The gold-children



There was once a poor man and a poor woman who had nothing but a little cottage, and who earned their bread by fishing, and always lived from hand to mouth. But it came to pass one day when the man was sitting by the water-side, and casting his net, that he drew out a fish entirely of gold. As he was looking at the fish, full of astonishment, it began to speak and said, "Hark you, fisherman, if you will throw me back again into the water, I will change your little hut into a splendid castle." Then the fisherman answered, "Of what use is a castle to me, if I have nothing to eat?" The gold fish continued, "That shall be taken care of, there will be a cupboard in the castle in which, when you open it, shall be dishes of the most delicate meats, and as many of them as you can desire." - "If that be true," said the man, "then I can well do you a favour." - "Yes," said the fish, "there is, however, the condition that you shall disclose to no one in the world, whosoever he may be, whence your good luck has come, if you speak but one single word, all will be over." Then the man threw the wonderful fish back again into the water, and went home. But where his hovel had formerly stood, now stood a great castle. He opened wide his eyes, entered, and saw his wife dressed in beautiful clothes, sitting in a splendid room, and she was quite delighted, and said, "Husband, how has all this come to pass? It suits me very well." - "Yes," said the man, "it suits me too, but I am frightfully hungry, just give me something to eat." Said the wife, "But I have got nothing and don't know where to find anything in this new house." - "There is no need of your knowing," said the man, "for I see yonder a great cupboard, just unlock it." When she opened it, there stood cakes, meat, fruit, wine, quite a bright prospect.
Then the woman cried joyfully, "What more can you want, my dear?" and they sat down, and ate and drank together. When they had had enough, the woman said, "But husband, whence come all these riches?" - "Alas," answered he, "do not question me about it, for I dare not tell you anything; if I disclose it to any one, then all our good fortune will fly." - "Very good," said she, "if I am not to know anything, then I do not want to know anything." However, she was not in earnest; she never rested day or night, and she goaded her husband until in his impatience he revealed that all was owing to a wonderful golden fish which he had caught, and to which in return he had given its liberty. And as soon as the secret was out, the splendid castle with the cupboard immediately disappeared, they were once more in the old fisherman's hut, and the man was obliged to follow his former trade and fish. But fortune would so have it, that he once more drew out the golden fish. "Listen," said the fish, "if you will throw me back into the water again, I will once more give you the castle with the cupboard full of roast and boiled meats; only be firm, for your life's sake don't reveal from whom you have it, or you will lose it all again!" - "I will take good care," answered the fisherman, and threw the fish back into the water. Now at home everything was once more in its former magnificence, and the wife was overjoyed at their good fortune, but curiosity left her no peace, so that after a couple of days she began to ask again how it had come to pass, and how he had managed to secure it. The man kept silence for a short time, but at last she made him so angry that he broke out, and betrayed the secret. In an instant the castle disappeared, and they were back again in their old hut. "Now you have got what you want," said he; "and we can gnaw at a bare bone again." - "Ah," said the woman, "I had rather not have riches if I am not to know from whom they come, for then I have no peace."

The man went back to fish, and after a while he chanced to draw out the gold fish for a third time. "Listen," said the fish, "I see very well that I am fated to fall into your hands, take me home and cut me into six pieces; give your wife two of them to eat, two to your horse and bury two of them in the ground, then they will bring you a blessing." The fisherman took the fish home with him, and did as it had bidden him. It came to pass, however, that from the two pieces that were buried in the ground two golden lilies sprang up, that the horse had two golden foals, and the fisherman's wife bore two children who were made entirely of gold. The children grew up, became tall and handsome, and the lilies and horses grew likewise. Then they said, "Father, we want to mount our golden steeds and travel out in the world." But he answered sorrowfully, "How shall I bear it if you go away, and I know not how it fares with you?" Then they said, "The two golden lilies remain here. By them you can see how it is with us; if they are fresh, then we are in health; if they are withered, we are ill; if they perish, then we are dead." So they rode forth and came to an inn, in which were many people, and when they perceived the gold-children they began to laugh, and jeer. When one of them heard the mocking he felt ashamed and would not go out into the world, but turned back and went home again to his father. But the other rode forward and reached a great forest. As he was about to enter it, the people said, It is not safe for you to ride through, the wood is full of robbers who would treat you badly. You will fare ill, and when they see that you are all of gold, and your horse likewise, they will assuredly kill you.'

