IN THE Senderser valley, which winds up the mountain from Innsbruck, behind the villages of Axams, Götzens, and Grinzens, upon the high Alps, stands the Kemateneler Alm, also called Heach, upon which the peasants of Kematen pasture about a hundred cows.
On this Heach, so goes the legend, on the eves of great fête days a gigantic Alm Ghost is to be seen, who unchains the cows, and lets them run upon the Alm, while with enormous speed and strength he cleans the stables, and carries off the litter in a wheel-barrow. He does this work with so much rapidity that the mountain trembles; and when the morning Angelus rings in the village, the work is all finished, and the cows are again chained up in their stalls. Of course, the frequent recurrence of this fact accustomed the people to it, and they leave the Putz alone, as he never injures them, but rather, on the contrary, renders them a great service.
But when the good old cow-herd died, a new one took his place, a man devoid in every way of either religion or good feeling, who would not believe in the apparition, and only laughed at all those who affirmed its existence. Soon afterwards, when he heard with his own ears the noise made by the busy Alm-Putz, he wished to sift the matter to the bottom, and discover whether the Putz used a supernatural wheelbarrow or the one appertaining to his own worthy self; so, for this purpose, he tied a bell to the vehicle in question. The eve of the next fête day the herdsman and some companions heard the well-known sound of the bell which he had attached to the barrow. “Do you hear?” said the herdsman; “the Putz really uses my wheelbarrow, so now he must only work for us.” And, in saying so, he joked and sneered, in spite of the repeated exhortations of the other men, who ran off in terror at his oaths.
About a fortnight afterwards the cow-herd was standing at midday before his hut, while his two milkers were getting their dinner, when all at once the gigantic ghost passed by, and the wicked man shouted after him in derision, “Be not so proud, sorcerer, but come and eat with us, since you have worked so hard a whole night for us.” The Putz replied not one word, but striding towards the herdsman, he regarded him so ferociously, that the frightened man fled in terror into the hut, where the Putz followed him. The milkers heard the screams of their companion, but dare not go to his rescue until the Putz had left the hut, and when they found courage to enter it, they discovered the wicked man lying on the floor, covered with fearful wounds and bruises. They carried him down to the village, where he died two days afterwards.
Since that time no one has ever dreamed of interfering with the terrible Alm Ghost; the villagers leave him in peace to follow his favourite mountain occupation.