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George Henry Needler.

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Before his foot he rested the shield he bore in hand,
And soon began to question the men of Gunther there:
"Alack, ye gallant warriors, what harm hath wrought you Ruediger ?

2255
*'Me did my master Dietrich hither to you command:
If now the noble margrave hath fallen 'neath the hand
Of any knight among you, as word to us is borne.
Such a mighty sorrow might we never cease to mourn."

2256
Then spake of Tronje Hagen: "True is the taJe ye hear.
Though glad I were, if to you had lied the messenger.
And if the faithful Ruediger still his life might keep,
For whom both man and woman must ever now in sorrow weep!"

2257
When they for sooth the passing of the hero knew.
Those gallant knights bemoaned him like faithful friends and true;
On Dietrich's lusty warriors saw ye fall the tear
Adown the bearded visage, for sad of heart in truth they were.

2258
Of Bern then a chieftain, Siegstab, further cried:
*'Of all the mickle comfort now an end is made.
That Ruediger erst prepared us after our days of pain.
The joy of exiled people here lieth by you warriors slain."



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332 THIRTY-EIGHTH ADVENTURE

2259
Then spake of Amelungen the thane Wolfwein:
"If that this day beheld I dead e'en sire of mine,
No more might be my sorrow than for this hero's life.
Alack I who bringeth comfort now to the noble margrave's wife?"

2260
Spake eke in angry hmnor Wolfhart a stalwart thane:
"Who now shall lead our army on the far campaign,
As full oft the margrave of old hath led our host?
Alack! O noble Ruediger, that in such manner thee we've lost!"

2261
Wolfbrand and Helfrich and Helmnot with warriors all
Mourned there together that he in death must fall.
For sobbing might not further question Hildebrand.
He spake: " Now do, ye warriors, according to my lord's command.

2262
"Yield unto us Ruediger's corse from out the hall.
In whose death to sorrow hath passed our pleasiu^ all;
And let us do him service for friendship true of yore
That e'er for us he cherished and eke for many a stranger more.

2263
"We too from home are exiles like unto Ruediger.
Why keep ye us here waiting? Him grant us hence to bear,
That e'en thovigh death hath reft him our service he receive.
Though fairer had we paid it the while the hero yet did live."

2264
Thereto spake King Gunther: "No service equal may
That which, when death hath reft him, to friend a friend doth pay.
Him deem I friend right faithful, whoe'er the same may do.
Well make ye here requital for many a service imto you."

2265
"How long shall we beseech you," spake Wolfhart the thane;
"Since he that best consoled us by you now lieth slain.
And we, alas, no longer his living aid may have,
Grant us hence to bear him and lay the hero in his grave."



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HOW ALL SIR DIETRICH'S KNIGHTS WERE SLAIN 333

2266
Thereto answered Volker: "Thy prayer shall all deny.
From out the hall thou take him, where doth the hero lie
'Neath deep woimds and mortal in blood now smitten down.
So may by thee best service here to Ruediger be shown."

2267
Answered Wolfhart boldly: "Sir Fiddleman, God wot
Thou shalt forbear to stir us, for woe on us thou'st wrought.
Durst I despite my master, imcertain were thy life;
Yet must we here keep silence, for he did bid us shun the strife.**

2268
Then spake again the Fiddler: " *Tis all too much of fear,
For that a thing's forbidden, meekly to forbear.
Scarce may I deem it valor worthy good knight to tell."
What said his faithful comrade, did please the doughty Hagen
welL

2269
*'For proof be not o'er-eager," Wolfhart quick replied,
"Else so I'll tune thy fiddle that when again ye ride
Afar imto Rhine river, sad tale thou tellest there.
Thy haughty words no longer may I now with honor bear."

2270
Spake once more the Fiddler: "If e'er the harmony
Of my fiddle-strings thou breakest, thy helmet's sheen shall be
Made full dim of lustre by stroke of this my hand,
Howe'er fall out my jo\imey homeward to Burgundian land."

