Jan Budař (GRANDSON) and Antonín Dočekal (GRANDFATHER) [EN]





Jan Budař (GRANDSON) and Antonín Dočekal (GRANDFATHER)


The biggest mystery

of Leopold Bumbác

          &

A fairy-tale from the Hell
      under the Barrel


Illustrated by David Fišer and Antonín Dočekal


                                    Mladá fronta



Text © Jan Budař, 2013
Illustrations © David Fišer, 2013

ISBN 978-80-204-3155-4

From Czech into English translated 
by © Magdalena Budkowska


                                             Warszawa 2014





DEAR CHILDREN,


     the book, which you are keeping just now in your hand - and this form of address belongs to you, adults too, because you are still a little children too, only your children do not possibly suspect it - and so then: this book, dear children, is wonderful.
     A grandson and his grandfather wrote it.
     Everyone of them is on another coast of time, on another boat of life, in another way of the universe. Even so both of them are mutually united, as only the grandfather and the grandson can be.
     The grandfather Antonín Dočekal wrote a fairy-tale about heaven and hell, and his grandson Jan Budař wrote about that, what you can find among heaven, hell and the earth. So, dear children, nicely sit down comfortably, immerse yourself in fairy-tales with the courage. Parents, reading, you forget about tiredness - there are not many lines on the pages, there are capital letters and many drawings inside of the book. Start nicely reading the book with sensibility and love. You have these most beautiful listeners, who still trust that true and love are stronger than a lie and hatred.



     Jan Budař




Dedicated to all children.




The biggest mystery

of Leopold Bumbác



Chapter one

 On the way!

There is a big field directly behind the village Pyšnice near Nebohovice. Two massive, spreading limes grow more than three hundred years on the field. A puny, freckled boy named Ludvík planted them at that time and except of those two trees there was nothing left after him. His distant relative - a cousin of his father-in-law's niece on mother's side - Denisa let stand a "God's torment" statue between the limes with the inscription, once gold-plated: "God, save all living beings". The limes and the "God's torment" statue give pleasant shadow for a taking a rest, tired, but happy man - Leopold Bumbác, gunner, so now already ex-.
   It is spring, all starts to bring to life, young wheat comes from the earth and the sun doesn't waste heat. The Prussians' uniform of Bumbác, which is dirty, tattered, gets the green, healthy greenery in the way a little.
  It doesn't matter for him a thing, he is pleased with it, that he is alive and breathes in intoxicating air. He gives blissful his shaggy and dirty face to sun's rays, which come to him through the treetops here and there. It is Sunday of May 1866 and the battle between Prussians and Austrians has just finished. If the meaning of names Prussian and Austrian sounds enough similarly, and you ask, why those two should fight, that their names are almost identical, you are smart children, and I am pleased, because this fairy-tale is just for you. Leopold Bumbác thinks about it now, too, whether all this  chatter is worth. There are rests of waggons, weapon and uniforms on the field everywhere, all shed blood hadn't still soaked in the earth, and rain with wind hadn't covered  deep scars in the earth yet. As it in the battles happens, and here people fighted stupid and unnecessary. Wars are a strange thing at all, men lose common sense, women lose their husbands and children lose their parents. Even so you had fighted, you fight and most probably you'll fight. It will suffice only disobedience a little at the same time! Yes, disobedience! If all soldiers had stopped listening to orders of their generals, nobody would fight with anybody together. The generals could play skittles anyhow, but for that we adults are too greedy and scared. No war, if it was anytime, was worth it, let all soldiers and generals think about it, what they want.
   As Bumbác lolled about the lime tree roots, he noticed, that something gleamed from young wheat at him. He reaches out for it, it is a small harmonica. Close by it it lies still a dirty military cap, a piece farther a red scarf with an embroidered heart and a leather belt. The cap and the belt are good for nothing, the harmonica and the scarf look well-preserved for that. Bumbác ties the scarf around the neck conceited, he blows out the soil from the harmonica, he sits down near the roots again, he closes his eyes and makes an uncertain sound, which resounds in the wide country. The flock of starlings flies nearby to hear this lingering melody too. The spring sun pricks in the eyes, it is time to go. Bumbác puts the harmonica in the coat pocket, he stands up, he throws the rucksack over the shoulder and sets out for the farther way. Where to? Even he doesn't know alone.

Chapter two

 The meeting

About one hour later Bumbác arrived to a flooded quarry. On the rocks pine trees cower, small birches and acacias push through a sunny place with them. Bumbác sinks to icy  water, until he moans; finally he washes off him all dust of the last days. He swims joyous in every way, until water splashes and echo breaks over rock walls. He notices, that a strange group camps on the opposite shore. He can see men, women and a young girl between clothes lines, an upholstered caravan and horses too. The girl has hair like the rook and moves so charming, that Bumbác, with his nose closely above the surface, can keep his eyes on her. He doesn't notice, that from the shore, where he keeps the uniform and the rucksack, he is followed alone. A small red-haired boy is hidden in the undergrowth, and as Bumbác relishes girl's beauty, suddenly the boy jumps out, per second he is at the uniform of Bumbác, he throws it into the water far away, grabs the rucksack and disappears.
   "Hey! What are you doing?!" Bumbác screams from the water and swims as quickly as he can to the shore. When he finally gets out of the water, he runs with a bare bottom after the thief. But he is already chasing on the field, as he has turn tail. 

   "Stop, you stripling!" it rumbles in the quarry. Bumbác fishes the uniform out of the water, gets dressed it fast and notices, that the man from the campsite is watching him. He buttons up the bottons of the soaked trousers and sets out to him. As he goes fast gloomy on the stony shore, water drips from him on all sides.
   "Give me back that, what you've stolen!" he already screams at the man in the distance.
   The man looks at him interrogatively.

   " Don't judge us so nastily, soldier. We haven't stolen anything from you", he answers quietly. Bumbác is ashamed a little, because he didn't even greet and looks at that robust fellow with full grey beard. His coat has a patch only, the trousers too, there is a colourful scarf around the neck, and an embroidered waistcoat. It looks, after all, as each part of his clothes belongs to different time, and that's why it is surprised tasteful. Bumbác thinks, if he is a nomadic comedian or a gypsy, or both. He doesn't inspire much trust in him.
   "Anyway, it was somebody from you. Such red-haired stripling, I think he's big, fast too, like that." Bumbác shows wiht his hand a metre above the ground.
   "And what did he take from you?"
   "The rucksack with my full pay! All my money!"
   "Was it much?"
   "Two years of military service!"
    Bumbác looks comic, he looks like a drowned rat here, water drips from him on soft grass.
   "Two years?" the fellow asks. "And how many people did you kill in the military service?"
   This direct question surprises Bumbác, but he answers without hesitation.

"I don't know. I'm a gunner. The cannonballs were flying, I loaded. An eighthinch, bronze gun with range of a couple kilometres, if you know, what it means. Did you sometime experience a military service, that you are asking so stupid?"
   "No", the man answers dry.
   "Soldier is soldier. He does his duty," Bumbác swaggers. The man has to smile - that soldier looks serious funny.
   "For sure. That's why the military service is, soldier. So, did you lose everything?"

   Bumbác reaches for the pocket and takes out a wet harmonica.
   "It is left. I found it today."
   "Can you play with it?"
    Bumbác blows to it, but it doesn't sound much, it spits out rather a little water.
   "If you do exercises a little, it works," the man smiles. "If you want, you can go with us. We still keep the harmonica. You get food and you earn some money too."
   Bumbác looks at this all strange group and he is just not enthusiastic about it. But later he notices this striking, beautiful girl, who he has already watched from water. She just takes off the laundry from the clothes lines and smiles nice to him. Well, Bumbác says so to himself, that he tries it only.


Chapter three

The Baron and Romeo

The colourful caravan, pulled by a horse, shakes slowly up the road near the field. The man sits up on the dicky, beside him his partner Zuzana and Bumbác on the edge. Zuzana is a good-looking woman in the best years, she watches Bumbác searchingly. Her look is penetrating, possibly even severe, but it is a mysterious calm in it, too. Black, thick hair hang along the charming face. Bumbác got meanwhile an old pullover and tattered trousers, his uniform dries beside him.
   "They call me Baron and don't ask why", the man with full grey beard says. "I have aristocratic ancestors, even if you think something different looking at my property." He hits the battered caravan conceited and laughs loudly.
   "The stallion is actually our such small property. His name is Romeo. I have bought him from one Hungarian widower for two goats, a sheep and Holy Bible. It's a pedigree horse!" Bumbác smiles - it will be a cheerful guy, that Baron.

"Believe or not, it's so. His dad came from Spain and mother was English! Look, Zuzana."
    "Indeed," Zuzana smiles. She already knows these things by heart.
    The Baron continues the conversation.
   "And Zuzana's father was a real gypsy baron!"
   "He thought instead, that he was a king," Zuzana adds with a smile.
   "Mainly, when he drank. That guy knew how to live. Were you, Bumbác, not only than a soldier?"
   "I'm a certificated potter," Bumbác says modestly. This pretty girl with enticing movements looks out of the caravan.
   "Good morning," she greets happily.
   "This is our princess. Sarah," the Baron introduces the girl. Bumbác offers her his robust right hand.
   "Leopold Bumbác, gunner. Former," he introduces proudly.
   "You thought this name up, didn't you?" Sarah says amusing. The Baron reconciles her.
   "Don't be cheeky. One day she ran away from home."
   " I didn't. I wanted ice-cream," Sarah threw the word and disappeared back in the caravan.
   "Well, from home... our caravan is lucky. She had what it took. But she came back, weirdryad," the Baron tells, later he stoops to Bumbác and keeps his voice down.
   "She is an orphan, she - the girl - experienced much. We found her when she was ten years old. She had already a garrulous mouth at that time, look, weirdryad!"
   The Baron calls out the last sentence to Sarah, to the interior of the caravan.
   "Yes, daddy!" her charming girl's voice echoes from within.
   "But she's a good girl. I think she's a little uptight a little because of you, soldier," the Baron winks.
   "Thank you, that you took me to you," Bumbác says.
   "Leopold Bumbác, welcome to our royal family." The Baron pats Bumbác on the shoulder and laughs resoundingly. The skyline sinks in the sunset and the caravan flows slowly the early evening country.

Chapter four

Mayor Laurence Beetle

There is today evening very crowded in the inn "At the Cannonball" in the village Krutice, where everybody wandered at dawn. So as not, the Baron's group, which gained a new member, plays for dancing. It cowers on a small stage, they make music like for life, and between them Bumbác - satisfied, again already in his uniform, he tries hard to blow on the harmonica. He got a chordophone to his second hand, he beats with it enough without rhythm, but with vigour. Next to him the Baron plays the guitar, Sarah plays the tambourine, Zuzana plays the violin. Everybody sings. They dance on the dance floor, the crowded pub lives the perky life. To tell the truth, Bumbác drinks more than he plays, but he has to laugh over it, that he became a musician from a gunner. But he is pleased about it, that he can watch the world with a little different eyes after these all war troubles. He looks at Sarah discreet, her young body dancing writhes smart. She feels his look and she rocks immediately sideways a little more hilarious. Laurence Beetle - a local mayor and landowner, sits on the other side of the pub, at the table, which is a little higher than the other ones. He lolles alone about the bench for three men, fattened like a well-fed hippopotamus. Everybody is afraid of him, but anybody doesn't dare to speak it up. By this time, when he was a mayor, he had stolen so much, that he forgot alone, what all he stole, so finally he believed, that he is a honest man more or less. He wears the most expensive, rich embroided clothes, with ribbons and frills, he sits on the throne at the top table and he is bored. His three drovers tangle about him, the slim servants, who serve him for a meager pay. There is a frowning person, who sits across from Laurence, Mrs. Ruzena Beetle, an eternally disappointed lady mayoress. Laurence smacks one of the drovers, who just brought him beer.
   "Where have you been so long? The foam fell!"
   Meanwhile the innkeeper entangles from the podium to the Baron; the innkeeper is in a hurry to the tap in the barrel with hands full of empty glasses.
   "Take a break, people get used to it."
   "Of course, sir," the Baron says courteously and finishes the song with a dual waving. The musicians overdubs and go outside.
   The sky behind the pub is glowed by stars, the frogs from the nearby pond mewl to them. Bumbác sits, meditates and looks at a pale, shabby card - King of hearts. He shows it in the moonlight to see it better. The King looks like a strange pixie with a wide smile and prickly eyes. The fingers of Bumbác stroke softly the yellowed paper. He looks at the King's eyes fixed and suddenly imagined, that the King blinks. Is it possible? Bumbác pushes the card distrustfully to his nose, but of course the picture is motionless. Then a girl's voice echoes.
   "Don't I disturb?"
   "Ugh, I've got scared!" Bumbác shudders.
   "How could you be a soldier, when you're so fearful," Sarah laughs and she sits without asking beside Bumbác in this way, that the shoulders touch.
   "What have you got?" Sarah points out the card in his palm.
   "The card, the King of hearts."
   "This is a beautiful, old one."
   "A memory of one friend," Bumbác says and sticks the card to the coat's pocket.
   "It's the first time, that the Baron took among us somebody, who can't play anything," Sarah nags him.
   "I play the harmonica, too!"
   "Okey, so it's the first time, that the Baron took somebody, who plays the harmonica so terrible," the girl's laughs. The laughing suits her.

   "Listen, Sarah... Are you severe for all men, only am I so lucky?"
   "You are so lucky", Sarah laughs. "Are you married?"
   Bumbác became serious.
   "I was married."
   Did she leave you?"
   Bumbác looks at Sarah amused. He likes her.
   "Tell me, Sarah... Are you born so cheeky? Or did somebody teach you?"
   "Life taught me..." Sarah answers and she looks straight in his eyes, "that I was born cheeky," she adds, rises and smiles. The look at each other at the moment, nobody knows, what to say farther. Only frogs outshout in the nearby pond, later Bumbác dares.

   "And you... Do you have a suitor?"
   "A suitor?" Sarah repeats. It enjoys evidently, that Bumbác is worried about her.
   "Or a fiancé?"
   "I don't... But don't imagine much, soldier, I'm choosy," Sarah smiles and she is still charming. She puts a cap on Bumbác's head and eyes, and she walks away like a queen. She adds still over her shoulder: "Tune the harmonica, I'm going to play again!"
   And they went. The band, managed by the Baron's, early fascinated all people, the dance floor became full in a couple of minutes.
   All enjoyed good. Laurence Beetle watches at the table the masquerade and the band, and he notices, when he always looks at Bumbác, the sound of his harmonica seems to cut his ears. The tone is so unpleasant, that he has got a  headache. When he averts his eyes from Bumbác, the band's and harmonica's sound is all right again. What happens to the harmonica? the mayor thinks. He tries several times, if he hadn't it only imagined. No, no, he didn't imagine it! This harmonica seems to irritate him. Suddenly his drover comes to him, he whispers something and point out Bumbác. Laurence makes an effort, stands up and calms down.
   "Quiet!" he shout at all pub. The band stops playing immediately. Laurence comes to the dance floor, nobody says even a word.

   "You are said to fight near Nebohovice!" Laurence calls out to Bumbác. His shining wellingtons creak, when he goes slowly. Nobody says even a word.
   "Me?" Bumbác looks around himself as he looks for another soldier. But Laurence has got no sense of humour.
   "You," he directs his fat finger at him.
   "I was fighting. So what?" Bumbác resists.
   "And doesn't it disturb you, that you were fighting on the wrong side?"
   "And which side was right, according to you?"
   "This ours!" Laurence hits his fists in the chest and stops. Someone laughts out loud.
   "Is somebody against it?" Laurence snaps at the direction, where the laughing came from.
   "For health of our Mister mayor!" a flatterer echoes, a couple of diligents join in, but only so embarrassed.
   "I'm against it!" Bumbác says and blows to the harmonica in this way, that it cuts the ears. Laurence looks at him, got embarrased. Three drovers resist for confidence, too. The Baron whispers to Bumbác: "Stop it." But Bumbác can't hear or rather he doesn't want to.
   "As long as I'm not wrong, sir, your side lost."
  
   A soldier's pride awakes in Bumbác. The Baron retrieves the situation.
   "Bumbác, don't provoke, we have to play, not to solve the war, which is lost a long time ago! In fact it is won...  all the same. Sit down and don't discuss!"
   But in the meantime Laurence riots, too. "What do you afford? Do you know, who I am?"
   "Most probably a retired soldier like me," Bumbác says quietly, the Baron whispers, but rather he already wheezes. He gets the sleeve of Bumbác caught.
   "It's a mayor!"
   But Bumbác becomes loose from the Baron's hold, he goes slowly to Laurence on the dance floor, and continues conceited and fearless.
   "But maybe you're not a soldier. Maybe you're only a man, who thinks, what the war means, but you've never been there. A man, who thinks, that all belongs to him. And soldiers, and people, who dance and enjoy themself, and they are silent as the grave, because they are afraid. I think because of that, that they have to live with you here. But I don't have, Mr. mayor. You're the mayor, aren't you? That's why, most probably, you're on first name terms with people, who you didn't see in your life, but it doesn't disturb me in the end, I meet with pleasure. We can be on first name terms safely. Hello, mayor, I'm Leopold Bumbác, a retired gunner, who fought on this right side, whether somebody says, what he wants to say!"
   Bumbác up to Laurence. He bows dramatically and stretches out his right hand to him. Laurence stands petrified - as white as a sheet - he hasn't never experienced so impertinence yet. He controls with the look, if his servants watch his back - they stand about two metres behind him.

   "Uh..." Laurence snorts.
   The Baron, Sarah and Zuzana watch with anticipation, as it falls. Besides of it, all pub keeps an eye on them. Two drovers go: the first man on one side, the second one on another to go to Bumbác's back, but they go him slowly around, like two skinny predators. Bumbác notices it, but he doesn't even move, he stands still with right hand stretching out. The third drover still watch mayor's back.

