The pack of ragamuffins



The cock once said to the hen, "It is now the time when our nuts are ripe, so let us go to the hill together and for once eat our fill before the squirrel takes them all away." - "Yes," replied the hen, "come, we will have some pleasure together." Then they went away to the hill, and on it was a bright day they stayed till evening. Now I do not know whether it was that they had eaten till they were too fat, or whether they had become proud, but they would not go home on foot, and the cock had to build a little carriage of nut-shells. When it was ready, the little hen seated herself in it and said to the cock, "Thou canst just harness thyself to it." - "I like that!" said the cock, "I would rather go home on foot than let myself be harnessed to it; no, that is not our bargain. I do not mind being coachman and sitting on the box, but drag it myself I will not."

As they were thus disputing, a duck quacked to them, "You thieving folks, who bade you go to my nut-hill? Well, you shall suffer for it!" and ran with open beak at the cock. But the cock also was not idle, and fell boldly on the duck, and at last wounded her so with his spurs that she also begged for mercy, and willingly let herself be harnessed to the carriage as a punishment. The little cock now seated himself on the box and was coachman, and thereupon they went off in a gallop, with "Duck, go as fast as thou canst." When they had driven a part of the way they met two foot-passengers, a pin and a needle. They cried, "Stop! stop!" and said that it would soon be as dark as pitch, and then they could not go a step further, and that it was so dirty on the road, and asked if they could not get into the carriage for a while. They had been at the tailor's public- house by the gate, and had stayed too long over the beer. As they were thin people, who did not take up much room, the cock let them both get in, but they had to promise him and his little hen not to step on their feet. Late in the evening they came to an inn, and as they did not like to go further by night, and as the duck also was not strong on her feet, and fell from one side to the other, they went in. The host at first made many objections, his house was already full, besides he thought they could not be very distinguished persons; but at last, as they made pleasant speeches, and told him that he should have the egg which the little hen has laid on the way, and should likewise keep the duck, which laid one every day, he at length said that they might stay the night. And now they had themselves well served, and feasted and rioted. Early in the morning, when day was breaking, and every one was asleep, the cock awoke the hen, brought the egg, pecked it open, and they ate it together, but they threw the shell on the hearth. Then they went to the needle which was still asleep, took it by the head and stuck it into the cushion of the landlord's chair, and put the pin in his towel, and at the last without more ado they flew away over the heath. The duck who liked to sleep in the open air and had stayed in the yard, heard them going away, made herself merry and found a stream, down which she swam, which was a much quicker way of travelling than being harnessed to a carriage. The host did not get out of bed for two hours after this; he washed himself and wanted to dry himself, then the pin went over his face and made a red streak from one ear to the other. After this he went into the kitchen and wanted to light a pipe, but when he came to the hearth the egg-shell darted into his eyes. "This morning everything attacks my head, " said he, and angrily sat down on his grandfather's chair, but he quickly started up again and cried, "Woe is me, " for the needle had pricked him still worse than the pin, and not in the head. Now he was thoroughly angry, and suspected the guests who had come so late the night before, and when he went and looked about for them, they were gone. Then he made a vow to take no more ragamuffins into his house, for they consume much, pay for nothing, and play mischievous tricks into the bargain by way of gratitude.
有一次,公鸡对母鸡说:"现在正是核桃成熟的时候,我们要趁着松鼠还没有把核桃全部吃完,赶紧进山去吃个够。""对呀,"母鸡答道,"走吧,我们可以好好地享受享受。"它们于是就上了山,而且因为天气晴朗,一直在山上呆到天黑。 不知道它们究竟是因为吃多了撑着呢,还是因为它们突然变得心高气傲起来,它们竟然不愿意步行回家。 公鸡用核桃壳做了一辆小车。 车子做好后,小母鸡坐了上去对公鸡说:"你只管在前面拉车吧。""让我拉车?"公鸡嚷了起来,"我宁愿步行回家也不愿意拉车。不行,我决不答应!要我坐在车上当个车夫还可以,可要我拉车,这根本不可能。"
就在它们这样争论的时候,一只鸭子嘎嘎嘎地叫着对它们说:"你们这两个小偷,是谁同意你们上我的核桃山的?等着,我要让你们吃点苦头!"它说着便张开阔嘴,向公鸡扑过去。 但是公鸡并非等闲之辈,毫不示弱地向鸭子反击,对着鸭子猛踢猛蹬,弄得鸭子只好低头求饶,并且愿意接受惩罚,给它们拉车。 小公鸡坐在车夫的位子上,高高地叫了一声:"鸭子,尽量给我跑快点!"小车便飞快地向前驶去。 他们走了一程后,遇到了两个赶路的,一个是大头针,一个是缝衣针。 "停一停,停一停!"它俩喊道。 然后又说,天快要黑了,它们寸步难行,而且路上又脏得要命,所以问能不能搭一会儿车。 它俩还说,它们在城门口裁缝们常去的酒店里喝啤酒,结果呆得太晚了。 由于它俩都骨瘦如柴,占不了多少位子,公鸡便让它们上了车,条件是要它们保证不踩到它和母鸡的脚。 天黑了很久以后,它们来到了一家旅店前。 它们不愿意在黑夜里继续赶路,再加上鸭子的脚力又不行,跑起来已经是左摇右摆,它们便进了店里。 店主人起初提出了许多异议,说什么店已经住满了,而且他觉得它们不是什么高贵的客人。 可它们说了很多好话,说要把小母鸡在路上生的鸡蛋给他,还把每天能生一只蛋的鸭子留给他,他终于答应让它们在店里过夜。 第二天清早,天刚蒙蒙亮,大家都还在睡梦中,公鸡却叫醒了母鸡,取出那只鸡蛋,把它啄破,和母鸡一起把蛋吃进了肚子,再把蛋壳扔进火炉。 然后,它们来到还在沉睡的缝衣针旁,抓住它的脑袋,把它插进店老板椅子的坐垫中,又把大头针插在店老板的毛巾里。 做完这些后,公鸡和母鸡便飞快地逃走了。 鸭子因为喜欢睡在露天,所以晚上一直呆在院子里,没有进屋。 它听到公鸡和母鸡逃跑了,心里万分高兴。 它找到一条小溪,顺着它游了下去--这种旅行的方法当然要比拉车快多了。 几个小时之后,店老板才起来。 他洗了洗脸,准备用毛巾擦一擦,结果大头针从他的脸上划过,在他的脸上留下了一道直至耳根的长长的血印。 他走进厨房,想点燃烟斗,可当他走到火炉旁时,鸡蛋壳从火炉里蹦了出来,碰到了他的眼睛。 "今天早晨好像什么都跟我过不去。"他说,同时气呼呼地在他爷爷留给他的椅子上坐了下来。 可他立刻又跳了起来,而且叫着:"哎哟!哎哟!"那缝衣针虽然没有扎着他的脸,却比大头针扎得更厉害。 他现在真的气坏了,不由得怀疑起昨天很晚才住进店来的那帮客人。 他去找它们,结果发现它们早已逃得无影无踪了。 他于是发誓说,他的店里今后决不再接待任何二流子,因为这帮家伙吃得多,不付一分钱,而且还忘恩负义地对你做恶作剧。

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