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The Flaming Castle

Source: Folk-lore And Legends: German

Upon a high mountain in the Tyrol there stands an old castle, in which
there burns a fire every night, and the flashes of that fire are so
large that they rise up over the walls, and may be seen far and wide.

It happened once that an old woman in want of firewood was gathering
the fallen twigs and branches upon this castle-crowned mountain, and
at length arrived at the castle door. To indulge her curiosity she
began peering about her, and at last entered, not without difficulty,
for it was all in ruins and not easily accessible. When she reached
the courtyard, there she beheld a goodly company of nobles and ladies
seated and feasting at a huge table. There were, likewise, plenty of
servants, who waited upon them, changing their plates, handing round
the viands, and pouring out wine for the party.

As she thus stood gazing upon them, there came one of the servants,
who drew her on one side, and placed a piece of gold in the pocket of
her apron, upon which the whole scene vanished in an instant, and the
poor frightened old woman was left to find her way back as well as
she could. However, she got outside the courtyard, and there stood
before her a soldier with a lighted match, whose head was not placed
upon his neck, but held by him under his arm. He immediately addressed
the old woman, and commanded her not to tell any one what she had seen
and heard upon peril of evil befalling her.

At length the woman reached home, full of anguish, still keeping
possession of the gold, but telling no one whence she had obtained it.
When the magistrates, however, got wind of the affair, she was
summoned before them, but she would not speak one word upon the
subject, excusing herself by saying that if she uttered one word
respecting it great evil would ensue to her. When, however, they
pressed her more strictly, she discovered to them all that had
happened to her in the Fiery Castle, even to the smallest particular.
In an instant, almost before her relation was fully ended, she was
carried away, and no one could ever learn whither she fled.

A year or two afterwards, a young nobleman, a knight, and one well
experienced in all things, took up his abode in those parts. In order
that he might ascertain the issue of this affair, he set out on foot
with his servant in the middle of the night on the road to the
mountain. With great difficulty they made the ascent, and were on
their way warned six times by an unknown voice to desist from their

They kept on, however, heedless of this caution, and at length
reached the door of the castle. There again stood the soldier as a
sentinel, and he called out as usual--

"Who goes there?"

The nobleman, who was bold of heart, gave for answer--

"It is I."

Upon this the spirit inquired further--

"Who art thou?"

This time the nobleman made no answer, but desired his servant to hand
him his sword. When this was done, a black horseman came riding out of
the castle, against whom the nobleman would have waged battle. The
horseman, however, dragged him up upon his horse and rode with him
into the courtyard, while the soldier chased the servant down the
mountain. The nobleman was never more seen.

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