Broken glass in pieces. Judging by its shape and color, it could have been a cheap perfume bottle in happier times. He lay there alone on the grass; the early morning sun was beating down on him; really well painted. He caught the eye.
The bird turned its head; he winked with his right eye -130-on him. Then he swayed to the other side; he also aimed his left eye at it. He looked equally desirable in front of both vision opportunities.
That he was a young, inexperienced little animal is natural. An older bird wouldn’t take a second look at such a thing. You would think that his instincts told him that broken glass does not belong in a bird’s nest. He was only attracted by the glitter and flash. I was inclined to suspect that there might have been a “mésalliance” in his family tree going back; or worse; – did a magpie get into it? After all, people know the character of the magpie, or rather the lack of character of the magpie. Something must have happened; but I don’t want to go any further on such a delicate point. I just want to give a plausible explanation of the fact.
He jumped closer. Sweet Illusion and the Screaming Rainbow Piece; a beautiful vision that disappears when we get close to it, like so many things that are unattainable and incomprehensible in the life of the little one. He leaps forward and taps his beak against the glass. No; it is real – as beautiful a piece of green glass as any young married man could wish for; you just have to take it. How she would like him. He was a good-natured bird; the upward curling of his tail already shows a serious, albeit possibly incomplete, leadership industry.
He turns the piece of glass upside down. Disgusting is a thing to carry; so many sharp corners. But at last he caught her firmly between the beaks; then he flew away with it, so that no other bird could interfere in the business.
Another wolf watched the events from one tree with a watchful eye. He called the third one flying over. Although I do not speak the language well enough, it was still easy for me to follow the course of the conversation; it is quite clear:
– What do you think? Zebula found a piece of broken glass. He wants to stuff the nest with it.
“Not at all!”
“Oh God!” Just look over there. Where is ni; he holds it in his beak.
“Well, the God tree!”
They both burst out laughing.-131-
But Zebulan pays no attention to them. Even if he had heard, he writes the whole dialogue at the expense of jealousy. Flying straight for his tree. As I press my bum tightly against the windowpane, I follow. Down there on Paddock Bank he builds; they only started work there last year, but they are progressing quickly. I wanted to see what his wife had to say about it.
He didn’t say anything at first. The bird carefully placed the bottle on the edge of the half-finished nest; the female raises her head and looks at him.
Then he looks at his master. Well, no one speaks for about a minute. I noticed that the situation was getting tense. When the female finally opened her beak, she let out a deep sound; a somewhat resigned toil could be discerned from it.
– What is this? he asks.
My husband passed through the coldness of such a reception. Like I said, he’s an inexperienced young man. This must be his first wife; maybe a little afraid of him.
– Well; I don’t know exactly what it’s called, he answers.
– Oh; hmm
– Not me. But pretty, huh? he adds. He rotates it so that the light of the sun shines on it. The fact is, you yourself realize that you get a lot of your beauty in the shadows.
– Oh yeah; very cute; – the answer. “Of course you would tell me what you want to do with it.”
“Of course, it’s not a joke; – asks him.
“I see that.”
– It’s not. But you see, so far the nest is almost full of twigs; so i thought…
“Well, what were you thinking?”
– Well, I thought – unless you think it’s a bit rickety – we can wall this up somewhere.
The female exclaims:
– Come on; really? Bright thought. Well, I also married a first-rate fool, that’s true. Of course, that’s what I went to. You were there for twenty minutes, and now you bring me home an octagonal piece of broken glass that you think we can “work” into the nest. Of course you wouldn’t mind if I sat on it for a month; so what -132-would you mind You think: this will be a nice bed for the children, and they can sleep on it. Of course, if you go down again and try really hard, you’ll find a bunch of different pins, huh? Because they would also look very nice if they were “worked in” somewhere; do not you think? – Well; hide from me I’ll make the nest myself. “He always dealt with her very briefly.”
