The blue light



There was once on a time a soldier who for many years had served the King faithfully, but when the war came to an end could serve no longer because of the many wounds which he had received. The King said to him, "Thou mayst return to thy home, I need thee no longer, and thou wilt not receive any more money, for he only receives wages who renders me service for them." Then the soldier did not know how to earn a living, went away greatly troubled, and walked the whole day, until in the evening he entered a forest. When darkness came on, he saw a light, which he went up to, and came to a house wherein lived a witch. "Do give me one night's lodging, and a little to eat and drink," said he to her, "or I shall starve." - "Oho!" she answered, "who gives anything to a run-away soldier? Yet will I be compassionate, and take you in, if you will do what I wish." - "What do you wish?" said the soldier. "That you should dig all round my garden for me, tomorrow." The soldier consented, and next day labored with all his strength, but could not finish it by the evening. "I see well enough," said the witch, "that you can do no more to-day, but I will keep you yet another night, in payment for which you must to-morrow chop me a load of wood, and make it small." The soldier spent the whole day in doing it, and in the evening the witch proposed that he should stay one night more. "To-morrow, you shall only do me a very trifling piece of work. Behind my house, there is an old dry well, into which my light has fallen, it burns blue, and never goes out, and you shall bring it up again for me." Next day the old woman took him to the well, and let him down in a basket. He found the blue light, and made her a signal to draw him up again. She did draw him up, but when he came near the edge, she stretched down her hand and wanted to take the blue light away from him. "No," said he, perceiving her evil intention, "I will not give thee the light until I am standing with both feet upon the ground." The witch fell into a passion, let him down again into the well, and went away.
The poor soldier fell without injury on the moist ground, and the blue light went on burning, but of what use was that to him? He saw very well that he could not escape death. He sat for a while very sorrowfully, then suddenly he felt in his pocket and found his tobacco pipe, which was still half full. "This shall be my last pleasure," thought he, pulled it out, lit it at the blue light and began to smoke. When the smoke had circled about the cavern, suddenly a little black dwarf stood before him, and said, "Lord, what are thy commands?" - "What commands have I to give thee?" replied the soldier, quite astonished. "I must do everything thou biddest me," said the little man. "Good," said the soldier; "then in the first place help me out of this well." The little man took him by the hand, and led him through an underground passage, but he did not forget to take the blue light with him. On the way the dwarf showed him the treasures which the witch had collected and hidden there, and the soldier took as much gold as he could carry. When he was above, he said to the little man, "Now go and bind the old witch, and carry her before the judge." In a short time she, with frightful cries, came riding by, as swift as the wind on a wild tom-cat, nor was it long after that before the little man re-appeared. "It is all done," said he, "and the witch is already hanging on the gallows. What further commands has my lord?" inquired the dwarf. "At this moment, none," answered the soldier; "Thou canst return home, only be at hand immediately, if I summon thee." - "Nothing more is needed than that thou shouldst light thy pipe at the blue light, and I will appear before thee at once." Thereupon he vanished from his sight.

The soldier returned to the town from which he had come. He went to the best inn, ordered himself handsome clothes, and then bade the landlord furnish him a room as handsomely as possible. When it was ready and the soldier had taken possession of it, he summoned the little black mannikin and said, "I have served the King faithfully, but he has dismissed me, and left me to hunger, and now I want to take my revenge." - "What am I to do?" asked the little man. "Late at night, when the King's daughter is in bed, bring her here in her sleep, she shall do servant's work for me." The mannikin said, "That is an easy thing for me to do, but a very dangerous thing for you, for if it is discovered, you will fare ill." When twelve o'clock had struck, the door sprang open, and the mannikin carried in the princess. "Aha! art thou there?" cried the soldier, "get to thy work at once! Fetch the broom and sweep the chamber." When she had done this, he ordered her to come to his chair, and then he stretched out his feet and said, "Pull off my boots for me," and then he threw them in her face, and made her pick them up again, and clean and brighten them. She, however, did everything he bade her, without opposition, silently and with half-shut eyes. When the first cock crowed, the mannikin carried her back to the royal palace, and laid her in her bed.

