THE KING OF THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN
CERTAIN merchant sent two richly laden ships on a
voyage. He invested all his property in them, and he
hoped to make great gains; but the ships were wrecked,
and the merchant was reduced from wealth to poverty and
had to live in a poor little cottage.
One day, as he was walking along by the seashore
thinking sadly of his future, a rough-looking dwarf
stood before him and asked why he was so sorrowful.
"I would tell you," said the merchant, "if it would do
"Who knows but that it may?" said the little man."Tell
me your troubles and perhaps I can be of some service."
Then the merchant related how all his wealth had gone
to the bottom of the sea.
"Oh, well, don't mourn any longer about that," said the
dwarf."Only promise that twelve years
 hence you
will bring to me here whatever meets
you first on your return home, and I will see that you
shall never want for gold."
The merchant promised and thought he had the best of
the bargain; but when he approached his home, who
should come running to meet him, but his little boy.
The merchant was greatly distressed to think that he
had bound himself to give his boy to the dwarf." Very
likely, though, the dwarf was only joking," said he; "
for I see no sign of that gold he told me I was to
A few days afterward the merchant was cleaning out an
old lumber-room, and under a heap of rubbish in a.
corner he found a box full of gold pieces. Then he was
fearful that the dwarf was in earnest. However, there
was the gold, and what was he to do with it? He
concluded to go into business once more, and he was not
long in becoming richer than he had been before.
Time went on, and the son grew up and the end of the
twelve years drew near. The merchant was very anxious
now, and one day he told his son about his promise to
"Well," said the son, "I would not worry;
perhaps things may not turn out as badly as you
 When the appointed date came they went together
to the sea-shore, and there they found the little
dwarf. The merchant begged the dwarf not to insist on
taking his son from him, and they argued for a long
time. At last the dwarf said, "I will yield up my
rights on one condition, which is that your son shall
get into an open boat and be set adrift on the sea
without sail or oars."
"Oh, cruel dwarf!" said the merchant."If I must choose
between the sea and you I choose the sea.
Then the dwarf led the way to a boat that was drawn up
on the beach near where they had been talking. They
dragged the boat to the water, the son got in, and the
dwarf pushed it off.
The merchant hoped his son would drift to shore, but
the wind and currents carried the little boat farther
and farther away until he could see it no longer. Then
he hoped his son would be rescued by some vessel, but
the weeks and months slipped away without his hearing
anything from him, and finally he gave his son up for
However, the young man was not drowned in the sea as
his father thought. He sat securely in the little boat,
and it rocked along over the waves until it was wafted
to the shores of a country the
 merchant's son had
never before seen. Not far from where he came to land
was a lofty mountain, and the color of the mountain was
yellow, like gold, and on its summit was a beautiful
So the merchant's son walked away from the sea and
climbed the golden mountain; but when he reached the
castle he discovered that it was empty and desolate,
for it was enchanted. He went all through the great
building and saw not a living thing till he entered one
of the chambers where he found a white snake; and this
white snake spoke to him.
"Oh, how glad I am to see you!" it said."I am not
really a snake. A wicked dwarf has enchanted me. I am
the Queen of the Golden Mountain. Twelve long years
have I waited for a deliverer."
"If you will tell me in what way I can be of service to
you," said the merchant's son, "I will do anything I
can to disenchant you."
"Then listen to me," said the queen."This night twelve
black men will come and they will ask you why you are
here; but be silent. Give them no answer. Let them do
what they will, even if they beat and torment you.
Speak not a word, or you cannot save me. At twelve
o'clock they will
 go. The second night twelve
other black men will come, and they will do as did the
first twelve. The third night twelve more black men
will come and they will try their worst to make you
speak; but if you withstand them till the twelfth hour
of that night I shall be free."
"Have no fear," replied the young man; "your wishes
shall be obeyed."
Everything came to pass as the queen had said, and the
merchant's son was threatened and beaten and tormented.
Yet he spoke not a word, and at twelve o'clock on the
third night the black men hastened away howling with
rage and disappointment. Then the white snake became a
beautiful young queen. The castle, too, was
disenchanted and was all that the home of a queen
should be; and the merchant's son fell in love with the
queen, and she fell in love with him. So it was not
long before a wedding was celebrated in the castle, and
the merchant's son became the King of the Golden
Eight years passed, and then the king said, "I must go
to visit my father. In all the years I have been here
he has had no word from me, and he must think I am
"No, no," said the queen, "do not go."
