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Main > Scandinavian folktales > Fairy tale "Tales of cats"

Tales of cats

The house of Katholm (Cat-isle) near Grenaac, in Jutland, got its name from the following circumstance.

There was a man in Jutland who had made a good deal of money by improper means. When he died he left his property equally among his three sons. The youngest, when he got his share, thought to himself—

"What comes with sin goes with sorrow," and he resolved to submit his money to the water-ordeal, thinking that the ill-got money would sink to the bottom, and what was honestly acquired swim on the top. He accordingly cast all his money into the water, and only one solitary farthing swam. With this he bought a cat, and he went to sea and visited foreign parts. At length he chanced to come to a place where the people were sadly plagued by an enormous number of rats and mice, and as his cat had had kittens by this time, he acquired great wealth by selling them. So he came home to Jutland, and built himself a house, which he called Katholm.

There was one time a poor sailor out of Ribe, who came to a foreign island whose inhabitants were grievously plagued with mice. By good luck he had a cat of his own on board, and the people of the island gave him so much gold for it that he went home as fast as he could to fetch more cats, and by this traffic he in a short time grew so rich that he had no need of any more. Some time after, when he was on his deathbed, he bequeathed a large sum of money for the building of Ribe Cathedral, and a proof of this is still to be seen in a carving over the east door of the church, representing a cat and four mice. The door is called Cat-head Door (Kathoved Dor).

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