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The Knights of the Cross by Henryk Sienkiewicz

Part 5 out of 14

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Zybszko, having joined Zych and Jagienka, who were accompanying the abbot
and his retinue to Krzesnia, rode with them, because he wanted to show
the abbot that he was afraid neither of Wilk of Brzozowa, nor of Cztan of
Rogow. He was again surprised at Jagienka's beauty. He had often seen her
in Zgorzelice and Bogdaniec, dressed beautifully; but never had she
looked as she did now when going to church. Her cloak was made of red
broadcloth, lined with ermine; she wore red gloves, and on her head was a
little hood embroidered with gold, from beneath which two braids fell
down on her shoulders. She was not sitting on the horse astride, but on a
high saddle which had an arm and a little bench for her feet, which
scarcely showed from beneath her long skirt. Zych permitted the girl to
dress in a sheepskin overcoat and high-legged boots when at home, but
required that for church she should be dressed not like the daughter of a
poor _wlodyczka_,[84] but like the _panna_ of a mighty nobleman. Two
boys, dressed like pages, conducted her horse. Four servants were riding
behind with the abbot's seminarists, who were armed with swords and
carried their lutes. Zbyszko admired all the retinue, but especially
Jagienka, who looked like a picture. The abbot, who was dressed in a red
cloak, having enormous sleeves, resembled a traveling prince. The most
modest dress was worn by Zych, who requiring magnificent display for the
others, for himself cared only for singing and joy.

Zych, Zbyszko, Jagienka and the abbot rode together. At first the abbot
ordered his _shpilmen_ to sing some church songs; afterward, when he was
tired of their songs, he began to talk with Zbyszko, who smiled at his
enormous sword, which was as large as a two-handed German sword.

"I see," said he gravely, "that you wonder at my sword; the synod permits
a clergyman to wear a sword during a journey, and I am traveling. When
the holy father forbade the ecclesiastics to wear swords and red dresses,
most assuredly he meant the men of low birth, because God intended that
noblemen should wear arms; and he who would dare to take this right from
a nobleman, would oppose His eternal will."

"I saw the Mazovian Prince Henryk, when he fought in the lists," said

"We do not censure him, because he fought," answered the abbot, raising
his finger, "but because he married and married unhappily; _fornicarium_
and _bibulam_ had taken _mulierem_, whom _Bachum_ since she was young
_adorabat_, and besides that she was _adultera_, from whom no one could
expect any good." He stopped his horse and began to expound with still
greater gravity:

"Whoever wishes to marry, or to choose _uxorem_ must ascertain if she is
pious, moral, a good housekeeper and cleanly. This is recommended not
only by the fathers of the church, but also by a certain pagan sage,
called Seneca. And how can you know whether you have chosen well, if you
do not know the nest from which you take your life companion? Because
another sage has said: _Pomus nam cadit absque arbore._ As is the ox, so
is the skin; as is the mother, so is the girl. Prom which you, a sinner,
must draw this moral,--that you must look for your wife not far away, but
near; because if you get a bad one, you will cry as did the philosopher,
when his quarrelsome wife poured _aquam sordidam_ on his head."

"_In saecula saeculorum_, amen!" exclaimed in unison the wandering
seminarists, who when responding to the abbot, did not always answer

They were all listening very attentively to the abbot's words, admiring
his eloquence and his knowledge of the Scriptures; he apparently did not
speak directly to Zbyszko; but on the contrary, he turned more toward
Zych and Jagienka, as if he wished to edify them. But evidently Jagienka
understood what he was trying to do, because from beneath her long
eyelashes, she looked at Zbyszko, who frowned and dropped his head as if
he were seriously thinking about what the abbot had said.

After this the retinue moved on silently; but when they came near
Krzesnia, the abbot touched his girdle and then turned it so that he
could seize the hilt of his sword more easily, and said:

"I am sure that old Wilk of Brzozowa will come with a good retinue."

"Perhaps," replied Zych, "but I heard that he was not well."

"One of my seminarists heard that he intends to attack us in front of the
inn after the service is over."

"He will not do that without a challenge, and especially after holy

"May God, bring him to reason. I do not seek a quarrel with anybody and I
bear my wrongs patiently."

Here he looked at the _shpilmen_, and said:

"Do not draw your swords, and remember that you are spiritual servants;
but if they attack us first, then strike them!"

Zbyszko, while riding beside Jagienka, said to her:

"I am sure that in Krzesnia we will meet young Wilk and Cztan. Show me
them from afar, so that I may know them."

"Very well, Zbyszku," answered Jagienka.

"Do they not meet you before the service and after the service? What do
they do then?"

"They serve me."

"They will not serve you now, understand?" And she answered again, almost
with humility:

"Very well, Zbyszku."

Further conversation was interrupted by the sound of the wooden knockers,
there being no bells in Krzesnia. After a few moments they arrived at the
church. From the crowd in front, waiting for mass, young Wilk and Cztan
of Rogow came forward immediately; but Zbyszko jumped from his horse, and
before they could reach her, seized Jagienka and lifted her down from her
horse; then he took her by the hand, and looking at them threateningly,
conducted her to the church.

In the vestibule of the church, they were again disappointed. Both rushed
to the font of holy water, plunged their hands in, and then stretched
them toward the girl. But Zbyszko did the same, and she touched his
fingers; then having made the sign of the cross, she entered the church
with him. Then not only young Wilk, but Cztan of Rogow also,
notwithstanding his stupidity, understood that this had been done
purposely, and both were very angry. Wilk rushed out of the vestibule and
ran like a madman, not knowing where he was going. Cztan rushed after
him, although not knowing why.

