"Simply, no one was looking for them here," said the boy.
"Lord," said Mrs. Sam excitedly, handing the cones into the grass.
They were standing in the clearing, at the very exit from Grofovska forest. The sun shone red light on the dried leaves and pine needles. It smelled of rotten hay and forest resin.
"No one was looking for them here," the boy repeated.
But no one moved. They stood and watched in astonishment. All around, along the edges of the clearing, large mushrooms grew, shiny and dark as bread from above.
"When we passed this way, there weren't any," Ana said.
"Yes," said Mrs. Sam instructively, "mushrooms can grow in just a few hours. Especially after the rain. ”
"When we were at the Imperial Oak," said the boy, "it was raining."
"Yes," said Mrs. Sam, "it shone from the west. The downpour must have gone there. ”
"I have the impression that the ground is still wet," said Ana, scratching a layer of rotten leaves with her foot.
But no one has moved to pick mushrooms yet. They stood and watched them.
They seemed to watch them grow there before their eyes. It's as if they see them drilling from somewhere in the depths, like some strange worm, then a layer of rotten leaves swells. Then a dark smooth cap rises under the ground, like dough that turns red and rises.
First, they picked them carefully, digging out a layer of wet leaves that covered the root. Then all of a sudden, because it seemed to them that someone might come along, they started grabbing them, breaking them and stuffing them into a sack from which they handed out cones. They have been cruising through the woods all fall, collecting cones to burn in the winter, and they have hardly ever found a mushroom.
"There," said the boy, "Mr. Molnar gets up at three and goes somewhere far, I mean even to Kesthel." Mushrooms usually grow in the depths of forests. ”
"Don't tell anyone about this," Ana says reproachfully. "Don't talk right away."
"That's right," says Ms. Sam. "We found them behind the Imperial Oak. That's what we'll say. "
"Mr. Molnar says everyone has their own place to pick mushrooms," the boy said. "And it doesn't tell anyone."
"I'm just afraid someone will find out," says Ana. "It simply came to our notice then. It's enough for a cow to stop by. ”
"I'm going to have to ask Ms. Sabo how they dry," Ms. Sam said. "To stock up for the winter."
"They're just chopping up, like this, lengthwise," the boy said. "Then they are dried on a white sheet. Mrs. Molnar is drying them on the roof. ”
"On the roof?" says Ana suspiciously.
"Yes, on the roof of the chicken coop," the boy said. "First he spreads a sheet, then he develops chopped mushrooms on it. When the sun goes down, she picks them up. That's all. They didn't pick up the least. They let them grow.
"So don't say a word to anyone," Mrs. Sam repeated. "We found them behind the Imperial Oak, if anyone asks."
"As far as I'm concerned," said Ana, "I'm not going to talk."
"It's enough for someone to see the mushrooms and immediately know where they were picked," said the boy. "Just look at them and he already knows everything."
"He says that because," said Ana, "that he will brag in front of Mr. Molnar and in front of that Gypsy Virag with whom he started hanging out."
"I just don't know what that Virag will do to him," said Mrs. Sam.
They took a shortcut, across wet meadows. To the west, behind the village, red clouds were rising. They looked at those clouds. And they walked silently on the damp grass. Jack was first worn by Mrs. Sam. Then Ana helped her. Andi walked in front of them, digging fresh moles with his maple stick.
"Good evening, Mrs. Sam," said old Horvat. "We were diligent today, huh?"
"Good evening, Mr. Horvat," said Mrs. Sam, shifting the sack to her other shoulder.
The old man stabbed the point of his stick into the mushroom that rolled at his feet.
"Look," he said, "what do you need these poisonous mushrooms for?"
"How poisonous, Mr. Horvat?" the boy asked.
"I advise you, Mrs. Sam," said the peasant, "to throw it away as soon as possible." And not in my field, but in the river, behind the village… Lord, if I hadn't come in time, only that crazy father would have remained from this frequent family! ”
Mrs. Sam put the jack down on the ground and wanted to say something. But he said nothing. They just shook the boy's hand and the three of them headed for the river.