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Pot of gold.

By HORACE E. SCUDDER
From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.

Start of Story

"Only don't let it drop on my head," said Andy, with a laugh. They walked along the shore in silence. After a time Chrif cried out with joy, "Here is a path leading into the woods. And I do believe I see the pillar!" "Hurrah!" cried Andy, "let's push on!" And now the three stood at the foot of the pillar and looked up to the top. By the faint light of the moon they saw the pot of gold. "Climb on Andy's shoulders, Gavin, and then I will stand on yours," said Chrif. "I don't want the pot of gold," said Gavin. "I have seen it; that is enough. I will go to see the Magic Fountain," and Gavin turned into the forest. The other two friends stood by the pillar. "I must have that pot of gold. I want it for Rhoda and the old grandmother." As Chrif spoke, he looked at the pillar. Lo! a picture was on its side. He saw the old red house, the grandmother at the window, and Rhoda in the garden. Rhoda was watering the flowers in the dear old boat. Now and then she would turn her head and look up the road. She seemed hoping that Chrif would come. The pillar and the pot of gold faded away; then the picture of home went too. Chrif was left in darkness. Then Andy spoke. "Hark!" he whispered, "I hear something."



Chrif listened and he too heard distant music. Its notes were very sweet. "Come, let us go where the music is!" said Andy. Chrif and Andy made their way through the woods and entered a shining city. Every street was blazing with lights; the fronts of the houses were hung with lanterns; fireworks were being set off in the public squares. All the people wore their finest clothes. "How gay they all are! I wonder why?" said Andy. "Hush!" cried Chrif. A man on a prancing horse had just come in sight. He reined in his horse and blew a horn. Then he cried with a loud voice these words: "This night there is a ball in the palace. All are welcome. The Pot of Gold will be given to the one with whom the Princess shall dance." "Hurrah!" cried the people. "Hurrah! hurrah!" cried Chrif, louder than them all. When Chrif and Andy entered the palace, they saw the Princess upon her throne. Dancing was going on, but the Princess did not dance. She was waiting for the handsomest dancer. All who thought themselves good-looking stood in a row not far from the Princess. Each lad was trying to look handsomer than the others in the line. Over the throne was a pearl clock. It was that kind of clock called a cuckoo clock. When the hours struck, a golden cuckoo would come out of a little door. He would cuckoo as many times as there were hours and then go back, shutting the door after him.



When Chrif and Andy entered the hall, the Princess saw them at once. "Those two are the handsomest of all," she thought, "and one of them is handsomer than the other." She looked at Chrif again. Then she stepped down from the throne. "Dance with me," she said, "and you shall have the pot of gold," and she held out her hand to Chrif. "What was I to do with it?" asked Chrif. "Oh, I know. I was to take it home to Rhoda." That moment the little bird burst open the pearl door. "Cuckoo! cuckoo! cuckoo!" he cried. But to Chrif he seemed to say: "Rhoda sits by the window watching for Chrif. The flowers are dead in the boat-garden. 'Chrif will never come back,' says grandmother, 'he cares nothing for us.'" Again Chrif saw the beautiful hall and the Princess standing before him. Then, suddenly, the music grew harsh; the palace walls fell; the dancers were gone. Chrif was all alone. When day dawned, Chrif was walking over a wide plain. On the far side of the plain stood a ruined house. Between a row of poplar-trees a path led to the door. Chrif knocked, but no one came. Then he pushed open the door and entered. An old man sat at a table. The table was covered with great books and many papers. Overhead a lamp burned dimly. The old man was bent over the books. He seemed to study busily, but when Chrif went near, he saw that the old man was dead.



There were two doors to this room. One was the door by which Chrif had entered. The other was opposite. This door was of stone. On it was written: "Behind this door is the Pot of Gold. To open you must first read the words written below." The words written below were strange; the letters too were strange. "These books may help me read the writing," thought Chrif. "This old man has spent his life in the search. Shall I be more successful I wonder?" Then he buried the old man, lighted the lamp, and read the books. Weeks passed and even months. Chrif ate little and slept less. At last, one day, he lifted a shining face. "I have found the secret!" he cried, "the letters are plain." Then stepping to the door, he read: "Knock and this door will open." Chrif knocked once, and the door flew open. One shining spot he saw in the darkness. It was the pot of gold. Chrif put out his hand to take it, when lo! burning words shone on its side. And Chrif read: "I am the Pot of Gold; I can give thee all things save one. If thou hast me, thou canst not have that. Close thine eyes. Then, if thou choosest me, open them again." Chrif closed his eyes. He saw the old red house dark and cold. No one lived there now. The boat-garden was hidden under the snow. Someone in white passed him by. She was weeping bitterly. "Rhoda!" he cried and followed in her steps.



Suddenly a warm hand fell upon his shoulder. "Chrif, dear Chrif!" He opened his eyes, and O joy! Rhoda stood beside him. "I have come to look for you," said Rhoda. "Why, Chrif, you have been gone three years!" "Three years!" gasped Chrif. "When grandmother died, last winter, I was so lonely, I said, 'When spring comes I will find Chrif.'" "Grandmother dead! Why, it was but yesterday that I left home!" "Ah, no," answered Rhoda. And she looked at Chrif and smiled. And so they came again to the old red house. There was the dear old boat-garden. Sweet-peas were in bloom and morning-glories climbed up the side of the house. It was very pleasant. As they stood by the boat-garden, a voice called to them. The old broom-woman stood in the road. "Have ye found the pot of gold?" she asked. "No; but I have found something else far better!" said Chrif, "I have found home."

       



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