The dog sprang up and stood on its hind legs. Its tail disappeared, its ears became long, longer, silky, golden; its nose became very red, its eyes became very twinkling; in three seconds the dog was gone, and before Gluck stood his old acquaintance, the King of the Golden River.
“Thank you,” said the monarch; “but don’t be frightened, it’s all right”; for Gluck showed manifest symptoms of consternation at this unlooked-for reply to his last observation. “Why didn’t you come before,” continued the dwarf, “instead of sending me those rascally brothers of yours, for me to have the trouble of turning into stones? Very hard stones they make too.”
“Oh dear me!” said Gluck; “have you really been so cruel?”
“Cruel!” said the dwarf, “they poured unholy water into my stream; do you suppose I’m going to allow that?”
“Why,” said Gluck, “I am sure, sir—your Majesty, I mean—they got the water out of the church font.”
“Very probably,” replied the dwarf; “but,” and his countenance grew stern as he spoke, “the water which has been refused to the cry of the weary and dying is unholy, though it had been blessed by every saint in heaven; and the water which is found in the vessel of mercy is holy, though it had been defiled with corpses.”
So saying, the dwarf stooped and plucked a lily that grew at his feet. On its white leaves there hung three drops of clear dew. And the dwarf shook them into the flask which Gluck held in his hand. “Cast these into the river,” he said, “and descend on the other side of the mountains into the Treasure Valley. And so good speed.”
As he spoke, the figure of the dwarf became indistinct. The playing colours of his robe formed themselves into a prismatic mist of dewy light; he stood for an instant veiled with them as with the belt of a broad rainbow. The colours grew faint, the mist rose into the air; the monarch had evaporated.
And Gluck climbed to the brink of the Golden River, and its waves were as clear as crystal, and as brilliant as the sun. And, when he cast the three drops of dew into the stream, there opened where they fell a small circular whirlpool, into which the waters descended with a musical noise.
Gluck stood watching it for some time, very much disappointed, because not only the river was not turned into gold, but its waters seemed much diminished in quantity. Yet he obeyed his friend the dwarf, and descended the other side of the mountains toward the Treasure Valley; and, as he went, he thought he heard the noise of water working its way under the ground. And, when he came in sight of the Treasure Valley, behold, a river, like the Golden River was springing from a new cleft of the rocks above it, and was flowing in innumerable streams among the dry heaps of red sand.
And as Gluck gazed, fresh grass sprang beside the new streams, and creeping plants grew, and climbed among this moistening soil. Young flowers opened suddenly along the river sides, as stars leap out when twilight is deepening, and thickets of myrtle, and tendrils of vine, cast lengthening shadows over the valley as they grew. And thus the Treasure Valley became a garden again, and the inheritance which had been lost by cruelty was regained by love.