In his little hut by the great river, which a heavy rain
had swollen to overflowing, lay the ancient Ferryman, asleep, wearied by
the toil of the day. In the middle of the night, loud voices awoke him; he
heard that it was travellers wishing to be carried over.
Stepping out, he saw two large Will-o'-wisps, hovering
to and fro on his boat, which lay moored: they said, they were in violent
haste, and should have been already on the other side. The old Ferryman
made no loitering; pushed off, and steered with his usual skill obliquely
through the stream; while the two strangers whiffled and hissed together,
in an unknown very rapid tongue, and every now and then broke out in loud
laughter, hopping about, at one time on the gunwale and the seats, at
another on the bottom of the boat.
"The boat is keeling!" cried the old man; "if you don't
be quiet, it'll overset; be seated, gentlemen of the wisp!"
At this advice they burst into a fit of laughter, mocked
the old man, and were more unquiet than ever. He bore their mischief with
silence, and soon reached the farther shore.
"Here is for your labour!" cried the travellers; and as
they shook themselves, a heap of glittering gold-pieces jingled down into
the wet boat. "For Heaven's sake, what are you about?" cried the old man;
"you will ruin me forever! Had a single piece of gold got into the water,
the stream, which cannot suffer gold, would have risen in horrid waves, and
swallowed both my skiff and me; and who knows how it might have fared with
you in that case? here, take back your gold."
"We can take nothing back, which we have once shaken
from us," said the Lights.
"Then you give me the trouble," said the old man,
stooping down, and gathering the pieces into his cap, "of raking them
together, and carrying them ashore and burying them."
The Lights had leaped from the boat, but the old man
cried: "Stay; where is my fare?"
"If you take no gold, you may work for nothing," cried
the Will-o'-wisps. "You must know that I am only to be paid with fruits of
the earth." "Fruits of the earth? we despise them, and have never tasted
them." "And yet I cannot let you go, till you have promised that you will
deliver me three Cabbages, three Artichokes, and three large Onions.
The Lights were making-off with jests; but they felt
themselves, in some inexplicable manner, fastened to the ground: it was the
unpleasantest feeling they had ever had. They engaged to pay him his demand
as soon as possible: he let them go, and pushed away. He was gone a good
distance, when they called to him: "Old man! Holla, old man! the main point
is forgotten!" He was off, however, and did not hear them. He had fallen
quietly down that side of the River, where, in a rocky spot, which the
water never reached, he meant to bury the pernicious gold. Here, between
two high crags, he found a monstrous chasm; shook the metal into it, and
steered back to his cottage.
Now in this chasm lay the fair green Snake, who was
roused from her sleep by the gold coming chinking down. No sooner did she
fix her eye on the glittering coins, than she ate them all up, with the
greatest relish, on the spot; and carefully picked out such pieces as were
scattered in the chinks of the rock.
Scarcely had she swallowed them, when, with extreme
delight, she began to feel the metal melting in her inwards, and spreading
all over her body; and soon, to her lively joy, she observed that she was
grown transparent and luminous. Long ago she had been told that this was
possible; but now being doubtful whether such a light could last, her
curiosity and her desire to be secure against her future, drove her from
her cell, that she might see who it was that had shaken in this precious
metal. She found no one. The more delightful was it to admire her own
appearance, and her graceful brightness, as she crawled along through roots
and bushes, and spread out her light among her grass. Every leaf seemed of
emerald, every flower was dyed with new glory. It was in vain that she
crossed her solitary thickets; but her hopes rose high, when, on reaching
her open country, she perceived from afar a brilliancy resembling her own.
"Shall I find my like at last, then?" cried she, and hastened to the spot.
The toil of crawling through bog and reeds gave her little thought; for
though she liked best to live in dry grassy spots of the mountains, among
the clefts of rocks, and for most part fed on spicy herbs, and slaked her
thirst with mild dew and fresh spring water, yet for the sake of this dear
gold, and in the hope of this glorious light, she would have undertaken
anything you could propose to her.
At last, with much fatigue, she reached a wee rushy spot
in the swamp, where our two Will-o'-wisps were frisking to and fro. She
shoved herself along to them; saluted them, was happy to meet such pleasant
gentlemen related to her family. The Lights glided towards her, skipped up
over her, and laughed in their fashion. "Lady Cousin," said they, "you are
of the horizontal line, yet what of that? It is true we are related only by
the look; for, observe you," here both the Flames, compressing their whole
breadth, made themselves as high and peaked as possible, "how prettily this
taper length beseems us gentlemen of the vertical line! Take it not amiss
of us, good Lady; what family can boast of such a thing? Since there ever
was a Jack-o'-lantern in the world, no one of them has either sat or
The Snake felt exceedingly uncomfortable in the company
of these relations; for, let her hold her head as high as possible, she
found that she must bend it to the earth again, would she stir from the
spot; and if in the dark thicket she had been extremely satisfied with her
appearance, her splendour in the presence of these cousins seemed to lessen
every moment, nay she was afraid that at last it would go out entirely.
In this embarrassment she hastily asked: If the
gentlemen could not inform her, whence the glittering gold came, that had
fallen a short while ago into the cleft of the rock; her own opinion was,
that it had been a golden shower, and had trickled down direct from the
sky. The Will-o'-wisps laughed, and shook themselves, and a multitude of
gold-pieces came clinking down about them. The Snake pushed nimbly forwards
to eat the coin. "Much good may it do you, Mistress," said the dapper
gentlemen: "we can help you to a little more." They shook themselves again
several times with great quickness, so that the Snake could scarcely gulp
the precious victuals fast enough. Her splendour visibly began increasing;
she was really shining beautifully, while the Lights had in the meantime
grown rather lean and short of stature, without however in the smallest
losing their good-humour.
"I am obliged to you forever," said the Snake, having
got her wind again after the repast; "ask of me what you will; all that I
can I will do."
"Very good!" cried the Lights. "Then tell us where the
fair Lily dwells? Lead us to the fair Lily's palace and garden; and do not
lose a moment, we are dying of impatience to fall down at her feet."
"This service," said the Snake with a deep sigh, "I can
not now do for you. The fair Lily dwells, alas, on the other side of the
water." "Other side of the water? And we have come across it, this stormy
night! How cruel is the River to divide us! Would it not be possible to
call the old man back?"
"It would be useless," said the Snake; "for if you found
him ready on the bank, he would not take you in; he can carry anyone to
this side, none to yonder."
"Here is a pretty kettle of fish!" cried the Lights:
"are there no other means of getting through the water?" "There are other
means, but not at this moment. I myself could take you over, gentlemen, but
not till noon." "That is an hour we do not like to travel in." "Then you
may go across in the evening, on the great Giant's shadow."
