Part 7 out of 8
spreading in long quicksilver-like streams over the floor for a quarter
of an hour; "mayn't I take your cloak?"
"No, thank you," said the old gentleman.
"Your cap, sir?"
"I'm all right, thank you," said the old gentleman, rather gruffly.
"But--sir--I'm very sorry," said Gluck hesitatingly; "but--really, sir--
you're putting the fire out."
"It'll take longer to do the mutton then," replied his visitor, dryly.
Gluck was very much puzzled by the behavior of his guest; it was such a
strange mixture of coolness and humility. He turned away at the string
meditatively for another five minutes.
"That mutton looks very nice," said the old gentleman, at length. "Can't
you give me a little bit?"
"Impossible, sir," said Gluck.
"I'm very hungry," continued the old gentleman; "I've had nothing to eat
yesterday, nor to-day. They surely couldn't miss a bit from the
He spoke in so very melancholy a tone that it quite melted Gluck's
heart. "They promised me one slice to-day, sir," said he; "I can give
you that, but not a bit more."
"That's a good boy," said the old gentleman again.
Then Gluck warmed a plate and sharpened a knife. "I don't care if I do
get beaten for it," thought he. Just as he had cut a large slice out of
the mutton, there came a tremendous rap at the door. The old gentleman
jumped off the hob, as if it had suddenly become inconveniently warm.
Gluck fitted the slice into the mutton again, with desperate efforts at
exactitude, and ran to open the door.
"What did you keep us waiting in the rain for?" said Schwartz, as he
walked in, throwing his umbrella in Gluck's face.
"Ay! what for, indeed, you little vagabond?" said Hans, administering an
educational box on the ear, as he followed his brother into the kitchen.
"Bless my soul!" said Schwartz, when he opened the door.
"Amen," said the little gentleman, who had taken his cap off, and was
standing in the middle of the kitchen, bowing with the utmost possible
"Who's that?" said Schwartz, catching up a rolling-pin, and turning to
Gluck with a fierce frown.
"I don't know, indeed, brother," said Gluck, in great terror.
"How did he get in?" roared Schwartz.
"My dear brother," said Gluck deprecatingly, "he was so very wet!"
The rolling-pin was descending on Gluck's head; but, at the instant, the
old gentleman interposed his conical cap, on which it crashed with a
shock that shook the water out of it all over the room. What was very
odd, the rolling-pin no sooner touched the cap, than it flew out of
Schwartz's hand, spinning like a straw in a high wind, and fell into the
corner at the further end of the room.
"Who are you, sir?" demanded Schwartz, turning upon him.
"What's your business?" snarled Hans.
"I'm a poor old man, sir," the little gentleman began very modestly,
"and I saw your fire through the window, and begged shelter for a
quarter of an hour."
"Have the goodness to walk out again, then," said Schwartz. "We've quite
water enough in our kitchen, without making it a drying-house."
"It's a cold day to turn an old man out in, sir; look at my gray hairs."
They hung down to his shoulders, as I told you before.
"Ay!" said Hans, "there are enough of them to keep you warm. Walk!"
"I'm very, very hungry, sir; couldn't you spare me a bit of bread before
"Bread, indeed!" said Schwartz; "do you suppose we've nothing to do with
our bread but to give it to such red-nosed fellows as you?"
"Why don't you sell your feather?" said Hans, sneeringly. "Out with
"A little bit," said the old gentleman.
"Be off!" said Schwartz.
"Off, and be hanged!" cried Hans, seizing him by the collar. But he had
no sooner touched the old gentleman's collar, than away he went after
the rolling-pin, spinning round and round, till he fell into the corner
on the top of it. Then Schwartz was very angry, and ran at the old
gentleman to turn him out; but he also had hardly touched him, when away
he went after Hans and the rolling-pin, and hit his head against the
wall as he tumbled into the corner. And so there they lay, all three.
Then the old gentleman spun himself round with velocity in the opposite
direction; continued to spin until his long cloak was all wound neatly
about him; clapped his cap on his head, very much on one side (for it
could not stand upright without going through the ceiling), gave an
additional twist to his corkscrew mustaches, and replied with perfect
coolness: "Gentlemen, I wish you a very good morning. At twelve o'clock
to-night I'll call again; after such a refusal of hospitality as I have
just experienced, you will not be surprised if that visit is the last I
ever pay you."
"If I ever catch you here again," muttered Schwartz, coming, half
frightened, out of the corner--but before he could finish his sentence,
the old gentleman had shut the house door behind him with a great bang;
and past the window, at the same instant, drove a wreath of ragged
cloud, that whirled and rolled away down the valley in all manner of
shapes; turning over and over in the air: and melting away at last in a
gush of rain.
"A very pretty business, indeed, Mr. Gluck!" said Schwartz. "Dish the
mutton, sir. If ever I catch you at such a trick again--Bless me, why
the mutton's been cut!"
"You promised me one slice, brother, you know," said Gluck.
"Oh! and you were cutting it hot, I suppose, and going to catch all the
gravy. It'll be long before I promise you such a thing again. Leave the
room, sir; and have the kindness to wait in the coal-cellar till I call
Gluck left the room melancholy enough. The brothers ate as much mutton
as they could, locked the rest in the cupboard, and proceeded to get
very drunk after dinner.
Such a night as it was! Howling wind and rushing rain without
intermission. The brothers had just sense enough left to put up all the
shutters, and double bar the door, before they went to bed. They usually
slept in the same room. As the clock struck twelve, they were both
awakened by a tremendous crash. Their door burst open with a violence
that shook the house from top to bottom.
"What's that?" cried Schwartz, starting up in his bed.
"Only I," said the little gentleman.
The two brothers sat up on their bolster, and stared into the darkness.
The room was full of water, and by a misty moonbeam, which found its way
through a hole in the shutter, they could see, in the midst of it, an
enormous foam globe, spinning round, and bobbing up and down like a
cork, on which, as on a most luxurious cushion, reclined the little old
gentleman, cap and all.
There was plenty of room for it now, for the roof was off.
"Sorry to incommode you," said their visitor ironically. "I'm afraid
your beds are dampish; perhaps you had better go to your brother's room;
I've left the ceiling on there."
They required no second admonition, but rushed into Gluck's room, wet
through, and in an agony of terror.
"You'll find my card on the kitchen table," the old gentleman called
after them. "Remember, the LAST visit."
"Pray Heaven it may be!" said Schwartz, shuddering. And the foam globe
Dawn came at last, and the two brothers looked out of Gluck's little
window in the morning. The Treasure Valley was one mass of ruin and
desolation. The inundation had swept away trees, crops, and cattle, and
left, in their stead, a waste of red sand and gray mud.
[Illustration with caption: "SORRY TO INCOMMODE YOU"]
The two brothers crept, shivering and horror-struck, into the kitchen.
The water had gutted the whole first floor: corn, money, almost every
movable thing had been swept away, and there was left only a small white
card on the kitchen table.
On it, in large, breezy, long-legged letters, were engraved the words:
Southwest Wind, Esquire.
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
"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
like 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 out of 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
"Ah!" said Gluck aloud, after he had looked at it for a little 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
"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
"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 furthest 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 its
reflecting little Gluck's head, as he looked in, he saw meeting his
glance, from beneath the gold, the red nose and the 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 inclining 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 the dictum.
"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 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, 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!"
The King of the Golden River had hardly made his extraordinary exit
before Hans and Schwartz came roaring into the house, very savagely
drunk. The discovery of the total loss of their last piece of plate had
the effect of sobering them just enough to enable them to stand over
Gluck, beating him very steadily for a quarter of an hour; at the
expiration of which period they dropped into a couple of chairs, and
requested to know what he had got to say for himself. Gluck told them
his story, of which of course they did not believe a word. They beat him
again, till their arms were tired, and staggered to bed. In the morning,
however, the steadiness with which he adhered to his story obtained him
some degree of credence; the immediate consequence of which was, that
the two brothers, after wrangling a long time on the knotty question
which of them should try his fortune first, drew their swords, and began
fighting. The noise of the fray alarmed the neighbors, who, finding they
could not pacify the combatants, sent for the constable.
