The road to happiness

– Slaná (Salty)! This river is called Slaná (Salty)! – I recollected with certainty, sitting on the riverside.  – Are you really salty? – I got down to the river in order to take a sip. It wasn`t. But it was as cold as ice – it even scratched my throat. I ran back to the waterside, looking to the left and to the right – this is the scenery from the picture...! The same little meadow, mountains around, swift river washing the same stones... – But where is the mill?! – my body jerked in surprise. I was dashing along the river to ask someone... when I came to a lovely manor house. It was not particularly high, but it was quite long. I ran around it from all sides when I saw some children... – What is this small village called? – I asked boys who were throwing stones into the little lake. – It`s Vlachovo! – they laughed at the lack of my knowledge. – You can`t be from this place if you don`t even know where you are... – they chuckled.  I ran further so that they wouldn`t poke fun at me, and as I was really tired, I nestled in the high grass in the shadow of a stone wall surrounding a big church. – I`ll be fine here, safe... – I closed my eyes to have forty winks... and there was no sleep! The bells banged deafeningly over my head, swung for the evening hour by an old bell-ringer. – Oooh, and you are...?! I`ve never seen you in the village. Where is your master? – he asked with goodness and tickled my ears. I sprang to my paws. I could sense he was a good man! So I told him everything – that I was seeking happiness, what I`d tried, and that I came to guard Joseph`s mill. – You really are an unusual dog...! – he wondered. – And what is your name? – –Taši it is! – my uncle Tascherl named me like that – after him. – And I am a bell-ringer Andriš. I`ll feed you, and put you up  so you can rest, but to take you to the mill, miller Jospeh and his daughter Hanka...?! By no means! – he added resolutely. – For what reason? – I was taken aback by his reluctance. – Can you see that slope, that hill?! We call it Hankovec for ages. The mill, the one you`re looking for, used to stand opposite it. Come, I`ll tell you a story about the slope, miller and unfortunate Hanka. –   Old Andriš was not only a dexterous bell-ringer, but a good storyteller too. The whole village knew his tales, which he would recount every now and again, but you had to listen carefully in order to remember the moral of each story. – Let`s settle under this old lime tree by the manor house, cuddle up against my feet and pay close attention! – he sat wearily and started talking. – Once upon a time, when this majestic tree was only a small twig, the miller Jospeh was lived by the wild river Slaná. And because it was not only him who worked hard, but his daughter Hanka too, they would make flour and money as well, jingling when put into a sack. – Andriš just rubbed his rough scraped thumb over the tip of his index finger to indicate that  the sound clinking coppers was only known to him by hearsay; and he began: the miller had no one else but his daughter Hanka, so he was amassing the fortune solely for her. – – Are you listening, Taši, or are you dozing off?! – he asked unexpectedly. – I`m so curious that I`m hardly breathing! But I am a little bit hungry... – I confessed.  – Keep it up, when I finish my story, I`ll take you to the old earl ice house and ask the guard for some treat. There`s more than enough meat there! – – Ice house?! What is it, where is it?! – my eyes were popping out, ears pricked up. – Don`t interrupt me, I`m talking about Hankovec right now! These dogs can`t think about anything else but their stomach all the time, not interested in any wise things at all... – Andriš was mumbling. Then he finished his tale: – You know, Taši, you can`t do anything about the man`s or the dog`s destiny. This was also the case of the miller and his Hanka... The Turkish invaded the country. They would plunder, burn down everything, kill people. And they would even capture people – a large number of men and women were taken to the Turkish land. The miller from Vlachovo worried about his mill as well as his daughter... He knew only too well that those pagans might despoil the mill. So he agreed with Hanka on burying the money, which was well in surplus, in a forest. And so it happened. They buried the treasure under a hundred-year-old oak tree. Then the father instructed his daughter: Hanko – that`s what he would call her – I am old, you should know and be aware that anything might happen to me. Remember well where we have hidden the treasure. When the time is right, you`ll come back to take it. And he repeated: Hanko, be aware! The Turkish were plundering indeed – first Dobšiná, then Vlachovo. And they also set fire to the mill. The miller was grief-stricken and heartbroken. And Hanka? She couldn`t even bury her father as she had been taken to the Turkish land. A lot of water had run in the water when she came back to her native village. Without a moment`s hesitation she went directly to the place where the treasure had been buried with the idea of building a new mill by means of it. But she would search for the hundred-year-old oak tree to little avail. There wasn`t a single hint of the tree! It had been torn down by snowstorms. The mountain had changed! It was a futile effort when she would be digging and excavating the ground – she didn`t find the treasure. People say she became insane. And Hanka, resting in the Abraham`s meadow next to her father, would reportedly repeat her father`s words time and again until she died: „Hanko, be aware, Hanko, be aware“! So the forest hillside is called Hankovec until these days. – – You see, Taši, there`s no mill or miller here anymore. There`s no one to be guarded. I have to go now – Andriš stroked me pitifully, but didn`t forget about his promise to take me to the ice house, full of ice and frost. He took me far from the manor house to some glade by the river Slaná. There was a certain strong man in the checked apron warming his hands, as large as shovels, over a steaming kettle – the earl`s servant in charge of supplying meat for the master`s kitchen.   – What kind of guest are you bringing here, Andriš?! Did you come to see the ice house, or were you allured by the smell of goulash? – he said without as much as turning his head. – Look around and come to taste it then! – At first I could see steep steps which led from both the right and the left side to the ancient stone wall with a heavy iron gate in the middle. It looked as if someone had stuck it in the mountain... – Doesn`t the ice house have more walls? – I could imagine myself opening the iron gate behind... nothing but the rock. – Why shouldn`t it, you gullible dog?! –Andriš chuckled in an undertone. – It does, but from the inside! They`re hewn into the rock... – enticing me to convince myself with my own eyes.  At first I opposed... even though curiosity was overcoming me, I didn`t feel like getting into the rock! And the cold?! Brrrr... my teeth were chattering in spite of the fact it was summer... I was just loitering about the iron gate. At last I peered inside. It was some place! The room, as large as a palm, but really deep. I`m looking down... ice blocks shimmering at the bottom... they told me they should be there until next winter. I raised my hand and there – hanging on iron hooks – were large hunks of finest game meat, ducks with green feathers, hares hunted in near forests... It was a bit heartaching to see those God`s creatures, but... – Hunger is hunger, and one needs to eat... doesn`t he? – I`m looking Andriš in his eyes with an inarticulate question. – Yes indeed... – he just nodded and we headed together towards the fire. What kind of work we had there to do I`m not going to tell you, because it would be mouth-watering, you`d have as much saliva as there are waves in this swift river! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gros en > Fairytales > The road to happiness

This project is co-financed by ERDF - „Investing in your future“

ROP Znak SR Vlajka EU KSK

Implementing partner: Košický samosprávny kraj
Website: e-volution, s.r.o.
Fairytales writer: © Štúdio Harmony/Daniela Hroncová-Faklová, Ľubica Škrinárová
fairytales illustrations: © Štúdio Harmony/Róbert Šandor
Realisation 2012