A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm
There was once upon a time a man who was called Frederick
and a woman called Catherine, who had married each other
and lived together as young married folks. One day
Frederick said, "I shall now go and plough, Catherine. When
I come back, there must be some roast meat on the table for
hunger, and a fresh draught for thirst."
"Just go, Frederick,"
answered kate, "just go, I shall have all ready for you." So when
dinnertime drew near she got a sausage out of the chimney, put
it in the frying-pan, put some butter to it, and set it on the
fire. The sausage began to fry and to hiss, Catherine stood
beside it and held the handle of the pan, and had her own
thoughts as she was doing it. Then it occurred to her, while
the sausage is getting done you could go into the cellar and draw
beer. So she set the frying-pan safely on the fire, took a can,
and went down into the cellar to draw beer. The beer ran
into the can and kate watched it, and then she thought, "Oh,
dear. The dog upstairs is not fastened up, it might get the
sausage out of the pan. Lucky I thought of it." And in a trice
she was up the cellar-steps again, but the spitz had the sausage
in its mouth already, and trailed it away on the ground. But
Catherine, who was not idle, set out after it, and chased it a
long way into the field. The dog, however, was swifter than
Catherine and did not let the sausage go, but skipped over
the furrows with it.
" What's gone is gone," said Kate, and
turned round, and as she had run till she was weary, she walked
quietly and comfortably, and cooled herself. During this time
the beer was still running out of the cask, for Kate had not
turned the tap. And when the can was full and there was no
other place for it, it ran into the cellar and did not stop until
the whole cask was empty. As soon as Kate was on the steps she
saw the accident.
gracious," she cried. " What shall I do now to stop Frederick
finding out?" She thought for a while, and at last she remembered
that up in the garret was still standing a sack of the finest
wheat flour from the last fair, and she would fetch that down and
strew it over the beer. "Yes," said she, "he who saves a thing
when he ought has it afterwards when he needs it," and she climbed
up to the garret and carried the sack below, and threw it straight
down on the can of beer, which she knocked over, and Frederick's
draught swam also in the cellar. "It is all right," said Kate,
where the one is the other ought to be also, and she strewed
the meal over the whole cellar. When it was done she was heartily
delighted with her work, and said, how clean and wholesome it does
look here. At midday home came Frederick.
"Now, wife, what
have you ready for me?"
"Ah, Freddy," she answered, "I was frying
a sausage for you, but whilst I was drawing the beer to drink
with it, the dog took it away out of the pan, and whilst I was
running after the dog, all the beer ran out, and whilst I was
drying up the beer with the flour, I knocked over the can as
well, but be easy, the cellar is quite dry again."
frederick, "Kate, Kate, you should not have done that, to let
the sausage be carried off and the beer run out of the cask,
and throw out all our flour into the bargain."
I did not know that, you should have told me." The man thought,
if this is the kind of wife I have, I had better take more care
of things. Now he had saved up a good number of talers
which he changed into gold, and said to Catherine, "Look,
these are yellow counters for playing games, I shall put
them in a pot and bury them in the stable under the cow's manger,
but mind you keep away from them, or it will be the worse for
Said she, "Oh, no, Frederick, I certainly will not go
near them. And when Frederick was gone some peddlars came into
the village who had cheap earthen bowls and pots, and asked
the young woman if there was nothing she wanted to bargain with
"Oh, dear people," said Catherine, "I have no money
and can buy nothing, but if you have any use for yellow
counters I will buy of you."
"Yellow counters, why not? But
just let us see them."
"Then go into the stable and
dig under the cow's manger, and you will find the yellow
counters. I am not allowed to go there. " The rogues went
thither, dug and found pure gold. Then they laid hold of it,
ran away, and left their pots and bowls behind in the house.
Catherine thought she must use her new things, and as she had
no lack in the kitchen already without these, she knocked the
bottom out of every pot, and set them all as ornaments on the
paling which went round about the house. When Frederick came
and saw the new decorations, he said, "Catherine, what have you
"I have bought them, Frederick, for the counters
which were under the cow's manger. I did not go there myself,
the pedlars had to dig them out for themselves."
said frederick, "what have you done? Those were not counters,
but pure gold, and all our wealth, you should not have done that."
"Indeed, Frederick," said she, "I did not know that, you should
have forewarned me."
Catherine stood for a while and wondered, then she said,
"Listen, Frederick, we shall soon get the gold back again, we
shall run after the thieves."
"Come, then," said Frederick, "we
shall try it, but take with you some butter and cheese that we may
have something to eat on the way. "
"Yes, Frederick, I shall take
them." They set out, and as Frederick was the better walker,
Catherine followed him. "It is to my advantage, thought she,
when we turn back I shall be a little way in advance." Then
she came to a hill where there were deep ruts on both sides
of the road. "There one can see," said Catherine, "how they
have torn and skinned and galled the poor earth, it will never
be whole again as long as it lives," and in her heart's
compassion she took her butter and smeared the ruts right
and left, that they might not be so hurt by the wheels, and as
she was thus bending down in her charity, one of the cheeses
rolled out of her pocket down the hill. Said Catherine, "I
have made my way once up here, I shall not go down again, another
may run and fetch it back." So she took another cheese and rolled
it down. But the cheeses did not come back, so she let a third
run down, thinking perhaps they were waiting for company, and
do not like to walk alone. As all three stayed away she said,
"I do not know what that
can mean, but it may perhaps be that the third has not found
the way, and has gone wrong, I shall just send the fourth to
call it." But the fourth did no better than the third. Then
Catherine was angry, and threw down the fifth and sixth as
well, and these were her last. She remained standing for some
time watching for their coming, but when they still did not come,
she said, "Oh, you are good folks to send in search of death,
you stay a fine long time away. Do you think I will wait any
longer for you? I shall go my way, you may run after me,
you have younger legs than I."
