Monday, May 5, 2008
May Fairy Tale: The Three Languages
Translation: Copyright FairyTaleChannel.org
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A count once lived in Switzerland and he had only one child, a son. But this child was a very simple lad who would learn nothing. One day the father said to him “Listen, my son, try as I may, I can’t get anything to stay in your head. Now you shall go forth into the world and let a famous master try his luck with you.” The youth was sent to a foreign city and remained with the master an entire year. At the end of this time, he returned home and his father asked him “Now my son, what have you learned?” “Father, I have learned to understand the barking of dogs.” “God be merciful!” the father cried, “is that all that you have learned? I will send you to another city and to another master.” The youth was brought to this new city and stayed with a new master another entire year. When he returned, the father asked him again “My son, what have you learned?” He replied, “Father, I have learned to understand the chirping of birds.” The father was filled with rage and replied angrily “O, you lost and forsaken boy, you have wasted your valuable time and not learned anything at all. Aren’t you ashamed to appear before me? I will send you to a third master, but this time if you don’t learn anything, I will no longer be your father.” So the son stayed with the third master another entire year and when he returned home, the father asked “My son, what have you learned?” He replied “Dear father, this year I have learned to understand the croaking of frogs.” The father was seized by such rage, he jumped up and called his servants. “This man is no longer my son. I am now washing my hands of him and ask that you take him into the forest and kill him.” They seized him and led him out, but when they were about to kill him, they could not for they pitied him, so they let him go. They cut out the eyes and tongue of a doe and this is what they brought the old man as proof of their act.
The youth wandered forth and after some time he came to a castle, where he requested lodgings for the night. “Yes,” the master of the castle replied, “If you want to spend the night down below, in the old tower, go ahead. But I must warn you, it is a most dangerous place for it is filled with wild dogs that bark and howl without end. At certain hours they demand that a human being be thrown to them, whom they devour immediately.” The entire region was filled with alarm, but no one was able to help. The youth, who was not afraid said “Let me go down to the barking dogs and give me some food I can throw to them. They won’t do anything to me.” Because he insisted on going, they gave him some food for the wild animals and brought him down to the tower. When he entered, the hounds did not bellow at him, they wagged their tails in a friendly manner and ran around him, ate what he placed before them and did not harm a single hair on his head. The next morning to everyone’s surprise he returned healthy and whole. He said to the master of the castle “The hounds have revealed to me in their language why they rage and romp and bring harm to the countryside. A curse has been placed on them and they must guard a magnificent treasure in the tower until the treasure has been raised. Only then will they be allowed to rest. Their speech has also revealed to me the way the treasure must be uncovered.” Everyone who heard this rejoiced and the count promised his daughter to the youth, if he would raise the treasure. He happily complied, the wild dogs disappeared and the country was free of the nuisance. The beautiful maiden was given to the young man as wife and they lived happily together for some time.
It was not long after that the young count sat down happily beside his wife in a wagon and began a trip to Rome. On the way they passed a marsh where frogs sat and croaked. The young count listened and when he heard what they said, he became thoughtful and sad. At first, he would not tell his wife the reason. Finally, they arrived in Rome and found the pope had just died. Among the cardinals there was doubt about who should be elected successor. They at last agreed that the man would be revealed by a divine sign from God and this divinely designated man would then be voted pope. Right at the very moment it was decided, the young count entered the church and suddenly two snow-white doves flew down and landed on his shoulders. And there they remained seated. The priest recognized the sign from God and asked the young count immediately whether he wanted to become pope. He hesitated for he did not know if he was worthy of the job. But the doves murmured to him that he should do it and he responded “Yes”. He was anointed and blessed and thus, what the frogs had foretold before en route to Rome came true. The frogs had croaked he would become the blessed pope, which initially disturbed him. He was soon asked to sing mass and didn’t know a single word. But two doves perched on his shoulders and they whispered everything into his ear.