and his wife left
for Warsaw a week after the ball. Their place was taken by Hirschgold's
agent, a freckle-faced Jew, who installed himself in a small room in
bailiffs house, spent his days in looking through and sending out
and bolted the door and slept with two revolvers under his pillow at
had taken part
of the furniture with him, the rest of the suites and fixtures were
to the neighbouring gentry; the Jews bought up the library by the
the priest acquired the American organ, the garden-seats passed into
ownership, and for three roubles the peasant Orzchewski became
of the large engraving of Leda and the Swan, to which the purchaser and
his family said their prayers. The inlaid floors henceforward decorated
court, and the
were bought by the tailors and made into bodices for the village girls.
went a few weeks
later to have a look at the manor-house he could not believe his eyes
the sight of the destruction that had taken place. There were no panes
in the windows and not a single latch left on the wide-open doors; the
walls had been stripped and the floors taken up. The drawing-room was a
dungheap, Pani Joselawa, the innkeeper's wife, had put up hencoops
and in the adjoining rooms; axes and saws were lying about everywhere.
The farmhands, who according to agreement were kept on till midsummer,
strolled idly from corner to corner; one of the teamdrivers had taken
to drink; the housekeeper was ill with fever, and the pantryboy, as
as one of the farm-boys, were in prison for stealing latches off the
said the peasant.
seized with fear at
the thought of the unknown power which had ruined the ancient
in a moment. An invisible cloud seemed to be hanging over the valley
the village; the first flash of lightning had struck and completely
the seat of its owners.
later the neighbourhood
began to swarm with strangers, woodcutters and sawyers, mostly Germans.
They walked and drove in crowds along the road past Slimak's cottage;
they marched in detachments like soldiers. They were quartered at the
where they turned out the servants and the remaining cattle: they
every corner. At night they lit great fires in the courtyard, and in
morning they all walked off to the woods. At first it was difficult to
they were doing.
Soon, however, there was a distant echo as of someone drumming with his
fingers on the table; at last the sound of the axe and the thud of
trees was heard quite plainly. Fresh inroads on the wavy contour of the
forest appeared continually; first crevices, then windows, then wide
and for the first time since the world was the world, the astonished
looked into the valley from that side.
fell: only the sky
remained and the earth with a few juniper bushes and countless rows of
tree-trunks, hastily stripped of their branches. The rapacious axe had
not spared one of the leafy tribe. Not one--not even the centenarian
which had been touched by lightning more than once. Gazing upwards,
defier of storms had hardly noticed the worms turning round its feet,
the blows of their axes meant no more to it than the tapping of the
convinced at the
last that the world was insecure after all, and not worth living in.
another oak, half
withered, on the branches of which the unfortunate Simon Golamb had
hanged himself; the people passed it in fear.
1: Polish spelling:
the woodcutters approached. 'I bring you death; only one man dared to
my branches, and he died.' But the woodcutters paid no heed, deeper and
deeper they sent the sharp axe into its heart, and with a roar it
night-wind moaned over
the corpses of the strong trees, and the birds and wild creatures,
of their native habitations, mourned.
than the oaks
were the huge boulders thickly sown over the fields. The peasants had
touched them; they were too heavy to be removed; moreover, there was a
superstition that the rebellious devils had in the first days of the
thrown these stones at the angels, and that it was unlucky to touch
Overgrown with moss they each lay in an island of green grass; the
lit their fires beneath them on chilly nights, the ploughmen lay down
their shade on a hot afternoon, the hawker would sometimes hide his
last hour had struck
too; men began to busy themselves about them. At first the village
thought that the 'Swabians' were looking for treasure; but Jendrek
out that they were boring holes in the venerable stones.
the idiots doing
that for?' asked Slimakowa. 'Blessed if I know what's the good of that
old Sobieska, blinking her eyes; 'they are boring because they have
that there are toads inside those big stones.'
if there are?'
they want to know
if it's true.'
that to them?'
hanged if I know!'
retorted Sobieska in such a decided tone that Slimakowa considered the
matter as settled.
