Sometime in Time and somewhere in Where lived Mathematician. To tell the truth he was just studying Mathematics, but everyone nicknamed him this way. It was not too surprising as whenever you saw him he was peering into a very thick volume or discoursing sentencies no one understood.
But something had happened to him, for for hours sat Mathematician motionlessly, stooped like an Integral Sign and pale like the Tabula Tasa.
"He must be constructing the sophisticated proof of the Last Fermat's Theorem metausing metaboolean metasemantics,"---observed one respectable Professor of Mathematics.
"He must be searching the transcendental inner Universe for the irrational sense of Existence of Not-Being,"---disagreed in no way less respectable Professor of Philosophy.
This two Professors always had different points of view and, therefore, were always arguing.
"He's simply terribly in love---that is what is,"---remarked a little passing-by girl, wondering how these scholars could not understand the simpliest things.
Strangely enough, the both Professors agreed each with other that the girl's words were nonsense and that what was called Love was absurdity which could never happen, especially to someone like Mathematician. But their consent lasted not long and one minute later they had another quarrel over the definition of Love and its classification and symptoms.
They were discorsing and Mathematician was suffering. From Love. Love which brings a Pain and is a painful Medicine for this Pain, Love which makes you the Wealthiest when not making you the Poorest, Love which blossoms like a Rose, but lets you not touch the Rose because of the thorns.
All was much more hopeless as he was in Love with Mavka---one of that tribe of tale-folks.
Once they had been a numerous and prosperous beings. The Writers, Singers, Painters or Tellers had been writing, singing, painting or telling about wonders of the World. About Witch dancing at the moonless night, about Fairy living at a desk drawer, about the King of the Sea drowning nearby vessels when yawning, about Cinderella waiting for a Cinderprince.
But the mankind had discovered Mathematics, Physics, Philosophy and Chemistry. It had been mathematically proved that none of the above folks existed. Everything was classified, numerated, taken to atoms and composed back. In this nomenclature there were no places for the tale-folks. To speak in educated society about Mermaids, Magicians, Elves, and so forth was at least indecent.
Driven away, neglected, offended they had hidden in impenetrable Forests, the dippest crefts of the Sea bed, or denied and forgot the best they possesed---their fairness, unnoticebly living among people.
So Mathematician loved Mavka. In theory she existed not, but in reality she was as fair as any other mother's child. Her eyes like two little ponds reflected the blue skies and puffy puffs of clouds. And what treasures were hidden in the depth of the ponds! Her lips resembled two red petals at Dawn when smiling, and two red petals at Sunset when crying. And they always resembled two petals at Dawn. Her cheeks and hands were ivory-made, but not a minute could they keep quiet. Gilted was the hair like golden leaves in Autumn, and like a Spring waterstream it could be looked on for ever and for ever.
She called the old willow-tree her Mother, and Summer Wind her Father. Each Autunm the Wind embrased and persuaded the Willow to go with him to hot Egypt, but the Willow only slightly and sadly trembled with her leaves. Never would she be able to travel even two miles away, and so softly was rejected Wind's offer. And Mavka remained in the Forest, not willing to leave her mother. Simple had been Mavka's life. Her companions were just birds, beasts and trees. This way she lived before meeting the Mathematician - speaking the Languages of Birds, Trees, Beasts, changing herself for a fun into whatever came to her mind, and doing many other things contradicting to a number of Theorems. For her excuse we should say that she was completely anaware of the Science, so all these violations were without any evil intention from her side.
But once Mathematician met her. They liked each other at once. To please him she called for the little Sparrows who on her request demonstrated the first-rate flying. She asked a little Bear to bring the best Berries. Then she turned into a tree, into a hedgehog and into a copy of Mathematician's book.
"Alas!---he cried,---what are you doing? Don't you know that according to the Fundamentals of Physics, the Ivariants of Form cannot be transformed!! And that Naturalists showed that the beasts have no intellect altogether, but a set of reflexes".
"I know not Physics but I know that all forest beings are as human as You or me: when offended they cry, when delighted they sing merry songs, when spoken to they speak. They are very nice to play with. They do like my "transformation""---denied Mavka.
But Mathematician repeated incessantly: "Conservation of Energy, Conservation of Matter, Conservation of Conservation..."
"The simpliest creature,---he thought on the way home,---how poor and unattractive her life is! How simple-minded she is! She knows nothing, probably, she cannot even read! I think I should sacrifice some of my precious time to educate her. That's a great service of me but for the sake of my love I will do everything."
He started Mavka's education next day. She learned very well seing how proud and happy he became when she could tell A from B, 1 from 2, proper integrals from improper ones.
Once Mavka showed the integrals to her best friend Swallow. Swallow looked at an Integral Sign, pecked it (maybe taking it for worm), squeacked "Rubbish!" and flew away.
"Today I will prove The Great Brilliant Law of Conservation of Enegry, Entropy and Matter Invariants, and therefore, as a consequence show that your form is stable and cannot change to a form of a different Metric"---so upliftedly and solenmly started Mathematician one lecture. It was in reallity one of the best his speeches. Impressed, Mavka imagined and felt how electrons are sternly fixed throughout her body and how powerful nuclear forces prevent them from unlawful movements.
"And now, try!"---he suggested. She tried... and couldn't. "What was required to prove!"---he was delighted. Certainly, it was very good that his Mavka no longer was an exception to rules but most definitely confirm the truth of Theory. He was happy and felt Harmony and Sense of World.
Yes, It was all right, her form was constant as it should be, according to Physics. This form looked certainly very nice, but it was not always convenient. She could not any more to turn into a little fish to play in the River and to make fun of the bitter Pike. Nor could she fly above the Forest, singing a happy bird's song. In any case she had no free time for a number of thick books brought by Mathematician she had to study. And, besides, Mathematician was happy and that means uch to her.
Then he proved that the voices uttered by Birds and Beasts are but random sounds with no meaning. And she as if lost hearing. Only Language of Trees she understood, as it probably slipped out of his mind that trees might speak. But there was little use of it: everybody knows how slow are the trees, and, in fact, it takes them two hours to creak a word.
Then came Autumn. Mathematician caught a cold and, as he was very sensitive to weather, decided to suspend Mavka's education till Spring.
Winter brought harsh cold. For long wandered trembling Mavka in searching for a place to hide. Usually she turned into Stone and lay all Winter in warm Bears' den. It is very important to turn just into a very hard stone, in case the big ÿ3hungry ÿ0Bear starts to gnaw everything in the den. To Mavka it was the longest Winter in her life. No doubts, lying motionlessly under warm Bear is much more pleasant.
But, everything ends, and the Winter ended. The Spring started. Mathematician resumed his lectures.
That day he was proving that no tale-folks existed or would exist. It was an absolutely correct and logical proof without any flaws. The only flaw was Mavka as a counterexample. At first he was a little reluctant to start the Theorem, but he has to do it for sake of Truth and his Love. "I should settle it out, despite how painful result I might receive", - he thought...
"And as a consequence you do not exist,"---he concluded. Nobody answered.
Only Swallow was flying over the place, and little Bear, she liked most, growled. It was really strange, but little tears were dropping out of Swallow's cheeks and Bear, in fact, was not growling but crying.
"Hey, you, the beast and the bird. You cannot cry, You have no human feelings!!"
But, luckily, they didn't understand a word from it and continued to mourn for Mavka, not knowing that they have no human feelings.
"I have sacrificed my Love at the altar of Truth. I am a Scholar. And that is true Scholar's duty no matter how painful and hard"---at last he remarked.
Zhovkva, 5-7 February 1995
(Estonian translation by Weronika Pawlak)