The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 104

Many children had Volsung, eleven sons and one daughter. Strong were all his sons and good fighters, and Volsung of the Hall of the Branstock was a mighty chief.

It was through Signy, the daughter of the house, that a feud and a deadly battle was brought to Volsung and his sons. She was a wise and a fair maiden and her fame went through all the lands. Now, one day Volsung received a message from a King asking for the hand of Signy in marriage. And Volsung who knew of this King through report of his battles sent a message to him saying that he would be welcome to the Hall of the Branstock.

So King Siggeir came with his men. But when the Volsungs looked into his face they liked it not. And Signy shrank away, saying, "This King is evil of heart and false of word."

Volsung and his eleven sons took counsel together. Siggeir had a great force of men with him, and if they refused to give her he could slay them all and harry their[Pg 226] kingdom. Besides they had pledged themselves to give Signy when they had sent him a message of welcome. Long counsel they had together. And ten of Signy's brothers said, "Let Signy wed this King. He is not as evil as he seems in her mind." Ten brothers said it. But one spoke out, saying, "We will not give our sister to this evil King. Rather let us all go down fighting with the Hall of the Branstock flaming above our heads."

It was Sigmund, the youngest of the Volsungs, who said this.

But Signy's father said: "We know nought of evil of King Siggeir. Also our word is given to him. Let him feast with us this night in the Hall of the Branstock and let Signy go from us with him as his wife." Then they looked to her and they saw Signy's face and it was white and stern. "Let it be as ye have said, my father and my brothers," she said. "I will wed King Siggeir and go with him overseas." So she said aloud. But Sigmund heard her say to herself, "It is woe for the Volsungs."

A feast was made and King Siggeir and his men came to the Hall of the Branstock. Fires were lighted and tables were spread, and great horns of mead went around the guests. In the middle of the feasting a stranger entered the Hall. He was taller than the tallest there, and his bearing made all do him reverence. One offered him a horn of mead and he drank it. Then, from under the blue cloak that he wore, he drew a sword that made the brightness of the Hall more bright.

He went to the tree that the Hall was built around, to[Pg 227] the Branstock, and he thrust the sword into it. All the company were hushed. Then they heard the voice of the stranger, a voice that was like the trumpet's call: "The sword is for the hand that can draw it out of the Branstock." Then he went out of the Hall.