Part 13 out of 14
with rags. Besides this, the two swords were lying at Sanderus' feet
ready to be cleaned afterward.
"Look," said Macko, forcibly grasping Zbyszko's arm to detain him if
possible for another moment, "he has taken the coats of mail and swords
purposely. Well, that one with the grey head must be...."
"Forward!" suddenly shouted Zbyszko.
And like a whirlwind he rushed into the clearing; the others did the
same, but they only succeeded in reaching Sanderus. The terrible Macko
caught hold of old Zygfried by the breast, bent him backward and in a
moment held him under him. Zbyszko and Arnold grasped each other like two
hawks, with their arms intertwined and began to struggle fiercely with
each other. The bearded German, who was with Sanderus, sprang toward the
sword, but he did not use it. Wit, Macko's servant, struck him with the
back of his axe, and stretched him upon the ground. Then they began to
bind Sanderus, according to Macko's order, but he, although he well knew
that it was so arranged beforehand, began to bellow as terribly as a
yearling calf whose throat is being cut by the butcher's knife.
But Zbyszko, though so strong that he could squeeze a branch of a tree
and cause the sap to run out, felt that he was not grasped by human
hands, but was in the hug of a bear. He also felt that if it were not for
the cost of mail which he had on, in case of having to fight with the
sword, the German giant would have crushed his ribs and perhaps the
spinal column too. The young knight lifted him a little from the ground,
but Arnold lifted him up higher still, and gathering all his strength he
tried to throw him to the ground so that he might not be able to rise
But Zbyszko also clutched him with such terrible force that blood issued
from the German's eyes. Then he crooked his leg between Arnold's knees,
bent him sideways and struck him in the hollow of the knee, which threw
him to the ground. In reality both fell to the ground, the young knight
underneath; but at the same moment, Macko, who was observing all this,
threw the half doubled-up Zygfried into the hands of an attendant, and
rushed toward the prostrate fighters, and in the twinkling of an eye he
had bound the feet of Arnold with a belt; then he jumped, and sat down
upon him as upon a wild boar, took the _misericordia_ from his side, and
plunged it deep into his throat.
Arnold screamed horribly, and his hands involuntarily withdrew from
Zbyszko's sides. Then he began to moan not only with the pain of the
wound, but he also felt an indescribable pain in his back: where he had
received a blow from a club in his previous fight with Skirwoilla.
Macko grasped him with both hands and dragged him off Zbyszko, and
Zbyszko got up from the ground and sat down; he tried to stand up but
could not; he sat thus without being able to rise, for some time. His
face was pale and covered with perspiration. His eyes were bloodshot and
his lips were blue; and he looked in front of him as though half dazed.
"What is the matter?" asked Macko, in alarm.
"Nothing, but I am very tired. Help me to get up."
Macko put his hands under Zbyszko's arms and lifted him up at once.
"Can you stand?"
"Do you feel pain?"
"Nothing, but I am short of breath."
Meanwhile the Bohemian, seeing apparently that the struggle in the farm
yard was all over, appeared in front of the hut, dragging the woman
servant of the Order by the neck. At that sight, Zbyszko forgot his
fatigue, his strength returned to him at once, and he rushed to the hut
as though he had never struggled with the terrible Arnold.
"Danuska! Danuska!" cried Zbyszko; but no answer came.
"Danuska! Danuska!" he repeated; then he remained silent. It was dark
within, for that reason he could see nothing at first. But instead, he
heard, proceeding from behind the stones which were heaped up behind the
fireplace, a quick and audible panting, like that of a little animal
"Danuska! For God's sake. It is I! Zbyszko!"
Then he observed in the darkness, her eyes, wide open, terrified and
He rushed toward her and pressed her in his arms, but she did not
entirely recognize him, and tore herself away from his embrace, and began
to repeat in a subdued whisper:
"I am afraid! I am afraid! I am afraid!"
END OF PART SEVENTH.
Neither loving words nor tender persuasion availed. Danusia recognized
nobody and did not regain consciousness. The only feeling which pervaded
her whole being was fear, a kind of fear shown by captured birds. When
food was brought to her she refused to eat it in the presence of others.
In the glances of rejection which she cast upon the food one could detect
habitual hunger. Left alone, she sprang upon the eatables like a ravenous
little wild beast. But when Zbyszko entered she rushed into the corner
and hid herself under a bundle of dry hops. Zbyszko opened his arms in
vain, he stretched out his hands in vain, with tears he begged her, but
unavailingly. She refused to issue from her hiding-place even when the
light was so arranged that she could recognize the outlines of Zbyszko's
face. It seemed as though she had lost her memory along with her senses.
He therefore gazed upon her emaciated pale face in which was depicted an
expression of dismay, her hollow eyes, her tattered dress, and his heart
cried out within him from pain at the thought in whose hands she had been
and how she had been treated. He was finally seized with such a terrible
rage that he grasped his sword and rushed toward Zygfried, and he would
have certainly killed him, had not Macko grasped him by the arm.
Then like enemies they struggled with each other. But the young man was
so much fatigued from his previous fight with the gigantic Arnold, that
the old knight prevailed. Twisting Zbyszko's wrist, he exclaimed:
"Are you mad?"
"Let me go!" he begged, gnashing his teeth, "for my heart bursts within
"Let it burst! I will not let you go. It is better to dash your head to
pieces than disgrace yourself and the whole family."
And, clutching Zbyszko's hand, as with iron tongs, he said threateningly:
"See, revenge will not escape you; and you are a belted knight. How then
dare you kill a prisoner in bonds? You cannot help Danusia. What will be
the result? Nothing but disgrace. You say that kings and princes think it
proper to destroy their prisoners. Bah! That is not the case with us; and
what is feasible with them is not so with you. They have a kingdom,
cities, castles. But what have you? Knightly honor. Those who find no
fault with them will spit in your face. Consider, for God's sake!"
There was silence for a moment.
"Let me go!" Zbyszko repeated gloomily. "I will not kill him."
"Come to the fire, let us consult."
Macko led him by the hand to the fire which the servant stirred up near
the tar-ovens. There they sat down and Macko reflected for a moment, and
"You must also remember that you have promised this old dog to Jurand,
who will avenge his own and his daughter's tortures. He is the one who
will pay him, and do not you fear! In this you must please Jurand. It is
his affair and not yours. Jurand may do it, but you must not; he did not
capture him but will receive him as a present from you; he can even flay
him alive and none will blame him for it. Do you understand me?"
"I understand," replied Zbyszko. "You are right."
"You are evidently coming to your senses again. Should you again be
tempted by the devil, bear this also in your mind, that you have also
challenged Lichtenstein and other Knights of the Cross, and if you should
kill a defenceless captive and the men should publish your action, no
knight would accept your challenge, and he would be justified. God
forbid! We have enough misfortunes, but spare us shame. Let us rather
talk about what concerns our present doings and movements."
"Give your advice," said the young man.
"My advice is this: that serpent who was with Danusia ought to be killed;
but it does not become a knight to kill a woman. We shall therefore
deliver her into the hands of Prince Janusz. She plotted treason whilst
at the forest court of the prince and princess. Let the Mazovian courts
judge her. If they do not crush her upon the wheel for her crimes, then
they will offend God's justice. As long as we find no other woman to wait
upon Danusia, as long as she is wanted to serve her we must keep her
until some other old woman be found; then we will tie her to a horse's
tail. But now we must push on toward the Mazovian wilderness as soon as
"It cannot be done at once, it is dark already. By to-morrow, if God
will, Danusia may come to her senses."
"Let the horses rest well, and at daybreak we will start."
Further conversation was interrupted by Arnold von Baden, who was
stretched on his back at a distance, trussed by his own sword; he said
something in German. Old Macko got up and went to him, but as he did not
understand him he called the Bohemian.
But Hlawa could not come at once because he was busy about something
else. During the conversation, near the fire, he went directly to the
servant of the Order, put his hands around her neck, shook her like a
pear-tree, and said:
"Listen, you slut! Go into the shanty and prepare the fur bedding for the
young lady. But before you do that, dress her in your good apparel,
whilst you put upon your carcass the tattered rags which you have given
her.... May your mother suffer perdition!"
He was so angry that he could not control himself, and shook her so
savagely that her eyes bulged out. He would have twisted her neck, but he
thought better of it since she was still of some use; finally he let her
"After that I will hang you to a branch."
She embraced his knees in terror, but he kicked her. She rushed into the
shanty, threw herself at Danusia's feet and began to scream:
"Protect me. Do not permit!"
But Danusia closed her eyes, and uttered her customary suppressed
whisper: "I am afraid, I am afraid, I am afraid."
Then she lapsed into perfect silence, because that was the effect
whenever the woman approached her. She permitted the woman to undress,
wash and dress her in the new clothes. The woman prepared the bedding and
laid upon it Danusia, who had the appearance of a wooden or wax figure;
after which she sat down near the fireplace fearing to go out.
But the Bohemian entered after awhile. First he turned toward Danusia and
"You are among friends, lady, so in the name of the Father, Son and Holy
Ghost, sleep peacefully!"
Then he made the sign of the cross. Then not wishing to disturb her he
said to the servant in a low voice:
"You shall lie bound at the threshold; you must keep quiet and do not
frighten her; if not, I will break your neck. Get up, and come."
He led her out and bound her tightly, then he went to Zbyszko.
"I have ordered that lizard to dress the lady in her own garments, to
make her a soft bed, and the lady is asleep; better leave her alone
because she is scared. God grant that by to-morrow, after repose, she may
regain her presence of mind. You too must think of refreshment and rest."
"I shall sleep at her threshold," replied Zbyszko.
"Then I shall withdraw the slut from the threshold and place her near
that corpse with curled locks. But you must take refreshment now, because
there is a long road and no little fatigue before you."
