to the courtyard,
Slimak let Maciek take the horses. He looked at the cow, which was tied
to the fence. Despite the falling darkness he could see that she was a
beautiful creature; she was white with black patches, had a small head,
short horns and a large udder. He examined her and admitted that
of his cows were as fine as this one.
of leading her
round the yard, but he suddenly felt as if he could not move another
his arms seemed to be dropping from their joints and his legs were
Until sunset a man can go on harrowing, but after sunset it is no good
trying to do anything more. So he patted the cow instead of leading her
about. She seemed to understand the situation, for she turned her head
towards him and touched his hand with her wet mouth. Slimak was so
with emotion that he very nearly kissed her, as if she were a human
'I must buy
her,' he muttered,
forgetting even his tiredness.
gospodyni stood in the
door with a pail of dishwater for the cattle.
she called, 'when
the cow has had a drink, lead her to the cowshed. The Soltys will stay
the night; the cow can't be left out of doors.'
to be, has to be,'
she replied. 'He wants the thirty-five roubles and the silver rouble
the halter--but,' she continued after a pause, 'truth is truth, she is
worth it. I milked her, and though she had been on the road, she gave
milk than Lysa.'
asked him whether
he won't come down a bit?'
again felt the
weariness in all his limbs. Good God! how many hours of sleep would
to be sacrificed, before he could make another thirty-five roubles!
likely! It's something
that he will sell her to us at all; he keeps on saying he promised her
scratched his head.
Josef, be friendly
and drink vodka with him, then perhaps the Lord Jesus will give him
But keep looking at me, and don't talk too much; you will see, it will
turn out all right.'
the cow to the
shed; she looked about and whisked her tail so heartily that Slimak
not take his eyes off her.
will,' he murmured.
'I'll bargain for her.'
himself at the
door, but his heart was trembling in anticipation of all the
was sitting by
the fire and admonishing Magda in fatherly fashion to be faithful and
to her master and mistress.
order you into the
water--jump into the water; if they order you into the fire--go into
fire; and if the mistress gives you a good hiding, kiss her hand and
her, for I tell you: sacred is the hand that strikes....'
As he said
this the red light
of the fire fell upon him; he had raised his hand and looked like a
fancied that the trembling
shadow on the wall was repeating: 'Sacred is the hand that strikes!'
copiously; she felt
she was listening to a beautiful sermon, but at the same time blue
seemed to be swelling on her back at his words. Yet she listened
fear or regret, only with dim gratitude, mingled with recollections of
opened and Slimak
Grochowski. When he stood up, his head nearly touched the ceiling.
repay you, Soltys,
for coming to us,' said Slimak, shaking his hand.
repay you for your
kindness in receiving me.'
'And say at
you be uncomfortable.'
not half so comfortable
at home, and it's not only to me but also to the cow that you are
that you are
doubly satisfied, because
I see how well you are treating Magda. Magda! fall at your master's
at once, for your father could not treat you better. And you,
don't spare the strap.'
a bad girl,' said
heartily the girl
fell first at her uncle's feet, then at the gospodarz's, and then
into the passage. She hugged herself and still emitted great sobs; but
her eyes were dry. She began calling softly in a mournful voice: 'Pig!
pig! pig!' But the pigs had turned in for the night. Instead Jendrek
Stasiek with the dog Burek emerged from the twilight. Jendrek wanted to
push her over, but she gave him a punch in the eye. The boys seized her
by the arms, Burek followed, and shrieking and barking and inextricably
entwined so that one could not tell which was child and which was dog,
all four melted into the mists that were hanging over the meadows.
the stove, the
two gospodarze were talking.
'How is it
you are getting
rid of the cow?'
it's like this.
That cow is not mine, it belongs to Magda, but my wife says she doesn't
care about looking after somebody else's cow, and the shed is too small
for ours as it is. I don't pay much attention to her usually, but it
that there is a bit of land to be sold adjoining Magda's. Komara, to
it belonged, has drunk himself to death. So I am thinking: I will sell
the cow and buy the girl another acre--land is land.'
true!' sighed Slimak.
there will be new
servituty, the girl will get even more.'
that?' Slimak became
give you twice
as much as you possess; I possess twenty-five acres, so I shall have
How many have you got?'
will have twenty,
and Magda will get another two and a half with her own.'
certain about the
tell? some say it
is, others laugh about it. But I am thinking I will buy this land while
there is the chance, especially as my wife does not wish it.'
is the good of
buying the land if you will shortly get it for nothing?'
is, as it's not
my money I don't care how I spend it. If I were you I shouldn't be in a
hurry to rent from the manor either; there is no harm in waiting. The
man is never in a hurry.'
wise man goes slowly,'
gospodyni appeared at
that moment with Maciek. They went into the alcove, drew two chairs and
the cherrywood table into the middle of it, covered it with a cloth and
placed a petroleum lamp without a chimney on it.
Soltys,' called the
gospodyni,' you will have supper more comfortably in here.'
with a broad smile,
retired awkwardly behind the stove as the two gospodarze went into the
said Grochowski, looking round, 'plenty of holy pictures on the walls,
a painted bed, a wooden floor and flowers in the windows. That must be
your doing, gospodyni?'
said the woman,
pleased, 'he is always at the manor or in the town and doesn't care
his home; it was all I could do to make him lay the floor. Be so kind
to sit near the stove, neighbour, I'll get supper.'
out a large bowl
of peeled barley soup and put it on the table, and a small one for
God's name, and if
you want anything, say so.'
not you going to
eat last with the
children. Maciek, you may take your bowl.'
grinning, took his
portion and sat down on a bench opposite the alcove, so that he could
the Soltys and listen to human intercourse, for which he was longing.
looked contentedly from behind his steaming bowl at the table; the
lamp seemed to him the most brilliant illumination, and the wooden
the height of comfort. The sight of the Soltys, who was lolling back,
him with reverence. Was it not he who had driven him to the
when it was the time for the drawing of lots? Who had ordered him to be
taken to the hospital and told him he would come out completely cured?
Who collected the taxes and carried the largest banner at the
and intoned 'Let us praise the Holy Virgin'? And now he, Maciek
was sitting under one roof with this same Grochowski.
comfortable he made himself!
Maciek tried to lean back in the same fashion, but the scandalized wall
pushed him forward, reminding him that he was not the Soltys. So
his back ached, he bent still lower and hid his feet in their torn
under the bench. Why should he be comfortable? It was enough if the
and the Soltys were. He ate his soup and listened with both ears.
you take the
cow to Gryb?' asked the gospodyni.
wants to buy
buy her ourselves.'
might be so,'
put in Slimak; 'the girl is here, the cow should be here too.'
right, isn't it,
Maciek?' asked the woman.
till the soup ran out of his spoon.
true is true,' said
Grochowski; 'even Gryb ought to understand that the cow ought to be
the girl is.'
her to us,' Slimak
dropped his spoon
on the table and his head on his chest. He reflected for a while, then
he said in a tone of resignation:
help for it;
as you are quite, decided I must sell you the cow.'
take off something
for us, won't you?' hastily added the
woman in an
it's like this;
if it were my cow I would come down. But she belongs to a poor orphan.
How could I harm her? Give me thirty-five paper roubles and a silver
and the cow will be yours.'
'But she is
worth it!' said
money sits in the
chest and doesn't eat.'
will it give milk.'
have to rent the
be cheaper than
silence ensued, then
neighbour, say your
paper roubles and a silver rouble. Gryb will be angry, but I'll do this
gospodyni now cleared
the bowl off the table and returned with a bottle of vodka, two
and a smoked sausage on a plate.
said Slimak, pouring out the vodka.
emptied the glasses
and began to chew the dry sausage in silence. Maciek was so affected by
the sight of the vodka that he folded his hands on his stomach. It
him that those two must be feeling very happy, so he felt happy too.
don't know whether
to buy the cow or not,' said Slimak; 'your price has taken the wish
on his chair.
friend,' he said,
'what am I to do? this is the orphan's affair. I have got to buy her
if for no other reason but because it annoys my wife.'
roubles for an acre.'
because the Germans want to buy it.'
They want other Germans to settle near here.'
two Germans near
my field asking me a lot of questions. I didn't know what they wanted.'
are! they creep
in. Directly one has settled, others come like ants after honey, and
the land gets dearer.'
know anything about
They make more profits
than we who are born here. The Germans are clever; they have a lot of
sow clover and carry on a trade in the winter. We can't compete with
what their religion
is like? They talk to each other like Jews.'
religion is better
than the Jews',' the Soltys said, after reflecting; 'but what is not
is nothing. They have churches with benches and an organ; but their
are married and go about in overcoats, and where the blessed Host ought
to be on the altar they have a crucifix, like ours in the porch.'
as good as our
don't even pray to the Blessed Mother.'
gospodyni crossed herself.
that the Merciful
God should bless such people with prosperity. Drink, neighbour!'
health! Why should
God not bless them, when they have a lot of cattle? That's at the
of all prosperity.'
became pensive and
suddenly struck his fist on the table.
he cried, raising
his voice, 'sell me the cow!'
sell her to you,'
cried Grochowski, also striking the table.
roubles...as I love you.' Grochowski embraced him.
four paper roubles and a silver rouble for the halter.'
stole into the room; the gospodyni poured out some soup for them and
them to sit in the corner and be quiet. And quiet they were, except at
one moment when Stasiek fell off the bench and his mother slapped
for it. Maciek dozed, dreaming that he was drinking vodka. He felt the
liquor going to his head and fancied himself sitting by the Soltys and
embracing him. The fumes of the vodka and the lamp were filling the
Slimak and Grochowski
Slimak, striking the table again. 'I'll give you whatever you wish,
word is worth more than money to me, for you are the cleverest man in
parish. The Wojt is a pig...you are more to me than the Wojt or even
Government Inspector, for you are cleverer than they are...devil take
on each other's
shoulders and Grochowski wept.
call me Soltys but brother...for we are brothers!'
much you want for the cow. I'll give it you, I'll rip myself open to
it you...thirty-five paper roubles and a silver rouble.'
oh dear!' wailed
the gospodyni. 'Weren't you letting the cow go for thirty-three roubles
just now, Soltys?'
raised his tearful
eyes first to her, then to Slimak.
give you the cow for thirty-three roubles. Take her! let the orphan
so long as you, my brother, get a prime cow.'
beat a tattoo on
'Am I to
cheat the orphan?
