ENGLISH

The three children of fortune

日本語

三人のしあわせもの


A father once called his three sons before him, and he gave to the first a cock, to the second a scythe, and to the third a cat. "I am already aged," said he, "my death is nigh, and I have wished to take thought for you before my end; money I have not, and what I now give you seems of little worth, but all depends on your making a sensible use of it. Only seek out a country where such things are still unknown, and your fortune is made."
After the father's death the eldest went away with his cock, but wherever he came the cock was already known; in the towns he saw him from a long distance, sitting upon the steeples and turning round with the wind, and in the villages he heard more than one crowing; no one would show any wonder at the creature, so that it did not look as if he would make his fortune by it.

At last, however, it happened that he came to an island where the people knew nothing about cocks, and did not even understand how to divide their time. They certainly knew when it was morning or evening, but at night, if they did not sleep through it, not one of them knew how to find out the time.

"Look!" said he, "what a proud creature! it has a ruby-red crown upon its head, and wears spurs like a knight; it calls you three times during the night, at fixed hours, and when it calls for the last time, the sun soon rises. But if it crows by broad daylight, then take notice, for there will certainly be a change of weather."

The people were well pleased; for a whole night they did not sleep, and listened with great delight as the cock at two, four, and six o'clock, loudly and clearly proclaimed the time. They asked if the creature were for sale, and how much he wanted for it? "About as much gold as an ass can carry," answered he. "A ridiculously small price for such a precious creature!" they cried unanimously, and willingly gave him what he had asked.

When he came home with his wealth his brothers were astonished, and the second said, "Well, I will go forth and see whether I cannot get rid of my scythe as profitably." But it did not look as if he would, for labourers met him everywhere, and they had scythes upon their shoulders as well as he.

At last, however, he chanced upon an island where the people knew nothing of scythes. When the corn was ripe there, they took cannon out to the fields and shot it down. Now this was rather an uncertain affair; many shot right over it, others hit the ears instead of the stems, and shot them away, whereby much was lost, and besides all this, it made a terrible noise. So the man set to work and mowed it down so quietly and quickly that the people opened their mouths with astonishment. They agreed to give him what he wanted for the scythe, and he received a horse laden with as much gold as it could carry.

And now the third brother wanted to take his cat to the right man. He fared just like the others; so long as he stayed on the mainland there was nothing to be done. Every place had cats, and there were so many of them that new-born kittens were generally drowned in the ponds.

At last he sailed over to an island, and it luckily happened that no cats had ever yet been seen there, and that the mice had got the upper hand so much that they danced upon the tables and benches whether the master were at home or not. The people complained bitterly of the plague; the King himself in his palace did not know how to secure himself against them; mice squeaked in every corner, and gnawed whatever they could lay hold of with their teeth. But now the cat began her chase, and soon cleared a couple of rooms, and the people begged the King to buy the wonderful beast for the country. The King willingly gave what was asked, which was a mule laden with gold, and the third brother came home with the greatest treasure of all.

The cat made herself merry with the mice in the royal palace, and killed so many that they could not be counted. At last she grew warm with the work and thirsty, so she stood still, lifted up her head and cried, "Mew. Mew!" When they heard this strange cry, the King and all his people were frightened, and in their terror ran all at once out of the palace. Then the King took counsel what was best to be done; at last it was determined to send a herald to the cat, and demand that she should leave the palace, or if not, she was to expect that force would be used against her. The councillors said, "Rather will we let ourselves be plagued with the mice, for to that misfortune we are accustomed, than give up our lives to such a monster as this." A noble youth, therefore, was sent to ask the cat "whether she would peaceably quit the castle?" But the cat, whose thirst had become still greater, merely answered, "Mew! Mew!" The youth understood her to say, "Most certainly not! most certainly not!" and took this answer to the King. "Then," said the councillors, "she shall yield to force." Cannon were brought out, and the palace was soon in flames. When the fire reached the room where the cat was sitting, she sprang safely out of the window; but the besiegers did not leave off until the whole palace was shot down to the ground.
あるとき、父親が三人の息子を自分の前に呼んで、長男におんどりを一羽、次男に草刈り鎌を一丁、三男に猫を一匹与えました。「わしはもう年だ」と父親は言いました。「死ぬ時期も近い。死ぬ前にお前たちにやっておきたいと思っていたんだ。金はない。今お前たちにやったものは大して価値がなさそうなものだ。だが、それもお前たちの使い方次第だと思うんだ。そういうものをまだ知らない国を探しだせ。そうすれば財産を作れる。」

父親が死んだあと、長男は雄鶏をかかえて出かけていきましたが、どこへ行っても雄鶏はもう知られていて、町では、尖塔の上にのって風で向きをかえているのがずっと遠くからでも見えました。村では一羽以上の雄鶏が鳴いているのが聞こえてきて、誰もこの生き物を驚いて見る人はいそうもありませんでした。それで雄鶏で財産をつくれそうもありませんでした。

