Fitcher's Bird (ENGLISH) - L'uccello strano (ITALIAN)


Fitcher's Bird


L'uccello strano

There was once a wizard who used to take the form of a poor man, and went to houses and begged, and caught pretty girls. No one knew whither he carried them, for they were never seen more. One day he appeared before the door of a man who had three pretty daughters; he looked like a poor weak beggar, and carried a basket on his back, as if he meant to collect charitable gifts in it. He begged for a little food, and when the eldest daughter came out and was just reaching him a piece of bread, he did but touch her, and she was forced to jump into his basket. Thereupon he hurried away with long strides, and carried her away into a dark forest to his house, which stood in the midst of it. Everything in the house was magnificent; he gave her whatsoever she could possibly desire, and said: "My darling, thou wilt certainly be happy with me, for thou hast everything thy heart can wish for." This lasted a few days, and then he said: "I must journey forth, and leave thee alone for a short time; there are the keys of the house; thou mayst go everywhere and look at everything except into one room, which this little key here opens, and there I forbid thee to go on pain of death." He likewise gave her an egg and said: "Preserve the egg carefully for me, and carry it continually about with thee, for a great misfortune would arise from the loss of it." She took the keys and the egg, and promised to obey him in everything. When he was gone, she went all round the house from the bottom to the top, and examined everything. The rooms shone with silver and gold, and she thought she had never seen such great splendour. At length she came to the forbidden door; she wished to pass it by, but curiosity let her have no rest. She examined the key, it looked just like any other; she put it in the keyhole and turned it a little, and the door sprang open. But what did she see when she went in? A great bloody basin stood in the middle of the room, and therein lay human beings, dead and hewn to pieces, and hard by was a block of wood, and a gleaming axe lay upon it. She was so terribly alarmed that the egg which she held in her hand fell into the basin. She got it out and washed the blood off, but in vain, it appeared again in a moment. She washed and scrubbed, but she could not get it out.

It was not long before the man came back from his journey, and the first things which he asked for were the key and the egg. She gave them to him, but she trembled as she did so, and he saw at once by the red spots that she had been in the bloody chamber. "Since thou hast gone into the room against my will," said he, "thou shalt go back into it against thine own. Thy life is ended." He threw her down, dragged her thither by her hair, cut her head off on the block, and hewed her in pieces so that her blood ran on the ground. Then he threw her into the basin with the rest.

"Now I will fetch myself the second," said the wizard, and again he went to the house in the shape of a poor man, and begged. Then the second daughter brought him a piece of bread; he caught her like the first, by simply touching her, and carried her away. She did not fare better than her sister. She allowed herself to be led away by her curiosity, opened the door of the bloody chamber, looked in, and had to atone for it with her life on the wizard's return. Then he went and brought the third sister, but she was clever and crafty. When he had given her the keys and the egg, and had left her, she first put the egg away with great care, and then she examined the house, and at last went into the forbidden room. Alas, what did she behold! Both her sisters lay there in the basin, cruelly murdered, and cut in pieces. But she began to gather their limbs together and put them in order, head, body, arms and legs. And when nothing further was wanting the limbs began to move and unite themselves together, and both the maidens opened their eyes and were once more alive. Then they rejoiced and kissed and caressed each other. On his arrival, the man at once demanded the keys and the egg, and as he could perceive no trace of any blood on it, he said: "Thou hast stood the test, thou shalt be my bride." He now had no longer any power over her, and was forced to do whatsoever she desired. "Oh, very well," said she, "thou shalt first take a basketful of gold to my father and mother, and carry it thyself on thy back; in the meantime I will prepare for the wedding." Then she ran to her sisters, whom she had hidden in a little chamber, and said: "The moment has come when I can save you. The wretch shall himself carry you home again, but as soon as you are at home send help to me." She put both of them in a basket and covered them quite over with gold, so that nothing of them was to be seen, then she called in the wizard and said to him: "Now carry the basket away, but I shall look through my little window and watch to see if thou stoppest on the way to stand or to rest."

