The legend of the hero, Siegfried, who slew the monster, and became invulnerable by bathing in its blood, has been immortalized in song and story. Another myth, however, makes the slayer of the dragon a woman. According to this tradition, the savage beast used to descend the mountain every day, like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. The Romans, however, resolved to change its mode of life and make it more domestic in its habits. They, therefore, adopted the custom of bringing daily to the dragon's cave some prisoner whom they had seized. One day, among the captives, was a girl so beautiful that two centurions were on the point of fighting a duel to see which of them should claim her as his own, when the Roman general interfered, and said that for the sake of peace, the maiden should be given to neither of them, but should be handed over to the dragon. This decision was much admired in the army, and was by some compared to the judgment of Solomon.

The next day, therefore, the victim was led to the dragon's cave. The monster soon appeared. For some time it had been suffering from dyspepsia. The Romans had not always been careful to remove the sandals from the feet of their captives, and these had been as hard for the dragon to digest as railway sandwiches are for us. At the sight, therefore, of this lovely morsel, the dragon howled for joy, and advanced, smacking its lips and rattling its scales like a thousand tambourines. But the young maiden was a Christian, and in the pocket of her polonaise, or whatever article of clothing corresponded to it, she had a crucifix. This she drew forth and displayed to the advancing dragon. At sight of it the huge beast stood for a moment petrified with horror; then, with a roar that made the mountain tremble, it fell back down the cliffs, and was dashed to pieces on the rocks below. Whichever legend we adopt as true, certain it is that the only monster on the Drachenfels to-day is the iron horse, which, though occasionally emitting fire and smoke, is, nevertheless, completely tamed, and in the summer season meekly draws a party of tourists to the summit eighteen times a day. The ancient castle, built more than seven hundred years ago, is now a melancholy ruin, but, since 1883, the mountain has been crowned by a magnificent edifice called the Drachenburg, which is the property of a wealthy German baron.

The Drachenfels

The Drachenfels.

The Ascent Of The Drachenfels

The Ascent Of The Drachenfels.

The view from the summit of the Drach-enfels is glorious. The river lies like an avenue of silver, between two limitless expanses of variously colored cultivated fields, traversed by lines of tiny roads resembling wires on a vase of cloisonne, and clotted here and there with white-walled buildings, which in the distance look like children's playthings scattered on a Persian rug. I know of nothing comparable to the impression gained by looking down from a great height upon a thickly settled plain. If one can only be alone at such a time, and have an opportunity to think quietly, he can easily imagine himself contemplating the world from another sphere. and hence can fancy how our earth must look to those removed from all its sordid cares and petty intrigues. For, at that elevation, the towns have dwindled into ant-hills, and human beings rushing to and fro in them, if visible at all, appear like insects; and their ambitions, quarrels, loves, and hates seem hardly more important than the vibrations of a gnat's wings, compared with the sublime ideas of Time and Space, Creation and Eternity, which meet him face to face upon the heights, and show him all that he has lost by lingering so long below.

The Ruined Castle Of The Drachenfels

The Ruined Castle Of The Drachenfels.



On the opposite bank of the river from the Drachenfels, and at an elevation of three hundred and fifty feet above the Rhine, stands the ruined tower of Rolandseck, the view from which is almost unsurpassed. Of all the ruins on the river this has, perhaps, the most poetic legend; for it is said to have been built by the brave and handsome Roland, the nephew of Charlemagne. According to one of several stories, he was betrothed to the daughter of the Lord of Drachenfels, the fairest maiden on the Rhine, and they had pledged themselves before God, either to wed each other, or to renounce the world. But ere the nuptials could be celebrated, Roland was summoned by Charlemagne to the war against the Moors. There he accomplished prodigies of valor, and, finally, in the battle of the Pyrenees, was grievously wounded and reported dead. Hearing this news, the brokenhearted maiden, faithful to her vow, entered a convent. One night, however, having regained his health and strength, Roland returned, eager to claim his bride. To his amazement he was told that she was an inmate of a convent on the neighboring island of Nonnenwerth. On hearing this, Roland himself renounced the world, and building a hermitage, lived in full view of the convent for several years. Only once in that time did he see the face of his beloved; and that was when the sisters of the cloister brought her forth for burial. Thenceforth the unhappy prince refused all food, and died with his last glance turned toward the island which thus in life and death had claimed from him his bride.