ENGLISH

The four skilful brothers

日本語

腕利き四人兄弟


There was once a poor man who had four sons, and when they were grown up, he said to them, "My dear children, you must now go out into the world, for I have nothing to give you, so set out, and go to some distance and learn a trade, and see how you can make your way." So the four brothers took their sticks, bade their father farewell, and went through the town-gate together. When they had travelled about for some time, they came to a cross-way which branched off in four different directions. Then said the eldest, "Here we must separate, but on this day four years, we will meet each other again at this spot, and in the meantime we will seek our fortunes."
Then each of them went his way, and the eldest met a man who asked him where he was going, and what he was intending to do? "I want to learn a trade," he replied. Then the other said, "Come with me, and be a thief." - "No," he answered, "that is no longer regarded as a reputable trade, and the end of it is that one has to swing on the gallows." - "Oh," said the man, "you need not be afraid of the gallows; I will only teach you to get such things as no other man could ever lay hold of, and no one will ever detect you." So he allowed himself to be talked into it, and while with the man became an accomplished thief, and so dexterous that nothing was safe from him, if he once desired to have it. The second brother met a man who put the same question to him what he wanted to learn in the world. "I don't know yet," he replied. "Then come with me, and be an astronomer; there is nothing better than that, for nothing is hid from you." He liked the idea, and became such a skillful astronomer that when he had learnt everything, and was about to travel onwards, his master gave him a telescope and said to him, "With that you canst thou see whatsoever takes place either on earth or in heaven, and nothing can remain concealed from thee." A huntsman took the third brother into training, and gave him such excellent instruction in everything which related to huntsmanship, that he became an experienced hunter. When he went away, his master gave him a gun and said, "It will never fail you; whatsoever you aim at, you are certain to hit." The youngest brother also met a man who spoke to him, and inquired what his intentions were. "Would you not like to be a tailor?" said he. "Not that I know of," said the youth; "sitting doubled up from morning till night, driving the needle and the goose backwards and forwards, is not to my taste." - "Oh, but you are speaking in ignorance," answered the man; "with me you would learn a very different kind of tailoring, which is respectable and proper, and for the most part very honorable." So he let himself be persuaded, and went with the man, and learnt his art from the very beginning. When they parted, the man gave the youth a needle, and said, "With this you can sew together whatever is given you, whether it is as soft as an egg or as hard as steel; and it will all become one piece of stuff, so that no seam will be visible."

When the appointed four years were over, the four brothers arrived at the same time at the cross-roads, embraced and kissed each other, and returned home to their father. "So now," said he, quite delighted, "the wind has blown you back again to me." They told him of all that had happened to them, and that each had learnt his own trade. Now they were sitting just in front of the house under a large tree, and the father said, "I will put you all to the test, and see what you can do." Then he looked up and said to his second son, "Between two branches up at the top of this tree, there is a chaffinch's nest, tell me how many eggs there are in it?" The astronomer took his glass, looked up, and said, "There are five." Then the father said to the eldest, "Fetch the eggs down without disturbing the bird which is sitting hatching them." The skillful thief climbed up, and took the five eggs from beneath the bird, which never observed what he was doing, and remained quietly sitting where she was, and brought them down to his father. The father took them, and put one of them on each corner of the table, and the fifth in the middle, and said to the huntsman, "With one shot thou shalt shoot me the five eggs in two, through the middle." The huntsman aimed, and shot the eggs, all five as the father had desired, and that at one shot. He certainly must have had some of the powder for shooting round corners. "Now it's your turn," said the father to the fourth son; "you shall sew the eggs together again, and the young birds that are inside them as well, and you must do it so that they are not hurt by the shot." The tailor brought his needle, and sewed them as his father wished. When he had done this the thief had to climb up the tree again, and carry them to the nest, and put them back again under the bird without her being aware of it. The bird sat her full time, and after a few days the young ones crept out, and they had a red line round their necks where they had been sewn together by the tailor.

