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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Story Of Siegfried - Chapter XVI. How Brunhild Was Welcomed Home
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The Story Of Siegfried - Chapter XVI. How Brunhild Was Welcomed Home Post by :cce12247 Category :Long Stories Author :James Baldwin Date :February 2011 Read :1265

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The Story Of Siegfried - Chapter XVI. How Brunhild Was Welcomed Home

When the next morning's sun arose, and its light gilded the
mountain peaks, and fell in a flood of splendor down upon
the rich uplands and the broad green fields of Nibelungen
Land, Siegfried, with his earls and mighty men, rode through
the valley, and down to the seashore. There a pleasant sight
met his eyes: for the little bay was white with the sails of
a hundred gold-beaked vessels which lay at anchor; and on
the sandy beach there stood in order three thousand island
warriors,--the bravest and the best of all the
Nibelungens,--clad in armor, and ready to hear and to do
their master's bidding. And Siegfried told them why he had
thus hastily called them together; and he gave to each one
rich gifts of gold and jewels and costly raiment. Then he
chose from among them one thousand of the most trustworthy,
who should follow him back to Isenland; and these went
aboard the waiting vessels, amid the cheers and the
farewells of their comrades who were left behind. And when
every thing was in readiness, the anchors were hoisted and
the sails were set, and the little fleet, wafted by pleasant
winds, sailed out of the bay, and eastward across the calm
blue sea. And Siegfried's vessel, with a golden dragon
banner floating from the masthead, led all the rest.

On the fourth day after Siegfried's departure from Isenland,
Dankwart and grim old Hagen sat in a room of the castle at
Isenstein. Outside and below they heard the fair-haired
warriors of Queen Brunhild pacing to and fro, and ready, at
a word, to seize upon the strangers, and either to put them
to death, or to drive them forever from the land. Old
Hagen's brows were closely knit, and his face was dark as a
thunder-cloud, and his hands played nervously with his
sword-hilt, as he said,--

"Where now is Gunther, the man whom we once called king?"

"He is standing on the balcony above, talking with the queen
and her maidens," answered Dankwart.

"The craven that he is!" cried Hagen hoarsely. "Once he was
a king, and worthy to be obeyed; but now who is the king?
That upstart Siegfried has but to say what shall be done,
and our master Gunther, blindly and like a child, complies.
Four days ago we might have taken ship, and sailed safely
home. Now our vessel is gone, the boasted hero is gone, and
nothing is left for us to do but to fight and die."

"But we are sure of Odin's favor," returned Dankwart; and a
wild light gleamed from his eyes, and he brandished his
sword high over his head. "A place in Valhal is promised to
us; for, him who bravely dies with his blood-stained sword
beside him and his heart unrent with fears, the All-Father's
victory-wafters will gently carry home. Even now, methinks,
I sit in the banqueting-hall of the heroes, and quaff the
flowing mead."

* * * * *

In the mean while Gunther stood with Queen Brunhild at an
upper window, and looked out upon the great sea that spread
forever and away towards the setting sun. And all at once,
as if by magic, the water was covered with white-sailed
ships, which, driven by friendly winds and the helping hands
of AEgir's daughters and the brawny arms of many a stalwart
oarsman, came flying towards the bay.

"What ships are those with the snow-white sails and the
dragon-stems?" asked Brunhild, wondering.

Gunther gazed for a moment towards the swift-coming fleet,
and his eyes were gladdened with the sight of Siegfried's
dragon-banner floating from the vessel in the van. A great
load seemed lifted from his breast, for now he knew that the
hoped-for help was at hand. And, smiling he answered the
queen,--

"Those white-sailed ships are mine. My body-guard--a
thousand of my trustiest fighting-men--are on board, and
every man is ready to die for me."

And as the vessels came into the harbor, and the sailors
furled the sails, and cast the anchors into the sea,
Siegfried was seen standing on the golden prow of his ship,
arrayed in princely raiment, with his earls and chiefs
around him. And their bright armor glittered in the
sunlight, and their burnished shields shone like so many
golden mirrors. A fairer sight had the folk of Isenstein
never seen.

Long and earnestly Queen Brunhild gazed, and then, turning
away, she burst into tears; for she knew that she had been
again outwitted, and that it was vain for her to struggle
against the Norns' decrees. Then, crushing back the grief
and the sore longing that rose in her heart, she spoke again
to Gunther, and her eyes shone stern and strange.

