ENGLISH

Godfather Death

日本語

死神の名付け親


A poor man had twelve children and had to work day and night in order just to feed them. Thus when the thirteenth came into the world, not knowing what to do in his need, he ran out into the highway, intending to ask the first person whom he met to be the godfather. The first person who came his way was our dear God, who already knew what was in his heart, and God said to him, "Poor man, I pity you. I will hold your child at his baptism, and care for him, and make him happy on earth." The man said, "Who are you?" - "I am God." - "Then I do not wish to have you for a godfather," said the man. "You give to the rich, and let the poor starve." Thus spoke the man, for he did not know how wisely God divides out wealth and poverty. Then he turned away from the Lord, and went on his way. Then the devil came to him and said, "What are you looking for? If you will take me as your child's godfather, I will give him an abundance of gold and all the joys of the world as well." The man asked, "Who are you?" - "I am the devil." - "Then I do not wish to have you for a godfather," said the man. You deceive mankind and lead them astray." He went on his way, and then Death, on his withered legs, came walking toward him, and said, "Take me as your child's godfather." The man asked, "Who are you?" - "I am Death, who makes everyone equal." Then the man said, "You are the right one. You take away the rich as well as the poor, without distinction. You shall be my child's godfather. Death answered, "I will make your child rich and famous, for he who has me for a friend cannot fail." The man said, "Next Sunday is the baptism. Be there on time." Death appeared as he had promised, and served as godfather in an orderly manner.

After the boy came of age his godfather appeared to him one day and asked him to go with him. He took him out into the woods and showed him an herb that grew there, saying, "Now you shall receive your godfather's present. I will turn you into a famous physician. Whenever you are called to a sick person I will appear to you. If I stand at the sick person's head, you may say with confidence that you can make him well again; then give him some of this herb, and he will recover. But if I stand at the sick person's feet, he is mine, and you must say that he is beyond help, and that no physician in the world could save him. But beware of using this herb against my will, or something very bad will happen to you."

It was not long before the young man had become the most famous physician in the whole world. People said of him, "He only needs to look at the sick in order to immediately know their condition, whether they will regain their health, or are doomed to die." And people came to him from far and wide, taking him to their sick, and giving him so much money that he soon became a wealthy man. Now it came to pass that the king became ill. The physician was summoned and was told to say if a recovery were possible. However, when he approached the bed, Death was standing at the sick man's feet, and so no herb on earth would be able to help him. "If I could only deceive death for once," thought the physician. "He will be angry, of course, but because I am his godson he will shut one eye. I will risk it." He therefore took hold of the sick man and laid him the other way around, so that Death was now standing at his head. Then he gave the king some of the herb, and he recovered and became healthy again. However, Death came to the physician, made a dark and angry face, threatened him with his finger, and said, "You have betrayed me. I will overlook it this time because you are my godson, but if you dare to do it again, it will cost you your neck, for I will take you yourself away with me."

Soon afterward the king's daughter became seriously ill. She was his only child, and he cried day and night until his eyes were going blind. Then he proclaimed that whosoever rescued her from death should become her husband and inherit the crown. When the physician came to the sick girl's bed he saw Death at her feet. He should have remembered his godfather's warning, but he was so infatuated by the princess's great beauty and the prospect of becoming her husband that he threw all thought to the winds. He did not see that Death was looking at him angrily, lifting his hand into the air, and threatening him with his withered fist. He lifted up the sick girl and placed her head where her feet had been. Then he gave her some of the herb, and her cheeks immediately turned red, and life stirred in her once again.

