February 19, 2024

#08-836: The Legend of Kynast

Castle Chojnik ("Hoynik"), the original of Kynast Castle (Wikipedia)

Note: This is a story of cruelty--and revenge, a warning to all who would trifle with the hearts of others.

Get Ready: How much should a person put up with in order to win the one they love?

This is a folk tale from Poland.

The castle of Kynast was situated on a high point of land surrounded by a deep--some said bottomless--abyss, often confused with Hell itself.

The Lord of the castle died, and his daughter inherited his seat. Kunegunda was as beautiful as she was cruel, and declared that she was "betrothed" to the castle: any man who would marry her--and they gathered like scavengers around a carcass--must first defeat its battlements.

The task she set seemed simple enough: a knight could marry her if he scaled the castle walls and rode once around its top on horseback. But when they beheld how narrow was the path, and how deep the abyss, most of the suitors rode away.

Only two brothers remained. The first scaled the walls with some difficulty but made the mistake of looking down and, suffering from vertigo, fell into the abyss.

The other brother then made the attempt. He started his circuit but his horse quailed at the narrow path and would not take a step further. Using his voice, his whip, and his spurs, he only caused his steed to jump from the walls, with him astride. Both perished.

After some time, another knight appeared and announced his challenge. At that time, the castle and its environs were enshrouded in a deep fog; the rules of hospitality required Kunegunda to offer him shelter until the clouds lifted.

And a miracle occurred: this challenger was so gracious (and handsome!) that the Lady of Kynast fell in love with him. She wanted to waive the test, but when the weather cleared the knight was off before she could stop him.

As she waited, she heard the cries of her people below and, thinking her champion had met the fate of the others, fell into a swoon.

But she was awakened by cries of joy. He had succeeded! And when he came to her, she said, "Sir Knight, you have fairly won my hand and my heart."

"Your hand?" he replied. "I did not want your hand, only your heart. And now that I have it, I shall take my leave. For those two men who died from your cruelty were my brothers, and by breaking your heart I have avenged their deaths!"

After his departure, Kunegunda, the Lady of Kynast, climbed the castle walls, and was presumed to have jumped, for she was never seen again.


Practice: Match the term to its definition:

Term Definition
  1. abyss
  2. battlements
  3. beheld
  4. enshrouded
  5. environs
  6. presumed
  7. quailed
  8. swoon
  9. vertigo
  10. waive
  1. faint; unconscious state
  2. dizziness
  3. trembled in fear
  4. deep place
  5. area around somewhere
  6. a castle's defenses
  7. saw; took note of
  8. hidden from view
  9. thought to be
  10. stop insisting on

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for February 20, 2024

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