By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Tales and Legends of the Tyrol
Author: Günther, A. von
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales and Legends of the Tyrol" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

from images generously made available by The Internet
Archive (http://archive.org/).













To those who dare the unfrequented mountain paths and passes of the
Tyrol, in search of all that is wonderful and grand, this work is
respectfully dedicated by



The Tyrol, the land of glory and tradition, the wonder-garden of the
world, so often visited but so little known, forms the theme of the
following volume; and in dedicating it to the public the authoress
feels certain of a fair share of their approval, perhaps, even, of
their thanks; for many are the dangers which have been incurred in its
production, and many are the days of weary walks and severe trials that
it has cost.

There are no railroads in the mountains, and even cart-tracks are “few
and far between,” and those who wish to see the almost hidden beauty,
must, in passing through this enchanted land, undergo all the authoress
has undergone, and share with her the pleasure as well as the pain.

All that is grand and beautiful, all that is gorgeous and sublime, all
that is shocking and terrible, is to be met with at every step in the
Tyrol; and the following legends are but a poor illustration of the old
proverb, “There are finer fish in the sea than ever came out of it.”

The strange dialect of the inhabitants of this curious country,
renders it almost impossible for any foreigner unacquainted with
their language to understand what they would so willingly recount;
and, in consequence, thousands and thousands of sight-seers yearly
pass through, perfectly at a loss how to gratify their curiosity,
except in the natural grandeur and beauty of the mountain world. The
authoress has often noticed large parties of English and foreign
visitors wandering aimlessly through a valley, round a ruin, or on the
borders of a lake, whose history they have vainly tried to discover;
for however willing the poor honest peasants are to explain all their
visitors would wish to know, yet their kindly efforts are of course
unavailing, and these foreigners go away back to their own countries,
having passed over, and perhaps seen _all_, without knowing anything.

This little work, then, written first for the pleasure of its
authoress, she now places in the hands of the public, trusting that
it may not only be a useful guide, but a pleasant companion in the
mountains in which it took its origin.

  How lovely the land of those beauties unseen,
    Which touch on the borders of Nature’s fair soul!
  How bright are those landscapes, so soft and serene,
    Which kiss the sweet homesteads of my own dear Tyrol!



  The Giant Jordan                                      1

  The Fisherman of the Graun-See                        9

  The Giants Heimo and Thürse                          11

  The Dragon of Zirl                                   15

  The Wandering Stone                                  17

  A Tyrolian Forester’s Legend                         19

  The Perjurer                                         26

  The Burning Hand                                     27

  The Three Fairies of the Ungarkopf                   31

  The Green Huntsman                                   35

  The Tyrolian Giants of Albach                        37

  The Witch’s Vengeance                                44

  The Pious Herdsman                                   46

  The Adasbub                                          49

  The White Snake                                      52

  The Schachtgeist                                     54

  The Three Brothers                                   58

  The Fiery Body                                       60

  The Venediger-Manndl upon the Sonnenwendjoch         62

  Hahnenkikerle                                        65

  The Sorcerer of Sistrans                             67

  The Giant Serles                                     70

  Legends of the Orco                                  73

  Biener’s Wife                                        80

  The Lengmoos Witches                                 84

  Binder-Hansl                                         87

  The Gold-Worm of the Alpbach Valley                  89

  The Glunkezer Giant                                  90

  The Weaver of Vomperberg                             93

  The Fiery Sennin                                     95

  The Spirit of the Zirl Usurer                        97

  The Alpine Horse-Phantom                             99

  The Witches of G’Stoag                              101

  The Hexeler                                         104

  The Cat-Hags of Gries                               106

  The Locksmith of the Fliegeralm                     109

  The Salve-Toad                                      111

  The Unholdenhof                                     113

  The Fiery Boar of Kohlerstadl                       117

  The Butcher of Imst                                 119

  Matz-Lauter, the Sorcerer of Brixen                 121

  The Mountain Ghost of the Vivanna                   124

  The Oberleitner of Terenten                         126

  The Tailor of the Zirockalm                         128

  The Three Sisters of Frastanz                       131

  The Rose Garden of King Laurin                      133

  The Petrified Lovers of Kramsach                    136

  The Gold-Seeker of the Tendres Farm                 137

  The Fairy of the Sonnenwendjoch                     140

  The Fireman Pigerpütz                               144

  The Piller-See                                      146

  The Burning Pines                                   148

  The Jaufen-Fairy                                    149

  The Wetter-See                                      152

  The Courageous Servant-Girl of the Zotta Farm       154

  The Klausenmann on the Kummer-See                   158

  The Village on the Boden-Alp                        160

  The Gold-Measurers of Lofer                         163

  The Antholzer-See                                   165

  The Mailed Ghost of Brixen Castle                   166

  The Treasure of the Sigmundsburg                    168

  The Fratricide upon the Hochalp                     169

  The Two Haystacks                                   172

  The Sunken Forests                                  174

  Tannen-Eh’                                          176

  The Devil’s Bridge                                  179

  Lago Santo                                          181

  The Alber                                           184

  The Old Town of Flies                               186

  The Senderser Putz                                  188

  The Dace Fish of the Gerlos-See                     191

  The Vedretta Marmolata                              192

  The Teufelsplatte near Galthür                      194

  Frau Hütt                                           197

  The Treasure of Maultasch                           199

  The Nine-pin Game of Margaretha Maultasch           201

  The Devil’s Hole on the Kuntersweg                  203

  The Sunken Castle in the Biburg-See                 206

  The Witches’ Walk on the Kreuzjoch                  208

  The Treasures                                       210

  Wolkenstein                                         213

  The Ghosts of the Castle of Völlenberg              215

  The Fräulein von Maretsch                           217





To the east of the Ungarkopf, and high above the cavern called
Eggerskeller, there stands, close to a dizzy chasm in the rocks, the
Kohlhütte (coal hut), which is surrounded by steep grey mountain walls.
Not long since there resided in this hut a wild man, with his wife
Fangga. Jordan, for this was the name of the giant, employed himself
in stealing children and beasts which he devoured, and he occupied his
time also in hunting the poor fairies, whom he caught and killed, or
shut up in underground prisons.

One day he brought home a fairy, most probably one of those which
resided in the Eggerskeller, and who was already more dead than alive.
He threw her down at the feet of his wife, and was on the point of
killing her, but Fangga said, “Let the thing live; it will be of use to

“So,” growled the monster; “what can you do with her?”

“I should like to have her in the hut to make her work,” answered his
gigantic wife.

“Take then the thing,” shouted the giant; “the white cat to the black
one!” for the giant couple had in their hut a huge black cat which the
giant had made a present to his wife in a similar manner after having
caught it in the mountains.

The poor fairy now bore the yoke of servitude, under the giant couple,
who called her Hitte Hatte. She was obliged to wear servant’s clothes
and do servant’s drudgery, which she did so cleverly and quickly that
Fangga was contented with her, and treated her as kindly as it was
in her brutal nature to do. Hitte Hatte was kind to the cat, fed her
regularly, let her sleep in her own bed, and got altogether fond of
her. Although she had now taken entirely the nature of a human being,
she constantly longed to be free of the giants, and one day she took
the occasion while Jordan was out and Fangga sleeping, to slip down
into the valley and to seek her fortune amongst mankind. The cat, as
though she knew the intention of her friend, followed her every step of
the way, and so it happened that one evening a pretty girl, followed by
a huge black cat, entered the farm of Seehaus, which is close to the
village of Strad, in the Gurgl valley, and offered her services. The
farm people, whose name was Krapf, a very good and worthy couple, were
not very well off just then, as they had suffered some heavy losses,
and therefore at that time did not keep many servants. So they engaged
the pretty girl for very small wages, without even asking her who
she was or from whence she came. She did her work joyfully and well,
and with her blessings entered Seehaus; it was a pleasure to see how
beautifully Hitte Hatte, for this name she had kept up, managed and
arranged everything. The cleverest old peasant woman would never have
been able to do so well as she did. She went about her work quietly,
spoke little, and never anything without purpose; was always modest
and reserved, and the people of the farm left her to go on in her
quiet way just as she liked. Her greatest pet was and remained the cat,
which was also very useful in keeping the house and buildings clear of
rats and mice. Hitte Hatte only knew one fear, and that was the giant,
who on account of her flight had made a most fearful noise, and beaten
his wife without mercy; but in the valley he could not touch her, for
the village boundaries were every year blessed by the priest, and there
were all round about little crosses and chapels, of which the gigantic
race of pagans had the greatest terror.

While Hitte Hatte was still in Seehaus Farm, two boys of Strad had
climbed up the Ungarkopf to gather strawberries, and approached by
accident the giant’s abode. As the evening shadows began to fall the
boys got tired and hungry, and were about to return home, when they saw
blue smoke arising quite close to them, which ascended out of Jordan’s
Kohlhütte, and one of the boys shouted to the other, “Look at the
smoke! there, I am sure they are making cakes; let us go and see if we
can’t get some.”

They soon arrived at the door of the hut, which was carefully closed,
so one of them scrambled up on the roof, removed one of the wooden
tiles and peeped down below. Fangga, who was busy at her kitchen, heard
him in a moment, and called out, “Who is up there on my roof?”

The boy answered, “It is I with my good companion. We are hungry, and
pray you kindly to give us something to eat.”

Fangga opened the door and called out, “Come in, my boys, and you shall
have something, but be quick and creep into this hole (she pointed out
the stove), and keep very quiet there, for the ‘wild man’ is coming
very soon, and if he catches sight of you he will eat you bones and

On hearing this the boys were terrified out of their wits, and crept
into the stove, and directly afterwards the giant entered the hut, and
sniffing round with hideous rolling eyes, he shouted to his wife, “I
smell, I smell human meat!”

But Fangga, who had not been educated in an Innsbruck school, answered
him very sharply, “You smell, you smell the devil!”

Then the giant gave such a tremendous snort that the whole hut trembled
as though it had been shaken by the wind, and the boys terrified
lest the stove should fall and kill them, jumped out of it. As Jordan
caught sight of them his rage grew still more horrible; he overloaded
Fangga with imprecations and abuse, shut the boys up in a cupboard and
took the keys with him while he ran off to catch a lost goat of whose
bell he just caught the sound. The poor boys now began to scream and
implore, and at last Fangga, cruel and hard as she was, was touched
with pity, and consented to release them. But as she had not the key of
the cupboard, she kicked at the door till it flew open, let the boys
out, and told them the best means of making their escape, and away they
went as fast as ever their legs would carry them.

They had not gone long when the wild man returned home, but without
his goat, which had also escaped him, so he vowed now to kill the
boys; but as the cupboard was empty and he could nowhere find them, he
thundered new imprecations at Fangga, who however took no notice of
them. The savage monster then seized his boarskin mantle, and set off
in pursuit of them. He arrived at last on the edge of a wild roaring
mountain-torrent, on the other side of which he caught sight of them,
and he called out in the sweetest and softest voice he could command,
“Tell me, dear boys, how you got over the river!”

“Ho! wild man,” shouted the boys, “go up the river, and further on you
will find the plank over which we crossed.”

Jordan now tore along the banks of the river for miles and miles,
about as far as from Nassereit to Siegmundsberg, where he found a weak
bending board upon which he stepped, and plump down went the monster
into the wild foaming water, in which he had to struggle for a long
time ere he succeeded in reaching the opposite bank. Meanwhile the boys
had got far in advance; but the giant ran as fast as he could, and soon
caught sight of them again on the other side of a large lake which he
did not know how to get over, as he had no idea of swimming, and wade
through he dared not, as he did not know how deep it might be, and
there was no boat either large enough to carry him over. Therefore he
shouted again to the boys in a flattering tone, “Dear boys, tell me
how you got over the lake!”

The boys answered, “We have tied large stones round our necks, upon
which we have swum across.”

So he took a heavy rock and tied it firmly round his neck, jumped into
the water, and was immediately drowned. So the boys escaped, and people
say Fangga did not die of grief over the loss of her savage husband.

A few days afterwards Lorenz Mayrhofer, a friend of the farmer of
Seehaus, returning from the market of Imst where he had sold a team of
oxen, and carrying the yokes on his shoulders, stopped at Krapf’s house
on his way home, and over a glass of Tyrolian wine with which Hitte
Hatte had herself served him, he said to his friend, “One sees most
wonderful things in these times. After leaving the Döllinger Hof on my
way here, a voice called out to me from the heights of the mountain,
‘Carrier of the yokes, tell Hitte Hatte that she can now go home, for
Jordan is dead.’”

The farmer and his wife looked at one another and then at Hitte Hatte,
who, hearing the news, set down the ladle which she was holding, and
said, “If Jordan is dead, then I am happy again. Take great care of
the hairy house-worm. I thank you much for your kindness to me, and
wish you all luck with your farm. If you had asked me more I should
have told you more,” and in saying so she passed out of the door, and
has never again been seen.

The farmer, his wife, and friend were struck dumb with astonishment,
and could not divine the girl’s meaning. Under the “hairy house-worm,”
she had meant the cat. “What a pity it is,” still now say the peasants
of Strad, “that the Seehaus farmer never asked more of the fairy, for
if he had done so we should know more.”


In following the valley of Etsch, and after leaving the village of
Haid, the traveller arrives first at the lake called Haider-See, and
then in about an hour’s walking on the borders of the Graun-See,
above which on the side of the mountain, lies, in a most picturesque
situation, the little hamlet of Graun. There every garrulous old woman
or little village child can tell him how often when evening sets in the
fairies have been seen floating like flickering candles round the lofty
peak above, or heard singing sweetly on calm moonlight nights before
the entrance to their caves. This spot on the mountain bears to the
present day the name of Zur Salig (to the holy ones).

On a beautiful autumn evening some forty years ago, a fisherman in
his little barque was setting his nets in the See. The night was mild
and beautiful, and the air so clear and pure that he could distinctly
hear the sheep-bells on the surrounding mountains, and the Angelus as
it rang from the hamlets of Reschen, Graun, Haid, even as far as the
distant village of Burgeis; and the sound of the bells of the monastery
of Sancta Maria, which lies above it, came wafting solemnly and softly
over the water. The moon rose slowly in silent majesty above the
surrounding mountains, lighting up every distant peak, and turning the
lake into a bed of liquid silver, and as the distant song of the Holy
Fräulein struck the ear of the poor fisherman, he abandoned his nets
and listened entranced.

The moonlight faded slowly away, and the darkness of night set in, yet
still he remained motionless in his boat, dreaming of the angel’s song
he had heard from Heaven. Morning broke, and still he sat there with
his hand on the rudder, and his eyes riveted on the abode of the Holy
Ones. His comrades came and called him, but he did not answer; they
went to him and found him dead. He lies buried in the little churchyard
of Graun, and every villager can point out his grave.


Out of the Neustädter-Thor of Innsbruck leads the Brenner-Strasse,
close by the beautiful and rich Abbey of the Premontaries Wilten,
called also Wiltau. On each side of the principal façade of the
magnificent church of this ancient cloister are still to be seen the
enormous stone statues of two giants who bear the names of Heimo and
Thürse. Both giants belong to that age in which their huge race first
began to conform their rough nature to the ideas of civilization, when
Christianity entered into the then impenetrable valleys of the Tyrol.

One of these enormous mountain giants of the country was called Heime
or Heimo, who was so tall that he was obliged to raise the roof of his
house so that he could stand upright in it, and of the most cruel and
savage nature. The inhabitants of the surrounding country dreaded him
beyond measure, and begged him to spare their farms and homesteads,
offering to cede to him as much of their ground as he liked to decide
upon, and then, should he ask it all, they would retreat and cultivate
other parts of the country. In answer to this proposition, Heimo
yelled, while pointing out an enormous rock, “As far as I run with that
stone upon my shoulders so far is the ground my own.” And saying so, he
seized the rock, walked up the little river Sill, turned on the left to
the Patscherkofl, went down through Igels and round Wilten, and after
having arrived again at the point from which he had started, he threw
the stone with enormous force westward. Then he began to build himself
at the outlet of the Sill valley, opposite the river Inn, an enormous
stronghold, for which he carried up huge rocks from the mountain clefts.

At that time there lived in the same valley another giant who was still
taller and stronger than Heimo, and he had his abode high over Zirl,
behind the jagged, bare, and steep peak of Solstein, upon the plateau
of Seefeld, which he was the first to cultivate, and where now stands
the hamlet of Tyrschenbach. Thürse, this was the name of this giant,
hated Heimo, and took pleasure in always secretly destroying his newly
commenced building; and when Heimo discovered who caused him all this
damage, his gigantic fury awaked in him, and he went to attack Thürse,
clad in light armour, and carrying an enormous sword. Thürse hearing
the approach of Heimo, seized a ponderous beam, and then commenced such
a terrible fight that the earth trembled, and rocks as huge as a tower
detached themselves from the Solstein, and rolled down into the valley
below. Blows fell as thick as hail, and at last the better armed Heimo
was victor, for the savage Thürse succumbed to his enemy.

Just at that period (it was about the middle of the ninth century) a
monk was preaching Christianity in the valleys of the Sill, whom Heimo
also went to hear, and he felt sorry and repented having slain Thürse.
He became a Christian, and was baptized by the Bishop of Chur. Then
after having built the existing bridge over the Inn, from which the
city of Innsbruck has taken its name, he renounced worldly life, and
instead of finishing his stronghold, he built a monastery which is the
still standing Wiltau or Wildenau, commonly called Wilten.

This was a terrible disappointment to the devil, who sent a huge
dragon, of which there were already at that time a great many in the
Tyrol, to stop the building of the monastery; but Heimo attacked the
dragon, killed him and cut out his tongue. With this huge tongue in
his hand he is represented in his statue; and the tongue, which is a
yard and a half long, has been preserved in the cloister up to the
present day. Heimo became a monk at Wilten, lived a pious life, and on
his death was buried in the grounds of the monastery. The stone coffin
in which his gigantic bones repose is still to be seen there, and it
measures twenty-eight feet three inches. Upon the coffin used to be his
statue carved in wood, which has since decayed, but there is still
hanging above it an ancient granite slab on which is recounted his


Close to the bridge of Zirl, on the route to Inzing, in the Tyrol, lies
the famous Dragon Meadow. The men of Inzing and Zirl remember still
very well that when they were boys, an enormous thick long worm was
washed by the swollen river Wildbach out of a cavern which stood on its
banks, and which was called Hundstall. In this cavern the monster had
resided for centuries, and had done endless damage in the surrounding
country to both man and beast; he was generally called the dragon,
and he killed and devoured all living creatures that ventured in his

Through the cavern in the summer time flows a little stream which in
the winter is almost quite dry, and so it was too at that time; but
still it was strong enough to sweep the monster out, for when in the
spring the warm weather suddenly arrived, the little stream became,
from the melting snow, a roaring torrent, which undermined the rocky
cavern of the dragon in the Hundstall, and swept out huge pieces of
rock together with the monster himself, inundated the meadow, and left
everything together on the spot which has been called ever since the
Dragon Meadow. Even now the breach made in the mountain by the torrent
is to be seen.

The brute was a gigantic snake with the head of a dragon, two large
ears, and hideous fierce fiery eyes. He was half dead when washed out
of his hole, but in spite of that he was seen writhing his huge body
about among the rocks. Nobody dare approach him, so they shot him from
a distance with cannons. “He was a lindworm,” said the old mountaineer
Mader of Zirl, who has hunted there for more than sixty years, and
who has faithfully preserved this history. And as something to be
especially remembered, he added, “the half-dead lindworm had gasped so
fearfully that it had been terrifying to see and listen to him, even
from a distance.” “One could not tell either,” he said, “whether he was
not spitting venom,” for even now not an atom of green will grow on the
meadow where he died.


In the Zillerthal, about half an hour’s walk from the little village of
Fügen, in a small valley on the right-hand side of the entrance to the
vast forest of Benkerwald, lies a piece of rock some two cubic feet in
measure, bearing on its top side a rude cross chiselled in the stone.
The rock is noted all over the country, for each time it is removed
from its resting-place by some supernatural agency, it returns again
to the same spot. Why it wanders in this strange manner nobody knows,
but why it stands there is known to every little village child in the
surrounding country.

At the end of the last century two peasant women of Fügen were engaged
by the day in cutting corn at the adjacent farm of Wieseck, on the
Pancraz mountain. The farmer, anxious to get in his corn while the
fine weather lasted, promised to increase their wages if they hastened
on with their work. At this promise both the girls redoubled their
efforts, but at the end of the week instead of paying them alike, the
farmer in augmentation of their wages gave to one of them two loaves of
bread, while to the other he gave but one. On their way home close to
Fügen, and on the spot where now lies the stone, the two women began
to quarrel about the bread, and at last the dispute grew so hot that
they fell to fight with their sickles, and, like tigresses, the sight
of blood seemed only to increase their ferocity; and what seems to
be incredible, but which is nevertheless perfectly true, they fought
until they both fell down and bled to death on the spot. Here they were
buried, and over them was placed the stone which still remains there,
but none of the villagers will pass that way after nightfall.

There are numberless people who have convinced themselves of the
wonderful property of the ‘Wandelstein,’ and many are the warnings
given by the country folk to travellers who seek to pass there after
the sun has set.


One day a poor woman of Lengenfeld, in the Oetz valley in the Tyrol,
went up the mountains to meet her husband, who was guarding a flock of
goats there. On her way she passed by a chapel into which she entered,
and while she was praying a Lämmer vulture swooped down and carried off
in his claws her little son, who was amusing himself outside on the
moss. But Heaven ordained that the vulture should settle with his prey
on a peak which was quite close to the goat-herd, who frightened him
off with stones, and so, without knowing it, he became the preserver of
his own child, whom he had not seen since the spring. Now it happened
that three good fairies who resided in the neighbourhood of the
Oetz-Thal, beneath an enormous mountain peak called the Morin, had been
invisibly active in the saving of the goat-herd’s boy.

The boy grew up and always bore in his mind an attraction to the
highest peaks of the mountains; he became a hardy Alpine climber and
clever mountain shot, and as such a secret impulse ever pushed him
to the heights above Morin, for there--so said the legend--was the
Paradise of animals; there were herds of gazelles and stone-bucks, and
no huntsman had ever succeeded in approaching them. But the fool-hardy
boy wished to try his luck, and commenced his wanderings, which ended
by his getting lost, and being in danger of his life. One day he didn’t
know where he was, and from the ice-covered peak which reaches into the
clouds over ten thousand feet high, he slipped down upon a green Alp
which he had been unable to see from above, and in that fall he lost
his senses.

As he came again to himself he was lying on a beautiful bed in the
crystal cave of the three fairies, who had saved him for the second
time. They stood round him shining with heavenly benevolence, and love,
and their look awakened in him the sweetest sensations. He remained now
a well-cared-for guest of the fairies, was allowed to look at their
beautiful abode, their gardens, and their pets; he was told that his
amiable hostesses were the protecting genii of all Alpine animals, and
they made him promise never to kill or to hurt one of those innocent
creatures,--no gazelle, no Alpine hare, no snow-hen, not even a weasel.
He was allowed to remain with them three days, and had permission to
worship and adore them. But then he was obliged to promise three things
faithfully and on his soul’s salvation, if ever he wanted to return to
them, or, in case he never cared to do so, if ever he wished to live
happily down in the valley. Firstly, he was bound to observe a silence
as deep as the grave that he had ever seen the three fairies or been in
their presence; secondly, they made him swear the promise which he had
already given, never to do any harm to any Alpine animal; and thirdly,
never to let human eye see the way which they were going to show him,
and through which he might be the more easily able to return to their
abode. A fourth promise they left to his honour, without binding him
down by oath or vow, and that was to preserve the love which he had
shown to them, and never to have anything to do in any way with any
other girl. Then, after a tender parting, the son of the Alps was
taken into a steep mountain gully which led down to the valley of the
rushing Achen, which tears along under bowers of Alpine rose-bushes.
After these injunctions, the fairies told him that on every full-moon
night he was allowed to pay them a visit of three days’ duration, and
that he had only to enter through that gully, and give below a certain
sign with which they acquainted him.