ところが、とうとう、ある島に来ると、人々は雄鶏について何も知らなくて、時間の分け方すら判っていませんでした。いつが朝でいつが夕方かは確かに知っているのですが、夜に眠っている途中で目覚めると、それが何時かは誰もわからなかったのです。

「ほら、見て」と長男は言いました。「なんと誇らしい生き物だ。頭にルビーのように赤い冠をかぶって、騎士のように拍車をつけてるんだ。夜に三回、決まった時間にあなたに呼びかける。最後に呼びかけるときはまもなく日が昇る。だが、昼間に鳴いたら、注意しなくちゃ。そのときはきっと天気が変わるんだからな。」

人々はとても気に入って、一晩じゅう眠らずに、雄鶏が二時、四時、六時と大声ではっきりと時を告げるのを大喜びして聴きました。人々は、その動物は売り物かね?いくらで売ってくれるんだ?と尋ねました。「一頭のロバが運べる金貨くらいだね」と長男は答えました。みんなは口をそろえて「こんな貴重な動物には馬鹿げた安値だよ。」と叫んで、長男が求めた金額を喜んで渡しました。

長男が大金を持って家に帰ると、弟たちはびっくりしました。次男は「じゃあ、僕もでかけて、草刈り鎌を売りさばいて儲けられるかやってみよう」と言いました。しかし、思ったようにはいきそうもありませんでした。というのは、働く人にはどこでも会うし、みんな次男と同じように肩に草刈り鎌を担いでいました。

ところが、ついに、たまたまある島に行くと、人々は草刈り鎌を何も知りませんでした。そこでは麦が実ると、大砲を持ち出して畑へ行き、麦を撃ち落としていました。これでは不確かなことで、麦の上をとびこしてしまう弾も多いし、茎ではなく穂に当たって吹き飛ばしてたくさんの麦がなくなってしまうこともありました。それだけでなくものすごい音がしました。そこへ次男が仕事をやってみせて、とても静かに速く刈り取ったので人々は驚いて口あんぐりでした。人々は草刈り鎌を次男の言い値で買うことに決めて、次男は運べるだけ金貨を積んだ馬を一頭受け取りました。

今度は三男が猫をあつらえ向きの人にもっていこうとしました。三男も兄たちと同じで本土にいる間はどうしようもありませんでした。どこにも猫がたくさんいるし、あまり多すぎて生まれたばかりの子猫はたいてい池で溺れさせられていました。

しまいに島に渡ると、うまい具合にそこでは猫がこれまで見られませんでした。そうしてねずみがはばをきかせて、主人がいようといまいと、テーブルやベンチで踊りまわっていました。人々はねずみの害をひどく嘆いていましたが、宮殿にいる王様自身もねずみからどう身を守るか知らず、ねずみがどのすみにもいて鳴いているし、見つけた物は何でも歯でかんでしまうのでした。

しかし今度は猫が追い回し、まもなくニ、三の部屋にはねずみがいなくなりました。人々は王様に国のためにこの素晴らしい動物を買ってくれるようにとお願いしました。王様はすすんで求められたものを渡しました。それは金貨を積んだラバで、三男は三人のうちで一番の宝を手に入れて帰って来ました。

猫は王宮でねずみを相手に楽しく過ごし、数えきれないほどねずみを殺しました。とうとう仕事をして熱くなり喉が渇いて、たちどまると、頭を持ちあげて「ニャーニャー」と鳴きました。

この奇妙な鳴き声を聞くと、王様と宮廷の人たちはびっくりし、恐がって一斉に城から出て逃げていきました。それで王様はどうすればよいか、と会議にかけ、しまいに猫に使者を送ることに決め、使者は猫に城をでていってもらうように言って、もし出ていかなければ力づくで追い出されると思え、ということになりました。相談役たちは、「こんな怪物に命をとられるより、むしろねずみに苦しまれる方がましです。というのはねずみの災難には私たちは慣れていますから。」と言いました。そこで、地位の高い若者が、猫に、おとなしく城をあけわたすか尋ねるためつかわされました。しかし、猫は、前よりもっと喉が渇いていたので、ただ「ニャーニャー」と返事しただけでした。若者はそれを「絶対嫌だ、絶対嫌だ」と言ってるものと理解して、この返事を王様に伝えました。

「それでは」と相談役たちは言いました。「力づくで追い出すことだ」大砲が持ち出され、宮殿はじきに炎に包まれました。火が猫のいる部屋に届くと、猫は無事に窓から飛び出ました。しかし、包囲軍は宮殿がまるまる地に崩れ落ちるまで大砲を撃つのを止めませんでした。




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