“How can the Archivarius babble such mad stuff?” thought the student Anselmus, sitting down at the table to begin the copying of the manuscript, which Archivarius Lindhorst had as usual spread out before him. But on the parchment roll he perceived so many strange crabbed strokes and twirls all twisted together in inexplicable confusion, offering no resting-point for the eye, that it seemed to him well-nigh impossible to copy all this exactly. Nay, in glancing over the whole, you might have thought the parchment was nothing but a piece of thickly veined marble, or a stone sprinkled over with lichens. Nevertheless he determined to do his utmost, and boldly dipped in his pen; but the ink would not run, do what he would; impatiently he spirted the point of his pen against his nail, and—Heaven and Earth!—a huge blot fell on the out-spread original! Hissing and foaming, a blue flash rose from the blot, and, crackling and wavering, shot through the room to the ceiling. Then a thick vapor rolled from the walls; the leaves began to rustle, as if shaken by a tempest; and down out of them darted glaring basilisks in sparkling fire; these kindled the vapor, and the bickering masses of flame rolled round Anselmus. The golden trunks of the palm-trees became gigantic snakes, which knocked their frightful heads together with piercing metallic clang and wound their scaly bodies round Anselmus.
“Madman I suffer now the punishment of what, in insolent sacrilege, thou hast done!” So cried the frightful voice of the crowned Salamander, who appeared above the snakes like a glittering beam in the midst of the flame; and now the yawning jaws of the snakes poured forth cataracts of fire on Anselmus; and it was as if the fire-streams were congealing about his body and changing into a firm ice-cold mass. But while Anselmus’ limbs, more and more pressed together and contracted, stiffened into powerlessness, his senses passed away. On returning to himself, he could not stir a joint; he was as if surrounded with a glistening brightness, on which he struck if he but tried to lift his hand or move otherwise.—Alas! He was sitting in a well-corked crystal bottle, on a shelf, in the library of Archivarius Lindhorst.
Sorrows of the student Anselmus in the Glass Bottle. Happy Life of the Cross Church Scholars and Law Clerks. The Battle in the Library of Archivarius Lindhorst. Victory of the Salamander, and Deliverance of the student Anselmus.
Justly may I doubt whether thou, kind reader, wert ever sealed up in a glass bottle; or even that any vivid tormenting dream ever oppressed thee with such a demon from fairyland. If such were the case, thou wouldst keenly enough figure out the poor student Anselmus’ woe; but shouldst thou never have even dreamed such things, then will thy quick fancy, for Anselmus’ sake and mine, be obliging enough to inclose itself for a few moments in the crystal.