| 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 |
MIMER THE BLACKSMITH
 Siegfried was born a Prince and grew to be a hero, a hero
with a heart of gold. Though he could fight, and was as
strong as any lion, yet he could love too and be as gentle
as a child.
The father and mother of the hero-boy lived in a strong
castle near the banks of the great Rhine river. Siegmund,
his father, was a rich king, Sieglinde, his mother, a
beautiful queen, and dearly did they love their little son
The courtiers and the high-born maidens who dwelt in the
castle honoured the little Prince, and thought him the
fairest child in all the land, as indeed he was.
Sieglinde, his queen-mother, would ofttimes dress her little
son in costly garments and lead him by the hand before the
men-  at-arms who stood before the castle walls.
Nought had they but smiles and gentle words for their little
When he grew older, Siegfried would ride into the country,
yet always would he be attended by King Siegmund's most
Then one day armed men entered the Netherlands, the country
over which King Siegmund ruled, and the little Prince was
sent away from the castle, lest by any evil chance he should
fall into the hands of the foe.
Siegfried was hidden away safe in the thickets of a great
forest, and dwelt there under the care of a blacksmith,
Mimer was a dwarf, belonging to a strange race of little
folk called Nibelungs. The Nibelungs lived for the most part
in a dark little town beneath the ground. Nibelheim was the
name of this little town and many of the tiny men who dwelt
there were smiths. All the livelong day they would hammer on
their little anvils, but all through the long night they
would dance and play with tiny little Nibelung women.
 It was not in the little dark town of Nibelheim that Mimer
had his forge, but under the trees of the great forest to
which Siegfried had been sent.
As Mimer or his pupils wielded their tools the wild beasts
would start from their lair, and the swift birds would wing
their flight through the mazes of the wood, lest danger lay
in those heavy, resounding strokes.
But Siegfried, the hero-boy, would laugh for glee, and
seizing the heaviest hammer he could see he would swing it
with such force upon the anvil that it would be splintered
into a thousand pieces.
Then Mimer the blacksmith would scold the lad, who was now
the strongest of all the lads under his care; but little
heeding his rebukes, Siegfried would fling himself merrily
out of the smithy and hasten with great strides into the
gladsome wood. For now the Prince was growing a big lad, and
his strength was even as the strength of ten.
To-day Siegfried was in a merry mood. He would repay Mimer's
rebukes in right good fashion. He would frighten the little
black-  smith dwarf until he was forced to cry for mercy.
Clad in his forest dress of deerskins, with his hair as
burnished gold blowing around his shoulders, Siegfried
wandered away into the depths of the woodland.
There he seized the silver horn which hung from his girdle
and raised it to his lips. A long, clear note he blew, and
ere the sound had died away the boy saw a sight which
pleased him well. Here was good prey indeed! A bear, a great
big shaggy bear was peering at him out of a bush, and as he
gazed the beast opened its jaws and growled, a fierce and
Not a whit afraid was Siegfried. Quick as lightning he had
caught the great creature in his arms, and ere it could turn
upon him, it was muzzled, and was being led quietly along
toward the smithy.
Mimer was busy at his forge sharpening a sword when
Siegfried reached the doorway.
At the sound of laughter the little dwarf raised his head.
It was the Prince who laughed. Then Mimer saw the bear, and
 sword he held drop to the ground with a clang,
he ran to hide himself in the darkest corner of the smithy.
Then Mimer saw the bear
Then Siegfried laughed again. He was no hero-boy to-day, for
next he made the big bear hunt the little Nibelung dwarf
from corner to corner, nor could the frightened little man
escape or hide himself in darkness. Again and again as he
crouched in a shadowed corner, Siegfried would stir up the
embers of the forge until all the smithy was lighted with a
At length the Prince tired of his game, and unmuzzling the
bear he chased the bewildered beast back into the shelter of
Mimer, poor little dwarf, all a-tremble with his fear, cried
angrily, "Thou mayest go shoot if so it please thee, and
bring home thy dead prey. Dead bears thou mayest bring
hither if thou wilt, but live bears shalt thou leave to
crouch in their lair or to roam through the forest." But
Siegfried, the naughty Prince, only laughed at the little
Nibelung's frightened face and harsh, croaking voice.
 Now as the days passed, Mimer the blacksmith began to wish
that Siegfried had never come to dwell with him in his
smithy. The Prince was growing too strong, too brave to
please the little dwarf, moreover many were the mischievous
tricks his pupil played on him.
Prince though he was, Mimer would see if he could not get
rid of his tormentor. For indeed though, as I have told you,
Siegfried had a heart of gold, at this time the gold seemed
to have grown dim and tarnished. Perhaps that was because
the Prince had learned to distrust and to dislike, nay,
more, to hate the little, cunning dwarf.
However that may be, it is certain that Siegfried played
many pranks upon the little Nibelung, and he, Mimer,
determined to get rid of the quick-tempered, strong-handed
One day, therefore, it happened that the little dwarf told
Siegfried to go deep into the forest to bring home charcoal
for the forge. And this Mimer did, though he knew that in
the very part of the forest to which he was sending the lad
there dwelt a terrible dragon, named Regin.
 Indeed Regin was
a brother of the little blacksmith, and would be lying in
wait for the Prince. It would be but the work of a moment
for the monster to seize the lad and greedily to devour him.
To Siegfried it was always joy to wander afar through the
woodland. Ofttimes had he thrown himself down on the soft,
moss-covered ground and lain there hour after hour,
listening to the wood-birds' song. Sometimes he would even
find a reed and try to pipe a tune as sweet as did the
birds, but that was all in vain, as the lad soon found. No
tiny songster would linger to hearken to the shrill piping
of his grassy reed, and the Prince himself was soon ready to
fling it far away.
It was no hardship then to Siegfried to leave the forge and
the hated little Nibelung, therefore it was that with right
good-will he set out in search of charcoal for Mimer the
As he loitered there where the trees grew thickest,
Siegfried took his horn and blew it lustily. If he could not
pipe on a grassy reed, at least he could blow a rousing note
on his silver horn.
 Suddenly as Siegfried blew, the trees seemed to sway, the
earth to give out fire. Regin, the dragon, had roused
himself at the blast, and was even now drawing near to the
It was at the mighty strides of the monster that the trees
had seemed to tremble, it was as he opened his terrible jaws
that the earth had seemed to belch out fire.
For a little while Siegfried watched the dragon in silence.
Then he laughed aloud, and a brave, gay laugh it was. Alone
in the forest, with a sword buckled to his side, the hero
was afraid of naught, not even of Regin. The ugly monster
was sitting now on a little hillock, looking down upon the
lad, his victim as he thought.
Then Siegfried called boldly to the dragon, "I will kill
thee, for in truth thou art an ugly monster."
"I will kill thee, for in truth thou art an ugly monster"
At those words Regin opened his great jaws, and showed his
terrible fangs. Yet still the boy Prince mocked at the
And now Regin in his fury crept closer and closer to the
lad, swinging his great tail, until he well-nigh swept
Siegfried from his feet.
 Swiftly then the Prince drew his sword, well tempered as he
knew, for had not he himself wrought it in the forge of
Mimer the blacksmith? Swiftly he drew his sword, and with
one bound he sprang upon the dragon's back, and as he reared
himself, down came the hero's shining sword and pierced into
the very heart of the monster. Thus as Siegfried leaped
nimbly to the ground, the dragon fell back dead. Regin was
no longer to be feared.
Then Siegfried did a curious thing. He had heard the little
Nibelung men who came to the smithy to talk with Mimer, he
had heard them say that whoever should bathe in the blood of
Regin the dragon would henceforth be safe from every foe.
For his skin would grow so tough and horny that it would be
to him as an armour through which no sword or spear could
Thinking of the little Nibelungs' harsh voices and wrinkled
little faces, as they had sat talking thus around Mimer's
glowing forge, Siegfried now flung aside his deerskin dress
and bathed himself from top to toe in the dragon's blood.
But as he bathed, a leaf from off a linden tree
 was blown
upon his shoulders, and on the spot where it rested
Siegfried's skin was still soft and tender as when he was a
little child. It was only a tiny spot which was covered by
the linden leaf, but should a spear thrust, or an arrow
pierce that tiny spot, Siegfried would be wounded as easily
as any other man.
The dragon was dead, the bath was over, and clad once more
in his deerskin, Siegfried set out for the smithy. He
brought no charcoal for the forge; all that he carried with
him was a heart afire with anger, a sword quivering to take
the life of the Nibelung, Mimer.
For now Siegfried knew that the dwarf had wished to send him
forth to death, when he bade him go seek charcoal in the
depths of the forest.
Into the dusky glow of the smithy plunged the hero, and
swiftly he slew the traitor Mimer. Then gaily, for he had
but slain evil ones of whom the world was well rid, then
gaily Siegfried fared through the forest in quest of
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