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