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THERE were two cocks- one on the dung-hill, the other on the roof. They were both arrogant, but which of the two rendered most service? Tell us your opinion- we'll keep to ours just the same though.

The poultry yard was divided by some planks from another yard in which there was a dung-hill, and on the dung-hill lay and grew a large cucumber which was conscious of being a hot-bed plant

"One is born to that," said the cucumber to itself. "Not all can be born cucumbers; there must be other things, too. The hens, the ducks, and all the animals in the next yard are creatures too. Now I have a great opinion of the yard cock on the plank; he is certainly of much more importance than the weather-cock who is placed so high and can't even creak, much less crow. The latter has neither hens nor chicks, and only thinks of himself and perspires verdigris. No, the yard cock is really a cock! His step is a dance! His crowing is music, and wherever he goes one knows what a trumpeter is like! If he would only come in here! Even if he ate me up stump, stalk, and all, and I had to dissolve in his body, it would be a happy death," said the cucumber

In the night there was a terrible storm. The hens, chicks, and even the cock sought shelter; the wind tore down the planks between the two yards with a crash; the tiles came tumbling down, but the weather-cock sat firm. He did not even turn round, for he could not; and yet he was young and freshly cast, but prudent and sedate. He had been born old, and did not at all resemble the birds flying in the air- the sparrows, and the swallows; no, he despised them, these mean little piping birds, these common whistlers. He admitted that the pigeons, large and white and shining like mother-o'-pearl, looked like a kind of weather-cock; but they were fat and stupid, and all their thoughts and endeavors were directed to filling themselves with food, and besides, they were tiresome things to converse with. The birds of passage had also paid the weather-cock a visit and told him of foreign countries, of airy caravans and robber stories that made one's hair stand on end. All this was new and interesting; that is, for the first time, but afterwards, as the weather-cock found out, they repeated themselves and always told the same stories, and that's very tedious, and there was no one with whom one could associate, for one and all were stale and small-minded

"The world is no good!" he said. "Everything in it is so stupid."

The weather-cock was puffed up, and that quality would have made him interesting in the eyes of the cucumber if it had known it, but it had eyes only for the yard cock, who was now in the yard with it

The wind had blown the planks, but the storm was over

"What do you think of that crowing?" said the yard cock to the hens and chickens. "It was a little rough- it wanted elegance."

And the hens and chickens came up on the dung-hill, and the cock strutted about like a lord

"Garden plant!" he said to the cucumber, and in that one word his deep learning showed itself, and it forgot that he was pecking at her and eating it up. "A happy death!"

The hens and the chickens came, for where one runs the others run too; they clucked, and chirped, and looked at the cock, and were proud that he was of their kind

"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" he crowed, "the chickens will grow up into great hens at once, if I cry it out in the poultry-yard of the world!"

And hens and chicks clucked and chirped, and the cock announced a great piece of news

"A cock can lay an egg! And do you know what's in that egg? A basilisk. No one can stand the sight of such a thing; people know that, and now you know it too- you know what is in me, and what a champion of all cocks I am!"

With that the yard cock flapped his wings, made his comb swell up, and crowed again; and they all shuddered, the hens and the little chicks- but they were very proud that one of their number was such a champion of all cocks. They clucked and chirped till the weather-cock heard; he heard it; but he did not stir

"Everything is very stupid," the weather-cock said to himself. "The yard cock lays no eggs, and I am too lazy to do so; if I liked, I could lay a wind-egg. But the world is not worth even a wind-egg. Everything is so stupid! I don't want to sit here any longer."

With that the weather-cock broke off; but he did not kill the yard cock, although the hens said that had been his intention. And what is the moral? "Better to crow than to be puffed up and break off!

 

两只公鸡

从前有两只公鸡——只在粪堆上,另一只在屋顶上。他们都是骄傲得不可一世。不过他们之中谁表现得最突出呢?请把你的意见讲出来吧……但是我们要保留我们的意见。养鸡场是用一个木栅栏和另外一个场子隔开的。那另外一个场子里有一个粪堆,上面长着一个大黄瓜。黄瓜充分了解,它是生长在温床里的一种植物。

