Clever Gretel is one of those “clever” tales we’ve been running into, but in this story, Gretel is actually kind of clever in the legitimate sense, rather than the weird sense that all these other Grimm’s tales keep mentioning.
Once upon a time there was a cook named Gretel. She wore shoes with red heels and thought they were so pretty. Because being pretty made her happy, she drank some wine, and after that she was hungry. She would taste a bit of all the food she made.
One day, her master told her that a guest was coming for dinner and that she should prepare two fowls very daintily. She said, “Yes, captain.” She put them on a spit over the fire . The fowls were nearly done, but the guest had not arrived. Gretel began to worry that the fowls would not be eaten fresh from the fire when they were their juiciest. Gretel began to get a little impatient and told her master that if the guest did not arrive soon, the food would not be any good. The master thought he would go and get the guest himself.
Gretel, meanwhile, had decided standing over the fire had made her hot and thirsty. She went to the cellar and tapped herself a drink of wine. She decided that after the cup was empty, she should have some more.
She went back upstairs and basted the fowls. These birds were looking really good, by now, and Gretel was getting hungry. She decided that she would taste the fowls just to be sure they were alright. She ate one of the wings. It was delicious. She thought the bird would look lopsided if she didn’t eat the other wing as well, so she ate that too. The guest still had not shown up. Gretel decided to dig into the entire bird. She went and got more wine and ate an entire bird. After she had eaten the first chicken, she decided to go ahead and eat the second chicken. She’s got a good appetite.
When she was finishing off the second bird, the master finally shouted that the guest was coming near. The master busied himself with a little house-keeping while he waited for the guest. Gretel met the guest when he knocked quietly on the door. At this moment the master was sharpening the knives to get them ready for carving the chickens.
Gretel said to the guest, “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 did, in fact, hear knives being sharpened from within. He decided to get the heck out of Dodge and started running away. Gretel shouted at the master, “You have invited a fine guest. He has taken the chickens which I was just going to serve up, off the dish,and has run away with them!” The master wasn’t very happy about this and lamented that the guest should have left at least one chicken.
The master decided to run after the guest. He called out to him, but the guest pretended not to hear. He called out again, “Just one! Just one,” hoping to get just one chicken, but the guest took this to mean that the master was trying to bargain for just one of his ears and ran faster.
I think this story is funny. Gretel is not really “clever” in the way these others stories are using the word. She’s actually clever in a very mischievous sense. I think it’s funny how she runs the guest off and no one suspects her. This sounds like something that should be on American’s Funniest Videos. I think this story would be a lot of fun to act out.
Gretel seems like the life of the party. I can imagine her sitting around a corner waiting to see the results of her pranks. This reminds me of some British show I was watching years ago. It was about Queen Elizabeth I and she and her advisers were playing pranks on people and laughing up a storm. I don’t know what that popped into my head, but it did. I think I could get along with this Gretel.
This is more of a fun tale, so it isn’t too theme-heavy. Gretel doesn’t get punished for eating all the food or playing such a prank, so this tale isn’t saying anything about people getting what they deserve. Maybe it’s more along the lines that sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of a situation.
I want to also point out that this guest believes Gretel when she tells him that her master is going to cut off his ears. Why would you believe that? We don’t go around thinking other people are cutting off other people’s ear. Maybe this man believed such a thing because he had heard about such a thing actually happening, maybe in the very same area that he lived. Maybe there had been rash of ear-less people wandering around and no one could give a full account of who was doing all the ear cutting because the ear-less people couldn’t hear the questions people were asking them about the ear murderer.
This kind of reminds me of how a bunch of feet were washing up in Canada for no darn reason. I still don’t think they ever figured that out. Somewhere in Canada, there is a guy going around cutting people’s feet off and no one seems too terribly concerned.
Maybe Gretel was the ear murderer, but this time, she was too drunk to cut off any ears.
Besides the idea that someone might get their ears cut off, this is a pretty funny story. I liked it.