The Golden Mountain, by Meyer Levin, , at sacred-texts.com
In a place beyond the habitations of men there lived a master of prayer. His house was hidden in the forest; there was a body of water in his domain, and by the water grew fruit-laden trees; there he passed his days singing in joyous worship of Heaven.
Sometimes he would leave his retreat to go into the world of men. He would approach one person or another, and begin to talk with him. Mostly he would speak to humble workmen and tradesmen, but rich men, too, had heard him.
"What do you live for?" he would ask.
Some would answer, "To eat and to drink"; others would answer, "To die"; but the Master would prove to them that man lived only for joy, and that man owed his joy to Heaven.
"Come with me," he would say, "and I will show you how to live."
One by one he brought people to his place in the forest; they bathed in the water, they ate of the fruit, they sang, and their worship was purest joy. The master knew the needs of each of his followers; those who had been poor were sometimes given garments of gold, and the rich were happy in beggar's rags.
But in the world of men it came to be known that there was a Master who caused men to leave their wives and their brothers while they followed him, so a great cry was set up that the Master must be captured.
This they could not do, for he cleverly disguised
himself, once as a merchant, another time as a soldier, and a third time as a wanderer; no man could tell who he was, until the Master had won the man to his will.
And already among the Master's followers there were some who lived so perfectly in his ways that they too went among men, and brought away people to live as they lived.
In that time there was a strange kingdom inhabited by a people who believed only in riches. Among them, a man was judged according to the sum of money that he possessed. Each year, each citizen would tell the measure of his possessions, and accordingly receive his rank. Those who had no money, or very little, might not even call themselves men, but were ranked as beasts and birds: some were dogs, some cattle, some mules, and they had to serve those who had gold. The richer might call themselves men, and if they had a great sum of money they were noblemen, and if they had a still greater sum they were kings.
There, no one had any thought but to get riches, thus a dog wanted to become a horse, and a horse a lion, and a lion a man, and a man a nobleman, and a nobleman a king. They knew no right or wrong, except the right of riches, so that the country was filled with thieves and bandits who sought to become kings by stealing money. The noblemen and kings employed great armies of men-beasts as soldiers to protect their treasuries, but nevertheless the land was filled with theft and violence.
When the Master's followers heard of that country they said, "Let us go there and see if we can win the people from their folly." So a band of them came to the land where money was worshipped.
They could not find anyone who would stop and listen to them, but at last they spoke to a poor little creature huddled naked in the street. He was not even a man, but was of the rank of a sparrow.
As they began to speak of the folly of riches, he cried, "I have no time to listen to you!"
"What have you to do?" they asked.
"I must prepare to go on a journey, for we have heard of a land where gold may be made out of the earth!" he said. "There I too may become a king, or even a god, according to our laws. Who knows, I may yet win the rank of a star, and I may become that supreme being, the moon. For it is the moon, you know, that makes gold on earth, and if I get enough gold out of the earth I may become the moon, and then I can make all the earth into gold!"
"Where is that land?" they asked of him.
"It is among high mountains, far from the other peoples of the world. We will build our cities on the peaks of those mountains, and make strong walls so that none may enter and steal our gold, and there will be but one secret path upon each mountain leading to each of our cities. And there I, too, may become a god!"
With these words he ran from them, and they saw that all the people were leaving the city.
The disciples returned to their Master and told him of the kingdom of folly where rich men called themselves stars and moons and even gods. The Master cried, "I had feared that they would call themselves gods!" And he determined to go to the new domain of the money-worshippers and try to rid them of their folly.
He came to the guards who stood at the foot of the mountains, and began to speak of the folly of worshipping riches. But the guards, who were only of the rank of hounds and wolves, were filled with the desire to get gold and become men; they could not listen to the Master, but could only stare at the portraits of their kings and gods which they always carried about with them, for the love of riches was grown so deep that they could not imagine a world where things might be otherwise.
Then, seeing that it was of no use to speak with the guards, the Master went by them; he passed through the secret path up the mountain, and came into the city.
In that city were many merchants who often journeyed through the world to trade with other peoples, and on such voyages they had heard of a Master who stole men from their accustomed lives but could not himself be caught. And now as the Master went up to one man and another in that city, and spoke, he found none who would hear him, for their folly was so deeply grown; nevertheless it was soon whispered that the Master of dangerous words was come into the city.