They stopped at the corner of the inclosure where there were some large
stones ready for the foundation of the tower which was to be built in
Krzesnia. Then, Wilk wishing to assuage the wrath which raged in his
breast, seized one of these stones, and began to shake it; Cztan seeing
him do this, seized it also, and both began to roll it toward the church

The people looked at them with amazement, thinking that they had made
some vow, and that in this way they wished to contribute to the building
of the tower. This effort gave them relief and they came to their senses;
then they stood, pale from their exertion, puffing and looking at each

Cztan of Rogow was the first to break the silence.

"What now?" asked he.

"What?" answered Wilk.

"Shall we attack him immediately?"

"How can we do that in the church?"

"Not in the church, but after mass."

"He is with Zych and the abbot. And have you forgotten that Zych said
that if there were a fight, he would refuse to let either of us visit at
Zgorzelice. But for that, I would have broken your ribs long ago."

"Or I, yours!" answered Cztan, clinching his powerful fists.

And their eyes began to sparkle threateningly; but soon they both
realized that now, more than ever, they needed to have a good
understanding. They often fought together; but after each fight, they
always became reconciled, because although they were divided by their
love for Jagienka, they could not live without each other. Now they had a
common foe and they understood that the enemy was a dangerous one.

After a while Cztan asked:

"What shall we do? Shall we send him a challenge?"

Wilk, although he was wiser, did not know what to do. Fortunately the
knockers resounded to notify the people that mass would begin. When he
heard them he said:

"What shall we do? Go to church now and after that, we will do whatever
pleases God."

Cztan of Rogow was pleased with this answer.

"Perhaps the Lord Jesus will send us an inspiration," said he.

"And will bless us," added Wilk.

"According to justice."

They went to church, and having listened devoutly to the mass, they grew
more hopeful. They did not lose their temper after mass, when Jagienka
again accepted holy water from Zbyszko. In the church-yard they bowed to
Zych, to Jagienka and even to the abbot, although he was an enemy of Wilk
of Brzozowa. They scowled at Zbyszko, but did not attempt to touch him,
although their hearts were throbbing with grief, anger and jealousy;
never before had Jagienka seemed to them to be as beautiful as she was
then. When the brilliant retinue moved on and when from afar they heard
the merry song of the ambulant seminarists, Cztan began to wipe the
perspiration from his hairy cheeks and to snort like a horse; as for
Wilk, he said, gnashing his teeth:

"To the inn! To the inn! Woe to me!" Afterward remembering what had
relieved them before, they again seized the stone and rolled it back to
its former place.

Zbyszko rode beside Jagienka, listening to the abbot's _shpilmen_ singing
merry songs; but when they had traveled five or six furlongs, he suddenly
reined in his horse, and said:

"Oh! I intended to pay for a mass to be said for uncle's health and I
forgot it; I must return."

"Do not go back!" exclaimed Jagienka; "we will send from Zgorzelice."

"No, I will return, and you must not wait for me. With God!"

"With God," said the abbot. "Go!" And his face brightened; when Zbyszko
disappeared, he touched Zych with his elbow and said:

"Do you understand?"


"He will surely fight in Krzesnia with Wilk and Cztan; but I wished for
it and I am glad."

"They are dreadful boys! If they wound him, then what of it?"

"What of it? If he fight for Jagienka, then how can he afterward think
about that other girl, Jurandowna? From this time, Jagienka will be his
lady, not the other girl; and I wish it because he is my relative and I
like him."

"Bah! What about his vow?"

"I will give him absolution in the twinkling of an eye! Have you not
heard that I promised to absolve him?"

"Your head is wise about everything," answered Zych.

The abbot was pleased with this praise; then he approached nearer
Jagienka and asked:

"Why are you so sad?"

She leaned on the saddle, seized the abbot's hand and lifted it to her

"Godfather, could you not send your _shpilmen_ to Krzesnia?"

"What for? They will get drunk in the inn--that's all."

"But they may prevent a quarrel."

The abbot looked into her eyes and then said sharply:

"Let them even kill him."

"Then they must kill me also!" exclaimed Jagienka.

The bitterness which had accumulated in her bosom since that conversation
about Danusia with Zbyszko, mingled with grief, now gushed forth in a
stream of tears. Seeing this, the abbot encircled her with his arm,
almost covering her with his enormous sleeve, and began to talk:

"Do not be afraid, my dear little girl. They may quarrel, but the other
boys are noblemen; they will attack him only in a chivalrous manner; they
will call him up on the field, and then he can manage for himself, even
if he be obliged to fight with both of them at once. As for Jurandowna,
about whom you have heard, I will tell you this: there is no wood growing
for a bed for the other girl."

"If he prefers the other girl, then I do not care about him," answered
Jagienka, through her tears.

"Then why do you, weep?"

"Because I am afraid for him."

"Woman's sense!" said the abbot, laughing.

Then having bent toward Jagienka's ear, he said:

"You must remember, dear girl, that even if he take you, he will be
obliged to fight just the same; a nobleman must be a knight." Here he
bent still closer and added:

"And he will take you, and before long, as God is in heaven!"

"I do not know about that!" answered Jagienka.

But she began to smile through her tears, and to look at the abbot as if
she wished to ask him how he knew it.

Meanwhile, Zbyszko having returned to Krzesnia, went directly to the
priest, because he really wished to have a mass read for Macko's health;
after having settled about that, he went to the inn, where he expected to
find young Wilk of Brzozowa, and Cztan of Rogow.

