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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The Hunter Hackelnberg and the Tut-Osel"

The Hunter Hackelnberg and the Tut-Osel

The Wild Huntsman, Hackelnberg, traverses the Hartz mountains and the Thuringian forest, but he seems mostly to prefer the Hakel, from which place he derives his name, and especially the neighbourhood of Dummburg. Ofttimes is he heard at night, in rain and storm, when the moonlight is breaking by fits and starts through the troubled sky, following with his hounds the shadows of the wild beasts he slew in days of yore. His retinue generally proceed from the Dummburg, straight over the Hakel to the now desolate village of Ammendorf.

He has only been seen by a few children, who, having been born on a Sunday, had the power of seeing spirits. Sometimes he met them as a lonely huntsman, accompanied by one solitary hound. Sometimes he was seen in a carriage drawn by four horses, and followed by six dogs of the chase. But many have heard the low bellowing of his hounds, and the splashing of his horse's feet in the swamps of the moor; many have heard his cry of "Hu! hu!" and seen his associate and forerunner—the Tut-Osel, or Tooting Ursula.

Once upon a time three wanderers seated themselves in the neighbourhood of the Dummburg. The night was already far advanced. The moon gleamed faintly through the chasing clouds. All around was still. Suddenly they heard something rush along over their heads. They looked up, and an immense screech-owl flew before them.

"Ha!" cried one of them, "there is the Tut-Osel! Hackelnberg, the Wild Huntsman, is not far off."

"Let us fly," exclaimed the second, "before the spirits overtake us."

"We cannot fly," said the third; "but you have nothing to fear if you do not irritate him. Lay yourselves down upon your faces when he passes over us. But, remember, you must not think of addressing Hackelnberg, lest he treat you as he treated the shepherd."

The wanderers laid themselves under the bushes. Presently they heard around them the rushing by, as it were, of a whole pack of hounds, and high in the air above them they heard a hollow sound like that of a hunted beast of the forest, and ever and anon they trembled at hearing the fearful-toned voice of the Wild Huntsman uttering his well-known "Hu!

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