The three little birds


De tre små fugle

About a thousand or more years ago, there were in this country nothing but small kings, and one of them who lived on the Keuterberg was very fond of hunting. Once on a time when he was riding forth from his castle with his huntsmen, three girls were watching their cows upon the mountain, and when they saw the King with all his followers, the eldest girl pointed to him, and called to the two other girls, "If I do not get that one, I will have none." Then the second girl answered from the other side of the hill, and pointed to the one who was on the King's right hand, "Hilloa! hilloa! If I do not get him, I will have no one." These, however, were the two ministers. The King heard all this, and when he had come back from the chase, he caused the three girls to be brought to him, and asked them what they had said yesterday on the mountain. This they would not tell him, so the King asked the eldest if she really would take him for her husband? Then she said, "Yes," and the two ministers married the two sisters, for they were all three fair and beautiful of face, especially the Queen, who had hair like flax. But the two sisters had no children, and once when the King was obliged to go from home he invited them to come to the Queen in order to cheer her, for she was about to bear a child. She had a little boy who brought a bright red star into the world with him. Then the two sisters said to each other that they would throw the beautiful boy into the water. When they had thrown him in (I believe it was into the Weser) a little bird flew up into the air, which sang ,
"To thy death art thou sped,
Until God's word be said.
In the white lily bloom,
Brave boy, is thy tomb."
When the two heard that, they were frightened to death, and ran away in great haste. When the King came home they told him that the Queen had been delivered of a dog. Then the King said, "What God does, is well done!" But a fisherman who dwelt near the water fished the little boy out again while he was still alive, and as his wife had no children, they reared him. When a year had gone by, the King again went away, and the Queen had another little boy, whom the false sisters likewise took and threw into the water. Then up flew a little bird again and sang,
"To thy death art thou sped,
Until God's word be said.
In the white lily bloom,
Brave boy, is thy tomb."
And when the King came back, they told him that the Queen had once more given birth to a dog, and he again said, "What God does, is well done." The fisherman, however, fished this one also out of the water, and reared him.
Then the King again journeyed forth, and the Queen had a little girl, whom also the false sisters threw into the water. Then again a little bird flew up on high and sang,

"To thy death art thou sped
Until God's word be said.
In the white lily bloom,
Bonny girl, is thy tomb."
And when the King came home they told him that the Queen had been delivered of a cat. Then the King grew angry, and ordered his wife to be cast into prison, and therein was she shut up for many long years.
In the meantime the children had grown up. Then eldest once went out with some other boys to fish, but the other boys would not have him with them, and said, "Go thy way, foundling."

Hereupon he was much troubled, and asked the old fisherman if that was true? The fisherman told him that once when he was fishing he had drawn him out of the water. So the boy said he would go forth and seek his father. The fisherman, however, entreated him to stay, but he would not let himself be hindered, and at last the fisherman consented. Then the boy went on his way and walked for many days, and at last he came to a great piece of water by the side of which stood an old woman fishing. "Good day, mother," said the boy.

"Many thanks," said she.

"Thou wilt fish long enough before thou catchest anything."

"And thou wilt seek long enough before thou findest thy father. How wilt thou get over the water?" said the woman.

"God knows."

Then the old woman took him up on her back and carried him through it, and he sought for a long time, but could not find his father.

When a year had gone by, the second boy set out to seek his brother. He came to the water, and all fared with him just as with his brother. And now there was no one at home but the daughter, and she mourned for her brothers so much that at last she also begged the fisherman to let her set forth, for she wished to go in search of her brothers. Then she likewise came to the great piece of water, and she said to the old woman, "Good day, mother."

"Many thanks," replied the old woman.

"May God help you with your fishing," said the maiden. When the old woman heard that, she became quite friendly, and carried her over the water, gave her a wand, and said to her, "Go, my daughter, ever onwards by this road, and when you come to a great black dog, you must pass it silently and boldly, without either laughing or looking at it. Then you will come to a great high castle, on the threshold of which you must let the wand fall, and go straight through the castle, and out again on the other side. There you will see an old fountain out of which a large tree has grown, whereon hangs a bird in a cage which you must take down. Take likewise a glass of water out of the fountain, and with these two things go back by the same way. Pick up the wand again from the threshold and take it with you, and when you again pass by the dog, strike him in the face with it, but be sure that you hit him, and then just come back here to me." The maiden found everything exactly as the old woman had said, and on her way back she found her two brothers who had sought each other over half the world. They went together to the place where the black dog was lying on the road; she struck it in the face, and it turned into a handsome prince who went with them to the river. There the old woman was still standing. She rejoiced much to see them again, and carried them all over the water, and then she too went away, for now she was freed. The others, however, went to the old fisherman, and all were glad that they had found each other again, but they hung the bird on the wall.

