Still were they unbetrayed / by reeking blood and red, Until the sun in heaven / its shining beams down shed At morn across the hill-tops, / that then the king might see How they had been in battle. / Spake he then full angrily:
"How may this be, friend Hagen? / Scorned ye have, I ween, That I should be beside you, / where coats of mail have been Thus wet with blood upon you. / Who this thing hath done?" Quoth he: "The same did Else, / who hath this night us set upon.
"To avenge his boatman / did they attack our train. By hand of my brother / hath Gelfrat been slain. Then fled Else before us, / and mickle was his need. Ours four, and theirs a thousand, / remained behind in battle dead."
Now can we not inform you / where resting-place they found. But cause to know their passing / had the country-folk around, When there the sons of Ute / to court did fare in state. At Passau fit reception / did presently the knights await.
The noble monarchs' uncle, / Bishop Pilgrim that was, Full joyous-hearted was he / that through the land did pass With train of lusty warriors / his royal nephews three. That willing was his service, / waited they not long to see.
To greet them on their journey / did friends lack no device, Yet not to lodge them fully / might Passau's bounds suffice. They must across the water / where spreading sward they found, And lodge and tent erected / soon were stretching o'er the ground.
Nor from that spot they onward / might journey all that day, And eke till night was over, / for pleasant was their stay. Next to the land of Ruediger / must they in sooth ride on, To whom full soon the story / of their coming eke was known.
When fitting rest had taken / the knights with travel worn, And of Etzel's country / they had reached the bourn, A knight they found there sleeping / that ne'er should aught but wake, From whom of Tronje Hagen / in stealth a mighty sword did take.
Hight in sooth was Eckewart / that same valiant knight. For what was there befallen / was he in sorry plight, That by those heroes' passing / he had lost his sword. At Ruediger's marches / found they meagre was the guard.
"O, woe is me dishonored," / Eckewart then cried; "Yea, rueth me fully sorely, / this Burgundian ride. What time was taken Siegfried, / did joy depart from me. Alack, O Master Ruediger, / how ill my service unto thee!"
Hagen, full well perceiving / the noble warrior's plight, Gave him again his weapon / and armbands six full bright. "These take, good knight, in token / that thou art still my friend. A valiant warrior art thou, / though dost thou lone this border tend."
"May God thy gifts repay thee," / Eckewart replied, "Yet rueth me full sorely / that to the Huns ye ride. Erstwhile slew ye Siegfried / and vengeance have to fear; My rede to you is truly: / "Beware ye well of danger here."
"Now must God preserve us," / answered Hagen there. "In sooth for nothing further / have these thanes a care Than for place of shelter, / the kings and all their band, And where this night a refuge / we may find within this land.
"Done to death our horses / with the long journey are, And food as well exhausted," / Hagen did declare. "Nor find we aught for purchase; / a host we need instead, Who would in kindness give us, / ere this evening, of his bread."
Thereto gave answer Eckewart: / "I'll show you such a one, That so warm a welcome / find ye never none In country whatsoever / as here your lot may be, An if ye, thanes full gallant, / the noble Ruediger will see.
He dwelleth by the highway / and is most bounteous host That house e'er had for master. / His heart may graces boast, As in the lovely May-time / the flowrets deck the mead. To do good thanes a service / is for his heart most joyous deed."
Then spake the royal Gunther: / "Wilt thou my messenger be, If will my dear friend Ruediger, / as favor done to me, His hospitable shelter / with all my warriors share, Therefor full to requite thee / shall e'er hereafter be my care."
"Thy messenger am I gladly," / Eckewart replied, And in right willing manner / straight away did ride, The message thus received / to Ruediger to bear. Nor did so joyous tidings / for many a season greet his ear.
Hasting to Bechelaren / was seen a noble thane. The same perceived Ruediger, / and spake: "O'er yonder plain Hither hastens Eckewart, / who Kriemhild's might doth own." He weened that by some foemen / to him had injury been done.
Then passed he forth the gateway / where the messenger did stand. His sword he loosed from girdle / and laid from out his hand. The message that he carried / might he not long withhold From the master and his kinsmen; / full soon the same to them was told.
He spake unto the margrave: / "I come at high command Of the lordly Gunther / of Burgundian land, And Giselher and Gernot, / his royal brothers twain. In service true commends him / unto thee each lofty thane.
"The like hath Hagen bidden / and Volker as well With homage oft-times proffered. / And more have I to tell, The which King Gunther's marshal / to thee doth send by me: How that the valiant warriors / do crave thy hospitality."
With smiling visage Ruediger / made thereto reply: "Now joyeth me the story / that the monarchs high Do deign to seek my service, / that ne'er refused shall be. Come they unto my castle, / 'tis joy and gladness unto me."
"Dankwart the marshal / hath bidden let thee know Who seek with them thy shelter / as through thy land they go: Three score of valiant leaders / and thousand knights right good, With squires eke nine thousand." / Thereat was he full glad of mood.
"To me 'tis mickle honor," / Ruediger then spake, "That through my castle's portals / such guests will entry make, For ne'er hath been occasion / my service yet to lend. Now ride ye, men and kinsmen, / and on these lofty knights attend."
Then to horse did hasten / knight and willing squire, For glad they were at all times / to do their lord's desire, And keen that thus their service / should not be rendered late. Unwitting Lady Gotelinde / still within her chamber sate.
How they came to Bechelaren
Then went forth the margrave / where two ladies sate, His wife beside his daughter, / nor longer did he wait To tell the joyful tidings / that unto him were brought, How Kriemhild's royal brothers / his hospitality had sought.
"Dearly loved lady," / spake then Ruediger, "Full kind be thy reception / to lordly monarchs here, That now with train of warriors / to court do pass this way. Fair be eke thy greeting / to Hagen, Gunther's man, this day.
"One likewise with them cometh, / Dankwart by name, Volker hight the other, / a knight of gallant fame. Thyself and eke thy daughter / with kiss these six shall greet; Full courteous be your manner / as ye the doughty thanes shall meet."
Gave straight their word the ladies, / and willing were thereto. From out great chests they gorgeous / attire in plenty drew, Which they to meet the lofty / strangers thought to wear, Mickle was the hurry / there of many a lady fair.
On ne'er a cheek might any / but nature's hue be seen. Upon their head they carried / band of golden sheen, That was a beauteous chaplet, / that so their glossy hair By wind might not be ruffled: / that is truth as I declare.
At such employment busy / leave we those ladies now. Here with mickle hurry / across the plain did see Friends of noble Ruediger / the royal guests to meet, And them with warmest welcome / unto the margrave's land did greet.
When coming forth the margrave / saw their forms appear, How spake with heart full joyous / the valiant Ruediger! "Welcome be ye, Sires, / and all your gallant band. Right glad am I to see you / hither come unto my land."
Then bent the knights before him / each full courteously. That he good-will did bear them / might they full quickly see. Hagen had special greeting, / who long to him was known; To Volker eke of Burgundy / was like highest honor shown.
Thus Dankwart eke he greeted, / when spake the doughty thane: "While we thus well are harbored, / who then for all the train Of those that follow with us / shall meet provision make?" "Yourselves this night right easy / shall rest," the noble margrave spake.
"And all that follow with you, / with equipment whatsoe'er Ye bring into my country / of steed or warlike gear, So sure shall it be guarded / that of all the sum, E'en to one spur's value, / to you shall never damage come.
"Now stretch aloft, my squires, / the tents upon the plain. What here ye have of losses / will I make good again. Unbridle now the horses / and let them wander free." Upon their way they seldom / did meet like hospitality.
Thereat rejoiced the strangers. / When thus it ordered was, Rode the high knights forward. / All round upon the grass Lay the squires attendant / and found a gentle rest. I ween, upon their journey / was here provision costliest.
Out before the castle / the noble margravine Had passed with her fair daughter. / In her train were seen A band of lovely women / and many a winsome maid, Whose arms with bracelets glittered, / and all in stately robes arrayed.
The costly jewels sparkled / with far-piercing ray From out their richest vestments, / and buxom all were they. Now came the strangers thither / and sprang upon the ground. How high in noble courtesy / the men of Burgundy were found!
Six and thirty maidens / and many a fair lady, —Nor might ye ever any / more winsome wish to see— Went then forth to meet them / with many a knight full keen. At hands of noble ladies / fairest greeting then was seen.
The margrave's youthful daughter / did kiss the kings all three As eke had done her mother. / Hagen stood thereby. Her father bade her kiss him; / she looked the thane upon, Who filled her so with terror, / she fain had left the thing undone.
When she at last must do it, / as did command her sire, Mingled was her color, / both pale and hue of fire. Likewise kissed she Dankwart / and the Fiddler eke anon: That he was knight of valor / to him was such high favor shown.
The margrave's youthful daughter / took then by the hand The royal knight Giselher / of Burgundian land. E'en so led forth her mother / the gallant Gunther high. With those guests so lofty / walked they there full joyfully.
The host escorted Gernot / to a spacious hall and wide, Where knights and stately ladies / sate them side by side. Then bade they for the strangers / pour good wine plenteously: In sooth might never heroes / find fuller hospitality.
Glances fond and many / saw ye directed there Upon Ruediger's daughter, / for she was passing fair. Yea, in his thoughts caressed her / full many a gallant knight; A lady high in spirit, / well might she every heart delight.
Yet whatsoe'er their wishes, / might none fulfilled be. Hither oft and thither / glanced they furtively On maidens and fair ladies, / whereof were many there. Right kind the noble Fiddler / disposed was to Ruediger.
They parted each from other / as ancient custom was, And knights and lofty ladies / did separating pass When tables were made ready / within the spacious hall. There in stately manner / they waited on the strangers all.
To do the guests high honor / likewise the table sought With them the lofty margravine. / Her daughter led she not, But left among the maidens, / where fitting was she sat. That they might not behold her, grieved were the guests in sooth thereat.
The drinking and the feasting, / when 'twas ended all, Escorted was the maiden / again into the hall. Then of merry jesting / they nothing lacked, I ween, Wherein was busy Volker, / a thane full gallant and keen.
Then spake the noble Fiddler / to all in lofty tone: "Great mercy, lordly margrave, / God to thee hath shown, For that he hath granted / unto thee a wife Of so surpassing beauty, / and thereto a joyous life.
