Falconbridge took the paper and began to read.
“H’m! Skavinski? Is that your name? H’m! Two flags captured in a bayonet attack. You were a gallant soldier.”
“I am able to be a conscientious lighthouse keeper.”
It is necessary to ascend the tower a number of times daily. Have you sound legs?”
“I crossed the plains on foot.” (The immense steppes between the East and California are called “the plains.”)
“Do you know sea service?”
“I served three years on a whaler.”
“You have tried various occupations.”
“The only one I have not known is quiet.”
“Why is that?”
The old man shrugged his shoulders. “Such is my fate.”
”Still,you seem to me too old for a lighthouse keeper.” tt “Sir,” exclaimed the candidate Suddenly in a voice of emotion, “I am greatly wearied, knocked about. I have passed thro
The task of finding a new keeper fell to the United States consul living in Panama, and this task was no small one: first, because it was absolutely necessary to find a man within twelve hours; second, the man must be unusually conscientious—it was not possible, of course, to take the first comer at random; finally, there was an utter lack of candidates.
Life on a tower is uncommonly difficult, and by no means enticing to people of the South, who love idleness and the freedom of vagrant life.
That lighthouse keeper is almost a prisoner. He cannot leave his rocky island except on Sundays. A boat from Aspinwall brings him provisions and water once a day, and returns immediately; on the whole island, one acre in area, there is no inhabitant.
The keeper lives in the lighthouse; he keeps it in order. During the day he gives signals by displaying flags of various colors to indicate changes of the barometer; in the evening he lights the lantern.
Polish literature begins a thousand years ago, but until towards the middle of the last century there is very little prose fiction, and probably no single short story of outstanding merit.
The history of Po- v land is so strikingly dramatic and her political vicissitudes so many and so varied that it is scarcely to be wondered at that the Poles failed to develop narrative fiction. One of the greatest Polish writers was Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1843), and though he wrote very little fiction he was largely instrumental in establishing a literary tradition.
With the novels of Mme. Orgaszo and Sienkiewicz Polish literature entered a new and very productive age. During the past two generations the short story has been assiduously developed by a dozen writers of exceptional talent. Prus and Szymanski, Orzeszkowa, Sienkiewicz and Zeromski have utilized the form for the expression of their deepest convictions. Among the later wri
The Doctor closed his lips suddenly as if he had said something he had not intended to say.
“Nonsense. It’s none of my business. One has eyes and brains and one sees things, and comprehends things. I was suspicious the moment she refused to let me cut your arm off. Didn’t you suspect anything? But now I understand. Of course, of course.”
John Gal began to shake both his fists, forgetting for the moment that one of them was swollen. He groaned with pain.
“Oh, my arm, my arm! Don’t say another word, Doctor.”
“Not another word,” said the other.
A deep groan broke forth from the sick man’s chest as he clutched the Doctor’s arm with his right.
“Which Paul, Doctor? Which Paul do you mean? Who is he?” “You really mean to say you don’t know? Paul Nagy, your hired man.” The old peasant turned white. His lips were trembling and the blood rushed to his heart. His hand didn’t hurt him a bit now. He sud
“Old witch Rebek,” he said. “She lives two doors away from the Gals.”
The Doctor handed her two silver florins.
“I am in love with a woman, and I’d like something that would make her love me,” he said.
“Oh, that can’t be, my boy. You look like a scarecrow, and they don’t usually fall in love with men like you.”
“True, mother, but I could give her all the silks she wants and all the money she could spend. …”
“And who be the woman?”
“Mrs. John Gal.”
“You can pluck every rose, excepting those that are plucked.” That was just what the Doctor wanted to know.
“And who may the other man be?” he asked.
“Paul Nagy, the hired man. She must be in love with him, because she comes here often for potions. I gave her the last year’s dust of three- year-old creepers to pour into his wine.”
“And does John Gal suspect anything?”
“You’ll have to pay the three hundred, you know, whether I amputate your arm or not. It would be wasting money not to have the operation. It only takes five minutes.”
