Then with a smile defiant uprose the stranger tall,
A look of wrath heroic spread o’er his features all,—
He smote with sword the table till through the hall it rang;
And up from oaken benches the steel-clad warriors sprang.
“And now, sir king, please listen while I my
vow shall tell,—
Young Fridthjof is my kinsman, and so I know him well;
’Gainst all the world I’ll shield him, I give you here my word,
So help me now my norn, and likewise my good sword.”
The king then laughed. “Right daring, methinks,
your speech,” said he,
“But in this Northland palace shall all fair words be free;
My queen, fill him a bumper of wine, the very best,—
I hope that through the winter he’ll here remain our guest.”
The queen then took the goblet, before her it was
A rare and costly jewel, which once the ure’s head graced;
It stood on feet of silver, and on its golden bands
Were runes of high achievement, engraved by skillful hands.
With downcast eyes she reached him the goblet, brimming
But with a hand so trembling that wine thereon was spilled:
As evening’s shades so ruddy upon the lilies glow,
So gleamed the drops of ruby on hand as white as snow.
The guest the horn accepted with reverential bow,—
Not two men could have drained it, as men are reckoned now,—
Without an instant’s waiting the strong man, at a draught,
The lovely queen to honor, the brimming ruby quaffed.
The skald at table seated, his waiting harp brought
And sang a heartfelt story of true love in the North,—
Of Hagbert and of Signe; and at the deep tones’ peal
Each warrior’s heart was melted, though clad his breast in steel.
He sang of Valhal’s mansions, of heroes’
Of ancient deeds of valor, on fields of wave and sward;
Then grasped each hand its sword-hilt, then flashed each eye intent,—
And quickly round the table the foaming mead-horn went.
And lively was the drinking within that royal hall,—
An honest Yule carousal engaged the champions all;
The sleep that followed after no care or anger stained;
But Ring, the aged monarch, with Ingeborg remained.
The ride on the ice.
King Ring to a banquet his queen would take,
The ice like a mirror o’erspread the lake.
“Go not on the ice,” said the stranger
“It may break, and the bath is too deep and cold.”
“The king,” answered Ring, “is not
Whoever is fearful let him go round.”
The stranger was angered and sullen frowned,—
Then quickly his skates to his feet he bound.
The sledge-horse sets out, he is strong and free,—
His nostrils are flaming, so glad is he.
“Strike out,” cried the monarch, “my
And show if you are of the Sleipner blood.”