日本語

つむとひとぬいばり

ENGLISH

The spindle, the shuttle, and the needle


昔、まだ小さい子供のころに父親も母親も亡くなった女の子がいました。この子の名付け親が、村のはずれの小さな家にただ一人で住んでいて、糸を紡ぎ、布を織り、服を縫って暮らしをたてていました。そのおばあさんがよるべのないこの子をひきとって、仕事を覚えさせ、あらゆるためになることを教えました。娘が15歳の時、おばあさんが病気になり、子供をベッドのわきに呼んで「娘よ、私はもうすぐ死ぬと思う。お前に小さな家を残していくよ、雨風からお前を守ってくれるからね。それとパンを稼げるように紡錘と杼と針を残していくからね。」と言いました。それから娘の頭に手をのせて娘を祝福すると、「心に神様の愛を持ち続けているんだよ、そうすれば何もかもうまくいくからね。」と言いました。そう言っておばあさんは目を閉じました。おばあさんが土に葬られた時、娘は激しく泣きながら棺のあとについていって弔いました。

そうして、乙女は小さな家にたった一人で住み、よく働き、糸を紡ぎ、布を織り、縫物をしました。やさしいおばあさんの祝福が娘のする何にでもありました。部屋の亜麻はひとりでに増えるように思われ、娘が布や絨毯を織るとかシャツを作ったときはいつも、すぐに買い手が見つかり、たっぷりお金を払ったので、何一つ不自由することはなく、他の人たちに分け与えることさえできました。このころ、王様の息子が花嫁を探して国じゅうを旅していました。王子は貧しい人を選んではいけなくて、裕福な人は妻にしたくありませんでした。それで王子は、「一番貧しくて、同時に一番裕福な人を妻にするつもりだ」と言いました。

王子は乙女が住んでいる村にくると、どこへ行ってもやっているように、「ここで一番裕福でしかも一番貧しい娘は誰ですか?」と尋ねました。人々は最初一番金持ちの娘の名をあげました。「一番貧しいのは」と人々は言いました。「村のはずれにある小さな家に住む娘です。」と言いました。金持ちの娘は家の戸口の前に素晴らしく着飾って座っていました。王子が娘に近づいていくと、娘は立ち上がって、出迎え、ひざを曲げておじぎしました。王子は娘を見て、何も言わず、馬を進めました。王子が貧しい娘の家に来ると、娘は戸口に立っていないで小さな部屋の中に座っていました。王子は馬を止め、糸車に座りせっせと糸を紡いでいる娘を明るい日が射し込んでいる窓から見ました。娘は顔をあげ、王子が覗きこんでいるのがわかると、顔じゅう真っ赤になり、下を向いて糸紡ぎを続けました。そのときに糸が全然むらがなかったかどうかは私は知りませんが、娘は王様の息子が行ってしまうまで糸を紡ぎ続けました。

それから娘は窓のところに行って開け、「この部屋はとても暑いわ。」と言って、王子の帽子についている白い羽根が見分けられなくなるまでずっと見送っていました。そのあと、また部屋の中に座って仕事に戻り、糸紡ぎを続けました。すると、おばあさんが仕事をして座っていたときによく繰り返していた言葉が心に浮かび、これらの言葉を口ずさみました。
「紡錘、私の紡錘、急いで行って、求婚者を家に連れてきて、お願いね。」

するとどうでしょう?紡錘はあっという間に娘の手から飛びだし、戸から出て行きました。娘がびっくりして立ち上がり見送っていると、紡錘が浮かれて野原へ踊っていき、そのあとにきらきらと金の糸を引きずっているのが見えました。そうしてまもなく娘に全く見えなくなってしまいました。もう紡錘が無いので、娘は杼を手にとり、織り機に向かって座り、織り始めました。

ところで、紡錘はずっと踊りながら進んで、ちょうど糸が終わりになったとき、王子のところに着きました。「うん?何だ?」と王子は叫びました。「紡錘はきっと案内したがってるんだろうな。」それで馬の向きを変え、金の糸をたどって戻っていきました。ところが、娘は歌いながら仕事をして座っていました。「杼、私の杼、今日よく織って、私の求婚者を連れてきて、お願いね」

途端に杼は娘の手から飛び出て、戸口に出ていきました。しかし、敷居の前で絨毯を織り出し、その絨毯は誰も目にしたことがないほど美しいものでした。ユリやバラの花が両側に先、真ん中の金の地に緑の枝が伸びて、その下に野うさぎと家うさぎが跳ね、鹿たちがその間から頭をのばしていました。鮮やかな色の鳥たちが枝の上に止まり、歌が聞こえないだけで何も欠けるものがありませんでした。杼があちこち跳ねると、何でもひとりでにできあがっていくように見えました。

杼が逃げていったので、娘は座って縫物を始めました。手に針を握って娘は歌いました。「針、私の針、先のとがった細い針、求婚者を迎える準備をしておくれ。」

すると針は娘の指から飛んで、稲妻のように早く部屋のすみずみまで飛びまわりました。それはまるで目に見えない妖精が働いているようでした。あっという間にテーブルやベンチを緑の布で、椅子をビロウドでおおうと、窓に絹のカーテンを吊るしました。

