Of Goblin's Mountain and the Echowell
Since time immemorial a little malevolent fellow had inhabited the Aardmansberg, or Goblin’s Mountain. He was never seen during the day, but at night he haunted the moor and frightened non-suspecting passersby by suddenly jumping onto the road, or, hidden behind a bush or tree, screaming loudly. It never went much further than that, because he wasn’t capable of more than simply frightening people, and apparently he derived great satisfaction from that.
Sometimes one could see him stumbling across the moor on his little crooked legs, or dragging a faggot to his dwelling, which lies deep beneath the Goblin’s Mountain and consists of many corridors and chambers. People have often tried to find the entrance, but never succeeded. Whether he enters through a rabbit warden hidden in a pit beneath the heather, or possesses the magic to turn the door to stone, remains unclear, as the one says this and the other that.
Now incidentally, about a century ago, they were planning to dig a deep well at the foot of Goblin’s Mountain1. It took a very long time before they found water. Still, they didn’t give up and finally, after having dug down to a depth of 232 feet, found a plentiful and pure water source. When the well was finished, it turned out that it had accidently been dug right over the well of the goblin, exactly where his kitchen was located, and in that manner they discovered that the goblin was married, but always kept his wife locked up in the kitchen.
She is the daughter of Air and Earth and was called Echo. She must’ve been a beautiful girl once, only a bit talkative and eager to chat.
One day, she couldn’t bear to stay at home anymore, because Earth, her mother, never spoke a word, and her father, Air, never had a good thing to say about her.
When she asked him something, he whistled through the chink in the door, or didn’t answer at all. So it happened that she, after having asked her father something once again, and had again received no reply, fled from the house of her parents in despair. Near Goblin’s Mountain she then met the little tease, who fell in love with her on sight and, unusual for him, kindly chatted with her.
Echo, not used to much at home and thinking him a nice, friendly suitor, quickly married him. Everything went well at first, and they lived together cosily in the roomy house beneath the mountain; but soon the goblin’s old nature surfaced again; he couldn’t keep up the part of loving husband for long.
Soon it was: ‘Echo, be quiet, I don’t like all that noise in my house’.
Then the garrulous but friendly woman kept her peace for a while until she, forgetting, began to chatter again.
They constantly argued together, until the malevolent goblin eventually locked her in the kitchen and, on punishment of death, forbade her to speak unless spoken to, and even then to answer with a few words only. This was a terrible punishment for the kind, unhappy Echo. She grew thin and faded away, so that only her voice remained. That voice still answers when asked a question, but she’ll never be the first to speak.
And he, who won’t believe the things written about her here, must ask her himself:
‘What was the name of the father you fled from in your despair?’
And she will answer: ‘Air.’
‘What was the name of the mother who gave you birth?’
‘How was the goblin when he married you and took you into the fold?’
‘Do you love him yes or no?’
Well, when a woman says that straight out, it must be really bad, and it would be rude to enquire any further.
From Legends of the Veluwe/Veluwsche Sagen by Gust van de Wall Perné, published in 1910-1912 by Scheltens & Giltay and translated by Eva Weggelaar
1. Between 1806-1810 the brother of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, Lodewijk Napoleon, was king of the Netherlands. The Echoput, or Echo-well, was dug between 1809 and 1811, and was at that time 61 yards deep, though for a long time it was assumed to be 87 yards deep, as measurements weren’t standardised at the time of its construction.