He found both of them there, and also many other people, noblemen,
farmers and a few "madcap fellows" showing different German tricks. At
first he could not recognize anybody, because the windows of the inn
being made of ox bladders, did not let in a good light; but when the
servant put some resinous wood on the fire, he noticed in the corner
behind the beer buckets, Cztan's hairy cheeks, and Wilk's furious face.

Then he walked slowly toward them, pushing aside the people; when he
reached them, he struck the table so heavily with his fist that the noise
resounded throughout the whole inn.

They arose immediately and began to turn their girdles; but before they
could grasp the hilts of their swords, Zbyszko threw down a glove, and
speaking through his nose, as the knights used to speak while
challenging, he said these words which were unexpected by everybody:

"If either of you, or any other knightly person here present, deny that
the most beautiful and most virtuous girl in the world is _Panna_ Danuta
Jurandowna of Spychow, that one I will challenge to combat, on horseback
or on foot, until the first kneeling, or until the last breath."

Wilk and Cztan were astonished as much as the abbot would have been, had
he heard Zbyszko's words; and for a while they could not say a word. Who
was this _panna_? They cared about Jagienka and not about her; and if
this youth did not care for Jagienka, then what did he wish? Why had he
made them angry in the church-yard? What did he return for, and why did
he wish to quarrel with them? These questions produced such confusion in
their minds, that they opened their mouths widely and stared at Zbyszko
as if he were not a man, but some German wonder.

But the more intelligent Wilk, who was a little familiar with chivalrous
customs and knew that often a knight served one lady, but married
another, thought that this must be a similar case, and that he must seize
the opportunity, to defend Jagienka.

Therefore he came out from behind the table, and coming close to Zbyszko,
asked threateningly:

"Then, you dog-brother, you mean to say that Jagienka Zychowna is not the
most beautiful girl in the world?"

Cztan followed him; and the people surrounded them, because they
understood that it would not end in words.


When Jagienka reached home, she immediately sent a servant to Krzesnia to
learn whether there had been a fight in the inn, or whether there had
been a challenge. But the servant having received a _skojec_,[85] began
to drink with the priest's servants, and did not hasten. Another servant
who had been sent to Bogdaniec to inform Macko that the abbot was going
to pay him a visit, returned, having fulfilled the commission and
reported that he had seen Zbyszko playing dice with the old man. This
partly soothed Jagienka, because knowing by experience how dexterous
Zbyszko was, she was not so much afraid about a regular duel, as she was
about some unexpected accident in the inn. She wanted to accompany the
abbot to Bogdaniec, but he was not willing. He wished to talk with Macko
about the pledge and about some other important business; and then he
wanted to go there toward night. Having learned that Zbyszko had returned
home safe, he became very jovial and ordered his wandering seminarists to
sing and shout. They obeyed him so well that the forest resounded with
the noise, and in Bogdaniec, the farmers came out from their houses, and
looked to see whether there was a fire or an invasion of the enemy. The
pilgrim riding ahead, quieted them by telling them that a high
ecclesiastical dignitary was coming; therefore when they saw the abbot,
they bowed to him, and some of them even made the sign of the cross on
their chests; he seeing how they respected him, rode along with joyful
pride, pleased with the world and full of kindness toward the people.

Macko and Zbyszko having heard the singing, came to the gate to meet him.
Some of the seminarists had been in Bogdaniec before with the abbot; but
others of them having joined the retinue lately, had never seen it until
now. They were disappointed when they saw the miserable house which could
not be compared with the large mansion in Zgorzelice. But they were
reassured when they saw the smoke coming out from the thatched roof of
the house; and they were greatly pleased when upon entering the room,
they smelt saffron and different kinds of meats, and noticed two tables
full of tin dishes, empty as yet, but enormous. On the smaller table
which was prepared for the abbot, shone a silver dish and also a
beautifully engraved silver cup, both taken with the other treasures from
the Fryzes.

Macko and Zbyszko invited them to the table immediately; but the abbot
who had eaten plentifully in Zgorzelice, refused because he had something
else on his mind. Since his arrival he had looked at Zbyszko attentively
and uneasily, as if he desired to see on him some traces of the fight;
but seeing the quiet face of the youth, he began to be impatient; finally
he was unable to restrain his curiosity any longer.

"Let us go into the chamber," said he, "to speak about the pledge. Do not
refuse me; that will make me angry!"

Here he turned to the seminarists and shouted:

"You keep quiet and do not listen at the door!"

Having said this, he opened the door to the chamber and entered, followed
by Zbyszko and Macko. As soon as they were seated on the chests, the
abbot turned toward the young knight:

"Did you go back to Krzesnia?" asked he.

"Yes, I was there."

"And what?"

"Well, I paid for a mass for my uncle's health, that's all."

The abbot moved on the chest impatiently.

"Ha!" thought he, "he did not meet Cztan and Wilk; perhaps they were not
there, and perhaps he did not look for them. I was mistaken."

But he was angry because he was mistaken, and because his plans had not
been realized; therefore immediately his face grew red and he began to
breathe loudly.

"Let us speak about the pledge!" said he. "Have you the money? If not,
then the estate is mine!"

Macko, who knew how to act with him, rose silently, opened the chest on
which he was sitting, and took out of it a bag of _grzywien_, evidently
prepared for this occasion, and said:

"We are poor people, but we have the money; we will pay what is right, as
it is written in the 'letter' which I signed with the mark of the holy
cross. If you want to be paid for the improvements, we will not quarrel
about that either; we will pay the amount you say, and we will bow to
you, our benefactor."

