WAYLAND THE SMITH 303
Before the entrance roses were lying, and inside the golden walls sparkled with rubies, while branches of red coral filled every crevice. Vines clambered about the pillars, and bore large bunches of red grapes.
Wayland stood long, looking at these marvels; then he plucked some of the grapes, broke off a lump of gold, and set out home again.
Next day he began to make himself a golden breastplate, and in it he placed the jewels, and it was so bright that you could have seen the glitter a mile off.
After he had tried all the three keys, and found out the secrets of the mountain, Wayland felt dull, and as if he had nothing to do or to think about. So his mind went back to his brothers, and he wondered how they had fared all this time. The first thing he did was to go to the edge of the forest, and see if he could find the two footprints they had left. He soon arrived at the spot where they had taken farewell of each other, but a blue pool of water covered the trace of Eigil's foot. He turned to look at the impression made by Slagfid, but fresh green grass had sprung up over it, and on a birch-tree near it a bird had perched, which sang a mournful song.
Then Wayland knew that his brothers were dead, and he returned to his hut, grieving sore.
It was a long time before Wayland could bring himself to go out, so great was his sorrow; but at last he roused himself from his misery, and went to the mountain for more gold, meaning to work hard till the nine years should be over and he should get his wife back again. All day long he stood in his forge, smelting and hammering, till he had made hundreds of suits of armour and thousands of swords, and his fame travelled far, so that all men spoke of his industry. At last he grew tired of making armour, and hammered a number of gold rings, which he strung on strips of bark, and as he hammered