Tales and Legends of the Tyrol | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Devil’s Bridge, The

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.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Devil’s Bridge, 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: ATU 1191: Sacrifice on the Bridge

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