Czech Folk Tales/Old Nick and Kitty
OLD NICK AND KITTY
Once upon a time there was an old maid-servant on a farm. She was a score or two years old, but she wanted to get married, though nobody would even touch her. She never missed a dance: she was sure to turn up at every one of them, though nobody ever asked her to dance. So at last she said:
"l’d dance with Old Nick if only he'd come."
The clock struck eleven and a youth clothed in green entered the room. He went straight up to our Kitty and began to dance with her. All the girls couldn't keep from laughing, but they daren't laugh openly. So they held their aprons over their faces. Kitty was very angry, but she kept on dancing like the wind. She thought: "Let the fools laugh; they'd be glad enough to dance with the lad themselves."
It was hard upon twelve now, and Old Nick—for Old Nick it was—had to start for home. But Kitty wouldn't let him go. What was he to do with her? He was absolutely at a loss what to do, for she was clinging on to him behind.
He went to the pond, thinking he'd be able to throw her in. He tried to do it, but she clasped him round the neck and he couldn't manage it. So off he went to Hell with her. But the people of Hell made an outcry against her and wouldn't let her stay at any price.
"Hang it all!" says Old Nick, "I can't go all round the world with her."
At last he met a shepherd: "l say, shepherd," says he, "would you like this maiden here?"
"A nice maiden that is, the ugly old spinster! Keep her for yourself. You can pickle her."
Now, when the devil saw that he was going to fail again, he promised the shepherd a heap of money, only to rid himself of the hideous old crone. But the shepherd refused.
"I'll make it so much," says Old Nick.
"Well, if you will, I agree."
Now, the shepherd was a good-looking fellow, and Kitty was easily persuaded to stay with him. He had lots of money now, and he had the same idea as the devil, to throw her into the pond. What else could he do with such a hideous old hag? He had a great fur coat, and he put it on so high over his head that she couldn't catch hold of his neck, and, plump! off she went into the pond. But, you know, a bad one's a bad one, and you can't get rid of them so easily. So it was with Kitty. She wasn't drowned.
A short time after this, Old Nick had an appointment with a man. I don't exactly know how the case stood, but anyhow the devil was to get him. The man asked the shepherd to save him; he was quite ready to pay him well for it.
"All right," says the shepherd, "I can do that much for you. Old Nick and l are the best of friends."
Now, a crowd of people had collected and they were all wondering how it was going to end. In comes Old Nick. The shepherd runs to meet him and: "Old Kitty's here asking for you," says he.
The devil left things as they were, and before you could say "Jack Robinson" he was off. So it all turned out all right.
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.
The longest-living author of this work died in 1965, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 57 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.