A traditional story re-told by Andrew Wright after a re-telling by Nadine Steinkogler of Linz
In Castle Rosenegg a woman waited for a man to save her from an evil creature who watched her morning, noon and night. The man who could save her would receive all the creature’s wealth.
A young man called Martin was collecting dry wood in the forest near
the castle. As he came closer he heard a woman crying in the castle and peering through a window, he saw her white body and arms and face in the darkness.
She cried, “You must save me from this creature!”
Martin couldn’t do that because he had to take the wood he was
collecting back to his mother who was waiting for him. He explained
this to the white woman and said that he would try to come back once he had delivered the wood. The white woman told him to bring three pieces of wood back with him.
“When you come back you must hit the creature three times, each time with a different piece of wood.”
Martin took the wood to his mother and then returned with three heavy sticks. He entered the castle and saw the white woman and the
creature. The creature was a huge black dog sitting on a black box. Martin hit the creature with the first stick and then, taking the second stick he hit it again. However, each time he hit the dog it grew twice as big as before, and its teeth lengthened and its eyes became redder.
Martin gave up. He didn’t hit the dog a third time! He dropped the remaining sticks and ran out of the castle. The white lady’s screams followed him and her words haunted him, when he worked in the forest and even in his bed when he pulled the cover over his head:
“Now I must wait for another hundred years!” She wailed.
I love this story! It has some of the classic themes in it of a woman being captured by a monster and hoping a man would save her marry her and take the monster’s treasure. But Martin respects the responsibilities he has to his mother and feels he must fulfill those first and then come back. He does so and shows amazing courage by any normal standards and, not surprisingly runs away before the dog gets even bigger. After all he has lived with his mother for years and they have worked together and supported each other for years. Why should he risk his life for a woman he has never met before?
In any case the monster hasn’t actually done anything to her as far as we know…only looked! His evil could all be in her imagination! And the story begs the question how she got herself into this mess in the first place.
The only love in this story worth anything is Martin’s love for his mother.