ENGLISH

Wise folks

日本語

賢い人々


One day a peasant took his good hazel-stick out of the corner and said to his wife, "Trina, I am going across country, and shall not return for three days. If during that time the cattle-dealer should happen to call and want to buy our three cows, you may strike a bargain at once, but not unless you can get two hundred thalers for them; nothing less, do you hear?" - "For heaven's sake just go in peace," answered the woman, "I will manage that." - "You, indeed," said the man. "You once fell on your head when you were a little child, and that affects you even now; but let me tell you this, if you do anything foolish, I will make your back black and blue, and not with paint, I assure you, but with the stick which I have in my hand, and the colouring shall last a whole year, you may rely on that." And having said that, the man went on his way.
Next morning the cattle-dealer came, and the woman had no need to say many words to him. When he had seen the cows and heard the price, he said, "I am quite willing to give that, honestly speaking, they are worth it. I will take the beasts away with me at once." He unfastened their chains and drove them out of the byre, but just as he was going out of the yard-door, the woman clutched him by the sleeve and said, "You must give me the two hundred thalers now, or I cannot let the cows go." - "True," answered the man, "but I have forgotten to buckle on my money-belt. Have no fear, however, you shall have security for my paying. I will take two cows with me and leave one, and then you will have a good pledge." The woman saw the force of this, and let the man go away with the cows, and thought to herself, "How pleased Hans will be when he finds how cleverly I have managed it!" The peasant came home on the third day as he had said he would, and at once inquired if the cows were sold? "Yes, indeed, dear Hans," answered the woman, "and as you said, for two hundred thalers. They are scarcely worth so much, but the man took them without making any objection." - "Where is the money?" asked the peasant. "Oh, I have not got the money," replied the woman; "he had happened to forget his money-belt, but he will soon bring it, and he left good security behind him." - "What kind of security?" asked the man. "One of the three cows, which he shall not have until he has paid for the other two. I have managed very cunningly, for I have kept the smallest, which eats the least." The man was enraged and lifted up his stick, and was just going to give her the beating he had promised her. Suddenly he let the stick fail and said, "You are the stupidest goose that ever waddled on God's earth, but I am sorry for you. I will go out into the highways and wait for three days to see if I find anyone who is still stupider than you. If I succeed in doing so, you shall go scot-free, but if I do not find him, you shall receive your well-deserved reward without any discount."

He went out into the great highways, sat down on a stone, and waited for what would happen. Then he saw a peasant's waggon coming towards him, and a woman was standing upright in the middle of it, instead of sitting on the bundle of straw which was lying beside her, or walking near the oxen and leading them. The man thought to himself, "That is certainly one of the kind I am in search of," and jumped up and ran backwards and forwards in front of the waggon like one who is not very wise. "What do you want, my friend?" said the woman to him; "I don't know you, where do you come from?" - "I have fallen down from heaven," replied the man, "and don't know how to get back again, couldn't you drive me up?" - "No," said the woman, "I don't know the way, but if you come from heaven you can surely tell me how my husband, who has been there these three years is. You must have seen him?" - "Oh, yes, I have seen him, but all men can't get on well. He keeps sheep, and the sheep give him a great deal to do. They run up the mountains and lose their way in the wilderness, and he has to run after them and drive them together again. His clothes are all torn to pieces too, and will soon fall off his body. There is no tailor there, for Saint Peter won't let any of them in, as you know by the story." - "Who would have thought it?" cried the woman, "I tell you what, I will fetch his Sunday coat which is still hanging at home in the cupboard, he can wear that and look respectable. You will be so kind as to take it with you." - "That won't do very well," answered the peasant; "people are not allowed to take clothes into Heaven, they are taken away from one at the gate." - "Then hark you," said the woman, "I sold my fine wheat yesterday and got a good lot of money for it, I will send that to him. If you hide the purse in your pocket, no one will know that you have it." - "If you can't manage it any other way," said the peasant, "I will do you that favor." - "Just sit still where you are," said she, "and I will drive home and fetch the purse, I shall soon be back again. I do not sit down on the bundle of straw, but stand up in the waggon, because it makes it lighter for the cattle." She drove her oxen away, and the peasant thought, "That woman has a perfect talent for folly, if she really brings the money, my wife may think herself fortunate, for she will get no beating." It was not long before she came in a great hurry with the money, and with her own hands put it in his pocket. Before she went away, she thanked him again a thousand times for his courtesy.