"I won't give my hand a traitor, who doesn't know, for whom to fight, and you won't play me for dancing, too! Unless you'll take off the uniform!" Laurence grimaces.
   The drovers, standing behind Bumbác's back, approach a step. Somebody laughs.
   "Why not... but you, mayor, should undress me first," Bumbác answers.
   This time the laugh is a little louder, because Laurence provokes and shows his drovers with a gesture to grasp Bumbác. They surround him in a second both sides, catch strongly and topple to the ground, straight to the Laurence's feet. Sarah groans of fear. It seems for a moment, that Bumbác is easy defeated. He watches Laurence's polished wellingtons with shiny clasps, he can't even move. Laurence touches mocking with boots' tip the Bumbác's nose. But she shouldn't do it. Blood pumps away in Bumbác, he rebels with might and main, he shouts, and he stands up on his feet with two slim drovers, who hold still him strongly. Laurence jumps back, the third drovers want to catch Bumbác from the front, but the soldier moves and skids two men, who hold him persistently, against their third friend, he upsets them this way like skittles. Some ladies breathes out astonished, some men hiss with excitement, Laurence snaps surprised: "Catch him!" and he moves back better to the table alone. Now the other men start to argue, who won this unfortunate war in fact. Some guys shout, that Prussians, the others, that Austrians. Women try to calm them, but in vain. They push, offend and hit on their heads, and unlees the brawl breaks out. Bumbác fights with the drovers like for life. The innkeeper rescues fast the glass of the tap in the barrel, he shouts still desperately:"Leave it, please! The war's finished! People, be serious!"

   A half-litre glass whizzes in air, it crashes against the wall behind him, the innkeeper moves hardly back.
   "Not glass!" he shouts at the crowd, but it isn't possible to stop. The brawl began. Bumbác fights like a lion, the Baron wraps the instruments, Sarah worries nobody injuries. Zuzana shrugs only her shoulders and stores her violin. Laurence takes his hat and wants to disappear discreet, but Bumbác notices it.
   "Where to, mayor? Are you already going bye-byes?"
   Laurence can see, that it isn't possible to go out the door. He makes way for Bumbác, he goes still behind him. But later one of the drovers jump on Bumbác's back, so he stops him for a moment. The mayor notices an open window, and he climbs sweaty breakneck outside. The men fights farther with pleasure, the innkeeper runs around chaotically and rescues, what he can. Two small boys hid under the table.
   "Are you Plussian or Austlian?" the smaller one asks the older one.
   "I'm like dad", the friend explains.
   "And who's him?"
   "He was Austlian, but he's already Plussian, yecause they wyn."
   The farther the brawl isn't more synoptic. Everyone fights with everybody. Laurence gets out breathless through the window from the pub, he falls down on the dust like a sack and looks, if someone doesn't follow him. Nobody, the window is empty. He dares and threaten with the fat fist to the window.
   "I won't forgive you... you Prussian scumbag!"
   A group of young men starring behind the pub look at him surprised.
   "Good morning... evening..." the first of them says, but his friend corrects quietly.
   "Night."
   "Good night", the boy adds fast. Laurence blushes.
   "What are you doing here? Where are your parents?" He trounces them.
   The boy points out the window, where the brawl echoes from. A hat flies just out. A beautiful, cream-coloured, dark beige, unfortunately now torn in the bottom.
   "Well... So hold out." Laurence says and he leaves clumsy in the night. He tries hard to walk as dignified as he can. The smallest boy asks:
   "Why did he come home through the window?"
   "Perhaps he escaped without paying", the second one guesses.
   "The mayor?" The third adds, all of them watch Laurence disappearing and they think about this mystery, their heads don't note it.

Chapter five

The cowards

A half an hour later all calmed down a little at last. The Baron, Zuzana and Sarah stand in front of the pub, they have got their luggages at the legs. The gloomy innkeeper carries out the last two suitcases and he strains icy:
   "So, ladies and gentlemen, there are your suitcases here. Mister mayor doesn't want you sleep in his inn. If you want your payment back, so again tomorrow at eight o'clock, but already without your soldier. Mister mayor forbade it."
   But this provoked Sarah.
   "No way. All people or I don't play, too. Bumbác has only still defended himself!"
   In this moment Bumbác flies out the door in front of the pub, falls down on dust, he holds a broken table's leg in his hand.
   "Cowards! Come to fight outside, who dares!" he shouts as he is in the throes. He threaten with the piece of the table like a Hussite with the finger.
   "Leave it, Bumbác," the Baron reprimand him. Sarah helps Bumbác to stand up.
   "Are you all right?" she worries.
   "No! I experienced worse volleys, beauty," Bumbác smiles at Sarah. Later he strokes tender her face. Thank you."
   "Come," the Baron ordered, he takes two suitcases and walks in the darkness. Bumbác tourns round to the innkeeper:
    "And you're ashamed! Your beer is warm, sausages cold and whisky diluted. I'll recommend to rename the pub to "The Pub At the Coward. It will be yours. Good luck," he gives him with a smile the table's leg by the way, the innkeeper takes it, he doesn't raise even eyebrows. The others hold the rest of the luggages and follow the Baron.
   The cloud covers up the moon. Mayor Laurence stnad at the door of his building and watches the caravan, as it drives away the silent village. The drover pours whisky into his glass.
   "Follow them and tell me, where they camped," Laurence orders and tourns round his shot.
   "Yes, sir. And what to do if they are driving for a long time? the servant asks.
   "You'll go long," Laurence answers back watching the caravan.
   "And if they were driving all night?"
   "You'll come back in the morning. Go away!"
   The drover bows obligingly,
gives the bottle to his master and ran away in the night to fulfil that, what he had ordered.
Chapter six

The rats

Meanwhile the Baron's group arrived to the cemetery. The moon irradiates graves, silhouettes of the crosses and gravestones stick out in the moon's light, a couple of candles flicker on them. The horse Romeo stopped at the cemetery's wall.

   "We are getting sleep here," the Baron informed.

   Sarah isn't completely enthusiastic. "At the cemetery?"
   "It will be silence at least." The Baron dismounts from the dicky. The graves seem terrifying in the moon's light. There is a skinny tomcat jumping on the wall silent like a ghost and miaows lamenting.
   "Are you afraid of ghosts?" Bumbác whispers to Sarah ear.
   "A little. And you?"
   "I'd have to believe first, that they exist," Bumbác smiles. Sarah thinks, that you don't see so pretty smile so immediately.

The drover, hidden in the darkness not far from them, found out, what he needed, and set off the return way to the village. Leaves break under him, until Sarah gets scared and she catches Bumbác.
   "What was it?"
   "A cat... or a rat."
   "A rat?" Sarah stares eyes in the darkness.
   "They're enough here... Or a marten... Or a little wolf."
   "Leave it," Sarah bursts out laughing and smacks his hand.
   "I've already thought, that you're so cheeky, because you're afraid of nothing," Bumbác feels strong.
   "And are you afraid of something?"
   Bumbác thinks a moment.
   "I'm afraid of these, who I like," he says and watches Sarah with tenderness. In the meantime Zuzana reads cards in the caravan sitting in a small table. The Baron drinks tea with melissa for good sleep and looks at  Bumbác out of the window; he gets ready for bed by the fire outside.

   "I don't know, if it was a good idea to take him with us," Zuzana says and  reads a jack of clubs on the table.
   "It's a violent character a little," the Baron admits, "but he's got a good heart." But Zuzana doesn't listen to him much, she studies cards in front of her, and rather mumbles for her:
   "Something doesn't seem here..."
   "He likes Sarah. His eyes are glued on her," the Baron observes Sarah, as she chatters hilariously with Bumbác by the fire. He lost his heart to her.
   "A soal between the worlds..." Zuzana with knocks the finger on green seven.
   "And I think she likes him, too," the Baron says rather alone to himself.
   "The soal between the worlds... What can it be?" Zuzana thinks aloud. The Baron turns round her:
   "We're at the the cemetery, so why are you surprised? Come already to sleep, you my beautiful baroness."
   He kisses tender Zuzana's hair, but she doesn't perceive him, the pictures of cards dance before her eyes.
   Outside Sarah and Bumbác have something to talk about by the fire.
   "How could your wife leave you, when you're so brave?"
   "Do you think, that I'm not afraid of ghosts?"
   "No, you weren't afraid of that mayor."
 "It isn't such heroism to fight in the pub," Bumbác blushes and pokes fire with a stick, until a geyser of sparks spatters.
   "My own brother rebounded my wife. She left me because of him."
   "I'm sorry about it," Sarah says. Bumbác was absorbed in memories, the flames crack only for a moment.
   "I didn't talk about it with him from then on, it was ten years ago."
   "Where's he now?" Sarah touches shy his hand.
   "I don't know. They went away together to Prague."
   Bumbác throws the stick into the fire, the flames dance.
   "I was only a stupid potter. Brother finished schools, read books, travelled around the world. Intellectual!" he sighs and he feels suddenly somehow sad. "But all the same, it's gone," he adds.
   "It's gone, when you forgive him. You could find him and reconcile with him," Sarah says quietly with her eyes fixed on the flames. Bumbác breathes contrariwise.
   "You can't understand it."
   Sarah sighs and smiles sad.
   "Be happy, that you've got a family."
   Bumbác is ashamed a little, strokes her hair.
   "I'm cold. I'm going to sleep. Good night, Bumbác."
   "Good night, Sarah."
   Bumbác is alone, the stars over the head blink at him friendly. He wraps in shaggy blankets and moves closer the heat. He doesn't smell, that today's night doesn't finish yet.

Chapter seven


The forest shadows

Laurence, drunk like a plum, tries hard to step silently. Three drovers go in front of him. The first one, who holds a street lamp, expresses whispering, what goes already to the heart for a long moment. 
   "Mister mayor, let it be. I think, we could..."
   "What?" Laurence disturbs him impatiently.
   "That's... that isn't a good idea," the drover stammers, Laurence stops, he mumbles drunk:
   "Be quiet. You've offended a official person! It's a security prison for it! You've offended ... touched... most.. my soldier's honour! It's not-a-cce-pta... impermissible! And I'm going forward. Now you're going first."
   "Why me?" the drover sweats.
   "For punishment. And be silent! And you keep the lights on."
     He pokes the servant with the street lamp and walks shaky on the stony road. The men look at themself desperately, after a couple of steps one of them whispers:

   "Mister mayor, I think, that you're not in the form, too, you've only still drunk..."
   "What do you afford?" Laurence roars.
   "Excuse me," the scared man whispers, white like the wall.
   "And if they've got a dog..." the man with the street lamp joins in.
   "Enough. Come!" Laurence finishes the discussion and hits the street lamp with the shin, until it rings.
   The group stagger silently to the camp at the cemetery. There is all dark, Bumbác has a rest satisfied by the burnt-out fire.
   "Is he sleeping?" Laurence whispers.
    "But he can wake up," the drover worries again.
   "You're going first."
   "Me?! Bořek ist going first," he points out the friend.
"And you go already. And shut up!"
   All four of them sneak up around Bumbác to the horse, who are tied up to the caravan and stands quietly sleeping.
   "Untie him!" Laurence orders.
   "I'm not able to handle with horses", Bořek resists. He would like to escape.
   "Don't chatter and go. And you go farther, as not to startle him with the light. Rush!" Impatient Laurence pushes the scared men. Both of the drovers approaches carefully to the horse. His bulky silhouette looms up opposite the dark sky. He has just even moved! The drovers jumped away.
   "Get out... you fools."
   Laurence staggers to the horse and begins to untie him cheeky. The horse snorts. In the caravan all sleep satisfied, and Bumbác has a rest sweet in the dream.
   "A knife!" Laurence hisses, the drover gives him a small jackknife, Laurence cuts the reins and takes the horse away quietly in the darkness.
   "Well, you can see, you bunglers. I don't understand, why I feed you."
   But later it happens. The horse reares and kicks Laurence so, that he flies away three metres in the mud. Bumbác rolls over sleeping, it seems already, that the noise wakes him up, but not. He snores farther. Laurence hisses furiously:
   "Catch him!"
   The drovers run to the horse quickly and catches his bridle.
   "And now away," scared Bořek says and takes the horse away rapidly in the darkness. Laurence gets up and all in the mud staggers following them.
   "An unable bunch..."
   The cloud covers the moon and all falls silent, as nothing happens.

  

 Chapter eight

Romeo disappeared!

A new day looms up on the skyline. Satisfied Laurence shuts the stable, where he located the stolen horse. He writes a new name on the door's signboard - Prince. He strokes the stallion satisfied.
   "Welcome to the new home, stallion." He combs the mane, the horse snorts, Laurence beams with satisfaction.

   The sun overshoots with morning rays the crannies in the door, the day will be like painted.
   In the camp at the cemetery Bumbác wakes up slowly, smiles at this beautiful morning, but later he sees, that there is something badly here. Something doesn't fit here. He burstes into the caravan, even he doesn't knock.
   "The horse's disappeared!"
   The Baron sits down, Zuzana beside him, too.
   "Where would he disappear?" the Baron grumbles.
   "I don't know, but he's gone."
   In front of the caravan, where Romeo was tied up, the Baron, Bumbác and Sarah look over the sawed reins. Not far away Sarah found in the mud the clasp, which she shows Bumbác. Bumbác has a look at it, he thinks long. He saw still already the clasp somewhere! Where did he see it?
   "Yesterday in the pub! That host had it on his shin!" he recalls finally.
   "Mayor?" the Baron asks.
   "Yeah! This rascal! I don't forgive him that!
    Bumbác doesnt't wait for anything and he chases in the direction of the village.
   "I'm following him, or I will do something again," Sarah whispers to the Baron, he follows him.
   In the caravan Zuzana reads her cards, she takes notes on a paper's piece, draws and underlines, she tries hard to understand, but rather she shakes her head uncomprehending.
   Bumbác and the Baron stand in front of the Laurence's building and bangs on the door. The mayor opens alone and takes bad their measure.
   "What do you want? he snarls.
Bumbác gives him the lost clasp.
   "This is yours, if I'm not wrong."
   Laurence looks at the clasp and he lies without hesitation.
   "It isn't mine. Why do you plague me? Get out, beggars!"
   He almost already shuts the door, but the Baron points out his muddy wellingtons.
   "Excuse me, such a clasp is just missing on one wellington.
   All look at them and it looks so, that there is a clasp on one wellington, on the other one there isn't. The Baron kneels down and puts the buckle to the boot.
   "Yeah... Well, so it probably will be mine," Laurence babbles irritated and he snatches the clasp from the Baron's hand.
   "And now you can give us back our horse in rematch, what do you say? " the Baron smiles.
   "In rematch? Do you say: a horse?" The Laurence's pig's eyes blink sour.
   "The horse, who you've stolen us in the night!" Bumbác adds. Laurence looks at them amused and says later with superiority.
   "You're right. Of course. Sure, the horse... Indeed. So stand it..."
   He went away to the court, it seemed, that he went to the stable, Bumbác smiles satisfied, but Laurence didn't went for the horse. He went to the cage, where he's got two giant, hunting dogs. He opens the cage and lets them out.
   "Here you've got the horse! Directly two!" the mayor shakes his fist with them. Bumbác and the Baron don't wait for anything more, they escape and the savage dogs follow them.
   "Catch them, Romadůr! Tear!" Laurence yells triumphantly.
   "Tear, Rolf!" Bumbác and the Baron run away to the village, untill dust swirls, the furious dogs are at their heels.
 

Chapter nine

Bad luck

Finally Bumbác and the Baron succeeded to shake down the dogs. They arrived breathless to the camp, sat down by the fire and shrugged sad their shoulders - they don't have the horse. Zuzana and Sarah cook a drink in the cauldron over the fire.

   "Strange things happen. Yesterday I had a very vivid dream," Zuzana says seriously and stirs this strange medicine.

   "Three souls came to me," she continues, "and they told me, that they are wandering with us from that time, when you joined us, Bumbác. These souls told me, too, that they got stuck between the world. They are neither alive nor dead, and they are confused and desperate."
   The Baron wants to send his wife back for a moment to the proper borders, but later he decided to keep all calm. Today's day is already enough demanding.
   "Zuzana, leave the souls alone, we'll have breakfast and think up, what  farther," he gurgles only. Sarah doesn't like this idea of dead souls at all, she looks frightened around. Fire begins to burn.

