ENGLISH

The white snake

DANSK

Den hvide slange


A long time ago there lived a king who was famed for his wisdom through all the land. Nothing was hidden from him, and it seemed as if news of the most secret things was brought to him through the air. But he had a strange custom; every day after dinner, when the table was cleared, and no one else was present, a trusty servant had to bring him one more dish. It was covered, however, and even the servant did not know what was in it, neither did anyone know, for the King never took off the cover to eat of it until he was quite alone. This had gone on for a long time, when one day the servant, who took away the dish, was overcome with such curiosity that he could not help carrying the dish into his room. When he had carefully locked the door, he lifted up the cover, and saw a white snake lying on the dish. But when he saw it he could not deny himself the pleasure of tasting it, so he cut off a little bit and put it into his mouth. No sooner had it touched his tongue than he heard a strange whispering of little voices outside his window. He went and listened, and then noticed that it was the sparrows who were chattering together, and telling one another of all kinds of things which they had seen in the fields and woods. Eating the snake had given him power of understanding the language of animals.
For mange, mange år siden levede der en konge, som var berømt over hele verden for sin visdom. Han vidste alt, hvad der skete, og man skulle næsten tro, at han fik bud på luftens vinger om de hemmeligste ting. Men han havde en underlig vane. Hver middag, når der var taget af bordet, og alle var gået ud, måtte en tro tjener bringe ham endnu et fad. Det var lukket, og tjeneren vidste lige så lidt som noget andet menneske, hvad der var deri, for kongen spiste ikke af det, før han var helt alene. Sådan var det gået i nogen tid, men en dag blev tjeneren grebet af en så uimodståelig nysgerrighed, at han listede sig ind i et andet værelse med fadet. Da han havde låst døren omhyggeligt, tog han låget af og så, at der lå en hvid slange. Han fik straks sådan lyst til at smage på den og skar et lille stykke af og puttede det i munden. Næppe havde han spist det, før han hørte en underlig susen og hvisken udenfor vinduet. Han gik derhen og lyttede og opdagede da, at det var spurvene, der talte med hinanden og fortalte alt, hvad de havde oplevet i mark og skov. Enhver, der spiste af slangen, fik evne til at forstå dyrenes sprog.


Now it so happened that on this very day the Queen lost her most beautiful ring, and suspicion of having stolen it fell upon this trusty servant, who was allowed to go everywhere. The King ordered the man to be brought before him, and threatened with angry words that unless he could before the morrow point out the thief, he himself should be looked upon as guilty and executed. In vain he declared his innocence; he was dismissed with no better answer. In his trouble and fear he went down into the courtyard and took thought how to help himself out of his trouble. Now some ducks were sitting together quietly by a brook and taking their rest; and, whilst they were making their feathers smooth with their bills, they were having a confidential conversation together. The servant stood by and listened. They were telling one another of all the places where they had been waddling about all the morning, and what good food they had found, and one said in a pitiful tone, "Something lies heavy on my stomach; as I was eating in haste I swallowed a ring which lay under the Queen's window." The servant at once seized her by the neck, carried her to the kitchen, and said to the cook, "Here is a fine duck; pray, kill her." - "Yes," said the cook, and weighed her in his hand; "she has spared no trouble to fatten herself, and has been waiting to be roasted long enough." So he cut off her head, and as she was being dressed for the spit, the Queen's ring was found inside her. The servant could now easily prove his innocence; and the King, to make amends for the wrong, allowed him to ask a favour, and promised him the best place in the court that he could wish for.
Samme dag blev en af dronningens kostbare ringe borte, og mistanken faldt på den tro tjener, der havde adgang til alle værelser. Kongen kaldte ham for sig og sagde, at hvis han ikke inden næste dag kunne sige, hvem der var tyven, ville han blive antaget for gerningsmanden og henrettet. Det hjalp ikke, at han forsikrede, han var uskyldig. Han gik da bekymret frem og tilbage i gården og tænkte på, hvordan han skulle blive frelst. Ude i vandet svømmede ænderne fredeligt omkring og pudsede sig med næbbet og snakkede sammen. Tjeneren blev stående og hørte på dem. De talte om det dejlige foder, de havde fået om morgenen, og en af dem sagde ærgerlig: "Jeg har i hastværk slugt kejserindens ring, der var faldet ud af vinduet, den ligger så tungt i min mave." Tjeneren greb den øjeblikkelig i nakken, bar den op i køkkenet og sagde til kokken: "Her er en dejlig fed and, den skulle du slagte." Kokken så på den og sagde: "Ja, den har såmænd ædt godt, den kan nok fortjene at blive stegt." Han skar halsen over på den, og da indvoldene blev taget ud, fandt han dronningens ring i maven. Tjeneren kunne nu let bevise sin uskyldighed, og kongen, der ville gøre sin uret god igen, gav ham lov til at forlange, hvad han ville, og lovede at gøre ham til den fornemste mand i landet, hvis han ønskede det.


