“Sit thou at home, O King,” spake Siegfried. “Since thy knights are willing to follow me, stay here by the women and be of good cheer; for, by my troth, I will guard for thee both goods and honor. I will see to it, that they that seek thee here at Worms by the Rhine bide where they are; we will pierce deep into their country, till their vaunting is turned to sorrow.”
They passed from the Rhine through Hesse against Saxony, where the battle was fought afterward. With plunder and with fire they laid waste the land, the which both the princes found to their cost.
When they were come to the marches, the warriors hasted forward, and Siegfried began to ask them, “Which of us shall guard the rest from surprise?” More to their hurt the Saxons never took the field.
They answered, “Let bold Dankwart guard the younger knights. He is a good warrior. So shall we come in less scathe by Ludger’s men. He and Ortwin shall guard the rear.”
“I myself will ride forward,” said Siegfried, “and spy out the foe, that I may know rightly who the warriors be.”
Hagen and bold Gernot
Fair Sieglind’s son did on his armor in haste. He gave his knights in charge to Hagen and bold Gernot when he set out. He rode into Saxony all alone, and won honor by his quest. He perceived a great host encamped on a field, that loomed mightily against him, beyond the strength of one man: forty thousand or more. And the high heart of Siegfried rejoiced.
One of the enemy’s knights kept watch warily, and perceived Siegfried, and Siegfried him, and they glared fiercely on each other. I will tell you who he was that kept watch. On his arm he bare a glittering shield of gold. It was King Ludgast that kept ward over his host.
The noble stranger pricked toward him fiercely. Ludgast dressed him also. They put spurs to their horses and smote with all their strength on the shields with their spears, that it was like to go hard with the king. On their horses, pricked forward by the spur, the princes bare down on each other like the wind.
Then they wheeled round deftly— these two fierce men—and fell to hacking with their swords. Sir Siegfried smote, that the field rang therewith; the hero with his mighty blade struck sparks from Ludgast’s helmet. Fiercely fought the prince of the Netherland, and Ludgast, likewise, dealt many a grim blow. Each drove with all his might at the other’s shield.
The combat was spied by thirty of Ludgast’s men, but Siegfried, by means of three deep wounds and grisly that he dealt Ludgast through his white harness, overcame the king or these knights came up. His sword drew blood with each stroke, that King Ludgast came in evil plight, and begged for his life, offering his land as the price thereof, and said that his name was Ludgast.
His knights hasted to his rescue, for they had seen the encounter at the wardpost. Siegfried would have led him thence, but thirty of Ludgast’s men rode at him. With mighty blows the stark warrior kept his rich captive; and soon his hands did even deadlier deeds. He smote the thirty men dead in his defense, save one that fled and told what had happed, the truth whereof was proven by his bloody helmet.