The Legend of Rübezahl
Rübezahl is a mythical spirit of the Krkonoše Mountains, a mountain range along the border between the historical lands Bohemia and Silesia. He is a prankster and the subject of many German folklore and legends.
The best-known tale explains the origin of his name. According to the traditional story, Rübezahl kidnaps a Polish princess in order to marry her. She complains of loneliness, so Rübezahl promises to recreate the members of her court from the many rübe (which is German for turnip) he was growing. She asks him to “zählen” or count, the turnips. While he is out doing that, she escapes. After that, he is known by the insulting nickname Rübezahl.
Other stories involve Rübezahl tricking people. In one popular story, four musicians traveling across the mountains encounter a man and a horse. The musicians have run out of food, so they offer to perform in exchange for a meal. The man agrees, but after a few tunes, he merely gives them four pieces of horse manure and rides away. Three of the musicians leave the manure where it lies, but the fourth wraps some in a piece of paper.
Later, the quartet performs at an inn. At the end of the night, as they tally up their earnings for the day, the musicians jokingly insist that the one piece of horse manure be included in the day’s proceeds. When the musician unwraps the manure, he notices it is quite heavy. He scrapes it with his knife and discovers it is actually a brick of pure gold. The musicians run back to where they encountered the man and his horse, but the rest of the manure is gone.