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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The Cellar of the Old Knights in the Kyffhauser"

The Cellar of the Old Knights in the Kyffhauser

There was a poor, but worthy, and withal very merry, fellow at Tilleda, who was once put to the expense of a christening, and, as luck would have it, it was the eighth. According to the custom of the time, he was obliged to give a plain feast to the child's sponsors. The wine of the country which he put before his guests was soon exhausted, and they began to call for more.

"Go," said the merry father of the newly baptized child to his eldest daughter, a handsome girl of sixteen,—"go, and get us better wine than this out of the cellar."

"Out of what cellar?"

"Why, out of the great wine-cellar of the old Knights in the Kyffhauser, to be sure," said her father jokingly.

The simple-minded girl did as he told her, and taking a small pitcher in her hand went to the mountain. In the middle of the mountain she found an aged housekeeper, dressed in a very old-fashioned style, with a large bundle of keys at her girdle, sitting at the ruined entrance of an immense cellar. The girl was struck dumb with amazement, but the old woman said very kindly—

"Of a surety you want to draw wine out of the Knights' cellar?"

"Yes," said the girl timidly, "but I have no money."

"Never mind that," said the old woman; "come with me, and you shall have wine for nothing, and better wine too than your father ever tasted."

So the two went together through the half-blocked-up entrance, and as they went along the old woman made the girl tell her how affairs were going on at that time in Tilleda.

"For once," said she, "when I was young, and good-looking as you are, the Knights stole me away in the night-time, and brought me through a hole in the ground from the very house in Tilleda which now belongs to your father. Shortly before that they had carried away by force from Kelbra, in broad daylight, the four beautiful damsels who occasionally still ride about here on horses richly caparisoned, and then disappear again. As for me, as soon as I grew old, they made me their butler, and I have been so ever since.

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