THE MERMAID OF WEISSBAD

 

Franz-Josef was the youngest son of a Rechböhl farmer, and loved to while away his free hours in the Weissbach ravine, where he was always able to observe deer and stags as they came to their watering place. Nor was he averse, after haymaking in summer, to bathing in the river bed at the "end of the world", where the water was particularly clear and deep.

 

As he approached the river one evening at the supper hour, he noticed in his favourite spot a particularly graceful young woman with long blonde hair, swimming there in the water in all her natural beauty.

 

Hiding in the bushes, he watched as she reclined on a gravelly bank. With a sudden start he noticed that instead of legs, she actually had a long fish tail! Curious, he leaner further forwards, lost his balance and fell headlong into the water.

 

Hearing a merry laugh, he looked up timidly and saw the mermaid standing directly in front of him. This must be the legendary mermaid, he recollected, of whom such wondrous tales are told. She drives young men so wild that they follow her into her watery kingdom and are never seen again.

 

Terrified, he asked her who she was and what she was doing here. "For three hundred years, I have been guarding the pure water of the Weissbach. As you can see, the water gives me eternal youth. And if you promise to marry me, then you can become one of us and live forever as I do."

 

He did not particularly dream of such a life, but the girl was so very beautiful, and his heart was pounding so wildly, that he asked her for her hand in marriage. Then she snatched his hand and drew him down into the river where it was at its deepest. Since that day, the young man has never been seen again; and for many years, people in Weissbach valley mused over his disappearance. But on warm nights, when the moon is full, it is said that the merry laughter of a young couple can be heard at the "end of the world"; nobody, however, has ever investigated the full truth.

 

Even today, spring water from the "end of the world" is said to be very special, and those who drink it regularly or bathe there remain healthy even into old age.

 

There are also said to be connoisseurs who, after bathing in the Weissbach or elsewhere, go just one step further for their health, and, so to speak as a preventative measure,  take just a little drop now and then of something a little stronger: a good old Swiss Alpine from the Säntis, Sigel, Dreifaltigkeit or Marwees editions, as the fancy takes them.