The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 92

"The noble warrior, white-haired and white-bearded, who lies yonder—is he King Sigmund?"

The woman answered, "Yes, lord, and I am his Queen."

"We have heard of King Sigmund," said Alv's father. "His fame and the fame of his race, the Volsungs, is over the wide world."

Alv said no word to either of the women, but his eyes stayed on the one who had on the garb of a serving-maid. She was on her knees, wrapping in a beast's skin two pieces of a broken sword.[Pg 201]

"You will surely protect us, good lords," said she who had on the queenly dress.

"Yea, wife of King Sigmund, we will protect you and your serving-maid," said Alv's father, the old King.

Then the women took the warriors to a wild place on the seashore and they showed them where King Sigmund's treasure was hidden amongst the rocks: cups of gold and mighty armrings and jeweled collars. Prince Alv and his father put the treasure on the ship and brought the two women aboard. Then they sailed from the land.

That was before Sigurd, the fosterson of King Alv, was born.

Now the mother of Alv was wise and little of what she saw escaped her noting. She saw that of the two women that her son and her husband had brought into their kingdom, the one who wore the dress of the serving-maid had unflinching eyes and a high beauty, while the one who wore the queenly dress was shrinking and unstately. One night when all the women of the household were sitting round her, spinning wool by the light of torches in the hall, the Queen-mother said to the one who wore the queenly garb:

"Thou art good at rising in the morning. How dost thou know in the dark hours when it wears to dawn?"

The one clad in the queenly garb said, "When I was young I used to rise to milk the cows, and I waken ever since at the same hour."

The Queen-mother said to herself, "It is a strange country in which the royal maids rise to milk the cows."[Pg 202]

Then she said to the one who wore the clothes of the serving-maid:

"How dost thou know in the dark hours when the dawn is coming?"

"My father," she said, "gave me the ring of gold that I wear, and always before it is time to rise I feel it grow cold on my finger."

"It is a strange country, truly," said the Queen-mother to herself, "in which the serving-maids wear rings of gold."

When all the others had left she spoke to the two women who had been brought into her country. To the one who wore the clothes of a serving-maid she said:

"Thou art the Queen."

Then the one who wore the queenly clothes said, "Thou art right, lady. She is the Queen, and I cannot any longer pretend to be other than I am."

Then the other woman spoke. Said she: "I am the Queen as thou hast said—the Queen of King Sigmund who was slain. Because a King sought for me I changed clothes with my serving-maid, my wish being to baffle those who might be sent to carry me away.