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Hamilton Wright Mabie
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 308 pages of information about Heroes Every Child Should Know.

The whole company sat down to their meal.  There was plenty of every kind, but wine was wanting.  “How is this?” said Siegfried:  “the kitchen is plentiful; but where is the wine?” Said Gunther the King, “’Tis Hagen’s fault, who makes us all go dry.”  “True, Sir King,” said Hagen, “my fault it is.  But I know of a runnel, cold and clear, that is hard by.  Let us go thither and quench our thirst.”  Then Siegfried rose from his place, for his thirst was sore, and would have sought the place.  Said Hagen, when he saw him rise, “I have heard say that there is no man in all the land so fleet of foot as Siegfried.  Will he deign to let us see his speed?” “With all my heart,” cried the hero.  “Let us race from hence to the runnel.”  “’Tis agreed,” said Hagen the traitor.  “Furthermore,” said Siegfried, “I will carry all the equipment that I bare in the chase.”  So Gunther and Hagen stripped them to their shirts, but Siegfried carried sword and spear, all his hunting-gear, and yet was far before the two at the runnel.

Yet, such was his courtesy, that he would not drink before the King had quenched his thirst.  He was ill repaid, I trow, for his grace.  For when the King had drunk, as Siegfried knelt plunging his head into the stream, Sir Hagen took his spear and smote him on the little crosslet mark that was worked on his cloak between his shoulders.  And when he had struck the blow he fled in mortal fear.  When Siegfried felt that he was wounded, he rose with a great bound from his knees and sought for his weapons.  But these the false Hagen had taken and laid far away.  Only the shield was left.  This he took in his hand and hurled at Hagen with such might that it felled the traitor to the ground, and was itself broken to pieces.  If the hero had but had his good sword Balmung in his hand, the murderer had not escaped with his life that day.

Then all the Rhineland warriors gathered about him.  Among them was King Gunther, making pretence to lament.  To him said Siegfried, “Little it profits to bewail the man whose murder you have plotted.  Did I not save you from shame and defeat?  Is this the recompense that you pay?  And yet even of you I would ask one favour.  Have some kindness for my wife.  She is your sister; if you have any knightly faith and honour remaining, guard her well.”  Then there came upon him the anguish of death.  Yet one more word he spake, “Be sure that in slaying me you have slain yourselves.”  And when he had so spoken he died.

Then they laid his body on a shield and carried it back, having agreed among themselves to tell this tale, that Sir Siegfried having chosen to hunt by himself was slain by robbers in the wood.

CHAPTER IX

ROLAND

The trumpets sounded and the army went on its way to France.  The next day King Charles called his lords together.  “You see,” said he, “these narrow passes.  Whom shall I place to command the rearguard?  Choose you a man yourselves.”  Said Ganelon, “Whom should we choose but my son-in-law, Count Roland?  You have no man in your host so valiant.  Of a truth he will be the salvation of France.”  The King said when he heard these words, “What ails you, Ganelon?  You look like to one possessed.”

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