304 WAYLAND THE SMITH
he thought of Alvilda his wife, and how the rings would gleam on her arms when once she came back again.
Now at this time Nidud the Little reigned over Sweden, and was hated by his people, for he was vain and cowardly and had many other bad qualities. It came to his ears that away in the forests lived a man who was very rich, and worked all day long in pure gold. The King was one of those people who could not bear to see anyone with things which he did not himself possess, and he began to make plans how to get hold of Wayland's wealth. At length he called together his chief counsellors, and said to them: ' I hear a man has come to my kingdom who is called Wayland, famous in many lands for his skill in sword-making. I have set men to inquire after him, and I have found that when first he came here he was poor and of no account, so he must have grown rich either by magic or else by violence. I command, therefore, that my stoutest men-at-arms should buckle on their iron breastplates and ride in the dead of night to Wayland's house, and seize his goods and his person.'
'King Nidud,' answered one of the courtiers, 'that you should take himself and his goods is well, but why send a troop of soldiers against one man ? If he is no sorcerer, then a single one of your soldiers could take him captive ; but if, on the other hand, he is a magician, then a whole army could do nothing with him against his will.' At this reply the King flew in a rage, and, snatching up a sword, ran it through his counsellor's body; then, turning to the rest, told them that they would suffer the same fate if they refused to submit to his will.
So the men-at-arms put on all their armour, and, mounting their horses, set forth at sunset to Wayland's house, King Nidud riding at their head. The door stood wide open, and they entered quietly, in deadly fear lest Wayland should attack them. But no one was inside, and they looked about, their eyes dazzled by the gold on the walls. The King gazed with wonder and delight at