THE BOOK OF ROMANCE - online children's book

King Arthur, His Court and Knights in the Age of Chivalry, by Andrew Lang

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308                   WAYLAND THE SMITH
tell him the King grew so angry that, seizing an axe, he declared that he would put his prisoner to death unless he confessed all he knew. There was no help for it, and Wayland had to say how he came by them and what wonders they wrought. The King heard him with delight and went away, taking the keys with him.
No time was lost in preparing for a journey to the mountains, and when he reached the spot described by Wayland he divided his followers into three parties, sending two to await him some distance off, and keeping the third to enter the mountain with himself, if the copper key did the wonders it had done before. So he gave it to one of the bravest of his men, and told him to lay it against the side of the mountain. The man obeyed, and instantly the mountain split from top to bottom. The King bade them enter, never doubting that rich spoils awaited him; but instead the men sank into a green marsh, which swallowed up many of them, while the rest were stung to death by the green serpents hang­ing from the roof. Those who, like the King, were near the entrance alone escaped.
As soon as he had recovered from the terror into which this adventure had thrown him he commanded that it should be kept very secret from the other two parties, and desired Storbiorn, his Chamberlain, to take the key of iron and the key of gold and deliver them to the leaders of the divisions he had left behind, with orders to try their fortune in different parts of the moun­tain. ' Give the keys to me, my lord King,' answered Storbiorn, ' and I shall know what to do with them. These magicians may do their worst, my heart will not beat one whit the faster ; and I will see all that happens.' So he went and gave his message to the two divisions, and one stayed behind while Storbiorn went to the mountain with the other.
When they arrived the man who held the key laid it against the rock, which burst asunder, and half the men
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