The three languages



An aged count once lived in Switzerland, who had an only son, but he was stupid, and could learn nothing. Then said the father, "Hark thee, my son, I can get nothing into thy head, let me try as I will. Thou must go from hence, I will give thee into the care of a celebrated master, who shall see what he can do with thee." The youth was sent into a strange town, and remained a whole year with the master. At the end of this time, he came home again, and his father asked, "Now, my son, what hast thou learnt?" - "Father, I have learnt what the dogs say when they bark." - "Lord have mercy on us!" cried the father; "is that all thou hast learnt? I will send thee into another town, to another master." The youth was taken thither, and stayed a year with this master likewise. When he came back the father again asked, "My son, what hast thou learnt?" He answered, "Father, I have learnt what the birds say." Then the father fell into a rage and said, "Oh, thou lost man, thou hast spent the precious time and learnt nothing; art thou not ashamed to appear before mine eyes? I will send thee to a third master, but if thou learnest nothing this time also, I will no longer be thy father." The youth remained a whole year with the third master also, and when he came home again, and his father inquired, "My son, what hast thou learnt?" he answered, "Dear father, I have this year learnt what the frogs croak." Then the father fell into the most furious anger, sprang up, called his people thither, and said, "This man is no longer my son, I drive him forth, and command you to take him out into the forest, and kill him." They took him forth, but when they should have killed him, they could not do it for pity, and let him go, and they cut the eyes and the tongue out of a deer that they might carry them to the old man as a token.
The youth wandered on, and after some time came to a fortress where he begged for a night's lodging. "Yes," said the lord of the castle, "if thou wilt pass the night down there in the old tower, go thither; but I warn thee, it is at the peril of thy life, for it is full of wild dogs, which bark and howl without stopping, and at certain hours a man has to be given to them, whom they at once devour." The whole district was in sorrow and dismay because of them, and yet no one could do anything to stop this. The youth, however, was without fear, and said, "Just let me go down to the barking dogs, and give me something that I can throw to them; they will do nothing to harm me." As he himself would have it so, they gave him some food for the wild animals, and led him down to the tower. When he went inside, the dogs did not bark at him, but wagged their tails quite amicably around him, ate what he set before them, and did not hurt one hair of his head. Next morning, to the astonishment of everyone, he came out again safe and unharmed, and said to the lord of the castle, "The dogs have revealed to me, in their own language, why they dwell there, and bring evil on the land. They are bewitched, and are obliged to watch over a great treasure which is below in the tower, and they can have no rest until it is taken away, and I have likewise learnt, from their discourse, how that is to be done." Then all who heard this rejoiced, and the lord of the castle said he would adopt him as a son if he accomplished it successfully. He went down again, and as he knew what he had to do, he did it thoroughly, and brought a chest full of gold out with him. The howling of the wild dogs was henceforth heard no more; they had disappeared, and the country was freed from the trouble.

After some time he took it into his head that he would travel to Rome. On the way he passed by a marsh, in which a number of frogs were sitting croaking. He listened to them, and when he became aware of what they were saying, he grew very thoughtful and sad. At last he arrived in Rome, where the Pope had just died, and there was great difficulty as to whom they should appoint as his successor. They at length agreed that the person should be chosen as pope who should be distinguished by some divine and miraculous token. And just as that was decided on, the young count entered into the church, and suddenly two snow-white doves flew on his shoulders and remained sitting there. The ecclesiastics recognized therein the token from above, and asked him on the spot if he would be pope. He was undecided, and knew not if he were worthy of this, but the doves counselled him to do it, and at length he said yes. Then was he anointed and consecrated, and thus was fulfilled what he had heard from the frogs on his way, which had so affected him, that he was to be his Holiness the Pope. Then he had to sing a mass, and did not know one word of it, but the two doves sat continually on his shoulders, and said it all in his ear.
从前,有位住在瑞士的老伯爵只有一个儿子,可这儿子傻傻的,什么也学不会。 父亲于是对儿子说:"听着,儿子。我已经尽一切努力教你,可你什么都没学会。我替你找了个有名的导师,你上他那儿去,看他能不能教你点什么。"就这样,年轻人被送到另外一座城市,在那里学了一年。 年底他回到家,父亲问他:"儿子,你这一年学了点什么?""父亲,我学会了狗语。""主啊,可怜可怜我们吧!"父亲叫起来,"这就是你所学的?我要把你送到另一个城市去,另找一位导师。"于是,年轻人又被送去和另一位导师学了一年。 回来时父亲问:"我的孩子,今年你学了点什么?"他回答说:"父亲,我能听懂鸟语了。"父亲大发雷霆:"你这蠢货,竟然一无所获地度过宝贵的时光!你回来就不感到难为情吗?我再为你找个导师,如果你这次还是什么都学不会,我就再没你这儿子了!"
年轻人跟着第三位导师又学了一年。 等回到家,父亲问他:"你学会了什么,儿子?"他回答:"亲爱的父亲,今年我能听懂蛙鸣的含义了。"父亲气得火冒三丈地跳起来对仆人说:"这家伙不再是我儿子,我已经把他赶出去了。我命令你们把他带到森林里去杀了。"
仆人把青年带到森林里,但是不忍心杀他,他把他放了,然后杀了一头鹿,取了眼睛和舌头拿回去禀报伯爵。 青年漫无目的地朝前走,走了很久,终于来到一座城堡。 他请求那里的人让他歇一夜。
"可以,"城堡的主人说,"只要你愿意,就去塔楼里住一夜吧。不过我要警告你:那里很危险,有很多野狗在不停地乱吠乱叫 ,到某个时辰还得给它们一个人吃,倾刻就会把人吃光。 "原来当时整个地区都被这群野狗闹得不得安宁,可又没有办法。年轻人一点也不害怕地说:"就让我去吧,不会有事的。 给点吃的让我去喂它们。 "既然他自己要去,人们便给了他一些喂狗的东西让他去了。
年轻人走进塔楼,那些狗不叫也不闹,友好地摇着尾巴围着他转,吃着他摆在它们跟前的食物,丝毫没有伤害他。 第二天,他毛发无损地平安走出塔楼来对主人说:"那些狗用它们的话告诉我为什么它们会住到这儿来,为什么会为害一方的。它们中了魔法,被迫到这儿来守护塔楼底下的一笔财宝,只有等人们取走财宝时它们才能得到安宁。我还从它们的谈话中了解到怎样才能取出这些财宝。"听到的人无不欣喜万分,主人说只要年轻人做好这件事就认他作儿子。 于是年轻人又来到塔楼,胸有成竹地取出一个装满了金子的箱子。 从此,人们再没听到野狗的嚎叫,也再没见到那些野狗了,这个地方又恢复了原有的宁静。
过了一段时间,年轻人想去罗马。 他路过一片沼泽地,听到许多青蛙在"呱呱"地说话。 他听后沉思起来,感到有些悲伤。 后来他终于到了罗马,原来教皇刚刚去世了,红衣主教们正在为由谁继任教皇发愁。 他们最后决定选一个有神力、能创造奇迹的人继任。 年轻的伯爵这时恰好走进教堂,两只白鸽飞到他肩头就不走了。 教士们认为那是主的意志,当时就问他是否愿意当教皇。 年轻人犹豫着,不知道自己是否配做教皇。 鸽子建议他答应下来,于是他同意了。
接着就是涂油、献祭等一系列宗教仪式。 他在来罗马的路上就听到青蛙们说自己会当上神圣的教皇,他当时大为震惊,这时正好验证了。 轮到他主持做弥撒的时候,他连一个字也不会讲。 两只鸽子就一直坐在他肩头,一句句教给他。

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