In 1584, the inhabitants of the castle of Hudemuhlen began to hear strange noises. Knocking where they shouldn’t be any. Rattling.
And then the voice came. The servants would hear someone talking in a soft voice, like a young boy or a lady, then turn around to see who–and saw no one. Naturally, this freaked everyone out. And then they got used to it and started chatting back. The spirit revealed that he was a Kobold.
Eventually, the same thing happened to the master of the castle. He was a bit more freaked out. The spirit often played tricks on him. So he tried to escape it by riding to another one of his residences. What he didn’t notice was the white feather floating along after him. Once he got to his other house, the spirit started to laugh at him, saying that it could go anywhere he did.
So, the guy saddled up his horse and rode back to Hudemuhlen. After that, the Kobold was more friendly to him, though.
The spirit revealed that his name was Hinzelmann, and that he lived in the Bohemian mountains with others like him. He even had a wife named Hille Bingels. But he’d had a fight with his friends and decided to stay at Hudemuhlen for a while.
He earned his keep–a daily bowl of milk by one account, occasional dishes of bread soaked in milk by another–by contributing to the household chores. He scrubbed pots and cleaned the kitchen. He also kept the maids and servants company while they worked, encouraging them to do a good job–sometimes using a stick to get his point across. He also worked in the stables, grooming horses.
He worked so hard that the nobleman gave him his own room in the castle, complete with chair, table, and bed.
Hinzelmann liked to cause fights between drunken servants by hitting them at opportune moments, so they would think another servant did it. But his tricks were pretty mild. Even a Curé who tried to exorcise him only got dumped in a ditch.
Unfortunately, if Hinzelmann liked you, it could be as big a problem as if he didn’t. He liked Anne and Catherine, the sisters of the master of the castle very much, and frightened away all their suitors. They both died unmarried.
Hinzelmann had foreknowledge of the future, and would warn favoured folks of disaster. He once tried to warn a visitor by telling him not to fire his gun while hunting with the master that day. The visitor, an army colonel, ignored Hinzelmann. That day, while hunting, the man’s gun backfired, blowing off his thumb.
There are many more stories told of Hinzelmann, both good and mischievous. You can check them out here< http://books.google.ca/books?id=PgMMAAAAYAAJ>: and here< http://books.google.ca/books?id=PMoFAAAAQAAJ>.
In 1588, Hinzelmann left the house of his own will, and never returned. Today, the castle lies in ruins.
Thomas Keightley, The fairy mythology: illustrative of the romance and superstition of various countries, G. Bell & Sons, 1850
Donald Grant Mitchell, Fresh Gleanings; Or, A New Sheaf from the Old Fields of Continental Europe, Harper, 1847
Melville, Francis; The Book of Faeries: A Guide to the World of Elves, Pixies, Goblins, and Other Magic Spirits, 2002, Quarto Inc