The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

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Public Domain Books

Fifteenth Adventure - How Siegfried was Betrayed


Upon the fourth morning / two and thirty men
Saw ye to court a-riding. / Unto King Gunther then
Were tidings borne that ready / he should make for foe–
This lie did bring to women / many, anon full grievous woe.


Leave had they ’fore the monarch’s / presence to appear,
There to give themselves out / for men of Luedeger,
Him erstwhile was conquered / by Siegfried’s doughty hand
And brought a royal hostage / bound unto King Gunther’s land.


The messengers he greeted / and to seat them gave command.
Then spake one amongst them: / “Allow that yet we stand
Until we tell the tidings / that to thee are sent.
Know thou that warriors many / on thee to wreak their hate are bent.


“Defiance bids thee Luedegast / and eke Luedeger
Who at thy hands full sorely / erstwhile aggrieved were:
In this thy land with hostile / host they’ll soon appear."
To rage begin the monarch / when such tidings he did hear.


Those who did act thus falsely / they bade to lodge the while.
How himself might Siegfried / guard against such guile
As there they planned against him, / he or ever one?
Unto themselves ’twas sorrow / great anon that e’er ’twas done.


With his friends the monarch / secret counsel sought.
Hagen of Tronje / let him tarry not.
Of the king’s men yet were many / who fain would peace restore:
But nowise would Hagen / his dark purpose e’er give o’er.


Upon a day came Siegfried / when they did counsel take,
And there the knight of Netherland / thus unto them spake:
“How goeth now so sorrowful / amid his men the king?
I’ll help you to avenge it, / hath he been wronged in anything.”


Then spake the monarch Gunther: / “Of right do I lament,
Luedegast and Luedeger / have hostile message sent:
They will in open manner / now invade my land."
The knight full keen gave answer: / “That in sooth shall Siegfried’s


“As doth befit thy honor, / know well to turn aside.
As erstwhile to thy enemies, / shall now from me betide:
Their lands and eke their castles / laid waste by me shall be
Ere that I give over: / thereof my head be surety.


“Thou and thy good warriors / shall here at home abide,
And let me with my company / alone against them ride.
That I do serve thee gladly, / that will I let them see;
By me shall thy enemies, / –that know thou– full requited be.”


“Good tidings, that thou sayest," / then the monarch said,
As if he in earnest / did joy to have such aid.
Deep did bow before him / the king in treachery.
Then spake Sir Siegfried: / “Bring that but little care to thee.”


Then serving-men full many / bade they ready be:
’Twas done alone that Siegfried / and his men the same might see.
Then bade he make them ready / the knights of Netherland,
And soon did Siegfried’s warriors / for fight apparelled ready stand.


“My royal father Siegmund, / here shalt thou remain,"
Spake then Sir Siegfried. / “We come full soon again
If God but give good fortune, / hither the Rhine beside;
Here shalt thou with King Gunther / full merrily the while abide.”


Then bound they on the banners / as they thence would fare.
Men of royal Gunther / were full many there,
Who naught knew of the matter, / or how that thing might be:
There with Siegfried saw ye / of knights a mickle company.


Their helms and eke their mail-coats / bound on horse did stand:
And doughty knights made ready / to fare from out that land.
Then went of Tronje Hagen / where he Kriemhild found
And prayed a fair leave-taking, / for that to battle they were bound.


“Now well is me, such husband / I have,” Kriemhild said,
“That to my loving kindred / can bring so potent aid,
As my lord Siegfried / doth now to friends of me.
Thereby,” spake the high lady, / “may I full joyous-minded be.


“Now full dear friend Hagen, / call thou this to mind,
Good-will I e’er have borne thee, / nor hate in any kind.
Let now therefrom have profit / the husband dear to me.
If Brunhild aught I’ve injured / may’t not to him requited be.


“For that I since have suffered," / spake the high lady.
“Sore punishment hath offered / therefor the knight to me.
That I have aught e’er spoken / to make her sad of mood,
Vengeance well hath taken / on me the valiant knight and good.”


“In the days hereafter shall ye / be reconciled full well.
Kriemhild, beloved lady, / to me shalt thou tell
How that in Siegfried’s person / I may service do to thee.
That do I gladly, lady, / and unto none more willingly.”