Germans, however, were
not looking for toads. Before long such a cannonading began that the
reached the farthest ends of the valley, telling every one that not
the rocks were able to withstand the Germans.
Swabians are a hard
race,' muttered Slimak, as he gazed on the giants that had been dashed
to pieces. He thought of the colonists for whom the property had been
and who now wanted his land as well.
not anywhere about,'
he thought; 'perhaps they won't come after all.'
morning, early in April,
Slimak went out before sunrise as usual to say his prayers in the open.
The east was flushed with pink, the stars were paling, only the morning
star shone like a jewel, and was welcomed from below by the awakening
peasant's lips moved
in prayer, while he fixed his eyes on the white mist which covered the
ground like snow. Then it was that he heard a distant sound from beyond
the hills, a rumble of carts and the voices of many people. He quickly
walked up the lonely pine hill and perceived a long procession of carts
covered with awnings, filled with human beings and their domestic and
implements. Men in navy-blue coats and straw hats were walking beside
cows were tied
of pigs were scrambling in and out of the procession. A little cart,
larger than a child's, brought up the rear; it was drawn by a dog and a
woman, and conveyed a man whose feet were dangling down in front.
Swabians are coming!'
flashed through Slimak's mind, but he put the thought away from him.
he argued. But no--they were not dressed like gipsies, and woodcutters
don't take cattle about with them--then who were they?
from the thought
that the colonists were actually coming.
they, maybe not...'
moment a hill concealed
them from his view, and he hoped that the vision had dissolved into the
light of day. But there they were again, and each step of their lean
brought them nearer. The sun was gilding the hill which they were
and the larks were singing brightly to welcome them.
valley the church
bell was ringing. Was it calling to prayers as usual, or did it warn
people of the invasion of a foreign power?
looked towards the
village. The cottage-doors were closed, no one was astir, and even if
had shouted aloud, 'Look, gospodarze, the Germans are here!' no one
have been alarmed.
of noisy people
now began to file past Slimak's cottage. The tired horses were walking
slowly, the cows could scarcely lift their feet, the pigs squeaked and
stumbled. But the people were happy,laughing and shouting from cart to
cart. They turned round by the bridge on to the open ground.
cart in the rear
had now reached Slimak's gate; the big dog fell down panting, the man
himself to a sitting position and the girl took the strap from her
and wiped her perspiring forehead. Slimak was seized with pity for
he came down from the hill and approached the travellers.
you all come from?
Who are you?' he asked.
colonists from beyond
the Vistula,' the girl answered. 'Our people have bought land here, and
we have come with them.'
not you bought
shrugged her shoulders.
'Is it the
custom with you
for the women to drag the men about?'
we do? we have
no horses and my father cannot walk on his own feet.'
'Then he is
hanging on to
the others, as it were?'
replied the girl
with much spirit, 'father teaches the children and I take in sewing,
when there is no sewing to do I work in the fields.'
looked at her with
surprise and said, after a pause: 'You can't be German, you talk our
are Germans,' said
the man in the cart, speaking for the first time.
and Jendrek now
came out of the cottage and joined the group at the gate.
strong dog!' cried
here,' said Slimak,
'this lady has dragged her lame father a long way in the cart; would
do that, you scamp?'
I? Haven't they
any horses, dad?'
had horses,' murmured
the man in the cart, 'but we haven't any
He was pale
and thin, with
red hair and beard.
you like to rest
and have something to eat after your long journey?' inquired Slimak.
want anything to
eat, but my father would like some milk.'
get some milk, Jendrek,'
Slimakowa, 'but you Germans can't have a country of your own, or else
wouldn't come here.'
our home,' the girl
replied. 'I was born in this country, the other side of the Vistula.'
made an impatient
movement and said in a broken voice: 'We Germans have a country of our
own, larger than yours, but it's not pleasant to live in: too many
too little land; it's difficult to make a living, and we have to pay
taxes and do hard military service, and there are penalties for
after a pause: 'Everybody wants to be comfortable and live as he
and not as others tell him. It's not pleasant to live in our country,
we've come here.'
brought the milk
and offered it to the girl, who gave it to her father.
you!' sighed the
invalid; 'the people in this country are kind.'
