The flying trunk


La malle volante

There was once a merchant who was so rich that he could have paved the whole street with gold, and would even then have had enough for a small alley. But he did not do so; he knew the value of money better than to use it in this way. So clever was he, that every shilling he put out brought him a crown; and so he continued till he died. His son inherited his wealth, and he lived a merry life with it; he went to a masquerade every night, made kites out of five pound notes, and threw pieces of gold into the sea instead of stones, making ducks and drakes of them. In this manner he soon lost all his money. At last he had nothing left but a pair of slippers, an old dressing-gown, and four shillings. And now all his friends deserted him, they could not walk with him in the streets; but one of them, who was very good-natured, sent him an old trunk with this message, "Pack up!" - "Yes," he said, "it is all very well to say 'pack up,' "but he had nothing left to pack up, therefore he seated himself in the trunk. It was a very wonderful trunk; no sooner did any one press on the lock than the trunk could fly. He shut the lid and pressed the lock, when away flew the trunk up the chimney with the merchant's son in it, right up into the clouds. Whenever the bottom of the trunk cracked, he was in a great fright, for if the trunk fell to pieces he would have made a tremendous somerset over the trees. However, he got safely in his trunk to the land of Turkey. He hid the trunk in the wood under some dry leaves, and then went into the town: he could so this very well, for the Turks always go about dressed in dressing-gowns and slippers, as he was himself. He happened to meet a nurse with a little child. "I say, you Turkish nurse," cried he, "what castle is that near the town, with the windows placed so high?"

"The king's daughter lives there," she replied; "it has been prophesied that she will be very unhappy about a lover, and therefore no one is allowed to visit her, unless the king and queen are present."

"Thank you," said the merchant's son. So he went back to the wood, seated himself in his trunk, flew up to the roof of the castle, and crept through the window into the princess's room. She lay on the sofa asleep, and she was so beautiful that the merchant's son could not help kissing her. Then she awoke, and was very much frightened; but he told her he was a Turkish angel, who had come down through the air to see her, which pleased her very much. He sat down by her side and talked to her: he said her eyes were like beautiful dark lakes, in which the thoughts swam about like little mermaids, and he told her that her forehead was a snowy mountain, which contained splendid halls full of pictures. And then he related to her about the stork who brings the beautiful children from the rivers. These were delightful stories; and when he asked the princess if she would marry him, she consented immediately.

"But you must come on Saturday," she said; "for then the king and queen will take tea with me. They will be very proud when they find that I am going to marry a Turkish angel; but you must think of some very pretty stories to tell them, for my parents like to hear stories better than anything. My mother prefers one that is deep and moral; but my father likes something funny, to make him laugh."

"Very well," he replied; "I shall bring you no other marriage portion than a story," and so they parted. But the princess gave him a sword which was studded with gold coins, and these he could use.

Then he flew away to the town and bought a new dressing-gown, and afterwards returned to the wood, where he composed a story, so as to be ready for Saturday, which was no easy matter. It was ready however by Saturday, when he went to see the princess. The king, and queen, and the whole court, were at tea with the princess; and he was received with great politeness.

"Will you tell us a story?" said the queen,– "one that is instructive and full of deep learning."

"Yes, but with something in it to laugh at," said the king.

"Certainly," he replied, and commenced at once, asking them to listen attentively.

"There was once a bundle of matches that were exceedingly proud of their high descent. Their genealogical tree, that is, a large pine-tree from which they had been cut, was at one time a large, old tree in the wood. The matches now lay between a tinder-box and an old iron saucepan, and were talking about their youthful days. 'Ah! then we grew on the green boughs, and were as green as they; every morning and evening we were fed with diamond drops of dew. Whenever the sun shone, we felt his warm rays, and the little birds would relate stories to us as they sung. We knew that we were rich, for the other trees only wore their green dress in summer, but our family were able to array themselves in green, summer and winter. But the wood-cutter came, like a great revolution, and our family fell under the axe. The head of the house obtained a situation as mainmast in a very fine ship, and can sail round the world when he will. The other branches of the family were taken to different places, and our office now is to kindle a light for common people. This is how such high-born people as we came to be in a kitchen.'

'Mine has been a very different fate,' said the iron pot, which stood by the matches; 'from my first entrance into the world I have been used to cooking and scouring. I am the first in this house, when anything solid or useful is required. My only pleasure is to be made clean and shining after dinner, and to sit in my place and have a little sensible conversation with my neighbors. All of us, excepting the water-bucket, which is sometimes taken into the courtyard, live here together within these four walls. We get our news from the market-basket, but he sometimes tells us very unpleasant things about the people and the government. Yes, and one day an old pot was so alarmed, that he fell down and was broken to pieces. He was a liberal, I can tell you.'

