Life and Legend of Juro Jnok,

Who Joined the Highwaymen

 

The time for testing really came.

That very same afternoon four dark men rushed Jnok in the mountains in the region of Turzovka. They knocked him down and tried to bind him, but they judged him badly. Jnok only shook himself three times, swung twice, stamped his foot once and his rivals were lying in the grass. They scowled at him from their grassy seats and cursed him.

Have you lost your senses, Lads? Jnok tried to get on with them amicably. You jumped on me for nothing and tried to wring my neck.

Of course it was not for nothing, there is a reason. You entered our mountains and you could have discovered our hiding places.

Your hiding places?

The dark men nodded but did not say anything more. Only after Jnok threatened to shake them up again, as he had a moment ago, did they confess that they were outlaws and were hiding just near there, above Turzovka.

My best friend, Uhorčk comes from the village of Predmier in Turzovka, Jnok said. And he recalled the weeks he had spent at the castle of Bytča with him after the Kurucs defeat. It was clear to Janosik that he had found what he had been searching for, for many days.

 And what was your friends first name? one of the men dared to ask.

Tom, Tom Uhorčk from Predmier in the region of Turzovka. I suppose he was not very far from being an outlaw himself.

Of course he wasnt, all four cried at the same instant. He is our captain now.

Jnok told the men to take him to his old friend.

When Jnok and Uhorčk met, they greeted and hugged each other. Uhorčk took Jnok aside and offered him his full hospitality. There was no end to recollections and reminiscences of the time when Jnok had helped Uhorčk to escape from prison.

Suddenly Uhorčk jumped up and said, I almost forgot. Those four cant go unpunished. They were supposed to stand guard and they were overcome by one stray passer-by. He immediately ordered the four to work on the outlaws cottage until the end of the evening.

Jnok noticed how reluctantly they started working, which cause him to ask his friend,  Uhorčk, listen! It seems to me that there is something wrong with your men. It seems as if they are lacking in something. Do you know what it is?  

I dont know, Uhorčk admitted. We have all lost the spark lately. We rob and no longer know why. Well all be hung one day and no one will remember us anymore. We dont have any aim in life, Jnok. Uhorčk fell silent and gave Jnok a look full of expectation. Jnok had a feeling about what such a look meant. 

Me? Why me?

Because I know what youre looking for, Uhorčk answered. You were already talking about it at the castle of Bytča. You said that the world should be changed.

He took Jnok to the very edge of the forest and there he revealed his future plans to him. Enough of this highwaymans bread. To hide in the mountains like this all the time, to let oneself be chased like a wild animal, to lie down and get up in the shadow of the gallows... No! Enough! It is time to hang up the hat, give up this trade, and leave this area for a place where nobody knows you, to build a new future with the pieces of gold you have scrimped and saved.

But you talked differently at the castle of Bytča, Tom. Now you want to leave everything to me?

Forget the Tom you knew at the castle of Bytča. Someone completely different is standing in front of you now. Now its up to you Jnok.

 

A book, Jnok, Jnok... written by Anton Marec, translated into English by Tatiana Strnadov and John Doyle and published in 1995 by Matica Slovensk, 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.