"If that I were of royal / birth," the Fiddler spake, "And kingly crown should carry, / to wife I'd wish to take This thy lovely daughter, / —my heart thus prompteth me. A noble maid and gentle / and fair to look upon is she."
Then outspake the margrave: / "How might such thing be, That king should e'er desire / daughter born to me? Exiled from my country / here with my spouse I dwell: What avails the maiden, / be she favored ne'er so well?"
Thereto gave answer Gernot, / a knight of manner kind: "If to my desire / I ever spouse would find, Then would I of such lady / right gladly make my choice." In full kindly manner / added Hagen eke his voice:
"Now shall my master Giselher / take to himself a spouse. The noble margrave's daughter / is of so lofty house, That I and all his warriors / would glad her service own, If that she in Burgundy / should ever wear a royal crown."
Glad thereat full truly / was Sir Ruediger, And eke Gotelinde: / they joyed such words to hear. Anon arranged the heroes / that her as bride did greet The noble knight Giselher, / as was for any monarch meet.
What thing is doomed to happen, / who may the same prevent? To come to the assembly / they for the maidens sent, And to the knight they plighted / the winsome maid for wife, Pledge eke by him was given, / his love should yet endure with life.
They to the maid allotted / castles and spreading land, Whereof did give assurance / the noble monarch's hand And eke the royal Gernot, / 'twould surely so be done. Then spake to them the margrave: / "Lordly castles have I none,
"Yet true shall be my friendship / the while that I may live. Unto my daughter shall I / of gold and silver give What hundred sumpter-horses / full laden bear away, That her husband's lofty kinsmen / find honor in the fair array."
They bade the knight and maiden / within a ring to stand, As was of old the custom. / Of youths a goodly band, That all were merry-hearted, / did her there confront, And thought they on her beauty / as mind of youth is ever wont.
When they began to question / then the winsome maid, Would she the knight for husband, / somewhat she was dismayed, And yet forego she would not / to have him for her own. She blushed to hear the question, / as many another maid hath done.
Her father Ruediger prompted / that Yes her answer be, And that she take him gladly. / Unto her instantly Sprang the young Sir Giselher, / and in his arm so white He clasped her to his bosom. / —Soon doomed to end was her delight.
Then spake again the margrave: / "Ye royal knights and high, When that home ye journey / again to Burgundy I'll give to you my daughter, / as fitting is to do, That ye may take her with you." / They gave their plighted word thereto.
What jubilation made they / yet at last must end. The maiden then was bidden / unto her chamber wend, And guests to seek their couches / and rest until the day. For them the host provided / a feast in hospitable way.
When they had feasted fully / and to the Huns' country Thence would onward journey, / "Such thing shall never be," Spake the host full noble, / "but here ye still shall rest. Seldom hath my good fortune / welcomed yet so many a guest."
Thereto gave answer Dankwart: / "In sooth it may not be. Bread and wine whence hast thou / and food sufficiently, Over night to harbor / of guests so great a train?" When the host had heard it, / spake he: "All thy words are vain.
"Refuse not my petition, / ye noble lords and high. A fortnight's full provision / might I in sooth supply, For you and every warrior / that journeys in your train. Till now hath royal Etzel / small portion of my substance ta'en."
Though fain they had declined it, / yet they there must stay E'en to the fourth morning. / Then did the host display So generous hand and lavish / that it was told afar. He gave unto the strangers / horses and apparel rare.
The time at last was over / and they must journey thence. Then did the valiant Ruediger / with lavish hand dispense Unto all his bounty, / refused he unto none Whate'er he might desire. / Well-pleased they parted every one.
His courteous retainers / to castle gateway brought Saddled many horses, / and soon the place was sought Eke by the gallant strangers / each bearing shield in hand, For that they thence would journey / onward into Etzel's land.
The host had freely offered / rich presents unto all, Ere that the noble strangers / passed out before the hall. High in honor lived he, / a knight of bounty rare. His fair daughter had he / given unto Giselher.
Eke gave he unto Gunther, / a knight of high renown, What well might wear with honor / the monarch as his own, —Though seldom gift received he— / a coat of harness rare. Thereat inclined King Gunther / before the noble Ruediger.
Then gave he unto Gernot / a good and trusty blade, Wherewith anon in combat / was direst havoc made. That thus the gift was taken / rejoiced the margrave's wife: Thereby the noble Ruediger / was doomed anon to lose his life.
Gotelinde proffered Hagen, / as 'twas a fitting thing, Her gifts in kindly manner. / Since scorned them not the king, Eke he without her bounty / to the high festivity Should thence not onward journey. / Yet loath to take the same was he.
"Of all doth meet my vision," / Hagen then spake, "Would I wish for nothing / with me hence to take But alone the shield that hanging / on yonder wall I see. The same I'd gladly carry / into Etzel's land with me."
When the stately margravine / Hagen's words did hear, Brought they to mind her sorrow, / nor might she stop a tear. She thought again full sadly / how her son Nudung fell, Slain by hand of Wittich; / and did her breast with anguish swell.
She spake unto the hero: / "The shield to thee I'll give. O would to God in heaven / that he still did live, Whose hand erstwhile did wield it! / In battle fell he low, And I, a wretched mother, / must weep with never-ending woe.
Thereat the noble lady / up from the settle rose, And soon her arms all snow-white / did the shield enclose. She bore it unto Hagen, / who made obeisance low; The gift she might with honor / upon so valiant thane bestow.
O'er it, to keep its color, / a shining cover lay With precious stones all studded, / nor ever shone the day Upon a shield more costly; / if e'er a longing eye Did covet to possess it, / scarce thousand marks the same might buy.
The shield in charge gave Hagen / thence away to bear. Before his host then Dankwart / himself presented there, On whom the margrave's daughter / did costly dress bestow. Wherein anon in Hunland / arrayed full stately he did go.
Whate'er of gifts by any / was accepted there, Them had his hand ne'er taken, / but that intent all were To do their host an honor / who gave with hand so free. By his guests in combat / soon doomed was he slain to be.
Volker the valiant / to Gotelinde came And stood in courteous manner / with fiddle 'fore the dame. Sweet melodies he played her / and sang his songs thereby, For thought he from Bechelaren / to take departure presently.
The margravine bade to her / a casket forth to bear. And now of presents given / full freely may ye hear. Therefrom she took twelve armbands / and drew them o'er his hand. "These shall thou with thee carry, / as ridest thou to Etzel's land,
"And for my sake shalt wear them / when at court thou dost appear, That when thou hither comest / I may the story hear How thou hast done me honor / at the high festival." What did wish the lady, / faithfully performed he all.
Thus to his guests the host spake: / "That ye more safely fare, Myself will give you escort / and bid them well beware That upon the highway / no ill on you be wrought." Thereat his sumpter horses / straightway laden forth were brought
The host was well prepared / with five hundred men With horse and rich attire. / These led he with him then In right joyous humor / to the high festival. Alive to Bechelaren / again came never one of all.
Thence took his leave Sir Ruediger / with kiss full lovingly; As fitting was for Giselher, / likewise the same did he. With loving arms enfolding / caressed they ladies fair. To many a maid the parting / did bring anon full bitter tear.
On all sides then the windows / were open wide flung, As with his train of warriors / the host to saddle sprung. I ween their hearts did tell them / how they should sorrow deep. For there did many a lady / and many a winsome maiden weep.
For dear friends left behind him / grieved many a knight full sore. Whom they at Bechelaren / should behold no more. Yet rode they off rejoicing / down across the sand Hard by the Danube river / on their way to Etzel's land.
Then spake to the Burgundians / the gallant knight and bold, Ruediger the noble: / "Now let us not withhold The story of our coming / unto the Hun's country. Unto the royal Etzel / might tidings ne'er more welcome be."
Down in haste through Austria / the messenger did ride, Who told unto the people / soon on every side, From Worms beyond Rhine river / were high guests journeying. Nor unto Etzel's people / gladder tidings might ye bring.
Onward spurred the messengers / who did the message bear, How now in Hunnish country / the Nibelungen were. "Kriemhild, lofty lady, / warm thy welcome be; In stately manner hither / come thy loving brothers three."
Within a lofty casement / the Lady Kriemhild stood, Looking for her kinsmen, / as friend for friend full good. From her father's country / saw she many a knight; Eke heard the king the tidings, / and laughed thereat for sheer delight.
"Now well my heart rejoiceth," / spake Lady Kriemhild. "Hither come my kinsmen / with many a new-wrought shield And brightly shining hauberk: / who gold would have from me, Be mindful of my sorrow; / to him I'll ever gracious be."
How the Burgundians came to Etzel's Castle
When that the men of Burgundy / were come into the land, He of Bern did hear it, / the aged Hildebrand. He told it to his master, / who sore thereat did grieve; The knight so keen and gallant / bade he in fitting way receive.
Wolfhart the valiant / bade lead the heroes forth. In company with Dietrich / rode many a thane of worth, As out to receive them / across the plain he went, Where might ye see erected / already many a stately tent.
When that of Tronje Hagen / them far away espied, Unto his royal masters / full courteously he said: "Now shall ye, doughty riders, / down from the saddle spring, And forward go to meet them / that here to you a welcome bring.
"A train there cometh yonder, / well knew I e'en when young. Thanes they are full doughty / of the land of Amelung. He of Bern doth lead them, / and high of heart they are; To scorn their proffered greeting / shall ye in sooth full well beware."
Dismounted then with Dietrich, / (as was meet and right,) Attended by his squire / many a gallant knight. They went unto the strangers / and greeted courteously The knights that far had ridden / from the land of Burgundy.
When then Sir Dietrich / saw them coming near, What words the thane delivered, / now may ye willing hear, Unto Ute's children. / Their journey grieved him sore. He weened that Ruediger knowing / had warned what lay for them in store.
"Welcome be ye, Masters, / Gunther and Giselher, Gernot and Hagen, / welcome eke Volker And the valiant Dankwart. / Do ye not understand? Kriemhild yet sore bemoaneth / the hero of Nibelungen land."
"Long time may she be weeping," / Hagen spake again; "In sooth for years a many / dead he lies and slain. To the monarch now of Hunland / should she devoted be: Siegfried returneth never, / buried now long time is he."
