My Father's Wedding

Once I discovered all of a sudden, it was before I was born, that my

father was going to get married, and take my mother unto him. My father

said to me, "Go to the mill and have some corn ground for bread for the

wedding!" Whereupon I betook myself hurriedly like a smart fellow, I

looked for a cloth, and took up into the loft three bags, and filled

nine sacks with the best wheat of Dalnok, the best to be found; I put

all nine sacks at once over my shoulder, and took them to the cart. I

led out oxen and tried to yoke them, but neither of them could find it's

old place; I put the off-side one on the near side, and the near-side

one on the off side, and they were all right. I tried the yoke-pins, but

they would not fit, I therefore put in lieu of one the handle of a

shovel, and in place of the other a pole, and then all was right. I went

to the mill with the team, and when I arrived there I stopped the oxen

and stuck the whip into the ground in front of them to prevent them

running away; I myself went into the mill to call the miller to assist

me in carrying in the wheat. I couldn't find a soul in the mill. I

looked around, under the bed, behind the oven, and saw that the green

jug was not on it's peg; from this I knew that the mill was away

gathering strawberries, so I thought, if this were so, I should have to

wait patiently till it returned, but then I remembered that it was not

its custom to hurry back, and by the time it got back my hair might be

grey, and then it would be difficult for oxen to wait from year to year

as I had not brought aught for them to feed on. So I rushed after it at

a dog's trot, out on to the mount, and found it sniffing about the

shrubs, so I cut a jolly good stick and began to bang it on both sides

as hard as my strength allowed me, till I happened to hit it rather hard

with the stick, and, having struck it, I could hear it far away as it

began to move down in the valley, and it ground away and made such a

clatter; it was just grinding my wheat! In order to get down from the

mount into the valley more quickly, I lay down on the ground and rolled

down the slope, and after me all the stumps, who envied my pastime.

Nothing happened to them, and the only accident I had was that I knocked

my nose a little into some soft cow-dung, but I didn't carry it away

altogether, and a good deal of it is left there still. The poor white

horse fared much worse than that, as it was grazing at the foot of the

mount, it got so frightened by us that it ran out of this world with a

fetter fastened to it's feet, and has not returned to this very day. I

rubbed my nose on the sward as a hen does, and went to see what had

become of the oxen in the meantime: lo! the stock of my whip had taken

root and become such a tall tree that it was as high as the big tower at

Brasso[1] and the starlings had built their nests in it, and had so many

young ones that you couldn't hear the clattering of the mill for their


Well, I was very much delighted, thinking that now I could catch a lot

of young starlings; I knew how to climb well. I climbed the tree, and

tried to put my hand into a hole but couldn't, so I tried my head, and

that went in comfortably. I stuffed my breast full of starlings. When I

tried to get out of the hole I could not; so I rushed home and fetched

an adze, and cut myself out. I couldn't get down, as the tree was so

thick and my head so giddy, so I called the miller to help me, but he,

thinking that my complaint was hunger, sent me some miller-cake by his

son, but I told him in a great rage that that was not what I wanted: so

off he ran at once, and brought me a bushel of bran, handing it up on

the end of a pale. I twisted the bran into a rope, so strong that it

would bear a millstone, and I tried whether it would reach the ground,

but it did not reach, so I doubled it up, then it not only reached, but

trailed on the ground. I began to glide down it, but a beetle aloft

sawed it in two where it was tied to the bough, and down I dropped rope

and all; but while I was falling to the ground, in the meantime, the

young starlings in my breast got their feathers, took to their wings,

and flew away with me. When we were flying over the river Olt, some

women who were washing rags on the bank began to shout, "What the fiery

thunderbolt is the boy doing that he flies so well? If he drops he will

drop straight in the river and drown." I saw they were all staring at

me, but from the chirping of the young starlings I couldn't clearly hear

what they shouted: so I thought they were shouting that I should untie

the waist-band of my shirt. I untied the waist-band of my shirt below

the garter that tied my socks: with this the young starlings got out of

my bosom all at once and all the wings I had flew away. Down I dropped

into the middle of the river: with my splash the waters overflowed the

banks and washed as far as the foot of the mountain: but when the waters

flowed back into the bed of the river, (with the exception of a few

drops that were lapped up by a thirsty shepherd-dog of Gidofalu) so many

fish were left on the bank that they covered the whole place, from

Malnas to Doboly and from Arkos to Angyalos and even the whole plain of

Szepmezoe. Well, there was a lot of fish! Twelve buffalo-carts were

carting them away without interruption for a whole week, and the

quantity didn't get less, you couldn't see that any had been taken away:

but a stark naked gipsy brat came that way from Koeroespatak, and he

picked them up, put them into his shirt lap, and carried them all away.

