Part 6 out of 6
wounds. Thither both Etzel and Kriemhild went; the land was
theirs and so their band waxed large. He spake to the strangers:
"Pray tell me, what ye will of me? Ye ween to gain here peace,
but that may hardly be. For damage as great as ye have done me,
in my son and in my many kinsmen, whom ye have slain, peace and
pardon shall be denied you quite; it shall not boot you aught,
an' I remain alive."
To this King Gunther answered: "Dire need constrained us; all my
men-at-arms lay dead before thy heroes in the hostel. How did I
deserve such pay? I came to thee in trust, I weened thou wast my
Young Giselher of Burgundy likewise spake: "Ye men of Etzel, who
still do live, what do ye blame me with? What have I done to
you, for I rode in friendly wise into this land of yours."
Quoth they: "From thy friendliness this castle is filled with
grief and the land as well. We should not have taken it ill, in
sooth, if thou hadst never come from Worms beyond the Rhine.
Thou and thy brothers have filled this land with orphans."
Then spake Knight Giselher in angry mood: "And ye will lay aside
this bitter hate and make your peace with us stranger knights,
'twere best for either side. We have not merited at all what
Etzel here doth do us."
Then spake the host to his guests: "Unlike are my wrongs and
yours. The mickle grievance from the loss and then the shame,
which I have taken here, are such that none of you shall e'er go
At this mighty Gernot spake to the king: "May God then bid you
act in merciful wise. Slay, if ye will, us homeless knights, but
let us first descend to you into the open court. That will make
to you for honor. Let be done quickly whatever shall hap to us.
Ye have still many men unscathed, who dare well encounter us and
bereave us storm-weary men of life. How long must we warriors
undergo these toils?"
King Etzel's champions had nigh granted this boon and let them
leave the hall, but Kriemhild heard it and sorely it misliked
her. Therefore the wanderers were speedily denied the truce.
"Not so, ye Hunnish men. I counsel you in true fealty, that ye
do not what ye have in mind, and let these murderers leave the
hall, else must your kinsmen suffer a deadly fall. Did none of
them still live, save Uta's sons, my noble brothers, and they
came forth into the breeze and cooled their armor rings, ye would
all be lost. Bolder heroes were never born into the world."
Then spake young Giselher: "Fair sister mine, full evil was my
trust, when thou didst invite me from across the Rhine hither to
this land, to this dire need. How have I merited death here from
the Huns? I was aye true to thee; never did I do thee wrong, and
in the hope that thou wast still my friend, dear sister mine,
rode I hither to thy court. It cannot be but that thou grant us
"I will not grant you mercy, merciless is my mood. Hagen of
Troneg hath done me such great wrongs that it may never be
amended, the while I live. Ye must all suffer for this deed,"
so spake King Etzel's wife. "And ye will give me Hagen alone as
hostage, I will not deny that I will let you live, for ye be my
brothers and children of one mother, and will counsel peace with
these heroes that be here."
"Now God in heaven forbid," spake Gernot; "were there here a
thousand of us, the clansmen of thy kin, we'd rather all lie
dead, than give thee a single man as hostage. Never shall this
"We all must die," spake then Giselher, "but none shall hinder
that we guard us in knightly wise. We be still here, if any list
to fight us; for never have I failed a friend in fealty."
Then spake bold Dankwart (it had not beseemed him to have held
his peace): "Forsooth my brother Hagen standeth not alone. It
may yet rue those who here refuse the truce. I'll tell you of a
truth, we'll make you ware of this."
Then spake the queen: "Ye full lusty heroes, now go nigher to the
stairs and avenge my wrongs. For this I will ever serve you, as
I should by right. I'll pay Hagen well for his overweening
pride. Let none at all escape from the house, and I will bid the
hall be set on fire at all four ends. Thus all my wrongs shall
be well avenged."
Soon were King Etzel's champions ready still stood without into
the hall with blows and shots. Mickle waxed the din, yet the
lordings and their liegemen would not part. For very fealty they
could not leave each other. Etzel's queen then bade the hall be
set on fire, and thus they racked the bodies of the knights with
fire and flame. Fanned by the breeze, the whole house burst into
flames full soon. I ween, no folk did ever gain such great
distress. Enow within cried out: "Alack this plight! We would
much rather die in stress of battle. It might move God to pity,
how we all are lost! The queen now wreaketh monstrously on us
Quoth one of them within: "We must all lie dead. What avail us
now the greetings which the king did send us? Thirst from this
great heat giveth me such dole, that soon, I ween, my life must
ebb away in anguish."
Then spake Hagen of Troneg: "Ye noble knights and good, let him
whom pangs of thirst constrain, drink here this blood. In such
great heat, 'tis better still than wine. We can purvey us at
this time none better."
One of the warriors hied him then to where he found a corpse, and
knelt him down beside the wound; then he unbound his helmet and
began to drink the flowing blood. However little wont to such a
drink, him thought it passing good: "Sir Hagen, now God requite
you," spake the weary man, "that I have drunk so well at your
advice; seldom hath better wine been proffered me. And I live
yet a while, I shall ever be your friend."
When now the others heard this, it thought them good, and soon
there were many more that drank the blood. From this the body of
each gained much of strength; but many a stately dame paid dear
for this through the loss of loving kin. Into the hall the fire
fell thick and fast upon them, but with their shields they turned
it from them to the ground. Both the heat and the smoke did hurt
them sore; in sooth, I ween, that nevermore will such anguish hap
Again Hagen of Troneg spake: "Stand by the sides of the hall.
Let not the firebrands fall upon your helmet bands, but stamp
them with your feet down deeper in the blood. Forsooth it is an
evil feast which the queen doth give us here."
In such dire woes the night did wear away at last, and still the
brave minstrel and his comrade Hagen stood before the hall,
a-leaning on their shields. More scathe they awaited from those
of Etzel's band. Then spake the fiddler: "Now go we into the
hall. Then the Huns will ween, that we all be dead from the
torture that hath been done us here. They'll yet see us go to
meet them in the strife."
Now spake Giselher of Burgundy, the youth: "I trow the day
dawneth, a cooling wind doth blow. May God in heaven let us live
to see a liefer time, for my sister Kriemhild hath given us here
an evil feast."
Again one spake: "I see the day . Sith we cannot hope for better
things, so arm you, heroes, think on your life. Certes, King
Etzel's wife will come to meet us soon again."
The host weened well, that his guests were dead from their toil
and the pangs of fire; but yet within the hall six hundred brave
men, as good as any knight that king ever gained, were still
alive. Those set to guard the strangers had well seen that the
guests still lived, despite the damage and the dole that had been
done both to the lordings and their men. In the hall one saw
them stand full safe and sound. They then told Kriemhild that
many were still alive, but the queen replied: "It could never be,
that any should have lived through such stress of fire. Rather
will I believe that all lie dead."
