Ferdinand the faithful


Fernando fedele e Fernando infedele

Once on a time lived a man and a woman who so long as they were rich had no children, but when they were poor they had a little boy. They could, however, find no godfather for him, so the man said he would just go to another place to see if he could get one there. As he went, a poor man met him, who asked him where he was going. He said he was going to see if he could get a godfather, that he was poor, so no one would stand as godfather for him. "Oh," said the poor man, "you are poor, and I am poor; I will be godfather for you, but I am so ill off I can give the child nothing. Go home and tell the nurse that she is to come to the church with the child."
When they all got to the church together, the beggar was already there, and he gave the child the name of Ferdinand the Faithful.

When he was going out of the church, the beggar said, "Now go home, I can give you nothing, and you likewise ought to give me nothing." But he gave a key to the nurse, and told her when she got home she was to give it to the father, who was to take care of it until the child was fourteen years old, and then he was to go on the heath where there was a castle which the key would fit, and that all which was therein should belong to him. Now when the child was seven years old and had grown very big, he once went to play with some other boys, and each of them boasted that he had got more from his godfather than the other; but the child could say nothing, and was vexed, and went home and said to his father, "Did I get nothing at all, then, from my godfather?" - "Oh, yes," said the father, "thou hadst a key if there is a castle standing on the heath, just go to it and open it." Then the boy went thither, but no castle was to be seen, or heard of.

After seven years more, when he was fourteen years old, he again went thither, and there stood the castle. When he had opened it, there was nothing within but a horse, a white one. Then the boy was so full of joy because he had a horse, that he mounted on it and galloped back to his father. "Now I have a white horse, and I will travel," said he. So he set out, and as he was on his way, a pen was lying on the road. At first he thought he would pick it up, but then again he thought to himself, "Thou shouldst leave it lying there; thou wilt easily find a pen where thou art going, if thou hast need of one." As he was thus riding away, a voice called after him, "Ferdinand the Faithful, take it with thee." He looked around, but saw no one, then he went back again and picked it up. When he had ridden a little way farther, he passed by a lake, and a fish was lying on the bank, gasping and panting for breath, so he said, "Wait, my dear fish, I will help thee get into the water," and he took hold of it by the tail, and threw it into the lake. Then the fish put its head out of the water and said, "As thou hast helped me out of the mud I will give thee a flute; when thou art in any need, play on it, and then I will help thee, and if ever thou lettest anything fall in the water, just play and I will reach it out to thee." Then he rode away, and there came to him a man who asked him where he was going. "Oh, to the next place." Then what his name was? "Ferdinand the Faithful." - "So! then we have got almost the same name, I am called Ferdinand the Unfaithful." And they both set out to the inn in the nearest place.

Now it was unfortunate that Ferdinand the Unfaithful knew everything that the other had ever thought and everything he was about to do; he knew it by means of all kinds of wicked arts. There was, however, in the inn an honest girl, who had a bright face and behaved very prettily. She fell in love with Ferdinand the Faithful because he was a handsome man, and she asked him whither he was going. "Oh, I am just travelling round about," said he. Then she said he ought to stay there, for the King of that country wanted an attendant or an outrider, and he ought to enter his service. He answered he could not very well go to any one like that and offer himself. Then said the maiden, "Oh, but I will soon do that for you." And so she went straight to the King, and told him that she knew of an excellent servant for him. He was well pleased with that, and had Ferdinand the Faithful brought to him, and wanted to make him his servant. He, however, liked better to be an outrider, for where his horse was, there he also wanted to be, so the King made him an outrider. When Ferdinand the Unfaithful learnt that, he said to the girl, "What! Dost thou help him and not me?" - "Oh," said the girl, "I will help thee too." She thought, "I must keep friends with that man, for he is not to be trusted." She went to the King, and offered him as a servant, and the King was willing.

Now when the King met his lords in the morning, he always lamented and said, "Oh, if I had but my love with me." Ferdinand the Unfaithful was, however, always hostile to Ferdinand the Faithful. So once, when the King was complaining thus, he said, "You have the outrider, send him away to get her, and if he does not do it, his head must be struck off." Then the King sent for Ferdinand the Faithful, and told him that there was, in this place or in that place, a girl he loved, and that he was to bring her to him, and if he did not do it he should die.

