Mária Ďuríčková: The Stool
Once upon a time it used to happen - luckily not too often - that the people in the Bratislava Castle got up in the morning with all their body aching. As if the bed had been on top of them during the night, rather than they on the bed. Water had run out of the buckets, the beautiful china sets in sideboards were broken. And the banners on castle towers were soiled as if they had not been flying high up in the wind but rather flying somewhere in the mud. Paintings were torn down form the walls and chandeliers were broken to pieces. The precious crystal glass chandeliers!                                                 

"Was it stormy last night?" asks the lady of the castle, Countess Julia.             
The chambermaid shakes her head:                                 
"I have a light sleep, Your Grace, but I didn´t hear anything."                     
"I wouldn´t rely too much on your light sleep. Summon the night guards."                 
Two of them came in here half asleep, their sleep had just been interrupted, carrying lances in their hands.                                             
"How dare you come in here half asleep?" says the Countess in a rage... 
"Jour Grace, we are on the guard during the night and sleep during the day."             
"Oh, of course, all right. Well, tell me, what was it like last night?"             
"What should it have been like," says one of them and struggles hard to keep his eyes open." 
Quiet, full of stars, the moon was like a plate ..."                         
"But then, Your Grace," reports the other one, who was more successful in overcoming his tiredness," then suddenly all the stars were gone and even that full moon was gone and it seemed as if the sky and the whole of heaven had fallen on our heads."                 
"As if everything had fallen on us," nodded the first one half asleep.                
"Or it was you who fell on your head!" said the Countess angrily.                 
"Get out of my side!"                                         

It was for the third time in the course of three years that something unusual had happened. 
And there was always so much damage. And it must happen just now, when they are expecting a visit by the Palatine and his suite! Where is going to get the chandelier into the main hall at such notice? She will have to send a courier to Vienna.                             
But what worried her more than the damage was that mystery. 
"Go and fetch some fortune - teller, "she said to her chambermaid on the following day. 
An old woman with a white linen bonnet was introduced to the Countess. 
Her eyes were like stings and her nose looked like a crow's beak.                                                     
"Where do you live, good old woman, and what is your name?"                 
"In Vrakúňa, Your Grace, and my name is Strigaňa."                     
"Well, Strigaňa, this is what worries me, disturbs my peace." 
And the lady of the castle told her everything in great detail. 
How for the third time in the course of three years the odd thing has happened...                                         

Strigaňa was listening carefully. Then she started poking in the broken crystal glass pieces and finally took three of them, of medium size, not too big and not too small. Then she sat down at the fireplace, raked the ashes, laid the crystal pieces and red-hot bits of embers on it: they formed a cross upwards and downwards, a circle and some were in the middle. Then she threw them into a bucket of water, and listened carefully as they talked in the water for the first and the last time in their lives and then they immediately became numb and turned black.

She listened to them, thought for a while, then stood up from the fireplace and said.                     
"It is Klingsor."                                     
"Klingsor?" says the lady/ of the castle in surprise, because she never heard that name.     
"Klingsor is a gigant wizard. Relives in Transylvania, but sometimes he sets out on a journey to his native Germany, to the town of Eisenach, and after some time he goes back to Transylvania again.                                            
"And what about that Klingsor?"                                     
When he is flying over this castle, which is about half way for him, he takes it into his strong hands, turns it round and places it on its four toes, as one would place a stool on its legs. Then he takes a rest there and looks down on the Danube."                         
"And ?"                                             
"And after he has a rest, he turns the castle once again, to its original position, and goes on flying further."                                         
„Outrageous, horrible," lamented the Countess.                             
It was not clear what she thought was outrageous and horrible: Klingsor' s strength or his impudence to treat her castle in this way.                                 
„I'll send the white crow to take him a message, Your Grace," says Strigaňa. „It's not sure, whether Klingsor will listen to me, because he is a great wizard and I'm only a small fortuneteller, but we can try."                                     

The white crow took the message and the plea to Transylvania. And since that time it has never happened in the Bratislava Castle that paintings would fall from the walls, or that the china and crystal precious chandeliers would be broken.


From the book Dunajská kráľovná (The Queen of the Danube), publisher: Mladé letá, 1967

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