The goose-girl at the well


Gåsevogtersken ved brønden

There was once upon a time a very old woman, who lived with he flock of geese in a waste place among the mountains, and there had a little house. The waste was surrounded by a large forest, and every morning the old woman took her crutch and hobbled into it. There, however, the dame was quite active, more so than any one would have thought, considering her age, and collected grass for her geese, picked all the wild fruit she could reach, and carried everything home on her back. Any one would have thought that the heavy load would have weighed her to the ground, but she always brought it safely home. If any one met her, she greeted him quite courteously. "Good day, dear countryman, it is a fine day. Ah! you wonder that I should drag grass about, but every one must take his burthen on his back." Nevertheless, people did not like to meet her if they could help it, and took by preference a round-about way, and when a father with his boys passed her, he whispered to them, "Beware of the old woman. She has claws beneath her gloves; she is a witch."
Der var engang en ældgammel kone, som boede ude i en øde egn mellem bjergene i et lille hus og vogtede gæs. Rundt om var der en stor skov, og hver morgen rokkede den gamle kone derind på sine krykker. Så havde hun frygtelig travlt og var så flittig, som man ikke skulle have troet sådan en gammel en kunne udholde. Hun samlede græs til sine gæs, plukkede den vilde frugt, hun kunne nå, og bar det altsammen hjem på sin ryg. Man skulle have troet, at den tunge byrde havde trykket hende til jorden, men hun kom altid lykkelig og vel hjem. Når hun mødte nogen sagde hun venligt: "Goddag, sikken et dejligt vejr det er. Ja, I undrer jer nok over, at jeg slæber af sted med dette græs, men hver har sit at bære på." Folk holdt ikke af at møde hende og gik hellere en omvej. Hvis en bonde kom forbi med sin søn, sagde han sagte til ham: "Tag dig i agt for den gamle der, hun ved mere end sit fadervor. Det er en heks."

One morning, a handsome young man was going through the forest. The sun shone bright, the birds sang, a cool breeze crept through the leaves, and he was full of joy and gladness. He had as yet met no one, when he suddenly perceived the old witch kneeling on the ground cutting grass with a sickle. She had already thrust a whole load into her cloth, and near it stood two baskets, which were filled with wild apples and pears. "But, good little mother," said he, "how canst thou carry all that away?" - "I must carry it, dear sir," answered she, "rich folk's children have no need to do such things, but with the peasant folk the saying goes,
En morgen gik en smuk, ung mand gennem skoven. Solen skinnede, fuglene sang, en sagte vind viftede gennem løvet, og han var glad og i godt humør. Han havde endnu ikke mødt noget menneske, men pludselig fik han øje på den gamle heks, som lå på knæ på jorden og skar græs af med en segl. Hun havde allerede en hel mængde i sit tørklæde, og ved siden af det stod der to kurve fyldt med vilde pærer og æbler. "Hvordan kan du dog bære alt det, morlil?" spurgte han. "Det må jeg nu engang," svarede hun. "Rige folks børn behøver det ikke. Men bonden siger:

Don't look behind you,
Vend dig ej om, vær ikke dum,

You will only see how crooked your back is!"
du ved jo godt, din ryg er krum,"