"How Siegfried's death was compassed, / let now the story be: While liveth Lady Kriemhild, / look ye for injury." Thus did of Bern Sir Dietrich / unto them declare: "Hope of the Nibelungen, / of her vengeance well beware."
"Whereof shall I be fearful?" / the lofty monarch spake: "Etzel hath sent us message, / (why further question make?) That we should journey hither / into his country. Eke hath my sister Kriemhild / oft wished us here as guests to see.
"I give thee honest counsel," / Hagen then did say, "Now shalt thou here Sir Dietrich / and his warriors pray To tell thee full the story, / if aught may be designed, And let thee know more surely / how stands the Lady Kriemhild's mind."
Then went to speak asunder / the lordly monarchs three, Gunther and Gernot, / and Dietrich went he. "Now tell us true, thou noble / knight of Bern and kind, If that perchance thou knowest / how stands thy royal mistress' mind."
The lord of Bern gave answer: / "What need to tell you more? I hear each day at morning / weeping and wailing sore The wife of royal Etzel, / who piteous doth complain To God in heaven that Siegfried / her doughty spouse from her was ta'en."
"Then must we e'en abide it," / was the fearless word Of Volker the Fiddler, / "what we here have heard. To court we yet shall journey / and make full clear to all, If that to valiant warriors / may aught amid the Huns befall."
The gallant thanes of Burgundy / unto court then rode, And went in stately manner / as was their country's mode. Full many a man in Hunland / looked eagerly to see Of what manner Hagen, / Tronje's doughty thane, might be.
For that was told the story / (and great the wonder grew) How that of Netherland / Siegfried he slew, That was the spouse of Kriemhild, / in strength without a peer, Hence a mickle questioning / after Hagen might ye hear.
Great was the knight of stature, / may ye know full true, Built with breast expansive; / mingled was the hue Of his hair with silver; / long he was of limb; As he strode stately forward / might ye mark his visage grim.
Then were the thanes of Burgundy / unto quarters shown, But the serving-man of Gunther / by themselves alone. Thus the queen did counsel, / so filled she was with hate. Anon where they were harbored / the train did meet with direst fate.
Dankwart, Hagen's brother, / marshal was he. To him the king his followers / commended urgently, That he provide them plenty / and have of them good care. The noble knight of Burgundy / their safety well in mind did bear.
By her train attended, / Queen Kriemhild went To greet the Nibelungen, / yet false was her intent. She kissed her brother Giselher / and took him by the hand: Thereat of Tronje Hagen / did tighter draw his helmet's band.
"After such like greeting," / the doughty Hagen spake, "Let all watchful warriors / full precaution take: Differs wide the greeting / on masters and men bestowed. Unhappy was the hour / when to this festival we rode."
She spake: "Now be ye welcome / to whom ye welcome be. For sake of friendship never / ye greeting have from me. Tell me now what bring ye / from Worms across the Rhine, That ye so greatly welcome / should ever be to land of mine?"
"An I had only known it," / Hagen spake again, "That thou didst look for present / from hand of every thane, I were, methinks, so wealthy / —had I me bethought— That I unto this country / likewise to thee my gift had brought."
"Now shall ye eke the story / to me more fully say: The Nibelungen treasure, / where put ye that away? My own possession was it, / as well ye understand. That same ye should have brought me / hither unto Etzel's land."
"In sooth, my Lady Kriemhild, / full many a day hath flown Since of the Nibelungen / hoard I aught have known. Into the Rhine to sink it / my lords commanded me: Verily there must it / until the day of judgment be."
Thereto the queen gave answer: / "Such was e'en my thought. Thereof right little have ye / unto me hither brought, Although myself did own it / and once o'er it held sway. 'Tis cause that I for ever / have full many a mournful day."
"The devil have I brought thee," / Hagen did declare. "My shield it is so heavy / that I have to bear, And my plaited armor; / my shining helmet see, And sword in hand I carry, / —so might I nothing bring for thee."
Then spake the royal lady / unto the warriors all: "Weapon shall not any / bear into the hall. To me now for safe keeping, / ye thanes shall give them o'er." "In sooth," gave answer Hagen, / "such thing shall happen nevermore.
"Such honor ne'er I covet, / royal lady mild, That to its place of keeping / thou shouldst bear my shield With all my other armor, / —for thou art a queen. Such taught me ne'er my sire: / myself will be my chamberlain."
"Alack of these my sorrows!" / the Lady Kriemhild cried; "Wherefore will now my brother / and Hagen not confide To me their shields for keeping? / Some one did warning give. Knew I by whom 'twas given, / brief were the space that he might live."
Thereto the mighty Dietrich / in wrath his answer gave: "'Tis I who now these noble / lords forewarned have, And Hagen, knight full valiant / of the land of Burgundy. Now on! thou devil's mistress, / let not the deed my profit be."
Great shame thereat did Kriemhild's / bosom quickly fill; She feared lest Dietrich's anger / should work her grievous ill. Naught she spake unto them / as thence she swiftly passed, But fierce the lightning glances / that on her enemies she cast.
By hand then grasped each, other / doughty warriors twain: Hight the one was Dietrich, / with Hagen, noble thane. Then spake in courteous manner / that knight of high degree: "That ye are come to Hunland, / 'tis very sorrow unto me;
"For what hath here been spoken / by the lofty queen." Then spake of Tronje Hagen: / "Small cause to grieve, I ween." Held converse thus together / those brave warriors twain, King Etzel which perceiving / thus a questioning began:
"I would learn full gladly," / —in such wise spake he— "Who were yonder warrior, / to whom so cordially Doth greeting give Sir Dietrich. / Meseemeth high his mood. Whosoe'er his sire, / a thane he is of mettle good."
Unto the king gave answer / of Kriemhild's train a knight: "Born he was of Tronje, / Aldrian his sire hight. How merry here his bearing, / a thane full grim is he. That I have spoken truly, / shalt thou anon have cause to see."
"How may I then perceive it / that fierce his wrath doth glow?" Naught of basest treachery / yet the king did know, That anon Queen Kriemhild / 'gainst her kinsmen did contrive, Whereby returned from Hunland / not one of all their train alive.
"Well knew I Aldrian, / he once to me was thane: Praise and mickle honor / he here by me did gain. Myself a knight did make him, / and gave him of my gold. Helke, noble lady, / did him in highest favor hold.
"Thereby know I fully / what Hagen since befell. Two stately youths as hostage / at my court did dwell, He and Spanish Walter, / from youth to manhood led. Hagen sent I homeward; / Walter with Hildegunde fled."
He thought on ancient story / that long ago befell. His doughty friend of Tronje / knew he then right well, Whose youthful valor erstwhile / did such assistance lend. Through him in age he must be / bereft of many a dearest friend.
How He arose not before Her
Then parted from each other / the noble warriors twain, Hagen of Tronje / and Dietrich, lofty thane. Then did King Gunther's warrior / cast a glance around, Seeking a companion / the same he eke full quickly found.
As standing there by Giselher / he did Volker see, He prayed the nimble Fiddler / to bear him company, For that full well he knew it / how grim he was of mood, And that in all things was he / a knight of mettle keen and good.
While yet their lords were standing / there in castle yard Saw ye the two knights only / walking thitherward Across the court far distant / before the palace wide. The chosen thanes recked little / what might through any's hate betide.
They sate them down on settle / over against a hall, Wherein dwelt Lady Kriemhild, / beside the palace wall. Full stately their attire / on stalwart bodies shone. All that did look upon them / right gladly had the warriors known.
Like unto beasts full savage / were they gaped upon, The two haughty heroes, / by full many a Hun. Eke from a casement Etzel's / wife did them perceive: Once more to behold them / must fair Lady Kriemhild grieve.
It called to mind her sorrow, / and she to weep began, Whereat did mickle wonder / many an Etzel's man, What grief had thus so sudden / made her sad of mood. Spake she: "That hath Hagen, / ye knights of mettle keen and good."
They to their mistress answered: / "Such thing, how hath it been? For that thee right joyous / we but now have seen. Ne'er lived he so daring / that, having wrought thee ill, His life he must not forfeit, / if but to vengeance point thy will."
"I live but to requite him / that shall avenge my wrong; Whate'er be his desire / shall unto him belong. Prostrate I beseech you," / —so spake the monarch's wife— "Avenge me upon Hagen, / and forfeit surely be his life."
Three score of valiant warriors / made ready then straightway To work the will of Kriemhild / and her best obey By slaying of Sir Hagen, / the full valiant thane, And eke the doughty Fiddler; / by shameful deed thus sought they gain.
When the queen beheld there / so small their company, In full angry humor / to the warriors spake she: "What there ye think to compass, / forego such purpose yet: So small in numbers never / dare ye Hagen to beset.
"How doughty e'er be Hagen, / and known his valor wide, A man by far more doughty / that sitteth him beside, Volker the Fiddler: / a warrior grim is he. In sooth may not so lightly / the heroes twain confronted be."
When that she thus had spoken, / ready soon were seen Four hundred stalwart warriors; / for was the lofty queen Full intent upon it / to work them evil sore. Therefrom for all the strangers / was mickle sorrow yet in store.
When that complete attired / were here retainers seen, Unto the knights impatient / in such wise spake the queen: "Now bide ye yet a moment / and stand ye ready so, While I with crown upon me / unto my enemies shall go.
"And list while I accuse him / how he hath wrought me bane, Hagen of Tronje, / Gunther's doughty thane. I know his mood so haughty, / naught he'll deny of all. Nor reck I what of evil / therefrom may unto him befall."
Then saw the doughty Fiddler / —he was a minstrel keen— Adown the steps descending / the high and stately queen Who issued from the castle. / When he the queen espied, Spake the valiant Volker / to him was seated by his side:
"Look yonder now, friend Hagen, / how that she hither hies Who to this land hath called us / in such treacherous wise. No monarch's wife I ever / saw followed by such band Of warriors armed for battle, / that carry each a sword in hand.
"Know'st thou, perchance, friend Hagen, / if hate to thee they bear? Then would I well advise thee / of them full well beware And guard both life and honor. / That methinks were good, For if I much mistake not, / full wrathful is the warriors' mood.
