Nibelungs - George Upton

The Feast

At midday all were summoned to the royal feast, and the Huns likewise appeared in full armor, whereat King Etzel's wrath arose. Whosoever deemed it fit to sit at feast in arms, him should he not gainsay, he said, but woe unto any who should hold designs against his guests! During the feast Kriemhild left the hall and summoning the prince of Bern and his lion-hearted old warrior, Hildebrand, to her, spoke with them privately. Bitterly she complained of all her wrongs and besought them to avenge her. But Hildebrand said: "No evil would I do the knights of Burgundy for all the gold that one could offer me!"

And Dietrich added: "King Gunther's kin never wronged or injured me; wherefore my dishonor were great did I now seek to stir up strife with them."

Therewith they returned to the hall, and Kriemhild sent for Blodelin, the brother of the King, and with passionate words urged him to vengeance against the traitor who had done her such foul wrong; but as Etzel had made it plain that he held the Burgundians as his friends, Blodelin feared to incur his wrath. Thereupon Kriemhild promised him much silver and gold and likewise the hand of a fair dame, the widow of Sir Nudung, for whom he long had sighed, and when she added thereto the gift of rich lands, at last he yielded and swore to do her will in all things.

"Now, by my faith, that false Hagen shall pay for all thy wrongs!" he cried, "nor will I rest till I have brought him to thy feet!"

Joyfully Kriemhild returned to the hall and seated herself once more beside her lord. But Blodelin went forthwith to his followers and bade them arm, which they did right willingly, for secretly they hated the Burgundians. Kriemhild in her vengeful fury had bethought her of yet another plan, and this was to cause her son Ortlieb to be brought to her.

"Surely," she thought, "will Hagen say evil words about the child to excite my wrath and thus affront my husband and his Hunnish kin, whereby strife will ensue." Accordingly, four of Etzel's knights were despatched to fetch the young prince thither, whereat the King was greatly pleased. Taking the boy by the hand, he said:

"My friends, behold my only son! I commend him to your affection. Should he grow to be like his kin, I shall have in him a bold and stalwart hero, worthy in truth to wear my crown and fill his high estate; for many a duke and king will one day do him homage. Take him with you, I pray, unto your court, that he may gain all knightly virtues there in return for which will I give you hearty thanks!"

Hagen replied: "If he lives to grow to man's estate, full many an honor well may be his; but as to that, methinks I see an early death imprinted on his brow!

At these words terror seized the Burgundians, who gladly would have had them left unsaid, but Etzel gazed before him with a troubled look, and spoke no word. Little did he surmise the frightful thought in Hagen's mind.