The Fire Mountain

(Oral tale from Werningerode)

There is a mountain called the “Feuersberg” (“Fire Mountain”) a few hours away from Halberstadt. This mountain used to be bare, but is now covered with tall fir and oak trees. In its depths, the Devil is said to ply his trade, and everything there is burning in bright flames.

In old times, there used to be a count living in the Halberstadt area who was evil-minded and greedy, and who oppressed the inhabitants of the surrounding lands whenever he could. For many years, he owed a lot of money to a shepherd, but every time the shepherd visited him and reminded him of this, he only gave him disdainful rejections. Suddenly the count vanished, and people said that he had died in far-off lands. The shepherd meandered sadly through the meadows and bemoaned his loss, for the count’s heirs did not want to hear about his claim and drove him away from the castle when he showed up there. Once, when he was in the forest at a certain time, a figure approached him and said: “If you want to see your old debtor, follow me.” The shepherd followed and was led through the forest to a tall, bare mountain, which soon opened up in front of the two with great noise, allowed them passage inside, and closed again. Inside, everything was a great fire. The trembling shepherd beheld the count, who was sitting on a chair and who was surrounded by a thousand flames emerging from the glowing walls and floor. The sinner screamed: “If you want to have your money, shepherd, so take this shawl, and bring it to my kin. Tell them how you have seen me sitting in hellfire, in which I have to suffer for all eternity.” Now he ripped a shawl from his head and gave it to the shepherd, and sparks flew out of his eyes and hands.

The shepherd, led by his guide, hurried back outside with swaying feet, and the mountain granted him passage and closed again behind him. He went to the count’s castle with the shawl, showed it, and told what he had witnessed. Afterwards, the heirs were gladly willing to give him his money.

Source: Grimm, J. and L. Deutsche Sagen. Erster Theil. 1816, p.371ff.