"Of many eke among them / so broad the breasts do swell, That who would guard him 'gainst them / betimes would do it well. I ween that 'neath their tunics / they shining mail-coats wear: Yet might I never tell thee, / 'gainst whom such evil mind they bear."
Then spake all wrathful-minded / Hagen the warrior keen: "On me to vent their fury / is their sole thought, I ween, That thus with brandished weapons / their onward press we see. Despite them all yet trow I / to come safe home to Burgundy.
"Now tell me, friend Volker, / wilt thou beside me stand, If seek to work me evil / here Kriemhild's band? That let me hear right truly, / as I am dear to thee. By thy side forever / shall my service faithful be."
"Full surely will I help thee," / the minstrel straight replied; "And saw I e'en a monarch / with all his men beside Hither come against us, / the while a sword I wield Not fear shall ever prompt me / from thy side one pace to yield."
"Now God in heaven, O Volker, / give thy high heart its meed. Will they forsooth assail me, / whereof else have I need? Wilt thou thus stand beside me / as here is thy intent, Let come all armed these warriors, / on whatsoever purpose bent."
"Now rise we from this settle," / the minstrel spake once more, "While that the royal lady / passeth here before. To her be done this honor / as unto lady high. Ourselves in equal manner / shall we honor eke thereby."
"Nay, nay! as me thou lovest," / Hagen spake again, "For so would sure imagine / here each hostile thane That 'twere from fear I did it, / should I bear me so. For sake of never any / will I from this settle go.
"Undone we both might leave it / in sooth more fittingly. Wherefore should I honor / who bears ill-will to me? Such thing will I do never, / the while I yet have life. Nor reck I aught how hateth / me the royal Etzel's wife."
Thereat defiant Hagen / across his knee did lay A sword that shone full brightly, / from whose knob did play The light of glancing jasper / greener than blade of grass. Well perceived Kriemhild / that it erstwhile Siegfried's was.
When she the sword espied, / to weep was sore her need. The hilt was shining golden, / the sheath a band of red. As it recalled her sorrow, / her tears had soon begun; I ween for that same purpose / 'twas thus by dauntless Hagen done.
Eke the valiant Volker / a fiddle-bow full strong Unto himself drew nearer; / mickle it was and long, Like unto a broad-sword / full sharp that was and wide. So sat they all undaunted / the stately warriors side by side.
There sat the thanes together / in such defiant wise That would never either / from the settle rise Through fear of whomsoever. / Then strode before their feet The lofty queen, and wrathful / did thus the doughty warriors greet.
Quoth she: "Now tell me, Hagen, / upon whose command Barest thou thus to journey / hither to this land, And knowest well what sorrow / through thee my heart must bear. Wert thou not reft of reason, / then hadst thou kept thee far from here."
"By none have I been summoned," / Hagen gave reply. "Three lofty thanes invited / were to this country: The same I own as masters / and service with them find. Whene'er they make court journey / 'twere strange should I remain behind."
Quoth she: "Now tell me further, / wherefore didst thou that Whereby thou hast deserved / my everlasting hate? 'Twas thou that slewest Siegfried, / spouse so dear to me, The which, till life hath ended, / must ever cause for weeping be."
Spake he: "Why parley further, / since further word were vain? E'en I am that same Hagen / by whom was Siegfried slain, That deft knight of valor. / How sore by him 'twas paid That the Lady Kriemhild / dared the fair Brunhild upbraid!
"Beyond all cavil is it, / high and royal dame, Of all the grievous havoc / I do bear the blame. Avenge it now who wisheth, / woman or man tho't be. An I unto thee lie not, / I've wrought thee sorest injury."
She spake: "Now hear, ye warriors, / how denies he not at all The cause of all my sorrow. / Whate'er may him befall Reck I not soever, / that know ye, Etzel's men." The overweening warriors / blank gazed upon each other then.
Had any dared the onset, / seen it were full plain The palm must be awarded / to the companions twain, Who had in storm of battle / full oft their prowess shown. What that proud band designed / through fear must now be left undone.
Outspake one of their number: / "Wherefore look thus to me? What now I thought to venture / left undone shall be, Nor for reward of any / think I my life to lose; To our destruction lures us / here the royal Etzel's spouse."
Then spake thereby another: / "Like mind therein have I. Though ruddy gold were offered / like towers piled high, Yet would I never venture / to stir this Fiddler's spleen. Such are the rapid glances / that darting from his eyes I've seen.
"Likewise know I Hagen / from youthful days full well, Nor more about his valor / to me need any tell. In two and twenty battles / I the knight have seen, Whereby sorest sorrow / to many a lady's heart hath been.
"When here they were with Etzel, / he and the knight of Spain Bore storm of many a battle / in many a warlike train For sake of royal honor, / so oft thereof was need. Wherefore of right are honors / high the valiant Hagen's meed.
"Then was yet the hero / but a child in years; Now how hoary-headed / who were his youthful feres, To wisdom now attained, / a warrior grim and strong, Eke bears he with him Balmung, / the which he gained by mickle wrong."
Therewith the matter ended, / and none the fight dared start, Whereat the Lady Kriemhild / full heavy was of heart. Her warriors thence did vanish, / for feared they death indeed At hands of the Fiddler, / whereof right surely was there need.
Outspake then the Fiddler: / "Well we now have seen, That enemies here do greet us, / as we forewarned have been. Back unto the monarchs / let us straight repair, That none against our masters / to raise a hostile hand may dare.
"How oft from impious purpose / doth fear hold back the hand, Where friend by friend doth only / firm in friendship stand, Until right sense give warning / to leave the thing undone. Thus wisdom hath prevented / the harm of mortals many a one."
"Heed I will thy counsel," / Hagen gave reply. Then passed they where / the monarchs found they presently In high state received / within the palace court. Loud the valiant Volker / straight began after this sort
Unto his royal masters: / "How long will ye stand so, That foes may press upon you? / To the king ye now shall go, And from his lips hear spoken / how is his mind to you." The valiant lords and noble / consorted then by two and two.
Of Bern the lofty Dietrich / took by the hand Gunther the lordly monarch / of Burgundian land; Irnfried escorted Gernot, / a knight of valor keen, And Ruediger with Giselher / going unto the court was seen.
Howe'er with fere consorted / there any thane might be, Volker and Hagen / ne'er parted company, Save in storm of battle / when they did reach life's bourne, 'Twas cause that highborn ladies / anon in grievous way must mourn.
Unto the court then passing / with the kings were seen. Of their lofty retinue / a thousand warriors keen, And threescore thanes full valiant / that followed in their train; The same from his own country / had doughty Hagen with him ta'en.
Hawart and eke Iring, / chosen warriors twain, Saw ye walk together / in the royal train. By Dankwart and Wolfhart, / a thane of high renown, Was high courtly bearing / there before the others shown.
When the lord of Rhineland / passed into the hall, Etzel mighty monarch / waited not at all, But sprang from off his settle / when he beheld him nigh. By monarch ne'er was given / greeting so right heartily.
"Welcome be, Lord Gunther, / and eke Sir Gernot too, And your brother Giselher. / My greetings unto you I sent with honest purpose / to Worms across the Rhine; And welcome all your followers / shall be unto this land of mine.
"Right welcome be ye likewise, / doughty warriors twain, Volker the full valiant, / and Hagen dauntless thane, To me and to my lady / here in my country. Unto the Rhine to greet you / many a messenger sent she."
Then spake of Tronje Hagen: / "Thereof I'm well aware, And did I with my masters / not thus to Hunland fare, To do thee honor had I / ridden unto thy land." Then took the lofty monarch / the honored strangers by the hand.
He led them to the settle / whereon himself he sat, Then poured they for the strangers / —with care they tended that— In goblets wide and golden / mead and mulberry wine, And bade right hearty welcome / unto the knights afar from Rhine.
Then spake the monarch Etzel: / "This will I freely say: Naught in this world might happen / to bring my heart more joy, Than that ye lofty heroes / thus are come to me. The queen from mickle sadness / thereby make ye likewise free.
"To me 'twas mickle wonder / wherein had I transgressed, That I for friends had won me / so many a noble guest, Yet ye had never deigned / to come to my country. 'Tis now turned cause of gladness / that you as guests I here may see."
Thereto gave answer Ruediger, / a knight of lofty mind: "Well mayst thou joy to see them; / right honor shalt thou find And naught but noble bearing / in my high mistress' kin. With them for guest thou likewise / many a stately thane dost win."
At turn of sun in summer / were the knights arrived At mighty Etzel's palace. / Ne'er hath monarch lived That lordly guests did welcome / with higher compliment. When come was time of eating, / the king with them to table went.
Amid his guests more stately / a host was seated ne'er. They had in fullest measure / of drink and goodly fare; Whate'er they might desire, / they ready found the same. Tales of mickle wonder / had spread abroad the heroes' fame.
How they kept Guard
And now the day was ended / and nearing was the night. Came then the thought with longing / unto each way-worn knight, When that they might rest them / and to their beds be shown. 'Twas mooted first by Hagen / and straight was answer then made known.
To Etzel spake then Gunther: / "Fair days may God thee give! To bed we'll now betake us, / an be it by thy leave; We'll come betimes at morning, / if so thy pleasure be." From his guests the monarch / parted then full courteously.
Upon the guests on all sides / the Huns yet rudely pressed, Whereat the valiant Volker / these words to them addressed: "How dare ye 'fore these warriors / thus beset the way? If that ye desist not, / rue such rashness soon ye may.
"Let fall will I on some one / such stroke of fiddle-bow, That eyes shall fill with weeping / if he hath friend to show. Why make not way before us, / as fitting were to do! Knights by name ye all are, / but knighthood's ways unknown to you."
When outspake the Fiddler / thus so wrathfully Backward glanced bold Hagen / to see what this might be. Quoth he: "He redes you rightly, / this keen minstrel knight. Ye followers of Kriemhild, / now pass to rest you for the night.
"The thing whereof ye're minded / will none dare do, I ween. If aught ye purpose 'gainst us, / on the morrow be that seen, And let us weary strangers / the night in quiet pass; I ween, with knights of honor / such evermore the custom was."
Then were led the strangers / into a spacious hall Where they found prepared / for the warriors one and all Beds adorned full richly, / that were both wide and long. Yet planned the Lady Kriemhild / to work on them the direst wrong.