"How did he come here?" they cried, but none could tell. And he was so cleverly disguised that he could not be caught.
Meanwhile these same merchants brought news of a great warrior who went from one nation to another, conquering. It was his custom when he came within fifty miles of a city to send his warriors with a message demanding surrender. If the people submitted to his will he did their city no harm, but marched further; but if the city would not surrender, he made war, and slaughtered its people.
"This same conqueror is coming toward our mountains!" the merchants cried; and all the money-worshippers were terrified that he would take away their riches. But the merchants said, "It is not gold that he seeks, only power over the world." Then they were afraid for their lives, for they could not surrender their city to an infidel who did not believe in riches, and if they did not surrender their city, he would kill them all!
They prayed to their rich men-gods, and they took little beast-men and bird-men and burned them upon altars before these gods; but the sacrifices were of no avail; the warrior came nearer to their kingdom.
"Where shall we turn for help?" they cried. Then one merchant, who had travelled far, said, "There is a land where every man is a god. Surely they can help us." And he told of a country whose people were so rich that the poorest among them was rich enough according to the measures of the money-worshippers to be a god. "Even their steeds," he said, "are of the degree of angels, for their mounts are studded with jewels so rich as to make them of angel's rank. Let us send emissaries to those gods and beg them to help us."
The Master heard of their plan, and he thought, "I will go once more to the mountain cities and try to draw the people away from their folly." Then he came again and began to speak with a guard, but the guard could talk of nothing but the terrible Conqueror.
"Have you no power against him?" the Master said.
"We have sent emissaries to the land where men
are gods, and those gods will help us," the guard said.
Then the Master laughed. "But they are only men like yourselves!" he exclaimed, "and they cannot help you at all. Leave off your foolish talk of gods, for there is only one God, and rich and poor are alike to him, and only he can help you against the Conqueror."
At first the guard would not listen to him, but as he continued to speak, the guard said, "And what if I listen to you, I am only one." Then the Master was pleased, and he went to another guard, and talked to him until that guard said, "And what if I listen to you, I am only one." So he went until he had spoken to all the guards and they had answered him. Then he went into the city, and after he had talked for a long while to a man in the city, the man also said, "And what if I listen to you, I am only one." Thus, because the people were terribly afraid of the Conqueror, the Master was able to make them listen to him. But each time they spoke of the Conqueror, he said, "What Conqueror? Can it be that same Hero whom I knew at the court of the king?"
At last it came to the ears of the gods who ruled the city that the famous Master was among them, talking to the people. They ordered that he be captured and brought before them. And though he disguised himself in many different ways, he was caught and brought before the gods, and to them also he said, "What folly it is to send to the kingdom of gods for help. They are only men like yourselves, and can do no more than yourselves, for no man can stand before the Conqueror."
"What do you know of him?" they asked.
"I know," he said. "For there was a Hero in the court of a King whom I served. That King possessed a marvellous image made in the form of a Hand, perfectly made with all five fingers and with the marking of the faint and the deep lines that are found on the human hand, and by these markings one might see the form of every land in the world, as it had been from the beginning of creation, and as it will be at the end of time; and on that Hand one might see all that would happen to each country and each city, and to every man, for the lines and the markings upon the Hand were signs by which one might read; and the rivers and waters of all places were shown there, and the highways that went from one place to another, and even the hidden ways were shown there, so that from that Hand I was able to know the secret path into your own city, and by that Hand I know the secret paths into all your other cities, and I know the ways from this world into other worlds, and I know the ways that lead up into the heavens, for there is one way by which Elijah went from the earth to heaven, and there is another way that Moses went, and Henoch went by still another path: and they were all marked upon that Hand.
"There, too, one might see the fate of cities as they were, and are, and shall be; I have seen Sodom as it was before it fell, and as it is now; and I have seen your city, and so I have seen your emissaries go out to the city where all men are gods, and I have seen that your emissaries and the men of that city too will come to a woeful end."
When the elders heard him speak in this way they
thought, "Surely no man can have imagined such a thing, and it must all be true." They looked on their own hands, and saw that they were covered with lines and mysterious markings.