The boy returned home completely altered; it seemed as though he was
dreaming, and soon enough from every one he gained the name of the
‘dreamer;’ for henceforth he never took an Alpine stock in his hand,
never went hunting, and never to a village dance, but every full-moon
night he stole quietly to the chasm in the rock, deep beneath the
Morin, entered into the interior of the mountain, and was for three
days happy with the fairies, to whose wondrous songs he listened
entranced. At home his form shrank, he became pale and emaciated, and
it was in vain that his parents and friends pressed him to tell what
was the matter with him. “Nothing at all,” he always answered to these
questions; “I am as happy as I can be.”

As his father and mother had become aware of his secret strolls on
the full-moon nights, they followed him once quietly, and close at the
entrance of the chasm his ear was struck by his mother’s voice, who
called his name, and at the same moment the rocks shut together before
his eyes, and the mountains crashed down with the noise of thunder, so
that rocks fell down upon rocks. The poor boy’s happiness was gone for
ever. Troubled and abstracted, he returned to his native village; he
cared neither for his mother’s tears nor his father’s reproaches, and
remained apathetic and indifferent to everything; and so he faded away
until autumn arrived, until the herds were driven down into the winter
stables of the village, and the beautiful summer life of the mountain
world died and was covered with snow.

Then one day two friends of the goat-herd arrived, and talked of a
hunting excursion which they intended to make on the top of the Morin;
and then for the first time again the eyes of the pale young Alpine
hunter became bright, the irresistible love of hunting awakened again
in him,--perhaps, too, there was some greater attraction. He longed to
penetrate once more into the dominion of the fairies be it even at the
risk of his life. As to life, he no longer valued it, and death was a

The infatuated youth prepared his hunting things, borrowed an Alpine
stock, for his own had been left behind broken in his fall from the
peak of the Morin, and then he joined the hunting excursion which
started in early morning. First he walked with them, then he hurried
before higher and higher, as though he was attracted by the most
irresistible power. His heart grew light as he ascended, for too long
the heavy air of the narrow valley had oppressed him. He climbed as
quickly as though he had eaten arsenic, that fearful poison which
many an Alpine climber takes in the smallest quantities to make
himself lighter, and at last he caught sight of a sentry gazelle,
which whistled and disappeared behind the peak upon which it had been
standing. The young Alpine hunter climbed to the top of the peak, from
whence he saw down below him a little green spot, upon which were
browsing, though far beyond his reach, a large herd of gazelles. Only
one of them came within range, and this one he pursued pitilessly,
until the poor animal in her anxiety and terror was unable to proceed
further, and stopped on the edge of a precipice, which the huntsman
in his excitement had never noticed. He levelled his rifle--the
plaintive cry of a female voice resounded in his ears, but he paid no
heed to it,--he took deadly aim and fired. Lo! at that moment he was
surrounded by a halo of brightness, and in the midst of that brilliant
light stood the gazelle unhurt, and before her floated the three
fairies in dazzling splendour, but with severe and angry countenances.
They approached him, but on seeing their faces without one smile or
look of love upon them, the boy was seized with a deep horror. He
staggered,--one step more, and backwards he fell down the precipice a
thousand feet deep; and from the edge, where in falling his feet had
stood, pieces of stone rolled down, and a tremendous wall of rock tore
down after him with a fearful roar, and buried him for ever beneath its

There still stands the rock, which is pointed out, even to this day as
‘The Huntsman’s Grave.’


On the Kummersee, which is also called Hindersee, in the Tyrol, the
parish of Schönna possesses two beautiful mountains which they had
only hired in former times from the villagers of Passeir. But at last
the inhabitants of Schönna affirmed that they were their own property,
and therefore commenced a law-suit which was to be decided by oath.
A man of Schönna committed perjury, which he thought to do safely in
the following manner. He stuck in his hat a ladle called in the Tyrol
schöpfer, which is also the German word for Creator, and put in his
shoes some earth out of his own field. So he appeared on the Alp before
the judges and swore: “As truly as I have the Schöpfer above me and my
own earth beneath me, the two Alps belong to Schönna.” In consequence
of that oath they were awarded to the villagers of Schönna by the

But at the same moment the devil flew down the precipices, seized the
perjurer by his neck, and dragged him straight off to hell, leaving
behind him as he rushed through the air a dreadful smell of sulphur
and a train of fire. With his prey he beat an enormous hole through
the Weisse Wand, a huge mountain close to the Kummersee, which hole is
still to be seen up to the present day as a warning. From thence he
flew over the Christl Alp down to the village of St. Martin, where he
rested himself upon a stone, and then dragged the body through the mud
of the village streets, and as he passed, the devil is said to have
grunted, “For there is nothing so weighty as a perjurer’s body.”


In the village of Thaur, near Salzburg, there lived about two centuries
ago a good priest, who occupied his time in doing charitable works to
all around. In the ruins of the once huge and superb castle of Thaur a
hermit had founded his humble little cell, and both priest and hermit
were the most intimate of friends, and had vowed to each other that he
who should die the first, should appear to the other after death.

The poor hermit was very clever in making artificial flowers for the
altar, and one night when busy with his work a knock came to his little
window, and he saw the spirit of his friend who had died a few days
before. At first he was greatly terrified, but pricking up his courage,
he addressed the poor soul of the priest, who replied to him and said,

“You see I am dead in the body, but I have still to do penance,
although I have faithfully fulfilled the commands of God and the Holy
Church, have given alms according to my means, have instituted a
perpetual mass in the church of Thaur, and another in the chapel of St.
Romedius, and founded an everlasting fund for the poor. For three sins
have I this penance to perform, one of omission and two of vanity; out
of absence of mind I forgot to say a mass for which I had been paid,
and I have been too vain of my fine white hands and beautiful flowing
beard, and for this reason am I now compelled to suffer these torments.
I pray you therefore to say in my stead the neglected mass,” and the
unhappy spirit of the priest recounted to the hermit the names of all
those people for whom the mass was to be said, “Then, if out of charity
to me you will fast, pray, and flagellate yourself, and help me in
that way to do my penance, the time of my redemption will arrive much
sooner, as if I had completed them all myself. It will also be a work
of conciliation for me, if you will tell all I have just told you to my
parishioners, so that they and my successors may take a warning from
me, and think of me in their prayers.”

The hermit answered, “I will most willingly fulfil all you ask of me
and take upon myself every penance you desire; but if I tell all these
things to your parishioners they will never believe me, and will jeer
at me and say like the brothers of Joseph, ‘Here comes the dreamer.’”

“Well, then, I will give you a sign of proof which will back up your
words,” answered the poor spirit to the priest; “Give me something out.”

The hermit then handed out the cover of a flower-box, upon which the
shadow laid his hand, and returned it instantly to him; and lo! to his
astonishment he found, deeply branded upon it, the imprint of the hand
of the priest as though it had been done by a red-hot iron.

After this the hermit zealously commenced the charitable work of
redeeming the soul of his faithful friend, and continued it many a
month in saying masses, repeating prayers, and subjecting himself to
the most severe flagellations, whilst from time to time the troubled
spirit of the poor priest appeared to him in bodily form, but always
lighter and more brilliant than before. The pious hermit almost
succumbed under the dreadful effects of his severe penances, which he
still carried on for more than a year, when the night of All Saints
arrived, and again the poor soul of his friend appeared before him,
now no longer poor, but in the splendour of transfiguration, and said,
“I thank you, good friend. I am now redeemed; you too shall soon be
released from your earthly bondage, and will return to God penanceless.
I shall attend you there where there are no more sufferings,” and in
saying so he disappeared in the midst of a halo of glory.

Seven days afterwards the hermit died; and now in the charming little
pilgrims’ chapel of the holy Romedius, near Thaur, is to be seen,
framed beneath a glass case, the wooden board bearing the brand of the
burning hand, and with the duly attested inscription dated from 1679;
also the bust of the priest with the beautiful hands and flowing beard.

The imprint of the Burning Hand took place on the 27th October, 1659,
at midnight.


Between the village of Imst and the railway station of Nassereit lies
the Gurgl Thal (Gurgl valley), through which runs the little stream of
the Pilgerbach. On the way from Imst to Nassereit stands the little
hamlet of Strad, and on making the ascent from this hamlet up the
Ungar mountain, or Ungarkopf, one arrives after an hour’s walk at a
vaulted grotto, which is the entrance to a vast cellular cavern noted
in former times as the abode of three fairies, called by the villagers
‘die Heiligen’ (the Holy Ones). These fairies appeared from time to
time at the entrance to their grotto, bleaching linen and hanging out
snow-white clothes in the sun; they are said to have even come down as
low as Strad, and helped the village girls to spin, but people were
generally afraid of them, and they who saw the clothes hanging out in
the wind ran off in terror. In this grotto, which is generally called
the Eggerskeller, there is a small hole just large enough for a child
to creep through.

One day the cowherd of Strad went up the mountain to cut birch for
brooms, and as the lovely green before the grotto was just convenient
for his work, he sat down there, and stripping the leaves from the
branches, set about making his brooms. On the following day when he
returned to the same spot on the same business, he found to his great
astonishment that every little leaf had been swept away, and not a
vestige of one of them left. He sat down on a rock and began his
work, when all at once he heard from the interior of the mountain the
voices of three girls, which sounded so charmingly to his ears that he
was quite entranced. He listened and held his breath until the song
finished, and then he descended the mountain to the village in a state
of enchantment.

The cow-herd was soon afterwards on his favourite place, while his
herd, guarded by his faithful dogs, browsed around him; and again he
found the leaves he had left on the preceding day swept away; and as
he looked up he saw three white robes floating in the wind, but as he
could not see the cord upon which they ought to have been suspended,
he was seized with an unutterable terror, and hurried away from the
spot. “Had he only taken one of these dresses,” still now say the
superstitious people of Strad, “one of the Heiligen would have been
bound to his service for ever.”

Although the dresses had frightened the youth so much, an irresistible
longing compelled him a few days afterwards to climb once more the
Ungarkopf, where all at once one of the fairies appeared to him with
love and joy beaming on her countenance, but she did not approach him,
and it seemed rather as though she wished him to follow her, for she
looked smilingly behind, entered into the mountain and disappeared from
his gaze. He dared not follow her. Henceforth he listened only to their
enchanting songs, which resounded from the interior of the mountain,
and consumed himself in silent longing.

About fifteen years ago there lived in the village of Strad a peasant
of the name of Anton Tangl, who is now dead. One day this peasant went
up the mountain in the neighbourhood of the grotto, to dig up young
fir-trees, which he intended to place round his Alpine hut. While
digging up these trees, one of them was more firmly fixed in the ground
than the others, and he was obliged to go very deep to get the tree
up. When he lifted it out of the ground he discovered a deep hole, and
looking down he saw far below a green meadow, through which trickled
a milk-white rippling stream. At this the man was greatly astonished,
but still more so when upon the green meadow far beneath him he saw on
the grass, like little tiny dolls, the three fairies. They were sitting
close to one another, interlaced together by their arms, and singing
a sweet song whose air he could distinctly hear, without being able
to catch the words. Tangl listened until nightfall, when he could no
longer see into the interior of the mountain. Then he descended to the
village, and recounted what an extraordinary thing had befallen him.
But of course no one would believe, and therefore on the following
day several of his friends went with him up the Ungarkopf. Tangl went
on bravely before the others, and searched for the spot, but in vain;
and he was now compelled to suffer the ridicule of his companions, who
called him a fool, a liar, and a dreamer.

“If I had only held my tongue,” Tangl used to say when he recounted
this story, “and had entered into the mountains instead of telling
others what I had seen, I should have been able to bring many precious
things out of them, and should have been rich and happy all my life;
but man after all is but a stupid animal.”


In the village of St. Johann, in the lower part of the valley of the
Inn in the Tyrol, the following incident took place some fifty years

A girl who had been jilted by her lover refused to go to a wedding to
which she had been invited by her neighbours, and where there was to
be music and dancing. In her grief and despair she raged and noised
about at home, until the evil one in the form of a green huntsman
appeared before her, and invited her to the dance. Without reflecting
any longer she went with him to the wedding-feast, glad that her
unfaithful suitor should no longer enjoy his triumph. The huntsman
danced so fast and so well that all the guests admired him, for he sang
and was the most spirited among them all. But in spite of this, every
one shuddered when they looked at him, for his mien was like that of a
snake, sly and venomous. The girl, however, did not care at all about
it, and enjoyed herself all the evening.

On their way home the huntsman asked the girl if she would allow him to
serenade her on the following evening, to which she gave a most joyful
assent. On the following night, just as the church clock was striking
twelve, some one knocked at the girl’s bedroom window. She opened the
lattice to greet the huntsman, who now appeared before her in the
devil’s most hideous form. He seized upon her and dragged her fiercely
through the narrow iron bars which guarded it, so that pieces of skin
and flesh remained hanging on them, and the warm blood ran in streams
down the wall. He then flew off with the screaming girl through the air.

Up to the present day it has been impossible to wash or rub those blood
stains away, and any one who passes through the little village of St.
Johann, can see them for himself.


In a wild mountain valley in which only savage animals and reptiles
were to be found, and in which vast expanses of moss covered the swamps
so treacherously that even bears and wolves had been engulfed in them,
a huge giant arrived one day, looked at the surrounding country, and
chose it for his abode. He dug himself a cave, built drains through
which he sent off the superfluous water into the lower valleys; and as,
after having chopped down enormous expanses of forest, he found that
it had become quite to his taste, he set off in search of a wife. He
neither wished for a fairy nor a moonlight maid, and for that reason he
went upon the peaks of the mountains, from which he soon returned with
a giantess who was as strong and savage as himself, and who assisted
him dauntlessly in all his abominable works.

In three years they were obliged to considerably enlarge their
habitation, as their three young giant sons began to grow up; and when
these became strong enough, they helped their father to build a new
house. The old giant felled the trees on the Alp Mareit, which stands
about six miles from his former abode, and his sons dragged the trunks
to the building-spot. They were not then very strong, and could only
drag one tree each at a time, which, however, was no less than eight
feet in diameter. Only the youngest of the giant’s sons, whose name was
Bartl, sometimes dragged two at once, at which his father smiled with

To make his new residence like that of a civilized family, the giant
caught a few “flies,” as he called them, which were men and clever
carpenters, who were compelled to hew and shape the wood, in which work
the giant’s sons helped in turning the trees, as it would have been
impossible for the carpenters to do it themselves.

People call the swamp which the giant has drained the Rossmoos, and
to the giants they gave the name of the Rossmooser Riesen (Rossmoos
giants), while the new house received that of the Rossmooser Hof
(Rossmoos farm), which still stands upon the peak of Albach opposite

After the building had been finished a few years, the old giant
father felt the approach of age in the gradual loss of his strength;
therefore he began to think of making over his property to one of his
sons. But he did not know to which of them to give it, as all three
were equally dear to him, and at that time the laws of birthright were
not yet introduced into the giant-race, no more than the institution
which exists in other places, and according to which the youngest son
receives the house, and pays to his other brothers their share in ready
money. Therefore in his perplexity he talked it over with his wife, who
advised him thus, “Give it to the strongest of them, and then you have

This idea pleased the giant very much, and that day at dinner he said
to his sons, “Boys, I am old, and one of you shall have the house;
but each of you is as dear to me as the other, and so I think you must
decide it by throwing a stone, and the one who proves himself the
strongest shall have the house.”

This proposition was very acceptable to the giant’s sons; and after the
dinner was finished, the old fellow took a stone of 650 pounds into
which was fastened an iron ring weighing 50 pounds, and carried it
fifteen paces from the Hof, which fifteen paces made just one mile, as
the giant with one step covered as much ground as would take a human
being five minutes to walk. Now they proceeded to the trial according
to the ancient rules of throwing stones, as it was invented centuries
ago by the giants themselves. He who had to throw stood with the left
leg firmly planted on the ground, while with the right foot, which was
passed through the iron ring of the stone, he swung it against the
mark, which in this case was the giant’s Hof, and the stone was to
alight on the other side of the house.

The eldest son commenced; he took up the stone and flung it, but it
didn’t even reach the mark, and fell far short into a fence, which it
smashed to pieces. The second son then fetched the stone and tried his
chance with more success, for he touched the house and knocked in the
front wall.

“You stupid asses!” shouted the old man, “is that the best you can do?”

Now came the turn of the youngest, who did even better; for he threw
the stone so vigorously and high that it fell on the top of the roof,
through which it crashed like a bomb-shell and destroyed everything in
the house.

“Oh, my Bartl!” sneered the angry old giant, “you are a clever fellow.
You have gained the house, but now you will be obliged to repair it.”
And then he began to rave, “You sacrischen Sauschwänz, that you are.
Now look at me, poor weak old thing, how I will beat you. Run, dear
wife, and bring me back the stone.”

His wife ran and brought him the stone on the little finger of her
left hand, which just passed through the ring, and the old giant set
himself in attitude according to the rules of the game. He hurled the
stone with such tremendous force that it fell far on the other side of
the Rossmooser Hof; and seeing this the three young giants slunk off
quite ashamed of themselves. The old giant sighed as he said, “There is
really no strength left among the young folk. At one time one had no
cause to be ashamed of himself. I remember still how I carried a stone
weighing a hundred centner (10,000 pounds) from the Kolbenthalmelch
place to the Kolbenthal saw-mill, where it is still lying; you can go
and look at it there, you Fratz’n.”

At the same time as these giants were living at the Rossmooser Hof,
there resided a couple of other giants upon the Dornerberg in the
Zillerthal, who always cast angry looks at young Bartl, and challenged
him very often to fight. Bartl avoided them as much as he could, and
showed no inclination to measure his strength with them, for he had
not a quarrelsome nature. One day the giants of Dornerberg met the
Rossmooser Riesen with Bartl, at whom they sneered, and mockingly
challenged him again to fight with them, but as Bartl was undecided and
would not answer, the old giant became angry with his son and said,
“You are then no bub (boy) at all, that you suffer all this.”

“Should I fight them?” asked Bartl, and as his father nodded his head
he added, “But, father, it’s not worth my while to fight one alone, so
I shall fight them both at once.”

The fight then began, and Bartl instantly seized upon the two
Dornerberg giants by the collar, held them up, beating the air with
their hands and feet, until their eyes streamed with water; he then
dashed them on the ground where they lay stunned, and it was only with
the greatest trouble that they were restored to life. When they came to
their senses, they stole away from the scene of the fight quite ashamed
of themselves, and made up their minds never again to have anything to
do with Bartl, whose fame, after this tremendous victory, spread far
and near through the country; for the Dornerberg giants were in no way
weak, since each of them carried seven to eight centners (600 to 700
pounds) from Zell, in the Zillerthal, up the Dornerberg, where they
lived in a deep cavern. With this huge weight they sprang lightly from
stone to stone in the river which runs through the valley, and even
stooped down and caught the trout in their hands as they passed over.


At Sterz, about an hour’s walk from Brixen, on the line from Innsbruck
to Verona, close beneath the mountain called Rodeneck, there lived some
fifty years ago in a fine farm-house a well-to-do young couple with
one child. In all the villages round about an old beggar woman was
much dreaded as a witch, and this woman came very often to the farm
begging. The good people of the farm used to give her directly all she
desired, just to rid themselves of her importunities. But one day the
farm-labourers made up their minds to discover whether the old hag was
really a witch or not, and after she had entered the room, they set
a broom on end before the door. It was on a Saturday evening. When a
broom is put upside down before a door--such is the superstition of the
people--the witch cannot get out again.

When the hag therefore tried to get out, she saw the trick, and
remained in the room until late at night. At last she said angrily to
the peasant’s wife, “Sweep out the room; it is Saturday evening, and
how comes it that you leave the room so long unswept?”

This she repeated many times, but always to no purpose, for the
peasant’s wife knew about the trick; but when she saw that the hag was
becoming tremendously angry and fierce, she was dreadfully frightened,
and ordered the servant to take the broom and sweep out the room.
Directly the servant took up the broom and removed it from the door,
the hag darted out full of venom, hatred, and spite, and the most
revengeful determinations.

And what a vengeance this was! She dried the cows, brought down storms
and destroyed the crops, made their child hopelessly ill so that it
died; the poor farmer went into a decline through grief, and his wife
was misled over the Rodeneck by the diabolical creature, and broke both
her arms and legs.

So cruel is the vengeance of a witch.


About three miles above Uderns, in the valley of the Ziller, lies the
Asten or Voralp, also called the Stuben, upon which a poor spirit used
to wander, seeking its redemption.

The proprietor of the Asten was unable to find any one who would
undertake to guard his cattle on the mountain, for every one was afraid
of the ghost. At last, a poor brave boy offered himself for this
purpose, and was of course gladly accepted.

One day as he was driving his cows upon the mountain, he saw a tall
dark figure wandering about a few steps from the door of his little
hut, which is called in the Tyrolian dialect the schlamm. The boy
instantly spoke to the apparition, and asked whether he could not do
anything to release him from his pain, to which the ghost answered,
yes, he could, if during a whole year, without omitting one single day,
he would devoutly repeat a rosary, and promise during that time never
to swear or do a bad action, and always to say the rosary at the same
hour every day.

The honest son of the Alps conscientiously fulfilled his duty for a
very long time, until one day in the summer a pretty little village
girl came up the mountain and begged the cowherd to stand godfather to
her sister’s child, for they were very poor, and knew no one who would
be likely to accept the office but him. The good herd promised directly
that he would; and when the day of the baptism arrived, he well fed his
cows and then set off down the mountain to Uderns. After the ceremony
was over, he had intended to return immediately up the Asten, as it is
the custom in the Tyrol to feed the cattle four times a day. But the
mother of the child implored him to remain a little longer with them,
and so one thing and another prevented him from starting so soon as
he had wished. It happened therefore that he remained in the village
until evening had set in, for they insisted on serving him with good
liqueurs, which to the poor cowherd were a great treat, as it is very
seldom one of his position has the chance of tasting such a thing.
At last he set off on his return, and as he climbed the mountain he
remembered that he had forgotten the hour of his prayers, and was so
grieved at this omission, that he cried bitterly, and repeated aloud
the neglected rosary as he went along. Then the idea struck him that
he would also offer up his baptismal work for the benefit of the poor

When he arrived at his hut he proceeded immediately to the stables,
thinking to himself, “how hungry the poor cattle must be,” but great
was his astonishment when he saw that the best food had been placed
before them, and that everything was in the most perfect order; but
far greater was his surprise when after he had retired to rest, the
poor spirit appeared before him, clad in snow-white garments, and told
him that he was now redeemed, and that which had been principally
instrumental in his redemption, was the offering which the good
cowherd had made of the baptism of the child. After this the spirit
disappeared, and has never been seen again. Since this fact became
known, it has been, and still is the custom in all parts of the Tyrol
for godfathers and godmothers to make an offering of the baptismal rite
on behalf of the poor souls in purgatory.


About sixty years ago there lived at Lengenfeld, in the valley of the
Oetz, a man of enormous height, called generally “the Adasbub,” who was
a perfect monster, besides being a thief, glutton, sot, and fighter.
He had been among the soldiery, and fought in many wars, from which he
had returned still more savage and wild than ever; he had brought home
large sums of money from foreign countries, which he had stolen and
extorted from people, and now he bought a farm of his own, which he
began to manage, though more like a pagan than a Christian. He never
went to church, but was always to be seen in the village inn, where
he boasted the first in Lengenfeld about his velvet jacket decorated
with buttons made out of old pieces of silver money. The young fellows
of the village soon became ashamed of their clothes, and wished to
imitate the vain ideas of their paragon.[1] The Adasbub was besides of
enormous bodily strength, and had already at once defeated fifty men,
who had attacked him; and he who offended him had to fear lest this
dreaded man might go, as if by accident, and turn a mountain torrent
upon his farm, or roll down huge snowballs, with most likely rocks
hidden in them, upon his roof.

