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Title: Sielanka: An Idyll
Author: Sienkiewicz, Henryk, 1846-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sielanka: An Idyll" ***

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_An Idyll_






Copyright, 1897




_An Idyll._

In the woods, in the deep woods, was an open glade in which stood the
house of the forester Stephan. The house was built of logs packed with
moss, and the roof was thatched with straw; hard by the house stood
two outbuildings; in front of it was a piece of fenced-in ground, and
an old well with a long, crooked sweep; the water in the well was
covered with a green vegetation at the edges.

Opposite the windows grew sunflowers and wild hollyhocks, high,
stately, and covered with blossoms as if with a swarm of gorgeous
butterflies; between the sunflowers there peeped the red heads of the
poppy; around the hollyhocks entwined sweet peas with pink blossoms
and morning-glories; close to the ground grew nasturtiums, marigolds,
primroses, and asters, pale because they were shaded from the sunlight
by the leaves of the hollyhocks and sunflowers.

The fenced ground on either side of the pathway leading to the house
was planted with vegetables--carrots, beets, and cabbage; further off
in a separate fenced-in lot there waved with each breath of wind the
tender blue flower of the flax; still beyond could be seen the dark
green of the potato patch; the rest of the clearing was checkered with
the variegated shades of the different cereals that ran to the edge of
the lake which touched the glade on one side.

Near to the house a few trees were growing. Some were cherry trees,
and one was a birch, with long, slender branches which swayed in the
wind, and with every breeze its leaves touched the dilapidated
moss-covered straw thatch of the roof; when the stronger gusts of wind
bent its boughs to the wall, and pressed its twigs and the waves of
leaves against the roof, it would seem as if the tree loved the house
and embraced it.

In this tree the sparrows made their home; the rustling of the leaves
and twigs commingled with the chirp and joyous noise of the birds; in
the eaves of the house the doves had built their nests, and the place
was filled with their speech, cooing and calling to each other,
entreating and discussing as is customary between doves, these noisy
and talkative people.

At times it happened that they were startled by some unknown cause;
then around the house was heard a loud flapping, the air was filled
with the whirl of wings and a multitude of white-feathered breasts;
you could hear tumult, noise and excited cries--the whole flock flew
out suddenly, circled round the house, now near, now far off.
Sometimes they melted in the blue, sometimes their white feathers
reflected the sunlight, again they hung over the house, undulating in
the air, and alighting at last like a downfall of snowflakes on the
gray straw of the roof.

If this occurred in the rosy morning or in the splendor of the red
setting sun, then in the glory of the air these doves were not white,
but tinted pink, and settled on the roof and birch tree as flames or
scattered rose leaves.

At twilight, when the sun had hidden itself beyond the woods, this
cooing under the roof and chirping in the birch tree became gradually
quiet. The sparrows and the doves shook the dew from their wings and
prepared to sleep; sometimes one of them gave voice once more, but
more rarely, more softly, more drowsily, and then all was silent--the
dusk was falling from the heavens upon the earth. The house, cherry
trees, and birch were losing their form, mingling together, melting,
and veiled in a mist which rose from the lake.

Around the glade, as far as the eye could reach, there stretched the
wall of dark pine trees and thick undergrowth. This wall was broken in
one place by a wide dividing line, which reached to the edge of the
lake. The lake was a very large one, the opposite side was nearly lost
to view, and in the mist could be hardly discerned the red roof and
steeple of a church, and the black line of the woods closing the
horizon beyond the church.

The pines were looking from the high sandy banks upon their reflection
in the lake as if in a mirror, and it seemed as if there was another
forest in the water; and when the trees were swaying on the earth they
were also swaying in the water, and when they quivered on the earth
they seemed to quiver in the water; as they stood in the still air
motionless, then every needle of the pines was painted distinctly on
the smooth, unruffled surface, and the straight trunks of the trees
standing like rows of pillars reaching afar off into infinity. In the
middle of the lake the water in the daytime reflected the sun, and in
the morning and the evening the glories of its rising and its setting;
at night the moon and stars; and it seemed to be as deep as the dome
of the sky above us is high, beyond the sun, moon, and stars.

In the house dwelt the forester, named Stephan, and his daughter,
Kasya, a maiden of sixteen. Kasya was the light of the household, as
bright and fresh as the morning. She was brought up in great innocence
and in the fear of God. Her uncle, who was now dead, and who was a
poor but devout man, the organist of the neighboring church, had
taught her to read her prayer book, and her education was perfected by
her communing with nature. The bees taught her to work, the doves
taught her purity, the happy sparrows to speak joyfully to her father,
the quiet water taught her peace, the serenity of the sky taught her
contemplation, the matin-bell of the distant church called her to
devotion, and the universal good in all nature, which reflected the
love of God, sank deep into her soul.

Therefore the father and Kasya led a peaceful and happy life,
surrounded by the silence and solitude of the woods.

One noon, before Ascension Day, Stephan came home to his dinner. He
had visited a large tract of the forest, so he arrived weary, having
returned through the thickets of the swamp. Kasya placed the dinner on
the table, and after they had finished and she had fed the dog and
washed the dishes, she said:


"What is it?"

"I shall go into the woods."

"Go, go," adding jestingly, "and let some wolf or wild beast devour

"I shall go and gather herbs. To-morrow is Ascension Day and they will
be needed in the church."

"If so, you can go."

She covered her head with a yellow kerchief embroidered with blue
flowers, and looking for her basket she began singing:

  "The falcon came flying, the falcon came grey."

The old man began to grumble: "If you were as fond of working as you
are of singing."

Kasya, who was standing on her tiptoes to look on a shelf, turned her
head to her father, laughed merrily, and showing her white teeth, sang
again as if to tease him:

  "He hoots in the woods and the cuckoo's his prey."

"You would be glad yourself to be a cuckoo until a falcon came," said
the old man. "Perhaps 'tis falcon who is at the turpentine works? but
this is folly. You can't earn a piece of bread by singing."

Kasya again sang:

  "Hoot not thou, my falcon, unhappy thy quest,
  In the depths of the lake thy cuckoo doth rest."

Then she said:

"Wilt thou decorate the room with the evergreens for to-morrow? I
shall return in time to milk the cows, but they should be brought from
the pasture."

She found her basket, kissed her father, and went out. Old Stephan got
his unfinished fishing-net, and seated himself on a bench outside the
door. He gathered his twine, and half-closing one eye he tried to
thread his netting needle; after several attempts he succeeded and
began to work.

From time to time he watched Kasya. She was walking on the left side
of the lake; against the background of the sandy banks she stood out
in relief as if in a picture. Her white waist and red striped skirt
and yellow kerchief glistened in the sunlight like a variegated
flower. Though it was spring the heat was unbearable. After she had
gone about half a mile she turned aside and disappeared into the
woods. The afternoon hours were hot in the sun, but in the shade of
the trees it was quite cool. Kasya pressed forward, suddenly stopped,
smiled, and blushed like a rose.

In front of her in the pathway stood a youth about eighteen years of

This youth was the turpentine worker, from the edge of the woods, who
was now on his way to visit Stephan.

"The Lord be praised!" said he.

"Forever and ever," answered she, and in her confusion she covered her
face with her apron, peeping shyly out of a corner of it and smiling
at her companion.

"Kasya," said he.

"What is it, John?"

"Is your father at home?"

"He is."

The turpentine worker, poor fellow, perhaps desired to speak of
something else beside the father, but somehow he was frightened and
unconsciously inquired for him; then he became silent and waited for
Kasya to speak to him first. She stood confused, twisting the corners
of her apron.

At last she spoke.


"What is it, Kasya?"

"Does the turpentine works smoke to-day?" She also wished to speak of
something else.

"Why should it not? The turpentine works never stop. I left lame Frank
there; but dost thou wish to go there?"

"No, I go to gather plants."