"What now will you have me do?" she asked; "for you have
fairly won me, and my wayward fancies shall no longer vex
you. Shall I greet your friends with kindness, or shall we
send them back again over the sea?"

"I pray you give them welcome to the broad halls of
Isenstein," he answered; "for no truer, nobler men live than
these my liegemen."

So the queen sent word to Siegfried and his Nibelungen
warriors to leave the ships and come ashore. And she
herself, as radiant now as a morning in May, went down to
meet them and welcome them. Then she had a great feast made
in honor of the heroes, and the long, low-raftered
feast-hall rang with the sounds of merriment, instead of
with the clash of arms. The fair-haired, blue-eyed warriors
of the queen sat side by side with the tall strangers from
over the sea. And in the high-seat was Brunhild, her face
exceeding pale, yet beauteous to behold; and by her side sat
Gunther, smiling and glad, and clad in his kingly raiments.
And around them were the earls and chieftains, and many a
fair lady of Isenland, and Hagen, smiling through his
frowns, and Dankwart, now grown fearless, and Siegfried sad
and thoughtful. Mirth and gladness ruled the hour, and not
until the morning star began to fade in the coming sunlight
lid the guests retire to rest.

Only a few days longer did the heroes tarry in Isenland; for
the mild spring days were growing warmer, and all faces were
southward turned, and the queen herself was anxious to haste
to her South-land home. When, at last, the time for
leave-taking came, the folk of Isenland gathered around to
bid their queen Godspeed. Then Brunhild called to Dankwart,
and gave him her golden keys, and bade him unlock her
closets where her gold and jewels were stored, and to
scatter with hands unstinted her treasures among the poor.
And many were the tearful blessings, and many the kind words
said, as the radiant queen went down to the waiting,
white-winged vessel, and stepped aboard with Gunther and the
heroes of the Rhine. But she was not to go alone to the land
of strangers; for with her were to sail a hundred fair young
damsels, and more than fourscore noble dames, and two
thousand blue-eyed warriors, the bravest of her land.

When all had gone on board the waiting fleet, the anchors
were hoisted, and the sails were unfurled to the breeze; and
amid the tearful farewells of friends, and the joyful
shouting of the sailors, the hundred heavy-laden vessels
glided from the bay, and were soon far out at sea. And the
sorrowing folk of Isenland turned away, and went back to
their daily tasks, and to the old life of mingled pain and
pleasure, of shadow and sunshine; and they never saw their
loved warrior-queen again.

The gay white fleet, with its precious cargo of noble men
and fair ladies, sped swiftly onwards through Old AEgir's
kingdom; and it seemed as if Queen Ran had forgotten to
spread her nets, so smooth and quiet was the sea; and the
waves slept on the peaceful bosom of the waters: only Ripple
and Sky-clear danced in the wake of the flying ships, and
added to the general joy. And on shipboard music and song
enlivened the dragging hours; and from morn till eve no
sounds were heard, save those of merriment and sport, and
glad good cheer. Yet, as day after day passed by, and no
sight met their eyes but the calm blue waters beneath, and
the calm blue sky above, all began to wish for a view, once
more, of the solid earth, and the fields, and the wild
greenwood. But the ships sailed steadily onward, and every
hour brought them nearer and nearer to the wished-for haven.

At length, on the ninth day, they came in sight of a long,
flat coast, stretching far away towards the Lowlands, where
Old AEgir and his daughters--sometimes by wasting warfare,
sometimes by stealthy strategy--ever plot and toil to widen
the Sea-king's domains. When the sailors saw the green shore
rising up, as it were, out of the quiet water, and the wild
woodland lying dense and dark beyond, and when they knew
that they were nearing the end of their long sea-voyage,
they rent the air with their joyful shouts. And a brisker
breeze sprang up, and filled the sails, and made the ships
leap forward over the water, like glad living creatures.

It was then that the thought came to King Gunther that he
ought to send fleet heralds to Burgundy-land to make known
the happy issue of his bold emprise, and to tell of his glad
home-coming, with Brunhild, the warrior-maiden, as his
queen. So he called old Hagen to him, and told him of his
thoughts, and asked him if he would be that herald.

"Nay," answered the frowning chief. "No bearer of glad
tidings am I. To every man Odin has given gifts. To some he
has given light hearts, and cheery faces, and glad voices;
and such alone are fitted to carry good news and happy
greetings. To others he has given darker souls, and less
lightsome faces, and more uncouth manners; and these may
bear the brunt of the battle, and rush with Odin's heroes to
the slaughter: but they would be ill at ease standing in the
presence of fair ladies, or telling glad tidings at court.
Let me still linger, I pray, on board this narrow ship, and
send your friend Siegfried as herald to Burgundy-land. He is
well fitted for such a duty."

