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The Saga of Hervor and King Heidrek the Wise

10. Heidrek Married the Garda King's Daughter

One summer the king of Gardariki sends word to Heidrek, asking him to accept his friendly invitation and come east to Gardariki for a banquet. Heidrek gets ready with a great multitude of followers, and the Garda King's son was with him, and Sifka. Heidrek now came east to Gardariki and had a magnificent feast.

One day during this feast, the kings went into the forest with a great company and hunted with hounds and hawks. And when they had loosed the hounds, they each went by themselves through the woods. Then Heidrek and his foster-son met.

And Heidrek spoke to the prince: “Listen to my instructions, foster-son. There is a farm not far from here. Go there and hide yourself and you'll get this ring. Be ready to come home when I send for you.”

The boy says he isn't keen about this idea, but he did as the king asked. Heidrek came home at evening and was unhappy and sat a short while drinking.

And when he came to bed, Sifka spoke: “Why is your majesty unhappy? What is the matter, lord? Are you sick, tell me?”

The king says, “It's hard for me to say this, because my life is at stake, if the secret isn't kept.” She says she would keep the secret, and snuggles up to him and fondly fished for the answer.

The king says, “I was stood with the prince beside some apple tree. Then my foster-son asked me for an apple that was high up on the tree. So I drew Tyrfing and slashed up at the apple, but that was done before I remembered what curse lay on it, that it must kill, if it is drawn, and only the two of us there... Then I killed the boy.”

The next day, during drinks, the Garda King's queen asks Sifka why Heidrek was so glum. She says, “There's cause enough for that. He has killed the son of the Garda King. Your son.” Then she tells the whole incident.

The queen says, “That is serious news, but we will not let it come out.” The queen went away immediately out of the hall with great grief.

The king notices that and calls Sifka to him and spoke: “What were you and the queen talking about, when she got so upset?”

“Lord,” says she, “There's every reason to be upset. Heidrek has killed your son, most likely on purpose, and he deserves death.”

The Garda King orders Heidrek to be taken and fettered, saying, “And now it has turned out just as I suspected.”

But King Heidrek had become so popular there, that no one would do it. Then two men stood up in the hall and announced that the matter would not end there, and they put shackles on him. These were the two men Heidrek had released from death.

Then Heidrek sent men secretly to fetch the king's son. And the Garda King has his people summoned with trumpets and says to them that he wants Heidrek on the gallows. But at that moment, the prince comes running to his father and begged him not to carry out the wretched deed he was about to do, to kill the noblest of men, his foster father.

Heidrek is now set free and he immediately gets ready to go home.

Then the queen spoke, “Lord, do not let Heidrek get away like this while the two of you have not made up. It does not befit your position. Rather, offer him gold or silver.”

The king does so. He has great riches brought to King Heidrek and says he wishes to give him this and have his friendship again.

Heidrek says, “I am not short of treasure.”

The Garda King tells the queen. She said, “Offer him land and large properties and a host of followers.”

The king does so. King Heidrek says, “I have plenty of properties and followers.”

The Garda King tells the queen. She says, “Then offer him what he will accept, and that's your daughter.”

The king says, “I never thought this would happen to me, but still I'll follow your advice.” Then the Garda King went to see King Heidrek and declared, “Rather than have us part with bad feelings, I want you to take my daughter together with as much dowry as you choose for yourself.”

Heidrek happily accepts that, and the Garda King's daughter went home with him. King Heidrek is home now and he wants to carry Sifka away and takes his best horse, and it was late in the evening. They come to a river. Here she becomes too heavy for the horse, so that it collapsed and died, and the king left him and walked on. Then he had to carry her over the river. Then they come to a point where the current is so rough that they have no choice but for Heidrek to throw her off his shoulder and her back breaks and he is separated from her so that she drifts downstream dead.

After this, Heidrek has a great feast prepared and goes to get the Garda King's daughter. Their daughter was called Hervor. She was a shield-maiden and was raised in England with Jarl Frodmar, or some say with a man called Ormar.7

King Heidrek now settles down and becomes a great chieftain and a wise sage. King Heidrek had a great boar reared. It was as big as the biggest of the full grown bulls and so fair that every hair on it seemed to be of gold. The king lays his hand on the head of the boar and his other hand on its bristles and swears this: that there is no one, however much wrong they may have done him, who won't get a fair trial from his twelve wise-men, and those twelve must look after the boar. Or else the accused must come up with riddles which the king could not guess. And King Heidrek now gets to be very popular.


7. See Note on Translation.

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