   "Are they here now? Anywhere here?"
   Bumbác breaks a couple of branches, he feeds the flames with them. Zuzana continues.
   "They told me too, that Leopold Bumbác is the one, who can help them, and if he doesn't do it, he won't never free of them. They are said to be bad for you, Bumbác, as they were bad to us and you until now."
   "The mayor is bad to you, he stole your horse! Let him help them," Bumbác roars and throws to the flame a next branch. "I'm not interested in dream's souls anymore."
   "They should be, because they are the souls of dead soldiers you killed in the war."
   The flame crackles, it bubbles in the cauldron. All look at Bumbác.
   "It happens in the war, that there are dead there. Wars are for order, you, civilians will never understand it, because you never experienced war!" Bumbác says hurt, he nags with the stick in coals.
   "And what would Bumbác do then?" the Baron asks Zuzana.
   "To free them from the empire between the worlds and to help to go away to live with the dead." Zuzana points out the cemetery, Sarah trembles, as cold runs her backbone.
   "Did they tell it in the dream?' the Baron asks doubtfully. Bumbác adds:
   "What fairy-tales is it? How am I likely to do it?"
    It doesn't make sense for Bumbác, he devotes himself deliberately to fire.
   "And do you know how to get there?" Sarah whispers.
   "And that told me the souls in the dream," Zuzana says.
   "How did they look?" This idea frightens Sarah more and more. But Zuzana doesn't give attention to her, she thinks, the situation is serious.
   "At the sunset you have to climb the highest mountain in the area, to kindle the fire there, these herbs to throw to it..."
   Zuzana shows Bumbác a linen sachet full of dried herbs, which she had already prepared for him, and she put it down on the chair next to him.
   "In this fire you have to burn down your uniform, later to drink the medicine of poppy-head, woodruff and sponges."
   Zuzana pours liquid from the cauldron into the small canteen, she puts it down next to the linen sachet.
   "Later you read this spell."
   She adds to things rolls of paper, tided with rope by a leafless rush of a plant.
   "And later you wait for a gate's guardian."
   "Who is it?" Bumbác asks, he looks at all strange magician objects, and he longs because of them.
   "Your guide is between the worlds. You give him an image. Show me, what you've got in your pockets."
    He takes out the harmonica from the pockets, the scarf with the heart, and the card of King of hearts, he puts it all next to the things on the chair.
   "It will be your guide," Zuzana points out a red gnome on the card, who grimaces happily.
   "Until you do all, as I said, you press the card to your breast and you wait, what happens."
   "Well..." Bumbác doesn't already want to listen to it.
   "Probably it suits all, a card, plants to the fire, tea to sleep. But to burn down the uniform? Such stupidity can say only a woman." He smiles a little spasmodically, he winks at the Baron, too.
   "Don't you think seriously? Do you understand at all, you civilians, what means an uniform for us, soldiers? It's like for you... I don't know... probably a caravan. Your life! I'll tell you, too, what I imagined today, yeah? In my dream three souls of little pigs came to me, and they whispered to me, that we should drink white coffee in the morning and all will be happier immediately, they say. They told me it somehow... Three pink, charming little pigs."
   Bumbác laughs at his own joke, but he is the one. The fire crackles."
   "So, my dear, I won't burn down my uniform. Never! This uniform went through hell with me, and it protected me. I can't burn it!"
   He smacks proudly in his dirty felt. It soars dust a little.
   "You won't get between the worlds without it, Bumbác, and the souls will disturb you further," Zuzana says friendly, but Bumbác loses already patience.
   "No dead souls won't tell me, what I have or I'm not allowed! Tea from st john's wort helps for bad sleep, Zuzana, and if I bring you bad luck, I'd rather go my way."
   "Don't be upset, Bumbác," Sarah says friendly, but Bumbác is already full of hot air.
   "Thank you for all," he says, kisses Sarah long time and wants to go away. He feels suddenly painfully sad. "It's a pity, that we didn't catch to get to know more, beauty. Goodbye."
   "Don't go anywhere, Bumbác," Sarah hugs him, but he had already decided. He gives the Baron and Zuzana the hand and takes his things from the chair: the harmonica, the scarf and the card.
   "I'm out of your sight, so as not somebody steals the caravan, too. Where are these times, when people respected the soldiers!" he chatters offended and goes away. Zuzana calls him:
   "Bumbác, if you won't help them, you'll take bad luck with you everywhere!"
   "I disappear already too! I disappear already! Lousy soldier!" Bumbác roars over his shoulder and he doesn't even look back.
   "Oaken head," the Baron doesn't resigns and disappears in the caravan. Sarah and Zuzana watch the soldier leaving.
   "Will he come back?" Sarah whispers.
   "I don't know," Zuzana says.
   "And what are saying your cards?"
   "That all goes well. And if not, it went already well," Zuzana smiles and strokes Sarah tender.

Chapter ten

Getting to know

Bumbác arrived not far away. He sits down sad in the old cart in the field directly behind the village and he watches the sunset. In the hand he takes a half empty bottle of booze. He jumps down to the ground and shouts vainly to the sky.
   "So, where are you, my friends?! The souls, neither alive, nor dead! They say you are here with me! So, show yourself!"
   The silence answers him. Only the sun goes down. Bumbác snorts scornfully. But later nearby the field's road the dust swirls. A little cloud begins to approach to Bumbác, he looks only drunk at it. The cloud keeps spreading to fall down straightaway to him. A powerful wind's gust smacks his face and throws off his cap.
Bumbác is surprised a little. He has sip from the bottle and yells.
   "Are they the souls? The wind blows only. Do you know  nothing like blowing into the cap, my ghosts? What?"
   He wears the cap and big hailstones fall down on his head at the moment. After them it rumbles.
   "Ouch!" Bumbác hisses and he picks up a piece of frozen ice. He looks surprised at the sky, which heavy clouds black. But a swarm of hailstones goes down already upon him, it
comes down on the ground straight upon him. Bumbác manages only like this to hide under the cart, hailstones fall down with rumble on it in a second. He covers the head with his hands, he looks around carefully in a moment. Hailstones accumulate namely everywhere around the cart, but they don't fall down upon him. He has sip from the bottle and croaks.
   "Hailstones. Well, God. As if I had never seen hailstones. Exactly! Are they really dead souls?!"
   At the moment hailstones stop falling down, as the tap in the heaven had been closed, and it is silent again. Bumbác can hear only his own breath. But not for long. From the sky little dark stones begin to fall down and they beat on the cart, Bumbác cowers under it. This is too much for the soldier. He has sip from the bottle powerful again and holds out for one of the stones. It is a button! Exactly such button, as he had on his uniform, a metallic, matt button with two daggers. Buttons fall down from the sky in different sizes, they are matt, polished, afraid to look there. It sounds like hissing of thirty savage cats. In front of Bumbác's astonished eyes a big ball lightning appears. It rotates slowly in air left to right. Bumbác watches it scared. 
The lightning flies around him and it sets off straight to the village, where it flies into a nearest barn, and it catches strong fire within a moment. Bumbác watches fearfully fire escalating and escalating, and villagers gathering and trying to put out it. And later deep, terrifying voices echo.
   "Do you enjoy provoking us!?"

   Bumbác gets scared, untill he drops the bottle and hits his head on the cart's bottom.
   "Who is speaking?!" he wheezes in the darkness.
   An further voice echoes from another direction.
   "You know, who's speaking!"
   "What do you want?" Bumbác screams and a third ghost thunders behind his back.
   "You know well, what we want!"
   Bumbác, scared to death, turns to the voices in all directions like a frightened pigeon.
   "Leave me alone!" he asks.
   Handful falling buttons with hailstones throw abruptly from the direction of the last voice. These unnecessary buttons fall down on the field.
   "Why don't you help us?" one of the ghosts thunders.
   "How?" Bumbác stammers again.
   "You know how! If you don't help us, bad luck never leaves you and follows not only you, but all, who you meet any time, or you kiss, or stroke," the ghosts resound with strong voices. "Bad luck doesn't live to the end of your days!"
   "But why?" Scared Bumbác almost cries. He doesn't experience it in his life.
   "You know why!" it thunders behind his back.
   "Help!!!" Bumbác screams and covers his ears. He looks completely like a little scared boy now.
   It happens nothing for a moment and later a ghost's evocative and maybe sad voice hisses for the last time.
   "Hear us! You are the one, who can help us! We're connected with you."
   Whereupon silence will settle. Frosty silence. Bumbác yells and he drinks the rest of booze up in a stroke, but he doesn't stop silence with it. Later he falls down like a sack. He falls down beside the cart to buttons' drift.


 


Chapter eleven

Back to the village!

It dawns, a cock crows and greets a new day. Bumbác wakes up - he has a headache like a crock. He sits down carefully and looks around. There is nothing left after buttons and hailstones, only everywhere wet grass grows. Bumbác breathes easy and smiles. He dreamed only! But later his smile freezes on his lips. He will see the barn. It is all charred, it is still smoking from the entablature. Bumbác doesn't wait for anything, he jumps up and runs with premonition back to the village.
   In the camp at the cemetery he finds ritual things on the chair at the fire - a bag with herbs, the canteen with drink and paper with spells. He approaches quietly to the open caravan's window and looks inside. 
His throat squeezes fear. Sarah lies in the bed, she got a fever. Zuzana and the Baron sit down at her bed. Zuzana wipes her forehead with a wet towel. The Baron gives her hot tea with teaspoons. Sarah opens hardly her lips and she is burning up. Bumbác leans himself at the caravan directly near the shutter and he takes a breath deeply several times. If the infernal souls are right? And beautiful Sarah, who can't do anything, suffers from them? And Bumbác is only guilty! Zuzana leans out of the window.
   "What are you doing here? Run away."
   "What's the matter with her."
   She got a fever in the night."
  "Is it because of me?" Bumbác whispers.
   "Run better." Zuzana shuts the shutter and draws the curtains. Bumbác stays like a scalded. In the caravan Sarah tries to sit down on the bed.
   "Where is Bumbác?" She asks with feverish voice. Suddenly she is very afraid. The Baron strokes her.
   "He went on his way, Sarah. Take a rest."
   Zuzana gets up. "I'll bring water." She gets out and notices, that the chair at the fire is empty. The prepared things for Bumbác's ritual disappeared. Zuzana smiles easy and goes to the pump for water to cool because of fever tiring sleeps.

Chapter twelve

Horror

Bumbác climbs a high mountain, he thinks about Sarah, he is afraid. His forehead glistens with sweat. Thinks can't stop. He runs lively to a steep slope. When he reaches the top, the sun just goes down, it lights the skyline for dark red shades. It looks completely majestic. Bumbác kindles the fire and takes off the coat. He looks at reinforcing flames and plucks up courage for burning the uniform.
   "Don't be angry, my nice faithful uniform. I'm sorry, believe me, but it's a task. Possibly even an order, too, they say it doesn't get the way without it. Forgive me, I pray."
   Tears rise to his eyes, he presses down the uniform to his heart as he says goodbye to his lover.
   "You will always have a place in my heart. You are for me... I don't want to be pathetic, but it's like I burn a piece of me. Damn it, maybe I will cry here."
   He throws the coat to the fire, whirl of sparks flies out to the sky, until it crack.

   "I'm already getting stupid because of it, I'm talking to the piece of a rag."
   He takes off the trousers, the belt and the cap, and he throws them to the flames, too. He stays on the hill with long johns only, he ties a scarf with monogram on his wrist, he hangs the harmonica on his neck and squeezes the King of hearts' card in his palm. According to Zuzana's instructions he pours plants to the fire. It spits out such high flames, that Bumbác jumps back.
   "A gate's guard, come to my fire," he reads slowly a spell on the paper.
   "I'm ready for coming in between the worlds. And help me to bring the light to the darkness."
   He throws the paper to the fire, he sits down and leans at the rock, he drinks from the canteen, his mouth winces, it is very bitter. He looks at the card with a gnome and presses down on his breast. He is afraid.
   "So come, you ghost."
   He drinks magic drink again and he already feels, as its power stupiefies him. Bumbác's head falls on his chest and he finally he felt better.
   The night felt at home. Only flaming carbons reminded. Bumbác sleeps like the dead. Most probably he imagines something, his eyelids twitch slightly. After it suddenly the fire glows sharp. Bumbác shuddered, until he woke up. The fire burns metre flames and a red gnome looks out over them. He looks identically like on that card, which Bumbác squeezes in the palm. Something like a jester, a goblin, a king and a hobbit. In the hand he has got a broken mirror and he looks at himself with satisfaction. He speaks quickly, rather to himself only. He is enough funny, even so he ensures strange respect at the same time.

   "Well, look, yeah, yeah... It's better. Categorically better. Beautiful hair..."
   He roots about his tousled red hair.
   "I'm looking good, it must be left. Better than last time... It's yeah, it's yeah..."
   And he tourns round to stunned Bumbác.
   "Last time I was looking like one hundred pounds weighing toothless hag. Can you imagine this?"
   Bumbác shakes his head. He is completely scared.
   "No wonder. But this time I look good. Yeah... You can almost say - handsome, don't you think? Mister Beaut... What do you say?"
   He jumps around the fire and he can't see himself enough, he strokes his red coat, he ripples hair with his hand, he smoothes with his finger on the teeth. Bumbác squeals shyly.
   "Indeed."
   "I always look like differently, did you know it?"
   "No," Bumbác whispers.
   "Well, how can you know it? Look," the gnome cackles. "We see for the first time, though, and for the last time I hope. So to this time, until you set off with me..."
   He points out the flames, he grimaces just slyly.
   "... to that world. So you meet me later, you want or not, friend."
   The gnome giggles.
   "And who are you in fact?" Bumbác dares.
  "You know, they call me differently, such variously... but they call me generally "death"...
   The fire crackles.
   "It the word frightens you, don't worry, call me "guide" or mister guide? As you wish..." The gnome giggles because of his speech.
   "The guide sounds namely travelogue a little, but it won't disturb me. Well...or such leader of expedition would be possible... anyway every time I look differently, what isn't such game again, as it could seem at first sight... if you weigh quintal for example, it isn't anything funny. Did you weigh quintal sometime?"

   "No."
   "Be glad! Or once I looked like a little shaggy panda. It's a stunted bear, who doesn't smile at all. It was enough boredom, too," the gnome grimaces. "Well, in short I'm pleased that I look quite decent with you, Leopold."
   He hides the mirror in the coat.
   "You called me, so what are you willing?"
   Bumbác takes a breath and expresses it:
   "I have to get between the worlds."
   The gnome answers, as he plays dumb.
   "Sure, I'm here from it. But why do you push in? Do you have enough of life?"
   " They say, I have to find three souls, which trapped and to free them."
   "Three souls... Oh... yeah, yeah, I can see them, boy... You care them always with you. Oops... And they aren't just nice to you, are they? Well, yeah... Did you send them on a long way, Bumbác?"
   "Yes, I did."
   The gnome appraises the situation dramatically:
   "Oh, oh... Well, so we start! We have to be back to the dawn, so from this moment you will do everything, what I tell you... My trousers are pretty, too."
   He has a look at his breeches with satisfaction.
   "To get the gate between the worlds, you have to have soil  in the mouth, fire in the hand, water in the eyes and wind in the hair."
   Bumbác looks and he doesn't understand at all.
   "Yeah, well! Fit into it... The Earth rotates and the Sun always burn only a half... The universe consists of two halves... and in the morning it won't burn anything for you, if you wouldn't do, what you have to, Leopold Bumbác... So bash, bash... soil to the mounth, fire in the hand..."

   During his chatter the gnome took a piece of a burnt-out carbon, he blackened two fingers and painted smudges on Bumbác's cheeks and forehead. He did it for himself too. It looks like Indian war painting. The gnome sniggers, Bumbác is surprised.
   "Is it necessary?" he asks.
   "It isn't necessary, but it looks good."
   Bumbác takes a burning stick from the fire and he repeats the procedure for himself aloud.
   "Fire in the hand...
   He takes handful of dust with another hand.
  "Soil to the mouth... but there isn't water here and the wind doesn't blow.
  "I provide water and the wind. If I tell you, we start running and jumping here into the abyss."
   The gnome pulls a burning log out a of the fire and throws it into the abyss. Bumbác looks at it. The log falls down one hundred metres, it breaks down on the sharp rocks in the geyser of sparks. Bumbác shivers.

   "But we'll kill ourselves!"
   "To get through the gate between the worlds you have to overcome fear and trust me, soldier."
   "Where do you know, that I'm a soldier?"
   "You gave me your uniform," the gnome grimaces and winks with one eye. Bumbác notices, that really he wears his uniform, only it seems as it is ingrained to the gnome's eccentric features and proportions. It is all red, somehow shrunk and very ragged.
   "Still only one small specification!" the gnome raises his finger validly.
   "If you see there anything, where we're going, don't close your eyes in front of it at any price. Did you understand?"
  "Yes," Bumbác nods.
   "If you don't free the souls to the dawn, you never come between the livings."
    Bumbác already gets ready to jump, later a terrible panic attacs him.
   "You know, let us leave it for tomorrow... I'd like still to arrange something... Let us move it a little... After Sunday I'll stop here again... I didn't see my brother for years..."
    A little babbling he tries to hide his fear, the gnome savours maliciously, later he catches his hand in a flash, and before Bumbác appears, he starts running and jumping on the edge of abyss.

   "Don't forget to take soil to the mouth, otherwise you'll regret!" he shouts running at Bumbác, who hardly catches to stuff soil to his mouth, while they both take off and throw themselves into the abyss. Bumbác holds on the gnome's sleeve tightly, in the other hand he takes a burning log, hair flies, the gnome laughs squeaky. Sharp rocks approach in a hurry, it looks like smashing against them, when the rocks dispersed literally and changed into water surface, so they both dive into it. They disappear in the geyser of bubbles for a moment. Bumbác looks around himself, he tries to orientate, it is not possible. He can see only, that the stick in his hand still burns, he opens his mouth surprised, immediately soil falls out his mouth. It rises up like a bright cloud around his head, until it comes to the burning stick. The flame glitters of all colours and water swings strangely. It echoes a distant thundering. It seems, that it approaches more and more. A ray of blinding light appears down under them, as it linen is tearing, a gap of light widens and pulls Bumbác and the gnome in its interior. The whirlpool intensifies and two bodies sink into the depths lower and lower.

 Chapter thirteen

A couple of seconds to shot

Suddenly it is completely silent. You can't even hear any flock of geese flying high on the sky. But later strange thundering and roaring begin to approach, and in the sky appears a scar like a blue velvet tears. And noise intensifies and it strengthened

unstoppable. Until water spouts through split in the sky, and Bumbác and the gnome come down from it. They both fall down straight into the raging battle. There are smoke, sabres, bayonets, guns, horses and shouting around everywhere. The gnome stnad up first, points out a big gun and shouts:
   "Load the gun!"
   Bumbác is confused, wet like a mouse, looks round himself and doesn't understand at all, where he is on the way. The stick in his hand still burns!
   "Do it or somebody kills us!" the gnome shouts.
   Bumbác takes a ball and loads the gun.
   "Set the fuse on fire!!!"
   Bumbác sets the fuse on fire with the stick. The gnome scatters powder on the barrel from the bottle, which he has got on the string on the neck. The bottle looks like a little hourglass. The gnome rises directly in front of the barrel, probably a meter from it, and he yells:
   "Rise behind me and catch me strongly! Do it!"
   "It kills you, move back!" Bumbác shouts, whereas the fuse hisses and fire digests it quickly.
   "Do it, Bumbác, rise behind me and catch me!" 
   Bumbác is afraid, he doesn't understand anything. On the right, on the left the battle rages. It remains a couple of seconds to shot.

