The little Barber usually sat on the apple tree. There was a horizontal chunky branch of the apple tree that stretched over the fence, this was the usual place for little Barber. His father, the clerk of Nagylunkka, had two more adult daughters, two skinny old men, who did all the work in the backyard, so Borbálka lived like a little princess, just staring at the world, which she even had the right to siheder- as a girl, – or two years ago, – she was engaged to the deputy teacher of the dolna-cross. And already the bride doesn’t work anywhere in the world, so Borbálka didn’t work either and spent her days doing pleasant inactivity. Her fiancé sometimes called her a “mysterious Psyché,” which the teacher considered very tasteful, and her sisters said that Borbálka was restless and silly, which no one thought was good-tasting. Well, but that doesn’t belong here. That’s enough-148-
Nice view from this place. It could be seen from here over the narrow little village of Marmaros, surrounded on all sides by plenty of beech forests, all the way through the narrow winding valley, lined up one after the other on the slopes of the hillsides like some huge blue walls. Here and there, high cliffs steep from the deciduous sea, and far away in the bluish depths of the valley a wide wreath of lacy ridges ended the landscape. The forest ran through everything, on a mountain, in a valley, only these highest cliffs were barren, as if the abundant skies passing through it had worn the forest there.
But Borbálka was not attracted to the place by the beautiful view, kept there for days, but by the garden of Safranics, the mysterious garden with a large high stone wall separated from the apple tree only by a narrow alley, and the yellow house built on a long corner, the house of Safranics. he finished the neighboring plot from the market.
There are houses that make a cheerful, friendly impression on a person, inside of which we imagine a peaceful happy life, and there are those whose appearance is already evil, within which we believe dark sins, cruel secrets are hidden. Such an evil-depicted house is the house of Safranics, the manorial forester. It was a large, shapeless, unadorned building, perched high from the square as if it were a two-story house, dwarfed in the narrow alley, and then tucked into the ground as it stood in a side position. On the facade,-149-even in the street, there were hardly one or two windows within which sat only darkness, as in the empty eye socket of the skulls. It was an old house. Wet large spots on the wide smooth surfaces between the windows ate the whitewash, ugly green spots, intestinal leprosy on the walls. There was no eaves, no ledges or eyebrows, even the gate, the ever-closed mossy gate, was as brittle, unfriendly as a closed lipless mouth. The house of Safranics was a waiting, grim, bleak house.
No one ever went into the house. All things were done by Safranics himself. He had no servant, no woman, no man, no relative ever visited. Maybe he was even more aloof than his house. He never went to church, nor did he go to the priest. He did not come into contact with anyone. He looked out at the market, usually elbowing in one of the windows, with his usual mocking smile, and smoking a pipe, while the gentle raven, which had always been with him, was quietly bobbing over his shoulder. Here, through the window, he also did the skillful and troublesome things of the manor, negotiated with the peasants, paid lumberjacks, transporters, and collected a price list. Sometimes he even called a passerby to tell him something mockingly corrosive. If he wasn’t in the window by accident and they wanted to talk to him, they rattled by the window and the forester immediately showed up. You could have believed that he was always back home and always in the same room if the man had not met him in the woods, and then properly at the time he least desired. When Safranics came out of the house, no one saw him.-150-
There was a lot of whispering about the forester in the village for fear. That it was not godly to be evil-speaking, everyone knew, for the parish priest was his greatest enemy, who also proclaimed from his cathedral to be free-thinking Safranics. The good Rusyn peasants did not understand what it was, but they knew it was a terrible thing.
Although Safranics had never been in contact with anyone, yet that he did not know everything about everyone, he also knew what he thought no one knew. Even his thought, maybe even his intention. There was even other oddity about it. There was an opportunity to be seen in several places in the same hour, both at the window and at the lumberjacks on the wage side, and at the dolnakereszturi border, which is a four-hour walk, the figure of a lean-walking lean man appeared there as well. The plot was rumored to be holding all sorts of strange animals in the courtyard, in the walled garden, that a wolf and a wild boar attacked a man there, that wonderful beste birds, no one of whom knew their species, fluttered, howled, hissed among the trees. Moreover, Ferkó Tyirik, the son of a miller at the end, who, as a teenager, climbed into the garden one night to steal apples, swears, that in the closed orchard he was fisted by a deer as big as a two-year-old calf. They didn’t even steal apples from Safranics’ garden!
That’s why Barber sat on the tree. He watched the garden, the house, to see if he could hide anything from their secrets. And really among the foliage of the spacious fruit trees that marched into dense waves behind the wall-151-along the hillside, sometimes he saw a dark bird sitting, other times, through the leaf curtain, through the veil, the shadow of a beast walked long, elongated, and in the evening a soft howl and roar could be heard. Sometimes Safranics himself walked slowly in the garden, his characteristically lean, overly long figure easily recognizable, his sharp, arm-like nose, black hooked mustache, walking softly, casually, headless, bald, smooth, pointed head back slightly, with a raven on his left shoulder.