'You are talking too much,' said the tinder-box, and the steel struck against the flint till some sparks flew out, crying, 'We want a merry evening, don't we?'

'Yes, of course,' said the matches, 'let us talk about those who are the highest born.'

'No, I don't like to be always talking of what we are,' remarked the saucepan; 'let us think of some other amusement; I will begin. We will tell something that has happened to ourselves; that will be very easy, and interesting as well. On the Baltic Sea, near the Danish shore'– 'What a pretty commencement!' said the plates; 'we shall all like that story, I am sure.'

'Yes; well in my youth, I lived in a quiet family, where the furniture was polished, the floors scoured, and clean curtains put up every fortnight,'

'What an interesting way you have of relating a story,' said the carpet-broom; 'it is easy to perceive that you have been a great deal in women's society, there is something so pure runs through what you say.'

'That is quite true,' said the water-bucket; and he made a spring with joy, and splashed some water on the floor.

Then the saucepan went on with his story, and the end was as good as the beginning.

The plates rattled with pleasure, and the carpet-broom brought some green parsley out of the dust-hole and crowned the saucepan, for he knew it would vex the others; and he thought, 'If I crown him to-day he will crown me to-morrow.'

'Now, let us have a dance,' said the fire-tongs; and then how they danced and stuck up one leg in the air. The chair-cushion in the corner burst with laughter when she saw it.

'Shall I be crowned now?' asked the fire-tongs; so the broom found another wreath for the tongs.

'They were only common people after all,' thought the matches. The tea-urn was now asked to sing, but she said she had a cold, and could not sing without boiling heat. They all thought this was affectation, and because she did not wish to sing excepting in the parlor, when on the table with the grand people.

In the window sat an old quill-pen, with which the maid generally wrote. There was nothing remarkable about the pen, excepting that it had been dipped too deeply in the ink, but it was proud of that.

'If the tea-urn won't sing,' said the pen, 'she can leave it alone; there is a nightingale in a cage who can sing; she has not been taught much, certainly, but we need not say anything this evening about that.'

'I think it highly improper,' said the tea-kettle, who was kitchen singer, and half-brother to the tea-urn, 'that a rich foreign bird should be listened to here. Is it patriotic? Let the market-basket decide what is right.'

'I certainly am vexed,' said the basket; 'inwardly vexed, more than any one can imagine. Are we spending the evening properly? Would it not be more sensible to put the house in order? If each were in his own place I would lead a game; this would be quite another thing.'

'Let us act a play,' said they all. At the same moment the door opened, and the maid came in. Then not one stirred; they all remained quite still; yet, at the same time, there was not a single pot amongst them who had not a high opinion of himself, and of what he could do if he chose.

'Yes, if we had chosen,' they each thought, 'we might have spent a very pleasant evening.'

The maid took the matches and lighted them; dear me, how they sputtered and blazed up!

'Now then,' they thought, 'every one will see that we are the first. How we shine; what a light we give!' Even while they spoke their light went out."

"What a capital story," said the queen, "I feel as if I were really in the kitchen, and could see the matches; yes, you shall marry our daughter."

"Certainly," said the king, "thou shalt have our daughter." The king said thou to him because he was going to be one of the family. The wedding-day was fixed, and, on the evening before, the whole city was illuminated. Cakes and sweetmeats were thrown among the people. The street boys stood on tiptoe and shouted "hurrah," and whistled between their fingers; altogether it was a very splendid affair.

"I will give them another treat," said the merchant's son. So he went and bought rockets and crackers, and all sorts of fire-works that could be thought of, packed them in his trunk, and flew up with it into the air. What a whizzing and popping they made as they went off! The Turks, when they saw such a sight in the air, jumped so high that their slippers flew about their ears. It was easy to believe after this that the princess was really going to marry a Turkish angel.

As soon as the merchant's son had come down in his flying trunk to the wood after the fireworks, he thought, "I will go back into the town now, and hear what they think of the entertainment." It was very natural that he should wish to know. And what strange things people did say, to be sure! every one whom he questioned had a different tale to tell, though they all thought it very beautiful.

"I saw the Turkish angel myself," said one; "he had eyes like glittering stars, and a head like foaming water."

"He flew in a mantle of fire," cried another, "and lovely little cherubs peeped out from the folds."

