The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 107

And Siggeir laughed his evil laugh when he heard her. "Aye, my Queen," he said, "sweet to the eye as long as the eye may see their torments. They shall not die at once nor all together. I will let them see each other die."[Pg 231]

So Siggeir gave a new order to his dastard troops. The order was that the eleven brothers should be taken into the depths of the forest and chained to great beams and left there. This was done with the eleven sons of Volsung.

The next day one who had watched and who was faithful to Signy came, and Signy said to him: "What has befallen my brothers?"

And the watcher said: "A great wolf came to where the chained men are, and fell upon the first of them and devoured him."

When Signy heard this no tears came from her eyes, but that which was hard around her heart became harder. She said, "Go again, and watch what befalls."

And the watcher came the second time and said: "The second of your brothers has been devoured by the wolf." Signy shed no tears this time either, and again that which was hard around her heart became harder.

And every day the watcher came and he told her what had befallen her brothers. And it came to the time when but one of her brothers was left alive, Sigmund, the youngest.

Then said Signy: "Not without device are we left at the end. I have thought of what is to be done. Take a pot of honey to where he is chained and smear Sigmund's face with the honey."

The watcher did as Signy bade him.

Again the great wolf came along the forest-ways to where Sigmund was chained. When she snuffed over him she found the honey upon his face. She put down her[Pg 232] tongue to lick over his face. Then, with his strong teeth Sigmund seized the tongue of the wolf. She fought and she struggled with all her might, but Sigmund did not let go of her tongue. The struggle with the beast broke the beam to which he was chained. Then Sigmund seized the wolf with his hands and tore her jaws apart.

The watcher saw this happening and told of it to Signy. A fierce joy went through her, and she said: "One of the Volsungs lives, and vengeance will be wrought upon King Siggeir and upon his house."

Still the watcher stayed in the ways of the forest, and he marked where Sigmund built for himself a hidden hut. Often he bore tokens from Signy to Sigmund. Sigmund took to the ways of the hunter and the outlaw, but he did not forsake the forest. And King Siggeir knew not that one of the Volsungs lived and was near him.

[Pg 233]


As Sigurd rode the ways of the forest he thought upon Sigmund, his father, on his life and his death, according to what Hiordis, his mother, had told him. Sigmund lived for long the life of the hunter and the outlaw, but he never strayed far from the forest that was in King Siggeir's dominion. Often did he get a token from Signy. They two, the last of the Volsungs, knew that King Siggeir and his house would have to perish for the treason he had wrought on their father and their brothers.