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Those who, like the King, were near the
entrance alone escaped.

As soon as he had recovered from the terror into which this adventure
had thrown him, he commanded that it should be kept very secret from
the other two parties, and desired Storbiorn his Chamberlain, to take
the key of iron and the key of gold and deliver them to the leaders of
the divisions he had left behind, with orders to try their fortune in
different parts of the mountain.

"Give the keys to me, my lord King," answered Storbiorn, "and I shall
know what to do with them. These magicians may do their worst, my
heart will not beat one whit the faster; and I shall see all that
happens."

So he went and gave his message to the two divisions, and one stayed
behind while Storbiorn went to the mountain with the other.

When they arrived, the man who held the key laid it against the rock,
which burst asunder, and half the men entered at Storbiorn's command.

Suddenly an icy blue stream poured upon them from the depths of the
cavern, and drowned most of them before they had time to fly. Only
those behind escaped, and Storbiorn bade them go instantly to the King
and tell him what had happened.

Then he went to the third troop and marched with them to the rock,
where he gave the golden key to one of the men, and ordered him to try
it.

The rock flew open at once, and Storbiorn told the men to enter, taking
care, however, to keep behind himself. They obeyed and found
themselves in a lovely golden cave, whose walls were lit up by
thousands of precious stones of every hue.

There was neither sight nor sound to frighten them, and even Storbiorn,
when he saw the gold, forgot his prudence and his fears, and followed
them in.

In a moment a red fire burst out with a terrific noise, and clouds of
smoke poured over them, so that they fell down choked into the flames.
Only one man escaped, and he ran back as fast as he could to the King
to tell him of the fate of his army.


PART X.

All this time Wayland was working quietly in his island prison, waiting
for the day of his revenge. The suit of golden armour which the King
had commanded kept him busy day and night, and, besides the wonderful
shield with figures of the gods, he had wrought a coat of mail, a
helmet, and armour for the thighs, such as never had been seen before.

The King had invited all his great nobles to meet him at the Palace,
when he returned from the mountain, so that they might see his
wonderful armour and all the precious things he should bring with him
from the caverns.

When Nidud reached his Palace the Queen and Banvilda, their daughter,
came forth to meet him, and told him that the great hall was already
full of guests, expecting to see the wonders he had brought.

The King said little about his adventures, but went into the armoury to
put on his armour in order to appear before his nobles. Piece by piece
he fastened it, but he found the helmet so heavy that he could hardly
bear it on his head. However, he did not look properly dressed without
it, so he had to wear it, though it felt as if a whole mountain was
pressing on his forehead. Then, buckling on the sword which Wayland
had forged, he entered the hall, and seated himself on the throne.

The Earls were struck dumb by his splendour, and thought at first that
it was a god, till they looked under the helmet and saw the ugly little
man with the pale cowardly face. So they turned their eyes gladly on
the Queen and Princess, both tall and beautiful and glittering with
jewels, though inwardly they were not much better than the King.

A magnificent dinner made the nobles feel more at ease, and they begged
the King to tell them what man was so skilled in smith's work. Now
Nidud had drunk deeply, and longed to revenge himself on Wayland, whom
he held to have caused the loss of his army; so he gave the key of the
tower to one of his Earls, and bade him take two men and bring forth
Wayland, adding that if the next time he visited the tower he should
find a grain of gold missing, they should pay for it with their lives.

The three men got a boat, and rowed towards the tower, but on the way
one who, like the King, had drunk too much fell into the sea and was
drowned. The other two reached the tower in safety, and finding
Wayland, blackened with dust, busy at his forge, bade him come just as
he was to the boat.

With his hands bound they led him before the King, and said, "We have
done your desire, Sir King, and must now hasten back to look for
Grullorm, who fell into the sea".

"Leave him where he is," replied Nidud; "and in token of your obedience
to my orders I will give you each these golden chains."

The guests had not thought to see the man who had made such wonderful
armour helpless and a cripple, and said so to the King. "He was once
handsome and stately enough," answered Nidud, "but I have bowed his
stubborn head." And the Queen and her daughter laughed and said, "The
maidens of Finmark will hardly fancy a lover who cannot stand upright".

