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By Lake Mummel

High in the mountains of the Black Forest, not far from Baden, lies a deep, deep lake. If one casts stones into the lake, a great storm will arise with gale-force winds and hail. And all stones cast into these depths are carefully carried back to shore by the mermen who live there.

Once some cowherds were tending their cattle on the shores when a brown bull came out of the lake and began to graze with the other cattle. Then a man came out of the lake to drive the bull into the water. When it did not obey, he began cursing at it till it went back into the lake with him.

Late one evening a dwarf came to a farm not far from there and asked the farmer for lodgings for the night. The farmer did not have enough beds, so he offered the dwarf the window seat in his living room, or the hayrick in the barn. But the dwarf only asked to be allowed to sleep in the basin where hemp was being soaked.

"It's all right with me," answered the farmer.

The dwarf then dove into the basin and went to rest as if he were lying in hay and warming himself. Early next morning he came out of the water with his clothes completely dry. The farmer was amazed to see this.

The dwarf soon became trusting of the farmer, and told him that he was a merman who had lost his wife. He meant to look for her in Lake Mummel, and asked for directions so that he could find the lake. On the way to the lake the dwarf recounted to the farmer how he had sought his lost wife in many lakes already but had not found her.

At the shores of Lake Mummel, the dwarf asked the farmer to wait until he returned or sent him a signal. After waiting for some hours the farmers saw a number of shoes springing from the water of the lake and into the air, and assumed that this was his signal.

[From legend 59]


Bull Creek

There is a creek that runs through a valley in the Suren Alps. It is fed from Lake Suren up in the mountains. There is a legend that is told by the people of Uri and by those from Engelsberg, how the creek came to be called Bull Creek.

Several centuries ago, an Alpine shepherd lived in the area. In his flock he had a lamb that he was especially proud of and devoted to, so much that he decided to have it baptised and to give it a Christian name.

What happened? The heavens felt annoyed and changed the lamb into a spectre that roamed the fertile Alpine pastures day and night, grazing away all the grass and herbs, until the Engelsberg farmers could no longer use the pastures for their own sheep and cattle.

One day, a wandering student came to Uri. He told the people how to get rid of the monstrous animal. They should raise a bull calf for nine years on pure milk alone - the first year with the milk from one cow, the second with the milk of two cows, the third of three cows, and so on. After nine years, the bull that had been raised on milk should be led over the pastures by a maiden. The farmers from Uri hoped to get a reward from the farmers of Engelsberg, and so they raised such a bull in the pasture of Waldnacht.

When the bull had been raised on the milk for nine years, a lovely maiden led it across the high ridge of a cliff and then let him run loose. As soon as the bull saw that he was free, he took off after the specter, and they engaged in a fierce struggle. The bull won, but the fight had been so wild and furious that he was exhausted and covered with sweat. He then raced for the stream rushing nearby, plunged in, and drank so much water that he dropped dead on the spot.

Ever since, the stream has had the name of Bull Creek. Those who live in the area can also point to the imprints in the rock where the bull dug himself in for the valiant struggle.

[Legend 143 retold.]


The Wolf and the Pine Cone

A crack runs across one of the great brass doors of the cathedral in Aachen, and next to the door stand the statues of a wolf and a pine cone, both cast in fine metal. A legend is told about these figures.

Many decades ago when the cathedral was being built, construction had to be halted before the church was finished because the city ran out of money. The desolate construction site stood there for some time until the devil reportedly appeared before the city fathers and offered them the money they needed. But he added a condition - he would take the first soul to enter the church during the dedication ceremonies. The council thought about it and hesitated for a long time. But they finally decided to accept the offer, and they all agreed to keep the deal a secret.

With the money the devil gave them, they could complete the cathedral. In the meantime, however, rumours of their secret deal with the devil spread around the city, and no one wanted to be first to enter the cathedral. Finally, someone thought of a trick. Some men went out in the forest, trapped a wolf, and brought it back to the main entrance of the church.

On the day of the dedication when the bells began to peal, the wolf was set loose and chased into the church. The devil then swooped down like a tornado, roared through the church doors, and seized what belonged to him by the terms of the agreement. But as soon as he realised he'd been tricked, that only the soul of a wolf had been delivered to him, he flew into a rage and slammed the brass door shut with such force that a crack developed in it, and the crack remains to this day.

To commemorate this event, statues of the wolf and his soul, which resembles a pine cone, were cast.

[Legend 87 retold]


Hackelnberg's Dream

Hans von Hackelnberg was chief hunting master and an accomplished huntsman. One night at Harz Castle he had a bad dream. He seemed to be engaged in battle with a terrible wild boar that finally defeated him after a long struggle.

He was not able to forget this dream and a short time later, while he was in the foothills of the Harz Mountains, he actually met a wild boar similar to the one in his dream. It attacked him, and for a long time the outcome was doubtful. But in the end, Hans triumphed and laid his opponent out on the ground. Overjoyed as he viewed him stretched out at his feet, Hans kicked at the terrible tusks of the boar and cried, "You shall not do me in after all!"

However, Hackelnberg had kicked the boar with such force that a sharp tusk had penetrated his boot, wounding his foot. At first he paid little heed to the wound and continued the chase. But by the time he returned home the foot had become so swollen that the boot had to be cut away. He then hastened back to Wolfenbattel, but the effect of the shaking carriage was so damaging that he was barely alive when they reached the hospital in Wulprode, near Homburg. Shortly after he died.

[Legend 311, abridged.]


The Three Old Men

In the Angeln region of the Duchy of Schleswig there are people still living who remember hearing the following story told by the late Pastor Oest, a man well known for several learned works he had published. However, no one can now recall whether the story was about the pastor himself or a minister from a neighboring town.

It all took place back in the middle of the 1700s when the new pastor set out on horseback to ride the borders of his diocese to get to know his territory. In a remote area he found a lonesome farm along the road. On a bench in front of the house sat an old man with snow-white hair. He was crying bitterly.

The pastor wished him a good evening and asked him what was wrong. "Alas," replied the old man, "my father has given me beating." Astonished, the pastor tied up his horse and entered the house. In the hall he met a man who was even older than the manoutside, and he was beside himself with rage.

The pastor addressed him politely and asked what had made him so angry. The old man answered, "Oh, that boy. He let my father fall." He then opened the door to the living room, and the pastor, speechless with amazement, saw an ancient man, withered with age but still active, sitting in an armchair behind the oven.

[Legend 363 retold]



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