The poor miller's boy and the cat



In a certain mill lived an old miller who had neither wife nor child, and three apprentices served under him. As they had been with him several years, he one day said to them, "I am old, and want to sit in the chimney-corner, go out, and whichsoever of you brings me the best horse home, to him will I give the mill, and in return for it he shall take care of me till my death." The third of the boys was, however, the drudge, who was looked on as foolish by the others; they begrudged the mill to him, and afterwards he would not have it. Then all three went out together, and when they came to the village, the two said to stupid Hans, "Thou mayst just as well stay here, as long as thou livest thou wilt never get a horse." Hans, however, went with them, and when it was night they came to a cave in which they lay down to sleep. The two sharp ones waited until Hans had fallen asleep, then they got up, and went away leaving him where he was. And they thought they had done a very clever thing, but it was certain to turn out ill for them. When the sun arose, and Hans woke up, he was lying in a deep cavern. He looked around on every side and exclaimed, "Oh, heavens, where am I?" Then he got up and clambered out of the cave, went into the forest, and thought, "Here I am quite alone and deserted, how shall I obtain a horse now?" Whilst he was thus walking full of thought, he met a small tabby-cat which said quite kindly, "Hans, where are you going?" - "Alas, thou canst not help me." - "I well know your desire," said the cat. "You wish to have a beautiful horse. Come with me, and be my faithful servant for seven years long, and then I will give you one more beautiful than any you have ever seen in your whole life." - "Well, this is a wonderful cat!" thought Hans, "but I am determined to see if she is telling the truth." So she took him with her into her enchanted castle, where there were nothing but cats who were her servants. They leapt nimbly upstairs and downstairs, and were merry and happy. In the evening when they sat down to dinner, three of them had to make music. One played the bassoon, the other the fiddle, and the third put the trumpet to his lips, and blew out his cheeks as much as he possibly could. When they had dined, the table was carried away, and the cat said, "Now, Hans, come and dance with me." - "No," said he, "I won't dance with a pussy cat. I have never done that yet." - "Then take him to bed," said she to the cats. So one of them lighted him to his bed-room, one pulled his shoes off, one his stockings, and at last one of them blew out the candle. Next morning they returned and helped him out of bed, one put his stockings on for him, one tied his garters, one brought his shoes, one washed him, and one dried his face with her tail. "That feels very soft!" said Hans. He, however, had to serve the cat, and chop some wood every day, and to do that, he had an axe of silver, and the wedge and saw were of silver and the mallet of copper. So he chopped the wood small; stayed there in the house and had