ENGLISH

The willow-wren

DANSK

Gærdesmutten


In former days every sound still had its meaning and application. When the smith's hammer resounded, it cried, "Strike away! strike away." When the carpenter's plane grated, it said, "Here goes! here goes." If the mill wheel began to clack, it said, "Help, Lord God! help, Lord God!" And if the miller was a cheat and happened to leave the mill, it spoke high German, and first asked slowly, "Who is there? Who is there?" and then answered quickly, "The miller! the miller!" and at last quite in a hurry, "He steals bravely! he steals bravely! three pecks in a bushel."
At this time the birds also had their own language which every one understood; now it only sounds like chirping, screeching, and whistling, and to some like music without words. It came into the bird's mind, however, that they would no longer be without a ruler, and would choose one of themselves to be their King. One alone amongst them, the green plover, was opposed to this. He had lived free, and would die free, and anxiously flying hither and thither, he cried, "Where shall I go? where shall I go?" He retired into a solitary and unfrequented marsh, and showed himself no more among his fellows.

The birds now wished to discuss the matter, and on a fine May morning they all gathered together from the woods and fields: eagles and chaffinches, owls and crows, larks and sparrows, how can I name them all? Even the cuckoo came, and the hoopoe, his clerk, who is so called because he is always heard a few days before him, and a very small bird which as yet had no name, mingled with the band. The hen, which by some accident had heard nothing of the whole matter, was astonished at the great assemblage. "What, what, what is going to be done?" she cackled; but the cock calmed his beloved hen, and said, "Only rich people," and told her what they had on hand. It was decided, however, that the one who could fly the highest should be King. A tree-frog which was sitting among the bushes, when he heard that, cried a warning, "No, no, no! no!" because he thought that many tears would be shed because of this; but the crow said, "Caw, caw," and that all would pass off peaceably. It was now determined that on this fine morning they should at once begin to ascend, so that hereafter no one should be able to say, "I could easily have flown much higher, but the evening came on, and I could do no more." On a given signal, therefore, the whole troop rose up in the air. The dust ascended from the land, and there was tremendous fluttering and whirring and beating of wings, and it looked as if a black cloud was rising up. The little birds were, however, soon left behind. They could go no farther, and fell back to the ground. The larger birds held out longer, but none could equal the eagle, who mounted so high that he could have picked the eyes out of the sun. And when he saw that the others could not get up to him, he thought, "Why shouldst thou fly still higher, thou art the King?" and began to let himself down again. The birds beneath him at once cried to him. "Thou must be our King, no one has flown so high as thou." - "Except me," screamed the little fellow without a name, who had crept into the breast-feathers of the eagle. And as he was not at all tired, he rose up and mounted so high that he reached heaven itself. When, however, he had gone as far as this, he folded his wings together, and called down with clear and penetrating voice, "I am King! I am King."

"Thou, our King?" cried the birds angrily. "Thou hast compassed it by trick and cunning!" So they made another condition. He should be King who could go down lowest in the ground. How the goose did flap about with its broad breast when it was once more on the land! How quickly the cock scratched a hole! The duck came off the worst of all, for she leapt into a ditch, but sprained her legs, and waddled away to a neighboring pond, crying, "Cheating, cheating!" The little bird without a name, however, sought out a mouse- hole, slipped down into it, and cried out of it with his small voice, "I am King! I am King!"

"Thou our King!" cried the birds still more angrily. "Dost thou think thy cunning shall prevail?" They determined to keep him a prisoner in the hole and starve him out. The owl was placed as sentinel in front of it, and was not to let the rascal out if she had any value for her life. When evening was come all the birds were feeling very tired after exerting their wings so much, so they went to bed with their wives and children. The owl alone remained standing by the mouse-hole, gazing steadfastly into it with her great eyes. In the meantime she, too, had grown tired and thought to herself, "You might certainly shut one eye, you will still watch with the other, and the little miscreant shall not come out of his hole." So she shut one eye, and with the other looked straight at the mouse-hole. The little fellow put his head out and peeped, and wanted to slip away, but the owl came forward immediately, and he drew his head back again. Then the owl opened the one eye again, and shut the other, intending to shut them in turn all through the night.

But when she next shut the one eye, she forgot to open the other, and as soon as both her eyes were shut she fell asleep. The little fellow soon observed that, and slipped away.

From that day forth, the owl has never dared to show herself by daylight, for if she does the other birds chase her and pluck her feathers out. She only flies out by night, but hates and pursues mice because they make such ugly holes. The little bird, too, is very unwilling to let himself be seen, because he is afraid it will cost him his life if he is caught. He steals about in the hedges, and when he is quite safe, he sometimes cries, "I am King," and for this reason, the other birds call him in mockery, 'King of the hedges' (Zaunkönig). No one, however, was so happy as the lark at not having to obey the little King. As soon as the sun appears, she ascends high in the air and cries, "Ah, how beautiful that is! beautiful that is! beautiful, beautiful! ah, how beautiful that is!"
I gamle dage havde hvert ord sin særegne betydning. Når smedens hammer klang, råbte den: "Slå til, slå til." Når snedkerens høvl skrattede, sagde den: "Hæng i, hæng i." Når hjulene i møllen klaprede, sagde de: "Gud hjælpe os, Gud hjælpe os." Men var mølleren en bedrager, så snakkede møllen fint, når han satte den i gang, og spurgte først langsomt: "Hvem er det? Hvem er det?" - "Mølleren, mølleren," svarede den hurtigt, og til sidst sagde den i en susende fart: "Han stjæler som en ravn."