"How is that?" "The great Giant lives not far from this;
with his body he has no power; his hands cannot lift a straw, his shoulders
could not bear a faggot of twigs; but with his shadow he has power over
much, nay all. At sunrise and sunset therefore he is strongest; so at
evening you merely put yourself upon the back of his shadow, the Giant
walks softly to the bank, and the shadow carries you across the water. But
if you please, about the hour of noon, to be in waiting at that corner of
the wood where the bushes overhang the bank, I myself will take you over
and present you to the fair Lily: or on the other hand, if you dislike the
noontide, you have just to go at nightfall to that bend of the rocks, and
pay a visit to the Giant; he will certainly receive you like a
With a slight bow, the Flames went off; and the Snake at
bottom was not discontented to get rid of them; partly that she might enjoy
the brightness of her own light, partly [to] satisfy a curiosity with
which, for a long time, she had been agitated in a singular way.
In the chasm, where she often crawled hither and
thither, she had made a strange discovery. For although in creeping up and
down this abyss, she had never had a ray of light, she could well enough
discriminate the objects in it, by her sense of touch. Generally she met
with nothing but irregular productions of Nature; at one time she would
wind between the teeth of large crystals, at another she would feel the
barbs and hairs of native silver, and now and then carry out with her to
the light some straggling jewels. But to her no small wonder, in a rock
which was closed on every side, she had come on certain objects which
betrayed the shaping hand of man. Smooth walls on which she could not
climb, sharp regular corners, well-formed pillars; and what seemed
strangest of all; human figures which she had entwined more than once, and
which appeared to her to be of brass, or of the finest polished marble. All
these experiences she now wished to combine by the sense of sight, thereby
to confirm what as yet she only guessed. She believed she could illuminate
the whole of that subterranean vault by her own light; and hoped to get
acquainted with these curious things at once. She hastened back; and soon
found, by the usual way, the cleft by which she used to penetrate the
On reaching the place, she gazed around with eager
curiosity; and though her shining could not enlighten every object in the
rotunda, yet those nearest her were plain enough. With astonishment and
reverence she looked up into a glancing niche, where the image of an august
King stood formed of pure Gold. In size the figure was beyond the stature
of man, but by its shape it seemed the likeness of a little rather than a
tall person. His handsome body was encircled with an unadorned mantle; and
a garland of oak bound his hair together.
No sooner had the Snake beheld this reverend figure,
than the King began to speak, and asked: "Whence comest thou?" "From the
chasms where the gold dwells," said the Snake. "What is grander than gold?"
inquired the King. "Light," replied the Snake. "What is more refreshing
than light?" said he. "Speech," answered she.
During this conversation, she had squinted to a side,
and in the nearest niche perceived another glorious image. It was a Silver
King in a sitting posture; his shape was long and rather languid; he was
covered with a decorated robe; crown, girdle and sceptre were adorned with
precious stones: the cheerfulness of pride was in his countenance; he
seemed about to speak, when a vein which ran dimly-coloured over the marble
wall, on a sudden became bright, and diffused a cheerful light throughout
the whole Temple. By this brilliancy the Snake perceived a third King, made
of Brass, and sitting mighty in shape, leaning on his club, adorned with a
laurel garland, and more like a rock than a man. She was looking for the
fourth, which was standing at the greatest distance from her; but the wall
opened, while the glittering vein started and split, as lightning does, and
A Man of middle stature, entering through the cleft,
attracted the attention of the Snake. He was dressed like a peasant, and
carried in his hand a little Lamp, on whose still flame you liked to look,
and which in a strange manner, without casting any shadow, enlightened the
"Why comest thou, since we have light?" said the golden
King." You know that I may not enlighten what is dark." "Will my Kingdom
end?" said the silver King. "Late or never," said the old Man.
With a stronger voice the brazen King began to ask:
"When shall I arise?" "Soon," replied the Man. "With whom shall I combine?"
said the King. "With thy elder brothers," said the Man. "What will the
youngest do?" inquired the King. "He will sit down," replied the Man.
"I am not tired," cried the fourth King, with a rough
While this speech was going on, the Snake had glided
softly round the Temple, viewing everything; she was now looking at the
fourth King close by him. He stood leaning on a pillar; his considerable
form was heavy rather than beautiful. But what metal it was made of could
not be determined. Closely inspected, it seemed a mixture of the three
metals which its brothers had been formed of. But in the founding, these
materials did not seem to have combined together fully; gold and silver
veins ran irregularly through a brazen mass, and gave the figure an
Meanwhile the gold King was asking of the Man, "How many
secrets knowest thou?" "Three," replied the Man. "Which is the most
important?" said the silver King. "The open one," replied the other. "Wilt
thou open it to us also?" said the brass King."When I know the fourth,"
replied the Man."What care I" grumbled the composite King, in an
"I know the fourth," said the Snake; approached the old
Man, and hissed somewhat in his ear. "The time is at hand!" cried the old
Man, with a strong voice. The temple reechoed, the metal statues sounded;
and that instant the old Man sank away to the westward, and the Snake to
the eastward; and both of them passed through the clefts of the rock, with
the greatest speed.
All the passages, through which the old Man travelled,
filled themselves, immediately behind him, with gold; for his Lamp had the
strange property of changing stone into gold, wood into silver, dead
animals into precious stones, and of annihilating all metals. But to
display this power, it must shine alone. If another light were beside it,
the Lamp only cast from it a pure clear brightness, and all living things
were refreshed by it.
The old Man entered his cottage, which was built on the
slope of the hill. He found his Wife in extreme distress. She was sitting
at the fire weeping, and refusing to be consoled. "How unhappy am I!" cried
she: "Did not I entreat thee not to go away tonight?""What is the matter,
then?" inquired the husband, quite composed.
"Scarcely wert thou gone," said she, sobbing, "when
there came two noisy Travellers to the door: unthinkingly I let them in;
they seemed to be a couple of genteel, very honourable people; they were
dressed in flames, you would have taken them for Will-o'-wisps. But no
sooner were they in the house, than they began, like impudent varlets, to
compliment me, and grew so forward that I feel ashamed to think of it."
"No doubt," said the husband with a smile, "the
gentlemen were jesting: considering thy age, they might have held by
"Age! what age?" cried the Wife: "wilt thou always be
talking of my age? How old am I, then?General politeness! But I know what I
know. Look around there what a face the walls have; look at the old stones,
which I have not seen these hundred years; every film of gold have they
licked away, thou couldst not think how fast; and still they kept assuring
me that it tasted far beyond common gold. Once they had swept the walls,
the fellows seemed to be in high spirits, and truly in that little while
they had grown much broader and brighter. They now began to be impertinent
again, they patted me, and called me their queen, they shook themselves,
and a shower of gold-pieces sprang from them; see how they are shining
under the bench! But ah, what misery! Poor Mops ate a coin or two; and
look, he is lying in the chimney, dead. Poor Pug. O well-a-day! I did not
see it till they were gone; else I had never promised to pay the Ferryman
the debt they owe him.""What do they owe him?" said the Man. "Three
Cabbages," replied the Wife, "three Artichokes and three Onions: I engaged
to go when it was day, and take them to the River."
