Clumsy Hans


Hans le balourd

Out in the country there was an old mansion where an old squire lived with his two sons, who were so witty that they thought themselves too clever for words. They decided to go out and propose to the King's daughter, which they were at liberty to do, for she had announced publicly that she would take for a husband the man who had the most to say for himself.

The two brothers made their preparations for eight days beforehand. That was all the time they had, but it was enough, for they had many accomplishments, and everyone knows how useful they can be. One of them knew the whole Latin dictionary by heart and the town's newspaper for three years - so well that he could repeat it backward or forward. The other had learned all the articles of law and knew what every alderman must know; consequently, he was sure he could talk of governmental affairs, and besides this he could embroider suspenders, for he was very gentle and also clever with his fingers.

"I shall win the Princess!" they both said, as their father gave each one of them a beautiful horse. The one who had memorized the dictionary and the newspapers had a coal-black horse, while the one who knew all about governmental affairs and could embroider had a milk-white one. Then they smeared the corners of their mouths with cod-liver oil, to make them more glib.

All the servants assembled in the courtyard to watch them mount their horses, but just then the third brother came up; for there were really three, although nobody paid much attention to the third, because he was not so learned as the other two. In fact, everybody called him "Clumsy Hans."

"Where are you going in all your Sunday clothes?" he asked.

"To the King's court, to woo the Princess. Haven't you heard what the King's drummer is proclaiming all over the country?" Then they told him about it.

"Gracious," said Clumsy Hans, "I guess I'll go, too!" But his brothers only burst out laughing at him as they rode away.

"Father," shouted Clumsy Hans, "Let me have a horse. I feel like getting married, too. If she takes me, she takes me; and if she doesn't take me, I'll take her, anyway."

"That's a lot of nonsense!" replied his father. "You'll get no horse from me. Why, you don't know how to talk properly. Now, your brothers are intelligent men."

"If I can't have a horse I'll take the billy goat," said Clumsy Hans. "He belongs to me, and he can carry me very well." So he mounted the billy goat, dug his heels into its sides, and galloped off down the highway.

"Alley-oop! What a ride! Here I come!" shouted Clumsy Hans, singing so loud that his voice was heard far away.

But his two brothers rode quietly on ahead of him. They were not speaking a word to each other, for they were thinking about all the clever speeches they would have to make, and of course these had to be carefully prepared and memorized beforehand.

"Halloo!" cried Clumsy Hans. "Here I come! Look what I found on the road!" Then he showed them a dead crow he had picked up.

"Clumsy!" said the brothers. "What are you going to do with that?"

"Why, I am going to give it to the Princess!"

"Yes, you do that," they said as they rode on laughing.

"Halloo, here I come again! Just look what I've found this time! You don't find things like this in the road every day!" So the brothers turned around to see what it was this time.

"Clumsy!" they said. "That's just an old wooden shoe, and the upper part's broken off, anyway. Is the Princess going to have that, too?"

"She certainly is," replied Hans, and the brothers again laughed and rode on far in advance of him.

"Halloo! Here I am again," shouted Clumsy Hans. "Now this is getting better and better! This is really something!"

"Well, what have you found this time?" asked the brothers.

"Oh, I can't really tell you," Clumsy Hans said. "How pleased the Princess will be!"

"Uh!" said the brothers. "Why, it's nothing but mud out of the ditch!"

"Yes, of course," said Clumsy Hans, "but the very finest sort of mud. Look, it runs right through your fingers." Then he filled his pockets with it.

But his brothers galloped on ahead as fast as they could, and so they arrived at the town gate a full hour ahead of Hans. At the gate each suitor was given a numbered ticket, and as fast as they arrived they were arranged in rows, six to a row, packed together so tightly that they could not even move their arms. That was a wise plan, for otherwise they could have cut each other's backs to pieces, just because one stood in front of another. All the inhabitants of the town stood around the castle, peering in through the windows to watch the Princess receive her suitors; but as each young man came into the room, he became tongue-tied.

"No good!" said the Princess. "Take him away!"

Now came the brother who had memorized the dictionary, but he had completely forgotten it while standing in line. The floor creaked under his footsteps, and the ceiling was made of mirrors so that he could see himself standing on his head; and at each window stood three clerks and an alderman, writing down every word that was spoken, so that it immediately could be printed in the newspapers and sold for two pennies on the street corners.

It was a terrible ordeal, and besides there were such fires in the stoves that the pipe was red-hot.

"It's terribly hot in here," said the suitor.

"That's because my father is roasting chickens today," said the Princess.

"Baa!" There he stood. He was not ready for a speech of this kind and hadn't a word to say, just when he wanted to say something extremely witty. "Baa!"

"No good!" said the Princess. "Take him away!" And consequently he had to leave.

Now the second brother approached.

