King Thrushbeard


Il re Bazza di Tordo

A King had a daughter who was beautiful beyond all measure, but so proud and haughty withal that no suitor was good enough for her. She sent away one after the other, and ridiculed them as well.
Once the King made a great feast and invited thereto, from far and near, all the young men likely to marry. They were all marshalled in a row according to their rank and standing; first came the kings, then the grand-dukes, then the princes, the earls, the barons, and the gentry. Then the King's daughter was led through the ranks, but to every one she had some objection to make; one was too fat, "The wine-cask," she said. Another was too tall, "Long and thin has little in." The third was too short, "Short and thick is never quick." The fourth was too pale, "As pale as death." The fifth too red, "A fighting-cock." The sixth was not straight enough, "A green log dried behind the stove."

So she had something to say against every one, but she made herself especially merry over a good king who stood quite high up in the row, and whose chin had grown a little crooked. "Well," she cried and laughed, "he has a chin like a thrush's beak!" and from that time he got the name of King Thrushbeard.

But the old King, when he saw that his daugher did nothing but mock the people, and despised all the suitors who were gathered there, was very angry, and swore that she should have for her husband the very first beggar that came to his doors.

A few days afterwards a fiddler came and sang beneath the windows, trying to earn a small alms. When the King heard him he said, "Let him come up." So the fiddler came in, in his dirty, ragged clothes, and sang before the King and his daughter, and when he had ended he asked for a trifling gift. The King said, "Your song has pleased me so well that I will give you my daughter there, to wife."

The King's daughter shuddered, but the King said, "I have taken an oath to give you to the very first beggar-man, and I will keep it." All she could say was in vain; the priest was brought, and she had to let herself be wedded to the fiddler on the spot. When that was done the King said, "Now it is not proper for you, a beggar-woman, to stay any longer in my palace, you may just go away with your husband."

The beggar-man led her out by the hand, and she was obliged to walk away on foot with him. When they came to a large forest she asked, "To whom does that beautiful forest belong?" - "It belongs to King Thrushbeard; if you had taken him, it would have been yours." - "Ah, unhappy girl that I am, if I had but taken King Thrushbeard!"

Afterwards they came to a meadow, and she asked again, "To whom does this beautiful green meadow belong?" - "It belongs to King Thrushbeard; if you had taken him, it would have been yours." - "Ah, unhappy girl that I am, if I had but taken King Thrushbeard!"

Then they came to a large town, and she asked again, "To whom does this fine large town belong?" - "It belongs to King Thrushbeard; if you had taken him, it would have been yours." - "Ah, unhappy girl that I am, if I had but taken King Thrushbeard!"

"It does not please me," said the fiddler, "to hear you always wishing for another husband; am I not good enough for you?" At last they came to a very little hut, and she said, "Oh goodness! what a small house; to whom does this miserable, mean hovel belong?" The fiddler answered, "That is my house and yours, where we shall live together."

She had to stoop in order to go in at the low door. "Where are the servants?" said the King's daughter. "What servants?" answered the beggar-man; "you must yourself do what you wish to have done. Just make a fire at once, and set on water to cook my supper, I am quite tired." But the King's daughter knew nothing about lighting fires or cooking, and the beggar-man had to lend a hand himself to get anything fairly done. When they had finished their scanty meal they went to bed; but he forced her to get up quite early in the morning in order to look after the house.

For a few days they lived in this way as well as might be, and came to the end of all their provisions. Then the man said, "Wife, we cannot go on any longer eating and drinking here and earning nothing. You weave baskets." He went out, cut some willows, and brought them home. Then she began to weave, but the tough willows wounded her delicate hands.

"I see that this will not do," said the man; "you had better spin, perhaps you can do that better." She sat down and tried to spin, but the hard thread soon cut her soft fingers so that the blood ran down. "See," said the man, "you are fit for no sort of work; I have made a bad bargain with you. Now I will try to make a business with pots and earthenware; you must sit in the market-place and sell the ware." - "Alas," thought she, "if any of the people from my father's kingdom come to the market and see me sitting there, selling, how they will mock me?" But it was of no use, she had to yield unless she chose to die of hunger.

For the first time she succeeded well, for the people were glad to buy the woman's wares because she was good-looking, and they paid her what she asked; many even gave her the money and left the pots with her as well. So they lived on what she had earned as long as it lasted, then the husband bought a lot of new crockery. With this she sat down at the corner of the market-place, and set it out round about her ready for sale. But suddenly there came a drunken hussar galloping along, and he rode right amongst the pots so that they were all broken into a thousand bits. She began to weep, and did now know what to do for fear. "Alas! what will happen to me?" cried she; "what will my husband say to this?"

She ran home and told him of the misfortune. "Who would seat herself at a corner of the market-place with crockery?" said the man; "leave off crying, I see very well that you cannot do any ordinary work, so I have been to our King's palace and have asked whether they cannot find a place for a kitchen-maid, and they have promised me to take you; in that way you will get your food for nothing."

The King's daughter was now a kitchen-maid, and had to be at the cook's beck and call, and do the dirtiest work. In both her pockets she fastened a little jar, in which she took home her share of the leavings, and upon this they lived.

