E. T. A. Hoffmann The
On the Feast of the Ascension, at three o’clock in the afternoon, at the Black Gate in Dresden, the student Anselm overturns an enormous basket of apples for his eternal misfortune – and hears terrible curses and threats from the old woman-merchant: “You’ll fall under the glass, under the glass!” Having paid for his oversight by a thin purse, Anselm instead of drinking beer and coffee with liquor, like other kind townspeople, goes to the shore of the Elbe to mourn the evil destiny – all youth, all the hopes that have collapsed, all the sandwiches that fell downwards… From the branches elder, under which he sits, there are wonderful sounds, as if ringing crystal bells. Raising his head, Anselm sees three adorable golden-green snakes bent over the branches, and the prettiest of the three gently looks at him with big blue eyes. And these eyes, and the rustle of leaves, and the setting sun – everything
tells Anselm about eternal love. The vision dissipates as suddenly as it has arisen. Anselm in grief hugs the trunk of the elder, frightening and the sight of their own and wild speeches of people walking in the park. Fortunately, nearby are his good acquaintances: the registrar Heerbrand and the curator Paulman with their daughters, inviting Anselm to ride with them on a boat along the river and to finish the dinner party at Paulman’s house.
The young man, by common judgment, is clearly not himself, and the blame for everything is his poverty and unfortunate. Goerbrand offers him for a decent amount of money to hire a scribe to the archivist Lindgorst: Anselm has the talent of a calligrapher and draftsman – just that person is looking for an archivist to copy manuscripts from his library.
Alas: both the unusual situation in the archivist’s house and his outlandish garden, where the flowers look like birds and insects – like flowers, and finally the archivist himself, who is Anselm in the form of a thin old man in a gray cloak, then in the guise of a majestic gray-bearded king
– all this still deeply immerses Anselm in the world of his dreams, The door knocker pretends to be an old woman, whose apples he scattered at the Black Gate, again uttering sinister words: “To be to you already in the glass, in crystal! ..”; The string of the bell turns into a snake, twisting the poor fellow to the crunch of bones. Every evening he goes to the elderberry bushes, hugs him and cries: “Ah, I love you, snake, and die of sadness, if you do not come back!”
Day passes by the day, and Anselm still does not begin to work. The archivist, to whom he reveals his secret, is not at all surprised. These snakes, says the archivist Anselmu, are my daughters, and I myself am not a mortal man, but the spirit of the Salamander, overthrown for disobedience by my lord Phosphorus, the prince of the country of Atlantis. The one who marries one of the daughters of Salamander-Lindhorst, will receive a gold pot in a dowry. A fiery lily grows from the pot at the moment of betrothal, the young man will understand her tongue, comprehend everything that is open to disembodied spirits, and with his beloved will live in Atlantis. Return there and finally received the forgiveness of the Salamander.
Get the job done! The payment for it will be not only chervontsy, but also the opportunity to see the blue-eyed snake Serpentina every day!
… For a long time not seeing Anselm daughter of the curator Paulman Veronica, with whom they used to play music almost every night, is tormented by doubts: did he not forget her? Was he cool to her at all? But she already painted a happy marriage in her dreams! Anselm, you see, will get rich, become a court counselor, and she is an outward counselor!
Hearing from her friends that in Dresden there lives an old fortune teller Frau Rauerin, Veronica appeals to the one for advice. “Leave Anselm,” the girl hears from the hostess, “he’s a bad man, he trampled my kids, my liquid apples, he contacted my enemy, the evil old man.” He is in love with his daughter, a green snake, he will never be an outhouse counselor. ” In tears, Veronica listens to a fortune-teller – and suddenly she recognizes her nurse Lisa in it. The good nurse comforts the pupil: “I will try to help you, heal Anselm from the enemy enchantments, and you – to please the councilors.”
On a cold night, the fortuneteller guides Veronika into the field, where she fires a fire under a cauldron in which flowers, metals, herbs and small animals fly from the sack of an old woman, followed by a curl from Veronica’s head and her ringlet. The girl looks steadily at the boiling brew – and from there is Anselm’s face. At the same moment, over her head, a thunderous one is heard: “Hey, you bastards! Go away, hurry!” The old woman falls to the ground with a howl, Veronica is deprived of feelings. Having come to herself at home, on her couch, she discovers in her pocket a wet mirror, through her soaked cloak, the one that was cast by the fortune-teller last night. From the mirror, like the other day from the boiling cauldron, her lover looks at the girl. “Oh,” he laments, “why do you sometimes want to wriggle like a snake! ..”
Meanwhile, the work of Anselm in the house of the archivist, who did not get along at first, is increasingly arguing. He easily manages not only to copy the most intricate manuscripts, but also to comprehend their meaning. As a reward, the archivist arranges a student with Serpentina. “You have, as they say,” a naive poetic soul, “Anselm hears from the sorceress’s daughter.” You are worthy of my love and eternal bliss in Atlantis! ” The kiss burns Anselm’s lips. But it’s strange: all the next days he thinks about Veronica. Serpentina – his dream, a fairy tale, and Veronica – the most vivid, real thing that ever appeared to his eyes! Instead of going to the archivist, he goes on a visit to Paulman, where he spends the whole day. Veronica – the very gaiety, her whole appearance expresses love for him. Innocent kiss completely sobering Anselm. As a sin, is Goerbrand with everything that is required to make a punch. With the first gulp of strangeness and the wonders of recent weeks, they again rise before Anselm. He dreams aloud about Serpentine. After him, unexpectedly, the owner and Guerbrand are accepted to exclaim: “Long live the Salamander, let the old woman perish!” Veronica convinces them that the old Liza will certainly overcome the sorcerer, and her sister runs out of the room in tears. Crazy house – and only! ..
The next morning Paulman and Goerbrand for a long time are surprised by their violence. As for Anselm, he, having come to the archivist, was cruelly punished for cowardly renunciation of love. The wizard imprisoned the student in one of those glass jars that stand on the table in his office. In the neighborhood, in other banks – three more schoolboys and two scribes also worked for the archivist. They reproach Anselm (“A fool imagines himself sitting in a bottle, and he stands on the bridge and looks at his reflection in the river!”) And at the same time a half-witted old man showering them with gold for drawing scribbles for him.
From their ridicule Anselm distracts the vision of the mortal battle of the sorcerer with the old woman, from which Salamander emerges victorious. In a moment of triumph in front of Anselm is Serpentina, announcing to him the granted forgiveness. The glass bursts – he falls into the arms of a blue-eyed snake…
On the day of Veronica’s birthday, a newly-made court counselor, Goerbrand, comes to Paulman’s house, offering the girl a hand and a heart. Without thinking twice, she agrees: at least in part, but the prediction of the old fortune-teller has come true! Anselm – judging by the fact that he disappeared from Dresden without a trace, – found eternal bliss in Atlantis. This suspicion confirms the letter of the archivist Lindgorst received by the author with permission to publicly disclose the secret of his miraculous existence in the world of spirits and with the invitation to complete the story of the Gold Pot in the same blue palm hall of his house where the illustrious student Anselm worked.