   "Do it!"
   The soldiers already notice the strange pair around, they look at the gnome, as he stands in front of the loaded gun and yells to Bumbác:
   "You have to trust me! Catch me, quickly!"
   Only one moment before it, until the fuse burns out, Bumbác jumps behind the gnome and he puts his arm around him strongly. A spark burns gunpowder, a deafening shot echoes. Somebody shouts. The gun's ball rushes out directly against the gnome's breast, the second seems to be endless. It looks, that the ball strikes the gnome with its deadly power, but as soon as it touches him, it dives in his body, which is suddenly like elastic, and Bumbác and the gnome sneak into the ball and shoot to the blue sky. It's only a moment. Suddenly the battle and cries, shots and request are away. There is a silent forest below. The ball cuts the airspace whistling and flies against current of time. In a moment a foggy covering appears in front of them. It's snow! Only during of a moment Bumbác and the gnome, changing in the ball, fly from the luminous summer into freezing winter. The landscape under them is covering by snow. Children sledge on the slope, skate on the pond, but it's only a moment and the ball rushes out from the snowflakes and the country below discolours on autumn. On the fields fire burns, the boys roast potatoes and they fly paper kites. The gun's ball approaches to one kite dangerously, it passes it by a hair, until air whirlpool spins it wildly, but the ball flies farther into the rain, and later into the spring sun, until it disappears out of sight.

Chapter fourteen

An another man

On a small village square midday silence reigns. It's a sultry summertime, the air is thick, and the birds are lazy to fly in this heat. The gun's ball crashes down with piercing whistle from the sky and it falls down on the dust close by the school. It jumps up and down several times and it falls apart in two parts in the last jump. The gnome and Bumbác rise from them again. They both still fly a piece of road, they turn a couple of somersaults in the dust, until finally it stops. The gnome jumps up lively to his feet.
   "It was a ride, wasn't it?" he is happy. "Do you have the harmonica?"

   Bumbác feels it still hanging on his neck and it is all right.
   "I do!"
   "So hold it and don't let it go!"

   The gnome shakes the dust and from the coat and he takes out his battered mirror, he approaches Bumbác and pushes it in front of his face. Bumbác looks at it and, the world, wonder, there stands completely an another man! 
   "Ugh, what's that? What have you done to me? Who am I?" Bumbác gets scared.
   "Before I tell you, who you are, I have to explain you, what is wating here for you, Leopold Bumbác," the gnome says slowly and seriously. But Bumbác doesn't listen to him, he whips out the mirror from his hand and he passes his palm powerless across the strange face.
   "I don't look like me at all! And I've got another voice!"
   "Keep calm, soldier. You will be only a while somebody else, but in fact you are always yourself," the gnome babbles purposely about his.
   "How can it be me, if I look completely like somebody else?"
   Bumbác looks desperately at the mirror, he shakes it, as if it could help.
   "Give me myself back!" he shouts.
   The gnome pulls out the mirror from his hand.
   "And enough! Give it here. The body, Bumbác, is only a box, so stop so being furious. You people with your appearance stand on ceremony," he puts the mirror back in the coat and continues.
   "Be careful now very much: Three souls, which you have to free and which you meet with me here, have gone of the world of the living because of you. You had killed them, before they didn't manage to forgive themselves. They didn't manage to reconcile to themselves, do you understand? That's why they are neither dead nor alive, they stuck then between two worlds."
   "And what should I do?" Bumbác doesn't understand.
   "You will do, what they didn't manage to. You forgive them!"
   "I don't know them. What do I have to forgive them?"
   "A fault," the gnome says and he winks insincerely.
   "A fault?" Bumbác swallows.
   "You know your game, guilty, not guilty, reward, punishment, and so on. You know it surely."
   "Yeah?"
   "It is completely for sure. You people thought it up."
   Bumbác doesn't understand, what the gnome thinks about it.
   "A game?"
   For sure! There is a strange game. First you create a fault alone to punish yourself..."
   Suddenly he gives Bumbác a slap in the face.
   "... you think in all probability, that you will be better."
   He gives him still another one.
   "Ouch!"
   "... and later you don't miss anything like that forgiving of the fault, and finally you see that you have to forgive it yourself."
   He gives Bumbác another slap.
   "And so always over and over again. I don't know, who has learnt you, but you are the best. Only human being, from all of living creatures, I have met, is able to punish for one offence repeatedly. What? Why are looking at me, maybe as if you don't know it."
   Bumbác gets still another slap.
   Well, you are right, you are right, already enough, don't babble any more! But why do I look like a stranger?"
   "Somebody forgives the three souls, who loves them. Then only the forgiveness has a real power, do you understand?"
   "And then, in the name of all that's holy, who am I?"
   "Your name is Antonín Mach. Here your brother Olda works at school. That's him, can you see him?"
   The gnome and Bumbác approach the window and look inside. A slim teacher, Oldřich Mach packs really the things in a rucksack there. He looks fragile a little.

   "Come," the gnome snatches the hand of Bumbác and he pulls him to school.
   "And what should I forgive him?" Bumbác manages still to say a word.
   "He took away your wife seven years ago," the gnome says dry, Bumbác stops him.
   "Maybe not it!"
   "From that time you didn't speak together."
   The gnome pushes Bumbác in front of the school, until he stops in front of the teacher's room.
   "My brother took away my wife too and from that time I don't speak to him," Bumbác says slowly.
   " I know," the gnome winks insincerely and adds: "We are all connected more than you think." Later he knocks at the room's door.
   "Wait!" Bumbác goes pale. He doesn't want at all.
   "I will be there with you, but you see me only you! So better don't speak to me, as not to look like a madman," the gnome manages still to remark and he knocks for the last time.
   A silent teacher's voice echoes:
   "Come in."
   "Wait, I can't go there..." Bumbác grips the gnome's hand.
   "You must go there, my dear Bumbác," the gnome smacks his back soothingly. And he adds:
   "Where you don't want to most, you look at it most there." Later he winks insincerely with his eyes and opens the door.

Chapter fifteen

The first forgiveness

Bumbác came slowly in the room, later directly behind him the inquisitive gnome, who nobody else can see than Bumbác. The teacher stops packing his rucksack and he stiffens suprised, and Bumbác stands like being scald. They look at themselves dumb and helpless.
   "Greet," the gnome advises.
   "Keep well," Bumbác whispers. The gnome advises whispering.
   "Brother..."
   "...Brother," Bumbác repeats.
   Oldřich Mach can't still believe his eyes.
   "And you keep well, brother. What a surprise."
   He tries to sound self-assured and relaxed, but he does it badly.
   "Why did you come?"
   Bumbác looks at the brother dismayed. He breathes in, but later he hisses at the gnome.
   "I can't."
   The gnome constricts the pupils.
   "You must forgive your brother, Bumbác! And don't talk to me, you look like a madman."
   "What did you say?" Olda asks.
   "Nothing," Bumbác says a word.
   "What can I offer you? Wife baked a cake," the brother stammers out.
   He stops realizing, that he is on the thin edge. This word "wife" hurts Bumbác visible.
   "Sit down," Olda offers Bumbác a chair.
   "Thank you. Maybe I would rather like to keep standing. Actually I have already to go slowly," Bumbác apologizes.

   "But you came now," the brother is surprised.
   "You don't go anywhere and sit down! Do, what you must," the gnome says and pokes Bumbác to the table.
   "Leave me," Bumbác protests, Olda thinks nonetheless, that it refered to him.
   "If you want to, stand quietly," he adds. He is sad in some way, too.
   The gnome let Bumbác sit down. The motions of Bumbác seem Olda unusual a little, but he doesn't comment on it. He looks at his brother and feels a big emotion.
   "I don't have all night for it!" the gnome remarks.
   "All night?" Bumbác repeats.
   "We don't just have it, so start!"
   "If you want to stay all night long here..." Olda doesn't understand much.
   "No, no!" Bumbác says fast, the gnome prods him in the back.
   "Have a cake, it is proper," he pulls his hand in the direction of the cake, but Olda can see only the strange motion of Bumbác. The brothers both sit down now on the opposite side of them, they look at themselves and don't know, what to say. Bumbác reaches out for a cake's piece, he smiles at Olda, he bites.
   "So don't torment me, brother," finally Olda doesn't put up with it.
   "Seven years is enough! There are no days not to think about you."
   Bumbác answers icily:
   "The same for me, brother. How is..."
   He rolls his eyes on the cake. The eyes' gleam talks Olda a lot, who he means.
   "Andulka?" he finishes.
   "Yes. Your wife," Bumbác grimaces sourly, and when he knows, that he behaves like a fool.
   "She's all right." And later Olda has the courage, he expresses it, what he already needed to express a long time ago.
   "I know you will always love her, brother. However she loves you, too, she told me it several times, when she always wanted to annoy me."
    Bumbác smiles for the first time, suddenly Olda does, too.
   "There are days, too, when I would like to give her back, brother."
   Bumbác smiles still more, suddenly he finds out it all absurd.
   "Well, the cake could be better after these years..." he remarks between the bites and gives back an uneaten piece on the plate. Olda smiles.
   "She tries hard."
   Both of the brothers look at themselves, finally tension seems to relieve a little. They didn't see for many years! Olda takes out a harmonica of his pocket and he says quietly.
   "You miss me every day, believe me! Do you remember the harmonica? You gave it to me, do you remember?"
   It is the same harmonica with monogram, which Bumbác found on the battlefield.
   "If you can, forgive me, brother. Please," the teacher Olda says, in his eyes tears glisten.
   Scared Bumbác runs his eyes over the harmonica and Olda, suddenly he realizes that Olda is a soul, which he killed. He grows pale and catches breath. He looks at the gnome, that shrugs only his shoulders sad and nods.
   "Is something happened?" Olda notices the excitement of the brother.
   Bumbác has no words, he swallows deathly pale.
   "Brother..."
   Suddenly Bumbác expresses it.
   "I forgive you, with all my heart, that you took away my wife."
   The gnome nods his head satisfied and he looks at Bumbác encouraging. His eyes filled with tears, he stands up slowly, comes to Bumbác and embraces him. Suddenly this tender embrace gives calm and relief to both.
   "Thank you. You can't imagine, what a fault was a burden to me," Olda says. The gnome smiles, he pours magic powder to the palm from the bottle and he throws it up the air. All begins changing. Bumbác closes his eyes, on his cheeks tears glisten. His own appearance comes back slowly. In the distance drums echo.

Chapter sixteen

The war

When Bumbác opens his eyes again, he has already got his appearance and instead of the teacher he embraces the gnome, who whispers to his ear:
   "Good work." Bumbác jerks with himself and walks away.
   "Look, they lead him away to the war," the gnome says and Bumbác can see, that he doesn't stand in the teacher's room, but on the village square. The gnome points out the church, where two infantry soldiers just do their dirty work. On of them drums, the other one controls the recruits' names and seat them on the wagon. There is the teacher Olda between them, too, he just says goodbye to his wife Andulka. Olda climbs up on the wagon, he sits down between the other fresh soldiers. Bumbác looks at it stunned.
   "We must stop it! Do something! Please!" he shakes the gnome.
   "I can't do anything," the gnome shrug his shoulders.
   "How, that no? You had done his brother, moved us over time, you must do something! Stop it, they don't dare recruit him! When they don't recruit him, I will never kill him. Please, please, do it!"
   "It's impossible. Now you look at something, what was truncated, Bumbác. I don't already have any power there," the gnome explains. The wagon takes away slowly Olda and the other men. The infantry soldiers drum exactly and without mercy. Olda keeps his harmonica in the hand, later he looks in the direction of Bumbác, maybe as if he could see, he smiles sad and disappears behind the church. In the distance a salute of shots echoes, till Bumbác gets frightened.
   "What was it?"
   "The war, Bumbác, you know it good nonetheless," the gnome says.
   "I know, but where does it come from here?"
   "Come, we must go." The gnome doesn't wait for anything and he sets off on the farther way. Even if Bumbác doesn't want to, he must go behind him. A another salute echoes. They go along the street between the houses on the edge of the village and between the ears straight to the golden cereals. The gnome gets through wheat and shouts at Bumbác.
   "Come, come, we have to be on time there!"
   He opens the magic bottle and pours powder a little on the back of the palm. He takes a whiff to the both nasal holes with one breathing in. An another salute resounds, this time already closer. It is clear, that they shoot behind the horizon. Our both travelers pave just there the way through cereals. The gnome takes the hand of Bumbác and he pours on his back powder from the bottle, too.
   "Breathe in!"
   "Why?"
   "If you won't be dead, give it to your nose. And hold the scarf in your palm and don't let it drop at any price!"
   An another salute sounds, Bumbác pulls the red scarf around his palm still more for safety.
   "War is war, thanks it there is an order in the world. You said it somehow or am I wrong?" the gnome grimaces. Bumbác takes a whiff of powder, as it stings his eyes. They come finally to the ridge of the field, just in the moment, when a row of Prussian soldiers kneel to the next shot. Mainly all weapons aim straight at them. Bumbác gets a fright, he hold the gnome on his sleeve, maybe as if he could help him.
   "Right, Bumbác, hold on me and don't close your eyes at anyprice, is that clear?"
   Hardly the gnome expresses it, Bumbác covers his eyes with the second hand. The look at aiming soldiers scared him more, than he had waited for.
   "Open your eyes!" the gnome shouts.
   A robust commander just raises a sabre on command "FIRE!" The soldiers press the triggers.
   "Open your eyes!!!" the gnome shouts. Bumbác, scared to death, opens his eyes. In this moment the commander waves the sabre, they take fingers off the triggers and bullets fly out from the barrel like a swarm of hornets. One of them flies straight on the nose of Bumbác and when it touches him, the gnome and Bumbác become the bullet and they shoot like lightning to the sky. It flies above the landscape, higher and higher to the clouds. It comes down in the fog a moment, until it gets to a cloud. Imprisoned in the bullet Bumbác doesn't manage to astonish the magnificence. Later they both start sinking on the ground and recognize slowly a field, meadows, a little village, houses, a small church. A whistle of the bullet startles a flock of pigeons from the roof. Bumbác and the gnome are at the end of their second stop.

Chapter seventeen

Blažena

The bullet flies through the open window of the church directly to the altar, where Bumbác and the gnome come from it again. He jumps on his feet, takes out the mirror of the coat and pushes it with optimistic smile in front of the face of Bumbác. This time Bumbác can see in it a pretty young lady in a wedding dress and with a bunch of flowers. He announces dismayed in a nice women voice:
   "It's already a lot... A woman? Have you made a woman from me now?"
   The gnome cackles as a child, he cannot control himself.
   "Have you got a scarf?"
   "I have!" Bumbác waves irritated with the scarf.
   "Why are you smiling?"
   "I don't know, it amused me somehow... I'm simply good! You succeeded! You look perfect."
   The gnome smiles over and over again.
   "Thanks a lot. A woman and still in it!"

He tousles his ungainly white wedding dress a little. He turns around like a sugar doll, he tries hard to find out, how he should move actually in it, he treads on a train, he loses his balance and smacks on the ground. The gnome smiles, until he grabs his belly.
   "Don't smile!" Bumbác snubs him. "I can't walk in it."
   "Quiet, quiet, don't reveal us," the gnome chokes with laughter. When he calms down finally a little, he continues:

   "This time your name is Blažena Tláskalová."
   
"Blažena Tláskalová? No way! Why Blažena?" Bumbác moans with a girl's voice.
   "Over there, can you see?" the gnome points out a sacristy. Through the setting ajar door Bumbác can see an identical bride like just himself. The bride sits down on a little chair and she cries, until snot runs from her nose. She looks like having a nervous breakdown mountain of whipped cream.
   "You see, you had a wedding today," the gnome whispers Bumbác to the ear.
   "Haven't I got yet?"
   "No." The gnome takes the hand of Bumbác and he leads him to the church's door, he opens it, they both look out of the door carefully.

   "The bridegroom is a jealous man," the gnome explains, "he believed in slander and annulled the wedding at the last moment. Can you see him? That's him, his name is Venca."
   He points Bumbác out through the door's crevice a robust man, Venca, in a wedding suit. He stands in front of a long laid table, surrounded by wedding guests, offended and invincible. His mother is depressed, his father gets angry. A mother-in-law and a father-in-law the same.
   "Venca, don't be silly!" mother wrings her hands.
   "You won't hurt that girl nonetheless," father adds.
   "Run after her!" father-in-law advises.
   "Don't be a fool," mother-in-law adds. They show off their knowledge, one after the other. The gnome and Bumbác watch it from the church.
   "Can you see a bald guy over there? That, who is just drinking," the gnome points out.
   A frowning man stands a little aside. He pulls at the bottle a lot of a small flask.
   "It's Broněk. He persuaded your Venca, that you were unfaithful to him with Lojza."
   "Who is Lojza?" Bumbác doesn't understand.
   "It's not principal. He is a butcher from the neighbouring village."
   "A butcher? I was unfaithful to Venca with... a butcher?"
   "But you were not! I tell you, that it's slander!"
   "So why is this Venca getting stupid?"
   "You know, love..." the gnome shrugs his shoulders and he looks very prominently.
   "Endless work," Bumbác sighs.
   "You people are these, who want to own, what is not possible to own. He annulled the wedding, jealous man, and later he will reproach himself to death for hurting you... Then his beloved Blažena, do you understand me?" The gnome shows in the direction of the sacristy.
   "Yes, I do."
   Venca is the another soul, who you came to free, Bumbác."
   Bumbác sighs. "What am I to do?"
   "Run after him and arrange him to marry you. Then this Blažena."
   "Me? But I am a guy! And even if I look like that,"
Bumbác looks at the white mountain of cloth, what he wears.
   "Maybe it will be better. Possibly you will achieve it, what poor Blažena didn't manage. To talk out that hinny his jealousy. Good luck."
   "And if I didn't achieve it? If he will not... marry me?"