He heard many more fine things about himself, and that the next day he was to be married. After this he went back to the forest to rest himself in his trunk. It had disappeared! A spark from the fireworks which remained had set it on fire; it was burnt to ashes! So the merchant's son could not fly any more, nor go to meet his bride. She stood all day on the roof waiting for him, and most likely she is waiting there still; while he wanders through the world telling fairy tales, but none of them so amusing as the one he related about the matches.
Il était une fois un marchand, si riche qu'il eût pu paver toute la rue et presque une petite ruelle encore en pièces d'argent, mais il ne le faisait pas. Il savait employer autrement sa fortune et s'il dépensait un skilling', c'est qu'il savait gagner un daler. Voilà quelle sorte du marchand c'était - et puis, il mourut.

Son fils hérita de tout cet argent et il mena joyeuse vie; il allait chaque nuit au bal masqué, confectionnait des cerfs-volants avec des riksdalers de papier, et faisait des ricochets sur la mer avec des pièces d'or à la place de pierres plates. A ce train, l'argent filait vite... A la fin, le garçon ne possédait plus que quatre shillings et ses seuls vêtements étaient une paire de pantoufles et une vieille robe de chambre.

Ses amis l'abandonnèrent puisqu'il ne pouvait plus se promener avec eux dans la rue. Mais l'un d'entre eux, qui était bon, lui envoya une vieille malle en lui disant: Fais tes paquets!

C'était vite dit, il n'avait rien à mettre dans la malle. Alors, il s'y mit lui-même.

Quelle drôle de malle! si on appuyait sur la serrure, elle pouvait voler.

C'est ce qu'elle fit, et pfut! elle s'envola avec lui à travers la cheminée, très haut, au-dessus des nuages, de plus en plus loin. Le fond craquait, notre homme craignait qu'il ne se brise en morceaux, il aurait fait une belle culbute! Grand Dieu! ... et puis, il arriva au pays des Turcs. Il cacha la malle dans la forêt, sous des feuilles sèches,

Quand nous étions parmi les rameaux verts, soupiraient-elles, on peut dire C'était la belle vie. C'était matin et soir thé de diamants - la rosée - toute la journée le soleil quand il brillait - et les oiseaux pour nous raconter des histoires.

Et nous nous sentions riches! Les arbres à feuillages n'étaient vêtus que l'été. Nous, nous avions les moyens d'être habillées de vert été comme hiver. Mais les bûcherons sont venus et ça a été la grande révolution: notre famille fut dispersée.

Notre père le tronc fut placé comme grand mât sur un splendide navire qui pouvait faire le tour du monde, s'il le voulait; les autres branches furent utilisées ailleurs, et notre sort, à nous, est maintenant d'allumer les lumières pour les gens du commun. C'est pourquoi nous, gens de qualité, avons échoué à la cuisine.

- Mon histoire est toute différente, dit la marmite. Depuis que je suis venue au monde, on m'a récurée et fait bouillir tant de fois! je pourvois au substantiel et suis réellement la personne la plus importante de la maison. Ma seule joie c'est, après le repas, de m'étendre propre et récurée sur une planche et de tenir la conversation avec les camarades. Mais à l'exception du seau d'eau qui, de temps en temps, descend dans la cour, nous vivons très renfermés. Notre seul agent d'information est le panier à provisions, mais il parle avec tant d'agitation du gouvernement et du peuple! Oui, l'autre jour, un vieux pot, effrayé de l'entendre, est tombé et s'est cassé en mille morceaux - il a des idées terriblement avancées, vous savez!

- Tu parles trop, dit le briquet. Son acier frappa la pierre à fusil qui lança des étincelles. Tâchons plutôt de passer une soirée un peu gaie.

Oui, dirent les allumettes. Cherchons qui sont, ici, les gens du plus haut rang. -Non, je n'aime pas à parler de moi, dit le pot de terre, ayons une soirée de simple causerie. je commencerai. Racontons quelque chose que chacun a vécu, c'est bien facile et si amusant.

- Au bord de la Baltique, sous les hêtres danois ...

- Quel charmant début! interrompirent les assiettes. Nous sentons que nous Baignerons cette histoire!

Oui, j'ai passé là ma jeunesse dans une paisible famille. Les meubles étaient cirés, les parquets lavés, les rideaux changés tous les quinze jours.

Comme vous racontez d'une manière intéressante! dit le balai à poussière. On se rend compte tout de suite que c'est une femme qui parle; il y a quelque chose de si propre dans votre récit.

- Oui, ça se sent, dit le seau d'eau. Et, de plaisir, il fit un petit bond et l'on entendit "platch" sur le parquet.

Le pot de terre continua son récit dont la fin était aussi bonne que le commencement. Les assiettes s'entrechoquaient d'admiration, et le balai prit un peu de persil et en couronna le pot parce qu'il savait que cela vexerait les autres, et aussi parce qu'il pensait: "Si je le couronne aujourd'hui, il me couronnera demain." Maintenant, je vais danser pour vous, dit la pincette.

