| 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 GOES TO THE CAVE
 The ship in which Siegfried set sail drifted on before the
wind, while those in Queen Brunhild's castle marvelled, for
no one was to be seen on board. This was because the hero
had again donned his Cloak of Darkness.
On and on sailed the little ship until at length it drew
near to the land of the Nibelungs. Then Siegfried left his
vessel and again climbed the mountain-side, where long
before he had cut off the heads of the little Nibelung
He reached the cave into which he had thrust the treasure,
and knocked loudly at the door. The cave was the entrance to
Nibelheim the dark, little town beneath the glad, green
Siegfried might have entered the cave, but he knocked that
he might see if his treasure were well guarded.
 Then the porter, who was a great giant, when he heard the
knock buckled on his armour and opened the door. Seeing, as
he thought in his haste, a strange knight standing before
him he fell upon him with a bar of iron. So strong was the
giant that it was with difficulty that the Prince overcame
him and bound him hand and foot.
Alberich meanwhile had heard the mighty blows, which indeed
had shaken Nibelheim to its foundations.
Now the dwarf had sworn fealty to Siegfried, and when he, as
the giant had done, mistook the Prince for a stranger, he
seized a heavy whip with a gold handle and rushed upon him,
smiting his shield with the knotted whip until it fell to
Too pleased that his treasures were so well defended to be
angry, Siegfried now seized the little dwarf by his beard,
and pulled it so long and so hard that Alberich was forced
to cry for mercy. Then Siegfried bound him hand and foot as
he had done the giant.
Alberich, poor little dwarf, gnashed his teeth with rage.
Who would guard the treasure
 now, and who would warn his
master that a strong man had found his way to Nibelheim?
But in the midst of his fears he heard the stranger's merry
laugh. Nay, it was no stranger, none but the hero Prince
could laugh thus merrily.
"I am Siegfried your master," then said the Prince. "I did
but test thy faithfulness, Alberich," and laughing still,
the hero undid the cords with which he had bound the giant
and the dwarf.
"Call me here quickly the Nibelung warriors," cried
Siegfried, "for I have need of them." And soon thirty
thousand warriors stood before him in shining armour.
Choosing one thousand of the strongest and biggest, the
Prince marched with them down to the sea-shore. There they
embarked in ships and sailed away to Isenland.
Now it chanced that Queen Brunhild was walking on the
terrace of her sea-guarded castle with King Gunther when she
saw a number of sails approaching.
"Whose can these ships be?" she cried in quick alarm.
 "These are my warriors who have followed me from
Burgundy," answered the King, for
thus had Siegfried bidden him speak.
"We will go to welcome the fleet," said Brunhild, and
together they met the brave Nibelung army and lodged them in
"Now will I give of my silver and my gold to my liegemen and
to Gunther's warriors," said Queen Brunhild, and she held
out the keys of her treasury to Dankwart that he might do
her will. But so lavishly did the knight bestow her gold and
her costly gems and her rich raiment upon the warriors that
the Queen grew angry.
"Nought shall I have left to take with me to Rhineland," she
cried aloud in her vexation.
"In Burgundy," answered Hagen, "there is gold enough and to
spare. Thou wilt not need the treasures of Isenland."
But these words did not content the Queen. She would
certainly take at least twenty coffers of gold as well as
jewels and silks with her to King Gunther's land.
At length, leaving Isenland to the care of her
Queen Brunhild, with twenty hundred of her own warriors as a
body-guard, with eighty-six dames and one hundred maidens,
set out for the royal city of Worms.
For nine days the great company journeyed homeward, and then
King Gunther entreated Siegfried to be his herald to Worms.
"Beg Queen Uté and the Princess Kriemhild," said the
King, "beg them to ride forth to meet my bride and to
prepare to hold high festival in honour of the wedding
Thus Siegfried with four-and-twenty knights sailed on more
swiftly than the other ships, and landing at the mouth of
the river Rhine, rode hastily toward the royal city.
The Queen and her daughter, clad in their robes of state,
received the hero, and his heart was glad, for once again he
stood in the presence of his dear lady, Kriemhild.
"Be welcome, my Lord Siegfried," she cried, "thou worthy
knight, be welcome. But where is my brother? Has he been
vanquished by the warrior Queen? Oh, woe is me if he is
lost, woe is me that ever I was born," and the tears rolled
down the maiden's cheeks.
 "Nay, now," said the Prince, "thy brother is well and of
good cheer. I have come, a herald of glad tidings. For even
now the King is on his way to Worms, bringing with him his
Then the Princess dried her tears, and graciously did she
bid the hero to sit by her side.
"I would I might give thee a reward for thy services," said
the gentle maiden, "but too rich art thou to receive my
"A gift from thy hands would gladden my heart," said the
Blithely then did Kriemhild send for four-and-twenty
buckles, all inlaid with precious stones, and these did she
give to Siegfried.
Siegfried bent low before the lady Kriemhild, for well did
he love the gracious giver, yet would he not keep for
himself her gifts, but gave them, in his courtesy, to her
Siegfried bent low before the lady Kriemhild
Then the Prince told Queen Uté that the King begged
her and the Princess to ride forth from Worms to greet his
bride, and to prepare to hold high festival in the royal
 "It shall be done even as the King desires," said the Queen,
while Kriemhild sat silent, smiling with gladness, because
her knight Sir Siegfried had come home.
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