Water Man and the Boy

Povodni mož in dečekMany tales of the Water Man are about his loneliness and goodwill towards humans. He sometimes saves or kidnaps young maidens or children, is kind to them and offers them a wonderful life with great treasures to entice them into staying with him.


River Man and the Boy

There once lived a boy who liked swimming. Even in torrential rain and when flood waters rose, he could not stay at home. He went to the river, although his father and mother tried to stop him.
When he came to the river, he took off his clothes and jumped in. But the water was too vast. It carried him away. The boy tried to hold on, he waved and flapped every which way. He screamed and wept at the top of his voice, till the River man himself at the bottom of the river heard him. And as well that he heard him, as the boy had at that instant taken in water, mouth and nose, and lost himself as in a dream.
When the Water Man came rushing to him, he found him sleeping. Only the waves were carrying him onwards. The Water Man did not, however allow for anybody to enter his kingdom living, that is why he drowned anybody who fell into the river. He liked this tiny boy. He would be sorry, if he had drowned, that is why he was determined to save him. He had felt alone in his vast kingdom, and he welcomed the thought of this beautiful boy keeping him company.
He carried him in his arms to his marvelous castle in the bottom of the river. No living human had yet stepped over the threshold of this castle. This was the first time. He lay the boy down into the bed, which was made of glass and stood in the middle of the glass room. Then he silently went out and waited hidden, till the boy awakened.
The boy woke up. He looked around and realized, that he was sleeping on a glass bed in a room made of glass. Next to the bed stood a little table, on the table toys and more toys – all of crystal glass. The boy was overcome by the beauty and glitter, he reached for the glass toys and played with them. In that instant he remembered his home and began to cry.
The WaTer Man hastened in and asked him:
“Who are you crying for, my tiny boy?”
“My home”, answered the boy and wept inconsolably.
The Water Man asked him:
“Is your home more beautiful than all the wealth, before you?”
“More beautiful”, replied the boy and wept even more bitterly.
Water Man saw, that it was useless to say more, so he left. When the boy cried till he could not cry any more, he fell asleep. Then the Water man tiptoed in, and carried him to another room. When the boy woke up, he looked around and saw, that he was lying on a bed, made of silver, standing in a room with silver walls, ceiling and floor. Next to the bed, stood a little table, on it toys – all made of bright silver. Overcome the boy looked at this wealth, then he reached out for the toys and played with them. At that instant the play became boring. He remembered his little brother and little sister, with whom he had played at home, and he began to cry bitterly.
The Water Man hastened in and asked him:
“Who are you crying for, my little boy?”
“My little brother and little sister,” replied the boy and wept even more bitterly. Since he would not be consoled, the Water Man left. Then the boy fell asleep. Again came the Water Man and on tiptoes carried the boy into the third room.
When the boy awakened, he realized, that the Water Man brought him into a bed of pure gold, that stood in the middle of the room made of pure gold. Everything that was in it was made of the purest gold: table, chairs, and toys. The boy had heard much about marvelous gold treasures, but never could he have imagined such glitter, which was blinding him. Spellbound he reached for the toys and played with them. But not for long. He remembered his father an his mother and again began to cry bitterly.
The Water Man hastened in and asked him:
“Who are you crying for, my little boy?”
“My father and my mother,” and cried loudly and more loudly.
“Are your father and mother dearer to you than pure gold?” wondered the Water Man who knew neither father or mother, and neither brothers or sisters.
“Dearer”, said the boy.
The Water Man went and gathered all the pearls which were hidden in the depths of his water kingdom. He strew them before the boy, till the heap reached almost to the ceiling and asked:
“Are your father and mother also dearer to you than these pearls?”
The boy had to close his eyes, so that all the brightness would not blind him. It glittered and shone, like fire all around.
He said to the Water man:
“All your striving, to find a price for my father and mother is for nought. Dearer are they to me than gold and pearls, dearer than all the world.”
The Water Man realized, that he would not be able to console the boy with anything. He waited till he fell asleep, then he carried him carefully in his arms from the water and laid him sleeping on the riverbank. Here awaited him his poor clothes, which he had taken off before going into the water. The Water Man looked for all the pockets and filled them with gold and pearls.
The boy woke up and realized that he was lying on the riverbank. He got up and put his clothes on. In truth, he did not know, whether all that he remembered about the Water Man and his kingdom was a dream or something that really happened. However, when he reached into his pockets and with his fingers touched gold and pearls, he realized, that it had been no dream bur the bare truth. He ran home to his father and mother, his little brother and little sister. He found all weeping, because they thought he had drowned.
There was no end to the joy. Because they had no lack of gold and pearls, the poverty fled from them and good fortune came to live with them. They built a beautiful new house and happily lived in it. The boy still went swimming, but only when there was no flood water; even then only in the shallows, where the Water Man did not tend to go.
Water Man returned to his water kingdom, much saddened. He had thought that he kept in his castle the greatest treasures of the world. Now he realized, that humans know greater treasures, they had father, mother, brothers and sisters, all of whom the Water Man did not have. This saddened him so much, that he wept continuously for three days, so that the river banks shook and the waters rushed with great noise as in a flood. Then he went on his way to search out all the hidden corners of his kingdom, in case he found treasures, that he had not yet discovered.