"Will you help me?" she said, as he remained standing by her. "You have still a straight back and young legs, it would be a trifle to you. Besides, my house is not so very far from here, it stands there on the heath behind the hill. How soon you would bound up thither." The young man took compassion on the old woman. "My father is certainly no peasant," replied he, "but a rich count; nevertheless, that you may see that it is not only peasants who can carry things, I will take your bundle." If you will try it," said she, "I shall be very glad. You will certainly have to walk for an hour, but what will that signify to you; only you must carry the apples and pears as well?" It now seemed to the young man just a little serious, when he heard of an hour's walk, but the old woman would not let him off, packed the bundle on his back, and hung the two baskets on his arm. "See, it is quite light," said she. "No, it is not light," answered the count, and pulled a rueful face. "Verily, the bundle weighs as heavily as if it were full of cobble stones, and the apples and pears are as heavy as lead! I can scarcely breathe." He had a mind to put everything down again, but the old woman would not allow it. "Just look," said she mockingly, "the young gentleman will not carry what I, an old woman, have so often dragged along. You are ready with fine words, but when it comes to be earnest, you want to take to your heels. Why are you standing loitering there?" she continued. "Step out. No one will take the bundle off again." As long as he walked on level ground, it was still bearable, but when they came to the hill and had to climb, and the stones rolled down under his feet as if they were alive, it was beyond his strength. The drops of perspiration stood on his forehead, and ran, hot and cold, down his back. "Dame," said he, "I can go no farther. I want to rest a little." - "Not here," answered the old woman, "when we have arrived at our journey's end, you can rest; but now you must go forward. Who knows what good it may do you?" - "Old woman, thou art becoming shameless!" said the count, and tried to throw off the bundle, but he laboured in vain; it stuck as fast to his back as if it grew there. He turned and twisted, but he could not get rid of it. The old woman laughed at this, and sprang about quite delighted on her crutch. "Don't get angry, dear sir," said she, "you are growing as red in the face as a turkey-cock! Carry your bundle patiently. I will give you a good present when we get home." What could he do. He was obliged to submit to his fate, and crawl along patiently behind the old woman. She seemed to grow more and more nimble, and his burden still heavier. All at once she made a spring, jumped on to the bundle and seated herself on the top of it; and however withered she might be, she was yet heavier than the stoutest country lass. The youth's knees trembled, but when he did not go on, the old woman hit him about the legs with a switch and with stinging-nettles. Groaning continually, he climbed the mountain, and at length reached the old woman's house, when he was just about to drop. When the geese perceived the old woman, they flapped their wings, stretched out their necks, ran to meet her, cackling all the while. Behind the flock walked, stick in hand, an old wench, strong and big, but ugly as night. "Good mother," said she to the old woman, "has anything happened to you, you have stayed away so long?" - "By no means, my dear daughter," answered she, I have met with nothing bad, but, on the contrary, with this kind gentleman, who has carried my burthen for me; only think, he even took me on his back when I was tired. The way, too, has not seemed long to us; we have been merry, and have been cracking jokes with each other all the time." At last the old woman slid down, took the bundle off the young man's back, and the baskets from his arm, looked at him quite kindly, and said, "Now seat yourself on the bench before the door, and rest. You have fairly earned your wages, and they shall not be wanting." Then she said to the goose-girl, "Go into the house, my dear daughter, it is not becoming for thee to be alone with a young gentleman; one must not pour oil on to the fire, he might fall in love with thee." The count knew not whether to laugh or to cry. "Such a sweetheart as that," thought he, "could not touch my heart, even if she were thirty years younger." In the meantime the old woman stroked and fondled her geese as if they were children, and then went into the house with her daughter. The youth lay down on the bench, under a wild apple-tree. The air was warm and mild; on all sides stretched a green meadow, which was set with cowslips, wild thyme, and a thousand other flowers; through the midst of it rippled a clear brook on which the sun sparkled, and the white geese went walking backwards and forwards, or paddled in the water. "It is quite delightful here," said he, "but I am so tired that I cannot keep my eyes open; I will sleep a little. If only a gust of wind does not come and blow my legs off my body, for they are as rotten as tinder."
og da han blev stående og så på det, spurgte hun: "Vil I måske hjælpe mig? I har en rank ryg og unge ben, for jer vil det jo være en let sag. Mit hus er heller ikke langt herfra. Det ligger bagved bjergene på en hede, så I vil jo være der på et øjeblik." Den unge mand fik ondt af den gamle. "Min far er rigtignok en rig greve og ikke bonde," svarede han, "men for at vise dig, at det ikke alene er bønder, som kan bære noget, vil jeg tage din bylt for dig." - "Det var dejligt," sagde den gamle. "I må ganske vist gå en mils vej, men det kan jo heller ikke gøre jer noget. Men I må også bære æblerne og pærerne." Greven blev lidt betænkelig, da han hørte, at vejen var så lang, men den gamle lod ham ikke slippe. Hun hængte bylten på ryggen af ham og gav ham kurven på armen. "Der kan I se, hvor let det går," sagde hun. "Å, det er nu slet ikke så nemt," svarede greven og bed sig i læben, "den bylt er jo så tung, som om den var fyldt med sten, og man skulle virkelig tro, at æblerne og pærerne var af bly. Jeg kan næsten ikke få vejret." Han havde mest lyst til at lægge det hele ned igen, men det ville den gamle dog ikke have. "Der kan man bare se," sagde hun hånligt, "sådan en ung fyr kan ikke bære det, som jeg så tit har måttet slæbe på. Det er nemt nok at komme med pæne ord, men når det bliver alvor, får piben nok en anden lyd. Hvad står I nu der og venter på, i stedet for at tage benene med jer. Der er virkelig ingen, som tager bylten fra jer." Så længe de gik på den flade vej, gik det nogenlunde, men da de kom op på bjerget, og stenene rullede under hans fødder, som om de var levende, kunne han ikke holde det ud længere. Sveden perlede på hans pande, og det løb ham det ene øjeblik koldt, det næste varmt ned ad ryggen. "Jeg kan ikke mere," sagde han, "jeg må hvile mig lidt." - "Ikke her," svarede den gamle, "når vi først er kommet hjem til mig, kan I hvile jer, men nu skal I skynde jer af sted. Man kan såmænd aldrig vide, hvad det kan være godt for." - "Nu bliver du nok grov," sagde greven og ville kaste bylten fra sig men han kunne ikke. Den sad som om den var vokset fast til hans ryg. Han vendte og drejede sig, men det hjalp ikke. Den gamle lo og sprang omkring på sine krykker. "Bliv nu ikke vred, hr. greve," sagde hun, "I er jo så rød i hovedet som en kalkunsk hane. Bær I kun tålmodigt jeres byrde. Når vi er kommet hjem, skal I få gode drikkepenge." Der var jo ikke andet for ham at gøre end at føje sig i sin skæbne og traske af sted efter den gamle. Hun blev stadig flinkere til bens, mens bylten blev tungere og tungere. Pludselig sprang hun op og satte sig ovenpå den, og hvor vindtør hun end så ud, var hun dog tungere end den tykkeste bondepige. Den unge mands ben rystede under ham, men når han ikke gik, slog den gamle ham over benene med en kvist og med brændenælder. Stønnende steg han op ad bjerget, og da han endelig nåede den gamles hus, var han ved at styrte om. Da gæssene fik øje på den gamle, slog de med vingerne, strakte hals og løb hende i møde, mens de skreg: "Gæk, gæk, gæk." Bagefter dem kom et kvindemenneske, noget til års, stor og stærk men grim som arvesynden. "Er der hændt noget, siden I blev så længe borte?" spurgte hun den gamle. "Ikke noget ondt, min pige," svarede heksen, "tværtimod, den rare herre har båret min bylt for mig, og da jeg blev træt, tog han også mig på ryggen. Og vejen er slet ikke faldet os lang. Vi har haft det rigtig gemytligt." Så rutschede den gamle endelig ned, tog bylten og kurvene, og sagde venligt til den unge mand: "Sæt jer nu på bænken foran døren og hvil jer. I har ærligt fortjent jeres løn, og den skal også nok komme." Derpå sagde hun til gå se vogtersken: "Gå du hellere ind i huset, min pige, det er ikke passende, at du er alene med en ung herre. Man skal heller ikke lege med ild, og han kunne jo gå hen og forelske sig i dig." Greven vidste ikke, om han skulle le eller græde. "Det var en nydelig kæreste," tænkte han, "selv om hun var tredive år yngre, kunne hun dog ikke berøve mig min hjertefred." Imidlertid kælede den gamle for gæssene og klappede dem, som om de var børn, og så gik hun og datteren ind i huset. Greven strakte sig på bænken under et vildt æbletræ. Luften var så mild, rundt om bredte den grønne eng sig, oversået med kodriver, timian og tusinde andre blomster. En klar bæk rislede af sted, mens solen spillede på den, og de hvide gæs gik frem og tilbage eller pjaskede i vandet. "Hvor her er dejligt," tænkte greven, "men jeg er så træt, at jeg ikke kan holde øjnene åbne. Bare der nu ikke kommer et vindstød og blæser benene af mig, for de er så møre som svamp."

