Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

ing singled out their king, he addressed him as follows:

“ Ha, hạ ! bad elephant! what brings you with such thoughtless frivolity to this strange lake? Back with you at once!”

When the king of the elephants, heard this, he asked in astonishment, “Pray, who are you?”

“I,” replied Longear, — “I am Vidschajadatta by name; the harę who resides, in the Moon. Now am I sent by his Excellency the Moon as an ambassador to you. I speak to you in the name of the Moon.”

" Ahem! Hare," said the elephant, somewhat staggered; " and what message have you brought me from his Excellency the Moon?”

“ You have this day injured several hares. Are you not aware that they are the subjects of me? If you value your life, venture not near the lake again. Break my command, and I shall withdraw my beams from you at night, and your bodies will be consumed with perpetual sun.”

The elephant, after a short meditation, said, “ Friend! it is true that I have acted against the rights of the excellent Majesty of the Moon. I

should wish to make an apology; how can I do

so?”

The hare replied, “ Come along with me, and I will show you."

The elephant asked, “ Where is his Excellency at present?

The other replied, “He is now in the lake, hearing the complaints of the maimed hares.”

“If that be the case,” said the elephant, humbly, “bring me to my lord, that I may tender him my submission."

So the hare conducted the king of the elephants to the edge of the lake, and showed him the reflection of the moon in the water, saying, “ There stands our lord in the midst of the water, plunged in meditation; reverence him with devotion, and then depart with speed.”

Thereupon the elephant poked his proboscis into the water, and muttered a fervent prayer. By so doing he set the water in agitation, so that the reflection of the moon was all of a quiver.

“Look !” exclaimed the hare; “his Majesty is trembling with rage at you!"

“Why is his supreme Excellency enraged with ine?” asked the elephant.

Because

you

have set the water in motion. Worship him, and then be off!”

The elephant let his ears droop, bowed his great head to the earth, and after having expressed in suitable terms his regret for having annoyed the Moon, and the hare dwelling in it, he vowed never to trouble the Moon-lake again. Then he departed, and the hares have ever since lived there unmo

lested.

207

The Mountain of Venas.

R

AGGED, bald, and desolate, as though a curse

rested upon it, rises the Hörselberg out of the rich and populous land between Eisenach and Gotha, looking, from a distance, like a huge stone sarcophagus — a sarcophagus in which rests in magical slumber, till the end of all things, a mysterious world of wonders.

High up on the north-west flank of the mountain, in a precipitous wall of rock, opens a cavern, called the Hörselloch, from the depths of which issues a muffled roar of water, as though a subterraneous stream were rushing over rapidly-whirling millwheels. “ When I have stood alone on the ridge of the mountain,” says Bechstein, “after having sought the chasm in vain, I have heard a mighty rush, like that of falling water, beneath my feet, and after scrambling down the scarp, have found myself -how, I never knew - in front of the cave.” (“Sa. genschatz des Thüringes-landes,” 1835.)

In ancient days, according to the Thüringian Chronicles, bitter cries and long-drawn moans were heard issuing from this cavern; and at night, wild shrieks and the burst of diabolical laughter would ring from it over the vale, and fill the inhabitants with terror. It was supposed that this hole gave admittance to Purgatory; and the popular but faulty derivation of Hörsel was Höre, die Seele - Hark, the Souls !

But another popular belief respecting this mountain was, that in it Venus, the pagan Goddess of Love, held her court, in all the pomp and revelry of heathendom; and there were not a few who declared that they had seen fair forms of female beauty beckoning them from the mouth of the chasm, and that they had heard dulcet strains of music well up from the abyss above the thunder of the falling, unseen torrent. Charmed by the music, and allured hy the spectral forms, various individuals had entered the cave, and none had returned, except the Tanhäuser, of whom more anon. Still does the Hörselberg go by the name of the Venusberg, a name frequently used in the middle ages, but with out its locality being defined.

« VorigeDoorgaan »