He picked up the offending object – it was a heavy piece of glass – and threw it against the tree with all his might. I heard him smash through the glass roof of the cucumber plant. This week, this is the seventh glass tile that has been broken over the plantation. The worst part is the nesting couple up there in the tree. Their building plans are the most unique; I have never heard of such a thing. They collect ten times as much material as they could process; one would think they want to build a castle; that they prepare rooms for rent for the other crows. Then what we don’t pay for, they take it down again. What if we built like this? If a human husband and wife set about building their own house, say, on Picadilly Circus; the husband carries bricks up the ladder all day, the wife places them; the husband would never ask how much he needs; whether he does not think that he has already given enough. He would just dose it in endless amounts; he would bring any bricks he could find anywhere. Then, if the evening came and they saw that there were about twenty carloads of bricks lying around that they couldn’t use, they would start throwing the bricks towards Waterloo-Place. They would get into quite a bit of trouble; someone would hold them accountable. But look, those birds act just like that, and no one hurts them with a word. Looks like they have a president. He lives there alone on the maidenhair tree, which opens from the window of the breakfast room. I want to know what makes it good. I really did everything in his direction. I threw stones at him; according to the laws of nature, they fell to the ground and broke even more plantation pots. I fired a revolver at him; but these birds took my action in this as frivolity; then they mistook me for the Arab of the desert, who, as I was informed, this is how he expresses himself in his deepest moments of excitement. They were simply at a safe distance to watch; of course, they also look like a clumsy player, if that’s all-133-when shooting, I missed the necessary dance, triumphalism, what the Arab does. I have no objection to them building a nest there, if only they built sensibly. I wish I had someone to talk to them and to whom they would listen.
You can hear them in the evening as they discuss the work schedule for the large amount of material.
“Don’t work anymore, mom; – says the him, as he goes up with the last load; – you will get tired.
“That’s right; I’m almost there, – replies his partner. It floats out of the nest and straightens its back.
“You must be very hungry; – the master answers sympathetically. “At least I am.” We scrape a little down there, then back.
“So what will happen to all this material?” asks the female, fluffing her feathers. “It would be better if we didn’t leave him around; so messy.
– SHE; it will soon disappear from there; – said the other. “I’ll knock it all down in a minute.”
To help, the female grabs a twig; almost drops it. Him sways forward and snatches her away from him.
“Don’t use this,” he shouts; – this is a rare specimen; can’t you see Look here; I put this on the old man’s nose.
He does. What the gardener says about it, I leave it to the imagination.
As for the work of structuring, the wolf family in the animal world is the closest to humans in terms of intelligence. If one talks about the certain intelligence of some members of certain human families, I tend to deal with them, I believe that. And I know for sure that crows talk. No one can watch their nest for half an hour without realizing it. That the speech is always wise, clever, I am not able to define; but that’s a lot. A young Frenchman of my acquaintance, who had come to England to study the language, said that after his first evening in London society he had the impression that he had entered a parrot house. Later, as he slowly began to understand the language, he quickly recognized the sparkling and profound nature of average London conversation; but when not yet-134- értette, papagálylármának vélte. Ha varjutanya zaját hallgatja az ember, hasonló érzése támad. Előttünk nincs jelentősége a társalgásnak; maguk a csókák biztosan ugy irnák le, hogy brilliáns.