But he would not allow himself to be frightened, and said, "I must and will ride through it." Then he took bear-skins and covered himself and his horse with them, so that the gold was no more to be seen, and rode fearlessly into the forest. When he had ridden onward a little he heard a rustling in the bushes, and heard voices speaking together. From one side came cries of, "There is one," but from the other, "Let him go, 'tis an idle fellow, as poor and bare as a church-mouse, what should we gain from him?"

So the gold-child rode joyfully through the forest, and no evil befell him. One day he entered a village wherein he saw a maiden, who was so beautiful that he did not believe that any more beautiful than she existed in the world. And as such a mighty love took possession of him, he went up to her and said, "I love thee with my whole heart, wilt thou be my wife?" He, too, pleased the maiden so much that she agreed and said, "Yes, I will be thy wife, and be true to thee my whole life long." Then they were married, and just as they were in the greatest happiness, home came the father of the bride, and when he saw that his daughter's wedding was being celebrated, he was astonished, and said, "Where is the bridegroom?" They showed him the gold-child, who, however, still wore his bear-skins. Then the father said wrathfully, "A vagabond shall never have my daughter!" and was about to kill him. Then the bride begged as hard as she could, and said, "He is my husband, and I love him with all my heart!" until at last he allowed himself to be appeased. Nevertheless the idea never left his thoughts, so that next morning he rose early, wishing to see whether his daughter's husband was a common ragged beggar. But when he peeped in, he saw a magnificent golden man in the bed, and the cast-off bear-skins lying on the ground. Then he went back and thought, "What a good thing it was that I restrained my anger! I should have committed a great crime." But the gold-child dreamed that he rode out to hunt a splendid stag, and when he awoke in the morning, he said to his wife, "I must go out hunting." She was uneasy, and begged him to stay there, and said, "You might easily meet with a great misfortune," but he answered, "I must and will go."

Thereupon he got up, and rode forth into the forest, and it was not long before a fine stag crossed his path exactly according to his dream. He aimed and was about to shoot it, when the stag ran away. He gave chase over hedges and ditches for the whole day without feeling tired, but in the evening the stag vanished from his sight, and when the gold-child looked round him, he was standing before a little house, wherein was a witch. He knocked, and a little old woman came out and asked, "What are you doing so late in the midst of the great forest?" - "Have you not seen a stag?" - "Yes," answered she, "I know the stag well," and thereupon a little dog which had come out of the house with her, barked at the man violently. "Wilt thou be silent, thou odious toad," said he, "or I will shoot thee dead." Then the witch cried out in a passion, "What! will you slay my little dog?" and immediately transformed him, so that he lay like a stone, and his bride awaited him in vain and thought, "That which I so greatly dreaded, which lay so heavily on my heart, has come upon him!" But at home the other brother was standing by the gold-lilies, when one of them suddenly drooped. "Good heavens!" said he, "my brother has met with some great misfortune! I must away to see if I can possibly rescue him." Then the father said, "Stay here, if I lose you also, what shall I do?" But he answered, "I must and will go forth!"

Then he mounted his golden horse, and rode forth and entered the great forest, where his brother lay turned to stone. The old witch came out of her house and called him, wishing to entrap him also, but he did not go near her, and said, "I will shoot you, if you will not bring my brother to life again." She touched the stone, though very unwillingly, with her forefinger, and he was immediately restored to his human shape. But the two gold-children rejoiced when they saw each other again, kissed and caressed each other, and rode away together out of the forest, the one home to his bride, and the other to his father. The father then said, "I knew well that you had rescued your brother, for the golden lily suddenly rose up and blossomed out again." Then they lived happily, and all prospered with them until their death.
Der var engang en fattig mand og en fattig kone. De levede af at fange fisk og havde ikke andet end fra hånden og i munden. En dag da manden sad nede ved vandet og havde kastet sit net ud, fangede han en fisk, der var helt forgyldt. Da han forundret sad og så på den, gav den sig til at tale: "Hør fisker," sagde den, "kast mig ud igen, så skal jeg forvandle din hytte til et slot." - "Hvad skal jeg med et slot, når jeg ikke har noget at spise," sagde fiskeren. "Det skal jeg også nok sørge for," svarede fisken, "der er et skab inde i slottet, og når du lukker det op, er der fuldt op af den dejligste mad." - "Ja, så kan jeg jo gerne gøre dig den tjeneste," sagde fiskeren. "Der er bare en betingelse," sagde fisken, "du må ikke fortælle et menneske, hvorfra din lykke stammer. Hvis du siger et eneste ord, er det altsammen forbi."