"Bring us to the King who possesses the wondrous Hand!" they cried. "Perhaps he will show us where to find gold!"
Then the Master smiled. "Still you can think of nothing but gold!" he said. "Think rather of how to save yourselves, for gold is of no worth to that King."
But they cried, "Nevertheless, bring us to him, and we will believe as you believe."
Then the Master said, "I do not know myself where the King is to be found, and I will tell you why that is so. Once I lived in the court of this King; he had a queen, and an only daughter, and the King sought a husband for his daughter.
"Now in the King's court there were six ministers: the Sage, who was the master of all wisdom and the keeper of the marvellous Hand; the Counsellor, who was the master of words and melodies; the Companion, who was the dear friend of the King, and each carried with him the portrait of the other and looked upon it when they were separate, for in each portrait was such a power that to look upon it was to grow love for him that was pictured there; the fourth minister was the Treasurer in whose keep were the staff of jewels and the cap of precious stones and all the treasures of the King; the fifth minister was the Warrior, and to him the King had given the marvellous Sword, for this Sword had three powers: if it were but raised against the enemy, all the leaders of the
enemy fled, but if the army of the enemy tried to do battle without its leaders, one had but to lean the sword sidewards, and the enemy all fell dead, and if it was leaned to the other side the enemies withered, and their skins dried and fell from them; and I, the Master of Prayer, was the King's sixth minister.
"To each of us the King had shown the secret place where we might replenish our innermost power, for the source of each sort of strength was marked upon that wondrous Hand; then each day we would retire, each minister to his place, to replenish his innermost power. The Sage went one way to the source of wisdom, and the Counsellor went another way to the source of the word, the Treasurer went to the source of riches, the Hero to the source of strength, and I went my way to the source of prayer.
"One day the King asked of me, 'Whom shall I choose as husband for my daughter? 'Then I said, Let her marry the Warrior!'
"The King was pleased at my answer, and the Daughter and the Hero were married. Then a boy child was born to them who was marvellously beautiful and so wise that before he could speak he understood all things, and this anyone might see, for when a jest was spoken, he laughed.
"But one day when we had all gone away from the palace, each minister to the source of his power, there came a whirlwind that overturned the world, making desert where ocean had been, and turning the dry land into sea. The wind came into the King's palace, but did not move a feather from its place. It went directly to the room where the Princess sat with her Babe, snatched the child from the arms of its
mother, and fled. The Princess ran after the wind, seeking her child. And so she ran, and no one knew whither. Then the Queen ran after the Princess, and lost sight of her, and ran another way, and no one knew whither. And after the Queen, the King ran, and no one knew whither.
"When we returned, each man from his own place, we found no one in the palace; then each man set out another way in search of the King and his kin. The wondrous Hand was gone, for the whirlwind had overturned all things, and not one of us could find his way again to the place of the source of his power, yet each of the ministers still had in him a power that was more than that of any other man in the world. Therefore if this Conqueror is that same Hero of our kingdom, no one can stand against him."
When the gods of the money-worshippers heard these words they would not let the Master leave them, for they feared the Conqueror.
Soon the Warrior was fifty miles from the city; then he sent his messengers to demand that the city surrender. The money-worshippers ran to the Master and said, "If this is indeed your friend the Hero, can you not help us?"
The Master asked them, "Will not your riches help you?"
"He refuses riches," they said.
Then the Master decided to go and see whether the Conqueror was indeed his friend the Hero. He went out to the invading army and spoke to one of the warriors. "Who is your leader?" he asked, "and how did he come among you?"
"That is a strange story," the warrior replied. "For
once there was a whirlwind that upset an entire kingdom, and made desert into ocean and the sea into dry land. After the wind had passed, all the people came together, but their King was gone. So they asked, 'How shall we choose a king?' And they asked again, 'What quality is in a king, more than in any other man?'
"Some said, 'Honour! For even the dead, who have no use for food, or gold, or beautiful garments, still demand that honour be paid to their memory.' Then they who sought honour in a king formed a band and went off together. On their way they met a caravan of gypsies; an aged man was being carried at the head of the caravan. He was blind, and crooked, and his voice was harsh, and he was angry with his bearers; though he cursed them aloud, his followers honoured him, for of all his brothers and sisters and their many descendants he was the eldest, and therefore the head of their tribe. When the people saw what great homage was paid to the gypsy, they said to him, 'Be our king!' So he growled and cursed them also, and they went after him, and found a land suitable to them, and settled there to serve their king.