There is a familiar misanthrope somewhere who almost never goes out to company. The other day I argued with him about the issue. “Why would I go?” he asks; I know, let’s say, a dozen women and men with whom I happily converse; they have their own ideas, which they are not afraid to express. Rubbing our brains with such people is a rare, magnificent thing and I thank God for their friendship; but that’s enough for me in my free time. Why more for me? What is a “company”; what are you all talking about? I tried it; I did not find it satisfactory. If we break it down into its elements, what is the whole thing? There are a few people I know superficially; who also know me very superficially; they invite me to a so-called “home”. The evening is here; I have done my daily work; I had lunch. I was at the theater or at a concert – or spent a cheerful hour or two with one of my friends. I want to go to bed more than anything. But then I pull myself together, get dressed and go there. While I’m putting on my hat and coat in the lobby, a man I met a few hours ago in the club comes in. He is a man of whom I have no high opinion; he probably feels the same way about me. We don’t have a common thought; but because it is necessary to speak, I declare to him that the evening is warm. Maybe he’s really gay, maybe not; in any case, he approves of what I said. I ask him if he goes to the Ascot races. I don’t give a damn if he’s a stallion or not. He says he doesn’t know; asks what I think of Passion Flower’s chances in the Thousand Guineas. I know that my opinion is not worth a penny, – he would be a fool if he did, – but I must gather my wits to answer him; as if he were putting on his last shirt for my advice. We reach the first floor and are glad to be free of each other. I catch a glimpse of the hostess. He looks tired and grumpy; he would be much happier in bed, except he doesn’t know. He smiles sweetly, though it is clear that he has not the faintest idea of who I am; waiting for-135-that the butler will tell you. That’s what I’m whispering there. Maybe you understand, maybe you don’t; unimportant. Two hundred and forty guests were invited; about seventy-five are known by sight, as for the rest, no matter how random it may be, – who stands like a billboard in a theater – dresses and behaves as befits a gentleman – could enter just like me. I often wonder why people print invitation cards at all; a man with a sandwich outside the gate would do just as well. “Here lives Lady Tompkins; I accept today from three to seven in the afternoon; tea, music.” “Gentlemen and ladies can enter if they send in their business cards. Afternoon attire is essential.“ The crowd is the main thing; as for the individual, tell me, what is the difference from a social point of view between one gentleman in a black tailcoat and white tie and another?
– I remember; I was once invited to a house in Lancaster Gate. I was lucky enough to win the urn at some picnic. I would have met her a second time in the same green dress and green parasol. Dressed in different clothes, I thought, no. My coach took me to the house opposite. Hospitality was also great there. The exchange was not important to either of us. The urn woman – I don’t know her name – declared that she was very nice that I came. Then he placed me next to some colonial governor (I didn’t understand his name, and he didn’t understand mine, there was nothing strange about it, because my hostess didn’t know either of them.) He whispered that this gentleman was coming from very far away, he didn’t know where and only to get to know me. It was only towards the end of the evening, by chance, that I realized my mistake; I thought so, but it was too late to discover. I met a few people whom I knew well, and had some dinner with them; then home. The next afternoon I meet the real hostess. He thanked me nicely for sacrificing my precious evening for his and his friends’ sake; assongya, you know how rarely I visit. He appreciates my lovability all the more. He also says that the Brazilian minister’s wife told me that I was the smartest person she had ever met. I think about it often; I want to meet you first that the Brazilian minister’s wife said that I was the smartest person she had ever met. I think about it often; I want to meet you first that the Brazilian minister’s wife said that I was the smartest person she had ever met. I think about it often; I want to meet you first-136-to the good person, whoever you are, I would like to thank you for the good opinion.
– Or let’s say that the butler pronounces my name intelligibly; the lady of the house knows me. Smile; he says he was afraid I wouldn’t come. He makes me believe that the other guests are all just green leaves in the guest wreath; the flower is me I smile in thanks; I feel like I’m painting when I smile. I’ve never had the courage to smile at my reflection in the mirror. I only see other people’s sociable smiles, it doesn’t really convince me. At last I murmur something like how could I have forgotten this evening; for my part, now I want to make him believe that I have been preparing for it for weeks. There are people who chat on such occasions; but there are only a few of them and I say without self-conceit: I do not consider myself a greater fool than the average man. Since I can’t say anything else, I also tell him that the evening is warm. Smile; as if there were some hidden wit in my remark; I will then step aside; Shame on me. Having to chat like a fool when you really are isn’t entirely inconvenient; but if you have to say stupid things when you have enough sense to believe it, it’s awkward. I hide in the crowd; I happen to meet a lady to whom I was introduced three weeks ago at some art exhibition. We don’t know our names, but after we are both alone, we start chatting. They’re used to it. If you’re the everyday kind of woman, you’ll ask if I frequent the Johnsons. I say no. We stand there speechless for a while; we don’t know what to say. He asks if I was at the Thompsons’ the day before yesterday. I say again: no. I’m starting to feel uncomfortable about not being at the Thompsons’. In my effort to say the same, to make peace with him, I ask him if he will go to the Browns on Tuesday. (The Browns don’t have any; so you can only say: No.) It doesn’t work; and there is something in his voice as if there were a tinge of social shame on the Browns. I give my opinion on Barnum’s circus; I ask him if he usually goes there. My opinion is just like that of others who go there.-137-
– Or, if luck turns against me, a so-called “jukker” woman will appear before me, witty; his conversation is full of sparks, contemptuous sneers at the expense of everyone he knows; snickering at the expense of those who don’t. I feel that I could make a much more perfect woman myself out of a bottle of vinegar and a bunch of pins; however, it normally takes a good ten minutes to get rid of it.
