THE STORY OF SIGURD
Then he asked the Queen, who was dressed like a maid, ' How do you know in the dark of night whether the hours are wearing near the dawn ? '
' My father gave me a gold ring,' said she, ' and always, ere the dawning, it grows cold on my finger.'
' A rich house where the maids wore gold,' said the King. ' Truly you are no maid, but a lung's daughter.'
So he treated her royally, and as time Avent on she had a son called Sigurd, a beautiful boy and very strong. He had a tutor to be with him, and once the tutor bade him go to the King and ask for a horse.
'Choose a horse for yourself,' said the King; and Sigurd went to the wood, and there he met an old man with a white beard, and said, ' Come ! help me in horse-choosing.'
Then the old man said, ' Drive all the horses into the river, and choose the one that swims across.'
So Sigurd drove them, and only one swam across. Sigurd chose him : his name was Grani, and he came of Sleipnir's breed, and was the best horse in the world. For Sleipnir was the horse of Odin, the God of the North, and was as swift as the wind.
But a day or two later his tutor said to Sigurd, ' There is a great treasure of gold hidden not far from here, and it would become you to win it.'
But Sigurd answered, ' I have heard stories of that treasure, and I know that the dragon Fafhir guards it, and he is so huge and wicked that no man dares to go near him.'
* He is no bigger than other dragons,' said the tutor, ' and if you were as brave as your father you would not fear him.'
' I am no coward,' says Sigurd ; ' why do you want me to fight with this dragon? '
Then his tutor, whose name was Begin, told him that all this great hoard of red gold had once belonged to his own father. And his father had three sons—the first was Fafnir, the Dragon ; the next was Otter, who could put on the shape of an otter when he liked ; and the next was himself, Begin, and he was a great smith and maker of swords.
Now there was at that time a dwarf called Andvari, who lived in a pool beneath a waterfall, and there he had hidden a great hoard of gold. And one day Otter had been fishing there, and had killed a salmon and eaten it, and was sleeping, like an otter, on a stone. Then someone came by, and threw a stone at the otter and killed it,