"But another part of the people declared that not honour, but death was the greatest of all things, for all men, and beasts, and even the trees and the fruit upon the trees ended in death; so they sought a murderer to be their king. They heard a terrified screaming and asked, 'What has happened?' 'A man has killed his father and his mother!' they were told. 'Such a man must be the greatest of murderers!' they cried, and they made him their king. They sought a land between two mountains, where thieves and bandits
dwelt; there they lived, while the murderer ruled over them.
"Some said, a king should be more delicate than all other people, and so they went to seek for a king who did not eat the foods that other people ate. Yet others said, 'Men should multiply on earth, and because of beauty, children are born.' So they sought for a beautiful woman to rule over them. Still others said, 'It is by his power of speech that man is different from the beasts '; and they sought for a marvellous speaker, and in a market-place they found a madman who talked to himself in seven languages, and never stopped talking. Him they made king.
"There were still others among us who said that joy is the greatest thing in the world, and they found a drunkard in a dirty shirt, he lay in the road and lifted a bottle of wine to his mouth, and he sang; so they made him their king, and they went to a land where grape-vines grew, and settled in that land.
"Some sought for a wise man to rule over them; and at last there were those who said that strength is the greatest of all things among men. I was of that group. We went until we found a giant who could eat an ox and drink a barrel of ale at a single meal, and him we made our king. Wherever we passed, people fled before us. But one day there came a Hero who did not run from us, instead he went among us and drew his sword, then our warriors fled from him, and our carts were tumbled from the highway, and our king turned and ran. So we went up to the Hero and said to him, 'Be our king!' He became our king, and set out to conquer the world. It is not to rule the world that he seeks, but something otherwise. And
when a city will not surrender to him, he lifts his sword. And this sword has three powers—"
Then the Master knew that the Hero was indeed his old friend, and he sent his name to the Hero. The Hero called for him, he went to the Hero's tent, where with great joy they recognized each other, and cried, "At last we are come together again!"
But after a moment the Warrior asked the Master, "Have you found any of our old companions?"
The Master said, "I have sought everywhere, and I came upon the places where all of them had passed, but I found none of them. One day I went by a hill, and the hill was covered with green grass, and at the top of the hill there was a golden shrine as if the sinking sun had come to rest and remained there; I went up the hill, and found the King's crown lying there, and the winds moved slowly about the hilltop and murmured a majestic melody; but the King was not there, he had passed, and I could not find him. On another day I walked across a dreary waste land where there was no tree, or bush, or blade of grass, and all the earth was parched; then I saw a tiny drop of blood upon the ground, and then another, and each drop was like a tear; then I came to a pool of blood, and faintly, as if from the bottom of the pool, I heard the chanting of a dirge; then I knew that the Queen had passed that way and wept tears of blood for the loss of her loved ones, but I could not find her there.
"I went further, and I came to a fair meadow, and in the meadow was a tiny stream that was as white as lamb's wool; and when I came near I saw that it was a stream of milk, and it made a murmuring sound as
it flowed, a sound like the humming of a lullaby. Then I knew that the Princess had passed that way, and I sought for her but could not find her.
"At last I came to a desert, and in the sands were the footprints of a child's naked feet, and as I went I saw something that glittered like a sun-ray in the sand; I stooped, and found a golden hair of the child. And all about me, in the still air, there hovered a breath of sound, as of a child singing in the womb. Then I sought for the child, but could not find him anywhere.
"And so I passed the places of all the King's ministers; I passed a sea of wine, where the King's Friend had spoken beautiful words; I passed a forest where every bird spoke, and I knew the Counsellor had been there; and I passed a stone upon which the Sage had graven the image of the Hand that held the past and future of the world; I walked upon a heap of pebbles that blazed like a fiery wheel, and I saw that the pebbles were jewels, and knew that the King's Treasurer had been in that place; and I came to a wilderness where a lone tree stood, and at the foot of the tree the earth was wounded as by the stab of a great sword, and from that opening there came a martial song of war; then I knew that you had passed that way, but I did not find you there."