"Thou mayest do them that civility," said the old Man;
"they may chance to be of use to us again."
"Whether they will be of use to us I know not; but they
promised and vowed that they would."
Meantime the fire on the hearth had burnt low; the old
Man covered-up the embers with a heap of ashes, and put the glittering
gold-pieces aside; so that his little Lamp now gleamed alone, in the
fairest brightness. The walls again coated themselves with gold, and Mops
changed into the prettiest onyx that could be imagined. The alternation of
the brown and black in this precious stone made it the most curious piece
"Take thy basket," said the old Man, "and put the onyx
into it; then take the three Cabbages, the three Artichokes and the three
Onions; place them round little Mops, and carry them to the River. At noon
the Snake will take thee over; visit the fair Lily, give her the onyx, she
will make it alive by her touch, as by her touch she kills whatever is
alive already. She will have a true companion in the little dog. Tell her,
Not to mourn; her deliverance is near; the greatest misfortune she may look
upon as the greatest happiness; for the time is at hand."
The old Woman filled her basket, and set out as soon as
it was day. The rising sun shone clear from the other side of the River,
which was glittering in the distance; the old Woman walked with slow steps,
for the basket pressed upon her head, and it was not the onyx that so
burdened her. Whatever lifeless thing she might be carrying, she did not
feel the weight of it; on the other hand, in those cases the basket rose
aloft, and hovered above her head. But to carry any fresh herbage, or any
little living animal, she found exceedingly laborious. She had travelled on
for some time, in a sullen humour, when she halted suddenly in fright, for
she had almost trod upon the Giant's shadow which was stretching towards
her across the plain. And now, lifting up her eyes, she saw the monster of
a Giant himself, who had been bathing in the River, and was just come out,
and she knew not how she should avoid him. The moment he perceived her, he
began saluting her in sport, and the hands of his shadow soon caught hold
of the basket. With dexterous ease they picked away from it a Cabbage, an
Artichoke and an Onion, and brought them to the Giant's mouth, who then
went his way up the River, and let the Woman go in peace.
She considered whether it would not be better to return,
and supply from her garden the pieces she had lost; and amid these doubts,
she still kept walking on, so that in a little while she was at the bank of
the River. She sat long waiting for the Ferryman, whom she perceived at
last, steering over with a very singular traveller. A young, noble-looking,
handsome man, whom she could not gaze upon enough, stept out of the
"What is it you bring?" cried the old Man. "The greens
which those two Will-o'-wisps owe you," said the Woman, pointing to her
ware. As the Ferryman found only two of each sort, he grew angry, and
declared he would have none of them. The Woman earnestly entreated him to
take them; told him that she could not now go home, and that her burden for
the way which still remained was very heavy. He stood by his refusal, and
assured her that it did not rest with him. "What belongs to me," said he,
"I must leave lying nine hours in a heap, touching none of it, till I have
given the River its third." After much higgling, the old Man at last
replied: "There is still another way. If you like to pledge yourself to the
River, and declare yourself its debtor, I will take the six pieces; but
there is some risk in it." "If I keep my word, I shall run no risk?" "Not
the smallest. Put your hand into the stream," continued he, "and promise
that within four-and-twenty hours you will pay the debt."
The old Woman did so; but what was her affright, when on
drawing out her hand, she found it black as coal! She loudly scolded the
old Ferryman; declared that her hands had always been the fairest part of
her; that in spite of her hard work, she had all along contrived to keep
these noble members white and dainty. She looked at the hand with
indignation, and exclaimed in a despairing tone: "Worse and worse! Look, it
is vanishing entirely; it is grown far smaller than the other."
"For the present it but seems so," said the old Man; "if
you do not keep your word, however, it may prove so in earnest. The hand
will gradually diminish, and at length disappear altogether, though you
have the use of it as formerly. Everything as usual you will be able to
perform with it, only nobody will see it." "I had rather that I could not
use it, and no one could observe the want," cried she: "but what of that, I
will keep my word, and rid myself of this black skin, and all anxieties
about it." Thereupon she hastily took up her basket, which mounted of
itself over her head, and hovered free above her in the air, as she hurried
after the Youth, who was walking softly and thoughtfully down the bank. His
noble form and strange dress had made a deep impression on her.
His breast was covered with a glittering coat of mail;
in whose wavings might be traced every motion of his fair body. From his
shoulders hung a purple cloak; around his uncovered head flowed abundant
brown hair in beautiful locks: his graceful face, and his well-formed feet
were exposed to the scorching of the sun. With bare soles, he walked
composedly over the hot sand; and a deep inward sorrow seemed to blunt him
against all external things.
The garrulous old Woman tried to lead him into
conversation; but with his short answers he gave her small encouragement or
information; so that in the end, notwithstanding the beauty of his eyes,
she grew tired of speaking with him to no purpose, and took leave of him
with these words: "You walk too slow for me, worthy sir; I must not lose a
moment, for I have to pass the River on the green Snake, and carry this
fine present from my husband to the fair Lily." So saying she stept faster
forward; but the fair Youth pushed on with equal speed, and hastened to
keep up with her. "You are going to the fair Lily!" cried he; "then our
roads are the same. But what present is this you are bringing her?"
"Sir," said the Woman, "it is hardly fair, after so
briefly dismissing the questions I put to you, to inquire with such
vivacity about my secrets. But if you like to barter, and tell me your
adventures, I will not conceal from you how it stands with me and my
presents." They soon made a bargain: the dame disclosed her circumstances
to him; told the history of the Pug, and let him see the singular gift.
He lifted this natural curiosity from the basket, and
took Mops, who seemed as if sleeping softly, into his arms. "Happy beast!"
cried he; "thou wilt be touched by her hands, thou wilt be made alive by
her; while the living are obliged to fly from her presence to escape a
mournful doom. Yet why say I mournful? Is it not far sadder and more
frightful to be injured by her look, than it would be to die by her hand?
Behold me," said he to the Woman; "at my years, what a miserable fate have
I to undergo! This mail which I have honourably borne in war, this purple
which I sought to merit by a wise reign, Destiny has left me; the one as a
useless burden, the other as an empty ornament. Crown, and sceptre, and
sword are gone; and I am as bare and needy as any other son of earth; for
so unblessed are her bright eyes, that they take from every living creature
they look on all its force, and those whom the touch of her hand does not
kill are changed to the state of shadows wandering alive."
