Adventure XXI - How Kriemhild Journeyed To The Huns.
Let now the messengers ride. We will do you to wit, how the queen journeyed through the lands and where Giselher and Gernot parted from her. They had served her as their fealty bade them. Down to Vergen (98) on the Danube they rode; here they gan crave leave of the queen, for they would ride again to the Rhine. Without tears these faithful kinsmen might not part. Doughty Giselher spake then to his sister: "Whenever, lady, thou shouldst need me, when aught doth trouble thee, let me but know, and I will ride in thy service to Etzel's land."
Those who were her kin she kissed upon the mouth. Lovingly they took their leave of Margrave Rudeger's men. The queen had with her many a fair-fashioned maid, full a hundred and four, that wore costly robes of rich, gay-colored silks. Many broad shields were borne close by the ladies on the road, but many a lordly warrior turned then from her.
They journeyed soon from thence down through Bavarian land. Here the tale was told that many unknown strangers had gathered there, where still a cloister standeth and where the Inn floweth into the Danube. In the town of Passau, where lived a bishop, lodgings were soon emptied and the prince's court as well, as they hurried forth to meet the strangers in the Bavarian land, where the Bishop Pilgrim (99) found fair Kriemhild. The knights of the land were little loth, when in her train they saw so many comely maids; with their eyes they courted the daughters of noble knights. Later good lodgings were given the noble guests.
With his niece the bishop rode toward Passau. When it was told the burghers of the town that Kriemhild was come, their prince's sister's child, well was she greeted by the merchants. The bishop had the hope that they would stay. Then spake Sir Eckewart: "That may not be. We must fare further down to Rudeger's land. Many knights await us, for all wot well the news."
Well wist fair Gotelind the tale. She tired her and her noble child with care. Rudeger had sent her word that it thought him good that she should cheer the mind of the queen by riding forth, with his vassals to the Enns (100) for to meet her. When this message had been given, one saw on every side the roads alive; on foot and horse they hastened to meet their guests. Now was the queen come to Efferding. (101) Enow there were from the Bavarian land who might perchance have done the guests much harm, had they robbed upon the roads, as was their wont. That had been forestalled by the lordly margrave: he led a thousand knights or more.
Now Gotelind, the wife of Rudeger, was come; with her there rode many a noble knight in lordly ;vise. When they were come across the Traun, (102) upon the plain by Enns, one saw erected huts and tents, where the guests should have their lodgings for the night. Rudeger gave the vitaille to his guests. Fair Gotelind left her lodgings far behind her; along the road there trotted many a shapely palfrey with jingling bridle. Fair was the welcome; right well was Rudeger pleased. Among those who rode to meet them on the way, on either side, in praiseworthy wise, was many a knight. They practised chivalry, the which full many a maiden saw. Nor did the service of the knights mislike the queen. When that Rudeger's liegemen met the guests, many truncheons (103) were seen to fly on high from the warriors' hands in knightly custom. As though for a prize they rode before the ladies there. This they soon gave over and many warriors greeted each other in friendly wise. Then they escorted fair Gotelind from thence to where she saw Kriemhild. Scant leisure had they who wot how to serve the ladies.
The lord of Bechelaren rode now to his wife. Little it irked the noble margravine that he was come so well and sound from the Rhine. In part her cares had given way to .joy. When she had welcomed him, he bade her dismount with the ladies of her train upon the sward. Many a noble knight bestirred him and served the ladies with eager zeal. Then Kriemhild spied the margravine standing with her meiny. No nearer she drew, but checked the palfrey with the bridle and bade them lift her quickly from the saddle. Men saw the bishop with Eckewart lead his sister's child to Gotelind. All stood aside at once. Then the exiled queen kissed Gotelind upon the mouth. Full lovingly spake Rudeger's wife: "Now well is me, dear lady, that I have ever seen with mine own eyes your charming self in these our lands. Naught liefer might hap to me in all these times."
"Now God requite you," quoth Kriemhild, "most noble Gotelind. Shall I and Botelung's (104) son remain alive and well, it may be lief to you that ye have seen me here."
Neither knew what must needs later hap. Many maidens went to meet each other in courtly wise. The warriors, too, were full ready with their service. After the greeting they sat them down upon the clover. With many they became acquaint, who were full strange to them aforetime. As it was now high noon, men bade pour out wine for the ladies. The noble meiny no longer tarried, but rode to where they found many broad pavilions; there ample service stood ready for the guests.
That night they had repose till early on the morn. Those from Bechelaren made ready for to lodge the worthy guests. So well had Rudeger planned, that little enow they lacked. The embrasures in the walls stood open, the castle at Bechelaren was opened wide. In rode the guests whom men were fain to see; the noble host bade purvey them proper easement. Most lovingly Rudeger's daughter with her meiny went to welcome the queen. There, too, stood her mother, the margrave's wife; many a high- born maid was greeted with delight. They took each other by the hand and hied them hence to a broad hall, fashioned full fair, under which the Danube flowed along. Towards the breeze they sate and held great pastime. What more they did I cannot tell, save that Kriemhild's men-at-arms were heard to grumble that they fared so slowly on their way, for much it irked them. Ho, what good knights rode with them hence from Bechelaren!
Rudeger offered them much loving service. The queen gave Gotelind's daughter twelve ruddy armlets, and raiment too, as good as any that she brought to Etzel's land. Although the Nibelung gold was taken from her, yet she did win the hearts of all that saw her with the little she still might have. Great gifts were given to the courtiers of the host. In turn the Lady Gotelind offered the guests from the Rhine worship in such friendly wise, that men found passing few of the strangers that did not wear her jewels or her lordly robes.
When they had eaten and should depart, faithful service was proffered by the lady of the house to Etzel's bride. The fair young margravine, too, was much caressed. To the queen she spake: "Whenso it thinketh you good, I know well that my dear father will gladly send me to you to the Hunnish land." How well Kriemhild marked that the maiden loved her truly.
The steeds were harnessed and led before the castle of Bechelaren and the noble queen took leave of Rudeger's wife and daughter. With a greeting many a fair maid parted too. Full seldom did they see each other since these days. From Medelick (105) the folk bare in their hands many a rich cup of gold, in which they offered wine to the strangers on the highway. Thus they made them welcome. A host dwelt there, hight Astolt, (106) who showed them the road to the Austrian land, towards Mautern (107) down the Danube. There the noble queen was later served full well. From his niece the bishop parted lovingly. How he counseled her that she should bear her well and that she should purchase honor for herself, as Helca, too, had done! Ho, what great worship she later gained among the Huns!
To the Traisem (108) they escorted hence the guests. Rudeger's men purveyed them zealously, until the Huns came riding across the land. Then the queen became acquaint with mickle honor. Near the Traisem the king of the Hunnish land did have a mighty castle, hight Zeisenmauer, (109) known far and wide. Lady Helca dwelt there aforetime and used such great virtues that it might not lightly ever hap again, unless it be through Kriemhild. She wist so how to give, that after all her sorrow she had the joy that Etzel's liegemen gave her great worship, of which she later won great store among the heroes. Etzel's rule was known far and wide, so that all time one found at his court the boldest warriors of whom men ever heard, among Christian or among paynim. They were all come with him. All time there were at his court, what may not so lightly hap again, Christian customs and also heathen faith. In whatsoever wise each lived, the bounty of the king bestowed on all enow.