him, / this noble master mine, O'er mighty crowns a dozen / the power shall be thine. Thereto of princes thirty / my lord shall give thee land, The which hath all subdued / the prowess of his doughty hand.

1236

"O'er many a knight full worthy / eke mistress shalt thou be That my Lady Helke / did serve right faithfully, And over many a lady / that served amid her train, Of high and royal lineage," / spake the keen and valiant thane.

1237

"Thereto my lord will give thee / —he bids to thee make known— If that beside the monarch / thou deign'st to wear a crown, Power in fullest measure / that Helke e'er might boast: The same in lordly manner / shalt thou wield o'er Etzel's host."

1238

Then spake the royal lady: / "How might again my life Have thereof desire / to be a hero's wife? Hath death in one already / wrought me such sorrows sore, That joyless must my days be / from this time for evermore."

1239

Then spake the men of Hunland: / "O royal high lady, Thy life shall there by Etzel / so full of honor be Thy heart 'twill ever gladden / if but may be such thing: Full many a thane right stately / doth homage to the mighty king.

1240

"Might but Helke's maidens / and they that wait on thee E'er be joined together / in one royal company, Well might brave knights to see them / wax merry in their mood. Be, lady, now persuaded / —'tis verily thy surest good."

1241

She spake in courteous manner: / "Let further parley be Until doth come the morrow. / Then hither come to me. So will I give my answer / to bear upon your way." The noble knights and worthy / must straight therein her will obey.

1242

When all from thence were parted / and had their lodgings sought, Then bade the noble lady / that Giselher be brought, And eke with him her mother. / To both she then did tell That meet for her was weeping, / and naught might fit her mood so well.

1243

Then spake her brother Giselher: / "Sister, to me 'tis told— And well may I believe it— / that thy grief manifold Etzel complete will scatter, / an tak'st thou him for man. Whate'er be other's counsel, / meseems it were a thing well done."

1244

Further eke spake Giselher: / "Console thee well may he. From Rhone unto Rhine river, / from Elbe unto the sea, King there is none other / that holds so lordly sway. An he for spouse do take thee, / gladden thee full well he may."

1245

"Brother loved full dearly, / wherefore dost counsel it? To mourn and weep forever / doth better me befit. How may I 'mid warriors / appear in royal state? Was ever fair my body, / of beauty now 'tis desolate."

1246

Then spake the Lady Ute / her daughter dear unto: "The thing thy brother counsels, / my loving child, that do. By thy friends be guided, / then with thee well 'twill be. Long time it now hath grieved me / thee thus disconsolate to see."

1247

Then prayed she God with fervor / that he might her provide With store of gold and silver / and raiment rich beside, As erstwhile when her husband / did live a stately thane: Since then so happy hour / never had she known again.

1248

In her own bosom thought she: / "An shall I not deny My body to a heathen / —a Christian lady I— So must I while life lasteth / have shame to be my own. An gave he realms unnumbered, / such thing by me might ne'er be done."

1249

And there withal she left it. / The night through until day, Upon her couch the lady / with mind full troubled lay. Nor yet her eyes full shining / of tears at all were free, Until upon the morrow / forth to matins issued she.

1250

When for mass was sounded, / came there the kings likewise. Again did they their sister / by faithful word advise To take for spouse unto her / of Hunland the king. All joyless was the visage / they saw the lady thither bring.

1251

They bade the men of Etzel / thither lead again, Who unto their country / fain their leave had ta'en, Their message won or fruitless, / how that soe'er might be. Unto the court came Ruediger. / Full eager were his company

1252

By the knight to be informed / how the thing befell, And if betimes they knew it / 'twould please them all full well, For weary was the journey / and long unto their land. Soon did the noble Ruediger / again in Kriemhild's presence stand.

1253

In full earnest manner / then the knight gan pray The high royal lady / that she to him might say What were from her the message / to Etzel he should bear. Naught but denial only / did he from the lady hear,

1254

For that her love might never / by man again be won. Thereto spake the margrave: / "Ill such thing were done. Wherefore such fair body / wilt thou to ruin give? Spouse of knight full worthy / may'st thou yet in honor live."

1255

Naught booted how they besought her, / till that Ruediger Spake in secret manner / in the high lady's ear, How Etzel should requite her / for ills she e'er did know. Then gan her mickle sorrow / milder at the thought to grow.

1256

Unto the queen then spake he: / "Let now thy weeping be. If 'mong the Huns hadst thou / other none than me And my faithful kinsmen / and my good men alone, Sorely must he repay it / who hath aught to thee of evil done."

1257

Thereat apace all lighter / the lady's sorrow grew, She spake: "So swear thou truly, / what any 'gainst me do, That thou wilt be the foremost / my sorrows to requite." Thereto spake the margrave: / "Lady, to thee my word I plight."

1258

With all his men together / sware then Ruediger Faithfully to serve her, / and in all things whatsoe'er Naught would e'er deny her / the thanes from Etzel's land, Whereof she might have honor: / thereto gave Ruediger his hand.

1259

Then thought the faithful lady: / "Since I thus have won Band of friends so faithful, / care now have I none How shall speak the people / in my sore need of me. The death of my loved husband / perchance shall yet avenged be."

1260

Thought she: "Since hath Etzel / so many knights and true, An shall I but command them, / whate'er I will I do. Eke hath he such riches / that free may be my hand: Bereft of all my treasure / by Hagen's faithless art I stand."

1261

Then spake she unto Ruediger: / "Were it not, as I do know, The king is yet a heathen, / so were I fain to go Whithersoe'er he willed it, / and take him for my lord." Thereto spake the margrave: / "Lady, no longer hold such word.

1262

"Such host he hath of warriors / who Christians are as we, That beside the monarch / may care ne'er come to thee. Yea, may he be baptized / through thee to Christian life: Well may'st thou then rejoice thee / to be the royal Etzel's wife."

1263

Then spake again her brother: / "Sister, thy favor lend, That now all thy sorrow / thereby may have an end." And so long they besought her / that full of sadness she Her word at length had plighted / the monarch Etzel's wife to be.

1264

She spake: "You will I follow, / I most lorn lady, That I fare to Hunland, / as soon as it may be That I friends have ready / to lead me to his land." Before the knights assembled / fair Kriemhild pledged thereto her hand.

1265

Then spake again the margrave: / "Two knights do serve thee true, And I thereof have many: / 'tis easy thing to do, That thee with fitting honor / across the Rhine we guide. Nor shalt thou, lady, longer / here in Burgundy abide.

1266

"Good men have I five hundred, / and eke my kinsmen stand Ready here to serve thee / and far in Etzel's land, Lady, at thy bidding. / And I do pledge the same, Whene'er thou dost admonish, / to serve thee without cause for shame.

1267

"Now bid with full equipment / thy horses to prepare: Ruediger's true counsel / will bring thee sorrow ne'er; And tell it to thy maidens / whom thou wilt take with thee. Full many a chosen warrior / on the way shall join our company."

1268

They had full rich equipment / that once their train arrayed The while that yet lived Siegfried, / so might she many a maid In honor high lead with her, / as she thence would fare. What steeds all rich caparisoned / awaited the high ladies there!

1269

If till that time they ever / in richest dress were clad, Thereof now for their journey / full store was ready made, For that they of the monarch / had such tidings caught. From chests longtime well bolted / forth the treasures rich were brought.

1270

Little were they idle / until the fifth day, But sought rich dress that folded / secure in covers lay. Kriemhild wide did open / all her treasure there, And largess great would give she / unto the men of Ruediger.

1271

Still had she of the treasure / of Nibelungenland, (She weened the same in Hunland / to deal with bounteous hand) So great that hundred horses / ne'er the whole might bear. How stood the mind of Kriemhild, / came the tidings unto Hagen's ear.

1272

He spake: "Since Kriemhild never / may me in favor hold, E'en so here must tarry / Siegfried's store of gold. Wherefore unto mine enemies / such mickle treasure go? What with the treasure Kriemhild / intendeth, that full well I know.

1273

"Might she but take it thither, / in sooth believe I that, 'Twould be dealt out in largess / to stir against me hate. Nor own they steeds sufficient / the same to bear away. 'Twill safe be kept by Hagen / —so shall they unto Kriemhild say."

1274

When she did hear the story, / with grief her heart was torn. Eke unto the monarchs / all three the tale was borne. Fain would they prevent it: / yet when that might not be, Spake the noble Ruediger / in this wise full joyfully:

1275

"Wherefore, queen full stately, / weep'st thou o'er this gold? For thee will King Etzel / in such high favor hold When but his eyes behold thee, / to thee such store he'll give That ne'er thou may'st exhaust it: / that, lady, by my word believe."

1276

Thereto the queen gave answer: / "Full noble Ruediger, Greater treasure never / king's daughter had for share Than this that Hagen from me / now hath ta'en away." Then went her brother Gernot / to the chamber where the treasure lay.

1277

With force he stuck the monarch's / key into the door, And soon of Kriemhild's treasure / they from the chamber bore Marks full thirty thousand / or e'en more plenteously. He bade the guests to take it, / which pleased King Gunther well to see.

1278

Then Gotelinde's husband / of Bechelaren spake: "An if my Lady Kriemhild / with her complete might take What treasure e'er came hither / from Nibelungenland, Ne'er a whit would touch it / mine or my royal lady's hand.

1279

"Now bid them here to keep it, / for ne'er the same I'll touch. Yea brought I from my country / of mine own wealth so much, That we upon our journey / may be full well supplied, And ne'er have lack in outlay / as in state we homeward ride."

1280

Chests well filled a dozen / from the time of old Had for their own her maidens, / of the best of gold That e'er ye might discover: / now thence away 'twas borne, And jewels for the ladies / upon the journey to be worn.

1281

Of the might she yet was fearful / of Hagen grim and bold. Still had she of mass-money / a thousand marks in gold, That gave she for the soul's rest / of her husband dear. Such loving deed and faithful / did touch the heart of Ruediger.

1282

Then spake the lady mournful: / "Who now that loveth me, And for the love they bear me / may willing exiles be, Who with me to Hunland / now away shall ride? Take they of my treasure / and steeds and meet attire provide."