"Well," said the old man to his sons, "I begin to think you are worth more than breen clover; you have used your time well, and learnt something good. I can't say which of you deserves the most praise. That will be proved if you have but an early opportunity of using your talents." Not long after this, there was a great uproar in the country, for the King's daughter was carried off by a dragon. The King was full of trouble about it, both by day and night, and caused it to be proclaimed that whosoever brought her back should have her to wife. The four brothers said to each other, "This would be a fine opportunity for us to show what we can do!" and resolved to go forth together and liberate the King's daughter. "I will soon know where she is," said the astronomer, and looked through his telescope and said, "I see her already, she is far away from here on a rock in the sea, and the dragon is beside her watching her." Then he went to the King, and asked for a ship for himself and his brothers, and sailed with them over the sea until they came to the rock. There the King's daughter was sitting, and the dragon was lying asleep on her lap. The huntsman said, "I dare not fire, I should kill the beautiful maiden at the same time." - "Then I will try my art," said the thief, and he crept thither and stole her away from under the dragon, so quietly and dexterously, that the monster never remarked it, but went on snoring. Full of joy, they hurried off with her on board ship, and steered out into the open sea; but the dragon, who when he awoke had found no princess there, followed them, and came snorting angrily through the air. Just as he was circling above the ship, and about to descend on it, the huntsman shouldered his gun, and shot him to the heart. The monster fell down dead, but was so large and powerful that his fall shattered the whole ship. Fortunately, however, they laid hold of a couple of planks, and swam about the wide sea. Then again they were in great peril, but the tailor, who was not idle, took his wondrous needle, and with a few stitches sewed the planks together, and they seated themselves upon them, and collected together all the fragments of the vessel. Then he sewed these so skilfully together, that in a very short time the ship was once more seaworthy, and they could go home again in safety.

When the King once more saw his daughter, there were great rejoicings. He said to the four brothers, "One of you shall have her to wife, but which of you it is to be you must settle among yourselves." Then a warm contest arose among them, for each of them preferred his own claim. The astronomer said, "If I had not seen the princess, all your arts would have been useless, so she is mine." The thief said, "What would have been the use of your seeing, if I had not got her away from the dragon? so she is mine." The huntsman said, "You and the princess, and all of you, would have been torn to pieces by the dragon if my ball had not hit him, so she is mine." The tailor said, "And if I, by my art, had not sewn the ship together again, you would all of you have been miserably drowned, so she is mine." Then the King uttered this saying, "Each of you has an equal right, and as all of you cannot have the maiden, none of you shall have her, but I will give to each of you, as a reward, half a kingdom." The brothers were pleased with this decision, and said, "It is better thus than that we should be at variance with each other." Then each of them received half a kingdom, and they lived with their father in the greatest happiness as long as it pleased God.
昔、四人の息子がいる貧しい男がいました。息子たちが大人になると、男は兄弟に、「子供たちよ、お前たちはもう世の中に出ていかなくてはいけないな。というのもおれはお前たちにやるものが何もないんだ。だから、出発して、よそへ行き、手仕事を身につけ、自分の道を進めるかやってみろよ。」と言いました。それで四人の兄弟は杖を持ち、父親に別れを告げ、一緒に町の門を通って出ていきました。しばらく歩いた後で、4つの違った方向に分かれている交差路に来ました。すると、長男が、「ここでわれわれは別れなくてはならない。だが4年後の今日、またここで会うことにしよう。その間に運を試すんだ。」と言いました。

それから、それぞれが自分の道を進み、長男は一人の男に会いました。男は、どこに行くのか、何をするつもりか、と尋ねました。「仕事を身につけたいのです。」と長男は答えました。すると男は、「おれと一緒に来て、泥棒になれよ。」と言いました。「いや、それはりっぱな仕事とは見られないですよ。しまいには、首つり台で揺れなくてはなりません。」と長男は答えました。「なんだ、首つり台を怖がらなくていいさ。おれは、ほかの人がだれも手にできなくて、だれもおまえをかぎつけないようなものを手に入れることを教えるだけだよ。」と男は言いました。それで長男は説得されて、男と一緒にいる間に、優れた泥棒になり、とても器用だったので、いったん目をつけたら、若者から無事でいられるものはなくなりました。

