| 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'S WELCOME TO WORMS
 As the heroes entered the streets of Worms the people came
out of their houses all agape with wonder. Who could the
bold strangers be? See how their horses' trappings shone as
burnished gold and how their white armour glittered in the
The heroes entered the streets of Worms
Then down from the castle rode Gunther's warriors to welcome
the strangers. Right courteously did they greet Siegfried
and his eleven brave knights. As the custom was, they sent
their minions to lead away the strangers' chargers to the
stalls, and to bear their shields to a place of safety.
But Siegfried cried gaily, "Nay, from our steeds and our
armour will we not part, for ere long I and my gallant
warriors will ride away again to our own country. I pray
 tell me where I shall find thy King, for to speak
with him came I thither."
"King Gunther," cried his warriors, "is even now seated in
yonder hall, and around him are gathered many gallant
heroes, many brave knights."
Now in the hall tidings had reached King Gunther of the band
of strangers who had so boldly entered into the royal city.
When he heard of their gorgeous raiment and their shining
armour, much did he desire to know from whence they came.
Then one of his lords said to the King, "We know not who
these strangers be, yet if thou wilt send for Hagen, it may
be he can tell thee. For to Hagen strange lands are well
known, as also the kings and princes who dwell therein."
Therefore Hagen was summoned in all haste to the presence of
"Tell me now," said the King, as his counsellor bowed low
before him, "tell me, if in truth thou knowest, who be these
strangers that ride so boldly towards the castle?"
Strong and stern Hagen stood up before the
 King. No winsome
hero was this man, but a warrior fierce and grim, with eyes
to pierce all on whom he gazed, so keen, so quick they were.
"The truth, sire, will I tell to thee," answered Hagen, and
he walked over to the castle window, flung it wide and cast
his searching glance on Siegfried and his noble knights, who
were now drawing near to the castle.
Well was the grim counsellor pleased with the splendour of
these strangers with their shining helmets, their dazzling
white armour, their noble chargers, yet from whence they
came he could not tell.
Hagen turned from the window to where the King stood
awaiting his answer.
"Whence come these knights I know not," he said. "Yet so
noble is their bearing that they must needs be princes or
ambassadors from some great monarch. One knight, the fairest
and the boldest, is, methinks, the wondrous hero Siegfried,
though never have I seen that mighty Prince."
Then, his fierce eyes gleaming, Hagen told the King of the
great treasure Siegfried had
 won from the Nibelungs. His
eyes gleamed with a greed he could not hide as he told King
Gunther of the gold that had been strewed upon the
mountain-side, of the jewels that had sparkled there, for
Hagen was envious of the riches of the great hero.
He told the King, too, how Siegfried had seized the good
sword Balmung, and with it had killed the two little
princely dwarfs, their twelve giants and seven hundred great
champions of the neighbouring country. Of Alberich, too,
Hagen told his master, of Alberich from whom Siegfried had
taken the Cloak of Darkness and the Magic Wand, and who now
guarded the hoard for the mighty hero alone.
Never was such a warrior as Siegfried, thought King Gunther,
who was himself neither strong nor brave.
But yet more had Hagen to tell, even how Siegfried had slain
a great dragon and bathed in its blood until his skin grew
tough and horny, so that no sword-thrust could do him any
But of the linden leaf and of the tiny spot
 between the
hero's shoulders where he could be smitten as easily as any
other knight, of these things Hagen, knowing nothing, did
"Let us hasten to receive this young Prince," said the
counsellor, "as befits his fame. Let us hasten to gain his
good-will lest our country suffer from his prowess."
The King was well pleased with the counsel of his uncle
Hagen, for as he gazed at the young hero from the castle
window King Gunther loved him for his strength of limb, for
his fair young face, and would fain welcome him to the land
"If in truth the knight be Siegfried," said the King, "right
glad am I. More bold and peerless a prince have I never
"Siegfried, if so he be, is the son of a wealthy king," said
Hagen. "Well pleased would I be to know for what purpose he
and his knights have journeyed to our land."
"Let us go down and welcome the strangers," said Gunther.
"If their errand be peaceful they shall tarry at our court
and see how merry the knights of Burgundy can be."
 With Hagen by his side and followed by his courtiers,
Gunther then walked toward the gates of the castle, which he
reached as Siegfried and his knights rode through them.
Graciously then did the King welcome the noble knight, and
Siegfried, bowing low, thanked him for his kindly greeting.
"I beseech thee, noble knight," said the King, "tell me why
thou hast journeyed to this our royal city, for thy purpose
is yet unknown."
Now Siegfried was not ready to speak of the fair Princess of
whom he had heard in his own country, so he answered the
"Tidings reached me in my fatherland of the splendour of thy
court, O King. Never monarch was more bold, more brave than
thou, never ruler had more valiant warriors. Such tales were
told to me by the people of my land and I have come to see
if they be true. I also, King Gunther, am a warrior, and I,
too, shall one day wear a crown, for I am Siegfried, Prince
of the Netherlands. Nor shall I be content until I have done
great deeds to make the whole world marvel. For
 then in
truth will people cry aloud that I am worthy to reign."
At that moment Siegfried caught sight of Hagen's grim, stern
face, and something he saw in it provoked the gay prince to
say right hardily, "Therefore to do great deeds have I come
to Worms, even to wrest from thee, King Gunther, thy broad
realm of Burgundy and likewise all thy castles. They shall
be mine ere many suns have set."
Then indeed did the King and all his warriors marvel at the
bold young knight. "Was ever heard so
monstrous a plan?" murmured the warriors each to the other.
"The stripling from
a foreign land, with but eleven bold knights to aid him,
would seize Burgundy and banish the King from his realm. It
is a monstrous plan."
"Thou dost repay my welcome but coldly," said Gunther to the
valorous knight. "My fathers ruled over these lands; with
honour did they rule. Wherefore then shall they be taken
from their son?"
But Siegfried cried, "Thyself must fight and win peace for
thy fatherland. For unless thou
 dost conquer me I shall rule
in my great might in this realm, and when I die it shall be
my heir who shall become king."
Then Gunther's brother, King Gernot, spoke, and peaceful
were his words.
"We rule over a fair country, bold knight, and our liegemen
serve us in all good faith. No need have we to fight for
this our fatherland. Therefore do thou go and leave us in
But King Gunther's warriors listened sullenly to the words
of Gernot, and they muttered, "Such words shall scarce save
the braggart stranger, for hath he not challenged our King
to fight," and the hands of the stout warriors crept to
their sword-hilts. "We will master
his haughty Prince," they cried aloud then
in their anger.
Hot was Siegfried's temper as he heard their words, and
proudly did he answer, "Ye are all but vassals and would ye
measure swords with me, a king's son? Nor, should ye fall on
me altogether, could ye hope to overcome me," and Siegfried
swung aloft his good sword Balmung. Then one of the stout
war-  riors whom Siegfried thus defied called lustily for his
armour and his shield.
But again King Gernot spoke. "Not yet hath Siegfried done us
any hurt, let us not provoke him to fierce deeds, rather let
us seek to gain his good-will."
King Gunther looked at Hagen. He was not content that his
chief counsellor should keep silence. And indeed at that
very moment Hagen's stern voice was heard.
"We do well to be
wrathful at the words of this bold stripling," he said, his
keen eyes glancing fiercely meanwhile at Gernot. "We do well
to be wrathful, for why should Siegfried thus mock at us who
have never done him aught of ill?"
"Dost think I but mock thee with my words," cried the rash
knight. "Ere long thou shalt see the deeds which my strong
right hand shall do in this fair land of Burgundy."
Again amid the angry tumult Gernot's voice was raised,
forbidding his warriors to answer the stranger with harsh
As Gernot's peaceful voice fell upon Siegfried's ear for the
third time, he began to think
 of Kriemhild, the wonder-lady
of his dreams. He grew ashamed of his anger. He would curb
it lest he should never win the Princess for his bride.
Then Gernot, seeing the fierceness die out of the stranger's
face, spoke yet again. "Thou shalt be welcome, thou and thy
comrades, to Worms, and right glad will we be to serve
thee," and Gernot ordered goblets of the King's wine to be
brought to the strange guests.
Siegfried and his knights took the goblets, and having
drained them they were ready to forget their warlike words.
King Gunther, seeing that his guests were no longer angry,
led them to the banqueting hall, and Siegfried was soon
laughing his own glad, gay laugh. When at length the feast
was ended the stranger knights were lodged each as befitted
Then throughout the fair land of Burgundy there stole the
story of the King's bold hero guest, Sir Siegfried.
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