The old legend about the Maiden of Rosenau comes here in a new version. The Counts of Rosenau were members of the lower aristocracy, and it was no secret that they were deeply in debt. The present Count of the Rosenau, a ruffian and lout, wanted to solve the problem by marrying into money.
A ruthless lower aristocrat
He courted a maiden named Roshain who would inherit great riches. When she showed no interest in him at all, he abducted her and carried her off to the Rosenau. Once they had entered matrimony, Roshain’s riches would be his, and so he made every effort to force her to marry him. He harassed her wherever he could, let her go hungry and wear flimsy clothes.
One morning in the middle of winter he pressed a broom into her hand and sent her out in her thin dress to sweep away the dirt. But still Roshain was not intimidated. Then the Count of Rosenau lost his temper and cursed her, “Damn you, go beneath the soil and get rotten!” An icy breath of wind raced over the castle and from one moment to the other silence and darkness fell. A gloomy rumble came from within the earth, then it rifted apart under Roshain’s feet and engulfed her. “Fly out on your broom!” the Count sneered as he watched her disappear.
Somewhere beneath the soil
Darkness surrounded Roshain. She groped about in the darkness, but all she felt was solid rock. As it seemed, she was in a cave below the castle, and there was no way out. In her desperation, she sank to the ground and cried bitterly. Suddenly, there was a sparkling and rustling on the wall. Blinded by it Roshain closed her eyes.
When she opened them again, she saw a fairy standing there who looked at her with determination in her eyes, “You know, Roshain, he can have that,” she said, “you will fly out of here on your broom, and more.” The fairy picked up Roshain’s broom, spoke a magic spell and pressed it into her hand. “Don’t be afraid,” she went on, “you can do that. Fly out of here on your broom and then around the castle, and you will see … no Count of Rosenau will find ever peace here again.”
Do you still want to marry me?
Still doubtful, Roshain followed the fairy. It was as if she flew through a star cluster, then she felt the clear winter air. At first, she got dizzy as she flew on her broom through the air and looked down on the castle, but soon it felt just alright. Below, the Count stood with some of his drinking companions, laughing in his loutish way. Suddenly, he heard a low hiss above him, he looked up – and turned pale. The damned Maiden of Rosenau had not gone rotten beneath the soil, but was flying around on her broom, high above his head! He was shaking all over.
Roshain landed her broom in front of him and looked him straight in the eye, “Do you still want to marry me?” she asked calmly. The Count, shaking more with fear than with spite, could not speak, only a croak came over his lips. Roshain took her broom as if to sweep the ground in front of the Count. Suddenly, he was caught by a gust of wind that took him away, deep into the forests. Later, merciful monks found him on the bottom of a gorge. He had almost fallen to his death. They took him with them and healed his injuries, but never dared to set foot out of his cell in the monastery again.
The magic broom
“This is only the beginning, Roshain,” said the fairy, “your broom now has magic powers. You can sweep hidden things or medical plants from under the snow, or you can sweep away villains. But be careful. You live in a time in which most people know little about the world beyond their everyday lives. What they do not know or understand rather frightens them. It is wiser to remain unrecognized.” Roshain followed her advice. She put on her flimsy dresses and rubbed mud into her face when she mounted her broom at night and helped wherever she could. So the prophecy was fulfilled. Also the next Counts of Rosenau were not happy there. When the last one, a certain Dietrich, had died, his family sold the castle right away.
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