Rich quilted mattress covers / of Arras saw ye there Lustrous all and silken, / and spreading sheets there were Wrought of silk of Araby, / the best might e'er be seen. O'er them lay rich embroidered / stuffs that cast a brilliant sheen.
Coverlets of ermine / full many might ye see, With sullen sable mingled, / whereunder peacefully They should rest the night through / till came the shining day. A king with all retinue / ne'er, I ween, so stately lay.
"Alack for these night-quarters!" / quoth young Giselher, "Alack for my companions / who this our journey share! How kind so e'er my sister's / hospitality, Dead by her devising, / I fear me, are we doomed to be."
"Let now no fears disturb you," / Hagen gave reply; "Through the hours of sleeping / keep the watch will I. I trust full well to guard you / until return the day, Thereof be never fearful; / let then preserve him well who may."
Inclined they all before him / thereat to give him grace. Then sought they straight their couches; / in sooth 'twas little space Until was softly resting / every stately man. But Hagen, valiant hero, / the while to don his armor gan.
Spake then to him the Fiddler, / Volker a doughty thane: "I'll be thy fellow, Hagen, / an wilt thou not disdain, While watch this night thou keepest, / until do come the morn." Right heartily the hero / to Volker then did thanks return.
"God in heaven requite thee, / Volker, trusty fere. In all my time of trouble / wished I none other near, None other but thee only, / when dangers round me throng. I'll well repay that favor, / if death withhold its hand so long."
Arrayed in glittering armor / both soon did ready stand; Each did take unto him / a mighty shield in hand, And passed without the portal / there to keep the way. Thus were the strangers guarded, / and trusty watchers eke had they.
Volker the valiant, / as he sat before the hall, Leaned his trusty buckler / meanwhile against the wall, Then took in hand his fiddle / as he was wont to do: All times the thane would render / unto his friends a service true.
Beneath the hall's wide portal / he sat on bench of stone; Than he a bolder fiddler / was there never none. As from his chords sweet echoes / resounded through the hall, Thanks for glad refreshment / had Volker from the warriors all.
Then from the strings an echo / the wide hall did fill, For in his fiddle-playing / the knight had strength and skill. Softer then and sweeter / to fiddle he began And wiled to peaceful slumber / many an anxious brooding man.
When they were wrapped in slumber / and he did understand, Then took again the warrior / his trusty shield in hand And passed without the portal / to guard the entrance tower, And safe to keep his fellows / where Kriemhild's crafty men did lower.
About the hour of midnight, / or earlier perchance, The eye of valiant Volker / did catch a helmet's glance Afar from out the darkness: / the men of Kriemhild sought How that upon the strangers / might grievous scathe in stealth be wrought.
Quoth thereat the Fiddler: / "Friend Hagen, 'tis full clear That we do well together / here this watch to share. I see before us yonder / men armed for the fight; I ween they will attack us, / if I their purpose judge aright."
"Be silent, then," spake Hagen, / "and let them come more nigh. Ere that they perceive us / shall helmets sit awry, By good swords disjointed / that in our hands do swing. Tale of vigorous greeting / shall they back to Kriemhild bring."
Amid the Hunnish warriors / one full soon did see, That well the door was guarded; / straightway then cried he: "The thing we here did purpose / 'tis need we now give o'er, For I behold the Fiddler / standing guard before the door.
"Upon his head a helmet / of glancing light is seen, Welded strong and skilful, / dintless, of clearest sheen. The mail-rings of his armor / do sparkle like the fire, Beside him stands eke Hagen; / safe are the strangers from our ire."
Straightway they back returned. / When Volker that did see, Unto his companion / wrathfully spake he: "Now let me to those caitiffs / across the court-yard go; What mean they by such business, / from Kriemhild's men I fain would know."
"No, as thou dost love me," / Hagen straight replied; "If from this hall thou partest, / such ill may thee betide At hands of these bold warriors / and from the swords they bear, That I must haste to help thee, / though here our kinsmen's bane it were.
"Soon as we two together / have joined with them in fight, A pair or two among them / will surely hasten straight Hither to this hall here, / and work such havoc sore Upon our sleeping brethren, / as must be mourned evermore."
Thereto gave answer Volker: / "So much natheless must be, That they do learn full certain / how I the knaves did see, That the men of Kriemhild / hereafter not deny What they had wrought full gladly / here with foulest treachery."
Straightway then unto them / aloud did Volker call: "How go ye thus in armor, / ye valiant warriors all? Or forth, perchance, a-robbing, / Kriemhild's men, go ye? Myself and my companion / shall ye then have for company."
Thereto no man gave answer. / Wrathful grew his mood: "Fie, ye caitiff villains," / spake the hero good, "Would ye us so foully / have murdered while we slept? With knights so high in honor / full seldom thus hath faith been kept."
Then unto Queen Kriemhild / were the tidings borne, How her men did fail their purpose: / 'twas cause for her to mourn. Yet otherwise she wrought it, / for grim she was of mood: Anon through her must perish / full many a valorous knight and good.
How they went to Mass
"So cool doth grow my armor," / Volker made remark, "I ween but little longer / will endure the dark. By the air do I perceive it, / that soon will break the day." Then waked they many a warrior / who still in deepest slumber lay.
When brake the light of morning / athwart the spacious hall, Hagen gan awaken / the stranger warriors all, If that they to the minster / would go to holy mass. After the Christian custom, / of bells a mickle ringing was.
There sang they all uneven, / that plainly might ye see How Christian men and heathen / did not full well agree. Each one of Gunther's warriors / would hear the service sung, So were they all together / up from their night-couches sprung.
Then did the warriors lace them / in so goodly dress, That never heroes any, / that king did e'er possess, More richly stood attired; / that Hagen grieved to see. Quoth he: "Ye knights, far other / here must your attire be.
"Yea, know among you many / how here the case doth stand. Bear ye instead of roses / your good swords in hand, For chaplets all bejewelled / your glancing helmets good, Since we have well perceived / how is the angry Kriemhild's mood.
"To-day must we do battle, / that will I now declare. Instead of silken tunic / shall ye good hauberks wear, And for embroidered mantle / a trusty shield and wide, That ye may well defend you, / if ye must others' anger bide.
"My masters well beloved, / knights and kinsmen true, 'Tis meet that ye betake you / unto the minster too, That God do not forsake you / in peril and in need, For certain now I make you / that death is nigh to us indeed.
"Forget ye not whatever / wrong ye e'er have done, But there 'fore God right meekly / all your errors own; Thereto would I advise you, / ye knights of high degree, For God alone in heaven / may will that other mass ye see."
Thus went they to the minster, / the princes and their men. Within the holy churchyard / bade them Hagen then Stand all still together / that they part not at all. Quoth he: "Knows not any / what may at hands of Huns befall.
"Let stand, good friends, all ready, / your shields before your feet, That if ever any / would you in malice greet, With deep-cut wound ye pay him; / that is Hagen's rede, That from men may never / aught but praises be your meed."
Volker and Hagen, / the twain thence did pass Before the broad minster. / Therein their purpose was That the royal Kriemhild / must meet them where they stood There athwart her pathway. / In sooth full grim she was of mood.
Then came the royal Etzel / and eke his spouse full fair. Attired were the warriors / all in raiment rare That following full stately / with her ye might see; The dust arose all densely / round Kriemhild's mickle company.
When the lofty monarch / thus all armed did see The kings and their followers, / straightway then cried he: "How see I in this fashion / my friends with helm on head? By my troth I sorrow / if ill to them have happened.
"I'll gladly make atonement / as doth to them belong. Hath any them affronted / or done them aught of wrong, To me 'tis mickle sorrow, / well may they understand. To serve them am I ready, / in whatsoever they command."
Thereto gave answer Hagen: / "Here hath wronged us none. 'Tis custom of my masters / to keep their armor on Till full three days be over, / when high festival they hold. Did any here molest us, / to Etzel would the thing be told."
Full well heard Kriemhild likewise / how Hagen gave reply. Upon him what fierce glances / flashed furtively her eye! Yet betray she would not / the custom of her country, Though well she long had known it / in the land of Burgundy.
How grim soe'er and mighty / the hate to them she bore, Had any told to Etzel / how stood the thing before, Well had he prevented / what there anon befell. So haughty were they minded / that none to him the same would tell.
With the queen came forward / there a mighty train, But no two handbreadths yielded / yet those warriors twain To make way before her. / The Huns did wrathful grow, That their mistress passing / should by them be jostled so.
Etzel's highborn pages / were sore displeased thereat, And had upon the strangers / straightway spent their hate, But that they durst not do it / their high lord before. There was a mickle pressing, / yet naught of anger happened more.
When they thence were parting / from holy service done, On horse came quickly prancing / full many a nimble Hun. With the Lady Kriemhild / went many a maiden fair, And eke to make her escort / seven thousand knights rode there.
Kriemhild with her ladies / within the casement sat By Etzel, mighty monarch, / —full pleased he was thereat. They wished to view the tourney / of knights beyond compare. What host of strangers riding / thronged the court before them there!
The marshal with the squires / not in vain ye sought, Dankwart the full valiant: / with him had he brought His royal master's followers / of the land of Burgundy. For the valiant Nibelungen / the steeds well saddled might ye see.
When their steeds they mounted, / the kings and all their men, Volker thane full doughty, / gave his counsel then, That after their country's fashion / they ride a mass mellay. His rede the heroes followed / and tourneyed in full stately way.
The knight had counsel given / in sooth that pleased them well; The clash of arms in mellay / soon full loud did swell. Many a valiant warrior / did thereto resort, As Etzel and Kriemhild / looked down upon the spacious court.
Came there unto the mellay / six hundred knights of those That followed Dietrich's bidding, / the strangers to oppose. Pastime would they make them / with the men of Burgundy, And if he leave had granted. / had done the same right willingly.
In their company rode there / how many a warrior bold! When unto Sir Dietrich / then the thing was told, Forbade he that 'gainst Gunther's / men they join the play. He feared lest harm befall them, / and well his counsel did he weigh.
When of Bern the warriors / thence departed were, Came they of Bechelaren, / the men of Ruediger, Bearing shield five hundred, / and rode before the hall; Rather had the margrave / that they came there not at all.
