Once there lived a young farmer name Jorg, together with his aged father in a little house half
way up a mountainside about a quarter of an hour away from the other villages. Their farm was
so large that they were able to get along without having to worry about the morrow. The woods
started right behind the house and there were oak and beech trees that were so old that the
grandchildren of those who had planted them had already been dead for more than a hundred
years. In front of the house there was a broken millstone— no one knows how it got there.
Whoever would sit on it had a wonderful view of the valley, the river that flowed through it and
the mountains that rose on the other side. Jorg would sit there in the evening, often for hours
after finishing his work in the fields, with his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees,
and he would dream. And since he had almost nothing to do with the people in the village and
because he was all wrapped up in himself like one who was only thinking about life and the
world, people would make fun of him, and they called him Dreamjorg. But this did not bother
him at all.
As he got older, the less he had to say. When his father died and was buried under a great old
oak tree Jorg stopped talking altogether. When he sat on the old broken millstone, which he
did more often than before, and looked down at the splendid valley and saw how the evening
fog would come in at one end and slowly creep up the mountainside and how it got darker and
darker until the moon and the stars began to shine in all their majesty, he would begin to feel
a marvelous warmth in his heart. Then the ripples in the river would start to sing, at first very
softly, but then quite audibly, and they sang about the mountains from which they had come,
about the sea to which they were headed and about the mermaids that lived in the deep river.
Then the woods would start to rustle like no other woods, and they would tell their wonderful
stories. Especially the old oak tree that stood on his father's grave. It knew a lot more than the
other trees. But it seemed as if the stars in the heavenly vault wanted to fall into the green
woods and the blue river, and they twinkled and quivered as if they were about to do just
that. But the angels that stand behind every star, held onto them tight and said: "Stars, stars,
do not be foolish! You are too old to do that, thousands of years old and more. Stay where you
are and be contented!"—
What a magnificent valley it was!— But only Dreamjorg could see and hear what was going on
there. The people in the village had no idea what was happening, for they were just simple-
minded people. Now and then they would cut down one of the giant old trees, saw it in pieces
and split them and when they had made a nice stack they would say: "Now let us pause and
have some more coffee." In the river they did their washing. That was quite convenient. But
the most they could say about the stars when they saw them shining so bright was: "It is
going to be cold tonight and hopefully our potatoes will not freeze." When Dreamjorg tried to
tell them something else they would make fun of him. For they were just simple-minded people.
One day when Jorg was sitting on the old mill stone thinking that he was all alone in the world,
he fell asleep. He dreamed there was a golden swing on two silver ropes hanging down from
heaven. Each rope was tied to a star. On the swing sat a charming princess who would swing
so high that she went the whole way up to heaven and then come down to earth and then back
up to heaven again. Every time the swing came down to earth the princess would clap her
hands with joy and throw a rose to him. But suddenly the ropes gave way and the swing along
with the princess flew far up into sky, farther and farther, until he could see her no longer.
Then he woke up and looking around he saw a big bouquet of roses lying beside him on the mill
The next day he fell asleep again and had the same dream and when he awoke the roses were
It went on like that for the whole week. Then Jorg said to himself that there must be
something true about the dream because he had dreamed it over and over again. He locked the
door of his house and set off to look for the princess.
When many days had passed he caught sight of a place in the distance where the clouds were
hanging low over the earth. Boldly he headed for that place, but first he had to go through a
great forest. Suddenly he heard a frightened moaning and whining and when he came to the
place the noise came from he saw a venerable old man with a silver beard lying on the ground.
Two ugly, stark-naked rogues were kneeling on him trying to strangle him. Jorg looked around
to see if he could find some weapon to fight them off with, but when he could find nothing, in
his deadly fear he tore a thick branch off a tree. He had hardly taken hold of it when it
transformed itself into battle axe. With it he ran towards the two rogues and hit them in their
stomachs so that they lost their hold of the old man and fled.
Then Jorg helped the old man to get up, spoke kind words to him and asked him why the two
men wanted to strangle him.
The old man said he was the King of Dreams and that he had wandered off his path into the
realm of the enemy, the King of Reality. As soon as the King of Reality had noticed this he
sent out two of his men to be on the lookout for him and murder him.
"Did you do something to harm the King of Reality?" asked Jorg.
"God forbid," replied the old man. "He very easily loses control over himself and does strange
things. It is one of his traits—, and he has a special hatred for me."
"But those rascals who wanted to strangle you, they were naked!"
"Yes", said the king, "stark-naked. That is the fashion in the land of reality. Everyone there
goes around naked, even the king, and they are not in the least ashamed. They are horrible
people!— But because you saved my life I want to show you my gratitude by letting you see
my kingdom. It is probably the most magnificent kingdom in the world and dreams are my
Then the king set off and Jorg followed him. When they came to the place where the clouds
hung low over the earth the king pointed to an opening that was so hidden in the bushes that
it was hard to find unless one knew exactly where it was. He opened it and led his guest down
fifteen hundred steps into a brightly lit grotto that extended for miles and was filled with
splendor. Indescribable beauty! There were castles on islands in the middle of lakes and the
islands moved around like ships. And if one wanted to enter one of the castles, all one had to
do was stand on the shore and cry:
"Castle, castle, swim over here,
So that I might enter in!"
