Tales and Legends of the Tyrol | Annotated Tale

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Cat-Hags of Gries, The

CATS generally take a large share in anything appertaining to witchcraft, and as single apparitions, out of the company of some hag, they are scarcely, if ever, to be seen; though Peter, one of the servants at the farm of Simel, near the village of Gries, once had the misfortune to meet them.

               The farmer was an excellent manager, and never allowed any of his servants to be out in the evening after the Angelus had sounded. But Peter had been a volunteer, during the revolution of 1848, and, as such, he considered himself entitled to take more liberty than the others, and to go after hours and pay a visit to his love. One evening, just as he had arranged to carry out this plan, the farmer, who was a member of the parish administration, said, after supper, to his servants, “Now you all go to bed; at two o’clock to-morrow morning I shall call you, for it has been decided by the Council that we must go oftener on patrol round about, to keep on the look out for the Welsh republicans, which are expected in the country, and to shoot them down wherever they appear, for the sake of preserving order and peace.”

               This command anything but pleased Peter, who, however, apparently obeyed, and went to bed; but soon afterwards he got up very quietly, and thought to himself, “Long before the clock strikes two I shall be back;” and then he crept silently through the stables, and hurried towards the Berghof farm, on the mountain where his sweetheart lived, to bid her good-bye for ever, should it be necessary, in case he fell in the war against the Welsh rebels.

               He remained till one o’clock at the Berghof, and then he set off home, running as fast as ever he could, and he had arrived already within a distance of two or three hundred feet of the Simel farm, when, just over his head, he caught the sound of suppressed whispering. He looked about, and lo! all about him, the air and ground was full of cats, of all colours and shapes, black, white and tricoloured, which sprang upon him from every direction. Frightened out of his wits, poor Peter began to pray and cross himself, when all at once the tribe of cats disappeared; but this release did not last long, for when he had reached the farm, he found the cats sitting in a swarm round the entrance-door, and they stopped him from getting in, and against this no praying, no cross-making could avail, for the cats set up such a terrific noise, that the poor bewildered fellow lost his senses of hearing and seeing. He made up his mind, however, to get into the farm at any risk, and, springing through the cats, he gained the little door by which he had gone out; but the door was closed, so he was forced to knock at the great entrance, where he was received by the farmer himself, who, after giving him a good scolding, concluded his sermon in these words:--“There is nothing so fine spun but that it comes always to the sun.” [1]



[1] “Es ist nichts so fein gesponnen,        
Es kommt immer an die Sonnen.”

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Cat-Hags of Gries, The
Tale Author/Editor: Günther, Comtesse Marie A. von
Book Title: Tales and Legends of the Tyrol
Book Author/Editor: Günther, Comtesse Marie A. von
Publisher: Chapman and Hall
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1874
Country of Origin: Austria
Classification: unclassified

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