The King of the Golden River, by John Ruskin

Chapter IV

How Mr. Schwartz set off on an Expedition to the Golden River, and how he prospered therein

Initial, P

Poor little Gluck waited very anxiously, alone in the house, for Hans’s return. Finding he did not come back, he was terribly frightened and went and told Schwartz in the prison all that had happened. Then Schwartz was very much pleased and said that Hans must certainly have been turned into a black stone and he should have all the gold to himself. But Gluck was very sorry and cried all night. When he got up in the morning there was no bread in the house, nor any money; so Gluck went and hired himself to another goldsmith, and he worked so hard and so neatly and so long every day that he soon got money enough together to pay his brother’s fine, and he went and gave it all to Schwartz, and Schwartz got out of prison. Then Schwartz was quite pleased and said he should have some of the gold of the river. But Gluck only begged he would go and see what had become of Hans.

Now when Schwartz had heard that Hans had stolen the holy water, he thought to himself that such a proceeding might not be considered altogether correct by the King of the Golden River, and determined to manage matters better. So he took some more of Gluck’s money and went to a bad priest, who gave him some holy water very readily for it. Then Schwartz was sure it was all quite right. So Schwartz got up early in the morning before the sun rose, and took some bread and wine in a basket, and put his holy water in a flask, and set off for the mountains. Like his brother he was much surprised at the sight of the glacier and had great difficulty in crossing it, even after leaving his basket behind him. The day was cloudless but not bright; there was a heavy purple haze hanging over the sky, and the hills looked lowering and gloomy. And as Schwartz climbed the steep rock path the thirst came upon him, as it had upon his brother, until he lifted his flask to his lips to drink. Then he saw the fair child lying near him on the rocks, and it cried to him and moaned for water. “Water, indeed,” said Schwartz; “I haven’t half enough for myself,” and passed on. And as he went he thought the sunbeams grew more dim, and he saw a low bank of black cloud rising out of the west; and when he had climbed for another hour, the thirst overcame him again and he would have drunk. Then he saw the old man lying before him on the path, and heard him cry out for water. “Water, indeed,” said Schwartz; “I haven’t half enough for myself,” and on he went.

Then again the light seemed to fade from before his eyes, and he looked up, and, behold, a mist, of the color of blood, had come over the sun; and the bank of black cloud had risen very high, and its edges were tossing and tumbling like the waves of the angry sea and they cast long shadows which flickered over Schwartz’s path.

Then Schwartz climbed for another hour, and again his thirst returned; and as he lifted his flask to his lips he thought he saw his brother Hans lying exhausted on the path before him, and as he gazed the figure stretched its arms to him and cried for water. “Ha, ha!” laughed Schwartz, “are you there? Remember the prison bars, my boy. Water, indeed! do you suppose I carried it all the way up here for you?” And he strode over the figure; yet, as he passed, he thought he saw a strange expression of mockery about its lips. And when he had gone a few yards farther, he looked back; but the figure was not there.

And a sudden horror came over Schwartz, he knew not why; but the thirst for gold prevailed over his fear, and he rushed on. And the bank of black cloud rose to the zenith, and out of it came bursts of spiry lightning, and waves of darkness seemed to heave and float, between their flashes, over the whole heavens. And the sky where the sun was setting was all level and like a lake of blood; and a strong wind came out of that sky, tearing its crimson clouds into fragments and scattering them far into the darkness. And when Schwartz stood by the brink of the Golden River, its waves were black like thunder clouds, but their foam was like fire; and the roar of the waters below and the thunder above met as he cast the flask into the stream. And as he did so the lightning glared in his eyes, and the earth gave way beneath him, and the waters closed over his cry. And the moaning of the river rose wildly into the night as it gushed over the

TWO BLACK STONES

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33