I won't; I'll give you thirty-five....'
you doing, you
fool?' his wife interrupted him.
Grochowski supported her. 'You have entertained me so finely that I'll
give you the cow for thirty-three roubles. Amen! that's my last word.'
'Am I a Jew that I should be paid for hospitality?'
his wife said warningly.
woman!' he cried,
getting up with difficulty; 'I'll teach you to mix yourself up in my
fell into the
embrace of the weeping Grochowski.
the Soltys; 'may I not burn in hell!'
his wife said, 'you
must respect your guest; he is older than you, and he is Soltys.
help me to get them into the barn.'
'I'll go by
groaned Grochowski, 'chop me to bits, but I won't take a grosz more....
I am a Judas.... I wanted to cheat you. I said I was taking the cow to
Gryb...but I was bringing her to you...for you are my brother....'
arms and made
for the window. Maciek opened the door into the passage, and after
false starts they reached the courtyard. The gospodyni took a lantern,
rug and pillow, and followed them. When she reached the yard she saw
kneeling and rubbing his eyes with his sukmana and Slimak lying on the
manure heap. Maciek was standing over them.
'We must do
them,' he said to the gospodyni; 'they've drunk a whole bottle of
you drunkard,' she
cried, 'or I'll pour water over your head.'
it over you, I'll
give you a whipping presently!' her husband shouted back at her.
fell on his neck.
a hell of your
house, brother, or grief will come to us both.'
could not wonder enough
at the changes wrought in men by vodka. Here was the Soltys, known in
whole parish as a hard man, crying like a child, and Slimak shouting
the bailiff and disobeying his wife.
the barn, Soltys,'
said Slimakowa, taking him by one arm while Maciek took the other. He
like a lamb, but while she was preparing his bed on the straw, he fell
upon the threshing-floor and could not be moved by any manner of means.
'Go to bed,
the gospodyni; 'let that drunkard lie on the manure-heap, because he
been so disagreeable.'
obeyed and went to
the stable. When all was quiet, he began for his amusement to pretend
he was drunk, and acted the part of Slimak or the Soltys in turns. He
in a tearful voice like Grochowski: 'Don't make a hell of your house,
and in order to make it more real he tried to make himself cry. At
he did not succeed, but when he remembered his foot, and that he was
most miserable creature, and the gospodyni hadn't even given him a
of vodka, the tears ran freely from his eyes, until he too went to
midnight Slimak awoke,
cold and wet, for it had begun to rain. Gradually his aching head
the Soltys, the cow, the barley soup and the large bottle of vodka.
had become of the vodka? He was not quite certain on this point, but he
was quite sure that the soup had disagreed with him.
say you should
not eat hot barley soup at night,' he groaned.
He was no
longer in doubt
whether or no he was lying on the manure-heap. Slowly he walked up to
cottage and hesitated on the doorstep; but the rain began to fall more
heavily. He stood still in the passage and listened to Magda's snoring;
then he cautiously opened the door of the room.
on the bench
under the window, breathing deeply. There was no sound from the alcove,
and he realized that his wife was not asleep.
make room...' he
tried to steady his voice, but he was seized with fear.
with you, you tippler,
and don't come near me.'
'Where am I
manure-heap or the
pigsty, that's your proper place. You threatened me with the whip! I'll
take it out of you!'
use of talking
like that, when nothing is wrong?' said Slimak, holding his aching head.
wrong? You insisted
on paying thirty-five paper roubles and a silver rouble when Grochowski
was letting the cow go for thirty-three roubles. Nothing wrong, indeed!
do three roubles mean nothing to you?'
crept to the bench
where Stasiek lay and touched his feet.
you, daddy?' the
boy asked, waking up.
you doing here?'
sitting down; something
is worrying me inside.'
The boy put
his arms round
glad you have come,'
he said; 'those two Germans keep coming after me.'
by our field,
the old one and the man with the beard. They don't say what they want,
but they are walking on me.'
sleep, child; there
are no Germans here.'
pressed closer to
him and began to chatter again:
true, daddy, that
the water can see?'
should it see?'
sky, the hills; it sees us when we follow the harrows.'
sleep. Don't talk
it does, daddy,
I've watched it myself,' he whispered, going to sleep.
was too hot for
Slimak; he dragged himself up and staggered to the barn, where he fell
into a bundle of straw.
'But what I
gave for the
cow I gave for her,' he muttered in the direction of the sleeping