ENGLISH

The six swans

日本語

六羽の白鳥


Once on a time a king was hunting in a great wood, and he pursued a wild animal so eagerly that none of his people could follow him. When evening came he stood still, and looking round him he found that he had lost his way; and seeking a path, he found none. Then all at once he saw an old woman with a nodding head coming up to him; and it was a witch.

"My good woman," said he, "can you show me the way out of the wood?"

"Oh yes, my lord king," answered she, "certainly I can; but I must make a condition, and if you do not fulfil it, you will never get out of the wood again, but die there of hunger."

"What is the condition?" asked the king.

"I have a daughter," said the old woman, "who is as fair as any in the world, and if you will take her for your bride, and make her queen, I will show you the way out of the wood."

The king consented, because of the difficulty he was in, and the old woman led him into her little house, and there her daughter was sitting by the fire. She received the king just as if she had been expecting him, and though he saw that she was very beautiful, she did not please him, and he could not look at her without an inward shudder. Nevertheless, he took the maiden before him on his horse, and the old woman showed him the way, and soon he was in his royal castle again, where the wedding was held.

The king had been married before, and his first wife had left seven children, six boys and one girl, whom he loved better than all the world, and as he was afraid the step-mother might not behave well to them, and perhaps would do them some mischief, he took them to a lonely castle standing in the middle of a wood. There they remained hidden, for the road to it was so hard to find that the king himself could not have found it, had it not been for a clew of yarn, possessing wonderful properties, that a wise woman had given him; when he threw it down before him, it unrolled itself and showed him the way.

And the king went so often to see his dear children, that the queen was displeased at his absence; and she became curious and wanted to know what he went out into the wood for so often alone. She bribed his servants with much money, and they showed her the secret, and told her of the clew of yam, which alone could point out the way; then she gave herself no rest until she had found out where the king kept the clew, and then she made some little white silk shirts, and sewed a charm in each, as she had learned witchcraft of her mother. And once when the king had ridden, to the hunt, she took the little shirts and went into the wood, and the clew of yarn showed her the way. The children seeing some one in the distance, thought it was their dear father coming to see them, and came jumping for joy to meet him. Then the wicked queen threw over each one of the little shirts, and as soon as the shirts touched their bodies, they were changed into swans, and flew away through the wood. So the queen went home very pleased to think she had got rid of her stepchildren; but the maiden had not run out with her brothers, and so the queen knew nothing about her. The next day the king went to see his children, but he found nobody but his daughter.

"Where are thy brothers?" asked the king.

"Ah, dear father," answered she, "they are gone away and have left me behind," and then she told him how she had seen from her window her brothers in the guise of swans fly away through the wood, and she showed him the feathers which they had let fall in the courtyard, and which she had picked up. The king was grieved, but he never dreamt that it was the queen who had done this wicked deed, and as he feared lest the maiden also should be stolen away from him, he wished to take her away with him. But she was afraid of the step-mother, and begged the king to let her remain one more night in the castle in the wood.

Then she said to herself, "I must stay here no longer, but go and seek for my brothers." And when the night came, she fled away and went straight into the wood. She went on all that night and the next day, until she could go no longer for weariness. At last she saw a rude hut, and she went in and found a room with six little beds in it; she did not dare to lie down in one, but she crept under one and lay on the hard boards and wished for night. When it was near the time of sun-setting she heard a rustling sound, and saw six swans come flying in at the window. They alighted on the ground, and blew at one another until they had blown all their feathers off, and then they stripped off their swan-skin as if it had been a shirt. And the maiden looked at them and knew them for her brothers, and was very glad, and crept from under the bed. The brothers were not less glad when their sister appeared, but their joy did not last long.

"You must not stay here," said they to her; "this is a robbers' haunt, and if they were to come and find you here, they would kill you."

"And cannot you defend me?" asked the little sister.

"No," answered they, "for we can only get rid of our swan-skins and keep our human shape every evening for a quarter of an hour, but after that we must be changed again into swans." Their sister wept at hearing this, and said, "Can nothing be done to set you free?"

"Oh no," answered they, "the work would be too hard for you. For six whole years you would be obliged never to speak or laugh, and make during that time six little shirts out of aster-flowers. If you were to let fall a single word before the work was ended, all would be of no good." And just as the brothers had finished telling her this, the quarter of an hour came to an end, and they changed into swans and flew out of the window.

