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The Ring

     Countless centuries ago there was a castle in a valley near Oppenau, called Bärenburg (Bear's Castle), the remains of which have long since disappeared.

     Soon after the destruction of the castle, a report was spread about that an enormous treasure was hidden underground in a deep vault. This came to the knowledge of a daring page of the neighbouring castle, Rosenstein, and he desired to make the treasure his own. He begged an old magician to tell him the open sesame which would cause the old mouldering vault to open to him, rewarded the man with a silver coin, and set off on his mysterious undertaking at night.

     Without any interruption he reached the sepulchre of the castle, and hastily lifting the lids of the coffins expected to find the precious jewels there. He was at first greatly disappointed; evidences of mortality there were on all sides, but no trace of a golden treasure. Nevertheless he continued his eager search till he came to the last tomb. It contained the form of a maiden not yet decomposed; she was the last of her long ancestral race. Her white hand was adorned with a diamond, and a heavy golden chain was twined about her neck.

     The audacious youth snatched the jewels from the dead and fled in haste. This success however only spurred him on, and the next day he returned to the vault, searching again with even more eagerness. He seized the maiden's hand hoping to find more precious things in her coffin, when suddenly her slender white fingers grasped his rough hand, and the pale maiden raised herself slowly, looking at him with ghastly eyes, and said in a hollow voice: -

"Why didst thou take my jewels,
My ring and chain with thee?
Now thou art mine for ever,
Lie down and rest by me  – 

     Was it true, or only the mad delusion of this violator of the dead? Who knows?

     With a wild cry he released the maiden's ice-cold hand and fled back to Rosenstein. A few days later a violent fever seized him and ended his wicked life.

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