The King of the Golden Mountain

At these words the son flew into a passion, and without thinking of his promise, turned his ring round, and wished both his wife and child with him. They were there in a second, but the Queen wept, and reproached him, and said that he had broken his word, and had brought misfortune upon her. He said, “I have done it thoughtlessly, and not with evil intention,” and tried to calm her, and she pretended to believe this; but she had mischief in her mind.

Then he led her out of the town into the field, and showed her the stream where the little boat had been pushed off, and then he said, “I am tired; sit down, I will sleep awhile on thy lap.” And he laid his head on her lap, and fell asleep. When he was asleep, she first drew the ring from his finger, then she drew away the foot which was under him, leaving only the slipper behind her, and she took her child in her arms, and wished herself back in her own kingdom.

When he awoke, there he lay quite deserted, and his wife and child were gone, and so was the ring from his finger; the slipper only was still there as a token. “Home to thy parents thou canst not return,” thought he, “they would say that thou wast a wizard; thou must be off, and walk on until thou arrivest in thine own kingdom.” So he went away and came at length to a hill by which three giants were standing, disputing with each other because they did not know how to divide their father’s property. When they saw him passing by, they called to him and said little men had quick wits, and that he was to divide their inheritance for them.

The inheritance, however, consisted of a sword, which had this property that if any one took it in his hand, and said, “All heads off but mine,” every head would lie on the ground; secondly, of a cloak which made any one who put it on invisible; thirdly, of a pair of boots which could transport the wearer to any place he wished in a moment. He said, “Give me the three things that I may see if they are still in good condition.” They gave him the cloak, and when he had put it on, he was invisible and changed into a fly. Then he resumed his own form and said, “The cloak is a good one, now give me the sword.” They said, “No, we will not give thee that; if thou wert to say, ‘All heads off but mine,’ all our heads would be off, and thou alone wouldst be left with thine.” Nevertheless they gave it to him with the condition that he was only to try it against a tree. This he did, and the sword cut in two the trunk of a tree as if it had been a blade of straw. Then he wanted to have the boots likewise, but they said, “No, we will not give them; if thou hadst them on thy feet and wert to wish thyself at the top of the hill, we should be left down here with nothing.” “Oh, no,” said he, “I will not do that.” So they gave him the boots as well.

And now when he had got all these things, he thought of nothing but his wife and his child, and said just as it were to himself, “Oh, if I were but on the Golden Mountain,” and at the same moment he vanished from the sight of the giants, and thus their inheritance was divided.

When he was near his palace, he heard sounds of joy, and fiddles, and flutes, and the people told him that his wife was celebrating her wedding with another. He fell into a rage, and said, “False woman, she betrayed and deserted me while I was asleep!” So he put on his cloak, and unseen by all went into the palace. When he entered the dining-hall a great table was spread with delicious food, and the guests were eating and drinking, and laughing and jesting. She sat on a royal seat in the midst of them in splendid apparel, with a crown on her head. He placed himself behind her, and no one saw him.

When she put a piece of meat on a plate for herself, he took it away and ate it, and when she poured out a glass of wine for herself, he took it away and drank it. She was always helping herself to something, and yet she never got anything, for plate and glass disappeared immediately. Then dismayed and ashamed, she arose and went to her chamber and wept, but he followed her there. She said, “Has the devil power over me, or did my deliverer never come?” Then he struck her in the face, and said, “Did thy deliverer never come? It is he who has thee in his power, thou traitress. Have I deserved this from thee?” Then he made himself visible, went into the hall, and cried, “The wedding is at an end, the true King has returned.”

The Kings, Princes and councillors who were assembled there, ridiculed and mocked him, but he did not trouble to answer them, and said, “Will you go away, or not?” On this they tried to seize him and pressed upon him, but he drew his sword and said, “All heads off but mine,” and all the heads rolled on the ground. And he alone was master, once more King of the Golden Mountain.

From Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
Garden City, N.Y.: International Collectors Library, 1900.

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