The Story of the Volsungs

Chapter x.

The ending of Sinfjatli, Sigmund’s Son.

Now the Volsungs fare back home, and have gained great renown by these deeds. But Sinfjotli betook himself to warfare anew; and therewith he had sight of an exceeding fair woman, and yearned above all things for her, but that same woman was wooed also of the brother of Borghild, the king’s wife: and this matter they fought out betwixt them, and Sinfjotli slew that king; and thereafter he harried far and wide, and had many a battle and even gained the day; and he became hereby honoured and renowned above all men; but in autumn tide he came home with many ships and abundant wealth.

Then he told his tidings to the king his father, and he again to the queen, and she for her part bids him get him gone from the realm, and made as if she would in nowise see him. But Sigmund said he would not drive him away, and offered her atonement of gold and great wealth for her brother’s life, albeit he said he had never erst given weregild 26 to any for the slaying of a man, but no fame it was to uphold wrong against a woman.

So seeing she might not get her own way herein, she said, “Have thy will in this matter, O my lord, for it is seemly so to be.”

And now she holds the funeral feast for her brother by the aid and counsel of the king, and makes ready all things thereœor in the best of wise, and bade thither many great men.

At that feast, Borghild the queen bare the drink to folk, and she came over against Sinfjofli with a great horn, and said —

“Fall to now and drink, fair stepson!”

Then he took the horn to him, and looked therein, and said —

“Nay, for the drink is charmed drink”

Then said Sigmund, “Give it unto me then;” and therewith he took the horn and drank it off.

But the queen said to Sinfjotli, “Why must other men needs drink thine ale for thee?” And she came again the second time with the horn, and said, “Come now and drink!” and goaded him with many words.

And he took the horn, and said —

“Guile is in the drink.”

And thereon, Sigmund cried out —

“Give it then unto me!”

Again, the third time, she came to him, and bade him drink off his drink, if he had the heart of a Volsung; then he laid hand on the horn, but said —

“Venom is therein.”

“Nay, let the lip strain it out then, O son,” quoth Sigmund; and by then was he exceeding drunk with drink, and therefore spake he in that wise.

So Sinfjotli drank, and straightway fell down dead to the ground.

Sigmund rose up, and sorrowed nigh to death over him; then he took the corpse in his arms and fared away to the wood, and went till he came to a certain firth; and then he saw a man in a little boat; and that man asked if he would be wafted by him over the firth, and he said yes thereto; but so little was the boat, that they might not all go in it at once, so the corpse was first laid therein, while Sigmund went by the firth-side. But therewith the boat and the man therein vanished away from before Sigmund’s eyes. 27

So thereafter Sigmund turned back home, and drave away the queen, and a little after she died. But Sigmund the king yet ruled his realm, and is deemed ever the greatest champion and king of the old law.

26 Weregild, fine for man-slaying (“wer”, man, and “gild”, a payment).

27 The man in the boat is Odin, doubtless.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 22:07