2271
Then would he rush upon him but that him did restrain
Hildebrand his uncle who seized him amain.
"I ween thou would'st be witless, by youthful rage misled.
My master's favor had'st thou evermore thus forfeited."

2272
"Let loose the lion, Master, that doth rage so sore.
If but my sword may reach him," spake Volker further more,
"Though he the world entire by his own might had slain,
I'll smite him that an answer never may he chant again."



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334 THIRTY-EIGHTH ADVENTURE

2273
Thereat with anger straightway the men of Bern were filled.
Wolfhart, thane right valiant, grasped in haste his shield.
And like to a wild lion out before them sped.
By friends a goodly number full quickly was he follow^

2274
Though by the hall went striding ne'er so swift the thane.
Overtook him Master Hildebrand ere he the steps might gain,
For nowise would he let him be foremost in the fray.
In the stranger warriors worthy foemen soon found they.

227s
Straight saw ye upon Hagen rush Master Hildebrand,
And sword ye heard give music in each foeman's hand.
Sore they were enraged, as ye soon were ware,
For from their swinging broadswords whirred the ruddy sparks in
air.

2276
Yet soon the twain were parted in the raging fi^t:
The men of Bern so turned it by their dauntless might.
Ere long then was Hildebrand from Hagen turned away,
While that the doughty Wolfhart the valiant Volker sought to slay.

2277
Upon the helm the Fiddler he smote with blow so fierce
That the sword's keen edges unto the frame did pierce.
With mighty stroke repaid him the valiant minstrel too.
And so belabored Wolfhart that thick the sparks around him flew.

2278
Hewing they made the fire from mail-rings sdntillate,
For each unto the other bore a deadly hate.
Of Bern the thane Wolfwein at length did part the two, —
Which thing might none other than man of mickle prowess do.

2279
Gunther, knight full gallant, recdved with ready hand
There the stately warriors of Amelungen land.
Eke did young Giselher of many a helmet bright,
With blood all red and reeking, cause to grow full dim the light.



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HOW ALL SIR DIETRICH'S KNIGHTS WERE SLAIN 335

2280
Dankwart, Hagen's brother, was a warrior grim.
What erstwhile in combat had been wrought by him
Against the men of Etzel seemed now as toying vain,
As fought with flaming ire the son of valiant Aldrian.

2281
Ritschart and Gerbart, Helfrich and Wichart
Had oft in storm of battle with valor borne their part.
As now 'fore men of Gunther they did clear display.
Likewise saw ye Wolfbrand glorious amid the fray.

2282
There old Master Hildebrand foUght as he were wode.
Many a doughty warrior was stricken in the blood
By ^e sword that swinging in Wolfhart's hand was seen.
Thus took dire vengeance for Ruediger those knights full keen.

2283
Havoc wrought Sir Siegstab there with might and main.
Hoi in the hurly-burly what helms he cleft in twain
Upon the crowns of foemen, Dietrich's sister's son I
Ne'er in storm of battle had he more feats of valor done.

2284
When the doughty Volker there aright had seen
How many a bloody rivxilet was hewn by Siegstab keen
From out the well-wrought mail-rings, the hero's ire arose.
Quick he sprang toward him, Siegstab then his life must lose

2285
Ere long time was over, 'neath the Fiddler's hand,
Who of his art did give him such share to understand
That beneath his broadsword smitten to death he lay.
Old Hildebrand avenged him as bade his mighty arm alway.

2286
"Alack that knight so loved," spake Master Hildebrand,
"Here should thus lie fallen 'neath Volker's hand.
Now lived his latest hour in sooth this Fiddler hath."
Filled was the hero Hildebrand straightway with a mighty wrath.



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336 TfflRTY-EIGHTH ADVENTURE

2287
With might smote he Volker that severed flew the band
E*en to tiie hall's wide limit far on either hand
From shield and eke from helmet borne by the Fiddler keen;
Therewith the doughty Volker reft of life at last had been.

2288
Pressed eager to the combat Dietrich's warriors true,
Smiting that the mail-rings afar from harness flew,
And that the broken sword-points soaring aloft ye saw.
The while that reeking blood-stains did they from riven helinets
draw.