    "Later his soul takes the blame and it will be imprisoned between the worlds here. And you with it," the gnome shrugs his shoulders.
   "Haven't you got anything easier?"
   The gnome smacks the girl's back of Bumbác.
   "You whimper over and over again! You are like a woman! Go."
   He pushes Bumbác out of the church's door.
   The wedding guests notice, that the bride went out, they all calm down gradually. The hurt Venca looks bad at them. Bumbác tucked the wedding dress up and he strides purposefully fast with soldier's steps directly to them. A couple of wedding guests whispers something, all are nervous, what will take place next. The gnome minces beside Bumbác, only he can see him.
   "Go to him carefully, he's a very impulsive man," the gnome advises seriously.
   "So I am... Don't be afraid, there is nothing to boast about."
    "Don't destroy the beginning. And don't march! You are going like a soldier, but you are a bride, straighten up a little... throw out the chest... It needs a graceful walking! A graceful one!"
   "Quiet... Don't annoy me."
   They both approach the astonished wedding guests. Venca looks with an icy gaze.
   "What is his name?" Bumbác hisses.
   "Whose name?"
   "My bridegroom."
   "Venca, Vendelín. Better call him Venca. Or Venoušek? Well, you can choose much."
   "Be silent... But no, you will poke me again!"
    "I want to help you. Wait! Turn round!"
   The gnome stops Bumbác and let him tourn round back to the wedding guests. He takes out a red lipstick from somewhere and despite protests he paints his lips.
   "Leave it... What are you doing?" Bumbác is angry.
   "Only a little... Like it."
   "That's enough!"
   "So. You are an irresistible girl now. I would fall in love!" the gnome stares out. Bumbác turns round and finally he marches with rather exaggeratedly painted lips in front of Venca. He looks at his bride, she is short on something, but he doesn't know completely exactly, what it is. The wedding guests around don't even say any word. The gnome interrupts the break, he guesses, that Bumbác has forgotten.
   "Venca..."
   "I know!" Bumbác hisses, he cleans with his hand the absurdly painted mouth and he begins talking.
    "Venca... Look...You are a guy. And I am a... Woman."

Bumbác looks over himself, he corrects his mistake.
   "A girl... a pretty girl, I have to say..."
   "Yeah," Venca says a word, he doesn't know much, how to treat this strange situation.
   "All living men will prowl around me, so get used to it," Bumbác continues.
   "Don't provoke him in vain," the gnome whispers.
   "Silent!" Bumbác stops him, but Venca thinks, that it concerned him.
   "I don't say anything," he says shyly, Bumbác doesn't notice it, he holds his ground farther.
   "You are handsome such and women go for somebody like you, even if I am your wife, you know. You are my husband... So, you have had to be one and I hope still, that you will be..."
   "You are seven years together," the gnome advises farther, but Bumbác doesn't care about it.
   "You don't have to tell me it..." he continues, but he remembers in the middle of sentence, that nobody can see the gnome, and he says to Venca, as if nothing happens. "You don't have to tell me, that you like me, I know it, of course... We are seven years together. We experienced good days and bad days until now, and I know, that you are a good man..."
   The gnome whispers to Bumbác:
   "He's called up for military service tomorrow."
   "Why didn't you tell me it earlier?" Bumbác turns discreet to the gnome. Venca thinks nonetheless, that it concerned him again. All around can break their necks, as if they watch this strange conversation.
   "And what did I have tell you earlier?" Venca asks, the gnome says to Bumbác farther.
   "I'm telling you now. He is called up for military service tomorrow." Bumbác couldn't believe his eyes, later he turns back to Venca.
   "Why didn't you tell me earlier, that... that... that you don't want to marry me? Why are you such coward, that you will tell me it at the wedding day?"
   "A coward?" Venca says a word, Bumbác dropped in enthusiasm.
   "Yes, a coward! And besides it a fool, because you believe it, what somebody prompts about me. Possibly over there that..."
   He points out Broněk, who hides not far.
   "How is his name?" he asks the gnome.


   "Broněk."

   "There is a nice man
Broněk over there, who hides like a 

little boy, because he knows, that those were his words, he 

ruined all of us a today's lovely festive day. I don't know,

why he slandered me, maybe he loves me 

secretly, resolutely he is a reptile, who deserves to kick his fat, lazy bottom... And you had to kick for his poisonous speech."
   Here the mother's chin falls and of several another wedding guests. Broněk takes his hat from the chair and he leaves discreetly. He disappears like stench. Bumbác ends his speech slowly.
   "Dear Venca, I will never be able to prove as I love you much. Even my faithfulness. It concerns love and we men..." he points out himself and Venca, later he realizes, that he is a woman.
   "... you men must reconcile to it. And to it if you marry me or not. But when you don't marry me, here right now, you will reproach yourself to death, that you chose fear instead of love. Fear for this reason, that I don't love you enough. But I love you enough, dear Venca. You are the love of my life, and you take this love or you let it go."
  There is a silence at the moment, later a fat aunt claps with emotion.
  "That's all I wanted to tell you. And that's I forgive you your stupid jealousy, you oaken head."
   Bumbác lashes Venca with the wedding bunch of flowers, he hardly grips it, until he groans.
   "So, if you change your mind, I'll be waiting over there." He points out the church.
   "I'll recover myself there, I'll make up... or something..."
   The gnome nods laudatorily. It is exactly that, what brides do, when they get ready to say "yes."
   "Bye-bye."
   Bumbác turns and he strides with soldier's steps to the church, the gnome minces after him.
   "Girls don't say "bye-bye", but otherwise you were leading it excellently!" the gnome praises him.
   "Shhh..." Bumbác silences him. Petrified Venca and all wedding guests watch the bride, as she recedes, hisses, shakes, as if she chats to herself, unitl the church's door are closed behind her. One of the country-men doesn't give up commenting in a low voice:
   "She has brains."
   The bridegroom stands like scalded, and suddenly all are again clever starting :
   "Follow her."
   "Venca, you've heard it..."

   "She said it nicely!"
   "Venca, don't be getting stupid any more..."
   And Venca stands only and watches. Bumbác and the gnome closed the church's door and they run up the stairs on the choir. Bumbác stumbles, he cannot walk as well as run in the wedding dress.
   "Quickly," the gnome hurries him on. During the gallop his appearance and dress change again. He runs himself on the choir as a robust soldier in the drawers. He reacts it with gratitude. They both crouch behind the railings and wait.
   There is silence in the church, only dust raises up between the saints. Later a tearful bride comes slowly from the sacristy. In front of the altar she wipes red eyes, she snivels and directs her gaze on the stained-glasses over her. She asks quitely with humility and touching zeal:
   "Lord, let my Venca become wiser..."
   The gnome with Bumbác don't almost breathe in suspense. The church's handle clicks in the silence, until Blažena starts. In the door Venca stands, he is not already so self-assured and uncouth from far away, he comes tamed like a ram. The gnome claps with his little fists, he is happy like a little boy.
Blažena smiles at Venca shyly, she tries to read in his eyes. Venca embraces her with love.
   "Forgive me,
Blažena."
 
Blažena's eyes fill with tears.  And Venca is touched.
   "Do you marry me?" he whispers.
   "You know, that I marry you, Venca," Blažena is burning with happiness. The gnome, sitting on the choir, is feeling like crying too, he dooesn't hide it. He whispers to Bumbác:

   "I congratulate on the wedding." Bumbác smiles happy.

  
They dance, drink and feast under coloured Chinese lanterns. Venca with
Blažena dance solo, all clap, stamp to rhythm, embrace. Bumbác and the gnome watch them all from a short distance and they smile satisfied.
   "They are so happy. It is happiness to see happiness. I think that's why you people want to be always happy," the gnome meditates. Bumbác asks:
   "Explain me one thing... If they are so happy, why is he called up for military service tomorrow?"
   "Because that's all, what you see, you did, my dear Bumbác. Here between the worlds, the soul can find peace... The soul of Venca, as you see, has found the peace. Thanks to you."
   Venca smiles brightly and amorously at his pretty B
lažena, she kisses him tender.
    "It happened nothing of that in the reality."
    "Why not?"
Bumbác is surprised. The gnome shrugs his shoulders, he pours the magic powder on the palm a little and he blows it on the amused wedding guests, they start to disappear one after the other. Food, tablecloths and Chinese lanterns disappear, until only bare tables are left here in front of the deserted church. The last disappears pretty Blažena and Venca leaving with a bottle of vodka. It is darkness, only the moon looks sad at lonely crying bridegroom. The gnome bends forward Bumbác.
   "Venca didn't overcome his pride, he didn't marry
Blažena and he didn't return from the war, because you had killed him. You don't protect his body any more... But you could free his soul and you managed it."
   The gnome closes his magic bottle and all comes back to the
bright wedding. Venca dances with Blažena again, Chinese lanterns shine and there's music playing. The gnome smiles at Bumbác.
   "Body is only a box, which we all must give over. I was a kangaroo, except of a panda, so I know, what I say." And he bursts out infectious laughter.
   "Kan... what?"
   "All the same." he smacks the shoulder of Bumbác, and Venca and Blažena dance amorously farther in this magic night. There is pleasure to look at them.

Chapter eighteen

The forgiveness again

The night took place and newly married couple drunk with love are preparing to sleep. Venca just carries Blažena through the threshold into their building. The bride smiles charming, the bridegroom taps his forehead at the frame a little, Blažena hisses off happy. Bumbác and the gnome lie under the stars on the balk and watch this happy couple:
   "I'm glad that you didn't leave me in her body until now," Bumbác says, the gnome gives him a wink roguishly:
   "But you would have had a good time..."
    Bumbác laughs and shakes his head doubting:
   "What a spectre you are!"
   "Death, boy, it isn't holy at all."
   The light goes out in the cottage of Venca, and suddenly time accelerates, as it was from elastic, stars and the moon are flying on the sky, and hardly Bumbác manages to look at it, a new day already shines in the east. A cock crows noisy and the drums of infantry soldiers interfere in it like a sad heartbeat. They march on the road with dignity between the houses to the building of Venca. Two little boys already watch them secretly from the inn, they shelter behind fences and henhouses, catapults in one hand, stones in another one. The gnome points out the building of Venca. He just goes out with a rucksack, he has got  a red scarf on his neck with an embroidered heart, the same, which Bumbác had tied around his palm. Venca strokes sad the scarf, Bumbác covers his eyes with his hand, the gnome takes it down again.
   "Look only... That's why we are here..."
   The infantry soldiers approach unstoppable, the boys with catapults have already found a good place for shooting. The older one tightens the stone, he stretches the rubber band and aims. The gnome whispers to Bumbác:
   "Now take the card in your hand, hold it strongly and don't let it drop, until you are not awake on the mountain's top! This card gets you away from here. Have you heard me?"
   Bumbác nods, reaches into the pocket, looks at the king of hearts and presses it  in the palm, until inelastic paper crumples. The boy aims carefully on the soldier's cap and he plucks up the courage for shooting. The drumsticks fall down on the drums' leather. Venca stands and wait until they take him away. The boy closes his eyes and shoots finally. The stone passes the heads of infantry soldiers closely and it flies farther straight to Bumbác! The gnome blows on his palm and a cloud of his magic powder spreads against the approaching stone. Bumbác stares that the stone hits straight his forehead. At the moment the gnome and Bumbác become the stone and fly out abruptly over the landscape. It seems as time is not here again. The melted sun falls down behind the skyline and the pale moon settles on the skyline within a couple of seconds instead of it. The stone flies like a bullet over mountains, lakes and valleys, and it falls into a little village straight in front of the inn. It lies in dust for a moment, later a stifled groan echoes.

   "Well..."
   The stone jumps up and another strange sounds echo, while the gnome tries hard to get outside of  it, but it doesn't succeed. The stone is still tossing several times, until finally Bumbác and the gnome fall out of it.
   "Whew ..." the gnome shakes off the dust. "Stone is another material," he adds and takes out the mirror, which he holds before the face of Bumbác again.
   "What happened? Has something broken down?" Bumbác asks surprised. That is to say he can see himself alone in the mirror, only he has another clothes on.
   "No, everything is all right..."
   Bumbác looks around himself.
   "I know it here, we're in our countryside!"
   "Come, we don't must lose time," the gnome rushes him, takes his hand and pours the heads with magic powder. They both disappear and appear in the inn, in the little smoky room over the pub. There is freezing silence, only sheets of cards rustle in the palms. The four concentrated men are sitting around the table, one of them is Bumbác.
   "Why do you show me it, I know it good, I don't need to know it any more," Bumbác whispers to the gnome, when he can see himself sweaty at the table.
   "You can speak safely aloud, they neither hear us nor see us... Do you know him really? Only look."
   Expect of Bumbác his friend still sits at the table, a pleasant, robust man - his name is Otmar, and the another two players' names are Ivan and Saša. Saša is a fat shopkeeper from Hoslovice, and Ivan is a local gravedigger. All watch the play in eager anticipation, there is a big packet in the bank. Ivan puts the cards, later Bumbác, finally Saša. He wins and takes heaps of banknotes. Bumbác and Otmar has just lost enough of money,
Saša trembles with joy.
   "I don't want to look at it... I want to forget that night. Don't torment me,"
Bumbác asks leaned at the wall.
   "This time you can see facts of your point of view. Come..." the gnome takes his hand and he comes up to the gravedigger Ivan.
   "Look under the table."
   Bumbác bends down finding Ivan's board from below with sticked four cards on it.
   "That viper..." Bumbác hisses, Saša rises.
   "Gentlemen, it was a nice, I would like to say, even fertile evening, but I think it's time to go to beds."
   "Wait a minute, wait a minute..." Ivan stops him. "You said last three games,
Saša... This was the second one."
   "It's late. Let's put it off until tomorrow."
  
Bumbác, moved, hits on the table.
   "Three games, it will be over."
   "Saša... Sit down," Ivan looks at
Saša hard, he hestiates a moment, but later he sits down.
   "Okay...But if  the game is worth the candle, so we all play for all. All or nothing. Are you for?"
   They all think. Sweat glistens on their temples.
   "Okay,
" Bumbác agrees the first and he puts, moved, a little heaps of money it already was left in the middle of the table. His friend Otmar and Saša joins in. Finally Ivan moves his money in a big heaps of money in the middle.
Saša takes a packet, he gives it to Otmar.
   "Deal."
  
Bumbác hisses to the gnome's ear
at the wall behind Ivan:
  
"I don't want to see it, let's go."
   "You are not allowed to close your eyes in front of anyting you are meeting here...  Do you remember?"
   "I don't want to close my eyes, I want to go." And he sets off to the door, but the gnome grasps his sleeve.
   "Anywhere..." he winks at
Bumbác and smiles craftily. "Now when it is about all."
   And the game already runs. Bumbác, moved, hardly breathe at the table. He believes his cards. They aren't bad,
Saša just plays properly, too.
He concentrates, until he grates his teeth, Otmar wipes sweat from his palm. Cards grow in numbers on the table. Tension is unbearable. Bumbác looks standing at the wall and he can see Ivan  detaching a King of hearts from below the table, before anyone notices. At this moment it is clear, that Ivan is a winner. He puts his cards on the table triumphantly. Bumbác only drawls between the teeth:
   "Swine."
   It is the end.
Saša,
Bumbác and his friend Otmar lost everything. Ivan smiles impudently, Saša hits on the table furiously, he whimpers like a wounded grouse. Ivan says with superiority:
   "It was your idea to play for all."
   Saša beats once again, until cups with coffee jump, and he extricates himself from the room dazed by anger. Ivan lines the bag with banknotes satisfied.
   Gentlemen, I was enjoying me very much. Downstairs take a shot for me." He throws several coins on the table.
   "I will enjoy again next time!"
   He leaves Bumbác and his friend sitting like wet mice, lost in the smoke and unhappiness. Bumbác nestles his head against the palm, his friend tries to encourage him, he embraces him.
   "We will be more lucky next time."
   "All is gone... All...," Bumbác whispers.
   "You will earn again. There is a pilgrimage the day after tomorrow. You will sell a couple of pots, and before we are called up, you will win all back," his friend tries to comfort him again, but it is vain, Bumbác doesn't even move. The friend tries sad to wrap up his cards and to straighten them in the box.
   "Will you do something for me?" Bumbác squeaks with depressed voice.
   "I can't already lend you, Bumbác. I need alone."
   "Will you give me one card from your packet?"
   Bumbác takes the King of hearts from the table, this card, thanks to it Ivan the gravedigger outplayed all treacherously.
   "Take, which you want... And why?"
   "To remember forever, what a fool I was. And not to play cards anymore. And I will have in the war something from you, too, my friend."
   The gnome and Bumbác watch it quietly at the wall, Bumbác looks at the King of hearts in his palm.
   "Where was he only...?" Bumbác whispers looking at his friend.
   "You will hear about it, too," the gnome says.
   Otmar takes out one card from the packet, too.
   "You are right, I'll take one, too."
   The last ones are shredded and thrown up the air. Pieces of cards descend from the ground like coloured snow.
   "That's enough, let's go," the gnome says suddenly and he blows the magic powder from his palm. The room disappears and they appear in the pub downstairs. The tired innkeeper already puts chairs on the tables and he looks over scornfully dead drunk Bumbác, who drowned his sorrows and he takes a nap now.
   "So, Leopold, there is the last task before you," the gnome whispers to Bumbác.
   "You are going to the room number nine now here upstairs and you will forgive the traitor, who betrayed and robbed you, because as you see, you had then another worries."
   Drunk Bumbác mumbles something at the board of the table, and he snores then. The gnome points out the stairs, which lead to the inn's rooms.
   "The room number nine."
  



