ENGLISH

The nix of the mill-pond

日本語

池にすむ水の妖精


There was once upon a time a miller who lived with his wife in great contentment. They had money and land, and their prosperity increased year by year more and more. But ill-luck comes like a thief in the night, as their wealth had increased so did it again decrease, year by year, and at last the miller could hardly call the mill in which he lived, his own. He was in great distress, and when he lay down after his day's work, found no rest, but tossed about in his bed, full of care. One morning he rose before daybreak and went out into the open air, thinking that perhaps there his heart might become lighter. As he was stepping over the mill-dam the first sunbeam was just breaking forth, and he heard a rippling sound in the pond. He turned round and perceived a beautiful woman, rising slowly out of the water. Her long hair, which she was holding off her shoulders with her soft hands, fell down on both sides, and covered her white body. He soon saw that she was the Nix of the Mill-pond, and in his fright did not know whether he should run away or stay where he was. But the nix made her sweet voice heard, called him by his name, and asked him why he was so sad? The miller was at first struck dumb, but when he heard her speak so kindly, he took heart, and told her how he had formerly lived in wealth and happiness, but that now he was so poor that he did not know what to do. "Be easy," answered the nix, "I will make thee richer and happier than thou hast ever been before, only thou must promise to give me the young thing which has just been born in thy house." - "What else can that be," thought the miller, "but a young puppy or kitten?" and he promised her what she desired. The nix descended into the water again, and he hurried back to his mill, consoled and in good spirits. He had not yet reached it, when the maid-servant came out of the house, and cried to him to rejoice, for his wife had given birth to a little boy. The miller stood as if struck by lightning; he saw very well that the cunning nix had been aware of it, and had cheated him. Hanging his head, he went up to his wife's bedside and when she said, "Why dost thou not rejoice over the fine boy?" he told her what had befallen him, and what kind of a promise he had given to the nix. "Of what use to me are riches and prosperity?" he added, "if I am to lose my child; but what can I do?" Even the relations, who had come thither to wish them joy, did not know what to say. In the meantime prosperity again returned to the miller's house. All that he undertook succeeded, it was as if presses and coffers filled themselves of their own accord, and as if money multiplied nightly in the cupboards. It was not long before his wealth was greater than it had ever been before. But he could not rejoice over it untroubled, for the bargain which he had made with the nix tormented his soul. Whenever he passed the mill-pond, he feared she might ascend and remind him of his debt. He never let the boy himself go near the water. "Beware," he said to him, "if thou dost but touch the water, a hand will rise, seize thee, and draw thee down." But as year after year went by and the nix did not show herself again, the miller began to feel at ease. The boy grew up to be a youth and was apprenticed to a huntsman. When he had learnt everything, and had become an excellent huntsman, the lord of the village took him into his service. In the village lived a beautiful and true-hearted maiden, who pleased the huntsman, and when his master perceived that, he gave him a little house, the two were married, lived peacefully and happily, and loved each other with all their hearts.
One day the huntsman was chasing a roe; and when the animal turned aside from the forest into the open country, he pursued it and at last shot it. He did not notice that he was now in the neighbourhood of the dangerous mill-pond, and went, after he had disembowelled the stag, to the water, in order to wash his blood-stained hands. Scarcely, however, had he dipped them in than the nix ascended, smilingly wound her dripping arms around him, and drew him quickly down under the waves, which closed over him. When it was evening, and the huntsman did not return home, his wife became alarmed. She went out to seek him, and as he had often told her that he had to be on his guard against the snares of the nix, and dared not venture into the neighbourhood of the mill-pond, she already suspected what had happened. She hastened to the water, and when she found his hunting-pouch lying on the shore, she could no longer have any doubt of the misfortune. Lamenting her sorrow, and wringing her hands, she called on her beloved by name, but in vain. She hurried across to the other side of the pond, and called him anew; she reviled the nix with harsh words, but no answer followed. The surface of the water remained calm, only the crescent moon stared steadily back at her. The poor woman did not leave the pond. With hasty steps, she paced round and round it, without resting a moment, sometimes in silence, sometimes uttering a loud cry, sometimes softly sobbing. At last her strength came to an end, she sank down to the ground and fell into a heavy sleep. Presently a dream took possession of her. She was anxiously climbing upwards between great masses of rock; thorns and briars caught her feet, the rain beat in her face, and the wind tossed her long hair about. When she had reached the summit, quite a different sight presented itself to her; the sky was blue, the air soft, the ground sloped gently downwards, and on a green meadow, gay with flowers of every colour, stood a pretty cottage. She went up to it and opened