MIDUS IN HIS VALLEY
There once was a cold king, in the Land of Glendaveer, who above all else loved things that came out of the cold ground. Things that became beautiful in the hands of men. He loved the thin gold that came, seamed, out of the spaces between the quartz and the fat gold: rounded from river beds. Gold, gold that was wrought by brown leathery men into shapes of beauty. He also loved the coloured stones hidden in drifts of gravel, that when struck with a sure hand revealed the colours of diamond, ruby and sapphire.
The King ruled a fair country, bounded by mountains and split by rivers. On all sides, all that was good, true and beautiful bloomed and grew.
His grandfather had been a king, as had his father and so, as is the nature of thing, he was King. the land prospered: for a while. The corn grew, the apple trees groaned under the weight of the yellow and green fruit and the bunches of grapes were fuller and richer than the dreams of a sleeping child. The King had been brought up with plenty and it seemed to him that this was the way of the ‘world.
The mountains at the edges of his kingdom were not fences, but places to be delved. He said to himself – “The corn grows and is harvested, ground and turned into bread, then eaten. The apples are picked from the trees and are put into barrels with straw, to be eaten in the winter. The grapes are crushed under dancing feet of my people and made into wine to gladden my people’s hearts. This is happiness for a season; but gold, gold lasts!” He spent more and more time at the mines in the mountains.
He had good men and women about him who managed his fields and flocks. He spent his time with the brown wiry men as they unearthed that which was crushed and smelted and cut and mounted and he carried these things back to his house. He surrounded himself with beautiful things.
The lesser works he traded into other lands for more clever brown men who made him cunning devices to serve him and he turned out his servants. This went on till his house glittered like the inside of a diamond.
Then, one year, a black winter became a black spring. The sun and the rain came at the wrong time. The smoke from the forges that wrought for the king added to the black season. The corn was weak and sickly, the apples fell unripe from the trees and the grapes were sour. The people went hungry.
In distress, they came to him and said, “Give us some of the bright things around you, that we may give them to the river captains to go to other lands and buy us food.” He looked at his house slippery with cold gold and knotted with bright gems and he turned from them and shut his doors.
From the mountains came the brown wiry men and they called at his gate, “Lord! Lord! The thin thin gold between spaces in the quartz is exhausted and the ancient dry rivers no longer give up their pretty stones. We have nothing to do, or anything to exchange for the food from the valleys. Give us some of the things made by our hands that we may eat.”
The King did not open his gates.
He said to himself – “I am king as was my father and his father, why is the world nearly dead? What shall I do? ” Knocking again sounded on his gate, louder and more desperate, louder it grew, till the whole house shook. He stuck his head out of a high window. “What do you want?
“It is what you want, Oh King.’ ” Came a voice.
“Speak-up then for I know not what to do!
“Let me in Oh King, I have an answer for your problem. Just let me in, and I will tell you.
So the king called one of his bright things and it let the stranger in. He was brown and wiry like the men who made the beautiful things, but tall and boney as a dead tree.
“Tell me what to do,” said the King.
“My name is Guizar. I am a wizard.” said the tall thin brown man. “Tell me the problem and I will solve it. Money back guarantee!”
“My lands are black with ruin and my mines have nothing left. I am a beggar’.` ”
Guizar looked around at the cold slippery gold and bright knuckles of gems that glittered everywhere, and said nothing.
“Can you help me?” said the King.
“Help you? I can help somebody.
” I will give you anything! ” pleaded the King.
“I will do what I can do.”
The wizard opened his satchel and spread on the ground what it contained. Out came: the udder of an ox, the skull of a man who had never lied and the skin of a woman who had never loved. Over all, he scattered the dead leaves of autumn in a pine forest. He sang songs over them. He danced around them. Then he turned to the king and he said, “Why have you not sold your bright slippery gold- and crusty gems to buy food for you and your people?
The King blazed in sudden anger, “Fool, this is the glory of my reign and these things fetch and carry for me. This I will not do!
Okay!” said the wizard, “Drink this~” He gave the King a cup fashioned from a spiders’ skull. It was full of a liquid as gold as sunlight on a lake. The King drank it. The wizard packed his things and left, his satchel heavy with gold.
The golden drink worked its’ magic, boiling through his veins, the king slept. When he woke, he was hungry. He called one of his bright things; the brown wiry men had made for him, and bade it to bring him food. When it arrived he hungrily grabbed the meat and bread. Before he could put it in his mouth, it turned to gold. In his amazement his hunger was forgotten, he looked at his hands, he touched the wooden chair on which he sat, it became golden. He touched the clothes he wore and they were cold gold of the finest tissue. He rushed from room to room, touching everything in his house, even the stone floor, it all shone yellow. Roof, walls, wood and stone all were gold.
In from the window of the golden room, came an angry voice from the golden gate, “King, give us some gold to feed our children, they starve!
He threw himself at the window in excited anger” Food! Food! What is food! I can make gold! I can make gold! ” He stopped in his tracks in final amazement. His hands flew to his face, “I can make….”
Finally the people broke down the gate. They poured through the house and found wealth enough for all they required.
The black spring passed and the slag heaps in the mountains grew green. In time: ripe corn, fat apples and lush grapes graced the lands.
If you go there, in the centre of the town, you will find the golden statue of a king with a surprised look on his face.