"I will go with thee, and on our return, if thou dost not chase me
away, I will come to thy house."

"Why should I chase thee away?"

"If thou dost like me thou wilt not chase me away, and if thou dost
not, then thou wilt. Tell me, Kasya, dost thou like me?"

"Fate, my fate," and Kasya covered her face with her hands. "What can
I say to thee? I like thee, John, very much I like thee," she
whispered faintly.

Then before he could reply she uncovered her blushing face and cried
out, "Let us go and gather plants; let us hurry."

And so went they, John and Kasya. The radiance of love surrounded
them, but these simple children of nature dared not speak of it. They
felt it, although they knew not what they felt; they were embarrassed
but happy. Never before had the forest sung so wonderfully over their
heads, never was the wind so sweet and caressing, never at any time
had the noises of the forest, the rustling of the breeze in the trees,
the voices of the birds, the echoes of the woods, seemed to merge into
such an angelic choir, so sweet and grand, as at this moment, full of
unconscious happiness.

Oh, holy power of love! how good an angel of light thou art, how rosy
an aureole in the dusk, how bright a rainbow on the cloud of human

Meanwhile, in the woods resounded echoes from pine to pine, the
barking of the dog, Burek, who had escaped from the house and ran on
the pathway after Kasya. He came panting heavily, and with great joy
he jumped with his big paws on Kasya and John, and looked from one to
the other with his wise and mild eyes, as if wishing to say:

"I see that you love one another; this is good."

He wagged his tail and ran quickly ahead of them, then circled round
to them, then stopped, barked once more with joy, and rushed into the
woods, looking back from time to time on the boy and girl.

Kasya put her hand to her forehead, and looking upward upon the bright
sun between the leaves she said:

"Just think, the sun is two hours beyond noontime and we have not yet
gathered any plants. Go thou, John, to the left side and I shall go
the right, and let us begin. We should hasten, for the dear Lord's

They separated and went into the woods, but not far from one another
and in a parallel direction, so that they could see each other. Among
the ferns between the pine trees could be seen fluttering the
vari-colored skirt and yellow kerchief of Kasya. The slender, supple
maiden seemed to float amid the berry-laden bushes, mosses and ferns.
You would say it was some fairy _wila_ or _rusalka_ of the woods;
every moment she stooped and stood erect again, and so, further and
further, passing the pine trees, she entered deeper into the forest as
some spritely nymph.

Sometimes the thick growth of young hemlocks and cedars would conceal
her from view, then John stopped, and putting his hand to his mouth
would shout, "Halloo! Halloo!"

Kasya heard it; she stopped with a smile, and pretending that she did
not see him, answered in a high, silvery voice:


The echo answers:

"John! John!"

Meanwhile Burek had espied a squirrel up a tree, and, standing before
it looking upward, barked. The squirrel sitting on a branch covered
herself with her tail in a mocking manner, lifted her forepaws to her
mouth and rubbed her nose, seemed to play with her forefingers, make
grimaces, and laugh at the anger of Burek. Kasya, seeing it, laughed
with a resounding, silvery tone, and so did John, and so the woods
were filled with the sound of human voices, echoes, laughter and sunny

Sometimes there was a deep silence, and then the woods seemed to
speak; the breeze struck the fronds of the ferns, which emitted a
sharp sound; the trunks of the pines swayed and creaked, and there was
silence again.

Then could be heard the measured strokes of the woodpecker. It seemed
as if some one kept knock--knocking at a door, and you could even
expect that some mysterious voice would ask:

"Who is there?"

Again, the wood thrush was whistling with a sweet voice; the
golden-crowned hammer plumed his feathers. In the thicket the
pheasants clucked and the bright green humming birds flitted between
the leaves; sometimes on the top of the pine tree a crow, hiding
itself from the heat of the sun, lazily flapped its wings.

On this afternoon the weather was most clear, the sky was cloudless,
and above the green canopy of the leaves there spread out the blue
dome of the heavens--immense, limitless, transparently gray-tinted on
the sides and deep blue above. In the sky stood the great golden sun;
the space was flooded with light; the air was bright and serene, and
far-off objects stood out distinctly, their forms clearly defined.
From the height of heaven the eye of the great Creator embraced the
whole earth; in the fields the grain bowed to Him with a golden wave,
rustled the heavy heads of the wheat, and the delicate tasseled oats
trembled like a cluster of tiny bells. In the air, filled with
brightness here and there, floated the spring thread of the spider's
web, blue from the azure of the sky and golden from the sun, as if a
veritable thread from the loom of the Mother of God.

In the vales between the fields of the waving grain stood dark-green
meadows; here and there were crystal springs, around whose edges the
grass was greener still; the whole meadows were sprinkled with yellow
buttercups and dandelions which struck the eye with a profusion of
golden brightness. In the wet places there thrived cypress trees,
which had an air of coldness and moisture.

In the woods among the pine trees there were now both heat and
silence. It seemed as if a dreamy stillness enveloped the whole world.
Not a breath of wind stirred; the trees, grain, and grass were
motionless. The leaves hung on the trees as if rocked to sleep; the
birds had ceased their noises, and the moment of rest had come. But
this rest seemed to come from an ineffable sweetness, and all nature
seemed to meditate. Only the great expanse of heaven seemed to smile,
and somewhere, high in the unknowable depths of its blue, the great
and beneficent God was glad with the gladness of the fields, the
woods, the meadows, and the waters.

Kasya and John were still busy in the woods collecting herbs, laughing
gleefully and speaking to each other joyfully. Man is as artless as a
bird; he will sing when he can, for this is his nature. John now began
to sing a simple and touching song.

As Kasya and John sang in unison the last refrain of the song ended
mournfully, and as if in accompaniment the echo repeated it in the
dark depths of the woods; the pines gave resonance as the words ran
between their trunks and died away in the far distance like a sigh,
less distinct, light, ethereal; then silence.

Later Kasya sang a more cheerful song, beginning with the words:

  "I shall become a ring of gold now."

This is a good song. A willful young girl quarrels with her lover and
enumerates the means she intends to use to escape from him. But it is
useless. When she says that she will be a golden ring and will roll
away on the road, he says that he will quickly see and recover her.
When she wants to be a golden fish in the water he sings to her of the
silken net; when she wants to be a wild fowl on the lake he appears
before her as a hunter. At last the poor maiden, seeing she is unable
to hide herself from him on the earth, sings:

  "I shall become a star in heaven,
  Light to earth by will be given.
  My love to thee I shall not render,
  Nor my sweet will to thee surrender."

But the undaunted youth answers:

  "Then shall I pray to the saint's grace
  That the star may fall from its heavenly place.
  Thy love to me thou then wilt render,
  And thy sweet will to me surrender."

The maiden, seeing there is no refuge either in heaven or on earth for
her, accepts the view of Providence and sings:

  "I see, I see, fate's decree doth bind me;
  Where'er I hide, thou sure wilt find me.
  My love to thee I must now render,
  And my sweet will to thee surrender."

John, turning to Kasya, said:

"Do you understand?"

"What, John?"

He began to sing:

  "Thy love to me thou must now render,
  And thy sweet will to me surrender."

Kasya was troubled, and laughed loudly to cover her confusion; and
wishing to speak, she said:

"I have gathered a large lot of plants; it would be well to dip them
in water, for in this heat they will wither."

Verily the heat was great; the wind had entirely ceased. In the woods,
though in the shade, the air vibrated with moist heat, the pines
exuding a strong, resinous odor. The delicate, golden-tinted face of
Kasya was touched with perspiration, and her blue eyes showed traces
of weariness. She removed the kerchief from her head, and began to fan
herself. John, taking the basket from her, said:

"Here, Kasya, stand two aspen trees, and between them a spring. Come,
let us drink."

