安徒生童话:各得其所

  • A+
所属分类:民间故事

这是一百多年以前的事情!

在树林后面的一个大湖旁边,有一座古老的邸宅。它的周围有一道很深的壕沟;里面长着许多芦苇和草。在通向入口的那座桥边,长着一棵古老的柳树;它的枝子垂向这些芦苇。

从空巷里传来一阵号角声和马蹄声;一个牧鹅姑娘趁着一群猎人没有奔驰过来以前,就赶快把她的一群鹅从桥边赶走。猎人飞快地跑近来了。她只好急忙爬到桥头的一块石头上,免得被他们踩倒。她仍然是个孩子,身材很瘦削;但是她面上有一种和蔼的表情和一双明亮的眼睛。那位老爷没有注意到这点。当他飞驰过去的时候,他把鞭子掉过来,恶作剧地用鞭子的把手朝这女孩子的胸脯一推,弄得她仰着滚下去了。

各得其所!”他大声说,“请你滚到泥巴里去吧!”

他哄笑起来。因为他觉得这很好笑,所以和他一道的人也都笑起来。全体人马都大肆叫嗥,连猎犬也咬起来。这真是所谓:

“富鸟飞来声音大!”①

只有上帝知道,他现在还是不是富有。

这个可怜的牧鹅女在落下去的时候,伸手乱抓,结果抓住了柳树的一根垂枝,这样她就悬在泥沼上面。老爷和他的猎犬马上就走进大门不见了。这时她就想法再爬上来,但是枝子忽然在顶上断了;要不是上面有一只强壮的手抓住了她,她就要落到芦苇里去了。这人是一个流浪的小贩。他从不远的地方看到了这件事情,所以他现在就急忙赶过来帮助她。

各得其所!”他模拟那位老爷的口吻开玩笑地说。于是,他就把小姑娘拉到干地上来。他倒很想把那根断了的枝子接上,但是“各得其所”不是在任何场合下都可以做得到的!因此他就把这枝子插到柔软的土里。“假如你能够的话,生长吧,一直长到你可以成为那个公馆里的人们的一管笛子!”

他倒希望这位老爷和他的一家人挨一次痛打呢。他走进这个公馆里去,但并不是走进客厅,因为他太微贱了!他走进仆人住的地方去。他们翻了翻他的货品,争论了一番价钱。但是从上房的酒席桌上,起来一阵喧噪和尖叫声——这就是他们所谓的唱歌;比这更好的东西他们就不会了。笑声和犬吠声、大吃大喝声,混做一团。普通酒和强烈的啤酒在酒罐和玻璃杯里冒着泡,狗子跟主人坐在一起吃喝。有的狗子用耳朵把鼻子擦干净以后,还得到少爷们的亲吻。

他们请这小贩带着他的货品走上来,不过他们的目的是要开他的玩笑。酒已经入了他们的肚肠,理智已经飞走了。他们把啤酒倒进袜子里,请这小贩跟他们一起喝,但是必须喝得快!这办法既巧妙,而又能逗人发笑。于是他们把牲口、农奴和农庄都拿出来作为赌注,有的赢,有的输了。

“各得其所!”小贩在走出了这个他所谓的“罪恶的渊薮”的时候说。“我的处‘所’是宽广的大路,我在那家一点也不感到自在。”

牧鹅的小姑娘从田野的篱笆那儿对他点头。

许多天过去了。许多星期过去了。小贩插在壕沟旁边的那根折断了的杨柳枝,显然还是新鲜和翠绿的;它甚至还冒出了嫩芽。牧鹅的小姑娘知道这根枝子现在生了根,所以她感到非常愉快,因为她觉得这棵树是她的树。

这棵树在生长。但是公馆里的一切,在喝酒和赌博中很快地就搞光了——因为这两件东西像轮子一样,任何人在上面是站不稳的。

六个年头还没有过完,老爷拿着袋子和手杖,作为一个穷人走出了这个公馆。公馆被一个富有的小贩买去了。他就是曾经在这儿被戏弄和讥笑过的那个人——那个得从袜子里喝啤酒的人。但是诚实和勤俭带来兴盛;现在这个小贩成为了公馆的主人。不过从这时起,打纸牌的这种赌博就不许在这儿再玩了。

“这是很坏的消遣,”他说,“当魔鬼第一次看到《圣经》的时候,他就想放一本坏书来抵消它,于是他就发明了纸牌戏!”