'I wish you
would not do
us harm,' said Slimakowa in a half-whisper.
we do you harm?'
said the man. 'Do we take your land? do we steal? do we murder you? We
are quiet people, we get in nobody's way so long as nobody gets...'
bought the land
here,' Slimak interrupted.
did your squire
sell it to us? If thirty peasants had been settled here instead of one
man, who did nothing but squander his money, our people would not have
come. Why did not you yourselves form a community and buy the village?
Your money would have been as good as ours. You have been settled here
for ages, but the colonists had to come in before you troubled about
land, and then no sooner have they bought it than they become a
to you! Why wasn't
the squire a
he paused and
looked at his wasted arms, then continued: 'To whom is it that the
resell their land? To you peasants! On the other side of the Vistula
the peasants bought up every scrap of our land.'
1: i.e. in Prussian
Poland. One of the Polish people's grievances is that the large
are not sold direct to them but to the colonists, and the peasants have
to buy the land from them. Statistics show that in spite of the great
of the German Colonization Commission more and more land is constantly
acquired by the Polish peasants, who hold on to the land tenaciously.]
your lot is always
after me to sell him my land,' said Slimak.
of such a thing!'
interposed his wife. 'Who is he?'
I know? there
are two of them, and they came twice, an old man and one with a beard.
They want my hill to put up a windmill, they say.'
Hamer,' said the
girl under her breath to her father.
Hamer,' repeated the
invalid, 'he has caused us difficulties enough. Our people wanted to go
to the other side of the Bug, where land only costs thirty roubles an
but he persuaded them to come here, because they are building a railway
across the valley. So our people have been buying land here at seventy
roubles an acre and have been running into debt with the Jew, and we
see what comes of it.'
meanwhile had been
eating coarse bread, sharing it with the dog. She now looked across to
where the colonists were spreading themselves over the fields.
go, father,' she
must go; what do
I owe you for the milk, gospodarz?'
'If we were
obliged to take
money for a little thing like that, I shouldn't have asked you.'
you,' said Slimak
and his wife.
folk, those Germans,'
he said, when they had slowly moved off. 'He is a clever man, yet he
about in that little cart like an old beggar.'
girl!' said Slimakowa,
'whoever heard of dragging an old man about, as if you were a horse.'
not bad,' said Slimak,
returning to his cottage.
conversation with the
Germans had reassured him that they were not as terrible as he had
went out after
breakfast to plough the potato-fields, Slimak slipped off.
to put up the
fence!' his wife called out after him.
run away,' he
answered, and banged the door, fearful lest his wife should detain him.
as he ran through
the yard, wishing to attract her attention as little as possible, and
stealthily up the hill to where Maciek was perspiring over his
asked the labourer.
down on the slope
so that he could not be seen from the cottage, and pulled out his pipe.
sit over there,'
Maciek said, pointing with his whip to a raised place; 'then I could
good of the smoke
to you? I'll give you my pipe to finish, and meanwhile it does not
the old woman to see me sitting here wasting my time.' He lit his pipe
very deliberately, rested his elbows on his knees and his head in his
and looked into the valley, watching the crowd of Germans.
they had enclosed a square into which they had driven their cattle and
horses; inside and outside of this the people were bustling about. Some
put a portable manger on a stand and fed the cows, others ran to the
with buckets. The women brought out their saucepans and little sacks of
vegetables and a crowd of children ran down the ravine for fuel.
crowds of children
they have!' said Slimak; 'we have not as many in the whole village.'
lice,' said Maciek.
could not wonder enough.
