MATTHIAS Lauter, generally known under the name of “Matz-Lauter,” was born at Brixen, and used to live on a mountain, near Latzfons. He was everywhere dreaded, for his sorceries surpassed the power of any other man to excel. There are still many people living in the neighbourhood who knew him, and can tell many curious things concerning him. Matz used to wander about all the country through, because he could never find rest anywhere, and constantly visited the huts of the peasants, who willingly gave him all he asked for, to rid themselves of his company; and sometimes, out of thanks, he showed them a few of his tricks.
One day, in the common room of a farm belonging to a well-to-do peasant, he made in each of the four corners a different sort of weather at the same moment. In one corner the sun shone, in the second it was dark, and the wind was whistling gloomily; in the third, soft warm rain was falling; and in the fourth, a terrific storm of thunder, lightning, and hail was going on. At another time, he forced fowls, which were on the opposite side of the Eisach valley, to fly over to him and lay eggs at his feet, of which he made a present to the farm-people who had been kind to him.
It was generally believed that his art came from the devil, which, however, has been contradicted by the fact that he tormented and dared the old gentleman far more than any one had ever done before, and it is recounted as perfectly certain that once he forced him to clear a way through a forest, through which it was impossible for even a goat to pass, and with such rapidity that he could ride behind on a fast-galloping horse. Another time he forced his Satanic Majesty to catch an enormous mountain oak, which he pitched down to him from a height of four thousand feet.
Matz-Lauter was also much dreaded as a weather-maker, and often boasted that hating mankind, he took pleasure in harming them; and he confessed that only the ringing of consecrated bells had any control over his power, and if round about there had not been the bells of the chapel of St. Anton, near Feldthurns, those of the church of Laien, the enormous clock of the chapel of Latzfons, and the shrill sounds of the belfry of the chapel of St. Peter, a little pilgrimage about two miles from Latzfons, and a mile or so from his own hut, he would long since have reversed the huge mountain, which stands over the village of Latzfons, and buried in its ruins all who lived on or beneath it.
One day Matz-Lauter was found by some huntsman dead on the mountain, and directly the news spread, every one wanted to climb up and see his body; but it had disappeared, and even now every peasant of the neighbourhood is certain that the devil carried off the body of the sorcerer, after having first claimed his soul.