The Hoof Mark on the Wall, A German Legend

If you visit the Castle of Nuremberg, in South Germany, you are certain to be shown a mark, said to be that of a horse's hoof, on the top of the outer wall; and the following story will be told to you, to account for its presence.

Some four hundred years ago there was constant war between the Count of Gailingen and the citizens of Nuremberg, and, after numerous encounters, the Count had at last the misfortune to fall into the hands of his enemies, and was at once imprisoned in one of the gloomy dungeons of Nuremberg Castle.

This was bad enough, but worse was to follow, for, on the meeting of the magistrates, the young Count was sentenced to be beheaded, and the sentence was to be carried out on the following day.

First of all, however, according to an old Nuremberg custom, the condemned man was allowed to have a last request granted—whatever that request might be.

'Let me.' said the Count, 'once more mount my faithful charger, and ride him round the courtyard of the castle.'

No sooner said than done! The beautiful black steed, that had so often carried his master to victory, was saddled, and horse and master met once more under the open sky.

The Count patted the horse's arched neck, and leapt into the saddle; the horse began to prance and kick up his heels, as he had been taught to do. This made such a dust that the attendants were glad to shelter themselves in the guard-room.

'Let the Count enjoy himself; it is his last chance,' said his jailers. 'Our walls are too high for escape, and we can take things easily.'

So they troubled themselves but little over either horse or rider, and the Count felt that now or never was his chance.

The walls were very high, and beyond them was a wide ditch, so that his jailers were right in thinking escape impossible. Yet 'impossible' is an unknown word to some men, and the Count was one of these.

He bent down caressingly over his horse's mane, and whispered some words in his ear. Whether the good beast really understood or not cannot be said, but the next minute there was a rapid gallop across the courtyard. The Count dug his spurs deeply into the sides of his steed, and the latter, with a supreme effort, bounded up, and reached the wide brim of the castle wall. An instant's pause, and he had leaped the wide ditch, and in a few seconds more both horse and rider were out of reach of all pursuers.

This story must be true, say the Nuremberg people, for there stands the print of the horseshoe on the wall to this day!