The old woman in the wood



A poor servant-girl was once travelling with the family with which she was in service, through a great forest, and when they were in the midst of it, robbers came out of the thicket, and murdered all they found. All perished together except the girl, who had jumped out of the carriage in a fright, and hidden herself behind a tree. When the robbers had gone away with their booty, she came out and beheld the great disaster. Then she began to weep bitterly, and said, "What can a poor girl like me do now? I do not know how to get out of the forest, no human being lives in it, so I must certainly starve." She walked about and looked for a road, but could find none. When it was evening she seated herself under a tree, gave herself into God's keeping, and resolved to sit waiting there and not go away, let what might happen. When, however, she had sat there for a while, a white dove came flying to her with a little golden key in its mouth. It put the little key in her hand, and said, "Dost thou see that great tree, therein is a little lock, it opens with the tiny key, and there thou wilt find food enough, and suffer no more hunger." Then she went to the tree and opened it, and found milk in a little dish, and white bread to break into it, so that she could eat her fill. When she was satisfied, she said, "It is now the time when the hens at home go to roost, I am so tired I could go to bed too." Then the dove flew to her again, and brought another golden key in its bill, and said, "Open that tree there, and thou willt find a bed." So she opened it, and found a beautiful white bed, and she prayed God to protect her during the night, and lay down and slept. In the morning the dove came for the third time, and again brought a little key, and said, "Open that tree there, and thou wilt find clothes." And when she opened it, she found garments beset with gold and with jewels, more splendid than those of any king's daughter. So she lived there for some time, and the dove came every day and provided her with all she needed, and it was a quiet good life.
Once, however, the dove came and said, "Wilt thou do something for my sake?" - "With all my heart," said the girl. Then said the little dove, "I will guide thee to a small house; enter it, and inside it, an old woman will be sitting by the fire and will say, 'Good-day.' But on thy life give her no answer, let her do what she will, but pass by her on the right side; further on, there is a door, which open, and thou wilt enter into a room where a quantity of rings of all kinds are lying, amongst which are some magnificent ones with shining stones; leave them, however, where they are, and seek out a plain one, which must likewise be amongst them, and bring it here to me as quickly as thou canst." The girl went to the little house, and came to the door. There sat an old woman who stared when she saw her, and said, "Good-day my child." The girl gave her no answer, and opened the door. "Whither away," cried the old woman, and seized her by the gown, and wanted to hold her fast, saying, "That is my house; no one can go in there if I choose not to allow it." But the girl was silent, got away from her, and went straight into the room. Now there lay on the table an enormous quantity of rings, which gleamed and glittered before her eyes. She turned them over and looked for the plain one, but could not find it. While she was seeking, she saw the old woman and how she was stealing away, and wanting to get off with a bird-cage which she had in her hand. So she went after her and took the cage out of her hand, and when she raised it up and looked into it, a bird was inside which had the plain ring in its bill. Then she took the ring, and ran quite joyously home with it, and thought the little white dove would come and get the ring, but it did not. Then she leant against a tree and determined to wait for the dove, and, as she thus stood, it seemed just as if the tree was soft and pliant, and was letting its branches down. And suddenly the branches twined around her, and were two arms, and when she looked round, the tree was a handsome man, who embraced and kissed her heartily, and said, "Thou hast delivered me from the power of the old woman, who is a wicked witch. She had changed me into a tree, and every day for two hours I was a white dove, and so long as she possessed the ring I could not regain my human form." Then his servants and his horses, who had likewise been changed into trees, were freed from the enchantment also, and stood beside him. And he led them forth to his kingdom, for he was a King's son, and they married, and lived happily.
