WATLAND THE SMITH 299
brothers, ' and you will have forgotten us. Stay now, we pray you, for we love you well.'
' We are not mortals to grow old,' said the Noras, ' and true love does not grow old either. Still, we do not wish you to fall sick with grieving, so 'we leave you these three keys, with which you may open the mountain, and busy yourselves by digging out the treasures it contains. By the time the nine years are over you will have become rich men, and men of renown.' So they laid down the keys and vanished.
For a long while the young men only left their houses to seek for food, so dreary had the Valley of Wolves become. At last Slagfid and Eigil could bear it no longer, and declared they would travel through the whole world till they found their wives; but Wayland, the youngest, determined to stay at home.
'You would do much better to remain where you are,' said he. ' You do not know in which direction to look for them, and it is useless to seek on earth for those who fly through the air. You will only lose yourselves, and starve, and when the nine years are ended who can tell where you may be ?'
But his words fell on deaf ears; for Slagfid and Eigil merely filled their wallets with food and their horns with drink, and prepared to take leave of their brother. Wayland embraced them weeping, for he feared that he would never more see them, and once again he implored them to give up their quest. Slagfid and Eigil only shook their heads. ' We have no rest, night or day, without them,' they said, and they begged him to look after their property till they came back again.
Wayland saw that more words would be wasted, so he walked with them to the edge of the forest, where their ways would part. Then Slagfid said, ' Our fathers, when they went a journey, left behind them a token by which it might be known whether they were dead or alive, and I will do so also.' So he stamped heavily