Hans, on hearing this, contrived to escape, and hid himself; but
Schwartz was taken before the magistrate, fined for breaking the peace,
and having drunk out his last penny the evening before, was thrown into
prison till he should pay.
When Hans heard this, he was much delighted, and determined to set out
immediately for the Golden River. How to get the holy water was the
question. He went to the priest, but the priest could not give any holy
water to so abandoned a character. So Hans went to vespers in the
evening for the first time in his life, and, under pretence of crossing
himself, stole a cupful, and returned home in triumph.
Next morning he got up before the sun rose, put the holy water into a
strong flask, and two bottles of wine and some meat in a basket, slung
them over his back, took his alpine staff in his hand, and set off for
On his way out of the town he had to pass the prison, and as he looked
in at the windows, whom should he see but Schwartz himself peeping out
of the bars, and looking very disconsolate.
"Good morning, brother," said Hans; "have you any message for the King
of the Golden River?"
Schwartz gnashed his teeth with rage, and shook the bars with all his
strength; but Hans only laughed at him, and advising him to make himself
comfortable till he came back again, shouldered his basket, shook the
bottle of holy water in Schwartz's face till it frothed again, and
marched off in the highest spirits in the world.
It was, indeed, a morning that might have made any one happy, even with
no Golden River to seek for. Level lines of dewy mist lay stretched
along the valley, out of which rose the massy mountains--their lower
cliffs in pale gray shadow, hardly distinguishable from the floating
vapor, but gradually ascending till they caught the sunlight, which ran
in sharp touches of ruddy color along the angular crags, and pierced, in
long level rays, through their fringes of spear-like pine. Far above
shot up red splintered masses of castellated rock, jagged and shivered
into myriads of fantastic forms, with here and there a streak of sunlit
snow, traced down their chasms like a line of forked lightning; and, far
beyond, and far above all these, fainter than the morning cloud, but
purer and changeless, slept, in the blue sky, the utmost peaks of the
The Golden River, which sprang from one of the lower and snowless
elevations, was now nearly in shadow; all but the uppermost jets of
spray, which rose like slow smoke above the undulating line of the
cataract, and floated away in feeble wreaths upon the morning wind.
On this object, and on this alone, Hans's eyes and thoughts were fixed;
forgetting the distance he had to traverse, he set off at an imprudent
rate of walking, which greatly exhausted him before he had scaled the
first range of the green and low hills. He was, moreover, surprised, on
surmounting them, to find that a large glacier, of whose existence,
notwithstanding his previous knowledge of the mountains, he had been
absolutely ignorant, lay between him and the source of the Golden River.
He entered on it with the boldness of a practiced mountaineer; yet he
thought he had never traversed so strange or so dangerous a glacier in
his life. The ice was excessively slippery; and out of all its chasms
came wild sounds of gushing water: not monotonous or low, but changeful
and loud, rising occasionally into drifting passages of wild melody,
then breaking off into short, melancholy tones, or sudden shrieks,
resembling those of human voices in distress or pain. The ice was broken
into thousands of confused shapes, but none, Hans thought, like the
ordinary forms of splintered ice. There seemed a curious EXPRESSION
about all their outlines--a perpetual resemblance to living features,
distorted and scornful. Myriads of deceitful shadows and lurid lights
played and floated about and through the pale blue pinnacles, dazzling
and confusing the sight of the traveler; while his ears grew dull and
his head giddy with the constant gush and roar of the concealed waters.
These painful circumstances increased upon him as he advanced; the ice
crashed and yawned into fresh chasms at his feet, tottering spires
nodded around him, and fell thundering across his path; and though he
had repeatedly faced these dangers on the most terrific glaciers, and in
the wildest weather, it was with a new and oppressive feeling of panic-
terror that he leaped the last chasm, and flung himself, exhausted and
shuddering on the firm turf of the mountain.
He had been compelled to abandon his basket of food, which became a
perilous incumbrance on the glacier, and had now no means of refreshing
himself but by breaking off and eating some of the pieces of ice. This,
however, relieved his thirst; an hour's repose recruited his hardy
frame, and, with the indomitable spirit of avarice, he resumed his
His way now lay straight up a ridge of bare, red rocks, without a blade
of grass to ease the foot or a projecting angle to afford an inch of
shade from the south sun. It was past noon, and the rays beat intensely
upon the steep path, while the whole atmosphere was motionless, and
penetrated with heat. Intense thirst was soon added to the bodily
fatigue with which Hans was now afflicted; glance after glance he cast
on the flask of water which hung at his belt. "Three drops are enough,"
at last thought he; "I may, at least, cool my lips with it."
He opened the flask, and was raising it to his lips, when his eye fell
on an object lying on the rock beside him; he thought it moved. It was a
small dog, apparently in the last agony of death from thirst. Its tongue
was out, its jaws dry, its limbs extended lifelessly, and a swarm of
black ants were crawling about its lips and throat. Its eye moved to the
bottle which Hans held in his hand. He raised it, drank, spurned the
animal with his foot, and passed on. And he did not know how it was, but
he thought that a strange shadow had suddenly come across the blue sky.
The path became steeper and more rugged every moment; and the high hill
air, instead of refreshing him, seemed to throw his blood into a fever.
The noise of the hill cataracts sounded like mockery in his ears; they
were all distant, and his thirst increased every moment. Another hour
passed, and he again looked down to the flask at his side; it was half
empty, but there was much more than three drops in it. He stopped to
open it, and again, as he did so, something moved in the path above him.
It was a fair child, stretched nearly lifeless on the rock, its breast
heaving with thirst, its eyes closed, and its lips parched and burning.
Hans eyed it deliberately, drank, and passed on. And a dark gray cloud
came over the sun, and long snake-like shadows crept up along the
mountain sides. Hans struggled on. The sun was sinking, but its descent
seemed to bring no coolness; the leaden weight of the dead air pressed
upon his brow and heart, but the goal was near. He saw the cataract of
the Golden River springing from the hillside, scarcely five hundred feet
above him. He paused for a moment to breathe, and sprang on to complete
At this instant a faint cry fell on his ear. He turned, and saw a gray-
haired old man extended on the rocks. His eyes were sunk, his features
deadly pale, and gathered into an expression of despair. "Water!"--he
stretched his arms to Hans, and cried feebly--"Water! I am dying."
[Illustration: THOU HAST HAD THY SHARE OF LIFE]
"I have none," replied Hans; "thou hast had thy share of life." He
strode over the prostrate body, and darted on. And a flash of blue
lightning rose out of the east, shaped like a sword; it shook thrice
over the whole heaven, and left it dark with one heavy, impenetrable
shade. The sun was setting; it plunged toward the horizon like a red-hot
The roar of the Golden River rose on Hans's ear. He stood at the brink
of the chasm through which it ran. Its waves were filled with the red
glory of the sunset; they shook their crests like tongues of fire, and
flashes of bloody light gleamed along their foam. Their sound came
mightier and mightier on his senses; his brain grew giddy with the
prolonged thunder. Shuddering, he drew the flask from his girdle, and
hurled it into the centre of the torrent. As he did so, an icy chill
shot through his limbs; he staggered, shrieked, and fell. The water
closed over his cry. And the moaning of the river rose wildly into the
night, as it gushed over
The Black Stone.
Poor little Gluck waited very anxiously alone in the house for Hans's
return. Finding he did not come back, he was terribly frightened, and
went and told Schwartz in the prison all that had happened. Then
Schwartz was very much pleased, and said that Hans must certainly have
been turned into a black stone, and he should have all the gold to
himself. But Gluck was very sorry, and cried all night. When he got up
in the morning, there was no bread in the house, nor any money; so Gluck
went and hired himself to another goldsmith, and he worked so hard, and
so neatly, and so long every day, that he soon got money enough together
to pay his brother's fine, and he went and gave it all to Schwartz, and
Schwartz got out of prison. Then Schwartz was quite pleased, and said he
should have some of the gold of the river. But Gluck only begged he
would go and see what had become of Hans.