[1] In the Tyrol it is the custom for the peasants to have their
jackets and waistcoats decorated with rows of silver buttons, which are
sewn on in such a manner that they overlap each other. These buttons,
of which they are very proud, are all made of old silver money, and
each row contains from fifteen to twenty of them.

His whole pleasure and only occupation was to swear, drink, bluster,
and injure his neighbours; he surrounded himself with a gang of fellows
who suited his tastes, and was their leader in carrying out the most
fearful outrages. They tore the doors of the peaceful inhabitants from
their hinges, and carried them away into the forests; hoisted the
farmers’ carts upon the roofs of their houses; stole the wine from the
sacristies, which they drank to the perdition of the priests; shut up
goats in the little field chapels, and pulled down the crosses in the
cemetery, which they stuck upside down in the ground over the graves,
and boasted in their wickedness that they were making Christendom
stand upon its head.

A newly-concocted villainy was to be carried out in a farm, which
stands upon the Burgstein, above Lengenfeld, and it had reference
to the farmer’s daughter; but the farmer came to hear of it, and
determined to defend his home against the outrages of these cowardly
villains. So he sharpened his axe, and as the Adasbub entered the
house, he brought it down with tremendous fury upon the head of the
monster of iniquity, who fell dead at his feet with a split skull. On
seeing their leader receive this unlooked-for welcome, his companions
took refuge in flight, and there was an instant alarm throughout the
country. People from all parts swarmed up the Burgstein, and thanked
the farmer for having delivered the country from such a wretch.

They cut off the head of the Adasbub, and dragged the body to the edge
of a precipice, from which they pitched it down on to the road, which
passes by a now much frequented sulphur bath, called the Rumunschlung.
The head was thrown into the charnel-house of the cemetery of
Lengenfeld, where it still lies, a terror and warning to all wicked
men. The skull is nearly cloven in two, and from time to time, at
certain midnights, it gets red hot all over, and is then horrible to
look at. Many people say that when it is burning, it rolls from the
charnel-house into the chapel, in which it turns round and round in a
circle, and then jumps again back to its place, where it slowly cools,
and next day it looks again just like any other skull.


Close to Mitterwald, on the little river Eisach, rises on the
right-hand side of the village the enormous mountain called the
Mitterwalder Alp, upon which, on account of the great number of
venomous snakes which were there, no cattle could be pastured. The
majority of these were huge white reptiles, of which the people were
particularly fearful. About fifty years ago there arrived in the
country one of those students, or as they called them, “Fahrende
Schüler” (wandering collegians), to whom people used to attribute
supernatural power, and the peasants asked him to rid them of the
plague of snakes.

The student promptly assented to their request, and went up the
mountain, where he made a circle upon the Alp-meadow, and ordered the
peasants to plant a tree in the middle of the ring; then he climbed
the tree, and by his incantations he charmed all the snakes into the
large fire which he had lighted around it. But all at once a huge snake
hissed loudly and fiercely, and on hearing this the student cried out,
“I am lost;” and at the same moment a white snake darted with the
swiftness of an arrow through his body, and he fell dead from the tree,
and was consumed in the fire.

Those who recounted this tale added, “It was a hazel-worm, for only
those snakes have the power to dart through the air like an arrow and
pierce through people’s bodies.” On the spot where this accident took
place, and where the student made the fiery circle, there has never
since an atom of grass grown again.

It is asserted the blindworms had once the same power, until it was
taken away from them by the Blessed Virgin, who has caused them ever
afterwards to remain sightless.


About an hour’s walk from Reit, on the left-hand side of the entrance
to the valley of the Alpbach, is situated a farm which bears the name
of Larcha, and close to this farm is a deep mine in the side of the
mountain, which at the time of this legend was being worked, and it
was called the Silber Stollen (silver mine) of the Illn. Nine miners
were employed in working the mine, and in it resided a Schachtgeist
(mine ghost), who showed to the poor honest miners the richest lodes of
silver. Their luck was extraordinary, and huge bars of the precious ore
were carried every day out of the mine; and as the men worked on their
own account, they soon became enormously rich, and for this reason they
became also very dissolute and profligate. They were no longer content
with their simple miners’ attire, but bought fine clothes; they would
no longer wear their grey blouses, but they would have velvet and rich
cloth, and their wives went about dressed up in the most gorgeous

The proverbially simple Alpböcker Tracht (costume of the Alpböck) was
entirely set on one side by them, and a new fashion introduced; besides
that, all sorts of iniquities were practised by them, which it would be
impossible to describe.

This made the benevolent Schachtgeist intensely angry; he became fierce
and savage, and when he appeared at the entrance of the mine his mien
foreboded anything but good. Meanwhile the miners went on more badly
than ever, and got so extravagant in their notions, that they even
cleaned their tables and chairs with bread-crumbs. One day the farmer
of Larcha was standing taking the fresh air at his door; the clouds
foreboded a thunderstorm, and the air was dark and heavy. He had
been working with his men down in the cellar, from which they could
distinctly hear the noise of the miners’ hammers, as they shouted and
sung over their work. All at once the Schachtgeist passed by the door
of the farm, and called out to the farmer in a terrible voice, “Shut
your doors, and misfortune shall escape you; I am away to the Illn to
silence the miners.” The terror-stricken farmer crossed himself, and
on his knees implored Divine protection, while the ghost tore up the
mountain, and then he shut his doors and returned to his work. Not
long after, the farmer and his men heard fearful shrieks, which were
immediately followed by a crash like thunder, which shook the earth,
and made the cellar in which they were working tremble. They rushed
up into the farmer’s room, and began to repeat the rosary, and as the
noise abated they went to bed.

On the following morning the news of a terrible calamity spread far
over mountain and valley. The miners had been buried in the mine by an
earthquake, and their shrieking wives rushed wildly about, rolling in
the dust, and, in their agony and despair, they nearly tore off the
feet of the crucifix which stands just above the farm on a cross-road.
But still more horrible was it when it was discovered that the buried
miners were alive in their prison, and screaming for help in the depths
of the mountain. For ten long days the terrible scene lasted; when at
last, after having worked night and day, the villagers succeeded in
entering the passage in which the miners were entombed; but there a
horrible spectacle presented itself to their eyes. Over the dead bodies
of the nine miners was sitting the Schachtgeist, covered with blood,
and terrible to look at, with the visage of the devil, and glowering at
the victims of his just wrath and judgment. The miners had been starved
to death, and were holding the leather of their shoes in their teeth,
after having gnawed their fingers to the bones.

Every one who wanders over the mountain, and passes by the farm of
Larcha, can hear this dreadfully true legend, up to the present day,
from the farmer, who is the son of the man who was witness of the fact.
And if after the evening Angelus has rung, by any chance a door in the
farm remains open, the housewife directly calls out, “Shut the door,
so that misfortune may escape us.”


At Reut, a village between Unken and Lofer, lived a peasant who had
three sons. The two eldest of these were hardy gazelle hunters, and
feared God as little as they did the dangers of the mountains; but the
youngest was better, and different from his brothers; he took interest
in the farm, though now and then he was induced by them to accompany
them to the chase. So it happened once that he went with them to the
high mountains, and on a Sunday they were already standing high on the
peaks when the day dawned, and at that moment they heard the Angelus
ringing from the village of Unken. The younger huntsman implored his
brothers to return, so that they might be in time for church; but as
they would not go, he did not go either.

As they mounted higher and higher they heard the mass bells ringing
at Unken; the youngest brother said, “Let us go back.” But the others
jeered at him and said, “The whistle of a gazelle is more to our taste
than the mass bells and sermon.” When the enthusiastic huntsmen had
arrived on the very top of the mountain, the bells rang again, and the
youngest brother said, “Listen, there is the elevation, we ought to
have been there.”

But his brothers sneered at him, and replied, “A fat gemsbock here is
much more to our mind than the body of the Lord in the village church
below.” These words were scarcely out of their mouths, when clouds as
black as ink enveloped the mountains, and everything became dark as
night; then came on a thunderstorm, as though the world was at its end.
After the storm was over the three brothers were found on the peak of
the mountain, turned into stones in the form of gigantic rocks, and
there they still stand, known to every little Tyrolian child under the
name of “the Three Brothers.”


Round about the village of St. Martin, in the Passeierthal, the parish
comprises a great many single-lying farmsteads, which are dispersed
about to the north in every direction for seven or eight miles towards
the parish of Platt. In one of these farms a man was lying very ill,
because on a Sunday, instead of going to church, he had hunted in the
neighbouring forest, and had slightly wounded his foot with the iron
heel of his other boot. It seemed as though the wound was poisoned, for
it grew continually worse and worse, and at last threw the man into a
deadly fever. The neighbours implored him to give up his evil ways, for
he was a wicked fellow, and took delight in mocking at religion, and
always, above every other, chose a Sunday or _fête_ day for his hunting

But, wishing to appear an _esprit fort_, he answered that he preferred
to arrange his own affairs with the Creator without their interference.
In spite of all this, a good priest tried to persuade him out of his
evil ways; but the wicked man replied to his exhortations by throwing
a plate at him, out of which he had just been eating his milk soup. He
remained obstinate and hardened, “determined,” as he called it, to the

One day, when he was dying, the people of the house ran down to the
priest, and implored him to come and save the unhappy sinner if it was
still possible. The good priest, accompanied by his sacristan, hastened
directly up the mountain, carrying the Holy Sacrament with them. As
they arrived close to the farm, they were met by a fiery red body
rushing through the air, spitting flames as it flew. It aimed directly
at the priest, and was the body of the unbelieving Sabbath-breaker,
who had died without repentance. The sacristan fell to the earth
terror-stricken; but the priest said, “Fear not, Christ is with us,”
and as he spoke these words the fiery body rushed by, leaving them
unhurt, and hurled itself down the fearful precipice of the Matatz


Not many years ago a little man of Venice, Venediger-Manndl, as he was
called, clad in dark clothes, arrived in the Tyrol to gather gold bars,
gold sand, and gold dust, out of the streams of the mountains; he was
always seen in the small valleys, and especially on the Sonnwendjoch;
he arrived in the spring, and went away again in the autumn. He was a
good-hearted quiet little fellow, and on his way home he always passed
the night in the hut of the herd who lived upon the adjacent Kothalp,
near the Sonnwendjoch, which belongs now to Praxmarer, the innkeeper
of Reit. Now it happened that the honest old herd of the Kothalp died,
and his hut was taken by a wicked old man. The Venediger-Manndl entered
as usual into the hut to pass the night, but the new herd, pushed on
by the devil of avarice, made up his mind to kill him in the night,
and to appropriate all his wealth. But the little herd-boy warned the
gold-finder in time to enable him to save himself. Since then he has
never been seen again.

The little herd-boy grew up, and became later on a servant at
Isarwinkl, in Bavaria, where he afterwards became a soldier, and
marched with the army into Italy. His regiment was stationed at Venice,
and a few days after his arrival in the city he walked, full of
curiosity, slowly along the beautiful palaces which stand on the canal,
when all at once he heard his own name called from a window on the
first story of one of them, and a person beckoned him to come up. He
ran quickly up the wide marble stairs, and was received on the top by a
noble Venetian, richly dressed in black velvet, who conducted him into
a splendid apartment, and told him to take a place upon a sofa; then
sitting down at his side, he said, “Years ago you saved the life of a
Venetian upon the Kothalp, and now you are going to be rewarded; so let
me know your wish, and all you want you shall have.”

“Let that be, kind sir,” answered the soldier; “I did but my duty,
Heaven will recompense me if I have deserved it.”

This answer seemed to please the Venetian, who took the young man by
the hand while saying, “That shows me that you are a real Tyrolian.”
Then he entered into a little side-room, and soon afterwards returned
in the dress in which he had appeared as Venediger-Manndl on the
Kothalp. The soldier instantly recognized him, and was rejoiced
at meeting him. Now the Venetian repeated his offer of gold and
riches, but the soldier once more declined, and answered, “Health and
contentment are my riches, and that God will grant me as long as he
sees it fit to do so; though I have one wish, after all, which is to be
free of my service in the army, so that I could go back to Isarwinkl,
where I have my love, a girl like milk and blood.”

The Venetian had scarcely heard this wish, when he took directly a
large white cloth, in which a mantle was wrapped; he took out the
mantle, put it over the shoulders of the soldier, and then covered
it with the white cloth. All at once the soldier felt himself rising
in the air. “Greet your love from me” were the only words he could
catch from the Venetian; for like an arrow he was borne away through
the high and grated bow-windows which are used at Venice, the white
cloth enveloping him like a soft cloud, carried him along swiftly and
gently, and set him down before the house of his love. In the pocket of
the mantle he found a rich bridal gift.

Happiness never deserted the young fellow; he became very soon a happy
husband, and bought himself out of the army, and since then he has
often recounted this adventure.


In the hotel of the ‘Golden Star,’ at Innsbruck, there once arrived a
very rich foreign Princess, who was suffering from a terrible disorder,
which had baffled the efforts of every doctor to cure. Dr. Theophrast,
of whom the Princess had heard, and whom she had come to Innsbruck to
consult, declared that it was a malady over which he had no control,
although he was a “Wonder Doctor.” This was a great loss to the Doctor,
and a terrible shock to the Princess, who had travelled so far in hopes
of a cure.

One day when she was lying inconsolable in her bed, a little tiny man
came into the room, who offered his services and gave her a potion,
which he told her would restore her to health. But the little fellow
added that on that day year he should return, and if she had forgotten
his name, which was “Hahnenkikerle,” she must promise to marry him,
and to live with him under the Höttinger Klamm. The Princess gladly
accepted this proposition, and she awoke on the following morning as
fresh and healthy as a May rose.

She remained in Innsbruck, where she gave feast after feast, and in
this way the year soon passed by. All at once she remembered her
promise to the little dwarf, whose name had escaped her, and every
effort to recall it was in vain. She asked many people, but no one
could tell her; she confided her anxiety to her friends, but, of
course, they could neither help her nor give her any advice. Only a
poor servant girl, who came to hear of it, determined to try and help
the good Princess. So she went into the Klamm, hoping to hear something
certain there; she listened, and crept about all over, and at last she
heard in the depth of the Klamm a joyous shouting, and down below
she saw the dwarf jumping and singing, “Hurrah! the Princess in the
‘Star’ doesn’t know that my name is Hahnenkikerle.” The girl hurried
home as fast as she could, and told the Princess all she had heard. Now
the Princess remembered the name, and when the day came and the dwarf
appeared, she called out to him, “Hahnenkikerle;” at hearing this the
dwarf rushed away raging into the mountain.

The girl was rewarded by the Princess; and when she married an honest
burgher of Innsbruck, she received a princely dower.


In Sistrans, a village close to Innsbruck, there lived, some sixty
years ago, a man who was noted in all the surrounding districts for
his evil and quarrelsome disposition. He attended every Kermesse and
village meeting at which it was the custom of the blackguards of the
surrounding country to go and fight, but he never found one who could
master him.

This superhuman strength was not his only distinguishing quality,
for he was well up in other more doubtful arts, and was able to do
rather more than “boil pears without wetting the stalk.” Should a
fine fox or a fat hare be running in the forest close by, he set his
traps just behind his stove, and in the morning the game was sure to
be caught. Should anything have been stolen, people came to him, for
he had means of compelling the stolen goods to be restored. For this
purpose, he merely took a little book bound in pigskin out of his box,
and began to read; and wherever the thief might be, he was forced by
some irresistible power to take the stolen goods upon his back and
bring them before the sorcerer, by whom the proprietor must always be
present. This little book had such a power that, at each word read
by the sorcerer from it, the thief was obliged to make a step; and
three times woe to him who had stolen something which was heavy, or
was obliged to bring his burden from a long distance, or over steep
mountains, while the man was reading; from far off his pantings could
be heard, and he was drenched in perspiration when he arrived at the

One day the sorcerer made himself a footstool of nine different sorts
of wood, upon which he knelt down close to the organ in the church, and
looked down upon the people, and there saw all the old hags and witches
as they stood at the lower end of the church. After the service was
over, these old hags set upon him in herds, and would have torn him to
pieces had not the priest come in time to his rescue, for the hags now
discovered that he had found them out.

This man had once on Christmas Eve stolen the consecrated Host, while
the priest held it up after the consecration, and carried it with him,
wrapped in a little piece of cloth always hidden on his left arm. From
this proceeded all his unsurpassable tricks and indomitable strength.
But at last came the “Scythesman Death,” who cast him down upon the bed
of sickness, and, in spite of all his strength and cleverness, he was
bound to die; but that was a very hard thing for him. Three long days
and nights the quarreller lay in the last agony without being able to
die. Several times the priest came to him, and at last, after long
exhortations and prayers, the dying man made a confession.

The Host, which had already grown into the arm, was cut out, and all
the books and writings belonging to the art of sorcery which could be
found were burnt; and as they were thrown into the flames it roared and
thundered dreadfully, and there was such a terrific heat that the lead
in the window-frames melted and ran down in streams, and during this
hellish noise the sorcerer died.


On the Brennerstrasse, which leads out of Innsbruck, three huge scarped
mountains raise their lofty peaks above the road, and these peaks are
also plainly visible from the Inn valley, through which the railway to
Innsbruck now runs.

There once lived in the neighbouring valley of the Sin a “Wilder,” or
wild man of enormous stature, who was a dreaded King of the Mountains.
He was of a most extraordinarily savage nature, his wife as bad as
he was, and his secret counsellor still worse than both. The King
was passionately fond of hunting; and when on the track of a flying
stag, he cared so little about anything but his own pleasure that
he would dash, accompanied by all his followers and hounds, through
the flocks and herds pastured on the mountains, carrying death and
ruin wheresoever he went. Should the poor hunted animal by chance
seek refuge among a herd, the demoniacal monster would take delight
in urging on his bloodthirsty hounds to tear everything to pieces;
and did the unfortunate herdsmen only try to make any remonstrance,
they instantly shared the fate of their unfortunate animals, and
were dragged to pieces on the spot by the savage dogs. On these
occasions the giant, whose name was Serles, used to shout with joy,
“Lustig gejaid” (bravely on), and neither man nor beast were able to
defend themselves for a single moment against his fury. His wife and
counsellor always accompanied him upon these excursions, and urged him
on by their taunts to further excesses.

One day when they were out on one of their favourite expeditions, and
the dogs had not only torn to pieces a poor stag, which had taken
refuge among a herd of cows, but had also furiously attacked the
herd itself, the herdsmen tried to drive them off, and one of them
unslinging his cross-bow, in his anger, shot a dog dead upon the spot.
At this the infuriated giant, excited beyond measure by his wicked
wife and villainous counsellor, set the whole pack of hounds upon the
unhappy herdsmen, and laughed with savage delight as he saw them torn
limb from limb by the dogs. But in the midst of this terrible crime,
Heaven’s wrath fell heavily upon them. A terrific thunderstorm burst
over their heads, and when it had passed away no more was to be seen of
King Serles, his wife, or his counsellor, but, in their stead, three
huge glaciers rose into the clouds on the spot on which their iniquity
had taken place. The one in the middle is the wicked monster Serles,
and to his right and left stand his cruel wife and inhuman counsellor.

Teamsters who pass along the Brennerstrasse on stormy nights even
now often hear the howling of unearthly dogs, and, during storms,
thunderbolts are constantly seen striking the “Rock Giants.”


The Tyrolians believe in the existence of the Orco, who is accounted
to be a huge and powerful mountain ghost, who never ages; he is said
to reside generally in the clefts and chasms of the precipices between
Enneberg Abbey and Buchenstein and the surrounding mountains. He adopts
every form, and exercises his enormous strength only in destroying.
Everything he does is for the terror and annoyance of mankind; he
very seldom takes the human form, and when he does it is of gigantic
stature, with the most malevolent, wild, and cruel expression; he is
then dressed in the manner of the giants, or quite naked, but covered
thickly with hair, like the coat of a bear.

The following legends, collected on the spot, give a few instances of
when and where he has been seen:--

       *       *       *       *       *

The Innkeeper, Anton Trebo, in Enneberg, who died in the year 1853, was
a firm-minded man and noted as a great quarreller; he was sharp and
enterprising in his business, and laughed to scorn all his guests when
they ventured to recount anything about the Orco, who was held in most
terrible dread by all the inhabitants of the surrounding country. Anton
Trebo used to say that he believed in no apparition from either heaven
or hell.

It was in the year 1825 that he returned from the market of St.
Lorenz in his cart, with his son Franz. As he arrived at the rock
called “Delles Gracies” (Rock of Grace), where in the hollow niches
of the rock still stand many carved wooden statues of Christ and His
saints, and just as he passed by, there all at once appeared a huge
monstrous black dog, which ran round his cart and horses, and looked
so diabolically that even the otherwise courageous bully was almost
terrified. He held the reins tightly, and said to his son, “What is the
dog doing there? Drive him away.” Franz tried to frighten the brute off
with stones and blows, but the dog would not move, and Trebo, becoming
more and more frightened, made the sign of the cross, and all at once
the dog disappeared before their eyes.

Since this adventure, the innkeeper of Enneberg, believed firmly that
it had really been the Orco, and has always defended his conviction
of the existence of this fearful mountain ghost. Franz has taken the
place of his father, and is now innkeeper of Enneberg, where one of his
brothers lives with him.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1816 a brave peasant woman of Brenta, in the valley of Buchenstein,
whose name was Maria Vinazzer, went with her son, who was nine years
old, to meet her herd of cows which were returning from the Crontrin
Alp. It was a beautiful autumn day, and they advanced the more gaily,
as they were accompanied by the worthy parish singer, Lazar. As they
arrived on the mountain side, all at once a wild horse trotted before
them so suddenly that it appeared as though he had sprung from the
ground, and wherever he trod fire played round about his heels.

Lazar, who was a courageous mountaineer, threw stones at the brute, but
they rebounded from his sides, as though he had thrown them at a rock.
The horse would not be driven away, and always galloped before them. On
seeing this extraordinary apparition, Maria said, “This is certainly
the Orco, and if he meets the herd he will surely disperse it, as
he has often done, and the cows will run in all directions over the
precipices and chasms.” They all three crossed themselves and repeated
a prayer.

At that moment they arrived at the cross-way, called Livine, where
stands a crucifix, and as the Orco approached near to it, he
disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared; he neither sank into
the earth, nor flew away through the air, but like a soap-bubble he
vanished in an instant.

All three stood and prayed a little time before the cross, where the
herd soon after gaily arrived, and the pious mother said joyfully to
her son, “Look, dear child, he who is with God is everywhere safe, and
no Orco or other evil spirit can harm him.”

       *       *       *       *       *

From the village of St. Kassian a young fellow went one evening to a
distant farm to visit his sweetheart, and it was getting already dark.
The youth heard several times the Orco calling out from a distance, but
he paid no attention to it, and continued quietly his way. All at once
he saw a little empty cart, dragged by four cats, run across the road;
at this sight he was rather frightened, but still continued his way,
not being able to make out what it all meant, when, on a sudden, there
arrived a big black dog, with fiery lynx eyes, which grew bigger and
bigger the nearer he came. “That is the Orco,” thought the boy; so he
crossed himself, and ran home as fast as his legs could carry him.

The dog bounded constantly after him for about a distance of three
miles, and his fiery tongue hung for more than half a yard out of
his jaws. The saliva which dropped from his mouth was like blue
flaming fire, and burned like sulphur, filling the air around with
a suffocating smell. The boy reached home, unharmed by the dog; but
he had run so hard that his lungs became diseased, and he was always
suffering, till death released him a few months afterwards.

