The Baldvwm Library
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HELGA IN TI-IE FAIRY KING'S PARADISE.
TALES AND LEGENDS
FROM THE GERMAN OF,VILLAMARIA
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS
MARCUS WARD & CO., 67 & 68, CHANDOS STREET
AND ROYAL ULSTER WORKS, BELFAST
BARBAROSSA'S YOUTHFUL DREAM 7
KING LAURIN 32
THE DWARF OF VENICE 54
RHINE GOLD 00
THE FRIENDSHIP OF THE DWARFS-
PART I. THE DYING DWARF-QUEEN 15
,, II. THE FRIENDS IN THE ROCK 124
THE FLOWER OF ICELAND 142
THE SEA-FAIRY 172
THE FAITHFUL GOBLIN 201
THE FALLEN BELL 223
THE LAST HOME OF THE GIANTS 249
HELGA IN THE FAIRY KING'S PARADISE (p. r55) Fron/ispicce.
FREDERICK TAKES LEAVE OF GELA 7
BARBAROSSA IN THE HOLY LAND 21
BARBAROSSA AND GELA IN THE KYFFHAUSER 27
VRENELI IN KING LAURIN'S ROSE-GARDEN 32
KING LAURIN IN VRENELI'S COTTAGE 43
THE DWARF OF VENICE TAKES HIS DEPARTURE FOR HIS NATIVE
HANS SEES KING LAURIN'S KINGDOM IN THE MAGIC MIRROR 63
HANS RECEIVES A HEARTY WELCOME FROM AN OLD FRIEND 92
HACO THROWS THE TREASURE OF THE NIBELUNGEN INTO THE
CHARLEMAGNE MEETS WITH KRIEMHILD
THE COUNTESS MATILDA RESTORES THE DWARF-QUEEN TO
ECKBERT'S WILD RIDE ON KUNO'S HORSE 124
KUNO LISTENS TO THE WISE MAN'S TALK 134
HELGA AT HER MOTHER'S FEET 142
"IN HELGA'S HEART MEMORY CEASED TO THRILL" 5 5
THE OLD MAN BESIDE THE CORPSE OF ANTONIO . 172
ANTONIO IN THE CRYSTAL CASTLE 178
ANTONIO LAYS THE DEAD MAIDEN IN HER LAST RESTING-PLACE 189
FIRST ACQUAINTANCE WITH PUCK 201
"GERO CAUGHT PUCK SUDDENLY AND SET HIM BEFORE HIM ON HIS
THE STORM HURLS THE BELL INTO THE STREAM 223
THE WATER-ELF AND THE LITTLE SOUL ON THE RAFT OF WVATER-
ASLOG RETURNS TO HER FATHER 249
GURU AWAKES THE ROCK TO LIFE .269
FREDERICK TAKES LEAVE OF GELA.
-- ORE than a thousand
years have rolled away
since a castle looked down
-s cheerfully from a height
"; amid the Franconian plains
"i into the well-watered Kinziy
Valley, with its pleasant villages and towns.
8 Barbarossa's YZouz/ful Dream.
It belonged to the powerful Swabian duke Frederick
of Hohenstaufen, whose young and valiant son loved
this the best of all his father's proud castles, and often
left his uncle's splendid palace to hunt in its forests, or
to look down from its lofty oriel window on the blooming
His father and uncle indeed missed him sadly. His
clear blue eye, and the cheerful expression of his noble
countenance, seemed to the two grave and war-weary
men so gladdening to look upon, that they were always
unwilling to let him leave them.
But the young Frederick used to beg them so earnestly
to grant him the freedom of the forest for just this once,
that father and uncle smilingly granted him permission,
though "this once" was often repeated.
So it happened the autumn of that year when Bernard
of Clairvaux passed through Germany, calling prince
and people in words of burning eloquence to aid in the
deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre.
"Just this once!" said young Frederick again; and
King Conrad and Duke Frederick granted him per-
As he bent in courteous farewell to take his uncle's
hand, the king whispered, "Be ready, my Frederick, to
return as soon as my messenger calls thee. Great things
are before us, and I can ill spare thy strong right arm!"
And young Frederick smiled his own cheery smile, and
answered, "I come when my king and lord calls!"
Then he galloped away as if he were bound that day
to ride round the world. His Barbary steed bore him
Barbarossa's Youltful Dream. 9
as on wings through the dark forests of the Spessart,
and as the latest sunbeams sank in the waters of the
Kinzig, he mounted the steep path towards the castle,
and rode over the lowered drawbridge into the court.
Was it really the stags and boars in the vast forests,
or the treasure of rare old manuscripts of the castle
archives, which drew the young prince again and again
to the small and lonely fortress ?
So his father and uncle thought, but they knew not of
his deep unconquerable love for the beautiful Gela, the
daughter of a humble retainer. He had seen her while
resting from the chase in the forest of the Kinzig Valley,
and so great had his love for her become that he was
willing to renounce all dreams of future power and
greatness to live in blissful retirement with the beloved
one whom he could not raise to his own rank.
But the lovers had to guard their secret carefully;
they dared trust no confidant, lest their paradise should
be laid waste before its gates had been fully opened to
admit them. So they breathed their love to none but
The prince passed Gela with cold indifference if he
met her in the castle court or at her work about the
house, and Gela made lowly reverence, as if she were
the meanest of his maids, to him who counted it his
greatest honour to do her service.
But at evening, when Frederick had roamed the forest
since early morning, his bow on his shoulder and his
faithful hounds by his side, the fair Gela might be seen
walking along the high-road with a basket on her arm,
io Barbarossa's Youtifzd Dream.
or with a stock of newly-spun yarn, as if she were going
to seek purchasers in the nearest town. But in the
forest she would leave the broad path, and make her
way through briars and underwood to a height on which
her young prince awaited her beneath the shelter of a
There they would talk happily and innocently till the
last sunbeam was quenched in the Kinzig stream, and the
convent bell resounded through the arches of the forest;
then they would fold their hands in prayer before saying
farewell, in hope of a meeting on the morrow.
So had it been for many a year. Their love remained
unbetrayed, their hope unquenched, their faith unshaken.
In the splendid halls of the palace, amid the proud and
lovely ladies who surrounded the young prince with
flattering marks of favour, the longing after the lonely
forest in the Kinzig Valley and the fair and gentle
loved one never died from his heart.
They had met thus one evening with the old, yet ever
new tenderness. Frederick drew Gela's fair head to his
breast, and spoke to her of the near and blissful future,
which would be theirs in a few weeks, when he would
be of age, and would be able to lead her openly as his
wife to his castle in the fair land of Bavaria, to the
inheritance of his dead mother. And the oak tree
overhead rustled gently, scattering golden leaves on
Gela's beautiful hair, for it was far on in autumn.
When the vesper bell of the forest cloister began to
sound, it was already dark; the moonlight gleamed on
the path, and Gela walked with her lover as far as the
Barbarossa's Yozthful Dream. 11
high-road, supported by his arm. But there the moon
shone so brightly that they had to part, lest some prying
eye should see them. "Meet me to-morrow, dearest!"
said the young prince, once more kissing her blooming
cheek; then Gela tripped lightly down the high-road
towards the valley, while Frederick gazed after her till
she vanished from his. sight, when he called his dogs,
and turned towards the castle.
But there the usual stillness and loneliness had given
place to bustle and confusion. The young prince's aged
tutor, who was the father-confessor and confidential
friend alike of his father and of his uncle, had arrived a
few hours before, accompanied by a troop of horsemen.
Inquiries after the young prince passed impatiently
from mouth to mouth, for the message was one which
called for haste. At last he came riding over the
drawbridge, his handsome face glowing as in a trans-
formation, for his vision of the forest still hovered before
The old chaplain of the brothers of Hohenstaufen had
been long and anxiously awaiting his pupil; now he
hastened to meet him as quickly as his infirmities per-
mitted, and greeted his dear one, who had left him but
a few days before, as if he had not seen him for years.
Then they went together to the room with the oriel
window, for there the young prince liked best to sit, as
it afforded a view of Gela's lattice. They sat long in
confidential conversation, and the light that fell on the
pavement for hours after all others in the castle were
asleep told Gela, who stood at the window opposite, that
12 Barbarossa's Youtkhfiu Dream.
important and serious matters were being discussed by
her dear one and his aged tutor.
Next morning the people flocked out of the castle
chapel, where the old priest who had arrived the
evening before had spoken to them in eloquent words,
and claimed the arm and heart of young and old for the
approaching crusade to the Holy .Land. And not in
vain. Men and youths were ready to venture wealth and
life, and the aged were with difficulty persuaded to
remain at home to till the ground and protect the
women and the little ones.
All 'returned home to arrange their business hastily,
and make needful preparations. One alone remained in
the sacred place. It was Gela, who, when all had left
the chapel, rose from her seat and threw herself prostrate
before the altar, there to pour forth all the anguish of
broken hopes, of parting, and of lonely sorrow that
oppressed her heart.
She lay thus, her hands clasped, and her face uplifted
in an agony of grief. There were light footsteps behind
her, but Gela, lost in sorrow and prayer, heeded them
not. A hand was laid on her shoulder; she looked
up and saw the face of him on whose account she
Gela," said the young prince tenderly and low, as if
in reverence to the holy place-" Gela, we must part!
We must wait a while for the fulfilment of yesterday's
beautiful dream! I can scarcely bear it, and yet I
cannot refuse, either as prince and knight, or as son and
Barbarossa's Youthful Dream. 13
"No," said Gela calmly; "thou must obey, my
Frederick, even though our hearts will bleed."
And thou wilt be'true to me, Gela, and wait patiently
till I come back, and not give thy heart to another ?"
asked the prince, and his voice was full of pain.
"Frederick," said Gela, laying her hand on his
shoulder, "bid me give my life; if it were necessary to
thy happiness, I would give it gladly. Thine will I be
through all the sorrow of separation; and if I die, my
soul will leave heaven at thy call."
Frederick drew her to his heart. "I go content, my
Gela; danger and death cannot harm me, for I am
sheltered by thy love! Farewell till we meet again in
He hastened away to hide the tears that started to
his eyes, and Gela sank again on the altar steps and
bent her head in silent prayer.
She did not perceive the footsteps that once more
broke the stillness of the place, and she only looked up
when a second time a hand was laid on her shoulder.
It was not into Frederick's youthful face that she looked
this time, but into the grave countenance of the aged
priest who had come to call her darling and the people
of the surrounding country to the Holy War.
She shuddered as she thought that he had perhaps
been a listener to their conversation, and had thus dis-
covered the carefully guarded secret.
"Be not afraid, my daughter," said the old man
gently; "I have been an unwilling witness of your
meeting, but your words have fallen into the ear and
14 Barbarossa s Yout/ fil Dream.
heart of a man whose calling makes him the guardian of
many a secret."
Gela breathed more freely.
"Thou art of pure heart, my daughter," continued the
old man mildly; "who could chide thee for giving thy
love to a youth to whom God has given a power to charm
that wins the affection of almost every heart ? But, my
daughter, if thou love him thou must renounce him."
Gela looked up in terror at the priest.
"Yes, renounce him!" he repeated gravely, nodding
his white head as he spoke.
"I cannot, reverend father !" faltered the maiden with
"Canst thou not?" asked the old man still more
earnestly; "canst thou not give up thine own happiness
for his sake, and yet thou art ready to give thy life if
his happiness should demand it ?"
"Oh, reverend father," Gela faltered, raising her hands
to him entreatingly, "look not so stern! You know
not what it is to renounce him, and with him all that I
call happiness. But if his welfare demands it, my heart
shall break without a murmur."
A gentle radiance beamed from the old priest's eyes.
Thou hast well spoken, my daughter," he said gently.
"Frederick loves thee now with the force of his un-
estranged affection, and is ready to sacrifice rank and
worldly prospects for thy sake; but he is a man and a
prince, and, above all, of the house of Hohenstaufen, in
whose soul lies a longing after great and praiseworthy
deeds, though these aspirations are lulled to slumber by
Barbarossa's Youthful Dream. 15
his love for thee. But when he comes to years of man-
hood, he will be unhappy that thou hast kept him from
the tasks incumbent on one of his noble race. And
then, my daughter, not he alone, but all Germany will
blame thee, for every far-seeing eye recognizes already
in this heroic youth the future leader who is destined to
bring this divided realm to unity and greatness. Canst
thou think of the future of thy lover, and of us all, and
yet act but for thine own happiness ?"
Gela raised herself as out of a dream.
"No, my father," she said in a firm voice, though the
light of her eyes seemed quenched as she gazed at the
priest; "no, I renounce him. But if he should ever
think with bitterness of Gela, I ask of you that you will
tell him of this hour, and why I have renounced him;
because I loved his happiness more than myself. May
this sacrifice not be in vain!"
The priest laid his hand, trembling with emotion, on
her beautiful head. "Peace be with thee, my daughter !"
On a dewy May morning, two years after that fare-
well scene in the castle chapel, young Frederick rode
over the drawbridge of the fortress on the height beside
the Kinzig Valley.
The sun of Syria had dyed his white skin with a
deeper hue, the toils of war and grief at dispelled
illusions had drawn a slight furrow in the smooth brow,
but on his flowing beard and hair lay the same golden
splendour, and his blue eyes beamed brightly as of yore.
The castle servants flocked to greet their beloved
16 Barbarossa's Youltful Dream.
young master, who had meantime, through his father's
death, become Duke of Swabia and their feudal lord.
His princely mouth spoke many a gracious word, and
his winning smile hovered among them like a sunbeam.
His eye passed quickly from line to line, till it rested
inquiringly on the features of an old bent man. It was
Gela's father. Then he sprang from his horse, and
ascended the stair to his favourite room.
