Katcha and the Devil: The Story of a Clinging Vine
There was once a woman named Katcha who lived in a village where she owned her own cottage and garden. She had money besides but little good it did her because she was such an ill-tempered vixen that nobody, not even the poorest laborer, would marry her. Nobody would even work for her, no matter what she paid, for she couldn’t open her mouth without scolding, and whenever she scolded she raised her shrill voice until you could hear it a mile away. The older she grew the worse she became until by the time she was forty she was as sour as vinegar.
Now as it always happens in a village, every Sunday afternoon there was a dance either at the burgomaster’s, or at the tavern. As soon as the bagpipes sounded, the boys all crowded into the room and the girls gathered outside and looked in the windows. Katcha was always the first at the window. The music would strike up and the boys would beckon the girls to come in and dance, but no one ever beckoned Katcha. Even when she paid the piper no one ever asked her to dance. Yet she came Sunday after Sunday just the same.
One Sunday afternoon as she was hurrying to the tavern she thought to herself: “Here I am getting old and yet I’ve never once danced with a boy! Plague take it, today I’d dance with the devil if he asked me!”
She was in a fine rage by the time she reached the tavern, where she sat down near the stove and looked around to see what girls the boys had invited to dance.
Suddenly a stranger in hunter’s green came in. He sat down at a table near Katcha and ordered drink. When the serving maid brought the beer, he reached over to Katcha and asked her to drink with him. At first she was much taken back at this attention, then she pursed her lips coyly and pretended to refuse, but finally she accepted.
When they had finished drinking, he pulled a ducat from his pocket, tossed it to the piper, and called out:
“Clear the floor, boys! This is for Katcha and me alone!”
The boys snickered and the girls giggled hiding behind each other and stuffing their aprons into their mouths so that Katcha wouldn’t hear them laughing.