Yesterday the field had been empty and quiet, to-day it was like a
People by the river, people in the ravines, people on the fields, who
the bushes, carry wood, make fires, feed and water the animals! One man
had already opened a retail-shop on a cart and was obviously doing good
business. The women were pressing round him, buying salt, sugar,
Some young mothers had made cradles of shawls, suspended on short
with one hand they rocked the cradle with the other. There was a
surgeon, too, who examined the foot of a lame horse, and a barber was
an old Swabian on the step of his cart.
notice how quickly
they work? It's farther for them to fetch the firewood than for us, yet
we take half the day over it and they do it before you can say two
said Maciek, who
seemed to feel this remark as an aspersion.
they work together,
'continued Slimak; 'when our people go out in a crowd every one attends
to his own business, and rests when he likes or gets into the way of
others. But these dogs work together as if they were used to each
if one of them were to lie down on the ground the others would cram
into his hand and stand over him till he had finished it. Watch them
He gave his
pipe to Maciek
and returned to the cottage.
quick folk, those
Swabians,' he muttered, 'and clever!' Within half an hour he had
the two secrets of modern work: organization and speed.
came to the gospodarstwo and asked Slimak to sell them butter and
and hay. He let them have the former without bargaining, but he refused
'Let us at
least have a cartload
of straw,' they asked with their foreign accent.
'I won't. I
haven't got any.'
The men got
scoundrel Hamer is
giving us no end of trouble,' one cried, dashing his cap on the ground;
'he told us we should get fodder and everything at the farms. We can't
get any at the manor either; the Jews from the inn are there and won't
stir from the place.'
they were leaving,
a brichka drove up containing the two Hamers, whose faces were now
familiar to Slimak. The colonists rushed to the vehicle with shouts and
explanations, gesticulating wildly, pointing hither and thither, and
in turns, for even in their excitement they seemed to preserve system
calm, listening patiently and attentively, until the others were tired
of shouting. When they had finished, the younger man answered them at
length, and at last they shook hands and the colonists took up their
of potatoes and departed cheerfully.
called the elder man to Slimak. 'Shall we come to terms yet?'
use of talking,
father?' said the other; 'he will come to us of his own accord!'
cried Slimak, and
added under his breath: 'They are dead set on me--the vermin! Queer
he observed to his wife, looking after the departing brichka, 'when our
people are quarrelling, they don't stop to listen, but these seem to
each other all the same and to smooth things over.'
you always cracking
up the Swabians for, you old silly?' returned his wife. 'You don't seem
to remember that they want to take your land away from you.... I can't
make you out!'
they do to me?
I won't let them have it, and they can't rob me.'
They are many,
and you are only one.'
God's will! I can
see they have more sense than I have, but when it comes to holding on,
there I can match them! Look at all the woodpeckers on that little
that tree is like us peasants. The squire sits and hammers, the parish
sits and hammers, the Jews and the Germans sit and hammer, yet in the
they all fly away and the tree is still the tree.'
brought a visit
from old Sobieska, who stumbled in with her demand of a 'thimbleful of
gave up the ghost,'
she cried, 'I've run so fast to tell you the news.'
rewarded with a thimble
which a giant could well have worn on his finger.
she cried, when
she had drained it, 'this is the judgment day for some people in the
You see, Gryb and Orzchewski had always taken for granted that the
wouldn't come, and they had meant to drive a little bargain between
and keep some of the best land and settle Jasiek Gryb on it like a
and he was to marry Orzchewski's Paulinka. You know, she had learnt
from the squire's wife, and Jasiek had been doing work in the bailiff's
office and now goes about in an overcoat on high-days and holidays
me another thimbleful, or I shall feel faint and can't talk....
as I told you, the colonists had paid down half the money to the Jew,
here they are, that's certain! When Gryb hears of it, he comes and
Josel! "You cur of a Jew, you Caiaphas, you have crucified Christ and
you are cheating me! You told me the Germans wouldn't pay up, and here
they are!" Whereupon Josel says: "We don't know yet whether they will
At first Gryb wouldn't listen and shouted and banged his fists on the
but at last Josel drew him off to his room with Orzchewski, and they
some arrangement among themselves.'
fool,' said Slimak;
'he wasn't cute enough to buy the land, he won't be able to cope with
the old woman. 'Give me a thimbleful...Josel's clever enough,
his brother-in-law is even better...they'll deal with the Swabians...I
know what I know...give me a thimbleful...give me a thim...' She became
that she was saying?'