Now when Schwartz had heard that Hans had stolen the holy water, he
thought to himself that such a proceeding might not be considered
altogether correct by the King of the Golden River, and determined to
manage matters better. So he took some more of Gluck's money, and went
to a bad priest, who gave him some holy water very readily for it. Then
Schwartz was sure it was all quite right. So Schwartz got up early in
the morning before the sun rose, and took some bread and wine in a
basket, and put his holy water in a flask, and set off for the
Like his brother, he was much surprised at the sight of the glacier, and
had great difficulty in crossing it, even after leaving his basket
The day was cloudless, but not bright; a heavy purple haze was hanging
over the sky, and the hills looked lowering and gloomy. And as Schwartz
climbed the steep rock path, the thirst came upon him, as it had upon
his brother, until he lifted his flask to his lips to drink. Then he saw
the fair child lying near him on the rocks, and it cried to him, and
moaned for water.
"Water, indeed," said Schwartz; "I haven't half enough for myself," and
passed on. And as he went he thought the sunbeams grew more dim, and he
saw a low bank of black cloud rising out of the west; and when he had
climbed for another hour the thirst overcame him again, and he would
have drunk. Then he saw the old man lying before him on the path, and
heard him cry out for water.
"Water, indeed," said Schwartz; "I haven't half enough for myself," and
on he went.
[Illustration: HE CAST THE FLASK INTO THE STREAM]
Then again the light seemed to fade from before his eyes, and he looked
up, and, behold, a mist, of the color of blood, had come over the sun;
and the bank of black cloud had risen very high, and its edges were
tossing and tumbling like the waves of the angry sea. And they cast long
shadows, which flickered over Schwartz's path.
Then Schwartz climbed for another hour, and again his thirst returned;
and as he lifted his flask to his lips, he thought he saw his brother
Hans lying exhausted on the path before him, and, as he gazed, the
figure stretched its arms to him, and cried for water. "Ha, ha!" laughed
Schwartz, "are you there? Remember the prison bars, my boy. Water,
indeed! do you suppose I carried it all the way up here for you?" And he
strode over the figure; yet, as he passed, he thought he saw a strange
expression of mockery about its lips. And when he had gone a few yards
farther, he looked back; but the figure was not there.
And a sudden horror came over Schwartz, he knew not why; but the thirst
for gold prevailed over his fear, and he rushed on. And the bank of
black cloud rose to the zenith, and out of it came bursts of spiry
lightning, and waves of darkness seemed to heave and float between their
flashes, over the whole heavens. And the sky where the sun was setting
was all level, and like a lake of blood; and a strong wind came out of
that sky, tearing its crimson clouds into fragments, and scattering them
far into the darkness. And when Schwartz stood by the brink of the
Golden River, its waves were black like thunder-clouds, but their foam
was like fire; and the roar of the waters below and the thunder above
met, as he cast the flask into the stream. And, as he did so, the
lightning glared in his eyes, and the earth gave way beneath him, and
the waters closed over his cry. And the moaning of the river rose wildly
into the night, as it gushed over
The Two Black Stones.
When Gluck found that Schwartz did not come back, he was very sorry, and
did not know what to do. He had no money, and was obliged to go and hire
himself again to the goldsmith, who worked him very hard, and gave him
very little money. So, after a month or two, Gluck grew tired, and made
up his mind to go and try his fortune with the Golden River. "The little
king looked very kind," thought he. "I don't think he will turn me into
a black stone." So he went to the priest, and the priest gave him some
holy water as soon as he asked for it. Then Gluck took some bread in his
basket, and the bottle of water, and set off very early for the
If the glacier had occasioned a great deal of fatigue to his brothers,
it was twenty times worse for him, who was neither so strong nor so
practiced on the mountains. He had several very bad falls, lost his
basket and bread, and was very much frightened at the strange noises
under the ice. He lay a long time to rest on the grass, after he had got
over, and began to climb the hill just in the hottest part of the day.
When he had climbed for an hour, he got dreadfully thirsty, and was
going to drink like his brothers, when he saw an old man coming down the
path above him, looking very feeble, and leaning on a staff.
"My son," said the old man, "I am faint with thirst; give me some of
Then Gluck looked at him, and when he saw that he was pale and weary, he
gave him the water.
"Only pray don't drink it all," said Gluck. But the old man drank a
great deal, and gave him back the bottle two thirds empty. Then he bade
him good speed, and Gluck went on again merrily. And the path became
easier to his feet, and two or three blades of grass appeared upon it,
and some grasshoppers began singing on the bank beside it; and Gluck
thought he had never heard such merry singing.
Then he went on for another hour, and the thirst increased on him so
that he thought he should be forced to drink. But, as he raised the
flask, he saw a little child lying panting by the roadside, and it cried
out piteously for water. Then Gluck struggled with himself and
determined to bear the thirst a little longer; and he put the bottle to
the child's lips, and it drank it all but a few drops. Then it smiled on
him and got up, and ran down the hill; and Gluck looked after it, till
it became as small as a little star, and then turned, and began climbing
again. And then there were all kinds of sweet flowers growing on the
rocks, bright green moss, with pale pink starry flowers, and soft-belled
gentians, more blue than the sky at its deepest, and pure white
transparent lilies. And crimson and purple butterflies darted hither and
thither, and the sky sent down such pure light that Gluck had never felt
so happy in his life.
Yet, when he had climbed for another hour, his thirst became intolerable
again; and, when he looked at his bottle, he saw that there were only
five or six drops left in it, and he could not venture to drink. And as
he was hanging the flask to his belt again, he saw a little dog lying on
the rocks, gasping for breath--just as Hans had seen it on the day of
his ascent. And Gluck stopped and looked at it, and then at the Golden
River, not five hundred yards above him; and he thought of the dwarf's
words, that no one could succeed, except in his first attempt; and he
tried to pass the dog, but it whined piteously, and Gluck stopped again.
"Poor beastie," said Gluck, "it'll be dead when I come down again, if I
don't help it." Then he looked closer and closer at it, and its eye
turned on him so mournfully that he could not stand it. "Confound the
King and his gold too," said Gluck; and he opened the flask, and poured
all the water into the dog's mouth.
The dog sprang up and stood on its hind legs. Its tail disappeared, its
ears became long, longer, silky, golden; its nose became very red, its
eyes became very twinkling; in three seconds the dog was gone, and
before Gluck stood his old acquaintance, the King of the Golden River.
"Thank you," said the monarch; "but don't be frightened, it's all
right"; for Gluck showed manifest symptoms of consternation at this
unlooked-for reply to his last observation. "Why didn't you come
before," continued the dwarf, "instead of sending me those rascally
brothers of yours, for me to have the trouble of turning into stones?
Very hard stones they make, too."
"Oh dear me!" said Gluck; "have you really been so cruel?"
"Cruel?" said the dwarf; "they poured unholy water into my stream; do
you suppose I'm going to allow that?"
[Illustration: THE DWARF SHOOK THE DROPS INTO THE FLASK]
"Why," said Gluck, "I am sure, sir--your Majesty, I mean--they got the
water out of the church font."
"Very probably," replied the dwarf; "but," and his countenance grew
stern as he spoke, "the water which has been refused to the cry of the
weary and dying is unholy, though it had been blessed by every saint in
heaven; and the water which is found in the vessel of mercy is holy,
though it had been denied with corpses."
So saying, the dwarf stooped and plucked a lily that grew at his feet.
On its white leaves hung three drops of clear dew, and the dwarf shook
them into the flask which Gluck held in his hand. "Cast these into the
river," he said, "and descend on the other side of the mountains into
the Treasure Valley. And so good speed."
As he spoke, the figure of the dwarf became indistinct. The playing
colors of his robe formed themselves into a prismatic mist of dewy
light; he stood for an instant veiled with them as with the belt of a
broad rainbow. The colors grew faint, the mist rose into the air; the
monarch had evaporated.
And Gluck climbed to the brink of the Golden River, and its waves were
as clear as crystal and as brilliant as the sun.
And when he cast the three drops of dew into the stream, there opened
where they fell a small circular whirlpool, into which the waters
descended with a musical noise.
