“The Poor Miller’s Boy and the Cat”
There once was a miller who had three apprentices. One day he told them that whoever brought him the best horse would get the mill because the miller wanted to retire.
The three lads went out, but the older two told the youngest – Stupid Hans – to just wait because he’d never find a horse. But he went with them. The three came to a cave and laid down to sleep, but once Hans was asleep, the other two left him there.
When Hans woke up, he ran out into the forest and came across a cat, which told him that if Hans served her for seven years, she would give him the most beautiful horse.
So Hans followed her to her castle where all her servants were cats. They were all happy cats who jumped around and played music while they dined. After dinner, the main cat asked Hans to dance with her, but he said no because he didn’t know how. So she sent him to bed.
Hans worked for the cat by chopping wood, mowing her meadow, and building her a small house. He did all these with tools of silver and gold. The seven years passed like six months.
When it was time for him to leave, she opened the door of the house to show twelve of the best horses. She said that the horse wouldn’t go with him, but that she would follow him in three days with it.
So Hans went back to the mill with his old, dirty clothing. The other two apprentices were there, but one was blind and the other lame. They laughed when he said a horse would follow him in three days.
Hans was so dirty they didn’t want him in the mill, so he had to sneak into the goose house to sleep. He woke three days later, and a coach with six horses appeared along with a seventh for him.
In the coach was the cat, who was in reality a beautiful princess. She asked about the boy, and learned he was in the goose house. She had her servants clean him and present him. She then asked what horses the other apprentices had brought, but neither had found one. When Hans’ horse was brought forward, the miller was overjoyed.
The miller was all set to give Hans the mill, but the princess took him in the coach. They returned to the little house he had built, only it was now a wonderful castle full of gold and silver items. They married and lived happily ever after.
Is this the same Stupid Hans from “The Griffin,” or are people named Hans normally stupid?
A horse? That’s what the miller wanted so he could retire? Not jewels, or gold or anything. Just “My mill, for a horse.”
The time in this story confuses me. Was it seven years, or six months? If Hans was just going to sleep for three days, why not just make it that the horse would follow him the next day and he’d only have to sleep for one night? But more importantly, if someone sends you out to find a horse, they probably expect you back in a few days or maybe a week. But seven years?
What happened to the other two apprentices? What stories do they have?
Why was the princess a cat? I feel like we’re missing a story.