Both went. After a short interval they noticed that the ground of the
forest began to slope here. Among the trees, instead of bushes, ferns
and dry mosses, there was a green, damp turf, then one aspen tree,
then another, and after them whole rows. They entered into this dark,
humid retreat, where the rays of the sun, passing through the leaves,
took on their color and reflected on the human face a pale green
light. John and Kasya descended lower and lower into the shadows and
dampness; a chilliness breathed upon them, refreshing after the heat
of the woods; and in a moment, between the rows of the aspen trees,
they espied in the black turf a deep stream of water winding its way
under and through canes and bushy thickets, and interspersed with the
large, round leaves of the water-lilies, which we call "_nenufars_,"
and by the peasants are called "white flowers."

Beautiful was this spot, quiet, secluded, shady, even somewhat sombre
and solemn. The transparent stream of water wound its way between the
trees. The _nenufars_, touched by the light movement of the water,
swayed gently backward and forward, leaning toward each other as if
kissing. Above their broad leaves, lying like shields on the surface
of the water, swarmed indigo-colored insects with wide, translucent,
sibilant wings, so delicate and fragile that they are justly called
water-sprites. Black butterflies, with white-edged, mournful wings,
rested on the sharp, slender tops of the tamarack. On the dark turf
blossomed blue forget-me-nots. On the edge of the stream grew some
alder trees, and under the bushes peeped out heads of the
lily-of-the-valley, bluebells and honeysuckles. The white heads of the
_biedrzenica_ hung over the waters; the silvery threads of the
_strojka_ spread out upon the current of the stream and weaved
themselves into thin and long strands; besides--seclusion--a wild
spot, forgotten by men, peaceful, peopled only with the world of
birds, flowers and insects.

In such places generally dwell nymphs, _rusalki_, and other bad or
good forest sprites. Kasya, who was in advance, stood first on the
banks of the stream and looked upon the water in which was reflected
her graceful form. She verily appeared as one of those beautiful
forest spirits as they are seen sometimes by the woodsmen or lumber
men who float on their rafts down the rivers through the woods. She
had no covering upon her head, and the wind gently played with her
locks and ruffled her ray-like hair. Sunburned she was, blond-haired,
and her eyes, as blue as turquoise, were as laughing as her lips.
Besides, she was a divinely tall, slender, and fairy-like maiden. No
one could swear, if she was suddenly startled, that she would not jump
into the water--would not dissolve into mist--into rainbow rays--would
not turn quickly into a water-lily or _kalina_ tree, which, when
robbed of its flowers, remonstrates with a voice so human, yet
recalling the sigh of the forest:

"Don't touch me."

Kasya, bending over the water so that her tresses fell on her
shoulders, turned toward John and said:

"How shall we drink?"

"As birds," answered John, pointing to some silver pheasants on the
opposite side of the stream.

John, who knew how to help himself better than the birds, plucked a
large leaf from a tree, and, making a funnel out of it, filled it with
water and gave it to Kasya.

They both drank, then Kasya gathered some forget-me-nots, and John
with his knife made a flute from the willow bark, on which, when he
had finished, he began to play the air which the shepherds play in the
eventide on the meadows. The soft notes floated away with ineffable
tenderness in this secluded spot. Shortly he removed the flute and
listened intently as if to catch an echo returning from the aspen
trees, and it seemed that the clear stream, the dark aspen trees, and
the birds hidden in the canes listened to these notes with him.

All became silent, but shortly, as if in answer--as if a
challenge--came the first faint note of the nightingale, followed by a
stronger trill. The nightingale wanted to sing--it challenged the

Now he began to sing. All nature was listening to this divine singer.
The lilies lifted their heads above the water; the forget-me-nots
pressed closer together; the canes ceased to rustle; no bird dared to
peep except an unwise and absent-minded cuckoo, who with her silent
wing alighted near by on a dry bough, lifted her head, widely opened
her beak, and foolishly called aloud:

"Cuckoo! cuckoo!"

Afterward it seemed as if she was ashamed of her outbreak, and she
quietly subsided.

Vainly Kasya, who stood on the edge of the stream with the
forget-me-nots in her hand, turned to the side from whence came the
voice of the cuckoo and queried:

"Cuckoo, blue-gray cuckoo, how long shall I live?"

The cuckoo answered not.

"Cuckoo, shall I be rich?"

The cuckoo was silent.

Then John: "Cuckoo, gray cuckoo, how soon will I wed?"

The cuckoo replied not.

"She cares not to answer us," said John; "let us return to the

On returning they found the large stone by which they had placed the
basket and bunches of herbs. Kasya, seating herself beside it, began
to weave garlands, and John helped her. Burek lay near them, stretched
his hairy forepaws, lolled out his tongue and breathed heavily from
fatigue, looking carefully around to see if he could not spy some
living thing to chase and enjoy his own noise. But everything in the
woods was quiet. The sun was traveling toward the west, and through
the leaves and the needles of the pines shot his rays, becoming more
and more red, covering the ground of the woods in places with great
golden circles. The air was dry; in the west were spreading great
shafts of golden light, which flooded all like an ocean of molten gold
and amber. The wondrous beauties of the peaceful, warm spring evening
were glowing in the sky. In the woods the daily work was gradually
ceasing. The noise of the woodpecker had stopped; black and bronzed
ants returned in rows to their hills, which were red in the rays of
the setting sun. Some carried in their mouths pine needles and some
insects. Among the herbs here and there circled small forest bees,
humming joyfully as they completed their last load of the sweet
flower-dust. From the fissures in the bark of the trees came gloomy
and blind millers; in the streams of the golden light circled swarms
of midgets and gnats scarcely visible to the eye; mosquitoes began
their mournful song. On the trees the birds were choosing their places
for the night; a yellow bird was softly whistling; the crows flapped
their wings, crowding all on one tree and quarreling about the best
places. But these voices were more and more rare, and became fainter;
gradually all ceased, and the silence was interrupted by the evening
breeze playing among the trees. The poplar tree tried to lift her
bluish-green leaves upward; the king-oak murmured softly; the leaves
of the birch tree slightly moved--silence.

Now the sky became more red; in the east the horizon became dark blue,
and all the voices of the woods merged into a chorus, solemn, deep and
immense. Thus the forest sings its evening song of praise, and says
its prayers before it sleeps; tree speaks to tree of the glory of God,
and you would say that it spoke with a human voice.

Only very innocent souls understand this great and blessed speech.
Only very innocent hearts hear and understand when the first chorus of
the parent oaks begins its strain:

"Rejoice, O sister pines, and be glad. The Lord hath given a warm and
peaceful day, and now above the earth He makes the starry night. Great
is the Lord, and mighty, powerful and good is He, so let there be
glory to Him upon the heights, upon the waters, upon the lands, and
upon the air."

And the pines pondered a moment upon the words of the oaks, and then
they raised their voices together, saying:

"Now, O Lord, to thy great glory, we, as censers, offer to Thee the
incense of our sweet-smelling balsam, strong, resinous and fragrant.
'Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.'"

Then the birches said:

"Thy evening brightness illumines the heavens, O Lord! and in Thy
splendors our small leaves golden are and burning. Now with our golden
leaves we sing to Thee, O Lord, and our delicate twigs play as the
strings of the harp, O good Father of ours!"

Again the sorrowing cypress said:

"Upon our sad foreheads, exhausted with the heat, softly falls the
evening dew. Praise be to Thee, O Lord; brothers and sisters rejoice,
because there falls the cooling dew."

Amid this chorus of trees the aspen alone trembles and is afraid; for
it gave the wood for the Cross of the Saviour of the world; at times
it faintly groans:

"O Lord, have mercy upon me. Have mercy upon me, O Lord."

Again, sometimes, when the oaks and pines cease for a moment, there
rises from under their feet a faint, modest voice, low as the murmur
of insects, silent as silence itself, which says:

"A small berry am I, O Lord, and hidden in the moss. But Thou wilt
hear, discern and love me; though small, devout am I, and sing Thy

Thus every evening prays the forest, and these orchestral sounds rise
at every sunset from earth to heaven--and float high, high, reaching
where there is no creature, where there is nothing only the silvery
dust and the milky way of the stars, and above the stars--God.

