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The Knights of the Cross by Henryk Sienkiewicz

Part 14 out of 14

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burden of suffering from his breast.

Danusia lay quiet trying to recall something to her mind and reflecting
upon something. Then finally she asked:

"So, you cared for me?"

Two tears which were gathering in her eyes slowly rolled down her cheeks
upon the pillow.

"I, not care for you?" cried Zbyszko.

There was something more powerful in that smothered exclamation than in
the most vehement protestations and oaths, because he had always loved
her with his whole soul. And from the moment when he had recovered her
she had become more dear to him than the whole world.

Silence reigned again. The distant singing of the mowing peasant ceased
and he began to whet his scythe again.

Danusia's lips moved again, but with such a low whisper that Zbyszko
could not hear it. He therefore bent over her and asked:

"What do you say, darling?"

But she repeated:

"Sweet smelling blossoms."

"Because we are near the meadows," he replied. "But we shall soon proceed
and go to dear papa, whom we have also rescued from captivity, and you
shall be mine even unto death. Do you hear me well? Do you understand

Then he suddenly became alarmed, for he observed that her face was
gradually paling and was thickly covered with perspiration.

"What ails you?" he asked in great alarm.

And he felt his hair bristling and frost creeping through his bones.

"What ails you, tell me," he repeated.

"It darkens," she whispered.

"It darkens? Why, the sun shines and you say: 'it darkens'?" he said with
a suppressed voice. "Up to this time you have spoken rationally. In God's
name I beseech you, speak, even if it is only one word."

She still moved her lips, but she was unable even to whisper. Zbyszko
guessed that she tried to pronounce his name and that she called him.
Immediately afterward, her emaciated hands began to twitch and flutter
upon the rug covering her. That lasted only for a moment. No doubt was
left now that she had expired.

Horrified and in despair, Zbyszko began to beg her, as though his
entreaties could avail:

"Danuska! Oh, merciful Jesus!... Only wait till we come to Spychow! Wait!
Wait, I beseech you! Oh, Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!"

The appeal awoke the sleeping women, and the men who were stretched with
the horses upon the lawn came running. They guessed at a glance what had
happened; they knelt down and began loudly to recite the litany.

The breeze ceased, even the leaves upon the pear-tree did not rustle.
Only the voices reciting the litany sounded throughout that profound

Danusia opened her eyes once more at the very end of the litany, as
though she wished to look upon Zbyszko and upon the sunlit world for the
last time. Then she lapsed into an everlasting sleep.

* * * * *

The women closed her eyelids; then they went to the meadow to gather
flowers. The men followed them in file. Thus they walked in the sunshine
among the luxuriant grass and had the appearance of field spirits bowing
now and then, and weeping, for their hearts were filled with pity and
sorrow. Zbyszko was kneeling in the shade beside the litter, with his
head upon Danusia's knees, speechless and motionless, as if he too were
dead. But the gatherers kept on plucking here and there, marigolds,
buttercups, bellflowers and plenty of red and white sweet-smelling little
blossoms. They also found in the small moist hollows in the meadow,
lilies of the valley, and upon the margin near the fallow ground, they
got St. John's wort until they had gathered their arms full. Then they
sadly surrounded the litter and began to adorn it, until they had covered
the dead with flowers and herbs; they only left the face uncovered, which
in the midst of the bellflowers and lilies looked white, peaceful, calm,
as in eternal sleep, serene, and quite angelic.

The distance to Spychow was less than three miles. Then, when they had
shed copious tears of sorrow and pain, they carried the litter toward the
forest where Jurand's domains began.

The men led the horses in front of the retinue. Zbyszko himself carried
the litter upon his head, and the women loaded with the surplus of the
bunches of flowers and herbs, sang hymns. They moved very slowly along
the herb-covered meadows and the grey fallow fields and had the
appearance of a funeral procession. Not a cloudlet marred the blue clear
sky, and the region warmed itself in the golden rays of the sun.

The further adventures of Zbyszko will be found in a subsequent volume.


[Footnote 1: The Benedictine Abbey at Tyniec was in Poland as important
and rich, relatively, as the Abbey of Saint-Germain des Pres in France.
In those times the order organized by Saint Benoit (Benedictus) was the
most important factor in the civilization and material prosperity of the
country. The older contained 17,000 abbeys. From it came 24 Popes; 200
Cardinals; 1,600 Archbishops; 4,000 Bishops; 15,000 Writers; 1,500
Saints; 5,000 Beatified; 43 Emperors, and 44 Kings. These figures are
material facts showing the importance of the order. About its influence
on art, literature and culture one could write a volume.]

[Footnote 2: Two powerful families.]

[Footnote 3: Lithuania.]

[Footnote 4: Historical fact.]

[Footnote 5: Prince.]

