The plot is a simple one: two cruel brothers, Schwartz and Hans, live with their younger brother, Gluck, in a lush valley in Austria. The two older brothers mistreat everyone, not least the younger Gluck. The rich land has made the brothers rich. Yet when a visitor, Southwest Wind, Esquire, receives ill treatment at the hands of Schwartz and Hans, the rich soil washes away, leaving their land arid and worthless. The brothers work as goldsmiths, but drink away their earnings. One day they melt Gluck’s prized possession, a golden mug, which frees the king of the Golden River, a finely-dressed dwarf. The king tells Gluck that someone who climbed the high mountain to the source of the river and threw in at least three drops of holy water would find the river turned to gold; fail, and that person would be turned into black rock. Naturally, first Hans and then Schwartz make the attempt. Their greed and indifference to the suffering of others cause them to fail in their attempts, and they become black rocks. Gluck works for a goldsmith, but he, too, succumbs to the temptation to seek the Golden River. He is kind, however, and uses his flask with holy water to slake the thirst of an old man, then a child, and finally a small dog, to whom he gives the last of the holy water. The dog turns into the King of the Golden River, who gives Gluck three drops of water from a lily plant and urges Gluck to cast those into the river. When Gluck does so, the waters of the river diminished and flowed into the valley, making the land fertile once again. Gluck became a wealthy man who, unlike his brothers, never turned away the needy.
Some of the discussants
Mr. August Dominicus, Miss Astridh of Hulya, and Miss Isabelle
One of our discussants
Miss Ellie Mink
Your humble scribe
Sir JJ Drinkwater
Miss Herndon Bluebird
Dame Kghia Gherardi
Miss Zanicia and Miss Janet Rhiadra
Next up: Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll, on Wednesday, February 19, at 4 p.m. SLT.