"It's dreadfully warm here," he said.

"Yes, we're roasting chickens today," replied the Princess.

"What-what did you-uh-what?" he stammered, and all the clerks carefully wrote down, "What-what did you-uh-what?"

"No good," said the Princess again. "Out with him!"

Now it was Clumsy Hans's turn, and he rode his billy goat right into the hall.

"Terribly hot in here," he said.

"I'm roasting young chickens," replied the Princess.

"Why, that's fine!" said Clumsy Hans. "Then I suppose I can get my crow roasted?"

"That you can," said the Princess. "But have you anything to roast it in? I haven't any pots or pans."

"But I have," replied Clumsy Hans. "Here's a cooking pot with a tin handle!" Then he pulled out the old wooden shoe and put the crow right into it.

"Why, that's enough for a whole meal!" said the Princess. "But where do we get the sauce from?"

"I have that in my pocket," replied Clumsy Hans. "In fact, I have so much I can afford to spill some of it." Then he poured a little of the mud from his pocket.

"I like that!" said the Princess. "You have an answer for everything, and you know how to speak. I'll take you for my husband. But do you know that everything we've said and are saying is written down and will be published in the paper tomorrow? Look over there, and you'll see in each window three clerks and an old alderman, and that alderman is the worst of all; he doesn't understand anything!"

She said this only to frighten him, but all the clerks chuckled with delight and spurted blots of ink on the floor.

"Oh, so these are the gentlemen!" said Clumsy Hans. "Then I must give the alderman the best thing I have." Then he turned out his pockets and threw the wet mud in the face of the alderman.

"Cleverly done!" said the Princess. "I could never have done that, but I'll learn in time!"

So Clumsy Hans was made a king, with a wife and a crown, and sat on a throne. And we had this story straight from the alderman's newspaper-but that is one you can't always depend upon.
Il y avait dans la campagne un vieux manoir et, dans ce manoir, un vieux seigneur qui avait deux fils si pleins d'esprit qu'avec la moitié ils en auraient déjà eu assez. Ils voulaient demander la main de la fille du roi mais ils n'osaient pas car elle avait fait savoir qu'elle épouserait celui qui saurait le mieux plaider sa cause. Les deux garçons se préparèrent pendant huit jours - ils n'avaient pas plus de temps devant eux -, mais c'était suffisant car ils avaient des connaissances préalables fort utiles. L'un savait par cœur tout le lexique latin et trois années complètes du journal du pays, et cela en commençant par le commencement ou en commençant par la fin; l'autre avait étudié les statuts de toutes les corporations et appris tout ce que devait connaître un maître juré, il pensait pouvoir discuter de l'État et, de plus, il s'entendait à broder les harnais car il était fin et adroit de ses mains.

- J'aurai la fille du roi, disaient-ils tous les deux.

Leur père donna à chacun d'eux un beau cheval, noir comme le charbon pour celui à la mémoire impeccable, blanc comme neige pour le maître en sciences corporatives et broderie, puis ils se graissèrent les commissures des lèvres avec de l'huile de foie de morue pour rendre leur parole plus fluide.

Tous les domestiques étaient dans la cour pour les voir monter à cheval quand soudain arriva le troisième frère - ils étaient trois, mais le troisième ne comptait absolument pas, il n'était pas instruit comme les autres, on l'appelait Hans le Balourd.

- Où allez-vous ainsi en grande tenue? demanda-t-il.

- A la cour, gagner la main de la princesse par notre conversation. Tu n'as pas entendu ce que le tambour proclame dans tout le pays?

Et ils le mirent au courant.

- Parbleu! il faut que j'en sois! fit Hans le Balourd.

Ses frères se moquèrent de lui et partirent.

- Père, donne-moi aussi un cheval, cria Hans le Balourd, j'ai une terrible envie de me marier. Si la princesse me prend, c'est bien, et si elle ne me prend pas, je la prendrai quand même.

- Bêtises, fit le père, je ne te donnerai pas de cheval, tu ne sais rien dire, tes frères, eux, sont gens d'importance.

- Si tu ne veux pas me donner de cheval, répliqua Hans le Balourd, je monterai mon bouc, il est à moi et il peut bien me porter.

Et il se mit à califourchon sur le bouc, l'éperonna de ses talons et prit la route à toute allure. Ah! comme il filait!

- J'arrive, criait-il.

Et il chantait d'une voix claironnante.

Les frères avançaient tranquillement sur la route sans mot dire, ils pensaient aux bonnes réparties qu'ils allaient lancer, il fallait que ce soit longuement médité.

- Holà! holà! criait Hans, me voilà! Regardez ce que j'ai trouvé sur la route.

Et il leur montra une corneille morte qu'il avait ramassée.

- Balourd! qu'est-ce que tu vas faire de ça?