1283

Then did the margrave Eckewart / answer thus the queen: "Since I from the beginning / of thy train have been, Have I e'er right faithful / served thee," spake the thane, "And to the end I'll ever / thus faithful unto thee remain.

1284

"Eke will I lead with me / five hundred of my men, Whom I grant to serve thee / in faithful way again. Nor e'er shall we be parted / till that we be dead." Low bowing thanked him Kriemhild, / as verily might be his meed.

1285

Forth were brought the horses, / for that they thence would fare. Then was a mickle weeping / of friends that parted there. Ute, queen full stately, / and many a lady more Showed that from Lady Kriemhild / to part did grieve their hearts full sore.

1286

A hundred stately maidens / with her she led away, And as for them was fitting, / full rich was their array. Many a bitter tear-drop / from shining eye fell down: Yet joys knew they full many / eke in Etzel's land anon.

1287

Thither came Sir Giselher / and Gernot as well, And with them train of followers, / as duty did compel. Safe escort would they furnish / for their dear sister then, And with them led of warriors / a thousand brave and stately men.

1288

Then came the valiant Gere, / and Ortwein eke came he: Rumold the High Steward / might not absent be. Unto the Danube did they / night-quarters meet provide. Short way beyond the city / did the royal Gunther ride.

1289

Ere from the Rhine they started / had they forward sent Messengers that full quickly / unto Hunland went, And told unto the monarch / how that Ruediger For spouse at length had won him / the high-born queen beyond compare.



TWENTY-FIRST ADVENTURE

How Kriemhild fared to the Huns

1290

The messengers leave we riding. / Now shall ye understand How did the Lady Kriemhild / journey through the land, And where from her were parted / Gernot and Giselher. Upon her had they waited / as faithful unto her they were.

1291

As far as to the Danube / at Vergen did they ride, Where must be the parting / from their royal sister's side, For that again they homeward / would ride unto the Rhine. No eye but wet from weeping / in all the company was seen.

1292

Giselher the valiant / thus to his sister said: "If that thou ever, lady, / need hast of my aid, And fronts thee aught of trouble, / give me to understand, And straight I'll ride to serve thee / afar unto King Etzel's land."

1293

Upon the mouth then kissed she / all her friends full dear. The escort soon had taken / eke leave of Ruediger And the margrave's warriors / in manner lovingly. With the queen upon her journey / went many a maid full fair to see.

1294

Four beyond a hundred / there were, all richly clad In silk of cunning pattern. / Many a shield full broad On the way did guard the ladies / in hand of valiant thane. Full many a stately warrior / from thence did backward turn again.

1295

Thence away they hastened / down through Bavarian land. Soon were told the tidings / how that was at hand A mickle host of strangers, / where a cloister stands from yore And where the Inn its torrent / doth into Danube river pour.

1296

At Passau in the city / a lordly bishop bode. Empty soon each lodging / and bishop's palace stood: To Bavarian land they hastened / the high guests to meet, And there the Bishop Pilgrim / the Lady Kriemhild fair did greet.

1297

The warriors of that country / no whit grieved they were Thus to see follow with her / so many a maiden fair. Upon those high-born ladies / their eyes with joy did rest, Full comfortable quarters / prepared they for each noble guest.

1298

With his niece the bishop / unto Passau rode. When among the burghers / the story went abroad, That thither was come Kriemhild, / the bishop's niece full fair, Soon did the towns-people / reception meet for her prepare.

1299

There to have them tarry / was the bishop fain. To him spake Sir Eckewart: / "Here may we not remain. Unto Ruediger's country / must we journey down. Thanes many there await us, / to whom our coming well is known."

1300

The tidings now knew likewise / Lady Gotelinde fair. Herself and noble daughter / did them quick prepare. Message she had from Ruediger / that he well pleased would be, Should she unto Lady / Kriemhild show such courtesy,

1301

That she ride forth to meet her, / and bring his warriors true Upward unto the Ense. / When they the tidings knew, Saw ye how on all sides / they thronged the busy way. Forth to meet the strangers / rode and eke on foot went they.

1302

As far as Everdingen / meanwhile was come the queen: In that Bavarian country / on the way were never seen Robbers seeking plunder, / as e'er their custom was: Of fear from such a quarter / had the travellers little cause.

1303

'Gainst that had well provided / the noble margrave: A band he led that numbered / good thousand warriors brave. There was eke come Gotelinde, / spouse of Ruediger, And bearing her high company / full many noble knights there were.

1304

When came they o'er the Traune / by Ense on the green, There full many an awning / outstretched and tent was seen, Wherein that night the strangers / should find them welcome rest. Well was made provision / by Ruediger for each high guest.

1305

Not long fair Gotelinde did in her quarters stay, But left them soon behind her. / Then coursed upon the way With merry jingling bridle / many a well-shaped steed. Full fair was the reception: / whereat was Ruediger right glad.

1306

On one side and the other / did swell the stately train Knights that rode full gaily, / many a noble thane. As they in joust disported, / full many a maid looked on, Nor to the queen unwelcome / was the riders' service done.

1307

As rode there 'fore the strangers / the men of Ruediger, From shaft full many a splinter / saw ye fly in air In hand of doughty warrior / that jousted lustily. Them might ye 'fore the ladies / pricking in stately manner see.

1308

Anon therefrom they rested. / Knights many then did greet Full courteously each other. / Then forth Kriemhild to meet Went the fair Gotelinde, / by gallant warriors led. Those skilled in lady's service, / —little there the rest they had.

1309

The lord of Bechelaren / unto his lady rode. Soon the noble margravine / her high rejoicing showed, That all safe and sound he / from the Rhine was come again. The care that filled her bosom / by mickle joy from her was ta'en.

1310

When him she had received, / her on the green he bade Dismount with all the ladies / that in her train she led. There saw ye all unidle / many a knight of high estate, Who with full ready service / upon the ladies then did wait.

1311

Then saw the Lady Kriemhild / the margravine where she stood Amid her fair attendants: / nearer not she rode. Upon the steed that bore her / the rein she drew full tight, And bade them straightway help her / adown from saddle to alight.

1312

The bishop saw ye leading / his sister's daughter fair, And with him eke went Eckewart / to Gotelinde there. The willing folk on all sides / made way before their feet. With kiss did Gotelinde / the dame from land far distant greet.

1313

Then spake in manner kindly / the wife of Ruediger; "Right glad am I, dear lady, / that I thy visage fair Have in this our country / with mine own eyes seen. In these times might never / greater joy to me have been."

1314

"God give thee meed," spake Kriemhild, / "Gotelinde, for this grace. If with son of Botelung / happy may be my place, May it henceforth be thy profit / that me thou here dost see." Yet all unknown to either / was that which yet anon must be.

1315

With curtsy to each other / went full many a maid, The knights a willing service / unto the ladies paid. After the greeting sat they / adown upon the green; Knew many then each other / that hitherto had strangers been.

1316

For the ladies they poured refreshment. / Now was come mid-day, And did those high attendants / there no longer stay, But went where found they ready / many a spreading tent. Full willing was the service / unto the noble guests they lent.

1317

The night through until morning / did they rest them there. They of Bechelaren / meanwhile did prepare That into fitting quarters / each high guest be brought. 'Twas by the care of Ruediger / that never one did want for aught.

1318

Open ye saw the windows / the castle walls along, And the burgh at Bechelaren / its gates wide open flung, As through the guests went pricking, / that there full welcome were. For them the lord full noble / had bidden quarters meet prepare.

1319

Ruediger's fair daughter / with her attendant train Came forth in loving manner / to greet the lofty queen. With her was eke her mother / the stately margravine; There full friendly greeting / of many a maiden fair was seen.

1320

By the hand they took each other / and thence did pass each pair Into a Hall full spacious, / the which was builded fair, And 'neath its walls the Danube / flowed down with rushing tide. As breezes cool played round them, / might they full happy there abide.

1321

What they there did further, / tell it not I can. That they so long did tarry, / heard ye the knights complain That were of Kriemhild's company, / who unwilling there abode. What host of valiant warriors / with them from Bechelaren rode!

1322

Full kindly was the service / did render Ruediger, Likewise gave Lady Kriemhild / twelve golden armbands rare To Gotelinde's daughter, / and dress so richly wrought That finer was none other / that into Etzel's land she brought.

1323

Though Nibelungen treasure / from her erstwhile was ta'en, Good-will of all that knew her / did she e'er retain With such little portion / as yet she did command. Unto her host's attendants / dealt she thereof with bounteous hand.

1324

The Lady Gotelinde / such honors high again Did pay in gracious manner / to the guests afar from Rhine That of all the strangers / found ye never one That wore not rich attire / from her, and many a precious stone.

1325

When they their fast had broken / and would thence depart, The lady of the castle / did pledge with faithful heart Unto the wife of Etzel / service true to bear. Kriemhild caressed full fondly / the margravine's young daughter fair.

1326

To the queen then spake the maiden: / "If e'er it pleaseth thee, Well know I that my father / dear full willingly Unto thee will send me / where thou livest in Hunland." That faithful was the maiden, / full well did Kriemhild understand.

1327

Now ready were the horses / the castle steps before, And soon the queen full stately / did take her leave once more Of the lovely daughter / and spouse of Ruediger. Eke parted with fair greeting / thence full many a maiden fair.

1328

Each other they full seldom / thereafter might behold. From Medelick were carried / beakers rich of gold In hand and eke full many, / wherein was sparkling wine: Upon the way were greeted / thus the strangers from the Rhine.

1329

High there a lord was seated, / Astold the name he bore, Who that into Osterland / did lead the way before As far as to Mautaren / adown the Danube's side. There did they fitting service / for the lofty queen provide.

1330

Of his niece the bishop / took leave in loving wise. That she well should bear her, / did he oft advise, And that she win her honor / as Helke erst had done. Ah, how great the honor / anon that 'mid the Huns she won!

1331

Unto the Traisem brought they / forth the strangers then. Fair had they attendance / from Ruediger's men, Till o'er the country riding / the Huns came them to meet. With mickle honor did they / then the royal lady greet.

1332

For had the king of Hunland, / Traisem's stream beside, A full mighty castle, / known afar and wide, The same hight Traisenmauer: / Dame Helke there before Did sit, such bounteous mistress / as scarce ye ever might see more,

1333

An it were not Kriemhild / who could such bounty show, That after days of sorrow / the pleasure she might know, To be held in honor / by Etzel's men each one: That praise in fullest measure / had she amid those thanes anon.

1334

Afar the might of Etzel / so well was known around, That at every season / within his court were found Knights of all the bravest, / whereof ye e'er did hear In Christian lands or heathen: / with him all thither come they were.

1335

By him at every season, / as scarce might elsewhere be, Knights both of Christian doctrine / and heathen use saw ye. Yet in what mind soever / did each and every stand, To all in fullest measure / dealt the king with bounteous hand.



TWENTY-SECOND ADVENTURE

How Etzel kept the Wedding-feast with Kriemhild

1336

At Traisenmauer she tarried / until the fourth day. Upon the road the dust-clouds / meanwhile never lay. But rose like smoke of fire / around on every side: Onward then through Austria / King Etzel's warriors did ride.

1337

Then eke unto the monarch / such tidings now were told, That at the thought did vanish / all his grief of old, In what high manner Kriemhild / should in his land appear. Then gan the monarch hasten / where he did find the lady fair.

1338

Of many a tongue and varied / upon the way were seen Before King Etzel riding / full many warriors keen, Of Christians and of heathen / a spreading company. To greet their coming mistress / forth they rode in fair array.

1339

Of Reuss men and Greeks there / great was the tale, And rapid saw ye riding / the Wallach and the Pole On chargers full of mettle / that they did deftly guide. Their own country's custom / did they in no wise lay aside.

1340

From the land of Kief / rode there full many a thane, And the wild Petschenegers. / Full many a bow was drawn, As at the flying wild-fowl / through air the bolt was sped. With might the bow was bended / as far as to the arrow's head.

1341

A city by the Danube / in Osterland doth stand, Hight the same is Tulna: / of many a distant land Saw Kriemhild there the customs, / ne'er yet to her were known. To many there did greet her / sorrow befell through her anon.

1342

Before the monarch Etzel / rode a company Of merry men and mighty, / courteous and fair to see, Good four-and-twenty chieftains, / mighty men and bold. Naught else was their desire / save but their mistress to behold.

1343

Then the Duke Ramung / from far Wallachia With seven hundred warriors / dashed forth athwart her way: Their going might ye liken / unto birds in flight. Then came the chieftain Gibeke, / with his host a stately sight.

1344

Eke the valiant Hornbog / with full thousand men From the king went forward / to greet his mistress then. After their country's custom / in joy they shouted loud; The doughty thanes of Hunland / likewise in merry tourney rode.

1345

Then came a chief from Denmark, / Hawart bold and keen, And the valiant Iring, / in whom no guile was seen, And Irnfried of Thuringia, / a stately knight to see: Kriemhild they greeted / that honor high therefrom had she,

1346

With good knights twelve hundred / whom led they in their train. Thither with three thousand / came Bloedel eke, the thane That was King Etzel's brother / out of Hunland: Unto his royal mistress / led he then his stately band.

1347

Then did come King Etzel / and Dietrich by his side With all his doughty fellows. / In state there saw ye ride Many a knight full noble, / valiant and void of fear. The heart of Lady Kriemhild / did such host of warriors cheer.

1348

Then to his royal mistress / spake Sir Ruediger: "Lady, now give I greeting / to the high monarch here. Whom to kiss I bid thee, / grant him such favor then: For not to all like greeting / may'st thou give 'mid Etzel's men."

1349

They lifted then from saddle / the dame of royal state. Etzel the mighty monarch / might then no longer wait, But sprang from off his charger / with many a warrior keen: Unto Kriemhild hasting / full joyously he then was seen.

1350

As is to us related, / did there high princes twain By the lady walking / bear aloft her train, As the royal Etzel / went forward her to meet, And she the noble monarch / with kiss in kindly wise did greet.

1351

Aside she moved her wimple, / whereat her visage fair Gleamed 'mid the gold around it. / Though many a knight stood there, They deemed that Lady Helke / did boast not fairer face. Full close beside the monarch / his brother Bloedel had his place.

1352

To kiss him then Margrave / Ruediger her did tell, And eke the royal Gibeke / and Sir Dietrich as well. Of highest knights a dozen / did Etzel's spouse embrace; Other knights full many / she greeted with a lesser grace.

1353

All the while that Etzel / stood by Kriemhild so, Did the youthful riders / as still they're wont to do: In varied tourney saw ye / each 'gainst the other pass, Christian knights and heathen, / as for each the custom was.

1354

From men that followed Dietrich / saw ye in kindly wise Splinters from the lances / flying high arise Aloft above their bucklers, / from hand of good knight sent! By the German strangers / pierced was many a shield and rent.

1355

From shaft of lances breaking / did far the din resound. Together came the warriors / from all the land around, Eke the guests of the monarch / and many a knight there was. Thence did the mighty monarch / then with Lady Kriemhild pass.

1356

Stretched a fair pavilion / beside them there was seen: With tents as well was covered / all around the green, Where they now might rest them / all that weary were. By high-born knights was thither / led full many a lady fair.

1357

With their royal mistress, / where in rich cushioned chair Sat the queen full stately. / 'Twas by the margrave's care That well had been provided, / with all that seemed good, A worthy seat for Kriemhild: / thereat was Etzel glad of mood.

1358

What was by Etzel spoken, / may I not understand. In his right hand resting / lay her fair white hand. They sat in loving fashion, / nor Ruediger would let The king have secret converse / with Lady Kriemhild as yet.

1359

'Twas bidden that the jousting / on all sides they give o'er. The din of stately tourney / heard ye then no more. All the men of Etzel / unto their tents did go, For every warrior present / did they full spacious lodging show.

1360

And now the day was ended / and they did rest the night Until beheld they shining / once more the morning light. Soon on charger mounted / again was many a man: Heigho, what merry pastime, / the king to honor, they began!

1361

By the Huns the monarch / bade honors high be shown. Soon rode they forth from Tulna / unto Vienna town, Where found they many a lady / decked out in fair array: The same the monarch Etzel's / wife received in stately way.

1362

In very fullest measure / upon them there did wait Whate'er they might desire. / Of knights the joy was great, Looking toward the revel. / Lodging then sought each one. The wedding of the monarch / was in merry wise begun.

1363

Yet not for all might lodging / within the town be had. All that were not strangers, / Ruediger them bade That they find them lodgings / beyond the city's bound. I ween that at all seasons / by Lady Kriemhild's side was found

1364

The noble Sir Dietrich / and many another thane, Who amid their labors / but little rest had ta'en, That the guests they harbored / of merry mood should be. For Ruediger and his companions / went the time full pleasantly.

1365

The wedding time was fallen / upon a Whitsuntide, When the monarch Etzel / lay Kriemhild beside In the town at Vienna. / So many men I ween Through her former husband / had not in her service been.

1366

Many that ne'er had seen her / did her rich bounty take, And many a one among them / unto the strangers spake: "We deemed that Lady Kriemhild / of wealth no more had aught Now hath she by her giving / here full many a wonder wrought."

1367

The wedding-feast it lasted / for days full seventeen. Ne'er of other monarch / hath any told, I ween, That wedded with more splendor: / of such no tale we hear. All that there were present, / new-made apparel did they wear.

1368

I ween that far in Netherland / sat she ne'er before Amid such host of warriors. / And this believe I more: Was Siegfried rich in treasure, / that yet he ne'er did gain, As here she saw 'fore Etzel, / so many a high and noble thane.

1369

Nor e'er gave any other / at his own wedding-tide So many a costly mantle / flowing long and wide, Nor yet so rich apparel / —so may ye well believe— As here from hand of Kriemhild / did they one and all receive.

1370

Her friends and eke the strangers / were of a single mind, That they would not be sparing / of treasure in any kind: What any from them desired, / they gave with willing hand. Many a thane from giving / himself of clothing reft did stand.

1371

How by her noble husband / at the Rhine a queen she sat, Of that she still was minded, / and her eye grew wet thereat. Yet well she kept it hidden / that none the same might mark. Now had she wealth of honor / after long years of sorrow dark.

1372

What any did with bounty, / 'twas but an idle wind By side of Dietrich's giving: / what Etzel's generous mind Before to him had given, / complete did disappear. Eke wrought there many a wonder / the hand of bounteous Ruediger.

1373

Bloedelein the chieftain / that came from Hunland, Full many a chest to empty / did he then command, Of gold and eke of silver. / That did they freely give. Right merrily the warriors / of the monarch saw ye live.

1374

Likewise the monarch's minstrels / Werbel and Schwemmelein, Won they at the wedding / each alone, I ween, Marks a good thousand / or even more than that, Whenas fair Lady Kriemhild / 'neath crown by royal Etzel sat.

1375

Upon the eighteenth morning / from Vienna town they went. Then in knightly pastime / many a shield was rent By spear full well directed / by doughty rider's hand. So came the royal Etzel / riding into Hunland.

1376

At Heimburg's ancient castle / they tarried over night. Tell the tale of people / no mortal ever might, And the number of good warriors / did o'er the country come. Ah, what fairest women / were gathered unto Etzel's home!

1377

By Miesenburg's majestic / towers did they embark. With horses eke and riders / the water all was dark, As if 'twere earth they trod on, / as far as eye might see. The way-worn ladies rested / now on board right pleasantly.

1378

Now was lashed together / many a boat full good, That no harm they suffered / from the waves and flood. Many a stately awning / likewise above them spread, Just as if beneath them / had they land and flowery mead.

1379

When to Etzelburg the tidings / soon were borne along, Therein of men and women / were seen a merry throng. Who once the Lady Helke / as mistress did obey, Anon by Lady Kriemhild / lived they many a gladsome day.

1380

There did stand expectant / full many a maid high-born, That since the death of Helke / had pined all forlorn. Daughters of seven monarchs / Kriemhild there waiting found, That were the high adornment / of all King Etzel's country round.

1381

Herrat, a lofty princess, / did all the train obey, Sister's child to Helke, / in whom high virtues lay, Betrothed eke of Dietrich, / of royal lineage born, Daughter of King Nentwein; / her did high honors eft adorn.