But the maiden made up her mind to set her brothers free, even though it should cost her her life. She left the hut, and going into the middle of the wood, she climbed a tree, and there passed the night. The next morning she set to work and gathered asters and began sewing them together: as for speaking, there was no one to speak to, and as for laughing, she had no mind to it; so she sat on and looked at nothing but her work. When she had been going on like this for a long time, it happened that the king of that country went a-hunting in the wood, and some of his huntsmen came up to the tree in which the maiden sat. They called out to her, saying, "Who art thou?" But she gave no answer. "Come down," cried they; "we will do thee no harm." But she only shook her head. And when they tormented her further with questions she threw down to them her gold necklace, hoping they would be content with that. But they would not leave off, so she threw down to them her girdle, and when that was no good, her garters, and one after another everything she had on and could possibly spare, until she had nothing left but her smock. But all was no good, the huntsmen would not be put off any longer, and they climbed the tree, carried the maiden off, and brought her to the king.

The king asked, "Who art thou? What wert thou doing in the tree?" But she answered nothing. He spoke to her in all the languages he knew, but she remained dumb: but, being very beautiful, the king inclined to her, and he felt a great love rise up in his heart towards her; and casting his mantle round her, he put her before him on his horse and brought her to his castle. Then he caused rich clothing to be put upon her, and her beauty shone as bright as the morning, but no word would she utter. He seated her by his side at table, and her modesty and gentle mien so pleased him, that he said, "This maiden I choose for wife, and no other in all the world," and accordingly after a few days they were married.

But the king had a wicked mother, who was displeased with the marriage, and spoke ill of the young queen. "Who knows where the maid can have come from?" said she, "and not able to speak a word! She is not worthy of a king!" After a year had passed, and the queen brought her first child into the world, the old woman carried it away, and marked the queen's mouth with blood as she lay sleeping. Then she went to the king and declared that his wife was an eater of human flesh. The king would not believe such a thing, and ordered that no one should do her any harm. And the queen went on quietly sewing the shirts and caring for nothing else. The next time that a fine boy was born, the wicked step-mother used the same deceit, but the king would give no credence to her words, for he said, "She is too tender and good to do any such thing, and if she were only not dumb, and could justify herself, then her innocence would be as clear as day." When for the third time the old woman stole away the new-born child and accused the queen, who was unable to say a word in her defence, the king could do no other but give her up to justice, and she was sentenced to suffer death by fire.

The day on which her sentence was to be carried out was the very last one of the sixth year of the years during which she had neither spoken nor laughed, to free her dear brothers from the evil spell. The six shirts were ready, all except one which wanted the left sleeve. And when she was led to the pile of wood, she carried the six shirts on her arm, and when she mounted the pile and the fire was about to be kindled, all at once she cried out aloud, for there were six swans coming flying through the air; and she saw that her deliverance was near, and her heart beat for joy.

The swans came close up to her with rushing wings, and stooped round her, so that she could throw the shirts over them; and when that had been done the swanskins fell off them, and her brothers stood before her in their own bodies quite safe and sound; but as one shirt wanted the left sleeve, so the youngest brother had a swan's wing instead of a left arm. They embraced and kissed each other, and the queen went up to the king, who looked on full of astonishment, and began to speak to him and to say, "Dearest husband, now I may dare to speak and tell you that I am innocent, and have been falsely accused," and she related to him the treachery of the step-mother, who had taken away the three children and hidden them. And she was reconciled to the king with great joy, and the wicked step-mother was bound to the stake on the pile of wood and burnt to ashes. And the king and queen lived many years with their six brothers in peace and joy.
昔、ある王様が大きな森で狩りをしていて、野生の動物をとても熱心に追いかけたので従者のだれもあとについていけませんでした。夜が近づいてきて止まり、周りを見回すと道に迷ったことがわかりました。出口を探しましたが、まるで見つかりませんでした。それからしきりに頭を縦に振っている老婆が自分の方に来るのに気付きました。しかし、その老婆は魔女でした。「おばあさん、森を抜ける道を教えてもらえませんか?」と王様は老婆に言いました。「いいですよ、王様。」と老婆は答えました。「もちろんいいですよ。だけど、1つ条件があります。もしそれを果たさなければ絶対森からでられなくて森の中で餓死するでしょう。」と老婆は答えました。

「それはどんな条件だね?」と王様は尋ねました。「私には娘が一人いる。世界のだれよりも美しく、あなたの妃になる価値は十分あります。もし娘を妃にするなら、森から出る道を教えましょう。」と老婆は言いました。心苦しいままに王様は承知しました。そして老婆は王様を小さな小屋に連れて行き、娘は暖炉のそばに座っていて、まるで予期していたように王様を迎えました。王様は娘がとても美しいとわかりましたが、それでも気に入りませんでした。そして心ひそかにぞっとしないでは見られませんでした。王様が娘を馬に乗せ、老婆が道を案内して王様は再び王宮に着きました、そして結婚式が祝われました。

王様はすでに一度結婚したことがあり、最初の妻との間に7人の子どもがいて、6人が男の子で1人が女の子でしたが、世界の何物にも代えがたいほど子供たちを愛していました。いま継母が子供たちをやさしく接してくれないのではないか、いじめさえするのではないか、とおそれたので、子供たちを森の真ん中にあるさびしい城に連れて行きました。その城はとても隠されていて、見つけるのが難しいので、もし賢い女の人が不思議な性質のある糸の玉をくれなかったら王様自身もみつけられなかったでしょう。前にその玉を投げると、玉はひとりでにほどけていき、王様に道を教えました。

しかしながら、王様が愛する子供たちのところにあまりに何度もでかけるので、お妃は王様の留守に気付き、森でたった一人でいるとき何をしているのか興味を持ち、知りたいと思いました。それで王様の家来にたくさんのお金をあげると、家来は秘密をもらし、さらにただひとつ道を教えることのできる玉のことも話しました。さあ今度は、お妃は王様が糸玉をどこにしまってあるのか知るまで気持が休まりませんでした。それで白い絹の小さなシャツを作り、母親から魔法の技を習っていたので、シャツの中に魔力を縫いこみました。そして王様が狩りに馬ででかけたとき、シャツを取り出し、森へはいりました。玉が道を教えたのです。

子供たちは、遠くから誰か近づいてくるので、愛する父が自分たちのところに来るところだと思い、大喜びで走って迎えに行きました。すると、お妃は子供たちの一人一人に小さなシャツを投げて、子供たちはシャツが体に触れるとすぐ白鳥に変えられ、森を越えて飛んでいってしまいました。お妃はすっかり喜んで家へ帰り、継子たちを取り除いたと思いました。しかし、女の子は兄たちと一緒に走り出ていなかったのです。そしてお妃は女の子のことは何も知りませんでした。

次の日、王様は子供たちを訪ねていきましたが、小さな女の子のほかは誰も見つかりませんでした。「兄たちはどこだ?」と王様は尋ねました。「ああ、お父様、私一人を残してみんな行っちゃったの」と答え、兄たちが白鳥の形になって森を越え飛び去ったのを小さな窓からみていたことを話し、兄たちが庭に落とし自分が拾った羽を王様に見せました。

王様は嘆き悲しみましたが、お妃がこのひどいことをしたとは思わず、女の子も自分から盗まれることを恐れたので、自分と一緒に連れて行こうと思いました。しかし、女の子は継母をおそれ、森の城にこの一晩だけおいてくれるよう王様にお願いしました。

可哀そうな娘は、もうここにはいられない、お兄さんたちを探しに行こう、と思いました。それで夜が来ると、逃げ出し、まっすぐ森へ入りました。一晩中歩き、次の日も止まらないで歩き、とうとう疲れてそれ以上進めなくなりました。すると森の小屋が目に入り中に入ると、6つの小さなベッドのある部屋を見つけました。しかしその一つに入ろうとはしないでベッドの下にもぐり、固い地面によこになり、そこで夜を過ごそうとしました。ところが、日が沈む直前にバサバサいう音が聞こえ、6羽の白鳥が窓から飛んで入ってきました。そして地面に降りるとお互いを吹いて、羽を全部吹き落し、白鳥も皮もシャツのように脱げてとれました。それで、娘が見て兄たちだとわかり、喜んでベッドの下から這い出てきました。兄たちは妹を見て、妹に負けないくらいよろこびましたが、喜びは短い間だけでした。「お前はここにいられないよ。ここは強盗たちの棲家なんだ。彼らが帰ってきてお前を見つけたら、お前を殺してしまうよ。」と兄たちは言いました。「だけど、お兄さんたちは私を守れないの?」と妹は尋ねました。「だめなんだ。夜の15分だけ白鳥の皮から抜け、その間人間の形でいられるだけなんだ。そのあとはもう一度また白鳥に変えられてしまうよ。」と兄たちは答えました。

妹は泣いて、「お兄さんたちを自由にできないの?」と言いました。「ああ、できない。条件がきつ過ぎるんだよ。6年間お前は話すことも笑うこともしてはいけない。そしてその間にハコベの6枚のシャツを私たちに縫ってくれなくてはいけないのだよ。そしてお前の唇から一言でももれればお前のやったことは失敗に終わるんだ。」と兄たちは答えました。そしてこれを言い終わると、15分が終わり、白鳥としてまた窓から飛んで出て行きました。

