WAYLAND THE SMITH 307
had beaten out a hNory of the gods and their great deeds. He was very miserable, for the hope of revenge which had kept him alive seemed as far off as ever in its fulfilment, and finding a sword he had lately forged lying close to his hand, he seized it, with the intent of putting an end to his wretched life. He had hardly stretched out his hand when a bird began to sing at the iron bars of his window, while the evening sun shone into his prison. ' I should like to see the world once more,' thought he, and, raising himself on the stone to which his chain was fastened, he was able to look at what lay beneath him. The sea washed the base of the rock on which the tower was built, and on a neck of land a little way off some children were playing before the door of a hut. Everything was bathed in red light from the glow of the setting sun.
Wayland stood quite still on the top of the stone, gazing at the scene with all his eyes, yet thinking of the land of his birth, which was so different. Then he looked again at the sea, which was already turning to steel, and in the distance he saw something moving on the waves. As it came nearer he discovered it was a young Nixie, or water sprite, and she held a lyre in her hand, and sang a song which blended with the murmur of the waves and the notes of the bird. And the song put new life and courage into his heart, for it told him that if he would endure and wait the pleasure of the gods, joy would be his one day.
The Nixie finished her song, and smiled up at Way-land at the window before turning and swimming over the waves till she dived beneath them. That same instant the bird flew away, and the moon was covered by a cloud. But Wayland's heart was cheered, and when he lay down to rest he slept quietly.
Some days later the King paid another visit, and suddenly espied the three keys which had been hidden in a corner with some of Wayland's tools. He at once asked Wayland what they were, and when he would not