the door; there sat an old woman with white hair, who beckoned to her kindly. At that very moment, the poor woman awoke, day had already dawned, and she at once resolved to act in accordance with her dream. She laboriously climbed the mountain; everything was exactly as she had seen it in the night. The old woman received her kindly, and pointed out a chair on which she might sit. "Thou must have met with a misfortune," she said, "since thou hast sought out my lonely cottage." With tears, the woman related what had befallen her. "Be comforted," said the old woman, "I will help thee. Here is a golden comb for thee. Tarry till the full moon has risen, then go to the mill-pond, seat thyself on the shore, and comb thy long black hair with this comb. When thou hast done, lay it down on the bank, and thou wilt see what will happen." The woman returned home, but the time till the full moon came, passed slowly. At last the shining disc appeared in the heavens, then she went out to the mill-pond, sat down and combed her long black hair with the golden comb, and when she had finished, she laid it down at the water's edge. It was not long before there was a movement in the depths, a wave rose, rolled to the shore, and bore the comb away with it. In not more than the time necessary for the comb to sink to the bottom, the surface of the water parted, and the head of the huntsman arose. He did not speak, but looked at his wife with sorrowful glances. At the same instant, a second wave came rushing up, and covered the man's head. All had vanished, the mill-pond lay peaceful as before, and nothing but the face of the full moon shone on it. Full of sorrow, the woman went back, but again the dream showed her the cottage of the old woman. Next morning she again set out and complained of her woes to the wise woman. The old woman gave her a golden flute, and said, "Tarry till the full moon comes again, then take this flute; play a beautiful air on it, and when thou hast finished, lay it on the sand; then thou wilt see what will happen." The wife did as the old woman told her. No sooner was the flute lying on the sand than there was a stirring in the depths, and a wave rushed up and bore the flute away with it. Immediately afterwards the water parted, and not only the head of the man, but half of his body also arose. He stretched out his arms longingly towards her, but a second wave came up, covered him, and drew him down again. "Alas, what does it profit me?" said the unhappy woman, "that I should see my beloved, only to lose him again!" Despair filled her heart anew, but the dream led her a third time to the house of the old woman. She set out, and the wise woman gave her a golden spinning-wheel, consoled her and said, "All is not yet fulfilled, tarry until the time of the full moon, then take the spinning-wheel, seat thyself on the shore, and spin the spool full, and when thou hast done that, place the spinning-wheel near the water, and thou wilt see what will happen." The woman obeyed all she said exactly; as soon as the full moon showed itself, she carried the golden spinning-wheel to the shore, and span industriously until the flax came to an end, and the spool was quite filled with the threads. No sooner was the wheel standing on the shore than there was a more violent movement than before in the depths of the pond, and a mighty wave rushed up, and bore the wheel away with it. Immediately the head and the whole body of the man rose into the air, in a water-spout. He quickly sprang to the shore, caught his wife by the hand and fled. But they had scarcely gone a very little distance, when the whole pond rose with a frightful roar, and streamed out over the open country. The fugitives already saw death before their eyes, when the woman in her terror implored the help of the old woman, and in an instant they were transformed, she into a toad, he into a frog. The flood which had overtaken them could not destroy them, but it tore them apart and carried them far away. When the water had dispersed and they both touched dry land again, they regained their human form, but neither knew where the other was; they found themselves among strange people, who did not know their native land. High mountains and deep valleys lay between them. In order to keep themselves alive, they were both obliged to tend sheep. For many long years they drove their flocks through field and forest and were full of sorrow and longing. When spring had once more broken forth on the earth, they both went out one day with their flocks, and as chance would have it, they drew near each other. They met in a valley, but did not recognize each other; yet they rejoiced that they were no longer so lonely. Henceforth they each day drove their flocks to the same place; they did not speak much, but they felt comforted. One evening when the full moon was shining in the sky, and the sheep were already at rest, the shepherd pulled the flute out of his pocket, and played on it a beautiful but sorrowful air. When he had finished he saw that the shepherdess was weeping bitterly. "Why art thou weeping?" he asked. "Alas," answered she, "thus shone the full moon when I played this air on the flute for the last time, and the head of my beloved rose out of the water." He looked at her, and it seemed as if a veil fell from his eyes, and he recognized his dear wife, and when she looked at him, and the moon shone in his face she knew him also. They embraced and kissed each other, and no one need ask if they were happy.
昔、妻と一緒に満足して暮らしていた粉屋がいました。二人にはお金と土地があり、財産は年毎にだんだん増えていきました。しかし、不運は夜の泥棒のようにやってくるものです。財産が増えたように、また年毎に減って行き、とうとう住んでいる水車小屋を自分のものだと言えないくらいになりました。粉屋はとても悩んで、仕事を終えて横になっても不安でたまらず、ベッドの上で寝返りをうつばかりでした。

