This edited article about the Lorelei legend originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 790 published on 5th March1977.
On a clear night in June some sixty years ago, a heavily-laden sailing boat was making its way down the Rhine.
It moved swiftly, and the moon sparkled on the broken waters in its wake.
“Steady as she goes,” said the man at the tiller when the relief helmsman appeared. “With a wind like this we should be in Koblenz by morning.”
The relief helmsman took the tiller.
“Anything particular to look out for?” he asked, for he was new to this stretch of the river.
“Nothing much, except at St. Goar, about three miles ahead. There’s a tricky shallow there – you’ll want to keep well out in midstream to get round it. But you’ll have plenty of room.”
“How will I recognise it?”
“You can’t mistake the place. The river bends sharp to starboard and there’s a cliff falling sheer into the water.
“The Lorelei rock the villagers call it, because they say that’s the name of the witch who sits on top, singing to lure the sailors. Ha! Singing indeed. Why, anyone can tell it’s only an echo.”
Both men laughed. The relief helmsman sat by the tiller and watched the wooded riverbank slipping by. Here and there he saw a clearing, the roofs of a few houses or the spire of a little church showing among the trees.
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