Oscar Wilde. The Fisherman and his Soul (in English, audio with text)

Part 4.The Witch (a story in English with text)

Part 4. The Witch (in English). Ведьма

  • samphire- растение, которое растет у берега моря
  • hemlock- ядовитое растение болиголов
  • mullet- кефаль
  • sieve- сито
  • thine=thy — твой
  • wroth = angry — разгневанный
  • nought = nothing
  • hornbeam— граб

And at noon he remembered how one of his companions, who was a gatherer of samphire, had told him of a certain young Witch who dwelt in a cave at the head of the bay and was very cunning in her witcheries. And he set to and ran, so eager was he to get rid of his soul, and a cloud of dust followed him as he sped round the sand of the shore. By the itching of her palm the young Witch knew his coming, and she laughed and let down her red hair. With her red hair falling around her, she stood at the opening of the cave, and in her hand she had a spray of wild hemlock that was blossoming.

‘What do you lack? What do you lack?’ she cried, as he came panting up the steep, and bent down before her. ‘Fish for thy net, when the wind is foul? I have a little reed-pipe, and when I blow on it the mullet come sailing into the bay. But it has a price, pretty boy, it has a price.

What do you lack? What do you lack? A storm to wreck the ships, and wash the chests of rich treasure ashore? I have more storms than the wind has, for I serve one who is stronger than the wind, and with a sieve and a pail of water I can send the great galleys to the bottom of the sea. But I have a price, pretty boy, I have a price.

What do you lack? What do you lack? I know a flower that grows in the valley, none knows it but I. It has purple leaves, and a star in its heart, and its juice is as white as milk. Should thou touch with this flower the hard lips of the Queen, she would follow thee all over the world. Out of the bed of the King she would rise, and over the whole world she would follow thee. And it has a price, pretty boy, it has a price.

What do you lack? What do you lack? I can pound a toad in a mortar, and make broth of it, and stir the broth with a dead man’s hand. Sprinkle it on thine enemy while he sleeps, and he will turn into a black viper, and his own mother will slay him. With a wheel I can draw the Moon from heaven, and in a crystal I can show thee Death. What do you lack? What do you lack? Tell me thy desire, and I will give it thee, and thou shall pay me a price, pretty boy, thou shall pay me a price.’

‘My desire is but for a little thing,’ said the young Fisherman, ‘yet has the Priest been wroth with me, and driven me forth. It is but for a little thing, and the merchants have mocked at me, and denied me. Therefore am I come to thee, though men call thee evil, and whatever be thy price I shall pay it.’

‘What would thou?’ asked the Witch, coming near to him.

‘I would send my soul away from me,’ answered the young Fisherman.

The Witch grew pale, and shuddered, and hid her face in her blue mantle. ‘Pretty boy, pretty boy,’ she muttered, ‘that is a terrible thing to do.’

He tossed his brown curls and laughed. ‘My soul is nought to me,’ he answered. ‘I cannot see it. I may not touch it. I do not know it.’

‘What will thou give me if I tell thee?’ asked the Witch, looking down at him with her beautiful eyes.

‘Five pieces of gold,’ he said, ‘and my nets, and the wattled house where I live, and the painted boat in which I sail. Only tell me how to get rid of my soul, and I will give thee all that I possess.’

She laughed mockingly at him, and struck him with the spray of hemlock. ‘I can turn the autumn leaves into gold,’ she answered, ‘and I can weave the pale moonbeams into silver if I will it. He whom I serve is richer than all the kings of this world, and has their dominions.’

‘What then shall I give thee,’ he cried, ‘if thy price be neither gold nor silver?’

The Witch stroked his hair with her thin white hand. ‘Thou must dance with me, pretty boy,’ she murmured, and she smiled at him as she spoke.

Nought but that?’ cried the young Fisherman in wonder and he rose to his feet.

Nought but that,’ she answered, and she smiled at him again.

‘Then at sunset in some secret place we shall dance together,’ he said, ‘and after that we have danced thou shall tell me the thing which I desire to know.’

She shook her head. ‘When the moon is full, when the moon is full,’ she muttered. Then she peered all round, and listened. A blue bird rose screaming from its nest and circled over the dunes, and three spotted birds rustled through the coarse grey grass and whistled to each other. There was no other sound save the sound of a wave fretting the smooth pebbles below. So she reached out her hand, and drew him near to her and put her dry lips close to his ear.

‘Tonight thou must come to the top of the mountain,’ she whispered. ‘It is a Sabbath, and He will be there.’

The young Fisherman started and looked at her, and she showed her white teeth and laughed. ‘Who is He of whom thou speak?’ he asked.

‘It matters not,’ she answered. ‘Go thou tonight, and stand under the branches of the hornbeam, and wait for my coming. If a black dog run towards thee, strike it with a rod of willow, and it will go away. If an owl speak to thee, make it no answer. When the moon is full I shall be with thee, and we will dance together on the grass.’

‘But will thou swear to me to tell me how I may send my soul from me?’ he made question.

She moved out into the sunlight, and through her red hair rippled the wind. ‘By the hoofs of the goat I swear it,’ she made answer.

Thou are the best of the witches,’ cried the young Fisherman, ‘and I will surely dance with thee tonight on the top of the mountain. I would indeed that thou had asked of me either gold or silver. But such as thy price is thou shall have it, for it is but a little thing.’ And he doffed his cap to her, and bent his head low, and ran back to the town filled with a great joy.

And the Witch watched him as he went, and when he had passed from her sight she entered her cave, and having taken a mirror from a box of carved cedarwood, she set it up on a frame, and burned vervain on lighted charcoal before it, and peered through the coils of the smoke. And after a time she clenched her hands in anger. ‘He should have been mine,’ she muttered, ‘I am as fair as she is.’

The End of Part 4

Читать продолжение истории Оскара Уайльда «Рыбак и его душа» на странице 5

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