AT THE foot of the gigantic mountain peak on which stands the Sonnenwendjoch, a chalk Alp, over 8000 feet high, stand the hamlets of Brixlegg, Mehrn, and Zimmermoos, upon a lovely plain, from which the Achen rushes down into the valley, and works the lead, silver, and tin foundries, which are the most important of the whole Tyrol. On that spot a fairy used to reside.
Close by lies the little town of Rattenberg, above which used to stand a magnificent stronghold, of which there are now but a few picturesque ruins to be seen. One day the young Baron of the little castle of Mehrn went hunting upon the charming green mountain side, and as in the pursuit of his game he had approached the Sonnenwendjoch, he caught sight of the fairy of the mountain. To see her and fall deeply in love with her was the work of a moment, and the fairy also returned his affection, for the handsome young Baron pleased her. The fairy, who was a guardian of Alpine animals, ordered the youth never to pursue one of them again if he wished her to take any notice of him. Then she led him into her dominions, in which there were endless magnificent things to be seen--gardens of never-fading flowers; deep, clear fountains; meadows, upon which animals were peacefully browsing; and grottoes supported by crystal columns, and whose roofs and walls were like mirrors. They then became engaged, and the Baron received from the fairy a ring as gage of her favour
After that he often went out under the pretence of hunting, but never brought home any game; at which every one was astonished, because he was noted as a good shot and clever huntsman, and had already killed many bears and boars with his dagger alone. Every one was surprised, too, to see that he avoided all the surrounding castles, and seemed to have made up his mind to remain unmarried. Meanwhile, it happened that in the castle of Rattenberg a wedding took place, to which the lord also invited his friend the Baron of Mehrn; and, as it was impossible for him to decline this invitation, he attended the wedding to his great grief, for there he met a young lady of Innsbruck who entangled him in her toils, and pleased him so much that he gave her the fairy’s ring which she had noticed glittering on his finger.
Overcome by shame and remorse at his infidelity, he went on the following morning to the Sonnenwendjoch, where he saw a white doe bounding before him. At that sight the old love of hunting awoke in him, and he pursued the animal to a well-known spot, where, by knocking with his ring, a door in the rock sprang open which led to the entrance of the fairy’s empire. There the youth stood rooted to the ground with terror, for he had not the ring; and suddenly the fairy herself appeared before him, dignified and haughty, not in anger, but in deep grief. She held the ring in her delicate hand, and said in a low sad voice: “You are unfaithful. You have sworn always to think but of me; never to give my ring to another; never to pursue one of my animals, and you have thrice broken your oath. Farewell!”--and in saying so she disappeared from before his eyes.
The Baron had scarcely left the spot when a huge rock rolled down the mountain with the noise of thunder and covered a large portion of the valley with its débris. After that the young man became sad and dejected and left the country, and people say that he went to the Holy Land, from which he has never returned.