OVER the high valley of Alperschon stands a mountain called Gerichtsalp, belonging to the canton of Landeck, of which the judge, for centuries past, has had the right of letting the meadows to all the different parishes of the district; and from time immemorial it has been the privilege of the flock-herds to pasture there also their own animals, together with those of their masters, and then to sell them in the autumn on their own account.
There was at that time upon the Alp a young “Sennin” (or herd-woman), who had among the herd some of her own pigs, of which she took rather too much care, for she cheated the parish to feed them, and gave them goat-milk and the milk from the butter, so that they soon became very fat and round; while the parish pigs she made live upon the thin cheese whey, upon which, of course, they did not thrive. The Sennin was always gay and joking, and sang the nicest songs, and therefore every one liked her for her good temper, and nobody dreamed that she was an alm thief.
A couple of root seekers of the village of Schnaun, the girl’s native village, often climbed the Alp, and one day, when busy over their work, they remained there longer than usual, after the Sennin had driven the herd home. They were in the habit of using the empty enclosure in which the pigs were driven to rest in the middle of the day, as a drying-place for their roots, and when they returned home again, late at night, to Schnaun, they heard to their great astonishment that “the pretty young Sennin” had suddenly died, and they stayed a few days in the village to attend her funeral with the rest of the villagers.
Some few days afterwards, they went up again on the mountain to resume their usual business, and it was almost quite dark as they arrived on their favourite spot. As they approached the enclosure, they heard the voice of some one calling the pigs to their feeding-troughs, which they immediately recognized as that of the dead young Sennin, and, as they approached nearer, they saw her in bodily form, carrying a bucket of whey in her hand, and walking about in the enclosure, but red as a fiery furnace. The men stood thunderstruck and gasped with terror, and the spirit called to them, “Yes, sigh for me; here I must burn until my dishonesty is wiped away, even to the last pfennig;” and in saying this she disappeared from their sight, while making a terrific noise, and enveloped in a cloud of sulphurous smoke.