Opera Stories from Wagner
By Florence Akin
Public Domain Books
Wotan and Loki swung themselves over the ledge and slid down into the murky cave where Alberich lived.
Wotan looked around and said:–
“So this is the Kingdom of the Nibelungs! What an awful place it is!”
From far down the passages came the sound of hundreds of slaves melting and welding precious metals for their master.
“Loki,” said Wotan, “I believe it is always dark and gloomy where there is no love. What is that strange cry I hear?”
“Ho, Mimi, is that you?” said Loki.
“Leave me alone!” cried Mimi.
“Then tell me what you are crying about?”
“Oh,” replied Mimi, “that wretched Alberich, with his ring of gold, has made us all his slaves! With it he drives us down into the earth to dig more gold. What we get is all his. We slave for him both day and night.
“This curse of gold has filled our cavern with despair. Lately he made me forge a wishing-cap for him. With it he makes himself so none can see him. Now we slaves can never rest. Sh! sh! He is coming now!”
Wotan and Loki, peering through the darkness, could see him now and then as he passed under the light of a flaring torch.
He was driving a swarm of bent black slaves who were carrying great packs of gold and silver and precious ore upon their backs.
The helmet was hanging at his waist.
In his hand he was swinging a whip and the giants could hear him yelling:–
“Pile up the gold! Hurry! Hurry, you lazy rogues!”