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The Valley of the Nahe

A mighty draught

     Once upon a time in the high castle called Rheingrafenstein near Kreuznach, the flower of the knights belonging to the Rhine country were assembled.

     They were powerful warriors, these nobles of ancient rank, but the most prominent among them was the host himself, the proud Rhine Count. Many a cup had he already emptied to the health of his distinguished guests, and rising up once more from his richly carved chair he cast a look over the brilliant assembly and said in a boastful tone.

     "I have got a knight's high boot here, my noble lords. A courier left it behind him once. Now I promise on the honour of my house that whoever will drink it empty at one draught, to him I will give the village of Hiiffelsheim yonder."

     The count, smiling at the novelty of the challenge, took the boot from his attendant's hand, caused it to be filled to the brim, and held up this novel cup to his guests. "'Tis a fair challenge! Come on whoever will dare!" said he.

     Among the illustrious company present there was one, John of Sponheim, a knight well-known in the country for his enormous drinking powers; but he remained unmoved at these defiant words, only looking inquiringly at his neighbour, Knight Weinhart of Dhaun, who in great perplexity, was striving to hide his head behind a large goblet. Old F1örsheimer, another knight whose thirst usually seemed unquenchable, stroked his gray beard doubtfully, while Kunz of Stromberg, a tall thin man, shook his head at the thought of the after-effects which such a draught would bring. Even the chaplain of the castle, who attributed his effective intoning of high-mass to the virtues of the Rhenish wine which he indulged in so freely, looked longingly at the boot, but had not the courage to attempt such a rash act.

     Suddenly a knight, Boos of Waldeck by name, rose. He was a muscular man with the strength of a bear. In a voice of thunder he banged his mighty fist upon the table and said scornfully, "Bring me that little boot!"

     The distinguished company stared at him in great astonishment, but Boos of Waldeck, taking the boot in his sturdy fist, cried out. "Your health, my lords!"

     Then flourishing it in the air, he emptied the boot at one draught.

    When this act was accomplished, Boos threw himself heavily into his chair, and addressing the master of the ceremonies, said with a humorous twinkle in his eye:

    "Did the courier not leave the other boot too? I might possibly win a second bet, and thus acquire the village of Roxheim into the bargain."

     The count looked much abashed, but the noble guests only laughed heartily at the joke.

     Thus stout Boos of Waldeck became lord of the village of Hüffelsheim.

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