Foltyn’s Drum part 8

Foltyn stood as if thunderstruck. All the blood receded from his face. Horror and fright were depicted in it. He stooped down to the keyhole. Within he beheld the baron wholly changed. In his pale, handsome countenance there was not a single trace of sleepiness, and his dark eyes flashed with passion underneath the thin, proud brows. Uplifting by the chin Marianka’s beautiful face, flushed deep scarlet with shame, he gazed lustfully upon her heaving bosom. Her eyes were cast down, in one hand she held the statuette, in the other the tousled tuft of variegated feathers.

Foltyn put his hands up to his gray head. Anguish contracted his throat. Through his head rushed a whirl of terrible thoughts. Already he had reached for the door-knob, then quickly jerked his hand away. No! To have the baron learn that Marianka’s father had listened to his words, to stand, shamed, and apprehended in an abominable deed before his own servant—no, that must not be! All of Foltyn’s inbo

Foltyn’s Drum part 7

Several days passed. The baroness continued enthusiastic about the delights of country life and devoted herself with great eagerness to the education of Marietta as a lady’s maid. Marietta often stood in front of the mirror wearing the coquettish cap and holding in her soft hand the large tuft of many-colored feathers which the mistress had purchased for her for brushing off the dust.

Often, too, she sat on the low stool, her eyes gazing dreamily somewhere into the distance, where, in imagina-tion, she saw tall buildings, beautifully dressed people, and splendid equipages. Frequently she would bury her head in her hands, and lose herself in deep thought. The baron would sit idly in the easy- chair, smoking and yawning. The steward and his wife rid themselves of all fears of their eminent guests. Beruska made friends with the purple footman, playing “Twenty-six” with him in the office behind closed doors when they lighted their pipes.

Once towards evening t

Foltyn’s Drum part 6

“Here, dear child!” she said to her, agreeably, pointing to the floating cobweb.

The girl bowed awkwardly, and for an instant under her light lashes there was a flash of dark blue as she stepped timidly forward. The brush did not reach the cobweb. She had to step up on her tiptoes. Her entire face flushed with a beautiful red glow, her dark-blue eye lifted itself towards the ceiling, her delicate white throat was in full outline, and below it there appeared among the fringes of the yellow shawl a string of imitation corals on the snowwhite folds of her blouse. Add to this the dainty foot of a princess and acknowledge—it was an alluring picture.

Objectionable had been removed

When all that was objectionable had been removed, the baroness tapped Marianka graciously on the shoulder and asked, “What is your name?”

“Marie Foltynova,” whispered the girl.

“Foltyn? Foltyn? What is your father?”

“The gate-keepe

Foltyn’s Drum part 5

“You might better get a pug-dog, my dear!”

The baroness flashed an angry glance at her husband. Her lips opened to make response to his offensive levity, but she thought better of it. She held the statuette carefully and swished disdainfully past the baron in the direction of a rounded niche in the wall. She was just about to deposit her charming burden when suddenly, as if stung by a serpent, she recoiled and extended a finger towards her husband. The dust of many years accumulated in the niche had left its gray trace.

“Look” she cried.

“Look!” he repeated, pointing towards the ceiling. From the bouquet of fantastic flowers there hung a long, floating cobweb on which an ugly spider was distinctly swinging.

“You wouldn’t listen to my warnings. Well, here you have an intro-duction to that heavenly rural idyll of which you raved.”

The baroness drew down her lips in disgust at the spider and in dis-pleasure at her husb

Foltyn’s Drum part 4

In the carriage sat a gentleman and a lady. He was of middle age, wore elegant black clothes and had a smooth, oval, white face with deep shadows around the eyes. He appeared fatigued and sleepy, and yawned at times. The lady was young, a fresh-looking brunette with a fiery, active glance. She was dressed in light colors and with a sort of humorous, coquettish smile she gazed all around.

When they entered the driveway, where practically all the occupants of the castle welcomed them with respectful curtsies, the dark gentleman fixed his weary, drowsy eyes on old Foltyn who stood in the foreground with loosely hanging mustaches, with endless devotion in his honest blue eyes, and with an expression of contrite grief in his wrinkled face, his patriarchal drum at his hip..