1382

Against the strangers' coming / her heart with joy flowed o'er: Eke was thereto devoted / of wealth a mickle store. Who might e'er give the picture, / how the king eft sat on throne? Nor had with any mistress / the Huns such joyous living known.

1383

As with his spouse the monarch / up from the river came, Unto the noble Kriemhild / of each they told the name 'Mong them that she did find there: / she fairer each did greet. Ah, how mighty mistress / she long did sit in Helke's seat!

1384

Ready and true the service / to her was offered there. The queen dealt out in plenty / gold and raiment rare, Silver eke and jewels. / What over Rhine she brought With her unto Hunland, / soon thereof retained she naught.

1385

Eke in faithful service / she to herself did win All the king's warriors / and all his royal kin, —So that ne'er did Lady Helke / so mighty power wield As until death to Kriemhild / such host did willing service yield.

1386

Thus stood so high in honor / the court and country round, That there at every season / was pleasant pastime found By each, whithersoever / his heart's desire might stand: That wrought the monarch's favor / and the queen's full bounteous hand.



TWENTY-THIRD ADVENTURE

How Kriemhild thought to avenge her Wrong

1387

In full lordly honor, / —truth is that ye hear— Dwelt they with each other / until the seventh year. Meanwhile Lady Kriemhild / a son to Etzel bore, Nor gladder might the monarch / be o'er aught for evermore.

1388

Yet would she not give over, / nor with aught be reconciled, But that should be baptized / the royal Etzel's child After Christian custom: / Ortlieb they did him call. Thereat was mickle joyance / over Etzel's borders all.

1389

Whate'er of highest virtues / in Lady Helke lay, Strove the Lady Kriemhild / to rival her each day. Herrat the stranger maiden / many a grace she taught, Who yet with secret pining / for her mistress Helke was distraught.

1390

To stranger and to native / full well she soon was known, Ne'er monarch's country, said they, / did royal mistress own That gave with freer bounty, / that held they without fear. Such praise she bore in Hunland, / until was come the thirteenth year.

1391

Now had she well perceived / how all obeyed her will, As service to royal mistress / king's knights do render still, And how at every season / twelve kings 'fore her were seen. She thought of many a sorrow / that wrought upon her once had been.

1392

Eke thought she of lordly power / in Nibelungenland That she erstwhile had wielded, / and how that Hagen's hand Of it all had reft her / with her lord Siegfried dead; She thought for so great evil / how might he ever be repaid.

1393

"'Twould be, might I but bring him / hither into this land." She dreamed that fondly led her / full often by the hand Giselher her brother, / full oft in gentle sleep Thought she to have kissed him, / wherefrom he sorrow soon must reap.

1394

I ween the evil demon / was Kriemhild's counsellor That she her peace with Gunther / should sacred keep no more, Whom she kissed in friendly token / in the land of Burgundy. Adown upon her bosom / the burning tears fell heavily.

1395

On her heart both late and early / lay the heavy thought, How that, herself all guiltless, / thereto she had been brought, That she must share in exile / a heathen monarch's bed. Through Hagen eke and Gunther / come she was to such sore need.

1396

From her heart such longing / seldom might she dismiss. Thought she: "A queen so mighty / I am o'er wealth like this, That I upon mine enemies / may yet avenge me well. Fain were I that on Hagen / of Tronje yet my vengeance fell.

1397

"For friends that once were faithful / full oft my heart doth long. Were they but here beside me / that wrought on me such wrong, Then were in sooth avenged / my lover reft of life; Scarce may I bide that hour," / spake the royal Etzel's wife.

1398

Kriemhild they loved and honored, / the monarch's men each one, As they that came there with her: / well might the same be done. The treasure wielded Eckewart, / and won good knights thereby. The will of Lady Kriemhild might / none in all that land deny.

1399

She mused at every season: / "The king himself I'll pray,"— That he to her the favor / might grant in friendly way, To bring her kinsmen hither / unto Hunland. What vengeful thought she cherished / might none soever understand.

1400

As she in stillest night-time / by the monarch lay (In his arms enclosed he held her, / as he was wont alway To caress the noble lady: / she was to him as life), Again unto her enemies / turned her thoughts his stately wife.

1401

She spake unto the monarch: / "My lord full dear to me, Now would I pray a favor, / if with thy grace it be, That thou wilt show unto me / if merit such be mine That unto my good kinsmen / truly doth thy heart incline."

1402

The mighty monarch answered / (from guile his heart was free): "Of a truth I tell thee, / if aught of good may be The fortune of thy kinsmen, / —of that I were full fain, For ne'er through love of woman / might I friends more faithful gain."

1403

Thereat again spake Kriemhild: / "That mayst thou well believe, Full high do stand my kinsmen; / the more it doth me grieve That they deign so seldom / hither to take their way. That here I live a stranger, / oft I hear the people say."

1404

Then spake the royal Etzel: / "Beloved lady mine, Seemed not too far the journey, / I'd bid from yond the Rhine Whom thou wouldst gladly welcome / hither unto my land." Thereat rejoiced the lady / when she his will did understand.

1405

Spake she: "Wilt thou true favor / show me, master mine, Then shall thou speed thy messengers / to Worms across the Rhine. Were but my friends acquainted / what thing of them I would, Then to this land came hither / full many a noble knight and good."

1406

He spake: "Whene'er thou biddest, / straight the thing shall be. Thyself mightst ne'er thy kinsmen / here so gladly see, As I the sons of Ute, / high and stately queen. It grieveth me full sorely / that strangers here so long they've been.

1407

"If this thing doth please thee, / beloved lady mine, Then gladly send I thither / unto those friends of thine As messengers my minstrels / to the land of Burgundy." He bade the merry fiddlers / lead before him presently.

1408

Then hastened they full quickly / to where they found the king By side of Kriemhild sitting. / He told them straight the thing, How they should be his messengers / to Burgundy to fare. Full stately raiment bade he / for them straightway eke prepare.

1409

Four and twenty warriors / did they apparel well. Likewise did the monarch / to them the message tell, How that they King Gunther / and his men should bid aright. Them eke the Lady Kriemhild / to secret parley did invite.

1410

Then spake the mighty monarch: / "Now well my words attend. All good and friendly greeting / unto my friends I send, That they may deign to journey / hither to my country. Few be the guests beside them / that were so welcome unto me.

1411

"And if they be so minded / to meet my will in aught, Kriemhild's lofty kinsmen, / that they forego it not To come upon the summer / here where I hold hightide, For that my joy in living / doth greatly with my friends abide."

1412

Then spake the fiddle-player, / Schwemmelein full bold: "When thinkst thou in this country / such high feast to hold, That unto thy friends yonder / tell the same we may?" Thereto spake King Etzel: / "When next hath come midsummer day."

1413

"We'll do as thou commandest," / spake then Werbelein. Unto her own chamber / commanded then the queen To bring in secret manner / the messengers alone. Thereby did naught but sorrow / befall full many a thane anon.

1414

She spake unto the messengers: / "Mickle wealth I give to you, If my will in this matter / right faithfully ye do, And bear what tidings send I / home unto our country. I'll make you rich in treasure / and fair apparelled shall ye be.

1415

"And friends of mine so many / as ever see ye may At Worms by Rhine river, / to them ye ne'er shall say That any mood of sorrow / in me ye yet have seen. Say ye that I commend me / unto the knights full brave and keen."

1416

"Pray them that to King Etzel's / message they give heed, Thereby to relieve me / of all my care and need, Else shall the Huns imagine / that I all friendless am. If I but a knight were, / oft would they see me at their home.

1417

"Eke say ye unto Gernot, / brother to me full dear, To him might never any / disposed be more fair; Pray him that he bring hither / unto this country All our friends most steadfast, / that we thereby shall honored be.

1418

"Say further eke to Giselher / that he do have in mind, That by his guilt I never / did cause for sorrow find; Him therefore would I gladly / here with mine own eyes see, And give him warmest welcome, / so faithful hath he been to me.

1419

"How I am held in honor, / to my mother eke make plain. And if of Tronje Hagen / hath mind there to remain, By whom might they in coming / through unknown lands be shown? The way to Hunland hither / from youth to him hath well been known."

1420

No whit knew the messengers / wherefore she did advise That they of Tronje Hagen / should not in any wise Leave by the Rhine to tarry. / That was anon their bane: Through him to dire destruction / was doomed full many a doughty thane.

1421

Letters and kindly greeting / now to them they give; They fared from thence rich laden, / and merrily might live. Leave then they took of Etzel / and eke his lady fair, And parted on their journey / dight in apparel rich and rare.



TWENTY-FOURTH ADVENTURE

How Werbel and Schwemmel brought the Message

1422

When to the Rhine King Etzel / his messengers had sent, With hasty flight fresh tidings / from land to land there went: With messengers full quickly / to his high festival He bade them, eke and summoned. / To many thereby did death befall.

1423

The messengers o'er the borders / of Hunland thence did fare Unto the land of Burgundy; / thither sent they were Unto three lordly monarchs / and eke their mighty men. To Etzel's land to bid them / hastily they journeyed then.

1424

Unto Bechelaren / rode they on their way, Where found they willing service. / Nor did aught delay Ruediger to commend him / and Gotelinde as well And eke their fairest daughter / to them that by the Rhine did dwell.

1425

They let them not unladen / with gifts from thence depart, So did the men of Etzel / fare on with lighter heart. To Ute and to her household / sent greeting Ruediger, That never margrave any / to them more well disposed were.

1426

Unto Brunhild also / did they themselves commend With willing service offered / and steadfast to the end. Bearing thus fair greeting / the messengers thence did fare, And prayed the noble margravine / that God would have them in his care.

1427

Ere the messengers had fully / passed o'er Bavarian ground, Had the nimble Werbel / the goodly bishop found. What greetings to his kinsmen / unto the Rhine he sent, That I cannot tell you; / the messengers yet from him went

1428

Laden with gold all ruddy, / to keep his memory. Thus spake the Bishop Pilgrim: / "'Twere highest joy to me Might I my sister's children / here see in home of mine, For that I may but seldom / go unto them to the Rhine."

1429

What were the ways they followed / as through the lands they fared, That can I nowise tell you. / Yet never any dared Rob them of wealth or raiment, / for fear of Etzel's hand: A lofty king and noble, / mighty in sooth was his command.