Then it would come to the shore all by itself. But there were still other castles on the clouds
that were gliding about slowly in the sky. If you would say:
"Come down here, castle in the sky,
So that I might look around inside!"
The castle would slowly come down to the shore. Besides that there were flower gardens that
smelled sweet during the day and at night would light up, and colorful birds that told stories
and so many other wonderful things. Jorg was amazed and full of wonder for everything he saw.
"Now I would like to show you my subjects, the dreams," said the king. "I have three kinds:
good dreams for the good people, bad dreams for the bad and kobold dreams that I like to
amuse myself with, for a king must have his fun, too."—
First he led him into one of the castles that had such a complicated architecture that it looked
very strange. "This is where the kobolds live," he said, "little, rowdy, tricky people. They harm
no one, but are always ready to tease."
"Come here, little fellow," he called to one of them, "and be serious for just a moment." Then
turning to Jorg he continued: "Do you know what this little rascal would do if I allowed him to
leave here and go down to earth just once? He would run to the nearest house, wake the first
person who was fast asleep, take him to the church tower and throw him down, head first.
Then he would run down the steps as fast as he could so that he arrived at the bottom before
the person landed, catch him and carry him home again and throw him into bed in such a way
that the noise would wake him up. Then the dreamer would rub his eyes, look around in
astonishment and say: "Good Lord, I feel as if I had just fallen down from the church tower.
Good that it was just a dream."
"So that's the one?" shouted Dreamjorg. "Do you see, he has already been at my house! If he
comes again and I catch him, he will be sorry." He had hardly said this when another kobold
jumped out from under the table. He looked like a little dog, for he was wearing a woolly jacket
and his tongue was hanging out.
"He is not much better", said the King of Dreams. "He barks like a dog but he is as strong as a
giant. When dreamers are overcome with fear he holds them so tight by their hands and feet
that they cannot get away."
"I know that one, too", said Jorg. "When you want to break loose it is as if you are immovable
and stiff like a piece of wood. If you want to lift your arm, you are unable to, and if you want
to move your legs, you cannot. Other times it is not a dog but rather a bear or a robber or
something really bad."
"I will never again allow them to visit you, Dreamjorg," said the king, setting him at ease.
"Now let us see the bad dreams but do not be afraid for they will not harm you. They are only
for the bad people." Then they went into a great open area that was surrounded by an high
wall and had a massive door that was locked. There were all kinds of ghastly figures and
horrible monsters moving around in there. Some looked half human, half animal, some were
wholly animal. Astonished, Jorg pulled moved back to the iron door. But the king spoke to him
in friendly tones saying: "Would you like to have a closer look at what evil people dream
about?" And he winked at a dream that stood there, a hideous giant that had a mill stone
under each arm.
"Tell us what intend to do tonight!" commanded the king.
The monster tucked his head between his shoulders and pulled his mouth back to his ears,
wiggled his back like as if her was quite satisfied with himself and said with a grin: "I am going
to the rich man who let his father starve. One day when the old man was sitting on the stone
steps in front of his son's house and was begging for bread his son came and said to his
companions: 'Get rid of that fool for me!' I will go to that man's son tonight and grind him
between the mill stones until all his bones are broken. And when he is ground enough and
squirming I will take him by the collar, shake him and say: 'Do you see how nicely you twitch,
you fool!' Then he will wake up with his teeth chattering and shout: 'Wife, bring me a blanket, I
am freezing.' And when he dozes off again, I will repeat the same the same thing over again!"
When Dreamjorg heard that he forced his way out through the entrance pulling the king behind
him and shouted: "I will not stay here for another moment with these bad dreams. They are
And now the king led him to a splendid garden where the paths were of silver, the flower beds
of gold and the flowers of precious stones. The good dreams always took their walks here. The
first thing he saw was a young woman who had a Noah's ark under her arm and a building
blocks under the other.
"Who is that?" asked Dreamjorg.
"Every evening she goes to a little sick boy whose mother died. During the day he is all alone
with no one to look after him. But in the evening she visits him, plays with him and stays
overnight. He usually goes to bed early. That is why she leaves early to get there. The other
dreams set out later.— Now come with me if you want to see everything. We must be getting
They kept walking out into the garden where the good dreams were. There were men, women,
old folk and children, all of whom had kind and friendly faces and they were dressed in their
best clothes. Many of them had different kinds of precious objects in their hands.— All at once
Dreamjorg stopped and cried out so loud that all the dreams turned around and looked at him.
"What is the matter?" asked the king.
"That is my princess over there, she who so often appeared to me and gave me the roses!"
shouted Jorg, beside himself with joy.
"Yes, yes!" answered the king, "That is she. I have always sent you a wonderful dream, haven't
I? This is probably the most wonderful dream I have."
