NOT many years ago a little man of Venice, Venediger-Manndl, as he was called, clad in dark clothes, arrived in the Tyrol to gather gold bars, gold sand, and gold dust, out of the streams of the mountains; he was always seen in the small valleys, and especially on the Sonnwendjoch; he arrived in the spring, and went away again in the autumn. He was a good-hearted quiet little fellow, and on his way home he always passed the night in the hut of the herd who lived upon the adjacent Kothalp, near the Sonnwendjoch, which belongs now to Praxmarer, the innkeeper of Reit. Now it happened that the honest old herd of the Kothalp died, and his hut was taken by a wicked old man. The Venediger-Manndl entered as usual into the hut to pass the night, but the new herd, pushed on by the devil of avarice, made up his mind to kill him in the night, and to appropriate all his wealth. But the little herd-boy warned the gold-finder in time to enable him to save himself. Since then he has never been seen again.
The little herd-boy grew up, and became later on a servant at Isarwinkl, in Bavaria, where he afterwards became a soldier, and marched with the army into Italy. His regiment was stationed at Venice, and a few days after his arrival in the city he walked, full of curiosity, slowly along the beautiful palaces which stand on the canal, when all at once he heard his own name called from a window on the first story of one of them, and a person beckoned him to come up. He ran quickly up the wide marble stairs, and was received on the top by a noble Venetian, richly dressed in black velvet, who conducted him into a splendid apartment, and told him to take a place upon a sofa; then sitting down at his side, he said, “Years ago you saved the life of a Venetian upon the Kothalp, and now you are going to be rewarded; so let me know your wish, and all you want you shall have.”
“Let that be, kind sir,” answered the soldier; “I did but my duty, Heaven will recompense me if I have deserved it.”
This answer seemed to please the Venetian, who took the young man by the hand while saying, “That shows me that you are a real Tyrolian.” Then he entered into a little side-room, and soon afterwards returned in the dress in which he had appeared as Venediger-Manndl on the Kothalp. The soldier instantly recognized him, and was rejoiced at meeting him. Now the Venetian repeated his offer of gold and riches, but the soldier once more declined, and answered, “Health and contentment are my riches, and that God will grant me as long as he sees it fit to do so; though I have one wish, after all, which is to be free of my service in the army, so that I could go back to Isarwinkl, where I have my love, a girl like milk and blood.”
The Venetian had scarcely heard this wish, when he took directly a large white cloth, in which a mantle was wrapped; he took out the mantle, put it over the shoulders of the soldier, and then covered it with the white cloth. All at once the soldier felt himself rising in the air. “Greet your love from me” were the only words he could catch from the Venetian; for like an arrow he was borne away through the high and grated bow-windows which are used at Venice, the white cloth enveloping him like a soft cloud, carried him along swiftly and gently, and set him down before the house of his love. In the pocket of the mantle he found a rich bridal gift.
Happiness never deserted the young fellow; he became very soon a happy husband, and bought himself out of the army, and since then he has often recounted this adventure.