Then he went and got some smoked meat and dried turnips which they had
procured in the Lithuanian camp; but he had scarcely put the meal in
front of Zbyszko when Macko called him to come to Arnold.
"Notice carefully, what this mass wishes, although I know a few German
words, I am unable to understand him."
"Bring him to the fire, sir, and have your conversation there," replied
Then he unbelted himself and placed the belt under Arnold's arms and
lifted him upon his shoulders; he bent much under the heavy weight of the
giant, but as the Bohemian was a powerful man, he carried him near the
fireplace and threw him down, as one throws a sack of peas, at the side
"Take off the fetters from me," said Arnold.
"That might be done if you swore on knightly honor, that you would
consider yourself a prisoner. Nevertheless, I will order the sword to be
taken from under your knees, the bonds of your hands to be loosened, so
as to enable you to sit with us, but the rope binding your feet shall
remain until we have discussed the affair." And he nodded to the
Bohemian, who cut the bonds away from Arnold's hands and assisted him to
sit down. Arnold looked haughtily at Macko and Zbyszko and asked:
"Who are you?"
"How do you dare to ask? It is not your business. Go and inform
"It concerns me, because to swear upon the honor of a knight can only be
done to knights."
And Macko opened his cloak and showed his knightly belt upon his loins.
Seeing that, the Knight of the Cross was greatly amazed, and after awhile
"How is it? and you prowl in the wilderness for prey and assist the
pagans against the Christians?"
"You lie!" exclaimed Macko.
Then the conversation began in an unfriendly and arrogant manner, which
seemed like quarreling. But when Macko vehemently shouted that the very
Order prevented Lithuania from embracing Christianity, and when all
proofs were adduced, Arnold was again amazed and became silent, because
the truth was so obvious that it was impossible not to see it, or to
dispute it. What specially struck him was Macko's words which he uttered
whilst making the sign of the cross: "Who knows whom ye actually serve,
if not all at least some among you." It specially struck him because
there were certain _comthurs_ in the very Order who were suspected of
having given themselves over to Satan. Steps were not taken against them
for fear of public reproach of the whole Order. But Arnold knew it well
because these things were whispered among the brethren of the Order and
happenings of such a character reached his ears. Therefore, Macko's
narrative which he had heard from Sanderus, concerning the inconceivable
conduct of Zygfried, greatly disturbed the mind of the candid giant.
"Oh, that very Zygfried, with whom you marched to war," he said. "Does he
serve Christ? Have you never heard how he communicates with evil spirits,
how he whispers to them, smiles and gnashes his teeth at them?"
"It is true!" murmured Arnold.
But Zbyszko, whose heart was filled with new waves of grief and anger,
"And you, who speak of knightly honor? Shame upon you, because you help a
hangman, a devilish man. Shame upon you, because you quietly looked upon
the torture of a defenceless woman, and a knight's daughter. Maybe you
also outraged her. Shame upon you!"
Arnold closed his eyes, and making the sign of the cross, said:
"In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.... How is
that?... That fettered girl in whose head dwell twenty-seven devils?
"Oh, horrible! horrible!" interrupted Zbyszko, groaning.
And, grasping the handle of his _misericordia_ he again looked savagely
toward the dark corner where Zygfried lay on his back.
Macko placed his hand quietly upon Zbyszko's arm, which he pressed with
his whole strength, so as to bring him back to his senses; whilst he
himself, turning toward Arnold, said:
"That woman is the daughter of Jurand of Spychow, and wife of this young
knight. Do you understand now, why we followed you up, and why we have
"For God's sake!" said Arnold. "Whence? How? she is insane...."
"Because the Knights of the Cross kidnapped that innocent lamb and
subjected her to torture."
When Zbyszko heard these words: "Innocent lamb," he put his fist to his
mouth, gnashed his teeth, and was not able to restrain his tears.
Arnold sat absorbed in thought; but the Bohemian told him in a few words
of Danveld's treachery, the kidnapping of Danusia, the torture of Jurand,
and the duel with Rotgier. Silence reigned when he concluded. It was only
disturbed by the rustling of the trees of the forest and the crackling of
the brands in the fireplace.
In that manner they sat for a while. Finally Arnold lifted up his head
"I swear to you not only upon my knightly honor, but also upon the
crucifix, that I have not seen that woman, that I did not know who she
was, and that I have not taken the least part in her tortures and never
laid my hand upon her."
"Then swear also that you will go with us willingly and that you will
make no attempt to escape, then I will order your bonds to be entirely
unloosed," said Macko.
"Let it be as you say. I swear! Whither are you going to take me?"
"To Mazovia, to Jurand of Spychow."
Then Macko himself cut the rope from Arnold's feet, and ordered meat and
turnips to be brought. After a while Zbyszko went out and sat upon the
threshold of the hut to rest, where he no longer found the servant, for
the hostler boys had carried her off and put her among the horses.
Zbyszko lay down upon the fur which Hlawa brought. He resolved to keep
awake and wait until daybreak; peradventure then some happy change might
take place in Danusia!
But the Bohemian returned to the fireplace where he wished to converse
with the old knight of Bogdaniec about a certain affair and take off the
burden which pressed so heavily upon his heart. He found him also
absorbed in troubled thought, and not noticing the snoring of Arnold who,
after having consumed an immense quantity of baked turnips and meat, was
much fatigued and slept the sleep of a stone. "And why do you not take a
rest?" inquired the Bohemian.
"Sleep has fled from my eyelids," replied Macko. "May God grant a good
Then he looked at the stars and said:
"The Wagoner is already visible in the sky, and I am continually thinking
about how all these things shall be arranged. And I shall not go to sleep
either because the young lady of Zgorzelice occupies my mind."
"Ah! that is true. More trouble. But she, at least, is at Spychow."
"But we brought her to Spychow from Zgorzelice, not knowing why."
"It was at her own request," replied Macko, impatiently, because he knew
in his heart that he was wrong and he hated to talk about it.
"Yes! But what now?"
"Ha! Well? I shall carry her back to her home; then let God's will be
But after a moment he added:
"Yes! God's will be done, that at least Danuska be restored to health,
one might then know what to do. But as it is now, the deuce knows! What
will it be if she neither recovers nor dies? The Devil knows."
But the Bohemian was thinking all the time of Jagienka.
"Your honor should understand that when I left Spychow and bade her
good-bye, she told me this: 'If anything should happen, come and inform
me before Zbyszko and Macko arrive. And as they will be obliged to send
information by somebody, let them send it by you, then you will take me
"Hey!" replied Macko. "Surely, it would be improper for her to stay at
Spychow when Danusia arrives. Surely she ought now to be taken back to
Zgorzelice. I pity the little orphan, I sincerely regret it. But God's
will must be done. But now how shall I arrange the matter? Let me see.
Did you say that she commanded you to come ahead of us with the news, and
then take her to Zgorzelice?"
"She did. I repeated to you her words exactly."
"Now, you may move ahead of us. Old Jurand must also be informed that his
daughter has been found, but it must be done carefully so that the sudden
joy may not kill him. As I love God, I declare that it is the most
practical thing to do."
"Return! Tell them that we have rescued Danusia, and that we shall bring
her home without delay. Then take that other poor girl to Zgorzelice!"
Then the old knight sighed, because he was really sorry for Jagienka,
whom he had fostered.
After a while he asked again:
"I know that you are a valiant and powerful man, but see that you keep
her out of harm's way or accident. Things of that character are often met
with on the road."
"I shall do my best, even if I lose my head! I shall take with me a few
good men, whom the lord of Spychow will not grudge, and I shall bring her
safely even to the end of the world."
"Well, do not have too much confidence in yourself. Bear also in mind
that even there, at Zgorzelice, it will be necessary to watch Wilk of
Brzozowa and Cztan of Rogow. But, I confess, in speaking of Wilk and
Cztan, I am out of order; for, it was necessary to watch them when there
was nothing else to think of. But now, things have changed and there is
no more hope, and that which is going to happen must happen."
"Nevertheless, I shall protect the young lady from those knights, seeing
Danusia is very weak and consumptive. What if she should die?"
"As God is dear to me you are right. The emaciated lady is scarcely
alive. If she should die?"
"We must leave that with God. But we must now think only of the young
lady of Zgorzelice."
"By rights, I ought to convey her myself to her fatherland. But it is a
difficult task. I cannot now leave Zbyszko for many potent reasons. You
saw how he gnashed his teeth, how he strove to get at the old _comthur_
to kill him, and my wrangling with him. Should that girl die on the road,
even I should be unable to restrain him. And if I shall not be able to
prevent him, nobody else could, and everlasting shame would fall upon him
and upon our clan, which God forbid. Amen!"
Then the Bohemian replied:
"Bah! There is, I am sure, a simple means. Give me the hangman and I will
keep him and bring him to Jurand at Spychow and shake him out of the
"How clever you are! May God grant you health," exclaimed Macko,
joyfully. "It is a very simple thing, quite simple. Should you succeed in
bringing him to Spychow alive then do with him as you please."
"Then let me also have that Szczytno bitch, and if she is not troublesome
on the road, I will bring her too to Spychow, if she is, then I shall
hang her on a tree."
"The removal of the pair, whose presence causes much fear to Danusia, may
contribute to her speedy recovery. But if you take the female servant
with you, who is going to nurse Danusia?"
"You may find some old woman in the wilderness, or one of the fugitive
peasant women; take hold of the first one you meet, for any one will be
better than this. Meanwhile, you must take care of lady Zbyszko."
"You speak to-day somewhat more prudently than usually. Seeing that
Zbyszko is constantly with her, he will also succeed in filling the
double position, that of father and mother, for her. Very well, then.
When do you intend to start?"
