The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

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Public Domain Books

Fourteenth Adventure - How the Queens Berated Each Other


Before the time of vespers / arose a mickle stir
On part of warriors many / upon the courtyard there.
In knightly fashion made they / the time go pleasantly;
Thither knights and ladies / went their merry play to see.


There did sit together / the queens, a stately pair,
And of two knights bethought them, / that noble warriors were.
Then spake the fair Kriemhild: / “Such spouse in sooth have I,
That all these mighty kingdoms / might well beneath his sceptre lie.”


Then spake the Lady Brunhild: / “How might such thing be?
If that there lived none other / but himself and thee,
So might perchance his power / rule these kingdoms o’er;
The while that liveth Gunther, / may such thing be nevermore.”


Then again spake Kriemhild: / “Behold how he doth stand
In right stately fashion / before the knightly band,
Like as the bright moon beameth / before the stars of heaven.
In sooth to think upon it / a joyous mood to me is given.”


Then spake the Lady Brunhild: / “How stately thy spouse be,
Howe’er so fair and worthy, / yet must thou grant to me
Gunther, thy noble brother, / doth far beyond him go:
In sooth before all monarchs / he standeth, shalt thou truly know.”


Then again spake Kriemhild: / “So worthy is my spouse,
That I not have praised him / here without a cause.
In ways to tell full many / high honor doth he bear:
Believe well may’st thou, Brunhild, / he is the royal Gunther’s peer.”


“Now guard thee, Lady Kriemhild, / my word amiss to take,
For not without good reason here / such thing I spake.
Both heard I say together, / when them I first did see,
When that erstwhile the monarch / did work his royal will o’er me,


And when in knightly fashion / my love for him he won,
Then himself said Siegfried / he were the monarch’s man.
For liegeman thus I hold him, / since he the same did say."
Then spake fair Lady Kriemhild: / “With me ’twere dealt in sorry way.


“And these my noble brothers, / how could they such thing see,
That I of their own liegeman / e’er the wife should be?
Thus will I beg thee, Brunhild, / as friend to friend doth owe,
That thou, as well befits thee, / shalt further here such words forego.”


“No whit will I give over," / spake the monarch’s spouse.
“Wherefore should I so many / a knight full valiant lose,
Who to us in service / is bounden with thy man?"
Kriemhild the fair lady / thereat sore to rage began.


“In sooth must thou forego it / that he should e’er to thee
Aught of service offer. / More worthy e’en is he
Than is my brother Gunther, / who is a royal lord.
So shalt thou please to spare me / what I now from thee have heard.


“And to me is ever wonder, / since he thy liegeman is,
And thou dost wield such power / over us twain as this,
That he so long his tribute / to thee hath failed to pay.
’Twere well thy haughty humor / thou should’st no longer here display.”


“Too lofty now thou soarest," / the queen did make reply.
“Now will I see full gladly / if in such honor high
This folk doth hold thy person / as mine own it doth."
Of mood full sorely wrathful / were the royal ladies both.


Then spake the Lady Kriemhild: / “That straightway shall be seen.
Since that thou my husband / dost thy liegeman ween,
To-day shall all the followers / of both the monarchs know,
If I ’fore wife of monarch / dare unto the minster go.


“That I free-born and noble / shalt thou this day behold,
And that my royal husband, / as now to thee I’ve told,
’Fore thine doth stand in honor, / by me shall well be shown.
Ere night shalt thou behold it, / how wife of him thou call’st thine own


To court shall lead good warriors / in the land of Burgundy.
And ne’er a queen so lofty / as I myself shall be
Was seen by e’er a mortal, / or yet a crown did wear."
Then mickle was the anger / that rose betwixt the ladies there.


Then again spake Brunhild: / “Wilt thou not service own,
So must thou with thy women / hold thyself alone
Apart from all my following, / as we to minster go."
Thereto gave answer Kriemhild: / “In truth the same I fain will do.”


“Now dress ye fair, my maidens," / Kriemhild gave command.
“Nor shall shame befall me / here within this land.
An have ye fair apparel, / let now be seen by you.
What she here hath boasted / may Brunhild have full cause to rue.”