Ferdinand the Faithful went into the stable to his white horse, and complained and lamented, "Oh, what an unhappy man I am!" Then someone behind him cried, "Ferdinand the Faithful, why weepest thou?" He looked round but saw no one, and went on lamenting; "Oh, my dear little white horse, now must I leave thee; now must I die." Then some one cried once more, "Ferdinand the Faithful, why weepest thou?" Then for the first time he was aware that it was his little white horse who was putting that question. "Dost thou speak, my little white horse; canst thou do that?" And again, he said, "I am to go to this place and to that, and am to bring the bride; canst thou tell me how I am to set about it?" Then answered the little white horse, "Go thou to the King, and say if he will give thou what thou must have, thou wilt get her for him. If he will give thee a ship full of meat, and a ship full of bread, it will succeed. Great giants dwell on the lake, and if thou takest no meat with thee for them, they will tear thee to pieces, and there are the large birds which would pick the eyes out of thy head if thou hadst no bread for them." Then the King made all the butchers in the land kill, and all the bakers bake, that the ships might be filled. When they were full, the little white horse said to Ferdinand the Faithful, "Now mount me, and go with me into the ship, and then when the giants come, say,

"Peace, peace, my dear little giants,
I have had thought of ye,
Something I have brought for ye;"
and when the birds come, thou shalt again say,

"Peace, peace, my dear little birds,
I have had thought of ye,
Something I have brought for ye;"
then they will do nothing to thee, and when thou comest to the castle, the giants will help thee. Then go up to the castle, and take a couple of giants with thee. There the princess lies sleeping; thou must, however, not awaken her, but the giants must lift her up, and carry her in her bed to the ship." And now everything took place as the little white horse had said, and Ferdinand the Faithful gave the giants and the birds what he had brought with him for them, and that made the giants willing, and they carried the princess in her bed to the King. And when she came to the King, she said she could not live, she must have her writings, they had been left in her castle. Then by the instigation of Ferdinand the Unfaithful, Ferdinand the Faithful was called, and the King told him he must fetch the writings from the castle, or he should die. Then he went once more into the stable, and bemoaned himself and said, "Oh, my dear little white horse, now I am to go away again, how am I to do it?" Then the little white horse said he was just to load the ships full again. So it happened again as it had happened before, and the giants and the birds were satisfied, and made gentle by the meat. When they came to the castle, the white horse told Ferdinand the Faithful that he must go in, and that on the table in the princess's bed-room lay the writings. And Ferdinand the Faithful went in, and fetched them. When they were on the lake, he let his pen fall into the water; then said the white horse, "Now I cannot help thee at all." But he remembered his flute, and began to play on it, and the fish came with the pen in its mouth, and gave it to him. So he took the writings to the castle, where the wedding was celebrated.
The Queen, however, did not love the King because he had no nose, but she would have much liked to love Ferdinand the Faithful. Once, therefore, when all the lords of the court were together, the Queen said she could do feats of magic, that she could cut off any one's head and put it on again, and that one of them ought just to try it. But none of them would be the first, so Ferdinand the Faithful, again at the instigation of Ferdinand the Unfaithful, undertook it and she hewed off his head, and put it on again for him, and it healed together directly, so that it looked as if he had a red thread round his throat. Then the King said to her, "My child, and where hast thou learnt that?" - "Yes," she said, "I understand the art; shall I just try it on thee also?" - "Oh, yes," said he. But she cut off his head, and did not put it on again; but pretended that she could not get it on, and that it would not keep fixed. Then the King was buried, but she married Ferdinand the Faithful.

