Legends are many, so I leave the reader to decide if this is the truth or just a legend.
In a land far away a long time ago there was a place where the fox and hare said goodnight to each other. Well, not quite, as there were some people living in their isolated huts finding a living from the land surrounding them. There were mostly green fields filled with enough juicy grass for the cows to eat and chew during the summer on the higher places. This grass available to be dried and used as hay during the snow covered winter months. The people living here were simple, honest people and the families living in the valleys nesting between the slopes knew each other. They helped each other when there were problems and they met perhaps once a month at the cattle markets in the town. Such was the place where Vreni and Hans grew up. Their families were separated by steep slopes, but they had the same background and they met when their families took them to the monthly market in town. As children they would play together on these occasions and as they got older they went to the same school. It was a long walk down the slopes to the school house but they often met and walked part of the steep way home together. After they parted they climbed higher to their huts but Hans always stopped to call Vreni. The echo was very strong on the mountain paths and Vreni would call back.
As Hans and Vreni became older they found that their feelings for each other were not just as school friends, but more and they both realised that their destiny was to be spent together. They would often meet at a local dance that was held in one of the mountain huts and Vreni felt so happy in the arms of Hans as they twirled on the dance floor. She was enchanted by the rhythm and the movements of their bodies together in time to the music. Sometimes the villagers would sing some old folk tunes during the evening and Hans and Vreni would join in. The songs were as old as the huts they lived in, but were handed down from family to family.
The day soon came when Hans visited Vreni’s parents and asked for her hand in marriage. He stood before her father and mother, holding his hat in his hands and trembling. What would he do if Vreni’s father refused? Vreni was the world for Hans. Vreni’s father spoke
“Do you love my daughter Hans? Will you care for her and do everything to make her happy for ever.”
“Yes sir” was the answer.
“Hans, this is all I need to know” said the father, you have our blessing and may you be happy together.”
Hans and Vreni were overjoyed; at last they could make their plans for the future. It was decided that after the marriage they would move into the house belonging to Hans’ parents until they had built their own little farm. Land was enough on these soft slopes for all. However, something occurred that destroyed the hopes that Vreni and Hans had for their future life in their beloved mountains. A hard winter came upon the families, the months were cold, the ground frozen and there were heavy snowfalls. Eventually the spring came and the families were hoping for better weather, but this was not to be. In spring there were heavy rainfalls, washing the good earth down the slopes and afterwards the summer arrived accompanied by a drought. There remained only enough for half of the families to make their living on the slopes.
Another plague arrived in the land. The preachers came from far distant places. They told the people that they had been cursed because they were more interested in their pleasures than in work. They said that they were punished for the evenings that they spent dancing and singing and this was the reason why there was no water for their cattle and no luscious green grass more on the slopes. Some of the villagers believed these superstitions and joined the preachers in their ways. The people were suffering such hardships and it was very soon that dancing and singing were forbidden.
Hans and Vreni soon saw that there was no future for them in the homelands where they grew up and loved so much and decided they would leave and seek their fortune in other pastures. Although their families were sad, they knew this would be the only chance that they would have for a future life together. They moved away to another part of the country where there were bigger towns. Here there were no pastures, cows, or familiar faces. They had no choice but to settle down and find work. Hans was soon working in one of the factories, where labour was needed and at least could earn money to keep his wife and children. The new railways were being built in their country and Hans was working in a factory manufacturing the metal rails. In the meanwhile Vreni had given birth to three boys. Although she missed her mountains very much, she knew her life was now in the town. She could even dance and sing again, as the towns were less superstitious than the villages. The towns also had market days once a month and Vreni often visited buying what she needed for their daily needs. Sometimes she saw handcrafts from the area where she grew up. Perhaps a hand painted butter dish, or crocheted cloths for the household. Then she would remember her mother sitting by the fireside in the evening and working on such things. There was always a dance evening to accompany the market days in the town and Hans and Vreni were often found taking part.
As time passed they had both made a second home in the town. The boys were growing well, were very good at school and Hans was now one of the supervisors in his factory. Then one day tragedy hit the family. There was an accident in the factory and Hans was immediately killed, crushed by a falling rail. Vreni was devastated. Her Hans had been taken from her so quickly, but she was not alone. Her sons stood by her and looked after her. As Vreni got older she had a wish. She wanted to visit her village again, to see the slopes and hear the mountain streams splashing. She wanted to see the cattle, visit her old home. Her parents were no longer alive, but she had one wish to see everything again before she died. The false preachers were long gone, and a healthy climate was again restored in this land.
The railways now covered the country completely and even the mountainous areas had lifts to carry the people to the heights. Vreni’s oldest son Hans junior, saw that his mother was no longer so happy and asked her why. Vreni told him she wanted to see her beloved mountains just once more in her lifetime. Hans decided it was at last the opportunity to see the places of his ancestors himself and so he arranged to make the journey with his mother. It was still quite a distance to travel in those days, even by train, and they arrived only in the evening and booked rooms at the local guest house.
After their evening meal they retired to their rooms, but Vreni could not sleep. She looked out of the window of her room and saw the outline of the peaks of the mountains reflected by the moonlight. Although the night was drawing in, she decided to take a walk through the streets of her memories, she would find the way by following the stars. She moved constantly upwards, and felt stone for stone under her feet. It was as if she was moving in a spell.
The village was soon left behind her and she had returned to the surroundings of her childhood. She turned a corner on the way and there it was, a small mountain hut the windows glowing from the reflection of oil lamps. It was then she heard it, the music streaming out of the open door. She came closer to the hut and saw the people dancing together, hammering on the wooden tables keeping the beat of the music. The vibrating thud of feet in wooden clogs keeping the rhythm could be felt on the wooden floor. The hut was decorated with alpine roses. She looked at the people; smiling, happy faces, some singing to the music. It was then that she saw him, sitting alone at a table, dressed in his best shirt and wearing his best hat, the one that she remembered him wearing on the day he had asked her father for her hand. As she entered the hut he looked up at her and their eyes met again. They walked towards each other, and their arms clasped around each other and they were dancing again. Vreni had no feeling more for time, there was magic in the air and she was again happy.
The next morning Hans junior knocked at his mother’s door in the inn, but there was no answer. He found the door open, but his mother was not in her room. He asked at the reception but they had not seen Vreni. It was then that one of the servants in the inn said she saw a lady walking up the path in the evening. A search party was organised and eventually they found the hut that Vreni had discovered the evening before. There was still an old table and chair in the hut and Vreni was sitting in the chair with her head resting on the table as if sleeping. She was not longer in this world, and was holding an alpine rose in her hand.
Writing Prompt #11: Word List - Hans and Vreni