   





Chapter nineteen

The hardest examination

Bumbác knocks at the door of the room number nine. Nobody responses. He presses a handle and it is open surprisingly. In the hall it is darkness, but close to the room it is on and somebody speaks there, too. He goes farther after the sound of the voices; the dwarf after him. At last he recognizes the words, too. It is not possible! The gravedigger Ivan argues, whispering, with his friend Otmar! Ivan just says:

   "As it was a deal, your investment and a half of profit".

   "You said a half and expenditures to it!" Otmar stops him.

   "What expenditures did you have?"
   "Downstairs I poured a bottle of vodka for him to set him back on his feet a little".

  "I feel suddenly a pity".


"There are expenditures. You said a half of the win and expenditures".
   Bumbác doesn't believe his eyes standing behind the half-open door.

   "It is impossible," he breathes out devastated. He goes out of the room to the corridor.
   "It is impossible," he repeats like dreaming. The gnome squeezes his shoulder.

   "You know now, what a traitor you have to forgive. Do, what is necessary."
   Bumbác looks incredulously at the prickly eyes of the gnome. In his features he notices deathly pale face of Otmar for a moment. A terrifying deep voice echoes:
   "You are the one, you can  help us! We are united with you."
   These awful relations reach Bumbác. He looks scared at the gnome, he sees his friend's  card, which he crumples still in the hand. Later he turns round, runs down the stairs, later out of the inn. The gnome runs after him.
   "Do you want to persuade me, that the third soul, which I have to forgive here, is my best friend? And more, that he robbed me? You want to persuade me of it?" he shouts at the gnome.
   "I am sorry about it, Bumbác."

   Bumbác gasps for breath.
   "Nonsense! All of it is nonsense! All of this I imagine only! It is a bad dream and you examine me only strange here! I imagine you! All of this I imagine only and I wake up in a moment!"
   He pinches his palm, his face, he smacks in the face one, two times.
   "If you don't free the last soul, you will never wake up, Bumbác.

Dawn is approaching, you have to do, what I tell you," the gnome says slowly.
   "No! I will do nothing, what you tell me! You are illusion only! Madman! An one hundred pounds little panda!"
   Angry and confused Bumbác recedes of the inn more and more. The gnome already loses the calm.
   "Bumbác, stop! You have to trust me!"
   "How could I kill my own friend. Ha, ha!"
   "There are so many things happening in the world, you haven't the faintest idea about them!" the gnome shouts at him. Bumbác stops, turns round rapidly.
   "Show me, if you are so almighty!"
   The gnome opens the bottle and pours a drop of magic powder.
   "Look."
   It snaps, the powder scatters in the air and they both disappear.

 The full moon silver-plates charming the night on the sky. Bumbác and the gnome appeared directly on the battlefield in the camp of Prussian soldiers. The commanding tent looms up against the night sky, it keeps the lights on, the camp doesn't sleep. The general is a drunk and tired man a little, he stands at a battle map, and he concentrates. He studies frowning little toy soldiers, horses, and he makes placements on two sides of the battlefield. Otmar, the friend of Bumbác, just stands to attention waiting for instructions in front of him. At the tent's wall Bumbác and the gnome appear unnoticed, quietly like ghosts.
   "Soldier..." the general thunders. "We have news, that the enemy has got a fresh supply of ammunition, and we need to find out, where they located it in the camp, because we open fire on the ammunition early morning to surprise them, panic, fire. Boom! Bác!" The general destroys with his fleshy palm little toy-soldiers.
   "And that's our benefit. Understood?"
   Otmar bangs heels and and rings:
   "Yes, general!"
   "We already know, where they have mess and latrines, but it won't help us," the general points out little boxes presenting mess and latrines.
   "You have Austrian uniform here." He throws a dirty enemy's uniform with a little hole on the breast to him. Otmar sticks his finger in it.
   "You camouflage the hole with a strap, or smudge it somehow with mud, we don't have a better uniform."
   "Sure, sir!"
   "You steal into the enemy's camp and mark positions. Is it clear? If you manage it, you save plenty of cannon balls for our army."
   "Yes, sir!"
   The general measures Otmar drunk and he still adds:
   "If you don't come back till morning, we will attack as always."
   The gnome blows magic powder and all changes. They found themselves directly on the battlefield, now silence, peace and animated crickets rule over it in the night. The gnome points out stealing in Otmar. He has just stolen up on the enemy's camp wearing too small a little Austrian uniform. He hides behind a wide rose's bush, he takes out a little notebook and draws enemy's positions. Fire burns at Austrians, the soldiers drink and enjoy themselves subduedly. Otmar blinks in the darkness and finally he notices he search for - the tens of containers loaded with ammunition. He writes it down, puts the notebook back into the coat, and wants already to sett off on the way back, but suddenly one of the Austrian soldiers gets up, and staggers setting off directly to Otmar. Obviously, he will wee. Otmar crouches. So do Bumbác and the gnome, who watch it nearby. The Austrian comes all the way to the wide rose's bush, and because of the darkness he stambles directly over Otmar. He gets frightened, screams, jumps aside, touches Otmar, grips him and puts down. He calms down, because he can see according to the uniform, that he belongs to them.

  "What are you doing here? You have scared me, man!"
   Otmar thinks, what to say quickly, and finally he stammers out:
   "I have drunk too much a little."
   The Austrian looks at him searchingly.
   "Come to the fire."
   There are still another three soldiers sitting at the fire.
   "What regiment are you from?" the Austrian asks and gives Otmar a bottle of vodka.
   "I came yesterday... with ammunition," Otmar makes up.
   "So are you him? Hurrah!" the soldier calls out and strokes on Otmar's back.
   "Have some vodka", he offers. Otmar would like to disappear, he makes excuses:
   "I'm already fed up with it. I'm going to bed."
   "Even by accident! We are drinking for you all evening after all, man! You  have saved our bare bottoms! Thanks to you we have things to shoot!" the soldier says and points out a heap of fresh ammunition.
   "Hurrah! A why has it lasted for a long time?" the other soldier adds.
   "Mud on the road. I'm going to bed. I'm tired."
   The Austrian watches him searchingly, he can't imagine anything.
   "It wasn't raining for a week at least after all. Have you come with ammunition, you say?"
   Otmar's blood runs cold in the veins.
   "Yeah," he says carelessly. He takes the offered bottle for certainty and pulls at it tight.
   "Hurrah!" he pretends enthusiasm clumsy, fortunately the remaining three soldiers let themselves be encouraged.
   "Hurrah!!!" they shout. Invisible Bumbác looks at the soldiers in fear at the way out. So does his friend, who has just understood, that he is caught in a trap.

Chapter twenty

On the way home

The sky in the east is already pale like the death. Fire  burnt out, the Austrian soldiers have a nap drunk, one of them embraces sleeping Otmar, humming and mumbling something. Otmar tries to free carefully from his hug. He has to disappear, it is still time. It succeeded, he walks silently and sneaks out like a cat. Suddenly a voice echoes behind him.
   "Can't you sleep?"
   Otmar stiffens, there is no blood running through him.
   "I have already to go to bed. It's morning."
   The Austrian soldier says icily.
   "You haven't come with ammunition, have you?"
   They look at themselves, two men, everybody on the other side of history. And later cock's crowing cuts the sultry silence like a general's sabre. Otmar turns round into the direction of his camp, where a camp's trumpet just screams to strike from. At this moment Bumbác and the gnome go up and fly over the battlefield to the Prussian camp, where the general with the sabre over his head is prepared to fire a salute from the guns. Bumbác can see himself alone, as he loads tired in the dusty uniform his eightinch cannon and he is ready to light the fuse. He doesn't smell, that the barrel aims at his friend Otmar on the other side. The general waves with the sabre.
   "Fire!" he shouts.
   Bumbác spreads out pale like a wall from the gnome, and he runs with desperate scream into the barrel of his own cannon.
   "Noooo!!!!"
   But Bumbác in the uniform can't see himself alone in front of the cannon, he lights the fuse and a terrifying shot echoes.
   Bumbác and the gnome find themselves on the corridor in front of the room number nine again. Scared Bumbác can't believe constantly in it, what he has seen.
   "Do you already believe me? Now go and do, what you have to," the gnome says friendly and opens the room's door. Bumbác goes through the hall distraught up to the door. Otmar and Ivan get scared to death.
   "Bumbác! Aren't you...? What are you here...? What's going on? I'm trying to explain Ivan, that you lost everything to take pity, and..." Otmar babbles , Bumbác stops him.
   "Be silent. I know everything. And even I know more, as you would like to, my dear friend. I came here to forgive your treason and let relieve your soul."
   "What are you saying? What a treason?" Otmar smiles crooked.
   "The biggest one, what I had ever experienced. I forgive you. I forgive you from the bottom of my heart, my friend. But mainly I ask you to forgive me, too."
   Bumbác kneels, his head falls, his face is in floods of tears.
   "Please, forgive me," Bumbác whispers. And later all keeps quiet with the kindest silence. Such, as it happens, as you relieve terrible faults. The world changes, as the wall and people crumbled to dust, and something put them together with a  perfect precision again. Bumbác and the gnome find themselves on the field with two limes and the "God's torment" statue, over there, where our fairy-tale began. Dismayed Leopold stands only wearing his white drawers, and all crosses his mind, what he experienced here between the world. The gnome stands beside him and smiles. The sun shines kind, spring corn becomes green in soft soil. There are three souls hovering at the trunks of limes. Teacher Olda, bridegroom Venca and friend Otmar. The gnome says solemnly:
   "Dear Bumbác, thanks to you finally all three souls are free."
   The souls smile, as only their immaterial faces allow.
   "Besides, you had possiblity to experience, that all battles of the world were, are and will be cruel, sore and foolish, because every soldier, who died, as it was in a war, was somebody's relative..."
   The teacher's ghost smiles at Bumbác, Bumbác remembers, what it was to meet own brother in a strange body.
   "...or somebody's love..."
   Bumbác recalls shining and happy Blažena dancing at her wedding.
   "And as long as he was neither love nor relative, it is completely sure, that he was somebody's enemy."
   The Otmar's soul smiles kind at Bumbác. And Bumbác doesn't manage to hide tears.
   "You fulfilled your task, dear Bumbác, but this, if you get out from here, depends finally on you," the gnome turns round the hovering souls.
   "You three have to forgive Bumbác, that he had stolen your lives. You spare his life thereby."
   Bumbác kneels and expresses quietly crying.
   "Please, forgive me."
   The lime trees are swaying softly and the souls approach to Bumbác, as though possibly they would like to embrace him. Teacher Olda expresses it the first:
   "I forgive you, Leopold Bumbác."
   Later bridegroom Venca.
   "I forgive you, Leopold Bumbác."
    And finally his friend Otmar:
   "I forgive you, Leopold Bumbác."
   The souls tremble and set off on their next way. Massive trunks of hundred years old lime trees start to attract their reassuring force, until the teacher, the bridegroom and the friend dive into bark like into water, and they start rising up on the trunks like ink, as it soaks in linen. They rise on branches and leaves trembling in the wind. And when they are carrying up slowly, there are still visible features of all three men there. The gnome and Bumbác watch them in astonishment, until the souls wander on the tops of crowns of the trees. The soul of the teacher separates from the tree the first. It jumps out over the leaves like a little cloud of steam, and dives into the clouds flowing on the sky. As the second one separates the soul of Venca, this one dives into the sun. It spalls like a blinding ray of light to the country. Bumbác cries quietly and peacefully, even the gnome wipes away a tear. And later a flock of starlings rises up from the crown of the tree, and an appearance of the friend Otmar sticks on them for a couple of seconds. He soars into the sky as the last one. He smiles and the starlings fly on all points of the compass, and his face with them. And later darkness claims all.

Chapter twenty one

Love

Bumbác wakes up on the mountain's peak. It dawns quietly. His body shakes with cold, until the teeth chatter. He holds tight in the hand - the King of hearts. He looks at it, the gnome gives him a winks on it, and later the card crumbles in his hand to dust, which pours out slowly on the ground. And to the surprise of Bumbác the stolen rucksack appears from this dust as if by magic, as he had a swim in the quarry. Bumbác opens it, there are two bags of full soldier's pay three. I say a gift about it! Bumbác thinks. He is happy with joy. The sun gives its first morning warmth, and the country seems to be miraculously beautiful in its light.

   When Bumbác went down from the mountain, set off directly to the Laurence's building. He bangs on the door, Laurence opens dirty and exhausted.
   "I came to buy the horse, who you had stolen from us!"

   Three drovers behind Laurence and his wife Eva clean devastation made by fire, which had caused a ball lightning.
   "I've got no your horse," Laurence says. "My barn burnt down yesterday, the stable, too. All horses, I had had, escaped, is it enough, soldier? I can see, that you have a new uniform," 
he comments ironical the drawers of Bumbác, but he doesn't care a damn.
   "I've got a new uniform, but your barn has burnt. For everybody that, what he deserves, doesn't he?"
   "Disappear, until I will hurry the dogs,"
Laurence snorts and locks on out. Bumbác wishes still the closed door "good day" and finally he sets off after Sarah. Fortunatelly the horse of the Baron didn't disappear far away. Bumbác found him on the road, as he grazes on the meadow. Bumbác comes to the camp like a downright king. Zuzana and the Baron greet him joyfully and the Baron made him a bow as nobody bowed before a soldier.
   "How is Sarah feeling?"
Bumbác is interested immediately.
   "Much better," Zuzana smiles.
   And later beautiful Sarah appears at the caravan's door, and namely still weakened after fever, but with charming smile on her face.
Touched Bumbác embraces her and kisses many times.
   Since then years of prosperity arose for all. And great love came to the life of
Bumbác. They were in love with Sarah, brought the children up, and looked at the sea. And finally they saw whales for the first time in their lives. All shoal was swimming around them. And these whales told Bumbác something very important...
   But it is already, dear children, another fairy-tale.


                               The end








Antonín Dočekal, a man, who did all his life, what he wanted, he wrote a fairy-tale at the age of 94. By hand! This is such a forgotten method, when you take a pen in your hands and paint the letters, which build sentences, and these ones build later all stories. He wrote it all year long and it is called "A fairy-tale from the Hell near the Barrel." This is a picture book; one important artist woman from Brno declared: "This is complete Chagall!"
   His grandson Jan Budař read this fairy-tale and understood, that he had found a treasure. He decided to show it other children. And it happened so. Turn round a page, the fairy-tale begins...


Saint Valentine knotted his scarf.

"Say goodbye and we fly!"


A fairy-tale from the Hell
      under the Barrel by Antonín Dočekal

    written and painted by Antonín Dočekal

                               MMXII


Today the hell is already other a little bit than that you know from old stories. There was neither a school for devil's youths there nor student's books. Today there is such a school in the Hell under the Barrel.
   We look at the first class there, where they just have a lesson to assume a sulky air, where one-horned devil Drápalík teaches. In the classroom they learn how to annoy the best: how to shout, to moan, to stamp, to creak with something, to drum, to grind their teeth, to hurl abuse. Drápalík holds a war hammer in his hand, and he hits on the table, until the splinters fly from it, to drown out the pupils and to show them, how to miaow and to rumble loudly. He hit three times on the chair, and he exclaimed: "Somebody squeaks here. Who is it?"
And it echoes from the classroom: "Brumlík, Brumlík, Brumlík!"
Brumlík jumped up of the desk and the class became quiet. He exclaimed in the silence:
"The sneaks inform on
Hornets stung them
An old woman got scared by them
The mouth swelled them!"
He took out a black shaggy mouse of the pocket - a shrew, who squeaks shrilly, and Brumlík hides it rapidly into the pocket. The class began to stamp, to whistle, to swell. Drápalík took a record book from Brumlík, and he wrote in it: "During a science of noise class he was pulling the tail of a big forest mouse for squeaking, disturbing in teaching. He threatens the classmates, that he will bring domesticated hornets to sting them, until their mouths swell, because they had informed on."
   He let Brumlík out the door. He hit with the war hammer on the table and snarled: "We will rumble!"

   And whereas the class was rumbling, Brumlík spread out to the forest. He sat down on the grass. The forest rustled and smelt good. The flies buzzed and beautiful butterflies rose slightly around him. After lying down he saw white clouds flowing slowly on the blue sky. He longed to stop them, and he called them to take him, to flow with him to an unknown distance. He was calling in vain. The clouds didn't answer and it flew away slowly somewhere to rain. Suddenly he heard a beautiful rumbling buzzing. It was a bumblebee the kind-hearted. Brumlík began to whistle. He whistled variously. High, deeply, glittering, protracted, sadly and merrily, and the forest was listening to him. He didn't notice at all, that the little mouse jumped out of the pocket - the shrew, and it disappeared between the little bush of blueberries. There were many blueberries around, as far as Brumlík saw. He picked them and ate, and ate. Blue, big and very sweet.
   He overheard a weak call. Nearby a little girl with a big shiny hat picks blueberries too. Her mouth and cheeks are blue from bluberries. She smiles at Brumlík.
   "Who are you, boy? You've got blue teeth."
   "And who are you, girl? You've got blue cheeks, and why does your hat sparkle with sparks?"
   "I am a star, what fell down on the Earth from the Big Dipper today morning, and I don't know, how to come back."
   "I am
Brumlík, the devil from the Hell. Teacher Drápalík threw me out the door and I escaped to the forest. I don't want to come back to the Hell!"
   "What will we do?" the star from the Big Dipper said sadly.

