Translation:The High Mountains/68

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The Storm

Outside the woodcutters' little house they had long ago installed a very big dining table.

It was neither planed nor decorated. It was made from bits of superfluous wood, nailed together. Just wood and nails.

—The woodcutters aren't carpenters, said the Engineer. And yet look, children, at what they have made so meticulously out of unused wood.

They sat down at the table, the Engineer and all the children. He also invited the oldest woodcutter to sit down with them.


Injust a short time, the weather had become warm and heavy. Suddenly the sky covered over.

Just when they had finished their meal, the children smelled a strange odour in the air. It was the storm approaching.

They turned around to see farther off; the distant mountains had disappeared.

A fog so thick you could have cut it with a knife had dropped between the sky and the land. You could have said that the storm was looking for somewhere to strike.

For a moment it went back towards the plain, then changed its route to come back behind the Green Wood.

The trees were restless, they bent over and said something to each other.


The lightning struck. Five golden vipers twisted around with their tails on the ground and their heads in the air.

The air had suddenly got colder. A great roar was heard. They just had time to run into the house before the storm arrived and wanted to get in too.

The children pushed the door closed from the inside, the storm pushed from the outside. Together the children had to muster all their forces to close it and then lock it.

Then the storm came in through the two windows. It smashed them both, threw them onto the floor and masses of water poured inside.


Through the broken windows, they could see the destruction outside. Rain and hail swirled and danced. It was as if tons of glass had been scattered, smashed and more tipped on top, and then even more onto the debris.

They heard a terrible crack like glass and nails.

The children who had been chased by the water which had come in through the windows had taken refuge in the corners. But even so they wanted to see. They were filled with fear and awe.

Outside five woodcutters banged loudly on the door. They had taken refuge under a thick tree to protect themselves. The children opened the door to let them in.


Once it had passed over, the storm raced to the other side of the Three Peaks. It rushed by at high speed.

It broke some trees in two at the middle as though with a sword thrust, uprooted others; huge trunks were felled to the ground, others remained upright without branches or leaves.

A small pine, which they'd seen fight against the storm, now once more held itself erect and alert.

After some minutes the storm was far away. They could hardly see it, like the distant fog.

So everything became calm again. Not a leaf moved. The standing trees stood in silent remembrance for the fallen.