and Legend of Juro Jánošík,
Became Captain of the Band of Outlaws by beating Hrajnoha
Well, to become the captain
of a band of men like that of Uhorčik was not like rearranging three
sheaves of wheat in a field. Moreover, when a man like Hrajnoha coveted the
leadership, it was even more difficult. He was sly as a fox, as supple as if he
had no bones in his body, and strong as a young bull. He also had much
experience of the world and robbing, for the mountains had been his home and the
robber’s band his family since he was fifteen.
Quite so! If Jánošík was
to become the highwaymen’s captain, he had to measure his strength against no
other than Hrajnoha.
If Hrajnoha had only known
who Jánošík was and what he had been given in the last days… but from the
first moment, he took Jánošík for one who still has mother’s milk on his
He said, “Jánošík,
we’ll cut the tops off the trees, which one of us will cut off the highest
He did not wait. He swung
his valaška and the tree on the other side of the meadow was instantly a few
meters shorter. Then he looked at Jánošík, convinced that he would not dare
to try and equal his efforts. For Hrajnoha was a master of masters in handling
the valaška. But he did not have any idea of what sort of instrument his rival
might be holding in his hands.
Jánošík just smiled and
asked, “Can’t we find a higher tree in this forest?”
Jánošík looked around
for a tree that was at least three men higher than the previous one.
He turned his valaška
round and round above his head and slung it. The top of the tree fell as if cut
down by lightning. Yes, nothing could compare to the valaška Jánošík had.
Hrajnoha was silent and did
not say a single word. He only pondered. “Who knows what kind of spell has
been put on this. But, that boyko will not better me in jumping over the
The highwaymen prepared a
fire. They let it burn up high, continually throwing in brushwood. The flames
blazed higher and higher until they were as high as the head of a man standing
on the shoulders of another man, Jánošík and Hrajnoha kept leering at each
Which one of them would
Hrajnoha could not wait.
When the flames were as high as two and a half men, he started running towards
the fire. The flames just licked his shoes and already he found himself on the
Jánošík only smiled,
adjusted his hat and called out, “Come on boys! Do feed the fire!”
He waited until the fire
was as big as the tall surrounding fir trees. Then, without even running, he
just cried out “Hop”, took off from his place, and jumped over the flames
like a doe over a stream. Yes, the herbs, which the old woman had sewn in his
belt, gave his legs such strength, as they had never had before.
“Oh, no,” Hrajnoha
thought. “In these kind of games I can’t measure my strength against that
lad. I have to challenge him to physical combat with me, and seize him by the
neck and give him a good thrashing, so that he will lose his appetite for the
captain’s job once and for all.”
But talk about a fight!
Hrajnoha started in against
Jánošík and intended to knock him out by butting him with his tough head. But
Jánošík only extended his fist and Hrajnoha lay on his back kicking and
shaking like a dying fly.
Hrajnoha tried to kick his
rival, but Jánošík made a sudden dodge, grabbed Hrajnoha’s ankle, swung the
man round several times and “bang”, he landed somewhere in the raspberry
Hrajnoha struck out with
his hands to seize Jánošík by the neck, hoping to break it and get rid of him
forever, but Jánošík only took a step back and crouched down a bit and
Hrajnoha flew over his head. In no time at all, Jánošík was kneeling on his
chest and choking him.
“Will you give in or
not?” Jánošík asked him.
Hrajnoha gasped, threw
himself around, and tried to shake Jánošík off, but there was no chance. Jánošík
just put his knees together a little and Hrajnoha’s ribs seemed to break. But
Hrajnoha resisted. Why on earth would he admit to such shame to be banged
against the ground by a stranger and pinned down there in front of the eyes of
all his men?
He gathered all his
strength for the last time, jumped up, and tried to grab Jánošík’s hair. He
certainly should not have done so. Jánošík had been particularly sensitive
about his hair since that day in the past. Jánošík shook his head and the
hand grabbed into the air. In turn, Jánošík grabbed Hrajnoha’s hair and
pulled it and pulled it. Hrajnoha’s head bent backwards until it looked like
his head and neck would be separated form his body.
“Will you give in or
not?” Jánošík asked him.
“I’ll give in,”
Hrajnoha said in a hoarse voice at last.
Yes, the herbs sewn in Jánošík belt gave strength not only to the legs but also to the arms and the whole body.
At that moment all the
robbers threw their hats and hatchets into the air, even some shots from their
guns were heard. Hurrah! The band has a new captain! And not just any sort of
captain. This one is a real man, and what a man! No one like him has ever been
seen in the mountains of Kysuce before.
Uhorcik knew it as well;
there was no need for words anymore. It was not at all necessary to say who
would be the leader of the band from now on. He approached Jánošík silently,
shook his hand, put his captain’s hat on the new leader’s head, and said,
“Good luck, Jánošík.”
The other robbers came up
to Jánošík one after another, shook his hand, and murmured their names.
Ilčík,Surovčík, Gajdošík, Garaj, Adamčík, Hunčík,
also called Turiak, Sutora, Vavrek, Mucha,
There were eleven men
altogether in the band, including Uhorčik and Hrajnoha. The twelfth was Jánošík,
their new captain. The same evening, he gave them a new oath of allegiance. Now
they were no longer to rob only for themselves but to turn mountains of
grievance to valleys of truth. To distribute between the poor what they took
from the rich. To do everything in such a way that order would finally rule all
over the country; the kind of order that Rákoczi had promised to introduce not
such a long time ago. They also swore to be faithful to their captain in life
and death and stay with him through thick or thin, even until the day they were
sent to the gallows.
A book, Jánošík, Jánošík... written by Anton Marec, translated into English by Tatiana Strnadová and John Doyle and published in 1995 by Matica Slovenská, contains 33 tales of this famous outlaw captain. The information in this book was used to create this story. Check in the future for other stories.