| Stories of Siegfried Told to the Children|
|by Mary Macgregor|
|Siegfried is the central character in this legend, skillfully adapted from the Nibelung, an old German poem, full of strange adventures of tiny dwarves and stalwart mortals. In this retelling of the ancient legend, Siegfried wins the accursed Rhineland treasure, takes Kriemhild as bride, and comes to an untimely end, passing the curse of the Rhinegold on to his enemies. Ages 8-10 |
SIEGFRIED SUBDUES BRUNHILD
 The little ship had sailed on now close beneath the castle,
so close indeed that as the King looked up to the window he
could catch glimpses of beautiful maidens passing to and
Sir Siegfried also looked and laughed aloud for glee. It
would be but a little while until Brunhild was won and he
was free to return to his winsome lady Kriemhild.
By this time the maidens in the castle had caught sight of
the ship, and many bright eyes were peering down upon King
Gunther and his three brave comrades.
"Look well at the fair maidens, sire," said Siegfried to the
King. "Among them all show me her whom thou wouldst choose
most gladly as your bride."
"Seest thou the fairest of the band," cried the
 King, "she
who is clad in a white garment? It is she and no other whom
I would wed."
Right merrily then laughed Siegfried. "The maiden," said he
gaily, "is in truth none other than Queen Brunhild herself."
The King and his warriors now moored their vessel and leaped
ashore, Siegfried leading with him the King's charger. For
each knight had brought his steed with him from the fair
land of Burgundy.
More bright than ever beamed the bright eyes of the ladies
at the castle window. So fair, so gallant a knight never had
they seen, thought the damsels as they gazed upon Sir
Siegfried. And all the while King Gunther dreamed their
glances were bent on no other than himself.
Siegfried held the noble steed until King Gunther had
mounted, and this he did that Queen Brunhild might not know
that he was the Prince of the Netherlands, owing service to
no man. Then going back to the ship the hero brought his own
horse to land, mounted, and rode with the King toward the
King and Prince were clad alike. Their
 steeds as well as
their garments were white as snow, their saddles were
bedecked with jewels, and on the harness hung bells, all of
bright red gold. Their shields shone as the sun, their
spears they wore before them, their swords hung by their
Behind them followed Hagen and Dankwart, their armour black
as the plumage of the wild raven, their shields strong and
As they approached the castle the gates were flung wide
open, and the liegemen of the great Queen came out to greet
the strangers with words of welcome. They bid their
hirelings also take the shields and chargers from their
But when a squire demanded that the strangers should also
yield their swords, grim Hagen smiled his grimmest, and
cried, "Nay, our swords will we e'en keep lest we have need
of them." Nor was he too well pleased when Siegfried told
him that the custom in Isenland was that no guest should
enter the castle carrying a weapon. It was but sullenly that
he let his sword be taken away along with his mighty shield.
 After the strangers had been refreshed with wine, her
liegemen sent to the Queen to tell her that strange guests
"Who are the strangers who come
thus unheralded to my land?" haughtily
But no one could tell her who the warriors were, though some
murmured that the tallest and fairest might be the great
It may be that the Queen thought that if the knight were
indeed Siegfried she would revenge herself on him now for
the mischievous pranks he had played the last time he was in
her kingdom. In any case she said, "If the hero is here he
shall enter into contest with me, and he shall pay for his
boldness with his life, for I shall be the victor."
Then with five hundred warriors, each with his sword in
hand, Brunhild came down to the knights from Burgundy.
"Be welcome, Siegfried," she cried, "yet wherefore hast thou
come again to Isenland?"
"I thank thee for thy greeting, lady," said the Prince, "but
thou hast welcomed me before my lord. He, King Gunther,
ruler over the
 fair realms of Burgundy, hath come hither to
wed with thee."
