Many many years ago there lived a king and queen who had one only son, called Sigurd. When the little boy was only ten years old the queen, his mother, fell ill and died, and the king, who loved her dearly, built a splendid monument to his wife’s memory, and day after day he sat by it and bewailed his sad loss.
One morning, as he sat by the grave, he noticed a richly dressed lady close to him. He asked her name and she answered that it was Ingiborg, and seemed surprised to see the king there all alone. Then he told her how he had lost his queen, and how he came daily to weep at her grave. In return, the lady informed him that she had lately lost her husband, and suggested that they might both find it a comfort if they made friends.
This pleased the king so much that he invited her to his palace, where they saw each other often; and after a time he married her.
After the wedding was over he soon regained his good spirits, and used to ride out hunting as in old days; but Sigurd, who was very fond of his stepmother, always stayed at home with her.
One evening Ingiborg said to Sigurd: ‘To-morrow your father is going out hunting, and you must go with him.’ But Sigurd said he would much rather stay at home, and the next day when the king rode off Sigurd refused to accompany him. The stepmother was very angry, but he would not listen, and at last she assured him that he would be sorry for his disobedience, and that in future he had better do as he was told.
After the hunting party had started she hid Sigurd under her bed, and bade him be sure to lie there till she called him.
Sigurd lay very still for a long while, and was just thinking it was no good staying there any more, when he felt the floor shake under him as if there were an earthquake, and peeping out he saw a great giantess wading along ankle deep through the ground and ploughing it up as she walked.
‘Good morning, Sister Ingiborg,’ cried she as she entered the room, ‘is Prince Sigurd at home?’
‘No,’ said Ingiborg; ‘he rode off to the forest with his father this morning.’ And she laid the table for her sister and set food before her. After they had both done eating the giantess said: ‘Thank you, sister, for your good dinner — the best lamb, the best can of beer and the best drink I have ever had; but — is not Prince Sigurd at home?’
Ingiborg again said ‘No’; and the giantess took leave of her and went away. When she was quite out of sight Ingiborg told Sigurd to come out of his hiding-place.
The king returned home at night, but his wife told him nothing of what had happened, and the next morning she again begged the prince to go out hunting with his father. Sigurd, however, replied as before, that he would much rather stay at home.
So once more the king rode off alone. This time Ingiborg hid Sigurd under the table, and scolded him well for not doing as she bade him. For some time he lay quite still, and then suddenly the floor began to shake, and a giantess came along wading half way to her knees through the ground.