|THE GLASS MOUNTAIN
By Hermann R. Kletke
ONCE upon a time there was a glass mountain at the top of which
castle made of pure gold, and in front of the castle there grew
apple tree on which there were golden apples.
Anyone who picked an apple gained admittance into the golden
and there in a silver room sat an enchanted princess of surpassing
fairness and beauty. She was as rich, too, as she was beautiful,
the cellars of the castle were full of precious stones, and great
chests of the finest gold stood round the walls of all the rooms.
Many knights had come from afar to try their luck, but it was
they attempted to climb the mountain. In spite of having their
shod with sharp nails, no one managed to get more than halfway
then they all fell back right down to the bottom of the steep,
hill. Sometimes they broke an arm, sometimes a leg, and many a
man had broken his neck even.
The beautiful princess sat at her window and watched the bold
trying to reach her on their splendid horses. The sight of her
gave men fresh courage, and they flocked from the four quarters
globe to attempt the work of rescuing her. But all in vain, and
seven years the princess had sat now and waited for some one to
the glass mountain.
A heap of corpses both of riders and horses lay round the mountain,
many dying men lay groaning there unable to go any further with
wounded limbs. The whole neighborhood had the appearance of a
churchyard. In three more days the seven years would be at an
when a knight in golden armor and mounted on a spirited steed
making his way toward the fatal hill.
Sticking his spurs into his horse he made a rush at the mountain
got up halfway, then he calmly turned his horse's head and came
again without a slip or stumble. The following day he started
same way; the horse trod on the glass as if it had been level
and sparks of fire flew from its hoofs. All the other knights
astonishment, for he had almost gained the summit, and in another
moment he would have reached the apple tree; but of a sudden a
eagle rose up and spread its mighty wings, hitting as it did so
knight's horse in the eye. The beast shied, opened its wide nostrils,
and tossed its mane, then rearing high up in the air, its hind
slipped and it fell with its rider down the steep mountain side.
Nothing was left of either of them except their bones, which rattled
the battered, golden armor like dry peas in a pod.
And now there was only one more day before the close of the seven
years. Then there arrived on the scene a mere school boy-a merry,
happy-hearted youth, but at the same time strong and well grown.
saw how many knights had broken their necks in vain, but undaunted
approached the steep mountain on foot and began the ascent.
For long he had heard his parents speak of the beautiful princess
sat in the golden castle at the top of the glass mountain. He
to all he heard and determined that he too would try his luck.
first he went to the forest and caught a lynx, and cutting off
creature's sharp claws, he fastened them on to his own hands and
Armed with these weapons he boldly started up the glass mountain.
sun was nearly going down, and the youth had not got more than
up. He could hardly draw breath he was so worn out, and his mouth
parched by thirst. A huge black cloud passed over his head, but
vain did he beg and beseech her to let a drop of water fall on
opened his mouth, but the black cloud sailed past and not as much
drop of dew moistened his dry lips.
His feet were torn and bleeding, and he could only hold on now
hands. Evening closed in, and he strained his eyes to see if he
behold the top of the mountain. Then he gazed beneath him, and
sight met his eyes! A yawning abyss, with certain and terrible
at the bottom, reeking with half-decayed bodies of horses and
And this had been the end of all the other brave men who like
had attempted the ascent.
It was almost pitch dark now, and only the stars lit up the glass
mountain. The poor boy still clung on as if glued to the glass
blood-stained hands. He made no struggle to get higher, for all
strength had left him, and seeing no hope he calmly awaited death.
Then all of a sudden he fell into a deep sleep, and forgetful
dangerous position he slumbered sweetly. But all the same, although
slept, he had stuck his sharp claws so firmly into the glass that
was quite safe not to fall.
Now, the golden apple tree was guarded by the eagle which had
overthrown the golden knight and his horse. Every night it flew
the glass mountain keeping a careful lookout, and no sooner had
moon emerged from the clouds than the bird rose up from the apple
and circling round in the air caught sight of the sleeping youth.
Greedy for carrion, and sure that this must be a fresh corpse,
swooped down upon the boy. But he was awake now, and perceiving
eagle, he determined by its help to save himself.
The eagle dug its sharp claws into the tender flesh of the youth,
he bore the pain without a sound and seized the bird's two feet
his hands. The creature in terror lifted him high up into the
began to circle round the tower of the castle. The youth held
bravely. He saw the glittering palace, which by the pale rays
moon looked like a dim lamp; and he saw the high windows, and
of them a balcony in which the beautiful princess sat lost in
thoughts. Then the boy saw that he was close to the apple tree,
drawing a small knife from his belt he cut off both the eagle's
The bird rose up in the air in its agony and vanished into the
and the youth fell on to the broad branches of the apple tree.
Then he drew out the claws of the eagle's feet that had remained
flesh and put the peel of one of the golden apples on the wound,
one moment it was healed and well again. He pulled several of
beautiful apples and put them in his pocket; then he entered the
castle. The door was guarded by a great dragon, but as soon as
threw an apple at it the beast vanished.
At the same moment a gate opened, and the youth perceived a courtyard
full of flowers and beautiful trees, and on a balcony sat the
enchanted princess with her retinue.
As soon as she saw the youth she ran toward him and greeted him
husband and master. She gave him all her treasures, and the youth
became a rich and mighty ruler. But he never returned to the earth,
for only the mighty eagle, who had been the guardian of the princess
and of the castle, could have carried on his wings the enormous
treasure down to the world. But as the eagle had lost its feet,
died, and its body was found in a wood on the glass mountain.
One day when the youth was strolling about the palace garden
princess, his wife, he looked down over the edge of the glass
and saw to his astonishment a great number of people gathered
He blew his silver whistle, and the swallow who acted as messenger
the golden castle flew past.
"Fly down and ask what the matter is," he said to the
little bird, who
sped off like lightning and soon returned saying:
"The blood of the eagle has restored all the people below
to life. All
those who have perished on this mountain are awakening up to-day,
were from a sleep, and are mounting their horses, and the whole
population are gazing on this unheard-of wonder with joy and