N Midgard, in a northern Kingdom, a King reigned whose
name was Alv; he was wise and good, and he had in his
house a foster-son whose name was Sigurd.
Sigurd was fearless and strong; so fearless and so
strong was he that he once captured a bear of the
forest and drove him to the King's Hall. His mother's
name was Hiordis. Once, before Sigurd was born, Alv
and his father who was King before him went on an
expedition across the sea and came into another country
While they were yet afar off they heard the din of a
great battle. They came to the
battle-  field, but they
found no living warriors on it, only heaps of slain
One warrior they marked: he was white-bearded and old
and yet seemed the noblest-looking man Alv or his
father had ever looked on. His arms showed that he was
a King amongst one of the bands of warriors.
They went through the forest searching for survivors of
the battle. And, hidden in a dell in the forest, they
came upon two women. One was tall with blue,
unflinching eyes and ruddy hair, but wearing the garb
of a serving-maid. The other wore the rich dress of a
Queen, but she was of low stature and her manner was
covert and shrinking.
When Alv and his father drew near, the one who had on
her the raiment of a Queen said, "Help us, lords, and
protect us, and we will show you where a treasure is
hidden. A great battle has been fought between the men
of King Lygni and the men of King Sigmund, and the mend
of King Lygni have won the victory and have gone from
the field. But King Sigmund is slain, and we who are
of his household hid his treasure and we can show it to
"The noble warrior, white-haired and white-bearded, who
lies yonder—is he King Sigmund?"
The woman answered, "Yes, lord, and I am his Queen."
"We have heard of King Sigmund," said Alv's father.
"His fame and the fame of his race, the Volsungs, is
over the wide world."
Alv said no word to either of the women, but his eyes
 on the one who had on the garb of a
serving-maid. She was on her knees, wrapping in a
best's skin two pieces of a broken sword.
"You will surely protect us, good lords," said she who
had on the queenly dress.
"Yea, wife of King Sigmund, we will protect you and
your serving-maid," said Alv's father, the old King.
Then the women took he warriors to a wild place on the
seashore and they showed them where King Sigmund's
treasure was hidden amongst the rocks: cups of gold
and mighty arm rings and jeweled collars. Prince Alv
and his father put the treasure on the ship and brought
the two women board. Then they sailed from that land.
That was before Sigurd, the foster-son of King Alv, was
Now the mother of Alv was wise and little of what she
saw escaped her noting. She was that of the two women
that her son and her husband had brought into their
kingdom, the one who wore the dress of the serving-maid
had unflinching eyes and a high beauty, while the one
who wore the queenly dress was shrinking and unstately.
One night when all the women of the household were
sitting round her, spinning wool by the light of
torches in the hall, the Queen-mother said to the one
who wore the queenly garb:
"Thou art good at rising in the morning. How dost thou
know in the dark hours when it wears to dawn?"
 The one clad in the queenly garb said, "When I was
young I used to rise to milk the cows, and I waken ever
since at the same hour."
The Queen-mother said to herself, "It is a strange
country in which the royal maids rise to milk the
Then she said to the one who wore the clothes of the
"How dost thou know in the dark hours when the dawn is
"My father, she said, 'gave me the ring of gold that I
wear, and always before it is time to rise I feel it
grow cold on my finger."
"It is a strange country, truly," said the Queen-mother
to herself, "in which the serving-maids wear rings of
When all the others had left she spoke to the two women
who had been brought into her country. To the one who
wore the clothes of a serving-maid she said:
"Thou art the Queen."
Then the one who wore the queenly clothes said, "Thou
art right, lady. She is the queen, and I cannot any
longer pretend to be other than I am."
Then the other woman spoke. Said she: "I am the Queen
as thou has said—the Queen of King Sigmund who was
slain. Because a King sought for me I changed clothes
with my serving-maid, my wish being to baffle those who
might be sent to carry me away.
 "Know that I am Hiordis, a King's daughter. Many men
came to my father to ask for me in marriage, and of
those that came there were two whom I heard much of:
one was King Lygni and the other was King Sigmund of
the race of the Volsungs The King, my father, told me
it was for me to choose between these two. Now King
Sigmund was old, but he was the most famous warrior in
the whole world, and I chose him rather than King
"We were wed. But King Lygni did not lose desire of
me, and in a while he came against King Sigmund's
kingdom with a great army of men. We hid our treasure
by the sea-shore, and I and my maid watched the battle
from the borders of the forest. With the help of Gram,
his wondrous sword, and his own great warrior strength,
Sigmund was able to harry the great force that came
against him. But suddenly eh was stricken down. Then
was the battle lost. Only King Lyngi's men survived
it, and they scattered to search for me and the
treasure of the King.
"I came to where my lord lay on the field of battle,
and he raised himself on his shield when I came, and he
told me that death was very near him. A stranger had
entered the battle at the time when it seemed that the
men of King Lygni must draw away. With the spear that
he held in his hand he struck at Sigmund's sword, and
Gram, the wondrous sword, was broken in two pieces.
