The King Of The Golden Mountain

: Grimms' Fairy Tales

There was once a merchant who had only one child, a son, that was very

young, and barely able to run alone. He had two richly laden ships then

making a voyage upon the seas, in which he had embarked all his wealth,

in the hope of making great gains, when the news came that both were

lost. Thus from being a rich man he became all at once so very poor that

nothing was left to him but one small plot of land; and there he often
r /> went in an evening to take his walk, and ease his mind of a little of

his trouble.

One day, as he was roaming along in a brown study, thinking with no

great comfort on what he had been and what he now was, and was like

to be, all on a sudden there stood before him a little, rough-looking,

black dwarf. 'Prithee, friend, why so sorrowful?' said he to the

merchant; 'what is it you take so deeply to heart?' 'If you would do me

any good I would willingly tell you,' said the merchant. 'Who knows but

I may?' said the little man: 'tell me what ails you, and perhaps you

will find I may be of some use.' Then the merchant told him how all his

wealth was gone to the bottom of the sea, and how he had nothing left

but that little plot of land. 'Oh, trouble not yourself about that,'

said the dwarf; 'only undertake to bring me here, twelve years hence,

whatever meets you first on your going home, and I will give you as much

as you please.' The merchant thought this was no great thing to ask;

that it would most likely be his dog or his cat, or something of that

sort, but forgot his little boy Heinel; so he agreed to the bargain, and

signed and sealed the bond to do what was asked of him.

But as he drew near home, his little boy was so glad to see him that he

crept behind him, and laid fast hold of his legs, and looked up in

his face and laughed. Then the father started, trembling with fear and

horror, and saw what it was that he had bound himself to do; but as no

gold was come, he made himself easy by thinking that it was only a joke

that the dwarf was playing him, and that, at any rate, when the money

came, he should see the bearer, and would not take it in.

About a month afterwards he went upstairs into a lumber-room to look

for some old iron, that he might sell it and raise a little money; and

there, instead of his iron, he saw a large pile of gold lying on the

floor. At the sight of this he was overjoyed, and forgetting all about

his son, went into trade again, and became a richer merchant than


Meantime little Heinel grew up, and as the end of the twelve years drew

near the merchant began to call to mind his bond, and became very sad

and thoughtful; so that care and sorrow were written upon his face. The

boy one day asked what was the matter, but his father would not tell for

some time; at last, however, he said that he had, without knowing it,

sold him for gold to a little, ugly-looking, black dwarf, and that the

twelve years were coming round when he must keep his word. Then Heinel

said, 'Father, give yourself very little trouble about that; I shall be

too much for the little man.'

When the time came, the father and son went out together to the place

agreed upon: and the son drew a circle on the ground, and set himself

and his father in the middle of it. The little black dwarf soon came,

and walked round and round about the circle, but could not find any way

to get into it, and he either could not, or dared not, jump over it. At

last the boy said to him. 'Have you anything to say to us, my friend, or

what do you want?' Now Heinel had found a friend in a good fairy, that

was fond of him, and had told him what to do; for this fairy knew what

good luck was in store for him. 'Have you brought me what you said you

would?' said the dwarf to the merchant. The old man held his tongue, but

Heinel said again, 'What do you want here?' The dwarf said, 'I come to

talk with your father, not with you.' 'You have cheated and taken in my

father,' said the son; 'pray give him up his bond at once.' 'Fair and

softly,' said the little old man; 'right is right; I have paid my money,

and your father has had it, and spent it; so be so good as to let me

have what I paid it for.' 'You must have my consent to that first,' said

Heinel, 'so please to step in here, and let us talk it over.' The old

man grinned, and showed his teeth, as if he should have been very glad

to get into the circle if he could. Then at last, after a long talk,

they came to terms. Heinel agreed that his father must give him up, and

that so far the dwarf should have his way: but, on the other hand, the

fairy had told Heinel what fortune was in store for him, if he followed

his own course; and he did not choose to be given up to his hump-backed

friend, who seemed so anxious for his company.

So, to make a sort of drawn battle of the matter, it was settled that

Heinel should be put into an open boat, that lay on the sea-shore hard

by; that the father should push him off with his own hand, and that he

should thus be set adrift, and left to the bad or good luck of wind and

weather. Then he took leave of his father, and set himself in the boat,

but before it got far off a wave struck it, and it fell with one side

low in the water, so the merchant thought that poor Heinel was lost, and

went home very sorrowful, while the dwarf went his way, thinking that at

any rate he had had his revenge.

The boat, however, did not sink, for the good fairy took care of her

friend, and soon raised the boat up again, and it went safely on. The

young man sat safe within, till at length it ran ashore upon an unknown

land. As he jumped upon the shore he saw before him a beautiful castle

but empty and dreary within, for it was enchanted. 'Here,' said he to

himself, 'must I find the prize the good fairy told me of.' So he once

more searched the whole palace through, till at last he found a white

snake, lying coiled up on a cushion in one of the chambers.

Now the white snake was an enchanted princess; and she was very glad

to see him, and said, 'Are you at last come to set me free? Twelve

long years have I waited here for the fairy to bring you hither as she

promised, for you alone can save me. This night twelve men will come:

their faces will be black, and they will be dressed in chain armour.