しかし、娘はたとえ命にかけても兄たちを自由にすると固く決意していました。小屋を出て、森の真ん中へ入り、木の上に座るとそこで夜を過ごしました。次の朝でかけてハコベを集めると縫い始めました。誰とも話をしないで、また笑う気にもならないでそこに座り、仕事以外何も見ませんでした。

そこでもう長い間過ごしていましたが、あるとき、その国の王様が森で狩りをし、猟師たちが娘の座っている木のところに来ました。そして娘を呼んで「君は誰だ?」と言いましたが、返事をしませんでした。「こっちへ降りて来い。お前に危害を加えないよ。」と猟師たちは言いましたが、娘はただ首を振るだけでした。猟師たちがさらに質問責めにするので、娘は首飾りを下に投げ、それで猟師たちを満足させるだろうと思いました。ところが、猟師たちは止めませんでした。それで、ベルトを下に投げ落としましたが、これも役に立たなかったので、靴下止めを投げ捨て、だんだんと、身につけていたもので無くてもすむものを何でも投げ落としたので、とうとう肌着以外何も残らなくなりました。

猟師たちはそれでも逸らされないで木に登り、娘を下に降ろし、王様の前に連れて行きました。王様は「お前は誰だ?木の上で何をしているのだ?」と尋ねましたが、答えませんでした。また、王様は知っているすべての言葉で質問をしましたが、娘は魚のように無言のままでした。娘がとても美しいので、王様は心を動かされ、娘を愛する気持ちでいっぱいになりました。それで、娘にマントをかけ、馬の前にのせ、お城に連れて行きました。それから、娘に立派な衣装を着させると、娘は美しさでまばゆい日光のように輝きましたが、娘から一言も言葉を引き出せませんでした。王様は、娘を食卓で隣に座らせると、娘のつつましい物腰や礼儀正しさがとても気に入りました。それで、「世界で他でもないこの人こそ、私が結婚したい人だ。」と言いました。何日かして、王様は娘と結婚しました。

ところが、王様には、この結婚に不満な意地悪な母親がいて、若いお妃の悪口を言って、「口のきけないものがどこから来たのか得体が知れないではないか。あれは王様にふさわしくないよ。」と言いました。1年たってお妃が最初の子供を産んだとき、おばあさんは、お妃が眠っているとき子供を取り去り、お妃の口に血を塗っておきました。それから王様のところへ行き、お妃のことを人食いだと非難しました。王様はそれを信じようとしないで、だれにもお妃に害を加えさせませんでした。お妃は、しかしながら、座ってひたすらシャツを縫い、他のことは何も気にかけませんでした。

その次に、お妃がまた美しい男の子を産むと、嘘つきの姑は同じ裏切りの手口を使いましたが、王様はどうしても母親の言葉を信じる気になれませんでした。「妃はとても信心深く善良な人だから、そんなことをするはずがない。もし口がきけて弁明できるなら、無実が明らかになるだろう。」と言いました。

しかし、姑が3回目に新しく生まれた子供を盗み、妃を責めたとき、妃は一言も弁解の言葉を言わないので、王様はお妃を裁判にかけるしか方法がありませんでした。そして、お妃は火あぶりの刑を言い渡されました。

刑が執行される日が来たとき、それはお妃が話しても笑ってもいけない6年の最後の日でした。そして愛する兄たちを魔法の力から解放したのです。6枚のシャツは準備ができて、6枚目の左袖だけがありませんでした。それで、杭に連れて行かれたとき、腕にシャツをかけていました。お妃が高い所に立って、火が今にもつけられそうになったとき、周りを見回すと、6羽の白鳥が自分の方に向かって空を飛んでくるのが見えました。それで、お妃は解放が近いことを知り、心は喜びでとびあがらんばかりでした。白鳥たちはお妃の方にすうっと飛んできて降りたので、シャツに触れ、白鳥の皮が落ち、兄たちはお妃の前に力強く美しく元の体になって立ちました。一番年下の兄だけは左腕がなく、その代わりに肩に白鳥の翼がついていました。兄妹は抱き合いキスし合いました。それからお妃は、とても驚いて見ていた王様のところへ行き、話し始め、「あなた、今は口を言ってもよくなりました。私は無実です。不当に訴えられたのです。」と言いました。それから3人の子供たちをとって隠した姑の裏切りのことを王様に話しました。 それで、王様が大喜びしたことに子供たちが連れてこられました。意地悪な姑は罰として杭につながれ、燃やされて灰になりました。しかし、王様とお妃と6人の兄たちは何年も幸福で平和に暮らしました。




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