Then did King Sigmund get his death wound. 'It must be
I shall die,' he said, 'for the spear against
 which my
word broke was Gungnir, Odin's spear. Only that spear
could have shattered the sword that Odin gave my
fathers Now must I go to Valhalla, Odin's Hall of
"I weep,' I said, 'because I have no son who might call
himself of the great race of the Volsungs.'
" 'For that you need not weep,' said Sigmund, 'a son
will be born to you, my son and yours, and you shall
name him Sigurd. Take now the broken pieces of my
wondrous sword and give them to my son when he shall be
of warrior age.'
"Then did Sigmund turn his face to the ground and the
death struggle came on him. Odin's Valkyrie took his
spirit from the battlefield. And I lifted up the
broken pieces of the sword, and with my serving-maid I
went and hid in a deep dell in the forest. Then your
husband and your son found us and they brought us to
your kingdom where we have been kindly entreated, O
Such was the history that Hiordis, the wife in King
Sigmund, told to the mother Prince Alv.
Soon afterwards the child was born to her that was
Sigmund's son. Sigurd she named him. And after Sigurd
was born the old King died and Prince Alv became King
in his stead. He married Hiordis, she of the ruddy
hair, the unflinching ways, and the high beauty, and he
brought up her son Sigurd in his house as his
Sigurd, the son of Sigmund, before he came to warrior's
age, was known for his strength and his swiftness and
fear-  lessness that shone round him like a glow.
"Mighty was the race he sprang from, the Volsung race,"
men said, "but Sigurd will be as mighty as any that
have gone before him" He built himself a hut in the
forest that he might hunt wild beasts and live near to
one who was to train him in many crafts.
This one was Regin, a maker of swords and a cunning man
besides. It was said of Regin that he was an Enchanter
and that the had been in the world for longer than the
generations of men. No one remembered, no one's
father remembered, when Regin had come into that
country. He taught Sigunrd that art of working metals
and he taught him, too, the lore of other days. But
ever as he taught him he looked at Sigurd strangely,
not as a man looks at his fellow, but as a lynx looks
at a stronger beast.
One day Regin said to young Sigurd, "King Alv has thy
father's treasure, men say, and yet he treats thee as
it thou wert thrall-born."
Now Sigurd knew that Regin said this that he might
anger him and thereafter use him to his own ends. He
said, "King Alv is a wise and a good King, and he would
let me have riches if I had need of them."
"Thou dost go about a as a foot-boy, and not as a
"Any day that it likes me I might have a horse to
ride," Sigurd said
"So thou dost say," said Regin, and he turned from
Sigurd and went to blow the fire of his smithy.
Sigurd was made angry and he threw down the irons on
 he was working and he ran to the horse-pastures
by the great River. A herd of horses was there, grey
and black and roan and chestnut, the best of the horses
that King Alv possessed. As he came near to where the
herd graded he saw a stranger near, an ancient but
robust man, wearing a strange cloak of blue and leaning
on a staff to watch the horses. Sigurd, though young,
had seen Kings in their halls, but this man had a
bearing that was more lofty than any King's he had ever
"Thou art going to choose a horse for thyself," said
the stranger to Sigurd.
"Yea, father," Sigurd said.
"Drive the herd first into the River," the stranger
Sigurd drove the horses into the wide River. Some were
swept down by the current, others struggled back and
clambered up the bank of the pastures. But one swam
across the river, and throwing up his head neighed as
for a victory. Sigurd marked him; a grey horse he was,
young and proud, with a great flowing mane. He went
through the water and caught this horse, mounted him,
and brought him back across the River
"Thou has done well," said the stranger. "Grani, whom
thou has got, is of the breed of the Sleipner, the
horse of Odin."
"And I am of the race of the sons of Odin," cried
Sigurd, his eyes wide and shining with the very light
of the sun. "I am of the race of the sons of Odin, for
my father was Sigmund, and his father was Volsung, and
his father was Rerir, and his father was Sigi, who was
the son of Odin."
 The stranger, leaning on his staff, looked on the youth
steadily. Only one of his eyes was to be seen, but
that eye, Sigurd thought, might see through a stone.
"All thou hast named," the stranger said, "were as
swords of Odin to send men to Valhalla, Odin's Hall of
Heroes. And of all that thou has named there were none
but were chosen by Odin's Valkyries for battles in
Cried Sigurd, "Too much of what is brave and noble in
the world is taken by Odin for his battles in Asgard."
The stranger leaned on his staff and his head was
bowed. "What wouldst thou?" he said, and it did not
seem to Sigurd that he spoke to him. "What wouldst
thou? The leaves wither and fall off Ygdrassil, and
the day of Ragnarok comes." Then he raised his head
and spoke to Sigurd, "The time is near," he said,
"when thou mayst posses thyself of the pieces of thy
Then the man in the strange cloak of blue went climbing
up the hill and Sigurd watched him pass away from his
sight. He had held back Grani, his proud horse, but
now he turned him and let him gallop along the River in
a race that was as swift as the wind.
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