I then remembered that they had not sent me here to play but to grind

corn, so I started in the direction of where I had left the oxen to see

what they were doing, and whether they were there still. I travelled for

a long time till I got quite tired. I saw in a meadow a horse, and I

thought I could easily get on it, and go where I wished to go, but it

would not wait for me. I caught hold of its tail, turned it round, and

so we stood face to face, and I said to it quite bumptiously: "Ho! stop,

old nag. Don't be so frisky." It understood the kind words and stopped

dead, like a peg. I put the saddle on the grey and sat on the bay and

started off on the chestnut; over a ditch and over a stile, so that the

horse's feet did not touch the ground. In one place I passed a vineyard,

and inside the hedge there was a lot of pretty ripe fruit. I stopped the

grey, got down from the bay, and tied the chestnut to the paling. I

tried to climb over the hedge, but couldn't, so I caught hold of my

hair, and swung myself over. I began to shake the plum-tree, and walnuts

dropped. I picked up the filberts and put them in my bosom. It was very

hot, I was very thirsty, so that I nearly died of thirst. I saw that not

very far away there were some reapers, and I asked, "Where can I get

water here?" They shewed me a spring not far off. I went there, and

found that it was frozen over. I tried in vain to break the ice with my

heel, and then with a stone, but did not succeed, as the ice was a span

thick; so I took the skull from my head and broke the ice with it

easily. I scooped up water with it, and had a hearty drink. I went to

the hedge and swung myself over by the hair into the road; then I untied

the grey, got on the bay, and galloped off on the chestnut, over stile

and ditch, so that my hair flew on the wind. In one place I passed two

men. As I overtook them, they called out after me: "Where's your head,

my boy?" I immediately felt my back, and lo! my head was not there; so I

galloped back at a quick dog-trot to the spring. What did I see? My

skull felt lonely without me, and had so much sense that as I forgot it

there, it had made a neck, hands, waist, and feet, for itself out of

the mud, and I caught it sliding on the ice. Well! I wasn't a bad hand

at sliding myself, so I slid after it as fast as I could. But it knew

better than I did, and so I couldn't possibly catch it. My good God!

What could I do? I was very much frightened that I was really going to

be left without a head but I remembered something, and thought to

myself: "Never mind, skull, don't strain yourself, you can't outdo me."

So I hurriedly made a greyhound out of mud, and set it after my skull.

He caught it in a jiffy, and brought it to me. I took it and put it on:

I went to the hedge, and seizing myself by the hair, swung myself over

the hedge: untied the grey, got on the bay, and galloped away on the

chestnut, over a stile, and over a ditch, like a bird, till I came to

the mill, where I found that my father had not had patience to wait for

me, and so had set off in search of me; and, as he couldn't find me,

began to bewail me, vociferating: "Oh! my soul! Oh! my son! Where have

you gone? Oh! Oh! Why did I send you without anybody to take care of

you? Oh! my soul! Oh! my son! Now all is over with you. You must have

perished somewhere." As my father was always scolding me, and calling me

bad names in my lifetime, I could never have believed that he were able

to pity me so much. When I saw what was the matter with him, I called

from a distance: "Console yourself, father, I am here, 'a bad hatchet

never gets lost.'" It brought my poor old father's spirits back. We put

the sacks full of flour on the cart and went home, and celebrated my

father's wedding sumptuously. The bride was my mother, and I was the

first who danced the bride's dance with her, and then the others had a

turn, and when the wedding was over, all the guests went away and we

were left at home by ourselves, and are alive at this date, if we are

not dead. I was born one year after this, and I am the legitimate son of

my father, and have grown up nicely, and have become a very clever lad.

[1] Cronstadt in Transylvania.

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