Catherine went on and found
Frederick, who was standing waiting for her because he wanted
something to eat. "Now just let us have what you have brought
with you," said he. She gave him the dry bread.
you the butter and the cheeses," asked the man.
said Catherine, "I smeared the cart-ruts with the butter and
the cheeses will come soon, one ran away from me, so I sent
the others after to call it."
"Said Frederick, "you should not
have done that, Catherine, to smear the butter on the road,
and let the cheeses run down the hill."
you should have told me."
Then they ate the dry bread together, and Frederick said,
"Catherine, did you make the house safe when you came away?"
"No, Frederick, you should have told me to do it before."
go home again, and make the house safe before we go any farther,
and bring with you something else to eat. I shall wait here
for you." Catherine went back and thought, Frederick wants
something more to eat, he does not like butter and cheese, so I
will take with me a handkerchief full of dried pears and
a pitcher of vinegar for him to drink. Then she bolted the
upper half of the door fast, but unhinged the lower door, and
took it on her back, believing that when she had placed the
door in security the house must be well taken care of. Catherine
took her time on the way, and thought, Frederick will rest
himself so much the longer. When she had once reached him she
said, "Here is the house-door for you, Frederick, and now you
can take care of the house yourself."
"Oh, heavens, said he, "what
a wise wife I have. She takes the under-door
off the hinges that everything may run in, and bolts the
upper one. It is now too late to go back home again, but
since you have brought the door here, you will just carry it
"I shall carry the door, Frederick, but the dried pears
and the vinegar-jug will be too heavy for me, I shall hang them
on the door, it may carry them."
And now they went into the forest, and sought the rogues, but
did not find them. At length as it grew dark they climbed into
a tree and resolved to spend the night there. Scarcely, however,
had they sat down at the top of it than the rascals came thither
who carry away with them what does not want to go, and find
things before they are lost. They sat down under the very tree
in which Frederick and Catherine were sitting, lighted a fire,
and were about to share their booty. Frederick got down on the
other side and collected
some stones together. Then he climbed up again with them, and
wished to throw them at the thieves and kill them. The stones,
however, did not hit them, and the knaves cried, "It will soon
be morning, the wind is shaking down the fircones." Catherine
still had the door on her back, and as it pressed so heavily on
her, she thought it was the fault of the dried pears, and said,
"Frederick, I must throw the pears down."
"No, Catherine, not now,"
he replied, "they might betray us."
"Oh, but, Frederick, I must.
They weigh me down far too much."
"Do it, then, and be hanged."
Then the dried pears rolled down between the branches, and the
rascals below said, "Those are birds' droppings."
A short time afterwards, as the door was still heavy, Catherine
said, "Ah, Frederick, I must pour out the vinegar."
you must not, it might betray us."
"Ah, but, Frederick, I must,
it weighs me down far too much."
"Then do it and be hanged."
So she emptied out the vinegar, and it spattered over the
robbers. They said amongst themselves, "The dew is already
falling. At length Catherine thought, can it really be the
door which weighs me down so? and said, "Frederick, I must
throw the door down."
"No, not now, Catherine, it might betray us."
"Oh, but, Frederick, I must. It weighs me down far too much."
no, Catherine, do hold it fast."
"Ah, Frederick, I am letting it
"Let it go, then, in the devil's name." Then it fell down
with a violent clatter, and the rascals below cried, "The devil is
coming down the tree," and they ran away and left everything behind
them. Early next morning, when the two came down they found all
their gold again, and carried it home.
When they were once more at home, Frederick said, "And now,
Catherine, you, too, must be industrious and work."
Frederick, I shall soon do that, I shall go into the field and
When Catherine got into the field, she said to
herself, "Shall I eat before I cut, or shall I sleep before I
cut? Oh, I shall eat first." Then Catherine ate and eating made
her sleepy, and she began to cut, and half in a dream cut all her
clothes to pieces, her apron, her gown, and her shift. When
Catherine awoke again after a long sleep she was standing
there half-naked, and said to herself, "Is it I, or is it not
I? Alas, it is not I." In the meantime night came, and Catherine
ran into the village, knocked at her husband's window, and cried,
"What is the matter?"
"I should very much like to know if Catherine
"Yes, yes," replied Frederick, "she must be in and asleep."
Said she, "That's all right, then I am certainly at home already,"
and ran away.
Outside Catherine found some vagabonds who were going to steal.
Then she went to them and said, "I shall help you to steal." The
rascals thought that she knew what opportunities the place
offered, and were willing. Catherine went in front of the houses,
and cried, "Good folks, have you anything? We want to steal."
The thieves thought to themselves, that's a fine way of doing
things, and wished themselves once more rid of Catherine. Then
they said to her, "Outside the village the pastor has some turnips
in the field. Go there and pull up some turnips for us."
Catherine went to the ground, and began to pull them up, but
was so lazy that she never stood up straight. Then a man came
by, saw her, and stood still and thought that it was the devil
who was thus rooting amongst the turnips. He ran away into the
village to the pastor, and said, "Mr. Pastor, the devil is in
your turnip-ground, rooting up turnips."
the pastor, "I have a lame foot, I cannot go out and drive him
Said the man, "then I shall carry you on my back," and he
carried him out on his back. And when they came to the ground,
Catherine arose and stood up her full height. "Ah, the devil,"
cried the pastor, and both hurried away, and in his great
fright the pastor could run better with his lame foot than the
man who had carried him on his back could do on his sound legs.