Fuglene havde også deres eget sprog. Nu lyder det som fløjten og skrigen og piben eller som sang uden ord, men dengang forstod alle det. Engang blev fuglene enige om, at de ikke længere ville være uden herre, de ville vælge sig en konge. Kun viben syntes ikke om det. Den ville leve og dø som en fri fugl. Angst og forstyrret fløj den frem og tilbage og råbte: "Hvad skal der blive af mig? Hvad skal der blive af mig?" Den fløj bort til afsides, ensomme sumpe, og ville ikke mere leve sammen med andre fugle.

Fuglene ville imidlertid tale med hinanden om sagen, og en dejlig majmorgen mødtes de. Fra alle marker og skove kom de flyvende, ørne og bogfinker, ugler og krager, lærker og spurve, og mange andre. Gøgen indfandt sig også tilligemed hærfuglen, den kaldes gøgens degn, fordi den altid lader sin stemme høre et par dage før gøgen. Så kom der også en ganske lille fugl, som slet ikke havde noget navn. Hønen havde tilfældigvis slet ikke hørt noget om det hele, og var meget forundret ved at se den store forsamling. "Hvad er dog det?" kaglede den, men hanen beroligede sin kære høne og sagde: "Det er lutter rige folk," og fortalte hende, hvad de havde for. Det blev nu besluttet, at den skulle være konge, som kunne flyve højest. En løvfrø, som sad i krattet, råbte advarende, da den hørte det: "Vand, vand, vand," for den mente, at der ville nok blive fældet mange tårer. Men kragen sagde: "Kra-kra," og mente, at det ville nok gå ganske fredeligt af altsammen.

Det blev nu bestemt, at de skulle flyve til vejrs straks om morgenen, for at ingen bagefter skulle kunne sige: "Jeg kunne godt være fløjet højere, men om aftenen var jeg træt og kunne ikke mere." På et givet tegn steg hele skaren til vejrs. Støvet fløj op fra marken, der hørtes en susen og brusen, og det så ud, som om en sort sky trak henover himlen. De små fugle måtte snart opgive det og faldt til jorden. De store holdt længere ud, men ingen kunne måle sig med ørnen, den steg så højt, at den kunne have hakket øjnene ud på solen. Da den så, at de andre ikke kunne nå den, tænkte den: "Hvorfor skulle jeg gøre mig den ulejlighed at flyve højere? Jeg er jo alligevel konge." Alle fuglene råbte: "Du skal være konge. Ingen er fløjet så højt som du." - "Undtagen jeg," råbte den lille fyr, som ikke havde noget navn. Den havde skjult sig imellem ørnens fjer, og var slet ikke træt. Den steg nu op i luften, så højt, at den kunne se Gud sidde på sin trone. Så foldede den sine vinger sammen og sank ned, mens den råbte med tynd, skingrende stemme: "Jeg er konge, jeg er konge."

"Du konge," råbte fuglene rasende, "din lille, usle, listige rad." De bestemte nu, at den skulle være konge, som kunne komme dybest ned i jorden. Det kan nok være, at det gav et ordentligt klask, da gåsen faldt mod jorden med sit brede, hvide bryst. Han skrabede sig i en fart et hul. Anden kom værst af sted, den sprang ned i en grøft og forstuvede benet, og vraltede hen til den nærmeste dam, mens den skreg: "Rakkerpak, rakkerpak." Den lille, navnløse fugl fandt et musehul, smuttede ned deri og råbte med tynd stemme: "Jeg er konge, jeg er konge."

"Bilder du dig det ind," råbte fuglene rasende, "tror du, dine kneb gælder." De besluttede at holde den fanget nede i hullet, så den sultede ihjel. Uglen skulle holde vagt, og såfremt den havde sit liv kært, måtte den sørge for, at skælmen ikke slap bort. Om aftenen var fuglene meget trætte ovenpå dagens anstrengelser, og gik i seng med kone og børn. Kun uglen blev stående ved musehullet og så ufravendt derned med sine store øjne. Den var imidlertid også træt, og så tænkte den: "Det ene øje kan jeg nok lukke, jeg våger jo med det andet, og den lille skurk skal ikke slippe ud af hullet." Den lukkede så det ene øje og så med det andet stift på hullet. Den lille fyr stak hovedet ud og ville smutte bort, men uglen kom straks derhen, og så trak den hovedet til sig igen. Nu lukkede uglen det andet øje i og det første op, og ville skifte sådan natten igennem. Men da den så igen ville lukke det første i, glemte den at lukke det andet op, og da den havde begge øjne lukket, faldt den i søvn. Den lille fugl mærkede det snart og stak af.

Fra nu af turde uglen aldrig mere vise sig om dagen, for så fløj de andre fugle efter den og rev i den. Den flyver kun ud om natten og hader og forfølger musene, fordi de laver sådan ækle huller. Men den lille fugl holder heller ikke meget af at møde den, for den er bange for, at det også skal gå ud over den. Derfor smutter den nu bagved gærderne, og når den har gemt sig sikkert der, råber den undertiden: "Jeg er konge." Derfor har fuglene givet den øgenavnet gærdesmutten.

Men ingen var gladere end lærken, fordi den ikke behøvede at adlyde gærdesmutten. Når solen står op, stiger den højt til vejrs og jubler: "Hvor livet dog er dejligt, hvor livet dog er dejligt."




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