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There used to be ghosts here in the castle, didn't there?

 

The last castle maiden of Merlau.

Three white maidens are said to have built Merlau Castle, as everyone in Merlau knows. At the end, when the castle was deserted, only one of them was left. She often went to the mill dressed from head to toe in white and carrying a large bunch of keys with her, sighing sadly as she went. She was never heard to speak. When the last stone had been razed to the ground and the last wall broken down, she was seen once more before sunrise sitting by the old moat, growing thinner and thinner and more and more transparent, until, like the morning mist and the dew of the meadows, she melted into fragrance before the coming daylight. Since then, every trace of her has disappeared.

 

The sleeping shepherd in front of Merlau Castle

During Advent, one of the old Merlau shepherds was walking near the castle when he noticed that the air suddenly became muggy and he was overcome by an irresistible desire to lie down and rest. Almost without delay, he stretched out on the ground and, propping his head up, slept with one hand over his eyes. He had hardly been asleep for a few minutes when he dreamt that he heard a sweet music in the earth below him. He rubbed his eyes in amazement and heard everything quite clearly. A tall, white female figure with large, dark, deep-set eyes and black hair stood before him. She held a bunch of keys in front of his face. Confused, the shepherd turned away, but she hovered over him and again eagerly offered him the keys. Now he jumped up and looked away, but she tried a third time to force the keys on him. At the same moment he heard a terrible crash like a thunderclap, and the figure fled.

He hurried home to his wife and child and told them everything. The white woman did not harm him or speak a word, but her gestures were so pleading and compassionate that the shepherd regretted all his life not having granted her wish. She never appeared to him again.

 

The wounded confirmation child.

The village church in Merlau had long since fallen into disrepair, and services were held in the otherwise dilapidated ruins of the castle, part of which was still well preserved but completely unoccupied. In an outbuilding, the so-called chancellery, the pastor gave lessons to the confirmands.

It often happened that the children had to wait for the pastor and passed the time before the lessons with all kinds of amusements in the empty rooms of the castle. Often they played hide and seek and romped through the quiet rooms in loud merriment. Once a pale orphan had been looking for a good hiding place and had finally stumbled into a room where there was a big old stove. He crawled under the stove and held his breath so that his comrades would not find him.

Then the tower clock struck eleven, the time when lessons were to begin. The child was about to leave his hiding place when a woman dressed all in white appeared at the door. As if in a dream, she floated towards the child and held out a bunch of keys. The child, frozen with fright, managed to jump for the exit. But then the white woman stood in his way, held the keys out to him and shouted, "Take them! Take it!". But the child tore open the door and tried to escape. Thereupon the white woman was filled with fierce anger and allowed the child to pass, but threw the keys at his head so violently that he fell backwards to the ground with blood running down his face.

The child lay in a deep daze for a long time, but finally picked himself up and made his way to his class, only to find that the lesson was long over. Time had flown by, but he didn't know how. And no one would have believed his story to be true if the imprint of the keys had not remained visible on his wounded head.


These three stories are true, whatever that might mean between friends.