Prudently then rode he / amid their company And told unto his warriors / how they might plainly see, That the men of Gunther / were in evil mood: Did they forego the mellay, / please him better far it would.
When they were thence departed, / the stately knights and bold, Came they of Thuringia, / as hath to us been told, And of them of Denmark / a thousand warriors keen. From crash of spear up-flying / full frequent were the splinters seen.
Irnfried and Hawart / rode into the mellay, Whom the gallant men of Rhineland / received in knightly play: Full oft the men of Thuringia / they met in tournament, Whereby the piercing lance-point / through many a stately shield was sent.
Eke with three thousand warriors / came Sir Bloedel there. Etzel and Kriemhild / were of his coming ware, As this play of chivalry / before them they did see. Now hoped the queen that evil / befall the men of Burgundy.
Schrutan and Gibecke / rode into the mellay, Eke Ramung and Hornbog / after the Hunnish way; Yet must they come to standstill / 'fore the thanes of Burgundy. High against the palace / wall the splintered shafts did fly.
How keen soe'er the contest, / 'twas naught but knightly sport. With shock of shields and lances / heard ye the palace court Loud give back the echo / where Gunther's men rode on. His followers in the jousting / on every side high honor won.
So long they held such pastime / and with so mickle heat That through the broidered trappings / oozed clear drops of sweat From the prancing chargers / whereon the knights did ride. In full gallant manner / their skill against the Huns they tried.
Then outspake the Fiddler, / Volker deft of hand: "These knights, I ween, too timid / are 'gainst us to stand. Oft did I hear the story / what hate to us they bore; Than this a fairer season / to vent it, find they nevermore."
"Lead back unto the stables," / once more spake Volker then, "Now our weary chargers; / we'll ride perchance again When comes the cool of evening, / if fitting time there be. Mayhap the queen will honor / award to men of Burgundy."
Beheld they then prick hither / one dressed in state so rare That of the Huns none other / might with him compare. Belike from castle tower / did watch his fair lady; So gay was his apparel / as it some knight's bride might be.
Then again quoth Volker: / "How may I stay my hand? Yonder ladies' darling / a knock shall understand. Let no man here deter me, / I'll give him sudden check. How spouse of royal Etzel / thereat may rage, I little reck."
"Nay, as thou dost love me," / straight King Gunther spake; "All men will but reproach us / if such affront we make. The Huns be first offenders, / for such would more befit." Still did the royal Etzel / in casement by Queen Kriemhild sit.
"I'll add unto the mellay," / Hagen did declare; "Let now all these ladies / and knights be made aware How we can ride a charger; / 'twere well we make it known, For, come what may, small honor / shall here to Gunther's men be shown."
Once more the nimble Volker / into the mellay spurred, Whereat full many a lady / soon to weep was heard. His lance right through the body / of that gay Hun he sent: 'Twas cause that many a woman / and maiden fair must sore lament.
Straight dashed into the mellay / Hagen and his men. With three score of his warriors / spurred he quickly then Forward where the Fiddler / played so lustily. Etzel and Kriemhild / full plainly might the passage see.
Then would the kings their minstrel / —that may ye fairly know— Leave not all defenceless / there amid the foe. With them a thousand heroes / rode forth full dexterously, And soon had gained their purpose / with show of proudest chivalry.
When in such rude fashion / the stately Hun was slain, Might ye hear his kinsmen / weeping loud complain. Then all around did clamor: / "Who hath the slayer been?" "None but the Fiddler was it, / Volker the minstrel keen."
For swords and for shields then / called full speedily That slain margrave's kinsmen / of the Hun's country. To avenge him sought they / Volker in turn to slay. In haste down from the casement / royal Etzel made his way.
Arose a mighty clamor / from the people all; The kings and men of Burgundy / dismounted 'fore the hall, And likewise their chargers / to the rear did send. Came then the mighty Etzel / and sought to bring the strife to end.
From one of that Hun's kinsmen / who near by him did stand Snatched he a mighty weapon / quick from out his hand, And therewith backward smote them, / for fierce his anger wrought. "Shall thus my hospitality / unto these knights be brought to naught?"
"If ye the valiant minstrel / here 'fore me should slay," Spake the royal Etzel, / "it were an evil day. When he the Hun impaled / I did observe full well, That not through evil purpose / but by mishap it so befell.
"These my guests now must ye / ne'er disturb in aught." Himself became their escort. / Away their steeds were brought Unto the stables / by many a waiting squire, Who ready at their bidding / stood to meet their least desire.
The host with the strangers / into the palace went, Nor would he suffer any / further his wrath to vent. Soon were the tables ready / and water for them did wait. Many then had gladly / on them of Rhineland spent their hate.
Not yet the lords were seated / till some time was o'er. For Kriemhild o'er her sorrow / meantime did trouble sore. She spake: "Of Bern, O Master, / thy counsel grant to me, Thy help and eke thy mercy, / for here in sorry plight I be."
To her gave answer Hildebrand, / a thane right praiseworthy: "Who harms the Nibelungen / shall ne'er have help of me, How great soe'er the guerdon. / Such deed he well may rue, For never yet did any / these gallant doughty knights subdue."
Eke in courteous manner / Sir Dietrich her addressed: "Vain, O lofty mistress, / unto me thy quest. In sooth thy lofty kinsmen / have wronged me not at all, That I on thanes so valorous / should thus with murderous purpose fall.
"Thy prayer doth thee small honor, / O high and royal dame, That upon thy kinsmen / thou so dost counsel shame. Thy grace to have they deemed / when came they to this land. Nevermore shall Siegfried / avenged be by Dietrich's hand."
When she no guile discovered / in the knight of Bern, Unto Bloedel straightway / did she hopeful turn With promise of wide marches / that Nudung erst did own. Slew him later Dankwart / that he forgot the gift full soon.
Spake she: "Do thou help me, / Sir Bloedel, I pray. Yea, within the palace / are foes of mine this day, Who erstwhile slew Siegfried, / spouse full dear to me. Who helps me to avenge it, / to him I'll e'er beholden be."
Thereto gave answer Bloedel: / "Lady, be well aware, Ne'er to do them evil / 'fore Etzel may I dare, For to thy kinsmen, lady, / beareth he good will. Ne'er might the king me pardon, / wrought I upon them aught of ill."
"But nay, Sir Bloedel, my favor / shall thou have evermore. Yea, give I thee for guerdon / silver and gold in store, And eke a fairest lady, / that Nudung erst should wed: By her fond embraces / may'st thou well be comforted.
"The land and eke the castles, / all to thee I'll give; Yea, may'st thou, knight full noble, / in joyance ever live, Call'st thou thine the marches, / wherein did Nudung dwell. Whate'er this day I promise, / fulfil it all I will full well."
When understood Sir Bloedel / what gain should be his share, And pleased him well the lady / for that she was so fair, By force of arms then thought he / to win her for his wife. Thereby the knight aspirant / was doomed anon to lose his life.
"Unto the hall betake thee," / quoth he unto the queen, "Alarum I will make thee / ere any know, I ween. Atone shall surely Hagen / where he hath done thee wrong: To thee I'll soon give over / King Gunther's man in fetters strong."
"To arms, to arms!" quoth Bloedel, / "my good warriors all: In their followers' quarters / upon the foe we'll fall. Herefrom will not release me / royal Etzel's wife. To win this venture therefore / fear not each one to lose his life."
When at length Queen Kriemhild / found Bloedel well content To fulfil her bidding, / she to table went With the monarch Etzel / and eke a goodly band. Dire was the treason / she against the guests had planned.
Since in none other manner / she knew the strife to start, (Kriemhild's ancient sorrow / still rankled in her heart), Bade she bring to table / Etzel's youthful son: By woman bent on vengeance / how might more awful deed be done?
Went upon the instant / four of Etzel's men, And soon came bearing Ortlieb, / the royal scion, then Unto the princes' table, / where eke grim Hagen sate. The child was doomed to perish / by reason of his deadly hate.
When the mighty monarch / then his child did see, Unto his lady's kinsmen / in manner kind spake he: "Now, my good friends, behold ye / here my only son, And child of your high sister: / may it bring you profit every one.
"Grow he but like his kindred, / a valiant man he'll be, A mighty king and noble, / doughty and fair to see. Live I but yet a little, / twelve lands shall he command; May ye have faithful service / from the youthful Ortlieb's hand.
"Therefore grant me favor, / ye good friends of mine; When to your country ride ye / again unto the Rhine, Shall ye then take with you / this your sister's son, And at your hands may ever / by the child full fair be done.
"Bring him up in honor / until to manhood grown. If then in any country / hath wrong to you been done, He'll help you by his valor / vengeance swift to wreak." Eke heard the Lady Kriemhild / royal Etzel thus to speak.
"Well might these my masters / on his faith rely, Grew he e'er to manhood," / Hagen made reply: "Yet is the prince, I fear me, / more early doomed of fate. 'Twere strange did any see me / ever at court on Ortlieb wait."
The monarch glanced at Hagen, / sore grieved at what he heard; Although the king full gallant / thereto spake ne'er a word, Natheless his heart was saddened / and heavy was his mind. Nowise the mood of Hagen / was to merriment inclined.
It grieved all the princes / and the royal host That of his child did Hagen / make such idle boast. That they must likewise leave it / unanswered, liked they not: They little weaned what havoc / should by the thane anon be wrought.
How Bloedel was Slain
The knights by Bloedel summoned / soon armed and ready were, A thousand wearing hauberks / straightway did repair Where Dankwart sat at table / with many a goodly squire. Soon knight on knight was seeking / in fiercest way to vent his ire.
When there Sir Bloedel / strode unto the board, Dankwart the marshal / thus spoke courteous word: "Unto this hall right welcome / good Sir Bloedel be. What business hast thou hither / is cause of wonder yet to me."
"No greeting here befits thee," / spake Bloedel presently, "For that this my coming / now thy end must be, Through Hagen's fault, thy brother, / who Siegfried erstwhile slew To the Huns thou mak'st atonement, / and many another warrior too."
"But nay, but nay, Sir Bloedel," / Dankwart spake thereto, "For so should we have reason / our coming here to rue. A child I was and little / when Siegfried lost his life, Nor know I why reproacheth / me the royal Etzel's wife."