At this moment the sun hides his radiant head in the far-distant seas;
the farmer turns upward his plowshares and hastens to his cottage.
From the pastures return the bellowing herds; the sheep raise clouds
of the golden dust. The twilight falls; in the village creek the well
sweeps; later the windows shine, and from the distance comes the
barking of the dogs.

The sun had not gone beyond the woods when Kasya had seated herself
under the mossy stone to weave her garlands. Its rays were thrown upon
her face, broken by the shadows of the leaves and twigs. The work did
not proceed rapidly, for Kasya was tired from heat and running in the
woods. Her sunburnt hands moved slowly at her work. The warm breeze
kissed her temples and face, and the voices of the forest lulled her
to sleep. Her large eyes became heavy and drowsy; her eyelashes began
to close slowly; she leaned her head against the stone, opened her
eyes once more as a child looking upon the divine beauty of the world;
then the noise of the trees, the rows of the stumps, the ground full
of pine needles, and the skies that could be seen between the branches
all became indistinct, darkened, dissolved, disappeared--and she
smiled and slept. Her head was hidden in a soft shade, but the
covering of her breast shone all rosy and purple. Her soft breathing
lifted her bosom gently; so wonderful and beautiful she looked in this
quiet sleep in the evening rays that John looked upon her as if upon
the image of a saint, glorious with gold, and colored as the rainbow.

Kasya's hands were clinging yet to the unfinished garland of herbs.
She slept with a sleep light and sweet, for she smiled through her
dreams as a child who speaks with the angels. Perhaps she verily
conversed with angels, for pure she was as a child, and had dedicated
her whole day to the service of God by gathering and weaving the
garlands for His temple.

John was sitting by her side, but he did not sleep. His simple breast
could not contain the feelings that arose there; he felt as if his
soul had got wings and was preparing to fly away to the realms of
heaven. He knew not what was happening to him, and he only raised his
eyes to the skies and was motionless; you would say that love had
transfigured him.

Kasya slumbered on, and for a long time they both remained there.
Meanwhile the dusk came. The remnants of the purple light fought with
the darkness. The interior of the woods deepened--became dumb. From
the canes of the lake near the glade with its cottage came the buzzing
of a night beetle.

Suddenly on the other side of the lake from the church rang out the
Angelus bell. Its tones floated on the wings of the evening breeze
over the face of the quiet waters, clear, resonant, and distinct. It
called the faithful to prayer, and also proclaimed: "Rest! Enough of
work and the heat of the day," spoke the bell. "Wrap yourself to sleep
in the wing of God. Come, come ye weary to Him--in Him is joy! Here is
peace! here gladness! here sleep! here sleep! here sleep!"

John took off his hat at the sound of the bell, Kasya shook the sleep
from her eyes, and said:

"The bell rings."

"For the Angel of the Lord."

Both kneeled near by the mossy stone as if before an altar. Kasya
began to pray with a low, soft voice:

"The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,"

"And she conceived by the Holy Ghost," answered John.

"Behold the handmaiden of the Lord; may it be done to me according to
Thy word."

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus kneeling, prayed these children of God. The silent summer
lightning shone from the east to the west, and upon its light flew
down from heaven a radiant host of winged angels, and hovered above
their heads. Then they blended with the angels and were themselves as
if angels, for upon earth there were no two souls more bright, more
pure, more innocent.


The last days of autumn in Anaheim, a town situated in Southern
California, are days of joy and celebration. The grape gathering is
finished and the town is crowded with the vineyard hands. There is
nothing more picturesque than the sight of these people, composed
partly of a sprinkling of Mexicans, but mainly of Cahuilla Indians,
who come from the wild mountains of San Bernardino to earn some money
by gathering grapes. They scatter through the streets and market
places, called lolas, where they sleep in tents or under the roof of
the sky, which is always clear at this time of the year. This
beautiful city, surrounded with its growths of eucalyptus, olive,
castor, and pepper trees, is filled with the noisy confusion of a
fair, which strangely contrasts with the deep and solemn silence of
the plains, covered with cacti, just beyond the vineyards. In the
evening, when the sun hides his radiant head in the depths of the
ocean, and upon the rosy sky are seen in its light the equally
rosy-tinted wings of the wild geese, ducks, pelicans and cranes,
descending by the thousands from the mountains to the ocean, then in
the town the lights are lit and the evening amusements begin. The
negro minstrels play on bones, and by the campfires can be heard the
picking of the banjo; the Mexicans dance on an out-spread poncha their
favorite bolero; Indians join in the dance, holding in their teeth
long white sticks of kiotte, or beating time with their hands, and
exclaiming, "E viva;" the fires, fed with redwood, crackle as they
blaze, sending up clouds of bright sparks, and by its reflection can
be seen the dancing figures, and around them the local settlers with
their comely wives and sisters watching the scene.

The day on which the juice from the last bunch of grapes is trampled
out by the feet of the Indians is generally celebrated by the advent
of Hirsch's Circus, from Los Angeles. The proprietor of the circus is
a German, and besides owns a menagerie composed of monkeys, jaguars,
pumas, African lions, one elephant, and several parrots, childish with
age--"_The greatest attraction of the world._" The Cahuilla will give
his last peso, if he has not spent it on drink, to see not only wild
animals--for these abound in the San Bernardino Mountains--but to see
the circus girls, athletes, clowns, and all its wonders, which seem to
him as "a great medicine"--that is, magical feats, impossible of
accomplishment except by the aid of supernatural powers.

Mr. Hirsch, the proprietor of the circus, would be very angry with any
one who would dare to say that his circus only attracted Mexicans,
Indians, and Chinese. Certainly not; the arrival of the circus brings
hither not only the people of the town and vicinity, but even those of
the neighboring towns of Westminster, Orange, and Los Nietos. Orange
Street is crowded with buggies and wagons of divers shapes, so that it
is difficult to get through. The whole world of settlers come as one
man. Young, bright girls, with their hair prettily banged over their
eyes, sitting on the front seats, drive some of these vehicles, and
gracefully upset passing pedestrians, chatter and show their white
teeth; the Spanish senoritas from Los Nietos cover you with their
warm, ardent glances from under their lace mantillas; the married
women from the country, dressed in their latest and best fashions,
lean with pride on the arms of the sunburned farmers, who are dressed
in old hats, jean pants, and flannel shirts, fastened with hook and
eye, and without neckties.

All these people meet and greet each other, gossip, and the women
inspect with critical eye the dresses of their neighbors, to see if
they are "very fashionable."

Among the buggies are some covered with flowers, which look like huge
bouquets; the young men, mounted on mustangs, bend from their high
Mexican saddles and peer under the hats of the young girls; the
half-wild horses, frightened by the noise and confusion, look here and
there with their bloodshot eyes, curvet, rear, and try to unseat their
riders, but the cool riders seem to pay no attention to them.

