My grandmother grew up in Vilna, Poland in the 1890s. She immigrated to the USA as an orphaned teenager. In her declining years she took turns living with her six adult sons and daughters, including my mother.
Grandma Jagen taught me how to play canasta and cook latkes. She also captivated me with stories she claimed were true. She spoke with a thick accent which gave her tales more credibility in my book. In fact, I never doubted her. In one instance she claimed to have been young girl at a wedding party held in a forest in Poland in the 1890s. The following story is one I wrote based on what she told me when I was about 7. Forget Jack and Jill, this is one tale not to be forgotten.
Alicja and Henryk danced around the wedding fire while their families yelled good wishes. Some who had drunk too much thought smoke, not fog, was darkening the forest.
“Such joy,” said Alicja’s mother. Henryk’s father laughed, “Put it in a bottle for tomorrow.”
From time to time members of the wedding party looked skyward to see if the hazy spot of moon was gone. Even the lone wolf at the edge of the woods glanced at it, but its focus was the rapid movements of the newlyweds. His pack was hungry.
At midnight Henryk’s father cracked a whip over two horses pulling a covered carriage. His servant, Jon, was set to drive the couple to a cabin deep in the woods. The wolf stood up when Alicja and Henryk boarded the transport.
Jon sat atop the carriage with a lantern next to him swinging back and forth. Alicja and Henryk were mesmerized by the flashes of light on the fog. About a mile into the trip the howl of a wolf made the bride tremble. The night went silent when the carriage stopped.
“Wolves,” shouted Jon
The horses pulled on the reins as a half-dozen wolves circled the carriage. Henryk climbed out of the cabin window and hoisted himself next to Jon. They spoke briefly. Jon climbed on the back of the larger horse which he freed. It reared up briefly until Henryk fired the rifle.
The wolves surrounded the fallen horse as the carriage disappeared into the fog.