"I shall not wait for the dawn; now I must lie down for a while, it is
scarcely midnight yet."
"The Wagoner is already in the sky, but the chickens had not
yet made their appearance."
"Thank God that we have taken some counsel together, for I was very much
Then the Bohemian stretched himself near the expiring fire, covered
himself over with the long furred robe and in a moment he fell asleep.
However, the sky had not yet paled and it was still deep, dark night when
he awoke, crept from under the skin, looked at the stars, and stretching
his somewhat benumbed limbs, he awoke Macko.
"It is time for me to move," he said.
"Whither?" asked the semi-conscious Macko, rubbing his eyes with his
"True, I quite forgot. Who is there snoring so loud as to awake the
"The knight Arnold. Let me throw a few branches upon the embers, then I
will go to the men."
Then he left, and hastily returned in a little while, and from a distance
he called in a low voice:
"Sir, there is news, bad news!"
"What has happened?" Macko exclaimed, jumping to his feet.
"The servant has escaped. The men took her among the horses. May thunder
strike them, and when they fell asleep, she sneaked like a serpent from
among them and escaped. Come, sir!"
Macko, in alarm, moved quickly with the Bohemian toward the horses, where
they found only one man, the others had scattered in pursuit of the
fugitive. But, considering the darkness of the night and the thickets of
the forest, the search was a foolish undertaking, and after a while they
returned with hanging heads. Macko began to belabor them quietly with his
fists. Then he returned to the fireplace, for there was nothing to be
Zbyszko, who was watching in the hut and did not sleep, came in, hearing
the movements, to ascertain the reason. Macko told him all about his
consultation with the Bohemian, then he also informed him of the woman's
"It is not a great misfortune," he said. "Because she will either die of
starvation, or fall into the hands of the peasants who will flay her;
that is, if she succeeds first in escaping the wolves. It is only to be
regretted that she escaped the punishment at Spychow."
Zbyszko also regretted her escaping punishment at Spychow; otherwise he
received the news quietly. He did not oppose the departure of the
Bohemian with Zygfried, because he was indifferent to anything which did
not directly concern Danusia. He began to talk about her at once.
"I shall take her in front of me on horseback to-morrow, then we shall
"How is it there? Is she asleep?" inquired Macko.
"At times she moans, but I do not know whether she does it in sleep or
whilst she is awake, but I don't want to disturb her, lest I frighten
Further conversation was interrupted by the Bohemian, who observing
"O! your honor, also here! It is now time for me to start. The horses are
ready and the old devil is fastened to the saddle. It will soon begin to
dawn because now the nights are short. Good-bye, your grace!"
"God be with you, and health!"
But Hlawa pulled Macko aside again and said:
"I wish also to ask you kindly, that in case anything should happen....
You know, sir ... some misfortune or another ... you would dispatch a
courier posthaste to Spychow. If we have left Spychow, let him overtake
"Well," said Macko, "I have also forgotten to tell you to take Jagienka
to Plock. Do you understand? Go there to the bishop, and tell him who she
is, that she is the goddaughter of the abbot, for whom there is a will in
the bishop's possession; then ask his guardianship for her, as that is
also mentioned in the abbot's will."
"But if the bishop orders us to remain in Plock?"
"Then obey him in everything and follow his counsel."
"It shall be so, sir! Good-bye!"
Sir Arnold was informed in the morning of the flight of the servant of
the Order; he chuckled at the news, on the other hand he held the same
opinion as Macko, viz, that she might fall a prey to the wolves, or be
slain by the Lithuanians. The latter was not at all improbable, since the
inhabitants of that locality who were descendants of the Lithuanians
abhorred the Order and all those who came in contact with it. Some of the
male population had joined Skirwoillo, others had risen in arms and
slaughtered the Germans here and there; they, their families and their
cattle hid themselves in the inaccessible fastnesses of the forest. They
searched the following day for the servant, but without success, because
Macko and Zbyszko were occupied with more important matters; hence the
lack of indispensable ardor in the searchers.
They were obliged to push on toward Mazowsze; they wished to start at
once, at the rising of the sun, but they were unable to do so because
Danuska was in a profound sleep, and Zbyszko would not permit her to be
He listened to her moanings during the night-time and thought that she
was not asleep. He, therefore, promised himself good results. Twice he
stealthily went into the hut; twice he saw by the light falling through
crevices of the logs her closed eyes, open mouth and glowing face, as
little children are wont to have when asleep. His tears melted his heart
at that sight, and he said to her:
"May God grant you health my most beloved little flower." Then he
continued: "Your troubles are ended, your tears are ended. May the most
merciful Lord Jesus grant that your happiness may be as inexhaustible as
the flowing river."
Then, lifting up his simple and upright heart heavenward, he asked
himself: "With what can I thank Thee? What shall I render to Thee for Thy
favors? Shall I offer to the Church some of my wealth, grain, herds, wax,
or something of the same nature acceptable to God?" He was even about to
vow and name accurately his offerings, but he wished to wait and see the
result when Danusia awoke, whether she had recovered her senses so that
there might be reason for thanksgiving.
Although Macko knew well that there would be perfect safety when once in
the domains of Prince Janusz, nevertheless he was also of the opinion
that it was better not to disturb Danusia's rest. He therefore kept his
horses and servants in readiness but waited.
Nevertheless when it was past noon and Danusia continued to sleep, they
were somewhat alarmed. Zbyszko, who was incessantly watching, looking
through the crevices and door, entered suddenly for the third time into
the hut and sat down upon the block where the servant had dressed Danusia
He sat and gazed at her, but she had her eyes closed. But after the lapse
of a short time, not more than it takes to say one "Pater" and "Ave
Maria," her lips began to twitch a little, and she whispered as though
she saw through her closed eyelids:
In an instant be threw himself upon his knees in front of her, grasped
her emaciated hands, which he kissed in ecstasy. Then he addressed her in
a broken voice:
"Thank God! Danuska! You recognize me."
His voice awoke her completely. Then she sat up in the bed and with open
eyes she repeated:
Then she began to blink and look around her in amazement.
"You are no more in captivity," said Zbyszko. "I have rescued you from
their hands and I am taking you to Spychow."
But she withdrew her hands from Zbyszko's and said:
"All this came to pass because there was no permission from dear papa.
Where is the princess?"
"Awake, then, dear little berry! The princess is far away and we have
rescued you from the Germans."
Then she appeared not to notice his words but seemed to try to recollect
"They have also taken away my little lute and have broken it against the
"O God!" exclaimed Zbyszko.
He then observed that she was absent-minded and her eyes were glassy and
her cheeks were glowing, and it struck him that she must be very ill, and
the mention of his name twice was due to feverish hallucinations.
This caused his heart to tremble within him with despair and a cold sweat
covered his brow.
"Danuska!" he said. "Do you see and understand me?"
But she replied in a low voice:
And he rushed out, and at the door encountered Macko, who was coming to
ascertain her condition. Zbyszko could only tell him hurriedly, "Water;"
and then hastened to the stream which ran among neighboring bushes.
He returned after a moment with a full pitcher of water and handed it to
Danusia who drank it with much avidity. Macko entered the hut before
Zbyszko and seeing the patient he became gloomy.
"She is feverish?" he said.
"Yes!" groaned Zbyszko.
"Does she understand what you say?"
The old knight furrowed his brow, then he began to rub his neck and nape
with his hands.
"What is to be done?"
"I do not know."
"There is only one thing to be done," said Macko.
But Danusia, who finished drinking, interrupted him at that moment; she
fixed her dilated pupils on him, and said:
"You too I have not offended, have mercy upon me!"
"We have pitied you already, child. We only desire your welfare," replied
the old knight, somewhat agitated.
Then he turned to Zbyszko:
"Listen, there is no use to leave her here. The wafting of the wind and
the rays of the sun will probably benefit her. Do not lose your head,
boy, but take her to the same cradle wherein she was when they brought
her here--or upon the saddle and let us move on! Do you understand?"
Then he left the hut to give the last orders, but he had scarcely looked
in front of him, when he suddenly stood still--as if nailed to the spot.
A numerous host of infantry armed with pikes and spears was surrounding
the huts, ovens and clearing, on all sides like a wall.
"Germans!" thought Macko.
He was greatly terrified, but in a moment he grasped the hilt of his
sword, clenched his teeth, and had the appearance of a wild beast at bay,
ready to defend himself desperately.
Then the giant-like Arnold, and another knight, advanced toward them from
the shanty, and when he approached Macko, Arnold said:
"Fortune's wheel turns rapidly. I was your prisoner yesterday; you are
Then he looked haughtily at the old knight as one looks upon an inferior
person. He was neither a very bad man, nor a very cruel one, but he had
the defect common to all Knights of the Cross, who in spite of their
being well-bred and even humane, looked with contempt upon those whom
they conquered, neither could they suppress their great pride when they
felt themselves the stronger.
"You are prisoners," he repeated, haughtily.
The old knight looked around gloomily; he was very serious but audacious
in his heart.
Were he armored, upon his charger, and with Zbyszko at his side;--if both
had swords in their hands and were armed with axes, or the terrible
"woods," which the Polish noblemen knew how to wield dexterously, he
would then have probably attempted to break through, that wall of lances
and spears. Not without reason did the foreign knights, quoting it as an
objection, exclaim to the Polish in the fight near Wilno: "You scorn
death too much."
But Macko was on foot facing Arnold, alone, without his coat of mail. He
therefore looked around and observed that his men had already thrown down
their arms, and he thought that Zbyszko too was with Danusia in the hut,
entirely unarmed. As an experienced man, and much accustomed to war, he
knew that there was no chance whatever.