2289
There of Tronje Hagen beheld Volker dead.
In that so bloody carnage 'twas far the sorest need
Of all that did befall him in death of friend and man.
Alack! for him what venegance Hagen then to wreak bq;anl

2290
**Therefrom shall profit never Master Hildebrand.
Slain hath been here my helper 'neath the warrior's hand,
The best of feres in battle that fortime ever sent."
His shield upraised he higher and hewing through the throng he
went.

2291
Next saw ye Dankwart by doughty Helfrich slain,
Gunther and Giselher did full sorely plain,
When they beheld him fallen where fiercely raged the fray.
For his death beforehand dearly did his foemen pay.

2292
The while coursed Wolfhart thither and back again,
Through Gimther's men before him hewing wide a lane.
Thrice in sooth returning strode he down the hall,
And many a lusty warrior 'neath his doughty hand must falL

2293
Soon the young Sir Giselher cried aloud to him:
"Alack, that I should ever find such foeman grim!
Sir knight, so bold and noble, now turn thee here to me.
I trow to end thy coursing, the which will I no longer see,*'



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HOW ALL SIR DIETRICH'S KNIGHTS WERE SLAIN 337

2294
To Giselher then turned him Wolfhart in the fight,
And gaping wounds full many did each the other smite.
With 3uch a mighty fury he to the monarch sped
That 'neath his feet went flying the blood e'en high above his head,

229s
With rapid blows and furious the son of Ute fair
Received the valiant Wolfhart as came he to him there.
How strong soe'er the thane was, his life must ended be.
Never king so youthful might bear himself more valiantly.

2296
Straight he smote Wolfhart through well-made cuirass,
That from the wound all gaping the flowing blood did pass.
Unto death he wounded Dietrich's liegeman true.
Which thing in sooth might never any save knight full gallant do.

2297
When the valiant Wolfhart of the wound was ware,
His shield flung he from him and high with hand in air
Raised he a mighty weapon whose keen edge fail^ not.
Through helmet and through mail-rings Giselher with might he
smote.

2298
Grimly each the other there to death had done.
Of Dietrich's men no longer lived there ever one.
When old Master Hildebrand Wolfhart's faU had seen,
In all his life there never such sorrow him befell, I ween.

2299
Fallen now were Gunther's warriors every one.
And eke the men of Dietrich. Hildebrand the while had gone
I Where Wolfhart had fallen down in pool of blood.
[In his arms then clasped he the warrior of daundess mood.

2300

Forth from the hall to bear him vainly did he try:
But all too great the burden and there he still must lie.
The dying knight looked upward from his bloody bed
And saw how that full gladly him his imcle thence had led.

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338 THIRTY-EIGHTH ADVENTURE

2301
Spake he thus mortal wounded: "Uncle full dear to me,
Now mayst thou at such season no longer helpful be.
To guard thee weU from Hagen indeed me seemeth good,
For bears he in his bosom a heart in sooth of grimmest mood.

2302
"And if for me my kinsmen at my death would mourn.
Unto the best and nearest by thee be message borne
That for me they weep not, — of that no whit is need.
At hand of valiant monarch here lie I gloriously dead.

2303
"Eke my life so dearly within this hall I've sold,
That have sore cause for weeping the wives of warriors bold.
If any make thee question, then mayst thou freely say
That my own hand nigh hundred warriors hath slain to-day.*'

2304
Now was Hagen mindful of the minstrel slain.
From whom the valiant Hildebrand erstwhile his life had ta'en.
Unto the Master spake he: "My woes shalt thou repay.
Full many a warrior gallant thou hast ta'en from us hence away."

2305
He smote upon Hildebrand that loud was heard the tone
Of Balmung resoimding that erst did Siegfried own,
But Hagen bold did seize it when he the hero slew.
The old warrior did guard him, as he was knight of mettle true.

2306
Dietrich's doughty liegeman with broadsword did smite
That did cut full sorely, upon Tronje's knight;
Yet had the man of Gunther never any harm.
Through his cuirass well-jointed Hagen smote with mighty arm.

