The king of the golden mountain


O rei da Montanha Dourada

There was a certain merchant who had two children, a boy and a girl; they were both young, and could not walk. And two richly-laden ships of his sailed forth to sea with all his property on board, and just as he was expecting to win much money by them, news came that they had gone to the bottom, and now instead of being a rich man he was a poor one, and had nothing left but one field outside the town. In order to drive his misfortune a little out of his thoughts, he went out to this field, and as he was walking forwards and backwards in it, a little black mannikin stood suddenly by his side, and asked why he was so sad, and what he was taking so much to heart. Then said the merchant, "If thou couldst help me I would willingly tell thee." - "Who knows?" replied the black dwarf. "Perhaps, I can help thee." Then the merchant told him that all he possessed had gone to the bottom of the sea, and that he had nothing left but this field. "Do not trouble thyself," said the dwarf. "If thou wilt promise to give me the first thing that rubs itself against thy leg when thou art at home again, and to bring it here to this place in twelve years' time, thou shalt have as much money as thou wilt." The merchant thought, "What can that be but my dog?" and did not remember his little boy, so he said yes, gave the black man a written and sealed promise, and went home.

When he reached home, his little boy was so delighted that he held by a bench, tottered up to him and seized him fast by the legs. The father was shocked, for he remembered his promise, and now knew what he had pledged himself to do; as however, he still found no money in his chest, he thought the dwarf had only been jesting. A month afterwards he went up to the garret, intending to gather together some old tin and to sell it, and saw a great heap of money lying. Then he was happy again, made purchases, became a greater merchant than before, and felt that this world was well-governed. In the meantime the boy grew tall, and at the same time sharp and clever. But the nearer the twelfth year approached the more anxious grew the merchant, so that his distress might be seen in his face. One day his son asked what ailed him, but the father would not say. The boy, however, persisted so long, that at last he told him that without being aware of what he was doing, he had promised him to a black dwarf, and had received much money for doing so. He said likewise that he had set his hand and seal to this, and that now when twelve years had gone by he would have to give him up. Then said the son, "Oh, father, do not be uneasy, all will go well. The black man has no power over me." The son had himself blessed by the priest, and when the time came, father and son went together to the field, and the son made a circle and placed himself inside it with his father. Then came the black dwarf and said to the old man, "Hast thou brought with thee that which thou hast promised me?" He was silent, but the son asked, "What dost thou want here?" Then said the black dwarf, "I have to speak with thy father, and not with thee." The son replied, "Thou hast betrayed and misled my father, give back the writing." - "No," said the black dwarf, "I will not give up my rights." They spoke together for a long time after this, but at last they agreed that the son, as he did not belong to the enemy of mankind, nor yet to his father, should seat himself in a small boat, which should lie on water which was flowing away from them, and that the father should push it off with his own foot, and then the son should remain given up to the water. So he took leave of his father, placed himself in a little boat, and the father had to push it off with his own foot. The boat capsized so that the keel was uppermost, and the father believed his son was lost, and went home and mourned for him.

The boat, however, did not sink, but floated quietly away, and the boy sat safely inside it, and it floated thus for a long time, until at last it stopped by an unknown shore. Then he landed and saw a beautiful castle before him, and set out to go to it. But when he entered it, he found that it was bewitched. He went through every room, but all were empty until he reached the last, where a snake lay coiled in a ring. The snake, however, was an enchanted maiden, who rejoiced to see him, and said, "Hast thou come, oh, my deliverer? I have already waited twelve years for thee; this kingdom is bewitched, and thou must set it free." - "How can I do that?" he inquired. "To-night come twelve black men, covered with chains who will ask what thou art doing here; keep silent; give them no answer, and let them do what they will with thee; they will torment thee, beat thee, stab thee; let everything pass, only do not speak; at twelve o'clock, they must go away again. On the second night twelve others will come; on the third, four-and-twenty, who will cut off thy head, but at twelve o'clock their power will be over, and then if thou hast endured all, and hast not spoken the slightest word, I shall be released. I will come to thee, and will have, in a bottle, some of the water of life. I will rub thee with that, and then thou wilt come to life again, and be as healthy as before." Then said he, "I will gladly set thee free." And everything happened just as she had said; the black men could not force a single word from him, and on the third night the snake became a beautiful princess, who came with the water of life and brought him back to life again. So she threw herself into his arms and kissed him, and there was joy and gladness in the whole castle. After this their marriage was celebrated, and he was King of the Golden Mountain.