Brunhild was displeased that the mighty hero should not
himself seek to win her as a bride, yet since for all his
prowess he seemed but a vassal of the King, she answered,
"If thy master can vanquish me in the contests to which I
bid him, then I will be his wife, but if I conquer thy
master, his life, and the lives of his followers will be
"What dost thou demand of my master?" asked Hagen.
"He must hurl the spear with me, throw the stone from the
ring, and leap to where it has fallen," said the Queen.
Now while Brunhild was speaking, Siegfried whispered to the
King to fear nothing, but to accept the Queen's challenge.
"I will be near though no one will see me, to aid thee in
the struggle," he whispered.
Gunther had such trust in the Prince that he at once cried
boldly, "Queen Brunhild, I do not fear even to risk my life
that I may win thee for my bride."
Then the bold maiden called for her armour,
 but when Gunther
saw her shield, "three spans thick with gold and iron, which
four chamberlains could hardly bear," his courage began to
While the Queen donned her silken fighting doublet, which
could turn aside the sharpest spear, Siegfried slipped away
unnoticed to the ship, and swiftly flung around him his
Cloak of Darkness. Then unseen by all, he hastened back to
King Gunther's side.
A great javelin was then given to the Queen, and she began
to fight with her suitor, and so hard were her thrusts that
but for Siegfried the King would have lost his life.
"Give me thy shield," whispered the invisible hero in the
King's ear, "and tell no one that I am here." Then as the
maiden hurled her spear with all her force against the
shield which she thought was held by the King, the shock
well-nigh drove both Gunther and his unseen friend to their
The maiden hurled her spear
But in a moment Siegfried's hand had dealt the Queen such a
blow with the handle of his spear (he would not use the
sharp point against a woman) that the maiden cried aloud,
 "King Gunther, thou hast won this fray." For as she could
not see Siegfried because of his Cloak of Darkness, she
could not but believe that it was the King who had
In her wrath the Queen now sped to the ring, where lay a
stone so heavy that it could scarce be lifted by twelve
But Brunhild lifted it with ease, and threw it twelve
arms' length beyond the spot on which she
stood. Then, leaping
after it, she alighted even farther than she had thrown the
Gunther now stood in the ring, and lifted the stone which
had again been placed within it. He lifted it with an
effort, but at once Siegfried's unseen hand grasped it and
threw it with such strength that it dropped even beyond the
spot to which it had been flung by the Queen. Lifting King
Gunther with him Siegfried next jumped far beyond the spot
on which the Queen had alighted. And all the warriors
marvelled to see their Queen thus vanquished by the strange
King. For you must remember that not one of them could see
that it was Siegfried who had done these deeds of prowess.
 Now in the contest, still unseen, Siegfried had taken from
the Queen her ring and her favourite girdle.
With angry gestures Brunhild called to her liegemen to come
and lay their weapons down at King Gunther's feet to do him
homage. Henceforth they must be his thralls and own him as
As soon as the contests were over, Siegfried had slipped
back to the ship and hidden his Cloak of Darkness. Then
boldly he came back to the great hall, and pretending to
know nothing of the games begged to be told who had been the
victor, if indeed they had already taken place.
When he had heard that Queen Brunhild had been vanquished,
the hero laughed, and cried gaily, "Then, noble maiden, thou
must go with us to Rhineland to wed King Gunther."
"A strange way for a vassal to speak," thought the angry
Queen, and she answered with a proud glance at the knight.
"Nay, that will I not do until I have summoned my kinsmen
and my good lieges. For I will myself say farewell to them
ere ever I will go to Rhineland."
 Thus heralds were sent throughout Brunhild's realms, and
soon from morn to eve her kinsmen and her liegemen rode into
the castle, until it seemed as though a mighty army were
"Does the maiden mean to wage war against us," said Hagen
grimly. "I like not the number of her warriors."
Then said Siegfried, "I will leave thee for a little while
and go across the sea, and soon will I return with a
thousand brave warriors, so that no evil may befall us."
So the Prince went down alone to the little ship and set
sail across the sea.
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