Text - "Gudrun" Ferdinand Schmidt

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For a whole year Queen Hilda heard no news from the fleet that had
sailed away to rescue Gudrun. Each day she ascended the battlements of
her castle Matalan to watch for some sign of the returning ships. One
bright May morning, when the green meadows were gay with flowers and the
sea was as blue as the sky above it, as she stood thus gazing out over
the smooth water, suddenly a snow-white sail appeared on the far
horizon,then another, and yet another, till a whole fleet came into
view. Hastily descending from the tower, she betook herself with her
women to the shore, which was soon thronged with eager men and women and
children, and joyous shouts arose as they recognized the devices on the
sails. Nearer and nearer came the ships. Brightly shone the sun on helm
and armor; banners fluttered in the breeze; drums, trumpets, flutes, and
cymbals made exultant music.

Wate's ship was first to reach the land, and the hero sprang ashore,
Irolt and Frute following. Reverently they approached and bowed before
the Queen, who greeted them and asked for her children.

"God hath aided thee," said Wate. "On yonder ship that now doth approach
the shore are Gudrun and Ortwin; also Herwig, thy daughter's brave

Then the Queen raised her hands to Heaven, tears of joy streaming down
her cheeks as her dear ones stepped once more upon their native shore,
followed by all the knights and maidens. Ortwin and Herwig placed Gudrun
in her mother's arms, who clasped her child to her as if she could never
let her go. So great was the joy of both at this reunion that even stern
warriors were forced to shed tears at the sight thereof. After Hilda had
exchanged greetings with her son and Herwig, Gudrun led forth a tall
noble damsel from the group of women. "Take her also to thy heart, my
mother," she cried, "for a good friend hath she been to me."

"Nay," said the Queen, "I embrace no damsel who is unknown to me."

But Gudrun whispered: "Thou must greet her, mother. 'Tis King Ludwig's
orphan child."

"How!" cried Hilda, sharply. "She the daughter of the Norman King? Oh,
what evil hath been dealt me by her house!" And turning angrily to
Ortrun, who stood silent before her, she pointed to the site of the
castle, which still lay in ruins.

"Behold the work of thy kin!" she said. "Yet there are still dungeons
beneath yon pile that shall well serve for thee!"

Gudrun burst into tears at this; but Ortwin said reprovingly: "Nay, dear
mother, thou shouldst not speak thus to Ortrun. She meriteth not such
anger in her grief."

And Gudrun added: "Truly, had it not been for her, I never again should
have held thee in my arms!"

Then Hilda's wrath melted, and giving her hand to Ortrun, she kissed
her, saying: "If this be true, thy kindness shall meet with rich reward
from us."

Then Gudrun led Hildburg to her mother. "Thou must thank this maiden
also," she said, "for she hath been a loyal friend to me and shared in
all my troubles."

"Truly, my child," replied the Queen, "she shall not lack the reward of
the faithful."

After all the other heroes had been welcomed, she led the way back to
the castle, where a sumptuous repast was prepared. Hartmut was left to
languish in his chains, however, and Gudrun bethought her how she might
bring all to a happy issue, for she greatly desired that a lasting peace
should be established between the two countries. Accordingly, the next
day, after all in the castle had risen from the board, she said to

"Hearken, dear brother, to the counsel I would give thee, for great
advantage shalt thou reap thereby. I would have thee take Ludwig's
daughter Ortrun as thy wife. Truly never wilt thou find a truer heart on

"Indeed, most good and noble she doth seem to me," replied Ortwin, "but
we have slain her father and her mother; methinks at my side she would
know but little joy!"

"Nay, let thy love teach her to forget her sorrows," cried Gudrun.

When Ortwin had agreed to her plan, she sent for Herwig and told him
what was purposed; whereat he was greatly pleased, and said: "Aye, let
us make it our care that there shall evermore be peace betwixt the
Normans and ourselves."

Then Gudrun went to the Queen and besought Hartmut's freedom. Hilda at
first refused to grant it, but Gudrun pleaded with her mother, till at
last she agreed that he should have his liberty so that he remained
unarmed. Soon Hartmut entered the hall, bearing himself with his wonted
pride and with undaunted courage, though he knew not whether life or
death was to be his portion. But every one who saw him admired the brave

"Let me speak with him apart," said Gudrun; and leading him into the
embrasure of a window she began: "If thou wilt follow the counsel I
would give thee, noble Hartmut, 'twill make an end of all thy troubles."

"Well do I know thy virtue, fairest princess," replied Hartmut, "and
that thou wouldst counsel naught but what is right or in accordance with
my honor."

"Then help us to establish peace between our houses for all time,"
continued Gudrun. "My brother Ortwin will wed Ortrun, and do thou take
the Lady Hildburg for thy Queen. No nobler maid is there in all the
land; and if thou dost make her thy wife, she will be ever true and
loyal to thee, even as she was to me in my hours of sorrow."

"So be it," replied Hartmut; "if thou seest fit that thy brother should
take my sister as his wife, then will I wed the noble Lady Hildburg."

Overjoyed, Gudrun hastened to make the good news known to Hildburg and
Ortrun, whose hearts she already knew were well disposed to the heroes.
In the presence of Queen Hilda and all the court the two happy pairs
plighted their troth, and there was great rejoicing among the knights.
Even old Wate laid aside his enmity and gave his hand to Hartmut and

Soon thereafter the nuptials were celebrated and peace was sealed
between the two countries by solemn oaths. The reconciliation thus
brought about by Gudrun proved of lasting benefit to the people. Her
name was always spoken by them with reverence. Her courage and constancy
and virtues were extolled by them, and in after days her fame was as
radiant as the stars in the heavens.