OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE THREE BROTHERS AFTER THE VISIT OF SOUTHWEST





Southwest Wind, Esquire, was as good as his word. After the

momentous visit above related, he entered the Treasure Valley no

more; and what was worse, he had so much influence with his relations,

the West Winds in general, and used it so effectually, that

they all adopted a similar line of conduct. So no rain fell in the

valley from one year's end to another. Though everything remained

green and flourishing in the plains below, the inheritance of the

Three Brothers was a desert. What had once been the richest soil

in the kingdom became a shifting heap of red sand; and the brothers,

unable longer to contend with the adverse skies, abandoned their

valueless patrimony in despair, to seek some means of gaining a

livelihood among the cities and people of the plains. All their

money was gone, and they had nothing left but some curious, old-

fashioned pieces of gold plate, the last remnants of their ill-gotten

wealth.



"Suppose we turn goldsmiths?" said Schwartz to Hans, as they

entered the large city. "It is a good knave's trade; we can put a

great deal of copper into the gold without any one's finding it out."



The thought was agreed to be a very good one; they hired a

furnace, and turned goldsmiths. But two slight circumstances

affected their trade: the first, that people did not approve of the

coppered gold; the second, that the two elder brothers whenever they

had sold anything used to leave little Gluck to mind the furnace,

and go and drink out the money in the alehouse next door. So

they melted all their gold, without making money enough to buy

more, and were at last reduced to one large drinking mug, which an

uncle of his had given to little Gluck, and which he was very fond

of, and would not have parted with for the world; though he never

drank anything out of it but milk and water. The mug was a very

odd mug to look at. The handle was formed of two wreaths of

flowing golden hair, so finely spun that it looked more like silk

than metal, and these wreaths descended into and mixed with a

beard and whiskers of the same exquisite workmanship, which surrounded

and decorated a very fierce little face, of the reddest gold

imaginable, right in the front of the mug, with a pair of eyes in it

which seemed to command its whole circumference. It was impossible

to drink from the mug without being subjected to an intense

gaze out of the side of these eyes; and Schwartz positively averred

that once after emptying it full of Rhenish seventeen times he had

seen them wink! When it came to the mug's turn to be made into

spoons, it half broke poor little Gluck's heart; but the brothers only

laughed at him, tossed the mug into the melting pot, and staggered

out to the alehouse, leaving him, as usual, to pour the gold into bars,

when it was all ready.



When they were gone, Gluck took a farewell look at his old friend

in the melting pot. The flowing hair was all gone; nothing remained

but the red nose and the sparkling eyes, which looked more

malicious than ever. "And no wonder," thought Gluck, "after

being treated in that way." He sauntered disconsolately to the

window, and sat himself down to catch the fresh evening air, and

escape the hot breath of the furnace. Now this window commanded

a direct view of the range of mountains, which, as I told you before,

overhung the Treasure Valley, and more especially of the peak from

which fell the Golden River. It was just at the close of the day;

and when Gluck sat down at the window, he saw the rocks of the

mountain tops all crimson and purple with the sunset; and there

were bright tongues of fiery cloud burning and quivering about

them; and the river, brighter than all, fell in a waving column of

pure gold from precipice to precipice, with the double arch of a

broad purple rainbow stretched across it, flushing and fading

alternately in the wreaths of spray.



"Ah!" said Gluck aloud, after he had looked at it for a while,

"if that river were really all gold, what a nice thing it would be."



"No, it wouldn't, Gluck," said a clear metallic voice, close at

his ear.



"Bless me! what's that?" exclaimed Gluck, jumping up. There

was nobody there. He looked round the room, and under the table,

and a great many times behind him, but there was certainly nobody

there, and he sat down again at the window. This time he didn't

speak, but he couldn't help thinking again that it would be very

convenient if the river were really all gold.



"Not at all, my boy," said the same voice, louder than before.



"Bless me!" said Gluck again, "what _is_ that?" He looked

again into all the corners and cupboards, and then began turning

round and round as fast as he could in the middle of the room,

thinking there was somebody behind him, when the same voice struck

again on his ear. It was singing now very merrily, "Lala-lira-la";

no words, only a soft, running, effervescent melody, something like

that of a kettle on the boil. Gluck looked out of the window. No,

it was certainly in the house. Upstairs, and downstairs. No, it was

certainly in that very room, coming in quicker time and clearer notes

every moment. "Lala-lira-la." All at once it struck Gluck that it

sounded louder near the furnace. He ran to the opening, and looked

in: yes, he saw right, it seemed to be coming not only out of the

furnace, but out of the pot. He uncovered it, and ran back in a

great fright, for the pot was certainly singing! He stood in the

farthest corner of the room with his hands up and his mouth open,

for a minute or two when the singing stopped, and the voice became

clear and pronunciative.