“If, by chance, there was a man or a woman of flesh and blood in such a congregation, there is neither room nor time for meaningful conversation there.” As for shadow figures, what sane person would waste the tiniest brain cell on those? Tennyson was once discussed as a social problem. Some infinitely dim-witted and stupid friar—the stupidest I ever met—spoke of how he once sat next to Tennyson at a luncheon. “I didn’t find anyone interesting at all.” He told us confidentially; – he couldn’t say anything – really nothing in the world.” I would like dr. resurrecting Samuel Johnson for an evening; I would place you in one of your “companies”.
This friend of mine is a recognized misanthrope; believe I said; but one cannot claim that he is not somewhat right. There is some secret to company’s longing for company. One evening I was in a house in Berkeley Square looking for the road leading to the restaurant where we had dinner. In front of me, a sweaty, tired lady was rushing towards the same goal.
“Come on, please; – he says to his companion – tell us why we come to such places. What are we crowding for, like some Sunday afternoon buns, for eighteenpence worth of food?
We come here, – answers the man, whom I recognized as a philosopher, – to be able to say that we were here.
I met with… last night; I asked you to have lunch with me on Monday. I don’t know why I ask A. to have lunch with me, but I do it about once every month. He’s not an interesting person.
– Not possible; – it says; – I have to go to B.’s;-138– disgraceful thing; it’s usually very boring there.
“How’s it going?” I ask.
“I really don’t know; he answers.
A little later I meet B.; he asks me to have lunch with him on Monday.
– Not possible; I answer; a couple will come to us on Monday evening. Such a night of duty; he knows.
“Although it would be possible to cancel the whole thing then,” he answers. “There won’t be anyone there to talk to.” The A.s do come, but they bore me to death.
“What did you invite them for?” I asked.
“On my word; I really don’t know; – the answer.
Let’s get back to the crows. We talked about their social instincts. A couple – public bachelors, I think – founded a club. I’ve been trying to figure out what they’re doing for a month now. Now I know: well, Clubot.
Naturally, the clubhouse was chosen to be the tree closest to my bedroom window. I know well how they came up with it; believe it’s my fault; I didn’t think about it. Well, two months ago, his lonely son – maybe he was suffering from indigestion, or he was hurt by some unfortunate marriage – chose this tree for meditation reasons. He woke me up: I got angry. I opened the window and threw an empty soda bottle at him. Of course he didn’t; and because I suddenly had no other idea what to do, I shouted at him, thinking that he would get scared and fly away. He took no notice of them; he continued talking to himself. I shouted louder; I woke up my own dog. The dog barked frantically; he woke up every living soul within half a meter. I went down with a hook – I happened to have it in my hand – to tame it. Two hours later I fell asleep again from exhaustion. The wolf was still brooding then.
The next night he was there again. I guess the bird had some sense of humor. But since I was afraid that yesterday’s incident would be repeated, I was more foresight and kept a few pebbles ready. I opened the window wide and cut the pebbles into the tree one after the other. Then when I closed the window, it leaned closer; louder-139-croaked as ever. I think he wanted me to cut more stones for it; he took the whole process as a game. On the third night, after not hearing him, I began to flatter myself that I had intimidated him in spite of his impudence. I should have known crows better.