They lived very happily together, and the Queen bore a fine boy. Eight years had already gone by, when the King bethought him of his father; his heart was moved, and he wished to visit him. The Queen, however, would not let him go away, and said, "I know beforehand that it will cause my unhappiness;" but he suffered her to have no rest until she consented. At their parting she gave him a wishing-ring, and said, "Take this ring and put it on thy finger, and then thou wilt immediately be transported whithersoever thou wouldst be, only thou must promise me not to use it in wishing me away from this place and with thy father." That he promised her, put the ring on his finger, and wished himself at home, just outside the town where his father lived. Instantly he found himself there, and made for the town, but when he came to the gate, the sentries would not let him in, because he wore such strange and yet such rich and magnificent clothing. Then he went to a hill where a shepherd was watching his sheep, changed clothes with him, put on his old shepherd's-coat, and then entered the town without hindrance. When he came to his father, he made himself known to him, but he did not at all believe that the shepherd was his son, and said he certainly had had a son, but that he was dead long ago; however, as he saw he was a poor, needy shepherd, he would give him something to eat. Then the shepherd said to his parents, "I am verily your son. Do you know of no mark on my body by which you could recognize me?" - "Yes," said his mother, "our son had a raspberry mark under his right arm." He slipped back his shirt, and they saw the raspberry under his right arm, and no longer doubted that he was their son. Then he told them that he was King of the Golden Mountain, and a king's daughter was his wife, and that they had a fine son of seven years old. Then said the father, "That is certainly not true; it is a fine kind of a king who goes about in a ragged shepherd's-coat." On this the son fell in a passion, and without thinking of his promise, turned his ring round, and wished both his wife and child with him. They were there in a second, but the Queen wept, and reproached him, and said that he had broken his word, and had brought misfortune upon her. He said, "I have done it thoughtlessly, and not with evil intention," and tried to calm her, and she pretended to believe this; but she had mischief in her mind.

Then he led her out of the town into the field, and showed her the stream where the little boat had been pushed off, and then he said, "I am tired; sit down, I will sleep awhile on thy lap." And he laid his head on her lap, and fell asleep. When he was asleep, she first drew the ring from his finger, then she drew away the foot which was under him, leaving only the slipper behind her, and she took her child in her arms, and wished herself back in her own kingdom. When he awoke, there he lay quite deserted, and his wife and child were gone, and so was the ring from his finger, the slipper only was still there as a token. "Home to thy parents thou canst not return," thought he, "they would say that thou wast a wizard; thou must be off, and walk on until thou arrivest in thine own kingdom." So he went away and came at length to a hill by which three giants were standing, disputing with each other because they did not know how to divide their father's property. When they saw him passing by, they called to him and said little men had quick wits, and that he was to divide their inheritance for them. The inheritance, however, consisted of a sword, which had this prperty that if any one took it in his hand, and said, "All heads off but mine," every head would lie on the ground; secondly, of a cloak which made any one who put it on invisible; thirdly, of a pair of boots which could transport the wearer to any place he wished in a moment. He said, "Give me the three things that I may see if they are still in good condition." They gave him the cloak, and when he had put it on, he was invisible and changed into a fly. Then he resumed his own form and said, "The cloak is a good one, now give me the sword." They said, "No, we will not give thee that; if thou were to say, All heads off but mine,' all our heads would be off, and thou alone wouldst be left with thine." Nevertheless they gave it to him with the condition that he was only to try it against a tree. This he did, and the sword cut in two the trunk of a tree as if it had been a blade of straw. Then he wanted to have the boots likewise, but they said, "No, we will not give them; if thou hadst them on thy feet and wert to wish thyself at the top of the hill, we should be left down here with nothing." - "Oh, no," said he, "I will not do that." So they gave him the boots as well. And now when he had got all these things, he thought of nothing but his wife and his child, and said as though to himself, "Oh, if I were but on the Golden Mountain," and at the same moment he vanished from the sight of the giants, and thus their inheritance was divided. When he was near his palace, he heard sounds of joy, and fiddles, and flutes, and the people told him that his wife was celebrating her wedding with another. Then he fell into a rage, and said, "False woman, she betrayed and deserted me whilst I was asleep!" So he put on his cloak, and unseen by all went into the palace. When he entered the dining-hall a great table was spread with delicious food, and the guests were eating and drinking, and laughing, and jesting. She sat on a royal seat in the midst of them in splendid apparel, with a crown on her head. He placed himself behind her, and no one saw him. When she put a piece of meat on a plate for herself, he took it away and ate it, and when she poured out a glass of wine for herself, he took it away and drank it. She was always helping herself to something, and yet she never got anything, for plate and glass disappeared immediately. Then dismayed and ashamed, she arose and went to her chamber and wept, but he followed her there. She said, "Has the devil power over me, or did my deliverer never come?" Then he struck her in the face, and said, "Did thy deliverer never come? It is he who has thee in his power, thou traitor. Have I deserved this from thee?" Then he made himself visible, went into the hall, and cried, "The wedding is at an end, the true King has returned." The kings, princes, and councillors who were assembled there, ridiculed and mocked him, but he did not trouble to answer them, and said, "Will you go away, or not?" On this they tried to seize him and pressed upon him, but he drew his sword and said, "All heads off but mine," and all the heads rolled on the ground, and he alone was master, and once more King of the Golden Mountain.
Um certo mercador tinha dois filhos, um menino e uma menina, ambos muito novos, que ainda não sabiam andar. Ele possuía dois navios ricamente carregados viajando pelos mares onde embarcara toda sua riqueza na esperança de conseguir grandes lucros, quando chegaram notícias de que sua fortuna tinha desaparecido. Assim, de homem rico que era, tornou-se muito pobre, tão pobre que só lhe restara um pedacinho de terra. Para aliviar um pouco as preocupações de sua cabeça, costumava caminhar por ali.
Certo dia em que estava perambulando em seu terreno, um anãozinho de cara enrugada apareceu à sua frente perguntando por que estava tão triste e o que confrangia tão profundamente seu coração. Mas o mercador replicou, "Se me pudesse fazer algum bem eu lhe contaria." - "Quem sabe se não posso?," disse o homenzinho. "Conte-me qual é o caso e talvez eu possa servir para alguma coisa." O mercador contou-lhe então como toda sua riqueza havia ido para o fundo do mar e como ele nada possuía exceto aquele pedacinho de chão. "Oh! Não se preocupe com isto," disse o anão, "apenas prometa trazer-me, daqui a doze anos, aquilo que primeiro vier ao seu encontro quando voltar para casa e eu lhe darei todo ouro que quiser."
O mercador pensou que não era uma exigência muito grande, que muito provavelmente encontraria primeiro seu cão ou algo do gênero, mas esqueceu-se de seus filhinhos, por isso aceitou a barganha e assinou e selou o compromisso de cumprir a promessa. Ao se aproximar de casa, porém, seu garotinho ficou tão contente ao vê-lo, que engatinhou atrás dele e agarrou-se a suas pernas. O pai teve um sobressalto, pensando no pacto que havia feito, mas como não apareceu ouro algum, consolou-se pensando que tudo não passara de uma brincadeira do anão.
Cerca de um mês mais tarde, ele subiu as escadas de um velho depósito de lenha à procura de algum ferro velho para vender e levantar algum dinheiro, e ali encontrou uma grande pilha de ouro sobre o chão. À vista disto, ficou muito satisfeito, voltou aos negócios e tornou-se um grande mercador como antes.
Entretanto, seu filho ia crescendo, e com a aproximação do término do prazo de doze anos, o mercador foi ficando tão aflito e pensativo que sua tristeza e seus cuidados se estampavam em seu rosto. O filho perguntou-lhe certo dia o que estava acontecendo, mas o pai recusou-se a contar; mas, passado algum tempo, acabou contando que, sem o saber, vendera-o a um anãozinho de aparência repelente por uma grande quantia de ouro; e que estava se aproximando o término dos doze anos, ao fim dos quais teria que cumprir o acordo. Então o filho disse, "Pai, não se preocupe muito com isso; pode contar que eu darei um jeito no homenzinho."
Quando chegou o momento, eles foram juntos até o lugar indicado e o filho riscou um círculo no chão e colocou-se junto com o pai em seu interior. O anãozinho logo apareceu e disse ao mercador, "Trouxe o prometido?" O velho ficou em silêncio, mas seu filho respondeu, "O que você quer aqui?" O anão respondeu, "Vim falar com seu pai, não com você." - "Você enganou e traiu meu pai," disse o filho. "Liberte-o de seu compromisso." - "Não," replicou o outro, "não abrirei mão de meus direitos."
Isto provocou uma longa discussão ao fim da qual todos concordaram em que o filho seria colocado num bote que ficava ao lado de um rio não muito distante, e que o pai deveria empurrá-lo com a própria mão para que ele fosse deixado à deriva. O filho despediu-se então do pai e acomodou-se no barco; e quando este foi empurrado, adernou e caiu de lado na água, fazendo o mercador pensar que o filho houvesse morrido. O pai voltou para casa profundamente entristecido.
Mas o barco não havia afundado e seguira navegando, e o rapaz ficou sentado dentro dele até encalhar numa terra desconhecida. Quando saltou na praia, viu à sua frente um lindo castelo cujo interior estava vazio e desolado por estar encantado. Andando pelo castelo, acabou encontrando uma serpente branca num dos quartos. Ora, a serpente branca era uma princesa encantada que se alegrou enormemente ao vê-lo e disse, "Vieste finalmente me libertar? Esperei doze longos anos por ti, pois somente tu podes me salvar. Esta noite, doze homens virão; suas faces serão pretas e eles estarão encadeados em correntes. Eles perguntarão a ti o que fazes aqui, mas fica em silêncio, não responde e deixa que façam o que quiserem - bater-te e torturar-te. Suporta tudo, só não fala nenhuma palavra e à meia-noite eles partirão. Na segunda noite, outros doze virão; e na terceira noite, serão vinte e quatro que irão até mesmo cortar tua cabeça. Mas às doze horas daquela noite, seu poder desaparecerá, e eu estarei livre e virei te trazer a água da vida, e com ela te lavarei e restaurarei tua vida e saúde."
Tudo se passou como a princesa encantada havia dito; o filho do mercador não falou uma palavra e, na terceira noite, a princesa apareceu e caiu em seu pescoço e o beijou; alegria e satisfação explodiram por todo o castelo; as bodas foram celebradas e ele se tomou o rei da Montanha Dourada.
Eles viveram juntos muito felizes e a rainha teve um filho. Oito anos haviam se passado quando o rei lembrou-se de seu pai: seu coração se comoveu e ele ficou ansioso para revê-lo. A rainha se opunha a sua ida dizendo, "Sei perfeitamente os infortúnios que virão." Ele não lhe deu descanso, porém, até ela consentir. Quando ia partir, ela o presenteou com um anel mágico dizendo, "Leva este anel e coloca-o no dedo; tudo que desejares, ele realizará: somente prometa que não o usarás para levar-me daqui até a morada de teu pai." Ele prometeu o que ela pedia, colocou o anel no dedo e desejou estar perto da cidade onde seu pai morava. Achou-se num instante diante dos seus portões, mas os guardas não quiseram deixá-lo entrar por estar vestido tão estranhamento. Ele foi então a uma montanha vizinha onde morava um pastor, tomou emprestado seu velho manto e assim entrou disfarçadamente na cidade. Quando chegou à casa do pai, contou-lhe que era seu filho, mas o mercador não quis acreditar, dizendo-lhe que havia tido apenas um filho que morrera havia muito tempo, e como ele estivesse vestido como um pobre pastor, nem mesmo lhe ofereceria alguma coisa de comer. O rei insistiu porém em que era seu filho dizendo, "Existe alguma marca pela qual saberias que sou realmente teu filho?" - "Sim," observou a mãe, "nosso filho tinha um sinal na forma de uma framboesa debaixo do braço direito." Ele mostrou-lhes então a marca e eles ficaram satisfeitos por ser verdade o que havia dito. Em seguida ele lhes contou como era rei da Montanha Dourada, e que estava casado com uma princesa, e que tinha um filho de sete anos. Mas o mercador disse, "Isto jamais podería ser verdade; que rei é esse que viaja usando um manto de pastor?" Isto deixou o filho muito irritado e, esquecendo sua promessa, virou o anel e desejou a presença de sua rainha e do filho. Num instante eles estavam diante dele, mas a rainha chorava dizendo que ele havia quebrado a palavra e que uma desgraça aconteceria. Ele fez o que pôde para tranqüilizá-la e ela finalmente pareceu se acalmar; mas não estava realmente calma, apenas meditava como podería vingar-se.
Certo dia, ele levou-a para passear fora da cidade para mostrar-lhe o lugar onde seu barco fora colocado à deriva sobre as águas. Ali ele sentou-se dizendo, "Estou muito cansado; senta-te ao meu lado para eu recostar a cabeça em teu colo e dormir um pouco." Mal ele adormecera, porém, ela tirou o anel de seu dedo, afastou-se cuidadosamente e desejou que ela e o filho estivessem cm casa, em seu reino. Quando o rei acordou, achou-se sozinho e percebeu que o anel já não estava em seu dedo. "Jamais poderei retornar à casa de meu pai," disse ele, "diriam que sou um feiticeiro. Viajarei pelo mundo até chegar novamente a meu reino."
Assim dizendo, partiu e viajou até chegar a uma montanha onde três gigantes estavam dividindo sua herança; e quando eles o viram, gritaram dizendo, "Os homenzinhos são muito espertos; ele vai dividir a herança entre nós." Ora, esta consistia de uma espada que cortava a cabeça de um inimigo sempre que seu portador dissesse as palavras "Fora cabeças!"; um manto que tornava seu proprietário invisível ou lhe dava qualquer forma que desejasse; e um par de botas que transportava a pessoa que as calçasse para onde ela quisesse ir. O rei lhes disse que primeiro teriam que deixá-lo experimentar esses objetos maravilhosos para conhecer seu valor. Eles lhe entregaram então o manto. Ele desejou ser uma mosca e num instante se transformou numa mosca. "O manto está perfeito," disse ele, "agora entreguem-me a espada." - "Não," disseram eles, "não, a menos que prometa não dizer 'Fora cabeças!' pois se fizer isto, morreremos todos." Assim eles a entregaram com a condição de ele experimentar seu poder apenas numa árvore. Em seguida ele pediu também as botas e no momento em que se viu em posse dos três objetos, desejou estar na Montanha Dourada e ali estava ele no mesmo instante. E os gigantes foram deixados para trás sem herança para dividir ou disputar.
Ao se aproximar do castelo, ouviu um som alegre de música e as pessoas em volta lhe disseram que a rainha estava prestes a celebrar seu casamento com outro príncipe. Ele vestiu então o manto, entrou no castelo e colocou-se ao lado de sua rainha onde ninguém o via. Mas quando todas as comidas foram servidas no prato da rainha, ele as pegou e comeu; quando a taça de vinho foi entregue a ela, ele a pegou e bebeu; assim, embora continuassem servindo comida e bebida a ela, seu prato continuava sempre vazio.
Diante disso, tomada de medo e remorso, ela foi para seu quarto e pôs-se a chorar. Ele a seguiu até lá. "Ai de mim!," lamentava-se ela. "Não terá chegado o meu libertador? Por que então o feitiço ainda me cerca?." - "Sua traidora!," exclamou ele. "Teu libertador já veio, de fato, e agora está perto de ti: terá ele merecido isto?" E ele saiu dali e dispensou todo mundo dizendo que o casamento estava desfeito porque havia retomado a seu reino: mas a princesa, os nobres e conselheiros zombaram dele. Ele se desentendeu então com todos, exigindo que partissem, por bem ou por mal. Tentaram agarrá-lo, mas ele sacou a espada e, com uma palavra, as cabeças dos traidores rolaram a seus pés. E foi assim que voltou a ser o rei da Montanha Dourada.

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