The Crimson Fairy Book HTML version
The Treasure Seeker
Once, long ago, in a little town that lay in the midst of high hills and wild forests, a party
of shepherds sat one night in the kitchen of the inn talking over old times, and telling of
the strange things that had befallen them in their youth.
Presently up spoke the silver-haired Father Martin.
'Comrades,' said he, 'you have had wonderful adventures; but I will tell you something
still more astonishing that happened to myself. When I was a young lad I had no home
and no one to care for me, and I wandered from village to village all over the country
with my knapsack on my back; but as soon as I was old enough I took service with a
shepherd in the mountains, and helped him for three years. One autumn evening as we
drove the flock homeward ten sheep were missing, and the master bade me go and seek
them in the forest. I took my dog with me, but he could find no trace of them, though we
searched among the bushes till night fell; and then, as I did not know the country and
could not find my way home in the dark, I decided to sleep under a tree. At midnight my
dog became uneasy, and began to whine and creep close to me with his tail between his
legs; by this I knew that something was wrong, and, looking about, I saw in the bright
moonlight a figure standing beside me. It seemed to be a man with shaggy hair, and a
long beard which hung down to his knees. He had a garland upon his head, and a girdle
of oak-leaves about his body, and carried an uprooted fir-tree in his right hand. I shook
like an aspen leaf at the sight, and my spirit quaked for fear. The strange being beckoned
with his hand that I should follow him; but as I did not stir from the spot he spoke in a
hoarse, grating voice: "Take courage, fainthearted shepherd. I am the Treasure Seeker of
the mountain. If you will come with me you shall dig up much gold."
'Though I was still deadly cold with terror I plucked up my courage and said: "Get away
from me, evil spirit; I do not desire your treasures."
'At this the spectre grinned in my face and cried mockingly:
'"Simpleton! Do you scorn your good fortune? Well, then, remain a ragamuffin all your
'He turned as if to go away from me, then came back again and said: "Bethink yourself,
bethink yourself, rogue. I will fill your knapsack--I will fill your pouch."
'"Away from me, monster," I answered, "I will have nothing to do with you."
'When the apparition saw that I gave no heed to him he ceased to urge me, saying only:
"Some day you will rue this," and looked at me sadly. Then he cried: "Listen to what I
say, and lay it well to heart, it may be of use to you when you come to your senses. A
vast treasure of gold and precious stones lies in safety deep under the earth. At twilight