Having said this, he kneeled at the abbot's knee and Zbyszko did the
same. The abbot, who expected some quarrels and arguing, was very much
surprised at such a proceeding, and not very much pleased with it; he
wanted to dictate some conditions and he saw that he would have no
opportunity to do so.

Therefore returning the "letter" or rather the mortgage which Macko had
signed with a cross, he said:

"Why are you talking to me about an additional payment?"

"Because we do not want to receive any presents," answered Macko
cunningly, knowing well that the more he quarreled in that matter the
more he would get.

At this the abbot reddened with anger:

"Did you ever see such people? They do not wish to accept anything from a
relative! You have too much bread! I did not take waste land and I do not
return it waste; and if I want to give you this bag, I will do it!"

"You would not do that!" exclaimed Macko.

"I will not do it! Here is your pledge! Here is your money! I give it
because I want to, and had I even thrown it into the road, it would be
none of your affairs. You shall see if I will not do as I wish!"

Having said this, he seized the bag and threw it on the floor so hard
that it burst, and the money was scattered.

"May God reward you! May God reward you, father and benefactor!"
exclaimed Macko, who had been waiting for this; "I would not accept it
from anyone else, but from a relation and a spiritual father, I will
accept it."

The abbot looked threateningly at both of them, and finally he said:

"Although I am angry, I know what I am doing; therefore hold what you
have, because I assure you that you shall not have one _skojeo_ more."

"We did not expect even this."

"You know that Jagienka will inherit everything I have."

"The land also?" asked Macko, simply.

"The land also!" shouted the abbot.

At this Macko's face grew long, but he recovered himself and said:

"Ej, why should you think about death! May the Lord Jesus grant you a
hundred years or more of life, and an important bishopric soon."

"Certainly! Am I worse than others?" said the abbot.

"Not worse, but better!"

These words appeased the abbot, for his anger never lasted long.

"Well," said he, "you are my relations, and she is only my goddaughter;
but I love her, and Zych also. There is no better man in the world than
Zych and no better girl than Jagienka, also! Who can say anything against

He began to look angry, but Macko did not contradict; he quickly affirmed
that there was no worthier neighbor in the whole kingdom.

"And as for the girl," said he, "I could not love my own daughter any
more than I love her. With her help, I recovered my health and I shall
never forget it until my death."

"You will both be punished if you forget it," said the abbot, "and I will
curse you. But I do not wish to wrong you, therefore I have found a way
by which, what I will leave after my death, can belong to you and to
Jagienka; do you understand?"

"May God help us to realize that!" answered Macko. "Sweet Jesus! I would
go on foot to the grave of the queen in Krakow or to Lysa Gora[86] to bow
to the Holy Cross."

The abbot was very much pleased with such sincerity; he smiled and said:

"The girl is perfectly right to be particular in her choice, because she
is pretty, rich and of good family! Of what account are Cztan or Wilk,
when the son of a _wojewoda_ would not be too good for her! But if
somebody, as myself for instance, spoke in favor of any particular one,
then she would marry him, because she loves me and knows that I will
advise her well."

"The one whom you advise her to marry, will be very lucky," said Macko.

But the abbot turned to Zbyszko:

"What do you say to this?"

"Well, I think the same as my uncle does."

The face of the abbot became still more serene; he struck Zbyszko's
shoulder with his hand so hard that the blow resounded in the chamber,
and asked:

"Why did you not let Cztan or Wilk approach Jagienka at church?"

"Because I did not want them to think that I was afraid of them, and I
did not want you to think so."

"But you gave the holy water to her."

"Yes, I did."

The abbot gave him another blow.

"Then, take her!"

"Take her!" exclaimed Macko, like an echo.

At this Zbyszko gathered up his hair, put it in the net, and answered

"How can I take her, when before the altar in Tyniec, I made a vow to
Danusia Jurandowna?"

"You made a vow about the peacock's tufts, and you must get them, but
take Jagienka immediately."

"No," answered Zbyszko; "afterward when Danusia covered me with her veil,
I promised that I would marry her."

The blood began to rush to the abbot's face; his ears turned blue, and
his eyes bulged; he approached Zbyszko and said, in a voice muffled with

"Your vows are the chaff and I am the wind; understand! Ot!"

And he blew on Zbyszko's head so powerfully, that the net fell off and
the hair was scattered on his shoulders. Then Zbyszko frowned, and
looking into the abbot's eyes, he said:

"In my vows is my honor, and over my honor, I alone am the guardian!"

At this, the abbot not being accustomed to opposition, lost his breath to
such a degree, that for a time he could not speak. There was an
ill-omened silence, which finally was broken by Macko:

"Zbyszku!" exclaimed he, "come to your wits again! What is the matter
with you?"

Meanwhile the abbot raised his hand and pointing toward the youth, began
to shout:

"What is the matter with him? I know what is the matter; he has not the
heart of a nobleman, nor of a knight, but of a hare! That is the matter
with him; he is afraid of Cztan and Wilk!"

But Zbyszko, who had remained cool and calm, carelessly shrugged his
shoulders and answered:

"Owa! I broke their heads when I was in Krzesnia."

"For heaven's sake!" exclaimed Macko.

The abbot stared for a while at Zbyszko. Anger was struggling with
admiration in him, and his reason told him that from that fight, he might
derive some benefit for his plans.

Therefore having become cooler, he shouted to Zbyszko:

"Why didn't you tell us that before?"

"Because I was ashamed. I thought they would challenge me, as it is
customary for knights to do, to fight on horseback or on foot; but they
are bandits, not knights. Wilk first took a board from the table, Cztan
seized another and they both rushed against me! What could I do? I seized
a bench; well--you know!"