He, however, always rode on his white horse, and once when he was seated on it, it told him that he was to go on to the heath which he knew, and gallop three times round it. And when he had done that, the white horse stood up on its hind legs, and was changed into a King's son.
C'era una volta un uomo e una donna che, finché‚ furono ricchi, non ebbero figli, ma quando diventarono poveri, misero al mondo un maschietto. Ma non riuscivano a trovare un compare; allora l'uomo disse che sarebbe andato nel paese vicino, per vedere se là poteva trovarlo. Per strada, incontrò un pover'uomo che gli domandò dove stesse andando; egli rispose che andava a vedere se trovava un padrino: egli era povero e perciò non trovava nessuno che volesse fargli da compare. -Oh- disse il pover'uomo -voi siete povero e io pure: vi farò io da compare. Ma sono così povero che non posso regalare nulla al bambino; andate e dite alla comare di portarlo in chiesa.- Quando arrivarono in chiesa, il pover'uomo era già là, e chiamò il bambino Fernando fedele. Uscendo di chiesa, il poveretto disse: -Ora andate a casa: io non posso darvi nulla, e anche voi non dovete darmi nulla-. Ma alla comare diede una chiave e la pregò di darla, appena a casa, al padre, che la serbasse finché‚ il bambino avesse quattordici anni; poi il ragazzo doveva andare nella brughiera, e là doveva esserci un castello che si sarebbe aperto con quella chiave, e tutto quello che c'era dentro era suo. Quando il bimbo ebbe sette anni, e si era già fatto grandicello, andò una volta a giocare con altri ragazzi, e tutti avevano ricevuto dei doni dal padrino, uno più dell'altro, ma lui non poteva dire nulla, allora si mise a piangere, andò a casa e disse al padre: -Non ho ricevuto proprio nulla dal padrino?-. -Oh sì- rispose il padre -ti ha dato una chiave: se c'è un castello nella brughiera, va' ad aprirlo.- Allora egli andò, ma non c'era proprio nessun castello. Dopo sette anni, quando ne ha quattordici, torna laggiù, ed ecco un castello. Lo apre, e dentro c'è soltanto un cavallo bianco. Il ragazzo è così felice di avere un cavallo, che vi salta in groppa e ritorna al galoppo da suo padre. -Adesso ho anch'io un cavallo, e mi metterò in viaggio!- dice. Così se ne va, e strada facendo, vede sulla strada una penna da scrivere. Dapprima vuole raccoglierla, ma poi pensa: "Oh, lasciala stare! una penna da scrivere la trovi ovunque se ne hai bisogno." Mentre si allontana sente una voce che gli grida: -Fernando fedele, prendila con te!-. Egli si volta ma non vede nessuno, allora torna indietro e raccoglie la penna. Dopo aver cavalcato un po', passa vicino a un fiume, e sulla riva c'è un pesce che boccheggia. Allora egli dice: -Aspetta, caro pesce, ti aiuterò a tornare in acqua-. Lo prende per la coda e lo getta nel fiume. Allora il pesce sporge la testa dall'acqua e dice: -Tu mi hai aiutato e io ti darò un flauto: in caso di bisogno, suonalo, e io ti aiuterò; e se qualcosa ti cadesse nell'acqua, suona il flauto e io te la riporterò-. Il giovane prosegue e incontra un uomo che gli domanda dove vuole andare. -Oh, al villaggio più vicino.- -Come vi chiamate?- -Fernando fedele.- -Ma guarda, abbiamo quasi lo stesso nome: io mi chiamo Fernando infedele.- E tutti e due se ne vanno alla locanda del villaggio vicino. Ma il guaio era che Fernando infedele sapeva tutto quello che un altro pensava e voleva fare; lo sapeva per ogni sorta di male arti. Nella locanda c'era una bella fanciulla, con un viso ridente e di belle maniere. Ella s'innamorò di Fernando fedele, perché‚ era bello; e gli chiese dove volesse andare. Oh, voleva girare il mondo. Ma lei gli disse che gli conveniva rimanere: in quel paese c'era un re che avrebbe preso volentieri un domestico o un battistrada; egli avrebbe dovuto entrare a servizio dal re. Ma Fernando fedele rispose che non poteva andare a offrirsi così. Allora la fanciulla disse: -Oh, lo farò io!-. Andò subito dal re e gli disse che conosceva un domestico di bell'aspetto. IL re ne fu contento, lo mandò a chiamare e voleva farne il suo domestico. Ma il giovane preferiva essere battistrada, perché‚ dov'era il suo cavallo, doveva esserci anche lui; e il re gli fece fare il battistrada. Quando Fernando infedele venne a saperlo, disse alla fanciulla: -Come, aiuti lui e non me?-. -Oh- diss'ella -aiuterò anche te.- E pensava: -Devi tenertelo amico, perché‚ di lui non ci si può fidare." Così va dal re e glielo offre come domestico, e il re ne è contento. Al mattino, mentre Fernando infedele lo vestiva, il re sospirava sempre: -Ah, se avessi qui con me la mia sposa!