这位新主人娶了一个太太。她不是别人,就是那个牧鹅的女郎。她一直是很忠诚、虔敬和善良的。她穿上新衣服非常漂亮,好像她天生就是一个贵妇人似的。事情怎么会是这样呢?是的,在我们这个忙碌的时代里,这是一个很长的故事;不过事情是如此,而且最重要的一部分还在后面。

住在这座古老的邸宅里是很幸福的。母亲管家里的事,父亲管外面的事,幸福好像是从泉水里涌出来的。凡是幸运的地方,就经常有幸运来临。这座老房子被打扫和油漆得一新;壕沟也清除了,果木树也种起来了。一切都显得温暖而愉快;地板擦得很亮,像一个棋盘。在漫长的冬夜里,女主人同她的女佣人坐在堂屋里织羊毛或纺线。礼拜天的晚上,司法官——那个小贩成了司法官,虽然他现在已经老了——就读一段《圣经》。孩子们——因为他们生了孩子——都长大了,而且受到了很好的教育,虽然像在别的家庭里一样,他们的能力各有不同。

公馆门外的那根柳树枝。已经长成为一棵美丽的树。它自由自在地立在那儿,还没有被剪过枝。“这是我们的家族树!”这对老夫妇说;这树应该得到光荣和尊敬——他们这样告诉他们的孩子,包括那些头脑不太聪明的孩子。

一百年过去了。

这就是我们的时代。湖已经变成了一块沼地。那座老邸宅也不见了,现在只剩下一个长方形的水潭,两边立着一些断垣残壁。这就是那条壕沟的遗址。这儿还立着一株壮丽的老垂柳。它就是那株老家族树。这似乎是说明,一棵树如果你不去管它,它会变得多么美丽。当然,它的主干从根到顶都裂开了;风暴也把它打得略为弯了一点。虽然如此,它仍然立得很坚定,而且在每一个裂口里——风和雨送了些泥土进去——还长出了草和花;尤其是在顶上大枝丫分杈的地方,许多覆盆子和繁缕形成一个悬空的花园。这儿甚至还长出了几棵山梨树;它们苗条地立在这株老柳树的身上。当风儿把青浮草吹到水潭的一个角落里去了的时候,老柳树的影子就在荫深的水上出现。一条小径从这树的近旁一直伸到田野。在树林附近的一个风景优美的小山上,有一座新房子,既宽大,又华丽;窗玻璃是那么透明,人们可能以为它完全没有镶玻璃。大门前面的宽大台阶很像玫瑰花和宽叶植物所形成的一个花亭。草坪是那么碧绿,好像每一起叶子早晚都被冲洗过了一番似的。厅堂里悬着华贵的绘画。套着锦缎和天鹅绒的椅子和沙发,简直像自己能够走动似的。此外还有光亮的大理石桌子,烫金的皮装的书籍。是的,这儿住着的是富有的人;这儿住着的是贵族——男爵。

这儿一切东西都配得很调和。这儿的格言是:“各得其所!”因此从前在那座老房子里光荣地、排场地挂着的一些绘画,现在统统都在通到仆人住处的走廊上挂着。它们现在成了废物——特别是那两幅老画像:一幅是一位穿粉红上衣和戴着扑了粉的假发的绅士,另一幅是一位太太——她的向上梳的头发也扑了粉,她的手里拿着一朵红玫瑰花。他们两人四周围着一圈柳树枝所编成的花环。这两张画上布满了圆洞,因为小男爵们常常把这两位老人当做他们射箭的靶子。这两位老人就是司法官和他的夫人——这个家族的始祖。

“但是他们并不真正属于这个家族!”一位小男爵说。“他是一个小贩,而她是一个牧鹅的丫头。他们一点也不像爸爸和妈妈。”

这两张画成为没有价值的废物。因此,正如人们所说的,它们“各得其所”!曾祖父和曾祖母就来到通向仆人宿舍的走廊里了。

牧师的儿子是这个公馆里的家庭教师。有一天他和小男爵们以及他们受了坚信礼不久的姐姐到外面去散步。他们在小径上向那棵老柳树后面走来;当他们正在走的时候,这位小姐就用田里的小花扎了一个花束。"各得其所",所以这些花儿也形成了一个美丽的整体。在这同时,她倾听着大家的高谈阔论。她喜欢听牧师的儿子谈起大自然的威力,谈起历史上伟大的男子和女人。她有健康愉快的个性,高尚的思想和灵魂,还有一颗喜爱上帝所创造一切事物的心。

他们在老柳树旁边停下来。最小的那位男爵很希望有一管笛子,因为他从前也有过一管用柳树枝雕的笛子。牧师的儿子便折下一根枝子。

“啊,请不要这样做吧!”那位年轻的女男爵说。然而这已经做了。“这是我们的一棵有名的老树,我非常心疼它!他们在家里常常因此笑我,但是我不管!这棵树有一个来历!”

