The Green Huntsman
Compiled by John Millen
In the great forest of Grunwald, people have told tales of a ghostly Green Huntsman who rode through the thicket on his black horse with a pack of hell hounds snapping at his heels.
Some said the huntsman carried his head under his left arm. Others were certain the huntsman had no head at all, and that he was searching through the forest to find his head, which was severed in a terrible hunting accident.
Every villager knew of someone who knew someone else who had seen the fearsome Green Huntsman, and this was enough to make him very real. The sounds of something crashing through the forest at night, they thought, could be nothing else but the huntsman.
One night, Hans, a farmer, woke with a start. He lived alone in a cottage on the village's outskirts, on an area he cleared for planting wheat and barley.
It took a few seconds for Hans to realise that someone was banging furiously at his door. He staggered across the room and threw the door open. Then his blood froze as he looked up ... and up ... and up into the face of the Green Huntsman.
Standing at the door was this giant of a man dressed from head to toe in green, with green skin and green hair flying in the night breeze. The giant was holding two massive hounds, which were yelping and barking soundlessly at the end of a short leash.
'Hold my hounds!' bellowed the huntsman, and thrust the leash into Hans' trembling hands. 'I shall be back!' The huntsman leapt onto his horse and rode off into the forest.
For hours, poor Hans stood frozen with terror at his door. He stared down at the two hounds looking at him with blood-red eyes.
Then the ground shook and the huntsman charged back into the clearing. The farmer could see the shape of a dead beast - with seaweed-like hair and spidery legs - thrown over the huntsman's saddle.
'For many years I have hunted this beast, and finally tonight I have slain him. Bring me a drink!' the huntsman said, snatching the leash. Moments later, Hans staggered back with a mug of beer.
The Green Huntsman downed his drink in one long gulp. 'Hold out your hand,' he commanded, as he threw the tiny mug on the ground.
The huntsman reached behind him and produced a pot in which stood a young, green plant. 'Never let it be said I don't pay for favours. You tended my hounds while I hunted. Here is your reward. Plant this and you will have abundant crops for the rest of your days.'
In a flash, the Green Huntsman was gone. And soon no new stories were heard in the Grunwald about the ghostly spectre. What had become of him?
Hans knew the answer, but he kept silent as he counted the money from his wonderful harvests each year, preparing for the day he can retire and leave Grunwald forever. Comprehension
1 What is the Grunwald?
2 What do some locals think the Green Huntsman is searching for?
3 What always follows the Huntsman as he rides through the forest?
4 What does the Huntsman ask Hans, the farmer, to do for him?
5 What does Hans see on the back of the Huntsman's horse when he returns?
6 How does the Green Huntsman reward Hans?
1. A vast forest in Bavaria, Germany.
2. They think the Huntsman is looking for his head.
3. A pack of hounds.
4. To look after his hounds.
5. Some sort of dead beast but he doesn't know what it is.
6. He gives Hans a plant that will provide abundant crops for the rest of the farmer's life.