Thus did he continue to bewail, nowise contenting the
old Woman's curiosity, who wished for information not so much of his
internal as of his external situation. She learned neither the name of his
father, nor of his kingdom. He stroked the hard Mops, whom the sunbeams and
the bosom of the youth had warmed as if he had been living. He inquired
narrowly about the Man with the Lamp, about the influences of the sacred
light, appearing to expect much good from it in his melancholy case.
Amid such conversation, they descried from afar the
majestic arch of the Bridge, which extended from the one bank to the other,
glittering with the strangest colours in the splendours of the sun. Both
were astonished; for until now they had never seen this edifice so grand.
"How!" cried the Prince, "was it not beautiful enough, as it stood before
our eyes, piled out of jasper and agate? Shall we not fear to tread it, now
that it appears combined, in graceful complexity of emerald and chrysopras
and chrysolite?" Neither of them knew the alteration that had taken place
upon the Snake: for it was indeed the Snake, who every day at noon curved
herself over the River, and stood forth in the form of a bold-swelling
bridge. The travellers stept upon it with a reverential feeling, and passed
over it in silence.
No sooner had they reached the other shore, than the
bridge began to heave and stir; in a little while, it touched the surface
of the water, and the green Snake in her proper form came gliding after the
wanderers. They had scarcely thanked her for the privilege of crossing on
her back, when they found that, besides them three, there must be other
persons in the company, whom their eyes could not discern. They heard a
hissing, which the Snake also answered with a hissing; they listened, and
at length caught what follows: "We shall first look about us in the fair
Lily's Park," said a pair of alternating voices; "and then request you at
nightfall, so soon as we are anywise presentable, to introduce us to this
paragon of beauty. At the shore of the great Lake you will find us." "Be it
so," replied the Snake; and a hissing sound died away in the air.
Our three travellers now consulted in what order they
should introduce themselves to the fair Lady; for however many people might
be in her company, they were obliged to enter and depart singly, under pain
of suffering very hard severities.
The Woman with the metamorphosed Pug in the basket first
approached the garden, looking round for her Patroness; who was not
difficult to find, being just engaged in singing to her harp. The finest
tones proceeded from her, first like circles on the surface of the still
lake, then like a light breath they set the grass and the bushes in motion.
In a green enclosure, under the shadow of a stately group of many diverse
trees, was she seated; and again did she enchant the eyes, the ears and the
heart of the Woman, who approached with rapture, and swore within herself
that since she saw her last, the fair one had grown fairer than ever. With
eager gladness, from a distance, she expressed her reverence and admiration
for the lovely maiden. "What a happiness to see you! what a Heaven does
your presence spread around you! How charmingly the harp is leaning on your
bosom, how softly your arms surround it, how it seems as if longing to be
near you, and how it sounds so meekly under the touch of your slim fingers!
Thrice-happy youth, to whom it were permitted to be there!"
So speaking she approached; the fair Lily raised her
eyes; let her hands drop from the harp, and answered: "Trouble me not with
untimely praise; I feel my misery but the more deeply. Look here, at my
feet lies the poor Canary-bird, which used so beautifully to accompany my
singing; it would sit upon my harp, and was trained not to touch me; but
today, while I, refreshed by sleep, was raising a peaceful morning hymn,
and my little singer was pouring forth his harmonious tones more gaily than
ever, a Hawk darts over my head; the poor little creature, in affright,
takes refuge in my bosom, and I feel the last palpitations of its departing
life. The plundering Hawk indeed was caught by my look, and fluttered
fainting down into the water; but what can his punishment avail me? my
darling is dead, and his grave will but increase the mournful bushes of my
"Take courage, fairest Lily!" cried the Woman, wiping
off a tear, which the story of the hapless maiden had called into her eyes;
"compose yourself; my old man bids me tell you to moderate your lamenting,
to look upon the greatest misfortune as a forerunner of the greatest
happiness, for the time is at hand; and truly," continued she, "the world
is going strangely on of late. Do but look at my hand, how black it is! As
I live and breathe, it is grown far smaller: I must hasten, before it
vanish altogether! Why did I engage to do the Will-o'-wisps a service, why
did I meet the Giant's shadow, and dip my hand in the River? Could you not
afford me a single cabbage, an artichoke and an onion? I would give them to
the River, and my hand were white as ever, so that I could almost show it
with one of yours."
"Cabbages and onions thou mayest still find; but
artichokes thou wilt search for in vain. No plant in my garden bears either
flowers or fruit; but every twig that I break, and plant upon the grave of
a favourite, grows green straightway, and shoots up in fair boughs. All
these groups, these bushes, these groves my hard destiny has so raised
around me. These pines stretching out like parasols, these obelisks of
cypresses, these colossal oaks and beeches, were all little twigs planted
by my hand, as mournful memorials in a soil that otherwise is barren."
To this speech the old Woman had paid little heed; she
was looking at her hand, which, in presence of the fair Lily, seemed every
moment growing blacker and smaller. She was about to snatch her basket and
hasten off, when she noticed that the best part of her errand had been
forgotten. She lifted out the onyx Pug, and set him down, not far from the
fair one, in the grass. "My husband," said she, "sends you this memorial;
you know that you can make a jewel live by touching it. This pretty
faithful dog will certainly afford you much enjoyment; and my grief at
losing him is brightened only by the thought that he will be in your
The fair Lily viewed the dainty creature with a pleased
and, as it seemed, with an astonished look. "Many signs combine," said she,
"that breathe some hope into me: but ah! is it not a natural deception
which makes us fancy, when misfortunes crowd upon us, that a better day is
What can these many signs avail me?
My Singer's Death, thy coal black Hand?
This Dog of Onyx, that can never fail me?
And coming at the Lamp's command?
From human joys removed forever,
With sorrows compassed round I sit:
Is there a Temple at the River?
Is there a Bridge? Alas, not yet!
The good old dame had listened with impatience to this
singing, which the fair Lily accompanied with her harp, in a way that would
have charmed any other. She was on the point of taking leave, when the
arrival of the green Snake again detained her. The Snake had caught the
last lines of the song, and on this matter forthwith began to speak comfort
to the fair Lily.
"The prophecy of the Bridge is fulfilled" cried the
Snake: "you may ask this worthy dame how royally the arch looks now. What
formerly was untransparent jasper or agate, allowing but a gleam of light
to pass about its edges, is now become transparent precious stone. No beryl
is so clear, no emerald so beautiful of hue."