When the woman got home again, she found her son who had come in from the field. She told him what unlooked-for things had befallen her, and then added, "I am truly delighted at having found an opportunity of sending something to my poor husband. Who would ever have imagined that he could be suffering for want of anything up in heaven?" The son was full of astonishment. "Mother," said he, "it is not every day that a man comes from Heaven in this way, I will go out immediately, and see if he is still to be found; he must tell me what it is like up there, and how the work is done." He saddled the horse and rode off with all speed. He found the peasant who was sitting under a willow-tree, and was just going to count the money in the purse. "Have you seen the man who has fallen down from Heaven?" cried the youth to him. "Yes," answered the peasant, "he has set out on his way back there, and has gone up that hill, from whence it will be rather nearer; you could still catch him up, if you were to ride fast." - "Alas," said the youth, "I have been doing tiring work all day, and the ride here has completely worn me out; you know the man, be so kind as to get on my horse, and go and persuade him to come here." - "Aha!" thought the peasant, "here is another who has no wick in his lamp!" - "Why should I not do you this favor?" said he, and mounted the horse and rode off in a quick trot. The youth remained sitting there till night fell, but the peasant never came back. "The man from Heaven must certainly have been in a great hurry, and would not turn back," thought he, "and the peasant has no doubt given him the horse to take to my father." He went home and told his mother what had happened, and that he had sent his father the horse so that he might not have to be always running about. "Thou hast done well," answered she, "thy legs are younger than his, and thou canst go on foot."

When the peasant got home, he put the horse in the stable beside the cow which he had as a pledge, and then went to his wife and said, "Trina, as your luck would have it, I have found two who are still sillier fools than you; this time you escape without a beating, I will store it up for another occasion." Then he lighted his pipe, sat down in his grandfather's chair, and said, "It was a good stroke of business to get a sleek horse and a great purse full of money into the bargain, for two lean cows. If stupidity always brought in as much as that, I would be quite willing to hold it in honor." So thought the peasant, but you no doubt prefer the simple folks.
ある日、お百姓が隅からはしばみの棒をとり出しておかみさんに、「トリーナ、おれはよそへ行って、三日戻らないから。その間に牛買いが訪ねてきて、うちの三頭の雌牛を買いたがったらすぐに売っていいよ。だが、200ターラー貰えなくちゃだめだぞ。それより安いのはだめだ。わかったか?」と言いました。「安心して行って。」とおかみさんは答えました。「ちゃんとやるから。」「そうだなあ。」と亭主は言いました。「お前は小さい時、頭から落ちて今でも影響してるからな。だが言っておくぞ。もしお前が馬鹿なことをしたら、お前の背中を青黒くしてやるぞ。ペンキでじゃなく、今手に持っている棒でだ。その色はまるまる一年は落ちないだろうよ。本当だぞ。」そう言った後、亭主は出かけて行きました。

次の朝、牛買いがやってきて、おかみさんはあまり言わなくても済みました。牛買いは雌牛をみて値段を聞くと、「それだけ喜んで出しましょう。正直言ってこの牛にはそれだけの値打ちがありますからね。すぐに牛たちを連れていきます。」と言いました。それで牛の鎖をはずすと牛小屋から追いたてました。しかし、今にも牛買いが庭の入口から出て行こうとしたとき、おかみさんは牛買いの袖をつかみ、「今私に200ターラー渡して下さいよ。そうしないと牛はやれません。」と言いました。「確かにそうだな」と牛買いは答えました。「だがね、金を入れるベルトをしめるのを忘れてきちゃってね。だけど、心配しなさんな。金を払う担保をおいていきますから。牛を二頭連れて行って、一頭おいときましょう。そうすればりっぱな担保になるわけですからね。」おかみさんは担保の力をわかり、牛買いに牛を連れて行かせ、(私がうまくやったと知ったらハンスはどんなに喜ぶかしら)と心密かに思いました。

お百姓は言った通り三日目に帰ってきて、すぐに牛が売れたかと尋ねました。「ええ、売れたわ。あんた」とおかみさんは答えました。「あんたが言ったように200ターラーでね。あの牛はそんな値打ちはないんだけど、あの人は文句も言わないで連れて行ったわ。」「金はどこだ?」とお百姓は尋ねました。「あら、お金はもらってないのよ。」とおかみさんは答えました。「お金のベルトを忘れたんですって。だけどすぐ持ってくるわ。ちゃんとした担保を置いていったのよ。」「どんな担保だ?」と亭主は尋ねました。「三頭のうちの一頭よ。他の二頭に支払ってしまうまではもっていかないの。私はとても賢くやったのよ。一番小さい牛をとっておいたの、えさを少ししか食べないから。」亭主はかんかんに怒り、棒を振り上げ、約束したようにたっぷり打ちすえようとして、急に棒を下ろし、言いました。「お前ってやつはこの地上でよたよた歩くがちょう女のうちで一番間抜けだな。だが可哀そうなやつだな。おれは街道に出て、お前よりもっと間抜けなやつがみつかるか三日間待ってみるよ。おれがうまくやりおおせたら、お前を免除してやる。だが誰も見つからなかったら、割引をしないでお前にふさわしい報いを受けるのだぞ。」

