The Old House ブログトップ

The Old House (1) [The Old House]

The Old House (1)

Once upon a time there stood in a street a very old house; it was nearly three hundred years.

You could tell what year it had been built by reading the date cut into one of the beams; all around it tulips and curling hop vines had been carved.

Right above the entrance a whole verse had been inscribed, and above each window appeared a grinning face.

The second storey protruded over first.

The lead gutters, which hung under the roof, were shaped like a dragons, with the monster's head at either end.

The water was supposed to spout out of their mouths, but it didn't ; the gutter was filled with holes and the water ran out of the dragons' stomachs.

All the other houses in the street were new and well kept, their walls were straight and smooth, and they had large windows.

It was quite rasonable that they should feel themselves superior to the old house.


The Old House (2) [The Old House]

The Old House (2)

Had they been able to speak they probably would have said,
" How long are we to tolerate that old ruin ? Bow windows are out of fashion and, besides,  they obstruct our view.
It must believe itself to be a castle,  judging from the size of the steps leading up to the entrance, and that iron railing makes one think of funerals ; not to speak of the brass knobs.
It's embarrassing ! "

Right across  from the old house stood a new house; it was of the same opinion as all the other houses in the street.

But behind one of its windows sat a little boy, a little red-cheeked child with bright, shining eyes who preferred the old house, and that both in the daytime when the sun shone and at night in the moonlight.

When he looked at the walls of the old house, with its cracks and bare spots where the mortar had fallen off.

Then he could imagine how the street once had looked: in olden times, when all the houses had had broad steps leading up to their doors, and bay windows, and gables with tall pointed roofs.

He could see the soldiers marching through the streets armed with halberds.

Oh, he found the old house worth looking at and dreaming about.


The Old House (3) [The Old House]

The Old House (3)

Its owner was an old man who wore the strangest old-fashioned breeches, a coat with brass buttons, and a wig that you could see was a wig.

Every morning an old servant  arrived to clean and run errands for the old gentleman: otherwise,he was all alone.

Sometimes he came to the window and looked out ino the street; then the little boy nodded to him andold man nodded back.

In this manner they became acquainted; no, more than that, they were friends, although they had never spoken to each other.

he little boy heard his parents say, " Our neighbour, cross the street, must be terribly lonely. "

Next sunday the boy made a little package and , when he saw the servant going by in the street, he hurried down and gave it to him.

" Would you please give this to your master ? " he asked.
" I have two tin soldiers, and I would like your master to have one of them, for I have heard that he is so terribly lonely. "


The Old House (4) [The Old House]

The Old House (4)

The old servant smiled and nodded and took the little package, with the tin soldier inside it, to his master.

Later that day a message arrived, inviting the boy to come and visit the old man.

The child's parents gave their permission; and thus he finally entered the old house.

The brass knobs on the iron railing seemed to shaine so brightly that one might believe that they had been newly polished in honour of the boy's visit.

The little carved trumpeters in the oak doorway seemed to be blowing especially hard on their instruments, for their cheeks were all puffed up.

It was a fanfare !
" Tra... tra.. trattalala ! The boy is coming !  Tra,,, tra... trattalala ! "

The door was opened and he stood in the hall.

All the walls were covered with paintings portraying ladies in long silk gowns and knights in armour.

The boy thought that he could hear the silk gowns rustle and the armour clang.

Then there were the stairs; first they went up a goodish way, and then down a little bit, and ended in a balcony.

It was wooden and a bit rickety, grass and weeds grew out of every crack, making it look more like a garden than a balcony.


The Old House (5) [The Old House]

The Old House (5)

Antique flowerpots with human face and donkey ears stood ranged in a row; the plants grew to suit themselves.

One of them was filled with carnations that spread out over the rim in all directions ; that is, the green leaves and the stems, the flowers hadn't come yet.

One could almost hear the plant saying: " The breeze has caressed me and the sun has kissed me and promised me  a flower next Sunday, a little flower next Sunday. "

The old servant led the boy into a chamber where the walls did not have paper on them; no, they were covered with leather, which had gilded flowers stamped upon it.

  " Gilding fades all too fast. Leather, this is meant to last. "
said the walls.

In the room were high-backed armchairs with carvings all over them,
" Sit down, sit down ! " they cried.

And when you sat down in them they mumbled.
" Agh, how it cracks inside me. I think I've got rheumtism like the old cabinet.  Ugh, how it creaks and cracks. "

At last the little boy entered the room with the bow windows.

Here the old master of house greeted him.
" Thank you for the tin soldier, my little friend, " said he.
" And thank you for coming. "


The Old House (6) [The Old House]

The Old House (6)

" Thanks, thanks, " said all the furniture, although it sounded a little more like: " Crack ... Crack "

There were so many chairs, tables, and cabinets in the room that they stood in each other's way, for they all wanted to see the little boy at once.