1430

Before twelve days were over / came they unto the Rhine, And rode into Worms city / Werbel and Schwemmelein. Told were soon the tidings / to the kings and their good men, How that were come strange messengers. / Gunther the king did question then.

1431

And spake the monarch further: / "Who here may understand Whence do come these strangers / riding unto our land?" Yet was never any / might answer to him make, Until of Tronje Hagen / thus unto King Gunther spake:

1432

"To us hath come strange tidings / to hand this day, I ween, For Etzel's fiddlers riding / hither have I seen. The same have by thy sister / unto the Rhine been sent: For sake of their high master / now give we them fair compliment."

1433

E'en then did ride the messengers / unto the castle door, And never royal minstrels / more stately went before. By the monarch's servants / well received they were: They gave them fitting lodging / and for their raiment had a care.

1434

Rich and wrought full deftly / was the travelling-dress they wore, Wherein they well with honor / might go the king before; Yet they at court no longer / would the same garments wear. The messengers inquired / if any were might wish them there.

1435

In sooth in such condition / many eke were found, Who would receive them gladly; / to such they dealt around. Then decked themselves the strangers / in garments richer far, Such as royal messengers / beseemeth well at court to wear.

1436

By royal leave came forward / to where the monarch sat The men that came from Etzel, / and joy there was thereat. Hagen then to meet them / in courteous manner went, And heartily did greet them, / whereat they gave fair compliment.

1437

To know what were the tidings, / to ask he then began How did find him Etzel / and each valiant man. Then answer gave the fiddler: / "Ne'er higher stood the land, Nor the folk so joyous: / that shall ye surely understand."

1438

They went unto the monarch. / Crowded was the hall. There were received the strangers / as of right men shall Kindly greeting offer / in other monarch's land. Many a valiant warrior / saw Werbel by King Gunther stand.

1439

Right courteously the monarch / began to greet them then: "Now be ye both right welcome, / Hunland's merry men, And knights that give you escort. / Hither sent are ye By Etzel mighty monarch / unto the land of Burgundy?"

1440

They bowed before the monarch; / then spake Werbelein: "My dear lord and master, / and Kriemhild, sister thine, Hither to thy country / give fairest compliment. In faith of kindly welcome / us unto you they now have sent."

1441

Then spake the lofty ruler: / "I joy o'er this ye bring. How liveth royal Etzel," / further spake the king, "And Kriemhild, my sister, / afar in Hunland?" Then answered him the fiddler: / "That shalt thou straightway understand.

1442

"That never any people / more lordly life might show Than they both do joy in, / —that shalt thou surely know,— Wherein do share their kinsmen / and all their doughty train. When from them we parted, / of our journey were they fain."

1443

"My thanks for these high greetings / ye bring at his command And from my royal sister. / That high in joy they stand, The monarch and his kinsmen, / rejoiceth me to hear. For, sooth to say, the tidings / asked I now in mickle fear."

1444

The twain of youthful princes / were eke come thitherward, As soon as they the tidings / from afar had heard. Right glad were seen the messengers / for his dear sister's sake By the young Giselher, / who in such friendly manner spake:

1445

"Right hearty were your welcome / from me and brother mine, Would ye but more frequent / ride hither to the Rhine; Here found ye friends full many / whom glad ye were to see, And naught but friendly favors / the while that in this land ye be."

1446

"To us how high thy favor," / spake Schwemmel, "know we well; Nor with my best endeavor / might I ever tell How kindly is the greeting / we bear from Etzel's hand And from your noble sister, / who doth in highest honor stand.

1447

"Your sometime love and duty / recalleth Etzel's queen, And how to her devoted / in heart we've ever been, But first to royal Gunther / do we a message bear, And pray it be your pleasure / unto Etzel's land to fare.

1448

"To beg of you that favor / commanded o'er and o'er Etzel mighty monarch / and bids you know the more, An will ye not your sister / your faces give to see, So would he know full gladly / wherein by him aggrieved ye be,

1449

"That ye thus are strangers / to him and all his men. If that his spouse so lofty / to you had ne'er been known, Yet well he thought to merit / that him ye'd deign to see; In sooth could naught rejoice him / more than that such thing might be."

1450

Then spake the royal Gunther: / "A sennight from this day Shall ye have an answer, / whereon decide I may With my friends in counsel. / The while shall ye repair Unto your place of lodging, / and right goodly be your fare."

1451

Then spake in answer Werbel: / "And might such favor be That we the royal mistress / should first have leave to see, Ute, the lofty lady, / ere that we seek our rest?" To him the noble Giselher / in courteous wise these words addressed.

1452

"That grace shall none forbid you. / Will ye my mother greet, Therein do ye most fully / her own desire meet. For sake of my good sister / fain is she you to see, For sake of Lady Kriemhild / ye shall to her full welcome be."

1453

Giselher then led him / unto the lofty dame, Who fain beheld the messengers / from Hunland that came. She greeted them full kindly / as lofty manner taught, And in right courteous fashion / told they to her the tale they brought.

1454

"Pledge of loyal friendship / sendeth unto thee Now my lofty mistress," / spake Schwemmel. "Might it be, That she should see thee often, / then shalt thou know full well, In all the world there never / a greater joy to her befell."

1455

Replied the royal lady: / "Such thing may never be. Gladly as would I oft-times / my dearest daughter see, Too far, alas, is distant / the noble monarch's wife. May ever yet full happy / with King Etzel be her life.

1456

"See that ye well advise me, / ere that ye hence are gone, What time shall be your parting; / for messengers I none Have seen for many seasons / as glad as greet I you." The twain gave faithful promise / such courtesy full sure to do.

1457

Forthwith to seek their lodgings / the men of Hunland went, The while the mighty monarch / for trusted warriors sent, Of whom did noble Gunther / straightway question make, How thought they of the message. / Whereupon full many spake

1458

That he might well with honor / to Etzel's land be bound, The which did eke advise him / the highest 'mongst them found, All save Hagen only, / whom sorely grieved such rede. Unto the king in secret / spake he: "Ill shall be thy meed.

1459

"What deed we twain compounded / art thou full well aware, Wherefor good cause we ever / shall have Kriemhild to fear, For that her sometime husband / I slew by my own hand. How dare we ever journey / then unto King Etzel's land?"

1460

Replied the king: "My sister / no hate doth harbor more. As we in friendship kissed her, / vengeance she forswore For evil that we wrought her, / ere that from hence she rode,— Unless this message, Hagen, / ill for thee alone forebode."

1461

"Now be thou not deceived," / spake Hagen, "say what may The messengers from Hunland. / If thither be thy way, At Kriemhild's hands thou losest / honor eke and life, For full long-avenging / is the royal Etzel's wife."

1462

Added then his counsel / the princely Gernot there: "Though be it thou hast reason / thine own death to fear Afar in Hunnish kingdom, / should we for that forego To visit our high sister, / that were in sooth but ill to do."

1463

Unto that thane did likewise / Giselher then say: "Since well thou know'st, friend Hagen, / what guilt on thee doth weigh, Then tarry here behind us / and of thyself have care, And let who dares the journey / with us unto my sister fare."

1464

Thereat did rage full sorely / Tronje's doughty thane: "So shall ye ne'er find any / that were to go more fain, Nor who may better guide you / than I upon your way. And will ye not give over, / know then my humor soon ye may."

1465

Then spake the Kitchen Master, / Rumold a lofty thane: "Here might ye guests and kinsmen / in plenty long maintain After your own pleasure, / for ye have goodly store. I ween ye ne'er found Hagen / traitor to you heretofore.

1466

"If heed ye will not Hagen, / still Rumold doth advise —For ye have faithful service / from me in willing wise— That here at home ye tarry / for the love of me, And leave the royal Etzel / afar with Kriemhild to be.

1467

"Where in the world might ever / ye more happy be Than here where from danger / of every foeman free, Where ye may go as likes you / in goodliest attire, Drink wine the best, and stately / women meet your heart's desire.

1468

"And daily is your victual / the best that ever knew A king of any country. / And were the thing not true, At home ye yet should tarry / for sake of your fair wife Ere that in childish fashion / ye thus at venture set your life.

1469

"Thus rede I that ye go not. / Mighty are your lands, And at home more easy may ye / be freed from hostile hands Than if ye pine in Hunland. / How there it is, who knows? O Master, go not thither, / —such is the rede that Rumold owes."

1470

"We'll ne'er give o'er the journey," / Gernot then did say, "When thus our sister bids us / in such friendly way And Etzel, mighty monarch. / Wherefore should we refrain? Who goes not gladly thither, / here at home may he remain."

1471

Thereto gave answer Hagen: / "Take not amiss, I pray, These my words outspoken, / let befall what may. Yet do I counsel truly, / as ye your safety prize, That to the Huns ye journey / armed full well in warlike guise.

1472

"Will ye then not give over, / your men together call, The best that ye may gather / from districts one and all. From out them all I'll choose you / a thousand knights full good, Then may ye reck but little / the vengeful Kriemhild's angry mood."

1473

"I'll gladly heed thy counsel," / straight the king replied, And bade the couriers traverse / his kingdom far and wide. Soon they brought together / three thousand men or more, Who little weened what mickle / sorrow was for them in store.

1474

Joyful came they riding / to King Gunther's land. Steeds and equipment for them / all he did command, Who should make the journey / thence from Burgundy. Warriors many were there / to serve the king right willingly.

1475

Hagen then of Tronje / to Dankwart did assign Of their warriors eighty / to lead unto the Rhine. Equipped in knightly harness / were they soon at hand. Riding in gallant fashion / unto royal Gunther's land.

1476

Came eke the doughty Volker, / a noble minstrel he, With thirty goodly warriors / to join the company, Who wore so rich attire / 'twould fit a monarch well. That he would fare to Hunland, / bade he unto Gunther tell.

1477

Who was this same Volker / that will I let you know: He was a knight full noble, / to him did service owe Many a goodly warrior / in the land of Burgundy. For that he well could fiddle, / named the Minstrel eke was he.

1478

Thousand men chose Hagen, / who well to him were known. What things in storm of battle / their doughty arm had done, Or what they wrought at all times, / that knew he full well. Nor of them might e'er mortal / aught but deeds of valor tell.

