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The Wolf's Spring
At a short distance from the castle of Heidelberg there is a large forest called Jettenbühl.
In olden times it was more extensive and more thickly wooded. A prophetess lived in the depths of the forest; she had a tall noble figure, resembling a deity in dignity and grace, and her reputation for great wisdom and knowledge of the future were known in all the country round.
A youth belonging to the Franks heard of this wonderful prophetess, and resolved to visit her and learn his destiny.
He was always very courageous, but when he stood before her, and she appeared to him so beautiful and so entrancing, his lips trembled, and his words came hesitatingly.
"Great Prophetess! you possess the power of divination, let me know my future destiny."
The prophetess took his hand gently and scanned
on it with a searching glance; a sudden change then came over her
and she said in a low voice: –
"Come again to-morrow when the sun is low, in the meanwhile I will consult the gods."
The next day at the appointed hour the youth again entered the sacred grove. He found the prophetess thoughtful and sad, and she greeted him with a sad smile.
"What did the gods say?" cried he anxiously, trying to read his fate in her earnest eyes; but she dropped her beautiful head meditatively.
"A veiled interpretation has been sent to me. Your heart is no longer free," said she, looking at him sadly. "Alas, I fear that our planets touch each other!" A great shout of joy echoed through the lonely forest, and the youth sank at her feet covering her hands with burning kisses.
"Wilt thou join thy lot with mine?" cried he rapturously, swearing fidelity to her by all the gods.
"Our happiness must remain hidden from the eyes of man," she added earnestly, "only the well here in the forest may know of it, and here we shall meet."
The spring murmured assent, and was always a silent observer of those two lovers when they were together.
But one evening when the young man came as usual to this lonely spot, a fearful spectacle met his view; the lovely maiden lay lifeless on the earth, and a voracious wolf stood over the slender body tearing its members to pieces. With a wild cry the youth rushed at the animal and drove his sword through its heart.
His grief and tears could not bring the dead to life again. He had not remained faithful to her, his first love, but had sworn fidelity to another, and the deceived prophetess had applied to the gods for help, and Woden had sent his sacred animal to kill the unhappy virgin.
The spring is still called "Wolf's Spring" in memory of that terrible tragedy.