THE STORY OF SIGURD
When Sigurd heard all this, and how Begin was plotting to betray him, he cut off Eegin's head with one blow of the sword Gram.
Then all the birds broke out singing :
' We know a fair maid, A fair maiden sleeping ; Sigurd, be not afraid, Sigurd, win thou the maid Fortune is keeping.
' High over Hindfell lle^d fire is flaming, There doth the maiden dwell She that should love thee well, Meet for thy taming.
' There must she sleep till thou Comest for her waking Rise up and ride, for now Sure she will swear the vow Fearless of breaking.'
Then Sigurd remembered how the story went that somewhere, far away, there was a beautiful lady enchanted. She was under a spell, so that she must always sleep in a castle surrounded by flaming fire; there she must sleep for ever till there came a knight who would ride through the fire and waken her. There he determined to go, but first he rode right down the horrible trail of Fafnir. And Fafnir had lived in a cave with iron doors, a cave dug deep down in the earth, and full of gold bracelets, and crowns, and rings; and there, too, Sigurd found the Helm of Dread, a golden helmet, and whoever wears it is invisible. All these he piled on the back of the good horse Grani, and then he rode south to Hindfell.
Now it was night, and on the crest of the hill Sigurd saw a red fire blazing up into the sky, and within the flame a castle, and a banner on the topmost tower. Then he set the horse Grani at the fire, and he leaped through it lightly, as if it had been through the heather. So Sigurd went within the castle door, and there he saw someone sleeping, clad all in armour. Then he took the helmet off the head of the sleeper, and behold, she was a most beautiful lady. And she wakened and said, ' Ah ! is it Sigurd, Sigmund's son, who has broken the curse, and comes here to waken me at last ? '