   "Why did you fall down?"
   "A chattering long-tailed comet was flying around us. It bumped against the Big Dipper and I was holding badly. Who will help me?" she compained.
   "I am listening to you, listening and I knew about somebody, who could help you!"
   Where he came from, he came here, a little winged Cupid stands in front of them, holding a bow in his hand, arrows in the quiver on his back. Brumlík and the Little Star got frightened.
   "What are you doing here, Cupid?"
   Cupid laughs. "I am shooting at people to let them love each other. And here, like you Brumlík, I pick and taste blueberries."
   "How do you want to help us?"
   "I know Saint Valentine, a heavenly angel, I will ask him to help you."
   Brumlík and the Little Star stopped to pick blueberries and waited, what would happen.
   "Saint Valentine, Saint Valentine!" Cupid shouts in the forest's darkness. 

   The bush of blueberries rustled only lightly and suddenly a tall, slim, beautiful angel stood here.
   "Why are you calling me, Cupid?"
   "For help a little glittering star and a little devil, who escaped from the hell's school."
   Brumlík looked at Saint Valentine with admiration, and with fear a little, too. "I don't want to come back to the hell's school, where you learn to harm people!"
   The Little Star bowed: "I want to come back between the stars!"
   The heavenly angel Valentine smiled at them both nicely. "First we will have to eat sweet blueberries, afterwards we will fly to the heaven and we will see there, how to help you."
   Saint Valentine spread in a blueberry bush a big white scarf. "We will gather into this scarf the blueberries for the way to heaven."
    The Little Star and Brumlík were picking hard. Saint Valentine knotted his scarf. "Say goodbye and we fly!"
   "Thank you, Cupid. Goodbye!"
   Cupid picked up the bow and shot a pink arrow, which flew round Brumlík, and it dissolved in the glittering shine surrounding the Little Star. And he called: "Love each other!"
   The way to heaven is neither short nor silent. White clouds create bubbling high and deep bubbles and a road winds winding between them; Brumlík, Little Star and Saint Valentine, the heavenly angel, walk on it. Sometimes rumble and mumble of flying shuttles echo and the bubbles were rocking, and a cloud's ball rolls on the road; it is very light like a bubble of bubbleblowing. Brumlík kicks it like a ball. Valentine smiles. "Kick the ball, kick the clouds, the road ends soon."
   The little wind brought smell of lavender and thyme from some place or other. In front of them the Heavenly City appeared. The road were leading them to the golden gate. Behind of it there was seen a lot of high towers. Brumlík got even scared of this beauty, and the Little Star rejoiced. Saint Valentine had a word worried: "The guardians of the Heavenly City are coming here. Greet them nice!"
   The gate opened and three guardians appeared.
   The Little Star sang: "A bright day!"
   Bruml
ík grumbled: "Be healty like peacocks!"
   
Saint Valentin: "God with you!"
   Three guardians: "We serve faithfully!"
   They have high caps on their heads, holding swats in the left hands, as train dispatchers or as policemen have on the Earth. One of them is red, one is pink, the third one has a little green cross. His coats have the same colours, too. In front of the first guardian a little silver halo appeared above the heavenly cap, meaning a commander.
    The heavenly wings of Saint Valentine folded up and three halos appeared above his head, what mean high heavenly rank.
    The commander of the guardians: "Saint Valentine, heavenly angel, who are you bringing to the heaven?"
   "Devil Brumlík, the pupil of the school in the Hell near the Barrel. He wants to study in the heavenly school, and to be useful for all living creatures. And this little girl is a star, who fell down from the star Big Dipper, when an ill-mannered comet zoomed around the Dipper. They met both in the blueberries' grove, where they picking very sweet blueberries. She asks the heaven to help her to come back to the constellation of the Big Dipper."






The commander: "I forbid them both the entrance to the Heavenly City. People, who did evil, are not allowed to enter the heaven! Not to mention such a horned devil from the Hell! No, I don't let in!"
   Saint Valentine: "Call Saint Peter, let him decide! He's the commander of the highest rank."
   And it happened. The commander of the guardians folded his arms and had a word: "Saint Peter, I call you in front of the heavenly gate, me and Saint Valentine, your adviser!"
   The golden gate opened and smiling Saint Peter stood up in front of the commander of the City's guard and he was greeting with Saint Valentine. "You bring into to our heaven the Little Star with a lovely sparkling shine. Souls, who did good in their lives and can sing, belong to to the heaven. The devil isn't a soul. We will help the Little Star!"

   Saint Valentine: "Saint Peter, the heaven, the heavenly paradise is for everyone, who behaved good in his life. If it won't be, the heaven won't be the heaven, the paradise won't be the paradise. Devil Brumlík resisted even against the devil Drápalík, who teaches evil in the hell's school. For that, that he escaped from the school, I ask for asylum for him in the Heavenly City!"
   Brumlík 
gave Saint Peter a beautiful high plant. Saint Peter thanked: "It is beautiful, but it is burning a little."
   "Who is good, it isn't burning for him! My mum says so."
   Saint Peter burst out laughing. "But it's burning for me,
Bruml
ík."
   "But it isn't burning, Saint Peter, otherwise you would have screamed "Damn you sand!", and you woud have blown on your hand."
   "As I'm looking at you, you all have blue mouths and teeth, and tongues. Y
ou are not allowed, everybody, enter the Heavenly City like that!"
   Saint Valentine unfastened the scarf. "Taste you all blueberries, they are very sweet. Such ones don't grow in the Heavenly City."
   Saint Peter took several pellets and encouraged the guard: "So take too, until we all have got
blue mouths!"
   So they took and
blueberries didn't decrease. They were smacking, eating and afterwards they all were looking at themselves, and they were smiling at one another.
   Saint Valentine announced: "Now nobody is allowed to enter the Heavenly City, even Saint Peter, because we are all blue painted."
   And Saint Peter said: "Guard,
bring washbasins, towels, soap, bring a cloud with water, and we all have a wash. " It happened so.
   They all got through the golden gate to the Heavenly City. Saint Peter locked up the blue door with the golden key. Bruml
ík and Little Star stopped, and marvelled. Why not! Golden shine sparkled from all and little wind dissipated smells from the streets.
   "There are Pink Street over there and further Violet Street, Thyme Street, Lavender Street,"
Saint Valentine explains. "Where do you want to live?"
   "Is Nettle Street here, too?" Bruml
ík asked.
   "In the heaven there are streets of all beautiful plants. You will recognize them by scent. In
Nettle Street there is a tower of blue guardians. If you can sing a song about one flower, you don't have to search it and suddenly you will find yourself in this street."
   "And if I can't sing any?"
   "In the Heavenly City everyone can sing."
   And
Brumlík remembers, which song about a flower he knows. And
Saint Valentine prompts him and sings praises:
   "You garden yarrow,

   you scented little rose,
    I will forget you anyhow,
   even if the thing is not possible..."
   Brumlík sings as being charmed. Little Star joined in and so did Saint Peter with his deep voice. And they all found themselves in a good smelling street - of garden yarrow.
  
Saint Peter says goodbye: "Sweet dreams! Sleep sweet!"
    "Good night,
Saint Peter!"
   So the devil
Brumlík and beautiful Little Star found themselves in the heaven. They held on their hands and were looking around attentively.
   The sun was seting. Somewhere far, far away a space shuttle flies into the universe and you can hear its rumbling only a little.
   Saint Valentine said: "Sing a song about nettle." And he started alone:
   "Nettle, nettle,
   high herb..."
   All were singing praises and suddenly they stood in the Nettle Street. It was short. At the end of it a high tower stood. Little boys were running on it, but little girls were walking slowly. Every girl were holding a parasol of different colours above her head, they suited them very much.
    The girls didn't notice Brumlík very much, but they stopped at Little Star and rejoiced at the beautiful rainbow's shine, which surrounded her, and every girl wanted to know, where and who such a beauty hands out.
   Bruml
ík answered for Little Star, that it wasn't any ornament, any parasol, holding by them, that nobody gave it her, because she was a star from the universe, and that probably her mum looked for her, and that she would come back home to the constellation.
   The girls didn't believe him a lot, because he was a boy and had horns in his hair to scare them. In the heaven you are not allowed to scare. Better let them wash, before Mrs. Nettle, the housekeeper sees him.
   But Mrs. housekeeper has already seen him, because she lives in the high tower. As soon as a new heavenly
inhabitant, who beautiful nettles take him fancy, enters her street, thousands of little bells are starting a song on the tower, and she runs to the window, and rapidly into the street to greet him. The song jingles all city and it flies further to the heavinly district.
   "Boys and girls
   from the Nettle Street
  
rejoice and enjoy yourselves

   welcome, boys, from the far distance
    and a star, what adorns
    the heavinly city!
    In the all streets the towers clink
    a song about its beauty
    God's splendour
    vaulted above us
    and
creates the universe.
   Jingle bells, jingle into the distance
   that in our city guests are staying
   the lovely star and the little devil
   from the
Hell under the Barrel."

    When the songs clinked by way of greeting, a lot of little and big heaven's inhabitants were gathering to the Nettle Street to see, what there was still never here. The devil from the hell and the star from the universe. The banners started to wave on the towers. Every soul and little soul was taking a flower to his or her street.
   They were bringing Brumlík blossoming prickly cactuses and Little Star scented lovely flowers.
   The caretaker, Mrs. Nettle let blow rainy bubbles, and Brumlík and Little Star could drive flowers into them like into a vase not to let them wither. The Nettle Street became a big scented garden. They all were happy.

   The sun set and on the universe's dome the stars glowed. Brumlík fell asleep on a very soft little cloud. Little Star was looking at the stars. She was looking for her home and felt sad, when she had seen the Big Dipper, and that disobedient comet too, just whirring again like wasps were running after her, and she sighed.
   They both slept in the beautiful angelic beds and dreamt nice dreams about mum and dad. Earlier than the sun rainbow's shine awoke Bruml
ík, when it began glittering and whispering something.
   "Good morning, Little Star!
   Nice day,
Bruml
ík!"
  
Mrs. housekeeper bent over them and was smiling. "Good morning, nice children, jump out, run to wash and you will have breakfast like at home with Saint Valentine. He is waiting for you between the flowers."
   It happened so. Saint Valentine invited them to the table.
   "Please sit down. Have coconut milk and cakes like at mum's."
   It was delicacy. The cakes didn't decrease.
   Suddenly the guardian of the golden gate appeared, the commander Silentshuffle. He had a word: " Three times saint Valentine, I am bringing a little signboard to read for our guest, to know what is not allowed to take place in our city."
   "Let it be, guardian, read it, we listen!"
   The commander Silentshuffle gave his right hand aside, raised his beard and read loudly.
    Bruml
ík and Little Star were eating cakes and smiling.

    Who spends in the heaven
    in the silence dreams
   only smiles silently
   and
sings praises thinly
   It is not allowed

    to fiddle the violin
    to hum the bass
    and to bang the drum
    or it wakes up and worries
    many a longing soul

   the groan and the pain
   the pain and the groan
   of the breathless
   what miss only
   day by day
   the world of wonders
   the black beer
   whimpers only
   night by night
   day by day
   to stay
   not suffering
   Who doesn't behave as holy
   put your pants on
   and run away from the city
   or you will be turned out of it
   by the guard

   Mrs. Nettle, the housekeeper was listening to the guardian Silentshuffle and was laughing, until she choked, because she imagined, that  Brumlík was humming the bass, and Little Star was beating the drum, or Silentshuffle was throwing both of them out the Heavenly City. And Saint Valentine was smiling very slightly thanking the commander for reading the little signboard.
   Mrs. Nettle, the housekeeper was looking at Brumlík and Little Star surprised: "There are boys and girls in our street not to count, and they all would like to talk and play with you. What do you say, Brumlík
?"
 
Bruml
ík (rapidly): "We could play football!"
  Little Star: "Or blinking."
  "I have never heard about such a game,"
the
housekeeper astonishes.
  "This play is very easy, all stars can do it."
  "Saint Peter has to allow you to play both of games,
Little Star and Brumlík," the housekeeper pays attention and Saint Valentine nods.
   Bruml
ík: "Tell us, where does Saint Peter live? We will ask him."
   "He lives in the heavenly palace in the Daisy Square."
   They both smile helplessly.
   "Advise us how to get there."
   "You have to go on foot. The first street is the Lily of the Valley Street. Go there along and turn left the first street. You go along this street and
turn right the first street. You go along this street again and turn left the first street, and again the first street right. So you will change the turning and the streets, until you go to the Daisy Square, where the palace of Saint Peter is standing. The square is guarded by the heavenly police. You show them a pass - the nettle's letter, which I give you. You are not allowed to lose it all the way. You cannot be let by the guard in without it. Enjoy your trip and a happy homecoming! You will have cakes all the way."
   They took them by the hand and set out to the Lily of the Valley Street. The Little Star was not amused, because she didn't understand the housekeeper at all. "Brumlík,
won't we get lost?"
   "Don't be afraid, Little Star. The road is winding, but don't be afraid with me."
   They started on the way resolutely and Bruml
ík
was whistling, and singing a song. "The grass is green, the football is a game and the round ball is an insidious thing..."
   The silent
Lily of the Valley Street
woke up by his singing. The girls were waving at them from the windows. "Have a good journey. Come round, until you will come back."
   Every street was called according to one name of a flower. There was a tower and a bubble garden in every street, and a flower in every bubble. There were flowers in some streets; Bruml
ík never saw them and didn't know even any name of the street.
He asked those, who was waving at them:
"Wander dwarfed, sorrow twisted, shore bekabunga (it has horns), strainer cuddling, breaster bulging, gape goldleaf."
   There were growing palm sunflowers near one tower. There was hanged up a net swing on two of them.
    "Bruml
ík, I am thirsty!"
   They just got to the Blueberry Street. Bruml
ík called the waving girl. "I ask you, heavenly beauty, about a glass of water."
   "I'll bring you, wait."
  And she brought two cups of blueberry's juice. Both of travellers drank it with taste. The girl with blue eyes like blueberries pointed out a rain bubble cloud. "Wash your mouths to let you in to Saint Peter by the guard."
   The travellers thanked and said goodbye, waving, the Blueberry Street, all, who came looking at them. They came to the Lavender Street, what was scented, and another street smelled of thyme. The last street they were coming through was soaked through roses. There was the big
Daisy Square
in front of them.
   They both stood in astonishment. An enormous round field, created by seven wide belts. There was a cylindrical building with seven slim towers in the middle. They stood silently a good while and were looking at belts of flower beds with thousand of flowers.
   Finally Little Star had a word: "I can't see any flower road,
Brumlík. How can we get to the Saint Peter palace?"
   Bruml
ík wanted to say: "I don't know", but he didn't say anything yet.
   Suddenly two heavenly guardians stood at the same time. "Who are you? Where are you going?"

   Brumlík breathed in deeply and explained bravely: "One saint heavenly guardians, we are foreigners, but we have residence permit from Saint Peter. We are just going to him. There are our passes here."
   Little Star and Brumlík gave the guardians the nettle's letters. The guard sniffed at them, until one smarted his nose. He took back and stammered out:
   "Do you know a nettle's song?"
   "We do, but I won't sing it. We'll find ourselves again in the Nettle's Street, and we are going to the palace, to Saint Peter."
   "Recite it!"
   Brumlík began singing smiling:
   "A nettle grows
   under the barrel
   behind the barrel.
   If somebody is afraid of it,
   it cuts him.
   If somebody stammers out,
   it stings him.
   If somebody praises it,
   it doesn't burn him."
   "Good, good!" The guard laughs and claps. And suddenly a double heavenly hovercraft stood here. And heavenly guardians are there.
   Little Star and Brumlík got into and the obedient hovercraft made its way with them to the palace. There was the first round bed of daisies under them, the second bed smelt penetrating. Thyme. The third bed jubilated of dandelion's gold. Suddenly the little wind rose up, when they were just hovering above the bed of roses. And the sniffing finished. The smells mixed and flew away into the city. The hovercraft was tolling when it was above the last bed of meadow's and forest's bells. They were ringing and clinking heavenly songs, beautiful!

   Little Star was singing them just like she knew them from home. The hovercraft was carrying them through the gate, the corridors, until it stopped in the hall, where a lot of listeners of heavenly angelic choir were sitting, who were singing beautiful songs with accompaniment of the harp and the violin.
   Brumlík and Little Star wanted to tell something each other, but they didn't dare to disturb the listeners. The smells, they flew over, and music, they were listening to, sent Brumlík to sleep. Little Star was holding his hand and she didn't feel uncomfortable, because all in the hall were looking at her. All heaven's inhabitants were gazing at her, at her splendid gloriole, beacause nobody had it in the Heavenly City. Nobody had it, because it was stellar ornament.
   It was shining and rays of all colours was shooting of it like from a transparent ball. That one, who touched the shine, looked with fear at the fingers, which were lighting up and shining too. The heavenly angelic singers' choir came to glimmer their hands and tips of their wings too.

   As Saint Peter entered the hall with his advisers, he commented astonished: "What's going on here, all the saints? What do you celebrate?"
   And a happy cry and glittering waving answered him: "A star came to us from the cosmic distance handing out the sparkle."
   And Saint Peter approached the Little Star, he stroked her and his hands sparkled too. The hall became quiet.
   "Be happy!" Brumlík and Little Star greeted.
   "We will be all happy," Saint Peter said, "thank you, Little Star from the Big Dipper for the gorgeous gift you had given us, all of us, for joy. Brumlík, Brumlík, stick out your tongue!"
   Brumlík stuck out his tongue at Saint Peter.