The Hero answered, "I too passed over all those places, and in the desert I gathered seven hairs of the child, and they have all the colours of the rainbow. So I sat there, and took pleasure in looking upon the child's hairs. I remained there for a long time, and did not eat. But at last I was very hungry, and I arose, and went, but forgot my staff there."
"I saw your staff, and knew you had been in that place, too," said the Master.
"From there, I went on until I came to a number of people who made me their king. Then I went out to conquer the world, but it is not because I desire to rule the world, only that I hope to find the Princess, and our Child, and the King and Queen and all our company."
Then the Master remembered his mission and said, "What can we do with the people of this city? They are fallen into a terrible error, for they worship only riches."
At this, the Hero shook his head. "I once heard the King declare that men may be rid of any error, except the worship of gold," he said. "And the only way to rid them of the worship of gold is the way of the Sword."
Then the Master asked of the Hero, "Do not attack them at once, but give them yet a while, for they have sent me to you."
Because of his friendship for the Master, the Hero set aside a number of days’ respite for the city; then the two friends arranged signs by which they would send messages to each other, and the Master went on his way.
As he went, he saw a number of people on the road; they were carrying many large tomes, and they were wrapped in prayer-shawls, and as they went they sang in praise of heaven. At this, the Master was startled, so he began to pray. He stood and prayed, and they stood and prayed; but at last the people said to him, "Who are you?" And he said to them, "Who are you?"
They answered, "When the whirlwind came over the world, and the people divided to seek kings for themselves, we were those who declared that holiness was the greatest of all things, and therefore we seek a master of prayer to be our king."
And when they heard him pray, their eyes were opened to all the mysteries, and they saw that he was a great man learned in the Torah, and they said, "Be our king!" So the Master became their king, and went with them.
Meanwhile the money-worshippers returned to their old ways and sacrificed beast-men to their men-gods; but no help came against the Warrior. The days passed, and the time he had given them was nearly gone. So they decided that they would do as they had planned to do at first, and send for help to that rich land where every man was a god. They chose seven of their own gods, and sent them on their way. But as the emissaries went on the road, they saw a man walking. The staff that he carried was encrusted with jewels so costly that it alone was worth more than any of their gods, and the man wore a cap covered with diamonds that were worth, to them, all the stars in heaven. The men-gods fell down to his feet, and desired to sacrifice themselves for him, but he would not permit them to do so. Instead, he took them up on a hill and showed them the treasures that were there, for he was the King's Treasurer. When the money-worshippers saw the treasures, they cried, "You are the god of gods!" And they decided that there was no need for them to go to the country where all men were gods, for surely the god of gods alone could help
them. So they said to him, "Will you come to our city and be our king of kings?" He went with them, and when he came into the city he would not allow any sacrifices to be made to him. But when they told him of the Conqueror who threatened the city, he cried, "Perhaps it is the Hero whom I knew in olden times!" Then the Treasurer went out to the invading army, and asked to be taken to the Hero.
When the Treasurer and Hero met, they recognized each other, and rejoiced, and the Hero cried, "The Master of Prayer has been here too!" Then they told each other how they had sought each other, and the Treasurer said, "I, too, passed over the places where all our friends had been; only your place, and the place of the Master, I never found."
And at last they remembered to speak of the city of money-worshippers. "There is only one way to cure them," the Hero repeated, "and that is the way of the Sword."
"Give them a little more time," the Treasurer asked. So the Hero gave them more time, and the Treasurer returned to the city and spoke again to the people, trying to draw them out of their error.
And this time the money-worshippers listened, for when the Master had spoken against riches they had thought him mad, but now it was their own god of gods who spoke as the Master had spoken, and they thought, "Perhaps these strangers are not mad"; and they said to him, "If our way is wrong, show us a way out of it."
Then the Treasurer told them of the marvellous Sword and said, "You must go the way of the Sword, and there you will be healed."
Again the richest men of the city were chosen, to go with the Treasurer in search of the way of the Sword. They dressed themselves in their costliest garments, all overhung with gold and silver, and started upon their journey. But first the Treasurer went secretly to the Hero and said, "I am taking them on a journey, but I hope on the way to find the King, and all our companions."
