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ESPAÑOL

La novia blanca y la novia negra

ENGLISH

The white bride and the black one


Una mujer estaba en el prado cortando hierba con su hija y su hijastra. Se les presentó Dios Nuestro Señor en figura de mendigo y les preguntó:
- ¿Cuál es el camino que lleva al pueblo?
- Si queréis saberlo - respondióle la madre -, buscadlo vos mismo.
Y la hija añadió:
- Si tenéis miedo a perderos, llevad un guía.
Pero la hijastra dijo:
- Pobre hombre, yo os acompañaré. Venid conmigo.
Enojóse Nuestro Señor con la madre y la hija y, al volverles la espalda, las maldijo, condenándolas a ser negras como la noche y feas como el pecado. En cambio, se mostró piadoso con la pobre hijastra y, al llegar con ella cerca del pueblo, la bendijo, diciéndole:
- Elige tres gracias y te las concederé.
Respondió la muchacha:
- Quisiera ser hermosa y pura como el sol - e inmediatamente quedó blanca y bella como la luz del día -. En segundo lugar quisiera tener un bolso de dinero que nunca se vaciase -. Y Nuestro Señor se lo dio, advirtiéndole:
- No te olvides de lo mejor.
Y respondió ella:
- Como tercera gracia pido la gloria del cielo para después de mi muerte.
Otorgósela también Nuestro Señor y se despidió de ella.
Cuando, al llegar a casa, la madre vio que ella y su hija eran negras como el carbón y horriblemente feas, mientras que la hijastra era blanca y hermosa, la perversidad de su corazón creció todavía, y ya no tuvo más afán que el de atormentar a la muchacha. Pero ésta tenía un hermano, llamado Reginer, a quien quería en extremo, y le contó lo sucedido. Entonces le dijo Reginer:
- Hermana mía, quiero hacerte un retrato para tenerte constantemente ante mi vista, pues te quiero tanto que quisiera estar viéndote en todo momento.
- Bien - le contestó ella -, pero te ruego que no muestres el retrato a nadie.
Pintó él a su hermana y colgó el cuadro en su habitación del palacio real, pues servía en él de cochero. Todos los días se paraba a contemplarlo, y daba gracias a Dios por haberle concedido tal hermana.
Sucedió que el Rey, a cuyo servicio estaba el mozo, había perdido a su esposa, la cual había sido tan hermosa que no se encontraba otra igual, y aquella pérdida tenía sumido al Monarca en honda tristeza. Los criados de palacio, al observar que el cochero se pasaba largos ratos absorto en la contemplación de su hermoso cuadro, llenos de envidia, lo delataron al Rey. Éste mandó que le trajesen el retrato, y al ver su parecido con su difunta esposa y que la superaba aún en belleza, se enamoró perdidamente de la muchacha representada en el cuadro. Llamó al cochero y le preguntó de quién era el retrato; el mozo le dijo que era su hermana. Entonces decidió el Rey que se casaría con ella y con ninguna otra, y, dando al cochero una carroza y caballos, así como magníficos vestidos de oro, lo envió en busca de su elegida.
Al llegar Reginer con la embajada, su hermana sintió una gran alegría, pero la negra hermanastra, celosa de su fortuna, irritóse en extremo y dijo a su madre:
- ¿De qué me sirven todas vuestras artes si no sois capaz de proporcionarme una suerte así?
- Tranquilízate - respondió la vieja -, ya cuidaré de tu felicidad.
Y con sus brujerías enturbió los ojos del cochero, hasta dejarlo medio ciego, mientras volvía medio sorda a su hijastra. Subieron luego al coche, primero la novia, con sus espléndidos vestidos reales, después la madrastra y su hija, mientras Reginer ocupaba el pescante. Al cabo de un rato de marcha, dijo el cochero:
"Tápate, hermanita; no te moje la lluvia
ni te cubra de polvo el viento,
para presentarte hermosa ante el Rey."
Preguntó la novia:
- ¿Qué dice mi querido hermano?
- ¡Ay! - replicó la vieja -, ha dicho que te quites el vestido dorado y lo des a tu hermana.
Quitóselo ella y lo pasó a la negra, la cual le entregó su ordinaria blusa gris. Y prosiguieron hasta que, poco tiempo después, volvió a decir el hermano:
"Tápate, hermanita;
no te moje la lluvia
ni te cubra de polvo el viento,
para presentarte hermosa ante el Rey."
Preguntó la novia:
- ¿Qué dice mi querido hermano?
- ¡Ay! - respondió la vieja -, ha dicho que te quites la dorada cofia y la des a tu hermana.
Quitóse ella la cofia y la pasó a la negra, quedándose ella destacada. Y siguieron adelante, hasta que, transcurrido otro rato, repitió el hermano:
"Tápate, hermanita;
no te moje la lluvia
ni te cubra de polvo el viento,
para presentarte hermosa ante el Rey."
Preguntó la novia:
- ¿Qué dice mi querido hermano?
- ¡Ay! - respondió la vieja -, ha dicho que te asomes a la ventanilla del coche. En aquel momento estaban cruzando un puente, tendido sobre un profundo río. Al levantarse la muchacha y asomarse por la ventana, las otras dos le dieron un empujón y la arrojaron al agua. Al hundirse en el lecho del río, levantóse de su superficie un pato blanco, como la nieve, que se puso a nadar, siguiendo la corriente.
El hermano no había visto nada de lo sucedido y siguió conduciendo el coche hasta llegar a palacio. Presentó al Rey la muchacha negra, confundiéndola con su hermana, pues estaba medio ciego y sólo veía el brillo del vestido. Al contemplar el Rey la extrema fealdad de su presunta novia, enojóse sobremanera y ordenó que echasen al cochero a un foso lleno de víboras y otras alimañas ponzoñosas. La vieja bruja, empero, supo, con sus malas artes, deslumbrar al Rey hasta el punto de que, no solamente las toleró a su lado, a ella y a su hija, sino que incluso acabó casándose con ésta.
Un atardecer en que la negra esposa estaba sentada sobre las rodillas del Rey, llegó, nadando, al fregadero de la cocina un pato blanco y dijo al pinche:
"Jovencito, enciende fuego,
para que pueda calentarme luego."
Hízolo así el mozo y encendió fuego en el hogar. El pato se acercó, sacudióse y se alisó las plumas con el pico; y, mientras así se acicalaba, preguntó:
"¿Qué hace mi hermano Reginer?."
Contestó el pinche:
"Yace en una cárcel tenebrosa, entre víboras de lengua ponzoñosa."
Siguió el ave preguntando:
"¿Qué hace la bruja negra en la casa?."
Y respondió el mozo:
"En brazos del Rey reposa;
del Rey, de quien es la esposa."
Exclamó el pato:
"¡Dios tenga piedad!,"
y, nadando, se alejó del fregadero.
Volvió al anochecer del siguiente día, repitiendo las mismas preguntas, y lo mismo el día tercero. El ayudante de cocina, incapaz de callarse por más tiempo, fue a dar cuenta al Rey de lo que sucedía. Éste quiso cerciorarse por sí mismo, y aquella noche bajó a la cocina. Cuando el pato asomó la cabeza por el fregadero, se la cortó en redondo de un sablazo, y en el mismo instante quedó transformado en la bellísima doncella del retrato que su hermano había pintado. Tuvo el Rey una inmensa alegría, y como la muchacha estaba completamente mojada, mandó traer ropas preciosas y vestirla con ellas. Entonces la joven le contó como había sido víctima de la falacia y la traición de los suyos, que habían acabado arrojándola al río; y lo primero que pidió fue la libertad de su hermano. Fue sacado éste del foso de las serpientes, y luego el Rey, dirigiéndose al aposento ocupado por la bruja, preguntó a ésta: "¿Qué merece quien haya hecho tal y tal cosa?," diciéndole de lo que se trataba. Estaba la vieja tan ofuscada que, sin caer en la cuenta, respondió:
- Merece que se le encierre desnuda en un barril erizado de clavos, se enganche un caballo al barril y se lance el animal al trote.
La sentencia se cumplió en ella y en su negra hija, mientras el Rey se desposaba con la blanca y bellísima muchacha, y recompensaba a su fiel hermano, colmándolo de riquezas y honores.
A woman was going about the unenclosed land with her daughter and her step-daughter cutting fodder, when the Lord came walking towards them in the form of a poor man, and asked, "Which is the way into the village?" - "If you want to know," said the mother, "seek it for yourself," and the daughter added, "If you are afraid you will not find it, take a guide with you." But the step-daughter said, "Poor man, I will take you there, come with me." Then God was angry with the mother and daughter, and turned his back on them, and wished that they should become as black as night and as ugly as sin. To the poor step-daughter, however, God was gracious, and went with her, and when they were near the village, he said a blessing over her, and spake, "Choose three things for thyself, and I will grant them to thee." Then said the maiden, "I should like to be as beautiful and fair as the sun," and instantly she was white and fair as day. "Then I should like to have a purse of money which would never grow empty." That the Lord gave her also, but he said, "Do not forget what is best of all." Said she, "For my third wish, I desire, after my death, to inhabit the eternal kingdom of Heaven." That also was granted unto her, and then the Lord left her. When the step-mother came home with her daughter, and they saw that they were both as black as coal and ugly, but that the step-daughter was white and beautiful, wickedness increased still more in their hearts, and they thought of nothing else but how they could do her an injury. The step-daughter, however, had a brother called Reginer, whom she loved much, and she told him all that had happened. Once on a time Reginer said to her, "Dear sister, I will take thy likeness, that I may continually see thee before mine eyes, for my love for thee is so great that I should like always to look at thee." Then she answered, "But, I pray thee, let no one see the picture." So he painted his sister and hung up the picture in his room; he, however, dwelt in the King's palace, for he was his coachman. Every day he went and stood before the picture, and thanked God for the happiness of having such a dear sister. Now it happened that the King whom he served, had just lost his wife, who had been so beautiful that no one could be found to compare with her, and on this account the King was in deep grief. The attendants about the court, however, remarked that the coachman stood daily before this beautiful picture, and they were jealous of him, so they informed the King. Then the latter ordered the picture to be brought to him, and when he saw that it was like his lost wife in every respect, except that it was still more beautiful, he fell mortally in love with it. He caused the coachman to be brought before him, and asked whom the portrait represented? The coachman said it was his sister, so the King resolved to take no one but her as his wife, and gave him a carriage and horses and splendid garments of cloth of gold, and sent him forth to fetch his chosen bride. When Reginer came on this errand, his sister was glad, but the black maiden was jealous of her good fortune, and grew angry above all measure, and said to her mother, "Of what use are all your arts to us now when you cannot procure such a piece of luck for me?" - "Be quiet," said the old woman, "I will soon divert it to you," and by her arts of witchcraft, she so troubled the eyes of the coachman that he was half-blind, and she stopped the ears of the white maiden so that she was half-deaf. Then they got into the carriage, first the bride in her noble royal apparel, then the step-mother with her daughter, and Reginer sat on the box to drive. When they had been on the way for some time the coachman cried,