Therefore he slowly drew the short sword from its sheath and threw it at
the feet of the knight who stood at Arnold's side, who without the least
of Arnold's haughtiness, but at the same time with benevolence, replied
in excellent Polish:
"Your name, sir? I shall not put you in bonds but shall parole you,
because I see you are a belted knight, and you treated my brother well."
"My word!" replied Macko.
Having informed him who he was, Macko inquired whether he would be
permitted to go to the hut and warn his nephew against any mad action.
His request was granted. He entered and remained there for a while and
emerged with the _misericordia_ in his hands.
"My nephew is even without a sword, and he begs you to permit him to
remain with his wife as long as you intend to stay here."
"Let him remain," said Arnold's brother. "I shall send him food and
drink; we shall not move soon, because the people are tired out and we
too are in need of refreshment and rest. Sir, we also invite you to
Then they turned and went to the same fireplace near which Macko had
spent the night. But either from pride, or from ignorance they permitted
him to walk behind them. But he, being a great warrior, knowing how it
ought to be, and adhering strictly to custom, inquired:
"Pray, sir, am I your guest or a prisoner?"
Arnold's brother was shamed at first; he halted and said:
The old knight went in front, not wishing to hurt the self-respect of the
very man from whom he expected much.
"It is evident, sir, that you are not only acquainted with courteous
speech, but your behavior is also courtly."
Then, Arnold, who only understood a few words, asked:
"Wolfgang, what are you talking about?"
"I am doing the right thing," said Wolfgang, who was evidently flattered
by Macko's words.
They sat down at the fireside, and began to eat and drink. The lesson
which Macko had given to the German was not in vain. Wolfgang regaled
Macko first at the repast.
The old knight learned, from the conversation which followed, how they
were caught in the trap. Wolfgang, the younger brother of Arnold, led
also the Czluch infantry to Gotteswerder, against the rebellious
Zmudzians. Those, however, proceeding from distant counties could not
arrive in time to assist Arnold. The latter did not think it necessary to
wait for them because be expected to meet on the road other bodies of
infantry proceeding from the towns and castles situated on the adjacent
Lithuanian frontier. This was the reason that his younger brother delayed
his march several days, and thus it happened that he found himself on the
road in the neighborhood of the tar-burners, where the fugitive
woman-servant of the Order informed him of the ill-luck which had
happened to his older brother. Arnold, whilst listening to the narrative
which was told him in German, smiled with satisfaction; finally he
affirmed that he expected such a result.
But the crafty Macko, who, in whatever situation he was, always tried to
find some remedy, thought that it would be of advantage to him to make
friends with the Germans, therefore he said after a while:
"It is always hard to fall into captivity. Nevertheless, thank God, I am
fortunate to have been delivered into nobody else's hands but yours,
because, I believe, that you are real knights and mindful of its honor."
Then Wolfgang closed his eyes and nodded his head somewhat stiffly but
evidently with a feeling of satisfaction.
The old knight continued:
"That you speak our language well. God has given you understanding in
"I know your language, because the Czluchs speak Polish, and my brother
and I served for seven years in those counties."
"You will in time take office after him. It cannot be otherwise, because
your brother does not speak our language."
"He understands it a little, but cannot speak it. My brother is more
powerful, although I am not a weakling either, but of duller wit."
"Hey! He does not seem to me dull."
"Wolfgang, what does he say?" asked Arnold again.
"He praises you," replied Wolfgang.
"True, I praised him," added Macko, "because he is a true knight, and
that is the reason. I tell you frankly that I intended to let him go
entirely free to-day on parole, so that he might go wherever he wished
to, even if he were to present himself in a year's time. Such treatment
is customary among belted knights."
Then he looked attentively into Wolfgang's face, but it was wrinkled, and
"Were it not for the assistance you have given to the pagan dogs against
us, I also might have let you go on parole."
"This is not true," replied Macko.
Then the same asperity of discussion as in yesterday's dispute between
Arnold and himself was repeated. However, although right was on the old
knight's side, it went on with more difficulty, because Wolfgang was of a
more severe disposition than his older brother. Nevertheless, one good
thing resulted from the dispute, that Wolfgang learned of all the
abominable practices of the Order at Szczytno, their crooked actions and
treachery--at the same time he learned of Danusia's misfortunes and
tortures. To those very iniquities which Macko had thrown in his teeth he
had no reply. He was obliged to acknowledge that the revenge was
justifiable, and that the Polish knights were right in their acts, and
"Upon the glorified bones of St. Liborus! I swear, that I also will not
pity Danveld. They said of him that he practiced black magic, but God's
power and justice is mightier than black magic. As to Zygfried, I am not
sure whether he also served the devil or not. But I shall not hunt for
him, because first, I have no horses, and on the other hand, if what you
said is true that he outraged that girl, then let him also never return
Here he stretched himself and continued:
"God! Help me till the hour of my death."
"But how will it be with that unfortunate martyr?" inquired Macko. "Are
you not going to permit us to take her home? Has she to suffer agony in
your underground prisons? Remember, I beseech you, God's wrath!..."
"I have nothing against the woman," replied Wolfgang, roughly. "Let one
of you take her home to her father, on condition that he present himself
afterward, but the other must remain here."
"Bah! But what if he swears upon his knightly honor and upon the lance of
Wolfgang hesitated a little because it was a great oath; but at that
moment Arnold asked a third time:
"What does he say?"
When he informed himself of the matter he opposed it vehemently and
rudely. He had his private reasons for it. First, he was conquered by
Skirwoillo, then in single combat, by the Polish knight. He also knew
that owing to the destruction of the army at the previous engagement it
would be impossible for his brother to advance with his infantry to
Gotteswerder and he would be obliged to return to Malborg. Moreover he
knew that be would be obliged to give an account to the Master and
marshal for the defeat, and that it would be to his advantage if he were
able to show even one important prisoner. To produce one knight alive is
of more value than to explain that two such were captured....
When Macko heard the loud protestations and oaths of Arnold, he resolved,
since nothing else could be obtained, to take what was previously
offered. Turning to Wolfgang he said:
"Then, I beg one more favor--permit me to acquaint my nephew; I am sure
he will see the wisdom of remaining with his wife, while I go with you.
At all events, permit me to let him know that he has nothing to say
against it, for it is your will."
"Well, it is all the same to me," replied Wolfgang. "But let us talk
about the ransom which your nephew must bring for himself and you.
Because all depends on that."
"About ransom?" inquired Macko, who would have preferred to postpone that
conversation to a later period. "Have we not time enough to talk about
it? Where a belted knight is concerned his word is of equal value with
ready money, and as to the sum it can be left to conscience. There, near
Gotteswerder, we captured one of your important knights, a certain de
Lorche. And my nephew (it was he who captured him) paroled him. No
allusion whatever was made to the amount of ransom."
"Have you captured de Lorche?" inquired Wolfgang, sharply. "I know him.
He is a powerful knight. But why did we not meet him on the road?"
"He, evidently, did not go this way, but went to Gotteswerder, or to
Ragniec," replied Macko.
"That knight comes from a powerful and renowned family," repeated
Wolfgang. "You have made a splendid capture! It is well then, that you
mentioned it. But I cannot let you go for nothing."
Macko chewed his mustache; nevertheless he lifted up his head haughtily,
"Apart from that, we know our value."
"So much the better," said the younger von Baden, and immediately added:
"So much the better. It is not for us, for we are humble monks, who have
vowed poverty, but for the Order that will enjoy your money, to God's
Macko did not reply to that but only looked at Wolfgang, with such an
expression as to say: "Tell that to somebody else." After awhile they
began to bargain. It was a difficult and irritable task for the old
knight. On the one hand he was very sensitive to any loss, and on the
other hand, he understood that he would not succeed in naming a too small
sum for Zbyszko and himself. He therefore wriggled like an eel,
especially when Wolfgang, in spite of his polished words and manners, had
shown himself excessively grasping and as hard hearted as a stone. Only
one thought comforted Macko and that was, that de Lorche would have pay
for all, but even that, the loss of de Lorche's ransom, worried him.
Zygfried's ransom he did not count in the affair because he thought that
Jurand, and even Zbyszko, would not renounce his head for any price.
After long haggling they finally compromised upon the sum in _grzywiens_
and the time of payment, and stipulated upon the number of horses and men
Zbyszko should take with him. Macko went to inform Zbyszko, and advised
him not to tarry but depart at once, for something else might meanwhile
come into the German's head.
"So it is with knightly conditions," said Macko, sighing. "Yesterday you
held them by the head, to-day they hold you. Well, it is a hard lot. God
grant that our turn may come. But now, it is necessary not to lose time.
If you hasten on, you may yet overtake Hlawa and you will be safer
together, and once out of the wilderness and in the inhabited region of
Mazowsze you will find hospitality and assistance in every nobleman's or
_wlodyka's_ house. In our country they do not refuse those things even to
a foreigner, how much more to one of their own people! The condition of
the poor woman might also be improved thereby."
Then he looked at Danusia, who was in feverish half-sleep, breathing
quickly and loudly, with her transparent hands stretched upon the black
bearskin, trembling with fever.
Macko made the sign of the cross at her and said:
"Hey, take her and go! May God restore her, for it appears to me that her
thread of life is being spun very thin."
"Do not say that!" exclaimed Zbyszko, in a distressed tone.
"God's power! I will order your horses to be brought here--and you must
leave at once!"
He went out and arranged everything for the journey. The Turks, whom
Zawisza had presented to them, led the horses and the litter, filled with
mosses and fur, and they were headed by Zbyszko's man, Wit. Zbyszko left
the hut in a moment, carrying Danusia in his arms. There was something
touching in that, so that even the brothers von Baden, whose curiosity
had drawn them to the hut, looked curiously into the childlike face of
Danuska. Her face was like that of the holy images in the churches of Our
Lady, and her sickness was so great that she could not hold up her head
which lay heavily on the young knight's arm. They looked at each other
with astonishment, and in their hearts arose a feeling against the
authors of her woes.
