Watch what you say! Excerpts from the book “The Poisoned Tree Fruit”.

Warsaw, second half of the nineteenth century. Kinga, although she lives with her aunt, uncle and two cousins, does not feel good about them – she suffocates in the atmosphere of a bourgeois dwelling house and something else … The little girl cannot understand why her aunt Maria Borjevich hates her. Much. The only way out is to get out of my aunt and uncle’s house. Kinga decides to take this brave step and leaves for Krakow, where she intends to find her father’s only surviving relative, whose existence she did not know until recently. You will soon discover that the road to independence can be longer and more complex than you ever imagined.

to read a novel Agnieszka Janiszewska from the course The fruit of the poisoned tree Zakzitani Publishing House invites you. Last week you can read the premiere on our pages Excerpts from the book The fruit of the poisoned tree. Today it’s time for the next part of this story:

The good Mrs. Bunichowska (as Anthony used to say about her) not only appeared unexpectedly, but was also wrapped in one of the old white scarves, so at first it was possible to take her as a ghost.

“I’m sorry,” the girl was puzzled, for she had the impression that the old lady had given her a scolding look.
– I was thinking and didn’t recognize you at first.

And it occurred to her in hindsight that the old woman might not like this explanation, but Mrs. Ponichovska did not follow through. What should she communicate with him?

“Your cousin has come to see you,” Baalo said.

– cousin? asked Kinga, realizing that her eyes now looked like two round saucers.

– I do. There, across the street. The old woman pointed her cane in front of her. – He’s been waiting here and waiting, two hours have passed. I did not let him in, because firstly I know this man, and secondly, you did not tell me that you were expecting a visitor.

– cousin? Kinga repeated unknowingly, as she was too surprised to utter any other words.

Zbyszek? Did he come from St. Petersburg to visit her?

I guess he didn’t shorten his practice, because he was supposed to spend at least half a year there?

Only then did she see Alexander approaching the gate.

– Why didn’t you call me when you saw me walking in the street? I asked when they finally got to the apartment. “I don’t understand how it is possible that I didn’t notice you myself before.”

– It didn’t surprise me at all. I looked like Persephone returning from the abyss to the earth. Since he was just a mortal there, he smiled.

“Don’t make fun of me,” she looked sharply, “cousin.”

– As a cousin, I will not spoil your reputation. Would you rather that I introduce myself as your son-in-law? wink at her. – Even my cousin?

She placed two cups of hot tea on the table, shrugging her shoulders.

“I doubt she would believe this cousin anyway.

– I understand that you are not satisfied with my visit?

“You surprised me, that’s all,” she answered, turning to the little stove. “But it’s actually nothing new.” You always surprise me. She wanted it to sound friendly, at least warmer than words of greeting so far, but the intent wasn’t entirely successful. In addition, I realized that he not only guessed what it really meant, but also interpreted it in his own way. So she quickly added: “You must be hungry.” Wait, I’ll get something ready.

No, don’t get into trouble. At first he grabbed her elbow and then pulled out his hand. Hot tea is good for me. Besides, I just wanted to see how you are.

To her dismay, she felt she was gushing, just as she had been fifteen, and he began to visit Burgiewicz’s house often.

She wasn’t the only one blushing – Clementine reacted exactly the same – and Kinga did what she could to prevent anyone from guessing what she was feeling then. Therefore, whenever the young assistant of her uncle came to visit, she usually avoided being at the family tea and tea parties, and this was not so difficult, because her aunt, contrary to her custom, did not insist on her niece being present in the living room at such times. But when, for various reasons, Kinga could not withdraw from these meetings – for example, when Uncle Stefan desperately wanted to be invited to the table to have dinner together – she tried not to draw attention to herself and even She was grateful to her aunt for marking her place away from Alexander Jankovic. From there she was able to stay safe, because secretly, she noticed Clementine, who was seated beside the young doctor, alternately pale and blushed, shivering all over her body. It was no secret why Miss Burgiewiczówna reacted in this way to Jankiewicz’s presence. It was not a secret for Alexander either, although he did not reveal anything about himself for a long time – he treated her kindly and sometimes even bravely, but there was no indication that he would reciprocate her feelings. Kinga noticed it right away, but the more Clementina got out of her skin to interest Jankiewicz in a topic — and sometimes she put in a bit of effort — the more she tried to ignore it. When it happened sometimes Speaking to her, she answered briefly, even casually, which should have discouraged him from continuing the conversation, but it had a different effect than was intended. Only Burgiewicz’s intervention put an end to this conversation, and Kinga had to put up with the indignant looks of both her aunt and cousin, who blamed her for the whole situation.
She could only imagine how they would react now if they could see her and Alexander together, alone, in this humble apartment. So, in order to get rid of this thought and those memories as quickly as possible, and at the same time to control the agitation caused by his visit today and the welcoming touch of his hand, she took a step back and twisted her face into a fake smile.