“No longer were I fearful," / spake his noble wife,
“That e’er in battle any / should take from him his life,
Would he but cease to follow / his high undaunted mood:
Secure were then forever / the thane full valiant and good.”


“Lady,” spake then Hagen, / “an hast thou e’er a fear
That hostile blade should pierce him, / now shalt thou give to hear
With what arts of cunning / I may the same prevent.
On horse and foot to guard him / shall ever be my fair intent.”


She spake: “Of my kin art thou, / as I eke of thine.
In truth to thee commended / be then dear spouse of mine,
That him well thou guardest / whom full dear I hold."
She told to him a story / ’twere better had she left untold.


She spake: “A valorous husband / is mine, and doughty too.
When he the worm-like dragon / by the mountain slew,
In its blood the stately / knight himself then bathed,
Since when from cutting weapons / in battle is he all unscathed.


“Nathless my heart is troubled / when he in fight doth stand,
And full many a spear-shaft / is hurled by hero’s hand,
Lest that I a husband / full dear should see no more.
Alack! How oft for Siegfried / must I sit in sorrow sore!


“On thy good-will I rest me, / dear friend, to tell to thee,
And that thy faith thou fully / provest now to me,
Where that my spouse may smitten / be by hand of foe.
This I now shall tell thee, / and on thy honor this I do.


“When from the wounded dragon / reeking flowed the blood,
And therein did bathe him / the valiant knight and good,
Fell down between his shoulders / full broad a linden leaf.
There may he be smitten; / ’tis cause to me of mickle grief.’


Then spake of Tronje Hagen: / “Upon his tunic sew
Thou a little token. / Thereby shall I know
Where I may protect him / when in the fight we strain."
She weened to save the hero, / yet wrought she nothing save his bane.


She spake: “All fine and silken / upon his coat I’ll sew
A little cross full secret. / There, doughty thane, shalt thou
From my knight ward danger / when battle rageth sore,
And when amid the turmoil / he stands his enemies before.”


“That will I do,” quoth Hagen, / “lady full dear to me."
Then weened eke the lady / it should his vantage be,
But there alone did Kriemhild / her own good knight betray.
Leave of her took Hagen, / and joyously he went away.


The followers of the monarch / were all of merry mood.
I ween that knight thereafter / never any could
Of treachery be guilty / such as then was he
When that Queen Kriemhild / did rest on his fidelity.


With his men a thousand / upon the following day
Rode thence Sir Siegfried / full joyously away.
He weened he should take vengeance / for harm his friends did bear.
That he might view the tunic / Hagen rode to him full near.


When he had viewed the token / sent Hagen thence away
Two of his men in secret / who did other tidings say:
How that King Gunther’s country / had nothing now to fear
And that unto the monarch / had sent them royal Luedeger.


’Twas little joy to Siegfried / that he must turn again
Ere for the hostile menace / vengeance he had ta’en.
In sooth the men of Gunther / could scarce his purpose bend.
Then rode he to the monarch, / who thus began his thanks to lend:


“Now God reward thee for it, / my good friend Siegfried,
That thou with mind so willing / hast holpen me in need.
That shall I e’er repay thee, / as I may do of right.
To thee before all other / friends do I my service plight.


“Now that from battle-journey / free we are once more,
So will I ride a-hunting / the wild bear and the boar
Away to the Vosges forest, / as I full oft have done."
The same had counselled Hagen, / the full dark and faithless man.


“To all my guests here with me / shall now be told
That we ride forth at daybreak: / themselves shall ready hold,
Who will join the hunting; / will any here remain
For pastime with fair ladies, / the thing behold I eke full fain.”


Then outspake Sir Siegfried / as in manner due:
“If that thou rid’st a-hunting, / go I gladly too.
A huntsman shalt thou grant me / and good hound beside
That shall the game discover; / so with thee to the green I’ll ride.”


Straightway spake the monarch: / “Wilt thou but one alone?
And wilt thou, four I’ll grant thee, / to whom full well is known
The forest with the runways / where most the game doth stray,
And who unto the camp-fires / will help thee back to find thy way.”


Unto his spouse then rode he, / the gallant knight and bold.
Full soon thereafter Hagen / unto the king had told
How he within his power / would have the noble thane:
May deed so dark and faithless / ne’er by knight be done again!


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