UNDER the mountain, Fliegeralm, which now belongs to the Baron Steinbach, of Mühlau, used to stand the shop of a locksmith, whose name was Huis. The hut was situated in a most beautiful position, on the edge of a rushing mountain torrent, close to the side of a dense and magnificent forest of fir-trees. The locksmith was an industrious and fearless man, and the report that during the winter a “Kaser-Mandl” (a Tyrolian mountain ghost) walked about, could not deter him from building his house just beneath the Alm; so he went up in the autumn to fell trees for its construction, about which he set determinedly to work.
The hut was soon finished, and then the locksmith lighted a large fire and commenced his business. One evening, while engaged over his work, he heard footsteps prowling round the hut, and directly afterwards the door was violently shaken, as though it would be forced in. Huis got up, and called out, “Who is there?” and then opening the door, he said, “Well, come in then;” but nobody was to be seen. He went once more to his work, and again heard the same footsteps about the house; so at last, becoming uncomfortable, he determined to retire to rest, in order that he might get up very early in the morning to finish what he was about.
He laid himself down upon a bundle of hay, on which he soon fell asleep; but an hour or two afterwards he was awakened by a most extraordinary noise, and all at once the terrible Alm ghost stood close beside him, and threw himself instantly upon him, like a big butcher’s dog, with fiery eyes, and with the fixed intention of tearing his victim to pieces. But the locksmith brought all his gigantic strength to bear upon the ghost, and dealt him a blow, which hurled him to a distance; then, after this victory, he laid down again in another corner of the hut, and slept peacefully until daybreak; but from that moment he determined never again to pass the night alone in the hut, and so he returned every evening to the valley, carrying his work with him.
He never recounted one single word to any living soul, except his wife, whom he bound down by the strongest vows never to repeat it to any mortal being; but a woman’s confidence is but a stage secret, open to the ears of all who like to listen to it.