Chapter 27 - The Wooing of Brynhild
Now they array them joyously for their journey, and ride over hill and dale to the house of King Budli, and woo his daughter of him; in a good wise he took
their speech, if so be that she herself would not deny them, but he said withal that so high-minded was she, that that man only might wed her whom she would.
Then they ride to Hlymdale, and there Heimir gave them good welcome; so Gunnar tells his errand; Heimir says, that she must needs wed but him whom she herself
chose freely; and tells them how her abode was but a little way thence, and that he deemed that him only would she have who should ride through the flaming fire
that was drawn round about her hall; so they depart and come to the hall and the fire, and see there a castle with a golden roof-ridge, and all round about a
fire roaring up.
Now Gunnar rode on Goti, but Hogni on Holkvi, and Gunnar smote his horse to face the fire, but he shrank aback.
Then said Sigurd, "Why givest thou back, Gunnar?"
He answered, "The horse will not tread this fire; but lend me thy horse Grani."
"Yea, with all my good will," says Sigurd.
Then Gunnar rides him at the fire, and yet nowise will Gram stir, nor may Gunnar any the more ride through that fire. So now they change semblance, Gunnar and
Sigurd, even as Grimhild had taught them; then Sigurd in the likeness of Gunnar mounts and rides, Gram in his hand, and golden spurs on his heels; then leapt
Grani into the fire when he felt the spurs; and a mighty roar arose as the fire burned ever madder, and the earth trembled, and the flames went up even unto the
heavens, nor had any dared to ride as he rode, even as it were through the deep mirk.
But now the fire sank withal, and he leapt from his horse and went into the hall, even as the song says--
"The flame flared at its maddest,
Earth's fields fell a-quaking
As the red flame aloft
Licked the lowest of heaven.
Few had been fain,
Of the rulers of folk,
To ride through that flame,
Or athwart it to tread.
"Then Sigurd smote
Grani with sword,
And the flame was slaked
Before the king;
Low lay the flames
Before the fain of fame;
Bright gleamed the array
That Regin erst owned.
Now when Sigurd had passed through the fire, he came into a certain fair dwelling, and therein sat Brynhild.
She asked, "What man is it?"
Then he named himself Gunnar, son of Giuki, and said--"Thou art awarded to me as my wife, by the good will and word of thy father and thy foster-father, and I
have ridden through the flame of thy fire, according to thy that thou hast set forth."
"I wot not clearly," said she, "how I shall answer thee."
Now Sigurd stood upright on the hall floor, and leaning on the hilt of his sword, and he spake to Brynhild--
"In reward thereof, shall I pay thee a great dower in gold and goodly things?"
She answered in heavy mood from her seat, whereas she sat like unto swan on billow, having a sword in her hand and a helm on her head, and being clad in a
byrny, "O Gunnar," she says, "speak not to me of such things unless thou be the first and best of all men; for then shall thou slay those my wooers, if thou
hast heart thereto; I have been in battles with the king of the Greeks, and weapons were stained with red blood, and for such things still I yearn."
He answered, "Yea, certes many great deeds hast thou done; but yet call thou to mind thine oath, concerning the riding through of this fire, wherein thou didst
swear that thou wouldst go with the man who should do this deed."
So she found that he spoke but the sooth, and she paid heed to his words, and arose, and greeted him meetly, and he abode there three nights, and they lay in
one bed together; but he took the sword Gram and laid it betwixt them: then she asked him why he laid it there; and he answered, that in that wise must he needs
wed his wife or else get his bane.
Then she took from off her the ring Andvari's loom, which he had given her aforetime, and gave it to him, but he gave her another ring out of Fafnir's hoard.
Thereafter he rode away through the same fire unto his Fellows, and he and Gunnar changed semblances again, and rode unto Hlymdale, and told how it had gone
That same day went Brynhild home to her foster-father, and tells him as one whom she trusted, how that there had come a king to her; "And he rode through my
flaming fire, and said he was come to woo me, and named himself Gunnar; but I said that such a deed might Sigurd alone have done, with whom I plighted troth
on the mountain; and he is my first troth-plight, and my well-beloved."
Heimir said that things must needs abide even as now they had now come to pass.
Brynhild said, "Aslaug the daughter of me and Sigurd shall be nourished here with thee."
Now the kings fare home, but Brynhild goes to her father;
Grimhild welcomes the kings meetly, and thanks Sigurd for his fellowship; and withal is a great feast made, and many were the guests thereat; and thither
came Budli the King with his daughter Brynhild, and his son Atli, and for many days did the feast endure: and at that feast was Gunnar wedded to Brynhild:
but when it was brought to an end, once more has Sigurd memory of all the oaths that he sware unto Brynhild, yet withal he let all things abide in rest and
Brynhild and Gunnar sat together in great game and glee, and drank goodly wine.
Þeir búa nú ferð sína listuliga, ríða nú fjöll ok dali til Buðla konungs; bera upp bónorðit. Hann tók því vel, ef hún vill eigi níta, ok segir hana svá stóra, at
þann einn mann mun hún eiga, er hún vill.