They all speak of "the greatest attraction," which was about to excel
everything that had been seen before. Truly the flaming posters
announced genuine wonders. The proprietor, Hirsch, that renowned
"artist of the whip," will in the arena give a contest with a fierce,
untamed African lion. The lion, according to the programme, springs
upon the proprietor, whose only defense is his whip. This simple
weapon in his hands (according to the programme) will change itself
into a fiery sword and shield. The end of this whip will sting as a
rattlesnake, flash as lightning, shoot as a thunderbolt, and keep at a
proper distance the enraged monster, who vainly roars and tries to
jump on the artist. This is not the end yet: sixteen-year-old Orso, an
"American Hercules," born of a white father and Indian mother, will
carry around six people, three on each shoulder; besides this, the
management offers one hundred dollars to any man, regardless of color,
who can throw Orso in a wrestling match. A rumor arose in Anaheim that
from the mountains of San Bernardino comes for this purpose the
"Grizzly Killer," a hunter who was celebrated for his bravery and
strength, and who, since California was settled, was the first man who
attacked these great bears single-handed and armed only with a knife.
It is the probable victory of the "Grizzly Killer" over the
sixteen-year-old athlete of the circus that highly excites the minds
of the males of Anaheim, because if Orso, who until now, from the
Atlantic to the Pacific, had overthrown the strongest Americans, will
be defeated, great glory will cover all California. The feminine minds
are not less excited by the following number of the programme: Orso
will carry, on a pole thirty feet high, a small fairy, the "Wonder of
the World," of which the poster says that she is the most beautiful
girl that ever lived on this earth since the beginning of the
"Christian Era." Though she is only thirteen years of age, the
management also offers one hundred dollars to every maiden, "without
regard to color of skin," who will dare to compete and wrest the palm
of beauty from this "Aerial Angel." The maidens of Anaheim, both great
and small, make grimaces on reading this, and say that it would not be
ladylike to enter such a contest. Nevertheless they gladly surrender
the comfort of their rocking chairs rather than miss the show and the
chance of seeing their childish rival, in whose beauty, in comparison
with the sisters Bimpa, for instance, none of them believed. The two
sisters Bimpa, the elder Refugio, and the younger Mercedes, sitting
gracefully in a handsome buggy, are now reading the posters; their
faces show no trace of emotion, though they feel that the eyes of
Anaheim are on them, as if supplicating them to save the honor of the
whole county, and with a patriotic pride, founded upon the conviction
that there is none more beautiful than these two California flowers in
all the mountains and cañons of the whole world. Oh, beautiful indeed
are the sisters Refugio and Mercedes! Not in vain does the pure
Castilian blood flow in their veins, to which their mother constantly
refers, showing her disdain for all colored races, as well as for the

The figures of the sisters are slender, subtle, and full of mysterious
grace, quiet, and so luxurious that they greatly impress all young men
who come near them. From Donnas Refugio and Mercedes exhales a charm
as the fragrance from the magnolia and the lily. Their faces are
delicate, complexions transparent with a slight rosy tint, as if
illumed with the dawn; the eyes dark and dreamy, sweet, innocent, and
tender in their glances. Wrapped in muslin rebosos, they sit in their
buggy adorned with flowers, pure and innocent, unconscious of their
own beauty. Anaheim looked upon them, devoured them with its eyes, was
proud of them, and loved them. Who then is this "Jenny," that can win
victory over these? "Truly," the _Saturday Review_ wrote, "when little
Jenny had climbed to the top of the mast, resting on the powerful
shoulders of Orso, and from this eminence, suspended above the earth,
in danger of death, she outstretched her arms and poised like a
butterfly, the circus became silent and all eyes and hearts followed
with trembling the movements of this wonderful child. That he who saw
her on the mast or on a horse," concluded the _Saturday Review_, "will
never forget her, because the greatest painter in the world, even Mr.
Harvey, of San Francisco, who decorated the Palace Hotel, could paint
nothing equal to it."

The youths of Anaheim who were enamored by the Misses Bimpa were
skeptical of this, and affirmed that it was a "humbug," but this
question will be settled in the evening. Meanwhile, the commotion
around the circus is increasing each moment. From among the long, low
wooden buildings surrounding the canvas circus there comes the roar of
the lions and elephant; the parrots, fastened to rings hanging to the
huts, fill the air with their cries and whistles; the monkeys swing
suspended by their tails or mock the public, who are kept at a
distance by a rope fence. At last, from the main inclosure the
procession emerges for the purpose of whetting and astonishing the
curiosity of the public to a greater extent. The procession is headed
by a gaudy band-wagon, drawn by six prancing horses with fine harness,
and feathers on their heads. The riders on the saddles are in the
costume of French postilions. On the other wagons come cages of lions,
and in every cage is seated a lady with an olive branch in her hand.
Then follows an elephant, covered with a carpet, and a tower on its
back, which contains several men arrayed as East Indian hunters. The
band is playing, the drums are beating, the lions are roaring, the
whips are cracking; in a word, this cavalcade moves forward with great
noise and uproar. But this is not all: behind the elephant there
follows a machine on wheels, with a locomotive pipe, somewhat
resembling an organ, which, blown by steam, emits the most discordant
yells and whistles intended for the national "Yankee Doodle." The
Americans cry "Hurrah!" the Germans, "Hoch!" the Mexicans, "E viva!"
and the Cahuillas howl for joy.

The crowds follow the procession, the place around the circus becomes
deserted, the parrots cease their chatter, and the monkeys their
gymnastics. But "the greatest attractions" do not take part in the
procession. The "incomparable artist of the whip," the manager, the
"unconquerable Orso," and the "Aërial Angel, Jenny," are all absent.
All this is preserved for the evening so as to attract the crowds.

The manager is somewhere in one of the wooden buildings, or looks into
the ticket seller's van, where he pretends to be angry. Orso and Jenny
are in the ring practicing some of their feats. Under its canvas roof
reigns dust and silence. In the distance, where the seats are
arranged, it is totally dark; the greatest part of the light falls
through the roof on the ring, with its sand and sawdust covering. With
the help of the gray light which filters through the canvas can be
seen a horse standing near the parapet. The big horse feels very
lonely, whisks the flies with his tail, and often sways his head.
Gradually the eye, becoming accustomed to the dim light, discerns
other objects--for instance: the mast upon which Orso carries Jenny,
the hoops pasted with paper for her to jump through. All these lie on
the ground without order, and the half-lighted arena and nearly dark
benches give an impression of a deserted building with battened
windows. The terrace of seats, only here and there broken with a stray
glimmer of light, look like ruins. The horse, standing with drooping
head, does not enliven the picture.

Where are Orso and Jenny? One of the rays of light that stream through
an aperture of the canvas, in which floats the golden dust, falls on a
row of distant seats. This body of light, undulating with the swaying
canvas, at last falls upon a group composed of Orso and Jenny.

Orso sits on top of the bench, and near to him is Jenny. Her beautiful
childish face leans against the arm of the athlete and her hand rests
on his neck. The eyes of the girl are lifted upward, as if listening
intently to the words of her companion, who bends over her, moving his
head at times, apparently explaining something.

Leaning as they are against each other, you might take them for a pair
of lovers, but for the fact that the girl's uplifted eyes express
strong attention and intense thought, rather than any romantic
feeling, and that her legs, which are covered with pink fleshings, and
her feet in slippers, sway to and fro with a childish abandon. Her
figure has just begun to blossom into maidenhood. In everything Jenny
is still a child, but so charming and beautiful that, without
reflecting upon the ability of Mr. Harvey, who decorated the Palace
Hotel, of San Francisco, it would be difficult even for him to imagine
anything to equal her. Her delicate face is simply angelic; her large,
sad blue eyes have a deep, sweet and confiding expression; her dark
eyebrows are penciled with unequaled purity on her forehead, white and
reposeful as if in deep thought, and the bright, silky hair, somewhat
tossed, throws a shadow on it, of which, not only Master Harvey, but a
certain other painter, named Rembrandt, would not have been ashamed.
The girl at once reminds you of Cinderella and Gretchen, and the
leaning posture which she now maintains suggests timidity and the need
of protection.

Her posture, which strongly reminds you of those of Greuz, contrasts
strangely with her circus attire, composed of a short, white muslin
skirt, embroidered with small silver stars, and pink tights. Sitting
in a golden beam of light with the dark, deep background, she looks
like some sunny and transparent vision, and her slender form contrasts
with the square and sturdy figure of the youth.

Orso, who is dressed in pink tights, appears from afar as if he were
naked, and the same ray of light distinctly reveals his immense
shoulders, rounded chest, small waist, and legs too short in
proportion to the trunk.

His powerful form seems as if it were hewn out with an ax. He has all
the features of a circus athlete, but so magnified that they make him
noticeable; besides, his face is not handsome. Sometimes, when he
raises his head, you can see his face, the lines of which are regular,
perhaps too regular, and somewhat rigid, as if carved from marble. The
low forehead, with the hair falling on it, like the mane of a horse,
straight and black, inherited from his squaw mother, gives to his face
a gloomy and threatening expression. He has a similarity to both the
bull and the bear, and he personifies a terrible and somewhat evil
force. He is not of a good disposition.

When Jenny passes by the horses, those gentle creatures turn their
heads and look at her with intelligent eyes, and neigh and whinny, as
if wishing to say: "How do you do, darling?" while at the sight of
Orso they shudder with fear. He is a reticent and gloomy youth. Mr.
Hirsch's negroes, who are his hostlers, clowns, minstrels, and
rope-walkers, do not like Orso and tease him as much as they dare, and
because he is half-Indian they think nothing of him, and plague and
mock him. Truly, the manager, who offers the hundred dollars to any
one who can defeat him, does not risk much; he dislikes and fears him,
as the tamer of the wild animals fears a lion, and whips him on the
slightest provocation.

Mr. Hirsch feels that, if he does not keep the youth in subjection by
constantly beating him, he will be beaten himself, and he follows the
principle of the Creole woman, who considered beating a punishment,
and no beating a reward.

Such was Orso. Recently he began to be less sullen, because little
Jenny had a good influence over him. It happened about a year ago that
when Orso, who was then the attendant of the wild animals, was
cleaning the cage of the puma, the beast put its paws through the bars
of the cage and wounded his head severely. Then he entered the cage,
and after a terrible fight between them, he alone remained alive. But
he was so badly hurt that he fainted from loss of blood. He was ill a
long time, which was greatly aggravated by a severe whipping which the
manager gave him for breaking the spine of the puma.

When he was ill Jenny took great care of him, and dressed his wounds,
and when she had leisure, read the Bible to him. That is a "good book"
which speaks of love, of forgiveness, of mercy--in a word, of things
that are never mentioned in Mr. Hirsch's circus. Orso, listening to
this book, pondered long in his Indian head and at last came to the
conclusion that if it would be as good in the circus as in this book,
perhaps he would not be so bad. He thought also that then he would not
be beaten so often, and some one would be found who would love him.
But who? Not negroes and not Mr. Hirsch; little Jenny, whose voice
sounded as sweetly in his ears as the voice of the mavis, might be the

One evening, under the influence of this thought, he began to weep and
kiss the small hands of Jenny, and from this time on he loved her very
much. During the performance in the evening, when Jenny was riding a
horse, he was always in the ring and carefully watching over her to
prevent any accident. When he held the paper hoops for her to jump
through he smiled on her; when to the sound of the music be balanced
her on the top of the high mast, and the audience was hushed with
fright, he felt uneasy himself. He knew very well if she should fall
that no one from the "good book" would be left in the circus; he never
removed his eyes from her, and the evident caution and anxiety
expressed in his movements added to the terror of the people. Then,
when recalled into the ring by the storm of applause, they would run
in together, he would push her forward, as if deserving of all the
praise, and murmur from joy. This reticent youth spoke only to Jenny,
and to her alone he opened his mind. He hated the circus and Mr.
Hirsch, who was entirely different from the people in the "good book."
Something always attracted him to the edge of the horizon, to the
woods and plains. When the circus troupe in their constant wanderings
chanced to pass through wild, lonely spots, he heard voices awakening
the instincts of a captive wolf, who sees the woods and plains for the
first time. This propensity he inherited not only from his mother, but
also from his father, who had been a frontiersman. He shared all his
hopes with Jenny, and often narrated to her how fully and untrammeled
live the people of the plains. Most of this he guessed or gleaned from
the hunters of the prairies, who came to the circus with wild animals
which they had captured for the menagerie, or to try their prowess for
the hundred-dollar prize.

Little Jenny listened to these Indian visions, opening widely her blue
eyes and falling into deep reveries. For Orso never spoke of going
alone to the desert; she was always with him, and it was very good for
them there. Every day they saw something new; they possessed all they
needed, and it seemed right to make all their plans carefully.

So now they sit in this beam of light, talking to each other, instead
of practicing and attempting new feats. The horse stands in the ring
and feels lonely. Jenny leans on Orso's arm, thoughtfully
contemplating and looking with wistful, wondering eyes into the dim
space, swinging her feet like a child and musing--how it will be on
the plains, and asking questions from Orso.

"How do they live there?" says she, raising her eyes to the face of
her friend.

"There is plenty of oaks. They take an ax and build a house."

"Well," says Jenny, "but until the house is built?"

"It is always warm there. The 'Grizzly Killer' says it is very warm."

Jenny begins to swing her feet more lively, as if the warmth there has
settled the question in her mind; but shortly she remembers that she
has in the circus a dog and a cat, and that she would like to take
them with her. She calls her dog Mister Dog and her cat Mister Cat.

"And will Mr. Dog and Mr. Cat go with us?"

"They will," answers Orso, looking pleased.

"Will we take with us the 'good book'?"

"We will," says Orso, still more pleased.

"Well," says the girl in her innocence, "Mr. Cat will catch birds for
us; Mr. Dog will drive away bad people with his bark; you will be my
husband and I will be your wife, and they will be our children."

Orso feels so happy that he cannot speak, and Jenny continues:

"There, there will be no Mr. Hirsch, no circus, we will not work, and
basta! But no!" she adds a moment later, "the 'good book' says that we
should work, and I sometimes will jump through one--through the two
hoops, the three, the four hoops."

Jenny evidently does not imagine work under any other form than
jumping through hoops.

Shortly she says again:

"Orso, will I indeed be always with you?"

"Yes, Jen, for I love you very much."

His face brightens as he says so, and becomes almost beautiful.

And yet he does not know himself how dear to him has become this small
bright head.

He has nothing else in this world but her, and he watches her as the
faithful dog guards his mistress. By her fragile side he looks like
Hercules, but he is unconscious of this.

"Jen," says he after a moment, "listen to what I tell you."

Jenny, who shortly before had got up to look at the horse, now turns
and, kneeling down before Orso, puts her two elbows on his knees,
crosses her arms and, resting her chin on her wrists, uplifts her face
and is all attention.

At this moment, to the consternation of the children, the "artist of
the whip" enters the ring in a very bad humor, because his trial with
a lion had entirely failed.

This lion, who was bald from old age, desired only to be let alone,
had no inclination to attack the "artist," and hid himself from the
lash of the whip in a far corner of the cage. The manager thought with
despair that if this loyal disposition remained with the lion until
the evening the contest with the whip would be a failure; for to fight
a lion who slinks away needs no more art than to eat a lobster from
his tail. The bad temper of the proprietor became still worse when he
learned from the ticket seller that he was disposing of no seats in
the "gods;" that the Cahuillas evidently had spent all their money
that they had earned in the vineyards for drinks, and that they came
to his window and offered their blankets, marked "U. S.," or their
wives, especially the old ones, in exchange for tickets of admission.
The lack of money among the Cahuillas was no small loss for the
"artist of the whip;" for he counted on a "crowded house," and if the
seats in the "gods" were not sold no "crowded house" was obtainable;
therefore the manager wished at this moment that all the Indians had
but one back, and that he might give an exhibition of his skill with
the whip on that one back, in the presence of all Anaheim. Thus he
felt as he entered the ring, and seeing the horse standing idle under
the parapet, he felt like jumping with anger. Where are Orso and
Jenny? Shading his eyes with his hand he looked all around the circus,
and observed in a bright beam, Orso, and Jenny kneeling before him
with her elbows resting on his knees. At this sight he let the lash of
his whip trail on the ground.


