Opera Stories from Wagner
By Florence Akin
Public Domain Books
A MATCHLESS SWORD
Many years passed. The giants lived on in their beautiful Valhalla.
But their king was sad.
He could not forget Alberich’s curse. What if Alberich should in some way gain possession of the ring again! He would destroy Valhalla.
“Oh, why was I not brave enough to give the ring back to the Rhine-children!” sighed Wotan.
“If only it might again be a mere thing of beauty to gladden their hearts, but so long as it is in the world, how many more will it not rob of their happiness.
“Surely, some great hero must come who will be brave enough to slay the dragon and give the ring back to its rightful owners.”
Said Wotan to himself, “I shall make a mighty sword, and when the hero comes, his sword will be ready for him.”
Then the great Wotan wrought a matchless sword.
When it was finished, he took it and went into the forest. Straight he went to the home of the bold robber Hunding.
It was a beautiful moonlight night when he reached Hunding’s hut.
From the loud laughter and shouting that Wotan heard as he neared the hut, he knew that Hunding and his friends were having a merry feast.
Wotan lifted the latch and entered.
The great, rude room was built around the trunk of a mighty ash tree.
The walls were made of roughly hewn logs.
The floors were covered with the skins of wild animals of the forest.
Mats of reeds and grasses hung upon the walls.
The huge fireplace was built of rough stones.
The mighty Wotan scowled upon the crowd.
Then, lifting the gleaming sword above his head, with one great lunging blow, he buried the bright blade, even to its hilt, in the great ash tree’s quivering side.
Then, turning to the guests, he said:–
“The sword shall belong to him who can draw it from the ash tree’s heart.”
[Illustration: HE TUGGED IN VAIN]
Though each guest tugged with all his might, he tugged in vain.
In the years that followed, many came and went, and all tried hard to gain the sword, and still that magic blade slept on within the ash tree’s sheath.