WAYLAND THE SMITH 305
the long string of golden rings, and, slipping the finest off a strip of bark, placed it on his finger. At that moment steps were heard in the outer court, and the King hastily desired his followers to hide themselves and not to stir till he signed to them to do so. In another moment Way land stood in the doorway, carrying on his shoulders a bear which he had killed with his spear and was bringing home for supper. He was both tired and hungry, for he had been hunting all day; but he had first to skin the animal, and make a bright fire, before he could cut off some steaks and cook them at the end of the spear. Then he poured some mead into a cup and drank, as he always did, to the memory of his brothers. After that he spread out his bear's skin to dry in the wind, and this done he stretched himself out on his bed and went to sleep.
King Nidud waited till he thought all was safe, then crept forth with his men, who held heavy chains in their hands wherewith to chain the sleeping Wayland. But the task was harder than they expected, and he started up in wrath, asking why he should be treated so. ' If you want my gold, take it and release me. It is useless fighting against such odds.'
' I am no robber,' said the King, ' but Nidud your sovereign.'
'You do me much honour,' replied Wayland, 'but what have I done to be loaded with chains like this ?'
' Wayland, I know you well,' said Niducl. ' Poor enough you were when you came from Finland, and now your jewels are finer and your drinking cups heavier than mine.'
' If I am indeed a thief,' answered Wayland, ' then you do well to load me with chains and lead me bound into your dungeons ; but if not, I ask again, Why do you misuse me ? '
' Riches do not come of themselves,' said Nidud, ' and if you are not a thief, then you must be a magician and must be watched.' 20