Many, many years ago the river Danube was split into several arms.
In this beautiful wild landscape the Viennese fishermen lived in their simple wooden huts.
When the Danube was frozen and the fishermen couldn’t do their work they sat together close to a warming oven and told their stories.
So it came on a cold evening that a young handsome fisherman listened to his old father who was talking about the Danube maiden.
He told his son about the glass palace at the bottom of the river where the maiden lived together with her father the Prince of the Danube and he also spoke about their desire to meet people, so he closed his story with the words,
“On warm evenings the beautiful maiden comes out of the depths and sings for the people. Her voice is so wonderful and clear that everyone is enchanted. But take care my dear son; it often happens that young men are so attracted by her sweet voice that they are lost forever.
The son saw his father’s sorrowful face, “Oh father, it’s just a tale. Don’t worry about me.”
In that moment a sudden illumination fills their room. In the doorway she stood; a petite body wearing a long shimmering white dress, her black hair was adorned with white water lilies. Both father and son stared at the kind face of the beauty.
“Don’t be afraid of me,” she said, “I won’t do you any harm. I’m just here to warn you. A strong southerly wind will melt the thick ice of the Danube very quickly and within a few days a big flood will carry away these huts here. Flee as fast as you can!”
Then the wondrous figure disappeared and all was dark as before.
Father and son warned their neighbours, then they packed the essentials and hurried to a save place.
Everything happened as the Danube maiden had predicted.
A few weeks later the water went back and the fishermen were able to return to their former dwelling places.
They built up their huts again; they were happy and grateful that they had been saved from their certain death.
Only the young fisherman couldn’t rejoice. He was longing for the beautiful creature of the Danube. As often as he could the dreamy and sad man sat on the banks of the river and looked into the flowing water. His father knew what that meant and so he tried hard to bring his son to other thoughts. - But all was in vain.
On a hot summer evening the young fisherman climbed in his boat and rowed with slow strokes in the middle of the river.
The next morning the fishermen found the empty boat and close beside they saw a crown of water lilies drifting on the river. His father knew that his son would never return.
Since that day the Danube maiden was never seen again.
Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska
Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for putting the legend on their 'FlashCast 23 - The Legend Continues' !
|Woodcut of Vienna 1493|