“The cats which dragged the cart over the road,” said the people who
recounted this legend, “were hags, of whom there were thousands about
at that time.”

       *       *       *       *       *

One day two young men of Ornella, in the Buchenstein valley, started
on a brilliant night to pay a visit in a neighbouring village to their
loves. They had scarcely left home when they noticed that they were
followed by the gigantic Orco, in the form of a wild bull, who first
walked quietly behind them, and then, as they began to run, changed
himself into a huge ball, which rolled after them, bounding over high
rocks, and alighting again on the ground close to them, with so much
force and such a terrible noise that they were afraid of being crushed
to death.

In their anxiety, they took the way over the meadows to the village of
Valazzo, and jumping over the fence, which they had no time to open or
break down, fell into the yard, at the foot of a large crucifix, which
stands there, and embraced the cross, in a dying condition, with their
arms. The Orco appeared at the fence, though now in human form; but
the poor youths were so terrified that they dare no longer regard him,
and therefore were unable to describe his appearance. He beat with his
hands upon the fence-bars so furiously, that the marks of his blows
remained for years afterwards, as though they had been branded in by
red-hot irons, until the wood decayed and a new fencing had to be put
up; but the saving cross still stands upon the same spot.

       *       *       *       *       *

A peasant boy of Enneberg, walking through the deep and vast forest
of Plaiswald, heard from afar the voices of men shouting, and took
them for woodcutters, so, according to the usage of the country, he
answered them, and shouted several times just in the same tones as the
voices he had heard. But then the horrible idea rushed into his mind
that it might have been the Orco, and, at the same instant, he heard
it quite close, for if one imitates the Orco, the monster arrives as
fast as lightning. The youth tried to run away, but he felt as though
petrified; all around him became darkness, and he fell senseless to the

On the following day, when he came to himself, he discovered that
he was in the forests of Wellschellen, on the highest peak of the
mountain, and it became clear to him that the Orco had carried him
there, although the forests of Wellschellen were on the other side of
terrifically deep chasms and precipices, into which the Orco would most
certainly have thrown him, had the peasant boy been a godless fellow.
He returned home, covered with bruises and scratches, for Orco had torn
him in such a terrible manner that to the end of his days he never
attempted again to imitate the voice of any one in the forests. The way
over which the Orco dragged the peasant is a good seven miles.


In the ancient castle of Büchsenhausen, which stands just above
Innsbruck, still wanders about the apparition of one of its former
possessors. The legend does not say to whom the castle originally
belonged, but old chronicles relate that it passed, in the sixteenth
century, into the hands of the celebrated iron-founder, Gregor Löffler,
who gave it the name of “Büchsenhausen” (home of guns), because he had
established there a gunfoundry. Later on it fell into the power of
the reigning family of Austria, and the Archduchess Claudia presented
it to her favourite Chancellor, Wilhelm von Biener, a liberal-minded
nobleman, gifted with the doubtful talent of writing the most cutting
satires, whose venomous point he turned against the nobility and
church, and, for this reason, he brought upon himself the hatred of all
those against whose opinion he wrote; but the favour of the Archduchess
protected the talented statesman, who was most faithfully devoted to
her interests.

On the 2nd of August, 1648, the Archduchess died, and then the
enemies of Herr von Biener set to work so energetically that, after
a short time, they succeeded in turning him out of his position, and
imprisoned him on the 28th of August, 1650. A royal commission of
noblemen, consisting of Biener’s greatest enemies, hastened down to
Büchsenhausen, and claimed from his wife all his papers and documents,
amongst which they discovered satires, which were most useful to their
purpose. He was accused of high-treason, and, as his enemies were both
his accusers and judges, he was condemned to death. His wife visited
him while he was in prison, and he, who knew himself to be guiltless of
any crime, always consoled her with these words:--“There can be no God
in Heaven if they are allowed to murder an innocent man.”

On the 17th of July, 1651, Herr von Biener was executed in public.
The sword which was used on the occasion is still to be seen in the
castle of Büchsenhausen. His wife had sent a messenger to the Emperor
to pray for a reprieve, which he had granted; but one of Biener’s most
deadly enemies, President Schmaus, of the Austrian Court, stopped the
messenger, and of course the execution ensued.

A few days afterwards, the rascal who had stopped the merciful errand
of the Emperor was found dead through the judgment of God. Frau von
Biener went raving mad; through the whole house she tore from room to
room, crying, “There is no God; there is no God.” At last she climbed
up the peak behind the Martinswand, and threw herself over a precipice
into a deep chasm, out of which she was carried a corpse to Höttingen,
where she was buried on the left-hand side of the altar, under a plain
tombstone bearing no inscription, and with only a cross cut upon it.

Since her death she has appeared very often as a wandering ghost to a
great number of persons, and the inhabitants of the surrounding country
have given her the name of the “Bienerweibele” (Biener’s Wife). Clad
in long black robes, slowly and solemnly she walks along through all
the rooms in the castle, passes through firmly locked doors, stops with
a woeful look at the bedside of peacefully sleeping people, appears
to each proprietor and his wife before their death with wonderful
consolation, always foretelling the immediate approach of the “Dreaded
Spirit,” and never harms those who have never done her any injury.
But in the year 1720, it happened that a descendant of one who had
been instrumental in her husband’s death, who was sleeping in the
castle, was found dead in his bed on the following morning, with a most
fearfully contorted neck. The ghost appears in a black velvet mantle,
and bears on her head a little bonnet, called in the dialect of the
country, “Hierinnen,” embroidered with black lace, and on the back
of her head a beautiful little golden crown, which is fastened on her
hair by the means of a silver pin. People say that in former times the
apparition was quite black, but at present it is more grey, and every
day she is becoming more light, until at last her unhappy spirit will
be redeemed.


A rich peasant of Lengstein had a son who had travelled a great deal,
and, on returning home, he laughed at the repeating of the rosary,
which all the good peasants are in the habit of saying every evening.
His mother was very anxious about the profane ideas and behaviour of
her son, for he mocked just as much at every other usage of the holy
church, which he was pleased to designate as “jokes of the priests.”

One day several of his companions were sitting with him at the inn
called “Zu dem Ritter,” and there some one of them recounted that on
every Thursday night hags had been seen dancing, and carrying on
their diabolical practices on the Birchboden, which was close by; they
were seen arriving on the mountain from all parts, riding on black
bricks, and holding there their unholy Sabbath. On hearing this, the
rich peasant’s son laughed loudly, and said, “Wait, there I will dance
with them;” for it was just Thursday evening. His friends advised him
not to do so, but, in spite of their warnings, he set off, and they
accompanied him up to the Mittelberg, where stands the Kebelschmiede,
and where the wild stream of the Finsterbach rushes through a fearful
gully. From thence, the young fellow ran singing gaily through the
forest to where there is an open spot, called the Birchboden, and where
numberless pyramids of porphyry rise to the height of twenty and thirty
feet above the ground.

There he saw the frantic witches dancing and jumping together, and
performing all sorts of tricks. This pleased the mad young man, and
he ran to take part in their unholy dance; but when the huge clock of
the magnificent monastery of Lengmoos struck _one_, the Finsterbach
foamed wildly up, and the pyramids of porphyry tottered to their very
base. This the friends of the peasant, who were waiting for him, saw
perfectly well, and a wild storm of wind and hail came suddenly on, so
that they were obliged to take refuge in the hut of the Kebelschmid
(Kebelsmith). There they waited until the morning Angelus had rung,
at which moment they knew that the hags’ power would come to an end,
and then they went to the witches’ ground. But how terrified were they
when they found their wicked comrade transformed into a stone, and
fixed firmly into the earth, so that only three-quarters of him could
be seen. His stone form still remains on this dreadful spot, and no
green--not even an atom of moss--will grow over the head, body, hands,
or feet of the “Witch-dancer.”

After nightfall no one dares to approach the scene of this terrible
retribution, where stands so fearful a warning to all mockers and
despisers of religion.


In the hamlet of Wälsch’nofen, about ten miles from the village of
Völs, lived a certain Binder-Hansl. He was a broom-binder, and, as his
name was Hans (or John), they called him the “Binder-Hansl.”

He died in the year 1824, and was regretted all over the country, for
he was a noted peasant doctor, or “Wonder Doctor,” as they called him.
Besides curing all sorts of maladies of man and beast, he had a charm
against sorcery and witchcraft, and where any suspicious circumstance
took place in house or stable, Hans was called, and never failed to

One day, in the time of war, the Binder-Hansl went to the village of
Botzen, and on the route, near the lane called Kuntersweg, he met the
smith of the village of Kartaun, who had been forced by the French
troops to carry their big drum, which was very heavy, and when the
smith complained very bitterly about it to his friend, Hans said
laughingly, “I should send the drum to the devil, and then I should
be rid of it.” At this the French punished him for his boldness, by
forcing him to march with them, carrying at his turn the drum on his
back. So he was obliged to carry it up to the Feigenbrücke, near
Blumenau; but when he had arrived there, he set the drum on the ground,
and said, “By this way I have come, and by this way I will return;”
while a Frenchman, who spoke German perfectly well, said, “Churl, take
up the drum, or--” and he lunged at him with his naked sword. But the
Binder-Hansl laughed at him, and replied, “We shall see;” and at the
same moment he stretched out his hand over the Frenchmen, and they
became all as motionless as stones.

There he left them standing and went laughing from the Feigenbrücke,
over the steep mountain lane, which is called the “Katzenleiter”
(Cat’s Ladder). After he had climbed to the summit of the mountain, he
shouted, “Be off, fools, now you have seen my power,” and making again
a sign with his hand, they all came to life, and taking up their drum
they ran off, as only Frenchmen can.


Near the “Reichen-Felder” (rich fields), behind the valley of Alpbach,
is often to be seen, especially on the eve of holy-days, a gold-worm of
wonderful brilliancy, which lies there motionless, and wrinkled in such
a manner that it looks like a golden chain.

Sometimes this gold-worm has also been seen down in the valley far
beneath the Reichen-Felder, even once so far as the banks of the
Alpbach, on a spot which is called G’reit. Several times daring people
approached the worm, but when they had come near to him they were
struck with an uncontrollable terror; and on running to fetch others as
witnesses, on their return the worm was no longer to be seen.

The peasants round about say, “Those people had not the grace of
putting something sacred upon the worm, and for that reason it
disappeared.” After all, it is not stated what the worm is, whether it
is a treasure-bloom, or a treasure-guardian, of which there are numbers
in this rich gold country.


In the Volder valley, out of which rises the Glunkezer, and where now
stands the sheep Alp, called Tulfein, is a very picturesque mountain
meadow, in the middle of which, some centuries ago, a peaceful King
had built his palace, in which he lived with his four daughters, of
whom each was more beautiful than the other. Round about the palace was
a magnificent garden, full of Wonder-Flowers, and large expanses of
meadow-lands, upon which tame Alpine animals browsed in large herds,
and of these the four daughters of the King were very fond. They went
also very often down into the huts of poor herds-people, to whom
they did all sorts of charity, and all around they were honoured and
reverenced as protecting genii.

This quiet happiness was troubled, and at last destroyed, by the
arrival of a wild giant in this Alpine paradise, who built himself
a cavern on the top of the Glunkezer, from whence, during the night,
he roared so dreadfully that the mountains trembled, and huge masses
of rock rolled down into the valleys. After he had caught sight of
the four daughters of the King, he determined to try and gain one of
them for his wife; so he decorated his bearskin mantle with enormous
new buttons, tore up a fine tree for a walking-stick, passed his
long finger-nails a few times through his shaggy beard and hair, and
set off down to the Tulfein to pay his addresses. The King’s heart
trembled with fright as he saw this pretender to the hand of one of his
daughters, and replied that his daughters were perfectly free to choose
their own husbands, therefore, if one of them would accept him, he
should have no opposition to make.

Upon this the giant made himself as small as possible, but that was
not very much, and did not bring him in much either, for one after
the other of the girls refused him. This enraged the giant out of
bounds, and he determined upon the most terrible vengeance, which he
did not tarry in executing as quickly as possible. In the following
night, rocks as large as a house rolled down upon the Tulfein, hurled
against the palace, which they carried along with its inhabitants into
the Wild-See, into whose depth it disappeared, and which was almost
completely filled up with the tumbling rocks. The little of its dark
waters which is still left, now bears the name of the “Schwarzenbrunn”
(black spring), and round about it is a “death valley,” for nothing
will grow there.

After the vengeance of the giant was satiated, repentance came over
him, and he mourned for the murdered innocent father and daughters,
he sat for whole nights on the borders of the Wild-See, into which he
gazed, and howled and cried so incessantly, that even the stones had
pity on him, for they became quite soft, and his cavern trembled and
fell to ruin. At last he bewitched himself and became a mountain dwarf,
while the King’s daughters were transformed into fairies or mermaids,
and appear often on moonlight nights, floating over the water. There
then sits the small grey dwarf, stretching longingly his hands towards
their light forms, which however dissolve in mist; the dwarf then
plunges again into the See, with a noise so great that it seems as
though a large rock had fallen into it, and cools in a cold bath the
agony of his remorse.


The practice of the medical art is even now in the higher parts of
the Tyrol rather in a primitive state. Those who are ill send a
common messenger down to the doctor, to whom he has to explain all
the illnesses of those who have sent him, and, therefore, he has to
consult sometimes for twenty or thirty illnesses at a time. The doctor
listens to his explanations, and gives to one patient a potion, to
another a tisane, to another an unguent, etc., and hands the whole lot
to the messenger. Happy it is if, in the confusion of his ideas, the
messenger does not change the medicines, but gives to each patient his
own. In this manner used the peasant Vögele to cure, who died in 1855,
in the hamlet of Matrai, in the Under Wippthal. From early morning till
late in the afternoon his farm was overrun with the sick, or their

But the arts which the weaver of Vomperberg, near the village of Vomp,
in the Inn valley, practised were unknown to human doctor, for they
were supernatural. It was generally reported that he was in league with
the evil one, and eye-witnesses have even certified that the devil
once caught him, but that the clever magician managed to slip through
his fingers. This weaver, who died in 1845, once sold a herd of pigs
to a peasant on the opposite side of the river Inn. The purchaser was
driving his pigs over the bridge called Nothholzerbrücke, and, as they
arrived in the middle, lo! they all disappeared. All those to whom he
recounted this called out, “The weaver is a cunning fellow, he has got
the money, and no doubt he has bewitched the pigs back again to his

In his anger the peasant, after drinking a few bottles of wine, and
when his head was rather hot, returned to the hut of the weaver, who
was lying on a long plank, warming his feet against the stove. The
indignant and half-drunken peasant threw himself upon the man, and,
in his anger, tried to drag him out of the hut by his feet, but oh,
Heaven! he had scarcely touched the feet, when they both came off in
his hands. Trembling with terror and fright, he dropped the feet on the
floor and ran off, and has never dared again to say one word about the
loss of the pigs.


Over the high valley of Alperschon stands a mountain called
Gerichtsalp, belonging to the canton of Landeck, of which the judge,
for centuries past, has had the right of letting the meadows to all the
different parishes of the district; and from time immemorial it has
been the privilege of the flock-herds to pasture there also their own
animals, together with those of their masters, and then to sell them in
the autumn on their own account.

There was at that time upon the Alp a young “Sennin” (or herd-woman),
who had among the herd some of her own pigs, of which she took rather
too much care, for she cheated the parish to feed them, and gave them
goat-milk and the milk from the butter, so that they soon became very
fat and round; while the parish pigs she made live upon the thin
cheese whey, upon which, of course, they did not thrive. The Sennin was
always gay and joking, and sang the nicest songs, and therefore every
one liked her for her good temper, and nobody dreamed that she was an
alm thief.

A couple of root seekers of the village of Schnaun, the girl’s native
village, often climbed the Alp, and one day, when busy over their work,
they remained there longer than usual, after the Sennin had driven
the herd home. They were in the habit of using the empty enclosure
in which the pigs were driven to rest in the middle of the day, as a
drying-place for their roots, and when they returned home again, late
at night, to Schnaun, they heard to their great astonishment that “the
pretty young Sennin” had suddenly died, and they stayed a few days in
the village to attend her funeral with the rest of the villagers.

Some few days afterwards, they went up again on the mountain to resume
their usual business, and it was almost quite dark as they arrived on
their favourite spot. As they approached the enclosure, they heard the
voice of some one calling the pigs to their feeding-troughs, which
they immediately recognized as that of the dead young Sennin, and, as
they approached nearer, they saw her in bodily form, carrying a bucket
of whey in her hand, and walking about in the enclosure, but red as a
fiery furnace. The men stood thunderstruck and gasped with terror, and
the spirit called to them, “Yes, sigh for me; here I must burn until my
dishonesty is wiped away, even to the last _pfennig_;” and in saying
this she disappeared from their sight, while making a terrific noise,
and enveloped in a cloud of sulphurous smoke.


Beneath the Solstein, which stands over 9000 feet high, and upon whose
summit on certain Thursdays the witches are said to dance, is situated
a dreadful chasm, which takes its name from the charming village of
Zirl, which lies at the foot of the mountain, and has more the aspect
of a little town than an Alpine village. There once lived a wealthy
miller, a noted usurer, who amassed no end of unjustly gained money,
and, as after his death none of his wealth was restored to those whom
he had defrauded, his spirit was condemned to the depths of the chasm,
where he suffered indescribable torments, and often during the night
his screams have been heard crying, “Help, help me!”

About twenty years ago, two merry gazelle hunters were walking in the
night from the village of Soln, over the Schützensteig, on their way
to Hötting, and, as it became very dark, they resolved to pass the
night above the Zirl chasm, for fear of falling, in the darkness, over
some precipice, or meeting with any other accident. They lighted a
large fire, and during the night they heard somebody call out, “Help,
help me.” The two men immediately thought some one had fallen down the
precipice, and one of them shouted, “Have patience, for the night is
too dark for us to venture down the gully, but to-morrow we will help
you out.” In the early dawn they set off to hunt for a track by which
to descend the precipice to the rescue of the unfortunate traveller.

On their way they met the shepherd of Soln, and told him of their
night’s adventure, and, as they recounted it to him, he said, “There
you may look in vain, for this call comes not from a lost traveller,
but from the wicked miller;” and he then told them all he knew about
the wretched money usurer. Many people of Zirl have also heard these
frightful screams for help, first in one place and then in another, for
the chasm is dreadfully deep and long. In the very depth of it, and at
the foot of the Solstein, lies the Graupenloch, where a roaring torrent
forms a high cascade, and fills the chasm with the roar of thunder,
and even to this day nobody has ever dared to descend to this spot.
There sits the spirit of the miserable usurer, howling, with chattering
teeth, in his freezing torment.


On the high Alp, called Els, in the Hinderdux, resides a mountain
spirit, which the inhabitants of the surrounding country are unable
to paint horribly enough. It is described as a terrible horse-phantom,
which nobody dare approach, and which snorts fever and death
wheresoever it goes. Many mountaineers and gazelle-hunters have met
with their death by this spirit, and only he is safe who has gun,
sword, and dogs with him.

One day a courageous Alpine hunter resolved to go and fight the
mountain ghost, so he loaded his rifle with a crossed bullet, and
climbed up the mountain. Not far from the hut, which stands on the Els
Alp, is a cross, at which he knelt and repeated a prayer, and he had
scarcely left the spot, when a little grey mountain dwarf drew near to
him, and begged for a little bread and brandy. The huntsman shared with
the dwarf his bread and smoked-gazelle meat; after which the little
grey man told him to go back, and bring his gun, sword, and dogs, or
else he would be powerless against the mountain ghost, who otherwise
would smash him into pieces. The gazelle-hunter followed this advice,
and soon returned to execute his courageous purpose.

But it happened far otherwise than he had expected. The mountain
ghost, in the form of a horrible horse, appeared, and galloped upon him
with tremendous fury, snorting fire and sulphurous smoke, stamping, and
roaring, and neighing so loud, that the very mountain shook with the
sound; then he shouted to the huntsman with a voice of thunder, “You
rascal, if you had not gun, sword, and dogs with you, I should smash
you to pieces.”

At this reception, the huntsman stood like one petrified; his teeth
chattered, and all desire to fight with a ghost passed away for ever
from his mind. The horse-phantom then turned his heels and galloped
back again to the Gletscherwand, from whence he had come.


Not many years ago a very rough mountain lane led from Tarenz to Imst,
which was called the G’stoag; the post-road now runs over this spot,
and still bears the same name.

The tailor, Anton Gurschler, of Strad, once returned home from
Grieseck, near Tarenz, where he had been to visit his sweetheart. It
was getting on for the ghost hour, and as he arrived near the smith’s
shop, called Hoada-Schmiede, near G’stoag, he ran up against a little
chapel, which is consecrated to the holy Vitus, and, having hurt
himself in the violence of the shock, he was very angry, and began to
swear, for he wanted to know who had pushed him so savagely. At that
moment a carriage with lights drove up, and in it were sitting some
women, whom the tailor immediately recognized perfectly well. They
stopped the carriage, alighted, and offered to dance with him, and
turned him round and round, without his being able to resist them.
Then, as they released him, one of them whispered in his ear, “If you
say one word about this, you had better look out for yourself;” and
then they drove off like a flash of lightning. The tailor was stupefied
with amazement, and, in his anger, he recounted to his friends at home
all that had befallen him, in which, however, he did very wrong, for he
grew thin and ill, and went out at last like the spark of a candle.

To another man, a shoemaker of Tarenz, whose name was Jennewein
Lambach, happened the following circumstance:--He was on his way to
the castle of Starkenberg, close by his village, and on passing by the
church, he neither stopped a moment, nor crossed himself, as it is the
custom in the country to do. It was yet dark, for the shoemaker had got
up earlier than he was aware of; all at once he heard the sounds of
magnificent music, to which he listened for a long time with delighted
ears, and then, to his astonishment, he heard the church clock strike
midnight. He shuddered with fright, for he knew that something must
be wrong, and hurried on as fast as his legs would carry him to
Starkenberg, where he was engaged to work; but as there he could find
no peace of mind, on account of his strange accident, he returned home
again in the afternoon. While he was sitting drinking a glass of wine
with the innkeeper Marrand, of Tarenz, a woman of the village entered
the room, and said to him mockingly, “The music last night must have
pleased you very much, for you listened like a stupid.” The shoemaker
was struck dumb and could not reply, for it came to his mind that what
he had heard in the preceding night had been hags’ music, and that
that very same woman had been amongst the number of the witches. From
that time he shunned the creature as much as possible, but never told
any one what had happened to him on that eventful evening. He then
bought himself an alarm clock, which he set up close to his bed, so
that he never went again too early to his work, and thus by his silence
he no doubt escaped the dreadful fate of the poor tailor.


In the village of Hall, in the valley of the Inn, close to Innsbruck,
lived a man who was a peasant doctor, cattle doctor, and fisherman, in
one person; he was also a noted witch-finder, and, as such, held in
terrible dread by all those who had “red eyes.” His name was Kolb, but
he was generally called the “Hexeler” (hag hunter), or “Hexenkolb.”

One day Kolb was engaged fishing in the lake, called Achenthaler-See,
when suddenly thunderclouds as black as ink collected over his head,
and on a sign which he made with his hand, a weather hag fell down
into the water. The hag seized the side of Kolb’s little boat, who,
however, beat the rudder down upon her hands, with the intention of
drowning her, but she implored him to save her, promising that she
would renounce her witchcraft. “As to me,” said Kolb, “I will save you
if you will give up your wicked trade; but you must hand over to me
your sorcery book, so that I shall know all your hellish artifices,
and be able to discover their antidotes.” After a long dispute, during
which the hag was nearly drowned, she gave him a book, in which her
most secret charms were written down.

