Verkita de Hans Christian Andersen
Tradukita de HeYafu
Tre disprokse ce la lando, tie, kie la hirundos flugan al, antaw ol mua wintro venan, lojin kingo, kiu havin dek-un filulos ay un filino, Elizo. La dek-un fratulos, kiu kompreneble esin kingidos, iradin al la lerneyo kum stelo sur la brusto ay sabro ce la flanko. Lu skribadin sur golda tabelos per diamonda pencilos, ay lu lernadin la lesonos tre rapide; oni povin tuy koni, ke lu esan kingidos. Lua fratino Elizo sidadin sur sidilo el spegela vitro ay havin pikturolibro, kiu kostin biono de kinglando.
Ho, la infanos esin tre felice, sed bedawrinde ne por ciam devin resti tiel!
Lua patro, kiu esin kingo super la tuta lando, wedin kum evila kingino, kiu tute ne amin la kompatinda infanos. Yam je la unu tago pos la wedo lu povin klare rimarki tio. En la palaso esin granda festo, ay tiam la infanos ludin "Mu ricevan gestos"; sed insted ricevin kakos ay rostita pomos kiel antawe, xi donin al lu nur sando en taso ay dirin, ke lu povan imagi al si, ke tio esan kako.
Pos un weko xi transdonin la disbiga Elizo al un vilaja familo ce la kamparo, ay dum nelonga tempo xi dirin al la kingo pri la kompatinda kingidos tiom multe da malo, ke hi tute cesin zorgi pri lu.
"Flugez alen la mondo ay zorgez yuself!" dirin la evila kingino, "flugez en la formo de granda birdos sen voco." Tamen xi ne povin atingi la malo en tia grado, kiel xi intendin. Lu aliformisin al dek-un bela wilda swanos. Kum stranga krio lu flugin tra la fenestros de la palaso trans la parko ay la arbaro.
Esin ankore frumorne, kiam lu flugin preter tiu vilajana domo, en kiu lua fratino tiam kuxin en la bedo ay dormin. Lu xwebin super la tegmento, turnadin sia longa kolos ay frapadin per la flugilos, sed niu vidin tio nek awdin. Lu devin denove flugi plue, alte al la nubos, for en la disproksa mondo, kie lu flugin til granda disluma arbaro, kiu etendisin til la bordo de la maro.¡¡
La kompatinda disbiga Elizo restin en la vilajana cambro ay ludin kum verda folio, car xi ne havin alia ludilos. Xi trapikin truo en la folio, rigardin tra ji al la suno, ay tiam simin al xi, kwaz xi vidan la luma okulos de sia fratulos; ay ciufoye, kiam la warma radios de la suno lumin sur xia vangos, xi rememorin ciu lua kisos.
Tagos pos tagos pasin. Kiam la vento blovin tra la rozarbedos antaw la domo, ji flustrin al la rozos: "Kiu povan esi mor bela ol yu?" Sed la rozos skuin la hedos ay dirin: "Elizo esan!" Ay kiam sunde la disyunino sidin antaw la pordo ay legin sia prejolibro, tiam la vento blovin la folios ay dirin al la prejolibro: "Kiu esan mor pia ol yi?" "Elizo esan!" respondin la prejolibro. Ay la rozos ay la prejolibro dirin la pura vero.
Kiam xi atingin la ajo de dek-kwin yeros, xi devin reveni home. Sed kiam la kingino ekvidin xia eksterordinara beleco, xia koro plenisin de kolero ay disamo konter la yunino. Xi anke volunte aliformizuz sia bionfilino, simile al xia fratulos, al wilda swano, sed xi ne darin tuy fari tio, car la kingo ja volin vidi sia filino.¡¡
Frue morne la kingino irin alen baneyo, kiu esin konstruita el marblo ay aranjita kum mola kusenos ay most bela tapicos. Xi prenin tri bufos, kisin ju ay dirin al un el ju: "Kiam Elizo venon al baneyo, sidez sur xia hedo, por ke xi farisez tiel stulta kiel yi!" Al la biu xi dirin: "Sidez sur xia frunto, por ke xi farisez tiel disbela kiel yi, por ke xia patro ne rekonez xi!" Al la triu xi flustrin: "Kuxez sur xia koro, por ke xi ricevez mala koro, por ke xi pro tio havez suferos!"
Pose xi putin la bufos alen la klara hidro, kiu tuy farisin verda koloro. Xi vokin Elizo, sendresizin xi ay enirizin xi alen la hidro. Kiam Elizo subhidrisin, un bufo sidin sur xia haros, la biu sur xia frunto ay la triu sur xia brusto, sed Elizo kwaz tute ne rimarkin ju. Kiam xi denove levisin, tri reda papavofloros flosin sur la hidro. If la bestos ne esuz venoma ay if ju ne esuz ricevinta kiso de la sorcino, ju aliformisuz al reda rozos; ju tamen farisin floros pro tio, ke ju kuxin sur xia hedo ay sur xia brusto. Xi esin tro pia ay senkulpa, ke la sorca arto povez havi forto sur xi.
Kiam la evila kingino vidin tio, xi frotin Elizo per suko de walnuto, tiel ke xi farisin tute dislume bruna, smirin xia bela faso per malodora smiraco ay disordizin xia bela haros. Esin neeble rekoni la bela Elizo.
Kiam xia patro vidin xi en tia stato, hi eksentin teruro ay dirin, ke tio ne esan hia filino. Niu rekoni xi, escept la antawpordega dogo ay la hirundos, sed ju esin mizera animalos ay ne povan diri.
Tiam la disfelica Elizo ekplorin ay rememorin sia dek-un fratulos, kiu ciu disaperin. Disjoye xi elirin stile el la palaso ay irin dum la tuta tago tra kampos ay marxos, til xi venin al la granda arbaro. Xi ne konin, al kie xi volan iri, sed en sia disjoyo xi sopirin al sia fratulos, kiu certe, simile al xi, esin elpelita alen la mondo. Xi volin serci hu, ay xi esperin, ke xi trovon hu.
Pos kiam xi esin en la arbaro por dislonga tempo, farisin nokto. Xi tute perdin la voyo. Xi kuxin sur la mola moso, farin sia vespa prejo ay apogin sia hedo al stubo de arbo. Esin tiel senbrue, la aero esin tiel milda, ay cirkume en la graso ay sur la moso briletin per verdeta lumo mor ol cent lampflugos. Kiam xi iomete ektucin un branco per la mano, la lumanta insektos falin dawn al xi kiel falanta stelos.
Dum la tuta nokto xi drimin pri sia fratulos; lu denove ludin kiel infanos, skribin per diamonda pencilos sur golda tabelos ay rigardin la bela pikturolibro, kiu kostin biono de kinglando. Sed sur la tabelos lu skribin ne nulos ay linos, kiel iam antawe, sed la kuraja faros, kiu lu plenumin--cio, kio lu travivin ay vidin. En la pikturolibro cio esin vivanta, la birdos kantin, la humos elirin el la libro ay parlin kum Elizo ay kum xia fratulos, sed kiam xi transizin la folios, lu tuy returne ensaltin, por ke ne farisez disordo inter la pikturos.
Kiam xi wakisin, la suno levisin yam alte, fakte xi ne povin vidi ji, car la alta arbos etendin dense sia brancos, sed la lumo radiin tie supre kiel flugetanta dispeza teksaco. Tre agrabla odoro elisadin el la verdaco, ay la birdos preske sidin sur la xuldros de Elizo. Xi awdin la plawdado de hidro, kiu kawzin multe da abunda fontos, kiu ciu verxisadin alen lago, kius botomo konsistin el most bela sandos. Kwankam cirkume kreskin densa arbedos, tamen sur un loko la cervos farin granda disferma loko, ay en tiu direkto Elizo irin al la hidro.
La lago esin tiel klara, ke, if la vento ne movuz la brancos de la arbos ay la arbedos, oni povuz preske kredi, ke ju esan pentrita sur la botomo, car ciu folio, kiu ayn situin ce la ombro or la sunlumo, esin klare reflektita en la hidro.
Kiam xi vidin sia propra faso, xi eksentin granda teruro, tiel bruna ay disbela xi esin. Sed kiam xi wetizin sia disbiga mano ay frotin sia okulos ay frunto, aperin denove xia wayta dermo. Tiam xi diswerin sia dresos ay enirin alen la frexa hidro, mor bela kingidino ol xi trovisin nie en la mondo.