2307
Soon as his wound perceived the aged Hildebrand,
Feared he more of damage to take from Hagen's hand;
Across his back full deftly his shield swung Dietrich's man,
And wounded deep, the hero in flight 'fore Hagen's fury ran.



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HOW ALL SIR DIETRICH'S KNIGHTS WERE SLAIN 339

2308
Now longer lived not any of aU that goodly train
Save Gunther and Hagen, doughty warriors twain.
With blood from wound down streaming fled Master Hildebrand,
Whom soon in Dietrich's presence, saw ye with saddest tidings
stand.

2309
He foimd the chieftain sitting with sorrow all distraught,
Yet mickle more of sadness imto him he brought.
When Dietrich saw how Hildebrand cuirass aU blood-red wore,
With fearful heart he questioned, what the news to him he bore.

2310
"Now tell me, Master Hildebrand, how thus wet thou be
From thy life-blood flowing, or who so harmeth thee.
In hall against the strangers thou'st drawn thy sword, I ween.
'Twere well my straight denial here by these had honored been."

2311
Replied he to his master: "From Hagen cometh all.
This deep wound he smote me there within the hall
When I from his fury thought to turn away.
'Tis marvel that I living saved me from the fiend this day.*'

2312
Then of Bern spake Dietrich: "Aright hast thou thy share,
For thou didst hear me friendship imto these knights declare,
And now the peace hast broken, that I to them did give.
If my disgrace it were not, by this hand no longer shouldst thou live.**

2313
"Now be not. Master Dietrich, so sorely stirred to wrath.
On me and on my kinsmen is wrought too great a scathe.
Thence sought we Ruediger to bear all peacefully.
The which by men of Gunther to us no whit would granted be."

2314
"Ah, woe is me for sorrow! Is Ruediger then dead.
In all my need there never such grief hath happen^.
The noble Gotelinde is cousin fair to me.
Alack for the poor orphans that there in Bechelaren must be!"



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340 THIRTY-EIGHTH ADVENTURE

2315
Grief and anguish filled him o'er Ruediger thus slain,
Nor might at all the hero the flowing tears restrain.
''Alack for faithful helper that death from me hath torn.
King Etzel's trusty lineman never may I cease to mourn.

2316
"Canst thou, Master Hildebrand, true the tidings say,
Who might be the warrior that Ruediger did slay?"
"That did the doughty Gemot with mighty arm," he said:
"Eke at hand of Ruediger lieth the royal hero dead."

2317
Spake he again to Hildebrand: "Now let my warriors know.
That straightway they shall arm them, for thither will I go.
And bid to fetch hither my shining mail to me.
Myself those knights will question of the land of Burgundy.'*

2318
"Who here shall do thee service?" spake Master Hildebrand;
"All that thou hast yet living, thou seest before thee stand.
Of all remain I only; the others, they are dead."
As was in sooth good reason, filled the tale his soul with dread,

2319
For in his life did never such woe to him befalL
He spake: "Hath death so reft me of my warriors all,
God hath forsaken Dietrich, ah me, a wretched wight!
Sometime a lofty monarch I was, high throned in wealtk and
might."

2320
"How might it ever happen?" Dietrich spake again,
"That so worthy heroes here should all be slain
By the battle-weary strangers thus beset?
Ill fortime me hath chosen, else death had surely spared them yet

2321
"Since that fate not further to me would respite give,
Then tell me, of the strangers doth any longer live?"
Answered Master Hildebrand: "God wot, never one
Save Hagen, and bedde him Gunther lofty king alone."



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HOW ALL SIR DIETRICHES KNIGHTS WERE SLAIN 341

2322
"Alack, O faithful Wolfhart, must I thy death now mourn,
Soon have I cause to rue me that ever I was bom.
Siegstab and Wolfwein and eke Wolfbrand!
Who now shall be my helpers in the Amelungen land?