Jorg ran over to the princess who was sitting on her little golden swing. As soon as she saw
him coming she jumped off and ran to him so he could take her up in his arms. But he took her
by the hand and led her to a golden bench. They sat down and told one another how nice it
was to be together again. After when they had said that they repeated the same thing all over
again. In the meantime the King of Dreams walked to and fro along a wide path that lay in the
middle of the park with his hands behind his back and he looked now and then at his watch,
because Jorg and the princess had not finished talking with one another. Finally he went over
to them and said: "Come now, that is enough! You have a long way home, Dreamjorg, and I
cannot put you up for the night, for I have no beds, because the dreams do not sleep but have
to go down to the people on earth at night. And you, Princess, you have to get ready. Put on
your red dress and then come to me so I can tell you whom you must visit tonight and what
you have to say."
When Jorg heard that he became bolder than he had ever been in his life. He got up and said
with determination: "Your Majesty, I am never going to let go of my princess. Either you must
keep me down here or you must let her be with me on earth. I cannot live without her. I have
so much love to give her. Then a tears welled up in both of his eyes, tears as big as a hazel
"But Jorg, Jorg," replied the king, "she is the most wonderful dream I have! Yes, you were the
one who saved my life, so I will let you have it. Take your princess and go up to earth with her.
When you get there take off her silver veil and throw it down to me through the hatch. Then
your princess will turn into a human being, with skin and bones, and be like the people you
know. But for now she is only a dream!"
Jorg thanked the king heartily saying: "Dear King, because you are so good, I will dare to ask
of you one more thing. You see, now that I have a princess I will need a kingdom. A princess
without a kingdom is impossible. Could you do that for me, even if it is a very small kingdom?"
To that the king answered: "Jorg, I am not able to give you a kingdom that you can see, but I
do have an invisible one. Such a one I will give you, and it will be the biggest and most
magnificent one I have."
Then Jorg asked what an invisible kingdom would be like, but the king explained that he would
find all that out later and he would be awed at how beautiful and magnificent an invisible
"With an ordinary, visible kingdom", he said, it is really a very unpleasant matter. For example:
if you are king in an ordinary kingdom a minister might come to your bed in the morning and
say: 'Your Majesty, I need a thousand thalers for the royal business.' Then you might go to the
treasury and not find a single thaler there! What would you do then? Or another example: you
might be waging a war and be defeated, and the other king might want to marry your princess
and he would lock you up in a tower. Things like that cannot happen in an invisible kingdom!"
"But if we do not see it, of what use can our kingdom be?" asked Dreamjorg, still somewhat
"You strange fellow," said the king and held his finger up to his forehead, "you and your
princess, your eyes are open already. You see the castles and gardens, the meadows and
woods that belong to the kingdom! You live there, you go for walks there and can do everything
you wish with it. But the other people are unable to see that."
Then Jorg was overjoyed for he feared that the people in the village would ignore him if he
came home as and was a king now and had a princess. With heartfelt words he took leave of
King of Dreams, went up five hundred steps with the princess, took the silver veil off her face
and threw it back down. Then he wanted to close the hatch but it was very heavy. He could not
hold it and let it fall. There was an enormous bang and for a moment he did not know where he
was. When he regained consciousness he was sitting in front of his house on an old millstone
beside the princess. She was a person made of flesh and bones just like all the other people.
She was holding his hand, and patting it she said: "You dear, good soul, it has taken you a
long time to put your trust in me and tell me that you loved me! Could it be that you were just
afraid of me?"—
And the moon came up and threw its light on the river. The waves lapped against the shore
and the trees rustled in the woods. They sat there for a long time and went on talking. Then
suddenly it seemed as if a small black cloud appeared in front of the moon and all at once
something like a large folded cloth landed at their feet. Then the moon shone again with all its
brightness. They picked up the cloth and spread it out. But it was very fine material and it was
folded many times so it took a long while to open it. When they had unfolded it completely it
looked like an enormous map. In the middle there was a line representing a river and on both
sides there were towns, woods and lakes. They understood then that it represented the
kingdom that the good King of Dreams had let fall down from heaven. And when they looked at
their little house it became a wonderful castle with glass stairways, walls of marble, wallpaper
of silk and pointed towers with blue tile roofs. Hand in hand they went into the castle and as
they entered they found the servants assembled who bowed down before them. Drums and
trumpets sounded and pages escorted them on their way and threw flowers in their path. Now
they were king and queen. ——
Next morning the news spread like wildfire that Dreamjorg was back and that he had brought
his wife with him. "She is perfect for him," they said. "I saw her this morning on my way to the
woods," said one of the townsfolk. She was standing at the doorway with him. She is nothing
special, just another simple girl, small and chubby. She was dressed in simple clothes. How
could she afford them! He has nothing, and she is probably a poor girl.
That is how the townsfolk spoke, the ignorant people, because they could not see that she was
a princess. And in their simplicity they also failed to notice that the cottage had changed into a
large, wonderful castle, for it was an invisible kingdom that had fallen down from heaven. For
that reason Jorg did not worry about what the people were thinking but went on living happily
in his kingdom with his beloved princess. And they had six children, one cuter than the other.
All were princes and princesses. But the people in the village knew that because they were
much too simple-minded to understand.—
|About the Invisible Kingdom
Richard von Volkmann-Leander
Illustrations: Hans von Volkmann
|Reveries at French Firesides