于是她就把她所知道的关于这树的事情全讲出来:关于那个老邸宅的事情,以及那个小贩和那个牧鹅姑娘怎样在这地方第一次遇见、后来他们又怎样成为这个有名的家族和这个女男爵的始祖的事情。

“这两个善良的老人,他们不愿意成为贵族!”她说,“他们遵守着‘各得其所’的格言;因此他们就觉得,假如他们用钱买来一个爵位,那就与他们的地位不相称了。只有他们的儿子——我们的祖父——才正式成为一位男爵。据说他是一位非常有学问的人,他常常跟王子和公主们来往,还常常参加他们的宴会。家里所有的人都非常喜欢他。但是,我不知道为什么,最初的那对老人对我的心有某种吸引力。那个老房子里的生活一定是这样地安静和庄严:主妇和女扑们一起坐着纺纱,老主人高声朗诵着《圣经》。”

“他们是一对可爱的通情理的人!”牧师的儿子说。

到这儿,他们的谈话就自然接触到贵族和市民了。牧师的儿子几乎不太像市民阶层的人,因为当他谈起关于贵族的事情时,他是那么内行。他说:

“一个人作为一个有名望的家庭的一员是一桩幸运!同样,一个人血统里有一种鼓舞他向上的动力,也是一桩幸运。一个人有一个族名作为走进上流社会的桥梁,是一桩美事。贵族是高贵的意思。它是一块金币,上面刻着它的价值。我们这个时代的调子——许多诗人也自然随声附和——是:一切高贵的东西总是愚蠢和没有价值的;至于穷人,他们越不行,他们就越聪明。不过这不是我的见解,因为我认为这种看法完全是错误的,虚伪的。在上流阶级里面,人们可以发现许多美丽和感动人的特点。我的母亲告诉过我一个例子,而且我还可以举出许多别的来。她到城里去拜访一个贵族家庭。我想,我的祖母曾经当过那家主妇的乳母。我的母亲有一天跟那位高贵的老爷坐在一个房间里。他看见一个老太婆拄着拐杖蹒跚地走进屋子里来。她是每个礼拜天都来的,而且一来就带走几个银毫。‘这是一个可怜的老太婆,’老爷说:‘她走路真不容易!’在我的母亲还没有懂得他的意思以前,他就走出了房门,跑下楼梯,亲自走到那个穷苦的老太婆身边去,免得她为了取几个银毫而要走艰难的路。这不过是一件小小的事情;但是,像《圣经》上所写的寡妇的一文钱②一样,它在人心的深处,在人类的天性中引起一个回音。诗人就应该把这类事情指出来,歌颂它,特别是在我们这个时代,因为这会发生好的作用,会说服人心。不过有的人,因为有高贵的血统,同时出身于望族,常常像阿拉伯的马一样,喜欢翘起前腿在大街上嘶鸣。只要有一个普通人来过,他就在房间里说‘平民曾经到过此地!’这说明贵族在腐化,变成了一个贵族的假面具,一个德斯比斯③所创造的那种面具。人们讥笑这种人,把他当成讽刺的对象。”

这就是牧师的儿子的一番议论。它的确未免太长了一点,但在这期间,那管笛子却雕成了。

公馆里有一大批客人。他们都是从附近地区和京城里来的。有些女士们穿得很入时,有的不入时。大客厅里挤满了人。附近地区的一些牧师都是恭而敬之挤在一个角落里——这使人觉得好像要举行一个葬礼似的。但是这却是一个欢乐的场合,只不过欢乐还没有开始罢了。

这儿应该有一个盛大的音乐会才好。因此一位少男爵就把他的柳树笛子取出来,不过他吹不出声音来,他的爸爸也吹不出,所以它成了一个废物。

这儿现在有了音乐,也有了歌唱,它们都使演唱者本人感到最愉快,当然这也不坏!

“您也是一个音乐家吗?”一位漂亮绅士——他只不过是他父母的儿子——说。“你吹奏这管笛子,而且你还亲手把它雕出来。这简直是天才,而天才坐在光荣的席位上,统治着一切。啊,天啦!我是在跟着时代走——每个人非这样不可。啊,请你用这小小的乐起来迷住我们一下吧,好不好?”

于是他就把用水池旁的那株柳树枝雕成的笛子交给牧师的儿子。他同时大声说,这位家庭教师将要用这乐器对大家作一个独奏。

现在他们要开他的玩笑,这是很清楚的了。因此这位家庭教师就不吹了,虽然他可以吹得很好。但是他们却坚持要他吹,弄得他最后只好拿起笛子,凑到嘴上。

这真是一管奇妙的笛子!它发出一个怪声音,比蒸汽机所发出的汽笛声还要粗。它在院子上空,在花园和森林里盘旋,远远地飘到田野上去。跟这音调同时,吹来了一阵呼啸的狂风,它呼啸着说:“各得其所!”于是爸爸就好像被风在吹动似地,飞出了大厅,落在牧人的房间里去了;而牧人也飞起来,但是却没有飞进那个大厅里去,因为他不能去——嗨,他却飞到仆人的宿舍里去,飞到那些穿着丝袜子、大摇大摆地走着路的、漂亮的侍从中间去。这些骄傲的仆人们被弄得目瞪口呆,想道:这么一个下贱的人物居然敢跟他们一道坐上桌子。

但是在大厅里,年轻的女男爵飞到了桌子的首席上去。她是有资格坐在这儿的。牧师的儿子坐在她的旁边。他们两人这样坐着,好像他们是一对新婚夫妇似的。只有一位老伯爵——他属于这国家的一个最老的家族——仍然坐在他尊贵的位子上没有动;因为这管笛子是很公正的,人也应该是这样。那位幽默的漂亮绅士——他只不过是他父亲的儿子——这次吹笛的煽动人,倒栽葱地飞进一个鸡屋里去了,但他并不是孤独地一个人在那儿。

在附近一带十多里地以内,大家都听到了笛声和这些奇怪的事情。一个富有商人的全家,坐在一辆四骑马拉的车子里,被吹出了车厢,连在车后都找不到一块地方站着。两个有钱的农夫,他们在我们这个时代长得比他们田里的麦子还高,却被吹到泥巴沟里去了。这是一管危险的笛子!很幸运的是,它在发出第一个调子后就裂开了。这是一件好事,因为这样它就又被放进衣袋里去了:“各得其所!”

随后的一天,谁也不提起这件事情,因此我们就有了“笛子入袋”这个成语。每件东西都回到它原来的位子上。只有那个小贩和牧鹅女的画像挂到大客厅里来了。它们是被吹到那儿的墙上去的。正如一位真正的鉴赏家说过的一样,它们是由一位名家画出来的;所以它们现在挂在它们应该挂的地方。人们从前不知道它们有什么价值,而人们又怎么会知道呢?现在它们悬在光荣的位置上:“各得其所!”事情就是这样!永恒的真理是很长的——比这个故事要长得多。

①这是丹麦的一句古老的谚语,原文意译是:“富人出行,声势浩大!”

②即钱少而可贵的意思,原出《圣经·新约·马可福音》:耶稣对银库坐着,看众人怎样投钱入库。有好些财主,往里投了若干的钱。有一个穷寡妇来,往里投了两个小钱,这就是一个大钱。耶稣叫门徒来,说,我实在告诉你们,这穷寡妇投入库里的,比众人所投的最多。因为他们都是自己有余,拿出来投在里头。但这寡妇是自己不足,把她一切养生的都投上了。

③德斯比斯(Thespis)是纪元前六世纪的希腊一个戏剧家,悲剧的创始者。

所英文版:Everything in the Right Place

IT is more than a hundred years ago! At the border of the wood, near a large lake, stood the old mansion: deep ditches surrounded it on every side, in which reeds and bulrushes grew. Close by the drawbridge, near the gate, there was an old willow tree, which bent over the reeds.