If lightning had struck in the midst of the children they could not
have been more startled. Orso jumped to his feet and descended in the
passageway between the benches with the hasty movement of an animal
who comes to his master at his call; behind him followed Jenny with
eyes wide open from fright, and clutching the benches as she passed

Orso, on entering the ring, stopped by the parapet, gloomy and silent,
the gray light from above bringing into relief his Herculean trunk
upon its short legs.

"Nearer," cried out the manager in a hoarse voice; meanwhile the lash
of his long whip moved upon the sand with a threatening motion, like
the tail of a tiger watching his approaching prey.

Orso advanced several steps, and for a few minutes they looked into
each other's eyes. The manager's face resembled that of the tamer who
enters the cage, intending to subdue a dangerous animal, and at the
same time watches it.

His rage overcame his caution. His legs, incased in elk riding
breeches and high boots, pranced under him with anger. Perhaps it was
not the idleness alone of the children which increased his rage.
Jenny, from above, looked at both of them like a frightened hare
watching two lynxes.

"Hoodlum! dog catcher, thou cur!" hissed the manager.

The whip with the velocity of lightning whistled through the air in a
circle, hissed and struck. Orso winced and howled a little, and
stepped toward the manager, but the second stroke stopped him at once,
then the third, fourth--tenth. The contest had begun, although there
was no audience. The uplifted hand of the "great artist" scarcely
moved, but his wrist revolved, as if a part of some machinery, and,
with each revolution, the sharp point of the lash stung the skin of
Orso. It seemed as if the whip, or rather its poisonous fang, filled
the whole space between the athlete and the manager, who in his
increasing excitement reached the genuine enthusiasm of the artist.
The "master" simply improvised. The cracking end flashing in the air
twice had written down its bloody trace on the bare neck of the
athlete. Orso was silent in this dance. At every cut he stepped one
step forward and the manager one step backward. In this way they
circled the arena, and at last the manager backed out of the ring as a
conqueror from the cage, and disappeared through the entrance to the
stables, still as the conqueror. As he left his eye fell on Jenny.

"Get on your horse," he cried; "I will settle with you later."

His voice had scarcely ceased before her white skirt flashed in the
air, and in a moment she was on the back of the horse. The manager had
disappeared, and the horse began to gallop around the ring,
occasionally striking the side with its hoofs.

"Hep! Hep!" agitatedly said Jenny to the horse with her childish
voice: "Hep! hep!" but this "hep, hep," was at the same time a sob.
The horse increased his speed, clattering with his hoofs as he leaned
more and more to the center. The girl, standing on the pad with her
feet close together, seemed scarcely to touch it with the ends of her
toes; her bare rosy arms rose and fell as she maintained her balance;
her hair and light muslin dress floated behind her supple figure,
which looked like a bird circling in the air.

"Hep! hep!" she kept exclaiming. Meanwhile her eyes were filled with
tears, and to see she had to raise her head; the movement of the horse
made her dizzy; the terrace of seats and the ring seemed to revolve
around her; she wavered once, twice, and then fell down into the arms
of Orso.

"Oh! Orso, poor Orso!" cried the child.

"What's the matter, Jen? why do you cry? I don't feel the pain, I
don't feel it."

Jenny threw both her arms around his neck and began to kiss his
cheeks. Her whole body trembled, and she sobbed convulsively.

"Orso, oh, Orso," she sobbed, for she could not speak, and her arms
clung closer to his neck. She could not have cried more if she had
been beaten herself. So, in the end, he began to pet and console her.
Forgetting his own pain he took her in his arms and pressed her to his
heart, and his nerves being excited by the beating, he now felt for
the first time that he loved her more than the dog loved his mistress.
He breathed heavily, and his lips panted out the words:

"I feel no pain. When you are with me, I am happy, Jenny, Jenny!"

When this was transpiring the manager was walking in the stables,
foaming with rage. His heart was filled with jealousy. He saw the girl
on her knees before Orso; recently this beautiful child had awakened
the lower instincts in him, but as yet undeveloped, and now he fancied
that she and Orso loved each other, and he felt revengeful, and had a
wild desire to punish her--to whip her soundly. This desire he could
not resist. Shortly he called to her.

She at once left Orso, and in a moment had disappeared in the dark
entrance to the stables. Orso stood stupefied, and instead of
following her he walked with unsteady steps to a bench, and, seating
himself, began to breathe heavily.

When the girl entered the stables she could see nothing, as it was
much darker there than in the ring. Yet, fearing that she would be
suspected of having delayed her coming, she cried out in a faint

"I am here, master, I am here."

At the same moment the hand of the manager caught hers, and he
hoarsely said:


If he had shown anger or badly scolded her she would have felt less
frightened than at this silence with which he led her to the circus
wardrobe. She hung back, resisting him, and repeating quickly:

"Oh, dear Mr. Hirsch, forgive me! forgive me!"

But forcibly he dragged her to the long room where they stored their
costumes, and turned the key in the door.

Jenny fell down on her knees. With uplifted eyes and folded hands,
trembling as a leaf, the tears streaming down her cheeks, she tried to
arouse his mercy; in answer to her supplications, he took from the
wall a wire whip, and said:

"Lie down."

With despair she flung herself at his feet, nearly dying from fright.
Every nerve of her body quivered; but vainly she pressed her pallid
lips to his polished boots. Her alarm and pleading seemed to arouse
the demon in him more than ever. Grasping her roughly, he threw her
violently on a heap of dresses, and in an instant, after trying to
stop the kicking of her feet, he began beating her cruelly.

"Orso! Orso!" she shouted.

About this moment the door shook on its hinges, rattled, creaked and
gave way, and half of it, pushed in with a tremendous force, fell with
a crash upon the ground.

In this opening stood Orso.

The wire whip fell from the hand of the manager, and his face became
deadly pale, because Orso looked ferocious. His eyes were bloodshot,
his lips covered with foam, his head inclined to one side like a
bull's, and his whole body was crouched and gathered, as if ready to

"Get out!" cried the manager, trying to hide his fear behind a show of

The pent-up dam was already broken. Orso, who was usually as obedient
to every motion as a dog, this time did not move, but leaning his head
still more to one side, he moved slowly and threateningly toward the
"artist of the whip," his iron muscles taut as whipcords.

"Help! help!" cried the manager.

They heard him.

Four brawny negroes from the stables ran in through the broken door
and fell upon Orso. A terrible fight ensued, upon which the manager
looked with chattering teeth. For a long time you could see nothing
but a tangled mass of dark bodies wrestling with convulsive movements,
rolling on the ground in a writhing heap; in the silence which
followed sometimes was heard a groan, a snort, loud short breathing,
the gritting of teeth.

In a moment one of the negroes, as if by a superhuman force, was sent
from this formless mass, whirling headlong through the air, and fell
at the feet of the manager, striking his skull with great force on the
ground; soon a second flew out; then from the center of this turbulent
group Orso's body alone arose, covered with blood and looking more
terrible than before. His knees were still pressing heavily on the
breasts of the two fainting negroes. He arose to his feet and moved
toward the manager.

Hirsch closed his eyes.

The next moment he felt that his feet had left the ground, that he was
flying through the air--then he felt nothing; his whole body was
dashed with monstrous force into the remaining half of the door, and
he fell to the earth unconscious.

Orso wiped his face, and, coming over to Jenny, said:

"Let us go."

He took her by the hand and they went.

The whole town was following the circus procession and the steam
calliope, playing "Yankee Doodle," and the place around the circus was
deserted. The parrots only, swinging in their hoops, filled the air
with their cries. Hand in hand, Orso and Jenny went forward; from the
end of the street could be seen the immense plains, covered with
cacti. Silently they passed by the houses, shaded by the eucalyptus
trees; then they passed the slaughter-houses, around which had
gathered thousands of small black birds with red-tipped wings. They
jumped over the large irrigation ditches, entered into an orange
grove, and on emerging from it found themselves among the cacti.

This was the desert.

