I own no rights to the characters of Laramie, however what I create is mine.


The Loreley

I cannot determine the meaning
Of sorrow that fills my breast:
A fable of old, through it streaming,
Allows my mind no rest.
The air is cool in the gloaming
And gently flows the Rhine.

The crest of the mountain is gleaming
In fading rays of sunshine
The loveliest young woman is sitting
Up there, so wondrously fair;
Her golden jewelry is glist'ning;
She combs her golden hair.
She combs with a gilded comb, preening,
And sings a song, passing time.
It has a most wondrous, appealing
And pow'rful melodic rhyme.

The boatman aboard his small skiff, -
Enraptured with a wild ache,
Has no eye for the jagged cliff,
His thoughts on the heights, fear forsake.
I think that the waves will devour
Both boat and man, by and by,
And that, with her dulcet-voiced power
Was done by the Loreley.

Heinrich Heine


Prologue

The Loreley

Anyone looking down at the strange tableau below could well wonder "why," or "what".

Four men and their mounts moved around an exquisite woman astride a horse. They moved, she never. Silent. Perhaps she was a statue, she certainly gave no evidence of life.

"Gorgeous, elegant, flawless, stunning." Words fell short in describing the feminine figure placed so incongruently into the rough landscape. It was a touch of color and softness brightening the otherwise dusty surrounds. Only the most gifted of artists could have rendered such beauty, so delicate and fragile that it seemed as if the slightest touch could shatter it.

Whatever possessed someone to place such a statue out here, in the middle of nowhere, that observer might ponder. Perhaps it was a shrine to a lost love, or a note of grace gifted by some generous soul to any travelers passing by. A drink of water for the eyes and heart.

Those conclusions would be wrong. While the sight might offer rest for the eyes, for the heart, it was, at best, bitter alkali water. No refreshment there. Only disappointment, heartbreak, and regret.

Though motionless as a statue carved from stone, the horse and rider were alive. Only a breeze ruffling its mane and touching her hair betrayed them as flesh and bone. As for the shrine to the lost love, hardly. Some would say the woman had no heart, or at best a heart of stone. But again, that assumption would be wrong.