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

The Monks at the Ferry


"We shall give you all that we have to bestow," replied one of the monks. "Won't that suffice?"

"What is that?" asked the ferryman.

"Nothing," said the monk who had answered him first.

"But our blessing," interposed the second monk.

"Blessing! bah! That won't do. I can't eat blessings!" responded the grumbling ferryman.

"Heaven will pay you," said the third monk.

"That won't do either," answered the enraged ferryman. "I'll put back again to Andernach!"

"Be it so," said the monks.

The ferryman put about the head of his boat, and began to row back towards Andernach, as he had threatened. He had, however, scarcely made three strokes of his oars, when a high wind sprang up and the waters began to rise and rage and foam, like the billows of a storm-vexed sea. Soon a hurricane of the most fearful kind followed, and swept over the chafing face of the stream. In his forty years' experience of the river, the ferryman had never before beheld such a tempest—so dreadful and so sudden. He gave himself up for lost, threw down his oars, and flung himself on his knees, praying to Heaven for mercy. At that moment two of the dark-robed monks seized the oars which he had abandoned, while the third wrenched one of the thwarts of the boat from its place in the centre. All three then began to belabour the wretched man with all their might and main, until at length he lay senseless and without motion at the bottom of the boat. The barque, which was now veered about, bore them rapidly towards their original destination. The only words that passed on the occasion were an exclamation of the first monk who struck the ferryman down.

"Steer your boat aright, friend," he cried, "if you value your life, and leave off your prating. What have you to do with Heaven, or Heaven with you?"

When the poor ferryman recovered his senses, day had long dawned, and he was lying alone at the bottom of his boat. He found that he had drifted below Hammerstein, close to the shore of the right bank of the river.

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