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Goldy






Category: Italian

Source: Fairy Tales From All Nations

Many a long year ago there lived in a great forest a poor herdsman,
who had built himself a log cabin in the midst of it, where he dwelt
with his wife and his six children, all of whom were boys. There was a
draw-well by the house, and a little garden, and when their father was
looking after the cattle the children carried out to him a cool
draught from the well, or a dish of vegetables from the garden.

The youngest of the boys was called by his parents Goldy, for his
locks were like gold, and although the youngest he was stronger and
taller than all his brothers. When the children went out into the
fields, Goldy always went first with a branch of a tree in his hand,
and no otherwise would the other children go, for each feared lest
some adventure should befall him; but when Goldy led them they
followed cheerfully, one behind the other, through even the darkest
thicket, although the moon might have already risen over the
mountains.

One evening, on their return from their father, the children had
amused themselves by playing in the wood, and Goldy especially had so
heated himself in their games, that he was as rosy as the sky at
sun-set.

"Let us return," said the eldest, "it seems growing dark."

"See," said the second, "there is the moon!"

At that moment a light appeared through the dark fir-trees, and a
female form, shining like the moon, seated herself on the mossy stone,
and span, with a crystal distaff, a fine thread, nodding her head
towards Goldy, singing:--

"The snow-white finch, the gold rose, for thee;
The king's crown lies in the lap of the sea!"

She was about to continue her song when the thread broke, and she was
instantly extinguished like the flame of a candle. It being now quite
dark, terror seized the children, and they ran about crying piteously,
one here, and another there, over rock and pit, till they lost each
other.

Many a day and night did Goldy wander in the thick forest, but could
find neither his brothers nor his father's hut, nor yet the trace of a
human foot, for the forest had become more dense; one hill seemed to
rise above another, and pit after pit intercepted his path.

The blackberries, that grew in profusion, satisfied his hunger and
slaked his thirst, otherwise he must have perished miserably. At last,
on the third day--some say it was not until the sixth or seventh--the
forest became less and less dense, and at last he got out of it, and
found himself in a lovely green meadow.

Then his heart grew light, and he inhaled the pure fresh air.

Nets were spread over the meadow, for a bird-catcher lived there, who
caught the birds which flew out of the wood, and carried them into the
city for sale.

"That is just such a boy as I want," thought the bird-catcher, when he
saw Goldy, who stood in the meadow close to the net, gazing with
longing eyes into the blue sky; and then in jest he drew his net, and
imprisoned within it the astonished boy, who could not comprehend what
had befallen him. "That's the way we catch the birds that come out of
the wood," said the bird-catcher, laughing heartily. "Your red
feathers please me right well. So I have caught you, have I, my little
fox? You had better stay with me, and I will teach you how to catch
birds!"

Goldy was well content; he thought he should lead a merry life amongst
the birds, especially as he abandoned all hope of again finding his
father's hut.

"Let us see how much you have learnt," said the bird-catcher to him,
some days after. Goldy drew the net, and caught a snow-white
chaffinch.

"Confound you and this white chaffinch!" screamed the bird-catcher;
"you are in league with the evil one!" and he drove him roughly from
the meadow, at the same time treading under his feet, the white
chaffinch which Goldy had handed over to him.

Goldy could not conceive what the bird-catcher meant; he returned
sadly, but yet not despairingly, to the forest, with the intention of
renewing his endeavours to find his father's hut. Day and night he
wandered about, climbing over fragments of rock and old fallen trees,
and often stumbled and fell over the old black roots which protruded
in all directions from out of the ground.

On the third day, however, the forest once more became somewhat
clearer, and he issued from it into a beautiful bright garden, full of
the most delightful flowers, and as he had never before seen such he
stood gazing full of admiration. The gardener no sooner perceived
him--for Goldy stood beneath the sunflowers, and his locks glistened
in the sunshine just like one of them--than he exclaimed: "Ha! he is
just such a boy as I want!" and the garden-gate closed directly. Goldy
was very well satisfied, for he thought he should lead a gay life
amongst the flowers, and he had again lost the hope of getting back to
his father's cottage.

"Off with you to the forest!" said the gardener to him one morning,
"and fetch me the stem of a wild rose, that I may engraft cultivated
roses on it."

Goldy went and returned with a rose-bush bearing the most beautiful
golden-coloured roses imaginable, which looked exactly as if they were
the work of the most skilful of goldsmiths, and prepared to adorn a
monarch's table.

"Confound you, with these golden roses!" screamed the gardener; "you
are in league with the evil one!" and he drove Goldy roughly out of
the garden, as with plenty of abuse he trampled the golden roses on
the ground.

Goldy knew not what the gardener could mean; but he went calmly back
into the forest, and again set himself to seek after his father's
cabin.

He walked on day and night, from tree to tree, from rock to rock. On
the third day, the forest again became clearer and clearer, and he
came to the shore of the blue sea. It lay before him without a
boundary; the sun mirrored itself in the crystal surface, which
glistened like liquid gold, and gay vessels with far-floating
streamers floated on the waves. Some fishermen sat in a pretty bark on
the shore, into which Goldy entered, and gazed with wonder out into
the bright distance.

"We stand in need of just such a boy," said the fisherman, and off
they pushed into the sea. Goldy was well pleased to go with them, for
he thought it must be a golden life there amongst the bright waves,
and he had quite lost all hope of again finding his father's hut.

The fishermen cast their nets, but took nothing.

"Let us see if you will have better luck," said an old fisherman with
silver hair, addressing Goldy. With unskilful hands he let down the
net into the deep, drew it up, and lo! he brought up in it--a crown of
pure gold.

"Triumph!" cried the ancient fisherman, at the same time throwing
himself at Goldy's feet. "I hail thee as our king! A hundred years
ago, the last of our kings, having no heir, when he was about to die,
cast his crown into the sea, and until the fortunate being destined by
fate, should again draw up the crown from the deep, the throne,
without an occupant, was to remain wrapt in gloom."

"Hail to our king!" cried all the fishermen, and they placed the crown
on the boy's head. The tidings of Goldy and of the regained crown,
resounded from vessel to vessel, and across the sea far into the land.
The golden surface was soon crowded with gay barks and ships, adorned
with festoons of flowers and branches; they all saluted with loud
acclamations of joy the vessel in which was the Boy-king. He stood
with the bright crown upon his head, at the prow of the vessel, and
gazed calmly on the sun as it sank into the sea, whilst his golden
locks waved in the refreshing evening breeze.





Next: The Serpent Prince

Previous: The Golden Duck



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