Tales and Legends of the Tyrol | Annotated Tale

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Spirit of the Zirl Usurer, The

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.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Spirit of the Zirl Usurer, 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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