Death, seeing that he had been cheated out of his property for a second time, approached the physician with long strides and said, "You are finished. Now it is your turn." Then Death seized him so firmly with his ice-cold hand that he could not resist, and led him into an underground cavern. There the physician saw how thousands and thousands of candles were burning in endless rows, some large, others medium-sized, others small. Every instant some died out, and others were relit, so that the little flames seemed to be jumping about in constant change. "See," said Death, "these are the life-lights of mankind. The large ones belong to children, the medium-sized ones to married people in their best years, and the little ones to old people. However, even children and young people often have only a tiny candle." - "Show me my life-light," said the physician, thinking that it still would be very large. Death pointed to a little stump that was just threatening to go out, and said, "See, there it is." - "Oh, dear godfather," said the horrified physician, "light a new one for me. Do it as a favor to me, so that I can enjoy my life, and become king and the husband of the beautiful princess." - "I cannot," answered Death. "One must go out before a new one is lighted." - "Then set the old one onto a new one that will go on burning after the old one is finished," begged the physician. Death pretended that he was going to fulfill this wish and took hold of a large new candle, but, desiring revenge, he purposely made a mistake in relighting it, and the little piece fell down and went out. The physician immediately fell to the ground, and he too was now in the hands of Death.
貧しい男に12人の子供がいて、その子供たちをただ養うだけで夜も昼も働かなければなりませんでした。それで13人目の子供が生まれたとき、困ってどうしたらよいかわかりませんでしたが、広い大通りに走り出て、出会った最初の人に名付け親になってもらおうと決心しました。最初に出会ったのは神様で、もう男の心をいっぱいにしているものを知っていました。そして、男に、「貧しい人よ、お前を哀れに思う。私が子供の洗礼をしよう。そしてその子を引き受け、この世で幸せにしよう。」と言いました。男は、「お前は誰だ?」と言いました。「私は神だ。」「じゃあ、お前さんには名付け親になってもらいたくないね。」と男は言いました。「お前さんは金持ちに与え、貧乏人は腹を減らしたままにしておくからね。」こう男は話しました。というのは神様が富と貧しさをどんなに賢く割り当てているか知らなかったからです。それで男は神様から向きを変えて、さらに進んで行きました。

すると悪魔がやってきて、「何をさがしてるんだね?おれを子供の名付け親にすれば、その子にたっぷり金をやり、また世界のあらゆる楽しさも与えてやるぜ。」と言いました。男は、「お前は誰だ?」と尋ねました。「おれは悪魔だ。」「じゃあ、お前さんには名付け親になってもらいたくないね。」と男は言いました。「お前さんは人をだまし、道を踏み外させるからね。」

男がさらに進んで行くと、死神が干からびた脚で歩いて男に近づいて来て、「わしを名付け親にしなさい。」と言いました。男は、「お前は誰だ?」と尋ねました。「わしは死神じゃよ。わしはみんなを平等にする。」すると男は、「お前さんが適当な人だ。お前さんは区別しないで貧乏人と同じに金持ちも連れていくからね。お前さんに名付け親を頼むよ。」と言いました。死神は、「わしはお前の子供を金持ちで有名にしてやる。わしを友だちにしたら、なにも足りないものはないからのう。」と答えました。男は、「今度の日曜が洗礼です。時間どおりに来てください。」と言いました。死神は約束通り現れて、全く普通どおりに名付け親を務めました。

男の子が大きくなったとき、ある日名付け親が現れて、その子に一緒に来るようにと言いました。死神は男の子を森へ連れて行き、そこに生えている薬草を見せ、「さあ、名付け親の贈り物を受け取るのだ。お前を有名な医者にしてやる。お前が病人のところに呼ばれたら、わしはいつもお前に姿を見せよう。もし、わしが病人の枕もとに立っていれば、お前は病人を治すと自信をもって言ってよい。それで病人にこの薬草を飲ませれば病人は回復する。だが、わしが病人の足元に立っていれば、病人はわしのものだ。お前は、どんなに手を尽くしても無駄で、世界中の医者の誰もその病人を救えない、と言わねばならぬ。だが、わしの意に背いて薬草を使わないよう注意するのだぞ。そうしないとお前がひどい目にあうのだ。」と言いました。」

