The hero bowed his head and promised to shield the King from danger, then they said farewell to the maiden, and embarked in the little ship that awaited them on the banks of the Rhine. Nor did Siegfried forget to take with him his Cloak of Darkness and his good sword Balmung.
Now none was there on the ship save King Gunther, Siegfried, Hagen, and Dankwart, but Siegfried with his Cloak of Darkness had the strength of twelve men as well as his own strong right hand.
Merrily sailed the little ship, steered by Sir Siegfried himself. Soon the Rhine river was left behind and they were out on the sea, a strong wind filling their sails. Ere evening, full twenty miles had the good ship made.
For twelve days they sailed onward, until before them rose the grim fortress that guarded Isenland.
“What towers are these?” cried King Gunther, as he gazed upon the turreted castle which looked as a grim sentinel guarding the land.
“These,” answered the hero, “are Queen Brunhild’s towers and this is the country over which she rules.”
Then turning to Hagen and Dankwart Siegfried begged them to let him be spokesman to the Queen, for he knew her wayward moods. “And King Gunther shall be my king,” said the Prince, “and I but his vassal until we leave Isenland.”
And Hagen and Dankwart, proud men though they were, obeyed in all things the words of the young Prince of the Netherlands.
SIEGFRIED SUBDUES BRUNHILD
The little ship had sailed on now close beneath the castle, so close indeed that as the King looked up to the window he could catch glimpses of beautiful maidens passing to and fro.
Sir Siegfried also looked and laughed aloud for glee. It would be but a little while until Brunhild was won and he was free to return to his winsome lady Kriemhild.
By this time the maidens in the castle had caught sight of the ship, and many bright eyes were peering down upon King Gunther and his three brave comrades.
“Look well at the fair maidens, sire,” said Siegfried to the King. “Among them all show me her whom thou wouldst choose most gladly as your bride.”
“Seest thou the fairest of the band,” cried the King, “she who is clad in a white garment? It is she and no other whom I would wed.”
Right merrily then laughed Siegfried. “The maiden,” said he gaily, “is in truth none other than Queen Brunhild herself.”
The King and his warriors now moored their vessel and leaped ashore, Siegfried leading with him the King’s charger. For each knight had brought his steed with him from the fair land of Burgundy.
More bright than ever beamed the bright eyes of the ladies at the castle window. So fair, so gallant a knight never had they seen, thought the damsels as they gazed upon Sir Siegfried. And all the while King Gunther dreamed their glances were bent on no other than himself.