The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

118       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

185.
Now Høgni sprang to saddle,
& rode in good greenwood;
& he met with his own dear mother
Eastward by Hildar's flood.
186.
A-smiling all in secret,
She looked the lad upon:
" I know in the blood of my body
Thou art mine own dear son. "
187.
Up & spake young Høgni:
" Little of that reck I!
Ne' er have I seen a false woman
Could tell so foul a lie. "
188.
" Thy knife, I ween, is sharp & keen;
Pierce thou mine arm,' quoth she;
& learn in thy heart, if thou feel the smart,
The truth 'twixt me & thee. "
189.
His hunting-blade he's taken,
That was both keen & bright,
& deep in his heart he felt the smart
When he scored her arm so white.
190.
A -smiling all in secret,
Quoth Høgni: 'Now & here,
I feel in the blood of my body
Thou art my mother dear. "
191.
" Now harken, Høgni, son o' mine,
For I waste not idle breath;
Høgni thy sire, if thou shouldst live,
Bade thee avenge his death.

THE BALLAD OF HØGNI       119

192.
" And take to thee this runic belt,
About thy loins to bind;
Its power can loosen every lock,
& lighten every mind.
193.
" Keep thou the belt with honour,
Guard thou the belt with pride!
I had it from thy father's hands
All on the night he died.
194.
" I give to thee both gold & fee,
& store of rings so red;
Take them to thee, thou son o' mine,
& think upon the dead! "
      ·       ·       ·
195.
Home to the hall goes Høgni
When first the faint stars shine,
& the King with all his merry men
Sits biding at the wine.
196.
Into the hall goes Høgni
To tend the torches there,
& behold, one fell his foot beside
Or ever the lad was ware.
197.
With the torch by his foot a-burning,
He stood in midmost hall;
Loud laughed King Artala,
& loud his warriors all.
198.
It was King Artala
That laughed, and could not tire:
" Whereon dost think so deep, thou swam,
That stirrest not for fire? "

120       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

199.
" Methinks great honour is thine, oh King
& store of gold so red,
But methinks thou'lt cry, ere thy days be done,
For water & eke for bread! "
200.
" Great store of gold is mine, I trow,
& honour is in my hall,
& ne'er shall I beg, ere my days be done,
For water, & bread withal. "
      ·       ·       ·
201.
All in the morning early,
When sun shone far & wide:
" Listeth thee now, King Artala,
In good greenwood to ride? "
202.
Up spake King Artala
& answered him so free:
" Full fain am I with thee to ride
Under the greenwood tree. "
203.
Red as blood the sunbeams
That shone upon the wold,
When Artala sought his treasure-house
To count his red, red gold.
204.
It was King Artala
That thus did speak & say:
" Now lithe & listen, warrior Sweyn,
" Tis thou shalt lead the way! "

THE BALLAD OF HØGNI       121

205.
Up & answered Høgni:
" I will not have it so,
For he that wears the royal crown
Must first thro' doorway go. "
206.
It was King Artala
That entered in before,
& Høgni turned the heavy key,
& swiftly barred the door.
207.
Glad was the heart of Høgni,
A-thinking on the past;
By virtue of his runic belt
He sealed the doorway fast.
208.
" Great store of fee is given to thee,
& honour is in thine hall,
But wilt thou not beg, King Artala,
For water, & bread withal? "
209.
" Great honour is mine my hall within,
& store of the gold so red,
But. I shall cry now in vain, I trow,
For water & eke for bread! "
210.
Yea, both those twain did cry in vain
Among the gold so red;
Thus did Høgni Høgnason
In vengeance for the dead.

122       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

211.
It was Høgni Høgnason
Great riches gained thereby,
But he entered not in the treasure-house
Till Artala's bones were dry.
212.
He bade farewell to his mother dear
All at the eventide,
& down to the realm of the Danish king
In haste did Høgni ride.

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