2323
'* Helfrich, thane full valiant, and is he likewise slain?
For Gerbart and Wichart when shaU I cease to plain?
Of all my life's rejoicing is this the latest day.
Alack that die for sorrow never yet a mortal mayl"



THIRTY-NINTH ADVENTURE

t)cw Ountbet and 1)aden and ftriembf Id were Slain

2324
Himself did then Sir Dietrich his armor take in hand,
To don the which did help him Master Hildebrand.
The doughty chieftain meanwhile must make so loud complain
That from high palace casement oft came back the sound again.

Natheless his proper himior soon he did regain.

And arm^d full in anger stood the worthy thane;

A shield all wrought full £binly took he straight in hand.

And forth they strode together, he and Master Hildebrand.

2326
Spake then of Tronje Hagen: "Lo, where doth hither wend
In wrath his way Sir Dietrich. 'Tis plain he doth intend
On us to wreak sore vengeance for harm befallen here.
To-day be full decided who may the prize for valor bear I

2327
"Let ne'er of Bern Sir Dietrich hold him so high of might
Nor deem his arm so doughty and terrible in fight
That, will he wreak his anger on us for sorest scathe," —
Such were the words of Hagen, — "I dare not well withstand his
wrath."



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342 THIRTY-NINTH ADVENTURE

2328
Upon these words defiant left Dietrich Hildebrand,
And to the warriors hither came where both did stand
Without before the palace, and leaning respite found.
His shield well proved in battle Sir Dietrich lowered to the ground

2329
Addressed to them Sir Dietrich diese words of sorrowing:
"Wherefore hast thou such evil, Gimther mighty king,
Wrought 'gainst me a stranger? What had I done to thee,
Of my every comfort in such manner reft to be?

2330
"Seemed then not sufficient the havoc unto you
When from us the hero Ruediger ye slew,
That now from me yeVe taken my warriors one and all?
Through me did so great sorrow ne'er to you good knights befall.

2331
" Of your own selves bethink you and what the scathe ye bore.
The death of your com|:)anions and all your travail sore,
If not your hearts, good warriors, thereat do heavy grow.
That Ruediger hath fallen, — ^ah me! how fills my heart with woe!

2332
"In all this world to any more sorrow ne'er befell,
Yet have ye minded little my loss and yours as well.
Whate'er I most rejoiced in beneath your hands lies slain;
Yea, for my kinsmen fallen never may I cease to plain."

2333
"No guilt lies here upon us," Hagen in answer spake.
"Unto this hall hither your knights their way did take,
With goodly train of warriors full arm&l for the fight
Meseemeth that the story hath not been told to thee ari^t^

2334
"What shall I else believe in? To me told Hildebrand
How, when the knights that serve me of Amelungenland
Did beg the corse of Ruediger to give them from the hall,
Nought o&ered ye but mockings imto the valiant warriors alL"



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GUNTHER AND HAGEN AND KRIEMHILD SLAIN 343

233s
Then spake the King of Rhineland: "Ruediger to bear away
Came tiiey in company hither; whose corse to them deny
I bade, despiting Etzel, nor with aught malice more,
Whereupon did Wolfhart begin to rage thereat full sore."

2336
Then spake of Bern the hero: "'Twas fated so to be.
Yet Gunther, noble monarch, by thy kingly courtesy
Amends make for the sorrow thou here on me hast wrought,
That so thy knightly honor still imsullied be in aught.

2337
" Then yield to me as hostage thyself and eke thy man;
So will I surely hinder, as with best might I can.
That any here in Hunland harm unto thee shall do:
Henceforward shalt thou find me ever well disposed and true.**

2338
"God in heaven forfend it," Hagen spake again,
"That unto thee should yield them ever warriors twain
Who in their strength reliant all armed before thee stand.
And yet 'fore foes defiant may freely swing a blade in hand."

2339
"So shall ye not," spake Dietrich, "proffered peace forswear,
Gunther and Hagen. Misfortime such I bear
At both your hands, 'tis certain ye did but do aright,
Would ye for so great sorrow now my heart in full requite.