But the second son could not settle at home, and took his cross-bow and went a-hunting. When he was tired he took his flute, and made music. The King was hunting too, and heard that and went thither, and when he met the youth, he said, "Who has given thee leave to hunt here?"

"Oh, no one."

"To whom dost thou belong, then?"

"I am the fisherman's son."

"But he has no children."

"If thou wilt not believe, come with me."

That the King did, and questioned the fisherman, who told everything to him, and the little bird on the wall began to sing,

"The mother sits alone
There in the prison small,
O King of royal blood,
These are thy children all.
The sisters twain so false,
They wrought the children woe,
There in the waters deep
Where the fishermen come and go."
Then they were all terrified, and the King took the bird, the fisherman and the three children back with him to the castle, and ordered the prison to be opened and brought his wife out again. She had, however, grown quite ill and weak. Then the daughter gave her some of the water of the fountain to drink, and she became strong and healthy. But the two false sisters were burnt, and the daughter married the prince.
For mange tusinde år siden var landet delt i mange små riger. En af kongerne boede på Køterbjerg og han holdt så meget af at gå på jagt. En dag, da han red ud med sine jægere, gik der nedenfor bjerget tre piger og vogtede køer. Da de så kongen og alle hans mænd, pegede den ældste af pigerne på ham og sagde: "Hvis jeg ikke kan få ham til mand, vil jeg slet ingen have." Den næstældste, som gik på den anden side af bjerget, pegede på den, der gik ved kongens højre side og råbte: "Hvis jeg ikke får ham, vil jeg slet ingen have." Den yngste pegede på den, som gik til venstre for kongen og råbte: "Og hvis jeg ikke kan få ham, vil jeg ingen have." Det var imidlertid de to ministre. Kongen hørte det hele, og da han kom hjem, sendte han bud efter de tre piger og spurgte, hvad det var, de havde sagt i går. De ville ikke sige det, og kongen spurgte så den ældste, om hun ville gifte sig med ham. Hun sagde ja og ministrene blev nu gift med de to søstre. Alle tre var de smukke, især dronningen, der havde hår som hør.

De to af søstrene fik ingen børn. Engang da kongen skulle rejse bort, lod han dem komme op til dronningen for at opmuntre hende, for hun skulle om kort tid have et barn. Hun fødte så en dreng, og han kom til verden med en rød stjerne. Men de to søstre blev enige om, at de ville kaste den søde, lille dreng i vandet. Da de havde gjort det, fløj en lille fugl op i luften og sang:

"Så mange små blomster vugges blidt
på havets vande,
de bærer vel også dig af sted,
til frelsende strande."

Da de hørte det, fik de en skræk i livet og skyndte sig bort. Da kongen kom hjem, fortalte de ham, at dronningen havde født en hund. Men kongen sagde: "Hvad Gud gør, er vel gjort."

En fisker, der sad nede ved vandet, fik imidlertid fat i den lille dreng, og da han ingen børn havde, tog han ham med hjem og opdrog ham. Nogle år efter fødte dronningen igen en søn, mens kongen var på rejse. De to onde søstre kastede ham i vandet, og der fløj igen en lille fugl op og sang:

"Så mange små blomster vugges blidt
på havets vande,
de bærer vel også dig af sted,
til frelsende strande."

Da kongen kom hjem, sagde de til ham, at dronningen havde født en hund. "Hvad Gud gør, er vel gjort," sagde han, men fiskeren fik fat i den lille dreng og tog ham med sig hjem.

Nogen tid efter rejste kongen bort igen, og dronningen fødte imens en lille pige. De onde søstre kastede også hende i vandet, og atter fløj der en fugl op og sang:

"Så mange små blomster vugges blidt
på havets vande,
de bærer vel også dig af sted,
til frelsende strande."

