Famous Stories Every Child Should Know eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 279 pages of information about Famous Stories Every Child Should Know.

“‘Make way!’ cried I impatiently, ’the animal is unruly, and may run over you.’

“‘Oh,’ snarled the imp, with a laugh more disgusting than before, ’first give me a piece of coin for having caught your horse so nicely; but for me, you and your pretty beast would be lying in the pit down yonder:  whew!’

“‘Only have done with your grimaces,’ said I, ’and take your money along with you, though it is all a lie:  look there, it was that honest brook that saved me, not you—­you pitiful wretch!’ So saying, I dropped a gold coin into his comical cap, which he held out toward me like a beggar.

“I trotted on, but he still followed, screaming, and, with inconceivable rapidity, whisked up to my side.  I put my horse into a gallop; he kept pace with me, though with much difficulty, and twisted his body into various frightful and ridiculous attitudes, crying at each step as he held up the money:  ’Bad coin! bad gold! bad gold! bad coin!’ And this he shrieked in such a ghastly tone, that you would have expected him to drop down dead after each cry.

“At last I stopped, much vexed, and asked, ’What do you want, with your shrieks?  Take another gold coin; take two if you will, only let me alone.’

“He began his odious smirking again, and snarled, ’It’s not gold, it’s not gold that I want, young gentleman; I have rather more of that than I can use:  you shall see.’

“All at once the surface of the ground became transparent; it looked like a smooth globe of green glass, and within it I saw a crowd of goblins at play with silver and gold.  Tumbling about, head over heels they pelted each other in sport, making a toy of the precious metals, and powdering their faces with gold dust.  My ugly companion stood half above, half below the surface; he made the others reach up to him quantities of gold, and showed it to me laughing, and then flung it into the fathomless depths beneath.  He displayed the piece of gold I had given him to the goblins below, who held their sides with laughing and hissed at me in scorn.  At length all their bony fingers pointed at me together; and louder and louder, closer and closer, wilder and wilder grew the turmoil, as it rose toward me, till not my horse only, but I myself was terrified; I put spurs into him, and cannot tell how long I may have scoured the forest this time.

“When at last I halted, the shades of evening had closed in.  Through the branches I saw a white footpath gleaming and hoped it must be a road out of the forest to the town.  I resolved to work my way thither; but lo! an indistinct, dead-white face, with ever-changing features, peeped at me through the leaves; I tried to avoid it, but wherever I went, there it was.  Provoked, I attempted to push my horse against it; then it splashed us both over with white foam, and we turned away, blinded for the moment.  So it drove us, step by step, further and further from the footpath, and indeed never letting us go on

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Famous Stories Every Child Should Know from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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