Arms and Badges - Your Source for Family Coats of Arms and Heraldic Family Badges

The King of the Golden Mountain

A certain merchant had two children, a boy and a girl, who at the time our tale begins, were both so little that they could not run alone. This merchant had just sent away two richly-laden vessels in which he had embarked all his property, and, while he hoped to gain much money by their voyage, the news came that both ships had sunk to the bottom of the sea. Thus instead of a rich merchant, he became a poor man, and he had nothing left but a field near the town where he dwelt, and therein, to divert his thoughts for a while from his loss, he went to walk. While he paced to and fro there suddenly appeared a little black Dwarf, who asked him the reason of his sorrowful looks, and what he took so much to heart.

“If you are able to help me,” said the merchant, “I will tell you.”

“Who knows,” replied the Dwarf, “whether I can or no?”

So then the Merchant told him what had happened; how all his wealth was sunk at the bottom of the sea, and nothing remained to him but this one field.

“Do not grieve yourself any longer,” said the Dwarf; “for, if you will promise to bring me here in twelve years, whatever first rubs itself against your leg on your return home, you shall have all the money you can require.” The Merchant thought it would be his dog who would meet him first, for he remembered not, just then, his children, so he gave the little black Man his word and honor to the bargain, and returned to his home.

Just as he came within sight of the house, his little Boy saw him, and was so glad that he waddled up to him and clasped him by the knees. The Father was frightened, for his promise occurred to him, and he knew now what he had sworn to; but still, as he found no money in his coffers, he imagined it was only a joke on the part of the Dwarf. A month afterwards, however, he went on his land to seek for anything he could find to sell, and there he saw a great heap of gold. Now was he again prosperous, and bought and sold and became a great merchant, as he had been before. Mean while his Boy grew up clever and sensible, and the nearer he came to the age of twelve years, the sadder became his Father, till people could see the traces of his anguish in his countenance. One day the Son asked him what was amiss; the Father would not tell him at first, but at last he related how he had sold him without knowing it to a little black Dwarf for a heap of money, and how he had set his seal and name to the bargain, so that when twelve years had passed he must deliver him up. “My Father,” answered the Son, “do not be sorry about such a matter; all will yet go well, for the Dwarf can have no power over me.”

After this the Son caused himself to be blessed by a Priest, and, when the hour came, he and his Father went together to the field, and the Son drew a circle within which they both placed themselves.

Presently came the black Dwarf, and asked, “Have you brought with you what you promised?” The Father was silent; but the Son replied, “What do you want here?”

“I came to speak with your Father, and not with you,” said the Dwarf.

“You have deceived and betrayed my Father,” said the Son; “give up the paper you extorted from him.”

“No! I will not surrender my rights!” replied the Dwarf.

Then they consulted together for some time, and at last they agreed that the Son, because he would not obey the Dwarf and did not any longer belong to his Father, should place himself in an open boat which laid upon the waters, and then that his Father should give the vessel a push that it might float whither it would. The Son, therefore, took leave of his Father, and set himself in the boat, which the Father thereupon pushed off; but, unhappily, the boat turned bottom upwards with the force of the shock, and the Father was forced to return home with the belief that his Son was dead, which grieved him sorely.

But the boat did not entirely sink, but floated quietly away with the Youth clinging to it, till at length it touched on an unknown land and remained there. The youth then scrambled on shore, and saw just opposite, a fine castle, towards which he hurried. As soon as he entered he found that it was an enchanted palace, and he walked through all the rooms, and found them all empty, till he came to the last, in which he discovered a snake curling itself round and round. This Snake, however, was an enchanted Maiden, who was overjoyed to see the youth enter, and she said to him, “Are you come to deliver me? For twelve years have I waited for you, for this kingdom is enchanted, and you must free it from the spell.”

“How can I do that?” he asked.

“This night,” she replied, “twelve Black Dwarfs will come, laden with chains; and they will ask you what you do here; but, mind, give them no answer, and let them do what they will to you. They will torment you, beat and poke you about, but let all this happen without a word on your part and then for twelve years they must be off again. The second night twelve others will come, and the third night four-and-twenty, and these last will cut off your head; but at midnight their power passes away, and if you restrain yourself till then, and never speak a word, I am saved. Afterwards I will come to you with a flask which contains the water of life, and with this I will sprinkle you, that you shall regain your breath and be as healthy and well as before.”

“I will save you willingly,” he replied.

Now everything happened as the Snake said. The Black Dwarfs failed to compel him to speak, and the third night the Maiden became disenchanted, and came with the water of life, as she had said, to the youth, and restored him to life. Then the beautiful Princess fell around his neck and kissed him, and through all the castle there were joy and gladness. Soon their wedding was celebrated, and the Merchant’s Son became the King of the Golden Mountain.

The happy pair lived in great contentment, and in course of time, the Queen bore a son, and when eight years more had passed over their heads the King bethought himself of his Father, and his heart was so touched with the recollection that he wished to revisit him. The Queen would, not at first, hear about such a thing, but he talked of it so often that at length she was obliged to consent, and said, “I know the journey will cause misfortune to me.” At his departure she gave him a wishing-ring, and said, “Take this ring and wear it on your finger, and then wherever you wish to be there you will find yourself; but this you must promise me, that you will not wish me to leave here to visit your Father’s house.”

The King promised, and, putting the ring on his finger, he wished himself before the town where his father dwelt. At the same moment, he found himself there, and tried to go into the town, but as he came to the gate, the guards would not let him pass, because he wore clothes so peculiar, and so rich and magnificent. Thereupon he climbed up a hill where a shepherd was watching sheep, and with him, he changed clothes, and thus passed into the town unquestioned in the rough smock. When he came to his father’s house he was not recognized, and the merchant would not believe it was his son, but said he certainly once had a son, but that he had been dead some years. Still, because he saw he was a poor thirsty shepherd, he willingly gave him a plate of food. At last, the Youth asked his parents, “Do you know of any mark on my body whereby you will recognize me, for indeed I am your true son?”

“Yes,” said the Mother; “our son had a mole-spot under his arm.”

Instantly he drew his shirt back from his arm, and there they saw the mole-spot, so that they no longer doubted that he was their son. Then he told them that he was King of the Golden Mountain, and had a beautiful princess for his wife, and a child seven years old. But the merchant laughed at his son saying, “Never can this be true! Here is a fine King indeed, who comes here in a ragged shepherd’s smock!”

This made the son very angry; and, without consideration, he turned round his ring and wished both his child and wife were with him. In a moment, they appeared; but the Queen wept, and complained that he had broken his promise, and made her unlucky. The King told her he had done it without thought and with no bad intention; and she appeared to be reconciled, but, in reality, she had evil in her heart.

After a while, he took her to the field, out of the town, and showed her the water where his boat had been overturned, and there, feeling tired, he said to her, “I am weary; so rest yourself awhile, and I will lay my head in your lap and go to sleep.” He did so, and the Queen waited quietly till he was sound asleep, and then she drew the ring off his finger, and carefully laid his head on the ground. Thereupon she took her child in her arms, and wished herself back in her kingdom. When, then, the King awoke, he found himself all alone, his wife and child gone, and the ring from his finger too. “Home to your parents,” said he to himself, “you cannot go; they will say you are a magician; so you must travel about till you come again to your kingdom.” With these thoughts he raised his courage, and by and by came to a mountain, before which three Giants stood, and contended with each other, because they knew not how to share their paternal inheritance. As soon as they saw the young man passing by, they called to him and said, “Come! Little men have often wise heads; you shall divide our patrimony.”

Now, this inheritance consisted, firstly, of a sword, which if one took into his hand and said, “Heads off all round, but not mine!” instantly every head near lay on the ground; secondly, of a cloak which rendered its wearer invisible; and thirdly, of a pair of boots which were capable of taking their wearer wherever he wished. The youth therefore said, “Give me these three things, that I may prove them whether they are in good order or not.” So they gave him the cloak, and as soon as he put it on he became invisible, in the form of a fly. He soon took his old form again and said, “The cloak is good; now give me the sword.” “Oh, no!” said the Giants, “we do not give you that; for if you should say, ‘Heads off, all round, but not mine!’ all our heads would fall off, and you alone would have one.” Still they gave it him on condition that he should prove it on a tree. This he did, and the sword cut the trunk in two as if it were a straw. Then he wished to have the boots, but the Giants said, “No, we do not give them away; for if you should pull them on, and wish yourself on the summit of this mountain, we may stand here without anything!” But the youth said that he would not do that, and so they gave him the boots, and, as he had now all three things, he thought of nothing hut his wife and child; and he said, “Ah! were I upon the Golden Mountain!” Immediately he disappeared from the sight of the Giants, and thus divided their inheritance. As he came near his castle he heard great rejoicings, and the notes of flutes and fiddles, and the people told him that his consort was about to celebrate her wedding with another husband. This put him in a passion, and he exclaimed, “The false wretch! She has deceived and left me while I slept!” Then he put on the cloak and rendered himself invisible while he entered the castle, and in the hall he saw a large table spread out with costly delicacies, and guests eating and drinking, singing and laughing. In the middle sat the Queen, dressed in royal clothes, upon a magnificent throne, with a crown upon her head. The true King placed himself behind her; but nobody saw him; and when they placed meat upon her plate he took it up and ate it himself; and each glass of wine which was handed to her he drank out, and so it went on; neither plate nor glass staid in its place, each one disappeared in a moment. This disturbed the Queen very much, and put her to shame, so that at length she got up, and went to her own chamber to weep; but here also he followed her. There she called out, “Is this the devil who persecutes me? Or did my deliverer never come?” At these words, he struck her on the cheek and cried, “Did thy deliverer never come? He is beside thee, thou traitress! Have I deserved this of thee?” Then he rendered himself visible again, and, going into the hall, he cried, “The wedding is over! The true King is come!” Then the kings, princes, and counselors, who were assembled, mocked him and jeered him; but he gave them short answers, and asked, “Will you be off or not?” Then they tried to catch and imprison him; but he drew his sword, and said, “Heads off, all round, but not mine!” So all their heads rolled down the hill, and he was left, master, alone, and became once more “King of the Golden Mountain.”

Home Browse by Country Browse by Surname Search For Your Coat of Arms Customise Your Coat of Arms Download / Login Support
  This story is in the public domain and may be used or adapted freely.
We have made minor edits to the story to modernize the typographical conventions and some of the punctuation. You may copy our text freely, a link to our website would be appreciated but is not required.