Borbálka sat in his place again that evening, even though it was dark in the evening, the moon came up, his twinkling blue world danced with ore light on the leaves of the trees, drew a black shadow border at the bottom of the neighboring wall, casting a large dark spot at the base of the house.
It was a nice, mild, early fall evening, a quiet September evening. Barbálka didn’t usually sit out so late, she came out today only because something she heard in the afternoon disturbed her quiet, little girl’s unconscious mood.
This afternoon, his fiancé came over for ozone, as he had come every Sunday since they had been on a ticket. There was a conversation over coffee, all as usual, the deputy teacher took the floor as usual and his father, the clerk, contrasted with him. The sisters hurried and spun with the cake, coffee, and Boriska sat quietly, idle by her fiancé, clasped her not-very-small but tiny hands and listened. The matter of finalizing the teacher, of course, was continued, as he was expecting-152-the whole family to hold the Barbarian wedding. This case was carried on at length, away from what happened at the guardianship meeting, away from the intrigues of the principal-teacher. The assistant teacher now reiterated that the principal was second to Macchiavelli. At such times, he looked around bitterly, defiantly, as if waiting for someone to contradict, or for someone to say that the director was not Macchiavelli, or that he was not second, but tenth, twentieth, hundredth. For the assistant teacher said with equal torment that he did not tolerate a contradiction between “second Macchiavelli” and this, as well as other things. But no one objected, and that was not what disturbed little Borbálka so much that he pondered on the apple tree late at night. The word came differently.
The teacher talked about a big thing going on against Safranics in Keresztúr. There is a lot of kissing in the village, where they perhaps even hate the forest more than in Lonka, as every second person in Keresztúr is a hunter. Yet since Safranics has been in office, the business has been going nowhere, because one cannot enter the woods in the evening, at night or at dawn, lest he find Safranics, lurking next to a rock or behind a large beech tree as he smiles mockingly from behind his raised rifle. . It wasn’t possible to fight him until now, so now they’re preparing for him and putting him off his feet. It is rumored that they want to cheat into the deep road of Volosanka with the news that cattle are walking in the slaughter. Cyrill Tonkanecz spoke about this yesterday at -153-wrinkled and swore that he would end up with him. And he is already a determined man and he does what he says, and he has enough companions.
“If they talk like that in public, he’ll go to the forester,” said the clerk, who was a monotonous man.
“It’s not going, it’s not going,” the teacher replied bitterly, “everyone hates it, who would tell him?” He doesn’t talk to anyone anyway, so there’s no one to hear from.
And the teacher then gave an interesting insight into the laws of social life, the advantages of contact in general, the disadvantages of seclusion, especially the foundations of mutual friendship, the origins of aversion, and all this with illustrious dense examples as frightening figures II. Macchiavelli, the director of the Dolna Cross, was featured. By the time the Borbálka heard it all, he had become an assistant teacher in the evening, and after calling Borbálka a “mysterious Psyché” and kissing her on the forehead with momentum, she went home.
So Barber sat up on the apple tree, hid all the way through the leaves and pondered. She pondered her fiancé’s words, not on the brainstorming, not on the laws of social life, or on the origins of the dislikes, but on “who would tell her everyone hates.” Everyone hates it, yet how awful it is, everyone hates it and they don’t say it. He found it awful that they all knew, could save, it would take a word,-154-but no, they do not tell, neither his father, nor the assistant teacher, nor the sisters of the old daughter, they all know, but do not tell. Nobody, nobody tells me.
He thought it all over and over again, always almost boring and boring in the same series, but the thought of him telling him did not yet emerge from his soul. He wasn’t thinking, just that everyone hated him, no one was warning Safranics, no one was telling them they wanted to kill him.
Borbálka sat on the tree for a long time and stared down in front of her into the rainy alley. At one point he noticed at once that on the hard clay soil in the street, like some steep ditch, tiny pebbles were rolling into the valley. A pebble bounced, tumbling down, flashing down sometimes in the moonlight, disappearing into the water washing pit, in the dark shadow. And the other came after him, and he rolled down in a hurry, silently. Even in the lunar world that evening, even the simplest things seem so mysterious, doubtful: Borbálka’s heart tightened as if she saw something horrible. And as in front of some danger, he looked up at the mountain with involuntary trembling, from where the hurried little pebbles were rolling. He saw two people coming down the rubble alley. Their footsteps started the loose pebbles. One soon became known to Borbálka, It was László Cserne, the goulash boy. The other was a stranger, and as they approached, he saw that he was wearing a black cub like -155-dolna crosses. He was a tall man, almost killed. His face was in the shadows because the brim of the hat was tolerated, but otherwise he could see both well and remembered the name of the hunter he had just heard: Cyril Tonkanecz.
They came down slowly and talked softly. Barber sat motionless among the foliage. He listened intently. He, who had always been so monotonous as to be disturbed by the dream of a sleepy member, now listened with wide eyes, holding his breath, even opening his ridiculously tiny mouth: watching with all his might to do something of the two peasants’ speeches. But by chance, as the two men walked under the tree, their shadows passed over the Beard’s dress, they fell silent and Beard could only catch a few words that the cocooned stranger said to Cserna Laci, from under the tree, almost at the corner, his voice threatening: then tell me what i said!
The black robe stopped and leaned against the wall of Safranics’ house, barely a mile from the corner of the house. Then he disappeared into the darkness, only the opaque spot of the dough blackened in the shadow of the house.
The boyhouse boy entered the market and disappeared around the corner. There was a rattling window and the sound of Safranics as he asked:
– Who is?
– It’s me, Cserna Laci.
– What do you want?-156-
“I came to show you are grazing in the forbidden.”
– Where? Safranics asked.
– On the Volosanka carcass. The cattle are driven over by the dolna crosses at night. If the respectable gentleman came out at dawn, up the deep road, he could surprise them. They will definitely stay there until dawn.
– Up the road in Volosanka?
– Yes. They won’t see him there when he comes. Because they take care! They stay there until morning: I know for sure.
– All right, I’ll be there until dawn.
The window slammed shut. Cserna Laci did not come back, but went home demonstratively through the market. The black coat also started. Carefully, yet hurried, he walked up the alley toward the forest and disappeared into the night.
Borbálka listened frozen all the way through. So it’s true! They deceive this man into killing and no one can speak anymore, because already tonight, at dawn tonight… No one, no one can speak, even if there is someone who would speak, no one can speak anymore, since even this night the trap is set. And what he hadn’t even thought of before, he surprised him at once as a determination, at once it became a will, an action for him to say, now, he’s gone. Yes, he tells me, he can’t leave that. He peeked right and left for a few more minutes among the leaves, did the black robe really go away? then he descended softly from the branch into the street. He walked swiftly, almost running down the shady alley, and reached the moonlit-157-square under the Safranics window. Stopped. He could barely breathe from the great excitement and his heart beat high, up his throat like a startled bird. He stood there for only a few moments, but the window was already open, though he didn’t knock.
First a large pipe came out the window, then the stem of the pipe, and behind the stem of the pipe was the hard-carved face of Safranics. Safranics bent all the way down so that the lunar world fell on its smooth slippery skull. His eyes looked at the little girl questioningly. Borbálka sniffed so that he could only look at the wall in front of him, where the huge shadow of the pipe’s distorted shadow swayed like a pendulum. Even later, when he thought of this minute, the one that first appeared, his strongest memory, was always the huge swinging shadow of the pipe. The fantastic silhouette went here and there, Borbálka was just watching this and couldn’t speak. But Safranics spoke in the window:
– What do you need, Barber?
The forester had a muffled, muffled voice, as if the echo of some distant huge noise. Borbálka’s heart was filled with a strange feeling at these words, a wonderful feeling: gratitude, yes, gratitude, maybe because the forester knew his name, gratitude is meaningless, silly, involuntary gratitude, which he was ashamed of himself, gratitude from which his whole body was filled with warmth and throughout he felt himself blush on his skin. He finally got the word, hurriedly shivering at what he wanted to say, the words fluttered very, very softly, but still because he looked up, even though Safranics leaned all the way forward on the windowsill, even the raven blinked with interest on his shoulder-158- Borbálka and Borbálka had said what he had heard, that he had been trapped, that he had been black-black, that the teacher had spoken, that he was on the road to Volosanka, that Tonkanecz had sworn, that he had come to tell me, he can’t tell him, Safranics, not to leave, he ran away all this quickly, hurriedly, softly, he himself could barely hear his voice. And as he said, he was about to leave, fled, running, barely hearing the words of the Safranics: thank you, Borbálka, he didn’t look back, he just ran home straight to the gates, into his room.
Everything was quiet in the house, it was late. But there was no peace in Borbálka. He lay awake in his bed and listened. Will Safranics take his advice, will he stay home? Wouldn’t he despise the advice of such a little girl? And he was annoyed that he didn’t wait for Safranics to respond, why he didn’t promise not to leave. He would have been calm now, so he was troubled by the anxiety. Will he stay home? He kept watching to see if he could hear the door open, the sound of footsteps, or even in two or so he thought someone was really out there and ran to the window, but no, there was no one on the street, there was silence everywhere. And beyond the mysterious house of the Safranics, everything was dark. That’s how the night went.
It was dawn. There was a blue light in the room. Sparrows sounded on the trees. Oh! what a soothing, dissolving voice this soft chirp was. As if every sparrow had said, it didn’t go-159-away, it doesn’t go anymore. And Barber’s ridiculously tiny mouth, when he finally fell asleep calmly, also moved as if to say in his dream: he didn’t go, he wouldn’t leave anymore, because Barber slept with his mouth open like children.