1479

The messengers of Kriemhild, / full loath they were to wait, For of their master's anger / stood they in terror great. Each day for leave to journey / more great their yearning grew, But daily to withhold it / crafty Hagen pretext knew.

1480

He spake unto his master: / "Well shall we beware Hence to let them journey / ere we ourselves prepare In seven days thereafter / to ride to Etzel's land: If any mean us evil, / so may we better understand.

1481

"Nor may the Lady Kriemhild / ready make thereto, That any by her counsel / scathe to us may do. Yet if such wish she cherish, / evil shall be her meed, For many a chosen warrior / with us shall we thither lead."

1482

Shields well-wrought and saddles, / with all the mickle gear That into Etzel's country / the warriors should wear, The same was now made ready / for many a knight full keen. The messengers of Kriemhild / before King Gunther soon were seen.

1483

When were come the messengers, / Gernot them addressed: "King Gunther now is minded / to answer Etzel's quest. Full gladly go we thither / with him to make high-tide And see our lofty sister, / —of that set ye all doubt aside."

1484

Thereto spake King Gunther: / "Can ye surely say When shall be the high-tide, / or upon what day We shall there assemble?" / Spake Schwemmel instantly: "At turn of sun in summer / shall in sooth the meeting be."

1485

The monarch leave did grant them, / ere they should take their way, If that to Lady Brunhild / they would their homage pay, His high pleasure was it / they unto her should go. Such thing prevented Volker, / and did his mistress' pleasure so.

1486

"In sooth, my Lady Brunhild / hath scarce such health to-day As that she might receive you," / the gallant knight did say. "Bide ye till the morrow, / may ye the lady see." When thus they sought her presence, / might their wish not granted be.

1487

To the messengers right gracious / was the mighty king, And bade he from his treasure / on shields expansive bring Shining gold in plenty / whereof he had great store. Eke richest gifts received they / from his lofty kinsmen more.

1488

Giselher and Gernot, / Gere and Ortwein, That they were free in giving / soon full well was seen. So costly gifts were offered / unto each messenger That they dared not receive them, / for Etzel's anger did they fear.

1489

Then unto King Gunther / Werbel spake again: Sire, let now thy presents / in thine own land remain. The same we may not carry, / my master hath decreed That we accept no bounty. / Of that in sooth we've little need."

1490

Thereat the lord of Rhineland / was seen in high displeasure, That they should thus accept not / so mighty monarch's treasure? In their despite yet took they / rich dress and gold in store, The which moreover with them / home to Etzel's land they bore.

1491

Ere that they thence departed / they Lady Ute sought, Whereat the gallant Giselher / straight the minstrels brought Unto his mother's presence. / Kind greetings sent the dame, And wish that high in honor / still might stand her daughter's name.

1492

Then bade the lofty lady / embroidered silks and gold For the sake of Kriemhild, / whom loved she as of old, And eke for sake of Etzel, / unto the minstrels give. What thus so free was offered / might they in sooth right fain receive.

1493

Soon now had ta'en departure / the messengers from thence, From knight and fairest lady, / and joyous fared they hence Unto Suabian country; / Gernot had given behest Thus far for armed escort, / that none their journey might molest.

1494

When these had parted from them, / safe still from harm were they, For Etzel's might did guard them / wherever led their way. Nor ever came there any / that aught to take would dare, As into Etzel's country / they in mickle haste did fare.

1495

Where'er they friends encountered, / to all they straight made known How that they of Burgundy / should follow after soon From Rhine upon their journey / unto the Huns' country. The message brought they likewise / unto Bishop Pilgrim's see.

1496

As down 'fore Bechelaren / they passed upon their way, The tidings eke to Ruediger / failed they not to say, And unto Gotelinde, / the margrave's wife the same. At thought so soon to see them / was filled with joy the lofty dame.

1497

Hasting with the tidings / each minstrel's courser ran, Till found they royal Etzel / within his burgh at Gran. Greeting upon greeting, / which they must all bestow, They to the king delivered; / with joy his visage was aglow.

1498

When that the lofty Kriemhild / did eke the tidings hear, How that her royal brothers / unto the land would fare, In sooth her heart was gladdened; / on the minstrels she bestowed Richest gifts in plenty, / as she to her high station owed.

1499

She spake: "Now shall ye, Werbel / and Schwemmel, tell to me Who cometh of my kinsmen / to our festivity, Who of all were bidden / this our land to seek? Now tell me, when the message / heard he, what did Hagen speak?"

1500

Answered: "He came to council / early upon a day, But little was of pleasant / in what he there did say. When learned he their intention, / in wrath did Hagen swear, To death 'twere making journey, / to country of the Huns to fare.

1501

"Hither all are coming, / thy royal brothers three, And they right high in spirit. / Who more shall with them be, The tale to tell entire / were more than I might do. To journey with them plighted / Volker the valiant fiddler too."

1502

"'Twere little lost, full truly," / answered then the queen, "If by my eyes never / Volker here were seen. 'Tis Hagen hath my favor, / a noble knight is he, And mickle is my pleasure / that him full soon we here may see."

1503

Her way the Lady Kriemhild / then to the king did take, And in right joyous manner / unto her consort spake: "How liketh thee the tidings, / lord full dear to me? What aye my heart hath yearned for, / that shall now accomplished be."

1504

"Thy will my joy was ever," / the lofty monarch said. "In sooth for my own kinsmen / I ne'er have been so glad, To hear that they come hither / unto my country. To know thy friends are coming, / hath parted sadness far from me."

1505

Straight did the royal provosts / give everywhere decree That hall and stately palace / well prepared should be With seats, that unprovided / no worthy guest be left. Anon by them the monarch / should be of mickle joy bereft.



TWENTY-FIFTH ADVENTURE

How the Knights all fared to the Huns

1506

Tell we now no further / how they here did fare. Knights more high in spirit / saw ye journey ne'er In so stately fashion / to the land of e'er a king. Of arms and rich attire / lacked they never anything.

1507

At Rhine the lordly monarch / equipped his warriors well, A thousand knights and sixty, / as I did hear tell, And eke nine thousand squires / toward the festivity. Whom they did leave behind them / anon must mourn full grievously.

1508

As at Worms across the courtyard / equipment full they bore Spake there of Speyer / a bishop old and hoar Unto Lady Ute: / "Our friends have mind to fare Unto the festivity; / may God their honor have in care."

1509

Then spake unto her children / Ute the noble dame: "At home ye here should tarry, / ye knights full high in fame. Me dreamt but yester even / a case of direst need, How that in this country / all the feathered fowl were dead."

1510

"Who recketh aught of dreamings," / Hagen then replied, "Distraught is sure his counsel / when trouble doth betide, Or he would of his honor / have a perfect care. I counsel that my master / straight to take his leave prepare.

1511

"Gladly shall we journey / into Etzel's land; There at their master's service / may good knights ready stand, For that we there shall witness / Kriemhild's festivity." That Hagen gave such counsel, / rue anon full sore did he.

1512

Yet in sooth far other / than this had been his word, Had not with bitter mocking / Gernot his anger stirred. He spake to him of Siegfried / whom Kriemhild loved so, And said: "Therefore the journey / would Hagen willingly forego."

1513

Then spake of Tronje Hagen: / "Through fear I nothing do. Whenever will ye, Masters, / set straight your hand thereto, With you I'll gladly journey / unto Etzel's land." Many a shield and helmet / there hewed anon his mighty hand.

1514

The ships stood ready waiting, / whereunto ample store Of clothing for the journey / men full many bore, Nor had they time for resting / till shades of even fell. Anon in mood full joyous / bade they friends at home farewell.

1515

Tents full large and many / arose upon the green, Yonder side Rhine river. / But yet the winsome queen Caressed the doughty monarch / that night, and still did pray That far from Etzel's country / among his kinsmen might he stay.

1516

When sound of flute and trumpet / arose at break of day, A signal for their parting, / full soon they took their way. Each lover to his bosom / did friend more fondly press: King Etzel's wife full many / did part anon in dire distress.

1517

The sons of stately Ute, / a good knight had they, A brave man and a faithful. / When they would thence away, Apart unto the monarch / did he his mind reveal, And spake: "That ye will journey, / may I naught but sorrow feel."

1518

Hight the same was Rumold, / a man of doughty hand. He spake: "To whom now leave ye / people here and land? O that never any / might alter your intent! Small good, methinks, may follow / message e'er by Kriemhild sent."

1519

"The land to thee entrusted / and eke my child shall be, And tender care of ladies, / —so hast command from me. Whene'er thou seest weeping, / do there thy comfort give. Yea, trust we free from sorrow / at hand of Etzel's wife to live."

1520

For knight and royal master / the chargers ready were, As with fond embracing / parted many there, Who long in joy together / a merry life had led. By winsome dame full many / therefor must bitter tear be shed.

1521

As did those doughty warriors / into the saddle spring, Might full many a lady / be seen there sorrowing; For told them well their spirit / that thus so long to part Did bode a dire peril, / the which must ever cloud the heart.

1522

As mounted stood the valiant / thanes of Burgundy, Might ye a mickle stirring / in that country see, Both men and women weeping / on either riverside. Yet pricked they gaily forward, / let what might their folk betide.

1523

The Nibelungen warriors / in hauberks bright arrayed Went with them, a thousand, / while at home behind them stayed Full many a winsome lady, / whom saw they nevermore. The wounds of doughty Siegfried / still grieved the Lady Kriemhild sore.

1524

Their journey they directed / onward to the Main, Up through East Frankish country, / the men of Gunther's train Thither led by Hagen, / who well that country knew; Marshal to them was Dankwart, / a knight of Burgundy full true.

1525

On from East Frankish country / to Schwanefeld they went, A train of valiant warriors / of high accomplishment, The monarchs and their kinsmen, / all knights full worthy fame. Upon the twelfth morning / the king unto the Danube came.

1526

The knight of Tronje, Hagen, / the very van did lead, Ever to the Nibelungen / a surest help in need. First the thane full valiant / down leapt upon the ground, And straightway then his charger / fast unto a tree he bound.

1527

Flooded were the waters / and ne'er a boat was near, Whereat began the Nibelungen / all in dread to fear They ne'er might cross the river, / so mighty was the flood. Dismounted on the shore, / full many a stately knight then stood.