After that incident, Kolb became one of the first “Wonder Doctors”
in the Tyrol. When he was asked to cure somebody, the sufferer was
compelled to come to him during the night, and it was only on special
occasions that he consented to visit the house of the sick. When he
was called to the assistance of a bewitched person, he made exactly
at midnight the smoke of five different sorts of herbs, and, while
they were burning, the bewitched was gently beaten with a martyr-thorn
birch, which had also to be cut during the same night, and through
which means, at each stripe that was given, the hag who had bewitched
the person received the most terrible blow, so that the blood flowed at
each stroke. Kolb went on beating in this way, until the hag appeared
and took off the charm. But, during the operation, no one was allowed
to speak, and the necromancer alone treated with the witch. If any one
had spoken but one word, the Hexeler’s power would have gone for that
night, and all his work would have been useless.


Cats generally take a large share in anything appertaining to
witchcraft, and as single apparitions, out of the company of some
hag, they are scarcely, if ever, to be seen; though Peter, one of the
servants at the farm of Simel, near the village of Gries, once had the
misfortune to meet them.

The farmer was an excellent manager, and never allowed any of his
servants to be out in the evening after the Angelus had sounded. But
Peter had been a volunteer, during the revolution of 1848, and, as
such, he considered himself entitled to take more liberty than the
others, and to go after hours and pay a visit to his love. One evening,
just as he had arranged to carry out this plan, the farmer, who was
a member of the parish administration, said, after supper, to his
servants, “Now you all go to bed; at two o’clock to-morrow morning I
shall call you, for it has been decided by the Council that we must go
oftener on patrol round about, to keep on the look out for the Welsh
republicans, which are expected in the country, and to shoot them down
wherever they appear, for the sake of preserving order and peace.”

This command anything but pleased Peter, who, however, apparently
obeyed, and went to bed; but soon afterwards he got up very quietly,
and thought to himself, “Long before the clock strikes two I shall be
back;” and then he crept silently through the stables, and hurried
towards the Berghof farm, on the mountain where his sweetheart lived,
to bid her good-bye for ever, should it be necessary, in case he fell
in the war against the Welsh rebels.

He remained till one o’clock at the Berghof, and then he set off home,
running as fast as ever he could, and he had arrived already within
a distance of two or three hundred feet of the Simel farm, when,
just over his head, he caught the sound of suppressed whispering. He
looked about, and lo! all about him, the air and ground was full of
cats, of all colours and shapes, black, white and tricoloured, which
sprang upon him from every direction. Frightened out of his wits, poor
Peter began to pray and cross himself, when all at once the tribe of
cats disappeared; but this release did not last long, for when he
had reached the farm, he found the cats sitting in a swarm round the
entrance-door, and they stopped him from getting in, and against this
no praying, no cross-making could avail, for the cats set up such a
terrific noise, that the poor bewildered fellow lost his senses of
hearing and seeing. He made up his mind, however, to get into the farm
at any risk, and, springing through the cats, he gained the little door
by which he had gone out; but the door was closed, so he was forced
to knock at the great entrance, where he was received by the farmer
himself, who, after giving him a good scolding, concluded his sermon
in these words:--“There is nothing so fine spun but that it comes
always to the sun.”[2]

  [2] “Es ist nichts so fein gesponnen,
       Es kommt immer an die Sonnen.”


Under the mountain, Fliegeralm, which now belongs to the Baron
Steinbach, of Mühlau, used to stand the shop of a locksmith, whose name
was Huis. The hut was situated in a most beautiful position, on the
edge of a rushing mountain torrent, close to the side of a dense and
magnificent forest of fir-trees. The locksmith was an industrious and
fearless man, and the report that during the winter a “Kaser-Mandl”
(a Tyrolian mountain ghost) walked about, could not deter him from
building his house just beneath the Alm; so he went up in the autumn
to fell trees for its construction, about which he set determinedly to

The hut was soon finished, and then the locksmith lighted a large fire
and commenced his business. One evening, while engaged over his work,
he heard footsteps prowling round the hut, and directly afterwards the
door was violently shaken, as though it would be forced in. Huis got
up, and called out, “Who is there?” and then opening the door, he said,
“Well, come in then;” but nobody was to be seen. He went once more to
his work, and again heard the same footsteps about the house; so at
last, becoming uncomfortable, he determined to retire to rest, in order
that he might get up very early in the morning to finish what he was

He laid himself down upon a bundle of hay, on which he soon fell
asleep; but an hour or two afterwards he was awakened by a most
extraordinary noise, and all at once the terrible Alm ghost stood close
beside him, and threw himself instantly upon him, like a big butcher’s
dog, with fiery eyes, and with the fixed intention of tearing his
victim to pieces. But the locksmith brought all his gigantic strength
to bear upon the ghost, and dealt him a blow, which hurled him to a
distance; then, after this victory, he laid down again in another
corner of the hut, and slept peacefully until daybreak; but from that
moment he determined never again to pass the night alone in the hut,
and so he returned every evening to the valley, carrying his work with

He never recounted one single word to any living soul, except his wife,
whom he bound down by the strongest vows never to repeat it to any
mortal being; but a woman’s confidence is but a stage secret, open to
the ears of all who like to listen to it.


It is a well-known fact in the Tyrol that the Jordan chapel, which
stands on the mountain, called Salve, and which is dedicated to St.
John the Baptist, has been founded by a widow, who, out of maternal
weakness, had been the cause of encouraging her only son in all sorts
of wickedness, which he carried so far as to become the chief of a band
of robbers and cut-throats. Too late, the infatuated woman discovered
the crime of which she had been guilty, and, in deep repentance, sought
her son, and, after following him for many days, found him at last on
the top of the Hohe Salve.

She then tried to persuade him to give himself up to justice, but he
was obdurate; until one night, in a dream, the ghastly head of St.
John the Baptist appeared to him; after which he gave himself up to
the authorities, and his head, with those of all his companions, was
chopped off. The guilty mother buried all the heads together, on the
top of the mountain, sold all she had, and devoted it to the erection
of the chapel, which is still standing there.

Other people recount this legend in a different manner; they say that
the brigand had vowed to make a pilgrimage upon the Hohe Salve, if
Heaven would only assist him to rid himself of his evil companions,
and help him to lead again a good life. But, after having obtained the
assistance of Heaven, the brigand forgot his vow, and for that reason
he was compelled after his death to crawl up to the top of the mountain
in the form of a toad, and to enter into the chapel. After a long
time, the poor toad succeeded in climbing the mountain, but at the
entrance of the chapel there were always people who pushed and kicked
him away. At length, however, he succeeded in entering the chapel,
and crawled three times round the altar, after which he was instantly
changed into the form of a handsome man, who addressed the people who
were praying there, telling them of his brigand life and hard penance,
and then he suddenly disappeared from their eyes.


In the days of Maximilian the First, Emperor of Germany, there was a
forester attached to the Court, who was a real “Unhold” (or monster),
of almost supernatural bodily strength, and so much so that he was
generally regarded as a giant. After the Emperor’s death, the forester
left the Court with his only son, who was in every degree the image of
his father, and went into the parish of Kreith, in which, since that
time, fourteen peasants have built their farms, which, for the most
part, are all situated on the Middle Mountain, above the rivers Sill
and Rutz, between meadows, uplands, and forests. At the bottom of the
valley the whirr of a “Säge,” _i.e._ a saw-mill, is constantly to be
heard, which stands on the bridge over the Klausbach, over which the
roads lead on into the Stubeithal.

There a beautiful spring, well protected by a statue of the holy
Nepomuk, offers refreshment and rest to the tired traveller, and about
half a mile further on, the road divides into two, and the left-hand
branch leads off into a charming mountain-path, on each side of which
lies a magnificent forest of Alpine firs and pines, and after a quarter
of an hour’s ascent, one arrives at a rich and thriving farm, which
comprises in its possessions an ancient chapel; but with all this it
bears a very bad name, and is called the “Unholdenhof” (or monster

It was on this self-same spot that the forester and his son took up
their abode, and they became the dread and abomination of the whole
surrounding country, for they practised, partly openly and partly in
secret, the most manifold iniquities, so that their nature and bearing
grew into something demoniacal. As quarrellers very strong, and as
enemies dreadfully revengeful, they showed their diabolical nature by
the most inhuman deeds, which brought down injury, not only on those
against whom their wrath was directed, but also upon their families for
centuries. In the heights of the mountains they turned the beds of the
torrents, and devastated by this means the most flourishing tracts of
land; on other places, the Unholde set on fire whole mountain-forests,
to allow free room for the avalanches to rush down and overwhelm the
farms. Through certain means they cut holes and fissures in the rocks,
in which, during the summer, quantities of water collected, which froze
in the winter, and then in the spring the thawing ice split the rocks,
which then rolled down into the valleys, destroying everything before
them. Some of these terrific rock-falls prepared by them ensued only
some forty or fifty years afterwards.

Through these iniquitous deeds, they gained the dreaded name of
Unholde, which has descended to their abode to the present day; but
at last Heaven’s vengeance reached them. An earthquake threw the
forester’s house into ruins, wild mountain torrents tore over it, and
thunderbolts set all around it in a blaze; and by fire and water, with
which they had sinned, father and son perished, and were condemned to
everlasting torments. Up to the present day, they are to be seen at
nightfall on the mountain, in the form of two fiery boars.

A better generation has built a new farm upon the same spot on which
the old Unholdenhof used to stand; but, against their wish and will,
the new house has kept up the old name, which sometimes changes into
that of Starkenhof, because the wicked foresters were also called “die
Starken” (the strong ones).

The old peasant Hohlenbauer, who still is living in the village
of Mutters, can recount to the traveller a great deal about the
Unholdenhof; and, among other things, he would tell him how one day the
forester, in his stupidity, sold valuable parchments to a child’s-drum
maker of Innsbruck, who, as stupid as he of whom he had bought them,
erased the writing with a stone, and covered little drums with the
priceless documents.


On the main road from the village of Mutters to the hamlet of Götzens
lies a brown wooden hut in the middle of a lovely flowery plain, which
is called the “Broat-Wiese” (broad meadow). The road leads through
dells and valleys, and in passing through this grand and desolate
spot, the traveller is unable to overcome a certain sense of awe,
which overhangs this dreaded spot, particularly should he happen to
pass that way after the shades of evening have fallen. The hut is an
old hay-shed, which has the resemblance of a large dark coffin; close
to this hut stands a little chapel, erected to the memory of a poor
traveller, who was frozen to death on that spot, in the year 1815.

This place is decried and avoided, on account of the fearful
apparition, which is said to wander round the spot; and many a one
who has tried to pass that way during the night has been glad to
return safely back again to the village. Close by lies a dense forest
of fir-trees, the rendezvous of tribes of ravens, which render the
surroundings still more dismal with their ominous croakings. If,
perchance, the traveller hears the cuckoo, he crosses himself, for it
bears in the Tyrol the reputation of being the devil’s own bird, and
the evil one himself, the worst of the phantoms, rejoices in adopting
his voice.

There has frequently been seen upon the plain, close by the hut, which
is called the Kohlerstadl, a fiery wild boar, and many people are of
the opinion that the old monster of the Unholdenhof, of which has been
spoken in the preceding legend, wanders about there in that form, while
others say that this same fiery boar is a devil’s phantom; and there
are numberless people who have seen it.

A rich peasant of Natters, whose name is Klaus Sinnis, went up one day
with his hay-cart to a meadow-valley, called Götzens-Lufens, and as he
passed by the Kohlerstadl it was already growing dark, and night was
coming on very fast. There suddenly the fiery boar rushed before his
horses, which began to rear and kick, and he was unable to get them
on one step further, so that he was compelled to return home with his
empty cart.

A herdsman of Götzens was driving his cows home from Mutters, and close
by the dreaded spot he met the boar, tearing madly round in a circle.
On catching sight of this hideous phantom, the cows set up their tails
and rushed wildly off in every direction, so that most of them fell
down the precipices and were lost.

Others have seen on the same spot black dogs, and heard unearthly
screams and howls which have pierced to their very soul.


It is not very long since that there lived at Imst a butcher, who was
in the habit of catching other people’s sheep on the mountain, to alter
their marks, and, after leaving them to run for some time among his
own herd, either killed or sold them alive. This clever dodge succeeded
very well for some length of time, but at last the butcher died
suddenly, and, after his death, such a terrible ghost was seen several
times in the house, that the family were obliged to move out of it,
until the ghost should be exorcised by the powers of the Holy Church.

The night-watch of Strad was just calling out the twelfth hour, on a
pitch dark night, when all at once two Capuchins approached on the
road, both of whom carried a burning candle, and one of them bore
under his arm a massive volume. Between them walked the form of the
deceased butcher, clad in black, with the high-crowned hat, which he
usually wore when alive, pressed tightly down over his eyes, and his
arms crossed before him. The Capuchins signed the night-watch to step
on one side, which, in his terror, he was only too glad to do. Then
he saw them all three pass through the village of Strad, and take the
post-road to Nassereit, as far as the inn, called ‘Zum Döllinger,’ into
which, however, they did not enter, but turned over the Gurglthal,
towards a klamm, or chasm, through which rushes from the lofty
Andelsberg the torrent of Klammbach.

To that spot numbers of ghosts from the neighbourhood of Imst have been
consigned, and frequently during the stillness of night are heard the
dreadful cries of “Help us. Hoi--hoiiih!”


Matthias Lauter, generally known under the name of “Matz-Lauter,” was
born at Brixen, and used to live on a mountain, near Latzfons. He was
everywhere dreaded, for his sorceries surpassed the power of any other
man to excel. There are still many people living in the neighbourhood
who knew him, and can tell many curious things concerning him. Matz
used to wander about all the country through, because he could never
find rest anywhere, and constantly visited the huts of the peasants,
who willingly gave him all he asked for, to rid themselves of his
company; and sometimes, out of thanks, he showed them a few of his

One day, in the common room of a farm belonging to a well-to-do
peasant, he made in each of the four corners a different sort of
weather at the same moment. In one corner the sun shone, in the second
it was dark, and the wind was whistling gloomily; in the third, soft
warm rain was falling; and in the fourth, a terrific storm of thunder,
lightning, and hail was going on. At another time, he forced fowls,
which were on the opposite side of the Eisach valley, to fly over
to him and lay eggs at his feet, of which he made a present to the
farm-people who had been kind to him.

It was generally believed that his art came from the devil, which,
however, has been contradicted by the fact that he tormented and dared
the old gentleman far more than any one had ever done before, and it
is recounted as perfectly certain that once he forced him to clear
a way through a forest, through which it was impossible for even a
goat to pass, and with such rapidity that he could ride behind on a
fast-galloping horse. Another time he forced his Satanic Majesty to
catch an enormous mountain oak, which he pitched down to him from a
height of four thousand feet.

Matz-Lauter was also much dreaded as a weather-maker, and often boasted
that hating mankind, he took pleasure in harming them; and he confessed
that only the ringing of consecrated bells had any control over his
power, and if round about there had not been the bells of the chapel of
St. Anton, near Feldthurns, those of the church of Laien, the enormous
clock of the chapel of Latzfons, and the shrill sounds of the belfry
of the chapel of St. Peter, a little pilgrimage about two miles from
Latzfons, and a mile or so from his own hut, he would long since have
reversed the huge mountain, which stands over the village of Latzfons,
and buried in its ruins all who lived on or beneath it.

One day Matz-Lauter was found by some huntsman dead on the mountain,
and directly the news spread, every one wanted to climb up and see
his body; but it had disappeared, and even now every peasant of the
neighbourhood is certain that the devil carried off the body of the
sorcerer, after having first claimed his soul.


About six miles from Graun, above the Endkopf, in the dominions of the
Frauenpleiss, which ancient legends report as the residence of several
fairies, lies the Grauner-Alp, which is also called the Vivanna, and
which belongs to the parish of Graun. Jacob Wolf, a huntsman of Graun,
ordinarily called “Kob,” started one evening, towards the close of the
autumn, on a hunting excursion, and climbed up the Vivanna, intending
there to pass the night, so that he might be ready to follow the game
at an early hour on the following morning. He entered the hut which
stands upon the Alp, and after having laid down upon a bundle of dry
grass for his night’s rest, he heard the door slowly open, and a little
old shrunken woman entered, whose attire was very like that of a
Sennin, and who seemed to be quite at home there. She lighted a fire,
took cream and flour from a little hole in the wall, and set to work to
make cakes. As soon as she had finished them, she called out, “Now we
are going to eat, and the one down yonder on the grass must be of the
party too.”

The huntsman was quite frightened and dared not move, but as the little
woman called out a second time with her shrill voice, which sounded
almost like a command, he picked up his courage, and approached the
spot where the old hag was standing. But, oh, terror! at that moment,
in the midst of a most fearful noise, there all at once entered through
the door a whole tribe of spitting, growling, and miauling cats, pigs
and bucks, besides every description of other wild beasts.

The huntsman sprang quickly back into his corner, seized his rifle,
which he had fortunately charged with a crossed bullet, and fired right
into the middle of the devil’s army, which was entirely dispersed in
one moment. No more was either to be seen of the old hag, and her cakes
stood burning before the fire, and smelling of all sorts of fearful
abominations. The huntsman fled from the spot as quickly as ever he
could, and rushed down into the valley, giving up all idea of his
hunting excursion. But in the morning he found out that, in his hasty
retreat, he had left his hunting-sack behind; and so he set off in
broad daylight, accompanied by another man, to the scene of his fearful
adventure, where they found the sack, with all its contents, bitten and
torn to pieces. When recounting this story, Kob always used to say,
“The hell company would have served me the same trick, had I not run
off as quickly as I did.”


At Terenten, in the Pusterthal, lies a farm which is called the
Oberleitner Hof, and its proprietor, who died about twenty years ago,
was known in all the surrounding mountains under the name of “the Old

This old man was a master of the black art, as well as a great
huntsman, who delighted in going over the mountains to the wild rocky
valley of the Stillupp and Floiten, in pursuit of stone bucks, of which
he killed numbers; and he had indeed carried his infatuation so far
that there is not one now to be seen in the whole neighbourhood.

One day he was out with a fellow-huntsman, quite on the top of the
mountain, and all at once he said to him, “Look there, my wife is just
preparing the dinner, and as she is not in a good temper to-day we must
try and be home in time, or else we shall catch a scolding.”

“But how can that be possible,” answered the other, “since we have more
than a day and a half’s journey before we can reach home?”

“Never mind that,” replied the Oberleitner; and as the housewife served
the dinner, the two huntsmen entered the room at the same moment as all
the farm people. Of course, this never happened in a natural way; but
how it came to pass no one can say. Though everybody of the district
believes firmly that it was an example of Oberleitner’s ability.

Upon one of the farm-buildings of the Oberleitner Hof is still to
be seen, up to the present day, an old roughly-painted picture,
which represents an incident in the life of the former proprietor of
the farm. Oberleitner was working in an adjoining field, when he
caught sight of several fine stags on the distant Alp, called the
Eidechsspitze. He ordered his servant to run home and fetch his rifle,
but the man laughingly replied, “They will have time to run away a
hundred times before you can reach them.”

“Oh!” said the Oberleitner, “I have fixed them there surely enough.”
And, in fact, there they remained upon the same spot until he arrived
on the top of the mountain, where he quietly shot them all down, one
after the other.


For centuries past it has been the custom that on the Brenner Alp a
tailor should live, for the purpose of mending the clothes of the
teamsters who pass along that deserted road, on their way to or from
Italy. Not long since, one of these men who occupied the hut left it
to go and set up business in the inn, called ‘Schöllerwirthshaus,’
about three miles distant from the Brenner post-house. When not
otherwise employed, he occupied his time in rolling heavy stones down
into the valley below, knocking to pieces the carts of the teamsters,
and killing the horses or men, so that the poor fellows were generally
forced to stop at the inn, and when on their arrival, they complained
or lamented about their misfortune, the tailor sympathized with them,
while taking the occasion to cheat them the more in selling them bad
cloth, instead of good, and at much higher prices than were to be
had at Brixen or Stertzing, saying that the higher they went up the
mountain, the shorter was the wood, as they could see on the trees, and
so it was the same with his tailor’s yard.

This tailor died suddenly, and, as penance for his crimes, he was
obliged to walk in ghostly form between the Brenner post-house and
the Schöllerwirthshaus, and even as far down as Gossensass, where he
practised many a cruel trick, and still made stones roll down upon the
road. At last the harm he did was so great that the teamsters found
themselves forced to apply to some Capuchins of Stertzing to banish the
ghost. The Capuchins ascended the mountain, and banished him for the
winter to the Zirock Alp, while for the summer they consigned him to
the mountain called Hühnerspielspitze, which is plainly visible from
Stertzing, and from whose peak he often cries so loudly that he is to
be heard in the whole valley down below, “Ah! is then the last day not
yet near? Ah! if only the last day would soon arrive.”

The ghost is forced to roll a great number of stones down into the
valley, and every one of those stones he is obliged to carry up again
on his shoulders. One day an old herdsman placed upon one of these
stones a stick, upon which he had cut a cross, and when the ghost found
it he threw it on one side and rolled the stone on. When the herdsman
found his stick again, several days afterwards, there were five
finger-marks burned into it.


To the east of Frastanz, upon the boundaries of Feldkirch, lies a
chain of mountains, leading southwards towards the principality of
Lichtenstein, out of which range rise three lofty bare grey jagged
mountain peaks, which form the boundary marks of the country, and bear
the name of “the Three Sisters,” to which are joined the Frastanz Alps.

Towards the end of the last century, a Venediger-Manndl used to come
every year into that country, for the purpose of picking up gold, of
which large quantities were to be found, especially in the forest
valley of Samina, which is situated between the Three Sisters and
the Ziegerberg. The Manndl used to fly through the air from Venice,
carrying a large jar, which he put under a mountain spring, which
threw up gold grains from a subterranean river, and when the jar was
full he flew off with it home again. As a proof, he once showed the
jar full of gold to some herdsmen, who were pasturing their cows
in the neighbourhood; but they would not be taken in, and so they
crossed themselves and let the Venetian go, for they knew that he was a
sorcerer, who practised his arts through supernatural power, like all
Venediger-Manndl used to do.

At that time, there lived at Frastanz three sisters, who upon a great
_fête_ day, instead of going to mass, set out very early in the morning
to climb the mountain, for the purpose of gathering strawberries,
which grew there in quantities, with the intention of selling them
in the afternoon at Feldkirch. Upon the mountain they met the
Venediger-Manndl, who indignantly and furiously asked them, “What are
you doing here to-day?” The girls were terrified, for their consciences
reproached them for having neglected their duty on such a great _fête_
day, for the sake of gaining a little money, and they answered,
“Nothing, nothing.” Then the sorcerer replied, with a voice towering
with passion, “Well, then, you shall turn into nothing, nothing but
bare rocks, without grass or leaf, without tree or fruit, and beneath
you shall be hidden my golden wealth, which no mortal being shall ever
succeed in finding.” At the same moment the three girls were turned
into stone, for the sorcerer, in gaining power over them by their
crime, redeemed himself, and delivered them in his stead to the evil

There still stand the Three Sisters, touching the clouds as three
mountain peaks; but the Venetian has never been seen again, and his
wealth-stream is said to have been dried up. The Three Sisters look
solemnly down upon the upper part of the valley, called Rheinthal, upon
Vaduz, and the country of Lichtenstein.


The beautiful and charming surroundings of the village of Algund and
the castle of Tirol, which stands above it, are still called the “Rose
Garden of King Laurin.”