"Zygfried has the heart of a hangman, and not that of a knight,"
whispered Wolfgang to Arnold, "and that serpent, although she is the
cause of your liberty, I will order to be beaten with rods."
They were also touched when they saw Zbyszko carrying her in his arms, as
a mother is wont to carry her child. They comprehended how great was his
love for her, for youthful blood coursed in the veins of them both.
He hesitated for awhile whether to keep the patient on horseback near his
breast on the road or to lay her in the litter. Finally he resolved upon
the latter course, thinking that she might feel more comfortable in a
recumbent posture. Then he approached his uncle and bowed to kiss his
hand and bid him good-bye. But Macko, who, as a matter of fact, loved
Zbyszko as the apple of his eye, was somewhat disinclined to show his
agitation in the presence of the Germans; nevertheless he could not
restrain himself, and embracing him strongly, pressed his lips to his
abundant golden hair.
"May God guide you," he said. "But remember the old man, for it is always
a hardship to be in captivity."
"I shall not forget," replied Zbyszko. "May the most Holy Mother comfort
"God will recompense you for this and for all your kindness."
Zbyszko mounted his horse immediately, but Macko recollected something
and hastened to his side, and placing his hand upon Zbyszko's knee, he
"Listen, if you should overtake Hlawa, remember not to molest Zygfried,
otherwise you will bring down reproach upon yourself and upon my gray
head. Leave him to Jurand, but do nothing to him yourself. Swear to me
upon your sword and honor."
"As long as you do not return," replied Zbyszko, "I shall even prevent
Jurand from harming him in order to prevent the Germans from injuring you
on Zygfried's account."
"So, and you seem to care for me?"
And the young knight smiled sadly. "You well know that, I am sure."
"Move on and good-bye."
The horses moved on, and in a little while disappeared in the hazelnut
thickets. Macko felt suddenly very much troubled and lonely and his heart
was torn for that beloved boy in whom rested the entire hope of the
family. But he soon got rid of his sorrow, for he was a man of valor and
could master his emotions.
"Thank God that I am a prisoner and not he."
Then he turned toward the Germans and said:
"And you, gentlemen, when will you start and whither are you going?"
"When it is agreeable to us," replied Wolfgang, "but we go to Malborg,
where, sir, you must first appear before the Master."
"Hey! I shall yet have to forfeit my head there, for the help I have
given to the Zmudzians," said Macko to himself.
Nevertheless his mind was at rest when he thought that de Lorche was in
reserve; the Baden knights themselves would protect his head even if it
were only for the ransom.
"Otherwise," he said to himself, "Zbyszko will neither be obliged to
present himself nor lessen his fortune."
That thought caused him a certain relief.
Zbyszko was unable to overtake Hlawa, because the latter traveled day and
night, and only rested as much as was absolutely necessary to avoid the
breaking down of the horses, which only subsisted on grass, and were
consequently faint and unable to withstand such long marches as they
could in regions where oats could be easily procured. Hlawa neither
spared himself, nor took into consideration the advanced age and weakness
of Zygfried. The old knight suffered terribly, especially because the
sinewy Macko had previously wrenched his bones. But still worse were the
mosquitoes which swarmed in the humid wilderness, and as his hands were
bound and his legs fastened beneath the horse's belly, he was unable to
drive them away. Hlawa did not directly torture him in the least, but he
had no compassion for him, and only unfastened his right hand to enable
him to eat when he stopped for refreshment.
"Eat, ravening wolf, so that I may bring you alive to the lord of
Spychow." Such were the words of inducement to stimulate Zygfried's
appetite. At first Zygfried resolved to starve himself to death; but when
be heard the announcement that in such case Hlawa would forcibly open his
teeth with a knife and stuff the food down his throat, he gave up his
intention in order to avoid such a degradation of the Order and knightly
But the Bohemian was particularly anxious to arrive at Spychow before his
master, so that he might spare his adored young lady from shame. Simple,
but courageous and fearless, he was not void of knightly noble sentiment,
and he well understood that Jagienka would be humiliated if she were at
Spychow together with Danusia. "It will be possible to tell the bishop,
in Plock (he thought) that the old knight of Bogdaniec, owing to his
guardianship, thought it necessary to take her with him, and then, as
soon as it was known that she was the bishop's ward, and besides
Zgorzelice she was also entitled to the abbot's estate, then even the
_wojewoda's_ son would not be too great for her." That thought
contributed to soothe his troubled mind. The very reason of his conveying
good news to Spychow troubled his mind, as it would be the source of
misfortune to Jagienka.
The beautiful face of Sieciechowna, as red as an apple, often appeared
before his eyes. On such occasions, he would, if the road permitted,
tickle the horse's sides with his spurs, because he wanted to reach
Spychow as soon as possible.
They traveled along intricate roads, or rather no roads at all, through
the woods, going straight ahead as the reaper does. The Bohemian knew
that by pushing on a little toward the west and constantly in a southerly
direction, he would reach Mazowsze and then all would go well. During the
daytime he followed the sun, and at night he marched by the stars. The
wilderness in front of him appeared endless. Days and nights passed by.
More than once he thought that Zbyszko would not succeed in bringing the
woman through the terrible wilderness alive, where there was no food to
be procured, and where the horses must be guarded by night from wolves
and bears. During the daytime they had to get out of the way of herds of
bison and aurochs; where the terrible wild-boar sharpens his crooked
tusks against the roots of the pine-trees, and very often it happened
that those who made no use of the crossbow, or did not strike with the
pike into the sides of a deer or young boar, such passed whole days
"How will it be here," thought Hlawa, "with a maiden who is already
almost tortured to death!"
Now and then, it happened that they had to cross swamps and deep ravines,
which continuous spring rains filled for days with rushing streams.
Lakes, too, were not wanting in the wilderness, in which they saw at
sunset whole flocks of deer and elk disporting in the red transparent
Often they also perceived smoke which showed the presence of people. On
several occasions Hlawa approached such forest settlements, whence wild
people would issue, clothed with skins upon their naked bodies, armed
with clubs and bows, and looking from under their shaggy-tangled hair;
the men took them to be werewolves. It was necessary to take advantage of
their first astonishment whilst they were looking at the knights, and
leave them in the greatest haste.
Arrows whistled twice near the Bohemian's ears, and he heard the shouts
of "Wokili" (Germans!) But he preferred to run away rather than to make
himself known. Finally, after a few days he began to think that perhaps
he had already crossed the frontier, but there was nobody from whom he
could ascertain. Only when he met some colonists who spoke the Polish
language did he get the information, that he finally stood upon
There it was better, although the whole eastern part of Mazowsze was also
one wilderness. But it did not terminate uninhabitated as the other did.
When the Bohemian arrived at a colony they were less shy--perhaps because
they were not so much brought up in constant hatred, or that the Bohemian
could converse with them in Polish. The only trouble with them was the
boundless curiosity of the people who surrounded the travelers, and
overwhelmed them with questions. When they were informed that he carried
a prisoner, a Knight of the Cross, they said:
"Give him to us, sir, we will take care of him!"
They importuned the Bohemian so much, that he often became very angry
with them, but at the same time, he explained, that he could not grant
their request because the prisoner belonged to the prince. Then only they
relented. Later on when he arrived in the inhabited places among the
nobles and land-owners, he did not get off so easily. The hatred against
the Order was raging, because everywhere they still remembered vividly
the wrongs which the prince had suffered at its hands when, in time of
peace, the Knights of the Cross had kidnapped the prince near Zlotorja
and imprisoned him. They did not wish to dispatch Zygfried at once. But
here and there, one of the doughty Polish nobles would say: "Unbind him
and we will give him arms, and then challenge him to deadly combat." To
such the Bohemian would give a potent reason: that the right to vengeance
belonged to the unfortunate lord of Spychow, and one must not deprive him
of that privilege.
The journey through the inhabited region was easy; because there were
good roads and there was plenty of provender for the horses. The Bohemian
continued his uninterrupted march until after ten days' travel he arrived
before Corpus Christi day at Spychow.
He arrived in the evening, at the same time as when he had brought the
news from Macko, that he had left Szczytno for the Zmudz country. It also
happened now as before, that Jagienka, observing him through the window,
rushed toward him, and he fell at her feet. He was speechless for a
while. But she soon lifted him up and took him aside, as she did not wish
to interrogate him in the presence of others.
"What news?" she asked, trembling with impatience, and scarcely able to
catch her breath. "Is she alive? Well?"
"Has she been found?"
"She has. They rescued her."
"Praised be Jesus Christ!"
But whilst she spoke these words her face assumed a deathly pallor,
because all her hopes crumbled into dust.
However, her strength did not forsake her, neither did she lose
consciousness. After a moment she mastered herself entirely and enquired
"When will she be here?"
"Within a few days! She is sick and the road is very bad."
"Is she sick?"
"Martyred. Her reason is confused with her tortures."
Silence reigned for a moment. Jagienka's lips became pale and they moved
as though in prayer.
"Did she recognize Zbyszko?" she asked again.
"She may have done so, but I am not sure, because I left at once, in
order to inform you, lady, of the news. That is the reason why I am
"God reward you. Tell me how it happened!"
The Bohemian related briefly how they rescued Danusia, how they captured
the giant Arnold together with Zygfried. He also informed them that he
had brought Zygfried with him, because the young knight wished to present
him to Jurand so that the latter might avenge himself.
"I must now go to Jurand," said Jagienka, when he had finished.
