Grimm’s Grimmest – The Three Army Surgeons
The innkeeper desires to see what the three surgeons can do, and equipped with a salve that could join parts together, the surgeons accept the challenge.
The first would cut off his hand and put it on again the next morning; the second would tear out his heart and replace it the next morning; the third would gouge out his eyes and heal them the next morning.
All of these organs were placed on a plate and given to the innkeeper before the surgeons retired for the evening in their beds in the inn. The innkeeper gave the plate to a servant girl, who was supposed to keep it safe and under her care in the cupboard.
However, the servant girl had a secret lover (a soldier), who arrived late in the night. The servant girl fed the soldier, forgetting to close the cupboard with the plate of organs in it.
The cat came creeping into the cupboard and devoured the organs one by one. Finally realizing her mistake, the servant girl asks her secret lover to help her find a solution to the obvious problem.
The first surgeon’s hand is replaced by a thief’s hand; the second surgeon’s heart is replaced by a pig’s heart; and the third surgeon’s eyes were replaced by the devious cat’s eyes.
In the morning, the surgeons were none the wiser and used the salve to heal themselves. However, as they traveled on their way, the surgeons realized something was terrible wrong.
Returning to the inn, the three surgeons demanded to receive their own organs. The innkeeper said that the girl was to blame for that, but upon seeing the returning surgeons she had run out never to return.
The three surgeons blackmailed the innkeeper, demanding a great deal of money or the inn’s roof would be set on fire. He could do nothing but give them the money they demanded.
It was enough for them to live on, but they would rather have had their rightful organs.
This fairy tale was straightforward and direct; it is a mere three pages in length. The Three Army Surgeons is not graphic, but the surgeons are meticulously morbid with their self-mutilation for the art of surgery. The moral lesson related to this fairy tale eludes me.