THE DEATH OF SIGURD
T happened one day that Brynhild, Gunnar's wife, now a
Queen, was with Sigurd's wife, bathing in a river. Not
often they were together. Brynhild was the haughtiest
of women, and often she treated Gudrun with disdain.
Now as they were bathing together, Gudrun, shaking out
her hair, cast some drops upon Brynhild. Brynhild went
from Gudrun. And Sigurd's wife, not knowing that
Brynhild had anger against her, went after her up the
"Why dost though go so far up the river, Brynhild?"
 "So that thou mayst not shake thy hair over me,"
Gudrun stood still while Brynhild went up the river
like a creature who was made to be alone. "Why dost
thou speak so to me, sister?" Gudrun cried.
She remembered that from the first Brynhild had been
haughty with her, often speaking to her with harshness
and bitterness. She did not know what cause Brynhild
had for this.
It was because Brynhild had seen in Sigurd the one who
had ridden through the fire for the first time, he who
had awakened her by breaking the binding of her
breastplate and so drawing out of her flesh the thorn
of the Tree of Sleep. She had given him her love when
she awakened on the world. But he, as she thought, had
forgotten her easily, giving his love tot his other
maiden. Brynhild, with her Valkyrie's pride, was left
with a mighty anger in her heart.
"Why dost thou speak to me, Brynhild?" Gudrun asked.
"It would be ill indeed if drops from thy hair fell on
one who is so much above thee, one who is King Gunnar's
wife," Brynhild answered.
"Thou art married to a King, but not to one more
valorous than my lord," Gudrun said.
"Gunnar is more valorous; why dost thou compare Sigurd
with him?" Brynhild said.
"He slew the Dragon Fafnir, and won for himself
Fafnir's hoard," said Gudrun.
 "Gunnar rode through the ring of fire. Mayhap thou
wilt tell us that Sigurd did the like," said Brynild.
"Yea," said Gudrun, now made angry. "It was Sigurd and
not Gunnar who rose through the ring of fire. He rode
through it in Gunnar's shape, and he took the ring off
they finger—look, it is now on mine."
And Gudrun held out her hand on which was Andvari's
ring. Then Brynhild knew, all at once, that what
Gudrun said was true. It was Sigurd that rode through
the ring of fire the second as well as the first time.
It was he who had struggled with her, taking the ring
off her hand and claiming her for a bride, not for
himself but for another, and out of disdain.
Falsely had she been won. And she, one of Odin's
Valkyries, had been wed to one who was not the bravest
hero in the worse, and she to whom untruth might not
come had been deceived. She was silent now, and all
the pride that was in her turned to hatred of Sigurd.
She went to Gunnar, her husband, and she told him that
she was so deeply shamed that she could never be glad
in his Hall again; that never would he see her drinking
wine, nor embroidering with golden threads, and never
would he hear her speaking words of kindness. And when
she said this to him she rent the web she was weaving,
and she wept aloud so that all in the hall heard her,
and all marveled to hear the proud Queen cry.
Then Sigurd came to her, and he offered in atonement
the whole hoard of Fafnir. And he told her how
 her had come upon him, and he begged
her to forgive him for winning her in falseness. But
she answered him: "Too late thou hast come to me,
Sigurd. Now I have only a great anger in my heart."
When Gunnar came she told him she would forgive him,
and love him as she had not loved him before, if he
would slay Sigurd. But Gunnar would not slay him,
although Brynhild's passion moved him greatly, since
Sigurd was a sworn brother of his.
Then she went to Högni and asked him to slay Sigurd,
telling him that the whole of Fafnir's hoard would
belong to the Nibelungs if Sigurd were slain. But
Högni would not slay him, since Sigurd and he were
There was one who had not sworn brotherhood with
Sigurd. He was Guttorm, Gunnar's and Högni's
half-brother. Brynhild went to Guttorm. He would not
slay Sigurd, but Brynhild found that he was infirm of
will and unsteady of thought With Guttorm, then, she
would work for the slaying of Sigurd. Her mind was
fixed that he and she would no longer be in the world
She made a dish of madness for Guttorm—serpent's
venom and wolf's flesh mixed—and when he had eaten it
Guttorm was crazed. Then did he listen to Brynhild's
words. And she commanded him to go into the chamber
where Sigurd slept and stab him through the body with a
This Guttorm did. But Sigurd, before he gasped out his
life, took Gram, his great sword, and flung it at
Guttorm and cut him in twain.
 And Brynhild, knowing what deed was done, went without
and came to where Grani, Sigurd's proud horse, was
standing. She stayed there with her arms across
Grani's neck, the Valkyrie leaning across the horse
that was born of Odin's horse. And Grani stood
listening for some sound. He heard the cries of Gudrun
over Sigurd, and then his heart burst and he died.
They bore Sigurd out of the Hall and Brynhild went
beside where they placed him. She took a sword and put
it through her own heart. Thus died Brynhild who had
been made a mortal woman for her disobedience to the
will of Odin, and who was won to be a mortal's wife by
They took Sigurd and his horse Grani, and his helmet
and his golden war-gear and they left all on a great
painted ship. They could not but leave Brynhild beside
him, Brynhild with her wondrous hair and her stern and
beautiful face. They left the two together and
launched the ship on the sea. And when the ship was on
the water they fired it, and Brynhild once again lay in
And so Sigurd and Brynhild went together to join Baldur
and Nanna in Hela's habitation
UNNAR and Högni came to dread the evil that was in the
hoard. They took the gleaming and glittering mass and
they brought it to the river along which, ages before,
Hreidmar had his smithy and the Dwarf Andvari his cave.
From a rock in the river they cast the gold and jewels
 water and the hoard of Andvari sank for ever
beneath the waves. Then the River Maidens had
possession again of their treasure But not for long
were they to guard it and to sing over it, for now the
season that was called the Fimbul Winter was coming
over the earth, and Ragnarok, the Twighlight of the
Gods, was coming to the Dwellers in Asgard.
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