In the center of one of the walls hung a picture of a beautiful young girl.

She was laughing and dressed in clothes from a bygone time.

She did not say " thank you " or " crack " as the furniture had , but she looked down so kindly at the little boy that he could not help asking, " Where did you get her ? "

" From the pawnbroker's , " replied the old gentleman.
" His shop is filled with pictures that no one cares about any more. The people they portray have been dead so long that no one remember them.

But though she has been dead and gone for fifty years , I knew her once. "

Under the portrait hung a bouquet of faded flowers, carefully preserved behind glass.
They looked old enough to have been picked half a century ago.


The Old House (7) [The Old House]

The Old House (7)

The pendulum of the garandfather clock swung back and forth, and the hands moved slowly around, telling everything in the room that time was passing and that they were getting older; but that did not disturb the furniture.

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" My parents say that you are terribly lonely, " said the little boy.

" Oh, the old man smiled, " that is not altogether true. Old thought, old freams, old memories come and visit me and now you are here. I am not unhappy. "

Then from a shelf he took down a book that was filled with wonderful pictures.

There were processions in which there were golden carriages, knights, and kings who looked like the ones in a deck of cards ; and then came the citizens carrying the banner of their trades : the tailor's emblem was a pair scissors held by  a lion; the shemakers had an eagle with two heads above their bannerーfor as you know, shoemakers do everything in pairs.
What a picture book that was.


The Old House (8) [The Old House]

The Old House (8)

The old man left for a moment to fetch some comfits, apples, and nuts; it was certainly nice to be visiting the old house.

"But I can't stand it here ! " wailed the tin soldie, who was standing on the lid of a chest.
" It is so lonely and sad here ; once you have lived with a family you cannot get accustomed to being alone. I can't stand it !
The days are so long and the evenings feel even longer.
It is not the same here as in your home, where your parents talked so pleasantly and you sweet children made such a lot of lovely noise.
No, that poor old man really is lonely.
Do you think anybody ever gives him a kiss ? Or looks kindly at him ? Here there is no Christmas tree ever, or gifts !
The only thing he will ever get will be a funeral ! . . . I can't stand it ! "

" You mustn't take it so to heart, " said the little boy.
" I think it is very nice here. All the old thoughts and dreams come to visit him, so he said. "

" I see none of them and I don't want to either, " screamed the tin soldier.
" I can't stand it ! "


The Old House (9) [The Old House]

The Old House (9)

" You will have to, " said the little boy just as the old man returned with the comfits, apples, and nuts ; and at the sight of them the boy forgot all about the soldier.

Happy and content, the little boy returned home.

Days and weeks went by.

The boy nodded to the old man from his window, and from the funny bow window of the old house the greeting was returned.

Finally the little boy was asked to come visiting again.

The carved trumpeters blew, " Tra. . . tra . . . tratralala . . .the boy is here ! . . . Tra tra "

The knight in armour clanged with their swords and the silk gowns of the ladies rustled, the leather on the wall says its little verse, and the old chairs that that had rheumatism creaked.

Nothing had changed, for in the old house every day and hour were exactly alike.

" I can't stand it, " screamed the tin soldier as soon as he saw the boy.


The Old house (10) [The Old House]

The Old house (10)

" I have wept tin tears ! It is much too mournful and sad here. Please, let me go to the wars and lose my arms and legs, that at least will be change. I can't stand it, for I know what it is like to have old thoughts and old memories come visiting.
Mine have been here and that is not amusing.
Why, I almost jumped right off the lid of the chest. I saw all of you and my own home as plainly as if I had been there.

It was Sunday morning and all you children were standing sround the big table singing nymns, as you always do on Sunday.
Your parents were nearby, looking solemn.

Suddenly the door opened and little Maria, who is only two years old, entered.
She always dances whenever she hears music, and she tried to dance to the tune you were singing, but hymns are not made fot dancing they are too slow.
She stood first on one leg and flung her head forward, and then on the other and flung her head foward, but it didn't work out.

You looked grave, all of you, but I found it too difficult not to laughーat least inside myself.
I laughed so hard that I fell off the table and hit my head so hard that I got lump on it.
I know it was wrong of me to laugh and the lump was punishment for it.

That is what the old man meant by old thoughts and memories: everything that has ever happened to you comes back inside you...

Tell me, do you still sing your hymns on Sunday ?
Tell me something about little Maria and about my comrade, the other tin soldier.
He must be happy.

Oh, I can't stand it ! "

" I have given you away, " said the little boy.
" You will have to stay, can't you understand that ? "

少しわかりにくく、長いのですが、最後の前まで、まとめて tin soldier の長セリフですので。

The Old House (11) [The Old House]

The Old House (11)

The old man brought him a drawer in which lay many wonderful things.

There were old playing cards with gilded edges, a little silver piggy bank, and a fish with a wiggly tail.

Other drawers were opened and all the curiosities were looked at and examined.

