“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.”
What forest better than the forest of the satyr, whom he would en-chant, where he would be held as a demigod; a forest all joy, and dancing, and beauty, and voluptuousness; where nymphs and bacchantes were ever fondled and ever virginal; where there were grapes and roses and the noise of the sistrum, and where the goat-footed king danced drunk before his fauns, making gestures like Silenus?
He went with his wreath of laurel, his lyre, his proud poet’s mien, erect and radiant.
He came to where the wild and hairy satyr ruled, and at his request for hospitality, he sang. He sang of great Jove, of Eros and Aphrodite, of the graceful centaurs and of the ardent bacchantes; he sang the cup of Dionysus, and the thyrsus that strikes the joyous air, and of Pan, emperor of the mountains, sovereign of the woods, god-satyr who, too, could sing. He sang the intimacies of the air and earth, the great mother.
Thus he expounded the melody of andSolian harp, the murmu
He was a capricious satyr.
He had two court counselors: a lark and an ass. The first had lost her prestige when the satyr went deaf. Formerly, when, weary with lust, he softly played his flute, the lark accompanied him.
Afterward, in his great forest, where he could not hear even the voice of Olympian thunder, the patient animal of the long ears served him as mount, while the lark, at break of dawn, flew out of his hands, singing on her flight to the skies.
The forest was vast. To the lark belonged the tree-tops; to the ass, the pasture. The lark was greeted by the first gleams of dawn; she drank dew in the shoots; she awoke the oak, singing to it, “Old oak, awake.” She rejoice ‘ in a kiss from the sun; she was beloved by the morning star.
And the blue firmament so vast knew that she, so tiny, dwelt beneath its immensity. The ass (though he had not yet conversed with Kant) was an expert in philosophy, according to common report. The
Ruben Dario (1867-1916)
Ruben Dario is one of the few Spanish-American writers who have won international celebrity. He first became known as a boy poet, but soon after his sensational appearance in the field of literature, he became a journalist. His travels began at an early age. He was in the diplomatic service and represented his country in several cities abroad.
Of a rather melancholy and neurotic temperament, he had none the less an extremely varied and active career, and in spite of his diplomatic and other duties he continued to write. Though he is best known as a poet, he is the author of several short stories and books of travel. His volume of prose tales and poems called Azul (1888) attracted notice in Europe. It is from this collection that The Deaf Satyr is selected. This charming idyll exemplifies Dario’s outstanding qualities of style and literary form.
The present version is translated by Isaac Goldberg especia
Peter Lo was not quite so fortunate. He could not be happy except in the society of the stallion. He lost interest in work. He was in his element only when racing down the county roads behind his crony, or when he and Skobelef together conducted revival services beneath the very walls of the church. The rumor spread that he had taken to sleeping in the stable. Gossip would have it that horse and man were coming to resemble each other. Skobelef smiled out of the corner of his mouth when he met with his affinities, and Peter Lo greeted good friends at church with something like a whinny in his voice.
Peter Lo’s lot was not altogether enviable. He had a fondness for all things pretty, not excepting those that belonged to his neighbors. And when he got into an unusually bad scrape, he made a most pathetic figure. Then he would go to church and take holy communion. Many a time we saw him come driving, not the wild stallion but an old mare. His sour-visaged wife, wrapped in he