次男は男に会い、「世の中で何を習いたいのかね?」と兄と同じ質問をうけました。「まだわかりません。」と次男は答えました。「では私と一緒にきて、星占い師にならないか。こんないいものは他にないぞ。何も君から隠せないんだから。」次男はその考えが気に入り、とても腕のいい星占い師になったので、修業を終えてまた旅を続けようとしたとき、親方は遠めがねをくれて、「その遠めがねは地上だろうと天上だろうと起こることは何でもみることができる。何もおまえから隠しおおせないのさ。」と言いました。

三男は、猟師のところで修業することになりました。猟師は、若者に猟に関係する何でもとても上手に教えたので、三男は熟練した猟師になりました。別れるときに親方は銃をくれて、「その銃には撃ちそこないがない。狙うものは必ずあたるんだ。」と言いました。

一番下の弟も、何になるつもりかと尋ねてきた男に会いました。「仕立て屋になりたくないかね?」と男は言いました。「ありませんよ。」と若者はいいました。「だって仕立て屋って、朝から晩まで体を折り曲げて座り、針を前と後ろにくぐらせるんですよね?そんなのはぼくの好みじゃありません。」「そうか、だけどお前はわかってないんだ。」と男は答えました。「おれんとこでは、全く違った仕立て屋のわざを習うんだよ。りっぱでちゃんとしてるし、たいていはとても名誉になるわざだよ。」それで若者は納得し、男と一緒に行き、そのわざを本当の最初から学びました。別れるとき男は若者に針を与え、「この針では、卵のように柔らかいものでも鋼鉄のように固いものでも、何だって縫い合わせることができ、縫ったものは全部一つのものになって縫い目が見えなくなるんだ。」と言いました。

決めておいた四年が終わると、四人の兄弟は交差路に同時に着き、抱き合い、キスし合って、父親のところに戻りました。「そうかあ」と父親はとても喜んで言いました。「お前たちがおれのところに舞い戻ってきたかあ。」兄弟は、どういうことがあったかを全部話し、そしてめいめいが自分の仕事を習い覚えたことを父親に話してきかせました。

さてみんなはちょうど家の前にある大きな木の下に座っていました。父親は、「お前たちみんなを試して、腕前を見てみよう。」と言いました。それから見上げて、二番目の息子に、「この木のてっぺんにある二本の枝の間にズアオアトリの巣がある。その中にいくつ卵があるか言ってみろ。」と言いました。星占い師は遠めがねをとり、見上げて、「5つあるよ。」と言いました。それから父親は長男に向かって、「卵を抱いて座っている鳥に気づかれないで卵を全部とってこい。」と言いました。腕のよい泥棒は登っていき、鳥の下から卵を5個とると、降りて父親のところに持っていました。鳥は長男がしていることに全く気づかないで、相変わらず静かに座っていました。

父親は5個の卵を持って、テーブルの四隅に卵を一つずつ、5つ目を真ん中におき、猟師に、「一発で五個の卵を真ん中から撃ってみせてくれ。」と言いました。猟師は狙いをさだめ、卵を父親が望んだとおりに5個、しかも一発で撃ちました。猟師はきっと弾が隅を回ってこれる粉を使ったにちがいありません。「さあ、今度はお前の番だ。」と父親は4番目の息子に言いました。「お前は元通り卵を縫い合わせろ。中に入っているひなもだ。撃たれて怪我をしていないようにやらねばならないぞ。」仕立て屋は針を持って来て、父親の望み通り縫いました。これが終わると、父親に言われて、泥棒はまた木に登って巣まで卵を持って行き、鳥に気づかれないで元通り置いてきました。鳥は卵を抱き続け、二、三日後、ひなが巣からよちよち出てきましたが、仕立て屋に縫い合わされた首に赤い線がありました。