从前有个贫苦的小女仆跟着她的主人家一起穿过一片大森林,当他们走到森林的中间时,突然树丛中窜出了一群强盗,见人就杀。 小女孩吓得魂不附体,赶快从马车上跳了下来,藏在树后,才幸免于难,其余的人统统给强盗杀光了。 强盗们带着他们的战利品扬长而去,这时小女孩才从树后走出来。 目睹了眼前这场灾难,小女孩不禁悲痛地哭了起来,只听她口中说:"我这样孤苦零丁的,现在我该怎么办呢?我怎样才能走出这林子?林间又无别人住在这里,我肯定会饿死的!"于是她便四处乱走,想找条出路,但一切均是枉然。 到了晚上,她坐在一棵树下,祈求上帝的庇护,心想不管发生什么事情,她都将呆在原地不动。 过了一会儿,一只白鸽飞了过来,口衔着小金钥匙。 它把钥匙放在小女孩的手上,说:"你看见那棵大树上的小锁吗?用这片小钥匙去打开它,你就会得到足够的食物,也不会再挨饿了。"于是小女孩走到树前,打开了树上的锁,发现树里有个小盘子,里面盛着牛奶和白白的面包,她便放开肚皮吃了个饱。 吃完后,她又说:"现在是家里的母鸡归巢的时候了,我好累,要是能有张床睡觉该有多好!"刚说完,白鸽又飞了过来,口里叼着另一片小金钥匙,说:"打开那边那棵树,你就会得到一张床。"于是小女孩又去打开了那棵树,发现一张白色的床,精美无比。 她立刻感谢了上帝当晚的保护,便躺下睡着了。 第二天早上,那白鸽又飞来了,口里又叼着片小金钥匙,说:"打开那棵树,你能找到衣裳。"小女孩便打开了树,发现好多的衣服,都镶嵌着金银珠宝,比公主穿的还要漂亮。 从此,她便住在森林里,那只白鸽每天飞来飞去,给她带来各式各样所需的东西。
一天,白鸽飞来说道:"你能替我办点事吗?""十分愿意,"小女孩答道。 小白鸽说:"我将带你到一间小屋前,你走进去,里边会有一个老妇人坐在火炉边对你说'你好!'但是千万别回答她,不管她做什么,你从她右边走过去;再往前,会有一扇打开的门,走进去,那儿有各式各样的戒指,还有珠光宝石的戒指,华贵无比。同样别碰它们,只找一个样式普通的,拿到后赶快回到我这里来。"小女孩便走到了小屋前,只见那儿果真坐着个老妇人,她盯着小女孩说:"你好,我的孩子。"小女孩没有搭理她,径直打开了门。 "走开!"老妇人一边嚷,一边来扯她的衣服想抓住她,"那是我的房子,没有我的允许,谁也不准进去!"小女孩也不说话,挣脱她径直冲进屋内。 屋里的桌子上确有许多戒指,在她眼前闪闪发光。 小女孩翻遍了所有的戒指,想找出那只模样普通的,但没找着。 她找啊找啊,这时她突然留意到那老妇人手提一只鸟笼,正准备偷偷摸摸地溜走。 小女孩马上赶过去,劈手夺过鸟笼,举在眼前仔细一看,原来里边有只小鸟的口中正叼着一个模样普通的戒指。 于是她便伸手进去拿出了戒指,高高兴兴地跑了回去。 她以为小白鸽一定会来取戒指,但是它却没有来。 小女孩只好靠在一棵树上,静静地等候小白鸽。 她就这样一直靠树站着,这时她只觉得树儿又软又松,树枝也垂了下来。 突然,树枝变成了两只手臂一下抱住了她。 小女孩扭头一看,原来她靠在上面的树儿竟变成了一位英俊潇洒的年轻人。 他就是这样地抱着小女孩,深情地吻着她,说:"是你破了那个老巫婆的妖术,把我救了出来。她曾把我变成一棵树,每天,我还得做两小时的白鸽。只要她掌握着这个戒指,我便没法恢复人形。"接着,那些被巫婆变成树的仆人和马匹,都脱了巫术,一个个站在他的身后。 这位年轻人原来是位王子殿下,王子将他们重新带回宫。 后来王子和小女孩成了亲,生活过得幸福又快乐。

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