Every wander is different...
surrounded by mountains, deep forests, no sight or sound of dwellings, no villages…
– Ha, at last! – tired and weary, I sighed with relief.
Just next to the road, very close: what did I see with my own eyes?!
What beauty! High trees, beautiful flowers and even prettier bushes. Between them, I could see some sort of mysterious, white building nestled in the middle of a green, blossoming garden.
I gathered the last of my strength and walked faster. I stopped at the stunning wall which had tall, white columns and three iron gates. I shook the largest gate but it just wouldn’t open. I then tried a smaller gate - perhaps it was a gate for dogs - and it was! There was something written on the door plate:
- MAU…SO…LE…UM – I could hardly say this funny word. - What could it be? - I slowly walked inside. I found myself in a park right opposite the white building. Nobody anywhere… I trod carefully, quietly, as if everything was asleep, although it was a long time until evening. The path suddenly divided into two…it was immediately clear that it ran around the house from both sides. I couldn’t resist it – I started to run to check.
- Wow! What’s this?! Or who’s this?! – I whistled. Not very loudly, just through my teeth, and I braked so quickly with my tired paws that I made a cloud of white dust. In front of me, or rather opposite me, high on a stone pedestal sat - a dog. Like me but much bigger and at first it appeared older. I stood on my hind legs, looking up to the sky to see the big dachshund and - what did I see?
– That, actually, we’re all the same, - I thought with amazement. I was happy that I might make a friend, but the big dog didn't even notice me. He was just sitting and staring...like he was made of stone!
- Why, you’re so cold, so still…! – I cried … while I’m standing here in pain and dirty and ... and hungry, - I said with shame because my tummy rumbled.
– A loud woof, woof suddenly broke the silence. And then, just imagine, he tickled me behind my ear with his tail. I must admit that I was so scared that my shaking body curled into a ball and I hid my muzzle under my dusty tail.
- Don’t be scared, my nephew, don’t be scared! We are the same breed but you’re only one or two years old and I've been sitting here for decades! - winked the large dog at me, a small dog, and stretched his body which hadn't moved for years. I could hear his bones creaking...
– Who are you? And how come you’ve suddenly come to life? –
– I’m Tascherl, the loyal dog of Earl Dionýz Andrássy and his wife Františka. They were very nice people! They always helped those who needed help the most – mainly orphans. However, they only had one sadness: they didn't have children of their own. But they had me! I remember when I was very small, Madam laughed that I could fit in her pocket. And since in her mother tongue a pocket is called a tasche, I was named Tascherl - he reminisced sadly and howled.
– Since I was loyal to them for my whole life, they made me this beautiful memorial... he added proudly. - Read what's carved in the stone: Loyalty for loyalty. I also stayed loyal to them after death. Here behind these walls, I’ve been guarding their grave for many years… that’s how it is. In this beautiful mausoleum, they are dreaming their eternal dream. But that’s a story for another day. -
– Us two – you and I – are we therefore family? – I returned to the question which worried me most.
– Of course! Can’t you see? You’re a dachshund, I’m a dachshund... just a bit bigger! Paws and tail – we both have the same. And that unusually shaped right ear, it can’t be an accident! This is our birthmark! – explained Tascherl. He suddenly hesitated:– What’s your name? You aren’t saying anything, you’re just shaking. Are you hungry or thirsty or are you cold?! –
– Dear Mr Tascherl, the first, the second and the third. I went to explore the world…, and I don’t even have a name, - I said fearfully. And I really felt like crying.
– Ha, ha… You really want to start crying and whimpering! - laughed Tascherl. - And why do you call me Mister? I'm your great-great-great Uncle Tascherl but you can call me Uncle. And from now on, you, my great-great-great nephew - since you don't have a name - you'll be called Taši. Do you agree? –
– Of course! Who wouldn’t agree? – I was really pleased. I liked my name and Uncle liked it even more. I ran around happily, jumped around the stone pedestal and looked at my strong Uncle with pride and love. I didn’t even notice that evening had fallen.
- Stop jumping and listen carefully! – he said in a very serious voice and turned his head to the nearby hill on which stood the large, white castle. – Have a better look! Didn‘t you notice anything? – he asked with a straight face and his stone eye produced a tear, then another, then a third…
– Do you know, Taši, that not even lightning, nor wars, nor age damaged Krásna Hôrka castle, the famous seat of the Earls of the Andrássy family, as much as the fire which recently burned under the castle hill?! Everything burned - first the dry grass below the castle, then the gates and finally even the roofs...! A real catastrophe! The entire castle almost went up in flames... - Tascherl lowered his head. The night darkness hid his pain which he couldn't fight. His eyes suddenly lit up:
– Pay close attention, Taši, I’ll tell you a real mystery… Not far away there’s an entrance to an underground passage which will lead you safely to the castle. Under its walls you’ll find a secret chamber. This is because even fire isn’t able to damage a fairy-tale chamber! You can find shelter there at any time… - Uncle ushered me away with a loving look. Then he sat back down on his stone pedestal in the park, to sit on his throne for decades to come.
I did exactly what he told me and I was almost unafraid. I sensed that a great adventure awaited me at the end of the passage.The doors to the secret chamber creaked loudly. When, after some difficulty, I finally managed to get the doors wide open, my eyes almost popped out of my head!
– Where was I? Perhaps in a fairy tale? – I heard my own voice clearly. In the middle, there was a table laid, fragrant baked meat in a bowl and clean water sparkling in a jug... And what beauties! Wooden trunks bound in gold, full of glittering ducats, decorated swords, rapiers, shepherd's cups and crooks, various games for children and small dogs, books of fairy tales and even feathers from a grey and white pigeon. They were poking out from behind the frame of an ancient picture showing a great master with his beautiful lady... There were also many coats, uniforms, various dresses, colourful brocade, - probably all from when the world began! But what was most important for my tired paws was a kennel padded with soft wool.
– All I need now is a cover! – I thought, and I suddenly spotted a sackcloth coat which Earls wore in the old times. Or maybe soldiers...? I didn't hesitate for a second...As soon as I put it on, ...what a miracle! When I fastened the final button, I immediately found myself in a beautiful manor which used to be the seat of the Andrássy dynasty. I just couldn’t understand it.
– But how do I get back? – and I quickly unfastened the button.
I appeared back in the chamber …and I tried other things. I took the coat off and reached for a chainmail shirt which used to protect armour-bearers. Another wonder: I suddenly appeared in an emperor's army which was just about to attack the Turks… I quickly tossed the shirt aside and then I tried on some ordinary sackcloth trousers:
– Oh, I’ll be an ordinary shepherd, - I realised when I had to chase the herd…I took those off, too.
I tried on a lot of things: uniforms, trousers and hats, and I always found myself returned to those times from where the clothes and accessories came. From all of these, I liked the Earl's coat the most. I wrapped it around me and lay comfortably in the kennel to get a little rest after these unusual experiences.
- Do you think I slept? Never! – because the Earl's coat into which I climbed wasn't an ordinary coat either...
That’s how I started my great fairy-tale travels.
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