The Crimson Fairy Book HTML version

The Horse Gullfaxi And The Sword Gunnfoder
Many many years ago there lived a king and queen who had one only son, called Sigurd.
When the little boy was only ten years old the queen, his mother, fell ill and died, and the
king, who loved her dearly, built a splendid monument to his wife's memory, and day
after day he sat by it and bewailed his sad loss.
One morning, as he sat by the grave, he noticed a richly dressed lady close to him. He
asked her name and she answered that it was Ingiborg, and seemed surprised to see the
king there all alone. Then he told her how he had lost his queen, and how he came daily
to weep at her grave. In return, the lady informed him that she had lately lost her
husband, and suggested that they might both find it a comfort if they made friends.
This pleased the king so much that he invited her to his palace, where they saw each other
often; and after a time he married her.
After the wedding was over he soon regained his good spirits, and used to ride out
hunting as in old days; but Sigurd, who was very fond of his stepmother, always stayed at
home with her.
One evening Ingiborg said to Sigurd: 'To-morrow your father is going out hunting, and
you must go with him.' But Sigurd said he would much rather stay at home, and the next
day when the king rode off Sigurd refused to accompany him. The stepmother was very
angry, but he would not listen, and at last she assured him that he would be sorry for his
disobedience, and that in future he had better do as he was told.
After the hunting party had started she hid Sigurd under her bed, and bade him be sure to
lie there till she called him.
Sigurd lay very still for a long while, and was just thinking it was no good staying there
any more, when he felt the floor shake under him as if there were an earthquake, and
peeping out he saw a great giantess wading along ankle deep through the ground and
ploughing it up as she walked.
'Good morning, Sister Ingiborg,' cried she as she entered the room, 'is Prince Sigurd at
'No,' said Ingiborg; 'he rode off to the forest with his father this morning.' And she laid
the table for her sister and set food before her. After they had both done eating the
giantess said: 'Thank you, sister, for your good dinner--the best lamb, the best can of beer
and the best drink I have ever had; but--is not Prince Sigurd at home?'
Ingiborg again said 'No'; and the giantess took leave of her and went away. When she was
quite out of sight Ingiborg told Sigurd to come out of his hiding-place.