「なるほど」と父親は息子たちに言いました。「お前たちは本当にほめちぎって然るべきだな。お前たちは時間を無駄にしないで、いいことを身につけたよ。誰を一番ほめたらいいのかわからないくらいだ。じきにお前たちのわざを示す時が来さえすれば、わかってくるさ。」このあとまもなく、国で大きな騒動が持ち上がりました。というのは王様の娘が竜にさらわれたのです。王様は日夜それを苦にして、娘を取り戻した者には娘を妻に与える、というお触れを出させました。

四人の兄弟はお互いに、「これはおれたちの腕をみせるうってつけの機会だぞ。」と言い合い、一緒にでかけ、王様の娘を救う決心をしました。「王女様がどこにいるかすぐにわかるよ。」と星占い師は言って、遠めがねで見て、「もう見えたぞ。ここからずっと遠い海の岩の上だ。竜がそばで王女様を見張っている。」と言いました。

それから星占い師は王様のところに行き、自分たち兄弟に船を用意してくれるよう頼み、一緒に海を渡って、とうとうその岩に着きました。そこに王様の娘は座って、竜は娘の膝枕で眠っていました。猟師は、「おれは撃てないよ。美しい乙女も一緒に殺してしまうだからな。」と言いました。「それじゃおれのわざを試そう。」と泥棒が言って、そこへ忍び入り、竜の下から王女をさらってきましたが、音もたてずとてもうまかったので、怪物は気づかないでいびきをかき続けました。

大喜びで、王女と一緒に急いで船に乗り、外海に出ていきましたが、竜が、目が覚めて王女のいないことに気づき、追いかけてきて、怒って鼻息も荒くやってきました。竜がちょうど船の上にまわってきて、船の上に降りようとしたとき、猟師は狙いをさだめ、竜の心臓を撃ちました。怪物は死んで落ちてきましたが、とても大きく力があったので、落ちたとき船を粉みじんに壊してしまいました。しかし、幸いにも、みんな二、三枚の板切れをつかみ、広い海に浮かんでいました。

それでまたしても大きな危機になりました。しかし、仕立て屋は、ぼやっとしていないで、不思議な針をとりだし、二、三針で板切れを縫い合わせ、みんなはそれに座り、船の破片を一緒に集めました。それから仕立て屋が集めたものをとてもうまく縫い合わせたので、まもなく船はもう一度航海できるようになり、みんな無事に帰ることができました。

それで王様はもう一度娘に会え、とても喜びました。王様は四人の兄弟に、「お前たちのうちの一人に娘を妻にやろう。だが、誰にするかはお前たちで決めなければならない。」と言いました。すると、四人の間で激しい言い争いが起こりました。というのは、めいめいが自分の言い分の方を好んだからです。星占い師は言いました。「おれが王女様を見なかったら、お前たちみんなのわざは役に立たなかったろうよ。だから、姫はおれのものだ。」泥棒は言いました。「お前が見たのが何の役に立っただろうな、もしおれが竜から姫をとってこなかったらな。だから、姫はおれのものだ。」猟師は言いました。「お前たちと王女様、みんなは、おれの弾が竜にあたらなかったら、竜に八つ裂きにされていたぜ。だから、姫はおれのものだよ。」仕立て屋は言いました。「それでもしおれが、おれのわざで、船を元通り縫い合わせなかったら、お前たちはみんな、みじめに溺れ死ぬところだったんだ。だから、姫はおれのものだ。」

それで、王様が意見を言いました。「お前たちはそれぞれ同じ権利を持っているし、お前たちみんなが娘を妻にできるわけではないのだから、誰にもやらないことにして、ほうびとしては、国の半分をお前たちにやろう。」兄弟はこの決定に喜び、「おれたちが仲違いするよりこっちの方がいいよ。」と言いました。それから、兄弟は国の半分を受け取り、神様に召されるまで父親と一緒にとても幸せに暮らしました。




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