Fairy Tale of the Week:
“Frederick and Catherine” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
I feel like I’ve read this one, but had (fortunately) blocked it out of my mind.
Frederick and Catherine are married. One day, he’s going to work and tells her he wants food ready when he gets home. It’s all downhill from there. First Catherine leaves the food unattended while she goes down to draw some beer. She remembers–once she’s down in the cellar–that the dog could get the sausage. She rushes back upstairs, but it’s too late. The dog stole the sausages and took off through a field. So, naturally, she chases the dog, but fails to retrieve the sausage.
Back at the house, beer is running everywhere because she didn’t turn off the tap. She gets the brilliant idea to use wheat flour to dry it up, so her husband won’t know what happened. That was kind of pointless, because as soon as he gets home, she tells him about the sausage, the beer, and the flour. Frederick is not pleased, but Catherine is like, “Well, you should have told me not to do things that way.”
Then Frederick changes some thalers for gold coins, tells Catherine they’re counters for a game, and buries them under the manger. He instructs her to not mess with them. Some peddlers come by selling pots (spoiler alert, they’re probably con artists), but Catherine tells them she has no money. She does, however, tell them they can go look at the yellow counters buried under the manger and see if they’d be willing to trade.
They dig up the gold and are pretty much over the moon, and skedaddle, leaving the pots behind. Catherine didn’t really seem to have a need for the pots, so she knocks the bottom out of the pots she already had and used them for decoration on the porch. *sigh* Frederick comes home, sees them, and asks wtf is going on. Catherine tells him. Frederick is not pleased. Catherine suggests they go after the thieves.
So, Frederick is like, “Yeah, ok, let’s do that! But bring some food for the trip,” andoff they go. Catherine gets sad over some ruts in the ground and smears the butter she’d brought along into them in an attempt to fill the empty space up. Then she drops a cheese at the top of the hill and it rolls away. She doesn’t want to walk back down the hill, so she sends another cheese after it. (Yes, really.) And then another, and another, until all the cheeses are gone. *beats head on desk*
When Frederick asks her for some food, she hands over some dry bread. Frederick is like “Where’s the butter and cheese?” and Catherine tells him what she did. Frederick is not pleased. Catherine insists he should have told her not to do it. Then he asks if she remembered to lock up before they left, she says she didn’t (because he should have told her to do it), and he sends her back, instructing her to also bring back more food. She locks the top half of the door, and then takes the bottom half back to Frederick. When she meets back up with him, he makes her continue carrying everything, and–because the dried pears and vinegar she brought along will be too heavy, in addition to the door on her back–she straps those to the door, so it can carry them.
They climb a tree to spend the night in, and–amazingly–the thieves end up making camp right below them. Frederick goes for some rocks, climbs back up, and tries to hit the thieves to kill them. He fails, and the thieves think they’re apples falling. Then Catherine drops the pears, which the thieves mistake for falling leaves, and then she dumps out the vinegar, which the thieves think is dew. Finally–finally–she realizes that maybe, just maybe, it’s the door that’s so heavy. And she drops it. The thieves freak out, thinking it’s the devil, and they run off and leave everything behind. So Frederick and Catherine get their gold back and go home.
Frederick tells Catherine she needs to work hard, so she heads to the fields. She ends up eating first, then gets so tired she ends up hacking up her clothes while she works. She falls asleep in the field, and when she wakes up–half naked–she can’t figure out if she’s Catherine or not, so she goes to her house and calls to Frederick at a window. Frederick answers and she asks if Catherine is home. He says she is and must be asleep, so Catherine determines that she’s not Catherine.
*groaning in frustration*
She wanders around and finds a group of thieves and asks to join them. In the village, she just…yells out, asking if anyone has something the group can steal. The vagabonds part ways with her after telling her to go dig up some turnips in the pastor’s field. She goes to do that, and someone passing by thinks it’s the devil. So, he runs to tell the pastor, who can’t walk so well, and carries the pastor on his back. All this time, Catherine has been low to the ground, but then she stands up. The pastor and the other guy freak out, shouting about how it’s the devil, and the pastor ends up running away faster than the other guy.
The end. Finally.
I don’t have a lot of thoughts about this one, and I’d like to scrub it from my brain.
Catherine is not an endearingly ditzy person, she’s an absolute moron. I think maybe this was supposed to be kind of funny, but it just made me cringe constantly. I honestly didn’t even want to finish it, and it’s not like Grimm stories are very long.
It was painful to read and I want to bleach my brain to remove it. 1/5 stars, and I hope I never read it again.