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HOME > Children's Novel > The Story of Siegfried > Adventure VII. In Nibelungen Land.
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Adventure VII. In Nibelungen Land.
 Every one in the castle of Isenstein, from the princess to the kitchen-maid, felt grateful to the young hero for what he had done. The best rooms were fitted up for his use, and a score of serving men and were set apart to do his bidding, and ordered to be mindful of his slightest wish. And all the earl-folk and brave men, and all the fair ladies, and Brunhild, fairest of them all, him to make his home there, nor ever think of going back to Rhineland. Siegfried yielded to their , and for six months he tarried in the land in one long round of merry-making and gay . But his thoughts were ever turned toward his father’s home in the Lowlands across the sea, and he longed to again his gentle mother Sigelind. Then he grew tired of his life of idleness and ease, and he wished that he might go out again into the busy world of action and deeds. And day by day this feeling grew stronger, and filled him with unrest.  
One morning, as he sat alone by the seashore, and watched the lazy tide come creeping up the sands, two lighted near him. Glad was he to see them, for he knew them to be Hugin and Munin, the sacred birds of Odin, and he felt sure that they brought him words of cheer from the All-Father. Then Hugin flapped his wings, and said, “In idleness the stings of death lie hidden, but in busy action are the springs of life. For a hundred years fair Brunhild slept, but why should Siegfried sleep? The world awaits him, but it waits too long.”
Then Munin flapped his wings also, but he said nothing. And busy memory carried Siegfried back to his boyhood days; and he called to mind the wise words of his father Siegmund, and the fond hopes of his gentle mother, and he thought, too, of the noble deeds of his kinsfolk of the earlier days. And he rose in haste, and cried, “Life of ease, farewell! I go where duty leads. To him who wills to do, the great All-Father will send strength and help.”
While he , his eyes were dazzled with a flash of light. He looked; and the beaming Greyfell, his long mane sparkling like a thousand sunbeams, dashed up the beach, and stood beside him. As the noble steed in all his strength and beauty stood before him, the youth felt fresh courage; for, in the presence of the shining hope which the All-Father had given him, all hinderances seemed to vanish, and all difficulties to be already overcome. He looked toward the sea again, and saw in the blue distance a white-sailed ship drawing swiftly near, its golden dragon-stem ploughing through the waves like some great bird of the deep. And as with straining, eager eyes, he watched its coming, he felt that Odin had sent it, and that the time had come wherein he must be up and doing. The hour for thriving action comes to us once: if not seized upon and used, it may never come again.
The ship drew near the shore. The sailors rested on their . Siegfried and the steed Greyfell sprang upon the deck; then the sailors silently again to their rowing. The flapping sails were filled and by the strong west wind; and the light leaped from wave to wave like a thing of life, until Isenstein, with its tall towers and its green marble halls, sank from sight in the distance and the mist. And Siegfried and his noble steed seemed to be the only living beings on board; for the sailors who the oars were so silent and phantom-like, that they appeared to be but the ghosts of the summer sea-breezes. As the ship sped swiftly on its way, all the creatures in the sea paused to behold the sight. The mermen rested from their weary search for hidden treasures, and the forgot to comb their long tresses, as the radiant vessel and its hero-freight past. And even old King AEgir left his brewing-kettle in his great hall, and bade his daughters, the white-veiled Waves, cease playing until the vessel should safely reach its .
When, at length, the day had passed, and the evening had come, Siegfried saw that the ship was nearing land; but it was a strange land.[EN#17] Like a fleecy cloud it appeared to rest above the waves, midway between the earth and the sky; a dark mist hung upon it, and it seemed a land of dreams and shadows. The ship drew nearer and nearer to the mysterious shore, and as it touched the beach the sailors rested from their rowing. Then Siegfried and the horse Greyfell leaped ; but, when they looked back, the fair vessel that had carried them was nowhere to be seen. Whether it had suddenly been clutched by the greedy fingers of the Sea-queen Ran, and dragged down into her deep sea-, or whether, like the ship Skidbladner, it had been folded up, and made invisible to the eyes of men, Siegfried never knew. The thick mists and the darkness of night closed over and around both hero and horse; and they dared not stir, but stood long hours in the silent gloom, waiting for the coming of the dawn.
At length the morning came, but the light was not strong enough to the fogs and thick that rested upon the land. Then Siegfried mounted Greyfell; and the sunbeams began to flash from the horse’s mane and from the hero’s glittering mail-coat; and the clouds fled upward and away, until they were caught and held fast by great mist-giants, who stood like sentinels on the mountain-tops. As the shining pair came up from the sea, and passed through the woods and valleys of the Nibelungen Land, there streamed over all that region such a flood of sunlight as had never before been seen.
In every leafy tree, and behind every blade of grass, elves and fairies were hidden; and under every rock and in every cunning . But Siegfried rode straight forward until he came to the steep side of a shadowy mountain. There, at the mouth of a , a strange sight met his eyes. Two young men, dressed in princes’ clothing, sat upon the ground: their features were all haggard and gaunt, and pinched with hunger, and their eyes wild with wakefulness and fear; and all around them were heaps of gold and precious stones,—more than a hundred could carry away. And neither of the two princes would leave the shining for food, nor close his eyes in sleep, lest the other might seize and hide some part of the treasure. And thus they had watched and hungered through many long days and nights, each hoping that the other would die, and that the whole inheritance might be his own.
When they saw Siegfried riding near, they called out to him, and said, “Noble stranger, stop a moment! Come and help us divide this treasure.”
“Who are you?” asked Siegfried; “and what treasure is it that lies there?”
“We are the sons of Niblung, who until lately was king of this Mist Land. Our names are Schilbung and the young Niblung,” faintly answered the princes.
“And what are you doing here with this gold and these glittering stones?”
“This is the great Nibelungen Hoard, which our father not long ago brought from the South-land. It is not clear just how he obtained it.[EN#18] Some say that he got it unjustly from his brother, whose had digged it from the earth. Others say that he found it lying on the Glittering Heath, where Fafnir the Dragon had guarded it for ages past, until he was by a hero who cared nought for his gold. But, be this as it may, our father is now dead, and we have brought the hoard out of the cavern where he had hidden it, in order that we may share it between us equally. But we cannot agree, and we pray you to help us divide it.”
Then Siegfried dismounted from the horse Greyfell, and came near the two princes.
“I will gladly do as you ask,” said he; “but first I must know more about your father,—who he was, and whether this is really the Hoard of the Glittering Heath.”
Then Niblung answered, as well as his feeble voice would allow, “Our father was, from the earliest times, the ruler of this land, and the lord of the fog and the mist. Many strongholds, and many noble halls, had he in this land; and ten thousand brave were ever ready to do his bidding. The trolls, and the swarthy elves of the mountains, and the giants of the cloudy peaks, were his vassals. But he did more than rule over the Nibelungen Land. Twice every year he crossed the sea and through the Rhine valleys, or loitered in the moist Lowlands; and now and then he brought rich back to his island home. The last time, he brought this treasure with him; but, as we have said, it is not clear how he obtained it. We have heard men say that it was the Hoard of Andvari, and that when Fafnir, the dragon who watched it, was slain, the hero who him left it to be taken again by the swarthy elves who had gathered it; but because of a curse which Andvari had placed upon it, no one would touch it, until some man would assume its ownership, and take upon himself the risk of the curse. This thing, it is said, our father did. And the Alberich undertook to keep it for him; and he, with the help of the ten thousand elves who live in these caverns, and the twelve giants whom you see on the mountain-peaks around, guarded it faithfully so long as our father lived. But, when he died, we and our fetched it <............
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