The butler placed a goblet of the richest wine on the
table, a drink of honour which he kept carefully in the
driest corner of the cellar for the greatest occasions;
and Dame Barbara, the housekeeper, brought in proudly
the delicious pastry which she had prepared for this
festive day; but the young duke gave no heed to these
attentions. He stood in the oriel window, and looked
down at a little lattice in the buildings that surrounded
the castle court. There, in a green window-box, gilly-
flower and rosemary used to bloom, and behind them
he often had watched a face bent over the spinning-wheel
-a face that he had not found surpassed by any even
among the Flowers of the East.
But now all was changed. No blossom sent forth
fragrance; the green box hung empty and half-broken;
the clear lattice panes were blinded, and no dear face
looked through to him in love.
A pang of dread presentiment pierced his heart.
"Who dwells in that room with the blinded window ?"
he asked as calmly as he could of Dame Barbara, who
was rattling her keys to call her young lord's attention
to herself and her masterpiece of culinary skill.
Barbarossa's Youthful Dream. 17
The old woman drew near, and looked at the desolate
window to which the duke's finger pointed.
"Alas my lord duke," said the loquacious old woman,
"Gela used to live there, the good child; but she became
a nun two years ago last autumn, and entered the convent
of St. Clarissa, in the heart of the forest."
Frederick stood for a moment motionless, then he
beckoned silently to the door, for his first sound must
have been a cry of pain.
Barbara went, but her master sank into the window-
seat, his gaze fixed on the deserted lattice.
There was a gentle knocking at the door, but the duke
heard it not for the painful beating of his heart. Then
the door opened, and on the threshold stood the old
man on whom the prince's inquiring glance had rested
on his arrival. He approached the window' with a low
reverence, and waited patiently till his young master
raised his head. When at last he looked up, the old
man started to see the beloved face that used to beam
like the sunlight now covered as with the shadow of death.
"My lord duke," said the old man, when Frederick
signed to him to speak, I had an only child. I know
not if your grace has ever noticed her. When the men
went from the country round to the Holy War, she entered
the forest cloister, because she thought she could there
pray undisturbed for the safety and victory of our sol-
diers. Before she went she made me promise to give
this letter into your hands as soon as you returned."
Then he drew from his doublet a strip of parchment
carefully sewed in purple silk, and handed it to the duke.
S8 Barbarossa's Youthful Dream.
And again Frederick spoke not, but silently took the
missive, for his heart was full to overflowing.
The old man withdrew in silence. When Frederick
found himself alone, he cut the silken covering with his
hunting-knife, and drew out a piece of parchment; and
when it was unfolded, he saw the childish handwriting
which he himself had taught Gela in their happy hours
in the forest, and with which she now bade him the last
farewell, for she could not break her promise to the aged
While Frederick, two years before, hastened to his
uncle's palace, the holy man had gone on to other parts
of the country to call on the people to join the Holy
War, and from this errand death had called him.
The sun was already far past the meridian, but yet no
sound had broken the stillness of the room where
Frederick sat. The butler's drink of honour was untasted;
Dame Barbara's masterpiece remained untouched.
At last the young duke rose, left the room, and
descended the winding stair into the court; but when his
steed was brought, the attendant esquire thought that
this could scarcely be the same young and joyous prince
who, a few hours before, had ridden across the bridge.
He sprang into the saddle, cast a last glance on the
desolate window, and then turned without a word of
farewell to take the road which, but a short time
before, he had galloped over with hopeful heart. It
was the same road which Gela had so often followed
with him to the little hill in the forest, and when he
came to the narrow path, he led his obedient horse to one
Barbarossa's Youthful Dream. 19
side, fastened the bridle round the trunk of a tree, and
then walked slowly along the mossy path.
Now he stood beneath the oak. Its leafy roof and
the moss at its foot were green and fresh as ever. Once
he was like it in his love and hope, but all was changed!
He sat down at the foot of the tree, and its rustling
brought back to his soul the dream of his now vanished
Suddenly bells sounded from the forest depths. But
he could not, as in days gone by, fold his hands in pious
awe, and pour forth every grief in a believing prayer.
No; at the sound of these bells which now called Gela,
his Gela, to devotion, it seemed to him as if he must rush
to the cloister gate, knock with his sword hilt, and cry,
"Come back, Gela, come back; for thy sacrifice will be
He hastened down the hill to his horse, and sprang
into the saddle.
"Away, my faithful steed!" he cried aloud. "Show
me the way, for love and grief have bewildered my clear
brain. Bear me where knightly duty and princely
honour claim my presence-for I know not where."
And the good beast, as if it understood his master's
words, rushed with him away farther and still farther
south through the dim twilight, and beneath the bright
beams of the full moon. Without weariness, though
without rest, it bore him on, and when the morrow's sun
stood in noonday splendour they had reached the goal,
and the young duke stood before the gate of his own
20 Barbarossa's Youthful Dreaz.
Gela's sacrifice was not offered in vain. The words
the old monk uttered that morning in the castle chapel
were fulfilled. After his uncle's death, young Frederick
of Swabia was raised to the throne of Germany, and all
that the realm and people of Germany had hoped from
him was more than fulfilled.
His strong hand gave unity, strength, and majesty to
the divided land, such as no ruler after him was ever able
to bestow; and when the imperial crown of Rome was
also placed upon his head, the proud people of Italy
bowed before Frederick Barbarossa, did him homage, and
acknowledged his power.
The laurels of many a victory rested on the Emperor's
brow; his house was happy, his race flourished, his name
lay like a word of blessing on every lip; and when Gela,
still in the bloom of youth, closed her eyes in death, she
knew that she had not in vain renounced Frederick and
Beneath the shelter of his favourite castle the Emperor
founded a town, and named it after the unforgotten
loved one of his youth, "Gelashausen ;" and when on his
travels he came to the forest of the Kinzig Valley, he
led his horse silently aside, fastened the bridle to a
tree stem, and ascended the hill to the majestic oak.
There leaning his head, amid whose gold full many a
thread of silver gleamed, against the trunk, he closed
his eyes, and dreamed once more the old delightful
And the people called that tree ever after "the
Barbarossa's Youthful Dream. 21
The sun of Asia Minor once more sent its glowing rays
on the head of the heroic Emperor, though they gleamed
back now with a silvery radiance.
The cry of distress had risen once again from the
Land of Promise, and drawn the aged monarch from his
German home; he placed himself at the head of his
army, and led it with prudence, courage, and military
skill safely through the heat of the Eastern sun, in spite
BARBAROSSA IN THE HOLY LAND.
BARBAROSSA IN THE HOLY LAND.
22 Barbarossa's Youz/ful Dream.
of the treachery and malice of the foe, in spite of the
pangs of hunger and consuming thirst.
On a warm summer evening the army reached the
steep bank of a foaming mountain torrent. There on
the farthest side lay the road that they must take.
Barbarossa's son Frederick, that Flower of Chivalry,"
sprang with a chosen band from the high rocky bank
into the stream and reached the other side in safety.
The Emperor now prepared to follow. Without heed-
ing the advice of his attendants, the aged hero, who had
never known what fear meant, put spurs to his steed and
plunged with him into the waters of the Seleph. For
a few seconds the golden armour gleamed amid the
waves, once or twice the reverend, hoary head rose
above the stream, then the deadly waters carried horse
and rider into their raging depths, and the beloved
hero vanished from the eyes of his sorrowing army.
His most valiant knights indeed and chosen friends
plunged after him into the flood to save their honoured
prince or die with him, but the wild mountain torrent
bore them all to death. With bitter lamentations the
army wandered up and down the stream, if perchance
they might at least win the precious corpse from the
waters. But night came and threw its dark veil over
the sorrow and mourning of the day.
All around were wrapped in slumber, even deeper than
was their wont. The moon stood high in heaven, and
beneath its beams the waters of the Seleph flowed more
gently like molten silver. Once more they roused their
Barbarossa's Youl ful Dream. 23
angry strength, and from their midst a white head rose,
golden armour gleamed above the waves, and Barbarossa
and his faithful steed slowly emerged from the waters.
With noiseless hoof they wandered up and down the
stream, and out from the depths mounted the troops of
faithful ones who had followed their Emperor to danger
and death. The drops gleamed like diamonds as they
fell from head and armour with a gentle splash into the
Silently the band of warriors rode along the waves;
not a sound, not a footstep broke the stillness ; thus they
turned to the shore, and the horses clambered up the
There Barbarossa and his silent warriors halted on the
height. For a moment the Emperor's glance rested on
the slumbering army, he held out his hand as if blessing
them in a last farewell, then he shook the reins, and
horse and rider, freed from the laws of earthly gravity,
swept onwards to the beloved Fatherland.
They passed over the Bosphorus. Far below them
gleamed the towers of Constantinople with the golden
cross on their summits, but Barbarossa heeded them not.
His head was bent forward, so that his white locks
fluttered in the night wind, and his eyes were directed
solely to the land towards which the horses moved with
the swiftness of the storm-wind on their cloudy path.
Soon German forests rustled beneath them, and round
the Emperor's lips played something like the reflection
of the old sunny smile.
To the south lay the Italian plains which had claimed
24 Barbarossa's Youtlful Dream.
the best years of his life and his youthful energy, but the
Emperor turned his head from these. Perhaps he saw
already the destiny of his proud race, which must some
day be fulfilled in those fragrant fields.
Now their native air surrounds them. The fir trees of
the Black Forest scent the air, the waves of the Neckar
gleam below them, and, bathed in the full moon's silvery
splendour, there lies at their feet the Staufenburg, the
cradle of the lofty imperial race.
Barbarossa raised his hand to bless its battlements and
pinnacles, but still he held on his way northwards.
The Spessart forests rustled beneath him in the dark-
ness of the night, not a moonbeam pierced their thickly-
leaved summits. But there gleamed the waters of the
Kinzig, the walls of Gelashausen in its gently flowing
stream, and over on the mountain's brow shone the
aged Emperor's favourite castle, with the high oriel
window, and Gela's deserted lattice.
Barbarossa bent over his horse's neck, and cast a look
of recognition on the scene of his early happiness.
Soon they hovered above the high-road, and then over
the familiar forest with its spreading "Emperor's oak."
The old man's head was still bent forward, as if his eye
would pierce the whispering tree-tops. A sound of clear
bells greeted his ear. Below in the convent they called
to midnight prayer, and these tones, which had once
well-nigh broken his heart, acted now as a spell to
bring back the old loved images. His breast heaved
as of yore in mingled joy and grief, and Gela, my
Gela!" was the cry that started from his lips and
Barbarossa's Youthful Dream. 25
reached the convent in whose vaults the loved one
But still the steeds held on their unhalting course
over Thuringia's golden plain to the Kyffhauser Moun-
tain, within which Frederick Barbarossa must hold council
to-night with his faithful ones about the people of
Germany and their future.
The castle, which in bygone days had so often opened
its hospitable gates t1o him and his court, within whose
halls many a gladsome feast had been held, of whose
magnificence and splendour old chronicles tell us-this
castle still kept watch over the land with unbroken
pinnacles, but Barbarossa knocked not at its gate.
Gently the horses sank to the earth, and halted at a
hidden door in the mountain side.
The Emperor struck the stone with his sword, so that
a loud echo answered from the hollow interior. Then
the rocky door opened, and Barbarossa and his faithful
warriors entered the spacious hall of the Kyffhauser
Mountain. The rock had not long closed behind them
when a gentle tapping was heard, the magic gate swung
open, and the lovely Gela entered, arrayed in bridal attire
as she had been laid in the tomb.
The hand of death had touched her heart, but had not
quenched her love. When Frederick's cry reached her
ear, she had opened her eyes as out of a deep sleep, and
had left the vault to seek her beloved with the swiftness
of a spirit's tread. Now she stands before him in
unchanged grace and beauty.
Barbarossa's youthful dream was fulfilled. Gela, his
26 Barbarossa's Youktful Dream.
first love, was now at his side to tend him and bless him
for ever as she could never have done on earth. It
was she, the faithful one, who ruled henceforth in
the magic kingdom of the Kyffhauser, and cared for the
beloved hero and his trusty band. It was she who knew
when Barbarossa's heart yearned over the memories of
his glorious past. Then she would lead the knights-
his faithful comrades in the Holy War-into his room.
They would range themselves round the marble table at
which Barbarossa sat, with his long white beard flowing
round him like imperial ermine, and over the golden
goblets, filled from the exhaustless stores of the mountain
cellars, they talked with the hero about the glorious days
that they had spent together, about the golden age" of
the Holy German Empire. And the minstrels, who had
been wont to go with him to the Holy Land, and had
entered with him the enchanted mountain of the
" Golden Meadow," would strike their harps, and the
song of the future, which still slumbered in their souls,
rose to their lips and echoed loudly through the
enchanted arches of the Kyffhauser Mountain.
When Barbarossa's heart longed for news of the
fatherland, Gela would pass at midnight out through the
door in the rock, down through the Golden Meadow,"
and listen at many a door, and look through many a
window. Then all that she heard there of sad lamenta-
tion or joyous hope she would faithfully pour into the
Emperor's ear on her return. And what Gela failed to
find out was seen by other eyes and heard by other ears.
Just as once Odin's ravens flew down from the dwelling
... -' .
., ;,,. ,,. ....".I
-'-t' -', -. l '
", .- .. '
I'II~~~ .,,. ,,,z~ ~,
t- ',~BRIr~~~I~li% ~ '.FTi- ~
F..p.6 - P- -5
Barbarossa's Youthful Dream. 29
of the gods to the home of men to tell the heavenly Ruler
of all that happened on the earth, so did the ravens that
built their nests in the clefts of Kyffhauser hover through
the plains to hear of joy and sorrow, and bear the tidings
back in silence to their rocky home.
