IN THE hamlet of Wälsch’nofen, about ten miles from the village of Völs, lived a certain Binder-Hansl. He was a broom-binder, and, as his name was Hans (or John), they called him the “Binder-Hansl.”
He died in the year 1824, and was regretted all over the country, for he was a noted peasant doctor, or “Wonder Doctor,” as they called him. Besides curing all sorts of maladies of man and beast, he had a charm against sorcery and witchcraft, and where any suspicious circumstance took place in house or stable, Hans was called, and never failed to help.
One day, in the time of war, the Binder-Hansl went to the village of Botzen, and on the route, near the lane called Kuntersweg, he met the smith of the village of Kartaun, who had been forced by the French troops to carry their big drum, which was very heavy, and when the smith complained very bitterly about it to his friend, Hans said laughingly, “I should send the drum to the devil, and then I should be rid of it.” At this the French punished him for his boldness, by forcing him to march with them, carrying at his turn the drum on his back. So he was obliged to carry it up to the Feigenbrücke, near Blumenau; but when he had arrived there, he set the drum on the ground, and said, “By this way I have come, and by this way I will return;” while a Frenchman, who spoke German perfectly well, said, “Churl, take up the drum, or--” and he lunged at him with his naked sword. But the Binder-Hansl laughed at him, and replied, “We shall see;” and at the same moment he stretched out his hand over the Frenchmen, and they became all as motionless as stones.
There he left them standing and went laughing from the Feigenbrücke, over the steep mountain lane, which is called the “Katzenleiter” (Cat’s Ladder). After he had climbed to the summit of the mountain, he shouted, “Be off, fools, now you have seen my power,” and making again a sign with his hand, they all came to life, and taking up their drum they ran off, as only Frenchmen can.