"Let me go with you, then!" said the Hero. And he disguised himself so that the rich men might not be frightened at having the Warrior amongst them; and then he sent a message to the Master telling him of the journey. The Master came hastily, saying, "Let me, too, go with you; perhaps we will find the King and all the court." They took him with them, while all the people of the Master's land prayed for the success of the journey.
So they went, and they came to the borders of a kingdom; a watcher stood on the road. "What sort of kingdom is this?" they asked of him.
"This is the kingdom of the wise," he said. "For when the whirlwind upset the world, we were those who said that the greatest of all things is wisdom, and we sought a sage to rule over us. One knew the ways of the stars, and another could see into the waters, but at last we found a man who sat upon a stone, and studied his own hand.
"'What wisdom have you?'" we asked of him. And he answered, 'Only the wisdom that is within my own soul.' So we made him our king."
Then the Master, the Hero, the Treasurer, and their seven rich companions, were taken to the hall of Wisdom, and the king upon the throne was truly their friend the Sage. There was great joy amongst
them, and then they spoke of all the others that had not been found, and then they spoke of their journey.
"We seek a way to rid these men of the folly of money-worship," the Treasurer said, "for I am the king of their kingdom."
"We are all fallen into folly," the Sage replied. "Some worship honour, some worship lust, and some worship death itself; and even we who worship wisdom have fallen into unbelief and empty questioning. But of all these follies men can be healed, except only the folly of gold."
Then he too went with them to find the way of the Sword, while they said, "Have you no longer that marvellous Hand upon which all the ways were shown?" The Sage answered, "I have the Hand, but I know that its secret is for the King alone to read, and since the King is lost I do not look upon the thing itself, but I have made an image of the Hand, which guides me."
They came to a land where men stood and spoke with each other. And men came eagerly towards them, saying, "We are the people who sought a Master of Words for our king. At first we crowned a madman who babbled in many languages, but then we heard a man who stood in the forest. He spoke, and the birds and the stones and the trees heard him, and answered. He sang, and they answered his song. So we said to him, 'Be our king,' and now he rules over us." Indeed, this was the King's Counsellor, and he went with the others.
They continued on their journey, and came to another kingdom, and found a soldier asleep; they wakened him and asked, "Who is your king?"
"We had a king whom we found drunk in the
road," he said; "but afterwards we came to a man who stood by a sea of wine. We asked him to be our king."
The Sage knew at once that the sea of wine must have been made by the King's Friend. So they came to him, and knew him, and he was filled with joy. "Let me go with you," he cried. "Perhaps we will find the others of the court."
Then they came to another land, where they found the watchman lying with a woman. "This is the land of beauty," he told them, "and our queen is a beautiful woman. For one day in the wilderness we came upon a woman so beautiful that the very trees bowed their fruit to her hand. But her beauty was sorrowful, and she sat very still with her head bowed, and sang a lullaby, while from her breasts there flowed a stream of purest milk. Then we begged her, 'Be our queen!' So she rules over us, but no man may approach her, for she awaits her true husband, and mourns the loss of her child."
They knew that the watchman spoke of the Princess, and they hastened to the court. The Hero took her in his arms, for he had found his wife, and they rejoiced together. The people of that kingdom desired him to be their king, and remain with them, but the Hero and the Princess said, "We must go and seek our Child."
They went with the others, and came to a kingdom where there were no watchmen. A man stood singing, and they asked of him, "Who is your king?"
"We are those who sought a king more pure than all other men," he told them. "And we said, 'We shall know his purity by the food upon which he
lives.' At last we came upon a stream of milk, and by the stream there sat a Child, and he fed only upon the milk. We made him our king, and our king is a one-year-old babe!"
They ran at once to see the Child, and they knew him, and he knew them, for he was wondrous wise; then the mother and the father and the child rejoiced with one another, and the ministers rejoiced, and the rich men were happy, though they did not know for what.
But the King and the Queen had not yet been found, and all the company went forth on the quest, and they took the Child with them.
There was a land between two mountains, where watchmen stood in black armour, and would not let them pass.
"Who is your king?" the Warrior asked.
