Adventure IX: How Siegfried Was Sent To Worms
When they had thus fared on their way full nine days, Hagen of Troneg spake: "Now mark ye what I say. We wait too long with the tidings for Worms upon the Rhine. Our messengers should be e'en now in Burgundy."
Then spake King Gunther: "Ye have told me true, and none be more fitting for this trip than ye, friend Hagen; now ride ye to my land. None can acquaint them better with our journey home to court."
To this Hagen made answer: "I am no fit envoy. Let me play chamberlan, I'll stay with the ladies upon the flood and guard their robes, until we bring them to the Burgundian land. Bid Siegfried bear the message, he knoweth how to do it well with his mighty strength. If he refuse you the journey, then must ye in courtly and gentle wise pray him of the boon for your sister's sake."
Gunther sent now for the warrior, who came to where he stood. He spake: "Sith we be now nearing my lands at home, it behooveth me to send a messenger to the dear sister of mine and to my mother, too, that we draw near the Rhine. This I pray you, Siegfried; now do my will, that I may requite it to you ever," spake the good knight.
Siegfried, the passing bold man, however said him nay, till Gunther gan beseech him sore. He spake: "Ye must ride for my sake and for Kriemhild's too, the comely maiden, so that the royal maid requite it, as well as I."
When Siegfried heard these words, full ready was the knight. "Now bid me what ye will; naught shall be withheld. I will do it gladly for the fair maid's sake. Why should I refuse her whom I bear in heart? Whatso ye command for love of her, shall all be done."
"Then tell my mother Uta, the queen, that we be of lofty mood upon this voyage. Let my brothers know how we have fared. These tidings must ye let our friends hear, too. Hide naught from my fair sister, give her mine and Brunhild's greetings. Greet the retainers, too, and all my men. How well I have ended that for which my heart hath ever striven! And tell Ortwin, the dear nephew of mine, that he bid seats be built at Worms along the Rhine. Let my other kinsmen know that I am willed to hold with Brunhild a mighty wedding feast. And tell my sister, when she hath heard that I be come with my guests to the land, that she give fair greeting to my bride. For that I will ever render Kriemhild service."
The good Lord Siegfried soon took leave of Lady Brunhild, as beseemed him well, and of all her train; then rode he to the Rhine. Never might there be a better envoy in this world. He rode with four and twenty men-at-arms to Worms; he came without the king. When that was noised about, the courtiers all were grieved; they feared their master had been slain.
Then they dismounted from their steeds, high stood their mood. Giselher, the good young king, came soon to meet them, and Gernot his brother, too. How quickly then he spake, when he saw not Gunther at Siegfried's side: "Be welcome, Siegfried; pray let me know where ye have left the king my brother? The prowess of Brunhild, I ween, hath ta'en him from us. Great scathe had her haughty love then brought us."
"Let be this fear. My battle-comrade sendeth greetings to you and to his kin. I left him safe and sound. He sent me on ahead, that I might be his messenger with tidings hither to this land. Pray have a care, however that may hap, that I may see the queen and your sister, too, for I must let them hear what message Gunther and Brunhild have sent them. Both are in high estate."
Then spake Giselher, the youth: "Now must ye go to her, for ye have brought my much of joy. She is mickle fearful for my brother. I'll answer that the maid will see you gladly."
Then spake Sir Siegfried: "Howsoever I may serve her, that shall be gladly done, in faith. Who now will tell the ladies that I would hie me thither?"
Giselher then became the messenger, the stately man. The doughty knight spake to his mother and his sister too, when that he saw them both: "To us is come Siegfried, the hero from Netherland; him my brother Gunther hath sent hither to the Rhine. He bringeth the news of how it standeth with the king. Pray let him therefore come to court. He'll tell you the right tidings straight from Isenland."
As yet the noble ladies were acquaint with fear, but now for their weeds they sprang and dressed them and bade Sir Siegfried come to court. This he did full gladly, for he was fain to see them. Kriemhild, the noble maid, addressed him fair: "Be welcome, Sir Siegfried, most worshipful knight. Where is my brother Gunther, the noble and mighty king? We ween that we have lost him through Brunhild's strength. Woe is me, poor maid, that ever I was born."
