Tales and Legends of the Tyrol | Annotated Tale

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Lengmoos Witches, The

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.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Lengmoos Witches, The
Tale Author/Editor: Günther, Comtesse Marie A. von
Book Title: Tales and Legends of the Tyrol
Book Author/Editor: Günther, Comtesse Marie A. von
Publisher: Chapman and Hall
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1874
Country of Origin: Austria
Classification: unclassified

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