お百姓は大きな街道に出て石の上に座り、どうなるか待っていました。すると、百姓の荷車がやってきました。一人の女がその真ん中にまっすぐつっ立っていて、そばにあるわらの束に座っているのでもなく、牛の近くを歩くでもなく、牛をひいてるわけでもありませんでした。お百姓は「あれは正しくおれが探しているようなやつだ。」と思い、パッと立ち上がり、頭がおかしい人のように荷車の前をあっちこっち走りました。「あんた、何の用?」とその女がお百姓に言いました。「あんた、見たことないね。どこから来たの?」「天国から落ちてきたんだ」とお百姓は答えました。「それでどう戻ったらいいかわからないんだ。天国まで乗せてくれないかい?」「だめよ」と女が言いました。「道がわからないもの。だけど、あんたが天国から来たんなら、うちの亭主がどうしてるかきっとわかるよね?ここ三年そこにいるんだけど。きっと亭主に会ったにちがいないよ。」

「そうだとも。会ったことがあるよ。だけど、みんながみんなうまくいってるとは限らないんだ。その人は羊の番をしているんだが、羊にはけっこうてこずっているね。羊が山を駆け上がり、荒れ野で迷子になったりして、それを追いかけてまた集めなくちゃいけないんだ。服もぼろぼろになって、体からじきに脱げ落ちちゃうんじゃないかな。天国には仕立て屋がいなくてね。聖ペテロが仕立て屋をいれないんだ。その話は知ってると思うがね。」「そんなこと知らなかった!」と女は叫びました。「ね、まだタンスにぶら下がっている礼服をとってくるよ。それを着たら、立派にみえるわ。あんた、持って行ってくれないかな?」「それはあまりよくないな。」とお百姓は答えました。「人は天国に服を持ちこめないんだ。門のところでとられてしまう。」「じゃあ、いい?」と女は言いました。「昨日いい小麦を売ったからお金がたくさん手に入ったのよ。それを亭主に送るわ。あんたがポケットに財布を隠しておけば、誰もあんたが持っているってわからないでしょ。」「それしか方法がないんなら」とお百姓は言いました。「やってあげてもいいがね。」「あんた、ここにいて。家へ帰って財布をとってすぐ戻ってくるから。私はわらの束の上に座らないで荷車に立つの。その方が牛には軽いからね。」

女は牛を追いたてて去って行きました。お百姓は、「あの女には馬鹿の立派な才能があるぞ。もし本当に金をもってきたら、うちのやつは運がいいと思うだろうよ。ぶたれなくて済むからな。」と考えました。間もなく女はお金を持って大急ぎでやってきて、自分の手でお百姓のポケットに入れました。立ち去る前に女はお百姓の親切に何度も繰り返しお礼を言いました。

女がまた家へ帰ると、畑から帰った息子がいました。母親は息子に、思いがけないことが起こったんだよ、と話し、「かわいそうなうちの人にものを送ることができてわたしゃ本当に嬉しいよ。あの人が天国でそんなに不自由して困ってるなんて誰が知るかねぇ」と付け加えました。息子はとても驚きました。「おかあさん」と息子は言いました。「こんな風に天国から人が来るなんて毎日あることじゃないよ。おれ、すぐ出かけて、まだその人が見つかるか見てこよう。天国はどんなふうなのか、どんなふうに仕事するのか聞いて来なくちゃ。」

息子は馬に鞍をつけ全速力で走って行きました。そして柳の木の下に座り、財布のお金を数えようとしていたお百姓を見つけました。「天国から落ちてきた男を見なかったかい?」と若者はお百姓に叫びました。「見たよ。」とお百姓は答えました。「その人なら天国へまた戻っていったぞ。あの山を登っていったんだが、ここから結構近いから、馬で急げばまだ追いつけると思うがな。」「ああ」と若者は言いました。「一日中仕事で疲れて、ここまで来るのでもうくたくたに疲れ切ったよ。あんたはその人を知ってるんだから、おれの馬に乗って行ってここに来てくれるように頼んでくれないかい?」(ははあ、脳みそのないやつがここにもいるわい)とお百姓は思いました。「いいとも、やってあげよう」とお百姓は言って、馬に乗り、速脚で走って行きました。若者はそこに座って暗くなるまで待っていましたが、お百姓は戻って来ませんでした。(天国から来た男はきっとすごく急いでいたにちがいない、それで戻って来ないんだ、お百姓はお父さんのところに届けるためにきっと馬を渡したんだ。)と若者は考えました。若者は家に帰り、母親にできごとを話し、父親が走り回らなくてもいいように馬を送った、と言いました。「お前はいいことをしたよ。」と母親は答えました。「お前の足はお父さんより若いんだから、歩けるものね。」

お百姓は家に帰ると、馬を馬小屋に入れ、担保にした牛のそばにつなぎました。それからおかみさんのところへ行き、「トリーナ、お前は運がよかったぞ。お前よりもっと間抜けな馬鹿を二人見つけたよ。今度はお前はぶたれなくて済んだ。次の時のためにとっておこう。」と言いました。それから、パイプに火をつけ、安楽椅子に腰を下ろし、言いました。「いい商売だったな。やせた二頭の牛とひきかえに、つやのある馬一頭と、おまけに金がたんまり入った財布とはな。もし間抜けがいつもそれだけいい商売になるなら、おれは喜んで間抜けに敬意をはらうんだがな。」そうお百姓は考えました。だけどあなたはきっとおバカさんの方が好きですよね。




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