Life and Legend of Juro Jánošík,

How Jánošík helped a widow and how he led a cow in boots through the snow.

  

It was winter in January; Jánošík wintered in a secluded place somewhere in the region of Kysuce, high above the valley.

In the village of Krásnô there lived a widow with her three children. There was nothing left of her property but a shabby cottage and a small cow. One day, when the widow could not pay her debts to a money-lender on time, the cow, her only source of food, was taken away from the stable.

The widow went begging, but pity poor her. People in other houses did not live any better and they really had nothing to share. She came back home with empty hands.

She said to her children, “My dear children, this winter is going to be so-so. We have saved a few cabbages and potatoes from the autumn; we will survive until the spring comes.”

No one knows how, but Jánošík heard about her problem. He started to think how he could help the widow. He was on his own and his companions were scattered all over the mountains, from Jablunkov to Kriváň. How could he get them together now? Besides, masses of snow were everywhere, and it was really very difficult to run through it. Also, tracks are usually left behind in the snow and by following them it would be easy for the guards to find their hiding-places.

He pondered for a day or two, and on the third day he said to the farmer in whose place he was hiding, “I need two pairs of high felt winter boots; exactly the same as those worn by the peasants in Kysuce.”

He gave the farmer four pieces of gold, and the farmer ran to the fair in the town of Kysucké Nové Mesto. As soon as evening came, he was back with the goods Jánošík had asked for.

Jánošík slipped away to the money-lender’s house that same night. He looked about carefully to see what the environment looked like. Everything was as he had thought. There were thousands of footprints everywhere, by the shop and by the tavern, as well by the farm yard.

In silence he snuck into the stable. A lonely little cow stood there, just the same one that had been taken away from the poor widow. The cow looked at the intruder with sad eyes and did not even moo.

He stroked the cow, put a bunch of hay under it, and waited until the cow was fed. Then, when he was sure that the animal had accepted him, he bent down to its hooves.

Slap! on one of the cow’s hind legs a boot appeared.

Slap! on the other one as well.

Slap! Slap! and the cow had all the boots on.

But what was this? The boots were all on the wrong way around. Why? Jánošík was the only one to know.

He untied the cow from the trough, took it by the tether and quietly led it out of its stall and the stable.

Where to?

His direction was concealed by the thick darkness. But an hour later, the cow stood in the stable from where it had been taken a couple of days earlier.

The next morning at the money-lender’s stable things looked bad. The stall was empty, the cow nowhere… Thieves! But there were not traces of the cow’s hooves.

The guards looked thoroughly, searched and speculated, yet they could not explain anything. How could they? As there was not proof that a cow had left the stall on its own legs! Had it flown away or something?

They shrugged, apologized tot the money-lender for not finding the thief… They would continue to think and search.

They did not find anything.

The cow spent the winter in its stall and in spring appeared in the pasture again.

“Where did you get that cow from?” the guards asked the widow one day.

“I bought it!”

“Did you? With what?”

She showed them a bag full of ducats. She had found it in the stall the morning that the cow, which had been taken, was returned. The widow suspected who the ducats were from as well as who had brought her cow back, but she did not confide to anyone until she was on her death-bed.

 

A book, Jánošík, Jánošík... written by Anton Marec, translated into English by Tatiana Strnadová and John Doyle and published in 1995 by Matica Slovenská, contains 33 tales of this famous outlaw captain. The information in this book was used to create this story. Check in the future for other stories.