ON THE Brennerstrasse, which leads out of Innsbruck, three huge scarped mountains raise their lofty peaks above the road, and these peaks are also plainly visible from the Inn valley, through which the railway to Innsbruck now runs.
There once lived in the neighbouring valley of the Sin a “Wilder,” or wild man of enormous stature, who was a dreaded King of the Mountains. He was of a most extraordinarily savage nature, his wife as bad as he was, and his secret counsellor still worse than both. The King was passionately fond of hunting; and when on the track of a flying stag, he cared so little about anything but his own pleasure that he would dash, accompanied by all his followers and hounds, through the flocks and herds pastured on the mountains, carrying death and ruin wheresoever he went. Should the poor hunted animal by chance seek refuge among a herd, the demoniacal monster would take delight in urging on his bloodthirsty hounds to tear everything to pieces; and did the unfortunate herdsmen only try to make any remonstrance, they instantly shared the fate of their unfortunate animals, and were dragged to pieces on the spot by the savage dogs. On these occasions the giant, whose name was Serles, used to shout with joy, “Lustig gejaid” (bravely on), and neither man nor beast were able to defend themselves for a single moment against his fury. His wife and counsellor always accompanied him upon these excursions, and urged him on by their taunts to further excesses.
One day when they were out on one of their favourite expeditions, and the dogs had not only torn to pieces a poor stag, which had taken refuge among a herd of cows, but had also furiously attacked the herd itself, the herdsmen tried to drive them off, and one of them unslinging his cross-bow, in his anger, shot a dog dead upon the spot. At this the infuriated giant, excited beyond measure by his wicked wife and villainous counsellor, set the whole pack of hounds upon the unhappy herdsmen, and laughed with savage delight as he saw them torn limb from limb by the dogs. But in the midst of this terrible crime, Heaven’s wrath fell heavily upon them. A terrific thunderstorm burst over their heads, and when it had passed away no more was to be seen of King Serles, his wife, or his counsellor, but, in their stead, three huge glaciers rose into the clouds on the spot on which their iniquity had taken place. The one in the middle is the wicked monster Serles, and to his right and left stand his cruel wife and inhuman counsellor.
Teamsters who pass along the Brennerstrasse on stormy nights even now often hear the howling of unearthly dogs, and, during storms, thunderbolts are constantly seen striking the “Rock Giants.”