Life and Legend of Juro Jánošík,

How Jánošík Measured Cloth Between Two Beech Trees.

 

One day some girls from Terchová were on their way back from the fair in the town of žilina. They were sad and cheerless, without the laughter or singing that usually accompanied their outings.

Well, they had reason to be joyless and sad. They had seen so many beautiful things in žilina, but they could hardly afford to buy anything.

There were beads, hair clasps, ribbons, bows, various types of cloth for skirts and smocks…

With such things they would look very different than they did in the drab garb of the mountain villagers.

Of course they would, but where would the money come from?

They thought they had better forget about seeking an answer and return to their native village. To forget about the beautiful things and accept the life that they were destined to lead.

Suddenly, as if he had stepped directly from the village of Obšívanka, a lad emerged in front of them. He was tall with an upright stance like a fir tree, and he had a studded hatchet-stick and a pair of pistols on his waist. It was Jánošík. Any girl form Terchová village would have recognized him.

He said, “Where are you coming from, girls? Do tell me. I hope not from a funeral, for I did not hear a song coming from your lips all the way.”

They were shy, and fidgeted, for how could they complain about such trifles to the one that had dared to start fighting against the lords?

But he insisted that if they confided in him, he might be able to help them out of their misery.

Eventually, one of them confessed their troubles.

Jánošík nodded thoughtfully and said, “Right you are, you would really look more beautiful in new clothes,” and he added in the same breath, “can I not also help the girls from my home village!”

He whistled, and instantly three of his companions appeared with a huge roll of cloth on their shoulders. It was the very best cloth; made in the distant land of England, for which reason it was called “anglia”.

Jánošík asked them. “How much do you need each for a proper dress?”

But the girls did not answer. They were ashamed and even afraid that if they asked for too much, they would not get anything.

Jánošík waited for a long time, yet did not get an answer. He laughed, lifted his hands, pointed, and said. ”So I will measure it for you as is right and proper by Jánošík, from that beech tree to the one over there.”

So he did. For each girl he cut a piece of cloth that was as long as the distance between two beech trees standing on opposite sides of the valley. It was surely more than enough for the girls’ dresses. Many families in Terchová were also clothed and even had something left over.

The beech trees near Obšívanka valley were to stand long after Jánošík’s death. Sometimes, when things were very bad, people from all over the whole area would go and look at them and remember the times when the poor had been given a full measure and their fair share, at least once in their lives.

 

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.