So Gunther sent at once for Siegfried, to whom, when he had
come, he said,--

"My best of friends, although we are now in sight of land,
our voyage still is a long one; for the river is yet far
away, and, when it is reached, its course is winding, and
the current will be against us, and our progress must needs
be slow. The folk at home have had no tidings from us since
we left them in the early spring; and no doubt their hearts
grow anxious, and they long to hear of our whereabouts, and
whether we prosper or no. Now, as we near the headland which
juts out dark and green before us, we will set you on shore,
with the noble Greyfell, and as many comrades as you wish,
to haste with all speed to Burgundy, to tell the glad news
of our coming to the loved ones waiting there."

Siegfried at first held back, and tried to excuse himself
from undertaking this errand,--not because he felt any fear
of danger, but because he scorned to be any man's thrall, to
go and do at his beck and bidding. Then Gunther spoke again,
and in a different tone.

"Gentle Siegfried," he said, "if you will not do this errand
for my sake, I pray that you will undertake it for the sake
of my sister, the fair Kriemhild, who has so long waited for
our coming."

Then willingly did the prince agree to be the king's herald.
And on the morrow the ship touched land; and Siegfried bade
his companions a short farewell, and went ashore with four
and twenty Nibelungen chiefs, who were to ride with him to
Burgundy. And, when every thing was in readiness, he mounted
the noble Greyfell, as did also each warrior his favorite
steed, and they galloped briskly away; and their glittering
armor and nodding plumes were soon lost to sight among the
green trees of the wood. And the ship which bore Gunther and
his kingly party weighed anchor, and moved slowly along the
shore towards the distant river's mouth.

For many days, and through many strange lands, rode
Siegfried and his Nibelungen chiefs. They galloped through
the woodland, and over a stony waste, and came to a peopled
country rich in farms and meadows, and dotted with pleasant
towns. And the folk of that land wondered greatly at sight
of the radiant Siegfried, and the tall warriors with him,
and their noble steeds, and their sunbright armor. For they
thought that it was a company of the gods riding through the
mid-world, as the gods were wont to do in the golden days of
old. So they greeted them with smiles, and kind, good words,
and scattered flowers and blessings in their way.

They stopped for a day in Vilkina-land, where dwelt one
Eigill, a famous archer, who, it is said, was a brother of
Veliant, Siegfried's fellow-apprentice in the days of his
boyhood. And men told them this story of Eigill. That once
on a time old Nidung, the king of that land, in order to
test his skill with the bow, bade him shoot an apple, or, as
some say, an acorn, from the head of his own little son. And
Eigill did this; but two other arrows, which he had hidden
beneath his coat, dropped to the ground. And when the king
asked him what these were for he answered, "To kill thee,
wretch, had I slain my child."(EN#27)

After this our heroes rode through a rough hill-country,
where the ground was covered with sharp stones, and the
roads were steep and hard. And their horses lost their
shoes, and were so lamed by the travel, that they were
forced to turn aside to seek the house of one Welland, a
famous smith, who re-shod their steeds, and entertained them
most kindly three days and nights. And it is said by some
that Welland is but another name for Veliant, and that this
was the selfsame foreman whom we knew in Siegfried's younger
days. But, be this as it may, he was at this time the master
of all smiths, and no one ever wrought more cunningly. And
men say that his grandfather was Vilkinus, the first king of
that land; and that his grandmother, Wachitu, was a fair
mermaid, who lived in the deep green sea; and that his
father, Wada, had carried him, when a child, upon his
shoulders through water five fathoms deep, to apprentice him
to the cunning dwarfs, from whom he learned his trade. And
if this story is true, he could not have been Veliant. He
was wedded to a beautiful lady, who sometimes took the form
of a swan, and flew away to a pleasant lake near by, where,
with other swan-maidens, she spent the warm summer days
among the reeds and the water-lilies. And many other strange
tales were told of Welland the smith: how he had once made a
boat from the single trunk of a tree, and had sailed in it
all around the mid-world; how, being lame in one foot, he
had forged a wondrous winged garment, and flown like a
falcon through the air; and how he had wrought for Beowulf,
the Anglo-Saxon hero, a gorgeous war-coat that no other
smith could equal.(EN#28) And so pleasantly did Welland
entertain his guests that they were loath to leave him; but
on the fourth day they bade him farewell, and wended again
their way.

Now our heroes rode forward, with greater speed than before,
across many a mile of waste land, and over steep hills, and
through pleasant wooded dales. Then, again, they came to
fair meadows, and broad pasture-lands, and fields green with
growing corn; and every one whom they met blessed them, and
bade them a hearty God-speed. Then they left the farmlands
and the abodes of men far behind them; and they passed by
the shore of a sparkling lake, where they heard the
swan-maidens talking to each other as they swam among the
rushes, or singing in silvery tones of gladness as they
circled in the air above. Then they crossed a dreary moor,
where nothing grew but heather; and they climbed a barren,
stony mountain, where the feet of men had never been, and
came at last to a wild, dark forest, where silence reigned
undisturbed forever.

It was the wood in which dwells Vidar, the silent god, far
from the sound of man's busy voice, in the solemn shade of
century-living oaks and elms. There he sits in quiet but
awful grandeur,--strong almost as Thor, but holding his
mighty strength in check. Hoary and gray, he sits alone in
Nature's temple, and communes with Nature's self, waiting
for the day when Nature's silent but resistless forces shall
be quickened into dread action. His head is crowned with
sear and yellow leaves, and long white moss hangs pendent
from his brows and cheeks, and his garments are rusted with
age. On his feet are iron shoes, with soles made thick with
the scraps of leather gathered through centuries past; and
with these, it is said, he shall, in the last great twilight
of the mid-world, rend the jaws of the Fenris-wolf.(EN#29)

"Who is this Fenris-wolf?" asked one of the Nibelungens as
they rode through the solemn shadows of the wood.

And Siegfried thereupon related how that fierce creature had
been brought up and cared for by the Asa-folk; and how, when
he grew large and strong, they sought to keep him from doing
harm by binding him with an iron chain called Leding. But
the strength of the monster was so great, that he burst the
chain asunder, and escaped. Then the Asas made another chain
twice as strong, which they called Drome. And they called to
the wolf, and besought him to allow them to bind him again,
so that, in bursting the second chain, he might clear up all
doubts in regard to his strength. Flattered by the words of
the Asas, the wolf complied; and they chained him with
Drome, and fastened him to a great rock. But Fenris
stretched his legs, and shook himself, and the great chain
was snapped in pieces. Then the Asas knew that there was no
safety for them so long as a monster so huge and terrible
was unbound; and they besought the swarthy elves to forge
them another and a stronger chain. This the elves did. They
made a most wondrous chain, smooth as silk, and soft as
down, yet firmer than granite, and stronger than steel. They
called it Gleipner; and it was made of the sinews of a bear,
the footsteps of a cat, the beard of a woman, the breath of
a fish, the sweat of a bird, and the roots of a mountain.
When the Asas had obtained this chain, they lured the
Fenris-wolf to the rocky Island of Lyngve, and by flattery
persuaded him to be bound again. But this he would not agree
to do until Tyr placed his hand in his mouth as a pledge of
good faith. Then they tied him as before, and laughingly
bade him break the silken cord. The huge creature stretched
himself as before, and tried with all his might to burst
away; but Gleipner held him fast, and the worst that he
could do was to bite off the hand of unlucky Tyr. And this
is why Tyr is called the one-armed god.

"But it is said," added Siegfried, "that in the last
twilight the Fenris-wolf will break his chain, and that he
will swallow the sun, and slay the great Odin himself, and
that none can subdue him save Vidar the Silent."

It was thus that the heroes conversed with each other as
they rode through the silent ways of the wood.

At length, one afternoon in early summer, the little company
reached the Rhine valley; and looking down from the sloping
hill-tops, green with growing corn, they saw the pleasant
town of the Burgundians and the high gray towers of
Gunther's dwelling. And not long afterwards they rode
through the streets of the old town, and, tired and
travel-stained, halted outside of the castle-gates. Very
soon it became noised about that Siegfried and a company of
strange knights, fair and tall, had come again to Burgundy
and to the home of the Burgundian kings. But when it was
certainly known that neither Gunther the king, nor Hagen of
the evil eye, nor Dankwart his brother, had returned, the
people felt many sad misgivings; for they greatly feared
that some hard mischance had befallen their loved king. Then
Gernot and the young Giselher, having heard of Siegfried's
arrival, came out with glad but anxious faces to greet him.

"Welcome, worthy chief!" they cried. "But why are you alone?
What are your tidings? Where is our brother? and where are
our brave uncles, Hagen and Dankwart? And who are those
strange, fair men who ride with you? And what about
Brunhild, the warrior-maiden? Alas! if our brother has
fallen by her cruel might, then woe to Burgundy! Tell us
quickly all about it!"

"Have patience, friends!" answered Siegfried. "Give me time
to speak, and I will gladden the hearts of all the folk of
Burgundy with my news. Your brother Gunther is alive and
well; and he is the happiest man in the whole mid-world,
because he has won the matchless Brunhild for his bride. And
he is ere now making his way up the river with a mighty
fleet of a hundred vessels and more than two thousand
warriors. Indeed, you may look for him any day. And he has
sent me, with these my Nibelungen earls, to bid you make
ready for his glad home-coming."

Then, even before he had alighted from Greyfell, he went on
to tell of the things that had happened at Isenstein; but he
said nothing of the part which he had taken in the strange
contest. And a crowd of eager listeners stood around, and
heard with unfeigned joy of the happy fortune of their king.

"And now," said Siegfried to Giselher, when he had finished
his story, "carry the glad news to your mother and your
sister; for they, too, must be anxious to learn what fate
has befallen King Gunther."

"Nay," answered the prince, "you yourself are the king's
herald, and you shall be the one to break the tidings to
them. Full glad they'll be to hear the story from your own
lips, for long have they feared that our brother would never
be seen by us again. I will tell them of your coming, but
you must be the first to tell them the news you bring."

"Very well," answered Siegfried. "It shall be as you say."

Then he dismounted from Greyfell, and, with his Nibelungen
earls, was shown into the grand hall, where they were
entertained in a right kingly manner.

When Kriemhild the peerless, and Ute her mother, heard that
Siegfried had come again to Burgundy, and that he brought
news from Gunther the king, they hastened to make ready to
see him. And, when he came before them, he seemed so noble,
so bright, and so glad, that they knew he bore no evil
tidings.

"Most noble prince," said Kriemhild, trembling in his
presence, "right welcome are you to our dwelling! But
wherefore are you come? How fares my brother Gunther? Why
came he not with you back to Burgundy-land? Oh! undone are
we, if, through the cruel might of the warrior-queen, he has
been lost to us."

"Now give me a herald's fees!" cried Siegfried, laughing.
"King Gunther is alive and well. In the games of strength to
which fair Brunhild challenged him, he was the winner. And
now he comes up the Rhine with his bride, and a great
retinue of lords and ladies and fighting-men. Indeed, the
sails of his ships whiten the river for miles. And I am come
by his desire to ask that every thing be made ready for his
glad home-coming and the loving welcome of his peerless
queen."

Great was the joy of Kriemhild and her queenly mother when
they heard this gladsome news; and they thanked the prince
most heartily for all that he had done.

"You have truly earned a herald's fee," said the lovely
maiden, "and gladly would I pay it you in gold; for you have
cheered us with pleasant tidings, and lightened our minds of
a heavy load. But men of your noble rank take neither gifts
nor fees, and hence we have only to offer our deepest and
heartiest thanks."

"Not so," answered Siegfried gayly. "Think not I would scorn
a fee. Had I a kingdom of thirty realms, I should still be
proud of a gift from you."

"Then, you shall have your herald's fee!" cried Kriemhild;
and she sent her maidens to fetch the gift. And with her own
lily hands she gave him twenty golden bracelets, richly
inwrought with every kind of rare and costly gem-stones.
Happy, indeed, was Siegfried to take such priceless gift
from the hand of so peerless a maiden; and his face shone
radiant with sunbeams as he humbly bowed, and thanked her.
But he had no need for the jewels, nor wished he to keep
them long: so he gave them, with gracious wishes, to the
fair young maidens at court.

From this time forward, for many days, there was great
bustle in Gunther's dwelling. On every side was heard the
noise of busy hands, making ready for the glad day when the
king should be welcomed home. The broad halls and the tall
gray towers were decked with flowers, and floating banners,
and many a gay device; the houses and streets of the
pleasant burgh put on their holiday attire; the shady road
which led through Kriemhild's rose-garden down to the
river-banks was dusted and swept with daily care; and the
watchman was cautioned to keep on the lookout every moment
for the coming of the expected fleet. And heralds had been
sent to every burgh and castle, and to every countryside in
Burgundy, announcing the happy home-coming of Gunther and
his bride, and bidding every one, both high and low, to the
glad merry-making.