But little need to urge them: / soon were they richly clad
In garments wrought full deftly, / lady and many a maid.
Then went with her attendants / the spouse of the monarch high;
And eke appeared fair Kriemhild, / her body decked full gorgeously,


With three and forty maidens, / whom to the Rhine led she,
All clad in shining garments / wrought in Araby.
So came unto the minster / the maidens fair and tall.
Before the hall did tarry / for them the men of Siegfried all.


The people there did wonder / how the thing might be,
That no more together / the queens they thus did see,
And that beside each other / they went not as before.
Thereby came thanes a many / anon to harm and trouble sore.


Here before the minster / the wife of Gunther stood.
And good knights full many / were there of merry mood
With the fair ladies / that their eyes did see.
Then came the Lady Kriemhild / with a full stately company.


Whate’er of costly raiment / decked lofty maids before,
’Twas like a windy nothing / ’gainst what her ladies wore.
The wives of thirty monarchs / –such riches were her own–
Might ne’er display together / what there by Lady Kriemhild shown.


Should any wish to do so / he could not say, I ween,
That so rich apparel / e’er before was seen
As there by her maidens / debonair was worn:
But that it grieved Brunhild / had Kriemhild that to do forborne.


There they met together / before the minster high.
Soon the royal matron, / through mickle jealousy,
Kriemhild to pass no further, / did bid in rage full sore:
“She that doth owe her homage / shall ne’er go monarch’s wife before.”


Then spake the Lady Kriemhild / –angry was her mood:
“An could’st thou but be silent / that for thee were good.
Thyself hast brought dishonor / upon thy fair body:
How might, forsooth, a harlot / ever wife of monarch be?”


“Whom mak’st thou now a harlot?" / the king’s wife answered her.
“That do I thee,” spake Kriemhild, / “for that thy body fair
First was clasped by Siegfried, / knight full dear to me.
In sooth ’twas ne’er my brother / won first thy maidenhead from thee.


“How did thy senses leave thee? / Cunning rare was this.
How let his love deceive thee, / since he thy liegeman is?
And all in vain,” quoth Kriemhild, / “the plaint I hear thee bring."
“In sooth,” then answered Brunhild, / “I’ll tell it to my spouse the


“What reck I of such evil? / Thy pride hath thee betrayed,
That thou deem’st my homage / should e’er to thee be paid.
Know thou in truth full certain / the thing may never be:
Nor shall I e’er be ready / to look for faithful friend in thee.”


Thereat did weep Queen Brunhild: / Kriemhild waited no more,
But passed into the minster / the monarch’s wife before,
With train of fair attendants. / Arose there mickle hate,
Whereby eyes brightly shining / anon did grow all dim and wet.


However God they worshipped / or there the mass was sung,
Did deem the Lady Brunhild / the waiting all too long,
For that her heart was saddened / and angry eke her mood.
Therefore anon must suffer / many a hero keen and good.


Brunhild with her ladies / ’fore the minster did appear.
Thought she: “Now must Kriemhild / further give me to hear
Of what so loud upbraideth / me this free-tongued wife.
And if he thus hath boasted, / amend shall Siegfried make with life.”


Now came the noble Kriemhild / followed by warrior band.
Then spake the Lady Brunhild: / “Still thou here shalt stand.
Thou giv’st me out for harlot: / let now the same be seen.
Know thou, what thus thou sayest / to me hath mickle sorrow been.”


Then spake the Lady Kriemhild: / “So may’st thou let me go.
With the ring upon my finger / I the same can show:
That brought to me my lover / when first by thee he lay."
Ne’er did Lady Brunhild / know grief as on this evil day.


Quoth she: “This ring full precious / some hand from me did steal,
And from me thus a season / in evil way conceal:
Full sure will I discover / who this same thief hath been."
Then were the royal ladies / both in mood full angry seen.


Then gave answer Kriemhild: / “I deem the thief not I.
Well hadst thou been silent, / hold’st thou thine honor high.
I’ll show it with this girdle / that I around me wear,
That in this thing I err not: / Siegfried hath lain by thee full near.”


Wrought of silk of Nineveh / a girdle there she wore,
That of stones full precious / showed a goodly store.
When saw it Lady Brunhild / straight to weep gan she:
Soon must Gunther know it / and all the men of Burgundy.


Then spake the royal matron: / “Bid hither come to me
Of Rhine the lofty monarch. / Hear straightway shall he
How that his sister / doth my honor stain.
Here doth she boast full open / that I in Siegfried’s arms have lain.”