 But the king grew more and more anxious to return
to his father, and at last the queen consented. When he
was about to start she gave him a wishing-ring,
and said, "Take this ring and put it on your
finger. You have but to turn it around when you wish
and whatever you wish for will be granted. Only promise
that you will not make use of it to bring me hence to
He promised what she asked and put the ring on his
finger. Then he wished himself near the town where his
father lived. A moment later he found himself at the
town gates; but the clothes he wore were so different
from those worn by the people of that region that the
town guards were suspicious and would not let him in.
So he walked off across the fields trying to think what
he would do next.
Presently he came to a shepherd's hut. "I will make an
exchange of clothes here," said he, and he sought out
the shepherd and offered him a golden guinea for some
of his old garments.
The shepherd was very glad to part with them at that
price, and when the king put them on and left his own
fine apparel behind, the shepherd could only think that
the poor man had lost his wits.
 The king now went back to the town, and, in his
shepherd's garb, the guards supposed him to be a
peasant and let him pass without question. He hastened
to his father's house, and told the merchant that he
was his son.
"But my son is dead, long since," said the merchant;
and he would not believe it possible that this ragged
fellow was his son, whom he had seen disappear eight
years previous in the little boat.
"Is there no mark by which you would know if I am
really your son?" the king asked at length.
"Yes," replied the merchant, "my son had a mark like a
raspberry on the under side of his right arm, just
above the elbow."
Then the king pulled up the sleeve on his right arm and
showed the mark, and the merchant was satisfied that
the young man was his son, and he listened with wonder
while the son related how he had married a queen and
was King of the Golden Mountain.
"What!" cried the merchant, "you tell me you are a
king? That cannot be true, else you would not be
travelling about in a shepherd's frock."
The son was very much troubled when his father did not
believe him." I will prove to you that I speak the
truth," said he, and forgetting his promise
his queen he turned his ring and wished to have her
there with him.
Instantly she stood before him in her royal robes, and
the merchant could not doubt longer that his son was
King of the Golden Mountain as he had said. But the
queen wept because the king had broken his word. She
stopped crying presently, yet she did not forget his
broken promise, and that night while he was asleep she
drew the ring from his finger and wished herself at
home in her kingdom. When the king awoke he was alone,
and the ring was gone from his finger. He was very
sorrowful then, and he said, "I will journey forth into
the world and perhaps I can find my kingdom again."
So saying, he set out and travelled for many days. At
last he came near to a hill on the top of which he
heard loud and angry voices." I must find out what is
going on here," said the king, and he climbed the hill
and crept along till he was near enough to see that two
giants were disputing over the possession of a cloak
and a pair of boots.
He listened and learned that the cloak made its wearer
invisible, and that the boots carried the person who
put them on wherever he wished to
began a desperate struggle, when one of them said, "Why
should we kill each other?
Let us bury the things that make the trouble between us
right here and have no more to do with them."
"Yes," said the other, "let us bury them."
So they scraped a hole in the dirt, threw in the cloak
and boots, covered them up and went off.
 Then the king ran to the spot where the cloak and
boots were buried and dug them up, and when he had
shaken the dirt out of them he put them on. They fitted
perfectly, for they were magic garments that increased
or decreased in size to suit the stature of the
wearer."Now," said he, "I wish I was back at the Golden
He was there at once; but no one knew he had come
because the cloak he had on made him invisible. He
found the queen very melancholy on account of her long
separation from him."I would wish him back," said she,
looking at the ring on her finger, "if he had not
broken his promise."
This she said again and again, and at length the tears
gathered in her eyes and she said, "I cannot bear to
have him away any longer," and she turned the ring and
said, "I wish he was here."
But the king was already there, only she could not see
him. She looked about disappointed." Can it be that the
magic is gone from my ring?" she exclaimed." I will try
She turned the ring once more and this time she said, "
I wish to be carried to the king."
As the king was in the same room there was nothing for
the ring to do, and she remained just where she was.
Then the king took pity on her
 and threw off the
cloak he was wearing, and the queen saw him and they
ran to each other's arms. The king was happy and the
queen was happy, and they lived happily together on the
Golden Mountain ever after.
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