1528

"Ill may it," spake then Hagen, / "fare here with thee, Lord of Rhine river. / Now thyself mayst see How flooded are the waters, / and swift the current flows. I ween, before the morrow / here many a goodly knight we lose."

1529

"How wilt reproach me, Hagen?" / the lofty monarch spake. I pray thee yet all comfort / not from our hearts to take. The ford shalt thou discover / whereby we may pass o'er, Horse and equipment bringing / safely unto yonder shore."

1530

"In sooth, not I," quoth Hagen, / "am yet so weary grown Of life, that in these waters / wide I long to drown. Ere that, shall warriors sicken / in Etzel's far country Beneath my own arm stricken: / —'tis my intent full certainly.

1531

"Here tarry by the water, / ye gallant knights and good, The while I seek the boatmen / myself along the flood, Who will bring us over / into Gelfrat's land." With that the doughty Hagen / took his trusty shield in hand.

1532

He cap-a-pie was armed, / as thus he strode away, Upon his head a helmet / that gleamed with brilliant ray, And o'er his warlike harness / a sword full broad there hung, That on both its edges / did fiercely cut, in battle swung.

1533

He sought to find the boatmen / if any might be near, When sound of falling waters / full soon upon his ear. Beside a rippling fountain, / where ran the waters cool, A group of wise mermaidens / did bathe themselves within the pool.

1534

Ware of them soon was Hagen / and stole in secret near, But fast away they hurried / when they the sound did hear. That they at all escaped him, / filled they were with glee. The knight did take their clothing, / yet wrought none other injury.

1535

Then spake the one mermaiden, / Hadburg that hight: "Hagen, knight full noble, / tell will we thee aright, An wilt thou, valiant warrior, / our garments but give o'er, What fortune may this journey / to Hunland have for thee in store."

1536

They hovered there before him / like birds above the flood, Wherefore did think the warrior / that tell strange things they could, And all the more believed he / what they did feign to say, As to his eager question / in ready manner answered they.

1537

Spake one: "Well may ye journey / to Etzel's country. Thereto my troth I give thee / in full security That ne'er in any kingdom / might high guests receive Such honors as there wait you, / —this may ye in sooth believe."

1538

To hear such speech was Hagen / in sooth right glad of heart; He gave to them their garments, / and straightway would depart. But when in strange attire / they once more were dight, Told they of the journey / into Etzel's land aright.

1539

Spake then the other mermaid, / Siegelind that hight: "I warn thee, son of Aldrian, / Hagen valiant knight, 'Twas but to gain her clothing / my cousin falsely said, For, comest thou to Hunland, / sorely shalt thou be betrayed.

1540

"Yea, that thou turnest backward / is fitter far, I ween; For but your death to compass / have all ye warriors keen Received now the bidding / unto Etzel's land. Whose doth thither journey, / death leadeth surely by the hand."

1541

Thereto gave answer Hagen: / "False speech hath here no gain. How might it ever happen / that we all were slain Afar in Etzel's country / through hate of any man?" To tell the tale more fully / unto him she then began.

1542

Spake again the other: / "The thing must surely be, That of you never any / his home again shall see, Save only the king's chaplain; / well do we understand That he unscathed returneth / unto royal Gunther's land."

1543

Then spake the valiant Hagen / again in angry way: "Unto my royal masters / 'twere little joy to say That we our lives must forfeit / all in Hunland. Now show us, wisest woman, / how pass we safe to yonder strand."

1544

She spake: "Since from thy purposed / journey thou wilt not turn, Where upward by the water / a cabin stands, there learn Within doth dwell a boatman, / nor other find thou mayst." No more did Hagen question, / but strode away from there in haste.

1545

As went he angry-minded / one from afar did say: "Now tarry still, Sir Hagen; / why so dost haste away? Give ear yet while we tell thee / how thou reachest yonder strand. Master here is Else, / who doth rule this borderland.

1546

"Hight is his brother Gelfrat, / and is a thane full rare, Lord o'er Bavarian country. / Full ill with you 'twill fare, Will ye pass his border. / Watchful must ye be, And eke with the ferryman / 'twere well to walk right modestly.

1547

"He is so angry-minded / that sure thy bane 'twill be, Wilt thou not show the warrior / all civility. Wilt thou that he transport thee, / give all the boatman's due. He guardeth well the border / and unto Gelfrat is full true.

1548

"If he be slow to answer, / then call across the flood That thy name is Amelrich. / That was a knight full good, Who for a feud did sometime / go forth from out this land. The ferryman will answer, / when he the name doth understand.

1549

Hagen high of spirit / before those women bent, Nor aught did say, but silent / upon his way he went. Along the shore he wandered / till higher by the tide On yonder side the river / a cabin standing he espied.

1550

He straight began a calling / across the flood amain. "Now fetch me over, boatman," / cried the doughty thane. "A golden armband ruddy / I'll give to thee for meed. Know that to make this crossing / I in sooth have very need."

1551

Not fitting 'twas high ferryman / his service thus should give, And recompense from any / seldom might he receive; Eke were they that served him / full haughty men of mood. Still alone stood Hagen / on the hither side the flood.

1552

Then cried he with such power / the wave gave back the sound, For in strength far-reaching / did the knight abound: "Fetch me now, for Amelrich, / Else's man, am I, That for feud outbroken / erstwhile from this land did fly."

1553

Full high upon his sword-point / an armband did he hold, Fair and shining was it / made of ruddy gold, The which he offered to him / for fare to Gelfrat's land. The ferryman high-hearted / himself did take the oar in hand.

1554

To do with that same boatman / was ne'er a pleasant thing; The yearning after lucre / yet evil end doth bring. Here where thought he Hagen's / gold so red to gain, Must he by the doughty / warrior's fierce sword be slain.

1555

With might across the river / his oar the boatman plied, But he who there was named / might nowhere be espied. His rage was all unbounded / when he did Hagen find, And loud his voice resounded / as thus he spake his angry mind:

1556

"Thou mayst forsooth be called / Amelrich by name: Whom I here did look for, / no whit art thou the same. By father and by mother / brother he was to me. Since me thou thus hast cozened, / so yet this side the river be."

1557

"Nay, by highest Heaven," / Hagen did declare. "Here am I a stranger / that have good knights in care. Now take in friendly manner / here my offered pay, And guide me o'er the ferry; / my favor hast thou thus alway."

1558

Whereat replied the boatman: / "The thing may never be. There are that to my masters / do bear hostility; Wherefore I never stranger / do lead into this land. As now thy life thou prizest, / step straightway out upon the strand."

1559

"Deny me not," quoth Hagen, / "for sad in sooth my mood. Take now for remembrance / this my gold so good, And carry men a thousand / and horses to yonder shore." Quoth in rage the boatman: / "Such thing will happen nevermore."

1560

Aloft he raised an oar / that mickle was and strong, And dealt such blow on Hagen, / (but rued he that ere long,) That in the boat did stumble / that warrior to his knee. In sooth so savage boatman / ne'er did the knight of Tronje see.

1561

With thought the stranger's anger / the more to rouse anew, He swung a mighty boat-pole / that it in pieces flew Upon the crown of Hagen;— / he was a man of might. Thereby did Else's boatman / come anon to sorry plight.

1562

Full sore enraged was Hagen, / as quick his hand he laid Upon his sword where hanging / he found the trusty blade. His head he struck from off him / and flung into the tide. Known was soon the story / to the knights of Burgundy beside.

1563

While the time was passing / that he the boatman slew, The waters bore him downward, / whereat he anxious grew. Ere he the boat had righted / began his strength to wane, So mightily was pulling / royal Gunther's doughty thane.

1564

Soon he yet had turned it, / so rapid was his stroke, Until the mighty oar / beneath his vigor broke. As strove he his companions / upon the bank to gain, No second oar he found him. / Yet soon the same made fast again.

1565

With quickly snatched shield-strap, / a fine and narrow band. Downward where stood a forest / he sought again the land, And there his master found he / standing upon the shore. In haste came forth to meet him / many a stately warrior more.

1566

The gallant knight they greeted / with right hearty mood. When in the boat perceived they / reeking still the blood That from the wound had issued / where Hagen's sword did swing, Scarce could his companions / bring to an end their questioning.

1567

When that royal Gunther / the streaming blood did see Within the boat there running, / straightway then spake he: "Where is now the ferryman, / tell me, Hagen, pray? By thy mighty prowess / his life, I ween, is ta'en away."

1568

Thereto replied he falsely: / "When the boat I found Where slopeth a wild meadow, / I the same unbound. Hereabout no ferryman / I to-day have seen, Nor ever cause of sorrow / unto any have I been."

1569

The good knight then of Burgundy, / the gallant Gernot, spake: "Dear friends full many, fear I, / the flood this day will take, Since we of the boatmen / none ready here may find To guide us o'er the current. / 'Tis mickle sorrow to my mind."

1570

Full loudly cried then Hagen: / "Lay down upon the grass, Ye squires, the horse equipments. / I ween a time there was, Myself was best of boatmen / that dwelt the Rhine beside. To Gelfrat's country trow I / to bring you safely o'er the tide."

1571

That they might come the sooner / across the running flood, Drove they in the horses. / Their swimming, it was good, For of them never any / beneath the waves did sink, Though many farther downward / must struggle sore to gain the brink.

1572

Their treasure and apparel / unto the boat they bore, Since by no means the journey / thought they to give o'er. Hagen was director, / and safely reached the strand With many a stalwart warrior / bound unto the unknown land.

1573

Gallant knights a thousand / first he ferried o'er, Whereafter came his own men. / Of others still were more, For squires full nine thousand / he led unto that land. That day no whit was idle / that valiant knight of Tronje's hand.

1574

When he them all in safety / o'er the flood had brought, Of that strange story / the valiant warrior thought, Which erstwhile had told him / those women of the sea. Lost thereby the chaplain's / life well-nigh was doomed to be.

1575

Beside his priestly baggage / he saw the chaplain stand, Upon the holy vestments / resting with his hand. No whit was that his safety; / when Hagen him did see, Must the priest full wretched / suffer sorest injury.