Povodni mož in deček
Živel je deček, ki se je rad kopal. Tudi ko je nekega dne zaradi nalivja in povodnji voda narasla, ni strpel doma. Šel je k vodi, čeravno sta mu oče in mati branila.
Ko je prišel do vode,se je slekel in skočil vanjo. Toda voda je bila prevelika. Odnesla ga je. Deček je grabil z rokami, mahal in krilil na vse strani. Kričal in jokal je na ves glas, da ga je začul sam povodni mož na dnu vode. In dobro, da ga je čul, ker že tisti hip je deček zajel vodo v nos in usta ter se izgubil kakor v snu.
Ko je prihitel povodni mož, ga je našel že spečega. Le še valovi so ga nesli dalje. Povodni mož sicer ni trpel, da bi ga prišel kdo živ v njegovo kraljestvo, zato je vsakogar, ki je padel v vodo, utopil. Ta drobni deček pa mu je bil neznansko všeč. Žal bi mu bilo, če bi utonil, zato je sklenil, da ga reši. Saj se je tudi počutil osamljenega v svojem prostranem kraljetstvu, zato se je razveselil tega lepega dečka, ki mu bo delal druščino.
Odnesel ga je v naročju v svoj prekrasni grad na dnu vode. Živ človek še ni prestopil praga tega gradu.. Sedaj se je to prvikrat zgodilo. Položil je dečka v posteljo, ki je bila vsa iz stekla in je stala sredi steklene sobe. Nato je tiho odšel in čakal skrit, da se deček zbudi.
Deček se je prebudil. Pogledal je okrog sebe in spoznal, da leži v stekleni postelji sredi steklene sobe. Ob postelji je stala mizica, na mizici igračka pri igrački – vse iz kristalnega stekla. Dečka sta prevzela lepota in blesk, segel je po steklenih igračkah in se igral. Tisti hip se je domislil doma in zajokal.
Prihitel je povodni mož in ga vprašal:
“Po kom jočeš, drobni moj deček?”
“Po domu”, je odgovoril deček in jokal neutolažno.
Povodni mož ga je vprašal:
“Ali je dom lepši od tega bogastva, ko je pred teboj?”
“Lepši”, je odgovoril deček in jokal še huje.
Povodni mož je videl, da je vsaka beseda odveč, zato je odšel. Ko se je deček izjokal, je zaspal. Tedaj je prišel povodni mož po prstih in ga odnesel v drugo sobo. Ko se je deček prebudil, je pogledal okrog sebe in spoznal, da leži v postelji, ki je vsa iz srebra in stoji sredi sobe s srebrnimi stenami, stropom in podom. Ob postelji je stala mizica, na njej igrače – vse iz svetlega srebra. Zavzet je gledal deček to bogastvo, nato je segel z roko po igračah in se igral. Že tisti hip pa mu je postala igra dolgočasna. Spomnil se je bratca in sestrice, s katerima se je igral doma, in hudo zajokal.
Prihitel je povodni mož in ga vprašal:
“Po kom jočeš, drobni moj deček?”
“Po bratcu in sestrici”, je odgovoril deček in jokal še huje. Ker se ni dal utolažiti, je povodni mož odšel. Deček je nato zaspal. Takrat je prišel zopet Povodni mož po prstih in ga odnesel v tretjo sobo.
Ko se je deček prebudil, je spoznal, da ga je bil povodni mož prinesel v posteljico iz suhega zlata, ki je stala sredi sobe, tudi zidane iz samega zlata. Vse kar je bilo v njej, je bilo iz najčistejšega zlata: mizica, stoli in igračke. Deček je slišal že mnogo o čarobnih zlatih zakladih, nikdar pa si ni mogel predstavljati tolikega bleska, ki ga je sedaj slepil v oči. Očaran je segel po zlatih igračkah in se igral. A ne dolgo. Spomnil se je očeta in matere ter zopet glasno zajokal.
Prihitel je povodni mož in ga vprašal:
“Po kom jočeš, drobni moj deček?”