ある朝、粉屋は、夜明け前に起きて、心が軽くなるかもしれないと思い、外に出ていきました。水車ダムの土手を歩いている時、夜明けの最初の光がさしてきました。そして池の中からパシャという音が聞こえてきて振り返ってみると、美しい女がゆっくり水から上がってくるのが見えました。女が柔らかい手で肩からはずした長い髪が、両脇に落ち、白い体をおおいました。粉屋はすぐに、これは池の水の精だとわかり、恐ろしくて、逃げたらいいのか、そこにいた方がいいのかわかりませんでした。しかし、水の精は、甘い声で粉屋の名前を呼び、どうしてそんなに悲しいのかと尋ねました。粉屋は最初口が利けませんでしたが、水の精がとても優しく話すのをきいて、勇気をだし、前は財産があり幸せに暮らしていたが、今はあまりに貧しくてどうしたらいいかわからない、と言いました。「安心しなさい」と水の精は答えました。「これまでになかったほど金持ちで幸せにしてあげましょう。ただし、あなたの家で今産まれたばかりの幼いものを私にくれると約束しなければいけません。」(それは子犬か子猫にちがいない)と粉屋は考え、水の精が望んだものをあげる約束をしました。

水の精はまた水に沈んでいき、粉屋は、上機嫌で元気よく、水車小屋に大急ぎで戻りました。まだ小屋に着かないうちに、家から女中が出て来て、喜んでください、おかみさんが男の子を生みましたよ、と叫びました。粉屋は雷に打たれたように立ち止まりました。ずる賢い水の精はそれを知っていて自分をだましたのだととてもよくわかったのです。頭をたれて、妻のベッドに近づいていくと、妻は「元気な男の子なのにどうして喜ばないの?」と尋ねました。粉屋は妻に、何が起こったか、水の精とどんな約束をしたか、話しました。「金や成功が何の役に立つというのだ?」と粉屋は付け加えました。「もし子供を失くすことになるなら。だけどどうしたらいいのだ?」お祝いを述べに来た親戚の人たちさえも、どう慰めたらいいのかわかりませんでした。

