Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race
Page: 171The Recognition
Rymenhild was weeping still, and her stern husband seemed only angered by her tears. Horn looked about cautiously, but saw no sign of Athulf, his trusted comrade; for he was at this time eagerly looking for his friend’s coming from the lofty watch-tower, and lamenting that he could guard the princess no longer. At last, when the banquet was nearly over, Rymenhild rose to pour out wine for the guests, as the custom was [Pg 306] then; and she bore a horn of ale or wine along the benches to each person there. Horn, sitting humbly on the ground, called out: “Come, courteous Queen, turn to me, for we beggars are thirsty folk.” Rymenhild smiled sadly, and, setting down the horn, filled a bowl with brown ale, for she thought him a drunkard. “Here, drink this, and more besides, if thou wilt; I never saw so bold a beggar,” she said. But Horn refused. He handed the bowl to the other beggars, and said: “Lady, I will drink nought but from a silver cup, for I am not what you think me. I am no beggar, but a fisher, come from afar to fish at thy wedding feast. My net lies near by, and has lain there for seven years, and I am come to see if it has caught any fish. Drink to me, and drink to Horn from thy horn, for far have I journeyed.”
When the palmer spoke of fishing, and his seven-year-old net, Rymenhild felt cold at heart; she did not recognise him, but wondered greatly when he bade her drink “to Horn.” She filled her cup and gave it to the palmer, saying, “Drink thy fill, and then tell me if thou hast ever seen Horn in thy wanderings.” As the palmer drank, he dropped his ring into the cup; then he returned it to Rymenhild, saying, “Queen, seek out what is in thy draught.” She said nothing then, but left the hall with her maidens and went to her bower, where she found the well-remembered ring she had given to Horn in token of betrothal. Greatly she feared that Horn was dead, and sent for the palmer, whom she questioned as to whence he had got the ring.
Horn thought he would test her love for him, since she had not recognised him, so he replied: “By St. Giles, lady, I have wandered many a mile, far [Pg 307] into realms of the West, and there I found Sir Horn ready prepared to sail home to your land. He told me that he planned to reach the realm of Westernesse in time to see you before seven years had passed, and I embarked with him. The winds were favourable and we had a quick voyage, but, alas! he fell ill and died. When he lay dying he begged me piteously, ‘Take this ring, from which I have never been parted, to my dear lady Rymenhild,’ and he kissed it many times and pressed it to his breast. May God give his soul rest in Paradise!”