How it happened that a club was founded. It could be:
– Where should we choose a place for the clubhouse? – asks the secretary, when the other points have already been discussed. One recommended this tree, another that. Then my own special crow spoke:
“I’ll tell you where,” he says; – there, on the maidenhair tree, opposite the pillar. I’ll tell you how much! An hour before dawn, a person normally approaches the window; he is dressed in the strangest way you have ever seen. I will tell you what it resembled—those little statues with which men plant the sown fields. Well, he opens the window and throws all kinds of objects onto the space in front of the window; then he dances and sings. Very interesting indeed; everything can be seen magnificently from the maidenhair tree.
That’s how the club was founded – I know for sure – right on that tree, on which my bedroom window opens. I had the satisfaction of denying them the exhibition they hoped for; I console myself with the hope that they expressed their dissatisfaction with the counselor.
There is a difference between the club of crows and ours. In ours, the honorable members appear in good time; they go at a reasonable early hour; in crows, this rule is not taken into account. Crazy Spaniards would surely have loved the club; it is according to their will. It opens at half past three in the morning; those who arrive first are the most despised club members. In Varju country, the kikent-kifent, selyemfiuk, gigerlik, good pubs and paliks get up very early and go to bed in the afternoon. Towards Virradat, older, more orderly members arrive looking for some meaningful conversation; the club is about to become more prestigious. The tree closes around six. Not much good happens in the first two hours. The sequence normally begins with a fight. If you don’t meet two gentlemen fighting each other to amuse the others, the next thing to do is what’s the noise-140-it is meant to be maintained, the karenke-getting. It is no consolation to me when they say that crows cannot sing. I know very well what they know, without using the natural history book as an aid. Only the wolf doesn’t know; he thinks he can; according to that, he does. You can criticize his singing; you can call it what you want, but you can’t stop it: at least that’s what I experienced. It is also certain that they choose a note that requires an arm. Well, towards the end, it all turns into a quagmire, unless the soloist is a particularly strong bird, and doesn’t let him off the hook.
The president knows nothing about the club. He gets up about seven—three hours after the others have finished their breakfast; then back and forth in a flash; he is obsessed with waking up the entire colony; crazy old fool. I have never heard of such a lousy president. Any South American republic can demonstrate success in this regard. The crows themselves, the majority with families, fathers of families, respectable nest owners, are just as outraged against him as I am. I hear complaints from everywhere.
As soon as one leans there in the cold early spring afternoon next to the gate fence and hears their crackling noise, one must think about them. Then they croak:
“The earth is turning green again; love enters our hearts again, old, sober crows, us. Oh Madame; how black his feathers shine; how deeply her round brown eyes sparkle. Come; sit here by our side; we tell a story; something he had never said before. The tale is about a nest; the nest is at the very top of a tall tree; the branches sway in the best westerly wind. Hard on the outside, but soft on the inside; the little green eggs are so sure to lay inside. And there sits our dear lady in the nest; it croaks sweetly, squeals in joy; because he sees the crow he loves most in the world from afar. Oh; he was far away, east, west; there’s the booty; full of worms, caterpillars; and brought it all to you.
“We are old, very old crows – and there are many of us, very old crows.” The white feathers entwined with the black ones on our chests. We saw great fields grow up around us from barren earth; we saw how the big trees fell and died. But young people come to us every season-141-our thoughts. We are getting married again; we build, we gather again, so that our old, old hearts can rejoice again at the thin shriek of our newborns.”
Mother Nature has only one concern: children. We are talking about love as the master of life; but only his minister. Our novels end where the story of nature begins. The drama, by the time we close the curtain, is only the prologue of his game. How would the prehistoric Lady laugh if she heard the clapping of her children: “Is marriage stupid? Is this life worth living through? The New Woman against the Old.” This is how the foams of the Atlantic Ocean chat about whether they should flow east or west?