It happened that the wedding of the King's eldest son was to be celebrated, so the poor woman went up and placed herself by the door of the hall to look on. When all the candles were lit, and people, each more beautiful than the other, entered, and all was full of pomp and splendour, she thought of her lot with a sad heart, and cursed the pride and haughtiness which had humbled her and brought her to so great poverty.

The smell of the delicious dishes which were being taken in and out reached her, and now and then the servants threw her a few morsels of them: these she put in her jars to take home.

All at once the King's son entered, clothed in velvet and silk, with gold chains about his neck. And when he saw the beautiful woman standing by the door he seized her by the hand, and would have danced with her; but she refused and shrank with fear, for she saw that it was King Thrushbeard, her suitor whom she had driven away with scorn. Her struggles were of no avail, he drew her into the hall; but the string by which her pockets were hung broke, the pots fell down, the soup ran out, and the scraps were scattered all about. And when the people saw it, there arose general laughter and derision, and she was so ashamed that she would rather have been a thousand fathoms below the ground. She sprang to the door and would have run away, but on the stairs a man caught her and brought her back; and when she looked at him it was King Thrushbeard again. He said to her kindly, "Do not be afraid, I and the fiddler who has been living with you in that wretched hovel are one. For love of you I disguised myself so; and I also was the hussar who rode through your crockery. This was all done to humble your proud spirit, and to punish you for the insolence with which you mocked me."

