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King Siggeir came forward and strove vainly to loosen the sword, and after him came King Volsung, then each according to his degree, save only Sigmund, who hung back. Last of all came he, and, as he touched the sword, behold! it came forth in his hand.

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Then was Siggeir wroth and said: "Brother Sigmund, much treasure have I at home, but not such a sword as this. Yield it unto me for thrice its weight in gold."

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But Sigmund answered with scorn: "Gold need I not, but a good sword shall I need throughout my life. Thou 10 hadst the same chance as I to take it; why didst thou not do it?"

Black grew the heart of Siggeir at this taunt, and white was his face, though, being cunning, he hid his anger. But, to be revenged, he would not stay for the 15 usual seven days of feasting, saying that storms would come, and he and his bride must away, and that her father and brethren must come to finish the feast in Gothland within three months.

Then disaster fell swiftly on the race of the Volsungs, 20 for when the King sailed to Gothland, as his promise was, Siggeir's men attacked him treacherously, and slew him and all his followers, excepting his ten sons. These Siggeir first took alive and then put them to a cruel death, -all save Sigmund, for he, through his strength and 25 courage and with the help of Signi, escaped and fled into the forests, where he lived many years, plotting revenge

against Siggeir. Finally one night he set fire to Siggeir's hall and killed all that came forth, so that Siggeir and all his clan perished in the flames, yes, and even Signi. Then Sigmund gathered men and ships and sailed home to Hunland to live in the hall of the Branstock.

Still the years went by, and Sigmund grew old. Then new enemies fell upon Hunland, and Sigmund gathered his men, and began the most awesome fight that had been since the death of King Volsung. All day the fight went 10 forward, and old though Sigmund was, none could prevail against him. Naught could one see but the swift flash of the sword that no man might break, as he hewed his way through the throng, his arms red with blood.

Now, when the sun was at its setting there came up 15 against Sigmund a stranger in a blue-gray cloak; one-eyed and gray-bearded was he, and he carried a spear in his hand. And as the King's sword smote against the steel, behold, the good sword split in two pieces, and its fortune was gone.

20 Then the tide of battle turned, and the Volsung's men fell fast until all were dead or sore wounded. But Sigmund, still living, though stricken with death, lay upon the field. And through the darkness crept the gentle Queen, seeking her lord. Kneeling beside him, she asked, 25" Canst thou not be healed even now, my king?"

"Dear wife," he answered, "nay, and I would have it even as it is. I have lived long, and with my sword has

my fortune left me. Nor does Odin will that I should live, for he himself it was who broke my sword; and to him shall I journey, riding straight to Valhalla's gates. So to another must I leave it to avenge my father— to a mightier than I. Thou shalt have a son; care for him 5 well and save for him the two pieces of my sword; sword; thereof shall a noble weapon be made that shall be called Gram, and Siegfried shall wield it. He shall be the last and noblest of our race, and while this earth lasts shall the name of the Golden Siegfried be known. Now fare thee 10 well, dear heart, for I weary with my wounds and fain would feast with Odin."

– Katharine F. BOULT: Heroes of the Norselands.

un seem'ly, unbecoming, improper; wroth, angry; taunt, scornful words; treach'er ous ly, deceitfully, by a trick; awe'some, awful.

1. What did you learn about Odin in How Thor Went to the Land of the Giants? By what other name is Odin known? Which day of the week is called after him? 2. Tell in your own words the cause of the trouble between the Volsungs and King Siggeir. 3. How did King Siggeir treat the Volsungs when they went to Gothland as his guests? 4. Tell how Sigmund avenged the death of his father and brothers. 5. Describe his last great battle. Why was it unsuccessful? 6. Describe his death. What does he mean when he says he will ride to Valhalla's gates? 9. What did Sigmund prophesy just before his death? What task did he leave to

Siegfried?

Punctuation. - Find all the words in Lesson 26 in which the apostrophe is used. Explain in each case whether it marks posses sion or the omission of a letter.

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SIEGFRIED THE VOLSUNG (Continued)

THEN the Queen fled to Denmark, bearing with her Sigmund's treasure and with it the pieces of his sword, and there a son was born to her, and she named him Siegfried. The King of the Danes took the friendless lad, 5 the last of the Volsungs, under his protection, and he grew to be a brave and strong and noble youth. He was so gentle that little children ever ran to him and loved him. Yet could he fight, and was ever foremost in warlike sports, bearing in mind that he must be the avenger 10 of his father.

The wise old King chose for him a teacher to show him all those things that princes should know, to instruct him in all games of skill, in speech of many languages, in metal work, in woodcraft, and in shipcraft. This 15 teacher was Regin, the master smith. A strange being was he, misshapen yet not a dwarf, silent and grim unto all save only Siegfried; skilled in the lore of many lands, and in metal work, so that the people whispered of his kinship to the underground folk, who have all metals in 20 their keeping. But he was full of evil, and throughout the years of Siegfried's growth, he plotted how he might use the lad for his own wicked ends, and be his undoing.

And it came to Siegfried's mind that he should have

a horse, and he went to the King and begged a horse of him, and the King said:

"Go choose thee one from the herd by Busilwater; they are the best, and all that is mine is thine, brave

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Siegfried blithely thanked the King, and took his way to the meadow far up the woods, where the Busilwater ran. On the way he met an aged man, with a long gray beard and one eye, who asked whither he fared. "To choose me a horse, O Ancient One. If thou art a judge, 10 come with me to help my choice."

And the old man journeyed with him, telling him of his father, Sigmund, and his forefather, Volsung, whom the Aged One had known. Then Siegfried knew that this must be one of the god folk, to have lived so long. 15 As they talked, they came to the green meadow where the horses were, and the old man said, "Now will we drive the horses through the river of roaring water, and watch what will betide."

And the force of the water, rushing down from the 20 mountains, frighted the horses, so that they turned and swam to land again, save one gray horse with a broad, strong chest, who feared naught. He alone swam to the far side, and there landed, neighing and stamping with pride, then plunged into the torrent once more and swam 25 back to the Ancient One and Siegfried.

"This one must I choose: is it not so?" asked the

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