The servant refused everything, and only asked for a horse and some money for travelling, as he had a mind to see the world and go about a little. When his request was granted he set out on his way, and one day came to a pond, where he saw three fishes caught in the reeds and gasping for water. Now, though it is said that fishes are dumb, he heard them lamenting that they must perish so miserably, and, as he had a kind heart, he got off his horse and put the three prisoners back into the water. They quivered with delight, put out their heads, and cried to him, "We will remember you and repay you for saving us!" He rode on, and after a while it seemed to him that he heard a voice in the sand at his feet. He listened, and heard an ant-king complain, "Why cannot folks, with their clumsy beasts, keep off our bodies? That stupid horse, with his heavy hoofs, has been treading down my people without mercy!" So he turned on to a side path and the ant-king cried out to him, 'We will remember you - one good turn deserves another!" The path led him into a wood, and here he saw two old ravens standing by their nest, and throwing out their young ones. "Out with you, you idle, good-for-nothing creatures!" cried they; "we cannot find food for you any longer; you are big enough, and can provide for yourselves." But the poor young ravens lay upon the ground, flapping their wings, and crying, "Oh, what helpless chicks we are! We must shift for ourselves, and yet we cannot fly! What can we do, but lie here and starve?" So the good young fellow alighted and killed his horse with his sword, and gave it to them for food. Then they came hopping up to it, satisfied their hunger, and cried, "We will remember you - one good turn deserves another!"
Tjeneren brød sig imidlertid slet ikke derom, men bad om en hest og nogle rejsepenge, for han havde lyst til at se sig om i verden. Det gav kongen ham gerne, og han begav sig straks på vej. En dag kom han forbi en dam, hvor han så tre fisk, der hang fast mellem sivene og lå og snappede efter vejret. Man siger jo nok, at fiskene er stumme, men han forstod straks, at de klagede over, at de nu skulle dø. Han fik medlidenhed med dem, steg af hesten og hjalp dem med at slippe løs. De var meget taknemmelige og stak hovederne op af vandet og råbte: "Vi skal nok gengælde dig din godhed." Han red videre og nogen tid efter syntes han, at han hørte stemmer nede fra sandet. Han lyttede efter og hørte da en myredronning, der sukkende sagde: "Bare de dumme mennesker kunne blive os fra livet med deres klodsede dyr. Der kommer den store hest og tramper alle mine myrer ihjel." Tjeneren bøjede om ad en sidevej og myredronningen råbte efter ham: "Vi skal nok gengælde dig din godhed." Vejen førte gennem en skov, og derinde kom han forbi to ravne, der var i færd med at kaste deres unger ud af reden. "Pak jer," råbte de, "vi kan ikke mere skaffe mad til jer. I er store nok til at ernære jer selv." De stakkels unger lå på jorden og baskede med vingerne og skreg: "Vi kan ikke engang flyve, vi dør af sult." Den gode tjener steg da af hesten, stødte sin dolk i den og lod den ligge, for at ravneungerne kunne få noget at spise. De kom så hoppende, og åd sig mætte og råbte efter ham: "Vi skal nok gengælde dig din godhed."


And now he had to use his own legs, and when he had walked a long way, he came to a large city. There was a great noise and crowd in the streets, and a man rode up on horseback, crying aloud, "The King's daughter wants a husband; but whoever sues for her hand must perform a hard task, and if he does not succeed he will forfeit his life." Many had already made the attempt, but in vain; nevertheless when the youth saw the King's daughter he was so overcome by her great beauty that he forgot all danger, went before the King, and declared himself a suitor.
Nu måtte han bruge sine ben, og langt om længe kom han til en by. Der var stor trængsel på gaderne, og en mand kom ridende på en hest og forkyndte, at kongedatteren ønskede at gifte sig, men den, der ville bejle til hende, måtte først bestå en vanskelig prøve, og bestod han den ikke, havde han sit liv forbrudt. Mange havde allerede forsøgt derpå, men de havde alle sat livet til. Da ynglingen så kongedatteren, blev han så blændet af hendes skønhed, at han slet ikke tænkte på faren, men meldte sig som frier.


