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ITALIANO

La sposa bianca e quella nera

ENGLISH

The white bride and the black one


Un giorno una donna andò nei campi a tagliare il fieno con la figlia e la figliastra. Andò loro incontro il buon Dio, con l'aspetto di un mendicante, e domandò: -Dove passa la strada che conduce al villaggio?-. -Cercatevela da solo!- rispose la madre, e la figlia soggiunse: -Se avete paura di non trovarla, prendetevi una guida!-. Ma la figliastra disse: -Ti condurrò io, pover'uomo: vieni con me-. Allora il buon Dio si adirò con la madre e la figlia, volse loro le spalle e le maledì, che diventassero nere come la notte, e brutte come il peccato. Con la povera figliastra, invece, fu misericordioso, la seguì, e quando furono vicini al villaggio, la benedì e disse: -Scegli tre cose e te le concederò-. Allora la fanciulla disse: -Desidero diventare bella come il sole-. E subito fu bianca e bella come il giorno. -Poi vorrei un borsellino che non si vuoti mai.- Il buon Dio le diede anche il borsellino, ma disse: -Non dimenticare il meglio, figlia mia!-. Ella disse: -Come terza cosa, desidererei andare in Paradiso dopo la mia morte-. Le fu promesso anche questo, e il buon Dio si allontanò. Quando la matrigna tornò a casa con la figlia e vide che erano diventate tutt'e due brutte e nere come il carbone, mentre la figliastra era bianca e bella, la cattiveria si inasprì nel suo cuore, e non pensava ad altro che a farle del male. Ma la figliastra aveva un fratello di nome Reginaldo; ella lo amava molto e gli raccontò tutto quanto le era successo. Un giorno Reginaldo le disse: -Cara sorella, voglio farti un ritratto, per averti sempre davanti agli occhi; perché‚ il mio amore per te è così grande, che vorrei sempre guardarti-. La fanciulla rispose: -Purché‚ tu non lo faccia vedere a nessuno-. Egli fece dunque il ritratto alla sorella, e lo appese in camera sua, nel castello del re, dov'era cocchiere. E tutti i giorni si fermava davanti al ritratto, e ringraziava Dio per la fortuna della sua cara sorella. Il re presso il quale egli serviva aveva da poco perduto la moglie; ed ella era stata così bella che non si poteva trovare un'altra che lo fosse altrettanto, e il re era molto afflitto. Nel frattempo i servitori di corte avevano notato che il cocchiere si fermava ogni giorno davanti al bel ritratto, ne furono invidiosi e lo riferirono al re. Questi si fece portare il ritratto e vide che assomigliava in tutto alla moglie morta, anzi era ancora più bello, sicché‚ se ne innamorò perdutamente. Domandò al cocchiere chi fosse, e quando questi disse che si trattava di sua sorella, il re decise di non volere altra sposa all'infuori di lei. Diede al giovane carrozza, cavalli e splendide vesti d'oro, e lo mandò a prendere la sua sposa. Quando Reginaldo giunse con il messaggio, la sorella ne fu felice; la ragazza nera, invece, andò su tutte le furie per la gelosia e disse alla madre: -A che servono tutte le vostre arti, se non potete procurarmi una simile fortuna!-. Allora la vecchia disse: -Sta' tranquilla che te la procurerò-. E con le sue stregonerie annebbiò gli occhi al cocchiere, che divenne mezzo cieco, e tappò le orecchie alla fanciulla bianca, che divenne quasi sorda. Poi salirono in carrozza, prima la sposa nelle splendide vesti regali, poi la matrigna con sua figlia; e Reginaldo sedeva a cassetta per guidare. Quand'ebbero percorso un tratto di strada, il cocchiere gridò:-Dolce e cara sorellina, chiudi bene la mantellina, la pioggia non deve bagnarti, n‚ il vento impolverarti, quando il re t'accoglierà, tutta bella ti vedrà!-La sposa domandò: -Cosa dice il mio caro fratello?-. -Ah- rispose la vecchia -ha detto che dovresti toglierti la veste d'oro e darla a tua sorella.