Sigurd Part IV
Signy went to Seggeir, privately, and said, “I think you shouldn’t kill my brothers right away, but you should put them in stocks. For my sake, please don’t kill them quite yet.”
Seggeir mocked her, “You are crazy! It is far worse for your proud brothers to be put in stocked that to be merely killed. I am happy to do what you ask; they should suffer more.”
Seggeir had a big tree trunk in the forest made into stocks that would fit all ten of the brothers at once. He clapped all of them in the stocks and left them there in the woods.
At night, they were still there, helpless. A huge hungry wolf found them, and ate one of them.
In the morning, Signy’s man told her what had happened. She was horrified and filled with grief, but there was nothing she could do. Every night, the wolf came back to eat another brother. At last, only Sigmund, her twin was left.
This time, Signy sent her man to Sigmund, with some honey. She told him to smear the honey all over Sigmund’s face and to put some in his mouth. This done, he went away and left Sigmund to his fate.
Naturally, the wolf came back again for her supper. But this time she smelled the honey. She licked it all off Sigmund’s face, and was beginning to lick the honey out of the inside of his mouth. Sigmund was ready for this, and when her tongue licked into his mouth, he bit down hard and wouldn’t let go.
The wolf jerked back in pain, and kicked at the tree to get away. The tree broke, freeing Sigmund. But he still wouldn’t let go! He clung onto the struggling wolf until her tongue ripped out, and she died.
Some people say that the wolf was Seggeir’s mother, who was a witch and could turn herself into other creatures. Could be. But Sigmund took care of her!
So now he is free! He ran into the woods and stayed there. Signy sent men to find out where he was, and when she found out, she went to him.
Together, they made him a cozy home in the ground in the woods. Sigmund stayed there for quite a while.
But King Seggeir thought he had killed the whole Volsung family. But Signy turned inside herself, plotting revenge.
She had two sons by Seggeir. When the oldest was ten, she sent him to see Sigmund, to see if he could help Sigmund take his revenge on Seggeir.
Sigmund received the boy, and talked with him for a while. Then he gave him a sack of flour and asked him to make bread while he went out to gather firewood.
This was just a test for the boy.
When Sigmund came back, he asked where the bread was. The boy said, “There was something in the bag, and I didn’t want to open in.”
Sigmund lost all respect for the boy, because he had no courage. He knew that the boy would be no help avenging their family.
When he saw Signy next, he told her that. Signy said, “Kill him them. I have no more use for him.” And Sigmund did.
When he next boy was old enough, the same thing happened to him.
Signy despaired of finding the proper man to help Sigmund take revenge upon Seggeir. She was sitting in her chamber, trying to decide what to do about it, when a sorceress of great skill came in to see her.
Signy saw her opportunity: “Change shapes with me!” The sorceress agreed. After all, Signy was the queen.
So they switched shapes, and the sorceress stayed in the palace. The king never knew it wasn’t Signy.
But Signy, in the shape of the sorceress, was off to the woods to see Sigmund. I’m only telling you what happened.
Signy went up to Sigmund’s door, “Please,” she said, “I am a poor woman, cold in the woods. Please let me in and give me shelter.”
Sigmund let her in and treated her well. He never had any idea that it was his sister. He fed her dinner and looked closely at her. She seemed like a fine woman to him. You can imagine what happened next. He asked her to sleep with him, and she did.
For three nights, they were together. Then Signy left to go back to the castle. She met with the sorceress and changed shapes again. No one ever knew.
But now she had a baby. He was the child of Sigmund. She named him Sinfjotli when he was born. As he grew up, he was strong and looked all Volsung. Well, he was.
Even before he was ten, Signy sent him to Sigmund. He went through the same bake-bread-while-I-gather-firewood scenario. When Sigmund came back, the bread was all ready for him.
Sigmund asked him if he had found anything in the flour. Sinfjotli replied, “I suspect there was something, but whatever it was, I just mixed it in with the bread.”
Sigmund was delighted with this response. He said, “You might not want to eat this bread for dinner tonight. You kneaded in the most poisonous snake into the bread.”
Sigmund ate the bread, though. He was tough enough to stand any poison. Sinfjotli could only stand external poison; he couldn’t eat it.