[Illustration: Wayland mocked by the Queen and Banvilda]

But Wayland stood as if he heard nothing, till the King's son snatched
a bone from the table and threw it at his head. Then his patience gave
way, and, seizing the bone, he beat Nidud about the head with it till
the helmet itself fell off.

The guests all took his side, and said that, though a cripple, he was
braver than many men whose legs were straight, and begged the King to
allow him to go back to his prison without being teased further.

But the King cried that Wayland had done mischief enough, and must now
be punished, and told them the story of his visit to the mountain and
the loss of his followers. "It would be a small punishment to put him
to death," he said, "for to so wretched a cripple death would be
welcome. He may use the gold that is left, but henceforth he shall
only have one eye to work with," and the Princess came forward and
carried out the cruel sentence herself. Wayland bore it all, saying
nothing, but praying the gods to grant him vengeance.


PART XI.

One night Wayland sat filled with grief and despair, looking out over
the sea, when he caught sight of two red lights, bobbing in his
direction. He watched them curiously till they vanished beneath the
tower.

Soon the key of the door turned, and two men, whom he knew to be the
King's sons, talked softly together. He kept very still, and heard one
say: "Let us first get as much from the chest as we can carry, then we
will put him to death, lest he should betray us to our father."

Then Wayland took a large sword which lay by his side and hid it behind
him, and he had scarcely done so when the princes entered the prison.
"Greeting to you," said they. "Nidud our father has gone into the
country, and as he is so greedy of wealth that he will give us none, we
have come here to get it for ourselves. Hand us the key and swear not
to tell our father, or you shall die."

"My good lords," answered Wayland, "your request is reasonable, and I
am not so foolish as to refuse it. Here is the key, and I will swear
not to betray you."

The brothers took the key, and opened the chest, which was still half
full of gold. It dazzled their eyes, and they both stooped down so as
to see it better. This was what Wayland had waited for, and, seizing
his sword, he cut off their heads, which fell into the chest. He then
dug a grave for the bodies in the floor of his dungeon. Afterwards he
dried the skulls, and made them into two drinking cups wrought with
gold. The eyes he set with precious stones, while the teeth he filed
till they were shaped like pearls, and strung like a necklace.

As soon as the King came back from his journey he paid a visit to
Wayland, who produced the drinking cups which he said were made of some
curious shells washed up in a gale.

After some days had passed, some sailors found the princes' boat, which
had drifted into the open sea. Their bodies, of course, were not to be
found, and the King ordered a splendid funeral feast to be prepared.

On this occasion the new drinking cups were filled with mead, and,
besides her necklace, Banvilda wore the ring which her father had taken
long ago from Wayland's house.

As was the custom, the feast lasted long, and the guests drank deeply
and grew merry. But at midnight their gaiety suddenly came to an end.
The King was drinking from the cup of mead, when he felt a violent pain
in his head and let the vessel fall. The hues of the armlets that the
Queen wore became so strange and dreadful that her eyes suffered agony
from looking at em, and she tore them from her arms; while Banvilda was
seized with such severe toothache that she could sit at table no
longer. The guests at once took leave, but it was not till the sun
rose that the pains of their hosts went away.


PART XII.

In the torture of toothache which she had endured during the night,
Banvilda had dashed her arm against the wall, and had broken some of
the ornaments off the ring.

She feared to tell her father, who would be sure to punish her, and was
in despair how to get the ring mended, when she caught sight of the
island on which Wayland's tower stood. "If I had not mocked at him he
might have helped me now," thought she.

No other way seemed to offer itself, and in the evening she loosened a
boat and began to row to the tower. On the way she met an old merman
with a long beard, floating on the waves who warned her not to go on;
but she paid no heed, and only rowed the faster.

[Illustration: The merman warns Banvilda in vain]

She entered the tower by a false key, and, holding the ring out to
Wayland, begged him to mend it as fast as possible, so that she might
return before she was missed. Wayland answered her with courtesy, and
promised to do his best, but said that she would have to blow the
bellows to keep the forge fire alight. "How comes it that these
bellows are sprinkled with blood?" asked Banvilda.

"It is the blood of two young sea dogs," answered Wayland; "they
troubled me for long, but I caught them when they least expected it.
But blow the bellows harder, I pray you, or I shall never be finished."

Banvilda did as she was told, but soon grew tired and thirsty, and
begged Wayland to give her something to drink.



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