- Allora ella se la tolse e la porse alla ragazza nera, che le diede in cambio una brutta palandrana grigia. Proseguirono e, dopo un po', il fratello tornò a gridare-Dolce e cara sorellina, chiudi bene la mantellina, la pioggia non deve bagnarti, n‚ il vento impolverarti, quando il re t'accoglierà, tutta bella ti vedrà!-La sposa domandò: -Cosa dice il mio caro fratello?- -Ah- rispose la vecchia -dice che dovresti toglierti la cuffia d'oro e darla a tua sorella.- Ed ella si tolse la cuffia, la diede alla ragazza nera e restò a capo scoperto. Proseguirono e, dopo un po', il fratello tornò a gridare:-Dolce e cara sorellina, chiudi bene la mantellina, la pioggia non deve bagnarti, n‚ il vento impolverarti, quando il re t'accoglierà, tutta bella ti vedrà!-La sposa domandò: -Cosa dice il mio caro fratello?-. -Ah- rispose la vecchia -ti ha detto di guardare fuori dalla carrozza.- In quel momento stavano passando sopra un fiume profondo, e come la sposa si alzò per guardare fuori, le altre due la spinsero, sicché‚ ella precipitò in acqua. Andò a fondo e, nello stesso istante, venne a galla un'anitra bianca come la neve, che nuotò giù per il fiume. Il fratello non si era accorto di nulla, e continuò a guidare finché‚ giunsero a corte. Allora portò al re la fanciulla nera, come se fosse stata sua sorella, e pensava che lo fosse davvero, poiché‚ aveva gli occhi annebbiati, ma vedeva luccicare le vesti d'oro. Quando scorse la spaventosa bruttezza di colei che credeva la sua sposa, il re andò su tutte le furie e ordinò che il cocchiere fosse gettato in una fossa piena di vipere e serpenti. Ma la vecchia strega seppe raggirare e abbagliare così bene il re con le sue arti, che egli tenne con s‚ la madre e la figlia, finì col trovare costei tollerabile e la sposò davvero. Una sera, che la sposa nera sedeva sulle ginocchia del re un'anitra bianca arrivò in cucina, nuotando per lo scolo dell'acquaio, e disse allo sguattero:-Presto, accendi il fuoco. Vicino ad esso mi voglio asciugare e ben bene riscaldare!-Lo sguattero ubbidì e le accese il fuoco nel camino; allora l'anitra si avvicinò e andò a sedervisi accanto, si scrollò e si lisciò le penne col becco. Mentre se ne stava là a riposarsi, domandò -Reginaldo, cosa sta facendo?-Lo sguattero rispose:-E' nel fosso dei tormenti, circondato dai serpenti!-L'anitra domandò ancora:-Che fa la strega nera?-Lo sguattero rispose:-In braccio a Sua Maestà, al calduccio se ne sta!-Disse l'anitra:-Oh Dio, pietà di me!-e uscì a nuoto dallo scolo dell'acquaio. La sera seguente tornò e fece le stesse domande, e così pure la terza sera. Lo sguattero non riuscì a tenersi quel peso sul cuore, andò dal re e gli raccontò ogni cosa. La sera dopo il re andò in cucina, e quando l'anitra introdusse la testa nell'acquaio, prese la spada e le tagliò il collo. E subito l'anitra divenne la più bella fanciulla del mondo, ed era del tutto simile al ritratto che il fratello aveva dipinto. Il re era pieno di gioia, e siccome la fanciulla era tutta bagnata, le fece portare delle vesti sontuose Quand'ella le ebbe indossate, gli raccontò com'era caduta nel fiume; e, per prima cosa, lo pregò di liberare il fratello dalla fossa dei serpenti. Dopo aver esaudito la sua preghiera, il re andò nella stanza dov'era la vecchia strega e domandò: -Che cosa merita colei che fa delle cose così e così?- e le raccontò quel che era successo. Ella era abbagliata, non si accorse di nulla e disse -Merita che la spoglino e la mettano in una botte foderata di chiodi; e alla botte si attacchi un cavallo che la trascini dappertutto-. Così questo fu il destino suo e della sua figlia nera. Il re invece sposò la bella fanciulla, e ricompensò il fratello fedele con ricchezze e onori.
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.