Sunday, August 24, 2008


She dropped the tinder and the steel.

"Let me be!" she began to repeat in a muffled voice; but she allowed him to kiss her and even, as if by accident, touched Zbyszko's lips with her mouth. He released her and said:

"May God reward you. I do not know what would have happened without your help."

Then Jagienka, while searching for the tinder and fire steel, began to excuse herself:

"I was worried about you, because Bezduch also went with a fork and an axe, but the bear tore him to pieces. If you met with such a misfortune, Macko would be very unhappy, and he hardly breathes now. So I took a fork and came."

"Then it was you whom I heard there behind the pines?"


"And I thought it was an evil spirit."

"I was very much frightened, because it is dangerous to be without fire here around the marshes."

"Then why did you not speak to me?"

"Because I was afraid you would send me away."

Having said this, she again began to strike sparks from the steel, and put on the tinder a bundle of hemp which began to burn.

"I have two pieces of wood," she said " if you bring some dried branches quickly we will soon have a fire."

After a while a bright fire was burning, and lighted the enormous, brown body of the bear which was lying in a pool of blood.

"What a dreadful beast!" said Zbyszko, boastfully.

"You split his head open! O, Jesus!"

Then she leaned over and touched the bear's body, to ascertain whether the beast was fat; then she arose with a bright face, and said:

"There will be plenty of grease for two years."

"But the pitchfork is broken, look!"

"That is too bad, what shall I tell them at home?"

"About what?"

"Dad would not let me come into the forest, therefore I had to wait until everybody had retired."

After a moment she added:

"You must not tell that I was here, because they yell at me."

"But I will go with you to your house, because I am afraid the wolves will attack you, and you have no fork."

"Very well!"

Thus they sat talking for a while beside the bright fire, looking like two young forest creatures.

Zbyszko looked at the girl's pretty face, lighted by the flames, and said with involuntary admiration:

"There is not another girl in this world as brave as you are. You ought to go to the war!"

She looked into his face and then she answered, almost sadly:
"I know; but you must not laugh at me."

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