The wizard raised the basket on his back and went away with it, but it weighed him down so heavily that the perspiration streamed from his face. Then he sat down and wanted to rest awhile, but immediately one of the girls in the basket cried: "I am looking through my little window, and I see that thou art resting. Wilt thou go on at once?" He thought it was his bride who was calling that to him; and got up on his legs again. Once more he was going to sit down, but instantly she cried: "I am looking through my little window, and I see that thou art resting. Wilt thou go on directly?" And whenever he stood still, she cried this, and then he was forced to go onwards, until at last, groaning and out of breath, he took the basket with the gold and the two maidens into their parents' house.

At home, however, the bride prepared the marriage-feast, and sent invitations to the friends of the wizard. Then she took a skull with grinning teeth, put some ornaments on it and a wreath of flowers, carried it upstairs to the garret-window, and let it look out from thence. When all was ready, she got into a barrel of honey, and then cut the feather-bed open and rolled herself in it, until she looked like a wondrous bird, and no one could recognize her. Then she went out of the house, and on her way she met some of the wedding-guests, who asked:

"O, Fitcher's bird, how com'st thou here?"
"I come from Fitcher's house quite near."
"And what may the young bride be doing?"
"From cellar to garret she's swept all clean,
And now from the window she's peeping, I ween."

At last she met the bridegroom, who was coming slowly back. He, like the others, asked:

"O, Fitcher's bird, how com'st thou here?"
"I come from Fitcher's house quite near."
"And what may the young bride be doing?
"From cellar to garret she's swept all clean,
And now from the window she's peeping, I ween."