"Are they still alive?" asked Macko.

"Yes, they are alive, but they were hurt. They breathed when I left."

The abbot, rubbing his forehead, listened; then he suddenly jumped from
the chest, on which he had seated himself to be more comfortable and to
think the matter over, and exclaimed:

"Wait! I want to tell you something!"

"What?" asked Zbyszko.

"If you fought for Jagienka and injured them for her sake, then you are
really her knight, not Danusia's; and you must take Jagienka."

Having said this, he put his hands on his hips and looked at Zbyszko
triumphantly; but Zbyszko smiled and said:

"Hej! I knew very well why you wanted me to fight with them; but you have
not succeeded in your plans."

"Why? Speak!"

"Because I challenged them to deny that Danusia Jurandowna is the
prettiest and the most virtuous girl in the world; they took Jagienka's
part, and that is why there was a fight."

Having heard this, the abbot stood amazed, and only the frequent movement
of his eyes indicated that he was still alive. Finally he turned, opened
the door with his foot, and rushed into the other room; there he seized
the curved stick from the pilgrim's hands and began to strike the
_shpilmen_ with it, roaring like a wounded urus.

"To horse, you rascals! To horse, you dog-faiths! I will not put my foot
in this house again! To horse, he who believes in God, to horse!"

Then he opened the outer door and went into the court-yard, followed by
the frightened seminarists. They rushed to the stable and began to saddle
the horses. In vain Macko followed the abbot, and entreated him to
remain; swore that it was not his fault. The abbot cursed the house, the
people and the fields; when they brought him a horse, he jumped in the
saddle without touching the stirrups and galloped away looking, with his
large sleeves filled by the wind, like an enormous red bird. The
seminarists rushed after him, like a herd following its leader.

Macko stood looking after them for some time; but when they disappeared
in the forest, he returned slowly to the room and said to Zbyszko,
shaking his head sadly:

"See what you have done?"

"It would not have happened if I had gone away; and it is your fault that
I did not."


"Because I did not wish to leave you when you were sick."

"And what will you do now?"

"Now I shall go."


"To Mazowsze to see Danusia; and after that to search for peacock's tufts
among the Germans."

Macko was silent for a moment, then he said:

"He returned the 'letter,' but the mortgage is recorded in the
mortgage-book at the court. Now the abbot will not give us even a

"I do not care. You have money, and I do not need anything for my
journey. I will be received everywhere and my horses will be fed; if I
only had a suit of armor on my back and a sword in my hand, I would need
nothing else."

Macko began to think about everything that had happened. All his plans
and wishes had been frustrated. He had wished with his whole heart that
Zbyszko would marry Jagienka; but he now realized that this wish would
never be fulfilled; and considering the abbot's anger, the behavior of
Zbyszko toward Jagienka and finally the fight with Cztan and Wilk, he
concluded it would be better to allow Zbyszko to go.

"Ha!" said he, finally, "if you must seek for the peacock's feathers on
the heads of the Knights of the Cross, go then. Let the Lord Jesus' will
be accomplished. But I must go immediately to Zgorzelice; perhaps I will
succeed in appeasing their wrath if I implore pardon of the abbot and of
Zych; I care especially for the friendship of Zych."

Here he looked into Zbyszko's eyes and asked:

"Do you not regret Jagienka?"

"May God give her health and the best of everything!" answered Zbyszko.




Macko waited patiently for several days, hoping to receive some news from
Zgorzelice, or to hear that the abbot's anger had been appeased; finally
he became impatient and determined to go personally to see Zych.
Everything had happened contrary to his wishes, and now he was anxious to
know whether Zych was angry with him. He was afraid that the abbot would
never be reconciled with Zbyszko and him. He wanted, however, to do
everything he could, to soften that anger; therefore while riding, he was
thinking what he would say in Zgorzelice, to palliate the offence and
preserve the old friendship with his neighbor. His thoughts, however,
were not clear, therefore he was glad to find Jagienka alone; the girl
received him as usual with a bow and kissed his hand,--in a word, she was
friendly, but a little sad.

"Is your father home?" asked he.

"He went out hunting with the abbot. They may be back at any moment."

Having said this, she conducted him into the house, where they both sat
in silence for a long time; the girl spoke first, and said:

"Are you lonely now in Bogdaniec?"

"Very lonely," answered Macko. "Then you knew that Zbyszko had gone

Jagienka sighed softly:

"Yes, I knew it the very same day; I thought he would come here to bid me
good-bye, but he did not."

"How could he come!" said Macko. "The abbot would have torn him to
pieces; neither would your father have welcomed him."

She shook her head and said:

"Ej! I would not allow anybody to injure him."

Upon this Macko hugged the girl and said:

"God be with you, girl! You are sad, but I also am sad. Let me tell you
that neither the abbot nor your own father loves you more than I do. I
wish that Zbyszko had chosen you, and not another."

There came upon Jagienka such a moment of grief and longing, that she
could not conceal her feelings, but said:

"I shall never see him again, or if I see him, it will be with
Jurandowna, and then I will cry my eyes out."

She raised her apron and covered her eyes, which were filled with tears.

Macko said:

"Stop crying! He has gone, but with God's grace, he will not come back
with Jurandowna."

"Why not?" said Jagienka, from behind her apron.

"Because Jurand does not want to give him the girl."

Then Jagienka suddenly uncovered her face, and having turned toward
Macko, said to him:

"Zbyszko told me that; but is it true?"

"As true as that God is in heaven."