[Footnote 6: Lithuanian.]

[Footnote 7: Money--it is difficult to tell the value exactly.]

[Footnote 8: Bishop.]

[Footnote 9: Priests.]

[Footnote 10: An exclamation of trifling.]

[Footnote 11: Prince Kiejstut's daughter.]

[Footnote 12: Slave minstrels.]

[Footnote 13: A kind of guitar.]

[Footnote 14: The names of the noblemen of every country are derived from
the estates which they possess--hence the particles before the name of a
true nobleman: _de_ in France, for instance, de Nevers, means that the
name comes from the place called Nevers; _of_ in England, for instance,
Duke of Manchester; _von_ in Germany has the same signification; in
Poland z, for instance Macko z Bogdanca--means that the estate Bogdaniec
belonged to his family and to him;--in the following centuries the z was
changed to _ski_, put on the end of the name and instead of writing z
Bogdanca, a man of the same family was called Bogdanski; but it does not
follow that every Pole, whose name ends in _ski_ is a nobleman. Therefore
the translation of that particular z into English _of_ is only strictly
correct, although in other cases z should be translated into English
_from_: to write: Baron de Rothschild is absurd and ridiculous, because
the sign "red shield" was not an estate, and one cannot put _de_ before

[Footnote 15: A wealthy possessor of land--they were freemen and had
serfs working for them--some of them were noblemen, and had the right to
use coats of arms.]

[Footnote 16: Pan--Lord]

[Footnote 17: A man coming from Mazowsze--the part of Poland round

[Footnote 18: Count.]

[Footnote 19: Back side of the axe.]

[Footnote 20: A town surrounded with walls and having a peculiar
jurisdiction or a kind of a castle.]

[Footnote 21: Inhabitants of Rus'--part of Poland round Lwow--Leopol
(Latin), Lemberg (German).]

[Footnote 22: Money;--marks.]

[Footnote 23: Hail--the war-cry of the family, either because it was
numerous like hail or struck sharply like hail.]

[Footnote 24: Count.]

[Footnote 25: Wdaly--in old Polish--handsome.]

[Footnote 26: Beautiful.]

[Footnote 27: Abbot of a hundred villages.]

[Footnote 28: Ordinary German soldiers.]

[Footnote 29: A nobleman holding an estate of the Crown, with or without

[Footnote 30: Knight of the Cross in Polish.]

[Footnote 31: Vocative from Zbyszko.]

[Footnote 32: Pater-noster--the Lord's prayer.]

[Footnote 33: Historical fact.]

[Footnote 34: A military title with jurisdiction--corresponding to

[Footnote 35: Historical fact.]

[Footnote 36: Bonebreaker.]

[Footnote 37: Historical fact.]

[Footnote 38: A large building which served for different purposes, but
especially, as a depot of broadcloth; in Polish _sukno_, hence its name:

[Footnote 39: Noblemen in Lithuania and Russia.]

[Footnote 40: The Tartars were divided into Ords--it was a fancy
division, without any precise number.]

[Footnote 41: Anjou in French.]

[Footnote 42: Piasts is family name--the first kings of Poland were

[Footnote 43: Mountains in Poland--sometimes improperly called Carpathian

[Footnote 44: Priest--or prince in the old Slav language.]

[Footnote 45: In Poland they use in the churches a sprinkling brush made
of thin shavings of a certain wood--such a brush is called, "kropidlo."]

[Footnote 46: The Province of Dobrzyn was seized by the Knights of the
Cross on the ground of an unlawful agreement with Wladyslaw Opolczyk.]

[Footnote 47: Allusion to beehives on the trees; to take honey from them,
the keeper was obliged to climb a rope.]

[Footnote 48: Famous battle in which the Germans were defeated by King
Wladyslaw Lokietek.]

[Footnote 49: Ksiondz--priest.]

[Footnote 50: We will go to dissipate.]

[Footnote 51: Marienburg in German.]

[Footnote 52: King.]

[Footnote 53: Friend.]

[Footnote 54: Diminutive of _kniaz_--prince.]

[Footnote 55: Diminutive from _bojar_--Lord.]

[Footnote 56: Marienburg in German.]

[Footnote 57: A sort of coat.]

[Footnote 58: The bison of Pliny; the urus of Caesar. The bison,
destroyed in all other countries of Europe, is only to be found in Poland
in the forest of Bialowieza, where a special body of guards takes care of
this rare animal.]

[Footnote 59: It means here a fort, a stronghold, a castle.]

[Footnote 60: Grzywna or mark was equal to half pound of silver.]

[Footnote 61: High sharp pointed hat.]

[Footnote 62: Crooked.]