The lordings and their men would still fain have lived, had any
listed to do them mercy, but they could find none among those of
the Hunnish land. So with full willing hand they avenged their
dying. On this same day, towards morning, men proffered them a
fierce attack as greeting, which brought the champions in stress
again. Many a stout spear was hurled upon them, but the bold and
lordly warriors warded them in knightly wise. High rose the mood
of Etzel's men at the thought that they should earn Queen
Kriemhild's gold. Thereto they were minded to perform whatso the
King did bid them. Many of them because of this must soon needs
gaze on death. Of pledges and of gifts one might tell wonders.
She bade the ruddy gold be carried forth on shields and gave it
to whomsoever craved it and would take it. Certes, greater wage
was nevermore given against foes. To the hall a mickle force of
well-armed warriors marched.
Then cried bold Folker: "We're here again, ye see. Never saw I
heroes more gladly come to fight than these that have taken the
king's gold to do us scathe."
Then enow did call: "Nearer, heroes, nearer, that we may do
betimes what we must bring to an end. Here dieth none that is
not doomed to die."
Soon their shields were seen sticking full of darts that had been
thrown. What more can I say? Full twelve hundred men tried hard
to match them, surging back and forth. The strangers cooled well
their mood with wounds. None might part the strife, and so blood
was seen to flow from mortal wounds, many of which were dealt.
Each one was heard to wail for friends. All the great king's
doughty warriors died, and loving kinsmen mourned them passing
How Margrave Rudeger Was Slain.
The strangers had done full well at dawn. Meanwhile Gotelind's
husband came to court. Bitterly faithful Rudeger wept when he
saw the grievous wounds on either side. "Woe is me," quoth the
champion, "that I was ever born, sith none may stay this mickle
grief! However fain I would make for peace, the king will not
consent, for he seeth ever more and more the sufferings of his
Then the good Knight Rudeger sent to Dietrich, if perchance they
might turn the fate of the high-born kings. The king of Berne
sent answer: "Who might now forfend? King Etzel will let none
part the strife."
Then a Hunnish warrior, that saw Rudeger stand with weeping eyes,
and many tears had he shed, spake to the queen: "Now behold how
he doth stand, that hath the greatest power at Etzel's court and
whom both lands and people serve. Why have so many castles been
given to Rudeger, of which he doth hold such store from the king
in fief? Not one sturdy stroke hath he dealt in all this strife.
Methinks, he recketh not how it fare here at court, sith he hath
his will in full. Men say of him, he be bolder than any other
wight. Little hath that been seen in these parlous (1) days."
Sad in heart the faithful vassal gazed at him whom he heard thus
speak. Him-thought: "Thou shalt pay for this. Thou sayest, I be
a craven, and hast told thy tale too loud at court."
His fist he clenched, then ran he at him and smote the Hunnish
man so mightily that he lay dead at his feet full soon. Through
this King Etzel's woe grew greater.
"Away, thou arrant coward," cried Rudeger, "forsooth I have enow
of grief and pain, How dost thou taunt me, that I fight not here?
Certes, I have good cause to hate the strangers, and would have
done all in my power against them, had I not led the warriors
hither. Of a truth I was their safeguard to my master's land.
Therefore the hand of me, wretched man, may not strive against
Then spake Etzel, the noble king, to the margrave: "How have ye
helped us, most noble Rudeger! We have so many fey (2) in the
land, that we have no need of more. Full evil have ye done."
At this the noble knight made answer: "Forsooth he grieved my
mood and twitted me with the honors and the goods, such store of
which I have received from thy hand. This hath cost the liar
The queen, too, was come and had seen what fortuned to the Huns
through the hero's wrath. Passing sore she bewailed it; her eyes
grew moist as she spake to Rudeger: "How have we deserved that ye
should increase the sorrows of the king and me? Hitherto ye have
told us, that for our sake ye would risk both life and honor. I
heard full many warriors accord to you the palm. Let me mind you
of your fealty and that ye swore, when that ye counseled me to
Etzel, good knight and true, that ye would serve me till one of
us should die. Never have I, poor woman, had such great need of
"There's no denying that I swore to you, my lady, for your sake
I'd risk both life and honor, but I did not swear that I would
lose my soul. 'Twas I that bade the high-born lordings to this
Quoth she: "Bethink thee, Rudeger, of thy great fealty, of thy
constancy, and of thine oaths, that thou wouldst ever avenge mine
injuries and all my woes."
Said the margrave: "Seldom have I denied you aught."
Mighty Etzel, too, began implore; upon their knees they sank
before the knight. Men saw the noble margrave stand full sad.
Pitifully the faithful warrior spake: "Woe is me, most wretched
man, that I have lived to see this day. I must give over all my
honors, my fealty, and my courtesie, that God did bid me use.
Alas, great God of heaven, that death will not turn this from me!
I shall act basely and full evil, whatever I do or leave undone.
But if I give over both, then will all people blame me. Now may
he advise me, who hath given me life."
Still the king and the queen, too, begged unceasingly. Through
this warriors must needs thereafter lose their lives at Rudeger's
hands, when the hero also died. Ye may well hear it now, that he
deported him full pitifully. He wist that it would bring him
scathe and monstrous woe. Gladly would he have refused the king
and queen. He feared full sore that if he slew but one of the
strangers, the world would bear him hate.
Then the brave man addressed him to the king: "Sir King, take
back again all that I have from you, my land with its castles,
let not a whit remain to me. On foot will I wander into other
At this King Etzel spake: "Who else should help me then? I'll
give thee the land and all its castles, as thine own, that thou
mayst avenge me on my foes. Thou shalt be a mighty king at
Then answered Rudeger: "How shall I do this deed? I bade them to
my house and home; in friendly wise I offered them both food and
drink and gave them gifts. How may I counsel their death?
People will lightly ween, that I be craven. No service of mine
have I refused these noble lordings and their men. Now I rue the
kinship I have gained with them. I gave my daughter to Giselher,
the knight; to none in all the world could she have been better
given, for courtesie and honor, for fealty and wealth. Never
have I seen so young a prince of such right courteous mind."
Then Kriemhild spake again: "Most noble Rudeger, take pity on our
griefs, on mine and on the king's. Bethink thee well, that king
did never gain such baneful guests."
To the noble dame the margrave spake: "Rudeger's life must pay
to-day for whatsoever favors ye and my lord have shown me.
Therefore must I die; no longer may it be deferred. I know full
well, that my castles and my lands will be voided for you to-day
through the hand of one of these men. To your mercy I commend my
wife and children and the strangers (3) who be at Bechelaren."