The king came with his warriors, / where he did weeping find
His royal spouse Brunhild, / then spake in manner kind:
“Now tell me, my dear lady, / who hath done aught to thee?"
She spake unto the monarch: / “Thy wife unhappy must thou see.


“Me, thy royal consort, / would thy sister fain
Rob of all mine honor. / To thee must I complain:
She boasts her husband Siegfried / hath known thy royal bed."
Then spake the monarch Gunther: / “An evil thing she then hath said.”


“I did lose a girdle: / here by her ’tis worn,
And my ring all golden. / That I e’er was born,
Do I rue full sorely / if thou wardest not from me
This full great dishonor: / that will I full repay to thee.”


Then spake the monarch Gunther: / “Now shall he come near,
And hath he such thing boasted, / so shall he let us hear:
Eke must full deny it / the knight of Netherland."
Then straight the spouse of Kriemhild / hither to bring he gave command.


When that angry-minded / Siegfried them did see,
Nor knew thereof the reason, / straightway then spake he:
“Why do weep these ladies? / I’d gladly know that thing,
Or wherefore to this presence / I am bidden by the king.”


Then spake the royal Gunther: / “Sore grieveth me this thing:
To me my Lady Brunhild / doth the story bring,
How that thereof thou boastest / that her fair body lay
First in thy embraces: / this doth thy Lady Kriemhild say.”


Thereto gave answer Siegfried: / “An if she thus hath said,
Full well shall she repent it / ere doth rest my head:
Before all thy good warriors / of that I’ll make me free,
And swear by my high honor / such thing hath ne’er been told by me.”


Then spake of Rhine the monarch: / “That shalt thou let us see.
The oath that thou dost offer, / if such performed be,
Of all false accusation / shalt thou delivered stand."
In ring to take their station / did he the high-born thanes command.


The full valiant Siegfried / in oath the hand did give.
Then spake the lordly monarch: / “Well now do I perceive
How thou art all blameless, / of all I speak thee free;
What here maintains my sister, / the same hath ne’er been done by thee.”


Thereto gave answer Siegfried: / “If gain should e’er accrue
Unto my spouse, that Brunhild / from her had cause to rue,
Know that to me full sorely / ’twould endless sorrow be."
Then looked upon each other / the monarchs twain right graciously.


“So should we govern women," / spake the thane Siegfried,
“That to leave wanton babble / they should take good heed.
Forbid it to thy wife now, / to mine I’ll do the same.
Such ill-becoming manner /in sooth doth fill my heart with shame.”


No more said many a lady / fair, but thus did part.
Then did the Lady Brunhild / grieve so sore at heart,
That it must move to pity / all King Gunther’s men.
To go unto his mistress / Hagen of Tronje saw ye then.


He asked to know her worry, / as he her weeping saw.
Then told she him the story. / To her straight made he vow,
That Lady Kriemhild’s husband / must for the thing atone,
Else henceforth should never / a joyous day by him be known.


Then came Ortwein and Gernot / where they together spake,
And there the knights did counsel / Siegfried’s life to take.
Thither came eke Giselher, / son of Ute high.
When heard he what they counselled, / spake he free from treachery:


“Ye good knights and noble, / wherefore do ye that?
Ne’er deserved hath Siegfried / in such way your hate,
That he therefor should forfeit / at your hands his life.
In sooth small matter is it / that maketh cause for woman’s strife.”


“Shall we rear race of bastards?" / Hagen spake again:
“Therefrom but little honor / had many a noble thane.
The thing that he hath boasted / upon my mistress high,
Therefor my life I forfeit, / or he for that same thing shall die.”


Then spake himself the monarch: / “To us he ne’er did give
Aught but good and honor: / let him therefore live.
What boots it if my anger / I vent the knight upon?
Good faith he e’er hath shown us, / and that full willingly hath done.”


Then outspake of Metz / Ortwein the thane:
“In sooth his arm full doughty / may bring him little gain.
My vengeance full he’ll suffer, / if but my lord allow."
The knights–nor reason had they– / against him mortal hate did vow.


None yet his words did follow, / but to the monarch’s ear
Ne’er a day failed Hagen / the thought to whisper there:
If that lived not Siegfried, / to him would subject be
Royal lands full many. / The king did sorrow bitterly.


