To the traveller from Innsbrück to Munich, up the lovely valley of the silver Inn, many castles appear, one after another, each on its beetling cliff or gentle hill,--appear and disappear, melting into ...
To the traveller from Innsbrück to Munich, up the lovely valley of the
silver Inn, many castles appear, one after another, each on its
beetling cliff or gentle hill,--appear and disappear, melting into the
dark fir trees that grow so thickly on every side,--Laneck, Lichtwer,
Ratholtz, Tratzberg, Matzen, Kropfsberg, gathering close around the
entrance to the dark and wonderful Zillerthal.
But to us--Tom Rendel and myself--there are two castles only: not the
gorgeous and princely Ambras, nor the noble old Tratzberg, with its
crowded treasures of solemn and splendid mediævalism; but little
Matzen, where eager hospitality forms the new life of a never-dead
chivalry, and Kropfsberg, ruined, tottering, blasted by fire and
smitten with grievous years,--a dead thing, and haunted,--full of
strange legends, and eloquent of mystery and tragedy.
We were visiting the von C--s at Matzen, and gaining our first
wondering knowledge of the courtly, cordial castle life in the
Tyrol,--of the gentle and delicate hospitality of noble Austrians.
Brixleg had ceased to be but a mark on a map, and had become a place
of rest and delight, a home for homeless wanderers on the face of
Europe, while Schloss Matzen was a synonym for all that was gracious
and kindly and beautiful in life. The days moved on in a golden round
of riding and driving and shooting: down to Landl and Thiersee for
chamois, across the river to the magic Achensec, up the Zillerthal,
across the Schmerner Joch, even to the railway station at Steinach.
And in the evenings after the late dinners in the upper hall where the
sleepy hounds leaned against our chairs looking at us with suppliant
eyes, in the evenings when the fire was dying away in the hooded
fireplace in the library, stories. Stories, and legends, and fairy
tales, while the stiff old portraits changed countenance constantly
under the flickering firelight, and the sound of the drifting Inn came
softly across the meadows far below.
If ever I tell the Story of Schloss Matzen, then will be the time to
paint the too inadequate picture of this fair oasis in the desert of
travel and tourists and hotels; but just now it is Kropfsberg the
Silent that is of greater importance, for it was only in Matzen that
the story was told by Fräulein E--, the gold-haired niece of Frau von
C--, one hot evening in July, when we were sitting in the great west
window of the drawing-room after a long ride up the Stallenthal.
All the windows were open to catch the faint wind, and we had sat for
a long time watching the Otzethaler Alps turn rose-color over distant
Innsbrück, then deepen to violet as the sun went down and the white
mists rose slowly until Lichtwer and Laneck and Kropfsberg rose like
craggy islands in a silver sea.
And this is the story as Fräulein E---told it to us,--the Story of
A great many years ago, soon after my grandfather died, and Matzen
came to us, when I was a little girl, and so young that I remember
nothing of the affair except as something dreadful that frightened me
very much, two young men who had studied painting with my grandfather
came down to Brixleg from Munich, partly to paint, and partly to amuse
themselves,--"ghost-hunting" as they said, for they were very sensible
young men and prided themselves on it, laughing at all kinds of
"superstition," and particularly at that form which believed in ghosts
and feared them.
They had never seen a real ghost, you know, and they belonged to a
certain set of people who believed nothing they had not seen
themselves,--which always seemed to me very conceited.