"In sooth I may the story / never fully tell. Gunther and Hagen was it / by whom the deed befell. Now guard you well, ye strangers, / for doomed in sooth are ye, Unto Lady Kriemhild / must your lives now forfeit be."
"An so thou wilt desist not," / Dankwart declared, "Regret I my entreaty, / my toil were better spared." The nimble thane and valiant / up from the table sprung, And drew a keen-edged weapon, / great in sooth that was and long.
Then smote he with it Bloedel / such a sudden blow That his head full sudden / before his feet lay low. "Be that thy wedding-dower," / the doughty Dankwart spake, "Along with bride of Nudung / whom thou would'st to thy bosom take.
"To-morrow may she marry, / but some other one: Will he have bridal portion, / e'en so to him be done." A Hun that liked not treason / had given him to know How that the queen upon him / thought to work so grievous woe.
When the men of Bloedel / saw thus their master slain, To fall upon the strangers / would they longer not refrain. With swords swung high above them / upon the squires they flew In a grimmest humor. / Soon many must that rashness rue.
Full loudly cried then Dankwart / to all his company: "Behold ye, noble squires, / the fate that ours must be. Now quit yourselves with valor, / for evil is our pass, Though fair to us the summons / hither from Lady Kriemhild was!"
They, too, reached down before them, / who no weapons bore, And each a massive footstool / snatched from off the floor, For the Burgundian squires / no whit were they dismayed; And by the selfsame weapons / was many a dint in helmet made.
How fierce they fought to shield them / the strangers one and all! E'en their armed foemen / drove they from the hall. Or smote dead within it / hundreds five or more; All the valiant fighters / saw ye drenched with ruddy gore.
Ere long the wondrous tidings / some messenger did tell Unto Etzel's chieftain / —fierce did their anger swell— How that slain was Bloedel / and knights full many a one; The which had Hagen's brother / with his lusty squires done.
The Huns, by anger driven, / ere Etzel was aware, Two thousand men or over, / did quick themselves prepare. They fell upon those squires / —e'en so it had to be— And never any living / they left of all that company.
A mickle host they faithless / unto those quarters brought, But lustily the strangers / 'gainst their assailants fought. What booted swiftest valor? / Soon must all lie dead. A dire woe thereafter / on many a man was visited.
Now may ye hear a wondrous / tale of honor told: Of squires full nine thousand / soon in death lay cold, And eke good knights a dozen / there of Dankwart's band. Forlorn ye saw him only / the last amid his foemen stand.
The din at last was ended / and lulled the battle-sound, When the valiant Dankwart / did cast a glance around. "Alack for my companions," / cried he, "now from me reft. Alack that I now only / forlorn amid my foes am left."
The swords upon his body / fell full thick and fast, Which rashness many a warrior's / widow mourned at last. His shield he higher lifted / and drew the strap more low: Down coats of ring-made armor / made he the ebbing blood to flow.
"O woe is me!" spake Dankwart, / the son of Aldrian. "Now back, ye Hunnish fighters, / let me the open gain, That the air give cooling / to me storm-weary wight." In splendid valor moving / strode forward then anew the knight.
As thus he battle-weary / through the hall's portal sprang, What swords of new-come fighters / upon his helmet rang! They who not yet had witnessed / what wonders wrought his hand, Rashly rushed they forward / to thwart him of Burgundian land.
"Now would to God," quoth Dankwart, / "I found a messenger Who to my brother Hagen / might the tidings bear, That 'fore host of foemen / in such sad case am I! From hence he'd surely help me, / or by my side he slain would lie."
Then Hunnish knights gave answer: / "Thyself the messenger Shalt be, when to thy brother / thee a corse we bear. So shall that thane of Gunther / first true sorrow know. Upon the royal Etzel / here hast thou wrought so grievous woe."
Quoth he: "Now leave such boasting / and yield me passage free, Else shall mail-rings a many / with blood bespattered be. Myself will tell the tidings / soon at Etzel's court, And eke unto my masters / of this my travail make report."
Etzel's men around him / belabored he so sore That they at sword-point / durst not withstand him more. Spears shot into his shield he / so many there did stop That he the weight unwieldy / must from out his hand let drop.
Then thought they to subdue him / thus of his shield bereft, But lo! the mighty gashes / wherewith he helmets cleft! Must there keen knights full many / before him stagger down, High praise the valiant Dankwart / thereby for his valor won.
On right side and on left side / they still beset his way, Yet many a one too rashly / did mingle in the fray. Thus strode he 'mid the foemen / as doth in wood the boar By yelping hounds beleaguered; / more stoutly fought he ne'er before.
As there he went, his pathway / with reeking blood was wet. Yea, never any hero / more bravely battled yet When by foes surrounded, / than he did might display. To court did Hagen's brother / with splendid valor make his way.
When stewards and cup-bearers / heard how sword-blades rung, Many a brimming goblet / from their hands they flung And eke the viands ready / that they to table bore; Thus many doughty foemen / withstood him where he sought the door.
"How now, ye stewards?" / cried the weary knight; "'Twere better that ye tended / rather your guests aright, Bearing to lords at table / choice food that fitteth well, And suffered me these tidings / unto my masters dear to tell."
Whoe'er before him rashly / athwart the stairway sprung, On him with blow so heavy / his mighty sword he swung, That soon faint heart gave warning / before his path to yield. Mickle wonder wrought he / where sword his doughty arm did wield.
How the Burgundians fought with the Huns
Soon as the valiant Dankwart / stood beneath the door, Bade he Etzel's followers / all make way before. With blood from armor streaming / did there the hero stand; A sharp and mighty weapon / bore he naked in his hand.
Into the hall then Dankwart / cried with voice full strong: "At table, brother Hagen, / thou sittest all too long. To thee and God in heaven / must I sore complain: Knights and squires also / lie within their lodging slain."
Straight he cried in answer: / "Who hath done such deed?" "That hath done Sir Bloedel / and knights that he did lead. Eke made he meet atonement, / that may'st thou understand: His head from off his body / have I struck with mine own hand."
"'Tis little cause for sorrow," / Hagen spake again, "When they tell the story / of a valiant thane, That he to death was smitten / by knight of high degree. The less a cause for weeping / to winsome women shall it be.
"Now tell me, brother Dankwart, / how thou so red may'st be; From thy wounds thou sufferest, / I ween, full grievously. Lives he within this country / who serves thee in such way, Him must the devil shelter, / or for the deed his life shall pay."
"Behold me here all scatheless. / My gear is wet with blood, From wounds of others, natheless, / now hath flowed that flood, Of whom this day so many / beneath my broadsword fell: Must I make solemn witness, / ne'er knew I full the tale to tell."
He answered: "Brother Dankwart, / now take thy stand before, And Huns let never any / make passage by the door. I'll speak unto these warriors, / as needs must spoken be: Dead lie all our followers, / slain by foulest treachery."
"Must I here be chamberlain," / replied the warrior keen, "Well know I such high monarchs / aright to serve, I ween. So will I guard the stairway / as sorts with honor well." Ne'er to the thanes of Kriemhild / so sorry case before befell.
"To me 'tis mickle wonder," / Hagen spake again, "What thing unto his neighbor / whispers each Hunnish thane. I ween they'd forego the service / of him who keeps the door, And who such high court tidings / to his friends of Burgundy bore.
"Long since of Lady Kriemhild / the story I did hear, How unavenged her sorrow / she might no longer bear. A memory-cup now quaff we / and pay for royal cheer! The youthful lord of Hunland / shall make the first instalment here."
Thereat the child Ortlieb / doughty Hagen slew, That from the sword downward / the blood to hand-grip flew, And into lap of Kriemhild / the severed head down rolled. Then might ye see 'mid warriors / a slaughter great and grim unfold.
By both hands swiftly wielded, / his blade then cut the air And smote upon the tutor / who had the child in care, That down before the table / his head that instant lay: It was a sorry payment / wherewith he did the tutor pay.
His eye 'fore Etzel's table / a minstrel espied: To whom in hasty manner / did wrathful Hagen stride, Where moved it on the fiddle / his right hand off smote he; "Have that for thy message / unto the land of Burgundy."
"Alack my hand!" did Werbel / that same minstrel moan; "What, Sir Hagen of Tronje, / have I to thee done? I bore a faithful message / unto thy master's land. How may I more make music / thus by thee bereft of hand?"
Little in sooth recked Hagen, / fiddled he nevermore. Then in the hall all wrathful / wrought he havoc sore Upon the thanes of Etzel / whereof he many slew; Ere they might find exit, / to death then smote he not a few.
Volker the full valiant / up sprang from board also: In his hand full clearly / rang out his fiddle-bow, For mightily did fiddle / Gunther's minstrel thane. What host of foes he made him / because of Hunnish warriors slain!
Eke sprang from the table / the lofty monarchs three, Who glad had stilled the combat / ere greater scathe might be. Yet all their art availed not / their anger to assuage, When Volker and Hagen / so mightily began to rage.
When the lord of Rhineland / saw how his toil was vain, Gaping wounds full many / himself did smite amain Through rings of shining mail-coats / there upon the foe. He was a valiant hero, / as he full gallantly did show.
Strode eke into the combat / Gernot a doughty thane; By whom of Hunnish warriors / full many a one was slain With a sword sharp-edged / he had of Ruediger; Oft sent to dire ruin / by him the knights of Etzel were.
The youthful son of Ute / eke to the combat sprang, And merrily his broadsword / upon the helmets rang Of many a Hunnish warrior / there in Etzel's land; Feasts of mickle wonder / wrought Giselher with dauntless hand.
How bold soe'er was any, / of kings and warrior band, Saw ye yet the foremost / Giselher to stand There against the foemen, / a knight of valor good; Wounded deep full many / made he to fall in oozing blood.
Eke full well defend them / did Etzel's warriors too. There might ye see the strangers / their gory way to hew With swords all brightly gleaming / adown that royal hall; Heard ye there on all sides / loudly ring the battle-call.
Join friends within beleaguered / would they without full fain, Yet might they at the portal / but little vantage gain. Eke they within had gladly / gained the outer air; Nor up nor down did Dankwart / suffer one to pass the stair.