やがて、粉屋の家はまた栄えるようになりました。引き受ける仕事は何でもうまくいき、まるで棚や箱がひとりでにお金をつめていき、お金が戸棚の中で夜毎に増えていってるかのようでした。まもなく粉屋の財産は以前にはなかったほど増えました。しかし粉屋は手放しでそれを喜べませんでした。というのは、水の精とした取引が粉屋の心を苦しめていたからです。粉屋は、池を通るといつも、水の精が上がってきて、借りがあるのを覚えているだろうね、と言いそうな気がしました。粉屋は、子供を水の近くに行かせないで、「注意するんだよ、お前が水に触りさえすれば、手が上がってお前をつかまえ、下にひきずりこむんだからね。」と子供に言いました。しかし、年々過ぎていって水の精が姿をあらわさなかったので、粉屋は気が楽になり始めました。子供は若者になり、猟師のところで修業していました。修業が終わって、腕のいい猟師になったとき、村の名主に仕えることになりました。村に美しく誠実な娘が住んでいて、猟師の気に入りました。主人がそのことに気づいて、猟師に小さな家をやり、二人は結婚し、平和で幸せに暮らし、心からお互いを愛していました。

ある日、猟師はノロジカを追いかけていました。シカが森から外れ、開けたところへ入った時、追いかけていって、とうとう撃つことができました。猟師は今自分が危険な池の近くに来ていると気づいていなかったので、シカの内臓をとったあと、血まみれの手を洗おうと水辺に行きました。しかし、両手を水につけた途端、水の精が上がってきて、笑いながら水の垂れている腕を巻きつけ、素早く波間にひきこみました。波は猟師の上で閉じました。夕方になっても猟師が帰ってこないので、妻は心配になり、捜しにでかけました。猟師が、水の精の罠にはまらないよう警戒して、池の近くには行かないようにしているんだ、とよく話していたので、何がおこったかうすうす勘づきました。

それで妻は池へ急ぎました。岸辺に狩猟袋を見つけたとき、もう災難が起こったことを疑うことができませんでした。嘆き悲しみ、手をもみしだき、愛する人の名前を呼びましたが、無駄でした。急いで池の向こう側に渡り、また夫を呼び、激しい言葉で水の精をののしりましたが、何の返事もかえってきませんでした。水の表面は穏やかなままで、水面に映った三日月だけがしっかり見つめ返してきました。かわいそうな女は池を離れようとしませんでした。一時も休まず急ぎ足で池の周りをぐるぐるまわりながら、黙っていたと思うと大きな叫び声をあげ、時にはすすり泣いていました。とうとう力が尽きて、妻は地面にくずおれると、ぐっすり眠り込みました。まもなく夢をみました。

妻は大きな岩の塊の間をひたすら上に登っていきました。イバラのトゲが足にささり、雨が顔に吹き付け、風が長い髪を乱しました。てっぺんに着くと全く違った景色になり、空は青く、空気はおだやかで、地面はゆるい下り坂になっていて、緑の草地にはさまざまな色の花が咲き乱れきれいな小屋が立っていました。妻はそこに近づき、戸を開けました。すると白髪のおばあさんが座っていて、妻をやさしく手招きしました。

ちょうどそこで可哀そうな女は目が覚め、とっくに夜が明けていて、すぐに夢に合わせてやってみようと思いました。妻は苦労して山に登りました。何もかも全く夜に見た通りでした。おばあさんはやさしく妻を迎えて、椅子を指して座るように言いました。「あんたはきっと災難にあわれたのですね」とおばあさんは言いました。「私の寂しい小屋を探してくるんだからね。」妻はどんなことが起こったか説明しました。「安心おし。さあ金の櫛をあげるよ。満月が昇るまで待って、それから池に行くんだよ。岸に座って、あんたの長い髪をこの櫛ですくんだ。それが終わったら、岸に櫛を置きなさい。そうすればどうなるかわかるよ。」とおばあさんは言いました。

女は家に帰りましたが、なかなか満月になりませんでした。とうとう丸い月が空に輝いたとき妻は池に行き、座って金の櫛で長い黒い髪をとかし、終わった後、池のふちに置きました。まもなく深いところで動きがあり、波が上がって、岸に押し寄せ、櫛をさらっていきました。櫛が底に沈んだ頃と同時に、水面が分かれて、猟師の頭が上がりました。猟師は口を言わず、妻を悲しそうにちらりと見ました。同時に二回目の波がどっと押し寄せてきて、男の頭をおおいました。全て消えてしまい、池は前のように穏やかで、満月の顔だけが水面に輝いていました。悲しみに打ちひしがれて女は帰りました。しかし、また夢をみて、おばあさんの小屋がでてきました。