"Now God requite thee, Rudeger," spake the king, and both he and
the queen grew glad. "Thy people shall be well commended to our
care. For mine own weal I trust thou too shalt go unscathed."
Etzel's bride began to weep. Then body and soul he staked upon
the venture. He spake: "I must perform what I have vowed. Alas
for my friends, whom I am loth to fight."
Men saw him go sadly from the presence of the king. Close at
hand he found his warriors standing. He spake: "Ye must arm you
all, my men, for, alas, I must needs encounter the bold
They bade the squires run nimbly to where lay their arms.
Whether it were helm or buckler, 'twas all brought forth to them
by their meiny. Later the proud strangers heard told baleful
tales. Rudeger was now armed, and with him five hundred men;
thereto he gained twelve champions, who would fain win renown in
the stress of battle. They wist not that death drew nigh them.
Then Rudeger was seen to march with helmet donned. The
margrave's men bare keen-edged swords, and their bright shields
and broad upon their arms. This the fiddler saw; greatly he rued
the sight. When young Giselher beheld his lady's father walk
with his helm upon his head, how might he know what he meant
thereby, save that it portended good? Therefore the noble prince
waxed passing merry of mood.
"Now well is me of such kinsmen," spake Knight Giselher, "whom we
have won upon this journey; from my wife we shall reap much
profit here. Lief it is to me, that this betrothal hath taken
"I know not whence ye take your comfort," spake then the
minstrel; "when have ye seen so many heroes walk with helmets
donned and swords in hand, for the sake of peace? Rudeger doth
think to win his castles and his lands in fight with us."
Or ever the fiddler had ended his speech, men saw the noble
Rudeger before the house. At his feet he placed his trusty
shield, and now both service and greeting he must needs refuse
his friends. Into the hall the noble margrave called: "Ye
doughty Nibelungs, now guard you well on every side. Ye were to
profit by me, now I shall bring you scathe. Aforetime we were
friends, but of this troth I now would fain be rid."
The hard-pressed men were startled at this tale, for none gained
aught of joy, that he whom they did love would now fain fight
them. From their foes they had already suffered mickle stress of
war. "Now God of heaven forbid," spake Gunther, the knight,
"that ye should give over your love of us and your great fealty,
on which we counted of a truth. Better things I trow of you,
than that ye should ever do this deed."
"Alas, I cannot give it over, but must fight you, for I have
vowed it. Now ward you, brave heroes, and ye love your life.
King Etzel's wife would not release me from mine oath."
"Ye declare this feud too late," spake the highborn king. "Now
may God requite you, most noble Rudeger, for all the love and
fealty that ye have shown us, if ye would only act more kindly at
the end. I and my kinsmen, we ought ever to serve you for the
noble gifts ye gave us, when ye brought us hither faithfully to
Etzel's land. Now, noble Rudeger, think on this."
"How gladly would I grant you," spake Knight Rudeger, "that I
might weigh out my gifts for you with full measure, as willingly
as I had hoped, if I never should be blamed on that account."
"Turn back, noble Rudeger," spake then Gernot, "for host did
never give his guests such loving cheer as ye did us. This shall
profit you well, and we remain alive."
"Would to God," spake Rudeger, "most noble Gernot, that ye were
on the Rhine and I were dead with passing honor, sith I must now
encounter you! Never did friends act worse to heroes."
"Now God requite you, Sir Rudeger," answered Gernot, "for your
passing rich gifts. Your death doth rue me, if such knightly
virtues shall be lost with you. Here I bear your sword that ye
gave me, good knight and true. It hath never failed me in all
this need. Many a knight fell dead beneath its edges. It is
bright and steady, glorious and good; nevermore, I ween, will
warrior give so rich a gift. And will ye not turn back, but come
to meet us, and slay aught of the friends I still have here, with
your own sword will I take your life. Then will ye rue me,
Rudeger, ye and your high-born wife."
"Would to God, Sir Gernot, that this might come to pass, that all
your will might here be done, and that your kinsmen escaped
unscathed! Then both my daughter and my wife may trust you well,
Then of the Burgundians there spake fair Uta's son: "Why do ye
so, Sir Rudeger? Those that be come with us, do all like you
well. Ye encounter us in evil wise; ye wish to make your fair
daughter a widow far too soon. If ye and your warriors match me
now with strife, how right unkindly do ye let it appear, that I
trust you well above all other men and therefore won me your
daughter to wife."
"Think on your fealty, most noble and high-born king. And God
let you escape," so spake Rudeger, "let the maiden suffer not for
me. For your own virtue's sake, vouchsafe her mercy."
"That I should do by right," spake the youthful Giselher, "but if
my noble kinsmen here within must die through you, then my
steadfast friendship for you and for your daughter must be
"Now may God have mercy on us," answered the valiant man. Then
they raised their shields, as though they would hence to fight
the guests in Kriemhild's hall, but Hagen cried full loud adown
the steps. "Pray tarry awhile, most noble Rudeger," so spake
Hagen; "I and my lords would fain have further parley, as doth
befit our need. What can the death of us wanderers avail King
Etzel? I stand here in a fearful plight; the shield that Lady
Gotelind gave me to bear hath been cut to pieces by the Huns. I
brought it with friendly purpose into Etzel's land. O that God
in heaven would grant, that I might bear so good a shield as that
thou hast in thy hand, most noble Rudeger! Then I should no
longer need a hauberk in the fray."
"Gladly would I serve thee with my shield, durst I offer it
before Kriemhild. Yet take it, Hagen, and bear it on thine arm.
Ho, if thou couldst only wield it in the Burgundian land!"
When he so willingly offered to give the shield, enow of eyes
grew red with scalding tears. 'T was the last gift that ever
Rudeger of Bechelaren gave to any knight. However fierce Hagen,
and however stern of mood, the gift did touch him, which the good
hero, so near to death, had given. Many a noble knight gan mourn
"Now God in heaven requite you, most noble Rudeger. Your like
will nevermore be found, who giveth homeless warriors such lordly
gifts. God grant that your courtesie may ever live." Again
Hagen spake: "Woe is me of these tales, we had so many other
griefs to bear. Let complaint be made to heaven, if we must
fight with friends."
Quoth the margrave: "Inly doth this grieve me."
"Now God requite you, for the gift, most noble Rudeger. Howso
these high-born warriors deport them toward you, my hand shall
never touch you in the fight, and ye slew them all from the
Courteously the good Sir Rudeger bowed him low. On every side
they wept, that none might soothe this pain of heart. That was a
mighty grief. In Rudeger would die the father of all knightly
Then Folker, the minstrel, spake from out the hall: "Sith my
comrade Hagen hath made his peace with you, ye shall have it just
as steadfastly from my hand, for well ye earned it, when we came
into this land. Most noble margrave, ye shall be mine envoy,
too. The margravine gave me these ruddy arm rings, that I should
wear them here at the feasting. These ye may yourself behold,
that ye may later be my witness."