From the narrow pass came the sound of bugles and the trampling of horses’ feet; therefore a little girl who was watching the geese hastened to drive them away from the bridge, before the whole hunting party came galloping up; they came, however, so quickly, that the girl, in order to avoid being run over, placed herself on one of the high corner-stones of the bridge. She was still half a child and very delicately built; she had bright blue eyes, and a gentle, sweet expression. But such things the baron did not notice; while he was riding past the little goose-girl, he reversed his hunting crop, and in rough play gave her such a push with it that she fell backward into the ditch.

“Everything in the right place!” he cried. “Into the ditch with you.”

Then he burst out laughing, for that he called fun; the others joined in—the whole party shouted and cried, while the hounds barked.

While the poor girl was falling she happily caught one of the branches of the willow tree, by the help of which she held herself over the water, and as soon as the baron with his company and the dogs had disappeared through the gate, the girl endeavoured to scramble up, but the branch broke off, and she would have fallen backward among the rushes, had not a strong hand from above seized her at this moment. It was the hand of a pedlar; he had witnessed what had happened from a short distance, and now hastened to assist her.

“Everything in the right place,” he said, imitating the noble baron, and pulling the little maid up to the dry ground. He wished to put the branch back in the place it had been broken off, but it is not possible to put everything in the right place; therefore he stuck the branch into the soft ground.

“Grow and thrive if you can, and produce a good flute for them yonder at the mansion,” he said; it would have given him great pleasure to see the noble baron and his companions well thrashed. Then he entered the castle—but not the banqueting hall; he was too humble for that. No; he went to the servants’ hall. The men-servants and maids looked over his stock of articles and bargained with him; loud crying and screaming were heard from the master’s table above: they called it singing—indeed, they did their best. Laughter and the howls of dogs were heard through the open windows: there they were feasting and revelling; wine and strong old ale were foaming in the glasses and jugs; the favourite dogs ate with their masters; now and then the squires kissed one of these animals, after having wiped its mouth first with the tablecloth. They ordered the pedlar to come up, but only to make fun of him. The wine had got into their heads, and reason had left them. They poured beer into a stocking that he could drink with them, but quick. That’s what they called fun, and it made them laugh. Then meadows, peasants, and farmyards were staked on one card and lost.

“Everything in the right place!” the pedlar said when he had at last safely got out of Sodom and Gomorrah, as he called it. “The open high road is my right place; up there I did not feel at ease.”

The little maid, who was still watching the geese, nodded kindly to him as he passed through the gate.

Days and weeks passed, and it was seen that the broken willow-branch which the peddlar had stuck into the ground near the ditch remained fresh and green—nay, it even put forth fresh twigs; the little goose-girl saw that the branch had taken root, and was very pleased; the tree, so she said, was now her tree. While the tree was advancing, everything else at the castle was going backward, through feasting and gambling, for these are two rollers upon which nobody stands safely. Less than six years afterwards the baron passed out of his castle-gate a poor beggar, while the baronial seat had been bought by a rich tradesman. He was the very pedlar they had made fun of and poured beer into a stocking for him to drink; but honesty and industry bring one forward, and now the pedlar was the possessor of the baronial estate. From that time forward no card-playing was permitted there.

“That’s a bad pastime,” he said; “when the devil saw the Bible for the first time he wanted to produce a caricature in opposition to it, and invented card-playing.”

The new proprietor of the estate took a wife, and whom did he take?—The little goose-girl, who had always remained good and kind, and who looked as beautiful in her new clothes as if she had been a lady of high birth. And how did all this come about? That would be too long a tale to tell in our busy time, but it really happened, and the most important events have yet to be told.

It was pleasant and cheerful to live in the old place now: the mother superintended the household, and the father looked after things out-of-doors, and they were indeed very prosperous.

Where honesty leads the way, prosperity is sure to follow. The old mansion was repaired and painted, the ditches were cleaned and fruit-trees planted; all was homely and pleasant, and the floors were as white and shining as a pasteboard. In the long winter evenings the mistress and her maids sat at the spinning-wheel in the large hall; every Sunday the counsellor—this title the pedlar had obtained, although only in his old days—read aloud a portion from the Bible. The children (for they had children) all received the best education, but they were not all equally clever, as is the case in all families.

In the meantime the willow tree near the drawbridge had grown up into a splendid tree, and stood there, free, and was never clipped. “It is our genealogical tree,” said the old people to their children, “and therefore it must be honoured.”

A hundred years had elapsed. It was in our own days; the lake had been transformed into marsh land; the whole baronial seat had, as it were, disappeared. A pool of water near some ruined walls was the only remainder of the deep ditches; and here stood a magnificent old tree with overhanging branches—that was the genealogical tree. Here it stood, and showed how beautiful a willow can look if one does not interfere with it. The trunk, it is true, was cleft in the middle from the root to the crown; the storms had bent it a little, but it still stood there, and out of every crevice and cleft, in which wind and weather had carried mould, blades of grass and flowers sprang forth. Especially above, where the large boughs parted, there was quite a hanging garden, in which wild raspberries and hart’s-tongue ferns throve, and even a little mistletoe had taken root, and grew gracefully in the old willow branches, which were reflected in the dark water beneath when the wind blew the chickweed into the corner of the pool. A footpath which led across the fields passed close by the old tree. High up, on the woody hillside, stood the new mansion. It had a splendid view, and was large and magnificent; its window panes were so clear that one might have thought there were none there at all. The large flight of steps which led to the entrance looked like a bower covered with roses and broad-leaved plants. The lawn was as green as if each blade of grass was cleaned separately morning and evening. Inside, in the hall, valuable oil paintings were hanging on the walls. Here stood chairs and sofas covered with silk and velvet, which could be easily rolled about on castors; there were tables with polished marble tops, and books bound in morocco with gilt edges. Indeed, well-to-do and distinguished people lived here; it was the dwelling of the baron and his family. Each article was in keeping with its surroundings. “Everything in the right place” was the motto according to which they also acted here, and therefore all the paintings which had once been the honour and glory of the old mansion were now hung up in the passage which led to the servants’ rooms. It was all old lumber, especially two portraits—one representing a man in a scarlet coat with a wig, and the other a lady with powdered and curled hair holding a rose in her hand, each of them being surrounded by a large wreath of willow branches. Both portraits had many holes in them, because the baron’s sons used the two old people as targets for their crossbows. They represented the counsellor and his wife, from whom the whole family descended. “But they did not properly belong to our family,” said one of the boys; “he was a pedlar and she kept the geese. They were not like papa and mamma.” The portraits were old lumber, and “everything in its right place.” That was why the great-grandparents had been hung up in the passage leading to the servants’ rooms.

The son of the village pastor was tutor at the mansion. One day he went for a walk across the fields with his young pupils and their elder sister, who had lately been confirmed. They walked along the road which passed by the old willow tree, and while they were on the road she picked a bunch of field-flowers. “Everything in the right place,” and indeed the bunch looked very beautiful. At the same time she listened to all that was said, and she very much liked to hear the pastor’s son speak about the elements and of the great men and women in history. She had a healthy mind, noble in thought and deed, and with a heart full of love for everything that God had created. They stopped at the old willow tree, as the youngest of the baron’s sons wished very much to have a flute from it, such as had been cut for him from other willow trees; the pastor’s son broke a branch off. “Oh, pray do not do it!” said the young lady; but it was already done. “That is our famous old tree. I love it very much. They often laugh at me at home about it, but that does not matter. There is a story attached to this tree.” And now she told him all that we already know about the tree—the old mansion, the pedlar and the goose-girl who had met there for the first time, and had become the ancestors of the noble family to which the young lady belonged.

“They did not like to be knighted, the good old people,” she said; “their motto was ‘everything in the right place,’ and it would not be right, they thought, to purchase a title for money. My grandfather, the first baron, was their son. They say he was a very learned man, a great favourite with the princes and princesses, and was invited to all court festivities. The others at home love him best; but, I do not know why, there seemed to me to be something about the old couple that attracts my heart! How homely, how patriarchal, it must have been in the old mansion, where the mistress sat at the spinning-wheel with her maids, while her husband read aloud out of the Bible!”

“They must have been excellent, sensible people,” said the pastor’s son. And with this the conversation turned naturally to noblemen and commoners; from the manner in which the tutor spoke about the significance of being noble, it seemed almost as if he did not belong to a commoner’s family.

“It is good fortune to be of a family who have distinguished themselves, and to possess as it were a spur in oneself to advance to all that is good. It is a splendid thing to belong to a noble family, whose name serves as a card of admission to the highest circles. Nobility is a distinction; it is a gold coin that bears the stamp of its own value. It is the fallacy of the time, and many poets express it, to say that all that is noble is bad and stupid, and that, on the contrary, the lower one goes among the poor, the more brilliant virtues one finds. I do not share this opinion, for it is wrong. In the upper classes one sees many touchingly beautiful traits; my own mother has told me of such, and I could mention several. One day she was visiting a nobleman’s house in town; my grandmother, I believe, had been the lady’s nurse when she was a child. My mother and the nobleman were alone in the room, when he suddenly noticed an old woman on crutches come limping into the courtyard; she came every Sunday to carry a gift away with her.

