| 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 WINS THE TREASURE
 Now this is what befell the Prince.
In his wanderings he reached the country called Isenland,
where the warlike but beautiful Queen Brunhild reigned. He
gazed with wonder at her castle, so strong it stood on the
edge of the sea, guarded by seven great gates. Her marble
palaces also made him marvel, so white they glittered in the
But most of all he marvelled at this haughty queen, who
refused to marry any knight unless he could vanquish her in
every contest to which she summoned him.
Brunhild from the castle window saw the fair face and the
strong limbs of the hero, and demanded that he should be
brought into her presence, and as a sign of her favour she
showed the young Prince her magic horse Gana.
Yet Siegfried had no wish to conquer the
 warrior-queen and
gain her hand and her broad dominions for his own. Siegfried
thought only of a wonder-maiden, unknown, unseen as yet,
though in his heart he hid an image of her as he dreamed
that she would be.
It is true that Siegfried had no love for the haughty
Brunhild. It is also true that he wished to prove to her
that he alone was a match for all her boldest warriors, and
had even power to bewitch her magic steed, Gana, if so he
willed, and steal it from her side.
And so one day a spirit of mischief urged the Prince on to a
gay prank, as also a wayward spirit urged him no longer to
brook Queen Brunhild's haughty mien.
Before he left Isenland, therefore, Siegfried in a merry
mood threw to the ground the seven great gates that guarded
the Queen's strong castle. Then he called to Gana, the magic
steed, to follow him into the world, and this the charger
did with right good-will.
Whether Siegfried sent Gana back to Isenland or not I do not
know, but I know that in the days to come Queen Brunhild
never forgave the hero for his daring feat.
 When the Prince had left Isenland he rode on and on until he
came to a great mountain. Here near a cave he found two
little dwarfish Nibelungs, surrounded by twelve foolish
giants. The two little Nibelungs were princes, the giants
were their counsellors.
Now the King of the Nibelungs had but just died in the dark
little underground town of Nibelheim, and the two tiny
princes were the sons of the dead king.
But they had not come to the mountain-side to mourn for
their royal father. Not so indeed had they come, but to
divide the great hoard of treasure which the King had
bequeathed to them at his death.
Already they had begun to quarrel over the treasure, and the
twelve foolish giants looked on, but did not know what to
say or do, so they did nothing, and never spoke at all.
The dwarfs had themselves carried the hoard out of the cave
where usually it was hidden, and they had spread it on the
There it lay, gold as far as the eye could see, and farther.
Jewels, too, were there, more
 than twelve waggons could
carry away in four days and nights, each going three
Indeed, however much you took from this marvellous treasure,
never did it seem to grow less.
But more precious even than the gold or the jewels of the
hoard was a wonderful sword which it possessed. It was named
Balmung, and had been tempered by the Nibelungs in their
glowing forges underneath the glad green earth.
Before the magic strength of Balmung's stroke, the strongest
warrior must fall, nor could his armour save him, however
close its links had been welded by some doughty smith.
As Siegfried rode towards the two little dwarfs, they turned
and saw him, with his bright, fair face, and flowing locks.
Nimble as little hares they darted to his side, and begged
that he would come and divide their treasure. He should have
the good sword Balmung as reward, they cried.
Siegfried dismounted, well pleased to do these ugly little
men a kindness.
 But alas! ere long the dwarfs began to mock at the hero with
their harsh voices, and to wag their horrid little heads at
him, while they screamed in a fury that he was not dividing
the treasure as they wished.
Then Siegfried grew angry with the tiny princes, and seizing
the magic sword, he cut off their heads. The twelve foolish
giants also he slew, and thus became himself master of the
marvellous hoard as well as of the good sword Balmung.
Seizing the magic sword, he cut off their heads
Seven hundred valiant champions, hearing the blast of the
hero's horn, now gathered together to defend the country
from this strange young warrior. But he vanquished them all,
and forced them to promise that they would henceforth serve
no other lord save him alone. And this they did, being proud
of his great might.
Now tidings of the slaughter of the two tiny princes had
reached Nibelheim, and great was the wrath of the little men
and little women who dwelt in the dark town beneath the
Alberich, the mightiest of all the dwarfs, gathered together
his army of little gnomes to
 avenge the death of the two
dwarf princes and also, for Alberich was a greedy man, to
gain for himself the great hoard.
When Siegfried saw Alberich at the head of his army of
little men he laughed aloud, and with a light heart he
chased them all into the great cave on the mountain-side.
From off the mighty dwarf, Alberich, he stripped his famous
Cloak of Darkness, which made him who wore it not only
invisible, but strong as twelve strong men. He snatched also
from the dwarf's fingers his wishing rod, which was a Magic
Wand. And last of all he made Alberich and his thousands of
tiny warriors take an oath, binding them evermore to serve
him alone. Then hiding the treasure in the cave with the
seven hundred champions whom he had conquered, he left
Alberich and his army of little men to guard it, until he
came again. And Alberich and his dwarfs were faithful to the
hero who had shorn them of their treasure, and served him
Siegfried, the magic sword Balmung by his side, the Cloak of
Darkness thrown over his
 arm, the Magic Wand in his strong
right hand, went over the mountain, across the plains, nor
did he tarry until he came again to the castle built on the
banks of the river Rhine in his own low-lying country of the
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