good meat and drink, but never saw anyone but the tabby-cat and her servants. Once she said to him, "Go and mow my meadow, and dry the grass," and gave him a scythe of silver, and a whetstone of gold, but bade him deliver them up again carefully. So Hans went thither, and did what he was bidden, and when he had finished the work, he carried the scythe, whetstone, and hay to the house, and asked if it was not yet time for her to give him his reward. "No," said the cat, "you must first do something more for me of the same kind. There is timber of silver, carpenter's axe, square, and everything that is needful, all of silver, with these build me a small house." Then Hans built the small house, and said that he had now done everything, and still he had no horse. Nevertheless the seven years had gone by with him as if they were six months. The cat asked him if he would like to see her horses? "Yes," said Hans. Then she opened the door of the small house, and when she had opened it, there stood twelve horses, such horses, so bright and shining, that his heart rejoiced at the sight of them. And now she gave him to eat and drink, and said, "Go home, I will not give thee thy horse away with thee; but in three days' time I will follow thee and bring it." So Hans set out, and she showed him the way to the mill. She had, however, never once given him a new coat, and he had been obliged to keep on his dirty old smock-frock, which he had brought with him, and which during the seven years had everywhere become too small for him. When he reached home, the two other apprentices were there again as well, and each of them certainly had brought a horse with him, but one of them was a blind one, and the other lame. They asked Hans where his horse was. "It will follow me in three days' time." Then they laughed and said, "Indeed, stupid Hans, where wilt thou get a horse?" - "It will be a fine one!" Hans went into the parlour, but the miller said he should not sit down to table, for he was so ragged and torn, that they would all be ashamed of him if any one came in. So they gave him a mouthful of food outside, and at night, when they went to rest, the two others would not let him have a bed, and at last he was forced to creep into the goose-house, and lie down on a little hard straw. In the morning when he awoke, the three days had passed, and a coach came with six horses and they shone so bright that it was delightful to see them! and a servant brought a seventh as well, which was for the poor miller's boy. And a magnificent princess alighted from the coach and went into the mill, and this princess was the little tabby-cat whom poor Hans had served for seven years. She asked the miller where the miller's boy and drudge was? Then the miller said, "We cannot have him here in the mill, for he is so ragged; he is lying in the goose-house." Then the King's daughter said that they were to bring him immediately. So they brought him out, and he had to hold his little smock-frock together to cover himself. The servants unpacked splendid garments, and washed him and