“‘There is the poor old woman,’ said the nobleman; ‘it is so difficult for her to walk.’

“My mother had hardly understood what he said before he disappeared from the room, and went downstairs, in order to save her the troublesome walk for the gift she came to fetch. Of course this is only a little incident, but it has its good sound like the poor widow’s two mites in the Bible, the sound which echoes in the depth of every human heart; and this is what the poet ought to show and point out—more especially in our own time he ought to sing of this; it does good, it mitigates and reconciles! But when a man, simply because he is of noble birth and possesses a genealogy, stands on his hind legs and neighs in the street like an Arabian horse, and says when a commoner has been in a room: ‘Some people from the street have been here,’ there nobility is decaying; it has become a mask of the kind that Thespis created, and it is amusing when such a person is exposed in satire.”

Such was the tutor’s speech; it was a little long, but while he delivered it he had finished cutting the flute.

There was a large party at the mansion; many guests from the neighbourhood and from the capital had arrived. There were ladies with tasteful and with tasteless dresses; the big hall was quite crowded with people. The clergymen stood humbly together in a corner, and looked as if they were preparing for a funeral, but it was a festival—only the amusement had not yet begun. A great concert was to take place, and that is why the baron’s young son had brought his willow flute with him; but he could not make it sound, nor could his father, and therefore the flute was good for nothing.

There was music and songs of the kind which delight most those that perform them; otherwise quite charming!

“Are you an artist?” said a cavalier, the son of his father; “you play on the flute, you have made it yourself; it is genius that rules—the place of honour is due to you.”

“Certainly not! I only advance with the time, and that of course one can’t help.”

“I hope you will delight us all with the little instrument—will you not?” Thus saying he handed to the tutor the flute which had been cut from the willow tree by the pool; and then announced in a loud voice that the tutor wished to perform a solo on the flute. They wished to tease him—that was evident, and therefore the tutor declined to play, although he could do so very well. They urged and requested him, however, so long, that at last he took up the flute and placed it to his lips.

That was a marvellous flute! Its sound was as thrilling as the whistle of a steam engine; in fact it was much stronger, for it sounded and was heard in the yard, in the garden, in the wood, and many miles round in the country; at the same time a storm rose and roared; “Everything in the right place.” And with this the baron, as if carried by the wind, flew out of the hall straight into the shepherd’s cottage, and the shepherd flew—not into the hall, thither he could not come—but into the servants’ hall, among the smart footmen who were striding about in silk stockings; these haughty menials looked horror-struck that such a person ventured to sit at table with them. But in the hall the baron’s daughter flew to the place of honour at the end of the table—she was worthy to sit there; the pastor’s son had the seat next to her; the two sat there as if they were a bridal pair. An old Count, belonging to one of the oldest families of the country, remained untouched in his place of honour; the flute was just, and it is one’s duty to be so. The sharp-tongued cavalier who had caused the flute to be played, and who was the child of his parents, flew headlong into the fowl-house, but not he alone.

The flute was heard at the distance of a mile, and strange events took place. A rich banker’s family, who were driving in a coach and four, were blown out of it, and could not even find room behind it with their footmen. Two rich farmers who had in our days shot up higher than their own corn-fields, were flung into the ditch; it was a dangerous flute. Fortunately it burst at the first sound, and that was a good thing, for then it was put back into its owner’s pocket—“its right place.”

The next day, nobody spoke a word about what had taken place; thus originated the phrase, “to pocket the flute.” Everything was again in its usual order, except that the two old pictures of the peddlar and the goose-girl were hanging in the banqueting-hall. There they were on the wall as if blown up there; and as a real expert said that they were painted by a master’s hand, they remained there and were restored. “Everything in the right place,” and to this it will come. Eternity is long, much longer indeed than this story.

文章来源:安徒生童话

发表评论

:?: :razz: :sad: :evil: :!: :smile: :oops: :grin: :eek: :shock: :???: :cool: :lol: :mad: :twisted: :roll: :wink: :idea: :arrow: :neutral: :cry: :mrgreen: