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The great knight Siegfried.
From Myths and Legends of all nations
Start of Story
by Logan Marshall
Age Rating 8 Plus.
Once upon a time there lived in the Netherlands, in Xante, a wonderful
castle on the river Rhine, a mighty king and queen. Siegmund and
Sieglinde were their names, and far and wide were they known. Yet
their son, the glorious hero Siegfried, was still more widely
celebrated. Even as a boy he performed so many daring feats that his
bravery was talked of in all German lands.
The two most remarkable of these feats were the slaying of a frightful
monster known as the "Dragon of the Linden-tree" and the capture of
the rich treasure of the Nibelungs. The hoard was an ancient one and
had this wonderful property--that no matter how much was taken from it
the quantity was never less.
All this happened before Siegfried reached the age of manhood. When it
was time for the youth to be knighted, King Siegmund sent invitations
far and wide throughout the country, and a great celebration took
place. Siegfried was solemnly girded with a sword and permitted to
take his place among the warriors of the kingdom. Then there was a
great tournament, a wonderful occasion for Siegfried, who came off
victor in every encounter, although many tried warriors matched their
skill against his. Altogether the festivities lasted seven whole days.
After the guests had departed, Siegfried asked permission of his
parents to travel into Burgundy to seek as bride for himself
Kriemhild, the maiden of whose great beauty and loveliness he had
Gunther, the king of Burgundy, recognizing the young hero, went out
to meet him and politely inquired the cause of his visit. Imagine his
dismay when Siegfried proposed a single combat, in which the victor
might claim the land and allegiance of the vanquished. Neither Gunther
nor any of his knights would accept the challenge; but Gunther and his
brother hastened forward with proffers of unbounded hospitality.
Siegfried lingered a year in Gunther's palace, and though he never
caught a glimpse of the fair maid Kriemhild, she often admired his
strength and manly beauty from behind the palace windows.
One day a herald arrived from King Ludeger of Saxony and King Ludegast
of Denmark, announcing an invasion. Gunther was dismayed; but the
brave Siegfried came to the rescue, saying that if Gunther would give
him only one thousand brave men he would repel the enemy. This was
done and the little army marched into Saxony and routed the twenty
thousand valiant soldiers of the enemy's force. All the men did brave
work, but Siegfried was the bravest of them all.
When the hero returned, a great celebration was held in his honor, and
Kriemhild, Ute and all the ladies of the court were invited to be
present at the tournament. It was there that Siegfried first saw the
fair maiden. Her beauty was more wonderful than he had ever been able
to imagine. What was his delight, then, to learn that he had been
appointed her escort.
On the way to the tournament Kriemhild murmured her thanks for the
good work Siegfried had done for her, and Siegfried vowed that he
would always serve her brothers because of his great love for her.
Soon after the tournament Gunther announced his intention of winning
for his wife, Brunhild, the princess of Issland, who had vowed to
marry no man but the one who could surpass her in jumping, throwing a
stone and casting a spear. Gunther proposed that Siegfried go with
him, promising him, in return for his services, the hand of Kriemhild.
Such an offer was not to be despised, and Siegfried immediately
consented, advising Gunther to take only Hagen and Dankwart with him.
Gunther and the three knights set out in a small vessel. Siegfried
bade his companions represent him as Gunther's vassal only; but
Brunhild, seeing his giant figure and guessing its strength, imagined
that he had come to woo her. She was dismayed, therefore, when she
heard that he had held the stirrup for Gunther to dismount. When he
entered her hall, she advanced to meet him; but he drew aside, saying
that honor was due to his master Gunther.
Brunhild ordered preparations for the evening contest, and Gunther,
Hagen and Dankwart trembled when they saw four men staggering under
the weight of Brunhild's shield and three more staggering under the
weight of her spear. Siegfried, meantime, had donned his magic cloud
cloak and bade Gunther rely upon his aid.
The combat opened. Brunhild poised her spear and flung it with such
force that both heroes staggered; but before she could cry out her
victory Siegfried had caught the spear and flung it back with such
violence that the princess fell and was obliged to acknowledge defeat.
Undaunted, she caught up a huge stone, flung it far into the distance,
and then leaping, alighted beside it. No sooner had she done this than
Siegfried seized the stone, flung it still farther, and lifting
Gunther by his broad girdle bounded through the air with him and
alighted beyond the stone. Then Brunhild knew that she had found her
"Come hither all my kinsmen and followers," she said, "and acknowledge
my superior. I am no longer your mistress. Gunther is your lord."
The wedding was fitly celebrated and then Gunther and his bride were
escorted back to Issland by a thousand Nibelung warriors whom
Siegfried had gathered for the purpose. A great banquet was given upon
their return, at which the impatient Siegfried ventured to remind
Gunther of his promise. Brunhild protested that Gunther should not
give his only sister to a menial, but Gunther gave his consent and the
marriage took place immediately. The two bridal couples then sat side
by side. Kriemhild's face was very happy; Brunhild's was dark and
You see, Brunhild was not pleased with the husband she had gained and
preferred Siegfried. Alone with her husband the first night she bound
him with her girdle and suspended him from a corner of her apartment.
There she let him hang till morning. Released, Gunther sought out
Siegfried and told him of the disgraceful affair.