But at the still hour of midnight, when the mountain
opened, and the little dwarfs who dwelt secretly among
Barbarossa's vaulted halls slipped out into the moonlight,
then the wise birds opened their mouths, and the little
friends-like Solomcn, learned in the languages of birds
-heard all that the ravens told. The dwarfs in their
turn brought the news to the old Emperor, before whom
they appeared from time to time to fill his treasury with
With liberal hand Barbarossa gave of these hoards to
pious and honest mortals, whom Gela led into the magic
kingdom of the Kyffhauser, that the beloved prince
might be gladdened by the sight of the new generation,
which, different though it was from that of his day, still
held in loving remembrance the noble Barbarossa, and
cherished a firm hope of his return to earth.
The fortress on the mountain mouldered to decay.
Herds grazed where once the tread of armed men was
heard, but once every century the walls stood at midnight
in their ancient splendour; the drawbridge rattled, the
watchman's horn sounded shrill and clear, and over the
castle court, through the gates with their carved coat of
arms, on to the brightly illumined halls of revelry,
passed a brilliant procession. It was Barbarossa leading
by the hand the lovely Gela, and followed by his knights
30 Barbarossa's Youthful Dream.
and vassals, all eager to breathe the air of the upper
But while the knights were spending the few short
hours with music and feasting amid the pleasures of the
past, the Emperor and Gela mounted to the highest
battlement of the castle, and looked down longingly on
the plains of their beloved Germany.
All around lay wrapped in slumber. Night and peace
had conquered all the cares that gnaw in daylight at the
heart of man, but they had also stilled its hopes.
They are all asleep and dreaming," said the old
Emperor, but the morrow will come, and my people will
awake and find the strife that now divides their hearts
laid at rest for ever. Brave men will draw the sword and
wield it victoriously. Then the minstrels will seize their
harps, and the fame of our great and united Germany
shall sound from the North Sea to the fair gardens of
Italy. Then will our watch be over, and we shall go to
our eternal rest."
So spake the aged monarch, as he leant across the
battlement to stretch his hands in blessing over his
former kingdom. But when the first streak of dawn
showed faintly in the east, Barbarossa and his Gela
descended, the revelry ceased, the knights grasped their
swords, and the glittering throng passed over court and
bridge back to the heart of the mountain, while behind
them the magic castle melted into mist.
The great morning has dawned; the nation has awaked;
their strife is stilled. The imperial jewels, Unity and
Barbarossa's Youthful Dream. 31
Strength," lie no longer buried in the waves of the
Seleph, the German people henceforth have them in their
Barbarossa may now cease his watch and enter on his
rest, for from the North Sea to the plains of Italy is
sounded the fame of the great united Fatherland.
Thus has the aged Emperor's prophecy been fulfilled,
though it was but the nation's youthful dream.
'.."T ...'" -. ."
VRENELI IN KING LAURIN'S ROSE-
SN the Tyrol, that true home
of the good little dwarf-
folk, is a lovely valley
r "where in olden days a sub-
stantial farm-house stood,
whose owner had come
from the other side of the
mountain enticed by the beauty and fertility of this
In those days it was still possible to find good
servants capable of forming a faithful attachment to
King Laurin. 33
their master and his household. But the farmer thought
they were still better in his old home, and for this reason
he generally brought his servants from the other side of
the high mountain ridge.
Spring had returned; the mountain pastures were
green once more, and it was time for the herds to leave
the valley; but the old herdswoman who for years had
had the charge of the mountain farm, and in whose
capability and conscientiousness the farmer had the
fullest confidence, now took ill and died.
This was a matter of some anxiety to the farmer and
his household, for everything was ready for the removal
of the cattle.
Go over, Tony, to our native valley," said the old
farmer to his only son and heir. "An aged cousin of
mine lives there; they say her daughter is a fine girl; it
might be a good thing if you could persuade her to come
to us as herdswoman."
Early next morning the young man set out on his errand.
The shades of night still lurked among the rocks like
giants in disguise, but the peaks of the glacier were
already aglow with the light of morning. The youth,
accustomed to the beauties of his native mountains, gave
scarcely a glance to the splendour of the Alps, but
hastened onwards with head and heart full of anxiety
about his cattle. Soon he reached the narrow mountain
ridge between the two lofty glaciers, from which the
way led downwaids to his native valley.
At this spot stood a tall cross, with dark arms out-
stretched over both the glaciers, as if it would tell of the
34 King Laurin.
dangers which had threatened the traveller who, out of
gratitude for his deliverance, had caused a cross to be
erected on this lonely height.
Tony knelt to pray, as was the custom in those times
and in that country. His head was bent low, so that he
did not see the grave face which looked down on him
from one of the glaciers.
Surely it must have been carried thither on eagles'
wings, for there, to that glassy height which seemed
almost nearer the sky than the earth, no human foot
could ever climb. Yet that figure stood there calm,
strong, and erect. Long silvery hair flowed over the
shoulders; round the head flashed something like sun-
beams, or like a mysterious diadem of carbuncles; and
the dark eyes pierced the distance, and rested on the
kneeling one with an earnestness that went deep down
into his heart.
The young man rose and descended the winding path
to the valley. The apparition on the lofty glacier stood
long looking after his receding figure, and then, with
the sunbeams playing among his silvery locks, walked
with sure footsteps that never slipped down over the
gleaming field of ice.
Late in the afternoon Tony sat once more at the foot
of the cross, with a lovely maiden by his side. She had
placed her little bundle on the ground at her feet, her
hands lay folded on her lap, and with an expression of
mingled grief and newly-awakened hope she looked into
the face of her companion.
King Laurin. 35
Her mother had died a few days before, and poverty
was even in those good old days a bitter thing, as the
poor orphan learned to her cost. For the warden of
the village told her bluntly that the cottage in which she
had lived with her mother, being public property, was
claimed now by another widow, and that Vreneli must
make her own way in the world.
Many a farmer's wife would have been glad to hire
the good Vreneli as servant, but the rough words of the
warden had so frightened her that she determined not to
stay in this inhospitable valley; and just as she had
tied up her little bundle, Tony came to offer her a home
in his rich father's house.
Joyfully she agreed, for the farmer was a relation,
though a distant one, and she had a dread of going
among strangers. So Tony and she set out together on
the mountain path, and now they were resting under the
old cross and chatting pleasantly.
Vreneli's beauty and innocence had taken Tony's
heart by storm, and now he told her that he loved her,
and that she, none but she, should be his wife. Vreneli
clasped her hands and listened with her whole soul to
these words so new to her. Ah! how sweet they
sounded after the harsh tones that had made her so
unhappy a few hours ago! Her heart went out in
gratitude and love to the manly youth who had so
generously offered his heart and his home to the poor
But I am poor, Tony, and I have learned to-day how
evil a thing poverty is," said she at last.
36 King Laurin.
"What does that matter, Vreneli ?" answered Tony,
cheerfully; "I have enough for both. And I do not
like the rich bride that my father has chosen for me, she
is ugly and empty-headed. When they see you at home,
Vreneli, they must love you, you are so good and
beautiful! And when you have tended the herds on
the mountain with faithful diligence for the summer
months, and when you bring back the well cared-for
cattle at the end of the season, you shall be my wife-I
will soon bring my parents round to my mind."
"Ah, how delightful that will be!" said Vreneli,
smiling. How I will love you, and what good care I
will take of your old parents! Are you sure you are
not making fun of me, Tony?"
The young man put his arm around her graceful form.
" How can you talk so, Vreneli? Do I not love you
better than any one in the whole world? and if it makes
your mind easier, I will swear love and faithfulness to
you under this cross-I will swear that none but you
shall be my wife."
He put his right hand in hers and took the oath.
Perfect stillness reigned around them; the spirits of the
mountain listened in silence; noiselessly the beams of the
evening sun hovered above the cross, and then sank, as
if in blessing, on Vreneli's braided hair; while far over-
head at the summit of the glacier stood the dark figure
that had watched Tony on his journey that morning.
The poor orphan and her lover did not see the grave
countenance that looked down on them from the lofty
peak, but Tony's words of solemn promise floated up-
King Laurin. 37
wards on the evening breeze to the lonely old man's
Again he cast a searching glance on the kneeling
youth, but when his eyes rested on the sweet maiden
that listened to those earnest words, the stern expression
of his countenance melted, and the wrinkled features
bore traces of some sad memories that seemed to be
awakened by the sight of her beauty and grace. He
leant gently forward, so that his shining locks flowed
down like a silver stream, and his eyes followed the
two young people with an expression almost of longing,
as they walked cheerfully on. But soon the twilight
laid its dim veil over hill and valley, and the receding
figures faded altogether from his view.
The rich farmer owned the pasture of a whole moun-
tain, and Vreneli was to have the sole charge of the
herds that grazed on it, while on another mountain the
herds of the other villagers wandered, watched over by
Now, Vreneli," said the old farmer next morning,
when the cows had been let out of the stalls, and were
already climbing the well-known mountain path to the
music of their jingling bells-" now, Vreneli, do your
duty faithfully, and take good care of my herds, and if
the produce of the mountain farm be richer than that
yielded in the days of my former herdswomen, I will not
be stingy about a reward."
Vreneli blushed, and cast a stolen glance at Ton-,
who stood behind his father ; she could not but think of
the reward which he had promised her. She assured
38 King Laurin.
the farmer that she would do her duty, shook hands
with the whole household, and then turned to follow
Tony went with her; he wanted to show her every-
thing in the senner's cottage, and to point out the richest
pastures on which the herds were to graze, taking a
different place each day, till at last they returned to the
first, which by that time would be covered with a fresh
growth of grass.
It was a lovely spring morning. The distant glacier
was radiant with sunlight, the bells tinkled softly on the
necks of the cattle, and wild flowers bloomed at the edge
of the torrent which rushed foaming over the moss-
grown rocks. But what was all this external beauty in
comparison with the blooming world in their own hearts?
They exchanged looks, and words, and happy smiles.
Not till the herds had been milked and led to rest on
the night pasture did Tony say good-bye. Vreneli
stood at the door of the cottage, her hands clasped, and
her eyes brimming with happy tears, and watched him
till a turn of the road hid him from her view.
Inside, in the cosy cottage, it seemed to her, all the
time that she was filling the milk vessels and putting
everything in order, as if she still heard his caressing
words, and as if his brown eyes looked out on her from
every corner. Love and hope quickened her hands, so
that her work seemed mere child's play. Then when
everything was done, and the fire had died out on the
hearth, she stepped out again to the door.
Like a faithful senner she looked first at the night
King Laurin. 39
pasture where the herds were resting peacefully. Now
and then one of the beautiful animals would lift its head,
and the bell at its throat would tinkle softly; the night-
wind moved gently among the lofty trees, making the
long moss of their stems wave to and fro like dark
soft veils. Then Vreneli's eyes sought the valley, and
to the moonbeams which hastened, in their glittering
robes, down the rocky path to the village she entrusted
tender messages of love. And when she turned back
into the cottage she knelt at her mossy couch beside
the hearth, and mingled with her evening prayer words
of joyful thanksgiving. Her last thought before she fell
asleep was this, that she was the happiest herdswoman
and her Tony the handsomest and truest fellow in the
whole land of the Tyrol.
Sunny days succeeded to nights filled with golden
dreams. When the first sunbeams flashed from the
summit of the glacier, the goat-bells sounded below in
the valley, and the goat-herd led his flock to seek the
juicy plants that grew on heights inaccessible to less
Then Vreneli ran joyfully to meet him, for he always
brought some message from Tony, or some other token
of his love. With joy-quickened energy she went then
about her daily toil. The cows left their nightly resting-
place, and came to Vreneli to be milked, and then she
led them to some new pasture.
And while the cattle grazed there, she leant against a
rock and carefully watched each step of the animals
entrusted to her care, lest any one of them should go too
40o AKiY Lau-iz.
near a precipice, or, enticed by the plants that grew
most richly beside the torrent, be hurried away in its
mad whirl. And when evening sank on the mountain,
and clothed the ice-columns in a splendour of red and
purple, the goat-herd led his flock back to the valley, and
received every evening from Vreneli's hand a bunch of
mountain violets for her beloved Tony.
Then she drove the cows again to the milking-place,
and repeated the task of the morning. But this did not
end her day's work. She was busy for hours in the
cottage, and moon and stars had long looked down on
the slumbering mountain before Vreneli had finished
arranging her milk vessels in the dairy, or placed the
newly-made cheese to dry, or rolled out her golden
Then after a simple prayer she lay down on her
lowly couch, and when the distant thunder of avalanches
broke the silence of the night, and the mountain torrent
roared close behind her tiny cottage, Vreneli slept as
sweetly as a child, and round her head dreams of love
and home hovered on golden wing.
So the weeks flew by, and the day arrived when the
butter and cheese which the mountain farm had hitherto
produced was to be taken home to the farm-house.
The farmer and Tony were to come to bring it, as the
goat-herd had told Vreneli yesterday, and her usually
dexterous fingers trembled with glad excitement just
when it was most needful to show the farmer that he
had entrusted his property to capable hands.
King Laurin. 41
At last-how often she had looked impatiently along
the path-at last the old farmer came toiling up, and
behind him, not Tony, as she expected, but two servants
with tall baskets on their backs.
Vreneli was bitterly disappointed, but she controlled
herself and walked out calmly to meet her master. In
spite of the sunny morning dark clouds lay upon his
brow, and it did not clear even when Vreneli took him
into the faultless dairy and showed him the rows of
large rich cheese and the golden butter. Silently they
were laid in the basket, and the servants returned home-
wards with heavy burdens.
Then Vreneli led the farmer to the meadow where the
herds were grazing, and his keen eye told him that the
beasts were well fed and cared for. It was a faithful
hand to which he had entrusted his property-that he
must acknowledge, however unwillingly. You have
done well, Vreneli; see that you go on as you have
begun !" he said bluntly. How harsh the words sounded
compared with those with which he had sent her to the
mountain! Then when he turned to go home, and she
politely begged him to taste the fritter that she had
prepared for him according to the custom of the country,
he refused it, looking all the time so gloomy that Vreneli
did not dare to ask for Tony, though her heart throbbed
in anxiety and longing. So he left her, and Vreneli
stood watching him with a heart full of sadness and
It was evening, and the firelight fell as brightly as
ever on Vrcncli's lovely face, but it did not show the
42 AKing Laurin.
joyous expression of other evenings. Her movements
were languid, and now and then a tear stole down her
Why did not Tony come, as he had said he would ?