things she says
when she's tipsy. She is in service with Josel, so she thinks him
came, Slimak again
went to look at the camp. The people had retired under their awnings,
cattle were lying down inside the square, only the horses were grazing
in the fields and ravines. At times a flame from the camp fires flared
up, or a horse neighed; from hour to hour the call of a sleepy watchman
returned and threw
himself on his bed, but could find no rest. The darkness deprived him
energy, and he thought with fear of the Germans who were so many and he
but one. Might they not attack him or set his house on fire?
midnight a shot rang
out, followed by another. He ran into the back-yard and came upon the
frightened Maciek. Shouts, curses, and the clatter of horses' hoofs
from beyond the river. Gradually the noise subsided.
learned in the morning
from the colonists that horse-thieves had stolen in among the horses.
was taken aback.
Never before had such a thing happened in the neighbourhood.
The news of
the attack spread
like wildfire and was improved upon in every village. It was said that
there was a gang of horse-stealers about, who removed the horses to
that the Germans had fought with them all night, and that some had been
these rumours reached
the ears of the police-sergeant, who harnessed his fat mare, put a
cask and some empty bags into his cart, and drove off in pursuit of the
treated him to
smoked ham and excellent brandy, and Fritz Hamer explained that they
two discharged manor-servants, Kuba Sukiennik and Jasiek Eogacz, of
before for stealing locks off the doors, but had to be released because
there were no witnesses,' said the sergeant. 'Which of the gentlemen
at them? Has he a licence to carry firearms?'
seeing that the question
was becoming ticklish, led him aside and explained things so
to him that he soon drove off, recommending that watch should be kept,
and that the colonists should not carry firearms.
your farm will
soon be standing, sir?' he asked.
month's time,' replied
a day of it!'
He drove on
to the manor-house,
where Hirschgold's agent was so delighted to see him that he brought
a bottle of Crimean wine. On the topic of thieves, however, he had no
heard them shooting
I at once snatched up my revolvers, one in each hand, and I didn't
my eyes all night.'
you a licence to
the second is broken;
I only keep it for show.'
workmen do you
gave him a most
satisfactory account as to this in his own way and the sergeant took
careful, sir,' he recommended,
'once robbery begins in the village it will be difficult to stop it.
in case of accident you will do well to let me know first before you do
anything.' He said this so impressively that the agent henceforward
the two Jews from the manor-house to sleep in the bailiff's cottage.
the sergeant's next destination. Slimakowa was just pouring out the
barley soup when the stout administrator of the law entered.
be praised,' he
said. 'What news?'
Eternity. We are all
sergeant looked round.
husband at home?'
should he be?
Fetch your father, Jendrek.'
barley; is it
give me a sackful.
I'll pay you next time I come.'
the bag at once,
you can sell me
a chicken as well?'
tender, and put
it under the box.'
in. 'Have you
heard, gospodarz, who it was that tried to steal the horses?'
in the village
that it was Sukiennik and Rogacz.'
know about that.
I have heard they cannot find work here, because they have been in
got any vodka?
The dust makes one's throat dry.'
bread and cheese
better be careful,'
he said, when he departed, 'for they will either rob you or suspect
grace no one has
ever robbed me, and it will never happen.'
sergeant went to Josel,
who received him enthusiastically. He invited him into the parlour and
assured him that all his licences were in order.
no signboard at
one up at once
of whatever kind you like,' said the innkeeper obsequiously, and
a bottle of porter.
sergeant now opened the
question of the night-attack.
Josel. 'The Germans shot at one another and then got frightened and
out that there was a gang of robbers about. Such things don't happen
sergeant wiped his moustache.
'All the same Sukiennik and Rogacz have been after the horses.'
a wry face. 'How
could they, when they were in my house that night.'
sure,' Josel answered
carelessly. 'Gryb and Orzchewski both saw them...dead drunk they were.