"Now God of heaven grant," spake Rudeger, "that the margravine
may give you more! I'll gladly tell these tales to my dear love,
if I see her in health again. Of this ye shall not doubt."
When he had vowed him this, Rudeger raised high his shield. No
longer he bided, but with raging mood, like a berserker, he
rushed upon the guests. Many a furious blow the noble margrave
struck. The twain, Folker and Hagen, stepped further back, as
they had vowed to him afore. Still he found standing by the
tower such valiant men, that Rudeger began the fight with anxious
doubts. With murderous intent Gunther and Gernot let him in,
good heroes they! Giselher stood further back, which irked him
sore, in truth. He voided Rudeger, for still he had hope of
life. Then the margrave's men rushed at their foes; in knightly
wise one saw them follow their lord. In their hands they bare
their keen-edged swords, the which cleft there many a helm and
lordly shield. The tired warriors dealt the men of Bechelaren
many a mighty blow, that cut smooth and deep through the shining
mail, down to the very quick.
Rudeger's noble fellowship was now come quite within. Into the
fight Folker and Hagen sprang anon. They gave no quarter, save
to one man alone. Through the hands of the twain the blood
streamed down from the helmets. How grimly rang the many swords
within! The shield plates sprang from their fastenings, and the
precious stones, cut from the shields, fell down into the gore.
So grimly they fought, that men will never do the like again.
The lord of Bechelaren raged to and fro, as one who wotteth how
to use great prowess in the fray. Passing like to a worshipful
champion and a bold did Rudeger bear him on that day. Here stood
the warriors, Gunther and Gernot, and smote many a hero dead in
the fray. Giselher and Dankwart, the twain, recked so little,
that they brought full many a knight to his last day of life.
Full well did Rudeger make appear that he was strong enow, brave
and well-armed. Ho, what knights he slew! This a Burgundian
espied; perforce it angered him, and thus Sir Rudeger's death
The stalwart Gernot accosted the hero; to the margrave he spake:
"It appeareth, ye will not leave my men alive, most noble
Rudeger. That irketh me beyond all measure, no longer can I bear
the sight. So may your present work you harm, sith ye have taken
from me such store of friends. Pray address you unto me, most
noble man and brave, your gift shall be paid for as best I can."
Or ever the margrave could reach his foe, bright armor rings must
needs grow dull with blood. Then at each other sprang these
honor-seeking men. Either gan guard him against mighty wounds.
So sharp were their swords, that naught might avail against them.
Then Rudeger, the knight, smote Gernot a buffet through his
helmet, the which was as hard as flint, so that the blood gushed
forth. But this the bold knight and good repaid eftsoon. High
in his hand he now poised Rudeger's gift, and though wounded unto
death, he smote him a stroke through his good and trusty shield
down to his helmet band. And so fair Gotelind's husband was done
to death. Certes, so rich a gift was never worse repaid. So
fell alike both Gernot and Rudeger, slain in the fray, through
each other's hand.
Then first waxed Hagen wroth, when he saw the monstrous scathe.
Quoth the hero of Troneg: "Evil hath it fared with us. In these
two men we have taken a loss so great that neither their land nor
people will e'er recover from the blow. Rudeger's champions must
answer to us homeless men."
"Alas for my brother, who hath here been done to death. What
evil tales I hear all time! Noble Rudeger, too, must ever rue
me. The loss and the grievous wounds are felt on either side."
When Lord Giselher saw his betrothed's father dead, those within
the hall were forced to suffer need. Fiercely death sought his
fellowship; not one of those of Bechelaren escaped with life.
Gunther and Giselher and Hagen, too, Dankwart and Folker, the
right good knights, went to where they found the two men lying.
Then by these heroes tears of grief were shed.
"Death doth sorely rob us," spake Giselher, the youth. "Now give
over your weeping and go we bite the breeze, that the mailed
armor of us storm-weary men may cool. Certes, I ween, that God
in heaven vouchsafeth us no more to live."
This champion was seen to sit and that to lean against the wall,
but all again were idle. Rudeger's heroes lay still in death.
The din had died away; the hush endured so long, it vexed King
"Alack for such services," spake the queen. "They be not so
true, that our foes must pay with their life at Rudeger's hands.
I trow, he doth wish to lead them back to the Burgundian land.
What booteth it, King Etzel, that we have given him whatso he
would? The knight hath done amiss, he who should avenge us, doth
make his peace."
To this Folker, the full dapper knight, made answer: "This is not
true, alas, most noble queen. Durst I give the lie to such a
high-born dame, then had ye most foully lied against Rudeger. He
and his champions be cozened in this peace. So eagerly he did
what the king commanded, that he and all his fellowship lie here
in death. Now look around you, Kriemhild, to see whom ye may now
command. The good Knight Rudeger hath served you to his end.
And ye will not believe the tale, we'll let you see."
To their great grief 'twas done; they bare the slain hero to
where the king might see him. Never had there happed to Etzel's
men a grief so great. When they saw the margrave borne forth
dead, no scribe might write or tell the frantic grief of men and
women, which there gan show itself from dole of heart. King
Etzel's sorrow waxed so great that the mighty king did voice his
woe of heart, as with a lion's roar. Likewise did his queen.
Beyond all measure they bewailed the good Knight Rudeger's death.
(1) "Parlous", older English for 'perilous'.
(2) "Fey", 'doomed to death', here in the sense of 'already
slain'. See Adventure V, note 2.
(3) "Strangers", i.e., those who are sojourning there far from
How All Sir Dietrich's Warriors Were Slain.
On every side one heard a grief so great, that the palace and the
towers rang with the wailing. Then a liegeman of Dietrich heard
it, too. how quickly he gan haste him with the fearful tales! To
the lording he spake: "Hear, my lord, Sir Dietrich, however much
I've lived to see till now, yet heard I never such a monstrous
wail, as now hath reached mine ears. I ween, King Etzel himself
hath come to grief. How else might all be so distressed? One
of the twain, the king or Kriemhild, hath sorely been laid low
by the brave strangers in their wrath. Full many a dapper
warrior weepeth passing sore."
Then spake the Knight of Borne: "My faithful men, now haste ye
not too fast. Whatever the homeless warriors may have done, they
be now in mickle need. Let it profit them, that I did offer them
At this brave Wolfhart spake: "I will hie me hence and ask for
tidings of what they have done, and will tell you then, my most
dear lord, just as I find it, what the wail may be."
Then spake Sir Dietrich: "Where one awaiteth wrath, and rude
questions then are put, this doth lightly sadden the lofty mood
of warriors. In truth, I will not, Wolfhart, that ye ask these
questions of them."
