On May 2, 1627, two teenage girls wound their usual way along a path in the forests of Jaktorowski to pray before a little Marian shrine. They did this once a week for as long as they could remember. Their parents did it and their parents before them. Their great-grandfather was the one who set up the shrine, as thanks for having been appointed royal gamekeeper in the primeval forest.
The pair walked slowly, barefooted together, soaking in the beautiful spring weather. Jasa began to sing as they strolled; an old song, about a magical Poland populated by fairies and elves. Elka always enjoyed listening to Jasa sing; her voice seemed to blend so nicely with the natural sounds of the forest.
Suddenly Jasa’s voice croaked and a very surprised Elka turned towards her with wide eyes, holding back a giggle. Jasa coughed and held her hand out in front of her mouth to catch a little black ball that came shooting out. Holding it up to Elka, they both inspected the fly as it tried to untangle itself. More flies appeared as they hurriedly continued on their way again.
Running quickly around a turn in the trail, the girls stopped in their tracks.
“Oh dear,” said Elka.
There was their father with his arms folded, looking over the rotting carcass of a massive cow covered in flies. He looked up at the girls and sighed.
“Well... we knew it was coming sooner or later,” he said sadly.
“The king isn’t going to be happy,” Jasa whispered.
Her father looked into her eyes and replied slowly, “We’re not losing our tax-exemption just yet, darling.”
The villagers of Jaktorowski waited three more years before informing the king’s inspector that the last Auroch, the prehistoric father of all domestic cattle, had died.