Then she left, but Hlawa had not been long alone when Sieciechowna rushed
toward him from the next apartment; but either because not entirely
conscious, owing to the fatigue and exceeding great troubles he had
passed through, or owing to his yearning for her, he entirely forgot
himself when he saw her; suffice it to say he caught her by the waist,
pressed her to his breast and kissed her eyes, cheeks and mouth in such a
manner as though he had previously informed her of everything that was
necessary for her to know before the kissing began.
Perhaps he had already told her everything in spirit, when upon the road,
therefore he kissed her and kept on kissing endlessly. He embraced her so
strongly that she lost her breath. Yet she did not defend herself, at
first from surprise and then, from faintness, so that were it not for
Hlawa's powerful grasp she would have fallen to the ground.
Fortunately this did not last too long because distant steps were heard
on the stairs, and after a moment, Father Kaleb rushed into the room.
They then quickly separated, and the priest began to overwhelm him with
questions. But Hlawa was unable to catch his breath and replied with
difficulty. The priest thought that his condition was owing to fatigue.
But when the news of the finding of Danusia, her rescue and the presence
of her torturer in Spychow was confirmed by Hlawa, he fell upon his knees
to thank God for it. Meanwhile Hlawa quieted down a little, and when the
priest got up, he was able to repeat his story in a more intelligent and
quiet manner in what way Danusia had been found and how they had rescued
"God did not deliver her," the priest said, whilst listening to his
narrative, "in order that her reason and soul should be restored whilst
she was in the darkness and in the power of the unclean. Let Jurand only
lay his saintly hand upon her, and offer only one of his prayers, and he
will restore her reason and health."
"Knight Jurand?" asked the Bohemian, with astonishment. "Does he possess
so much power? Can he become a saint whilst he is alive?"
"Before God he is considered a saint even whilst he is alive. But when he
dies the people will have one more patron saint in heaven;--a martyr."
"But you said, reverend father,'that if he were only to lay his saintly
hands upon the head of his daughter.' Has his right hand grown again? for
I know you prayed for it."
"I said: 'the hands,' as it is customary to say," replied the priest.
"But one hand is enough, if God will."
"Surely," answered Hlawa.
But in his voice there was something discouraging when he thought that it
appeared like a miracle. Jagienka's entrance interrupted further
"Now I have informed him carefully of the news," she said. "To avoid the
death, which sudden joy might cause, but he fell with the cross in his
hands and prayed."
"I am sure that he will be in such a condition till morning, as he is
accustomed to lie prostrate in prayer whole nights," said Father Kaleb.
And so it happened; they called to see him several times and each time
they found him stretched on the ground, not asleep but in such a fervent
prayer that it bordered on perfect ecstasy. Now the watchman, whose duty
it was to watch according to custom over Spychow from the top of the
tower, said afterward that he observed that night an extraordinary
brightness in the house of the "Old lord."
Very early on the following morning when Jagienka called again to see
him, he showed his desire to see Hlawa and the prisoner. The prisoner was
brought before him immediately from the dungeon. He was tightly bound
with his hands crossed upon his chest. All, including Tolima, advanced
toward the old man.
But owing to a dark, cloudy day and the insufficient light of a
threatening tempest, which penetrated the bladder panes, the Bohemian was
unable to see Jurand well. But as soon as his keen eyes grew accustomed
to the darkness and looked upon him, he scarcely recognized him. The
gigantic man had dwindled to a giant skeleton. His face was so white that
it did not much differ from his snow-white hair, and when he bowed on the
arm of his chair, with his eyelids closed, he appeared to Hlawa like a
In front of the chair stood a table; upon it were a crucifix, a pitcher
of water, and a loaf of black bread in which stuck the _misericordia_,
that terrible knife which the knights made use of in dispatching the
wounded. Besides bread and water, Jurand enjoyed no other nourishment.
His only garment consisted of coarse sackcloth upon his naked body
fastened with a straw girdle. Such was the manner of living of that once
powerful and terrible knight of Spychow, since his return from his
captivity in Szczytno.
Now, when he heard them arrive, he kicked aside the tame she-wolf which
gnawed at his bare feet, It was then that Jurand appeared to the Bohemian
like a real corpse. There was suspense for a moment, because they
expected some sign from him ordering them to talk: but he sat motionless,
pale, and peaceful; his mouth, a little opened, had the real appearance
of one who is plunged in the everlasting sleep of death.
Jagienka finally announced that Hlawa was there, and gently enquired:
"Do you wish to hear him?"
Old Jurand nodded his head affirmatively, and the Bohemian began, for the
third time, to narrate briefly the story of the battles with the Germans
near Gotteswerder. He told him of the fight with Arnold von Baden and how
they had rescued Danusia. Not wishing to add new pains to the sufferings
of the old martyr and destroy the effect produced by the good news of
Danusia's rescue, he purposely avoided relating that her mind suffered
for a long time on account of terrible distress. But, on the other hand,
as his heart was filled with rancor against the Knights of the Cross, and
thirsting to see Zygfried receive his deserved terrible chastisement, he
purposely mentioned the fact that when they found her she was terrified,
emaciated and sick, and it was evident that they must have treated her as
executioners do, and had she remained longer in their terrible hands she
would have withered and perished as a little flower withers and perishes
when trodden under foot.
Whilst Hlawa recited the news, the sky was overcast and the clouds grew
darker, which showed the approach of a storm. The copper-colored masses
of clouds which hung over Spychow rolled more heavily upon one another.
Jurand was motionless and listened to the recital without any trembling,
so that he appeared to be in deep sleep. Nevertheless, he heard and
understood everything, for when Hlawa told the story of Danusia's woes,
two large drops of tears rolled down his cheeks from the hollows of his
eyes. Only one earthly feeling still remained in his breast, and that was
love for his child.
Then his blue lips began to move in prayer. The first distant
thunderclaps were heard outside. Now and then lightning illuminated the
windows. He prayed long, and again the tears trickled down upon his white
beard. When he finally ceased to pray, long silence reigned, which was so
much prolonged as to cause uneasiness to those present because they did
not know what to do.
Finally, old Tolima, who was Jurand's right hand, his companion in all
battles, and the chief guard of Spychow, said:
"That man of Hades, that werewolf Knight of the Cross who tortured you
and your child stands now before you. Give a sign what shall be done to
him, and in what manner we shall chastise him!"
Upon hearing these words, rays of light crossed Jurand's face and he
nodded to them to bring the prisoner near him. And in the twinkling of an
eye, two men grasped him by the shoulders and placed him in front of the
old man, who stretched out his hand to Zygfried's face, which he touched
as though to feel the outlines and recognize it for the last time. Then
he lowered his hand to Zygfried's chest upon which he felt his bound
hands, touched the fastening ropes, again closed his eyelids and bowed
They thought that he was absorbed in thought, but whether that was so or
not, it was not of long duration, because after a while he started out of
his reverie and pointed with his hand in the direction of the loaf of
bread, in which the ill-omened _misericordia_ stuck.
Then, Jagienka, the Bohemian, even old Tolima and all present held their
breath. It was a hundredfold well-deserved punishment, a righteous
revenge. Yet their hearts palpitated at the thought that the half-alive
old man should be groping to slash the bound prisoner.
But Jurand, seizing the knife in the middle, ran his finger along its
sharp edge, so that he might feel the thing he was cutting, and began to
sever the bonds upon Zygfried's arms.
At that sight, all were seized with amazement, because they understood
his desire and could scarcely believe it. However, that was too much for
them. Hlawa was the first to murmur; he was followed by Tolima and the
other men. Only the priest Kaleb began to ask, in a voice broken with
"Brother Jurand, what are your wishes? Do you intend to give the prisoner
"It is so!" replied Jurand, nodding his head affirmatively.
"No punishment for him, nor vengeance? Is that your desire?"
"It is!" and he nodded again.
Open discontent was shown in the murmurs and anger of the men, but the
priest did not wish to belittle such an unheard-of deed of mercy. He
turned to the murmurers and exclaimed:
"Now who dares to oppose the saint? Down upon your knees!"
Then he knelt down himself and began to say:
"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom
And he repeated the Lord's Prayer to the end. At the words: "And forgive
us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," he
directed his eyes involuntarily toward Jurand, whose face actually
assumed an unearthly radiance.
That sight, and that expressive prayer crushed the hearts of all present;
even old Tolima, the confirmed, hardened warrior, made the sign of the
Holy Cross, and immediately embraced Jurand's feet and said:
"Lord, if you want your wishes to be accomplished, then the prisoner
should be led to the frontier."
"Yes!" nodded Jurand.
The storm approached nearer and nearer and the lightning more frequently
illuminated the windows.
Two horsemen, in the midst of the storm and pouring rain, reached the
frontier of Spychow. They were Zygfried and Tolima. The last mentioned
accompanied the German to protect him from the waylaying peasants and the
servants of Spychow, who burned with hatred and revenge toward him.
Zygfried was unarmed, but he was not fettered. The rainstorm, driven by
the tempest, had already overtaken them. Now and then, when it suddenly
thundered, the horses reared. They traveled in deep silence in a ravine.
Owing to the narrowness of the road, they were at times so near that they
struck each other's stirrups. Tolima, who had been accustomed to guard
prisoners for many years, frequently looked at Zygfried watchfully, as
though he were guarding against his escaping suddenly, and an involuntary
shudder seized him every time he looked at Zygfried, because his eyes
appeared to him to be shining in the darkness like the eyes of an evil
spirit, or of a vampire. It struck Tolima that it would be advisable to
make the sign of the cross over Zygfried, but he refrained from doing so,
because, he thought, that under the sign of the cross, he would hear
unearthly voices, and Zygfried would be transformed into a hideous being.
