IT IS THE SEVENTEENTH YEAR OF THE GREAT WAR OF FAITH. GERMANY HAS LOST MORE THAN HALF HER INHABITANTS. THOSE WHO SURVIVE THE BLOODBATH ARE KILLED OFF BY TERRIBLE EPIDEMICS. ONCE-FERTILE AREAS ARE RAVAGED BY FAMINE, WOLVES ROAM THE BURNT-OUT TOWNS. IN AUTUMN 1634 WE FIND COURAGE IN THE FICHTELGEBIRGE, OFF THE MAIN AXIS OF THE SWEDISH ARMIES. THE WINTER THIS YEAR IS EARLY AND HARSH. BUSINESS IS BAD, SO THAT THERE IS NOTHING TO DO BUT BEG. THE COOK GETS A LETTER FROM UTRECHT AND IS SENT PACKING.
MC and the cook are begging outside a crumbling church house. It's morning in early winter, and things are looking pretty bad for our friends.
They're waiting for them to wake up and ring some bells—then MC and the cook will hopefully be able to ask for food. But they're not even sure if anyone's home.
Guess what? Singing probably wouldn't hurt.
But then, the cook interrupts her. He tells her he has a letter from Utrecht telling him that he's inherited an inn from his mother. He wants to move there with MC and start up a business.
MC is tired of traveling around all the time. She has nothing to sell, and nobody has money to buy.
So, she's interested, but first she wants to talk it over with Kattrin.
She calls Kattrin out from the wagon and tells her about the cook's plan.
Then Kattrin goes back inside so the cook can talk privately with MC.
She can't bring Kattrin, the cook tells her, since there's only room for two in the inn. They'll never make a profit with three mouths to feed.
Kattrin pokes her head out and listens to the cook.
MC doesn't like the idea. She doesn't know how Kattrin could make it on her own. "She's got a soft heart."
They see a light on in the church house, so they finally decide to sing.
They sing a song comparing their own misfortune to the misfortunes of other virtuous people (Solomon, Caesar, Socrates, Saint Martin).
The song is interspersed with spoken parts, in which they make it clear that they'd all have been better off without all those virtues.
A voice from the church house invites them up.
MC has lost her appetite thinking about Kattrin. Both still go into the house for some hot soup.
Kattrin gets out of the wagon. She starts packing up her things and gets ready to run away. She lays out clothes belonging to the cook and MC, making sure they'll see the clothes when they return.
MC returns with some soup for Kattrin, just in time to see what she's up to.
She decides to ditch the cook and keep going with Kattrin. They harness themselves to the wagon and pull it off.
The cook returns and sees all his stuff lying on the ground.