Mary Macgregor

Siegfried Comes Home

[18] The walls of the old castle rang. King Siegmund, his knights and liegemen, all were welcoming Prince Siegfried home. They had not seen their hero-prince since he had been sent long years before to be under the charge of Mimer the blacksmith.

He had grown but more fair, more noble, they thought, as they gazed upon his stalwart limbs, his fearless eyes.

And what tales of prowess clustered around his name! Already their Prince had done great deeds as he had ridden from land to land.

The King and his liegemen had heard of the slaughter of the terrible dragon, of the capture of the great treasure, of the defiance of the warlike and beautiful Brunhild. They could [19] wish for no more renowned prince than their own Prince Siegfried.

Thus Siegmund and his subjects rejoiced that the heir to the throne was once again in his own country.

In the Queen's bower, too, there was great joy. Sieglinde wept, but her tears were not those of sadness. Sieglinde wept for very gladness that her son had come home safe from his wonderful adventures.

Now Siegmund wished to give a great feast in honour of his son. It should be on his birthday which was very near, the birthday on which the young Prince would be twenty-one years of age.

Far and wide throughout the Netherlands and into distant realms tidings of the feast were borne. Kinsmen and strangers, lords and ladies all were asked to the banquet in the great castle hall where Siegmund reigned supreme.

It was the merry month of June when the feast was held, and the sun shone bright on maidens in fair raiment, on knights in burnished armour.

[20] Siegfried was to be knighted on this June day along with four hundred young squires of his father's realm. The Prince was clad in gorgeous armour, and on the cloak flung around his shoulders jewels were seen to sparkle in the sunlight, jewels made fast with gold embroidery worked by the white hands of the Queen and her fair damsels.

In games and merry pastimes the hours of the day sped fast away, until the great bell of the Minster pealed, calling the gay company to the house of God for evensong. Siegfried and the four hundred squires knelt before the altar, ere they were knighted by the royal hand of Siegmund the King.


[Illustration]

Knighted by the royal hand of Siegmund the King

The solemn service ended, the new-made knights hastened back to the castle, and there in the great hall a mighty tournament was held. Knights who had grown grey in service tilted with those who but that day had been given the grace of knighthood. Lances splintered, shields fell before the mighty onslaughts of the gallant warriors, until King Siegmund bade the tilting cease.

Then in the great hall feasting and song held [21] sway until daylight faded and the stars shone bright.

Yet no weariness knew the merry-makers. The next morning, and for six long summer days, they tilted, they sang, they feasted.

When at length the great festival drew to a close, Siegmund in the presence of his guests gave to his dear son Siegfried many lands and strong castles over which he might be lord.

To all his son's comrades, too, the King gave steeds and costly raiment, while Queen Sieglinde bestowed upon them freely coins of gold. Such abundant gifts had never before been dreamed of as were thus lavished by Siegmund and Sieglinde on their guests.

As the rich nobles looked upon the brave young Prince Siegfried, there were some who whispered among themselves that they would fain have him to rule in the land.

Siegfried heard their whispers, but in no wise did he give heed to the wish of the nobles.

Never, he thought, while his beautiful mother and his bounteous father lived, would he wear the crown.

[22] Indeed Siegfried had no wish to sit upon a throne, he wished but to subdue the evil-doers in the land. Or better still he wished to go forth in search of new adventure. And this right soon he did.