FREDERICK AND CATHERINE
There was once a man called Frederick: he had a wife whose name was Catherine, and they had not long been married. One day Frederick said. 'Kate! I am going to work in the fields; when I come back I shall be hungry so let me have something nice cooked, and a good draught of ale.'
Presently she came to the top of a hill, down the side of which there was a road so narrow that the cart wheels always chafed the trees on each side as they passed.
'Ah, see now,' said she, 'how they have bruised and wounded those poor trees; they will never get well.'
So she took pity on them, and made use of the butter to grease them all, so that the wheels might not hurt them so much.
While she was doing this kind office one of her cheeses fell out of the basket, and rolled down the hill.
Catherine looked, but could not see where it had gone; so she said, 'Well, I suppose the other will go the same way and find you; he has younger legs than I have.'
Then she rolled the other cheese after it; and away it went, nobody knows where, down the hill.
But she said she supposed that they knew the road, and would follow her, and she could not stay there all day waiting for them.
At last she overtook Frederick, who desired her to give him something to eat.
Then she gave him the dry bread. 'Where are the butter and
cheese?' said he.
'Oh!' answered she, 'I used the butter to grease those poor trees that the wheels chafed so: and one of the cheeses ran away so I sent the other after it to find it, and I suppose they re
both on the road together somewhere.'
'What a goose you are to do such silly things!' said the husband.
'How can you say so?' said she; 'I am sure you never told me not.'
They ate the dry bread together; and Frederick said, 'Kate, I hope you locked the door safe when you came away.'
'No,' answered she, 'you did not tell me.'
'Then go home, and do it now before we go any farther,' said Frederick, 'and bring with you something to eat.'
Catherine did as he told her, and thought to herself by the way, 'Frederick wants something to eat; but I don't think he is very fond of butter and cheese: I'll bring him a bag of fine nuts, and the vinegar, for I have often seen him take some.'
When she reached home, she bolted the back door, but the front door she took off the hinges, and said, 'Frederick told me to lock the door, but surely it can nowhere be so safe if I take it with me.'
So she took her time by the way; and when she overtook her husband she cried out, 'There, Frederick, there is the door itself, you may watch it as carefully as you please.'
'Alas! alas!' said he, 'what a clever wife I have! I sent you to make the house fast, and you take the door away, so that everybody may go in and out as they please--however, as you have brought the door, you shall carry it about with you for your pains.'
'Very well,' answered she, 'I'll carry the door; but I'll not carry the nuts and vinegar bottle also--that would be too much of a load; so if you please, I'll fasten them to the door.'
Frederick of course made no objection to that plan, and they set off into the wood to look for the thieves; but they could not find them: and when it grew dark, they climbed up into a tree to spend the night there.
Scarcely were they up, than who should come by but the very
rogues they were looking for.
They were in truth great rascals, and belonged to that class of people who find things before they are lost; they were tired; so they sat down and made a fire under the very tree where Frederick and Catherine were.
Frederick slipped down on the other side, and picked up some stones. Then he climbed up again, and tried to hit the thieves on the head with them: but they only said, 'It must be near morning, for the wind shakes the fir-apples down.'
Catherine, who had the door on her shoulder, began to be very tired; but she thought it was the nuts upon it that were so heavy: so she said softly, 'Frederick, I must let the nuts go.' 'No,' answered he, 'not now, they will discover us.'
'I can't help that: they must go.'
'Well, then, make haste and throw them down, if you will.' Then away rattled the nuts down among the boughs and one of the thieves cried, 'Bless me, it is hailing.'
A little while after, Catherine thought the door was still very heavy: so she whispered to Frederick, 'I must throw the vinegar down.'
'Pray don't,' answered he, 'it will discover us.'
'I can't help that,' said she, 'go it must.' So she poured all the vinegar down; and the thieves said, 'What a heavy dew there is!'
At last it popped into Catherine's head that it was the door itself that was so heavy all the time: so she whispered, 'Frederick, I must throw the door down soon.'
But he begged and prayed her not to do so, for he was sure it would betray them.
'Here goes, however,' said she: and down went the door with such a clatter upon the thieves, that they cried out 'Murder!' and not knowing what was coming, ran away as fast as they could, and left all the gold.
So when Frederick and Catherine came down, there they found all their money safe and sound.