Et elle dansa. Grand Dieu! comme elle savait lancer la jambe! La vieille garniture de chaise, dans le coin, craqua d'intérêt devant ce spectacle.

- Est-ce que je serai couronnée? demanda la pincette. Et elle le fut.

- Comme elle est vulgaire, pensèrent les allumettes.

C'était au tour de la bouilloire à thé de chanter, mais elle prétendait avoir un rhume et ne pouvoir chanter qu'au moment de bouillir. Ce n'était qu'une poseuse qui ne voulait se produire que sur la table des maîtres.

Sur la fenêtre, il y avait une vieille plume dont la servante se servait pour écrire. Elle n'avait rien de remarquable sinon qu'elle avait été plongée trop profondément dans l'encrier ce dont elle tirait grande vanité.

- Si la bouilloire à thé ne veut pas chanter, dit-elle, elle n'a qu'à s'abstenir. Il y a là dehors, dans une cage, un rossignol. Lui sait chanter quoiqu'il n'ait jamais appris. Il nous suffira pour ce soir.

- Je trouve fort inconvenant, dit la bouilloire qui était la cantatrice de la cuisine, qu'un oiseau étranger se produise ici. Est-ce patriotique? J'en fais juge le panier à provisions.

- Je suis vexé, dit le panier à provisions, plus que vous ne le pensez peut-être! Est-ce une manière convenable de passer la soirée? Ne vaudrait-il pas mieux réformer toute la maison, mettre chacun à sa place! je dirigerais le mouvement. Ce serait autre chose.

Oui, faisons du chahut! s'écrièrent-ils tous.

A cet instant, la porte s'ouvrit, la servante entra. Tous devinrent muets. Personne ne broncha plus, mais il n'y avait pas un seul petit pot qui ne fut conscient de ses possibilités et de sa distinction.

- Si j'avais voulu, pensaient-ils tous, cela aurait vraiment pu être une soirée très gaie.

La servante prit les allumettes et les gratta. Comme elles crépitaient et flambaient!

- Maintenant, tout le monde voit bien que nous sommes les premières. Quel éclat! Quelle lumière

Ayant dit, elles s'éteignirent.

- Quel charmant conte, dit la reine. je croyais être à la cuisine avec les allumettes. Oui, tu auras notre fille.

- Bien sûr, dit le roi, tu auras notre fille lundi.

Ils le tutoyaient déjà puisqu'il devait entrer dans la famille.

Le mariage fut fixé. La veille au soir toute la ville fut illuminée, les petits pains mollets et les croquignoles volaient de tous côtés, les gamins des rues se tenaient sur la pointe des pieds, criaient "Bravo! " et sifflaient dans leurs doigts. Une belle soirée!

Il faut aussi que je fasse quelque chose de bien, pensa le fils du marchand.

Il acheta des raquettes, des fusées, des pétards et tous les feux d'artifices imaginables. Il les mit dans sa malle et s'envola dans les airs.

Pfutt! Quelles gerbes et quels crépitements tombaient du ciel!

Tous les Turcs sautaient en l'air, leurs pantoufles volant par-dessus leurs oreilles. Ils n'avaient jamais rien vu de si beau. Ils étaient bien persuadés que c'était le dieu des Turcs lui-même qui allait épouser la princesse.

Aussitôt que le fils du marchand fut redescendu dans la forêt, il se dit:

- Je vais aller en ville pour savoir comment tout s'est passé en bas, et ce qu'on a pensé de mon feu d'artifice.

Et c'était assez naturel qu'il fût curieux de le savoir. Non ce que les gens pouvaient en dire! chacun avait vu la chose à sa façon, mais tous l'avaient vivement appréciée.

- J'ai vu le dieu des Turcs en personne, disait l'un, il avait des yeux brillants comme, des étoiles et une barbe comme l'écume de la mer.

- Il portait un manteau de feu, disait l'autre, les anges les plus ravissants montraient leur tête dans ses plis. Tout cela était fort agréable! - et le lendemain, le mariage devait avoir lieu.

Il retourna dans la forêt pour remonter dans sa malle. Où était-elle donc? Elle avait brûlé; une étincelle du feu d'artifice y avait mis le feu et la malle était en cendres. Il ne pouvait plus voler, il ne pouvait plus se présenter devant sa fiancée.

Elle l'attendit toute la journée sur le toit de son palais. Elle l'y attend encore, tandis que lui court le monde en racontant des histoires, mais elles ne sont plus aussi amusantes que celle des allumettes.

Compare two languages: