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The Weinfeider Lake

The Weinfeider Lake
Nach dem Gemalde von Fritz v. Wille

     All who wander through the Eifel Mountains know the three gloomy-looking lakes, one of which is called Weinfelder Maar. Dead silence prevails over its waters, and over the ancient little church and burying-ground near its shore.

     A great knight once built his stronghold where the dark lake now lies, and led a very gay and merry life there with his noble guests.

    He had a beautiful but haughty wife, whose heart was cold and full of disdain towards her inferiors. She caused the servants to be lashed, and she treated with scorn the poor who came to her husband's doors, so that they were obliged to turn back hungry with bitter resentment in their hearts. The knight, a goodhearted but weak man, adored his proud wife though he was in mortal fear of her fierce temper. So the years wore on, and she still remained a hardhearted contemptuous woman.

     One cold wintry day about Christmas, when the snow was lying deep on the ground and a bleak wind blowing from the north, the proud countess was standing at the window looking out at the falling flakes. At the gate she saw a poor old beggar on crutches, to whom the steward's wife stealthily handed a loaf of bread. The lady of the castle hurried to the spot, snatched the bread from the old man, threw it on the ground, and trampled on it angrily, at the same time scolding the trembling woman with sharp words for enticing a thriftless rabble about the castle. The old gray-haired beggar lifted his hands to heaven, looked silently at the furious woman, and went his way.

     In the meanwhile the knight had ridden out to the chase, but perceiving that he had forgotten his gauntlet, he sent his servant back to fetch it. The latter returned after a short time white with terror, and informed the knight that the castle had disappeared, and in its place there was a large dark lake.

     The knight listened to him incredulously. "That would be just as possible," cried he shaking his head, "as that my horse Falchert which I am now riding should scrape up a spring out of the earth." And at his word the charger scraped the sand with his bronze-shod hoof, and a well bubbled up out of the ground.

     Then the knight rode furiously back to the castle which he looked for in vain. Before him he saw nothing but gloomy dark waters on which a cradle was floating. With a desperate effort he rescued his child who had been so miraculously saved, and pressing it passionately to his heart he fled, never to return again to that terrible spot.

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