Laurin was the name of a King of the dwarfs; he was old and wise, as
well as mild and kind, and he had a daughter, who was as amiable
and beautiful as a fairy, or “Salige.” This lovely Princess wished
to have a garden, and begged her father to give her some ground in
the light of the sun, for the King lived in a crystal castle, deep in
the interior of the mountain, which crowns the old castle of Tirol.
The good father granted his daughter’s wish, who now set to work to
exterminate all weeds and evil plants from the plain which her father
had given her, and planted it with all sorts of rose-trees. In this
manner her Rosen-Garten became so beautiful, that up to the present day
its aspect renders the weary traveller happy, and causes him to forget
for the time all pains and griefs, should he have any. So that every
one might enjoy the beauties of her garden, she would not have walls,
but surrounded it with gold tissue ribbons.

When and how this peaceful and joyous reign came to an end, the legend
does not say; but the neighbourhood still remains a “Gottesgarten” (or
paradise), although King Laurin and his beautiful daughter are no more
to be seen; only the indisputable fact of their former existence lives
fresh and green in the memory of all inhabitants of the surrounding
country. Close to the village of Tirol, a dwarf is said to be still
residing, whose comic name is Burzinigala, or Burzinigele. Another
resides upon the mountain called Mutkopf, behind the same village,
who chants in moonlight nights the following song to his native
meadows:--“I am so grey, I am so old, that I remember thee three times
as meadow-land, and three times as forest.”[3]

[3] “I bin so grau,
     I bin so alt,
     Denk di dreimal als Wies’,
     Und dreimal als Wald!”

Some people say that King Laurin on leaving his castle went to fight
against giants and dwarfs in the country from Tirol’s Rosengarten,
down to the charming Lago del Gardo, and towards Verona, where he was
ultimately baptized, and became a Christian.


Near Kramsach, in the Under-Inn valley, on the spot where the
Brandenberg Achenthal commences, lie on the Middle Mountain some small
lakes, and above the farms called Mösern and Freundsheim, about three
miles above Kramsach, stands another beautiful lake, close beneath the
Mooswand mountain, and above the lake is still to be seen the ruin of
an old stronghold, called the Gruckenbühl. The daughter of the last
Baron who resided there was passionately fond of a poor forester, and
when the proud and cruel Baron came to hear of the secret rendezvous
between his daughter and the huntsman, he ordered him, one pitch-dark
night, to be chased out of the castle by the hounds, and, in the hurry
of the flight, the poor fellow fell over a rock into the See, and was

After this act of cruelty and injustice, the poor girl wandered about
silent and abstracted, and would neither enter into any amusement,
nor take part in any ordinary pursuit of life. One day she went with
her maid down to the lake, and, as she looked into its gloomy depths,
she saw the dead body of her lover, and, in the frenzy of grief, she
threw herself down into the water. The maid ran home recounting this
misfortune, and when the wicked Baron, with all his retinue, arrived on
the borders of the lake, neither the body of his poor daughter nor that
of the forester were to be found. The two lovers had been changed into
rocks, both of which rise out of the lake, like little islands; the one
overgrown with ferns and water weeds, and the other bare as a polished
piece of granite.


Between Reshen and Nauders lies the Tendres Farm, and the old farmer,
who is still living there, recounts the following tale:--

“In my younger days a Venediger-Manndl used to arrive here every year
towards the autumn, dressed in dreadfully ragged black clothes, just
like a beggar, who always passed the night in my farm, and left on the
following morning in the direction of the Green Lake, towards the Swiss
frontier, and returned here again in the evening.

“As I could never comprehend what the little beggar was doing here
every year, and as in the same day he could neither reach huts nor
farms, where he could get something by begging, I followed him one day,
and found him on the borders of the Green Lake, close to a fountain,
busily occupied in taking sand out of a wooden trough, into which the
spring was running, and putting it into his sack.

“I thought to myself, ‘Wait, my little fellow, I will lighten that work
for you, and empty the trough before you return again; if the sand is
of some value, I also can make some use of it, and if it were of no
value, you certainly would never come here from so far to fetch it.’ In
the following year, towards the autumn, I went to the spring, removed
the stone slab from the trough, and found it full of gold sand, which
was very heavy. I set off with it directly to Venice, to offer it for
sale to a rich merchant, who was astonished at the sight of the sand;
and said, ‘Oh! you rich man, I have not money enough to buy all that
gold; but go down into that street, and you will find a large house
shut up; knock at the door, and the richest man of Venice will let you
in, and buy the treasure of you.’

“As I approached the house, a distant voice shouted to me out of one
of the windows, ‘Tendres Farmer, bring here your gold.’ I could not
make out who could know me, far as I was from my own country, and, as
I entered the palace, I was dazzled with the magnificence and riches
which everywhere met my eyes. In a splendid chamber, on an armchair
of pure gold, was sitting the little beggar, who had so often passed
the night in my farm. He arose as I entered, and, shaking his finger
menacingly at me, said, ‘You have not acted honestly in clearing out my
trough; but, since you have so often sheltered and fed me, I will give
you a day’s pay for the gold, which is my own.’ Then he gave me a gold
coin for each day I had been on my journey, after which he held a glass
before my eyes, in which I saw Tendres, my wife and children working
in the field; in one word, everything as clearly as though I was myself
standing in the farm. Then he turned the glass, and I saw the well on
the Green Lake with the gold trough, and, after having passed his hand
over the glass, he said, ‘Now go home, and you will never again find
fountain or trough.’

“And so it happened indeed, for when I reached home, and went down to
the Green Lake, it was impossible for me to discover one single trace
of the Gold Spring.”


At the foot of the gigantic mountain peak on which stands the
Sonnenwendjoch, a chalk Alp, over 8000 feet high, stand the hamlets of
Brixlegg, Mehrn, and Zimmermoos, upon a lovely plain, from which the
Achen rushes down into the valley, and works the lead, silver, and tin
foundries, which are the most important of the whole Tyrol. On that
spot a fairy used to reside.

Close by lies the little town of Rattenberg, above which used to stand
a magnificent stronghold, of which there are now but a few picturesque
ruins to be seen. One day the young Baron of the little castle of Mehrn
went hunting upon the charming green mountain side, and as in the
pursuit of his game he had approached the Sonnenwendjoch, he caught
sight of the fairy of the mountain. To see her and fall deeply in love
with her was the work of a moment, and the fairy also returned his
affection, for the handsome young Baron pleased her. The fairy, who was
a guardian of Alpine animals, ordered the youth never to pursue one of
them again if he wished her to take any notice of him. Then she led
him into her dominions, in which there were endless magnificent things
to be seen--gardens of never-fading flowers; deep, clear fountains;
meadows, upon which animals were peacefully browsing; and grottoes
supported by crystal columns, and whose roofs and walls were like
mirrors. They then became engaged, and the Baron received from the
fairy a ring as gage of her favour

After that he often went out under the pretence of hunting, but never
brought home any game; at which every one was astonished, because he
was noted as a good shot and clever huntsman, and had already killed
many bears and boars with his dagger alone. Every one was surprised,
too, to see that he avoided all the surrounding castles, and seemed to
have made up his mind to remain unmarried. Meanwhile, it happened that
in the castle of Rattenberg a wedding took place, to which the lord
also invited his friend the Baron of Mehrn; and, as it was impossible
for him to decline this invitation, he attended the wedding to his
great grief, for there he met a young lady of Innsbruck who entangled
him in her toils, and pleased him so much that he gave her the fairy’s
ring which she had noticed glittering on his finger.

Overcome by shame and remorse at his infidelity, he went on the
following morning to the Sonnenwendjoch, where he saw a white doe
bounding before him. At that sight the old love of hunting awoke
in him, and he pursued the animal to a well-known spot, where, by
knocking with his ring, a door in the rock sprang open which led to
the entrance of the fairy’s empire. There the youth stood rooted to
the ground with terror, for he had not the ring; and suddenly the fairy
herself appeared before him, dignified and haughty, not in anger, but
in deep grief. She held the ring in her delicate hand, and said in a
low sad voice: “You are unfaithful. You have sworn always to think
but of me; never to give my ring to another; never to pursue one of
my animals, and you have thrice broken your oath. Farewell!”--and in
saying so she disappeared from before his eyes.

The Baron had scarcely left the spot when a huge rock rolled down the
mountain with the noise of thunder and covered a large portion of the
valley with its _débris_. After that the young man became sad and
dejected and left the country, and people say that he went to the Holy
Land, from which he has never returned.


At the foot of the Ischürgant mountain, near Imsh, stands a stone
hut, called the Hirnhutte, because it had been erected by a former
wood merchant whose name was Hirn, as a resting-place for his woodmen
when he was felling timber on the banks of the torrent Pigersbach.
This place is regarded with horror on account of a terrible shade
which wanders from the Pigersbach upwards through an immense forest of
gigantic oaks, and then passes over Strad up to the dense forest of
firs which lies beyond.

This apparition, which is generally called the Pigerpütz, appears as a
headless black form, or tears through the air in the shape of a flame
which is sometimes larger and sometimes smaller, sometimes lighter
and sometimes darker, and which often has been seen to rise above the
ground expanding as it goes to the height of sixty feet and more.

In the year 1849 it happened that four peasants set out during the
night from Imst to Tarenz, and as they walked along the Pigersbach
which flowed on their right through mossy plains, they saw a brilliant
flame floating across their path. “There goes the Pigerpütz,” said one
of the men, and the others who were a little hot from the wine which
they had taken at Imst, began to laugh and sneer at him; but they had
scarcely done so ere the flame rushed upon them, and as they saw this
the three tipsy men ran off as fast as their legs could carry them, but
the one who had first seen and spoken of the Pigerpütz stood firmly on
the spot. He was the peasant banker of Tarenz, who is still alive and
recounts his adventure thus:--

“I stood firm and let him approach, and, by my soul, he really came on
and grew to the size of a haystack as he approached. Then I said to
him: ‘I shall never help you; for if you had led a better life, and not
committed so many crimes, you would not now be obliged to wander about
in this form. Now off with you!’ And then, by my soul, he really fled
away over the Pigersbach.”


Where the lovely Piller-See now lies, with its green rippling waters
about one and a half miles long by three-quarters wide, close to the
village of St. Ulrich, there used to stand one of the most beautiful
and most fertile Alps of the whole Tyrol, belonging formerly to several
peasants, who pastured large herds of animals upon it. They were rich
in cows, and grass, and had their beautiful Alp besides to depend upon;
so they were the happiest and wealthiest peasants in all the world. But
instead of being grateful to Heaven for all its blessings, they became
vain, thinking only of amusement and dancing, and every Sunday and
fête-day they passed in all sorts of frivolous pleasures. The Alp soon
assumed the appearance of a heathen garden, and all those who paid no
regard to the opinion of the world flocked there to enjoy their guilty

The dissolute villagers wanting one day to play at their favourite
game of nine-pins, and having neither balls nor pins, seized upon
the beautiful alpine which they found in a farm close by, ready for
the morrow’s market, and turned it to the purposes of their game;
but suddenly the shed in which they were amusing themselves began to
give way, and all the surrounding ground, together with the adjacent
mountains, sank beneath their feet. Upon whatever spot they trod the
earth slipped from under them, and out of the earth water sprang, and
every one of them was drowned in the new-formed lake. Only a musician
who had been forced against his will to climb the Alp and play to them
was saved, for, sitting on his chair, he was driven to the borders of
the lake by the swelling current.

This lake is now called the “Piller-See,” which in certain places is
fathomless. One day some people tried to measure its depth, when they
heard a hollow voice proceeding from the bottom of the See, calling

  “If you fathom me, I swallow you.”[4]

  [4] Ergründest Du mich,
      So verschling’ ich Dich.

This, like many other of the Tyrolian lakes, is supposed to have
the power of dragging into its fathomless depths all those who are
unfortunate enough to fall asleep on its fatal shores.


A poor widow of Rattenberg, who was blessed with a large family, had
been, through endless misfortunes, reduced to such a pitch of poverty
that she only had left of all her possessions a small wood in the
valley of Scheibenthal, which is close to Rattenberg. A wicked-hearted
wretch took advantage of her troubles to try and prove that the wood
was his own property, and by means of false witnesses and many failures
of justice matters were driven so far that the unfortunate widow had to
give up the wood, and died of grief soon afterwards. The children were
taken care of by good neighbours, and when they were strong enough they
were obliged to go out to service, and soon no more was heard of the

Everything would have been forgotten had there not been One in whose
remembrance all lives; and up to the present day the crime of the
forest thief is constantly recalled through the circumstance that
burning trunks often roll down through the wood, sending sparks in all
directions, sometimes assuming the terrific appearance of a forest
fire. But this dreadful phenomenon is ascribed to the fact that the
wicked man, with his vile companions who had robbed the poor widow of
her wood, have been condemned to burn in the forest which they stole,
under the form of fiery pines, and roll in their agony through the
forest, vainly seeking to release themselves from their everlasting


Under the summit of the Jaufen, a mountain in Passeier, about 8000
feet high, used to reside a fairy who fell passionately in love with
a young Baron of the castle of Jaufenburg, which lies at the foot of
the aforesaid mountain, and was formerly the residence of the lords
of Passeier. But whether the heart of the Baron was no longer free,
or whether the fairy’s love frightened him, cannot be said; but he
never responded to the attention of his fairy admirer, who took his
coolness so much to heart that she pined away and transformed herself
into a beggar woman, in which form she wandered along all the lanes and
passes through which the Baron generally took his way, the image of
injury and grief. One day she hid herself in a chalk-burner’s hut at
which the Baron often stopped, as the man had been his former servant.
When the young nobleman arrived and asked for a draught of water, the
transformed fairy brought it to him after having dropped a pearl into
the glass. While the Baron drank, the fairy assumed her real form, and
now she appeared to him most beautiful, for the pearl had bewitched the
water so that it coursed through his whole frame like fire, inspiring
him with a never-before-felt sensation. The beautiful cup-server who
stood before him seemed the acme of his ideal. He set her before him on
his charger and galloped off to the Jaufenburg.

But a wonderful thing came to pass; his beautiful bride suddenly
disappeared from his side, and he could not imagine where she had gone.
He rode day and night and never reached his castle. The poor exhausted
charger at last fell beneath the weight of his infatuated master, and
died. Then the Baron sought his home on foot, but without avail; he
found himself in a strange country where he knew nobody and nobody knew
him. He became so poor that he was obliged to sell his rich attire, and
at last was forced to beg his way through the country. Miserable, weak,
and ill, he reached one evening the hut of the smith in the Kalmthal,
where, half dead with hunger and exposure, he fell down upon a heap of

The fairy now saw good to bring to an end the hard penance which she
had imposed upon him for his first slighting of her. She appeared to
him again in all her grace and splendour. All his magnificent attire
was restored to him; his charger stood waiting for him at the door of
the hut, and all the hardship through which he had passed appeared
to him but as a dreadful dream. He now conducted his fairy bride
back to the Jaufenburg, united himself to her for ever, and lived
happy and blessed, though without any heir. After his death the fairy
disappeared, and the Jaufenburg descended by marriage to the family Von
Fuchs, and, later on, the beautiful castle fell into the hands of a
rich peasant and crumbled to ruins under his keeping.


Close beneath the mountain Gerlos, in the Zillerthal, lies the
“Wetter-See” (weather-lake), into which no one dares to throw a stone,
and it is not advisable for even a stranger to do so, or he would find
himself involved in great trouble from the surrounding mountaineers,
among whom still exists the firm belief, which has been corroborated by
hundreds of examples, that directly a stone has been thrown into the
lake fearful thunderstorms arise, accompanied by devastating hail and

The See lies in a desolate basin on the heights of the mountains, and
every one who is shown the lake hears from his guide, or any cowherd,
the following legend: A shepherd arrived one day on the borders of
the See, where he saw a huge golden chain lying, the other end of
which remained in the water. Just as he stooped to grasp it he saw,
glittering on the other side of the lake, one of much larger size, so
he left the first to go and take the other; but as he approached it
and was about to put his hand upon it, both chains disappeared under
the water, while the poor fellow stood stupefied with amazement on the

People say that “the herdsman was too avaricious; for, had he been
content with the one chain which was within his grasp, he would never
have lost them both.” As the chains are said to appear from time to
time, people are still on the look-out for them, because they are of
such enormous length that he who finds one of them would be rich during
all his days.


In the Wattenserthal, which is about twenty miles in length, and where
at its end the Hochlizum Alp stands, lies on the right of the mountain
the beautiful Wotz Mountain, belonging to the farmer of Zotta-Hof,
which stands at its foot. Upon that mountain, during the winter time,
a “Kaser-Manndl” (a sort of ghost) is said to reside. This spirit
inhabits a hut which is situated on the top of the mountain, from
whence he makes a terrific noise, which is heard for miles around;
but towards Christmas he becomes more quiet and goes off again in the
spring. Before his departure a blackbird sings during many days, from a
pine which stands on the mountain, so beautifully that one could listen
to her for hours together.

Now it happened that in the house of the Zotta peasant a poor servant
girl was employed whose mother was very ill. As Christmas Day
approached she had to clean up the whole house, and on the Eve the
farmer divided the Christmas-cake between his family and servants;
and while he enjoyed his portion in company with his friends and
neighbours, one of them asked: “What is the Kaser-Manndl about to-day?
I wonder whether he is fêting Christmas as well?” The farmer, who
had been drinking considerably, shouted in good humour: “I will give
the best cow out of my herd to whomever has the courage to go up the
mountain to-night and find out what the Kaser-Manndl is doing, and
brings me back in proof his milking-bucket and foot-warmer.”

But all heard this proposition in silence, for none of them dared risk
so much danger to gain the cow, because the Kaser-Manndl was noted for
his ferocity, and many a one had returned from his neighbourhood with
a head almost smashed to pieces. But the poor servant girl collected
her courage and thought to herself: “I will undertake it in God’s name.
Should I gain the cow, I shall be able to help my poor sick mother,
and as I have not the intention of going out of curiosity, Heaven will
protect me.” So she agreed with the Zotta farmer, and set off up the
Alp, which is a constant ascent of six miles, battling with bitter
wind and snow as she went.

Far above her she saw the Kaser, or hut, brilliantly lighted.
Everything in it was clean to perfection, and the Kaser-Manndl was
sitting in his Sunday clothes at the hearth, his nose-warmer smoked in
his mouth, and he was cooking in a pan a coal-black meal. On entering
the hut the girl made as fine a curtsey as a peasant girl is able to
do, and the Manndl signed to her to approach the fire and join him at
his supper; but the girl was terrified at the sight of the compound,
and when the Manndl noticed this he said, “Do not be frightened, girl;
make only a ‘Krizl Krazl’ (a sign of the Cross) over the pan.” The girl
did this, and to her great astonishment the pan became full of the most
beautiful cakes, which they both set to work to eat.

After a little while the Kaser-Manndl said, “I know the request
you wish to ask. You have come to carry off my milking-bucket and
foot-warmer. You shall have them without the asking, for you are a
brave girl, and when you arrive at the farm you will claim of the
peasant his cow together with the calf as punishment for having allowed
you to come up in such fearful weather.”

The Zotta peasant was just setting out for the midnight mass as his
servant returned from the Alp with her proofs, and when she claimed the
cow he called her a stupid fool for having gone up the Alp and taken
his joke as reality, and he would not give her one _pfennig_, much less
the cow.

On the following morning there was a grievous Christmas-gift at the
Zotta-Hof: the Robblerin, the finest cow, lay dead in the stable, and
the farmer nearly tore off all his hair with grief, for this cow had
been his favourite and had carried the first prize at every show, for
which reason he had given her the name of “Robblerin,” or champion.
“Had you given the cow to me,” said the poor injured girl to her
master, “she would not have died. Will you now keep your word and give
me another?” But the farmer savagely refused this demand.

On the following morning they found that another beautiful cow, named
“Maierin,” had strangled herself with her chain. On the next day a
third cow was found dead, and only now the peasant’s hard heart began
to melt, for he was fearful lest he might lose his whole herd, and
therefore he gave the finest remaining cow to the girl, who directly
drove her off home; and from that moment poverty came to an end in the
house of the courageous servant girl, who prayed day and night for the
redemption of the Kaser-Manndl of the Wotz-Alm.


In the Hinder Passeier lies the village of Moos, about which, on
account of the frequent accidents that there take place by people
falling over the adjacent precipice, the following saying is common in
the Tyrol: “At Moos even cats and vultures break their necks.”[5]

[5] Zu Moos zerschellen selbst die Katzen und Geier.

In 1401 a part of the mountain standing about a mile from the village
fell down into the valley, buried the farm called Erlhof under its
_débris_, and caused the water running through the valley to collect
and form a large “see,” or lake, which through its inundations created
so much _Kummer_ or grief in the valley that it received from the
inhabitants the name of “Kummer-See” (Lake of grief).

The legend goes that after the mountain by the will of God had been
cloven, and the Kummer-See formed by the power of the Evil One, a
“Klausenmann,” or sluiceman, was set there to look after the lake, and
warn the neighbours in time, were it impossible to let the water off.
But for this work a pious man was needed, whose prayers alone would
keep the swelling waters within bounds; for the devil used to bathe in
the lake, and made such a fearful noise that he could be heard even
as far down as Moos. The villagers made frequent pilgrimages for the
purpose of being preserved from the calamities caused by this dreaded
See; but as after a time they omitted this practice, the most fearful
inundations ensued, leaving everywhere behind them ruin and desolation.

The Klausenmann, too, became so corrupted that he forgot all his
religious duties, never went to church, and always worked on Sundays
and fête-days; so the Demon of Evil once more gained power and
there was another terrific inundation which transformed the whole
Passeier-Thal into a vast ocean, entered into the Etsch-Thal, and
destroyed a great part of the village of Meran. In this flood the
wicked Klausenmann perished, and after his death his wretched spirit
was consigned to wander about on the shores of the See, which has since
dried up, and in its place now stands a desolate swamp.

The modern traveller meets on his road round the former site of the
See, a rock called z’ Gsteig, upon which pious hands have erected a
chapel. There, as evening falls, fearful groans are often to be heard,
while the terrible shade of the Klausenmann rushes by the sacred spot.


After traversing the valley of the Almajur, which sends its waters into
the river Lech, one arrives at the Boden-Alp, which, together with
the mountain called Almajur, belongs to the village of Stanz. Upon the
Almplace of the Boden used to stand in days gone by a beautiful village
which had become, through the neighbouring silver mines belonging to
it, immensely rich. The inhabitants in course of time grew so luxurious
that they did not know what to do with their wealth, and it came into
their heads to fill their houses with all sorts of utensils of gold and
silver. They even kept their windows shut during the day, for the light
of God’s beautiful sun was not good enough for them, and preferred in
their iniquity to burn candles in massive silver candlesticks. The
patience of Heaven regarded this crime for very long, hoping, perhaps,
that the folly would outwork itself; but as it only increased the more,
the Lord proceeded with his just punishment. The whole village with
its church and people sank beneath the earth, and the once flourishing
valley became a desolate wilderness.

About forty years ago a herdboy of Boden went about in the underwood
seeking for a lost calf, when all of a sudden he ran up against a large
iron cross which was standing out from the ground. This was the cross
on the tower of the sunken church. He tried to drag it up and cleared
away the surrounding bushes; there he discovered the coping stones of
the tower, on which the cross was so firmly planted that he could not
move it; and when he returned on the following day with several other
people to dig it out, it was no longer to be seen.

Not many years ago a peasant of Hegerau in the Lech-Thal, whose name
was Klotz, passed by that mountain and entered into a sort of tunnel
through the rock, where, on account of the bad weather, he took
shelter. He lighted a torch to discover the depth of the tunnel, and
in walking on he suddenly found himself in the sunken church. The high
altar was gorgeously lighted, and the candles stood in large silver
lustres. The peasant walked about in the church, and found a man
sleeping on one of the benches, who as he awoke him inquired the time,
and when the peasant told him, he sighed and said, “Ah! it is still far
from the time.”