[Footnote 63: Polish _tata_ = papa; hence the diminutive and endearing
terms _tatus, tatutu_ and _tatulku_ = "dear papa," "dear little papa,"

[Footnote 64: Another form of diminutive from _tata_--father.]

[Footnote 65: Church with certain special privileges. It is a popular
expression for the church called _collegiata_, in Latin.]

[Footnote 66: Silesia.]

[Footnote 67: A popular exclamation of joy--sometimes of distress if it
is put with another word.]

[Footnote 68: An exclamation of mirth, especially in songs; and while
dancing, they exclaim in Poland: hoc! hoc!]

[Footnote 69: Wooden beehive excavated in a tree.]

[Footnote 70: Kind of fur jacket--bolero.]

[Footnote 71: Both words are diminutives of _tata_--father.]

[Footnote 72: Diminutive of mother.]

[Footnote 73: In 1331.]

[Footnote 74: Stronghold--castle.]

[Footnote 75: Miss.]

[Footnote 76: Breslau in German.]

[Footnote 77: Diminutive of _tata_ father.]

[Footnote 78: Abbreviation of Przeclaw.]

[Footnote 79: Podhale is part of the mountains of Karpaty.]

[Footnote 80: Nickname given to bears.]

[Footnote 81: Popular name for bear.]

[Footnote 82: Wolf.]

[Footnote 83: Seminarists students.]

[Footnote 84: Diminutive of _wlodyka_.]

[Footnote 85: Piece of money; it is twenty-fourth part of _grzywna_ or
mark, which was worth half pound of silver; one _skojeg_ was worth about
one-third of an ounce.]

[Footnote 86: "Bold Mountain"--a place in Poland, where one of the first
three Benedictine monasteries was built by the king, Boleslaw Chrobry
(the Valiant) 1125. In this monastery is a part of our Saviour's
cross--hence pilgrimages to that place.]

[Footnote 87: Diminutive of _wlodyka_.]

[Footnote 88: Another form of _pan_--lord; when one speaks in
commiseration or in sympathy, any noun can take this form.]

[Footnote 89: A short prayer for the dead.]

[Footnote 90: The famous victory over the Knights of the Cross by the
king Wladyslaw Lokietek.]

[Footnote 91: Lokiec means an ell in Polish. King Wladyslaw was of the
family Piasts, but he was called Lokietek on account of his short

[Footnote 92: Marks.]

[Footnote 93: Here it means a commandant.]

[Footnote 94: A part of Poland. The people were called Kurpie, on account
of their shoes made of the bark of trees. They were all famous marksmen.]

[Footnote 95: Krystyn.]

[Footnote 96: A woolen material, made by Polish peasants. In some
provinces _kilimeks_ are very artistic on account of the odd designs and
the harmony of the colors.]

[Footnote 97: Szczytno in Polish.]

[Footnote 98: Cymbaska who married Ernest Iron Habsburg.]

[Footnote 99: The knight Uter, being in love with the virtuous Igerna,
wife of Prince Gorlas, with Merlin's help assumed the form of Gorlas, and
with Igerna begot the king Arthur.]

[Footnote 100: Kind of horn.]

[Footnote 101: Wigand of Marburg mentions such cases.]

[Footnote 102: There is a custom in Poland, Hungary, Bohemia and some
other countries, to break wafers at receptions and parties, on Christmas
eve and the following two days, expressing in the meantime good wishes
for all manner of prosperity and happiness. The wafers are distributed by
the parish that is to say by the priest or sexton. The author refers to
that custom.]

[Footnote 103: Siebenkirchen in German, a province which now belongs to
Hungary, it was then an independent principality.]

[Footnote 104: Diminutive of mother; it is a charming expression. The
Polish language, like the Italian, has a great variety of diminutives.]

[Footnote 105: _Glowacz_ the Polish for the Bohemian _Hlawa_, the latter
means "head," but the former means also "big" or "thick head."--(S.A.B.)]

[Footnote 106: Lotarynczyk means the man from Lotaringen.]

[Footnote 107: _Byway_ means, in this instance, "here we are".]

[Footnote 108: _Pontnik_, "Pardoner," one who dispenses

[Footnote 109: Called: _Misericordia_.]

[Footnote 110: February is called in Polish "Luty," meaning also
dreadful, awful, etc.]

[Footnote 111: The diminutive of Anna.]

[Footnote 112: Lit., She was walking on live coals.]

[Footnote 113: Meaning never.]

[Footnote 114: Relics of the gallows were preserved down to the year

[Footnote 115: One Polish mile is about three American miles.]

[Footnote 116: _Setnik_, captain over one hundred.]

[Footnote 117: The Greater Bear, or Charleswain ... other names are hen
and chickens, dipper, etc. Arabic, _Dhiba_.]

[Footnote 118: _Wieczny odpoczynek racz mu daj Panie_. "God rest his

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