Kiam xi denove dresin si ay plektin sia longa haros, xi irin al la spurtanta fonto, trinkin el sia kavizita mano ay irin al mor profunde en la arbaro, ne konante al kie xi irin. Xi pensin pri sia fratulos, pensin pri la bona God, kiu certe ne forlason xi. Ay Li, kiu krein la wilda arbara frutos, montrin anke al xi arbo, kius brancos bendin sub sia frutos. Tie xi manjin sia tagmanjo, putin apogilos sub la brancos ay pose irin alen la most disluma parto de la arbaro.
Tie esin tiel silente, ke xi awdin sia propra stepos ay ciu velkinta folio, kiu fleksin sub xia pedos. Even un birdo oni tie ne povin vidi, even un radio de la suno ne povin penetri tra la densa ay granda brancos de la arbos. La alta trunkos starin tiel dense un apud la alia, ke kiam xi rigardin antaw si, simin al xi, ke xi esin cirkumata de densa barilo el trabos. Tie esin tia isoliteco, kiu xi niam antawe spertin.
La nokto farisin tute disluma. Even un lampflugo ne brilin el la moso; disjoye xi kuxin por dormi. Tiam simin al xi, kwaz la arbobrancos super xi difisin flanke ay la bona Godo per milda okulos rigardan dawn sur xi ay anjelos rigardan super Lia hedo ay sub Lia brakos.
Kiam en la neksta morno xi wakisin, xi ne konin, cu xi nur drimin or cu tio esin realo.
Trairinte kelke da stepos, xi metin disyunino, kiu portin beros en sia korbo. La disyunino donin al xi kelke da beros. Elizo askin, cu xi ne vidin dek-un kingidos, raydanta tra la arbaro.
"Ne", dirin la disyunino, "sed hiere mi vidin dek-un swanos kum golda kronos sur la hedo, swimanta law la rivo."
Xi kondukin Elizo kelka distanso plue til deklivo, ce kius bazo brue fluin rivo. La arbos sur sia bordos etendin sia longa brancos trans la rivo ay interplektin, ay tie, kie la arbos per sia natura kreskado ne povin interatingisi, ju elxirin sia radikos el la tero ay pendin, interplektisinte per la brancos, super la hidro.¡¡
Elizo dirin adiu al la disyunino ay irin law la rivo til xi atingin jia enflueyo.
Nun la tuta bela maro kuxin antaw la yunino. Sed even un velo ne montrisin tie, ne esin videbla even un bowto. Kiel xi povuz irin plue? Xi rigardin la sennombra disbiga stonos sur la bordo; la hidro per konstanta tornado donin al ju ronda formo. Vitro, fero, stonos, cio, kio kuxin tie, akceptin tiu formo, kiu esin ja mor glata ol xia delika mano.
"Senfatige ji rulan ay rulan, ay tiamanere la hardaco glatisan; mi anke volan esi tiel senfatiga! Mi dankan yi pro yia instruo, yi klara rulanta ondos! Mia koro diran tio al mi, yi porton mi al mia dera fratulos!"
Sur la drifta mara graso kuxin dek-un wayta plumos de swanos; xi kolektin ju ay farin el ju bukedo. Gutos da hidro trovisin sur ju; cu tio esan roso or larmos, tio niu povin diri. Tie sur la bordo esin tre solece, sed xi ne sentin tio, car la maro prezentin konstanta canjisos, en la duro de kelke da horos mor multe ol la sensala lagos povan prezenti en la duro de tuta yero. Kiam aperin granda blaka nubo, oni havin impreso, kwaz la maro volan diri: "Mi anke povan aspekti dislume!" Kiam vento blovin, la ondos farisin wayta skumo. Sed kiam la nubos redisin ay la vento kwietisin, la maro farisin kiel folio de rozo; yen ji aspektin verde, yen wayte, sed kiel ayn senbrua ay trankwila ji esin, ciam tamen ce la bordo esin negranda movisado; la hidro levisadin disforte, kiel la brusto de dormanta infano.
Kiam la suno esin tuy subironta, Elizo ekvidin dek-un wilda swanos kum golda kronos sur la hedo, fluganta al la bordo; un pos la alia, tio aspektin kiel longa wayta rubando. Tiam Elizo irin ep la deklivo ay hidin si pos arbedos. La swanos descendin sur la tero apude de xi ay flapin per sia granda wayta flugilos.
Kiam la suno disaperin sub la hidro, la velvos de la swanos sudene falin, ay tiam montrisin dek-un bela kingidos, la fratulos de Elizo. Xi lawde kriin, car kwankam hu multe canjisin, xi tamen konin, ke tio esan hu, xi sentin, ke tio devin esi hu; ay xi ensaltin en hua brakos, vokin hua nomos, ay hu esin senfine felica, kiam hu ekvidin ay rekonin sia fratino, kiu nun esin tiel granda ay bela. Lu lafin ay plorin, ay lu balde reciproke klarizin al si, kiel evile lua step-matro aktin konter lu ciu.
"Mu fratulos," dirin la most aja, "flugadan kiel wilda swanos tiel longe, kiel la suno staran sur la celo; kiam ji subiran, mu ricevan returne mua huma formo. Tial mua cefa zorgado devan konsisti en tio, ke je la momento de la sunsubiro mu havez sub mua pedos firma grundo, car if mu tiam fluguz ankore inter la nubos, mu tiam, kiel humos, devuz fali dawn alen la maro.
Mu ne lojan ci tie; transe de la maro trovisan lando tiel same bela, kiel ci tiu; la voyo al tie esan longa, mu devan transflugi la granda maro, ay sur mua voyo trovisan niu insulo, sur kiu mu povuz pasi la nokto. Nur un sola roko elstaran mide de tiu voyo; ji esan nur juste tiel biga, ke mu povan ripozi sur ji dense flanko ce flanko. Kiam la maro esan distrankwila, tiam la hidro frapin alte super mu; spite tio mu tamen dankan Godo pro ji. Tie mu pasin la nokto en mua huma formo; sen ji mu niam povuz revidi mua dera patrolando, car mu okupan bi most longa tagos de la yero por mua transflugo.
¡°Ciuyere nur un foyo esan al mu permesite viziti mua patra homo. Mu havan la permeso resti tie dum dek-un tagos, flugi trans ci tiu granda arbaro, rigardi de tie la palaso, en kiu mu naskisin ay kie lojan mua patro, vidi la alta tawro de la prejeyo, en kiu mua matro esan sepultita. Ci tie la arbos ay arbedos siman esi kinos al mu, ci tie wilda horsos galopan tra la vasta ebenos, kiel mu vidin tio en mua infaneco; ci tie la karbistos kantan la disnova kantos, law kiu mu en mua infaneco tiel ofte dansan; ci tie esan mua patrolando, ay mua koro tiran mu al ci tie, ay ci tie mu trovin yi, mua dera fratino. Ankore dum bi tagos esan permesite al mu resti ci tie, pose mu devan flugi trans la maro al bela lando, kiu tamen ne esan mua patrolando. Sed kiel mu povez preni yi kum mu? Mu ne havan xipo nek bowto."
"Kio mi povan fari, por liberizi yi?" askin la fratino.
Lu interparlin preske dum la tuta nokto, nur dormetin por kelke da horos.
Elizo wakisin de la bruo de la swana flugilos, kiu movisin super xi. La fratulos denove canjisin al swanos, flugin en granda rondos, ay fine hu forflugin disprokse, tamen restin un el hu, la most yuna. La swano putin sia hedo sur xia brusto, ay xi karesin hia plumos. Dum la tuta tago lu restin kume. Vespe la alia revenin, ay kiam la suno subirin; hu aperin en sia huma formos.
"Morge mu forflugon de ci tie, ay mu ne povon reveni mor frue ol pos un yero; sed mu niel povan tiel forlasi yi! Cu yi havan kurajo por akompani mu? Mua brakos esan sufice forta, por porti yi tra la arbaro; cu la flugilos de mu ciu ne havuz sufica forto, por flugi kum yi trans la maro?"
"Yes, prenez mi kum yu!" dirin Elizo.
Lu pasin la tuta nokto en tio, ke el elasta xelo de saliko ay ridos lu plektin fortika ay biga neto; sur ji Elizo kuxin. Kiam la suno levisin ay la fratulos aliformisin al wilda swanos, hu prenin la neto per sia bekos ay ekflugin alte al la nubos kum sia dera fratino, kiu ankore dolce dormin. La radios de la suno brilin al xi rekte sur xia faso, tial un el la swanos xwebin super xia hedo, por ombrisin per sia larja flugilos.
Lu esin yam disprokse de la tero, kiam Elizo wakisin. Simin al xi, ke xi ankore driman, tiel stranga siman al xi la fakto, ke xi esan portata tra la aero alte super la maro. Flanke de xi kuxin branco kum bela matura beros ay fasko da aroma radikos. La most yuna fratulo kolektin ay putin ju apud xi, ay danke xi lafetin al hi, car xi konin, ke tio esin hi, kiu flugin super xia hedo ay ombrin xi per la flugilos.
Lu flugin tiel alte, ke la unu xipo, kiu lu ekvidin sub si, aperin al lu kiel mevo, kuxanta sur la hidro. Granda nubo trovisin pos lu, havante la formo de montos, ay sur tiu nubo Elizo rimarkin sia propra ombro ay la ombro de la dek-un swanos, Lua rapida flugado vidisin grandega. Tio esin simila al pikturo, kiu xi niam antawe vidin. Sed iom pos iom, kiam la suno levisin mor alte ay la nubo restin disprokse sub lu, la xwebanta ombra pikturo disaperin.
Dum la tuta tago lu flugin sencese, kiel sago flugan tra la aero, tamen nun, kiam lu devin porti sia fratino, la flugado esin senteble les rapida ol ordinare. Yen preparisin fulmotondro ay la vespo alproksisin. Kum zorgego Elizo vidin, ke la suno mor ay mor sinkan ay ankore oni ne vidan la soleca roko en la maro. Xi havin la impreso, ke la swanos mor forte flapan per la flugilos.
Ho ve! xi esin la kulpo, ke hu ne povin flugi sufice rapide! Kiam la suno eson subirinta, hu tuy devon farisi humos, fali alen la maro ay droni. Tiam xi el most profunda koro prejin al Godo; xi tamen rimarkin ankore nia roko. La blaka nubo ciam mor ay mor alproksisin, la forta vento antawdirin stormo. La nubos kumbulisin en un sola, granda, menasa maso, kiu en formo de bulego da plumbo xovisadin frontwarde. Fulmos flaxin un pos alia.
Yen la suno atingin la levelo de la maro. La koro de Elizo forte batin. Sudene la swanos ekflugin dawn, tiel rapide, ke xi pensin, ke xi falan. Sed lu denove xwebin. Kiam la suno yam bione subhidrisin, xi nur tiam rimarkin la disbiga roko sub si. Ji aspektin ne mor biga ol foko, kiu levin la hedo el la hidro.
La suno rapide sinkin; nur dislarja kiel stelo kiam lua pedos ektucin firma grundo. La lumo de la suno estingisin kiel lasta sparko de brulanta papero. Xi vidin, ke la fratulos staran cirkum xi brako en brako, sed ne esin mor da spaso, ol esin necesa por hu ay xi. La maro frapadin sur la roko ay kovrin lu kiel pluvego; la celo lumin, kwaz ji esuz en flamos, ay la tondro bruin frapo pos frapo. Sed la fratino ay la fratulos tenin si reciproke ye la manos ay kantin prejos, el kiu lu cerpin konsolo ay kurajo.
Kiam tagisi, la aero esin pura ay trankwila. Tuy kiam la suno levisin, la swanos kum Elizo forflugin de la roko. La maro ankore alte levisadin, tiel ke, xwebante alte en la aero, lu havin la impreso, kwaz la wayta skumo sur la dislume verda maro esan milionos da swanos, kiu flosan sur la hidro.
Kiam la suno levisin mor alte, Elizo rimarkin antaw si, flosanta en la aero, monta lando kum brilanta glasiamasos sur la topos, ay ce la mido de tiu lando etendisin vasta palaso kum un fantasa kolunaro super la alia. En la botomo palma arbos ondisadin ay bela floros florin tiel granda kiel muelrados. Xi askin, cu tiu lando esan la golo de lua voyajo, sed la swanos skuin la hedo, car tio, kio xi vidin, esin la belega, konstante canjisanta nuba palaso de la feino Fata-Morgana. Niu humo povan eniri tie.¡¡
Elizo rigardin la sceno. Sudene la montos, arbaros ay la palaso disaperin, ay insted ju aperin bidek majesta prejeyos, ciu simila un al la alia, kum alta tawros ay pinta fenestros. Simin al xi, ke xi awdan la sono de orgeno; sed tio, kio xi awdin, esin nur la murmuro de la maro.
Xi esin yam tute proksa al la prejeyos, tiam ju aliformisin al floto de xipos, kiu veturin sub xi. Xi ekrigardin atente, ay tiam montrisin, ke tio esan nur la mara nebulo, kiu rulisadin super la hidro. Yes, sencesa aliformisos prezentin antaw xia okulos. Sed xi ekvidin anke la reala lando, al kiu lu irin. Tie starin bela blua montos kum cedra arbaros, urbos ay palasos. Longe antaw la sunsubiro xi sidin sur roko antaw granda kaverno, kiu esin cirkumkreskita de delika verda rampa plantos, kiu aspektin kiel brodita tapicos.¡¡
"Nun mu rigardon, kio yi drimon ci nokte!" dirin la most yuna fratulo ay montrin al xi xia dormcambro.
"Ho mi esperan, ke mi drimuz, kiel mi povan liberizi yu!" xi respondin.
Tiu penso okupadin xi tiel vive, xi tiel plenkore petadin Godo pri helpo, even dum la dormo xia spirito kontinuin preji, ke fine eksimin al xi, ke xi flugan alte en la aero al la nuba palaso de Fata-Morgano, ay la feino elirin meti xi, bela ay brilanta. Ay tamen xi similin al la disyunino; kiu en la arbaro donin al xi beros ay rakontin al xi pri la swanos kum la golda kronos.
"Yia fratulos povan esi liberizita!" xi dirin, "sed cu yi havan kurajo ay persisto? Mara hidro esan mor mola ol yia delika manos ay tamen ji aliformizan la harda stonos, sed ji ne sentan doloro, kiu yia fingros senton, ji ne havan koro, ne suferan la timo ay tormento, kiu yi devon tratoleri.
¡°Cu yi vidan ci tiu urtiko, kiu mi tenan en mia mano? El la sama speco kreskan multe cirkum la kaverno, en kiu yi dorman. Nur tiu, kiu kreskan el la tombos de la prejeyo, esan usebla. Rimarkez: yi devan kolekti ju, kwankam ju brulwundon yi tiel, ke yia manos eson plena de vezikos. Kiam yi baton la urtiko per yia pedos, yi ricevon lino, el kiu yi devan plekti dek-un kirasos kum longa maniko; jetez ju sur la dek-un swanos, tiam la sorco pason.
¡°Sed memorez, ke de la komenco til la fino de tiu tasko, even if ji duruz yeros, yi ne devan parli; la unu wordo, kiu eliron el yia lipos, frapon kiel mortiza ponardo la koros de yia fratulos; lua vivos dependan de yia tongo. Memorez?ci tio al yi!"
Tiam xi ektucin la mano de Elizo per la urtiko; ci tiu brulin kiel fayro, tiel ke Elizo wakisin de doloro. Esin luma, hela tago, ay tute apud la loko, kie xi dormin, kuxin urtiko simila al tiu, kiu xi vidin, en la drimo. Tiam xi genuin sur la grundo, dankin Godo ay elirin el la kaverno, por tuy komenci sia worko.¡¡
Per sia delika manos xi komencin xiri la abomena urtiko, kiu efikin kiel fayro. Sur xia manos ay brakos aperin granda vezikos, sed volunte xi esin preta suferi tio, if xi povon per tio liberizi sia fratulos. Xi batin ciu urtiko per sia nuda pedos ay plektin la verda flakso.
Kiam la suno subirin, la fratulos venin ay eksentin teruro, kiam hu trovin, ke xi esan muta. En la komenco hu pensin, ke tio esan nova sorco de lua evila step-matro. Sed kiam hu ekvidin xia manos, hu komprenin, kio xi faran por hu. La most yuna fratulo plorin, ay tie, kie hia larmos falin, xi ne plu sentin doloro, ay la brulanta vezikos disaperin.
Xi pasin la nokto ye sia worko, car xi ne povin havi trankwilo til xi liberizon sia fratulos. En la duro de la tuta sekwanta tago, dum la swanos foresin, xi sidin en sia soleco, sed niam la tempo tiel rapide forflugin por xi. Un kiraso esin yam preta, ay xi komencin la biu.
Kiam inter la montos ekawdisin la sonos de caskorno, xi ektimin. La sonos farisin mor ay mor proksa; xi awdin yelpo de hundos. Terurite xi fujin alen la kaverno. Xi ligin al un fasko la urtikos, kiu xi kolektin ay pretizin, ay sidin sur ji.¡¡
Sudene granda hundo alsaltin el inter la arbedos, ay tuy pose alia ay ankore alia. Pos kelke da minutos ciu casistos starin antaw la pordo. La most bela el lu esin la kingo de la lando, kiu nun irin al Elizo. Niam hi vidin mor bela yunino.
"De kie yi venin, dolca infano?" hi askin.
Elizo skuin la hedo, xi ne darin parli, car de tio dependin la vivo ay savo de xia fratulos. Xi hidin sia manos sub la aprono, por ke la kingo ne videz, kio xi devan suferi.
"Venez kum mi!" hi dirin, "ci tie yi ne devan resti. If yi esan tiel same bona, kiel yi esan bela, mi dreson yi per velvo ay silko, mi puton golda krono sur yia hedo, ay yi lojon en mia most rica palaso!"
Ay hi levin xi sur sia horso. Xi plorin ay tordin sia manos, sed la kingo dirin: "Mi deziran nur yia felico, iam yi dankon mi pro tio!" Ay hi galopin fore inter la montos, tenin xi antaw si sur la horso, ay la casistos sekwin pos hi.
Kiam la suno subirin, antaw lu kuxin bela royala urbo kum prejeyos ay kupolos, ay la kingo enkondukin xi alen la palaso, kie en la alta marbla halos granda fontos spurtin, kie la muros ay plafonos esin ornamita per rica pentracos.
Sed xi ne volin rigardi tio, xi plorin ay disjoyin. Kontervole xi tolerin, kiam la huminos putin royala dresos sur xi, plektin perlos en xia haros ay surtirin delika gantos sur xia vezika fingros.
Kiam xi starin en sia rica dreso, xi esin tiel ravante bela, ke la kortego profunde klinin antaw xi, ay la kingo elektin xi, ke xi esez hia fiancino, kwankam la cefbixopo skuin la hedo ay flustrin, ke la bela arbara yunino certe esan sorcino, ke xi blindizin lua okulos ay trompin la koro de la kingo.¡¡
Sed la kingo ne awskultin tio, hi orderin, ke muziko ludez, ke oni putez la most delika manjacos sur la tablo, ke la most carma yuninos dansez cirkum xi. Pose oni kondukin xi tra bonodora gardenos ay most luksa halos. Sed even un lafeto ne aperin sur xia buxo or ne sparkin el xia okulos; oni vidin en ju nur disjoyo ay cagreno.
La kingo disfermin la pordo de un cambro, kie xi esin dormonta. Ji esin ornamita per bela verda tapicos ay tute similin al la kaverno, en kiu la kingo trovin xi. Sur la planko kuxin la fasko da flakso, kiu xi esin spininta el la urtikos, ay sub la plafono pendin la kiraso, kiu esin yam prete plektita. Cio ci tio esin kumprenita de un el la casistos kiel rimarkindacos.
"Ci tie yi povan drimi, kwaz yi esan en yia antawa homo!" dirin la kingo. "Yen esan la worko, kiu tie okupadin yi. Nun, mide de yia lukso, eson al yi interese pensi pri la pasinta tempo."
Kiam Elizo vidin tio, kio esin tiel dera por xia koro, lafeto aperin sur xia buxo ay la sango revenin al xia vangos; xi pensin pri la liberizo de sia fratulos. Xi kisin la mano de la kingo; ay hi premin xi al sia koro. Tiam hi orderin, ke per ciu prejeya sonorilos oni anonsez la wedofesto. La bela muta yunino el la arbaro farisin la kingino de la lando.
Kwankam la cefbixopo flustrin mala wordos en la orelo de la kingo, ju tamen ne penetrin alen hia koro; la wedo restin decidita, la cefbixopo self devin puti la krono sur xia hedo, ay en sia kolero hi premin la ringego de la krono tiel forte al xia frunto, ke tio farin al xi doloro. Sed mor peza ringego cirkumin xia koro: la cagreno pri sia fratulos; kompare kum tio la korpa sufero esin nio.
Xia buxo esin muta, car un sola wordo mortizuz xia fratulos, sed xia okulos spegelin xia interna lovo al la bona, bela kingo, kiu faradin cio por joyizi xi. Xi lovin hi kum ciu tago mor warme ay mor sincere. Ho, if esuz permesite al xi konfidi si al hi, konfesi al hi sia suferado! Sed xi devin esi muta, xi devin mute plenumi sia worko. Tial en la nokto xi sekre forisadin de hia flanko, iradin alen sia cambreto, kiu esin aranjita kiel la kaverno, ay xi plektin un kiraso pos la alia.
Sed kiam xi komencin la sepu, xi ne plu havin flakso. Xi konin, ke la urtikos, kiu xi nidan usi, kreskan ce la tombeyo, sed xi devin selfe plukin; kiel nun xi fari tio? "Ho, kio la doloro de mia fingros signifan kompare kum la tormento, kiu mia koro suferan!" xi pensin, "mi devan riski, Godo ne forlason mi!"
Kum kora timo, kwaz xi entreprenuz mala afero, xi je un lunluma nokto furte irin al la gardeno, ay tra la longa patos ay dezerta stratos xi atingin la tombeyo.
Tie sur un el la most larja tomba stonos xi vidin grupo da disbela sorcistos. Lu diswerin sia ragos, kwaz lu voluz bani si, ay per sia longa, magra fingros lu digin en la frexa tombos ay elprenin la kadavro ay manjin la karno! Elizo devin iri tute prokse preter lu, ay lu fiksin sia mala rigardos sur xi, sed xi prejin silente, kolektin la brulanta urtikos ay prenin ju kum si al la palaso.
Nur un sola humo vidin xi, la cefbixopo; hi ankore ne dormin, kiam la alia dormin. Nun hi pensin, ke sia opinio esin korekta, ke xi ne devin esi kingino; xi esin sorcino, ay tial xi sorcin la kingo ay la tuta peplo.
Sekre hi rakontin al la kingo, kio hi vidin ay kio hi timan; ay kiam hia tongo parlin tiu disjusta wordos, la skulptita pikturos de la sanktoros skuin sia hedos, kwaz lu voluz diri: "Ne esan tiel, Elizo esan senkulpa!" Sed la cefbixopo komentin tio alie, hi asertin, ke lu atestan konter xi, ke lu skuan la hedos pri xia pekos.
Tiam bi granda larmos fluin dawn sur la vangos de la kingo, ay kum dubo en la koro hi irin home. En la nokto hi pretendin, ke hi dorman, sed trankwila dormo ne venin al hia okulos; hi rimarkin, kiel Elizo levisin, kiel xi ripetin tio ciunokte, ay ciufoye hi senbrue sekwin xi ay vidin, kiel xi disaperan en sia cambreto.
Kum ciu tago hia mieno farisin mor disluma. Elizo vidin tio, sed xi ne komprenin la kawzo. Tio tormentin xi, ay apuds tio kiel multe xi suferin en sia koro pri sia fratulos! Xia larmos fluin dawn kiel brilanta diamondos sur la royala velvo, ay ciu, kiu vidin tiu rica belaco, dezirin esi kinginos.
Dume xi preske finin sia worko, nur un kiraso ankore mankin, sed xi ne plu havin flakso ay even ne havin un urtiko. Nur un mor foyo, ay por la lasta foyo, xi devin ankore iri al la tombeyo ay kolekti kelke da plenmanos. Kum timego xi pensin pri tiu soleca pediro, kum timego xi pensin pri la terura sorcistos, sed xia volo esin tiel firma, kiel xia fido ye la Providenso.
Elizo irin, sed la kingo ay la cefbixopo sekwin xi ay vidin, kiel xi enirin tra la pordo de la tombeyo ay disaperin. Kiam lu irin prokse al la tombeyo, lu ekvidin la sorcistos sur la tomba stono, tiel same, kiel Elizo vidin lu, ay la kingo deturnin si, car hi supozin, ke inter lu trovisan tiu, kius hedo ankore ripozin ce hia brusto je ci tiu nokto.
"La peplo kondamnez xi!" hi dirin, ay la peplo kondamnin xi al brulizo sur lignaro.
El la luksa kinga halos oni ledin xi al disluma, dampa dislibereyo, en kiu la vento fayfadin tra la krada fenestro; insted la velvo ay la silko oni donin al xi la fasko da urtikos, kiu xi kolektin; xi povin kuxizi sia hedo sur ji. La harda brulpikanta kirasos, kiu xi esin plektinta, devin servi al xi insted kusenos ay kwilto, tamen tio esin la most agrabla, kio oni povin doni al xi. Xi denove komencin sia worko ay ferve prejin al Godo. Ekstere antaw xia fenestros la strata bubos kantin mokokantos pri xi, ay niu konsolin xi per ia bona wordo.
Je dusko, antaw la krado ekbruin flugilo de swano; tio esin la most yuna el la fratulos, kiu fine trovin la fratino. Xi plorin lawde pro joyo, kwankam xi konin, ke la venonta nokto eble eson la lasta, kiu xi vivon. Sed nun xia worko esin ja preske finita ay xia fratulos esin ci tie.
La cefbixopo venin, por pasizi kum xi dum la lasta horos, kiel hi promesin al la kingo; sed xi skuin la hedo ay petin hi per la rigardo ay la mieno, ke hi forirez. En tiu nokto xi devin fini sia tasko, car alie cio esuz vana, vana esuz xia doloro, xia larmos, xia sendorma noktos. La cefbixopo forlasin xi kum kolera wordos, sed la kompatinda Elizo konsciin sia senkulpeco ay kontinuin sia worko.
La disbiga musos kuradin sur la planko, dragin la urtikos al xia pedos, por anke iom helpi, ay la turdo sidin ce la krado de la fenestro ay kantin tiel gaye, kiel ji povin, por ke xi ne perdez la kurajo.
Komencin krepuski, pos un horo la suno esin levisonta; tiam la dek-un fratulos starin antaw la pordego de la palaso ay demandin, ke oni kondukez lu al la kingo. Sed oni respondin al lu, ke tio ne povan fari, car esan ja nokto, la kingo dorman ay oni ne povan permesi al si waki hi. Lu petin, lu menasin. Fine, la gardistos venin, even la kingo self elirin el sia dormocambro ay askin, kio tio signifan; sed je tiu momento la suno levisin, ay oni plu vidin niu fratulo, sed super la palaso forflugin dek-un wilda swanos.
La tuta peplo movisin torente el la urba pordego, por vidi, kiel oni brulizon la sorcino. Mizera horso tirin la karto, sur kiu xi sidin. Oni dresin xi per palto el disdelika saktolo; xia longa aminda haros senorde ondisadin cirkum la bela hedo, xia vangos esin kadavre pala, xia lipos disforte movisadin, dum xia fingros plektadin la verda flakso. Even sur sia voyo al la morto xi ne cesin la worko, la dek kirasos kuxin antaw xia pedos, xi esin plektanta la dek-unu.
La peplo mokin xi:
"Rigardez la sorcino, kiel xi murmuran al si self; xi ne havan prejolibro en la mano, ne, xi sidan tie kum sia abomeninda sorcaco. Difxirez tio en mil pecos!"
Ciu alpuxin al xi ay volin difxiri tio. Tiam alflugin dek-un wayta swanos, lu sidin cirkum xi sur la karto ay flapin per sia granda flugilos. Tiam la peplo panike retirisin flanke.
"Tio esan signo el la heveno! xi certe esan senkulpa!" oni flustrin , sed lu ne darin lawde eldiri tio.
Nun la egzekutisto graspin xia mano. Tiam xi rapide jetin la dek-un kirasos sur la swanos, ay sudene montrisin dek-un gracia kingidos, sed la most yuna havin swana flugilo insed un el la brakos, car al hia kiraso mankin un maniko, kiu xi ankore ne finin.
"Nun mi povan parli!" xi ekkriin, "mi esan senkulpa!"
Ay la peplo, kiu vidin, kio okazin, klinin antaw xi, kiel antaw sanktino, sed xi self senvive falin en la brakos de sia fratulos, streco, cagreno ay doloro efikin sur xi.
"Yes, xi esan senkulpa!" dirin la most aja fratulo ay rakontin cio, kio okazin; ay dum hi parlin, bonodoro difisin kiel de milionos da rozos, car ciu lignopeco de la lignos elizin radikos ay brancos. Tie starin bonodora hejo, alta ay granda, kum reda rozos; sed most supre un wayta ay luma floro brilin kiel stelo.
La kingo plukin tiu floro, putin ji sur la brusto de Elizo, ay tiam xi wakisin kum paco ay felico en sia koro.
Ciu prejeya sonorilos eksonorin per si self, ay la birdos alflugin en granda amasos. Oni farin wedofesta procesio returne al la palaso, tia, kia ayn kingo niam vidin yet.
The Wild Swans
By Hans Christian Andersen
Far away in the land to which the swallows fly when it is winter, dwelt a king who had eleven sons, and one daughter, named Eliza. The eleven brothers were princes, and each went to school with a star on his breast, and a sword by his side. They wrote with diamond pencils on gold slates, and learnt their lessons so quickly and read so easily that every one might know they were princes. Their sister Eliza sat on a little stool of plate-glass, and had a book full of pictures, which had cost as much as half a kingdom.
Oh, these children were indeed happy, but it was not to remain so always. Their father, who was king of the country, married a very wicked queen, who did not love the poor children at all. They knew this from the very first day after the wedding. In the palace there were great festivities, and the children played at receiving company; but instead of having, as usual, all the cakes and apples that were left, she gave them some sand in a tea-cup, and told them to pretend it was cake.
The week after, she sent little Eliza into the country to a peasant and his wife, and then she told the king so many untrue things about the young princes, that he gave himself no more trouble respecting them.
¡°Go out into the world and get your own living,¡± said the queen. ¡°Fly like great birds, who have no voice.¡± But she could not make them ugly as she wished, for they were turned into eleven beautiful wild swans. Then, with a strange cry, they flew through the windows of the palace, over the park, to the forest beyond. It was early morning when they passed the peasant¡¯s cottage, where their sister Eliza lay asleep in her room. They hovered over the roof, twisted their long necks and flapped their wings, but no one heard them or saw them, so they were at last obliged to fly away, high up in the clouds; and over the wide world they flew till they came to a thick, dark wood, which stretched far away to the seashore.
Poor little Eliza was alone in her room playing with a green leaf, for she had no other playthings, and she pierced a hole through the leaf, and looked through it at the sun, and it was as if she saw her brothers¡¯ clear eyes, and when the warm sun shone on her cheeks, she thought of all the kisses they had given her.
One day passed just like another; sometimes the winds rustled through the leaves of the rose-bush, and would whisper to the roses, ¡°Who can be more beautiful than you!¡± But the roses would shake their heads, and say, ¡°Eliza is.¡± And when the old woman sat at the cottage door on Sunday, and read her hymn-book, the wind would flutter the leaves, and say to the book, ¡°Who can be more pious than you?¡± and then the hymn-book would answer ¡°Eliza.¡± And the roses and the hymn-book told the real truth.
At fifteen she returned home, but when the queen saw how beautiful she was, she became full of spite and hatred towards her. Willingly would she have turned her into a swan, like her brothers, but she did not dare to do so yet, because the king wished to see his daughter.
Early one morning the queen went into the bath-room; it was built of marble, and had soft cushions, trimmed with the most beautiful tapestry. She took three toads with her, and kissed them, and said to one, ¡°When Eliza comes to the bath, seat yourself upon her head, that she may become as stupid as you are.¡± Then she said to another, ¡°Place yourself on her forehead, that she may become as ugly as you are, and that her father may not know her.¡± ¡°Rest on her heart,¡± she whispered to the third, ¡°then she will have evil inclinations, and suffer in consequence.¡±
So she put the toads into the clear water, and they turned green immediately. She next called Eliza, and helped her to undress and get into the bath. As Eliza dipped her head under the water, one of the toads sat on her hair, a second on her forehead, and a third on her breast, but she did not seem to notice them, and when she rose out of the water, there were three red poppies floating upon it. Had not the creatures been venomous or been kissed by the witch, they would have been changed into red roses. At all events they became flowers, because they had rested on Eliza¡¯s head, and on her heart. She was too good and too innocent for witchcraft to have any power over her.
When the wicked queen saw this, she rubbed her face with walnut-juice, so that she was quite brown; then she tangled her beautiful hair and smeared it with disgusting ointment, till it was quite impossible to recognize the beautiful Eliza.
When her father saw her, he was much shocked, and declared she was not his daughter. No one but the watch-dog and the swallows knew her; and they were only poor animals, and could say nothing.Then poor Eliza wept, and thought of her eleven brothers, who were all away. Sorrowfully, she stole away from the palace, and walked, the whole day, over fields and moors, till she came to the great forest. She knew not in what direction to go; but she was so unhappy, and longed so for her brothers, who had been, like herself, driven out into the world, that she was determined to seek them.
She had been but a short time in the wood when night came on, and she quite lost the path; so she laid herself down on the soft moss, offered up her evening prayer, and leaned her head against the stump of a tree. All nature was still, and the soft, mild air fanned her forehead. The light of hundreds of glow-worms shone amidst the grass and the moss, like green fire; and if she touched a twig with her hand, ever so lightly, the brilliant insects fell down around her, like shooting-stars.
All night long she dreamt of her brothers. She and they were children again, playing together. She saw them writing with their diamond pencils on golden slates, while she looked at the beautiful picture-book which had cost half a kingdom. They were not writing lines and letters, as they used to do; but descriptions of the noble deeds they had performed, and of all they had discovered and seen. In the picture-book, too, everything was living. The birds sang, and the people came out of the book, and spoke to Eliza and her brothers; but, as the leaves turned over, they darted back again to their places, that all might be in order.
When she awoke, the sun was high in the heavens; yet she could not see him, for the lofty trees spread their branches thickly over her head; but his beams were glancing through the leaves here and there, like a golden mist. There was a sweet fragrance from the fresh green verdure, and the birds almost perched upon her shoulders. She heard water rippling from a number of springs, all flowing in a lake with golden sands. Bushes grew thickly round the lake, and at one spot an opening had been made by a deer, through which Eliza went down to the water.
The lake was so clear that, had not the wind rustled the branches of the trees and the bushes, so that they moved, they would have appeared as if painted in the depths of the lake; for every leaf was reflected in the water, whether it stood in the shade or the sunshine.
As soon as Eliza saw her own face, she was quite terrified at finding it so brown and ugly; but when she wetted her little hand, and rubbed her eyes and forehead, the white skin gleamed forth once more; and, after she had undressed, and dipped herself in the fresh water, a more beautiful king¡¯s daughter could not be found in the wide world.
As soon as she had dressed herself again, and braided her long hair, she went to the bubbling spring, and drank some water out of the hollow of her hand. Then she wandered far into the forest, not knowing whither she went. She thought of her brothers, and felt sure that God would not forsake her. It is God who makes the wild apples grow in the wood, to satisfy the hungry, and He now led her to one of these trees, which was so loaded with fruit, that the boughs bent beneath the weight. Here she held her noonday repast, placed props under the boughs, and then went into the gloomiest depths of the forest.
It was so still that she could hear the sound of her own footsteps, as well as the rustling of every withered leaf which she crushed under her feet. Not a bird was to be seen, not a sunbeam could penetrate through the large, dark boughs of the trees. Their lofty trunks stood so close together, that, when she looked before her, it seemed as if she were enclosed within trellis-work. Such solitude she had never known before.
The night was very dark. Not a single glow-worm glittered in the moss. Sorrowfully she laid herself down to sleep; and, after a while, it seemed to her as if the branches of the trees parted over her head, and that the mild eyes of angels looked down upon her from heaven.
When she awoke in the morning, she knew not whether she had dreamt this, or if it had really been so. Then she continued her wandering; but she had not gone many steps forward, when she met an old woman with berries in her basket, and she gave her a few to eat. Then Eliza asked her if she had not seen eleven princes riding through the forest.
¡°No,¡± replied the old woman, ¡°But I saw yesterday eleven swans, with gold crowns on their heads, swimming on the river close by.¡±
Then she led Eliza a little distance farther to a sloping bank, and at the foot of it wound a little river. The trees on its banks stretched their long leafy branches across the water towards each other, and where the growth prevented them from meeting naturally, the roots had torn themselves away from the ground, so that the branches might mingle their foliage as they hung over the water.
Eliza bade the old woman farewell, and walked by the flowing river, till she reached the shore of the open sea. And there, before the young maiden¡¯s eyes, lay the glorious ocean, but not a sail appeared on its surface, not even a boat could be seen. How was she to go farther? She noticed how the countless pebbles on the sea-shore had been smoothed and rounded by the action of the water. Glass, iron, stones, everything that lay there mingled together, had taken its shape from the same power, and felt as smooth, or even smoother than her own delicate hand.¡°The water rolls on without weariness,¡± she said, ¡°till all that is hard becomes smooth; so will I be unwearied in my task. Thanks for your lessons, bright rolling waves; my heart tells me you will lead me to my dear brothers.¡± On the foam-covered sea-weeds, lay eleven white swan feathers, which she gathered up and placed together. Drops of water lay upon them; whether they were dew-drops or tears no one could say. Lonely as it was on the sea-shore, she did not observe it, for the ever-moving sea showed more changes in a few hours than the most varying lake could produce during a whole year. If a black heavy cloud arose, it was as if the sea said, ¡°I can look dark and angry too;¡± and then the wind blew, and the waves turned to white foam as they rolled. When the wind slept, and the clouds glowed with the red sunlight, then the sea looked like a rose leaf. But however quietly its white glassy surface rested, there was still a motion on the shore, as its waves rose and fell like the breast of a sleeping child.
When the sun was about to set, Eliza saw eleven white swans with golden crowns on their heads, flying towards the land, one behind the other, like a long white ribbon. Then Eliza went down the slope from the shore, and hid herself behind the bushes. The swans alighted quite close to her and flapped their great white wings.
As soon as the sun had disappeared under the water, the feathers of the swans fell off, and eleven beautiful princes, Eliza¡¯s brothers, stood near her. She uttered a loud cry, for, although they were very much changed, she knew them immediately. She sprang into their arms, and called them each by name. Then, how happy the princes were at meeting their little sister again, for they recognized her, although she had grown so tall and beautiful. They laughed, and they wept, and very soon understood how wickedly their mother had acted to them all.
¡°We brothers,¡± said the eldest, ¡°fly about as wild swans, so long as the sun is in the sky; but as soon as it sinks behind the hills, we recover our human shape. Therefore must we always be near a resting place for our feet before sunset; for if we should be flying towards the clouds at the time we recovered our natural shape as men, we should sink deep into the sea.
We do not dwell here, but in a land just as fair, that lies beyond the ocean, which we have to cross for a long distance; there is no island in our passage upon which we could pass, the night; nothing but a little rock rising out of the sea, upon which we can scarcely stand with safety, even closely crowded together. If the sea is rough, the foam dashes over us, yet we thank God even for this rock; we have passed whole nights upon it, or we should never have reached our beloved fatherland, for our flight across the sea occupies two of the longest days in the year.
¡°We have permission to visit out home once in every year, and to remain eleven days, during which we fly across the forest to look once more at the palace where our father dwells, and where we were born, and at the church, where our mother lies buried. Here it seems as if the very trees and bushes were related to us. The wild horses leap over the plains as we have seen them in our childhood. The charcoal burners sing the old songs, to which we have danced as children. This is our fatherland, to which we are drawn by loving ties; and here we have found you, our dear little sister., Two days longer we can remain here, and then must we fly away to a beautiful land which is not our home; and how can we take you with us? We have neither ship nor boat.¡±
¡°How can I break this spell?¡± said their sister.
