Adventure XII: How Gunther Bade Siegfried To The Feasting
Now Gunther's wife thought alway: "How haughtily doth Lady Kriemhild bear her! Is not her husband Siegfried our liegeman? Long time now hath he done us little service." This she bare within her heart, but held her peace. It irked her sore that they did make themselves such strangers and that men from Siegfried's land so seldom served her. Fain would she have known from whence this came. She asked the king if it might hap that she should see Kriemhild again. Secretly she spake what she had in mind. The speech like the king but moderately well. "How might we bring them," quoth he, "hither to our land? That were impossible, they live too far away; I dare not ask them this."
To this Brunhild replied in full crafty wise: "However high and mighty a king's vassal be, yet should he not leave undone whatsoever his lord command him."
King Gunther smiled when she spake thus. However oft he saw Siegfried, yet did he not count it to him as service.
She spake: "Dear lord, for my sake help me to have Siegfried and thy sister come to this land, that we may see them here. Naught liefer might ever hap to me in truth. Whenso I think on thy sister's courtesie and her well-bred mind, how it delighteth me! How we sate together, when I first became thy wife! She may with honor love bold Siegfried."
She besought so long, till the king did speak: "Now know that I have never seen more welcome guests. Ye need but beg me gently. I will send my envoys for the twain, that they may come to see us to the Rhine."
Then spake the queen: "Pray tell me then, when ye are willed to send for them, or in what time our dear kinsmen shall come into the land. Give me also to know whom ye will send thither."
"That will I," said the prince. "I will let thirty of my men ride thither."
He had these come before him and bade them carry tidings to Siegfried's land. To their delight Brunhild did give them full lordly vesture.
Then spake the king: "Ye knights must say from me all that I bid you to mighty Siegfried and the sister of mine; this must ye not conceal: that no one in the world doth love them more, and beg them both to come to us to the Rhine. For this I and my lady will be ever at your service. At the next Midsummer's Day shall he and his men gaze upon many here, who would fain do them great honor. Give to the king Siegmund my greetings, and say that I and my kinsmen be still his friends, and tell my sister, too, that she fail not to ride to see her kin. Never did feasting beseem her better."
Brunhild and Uta and whatever ladies were found at court all commended their service to the lovely dames and the many valiant men in Siegfried's land. With the consent of the kinsmen of the king the messengers set forth. They rode as wandering knights; their horses and their trappings had now been brought them. Then they voided the land, for they had haste of the journey, whither they would fare. The king bade guard the messengers well with convoys. In three weeks they came riding into the land, to Nibelung's castle, in the marches of Norway, (72) whither they were sent. Here they found the knight. The mounts of the messengers were weary from the lengthy way.
Both Siegfried and Kriemhild were then told that knights were come, who wore such clothes as men were wont to wear at Burgundy. She sprang from a couch on which she lay to rest and bade a maiden hie her to the window. In the court she saw bold Gere standing, him and the fellowship that had been sent thither. What joyful things she there found against her sorrow of heart! She spake to the king: "Now behold where they stand, who walk in the court with the sturdy Gere, whom my brother sendeth us adown the Rhine.
Spake Then the valiant Siegfried: "They be welcome to us."
All the courtiers ran to where one saw them. Each of them in turn then spake full kindly, as best he could to the envoys. Siegmund, the lord, was right blithe of their coming. Then Gere and his men were lodged and men bade take their steeds in charge. The messengers then went hence to where Lord Siegfried sate by Kriemhild. This they did, for they had leave to go to court. The host and his lady rose from their seats at once and greeted well Gere of the Burgundian land with his fellowship, Gunther's liegemen. One bade the mighty Gere go and sit him down.
"Permit us first to give our message, afore we take our seats; let us way-worn strangers stand the while. We be come to tell you tidings which Gunther and Brunhild, with whom all things stand well, have sent you, and also what Lady Uta, your mother, sendeth. Giselher, the youth, and Sir Gernot, too, and your dearest kin, they have sent us hither and commend their service to you from out the Burgundian land."
"Now God requite them," quoth Siegfried; "I trow them much troth and good, as one should to kinsfolk; their sister doth the same. Ye must tell us more, whether our dear friends at home be of good cheer? Since we have been parted from them, hath any done amiss to my lady's kinsmen? That ye must let me know. If so, I'll ever help them bear it in duty bound, until their foes must rue my serviceú"
Then spake the Margrave Gere, a right good knight: "They are in every virtue of such right high mood, that they do bid you to a feasting by the Rhine. They would fain see you, as ye may not doubt, and they do beg my lady that she come with you, when the winter hath taken an end. They would see you before the next Midsummer's Day."