His teeth chattered and his fear increased. The old soldier who could
fight singly against a whole band of Germans and fall fearlessly upon
them, as a hawk swoops upon a flock of partridges, was nevertheless
afraid of unclean spirits, and wanted to have nothing to do with them. He
would have preferred simply to point out to the German the road and
return; but he was ashamed of himself, therefore he led him as far as the
It was then, when they had drawn near the border of the Spychow forest,
that the rain ceased, and the clouds were lit up with a strange yellowish
light, that Zygfried's eyes lost that above-mentioned unnatural glare.
But Tolima was seized with another temptation: "They ordered me," he said
to himself, "to lead this mad dog safely as far as the frontier. I have
done that; but must the torturer of my master and his daughter leave
without revenge and punishment? Would it not be a proper and God-pleasing
deed to kill him? Ay! I should like to challenge him to deadly combat,
but he is not armed. Very soon at _Pan_ Warcimow's farm, about a mile
from here, they will supply him with some weapon, and then I will
challenge him. With God's help I shall overthrow him, then kill him, and
fitly, cut off his head and bury it in the dung!" These were the words
which Tolima said to himself. Then looking greedily at the German he
began to dilate his nostrils as if he already smelt fresh blood. He
fought hard in his mind with that desire; it was hard wrestling with
himself, until he reflected that Jurand had not only granted to the
prisoner his life and freedom as far as the frontier, but also beyond it,
otherwise Jurand's holy deed would have no merit and the heavenly reward
for him would thereby be lessened. He finally prevailed over himself, and
reining in his horse, said;
"Here is our border; your side is not far from here; proceed, you are
free; and if the qualms of conscience do not take you off, or God's
thunder does not strike you, then you need not fear man."
Then Tolima returned; and Zygfried proceeded. His face looked as if
petrified and a savage expression was depicted upon it. He did not reply
a single word, as though he heard nothing that was said to him. He
continued his journey now upon a wider road and had the appearance of one
who is fast asleep.
The break in the storm and the brightening of the sky only lasted a short
time. It darkened again; so much so that it looked like the darkness of
night. The clouds traveled so low that they quite enveloped the forest
and from the hills came down an ill-boding obscurity, a kind of hissing
and growling of impatient vampires, who were kept back by the angel of
the storm. Blinding lightning illuminated the threatening sky every
moment and terrified the land. Then one could see the broad highway
extending between the two black walls of forest, and upon it a lonely
horseman. Zygfried moved on in a semi-conscious condition, consumed by
fever. Despair had lacerated his heart since Rotgier's death and filled
it with crimes of revenge. Remorse, awful visions, soul stirrings had
already tortured his mind in the past to such a degree that with great
effort he had to fight madness; there were even moments when he could
fight no longer and he surrendered. But the new troubles, fatigue upon
the road under the strong hand of the Bohemian, the night he had passed
in the dungeon of Spychow, the uncertainty of his fate, and above all,
that unheard-of and almost superhuman deed, had quite terrified him. All
this had brought him to a climax. There were moments when his mind became
so stupefied that he entirely lost his judgment and he did not know what
he was doing. Then the fever awoke him and, at the same time awoke within
him a certain dull feeling of despair, destruction, and perdition,--a
feeling that all hope was already gone, extinguished and ended. He felt
that about him was only night, night and darkness, a horrible abyss into
which he must plunge.
Suddenly a voice whispered in his ear:
And he looked around him and saw the very image of death, a skeleton
mounted upon a skeleton horse, pressing closely beside him, with his
white rattling bones.
"Is it you?" asked Zygfried.
"Yes it is. Go! Go!"
But at that moment he glanced to the other side and observed that he had
another companion there. Stirrup to stirrup rode a form, appearing
somewhat like a human being but for his face and head. It had the head of
an animal, with raised long pointed ears, covered with black shaggy hair.
"Who are you?" asked Zygfried.
But the being, instead of replying, showed its teeth and growled.
Zygfried closed his eyes, but in a moment he heard a louder clattering of
bones and the voice speaking to him in the same ear:
"Time! Time! Hurry on, go!"
"I go!" he replied.
But that last reply came from his breast and seemed to have been uttered
by somebody else. Then, impelled as it were by an external unconquerable
power, he dismounted and took off his high knight's saddle, and then the
bridle. His companions also dismounted, and did not leave him for a
moment. They left the middle of the road and went toward the margin of
the wood. There, the black being bent down a branch of a tree and
assisted him in fastening to it the strap of the bridle.
"Hurry!" whispered Death.
"Hurry!" whistled some voices from the tops of the trees.
Zygfried, who was like one plunged in deep sleep, drew through the buckle
the other end of the strap so as to form a noose. Then he stepped upon
the saddle which he had placed in front of the tree, and adjusted the
noose upon his neck.
"Push back the saddle! ... Already! Ah!"
The saddle, which he pushed with his feet, rolled away several paces and
the body of the unfortunate Knight of the Cross hung heavily. It seemed
to him, only for a short moment, that he heard a kind of smothering,
snorting and roaring, and that abominable vampire threw itself upon him,
shook him and then began to tear his breast with its teeth to rend his
heart. Then, as the light of his eyes was about extinguished he yet saw
something else; for lo, death dissolved into a whitish cloud, which
slowly approached him, embraced him, and finally surrounded and covered
all with a dismal and impenetrable veil.
At that moment the storm broke with great fury. Thunder roared in the
middle of the road with such a terrible crash that it seemed as though
the earth was shaken to its very foundations. The whole forest bent under
the tempest. The noise of whistling, hissing, howling, creaking of the
trunks, and cracking of the broken branches, filled the depths of the
woods. The tempest-driven sheets of rain hid the world from sight. Only
at short intervals, when lit up by blood-colored lightning, could be seen
the wild dangling body of Zygfried by the roadside.
* * * * *
The following morning, advancing upon the same road, a numerous train
might be seen. In front was Jagienkna, with Sieciechowna and the
Bohemian. Behind them moved the wagons, surrounded by four servants,
armed with bows and swords. Every driver had also a spear and an axe near
him, not counting forged hayforks and other cutting arms suitable upon
the road. Those arms were necessary for protection against wild beasts,
as well as robbers, who always swarmed upon the border of the Knights of
the Cross. This caused Jagiello to complain in his letters to the Grand
Master of the Order, and when they met at Racionza.
But being provided with skilful men and good arms, the retinue traveled
The stormy day was succeeded by a wonderful one; cheerful, silent and so
bright that the eyes of the travelers were blinded when not in the shade.
Not a single leaf stirred; from each of them hung large drops of rain
which the sun changed into a rainbow. Among the pine-needles they had the
appearance of large glistening diamonds. The rainfall produced small
streams upon the road, which ran with glad sound toward the lower places,
where they formed shallow little lakes. The whole neighborhood was wet
and bedewed, but smiling in the morning brightness. On such mornings,
also, the human heart is filled with gladness. Therefore the ostlers and
servants began to sing; they marveled at the silence which reigned among
those riding in front of them.
But they were quiet because a heavy burden oppressed Jagienka's heart.
There was something which had ended in her life, something broken.
Although she was not experienced in meditation and could not determine
distinctly the cause and what was going on in her mind, yet she felt that
all that had lived hitherto had vanished, that all her hopes had
dissipated as the morning mist upon the fields is dissipated. She felt
that she must now renounce and give up everything and forget, and begin
almost a new life. She also thought that although, with God's will, her
present position was not of the worst, yet it could not be otherwise than
sad, and in no way could the new life turn out to be as good as that
which had just terminated. And an immense sorrow had taken hold of her
heart, so that, at the thought that every past hope was gone forever,
tears came to her eyes. But not wishing to add shame to her other
troubles, she restrained herself from weeping. She wished that she had
never left Zgorzelice; in that case she would not now have to return
thither. Then, she thought, it was not only to remove the cause for
attacks upon Zgorzelice by Cztan and Wilk that Macko brought her to
Spychow. That she could not believe. "No," she said, "Macko also knew
that that was not the only cause for taking me away. Perhaps Zbyszko will
also know it." At that thought, her cheeks became crimson and bitterness
filled her heart.
"I was too daring," she said to herself, "and now I have what I deserved.
Trouble and uncertainty to-morrow, suffering and deep sorrow in the
future and with it humiliation."
But the train of oppressing thoughts was interrupted by a man coming
hastily from the opposite direction. The Bohemian, whose eyes nothing
escaped, rushed toward the man, who with crossbow upon his shoulder and
badger-skin pouch at his side, and with a feather of a black woodcock in
his cap, was recognized as a forester.
"Hey! Who are you? Stop!" exclaimed the Bohemian.
The man approached quickly, his face was agitated, and had the expression
of those who have something extraordinary to communicate. He cried:
"There upon the road ahead of you is a man hanging on a tree!"
The Bohemian was alarmed, thinking that it might be a murder, and he
asked the man quickly:
"How far from here is it?"
"A bowshot distance, and upon this road."
"Is there nobody with him?"
"Nobody; I frightened away a wolf that was smelling around him."
The mention of a wolf quieted Hlawa, for it told him that there were
neither people nor farms in the neighborhood.
Then Jagienka said:
"Look there, what is that?"
Hlawa rushed ahead, and soon returned hurriedly.
"Zygfried is hanging there!" he exclaimed while reining in his horse in
front of Jagienka.
"In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost! You do not mean Zygfried,
the Knight of the Cross?"
"Yes, it is he. He hung himself with the bridle."
"Did you say by himself?"
"It seems so, because the saddle lies alongside him, and if there were
robbers they would have killed him outright and made off with the saddle,
because it is valuable."
"Shall we proceed?"
"Let us not go that way! No!" cried Anula Sieciechowna, afraid.
"Something evil might happen to us!"
Jagienka was also somewhat afraid, because she believed that the body of
a suicide is surrounded by crowds of evil spirits. But Hlawa, who was
fearless and bold, said:
"Bah! I was near him, and even pushed him with the lance, and do not feel
any devil upon my neck."
