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The Bridge of Thread
In olden times in the valley of the Ahr, stood castle Neuenahr on one bank of the river, and on a great mountain opposite, Castle Landskron. The lords of these two strongholds were attached by a close bond of friendship, and in order to be able to visit each other frequently, they caused a bridge to be built across the river, thus putting an easy means of communication between the two castles. But in later years bitter feuds divided the two houses; no steed now thundered across the bridge, no knight nor noble lady was ever seen going to and fro.
Gradually the bridge crumbled to ruins and fell into the waters of the Ahr. Only the two pillars of the bridge escaped destruction, and stood there: crumbling and forgotten, like sentinels dipping their feet in the stream.
Now after many years it happened that a young knight grew up at Landskron Castle, and at the same time a beautiful maiden at Neuenahr. These two did not look on each others with enmity, but rather with tender love. Although the bridge lay at the bottom of the river, and neither path nor ford gave means of communication between the two castles, yet these two lovers had found each other's secret. The maiden used often to sit at her window, looking wistfully over at the other side, while her longing heart wove a thousand dreams of future happiness.
As she thus pondered a clever plan came into her head, and when it had become quite clear to her, she braided her golden ringlets and set about her work. A crossbow was at once brought from the armoury, a roll of cotton was tied to an arrow, and with a skilful hand – hope in her heart and a prayer on her lips – she shot the arrow over to the neighbouring castle. Thus love, which had built the bridge, now aided her, and a little ring on a thread as fine as a hair soon passed industriously to and fro, and many a piece of parchment swearing fidelity and love to each other, went backwards and forwards across that airy bridge.
The wind soaring over the valley smiled when she saw this work, and vowed graciously to spare it; the birds promised the same; even the swallow knew how to revere secret love.
The legend is silent as to how many months the lovers thus continued to communicate with each other; but however we know thus much, that the dissension between the two houses ceased, and one day the Knight of Landskron led home the Countess of Neuenahr as his wedded wife. The ruined bridge was again erected between the two castles; again the steed thundered across, and many a knight and many a noble lady were seen going to and fro.
Then this race died out, as so many others have done in the Rhine country. The proud forts of Landskron and of Neuenahr fell into ruins, the bridge was shaken by storm and wind, and for the second time it fell into the water below. Not a stone remains, and only a few ruins show the spot where the castles themselves once stood.Click to go to the next section of the Legends of the Rhine