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Kveta Is My Younger Sister

Czechoslovakia is a very small but beautiful country in Eastern Europe. It is named for the two groups of people – the Czechs and the Slovaks who live there. These people are noted for their love of music and sport.

Im Martin. Milan is my friend, and Kveta is my younger sister. Milan came to visit us right after lunch one day. He wore new clothes and carried his violin case.
“Martin, let’s go fishing,”Milan said.
“I can’t,” I replaid. “ I have school this afternoon.”
Milan placed his violin on a chair.
“I cant’t either,” He said.”I have to play the violin for a dance at the nursery school.”
Kveta was listening. She was too young to go to school, but she could already imagine what happens there.
“I’m glad you can’t go,”she said,” because you wouldn’t take me with you anyway.”
Then she ignored us completely and went off to play with her teddy bear.
“My school doesn’t start until two o’clock,” I whispered to Milan.
He whispered back, “ My dance doesn’t either!”

I picked up my schoolbag, Milan picked up his violin case, and when Kveta wasn’t looking, we ran out of the house and all the way to the river.
I have a hiding place among the willow trees where I keep my fishing pole. As soon as we arrived there, I took out the fishing pole and put in my schoolbag. Milan put his violin case next to my schoolbag and we went off fishing.
I was the first to catch a fish. Then Milan caught one. I caught another one. It was a rainbow trout and it was definitely the biggest one I had ever seen. It was all silver and gold, with fins that looked as if they had been dipped in red paint. Obviously, Milan was jealous. He kept saying that it was just an ordinary carp.
“It’s a rainbow trout,”I insisted.
“No, it’s a carp,” he replaid.
We argued and argued until we were worn out. Then we made a little pond in the sand, put the trout in it for safe-keeping, and went looking for someone older to settle our argument. We went upstream and downstream, but we could find no one. Worse than that, when we came back to the pond we had made, the fish was gone!

“Maybe it jumped back into the river,”said Milan.
I thought about arguing that neither rainbow trout nor carp could jump such a distance, but I noticed the time on my wrist watch. In five minutes it would be a quarter to two. Milan rushed to our hiding place, grabbed his violin case, and ran off to school.
I took my schoolbag and was ready to go too, when I noticed a pile of freshly pulled grass. I sifted through it, and at the bottom of the pile of grass I found Milan’s violin with fish scales sticking to it.
Later, Milan told me,”When I arrived at the nursery school it was ten minutes to two. Everyone asked me why I had been running and told me to quickly tune my violin.
“They gave me a towel to wipe the sweat off my hands, and then they suggested that I comb my hair a little. They gave me a comb, and so I did.
“Again they told me to hurry up and get my violin ready! Just at that moment, Martin, you came running up to the window and started to yell something. One of the teachers opened the window and asked what you wanted. You kept yelling in my direction,’You have fish in there, you have a fish in there,’ and you held up my violin.
“That’s when I opened my violin case and pulled out the teddy bear that squeaked when its head moved up and down.
“Everyone laughed. I ran outside to get my violin, but you were gone and my violin was on the doorstep.”
Then, I told Milan,”Really, I was sure that there would be a fish inside that case, because when I found the violin in the grass, there were fish scales all over it, and my fish had disappeared.
“I ran after you as fast as I could to tell you what had happened and to warn you not to open your violin case.

“But, when I arrived at the nursery school, it was already five minutes to two, and I only had time to yell about the fish, leave the violin on the doorstep, and then run away. Obviously, I myself was late for school.
“As soon as I sat down at my desk, the teacher told us to take out our books and start reading. I started to open my schoolbag, but then I hesitated to put my hand in it.
“’Go ahead,’ the teacher said.
“’ I can’t, there’s a fish in there,’ I replied.
“ I said,’Since there was a teddy bear in the violin case instead of a violin, where can the fish be? I must have it in my schoolbag.’
“At this point, the teacher himself put his hand into my schoolbag and pulled out a book. Then he put it back and said,’Somebody take Martin home and put a cold rag on his head.’”
After exchanging our stories, I said to Milan, “The teddy bear must be Kveta’s work. She may not go to school yet, but she sure knows how to get even all right! She must have followed us secretly and arranged the whole thing with the violin and the teddy bear.”
Milan said,”The fish was probably her work, too. While we were arguing, I bet she quickly dropped the fish into the river.”
“Which fish?” I asked.
“The carp,”said Milan.
“You mean the rainbow trout,”I said.
“Kveta is listening,”said Milan
He said no more.
Neither did I.

By Vaclav Ctvrtek
Translated from the Czech
Illustration by Vladimir Fuka Hervert.

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