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Yogesh Chandratre

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Rumoured near Giewont Mountain, Tatra Mountain Range bordering Poland & Slovakia

September 2, 1939. A day before World War II broke out, German troops
invaded Poland and captured the Jablunka Pass in Tatra Mountains. Many Polish soldiers fighting against the invading Germans went missing.

In an altercation with the German troops, a young Polish soldier managed to escape in the mountains of Tatra. Lost and nearly overcome by hunger and exhaustion, the soldier wandered his way into a cave. There he slept deep without a bother to the bears and wolves that inhabited such caves.

He slept until the sound of hoofs took him by alert. To his utter dismay he
saw not soldiers in uniform and caps but those dressed in armours &
helmets. Holding not guns but swords & shields. There was a leader
amongst them. One who wore that thick black moustache. He looked kingly in demeanour.

'You fight for my land, soldier. And so you shall live to fight a few more
battles.' He said in Polish tongue. 'Hunger has weakened you greatly. Eat well & rest here for two more days. It snows outside and the enemy keeps vigil. Do not leave until the third sun has risen. Till then we will guard the frontiers. The Brave One will guard the cave and serve food as well.'

They seemed in a hurry. The horses turned and galloped out of the cave that grew in silence. But soon the silence was intruded by a nimble approach that could barely be heard. A snow leopard approached towards the soldier holding a small hare in its mouth. Splints of snow were still on their fir. It stopped a few feet before the wary soldier who felt the weight of fear in his intestine. However, there was no aggression in those wild eyes. They looked calm and poised and almost humble. Quietly, the snow leopard laid the hare on the cave floor and receded to a rock where it sat licking it's fur. It looked everywhere but at the hare and the soldier. It seemed utterly disinterested in either. The soldier gripped  his knife much like those on horses had held their swords in the scabbard.

Slowly, he stood himself half and stretched his hand towards the hare. His eyes fixed over the Brave One atop the rock. But the snow leopard held no concern. It kept to itself. The refugee found some chopped wood in the cavern and created a small fire to cook him meat and keep the cave warm.

After a while, the Brave One descended the rock it had crowned itself over in such comfort and walked deep into the cave. It returned soon with wet pugs indicating there was water present. The Brave One's guest was quick to read and followed the wet trail to reach a small pond of the clearest of water.

Over the next two days, the Brave One brought more hares to feed its guest with strength. The soldier ate and drinked to his plenty. At the third dawn, the soldier woke to find the Brave One was nowhere in sight. It had left him another hare for breakfast. The soldier ate to his fill and waited, hoping to see the snow leopard or the men who had kept the 'Brave One' in his service. But neither arrived.

It had stopped snowing. The sun shone brighter than it ever had in the last two days. The soldier left the cave, just as he was asked to.

By the cave's mouth lay hilt of a broken sword. It bore the mark of the great king Boleslaw, noticed the Polish soldier. That very instant legend of the Brave King of Poland and his warrior knights who after defeating the enemies of Poland had ventured into the Tatra Mountains, dawned upon his remembrance. '…there they slept inside a dark cave to be awakened by someone when Poland needed their aid.' Words whispered from his lips.

©yogeshchandrate2008 All rights reserved

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