Tales and Legends of the Tyrol | Annotated Tale

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Unholdenhof, The

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 farm).

               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.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Unholdenhof, 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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