Then he told Helfrich (1) to hasten thither speedily, and bade
him find from Etzel's men or from the guests themselves, what
there had fortuned, for men had never seen from folks so great a
grief. The messenger gan ask: "What hath here been done?"
At this one among them spake: "Whatever of joy we had in the
Hunnish land hath passed away. Here lieth Rudeger, slain by the
Burgundians' hands; and of those who were come with him, not one
hatch 'scaped alive."
Sir Helfrich could never have had a greater dole. Sorely
weeping, the envoy went to Dietrich. Never was he so loth to
tell a tale. "What have ye found for us?" quoth Dietrich. "Why
weep ye so sore, Knight Helfrich?"
Then spake the noble champion: "I have good cause for wail. The
Burgundians have slain the good Sir Rudeger."
At this the hero of Berne made answer: "Now God forbid. That
were a fearful vengeance, over which the foul fiend would gloat.
Wherewith hath Rudeger deserved this at their hands? I know full
well, forsooth, he is the strangers' friend."
To this Wolfhart answered: "And have they done this deed, 'twill
cost them all their lives. 'Twould be our shame, should we let
this pass, for of a truth the hand of the good knight Rudeger
hath served us much and oft."
The lord of the Amelungs bade learn it better. In bitter grief
he sate him at a window and begged Hildebrand to hie him to the
strangers, that he might find from them what had been done. The
storm-brave warrior, Master Hildebrand, (2) bare neither shield
nor weapon in his hand. In courtly wise he would hie him to the
strangers; for this he was chided by his sister's son. Grim
Wolfhart spake: "And ye will go thither so bare, ye will never
fare without upbraiding; ye must return with shame. But if ye go
there armed, each will guard against that well."
Then the wise man armed him, through the counsel of youth. Or
ever he was ware, all Dietrich's warriors had donned their
war-weeds and held in their hands their swords. Loth it was to
the hero, and he would have gladly turned their mind. He asked
whither they would go.
"We will hence with you. Perchance Hagen of Troneg then will
dare the less to address him to you with scorn, which full well
he knoweth how to use." When he heard this, the knight
vouchsafed them for to go.
Soon brave Folker saw the champions of Berne, the liegemen of
Dietrich, march along, well armed, begirt with swords, while in
their hands they bare their shields. He told it to his lords
from out the Burgundian land. The fiddler spake: "Yonder I see
the men of Dietrich march along in right hostile wise, armed
cap-a-pie. They would encounter us; I ween 'twill go full ill
with us strangers."
Meanwhile Sir Hildebrand was come. Before his feet he placed his
shield, and gan ask Gunther's men: "Alas, good heroes, what had
Rudeger done you? My Lord Dietrich hath sent me hither to you to
say, that if the hand of any among you hath slain the noble
margrave, as we are told, we could never stand such mighty dole."
Then spake Hagen of Troneg: "The tale is true. How gladly could
I wish, that the messenger had told you false, for Rudeger's
sake, and that he still did live, for whom both man and wife may
well ever weep."
When they heard aright that he was dead, the warriors made wail
for him, as their fealty bade them. Over the beards and chins of
Dietrich's champions the tears were seen to run. Great grief had
happened to them.
Siegstab, (3) the Duke of Berne, then spake: "Now hath come to an
end the cheer, that Rudeger did give us after our days of dole.
The joy of all wayfaring folk lieth slain by you, sir knights."
Then spake the Knight Wolfwin (4) of the Amelungs: "And I saw
mine own father dead to-day, I should not make greater dole, than
for his death. Alas, who shall now comfort the good margrave's
Angry of mood Knight Wolfhart spake: "Who shall now lead the
warriors to so many a fight, as the margrave so oft hath done?
Alas, most noble Rudeger, that we should lose thee thus!"
Wolfbrand (5) and Helfrich and Helmnot, too, with all their men
bewailed his death. For sighing Hildebrand might no longer ask a
whit. He spake: "Sir knights, now do what my lord hath sent you
here to do. Give us the corse of Rudeger from out the hall, in
whom our joy hath turned to grief, and let us repay to him the
great fealty he hath shown to us and to many another man. We,
too, be exiles, just as Rudeger, the knight. Why do ye let us
wait thus? Let us bear him away, that we may yet requite the
knight in death. More justly had we done it, when he was still
Then spake King Gunther: "Never was there so good a service as
that, which a friend doth do to a friend after his death. When
any doeth that, I call it faithful friendship. Ye repay him but
rightly, for much love hath he ever shown you."
"How long shall we still beseech?" spake Knight Wolfhart. "Sith
our best hope hath been laid low in death by you, and we may no
longer have him with us, let us bear him hence to where the
warrior may be buried."
To this Folker made answer: "None will give him to you. Fetch ye
him from the hall where the warrior lieth, fallen in the blood,
with mortal wounds. 'Twill then be a perfect service, which ye
Quoth brave Wolfhart: "God wot, sir minstrel, ye have given us
great dole and should not rouse our ire. But that I durst not
for fear of my lord, ye should all fare ill. We must perforce
abstain, sith he forbade us strife."
Then spake the fiddler: "He hath a deal too much fear who doth
abstain from all that one forbiddeth him. That I call not a real
hero's mood." This speech of his war comrade thought Hagen good.
"Long not for that," answered Wolfhart, "or I'll play such havoc
with your fiddle strings, that ye'll have cause to tell the tale,
when ye ride homeward to the Rhine. I cannot brook in honor your
Quoth the fiddler: "If ye put out of tune my strings, then must
the gleam of your helmet grow dim from this hand of mine, however
I ride to the Burgundian land."
Then would he leap at him, but his uncle Hildebrand grasped him
firmly. "I ween, thou wouldst rage in thy silly anger. Then
hadst thou lost forever the favor of my lord."
"Let go the lion, master, he is so fierce of mood," quoth the
good knight Folker. "Had he slain the whole world with his one
hand, I'll smite him, and he come within my reach, so that he may
never sing the answer to my song."
At this the men of Berne waxed passing wroth of mood. Wolfhart,
a doughty knight and a good, snatched up his shield. Like a wild
lion he ran to meet him, swiftly followed by all his friends.
But howsoever great the strides he took towards the hall, yet did
old Hildebrand overtake him at the steps. He would not let him
reach the fray before him. At the hands of the homeless knights
they later found the strife they sought. Master Hildebrand then
sprang at Hagen. In the hands of both one heard the swords ring
out. That both were angry, might be plainly seen; from the
swords of the twain streamed forth a blast of fire-red sparks.
