Sunday, August 31, 2008


He walked slowly through the water, while the girl nestled to him. Finally when they were near the other shore, she said:



"I care neither for Cztan, nor for Wolf."

As he placed her on the shore, he answered a bit excitedly:

"May God give you the best there is. He will not be wronged."

The lake was not far away now. Jagienka walking in front, turned from time to time, and putting a finger on her lips, ordered Zbyszko to be silent. They were walking amidst the osiers and gray willows, on low, damp ground. From the left side, were heard the voices of birds, and Zbyszko was surprised at that, because it was time for the birds to migrate.

"We are near a morass which is never frozen," whispered Jagienka; "the ducks pass the winter there; even in the lake the water freezes only near the shores. See how it is steaming."

Zbyszko looked through the willows and noticed in front of him, something like a bank of fog; it was the lake.

Jagienka again put a finger to her lips, and after a while they reached the lake. The girl climbed on an old willow and bent over the water. Zbyszko followed her example; and for a long time they remained quiet, seeing nothing in front of them, on account of the fog; hearing nothing
but the mournful puling of lapwings. Finally the wind blew, rustled the osiers and the yellow leaves of the willows, and disclosed the waters of the lake which were slightly ruffled by the wind.

"Do you see anything?" whispered Zbyszko.

"No. Keep quiet!"

After a while, the wind ceased and complete silence followed. Then on the surface of the lake appeared one head, then another; finally near them a big beaver entered the water from the shore, carrying in his mouth a newly cut branch, and began to swim amidst the duck-weed and marigold holding his mouth out of the water and pushing the branch before him. Zbyszko lying on the trunk beneath Jagienka, noticed that her elbow moved quietly and that her head was bent forward; evidently she had aimed at the animal which, not suspecting any danger, was swimming close by, toward the clear water.

Finally the string of the crossbow twanged and at the same moment Jagienka cried:

"Got him! I got him!"

Zbyszko instantly climbed higher and looked through the thicket toward the water; the beaver plunged into the water, then reappeared on the surface, turning somersaults.

"He will soon be quiet!" said Jagienka.

The movements of the animal grew slower, and soon it was floating on its back on the surface of the water.

"I will go and get him," said Zbyszko.

"No, do not go. Here, near the shore, there is, deep slime. Anyone who does not know how to manage, will surely drown."

"Then how will we get him?"

"He will be in Bogdaniec this evening, do not worry about that; now we must go home."

"It was a good shot!"

"Yes! It is not the first one!"

"Other girls are afraid to even look at a crossbow; but with you, one can go to the forest all his life."

Jagienka smiled at praise, but she did not answer; they returned the same way they came. Zbyszko asked her about the beavers and she told him how many of them there were in Moczydoly, and how many in Zgorzelice.

Suddenly she struck her hip with her hand and exclaimed:

"I left my arrows on the willow. Wait!"

Before he could say that he would return for them, she jumped back and disappeared. Zbyszko waited and waited; at last he began to wonder what detained her so long.

"She must have lost the arrows and is searching for them," he said to himself; "but I will go and see whether anything has happened to her."

He had hardly started to return before the girl appeared with her bow in her hand, her face smiling and blushing, and with the beaver on her shoulders.

"For God's sake!" cried Zbyszko, "how did you get him?"

"How? I went into the water, that is all! It is nothing new for me; but I did not want you to go, because the mud drags anyone down who does not know how to swim in it."

"And I waited here like a fool! You are a sly girl."

"Well, could I undress in front of you?"

"If I had followed you, then I would have seen a wonder!"

"Be silent!"
"I was just starting, so help me God!"

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