The bridegroom looked up, saw the decked-out skull, thought it was his bride, and nodded to her, greeting her kindly. But when he and his guests had all gone into the house, the brothers and kinsmen of the bride, who had been sent to rescue her, arrived. They locked all the doors of the house, that no one might escape, set fire to it, and the wizard and all his crew had to burn.
C'era una volta uno stregone che, prendendo le sembianze di un pover'uomo, andava mendicando di casa in casa e catturava così le belle ragazze. Nessuno sapeva dove le portasse, poiché‚ nessuna faceva ritorno. Un giorno si presentò alla porta di un uomo che aveva tre belle figlie; aveva l'aspetto di un mendicante e portava sulla schiena una gerla, come se volesse riporvi le elemosine. Egli chiese qualcosa da mangiare, e, quando la figlia maggiore uscì per porgergli un tozzo di pane, la sfiorò appena, ed ella dovette saltare nella gerla. Poi se ne andò a grandi passi e se la portò a casa, in mezzo a una buia foresta. Nella casa tutto era splendido ed egli le diede tutto ciò che ella potesse desiderare e disse: -Qui con me starai bene, poiché‚ potrai avere tutto ciò che desideri-. Durò così qualche giorno, poi le disse: -Devo fare un viaggio e lasciarti sola per un po' di tempo. Eccoti le chiavi di casa: puoi andare dappertutto e guardare ogni cosa. Solo una stanza ti è vietata, quella che è aperta da questa chiavicina; ti proibisco di entrarci, pena la vita-. Le diede anche un uovo e disse: -Serbalo con cura e portalo sempre con te: se andasse perso, sarebbe una gran disgrazia-. La ragazza prese le chiavi e l'uovo e promise di far ogni cosa per bene. Ma come egli fu partito, non resistette alla curiosità e, dopo aver girato la casa da cima a fondo, aprì anche la porta proibita. Ma come si spaventò all'entrarvi! In mezzo alla stanza c'era una gran vasca insanguinata e dentro c'erano dei cadaveri squartati. Lo spavento fu così grande che l'uovo le sfuggì di mano e cadde nella vasca. Lo tirò fuori subito e lo ripulì dal sangue, ma invano perché‚ poco dopo ricompariva. Si mise a fregare e a raschiare in tutti i modi, ma non riuscì a toglierlo. Poco dopo lo stregone ritornò dal suo viaggio e disse: -Ridammi le chiavi e l'uovo-. Ella glieli porse tremando e, dalle macchie rosse, egli capì subito che era stata nella camera del sangue. Allora disse: -Ci sei andata contro la mia volontà; ora ci andrai contro la tua. Hai finito di vivere-. Poi l'afferrò, la trascinò nella stanza e la fece a pezzi, facendone scorrere il sangue sul pavimento. Dopo la gettò nella vasca insieme alle altre. -Adesso mi prenderò la seconda- disse lo stregone, e assumendo le sembianze di un pover'uomo ritornò a elemosinare davanti alla casa. La seconda fanciulla gli portò un pezzo di pane e, come aveva fatto con la prima, se ne impadronì sfiorandola appena, la portò via e la uccise nella camera del sangue, poiché‚ anch'essa aveva osato aprirla. Così andò a prendersi anche la terza sorella e se la portò a casa.
Questa però era accorta e astuta. Quando lo stregone partì, dopo averle dato le chiavi e l'uovo, per prima cosa andò a mettere questo al sicuro, poi si recò nella camera proibita. Ah, cosa vide! Le sue care sorelle giacevano entrambe nella vasca miseramente assassinate! Ma ella le sollevò, raccolse le loro membra e le ricompose: testa, tronco, braccia, gambe. Quando furono tutte ricomposte: incominciarono a muoversi e si ricongiunsero, e le due fanciulle aprirono gli occhi e ritornarono in vita. Allora, piene di gioia, si baciarono e si abbracciarono, ma la più giovane le condusse fuori e le nascose. Quando lo stregone ritornò volle che la ragazza gli mostrasse le chiavi e l'uovo e, non potendo scorgervi traccia di sangue, disse: -Hai superato la prova, sarai la mia sposa-. -Sì- rispose ella -ma prima devi promettermi che porterai una cesta colma di oro ai miei genitori, e devi portarla tu stesso sulle tue spalle; nel frattempo io preparerò le nozze.- Poi andò nella sua cameretta dove aveva nascosto le sorelle e disse: -Vi metterò in salvo ma, come sarete a casa, mandatemi aiuto-. Allora le mise entrambe in un cesto e le ricoprì d'oro, così da nasconderle completamente. Infine chiamò lo stregone e disse: -Adesso porta via la cesta; e io starò a guardarti dalla mia finestrina, perché‚ non ti fermi a riposare per strada!-. Lo stregone si caricò la cesta sulle spalle e si mise in cammino, ma la cesta gli pesava tanto che gli grondava il sudore dalla faccia, e credeva di cader morto per il gran peso. Allora volle riposarsi un po', ma subito una gridò dal cesto: -Vedo dalla mia finestrina che ti riposi; va' avanti subito!-. Egli credette che fosse la sua sposa a parlare, e si rimise a camminare. Poco dopo volle sedersi nuovamente ma di nuovo la fanciulla gridò: -Vedo dalla mia finestrina che ti riposi; va' avanti subito!-. E ogni volta che si fermava, la fanciulla gridava, ed egli doveva andare avanti finché‚, senza fiato, depose la cesta con l'oro e le due fanciulle a casa dei loro genitori. Nel frattempo la sposa preparava la festa nuziale. Prese un teschio ghignante, l'adornò e lo portò davanti all'abbaino, come se guardasse fuori. Poi, dopo aver invitato alla festa gli amici dello stregone, si cacciò in un barilotto di miele, tagliò il materasso e ci si avvoltolò, così da sembrare uno strano uccello e in modo da non essere riconosciuta. Uscì di casa e, per via, incontrò una parte degli invitati che le chiesero:-Da dove vieni bizzarro uccellino?- -Da un nido di piume qui vicino.- -La bella sposa a che s'è dedicata?- -Alla casetta: l'ha pulita e spazzata, ora alla finestra se ne sta affacciata.-Poi incontrò lo sposo, che se ne stava ritornando a casa, e anch'egli le domandò:-Da dove vieni bizzarro uccellino?- -Da un nido di piume qui vicino.- -La bella sposa a che s'è dedicata?- -Alla casetta: l'ha pulita e spazzata, ora alla finestra se ne sta affacciata.-Lo sposo alzò lo sguardo e vide il teschio tutto agghindato. Pensando che fosse la sua sposa le fece un cenno con il capo e la salutò cordialmente. Ma era appena entrato in casa con i suoi ospiti che arrivarono i parenti della sposa, mandati in suo soccorso. Chiusero tutte le porte perché‚ nessuno potesse scappare e appiccarono il fuoco alla casa. Così lo stregone dovette bruciare con tutta la sua gentaglia.

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