2340
"I give you my sure promise and pledge thereto my hand
That I will bear you escort home unto your land;
With honors fit I'll lead you, thereon my life I set,
And for yoiu: sake sore evil suffered at your hands forget"

2341
"Ask thou such thing no longer," Hagen then replied.
"For us 'twere little fitting the tale be bruited wide,
That twain of doughty warriors did yield them 'neath thy hand.
Beside thee is none other now but only Hildebrand."



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344 THIRTY-NINTH ADVENTURE

2342
Then answered Master Hildebrand: "The hour may come, God

wot,
Sir Hagen, when thus Kghtly disdain it thou shalt not
If any man such ofifer of peace shall make to thee.
Welcome might now my master's reconciliation be."

2343
"I'd take in sooth his friendship," Hagen gave reply,
"Ere that I so basely forth from a hall would fly.
As thou hast done but lately, O Master Hildebrand.
I weened with greater valor couldst thou 'fore a foeman stand."

2344
Thereto gave answer Hildebrand: "From thee reproach like that?
Who was then on shield so idle 'fore the Waskenstein that sat.
The while that Spanish Walter friend after friend laid low?
Such valor thou in plenty hast in thine own self to show."

234s
Outspake then Sir Dietrich: "111 fits it warriors bold
That they one another like old wives should scold.
Thee forbid I, Hildebrand, aught to parley more.
Ah me, most sad misfortime weigheth on my heart full sore.

2346
"Let me hear, Sir Hagen," Dietrich further spake,
"What boast ye doughty warriors did there together make.
When that ye saw me hither come with sword in hand?
Thought ye then not singly me in combat to withstand?"

2347
"In sooth denieth no one," bold Sir Hagen spake,
"That of the same with sword-blow I would trial make,
An but the sword of Niblung burst not within my hand.
Yea, scorn I that to yield us thus haughtily thou mak'st demand."

2348
When Dietrich now perceiv^ how Hagen raged amain,
Raise his shield full quickly did the doughty thane.
As quick upon him Hagen adown the perron sprang.
And the trusty sword of Niblung full loud on Dietrich's armor rang.



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GUNTHER AND HAGEN AND KRIEMHILD SLAIN 345

2349
Then knew full well Sir Dietrich that the warrior keen
Savage was of humor, and best himself to screen
Sought of Bern the hero from many a murderous blow,
Whereby the valiant Hagen straightway came he well to know.

2350
Eke fear he had of Bahnung, a strong and trusty blade.
Each blow meanwhile Sir Dietrich with cunning art repaid.
Till that he dealt to Hagen a wound both deep and long,
Whereat give o'er the struggle must the valiant knight and strong.

2351
Bethought him then Sir Dietrich: "Through toil thy strength has

fled,
And little honor had I shouldst thou lie before me dead.
So will I yet make trial if I may not subdue
Thee unto me as hostage." Light task 'twas not the same to do.

2352
His shield down cast he from him and with what strength he found
About the knight of Tronje fast his arms he woimd.
In such wise was subdued by him the doughty knight;
Gunther the noble monarch did weep to see his sorry plight

23S3
Bind Hagen then did Dietrich, and led him where did stand
Kriemhild the royal lady, and gave into her hand
Of all the bravest warrior that ever weapon bore.
After her mickle sorrow had she merry heart once more.

23S4
For joy before Sir Dietrich bent royal Etzel's wife:
" Blessed be thou ever in heart while lasteth life.
Through thee is now forgotten all my dire need;
An death do not prevent me, from me shall ever be thy meed."

235s
Then spake to her Sir Dietrich, "Take not his life away,
High and royal lady, for full will he repay
Thee for the mickle evil on thee have wrought his hands.
Be it not his misfortime that bound before ttiee here he stands."



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346 THIRTY-NINTH ADVENTUPIE



2356
Then bade she forth lead Hagen to dungeon keep near by.
Wherein he lay fast bolted and hid from every eye.
Gunther, the noble monarch, with loudest voice did say:
"The knight of Bern who wrongs me, whither hath he fled away?"

2357
Meanwhile back towards him the doughty Dietrich came,
And found the royal Gunther a knight of worthy name.


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Online LibraryGeorge Henry NeedlerThe Nibelungenlied → online text (page 26 of 27)