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The Fall of the Yburg
The race of the Yburgs is long since extinct. They inhabited in olden times the proud stronghold on a cone-shaped mountain some distance from the town of Baden, the gray towers of which still remain.
The last lord of the castle was a wild and terrible robber-knight. After having squandered his own goods, he began to consider how without exposing himself to danger he could best get at the treasures which his ancestor was said to have hidden in the ground. This – so the story ran – had been done just before his ancestor had been slain by a hostile arrow.
As the knight was one evening sitting down to supper a pilgrim was announced, who asked for food and a night's lodging. The master of the castle was quite enraged at such a daring request, when to his surprise the pilgrim boldly entered his chamber, and confided to the knight that he had great experience in all kinds of magical arts.
"If you can help me to find the treasure of my grandfather," said the knight, "I shall give you a princely reward."
"That I shall do willingly," replied the pilgrim. "Strange to say it happened that I was present when the old man whom they called "the old growler" hid it in the ground."
"You must be the Devil himself!" roared the knight jocularly, not perceiving at the same time the diabolical grin on his companion's face. "My ancestor died more than a hundred years ago."
"Nevertheless we both knew each other right well," continued the pilgrim. "But enough of this, just listen now to what I am about to say. To-night is the first of May. At midnight you must go down into the vault of the chapel, you will open the coffins, take out the dead, and place them outside in the moonlight, and then go back and fetch the jewels and treasures which your ancestor placed in the coffins for safety."
A shudder of horror came over the knight. However not being able to suppress his lust for gold he decided to go down into the vaults at midnight. The pilgrim accompanied him as far as the entrance, but refused steadfastly to go into this place sacred to the dead. The knight then set about his unholy work with trembling hands.
His companion, a hideous grin on his countenance, stood at the entrance holding a burning torch.
One coffin after another was opened, but the search seemed useless. At last the knight, shaking with fear, came to the last of the row; he opened it, but sprang back in horror. There lay his only child, a handsome boy sleeping in his white shroud!
"Be quick!" cried his companion, but the unhappy knight sank an his knees, crossed himself, and strove to murmur a prayer.
The man at the entrance rushed away with a hollow roar. The next day the knight quitted his castle in a sack-doth garment; he wandered about from one holy place to another, a most penitent pilgrim, until at last he was found dead on the steps of an altar, His castle fell into ruins, but they say his spirit still haunts the spot.Click to go to the next section of the Legends of the Rhine