Śmigus! - from Reymont's "The Peasants" (Chłopi)
The next morning--Easter Monday--the weather was still more beautiful, the country-side more abundantly bathed in dew, in azure mist-wreaths, in sunshine and in joy. The bird's songs were more sonorous; the warm gales, rushing through the trees, made them murmur, as it were, a quiet prayer. The folk rose earlier, too, that day, opening doors and windows wide, and going outside to gaze upon God's world--on the verdurous orchards; on the vast landscape garlanded with spring greenery, sparkling all over with diamonds, bathed in the light of the sun; on the autumn-ploughed fields, with young tawny blades waving in the wind, and rippling up to the cabins like sheets of water teased by the zephyrs.
The boys ran about with squirts, drenching each other to the cry of Śmigus!--or else, hiding behind the trees round the pond, they would deluge with water, not only the passers-by, but anyone who peeped out of doors; so that many a cabin-wall dripped with wet, and puddles glistened all around them.
Along all the ways and about the enclosures, the lads ran, chasing their victims with uproarious laughter, and dead set against the lasses, who enjoyed the pastime as much as they did, emptying pails on their heads and dodging them through the orchards; and as there were plenty of grown-up girls among them, these soon got the upper hand, driving the boys back with indomitable energy. Even Yasyek Topsy-turvy, who had attacked Natstka with a fire-hose, was himself tackled by the Balcerek girls, drenched from head to foot, and then flung into the pond to crown their victory.
But he, being nettled, and loath to brook such shame that girls should get the better of a man, called to his aid Pete, Boryna's servant: who with him laid an ambush cunningly for Nastka, got her fast in their clutches, dragged her to the well, and flooded her until she screamed aloud.
...Then, taking Vitek to help them, and young Gulbas, with some bigger lads, they pounced upon Mary, daughter of Balcerek, whom they deluged so, that, stick in hand, her mother was obliged to run and rescue her! Yagna too they caught and drenched thoroughly, nor did they spare even Yuzka, though she begged them hard, and ran in tears to Hanka to complain.
"Complain she may!" they cried; "but yet she likes it: see, her eyes sparkle with glee!"
"Pestilent fellows! they have wetted me all over!" Yagustynka growled, though pleased, and entered the cabin.
"Whom will those rascals spare!" Yuszka grumbled, as she changed to dry clothes. Yet she could not for all that forbear coming out into the porch to witness the scene: all the roads alive with noise and tumult, and the whole place thrilling with the hubbub. The lads, frantic with delight, ran about in large bands, driving all who came nigh within range of the great hose, till at last the Soltys, seeing that no one could leave his hut for them, had to put an end to this merry-making, and disperse them.
Vol.3 SPRING, p 128-131; Translated from the original Polish by Michael H. Dzierwicki, Reader of English Literature at the University of Cracow. This file has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.