Quoth the stalwart Siegfried: "That might hardly hap."
Then answered Gere from the Burgundian land: "Your mother Uta, Gernot, and Giselher have charged you, that ye refuse them not. I hear daily wail, that ye do live so far away. My Lady Brunhild and all her maids be fain of the tidings, if that might be that they should see you again; this would raise their spirits high." These tidings thought fair Kriemhild good.
Gere was of their kin; the host bade him be seated and had wine poured out for the guests; no longer did they tarry. Now Siegmund was come to where he saw the messengers. The lord said to the Burgundians in friendly wise: "Be welcome, Sir Knights, ye men of Gunther. Sith now Siegfried, my son, hath won Kriemhild to wife, one should see you more often here in this our land, if ye would show your kinship."
They answered that they would gladly come, when so he would. Of their weariness they were cased with joyous pastime. Men bade the messengers be seated and brought them food, of which Siegfried had them given great store. They must needs stay there full nine days, till at last the doughty knights made plaint, that they durst not ride again to their land.
Meantime king Siegfried had sent to fetch his friends; he asked them what they counseled, whether or no they should to the Rhine. "My kinsman Gunther and his kin have sent to fetch me for a feasting. Now I would go full gladly, but that his land doth lie too far away. They beg Kriemhild, too, that she journey with me. Now advise, dear friends, in what manner she shall ride thither. Though I must harry for them through thirty lands, yet would Siegfried's arm fain serve them there."
Then spake his warriors: "And ye be minded to journey to the feasting, we will advise what ye must do. Ye should ride to the Rhine with a thousand knights, then can ye stand with worship there in Burgundy land."
Up spake then Lord Siegmund of Netherland: "Will ye to the feasting, why make ye it not known to me? If ye scorn it not, I will ride thither with you and will take a hundred knights, wherewith to swell your band."
"And will ye ride with us, dear father mine," quoth brave Siegfried, "glad shall I be of that. Within a twelfth night I will quit my lands."
All who craved it were given steeds and vesture, too.
Since now the noble king was minded for the journey, men bade the good and speedy envoys ride again. He sent word to his wife's kindred on the Rhine, that he would full fain be at their feasting. Siegfried and Kriemhild, as the tale doth tell, gave the messengers such store of gifts that their horses could not bear them to their native land. A wealthy man was he. They drove their sturdy sumpters merrily along.
Siegfried and Siegmund arrayed their men. Eckewart, the margrave, that very hour bade seek out ladies' robes, the best that were at hand or might be found throughout all Siegfried's land. Men gan prepare the saddles and the shields. To knights and ladies who should go hence with him was given whatso they would, so that they wanted naught. He brought to his kinsfolk many a lordly stranger.
The messengers pricked fast upon their homeward way. Now was Gere, the knight, come to Burgundy and was greeted fair. Then they dismounted from their steeds and from the nags in front of Gunther's hall. Young and old did hie them, as people do, to ask the tidings. Quoth the good knight: "When I tell them to the king, thou be at hand a hear."
With his fellowship he went to where he found King Gunther. For very joy the king sprang from his seat. Fair Brunhild cried them mercy, that they were come so quick. Gunther spake to the envoys: "How fareth Siegfried, from whom so much of gladness hath happed to me?"
Brave Gere spake: "He blushed for joy, he and your sister; no truer tidings did ever any man send to friends, than the Lord Siegfried and his father, too, have sent to you."
Then to the margrave spake the noble queen: "Now tell me, cometh Kriemhild to us? Hath the fair still kept the graces which she knew how to use?"
"She cometh to you surely," quoth Gere, the knight.
Then Uta bade the messenger come quickly to her. By her question one might note full well that she was fain to hear if Kriemhild still were well. He told how he had found her and that she would shortly come. Nor were the gifts concealed by them at court, which Siegfried gave them, gold and vesture; these they brought for the vassals of the three kings to see. For their passing great bounty men gave them thanks.
"He may lightly give great gifts," spake then Hagen; "he could not squander all his wealth, and he should live for aye. His hand hath closed upon the hoard of the Nibelungs. Ho, let him only come to the Burgundian land!"
All the courtiers were glad that they should come. Early and late the men of the three kings were busy. Many benches they gan raise for the folk. The valiant Hunolt and the knight Sindolt had little rest. All time they had to oversee the stewards and the butlers and raise many a bench. Ortwin helped them, too, at this, and Gunther said them thanks. Rumolt, the master cook, how well he ruled his underlings! Ho, how many a broad kettle, pot, and pan they had! They made ready the vitaille for those who were coming to the land.