Then she wept bitterly and said, "I have done great wrong, and am not worthy to be your wife." But he said, "Be comforted, the evil days are past; now we will celebrate our wedding." Then the maids-in-waiting came and put on her the most splendid clothing, and her father and his whole court came and wished her happiness in her marriage with King Thrushbeard, and the joy now began in earnest. I wish you and I had been there too.
Un re aveva una figlia di straordinaria bellezza, ma molto altera e sdegnosa, sicché‚ nessun pretendente le pareva degno di lei, ed ella li respingeva l'uno dopo l'altro, deridendoli per giunta. Una volta il re ordinò una gran festa e invitò quanti desiderassero ammogliarsi. I pretendenti furono messi in fila secondo il grado e il ceto: prima i re, poi i duchi, i principi, i conti e i baroni, e infine i nobili. La principessa fu condotta fra di loro, ma a ciascuno trovava qualcosa da ridire: questo era troppo grasso: -Che botte!- esclamava; quello era troppo lungo: -Lungo, lungo, alto fin là, bella andatura proprio non ha!-; il terzo troppo piccolo: -Così grasso e piccolino, sembra proprio un maialino!-; il quarto troppo pallido: -Terreo come la morte!-; il quinto troppo rosso: -Che tacchino!-; il sesto non era perfettamente diritto: -Legna verde seccata dietro la stufa!-. E così trovava sempre qualcosa da ridire su ciascuno; ma in particolare beffeggiò un buon re che si trovava in prima fila e aveva il mento un po' ricurvo. -Oh- esclamò ridendo -quello ha il mento come il becco di un tordo!- E da quel momento lo chiamarono Bazza di Tordo. Ma il vecchio re andò in collera vedendo che la figlia non faceva altro che prendersi gioco dei pretendenti là riuniti, sdegnandoli, e giurò di darla in moglie al primo mendicante che bussasse alla sua porta. Qualche giorno più tardi un suonatore si mise a cantare sotto la finestra per avere una piccola elemosina. Quando il re l'udì, disse: -Fatelo salire!-. Entrò un suonatore lurido e cencioso, cantò davanti al re e a sua figlia e, quand'ebbe finito, domandò una modesta ricompensa. Il re disse: -Il tuo canto mi è così piaciuto che voglio darti mia figlia in isposa-. La principessa inorridì, ma il re disse: -Ho fatto giuramento di darti al primo accattone e lo manterrò-. A nulla valsero le proteste: fu chiamato il parroco ed ella dovette sposare il suonatore. Celebrate le nozze, il re disse: -Non si confà che la moglie di un mendicante abiti nel mio castello, non hai che da andartene con tuo marito-. Il mendicante se ne andò così insieme a lei. Arrivarono in un grande bosco ed ella domandò:-Questo bel bosco a chi appartiene?- -Bazza di Tordo in suo poter lo tiene. Sarebbe tuo non l'avessi rifiutato.- -Povera me, or tutto ho ricordato, come vorrei che ciò non fosse stato!-Poi attraversarono un bel prato ed ella chiese ancora:-Questo prato verde a chi appartiene?- -Bazza di Tordo in suo poter lo tiene. Sarebbe tuo non l'avessi rifiutato.- -Povera me, or tutto ho ricordato, come vorrei che ciò non fosse stato!-Giunsero poi in una gran città ed ella tornò a domandare:-Che prospera città! A chi appartiene?- -Bazza di Tordo in suo poter la tiene. Sarebbe tuo non l'avessi rifiutato.- -Povera me, or tutto ho ricordato, come vorrei che ciò non fosse stato!-Allora il suonatore disse: -Non mi garba affatto che tu rimpianga sempre un altro marito; non ti basto io, forse?-. Finalmente giunsero ad una piccola casetta, ed ella disse:-Ah, Dio mio! Che casa piccina! A chi appartiene la povera casina?-Il suonatore rispose: -E' la mia casa e la tua, dove abiteremo insieme-. -Dove sono i servi?- chiese la principessa. -macché‚ servi!- rispose il mendicante -devi farti da sola ciò che vuoi. Accendi subito il fuoco e metti l'acqua a bollire per la cena: sono stanco morto.- Ma la principessa non sapeva n‚ accendere il fuoco n‚ cucinare, e il mendicante dovette darle una mano perché‚ potesse cavarsela. Quand'ebbero mangiato il pasto frugale, si coricarono ma, il mattino dopo, egli la buttò fuori dal letto di buon'ora perché‚ sbrigasse le faccende di casa. Per un paio di giorni vissero così alla meno peggio e consumarono le loro provviste. Poi l'uomo disse: -Moglie, non possiamo continuare così, a mangiare senza guadagnare. Farai dei canestri-. Andò a tagliare dei giunchi e li portò a casa; ella incominciò a intrecciarli, ma i giunchi duri le ferivano le mani delicate. -Vedo che non va- disse l'uomo. -Fila piuttosto forse ti riesce meglio.- Ella si mise a sedere e cercò di filare; ma il filo duro le tagliò ben presto le tenere dita facendole sanguinare. -Vedi- disse l'uomo -non sei buona a nulla: con te sono capitato male. Be', voglio provare a commerciare in pentole e stoviglie di terra: venderai la merce al mercato- "Ah," pensò la principessa "se viene al mercato gente dal regno di mio padre, e mi vede seduta a vendere, si farà beffe di me!" Ma non c'era via d'uscita, dovette andarci se non voleva morir di fame. La prima volta andò bene: per la sua grande bellezza, la gente comprava volentieri la sua merce e pagava ciò che ella chiedeva; molti le diedero addirittura il denaro lasciandole le pentole. Tirarono avanti con quel guadagno finché‚ durò, poi l'uomo acquistò un altro mucchio di stoviglie. Ella si mise a sedere in un angolo del mercato ed espose la merce in vendita intorno a s‚. Ma improvvisamente arrivò al galoppo un ussaro ubriaco che finì con il cavallo proprio fra le pentole, mandandole in mille pezzi. Ella si mise a piangere e per l'affanno non sapeva che fare. -Ah, che sarà di me!- esclamò. -Cosa dirà mio marito!- Corse a casa e gli raccontò l'accaduto. -Chi mai va a sedersi all'angolo del mercato con stoviglie di terra!- disse l'uomo. -Smettila di piangere, vedo bene che non sei buona a nulla. Proprio per questo sono stato al castello del nostro re e ho domandato se aveva bisogno di una sguattera; mi hanno promesso che ti prenderanno, in cambio ti daranno da mangiare.- Così la principessa diventò sguattera; dovette aiutare il cuoco ed eseguire i lavori più faticosi. A ogni tasca fissava un pentolino per portare a casa gli avanzi; e così campavano. Ora avvenne che si dovevano celebrare le nozze del figlio primogenito del re; la povera donna salì le scale e si mise davanti alla porta della sala per guardare. Fra tanto lusso e splendore, ella pensava tutta afflitta al suo destino e malediva la superbia e l'arroganza che l'avevano precipitata in tanta miseria. Ogni tanto i servi le buttavano qualche avanzo dei piatti deliziosi che venivano serviti, ed ella li metteva nei suoi pentolini per portarli a casa. D'un tratto entrò il principe tutto vestito d'oro e, quando vide la bella donna sulla porta, la prese per mano e voleva ballare con lei. Ma lei rifiutò, spaventata, poiché‚ riconobbe il re Bazza di Tordo, il pretendente che aveva respinto e dileggiato. Mentre ella faceva resistenza, il principe la tirò nella sala; così si ruppe il cordino da cui pendevano le tasche: i pentolini caddero a terra facendo colar fuori la minestra e gli avanzi si sparsero qua e là. A quella vista, tutti scoppiarono a ridere, sbeffeggiandola; ed ella si vergognò tanto che avrebbe preferito essere mille braccia sotto terra. Corse alla porta e voleva fuggire, ma sulle scale un uomo la raggiunse e la riportò indietro. E quando ella lo guardò, vide che era di nuovo il re Bazza di Tordo. -Non aver paura- le disse questi -io e il suonatore che abitava con te nella misera casetta siamo la stessa persona: per amor tuo mi sono travestito così: e sono anche l'ussaro che ti ha spezzato le stoviglie. Tutto ciò è accaduto per spezzare il tuo orgoglio e per punire l'arroganza con la quale ti sei presa gioco di me. Ma ora tutto è finito, e adesso festeggeremo le nostre nozze.- Allora vennero le ancelle e le fecero indossare le vesti più sontuose, e venne il padre della principessa con tutta la corte per farle gli auguri per il suo sposalizio con il re Bazza di Tordo; e la vera festa incominciò solo allora. Se io e te ci fossimo stati!

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