   "The teeth and the tongue are blue from blueberries. Adviser Valentine, where were they picking the blueberries in the Heavenly City?"
   Three times saint Valentine with a smile: "It was blueberries' juice, what they both got in the Blueberries' Street, as they were going after you."
   Saint Valentine laughed loudly: "So we have to go there too, adviser Valentine, for a cup of this delicacy!"
   And the hall all is laughing and sparkling, and clapping.
   "Why did you come after me?"
   Saint Peter and his adviser Valentine sat down in the hovercrafts, too. Little Star holds the hand of Brumlík, and she looks at him that he begins to answer. All in the hall were sitting quietly again and waiting curiously for that what he would answer.
   Bruml
ík had a word fearless: "I'd like to assemble boys' team and play footbal in the Nettle Street."
   The hall of the present rippled.
  
Saint Peter: "Saint Peter, call in the heavenly expert of football game to instruct me about the game our blueberries' guest is missing."
   The hovercraft rose up with Valentine. "I call a heavenly expert for the heavenly team! I call the famous goalkeeper František Plánička."

   And as it is already a wonderful rule in the heaven, the famous goalkeeper Plánička, who was beloved from the boys in all of Europe, is coming in front of Saint Peter.
   "God bless you all,"
Plánička greeted, bowed and smiled at Bruml
ík and Little Star.
   "
Saint Peter, you say football or kicked football too, because two teams run around one round ball or rag ball they kicking with a bayonet, a pelvis, an elbow bone, folds to let the ball or the balloon, or the football, fly through the gate of the rival."
   "What is a rag ball?" a senator exclaimed.
   "A rag ball is made so, that you stuff the rags into a stocking to make the rag ball the most round. The kicking ball is round. It has got a gummy soul and a coat, sewed together from the strips of the leather. If you pump up air into it, it will be a hard ball, which jumps on the ground and you catch it hard. The rivals kick such a ball that it flies into the goal. And that's a goal. The onlookers shout at every goal: goal, goal, they yell for joy that the rival loses, sometimes they fight for joy, they smack, they curse. And the players play brutally. They kick themselves, they trip the rival and they kick the ankles, sometimes they break their legs. Sometimes the audience throws blasting caps and smoke generators on the football field. One famous player displayed to the onlookers a naked bottom."
   "It's enough, expert Plánička! The football is a wild, brutal play for heartless people, not for celestial people. Blueberry's Brumlík, don't forget, that you are in the Heavenly City!"
   In this moment the eyes of Brumlík flooded  with tears, and they were looking reproachfully at Plánička.
   "Don't cry! Where do you find a place for the football field in the heaven? The celestial people go barefoot, they don't escape, they hover and they are quiet. They clap quietly, too. You won't find even a referee," Plánička calms Brumlík down.
   Suddenly a hovercraft flew into the hall and a heavenly guardian in it announcing Saint Peter: "From Nettle Street to Daisy Square big glittering rainbow's balls were noticed, which are unlikely to be removed by anything. Give us advice, what we need to do."
   Saint Peter turned round to the senators. They don't answer and grin from ear to ear, and raise their hands, on which beautiful rainbow's gloves from light fabric glitter.
   The hovercraft raised three times saint Valentine, who had a word with senators and the heavenly guardian: "All of us sitting down here has just got such a decoration on our hands, with which this beautiful Little Star from faraway space constellation adorned us. The glittering rainbow's gloves are a declaration of joy and love, and a memory of her. When Little Star returns to the space, the decoration disappears."
   Saint Peter combs his beard and looks at Little Star, who is carried away by the hovercraft between the angel's choir. She turns round to the senators of the Heavenly City from here, she waves her hand and has a word with resonant, clear voice: "My protector Brumlík comes from the not far globe abounding in water, forests and blueberries. I am from a faraway constellation, where we have got blossoming meadows, smelling of thyme and lavender, snorting volcanoes and two suns, water from numerous waterfalls, rivers for swimming, a lot of songbirds, and blueberries' and strawberries' forests. We, stellar inhabitants, wear clothes sewed of sun rays, and other glittering stars. We sing and dance with pleasure. I marked the road with sparkling balls from Nettle Street to Daisy Square in order that me and Brumlík don't take the wrong way home. If I am back to my space home, they will fly with me."
   Saint Peter, his advisers and senators were clapping for Little Star. Brumlík approached her. "Dance, Little Star, I'll sing a waltz to dance for you."
   The adviser Valentine informed the listeners of the wish of Brumlík. "It will be a song, which mum of Brumlík taught him."
   It was already silent in the hall.
   A sparkling, rainbow's ball surrounded Little Star and she was like a dancer in a ballet position in it.
  "It will be a song about our brook,"
Brumlík whispered to Little Star.

 
"The brook runs
   on the slope happily
   you can hear its bubbling
   everywhere
   it flirts with birches
   it flirts with willows
   then it smiles
   and bubbles farther

   Our brook, run in the distance
   while you are young, bubble only,
   until you leave our wide country
   you will not bubble for us any more.

   The birches laughed at
   the fairy tale about a king,
   who played the bass
   for the princesses for their beauty.
   The fairy tale is short.
   Shut the door,
   or it will escape you
   with the brook into the distance.

   Our brook, run in the distance
   while you are young, bubble only,
   until you leave our wide country
   you will not bubble for us any more.

   The heavenly violinist and the angelic harpist woman played the song of Bruml
ík, and the
angels' choir joined in them. Little Star began to dance a space waltz on the stage.
   It was a spectacle!
   The city never saw such a charming dance with a coloured sparkling of the adorned dancer woman. The applause of heavenly inhabitants did not stop. The angels' choir finished to sing, the violin finished to smile cuddling, the harp finished to dream slowly. There were still the last steps of the space dancer, regards and then already shouting of admiration.
  And Saint Peter was smiling putting the hands together and was nodding his head. When the hall fell silent, he appeared on the stage, he stroked both artists and had a word: "Little Star and Brumlík! You are both lucky messengers of your homes. In the Heavenly City you will miss your parents and friends soon. You will, Brumlík, the globe, which you don't still know. There are on the Earth much more good and kind-hearted people you belong to them, too, than these bad ones. One day you'll come back to the Heavenly City alone, without three times saint Valentine and blueberries."
   Brumlík fixed his eyes on Saint Peter. A memory of the Hell under the Barrel, the school, the teacher
Drápalík, but mum and dad, too, when they both were maybe troubled, because he escaped, struck him. If they all would hear an angels' choir and see Little Star dancing, they forgot all suffering and malices. "Oh, yes!" he sighed.
   A patrol of golden gate flew again to the senatorial hall. Its two times saint commander reports Saint Peter: "A strange aircraft landed in front of the heavenly gate, Two figures got out of it. A man and a woman. They say they arrived for their daughter, who is in the Heavenly City."
   Saint Peter raised his hand and calmed the senators: "We all move on slowly in the silence with our hovercrafts in front of the city gate."
   Brumlík and Little Star took each other by the hand and sat down on the hovercraft of Saint Peter and his adviser, three times saint Valentine. The breeze was carrying them slowly to the heavenly gate. Daisy Square seemed more beautiful and scented for them. From all streets the heavenly inhabitants were waving with a greeting. They were shouting from Blueberries Street: "Drop in for a sweet juice."
   The caretaker, Mrs. Nettle was shouting: "Come to dinner on time. There will be curd cheese and poppy-seed cakes."
   Saint Peter said: "Oh, I'd like them, too!"
   At the golden gate they all went down from the hovercrafts and Saint Peter opened them. The crowd of the senators was leaving the city.
   You can only hard describe, what it was seen, heard and shouted by the senators, when they stood on the meadow sparkling by the sun, what it was shouted, when bubbling clouds, blowing out by the breeze and breathless heavenly inhabitants, were hissing like soap bubbles.
   A big jet was standing here. They said on the Earth and in the heaven like that, nobody saw it yet.
   Saint Peter exclaimed: "Calm down! Silent! It's a friendly visit!"

   He went to meet alone both figures. A scream of joy echoed in the arisen silent: "Mum, dad!"
   Little Star was running between the bubbles like for competition to the mum. How otherwise! They embrace and dad holds her in his arms.
   Bruml
ík stands surprised nearby and the angel Valentine with him.
   "They are my protectors, mum!"
   But dad and Saint Peter meet already and his advisers. The senators marvel helpless gazing motionless, while on the circuit of the disk aeroplane a  rainbow's shine sparks, just such like that, which decorates Little Star and their hands. They are possibly afraid and get frightened a little, too. The adviser of Peter, three times saint Albert waves them to approach. They surround the pilot and listen, what Saint Peter, the pilot dad, and wise adviser Albert Einstein talk.

   "Do you all interest, how we found your Heavenly City? Our daughter, who you call Little Star, has got round her a sparkling rainbow's ball. It isn't an ornament, but it's a signal of space transmitter, which is she alone. We found her quickly by this shine."
   Adviser Albert had in mind a lot of questions, but he didn't ask. He is still in the heaven, and in the heaven you don't research scientific yet.
   Bruml
ík
says Little Star goodbye. He feels sad, but he smiles, even if a little. Little Star sends him a little pocket with little grains inside. "If you drop it on the ground, a sparkling ball creates round you, it will emit to the space news for me, that you live and remember me. And I'll answer you in this way, that I'll blink. And come back from the heaven to mum and to the blueberries' forest. Remember me to Cupid, who awarded us everlasting space love."
   They embraced, kissed and Little Star went to the aircraft. Bruml
ík was waving to her, until she disappeared in the aircraft. The aircraft was reflected, sparkled and suddenly disappeared in the celestial blue. Its start scattered high mountains of bubbling clouds, and deep valley, and roads to the Heavenly City, where it shook high towers.
   Brumlík squeezed strongly the Valentine's hand. The three times saint angel held his in his arms and
flew up. The Heavenly City, the golden gate, guards, senators, and Saint Peter disappeared in the mist.
   Brumlík opened his eyes. Three times saint Valentine, angel, was stroking him: "You are at home, Brumlík."
   In front of them there are a wood gate, a farmyard, where a housekeeper woman feeds hens. On the doorstep a cat Týna plays with kittens.
   "Don't forget the heaven! You've got a lot of friends there."
   Surprised Bruml
ík: "Thank you, Valentine, you and the heaven. Remember me to all saints."
   He wanted still to call out: "Have a nice trip", but angel Valentine war already too far."
   "Mum!"
   "
Bruml
ík!"
   It
is not the end of the fairy tale. All bells, what grow on the side in the Hell under the Barrel, needed to ring it back. It was a long story about the heaven, what Brumlík saw in it and experienced. All, who were listening to him, did not stop to marvel. Dad told: "There's enough of the story, Bruml
ík has to go to school tomorrow!"
   And they went. And as they both entered the classroom, they greeted loudly: "Good morning!"
   The pupils began to stamp and Mr teacher
Drápalík was so surprised, that he stood up, said no word and was gaping astonished at Brumlík and his dad.
   "Mr teacher, I bring you the lost son, who came back yesterday."
   "Where did he come back from? Where was he roaming?"
   "He was far, far away, all the way to the Heavenly City!"
   The class was suddenly quietly.
Drápalík dropped a cane gaping with an opened mouth. "What a liar he is, your boy! You don't go to the heaven, nobody dares there, nobody knows the way!"
   "It is better, if he tells you and the all class about the Heavenly City."
   "Let him tell, let him tell!" the class echoed.
   And the all class started to stamp.
   Teacher
Drápalík: "Let him tell then. We'll hear, we'll hear and we'll punish the liar!"
   Dad: "Don't be afraid anybody. I'm here with you. So go on!"

   Brumlík got upon the podium and the class calmed down slowly, until it was completely silent.
   And
Drápalík sat down, and he still turned his head listening to the story. As Brumlík talked about Little Star, as she danced and he sang, Drápalík did not stand up to it, he stood up and cursed: "You hellish boy, but you can lie! And enough!"
   The class did not even breathe a word.
   Brumlík smiled and said: "If it's enough, so enough! Look at this little grain!"
   Nobody saw it, as he dropped it on the floor. The grain changed into a brightly luminous, coloured pellet and it was growing quickly, until it was a big rainbow's ball, in which Brumlík stood. About him rainbow's sparks sparked. Brumlík went from a pupil to a pupil, he stroked everybody's hand. On the hand and round of it a rainbow's luminous ball stayed. Last he approached
Drápalík and illuminated his hand.
   "It's not a magic, it won't harm you, you won't blow out it by anything, you won't drown it in water. It will be with you, as long as you won't harm anybody. It will disappear during first rudeness. You will see alone, how early and at whom first!"

   And all were silent and were looking one at one another, who will be the first. And Drápalík stayed in fright. He looked at the pupils. They all had on their hands beautiful light balls. He pulled up a cane: "You are free! All out!"
   The pupils stood up carefully, slowly and silently. They were afraid, that the beautiful ornament would fall down of their hands, or somebody would damage it. All wanted boast all neighbours and  at home. Suddenly all were kind. They did not shout,  throw the stones at the cats, fight.
   Mums and dads still were surprised: "What happens to our children? What ornaments do they have on their hands?"
   One father announced, that there were soap bubbles, which does not crack. One mum said, that there were balls from soft coloured glass. In the Hell under the Barrel they all explained, what the ornaments were from, but in vain. And so all began to believe in the story of Bruml
ík. So did Mr teacher
Drápalík.
   In one evening the sky was starry. Brumlík blew the trumpet and all village met on the village square in front of the smithy. Brumlík showed the neighbours the constellation of Big Dipper and a star in it, where a little star is, where home his friend Little Star had. Brumlík let create round himself a beautiful, luminous ball.
   "Stare at a little star attentively. She is really blinking! And they are blinking the another stars, too! All send us their regards."
   A shouting wafts in the evening: "We send regards Little Star of Brumlík and the Heavenly City, too!" and all began to sing: "Little stars, good night..."
   And it was, what it was, what it happened and what did not.
   All village the Hell under the Barrel did not sleep because of the return of Brumlík. It happened never  yet on our globe, that a little devil from the Hell visited the Heavenly City, that three times saint Valentine brought him there and gave back mum and dad to the Hell under the Barrel. The villagers were standing in the groups and thinking over it fervently, but they did not find any explanation. Some of them declared, too, as Brumlík told about the Little Star from Big Dipper, he could have hot illness, in which he imagined it. Dogs were running on the village square rushing cats and hens, and snarling and barking. Mayor Weeny, standing at the smithy, were shouting to the loudspeaker warning: "People, tell people, that journalists, radio, television will come tomorrow after morning. Get ready! With them every onlookers, tramps, thieves, schemers on bicycles, ruffes in trabants and unlucky persons. Get ready, because we don't have any policeman, we've got only a veteran, who limps and even doesn't have any weapons, because he was only a gunner, get ready!"
   The villagers were listening in fear. It will be confusion! Only innkeeper Devilsand enjoyed on a barrel. All, who would come, would drink beer and eat sausages. He ordered with a mobile phone barrels of beer in the palace brewery, and smoked ham and sausages at the butcher Elbow. Mayor Weeny stuck in front of the barrel a road sign: No entry for all, what has wheels, and he put a bench and a basket nearby. He would be sitting down on this bench collecting high fines, which he would pay in the basket. A table ATTENTION, BAD DOG appeared on the gate of every cottages. Grandmothers and grandfathers were wringing their hands lamenting:
   "It will come off badly!
   They will steal us!
   Let's hide poultry and wheelbarrow!
   It will burn like in the war!
   We will withdraw to the cellars!"
   The mayor's loudspeaker echoed next day in the morning: "People, tell people, that nobody comes! Don't be already afraid any more!"
   The Hell under the Barrel revived again. Hens, released from the henhouses, scattered on the courtyard. Late in the afternoon the mayor's loudspeaker echoed again: "People, tell people, that television will come tomorrow. Get ready!"
   The citizens shut the hens again and gave new tables on the gates -  Attention, bad dog - or: Rabies.
   In the night it began to rain. The brooks were beginning to form on the sides and water was rushing in the village, where it was filling manure pits at the cottages, wells and cellars. In the morning it stopped to rain.
   The mayor's loudspeaker echoed again: "People, tell people, that nobody comes today!"

 The sun was visible and till night mist enveloped the village Hell. In the mist citizens were waiting if the mayor echoed. And the loudspeaker echoed: "People, tell people, that journalists will come tomorrow. Prepare buckets, hoes, shovels. We will employ them by carrying out of water!"
   So it happened, too. They came. They all were working until to darkness. The mayor returned them car keys in the evening and he thanked for their help. He echoed by the loudspeaker: "People, tell people, that nobody already comes to us!"
   The dogs returned to their kennels, the hens to their henhouses. In the morning the sun was visible and it began to dry sides and meadows. And blue meadow bells appeared on them. The breeze blew lightly and the bells rang highly.
                                             


                                                                THE END



Jan Budař and Antonín Dočekal, the grandson and his grandfather, wrote for you two unique fairy tales. Antonín wrote his fairy tale by hand, Jan on iPad. Antonín supplied it with his own illustrations, the fairy tale of Jan is illustrated by the artist David Fišer.

Do you know, what happens, if you take the man's life in the war? His soul will never leave you and it will annoy you as long as you will not help it to go away to the netherworld in peace. And it just happens to the ex-gunner Leopold Bumbác, too. A full of sorrows and dangerous trip is waiting for him to rescue the souls, which he has got on his conscience. This way he rescues his soul, too.
   Are there in the Hell under the Barrel only bad devils? No, there are not. There is a little fidget Brumlík, too, who helps the Little Star, who fell down from the sky, to come back to her parents.






ISBN 978-83-929852-2-8


-- Transl. Warsaw, May 2014 ---copyright MB ---