The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 102

"For the sake of the gold that is in the Dragon's cave he would slay him," said the second bird.

And the third bird said: "If he would eat the Dragon's heart himself he would know all wisdom."

But the fourth bird said: "He has tasted a drop of the Dragon's blood and he knows what we are saying."

The four birds did not fly away nor cease from speaking. Instead they began to tell of a marvelous abode that was known to them.

Deep in the forest, the birds sang, there was a Hall that was called the House of Flame. Its ten walls were Uni, Iri, Barri, Ori, Varns, Vegdrasil, Derri, Uri, Dellinger, Atvarder, and each wall was built by the Dwarf whose name it bore. All round the Hall there was a circle of fire through which none might pass. And within the Hall a maiden slept, and she was the wisest and the bravest and the most beautiful maiden in the world.

Sigurd stood like a man enchanted listening to what the birds sang.

But suddenly they changed the flow of their discourse, and their notes became sharp and piercing.

"Look, look!" cried one. "He is coming against the youth."[Pg 222]

"He is coming against the youth with a spear," cried another.

"Now will the youth be slain unless he is swift," cried a third.

Sigurd turned round and he saw Regin treading the way toward him, grim and silent, with a spear in his hands. The spear would have gone through Sigurd had he stayed one instant longer in the place where he had been listening to the speech of the birds. As he turned he had his sword in his hand, and he flung it, and Gram struck Regin on the breast.

Then Regin cried out: "I die—I die without having laid my hands on the hoard that Fafnir guarded. Ah, a curse was upon the hoard, for Hreidmar and Fafnir and I have perished because of it. May the curse of the gold now fall on the one who is my slayer."

Then did Regin breathe out his life. Sigurd took the body and cast it into the pit that was alongside the dead Fafnir. Then, that he might eat the Dragon's heart and become the wisest of men, he went to where he had left it roasting. And he thought that when he had eaten the heart he would go into the Dragon's cave and carry away the treasure that was there, and bring it as spoil of his battle to King Alv and to his mother. Then he would go through the forest and find the House of Flame where slept the maiden who was the wisest and bravest and most beautiful in the world.

But Sigurd did not eat the Dragon's heart. When he came to where he had left it roasting he found that the fire had burnt it utterly.

[Pg 223]