There before the portal / surged a mighty throng, And with a mickle clangor / on helm the broadsword rung. Thus on the valiant Dankwart / his foes did sorely press, And soon his trusty brother / was anxious grown o'er his distress.
Full loudly cried then Hagen / unto Volker: "Trusty fere, behold'st thou / my brother standing there, Where on him Hunnish warriors / their mighty blows do rain? Good friend, save thou my brother / ere we do lose the valiant thane."
"That will I do full surely," / thereat the minstrel spake. Adown the hall he fiddling / gan his way to make; In his hand full often / a trusty sword rang out, While grateful knights of Rhineland / acclaimed him with a mickle shout.
Soon did the valiant Volker / Dankwart thus address: "Hard this day upon thee / hath weighed the battle's stress. That I should come to help thee / thy brother gave command; Keep thou without the portal, / I inward guarding here will stand."
Dankwart, thane right valiant, / stood without the door And guarded so the stairway / that none might pass before. There heard ye broadswords ringing, / swung by warrior's hand, While inward in like manner / wrought Volker of Burgundian land.
There the valiant Fiddler / above the press did call: "Securely now, friend Hagen, / closed is the hall. Yea, so firmly bolted / is King Etzel's door By hands of two good warriors, / as thousand bars were set before,"
When Hagen thus of Tronje / the door did guarded find, The warrior far renowned / swung his shield behind; He first for harm received / revenge began to take, Whereat all hope of living / did soon his enemies forsake.
When of Bern Sir Dietrich / rightly did perceive How the doughty Hagen / did many a helmet cleave, The king of Amelungen / upon a bench leaped up; Quoth he: "Here poureth Hagen / for us exceeding bitter cup."
Great fear fell eke on Etzel, / as well might be the case, (What trusty followers snatched they / to death before his face!) For well nigh did his enemies / on him destruction bring. There sat he all confounded. / What booted him to be a king?
Cried then aloud to Dietrich / Kriemhild, the high lady: "Now help me, knight so noble, / that hence with life I flee, By princely worth, I pray thee, / thou lord of Amelung's land; If here do reach me Hagen, / straight find I death beneath his hand."
"How may my help avail thee, / noble queen and high?" Answered her Sir Dietrich, / "Fear for myself have I. Too sorely is enraged / each knight in Gunther's band, To no one at this season / may I lend assisting hand."
"But nay, but nay, Sir Dietrich, / full noble knight and keen, What maketh thy bright chivalry, / let it this day be seen, And bring me hence to safety, / else am I death's sure prey." Good cause was that on Kriemhild's / bosom fear so heavy lay.
"So will I here endeavor / to help thee as I may; Yet shalt thou well believe me, / hath passed full many a day Since saw I goodly warriors / of so bitter mood. 'Neath swords behold I flowing / through helmets plenteously the blood."
Lustily then cried he, / the warrior nobly born, That his voice rang loudly / like blast from bison's horn, That all around the palace / gave back the lusty sound; Unto the might of Dietrich / never limit yet was found.
When did hear King Gunther / how called the doughty man Above the storm of combat, / to hearken he began. Quoth he: "The voice of Dietrich / hath fallen upon mine ear; I ween some of his followers / before our thanes have fallen here.
"High on the board I see him; / he beckons with the hand. Now my good friends and kinsmen / of Burgundian land, Stay ye your hands from conflict, / let us hear and see If done upon the chieftain / aught by my men of scathe there be."
When thus King Gunther / did beg and eke command, With swords in stress of battle / stayed they all the hand. 'Twas token of his power / that straight the strife did pause. Then him of Bern he questioned / what of his outcry were the cause.
He spake: "Full noble Dietrich, / what here on thee is wrought By any of my warriors? / For truly is my thought To make a full atonement / and amends to thee. If here hath wronged thee any, / 'twere cause of mickle grief to me."
Then answered him Sir Dietrich: / "Myself do nothing grieve. Grant me with thy protection / but this hall to leave And quit the dire conflict, / with them that me obey. Then surely will I ever / seek thy favor to repay."
"How plead'st thou thus so early?" / Wolfhart was heard; "The Fiddler so securely / the door not yet hath barred, But it so wide we'll open / to pass it through, I trow." "Now hold thy peace," quoth Dietrich, / "wrought but little here hast thou."
Then spake the royal Gunther: / "That grant I thee to do, Forth from the hall lead many / or lead with thee few, An if my foes it be not; / here stay they every one. Upon me here in Hunland / hath grievous wrong by them been done."
When heard he Gunther's answer / he took beneath his arm The noble Queen Kriemhild, / who dreaded mickle harm. On the other side too led he / Etzel with him away; Eke went thence with Dietrich / six hundred knights in fair array.
Then outspake the margrave, / the noble Ruediger: "If leave to any others / be granted forth to fare, Of those who glad would serve you, / give us the same to see. Yea, peace that's never broken / 'twixt friends 'tis meet should ever be."
Thereto gave answer Giselher / of the land of Burgundy: "Peace and unbroken friendship / wish we e'er with thee, With thee and all thy kinsmen, / as true thou ever art. We grant thee all untroubled / with thy friends from hence to part."
When thus Sir Ruediger / from the hall did pass, A train of knights five hundred / or more with him there was, Of them of Bechelaren, / kinsmen and warriors true, Whose parting gave King Gunther / anon full mickle cause to rue.
When did a Hunnish warrior / Etzel's passing see 'Neath the arm of Dietrich, / to profit him thought he. Smote him yet the Fiddler / such a mighty blow, That 'fore the feet of Etzel / sheer on the floor his head fell low.
When the country's monarch / had gained the outer air, Turned he looking backward / and gazed on Volker. "Alack such guests to harbor! / Ah me discomfited! That all the knights that serve me / shall before their might lie dead.
"Alack their coming hither!" / spake the king once more. "Within, a warrior fighteth / like to wild forest boar; Hight the same is Volker, / and a minstrel is also; To pass the demon scatheless / I to fortune's favor owe.
"Evil sound his melodies, / his strokes of bow are red, Yea, beneath his music / full many a knight lies dead. I know not what against us / hath stirred that player's ire, For guests ne'er had I any / whereby to suffer woe so dire."
None other would they suffer / to pass the door than those. Then 'neath the hall's high roof-tree / a mighty din arose. For evil wrought upon them / those guests sore vengeance take. Volker the doughty Fiddler, / what shining helmets there he brake!
Gunther, lofty monarch, / thither turned his ear. "Hear'st thou the music, Hagen, / that yonder Volker Doth fiddle for the Hun-men, / when near the door they go? The stroke is red of color, / where he doth draw the fiddle-bow."
"Mickle doth it rue me," / Hagen spake again, "That in the hall far severed / I am from that bold thane. I was his boon companion / and he sworn friend to me: Come we hence ever scatheless, / trusty feres we yet shall be.
"Behold now, lofty sire, / the faith of Volker bold! With will he seeks to win him / thy silver and thy gold. With fiddle-bow he cleaveth / e'en the steel so hard, Bright-gleaming crests of helmets / are scattered by his mighty sword.
"Never saw I fiddler / so dauntless heart display, As the doughty Volker / here hath done this day. Through shield and shining helmet / his melodies ring clear; Give him to ride good charger / and eke full stately raiment wear."
Of all the Hunnish kindred / that in the hall had been, None now of all their number / therein to fight was seen. Hushed was the din of battle / and strife no more was made: From out their hands aweary / their swords the dauntless warriors laid.
How they cast out the Dead
From toil of battle weary / rested the warriors all. Volker and Hagen / passed out before the hall, And on their shields did lean them, / those knights whom naught could daunt. Then with full merry converse / gan the twain their foes to taunt.
Spake meanwhile of Burgundy / Giselher the thane: "Not yet, good friends, may ye / think to rest again. Forth from the hall the corses / shall ye rather bear. Again we'll be assailed, / that would I now in sooth declare.
"Beneath our feet no longer / here the dead must lie. But ere in storm of battle / at hand of Huns to die, We'll deal such wounds around us / as 'tis my joy to see. Thereon," spake Giselher, / "my heart is fixed right steadfastly."
"I joy in such a master," / Hagen spake again: "Such counsel well befitteth / alone so valiant thane As my youthful master / hath shown himself this day. Therefor, O men of Burgundy, / every one rejoice ye may."
Then followed they his counsel / and from the hall they bore Seven thousand bodies / and cast them from the door. Adown the mounting stairway / all together fell, Whereat a sound of wailing / did from mourning kinsmen swell.
Many a man among them / so slight wound did bear That he were yet recovered / had he but gentle care, Who yet falling headlong / now surely must be dead. Thereat did grieve their kinsmen / as verily was sorest need.
Then outspake the Fiddler, / Volker a hero bold: "Now do I find how truly / hath to me been told That cowards are the Hun-men / who do like women weep. Rather should be their effort / their wounded kin alive to keep."
These words deemed a margrave / spoken in kindly mood. He saw one of his kinsmen / weltering in his blood. In his arms he clasped him / and thought him thence to bear, But as he bent above him / pierced him the valiant minstrel's spear.
When that beheld the others / all in haste they fled, Crying each one curses / on that same minstrel's head. From the ground then snatched he / a spear with point full keen, That 'gainst him up the stairway / by a Hun had hurled been.
Across the court he flung it / with his arm of might Far above the people. / Then did each Hunnish knight Seek him safer quarters / more distant from the hall. To see his mighty prowess / did fill with fear his foemen all.
As knights full many thousand / far 'fore the palace stood, Volker and Hagen / gan speak in wanton mood "Unto King Etzel, / nor did they aught withhold; Wherefrom anon did sorrow / o'ertake those doughty warriors bold.
"'Twould well beseem," quoth Hagen, / "the people's lofty lord Foremost in storm of battle / to swing the cutting sword, As do my royal masters / each fair example show. Where hew they through the helmets / their swords do make the blood to flow."
To hear such words brave Etzel / snatched in haste his shield. "Now well beware of rashness," / cried Lady Kriemhild, "And offer to thy warriors / gold heaped on shield full high: If yonder Hagen reach thee, / straightway shalt thou surely die."
So high was the king's mettle / that he would not give o'er, Which case is now full seldom / seen in high princes more; They must by shield-strap tugging / him perforce restrain. Grim of mood then Hagen / began him to revile again.