HANNES THE PEAT CUTTER

 

About 300 years ago, on the hillside above Gonton moor, a smallholder and peat cutter named Hannes is said to have lived. He had a special gift, and was able to "counter heat and fire". In other words, he was able to heal fever and swellings, get rid of warts and even staunch bleeding – all by repeating prayers his deceased mother had taught him. He lived as a loner, and was avoided by his fellow men. The following tale is told about him.

 

One sunny autumn day, as Hannes was cutting peat, his neighbour Franz-Sepp approached, descending along the little lane from Hinterkau. With a halter he was leading his "Choli", who was pulling a cart in which Franz-Sepp’s three little children sat enjoying themselves. With great distress, Hannes noticed the trouble his neighbour was having holding back his horse on the steep lane. Faster and faster the cart wheels turned, until Franz-Sepp was forced to leave go of the halter and run frantically behind the cart with the screaming children.

 

Immediately, Hannes hurried towards the runaway horse, but could do nothing but watch as the horse and cart missed the next corner and, overturning, landed in a heap on the moor. The two younger children, a boy and a girl, stumbled to their feet, crying but not injured; the older boy, however, lay on the ground with an open wound to the back of his head.

 

Neighbour Franz-Sepp had now reached the scene of the accident, seen the situation, and was about to lift his injured son into his arms. But Hannes stood in front of him in a commanding fashion. "He needs a doctor immediately!"  protested Franz-Sepp. "Wait, I will help him," replied Hannes, held his hands over the head of the injured boy and began to murmur a long prayer. And miraculously, the blood stopped flowing from the boy’s head; confused, he opened his eyes and asked what had happened. The younger siblings and their father stood grouped around him, amazed. Hannes also helped the horse back on to its feet, helped Franz-Sepp to set the cart upright again, used his spade for cutting peat to mend the front axle of the cart, harnessed the horse once again and led the horse and cart back to the lane. "Let us put the children back on to the cart, and take them back to your wife. She must bandage up the injured boy," Hannes told his neighbour.

 

In gratitude, Franz-Sepp’s whole family repaid peat-cutter Hannes with a friendship that was close, true and lasting.