The wonderful and true story of the 'Ritschenring'|
as narrated by L. Gamin*)
The small town lies on the southern slopes of the mountains. The first row of houses stands low, near the river, and form the foremost scenery. The second row overlooks them already by a considerable difference in height. Further on the little town stretches along a gentler slope, being crowned as it were by mighty and snow-covered peaks.
The town did not enjoy at that time - it's the rainy summer of 1948 - all the amenities of modern civilization. The sewers for example consisted of so-called 'Ritschens': canals running partly underground and partly in the open air. One of them was situated under two of the aforementioned houses of the second, higher row. The water level had risen very considerably due to the heavy rainfall which resulted in a real torrent shooting downwards and disappearing under the lowest row of houses. The sight from Leonore's window, situated a little opposite of the waterfall, was truely romantic.
View of the town of Hall in Tyrol.
Drawn after nature and etched by J. Schaffer 1787
This story happened in the house right between the two big churches.
One day, when she was tidying up her room and flapping a small table cloth out the window, she heard the rinkling sound of metal against metal. Immediately struck by some suspicion she saw her golden ring with the diamond ricochet from the tin roof of the window below her and then disappear in the waterfall.
She did not want to believe her senses but the ring which she uncautiously had left on that little tablecloth was gone. But maybe, she thought, the ring had not fallen into the water. She went down to the canal and started a search on both sides of the open sewer. Alas, to no avail; the ring was lost.
Some time had passed when she mentioned her loss in a talk with Pius, the well-known local school porter. Leonore probably did not know herself why she did so. But Pius was was of those active people who succeed in everything. He recommended her to have a word with Sepp, the public works supervisor. Sepp was a energetic and tenacious man, well acquainted with all sorts of events that demanded fast action, and being successful in most cases. He said that he would have a look at the situation first. This fact alone was enough for Leonore to kindle vividly the small flame of hope, against all odds, as Leonore fully knew. But the hope for some kind of miracle simply was there. Now the two stood at the place where it all had happened, and they could hardly hear their own voices in the inferno of the waterfall.
The supervisor mentioned the imminent 'creek week' during which the collecting sewer down at the river would be cleaned. The ring could hardly have been swept away since there were twigs and many other objects by which it could have been hold back. He would have a talk with Karl and Leo, two municipal workers who would clean up the sewers. But chances of succes would be very low, and much time had been past since.
In the meantime Leonore continued her work at the town hall but could not remove the loss from her thoughts.
And behold: Some days later two overjoyed workers with hands blackened by dirt and mud turned up and brought back the ring unharmed!
They had sieved through the dirty sewage mud with their bare hands, as hopeless as the search appeared. And indeed, the unbelievable had happened, they had found the jewel!
One of the men said that their own joy was possibly even greater than that of Leonore. But she was delighted about the extraordinary readyness to help of these honest men who had taken upon themselves this tedious, dirty and to all human expectations hopeless undertaking deliberately, more than about the gem refound.
Of course they were given a finder's fee but Leonore knew very well that there are things which money can't buy. And now this true story of the 'Ritschenring' is meant as a thanksgiving to all those whose unselfish cooperation had made possible the happy ending.
*) L(eonore) Gamin: pseudonym for Lotte Bouthillier (1907-1995)