She replied, “It’s not a problem for me.” – Anyway, I was supposed to prepare something for myself.

– Then I invite you to dinner. Let’s get out of here and into town.

– How is that? This time she laughed quite honestly, but realized that he was not joking at all, so she turned seriously and shook her head.

– why not?

– You know it’s impossible. She shrugged her shoulders.

However, Alexander seems to disagree.

– impossible? why is that? Since she didn’t reply, he sighed. “Do you really think that going out to dinner together is something worthy of eternal damnation?” For if you fear the opinion of the little girl you are paying for the rent, I can assure you she would be more curious if we didn’t leave this apartment for the next hours.

“No, I don’t care what she thinks,” Kinga replied angrily, albeit not sincerely. More and more women live in this dwelling house, observing the other inhabitants with love and affection. A lonely little girl like Kinga was a favorite vision target.

I had already discovered that the gossip here was no less vicious than it was in Warsaw, with the difference being that at least the big city gave a greater sense of anonymity. She also could not forget that the old Mrs. Ponichovska was an acquaintance of Anthony, moreover, in Krakow she had the impression that she was better or worse, but everyone here knew each other. However, she did not intend to leave unanswered Alexander’s provocative words, so she forcefully added:

– I don’t care what she or others think of me. But I guess you realize how your wife and mother-in-law would react if they found out that we’ve been seen here together?

At first she wasn’t able to look back at him, except when he shook hands with her again. Unmistakable fraternal friendships.

– How do they find out? And if so, then what? They never had the right to treat you the way they did, but now you definitely don’t have to worry about their opinion. You don’t have to fear them anymore. You are an independent person. Isn’t that what you dreamed of?

Nobody is independent in this world – somehow Jagyowska expressed it. Then she added that in the case of women, independence is absolutely not possible. However, Kinga had no intention of sharing Amelia’s thoughts with her brother-in-law. I decided to draw his attention to a completely different point.

“It concerns not only me, but also, or perhaps most of all, about you,” she said, making him understand that it was mostly he who should not allow himself to ignore the discontent of his wife, mother-in-law, and the rest of the family.

He understood what she meant, but shook her slightly, then pointed to the teacup.

“Let’s drink it before it gets cold,” he said cheerfully. – And then we go to town. No, do not be afraid, I offer you no revelation, he added, noting the terror on her face. “We’ll just have dinner and talk like two people who have been denied the right to normal conversation for years.” For God’s sake, don’t let anyone tell you there’s something wrong with this. Because I can assure you that there is no.

Easy for you to say, she repeated in her mind what she had learned some time ago. You are a man, so you can put up with more. Why pretend you don’t understand it? Or maybe you don’t really understand?

But she asked something else out loud. Something bothered her from the first moment she saw him at the gate.

“I hope you didn’t come here just for me?”

Strange thing, but this time her voice didn’t flinch. She happily avoided the redness of her face; Even when Alexander looked directly into her eyes, in a way he had never done before.

– I came to visit my relatives. Do you remember that they live near Krakow? But as soon as she nodded, he added, “It’s fateful, though, that you now live in this city.” You gave me a good reason to visit.

– How do you know exactly where I live? she asked, slightly changing her tone. More realistic, not to mention formal. – Who is Uncle Stefan?

However, she did not fully believe in such a possibility. And – as it turns out – for good reason.

Alexander replied, “Somehow.” Except without his knowledge. I once saw an envelope with your address on his desk. I didn’t have to ask him anything. – He smiled to himself.

She sat up in the chair and pushed the empty cup away from her.

– How is your wife, cousin? I cringed when I heard how cool and formal it sounded.

I immediately noticed a change in his face. As if some hail cloud had blocked it out.

– Should we talk about it?

– What’s so strange? She coldly replied that she was my cousin. “From what my uncle wrote recently, it seems that Clementine is expecting to deliver her in a few weeks. I don’t think she should be left alone now, but this is not the best time to visit…relatives.”

Both the words and the tone in which they were spoken made Alexander even darker.

“Clementine is not alone,” he replied, shrugging. – Anyway, you know it well, so I don’t have to explain anything to you.

Mother and father care will not replace you.

– Is that true? Was my dear cousin going to tell me manners now? He sneered, then Kinga couldn’t stand it.

She said, “I’m not your cousin.” Watch what you say. And for whom.

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