"Hollo!" said the voice.



Gluck made no answer.



"Hollo! Gluck, my boy," said the pot again.



Gluck summoned all his energies, walked straight up to the crucible,

drew it out of the furnace and looked in. The gold was all

melted, and its surface as smooth and polished as a river; but instead

of reflecting little Gluck's head as he looked in, he saw meeting his

glance from beneath the gold the red nose and sharp eyes of his

old friend of the mug, a thousand times redder and sharper than

ever he had seen them in his life.



"Come, Gluck, my boy," said the voice out of the pot again, "I'm

all right; pour me out."



But Gluck was too much astonished to do anything of the kind.



"Pour me out, I say," said the voice, rather gruffly.



Still Gluck couldn't move.



"_Will_ you pour me out?" said the voice, passionately, "I'm too

hot."



By a violent effort Gluck recovered the use of his limbs, took hold

of the crucible, and sloped it so as to pour out the gold. But

instead of a liquid stream there came out, first, a pair of pretty

little yellow legs, then some coat tails, then a pair of arms stuck

akimbo, and, finally, the well-known head of his friend the mug; all

which articles, uniting as they rolled out, stood up energetically on

the floor, in the shape of a little golden dwarf about a foot and a

half high.



"That's right!" said the dwarf, stretching out first his legs, and

then his arms, and then shaking his head up and down, and as far

round as it would go, for five minutes without stopping, apparently

with the view of ascertaining if he were quite correctly put together,

while Gluck stood contemplating him in speechless amazement.

He was dressed in a slashed doublet of spun gold, so fine in its texture

that the prismatic colors gleamed over it, as if on a surface

of mother of pearl; and over this brilliant doublet his hair and beard

fell full halfway to the ground in waving curls, so exquisitely delicate,

that Gluck could hardly tell where they ended; they seemed to

melt into air. The features of the face, however, were by no means

finished with the same delicacy; they were rather coarse, slightly

inclined to coppery in complexion, and indicative, in expression,

of a very pertinacious and intractable disposition in their small

proprietor. When the dwarf had finished his self-examination, he

turned his small sharp eyes full on Gluck, and stared at him deliberately

for a minute or two. "No, it wouldn't, Gluck, my boy," said the little

man.



This was certainly rather an abrupt and unconnected mode of

commencing conversation. It might indeed be supposed to refer to

the course of Gluck's thoughts, which had first produced the dwarf's

observations out of the pot; but whatever it referred to, Gluck had

no inclination to dispute what he said.



"Wouldn't it, sir?" said Gluck, very mildly and submissively

indeed.



"No," said the dwarf, conclusively. "No, it wouldn't." And

with that the dwarf pulled his cap hard over his brows, and took

two turns, of three feet long, up and down the room, lifting his legs

up very high and setting them down very hard. This pause gave

time for Gluck to collect his thoughts a little, and seeing no great

reason to view his diminutive visitor with dread, and feeling his

curiosity overcome his amazement, he ventured on a question of

peculiar delicacy.



"Pray, sir," said Gluck, rather hesitatingly, "were you my mug?"



On which the little man turned sharp round, walked straight

up to Gluck, and drew himself up to his full height. "I," said the

little man, "am the King of the Golden River." Whereupon he

turned about again, and took two more turns some six feet long in

order to allow time for the consternation which this announcement

produced in his auditor to evaporate. After which he again walked

up to Gluck and stood still, as if expecting some comment on his

communication.



Gluck determined to say something at all events. "I hope your

Majesty is very well," said Gluck.





"Listen!" said the little man, deigning no reply to this polite

inquiry. "I am the King of what you mortals call the Golden

River. The shape you saw me in was owing to the malice of a

stronger king, from whose enchantments you have this instant freed

me. What I have seen of you, and your conduct to your wicked

brothers, renders me willing to serve you; therefore, attend to what

I tell you. Whoever shall climb to the top of that mountain from

which you see the Golden River issue, and shall cast into the stream

at its source three drops of holy water, for him, and for him only,

the river shall turn to gold. But no one failing in his first can

succeed in a second attempt; and if any one shall cast unholy water

into the river it will overwhelm him, and he will become a black

stone." So saying, the King of the Golden River turned away and

deliberately walked into the center of the hottest flame of the

furnace. His figure became red, white, transparent, dazzling,--a

blaze of intense light,--rose, trembled, and disappeared. The King

of the Golden River had evaporated.



"Oh!" cried poor Gluck, running to look up the chimney after

him; "oh, dear, dear, dear me! My mug! my mug! my mug!"





O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN! OLD BLACK JACKO facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback