The Baldwin Library
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"MEN OF IRON" ETC.
OSGOOD, McILVAINE & CO.
45 ALBEMARLE STREET W.
AS-MET-V~: I ~ kyI OW W""'N
BY-H EIRTATFHI-fI~[S e
Table of Contents
The Stool of Fortune 5
The Talisman of Solomon 25
Ill-Luck and the Fiddler 65
Empty Bottles 81
Good Gifts and a Fool's Folly 97
The Good of a Few Words 15
Woman's Wit 145
A Piece of Good Luck 167
The Fruit of Happiness .99
Not a Pin to Choose 219
viii TABLE OF CONTENTS
Much shall have More and Little shall have Less 253
Wisdom's Wages and Folly's Pay 265
The Enchanted Island 285
All Things are as Fate wills 309
Where to Lay the Blame 327
The Salt of Life 343
/-*j 3 /^^
FOUND myself in Twilhght Land. How I
ever got there I cannot tell, but there I was
in Twilight Land.
What is Twilihht Land? It is a wonder-
ful, wonderful place where no sun shines to scorch your back
as youjog along the way, where no rain falls to make the
road muddy and hard to travel, where no wind blows the
dust into your eyes or the chill into your marrow. Where
all is sweet and quiet and ready to go to bed.
Where is Twihght Land? Ah that I cannot tell you.
You will either have to ask your mother or find it for
There I was in Twilight Land. The birds were singing
their good-night song, and the little frogs were piping peet,
peet." The sky overhead was full of still brightness, and the
moon m the east hung in the purple grey like a great bubble
as yellow as gold. All the air was full of the smell of
growing things. The high-road was grey, and the trees
I drifted along the road as a soap-bubble floats before the
wind, or as a body floats in a dream. I floated along and I
floated along past the trees, past the bushes, past the mill-
pond, past the mill where the old miller stood at the door
looking at me.
I .. ...... on, and there was the Inn, and it was the Sign of
The sign hung on a pole, and on it was painted a picture
of Mother Goose with her grey gander.
It was to the Inn I wished to come.
I;. .,;' 'on, and I would have floated past the Inn, and
perhaps have gotten into the Land of Never-Come-Back-
Again, only I caught at the branch of an apple-tree, and so
I stopped myself, .'.. the apple-blossoms came falling
down like pink and white snouaflakes.
The earth and the air and the sky were all still, just as it
is at twilight, and I heard them laughing and talking in the
tap-room of the Inn of the Sign of Mother Goose-the
clinking of glasses, and the '.,:;.. and clatter of knives and
forks and plates and dishes. That was where I wished
So in I went. Mother Goose herself opened the door, and
there I was.
The room was all full of twilight; but there they sat,
every one of them. I did not count them, but there were ever
so many: Aladdin, and Ali Baba, and Fortunatis, and
Jack-the-t .;. .-..,. and Doctor Faustus, and Bidpai, and
Cinderella, and Patient Grizzle, and the Soldier who cheated
the Devil, and St. George, and Hans in Luck, who traded
and traded his lump of gold until he had only an empty
churn to show for it; and there was Sindbad the Sailor, and
the Tailor who killed seven flies at a blow, and the Fisherman
who fished up the Genie, and the Lad who J:.' /.'. I for the Jew
in the bramble-bush, and the Blacksmith who made Death
sit in his apple-tree, and Boots, who always marries the
Princess, whether he wants to or not-a rag-tag lot as ever
you saw in your life, gathered from every place, and brought
.."..'.. ,- in Twilight Land.
Each one of them was telling a story, and now it was the
turn of the Soldier who cheated the Devil.
"I WILL tell you," said the Soldier who cheated the
Devil, a slory of a friend of mine."
Take a fresh pipe of tobacco," said St. George.
Thank you, I :;. ," said the Soldier who cheated the
He .. 'his long pipe full of tobacco, and then he tilted zt
upside down and sucked in the light of the candle.
Puff! .. !. `, and a cloud of smoke went up about
his head, so that you could just see his red nose shining
through it, and his bright eyes twinkling in the midst of the
snoke-wreath, like two stars -. "..'., a thin cloud on a
"I'll tell you," said the Soldier who cheated the Devil,
" the story of a friend of mine. 'Tis every word of it just
as true as that I myself cheated the Devil."
He took a drink from his mug of beer, and then he
'Tis called," said he-
he Stool of Fortune
ONCE upon a time there
came a soldier marching along
the road, kicking up a little
cloud of dust" at each step-as
strapping and merry and bright-
eyed a fellow as you would wish
to see in a summer day. Tramp I
tramp I tramp! he marched,
whistling as he jogged along,
though he carried a heavy
musket over his shoulder and
though the sun 'shone hot and
strong and there was never a
tree in sight to give him a bit
At last he came in sight of
the King's Town and to a great
field of stocks and stones, and
7 there sat a little old man as
withered and brown as a dead
leaf, and clad all in scarlet from head to foot.
Ho soldier," said he, "are you a good shot ?"
"Ay," said the soldier, "that is my trade."
Would you like to earn a dollar by shooting off your
musket for me ? "
"Ay," said the soldier, that is my trade also."
Very well, then," said the little man in red, "here is
a silver button to drop into your gun instead of a bullet.
Wait you here, and about sunset there will come a great
black bird flying. In one claw it carries a feather cap
and in the other a round stone. Shoot me the silver
button at that bird, and if your aim is good it will drop
the feather cap and the pebble. Bring them to me to the
great town-gate and I will pay you a dollar for your
"Very well," said the soldier, "shooting my gun is a
job that fits me like an old coat." So down he sat, and
the old man went his way.
Well, there he sat and sat and sat and sat until the sun
touched the rim of the ground, and then, just as the old
man said, there came flying a great black bird as silent as
night. The soldier did not tarry to look or to think. As
the bird flew by up came the gun to his shoulder, squint
went his eye along the barrel-Puff! Bang !
I vow and declare that if the shot he fired had cracked
the sky he could not have been more frightened. The
great black bird gave a yell so terrible that it curdled the
very blood in his veins and made his hair stand upon end.
Away it flew like a flash-a bird no longer, but a great,
black demon, smoking and smelling most horribly of brim-
stone, and when the soldier gathered his wits, there lay
the feather cap and a little round black stone upon the
"Well," said the soldier, "it is little wonder that the
old man had no liking to shoot at such game as that."
And thereupon he popped the feather cap into one pocket
and the round stone into another, and shouldering his
musket marched away until he reached the town-gate, and
there was the old man waiting for him.
"Did you shoot the bird ?" said he.
I did," said the soldier.
"And did you get the cap and the round stone ?"
"Then here is your dollar."
"Wait a bit," said the soldier, "I shot greater game
that time than I bargained for, and so it's ten dollars, and
not one you shall pay me before you lay finger upon the
feather cap and the little stone."
"Very well," said the old man, "here are ten dollars."
"Ho! ho!" thought the soldier, "is that the way the
wind blows ? "-" Did I say ten dollars ? said he; 'twas
a hundred dollars I meant."
At that the old man frowned until his eyes shone green.
"Very well," said he, if it is a hundred dollars you want,
you will have to come home with me, for I have not so
much with me." Thereupon he entered the town with the
soldier at his heels.
Up one street he went and down another, until at last
he came to a great, black, ancient, ramshackle house; and
that was where he lived. In he walked without so much
as a rap at the door, and so led the way to a great room
with furnaces and books and bottles and jars and dust
and cobwebs, and three grinning skulls upon the mantel-
piece, each with a candle stuck atop of it, and there he
left the soldier while he went to get the hundred dollars.
The soldier sat him down upon a three-legged stool in
THE STOOL OF FORTUNE
the corner and began staring about him; and he liked the
looks of the place as little as any he had seen in all of his
life, for it smelled musty and dusty, it did : the three skulls
grinned at him, and he began
to think that the little old man
was no better than he should
be. "I wish," says he, at last,
"that instead of being here I
might be well out of my scrape
and in a safe place."
Now the little old man in
scarlet was a great magician,
and there was little or nothing
in that house that had not some
magic about it, and of all things /
the three-legged stool had been
conjured the most.
"I wish that instead of being /
here I might be well out of my
scrape, and in a safe place."
That was what the soldier said; / /
and hardly had the words left f
his lips when -whisk! whir!-
away flew the stool through the
window, so suddenly that the /
soldier had only just time
enough to gripe it tight by the legs to save himself from
falling. Whir I whiz !-away it flew like a bullet. Up and
up it went-so high in the air that the earth below looked
like a black blanket spread out in the night; and then
down it came again, with the soldier still griping tight to
the legs, until at last it settled as light as a feather upon a
balcony of the king's palace; and when the soldier caught
his wind again he found himself without a hat, and with
hardly any wits in his head.
There he sat upon the stool for a long time without
daring to move, for he did not know what might happen
to him next. There he sat and sat, and by-and-by his
ears got cold in the night air, and then he noticed for the
first time that he had lost his head gear, and bethought
himself of the feather cap in his pocket. So out he drew
it and clapped it upon his head, and then-lo and behold!
-he found he had become as invisible as thin air-not a
shred or a hair of him could be seen. "Well!" said he,
"here is another wonder, but I am safe now at any rate."
And up he got to find some place not so cool as where he
He stepped in at an open window, and there he found
himself in a beautiful room, hung with cloth of silver and
blue, and with chairs and tables of white and gold;
dozens and scores of waxlights shone like so many stars,
and lit every crack and cranny as bright as day, and there
at one end of the room upon a couch, with her eyelids
closed and fast asleep, lay the prettiest princess that ever
the sun shone upon. The soldier stood and looked and
looked at her, and looked and looked at her, until his
heart melted within him like soft butter, and then he
"Who is that?" said the princess, starting up, wide-
awake, but not a soul could she see, because the soldier
had the feather cap upon his head.
"Who is that?" said she again; and then the soldier
answered, but without taking the feather cap from his
"It is I," said he, "and I am King of the Wind, and
ten times greater than the greatest of kings here below.
One day I saw you walking in your garden and fell in
love with you, and now I have come to ask you if you
will marry me and be my wife ? "
"But how can I marry you?" said the princess,
"without seeing you ?"
"You shall see me," said the soldier, "all in good
time. Three days from now I will come again, and will
show myself to you, but just now it cannot be. But if I
come, will you marry me ? "
"Yes, I will," said the princess, "for I like the way
you talk-that I do "
Thereupon the soldier kissed her and said good-bye,
and then stepped out of the window as he had stepped in.
He sat him down upon his three-legged stool. "I wish,"
said he, to be carried to such and such a tavern." For
he had been in that town before, and knew the places
where good living was to be had.
Whir! whiz Away flew the stool as high and higher
than it had flown before, and then down it came again,
and down and down until it lit as light as a feather in the
street before the tavern door. The soldier tucked his
feather cap in his pocket, and the three-legged stool under
his arm, and in he went and ordered a pot of beer and
some white bread and cheese.
Meantime, at the king's palace was such a gossiping
and such a hubbub as had not been heard there for many
a day; for the pretty princess was not slow in telling how
the invisible King of the Wind had come and asked her
to marry him; and some said it was true and some said
it was not true, and everybody wondered and talked, and
THE STOOL OF FORTUNE
told their own notions of the matter. But all agreed that
three days would show whether what had been told was
true or no.
As for the soldier, he knew no more how to do what
he had promised to do than my grandmother's cat; for
where was he to get clothes fine enough for the King of
the Wind to wear ? So there he sat on his three-legged
stool thinking' and thinking, and if he had known all that
I know he would not have given two turns of his wit upon
it. "I wish," says he, at last-" I wish that this stool
could help me now as well as it can carry me through the
sky. I wish," says he, that I had a suit of clothes such
as the King of the Wind might really wear."
The wonders of the three-legged stool were wonders
Hardly had the words left the soldier's lips when down
came something tumbling about his ears from up in the
air; and what should it be but just such a suit of clothes
as he had in his mind-all crusted over with gold and
silver and jewels.
"Well," says the soldier, as soon as he had got over
his wonder again, "I would rather sit upon this stool than
any I ever saw." And so would I, if I had been in his
place, and had a few minutes to think of all that I
So he found out the trick of the stool, and after that
wishing and having were easy enough, and by the time
the three days were ended the real King of the Wind
himself could not have cut a finer figure. Then down sat
the soldier upon his stool, and wished himself at the king's
palace. Away he flew through the air, and by-and-by
there he was, just where he had been before. He put his
feather cap upon his head, and stepped in through the
window, and there he found the princess with her father,
the king, and her mother, the queen, and all the great
lords and nobles waiting for his coming; but never a
stitch nor a hair did they see of him until he stood in the
very midst of them all. Then he whipped the feather cap
off of his head, and there he was, shining with silver and
gold and glistening with jewels-such a sight as man's
eyes never saw before.
"Take her," said the king, "she is yours." And the
soldier looked so handsome in his fine clothes that the
princess was as glad to hear those words as any she had
ever listened to in all of her life.
"You shall," said the king, be married to-morrow."
"Very well," said the soldier. Only give me a plot
of ground to build a palace upon that shall be fit for the
wife of the King of the Wind to live in."
"You shall have it," said the king, "and it shall be the
great parade ground back of the palace, which is so wide
and long that all my army can march round and round in
it without getting into its own way; and that ought to be
Yes," said the soldier, "it is." Thereupon he put on
his feather cap and disappeared from the sight of all as
quickly as one might snuff out a candle.
He mounted his three-legged stool and away he flew
through the air until he had come again to the tavern
where he was lodging. There he sat him down and began
to churn his thoughts, and the butter he made was worth
the having, I can tell you. He wished for a grand palace
of white marble, and then he wished for all sorts of things
to fill it-the finest that could be had. Then he wished
for servants in clothes of gold and silver, and then he
wished for fine horses and gilded coaches. Then he
wished for gardens and orchards and lawns and flower-
plats and fountains, and all kinds and sorts of things,
until the sweat ran down his face from hard thinking and
wishing. And as he thought and wished, all the things
he thought and wished for grew up like soap-bubbles from
nothing at all.
Then, when day began to break, he wished himself
with his fine clothes to be in the palace that his own wits
had made, and away he flew through the air until he had
come there safe and sound.
But when the sun rose and shone down upon the
beautiful palace and all the gardens and orchards around
it, the king and queen and all the court stood dumb with
wonder at the sight. Then, as they stood staring, the
gates opened and out came the soldier riding in his
gilded coach with his servants in silver and gold march-
ing beside him, and such a sight the daylight never looked
upon before that day.
Well, the princess and the soldier were married, and
if no couple had ever been happy in the world before,
they were then. Nothing was heard but feasting and
merrymaking, and at night all the sky was lit with fire-
works. Such a wedding had never been before, and all
the world was glad that it had happened.
That is, all the world but one; that one was the old
man dressed in scarlet that the soldier had met when he
first came to town. While all the rest were in the hubbub
of rejoicing, he put on his thinking-cap, and by-and-by
began to see pretty well how things lay, and that, as they
say in our town, there was a fly in the milk-jug. Ho,
THE STOOL OF FORTUNE
ho I thought he, "so the soldier has found out all about
the three-legged stool, has he ? Well, I will just put a
spoke into his wheel for him." And so he began to
watch for his chance to do the soldier an ill turn.
Now, a week or two after the wedding, and after all
the gay doings had ended, a grand hunt was declared,
and the king and his new son-in-law and all the court
went to it. That was just such a chance as the old
magician had been waiting for; so the night before
the hunting-party returned he climbed the walls of
the garden, and so came to the wonderful palace that
the soldier had built out of nothing at all, and there
stood three men keeping guard so that no one might
But little that troubled the magician. He began to
mutter spells and strange words, and all of a sudden he
was gone, and in his place was a great black ant, for he
had changed himself into an ant. In he ran through a
crack of the door (and mischief has got into many a man's
house through a smaller hole for the matter of that). In
and out ran the ant through one room and another, and
up and down and here and there, until at last in a far-
away part of the magic palace he found the three-legged
stool, and if I had been in the soldier's place I would have
chopped it up into kindling-wood after I had gotten all
that I wanted. But there it was, and in an instant the
magician resumed his own shape. Down he sat him
upon the stool. I wish," said he, that this palace and
the princess and all who are within it, together with its
orchards and its lawns and its gardens and everything,
may be removed to such and such a country, upon the
other side of the earth."
And as the stool had obeyed the soldier, so everything
was done now just as the magician said.
The next morning back came the hunting-party, and as
they rode over the hill-lo and behold !-there lay
stretched out the great parade ground in which the
king's armies used to march around and around, and the
land was as bare as the palm of my hand. Not a stick or
a stone of the palace was left; not a leaf or a blade of the
orchards or gardens was to be seen.
The soldier sat as dumb as a fish, and the king stared
with eyes and mouth wide open. Where is the palace,
and where is my daughter?" said he, at last finding
words and wit.
"I do not know," said the soldier.
The king's face grew as black as thunder. "You do
not know," he said, "then you must find out. Seize the
traitor !" he cried.
But that was easier said than done, for, quick as a
wink, as they came to lay hold of him, the soldier whisked
the feather cap from his pocket and clapped it upon his
head, and then they might as well have hoped to find the
south wind in winter as to find him.
But though he got safe away from that trouble he was
deep enough in the dumps, you may be sure of that.
Away he went, out into the wide world, leaving that
town behind him. Away he went, until by-and-by he
came to a great forest, and for three days he travelled on
and on-he knew not whither. On the third night, as he
sat beside a fire which he had built to keep him warm, he
suddenly bethought himself of the little round stone which
had dropped from the bird's claw, and which he still had
in his pocket. "Why should it not also help me," said
he, for there must be some wonder about it." So he
brought it out, and sat looking at it and looking at it, but
he could make nothing of it for the life of him. Never-
theless, it might have some wishing power about it, like
the magic stool. I wish," said the soldier, that I might
get out of this scrape." That is what we have all wished
many and many a time in a like case; but just now it did
the soldier no more good to wish than it does good for the
rest of us. Bah said he, it is nothing but a black
stone after all." And then he threw it into the fire.
Puff! Bang! Away flew the embers upon every side,
and back tumbled the soldier, and there in the middle of
the flame stood just such a grim, black being as he had
one time shot at with the silver button.
As for the poor soldier, he just lay flat on his back and
stared with eyes like saucers, for he thought that his end
had come for sure.
"What are my lord's commands? said the being, in
a voice that shook the marrow of the soldier's bones.
"Who are you ?" said the soldier.
"I am the spirit of the stone," said the being. You
have heated it in the flame, and I am here. Whatever
you command I must obey."
"Say you so ? cried the soldier, scrambling to his
feet. Very well, then, just carry me to where I may
find my wife and my palace again."
Without a word the spirit of the stone snatched the
soldier up, and flew away with him swifter than the wind.
Over forest, over field, over mountain and over valley he
flew, until at last, just as the crack of day, he set him
down in front of his own palace gate in the far country
where the magician had transported it.
THE STOOL OF FORTUNE
After that the soldier knew his way quickly enough.
He clapped his feather cap upon his head and into the
palace he went, and from one room to another, until at
last he came to where the princess sat weeping and wail-
ing, with her pretty eyes red from long crying.
Then the soldier took off his cap again, and you may
guess what sounds of rejoicing followed. They sat down
beside one another, and after the soldier had eaten, the
princess told him all that had happened to her; how the
magician had found the stool, and how he had transported
the palace to this far-away land; how he came every
day and begged her to marry him-which she would
rather die than do.
To all this the soldier listened, and when she had ended
her story he bade her to dry her tears, for, after all, the
jug was only cracked, and not past mending. Then he
told her that when the sorcerer came again that day
she should say so and so and so and so, and that he
would be by to help her with his feather cap upon his
After that they sat talking together as happy as two
turtle-doves, until the magician's foot was heard on the
stairs. And then the soldier clapped his feather cap upon
his head just as the door opened.
Snuff, snuff said the magician, sniffing the air,
" here is a smell of Christian blood."
Yes," said the princess, that is so; there came a
pedlar to-day, but after all he did not stay long."
He'd better not come again," said the magician, or
it will be the worse for him. But tell me, will you
marry me ? "
No," said the princess, I shall not marry you until
you can prove yourself to be a greater man than my
Pooh !" said the magician, "that will be easy enough
to prove; tell me how you would have me do so and I
will do it."
"Very well," said the princess, "then let me see you
change yourself into a lion. If you can do that I may
perhaps believe you to be as great as my husband."
It shall," said the magician, "be as you say. He
began to mutter spells and strange words, and then all of
a sudden he was gone, and in his place there stood a lion
with bristling mane and 11 m1! eyes-a sight fit of itself
to kill a body with terror.
"That will do!" cried the princess, quaking and
trembling at the sight, and thereupon the magician took
his own shape again.
Now," said he, do you believe that I am as great as
the poor soldier ? "
"Not yet," said the princess; "I have seen how big
you can make yourself, now I wish to see how little you
can become. Let me see you change yourself into a
"So be it," said the magician, and began again to
mutter his spells. Then all of a sudden he was gone
just as he was gone before, and in his place was a little
mouse sitting up and looking at the princess with a pair
of eyes like glass beads.
But he did not sit there long. This was what the
soldier had planned for, and all the while he had been
standing by with his feather hat upon his head. Up he
raised his foot, and down he set it upon the mouse.
Crunch !-that was an end of the magician.
THE STOOL OF FORTUNE
After that all was clear sailing; the soldier hunted up
the three-legged stool and down he sat upon it, and by
dint of no more than just a little wishing, back flew palace
and garden and all through the air again to the place
whence it came.
I do not know whether the old king ever believed again
that his son-in-law was the King of the Wind; anyhow,
all was peace and friendliness thereafter, for when a body
can sit upon a three-legged stool and wish to such good
purpose as the soldier wished, a body is just as good as a
king, and a good deal better, to my mind.
THE Soldier who cheated the Devil looked into his pipe;
it was nearly out. He *. '..' and '.. and the coal glowed
brighter, and fresh clouds of smoke up into the air.
Little Brown Betty came and refilled, from a crock of brown
foaming ale, the mug which he had emptied. The Soldier
who had cheated the Devil looked up at her and winked one
Now," said St. George, "it is the turn of yonder old
man," and he pointed, as he spoke, with the stem of his pipe
towards old Bidpai, who sat with closed eyes meditating
inside of himself.
The old man opened his eyes, the whites of which were as
..*. as .. '" ... and wrinkled his face into innumerable
cracks and lines. Then he closed his eyes again; then he
opened them again; then he cleared his throat and began:
"There was once upon a time a man whom other men
called Aben Hassen the Wise-"
One moment," said Ali Baba; "will you not tell us
what the story is about? "
Old Bidpai looked at him and stroked his long white
beard. It is," said he, about-
heTalisman f Solomon
THERE was once upon
a time a man whom other
men called Aben Hassen
the Wise. He had read
a thousand books of magic,
and knew all that the
ancients or moderns had
j to tell of the hidden arts.
The King of the De-
mons of the Earth, a
f great and hideous monster
si. named Zadok, was his
Servant, and came and
went as Aben Hassen the
" Wise ordered, and did as
-- r he bade. After Aben
Hassen learned all that it
was possible for man to
know, he said to himself,
"Now I will take my ease
and enjoy my life." So he called the Demon Zadok to
him, and said to the monster, "I have read in my books
that there is a treasure that was one time hidden by the
ancient kings of Egypt-a treasure such as the eyes of
man never saw before or since their day. Is that true ? "
It is true," said the Demon.
"Then I command thee to take me to that treasure and
to show it to me," said Aben Hassen the Wise.
It shall be done," said the Demon; and thereupon he
caught up the Wise Man and transported him across
mountain and --, 1;, across land and sea, until he brought
him to a country known as the Land of the Black Isles,"
where the treasure of the ancient kings was hidden. The
Demon showed the Magician the treasure, and it was a
sight such as man had never looked upon before or since
the days that the dark, ancient ones hid it. With his
treasure Aben Hassen built himself palaces and gardens
and paradises such as the world never saw before. He
lived like an emperor, and the fame of his doings rang
through all the four corners of the earth.
Now the queen of the Black Isles was the most beautiful
woman in the world, but she was as cruel and wicked and
cunning as she was beautiful. No man that looked upon
her could help loving her; for not only was she as beauti-
ful as a dream, but her beauty was of that sort that it
bewitched a man in spite of himself.
One day the queen sent for Aben Hassen the Wise.
" Tell me," said she, is it true that men say of you that
you have discovered a hidden treasure such as the world
never saw before ? And she looked at Aben Hassen so.
that his wisdom all crumbled away like sand, and he
became just as foolish as other men.
"Yes," said he, it is true."
Aben Hassen the Wise spent all that day with the
queen, and when lie left the palace he was like a man
THE TALISMAN OF SOLOMON
drunk and dizzy with love. Moreover, he had promised
to show the queen the hidden treasure the next day.
As Aben Hassen, like a man in a dream, walked
towards his own house, he met an old man standing at
the corner of the street. The old man had a talisman that
hung dangling from a chain, and which he offered for sale.
When Aben Hassen saw the talisman he knew very well
what it was-that it was the famous talisman of King
Solomon the Wise. If he who possessed the talisman
asked it to speak, it would tell that man both what to do
and what not to do.
The Wise Man bought the talisman for three pieces of
silver (and wisdom has been sold for less than that many
a time), and as soon as he had the talisman in his hands
he hurried home with it and locked himself in a room.
"Tell me," said the Wise Man to the Talisman, "shall
I marry the beautiful queen of the Black Isles ? "
"Fly, while there is yet time to escape!" said the
Talisman; but go not near the queen again, for she seeks
to destroy thy life."
"But tell me, O Talisman!" said the Wise Man,
"what then shall I do with all that vast treasure of the
kings of Egypt ? "
Fly from it while there is yet chance to escape said
the Talisman; but go not into the treasure-house again,
for in the farther door, where thou hast not yet looked, is
that which will destroy him who possesses the treasure."
But Zadok," said Aben Hassen; what of Zadok ? "
Fly from the monster while there is yet time to
escape," said the Talisman, "and have no more to do with
thy Demon slave, for already he is weaving a net of death
and destruction about thy feet."
The Wise Man sat all that night pondering and thinking
upon what the Talisman had said. When morning came
he washed and dressed himself, and called the Demon
Zadok to him. "Zadok," said he, "carry me to the
palace of the. queen." In the twinkling of an eye the
Demon transported him to the steps of the palace.
"Zadok," said the Wise Man, "give me the staff of life
and death; and the Demon brought from under his clothes
a wand, one-half of which was of silver and one-half of
which was of gold. The Wise Man touched the steps of
the palace with the silver end of the staff. Instantly all
the sound and hum of life was hushed. The thread
of life was cut by the knife of silence, and in a moment
all was as still as death.
"Zadok," said the Wise Man, "transport me to the
treasure-house of the king of Egypt." And instantly the
Demon had transported him thither. The Wise Man
drew a circle upon the earth. No one," said he, "shall
have power to enter here but the master of Zadok, the
King of the Demons of the Earth."
"And now, Zadok," said he, "I command thee to
transport me to India, and as far from here as thou canst."
Instantly the Demon did as he was commanded; and of
all the treasure that he had, the Wise Man took nothing
with him but a jar of golden money and a jar of silver
money. As soon as the Wise Man stood upon the ground
of India, he drew from beneath his robe a little jar of
"Zadok," said he, I command thee to enter this jar."
Then the Demon knew that now his turn had come.
He besought and implored the Wise Man to have mercy
upon him; but it was all in vain. Then the Demon
roared and bellowed till the earth shook and the sky
grew dark overhead. But all was of no avail; into the
jar he must go, and into the jar he went. Then the
Wise Man stoppered the jar and sealed it. He wrote
an inscription of warning upon it, and then he buried it
in the ground.
Now," said Aben Hassen the Wise to the Talisman
of Solomon, "have I done everything that I should ? "
"No," said the Talisman, thou shouldst not have
brought the jar of golden money and the jar of silver
money with thee; for that which is evil in the greatest is
evil in the least. Thou fool! The treasure is cursed!
cast it all from thee while there is yet time."
"Yes, I will do that, too," said the Wise Man. So he
buried in the earth the jar of gold and the jar of silver
that he had brought with him, and then he stamped the
mould down upon it. After that the Wise Man began
his life all over again. He bought, and he sold, and he
traded, and by-and-by he became rich. Then he built
himself a great house, and in the foundation he laid the
jar in which the Demon was bottled.
Then he married a young and handsome wife. By-
and-by the wife bore him a son, and then she died.
This son was the pride of his father's heart; but he
was as vain and foolish as his father was wise, so that all
men called him Aben Hassen the Fool, as they called the
father Aben Hassen the Wise.
Then one day death came and called the old man,
and he left his son all that belonged to him-even the
Talisman of Solomon.
Young Aben Hassen the Fool had never seen so much
THE TALISMAN OF SOLOMON
money as now belonged to him. It seemed to him that
there was nothing in the world he could not enjoy. He
found friends by the dozens and scores, and everybody
seemed to be very fond of him.
He asked no questions of the Talisman of Solomon,
for to his mind there was no need of being both wise and
rich. So he began enjoying himself with his new friends.
Day and night there was feasting and drinking and sing-
ing and dancing and merrymaking and carousing; and
the money that the old man had made by trading and
wise living poured out like water through a sieve.
Then, one day came an end to all this junketing, and
nothing remained to the young spendthrift of all the
wealth that his father had left him. Then the officers
of the law came down upon him and seized all that
was left of the fine things, and his fair-weather friends
flew away from his troubles like flies from vinegar.
Then the young man began to think of the Talisman
of Wisdom. For it was with him as it is with so many
of us: When folly has emptied the platter, wisdom is
called in to pick the bones.
"Tell me," said the young man to the Talisman of
Solomon, "what shall I do, now that everything is
Go," said the Talisman of Solomon, "and work as
thy father has worked before thee. Advise with me
and become prosperous and contented, but do not go
dig under the cherry-tree in the garden."
"Why should I not dig under the cherry-tree in
the garden ?" says the young man ; "I will see what is
there, at any rate."
So he straightway took a spade and went out into the
garden, where the Talisman had told him not to go. He
dug and dug under the cherry-tree, and by-and-by his
spade struck something hard. It was a vessel of brass,
and it was full of silver money. Upon the lid of the
vessel were these words, engraved in the handwriting of
the old man who had died:
My son, this vessel full of silver has been brought
from the treasure-house of the ancient kings of Egypt.
Take this, then, that thou findest; advise with the
Talisman; be wise and prosper."
"And they call that the Talisman of Wisdom," said the
young man. If I had listened to it I never would have
found this treasure."
The next day he began to spend the money he
had found, and his friends soon gathered around him
The vessel of silver money lasted a week, and then it
was all gone; not a single piece was left.
Then the young man bethought himself again of the
Talisman of Solomon. "What shall I do now," said he,
to save myself from ruin ? "
Earn thy bread with honest labour," said the Talis-
man, "and I will teach thee how to prosper; but do
not dig beneath the fig-tree that stands by the fountain in
The young man did not tarry long after he heard what
the Talisman had said. He seized a spade and hurried
away to the fig-tree in the garden as fast as he could run.