Then they were parted in the stress of battle by the men of
Berne, as their strength did bid them. At once Hildebrand turned
him away from Hagen, but stout Wolfhart addressed him to Folker
the bold. Such a blow he smote the fiddler upon his good helmet,
that the sword's edge pierced to the very helmet bands. This the
bold gleeman repaid with might; he smote Wolfhart, so that the
sparks flew wide. Enow of fire they struck from the armor rings,
for each bare hatred to the other. Then Knight Wolfwin of Berne
did part them -- an' he be not a hero, never was there one.
With willing hand Gunther, the champion, greeted the heroes of
the Amelung land. Lord Giselher made many a gleaming helmet red
and wot with blood. Dankwart, Hagen's brother, a fierce man was
he; whatever he had done before to Etzel's warriors in strife was
as a wind to the fury with which bold Aldrian's son now fought.
Ritschart (6) and Gerbart, Helfrich and Wichart had spared
themselves full seldom in many battle storms; this they now made
Gunther's liegemen note full well. Wolfbrand, too, was seen in
the strife bearing him in lordly wise. Old Hildebrand fought as
though he raged. At Wolfhart's hands many good knights, struck
by the sword, must needs fall dead down into the blood. Thus the
bold champions and good avenged Knight Rudeger.
Then Lord Siegstab fought as his prowess bade him. Ho, what good
helmets of his foes this son of Dietrich's sister clove in the
strife! Nor might he ever do better in the fray. When sturdy
Folker espied that bold Siegstab hewed a bloody stream from the
hard armor rings, wroth of mood the hero grew. He sprang to meet
him, and Siegstab lost his life full soon at the fiddler's hands,
for Folker gave him such a sample of his art, that he soon lay
dead, slain by his sword. This old Hildebrand avenged, as his
might did bid him.
"Alas for my dear lord," spake Master Hildebrand, "who lieth here
dead at Folker's hands. Now shall the fiddler no longer live."
How might bold Hildebrand ever be fiercer? Folker he smote, so
that on all sides the clasps flew to the walls of the hall from
helmet and shield of the doughty gleeman. Thus stout Folker was
done to death. At this the men of Dietrich pressed forward to
the strife. They smote so that the armor rings whirled far and
wide, and high through the air the sword-points wore seen to fly.
From the helmets they drew the warm gushing stream of blood.
When Hagen of Troneg saw Folker dead, that was the greatest
sorrow, that he had gained at the feasting in kinsman or in
liegeman. Alas, how fiercely Hagen gan venge the knight! "Now
old Hildebrand shall not profit by this deed. My helpmate lieth
slain by the hero's hand, the best war comrade that I did ever
win." Higher he raised his helmet, and ran, slashing as he went.
Stout Helfrich slew Dankwart. Loth enow it was to Gunther and
Giselher, when they saw him fall in cruel need, but with his own
hands he himself had well avenged his death. Meanwhile Wolfhart
raged back and forth, hewing alway King Gunther's men. For the
third time he was come through the hall, and many a warrior fell,
struck by his hands.
Then Lord Giselher cried out to Wolfhart: "Alas, that I have ever
gained so grim a foe! Noble knight and brave, now address you
unto me. I'll help to make an end; this may be no longer."
At this Wolfhart turned him in strife to Giselher, and each smote
other many a gaping wound. He pressed so mightily toward the
king, that the blood beneath his feet spurted high above his
head. With grim and fearful blows the son of fair Uta then
greeted the brave knight Wolfhart. However strong the warrior,
he might not save his life. Never could so young a king have
been more brave; Wolfhart he smote through his stout hauberk,
that his blood streamed down from the wound. Unto death he
wounded Dietrich's liegeman. None save a champion had done such
deed. When brave Wolfhart felt the wound, he let fall his shield
and lifted higher in his hand his mighty sword (sharp enow it
was); through both helmet and armor rings the hero smote
Giselher. Thus each did other fiercely unto death.
Now was none left of Dietrich's men. Old Hildebrand saw Wolfhart
fall; never before his death, I ween, did such dole happen to
him. The men of Gunther all lay dead, and those of Dietrich,
too. Hildebrand hied him to where Wolfhart had fallen in the
gore, and clasped in his arms the brave knight and good. He
would fain bear him from the hall, but he was a deal too heavy,
and so he must needs let him lie. Then the dying warrior looked
upward from the blood in which he lay; well he saw, that his
uncle would fain help him hence. Though wounded unto death, he
spake: "Dear uncle mine, ye may not aid me now. 'Tis well,
methinks, that ye should guard you against Hagen. A fierce mood
he beareth in his heart. And if perchance my kinsmen would mourn
me after I am dead; pray tell the nearest and the best, that they
weep not for me; there is no need of that. At the hands of a
king I have met a glorious death and have also avenged me, so
that the wives of the good knights may well bewail it. If any
ask you of this, ye may boldly say, that full a hundred lie slain
by my hand alone."
Then Hagen, too, bethought him of the gleeman, whom bold
Hildebrand had robbed of life. To the knight he spake: "Ye'll
requite me now my sorrows. Through your hatred ye have bereft us
of many a lusty knight."
He dealt Hildebrand such a blow, that men heard Balmung ring, the
which bold Hagen had taken from Siegfried, when he slew the
knight. Then the old man warded him; in sooth he was brave enow.
Dietrich's champion struck with a broad sword, that cut full
sore, at the hero of Troneg, but could not wound King Gunther's
liegeman. Hagen, however, smote him through his well-wrought
hauberk. When old Hildebrand felt the wound, he feared more
scathe at Hagen's hand; his shield he slung across his back and
thus Sir Dietrich's man escaped from Hagen, though sorely
Now of all the knights none was alive save the twain, Gunther and
Hagen alone. Dripping with blood old Hildebrand went to where he
found Dietrich, and told him the baleful tale. He saw him
sitting sadly, but much more of dole the prince now gained. He
spied Hildebrand in his blood-red hauberk, and asked him tidings,
as his fears did prompt him.
"Now tell me, Master Hildebrand, how be ye so wot with your
lifeblood? Pray who hath done you this? I ween, ye have fought
with the strangers in the hall. I forbade it you so sorely, that
ye should justly have avoided it."
Then said he to his lord: "'Twas Hagen that did it. He dealt me
this wound in the hall, when I would fain have turned me from the
knight. I scarce escaped the devil with my life."
Then spake the Lord of Berne: "Rightly hath it happed you, for
that ye have broken the peace, which I had sworn them, sith ye
did hear me vow friendship to the knights. Were it not mine
everlasting shame, ye should lose your life."
"My Lord Dietrich, now be ye not so wroth; the damage to my
friends and me is all too great. Fain would we have carried
Rudeger's corse away, but King Gunther's liegemen would not grant
"Woe is me of these sorrows! If Rudeger then be dead, 'twill
bring me greater dole, than all my woe. Noble Gotelind is the
child of my father's sister; alas for the poor orphans, that be
now in Bechelaren."