Manden kastede nu den mærkelige fisk ned i vandet igen og gik hjem, og der hvor hans hytte før havde stået, stod der et prægtigt slot. Han gjorde store øjne, og da han gik derind, så han sin kone sidde i en smuk stue i kostbare klæder. Hun var meget glad og sagde: "Hvordan er dog det sket. Det kan jeg rigtignok godt lide." - "Ja, det kan jeg også," sagde manden, "men lad mig nu få noget at spise, jeg er vældig sulten." - "Jeg har ikke noget," svarede konen, "og jeg kan ikke finde noget i dette nye hus." - "Det har ingen nød," sagde manden, "luk engang det store skab derhenne op." Da hun gjorde det, så hun, at der stod kager, kød, frugt og vin som bare ventede på at blive taget. "Hvad kan man ønske mere," råbte konen glad, og de satte sig ned og spiste og drak. "Men hvor kommer dog al den rigdom fra?" spurgte konen, da de var mætte. "Du må ikke spørge mig derom," sagde han, "jeg tør ikke sige det til et menneske, så er hele herligheden forbi." - "Ja, ja," sagde hun, "når jeg ikke skal vide det, kan jeg også godt undvære det." Men det mente hun slet ikke. Hendes nysgerrighed lod hende hverken ro dag eller nat, og hun pinte og plagede sin mand så længe, til han fortalte hende, at det kom altsammen fra en mærkelig gylden fisk, som han havde fanget og givet fri igen. Men ligesom han havde sagt det, forsvandt hele det smukke slot med skabet, og de sad igen i den gamle fiskerhytte.

Manden måtte nu atter tage fat på at fiske, men han var så heldig igen at fange guldfisken. "Hvis du vil kaste mig ud," sagde fisken, "så vil jeg igen give dig slottet og skabet med den gode mad, men vær nu standhaftig og forråd under ingen omstændigheder, hvor du har det fra, ellers er det forbi igen." - "Det skal jeg nok vogte mig for," sagde fiskeren og kastede den ud. Alt stod nu i sin forrige herlighed, og konen var meget lykkelig. Men hendes nysgerrighed lod hende ikke have fred, og efter et par dages forløb begyndte hun at fritte ham ud om, hvordan det var gået til. Manden tav stille en tid lang, men til sidst blev han så ked af hendes plagerier, at han plumpede ud med hemmeligheden. I samme øjeblik forsvandt slottet og de sad i den gamle hytte. "Nu kan du have det så godt," sagde manden, "nu kan vi begynde at suge på labben." - "Jeg vil såmænd hellere være fri for den rigdom," sagde konen, "jeg har alligevel ikke fred, når jeg ikke ved, hvorfra den kommer."

Manden måtte nu ud at fiske, og nogen tid efter fik han igen fat på guldfisken. "Jeg skal nok hele tiden falde i dine hænder," sagde den, "tag mig nu med hjem og skær mig i seks stykker. Giv din kone to, din hest to og grav to ned i jorden, det vil bringe dig lykke." Manden tog fisken med hjem og gjorde, som den havde sagt. Af de to stykker, som var lagt i jorden, voksede to guldliljer, hesten fik to guldføl og fiskerens kone fødte to børn, der var helt gyldne.

Børnene voksede til og blev store og smukke, og liljerne og føllene voksede også. En dag sagde børnene: "Vi vil sætte os på guldhestene, far, og ride ud i den vide verden." - "Hvordan skal jeg holde det ud, når I er borte, og jeg ikke ved, hvordan det går Jer," sagde faderen bedrøvet. "Se på de to guldliljer," svarede de, "hvis de er friske, er vi raske, visner de, er vi syge, og falder de om, er vi døde." De red af sted og kom til en kro, der var helt fuld af mennesker. Da de så guldbørnene gav de sig til at le og gøre nar af dem, og da den ene hørte det, skammede han sig og ville ikke længere, men red hjem til sin far. Den anden drog videre og kom til en stor skov. Folk advarede ham mod at ride derind. "Den er fuld af røvere," sagde de, "de vil gøre jer fortræd, og når de ser, at I og eders hest er gyldne, vil de vel måske slå eder ihjel." Men han lod sig ikke afskrække."Jeg må og skal igennem," sagde han, kastede bjørneskind over sig og hesten, så man ikke kunne se noget af guldet, og red trøstig ind i skoven. Lidt efter hørte han, at det raslede i krattet, og at der var nogen, som talte sammen. "Der kommer en," var der en, som råbte, men så blev der svaret: "Lad ham kun løbe, det er en landstryger. Han er så fattig som en kirkerotte, hvad skal vi stille op med ham." Guldbarnet slap da lykkelig og vel gennem skoven, uden at der skete ham noget ondt.