When he had slept a little while, the old woman came and shook him till he awoke. "Sit up," said she, "thou canst not stay here; I have certainly treated thee hardly, still it has not cost thee thy life. Of money and land thou hast no need, here is something else for thee." Thereupon she thrust a little book into his hand, which was cut out of a single emerald. "Take great care of it," said she, "it will bring thee good fortune." The count sprang up, and as he felt that he was quite fresh, and had recovered his vigor, he thanked the old woman for her present, and set off without even once looking back at the beautiful daughter. When he was already some way off, he still heard in the distance the noisy cry of the geese.
Da han havde ligget lidt og sovet, kom den gamle og rystede ham vågen. "Rejs dig op," sagde hun, "du kan ikke blive her. Jeg har ganske vist gjort det surt nok for dig, men jeg har dog ikke taget livet af dig. Nu skal du få din løn. Gods og guld behøver du jo ikke, her har du noget andet." Derpå gav hun ham en lille æske, som var skåret ud af en eneste smaragd. "Pas godt på den," sagde hun, "den vil bringe dig lykke." Greven var nu frisk og rask igen, takkede den gamle for den smukke gave og gik sin vej uden så meget som at se sig om efter den smukke datter. Da han var kommet et stykke bort, hørte han i det fjerne gæssenes lystige skrigen.

