In games and merry pastimes the hours of the day sped fast away, until the great bell of the Minster pealed, calling the gay company to the house of God for evensong. Siegfried and the four hundred squires knelt before the altar, ere they were knighted by the royal hand of Siegmund the King.
The solemn service ended, the new-made knights hastened back to the castle, and there in the great hall a mighty tournament was held. Knights who had grown gray in service tilted with those who but that day had been given the grace of knighthood. Lances splintered, shields fell before the mighty onslaughts of the gallant warriors, until King Siegmund bade the tilting cease.
Then in the great hall feasting and song held sway until daylight faded and the stars shone bright.
Yet no weariness knew the merrymakers. The next morning, and for six long summer days, they tilted, they sang, they feasted.
When at length the great festival drew to a close, Siegmund in the presence of his guests gave to his dear son Siegfried many lands and strong castles over which he might be lord.
To all his son’s comrades, too, the King gave steeds and costly raiment, while Queen Sieglinde bestowed upon them freely coins of gold. Such abundant gifts had never before been dreamed of as were thus lavished by Siegmund and Sieglinde on their guests.
As the rich nobles looked upon the brave young Prince Siegfried, there were some who whispered among themselves that they would fain have him to rule in the land.
Siegfried heard their whispers, but in no wise did he give heed to the wish of the nobles.
Never, he thought while his beautiful mother and his bounteous father lived, would he wear the crown.
Indeed Siegfried had no wish to sit upon a throne, he wished but to subdue the evil-doers in the land. Or better still, he wished to go forth in search of new adventure. And this right soon he did.
SIEGFRIED AT THE COURT OF WORMS
At the Court of Worms in Burgundy dwelt the Princess Kriemhild, whose fame for beauty and kindness had spread to many a far-off land. She lived with her mother Queen Ute and her three brothers King Gunther, King Gernot, and King Giselher. Her father had long been dead. Gunther sat upon the throne and had for chief counselor his cruel uncle Hagen.
One night Kriemhild dreamed that a beautiful wild hawk with feathers of gold came and perched upon her wrist. It grew so tame that she took it with her to the hunt. Upward it soared when loosed toward the bright blue sky. Then the dream-maiden saw two mighty eagles swoop down upon her petted hawk and tear it to pieces.
The Princess told her dream to her mother, who said, “The hawk, my daughter, is a noble knight who shall be thy husband, but, alas, unless God defend him from his foes, thou shalt lose him ere he has long been thine.” Kriemhild replied, “O lady mother, I wish no knight to woo me from thy side.” “Nay,” said the Queen, “Speak not thus, for God will send to thee a noble knight and strong.”