What are they to do? they can't get regular work, and what a man
earns in a day he likes to drink
away at night.'
have got out.'
might, but the stable
was locked and the key with the foreman.' The conversation passed on to
Rogacz,' the sergeant said, on his departure, when he and his mare had
been sufficiently rested.
'Am I their
father, or are
they in my service?'
see to that all
sergeant returned home,
half asleep, half awake. Sukiennik and Rogacz kept passing before his
they had their hands full of locks and were surrounded by horses.
smiling face was hovering over them and now and then old Gryb and his
Jasiek jeered from behind a cloud. He sat up...startled. But there was
nothing near him except the white hen under the box and the trees by
wayside. He spat.
peasants were relieved
when day after day passed and there was no sign of building in the
They jumped to the conclusion that either the Germans had not been able
to come to terms with Hirschgold, or had
with the Hamers,
or that they had lost heart because of the horse-thieves.
haven't so much
as measured out the ground!' cried Orzchewski, and washed down the
with a huge glass of beer.
however, not yet
wiped his mouth when a cart pulled up at the inn and the surveyor
They knew him directly by his moustaches, which were trimmed to the
of eels, and by his sloeberry coloured nose.
sorrowfully conducted each other home, they comforted themselves with
thought that the surveyor might only be spending the night in the
on his way elsewhere.
it, I want to
see that young scamp of a Jasiek settled and married, and if I let him
out of my sight he goes to the dogs directly.'
Paulinka is a match for
him; she'll look after him!'
know what you're
talking of, neighbour; it will take the three of us to look after him.
Lately he hasn't spent a single night at home, and sometimes I don't
him for a week.'
surveyor started work
in the manor-fields the next morning, and for several days was seen
about with a crowd of Germans in attendance on all his orders, carrying
his poles, putting up a portable table, providing him with an umbrella
or a place in the shade where he could take long pulls out of his
flask. The peasants stood silently watching them.
measure as well
as that if I drank as much as he does,' said one of them.
that is why he is
a surveyor,' said another, 'because he has a strong head.'
had he departed
than the Germans drove off and returned with heavy cartloads of
materials. One fine day a small troop of masons and carpenters appeared
with their implements. A party of
out to meet
them, followed by a large crowd of women and children. They met at an
place, where refreshments and a barrel of beer had been provided.
in a faded drill-jacket,
Fritz in a black coat, and Wilhelm, adorned with a scarlet waistcoat
red flowers, were busy welcoming the guests; Wilhelm had charge of the
barrel of beer.
preparations and gave the alarm, and all the inhabitants of the
watched the proceedings with the keenest interest. They saw old Hamer
up a stake and driving it
ground with a wooden
workmen. Hamer bowed, took a second stake and carried it northwards,
by the crowd. The women and children were headed by the schoolmaster in
his little cart. He now lifted his cap high into the air, and at this
the whole crowd started to sing Luther's hymn:
our God remains,
His help our
fain work us
craft and great
is no one
first note Slimak
had taken off his cap, his wife crossed herself, and Maciek stepped
and knelt down. Stasiek, with wide-open eyes, began to tremble, and
started running down the hill, waded through the river, and headed at
speed for the camp.
was driving the
stake into the ground the procession, slowly coming up to him,
utmost might is
all in vain,
straight had been
the perfect Man
Who may He
His foes will
the peasants heard
a hymn like this, so solemn, yet so triumphant, they who only knew
plainsongs, which rose to heaven like a great groan: 'Lord, we lay our
guilt before Thine eyes.'
A cry from
the parents from their reverie.
singing!' stammered the child; his lips became blue, and he fell to the
frightened parents lifted
him up and carried him into the cottage, where he recovered when the
ceased. They had always known that the singing at church affected him
deeply, but they had never seen
him like this.
wet through and cold, stood riveted by the spectacle he was watching.
were these people walking and singing like this? Surely, they wanted to
drive away some evil power from their
dwellings, and, not
having incense or blessed chalk, they were using stakes. Well, after
a club of oakwood was better against the devil than chalk! Or were they
themselves bewitching the place?