For three days the count had to wander in the wilderness before he could find his way out. He then reached a large town, and as no one knew him, he was led into the royal palace, where the King and Queen were sitting on their throne. The count fell on one knee, drew the emerald book out of his pocket, and laid it at the Queen's feet. She bade him rise and hand her the little book. Hardly, however, had she opened it, and looked therein, than she fell as if dead to the ground. The count was seized by the King's servants, and was being led to prison, when the Queen opened her eyes, and ordered them to release him, and every one was to go out, as she wished to speak with him in private.
Greven måtte vandre tre dage i vildnisset, før han fandt ud af skoven. Han kom da til en stor by, og da ingen kendte ham, blev han ført ind i det kongelige slot, hvor kongen og dronningen sad på tronen. Han kastede sig på knæ, tog smaragdæsken op af lommen og lagde den for dronningens fødder. Hun bød ham stå op, og han rakte hende æsken, men næppe havde hun åbnet den, før hun faldt om som død. Greven blev grebet af tjenerne og skulle føres i fængsel, men da slog dronningen øjnene op og råbte, at de skulle slippe ham og gå ud af stuen allesammen. Hun ville tale alene med ham.

When the Queen was alone, she began to weep bitterly, and said, "Of what use to me are the splendours and honours with which I am surrounded; every morning I awake in pain and sorrow. I had three daughters, the youngest of whom was so beautiful that the whole world looked on her as a wonder. She was as white as snow, as rosy as apple-blossom, and her hair as radiant as sun-beams. When she cried, not tears fell from her eyes, but pearls and jewels only. When she was fifteen years old, the King summoned all three sisters to come before his throne. You should have seen how all the people gazed when the youngest entered, it was just as if the sun were rising! Then the King spoke, 'My daughters, I know not when my last day may arrive; I will to-day decide what each shall receive at my death. You all love me, but the one of you who loves me best, shall fare the best.' Each of them said she loved him best. 'Can you not express to me,' said the King, 'how much you do love me, and thus I shall see what you mean?' The eldest spoke, 'I love my father as dearly as the sweetest sugar.' The second, 'I love my father as dearly as my prettiest dress.' But the youngest was silent. Then the father said, 'And thou, my dearest child, how much dost thou love me?' - 'I do not know, and can compare my love with nothing.' But her father insisted that she should name something. So she said at last, 'The best food does not please me without salt, therefore I love my father like salt.' When the King heard that, he fell into a passion, and said, 'If thou lovest me like salt, thy love shall also be repaid thee with salt.' Then he divided the kingdom between the two elder, but caused a sack of salt to be bound on the back of the youngest, and two servants had to lead her forth into the wild forest. We all begged and prayed for her," said the Queen, "but the King's anger was not to be appeased. How she cried when she had to leave us! The whole road was strewn with the pearls which flowed from her eyes. The King soon afterwards repented of his great severity, and had the whole forest searched for the poor child, but no one could find her. When I think that the wild beasts have devoured her, I know not how to contain myself for sorrow; many a time I console myself with the hope that she is still alive, and may have hidden herself in a cave, or has found shelter with compassionate people. But picture to yourself, when I opened your little emerald book, a pearl lay therein, of exactly the same kind as those which used to fall from my daughter's eyes; and then you can also imagine how the sight of it stirred my heart. You must tell me how you came by that pearl." The count told her that he had received it from the old woman in the forest, who had appeared very strange to him, and must be a witch, but he had neither seen nor hear anything of the Queen's child. The King and the Queen resolved to seek out the old woman. They thought that there where the pearl had been, they would obtain news of their daughter.
Da de var gået, gav dronningen sig til at græde og sagde: "Hvad nytter al den glans og pragt, som omgiver mig. Hver morgen vågner jeg lige bedrøvet. Jeg har haft tre døtre, og den yngste var så dejlig, at det var et under. Hun var hvid som sne, rød som æbleblomster, og hendes hår lyste som solen. Når hun græd, faldt der ikke tårer, men perler og ædelstene fra hendes øjne. Da hun var femten år gammel lod kongen dem alle tre komme frem for sin trone. I skulle have set, hvor folk gjorde store øjne, da den yngste kom ind. Det var som om solen brød frem. Så sagde kongen: "Jeg ved ikke, når min sidste time slår, og i dag vil jeg bestemme, hvad I skal have når jeg er død. I holder allesammen af mig,men den, som holder mest af mig, skal have det bedste." Hver mente jo, at hun holdt mest af ham. "Kan I ikke på en eller anden måde udtrykke, hvor meget I holder af mig," sagde kongen, "så kan jeg se, hvad I mener." - "Jeg holder så meget af dig som af det sødeste sukker," sagde den ældste. "Jeg holder så meget af dig som af mine smukkeste kjole," sagde den anden. Den yngste sagde ikke noget. "Hvor meget holder du så af mig, min lille pige?" spurgte kongen. "Jeg ved det ikke," svarede hun, "jeg kan ikke sammenligne min kærlighed med noget." Men kongen ville have, at hun skulle sige noget. Til sidst sagde hun: "Den dejligste mad smager mig ikke uden salt. Jeg holder så meget af dig som af salt." Kongen blev rasende og sagde: "Når du holder så meget af mig som af salt, skal din kærlighed også blive belønnet med salt." Han delte nu riget mellem de to ældste. Derpå blev der bundet en sæk med salt på ryggen af vores yngste, og to karle måtte føre hende ud i den store vilde skov. Hvor har vi dog ikke tigget og bedt kongen om nåde, men han lod sig ikke formilde. Den stakkels pige græd og græd, da hun skulle bort fra os, og hele vejen blev oversået med perler, som faldt ned fra hendes øjne. Senere fortrød kongen sin store hårdhed og lod hele skoven gennemsøge, men hun var ikke til at finde. Når jeg tænker på, at de vilde dyr måske har ædt hende, bliver jeg ganske ude af mig selv af sorg. Undertiden håber jeg på, at hun endnu er i live og har gemt sig i en hule eller fundet et hjem hos gode mennesker. Men tænk, da jeg åbnede eders smaragdæske, lå der en af de perler, som faldt fra min datters øjne, og I kan forstå, hvad for et indtryk det har gjort på mig. Nu skal I fortælle mig, hvorfra I har den perle." Greven fortalte nu, at han havde fået den af en gammel kone ude i skoven. Han havde ikke været rigtig hyggelig ved hende og troede nok, at hun var en heks. Deres barn havde han hverken set eller hørt noget til. Kongen og dronningen besluttede imidlertid at opsøge den gamle. De tænkte, at der, hvor perlen kom fra, måtte de også kunne få noget at vide om deres datter.

