|Chapter 4: Changes
Hildburg was upset and frightened as she realised what Gudrun had just done, all too well did she know the wrath of Gerlind. But Gudrun just smiled and told her not to worry about a thing.
As might be imagined, Gerlind's fury knew no end. She called for her maids to strip Gudrun and whip her to their heart's content. It must be said that some of these women actually enjoyed the idea. However, in an even voice, Gudrun warned them about laying a hand on their future Queen and Mistress of Kassiane.
The women pulled back and feel to their knees. Gerlind, while taken aback, feigned happiness at Gudrun's change of mind and sent message to Hartmut.
Hartmut was overjoyed at the turn of events and tried to gather Gudrun in his arms, but she pushed him back and, while pointing to the rags that served as her clothes, asked him if this was the garb of a future Queen of Normandy.
Hartmut, who, it must be said, had always been a bit ashamed at the ways of his mother, immediately arranged for Gudrun and her maidens to be cleaned up, dressed in appropriate clothing, and to have the choice of the finest the castle had to offer in jewelry. A great feast was held in Gudrun's honour.
As night fell and the Hegelingen women were finally alone, the maidens expressed their surprise, and not a little consternation, at Gudrun's behaviour. She clamed them and told them that rescue was just around the corner. By the dawn's early light ...
Chapter 5: Battle
As the first rays of the morning sun played over the waves, a maiden rushed to Gudrun's side to hail the dawning of their freedom. Gratefully, Gudrun promised her a castle in their homeland.
Soon, all of the Hegelingen women were at the windows, nervous and giddy with anticipation. Before long they could make out the sound of Wate's horn ... still distant, but coming ever nearer.
Suddenly, the quiet of the castle was broken by the sound of the Norman horns. The Norman's had finally seen the approached fleet and readied for battle.
Gerlind, enraged as never before, swore that no matter what the outcome, Gudrun would not survive the day. Hartmut, however, finally told his mother to lay off, it was, after all, mainly her doing that had brought the enemy to the gates of Kassiane. Gerlind dared to suggest that, since Kassiane was well protected, the men stay inside and repell the enemy with arrows and pitch.
Hartmut just shook his head and left the Queen alone with her rage.
A fierce battle soon raged. Let it be said to his honour that Hartmut, while desperately trying to stave off the sword blows of old Wate, nevertheless noticed a Norman warrior, sword drawn, make his way to the women's quarters. Almost at the cost of his own life did he promise death to the man if he laid a finger on Gudrun. And so again saved her life.
It was soon apparent that the Norman's were no match for the Hegelingen and Herwig's men. King Ludwig fell to the sword of Herwig.
On that day, victory was on the side of the Hegelingen.
It took all of Gudrun's entreaties and Herwig's persuasion that Wate not kill Hartmut on the spot. He was finally brought to their ships to be taken back as a prisoner.
Gerlind, however, was not so lucky. Wate pulled her out from behind her women where she was trying to hide and with one mighty stroke of his sword, separated her head from her body.
No harm befell Ortrun as Gudrun had taken her under her protection.
|Chapter 6: Homecoming
Great was the happiness at Matelane as the ships pulled into the harbour and Queen Hilde finally held her beloved daughter in her arms. She wasn't too enthusiastic when Ortrun was first presented to her, but Gudrun explained to her mother than Ortrun had been like a sister to her and had done for her what little she could against her mother, the wicked Gerlind. Then Ortwin confessed that he had fallen in love with the maiden on the voyage home, and Hilde softened toward the girl and greeted her as her dear daughter.
When Hartmut was brought before the Queen, all her pain and anger poured out against him, the man who had stolen her beloved daughter and had brought about the death of her husband. She called for the executioner to take care of Hartmut, right there, on the spot.
But Ortwin reminded his mother that Hartmut was a knight and should not die like a common criminal.
Queen Hilde fought with her conscience against her anger, when Hildburg threw herself at her feet and begged for Hartmut's life, explaining how, at the risk of his own life, he had saved Gudrun from the sword of Gerlind's assassin.
The Queen relented and Hartmut was taken to the dungeon.
Hartmut's imprisonment was considerably brightened by the ministrations of Hildburg, who had willing servants supply him with decent food and clothing. She often accompanied them and tried to cheer him up, telling him that she knew that someday, Queen Hilde would release him from the dungeon. Alas, there was not much consolation in that thought for Hartmut ... what would it mean to him to be out of prison, when freedom and his home were denied him.
But still one day, the prison gates opened, Hartmut was freed of his chains, and he found that he had the freedom of Matelane, against his word of honour to make no attempts to flee.
Basically, Hartmut was a pretty decent guy, and he soon made many friends; even Queen Hilde could find no cause to rue her decision.
Hildburg, who was deeply in love with the Norman, had promised to follow him as his wife, should Queen Hilde ever decide to let him return to his homeland. Which, of course, happened eventually ....
The tripple wedding was an occasion long remembered.
But what has never been forgotten is the story of Gudrun's love and loyalty.
|This page created September 2000 by Valkyrie.
Illustrations by Kurt Schmischke, all rights reserved.
Translation and page design by Val Grant