Da kongen kom hjem, fortalte de, at dronningen havde født en kat. Så blev kongen vred, lod dronningen kaste i fængsel, og der måtte hun sidde i mange år.

Børnene voksede imidlertid til, og da den ældste dreng en dag var ude at fiske med nogle andre drenge, ville de ikke være sammen med ham og sagde: "Gå din vej, hittebarn." Da gik han bedrøvet hjem og spurgte fiskeren, om det var sandt, hvad drengene sagde. Fiskeren fortalte ham så, at han havde trukket ham op af vandet en dag, da han sad og fiskede. Drengen ville straks ud at søge efter sin far. Fiskeren bad ham først blive hjemme, men til sidst måtte han give ham lov. Drengen begav sig så på vej og gik i mange dage og kom til sidst til et vældigt stort vand, hvor der stod en gammel kone og fiskede. "Goddag morlil," sagde drengen. "Goddag." - "Du kan nok fiske længe der, inden du fanger noget." - "Og du kan søge længe, inden du finder din far. Hvordan vil du for resten komme over vandet?" - "Ja, det må Gud vide." Så tog den gamle kone ham på ryggen og bar ham over, og han gik i lang tid uden at finde sine forældre. Da der var gået et årstid, drog den anden bror ud for at søge efter ham. Han kom også til det dybe vand, og det gik ham ligesådan. Nu var pigen alene hjemme, og hun længtes så meget efter sine brødre, at hun bad fiskeren om lov til at drage ud og lede efter dem. Hun kom også til det dybe vand, hvor den gamle kone stod. "Goddag, morlil," sagde hun. "Goddag." - "Gud velsigne dit arbejde." Den gamle kone kunne godt lide hende, bar hende over vandet, gav hende en kvist og sagde: "Gå videre ad denne vej, min lille pige. Når du kommer til en stor, sort hund, skal du ganske rolig gå forbi, men du må ikke le eller se dig om. Så kommer du til et stort slot, og der skal du lade kvisten falde ned på dørtærskelen. Du skal gå lige igennem slottet og ud på den anden side. Der er en gammel brønd, hvorved der står et højt træ. Deri hænger et bur med en fugl, tag det. Du skal også tage et glas vand af brønden og så gå akkurat samme vej tilbage. Kvisten skal du tage op igen, og når du kommer forbi hunden, skal du slå den med kvisten i ansigtet, men pas på, at du rammer den. Og kom så tilbage til mig." Det hele gik, som konen havde sagt, og på hjemvejen mødte hun sine to brødre, som var draget igennem den halve verden. De fulgtes nu ad, og da de kom til den sorte hund, slog hun den i ansigtet med kvisten. Straks blev den til en smuk prins og gik med dem ned til vandet. Der stod den gamle kone. Hun blev meget glad ved at se dem alle fire. De gik så over vandet, og den gamle kone gik sin vej, for nu var hun frelst. De andre gik hjem til den gamle fisker, hvor der blev stor glæde, da de alle var samlede igen. Fuglen blevhængt op på væggen i sit bur.

Den næstældste dreng kunne imidlertid ikke slå sig til ro hjemme, men tog sin bue og gik på jagt. Da han blev træt, tog han sin rørfløjte frem og blæste på den. Kongen var netop også på jagt, og da han hørte musikken, gik han efter lyden. "Hvem har givet dig lov til at gå på jagt her?" spurgte han drengen. "Det er der ingen, som har," svarede han. "Hvem er du?" - "Jeger en søn af fiskeren." - "Snak, han har jo ingen børn." - "Hvis du ikke vil tro mig, såkorn med." Kongen gik nu med drengen. Fiskeren fortalte ham, hvordan alt var gået til, og fuglen på væggen begyndte at synge:

"Din stakkels hustru bag fængslets mur,
fælder de bitreste tårer.
Kys dine børn - dit kongeblod
flyder i deres årer.
De onde søstre kasted dem ud
i det dybe vand, til den sikre død,
men den fattige fisker redded de små
og delte med dem sit daglige brød."

De blev allesammen forskrækkede. Kongen tog fuglen, fiskeren og de tre børn med sig hjem, lod fængslet åbne og dronningen føre ud. Hun var syg og dårlig, men datteren gav hende vandet fra brønden at drikke, og straks blev hun rask. De to onde søstre blev brændt, og prinsen blev gift med prinsessen.

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