Folktales With Morals - Into The Soup

 Into The Soup

Fritzl was a good farmer who had a wife called Liesi. They had a little baby called Kindli and a dog called Spitz. Besides the patch of land on which they had built their house, they had a shed with one cow, two goats, three pigs, and a few geese. They had to work very hard, which all farmers do in every land. It was Fritzl's job to plough the ground, sow the seeds and hoe the weeds. When it was time to cut the hay, he did that too and raked it and stacked it up in great sheaves to dry in the sun. When the sun shone down on the land, Fritzl felt quite hot as he worked in the open fields. As for Liesi, her job was to keep the house clean, cook, churn the butter, and to take care of the barnyard and, of course, the baby. As you can see, it was quite a job and both were busy from morning till night. The trouble was that Fritzl felt that he was the only one who worked very hard. When he came home in the evenings he would sit down and mop his face and neck and make a great noise to show how tired he was and how hard he had worked. "What a hot day it was today and I certainly worked very hard. Little do you know, Liesi, how hard I work. You are a woman and you can do housework which is nothing at all, really," he said one day.

"Well, if that's what you think," said Leisi, "we will take turns, shall we? Tomorrow you do my work in the house and I shall go out into the fields and cut the hay." Fritzl laughed. "Sure," he said, "Let's do that. We'll try it out." He thought, "All I have to do is lie on the grass, keep an eye on our Kindli, churn the butter, fry a bit of meat and cook the soup. Huh, how easy!" He smiled to himself. The next morning, Liesi woke up early and went out into the fields with a scythe over her shoulder. Fritzl went to the kitchen, took some meat, and put it in the pan to fry it. The pan sizzled and Fritzl felt the pleasure of doing something new. He was going to enjoy every moment of it. As his thoughts roamed pleasantly, he thought it would be nice to have a mug of cider with his meat. Apple cider would be the thing. He would have to get it from the cellar below the house. So he set the pan on the edge of the fireplace and went down into the cellar where there was a large barrel full of cider. He pulled out the stopper from the mouth of the barrel and held out his mug. It made a popping sound and the cider spurted out into his mug, full of foam and sparkle which pleased him very much. Suddenly, over the gurgle of the apple cider, he could hear some noises coming from the kitchen above his head. What was that? he thought with a start, could it be Spitz the dog after the meat? The very thought of it sent him flying up the stairs to the kitchen. As he was about to enter the kitchen he saw the dog leaping out of the kitchen and out into the yard with the meat in his mouth. 

"Stop, Stop," he shouted, "you thieving dog! Stop." But Spitz didn't stop. He knew a good thing when he had it and he fled faster and faster until Fritzl could chase him no more. He panted and puffed as he made his way back, "What's done is done and there's nothing that can be done about it now." With this simple philosophy to soothe his feelings, he mopped his face with his handkerchief and stepped into the house. With a shock, he realized that he had forgotten all about the apple cider. Did I close the barrel? he asked himself and realized that he had not. He slapped his forehead and dashed down into the cellar. He could hardly go in because the barrel was emptying out into the cellar. The apple cider had filled up the room. It was too late and there was nothing that Fritzl could do about it. "What's gone is gone," said he to himself, "and we can't get it back." Repeating this, he turned his mind to the next household chore that had to be done. Yes, it was time to churn the butter. Fritzl filled the churn with rich cream and placed it under the big tree in the yard.

It was very pleasant out in the yard under the tree as he churned the butter. Little Kindli played among the daisies in the field and the blue sky above was lit with a golden sun. As he looked around him, he realized that he had forgotten all about the cow! The poor cow had not had a drop of water all morning and must be dry in the mouth. So Fritzl ran to the barn carrying a bucket of cool fresh water for the cow. The poor creature's tongue was hanging out with thirst. She was hungry too. So, Fritzl thought he should take her out to the grassy meadow. But he had the little girl Kindli to care for also. He cannot go far with the cow. He hit upon a smart idea. The roof of their house was built against the hillside and one could walk on the top of the roof from the hillside. The roof was covered with cool moss and sod and a fine crop of grass too. He led the cow up to the top for her to feed while he went back to his butter churning. But hardly had he done this when he found his baby climbing up on the churn. The churn tipped over and all the butter lay on the ground with baby Kindli in the middle, nicely coated with creamy yellow. Fritzl came running and picked her up and laid her in the sun to dry. It was already noon and Leisi would soon be coming home for lunch and the soup was not ready. Fritzl dashed off to the garden to gather onion, potato, carrot, beans and cabbage, turnip and parsley, and celery. All of this would make a fine soup, he was sure, and with his arms full he set to work in the kitchen. As he peeled and pared the vegetables, the skins falling all over the kitchen, he heard great noises on the rooftop and feared that the cow might slip off the rooftop and fall. 

So, he carried a string of rope up and tied it around the waist of the cow. He sent the other end of the rope through the chimney into the kitchen below. Then, back in the kitchen, he tied the end around his own waist. He continued his work. He thought, "This will keep the cow from falling off the roof or running away." He was all set to cook the soup when, with a big bump, the cow rolled over and fell off the roof. Immediately, as you can guess, he was whisked up towards the chimney passage. There dangled poor Fritzl, unable to go up or get down. Soon Liesi came home. Imagine her shock when the first thing she should see was their cow hanging over the edge of the roof! "What was the cow doing there?" she wondered. It looked like it was half choked too, with her eyes popping. Liesi lost no time. Thank heaven, the cow was alive and none the worse for the experience. The garden gate was open and all the pigs, goats, and geese had entered it and completely ate up everything that was in the garden. Remember when Fritzl gathered some vegetables to cook the soup with? Well, his arms were so full that he forgot to shut the garden gate, and now the garden was bare. As she proceeded, Liesi saw that the churn in the yard had been tipped over with little Kindli sitting in the sun, stiff and sticky with the butter and cream, and Spitz the dog was sick on the grass for having eaten all the meat. As she entered the house, she could get the strong smell of apple cider.

Her surprise was gone when she made her way to the cellar and saw what had happened. As she entered the kitchen she heard sounds of gurgles and arms and legs kicking from the cooking pot and found her husband inside. When she cut the rope near the roof's edge to save the cow, the dangling Fritzl fell into the soup pot. It was the largest pot, for Fritzl had wanted to cook even for the night the most excellent soup ever cooked. Quickly, Liesi saved her husband from the soup and pulled him out with the tomato juice in his eyes, a cabbage leaf in his hair, celery in his pocket, and a sprig of parsley over one ear. He was a sight. But Liesi did not laugh. "What on earth happened?" she asked. Fritzl told her everything and declared that he would never change his job again. Even though Liesi said encouragingly that perhaps he would like to try it again another day, he vehemently refused, saying, "Leave me to my fields and you can care for the home. I will never again say that my work is harder than yours, my dear Liesi. For now, I know." He was so sorry about everything that Liesi did not mind the mess and said, "Well, if that's how you feel, we can each do our bit of work and live happily!" And that is what they did.

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