Gundl was not only beautiful but also well accomplished. One day, she danced with the devil…
Long, long ago there lived a knight in a large castle on Mount Brandberg in Austria. He had a beautiful daughter called Gundl. She could ride as well as any soldier and dance beautifully. When she grew up the knight asked her to choose a husband. But Gundl refused. She was sure that no one could ride or dance as well as she did, not even the king’s knights or soldiers. She wanted someone better than herself.
Time to choose
The knight gave a huge party where he invited all the promising young men in the kingdom. To please Gundl he arranged for a riding competition so that she might choose the best. But Gundl shook her head and said that she was not impressed by any of them.
“Then what am I to do, my daughter?” he asked in despair.
“Perhaps they may dance better,” said Gundl.
The music started and Gundl danced with one knight after another. Once again, she was not impressed.
Just then a total stranger walked in and came to dance with Gundl. This time Gundl was impressed and went on dancing with him. They danced all round the hall, all the way down the staircase, all along the courtyard…. and then, they just vanished. Everyone hunted for them. But no one could find them. People said that Gundl had been kidnapped by the devil because she was so proud.
Gundl’s father continued to search for her without any success. Then one day a poor labourer came and told him that there was one steep hill with a cottage where he had not looked.
“But the hill is so steep,” said the knight, “I don’t think I can climb it.”
“I’ll come with you,” said the labourer.
They went up and knocked on the door of the cottage. An old and ugly woman opened the door. “I am looking for my daughter Gundl. Can you tell me where she is?” asked the knight. The woman said, “I’ll tell you if you agree to give up your castle and all your wealth.” “Of course I agree,” said the knight, “My daughter is more precious to me than all my wealth.”
“Then do it,” said the old woman.
The knight returned and gave away his castle and all his wealth to the poor, keeping just a tiny farm and cottage for himself. Then he climbed up the hill once again with the labourer. To his surprise he found Gundl standing there. “Father, I had been kidnapped by the devil,” she said “I turned old and ugly because he put a spell on me. But when you agreed to give up everything for my sake the spell was broken and I am free.”
“But you are a poor farmer’s daughter now,” said the knight.
“Never mind, father,” said Gundl.
“Will you marry me?” asked the labourer, “I am a poor labourer.”
“Of course,” said Gundl smiling, “I am poor too.”
They lived happily ever after.
An Austrian folk tale