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He mixed something
sweet in a cup, which she swallowed hastily, and soon fell fast asleep
on a bench. Then Wayland bound her hands, and placed her in the boat,
after which he cut the rope that held it and let it drift out to sea.

This done, he shut the door of the tower, and, taking a piece of gold,
he engraved on it the history of all that had happened, and put it
where it must meet the King's eye when next he came. "Now is my hour
come," he cried with joy, snatching his spear from the wall, but before
he could throw himself on it he heard a distant song and the notes of a
lute.

By this time the sun was high in the heavens, yet its brightness did
not hinder Wayland from seeing a large star, which was floating towards
him, and a brilliant rainbow spanned the sky. The flowers on the
island unfolded themselves as the star drew near, and he could smell
the smell of the roses on the shore.

And now Wayland saw it was no star, but the golden chariot of Freya the
goddess, whose blue mantle floated behind her till it was lost in the
blue of the sky. On her left was a maiden dressed in garlands of fresh
green leaves, and on her right was one clad in a garment of red.

[Illustration: The Chariot of Freya]

At the sight Wayland's heart beat high, for he thought of the lump of
gold set with jewels, which he and his brothers had found in the
mountain so long ago. Fairies fluttered round them, mermaids rose from
the depths of the sea to welcome them, and as Freya and her maidens
entered the prison Wayland saw that she who wore the red garment was
indeed Alvilda. "Wayland," said the goddess, "your time of woe is
past. You have suffered much and have avenged your wrongs, and now
Odin has granted my prayer that Alvilda shall stay by you for the rest
of your life, and when you die she shall carry you in her arms to the
country of Walhalla, where you shall forge golden armour and fashion
drinking horns for the gods."

When Freya had spoken, she beckoned to the green maiden, who held in
her hand a root and a knife. She cut pieces off the root and laid them
on Wayland's feet, and on his eye, then, placing some leaves from her
garland over the whole, she breathed gently on it. "Eyr the physician
has healed me," cried Wayland, and the fairies took him in their arms
and bore him across the waves to a bower in the forest, where he
dreamed that Alvilda and Slagfid and Eigil were all bending over him.

When he woke Alvilda was indeed there, and he seemed to catch glimpses
of his brothers amid the leaves of the trees. "Arise, my husband,"
said Alvilda, "and go straight to the Court of Nidud. He still sleeps,
and knows nothing. Throw this mantle on your shoulders, and they will
take you for his servant."

So Wayland went, and reached the royal chamber, and in his sleep the
King trembled, though he knew not that Wayland was near. "Awake,"
cried Wayland, and the King awoke, and asked who had dared to disturb
him thus.

"Be not angry," answered Wayland; "had you slain Wayland long ago, this
misfortune that I have to tell you of would never have happened."

"Do not name his name," said the King, "since he sent me those drinking
cups a burning fever has laid hold upon me."

"They were not shells, as he told you," answered Wayland, "but the
skulls of your two sons, Sir King. Their bodies you will find in
Wayland's tower. As for your daughter, she is tossing, bound, on the
wild waves of the sea. But now I, Wayland, have come to give you your
deathblow----" But before he could draw his sword fear had slain the
King yet more quickly.

So Wayland went back to Alvilda, and they went into another country,
where he became a famous smith, and he lived to a good old age; and
when he died he was carried to Walhalla, as Freya had promised.




SOME ADVENTURES OF WILLIAM SHORT NOSE.


PART I.

William Short Nose was also styled William of Orange, quite a different
man from the one who came to be King of England, although they both
took their title from the same small town in the South of France. This
William of Orange spent his life battling with the Saracens in the
south of France, and a very hard task he had, for their numbers seemed
endless, and as fast as one army was beaten another was gathered
together.

Now by a great effort the Saracens had been driven back to the south in
the year 732, but before a hundred years had passed they had again
crossed the Pyrenees and were streaming over France, south of the
Loire, and, what was worse, the men of Gascony were rising too.

Some one had to meet the enemy and crush the rebels, and of all the
subjects of King Louis no one was so fit to lead the army of the Franks
as William Short Nose, husband of the Lady Gibourc.

It was at the Aliscans that he met them, and a great host they were,
spreading over the country till whichever way you looked you saw men
flocking round the Golden Dragon, which was the banner of the Saracens.

But it was not Count William's way to think about numbers, and he
ordered his trumpeters to sound the charge. Spurring his horse, he
dashed from one part of the fight to the other, striking and killing as
he went, and heeding as little the wounds that he got as those that he
gave, and _they_ were many.