Gluck stood watching it for some time, very much disappointed, because
not only the river was not turned into gold, but its waters seemed much
diminished in quantity. Yet he obeyed his friend the dwarf, and
descended the other side of the mountains, toward the Treasure Valley;
and, as he went, he thought he heard the noise of water working its way
under the ground. And when he came in sight of the Treasure Valley,
behold, a river, like the Golden River, was springing from a new cleft
of the rocks above it, and was flowing in innumerable streams among the
dry heaps of red sand.
And as Gluck gazed, fresh grass sprang beside the new streams, and
creeping plants grew, and climbed among the moistening soil. Young
flowers opened suddenly along the river sides, as stars leap out when
twilight is deepening, and thickets of myrtle and tendrils of vine cast
lengthening shadows over the valley as they grew. And thus the Treasure
Valley became a garden again, and the inheritance which had been lost by
cruelty was regained by love.
And Gluck went and dwelt in the valley, and the poor were never driven
from his door; so that his barns became full of corn, and his house of
treasure. And, for him, the river had, according to the dwarf's promise,
become a River of Gold.
And to this day the inhabitants of the valley point out the place where
the three drops of holy dew were cast into the stream, and trace the
course of the Golden River under the ground, until it emerges in the
Treasure Valley. And at the top of the cataract of the Golden River are
still to be seen two black stones, round which the waters howl
mournfully every day at sunset; and these stones are still called, by
the people of the valley,
The Black Brothers.
It would be a rather hard thing to choose the very best fairy story, but
there are a great many persons who would say that, everything
considered, The King of the Golden River is the finest. Many like The
Ugly Duckling, by Hans Christian Andersen, and it certainly is a
beautiful story. We must remember in comparing the two that The Ugly
Duckling has probably lost something in being translated into the
English, for it is almost impossible to make a translation as perfect as
the original. For the reason just given, perhaps, The King of the Golden
River excels as literature, and almost every boy or girl is glad to
study the story enough to understand what makes it so very fine.
As soon as we have read it we feel that it is an interesting story, and
that we are really the better for reading it. We cannot follow the
fortunes of little Gluck without feeling our hearts grow warmer at his
kindly acts, or without knowing that the hospitality, self-denial,
sympathy and generosity that he shows are some of the finest traits of
human character. Moreover, we are inspired with the desire to be like
Gluck, and to curb any inclination to become like his two dark brothers.
What we wish to do, however, in this brief study, is to try to find some
other points less noticeable, perhaps, but equally interesting, in which
this story excels many others. Now, one of these points is the
remarkably brilliant way in which things are described by Mr. Ruskin.
We remember that he was a famous English writer who had a very high
regard for painting, and who wrote about pictures until he made the
world believe many of the sensible things he said. Naturally, the writer
who had such an appreciation for pictures would be particular in
description. In other words, we should expect him to paint for us
beautiful word pictures. In this we are not disappointed, when we reach,
for instance, the description of the beautiful morning when Hans started
out on his journey to the Golden River. You will find it in an early
part of the third section of the story.
It is not necessary for Ruskin to describe the view that lay before
Hans, but his love for the beautiful and his passion for colors made him
sketch for us the imaginary beauties that lay before the selfish and
avaricious man. On our part we must try to see the picture as the author
saw it when he wrote.
Imagine rising before us a valley, surrounded on both sides by massive
mountains. The valley, we may say, runs north and south, and we are at
the south end of it, for on the cliffs at the west side the sun is
shining, its long level rays piercing the fringe of pines and touching
with a ruddy color the tops of the mountains. It would be a difficult
matter to climb the masses of castellated rock shivered into numberless
curious forms, for they extend far into the region of eternal snow, and
from where we stand it seems as though they pierce the blue heavens. The
snow line is not level along the cliffs, for in places the drifts lie
deep in chasms which, from a distance, look like branching rivers of
pure white, or, as Ruskin says, when lighted by the sun, appear like
"lines of forked lightning." At one end of the valley we may see the
Golden River, surging, possibly, from the eastern wall, as it is almost
wholly in the shadow; yet there are dashes of spray which the shining
sun turns to gold. Between the Golden River and ourselves lie some broad
fields of ice. In fact, the picture is not altogether one of beauty, for
there is a suggestion of sublimity and awe mixed with the view which
causes us to shudder in spite of the glowing radiance of the morning. In
the next paragraph Hans is shown proceeding on his journey, and then the
depressing elements in the picture become clearer.
What did Hans find that surprised him? Did it appear a longer walk to
the Golden River than he had anticipated? What was the nature of the
ice? If a person were crossing a glacier, would sounds of rushing water
tend to frighten him? Was the surface of the glacier smooth? Were there
many fragments of ice that seemed to take human form? Why are the
shadows called deceitful? What are lurid lights? What effect did the
sights and sounds have upon Hans? Had Hans been in similar dangers
before? Were these dangers worse than ever before, or was Hans in the
mood to be disturbed by them?
When you have answered the questions in the last paragraph, finish for
yourselves the picture of the valley as we first sketched it. Close your
eyes and try to see the valley, mountains, sunlight, great rocks,
yawning chasms, and the enormous fragments of ice that looked like
terrible beings ready to devour any one who came near them. When you
have done this, you will realize the power of Ruskin's descriptions.
Now compare the valley as Hans saw it with the valley as Schwartz and
Gluck saw it. What changes are there in the picture?
There are other descriptions in the story besides those of the valley
and the Golden River. It would be interesting to go through and compare
the different pictures which Ruskin gives us of the King of the Golden
River. If we should do this we might gather our information and put it
into a table something like this:
THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER
I. First Appearance.
1. He is an extraordinary-looking little gentleman.
2. Nose,--large and slightly brass-colored.
3. Cheeks,--round and very red.
4. Eyes,--twinkling under silky lashes.
5. Mustaches,--curled twice around.
6. Hair,--long and of a curious mixed pepper-and-salt color.
7. Height,--four feet six.
a. Cap,--conical-pointed, four feet six inches (nearly).
(1) Black feather, three feet long.
c. Coat,--exaggerated swallow-tail.
d. Cloak,--enormous, black, glossy-looking, eighteen feet long.
II. Second Appearance (spinning on the globe of foam).
1. Cap and all as before.
III. Third Appearance.
1. The drinking-mug.
a. The handle of two wreaths of golden hair descending and mixing
with the beard and whiskers.
b. Face,--small, fierce, reddish-gold.
2. The King.
a. Height,--one and a half feet; a golden dwarf.
b. Legs,--little and yellow.
c. Face,--as before.
d. Doublet,--slashed, of spun gold, prismatic colors.
e. Hair,--exquisitely delicate curls.
f. Features,--coppery, fierce and determined in expression.
IV. Fourth Appearance.
1. Same as in third appearance.
V. Different Forms the King Assumes:
1. To Hans:
a. A small dog, dying of thirst; tongue hanging out, jaws dry;
almost lifeless; ants crawling about its lips and throat.
b. A fair child, nearly lifeless; breast heaving with thirst; eyes
closed; lips parched and burning.
c. An old man; sunken features; deadly pale and expressing despair.
2. To Schwartz:
a. The fair child as it appeared to Hans.
b. The old man who appeared to Hans.
c. Brother Hans exhausted and begging for water.
3. To Gluck:
a. An old man leaning on a staff.
b. A little child panting by the roadside.
c. A little dog gasping for breath, which changes into the king.
There are a great many things besides vivid descriptions that make The
King of the Golden River a fine story. But it is not a good idea to
study any selection in literature too long or too hard, for in so doing
we are likely to lose our interest in the selection or even to take a
dislike to it. You know if we look too long at a beautiful sunset our
eyes grow weary and we seem to lose our power to admire it, but when the
next evening comes, with another glorious sunset, we are just as much
interested in it as ever. So it is with reading. If a thing is really
brilliant, we may look at it so long that our minds become tired; but we
can leave it for a while and come back to it with renewed interest.
Accordingly, when we have studied the descriptions of The King of the
Golden River we have probably done enough for one day or one time, at
least. Some other time we shall enjoy returning to it and finding new
things. For instance, we might like to see how many beautiful sentences,
or what great thoughts we can find well expressed.
Of the fine quotations here are two:
"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."