“这是生来如此,”黄瓜自己心里想。“世上一切东西不会生下来就都是黄瓜;应该还有别种不同的东西才对!鸡啦,鸭啦,以及旁边那个场子里的牛,也都是生物。我现在就看见栅栏上有一只公鸡。比起那只高高在上的风信鸡来,他当然具有更大的重要性。那只风信鸡连叫都不会,更说不上啼!而且它既然没有母鸡,当然也就没有小鸡;它只是老想着自己,冒出一身铜绿!嗨,这只养鸡场上的公鸡,才算得上是一只公鸡哩!瞧他走路的那副样子,简直是跳舞!听他啼叫的那种声音,简直是音乐!他每到一个地方,人们就好像听到了喇叭似的!假如他到这儿来,把我连梗子和叶子一口吃掉,把我藏在他的身体里,那也算是一种很幸福的死吧!”黄瓜说。

晚间天气变得非常坏。母鸡、小鸡和公鸡都忙着找藏身的地方。这两个场子之间的栅栏被狂风吹垮了,发出很大的声响。瓦向下面飞,但是那只风信鸡仍然坐得稳如泰山。它连头也不掉一下,因为它的头掉不过来。它很年轻,是新近铸出来的,但是它却也很清醒和沉着。它是“生而老成持重的”,与天空中的翩翩飞鸟,如麻雀和燕子之类的东西,是截然不同的。它瞧不起这些东西,这些“身材渺小、叽叽喳喳、平平凡凡的鸟儿”。鸽子是身材高大,光彩夺目,颇像珍珠母,同时样子也像某种风信鸡,不过他们却是又胖又呆,而他们心中所想的唯一事情是怎样装点东西到肚皮里面去。“此外,跟他们打交道是再讨厌不过的了,”风信鸡说。

许多路过的鸟儿来拜访这只风信鸡,告诉它一些关于外国、空中旅行队、惊心动魄的拦路抢劫的故事,以及与猛禽遭遇的故事。这类事儿在头一次听来是新鲜有趣的,但是风信鸡后来知道,他们老是重复,老是讲着同样的事情。这是很单调的!他们是很单调的,一切都是单调的,谁都不值得来往,每个人都是呆板乏味。

“这个世界真是一文不值,”它说。“一切都是无聊之至!”

风信鸡变得所谓“烦”起来了。这种情况在黄瓜看来——如果它知道的话——是非常有趣的。不过它只知道景仰养鸡场的这只公鸡,而不知他已经走进它的场子里,到它的身边来了。

栅栏已经垮了,但闪电和雷声却是过去了。

“你们对于那阵叫声有什么感想?”公鸡问他的母鸡和小鸡。“那调子比较粗——缺乏艺术性。”

母鸡和小鸡都飞到那个粪堆上去。公鸡也走来,像一个骑士。

“你这菜园的植物啊!”他对黄瓜说这话的时候,它体会到了他很有文化修养,却没有想到他正在啄它,把它吃掉。

“幸福的死!”

接着母鸡来了,小鸡也来了。只要他们之中有一个开始跑,别的也就都跑起来。他们咯咯地叫着,唱着,朝这公鸡望。他们因为他而感到骄傲,觉得他是他们的族人。

“幄——幄——幄——幄!”他啼起来。“只要我在世界的养鸡场上叫一声,小鸡马上就长成大鸡。”

于是母鸡和小鸡就跟着他咯咯地叫和唱。

这时公鸡就告诉他们一个重大消息:

“一只公鸡能够生蛋!你们知道这蛋里面有什么吗?在这蛋里面有一个蛇怪①。谁见到都会受不了的。人类都知道这件事。现在你们也知道了——知道了我身体里有什么东西,我是一只怎样杰出的公鸡!”

讲完以后,这只公鸡就拍拍翅膀,把鸡冠竖起来,又啼了一声。大家都震动了一下——包括所有的母鸡和小鸡。不过他们同时又感到万分骄傲,觉得他们族人之中居然有这么一个杰出的人物。他们都咯咯地叫着、唱着,好叫那个风信鸡听到。它当然听到了,但是它一点也不动。

“这真是无聊之至!”风信鸡心里说。“养鸡场里的公鸡是从来不生蛋的,而我自己呢,我懒得生蛋。如果我高兴的话,我可以生风蛋!但是这个世界不配有一个风蛋!一切真是无聊之至!现在我连坐在这儿也不愿意了。”

因此风信鸡就倒下来了。但是它并没有压死养鸡场上的那只公鸡,“虽然它有这个意图!”母鸡们说。这故事的教训是什么呢?

“与其变得烦而倒下来,倒不如啼几声为好。”

①这是指神话中的蛇(Basilisk),是由蛇从公鸡的蛋中孵出来的。它的呼吸和视线可以伤人。