The people of Altdorf enjoy telling ghost stories, both as entertainment and as sincere warnings of the horrors of the unknown. The Niederhafen Pike is one such legend, and this is often accompanied by the fable known as Don’t pay the ferryman. The source of this ballad is unknown, but it is easy to imagine that it has some truth to it, given the amount of ferries that cross the Reik. There are bound to be incidents, even if they are more mundane than the legend makes out.

The popular and skilled lute player and folk singer Christoph Von Kleinestadt has followed up on his success at the taverns and bars in the docklands, and has written another catchy tune, inspired by the old legend of the sinister ferryman.

It was late at night on the Volkerweg
Speeding like a man on the run
A lifetime spent preparing for the journey 

He is closer now and the search is on
Reading from a map in the mind
Yes there’s the ragged bridge
And there’s the boat on the river 

And when the rain came down
He heard a wild dog howl
There were voices in the night – “Don’t do it!”
Voices out of sight – “Don’t do it!
Too many men have failed before
Whatever you do

Don’t pay the ferryman
Don’t even fix a price
Don’t pay the ferryman
Until he gets you to the other side 

In the rolling mist then he gets on board
Now there’ll be no turning back
Beware that hooded old man at the rudder 

And then the lightning flashed, and the thunder roared
And people calling out his name
And dancing bones that jabbered and a-moaned
On the water 

And then the ferryman said
“There is trouble ahead.
So you must pay me now” – “Don’t do it!”
“You must pay me now” – “Don’t do it!”
And still that voice came from beyond
Whatever you do 

Don’t pay the ferryman
Don’t even fix a price
Don’t pay the ferryman
Until he gets you to the other side
Don’t pay – the ferryman!

Adolphus Altdorfer
Wellentag, Sommerzeit 20, 2521 IC

Here’s the video of the song performed live! It’s kind of a silly song, but I love it. Too bad I couldn’t find the original video, with De Burgh dressed as a vampire!