The Legend of Czarci Młyn, or Devil's Mill

2009-05-19 14:09:52
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The Legend of Czarci Młyn, or Devil's Mill
In the valley where the Czarny Potok flows lies Czerniawa-Zdrój, where a young man by the name of Bożydar once settled following his return from a military expedition. He purchased with savings a piece of land beside the Czarny Potok itself and built there an impressive watermill. In the seasons of spring and autumn there was no shortage of water in the river, but in the summer and winter months the lack of rainfall at times reduced the flow to a trickle too weak to turn the heavy waterwheel. Customers too were scarce, since the villagers cultivated only a little land and local people carried their grain to other mills. The problem troubled Bożydar and kept him from sleep. When one night he was returning from the tavern in Orłowice, he met on the way an unfamiliar individual. It turned out that they were both headed in the same direction and an offer of companionship was made. The beer had loosened the tongue of the young miller, who confided his troubles to the stranger. After a little thought the stranger spoke, stating that he had the answer: all that Bożydar had to do was find his way at midnight to Mt. Czarna Kopa and carve the first letter of his name into the rock. While the counsel came as a surprise, the task itself was not a difficult one, and it was hard only to understand why he was to do it, and how it could possibly have any bearing on his situation. A few weeks later, with the mill ever more often crawling to a halt, and customers ever fewer in number, Bożydar decided to set out for the mountain. With a sharp tool he cut into the rock the letter 'B'. The effort was indeed small, but when he returned he slept for an entire day. From then on everything changed: the waterwheel turned without cease, local people brought their grain for grinding and the wealth of Bożydar grew. In just a few years he became one of the most affluent among the villagers. There was only one problem: that he wanted to marry, and in spite of his wealth could find no suitable candidate. He regretted the fact terribly and was unable to sleep, so much so that he began wasting away. One sleepless night he noticed a figure sitting on the bank and recognized the stranger met on his way many years before. Once again he told him of his troubles, but with little hope. The stranger listened to Bożydar carefully and advised him: to cut into the rock beside the first letter of his name also the last. The very next night Bożydar left for Mt. Czarna Kopa, did what the stranger suggested, and a week later proposed to a maiden living nearby. The proposal was accepted and a grand wedding held, and the young couple enjoyed a long and happy life together. Unfortunately, they were never to have any children.

The day came at last when Bożydar had to depart his earthly life, and it was then that the stranger appeared for the third time. He took him by the hand and led him to Mt. Czarna Kopa, where the rocks parted and the pair passed in, to gloomy depths from which escape was no longer possible, and the wretched Bożydar was condemned to damnation in the endless abyss of hell. For his recklessness and desire for hasty gain he lost the chance of a worthy life in another world. In listening to the counsel of the stranger, it was a judgement on himself that he had signed on the rock. This individual, seemingly friendly, was in fact a fiend in human skin, and it was he who had granted the wishes of Bożydar, and done so eagerly. In the mountains there are many stones beneath which water may be found, and when the stream ran low between its banks he had lifted a stone, freed a flow and thereby kept the waterwheel turning; and there were dry weeks when there was nothing to be done but sit on the paddles of the wheel and by his weight set them in motion. He worked much, over many years, but his efforts were not in vain, for he had won yet another soul for his wicked ends.

The widow of the miller survived him by just a few years, and the mill itself burnt down following a lightning strike. Many years later, on the very same site, a brick mill was built, and in memory of the peculiar incident it received the name of Czarci Młyn, or Devil's Mill. In order to ward off visits from the devious fiend, tradition has it that the metal lion's head on the main door should be touched, for which purpose it is there.

Source: M. Świeży - „W dolinach Bobru i Kwisy”