香肠栓熬的汤

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所属分类:民间故事

1.香肠栓熬的汤

“昨天有一个出色的宴会!”一个年老的女耗子对一个没有参加这盛会的耗子说。“我在离老耗子王的第二十一个座位上坐着,所以我的座位也不算太坏!你要不要听听菜单子?出菜的次序安排得非常好——发霉的面包、腊肉皮、蜡烛头、香肠——接着同样的菜又从头到尾再上一次。这简直等于两次连续的宴会。大家的心情很欢乐,闲聊了一些愉快的话,像跟自己家里的人在一起一样。什么都吃光了,只剩下香肠尾巴上的香肠栓。我们于是就谈起香肠栓来,接着就谈起'香肠栓熬的汤'这个问题。的确,每个人都听到过这件事,但是谁也没有尝过这种汤,更谈不上知道怎样去熬它。大家提议:谁发明这种汤,就为他干一杯,因为这样的人配做一个济贫院的院长!这句话不是很有风趣的么?老耗子王站起来说,谁会把这种汤做得最好吃,他就把她立为皇后。研究时间为一年。”

“这倒很不坏!”另一个耗子说,“不过这种汤的做法是怎样呢?”

“是的,怎样做法呢?”这正是所有的女耗子——年轻的和年老的——所要问的一个问题。她们都想当皇后,但是她们却怕麻烦,不愿意跑到广大的世界里去学习做这种汤;而她们却非这样办不可!不过每个耗子都没有离开家和那些自己所熟悉的角落的本事。在外面谁也不能找到乳饼壳或者臭腊肉皮吃。不,谁也会挨饿,可能还会被猫子活活地吃掉呢。

无疑地,这种思想把大部分的耗子都吓住了,不敢到外面去求得知识。只有四只耗子站出来说,她们愿意出去。她们是年轻活泼的,可是很穷。世界有四个方向,她们每位想出一个方向;问题是谁的运气最好。每位带着一根香肠栓,为的是不要忘记这次旅行的目的。她们把它当做旅行的手杖。

她们是在5月初出发的。到第二年5月开始的时候,她们才回来。不过她们只有三位报到。第四位不见了,也没有送来任何关于她的消息,而现在已经是决赛的日期了。

“最愉快的事情也总不免有悲哀的成分!”耗子王说。但是他下了一道命令,把周围几里路以内的耗子都请来。她们将在厨房里集合。那三位旅行过的耗子将单独站在一排;至于那个失了踪的第四个耗子,大家竖了一个香肠栓,上面挂着一块黑纱作为纪念。在那三只耗子没有发言以前,在耗子王没有作补充讲话以前,谁也不能发表意见。

现在我们听吧!

①香肠的末梢总是打着结;这个结总是连在一个木栓上,以便于挂起来,这叫香肠栓。“香肠栓熬的汤”是丹麦的一个成语,意思是:“闲扯大半天,都是废话!”

2.第一只小耗子的旅行见闻

“当我走到茫茫的大世界里去的时候,“小耗子说,”像许多与我年纪相仿的耗子一样,我以为我已经知道了所有的东西。不过实际情况不是这样。一个人要花许多年的工夫才能达到这种目的。我立刻动身航海去。我坐在一条开往北方的船上。我听说,在海上当厨子的人要知道怎样随机应变。不过如果一个人有许多腊肉、整桶的腌肉和发霉的面粉的时候,随机应变也就够容易了。人们吃得很讲究!但是人们却没有办法学会用香肠栓做汤。我们航行了许多天和许多夜。船簸动得很厉害,我们身上都打湿了。当我们最后到达了我们要去的地方的时候,我就离开了船。那是在遥远的北方。

“离开自己家里的一个角落远行,真是一件快事。坐在船上,这当然也算是一种角落。但是忽然间你却来到数百里以外的地方,住在外国。那里有许多原始森林,长满了赤杨。它们发出的香气是太强烈了!这个我不太喜欢!这些原始植物发出辛辣的气味,弄得我打起喷嚏来,同时也想起香肠来。那儿还有许多湖。我走近一看,水是非常清亮的;不过在远处看来,湖水都是像墨一般地黑。白色的天鹅浮在湖水上面,起初我以为天鹅是泡沫。它们一动也不动。不过当我看到它们飞和走动的时候,我就认出它们了。它们属于鹅这个家族,从它们走路的样子就可以看得出来。谁也隐藏不住自己的家族的外貌!我总是跟我的族人在一起。我总是跟松鼠和田鼠来往。它们无知得可怕,特别是关于烹调的事情——我出国去旅行也是为了这个问题。我们认为香肠栓可以做汤的这种想法,在他们看来,简直是惊人的思想。所以这件事立刻就传遍了整个的森林。不过他们认为这件事是无论如何也做不到的。我也没有想到,就在这儿,在这天晚上,我居然探求到做这汤的秘法。这时正是炎热的夏天,因此——它们说——树林才发出这样强烈的气味,草才是那么香,湖水才是那么黑而亮,上面还浮着白色的天鹅。

“在树林的边缘上,在四五座房屋之间,竖着一根竿子。它和船的主桅差不多一般高,顶上悬着花环和缎带。这就是大家所谓的五月柱。年轻女子和男子围着它跳舞,配合着提琴手所奏出的提琴调子,高声唱歌。太阳下山以后,他们还在月光中尽情地欢乐了一番,不过一个小耗子跟一个森林舞会有什么关系呢?我坐在柔软的青苔上,紧紧地捏着我的香肠栓。月亮特别照着一块地方。这儿有一株树,这儿的青苔长得真嫩——的确,我相信比得上耗子王的皮肤。不过它的颜色是绿的;这对于眼睛说来,是非常舒服的。

“忽然间,一群最可爱的小人物大步地走出来了。他们的身材只能达到我的膝盖。他们的样子像人,不过他们的身材长得很相称。他们把自己叫做山精;他们穿着用花瓣做的漂亮衣服,边缘上还饰着苍蝇和蚊蚋的翅膀,很好看。他们一出现就好像是要找什么东西——我不知道是什么。不过他们有几位终于向我走来;他们的首领指着我的香肠栓,说:‘这正是我们所要的那件东西!——它是尖的——它再好也没有!’他越看我的旅行杖,他就越感到高兴。

“‘你们可以把它借去,’我说,‘但是不能不还!’

“‘不能不还!’他们重复着说。于是他们就把香肠栓拿去了。我也只好让他们拿去。他们拿着它跳舞,一直跳到长满了嫩青苔的那块地方。他们把木栓插在这儿的绿地上,他们也想有他们自己的五月柱,而他们现在所得到的一根似乎正合他们的心意。他们把它装饰了一番。这真值得一看!

“小小的蜘蛛们在它上面织出一些金丝,然后在它上面挂起飘扬的面纱和旗帜。它们是织得那么细致,在月光里被漂得那么雪白,把我的眼睛都弄花了。他们从蝴蝶翅膀上摄取颜色,把这些颜色撒在白纱上,而白纱上又闪着花朵和珍珠,弄得我再也认不出我的香肠栓了。像这样的五月柱,世界上再也找不出第二根。现在那一大队的山精先到场。他们什么衣服也没有穿,然而他们是再文雅不过了。他们请我也去参加这个盛会,但是我得保持相当的距离,因为对他们说来,我的体积是太大了。

“现在音乐也开始了!这简直像几千只铃儿在响,声音又圆润又响亮。我真以为这是天鹅在唱歌呢。的确,我也觉得我可以听到了杜鹃和画眉的声音。最后,整个的树林似乎都奏起音乐来了。我听到孩子的说话声,铃的铿锵声和鸟儿的歌唱声。这都是最美的旋律,而且都是从山精的五月柱上发出来的。这全是钟声的合奏,而这是从我的香肠栓上发出来的。我从来也没有想过,它会奏出这么多的音调,不过这要看它落到了什么人的手中。我非常感动;我快乐得哭起来,像一个小耗子那样哭。

“夜是太短了!不过在这个季节里,它是不能再长了。风在天刚亮的时候就吹起来,树林里一平如镜的湖面上出现了一层细细的波纹,飘荡着的幔纱和旗帜都飞到空中去了。蜘蛛网所形成的波浪形的花圈,吊桥和栏杆以及诸如此类的东西,从这片叶子飞到那片叶子上,都化为乌有。六个山精把我的香肠栓扛回送还给我,同时问我有没有什么要求,他们可以让我满足。因此我就请他们告诉我怎样用香肠栓做出汤来。

“‘我们怎样做吗?’山精们的首领带笑地说。‘嗨,你刚才已经亲眼看到过了!你再也认不出你的香肠栓吧?’

“‘你说得倒轻松!’我回答说。于是我就直截了当地把我旅行的目的告诉他,并且也告诉他,家里的人对于我这次旅行所作的希望。‘我在这儿所看到的这种欢乐景象,’我问,‘对我们耗子王和对我们整个强大的国家,有什么用呢?我不能够把这香肠栓摇几摇,说:看呀,香肠栓就在这儿,汤马上就出来了!恐怕这种菜只有当客人吃饱了饭以后才能拿出来!’

“山精于是把他的小指头接进一朵蓝色的紫罗兰花里去,同时对我说:

“‘请看吧!我要在你的旅行杖上擦点油;当你回到耗子王的宫殿里去的时候,你只须把这手杖朝他温暖的胸口顶一下,手杖上就会开满紫罗兰花,甚至在最冷的冬天也是这样。所以你总算带了一点什么东西回去——恐怕还不止一点什么东西呢!’”不过在这小耗子还没有说明这个“一点什么东西”以前,她就把旅行杖伸到耗子王的胸口上去。真的,一束最美丽的紫罗兰花开出来了。花儿的香气非常强烈,耗子王马上下一道命令,要那些站得离烟囱最近的耗子把尾巴伸进火里去,以便烧出一点焦味来,因为紫罗兰的香味使他吃不消;这完全不是他所喜欢的那种气味。

“不过你刚才说的‘一点什么东西’究竟是什么呢?”耗子王问。

“哎,”小耗子说,“我想这就是人们所谓的‘效果’吧!”

于是她就把这旅行杖掉转过来。它上面马上一朵花也没有了。

她手中只是握着一根光秃秃的棍子。她把它举起来,像一根乐队指挥棒。

“‘紫罗兰花是为视觉、嗅觉和感觉而开出来的,'那个山精告诉过我,'因此它还没有满足听觉和味觉的要求。’”

于是小耗子开始打拍子,于是音乐奏出来了——不是树林中山精欢乐会的那种音乐;不是的,是我们在厨房中所听到的那种音乐。乖乖!这才热闹呢!这声音是忽然而来,好像风灌进了每个烟囱管似的;锅儿和罐儿沸腾得不可开交;大铲子在黄铜壶上乱敲;接着,在不意之间,一切又忽然变得沉寂。人们听到茶壶发出低沉的声音。说来也奇怪,谁也不知道,它究竟是快要结束呢,还是刚刚开始唱。小罐子在滚滚地沸腾着,大罐子也在滚滚地沸腾着;它们谁也不关心谁,好像罐子都失去了理智似的。小耗子挥动着她的指挥棒,越挥越激烈;罐子发出泡沫,冒出大泡,沸腾得不可开交;风儿在号,烟囱在叫。哎呀!这真是可怕,弄得小耗子自己把指挥棒也扔掉了。

“这种汤可不轻松!”老耗子王说。“现在是不是要把它拿出来吃呢?”

“这就是汤呀!”小耗子说,同时鞠了一躬。

“这就是吗?好吧,我们听听第二位能讲些什么吧。”耗子王说。

3.第二只小耗子讲的故事

“我是在宫里的图书馆里出生的,”第二只耗子说。“我和我家里别的人从来没有福气到餐厅里去过,更谈不上到食物储藏室里去。只有在旅途中和今天的这种场合,我才第一次看到一个厨房。我们在图书馆里,的确常常在挨饿,但是我们却得到不少的知识。我们听到一个谣传,说谁能够在香肠栓上做出汤来,谁就可以获得皇家的奖金。我的老祖母因此就拉出一卷手稿来。她当然是不会念的,但是她却听到别人念过。那上面写道:‘凡是能写诗的人,都能在香肠栓上做出汤来。’她问我是不是一个诗人。我说我对于此道一窍不通。她说我得想办法做一个诗人。于是我问做诗人的条件是什么,因为这对于我说来是跟做汤一样困难。不过祖母听到许多人念过。她说,这必须具有三个主要的条件:‘理解、想象和感觉!如果你能够使你具备这几样东西,你就会成为一个诗人,那么香肠栓这类事儿也就自然很容易了。’

“于是我就出去了,向西方走,到茫茫的大世界里去,为的是要成为一个诗人。

“我知道,最重要的东西是理解。其余的两件东西不会得到同样的重视!因此我第一件事就是去追求理解。是的,理解住在什么地方呢?到蚂蚁那儿去,就可以得到智慧!犹太人的伟大国王这样说过①。我是从图书馆中知道这事情的。在我来到第一个大蚁山以前,我一直没有停步。我待在这儿观察,希望变得聪明。

“蚂蚁是一个非常值得尊敬的种族。他们本身就是‘理解’。他们所做的每件事情,像计算好了的数学题一样,总是正确的。他们说,工作和生蛋的意义就是为现在生活,为将来作准备,而他们就是照这个宗旨行事的。他们把自己分成为清洁的和肮脏的两种蚂蚁。他们的等级是用一个数目来代表的;蚂蚁皇后的数目是第一号。她的见解是唯一正确的见解,因为她已经吸收了所有的智慧。认识这一点,对我说来是很重要的。

“她的话说得很多,而且说得都很聪明,叫我听起来很像废话。她说她的蚁山是世界上最高大的东西,但是蚁山旁边就有一棵树,而且比起它来,不消说要高大得多——这是不可否认的事实,因此关于这树她就一字不提。一天晚上,有一只蚂蚁在这树上失踪了。他沿着树干爬上去,但并没有爬到树顶上去——只是爬到别的蚂蚁还没有爬到过的高度。当他回到家来的时候,他谈论起他所发现的比蚁山还要高的东西。但是别的蚂蚁都认为他的这番话对于整个蚂蚁社会是一种侮辱,因此这只蚂蚁就受到惩罚,戴上了一个口罩,并且永远被隔离开来。

“不久以后,另一只蚂蚁爬到树上去了。他作了同样的旅行,而且发现了同样的东西。不过这只蚂蚁谈论这件事情的时候,取一种大家所谓的冷静和模糊的态度,此外他是一只有身份的蚂蚁,而且是纯种,因此大家就都相信他的话。当他死了以后,大家就用蚂蚁蛋为他立了一个纪念碑,表示他们都尊敬科学。”

小耗子继续说:“我看到蚂蚁老是背着他们的蛋跑来跑去,他们有一位把蛋跑掉了;他费了很大的气力想把它捡起来,但是没有成功。这时另外两只蚂蚁来了,尽他们最大的努力来帮助他,结果他们自己背着的蛋也几乎弄得滚下来了。所以他们就立刻不管了。因为人们得先考虑自己——而且蚂蚁皇后也谈过这样的问题,说这种做法既可表示出同情心,同时又可表示出理智。这两个方面‘使我们蚂蚁在一切有理智的动物中占最高的位置。理智应该是、而且一定是最主要的东西,而我在这方面恰恰最突出!’于是她就用她的后腿站起来,好使得人们一眼就可以看清她……我再也不会弄错了;我一口把她吃掉。到蚁群中去,学习智慧吧!我都装进肚皮里去了!

“我现在向刚才说的那株大树走去。它是一棵栎树,有很高的躯干和浓密的树顶;它的年纪也很老。我知道这儿住着一个生物——一个女人——人们把她叫树精:她跟树一起生下来,也跟树一起死去。这件事是我在图书馆里听到的;现在我算是看到这样一棵树和这样一个栎树精了。当她看到我走得很近的时候,她就发出一个可怕的尖叫声来。像所有的女人一样,她非常害怕耗子。比起别人来,她更有害怕的理由,因为我可以把树咬断,她没有树就没有生命。我以一种和蔼和热诚的态度和她谈话,给她勇气。她把我拿到她柔嫩的手里。当她知道了我旅行到这个茫茫大世界里来的目的时,她答应我说,可能就在这天晚上我会得到我所追求的两件宝物之一。

“她告诉我说,幻想是她最好的朋友,他是像爱情一样美丽,他常常到这树枝的浓叶中来休息——这时树枝就在他们两人头上摇得更起劲。她说:他把她叫做树精,而这树就是他的树,因为这棵瘤疤很多的老栎树是他所喜爱的一棵树,它的根深深地钻进土里,它的躯干和簇顶高高地伸到新鲜的空气中去,它对于飘着的雪、锐利的风和暖和的太阳,知道得比任何人都清楚。是的,她这样说过,'鸟儿在那上面唱着歌,讲着一些关于异国的故事!在那唯一的死枝上鹳鸟筑了一个与树儿非常相称的窠,人们可以从它们那里听到一些关于金字塔的国度的事情,幻想非常喜欢这类的事情,但是这还不能满足他。我还把这树在我小时的生活告诉他;那时这树很嫩,连一棵荨麻都可以把它掩盖住——我得一直讲到这树怎么长得现在这样粗大为止。请你在车叶草下面坐着,注意看吧。当幻想到来的时候,我将要找一个机会来捻住他的翅膀,扯下他的一根小羽毛来。把这羽毛拿去吧——任何诗人都不能得到比这更好的东西——你有这就够了!'

“当幻想到来的时候,羽毛就被拔下一根来了。我赶快把它抢过来,”小耗子说。“我把它捏着放在水里,使它变得柔软!把它吃下去是很不容易的,但我却把它啃掉了!现在我已经有了两件东西:幻想和理解。通过这两件东西,我知道第三件就可以在图书馆里找得到了。一位伟人曾经写过和说过:有些长篇小说唯一的功用是它们能够减轻人们多余的眼泪,因为它们是像海绵一样,能把情感吸收进去。我记起一两本这类的书;我觉得它们很合人的胃口;它们不知被人翻过多少次,油腻得很,无疑地它们已经吸收了许多人们的感情。

“我回到那个图书馆里去,生吞活剥地啃掉了一整部长篇小说——这也就是说,啃掉了它柔软的部分,它的精华,它的书皮和装订我一点也没有动。我把它消化了,接着又啃掉了一本。这时我已经感觉它们在身体内动起来,于是我又把第三本咬了几口。这样我就成了一个诗人了。我对我自己这样讲,对别人也这样讲。我有点头痛,有点胃痛,还有我讲不出来的一些别种的痛。我开始思索那些与香肠栓联系起来的故事。于是我心中就想起了许多香肠栓,这一定是因为那位蚂蚁皇后有特别细致的理智的原故。我记得有一个人把一根白色的木栓塞进嘴里去,于是他那根木栓都变得看不见了。我想到浸在陈啤酒里的木栓、垫东西的木栓、塞东西的木栓和钉棺材的木栓。我所有的思想都环绕着栓而活动!当一个人是诗人的时候,他就可以用诗把这表达出来;而我是一个诗人,因为我费了很大的气力来做一个诗人!因此每星期,每一天,我都可以用一个栓——一个故事——来侍候你。是的,这就是我的汤。”

“我们听听第三位有什么话讲吧!”耗子王说。

“吱!吱!”这是厨房门旁发出的一个声音。于是一只小耗子——她就是大家认为死去了的第四只耗子——跳出来了。她绊倒了那根系着黑纱的香肠栓。她一直日夜都在跑,只要她有机会,她不惜在铁路上坐着货车走,虽然如此,她几乎还是要迟到了。她一口气冲进来,全身的毛非常乱。她已经失去了她的香肠栓,可是却没有失去她的声音,因此她就立刻发言,好像大家只是在等着她、等着听她讲话,除此以外,世界上再没有别的重要事情似的。她立刻发言,把她所要讲的话全都讲了出来。她来得这么突然,当她在讲话的时候,谁也没有时间来反对她或她的演词。现在我们且听听吧!

①这句话源出于所罗门所作的《箴言集》。原文是:“懒惰人哪,你去察看蚂蚁的动作,就可得智慧。”见《圣经·旧约·箴言》第六章第六节。

4.第四只耗子在第三只耗子

 没有发言以前所讲的故事

“我立刻就到一个最大的城市里去,”她说。“这城的名字我可记不起来了——我老是记不住名字。我乘着载满没收物资的大车到市政府去。然后我跑到监狱看守那里去。他谈起他的犯人,特别谈到一个讲了许多鲁莽话的犯人。这些话引起另外许多话,而这另外许多话被讨论了一番,受到了批评。

“‘这完全是一套香肠栓熬的汤,’他说,‘但这汤可能弄得他掉脑袋!’”

“这引起了我对于那个犯人的兴趣,”小耗子说,“于是我就找到一个机会,溜到他那儿去——因为在锁着的门后面总会有一个耗子洞的!他的面色惨白,满脸都是胡子,睁着一对大眼睛。灯在冒着烟,不过墙壁早已习惯于这烟了,所以它并不显得比烟更黑。这犯人在黑色的墙上画出了一些白色的图画和诗句,不过我读不懂。我想他一定感到很无聊,而欢迎我这个客人的。他用面包屑,用口哨和一些友善的字眼来诱惑我:他很高兴看到我,而我也只好信任他;因此我们就成了朋友。

“他把他的面包和水分给我吃;他还送给我乳饼和香肠。我生活得很阔绰。我得承认,主要是因为这样好的交情我才在那儿住下来。他让我在他的手中,在他的臂上乱跑;让我钻进他的袖子里去,让我在他的胡子里爬;他还把我叫做他的亲爱的朋友。我的确非常喜欢他,因为我们应该礼尚往来!我忘记了我在这个广大世界里旅行的任务,我忘记了放在地板裂缝里的香肠栓——它还藏在那儿。我希望住下来,因为如果我离开了,这位可怜的犯人就没有什么朋友了——像这样活在世界上就太没有意义了!我待下来了,可是他却没有待下来。在最后的一次,他跟我说得很伤心,给了我比平时多一倍的面包和乳饼皮,用他的手对我飞吻。他离去了,再也没有回来。我不知道他的结果。

“‘香肠栓熬的汤!’看守说——我现在到他那儿去了,但是我不能信任他。的确,他也把我放在他的手里,不过他却把我关进一个笼子里——一部踏车里去了。这真可怕!你在里面转来转去,一步也不能向前走,只是叫大家笑你!

“看守的孙女是一个可爱的小东西。她的卷发是那么金黄,她的眼睛是那么快乐,她的小嘴老是在笑。

“‘你这个可怜的小耗子!’她说,同时偷偷地向我的这个丑恶的笼子里看。她把那根铁插销抽掉了,于是我就跳到窗板上,然后从那儿再跳到屋顶上的水笕里去。自由了!自由了!我只能想这件事情,我旅行的目的现在顾不到了。

“天很黑,夜到来了。我藏进一座古老的塔里面去。这儿住着一个守塔人和一只猫头鹰。这两位我谁也不能信任,特别是那只猫头鹰。这家伙很像猫子,有一个喜欢吃耗子的大缺点。不过人们很容易看不清真相,我就是这样。这家伙是一个非常有礼貌、非常有教养的老猫头鹰。她的知识跟我一样丰富,比那个守塔人还要丰富。一些年轻的猫头鹰对于什么事情都是大惊小怪;但她只是说:‘不要弄什么香肠栓熬汤吧!’她是那么疼爱她的家庭,她听说的最厉害的话也不过是如此。我对她是那么信任,我从我躲藏的小洞里叫了一声:‘吱!’我对她的信任使她非常高兴。她答应保护我,不准任何生物伤害我。她要把我留下来,留待粮食不足的冬天给她自己受用。

“无论从哪方面讲,她要算是一个聪明人。她证明给我看,说守塔人只能‘吹几下’挂在他身边的那个号角,‘他因此就觉得了不起,以为他就是塔上的猫头鹰!他想要做大事情,但是他却是一个小人物——香肠栓熬的汤!’”我要求猫头鹰给我做这汤的食谱。于是她就解释给我听。

“‘香肠栓熬的汤,’她说,‘只不过是人间的一个成语罢了。每人对它有自己不同的体会:各人总以为自己的体会最恰当,不过事实上这整个的事儿没有丝毫意义!’

“‘没有丝毫意义!’我说。这使我大吃一惊!真理并不是老使人高兴的事情,但是真理高于一切。老猫头鹰也是这样说的。我想了一想,我觉得,如果我把‘高于一切的东西’带回的话,那么我倒是带回了一件价值比香肠栓汤要高得多的东西呢。因此我就赶快离开,好使我能早点回家,带回最高、最好的东西——真理。耗子是一个开明的种族,而耗子王则是他们之中最开明的。为了尊重真理,他是可能立我为皇后的。”

“你的真理却是谎言!”那个还没有发言的耗子说。“我能做这汤,而且我说得到就做得到!”

5.汤是怎样熬的

“我并没有去旅行,”第四只耗子说。“我留在国内——这样做是正确的!我们没有旅行的必要。我们在这儿同样可以得到好的东西。我没有走!我的知识并不是从神怪的生物那儿得来的,也不是狼吞虎咽地啃来的,也不是跟猫头鹰说话学来的。我是从自己的思索中得来的。请你们把水壶拿来,装满水吧!请把水壶下面的火点起来吧!让水煮开吧——它得滚开!好,请把栓放进去!现在请国王陛下把尾巴伸进开水里去搅几下!陛下搅得越久,汤就熬得越浓。它并不花费什么东西!并不需要别的什么材料——只须搅它就得了!”

“是不是别的耗子可以做这事情呢?”国王问。

“不成,”耗子说。“只有耗子王的尾巴有这种威力。”

水在沸腾着。耗子王站在水壶旁边——这可算说是一种危险的事儿。他把他的尾巴伸出来,好像别的耗子在牛奶房的那副样儿——它们用尾巴挑起盘子里的乳皮,然后再去舔这尾巴。不过他把他的尾巴伸进滚水里没有多久就赶快跳开了。

“不成问题——你是我的皇后了!”他说。“我们等到我们金婚节的时候再来熬这汤吧,这样我们穷苦的子民就可以快乐一番——大大地快乐一番!”

于是他们马上就举行了婚礼。不过许多耗子回到家来的时候说:“我们不能把这叫做香肠栓熬的汤:它应该叫做耗子尾巴做的汤才对!”他们说,故事中有些地方讲得很好;可是整个的事儿不一定要这样讲。

“我就会如此这般地讲,不会别样讲!——”

这是批评家说的话。他们总是事后聪明的。

这个故事传遍了全世界。关于它的意见很多,不过这个故事本身保持了它的原样。不管大事也好,小事也好,能做到这种地步就要算是最好的了,香肠栓做的汤也是如此。不过要想因此而得到感激可就错了!

英文版:Soup from a Sausage Skewer

“Soup from a Sausage Skewer”

WE had such an excellent dinner yesterday,” said an old mouse of the female sex to another who had not been present at the feast. “I sat number twenty-one below the mouse-king, which was not a bad place. Shall I tell you what we had? Everything was first rate. Mouldy bread, tallow candle, and sausage. And then, when we had finished that course, the same came on all over again; it was as good as two feasts. We were very sociable, and there was as much joking and fun as if we had been all of one family circle. Nothing was left but the sausage skewers, and this formed a subject of conversation, till at last it turned to the proverb, ‘Soup from sausage skins;’ or, as the people in the neighboring country call it, ‘Soup from a sausage skewer.’ Every one had heard the proverb, but no one had ever tasted the soup, much less prepared it. A capital toast was drunk to the inventor of the soup, and some one said he ought to be made a relieving officer to the poor. Was not that witty? Then the old mouse-king rose and promised that the young lady-mouse who should learn how best to prepare this much-admired and savory soup should be his queen, and a year and a day should be allowed for the purpose.”

“That was not at all a bad proposal,” said the other mouse; “but how is the soup made?”

“Ah, that is more than I can tell you. All the young lady mice were asking the same question. They wished very much to be queen, but they did not want to take the trouble of going out into the world to learn how to make soup, which was absolutely necessary to be done first. But it is not every one who would care to leave her family, or her happy corner by the fire-side at home, even to be made queen. It is not always easy to find bacon and cheese-rind in foreign lands every day, and it is not pleasant to have to endure hunger, and be perhaps, after all, eaten up alive by the cat.”

Most probably some such thoughts as these discouraged the majority from going out into the world to collect the required information. Only four mice gave notice that they were ready to set out on the journey. They were young and lively, but poor. Each of them wished to visit one of the four divisions of the world, so that it might be seen which was the most favored by fortune. Every one took a sausage skewer as a traveller’s staff, and to remind them of the object of their journey. They left home early in May, and none of them returned till the first of May in the following year, and then only three of them. Nothing was seen or heard of the fourth, although the day of decision was close at hand. “Ah, yes, there is always some trouble mixed up with the greatest pleasure,” said the mouse-king; but he gave orders that all the mice within a circle of many miles should be invited at once. They were to assemble in the kitchen, and the three travelled mice were to stand in a row before them, while a sausage skewer, covered with crape, was to be stuck up instead of the missing mouse. No one dared to express an opinion until the king spoke, and desired one of them to go on with her story. And now we shall hear what she said.

What the First Little Mouse Saw and Heard on Her Travels

WHEN I first went out into the world,” said the little mouse, “I fancied, as so many of my age do, that I already knew everything, but it was not so. It takes years to acquire great knowledge. I went at once to sea in a ship bound for the north. I had been told that the ship’s cook must know how to prepare every dish at sea, and it is easy enough to do that with plenty of sides of bacon, and large tubs of salt meat and mouldy flour. There I found plenty of delicate food, but no opportunity for learning how to make soup from a sausage skewer. We sailed on for many days and nights; the ship rocked fearfully, and we did not escape without a wetting. As soon as we arrived at the port to which the ship was bound, I left it, and went on shore at a place far towards the north. It is a wonderful thing to leave your own little corner at home, to hide yourself in a ship where there are sure to be some nice snug corners for shelter, then suddenly to find yourself thousands of miles away in a foreign land. I saw large pathless forests of pine and birch trees, which smelt so strong that I sneezed and thought of sausage. There were great lakes also which looked as black as ink at a distance, but were quite clear when I came close to them. Large swans were floating upon them, and I thought at first they were only foam, they lay so still; but when I saw them walk and fly, I knew what they were directly. They belong to the goose species, one can see that by their walk. No one can attempt to disguise family descent. I kept with my own kind, and associated with the forest and field mice, who, however, knew very little, especially about what I wanted to know, and which had actually made me travel abroad. The idea that soup could be made from a sausage skewer was to them such an out-of-the-way, unlikely thought, that it was repeated from one to another through the whole forest. They declared that the problem would never be solved, that the thing was an impossibility. How little I thought that in this place, on the very first night, I should be initiated into the manner of its preparation.

“It was the height of summer, which the mice told me was the reason that the forest smelt so strong, and that the herbs were so fragrant, and the lakes with the white swimming swans so dark, and yet so clear. On the margin of the wood, near to three or four houses, a pole, as large as the mainmast of a ship, had been erected, and from the summit hung wreaths of flowers and fluttering ribbons; it was the Maypole. Lads and lasses danced round the pole, and tried to outdo the violins of the musicians with their singing. They were as merry as ever at sunset and in the moonlight, but I took no part in the merry-making. What has a little mouse to do with a Maypole dance? I sat in the soft moss, and held my sausage skewer tight. The moon threw its beams particularly on one spot where stood a tree covered with exceedingly fine moss. I may almost venture to say that it was as fine and soft as the fur of the mouse-king, but it was green, which is a color very agreeable to the eye. All at once I saw the most charming little people marching towards me. They did not reach higher than my knee; they looked like human beings, but were better proportioned, and they called themselves elves. Their clothes were very delicate and fine, for they were made of the leaves of flowers, trimmed with the wings of flies and gnats, which had not a bad effect. By their manner, it appeared as if they were seeking for something. I knew not what, till at last one of them espied me and came towards me, and the foremost pointed to my sausage skewer, and said, ‘There, that is just what we want; see, it is pointed at the top; is it not capital?’ and the longer he looked at my pilgrim’s staff, the more delighted he became. ‘I will lend it to you,’ said I, ‘but not to keep.’

“‘Oh no, we won’t keep it!’ they all cried; and then they seized the skewer, which I gave up to them, and danced with it to the spot where the delicate moss grew, and set it up in the middle of the green. They wanted a maypole, and the one they now had seemed cut out on purpose for them. Then they decorated it so beautifully that it was quite dazzling to look at. Little spiders spun golden threads around it, and then it was hung with fluttering veils and flags so delicately white that they glittered like snow in the moonshine. After that they took colors from the butterfly’s wing, and sprinkled them over the white drapery which gleamed as if covered with flowers and diamonds, so that I could not recognize my sausage skewer at all. Such a maypole had never been seen in all the world as this. Then came a great company of real elves. Nothing could be finer than their clothes, and they invited me to be present at the feast; but I was to keep at a certain distance, because I was too large for them. Then commenced such music that it sounded like a thousand glass bells, and was so full and strong that I thought it must be the song of the swans. I fancied also that I heard the voices of the cuckoo and the black-bird, and it seemed at last as if the whole forest sent forth glorious melodies—the voices of children, the tinkling of bells, and the songs of the birds; and all this wonderful melody came from the elfin maypole. My sausage peg was a complete peal of bells. I could scarcely believe that so much could have been produced from it, till I remembered into what hands it had fallen. I was so much affected that I wept tears such as a little mouse can weep, but they were tears of joy. The night was far too short for me; there are no long nights there in summer, as we often have in this part of the world. When the morning dawned, and the gentle breeze rippled the glassy mirror of the forest lake, all the delicate veils and flags fluttered away into thin air; the waving garlands of the spider’s web, the hanging bridges and galleries, or whatever else they may be called, vanished away as if they had never been. Six elves brought me back my sausage skewer, and at the same time asked me to make any request, which they would grant if in their power; so I begged them, if they could, to tell me how to make soup from a sausage skewer.

“‘How do we make it?’ said the chief of the elves with a smile. ‘Why you have just seen it; you scarcely knew your sausage skewer again, I am sure.’

“They think themselves very wise, thought I to myself. Then I told them all about it, and why I had travelled so far, and also what promise had been made at home to the one who should discover the method of preparing this soup. ‘What use will it be,’ I asked, ‘to the mouse-king or to our whole mighty kingdom that I have seen all these beautiful things? I cannot shake the sausage peg and say, Look, here is the skewer, and now the soup will come. That would only produce a dish to be served when people were keeping a fast.’

“Then the elf dipped his finger into the cup of a violet, and said to me, ‘Look here, I will anoint your pilgrim’s staff, so that when you return to your own home and enter the king’s castle, you have only to touch the king with your staff, and violets will spring forth and cover the whole of it, even in the coldest winter time; so I think I have given you really something to carry home, and a little more than something.’”

But before the little mouse explained what this something more was, she stretched her staff out to the king, and as it touched him the most beautiful bunch of violets sprang forth and filled the place with perfume. The smell was so powerful that the mouse-king ordered the mice who stood nearest the chimney to thrust their tails into the fire, that there might be a smell of burning, for the perfume of the violets was overpowering, and not the sort of scent that every one liked.

“But what was the something more of which you spoke just now?” asked the mouse-king.

“Why,” answered the little mouse, “I think it is what they call ‘effect;’” and thereupon she turned the staff round, and behold not a single flower was to be seen upon it! She now only held the naked skewer, and lifted it up as a conductor lifts his baton at a concert. “Violets, the elf told me,” continued the mouse, “are for the sight, the smell, and the touch; so we have only now to produce the effect of hearing and tasting;” and then, as the little mouse beat time with her staff, there came sounds of music, not such music as was heard in the forest, at the elfin feast, but such as is often heard in the kitchen—the sounds of boiling and roasting. It came quite suddenly, like wind rushing through the chimneys, and seemed as if every pot and kettle were boiling over. The fire-shovel clattered down on the brass fender; and then, quite as suddenly, all was still,—nothing could be heard but the light, vapory song of the tea-kettle, which was quite wonderful to hear, for no one could rightly distinguish whether the kettle was just beginning to boil or going to stop. And the little pot steamed, and the great pot simmered, but without any regard for each; indeed there seemed no sense in the pots at all. And as the little mouse waved her baton still more wildly, the pots foamed and threw up bubbles, and boiled over; while again the wind roared and whistled through the chimney, and at last there was such a terrible hubbub, that the little mouse let her stick fall.

“That is a strange sort of soup,” said the mouse-king; “shall we not now hear about the preparation?”

“That is all,” answered the little mouse, with a bow.

“That all!” said the mouse-king; “then we shall be glad to hear what information the next may have to give us.”

What the Second Mouse Had to Tell

I WAS born in the library, at a castle,” said the second mouse. “Very few members of our family ever had the good fortune to get into the dining-room, much less the store-room. On my journey, and here to-day, are the only times I have ever seen a kitchen. We were often obliged to suffer hunger in the library, but then we gained a great deal of knowledge. The rumor reached us of the royal prize offered to those who should be able to make soup from a sausage skewer. Then my old grandmother sought out a manuscript which, however, she could not read, but had heard it read, and in it was written, ‘Those who are poets can make soup of sausage skewers.’ She then asked me if I was a poet. I felt myself quite innocent of any such pretensions. Then she said I must go out and make myself a poet. I asked again what I should be required to do, for it seemed to me quite as difficult as to find out how to make soup of a sausage skewer. My grandmother had heard a great deal of reading in her day, and she told me three principal qualifications were necessary—understanding, imagination, and feeling. ‘If you can manage to acquire these three, you will be a poet, and the sausage-skewer soup will be quite easy to you.’

“So I went forth into the world, and turned my steps towards the west, that I might become a poet. Understanding is the most important matter in everything. I knew that, for the two other qualifications are not thought much of; so I went first to seek for understanding. Where was I to find it? ‘Go to the ant and learn wisdom,’ said the great Jewish king. I knew that from living in a library. So I went straight on till I came to the first great ant-hill, and then I set myself to watch, that I might become wise. The ants are a very respectable people, they are wisdom itself. All they do is like the working of a sum in arithmetic, which comes right. ‘To work and to lay eggs,’ say they, ‘and to provide for posterity, is to live out your time properly;’ and that they truly do. They are divided into the clean and the dirty ants, their rank is pointed out by a number, and the ant-queen is number ONE; and her opinion is the only correct one on everything; she seems to have the whole wisdom of the world in her, which was just the important matter I wished to acquire. She said a great deal which was no doubt very clever; yet to me it sounded like nonsense. She said the ant-hill was the loftiest thing in the world, and yet close to the mound stood a tall tree, which no one could deny was loftier, much loftier, but no mention was made of the tree. One evening an ant lost herself on this tree; she had crept up the stem, not nearly to the top, but higher than any ant had ever ventured; and when at last she returned home she said that she had found something in her travels much higher than the ant-hill. The rest of the ants considered this an insult to the whole community; so she was condemned to wear a muzzle and to live in perpetual solitude. A short time afterwards another ant got on the tree, and made the same journey and the same discovery, but she spoke of it cautiously and indefinitely, and as she was one of the superior ants and very much respected, they believed her, and when she died they erected an eggshell as a monument to her memory, for they cultivated a great respect for science. I saw,” said the little mouse, “that the ants were always running to and fro with her burdens on their backs. Once I saw one of them drop her load; she gave herself a great deal of trouble in trying to raise it again, but she could not succeed. Then two others came up and tried with all their strength to help her, till they nearly dropped their own burdens in doing so; then they were obliged to stop for a moment in their help, for every one must think of himself first. And the ant-queen remarked that their conduct that day showed that they possessed kind hearts and good understanding. ‘These two qualities,’ she continued, ‘place us ants in the highest degree above all other reasonable beings. Understanding must therefore be seen among us in the most prominent manner, and my wisdom is greater than all.’ And so saying she raised herself on her two hind legs, that no one else might be mistaken for her. I could not therefore make an error, so I ate her up. We are to go to the ants to learn wisdom, and I had got the queen.

“I now turned and went nearer to the lofty tree already mentioned, which was an oak. It had a tall trunk with a wide-spreading top, and was very old. I knew that a living being dwelt here, a dryad as she is called, who is born with the tree and dies with it. I had heard this in the library, and here was just such a tree, and in it an oak-maiden. She uttered a terrible scream when she caught sight of me so near to her; like many women, she was very much afraid of mice. And she had more real cause for fear than they have, for I might have gnawed through the tree on which her life depended. I spoke to her in a kind and friendly manner, and begged her to take courage. At last she took me up in her delicate hand, and then I told her what had brought me out into the world, and she promised me that perhaps on that very evening she should be able to obtain for me one of the two treasures for which I was seeking. She told me that Phantaesus was her very dear friend, that he was as beautiful as the god of love, that he remained often for many hours with her under the leafy boughs of the tree which then rustled and waved more than ever over them both. He called her his dryad, she said, and the tree his tree; for the grand old oak, with its gnarled trunk, was just to his taste. The root, spreading deep into the earth, the top rising high in the fresh air, knew the value of the drifted snow, the keen wind, and the warm sunshine, as it ought to be known. ‘Yes,’ continued the dryad, ‘the birds sing up above in the branches, and talk to each other about the beautiful fields they have visited in foreign lands; and on one of the withered boughs a stork has built his nest,—it is beautifully arranged, and besides it is pleasant to hear a little about the land of the pyramids. All this pleases Phantaesus, but it is not enough for him; I am obliged to relate to him of my life in the woods; and to go back to my childhood, when I was little, and the tree so small and delicate that a stinging-nettle could overshadow it, and I have to tell everything that has happened since then till now that the tree is so large and strong. Sit you down now under the green bindwood and pay attention, when Phantaesus comes I will find an opportunity to lay hold of his wing and to pull out one of the little feathers. That feather you shall have; a better was never given to any poet, it will be quite enough for you.’

“And when Phantaesus came the feather was plucked, and,” said the little mouse, “I seized and put it in water, and kept it there till it was quite soft. It was very heavy and indigestible, but I managed to nibble it up at last. It is not so easy to nibble one’s self into a poet, there are so many things to get through. Now, however, I had two of them, understanding and imagination; and through these I knew that the third was to be found in the library. A great man has said and written that there are novels whose sole and only use appeared to be that they might relieve mankind of overflowing tears—a kind of sponge, in fact, for sucking up feelings and emotions. I remembered a few of these books, they had always appeared tempting to the appetite; they had been much read, and were so greasy, that they must have absorbed no end of emotions in themselves. I retraced my steps to the library, and literally devoured a whole novel, that is, properly speaking, the interior or soft part of it; the crust, or binding, I left. When I had digested not only this, but a second, I felt a stirring within me; then I ate a small piece of a third romance, and felt myself a poet. I said it to myself, and told others the same. I had head-ache and back-ache, and I cannot tell what aches besides. I thought over all the stories that may be said to be connected with sausage pegs, and all that has ever been written about skewers, and sticks, and staves, and splinters came to my thoughts; the ant-queen must have had a wonderfully clear understanding. I remembered the man who placed a white stick in his mouth by which he could make himself and the stick invisible. I thought of sticks as hobby-horses, staves of music or rhyme, of breaking a stick over a man’s back, and heaven knows how many more phrases of the same sort relating to sticks, staves, and skewers. All my thoughts rein on skewers, sticks of wood, and staves; and as I am, at last, a poet, and I have worked terribly hard to make myself one, I can of course make poetry on anything. I shall therefore be able to wait upon you every day in the week with a poetical history of a skewer. And that is my soup.”

“In that case,” said the mouse-king, “we will hear what the third mouse has to say.”

“Squeak, squeak,” cried a little mouse at the kitchen door; it was the fourth, and not the third, of the four who were contending for the prize, one whom the rest supposed to be dead. She shot in like an arrow, and overturned the sausage peg that had been covered with crape. She had been running day and night. She had watched an opportunity to get into a goods train, and had travelled by the railway; and yet she had arrived almost too late. She pressed forward, looking very much ruffled. She had lost her sausage skewer, but not her voice; for she began to speak at once as if they only waited for her, and would hear her only, and as if nothing else in the world was of the least consequence. She spoke out so clearly and plainly, and she had come in so suddenly, that no one had time to stop her or to say a word while she was speaking. And now let us hear what she said.

What the Fourth Mouse, Who Spoke Before the Third, Had to Tell

I STARTED off at once to the largest town,” said she, “but the name of it has escaped me. I have a very bad memory for names. I was carried from the railway, with some forfeited goods, to the jail, and on arriving I made my escape, and ran into the house of the turnkey. The turnkey was speaking of his prisoners, especially of one who had uttered thoughtless words. These words had given rise to other words, and at length they were written down and registered: ‘The whole affair is like making soup of sausage skewers,’ said he, ‘but the soup may cost him his neck.’

“Now this raised in me an interest for the prisoner,” continued the little mouse, “and I watched my opportunity, and slipped into his apartment, for there is a mouse-hole to be found behind every closed door. The prisoner looked pale; he had a great beard and large, sparkling eyes. There was a lamp burning, but the walls were so black that they only looked the blacker for it. The prisoner scratched pictures and verses with white chalk on the black walls, but I did not read the verses. I think he found his confinement wearisome, so that I was a welcome guest. He enticed me with bread-crumbs, with whistling, and with gentle words, and seemed so friendly towards me, that by degrees I gained confidence in him, and we became friends; he divided his bread and water with me, gave me cheese and sausage, and I really began to love him. Altogether, I must own that it was a very pleasant intimacy. He let me run about on his hand, and on his arm, and into his sleeve; and I even crept into his beard, and he called me his little friend. I forgot what I had come out into the world for; forgot my sausage skewer which I had laid in a crack in the floor—it is lying there still. I wished to stay with him always where I was, for I knew that if I went away the poor prisoner would have no one to be his friend, which is a sad thing. I stayed, but he did not. He spoke to me so mournfully for the last time, gave me double as much bread and cheese as usual, and kissed his hand to me. Then he went away, and never came back. I know nothing more of his history.

“The jailer took possession of me now. He said something about soup from a sausage skewer, but I could not trust him. He took me in his hand certainly, but it was to place me in a cage like a tread-mill. Oh how dreadful it was! I had to run round and round without getting any farther in advance, and only to make everybody laugh. The jailer’s grand-daughter was a charming little thing. She had curly hair like the brightest gold, merry eyes, and such a smiling mouth.

“‘You poor little mouse,’ said she, one day as she peeped into my cage, ‘I will set you free.’ She then drew forth the iron fastening, and I sprang out on the window-sill, and from thence to the roof. Free! free! that was all I could think of; not of the object of my journey. It grew dark, and as night was coming on I found a lodging in an old tower, where dwelt a watchman and an owl. I had no confidence in either of them, least of all in the owl, which is like a cat, and has a great failing, for she eats mice. One may however be mistaken sometimes; and so was I, for this was a respectable and well-educated old owl, who knew more than the watchman, and even as much as I did myself. The young owls made a great fuss about everything, but the only rough words she would say to them were, ‘You had better go and make some soup from sausage skewers.’ She was very indulgent and loving to her children. Her conduct gave me such confidence in her, that from the crack where I sat I called out ‘squeak.’ This confidence of mine pleased her so much that she assured me she would take me under her own protection, and that not a creature should do me harm. The fact was, she wickedly meant to keep me in reserve for her own eating in winter, when food would be scarce. Yet she was a very clever lady-owl; she explained to me that the watchman could only hoot with the horn that hung loose at his side; and then she said he is so terribly proud of it, that he imagines himself an owl in the tower;—wants to do great things, but only succeeds in small; all soup on a sausage skewer. Then I begged the owl to give me the recipe for this soup. ‘Soup from a sausage skewer,’ said she, ‘is only a proverb amongst mankind, and may be understood in many ways. Each believes his own way the best, and after all, the proverb signifies nothing.’ ‘Nothing!’ I exclaimed. I was quite struck. Truth is not always agreeable, but truth is above everything else, as the old owl said. I thought over all this, and saw quite plainly that if truth was really so far above everything else, it must be much more valuable than soup from a sausage skewer. So I hastened to get away, that I might be home in time, and bring what was highest and best, and above everything—namely, the truth. The mice are an enlightened people, and the mouse-king is above them all. He is therefore capable of making me queen for the sake of truth.”

“Your truth is a falsehood,” said the mouse who had not yet spoken; “I can prepare the soup, and I mean to do so.”

How It Was Prepared

I DID not travel,” said the third mouse; “I stayed in this country: that was the right way. One gains nothing by travelling—everything can be acquired here quite as easily; so I stayed at home. I have not obtained what I know from supernatural beings. I have neither swallowed it, nor learnt it from conversing with owls. I have got it all from my reflections and thoughts. Will you now set the kettle on the fire—so? Now pour the water in—quite full—up to the brim; place it on the fire; make up a good blaze; keep it burning, that the water may boil; it must boil over and over. There, now I throw in the skewer. Will the mouse-king be pleased now to dip his tail into the boiling water, and stir it round with the tail. The longer the king stirs it, the stronger the soup will become. Nothing more is necessary, only to stir it.”

“Can no one else do this?” asked the king.

“No,” said the mouse; “only in the tail of the mouse-king is this power contained.”

And the water boiled and bubbled, as the mouse-king stood close beside the kettle. It seemed rather a dangerous performance; but he turned round, and put out his tail, as mice do in a dairy, when they wish to skim the cream from a pan of milk with their tails and afterwards lick it off. But the mouse-king’s tail had only just touched the hot steam, when he sprang away from the chimney in a great hurry, exclaiming, “Oh, certainly, by all means, you must be my queen; and we will let the soup question rest till our golden wedding, fifty years hence; so that the poor in my kingdom, who are then to have plenty of food, will have something to look forward to for a long time, with great joy.”

And very soon the wedding took place. But many of the mice, as they were returning home, said that the soup could not be properly called “soup from a sausage skewer,” but “soup from a mouse’s tail.” They acknowledged also that some of the stories were very well told; but that the whole could have been managed differently. “I should have told it so—and so—and so.” These were the critics who are always so clever afterwards.

When this story was circulated all over the world, the opinions upon it were divided; but the story remained the same. And, after all, the best way in everything you undertake, great as well as small, is to expect no thanks for anything you may do, even when it refers to “soup from a sausage skewer.”

文章来源:安徒生童话

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