Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Clever Gretel

  • There was once a cook named Gretel, who wore shoes with red heels, and when
  • she walked out with them on, she turned herself this way and that, was quite
  • happy and thought: 'You certainly are a pretty girl!' And when she came home
  • she drank, in her gladness of heart, a draught of wine, and as wine excites a
  • desire to eat, she tasted the best of whatever she was cooking until she was
  • satisfied, and said: 'The cook must know what the food is like.'
  • It came to pass that the master one day said to her: 'Gretel, there is a guest
  • coming this evening; prepare me two fowls very daintily.' 'I will see to it,
  • master,' answered Gretel. She killed two fowls, scalded them, plucked them,
  • put them on the spit, and towards evening set them before the fire, that they
  • might roast. The fowls began to turn brown, and were nearly ready, but the
  • guest had not yet arrived. Then Gretel called out to her master: 'If the guest
  • does not come, I must take the fowls away from the fire, but it will be a sin
  • and a shame if they are not eaten the moment they are at their juiciest.' The
  • master said: 'I will run myself, and fetch the guest.' When the master had
  • turned his back, Gretel laid the spit with the fowls on one side, and thought:
  • 'Standing so long by the fire there, makes one sweat and thirsty; who knows
  • when they will come? Meanwhile, I will run into the cellar, and take a drink.'
  • She ran down, set a jug, said: 'God bless it for you, Gretel,' and took a good
  • drink, and thought that wine should flow on, and should not be interrupted,
  • and took yet another hearty draught.
  • Then she went and put the fowls down again to the fire, basted them, and drove
  • the spit merrily round. But as the roast meat smelt so good, Gretel thought:
  • 'Something might be wrong, it ought to be tasted!' She touched it with her
  • finger, and said: 'Ah! how good fowls are! It certainly is a sin and a shame
  • that they are not eaten at the right time!' She ran to the window, to see if
  • the master was not coming with his guest, but she saw no one, and went back to
  • the fowls and thought: 'One of the wings is burning! I had better take it off
  • and eat it.' So she cut it off, ate it, and enjoyed it, and when she had done,
  • she thought: 'The other must go down too, or else master will observe that
  • something is missing.' When the two wings were eaten, she went and looked for
  • her master, and did not see him. It suddenly occurred to her: 'Who knows? They
  • are perhaps not coming at all, and have turned in somewhere.' Then she said:
  • 'Well, Gretel, enjoy yourself, one fowl has been cut into, take another drink,
  • and eat it up entirely; when it is eaten you will have some peace, why should
  • God's good gifts be spoilt?' So she ran into the cellar again, took an
  • enormous drink and ate up the one chicken in great glee. When one of the
  • chickens was swallowed down, and still her master did not come, Gretel looked
  • at the other and said: 'What one is, the other should be likewise, the two go
  • together; what's right for the one is right for the other; I think if I were
  • to take another draught it would do me no harm.' So she took another hearty
  • drink, and let the second chicken follow the first.
  • While she was making the most of it, her master came and cried: 'Hurry up,
  • Gretel, the guest is coming directly after me!' 'Yes, sir, I will soon serve
  • up,' answered Gretel. Meantime the master looked to see what the table was
  • properly laid, and took the great knife, wherewith he was going to carve the
  • chickens, and sharpened it on the steps. Presently the guest came, and knocked
  • politely and courteously at the house-door. Gretel ran, and looked to see who
  • was there, and when she saw the guest, she put her finger to her lips and
  • said: 'Hush! hush! go away as quickly as you can, if my master catches you it
  • will be the worse for you; he certainly did ask you to supper, but his
  • intention is to cut off your two ears. Just listen how he is sharpening the
  • knife for it!' The guest heard the sharpening, and hurried down the steps
  • again as fast as he could. Gretel was not idle; she ran screaming to her
  • master, and cried: 'You have invited a fine guest!' 'Why, Gretel? What do you
  • mean by that?' 'Yes,' said she, 'he has taken the chickens which I was just
  • going to serve up, off the dish, and has run away with them!' 'That's a nice
  • trick!' said her master, and lamented the fine chickens. 'If he had but left
  • me one, so that something remained for me to eat.' He called to him to stop,
  • but the guest pretended not to hear. Then he ran after him with the knife
  • still in his hand, crying: 'Just one, just one,' meaning that the guest should
  • leave him just one chicken, and not take both. The guest, however, thought no
  • otherwise than that he was to give up one of his ears, and ran as if fire were
  • burning under him, in order to take them both with him.