FRANÇAIS

Le vieux Sultan

ENGLISH

Old Sultan


Un paysan possédait un chien fidèle, nommé Sultan. Or le pauvre Sultan était devenu si vieux qu'il avait perdu toutes ses dents, si bien qu'il lui était désormais impossible de mordre. Il arriva qu'un jour, comme ils étaient assis devant leur porte, le paysan dit à sa femme:
- Demain un coup de fusil me débarrassera de Sultan, car la pauvre bête n'est plus capable de me rendre le plus petit service.
La paysanne eut pitié du malheureux animal:
- Il me semble qu'après nous avoir été utile pendant tant d'années et s'être conduit toujours en bon chien fidèle, il a bien mérité pour ses vieux jours de trouver chez nous le pain des invalides.
- Je ne te comprends pas, répliqua le paysan, et tu calcules bien mal: ne sais-tu donc pas qu'il n'a plus de dents dans la gueule, et que, par conséquent, il a cessé d'être pour les voleurs un objet de crainte? Il est donc temps de nous en défaire. Il me semble que s'il nous a rendu de bons services, il a, en revanche, été toujours bien nourri. Partant quitte.
Le pauvre animal, qui se chauffait au soleil à peu de distance de là, entendit cette conversation qui le touchait de si près, et je vous laisse à penser s'il en fut effrayé. Le lendemain devait donc être son dernier jour! Il avait un ami dévoué, sa seigneurie le loup, auquel il s'empressa d'aller, dès la nuit suivante, raconter le triste sort dont il était menacé.
- Écoute, compère, lui dit le loup, ne te désespère pas ainsi; je te promets de te tirer d'embarras. Il me vient une excellente idée. Demain matin à la première heure, ton maître et sa femme iront retourner leur foin; comme ils n'ont personne au logis, ils emmèneront avec eux leur petit garçon. J'ai remarqué que chaque fois qu'ils vont au champ, ils déposent l'enfant à l'ombre derrière une haie. Voici ce que tu auras à faire. Tu te coucheras dans l'herbe auprès du petit, comme pour veiller sur lui. Quand ils seront occupés à leur foin, je sortirai du bois et je viendrai à pas de loup dérober l'enfant; alors tu t'élanceras de toute ta vitesse à ma poursuite, comme pour m'arracher ma proie; et, avant que tu aies trop longtemps couru pour un chien de ton âge, je lâcherai mon butin, que tu rapporteras aux parents effrayés. Ils verront en toi le sauveur de leur enfant, et la reconnaissance leur défendra de te maltraiter; à partir de ce moment, au contraire, tu entreras en faveur, et désormais tu ne manqueras plus de rien.
L'invention plut au chien, et tout se passa suivant ce qui avait été convenu. Qu'on juge des cris d'effroi que poussa le pauvre père quand il vit le loup s'enfuir avec son petit garçon dans la gueule! qu'on juge aussi de sa joie quand le fidèle Sultan lui rapporta son fils!
Il caressa son dos pelé, il baisa son front galeux, et dans l'effusion de sa reconnaissance, il s'écria:
- Malheur à qui s'aviserait jamais d'arracher le plus petit poil à mon bon Sultan! J'entends que, tant qu'il vivra, il trouve chez moi le pain des invalides, qu'il a si bravement gagné! Puis, s'adressant à sa femme:
- Grétel, dit-il, cours bien vite à la maison, et prépare à ce fidèle animal une excellente pâtée; puisqu'il n'a plus de dents, il faut lui épargner les croûtes; aie soin d'ôter du lit mon oreiller; j'entends qu'à l'avenir mon bon Sultan n'aie plus d'autre couchette.
Avec un tel régime, comment s'étonner que Sultan soit devenu le doyen des chiens.
La morale de ce conte est que même un loup peut parfois donner un conseil utile. Je n'engage pourtant pas tous les chiens à aller demander au loup un conseil, surtout s'ils n'ont plus de dents.
A farmer once had a faithful dog called Sultan, who had grown old, and lost all his teeth, so that he could no longer hold anything fast. One day the farmer was standing with his wife before the house-door, and said, "To-morrow I intend to shoot Old Sultan, he is no longer of any use."
His wife, who felt pity for the faithful beast, answered, "He has served us so long, and been so faithful, that we might well give him his keep."

"Eh! what?" said the man. "You are not very sharp. He has not a tooth left in his mouth, and not a thief is afraid of him; now he may be off. If he has served us, he has had good feeding for it."

The poor dog, who was lying stretched out in the sun not far off, had heard everything, and was sorry that the morrow was to be his last day. He had a good friend, the wolf, and he crept out in the evening into the forest to him, and complained of the fate that awaited him. "Hark ye, gossip," said the wolf, "be of good cheer, I will help you out of your trouble. I have thought of something. To-morrow, early in the morning, your master is going with his wife to make hay, and they will take their little child with them, for no one will be left behind in the house. They are wont, during work-time, to lay the child under the hedge in the shade; you lay yourself there too, just as if you wished to guard it. Then I will come out of the wood, and carry off the child. You must rush swiftly after me, as if you would seize it again from me. I will let it fall, and you will take it back to its parents, who will think that you have saved it, and will be far too grateful to do you any harm; on the contrary, you will be in high favor, and they will never let you want for anything again."

The plan pleased the dog, and it was carried out just as it was arranged. The father screamed when he saw the Wolf running across the field with his child, but when Old Sultan brought it back, then he was full of joy, and stroked him and said, "Not a hair of yours shall be hurt, you shall eat my bread free as long as you live." And to his wife he said, "Go home at once and make Old Sultan some bread-sop that he will not have to bite, and bring the pillow out of my bed, I will give him that to lie upon."

Henceforth Old Sultan was as well off as he could wish to be.

Soon afterwards the wolf visited him, and was pleased that everything had succeeded so well. "But, gossip," said he, "you will just wink an eye if when I have a chance, I carry off one of your master's fat sheep." - "Do not reckon upon that," answered the dog; "I will remain true to my master; I cannot agree to that." The wolf, who thought that this could not be spoken in earnest, came creeping about in the night and was going to take away the sheep. But the farmer, to whom the faithful Sultan had told the wolf's plan, caught him and dressed his hide soundly with the flail. The wolf had to pack off, but he cried out to the dog, "Wait a bit, you scoundrel, you shall pay for this."

The next morning the wolf sent the boar to challenge the dog to come out into the forest so that they might settle the affair. Old Sultan could find no one to stand by him but a cat with only three legs, and as they went out together the poor cat limped along, and at the same time stretched out her tail into the air with pain.

The wolf and his friend were already on the spot appointed, but when they saw their enemy coming they thought that he was bringing a sabre with him, for they mistook the outstretched tail of the cat for one. And when the poor beast hopped on its three legs, they could only think every time that it was picking up a stone to throw at them. So they were both afraid; the wild boar crept into the under-wood and the wolf jumped up a tree.

The dog and the cat, when they came up, wondered that there was no one to be seen. The wild boar, however, had not been able to hide himself altogether; and one of his ears was still to be seen. Whilst the cat was looking carefully about, the boar moved his ear; the cat, who thought it was a mouse moving there, jumped upon it and bit it hard. The boar made a fearful noise and ran away, crying out, "The guilty one is up in the tree." The dog and cat looked up and saw the wolf, who was ashamed of having shown himself so timid, and made friends with the dog.




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