The king was heavy of his cheer, and Siegfried, the good knight, saw that he was downcast, but wist not the reason, and asked King Gunther what ailed him. “I marvel much,” said Siegfried, “that thou takest no part in our sports as heretofore.” And Gunther, the doughty knight, answered him, “Not to every man may I declare the secret heaviness of my heart; only unto true friends shall the heart tell its dole.”
Siegfried changed color, and grew red and white, and he said to the king, “I have denied thee naught, and now I would help thee. If thou seekest friends, I will be one of them, and stand to it truly to my life`s end.”
“Now God requite thee, Sir Siegfried, for I like thy word; and albeit thy might availed me nothing, I would rejoice none the less that thou art well minded toward me; as much and more will I do to thee if I live. I will tell thee the cause of my trouble. Envoys from my foemen have brought a message that with an army they will come against me; such inroad of warriors hath not been aforetime in this country.”
“Be not sorrowful for that,” answered Siegfried; “be of good cheer, and do now as I say. I will win for thee honor and profit or ever thy foemen reach this land. Had thy stark adversaries thirty thousand warriors at their back, and I but one thousand, I would withstand them— trust me for that.”
King Gunther answered, “Thou shalt be well paid for this.”
“Give me a thousand of thy knights, since of mine own I have but twelve here with me, and I will keep thy land for thee. The hand of Siegfried will serve thee truly. Hagen shall help us in this, and also Ortwin, Dankwart, and Sindolt, thy loving knights, and eke Folker, the bold man, who shall bear the standard: better knight thou wilt not find. Bid the envoys return to their country; tell them they shall see us there soon Enow. So shall our castles go scatheless.”
Gifts and an Escort
The king let summon his kinsmen and his liegemen, and Ludger`s messengers went to the court. They were glad to be gone. Gunther, the good king, gave them gifts and an escort, whereat they were well content.
Spake Gunther, “Thou shalt say this wise to my haughty foemen:
`They did wisely to turn from their journey, for if my friends fail me not, and they seek me here in my land, they will find work Enow.`”
They brought out rich gifts for the envoys, whereof Gunther had to spare, and these said not “nay.” Then they took their leave, and departed rejoicing.
When the messengers were come again to Denmark, and told Lud gast how that the Rhinemen would ride thither, he was wroth at their boldness. They made report to him of the many brave men Gunther had, and how that they had seen a knight there amidst of them that hight Siegfried, a hero from the Netherland, the which was heavy news for Ludgast.
When they of Denmark heard it, they hasted the more to summon their friends, till that Ludgast had ready for the onset twenty thousand warriors withal.
On like manner Ludger of Saxony summoned his men to the number of forty thousand, ready to march into Burgundy.
The same also did King Gunther to his liegemen, and to his brothers with their vassals, and to Hagen and his knights. These were sorry Enow at the news; by reason thereof many a knight looked on death.
They hasted and made ready for the journey. Brave Folker bare the standard. They purposed to cross the Rhine from Worms. Hagen of Trony led the force. Sindolt and bold Hunolt were there, that they might deserve King Gunther`s gold; also Hagen`s brother Dankwart, and Ortwin, fit men and worthy for the undertaking.
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