Thursday, April 27, 2017

W111.2.5. Boy to see whether there is fire in the house: feels cat to see if she is warm (WTF - Weird Things in Folktales)

Welcome to my A to Z Challenge blog series titled WTF - Weird Things in Folktales! Find the introduction post (explaining the theme) here. Find all other participating blogs in the comments of each day's post on the main blog! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

W is for Traits of Character, both favorable and unfavorable. Folktales are full of nice and less nice characters, and their personalities are represented through various actions - some more peculiar than others. Tales depicting extraordinary laziness (W111) are especially entertaining. Observe:

W111.2.5. Boy to see whether there is fire in the house: feels cat to see if she is warm 

This story, commonly known and shared around Europe in the Middle Ages, features an extraordinarily lazy servant. When his lord tells him to get up and see if it rained, the servant calls in the dog instead, to see if it is wet. When asked whether there is enough fire in the house, the servant, instead of checking the fireplace, calls in the cat and pets it, to see if it is warm. When his lord asks why the door has been open all night, the servant answers: "I knew you would ask me to open it in the morning, so I left it open the night before to save myself the trouble."

Let's face it, we all know that person (like someone who asks the phone if it's raining instead of looking out the window). Also, most of us have been that person, from time to time. I know from experience that you sometimes only notice it's raining when the dog comes in soaking wet...

(Read the French version of the story here, the German version of the story here, and the Yiddish version of the story here.)

W11.9. Prince donates all including a tooth
W11.16. Generous king gives away his only eye
W28.4. Saint threatens to take place of homicide in hell unless soul is released.
W111.1.1.1. Man is burned to death because he is too lazy to put out spark
W111.5.13. Man weeds garden from cushioned rocking chair, using fire tongs to reach weeds
W116.7. Use of strange language to show one’s high education
W128.3. Dissatisfied rivers complain against sea
W152.3. Stingy dead woman raises her head to correct account of laundress, who is overcharging her daughter
W152.7. Spider in stingy woman‘s house grows thin
W152.12.2. Stingy farmer encourages help by promise of hot lunch. The servant discovers that the hot lunch is a mustard sandwich.
W152.14.2. Man saves sausage skins, sends them back for refilling
W212.1. Eager warriors go through tent wall


  1. Reminds me of a folk tale I heard once of a foolish woman who had only one match to light her fire in the morning.

    She fretted and worried all night long that her last match would not light. Finally, to reassure herself, she got up and lit the match. Once it flared into life, she knew her worries were for naught, and went back to sleep.

    1. Like this story:) Super one for worry warts.

  2. Some say lazy, I say an efficient use of time. ;) And checking to see if the cat is warm is kind of adorable.

    A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

  3. He sounds more ingenious than lazy to me:)
    W is for Warp and Weft

    1. I agree! :D
      Even if this is a common story, I hadn't heard about. Thanks for haring it!
      Eva - Mail Adventures

  4. He was a thinker out of the box! And todays fav amongst the RU's got to be - man saving sausageskins - talk about recycling! :)


  5. I don't have to call in the dog (I don't have) to see if it's raining, the rain on the roof in this room is enough evidence. The cat and dog test, ok, but leaving the door open, he has to go!

    Finding Eliza

  6. that would be me on days when I really do not want to do anything but the tricks with the cat and dog, it isn't so bad or weird, call it being resourceful without moving from your chair...

    have a lovely day.

    ~ my W post -wheel of fortune -word game ~

  7. I have to say I laughed at the runner up story -
    Man weeds garden from cushioned rocking chair, using fire tongs to reach weeds." I'm hoping the garden hose is near. :-)

  8. Okay, from the title of this I thought you mean the house was ON fire, on the boy checked to see if that cat was warm. Which is totally something I could see my son doing. Not because he's lazy, but just because that's how 5-year-old logic works.

    W - Winnie the Pooh and Canada Too

  9. I'm still marveling at the man who re-uses the sausage skins.

  10. When I saw the title, I assumed the boy was blind.

    The sausage skins story sounds like something my mother's side of the family would do, since they're notoriously penny-pinching.

  11. Wonderful post as always... always love your informative and fascinating posts. Thanks!!
    - Joy @ The Joyous Living

  12. Eager warriors go through tent wall must be relatives of our eager firefighters who one day drove through the glass door of the firehouse when the door was closed. We have all solid doors now.

  13. I think he's just come up with a load of time-saving measures, therefore increasing his productivity no end. Giving away one's only eye is certainly generous, but of what use would it be to the recipient?

  14. Haha, leaving the door open overnight. I can just see the various animals of the time wandering in and enjoying the goodies in the pantry.

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador | Water. Clean Drinking Water

  15. That's a lot of lazy. The dog and the cat, I could let go, but leaving the door open all night? No sir, that servant would be fired. In which case, I could see that ending along the same lines as the lazy servant and the spark.
    Discarded Darlings - Jean Davis, Speculative Fiction Writer, A to Z: Editing Fiction

  16. How lucky we are to live in the time of internet, which knows everything, so we just have to sit in our chair and punch a few buttons to know everything as well ;-)
    Who needs experience anymore?

    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

  17. Lol as a cat owner I immediately see a flaw in his plan - cats don't go anywhere you want them to! XD Especially if there's a nice warm fire hehe.

    Here's my "W" post :)