The Chimes

A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In

Die Silvesterglocken

Eine Gespenstergeschichte mit mehreren Glocken, die ein altes Jahr aus- und ein neues einläuten

Übersetzt von Margit Meyer, Lizenz der Aufbau Verlagsgruppe
Synchronisation und Ergänzungen © Doppeltext 2012








There are not many people — and as it is de­sir­able
that a story-tell­er and a story-read­er should es­tab­lish a mu­tu­al un­der­stand­ing as soon as pos­sible, I beg it to be no­ticed
that I con­fine this ob­ser­va­tion neither to young people nor to little people, but ex­tend it to all con­di­tions of people:
little and big, young and old: yet grow­ing up, or already grow­ing down again — there are not, I say, many people who would care to sleep in a church.
I don’t mean at ser­mon-time in warm weath­er (when the thing has ac­tu­ally been done, once or twice), but in the night, and alone.
A great mul­ti­tude of per­sons will be vi­ol­ently as­ton­ished, I know, by this po­s­i­tion, in the broad bold Day. But it ap­plies to Night.
It must be ar­gued by night, and I will un­der­take to main­tain it suc­cess­fully on any gusty winter’s night ap­poin­ted for the pur­pose, with any one op­pon­ent chosen from the rest,
who will meet me singly in an old church­yard, be­fore an old church-door; and will pre­vi­ously em­power me to lock him in, if need­ful to his sat­is­fac­tion, un­til morn­ing.
For the night-wind has a dis­mal trick of wan­der­ing round and round a build­ing of that sort, and moan­ing as it goes;
and of try­ing, with its un­seen hand, the win­dows and the doors; and seek­ing out some crevices by which to enter.
And when it has got in; as one not find­ing what it seeks, whatever that may be, it wails and howls to is­sue forth again:
and not con­tent with stalk­ing through the aisles, and glid­ing round and round the pil­lars,
and tempt­ing the deep or­gan, soars up to the roof, and strives to rend the rafters:
then flings it­self des­pair­ingly upon the stones be­low, and passes, mut­ter­ing, into the vaults.
Anon, it comes up stealth­ily, and creeps along the walls, seem­ing to read, in whis­pers, the In­scrip­tions sac­red to the Dead.
At some of these, it breaks out shrilly, as with laughter; and at oth­ers, moans and cries as if it were lament­ing.
It has a ghostly sound too, linger­ing with­in the al­tar;
where it seems to chaunt, in its wild way, of Wrong and Murder done, and false Gods wor­shipped,
in de­fi­ance of the Tables of the Law, which look so fair and smooth, but are so flawed and broken.
Ugh! Heav­en pre­serve us, sit­ting snugly round the fire! It has an aw­ful voice, that wind at Mid­night, singing in a church!
But, high up in the steeple! There the foul blast roars and whistles!
High up in the steeple, where it is free to come and go through many an airy arch and loop­hole,
and to twist and twine it­self about the giddy stair, and twirl the groan­ing weath­er­cock, and make the very tower shake and shiver!
High up in the steeple, where the bel­fry is, and iron rails are ragged with rust,
and sheets of lead and cop­per, shriv­elled by the chan­ging weath­er, crackle and heave be­neath the un­ac­cus­tomed tread;
and birds stuff shabby nests into corners of old oaken joists and beams; and dust grows old and grey;
and speckled spiders, in­dol­ent and fat with long se­cur­ity,
swing idly to and fro in the vi­bra­tion of the bells, and nev­er loose their hold upon their thread-spun castles in the air,
or climb up sail­or-like in quick alarm, or drop upon the ground and ply a score of nimble legs to save one life!
High up in the steeple of an old church, far above the light and mur­mur of the town and far be­low the fly­ing clouds that shad­ow it,
is the wild and dreary place at night: and high up in the steeple of an old church, dwelt the Chimes I tell of.
They were old Chimes, trust me. Cen­tur­ies ago, these Bells had been bap­tized by bish­ops:
so many cen­tur­ies ago, that the re­gister of their bap­tism was lost long, long be­fore the memory of man, and no one knew their names.
They had had their God­fath­ers and God­moth­ers, these Bells
(for my own part, by the way, I would rather in­cur the re­spons­ib­il­ity of be­ing God­fath­er to a Bell than a Boy), and had their sil­ver mugs no doubt, be­sides.
But Time had mowed down their spon­sors, and Henry the Eighth had melted down their mugs;
and they now hung, name­less and mug­less, in the church-tower.
Not speech­less, though. Far from it. They had clear, loud, lusty, sound­ing voices, had these Bells; and far and wide they might be heard upon the wind.
Much too sturdy Chimes were they, to be de­pend­ent on the pleas­ure of the wind, moreover;
for, fight­ing gal­lantly against it when it took an ad­verse whim, they would pour their cheer­ful notes into a listen­ing ear right roy­ally;
and bent on be­ing heard on stormy nights, by some poor moth­er watch­ing a sick child,
or some lone wife whose hus­band was at sea, they had been some­times known to beat a blus­ter­ing Nor’ West­er;
aye, “all to fits,” as Toby Veck said; — for though they chose to call him Trotty Veck, his name was Toby,
and nobody could make it any­thing else either (ex­cept To­bi­as) without a spe­cial act of par­lia­ment;
he hav­ing been as law­fully christened in his day as the Bells had been in theirs,
though with not quite so much of solem­nity or pub­lic re­joicing.
For my part, I con­fess my­self of Toby Veck’s be­lief, for I am sure he had op­por­tun­it­ies enough of form­ing a cor­rect one. And whatever Toby Veck said, I say.
And I take my stand by Toby Veck, al­though he did stand all day long (and weary work it was) just out­side the church-door.
In fact he was a tick­et-port­er, Toby Veck, and waited there for jobs.

Charles Dickens
The Chimes / Die Silvesterglocken
Zweisprachige Ausgabe
Übersetzt von Margit Meyer

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Die Übersetzung erschien erstmals 1979 in Alle Weihnachtserzählungen im Verlag Rütten & Loening, Berlin. Rütten & Loening ist eine Marke der Aufbau Verlag GmbH & Co. KG.
Übersetzung © Aufbau Verlag GmbH & Co. KG

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