| 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 AND KRIEMHILD GO TO WORMS
 One fine morning Siegfried and all his fair company set out
on their journey to Rhineland. Their little son they left at
the palace in the Netherlands.
As they drew near to Burgundy, a band of Gunther's most
gallant warriors rode forth to meet their guests. Brunhild
also went to greet the royal company, yet in her heart the
hatred she felt for Siegfried and his wife grew ever more
fierce, more cruel.
Gunther rejoiced when he saw the brave light-hearted hero
once again, and he welcomed him right royally. As for
Brunhild, she kissed the Queen of the Netherlands, and
smiled upon her, so that the lovely lady was well pleased
with her greeting.
Twelve hundred gallant warriors sat round the banqueting
table in the good city of Worms
 that day. Then the feast
ended, and the travellers sought their couches, weary with
their long journey. The next morning the great chests which
they had brought with them were opened, and many precious
stones, and many beautiful garments were bestowed by King
Siegfried and Queen Kriemhild on the ladies and the knights
of the royal city.
Queen Uté, too, was happy, for now again she might
look upon the face of her dear daughter.
Then a tournament was held, and the knights tilted, while
beautiful damsels looked down upon them from the galleries
of the great hall. And at evensong the happy court would
wend its way to the Minster, and there, the Queens, wearing
their crowns of state, would enter side by side. Thus for
eleven days all went merry as a marriage ball.
One evening, ere the Minster bell pealed for vespers, the
two Queens sat side by side under a silken tent. They were
talking of Siegfried and Gunther, their lords.
"There is no braver warrior in the wide world than my lord
Siegfried," said Kriemhild.
 "Nay," cried Brunhild angrily, "nay, thou dost forget thy
brother, King Gunther. None, I trow, is mightier than he."
Then the gentle Kriemhild forgot her gentle ways, and bitter
to Queen Brunhild's ears were the words she spoke.
"My royal brother is neither strong nor brave as is my
lord," she cried. "Dost thou not know that Siegfried it was,
not Gunther, who vanquished thee in the contests held at thy
castle in Isenland? Dost thou not know that it was
Siegfried, clad in his Coat of Darkness, who wrested from
thee both thy girdle and thy ring?" And Kriemhild pointed to
the girdle which she was wearing round her waist, to the
ring which she was wearing on her finger.
Brunhild, when she saw her girdle and her ring, wept, and
her tears were tears of anger. Never would she forgive
Siegfried for treating her thus; never would she forgive
Kriemhild for telling her the truth.
"Alas! alas!" cried the angry Queen, "no hero have I wed,
but a feeble-hearted knave."
Meanwhile, Kriemhild, already grieved that
 she had spoken
thus foolishly, had left the angry Queen and gone down to
the Minster to vespers.
That evening Brunhild had no smiles, no gentle words, for
"It was Siegfried, not thou, my lord, who vanquished me in
the contests at Isenland," she said in a cold voice to the
Had Siegfried then dared to boast to the Queen of the
wonderful feats he had done in the land across the sea? Nay,
King Gunther could not quite believe that the hero would
thus boast of his great strength.
But the Queen was still scolding him, so Gunther, in his
dismay, stammered, "We will summon the King to our presence,
and he shall tell us why he has dared to boast of his might
as though he were stronger than I."
When Siegfried stood before the angry Brunhild, the
crestfallen King said as sternly as he dared, "Hast thou
boasted that it was thou who conquered the maiden Brunhild?"
But even as he spoke all Gunther's suspicions fled away.
Siegfried with the steadfast eyes
 and the happy laugh had
never betrayed him. Of that he felt quite sure. It was true
that he might have told his wife Kriemhild—
Ah, now King Gunther knew what had happened! Not Siegfried,
but his lady sister had told Brunhild the secret. Truly it
was no fault of the gallant hero that Queen Brunhild had
that day learned the secret which he would fain have kept
from her for ever.
So King Gunther stretched out his hand to Siegfried, who had
stood in silence before him, and said, "Not thou, but my
sister Kriemhild hath boasted of thy prowess
in Isenland," and the two Kings walked away together leaving
Brunhild in her anger.
But not long was she left to weep alone, for Hagen, the
keen-eyed, coming into the hall, saw her tears.
"Gracious lady, wherefore dost thou weep?" he asked.
"I weep for anger," said Brunhild, and she told Hagen the
foolish words which Siegfried's wife had spoken.
When Hagen had heard them he smiled grimly to himself.
Siegfried, the hero, nor his
 beautiful wife, should escape
his vengeance now. And he began at once to plan with the
Queen how he might punish them. Well did he know that
Brunhild would do all in her power to aid him in his plots.
Slowly but very surely Hagen drew Gernot and one or two
warriors into his schemes against the King of the
Netherlands. But when Giselher heard that the cruel
counsellors even wished to slay Siegfried, he was angry, and
said bravely, "Never has Siegfried deserved such hate from
any knight of Burgundy."
But Hagen did not cease his evil whispers against the hero.
He would even steal upon King Gunther as he sat at his
council-table, and he would whisper in his ear that if
Siegfried were not so strong, his Burgundian heroes would
win more glory for their arms, that if Siegfried were not
living, all his broad lands would belong, through Kriemhild,
At first, Gunther would bid Hagen be silent, and lay aside
his hate of the mighty hero. But afterward he would listen
and only murmur, "If Siegfried heard thy words, none of us
 be safe from his wrath." For King Gunther was weak and
easily made to fear.
"Fear not," said Hagen grimly, "Siegfried shall never hear
of our plots. Leave the matter to me. I will send for two
strange heralds to come to our land. They shall pretend that
they have come from our old enemies, Ludegast and Ludeger,
and they shall challenge us to battle once again."
"When Siegfried hears that thou must go forth to fight, he
will even as aforetime offer to go for thee against the foe.
Then, methinks, shall I learn the secret of the great
warrior's strength from Kriemhild, ere he set out, as she
will believe he must do, for the battlefield."
And Gunther listened and feared to gainsay the words of his
wicked counsellor, also he thought of the great treasure,
and longed that he might possess it.
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