struck with the difference
in the behaviour of the Germans. The old men, women, and children were
walking along solemnly, singing, but the young fellows and the workmen
stood in groups, smoking and
a noisy interruption when Wilhelm Hamer, who presided at the
lifted up his glass. The young men shouted 'Hoch! hurrah!' Old Hamer
round disapprovingly, and the
shook his fist.
procession drew near,
Jendrek heard a woman's voice above the children's shrill trebles,
guttural bass and the old people's nasal tones; it was clear, full, and
inexpressively moving. It made his
The sounds shaped themselves in his imagination to the picture of a
that it must be the
voice of the schoolmaster's daughter, whom he had seen before. At that
time the dog had engaged his attention more than the girl, but now her
voice took entire possession of the boy's
soul, to the
everything else he heard or saw. He, too,
sing, and began
under his breath:
Lord is ris'n
to fit in with
the melody which the Germans were just singing.
roused from this state
by the young men's voices; he caught sight of the schoolmaster's
and unconsciously moved towards her. But the young man soon brought him
to his senses. They pulled his hat over his ears, pushed him into the
of the crowd, and, wet, smeared with sand, looking more like a
than a boy, he was passed from hand to hand like a ball. Suddenly his
met those of the girl, and a wild spirit awoke in him. He kicked one
man over with his bare legs, tore the shirt off another one's back,
old Hamer in the stomach, and then stood with clenched fists in the
he had cleared, looking where he might break through. Most of the men
at him, but some were for handling him roughly. Fortunately old Hamer
youngster, what are
you up to?'
bullying me,' he
said, while the tears were rising in his throat.
come from that
cottage? What are you doing here?'
to listen to your
singing, but those scoundrels...'
he saw the grey eyes of the schoolmaster's daughter fixed on him. She
him the glass of beer she had been drinking from.
wet through,' she
said. 'Take a good pull.'
want it,' said the
boy, and felt ashamed directly; it did not seem well-mannered to speak
rudely to one so beautiful.
get tipsy...' he
cried, but drained the glass, looked at her again and blushed so deeply
that the girl smiled sadly as she looked at him.
moment violins and
cellos struck up; Wilhelm Hamer came heavily bounding along and took
girl away to dance. Her yearning eyes once more rested on Jendrek's
that something strange
was happening to him. A terrible anger and sorrow gripped him by the
he wanted to throw himself on Wilhelm and tear his flowered waistcoat
his back; at the same time
he wanted to
Suddenly he turned to go.
going?' asked the
schoolmaster. 'Give my compliments to your father.'
can tell him from
me that I have rented the field by the river from Midsummer Day,' Hamer
called after him.
rented it from the
squire!' Hamer laughed...'The squire! We are the squires now, and the
neared the road
he came upon a peasant, hidden behind a bush, who had been watching. It
praised,' said Jendrek.
praised at your place?'
growled the old man; 'it must be the devil and not the Lord, since you
are taking up with the Germans.'
taking up with them?'
peasant's eyes flashed
and his dry skin quivered.
taking up with them!'
he cried, shaking his fist, 'or perhaps I didn't see you running off to
them like a dog through the water to cadge for a glass of beer, nor
father and mother on the hill praying with the Swabians...praying to
devil! God has punished them already, for something has fallen on
There will be more to come...you wait!'
slowly walked home,
puzzled and sad. When he returned to the cottage, he found Stasiek
ill. He told his father what Gryb had said.
old fool,' replied
Slimak. 'What! should a man stand like a beast when others are praying,
even if they are Swabians?'
praying has bewitched
Stasiek.' Slimak looked gloomy.
it have been
their prayers? Stasiek is easily upset. Let a woman but sing in the
and he'll begin to shake all over.'
ended there. Jendrek
tried to busy himself about the cottage, but he felt stifled indoors.
roamed about in the ravines, stood on the hill and watched the Germans,
or forced his way through brambles. Wherever he went, the image of the
schoolmaster's daughter went with him; he saw her tanned face, grey
and graceful movements. Sometimes her powerful, entrancing voice seemed
to come to him as from a depth.
cast a spell over
me?' he whispered, frightened, and continued to think of her.