On the morning of the eleventh day, ere the sun had dried
the dew from the springing grass, the keen-eyed watchman, in
his perch on the topmost tower, cried out in happy accents
to the waiting folk below,--

"They come at last! I see the white-winged ships still far
down the stream. But a breeze springs up from the northward,
and the sailors are at the oars, and swift speed the
hastening vessels, as if borne on the wings of the wind.
Ride forth, O ye brave and fair, to welcome the fair and the
brave!"

Then quickly the king-folk, and the warriors, and fair
ladies, mounted their ready steeds, and gayly through the
gates of the castle they rode out river-wards. And Ute, the
noble queen-mother, went first. And the company moved in
glittering array, with flying banners, and music, and the
noisy flourish of drums, adown the rose-covered pathway
which led to the water's side. And the peerless Kriemhild
followed, with a hundred lovely maidens, all mounted on
snow-white palfreys; and Siegfried, proud and happy, on
Greyfell, rode beside her.

When the party reached the river-bank, a pleasant sight met
their eyes; for the fleet had now drawn near, and the whole
river, as far as the eye could reach, glittered with the
light reflected from the shield-hung rails and the golden
prows of the swift-coming ships. King Gunther's own vessel
led all the rest; and the king himself stood on the deck,
with the glorious Brunhild by his side. Nearer and nearer
the fresh breeze of the summer morning wafted the vessel to
the shore, where stood the waiting multitude. Softly the
golden dragon glided in to the landing-place, and quickly
was it moored to the banks; then Gunther, clad in his kingly
garments, stepped ashore, and with him his lovely queen. And
a mighty shout of welcome, and an answering shout of
gladness, seemed to rend the sky as the waiting hosts beheld
the sight. And the queen-mother Ute, and the peerless
Kriemhild, and her kingly brothers, went forward to greet
the pair. And Kriemhild took Brunhild by the hand, and
kissed her, and said,--

"Welcome, thrice welcome, dear sister! to thy home and thy
kindred and thy people, who hail thee as queen. And may thy
days be full of joyance, and thy years be full of peace!"

Then all the folk cried out their goodly greetings; and the
sound of their glad voices rang out sweet and clear in the
morning air, and rose up from the riverside, and was echoed
among the hill-slopes, and carried over the meadows and
vineyards, to the farthest bounds of Burgundy-land. And the
matchless Brunhild, smiling, returned the happy greeting;
and her voice was soft and sweet, as she said,--

"O kin of the fair Rhineland, and folk of my new-found home!
may your days be summer sunshine, and your lives lack grief
and pain; and may this hour of glad rejoicing be the type of
all hours to come!"

Then the lovely queen was seated in a golden wain which
stood in waiting for her; and Gunther mounted his own
war-steed; and the whole company made ready to ride to the
castle. Never before had so pleasant a sight been seen in
Rhineland, as that glorious array of king-folk and lords and
ladies wending from river to fortress along the rose-strewn
roadway. Foremost went the king, and by his side was
Siegfried on the radiant Greyfell. Then came the queen's
golden wain, drawn by two snow-white oxen, which were led
with silken cords by sweet-faced maidens; and in it, on an
ivory throne deep-carved with mystic runes, sat glorious
Brunhild. Behind rode the queen-mother and her kingly sons,
and frowning Hagen, and Dankwart, and Volker, and all the
earl-folk and mighty warriors of Burgundy and of Nibelungen
Land. And lastly came Kriemhild and her hundred damsels,
sitting on their snow-white steeds. And they rode past the
blooming gardens, and through the glad streets of the burgh,
and then, like a radiant vision, they entered the
castle-halls; and the lovely pageant was seen no more.

For twelve days after this, a joyful high-tide was held at
the castle; and the broad halls rang with merriment and
music and festive mirth. And games and tournaments were held
in honor of the king's return. Brave horsemen dashed here
and there at break-neck speed, or contended manfully in the
lists; lances flew thick in the air; shouts and glad cries
were heard on every hand; and for a time the most boisterous
tumult reigned. But gladness and good-feeling ruled the
hour, and no one thought of aught but merry-making and
careless joy. At length, when the days of feasting were
past, the guests bade Gunther and his queen farewell; and
each betook himself to his own home, and to whatsoever his
duty called him. And one would have thought that none but
happy days were henceforth in store for the kingly folk of
Burgundy. But alas! too soon the cruel frost and the cold
north winds nipped the buds and blossoms of the short
summer, and the days of gladness gave place to nights of
gloom.

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