The baron looked intently for a while at this interesting relic of the inheritance from his ancestors, then the muscles of the languid face twitched and his lordship relieved his mood by loud, candi

Foltyn’s Drum part 3

The rooms on the first floor, reserved for the nobility, were filled with superfluous luxury. The spiders, their only occupants, let themselves down on fine threads from the glitteringly colored ceilings to the soft carpets and wove their delicate webs around the ornamentally carved arms of chairs, upholstered in velvet. The officials and servants in the castle knew their masters only by hearsay. They painted them as they could, with ideal colors, to be sure.

From letters, from various rumors carried from one manor to the next, from imagination, they put together pictures of all these personages who, from a distance, like gods, with invisible hands reached out and controlled their destinies. In clear outlines there appeared the images of barons, baronesses, the young baronets and sisters, the maids, nurses, the wrinkled, bewigged proctor, the English governess with a sharp nose, the fat footman, the peculiarities of each were known to them to the minutest detail.

Foltyn’s Drum part 2

When that mysterious sound was followed by no other she doubtless threw a shawl over her gray braids and running to the cottage across the way, met its occupant and read on her lips the same question her own were forming: “What happened to old Foltyn that he finished his afternoon artistic perform-ance with such an unheard of turn?”

It happened thus: If you had stood in Foltyn’s place at the stated moment and if you had had his falcon eyes you would have descried beyond the wood at the turn of the wagon-road some sort of dark object which with magic swiftness approached the village. Later you would have distinguished a pair of horses and a carriage of a type never before seen in those regions.

When the gate-keeper had arrived at this result of his observation, he recovered suddenly from the absolute petrifaction into which he had been bewitched by the appearance of the object and raced as fast as his legs would allow back to the castle.

BeruSka, t

Foltyn’s Drum part 1

Svatopluk Cech (1846—1908)

Cech was educated at various schools in different parts of his native country. After graduating from a gymnasium in Prague he studied law for a little, but eventually turned to journalism, and was editor successively of several of the leading Czech literary journals. He was immensely prolific. Several epic poems, many volumes of verse, novels, essays, and a dozen books of short stories are among his literary achievements.

Foilin’s Drum, translated by Sarka B. Hrbkova, is reprinted by permission of the translator and publisher, from Hrbkova’s Czechoslovak Stories. Copyright, 1920, by Duffield & Co., New York.

Foltyn’s Drum

Old Foltyn hung on his shoulder his huge drum, venerable relic of glorious patriarchal ages, and went out in front of the castle. It seemed as if indulgent time had spared the drummer for the sake of the drum. The tall, bony figure of Foltyn—standing in erect perpendicularity i

Grandfather’s Birthday Present part 6

Just then Henk came in. “Well, where is it?” he asked, with the self- importance of one who had thought of the idea in the first place, and had already paid his share.

“We’ll have to whistle for it,” answered Jet. “That nasty photographer won’t deliver it without his pay.”

“Well—?”

“Well, nothing!” snapped Dirk. “I didn’t have the twenty-seven fifty, so the messenger took it back.”

“Good Lord,” said Henk, “I thought you knew the fellow. You made the arrangements.”

“Can I make the fellow deliver it?” said Dirk. “I went to see him, but he wasn’t in; won’t be back till the afternoon. If you’d paid your share, I wouldn’t have looked such a fool.”

“You can’t tell me,” said Henk, “that if you’d tried—”

“Are you so flush yourself?” replied Dirk heatedly. “Now, if we’d only bought the chair, we wouldn’t have had to take something we hadn’t s

Grandfather’s Birthday Present part 5

In order that the old man should not suspect what they were doing, they walked about in their stocking feet; and in order not to wake him they pinned the decorations with hairpins rather than hammer and nails. Jet and Mary had to go home with their hair down, for they had used up all their hairpins.

Two slices of bread

On the morning of the great festivity, the sun shone bright on the tulle curtains, and so gilded the flowers in the windows that it was impossible not to enter into a holiday mood. On this lovely morning the whole room, gay with bunting and spruce, was indeed overwhelmingly grand. At nine grandfather was given a large cup of tea in bed, with two slices of bread and butter. They had to keep him upstairs until the photograph should arrive at ten. The photographer had promised to deliver it to Dirk’s by that time, and of course he would keep his word.

They were all dressed in their finest. Jet’s Jan was rehearsing to himself the poem