まもなく、若者は世界中で最も有名な医者になりました。「あの医者はただ病人を見るだけで、病人がよくなるか死ななければいけないのか、すぐに容体がわかるんだよな。」人々は若者のことをそう言って、人々ははるばるやってきたり、病人がいるときに若者を呼びにやったりして、若者にとてもたくさんお金を出したので、若者はまもなくお金持ちになりました。さて、たまたま王様が病気になり、この医者が呼ばれ、治る見込みがあるかどうか言わなければなりませんでした。しかし、若者がベッドに近寄ると、死神が病人の足元に立っていて、病人を治せる薬草が生えませんでした。(死神を一回だませたらなあ。)と医者は考えました。(そうしたら死神はきっと悪く思うよな。だけど僕は名付け子だから、大目に見てくれるさ。やってみよう。)それで医者は病人を抱え、反対に寝かせました。それで今度は死神が枕もとに立っていました。それから医者は王様に薬草を飲ませ、王様はよくなって、また健康になりました。

しかし、死神がとても黒く怒った顔で医者のところに来て、指差しして脅し、「お前はわしを裏切ったな。今回は許してやろう。お前はわしの名付け子だからな。だが次にやるなら、お前の首がかかってくるぞ。わしはお前をわしと一緒に連れていくからな。」と言いました。

それからまもなく、王様の娘が重い病気にかかりました。娘は王様のただ一人の子供で、王様は昼も夜も泣いたので目が見えなくなり始めました。そして、娘を死から救い出した者は誰でも、娘の夫にし、自分の後を継がせるとお触れを出させました。その医者が病気の娘のベッドに来てみると、死神が病人の足元にいるのが見えました。医者は名付け親にされた警告を思い出すべきでしたが、王様の娘があまりに美しく、その夫になる幸せにのぼせあがって、すっかり何も考えませんでした。死神が怒った目で自分をにらみつけ、空中に手を振り上げて、干からびたこぶしでおどしているのを、医者は見ませんでした。医者は病気の娘を抱きあげて、足があったところに頭をおきました。それから娘に薬草を与えたので、すぐに娘の頬に赤みがさし、体の中で命が息づき始めました。

死神は二回目に自分のものが悪用されたのを見ると、医者に大股で近づいていき、「お前はお終いだ。今お前に命運が尽きたぞ。」と言って、氷のように冷たい手で医者をがっしりとつかんだので、医者はてむかえませんでした。それから死神は地の下にあるほら穴に医者を連れて行きました。そこで医者は、数えきれないほどの列になって大きいのや中くらいのや小さいろうそくが何千何万と燃えているのを見ました。どの瞬間にも、消えていくのもあればまた燃え上がるものもあり、そのため炎が絶え間なく変化してあちことに跳ねるようにみえました。「わかるか?」と死神が言いました。「これらは人間の命の光だ。大きいものは子供のだ。中くらいのは一番いい時の結婚している人たちのだ。小さいのは年寄りのだが、子供たちや若い人たちでも同じように小さいろうそくしかないことがある。」「私の命の光をみせてください。」と医者は言い、自分のはまだとても高く燃えているだろうと思っていました。死神は、今にも消えそうになっている小さな燃え差しを指差し、「見ろ、そこにあるぞ。」と言いました。「ああ、名付け親さん。」とおびえた医者は言いました。「僕に新しいのをつけてください。僕を愛してくれるならそうしてください。僕が人生を楽しみ、王様になり、王様の美しい娘の夫になれるように。」「わしはできん。」と死神は答えました。「新しいのがつけられる前に一つ消えねばならないからな。」「それじゃ、古いのが終わった時すぐに新しいのが燃え続けるように、古いのに新しいのをおいてください。」と医者は必死にお願いしました。死神は医者の望みを叶えるかのように振る舞い、長い新しいろうそくを手にとりましたが、仕返しをしようとしていたので、それをなおすときわざと間違え、小さなろうそくが落ち、消えてしまいました。途端に医者は下に倒れ、そうして自分で死神の手に入っていきました。




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