“Po očetu in materi”, mu je odgovoril deček in jokal glasno, preglasno.
“Ali sta oče in mati dražja kot čisto zlato?” se je čudil povodni mož, ki ni poznal niti očeta in matere, pa tudi ne bratov in sester.
“Dražja”, je rekel deček.
Povodni mož je šel in nabral vse bisere, ki so jih skrivale globočine njegovega vodnega kraljestva. Usul jih je pred dečka, da je segel kup do stropa, in vprašal:
“Ali sta ti oče in mati dražja tudi od teh biserov?”
Deček je moral zatisniti oči, da ga toliki sijaj ni oslepil. Iskrilo in svetilo se je , kakor da bi vse naokrog gorelo. Odgovoril je povodnemu možu:
“Zaman si prizadevaš, da bi našel ceno mojemu očetu in materi. Dražja sta mi od zlata in biserov, dražja ko ves svet”.
Povodni mož je spoznal, da ne bo mogel dečka z ničemer utolažiti. Čakal je, da je zaspal, nato ga je odnesel previdno v naročju iz vode in ga položil spečega na breg. Tu ga je še čakala njegova revna obleka, ki jo je bil slekel, preden je šel v vodo. Povodni mož je poiskal žepe na njej, jih napolnil s samim suhim zlatom in z biseri.
Deček se je prebudil iz sna in spoznal, da leži na bregu ob vodi. Vstal je in se oblekel. V resnici ni vedel, ali se mu je vse to, česar se je spominjal o povodnem možu in njegovem kraljestvu, samo sanjalo ali je resnično doživel. Ko pa je segel v v žepe ter otipal zlato in bisere, je spoznal, da se mu ni sanjalo, marveč da je vse gola resnica. Stekel je domov k očetu in materi, bratcu in sestrici. Našel jih je vse jokajoče, ker so vsi mislili, da je utonil.
Veselja ni bilo zato ne konca ne kraja. Ker jim ni manjkalo zlata in biserov, je odslej tudi revščina pobegnila od njih in se je mednje naselila sreča. Postavili so si lepo novo hišo in srečno živeli v njej. Deček se je še hodil kopat, toda samo takrat, ko ni bilo naliva. Še takrat le v plitvino, kamor povodni mož ni zahajal.
Povodni mož se je vrnil v svoje vodno kraljestvo in bil sila žalosten. Mislil je, da hrani v svojem gradu najdražje zaklade sveta. Sedaj pa je spoznal, da poznajo ljudje še večje dragocenosti, imajo očeta, mater, brate in sestre, katerih povodni mož ni imel. To ga je tako razžalostilo, da je jokal tri dni neprenehoma, da so se stresali bregovi in so vode glasno šumele, kakor ob povodnji. Nato se je napotil, da preišče vse skrite kotičke svojega kraljestva, če se morda ne skrivajo v njih dragocenosti, katerih dotedaj ni našel.


Alojzij Bolhar, Slovenske narodne pravljice (MK, reprint from 1955)

Translated into English by Aleksandra Ceferin

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Aleksandra Ceferin
Aleksandra Ceferin

Aleksandra Ceferin (M.A., B.A., Dip.Ed.) has introduced Slovenian language as a school subject in Australian school system and founded the Slovenian Teachers’ Association of Victoria in 1976. She has extensive experience in language education: as teacher, lecturer, curriculum coordinator, course writer, language consultant and manager, VCE State Reviewer and Chief Examiner. Since 1998 she has been the President of ISSV and the manager and chief editor of its projects. Aleksandra visits Slovenian annually, establishing and maintaining contacts with Slovenia, and initiating exchanges and cooperation between organizations. In 2004 she was the recipient of the National Education Award of RS Slovenia.