Finally the old man opened the harpsicord; on the inside of the lid was painting of a landscape.
The instrument was out of tune but the old man played on it anyway, and hummed a melody.

" Ah yes, she used to sing that, " he sighed, and looked up towards the painting hehad bought from the pawnbroker and his eyes shone like a young man's.

" I am going to the wars ! I am going to the wars ! " screamed the tin soldier as loudly as he could, and fell off the chest.


The Old House (12) [The Old House]

The Old House (12)

" What happenedto him ? " said the old man.

Together he and the boy were serching for the little soldier on the floor.

" Never mind. I will find him later, " said the old man, but he never did.

There were so many cracks in the floor and the tin soldier had fallen right down through on of them ; there he lay buried alive.

The day passed and the little boy returned home.

Many weeks webt by, winter had come.
All the window were frozen over,

the little boy had to breathe on the glass until he could thaw a little hole so that he could see out.


The Old House (13) [The Old House]

The Old House (13)

Across the street the old house looked quite deserted ; the snow lay in drifts on the steps.
They had not been swept; one would think no one was at home.

And no one was.
The kind old man had died.

That evening a hearse drew up in front of the old house and a coffin was carried down the steps.

The old man was not to be burried in the town cemetery but somewhere out in the country, where he had been born.

THe hearse drove away.
No one followed it, for all his friends and family had died long ago.

The little boy kissed his fingers and threw a kiss after the hearse as it disappeared down the street.

A few days afterwards an auction was held ; the furniture in the old house was sold.


The Old house (14) [The Old House]

The Old house (14)

The boy watched from the window.

He saw the knights in armour and the ladies with their silken gowns being carried out of the house.

The old high-backed chairs, the funny flowerpots with faces and donkey ears were bought by strangers.

Only the portrait of the lady found no buyer; it was returned to the pawnbroker.

There is hung ; no one remembered her nd no one cared for the old picture.

Next spring the house itself was torn down.
" It was a monstrosity, " said the leather-covered walls; the leather was torn and hung flapping like banners in the wind.

The gras and weeds on the balcony chung tenaciously to the broken beams.

But at last all was cleared away.

" That was good, " said the neighbouring houses.  


The Old House (15) [The Old House]

The Old House (15)

A new house was built, with straight walls and big windows but not quite where the old house had stood ; it was a liitle farther back from the street.

On the site of the old house little garden was plamted, and up the walls of the houses on either side grew vines.

A fine iron fence with a gate enclosed it, and people would stop in the street to look in, for it was most attractive.

The sparrows would sit in the vines and talk and talk as sparrows do, but not about the old house, for they were too young to remember it.

Years went by and the little boy had become a gron man, a good and clever man of whom his parents could be justly proud.


The Old House (16) [The Old House]

The Old House (16)

He had just got married and had moved into the new house.

His young wife was planting a little wild flower in the front garden.

He was watching her with a smile.

Just as she finished, and was patting the earth around the little plant, she pricked her hand.

Something sharp was sticking out of the soft earth.

What could it be ?


The Old House (17) [The Old House]

The Old House (17)

It was ー imagine it ー the tin soldier !

The one that had fallen off the chest and down through a crack in the flooring.

It had survived the wrecking of the old house, falling hither and thither as beams and floors disappeared, until at last it had been buried in the earth and there it had lain for many years.


The Old House (18) [The Old House]

The Old House (18)

The young woman cleared the soldier off with a green leaf and then with her own handkerchief.

It had perfume on it and smelled so delicious that the soldier felt as though he were awakening from a deep sleep.

" Let me have a look at him, " said the young man.

Then he laughed and shook his head.
" I don't believe si can be him, but he reminds me of a tin soldier that I once had, " said the young man. 

Then he told his wife about the old house and its old master and about the tin soldier that he had sent over to keep the old man company, when he had been a boy, because he had known that the old man was terribly alone.


The Old House (19) [The Old House]

The Old House (19)

He told the story so well that his young wife's eyes filled with tears as she heard about the old house and the old man.

" It could be the same soldier, " she said.

" I will keep it so that I shall not forget the story you have told me. But you must show me the old man's grave. "

" I do not know where it is, " her husband replied.
" No one does; all those who knew him were dead.You must remember that I was a very small boy then. "

" How terribly lonely he must have been, " sighed the young woman.


The Old House (20 完) [The Old House]

The Old House (20 完)

" Yes, terribly lonely, " echoed the tin soldier.
" But it is truly good to find that one is not forgotten. "

" Good, " croaked something nearby in so weak voice that only the tin soldier heard it.

It was a little piece of leather from the walls of the old house.

The gilding had gone long ago, and it looked like a little clod of wete earth.

But it still had an opinion, and it expressed it.

  " Gilding fades all too fast,
    But leather, that is meant to last. "

But the tin soldier did not believe that.

(20/20 完)

The Old House ブログトップ