He dug and dug, and by-and-bye, his spade struck some-
thing hard. It was a copper vessel, and it was filled with
gold money. Upon the lid of the vessel was engraved
these words in the handwriting of the old man who had
THE TALISMAN OF SOLOMON
gone: "My son, my son," they said, "thou hast been
warned once; be warned again. The gold money in this
vessel has been brought from the treasure-house of the
ancient kings of Egypt. Take it; be advised by the
Talisman of Solomon; be wise and prosper."
"And to think that if I had listened to the Talisman, I
would never have found this," said the young man.
The gold in the vessel lasted :!,:i .1--e for a month of
jollity and merrymaking, but at the end of that time there
was nothing left-not a copper farthing.
Tell me," said the young man to the Talisman, "what
shall I do now ? "
"Thou fool," said the Talisman, "go sweat and toil,
but do not go down into the vault beneath this house.
There in the vault is a red stone built into the wall. The
red stone turns upon a pivot. Behind the stone is a
hollow space. As thou wouldst save thy life from peril,
go not near it!"
"Hear that now," says the young man, "first, this
Talisman told me not to go, and I found silver. Then it
told me not to go, and I found gold; now it tells me not
to go-perhaps I shall find precious stones enough for a
He lit a lantern and went down into the vault beneath
the house. There, as the Talisman had said, was the red
stone built into the wall. He pressed the stone, and it
turned upon its pivot as the Talisman had said it would
turn. Within was a hollow space, as the Talisman said
there would be. In the hollow space there was a casket
of silver. The young man snatched it up, and his hands
trembled for joy.
Upon the lid of the box were these words in the
father's handwriting, written in letters as red as blood:
" Fool, fool! Thou hast been a fool once, thou hast been
a fool twice; be not a fool for a third time. Restore this
casket whence it was taken, and depart."
I will see what is in the box, at any rate," said the
He opened it. There was nothing in it but a hollow
glass jar the size of an egg. The young man took the
jar from the box; it was as hot as fire. He cried out
and let it fall. The jar burst upon the floor with a crack
of thunder; the house shook and rocked, and the dust
flew about in clouds. Then all was still; and when
Aben Hassen the Fool could see through the cloud of
terror that enveloped him he beheld a great, tall, hideous
being as black as ink, and with eyes that shone like coals
When the young man saw that terrible creature his
tongue clave to the roof of his mouth, and his knees
smote together with fear, for he thought that his end
had now certainly come.
"Who are you ?" he croaked, as soon as he could find
I am the King of the Demons of the Earth, and my
name is Zadok," answered the being. I was once thy
father's slave, and now I am thine, thou being his son.
When thou speakest I must obey, and whatever thou
commandest me to do that I must do."
"For instance, what can you do for me?" said the
"I can do whatsoever you ask me; I can make you
"You can make me rich ?"
"Yes, I can make you richer than a king."
"Then make me rich as soon as you can," said Aben
Hassen the Fool, and that is all that I shall ask of you
"It shall be done," said the Demon; "spend all that
thou canst spend, and thou shalt always have more. Has
my lord any further commands for his slave ? "
No," said the young man, there is nothing more;
you may go now."
And thereupon the Demon vanished like a flash.
THE TALISMAN OF SOLOMON
"And to think," said the young man, as he came up
,out of the vault-" and to think that all this I should
never have found if I had obeyed the Talisman."
Such riches were never seen in that land as the young
man now possessed. There was no end to the treasure
that poured in upon him. He lived like an emperor.
He built a palace more splendid than the palace of the
king. He laid out vast gardens of the most exquisite
beauty, in which there were fountains as white as snow,
trees of rare fruit and flowers that filled all the air
with their perfume, summer-houses of alabaster and
Every one who visited him was received like a prince,
entertained like a king, given a present fit for an emperor,
and sent away happy. The fame of all these things went
out through all the land, and every one talked of him and
the magnificence that surrounded him.
It came at last to the ears of the king himself, and one
day he said to his minister, Let us go and see with our
own eyes if all the things reported of this merchant's son
So the king and his minister disguised themselves as
foreign merchants, and went that evening to the palace
where the young man lived. A servant dressed in
clothes of gold and silver cloth stood at the door, and
called to them to come in and be made welcome. He
led them in, and to a chamber lit with perfumed lamps of
gold. Then six black slaves took them in charge and led
them to a bath of white marble. They were bathed in
perfumed water and dried with towels of fine linen.
When they came forth they were clad in clothes of cloth
of silver, stiff with gold and jewels. Then twelve hand-
some white slaves led them through a vast and splendid
hall to a banqueting-room.
V'._,. they entered they were deafened with the noise
of carousing and merrymaking.
Aben Hassen the Fool sat at the head of the table
upon a throne of gold, with a canopy of gold above his.
head. When he saw the king and the minister enter,
he beckoned to them to come and sit beside him. He
showed them special favour because they were strangers,
and special servants waited upon them.
The king and his minister had never seen anything like
what they then saw. They could hardly believe it was
not all magic and enchantment. At the end of the feast
each of the guests was given a present of great value,
and was sent away rejoicing. The king received a pearl
as big as a marble; the minister a cup of wrought gold.
The next morning the king and the prime minister
were talking over what they had seen.
"Sire," said the prime minister, "I have no doubt but
that the young man has discovered some vast hidden
treasure. Now, according to the laws of this kingdom,
the half of any treasure that is discovered shall belong to
the king's treasury. If I were in your place I would
send for this young man, and compel him to tell me
whence comes all this vast wealth."
"That is true," said the king; "I had not thought of
that before. The young man shall tell me all about it."
So they sent a royal guard and brought the young man
to the king's palace. When the young man saw in the
king and the prime minister his guests of the night
before, whom he had thought to be only foreign mer-
chants, he fell on his face and kissed the ground before
the throne. But the king spoke to him kindly, and
raised him up and sat him on the seat beside him. They
talked for a while concerning different things, and then
the king said at last, "Tell me, my friend, whence comes
all the inestimable wealth that you must possess to allow
you to live as you do ? "
"Sire," said the young man, "I cannot tell you whence
it comes. I can only tell you that it is given to me."
The king frowned. You cannot tell," said he; you
must tell. It is for that that I have sent for you, and you
must tell me."
Then the young man began to be frightened. "I
beseech you," said he, "do not ask me whence it comes.
I cannot tell you."
Then the king's brows grew as black as thunder.
"What!" cried he, "do you dare to bandy words with
me? I know that you have discovered some treasure.
Tell me upon the instant where it is ; for the half of it
by the laws of the land, belongs to me, and I will have it."
At the king's words Aben Hassen the Fool fell on his
knees. "Sire," said he, "I will tell you all the truth.
There is a demon named Zadok-a monster as black as a
coal. He is my slave, and it is he that brings me all the
treasure that I enjoy." The king thought nothing else
than that Aben Hassen the Fool was trying to deceive
him. He laughed; he was very angry. "What," cried
he, "do you amuse me by such an absurd and unbeliev-
able tale ? Now I am more than ever sure that you have
discovered a treasure and that you wish to keep the
knowledge of it from me, '.n,.:. i.., as you do, that the
one-half of it by law belongs to me. Take him away !"
cried he to his attendants. Give him fifty lashes, and
THE TALISMAN OF SOLOMON
throw him into prison. He shall stay there and have
fifty lashes every day until he tells me where his wealth
It was done as the king said, and by-and-bye Aben
Hassen the Fool lay in the prison, smarting and sore with
the whipping he had had.
Then he began again to think of the Talisman of Solo-
"Tell me," said he to the Talisman, "what shall I do
now to help myself in this trouble ? "
Bear thy punishment, thou fool," said the Talisman.
Know that the king will by-and-bye pardon thee and
will let thee go. In the meantime bear thy punish-
ment; perhaps it will cure thee of thy folly. Only do
not call upon Zadok, the King of the Demons, in this thy
The young man smote his hand upon his head. What
a fool I am," said he, not to have thought to call upon
Zadok before this!" Then he called aloud, Zadok,
Zadok If thou art indeed my slave, come hither at my
In an instant there sounded a rumble as of thunder.
The floor swayed and rocked beneath the young man's
feet. The dust flew in clouds, and there stood Zadok
as black as ink, and with eyes that shone like coals of
I have come," said Zadok, "and first let me cure thy
smarts, 0 master."
He removed the cloths from the young man's back, and
rubbed the places that smarted with a cooling unguent.
Instantly the pain and smarting ceased, and the merchant's
.son had perfect ease.
Now," said Zadok, "what is thy bidding?"
"Tell me," said Aben Hassen the Fool, "whence
comes all the wealth that you have brought me? The
king has commanded me to tell him and I could not, and
so he has had me beaten with fifty lashes."
I bring the treasure," said Zadok, from the treasure-
house of the ancient kings of Egypt. That treasure I
at one time discovered to your father, and he, not desir-
ing it himself, hid it in the earth so that no one might
"And where is this treasure-house, 0 Zadok ? said
the young man.
It is in the city of the queen of the Black Isles," said
the King of the Demons; "there thy father lived in a
palace of such magnificence as thou hast never dreamed
of. It was I that brought him thence to this place
with one vessel of gold money and one vessel of silver
"It was you who brought him here, did you say,
Zadok? Then, tell me, can you take me from here to,
the city of the queen of the Black Isles, whence you
brought him ? "
"Yes," said Zadok, with ease."
Then," said the young man, I command you to take
me thither instantly, and to show me the treasure."
I obey," said Zadok.
He stamped his foot upon the ground. In an instant
the walls of the prison split asunder, and the sky was
above them. The Demon leaped from the earth, carrying
the young man by the girdle, and flew through the air so.
swiftly that the stars appeared to slide away behind
them. In a moment he set the young man again upon
THE TALISMAN OF SOLOMON
the ground, and Aben Hassen the Fool found himself at
the end of what appeared to be a vast and splendid
"We are now," said Zadok, "above the treasure-house
of which I spoke. It was here that I saw thy father'seal
it so that no one but the master of Zadok may enter.
Thou mayst go in any time it may please thee, for it is
"I would enter into it now," said Aben Hassen the
"Thou shalt enter," said Zadok. He stooped, and with
his finger-point he drew a circle upon the ground where
they stood; then he stamped with his heel upon the circle.
Instantly the earth opened, and there appeared a flight of
marble steps leading downward into the earth. Zadok
led the way down the steps and the young man followed.
At the bottom of the steps was a door of adamant. Upon
the door were these words in letters as black as ink, in
the handwriting of the old man who had gone :
Oh, fool! fool Beware what thou doest. Within
here shalt thou find death !"
There was a key of brass in the door. The King of the
Demons turned the key and opened the door. The young
man entered after him.
Aben Hassen the Fool found himself in a vast vaulted
room, lit by the light of a single carbuncle set in the
centre of the dome above. In the middle of the marble
floor was a great basin twenty paces broad, and filled to
the brim with money such as he had found in the brazen
vessel in the garden.
The young man could not believe what he saw with his
own eyes. "Oh, marvel of marvels he cried; "little
wonder you could give me boundless wealth from such a
storehouse as this."
Zadok laughed. "This," said he, is nothing; come
He led him from this room to another-like it vaulted,
and like it lit by a carbuncle set in the dome of the roof
above. In the middle of the floor was a basin such as
Aben Hassen the Fool had seen in the other room
beyond ; only this was filled with gold as that had been
filled with silver, and the gold was like that he had found
in the garden. When the young man saw this vast and
amazing wealth he stood speechless and breathless with
wonder. The Demon Zadok laughed. This," said he,
" is great, but it is little. Come and I will show thee a
He took the young man by the hand and led him into
a third room-vaulted as the other two had been, lit as
they had been by a carbuncle in the roof above. But
when the young man's eyes saw what was in this third
room, he was like a man turned drunk with wonder. He
had to lean against the wall behind him, for the sight
made him dizzy.
In the middle of the room was such a basin as he had
seen in the two other rooms, only it was filled with jewels
-diamonds and rubies and emeralds and sapphires and
precious stones of all kinds-that sparkled and blazed and
flamed like a million stars. Around the wall, and facing
the basin from all sides, stood six golden statues. Three
of them were statues of the kings and three of them were
statues of the queens who had gathered together all this
vast and measureless wealth of ancient Egypt.
There was space for a seventh statue, but where it
should have stood was a great arched door of adamant.
The door was tight shut, and there was neither lock nor
key to it. Upon the door were written these words in
letters of flame :
Behold beyond this door is that alone which shall
satisfy all thy desires."
Tell me, Zadok," said the young man, after he had
filled his soul with all the other wonders that surrounded
him, "tell me what is there that lies beyond that door ?"
That I am forbidden to tell thee, O master said the
King of the Demons of the Earth.
"Then open the door for me," said the young man;
"for I cannot open it for myself, as there is neither lock
nor key to it."
"That also I am forbidden to do," said Zadok.
THE TALISMAN OF SOLOMON
I wish that I knew what was there," said the young
The Demon laughed. "Some time," said he, "thou
mayest find for thyself. Come, let us leave here and go
to the palace which thy father built years ago, and which
he left behind him when he quitted this place for the
place in which thou newest him."
He led the way and the young man followed; they
passed through the vaulted rooms and out through the
*door of adamant, and Zadok locked it behind them and
gave the key to the young man.
"All this is thine now," said he; "I give it to thee as
I gave it to thy father. I have shown thee how to enter,
and thou mayst go in whenever it pleases thee to do so."
They ascended the steps, and so reached the garden
above. Then Zadok struck his heel upon the ground,
and the earth closed as it had opened. He led the young
man from the spot until they had come to a wide avenue
that led to the palace beyond. Here I leave thee," said
the Demon, "but if ever thou hast need of me, call and I
Thereupon he vanished like a flash, leaving the young
man standing like one in a dream.
He saw before him a garden of such splendour and
magnificence as he had never dreamed of even in his
wildest fancy. There were seven fountains as clear as
crystal that shot high into the air and fell back into
basins of alabaster. There was a broad avenue as white
as snow, and thousands of lights lit up everything as
light as day. Upon either side of the avenue stood a
row of black slaves, clad in garments of white silk, and
with jewelled turbans upon their heads. Each held a
flaming torch of sandal-wood. Behind the slaves stood
a double row of armed men, and behind them a great
crowd of other slaves and attendants, dressed each as.
magnificently as a prince, blazing and flaming with in-
numerable jewels and ornaments of gold.
But of all these things the young man thought nothing
and saw nothing; for at the end of the marble avenue
there arose a palace, the like of which was not in the
four quarters of the earth-a palace of marble and gold
and carmine and ultramarine-rising into the purple
starry sky, and shining in the moonlight like a vision of
Paradise. The palace was illuminated from top to bottom
and from end to end; the windows shone like crystal,
and from it came sounds of music and rejoicing.
When the crowd that stood waiting saw the young
man appear, they shouted: Welcome! welcome! to
the master who has come again To Aben Hassen the
The young man walked up the avenue of marble to,
the palace, surrounded by the armed attendants in their
dresses of jewels and gold, and preceded by dancing-
girls as beautiful as houris, who danced and sung before
him. He was dizzy with joy. "All-all this," he
exulted, "belongs to me. And to think that if I had
listened to the Talisman of Solomon I would have had'
none of it."
That was the way he came back to the treasure of the
ancient kings of Egypt, and to the palace of enchantment
that his father had quitted.
For seven months he lived a life of joy and delight,
surrounded by crowds of courtiers as though he were a
king, and going from pleasure to pleasure without end.
Nor had he any fear of an end coming to it, for he knew
that his treasure was inexhaustible. He made friends
with the princes and nobles of the land. From far and
wide people came to visit him, and the renown of his
magnificence filled all the world. When men would
praise any one they would say, He is as rich," or as
"magnificent," or as "generous, as Aben Hassen the
So for seven months he lived a life of joy and delight;
then one morning he .awakened and found everything
changed to grief and mourning. Where the day before
had been laughter, to-day was crying. Where the day
before had been mirth, to-day was lamentation. All the
city was shrouded in gloom, and everywhere was weeping
Seven black slaves stood on guard near Aben Hassen
the Fool as he lay upon his couch. "What means all
this sorrow ? said he to one of the slaves.
Instantly all the slaves began howling and beating
their heads, and he to whom the young man had spoken
fell down with his face in the dust, and lay there twisting
and writhing like a worm.
He has asked the question I" howled the slaves-
"he has asked the question !"
"Are you mad?" cried the young man. What is
the matter with you ? "
At the doorway of the room stood a beautiful female
slave, bearing in her hands a jewelled basin of gold, filled
with rose-water, and a fine linen napkin for the young
man to wash and dry his hands upon. "Tell me," said
the young man, "what means all this sorrow and lamen-
tation ? "
Instantly the beautiful slave dropped the golden basin
upon the stone floor, and began shrieking and tearing her
clothes. He has asked the question !" she screamed-
" he has asked the question !"
The young man began to grow frightened; he arose
from his couch, and with uneven steps went out into the
anteroom. There he found his chamberlain waiting for
him with a crowd of attendants and courtiers. Tell
me," said Aben Hassen the Fool, "why are you all so,
sorrowful ? "
Instantly they who stood waiting began crying and
tearing their clothes and beating their hands. As for
the chamberlain-he was a reverend old man-his eyes
sparkled with anger, and his fingers twitched as though
he would have struck if he had dared. "What," he
cried, "art thou not contented with all thou hast and
with all that we do for thee without asking the forbidden
question ? "
Thereupon he tore his cap from his head and flung it
upon the ground, and began beating himself violently
upon the head with great outcrying.
Aben Hassen the Fool, not knowing what to think or
what was to happen, ran back into the bedroom again.
"I think everybody in this place has gone mad," said he.
" Nevertheless, if I do not find out what it all means, I
shall go mad myself."
Then he bethought himself, for the first time since he
came to that land, of the Talisman of Solomon.
Tell me, 0 Talisman," said he, why all these people.
weep and wail so continuously ?"
"Rest content," said the Talisman of Solomon, "with
knowing that which concerns thine own self, and seek
THE TALISMAN OF SOLOMON
not to find an answer that will be to thine own undoing.
Be thou also further advised : do not question the Demon
"Fool that I am," said the young man, stamping his
foot; "here am I wasting all this time when, if I had
but thought of Zadok at first, he would have told me all."
Then he called aloud, "Zadok Zadok Zadok I "
Instantly the ground shook beneath his feet, the dust
rose in clouds, and there stood Zadok as black as ink,
and with eyes that shone like fire.
"Tell me," said the young man; "I command thee to
tell me, 0 Zadok I why are the people all gone mad this
morning, and why do they weep and wail, and why do
they go crazy when I do but ask them why they are so
"I will tell thee," said Zadok. Seven-and-thirty
years ago there was a queen over this land-the most
beautiful that ever was seen. Thy father, who was the
wisest and most cunning magician in the world, turned
her into stone, and with her all the attendants in her
palace. No one since that time has been permitted to
enter the palace-it is forbidden for any one even to ask a
question concerning it; but every year, on the day on which
the queen was turned to stone, the whole land mourns with
weeping and wailing. And now thou knowest all "
"What you tell me," said the young man, "passes
wonder. But tell me further, 0 Zadok, is it possible for
me to see this queen whom my father turned to stone? "
Nothing is easier," said Zadok.
"Then," said the young man, "I command you to
take me to where she is, so that I may see her with mine
I hear and obey," said the Demon.
He seized the young man by the girdle, and in an
instant flew away with him to a hanging-garden that lay
before the queen's palace.
"Thou art the first man," said Zadok, who has seen
what thou art about to see for seven-and-thirty years.
Come, I will show thee a queen, the most beautiful that
the eyes of man ever looked upon."
He led the way, and the young man followed, filled
with wonder and astonishment. Not a sound was to be
heard, not a thing moved, but silence hung like a veil
between the earth and the sky.
Following the Demon, the young man ascended a flight
of steps, and so entered the vestibule of the palace.
There stood guards in armour of brass and silver and
gold. But they were without life-they were all of stone
as white as alabaster. Thence they passed through room
after room and apartment after apartment, crowded with
courtiers and nobles and lords in their robes of office,
magnificent beyond fancying, but each silent and motion-
less-each a stone as white as alabaster. At last they
entered an apartment in the very centre of the palace.
There sat seven-and-forty female attendants around a
couch of purple and gold. Each of the seven-and-forty
was beautiful beyond what the young man could have
believed possible, and each was clad in a garment of silk
as white as snow, embroidered with threads of silver and
studded with glistening diamonds. But each sat silent
and motionless-each was a stone as white as alabaster.
Upon the couch in the centre of the apartment reclined
a queen with a crown of gold upon her head. She lay
there motionless, still. She was cold and dead-of stone
as white as marble. The young man approached and
looked into her face, and when he looked his breath
became faint and his heart grew soft within him like wax
in a flame of fire.
He sighed; he melted; the tears burst from his eyes
and ran down his cheeks. "Zadok !" he cried-" Zadok I
Zadok! What have you done to show me this wonder
of beauty and love Alas that I have seen her; for the
world is nothing to me now. 0 Zadok I that she were
flesh and blood, instead of cold stone! Tell me, Zadok,
I command you to tell me, was she once really alive as I
am alive, and did my father truly turn her to stone as she
lies here ? "
"She was really alive as thou art alive, and he did
truly transform her to this stone," said Zadok.
"And tell me," said the young man, "can she never
become alive again ? "
She can become alive, and it lies with you to make
her alive," said the Demon. "Listen, 0 master. Thy
father possessed a wand, half of silver and half of gold.
Whatsoever he touched with silver became converted to
stone, such as thou seest all around thee here; but what-
soever, 0 master, he touched with the gold, it became
alive, even if it were a dead stone."
"Tell me, Zadok," cried the young man; I command
you to tell me, where is that wand of silver and gold ?"
"I have it with me," said Zadok.
"Then give it to me; I command you to give it to
"I hear and obey," said Zadok. He drew from his
girdle a wand, half of gold and half of silver, as he spoke,
and gave it to the young man.
"Thou mayst go now, Zadok," said the young man,
trembling with eagerness.
Zadok laughed and vanished. The young man stood
for a while looking down at the beautiful figure of alabaster.
Then he touched the lips with the golden tip of the wand.
In an instant there came a marvellous change. He saw
the stone melt, and begin to grow flexible and soft. He
saw it become warm, and the cheeks and lips grow red
with life. Meantime a murmur had begun to rise all
through the palace. It grew louder and louder-it became
a shout. The figure of the queen that had been stone
opened its eyes.
"Who are you ?" it said.
Aben Haasen the Fool fell upon his knees. I am he
who was sent to bring you to life," he said. My father
turned you to cold stone, and I-I have brought you back
to warm life again."
The queen smiled-her teeth sparkled like pearls. If
you have brought me to life, then I am yours," she said,
and she kissed him upon the lips.
He grew suddenly dizzy; the world swam before his
For seven days nothing was heard in the town but
rejoicing and joy. The young man lived in a golden
cloud of delight. "And to think," said he, "if I had
listened to that accursed Talisman of Solomon, called
'The Wise,' all this happiness, this ecstasy that is now
mine, would have been lost to me."
"Tell me, beloved," said the queen, upon the morning
of the seventh day-" thy father once possessed all the
THE TALISMAN OF SOLOMON
hidden treasure of the ancient kings of Egypt-tell me, is
it now thine as it was once his ?"
"Yes," said the young man, it is now all mine as it
was once all his."
"And do you really love me as you say? "
"Yes," said the young man, and ten thousand times
more than I say."
"Then, as you love me, I beg one boon of you. It is
that you show me this treasure of which I have heard so
much, and which we are to enjoy together."
The young man was drunk with happiness. "Thou
shalt see it all," said he.
Then, for the first time, the Talisman spoke without being
questioned. Fool!" it cried; "wilt thou not be advised?"
"Be silent," said the young man. Six times, vile
thing, you would have betrayed me. Six times you would
have deprived me of joys that should have been mine,
and each was greater than that which went before. Shall
I now listen the seventh time? Now," said he to the
queen, "I will show you our treasure." He called aloud,
"Zadok, Zadok, Zadok "
Instantly the ground shook beneath their feet, and dust
rose in clouds, and Zadok appeared, as black as ink, and
with eyes that shone like coals of fire.
I command you," said the young man, to carry the
queen and myself to the garden where my treasure lies
Zadok laughed aloud. I hear thee and obey thee,
master," said he.
He seized th'e queen and the young man by the girdle,
and in an instant transported them to the garden and to
"Thou art where thou commandest to be," said the
The young man immediately drew a circle upon the
ground with his finger-tip. He struck his heel upon the
circle. The ground opened, disclosing the steps leading
downward. The young man descended the steps with
the queen behind him, and behind them both came the
The young man opened the door of adamant and entered
the first of the vaulted rooms.
When the queen saw the huge basin full of silver
treasure, her cheeks and her forehead flushed as red as
They went into the next room, and when the queen saw
the basin of gold her face turned as white as ashes.
They went into the third room, and when the queen
saw the basin of jewels and the six golden statues her
face turned as blue as lead, and her eyes shone green like
"Are you content ?" asked the young man.
The queen looked about her. "No!" cried she,
hoarsely, pointing to the closed door that had never been
opened, and whereon were engraved these words:
"Behold! Beyond this door is that alone which shall
satisfy all thy desires."
"No!" cried she. "What is it that lies behind yon
"I do not know," said the young man.
"Then open the door, and let me see what lies within."
I cannot open the door," said he. How can I open
the door, seeing that there is no lock nor key to it ? "
"If thou dost not open the door," said the queen, "all
is over between thee and me. So do as I bid thee, or
leave me for ever."
They had both forgotten that the Demon Zadok was
there. Then the young man bethought himself of the
Talisman of Solomon. "Tell me, 0 Talisman," said he,
how shall I open yonder door? "
Oh, wretched one!" cried the Talisman, "oh,
wretched one! fly while there is yet time-fly, for thy
doom is near! Do not push the door open, for it is not
The young man struck his head with his clenched fist.
"What a fool am I!" he cried. "Will I never learn
wisdom? Here have I been coming to this place seven
months, and have never yet thought to try whether yonder
door was locked or not !"
Open the door !" cried the queen.
They went forward together. The young-man pushed
the door with his hand. It opened swiftly and silently,
and they entered.
Within was a narrow room as red as blood. A flaming
lamp hung from the ceiling above. The young man
stood as though turned to stone, for there stood a gigantic
Black Demon with a napkin wrapped around his loins
and a scimitar in his right hand, the blade of which
gleamed like lightning in the flame of the lamp. Before
him lay a basket filled with sawdust.
When the queen saw what she saw she screamed in a
loud voice, "Thou hast found it! thou hast found it!
Thou hast found what alone can satisfy all thy desires
Strike, 0 slave "
The young man heard the Demon Zadok give a yell of
THE TALISMAN OF SOLOMON
laughter. He saw a whirl and a flash, and then he knew
The Black had struck-the blade had fallen, and the
head of Aben Hassen the Fool rolled into the basket of
sawdust that stood waiting for it.
"AYE, aye," said St. George, "and so it should end.
For what was your Aben Hassen the Fool but a heathen
Paniem ? Thus should the heads of all the like be chopped
off from their shoulders. Is there not some one here to tell
us a fair story about a saint?"
For the matter of that," said the Lad who fiddled when
the Jew was in the bramble-bush--"for the matter of that I
know a very good story that begins about a saint and a
Say you so ?" said St. George. Well, let us have it.
But stay, friend, thou hast no ale in thy pot. Wilt thou
not let me pay for having it ;......'? "
That," said the Lad who fiddled when the Jew was in the
bramble-bush, may be as you please, Sir Kmnght; and, to
tell the truth, I will be mightily glad for a drop to moisten
my :- ...:' withal."
But," said Fortunatus, "you have not told us what the
story is to be about."
It is," said the Lad who fiddled for the Jew in the
4',q ll-Luck and the Fiddler
"i', .. ONCE upon a time St. Nicholas
If'. came down into the world to take a
; .1' peep at the old place and see how
.'' things looked in the spring-time.
1 if, ~ On he stepped along the road to the
town where he used to live, for he
had a notion to find out whether
things were going on nowadays as
they one time did. By-and-by he
came to a cross-road, and who
S. should he see sitting there but Ill-
Luck himself. Ill-Luck's face was
as grey as ashes, and his hair as
white as snow-for he is as old as
,. Grandfather Adam-and two great
wings grew out of his shoulders-
for he flies fast and comes quickly
to those whom he visits, does Ill-
Now, St. Nicholas had a pocketful
of hazel-nuts, which he kept crack-
ing and eating as he trudged along the road, and just
then he came upon one with a worm-hole in it. When
he saw Ill-Luck it came into his head to do a good turn
to poor sorrowful man.
"Good-morning, Ill-Luck," says he.
Good-morning, St. Nicholas," says Ill-Luck.
"You look as hale and strong as ever," says St.
"Ah, yes," says Ill-Luck, I find plenty to do in this
world of woe."
"They tell me," says St. Nicholas, "that you can go
wherever you choose, even if it be through a key-hole;
now, is that so ?"
"Yes," says Ill-Luck, it is."
"Well, look now, friend," says St. Nicholas, "could
you go into this hazel-nut if you chose to ? *
"Yes," says Ill-Luck, I could indeed."
I should like to see you," says St. Nicholas; for
then I should be of a mind to believe what people say of
"Well," says Ill-Luck, "I have not much time to be
pottering and playing upon Jack's fiddle; but to oblige
an old friend "-thereupon he made himself small and
smaller, and-phst! he was in the nut before you could
Then what do you think St. Nicholas did? In his
hand he held a little plug of wood, and no sooner had
Ill-Luck entered the nut than he stuck the plug in the
hole, and there was man's enemy as tight as a fly in a
So I says St. Nicholas, that's a piece of work well
done." Then he tossed the hazel-nut under the roots of
an oak-tree near by, and went his way.
And that is how this story begins.
, Well, the hazel-nut lay and lay and lay, and all the
time that it lay there nobody met with ill-luck; but one
day who should come travelling that way but a rogue of
a Fiddler, with his fiddle under his arm. The day was
warm, and he was tired; so down he sat under the shade
of the oak-tree to rest his legs. By-and-bye he heard a
little shrill voice piping and crying, Let me out let me
out let me out! "
The Fiddler looked up and down, but he could see no-
body. "Who are you ?" says he.
I am Ill-Luck! Let me out! let me out! "
"Let you out? says the Fiddler. "Not I; if you
are bottled up here it is the better for all of us;" and,
so saying, he tucked his fiddle under his arm and off he
But before he had gone six steps he stopped. He was
one of your peering, prying sort, and liked more than a
little to know all that was to be known about this or that
or the other thing that he chanced to see or hear. "I
wonder where Ill-Luck can be, to be in such a tight
place as he seems to be caught in," says he to himself;
and back he came again. Where are you, Ill-Luck ?"
Here I am," says Ill-Luck ; "here in this hazel-nut,
under the roots of the oak-tree."
Thereupon the Fiddler laid aside his fiddle and bow,
and fell to poking and prying under the roots until he
found the nut. Then he began twisting and turning it in
his fingers, looking first on one side and then on the
other, and all the while Ill-Luck kept crying, Let me out!
let me out! "
It was not long before the Fiddler found the little
ILL-LUCK AND THE FIDDLER
wooden plug, and then nothing would do but he must take
a peep inside the nut to see if Ill-Luck was really there.
So he picked and pulled at the wooden plug, until at last
out it came; and-phst pop out came Ill-Luck along
Plague take the Fiddler! say I.
Listen," says Ill-Luck. It has been many a long
day that I have been in that hazel-nut, and you are the
man that has let me out; for once in a way I will do a
good turn to a poor human body." Therewith, and with-
out giving the Fiddler time to speak a word, Ill-Luck
caught him up by the belt, and-whiz away he flew like
a bullet, over hill and over valley, over moor and over
mountain, so fast that not enough wind was left in the
Fiddler's stomach to say Bo "
By-and-bye he came to a garden, and there he let the
Fiddler drop on the soft grass below. Then away he flew
to attend to other matters of greater need.
When the Fiddler had gathered his wits together, and
himself to his feet, he saw that he lay in a beautiful
garden of flowers and fruit-trees and marble walks and
what not, and that at the end of it stood a great splendid
house, all built of white marble, with a fountain in front
and peacocks strutting about on the lawn.
Well, the Fiddler smoothed down his hair and brushed
his clothes a bit, and off he went to see what was to be
seen at the grand house at the end of the garden.
He entered the door, and nobody said no to him.
Then he passed through one room after another, and each
was finer than the one he left behind. Many servants
stood around; but they only bowed, and never asked
whence he came. At last he came to a room where a
little old man sat at a table. The table was spread with
a feast that smelled so good that it brought tears to the
Fiddler's eyes and water to his mouth, and all the plates
were of pure gold. The little old man sat alone, but
another place was spread, as though he were expecting
some one. As the Fiddler came in the little old man
"Nay," said the little old man, "do not say that. Sit
down to the table and eat; and when I have told you all,
you will say it was not Ill-Luck, but Good-Luck, that
The Fiddler had his own mind about that; but, all the
same, down he sat at the table, and fell to with knife and
fork at the good things, as though he had not had a bite
to eat for a week of Sundays.
"I am the richest man in the world," says the little old
man after a while.
ILL-LUCK AND THE FIDDLER
"I am glad to hear it," says the Fiddler.
"You may well be," said the old man, "for I am all
alone in the world, and without wife or child. And this
morning I said to myself that the first body that came to
my house I would take for a son-or a daughter, as the
case might be. You are the first, and so you shall live
with me as long as I live, and after I am gone everything
that I have shall be yours."
The Fiddler did nothing but stare with open eyes and
mouth, as though he would never shut either again.
Well, the Fiddler lived with the old man for maybe
three or four days as snug and happy a life as ever a
mouse passed in a green cheese. As for the gold and
silver and jewels-why, they were as plentiful in that
house as dust in a mill! Everything the Fiddler wanted
came to his hand. He lived high, and slept soft and
warm, and never knew what it was to want either more
or less, or great or small. In all of those three or four
days he did nothing but enjoy himself with might and
But by-and-by he began to wonder where all the good
things came from. Then, before long, he fell to pestering
the old man with questions about the matter.
At first the old man put him off with short answers, but
the Fiddler was a master-hand at finding out anything
that he wanted to know. He dinned and drummed and
worried until flesh and blood could stand it no longer.
So at last the old man said that he would show him the
treasure-house where all his wealth came from, and at
that the Fiddler was tickled beyond measure.
The old man took a key from behind the door and led
him out into the garden. There in a corner by the wall
was a great trap-door of iron. The old man fitted the
key to the lock and turned it. He lifted the door, and
then went down a steep flight of stone steps, and the
Fiddler followed close at his heels. Down below it was
as light as day, for in the centre of the room hung a
great lamp that shone with a bright light and lit up all
the place as bright as day. In the floor were set three
great basins of marble : one was nearly full of silver, one
of gold, and one of gems of all sorts.
"All this is mine," said the old man, "and after I am
gone it shall be yours. It was left to me as I will leave
it to you, and in the meantime you may come and go as
you choose and fill your pockets whenever you wish to.
But there is one thing you must not do : you must never
open that door yonder at the back of the room. Should
you do so, Ill-Luck will be sure to overtake you."
Oh no The Fiddler would never think of doing such
a thing as opening the door. The silver and gold and
jewels were enough for him. But since the old man had
given him leave, he would just help himself to a few of
the fine things. So he stuffed his pockets full, and then
he followed the old man up the steps and out into the
It took him maybe an hour to count all the money and
jewels he had brought up with him. After he had done
that, he began to wonder what was inside of the little
door at the back of the room. First he wondered; then
he began to grow curious; then he began to itch and
tingle and burn as though fifty thousand I-want-to-know
nettles were sticking into him from top to toe. At last
he could stand it no longer. "I'll just go down yonder,"
says he, "and peep through the key-hole; perhaps I can
see what is there without opening the door."
So down he took the key, and off he marched to the
garden. He opened the trap-door, and went down the
steep steps to the room below. There was the door at
the end of the room, but when he
7 came to look there was no key-hole
to it. "Pshaw !" said he, "here
is a pretty state of affairs. Tut I
tut! tut! Well, since I have come
so far, it would be a pity to turn
S back without seeing more." So he
Opened the door and peeped in.
I "Pooh!" said the Fiddler, "there's
nothing there, after all," and he
opened the door wide.
"o rBefore him was a great long
Spassage-way, and at the far end of
it he could see a spark of light as
though the sun were shining there.
He listened, and after a while he
heard a sound like the waves beat-
ing on the shore. "Well," says
he, "this is the most curious thing
I have seen for a long time. Since
I have come so far, I may as well see the end of it."
So he entered the passage-way, and closed the door behind
He went on and on, and the spark of light kept grow-
ing larger and larger, and by-and-bye-pop out he came
at the other end of the passage.
Sure enough, there he stood on the sea-shore, with the
ILL-LUCK AND THE FIDDLER
waves beating and dashing on the rocks. He stood look-
ing and wondering to find himself in such a place, when
all of a sudden something came with a whiz and a rush
and caught him by the belt, and away he flew like a
By-and-bye he managed to screw his head around and
look up, and there it was Ill-Luck that had him. "I
thought so," said the Fiddler; and then he gave over
Well, on and on they flew, over hill and valley, over
moor and mountain, until they came to another garden,
and there Ill-Luck let the Fiddler drop.
Swash Down he fell into the top of an apple-tree,
and there he hung in the branches.
It was the garden of a royal castle, and all had been
weeping and woe (though they were beginning now to
pick up their smiles again), and this was the reason
The king of that country had died, and no one was left
behind him but the queen. But she was a prize, for not
only was the kingdom hers, but she was as young as a
spring apple and as pretty as a picture; so that there
was no end of those who would have liked to have had
her, each man for his own. Even that day there were
three princes at the castle, each one wanting the queen
to marry him; and the wrangling and bickering and
squabbling that was going on was enough to deafen a
body. The poor young queen was tired to death with it
all, and so she had come out into the garden for a bit of
rest; and there she sat under the shade of an apple-tree,
fanning herself and crying, when-
Swash Down fell the Fiddler into the apple-tree and
down fell a dozen apples,
popping and tumbling
S'.about the queen's ears.
.;":'''. The queen looked up
.and screamed, and the
Fiddler climbed down.
-' "Where did you come
I' ~ from ? said she.
"Oh, Ill-Luck brought
me," said the Fiddler.
Nay," said the queen,
"do not say so. You fell
from heaven, for I saw it
With my eyes and heard
:.:_ .- it with my ears. I see
'how it is now. You were
sent hither from heaven
to be my husband, and
-' "- my husband you shall be.
You shall be king of this
,'' country, half-and-half
------' with me as queen, and
i. :'", shall sit on a throne
You can guess whether
S/ ,- or not that was music to
the Fiddler's ears.
So the princes were
sent packing, and the
Fiddler was married to the queen, and reigned in that
Well, three or four days passed, and all was as sweet
ILL-LUCK AND THE FIDDLER
and happy as a spring day. But at the end of that time
the Fiddler began to wonder what was to be seen in the
castle. The queen was very fond of him, and was glad
enough to show him all the fine things that were to be
seen; so hand in hand they went everywhere, from garret
But you should have seen how splendid it all was!
The Fiddler felt more certain than ever that it was better
to be a king than to be the richest man in the world, and
he was as glad as glad could be that Ill-Luck had brought
him from the rich little old man over yonder to this.
So he saw everything in the castle but one thing.
"What is behind that door?" said he.
Ah! that," said the queen, you must not ask or wish
to know. Should you open that door Ill-Luck will be
sure to overtake you."
Pooh said the Fiddler, "I don't care to know,
anyhow," and off they went, hand in hand.
Yes, that was a very fine thing to say; but before an
hour had gone by the Fiddler's head began to hum and
buzz like a beehive. "I don't believe," said he, "there
would be a grain of harm in my peeping inside that door;
all the same, I will not do it. I will just go down and
peep through the keyhole." So off he went to do as he
said; but there was no keyhole to that door, either.
"'Why, look!" says he, "it is just like the door at the
rich man's house over yonder; I wonder if it is the same
inside as outside," and he opened the door and peeped in.
Yes ; there was the long passage and the spark of light
at the far end, as though the sun were shining. He
cocked his head to one side and listened. Yes," said he,
I think I hear the water rushing, but I am not sure; I
will just go a little farther in and listen," and so he entered
and closed the door behind him. Well, he went on and
on until---pop I there he was out at the farther end, and
before he knew what he was about he had stepped out
upon the sea-shore, just as he had done before.
Whiz I whirr! Away flew the Fiddler like a bullet,
and there was Ill-Luck carrying him by the belt again.
Away they sped, over hill and valley, over moor and
mountain, until the Fiddler's head grew so dizzy that he
had to shut his eyes. Suddenly Ill-Luck let him drop,
and down he fell-thump bump !-on the hard ground.
Then he opened his eyes and sat up, and, lo and behold !
there he was, under the oak tree whence he had started
in the first place. There lay his fiddle, just as he had
left it. He picked it up and ran his fingers over the
strings-trum, twang! Then he got to his feet and
brushed the dirt and grass from his knees. He tucked
his fiddle under his arm, and off he stepped upon the way
he had been going at first.
"Just to think! said he, "I would either have been
the richest man in the world, or else I would have been a
'.,-, if it had not been for Ill-Luck."
And that is the way we all of us talk.
DR. FAUSTUS had sat all the while neither drinking
ale nor smoking tobacco, but with his hands folded, and in
silence. I know not why it is," said he, but that story of
yours, my friend, brings to my mind a story of a man whom
I once knew-a great magician in his time, and a necro-
mancer and a chemist and an alchemist and mathematician
and a rhetorician, an astronomer, an astrologer, and a
philosopher as well."
'Tis a long list of .. ......," said old Bidpai.
"'Tis not as long as was his head," said Dr. Faustus.
It would be good for us all to hear a story of such a
man," said old Bidpai.
Nay," said Dr. Faustus, the story is not altogether of
the man himself, but rather of a pupil who came to learn
wisdom of him."
And the name of your story is what?" said Fortun-
It hath no name," said Dr. Faustus.
Nay," said St. George, everything must have a name."
It hath no name," said Dr. Faustus. "But I shalt
give it a name, and it shall be-
-' IN the old, old days when
men were wiser than they are
in these times, there lived a
S\ great philosopher and magi-
cian, by name Nicholas Flamel.
Not only did he know all the
r ? actual sciences, but the black
/ arts as well, and magic, and
what not. He conjured demons
so that when a body passed
-> the house of a moonlight night
a body might see imps, great
f and small, little and big, sit-
i ~ting on the chimney stacks
and the ridge-pole, clattering
their heels on the tiles and
9 chatting together.
He could change iron and lead into silver and gold;
he discovered the elixir of life, and might have been living
even to this day had he thought it worth while to do
There was a student at the university whose name was
Gebhart, who was so well acquainted with algebra and
geometry that he could tell at a single glance how many
drops of water there were in a bottle of wine. As for
Latin and Greek, he could patter them off like his A B C's.
Nevertheless, he was not satisfied with the things he knew,
but was for learning the things that no schools could
teach him. So one day he came knocking at Nicholas
"Come in," said the wise man, and there Gebhart
found him sitting in the midst of his books and bottles
and diagrams and dust and chemicals and cobwebs,
making strange figures upon the table with jackstraws and
a piece of chalk-for your true wise man can squeeze
more learning out of jackstraws and a piece of chalk than
we common folk can get out of all the books in the
No one else was in the room but the wise man's servant,
whose name was Babette.
What is it you want ?" said the wise man, looking at
Gebhart over the rim of his spectacles.
"Master," said Gebhart, I have studied day after day
at the university, and from early in the morning until late
at night, so that my head has hummed and my eyes were
sore, yet I have not learned those things that I wish most
of all to know-the arts that no one but you can teach.
Will you take me as your pupil ?"
The wise man shook his head.
Many would like to be as wise as that," said he, and
few there be who can become so. Now tell me. Suppose
all the riches of the world were offered to you, would you
rather be wise ? "
Suppose you might have all the rank and power of a
king or of an emperor, would you rather be wise ? "
Suppose I undertook to teach you, would you give up
everything of joy and of pleasure to follow me ? "
Perhaps you are hungry," said the master.
Yes," said the student, "I am."
"Then, Babette, you may bring some bread and
It seemed to Gebhart that he had learned all that
Nicholas Flamel had to teach him.
It was in the grey of the dawning, and the master took
the pupil by the hand and led him up the rickety stairs
to the roof of the house, where nothing was to be seen
but grey sky, high roofs, and chimney stacks from which
the smoke rose straight into the still air.
"Now," said the master, "I have taught you nearly all
of the science that I know, and the time has come to show
Syou the wonderful thing that has been waiting for us from
the beginning when time was. You have given up wealth
and the world and pleasure and joy and love for the sake
of wisdom. Now, then, comes the last test-whether you
can remain faithful to me to the end; if you fail in it, all
is lost that you have gained."
After he had said that he stripped his cloak away from
his shoulders and laid bare the skin. Then he took a
bottle of red liquor and began bathing his shoulder-blades
with it; and as Gebhart, squatting upon the ridge-pole,
looked, he saw two little lumps bud out upon the smooth
skin, and then grow and grow and grow until they became
two great wings as white as snow.
"Now, then," said the master, "take me by the belt and
grip fast, for there is a long, long journey before us, and
if you should lose your head and let go your hold, you
will fall and be dashed to pieces."
Then he spread the two great wings, and away he flew
as fast as the wind, with Gebhart hanging to his belt.
Over hills, over dales, over mountains, over moors he
flew, with the brown earth lying so far below that horses
and cows looked like pismires and men like fleas.
Then, by-and-by, it was over the ocean they were
crossing, with the great ships that pitched and tossed
below looking like chips in a puddle in rainy weather.
At last they came to a strange land, far, far away, and
there the master lit upon a sea-shore where the sand
was as white as silver. As soon as his feet touched the
hard ground the great wings were gone like a puff of
smoke, and the wise man walked like any other body.
At the edge of the sandy beach was a great, high,
naked cliff; and the only way of reaching the top was by
a flight of stone steps, as slippery as glass, cut in the
The wise man led the way, and the student followed
close at his heels, every now and then slipping and
stumbling, so that, had it not been for the help that the
master gave him, he would have fallen more than once
and have been dashed to pieces upon the rocks below.
At last they reached the top, and there found themselves
in a desert, without stick of wood or blade of grass, but only
grey stones and skulls and bones bleaching in the sun.
In the middle of the plain was a castle such as the eyes
of man never saw before, for it was built all of crystal
from roof to cellar. Around it was a high wall of steel,
and in the wall were seven gates of polished brass.
The wise man led the way straight to the middle gate
of the seven, where there hung a horn of pure silver,
which he set to his lips. He blew a blast so loud and
shrill that it made Gebhart's ears tingle. In an instant
there sounded a great rumble and grumble like the noise
of loud thunder, and the gates of brass swung slowly
back, as though of themselves.
But when Gebhart saw what he saw within the gates,
his heart crumbled away for fear, and his knees knocked
together; for there, in the very middle of the way, stood
a monstrous, hideous dragon, that blew out flames and
clouds of smoke from his gaping mouth like a chimney
But the wise master was as cool as smooth water; he
thrust his hand into the bosom of his jacket and drew
forth a little black box, which he flung straight into the
Snap !--the dragon swallowed the box.
The next moment it gave a great, loud, terrible cry,
and, clapping and rattling its wings, leaped into the air
and flew away, bellowing like a bull.
If Gebhart had been wonder-struck at seeing the out-
side of the castle, he was ten thousand times more amazed
to see the inside thereof. For, as the master led the way
and he followed, he passed through four-and-twenty
rooms, each one more wonderful than the other. Every-
where was gold and silver and dazzling jewels that glis-
tened so brightly that one had to shut one's eyes to their
ILL-LUCK AND THE FIDDLER
sparkle. Beside all this, there were silks and satins and
velvets and laces and crystal and ebony and sandal-wood
that smelt sweeter than musk and rose leaves. All the
wealth of the world brought together into one place could
not make such riches as Gebhart saw with his two eyes in
these four-and-twenty rooms. His heart beat fast within
At last they reached a little door of solid iron, beside
which hung a sword with a blade that shone like lightning.
The master took the sword in one hand and laid the other
upon the latch of the door. Then he turned to Gebhart
and spoke for the first time since they had started upon
their long journey.
In this room," said he, you will see a strange thing
happen, and in a little while I shall be as one dead. As
soon as that comes to pass, go you straightway through to
the room beyond, where you will find upon a marble table
a goblet of water and a silver dagger. Touch nothing
else, and look at nothing else, for if you do, all will be
lost to both of us. Bring the water straightway, and
sprinkle my face with it, and when that is done you and I
will be the wisest and greatest men that ever lived, for I
will make you equal to myself in all that I know. So
now swear to do what I have just bid you, and not turn
aside a hair's-breadth in the going and the coming.
I swear," said Gebhart, and crossed his heart.
Then the master opened the door and entered, with
Gebhart close at his heels.
In the centre of the room was a great red cock, with
eyes that shone like sparks of fire. So soon as he saw the
master he flew at him, screaming fearfully, and spitting
out darts of fire that blazed and sparkled like lightning.
It was a dreadful battle between the master and the cock.
Up and down they fought, and here and there. Some-
times the student could see the wise man whirling and
striking with his sword; and then again he would be
hidden in a sheet of flame. But after a while he made a
lucky stroke, and off flew the cock's head. Then, lo and
behold! instead of a cock it was a great, hairy, black
demon that lay dead on the floor.
But, though the master had conquered, he looked like
one sorely sick. He was just able to stagger to a couch
that stood by the wall, and there he fell and lay, without
breath or motion, like one dead, and as white as wax.
As soon as Gebhart had gathered his wits together he
remembered what the master had said about the other
The door of it was also of iron. He opened it and
passed within, and there saw two great tables or blocks
of polished marble. Upon one was the dagger and a
goblet of gold brimming with water. Upon the other lay
the figure of a woman, and as Gebhart looked at her he
thought her more beautiful than any thought or dream
could picture. But her eyes were closed, and she lay like
a lifeless figure of wax.
After Gebhart had gazed at her a long, long time, he
took up the goblet and the dagger from the table and
turned towards the door.
Then, before he left that place, he thought that he
would have just one more look at the beautiful figure.
So he did, and gazed and gazed until his heart melted
away within him like a lump of butter; and, hardly know-
ing what he did, he stooped and kissed the lips.
Instantly he did so a great humming sound filled the
whole castle, so sweet and musical that it made him
tremble to listen. Then suddenly the figure opened its
eyes and looked straight at him.
At last she said; have you come at last ?"
"Yes," said Gebhart, I have come."
Then the beautiful woman arose and stepped down
from the table to the floor; and if Gebhart thought her
beautiful before, he thought her a thousand times more
beautiful now that her eyes looked into his.
Listen," said she. I have been asleep for hundreds
upon hundreds of years, for so it was fated to be until
he should come who was to bring me back to life again.
You are he, and now you shall live with me for ever. In
this castle is the wealth gathered by the king of the
genii, and it is greater than all the riches of the world.
It and the castle likewise shall be yours. I can transport
everything into any part of the world you choose, and
can by my arts make you prince or king or emperor.
Stop," said Gebhart. I must first do as my master
He led the way into the other room, the lady following
him, and so they both stood together by the couch where
the wise man lay. When the lady saw his face she cried
out in a loud voice : "It is the great master! What are
you going to do ?"
I am going to sprinkle his face with this water," said
"Stop!" said she. Listen to what I have to say.
In your hand you hold the water of life and the dagger of
death. The master is not dead, but sleeping; if you
sprinkle that water upon him he will awaken, young,