The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 103

He called to Grani, his proud horse; he stood up on a mound in the Heath and he sent forth a great shout. And Grani heard in the cave where Regin had left him and he came galloping to Sigurd with flowing mane and eyes flashing fire.

He mounted Grani and he rode to Fafnir's cave. When he went into the place where the Dragon was wont to lie he saw a door of iron before him. With Gram, his mighty sword, he hewed through the iron, and with his strong hands he pulled the door back. Then, before him he saw the treasure the Dragon guarded, masses of gold and heaps of shining jewels.

But as he looked on the hoard Sigurd felt some shadow of the evil that lay over it all. This was the hoard that in[Pg 224] the far-off days the River-Maidens watched over as it lay deep under the flowing water. Then Andvari the Dwarf forced the River-Maidens to give it to him. And Loki had taken it from Andvari, letting loose as he did Gulveig the Witch who had such evil power over the Gods. For the sake of the hoard Fafnir had slain Hreidmar, his father, and Regin had plotted death against Fafnir, his brother.

Not all this history did Sigurd know. But a shadow of its evil touched his spirit as he stood there before the gleaming and glittering heap. He would take all of it away, but not now. The tale that the birds told was in his mind, and the green of the forest was more to him than the glitter of the treasure heap. He would come back with chests and load it up and carry it to King Alv's hall. But first he would take such things as he himself might wear.

He found a helmet of gold and he put it on his head. He found a great armring and his put it around his arm. On the top of the armring there was a small fingerring with a rune graved upon it. Sigurd put it on his finger. And this was the ring that Andvari the Dwarf had put the curse upon when Loki had taken the hoard from him.

He knew that no one would cross the Heath and come to Fafnir's lair, so he did not fear to leave the treasure unguarded. He mounted Grani, his proud horse, and rode toward the forest. He would seek the House of Flame where she lay sleeping, the maiden who was the wisest and the bravest and the most beautiful in the world. With his golden helmet shining above his golden hair Sigurd rode on.[Pg 225]

As he rode toward the forest he thought of Sigmund, his father, whose slaying he had avenged, and he thought of Sigmund's father, Volsung, and of the grim deeds that the Volsungs had suffered and wrought.

Rerir, the son of Sigi who was the son of Odin, was the father of Volsung. And Volsung when he was in his first manhood had built his hall around a mighty tree. Its branches went up to the roof and made the beams of the house and its great trunk was the center of the hall. "The Branstock" the tree was called, and Volsung hall was named "The Hall of the Branstock."