JOURNEY OF DWARFS OVER THE MOUNTAIN
On the north side of the Hartz there dwelt several thousand Dwarfs in the clefts of the rocks, and in the Dwarf-caves that still remain. It was, however, but rarely that they appeared to the inhabitants in a visible form; they generally went about among them protected by their mist-caps; unseen and unnoticed.
Many of these Dwarfs were good-natured, and, on particular occasions, very obliging to the inhabitants, who used, for instance, in case of a wedding or a christening, to borrow various articles for the table out of the caves of the Dwarfs, It was, however, highly imprudent to provoke their resentment; as when injured or offended, they were malicious and wicked, and did every possible injury to the offender.
A baker, who lived in the valley between Blenkenburg and Quedlinburg, used to remark that a part of the loaves he baked was always missing, though he never could find out the thief. This continual secret theft was gradually reducing him to poverty. At last he began to suspect the Dwarfs of being the cause of his misfortune. He accordingly got a bunch of little twigs, and beating the air with them in all directions, at length struck the mist-caps off some Dwarfs, who could now conceal themselves no longer. There was a great noise made about it; several other Dwarfs were caught in the act of committing theft, and at last the whole of the Dwarf-people were forced to quit the country. In order, in some degree, to indemnify the inhabitants for what had been stolen, and at the same time to be able to estimate the number of those that departed, a large cask was set up on what is now called Kirchberg, near the village of Thele, into which each Dwarf was to cast a piece of money. This cask was found, after the departure of the Dwarfs, to be quite filled with ancient coins, so great was their number.
The Dwarf-people went by Warnstadt, a village not far from Quedinburg, still going toward the east. Since that time the Dwarfs have disappeared out of this country; and it is only now and then that a solitary one may be seen.
The Dwarfs on the south side of the Hartz were, in a similar manner, detected plundering the corn-fields. They also agreed to quit the country, and. it was settled that they should pass over a small bridge near Neuhof, and that each, by way of transit-duty, should cast a certain portion of his property into a cask to be set there. The peasants, on their part, covenanted not to appear or look at them. Some, however, had the curiosity to conceal themselves under the bridge, that they might at least hear them departing. They succeeded in their design, and heard during several hours, the trampling of the little men, sounding exactly as if a large flock of sheep was going over the bridge.
Other accounts of the departure of the Dwarfs relate as follows:--
The Dosenberg is a mountain in Hesse on the Schwalm, in which, not far from the bank of the stream, are two holes by which the Dwarfs [a] used to go in and out. One of them. came frequently in a friendly way to the grandfather of Tobi in Singlis, when he was out in his fields. As he was one day cutting his corn he asked him if he would the next night, for a good sum of money, take a freight over the river. The farmer agreed, and in the evening the Dwarf brought him a sack of wheat as an earnest. Four horses were then put to the waggon, and the farmer drove to the Dosenberg, out of the holes of which the Dwarf brought heavy, but invisible loads to the waggon, which the farmer then drove through the water over to the other side. He thus kept going backwards and forwards from ten at night till four in the morning, by which time the horses were quite tired. Then said the Dwarf; "It is enough, now you shall see what you have been carrying!" He bade him look over his right shoulder, and then he saw the country far and near filled with the Dwarfs. "These thousand years," then said the Dwarf, "have we dwelt in the Dosenberg; our time is now up, and we must go to another land. But the hill is still so full of money that it would suffice for the whole country." He then loaded Tobi's waggon with money and departed. The farmer had difficulty in bringing home so heavy a load, but he became a rich man. His posterity are still wealthy people, but the Dwarfs have disappeared out of the country for ever.
At Offensen on the Aller in Lower Saxony, lived a great farmer, whose name was Hövermann. He had a boat on the river; and one day two little people came to him and asked him to put them over the water. They went twice over the Aller to a great tract of land that is called. the Allerô, which is an uncultivated plain extending so wide and far that one can hardly see over it. When the farmer had crossed the second time one of the Dwarfs said to him, "Will you have now a sum of money or so much a head?" "I'd rather have a sum of money," said the farmer. One of them took off his hat and put it on the farmer's head, and said, "You'd have done better to have taken so much a head." The farmer, who had as yet seen nothing and whose boat had gone as if there was nothing in it, now beheld the whole Allerô swarming (krimmeln un wimmeln) with little men. These were the Dwarfs that he had brought over. From that time forward the Hövermanns had the greatest plenty of money, but they are all now dead and gone, and the place is sold. But when was this? Oh! in the old time when the Dwarfs were in the world, but now there 's no more of them, thirty or forty years ago. [b]
[a] The terms used in the original are Wichtelmänner, Wichtelmännerchen, and Wichtel.
[b] Grimm, Deut. Mythol, p. 428. The latter story is in the Low-Saxon dialect.