The Juniper Tree – Part 2

’Bird,’ he said, ’how beautifully you sing! Sing me that song again.’

’Nay,’ said the bird, ’I do not sing twice for nothing. Give that gold chain, and I will sing it you again.’

’Here is the chain, take it,’ said the goldsmith. ’Only sing me that again.’

The bird flew down and took the gold chain in his right claw, and then he alighted again in front of the goldsmith and sang:

’My mother killed her little son;

My father grieved when I was gone;

My sister loved me best of all;

She laid her kerchief over me,

And took my bones that they might lie

Underneath the juniper-tree

Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!’

Then he flew away, and settled on the roof of a shoemaker’s house and sang:

’My mother killed her little son;

My father grieved when I was gone;

My sister loved me best of all;

She laid her kerchief over me,

And took my bones that they might lie

Underneath the juniper-tree

Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!’

The shoemaker heard him, and he jumped up and ran out in his shirt- sleeves, and stood looking up at the bird on the roof with his hand over his eyes to keep himself from being blinded by the sun.

’Bird,’ he said, ’how beautifully you sing!’ Then he called through the door to his wife: ’Wife, come out; here is a bird, come and look at it and hear how beautifully it sings.’ Then he called his daughter and the children, then the apprentices, girls and boys, and they all ran up the street to look at the bird, and saw how splendid it was with its red and green feathers, and its neck like burnished gold, and eyes like two bright stars in its head.

’Bird,’ said the shoemaker, ’sing me that song again.’

’Nay,’ answered the bird, ’I do not sing twice for nothing; you must give me something.’

’Wife,’ said the man, ’go into the garret; on the upper shelf you will see a pair of red shoes; bring them to me.’ The wife went in and fetched the shoes.

’There, bird,’ said the shoemaker, ’now sing me that song again.’

The bird flew down and took the red shoes in his left claw, and then he went back to the roof and sang:

’My mother killed her little son;

My father grieved when I was gone;

My sister loved me best of all;

She laid her kerchief over me,

And took my bones that they might lie

Underneath the juniper-tree

Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!’

When he had finished, he flew away. He had the chain in his right claw and the shoes in his left, and he flew right away to a mill, and the mill went ’Click clack, click clack, click clack.’ Inside the mill were twenty of the miller’s men hewing a stone, and as they went ’Hick hack, hick hack, hick hack,’ the mill went ’Click clack, click clack, click clack.’

The bird settled on a lime-tree in front of the mill and sang:

’My mother killed her little son;

then one of the men left off,

My father grieved when I was gone;

two more men left off and listened,

My sister loved me best of all;

then four more left off,

She laid her kerchief over me,

And took my bones that they might lie

now there were only eight at work,

Underneath

And now only five,

the juniper-tree.

and now only one,

Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!’

then he looked up and the last one had left off work.

’Bird,’ he said, ’what a beautiful song that is you sing! Let me hear it too; sing it again.’

’Nay,’ answered the bird, ’I do not sing twice for nothing; give me that millstone, and I will sing it again.’

’If it belonged to me alone,’ said the man, ’you should have it.’

’Yes, yes,’ said the others: ’if he will sing again, he can have it.’

The bird came down, and all the twenty millers set to and lifted up the stone with a beam; then the bird put his head through the hole and took the stone round his neck like a collar, and flew back with it to the tree and sang–

’My mother killed her little son;

My father grieved when I was gone;

My sister loved me best of all;

She laid her kerchief over me,

And took my bones that they might lie

Underneath the juniper-tree

Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!’

And when he had finished his song, he spread his wings, and with the chain in his right claw, the shoes in his left, and the millstone round his neck, he flew right away to his father’s house.

The father, the mother, and little Marleen were having their dinner.

’How lighthearted I feel,’ said the father, ’so pleased and cheerful.’

’And I,’ said the mother, ’I feel so uneasy, as if a heavy thunderstorm were coming.’

But little Marleen sat and wept and wept.

Then the bird came flying towards the house and settled on the roof.

’I do feel so happy,’ said the father, ’and how beautifully the sun shines; I feel just as if I were going to see an old friend again.’

’Ah!’ said the wife, ’and I am so full of distress and uneasiness that my teeth chatter, and I feel as if there were a fire in my veins,’ and she tore open her dress; and all the while little Marleen sat in the corner and wept, and the plate on her knees was wet with her tears.

The bird now flew to the juniper-tree and began singing:

’My mother killed her little son;

the mother shut her eyes and her ears, that she might see and hear nothing, but there was a roaring sound in her ears like that of a violent storm, and in her eyes a burning and flashing like lightning:

My father grieved when I was gone;

’Look, mother,’ said the man, ’at the beautiful bird that is singing so magnificently; and how warm and bright the sun is, and what a delicious scent of spice in the air!’

My sister loved me best of all;

then little Marleen laid her head down on her knees and sobbed.

’I must go outside and see the bird nearer,’ said the man.

’Ah, do not go!’ cried the wife. ’I feel as if the whole house were in flames!’

But the man went out and looked at the bird.

She laid her kerchief over me,

And took my bones that they might lie

Underneath the juniper-tree

Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!’

With that the bird let fall the gold chain, and it fell just round the man’s neck, so that it fitted him exactly.

He went inside, and said, ’See, what a splendid bird that is; he has given me this beautiful gold chain, and looks so beautiful himself.’

But the wife was in such fear and trouble, that she fell on the floor, and her cap fell from her head.

Then the bird began again:

’My mother killed her little son;

’Ah me!’ cried the wife, ’if I were but a thousand feet beneath the earth, that I might not hear that song.’

My father grieved when I was gone;

then the woman fell down again as if dead.

My sister loved me best of all;

’Well,’ said little Marleen, ’I will go out too and see if the bird will give me anything.’

So she went out.

She laid her kerchief over me,

And took my bones that they might lie

and he threw down the shoes to her,

Underneath the juniper-tree

Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!’

And she now felt quite happy and lighthearted; she put on the shoes and danced and jumped about in them. ’I was so miserable,’ she said, ’when I came out, but that has all passed away; that is indeed a splendid bird, and he has given me a pair of red shoes.’

The wife sprang up, with her hair standing out from her head like flames of fire. ’Then I will go out too,’ she said, ’and see if it will lighten my misery, for I feel as if the world were coming to an end.’

But as she crossed the threshold, crash! the bird threw the millstone down on her head, and she was crushed to death.

The father and little Marleen heard the sound and ran out, but they only saw mist and flame and fire rising from the spot, and when these had passed, there stood the little brother, and he took the father and little Marleen by the hand; then they all three rejoiced, and went inside together and sat down to their dinners and ate.

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