The sea-hare



There was once upon a time a princess, who, high under the battlements in her castle, had an apartment with twelve windows, which looked out in every possible direction, and when she climbed up to it and looked around her, she could inspect her whole kingdom. When she looked out of the first, her sight was more keen than that of any other human being; from the second she could see still better, from the third more distinctly still, and so it went on, until the twelfth, from which she saw everything above the earth and under the earth, and nothing at all could be kept secret from her. Moreover, as she was haughty, and would be subject to no one, but wished to keep the dominion for herself alone, she caused it to be proclaimed that no one should ever be her husband who could not conceal himself from her so effectually, that it should be quite impossible for her to find him. He who tried this, however, and was discovered by her, was to have his head struck off, and stuck on a post. Ninety-seven posts with the heads of dead men were already standing before the castle, and no one had come forward for a long time. The princess was delighted, and thought to herself, "Now I shall be free as long as I live." Then three brothers appeared before her, and announced to her that they were desirous of trying their luck. The eldest believed he would be quite safe if he crept into a lime-pit, but she saw him from the first window, made him come out, and had his head cut off. The second crept into the cellar of the palace, but she perceived him also from the first window, and his fate was sealed. His head was placed on the nine and ninetieth post. Then the youngest came to her and entreated her to give him a day for consideration, and also to be so gracious as to overlook it if she should happen to discover him twice, but if he failed the third time, he would look on his life as over. As he was so handsome, and begged so earnestly, she said, "Yes, I will grant thee that, but thou wilt not succeed."
Next day he meditated for a long time how he should hide himself, but all in vain. Then he seized his gun and went out hunting. He saw a raven, took a good aim at him, and was just going to fire, when the bird cried, "Don't shoot; I will make it worth thy while not." He put his gun down, went on, and came to a lake where he surprised a large fish which had come up from the depths below to the surface of the water. When he had aimed at it, the fish cried, "Don't shoot, and I will make it worth thy while." He allowed it to dive down again, went onwards, and met a fox which was lame. He fired and missed it, and the fox cried, "You had much better come here and draw the thorn out of my foot for me." He did this; but then he wanted to kill the fox and skin it, the fox said, "Stop, and I will make it worth thy while." The youth let him go, and then as it was evening, returned home.

Next day he was to hide himself; but howsoever much he puzzled his brains over it, he did not know where. He went into the forest to the raven and said, "I let thee live on, so now tell me where I am to hide myself, so that the King's daughter shall not see me." The raven hung his head and thought it over for a longtime. At length he croaked, "I have it." He fetched an egg out of his nest, cut it into two parts, and shut the youth inside it; then made it whole again, and seated himself on it. When the King's daughter went to the first window she could not discover him, nor could she from the others, and she began to be uneasy, but from the eleventh she saw him. She ordered the raven to be shot, and the egg to be brought and broken, and the youth was forced to come out. She said, "For once thou art excused, but if thou dost not do better than this, thou art lost!"

Next day he went to the lake, called the fish to him and said, "I suffered thee to live, now tell me where to hide myself so that the King's daughter may not see me." The fish thought for a while, and at last cried, "I have it! I will shut thee up in my stomach." He swallowed him, and went down to the bottom of the lake. The King's daughter looked through her windows, and even from the eleventh did not see him, and was alarmed; but at length from the twelfth she saw him. She ordered the fish to be caught and killed, and then the youth appeared. Every one can imagine what a state of mind he was in. She said, "Twice thou art forgiven, but be sure that thy head will be set on the hundredth post."

On the last day, he went with a heavy heart into the country, and met the fox. "Thou knowest how to find all kinds of hiding-places," said he; "I let thee live, now advise me where I shall hide myself so that the King's daughter shall not discover me." - "That's a hard task," answered the fox, looking very thoughtful. At length he cried, "I have it!" and went with him to a spring, dipped himself in it, and came out as a stall-keeper in the market, and dealer in animals. The youth had to dip himself in the water also, and was changed into a small sea-hare. The merchant went into the town, and showed the pretty little animal, and many persons gathered together to see it. At length the King's daughter came likewise, and as she liked it very much, she bought it, and gave the merchant a good deal of money for it. Before he gave it over to her, he said to it, "When the King's daughter goes to the window, creep quickly under the braids of he hair." And now the time arrived when she was to search for him. She went to one window after another in turn, from the first to the eleventh, and did not see him. When she did not see him from the twelfth either, she was full of anxiety and anger, and shut it down with such violence that the glass in every window shivered into a thousand pieces, and the whole castle shook.

She went back and felt the sea-hare beneath the braids of her hair. Then she seized it, and threw it on the ground exclaiming, "Away with thee, get out of my sight!" It ran to the merchant, and both of them hurried to the spring, wherein they plunged, and received back their true forms. The youth thanked the fox, and said, "The raven and the fish are idiots compared with thee; thou knowest the right tune to play, there is no denying that!"

The youth went straight to the palace. The princess was already expecting him, and accommodated herself to her destiny. The wedding was solemnized, and now he was king, and lord of all the kingdom. He never told her where he had concealed himself for the third time, and who had helped him, so she believed that he had done everything by his own skill, and she had a great respect for him, for she thought to herself, "He is able to do more than I."
从前,在一座巍峨的城堡里住着位公主,城墙的上面有一座宫殿,殿内开有十二个窗户,可以看到四面八方。 每次公主踏上宫殿的顶楼,放眼四方,整个王国尽在她的眼下。 每当她从第一扇窗户往外看,她可以比任何人都看得清楚,从第二扇看时,则能看得更清楚,从第三扇看时还要清楚些,如此类推,一扇胜似一扇,到最后一扇时,无论是天上地下的一切都能看见,世上没有什么能逃脱她的眼睛。 公主为人傲慢,目空一切,并希望永远独揽大权,而且她又对外宣称,如果有人想成为她的丈夫,就得躲起来让她找不着,否则就别想得太美。 有人来试过了,结果被发现了,连脑袋也搬了家,挂在了柱子上。 现在城外已经立着九十七根柱子,每根上面都挂着一个人头,很长一段时间内没有人敢来一试了。 公主这下可高兴啦! 心想:"这下我可以永远自由自在了。"不久宫廷里来了三兄弟,声称想试试自己的运气。 老大想只要爬进石灰窑就可万事大吉了,结果公主从第一扇窗口便瞧见了他,便叫他出来,杀了他的头。 老二爬进宫殿下的地窖,公主又从第一扇窗口瞧见了他,结果他也惨遭了同样的命运,脑袋被挂在了第九十九根柱子上。 最后老三走上前去,乞求公主给他一段时间考虑,并请她发发慈悲,给他两次机会,如果第三次不成,便自甘认命。 公主瞧他长得英俊,乞求又诚恳,最后还是答应了,"好吧!我就让你试试吧,不过你休想得逞。"
他怎么才能逃过她的眼睛呢? 年青人想了好久,可就是想不出好法子。 他干脆扛着枪打猎去了。 看见远处有一只乌鸦,他仔细瞄准,正要开枪,乌鸦突然叫道:"别开枪,我会报答你的!"他放下了枪,继续往前赶,不久便来到了一片湖水旁。 在那儿他发现了一条鱼从水的深处跃上水面,他又举枪瞄准了,鱼儿叫道:"别开枪,我会报答你的!"他于是让鱼儿继续跃上跃下。 接着他又遇到一只跛脚的狐狸,他开了枪不过没有打中,只听狐狸叫道:"你最好帮我把脚上的刺拔出来。"他于是照做了。 可当他正要杀掉狐狸并剥下它的皮时,狐狸叫道:"别杀我!我会报答你的!"这位年轻人放走了它。
明天他就得躲起来,但无论他怎样绞尽脑汁,都想不出个藏身之处。 他走进了森林,来到了乌鸦的跟前说:"我让你活了命,现在告诉我该躲到何处 ,这样公主才看不见我。 "乌鸦低头沉思了好一会,最后他哇哇大叫着说,"有办法了! "它从自己的窝里掏出一个个蛋,破成两半,然后把年青人关在里面,蛋壳又缝合如初,它又坐在上面。当公主走到第一扇窗口时,没能看见他,其它几扇窗口也看不见,于是她开始不安起来了。但当她到了第十一扇窗口时,她终于瞧见了他。她命令手下开枪杀死了乌鸦,把蛋带来破开,年青人只得出来了。她说:"我已饶了你一次,你好自为之,否则你就完了! "
第二天他来到了湖边,把鱼儿招到身边,说:"我放过你的生,现在告诉我该躲在何处,这样公主才看不见我。"鱼儿想了一会儿,最后较道:"有了!我可以把你藏在我肚子里。"鱼儿把他吞进肚内,游入湖底。 公主从窗口往外瞧,既使在第十一扇窗口也没能看见,这下她可慌了。 不过在最后一扇窗口她还是瞧见了他,于是命令手下把鱼儿抓来杀掉,年青人钻了出来,现在他的心情就可想而知了。 公主说:"我已饶了你两次,小心你的脑袋别挂在第一百根柱子上。"
最后一天,他心事重重地走到郊外,又遇到了狐狸。 "你可是个找藏身处的行家,"他说,"我可饶过你的命,现在告诉我该躲在何处,这样公主才看不见我呢?""那可难了,"狐狸答道,露出一副若有所思的样子,最后他叫道,"有了!"于是领着他走到泉水旁。 他跳了进去,然后又冒了出来,模样恰似市集上的摊贩,专营皮货的商人。 年青人只得也跟着跳入水中,马上变成了一只小海兔。 商人来到城里,展出了这只小动物。 许多人都围上来看希奇,最后公主也来了,对这小家伙爱不释手,于是买下了它,给了商人一大笔钱。 商人在把小海兔交给公主前,对小海兔说:"等公主走到窗前时,赶快爬到她辫子下。"现在轮到公主来找他了。 她走到窗前,一扇挨着一扇,从第一扇到第十一扇窗口查看,可她竟都看不见他。 既使是到第十二扇窗口也没有瞧见,这下她变得惶恐不安了。 只见她愤怒万分,猛地关上窗户,结果窗户上的玻璃碎成了无数块,整个城堡都给震动了! "
她转过身来,正好和自己发辫下的海兔碰了个满怀。 她一把抓起海兔,扔在地上,大叫:"滚开!给我滚得远远的!"海兔立刻奔向商人。 他们俩急匆匆地奔向泉水边,扑嗵一声跳入水中 ,从此又恢复了原形。 年轻人感谢了狐狸,并说:"和你比起来,乌鸦和鱼儿真是大傻瓜,你真是诡计多端,名不虚传啊!"
年轻人径直来到宫廷,公主早就在那儿等着他了,从此她接受了命运的安排。 婚礼举行得很隆重,现在他已做了国王,成了一国之君了。 至于第三次他藏在何处,谁帮助了他,他可从未告诉过妻子,于是她就以为他是凭借自己的能力做到一切的,从此公主也更加敬重他,因为她想:"他可比我更有能耐。"

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