chapter  34
12 Pages

Gábor Német

Once upon a time, in a land far away, beyond the seven seas and beyond the glass mountain, in Gálfalva, there was once a man by the name of András Német. He had a son called Gabor. They were so poor that they did not even have a foot of land, only a tiny parcel on which their small house stood. They were poor but they worked hard and earned their daily bread with their labor. The boy, Gábor, went to school. When he completed the eighth grade, they apprenticed him to a carpenter to learn the trade and the old folks struggled along as best they could.In their village there was a magistrate. His name was Bálint Galambos. He was such a wealthy farmer that he had a hundred acres of land and only one daughter, whose name was Juliska. The girl was very, very beautiful; her mother and father were truly proud of her.(Well, let’s leave the magistrate now.)Meanwhile, Gábor’s father and mother died and he remained all alone. He had finished his training but didn’t have the means to buy the wood-working tools he needed. So he wasn’t able to work at home and instead went to the city to serve as an apprentice. There he received a salary. He was a very, very upstanding lad, had learned his trade well and did nice work-he was liked everywhere.One day he was back at his house; he had buried his mother just a few days before. He was very sad, wondering what would become of him, who would cook for

him when he returned home, who would offer him clean clothes, now that he had no one, only the good Lord above him. He was feeling so despondent, he even wept in his sorrow, yet he was a stouthearted fellow. Lost in his thoughts, he was sitting there on a chair brooding when someone knocked at the door.Gabor said: “Come in!”And whom does he see? In comes Bälint Galambos’s daughter, Juliska.“Good day to you, Gabor!”“Welcome, Juliska,” he answered.“How are you, Gabor? How are you doing, all by yourself?”“Well, you can imagine, Juliska, how I am doing, without a father and a mother. I come home and all I see is four walls.”“That’s why I came, Gabor,” she said, “to cheer you up. I often think about you at home, how lonely you must be and how time must weigh on you now.”“Well, that’s true, Juliska. If only I had a sister who could do my laundry and have a warm meal waiting for me when I come home. But I have no one, only the good Lord above me.”“Oh, I feel for you, Gabor,” she said. “I am sorry for you, and I say to you Gabor, you should take a wife!”Gabor said: “But Juliska, what have I to offer a wife? This pitiful home? I have nothing, so who would want me? No one, for I am a poor lad.”“Look, Gabor, don’t grieve, you have two able hands and you can make a living Get married, take a wife and you’ll have it much easier!”“Now tell me, Juliska,” he said, “whom should I take for a wife? Who would have me, poor as I am?”Said the girl: “I’ll tell you, Gabor. Come to see me in the spinning-room and I’ll marry you, for you may not believe me, but I love you very much.”Gabor answered: “Don’t say that, Juliska. Your father thinks the world of you and he is right. You are his only daughter and you are wealthy. What would he do if I set foot in your house? He wouldn’t even let me say why I came, he would chase me out immediately.”The girl said: “Gabor, don’t be concerned about anyone--just come to our house and if my father says something, let him say it. But be sure to come,” she said, “for I’ll marry you, I want no one else!”She kept prodding him until the lad agreed to go to her house that evening. Well, he promised and Juliska, happy, covered him with kisses.“Don’t be sad, don’t be sad any more!” she tried to comfort him.Gabor got ready, he combed his hair. He was a very handsome lad, only poor. He went to the house and stopped in front of the door. He hesitated-should he go in or not? The magistrate was so wise and so proud that when he met a poor man he didn’t even greet him, nor did he return the other’s greeting. Then how could he appear before the magistrate’s eyes? Still, he remembered how Juliska begged him to come, how she

said she loved him.“I’ll go in, come what may.”First he looked in the window and saw that the magistrate was sitting at the table, alone, smoking a long-stemmed pipe. Juliska and her mother were bustling about in the house.“Oh, well,” he said, “I’ll go in after all. There are no strangers present and even if he berates me, if he insults me, no one will hear it.”He knocked at the door.“Come in,” said the magistrate.Gabor entered: “Good day to you, Mr. Magistrate!”“Good day,” he muttered under his breath, reluctantly.But Juliska called out loud and clear: “Greetings, Gabor, you came to see us?” “Yes, I did.”“Well, since you came, I’ll bring you a chair, sit down,” said Juliska. She stood beside him and asked:“What do you do, Gabor, now that you are all alone at home?”The father just listened.“What do I do? Time hangs a little heavy on my hands, but there is nothing I can do about it.”“Don’t be sad, Gabor, you’ll take a wife and things will be much better.” Suddenly the magistrate spoke up; he began to grumble sitting at the table: “Why did you come here?” he said. “What exactly do you want?”“Well, Mr. Magistrate, I came so that somehow these difficult days would go by more easily. How can they pass, if I don’t go anywhere?”“And you found no other place, you had to come to us? Or, are you perhaps interested in my daughter?”The lad said not a word.“Shame on you to show your face in this house! You wouldn’t mind having a girl with a hundred acres, would you? Do you see the door through which you en­tered?” he asked. “Open it and get out!”Gabor didn’t know what to say. He was embarrassed to go and he was embar­rassed to stay, for the magistrate continued railing at him.“Such a wretch, a beggar, a filthy bum, and he dares to come after my daugh­ ter!” Said the girl: “Dear father, don’t show contempt for the son of any man. He may be poor,” she said, “but he didn’t come to us to ask even for a handful of flour, or a glass of milk. He managed without us until now-he didn’t die. He may be poor, but he is an honest lad, he has two able hands and he earns his livelihood.”When the magistrate heard that the girl took the lad’s side, he became really angry: “Get out of here, you tramp, you good-for-nothing, you louse-get out of here, or I’ll take the gun and blow your brains out!”