THE CHAMOIS HUNTER
A CHAMOIS-RUNTER set out early one morning, and ascended the mountains. He had arrived at a great height, and was in view of some chamois, when, just as he was laying his bolt on his crossbow, and was about to shoot, a terrible cry from a cleft of the rock interrupted his purpose. Turning round he saw a hideous Dwarf, with a battle-axe in his hand raised to slay him. "Why," cried he, in a rage, "hast thou so long been destroying my chamois, and leavest not with me my flock? But now thou shalt pay for it with thy blood.' The poor hunter turned
pale at the stranger's words. In his terror he was near falling from the cliff.
At length, however, he recovered himself; and begged forgiveness of the Dwarf; pleaded his ignorance that the chamois belonged to him, declaring at the same time that he had no other means of support than what he derived from hunting. The Dwarf was pacified, laid down his axe, and said to him, "Tis well; never be seen here again, and I promise thee that every seventh day thou shalt find, early in the morning, a dead chamois hanging before thy cottage; but beware and keep from the others." The Dwarf then vanished, and the hunter returned thoughtfully home, little pleased with the prospect of the inactive live be was now to lead.
On the seventh morning he found, according to the Dwarf's promise, a fat chamois hanging in the branches of a tree before his cottage, of which he ate with great satisfaction. The next week it was the same, and so it continued for some months. But at last he grew weary of this idle life, and preferred, come what might, returning to the chase, and catching chamois for himself; to having his food provided for him without the remembrance of his toils to sweeten the repast. His determination made, he once more ascended the mountains. Almost the first object that met his view was a fine buck. The hunter levelled his bow and took aim at the prey; and as the Dwarf did not appear, he was just pulling the trigger, when the Dwarf stole behind him, took him by the ankle, and tumbled him down the precipice.
Others say the Dwarf gave the hunter a small cheese of chamois-milk, which would last him his whole life, but that he one day thoughtlessly ate the whole of it, or, as some will have it, a guest who was ignorant of the quality of it ate up the remainder. Poverty then drove him to return to the chamois-hunting, and he was thrown into a chasm by the Dwarf. [a]
[a] The former account was obtained by a friend in Glarnerland. The latter was given to Mr. Wyss himself by a man of Zweylütschinen, very rich, says Mr. Wyss, in Dwarf lore, and who accompanied him to Lauterbrunnen. Schiller has founded his poem Der Alpenjäger on this legend.