1576

From out the boat he flung him / ere might the thing be told, Whereat they cried together: / "Hold, O Master, hold!" Soon had the youthful Giselher / to rage thereat begun, And mickle was his sorrow / that Hagen yet the thing had done.

1577

Then outspake Sir Gernot, / knight of Burgundy: "What boots it thee, Sir Hagen, / that thus the chaplain die? Dared any else to do it, / thy wrath 'twould sorely stir. Wherein the priest's offending, / thus thy malice to incur?"

1578

To swim the chaplain struggled. / He thought him yet to free, If any but would help him. / Yet such might never be, For that the doughty Hagen / full wrathful was of mood, He sunk him to the bottom, / whereat aghast each warrior stood.

1579

When that no help forthcoming / the wretched priest might see, He sought the hither shore, / and fared full grievously. Though failed his strength in swimming, / yet helped him God's own hand, That he came securely / back again unto the land.

1580

Safe yonder stood the chaplain / and shook his dripping dress. Thereby perceived Hagen / how true was none the less The story that did tell him / the strange women of the sea. Thought he: "Of these good warriors / soon the days must ended be."

1581

When that the boat was emptied, / and complete their store All the monarch's followers / had borne upon the shore, Hagen smote it to pieces / and cast it on the flood, Whereat in mickle wonder / the valiant knights around him stood.

1582

"Wherefore dost this, brother," / then Sir Dankwart spake; "How shall we cross the river / when again we make Our journey back from Hunland, / riding to the Rhine?" Behold how Hagen bade him / all such purpose to resign.

1583

Quoth the knight of Tronje: / "This thing is done by me, That if e'er coward rideth / in all our company, Who for lack of courage / from us away would fly, He beneath these billows / yet a shameful death must die."

1584

One there journeyed with them / from the land of Burgundy, That was a knight of valor, / Volker by name was he. He spake in cunning manner / whate'er might fill his mind, And aught was done by Hagen / did the Fiddler fitting find.

1585

Ready stood their chargers, / the carriers laden well; At passage of the river / was there naught to tell Of scathe to any happened, / save but the king's chaplain. Afoot must he now journey / back unto the Rhine again.



TWENTY-SIXTH ADVENTURE

How Gelfrat was Slain by Dankwart

1586

When now they all were gathered / upon the farther strand, To wonder gan the monarch: / "Who shall through this land On routes aright direct us, / that not astray we fare?" Then spake the doughty Volker: / "Thereof will I alone have care."

1587

"Now hark ye all," quoth Hagen, / "knight and squire too, And list to friendly counsel, / as fitting is to do. Full strange and dark the tidings / now ye shall hear from me: Home nevermore return we / unto the land of Burgundy.

1588

"Thus mermaids twain did tell me, / who spake to me this morn, That back we come not hither. / You would I therefore warn That armed well ye journey / and of all ills beware. To meet with doughty foemen / well behooveth us prepare.

1589

"I weened to turn to falsehood / what those wise mermaids spake, Who said that safe this journey / none again should make Home unto our country / save the chaplain alone: Him therefore was I minded / to-day beneath the flood to drown."

1590

From company to company / quickly flew the tale, Whereon grew many a doughty / warrior's visage pale, As gan he think in sorrow / how death should snatch away All ere the journey ended; / and very need for grief had they.

1591

By Moeringen was it / they had the river crossed, Where also Else's boatman / thus his life had lost. There again spake Hagen: / "Since in such wise by me Wrath hath been incurred, / assailed full surely shall we be.

1592

"Myself that same ferryman / did this morning slay. Far bruited are the tidings. / Now arm ye for the fray, That if Gelfrat and Else / be minded to beset Our train to-day, they surely / with sore discomfiture be met.

1593

"So keen they are, well know I / the thing they'll not forego. Your horses therefore shall ye / make to pace more slow, That never man imagine / we flee away in fear." "That counsel will I follow," / spake the young knight Giselher.

1594

"Who will guide our vanguard / through this hostile land?" "Volker shall do it," spake they, / "well doth he understand Where leadeth path and highway, / a minstrel brave and keen." Ere full the wish was spoken, / in armor well equipped was seen

1595

Standing the doughty Fiddler. / His helmet fast he bound, And from his stately armor / shot dazzling light around. Eke to a staff he fastened / a banner, red of hue. Anon with royal masters / came he to sorest sorrow too.

1596

Unto Gelfrat meanwhile / had sure tidings flown, How that was dead his boatman; / the story eke was known Unto the doughty Else, / and both did mourn his fate. Their warriors they summoned, / nor must long time for answer wait.

1597

But little space it lasted / —that would I have you know— Ere that to them hasted / who oft a mickle woe Had wrought in stress of battle / and injury full sore; To Gelfrat now came riding / seven hundred knights or more.

1598

When they their foes to follow / so bitterly began, Led them both their masters. / Yet all too fast they ran After the valiant strangers / vengeance straight to wreak. Ere long from those same leaders / did death full many a warrior take.

1599

Hagen then of Tronje / the thing had ordered there, —How of his friends might ever / knight have better care?— That he did keep the rearguard / with warriors many a one, And Dankwart eke, his brother; / full wisely the thing was done.

1600

When now the day was over / and light they had no more, Injury to his followers / gan he to dread full sore. They shield in hand rode onward / through Bavarian land, And ere they long had waited / beset they were by hostile band.

1601

On either side the highway / and close upon their rear Of hoofs was heard the clatter; / too keen the chasers were. Then spake the valiant Dankwart: / "The foe is close at hand. Now bind we on the helmet, / —wisdom doth the same command."

1602

Upon the way they halted, / nor else they safe had been. Through the gloom perceived they / of gleaming shields the sheen. Thereupon would Hagen / longer not delay: "Who rideth on the highway?"— / That must Gelfrat tell straight-way.

1603

Of Bavaria the margrave / thereupon replied: "Our enemies now seek we, / and swift upon them ride. Fain would I discover / who hath my boatman slain. A knight he was of valor, / whose death doth cause me grievous pain."

1604

Then spake of Tronje Hagen: / "And was the boatman thine That would not take us over? / The guilt herein is mine. Myself did slay the warrior, / and had, in sooth, good need, For that beneath his valor / I myself full nigh lay dead.

1605

"For pay I rich attire / did bid, and gold a store, Good knight, that to thy country / he should us ferry o'er. Thereat he raged full sorely / and on me swung a blow With a mighty boat-pole, / whereat I eke did angry grow.

1606

"For my sword then reached I / and made his rage to close With a wound all gaping: / so thou thy knight didst lose. I'll give thee satisfaction / as to thee seemeth good." Straightway began the combat, / for high the twain in valor stood.

1607

"Well know I," spake Gelfrat, / "when Gunther with his train Rode through this my country / that we should suffer bane From Hagen, knight of Tronje. / No more shall he go free, But for my boatman's slaying / here a hostage must he be."

1608

Against their shields then lowered / for the charge the spear Gelfrat and Hagen; / eager to close they were. Else and Dankwart / spurred eke in stately way, Scanning each the other; / then both did valorous arm display.

1609

How might ever heroes / show doughty arm so well? Backward from off his charger / from mighty tilt there fell Hagen the valiant, / by Gelfrat's hand borne down. In twain was rent the breast-piece: / to Hagen thus a fall was known.

1610

Where met in charge their followers, / did crash of shafts resound. Risen eke was Hagen, / who erst unto the ground Was borne by mighty lance-thrust, / prone upon the grass. I ween that unto Gelfrat / nowise of gentle mood he was.

1611

Who held their horses' bridles / can I not recount, But soon from out their saddles / did they all dismount. Hagen and Gelfrat / straightway did fierce engage, And all their men around them / did eke a furious combat wage.

1612

Though with fierce onslaught Hagen / upon Gelfrat sprung, On his shield the noble margrave / a sword so deftly swung That a piece from off the border / 'mid flying sparks it clave. Well-nigh beneath its fury / fell dead King Gunther's warrior brave.

1613

Unto Dankwart loudly / thereat he gan to cry: "Help! ho! my good brother! / Encountered here have I A knight of arm full doughty, / from whom I come not free." Then spake the valiant Dankwart: / "Myself thereof the judge will be."

1614

Nearer sprang the hero / and smote him such a blow With a keen-edged weapon / that he in death lay low. For his slain brother Else / vengeance thought to take, But soon with all his followers / 'mid havoc swift retreat must make.

1615

Slain was now his brother, / wound himself did bear, And of his followers eighty / eke had fallen there, By grim death snatched sudden. / Then must the doughty knight, From Gunther's men to save him, / turn away in hasty flight.

1616

When that they of Bavaria / did from the carnage flee, The blows that followed after / resounded frightfully; For close the knights of Tronje / upon their enemies chased, Who to escape the fury / did quit the field in mickle haste.

1617

Then spake upon their fleeing / Dankwart the doughty thane: "Upon our way now let us / backward turn again, And leave them hence to hasten / all wet with oozing blood. Unto our friends return we, / this verily meseemeth good."

1618

When back they were returned / where did the scathe befall, Outspake of Tronje Hagen: / "Now look ye, warriors all, Who of our tale is lacking, / or who from us hath been Here in battle riven / through the doughty Gelfrat's spleen."

1619

Lament they must for warriors / four from them were ta'en. But paid for were they dearly, / for roundabout lay slain Of their Bavarian foemen / a hundred or more. The men of Tronje's bucklers / with blood were wet and tarnished o'er.

1620

From out the clouds of heaven / a space the bright moon shone. Then again spake Hagen: / "Bear report let none To my beloved masters / how we here did fare. Let them until the morrow / still be free from aught of care."

1621

When they were back returned / who bore the battle's stress, Sore troubled was their company / from very weariness. "How long shall we keep saddle?" / was many a warrior's quest. Then spake the valiant Dankwart: / "Not yet may we find place of rest,

1622

"But on ye all must journey / till day come back again." Volker, knight of prowess, / who led the foremost train, Bade to ask the marshal: / "This night where shall we be, That rest them may our chargers, / and eke my royal masters three?"

1623

Thereto spake valiant Dankwart: / "The same I ne'er can say, Yet may we never rest us / before the break of day. Where then we find it fitting / we'll lay us on the grass." When they did hear his answer, / what source of grief to all it was!

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