針が最後の一針を縫い終わるとすぐ、窓から王子の羽根飾りが娘に見えました。紡錘が金の糸でそこへ王子を連れて来たのでした。王子は馬を下り、絨毯の上を歩いて家に入って来ました。部屋に入ると、みすぼらしい服を着た娘が立っていました。しかし、娘はその服の中からたくさんの葉に囲まれたバラの花のように輝き出ていました。「あなたは最も貧しく、そしてまた最も豊かな人です。」と王子は娘に言いました。「一緒にきてください。僕の花嫁にします。」娘は何もいいませんでしたが、王子に手を差し出しました。そこで王子は娘にキスし、一緒に家から出て馬に乗せ、王宮に連れて行きました。それから大喜びで結婚式があげられました。紡錘と杼と針は宝物庫にしまわれ、とても大事にされました。
There was once a girl whose father and mother died while she was still a little child. All alone, in a small house at the end of the village, dwelt her godmother, who supported herself by spinning, weaving, and sewing. The old woman took the forlorn child to live with her, kept her to her work, and educated her in all that is good. When the girl was fifteen years old, the old woman became ill, called the child to her bedside, and said, "Dear daughter, I feel my end drawing near. I leave thee the little house, which will protect thee from wind and weather, and my spindle, shuttle, and needle, with which thou canst earn thy bread." Then she laid her hands on the girl's head, blessed her, and said, "Only preserve the love of God in thy heart, and all will go well with thee." Thereupon she closed her eyes, and when she was laid in the earth, the maiden followed the coffin, weeping bitterly, and paid her the last mark of respect. And now the maiden lived quite alone in the little house, and was industrious, and span, wove, and sewed, and the blessing of the good old woman was on all that she did. It seemed as if the flax in the room increased of its own accord, and whenever she wove a piece of cloth or carpet, or had made a shirt, she at once found a buyer who paid her amply for it, so that she was in want of nothing, and even had something to share with others.
About this time, the son of the King was travelling about the country looking for a bride. He was not to choose a poor one, and did not want to have a rich one. So he said, "She shall be my wife who is the poorest, and at the same time the richest." When he came to the village where the maiden dwelt, he inquired, as he did wherever he went, who was the richest and also the poorest girl in the place? They first named the richest; the poorest, they said, was the girl who lived in the small house quite at the end of the village. The rich girl was sitting in all her splendour before the door of her house, and when the prince approached her, she got up, went to meet him, and made him a low curtsey. He looked at her, said nothing, and rode on. When he came to the house of the poor girl, she was not standing at the door, but sitting in her little room. He stopped his horse, and saw through the window, on which the bright sun was shining, the girl sitting at her spinning-wheel, busily spinning. She looked up, and when she saw that the prince was looking in, she blushed all over her face, let her eyes fall, and went on spinning. I do not know whether, just at that moment, the thread was quite even; but she went on spinning until the King's son had ridden away again. Then she went to the window, opened it, and said, "It is so warm in this room!" but she still looked after him as long as she could distinguish the white feathers in his hat. Then she sat down to work again in her own room and went on with her spinning, and a saying which the old woman had often repeated when she was sitting at her work, came into her mind, and she sang these words to herself, --

"Spindle, my spindle, haste, haste thee away,
And here to my house bring the wooer, I pray."
And what do you think happened? The spindle sprang out of her hand in an instant, and out of the door, and when, in her astonishment, she got up and looked after it, she saw that it was dancing out merrily into the open country, and drawing a shining golden thread after it. Before long, it had entirely vanished from her sight. As she had now no spindle, the girl took the weaver's shuttle in her hand, sat down to her loom, and began to weave.
The spindle, however, danced continually onwards, and just as the thread came to an end, reached the prince. "What do I see?" he cried; "the spindle certainly wants to show me the way!" turned his horse about, and rode back with the golden thread. The girl was, however, sitting at her work singing,

"Shuttle, my shuttle, weave well this day,
And guide the wooer to me, I pray."
Immediately the shuttle sprang out of her hand and out by the door. Before the threshold, however, it began to weave a carpet which was more beautiful than the eyes of man had ever yet beheld. Lilies and roses blossomed on both sides of it, and on a golden ground in the centre green branches ascended, under which bounded hares and rabbits, stags and deer stretched their heads in between them, brightly-coloured birds were sitting in the branches above; they lacked nothing but the gift of song. The shuttle leapt hither and thither, and everything seemed to grow of its own accord.
As the shuttle had run away, the girl sat down to sew. She held the needle in her hand and sang,

"Needle, my needle, sharp-pointed and fine,
Prepare for a wooer this house of mine."
Then the needle leapt out of her fingers, and flew everywhere about the room as quick as lightning. It was just as if invisible spirits were working; they covered tables and benches with green cloth in an instant, and the chairs with velvet, and hung the windows with silken curtains. Hardly had the needle put in the last stitch than the maiden saw through the window the white feathers of the prince, whom the spindle had brought thither by the golden thread. He alighted, stepped over the carpet into the house, and when he entered the room, there stood the maiden in her poor garments, but she shone out from within them like a rose surrounded by leaves. "Thou art the poorest and also the richest," said he to her. "Come with me, thou shalt be my bride." She did not speak, but she gave him her hand. Then he gave her a kiss, led her forth, lifted her on to his horse, and took her to the royal castle, where the wedding was solemnized with great rejoicings. The spindle, shuttle, and needle were preserved in the treasure-chamber, and held in great honour.




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