What he meant by these words remains still an enigma, but the peasant
seized one of the silver lustres from the altar and ran off in terror.
He arrived home late at night carrying the lustre, and would have
believed all as a dreadful dream, had he not the lustre with him as
witness. He went to rest, and on the following morning he was dead. His
wife ordered the lustre to be carried back to its place, but it was
impossible to find again the entrance of the underground church.


In Lofer, a hamlet on the Tyrolian frontier towards Salzburg, lived a
rich peasant who on his death left behind him three daughters, of whom
the youngest was totally blind. The mother was long since dead, and so,
after the demise of their father, the three orphans set about dividing
the money and property which he had left to them. They found so large
a treasure in the old man’s coffers that they were obliged to divide
it by means of a sieve, by which the two eldest girls shamefully took
advantage of the infirmity of their poor sister to cheat her of her
share. Each time the blind sister’s turn came round they reversed the
sieve and covered only the bottom with money, so that the poor deluded
girl in placing her hand upon it should be convinced that she received
her right share.

In this way, of course, she never got even a hundredth part of what was
her due, and after the division was finished the avaricious sisters
hid their unjustly gained wealth in a secret hole in a rock on the
mountain. But the All-seeing Eye of Heaven remains ever open, and on
the death of the two sisters they were condemned to lie in the form
of black ferocious dogs in the cavern and to guard their hidden and
ill-gotten treasure. There they are chained until their unholy wealth
is exhausted by those who succeed in approaching it and take of it only
so much as they really want; for all who attempt to carry off more
are immediately seized upon by the infuriated guardians and torn into
atoms. But as there are few in the world who are contented with real
necessities, the treacherous sisters will doubtless be compelled to sit
over their unjustly-gained wealth for many ages to come.


Where now lies the beautiful lake in the Puster-Thal with its rippling
green waters, three magnificent farms used to stand surrounded by
expanses of rich and fertile ground.

One year, when the Kermesse was being celebrated, on which day every
one indulges in something more than usual, an old beggar man arrived
in each of the farms and asked for charity, begging even for any dry
morsels that remained from their meal. But the peasants were one and
all selfish and avaricious, and so they kicked the poor mendicant from
the door. The beggar then said in anger to each of them: “Take care!
in three days a spring shall rise behind your farm, and then your eyes
will open; so look to what will happen!”

The peasants, however, cared little for the beggar’s threat, and
laughed at him; but on the third day a spring arose behind each
farm, and their united waters increased to such an extent that they
soon formed a lake which devoured in its depth the farms and their

This is the Antholzer-See, also called Spitaler Hochsee, which now
stands surrounded by dark forests of gigantic pines.


At Brixen still stands the magnificent ancestral castle of the Lords
von Lachmüller--one of the most ancient families of the Tyrolian
nobility. In the old picture gallery of this deserted mansion, the
ghost of one of the knights whose portraits still hang there, wanders

During the time of the French invasion in 1797, a French officer was
quartered in the castle with several soldiers. On account of the
numerous family of the proprietor, there were but a few small chambers
vacant in the building, and as the officer was not contented with
the room which had been allotted to him, he roughly demanded one
larger and with finer site. But there was only the picture gallery
left, in which the officer took up his abode, laughing and sneering
at the warnings given him by the host that the corridor was said to
be haunted. The strong-headed fellow took every precaution to guard
himself against either natural or supernatural apparition, and after he
had ordered a strong trooper to lie down close beside him, he went to
sleep devoid of any fear.

But, as he awoke at midnight, he saw a knight in full attire standing
before him, who regarded him most ferociously. The officer shouted
at him, but, as he stood his ground and paid no heed, he transfixed
the form with his long sharp sword, which lay unsheathed beside him.
At this instant, the apparition stretched out his arms, seized the
officer, and hugged him so closely and long, that he lost his breath.

The trooper awoke late in the morning, and, on finding his master
dying, he summoned all the inhabitants of the castle, to whom the
officer, who came to himself again, recounted in a feeble voice what
had happened to him, and pointed out one of the ancestral portraits as
the being who had appeared before his bed and hugged him so fearfully.
Two hours afterwards he died.


At the foot of the Fern Alp, about two miles from Nassereit, lies a
small deep green Alpine See, and on a rock, which overhangs it, stands
the old castle of Sigmundsburg. Beneath the walls of the castle are
deep vaults, hewn in the solid rock, in which is buried an incalculable
treasure, whose guardian has the form of a big hairy black dog.
Sometimes, too, the dog appears like a luminous mass, without, however,
burning; in his mouth he holds a key, which opens the door of the
treasure-room, but the conditions on which the treasure can be got at
are unknown to any one. Besides, the cellar is so well guarded that it
is very difficult to approach it; and people say that most probably the
Sigmundsburg must fall into ruins before the cellar can be entered,
and then only the treasure-guardian may have the chance of finding
the redemptor, for whom he is already so long waiting; but before that
moment arrives, two centuries will perhaps still have to elapse.


The “Hochalp” (or High Alp), near Scharnitz, was some two centuries
ago covered up to the top with the finest grass and woods, and the now
cleared Fitzwald was the most beautiful forest in the whole Tyrol. It
reached up to the very summit of the mountain, which was covered with
such enormous trees, that three men could not encompass one of them
with their arms; in one word, the Hochalp was a “Cow-Heaven,” as it was
generally called by the peasants. Where now the sheep climb about, at
that time there were but cows pastured, and the cattle thrived there
better than anywhere else.

The Alp belonged to a rich peasant of Leutasch, named Simele, who had
two sons, who, after his death, commenced a serious quarrel about which
of them was to have the Alp. The younger brother was a good man, but
the other was a real wretch; and, as they could not agree, they drew
lots for the Alp, which fell to Johann, the younger of the two.

After this he married a good village girl, whom his brother Matz had
set his eyes upon, and from whom he had received a refusal. Johann
lived happily with his wife, while his brother boiled over with bitter
spite, and month after month his determination of seeking revenge
increased. He commenced a law suit, finding false witnesses, and swore
a false oath, so that the Court declared the drawing invalid, and
awarded the Alp to Matz.

Whilst all this was going on, Johann was busy on the Alp, and so heard
nothing of the judgment; and as his brother entered fiercely into the
hut, and tried to pitch him out of it, he defended himself until his
herdsmen arrived, who chased him away, after having beaten him soundly.
At this reception Matz foamed with rage; so, running home, he seized
his gun, crept in the following night back to the hut in which his
brother was sleeping, and shot him dead in his bed.

But Johann’s soul was scarcely out of his body, when God’s wrath
appeared and fearfully punished the perjurer and fratricide. A terrible
storm came on with lightning, thunder, snow, hail, and wild pouring
rains, so that everything was overthrown and inundated. After that an
earthquake convulsed the ground, and on both sides the mountains fell
into the valley, covering the Alm huts and meadows more than sixty feet
deep with _débris_. The murderer was swallowed among the falling rocks,
and is condemned to suffer dreadfully beneath them. He is still heard
very often shrieking in agony, and all the pilgrimages which his family
have made for his redemption have been in vain.

As nobody could do anything with the valley covered with rocks and
stones, the decried spot fell into the hands of the monastery of
Werdenfels, and wherever it was possible, the monks have restored
cultivation, so that new forests and meadows have in course of time
sprung up upon the ruins of the once famous Alp.

A beautiful little chapel has been erected there, in which several
times during the course of the year service is performed; but the
spirit of the murderer still wanders around and groans so dreadfully
during the night, that every one is terrified. There he must remain
until the last day, and what will happen to him then God alone knows.


One of the most beautiful and noted Alps in the Tyrol is the
Seisser-Alp, in the Eisack valley, not far from which stands the
Schlern, 8100 feet high, with its two pyramids of dolomite rock. About
four miles from the Schlern, and joining the wonderful Rosen Garten of
King Laurin, are the Rothe Wand and the Rothe Wies, out of which rise
two enormous peaks.

Upon the Schlern pilgrims resort to the Holy Cassian, and on the day of
this Saint, the fifth of August, there takes place every year a great
_fête_ in the chapel, which stands on the spot. From the parish of
Völs, which lies about nine miles lower down, the inhabitants wend on
that day up the mountain to the chapel, and all the mountaineers from
the Seisser-Alp assemble there in their Sunday’s best to _fête_ the

One day it came into the mind of a farmer to make hay on St. Cassian’s
day. His servant reluctantly obeyed his commands, and his neighbours
kind-heartedly warned him that it was a crime to make hay on the day
of the Saint who was so universally revered. But the farmer laughed
mockingly, and said, “Be it Cassian’s day or not, the hay must up upon
the stacks;”[6] and so he worked on the faster with his servants. At
last all the hay, after having been raked together, was pitched up in
two large heaps, which are called there, “Schober,” and as the last
forkful was thrown upon the top, the two “Heuschober” (haystacks) were
turned into stone, and in this shape they still stand on the same
spot as an everlasting warning. Since that time no one has ever again
thought of working on St. Cassian’s day.

  [6] “Cassiantag hin, Cassiantag her,
       ’S Heu muss in die Schober!”


Near the village of Kitzbühel used to stand a magnificent forest, about
which two peasants had a law-suit of several years’ duration, which
finished with the judge being corrupted by one of the two peasants, to
whom he awarded the Alp, and sent the defendant off, without the least
hope of ever regaining his right.

The losing party, who through this iniquitous proceeding had become
a poor man, could not rest, and constantly bewailed his misfortune,
saying that he had been cheated and unjustly condemned. But the other,
hearing the constant complaining of the poor injured man, one day
called out, “Well, then, by all the devils, keep on crying. If I have
unlawfully gained the forest, may it sink three thousand feet beneath
the ground.” These words had scarcely gone out of his mouth, when an
earthquake took place, together with a fearful thunderstorm, and the
majestic forest sank beneath his feet, and black waves directly rolled
over it. Though enormously deep as the See is, during certain weather
the forms of trees can be distinctly seen far down below.

The same is the case with the Lanser-See, upon whose bottom trees are
also to be seen growing. Where now this See stands, there used to be a
magnificent forest of pines, about which, too, a dispute took place,
though not between two peasants, but between a peasant and a nobleman,
and the trial was conducted in such a manner that the nobleman gained
the forest away from the poor man, to whom it really belonged; for,
according to the old Tyrolian saying, “Noblemen do not bite each
other.”[7] But the poor peasant, in his anger, cursed the forest, root
and branch, and it sank into the depths of the earth. Next morning it
was no longer to be seen, but a deep See stood in its place, which,
after the village of Lans, not far from the renowned castle of Ambras,
has taken the name of Lanser-See.

[7] “Die Edelleute beissen einander nicht.”


High up in the Tyrolian Alps formerly stood a fine city, called
Tannen-Eh’, whose inhabitants for ages past had led honest and
God-fearing lives. There used to be a Paradise of peace and happiness;
no one ever thought of hunting or killing any game; domestic animals,
and Alpine plants and fruits being sufficient for the wants of the
good-hearted simple people. There were never quarrels or disputes about
“mine or thine,” the rich man willingly helped his poorer neighbour,
and there was no extremity of wealth or poverty at Tannen-Eh’.

But in course of time all was altered. With increasing wealth the lust
of gain approached, which brought vanity and luxury in its train. They
said, like the people of Babel, “Let us build a tower whose top shall
reach the skies, so as to gain ourselves a name, and in the tower there
shall be a bell, whose sound can be heard by all those who live on
mountain or valley; and at every christening, wedding, and burial, the
bell shall sound, but only for us, the rich, and for the poor it shall
not sound, because for them it is of no use.”

And this wicked plan was executed. The complaints of the oppressed rose
through the skies to Heaven, and in the autumn a great famine fell upon
the city. The poor suffered dreadfully, whilst the rich locked up their
treasures and store-rooms, and only gave the poor people, who came to
beg for bread, insolent words, telling them that, after all, they were
but a miserable lot, and the best thing they could do was to die in
God’s name, and go straight to Heaven. In this fearful dearth numbers
died of absolute starvation.

Towards the end of the autumn, snow began to fall, and rose higher
and higher, up to the windows up to the roofs, and then far above the
roofs. In this extremity the rich people of Tannen-Eh’ began to toll
their bell for help, but its sound could scarcely penetrate through the
thick walls of snow, and no help arrived, for down in the surrounding
valley poor people alone were living, who had been cruelly treated and
oppressed by the rich citizens above. So the snow fell thicker and
thicker, just as long as it rained in the days of the Flood.

After this, Tannen-Eh’ with its inhabitants had disappeared, but the
tower of the church, together with the city, is still to be seen from
an enormous distance, though deeply covered with everlasting ice.
The tower reaches like a silver needle to Heaven, from whence the
Divine punishment had fallen. This ice-covered needle-rock is the
Oetzthal-Ferner, and the city itself is now the “Oetzthal-Gletscher”
(Oetzthal Glacier).

Even up to the present day the following song, illustrative of the fate
of the city, is sung in the Tyrol:--

  “In the city of Tannen-Eh’,
   Oh woe! Oh woe!
   Fell a snow,
   Which never thaws again.”[8]

  [8] “In der Stadt Tannen-Eh’,
       Au weh! Au weh!
       Fallt a Schnee,


Almost every country possesses some legend of a “Devil’s Bridge,” and
how the Evil One has been ultimately cheated by his own handiwork, and
the Tyrol, which is alive with legends and superstitions, is not behind
any other in this respect.

In the valley of Montafon, the bridge of the village broke down, or
rather the swollen torrent carried it away; and as the parish was
anxious to restore it as soon as possible, the villagers of course
being unable to pass to and from Schruns, on the other side of
the river, for all their daily wants, they applied to the village
carpenter, and offered him a large sum of money if he would rebuild
the bridge in three days’ time. This puzzled the poor fellow beyond
description; he had a large family and now his fortune would be made at
once; but he saw the impossibility of finishing the work in so short a
time, and therefore he begged one day for reflection.

Then he set to work to study all day, up to midnight, to find out how
he could manage to do the work within the specified time; and as he
could find out nothing, he thumped the table with his fist, and called
out, “To the devil with it! I can find out nothing.” In his anger and
annoyance he was on the point of going to bed, when all at once a
little man wearing a green hat entered the room, and asked, “Carpenter,
wherefore so sad?” and then the carpenter told him all his troubles.
The little fellow replied, “It is very easy to help you. I will build
your bridge, and in three days it shall be finished, but only on the
condition that the first soul out of your house who passes over the
bridge shall be mine.” On hearing this, the carpenter, who then knew
with whom he had to do, shuddered with horror, though the large sum of
money enticed him, and he thought to himself, “After all, I will cheat
the devil,” and so he agreed to the contract.

Three days afterwards the bridge was complete, and the devil stood
in the middle, awaiting his prey. After having remained there for
many days, the carpenter at last appeared himself, and at that sight
the devil jumped with joy; but the carpenter was driving one of his
goats, and as he approached the bridge, he pushed her on before him,
and called out, “There you have the first soul out of my house,”
and the devil seized upon the goat. But, oh, grief and shame! first
disappointed, and then enraged, he dragged the poor goat so hard by her
tail that it came out, and then off he flew, laughed at and mocked by
all who saw him.

Since that time it is that goats have such short tails.


Among the high peaks which overhang the Cembra valley, lies a solitary
mountain lake whose little outlet falls into the foaming Nevisbach. A
small hut at the pointed end of the lake, and a deserted mine which
stands close by, surrounded by large heaps of _débris_, give evidence
to the former activity of the spot.

This dark lake is called “Lago Santo” (or Holy Lake).

Where it now stands there used to be a flourishing village, whose
inhabitants found in the neighbouring mines plenty of work and wealth;
they were a happy and contented race. A few miles off lay King
Laurin’s crystal palace, and through the constant communication with
this good-hearted mountain King, they became clever and fortunate in
all their undertakings. But, as time went on, they grew haughty and
independent; foreign miners brought false doctrines into the parish,
and as the priest was either too weak or negligent to oppose their
wicked practices, in a few years the people became entirely corrupted.

About that time a poor man arrived in the village begging for alms, but
all Christian charity had disappeared, and he was turned off from every
door, even from that of the wealthy priest. At the end of the village
there lived a poor widow woman with a numerous family, who alone gave
a piece of bread to the mendicant, who told her in gratitude, “Tonight
you will hear a fearful noise in the village; however, you need not be
frightened, but pray, and for your life do not look out of the window.”

After saying these words, the beggar disappeared, and when the family
had retired to rest, they were awakened at midnight by a terrible
storm. The thunder was terrific, and the lightning streamed over
the village, setting every building on fire; then the rain fell in
torrents, as though the flood-gates of Heaven were opened. The poor
widow was dreadfully terrified, and forgetting the command of the
beggar, she looked out of the window, but at the same moment she
received from an invisible hand such a blow in the face, that she fell
senseless to the ground.

As on the following morning she came again to herself, the terrors of
the night had disappeared, and the sun shone brilliantly down from
Heaven. The widow opened the door of her little hut, and, to her great
astonishment, found the whole country changed; the village had sunk
beneath the earth, and a dark See was spread over the spot where it
used to be; her little hut alone stood unhurt on the borders of the
new-formed lake.

Sometimes it is possible to see to the bottom of the lake, where the
avaricious priest paces slowly up and down, reading a book; he has
neglected the souls which had been entrusted to his care, and therefore
he has now to suffer penance.


The Floitenthal, near the Ziller valley, is surrounded by such
terrific mountains, chasms, and rocks, as are nowhere else to be seen;
the mountains of Floitenthurm and Teufelseck especially attract the
attention of the traveller. The latter mountain is called “Teufelseck”
(devil’s corner), because it is said that at certain times the devil is
seen descending from it, in the form of a huge fiery dragon. He then
flies through the Bleiarzkar, a narrow hole in the rock, which leads
through the Stilluppe into the Zillerthal. This hell-dragon is called
the Alber, and whenever he appears, plague, famine, and war are the
sure consequences.

It once happened that during a pitch-dark night, two men climbed the
cherry-tree, which stands close to the Mission Cross of Algund, near
the village of Meran. One of them, the tailor Hanser, was a most wicked
man, an idle vagabond and debauchee; and just on that dreadful night
he had made a bet with some of his worthless companions to fetch home
cherries from the tree near the cross; but as he was a rank coward,
he dare not go alone, and so he persuaded a good villager, the old
Loaserer Sepp, to accompany him.

Sepp first ascended the tree, but could nowhere find any cherries, so
he climbed higher and higher, almost to the very top, and he was very
much astonished at not being able to discover the least sign of fruit,
for he knew the tree to be loaded; as he climbed, he noticed a peculiar
noise among the leaves, which disquieted him not a little. Hanser, in
the meanwhile, had remained on a lower branch, where he found cherries
by the hatful. At last Sepp shouted to him, “Hanser, can you find any?”
to which Hanser replied, “Oh! yes, wherever I put my hand they hang in
clusters.” So Sepp descended to help his friend in gathering, but was
unable to find one single cherry, while Hanser was filling his basket
as fast as he could from the abundance which surrounded him.

Sepp began to feel very uncomfortable, and as he stood on the bough
close to Hanser, he all at once saw the Alber fly by, lighting all
around with the brilliancy of an electric fire. At this sight the
tailor trembled so much that Sepp was obliged to hold him, to prevent
him from falling, and said, “Has it already gone so far with you,
Hanser, that the devil not only gives you his blessing, but lights you
also to find all the cherries? Then may God preserve you.” He then
shouted to the fiery Alber, “Hi there! wait a little till I can find
some cherries too.” But the devil flew off with the speed of lightning.

Even now people admire the courage of the Loaserer Sepp, who dare do
such a thing, and accompany the worthless tailor on such an errand; but
as he was a good man, the Evil One had no power over him, and so he
escaped the punishment, which otherwise would have befallen him.


Where the village of Flies now stands, in the Upper-Inn valley, on a
sunny slope of the right bank of the river, not far from the Pontlaz
bridge, there used to be, in times gone by, a rich and magnificent
city, with splendid houses, strong walls, and gigantic towers,
surrounded by deep moats and ditches. But the inhabitants became proud
and haughty, and practised all sorts of iniquities, devoid of any
fear of Divine punishment. They were constantly quarrelling with the
villagers of the surrounding hamlets, because they seized more and more
of their ground, and robbed them wherever they could of their little
cottages and farms.

One day they commenced felling a large forest, which belonged to some
neighbouring farmers, who took their loss so much to heart that they
nearly died of grief, for they had no chance of redress, as even the
judges themselves were in terror of the cruel citizens. But there was
still One Just Judge, who bends His head before no earthly power,
and He brought a fearful punishment upon the guilty city. From a
branch of the Venete Alps, a mountain fell upon the town, which it
crushed, together with all its inhabitants, whilst the surrounding
farms remained unhurt. These peasants then became proprietors of the
new-formed ground above the city, upon which they have planted young
forests and laid down grass, and the now standing village of Flies has
been built upon the tomb of the engulfed city.


In the Senderser valley, which winds up the mountain from Innsbruck,
behind the villages of Axams, Götzens, and Grinzens, upon the high
Alps, stands the Kemateneler Alm, also called Heach, upon which the
peasants of Kematen pasture about a hundred cows.

On this Heach, so goes the legend, on the eves of great _fête_ days a
gigantic Alm Ghost is to be seen, who unchains the cows, and lets them
run upon the Alm, while with enormous speed and strength he cleans the
stables, and carries off the litter in a wheel-barrow. He does this
work with so much rapidity that the mountain trembles; and when the
morning Angelus rings in the village, the work is all finished, and
the cows are again chained up in their stalls. Of course, the frequent
recurrence of this fact accustomed the people to it, and they leave
the Putz alone, as he never injures them, but rather, on the contrary,
renders them a great service.

But when the good old cow-herd died, a new one took his place, a man
devoid in every way of either religion or good feeling, who would not
believe in the apparition, and only laughed at all those who affirmed
its existence. Soon afterwards, when he heard with his own ears the
noise made by the busy Alm-Putz, he wished to sift the matter to the
bottom, and discover whether the Putz used a supernatural wheelbarrow
or the one appertaining to his own worthy self; so, for this purpose,
he tied a bell to the vehicle in question. The eve of the next _fête_
day the herdsman and some companions heard the well-known sound of
the bell which he had attached to the barrow. “Do you hear?” said the
herdsman; “the Putz really uses my wheelbarrow, so now he must only
work for us.” And, in saying so, he joked and sneered, in spite of the
repeated exhortations of the other men, who ran off in terror at his

About a fortnight afterwards the cow-herd was standing at midday
before his hut, while his two milkers were getting their dinner, when
all at once the gigantic ghost passed by, and the wicked man shouted
after him in derision, “Be not so proud, sorcerer, but come and eat
with us, since you have worked so hard a whole night for us.” The Putz
replied not one word, but striding towards the herdsman, he regarded
him so ferociously, that the frightened man fled in terror into the
hut, where the Putz followed him. The milkers heard the screams of
their companion, but dare not go to his rescue until the Putz had left
the hut, and when they found courage to enter it, they discovered the
wicked man lying on the floor, covered with fearful wounds and bruises.
They carried him down to the village, where he died two days afterwards.

Since that time no one has ever dreamed of interfering with the
terrible Alm Ghost; the villagers leave him in peace to follow his
favourite mountain occupation.


On the banks of the Krummbach, near the village of Gerlos, lie three
mountain lakes, one of which swarms with millions of dace, of which,
however, nobody in the whole valley dares to eat, because, it is said,
they were originally put there by a Venediger-Manndl, and have the
property of throwing all those who partake of them into a decline.