Motherhood is the law of all things. A person’s duty is to be a mother. Let’s work… for what; for the children – the woman at home, the man in public. The nation takes care of the child’s future; because? After all, statesmen, soldiers, merchants, and workers will all gather around their ancestors. Why do we care so much about the future? He sacrifices the blood of his country’s sons to the earth, so that the new generation will reap a bountiful harvest in the future. Fool Péter Balga – his confused brain is full of crazy dreams – sweeps the world with bloody hands to sacrifice his blood for Freedom, Equality, and Fraternity. He will never see – unless in a vision – the new world for which he sacrifices his bones as building material. “Even his spindly, word-whipped brain knows this well.” But the child! may his life be more beautiful and sweeter. The peasant leaves the campfire to die on the battlefield. What does he care – a speck of dust in the human sea of sand – for Russia to be victorious in the East, for Germany to be united, for the English flag to fly in new lands? The father’s inheritance will become larger, and the sons will have more. Patriotism! What else but the maternal instinct of peoples?
Suppose a decree was made in Heaven: There will be no more generations; the world ends with this life. Do you think we’ll just move our hands then? The ships could sit in the harbors; the grain would rot in the ground. Would we paint pictures, write books, make music, if we were prevented by some inner, cold, creeping feeling: the eternal silence to come? Think about it-142-how a husband and wife would look at each other. Think of the suitor—the fountain of Love runs dry; love remains a puddle of stagnant water.
And how little we see this foundation of our lives. If nowhere else, this is where our eternity lies. Let the Self never die—for otherwise, from the beginning, the human race would only be the passing capricious play of the gods; they sweep it all away when they get bored. They are starting a new experiment. My features – we do not dispute the artistic value – should never disappear; varying, improved, but essentially the same – continue in ever larger areas until the end of time. My temper – the good, the bad, what’s in me; – let it grow every year; should have a wider space; merge into one, change. I continue to exist in my children, in their children; you were glad that a good fire would rise from his dead parts, but his spirit, his life, his being remained in the forest in the form of a thousand young fawns. The tree does not die; changes.
The men and women who pass by me on the street – one rushes to his office, another to his club, the third to his love – these are all the mothers of the world to come.
This guy, who trades in goods and values - cheats, lies, deceives all of us – why? Just follow her to her gorgeous apartment in the villa district – what will you find there? Father; children on his knees; he tells stories, promises them puppets. He is worried, his life is difficult – what is he striving for? That these children have the things that he thinks are good for them. Even our sins – along with our virtues – stem from this one root: Motherhood. A single seed, seed of the Universe. The planets are only children of the sun – the moon is the fetus of the earth; stone from his stone, iron from his iron. What constitutes the great center of all of us – both organic and inorganic life, if there is inorganic? – The whole great universe is not a single nebulous shape – Motherhood; all space-filling?
The rich mother of Mayfair is making plans: she is looking for a rich son-in-law! It’s not a pleasant sight. However, for the moment, we measure it with a different view. How tired he can be! Tonight is already the third “appearance”; the paint is running from his poor, tired face. His superiors toasted him half a dozen times and motioned him to his place this evening; one of them-143-Princess openly insulted him; he bears it with a patient smile. A pitiful endeavor is his; that your child marries money and wealth; have a chariot and many servants; Live in Park Lane, wear diamonds; his name should appear in the company’s gazettes. Whatever it costs her, let her daughter enjoy all these things. How much easier it would be to lie down to sleep; let that girl marry some rich commercial traveller. My reader; even this we must do justice to. Her hard planning work is just the wasted fruit of Motherhood.
Motherhood! The conductor of the concert of the gods – one pole is ferocity and cruelty, – the other is tenderness and self-sacrifice.
The crow fights with the hen; looking for food for her young – the hen protects hers with her life. The spider sucks out the fly to feed its thousands of generations; a cat teases a mouse so that it can feed its young from its still pulsating cow; man destroys man for the sake of the child. So if we understand the chaos and noise of the world in its entirety, not just in its parts, we will know that this is harmony; every false note, every beat fell into one common idea: that of Motherhood.