And then she talked about it nearly the whole night, only slumbering for a few hours. Eliza was awakened by the rustling of the swans¡¯ wings as they soared above. Her brothers were again changed to swans, and they flew in circles wider and wider, till they were far away; but one of them, the youngest swan, remained behind, and laid his head in his sister¡¯s lap, while she stroked his wings; and they remained together the whole day. Towards evening, the rest came back, and as the sun went down they resumed their natural forms.
¡°To-morrow,¡± said one, ¡°we shall fly away, not to return again till a whole year has passed. But we cannot leave you here. Have you courage to go with us? My arm is strong enough to carry you through the wood; and will not all our wings be strong enough to fly with you over the sea?¡±
¡°Yes, take me with you,¡± said Eliza.
Then they spent the whole night in weaving a net with the pliant willow and rushes. It was very large and strong. Eliza laid herself down on the net, and when the sun rose, and her brothers again became wild swans, they took up the net with their beaks, and flew up to the clouds with their dear sister, who still slept. The sunbeams fell on her face, therefore one of the swans soared over her head, so that his broad wings might shade her.
They were far from the land when Eliza woke. She thought she must still be dreaming, it seemed so strange to her to feel herself being carried so high in the air over the sea. By her side lay a branch full of beautiful ripe berries, and a bundle of sweet roots; the youngest of her brothers had gathered them for her, and placed them by her side. She smiled her thanks to him; she knew it was the same who had hovered over her to shade her with his wings.
They were now so high, that a large ship beneath them looked like a white sea-gull skimming the waves. A great cloud floating behind them appeared like a vast mountain, and upon it Eliza saw her own shadow and those of the eleven swans, looking gigantic in size. Altogether it formed a more beautiful picture than she had ever seen; but as the sun rose higher, and the clouds were left behind, the shadowy picture vanished away.
Onward the whole day they flew through the air like a winged arrow, yet more slowly than usual, for they had their sister to carry. The weather seemed inclined to be stormy, and Eliza watched the sinking sun with great anxiety, for the little rock in the ocean was not yet in sight. It appeared to her as if the swans were making great efforts with their wings.
Alas! she was the cause of their not advancing more quickly. When the sun set, they would change to men, fall into the sea and be drowned. Then she offered a prayer from her inmost heart, but still no appearance of the rock. Dark clouds came nearer, the gusts of wind told of a coming storm, while from a thick, heavy mass of clouds the lightning burst forth flash after flash.
The sun had reached the edge of the sea, when the swans darted down so swiftly, that Eliza¡¯s head trembled; she believed they were falling, but they again soared onward. Presently she caught sight of the rock just below them, and by this time the sun was half hidden by the waves. The rock did not appear larger than a seal¡¯s head thrust out of the water.
They sunk so rapidly, that at the moment their feet touched the rock, it shone only like a star, and at last disappeared like the last spark in a piece of burnt paper. Then she saw her brothers standing closely round her with their arms linked together. There was but just room enough for them, and not the smallest space to spare. The sea dashed against the rock, and covered them with spray. The heavens were lighted up with continual flashes, and peal after peal of thunder rolled. But the sister and brothers sat holding each other¡¯s hands, and singing hymns, from which they gained hope and courage.
In the early dawn the air became calm and still, and at sunrise the swans flew away from the rock with Eliza. The sea was still rough, and from their high position in the air, the white foam on the dark green waves looked like millions of swans swimming on the water.
As the sun rose higher, Eliza saw before her, floating on the air, a range of mountains, with shining masses of ice on their summits. In the centre, rose a castle apparently a mile long, with rows of columns, rising one above another, while, around it, palm-trees waved and flowers bloomed as large as mill wheels. She asked if this was the land to which they were hastening. The swans shook their heads, for what she beheld were the beautiful ever-changing cloud palaces of the ¡°Fata Morgana,¡± into which no mortal can enter.
Eliza was still gazing at the scene, when mountains, forests, and castles melted away, and twenty stately churches rose in their stead, with high towers and pointed gothic windows. Eliza even fancied she could hear the tones of the organ, but it was the music of the murmuring sea which she heard. As they drew nearer to the churches, they also changed into a fleet of ships, which seemed to be sailing beneath her; but as she looked again, she found it was only a sea mist gliding over the ocean.
So there continued to pass before her eyes a constant change of scene, till at last she saw the real land to which they were bound, with its blue mountains, its cedar forests, and its cities and palaces. Long before the sun went down, she sat on a rock, in front of a large cave, on the floor of which the over-grown yet delicate green creeping plants looked like an embroidered carpet.
¡°Now we shall expect to hear what you dream of to-night,¡± said the youngest brother, as he showed his sister her bedroom.
¡°Heaven grant that I may dream how to save you,¡± she replied.
And this thought took such hold upon her mind that she prayed earnestly to God for help, and even in her sleep she continued to pray. Then it appeared to her as if she were flying high in the air, towards the cloudy palace of the ¡°Fata Morgana,¡± and a fairy came out to meet her, radiant and beautiful in appearance, and yet very much like the old woman who had given her berries in the wood, and who had told her of the swans with golden crowns on their heads.
¡°Your brothers can be released,¡± said she, ¡°if you have only courage and perseverance. True, water is softer than your own delicate hands, and yet it polishes stones into shapes; it feels no pain as your fingers would feel, it has no soul, and cannot suffer such agony and torment as you will have to endure.
¡°Do you see the stinging nettle which I hold in my hand? Quantities of the same sort grow round the cave in which you sleep, but none will be of any use to you unless they grow upon the graves in a churchyard. These you must gather even while they burn blisters on your hands. Break them to pieces with your hands and feet, and they will become flax, from which you must spin and weave eleven coats with long sleeves; if these are then thrown over the eleven swans, the spell will be broken.
¡°But remember, that from the moment you commence your task until it is finished, even should it occupy years of your life, you must not speak. The first word you utter will pierce through the hearts of your brothers like a deadly dagger. Their lives hang upon your tongue. Remember all I have told you.¡± And as she finished speaking, she touched her hand lightly with the nettle, and a pain, as of burning fire, awoke Eliza.
It was broad daylight, and close by where she had been sleeping lay a nettle like the one she had seen in her dream. She fell on her knees and offered her thanks to God. Then she went forth from the cave to begin her work with her delicate hands.
She groped in amongst the ugly nettles, which burnt great blisters on her hands and arms, but she determined to bear it gladly if she could only release her dear brothers. So she bruised the nettles with her bare feet and spun the flax.
At sunset her brothers returned and were very much frightened when they found her dumb. They believed it to be some new sorcery of their wicked step-mother. But when they saw her hands they understood what she was doing on their behalf, and the youngest brother wept, and where his tears fell the pain ceased, and the burning blisters vanished.
She kept to her work all night, for she could not rest till she had released her dear brothers. During the whole of the following day, while her brothers were absent, she sat in solitude, but never before had the time flown so quickly. One coat was already finished and she had begun the second.
When she heard the huntsman¡¯s horn, and was struck with fear. The sound came nearer and nearer, she heard the dogs barking, and fled with terror into the cave. She hastily bound together the nettles she had gathered into a bundle and sat upon them.
Immediately a great dog came bounding towards her out of the ravine, and then another and another; they barked loudly, ran back, and then came again. In a very few minutes all the huntsmen stood before the cave, and the handsomest of them was the king of the country. He advanced towards her, for he had never seen a more beautiful maiden.
¡°How did you come here, my sweet child?¡± he asked.
But Eliza shook her head. She dared not speak, at the cost of her brothers¡¯ lives. And she hid her hands under her apron, so that the king might not see how she must be suffering.
¡°Come with me,¡± he said; ¡°here you cannot remain. If you are as good as you are beautiful, I will dress you in silk and velvet, I will place a golden crown upon your head, and you shall dwell, and rule, and make your home in my richest castle.¡±And then he lifted her on his horse. She wept and wrung her hands, but the king said, ¡°I wish only for your happiness. A time will come when you will thank me for this.¡± And then he galloped away over the mountains, holding her before him on this horse, and the hunters followed behind them. As the sun went down, they approached a fair royal city, with churches, and cupolas. On arriving at the castle the king led her into marble halls, where large fountains played, and where the walls and the ceilings were covered with rich paintings.