The old woman was sitting in that lonely place at her spinning-wheel, spinning. It was already dusk, and a log which was burning on the hearth gave a scanty light. All at once there was a noise outside, the geese were coming home from the pasture, and uttering their hoarse cries. Soon afterwards the daughter also entered. But the old woman scarcely thanked her, and only shook her head a little. The daughter sat down beside her, took her spinning-wheel, and twisted the threads as nimbly as a young girl. Thus they both sat for two hours, and exchanged never a word. At last something rustled at the window, and two fiery eyes peered in. It was an old night-owl, which cried, "Uhu!" three times. The old woman looked up just a little, then she said, "Now, my little daughter, it is time for thee to go out and do thy work."
Den gamle sad imidlertid ude i sit lille hus ved sin rok og spandt. Det var allerede blevet mørkt, og stuen blev kun svagt oplyst af en spån, der brændte henne på skorstenen. Pludselig blev der larm udenfor, gæssene kom hjem fra engen, og man hørte deres hæse skrig. Lidt efter kom også datteren ind, men den gamle sagde knap goddag til hende og nikkede bare lidt med hovedet. Datteren satte sig nu hen til sin rok og drejede tråden så flinkt som en ung pige. I to timer sad de og spandt uden at sige et ord. Så var der noget, som raslede henne ved vinduet, og to skinnende øjne gloede derind. Det var en gammel natugle, og tre gange skreg den "Uhu." Den gamle drejede hovedet lidt henimod den og sagde så til datteren: "Nu er det på tiden, at du går ud og gør dit arbejde."