次の朝、妻はまた出かけて、賢い女の人に自分の悲しみを訴えました。おばあさんは金の笛を渡し、「もう一度満月になるまで待つんだよ。そのときに笛を持って行きなさい。それで美しい曲を吹くんだ。それで終わったら砂の上に笛を置きなさい。そうすればどうなるかわかるよ。」と言いました。

妻はおばあさんに教えてもらった通りにやりました。笛を砂に置いた途端、深いところで動き回る気配がして、波がどっと立ち上り、笛をさらっていきました。その後すぐに水が分かれ、男の頭だけでなく、体の半分も上がってきました。猟師は妻の方へせつなそうに両腕を伸ばしましたが、二回目の波が上って猟師をおおって、また水中へ引き込んでしまいました。「ああ、何の役に立つの?」と惨めな女は言いました。「愛する人を見て、そのあとただ失うだけだなんて。」妻の心はあらたに絶望でいっぱいになりました。しかし、夢を見て、三回目におばあさんの家がでてきました。

妻が出かけると、賢い女の人は金の紡ぎ車を渡し、慰めて、「まだ十分ではないのだよ。満月まで待って、この紡ぎ車を持っていき、岸に座って、糸巻きがいっぱいになるまで紡ぐんだ。それが終わったら、紡ぎ車を水の近くに置きなさい。そうすればどうなるかわかるよ。」と言いました。女は言われた通りにやりました。

満月が出るとすぐ、妻は金の紡ぎ車を岸辺に持って行き、亜麻がなくなり糸巻きが糸でいっぱいになるまで一心に紡ぎました。紡ぎ車を岸辺に置いた途端、池の深いところで前よりも激しい動きがあり、大波が押し寄せてきて、紡ぎ車をさらっていきました。途端に男の頭と体全体が、水柱で、空中に昇りました。猟師は素早く岸に跳んで、妻の手をとると逃げました。しかし二人がほんの少し行くとすぐ、池全体がゴーッと恐ろしい音を立てて盛り上がり、野原の上に流れ出ました。

逃げていた二人はもう目の前の水の深さがわかり、女は恐怖に駆られておばあさんに助けを求めました。そしてすぐに妻はヒキガエルに、夫は蛙に変えられました。二人に追いついた洪水は二人を殺せませんでしたが、引き離し、はるか遠くまで連れ去りました。水がひいてしまい乾いた地面にふれると、二人とも元の人間の姿を取り戻しましたが、どちらも相手がどこにいるのかわかりませんでした。二人は見知らぬ人々の中にいて、その人たちは二人の産まれた国を知りませんでした。高い山々と深い谷が二人の間にあり、生きていくために二人とも羊飼いになるしかありませんでした。

何年もの長い年月、二人は野原や森へ羊の群れを追いながら、悲しさと恋しさでいっぱいでした。春がまた地上にやってきたとき、ある日、二人は羊の群れと一緒にでかけ、偶然にお互いの近くにきていました。二人は谷で会いましたが、お互いを見知りませんでした。しかし、二人は、もう一人ぼっちではなくなったので喜び、それ以来、同じ場所に羊の群れを追っていきました。二人はあまり話しませんでしたが、心がやすまりました。ある夜、満月が空に輝いていて、羊たちはもう休んでいたとき、男の羊飼いはポケットから笛を出し、美しいけれど悲しい曲を吹きました。吹き終わってみると、女の羊飼いが激しく泣いていました。「どうして泣いているの?」と男は尋ねました。「ああ、私が最後に笛でその曲を吹き、愛する人の頭が水からあがったときも、こんな風に満月が輝いていましたわ。」と女は答えました。男は女を見ました。そして、まるで両目からうろこが落ちたように、愛する妻の顔だ、とわかりました。そして女も男を見たとき、月が男の顔を照らし、夫だとわかりました。二人は抱き合ってキスしました。二人が幸せなのは聞くまでもありません。




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