“Well, you can prescribe some ointment, just to be earning your fee,” said the old man, as calmly as if he were bargaining over a pair of boots.
It was no use. Disgusted and disappointed, the Doctor left the man and went out for a walk to think matters over and discuss the problem with some of the village wiseacres. He found little good advice, however, and it was equally in vain to bring the notary and the Justice of the Peace to the patient’s bedside. The young woman was always there to offset any wicked plan on the part of the Doctor, and she never missed an opportunity for putting in a word or two to strengthen the obduracy of her husband. The Doctor gave her a wicked glance now and again, and even shouted at her:
“You hold your tongue when men are in conference!” he sa
“Oh, leave me alone,” he said as though he were tired of so much talk; turned to the wall, and closed his eyes.
The Doctor was quite unprepared for such stubbornness. He left the room and went to have a word with the woman.
“How is my husband?” she asked with such indifference as she could muster, continuing her work at the same time in order to show her contempt for the Doctor.
“Bad enough. I just came to ask you to try and persuade him to let me amputate his arm.”
“Good gracious!” she exclaimed, turning as white as the apron before her. “Must it be done?”
“He will die otherwise within twenty-four hours.”
Her face turned red, as she took the Doctor by the arm. She dragged him into the sick-room and there, placing her hands on her hips, addressed him:
“Do I look like a woman who would be satisfied to be the wife of a cripple? I’d die of shame. There! Just look at him!” She turned to h
This was absolutely untrue. John Gal had never said a word; never even mentioned the bite unless he was asked, and even then he was extremely curt. He lay on his bed indifferent and stoical. His head rested on a sheepskin, his pipe in his mouth.
“What’s the trouble, old man?” asked the Doctor. “I understand a fly bit you.”
“That’s it,” answered the peasant between his teeth.
“What sort of fly was it?”
“A green fly,” he said curtly.
“You just question him, Doctor,” interrupted the woman. “I shall have to look after my work. I have nine loaves in the oven.”
“All right, mother,” said the Doctor absent-mindedly.
She turned upon him immediately as if stung, her hands on her hips: “Why, you’re old enough to be my father!” she said, half offended and half flirting. “You don’t seem to see well through those windows on your eyes.”
She turned quickly about and the ma
Kalman Mikszath (1849-1922)
Mikszath is all of the few Hungarian writers who is widely known outside his native land. An ardent patriot, he was all his life long a staunch defender of the principles of Hungarian independence.
He poured all his love for the Hungarian people. His short stories, among the best ever written by a Hungarian, are vivid pictures of the life of his native country. The Green Fly is an especially amusing and well executed study in peasant psychology.
The translation of the story was made by Mr. Joseph Szebenyei for this volume, and appears here for the first time in English. Acknowledgment is hereby made to the translator for permission to use the MS.
The Green Fly
The Green Fly point of death. God was holding judgment over him, pointing to him as an example for all mankind:
“Look at John Gal. What do you mortals imagine yourselves to be? You are nothing. Now, John Gal is really somebody. Even t
I, then, tell you that Orpheus has sung well, and is of the elect of the gods. His music intoxicated the whole forest. The eagles drew near and flew above our heads, the flowering bushes gently swayed their mysterious censers, the bees left their cells to come and listen. As for me, O Master were I in your place I should yield to him my garland of vine-shoots and my thyrsus. There exist two powers: the real and the ideal. What Hercules would do with his wrists, Orpheus does with his inspiration. With a single blow the robust god could shatter Mount Athos itself. Orpheus, with the potency of his triumphant voice, could subdue Nemea’s lion and the wild boar of Erimanthus. Of men, some have been born to forge metals, others to wrest from the soil the ears of wheat, others to fight in bloody wars, and others still to teach, to glorify, and to sing. If I am your cupbearer and I give you wine, it is the joy of your palate; if I offer you a hymn, it is the joy of your soul.”