Why was the old farmer so gloomy ? Why did the
goat-herd refuse to take the daily bunch of violets, in
return for which she might have hoped for some
message from Tony ? These were questions on which
her life's happiness depended, and yet there was no one
there to answer them.
She sighed deeply. There had been a gentle knock-
ing at the door, which Vreneli, lost in her sad thoughts,
had not noticed; but at her loud sigh the door opened,
and a figure of mysterious aspect stood on the threshold.
Long silvery hair flowed down over the shoulders, and
from the serious yet kindly eyes spoke a majesty which
diadem and purple robes would not have been enough to
give. Vreneli let fall the milk bowl in her astonishment,
and she bowed low as to a mighty prince; then she
wiped the low bench before the fire, the only seat which
the simple cottage offered, and asked her strange guest
to be seated.
The old man nodded pleasantly, and sat down at the
fire, leant his head on both hands, so that his silvery
locks flowed almost to the ground, and directed his
earnest gaze so searchingly on Vreneli that it seemed to
her as if he could see into her very soul.
Why art thou so sad to-day, Vreneli ?" he said at last
Vreneli started. How did this stranger, who seemed
King Laurin. 43
to come from some distant land-how could he know her
name ? She looked at him, half in reverence and half
in fear. Come, Vreneli, wilt thou not tell me?" said
the old man, and his eye rested almost with love upon
I am an orphan," she faltered out at last, "and
sometimes a painful feeling of loneliness comes over
And is that all, Vreneli?" asked the old man;
44 King Lauzrili.
" canst thou not confide in one who means well towards
thee, and who has both the power and the desire to help
thee ? Dost thou think thyself unknown to me ? Did I
not see thee on the mountain side beneath the cross ? Did
I not hear the young man's oath, and see how love and
hope had driven sorrow from thy heart ? From that
hour I have been thy friend. Dost thou think that thy
care and watchfulness could have kept the dangers of
the mountains far from thy roof and from thy herds ?
When thou wast asleep on thy couch of moss, and fair
dreams led thy soul to golden meadows, I kept watch,
up there upon the rock, and warned the elements to
leave thee and thy charge unhurt; I directed the course
of the avalanches, and the flight of the snow-storm, so
that they turned aside, and only softest breezes and the
gentle starlight ever touched thy brow. Dost thou still
mistrust me, Vreneli ?"
Vreneli had clasped her hands and drawn nearer to
her venerable friend.
"I thank you for your protection," said she, bowing
once more in lowly reverence; whoever you may be, to
me you have been a benefactor, and such a one has a
right to my confidence. But tell me how you read my
heart and learned my love for Tony ? For you know
already what its burden is. I am troubled about what
has happened to-day; I cannot understand it. Above
all, I am disappointed at not having seen Tony, after I
had looked forward so joyfully to meeting him "
The old man cast a searching glance on her lovely
face, as she stood there with the firelight falling brightly
KiZg Lauzrin. 45
on her, and her blue eyes turned towards him in sorrow
and touching confidence.
"And wouldst thou like to see him now?" he asked
Vreneli's eyes shone with delight.
But, Vreneli, the fulfilment of our wishes often brings
something quite different from our hopes; we go to seek
faithfulness, and we find treachery."
"Ah!" said she, with the smile of unshaken trust,
" that will not be the case with me. Tony is good and
truer than gold, and did he not swear to me beneath
the cross ?"
Thou dear child !" answered the old man, while
painful memories troubled his grave features ; if every
broken oath could make a step, we would soon be able
to reach the moon."
"Stranger," said Vreneli, confidently, "you may have
met with faithlessness enough in your long life to make
you lose your confidence in human nature, but you do
not know my Tony !"
"Come then, Vreneli, since thou wishes it," said the
old man, rising, "though I would fain have spared thee
this pain." And they stepped out together into the night.
Led by the old man's hand, Vreneli climbed up to the
point of rock from which he had kept nightly watch
over her and her herds. They went forward to the edge
of the precipice. Far below, veiled by the darkness, lay
Tony's home. High walls of rock and wide pasture-
lands separated them from the farm-house, so that no
human eye could pierce the distance.
46 RZinz Lautrinz.
But the old man pulled down a branch of the lofty
pine above them, and told Vreneli to look through a
tiny knot-hole. She did so; the laws of space yielded,
and her anxious glance flew to the distant farm-house.
She looked through the lighted windows into the well-
furnished rooms. All the costly vessels and ornaments,
which were usually carefully laid past in chests and cup-
boards, were to-day displayed on the festive board, round
which the most distinguished residents of the village
were chatting and laughing merrily. Next his parents
sat Tony, and at his side a richly dressed maiden. His
eyes shone, and his mouth smiled and whispered, just as
on that evening when he had sworn love and faithful-
ness to Vreneli beneath the cross on the mountain.
His father's threatening words and the wealth of the
bride so long chosen for him had quickly shaken Tony's
purpose, and while the gentle Vreneli was thinking
anxiously about his non-appearance, the fickle youth
broke his solemn oath, and betrothed himself to the
unloved but wealthy bride.
Vreneli looked at the scene in tearless silence, then,
when she could no longer doubt her lover's faithlessness,
she let go the branch and turned her eyes away, so that
once more night and distance covered the scene that
had ruined her hopes. Vreneli silently descended the
rock, but she did not seek the shelter of her cottage.
She hurried past it, and wandered on aimlessly over
the wilds of the mountain. It seemed almost as if she
wished to reach the icy glacier heights.
"Vreneli," said the voice at her side; "Vreneli,
King Laurin. 47
whither wilt thou go ?" She turned her head as in a
dream. Stony sorrow had fallen on her gentle features,
and her once bright eyes were cold and fixed.
"Whither?" she said quietly, "whither? I would like
to go to the grave, but, since that may not be, I will go
at least away, away as far as my feet will bear me."
"Wilt thou come with me, Vreneli ?" said the old
man. "My home shall be thine, and the love and
faithfulness which thou hast lost here thou shalt find
there a thousand-fold."
Vreneli looked into his mild eyes.
"And who art thou, kind old man ?" she asked with
"I am King Laurin, the ruler of the powerful nation
of the dwarfs, who for centuries were bound to men in
faithful love. The impress of divinity which we spirits
recognized in you, and before which we humbly bow,
attracted us to, your race. But in every generation we
traced it less easily, and at last, despised and deceived
in return for our kindness and help, we retired to the
recesses of our mountains. There in the heart of the
rock whose brow is crowned by the shining glacier,
there stands my palace, adorned by my people with all
the splendour of the precious stones which, hidden to
mortal eyes, shine deep down in the heart of the
"There I live, but I have led for centuries a lonely
life, for my only daughter, the last flower of a blooming
garland, died long, long ago. Her rose-garden, to tend
which was her greatest delight, still blooms in unfading
48 King Laurrizn.
beauty, but as often as my eyes fall on its wondrous
flowers, I think with grief of my long-lost child. Thou,
Vreneli, art a pure-hearted maiden like her, and since I
first saw thee and looked into thine eyes, it has seemed
to me as if I had found my child. I have watched over
thee with a father's care, and I am ready now to love
thee as my daughter."
Poor lonely king !" said Vreneli, in a tone of gentle
pity, while the tears ran down her cheeks, "I will
go with you to your mountain palace; 1 will love and
honour you as your child once did, and I will tend the
rose-garden that she loved; for I have no home and no
heart to love me. But grant me one thing before I leave
Thou hast but to ask and it is granted !"
"Ah, King Laurin!" said Vreneli, and her tears
flowed faster, "I am still young, and this is the first
disappointment that my heart has felt, and though it is
almost broken, yet I have still a faint hope left. I can-
not quite let go my faith in Tony."
King Laurin looked even more gravely than before
on the weeping maiden.
No, do not be angry !" she begged, raising her hands
entreatingly to him; "call it not foolish weakness;
remember that it needed hundreds of years before your
noble heart would close against our deceitful race. I
know that Tony has been persuaded by his friends to
take this step; but he still loves me, and it would grieve
"him if I were to go without farewell. When he brings
his bride up the mountain to-morrow, on their way to
King Laurin. 49
the wedding in the next valley, let me go out to meet
him as he is passing my cottage-let me say farewell
and part from him in peace."
"Do as thou wilt, my child," answered King Laurin
with gentle sadness, "though thou wilt find but a new
sorrow. And now, Vreneli, it is late. Go to thy cottage,
and lie down on thy couch, there to forget thy griefs for
a few short hours at least."
"Ah no!" said Vreneli, entreatingly; "let me stay
here with you beneath the stars, for I dread the loneli-
ness of the cottage. Wherever I may be I cannot sleep,
and the shadows of past happiness would there trouble
my soul. No; let me stay here and share your watch."
They climbed the rock, and sat down side by side
beneath the lofty pines. Vreneli folded her hands and
looked up to the stars, while her prayer for peace and
comfort arose to Him who sits enthroned above the sky.
Not a word was spoken. King Laurin gazed in
silence on the moonlit glacier, while his mind wandered
back to the memories of a thousand years, and on
Vreneli's brow lay the deep shadow of her young grief.
Gradually her eyelids closed, and her head sank gently
to the old king's shoulder. He placed his arm tenderly
round the slumbering girl, and stretched out his right
hand towards the lofty glacier.
Then the storm-song in its icy clefts grew suddenly
still, but the moonbeams still played around its jagged
peaks; like glistening serpents they moved across the
glassy sea, and then flowed slowly in a broad shining
stream down on the crystal road. The mountain torrent
50 King Laurin.
meanwhile checked its thunder, and moved more gently
on its rocky way.
The night that hung above the mountain seemed but
a pleasant twilight, and through the mild, soft air a bell
tinkled gently now and then from the night pasture
where the cattle lay at rest. All was peace. Nothing
stirred save the summer breeze and the golden starlight,
which ventured near to kiss the tear-stained cheek of
the maiden who lay in sweet forgetfulness of sorrow on
the old king's arm.
And now it was once more morning, and Vreneli's
cheek grew pale as she thought of the sorrowful parting
with him whom she had once called her Tony. But she
was determined to do her duty to the very last, so she
led her herds to the pasture, by the side of which the
road ran, that she might be at hand to tend them while
waiting by the wayside for Tony and his bride.
The sun rose higher and higher, and the minutes of
painful waiting seemed hours to the poor girl. Suddenly
voices and loud laughter sounded in her ear, and soon
two figures appeared from round the rock. For the first
time since the morning when she brought the herds up
the mountain Tony stood face to face with the poor
orphan whose life's happiness he had ruined, and he
started as he looked into the face so beautiful, but
deadly pale. For one moment he remembered his oath.
Then the rich bride at his side cried mockingly-" I
suppose this is the servant girl of whom your father
spoke, who had the presumption to dream 'of becoming
King Laurin. 51
a rich farmer's wife? Fancy the little beggar enter-
taining such an idea!"
The scornful words cut deep into Vreneli's crushed
"I should never have thought of it myself," she said,
sadly; "it was Tony who wished it, because he loved
me so that my poverty seemed no obstacle."
Oh! indeed, Tony," said the bride, haughtily, "that
is rather different from what you told me yesterday
evening. Did you not tell me that you had never
troubled your head about her, and that you had always
wished to marry me ? Tell this girl that she lies, or if
you cannot do that, then you are free to choose this
beggar still. I have plenty of suitors left !"
Tony grew red with shame and vexation, but he did
not vent his anger on the haughty bride, but on poor
innocent Vreneli. "You lie, girl," he cried; I never
made you any promise; I never loved you !"
"Tony," answered Vreneli gently, "do not bring
needless guilt on your head. Have you forgotten your
oath beneath the lonely cross on the mountain ? But I
am not angry with you for forsaking me. Perhaps your
parents persuaded you to do it; but I could not refrain
from coming to say farewell, and to wish you happiness
"Keep your farewell and your wishes to yourself!"
cried Tony, white with anger and shame; "you were a
fool, if you took my words in earnest. I and a beggar
With a loud mocking laugh he turned away, gave
52 King Laurizn.
his arm to his bride, and passed on without a word of
Vreneli looked after him in speechless amazement.
The wise king was right, then; she had met but a new
blow, and this one more crushing than the first. She
turned, and saw behind her King Laurin, who had been
an unseen witness of Tony's shameful treachery. His
eyes glowed, but he uttered not a word. Vreneli stooped
again to raise his hands to her trembling lips. "I am
ready to follow you !" she said in a low voice.
Then the rock opened before them; Vreneli gave a
farewell look at the midday sun, then, led by King
Laurin's hand, she entered the magic kingdom of the
That very moment an avalanche was set free from the
snow-clad slopes of the glacier, rolled down with angry
thunder, and at the cross where once Tony had sworn
faithful love to Vreneli it overtook him and his heartless
bride, and buried them so deep that their bodies were
never found. Thus King Laurin avenged his adopted
Vreneli had found a home, and, instead of the one
worthless heart that she had lost, a thousand hearts
beat true to her in unchanging love.
King Laurin loved her as he had once loved his own
lost child, and she returned his affection with all the
warmth of her young heart, while the little dwarfs
obeyed her every wish with that cheerful eagerness with
which they had once served their lost princess.
King Laurin. 53
She tended the rose-garden beside the king's crystal
palace with such loving care that it bloomed once more
as in the days in which the magic-mighty hand of the
princess had moved among its fairy blossoms, and the
sweet fragrance that the roses breathed into her very
soul healed every wound of disappointed love.
She did not miss the sunlight in this fairy.kingdom,
for the mild radiance of unseen stars lit it day and night;
she never longed for earth, for here was unchanging
spring; warm breezes kissed her brow, and the wild
chamois, shy dwellers of the mountain solitudes, came
up in friendly confidence, and let her stroke them with
her snow-white hand.