She rose and went out, and where did she go? Over the meadows ever onward into the valley. At last she came to a well, with three old oak-trees standing beside it; meanwhile the moon had risen large and round over the mountain, and it was so light that one could have found a needle. She removed a skin which covered her face, then bent down to the well, and began to wash herself. When she had finished, she dipped the skin also in the water, and then laid it on the meadow, so that it should bleach in the moonlight, and dry again. But how the maiden was changed! Such a change as that was never seen before! When the gray mask fell off, her golden hair broke forth like sunbeams, and spread about like a mantle over her whole form. Her eyes shone out as brightly as the stars in heaven, and her cheeks bloomed a soft red like apple-blossom.
Så rejste hun sig og gik langt ud over engen, helt ind i dalen. Der kom hun til sidst til en brønd, hvorved der stod tre gamle egetræer. Månen var stor og rund dukket op bag bjergene, og det var så lyst, at man kunne se at finde en knappenål. Så tog hun en hud af, der lå over hendes ansigt, bøjede sig ned over brønden og begyndte at vaske sig. Da hun var færdig, dyppede hun huden i vandet og lagde den så på engen, for at den skulle tørre i måneskinnet. Men hvor var hun dog forvandlet. Da hun tog den grå paryk af, vældede sølvgyldne lokker frem og hang ned om hende som en kappe. Øjnene strålede som himlens stjerner, og kinderne havde æbleblomsternes fine rødme.

But the fair maiden was sad. She sat down and wept bitterly. One tear after another forced itself out of her eyes, and rolled through her long hair to the ground. There she sat, and would have remained sitting a long time, if there had not been a rustling and cracking in the boughs of the neighbouring tree. She sprang up like a roe which has been overtaken by the shot of the hunter. Just then the moon was obscured by a dark cloud, and in an instant the maiden had put on the old skin and vanished, like a light blown out by the wind.
Men den smukke pige satte sig bedrøvet ned og græd. Den ene tåre efter den anden trillede ud af hendes øjne og faldt ned på jorden. Hun sad der længe, men pludselig hørte hun, at grenene raslede i træet. Hun sprang op, hurtigt som et rådyr, der hører jægerens skud. Der gik netop en sky for månen, og i et nu havde pigen fået sin gamle hud om sig og forsvandt som et lys, der slukkes af vinden.

She ran back home, trembling like an aspen-leaf. The old woman was standing on the threshold, and the girl was about to relate what had befallen her, but the old woman laughed kindly, and said, "I already know all." She led her into the room and lighted a new log. She did not, however, sit down to her spinning again, but fetched a broom and began to sweep and scour, "All must be clean and sweet," she said to the girl. "But, mother," said the maiden, "why do you begin work at so late an hour? What do you expect?" - "Dost thou know then what time it is?" asked the old woman. "Not yet midnight," answered the maiden, "but already past eleven o'clock." - "Dost thou not remember," continued the old woman, "that it is three years to-day since thou camest to me? Thy time is up, we can no longer remain together." The girl was terrified, and said, "Alas! dear mother, will you cast me off? Where shall I go? I have no friends, and no home to which I can go. I have always done as you bade me, and you have always been satisfied with me; do not send me away." The old woman would not tell the maiden what lay before her. "My stay here is over," she said to her, "but when I depart, house and parlour must be clean: therefore do not hinder me in my work. Have no care for thyself, thou shalt find a roof to shelter thee, and the wages which I will give thee shall also content thee." - "But tell me what is about to happen," the maiden continued to entreat. "I tell thee again, do not hinder me in my work. Do not say a word more, go to thy chamber, take the skin off thy face, and put on the silken gown which thou hadst on when thou camest to me, and then wait in thy chamber until I call thee."
Skælvende som et espeløv løb hun hjem. Den gamle stod udenfor døren, og pigen ville fortælle hende, hvad der var sket, men hun smilede venligt og sagde: "Jeg ved det altsammen." Derpå førte hun hende ind i stuen og tændte en ny spån. Hun satte sig ikke til at spinde igen, men tog en kost og begyndte at feje og skure. "Her må være rent og pænt," sagde hun. "Men hvorfor begynder du så sent på sådan noget," sagde pigen, "hvad skal der ske?" - "Ved du, hvad klokken er?" spurgte den gamle. "Det er ikke midnat endnu," svarede pigen, "men den er over elleve." - "Tænker du slet ikke på, at i dag er det tre år siden, du kom," spurgte den gamle, "men nu er det forbi, nu kan vi ikke længere blive sammen." Pigen blev forskrækket. "Vil I nu forstøde mig," sagde hun, "jeg har hverken slægt eller venner, som jeg kan bede om hjælp. Jeg har gjort alt, hvad I har sagt, og I har altid været tilfreds med mig. Send mig dog ikke bort." Den gamle ville ikke sige pigen, hvad der skulle ske. "Jeg kan heller ikke være her længere," sagde hun, " her må være pænt rent allevegne, når jeg drager bort. Forstyr mig ikke i mit arbejde, og vær bare ikke bekymret. Du skal nok få tag over hovedet, og du vil også blive tilfreds med den løn, du får." - "Sig mig dog nu, hvad der skal ske," bad pigen. "Jeg har sagt til dig, at du skal lade være med at forstyrre mig," sagde den gamle, "ti nu stille og gå ind i dit værelse, tag huden af og tag den silkekjole på, som du var iført, da du kom til mig. Vent så derinde, til jeg kalder på dig."

