THE Floitenthal, near the Ziller valley, is surrounded by such terrific mountains, chasms, and rocks, as are nowhere else to be seen; the mountains of Floitenthurm and Teufelseck especially attract the attention of the traveller. The latter mountain is called “Teufelseck” (devil’s corner), because it is said that at certain times the devil is seen descending from it, in the form of a huge fiery dragon. He then flies through the Bleiarzkar, a narrow hole in the rock, which leads through the Stilluppe into the Zillerthal. This hell-dragon is called the Alber, and whenever he appears, plague, famine, and war are the sure consequences.
It once happened that during a pitch-dark night, two men climbed the cherry-tree, which stands close to the Mission Cross of Algund, near the village of Meran. One of them, the tailor Hanser, was a most wicked man, an idle vagabond and debauchee; and just on that dreadful night he had made a bet with some of his worthless companions to fetch home cherries from the tree near the cross; but as he was a rank coward, he dare not go alone, and so he persuaded a good villager, the old Loaserer Sepp, to accompany him.
Sepp first ascended the tree, but could nowhere find any cherries, so he climbed higher and higher, almost to the very top, and he was very much astonished at not being able to discover the least sign of fruit, for he knew the tree to be loaded; as he climbed, he noticed a peculiar noise among the leaves, which disquieted him not a little. Hanser, in the meanwhile, had remained on a lower branch, where he found cherries by the hatful. At last Sepp shouted to him, “Hanser, can you find any?” to which Hanser replied, “Oh! yes, wherever I put my hand they hang in clusters.” So Sepp descended to help his friend in gathering, but was unable to find one single cherry, while Hanser was filling his basket as fast as he could from the abundance which surrounded him.
Sepp began to feel very uncomfortable, and as he stood on the bough close to Hanser, he all at once saw the Alber fly by, lighting all around with the brilliancy of an electric fire. At this sight the tailor trembled so much that Sepp was obliged to hold him, to prevent him from falling, and said, “Has it already gone so far with you, Hanser, that the devil not only gives you his blessing, but lights you also to find all the cherries? Then may God preserve you.” He then shouted to the fiery Alber, “Hi there! wait a little till I can find some cherries too.” But the devil flew off with the speed of lightning.
Even now people admire the courage of the Loaserer Sepp, who dare do such a thing, and accompany the worthless tailor on such an errand; but as he was a good man, the Evil One had no power over him, and so he escaped the punishment, which otherwise would have befallen him.