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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The Monks at the Ferry"

The Monks at the Ferry

From time immemorial a ferry has existed from Andernach to the opposite side of the Rhine. Formerly it was more in use than at present, there being then a greater intercourse between the two shores of the river, much of which might be traced to the Convent of St. Thomas, once the most important and flourishing nunnery on the river.

Close by this ferry, on the margin of the Rhine, but elevated somewhat above the level of the water, stands a long, roofless, ruinous building, the remains of the castle of Friedrichstein, better known, however, to the peasantry, and to all passengers on the river, as the Devil's House. How it came by this suspicious appellative there are many traditions to explain. Some say that the Prince of Neuwied, who erected it, so ground down his subjects for its construction, that they unanimously gave it that name. Others derive its popular sobriquet from the godless revelries of the same prince within its walls, and the wild deeds of his companions in wickedness; while a third class of local historians insist upon it that the ruin takes its name from the congregation of fiendish shapes which resort there on special occasions, and the riot and rout which they create in the roofless chambers, reeking vaults, and crumbling corridors of the desolate edifice. It is to this ruin, and of the adjacent ferry, that the following legend belongs.

It was in the time when the celebrated Convent of St. Thomas over Andernach existed in its pristine magnificence, that late on an autumnal night the ferryman from that city to the Devil's House on the other side of the river, who lived on the edge of the bank below the ruins of the ancient palace of the kings of Austrasia, was accosted by a stranger, who desired to be put across just as the man was about to haul up his boat for the day. The stranger seemed to be a monk, for he was closely cowled, and gowned from head to foot in the long, dark, flowing garb of some ascetic order.

"Hilloa! ferry," he shouted aloud as he approached the shore of the river, "hilloa!

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