But I must once more tell of the King and Queen, who had journeyed forth with the count in order to seek out the old woman in the wilderness. The count had strayed away from them in the wood by night, and had to walk onwards alone. Next day it seemed to him that he was on the right track. He still went forward, until darkness came on, then he climbed a tree, intending to pass the night there, for he feared that he might lose his way. When the moon illumined the surrounding country he perceived a figure coming down the mountain. She had no stick in her hand, but yet he could see that it was the goose-girl, whom he had seen before in the house of the old woman. "Oho," cried he, "there she comes, and if I once get hold of one of the witches, the other shall not escape me!" But how astonished he was, when she went to the well, took off the skin and washed herself, when her golden hair fell down all about her, and she was more beautiful than any one whom he had ever seen in the whole world. He hardly dared to breathe, but stretched his head as far forward through the leaves as he dared, and stared at her. Either he bent over too far, or whatever the cause might be, the bough suddenly cracked, and that very moment the maiden slipped into the skin, sprang away like a roe, and as the moon was suddenly covered, disappeared from his eyes.
Nu må jeg igen fortælle om kongen og dronningen, som var draget af sted med greven for at lede efter den gamle. Om natten kom greven bort fra dem i skoven og måtte gå videre alene, og næste dag syntes han, at han var på den rigtige vej. Han gik videre, til mørket faldt på, så klatrede han op i et træ for at blive der om natten, for han var bange for at fare vild. Da månen lyste klart over engen fik han øje på en skikkelse, som kom ned ad bjerget. Han så straks, at det var den gåsevogterske, han havde set hos den gamle, skønt hun ingen pisk havde i hånden. "Der kommer hun jo," råbte han, "har jeg først den ene heks, skal jeg også nok få fat i den anden." Men hvor forbavset blev han ikke, da hun tog huden af og vaskede sig i brønden. Det gyldne hår faldt ned om hende, og han syntes, hun var den dejligste kvinde, han havde set. Han vovede næppe at ånde, men han bøjede sig så langt frem, han kunne, og så ufravendt på hende. Om han nu bøjede sig for langt frem eller noget andet er skyld i det, nok er det, pludselig knagede grenen, og i samme øjeblik kastede pigen huden over sig, sprang af sted som en rå, og da månen i det samme gik bag en sky, kunne han ikke se, hvor hun blev af.

Hardly had she disappeared, before the count descended from the tree, and hastened after her with nimble steps. He had not been gone long before he saw, in the twilight, two figures coming over the meadow. It was the King and Queen, who had perceived from a distance the light shining in the old woman's little house, and were going to it. The count told them what wonderful things he had seen by the well, and they did not doubt that it had been their lost daughter. They walked onwards full of joy, and soon came to the little house. The geese were sitting all round it, and had thrust their heads under their wings and were sleeping, and not one of them moved. The King and Queen looked in at the window, the old woman was sitting there quite quietly spinning, nodding her head and never looking round. The room was perfectly clean, as if the little mist men, who carry no dust on their feet, lived there. Their daughter, however, they did not see. They gazed at all this for a long time, at last they took heart, and knocked softly at the window. The old woman appeared to have been expecting them; she rose, and called out quite kindly, "Come in, I know you already." When they had entered the room, the old woman said, "You might have spared yourself the long walk, if you had not three years ago unjustly driven away your child, who is so good and lovable. No harm has come to her; for three years she has had to tend the geese; with them she has learnt no evil, but has preserved her purity of heart. You, however, have been sufficiently punished by the misery in which you have lived." Then she went to the chamber and called, "Come out, my little daughter." Thereupon the door opened, and the princess stepped out in her silken garments, with her golden hair and her shining eyes, and it was as if an angel from heaven had entered.
Næppe var hun forsvundet, før greven klatrede ned af træet og skyndte sig efter hende. Han havde ikke gået ret længe, før han i mørket så to skikkelser komme vandrende over engen. Det var kongen og dronningen, som i det fjerne havde set lyset fra den gamles hus og var gået efter det. Greven fortalte dem nu, hvad han havde set ved brønden, og de tvivlede ikke om, at det havde været deres tabte datter. Glade gik de videre og kom snart til det lille hus. Gæssene sad udenfor og sov, med hovedet under vingerne, uden at røre sig. Da de kiggede ind ad vinduet, så de den gamle sidde ganske stille og spinde. Hun vendte sig ikke om, men sad og nikkede med hovedet. Der var så rent i stuen, som om lygtemændene boede der, og de har aldrig støv på fødderne. Men deres datter så de ikke noget til. Da de havde stået og kigget lidt derind, tog de mod til sig og bankede på ruden. Den gamle lod til at have ventet dem, rejste sig og råbte venligt: "Kom kun ind, jeg kender jer godt." Da de var kommet ind i stuen sagde hun: "Den lange vej kunne I have sparet jer, hvis I ikke for tre år siden så uretfærdigt havde forstødt jeres gode, kærlige barn. Hun har ikke taget skade. Hun har i tre år vogtet gæs, men deraf har hun ikke lært noget ondt, hun har bevaret sit rene hjerte. Men I er nu blevet straffet nok ved den angst, I har måttet udstå." Derpå gik hun hen til pigens værelse og kaldte på hende. Og da døren åbnede sig, trådte prinsessen ud i sin silkekjole, med sit gyldne hår og sine strålende øjne, dejlig som en engel fra himlen.