"But why?"

"Who knows why. Some vow, or something like that, and there is no
remission for vows! He liked Zbyszko, because the boy promised to help
him in his vengeance; but even that was useless. Jurand would listen
neither to persuasion, nor to command, nor to prayers. He said he could
not. Well, there must be some reason why he could not do it, and he will
not change his mind, because he is stern and unyielding. Don't lose hope
but cheer up. Rightly speaking, the boy was obliged to go, because he had
sworn in the church to secure three peacocks' crests. Then, also, the
girl covered him with her veil, which was a sign that she would take him
for her husband; otherwise they would have beheaded him; for that, he
must be grateful to her--one cannot deny it. With God's help, she will
not be his; but according to the law, he is hers. Zych is angry with him;
the abbot has sent a plague upon him, so that his skin shivers; I am
angry also, but if one thinks carefully, what else could he do? Since he
belonged to the other girl, he was obliged to go. He is a nobleman. But I
tell you this; if the Germans do not kill him, then he will come back;
and he will come back not only to me an old man, not only to Bogdaniec,
but to you, because he was very fond of you."

"I don't believe he was!" said Jagienka.

But she drew near Macko, and having touched him with her elbow, she

"How do you know it? I am sure that is not true."

"How do I know?" answered Macko. "I saw how difficult it was for him to
go away. When it was decided that he must go, I asked him: 'Do you not
regret Jagienka?' and he said: 'May God give her health and the best of
everything.' Then immediately he began to sigh."

"I am sure that it is not true!" said Jagienka, softly; "but tell me

"As God is dear to me, it is true! After seeing you, he will not care for
the other girl, because you know yourself that there is no girl more
beautiful than you in the whole world. He has felt God's will toward
you--do not fear--perhaps even more than you have felt it toward him."

"Not at all!" exclaimed Jagienka. Then she again covered her face, which
was as rosy as an apple, with her sleeve; Macko smiled, passed his hand
over his moustache and said:

"Hej! if I were only younger; but you must comfort yourself, because I
see how it will be. He will get his spurs at the Mazowiecki court,
because that is near the boundary and it is not difficult to kill a
Krzyzak there. I know that there are good knights among the Germans; but
I think that it will take a very good one to defeat Zbyszko. See how he
routed Cztan of Rogow and Wilk of Brzozowa, although they are said to be
dreadful boys and as strong as bears. He will bring his crests, but he
will not bring Jurandowna."

"But when will he return?"

"Bah I if you are not willing to wait, then you will not be wronged.
Repeat what I have told you to the abbot and to Zych; perhaps they will
not be so angry with Zbyszko."

"How can I tell them anything? _Tatus_ is more sorrowful than angry; but
it is dangerous even to mention Zbyszko's name to the abbot. He scolded
me because I sent Zbyszko a servant."

"What servant?"

"We had a Czech, whom _tatus_ captured at Boleslawiec, a good, faithful
boy. His name was Hlawa. _Tatus_ gave him to my service, because he was a
_wlodyka_; I gave him a worthy armor and sent him to Zbyszko, to serve
and protect him. I also gave him a bag of money for the journey. He
promised me that he would serve Zbyszko faithfully until death."

"My dear girl! may God reward you! Was Zych opposed to your doing it?"

"Yes, at first _tatus_ did not want to let me do it; but when I began to
coax him, then he consented. When the abbot heard about it from his
seminarists, he immediately rushed out of the room swearing; there was
such a disturbance, that _tatus_ escaped to the barn. Toward evening, the
abbot took pity on my tears and even made me a present of some beads."

"As God is dear to me, I do not know whether I love Zbyszko any better
than I love you; but he had a worthy retinue. I also gave him money,
although he did not want to take it. Well, the Mazurs are not beyond the

The conversation was interrupted by the barking of dogs, by shouting and
by the sounds of brass trumpets in front of the house. Having heard this,
Jagienka said:

"_Tatus_ and the abbot have returned from hunting. Let us go outside; it
will be better for the abbot to see you there, and not to meet you
unexpectedly in the house."

Having said this, she conducted Macko out-of-doors; in the courtyard, on
the snow they perceived a throng of men, horses and dogs, also elks and
wolves pierced with spears or shot with crossbows. The abbot saw Macko
before he dismounted, and hurled a spear toward him, not to strike him,
but to show in that way, his great anger against the inhabitants of
Bogdaniec. But Macko uncovered and bowed to him as if he noticed nothing
unusual; Jagienka, however, had not noticed the abbot's action, because
she was very much surprised to see her two wooers in the retinue.

"Cztan and Wilk are here!" she exclaimed; "I presume they met _tatus_ in
the forest."

Immediately the thought ran through Macko's mind, that perhaps one of
them would get Jagienka, and with her Moczydoly, the abbot's lands,
forests and money. Then grief and anger filled his heart, especially when
he perceived what occurred. Behold, Wilk of Brzozowa, although only a
short time before the abbot wanted to fight with his father, sprang to
the abbot's stirrups, and helped him to dismount; and the abbot leaned in
a friendly manner on the young nobleman's shoulder.

"In that way, the abbot will become reconciled with old Wilk," thought
Macko, "and he will give the forests and the lands with the girl."

His sad thoughts were interrupted by Jagienka who said:

"They are soon cured after Zbyszko's beating; but even if they come here
every day, it will not benefit them!"

Macko looked and saw that the girl's face was red with anger, and that
her blue eyes sparkled with indignation, although she knew very well that
Cztan and Wilk had taken her part in the inn, and had been beaten on her

Therefore Macko said:

"Bah! you will do as the abbot commands."