Rudeger's death now minded him of ruth and dole. Mightily the
hero gan weep; in sooth he had good cause. "Alas for this
faithful comrade whom I have lost! In truth I shall ever mourn
for King Etzel's liegeman. Can ye tell me, Master Hildebrand,
true tidings, who be the knight, that hath slain him there?"
Quoth he: "That stout Gernot did, with might and main, but the
hero, too, fell dead at Rudeger's hands."
Again he spake to Hildebrand: "Pray say to my men, that they arm
them quickly, for I will hie me hither, and bid them make ready
my shining battle weeds. I myself will question the heroes of
the Burgundian land."
Then spake Master Hildebrand: "Who then shall join you? Whatso
of living men ye have, ye see stand by you. 'Tis I alone; the
others, they be dead."
He started at this tale; forsooth, he had good cause, for never
in his life had he gained so great a grief. He spake: "And are
my men all dead, then hath God forgotten me, poor Dietrich. Once
I was a lordly king, mighty, high, and rich." Again Sir Dietrich
spake: "How could it hap, that all the worshipful heroes died at
the hands of the battle-weary, who were themselves hard pressed?
Were it not for mine ill-luck, death were still a stranger to
them. Sith then mine evil fortune would have it so, pray tell
me, are any of the strangers still alive?"
Then spake Master Hildebrand: "God wet, none other save only
Hagen and Gunther, the high-born king."
"Alas, dear Wolfhart, and I have lost thee too, then may it well
rue me, that ever I was born. Siegstab and Wolfwin and
Wolfbrand, too! Who then shall help me to the Amelung land?
Bold Helfrich, hath he, too, been slain, and Gerbart and Wiehart?
How shall I ever mourn for them in fitting wise? This day doth
forever end my joys. Alas, that none may die for very grief!"
(1) "Helfrich" appears also in the "Thidreksaga", chap. 330,
where we are told that he was the bravest and courtliest of
(2) "Master Hildebrand", see Adventure XXVIII, note 1.
(3) "Siegstab" is Dietrich's nephew. He also appears in the
"Thidreksaga", but in a different role.
(4) "Wolfwin" is mentioned in the "Klage", 1541, as Dietrich's
(5) "Wolfbrand" and "Helmnot" appear only here.
(6) "Ritschart". With the exception of Helfrich (see Above
note 1), these names do not occur elsewhere, though one of
the sons of Haimon was called Wichart.
How Gunther And Hagen And Kriemhild Were Slain.
Then Sir Dietrich fetched himself his coat of mail, and Master
Hildebrand helped him arm. The mighty man made wail so sore,
that the whole house resounded with his voice. But then he
gained again a real hero's mood. The good knight was now armed
and grim of mind; a stout shield he hung upon his arm. Thus he
and Master Hildebrand went boldly hence.
Then spake Hagen of Troneg: "Yonder I see Sir Dietrich coming
hither; he would fain encounter us, after the great sorrow, that
hath here befallen him. To-day we shall see, to whom one must
give the palm. however strong of body and grim of mood the lord
of Berne thinketh him to be, right well dare I match him," so
spake Hagen, "an' he will avenge on us that which hath been done
Dietrich and Hildebrand heard this speech, for Hagen came to
where he found the champion stand before the house, leaning
against the wall. Dietrich set his good shield upon the ground,
and spake in grievous dole: "Gunther, mighty king, why have ye so
acted against me, banished man? What have I done to you? I
stand alone, bereft of all my comfort. Ye thought it not enow of
bitter need, when ye did kill Knight Rudeger, our friend. Now ye
have robbed me of all my men. Forsooth I never had wrought you
heroes sorrow such as this. Think on yourselves and on your
wrongs. Doth not the death of your kinsmen and all the hardship
grieve the minds of you good knights? Alas, what great dole
Rudeger's death doth give me! Never in all the world hath more
of sorrow happed to any man. Ye thought but little on me and on
your pain. Whatsoever joy I had, that lieth slain by you.
Certes, I never can bewail my kin enow."
"Forsooth we be not so guilty," answered Hagen. "Your warriors
came to this hall in a large band, armed with care. Methinks the
tale hath not been told you rightly."
"What else should I believe? Hildebrand told me, that when my
knights from the Amelung land asked that ye should give up
Rudeger's corse from out the hall, ye did naught but mock the
valiant heroes from above the steps."
Then spake the king from the Rhine: "They said, that they would
fain bear Rudeger hence, and I bade this be denied them to vex
King Etzel, and not thy men, until then Wolfhart began to rail
Then the hero of Berne made answer: "Fate would have it so.
Gunther, most noble king, now through thy courtesie requite me of
the wrongs, that have happed to me from thee, and make such
amends, brave knight, that I may give thee credit for the deed.
Give thyself and thy men to me as hostages, and I will guard you,
as best I may, that none here do thee aught among the Huns. Thou
shalt find me naught but good and true."
"Now God forbid," quoth Hagen, "that two knights give themselves
up to thee, that still do stand opposed to thee so doughtily and
walk so unfettered before their foes."
"Gunther and Hagen, ye should not deny me this," spake Dietrich.
"Ye have grieved my heart and mind so sore, that it were but
right, and ye would requite me. I give you my hand and troth as
pledge, that I will ride with you, home to your land. I'll lead
you in all honor, or else lie dead, and for your sakes I will
forget my grievous wrongs."
"Crave this no longer," answered Hagen. "'Twere fitting, that
the tale be told of us, that two men so brave had given
themselves up to you. We see none standing by you, save
Then up spake Master Hildebrand: "God wot, Sir Hagen, the hour
will come, when ye will gladly take the peace, if so be any offer
to keep it with you. Ye might well content you with the truce my
lord doth offer."
"Forsooth I'd take the truce," quoth Hagen, "or ever I'd flee
from out a hall so shamefully as ye did, Master Hildebrand. I
weened, ye could stand better against a foe."
To this Hildebrand made answer: "Why twit ye me with that? Who
was it sate upon a shield hard by the Waskstone, (1) when Walter
of Spain slew so many of his kin? Ye, too, have faults enow of
your own to show."
Then spake Sir Dietrich: "Ill doth it beseem heroes, that they
should scold like aged beldams. I forbid you, Hildebrand, to
speak aught more. Grievous wrongs constrain me, homeless
warrior. Let's hear, Knight Hagen, what ye twain did speak, ye
doughty men, when ye saw me coming toward you armed? Ye said,
that ye alone would fain encounter me in strife."
"Certes, none doth deny," Knight Hagen spake, "that I will essay
it here with mighty blows, unless be, that the sword of Nibelung
break in my hand. Wroth am I, that we twain have here been
craved as hostages."