She went up to her father and mother, fell on their necks and kissed them; there was no help for it, they all had to weep for joy. The young count stood near them, and when she perceived him she became as red in the face as a moss-rose, she herself did not know why. The King said, "My dear child, I have given away my kingdom, what shall I give thee?" - "She needs nothing," said the old woman. "I give her the tears that she has wept on your account; they are precious pearls, finer than those that are found in the sea, and worth more than your whole kingdom, and I give her my little house as payment for her services." When the old woman had said that, she disappeared from their sight. The walls rattled a little, and when the King and Queen looked round, the little house had changed into a splendid palace, a royal table had been spread, and the servants were running hither and thither.
Hun faldt sin far og mor om halsen og kyssede dem, og de græd allesammen af glæde. Den unge greve stod ved siden af, og da hun så ham, blev hun blussende rød som en mosrose, hun vidste ikke selv hvorfor. "Hvad skal jeg nu give dig, mit barn," sagde kongen, "jeg har jo givet mit rige bort." - "Hun behøver ikke noget," svarede den gamle, "jeg giver hende de tårer, hun har grædt for eders skyld, det er perler, hvis lige man ikke finder i havet, og de er mere værd end hele eders rige. Og til løn for hendes tjeneste giver jeg hende mit hus." Da den gamle havde sagt det, forsvandt hun. Det knagede og bragede i væggene og pludselig var huset forvandlet til et prægtigt slot, bordet stod dækket og tjenerne løb frem og tilbage.

The story goes still further, but my grandmother, who related it to me, had partly lost her memory, and had forgotten the rest. I shall always believe that the beautiful princess married the count, and that they remained together in the palace, and lived there in all happiness so long as God willed it. Whether the snow-white geese, which were kept near the little hut, were verily young maidens (no one need take offence), whom the old woman had taken under her protection, and whether they now received their human form again, and stayed as handmaids to the young Queen, I do not exactly know, but I suspect it. This much is certain, that the old woman was no witch, as people thought, but a wise woman, who meant well. Very likely it was she who, at the princess's birth, gave her the gift of weeping pearls instead of tears. That does not happen now-a-days, or else the poor would soon become rich.
Historien er længere endnu, men min bedstemor, som har fortalt mig den, havde en svag hukommelse og havde glemt resten. Men jeg er ganske sikker på, at den smukke prinsesse blev gift med greven, og at de har levet lykkeligt sammen der på slottet, så længe Gud har givet dem lov til det. Hvorvidt de snehvide gæs har været piger (der er ingen som behøver at føle sig stødt), som den gamle har taget til sig, og som nu fik deres menneskelige skikkelse igen, og tjente den unge dronning, ved jeg ikke bestemt, men jeg tror det dog. Så meget er vist, at den gamle ikke var en heks, som folk troede, men en klog kone, som var god og hælpsom. Sandsynligvis har det også været hende, der ved prinsessens fødsel gav hende den evne at græde perler i stedet for tårer. Nu til dags sker sådan noget ikke mere, ellers kunne de fattige nemt blive rige.

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