En dag kom han til en landsby, hvor han så en pige, som var så smuk, at han tænkte, hun måtte være det skønneste i verden. Han blev så forelsket i hende, at han gik hen til hende og sagde: "Jeg elsker dig af hele mit hjerte, vil du være min kone?" Hun holdt også af ham og svarede: "Ja, jeg vil være din kone, og jeg skal blive dig tro, så længe jeg lever." De holdt nu bryllup, og netop som de var allergladest, kom brudens far hjem og blev meget forundret over, at hans datter havde holdt bryllup. "Hvor er brudgommen?" spurgte han, og hun viste ham nu guldbarnet, som havde sit bjørneskind på "Aldrig skal sådan en landstryger få min datter," råbte han rasende og ville myrde ham. Bruden tiggede og bad om skånsel og sagde: "Han er nu en gang min mand og jeg holder af ham." Faderen lod sig da til sidst formilde, men han tænkte stadig over sagen, og næste morgen stod han tidligt op og ville se, om hans datters mand virkelig var sådan en almindelig pjaltet tigger. Men da han kom hen til sengen så han, at der lå en smuk, gylden mand i sengen, og bjørneskindet lå på jorden. "Hvor det er godt, at vreden ikke løb af med mig," tænkte han, "det havde jo været en stor misgerning."

Guldbarnet lå imidlertid og drømte, at han drog på jagt efter en prægtig hjort, og da han vågnede næste morgen, sagde han til sin brud: "Jeg drager på jagt." Hun blev bange og bad ham blive hjemme. "Der kan så let ske en ulykke," sagde hun, men han svarede: "Jeg må og skal af sted." Han drog så ud i skoven, og lidt efter kom der en smuk hjort, ganske som i hans drøm. Han sigtede og ville skyde, men hjorten sprang af sted. Han jagede efter den, over grøfter og gennem krattet hele dagen, uden at blive træt, og om aftenen forsvandt hjorten. Og da han så sig om, opdagede han, at han stod udenfor et lille hus, og der boede en heks. Han bankede på, og en gammel kone kom ud og spurgte: "Hvad vil I så sent herude i den store skov." - "Har I ikke set en hjort?" spurgte han. "Den hjort kender jeg nok," svarede hun, og en lille hund, der var kommet med hende ud, gav sig til at gø heftigt af ham. "Vil du tie stille, dit ondskabsfulde kryb," sagde han, "ellers skyder jeg dig." - "Vil du skyde min hund," råbte heksen rasende og forvandlede ham til en sten. Bruden sad hjemme og ventede og ventede, og da han ikke kom, tænkte hun: "Der er sikkert sket en ulykke. Derfor var jeg så bange og tung om hjertet."

Den anden bror stod imidlertid hjemme og så på guldliljerne, og pludselig faldt den ene om. "Der må være sket en stor ulykke," sagde han, "jeg må af sted og se, om jeg kan frelse ham." - "Bliv her," bad faderen, "hvad skal jeg gøre, hvis jeg også mister dig." Men han ville af sted, satte sig op på guldhesten og kom også til den skov, hvor hans bror lå forvandlet til en sten. Den gamle heks kom ud af huset, kaldte på ham og ville også have fat på ham, men han blev hvor han var. "Hvis du ikke gør min bror levende igen, skyder jeg dig," råbte han. Hvor nødig hun end ville, måtte hun lystre, og i samme øjeblik, hun berørte stenen, blev den til menneske igen. De to brødre omfavnede og kyssede glade hinanden og red sammen ud af skoven, den ene til sin brud, den anden til sin far. "Jeg vidste nok, at du havde frelst din bror," sagde faderen, "den gyldne lilje rejste sig og blomstrer nu igen." De levede nu lykkeligt og godt til deres død.

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