She immediately retorted:

"The abbot will do what I wish."

"Gracious Lord!" thought Macko, "and that stupid Zbyszko left such a


Zbyszko had left Bogdaniec with a sad heart indeed. In the first place he
felt strange without his uncle, from whom he had never been separated
before, and to whom he was so accustomed, that he did not know how he
would get along without him during the journey, as well as in the war.
Then he regretted Jagienka. Although he was going to Danusia whom he
loved dearly, still he had been so comfortable and happy with Jagienka,
that now he felt sad without her. He was surprised himself at his grief,
and even somewhat alarmed about it. He would not have minded if he longed
for Jagienka only as a brother longs for a sister; but he noticed that he
longed to embrace her, to put her on horseback, to carry her over the
brooks, to wring the water from her tress, to wander with her in the
forest, to gaze at her, and to converse with her. He was so accustomed to
doing all this and it was so pleasant, that when he began to think about
it, he forgot that he was going on a long journey to Mazury; instead of
that, he remembered the moment when Jagienka helped him in the forest,
when he was struggling with the bear. It seemed to him as though it
happened only yesterday; also as though it were only yesterday when they
went to the Odstajny lake for beavers. Then he recalled how beautifully
she was dressed when going to church in Krzesnia, and how surprised he
was that such a simple girl should appear like the daughter of a mighty
lord. All these thoughts filled his heart with uneasiness, sweetness, and

"Had I only bid her good-bye," he said to himself, "perhaps I would feel
easier now."

Finally he became afraid of these reminiscences, and he shook them from
his mind like dry snow from his mantle.

"I am going to Danusia, to my dearest," he said to himself.

He noticed that this was a more holy love. Gradually his feet grew colder
in the stirrups, and the cold wind cooled his blood. All his thoughts now
turned to Danusia Jurandowna. He belonged to her without any doubt; but
for her, he would have been beheaded on the Krakowski square. When she
said in the presence of the knights and burghers: "He is mine!" she
rescued him from the hands of the executioners; from that time, he
belonged to her, as a slave to his master. Jurand's opposition was
useless. She alone could drive him away; and even then he would not go
far, because he was bound by his vow. He imagined, however, that she
would not drive him away; but rather that she would follow him from the
Mazowiecki court, even to the end of the world. Then he began to praise
her to himself to Jagienka's disadvantage, as if it were her fault, that
temptations assailed him and his heart was divided. Now he forgot that
Jagienka cured old Macko; he forgot that without her help, the bear would
have torn him to pieces; and he became enraged with her, hoping in this
way to please Danusia and to justify himself in his own eyes.

At this moment the Czech, Hlawa, sent by Jagienka, arrived, leading a

"Be blessed!" said he, with a low bow.

Zbyszko had seen him once or twice in Zgorzelice, but he did not
recognize him; therefore he said:

"Be blessed for ages and ages! Who are you?"

"Your servant, famous lord."

"What do you mean? These are my servants," said Zbyszko, pointing to the
two Turks, given to him by Sulimczyk Zawisza, and to two sturdy men who
sitting on horseback, were leading the knight's stallions; "these are
mine; who sent you?"

"_Panna_ Jagienka Zychowna of Zgorzelice."

"_Panna_ Jagienka?"

A while ago, Zbyszko had been angry with her and his heart was still full
of wrath; therefore he said:

"Return home and thank the _panna_ for the favor; I do not want you."

But the Czech shook his head.

"I cannot return. They have given me to you; besides that, I have sworn
to serve you until death."

"If they gave you to me, then you are my servant."

"Yours, sir."

"Then I command you to return."

"I have sworn; although I am a prisoner from Boleslawiec and a poor boy,
still I am a _wlodyczka_."[87]

Zbyszko became angry:

"Go away! What; are you going to serve me against my will? Go away,
before I order my servants to bend their crossbows."

But the Czech quietly untied a broadcloth mantle, lined with wolf-skins,
handed it to Zbyszko and said:

"_Panna_ Jagienka sent you this, also, sir."

"Do you wish me to break your bones?" asked Zbyszko, taking a spear from
an attendant.

"Here is also a bag of money for your disposal," answered the Czech.

Zbyszko was ready to strike him with the lance, but he recollected that
the boy, although a prisoner, was by birth a _wlodyka_, who had remained
with Zych only because he did not have money to pay his ransom;
consequently Zbyszko dropped the spear.

Then the Czech bent to his stirrups and said:

"Be not angry, sir. If you do not wish me to accompany you, I will follow
you at a distance of one or two furlongs; but I must go, because I have
sworn to do so upon the salvation of my soul."

"If I order my servants to kill you or to bind you?"

"If you order them to kill me, that will not be my sin; and if you order
them to bind me, then I will remain until some good people untie me, or
until the wolves devour me."

Zbyszko did not reply; he urged his horse forward and his attendants
followed him. The Czech with a crossbow and an axe on his shoulder,
followed them, shielding himself with a shaggy bison skin, because a
sharp wind carrying flakes of snow, began to blow. The storm grew worse
and worse. The Turks, although dressed in sheepskin coats, were chilled
with cold; Zbyszko himself, not being dressed very warmly, glanced
several times at the mantle lined with wolf-fur, which Hlawa had brought
him; after a while, he told one of the Turks to give it to him.

Having wrapped himself with it carefully, he felt a warmth spreading all
over his body. He covered his eyes and the greater part of his face with
the hood of the mantle, so that the wind did not annoy him any more.
Then, involuntarily, he thought how good Jagienka had been to him. He
reined in his horse, called the Czech, and asked him about her, and about
everything that had happened in Zgorzelice.