"I wish you joy of it," said Lily; "but you will pardon
me if I regard the prophecy as yet unaccomplished. The lofty arch of your
bridge can still but admit foot passengers; and it is promised us that
horses and carriages and travellers of every sort shall, at the same
moment, cross this bridge in both directions. Is there not something said,
too, about pillars, which are to arise of themselves from the waters of the
The old Woman still kept her eyes fixed on her hand; she
here interrupted their dialogue, and was taking leave. "Wait a moment,"
said the fair Lily, "and carry my little bird with you. Bid the Lamp change
it into topaz; I will enliven it by my touch; with your good Mops it shall
form my dearest pastime: but hasten, hasten; for, at sunset, intolerable
putrefaction will fasten on the hapless bird, and tear asunder the fair
combination of its form forever."
The old Woman laid the little corpse, wrapped in soft
leaves, into her basket, and hastened away.
"However it may be," said the Snake, recommencing their
interrupted dialogue, "the Temple is built."
"But it is not at the River," said the fair one.
"It is yet resting in the depths of the Earth," said the
Snake; "I have seen the Kings and conversed with them."
"But when will they arise?" inquired Lily.
The Snake replied: "I heard resounding in the Temple
these deep words, The time is at hand. "
A pleasing cheerfulness spread over the fair Lily's
face: " 'Tis the second time," said she, "that I have heard these happy
words today: when will the day come for me to hear them thrice?"
She arose, and immediately there came a lovely maiden
from the grove, and took away her harp. Another followed her, and folded-up
the fine carved ivory stool, on which the fair one had been sitting, and
put the silvery cushion under her arm. A third then made her appearance,
with a large parasol worked with pearls; and looked whether Lily would
require her in walking. These three maidens were beyond expression
beautiful; and yet their beauty but exalted that of Lily, for it was plain
to every one that they could never be compared to her.
Meanwhile the fair one had been looking, with a
satisfied aspect, at the strange onyx Mops. She bent down and touched him,
and that instant he started up. Gaily he looked around, ran hither and
thither, and at last, in his kindest manner, hastened to salute his
benefactress. She took him in her arms, and pressed him to her. "Cold as
thou art," cried she, "and though but a half-life works in thee, thou art
welcome to me; tenderly will I love thee, prettily will I play with thee,
softly caress thee, and firmly press thee to my bosom." She then let him
go, chased him from her, called him back, and played so daintily with him,
and ran about so gaily and so innocently with him on the grass, that with
new rapture you viewed and participated in her joy, as a little while ago
her sorrow had attuned every heart to sympathy.
This cheerfulness, these graceful sports were
interrupted by the entrance of the woeful Youth. He stepped forward, in his
former guise and aspect; save that the heat of the day appeared to have
fatigued him still more, and in the presence of his mistress he grew paler
every moment. He bore upon his hand a Hawk, which was sitting quiet as a
dove, with its body shrunk, and its wings drooping.
"It is not kind in thee," cried Lily to him, "to bring
that hateful thing before my eyes, the monster, which today has killed my
"Blame not the unhappy bird!" replied the Youth; "rather
blame thyself and thy destiny; and leave me to keep beside me the companion
of my woe."
Meanwhile Mops ceased not teasing the fair Lily; and she
replied to her transparent favourite, with friendly gestures. She clapped
her hands to scare him off; then ran, to entice him after her. She tried to
get him when he fled, and she chased him away when he attempted to press
near her. The Youth looked on in silence, with increasing anger; but at
last, when she took the odious beast, which seemed to him unutterably ugly,
on her arm, pressed it to her white bosom, and kissed its black snout with
her heavenly lips, his patience altogether failed him, and full of
desperation he exclaimed: "Must I, who by a baleful fate exist beside thee,
perhaps to the end, in an absent presence; who by thee have lost my all, my
very self; must I see before my eyes, that so unnatural a monster can charm
thee into gladness, can awaken thy attachment, and enjoy thy embrace? Shall
I any longer keep wandering to and fro, measuring my dreary course to that
side of the River and to this? No, there is still a spark of the old heroic
spirit sleeping in my bosom; let it start this instant into its expiring
flame! If stones may rest in thy bosom, let me be changed to stone; if thy
touch kills, I will die by thy hands."
So saying he made a violent movement; the Hawk flew from
his finger, but he himself rushed towards the fair one; she held out her
hands to keep him off, and touched him only the sooner. Consciousness
forsook him; and she felt with horror the beloved burden lying on her
bosom. With a shriek she started back, and the gentle Youth sank lifeless
from her arms upon the ground.
The misery had happened! The sweet Lily stood motionless
gazing on the corpse. Her heart seemed to pause in her bosom; and her eyes
were without tears. In vain did Mops try to gain from her any kindly
gesture; with her friend, the world for her was all dead as the grave. Her
silent despair did not look round for help; she knew not of any help.
On the other hand, the Snake bestirred herself the more
actively; she seemed to meditate deliverance; and in fact her strange
movements served at least to keep away, for a little, the immediate
consequences of the mischief. With her limber body, she formed a wide
circle round the corpse, and seizing the end of her tail between her teeth,
she lay quite still.
Ere long one of Lily's fair waiting-maids appeared;
brought the ivory folding-stool, and with friendly beckoning constrained
her mistress to sit down on it. Soon afterwards there came a second; she
had in her hand a fire-coloured veil, with which she rather decorated than
concealed the fair Lily's head. The third handed her the harp, and scarcely
had she drawn the gorgeous instrument towards her, and struck some tones
from its strings, when the first maid returned with a clear round mirror;
took her station opposite the fair one; caught her looks in the glass, and
threw back to her the loveliest image that was to be found in Nature.
Sorrow heightened her beauty, the veil her charms, the harp her grace; and
deeply as you wished to see her mournful situation altered, not less deeply
did you wish to keep her image, as she now looked, forever present with
With a still look at the mirror, she touched the harp;
now melting tones proceeded from the strings, now her pain seemed to mount,
and the music in strong notes responded to her woe; sometimes she opened
her lips to sing, but her voice failed her; and ere long her sorrow melted
into tears, two maidens caught her helpfully in their arms, the harp sank
from her bosom, scarcely could the quick servant snatch the instrument and
carry it aside.
"Who gets us the Man with the Lamp, before the Sun set?"
hissed the Snake, faintly, but audibly: the maids looked at one another,
and Lily's tears fell faster. At this moment came the Woman with the
Basket, panting and altogether breathless. "I am lost, and maimed for
life!" cried she, "see how my hand is almost vanished; neither Ferryman nor
Giant would take me over, because I am the River's debtor; in vain did I
promise hundreds of cabbages and hundreds of onions; they will take no more
than three; and no artichoke is now to be found in all this quarter."
"Forget your own care," said the Snake, "and try to
bring help here; perhaps it may come to yourself also. Haste with your
utmost speed to seek the Will-o'-wisps; it is too light for you to see
them, but perhaps you will hear them laughing and hopping to and fro. If
they be speedy, they may cross upon the Giant's shadow, and seek the Man
with the Lamp, and send him to us."
The Woman hurried off at her quickest pace, and the
Snake seemed expecting as impatiently as Lily the return of the Flames.
Alas! the beam of the sinking Sun was already gliding only the highest
summits of the trees in the thicket, and long shadows were stretching over
lake and meadow; the Snake hitched up and down impatiently, and Lily
dissolved in tears.
In this extreme need, the Snake kept looking round on
all sides; for she was afraid every moment that the Sun would set, and
corruption penetrate the magic circle, and the fair youth immediately
moulder away. At last she noticed sailing high in the air, with purple-red
feathers, the Prince's Hawk, whose breast was catching the last beams of
the Sun. She shook herself for joy at this good omen; nor was she deceived;
for shortly afterwards the Man with the Lamp was seen gliding towards them
across the Lake, fast and smoothly, as if he had been travelling on
The Snake did not change her posture; but Lily rose and
called to him: "What good spirit sends thee, at the moment when we were
desiring thee, and needing thee, so much?"
"The spirit of my Lamp," replied the Man, "has impelled
me, and the Hawk has conducted me. My Lamp sparkles when I am needed, and I
just look about me in the sky for a signal; some bird or meteor points to
the quarter towards which I am to turn. Be calm, fairest Maiden! Whether I
can help, I know not; an individual helps not, but he who combines himself
with many at the proper hour. We will postpone the evil, and keep hoping.
Hold thy circle fast," continued he, turning to the Snake; then set himself
upon a hillock beside her, and illuminated the dead body. "Bring the little
Bird hither too, and lay it in the circle!" The maidens took the little
corpse from the basket, which the old Woman had left standing, and did as
Meanwhile the Sun had set; and as the darkness
increased, not only the Snake and the old Man's Lamp began shining in their
fashion, but also Lily's veil gave-out a soft light, which gracefully
tinged, as with a meek dawning red, her pale cheeks and her white robe. The
party looked at one another, silently reflecting; care and sorrow were
mitigated by a sure hope.
It was no unpleasing entrance, therefore, that the Woman
made, attended by the two gay Flames, which in truth appeared to have been
very lavish in the interim, for they had again become extremely meagre; yet
they only bore themselves the more prettily for that, towards Lily and the
other ladies. With great tact and expressiveness, they said a multitude of
rather common things to these fair persons; and declared themselves
particularly ravished by the charm which the gleaming veil spread over Lily
and her attendants. The ladies modestly cast down their eyes, and the
praise of their beauty made them really beautiful. All were peaceful and
calm, except the old Woman. In spite of the assurance of her husband, that
her hand could diminish no farther, while the Lamp shone on it, she
asserted more than once, that if things went on thus, before midnight this
noble member would have utterly vanished.
The Man with the Lamp had listened attentively to the
conversation of the Lights; and was gratified that Lily had been cheered,
in some measure, and amused by it. And, in truth, midnight had arrived they
knew not how. The old Man looked to the stars, and then began speaking: "We
are assembled at the propitious hour; let each perform his task, let each
do his duty; and a universal happiness will swallow-up our individual
sorrows, as a universal grief consumes individual joys."
At these words arose a wondrous hubbub; for all the
persons in the party spoke aloud, each for himself, declaring what they had
to do; only the three maids were silent; one of them had fallen asleep
beside the harp, another near the parasol, the third by the stool; and you
could not blame them much, for it was late. The Fiery Youths, after some
passing compliments which they devoted to the waiting-maids, had turned
their sole attention to the Princess, as alone worthy of exclusive
"Take the mirror," said the Man to the Hawk; "and with
the first sunbeam illuminate the three sleepers, and awake them, with light
reflected from above."
The Snake now began to move; she loosened her circle,
and rolled slowly, in large rings, forward to the River. The two
Will-o'-wisps followed with a solemn air: you would have taken them for the
most serious Flames in Nature. The old Woman and her husband seized the
Basket, whose mild light they had scarcely observed till now; they lifted
it at both sides, and it grew still larger and more luminous; they lifted
the body of the Youth into it, laying the Canary-bird upon his breast; the
Basket rose into the air and hovered above the old Woman's head, and she
followed the Will-o'-wisps on foot. The fair Lily took Mops on her arm, and
followed the Woman; the Man with the Lamp concluded the procession; and the
scene was curiously illuminated by these many lights.
But it was with no small wonder that the party saw, when
they approached the River, a glorious arch mount over it, by which the
helpful Snake was affording them a glittering path. If by day they had
admired the beautiful transparent precious stones, of which the Bridge
seemed formed; by night they were astonished at its gleaming brilliancy. On
the upper side the clear circle marked itself sharp against the dark sky,
but below, vivid beams were darting to the centre, and exhibiting the airy
firmness of the edifice. The procession slowly moved across it; and the
Ferryman, who saw it from his hut afar off, considered with astonishment
the gleaming circle, and the strange lights which were passing over it
No sooner had they reached the other shore, than the
arch began, in its usual way, to swag up and down, and with a wavy motion
to approach the water. The Snake then came on land, the Basket placed
itself upon the ground, and the Snake again drew her circle round it. The
old Man stooped towards her, and said: "What hast thou resolved on?"
"To sacrifice myself rather than be sacrificed," replied
the Snake; "promise me that thou wilt leave no stone on shore."
The old Man promised; then addressing Lily: "Touch the
Snake," said he, "with thy left hand, and thy lover with thy right." Lily
knelt, and touched the Snake and the Prince's body. The latter in the
instant seemed to come to life; he moved in the Basket, nay he raised
himself into a sitting posture; Lily was about to clasp him; but the old
Man held her back, and himself assisted the Youth to rise, and led him
forth from the Basket and the circle.
The Prince was standing; the Canary-bird was fluttering
on his shoulder; there was life again in both of them, but the spirit had
not yet returned; the fair Youth's eyes were open, yet he did not see, at
least he seemed to look on all without participation. Scarcely had their
admiration of this incident a little calmed, when they observed how
strangely it had fared in the meanwhile with the Snake. Her fair taper body
had crumbled into thousands and thousands of shining jewels: the old Woman
reaching at her Basket had chanced to come against the circle; and of the
shape or structure of the Snake there was now nothing to be seen, only a
bright ring of luminous jewels was lying in the grass.
The old Man forthwith set himself to gather the stones
into the Basket; a task in which his wife assisted him. They next carried
the Basket to an elevated point on the bank; and here the man threw its
whole lading, not without contradiction from the fair one and his wife, who
would gladly have retained some part of it, down into the River. Like
gleaming twinkling stars the stones floated down with the waves; and you
could not say whether they lost themselves in the distance, or sank to the
"Gentlemen," said he with the Lamp, in a respectful tone
to the Lights, "I will now show you the way, and open you the passage; but
you will do us an essential service, if you please to unbolt the door, by
which the Sanctuary must be entered at present, and which none but you can
The Lights made a stately bow of assent, and kept their
place. The old Man of the Lamp went foremost into the rock, which opened at
his presence; the Youth followed him, as if mechanically; silent and
uncertain, Lily kept at some distance from him; the old Woman would not be
left, and stretched-out her hand, that the light of her husband's Lamp
might still fall upon it. The rear was closed by the two Will-o'-wisps, who
bent the peaks of their flames towards one another, and appeared to be
engaged in conversation.
They had not gone far till the procession halted in
front of a large brazen door, the leaves of which were bolted with a golden
lock. The Man now called upon the Lights to advance; who required small
entreaty, and with their pointed flames soon ate both bar and lock.
The brass gave a loud clang, as the doors sprang
suddenly asunder; and the stately figures of the Kings appeared within the
Sanctuary, illuminated by the entering Lights. All bowed before these dread
sovereigns, especially the Flames made a profusion of the daintiest
After a pause, the gold King asked: "Whence come ye?"
"From the world," said the old Man. "Whither go ye?" said the silver King.
"Into the world," replied the Man. "What would ye with us?" cried the
brazen King. "Accompany you," replied the Man.
The composite King was about to speak, when the gold one
addressed the Lights, who had got too near him: "Take yourselves away from
me, my metal was not made for you." Thereupon they turned to the silver
King, and clasped themselves about him; and his robe glittered beautifully
in their yellow brightness. "You are welcome," said he, "but I cannot feed
you; satisfy yourselves elsewhere, and bring me your light." They removed;
and gliding past the brazen King, who did not seem to notice them, they
fixed on the compounded King. "Who will govern the world?" cried he, with a
broken voice. "He who stands upon his feet," replied the old Man. "I am
he," said the mixed King. "We shall see," replied the Man; "for the time is
The fair Lily fell upon the old Man's neck, and kissed
him cordially. "Holy Sage!" cried she, "a thousand times I thank thee; for
I hear that fateful word the third time." She had scarcely spoken, when she
clasped the old Man still faster; for the ground began to move beneath
them; the Youth and the old Woman also held by one another; the Lights
alone did not regard it.
You could feel plainly that the whole temple was in
motion; as a ship that softly glides away from the harbour, when her
anchors are lifted; the depths of the Earth seemed to open for the Building
as it went along. It struck on nothing; no rock came in its way.
For a few instants, a small rain seemed to drizzle from
the opening of the dome; the old Man held the fair Lily fast, and said to
her: "We are now beneath the River; we shall soon be at the mark." Ere long
they thought the Temple made a halt; but they were in an error; it was
And now a strange uproar rose above their heads. Planks
and beams in disordered combination now came pressing and crashing in at
the opening of the dome. Lily and the Woman started to a side; the Man with
the Lamp laid hold of the Youth, and kept standing still. The little
cottage of the Ferryman, for it was this which the Temple in ascending had
severed from the ground and carried up with it, sank gradually down, and
covered the old Man and the Youth.
The women screamed aloud, and the Temple shook, like a
ship running unexpectedly aground. In sorrowful perplexity, the Princess
and her old attendant wandered round the cottage in the dawn; the door was
bolted, and to their knocking no one answered. They knocked more loudly,
and were not a little struck, when at length the wood began to ring. By
virtue of the Lamp locked up in it, the hut had been converted from the
inside to the outside into solid silver. Ere long too its form changed; for
the noble metal shook aside the accidental shape of planks, posts and
beams, and stretched itself out into a noble case of beaten ornamented
workmanship. Thus a fair little temple stood erected in the middle of the
large one; or if you will, an Altar worthy of the Temple.
By a staircase which ascended from within, the noble
Youth now mounted aloft, lighted by the old Man with the Lamp, and, as it
seemed, supported by another, who advanced in a white short robe, with a
silver rudder in his hand; and was soon recognised as the Ferryman, the
former possessor of the cottage.
The fair Lily mounted the outer steps, which led from
the floor of the Temple to the Altar; but she was still obliged to keep
herself apart from her Lover. The old Woman, whose hand in the absence of
the Lamp had grown still smaller, cried: "Am I, then, to be unhappy after
all? Among so many miracles, can there be nothing done to save my hand?"
Her husband pointed to the open door, and said to her: "See, the day is
breaking; haste, bathe thyself in the River." "What an advice!" cried she;
"it will make me all black; it will make me vanish together; for my debt is
not yet paid." "Go," said the man, "and do as I advise thee; all debts are
The old Woman hastened away; and at that moment appeared
the rising Sun, upon the rim of the dome. The old Man stept between Virgin
and the Youth, and cried with a loud voice: "There are three which have
rule on Earth; Wisdom, Appearance and Strength." the first word, the gold
King rose; at the second, the silver one; and at the third, the brass King
slowly rose, while the mixed King on a sudden very awkwardly plumped
Whoever noticed him could scarcely keep from laughing,
solemn as the moment was; for he was not sitting, he was not lying, he was
— leaning, but shapelessly sunk together.
The Lights, who till now had been employed upon him,
drew to side; they appeared, although pale in the morning radiance, yet the
more well-fed, and in good burning condition; with their peaked tongues,
they had dexterously licked-out the gold veins of the colossal figure to
its very heart. The irregular vacuities which this occasioned had continued
empty for a time, and the figure had maintained its standing posture. But
when at last the very tenderest filaments were eaten out, the image crashed
suddenly together; and then, alas, in the very parts which continue
unaltered when one sits down; whereas the limbs, which should have bent,
sprawled themselves out unbowed and stiff. Whoever could not laugh was
obliged to turn away his eyes; this miserable shape and no-shape was
offensive to behold.
The Man with the Lamp now led the handsome Youth, who
still kept gazing vacantly before him, down from the Altar, and straight to
the brazen King. At the feet of this mighty Potentate lay a sword in a
brazen sheath. The young man girt it round him. "The sword on left, the
right free!" cried the brazen voice. They next proceeded to the silver
King; he bent his sceptre to the Youth; the latter seized it with his left
hand, and the King in a pleasing voice said: "Feed the sheep!" On turning
to the golden King, he stooped with gestures of paternal blessing, and
pressing his oaken garland on the young man's head, said: "Understand what
During this progress, the old Man had carefully observed
the Prince. After girding-on the sword, his breast swelled, his arms waved,
and his feet trod firmer; when he took the sceptre in his hand, his
strength appeared to soften, and by an unspeakable charm to become still
more subduing; but as the oaken garland came to deck his hair, his features
kindled, his eyes gleamed with inexpressible spirit, and the first word of
his mouth was "Lily!"
"Dearest Lily!" cried he, hastening up the silver stairs
to her, for she had viewed his progress from the pinnacle of the Altar;
"Dearest Lily! what more precious can a man, equipt with all, desire for
himself than innocence and the still affection which thy bosom brings me? O
my friend!" continued he, turning to the old Man, and looking at the three
statues; "glorious and secure is the kingdom of our fathers; but thou hast
forgotten the fourth power, which rules the world, earlier, more
universally, more certainly, the power of Love." With these words, he fell
upon the lovely maiden's neck; she had cast away her veil, and her cheeks
were tinged with the fairest, most imperishable red.
Here the old Man said with a smile: "Love does not rule;
but it trains, and that is more."
Amid this solemnity, this happiness and rapture, no one
had observed that it was now broad day; and all at once, on looking through
the open portal, a crowd of altogether unexpected objects met the eye. A
large space surrounded with pillars formed the forecourt, at the end of
which was seen a broad and stately Bridge stretching with many arches
across the River. It was furnished, on both sides, with commodious and
magnificent colonnades for foot-travellers, many thousands of whom were
already there, busily passing this way or that. The broad pavement in the
centre was thronged with herds and mules, with horsemen and carriages,
flowing like two streams, on their several sides, and neither interrupting
the other. All admired the splendour and convenience of the structure; and
the new King and his Spouse were delighted with the motion and activity of
this great people, as they were already happy in their own mutual love.
"Remember the Snake in honour," said the Man with the
Lamp; "thou owest her thy life; thy people owe her the Bridge, by which
these neighbouring banks are now animated and combined into one land. Those
swimming and shining jewels, the remains of her sacrificed body, are the
piers of this royal bridge; upon these she has built and will maintain
The party were about to ask some explanation of this
strange mystery, when there entered four lovely maidens at the portal of
the Temple. By the Harp, the Parasol, and the Folding-stool, it was not
difficult to recognise the waiting-maids of Lily; but the fourth, more
beautiful than any of the rest, was an unknown fair one, and in sisterly
sportfulness she hastened with them through the Temple, and mounted the
steps of the Altar.
"Wilt thou have better trust in me another time, good
wife?" said the Man with the Lamp to the fair one: "Well for thee, and
every living thing that bathes this morning in the River!"
The renewed and beautified old Woman, of whose former
shape no trace remained, embraced with young eager arms the Man with the
Lamp, who kindly received her caresses. "If I am too old for thee," said
he, smiling, "thou mayest choose another husband today; from this hour no
marriage is of force, which is not contracted anew."
"Dost thou not know, then," answered she, "that thou too
art grown younger?" "It delights me if to thy young eyes I seem a handsome
youth: I take thy hand anew, and am well content to live with thee another
The Queen welcomed her new friend, and went down with
her into the interior of the Altar, while the King stood between his two
men, looking towards the Bridge, and attentively contemplating the busy
tumult of the people.
But his satisfaction did not last; for ere long he saw
an object which excited his displeasure. The great Giant, who appeared not
yet to have awoke completely from his morning sleep, came stumbling along
the Bridge, producing great confusion all around him. As usual, he had
risen stupefied with sleep, and had meant to bathe in the well-known bay of
the River; instead of which he found firm land, and plunged upon the broad
pavement of the Bridge. Yet although he reeled into the midst of men and
cattle in the clumsiest way, his presence, wondered at by all, was felt by
none; but as the sunshine came into his eyes, and he raised his hands to
rub them, the shadows of his monstrous fists moved to and fro behind him
with such force and awkwardness, that men and beasts were heaped together
in great masses, were hurt by such rude contact, and in danger of being
pitched into the River.
The King, as he saw this mischief, grasped with an
involuntary movement at his sword; but he bethought himself, and looked
calmly at his sceptre, then at the Lamp and the Rudder of his attendants.
"I guess thy thoughts," said the Man with the Lamp; "but we and our gifts
are powerless against this powerless monster. Be calm! He is doing hurt for
the last time, and happily his shadow is not turned to us."
Meanwhile the Giant was approaching nearer; in
astonishment at what he saw with open eyes, he had dropt his hands; he was
now doing no injury, and came staring and agape into the fore-court.
He was walking straight to the door of the Temple, when
all at once in the middle of the court, he halted, and was fixed to the
ground. He stood there like a strong colossal statue, of reddish glittering
stone, and his shadow pointed out the hours, which were marked in a circle
on the floor around him, not in numbers, but in noble and expressive
Much delighted was the King to see the monster's shadow
turned to some useful purpose; much astonished was the Queen, who, on
mounting from within the Altar, decked in royal pomp, with her virgins,
first noticed the huge figure, which almost closed the prospect from the
Temple to the Bridge.
Meanwhile the people had crowded after the Giant, as he
ceased to move; they were walking round him, wondering at his
metamorphosis. From him they turned to the Temple, which they now first
appeared to notice, and pressed towards the door.
At this instant the Hawk with the mirror soared aloft
above the dome; caught the light of the Sun, and reflected it upon the
group, which was standing on the Altar. The King, the Queen, and their
attendants, in the dusky concave of the Temple, seemed illuminated by a
heavenly splendour, and the people fell upon their faces. When the crowd
had recovered and risen, the King with his followers had descended into the
Altar, to proceed by secret passages into his palace; and the multitude
dispersed about the Temple to content their curiosity. The three Kings that
were standing erect they viewed with astonishment and reverence; but the
more eager were they to discover what mass it could be that was hid behind
the hangings, in the fourth niche; for by some hand or another, charitable
decency had spread over the resting-place of the fallen King a gorgeous
curtain, which no eye can penetrate, and no hand may dare to draw
The people would have found no end to their gazing and
their admiration, and the crowding multitude would have even suffocated one
another in the Temple, had not their attention been again attracted to the
Unexpectedly some gold-pieces, as if falling from the
air, came tinkling down upon the marble flags; the nearest passers-by
rushed thither to pick them up; the wonder was repeated several times, now
here, now there. It is easy to conceive that the shower proceeded from our
two retiring Flames, who wished to have a little sport here once more, and
were thus gaily spending, ere they went away, the gold which they had
licked from the members of the sunken King. The people still ran eagerly
about, pressing and pulling one another, even when the gold had ceased to
fall. At length they gradually dispersed, and went their way; and to the
present hour the Bridge is swarming with travellers, and the Temple is the
most frequented on the whole Earth.