THE STORY OF THE VENGEANCE OF THE VOLSUNGS AND OF THE DEATH OF SINFIOTLI
ND now Sinfiotli had come to his full strength and it
was time to take vengeance on King Siggeir for the
slaying of Volsung and the dread doom he had set for
Volsung’s ten sons. Sigmund and Sinfiotli put helmets
on their heads and took swords in their hands and went
to King Siggeir’s Hall. They hid behind the casks of
ale that were at the entrance
 and they waited for the
men-at-arms to leave the Hall that they might fall upon
King Siggeir and his attendants.
The younger children of King Siggeir were playing in
the Hall and one let fall a ball. It went rolling
behind the casks of ale. And the child peering after
the ball saw two men crouching with swords in their
hands and helmets on their heads.
The child told a servant who told the King. Then
Siggeir arose, and he drew his men-at-arms around him,
and he set them on the men who were hiding behind the
barrels. Sigmund and Sinfiotli sprang up and fought
against the men of King Siggeir, but they were taken
Now they might not be slain there and then, for it was
unlawful to slay captives after sunset But for all
that, King Siggeir would not leave them above ground.
He decreed that they should be put in a pit, and a
mound made over them so that they would be buried
The sentence was carried out. A great flagstone was
put down to divide the pit in two, so that Sigmund and
Sinfiotli might hear each other’s struggle and not be
able to give help to each other. All was done as the
But while his thralls were putting sods over the pit,
one came amongst them, cloaked and hooded, and dropped
something wrapped in straw into the side of the pit
where Sinfiotli lay. And when the sky was shut out from
them with the turf and soil that was put over the pit,
Sinfiotli shouted to Sigmund: "I
 shall not die, for
the queen has thrown down to me meat wrapped in a
parcel of straw."
And a while afterwards Sinfiotli shouted to Sigmund:
"The queen has left a sword in the meat which she flung
down to me. It is a mighty sword. Almost I think it
is Gram, the sword you told me of."
"If it be Gram," Sigmund said, "it is a sword that can
cut through the flagstone. Thrust the blade against
the stone and try."
Sinfiotli thrust the blade against the stone and the
blade went through the stone. Then, one on each side,
they took hold of the sword and they cut the great
stone in two Afterwards, working together, it was easy
to shift the turf and soil. The two came out under the
Before them was the Hall of King Siggeir. They came to
the Hall and they set dry wood before it and they fired
the wood and made the Hall blaze up. And when the Hall
was in a blasé King Siggeir came to the door and
shouted, "Who is it that has fired the house of the
And Sigmund said, "I Sigmund, the son of Volsung, that
you may pay for the treason wrought on the Volsungs."
Seeing Sigmund there with Gram, the great sword, in his
hands, Siggeir went back into his hall. Then Signy was
seen with her white face and her stern eyes, and
Sigmund called to her, "come forth, come forth.
Sigmund calls. Come out of Siggeir’s blazing house and
together we will go back to the Hall of the Branstock"
 But Signy said, "All is finished now. The vengeance
is wrought and I have no more to keep me in life. The
Volsung race lives on in you, my brother, and that is
my joy. Not merrily did I wed King Siggeir and not
merrily did I live with him, but merrily will I die
with him now."
She went within the hall; then the flames burst over it
and all who were within perished Thus the vengeance of
the Volsungs was wrought.
ND Sigurd thought on the deed that Sigmund, his
father, and Sinfiotli, the youth who was his father’s
kinsman, wrought, as he rode the ways of the forest,
and of the things that thereafter befell them.
Sigmund and Sinfiotli left King Siggeir’s land and came
back o the land where was the Hall of the Branstock.
Sigmund became a great King and Sinfiotli was the
Captain of his host.
And the story of Sigmund and Sinfiotli goes on to tell
how Sigmund wed a woman whose name was Borghild, and
how Sinfiotli loved a woman who was loved by Borghild’s
brother. A battle came in which the youths were on
opposite sides, and Sinfiotli killed Borghild’s
brother, and it was in fair combat.
Sinfiotli returned home. To make peace between him and
the Queen Sigmund gave Borghild a great measure of gold
as compensation for the loss of her brother. The Queen
took it and said, "Lo, my brother’s worth is reckoned
at this; let no more
 be said about his slaying." And
she made Sinfiotli welcome to the Hall of the
But although she showed herself friendly to him her
heart was set upon his destruction.
That night there was a feast in the Hall of the
Branstock and Borghild the Queen went to all the guests
with a horn of mead in her hand. She came to Sinfiotli
and she held the horn to him. "Take this from my
hands, O friend of Sigmund," she said.
But Sinfiotli saw what was in her eyes and he said, "I
will not drink from this horn There is venom in the
Then, to end the mockery that the Queen would have made
over Sinfiotli, Sigmund who was standing by took the
horn out of Borghild’s hand. No venom or poison could
injure him. He raised the horn to his lips and drained
the mead at a draught.
The Queen said to Sinfiotli, "Must other men quaff thy
drink for thee?"
Later in the night she came to him again, the horn of
mead in her hand. She offered it to Sinfiotli, but he
looked in her eyes and saw the hatred that was there.
"Venom is in the drink," he said. "I will not take
And again Sigmund took the horn and drank the mead at a
draught. And again the Queen mocked Sinfiotli.
A third time she came to him. Before she offered the
horn she said, "This is the one who fears to take his
drink like a man. What a Volsung heart he has!"
Sinfiotli saw the hatred in her eyes, and her mockery
could not make him take the mead from
 her. As before
Sigmund was standing by. But now he was weary of
raising the horn and he said to Sinfiotli, "Pour the
drink through they beard."
He thought that Sigmund meant that he should pour the
mead through his lips that were bearded and make
trouble no more between him and the Queen. But Sigmund
did not mean that He meant that he should pretend to
drink and let the mead run down on the floor
Sinfiotli, not understanding what his comrade meant,
took the horn from the Queen and raised it to his lips
and drank. And as soon as he drank, the venom that was
in the drink went to his heart, and he fell dead in the
Hall of the Branstock.
Oh, woeful was Sigmund for the death of his kinsman and
his comrade. He would let no one touch his body. He
himself lifted Sinfiotli in his arms and carried him
out of the Hall, and through the wood, and down to the
sea-shore. And when he came to the shore he saw a boat
drawn up with a man therein. Sigmund came near to him
and saw that the man was old and strangely tall. "I
will take they burthen from thee," the man said.
Sigmund left the body of Sinfiotli in the boat,
thinking to take a place beside it. But as soon as the
body was placed in it the boat went from the land
without sail or oars. Sigmund, looking on the old man
who stood at the stern, knew that he was not of mortal
men, but was Odin All-Father, the giver of the sword
 Then Sigmund went back to his Hall. His Queen died,
and in time he wed with Hiordis, who became the mother
of Sigurd. And now Sigurd the Volsung, the son of
Sigmund and Hiordis, rode the ways of the forest, the
sword Gram by his side, and the Golden Helmet of the
Dragon’s Hoard above his golden hair.
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