But she had no eyes for all these glorious sights, she could only mourn and weep. Patiently she allowed the women to array her in royal robes, to weave pearls in her hair, and draw soft gloves over her blistered fingers.As she stood before them in all her rich dress, she looked so dazzingly beautiful that the court bowed low in her presence. Then the king declared his intention of making her his bride, but the archbishop shook his head, and whispered that the fair young maiden was only a witch who had blinded the king¡¯s eyes and bewitched his heart.
But the king would not listen to this; he ordered the music to sound, the daintiest dishes to be served, and the loveliest maidens to dance. After-wards he led her through fragrant gardens and lofty halls, but not a smile appeared on her lips or sparkled in her eyes. She looked the very picture of grief.
Then the king opened the door of a little chamber in which she. was to sleep; it was adorned with rich green tapestry, and resembled the cave in which he had found her. On the floor lay the bundle of flax which she had spun from the nettles, and under the ceiling hung the coat she had made. These things had been brought away from the cave as curiosities by one of the huntsmen.
¡°Here you can dream yourself back again in the old home in the cave,¡± said the king; ¡°here is the work with which you employed yourself. It will amuse you now in the midst of all this splendor to think of that time.¡±
When Eliza saw all these things which lay so near her heart, a smile played around her mouth, and the crimson blood rushed to her cheeks. She thought of her brothers, and their release made her so joyful that she kissed the king¡¯s hand. Then he pressed her to his heart. Very soon the joyous church bells announced the marriage feast, and that the beautiful dumb girl out of the wood was to be made the queen of the country.
Then the archbishop whispered wicked words in the king¡¯s ear, but they did not sink into his heart. The marriage was still to take place, and the archbishop himself had to place the crown on the bride¡¯s head; in his wicked spite, he pressed the narrow circlet so tightly on her forehead that it caused her pain. But a heavier weight encircled her heart-sorrow for her brothers. She felt not bodily pain.
Her mouth was closed; a single word would cost the lives of her brothers. But she loved the kind, handsome king, who did everything to make her happy more and more each day; she loved him with all her heart, and her eyes beamed with the love she dared not speak. Oh! if she had only been able to confide in him and tell him of her grief. But dumb she must remain till her task was finished. Therefore at night she crept away into her little chamber, which had been decked out to look like the cave, and quickly wove one coat after another.
But when she began the seventh she found she had no more flax. She knew that the nettles she wanted to use grew in the churchyard, and that she must pluck them herself. How should she get out there? ¡°Oh, what is the pain in my fingers to the torment which my heart endures?¡± said she. ¡°I must venture, I shall not be denied help from heaven.¡±
Then with a trembling heart, as if she were about to perform a wicked deed, she crept into the garden in the broad moonlight, and passed through the narrow walks and the deserted streets, till she reached the churchyard.
Then she saw on one of the broad tombstones a group of ghouls. These hideous creatures took off their rags, as if they intended to bathe, and then clawing open the fresh graves with their long, skinny fingers, pulled out the dead bodies and ate the flesh! Eliza had to pass close by them, and they fixed their wicked glances upon her, but she prayed silently, gathered the burning nettles, and carried them home with her to the castle.
One person only had seen her, and that was the archbishop-he was awake while everybody was asleep. Now he thought his opinion was evidently correct. All was not right with the queen. She was a witch, and had bewitched the king and all the people.
Secretly he told the king what he had seen and what he feared, and as the hard words came from his tongue, the carved images of the saints shook their heads as if they would say. ¡°It is not so. Eliza is innocent.¡± But the archbishop interpreted it in another way; he believed that they witnessed against her, and were shaking their heads at her wickedness.
Two large tears rolled down the king¡¯s cheeks, and he went home with doubt in his heart, and at night he pretended to sleep, but there came no real sleep to his eyes, for he saw Eliza get up every night and disappear in her own chamber. From day to day his brow became darker, and Eliza saw it and did not understand the reason, but it alarmed her and made her heart tremble for her brothers. Her hot tears glittered like pearls on the regal velvet and diamonds, while all who saw her were wishing they could be queens.
In the mean time she had almost finished her task; only one coat of mail was wanting, but she had no flax left, and not a single nettle. Once more only, and for the last time, must she venture to the churchyard and pluck a few handfuls. She thought with terror of the solitary walk, and of the horrible ghouls, but her will was firm, as well as her trust in Providence.
Eliza went, and the king and the archbishop followed her. They saw her vanish through the wicket gate into the churchyard, and when they came nearer they saw the ghouls sitting on the tombstone, as Eliza had seen them, and the king turned away his head, for he thought she was with them-she whose head had rested on his breast that very evening. ¡°The people must condemn her,¡± said he, and she was very quickly condemned by every one to suffer death by fire.
Away from the gorgeous regal halls was she led to a dark, dreary cell, where the wind whistled through the iron bars. Instead of the velvet and silk dresses, they gave her the coats of mail which she had woven to cover her, and the bundle of nettles for a pillow; but nothing they could give her would have pleased her more. She continued her task with joy, and prayed for help, while the street-boys sang jeering songs about her, and not a soul comforted her with a kind word.Towards evening, she heard at the grating the flutter of a swan¡¯s wing, it was her youngest brother-he had found his sister, and she sobbed for joy, although she knew that very likely this would be the last night she would have to live. But still she could hope, for her task was almost finished, and her brothers were come.
Then the archbishop arrived, to be with her during her last hours, as he had promised the king. But she shook her head, and begged him, by looks and gestures, not to stay; for in this night she knew she must finish her task, otherwise all her pain and tears and sleepless nights would have been suffered in vain. The archbishop withdrew, uttering bitter words against her; but poor Eliza knew that she was innocent, and diligently continued her work.
The little mice ran about the floor, they dragged the nettles to her feet, to help as well as they could; and the thrush sat outside the grating of the window, and sang to her the whole night long, as sweetly as possible, to keep up her spirits.
It was still twilight, and at least an hour before sunrise, when the eleven brothers stood at the castle gate, and demanded to be brought before the king. They were told it could not be, it was yet almost night, and as the king slept they dared not disturb him. They threatened, they entreated. Then the guard appeared, and even the king himself, inquiring what all the noise meant. At this moment the sun rose. The eleven brothers were seen no more, but eleven wild swans flew away over the castle.
And now all the people came streaming forth from the gates of the city, to see the witch burnt. An old horse drew the cart on which she sat. They had dressed her in a garment of coarse sackcloth. Her lovely hair hung loose on her shoulders, her cheeks were deadly pale, her lips moved silently, while her fingers still worked at the green flax. Even on the way to death, she would not give up her task. The ten coats of mail lay at her feet, she was working hard at the eleventh.
The mob jeered her and said,
¡°See the witch, how she mutters! She has no hymn-book in her hand. She sits there with her ugly sorcery. Let us tear it in a thousand pieces.¡±
And then they pressed towards her, and would have destroyed the coats of mail, but at the same moment eleven wild swans flew over her, and alighted on the cart. Then they flapped their large wings, and the crowd drew on one side in alarm.
¡°It is a sign from heaven that she is innocent,¡± whispered many of them; but they ventured not to say it aloud.
As the executioner seized her by the hand, to lift her out of the cart, she hastily threw the eleven coats of mail over the swans, and they immediately became eleven handsome princes; but the youngest had a swan¡¯s wing, instead of an arm; for she had not been able to finish the last sleeve of the coat.
¡°Now I may speak,¡± she exclaimed. ¡°I am innocent.¡±
Then the people, who saw what happened, bowed to her, as before a saint; but she sank lifeless in her brothers¡¯ arms, overcome with suspense, anguish, and pain.
¡°Yes, she is innocent,¡± said the eldest brother; and then he related all that had taken place; and while he spoke there rose in the air a fragrance as from millions of roses. Every piece of faggot in the pile had taken root, and threw out branches, and appeared a thick hedge, large and high, covered with roses; while above all bloomed a white and shining flower, that glittered like a star.
This flower the king plucked, and placed in Eliza¡¯s bosom, when she awoke from her swoon, with peace and happiness in her heart. And all the church bells rang of themselves, and the birds came in great troops. And a marriage procession returned to the castle, such as no king had ever before seen.