Þá ríða þeir í Hlymdali. Heimir fagnar þeim vel. Segir Gunnarr nú erendin. Heimir kvað hennar kör vera, hvern hún skal eiga; segir þar sal hennar skammt frá ok
kvaðst þat hyggja, at þann einn mundi hún eiga vilja, er riði eld brennanda, er sleginn er um sal hennar. Þeir finna salinn ok eldinn ok sjá þar borg gulli bysta,
ok brann eldr um utan.
Gunnarr reið Gota, en Högni Hölkvi. Gunnarr keyrir hestinn at eldinum, en hann hopar. Sigurðr mælti:
"Hví hopar þú, Gunnarr?"
Hann svarar: "Eigi vill hestrinn hlaupa þenna eld," ok biðr Sigurð ljá sér Grana.
"Heimilt er þat," segir Sigurðr.
Gunnarr ríðr nú at eldinum, ok vill Grani eigi ganga. Gunnarr má nú eigi ríða þenna eld; skipta nú litum, sem Grímhildr kenndi þeim Sigurði ok Gunnari. Síðan ríðr
Sigurðr ok hefir Gram í hendi ok bindr gullspora á fætr sér. Grani hleypr fram at eldinum, er hann kenndi sporans. Nú verðr gnýr mikill, er eldrinn tók at æsast,
en jörð tók at skjálfa. Loginn stóð við himin. Þetta þorði engi at gera fyrr, ok var sem hann riði í myrkva.
Þá lægðist eldrinn, en hann gekk af hestinum inn í salinn. Svá er kveðit:
"Eldr nam at æsast,
en jörð at skjálfa
ok hár logi
við himni gnæfa.
Fár treystist þar
eld at ríða
né yfir stíga.
logi allr lægðist
er Reginn átti."
Ok er Sigurðr kom inn um logann, fann hann þar eitt fagrt herbergi, ok þar sat í Brynhildr.
Hún spyrr, hverr sá maðr er. En hann nefndist Gunnarr Gjúkason. -- "Ertu ok ætluð mín kona með jáyrði föður þíns, ef ek riða þinn vafrloga, ok fóstra þíns með yðru
"Eigi veit ek gerla, hversu ek skal þessu svara," segir hún.
Sigurðr stóð réttr á gólfinu ok studdist á sverðshjöltin ok mælti til Brynhildar:
"Þér í mót skal ek gjalda mikinn mund í gulli ok góðum gripum."
Hún svarar af áhyggju af sínu sæti sem álpt af báru ok hefir sverð í hendi ok hjálm á höfði ok var í brynju: "Gunnarr," segir hún, "ræð ekki slíkt við mik, nema þú
sér hverjum manni fremri, ok þá skaltu drepa, er mín hafa beðit, ef þú hefir traust til. Ek var í orrostu með Garðakonungi, ok váru vápn vár lituð í mannablóði, ok
þess girnumst vér enn."
Hann svarar: "Mörg stórvirki hafi þér unnit, en minnizt nú á heit yður, ef þessi eldr væri riðinn, at þér mundið með þeim manni ganga, er þetta gerði."
Hún finnr nú hér sönn svör ok merki þessa máls, stendr upp ok fagnar honum vel. Þar dvelst hann þrjár nætr, ok búa eina rekkju. Hann tekr sverðit Gram ok leggr í
meðal þeira bert. Hún spyrr, hví þat sætti. Hann kvað sér þat skipat, at svá gerði hann brúðlaup til konu sinnar eða fengi ella bana.
Hann tók þá af henni hringinn Andvaranaut, er hann gaf henni, en fekk henni nú annan hring af Fáfnis arfi.
Eptir þetta ríðr hann brott í þann sama eld til sinna félaga, ok skipta þeir aptr litum ok ríða síðan í Hlymdali ok segja, hvé farit hafði.
Þann sama dag fór Brynhildr heim til fóstra síns ok segir honum af trúnaði, at til hennar kom einn konungr -- "ok reið minn vafrloga ok kvaðst kominn til ráða við
mik ok nefndist Gunnarr. En ek sagða, at þat mundi Sigurðr einn gera, er ek vann eiða á fjallinu, ok er hann minn frumverr."
Heimir kvað nú svá búit vera mundu.
Brynhildr mælti: "Dóttur okkar Sigurðar, Áslaugu, skal hér upp fæða með þér."
Fara konungar nú heim, en Brynhildr fór til föður síns.
Grímhildr fagnar þeim vel ok þakkar Sigurði sína fylgd. Er þar búizt við veizlu. Kom þar mikill mannfjöldi. Þar kom Buðli konungr með dóttur sína ok Atli, sonr hans,
ok hefir þessi veizla staðit marga daga. Ok er lokit er þessi veizlu, minnir Sigurð alla eiða við Brynhildi ok lætr þó vera kyrrt.
Brynhildr ok Gunnarr sátu við skemmtan ok drukku gott vín.