| 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 ISENLAND
 Whitsuntide had come and gone when tidings from beyond the
Rhine reached the court at Worms.
No dread tidings were these, but glad and good to hear, of a
matchless Queen named Brunhild who dwelt in Isenland. King
Gunther listened with right good-will to the tales of this
warlike maiden, for if she were beautiful she was also
strong as any warrior. Wayward, too, she was, yet Gunther
would fain have her as his queen to sit beside him on his
One day the King sent for Siegfried to tell him that he
would fain journey to Isenland to wed Queen Brunhild.
Now Siegfried, as you know, had been in Isenland and knew
some of the customs of this wayward Queen. So he answered
the King right gravely that it would be a dangerous
across the sea to Isenland, nor would he win the Queen
unless he were able to vanquish her great strength.
He told the King how Brunhild would challenge him to three
contests or games, as she would call them. And if she were
the victor, as indeed she had been over many a royal suitor,
then his life would be forfeited.
At her own desire kings and princes had hurled the spear at
the stalwart Queen, and it had but glanced harmless off her
shield, while she would pierce the armour of these valiant
knights with her first thrust. This was one of the Queen's
Then the knights would hasten to the ring and throw the
stone from them as far as might be, yet ever Queen Brunhild
threw it farther. For this was another game of the warrior
The third game was to leap beyond the stone which they had
thrown, but ever to their dismay the knights saw this
marvellous maiden far outleap them all.
These valorous knights, thus beaten in the three contests,
had been beheaded, and
there-  fore it was that Siegfried
spoke so gravely to King Gunther.
But Gunther, so he said, was willing to risk his life to win
so brave a bride.
Now Hagen had drawn near to the King, and as he listened to
Siegfried's words, the grim warrior said, "Sire, since the
Prince knows the customs of Isenland, let him go with thee
on thy journey, to share thy dangers, and to aid thee in the
presence of this warlike Queen."
And Hagen, for he hated the hero, hoped that he might never
return alive from Isenland.
But the King was pleased with his counsellor's words. "Sir
Siegfried," he said, "wilt thou help me to win the matchless
maiden Brunhild for my queen?"
"That right gladly will I do," answered the Prince, "if thou
wilt promise to give to me thy sister Kriemhild as my bride,
should I bring thee back safe from Isenland, the bold Queen
at thy side."
Then the King promised that on the same day that he wedded
Brunhild, his sister should wed Prince Siegfried, and with
this promise the hero was well content.
 "Thirty thousand warriors will I summon to go with us to
Isenland," cried King Gunther gaily.
"Nay," said the Prince, "thy warriors would but be the
victims of this haughty Queen. As plain knight-errants will
we go, taking with us none, save Hagen the keen-eyed and his
Then King Gunther, his face aglow with pleasure, went with
Sir Siegfried to his sister's bower, and begged her to
provide rich garments in which he and his knights might
appear before the beauteous Queen Brunhild.
"Thou shalt not beg this service from me," cried the gentle
Princess, "rather shalt thou command that which thou dost
wish. See, here have I silk in plenty. Send thou the gems
from off thy bucklers, and I and my maidens will work them
with gold embroideries into the silk."
Thus the sweet maiden dismissed her brother, and sending for
her thirty maidens who were skilled in needlework she bade
them sew their daintiest stitches, for here were robes to be
made for the King and Sir Siegfried ere
 they went to bring
Queen Brunhild into Rhineland.
For seven weeks Kriemhild and her maidens were busy in their
bower. Silk white as new-fallen snow, silk green as the
leaves in spring did they shape into garments worthy to be
worn by the King and Sir Siegfried, and amid the gold
embroideries glittered many a radiant gem.
Meanwhile down by the banks of the Rhine a vessel was being
built to carry the King across the sea to Isenland.
When all was ready the King and Sir Siegfried went to the
bower of the Princess. They would put on the silken robes
and the beautiful cloaks Kriemhild and her maidens had sewed
to see that they were neither too long nor too
short. But indeed the skilful hands of the Princess had not
erred. No more graceful or more beautiful garments had ever
before been seen by the King or the Prince.
"Sir Siegfried," said the gentle Kriemhild, "care for my
royal brother lest danger befall him in the bold Queen's
country. Bring him home both safe and sound I beseech thee."
 The hero bowed his head and promised to shield the King from
danger, then they said farewell to the maiden, and embarked
in the little ship that awaited them on the banks of the
Rhine. Nor did Siegfried forget to take with him his Cloak
of Darkness and his good sword Balmung.
Now none was there on the ship save King Gunther, Siegfried,
Hagen, and Dankwart, but Siegfried with his Cloak of
Darkness had the strength of twelve men as well as his own
strong right hand.
Merrily sailed the little ship, steered by Sir Siegfried
himself. Soon the Rhine river was left behind and they were
out on the sea, a strong wind filling their sails. Ere
evening, full twenty miles had the good ship made.
For twelve days they sailed onward, until before them rose
the grim fortress that guarded Isenland.
"What towers are these?" cried King Gunther, as he gazed
upon the turreted castle which looked as a grim sentinel
guarding the land.
"These," answered the hero, "are Queen
 Brunhild's towers and
this is the country over which she rules."
Then turning to Hagen and Dankwart Siegfried begged them to
let him be spokesman to the Queen, for he knew her wayward
moods. "And King Gunther shall be my King," said the Prince,
"and I but his vassal until we leave Isenland."
Hagen and Dankwart, proud men though they were, obeyed
in all things the words of the young Prince of the
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