<<<
>>>

Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 143

But although Sigurd loved his wife and felt a true fraternal affection for her brothers, he could not lose his haunting sense of oppression, and was seldom seen to smile as radiantly as of old. Giuki had now died, and his eldest son, Gunnar, ruled in his stead. As the young king was unwedded, Grimhild, his mother, besought him to take a wife, suggesting that none seemed more worthy to become Queen of the Niblungs than Brunhild, who, it was reported, sat in a golden hall surrounded by flames, whence she had declared she would issue only to marry the warrior who would dare brave the fire for her sake. [284]

Gunnar’s Stratagem

Gunnar immediately prepared to seek this maiden, and strengthened by one of his mother’s magic potions, and encouraged by Sigurd, who accompanied him, he felt confident of success. But when on reaching the summit of the mountain he would have ridden into the fire, his steed drew back affrighted and he could not induce him to advance a step. Seeing that his companion’s steed did not show signs of fear, he asked him of Sigurd; but although Greyfell allowed Gunnar to mount, he would not stir because his master was not on his back.

Sigurd and Gunnar

Sigurd and Gunnar

J. C. Dollman

Now as Sigurd carried the Helmet of Dread, and Grimhild had given Gunnar a magic potion in case it should be needed, it was possible for the companions to exchange their forms and features, and seeing that Gunnar could not penetrate the flaming wall Sigurd proposed to assume the appearance of Gunnar and woo the bride for him. The king was greatly disappointed, but as no alternative offered he dismounted, and the necessary exchange was soon effected. Then Sigurd mounted Greyfell in the semblance of his companion, and this time the steed showed not the least hesitation, but leaped into the flames at the first touch on his bridle, and soon brought his rider to the castle, where, in the great hall, sat Brunhild. Neither recognised the other: Sigurd because of the magic spell cast over him by Grimhild; Brunhild because of the altered appearance of her lover.

The maiden shrank in disappointment from the dark-haired intruder, for she had deemed it impossible for any but Sigurd to ride through the flaming circle. But she advanced reluctantly to meet her visitor, and when he declared that he had come to woo her, she [285]permitted him to take a husband’s place at her side, for she was bound by solemn injunction to accept as her spouse him who should thus seek her through the flames.

Three days did Sigurd remain with Brunhild, and his bright sword lay bared between him and his bride. This singular behaviour aroused the curiosity of the maiden, wherefore Sigurd told her that the gods had bidden him celebrate his wedding thus.

“There they went in one bed together; but the foster-brother laid

’Twixt him and the body of Brynhild his bright blue battle-blade;


<<<
>>>