"A flash of blue lightning rose out of the east, shaped like a sword; it
shook thrice over the whole heaven, and left it dark with one heavy,
THE STORY OF ESTHER
Now it came to pass in the third year of the reign of Ahasuerus, when
the king sat on the throne which is in Shushan the palace, he made a
feast unto all his princes and servants, and showed the riches of his
glorious kingdom for many days.
And when these days were expired, the king made a feast in Shushan the
palace, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace.
The silken hangings were white, green, and blue, fastened with cords of
fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble; and the
couches were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and
white, and black marble.
On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry, he commanded
the chamberlains that served in his presence to bring Vashti the queen
before the king with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes
her beauty; for she was fair to look on.
But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his
chamberlains; therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in
Then the king said to the wise men, "What shall I do unto Queen Vashti
because she has not performed the commandment of the King?"
And they answered before the king, "Vashti the queen hath done wrong not
to the king only, but also to the princes and to all the people in all
the provinces of the king's dominions. Therefore, if it please the king,
let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among
the laws of the Persians and the Medes, which may not be altered,
'Vashti shall come no more before King Ahasuerus;' and let the king give
her royal estate unto another that is better than she."
And the saying pleased the king and the princes, and the king did
according to the word of the wise men.
After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus was appeased, the
servants that ministered unto the king said, "Let there be fair young
virgins sought for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all
the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair
young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto
the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, and let the maiden which
pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti."
And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.
Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was
Mordecai, who had been carried from Jerusalem into captivity by
Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and who brought up Esther, his
uncle's daughter. She had neither father nor mother, and the maid was
fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai took for his own daughter. So it came
to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree were heard, and when
many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, that Esther
was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hege.
The maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him, and he
preferred her and her maids unto the best in the house of the women. And
Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know
how Esther did, and what should become of her.
So Esther was taken unto King Ahasuerus, and the king loved Esther above
all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than
all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her
queen instead of Vashti.
Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants,
even Esther's feast.
And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then
Mordecai sat in the king's gate.
Esther had not yet told her kindred nor her people, as Mordecai had
charged her; for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when
she was brought up by him.
In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's
chamberlains, who kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on
the king Ahasuerus.
And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen;
and Esther told the king thereof in Mordecai's name.
And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found true;
therefore they were both hanged on a tree.
After these things did King Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of
Hammedatha, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes
that were with him.
And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and
reverenced Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him. But
Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.
Then the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, said unto
Mordecai, "Why transgressest thou the king's commandment?"
Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened
not unto them, that they told Haman, for Mordecai had told them that he
was a Jew.
And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then
was Haman full of wrath.
And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; wherefore Haman
sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of
Ahasuerus, even all the people of Mordecai.
And Haman said unto King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered
abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy
kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people, neither keep they
the king's laws; therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer
"If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed,
and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that
have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's
[Illustration: MORDECAI IN THE KING'S GATE]
And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman, the
son of Hammedatha, the Jews' enemy, and said:
"The people are given to thee to do with them as it seemeth good to
Then were the king's scribes called, and there was written according to
all that Haman had commanded, unto the king's lieutenants, governors and
rulers of every province, and to every people in the kingdom after their
own language. And it was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and
sealed with the king's ring.
And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to
destroy and to kill all Jews, both young and old, little children and
women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month,
and to take the spoil of them for a prey.
When Mordecai perceived all that was done, he rent his clothes, and put
on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and
cried with a loud and a bitter cry; and came even before the king's
gate, for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth.
And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his
decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and
weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
So Esther's maids and her chamberlains came and told her about Mordecai.
Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe
Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him; but he received it
Then called Esther for the chamberlain whom the king had appointed to
attend upon her, and sent him to Mordecai to know what it was, and why
it was that he mourned. And the chamberlain went forth to Mordecai unto
the street of the city which was before the King's gate.
And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him.
Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at
Shushan to destroy the Jews, to show it unto Esther, and to charge her
that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and
to make request before him for her people.
The chamberlain came and told Esther the words of Mordecai, and again
Esther sent to Mordecai, saying:
"All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do
know, that for every one, whether man or woman, that shall come unto the
king into the inner court, when he is not called, there is one law to
put him to death; except those to whom the king shall hold out the
golden sceptre; but I have not been called to come in unto the king
these thirty days."
And they told to Mordecai Esther's words.
Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, "Think not with thyself that
thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than the other Jews.
"For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall
deliverance arise to the Jews from another source; but thou and thy
father's house shall be destroyed. Who knoweth whether thou art not come
to the kingdom for such a purpose as this?"
[Illustration: HE PUT ON SACKCLOTH WITH ASHES]
Then Esther bade them return this answer:
"Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast
ye for me, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day; I
also, and my maidens, will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the
king, although it is not according to the law; and if I perish, I
So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had
Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal
apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house; and the king
sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of
And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court,
that she obtained favour in his sight; and the king held out to Esther
the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and
touched the top of the sceptre. Then said the king unto her, "What wilt
thou, Queen Esther? and what is thy request? It shall be given thee even
to the half of my kingdom."
And Esther answered, "If it seem good unto the king, let the king and
Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him."
Then the king said, "Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther
So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
And the king said unto Esther at the banquet, "What is thy petition and
thy request, and it shall be given thee even to the half of my kingdom."
Then answered Esther, and said, "My petition and my request is: If I
have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to
grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman
come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and on the morrow I
will make my request as the king hath said."
Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart; but when
Haman saw, in the king's gate, that Mordecai stood not up, nor moved for
him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman
refrained himself; and when he came home, he sent and called for his
friends, and his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches,
and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king
had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and
servants of the king.
Haman said moreover, "Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with
the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to-
morrow am I invited unto her also with the king.
"Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew
sitting at the king's gate."
Then said his wife and all his friends, "Let a gallows be made of fifty
cubits high, and to-morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be
hanged thereon; then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet."
And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.
On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the
book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.
And it was found written therein that Mordecai had told of the two
keepers of the door who had sought to lay hand on King Ahasuerus.
And the king said, "What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai
Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, "There is
nothing done for him."
And the king said, "Who is in the court?"
Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to ask
the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.
And the king's servants said unto Ahasuerus, "Behold, Haman standeth in
And the king said, "Let him come in."
So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, "What shall be done unto
the man whom the king delighteth to honour?"
Now Haman thought in his heart, "To whom would the king delight to do
honour more than to myself?" And Haman answered the king, "For the man
whom the king delighteth to honour, let the royal apparel be brought
which the king weareth, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the
crown royal which is set upon his head. And let this apparel and horse
be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that
they may array the man whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him
on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him,
'Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.'"
Then the king said to Haman, "Make haste, and take the apparel and the
horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that
sitteth at the king's gate; let nothing fail of all that thou hast
Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and
brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed
before him, "Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth
And Mordecai came again to the king's gate. But Haman hasted to his
house, mourning, and having his head covered.
And Haman told his wife and all his friends everything that had befallen
Then said his wise men and his wife, "If Mordecai be of the seed of the
Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail
against him, but shalt surely fall before him."
And while they were yet talking with him, came the king's chamberlains,
and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.
So the king and Haman came to the banquet with Esther the queen.
And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of
wine, "What is thy petition, Queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee;
and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of
Then Esther the queen answered and said, "If I have found favour in thy
sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my
petition, and my people at my request, for we are sold, I and my people,
to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for
bondmen and bondwomen only, I had held my tongue."
Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, "Who is
he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?"
And Esther said, "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman." Then
Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.
And one of the chamberlains said before the king, "Behold, the gallows
fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken
good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman."
Then the king said, "Hang him thereon."
So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.
Then was the king's wrath pacified.
And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto
her. And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and
gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.
And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet,
and besought him with tears to put away the mischief that Haman had
devised against the Jews.
Then the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose
and stood before the king, and said, "If it please the king, and if I
have found favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the
king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the
letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to
destroy the Jews which are in all the king's provinces; for how can I
endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I
endure to see the destruction of my kindred?"
[Illustration: THEN HAMAN WAS AFRAID]
Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen, and to Mordecai the
Jew, "Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have
hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews.
"Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and
seal it with the king's ring; for the writing which is written in the
king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse."
Then were the king's scribes called, and it was written according to all
that Mordecai commanded, unto the Jews, unto every province and unto
every people according to their writing, and according to their
And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of
blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of
fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.
The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour.
And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's
commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast
and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the
fear of the Jews fell upon them.
The story of Esther as told here is taken from the book of Esther in the
Bible. It has been abridged slightly, and a few words changed.
By Hans Christian Andersen
There was once a Darning-Needle who thought herself so fine, she
imagined she was an embroidering needle.
"Take care, and mind you hold me tight!" she said to the Fingers which
took her out. "Don't let me fall! If I fall on the ground I shall
certainly never be found again, for I am so fine!"
"That's as it may be," said the Fingers; and they grasped her round the
"See, I'm coming with a train!" said the Darning-Needle, and she drew a
long thread after her, but there was no knot in the thread.
The Fingers pointed the needle just at the cook's slipper, in which the
upper leather had burst, and was to be sewn together.
"That's vulgar work," said the Darning-Needle. "I shall never get
through. I'm breaking! I'm breaking!" And she really broke. "Did I not
say so?" said the Darning-Needle; "I'm too fine." "Now it's quite
useless," said the Fingers; but they were obliged to hold her fast, all
the same; for the cook dropped some sealing wax upon the needle, and
pinned her kerchief about her neck with it.
"So now I'm a breastpin!" said the Darning-Needle. "I knew very well
that I should come to honor; when one is something, one comes to
And she laughed quietly to herself--and one can never see when a
Darning-Needle laughs. There she sat, as proud as if she were in a state
coach, and looked all about her.
"May I be permitted to ask if you are gold?" she inquired of the Pin,
her neighbor. "You have a very pretty appearance, and a peculiar head,
but it is only little. You must take pains to grow, for it's not every
one that has sealing wax dropped upon him."
And the Darning-Needle drew herself up so proudly that she fell out of
the handkerchief right into the sink, which the cook was rinsing out.
"Now we're going on a journey," said the Darning-Needle. "If I only
don't get lost!"
But she really was lost.
"I'm too fine for this world," she observed, as she lay in the gutter.
"But I know who I am, and there's always something in that."
So the Darning-Needle kept her proud behavior, and did not lose her good
humor. And things of many kinds swam over her--chips and straws and
pieces of old newspapers.
"Only look how they sail!" said the Darning-Needle. "They don't know
what is under them! I'm here; I remain firmly here. See, there goes a
chip thinking of nothing in the world but himself--of a chip! There's a
straw going by now. How he turns? How he twirls about! Don't think only
of yourself; you might easily run up against a stone. There swims a bit
of newspaper. What's written upon it has long been forgotten, and yet it
gives itself airs. I sit quietly and patiently here. I know who I am,
and I shall remain what I am."
One day something lay close beside her that glittered splendidly; then
the Darning-Needle believed that it was a diamond; but it was a Bit of
broken Bottle; and because it shone, the Darning-Needle spoke to it,
introducing herself as a breastpin.
"I suppose you are a diamond?" she observed.
"Why, yes, something of that kind."
And then each believed the other to be a very valuable thing; and they
began speaking about the world, and how very conceited it was.
"I have been in a lady's box," said the Darning-Needle, "and this lady
was a cook. She had five fingers on each hand, and I never saw anything
so conceited as those five fingers. And yet they were only there that
they might take me out of the box, and put me back into it."
"Were they of good birth?" asked the Bit of Bottle.
"No, indeed," replied the Darning-Needle, "but very haughty. There were
five brothers, all of the Finger family. They kept very proudly
together, though they were of different lengths. The outermost, the
Thumbling, was short and fat; he walked out in front of the ranks, and
had only one joint in his back, and could only make a single bow; but he
said if he were hacked off from a man, that man was useless for service
in war. Dainty-Mouth, the second finger, thrust himself into sweet and
sour, pointed to the sun and moon, and gave the impression when they
wrote. Longman, the third, looked at all the others over his shoulder.
Goldborder, the fourth, went about with a golden belt round his waist;
and little Playman did nothing at all, and was proud of it. There was
nothing but bragging among them, and therefore I went away."
"And now we sit here and glitter!" said the Bit of Bottle.
At that moment more water came into the gutter, so that it overflowed,
and the Bit of Bottle was carried away.
"So, he is disposed of," observed the Darning-Needle. "I remain here; I
am too fine. But that's my pride, and my pride is honorable." And
proudly she sat there, and had many great thoughts. "I could almost
believe I had been born of a sunbeam, I'm so fine. It really appears to
me as if the sunbeams were always seeking for me under the water. Ah!
I'm so fine that my mother cannot find me. If I had my old eye, which
broke off, I think I should cry; but no, I should not do that; it's not
genteel to cry."
One day a couple of street boys lay grubbing in the gutter, where they
sometimes found old nails, farthings, and similar treasures. It was
dirty work, but they took great delight in it.
"Oh!" cried one, who had pricked himself with the Darning-Needle.
"There's a fellow for you."
"I'm not a fellow, I'm a young lady," said the Darning-Needle.
But nobody listened to her. The sealing wax had come off, and she had
turned black; but black makes one look slender, and she thought herself
finer even than before.
"Here comes an eggshell sailing along," said the boys; and they stuck
the Darning-Needle fast into the eggshell.
"White walls, and black myself! that looks well," remarked the Darning-
Needle. "Now one can see me. I only hope I shall not be seasick!" But
she was not seasick at all. "One is proof against seasickness if one has
a steel stomach and does not forget that one is a little more than an
ordinary person! The finer one is, the more one can bear."
"Crack!" went the eggshell, for a hand-barrow went over her.
"How it crushes one!" said the Darning-Needle. "I'm getting seasick now
--I'm quite sick."
But she was not really sick, though the hand-barrow had run over her;
she lay there at full length, and there she may lie.
By Thomas Moore
I'm a careless potato, and care not a pin
How into existence I came;
If they planted me drill-wise, or dibbled me in,
To me 'tis exactly the same.
The bean and the pea may more loftily tower,
But I care not a button for them;
Defiance I nod with my beautiful flower
When the earth is hoed up to my stem.
THE QUEEN OF THE UNDER-WORLD
Ceres, goddess of agriculture, had one daughter, named Proserpina, whom
she loved more than anything else in earth or sky. Sometimes Proserpina
accompanied her mother as she journeyed over the earth in her dragon-
car, making the corn grow; sometimes she traveled about the earth by
herself, tending the flowers, which were her special care; but what she
liked best was to stray with her companions, the nymphs, on the slopes
of Mount AEtna,
"I, a maiden, dwelt
With loved Demeter[FN below] on the sunny plains
Of our own Sicily. There, day by day,
I sported with my playmate goddesses
In virgin freedom. Budding age made gay
Our lightsome feet, and on the flowery slopes
We wandered daily, gathering flowers to weave
In careless garlands for our locks, and passed
The days in innocent gladness."
[Footnote: The Greeks and Romans, while they believed in many of the
same gods, had different names for them. The Latin names are the ones
most commonly used. Thus the goddess whom the Romans called Ceres, the
Greeks knew as Demeter, while her daughter, Proserpina, was by the
Greeks called Persephone. The poetic quotations used in this story are
from the Epic of Hades, by Lewis Morris.]
All the year round the maidens enjoyed these pleasures, for never yet
had the change of seasons appeared upon the earth; never had the cold,
sunless days come to make the earth barren.
"There was then
Summer nor winter, springtide nor the time
Of harvest, but the soft unfailing sun
Shone always, and the sowing time was one
With reaping; fruit and flower together sprung
Upon the trees; and the blade and ripened ear
Together clothed the plains."
One day while they played and laughed and sang, vying with each other as
to which could make the most beautiful garlands, they were startled by a
strange rumbling sound. Nearer it came, louder it grew; and suddenly to
the frightened eyes of the maidens there appeared a great chariot, drawn
by four wild-looking, foam-flecked black steeds. Not long did the girls
gaze at the horses or the chariot--all eyes were drawn in fascination to
the driver of the car. He was handsome as only a god could be, and yet
so gloomy that all knew instantly he could be none other than Pluto,
king of the underworld.