"Cover thee well, my sister dear,
That the rain may not wet thee,
That the wind may not load thee with dust,
That thou may'st be fair and beautiful
When thou appearest before the King."
The bride asked, "What is my dear brother saying?" - "Ah," said the old woman, "he says that you ought to take off your golden dress and give it to your sister." Then she took it off, and put it on the black maiden, who gave her in exchange for it a shabby grey gown. They drove onwards, and a short time afterwards, the brother again cried,

"Cover thee well, my sister dear,
That the rain may not wet thee,
That the wind may not load thee with dust,
That thou may'st be fair and beautiful
When thou appearest before the King."
The bride asked, "What is my dear brother saying?" - "Ah," said the old woman, "he says that you ought to take off your golden hood and give it to your sister." So she took off the hood and put it on her sister, and sat with her own head uncovered. And they drove on farther. After a while, the brother once more cried,


"Cover thee well, my sister dear,
That the rain may not wet thee,
That the wind may not load thee with dust,
That thou may'st be fair and beautiful
When thou appearest before the King."
The bride asked, "What is my dear brother saying?" - "Ah," said the old woman, "he says you must look out of the carriage." They were, however, just on a bridge, which crossed deep water. When the bride stood up and leant forward out of the carriage, they both pushed her out, and she fell into the middle of the water. At the same moment that she sank, a snow-white duck arose out of the mirror-smooth water, and swam down the river. The brother had observed nothing of it, and drove the carriage on until they reached the court. Then he took the black maiden to the King as his sister, and thought she really was so, because his eyes were dim, and he saw the golden garments glittering. When the King saw the boundless ugliness of his intended bride, he was very angry, and ordered the coachman to be thrown into a pit which was full of adders and nests of snakes. The old witch, however, knew so well how to flatter the King and deceive his eyes by her arts, that he kept her and her daughter until she appeared quite endurable to him, and he really married her.

One evening when the black bride was sitting on the King's knee, a white duck came swimming up the gutter to the kitchen, and said to the kitchen-boy, "Boy, light a fire, that I may warm my feathers." The kitchen-boy did it, and lighted a fire on the hearth. Then came the duck and sat down by it, and shook herself and smoothed her feathers to rights with her bill. While she was thus sitting and enjoying herself, she asked, "What is my brother Reginer doing?" The scullery-boy replied, "He is imprisoned in the pit with adders and with snakes." Then she asked, "What is the black witch doing in the house?" The boy answered, "She is loved by the King and happy."

"May God have mercy on him," said the duck, and swam forth by the sink.

The next night she came again and put the same questions, and the third night also. Then the kitchen-boy could bear it no longer, and went to the King and discovered all to him. The King, however, wanted to see it for himself, and next evening went thither, and when the duck thrust her head in through the sink, he took his sword and cut through her neck, and suddenly she changed into a most beautiful maiden, exactly like the picture, which her brother had made of her. The King was full of joy, and as she stood there quite wet, he caused splendid apparel to be brought and had her clothed in it. Then she told how she had been betrayed by cunning and falsehood, and at last thrown down into the water, and her first request was that her brother should be brought forth from the pit of snakes, and when the King had fulfilled this request, he went into the chamber where the old witch was, and asked, What does she deserve who does this and that? and related what had happened. Then was she so blinded that she was aware of nothing and said, "She deserves to be stripped naked, and put into a barrel with nails, and that a horse should be harnessed to the barrel, and the horse sent all over the world." All of which was done to her, and to her black daughter. But the King married the white and beautiful bride, and rewarded her faithful brother, and made him a rich and distinguished man.