Many a time on starry nights she went by King
Laurin's side out to the glacier peaks, to look around
upon the slumbering land. Her eye, made keen by the
light of the fairy world, pierced the distance and the
darkness of night, and she gazed, even unaided by any
"magic ring," far beyond the boundaries which limit
human vision. And what had once driven her from the
region of sunlight she saw always and everywhere-
sorrow, injustice, and untruth.
And when she looked into many a joyless cottage
and many a sorrowful heart, she would turn to the old
king by her side, kiss his hand with loving reverence,
and say, smiling-" Come, King Laurin, let us go back
to our home, to our peaceful kingdom, where tears and
guilt and fickleness are all unknown."
"- - -'. --
The Dwarf of Venice takes his De-
"parture for his Native Land.
VENING was falling with
the mild beauty of spring
on the mountains and
pasture-lands of the Tyrol.
"The latest sunbeams which
streamed down from the lofty glacier bore the tones of
the vesper bell through the quiet village street, and
floated over the brook and in at the open windows of a'
The Dwarf of Venice. 55
substantial farm-house which stood at the end of the little
valley. A neatly carved balcony surrounded the house,
the window-panes gleamed like mirrors, and the orderly
arrangements of the farm-yard showed the owner to be a
man of some wealth.
At the table in the oak-panelled sitting-room sat the
rich farmer himself, but in spite of his possessions he
seemed discontented and unhappy, for between his brows
was a deep frown, and his eyes were dark and lowering.
Opposite him sat his beautiful young wife, whose soft
eyes looked anxiously into her husband's face. On her
lap she held her only child, a lovely little girl, with eyes
as blue as the flax blossom, and hair that shone like gold :
she folded her little hands, as her mother did, as long as
the vesper bell continued to call to prayer; but her eyes
looked longingly, now on the pancakes that lay piled on
the bright pewter plate, now casting a friendly glance
on the boy that sat at the furthest end of the table, with
his hands folded in devout reverence.
It was Hans, the son of a poor relation, to whom the
rich farmer, with unwonted generosity, had granted a
place in his house and at his table, and who in return
had to drive the goats every day up to the highest
pastures on the mountain, to places inaccessible to other
herds. He had just returned with his nimble charge, and
had brought to little Anneli on her mother's knee a bunch
of alproses, for he dearly loved the child.
The bell had ceased ringing, the hands were unclasped,
and the mother began to help the delicate pancakes.
There was a gentle knocking at the door, and in walked
56 The Dwarf of Venice.
a little man in a sombre and threadbare garment. His
back was bent, either with the weight of years or by the
wallet which hung from his shoulder; his hair was silver
grey; but the dark shining eyes told that in this decrepit
body lived a strong unconquered spirit.
"Good evening, sir," said the little man humbly;
might I beg you for a bit of supper, for I am starving,
and for a night's rest on your haystack, for I am tired
Indeed," said the farmer angrily; "do you take my
house for a beggar's tavern ? if so, I am sorry your sight
is so bad. You may seek elsewhere, for you will not
find what you want here!"
The dwarf looked in astonishment on the master of
the house, who, regardless of the hospitable customs of
the country, could thus turn a poor man away from his
door ; but the farmer took no notice of his surprise, nor
of his wife's looks of entreaty.
No, wife," he said harshly, this time you shall not
have your own way. I will not keep open house for all
the beggars in the land. Did I not give in to you about
that boy over there ? You might be content with that."
Poor Hans blushed crimson at this allusion to his
poverty, but when the little man turned away with a sigh
and left the inhospitable threshold, sympathy with the
poor old man overcame his fear of his employer; he
seized the plate with the pancakes, and the great piece
of bread which the farmer's wife had just given him, and
ran out of the room.
"What's the boy after ?" asked the farmer angrily.
The Dwarf of Venice. 57
"He is just doing what we ought to have done,"
answered the wife, with gentle reproach in her fair face;
"he is sharing his meal with the poor man."
"Yes, yes," growled the man, "birds of a feather flock
Meantime the old man was creeping with weary steps
across the yard, and had just reached the gate when
Hans seized him by the arm.
"Here, good little man," said he in mingled pity and
fear-" here is my supper; come, sit down there on the
well and eat."
The old man's dark eyes rested with a pleased look
on the boy. "And what hast thou for thyself, child, if
thou givest away thine own share ?"
Oh! that does not matter," said Hans unconcernedly,
while he led the dwarf to the stone wall which surrounded
the well. "I am not very hungry, and the farmer's good
wife would give me more if I asked her."
The old man sat down and began to eat, while Hans
watched with delight how his aged friend enjoyed it.
Soon the plate was empty, and the little man rose with
thanks to set out on further wanderings, and to seek a
night's shelter under a more hospitable roof.
Hans went with him to the gate, and whispered
hastily, "Do not think ill of the farmer for having
refused you; he is not always so churlish, but to-day
something has occurred to vex him-he was not re-elected
as burgomaster of the village, but his bitterest foe was
successful; that has soured him, and so every one who
comes in his way must suffer for it. But listen, little
58 The Dwarf of Venice.
man ; to the right there, on the rock over which the path
leads to the mountain, stands the hay-loft with its roof
touching the stone. That's where I sleep, and if you
climb a little way up the rock, and wait there till I go to
bed, I will open the trap-door, and you can creep in to
me among the hay."
"Thou art a good boy," said the old man ; I will do
as thou sayest, and wait for thee there upon the rock."
It was night when Hans was at last allowed to seek
his couch. More nimbly than usual he sprang up the
slender ladder to the hay-loft, and then he quickly
unfastened the trap-door which opened on the roof.
The full moon stood large and bright above the
mountain, and its pale beams played round the jagged
brow of the glacier, and wove a veil of silver round the
beech woods that adorned the mountain landscape.
The old man was sitting silently on a ledge of rock;
his hands lay folded on his lap, his head was bare, and
the night wind moved lightly through his grey tresses.
But the old man heeded it not. His eyes gazed fixedly
on the night sky, as if they could, like the seers of olden
time, decipher the records of the stars, and his features
were ennobled by such a look of majesty that the boy
gazed at him in astonishment, not daring to disturb him.
At last he said softly, "Do not be angry, sir, at my
troubling you, but the night is growing cold, and the dew
is beginning to fall. Would you not be better in a warm
The old man sighed, as if his thoughts returned
unwillingly from their flight. Then he nodded pleasantly
The Dwarf of Venice. 59
to the boy, went up to the trap-door, and let himself
down upon the floor of the loft. He lay down silently
on the fragrant hay, and was just about to close his weary
eyes when he felt the boy's warm hand passing over him.
The little fellow had taken off his jacket, and was now
carefully spreading it over the old man that the night
wind might not hurt him. With a silent smile the dwarf
accepted the service of love, and soon their deep
breathing told that slumber had fallen on the eyes of
both. Several hours had passed by, when something
like a flash of lightning woke the boy. He rose quickly;
the trap-door was open, and the old man was rummaging
busily in his wallet; he had just taken out of it a very
bright hand-mirror, and the light of the moon, reflected
with a flash from the crystal, had awakened the boy.
The dwarf now threw his sack over his shoulder, took
the mirror in his hand, and began to go through the
trap-door to the rock.
Hans could bear it no longer. "Oh, sir," he begged,
"take me with you into the mountains, for that you are
bound thither the mirror in your hand tells me. My
dear mother has often told me about the mountain mirror,
by means of which one can see into the depths of the
earth, and watch the metal gleaming and glittering in
its veins. And although you have not said so, yet I know
that you are one of the mysterious strangers who come
from far-off lands to seek the gold of our mountains,
which is hidden from our dim eyes. Oh, take me with
The old man turned his face to the boy. That is
60 The Dwarf of Venice.
idle curiosity, my son," he said gravely, and his eyes
shone almost as brightly as the mirror had a few minutes
before; stay at home and tend thy herds, as a good boy
"Oh no, sir," begged Hans earnestly; I have always
longed to see the wonders of the mountains, and I will
be quiet and silent as is befitting in presence of such
marvels, and I will help you and serve you to the best of
my power. Take me with you !"
The old man thought a minute, glanced searchingly
into the boy's eyes, who had come nearer to him in his
earnestness, and then he said-" Come, then, and re-
member thy promise."
They stepped out together, shut the trap-door behind
them, and clambered up to the top of the rock, from
which the broad footpath led up to the heights and
abysses of the mountain. The moon poured its mystic
radiance down from the deep blue.sky of night, and the
young foliage of the beech wood gleamed like silver as it
fluttered in the breeze. Not a footstep was heard on the
mossy ground, only their shadows glided in company
with the lonely wanderers, who in silent haste pressed on
deeper into the recesses of the mountains. The wood
lay behind them, and the path led to a ravine, at the
bottom of which a raging torrent rushed; they stood
now at its edge.
None save Tyrol's boldest mountain climbers know
this path, and even they, though provided with ice-shoes
and alpenstocks, tread its steep ascent with trembling
hearts. But the little man seemed to heed no danger;
The Dwarf of Venice. 61
fearlessly he set his foot upon the highest point, and
securely, as if on level ground, he went down the side of
the precipice, where one false step would have been
certain death. The boy followed him with beating
heart. The moonlight broke through the overhanging
bushes and the lofty rocks overhead, and made its way
down into the ravine.
The wanderers stood now at the edge of the raging
torrent, and walked along it to the high rock over
which the glacier stream fell into its rocky bed, and
which seemed to them, as it stood veiled in night, like one
of the giants of old who, the old legends tell us, were
turned to stone. Even in the distance they had seen the
moving cloud of vapour above its head, which hovered
in the light of the full moon, like a giant eagle, above the
rushing waters. The milk-white billows of the torrent
that rushed down from this height rolled in the moon-
light like silvery tresses down from the rock's giant head.
The old man walked quietly through the noise and foam
round the foot of the rock and into a narrow cleft, which
was the opening into the heart of the mountain; here he
laid down his wallet.
Now, now the boy's heart beat even more loudly than
it had done amid the dangers of the abyss, when the old
man silently beckoned to him. He held the mountain
mirror in his hand : Hans stepped timidly to his side, and
looked into the magic glass. Mists impenetrable as the
curtain which parts the present from the future rolled
over its crystal surface, but they became lighter and
lighter, and soon the interior of the mountain lay open
62 The Dwarf of Venice.
before the eyes of the delighted child. Through the
wide rocky gates his eye pierced into a land of wonders
such as are never seen on earth. Through the blue air
rose the pinnacles of a crystal palace; the golden roof
and the windows of precious stone shone in the splendour
of another sun; and in the lofty star-spangled hall sat
King Laurin, the hoary king of the dwarfs, on his emerald
throne. Round him stood his subjects, the wise and
aged dwarfs, who had long since forsaken the wicked
world to lead an active but peaceful life here in their
magic kingdom, where the malice and inquisitiveness of
mortals could not come to disturb them. They listened
with heads bent in reverent attention to the words of
their king, and then went in different directions to obey
his commands; but Laurin descended from his throne,
laid aside crown and sceptre, and went down the golden
steps to the rose-garden, which his beloved daughter, the
only one left to him of all his circle of blooming children,
tended with skilful hand. The lovely maiden was walking
among the garden paths, tying up the young roses and
moistening their roots with water from the golden vessel
in her hand, when she saw her royal father coming. She
hastened to meet him, took his strong hand with respectful
tenderness, and led him joyfully through the blooming
beds. Meantime, the little dwarfs had set busily to
work: some were leading their herds of chamois through
a secret gate out to the mountains of the upper world,
that they might there enjoy earthly air and light; others
hastened to the clear silvery springs which watered this
realm, to guide their waters of blessing up to the meadows
il, ia ol
HANSSEE KIG LARINS KNGDO INTHEM4GI MIROR
F. C~p 6z.-
The Dwarf of Venice. 65
and woods of the children of men, that they might yield
a more abundant increase; others, again, took pickaxes,
mallets, and dark lanterns, all made of precious metal,
and went into the heart of the surrounding mountains
to bring their hidden wealth to light, and to increase still
more the royal treasure, countless though their king's
hoards already were.
Glittering veins of gold streaked the stone, and out of
the dark rock bubbled springs, whose clear waters flashed
and sparkled, as if they bore onward with them grains of
the precious and much longed-for metal. In a dark
grotto lay something white and motionless like a
slumbering eagle; but at the flash of the lanterns it roused
itself, and the white serpent queen lifted her gem-crowned
head. The drops that trickled down the walls of the
grotto gleamed like jewels in the light of her diadem;
but the serpent bent her head again, and coiled herself
up for further sleep, for she knew well that the little
dwarfs, unlike the robber sons of men, would never
stretch forth their hands to seize the jewel on her brow.
And there, at yonder spring, knelt a dark form busily
engaged in gathering the gold sand from the bottom of
the water, and putting it into the wallet beside him;
but the figure could not be rccognised in the shadow
which lay deep at that spot. But when some of the
industrious little men drew near with their tficikerinK*
lanterns, the man at the spring turned his head and
nodded to them a friendly greeting, which they returned
as if he was an old and (ear acquaintance.
"Then the boy recognised by his grey loclks ,and his dark
66 The Dwarf of Venice.
eyes full of gravity and wisdom the old man who had
been showing him the mountain mirror. He raised his
eyes in astonishment from the magic glass, and now for
the first time he perceived that he held the mirror in his
own hand, and that the old man was no longer by his side.
"Ah! how thoughtless I am; I promised to help him,
and now the kind old man is tiring himself, unaided,
with his heavy work," said Hans in self-reproach. Then
he hid the magic mirror in his bosom and turned towards
the hole which formed the entrance to the treasures of
the mountains. But just as he was stooping to creep in,
the old man himself came out, bearing on his shoulder
the shabby wallet with its priceless contents. "Forgive
me, sir," begged Hans in a tone of true sorrow, "for
having kept my promise so ill, but my mind was spell-
bound by the wonders I beheld."