Suddenly, while his horses were almost at full speed, he jerked them to
a standstill. Then he sprang to the ground, seized Proserpina in his
arms, mounted his chariot, and was off before the frightened nymphs
could catch their breath to cry out. Poor Prosperina screamed and wept,
but no one was near to help her or even to hear her. On they flew, Pluto
doing his best to console the weeping girl, but refusing, with a stern
shake of the head and a black frown, her plea that she might be allowed
to return to her own home, or at least to bid farewell to her mother.
[Illustration: PLUTO SEIZED PROSERPINA]
"Never!" he exclaimed. "I have as much right as the other gods to a
beautiful wife; and since I knew that you, whom I had seen and loved,
would not go with me willingly, I took this way to compel you."
When they came at last to the bank of a raging river, and were obliged
to halt, Proserpina redoubled her cries, but still no one heard. Pluto,
fuming and fretting and calling down curses on the River Cyane, which
thus opposed his passage, seized his great two-pronged fork and struck
the earth a terrific blow. To Proserpina's horror a great cavern opened
before them, into which they were rapidly whirled. Then, with a crash,
the chasm closed behind them, and they moved on in utter darkness. The
horses seemed to find their way as easily as in the light, however, and
Pluto heaved a sigh of relief as the last of the daylight disappeared.
"Do not tremble so, my fair Proserpina," he said, in a voice far from
unkind. "When your eyes become accustomed to the gloom, you will find it
much more restful than the glare we have left behind us."
Proserpina's only reply was "My mother! O, my poor mother!" And truly
Ceres deserved pity. She had hastened at evening back to her home in
Sicily, happy in the thought of seeing her daughter, only to find that
daughter gone. The nymphs had retreated, long before, to their beds of
seaweed in the green ocean, and no one else could give the poor
distracted mother any news. When black night had really settled over the
earth, Ceres closed the door of her home, vowing never to open it until
she returned with Proserpina. Then, lighting a torch, she set forth,
alone and on foot, to seek her daughter.
From country to country she roamed, all over the earth, neither eating
nor sleeping, but spending day and night in her search. Of every one she
met she demanded, "Have you seen my daughter?"
No one recognized her; and small wonder, for her grief had changed her
in appearance from a radiant goddess to a haggard, sad-eyed old woman.
"Mad," whispered people as they passed her; for her clothes were ragged
and flapping about her, and always, even in the brightest sunlight, she
bore in her hand the lighted torch.
One day, weary and hopeless, she sank upon a stone by the roadside, and
sat there with her head in her hands, wondering to what land she could
next turn her footsteps.
A soft, pitying voice broke in upon her grief, and she raised her head
to see two young girls standing before her.
"Poor old woman," said one, "why are you so sad?"
"Ah," cried Ceres, "when I look upon you I am sadder still, for I have
lost my only child."
Impulsively the older girl held out her hand. "Come with us," she urged.
"We are the daughters of the king of this country, and were but now
seeking through the city for a nurse for our baby brother, Triptolemus.
You, who have lost the child you loved--will you not take charge of our
brother and bestow on him some of your love?"
Touched by their kindness, Ceres followed them; and indeed, she felt the
first joy she had known since the disappearance of her daughter when the
little prince was put into her arms. But such a weak, puny, wailing
princelet as he was! Ceres smiled down at him, and bent her head and
kissed him; when, to the utter amazement of those gathered about, he
ceased the crying which he had kept up for days, smiled, and clapped his
And, unless their eyes much deceived them, he began to grow round and
rosy and well!
"Will you give this child entirely into my keeping?" asked Ceres.
"Gladly, gladly!" exclaimed the mother, Metanira. For who would not have
been glad to engage a nurse whose mere touch worked such wonders?
But as the child's bedtime drew near, Metanira became worried and
restless. No one but herself had ever tended him before--was it really
safe to trust this stranger? At least, she would watch; and quietly she
stole to the door which separated her own apartment from that which had
been given to Ceres. The stranger sat before the hearth, with the
crowing, happy baby on her knee. Gently she drew off his clothing,
gently she anointed him with some liquid, the delicious perfume of which
reached Metanira. Then, murmuring some sounding, rhythmic words, she
leaned forward and placed him on the glowing coals.
Shrieking, Metanira rushed into the room and caught up her baby, burning
herself badly in the act; and furiously she turned to the aged nurse.
"How dare you--" she began; but there she stopped; for before her stood,
not the ragged stranger, but a woman taller than mortal, with flowing
yellow hair, bound with a wreath of wheat ears and red poppies. And from
her face shone a light so bright that Metanira was well-nigh blinded.
"O queen," she said gravely, "thy curiosity and thy lack of faith have
cost thy son dear. Immortality was the gift I meant to bestow upon him,
but now he shall grow old and die at last as other men." And with these
words the goddess vanished. [Footnote: Although Ceres was unable to do
all she wished for Triptolemus, she did not forget him. When he grew up
she loaned him her dragon-car and sent him about the world teaching
people how to till the soil, and, in particular, to use the plow. It was
Triptolemus who instituted the great festival at Eleusis which was held
in honor of Ceres.]
Still finding no trace of her daughter, Ceres cursed the earth and
forbade it to bring forth fruit until Proserpina should be found.
"Then on all lands
She cast the spell of barrenness; the wheat
Was blighted in the ear, the purple grapes
Blushed no more on the vines."
Great indeed must have been the anguish of this kindest of all goddesses
when she could bring herself to adopt such measures. Even the grief and
want of the people among whom she moved could not waken her pity.
One day, when her wanderings had brought her back to Italy, Ceres came
to the bank of the Cyane River, and there, glittering at her feet, was
the girdle which she had watched her daughter put on the last day she
saw her. Torn between hope and fear, Ceres snatched it up. Had
Proserpina, then, been drowned in this raging river? At any rate, it was
much, after all these months, to find something which her dear daughter
had touched, and with renewed energy she started on. As she rested, late
in the day, by the side of a cool, sparkling fountain, she fancied she
heard words mingling with the splashing of the water. Holding her
breath, she listened:
"O Ceres," came the words, scarcely distinguishable, "I made a long
journey underground, to cool my waters ere they burst forth at this
point. As I passed through the lower world, I saw, seated beside Pluto
on his gloomy throne, a queen, crowned with stars and poppies. Strangely
like Proserpina she looked."
The words died away, and Ceres, knowing well that none but the king of
gods could help her now, hastened to Olympus and cast herself at the
feet of Jupiter.
"Listen, O father of gods and men," she said. "What is that sound which
you hear rising from the earth?"
"It sounds to me," replied Jupiter, "like the wailing of men, joined
with the bleating of sheep and the lowing of cattle. Who is afflicting
my people on earth?"
"It is I," replied Ceres sternly; "I, of old their best friend. Never
shall spear of grass or blade of corn show above the ground, never shall
blossom or fruit appear on any tree, until my beloved daughter is
brought back to me from the realm of Pluto."
Then indeed there was consternation on Olympus; for Jupiter did not wish
to anger his brother, and yet, how could he let the earth continue to be
barren? There was much consulting of the Fates, those three dread
sisters whose decrees even Jupiter could not break, and finally Jupiter
called Mercury to him, and said:
"Hasten to the lower world, and lead thence Proserpina, the daughter of
Ceres. Only, if during her stay there she have allowed food to pass her
lips, she shall not return."
Meanwhile, Proserpina had been dwelling in gloom. How could one whose
chief care had been the flowers, whose chief joy had been to stray
abroad in the sunshine with gay companions, be happy in a realm where
the sun never shone, where no flowers ever grew save the white, sleep-
bringing poppies, where she had no companions except the gloomy king of
the dead? Pluto was kind to her, he showered jewels upon her, and
gorgeous raiment; but what meant such things to her when she could not
delight with them the eyes of her mother and her friends? The dead over
whom she reigned she could not even make happy, and the only one who
seemed to have profited at all by her coming to Hades was Pluto, who was
of a certainty somewhat less stern and gloomy.
