Chapter 3 - Of the Sword that Sigmund, Volsung's son, drew from the Branstock.
There was a king called Siggeir, who ruled over Gothland, a mighty king and of many folk; he went to meet Volsung, the king, and prayed him for Signy his
daughter to wife; and the king took his talk well, and his sons withal, but she was loth thereto, yet she bade her father rule in this as in all other things
that concerned her, so the king took such rede1 that he gave her to him, and she was betrothed to King Siggeir; and for the fulfilling of the feast and the
wedding, was King Siggeir to come to the house of King Volsung. The king got ready the feast according to his best might, and when all things were ready, came
the king's guests and King Siggeir withal at the day appointed, and many a man of great account had Siggeir with him.
The tale tells that great fires were made endlong the hall, and the great tree aforesaid stood midmost thereof, withal folk say that, whenas men sat by the
fires in the evening, a certain man came into the hall unknown of aspect to all men; and suchlike array he had, that over him was a spotted cloak, and he was
bare-foot, and had linen-breeches knit tight even unto the bone, and he had a sword in his hand as he went up to the Branstock, and a slouched hat upon his
head: huge he was, and seeming-ancient, and one-eyed.2 So he drew his sword and smote it into the tree-trunk so that it sank in up to the hilts; and all
held back from greeting the man. Then he took up the word, and said--
"Whoso draweth this sword from this stock, shall have the same as a gift from me, and shall find in good sooth that never bare he better sword in hand than is
Therewith out went the old man from the hall, and none knew who he was or whither he went.
Now men stand up, and none would fain be the last to lay hand to the sword, for they deemed that he would have the best of it who might first touch it; so all
the noblest went thereto first, and then the others, one after other; but none who came thereto might avail to pull it out, for in nowise would it come away
howsoever they tugged at it; but now up comes Sigmund, King Volsung's son, and sets hand to the sword, and pulls it from the stock, even as if it lay loose
before him; so good that weapon seemed to all, that none thought he had seen such a sword before, and Siggeir would fain buy it of him at thrice its weight of
gold, but Sigmund said--
"Thou mightest have taken the sword no less than I from there whereas it stood, if it had been thy lot to bear it; but now, since it has first of all fallen
into my hand, never shalt thou have it, though thou biddest therefor all the gold thou hast."
King Siggeir grew wroth at these words, and deemed Sigmund had answered him scornfully, but whereas was a wary man and a double-dealing, he made as if he
heeded this matter in nowise, yet that same evening he thought how he might reward it, as was well seen afterwards.
[1. Rede (A.S. raed), counsel, advice, a tale or prophecy.
2. The man is Odin, who is always so represented, because he gave his eye as a pledge for a draught from the fountain of Mimir, the source of all wisdom.]
Siggeirr hefir konungr heitit. Hann réð fyrir Gautlandi. Hann var ríkr konungr ok fjölmennr. Hann fór á fund Völsungs konungs, ok bað hann Signýjar
til handa sér. Þessu tali tekr konungr vel ok svá synir hans, en hún sjálf var þessa ófús, biðr þó föður sinn ráða sem öðru því, sem til hennar tæki. En konunginum
sýndist þat ráð at gifta hana, ok var hún föstnuð Siggeiri konungi. En þá er sjá veizla ok ráðahagr skal takast, skal Siggeirr konungr sækja veizluna til Völsungs
konungs. Konungr bjóst við veizlunni eptir inum beztum föngum. Ok þá er þessi veizla var albúin, kómu þar boðsmenn Völsungs konungs ok svá Siggeirs konungs at
nefndum degi, ok hefir Siggeirr konungr marga virðuliga menn með sér. Svá er sagt, at þar váru miklir eldar gervir eptir endilangri höllinni, en nú stendr sjá inn
mikli apaldr í miðri höllinni, sem fyrr var nefndr.
Nú er þess við getið, at þá er menn sátu við eldana um kveldit, at maðr einn gekk inn í höllina. Sá maðr er mönnum ókunnr at sýn. Sjá maðr hefir
þess háttar búning, at hann hefir heklu flekkótta yfir sér. Sá maðr var berfættr ok hafði knýtt línbrókum at beini. Sá maðr hafði sverð í hendi ok gengr at
barnstokkinum ok hött síðan á höfði. Hann var hár mjök ok eldiligr ok einsýnn. Hann bregðr sverðinu ok stingr því í stokkinn, svá at sverðit sökkr at hjöltum upp.
Öllum mönnum fellust kveðjur við þenna mann. Þá tekr hann til orða ok mælti:
"Sá, er þessu sverði bregðr ór stokkinum, þá skal sá þat þiggja at mér at gjöf, ok skal hann þat sjálfr sanna, at aldri bar hann betra sverð sér í hendi en
Eptir þetta gengr sjá inn gamli maðr út ór höllinni, ok veit engi, hverr hann er eða hvert hann gengr.
Nú standa þeir upp ok metast ekki við at taka sverðit. Þykkist sá bezt hafa, er fyrst náir. Síðan gengu til inir göfgustu menn fyrst, en þá hverr
at öðrum. Engi kemr sá til, er nái, því at engan veg bifast, er þeir taka til. Nú kom til Sigmundr, sonr Völsungs konungs, ok tók ok brá sverðinu ór stokkinum, ok
var sem laust lægi fyrir honum. Þetta vápn sýndist öllum svá gott, at engi þóttist sét hafa jafngott sverð, ok býðr Siggeirr honum at vega þrjú jafnvægi gulls.
"Þú máttir taka þetta sverð eigi síðr en ek, þar sem þat stóð, ef þér sæmdi at bera, en nú fær þú þat aldri, er þat kom áðr í mína hönd, þótt þú
bjóðir við allt þat gull, er þú átt."
Siggeirr konungr reiddist við þessi orð ok þótti sér háðuliga svarat vera. En fyrir því, at honum var svá varit, at hann var undirhyggjumaðr mikill, þá lætr hann
nú sem hann hirði ekki um þetta mál, en þat sama kveld hugði hann laun fyrir þetta, þau er síðar kómu fram.