The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 106

But in the half light of the dawn one came to the Volsung ship. A cloak and hood covered the figure, but Sigmund, who was the watcher, knew who it was. "Signy!" he said, and Signy asked that her father and her brothers be awakened until she would speak to them of a treason that was brewed against them.

"King Siggeir has made ready a great army against your coming," she told them. "He hates the Volsungs, the branch as well as the root, and it is his plan to fall upon you, my father and my brothers, with his great army and slay you all. And he would possess himself of Gram, Sigmund's wonder-sword. Therefore, I say to you, O Volsungs, draw your ship into the sea and sail from the land where such treachery can be."

But Volsung, her father, would not listen. "The Volsungs do not depart like broken men from a land they have brought their ship to," he said. "We gave, each and all, the word that we would visit King Siggeir and visit him we will. And if he is a dastard and would fall upon us, why we are the unbeaten Volsungs, and we will fight against him and his army and slay him, and bear you back with us to the Hall of the Branstock. The day widens now, and we shall go to the Hall."

Signy would have spoken of the great army King Siggeir had gathered, but she knew that the Volsungs never harkened to talk of odds. She spoke no more, but bowed her head and went back to King Siggeir's hall.[Pg 230]

Siggeir knew that Signy had been to warn her father and her brothers. He called the men he had gathered and he posted them cunningly in the way the Volsungs would come. Then he sent one to the ship with a message of welcome.

As they left their ship the army of King Siggeir fell upon the Volsungs and their followers. Very fierce was the battle that was waged on the beach, and many and many a one of King Siggeir's fierce fighters went down before the fearless ones that made Volsung's company. But at last Volsung himself was slain and his eleven sons were taken captive. And Gram, his mighty sword, was taken out of Sigmund's hands.

They were brought before King Siggeir in his hall, the eleven Volsung princes. Siggeir laughed to see them before him. "Ye are not in the Hall of the Branstock now, to dishonor me with black looks and scornful words," he said, "and a harder task will be given you than that of drawing a sword out of a tree-trunk. Before set of sun I will see you hewn to pieces with the sword."

Then Signy who was there stood up with her white face and her wide eyes, and she said: "I pray not for longer life for my brothers, for well I know that my prayers would avail them nought. But dost thou not heed the proverb, Siggeir—'Sweet to the eye as long as the eye can see'?"