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 the county judge shakes his hand occasionally. The Countesses of the village come and visit him. He is the richest among you. Still, I could smite him. I did not have to send a hungry wolf to bite him, nor do I have to uproot a giant oak to fall upon and crush him. A tiny fly will do the work.” That is what actually happened. A fly bit his hand; it soon began to swell, becoming blacker and redder.
The priest and the lady of the Castle persuaded him to call a doctor. He would have been willing to have the surgeon sent for, but they prevailed upon him to telegraph for a specialist to Budapest. Professor Birli was chosen. One visit would cost three hundred florins, but that was money well spent.
“Nonsense,” said the peasant, “that tiny fly couldn’t have caused three hundred florins’ worth of damage in me.”
The Countess insisted and offered to pay the doctor’s bill herself. This did the trick. John Gal was a proud peasant. The telegram was dispatched and a young man, slim and bespectacled—not at all imposing—arrived in the carriage that had been sent to meet him at the station.
Mrs. Gal, the young wife of the elderly peasant, received him at the gate.
“Are you the famous Doctor from Budapest?” she asked. “You had better come and look at my husband. He’s making as much fuss over a fly-bitten hand as if he’d been bitten by an elephant.”