"We are of those who chose death as the end of all things, and for our king we took a man who had murdered his mother and father. But afterwards we found a woman who stood by a sea of blood, and moaned, and we said, 'Surely she has died more deaths than he.' So we killed our king, and we asked the woman to rule over us."
They went into the dungeon of death, and when the Queen saw them she cast aside her black veils, all but one heaviest, for "My husband has not been found," she said.
The Queen went with them, and they came to a land that was fair and green. A shepherd stood on a hill, and they asked of him, "Who is your king?"
"We are of those who chose honour as the greatest of all things, and at first an old gypsy ruled over us,
but one day we came to this hill, and upon the hill there was seated an old man. His beard was white, and the wind went softly about his hair. There was a crown upon his head, and his aspect was of such wondrous peace and dignity that a wild faun came and knelt to him and kissed his hand."
"We said, 'Be our king!' and he rules over us."
Then they came to the top of the hill, and the King was truly their King, and so the holy court was come together again, and there was joy on earth and in heaven; and the rich men saw, and wondered.
Then each minister told the King of the errors of his people, and the King sent the Master to bring the peoples out of their strange errors; but there was no way to help those who worshipped money.
At last the Hero reminded the King, "I once heard the King say that there was only one way to bring men out of the error of riches, and that was the way of the Sword."
"That is true," said the King. "You must go the way of the Sword, and there you will find a path that turns and leads to a flaming mountain. But the flaming mountain is invisible, and on its top there lives a lion who comes down and falls upon the flocks, and kills and eats the sheep and the goats. From there you must go onward on another path, and you will come to the place where the daintiest of foods are prepared. It is far from the mountain, and yet it is fed by the fire of the mountain, for there is no fire in the hearth; and the hearth, too, is invisible, but you will know it by the two great birds who stand and fan the fire with the beating of their wings, making it rise or shrink according to the need. There, the daintiest of foods
are prepared, and only in those foods is the power to make men forget the folly of gold. So you must lead them against the wind, that they may scent the wonderful odour of these foods, and when they taste of the food, they will forget riches."
The Hero led the band of rich men, and at last they scented the odour of the food. "Let us eat some of that food!" they cried. Then he turned them and led them with the wind, and they began to smell a terrible odour instead, and asked, "What is that horrible stench?" He turned them again and led them against the wind, so they caught the beautiful delicate odour of the foods, and they cried, "Let us only taste that delicious food!" But he turned them once more, and the putrid stench came to their nostrils, and they ran, but the stench grew. "Where can it come from?" they asked.
"You see that there is nothing near you that can have so bad an odour," the Hero said, "and since you are running, and the odour remains with you, it must be something upon yourselves that smells so ill!"
He turned them against the wind, and this time he led them into the cave of wonderful delicacies, and gave them to eat of the foods.
As soon as they had tasted the delicacies, the rich men knew that it was their own gold and silver that had smelled so ill, and they began to throw their gold and silver garments from them. They swiftly hurled away all the money and jewels they had in their pockets, and tore diamonds from their clothes, and rings from their fingers; and the more they ate of the wonderful food, the more ashamed they became of riches, and whoever had a gulden or a penny left
threw it from him; some even buried their faces in the earth, while others tried to bury themselves alive to be free of the filth of money, and a few tore at their own skins to remove the odour of gold from themselves; for the food that they ate possessed so great a power of truth that the more money a man had, the greater was his shame.
The Hero saw, and prevented them from tearing themselves to pieces and from burying themselves alive; and when they had thoroughly cleansed themselves of their riches he said to them, "Come, let us go home! Now you have no more need to fear the Conqueror, so know that I myself am that dreaded warrior!"
Then they took with them enough of the wonderful delicacies for all their people, and they returned home to their kingdom, and gave morsels of the food to all the people to eat. At once the rich men who were called gods and kings and princes threw their gold from them, and buried their heads in the ground in shame, and the little men who were called beasts and birds were also ashamed, and threw away their pennies.
When they had all been cleansed of their error, the Master came, and brought them forgiveness. Then the King and his Court were assembled once more, and the King ruled over the earth, and the secret ways were opened again, and each of the ministers returned to his place to renew his strength at its source; and all the peoples of the earth gave over their foolishness and lived in righteousness and peace, singing to Heaven.