So he was led out to the sea, and a gold ring was thrown into it, in his sight; then the King ordered him to fetch this ring up from the bottom of the sea, and added, "If you come up again without it you will be thrown in again and again until you perish amid the waves." All the people grieved for the handsome youth; then they went away, leaving him alone by the sea. He stood on the shore and considered what he should do, when suddenly he saw three fishes come swimming towards him, and they were the very fishes whose lives he had saved. The one in the middle held a mussel in its mouth, which it laid on the shore at the youth's feet, and when he had taken it up and opened it, there lay the gold ring in the shell. Full of joy he took it to the King, and expected that he would grant him the promised reward. But when the proud princess perceived that he was not her equal in birth, she scorned him, and required him first to perform another task. She went down into the garden and strewed with her own hands ten sacks-full of millet-seed on the grass; then she said, "To-morrow morning before sunrise these must be picked up, and not a single grain be wanting." The youth sat down in the garden and considered how it might be possible to perform this task, but he could think of nothing, and there he sat sorrowfully awaiting the break of day, when he should be led to death. But as soon as the first rays of the sun shone into the garden he saw all the ten sacks standing side by side, quite full, and not a single grain was missing. The ant-king had come in the night with thousands and thousands of ants, and the grateful creatures had by great industry picked up all the millet-seed and gathered them into the sacks. Presently the King's daughter herself came down into the garden, and was amazed to see that the young man had done the task she had given him. But she could not yet conquer her proud heart, and said, "Although he has performed both the tasks, he shall not be my husband until he has brought me an apple from the Tree of Life." The youth did not know where the Tree of Life stood, but he set out, and would have gone on for ever, as long as his legs would carry him, though he had no hope of finding it. After he had wandered through three kingdoms, he came one evening to a wood, and lay down under a tree to sleep. But he heard a rustling in the branches, and a golden apple fell into his hand. At the same time three ravens flew down to him, perched themselves upon his knee, and said, "We are the three young ravens whom you saved from starving; when we had grown big, and heard that you were seeking the Golden Apple, we flew over the sea to the end of the world, where the Tree of Life stands, and have brought you the apple." The youth, full of joy, set out homewards, and took the Golden Apple to the King's beautiful daughter, who had no more excuses left to make. They cut the Apple of Life in two and ate it together; and then her heart became full of love for him, and they lived in undisturbed happiness to a great age.
Han blev nu ført ned til havet, og en guldring blev kastet i vandet. Kongen befalede ham, at bringe ringen tilbage og tilføjede: "Men hvis du kommer op igen uden den, bliver du styrtet ud og finder din død i bølgerne." Alle beklagede den smukke yngling, der blev stående alene tilbage på bredden. Mens han stod der og tænkte på, hvad han skulle gøre, så han tre fisk komme svømmende. Det var dem, hvis liv han havde frelst. Den midterste holdt en muslingeskal i munden og lagde den op på stranden for hans fødder, og da han tog den op og åbnede den, lå guldringen deri. Glad bragte han den til kongen og troede, at han nu skulle få sin løn. Men da den stolte kongedatter fik at vide, at han ikke var hende jævnbyrdig, forlangte hun, at han skulle stilles på endnu en prøve. Hun gik selv ned i haven og strøede ti sække hirsekorn ud i græsset. "Dem må han samle op inden solen står op i morgen," sagde hun, "og der må ikke mangle en eneste. " Ynglingen satte sig ude i haven og tænkte på, hvad han dog skulle gøre, men han kunne ikke finde på råd og sad bedrøvet og ventede, at han skulle føres til retterstedet næste dag. Men da solens første stråler faldt ind i haven, så han, at alle ti sække var fyldt til randen, og der manglede ikke et eneste korn. Myredronningen havde været der med sine tusind og atter tusind myrer, og de havde samlet alt kornet op. Da kongedatteren kom ned i haven, så hun mod forventning, at ynglingen havde gjort, hvad hun havde sagt. Men hun kunne endnu ikke bøje sit stolte hjerte og sagde: "Jeg vil alligevel ikke gifte mig med ham, før han har skaffet mig et æble fra livets træ." Ynglingen havde ingen anelse om, hvor livets træ groede, men han begav sig straks på vej. Da han havde vandret gennem tre kongeriger, kom han ind i en stor skov og satte sig til at sove under et træ. Pludselig hørte han en støj ovenover sit hovede, og et gyldent æble faldt ned i hans hånd. På samme tid kom tre ravne flyvende, satte sig ved hans fødder og sagde: "Vi er de tre ravneunger, som du reddede fra at dø af sult. Da vi fik at vide, at du søgte efter det gyldne æble, fløj vi over havet til verdens ende, hvor livets træ står, og hentede æblet til dig." Ynglingen begav sig nu glad på hjemvejen og bragte den smukke kongedatter æblet, og nu kunne hun ikke finde på flere udflugter. De delte så livets æble, og da hun havde spist det, kom hun til at holde uendelig meget af ham, og de levede lykkeligt med hinanden i mange, mange år.





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