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The Water Goblin

Vodník Čeperka

To the south of Jičín, between Dětenice and Kopidlno, there are shiny ponds lined with reeds that reflect the sun's rays on their blue surface. There, among the fish and the tadpoles, lives the water goblin Čeperka 

Every morning, after getting up, Čeperka would go to see how his friends were doing.

“Good morning”, echoed the water realm when all the fish and dragonflies greeted the good water goblin.

Čeperka was also the protector of cranes, kingfishers, marsh-minions and other birds, who were his friends. Many of them built their nests in the reeds, others flew over the pond, looking at it like a mirror.

Everything was fine that day, it made Čeperka smile. The water was bright and clean; there was not even a speck floating on the surface and the sand on the bottom of the pond was smooth and loose, just as it should be.

So Čeperka climbed on his favourite willow to put his ribbons in order and count the buttons on his coat, which was still dripping wet.

“It's beautiful today!” He said, smiling, when he saw the cloudless sky and the shining sun. The dragonflies hovered around his head, and Čeperka started to inspect his ribbons: “The yellow one is from the miller; he gave it to me when I made the wheel spin again disguised as a groom. The blue one is from the farmer; I got it when I helped him plough the fields disguised as a black horse. And the red one,” Čeperka said, daydreaming, “that one is from Mařenka, because I found her beloved Michal.”

The water goblin always did his good deeds in disguise; he did not want people to recognise him.

At that moment, the surface of the pond rippled, and Čeperka heard the screams of the village boys.

“What are they doing here?” Startled, he jumped into the water to watch why the boys had come to the pond.

He saw the four bravest of them sitting on a boat and leaving the shore.

“Pepa! We'll see the birds in the reeds from up close! And there might be eggs!” Cried a boy with a blue cap.

“Only the Devil may stop us!” Agreed the freckled one.

Čeperka laughed, quietly: “No devil here, just a water goblin. Do you think you can come here to scare the fish and the birds? And steal their eggs?”

He did not waste a second and swam to the reeds to warn the birds. The swans quickly sat on their nests and the rest of the birds tried to protect theirs, screaming over the pond. Hopefully, the kids will not find them.

Čeperka decided that he would not let the boy's insolence go unpunished. He took a huge breath and blew, ruffling the water. Big waves began to dance on the surface. One of them washed over the edge of the boat, almost capsizing it.

“Guys! What's happening?”

“I don't know! Let's go back to the shore!”

Čeperka was not bad; he only wanted to scare the boys to teach them that the birds must stay on the pond, because without them, a pond would not be a pond.

He swam to the boat and quietly blew into it, making it land on the shore. The boys could not believe it. They were not rowing, but their boat was still moving.

They pulled the boat out and sat on the grass.

“What was that? Can you hear it, too?” asked the oldest one.

“Yes, we can hear it.” A whisper, maybe an echo could be heard on the valley: “Remember, you shall not get any eggs or scare any birds, ever!”

The boys dried themselves in the sun and went back to the village. They did not tell anyone about their adventure; everybody would laugh at them!

Čeperka perched on the willow and counted his buttons and ribbons. The surface of the pond was again quiet, the swans swam on it and they thanked him. The cranes and kingfishers sang a bird's song. What a joy!

From then on, none of those boys even dared to think of doing any harm to the water friends. Every summer, the children swam in the pond and Čeperka sat on the willow, polishing his boots and smiling at their joy.

If you are ever near these ponds, do not be afraid. Čeperka, the water goblin, will not hurt you, if you will not hurt him and his water friends! And if you run into him, say 'hello', he will be glad.


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Created 16.6.2005 13:36:25 - updated 30.3.2020 8:49:46 | read 8192x | Jan