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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.
The following evening Siegfried again donned his cloud cloak and
entered the apartments of Gunther and Brunhild. As he entered he blew
out the lights, caught Brunhild's hands and wrestled with her until
she pleaded for mercy.
"Great king, forbear," she said. "I will henceforth be thy dutiful
wife. I will do nothing to anger thee. Thou art my lord and master."
Having accomplished his purpose, Siegfried left the room, but first he
took Brunhild's girdle and her ring. These he carried with him when
after the festivities he and Kriemhild returned to Xante on the Rhine.
Siegmund and Sieglinde abdicated in favor of their son, and for ten
years Siegfried and Kriemhild reigned happily. Then they were invited
to pay a visit to Gunther and Brunhild. They accepted, leaving their
little son Gunther in the care of the Nibelungs.
Brunhild received Kriemhild graciously, but at heart she was jealous
and wanted Kriemhild to acknowledge her as superior. One day they had
a hot dispute, Kriemhild declaring that her husband was without peer
in the world, and Brunhild retorting that since he was Gunther's
vassal he must be his inferior. Kriemhild made an angry avowal that
she would publicly assert her rank.
Both queens parted in a rage and proceeded to attire themselves in the
most gorgeous costumes they possessed. Accompanied by their
ladies-in-waiting they met at the church door. Brunhild bade Kriemhild
stand aside while she entered, and Kriemhild would not. A storm of
words followed. Finally Kriemhild insulted the other queen by
declaring that Brunhild was not a faithful wife.
"You loved Siegfried better than Gunther," she declared. "Here are
your girdle and ring which my husband gave to me." So saying, she
displayed the girdle and ring which Siegfried had unwisely given her
when he confided to her the story of Gunther's wooing.
Brunhild summoned Gunther to defend her, and he sent for Siegfried.
The latter publicly swore that his wife had not told the truth and
that Brunhild had never loved him or he her.
"This quarrel is disgraceful," he said. "I will teach my wife better
manners for the future." Gunther promised to do likewise.
The guests departed, but Brunhild still smarted from the insult and
longed for revenge. Hagen, finding her in tears, undertook to avenge
her. He continually reminded Gunther of the insult his wife had
received. The king at first paid no attention to the insinuations, but
at last he consented to an assault on Siegfried.
He asked the great hero to help him in a war which he pretended his
old enemy Ludeger was about to bring upon him. Siegfried consented,
and Kriemhild, because she loved her husband very deeply, was much
troubled. In her distress she confided to Hagen that Siegfried was
invulnerable except in one spot, between the shoulder blades, where a
lime leaf had rested and the dragon's blood had not touched him.
"Never fear," said Hagen, "I myself will help to protect him. You sew
a tiny cross on Siegfried's doublet, just over the vulnerable spot,
that I may be the better able to shield him."
Kriemhild promised to obey his instructions, and Hagen departed, well
pleased, to carry the news to Gunther.
At last the day came for Siegfried to leave his queen. He talked to
her and comforted her and kissed her rosy lips.
"Dear heart," he said, "why all these tears? I shall not be gone
But she was thinking of what she had told Hagen, and wept and wept and
would not be comforted.
When Siegfried joined Gunther's party he was surprised to learn that
the rebellion had been quelled and that he was invited to join in a
hunt instead of a fray.
So he joined the hunting party. Now Siegfried was as great a hunter as
he was a warrior, and while the noonday meal was being prepared he
scoured the forest, slew several wild boars, caught a bear alive and
in a spirit of mischief turned him loose among the guests. Then, tired
and thirsty, he sat down, calling for a drink.
Not a bit of wine was at hand; it had all been carried to another part
of the forest. Hagen pointed out a spring near by and Siegfried
proposed a race, offering to run in full armor while the others ran
without armor or weapons. In spite of the handicap, Siegfried reached
the spring first.
Always polite, Siegfried bade his host, Gunther, drink first, while he
himself disarmed. Siegfried then stooped over the spring to drink, and
as he stooped, Hagen, gliding behind him, drove his spear into his
body at the exact spot where Kriemhild had embroidered the fatal mark.
Siegfried struggled to avenge himself, but found nothing but his
shield within reach. This he flung with such force at his murderer
that it knocked him down. Exhausted by the effort, the hero fell back
upon the grass, cursing the treachery of Gunther and Hagen.
Curses soon gave way to thoughts of Kriemhild, however, and overcoming
his anger he recommended her to the care of her brother Gunther. Then
the great hero died.
The hunting party agreed to carry the body back to Worms and say that
they had found it in the forest. But Hagen, bolder than the rest,
ordered the bearers to deposit the corpse at Kriemhild's door, where
she would see it when she went out for early mass the next morning. As
he expected, Kriemhild discovered her dead lord and fell senseless
upon him. Recovering, she cried out that he had been murdered: no
foeman in a fair fight could have killed the glorious knight.
A great funeral took place and Siegfried's body was laid in state in
the cathedral at Worms. Thither many came to view it and to express
their sympathy for the widow Kriemhild. The latter, suspecting
treachery, refused to listen to Gunther until he promised that all of
those present at the hunt should touch the body.
"Blood will flow afresh at the murderer's touch," he said.
One by one the hunters advanced, and when Hagen touched the great
warrior's form, lo, the blood flowed again from his wounds. At this
the Nibelung warriors wanted to avenge the dead, but Kriemhild would
not permit them to interrupt the funeral. So the ceremonies were
concluded and Siegfried's body was laid to rest.