Then did they nothing further: / soon began the play.
As from the lofty minster / passed they on their way,
What doughty shafts they shattered / Siegfried’s spouse before!
Gunther’s men full many / saw ye there in rage full sore.


Spake the king: “Now leave ye / such mortal enmity:
The knight is born our honor / and fortune good to be.
Keen is he unto wonder, / hath eke so doughty arm
That, were the contest open, / none is who dared to work him harm.”


“Naught shall he know,” quoth Hagen. / “At peace ye well may be:
I trow the thing to manage / so full secretly
That Queen Brunhild’s weeping / he shall rue full sore.
In sooth shall he from Hagen / have naught but hate for evermore.”


Then spake the monarch Gunther: / “How might such thing e’er be?"
Thereto gave answer Hagen: / “That shalt thou hear from me.
We’ll bid that hither heralds / unto our land shall fare,
Here unknown to any, / who shall hostile tidings bear.


“Then say thou ’fore the strangers / that thou with all thy men
Wilt forth to meet the enemy. / He’ll offer service then
If that thus thou sayest, / and lose thereby his life,
Can I but learn the story / from the valiant warrior’s wife.”


The king in evil manner / did follow Hagen’s rede,
And the two knights, ere any / man thereof had heed,
Had treachery together / to devise begun.
From quarrel of two women / died heroes soon full many a one.


Preface  •  I. The Nibelungen Saga  •  II. The Nibelungenlied  •  The Nibelungenlied - First Adventure - Kriemhild’s Dream  •  Second Adventure - Siegfried  •  Third Adventure - How Siegfried came to Worms  •  Fourth Adventure - How Siegfried fought with the Saxons  •  Fifth Adventure - How Siegfried first saw Kriemhild  •  Sixth Adventure - How Gunther fared to Isenland to Brunhild  •  Seventh Adventure - How Gunther won Brunhild  •  Eighth Adventure - How Siegfried fared to his Knights, the Nibelungen  •  Ninth Adventure - How Siegfried was sent to Worms  •  Tenth Adventure - How Brunhild was received at Worms  •  Eleventh Adventure - How Siegfried came home with his Wife  •  Twelfth Adventure - How Gunther bade Siegfried to the Feast  •  Thirteenth Adventure - How they fared to the Feast  •  Fourteenth Adventure - How the Queens Berated Each Other  •  Fifteenth Adventure - How Siegfried was Betrayed  •  Sixteenth Adventure - How Siegfried was slain  •  Seventeenth Adventure - How Kriemhild mourned for Siegfried, and How he was Buried  •  Eighteenth Adventure - How Siegmund fared Home Again  •  Nineteenth Adventure - How the Nibelungen Hoard was Brought to Worms  •  Twentieth Adventure - How King Etzel sent to Burgundy for Kriemhild  •  Twenty-First Adventure - How Kriemhild fared to the Huns  •  Twenty-Second Adventure - How Etzel kept the Wedding-feast with Kriemhild  •  Twenty-Third Adventure - How Kriemhild thought to avenge her Wrong  •  Twenty-Fourth Adventure - How Werbel and Schwemmel brought the Message  •  Twenty-Fifth Adventure - How the Knights all fared to the Huns  •  Twenty-Sixth Adventure - How Gelfrat was Slain by Dankwart  •  Twenty-Seventh Adventure - How they came to Bechelaren  •  Twenty-Eighth Adventure - How the Burgundians came to Etzel’s Castle  •  Twenty-Ninth Adventure - How He arose not before Her  •  Thirtieth Adventure - How they kept Guard  •  Thirty-First Adventure - How they went to Mass  •  Thirty-Second Adventure - How Bloedel was Slain  •  Thirty-Third Adventure - How the Burgundians fought with the Huns  •  Thirty-Fourth Adventure - How they cast out the Dead  •  Thirty-Fifth Adventure - How Iring was Slain  •  Thirty-Sixth Adventure - How the Queen bade set fire to the Hall  •  Thirty-Seventh Adventure - How the Margrave Ruediger was Slain  •  Thirty-Eighth Adventure - How all Sir Dietrich’s Knights were Slain  •  Thirty-Ninth Adventure - How Gunther and Hagen and Kriemhild were Slain