The Franks whom he led followed after him, and slew the Saracens as
they came on; but the Christians were in comparison but a handful, and
their enemies as the sands of the sea.

The young warriors whom William had brought with him were prisoners or
dying men, and from far he saw Vivian, whom he loved the best, charging
a multitude with his naked sword. "Montjoie! Montjoie!" cried he, "O
Bertrand, my cousin, come to my aid!"

Bertrand heard and pressed to his side. "Ride to the river," he said,
"and I will protect you with my life"; but Vivian was too weak even to
sit on his horse, and fell half fainting at Bertrand's feet.

At this moment there rode at them a large troop of Saracens, headed by
their King, Haucebier, and the Christian Knights knew that all was
lost. "It is too late now for me to think of life," said Vivian, "but
I will die fighting," and again they faced their enemies till
Bertrand's horse was killed under him. Then Vivian seized the horse of
a dead Saracen, and thrust the bridle into Bertrand's hand, "Fly, for
God's sake, it is your only chance. Where is my uncle? If he is dead
we have lost the battle."

But Bertrand did not fly, though every instant made the danger more
deadly. "If I forsake you, if I take flight," he said, "I shall bring
eternal shame upon myself."

"No, no," cried Vivian, "seek my uncle down there in the Aliscans, and
bring him to my aid."

"Never till my sword breaks," answered Bertrand, and laid about him
harder than ever. And to their joy they heard a war cry sounding in
their ears, and five Frankish Counts, cousins of Vivian and of
Bertrand, galloped up. Fight they did with all their might, but none
fought like Vivian. "Heavens! what a warrior!" cried the Counts as
they saw his blows, while the Saracens asked themselves if the man whom
they had killed at mid-day had been brought back to life by the help of
fiends. "If we let them escape now we shall be covered with shame,"
said they, "but ere night falls William shall acknowledge that he is
conquered."

"Indeed!" said Bertrand, and with his cousins he fell upon them till
they fled.

The Counts were victors on this field, but, wounded and weary as they
were, another combat lay before them, for a force of twenty thousand
Saracens was advancing from the valley.

Their hearts never failed them, but they had no strength left; the
young Counts were all taken prisoners, except Vivian, who was left for
dead by the side of a fountain where he had been struck down. "O
Father in Heaven," he said, feeling his life going from him, "forgive
me my sins, and help my uncle, if it is Thy holy will."

William Short Nose was still fighting, though he knew that the victory
lay with the Saracens and their hosts. "We are beaten," he said to the
fourteen faithful comrades who stood by him. "Listen as you will, no
sound of our war cry can be heard. But by the Holy Rood, the Saracens
shall know no rest while I am alive. I will give my forefathers no
cause for shame, and the minstrels shall not tell in their songs how I
fell back before the enemy."

They then gave battle once more, and fought valiantly, till all lay
dead upon the ground, save only William himself.


PART II.

Now the Count knew that if the Saracens were ever to be vanquished and
beaten out of fair France he must take heed of his own life, for the
task was his and no other man's; so he turned his horse's head towards
Orange, and then stopped, for he saw a troop of freshly landed Saracens
approaching him along the same road.

"The whole world is full of these Saracens!" he cried in anger, "God
alone can save me. My good horse," added he, "you are very tired. If
you had had only five days' rest, I would have led you to the charge;
but I see plainly that I can get no help from you, and I cannot blame
you for it, as you have served me well all day, and for this I thank
you greatly. If ever we reach Orange you shall wear no saddle for
twenty days, your food shall be the finest corn, and you shall drink
out of a golden trough."

And the horse understood; he threw up his head, and pawed the ground,
and his strength came back to him as of old. At this sight William
Short Nose felt more glad than if he had been given fourteen cities.

No sooner had he entered a valley that led along the road to Orange,
than he saw a fresh body of Saracens blocking one end. He turned to
escape into another path, but in front of him rode a handful of his
enemies. "By the faith that I swore to my dear Lady Gibourc," he said,
"I had better die than never strike a blow," and so rode straight at
their leader. "William!" cried the Saracen, "this time you will not
escape me." But the sun was in his eyes, and his sword missed his aim.
Before he could strike another blow William had borne him from his
horse and galloped away.

The mountain that he was climbing now was beset with enemies, like all
the rest, and William looked in vain for a way of escape.



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