Next morning when the princess arose, she went to her father, and told him that she had had a very strange dream. "I was carried through the streets with the rapidity of lightning," said she, "and taken into a soldier's room, and I had to wait upon him like a servant, sweep his room, clean his boots, and do all kinds of menial work. It was only a dream, and yet I am just as tired as if I really had done everything." - "The dream may have been true," said the King, "I will give thee a piece of advice. Fill thy pocket full of peas, and make a small hole in it, and then if thou art carried away again, they will fall out and leave a track in the streets." But unseen by the King, the mannikin was standing beside him when he said that, and heard all. At night when the sleeping princess was again carried through the streets, some peas certainly did fall out of her pocket, but they made no track, for the crafty mannikin had just before scattered peas in every street there was. And again the princess was compelled to do servant's work until cock-crow.

Next morning the King sent his people out to seek the track, but it was all in vain, for in every street poor children were sitting, picking up peas, and saying, "It must have rained peas, last night." - "We must think of something else," said the King; "keep thy shoes on when thou goest to bed, and before thou comest back from the place where thou art taken, hide one of them there, I will soon contrive to find it." The black mannikin heard this plot, and at night when the soldier again ordered him to bring the princess, revealed it to him, and told him that he knew of no expedient to counteract this stratagem, and that if the shoe were found in the soldier's house it would go badly with him. "Do what I bid thee," replied the soldier, and again this third night the princess was obliged to work like a servant, but before she went away, she hid her shoe under the bed.

Next morning the King had the entire town searched for his daughter's shoe. It was found at the soldier's, and the soldier himself, who at the entreaty of the dwarf had gone outside the gate, was soon brought back, and thrown into prison. In his flight he had forgotten the most valuable things he had, the blue light and the gold, and had only one ducat in his pocket. And now loaded with chains, he was standing at the window of his dungeon, when he chanced to see one of his comrades passing by. The soldier tapped at the pane of glass, and when this man came up, said to him, "Be so kind as to fetch me the small bundle I have left lying in the inn, and I will give you a ducat for doing it." His comrade ran thither and brought him what he wanted. As soon as the soldier was alone again, he lighted his pipe and summoned the black mannikin. "Have no fear," said the latter to his master. "Go wheresoever they take you, and let them do what they will, only take the blue light with you." Next day the soldier was tried, and though he had done nothing wicked, the judge condemned him to death. When he was led forth to die, he begged a last favor of the King. "What is it?" asked the King. "That I may smoke one more pipe on my way." - "Thou mayst smoke three," answered the King, "but do not imagine that I will spare thy life." Then the soldier pulled out his pipe and lighted it at the blue light, and as soon as a few wreaths of smoke had ascended, the mannikin was there with a small cudgel in his hand, and said, "What does my lord command?" - "Strike down to earth that false judge there, and his constable, and spare not the King who has treated me so ill." Then the mannikin fell on them like lightning, darting this way and that way, and whosoever was so much as touched by his cudgel fell to earth, and did not venture to stir again. The King was terrified; he threw himself on the soldier's mercy, and merely to be allowed to live at all, gave him his kingdom for his own, and the princess to wife.
可怜的士兵不知该靠什么度日。 他拖着沉重的脚步往家走,傍晚时分来到了一片大森林。 他看见一所房子里透出一点儿灯光,房子里住着一个巫婆。 "给我一个睡觉的地方,再给我一点儿吃的和喝的吧,"他对巫婆说,"我已经快不行了。""嗬,嗬,"她回答说,"谁肯无缘无故地给一个逃兵什么呢?不过,要是你听我的吩咐,我倒愿意对你发发慈悲,收留你住下。"
士兵满口答应。 第二天,他拼命干了一整天,可天黑时还是没干完。
士兵又干了一整天。 可是,到了晚上,巫婆提出他应该再住一夜。
第二天,老巫婆领着士兵来到井边,用筐子把他放到了井里。 他找到了那盏发蓝光的灯,接着发出信号,让巫婆把他拉上去。 巫婆把他往上拉着,谁知他快到井口的时候,巫婆却伸手想把蓝灯夺走。 士兵呢,发觉她没安好心,就冲她说:"不,我不能把灯给你,我得先上到地面才行。"巫婆一听,火冒三丈,把士兵又扔回了井里,自己却走了。
可怜的士兵被摔在了井底,倒没有伤着。 那盏蓝灯还在闪闪发光,可这有什么用呢? 他感觉自己必死无疑了,心里涌现出了无限的哀伤,呆呆地坐了好久。 后来,他无意中把手神进口袋里,摸到了他的烟斗,发现里边还装着半斗烟丝。 "这是我最后的享受啦。"他心里想于是把烟斗从口袋里拿出来,就着蓝灯的火焰把它点燃,开始抽了起来。 烟雾在井底冉冉升腾,在井中弥漫。 忽然间,一个皮肤黝黑的小人儿出现在他的面前,问他说:
小人儿拉起他的手,提起蓝灯,领着他穿过一条地道。 途中,他把巫婆聚敛隐藏起来的金银财宝指给士兵看,士兵尽其所能,搬走了不少金子。
不大一会儿,巫婆就骑着一只雄性大野猫,令人毛骨悚然地尖叫着,从士兵面前一闪而过。 小人儿说:"审判完毕,巫婆已上了绞刑架。"
士兵回到原来的城市,住进最高档的旅馆,订做了许多漂亮服装,还吩咐旅馆给他准备一间装饰得富丽堂皇的房间。 一切安排就绪之后,他唤来皮肤黝黑的小人儿,对他说:"服役期间,我对国王忠心耿耿,他却把我赶走,让我忍饥挨饿,现在我要报这个仇。"
公主打扫完毕,他把公主叫到扶手椅前,伸出双脚,吩咐她脱去他的靴子。 然后,他把靴子冲着公主的脸上扔过去,叫她把靴子擦干净,要擦得乌黑锃亮。 公主困乏得眼睛都快睁不开了,却心甘情愿、一声不吭地忙这忙那。 公鸡啼鸣时,小人儿又把公主背回宫里,放在床上。
第二天早上,公主去见父亲,告诉父亲她做了一个希奇古怪的梦。 "我被人背着,快得跟闪电一样,穿过一条又一条的街道,送进一个士兵的房间。我被迫像女仆一样地伺候他,扫房间,擦皮靴。虽说这只是一个梦,可是我却筋疲力尽,好像真的干了那些活儿似的。"
国王说这番话的时候,小人儿隐了身就站在旁边,听得真真切切。 夜里,小人儿又来背睡梦中的公主,穿过街道时,的确有豌豆从口袋里掉出来,却不起任何作用,原来那个小机灵鬼儿事先在每一条街道上都洒上了豌豆。 公主呢,再次被迫像女仆一样,辛勤劳作到鸡叫。
这回又让皮肤黝黑的小人儿给听见了。 当天夜里,士兵吩咐他去把公主背来时,他对士兵说:"这次我可不知如何是好。要是在您的房间里搜出鞋子来,那您就遭殃啦。"
第二天早上,国王派人出去在全城寻找他女儿的鞋,结果在士兵的房间里搜到了。 士兵呢,经过小人儿的再三请求,已经急急忙忙地逃出城去,但还是很快就被追上了关进了监牢。 匆忙逃走时,他忘记了带上至关重要的东西--那盏蓝灯和金子。 他身上只有几个硬币。 他戴着沉重的镣铐,站在牢房窗口,看到一个当年的同伴打外边走过。 这位同伴走过来时,他敲了敲玻璃窗,对他说:"要是你愿意去把我忘在旅馆的小包裹取来,我一定好好酬谢你。"同伴跑去很快就把包裹取回来了。 同伴刚走,他马上就用蓝灯的火焰点燃了烟斗,他的那位皮肤黝黑的小朋友一下子又站在了他身边。 "别害怕,"小人儿说,"不管他们把您押往哪里,您去就是啦,可是千万别忘记了带上蓝灯。"
次日,国王对士兵开庭审判。 尽管他并无大罪,却被判了死刑。 在被推上绞刑架之前,他恳求国王恩准他最后一个请求。
士兵抽出烟斗,用蓝灯的火焰点着了。 一个烟圈刚刚袅袅地升起,小人儿手里握着一根短棍,就已经站在了他的面前,问他说:"主子,您有什么吩咐?"
小人儿气冲牛斗,挥舞着短棍大打出手,周围的人个个被他打倒在地。 国王匍匐在地,为了保全性命,答应把王国让给士兵,并且把女儿许配给他。

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