Adventure XXVIII - How The Burgundians Came To Etzel's Castle.

When the Burgundians were come to the land, old Hildebrand (148) of Berne did hear the tale, and sore it rued him. He told his lord, who bade him welcome well the lusty knights and brave. The doughty Wolfhart (149) bade fetch the steeds; then many a sturdy warrior rode with Dietrich, to where he thought to meet them on the plain where they had pitched full many a lordly tent. When Hagen of Troneg saw them riding from afar, to his lords he spake in courteous wise: "Now must ye doughty warriors rise from your seats and go to meet them, who would greet you here. Yonder cometh a fellowship I know full well, they be full speedy knights from the Amelung land, (150) whom the lord of Berne doth lead -- high-mettled warriors they. Scorn not the service that they proffer."

Then with Dietrich there alighted from the steeds, as was mickle right, many a knight and squire. Towards the strangers they went, to where they found the heroes; in friendly wise they greeted those from the Burgundian land. Ye may now hear what Sir Dietrich said to the sons of Uta, as he saw them coming toward him. Their journey rued him sore; he weened that Rudeger wist it, and had told them the tale. "Be ye welcome, fair sirs, Gunther and Giselher, Gernot and Hagen, likewise Folker and the doughty Dankwart. Know ye not that Kriemhild still mourneth sorely for the hero of the Nibelung land?"

"Let her weep long time," quoth Hagen. "He hath lain these many years, done to death. Let her love now the Hunnish king. Siegfried cometh not again, he hath long been buried."

"Let us not talk of Siegfried's wounds, but if Kriemhild still live, scathe may hap again," so spake Sir Dietrich, the lord of Berne. "Hope of the Nibelungs, guard thee well against this."

"Why should I guard me?" spake the high-born king. "Etzel sent us envoys (why should I question more?) to say that we should ride to visit him, hither to this land. My sister Kriemhild sent us many a message, too."

"Let me counsel you," quoth Hagen, "to beg Sir Dietrich and his good knights to tell you the tidings further, and to let you know the Lady Kriemhild's mood."

Then the three mighty kings, Gunther and Gernot and Sir Dietrich, too, went and spake apart. "Pray tell us, good and noble knight of Berne, what ye do know of the queen's mood?"

Answered the lord of Berne: "What more shall I tell you? Every morning I hear King Etzel's wife wail and weep with piteous mind to the mighty God of heaven over the stalwart Siegfried's death."

"That which we have heard," spake bold Folker, the fiddler, "cannot be turned aside. We must ride to court and abide what may hap to us doughty knights among the Huns."

The brave Burgundians now rode to court. In lordly wise they came after the fashion of their land. Many a brave man among the Huns wondered what manner of man Hagen of Troneg be. It was enough that men told tales, that he had slain Kriemhild's husband the mightiest of all heroes. For that cause alone much questioning about Hagen was heard at court. The knight was fair of stature, that is full true; broad he was across the breast; his hair was mixed with gray; his legs were long, and fierce his glance; lordly gait he had.

Then one bade lodge the Burgundian men, but Gunther's fellowship was placed apart. This the queen advised, who bare him much hate, and therefore men later slew the footmen in their lodgings. Dankwart, Hagen's brother, he was marshal. The king earnestly commended to him his followers, that he purvey them well and give them enow to eat; The hero of Burgundy bare them all good will. Kriemhild, the fair, went with her maids-in-waiting to where, false of mood, she greeted the Nibelungs. Giselher alone she kissed and took by the hand. That Hagen of Troneg saw, and bound his helmet tighter. "After such a greeting," quoth Hagen, "doughty knights may well bethink them. One giveth kings a greeting different from their men. We have not made a good journey to this feast." (151)

She spake: "Be welcome to him that be fain to see you; I greet you not for your kinship. Pray tell me what ye do bring me from Worms beyond the Rhine, that ye should be so passing welcome to me here?"

"Had I known," quoth Hagen, "that knights should bring you gifts, I had bethought me better, for I be rich enow to bring you presents hither to this land."

"Now let me hear the tale of where ye have put the Nibelung hoard? It was mine own, as ye well know, and ye should have brought me that to Etzel's land."

"I' faith, my Lady Kriemhild, it is many a day sith I have had the care of the Nibelung hoard. My lords bade sink it in the Rhine, and there it must verily lie till doomsday."

Then spake the queen: "I thought as much. Ye have brought full little of it hither to this land, albeit it was mine own, and I had it whilom in my care. Therefore have I all time so many a mournful day."

"The devil I'll bring you," answered Hagen. "I have enough to carry with my shield and breastplate; my helm is bright, the sword is in my hand, therefore I bring yon naught."

Then the queen spake to the knights on every side: "One may not bring weapons to the hall. Sir Knights, give them to me, I'll have them taken in charge."

"I' faith," quoth Hagen, "never shall that be done. In sooth I crave not the honor, O bounteous princess, that ye should bear my shield and other arms to the lodgings; ye be a queen. This my father did not teach me, I myself will play the chamberlain."

"Alack for my sorrows," spake Lady Kriemhild. "Why will Hagen and my brother not let their shields be taken in charge? They be warned, and wist I, who hath done this, I'd ever plan his death."

To this Sir Dietrich answered in wrath: "'Tis I, that hath warned the noble and mighty princes and the bold Hagen, the Burgundian liegeman. Go to, thou she-devil, thou durst not make me suffer for the deed."

Sore abashed was King Etzel's wife, for bitterly she feared Sir Dietrich. At once she left him, not a word she spake, but gazed with furious glance upon her foes. Two warriors then grasped each other quickly by the hand, the one was Sir Dietrich, the other Hagen. With gentle breeding the lusty hero spake: "Forsooth I rue your coming to the Huns, because of what the queen hath said."

Quoth Hagen: "There will be help for that."

Thus the two brave men talked together. King Etzel saw this, and therefore he began to query: "Fain would I know," spake the mighty king, "who yonder warrior be, whom Sir Dietrich greeteth there in such friendly wise. He carrieth high his head; whoever be his father, he is sure a doughty knight."

A liegeman of Kriemhild made answer to the king: "By birth he is from Troneg, his father hight Aldrian; however blithe he bear him here, a grim man is he. I'll let you see full well that I have told no lie."

"How shall I know that he be so fierce?" replied the king. As yet he wist not the many evil tricks that the queen should later play upon her kin, so that she let none escape from the Huns alive.

"Well know I Aldrian, for he was my vassal (152) and here at my court gained mickle praise and honor. I dubbed him knight and gave hint of my gold. The faithful Helca loved him inly. Therefore I have since known Hagen every whit. Two stately youths became my hostages, he and Walther of Spain. (153) Here they grew to manhood; Hagen I sent home again, Walther ran away with Hildegund."

He bethought him of many tales that had happed of yore. He had spied aright his friend of Troneg, who in his youth had given him yeoman service. Later in his old age he did him many a dear friend to death.