Then spake the daring knight: "Now give me an envoy's guerdon, ye passing fair ladies, ye do weep without a cause. I do you to wit, I left him safe and sound. They have sent me with the tidings to you both. He and his bride do send you kindly greetings and a kinsman's love, O noble queen. Now leave off your weeping, they'll come full soon."
In many a day she had not heard a tale so glad. With her snow- white hem she wiped the tears from her pretty eyes and began to thank the messenger for the tidings, which now were come. Thus her great sorrow and her weeping were taken away. She bade the messenger be seated; full ready he was for this. Then spake the winsome maid: "I should not rue it, should I give you as an envoy's meed my gold. For that ye are too rich, but I will be your friend in other ways."
"And had I alone," spake he, "thirty lands, yet would I gladly receive gifts from your fair hand."
Then spake the courtly maid: "It shall be done." She bade her chamberlain go fetch the meed for tidings. Four and twenty arm- rings, set with goodly gold, she gave him as his meed. So stood the hero's mood that he would not retain them, but gave them straightway to her nearest maidens, he found within the bower. Full kindly her mother offered him her service. "I am to tell you the tale," then spake the valiant man, "of what the king doth pray you, when he cometh to the Rhine. If ye perform that, my lady, he'll ever hold you in his love. I heard him crave that ye should give fair greetings to his noble guests and grant him the boon, that ye ride to meet him out in front of Worms upon the strand. This ye are right truly admonished by the king to do."
Then spake the winsome maid: "For this am I full ready. In whatsoever wise I can serve the king, that will I not refuse; with a kinsman's love it shall be done." Her color heightened for very joy. Never was the messenger of any prince received more fair. The lady would have kissed him, had she but dared. How lovingly he parted from the dames!
The men of Burgundy then did as Siegfried counseled. Sindolt and Hunolt and Rumolt, the knight, must needs be busy with the work of putting up the seats outside of Worms upon the strand. The royal stewards, too, were found at work. Ortwin and Gere would not desist, but sent to fetch their friends on every side, and made known to them the feasting that was to be. The many comely maids arrayed themselves against the feast. Everywhere the palace and the walls were decked out for the guests. Gunther's hall was passing well purveyed for the many strangers. Thus began full merrily this splendid feast.
From every side along the highways of the land pricked now the kinsmen of these three kings, who had been called that they might wait upon those who were coming home. Then from the presses great store of costly weeds was taken. Soon tidings were brought that men saw Brunhild's kinsmen ride along. Great jostling then arose from the press of folk in the Burgundian land. Ho, what bold knights were found on either side!
Then spake fair Kriemhild: "Ye maids of mine, who would be with me at the greeting, seek out from the guests the very best of robes; then will praise and honor be given us by the guests." Then came the warriors, too, and bade the lordly saddles of pure red gold be carried forth, on which the ladies should ride from Worms down to the Rhine. Better trappings might there never be. Ho, what bright gold did sparkle on the jet-black palfreys! From their bridles there gleamed forth many a precious stone. The golden stepping-blocks were brought and placed on shining carpets for the ladies, who were gay of mood. As I have said, the palfreys now stood ready in the courtyard for the noble maids. One saw the steeds wear narrow martingales of the best of silk, of which tale might be told. Six and eighty ladies who wore fillets (64) in their hair were seen come forth. The fair ones came to Kriemhild wearing glittering robes. Then followed many a comely maid in brave attire, fifty and four from the Burgundian land. They were eke the best that might anywhere be found. Men saw them walking with their flaxen hair and shining ribbons. That which the king desired was done with zeal. They wore before the stranger knights rich cloth of silk, the best that could be found, and so many a goodly robe, which well befit their ample beauty. One found there many clothes of sable and ermine fur. Many an arm and hand was well adorned with bracelets over the silken sleeves, which they should wear. None might tell the story of this tiring to the end. Many a hand played with well-wrought girdles, rich and long, above gay colored robes, over costly ferran (65) skirts of silken cloth of Araby. In high spirits were these maids of noble birth. Clasps (66) were sewed in lovely wise upon the dress of many a comely maid. She had good cause to rue it, whose bright color did not shine in contrast to her weeds. No kingly race hath now such fair retainers. When now the lovely maids had donned the garments they should wear, there then drew near a mickle band of high-mettled champions. Together with their shields they carried many an ashen spear.