One rainy Sunday in 1544, discussions of all types were going strong amongst the men in the local pub of Pont-la-Ville. The elders were discussing serious subjects like their crops, their livestock or their forests but the young men were comparing the various merits of the young ladies of their village with the reputed merits of the young ladies who lived on the other side of the Sarine river.
Inevitably, they were sure the grass was greener and the young ladies fairer on the other side but the physical gully, called the Thusy, and the river between the two made visits practically impossible in those days.
Just then a stranger entered the pub. He was well turned out, looked wealthy and noble. After a while, he sat down at a table where the local authorities were finishing their drinks. He ordered a round and said he was surprised that there was, as yet, no bridge over the Thusy gully. Everyone looked at him in surprise, especially when he added that he could easily build a stone bridge across the gully in no time.
The mayor, whose interest was fired, asked how much it would cost. The answer was "I am wealthy, I need no money but the first living being to cross the bridge once it is built must be given over to me". Certain he was on to a good deal, the mayor shook hands on it straight away, little thinking he had shaken hands on a deal with the Devil.
The bridge was built in record time and Satan himself appeared to collect his due. He was met by the local priest carrying two bags hidden under his robes. The two stood face to face on the new bridge. The priest opened his bags and a mouse, followed closely by a cat, leapt out and raced across the bridge. They were the first "living beings" to cross the bridge !
Thematic route :
A Country of Legends
Marie-Alexandre Bovet, from "les légendes de la Gruyère", Editions Gruériennes, 2004