-. Ma Fernando infedele detestava Fernando fedele e, un giorno che il re riprese a lamentarsi in quel modo, disse: -Avete il battistrada: mandatelo a prenderla; e se non lo fa, tagliategli la testa-. Allora il re mandò a chiamare Fernando fedele e gli disse che aveva una promessa sposa così e così: doveva portargliela altrimenti sarebbe morto. Fernando fedele andò nella stalla dal suo cavallo bianco, e piangeva e si lamentava: -Ah, povero me!-. Allora udì una voce dietro di lui: -Fernando fedele, perché‚ piangi?-. Egli si voltò ma non vide nessuno e continuò a lamentarsi: -Oh, mio caro cavallino, adesso devo lasciarti, devo morire!-. Solo allora si accorse che era il suo cavallino bianco a interrogarlo: -Sei tu, cavallino mio? Sai parlare?-. E aggiunse: -Devo andare in un posto così e così a prendere la promessa sposa: non sai dirmi cosa devo fare?-. Il cavallino bianco rispose: -Vai dal re e digli che porterai la sposa se egli ti darà ciò che desideri: riuscirai se ti darà una nave piena di carne e una colma di pane. Sul mare a sono dei gran giganti e se tu non portassi loro della carne, ti farebbero a pezzi; e ci sono dei brutti uccelli che ti caverebbero gli occhi se tu non avessi del pane per loro-. Allora il re ordinò a tutti i beccai del paese di macellare, e a tutti i fornai di cuocere il pane, in modo da riempire le due navi. Quando furono piene, il cavallino bianco disse a Fernando fedele: -Adesso saltami in groppa e imbarcati con me; quando verranno i giganti, dirai:"Adesso l'ira conviene scordare, e senza indugio venite a mangiare!"E quando verranno gli uccelli dirai ancora:"A voi qualcosa ho voluto portare, or senza indugio venite a beccare!"Allora non ti faranno nulla, e quando arriverai al castello, i giganti ti aiuteranno: sali al castello e prendi due giganti con te, là ci sarà la principessa addormentata; tu però non svegliarla: i giganti devono sollevarla con il letto e portarla sulla nave-. E ogni cosa andò come aveva detto il cavallino bianco: Fernando fedele diede ai giganti e agli uccelli quello che aveva portato; i giganti si rabbonirono e portarono la principessa con il suo letto al re. Ma quando arrivò dal re, ella disse che non poteva vivere se non aveva le sue carte, che erano rimaste nel castello. Su suggerimento di Fernando infedele, chiamarono così Fernando fedele, e il re gli ordinò di andare a prendere le carte nel castello, altrimenti sarebbe morto. Allora egli tornò di nuovo nella stalla e pianse e disse: -Oh, mio caro cavallino, devo partire nuovamente, come faremo?-. Allora il cavallino disse che dovevano caricare ancora la nave. Tutto andò come la volta precedente e giganti e uccelli furono saziati e ammansiti dalla carne. Quando giunsero al castello il cavallo gli disse di entrare: le carte erano sul tavolo, nella camera della principessa. Fernando fedele va e le prende. Quando sono in mare, a Fernando fedele cade la penna in acqua, e il cavallo gli dice: -Adesso non posso aiutarti-. Allora gli viene in mente il flauto, incomincia a suonare ed ecco arrivare il pesce con la penna in bocca e gliela porge. Ed egli porta le carte al castello dove si stavano celebrando le nozze. Ma alla regina il re non piaceva perché‚ non aveva naso, e invece le piaceva molto Fernando fedele. Una volta che i signori della corte erano riuniti, la regina disse che si intendeva di magia: se qualcuno voleva provare, lei poteva tagliargli la testa e rimettergliela a posto.
Ma nessuno voleva essere il primo e dovette offrirsi Fernando fedele, sempre per consiglio di Fernando infedele: la regina gli tagliò la testa e gliela rimise a posto, e il taglio guarì subito, sicché‚ sembrava che avesse un filo rosso intorno al collo. Allora il re le disse: -Bimba mia, dove l'hai imparato?-. -Sì- rispose la regina -conosco l'arte: devo provare anche con te?- -Oh sì- disse il marito. Ma lei gli tagliò la testa e non gliela rimise a posto, fingendo di non riuscirci e che la testa non volesse attaccarsi bene. Così il re fu sotterrato e la regina sposò Fernando fedele. Ma questi cavalcava sempre sul suo cavallo bianco, e una volta il cavallo gli disse di andare in un'altra prateria che gli indicò, e di farne tre volte il giro al galoppo.
Quando l'ebbe fatto, il cavallo si drizzò sulle zampe di dietro e si trasformò in un principe.

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