"Do not blaspheme!" cried Jagienka.
"I am not blaspheming," replied the Bohemian, "I only trust in God's
power. Nevertheless, if you are afraid we will go around it."
Sieciechowna begged him to do so; but Jagienka, having reflected for a
"It is not proper to leave the dead unburied. It is a Christian act
commanded by the Lord. Anyhow it is the body of a man."
"Yes, but it is the body of a Knight of the Cross, a hangman and
executioner! Let the crows and wolves occupy themselves with his body."
"It was not specified. God will judge for his sins, but we must do our
duty; and if we fulfil God's commandment nothing evil will befall us."
"Well, then, let it be done according to your wishes," replied the
Accordingly he gave the order to the servants, who were reluctant. But
they feared Hlawa, to oppose whom was a dangerous thing. Not having the
necessary spades to dig a hole in the ground, they therefore gathered
pitchforks and axes for that purpose and left. The Bohemian also went
with them and to give them an example, he crossed himself and cut with
his own hands the leather strap upon which the body was hanging.
Zygfried's face had become blue whilst hanging; he had an awful
appearance, because his eyes were open and terror-stricken, his mouth was
also open as though in the act of trying to catch his last breath. They
quickly dug a pit near by and pushed therein the corpse of Zygfried with
the handles of their pitchforks; they laid him with his face downward and
covered it first with dust, then they gathered stones and placed them
upon it, because it was an immemorial custom to cover the graves of
suicides with stones; otherwise they would come out during the night and
frighten the passers-by.
As there were many stones upon the road and under the mosses, the grave
was soon covered with a considerable mound. Then Hlawa cut a cross with
his axe upon the trunk of the pine-tree near. He did that, not for
Zygfried, but to prevent evil spirits from gathering at that place. Then
he returned to the retinue.
"His soul is in hell and his body is already in the ground," he said to
Jagienka. "We can travel now."
They started; but Jagienka, whilst passing along, took a small branch of
pine-tree and pressed it upon the stones. Then everybody of the train
followed the example of the lady. That, too, had been an old custom.
They traveled for a long while absorbed in thought, thinking of that
wicked monk and knight. Finally Jagienka said:
"God's justice cannot be escaped. It does not even permit the prayer,
'Everlasting rest' to be offered up because there is no mercy for
"You have shown by your order to bury him that you possess a
compassionate soul," replied the Bohemian.
Then he spoke hesitatingly: "People talk. Bah! maybe they are not people,
but witches and wizards--that a halter or a strap taken from the hanging
body secures to the possessor certain luck in everything. But I did not
take the strap from Zygfried, because I wish that your luck should
proceed from the Lord Jesus and not from necromancers."
Jagienka did not reply to that at once, but after awhile she sighed
several times and said as it were to herself:
"Hey! My happiness is behind, not in front of me."
It was not until the end of the ninth day after Jagienka's departure that
Zbyszko reached the frontier of Spychow, but Danusia was already so near
death that he entirely lost all hope of bringing her alive to her father.
On the following day, when she began to be incoherent in her replies, he
observed that not only her mind was out of order, but that she was also
suffering from a certain malady against which that childlike frame,
exhausted by so much suffering, prison, torture and continuous fright,
could not fight. Perhaps the noise of the fight of Macko and Zbyszko with
the Germans contributed to fill her cup of terror, and it was just about
that time that she was taken ill with that malady. Suffice it to say that
the fever never left her from that moment until they reached the end of
the journey. So far it was successfully accomplished, because throughout
the terrible wilderness, in the midst of great troubles, Zbyszko carried
her as though she were dead. When they left the wilderness and reached
inhabited regions, among farmers and nobles, trouble and danger ceased.
When the people were informed that he carried one of their own daughters
whom he had rescued from the Knights of the Cross, especially when they
knew that she was the daughter of the famous Jurand, of whose exploits
the minstrels sang in the villages, hamlets, and huts, they vied with
each other in rendering help and service. They procured proper horses and
supplies. All doors stood open for them. It was no more necessary for
Zbyszko to carry her in a cradle when the strong young men carried her
from one village to another in a litter. They carried her as carefully as
though she were a saint. The women surrounded her with the most tender
care. The men, upon hearing the account of her wrongs, gnashed their
teeth, and not a few put on the steel cuirass, grasped the sword, axe, or
lance and went along with Zbyszko, in order to take revenge with
interest. Because, the valiant race considered even retribution, wrong
for wrong, insufficient.
But revenge did not then occupy Zbyszko's mind; his only thought was for
Danusia. He lived between flashes of hope when there were momentary signs
of improvement, and gloomy despair when she got worse, and as far as her
latter condition was concerned, he could not deceive himself. A
superstitious thought struck him more than once at the beginning of the
journey, that there was, somewhere in the pathless regions they were
passing, death, riding along with them, step by step, lying in wait for
the moment when he might fall upon Danusia and wring from her the last
breath of life. That vision or feeling became especially pronounced at
dark midnight, so much so, that more than once he was seized with a
despairing desire to return and challenge death to a combat to a finish,
in the same fashion as knights are wont to do toward each other. But at
the end of the journey it became worse, because he felt that death was
not following them, but was in the very midst of the retinue; invisible
truly, but so near that its cold breath could be felt. Then he understood
that against such an enemy, courage, strength and arms are counted as
nothing and that he would be obliged to surrender the most precious head
as a prey without even a struggle.
And that was a most terrible feeling, because it roused within him a
tempestuous, irresistible sorrow, a sorrow, bottomless as the sea. Could
therefore Zbyszko restrain himself from groaning, could his heart remain
unbroken by pain, when he looked at his most beloved? He spoke to her as
in terms of involuntary reproach: "Was it for this that I loved you? Was
it for this that I searched and rescued you in order that you should be
put under ground to-morrow and I should never see you again?" Then he
would look at her cheeks which glowed with fever, at her expressionless
and dull eyes, and ask her again:
"Are you going to leave me? Are you not sorry for it? You prefer going to
staying with me." Then he thought that something was happening in his own
head, and his breast swelled with immense sadness which seared it, but he
could not give vent to his feeling with tears, because of a certain
feeling of anger and hatred against that compassionless power which was
consuming the innocent, blind, and cold child. If that wicked enemy, the
Knight of the Cross, were present, he would have fallen upon him and torn
him to pieces like a wild beast.
When they arrived at the forest court, he wished to halt, but as it was
the spring season the court was deserted. There he was informed by the
keepers that the princely pair had gone to their brother, Prince
Ziemowita, at Plock. He therefore resolved, instead of going to Warsaw
where the court physician might have given her some relief, to go to
Spychow. That plan was terrible, because it seemed to him that all was
over with her and that he would not be able to bring her alive to Jurand.
But just as they were only a few hours distant from Spychow the brightest
ray of hope shone again in his heart. Danuska's cheeks became paler, her
eyes were less troubled, her breathing not so loud and quick. Zbyszko had
observed it immediately, and had given orders to stop, so that she might
rest and breathe undisturbed.
It was only about three miles from the inhabited part of Spychow, upon a
narrow road winding between fields and meadows. They stopped near a wild
pear-tree whose branches served to the sick as a protection from the rays
of the sun. The men dismounted and unbridled their horses so as to
facilitate their grazing. Two women, who were hired to attend Danusia and
the youths who carried her, fatigued with the road and heat, lay down in
the shade and slept. Only Zbyszko remained watching near the litter and
sat close by upon the roots of the pear-tree, not taking his eyes off her
even for a moment.
She lay in the midst of the afternoon silence, her eyelids closed. It
seemed to Zbyszko that she was not asleep,--when at the other end of the
meadow a man who was mowing hay stopped and began to sharpen his scythe
loudly upon the hone. Then she trembled a little and opened her eyelids
for a moment, but immediately closed them again. Her breast heaved as
though she was deeply inspiring, and in a hardly audible voice she
"Flowers smell sweetly...."
These were the first words, clear and free from fever, spoken since they
had left, because the breeze really wafted from the sun-warmed meadow a
strong, redolent hay and honey perfume, fragrant with the scent of herbs.
This caused Zbyszko to think that reason had returned to her. His heart
trembled within him for joy. He wished to throw himself at her feet at
the first impulse. But fearing lest that might frighten her, he desisted.
He only knelt in front of the litter, and bending over her, said in a
"Dear Danusia! Danusia!"
She opened her eyes again, and looked at him for a while. Then a smile
brightened up her face, the same as when she was in the tar-burner's
shanty, but far from consciousness, but she pronounced his name:
She attempted to stretch her hands toward him, but owing to her great
weakness she was unable to do it. But he embraced her, his heart was so
full that it seemed as if he were thanking her for some great favor he
"I praise the Lord," he said, "you have awoke ... O God...." Now his
voice failed him, and they looked at each other for some time in silence.
That silence was only interrupted by the gentle wind which moved the
leaves of the pear-tree, the chirping of the grasshoppers among the grass
and the distant indistinct song of the mower.
It seemed as though her consciousness was gradually increasing, for she
continued to smile and had the appearance of a sleeping child seeing
angels in its dream. Little by little her face assumed an air of
"Oh! where am I?" she cried. He was so much overcome with joy that he
uttered numerous short and abrupt questions.
"Near Spychow. You are with me, and we are going to see dear papa. Your
sorrow is ended. Oh! my darling Danusia, I searched for you and rescued
you. You are no more in the power of the Germans. Be not afraid. We shall
soon be at Spychow. You were ill, but the Lord Jesus had mercy upon you.
There was so much sorrow, so many tears! Dear Danusia. Now, everything is
well. There is nothing but happiness for you. Ah I how much did I search
for you!... How far did I wander!... Oh! Mighty God!... Oh!..."
He sighed deeply and groaned as though he had thrown off the last heavy