The lambkin and the little fish



There were once a little brother and a little sister, who loved each other with all their hearts. Their own mother was, however, dead, and they had a stepmother, who was not kind to them, and secretly did everything she could to hurt them. It so happened that the two were playing with other children in a meadow before the house, and there was a pond in the meadow which came up to one side of the house. The children ran about it, and caught each other, and played at counting out.

"Eneke Beneke, let me live,
And I to thee my bird will give.
The little bird, it straw shall seek,
The straw I'll give to the cow to eat.
The pretty cow shall give me milk,
The milk I'll to the baker take.
The baker he shall bake a cake,
The cake I'll give unto the cat.
The cat shall catch some mice for that,
The mice I'll hang up in the smoke,
And then you'll see the snow."

They stood in a circle while they played this, and the one to whom the word 'snow' fell, had to run away and all the others ran after him and caught him. As they were running about so merrily the stepmother watched them from the window, and grew angry. And as she understood arts of witchcraft she bewitched them both, and changed the little brother into a fish, and the little sister into a lamb. Then the fish swam here and there about the pond and was very sad, and the lambkin walked up and down the meadow, and was miserable, and could not eat or touch one blade of grass. Thus passed a long time, and then strangers came as visitors to the castle. The false step-mother thought: "This is a good opportunity," and called the cook and said to him: "Go and fetch the lamb from the meadow and kill it, we have nothing else for the visitors." Then the cook went away and got the lamb, and took it into the kitchen and tied its feet, and all this it bore patiently. When he had drawn out his knife and was whetting it on the door-step to kill the lamb, he noticed a little fish swimming backwards and forwards in the water, in front of the kitchen-sink and looking up at him. This, however, was the brother, for when the fish saw the cook take the lamb away, it followed them and swam along the pond to the house; then the lamb cried down to it:

"Ah, brother, in the pond so deep,
How sad is my poor heart!
Even now the cook he whets his knife
To take away my tender life."

The little fish answered:

"Ah, little sister, up on hig
How sad is my poor heart
While in this pond I lie."

When the cook heard that the lambkin could speak and said such sad words to the fish down below, he was terrified and thought this could be no common lamb, but must be bewitched by the wicked woman in the house. Then said he: "Be easy, I will not kill thee," and took another sheep and made it ready for the guests, and conveyed the lambkin to a good peasant woman, to whom he related all that he had seen and heard. The peasant was, however, the very woman who had been foster-mother to the little sister, and she suspected at once who the lamb was, and went with it to a wise woman. Then the wise woman pronounced a blessing over the lambkin and the little fish, by means of which they regained their human forms, and after this she took them both into a little hut in a great forest, where they lived alone, but were contented and happy.

こんなふうにしばらく過ぎました。それから何人かよその人がこの城へのお客としてやってきました。不実な継母は、これはいい機会だ、と考え、料理人を呼んで、「草地に行って子羊をとってきて、殺しなさい。他にお客さんたちのごちそうは何もないんだからね。」と言いました。それで料理人は行って子羊をつかまえ、台所へ連れてきて、足を縛りました。子羊はこういうことを全部我慢して耐えていました。料理人は包丁をとりだして、子羊を殺すために戸口で研いでいたとき、小さな魚が溝石の前で水の中を行ったり来たりして自分を見上げているのに気付きました。でも、これは兄でした、というのは魚は料理人が子羊を連れ去るのを見たとき、あとをつけ、家まで池を泳いできたからです。すると、子羊は下のその魚に叫びました、「ああ、とても深い池にいる兄さん、私の心はどんなに悲しいか、料理人が私を殺すため包丁を研いでるの。」すると小さな魚は「高いところの妹よ、この池にいて私の心はどんなにかなしいことだろう。」と答えました。料理人は子羊が話せて、しかも下の魚にそんな悲しいことを言うのを聞いたとき、びっくりして、これは普通の羊のはずがない、家の悪い女に魔法にかけられたにちがいない、と思いました。それで「安心しな、お前を殺さないよ」と言って、別の羊を連れてきてお客をもてなす支度をしました。そして 子羊を良い農夫の女に渡し、自分が見て聞いたことを全部説明してきかせました。ところで、その農夫はとても良い人で、妹の養い親になり、すぐにその子羊が誰か勘付いて、賢い女に連れていきました。それで、賢い女は子羊と小魚に祝福のまじないをとなえると、その力で二人はもとの人間の形に戻りました。このあと、賢い女は二人を大きな森の中の小屋に連れて行き、二人だけでそこに住みましたが、満足して幸せに暮らしました。

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