As far as the eye could reach these prickly plants rose higher and
higher; thick leaves growing from other leaves obstructed the path,
sometimes catching on Jenny's dress. In places they grew to such a
great height that the children seemed to be as much lost here as if
they were in the woods, and no one could find them there. So they kept
threading their way through them, now to the right and then to the
left, but careful always to go from the town. Sometimes between the
cacti they could see on the horizon the blue mountains of Santa Ana.
They went to the mountains. The heat was great. Gray-colored locusts
chirped in the cacti; the sun's rays poured down upon the earth in
streams; the dried-up earth was covered with a network of cracks; the
stiff leaves of the cacti seemed to soften from the heat, and the
flowers were languid and half-wilted. The children proceeded, silent
and thoughtful. But all that surrounded them was so new that they
surrendered themselves to their impressions, and for the moment forgot
even their weariness. Jenny's eyes ran from one bunch of cacti to
another; again she looked to the farther clusters, saying to her

"Is this the wilderness, Orso?"

But the desert did not appear to be deserted. From the farther clumps
came the calling of the male quail, and around sounded the different
murmurs of clucking, of twittering, of the ruffling of feathers: in a
word, the divers voices of the small inhabitants of the plains.
Sometimes there flew up a whole covey of quail; the gaudy-topped
pheasants scattered on their approach; the black squirrels dived into
their holes; the rabbits disappeared in all directions; the gophers
were sitting on their hind legs beside their holes, looking like fat
German farmers standing in their doorway.

After resting an hour the children proceeded on their journey. Jenny
soon felt thirsty. Orso, in whom had awakened his Indian inventive
faculties, began to pluck cactus fruits. They were in abundance, and
grew together with the flowers on the same leaves. In plucking them
they pricked their fingers with the sharp points, but the fruit was
luscious. Their sweet and acid flavor quenched at once their thirst
and appeased their hunger. The prairies fed the children as a mother;
thus strengthened they could proceed further. The cacti arose higher,
and you could say that they grew on the head of one another. The
ground on which they walked ascended gradually and continuously.
Looking backward once more they saw Anaheim, dissolving in the
distance and looking like a grove of trees upon the low plains. Not a
trace of the circus could be distinguished. They still pressed
steadily onward to the mountains, which now became more distinct in
the distance. The surroundings assumed another phase. Between the
cacti appeared different bushes and even trees; the wooded portion of
the foothills of Santa Ana had commenced. Orso broke one of the
saplings, and, clearing off its branches, made a cudgel of it, which,
in his hands, would prove a terrible weapon. His Indian instincts
whispered to him that in the mountains it was better to be provided,
even with a stick, than to go unarmed, especially now that the sun had
lowered itself into the west. Its great fiery shield had rolled down
far beyond Anaheim, into the blue ocean. After a while it disappeared,
and in the west there gleamed red, golden, and orange lights, similar
to ribbons and gauzy veils, stretched over the whole sky. The
mountains uplifted themselves in this glow; the cacti assumed
different fantastical shapes, resembling people and animals. Jenny
felt tired and sleepy, but they still hastened to the mountains,
although they knew not why. Soon they saw rocks, and on reaching them
they discovered a stream; they drank some water and continued along
its course. The rocks, which were at first broken and scattered, then
changed into a solid wall, which became higher and higher, and soon
they entered into a cañon.

The rosy lights died away; deeper and deeper dusk enveloped the earth.
In places immense vines reached from one side of the cañon to the
other, covering it like a roof, and making it dark and uncanny. On the
mountain side, above them, could be heard the voices of the swaying
and creaking forest trees. Orso implied that now they were in the
depths of the wilderness, where certainly there were many wild
animals. From time to time his ear detected suspicious sounds, and
when night fell he distinctly heard the hoarse mewing of the lynxes,
the roar of the pumas, and the melancholy howling of the coyotes.

"Are you afraid, Jen?" asked Orso.

"No," replied the girl.

But she was already very tired, and could proceed no farther, so Orso
took her in his arms and carried her. He went forward with the hope
that he would reach the house of some squatter, or should meet some
Mexican campers. Once or twice it seemed to him that he saw the gleam
of some wild animal's eyes. Then with one hand he pressed Jenny, who
had now fallen asleep, to his breast, and with the other he grasped
his stick. He was very tired himself; notwithstanding his great
strength Jenny began to prove heavy to him, especially as he carried
her on his left arm; the right one he wished to have free for defense.
Occasionally he stopped to regain his breath and then continued on.
Suddenly he paused and listened intently. It seemed to him as if he
heard the echoes of the small bells which the settlers tie for the
night to the neck of their cows and goats. Rushing forward, he soon
reached a bend in the stream. The sound of the bells became more
distinct, and joined with them in the distance was heard the barking
of a dog. Then Orso was sure that he was nearing some settlement. It
was high time that he did, for he was exhausted by the events of the
day, and his strength had begun to fail him. On turning another bend
he saw a light; as he moved forward his quick eyes discerned a
campfire, a dog, evidently tied to a stump, tearing and barking, and
at last the figure of a man seated by the fire.

"God send that this may be a man from the 'good book'!" thought he.

Then he resolved to awaken Jenny.

"Jen!" called he, "awake, we shall eat."

"What is it?" asked the girl; "where are we?"

"In the wilderness."

She was now wide awake.

"What light is that?"

"A man lives there; we shall eat."

Poor Orso was very hungry.

Meanwhile they were nearing the fire. The dog barked more violently,
and the old man, sitting by the fire, shaded his eyes and peered into
the gloom. Shortly he said:

"Who is there?"

"It is us," answered Jenny in her delicate voice, "and we are very

"Come nearer," said the old man.

Emerging from behind a great rock, which had partly concealed them,
they both stood in the light of the fire, holding each other's hands.
The old man looked at them with astonishment, and involuntarily

"What is that?"

For he saw a sight which, in the sparsely populated mountains of Santa
Ana, would astonish any one. Orso and Jenny were dressed in their
circus attire. The beautiful girl, clothed in pink tights and short
white skirt, appearing so suddenly before him, looked in the firelight
like some fairy sylph. Behind her stood the youth with his powerful
figure, covered also with pink fleshings, through which you could see
his muscles standing out like knots on the oak.

The old squatter gazed at them with wide-open eyes.

"Who are you?" he inquired.

The girl, relying more on her own eloquence than on that of Orso,
began to speak.

"We are from the circus, kind sir! Mr. Hirsch beat Orso very much and
then wanted to beat me, but Orso did not let him, and fought Mr.
Hirsch and four negroes, and then we ran off on the plains, and went a
long distance through the cacti, and Orso carried me; then we came
here and are very hungry."

The face of the old man softened and brightened as he listened to her
story, and he looked with a fatherly interest on this charming child,
who spoke with great haste, as if she wished to tell all in one

"What is your name, little one?" he asked.


"Welcome, Jenny! and you, Orso! people rarely come here. Come to me,

Without hesitation the little girl put her arms around the neck of the
old man and kissed him warmly. He appeared to her to be some one from
the "good book."

"Will Mr. Hirsch find us here?" she said, as she took her lips from
his face.

"If he comes he will find a bullet here," replied the old man; then
added, "you said that you wanted to eat?"

"Oh, yes, very much."

The squatter, raking in the ashes of the fire, took out a fine leg of
venison, the pleasant odor of which filled the air. Then they sat down
to eat.

The night was gorgeous; the moon came out high in the heavens above
the cañon; in the thicket the mavis began to sing sweetly; the fire
burned brightly, and Orso was so filled with joy that he chanted with
gladness. Both he and the girl ate heartily. The old man had no
appetite; he looked upon little Jenny, and, for some unknown cause,
his eyes were filled with tears.

Perhaps he had been once a father, or, perhaps, he so rarely saw
people in these deserted mountains.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since then these three lived together.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sielanka: An Idyll" ***

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