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Myths and Legends of All Nations Famous Stories from the Greek, German, English, Spanish, Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources

Page: 117

But Wayland had no intention of making the arrows, for the king had treated him unjustly and cruelly, and he saw the opportunity for revenge. With his mighty hammer he struck the two children on the head and killed them. Then he threw their bodies into a cave adjoining the smithy.

When the children did not return the castle messengers were sent out to find them. They inquired at the smithy.

[Pg 232] "The boys have gone," said Wayland. "I made arrows for them, and no doubt they have gone into the woods to shoot birds."

Returning to the castle the messengers saw the footprints in the snow, and since they pointed toward home, decided that the children must have gone back. But they were not there. Then Nidung sent his servants far and wide throughout the country, and when the boys were nowhere to be found, he concluded that they must have been devoured by wild animals.

When all the searches were over, Wayland brought forth the bodies of the two children, stripped the bones of flesh, whitened them, and made them into goblets and vessels for the king's table, mounting them with silver and gold. The king was delighted with them, and had them placed upon his board whenever there were guests of honor present.

A long time later, Badhild, the king's daughter, while playing with her companions in the garden one day, broke a costly ring that Nidung had given her. She was greatly vexed and feared to tell her father.

"Why not take it to Wayland to mend?" suggested one of her trusted maidens.

So Badhild gave the trinket to the girl and bade her take it to Wayland. She brought it back with her.

"Without the command of the king he will not mend it," she said, "unless the king's daughter herself will come to him."

Badhild set out immediately for the smithy. There Wayland substituted for her ring his own, which had the curious magic power of making its wearer fall in love with the smith.

The smith slipped the jewel on her finger, gazed into her eyes and said, "This ring you shall keep as well as your own, if you will be my bride."

[Pg 233] The maiden could not refuse, and so the two were married, agreeing to keep their union a secret.

About this time Eigil, the brother of Wayland, came to the court of Nidung. He was a celebrated man and the most skilful master of the bow to be found anywhere in the world. The king welcomed him, and he remained a long time at the court. One day Nidung proposed that, since he was such a skilful bowman, he should try shooting an apple from the head of his own son. Eigil agreed.

"You may have only one trial," the king said.

So an apple was placed on the head of Eigil's three-year-old son, and Eigil, taking his bow, aimed, and with the first arrow struck the apple in the center, so that it fell from the child's head.


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