Of all the food that had been set before Proserpina since she entered
Hades, nothing had tempted her but a pomegranate, and of that she had
eaten but six seeds. This one taste of food, however, she soon had
reason to regret, for ere long Mercury, Jupiter's messenger, stood
before Pluto and cried with a flourish:
"Hear the decree of mighty Jupiter and of the Fates, powerful over all.
The Lady Proserpina shall return with me, the messenger of mighty
Jupiter, to the upper world. Only, if she have allowed food to pass her
lips, she shall not return, but shall remain queen of the dead forever."
Proserpina turned pale--paler than her months underground had made her--
but she said nothing. Then, from the throng of spirits who had crowded
round to see the messenger of the gods, stepped forth one, Ascalaphus.
No pity for the white-faced, sad-eyed queen moved him as he told how he
had seen Proserpina eat of the pomegranate. Poor Proserpina felt that
she would never see her beloved mother again, and was overwhelmed with
grief when the messenger of the gods, the first cheerful personage she
had seen since leaving earth, turned to depart.
Mercury was a kindly god, and he described to his father and the Fates
most touchingly the grief of Proserpina. Ceres joined her tears with
those of her daughter, and the Fates finally decreed that while
Proserpina must spend underground one month of every year for each
pomegranate seed she had eaten, she might spend the rest of her time on
earth. Back hastened Mercury with the new decree, and Pluto unwillingly
let his wife go. She bade him an almost affectionate farewell, for after
all, he had been good to her, and she might quite have loved him had his
abode been a less gloomy place. Up the dark and dangerous passages to
earth Mercury conducted her, and it was strange to see how, as she
stepped forth into the sunshine, her pallor and her sadness left her,
and she became the bright-eyed, happy Proserpina of old. And not only in
her did the change appear. About her, on all sides, the grass and corn
came shooting through the dry brown earth. Violets, hyacinths, daisies
were everywhere, and Proserpina stooped and caressed them, with a gay
laugh. But what was her joy when she saw at the door of her home Mother
Ceres, with arms outstretched to greet her! Not even the thought of the
separation which must surely come again could sadden their meeting. For
that day they sat together and talked of all that had happened in the
weary months gone by; but the next morning Ceres mounted her dragon-car
for the first time in many, many days, and set forth to the fields to
tend the new grain, while Proserpina ran to the seashore and with a
happy shout called the nymphs, her old companions, from their seaweed
Each year thereafter, when Proserpina was led by Mercury to Pluto's
kingdom, Ceres, in grief and anger, shut herself up and would not attend
to her duties, so that the earth was barren and drear. Each year, with
the return of Proserpina, the flash of green ran across the fields and
announced her coming before she appeared in sight. And all the people,
weary and depressed after the hard, bitter months, joyed with Ceres at
her daughter's approach, and cried with her, "She comes! She comes!
This story, like that of Phaethon, is a nature myth; that is, it
accounts for natural phenomena which the Greeks saw about them. As they
conceived of Ceres, the earth goddess, as the kindest of the immortals,
and of her daughter, Proserpina, the goddess of flowers and beautifying
vegetation, as always young and happy, they found it hard to explain the
barrenness of the winter months. Why should Ceres and Proserpina neglect
the earth during a part of the year, so that it would bring forth
nothing, no matter how much care was bestowed upon it?
We must remember that the people who invented these stories really
believed that the earth produced grain and fruit because some goddess
bestowed upon it her care. They even fancied, sometimes, as they entered
their fields, that they saw Ceres, with her dragon-car and her crown of
wheat ears, vanishing before them. And they did not say, during winter
months, "The ground is hard and frozen, and thus cannot give food to the
plants;" or, "The seed must lie underground for a time before it can
send its roots down and its leaves up, and bring forth fruit." They
said, "Mother Ceres is neglecting the earth."
What more natural, then, than that they should imagine that the earth
goddess was mourning for the loss of something and refusing to attend to
her duties? And since the flowers, the special care of Ceres's daughter,
disappeared at the same time, it seemed most likely that it was this
daughter who had disappeared, stolen and held captive underground. When,
each year, the time of her captivity was at an end, Ceres went joyfully
back to her work, the flowers and grass once more appeared--in a word,
it was spring.
Looked at in a slightly different way, Proserpina represented the seed
which is placed underground. For a time it is held there, apparently
gone forever; but at last it appears above the earth in fresher,
brighter guise, just as the daughter of Ceres reappeared.
It is held by some that this myth is a symbol or allegory of the death
of man and his ultimate resurrection. That, however, does not seem
extremely likely, as the ancients, although they believed in the life of
the soul after death, conceived of that life as something far from
pleasant, even for those who had led good lives.
The story of Proserpina has been used as a subject for many paintings.
One of the best-known of these is Rosetti's "Persephone," which shows
her as she stands, sad-eyed, with the bitten fruit in her hand.
ORIGIN OF THE OPAL
A dewdrop came, with a spark of flame
He had caught from the sun's last ray,
To a violet's breast, where he lay at rest
Till the hours brought back the day.
The rose looked down, with a blush and frown;
But she smiled all at once, to view
Her own bright form, with its coloring warm,
Reflected back by the dew.
Then the stranger took a stolen look
At the sky, so soft and blue;
And a leaflet green, with its silver sheen,
Was seen by the idler too.
A cold north wind, as he thus reclined,
Of a sudden raged around;
And a maiden fair, who was walking there,
Next morning, an OPAL found.
IN TIME'S SWING
By Lucy Larcom
Father Time, your footsteps go
Lightly as the falling snow.
In your swing I'm sitting, see!
Push me softly; one, two, three,
Twelve times only. Like a sheet,
Spread the snow beneath my feet.
Singing merrily, let me swing
Out of winter into spring.
Swing me out, and swing me in!
Trees are bare, but birds begin
Twittering to the peeping leaves,
On the bough beneath the eaves
Wait,--one lilac bud I saw.
Icy hillsides feel the thaw;
April chased off March to-day;
Now I catch a glimpse of May.
Oh, the smell of sprouting grass!
In a blur the violets pass.
Whispering from the wildwood come
Mayflower's breath and insect's hum.
Roses carpeting the ground;
Thrushes, orioles, warbling sound:
Swing me low, and swing me high,
To the warm clouds of July.
Slower now, for at my side
White pond lilies open wide.
Underneath the pine's tall spire
Cardinal blossoms burn like fire.
They are gone; the golden-rod
Flashes from the dark green sod.
Crickets in the grass I hear;
Asters light the fading year.
[Illustration: Father Time pushes the swing]
Slower still! October weaves
Rainbows of the forest leaves.
Gentians fringed, like eyes of blue,
Glimmer out of sleety dew.
Meadow-green I sadly miss:
Winds through withered sedges hiss.
Oh, 'tis snowing, swing me fast,
While December shivers past!
Frosty-bearded Father Time,
Stop your footfall on the rime!
Hard you push, your hand is rough;
You have swung me long enough.
"Nay, no stopping," say you? Well,
Some of your best stories tell,
While you swing me--gently, do!--
From the Old Year to the New.
The title tells you that this poem is not about a real swing, under an
apple tree. Why is Time asked to push "twelve times only"? What month is
it when the swinging begins? How many times does the swing move in the
first stanza? How many times in the second? Do the birds begin to
twitter while the trees are still bare? Should we expect to see lilac
buds in February or March?
Do you know the "smell of sprouting grass"? Do the violets pass in May?
Does it seem to you that the author has chosen the right flowers and
birds to represent each month? Do the pond lilies, the cardinal
blossoms, the golden-rod, the asters, and the gentians follow each other
in that order?
If you are familiar with the flowers mentioned, you will know that they
almost all grow in damp, marshy places. Where do sedges grow? Does it
not seem to you that the illustrations are particularly well chosen?
There is a series of beautiful little pictures in the words, "underneath
the pine's tall spire cardinal blossoms burn like fire"; "the golden-rod
flashes from the dark green sod"; "asters light the fading year";
"gentians fringed ...glimmer out of sleety dew."
WHY THE SEA IS SALT
By Mary Howitt
There were, in very ancient times, two brothers, one of whom was rich,