- Je l'offrirai à la fille du roi.

- C'est parfait! dirent les frères.

Et ils continuèrent leur route en riant.

- Holà! holà! voyez ce que j'ai trouvé maintenant! Ce n'est pas tous les jours qu'on trouve ça sur la route.

Les frères tournèrent encore une fois la tête.

- Balourd! c'est un vieux sabot dont le dessus est parti. Est-ce aussi pour la fille du roi?

- Bien sûr! dit Hans.

Et les frères de rire et de prendre une grande avance.

- Holà! holà! ça devient de plus en plus beau! Holà! c'est merveilleux!

- Qu'est-ce que tu as encore trouvé?

- Oh! elle va être joliment contente, la fille du roi!

- Pfuu! mais ce n'est que de la boue qui vient de jaillir du fossé!

- Oui, oui, c'est ça, et de la plus belle espèce, on ne peut même pas la tenir dans la main.

Là-dessus il en remplit sa poche.

Les frères chevauchèrent à bride abattue et arrivèrent avec une heure d'avance aux portes de la ville. Là, les prétendants recevaient l'un après l'autre un numéro et on les mettait en rang six par six, si serrés qu'ils ne pouvaient remuer les bras et c'était fort bien ainsi, car sans cela ils se seraient peut-être battus rien que parce que l'un était devant l'autre.

Tous les autres habitants du pays se tenaient autour du château, juste devant les fenêtres pour voir la fille du roi recevoir les prétendants. A mesure que l'un d'eux entrait dans la salle, il ne savait plus que dire.

- Bon à rien, disait la fille du roi, sortez!

Vint le tour du frère qui savait le lexique par cœur, mais il l'avait complètement oublié pendant qu'il faisait la queue. Le parquet craquait et le plafond était tout en glace, de sorte qu'il se voyait à l'envers marchant sur la tête. A chaque fenêtre se tenaient trois secrétaires-journalistes et un maître juré (surveillant) qui inscrivaient tout ce qui se disait afin que cela paraisse aussitôt dans le journal que l'on vendait au coin pour deux sous. C'était affreux. De plus, on avait chargé le poêle au point qu'il était tout rouge.

- Quelle chaleur! disait le premier des frères.

- C'est parce qu'aujourd'hui mon père rôtit des poulets, dit la fille du roi.

Euh! le voilà pris, il ne s'attendait pas à ça. Il aurait voulu répondre quelque chose de drôle et ne trouvait rien. Euh! ...

- Bon à rien. Sortez!

L'autre frère entra.

- Il fait terriblement chaud ici, commença-t-il ...

- Oui, nous rôtissons des poulets aujourd'hui.

- Comment? Quoi? Quoi? dit-il.

Et tous les journalistes écrivaient: «Comment? quoi? quoi?»

- Bon à rien! Sortez!

Vint le tour de Hans le Balourd. Il entra sur son bouc jusqu'au milieu de la salle.

- Quelle fournaise! dit-il.

- Oui, nous rôtissons des poulets aujourd'hui.

- Quelle chance! fit Hans le Balourd, alors je pourrai sans doute me faire rôtir une corneille.

- Mais bien sûr dit la princesse, mais as-tu quelque chose pour la faire rôtir, car moi je n'ai ni pot ni poêle.

- Et moi j'en ai, dit Hans, voilà une casserole cerclée d'étain.

Et il sortit le vieux sabot et posa la corneille au milieu.

- Voilà tout un repas, dit la fille du roi, mais où prendrons-nous la sauce?

- Dans ma poche, dit Hans le Balourd. J'en ai tant que je veux!

Et il fit couler un peu de boue de sa poche.

- Ça, ça me plaît! dit la fille du roi. Toi, tu as réponse à tout et tu sais parler et je te veux pour époux. Mais sais-tu que chaque mot que nous avons dit paraîtra demain matin dans le journal? A chaque fenêtre se tiennent trois secrétaires-journalistes et un vieux maître juré (surveillant) et ce vieux-là est pire encore que les autres car il ne comprend rien de rien.

Elle disait cela pour lui faire peur. Tous les secrétaires-journalistes, par protestation, firent des taches d'encre sur le parquet.

-Voilà du beau monde! dit Hans le Balourd. Je vois qu'il faut que je m'en mêle et que je donne à leur patron tout ce que j'ai de mieux.

Il retourna sa poche et lança au maître juré le reste de la boue en pleine figure.

- Ça, c'est du beau travail! dit la princesse, je n'en aurais pas fait autant ... Mais j'apprendrai à mon tour à les traiter comme ils le méritent.

C'est ainsi que Hans le Balourd devint roi, il eut une femme et une couronne et s'assit sur un trône et c'est le journal qui nous en informa... mais peut-on vraiment se fier aux journaux?

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