"It matters not, my son," replied the old man mildly;
"I have always had to work alone and without help, and
I will continue to do so. All I ask of thee is a night's
rest on the hay and a bite of bread when thou canst spare
it. But come now! Seest thou how the cloud above
the waterfall is gleaming rosy red ? It is the reflection
of the dawn. I would not that thy herds should wait
for thee, and thy harsh master find thee behindhand with
thy work. So let us hasten!"
And back they hurried on the dangerous path by
which they had come; the beech leaves gleamed in the
first light of the new day as they passed through the
wood, and the thrushes were just beginning their
The Dwarf of Venice. 67
Soon they stood on the ledge of rock, and a few
minutes brought them to the trap-door. The old man
slipped in to snatch a little slumber before he began
another day's wanderings, but the boy could not think
of lying in his dark loft after all the splendour he had
left behind, so he went to let out his goats and take them
to the mountain. But to-day he could not bear to stay
as usual in the tiny cottage where he performed the light
duties of the mountain herdsman, while the goats
clambered alone up the steep walls of rock in search of
juicy plants, and came back uncalled at the sound of the
evening bell. To-day he climbed with them up to the
highest peaks, for he hoped to find some opening through
which he might see into the magic kingdom which the
mountain mirror had held before his view.
It was, indeed, a wondrous land which stretched far
and wide before him in fresh and fragrant beauty. It
was his native land shining in unimagined splendour.
Crystal lakes gleamed in the distance, and the snow-
crowned mountain peaks glowed in the morning sunlight
like the roses in King Laurin's magic garden. But there
was no palace here, no lovely maiden among her flowers,
and no old and yet nimble dwarfs. But there, far away,
scarcely visible even to the sharpest eye, a little black
dot moved along the winding mountain path, and the
flashes which now and then darted from it over to the
rock where Hans was standing amid his goats told him
that it was the old man with the magic mirror.
"Oh! how I wish it was evening," sighed the boy,
looking longingly at the sun, which had scarcely run a
68 The Dwarf of Venice.
quarter of its appointed course. At last it was evening,
and herd-boy and herds hastened homewards. The boy
did not stay long in the house. With a great piece of
bread and meat in his hand he climbed the steep ladder
to the hay-loft, and found to his joy the old man there
already, waiting to receive the food with humble thanks.
Hans lost no time in going to sleep, that the longed-for
hour of the night journey might come the more quickly;
and when again a sudden light flashed across his eyes,
he opened them in delight and rose. But it was not the
brilliance of the magic mirror that had awakened him,
but the beam of the morning sun. He looked round in
astonishment; he had slept so soundly that he had lost
his expected journey. It was now clear daylight, and
the goats were loudly calling their young master to his
duty. He gave a hasty glance at his companion, who
still lay in deep slumber. Whether he had slept thus
since yesterday evening, or whether he was resting after
his nightly labours, Hans had no time to ask. Quickly
he ran down the ladder into the farm-yard, where all was
life; then he took his shepherd's bag, which hung behind
the door, already filled with the daily portion of food,
and hurried with his impatient flock up towards the
Again he looked wistfully from his high rocky seat
down on the blooming meadows, and recognized the
little man with the magic mirror in the remote distance,
and determined to keep his eyes open the whole night.
But when evening came, and he sought his couch,
scarcely had he lain down by the side of his aged friend,
The Dwarf of Venice. 69
when deep sleep fell on his eyelids, and left them only at
the glance of the morning sun. Haste and timidity always
prevented him from disturbing the old man in his sleep,
and telling him once more the fervent wishes of his
heart; and so every morning he bore his unfulfilled
desires up with him to the mountain. Thus summer
passed, and when one morning the first rough breath of
autumn chilled the boy's brow, there was a rustling
behind the rock on which he sat, and the old man, who
had been his companion for so many months, stood
before him. The wallet on his shoulder was full, and in
his hand he held a staff as if he was ready to return to
his distant home, for so indeed he was.
"I come, my son," said the little man with his old
grave kindliness, "to thank thee for shelter and food,
and to ask thee if thou hast any wish which I can gratify."
Hans shouted with joy; but the old man raised his
finger gravely-he seemed to read into the boy's very
"Neglect not sacred duties for the sake of idle
curiosity," said he in a tone of warning, and the boy
blushed and was silent. Then Hans thought of his good
mother down in the valley, whose cottage he passed
every morning and evening, and found the poor woman
always at the window waiting to whisper a loving word,
a motherly blessing to her only child. But this morning
her eyes had been dim with trouble, and when he asked
what was wrong she had answered with a sigh-
"Nothing, my good child, that thou canst alter; I am
only thinking of the approach of winter, and how the
70 The Dwarf of Venice.
cold wind will whistle through my battered cottage, and
how I have no warm clothing to protect me from the
All this flashed like lightning through the boy's mind;
tremblingly he clasped his hands, and a prayer for help
fell from his lips.
"That is right, my son," said the old man kindly,
handing the boy a little coin. Despise this not for its
mean appearance, and never use it foolishly; and when I
return next year, let me find thy hand as open and thy
heart as pure as I have found them now. Farewell."
He nodded kindly to the boy, took the cloak from his
shoulder, spread it on the rock, and placed himself on it,
staff in hand, and with the burden on his shoulders.
Immediately the mantle rose, and hovered before the
boy's astonished eyes, bearing the little man up into the
air. The old man waved farewell from his airy height;
then he pointed southwards with his staff, and swift as
an arrow flew the magic mantle towards his far-off home.
The boy watched the wonderful journey with devoutly
folded hands. Like the beat of eagle's wings was the
motion of the dark garment through the white clouds,
and the little man kept his balance perfectly, he guid-
ing his flight with the staff in his left hand, while the
magic mirror in his right gleamed in the beams of the
morning sun like the diadem of carbuncles on the head
of the serpent queen. The last flash died away at last,
and the boy sat once more alone on his rocky seat,
dreamily gazing on the gold coin in his hand. It had
evidently passed through many a hand before, for it
The Dwarf of Venice. 71
needed a sharp eye to trace the impression on its surface;
on one side the lion of San Marco stretched his royal
limbs, and with raised head kept guard over Venice, the
Queen of the Sea, whose foot the Adriatic kisses with its
caressing waves, wedded to her anew each year by the
Doge's ring. The other side bore the name of one of the
rulers of that proud Republic. It was scarcely legible,
and it had been long eclipsed by a younger glory.
The boy, indeed, had no key to the understanding of
the image and inscription, but he felt confident the gift
out of such a hand must bring blessing in spite of its
mean appearance, and so he kept the coin carefully in
his pocket. To-day he started joyfully at the tone of
the evening bell, said his prayer with more than usual
fervour, and hastened with winged feet after his thriving
"Just look, dear mother, what I have brought you,"
he cried joyfully through the window of the cottage,
showing the old man's gift. "Do not despise it," he
begged earnestly, as he saw his mother's doubting smile;
"he told me not to despise it, the kind, powerful man
who gave it to me. Put it with your savings, and let us
see what will happen." As he spoke, his eyes shone so
brightly with joy and confidence that his good mother
could not bear to vex him by her doubts; she promised
to lay the gold piece in the drawer, and bade her boy
good night with a loving smile.
Ten springs had passed over Tyrol's mountains and
valleys, and there had been many changes in the time.
72 The DzCarf of Venice.
The young trees had grown tall and leafy; the children
had become men and women. Hans was no longer a
goat-herd, but a clever senner, as they call the mountain
shepherds in the Tyrol, and now the farmer's herds had
been entrusted to his sole care during the rest of their
stay on the higher pastures, to which he had led them
early in spring. The setting sun glowed on the lofty
glacier before him, and its reflection flowed down to the
night pasture, and hung like a golden veil over the pine
trees, beneath whose wide branches the herds had lain
down for their nightly rest. But Hans stood before his
cottage, which he had entered to-day for the first time
as senner, and gazed joyfully on his new charge.
The valleys were already slumbering in the evening
shadows, but the peaks of the glacier were aglow with
purple, and reminded the young man of an image that
he had long borne in his soul with secret longing; he
thought now, as he had not done for months, of the rose-
garden before the crystal palace, and of the little man
who had been his yearly companion in the farmer's
hay-loft, and who, every autumn, had climbed the
mountain side to say farewell to him, and then with his
wallet full of gold had returned on his magic mantle to
his distant home. He had never asked the old man for
a glance into the mountain mirror since he had received
that grave warning about idle curiosity, and these
memories of King Laurin's realm had gradually faded.
But his reverence for the strange old man had remained
unchanged, and every day he had shared his supper with
him out of gratitude for the parting gift which Hans had
The Dwarf of Venice. 73
long ago taken home to his mother. He had not hoped
or promised too much. With the little man's dim old coin
blessing had come into the hut of poverty, and the
money in the drawer had never grown less. There was
always some left, even when they erected on the site of
the tumble-down cottage a firmly built and comfortable
house, and though after that they bought mdfiy a much
needed piece of furniture and warm clothing for the
winter. There was no need now to creep in secretly at
even to receive the gifts of the kind-hearted farmer's
wife without her miserly husband's knowledge. They
were able first to keep one cow, and then two, and then-
Hans looked joyfully round on the slumbering herds-
four fine cows now rested there, his mother's property,
which he had been allowed to lead up to the mountain
pastures to graze with his master's cattle. The churlish
farmer, indeed, had never granted him this favour, but
his unkindly eyes had closed for the last sleep the
autumn before, and the eyes which now shone in the
farm-house were so mild and lovely that it was a pleasure
to obey their glance. What were these eyes like I
Hans tried to remember as he gazed at the glacier,
whose purple had changed to a pale rosy hue. Yes, yes,
now he knows. The eyes of Anneli, whom he had loved
from childhood as his own dear little sister, were just
like the eyes of that fair maiden who used to walk in
the rose-garden by the dwarf king's side, and this brought
him back to the beginning of his reverie.
And now he began to wonder if the little man, if he
returned, would rest at night in the farmer's hay-loft, or,
74 The Dwarf of Venice.
according to his old custom, climb up the mountain to
seek him here. Then he heard, not far off, something
like the sigh of a weary wanderer. The youth's sharp
ear was directed attentively towards the path which led
from the village to the senner's cottage, and which was
now veiled in the double shadow of the trees and of the
falling night. Yes, it was coming from that direction,
and immediately Hans was ready to offer help. He took
his lantern in his hand, seized his alpenstock, and ran
down the path between the rocks and the dew-covered
bushes. He had not far to seek, for there, on a stone
by the wayside, sat a dwarf in a dark and shabby
garment, and a well-remembered wallet hung from his
bent shoulders. The young man cast a hasty glance at
the figure, and then shouted aloud with delight. It was
the old man of whom he had just been thinking, and it
was with grateful emotion that he found that his old
friend had not forgotten him, but that, in spite of the
darkness and his increasing infirmities, he had toiled up
the path to the mountains.
"Good evening, sir," said he joyfully, bending as
reverently to kiss the dwarf's withered hand as if he had
been a lord of the land. "You must be tired ; take my
arm, and let me carry your sack; that's the way. And
now, courage for a hundred steps or so, and we are at
the end of our journey." And with such care and
reverence as are shown rather to great princes than to
such a poor little dwarf, Hans led the old man over the
last difficulties of the mountain path, and over the
threshold of his hut. Then he hastened to take the
The Dwarf of Venice. 75
covering off his couch of moss and spread it over the
wooden bench before the hearth, that the old man might
rest his tired limbs on a softer seat. Next he kindled a
fire, and made a fritter which the senner who had preceded
him had taught him how to make. He had no drink to
offer but good, sweet, new milk; but Anneli's hand had
provided richly for the wants of the new senner, and the
"little wooden cupboard in the corner was stocked with
good things from the farm-house. The young man
searched in it joyfully for something dainty for his
guest, and felt proud and happy in his unwonted work.
A white cloth was spread over the coarse oaken table,
and on it was placed the delicate fritter, with a plate of
eggs and bacon sending forth fragrance by its side.
Proudly the young man brought his guest to the well-set
table, and both enjoyed its good things in silent comfort.
Then Hans led the old man, tenderly as a child his
beloved father, to his own couch of moss, and when the
little dwarf sank on it with a look of love and gratitude,
the young man spread the covering over him as he used
to spread his jacket years ago in the hay-loft. Then he
sat down before the fire that the flickering flame might
not disturb the old man, and when at last his deep
breathing told that he was asleep, the youth rose and
went out into the open air. The moss-couch in the
senner's cottage was not broad, and Hans must not spoil
the old man's comfort, so he went to the night pasture,
where the herds lay sleeping, and sank to rest in the soft
moss beneath the aged pines. They let their evergreen
branches fall over him protectingly, and the long moss
76 The Dzwarf of Venice.
that hung from them served as covering to the youthful
sleeper, while the glacier torrents in the distant ravines
sang his lullaby.
The days passed by in keener enjoyment than even
his boyish dreams had pictured. The hours were bright
with happy sunshine, in spite of the double burden of
work which he, contrary to the custom of his predecessors,
had undertaken in the consciousness of his own powers
and fidelity. And when the day had flown by with its
quick succession of pleasure and toil, the evening hour
would come when the beloved guest sat at the fire and at
the oaken table, and sometimes the hitherto so silent
lips would let fall words of grave wisdom.
Then came the hour of rest, calling the old man to the
moss-bed under the senner's roof; but Hans slipped out
when the fire was dead to the shelter of the old pine trees,
and slept in their protection, lulled to slumber by the
song of the glacier stream.
One warm spring evening, when the jagged ice-crown
of the glacier gleamed with a bluish light beneath the
full moon's beams, he did not turn towards his soft couch
beneath the trees, but hastened to the grove of pines
which rose above him on a steep wall of rock. With a
sharp axe on his shoulder, gleaming brightly in the
moonlight, he stepped along the well-known path across
the green meadows to the dark ravine which separated him
from the wood on the rocky height. Was the dream of
his childhood now really fulfilled-was he going to look
through the magic mirror into the heart of the mountains?
Oh no. The spirit world had lost its power over his
The Dwarf of Venice. 77
soul. His thoughts and desires belonged now more than
ever to real life.
A few days ago Anneli had come up with her mother
to the senner's cottage to see about the produce of the
mountain farm, as the farmers are in the habit of doing
when the herds have been some time on the high pastures;
and while the mother inspected the dairy, tried the
cheese, and tasted the balls of butter, Anneli stood
outside with Hans and the grazing herds, and chatted
with him pleasantly as in days gone by.
"And do you remember, good Hans, what day to-
morrow is ?" she asked with an arch look in her eyes,
when Hans, after thinking in vain, shook his head.
"Do you not know?" she said, laughing. Why,
Hans, to-morrow is the first of May, and I am curious to
know if I shall have a May-pole raised for me."
"You, Anneli !" cried Hans, looking in astonishment
on her beautiful face-" you will have many a tree ; they
call you already 'the pearl of the valley,' and the rich
farmers' sons will fight for the honour," he added in a low
This tone thrilled Anneli's heart; she leant towards
him with innocent confidence, and said with emotion-
"Let them, Hans; but you know that I shall take
pleasure in no May-pole but one."
It was these words which were driving Hans now in
the silence of night through the dangerous ravine and
the foaming torrent, and up the steep precipice to the
pine wood. Here he felled the chosen tree skilfully, tore
the bark from the smooth stem, and bore the trunk
78 The Dwarf of Venice.
carefully on his shoulder through shrubs and narrow
mountain ways down into the valley. His path was dark
and difficult, and jutting rocks often hemmed his foot-
steps; but his love for Anneli kept him from feeling
weary, and the thought of her joy always gave him new
strength. Thus, after hours of toil, he arrived at last in
the village, and stood before Anneli's door. Then he took
a packet carefully out of his shepherd's bag, and with the
prettiest ribbons which his mother had been able to find
in the nearest town he adorned the tree; and that Anneli's
heart might make no mistake, he tied at the top a bunch
of alproses, such as he used to bring every evening when
he was the goat-herd and she a lovely little child. Then
he planted the pole firmly in the ground right before
Anneli's window, and with a glance at the bright ribbons
fluttering gaily in the wind like the streamers from a
ship, he turned joyfully towards the mountain and his
It was evening, and the farewell sunbeams shed their
gold on the mountain meadows and the senner's dark
flowing hair, as he went with pail and stool to milk the
herds just returning from the pasture. Well he loved the
mountain, the herds, and the evenings full of sunset
splendour and of peace. But to-day he had no eye for
the glory around him; he thought of the valley and of
Anneli, who was to join to-day for the first time in the
village dance, and who would be led by some richer
hand. Hitherto, he had thought himself passing rich;
to-day, for the first time, he sighed over his poverty.
He sat down beside his favourite, Brownie, and began to
The Dwarf of Venice. 79
milk; but in the middle of his work his hands dropped
on his lap, and he began to wonder who besides himself
had set up trees for Anneli, and whether she had known
his among them all. Surely she must have. The bunch
of alproses at the top would tell her, and he smiled to
himself, and began again to milk.
Then a well-known voice called to him from the
cottage, Hallo, Hans! where are you hiding? I have
been searching the whole place for you."
Hans shouted back an answer, and there appeared
above the hedge the face of Seppi, the only one of the
farm-servants who did not grudge Hans his place in
Anneli's favour, and who had always remained his firm
and faithful friend.
"Well, Seppi, what good news do you bring ?" asked
Hans, with a feeling of presentiment. "What brings you
so late to the mountain ?"
"It is Anneli, self-willed girl," answered Seppi, laughing.
"She will not go to the dance without you. Quick,
quick, put on your best clothes. The fiddlers are ready,
and the maidens waiting to be fetched. I will stay here
in your place to-night." Hans darted up like an arrow
and flew into the cottage, while Seppi took his seat
beside the cows, and went on with the unfinished work.
In a few minutes Hans appeared in holiday clothes,
and in his hat a garland and a ribbon like those on
Anneli's May-pole. Now, Seppi, take good care of the
cattle," said he, coming back to the hedge. You have
known the beasts for years-ever since you were here for
a while as under-senner. Good-bye." And he hurried off.
80 The Dwarf of Venice.
But suddenly he remembered the little man, and that
he had not told Seppi about the expected guest.
Notwithstanding his eagerness about Anneli and the
evening's merry-making, he ran back and commended
the dwarf to the care of his astonished friend. But now
nothing kept him back. Swift as the chamois before the
hunter he flew down the steep path, and reached the
gate of the farm just as the festal procession was moving
along the village street to escort the "pearl of the
valley to the dance.
She was waiting for him at the gate, and watching
impatiently for his coming. "I am so glad you are here
at last," she said, stretching out both her hands towards
him. "You shall be my partner; I have chosen you out
of all the lads who have set up May-poles for me. Just
look how yours looks down on the other contemptible
little things. Seppi, the good fellow, went up to bring
me the bunch of alproses and the ribbon, that I might
wear them for your sake."
She pointed smilingly to her fair head, which was gay
with a sky-blue ribbon, and to the bouquet at her breast.
Hans looked at her in a rapture of delight, and grasped
her dear hand more firmly, for the procession had now
reached the farm-house, and the youths who had set up
May-poles in Anneli's honour came out from the rest
and stood before her, that she might choose one as her
partner in the dance. But great were the astonishment
and envy of them all when they saw that the former
goat-herd had been preferred to them, and although they
had to consent to this arrangement, yet poor Hans owned
The Dwarf of Venice. 81
from this moment a number more of bitter foes. But he
neither thought of this nor feared it; he led the "pearl"
which had fallen to his lot out through the gate, and his
face shone with happy excitement as he joined the
ANNELI SEES THE MAY-POLE ERECTED BY HANS.
procession, and led his fair partner to the linden-trees
where the dance was to be.
Hans had always counted himself a happy fellow, but as
he now led the lovely Anneli in the merry dance beneath
the green linden-trees, it seemed as if he had never known
the green linden-trees, it seemed as if he had never known
82 The Dwarf of Venice.
before what happiness meant, and his whole past life he
counted now as nothing. But this life offers no lasting
happiness, and the purer it is the shorter is its reign.
Anneli looked up at him with unconscious tenderness,
and whispered that she would not dance that night with
any one but him. The maiden's softly spoken words
reached the ear of Nazerl, the son of a rich neighbour;
and anger and envy blazed forth in his soul.
"Anneli, you must dance once with me," he said,
stepping up to her; but his petition sounded more like an
"You know, Nazerl," answered the girl, "that Hans
is my partner; you must ask his consent." Now
Hans was just bringing a glass to offer Anneli some
Listen, goat-boy," said the rich farmer's son haughtily
to the poor senner, I will let you know that I mean to
dance now with Anneli." And he seized her hand.
Hans was of a peaceable disposition, and his new
happiness had not made him proud, but this taunt was
too much for him.
Let go her hand, Nazerl," he said quietly, though his
voice trembled. "She may not dance with you."
"May she not, indeed, you beggar ?" cried Nazerl;
"then take this," and he struck Hans in the face with
Anneli screamed, and poor Hans lost all control over
himself; without thinking, he hurled the glass in his
tormentor's face, and with a loud groan Nazerl fell pale
and bloody to the ground. Again a cry of terror escaped
The Dwarf of Venice. 83
Anneli's lips, but it was not for the sake of the fallen
Nazerl, but for Hans, whose thoughtless deed must bring
him into trouble.
The music ceased, and all hastened to the motionless
form that lay stretched on the grass to offer help, while
Hans stood by in speechless astonishment at his own
Then he felt his hand seized, and Anneli's gentle voice
whispered in his ear, Flee, oh flee, dear Hans, at once,
for a minute's delay may make flight hopeless."
But when Hans still hesitated, she caught his arm
and, unnoticed by the others, drew him away till they
stood at some distance from the lindens, and were hidden
from their companions by the trees. Hans still looked
stunned and paralysed.
"Hans," she said more earnestly than before, laying
her little hand upon his arm-" Hans, listen to me and
follow me. Flee as quickly as you can, for all, all are
against you, because I chose you in preference to them.
Flee, and hide yourself somewhere till the noise of this
is over and Nazerl is recovered."
"Ah, Anneli," answered Hans shuddering, he is dead!
Did you not see how pale and motionless he lay ?"
Then there is all the more need for you to flee," said
the maiden decidedly; "listen, they are coming; go,
go," she urged anxiously.
"Farewell, Anneli. Do not be angry with me, and
never forget poor Hans," and he looked down at her
with sorrowful eyes.
Never, never, Hans," she said in a firm voice, for the
84 The Dwarf of Venice.
experience of the last few minutes had ripened her self-
knowledge and her will. But you will come back some
day, guiltless and happy; I know you will. But now
go. They are coming to look for you."
He stooped, and, overcome with the sorrow of the
moment, pressed a kiss on her sweet lips.
"Farewell, farewell, my Anneli," he whispered once
more, and then he turned and fled like a hunted chamois.
It was dark on the path along which he hastened, but
darker in his soul. The short-lived happiness to which
he had so joyfully opened his heart was gone, perhaps
never to return; even the thought of Anneli's love,
which she had so frankly revealed to him, could not
scatter the dark shadows.
If Nazerl was dead, then he was a murderer, and must
remain so all his life, no matter what might be his punish-
ment and his repentance. He shuddered, and hastened
trembling up the very path which his joyful footsteps
had pressed a few hours before, when his heart was full
of vague but sweetest hopes.
How all, all had changed in so short a time!
The moon, which before had beamed almost with the
golden light of day, seemed now as pale as Nazerl's face;
the night wind moaned through the trees like the sighs
of a dying man, and the harp-like music of the glacier
stream sounded like avenging thunder. Hans flew
onwards, despair in his heart, great drops of anguish on
the brow so lately crowned with calm content. There
lay the night pasture. The moonbeams fell across it, and
showed him the slumbering animals. He pressed his
The Dwarf of Venice. 85
lips closer at the thought that he must say farewell to
the herd that had grown so dear to him.
Soon he stood at the senner's cottage. He looked
through the window. All was peaceful as usual. The
bed was still unoccupied, and the old man was not at the
table; but Seppi was merrily turning the fritters and
whistling a cheerful tune.
Seppi, Seppi !" cried poor Hans outside, as he
knocked with trembling finger against the panes.
Seppi turned his head in surprise, and when he saw
Hans standing out in the moonlight, he came to the
window and drew back the bolt.
"What's the matter, Hans ? Is anything wrong ?" he
"Alas! yes," sighed Hans, and he told his friend in
hurried words the misfortune that had befallen him.
"The impudent fellow," cried Seppi angrily. "You
may be sure your reminder will not do him any harm;
and as for his being dead, you know, Hans, 'weeds wont
die.' So don't be vexing yourself beyond measure.
And are you going away ? Where will you go ?"
"I do not know, Seppi," answered Hans sadly-" as
far as my feet will carry me; away from my beloved
country, perhaps for ever;" and he wiped a tear from his
cheek. But you must do me one kindness, that I may
go content. As soon as you can get down to the valley,
go to my good old mother, and tell her not to grieve too
much. Tell her that I will try to do right, though I
must leave the mountains of the Tyrol; and beg Anneli
never, never to forget me. And one thing more, Seppi.
86 The Dwarf of Venice.
Take good care of the little man, and let him want for
nothing. Promise me this."
Seppi nodded, and his good, honest face had a cheery
smile on it as he gave his hand to his friend, who hurried
away on his restless wandering. He gave a hasty glance
at the night pastures, which he now reached; the long
mossy veil of the old pine-trees, beneath which he had so
often slept, fluttered in the wind like mourning banners.
His favourite brown cow raised her head slowly, and the
bell round her neck sounded like a sad farewell. Hot
tears flowed from his eyes, but he had no time for long
leave-taking, he must hurry on. Yonder rose the rugged
brow of the glacier, with its furrows lighted by the weird
moonbeams. He passed it by winding paths through
the gloom of the fir-trees, now climbing steep ascents,
now descending into a ravine with its foaming torrent-
paths known to no eye and foot save those of the boldest
At last he stood on the lofty ridge from which the
road led downwards into an unknown valley and
unfamiliar fields. He threw a last glance back towards
his own loved mountain, then he hastened without further
delay on his sorrowful journey.
The golden sunlight of evening lay once more on
mountain and valley, and floated on the waves of the
lovely river Inn, which flowed as peacefully as if it had
never tried to foam and rage like its brothers in the
mountains. A youth was descending the mountain with
tottering footsteps. It was the last of the hills that had
The Dwarf of Venice. 87
lain between him and the great and populous town that
stood in the valley below. His blue eyes looked dim
and sunken, his long hair hung tangled round his head,
and his once respectable clothing bore traces of hasty
and toilsome journeying.
The son of the quiet mountains looked down in
amazement at the bustle in the town below, and a deep
sigh escaped his lips. But he collected himself, and
descended the last declivity to the bank of the stream,
across which a bridge led to the town. At one end of this
bridge stood a watch-house, for it was a needful thing in
those unsettled times to keep a sharp look-out-on friend
and foe. Two soldiers sat at the oaken table before the
door. The young man went up to the building, and
stood timidly a few steps from the men. At last the
elder of the two raised his head.
Look, Franzerl," said he, after a hasty glance at the
young wanderer; "there comes a lad from your mountains,
but he does not look so cheerful as you did when you
Franzerl looked up, but scarcely had he met the
wanderer's eye than he sprang up and with a cry of joy
caught his arm.
Hans, dear Hans, where have you come from ?" he
cried. Do not you remember me? Do you not know
Franzerl, with whom you and Anneli used so often to
play, and with whom you so often shared your bread and
cheese, when my poor mother had nothing to give to her
hungry little Franzerl ?"
Hans-for it was he-looked with joyful surprise at
88 The Dwarf of Venice.
the cheerful young face, and recognized at once his old
playfellow, who years ago had left his native valley to
push his fortune in the great world, and whose friends
had long believed him to be dead. He had become a
soldier; but in spite of his stern employment his heart
had remained as warm and true as ever. He drew his
old friend to the table where the other man sat, and
offered him some of the fiery drink in the glass before
Drink, my good fellow," he said pressingly, drink-
you seem to be in need of refreshment-and then tell me
what brings you hither."
The rough kindness touched the poor wanderer's
heart, and acted like magic on his weary spirit. It was
the first familiar face that he had seen for many days--
the first pleasant reminder of days gone by, and he found
it sweet to open his heart to this friend of his childhood,
and tell him of the folly that had driven him from home,
and how he had wandered since from mountain to
mountain begging a bite of bread and a drink of milk
from kind-hearted herdsmen; for he had not ventured to
go down to the villages, where the news of what had
happened might have arrived before him. And now," he
said, I am going away-away to some far-off country,
where they know nothing of Nazerl or of Hans, or even
of the beautiful land of the Tyrol."
"You are very foolish," laughed Franzerl. "Are you
quite sure that Nazerl is dead ? He had always a thick
skull, as I know full well. Don't be a fool, but stay here
and become a brave soldier like us. Believe me, it is
The Dwarf of Venice. 89
a merry life, and it is possible to be a good man even
under this coat."
Hans hesitated a moment; he had never thought of
this, but Franzerl overwhelmed him with persuasive
"Look here, Hans; to-morrow or next day we are
going to Italy, a country that, they say, is even more
lovely than our own. Ours is a cheerful life, and when
you come back in two or three years grass will have
grown over the whole affair, and they will not dare to
say a word to you after you have worn the Emperor's
"But Anneli ?" sighed Hans.
"You cannot see Anneli for a time at any rate, and if
she is really worthy of you, she will be true to you."
Yes, Franzerl was right, Hans saw that; so he agreed
to his proposal, and went with his friend to the recruiting
sergeant, who was glad to receive the fine fellow into
It was autumn. The morning wind swept over the
Adriatic, rippling its deep blue waves, and played with
the dark hair of a youth who leant in deep reverie
against the archway of the Piazza di San Marco, gazing
dreamily at the flow of the Grand Canal, which, after
cutting Venice with its great curve, mingles its waters
with the waves of the Adriatic.
It was Hans. The mountains and valleys of his native
land lay far away. It was long since he had left the last
mountain-pass of the Tyrol far behind, but he could not
90 The Dwarf of Venice.
leave his love for home there at the boundary-it filled
him with secret longings in this beautiful, but foreign
land. What good did all the splendour of this strange
country do him-all the lofty palaces and art-trophies of
the queenly city-all the sweet melody of this unknown
tongue? Could one of those musical sounds be compared
with Anneli's voice when she said, "I am so glad you
have come, dear Hans"? Could one of these marble
towers attempt to rival the jagged glacier peaks when
they shone with the purple of the evening sky ? And
when the horn sounded at sunset through the mountains,
echoed a hundred-fold from clefts and deep ravines, and
dying softly amid the shades of the valley, who would
compare with that the tones of the music which day and
night hovered on the waters through the streets of
Hans raised his tearful eyes: the sky, at least, must
be the same which spans the valleys of the Tyrol. Then
he noticed a figure on a slender pillar-a figure which he
must have seen long years before. A brazen lion with
a proudly flowing mane raised its kingly head, as if
keeping watch over the city below, and over the sea
that kissed its feet. The young man dashed the rising
tear from his eye, and looked thoughtfully up a't the
kingly beast. Yes, indeed, that was the same lion which
was marked on the coin that the little man gave him
long ago, and which in the secret drawer had kept watch
and guard over his mother's treasure. A smile passed
like a sunbeam over his troubled face as he thought of
that sunny autumn morning when the old man said
The Dwarf of Venice. 91
good-bye to him, and when he watched him from the
rock as he sailed through the air on his magic mantle.
"Oh! I wish I had such a ship," he said with a sigh.
Then, in the familiar accents of his native tongue, the
words sounded in his ear, "Good morning, Hans."
Hans started-there was no one near. Had a dream
mocked him? But no, there it was again-" Look up,
Hans, up here." And Hans looked up.
Above him, out of the high bow-window of one of
those proud palaces, leant a familiar head with snowy
locks and dark earnest eyes that smiled kindly down on
He uttered a cry of joy, his first since he came to this
foreign land, and quick as an arrow he darted into the
archway, and entered the portal of the palace. His foot
flew over marble steps and velvet carpets; but he had no
eye for that. On he went, up to where,. leaning over the
golden banister of the landing-place, a noble and well-
remembered face awaited him. Full of emotion, he
stood before the old man, who gave him his hand in
loving greeting. No longer a shabby coat, but a garment
of black velvet covered his form, and his withered but
wonder-working hand gleamed with costly diamonds.
But the youth's affection broke the barriers of this
marvellous change, and tenderly, as on that spring evening
on the mountain when he had brought the old man into
his cottage, he pressed his lips against the kind hand, and
said from the fulness of his heart, "God bless you, sir.
I bless Him for letting me find you here in this foreign
92 The Dwarf of Venice.
"Not a foreign land, Hans; I am in my own country,"
answered the noble Venetian, as he led the young man
through the splendid halls, whose stately walls were
adorned with the masterpieces of those immortal artists
who called Italy their home. Then they sat down
HANS RECEIVES A HEARTY WELCOME FROM AN OLD FRIEND.
together in the wide bow-window, and Hans looked
joyfully into the old man's venerable countenance.
"So you did not forget the poor herdsman in your
splendid home ?" said he.
The Dwarf of Venice. 93
"Forget thee, Hans!" replied the noble Venetian-
"forget thee, who didst think of me in the midst of love
and pleasure, and even in thy flight, when thy heart was
filled with deadly anguish! No, indeed. I long to
reward those years of faithful love, and perhaps the
opportunity has come at last."
"Oh, sir," cried Hans with shining eyes, will you tell
me how things go at home, where you have been more
lately than I ? Tell me if Nazerl recovered, if my mother
has ceased to grieve about me, and if Anneli still
Nazerl is dead-but through no fault of thine," said
the old man soothingly, for Hans had looked terror-
stricken at his opening words. He soon recovered from
the trifling wound caused by thy hand; but his own
foolhardiness drove him up to the highest points of rock
after a chamois, and a rash step hurled him into the
ravine. It was not till long afterwards that they found
his mangled corpse. As for thy mother and Anneli, thou
mayest see for thyself."
So saying he rose, stepped up to a richly carved
cabinet, and took from a secret compartment a flashing
jewel. The young man recognized it well; it was the
wondrous mountain mirror; and now he held it once
more in his hand, and looked searchingly on its shining
surface. Light mists rolled over it; they grew gradually
thinner and thinner, till at last there lay before him in
the splendour of the morning sunlight his own beloved
valley, and the substantial farm-house, Anneli's home.
He gave no heed to the cheerful stir in barn and stable,
94 The Dwarf of Venice.
nor to the busy preparation for the returning herds.
No, his eye pressed through the clear window-panes to a
well-remembered room. It was quiet and cosy, as in
days gone by. At the window sat Anneli, fair and
lovable as ever, but her countenance bore traces of gentle
melancholy. The snow-white thread rested in her
hands, and her lips moved in earnest talk with the two
women at the other window-the farmer's widow and
the old mother that Hans was longing to comfort. It
seemed to Hans that the conversation concerned him,
and as if now and then his name fell from Anneli's rosy
lips. And every time she raised her eyes towards the
opposite wall, Hans followed the direction of her gaze,
and saw, carefully preserved by glass and frame, a well-
remembered blue ribbon and bunch of withered mountain
flowers. At this sign of faithful memory tears started to
the young man's eyes, and when he had dried them, and
looked again on the magic mirror, the dear vision had
vanished, and the glass flashed once more in the light
of the Italian sun.
"Listen, my son; I will tell thee the wish that my
heart cherishes for thee," said the old man, as he laid the
magic mirror carefully back in the cabinet. I am alone
and lonely, the last representative of a name of ancient
renown. When I was young and strong, I was filled
with a desire after secret knowledge. I sought the
gold of the mountains far and near-thou knowest
this well-heaping treasures on treasures, and all the
while I never noticed that I was growing old, and was
still alone in life. Stay now with me. I will enrich
The Dwarf of Venice. 95
thy mind with the treasures of my knowledge, and
thy heart shall remain pure. Thou shalt be my son,
the heir of my wealth; and thy name shall be in-
scribed among the noblest names in the golden book
The young man clasped his hands, and leant towards
his aged friend. "Forgive me, noble sir," he begged
humbly, "if I cannot gratify your wishes; but what can
riches and honour do for a heart that is pining with
longings after home? The scene which I have just
witnessed-the vision of Anneli and my home-has
shown me where alone my happiness must be sought.
But if you wish to grant me a favour, then loose the
fetters that bind me here, and let me go as quickly as
possible back to my loved mountains."
The old man sat a moment in silent thought. I
would fain have kept thee with me," he said at last, "for
thy heart is true and pure; but my wishes must yield to
So saying, he rose and once more opened the cupboard
which hid his magic hoards. From its most secret recess
he brought a dark object, and when he unrolled it, it
proved to be the magic mantle, the air-ship of which
Hans had thought so longingly a short time before.
The old man spread it on the balcony, embraced the
astonished youth with the tenderness of a father, and led
him towards the mantle.
"Now stand on it," he said ; "take this staff to guide
thy flight; and think of me with love."
Hans obeyed as in a dream. The old Venetian waved
96 The Dwarf of Venice.
his hand, and the mantle rose and bore the young man
up into the air.
Not till his eyes met the full light of the open air, and
the fresh wind played with the folds of the mantle, did
Hans awake to the reality of his situation. He looked
sorrowfully back at his noble friend, who still stood in
the bow-window looking after him, with a smile on his
aged features, and waving a farewell with his withered
hand. Hans stretched out his arms towards him, and
cried in a voice of deep emotion, "Farewell, farewell,
noble sir," and the mantle bore him onwards with the
swiftness of the storm-wind.
For a moment the Queen of the Sea gleamed far
below, in the splendour of her towers and palaces; the
sunlight flashed from the high windows of her churches,
and the black gondolas glided noiselessly over the
winding canals. But soon this scene grew faint in the
distance, and nothing was left of it all but the sea
stretching in a blue line along the horizon. Hans turned
his face homewards, and directed his course towards the
north. Swift as an arrow he flew onwards; the air
rustled around him like the sound of eagles' wings; in the
dim distance lay the mountain peaks of his native land,
but they began to shine out more and more clearly from
the blue mists. Soon he was floating above that rocky
pass which long months before he had trodden with
deadly sorrow in his heart; and now he breathes the air
of his native land.
With beaming eyes he looked down over the side of
the magic eagle whose dark pinions were bearing him
The Dwarf of Venice. 97
onwards to his home. Far below him lay the mountains
with the grazing herds; from his cloudy height they
seemed no larger than the lady-birds with which he used
to play when a boy, and the senners' cottages like the
round pebbles in the village brook. He almost felt as if
he could touch the glacier peaks with his hand, so near
did they seem in the splendour of the midday sun.
He looked down into their icy clefts, and saw the glacier
torrent rolling far below in milk-white waves; but the
magic boat sped further and further, still bearing Hans
swiftly onwards to his home.
The young man now began to view the country more
carefully, and soon he directed his course westwards.
Then he uttered a cry of joy, for they were sailing
towards a well-known mountain, and the mantle, as if it
knew exactly its appointed task, sank gently downwards,
till Hans found himself on a projecting rock. It was the
same spot from which he had often, when a goat-herd,
looked down longingly on the smiling meadows, searching
for the entrance to the dwarf king's magic realm-the
same spot where the old man bade him farewell that
autumn morning long ago, before taking his airy journey
to his distant home. Hans sprang joyously from his
magic boat, laid the staff on it with whispered words of
thanks, and immediately the mantle rose, and flew swift
as an arrow up into the clouds. Hans stood watching it
for a few moments, then he hurried down the old familiar
path. A little below herds were grazing-his herds-
and Seppi was leaning against a rock watching them,
and singing the while in his own cheery way. Hans
98 The Dwarf of Veizzce.
glanced joyfully at the distant scene, and hurried on.
There was the night pasture, and now he arrived at the
senner's cottage; he did not wait, however, even to peep
in at the window, so eager was he to reach the village.
With flying footsteps he hurried down the rocky path
which he had climbed a few months before with deadly
anguish in his heart.
But to-day-to-day all was changed. With joy
throbbing in every pulse-beat Hans felt the stony path
softer than the grass of the pasture-lands, and the sound
of the stream seemed sweeter than the melody of harps.
At last he reached the valley, and just as he entered it
the evening bell began to ring. At the sound he stopped,
bared his head, and knelt by the wayside; but when the
last tone died away he rose and hastened up the village
street, then with a bound he crossed the brook and
reached the farm-yard gate. There was no one to be
seen, for the servants were at supper in the house.
Quickly, but noiselessly, Hans slipped through the yard,
and stood with beating heart at the door of the sitting-
room. There was no sound of life within. Hans put his
ear to the key-hole and listened. Then he heard Anneli's
sweet voice saying, "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest,
and bless Thy gifts. Amen." And when the Amen was
said, Hans opened the door and stepped over the
"Have you any of God's gifts to spare for a poor
wanderer?" he said softly.
Hans, dear Hans !" was Anneli's glad cry, for in spite
of the twilight and his unfamiliar dress she recognized