Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race
Page: 172When Rymenhild heard those terrible tidings she sighed deeply and said: “O heart, burst now, for thou shalt never more have Horn, for love of whom thou hast been tormented so sorely!” Then she fell upon her bed, and grasped the dagger which she had concealed there; for if Horn did not come in time she had planned to slay both her hateful lord and herself that very night. Now, in her misery, she set the dagger to her heart, and would have slain herself at once, had not the palmer interrupted her. Rushing forward, he exclaimed: “Dear Queen and lady, I am Horn, thine own true love. Dost thou not recognise me? I am Childe Horn of Westernesse. Take me in thy arms, dear love, and kiss me welcome home.” As Rymenhild stared incredulously at him, letting the dagger fall from her trembling hand, he hurriedly cast away his disguise, brushed off the disfiguring stain he had put on his cheeks, and stood up straight and strong, her own noble knight and lover. What joy they had together! How they told each other of all their adventures and troubles, and how they embraced and kissed each other!
Horn Slays King Modi
When their joy had become calmer, Horn said to his lady: “Dear Rymenhild, I must leave thee now, and [Pg 308] return to my knights, who are encamped in the forest. Within an hour I will return to the feast and give the king and his guests a stern lesson.” Then he flung away the palmer’s cloak, and went forth in knightly array; while the princess went up to the watch-tower, where Athulf still scanned the sea for some sign of Horn’s coming. Rymenhild said: “Sir Athulf, true friend, go quickly to Horn, for he has arrived, and with him he brings a great army.” The knight gladly hastened to the courtyard, mounted his steed, and soon overtook Horn. They were greatly rejoiced to meet again, and had much to tell each other and to plan for that day’s work.
In the evening Horn and his army reached the castle, where they found the gates undone for them by their friends within, and in a short but desperate conflict King Modi and all the guests at the banquet were slain, except Rymenhild, her father, and Horn’s twelve comrades. Then a new wedding was celebrated, for King Ailmar durst not refuse his daughter to the victor, and the bridal was now one of real rejoicing, though the king was somewhat bitter of mood.
When the hours wore on to midnight, Horn, sitting beside his bride, called for silence in the hall, and addressed the king thus: “Sir King, I pray thee listen to my tale, for I have much to say and much to explain. My name is in sooth Horn, and I am the son of King Murry of Suddene, who was slain by the Saracens. Thou didst cherish me and give me knighthood, and I proved myself a true knight on the very day when I was dubbed. Thou didst love me then, but evil men accused me to thee and I was banished. For seven years I have lived in a strange land; but now that I [Pg 309] have returned, I have won thy fair daughter as my bride. But I cannot dwell here in idleness while the heathen hold my father’s land. I vow by the Holy Rood that I will not rest, and will not claim my wife, until I have purified Suddene from the infidel invaders, and can lay its crown at Rymenhild’s feet. Do thou, O King, guard well my wife till my return.”