dressed him, and when that was done, no King could have looked more handsome. Then the maiden desired to see the horses which the other apprentices had brought home with them, and one of them was blind and the other lame. So she ordered the servant to bring the seventh horse, and when the miller saw it, he said that such a horse as that had never yet entered his yard. "And that is for the third miller's boy," said she. "Then he must have the mill," said the miller, but the King's daughter said that the horse was there, and that he was to keep his mill as well, and took her faithful Hans and set him in the coach, and drove away with him. They first drove to the little house which he had built with the silver tools, and behold it was a great castle, and everything inside it was of silver and gold; and then she married him, and he was rich, so rich that he had enough for all the rest of his life. After this, let no one ever say that anyone who is silly can never become a person of importance.
有一个上了年纪的磨房主,他没有妻子和孩子,只有三个学徒伺候他。 由于他们跟他已有多年了,有一天他便对他们说:"我老啦,只想坐在炉子后面取取暖啦。你们都出去吧,谁回来的时候给我带来匹好马,这磨房就归谁啦。可是有个条件,他得伺候我给我送终。"老三最笨,二个师兄觉得他太傻,根本就不配得到磨房,连他自己都没一点信心。 他们三个一块出去到了庄子上,二个师兄对傻汉斯说:"你最好等在这里,你一辈子也弄不到一匹马。"可是汉斯还是坚持要跟他们走。 到了晚上他们在一个山洞里过夜,二个聪明的师兄等汉斯睡着后起来离去了,把汉斯一人丢在了洞里。 他们认为这招很聪明,可事后却让他们后悔。 太阳升起来了,汉斯一觉醒来,发现他睡在一个深深的洞里。 他看了看四周,感叹道:"噢!老天爷,我这是在哪儿?"他站起来爬出洞,走进了森林。 "现在我被遗弃至此,孤单一人,如何弄到马匹呀?"正当满腹愁思,边走边想的时候,他碰见了一只小花猫。 小花猫客气地问他:"汉斯,你去哪儿?""哎,你帮不了我。""可我知道你在想什么,"猫说,"你不就是想要一匹骏马嘛,跟我来,为我当一名忠实的仆人,伺候我七年,我就给你一匹你一辈子也没见过的最好的骏马。""阿哈!这只猫真有意思,"汉斯想,"可我得去看看她说的是否是真的。"她带他到了她那被使了魔法的城堡,里面除了一些小猫--他们都是她的仆人,其它一无所有。 他们轻快地在楼上楼下跳来跳去,一片快乐无忧的景象。 晚上他们坐下吃晚饭,席前有三只小猫在演奏乐曲,一只拉大提琴,一只拉小提琴,第三只吹号,他鼓着腮帮子使劲地吹着。 吃完饭,桌子被撤去,花猫说:"现在,汉斯,你陪我跳舞吧。""不,"他说,"我可不跟母猫跳舞,我从来没这么干过。""那么,带他上床吧。"她向其它猫命令。 于是,一只猫点起灯引他去卧室,一只给他脱鞋,一只脱袜子,最后一只吹灭了蜡烛。 第二天早晨他们又来伺候他起床,一只给他穿袜子,一只系袜带,一只穿鞋,一只洗漱,一只用尾巴给他擦干脸,"这感觉好柔和。"汉斯说。 但是他还得去伺候花猫,然后每天去砍柴,砍柴工具是一把银斧头,还有银凿子和银锯子,锤子是铜的,他将柴劈得细细的。 他留在城堡里天天好吃好喝,天天和花猫以及她的仆人们相守,再也见不到其他任何人了。 一天她对他说:"去草地割点草,然后把草晒干。"说着给了他一把银镰刀和一块金磨石,但要他小心使用安全归还。 汉斯去草地,把活儿干完了,他拿着镰刀、磨石和干草回到了屋里,问是否该给他工钱了。 "不,"花猫拒绝说,"你必须先为我多做些事。这儿有银木,木匠的斧子、角铁和各种所需要的东西,全都是银子的。用这些东西你给我盖座小房子。"汉斯把小房子盖好了,他说他什么事都干了,可仍然没得到马。 其实七年过得很快,就如同六个月似的。 花猫问他是否愿意去看看她的马,"愿意。"汉斯说。 她于是便打开了小房子的门,里面关有十二匹马,匹匹毛亮体壮。 见到这些骏马,汉斯的心里乐开了花。 后来她请他吃饭,然后说:"回家吧,只是我现在不能给你马;三天后我会去找你,把马带去。"于是汉斯出发了,她告诉汉斯回磨房的路。 然而她连一件新衣服都没给他,他只好还穿着那件又脏又破的外套。 这外套是他穿来的,七年过去了,这衣服他穿着哪儿都显小。 他到家后,二个师兄也在那里,而且每人都带了一匹马,但一匹是瞎马,另一匹是瘸马。 他们问汉斯他的马呢,"三天后就会来的。"他们听后笑道:"真是的,傻汉斯你到哪儿去找马呀?是匹骏马吧!"汉斯进到厅里,可磨房主说不许他入座,因为他穿得又脏又破,如果别人进来的话他会使他们丢脸的。 所以他们给他一口饭,让他到外边吃。 晚上,大家休息了,可是二个师兄不让他上床,最后他只好钻进了鹅窝,在一堆干草上过了夜。 三天已经过去了,来了一辆六匹马拉的马车,这六匹马相当漂亮,看上一眼简直是无比的享受。 仆人还拉了第七匹马,这就是给那位贫穷的磨房小工的。 有一位高贵的公主从车里出来,走进磨房,这位公主就是那只小花猫,汉斯已经伺候她七年啦。 她问磨房主他的笨徒弟在哪儿? 磨房主答我们不能让他呆在这磨房里,他太脏啦;他在鹅窝里睡觉呢。 可是国王的女儿让他们立刻把他找来,于是他们把他带了出来。 他使劲扯着那件小外套想掩住自己的身体。 仆人们打开豪华的衣服,替他洗干净,装扮起来。 收拾完毕后,他变成了最英俊的国王啦。 这时姑娘想看看师兄们带来的马,发现一匹是瞎马,另一匹是瘸马。 她命令仆人把第七匹马牵来,磨房主见了这匹马说这样的马从没进过他的院子。 "这是给你的第三个徒弟的。"她说。 "那他就应该拥有这间磨房。"磨房主答道。 可是国王的女儿却说把马留在这儿,磨房还属于他,然后她拉着忠实的汉斯上了车,一同离开了那里。 他们先到了那座小房子,这房子是他用银工具盖的,可现在变成了一座大宫殿,里面的东西全是金和银的。 然后她嫁给了他,他从此很富有,一辈子不愁吃喝,也再没有人说傻瓜不能成为重要人物啦。

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