The legend says that a long time ago, a wicked peasant of that valley
took it into his head to exterminate all his neighbours secretly and
by degrees, so that he might eventually become the sole proprietor of
the valley, and therefore he paid a heavy sum to a Venediger-Manndl to
give him some poison fish to put into the lake. But his wicked plan ill
repaid him, for he is now compelled to lie for ever at the bottom of
the See, where the dace constantly feed upon his body, there being no
other thing for them to eat in the whole lake; and, as fast as they
eat, the body of the wicked plotter grows up again.

The belief in this dreadful legend is so firmly fixed in the minds of
the inhabitants, that, even were they starving, they would rather die
than touch one of the poison fish in the lake, and their indignation
would be extreme did even any stranger try to take a fish out of the
prohibited water.


Near the village of Buchenstein rises an enormous Ferner, or glacier,
on the borders of which the neighbouring parishes, especially the
farmers of Sottil, Sottinghäzza, and Roucat pasture large herds of
cows. Only a small valley separates this spot from the village of
Ornella, which, on account of its position, from November to February
is devoid of every beam of sun. The aforesaid Ferner, which is above
11,000 feet high, is called the Vedretta Marmolata, and where now its
icy fields extend there used once to be the most beautiful Alpine
meadows and pasture grounds.

A peasant of Sottil on one Assumption Day had brought down from these
meadows a cart-load of hay, and was about to ascend the mountain again
for another, when his neighbours set upon him, and upbraided him for
working on such a great _fête_ day. But he laughed and jeered at them,
saying, “What will Heaven care if even I make hay on a feast day?” And,
saying this, he set off up the mountain.

Just as he was on the point of loading his cart, he noticed that the
dolomite rocks above began to assume most extraordinary forms, and even
to move about from place to place; dark mists began to rise, which at
every moment became more and more dense, and then a heavy snow fell,
which buried him and his cattle, and froze them into blocks.

On the following morning there was nothing to be seen but a glacier,
and the peasants say, “There above are the cart and cattle, master and
meadow, which have been changed into that Ferner.”


At the head of the valley of Patznau stands the Galthür, a lofty
mountain, which rises also from the Hinder-Patznau, over 5000 feet
above the level of the sea, at the junction of the valleys Montafon
and Underengadein. Southwards from this mountain runs the Iammthal, or
Iamm valley, about six miles long, and bordered by seven Alps; towards
the Iamm-Ferner, stands a colossal ice peak, which stretches its frozen
arms down towards the valleys of Patznau, Montafon, and Engadein.

In the Iammthal lie beautiful rich meadows, together with the
Teufelsplatte, a rock which has been very much spoken of. An iron ring
of 500 pounds is fastened into this rock, and it is said that the devil
himself screwed it in its present place.

The legend goes that two peasants of Galthür had quarrelled several
long years about a neighbouring meadow, and at last they agreed that
the parish itself should decide to which of them the meadow really
belonged, for the vast parish meadows surrounded the spot in question.
So it was decided that the two peasants who disputed the ownership of
the meadow should throw a heavy iron ring, and he who threw the ring
furthest should have the meadow, besides all the ground over which he
could pitch the ring to gain this object, and the parish judge added,
“If either of you fail in throwing the ring over the meadow, its
boundaries shall remain wherever the ring shall fall, and all that is
lost shall be added to the parish grounds; but also, wherever you can
pitch the ring into the parish grounds, so far it shall be yours.”

Three days afterwards the trial took place. One of the two competitors
was a man who knew more than other people; he was able to summon the
devil himself; and as with his assistance he hoped to gain all the
meadows in the valley, he made a compact with the Evil One. On the day
of the trial all the villagers collected on the mountain, where they
found an iron ring quite ready, but of 500 pounds in weight. “Ha!”
thought the parish council, “all the better, for neither of them can
throw this ring one foot from the spot, and the whole meadow will be

Now one of the combatants tried to throw the ring, but he could not
even lift it from the ground. Then came the other, who, aided by the
devil’s own power, lifted the massive iron as easily as though it had
been a finger-ring, and lightly tossed it over the valley, as far as
the opposite rock, into which it became so deeply imbedded that only a
very little is to be seen of the iron.

The parish councillors scratched their ears in astonishment, while
the victorious peasant who had thus gained all the extensive and rich
parish meadows, laughed and danced with joy. But on the other side,
close against the rock, a terrible voice was heard laughing too; and
that laughter was anything but of this world, for it was the dread
demon himself who laughed.

Shortly afterwards the rich peasant became more and more dejected;
every one avoided him, and he avoided every one, and each succeeding
year found him in a worse and worse state of mind. Once a terrible
storm broke out during the night; black clouds collected above the
magnificent farm, which the peasant had built on his evilly-gained
grounds, and at last a thunderbolt struck the farm and set it ablaze.
When the neighbours ran to assist, they saw a gigantic demon fly out of
the smoking flaming ruins, holding the rich peasant by the neck, and
dragging him, body and soul, to perdition.

On the following morning all the meadows lay covered with stones and
rocks, which during the storm had rolled down from the surrounding
mountains, and, as a memorial, the ring still remains in the rock,
which since that time has borne the name of the Teufelsplatte.


In the times of the giants, whom all Tyrolians believe to have resided
in the Tyrol during the life of Noah, there lived high on the mountain,
on whose foot the capital of the Tyrol has since been built, a giant
Queen, whose name was Frau Hütt. Her empire was composed of magnificent
forests and Alpine meadows, as beautiful, and even still more
beautiful than the far-famed Rose Garden of King Laurin, and her palace
was so rich and magnificent that from every part of the surrounding
valleys it looked like a tower of diamonds.

Frau Hütt had a son, whom she loved beyond all measure, and one day
it happened that the giant boy went to pull up a pine-tree, for the
purpose of making himself a walking-stick; but as the pine was standing
on the borders of a deep mossy swamp, the ground gave way under his
feet, and he fell, together with the tree, into the quagmire. His
enormous strength fortunately helped him out of this unlooked-for bath,
but he arrived home as black as a nigger, and his clothes infected the
whole palace of his mother, who comforted her dear son, and ordered the
servants to undress him, and clean his mud-covered body with crumbs of
bread and cake. But the servants had scarcely commenced to execute this
sinful command when a heavy thunderstorm came on and enveloped all in a
dreadful darkness, while violent earthquakes shook the whole mountain.

The palace of Frau Hütt was shattered into one vast ruin, and then
enormous mountains of rock and thundering avalanches began to fall,
and in the space of a few hours all the paradisiacal Alp-land, which
formed the empire of Frau Hütt was destroyed, the forests were swept
away, the beautiful fields and uplands were covered with rocks and
stones, and round about nothing was to be seen but a large desert, upon
which not even one little piece of grass has ever grown since.

Frau Hütt was changed into a rock, and there she stands up to the
present day, holding her petrified son in her arms, and thus she must
remain until the end of the world.


Above the route which leads from Meran to Botzen, not far from Terlan,
are to be seen the ruins of the old castle of Maultasch, which was
once the favourite residence of a Princess of the same name, and from
her appears to have inherited this name, while another legend says the
Princess derived her name from the castle.

There have been two different parts of this building, the principal
one of which used to stand below in the valley to guard the route, and
on that spot is still to be seen a hole in the rock, which leads into
an underground passage, through which Margaretha Maultasch, the last
proprietress of the castle, used to ascend to the upper part of it on
the heights above, called Neuhaus.

In this passage is said to lie a hidden treasure, guarded by a fearful
keeper, who is said to be the devil himself. Many people have tried
to get at this treasure, but no one has ever succeeded; and the
inhabitants of the surrounding country recount that, some years ago,
two young peasants of Meran had resolved upon going to take the envied
treasure. On their way there, they said to one another, “To-day the
devil will never escape us.” So they entered the passage, and began to
repeat the incantations they had learnt by heart for the purpose, while
throwing around them consecrated powders; but all at once a huge black
dog rushed upon them, and they fled away, terrified to death, believing
that the devil himself was at their heels; and, since that time, no
one has ever again tried to discover the treasure of Maultasch.


In the ruins of the castle of Maultasch are also said to lie a set
of golden nine-pins which appear above the ground and blossom every
hundred years. This set of nine-pins belonged to Margaretha Maultasch,
whose gamekeeper “Georg” stole and buried it when his mistress ceded
the Tyrol to Austria, at Botzen, in 1363. Two days after he had
buried it he was struck by an apoplectic fit and died, and nobody
knew anything of the treasure. Since that time he is compelled in
expiation of his crime to wander about in the castle in the form of a
hideous ghost and guard the hidden treasure, and at midnight he sets
up the nine-pins while sighing, and throws the golden ball against the
large castle gate, which then flies open with a fearful noise. Then
appear all the old counts of the Tyrol and Görz, some of them with
crowns on their heads, followed by Margaretha Maultasch bearing an
enormously massive necklace of pure gold, and the richest diamonds.
They then begin to play, and the unhappy spirit of Georg is obliged to
set up the nine-pins, but the ball always bounds against his feet so
painfully that his cries very often are heard over Botzen and as far as

Only he who succeeds in digging up the treasure will be the means of
redeeming Georg; but as it is most difficult to find the proper way and
right moment, it has almost become an impossibility.

It is not long since that, in the favourable hour, an egg-woman went
up the way which leads to the castle. The poor soul of Georg took the
egg basket off her head, and put it down close to the tower on the very
spot where the nine-pins lay buried. All at once there was nothing in
the basket but ten black coals instead of eggs. “Throw your rosary
quickly upon them,” said the ghost; but unfortunately the woman had no
rosary with her, and so the happy hour passed by again without being
taken advantage of. The ten coals which were to be changed into the
nine-pins and ball, became again ordinary eggs, and only in another
hundred years will this fortunate hour return again.

The ghost climbed up the highest tower rock, crying and sighing his
ordinary lamentations:--

  “He who will redeem me
   From the power of the Evil One,
   Must in the castle’s grounds
   Find nine-pins and ball
   Which I stole from the Princess,
   Which I hid from the Princess.”[9]

  [9] “Wer mich will erlösen
       Von dem Bann des Bösen,
       Muss in Schlosses Gründen
       Neun Kegel und Kugel finden,
       Die hab’ ich der Fürstin gestohlen,
       Die hab’ ich der Fürstin verhohlen.”


The ill-famed Kuntersweg is a narrow dangerous cart-way winding through
a deep valley, overtopped on both sides by huge and lofty mountains,
and ending in the post route from Innsbruck to Botzen.

Soon after leaving this route and entering into the aforesaid track,
the traveller arrives at a spot where the valley is more narrow than
elsewhere, and there he beholds high above him a hole pierced through
a bare rock which is known under the name of “Teufelsloch,” or devil’s
hole. Beneath this hole are hanging several crucifixes and statues of
saints in remembrance of the many accidents which have taken place on
that spot--perhaps, also, as a consolation to the friends of the lost
ones and an exhortation to prayer.

One day a carter drove by that spot, and as the weather happened to be
very bad and the road swampy and soft from the long rain, the wheels
of his cart stuck fast in the ground. It was in vain that he whipped
his horses and tried all means in his power to get out of the mud. In
this desperate position he summoned the devil to his assistance, using
the most fearful oaths, and, lo! all at once there appeared before him
a gentleman clad in rich green clothes, with high boots, and offered
his services. The carter, who at first was almost terrified at this
unexpected apparition, said at last, “Well, I accept your offer.”

“But not for nothing,” answered the stranger. “I shall help you only
under the condition that you will give me a piece of your body.” To
which, after a short reflection, the carter agreed.

The green stranger had scarcely muttered a few incomprehensible words
between his teeth when the cart moved by some invisible power from
the spot, and when directly afterwards the carter was asked for the
promised reward, he cut off a piece of his long finger nails and handed
it over to his deliverer. Thus cheated, the devil full of wrath changed
his form and, as a monstrous fiery lizard hissing with savage anger,
and enveloped in sheets of lightning, and with roars of thunder, rushed
through the bare rock above, so that all the mountains round about
shook. And this hole has ever since been called the Teufelsloch.

It is no doubt for the purpose of expelling from this spot all
diabolical effects, that in course of time those pious images have been
set up at the foot of the rock; and most probably the road received
from the hellish “Kunter,” or apparition, which the carter met there,
the name of “Kuntersweg.”


About two miles above the village of Oetz in the Oetzthal, in the
middle mountains which cross over the valley like a wall, stands the
peak called “Biburgspitz,” at the foot of which lies the little lake
of “Biburg-See.” On the spot where now the See lies, used to stand
the magnificent castle of Biburg, which covered an immense expanse
of ground, and it was in former times the scene of the greatest
festivities, for a very beautiful and rich lady used to be its
mistress; yet it is sad to relate that she was a very wicked woman and
guilty of all sorts of crimes.

She had but one child, whom, like Frau Hütt, she spoiled in every
point; she cleaned it, too, with new bread and cake crumbs, because
they were softer than sponges. One day a venerable hermit who had been
sent to warn the proprietress, arrived in the castle and paternally
exhorted her to give up her evil ways; but in spite of him she carried
on her wicked practices more than ever, so that the hermit went away in
despair. He had scarcely left the castle when it sank, together with
its mistress and her son, into the earth, and a calm See filled up its

But a short time afterwards the lake began to bubble and boil, and the
guilty mistress of the castle rose out of it in the form of a fearful
dragon, or “Lindwurm,” which in its fury bit and tore at the banks of
the See for the purpose of making an outlet for the water. This outlet
forms the little river which runs through the fields belonging to the
parishes of Oetz and Sauters; and the Tyrolians still say of little
rivers that come out of the mountains: “Here a Lindwurm has bored its
way through.”


Near the village of Mieders, in the Stubaythal, lies a little side
valley, in which in dreary solitude stands a small wooden hut opposite
to an old, half-ruinous farm-building. In this hut there lived, some
fifty years ago, a wicked woman, called Töglas Moid, who was originally
married to an honest peasant of the neighbourhood, who, however, died
soon after through grief at the bad practices of his wife. After his
death she led a yet worse life, and was in consequence everywhere
dreaded as a witch; for she was known to have done, and to still do,
endless harm among the cows. She had chosen five other women of her
feather to be her companions and helpmates, and often the whole six
of them set out from Mieders to the Telfes mountain, where at certain
times they have been seen by the herdsmen carrying on their unholy

At last it seems that they went to such an extent that they entered
into a compact with the Evil One, and then the destruction which they
caused in the surrounding country was so great that the villagers were
forced to apply for the aid of the Church, according to whose decree
they had to appear before the tribunal, where the five companions of
Töglas Moid confessed everything, and from that time began to lead a
new life; while she who had led them on in all their wickedness became
worse and worse every day, and carried on her diabolical practices
alone during yet another five long years, until at last the measure of
her iniquities was full.

On the 24th of June, 1823, St. John the Baptist’s Day, a fearful
thunderstorm broke over Mieders, during which the mountains were
splintered with the lightning, and huge masses of rock fell down from
every direction into the valley.

On the following morning some peasants passing by the hut of Töglas
Moid, looked in to discover if the witch was there; but she was
nowhere to be seen. But close by the Witches’ Walk the most fearful
screams were heard, which so terrified both man and beast that one
of the herdsmen ran down to the village for help; for the cows were
panic-stricken and beyond their control. When the terrified herdsmen
arrived with a crowd of villagers upon the witches’ ground, they found
her cut into pieces, which they collected and burnt upon a pile of
brushwood; and during this operation such fearful noises were heard in
the valley and on the surrounding mountains that every one was seized
with fear and trembling.

The parish of Mieders erected in gratitude for the riddance of this
witch a large stone cross upon the Witches’ Walk, to which every year,
on the 24th of June, a great procession takes place. This spot is
called the “Kreuzjoch,” or cross yoke, and from it a beautiful view is
obtained of the valley villages of Telfes and Stubay, and of several
magnificent glaciers.


Treasure! This ideal of earthly happiness constantly occupies the mind
of the greatest part of the inhabitants of the Tyrol; and many are the
men who, once wealthy and rich, now live on the alms of other people,
on account of their passion for treasure-seeking. Over this hopeless
infatuation they neglected their domestic occupation, and all at once,
almost without knowing it, stood on the verge of beggary, at which they
were just as much surprised as at having been unable to discover the
envied object of their search.

There are treasures in all parts of the country, on the mountains, in
the valleys, under rocks and trees, in the lakes, in the cellars, even
beneath the hearths, and behind the walls. The ruins of once powerful
strongholds generally conceal treasure in different forms, and there
is not one ruin in the whole Tyrol that possesses not its treasure

Those treasures blossom from time to time, especially on the eve of
St. John the Baptist’s Day. Near Axams, in the middle mountains, above
Innsbruck, on the spot called Zum Knappenloch, a treasure blossoms even
in the broad daylight.

The blooming light of these treasures is described to be blue, like the
flame of spirits of wine, or green, like the light of glow-worms, and
also yellowish-green, like that of phosphorus.

The preceding legends already contain several examples of these
treasure-blossoms, and it would be impossible to relate them all, for
their number would fill a volume. But not very long ago a fact took
place on the post-route from Imst to Landeck, close by the hamlet of
Starkenbach, after which it would be utterly impossible to make the
inhabitants of the surrounding country believe that the treasures do
not blossom.

On this spot several people had noticed, at different times, a green
light, which lasted from two to five minutes; but when they approached,
it dissolved into mist and disappeared.

Some men of Starkenbach happened to be at work on the very same spot,
on the 10th of October, 1854, under the supervision of the road-maker,
Tschoder, when one of the men, whose name is Rundl, pulled up a piece
of turf, and how joyfully surprised was he when some two hundred silver
coins lay at his feet, most of them well-preserved Roman coins of
the times of the Emperors, and bearing the inscriptions of Antonius
Pius, Septimus Severus, Marcus Aurelius, Geta, Caracalla, Maximinus
Augustus; others referred to the Empresses, and bore the inscriptions
of Faustina Augusta, Julia Augusta. The inscriptions on the reverse of
the coins are almost every one of them different, and relate to notable
events of the Roman dynasty in the country, thus, Marti Victori,
Fortunæ Reduci, Felicitas, Providentia, Venus Genetrix, and many of
them relate to Juno. The coins are all of the same size, and five of
them go to an ounce.

“Such treasures,” declare the simple-minded Tyrolians, “are lying in
thousands all over the country, if it were only possible to lay hands
upon them, as on those Roman coins.”


In the Grödener-Thal lie dispersed in every direction about 135 farms,
which form the parish of Wolkenstein, also called Santa Maria, and
above its pretty little chapel, on the top of the peak of Sabbiakopf,
rise the ruins of the once famous stronghold of Wolkenstein, which is
said to have been built in the time of the Romans by a pagan general,
who through his wild and cruel behaviour became the scourge of the
inhabitants of all the surrounding valleys.

One day a poor pilgrim went to the castle, asking for charity, but
the general ill-treated him so cruelly that he died, and in his last
agony the pilgrim cursed the castle, and invoked upon it immediate
destruction. Directly afterwards a huge mass of rock fell and buried
it, together with its tyrannical lord, who was not less dreaded than
the fearful Orco, whose abode lay in this country.

Some centuries later on, a wandering knight arrived in the
neighbourhood, seeking treasures in the ruins of the castle; and it is
generally believed that his search was successful, because before then
he was very poor, and now he began to build a magnificent castle upon
the old ruins, and called it also Wolkenstein. Every future proprietor
took the name of the castle, together with the title of Count, and up
to the present day the family are a wealthy, powerful, and extended
race. One of their ancestors was the celebrated Minnesinger, Oswald
von Wolkenstein, who lived in the days of “Frederick with the empty

Later on the castle was struck by lightning, and one of the Counts
built a new castle in the valley below, and gave it the name of
Fischburg; and the old castle of Wolkenstein has since tumbled into
decay, but its magnificent and imposing ruins are still to be seen.


Above the village of Götzens, on the route to Arams, are to be seen the
ruins of two towers, once belonging to a castle of vast importance,
and which are called Völlenberg and Liebenberg. Two noble races used
formerly to reside in this castle, which has quite disappeared, with
the exception of the towers above named; it is from these families that
the towers derived their names. The celebrated Minnesinger Oswald von
Wolkenstein, of whom we have already spoken in the preceding legend,
was for a long time prisoner at Völlenberg.

The legend goes that the spirits of the former inhabitants are still
wandering about in those two towers; at certain times at midnight the
ruins become alive, and lords and ladies, in long sweeping dresses,
followed by liveried servants of the olden style, pass up and down the
ruinous stone staircases. Their heads are empty skulls, and they sit
down in the great castle hall, where they try in vain to drink out of
large goblets; being, however, unable to taste the beautiful wine with
which they are brimming over, they dash the goblets against the walls
and smash them into fragments.

So it happens also with their unholy feast, which is laid out most
temptingly before them on the tables; for as one of them approaches the
dish upon which he has set his mind, it falls to the ground as dust and
ashes. Then the wretched spirits endeavour to enjoy themselves with
singing and dancing; but their bones rattle so terribly, and their
companions are so frozen and stiff, that their song becomes a Miserere.

This is their punishment for all their former intemperance and
evil-doings, and this terrible scene is only brought to a close by the
ringing of the morning Angelus.


At midnight there is often to be seen in the old castle of Maretsch
the spirit of a young lady, who wanders about, crying and wringing
her hands, as though in the most terrible grief. Her long soft hair
is blown wildly about by the wind, her beautiful face is deadly pale,
and her eyes are fixed and staring. This is Fräulein von Maretsch, the
only daughter of the Baron von Maretsch, and once noted as the most
beautiful girl of the whole country.

Although scarcely sixteen years of age, she was passionately enamoured
of the young and brave Baron von Treuenstein, who under Frederick
the Red Beard, together with all the Tyrolian nobility, took part in
his crusade, for the purpose of gaining the glory of knighthood in
fighting against the infidels, which, according to the promise of the
old Baron von Maretsch, should entitle him to his beautiful daughter
for a wife.

Two years had already gone by since the hopeful young warrior had left
the country, after having received the blessing of the old Baron, when
one day a pilgrim from Palestine craved admission to the castle, and
recounted the bloody battles of the Crusaders against the Saracens. In
the course of his narrative he came to speak of the young Baron von
Treuenstein, and said that he had conquered large districts, and at
last had married the daughter of a rich Pacha, and thus made himself
happy for ever.

On hearing this, Kunigunde turned deadly pale, and sank swooning to the
ground; her attendants carried her senseless to her room, for the news
of this dreadful infidelity had broken her heart.

Directly the young lady had left the room, the pilgrim sprang joyfully
up, pressed the old Baron to his heart, threw away his pilgrim’s garb,
and in bright armour appeared before him as the Baron von Treuenstein,
who had masked himself in this manner to prove the fidelity of his
bride. “Let us now quickly go to my dear Kunigunde,” said he to the
father, “to dispel the grief and pain which I have caused her;” and
with high beating hearts they crossed the corridor which led into the
young lady’s room.

But the room was empty, and the window open; and as they looked down
into the ditch which surrounded the castle, they saw the unfortunate
girl lying smashed and blood-covered in the depth below. The untimely
grief had caused her to lose her senses, and in this condition she
sprang into the arms of death.

At that sight the young Baron became speechless. He rushed away to the
battle-field, and nobody ever heard of him again, while the poor old
father died soon afterwards of grief; and since that time the spirit
of the unhappy girl is condemned to wander about in the ruins of the
ancient castle of Maretsch.




This text has been preserved as in the original, including archaic and
inconsistent spelling, punctuation and grammar, except as noted below.

Obvious printer’s errors have been silently corrected.

Text in italics in the original work is represented herein as _text_.

Small capitals in the original work are represented herein as all

Footnotes have been renumbered and then moved to directly below the
paragraphs to which they belong.

Page 29: There were several characters not printed at “answered the
poor spirit [of th]e priest” and are shown here within the brackets.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales and Legends of the Tyrol" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.