They will ask what you do here, but give no answer; and let them do

what they will--beat, whip, pinch, prick, or torment you--bear all; only

speak not a word, and at twelve o'clock they must go away. The second

night twelve others will come: and the third night twenty-four, who

will even cut off your head; but at the twelfth hour of that night their

power is gone, and I shall be free, and will come and bring you the

Water of Life, and will wash you with it, and bring you back to life

and health.' And all came to pass as she had said; Heinel bore all, and

spoke not a word; and the third night the princess came, and fell on his

neck and kissed him. Joy and gladness burst forth throughout the castle,

the wedding was celebrated, and he was crowned king of the Golden


They lived together very happily, and the queen had a son. And thus

eight years had passed over their heads, when the king thought of his

father; and he began to long to see him once again. But the queen was

against his going, and said, 'I know well that misfortunes will come

upon us if you go.' However, he gave her no rest till she agreed. At his

going away she gave him a wishing-ring, and said, 'Take this ring, and

put it on your finger; whatever you wish it will bring you; only promise

never to make use of it to bring me hence to your father's house.' Then

he said he would do what she asked, and put the ring on his finger, and

wished himself near the town where his father lived.

Heinel found himself at the gates in a moment; but the guards would

not let him go in, because he was so strangely clad. So he went up to a

neighbouring hill, where a shepherd dwelt, and borrowed his old frock,

and thus passed unknown into the town. When he came to his father's

house, he said he was his son; but the merchant would not believe him,

and said he had had but one son, his poor Heinel, who he knew was long

since dead: and as he was only dressed like a poor shepherd, he would

not even give him anything to eat. The king, however, still vowed that

he was his son, and said, 'Is there no mark by which you would know me

if I am really your son?' 'Yes,' said his mother, 'our Heinel had a mark

like a raspberry on his right arm.' Then he showed them the mark, and

they knew that what he had said was true.

He next told them how he was king of the Golden Mountain, and was

married to a princess, and had a son seven years old. But the merchant

said, 'that can never be true; he must be a fine king truly who travels

about in a shepherd's frock!' At this the son was vexed; and forgetting

his word, turned his ring, and wished for his queen and son. In an

instant they stood before him; but the queen wept, and said he had

broken his word, and bad luck would follow. He did all he could to

soothe her, and she at last seemed to be appeased; but she was not so in

truth, and was only thinking how she should punish him.

One day he took her to walk with him out of the town, and showed her

the spot where the boat was set adrift upon the wide waters. Then he sat

himself down, and said, 'I am very much tired; sit by me, I will rest my

head in your lap, and sleep a while.' As soon as he had fallen asleep,

however, she drew the ring from his finger, and crept softly away, and

wished herself and her son at home in their kingdom. And when he awoke

he found himself alone, and saw that the ring was gone from his finger.

'I can never go back to my father's house,' said he; 'they would say I

am a sorcerer: I will journey forth into the world, till I come again to

my kingdom.'

So saying he set out and travelled till he came to a hill, where three

giants were sharing their father's goods; and as they saw him pass they

cried out and said, 'Little men have sharp wits; he shall part the goods

between us.' Now there was a sword that cut off an enemy's head whenever

the wearer gave the words, 'Heads off!'; a cloak that made the owner

invisible, or gave him any form he pleased; and a pair of boots that

carried the wearer wherever he wished. Heinel said they must first let

him try these wonderful things, then he might know how to set a value

upon them. Then they gave him the cloak, and he wished himself a fly,

and in a moment he was a fly. 'The cloak is very well,' said he: 'now

give me the sword.' 'No,' said they; 'not unless you undertake not to

say, "Heads off!" for if you do we are all dead men.' So they gave it

him, charging him to try it on a tree. He next asked for the boots also;

and the moment he had all three in his power, he wished himself at

the Golden Mountain; and there he was at once. So the giants were left

behind with no goods to share or quarrel about.

As Heinel came near his castle he heard the sound of merry music; and

the people around told him that his queen was about to marry another

husband. Then he threw his cloak around him, and passed through the

castle hall, and placed himself by the side of the queen, where no one

saw him. But when anything to eat was put upon her plate, he took it

away and ate it himself; and when a glass of wine was handed to her, he

took it and drank it; and thus, though they kept on giving her meat and

drink, her plate and cup were always empty.

Upon this, fear and remorse came over her, and she went into her chamber

alone, and sat there weeping; and he followed her there. 'Alas!' said

she to herself, 'was I not once set free? Why then does this enchantment

still seem to bind me?'

'False and fickle one!' said he. 'One indeed came who set thee free, and

he is now near thee again; but how have you used him? Ought he to

have had such treatment from thee?' Then he went out and sent away the

company, and said the wedding was at an end, for that he was come back

to the kingdom. But the princes, peers, and great men mocked at him.

However, he would enter into no parley with them, but only asked them

if they would go in peace or not. Then they turned upon him and tried

to seize him; but he drew his sword. 'Heads Off!' cried he; and with the

word the traitors' heads fell before him, and Heinel was once more king

of the Golden Mountain.