The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 110

Sigmund went through the forest in the direction of the struggle. On his way he passed the bodies of eleven slain men. And he came upon Sinfiotli lying in the thicket, his wolf's shape upon him, and panting from the battle he had waged.[Pg 237]

"Thou didst strive with eleven men. Why didst thou not call to me?" Sigmund said.

"Why should I have called to thee? I am not so feeble but I can strive with eleven men."

Sigmund was made angry with this answer. He looked on Sinfiotli where he lay, and the wicked wolf's nature that was in the skin came over him. He sprang upon him, sinking his teeth in Sinfiotli's throat.

Sinfiotli lay gasping in the throes of death. And Sigmund, knowing the deadly grip that was in those jaws of his, howled his anguish.

Then, as he licked the face of his comrade, he saw two weasels meet. They began to fight, one with the other, and the first caught the second at the throat, and bit him with his teeth and laid him out as if in death. Sigmund marked the combat and the end of it. But then the first weasel ran and found leaves of a certain herb and he put them upon his comrade's wound. And the herb cured the wound, and the weasel that was bitten rose up and was sound and swift again.

Sigmund went searching for the herb he saw the weasel carry to his comrade. And as he sought for it he saw a raven with a leaf in her beak. She dropped the leaf as he came to her, and behold! It was the same leaf as the weasel had brought to his comrade. Sigmund took it and laid it on the wound he had made in Sinfiotli's throat, and the wound healed, and Sinfiotli was sound once more. They went back to their hut in the forest. And the next day they burnt the wolfskins, and they prayed the Gods that they[Pg 238] might never be afflicted with the wolf's evil nature again. And Sigmund and Sinfiotli never afterwards changed their shapes.

[Pg 239]


And now Sinfiotli had come to his full strength and it was time to take vengeance on King Siggeir for the slaying of Volsung and the dread doom he had set for Volsung's ten sons. Sigmund and Sinfiotli put helmets on their heads and took swords in their hands and went to King Siggeir's Hall. They hid behind the casks of ale that were at the entrance and they waited for the men-at-arms to leave the Hall that they might fall upon King Siggeir and his attendants.

The younger children of King Siggeir were playing in the Hall and one let fall a ball. It went rolling behind the[Pg 240] casks of ale. And the child peering after the ball saw two men crouching with swords in their hands and helmets on their heads.

The child told a servant who told the King. Then Siggeir arose, and he drew his men-at-arms around him, and he set them on the men who were hiding behind the barrels. Sigmund and Sinfiotli sprang up and fought against the men of King Siggeir, but they were taken captives.

Now they might not be slain there and then, for it was unlawful to slay captives after sunset. But for all that, King Siggeir would not leave them above ground. He decreed that they should be put in a pit, and a mound made over them so that they would be buried alive.

The sentence was carried out. A great flagstone was put down to divide the pit in two, so that Sigmund and Sinfiotli might hear each other's struggle and not be able to give help to each other. All was done as the King commanded.

But while his thralls were putting sods over the pit, one came amongst them, cloaked and hooded, and dropped something wrapped in straw into the side of the pit where Sinfiotli lay. And when the sky was shut out from them with the turf and soil that was put over the pit, Sinfiotli shouted to Sigmund: "I shall not die, for the queen has thrown down to me meat wrapped in a parcel of straw."

And a while afterwards Sinfiotli shouted to Sigmund: "The queen has left a sword in the meat which she flung down to me. It is a mighty sword. Almost I think it is Gram, the sword you told me of."