When Dietrich noted Hagen's raging mood, quickly the doughty
knight and good snatched up his shield. How swiftly Hagen sprang
toward him from the steps! Loudly the good sword of Nibelung
rang on Dietrich's head. Then wist Dietrich well, that the bold
knight was grim of mood. The lord of Berne gan guard him against
the fearful blows, for well he knew Hagen, the stately knight.
Balmung he also feared, a weapon stout enow. Dietrich returned
the blows at times in cunning wise, until at last he conquered
Hagen in the strife. A wound he dealt him, the which was deep
and long. Then Lord Dietrich thought him: "Thou art worn out
with strife; little honor shall I have, and thou liest dead
before me. I will try, if perchance I can force thee to be my
This he wrought with danger. His shield he let fall, great was
his strength, and clasped Hagen of Troneg in his arms. Thus the
brave knight was overcome by Dietrich. Noble Gunther gan wail
thereat. Dietrich now bound Hagen and led him to where he found
the highborn queen; into her hand he gave the bravest warrior
that ever bare a sword. Then merry enow she grew after her great
dole. For very joy King Etzel's wife bowed low before the
knight. "May thy heart and body be ever blest. Thou hast well
requited me of all my woes. For this will I ever serve thee,
unless be, that death doth hinder me therefrom."
Then spake Lord Dietrich: "Pray let him live, most noble queen.
And if this still may be, how well will I requite you of that
which he hath done you! Let him not suffer, because ye see him
stand here bound."
She bade Hagen then be led away to duress, where he lay locked
in and where none did see him. Gunther, the high-born king,
began to call: "Whither went the knight of Berne? He hath done
At this Lord Dietrich went to meet him. Gunther's might was
worthy of praise; no more he bided, but ran outside the hall, and
from the clashing of the swords of the twain a mighty din arose.
However much and long Lord Dietrich's prowess had been praised,
yet Gunther was so sorely angered and enraged, for because of the
grievous dole, he was his deadly foe, that men still tell it as a
wonder, that Sir Dietrich did not fall. Great were both their
prowess and their strength. The palace and the towers resounded
with the blows, when with the swords they hewed at the sturdy
helmets. King Gunther was of lordly mood, but the knight of
Berne overcame him, as happed to Hagen afore. The hero's blood
was seen to ooze through the armor rings, drawn forth by a
keen-edged sword, the which Sir Dietrich bare. Though weary, Sir
Gunther had guarded him most valiantly. The lord was now bound
by Dietrich's hands. Though kings should not endure such bonds,
yet Dietrich thought, if he set free the king and his liegeman,
that all they met must needs fall dead at their hands.
Dietrich of Berne now took him by the hand and led him bound to
where he found Kriemhild. At sight of his sorrow much of her
fear took flight. She spake: "Welcome, Gunther, from the
Quoth he: "I would bow before you, dear sister mine, if your
greetings were but kinder. I know you, queen, to be so wroth of
mood that ye do give me and Hagen meagre greetings."
Up spake the knight of Berne: "Most noble queen, never were such
good knights made hostages, as I have given you in them, exalted
lady. For my sake, I pray you, spare these homeless men."
She vowed she'd do it gladly. Then Sir Dietrich left the
worshipful knights with weeping eyes. Later Etzel's wife avenged
her grimly; she took the life of both the chosen heroes. To make
their duress worse she let them lie apart, so that neither saw
the other, till she bare her brother's head to Hagen.
Kriemhild's vengeance on both was great enow.
Then the queen went to Hagen. In what right hostile wise she
spake to the knight: "If ye will give me back what ye have taken
from me, then ye may still go home alive to Burgundy."
Grim Hagen answered: "Thou dost waste thy words, most noble
queen. Forsooth I have sworn an oath, that I would not show the
hoard, the while and any of my lords still live; so I shall give
it to none."
"I'll make an end of this," quoth the high-born wife. Then she
bade her brother's life be taken. His head they struck off, and
by the hair she bare it to the knight of Troneg. Loth enow it
was to him. When sad of mind the warrior gazed upon his master's
head, he spake to Kriemhild: "Thou hast brought it to an end
after thy will, and it hath happed, as I had thought me. The
noble king of Burgundy now lieth dead, and Giselher, the youth,
and Sir Gernot, too. None knoweth of the treasure now save God
and me, and it shall ever be hid from thee, thou fiend."
Quoth she: "Ye have requited me full ill, so I will keep the
sword of Siegfried, the which my sweetheart bare, when last I saw
him, in whom dole of heart hath happed to me through you."
From the sheath she drew it, nor could he hinder her a whit. She
planned to rob the knight of life. With her hands she raised it
and struck off his head. This King Etzel saw, and sore enow it
rued him. "Alack!" cried the lording, "how lieth now dead at a
woman's hands the very best of knights, that ever came to battle
or bare a shield! However much I was his foe, yet it doth grieve
Then spake old Hildebrand: "Forsooth it shall not boot her aught,
that she durst slay him. Whatso hap to me, and however much it
may bring me to a dangerous pass, yet will I avenge bold Troneg's
Hildebrand sprang in wrath towards Kriemhild. For fear of him
she suffered pain; but what might it avail her, that she shrieked
so frightfully? He dealt the queen a grievous sword-blow, the
which did cut the high-born dame in twain. Now all lay low in
death whom fate had doomed. Dietrich and Etzel then began to
weep; sorely they mourned both kin and liegemen. Their mickle
honors lay there low in death; the courtiers all had grief and
drearihead. The king's high feast had ended now in woe, as joy
doth ever end in sorrow at the last. I cannot tell you, that
which happed thereafter, save that knights and ladies and noble
squires were seen to weep for the death of loving kinsmen. The
tale hath here an end. This is the Nibelungs' fall. (2) (3)
(1) "Waskstone", see Adventure XXXV, note 2.
(2) "Fall". The word "not", translated here "fall", means
really 'disaster', but as this word is not in keeping with
the style, "fall" has been chosen as preferable to 'need',
used by some translators. The MS. C has here "liet" instead
of "not" of A and B.
(3) The "Nibelungenlied" is continued by the so-called "Klage",
a poem written in short rhyming couplets. As the name
indicates, it describes the lamentations of the survivors
over the dead. The praises of each warrior are sung and a
messenger dispatched to acquaint Gorelind, Uta, and Brunhild
with the sad end of their kinsmen. It closes with
Dietrich's departure from Etzel's court and his return home.
Although in one sense a continuation of our poem, the
"Klage" is an independent work of no great merit, being
excessively tedious with its constant repetitions. A
reprint and a full account of it will be found in Piper's
edition of our poem, vol. I.