"Does Zych know that the _panna_ sent you to me?" he said.

"He knows it," answered Hlawa.

"Was he not opposed to it?"

"He was."

"Tell me then all about it."

"The _pan_ was walking in the room and the _panna_ followed him. He
shouted, but the _panienka_ said nothing; but when he turned toward her,
she kneeled but did not utter one word. Finally the _panisko_[88] said:
'Have you become deaf, that you do not answer my questions? Speak then;
perhaps I will consent.' Then the _panna_ understood that she could do as
she wished and began to thank him. The _pan_ reproached her, because she
had persuaded him, and complained that he must always do as she wished;
finally he said: 'Promise me that you will not go secretly to bid him
good-bye; then I will consent, but not otherwise.' Then the _panienka_
became very sorrowful, but she promised; the _pan_ was satisfied, because
the abbot and he were both afraid that she would see you. Well, that was
not the end of it; afterward the _panna_ wanted to send two horses, but
the _pan_ would not consent; the _panna_ wanted to send a wolf-skin and a
bag of money, but the _pan_ refused. His refusal did not amount to
anything, however! If she wanted to set the house on fire, the _panisko_
would finally consent. Therefore I brought two horses, a wolf-skin and a
bag of money."

"Good girl!" thought Zbyszko. After a while he asked:

"Was there no trouble with the abbot?" The Czech, an intelligent
attendant, who understood what happened around him, smiled and answered:

"They were both careful to keep everything secret from the abbot; I do
not know what happened when he learned about it, after I left Zgorzelice.
Sometimes he shouts at the _panienka_; but afterward he watches her to
see if he did not wrong her. I saw him myself one time after he had
scolded her, go to his chest and bring out such a beautiful chain that
one could not get a better one even in Krakow, and give it to her. She
will manage the abbot also, because her own father does not love her any
more than he does."

"That is certainly true."

"As God is in heaven!"

Then they became silent and rode along amidst wind and snow. Suddenly
Zbyszko reined in his horse; from the forest beside the road, there was
heard a plaintive voice, half stifled by the roar of the wind:

"Christians, help God's servant in his misfortune!"

Thereupon a man who was dressed partly in clerical clothing, rushed to
the road and began to cry to Zbyszko:

"Whoever you are, sir, help a fellow-creature who has met with a dreadful

"What has happened to you, and who are you?" asked the young knight.

"I am God's servant, although not yet ordained; this morning the horse
which was carrying my chests containing holy things, ran away. I remained
alone, without weapons; evening is approaching, and soon the wild beasts
will begin to roar in the forest. I shall perish, unless you succor me."

"If I let you perish," answered Zbyszko, "I will be accountable for your
sins; but how can I believe that you are speaking the truth. You may be a
highway robber, like many others wandering on the roads!"

"You may believe me, sir, for I will show you the chests. Many a man
would give a purse full of gold for what is in them; but I will give you
some of it for nothing, if you take me and the chests with you."

"You told me that you were God's servant, and yet you do not know that
one must give help, not for earthly recompense, but for spiritual reward.
But how is it that you have the chests now if the horse carried them

"The wolves devoured the horse in the forest, but the chests remained; I
brought them to the road, and then waited for mercy and help."

Wishing to prove that he was speaking the truth, he pointed to two chests
made of leather, lying under a pine tree. Zbyszko still looked at him
suspiciously, because the man did not look honest, and his speech
indicated that he came from a distant part of the country. He did not
refuse to help him, however, but permitted him to ride the horse led by
the Czech and take the chests, which proved to be very light.

"May God multiply your victories, valiant knight!" said the stranger.

Then, seeing Zbyszko's youthful face, be added softly:

"And the hairs of your beard, also."

He rode beside the Czech. For a time they could not talk, because a
strong wind was blowing, and roaring in the forest; but when it
decreased, Zbyszko heard the following conversation behind him.

"I don't deny that you were in Rome; but you look like a beer drunkard,"
said the Czech.

"Look out for eternal damnation," answered the stranger; "you are talking
to a man who last Easter ate hard boiled eggs with the holy father. Don't
speak to me in such cold weather about beer; but if you have a flask of
wine with you, then give me two or three swallows of it, and I will
pardon you a month of purgatory."

"You have not been ordained; I heard you say you had not. How then can
you grant me pardon for a month of purgatory?"

"I have not received ordination, but I have my head shaved, because I
received permission for that; beside, I am carrying indulgences and

"In the chests?" asked the Czech.

"Yes, in the chests. If you saw all I have there, you would fall on your
face, not only you, but all the pines in the forest and all the wild

But the Czech, being an intelligent and experienced attendant, looked
suspiciously at this peddler of indulgences, and said:

"The wolves devoured your horse?"

"Yes, they devoured him, because they are the devil's relatives. If you
have any wine, give me some; although the wind has ceased, yet I am
frozen, having sat by the road so long."

The Czech would not give him any wine; and they rode along silently,
until the stranger began to ask:

"Where are you going?"

"Far. At first to Sieradz. Are you going with us?"

"I must. I will sleep in the stable, and perhaps to-morrow this pious
knight will give me a present of a horse; then I will go further."

"Where are you from?"

"From under Prussian lords, not far from Marienburg."

Having heard this, Zbyszko turned and motioned to the stranger to come
nearer to him.

"Did you come from Marienburg?" said he

"Yes, sir."

"But are you a German? You speak our language very well. What is your

"I am a German, and they call me Sanderus; I speak your language well,
because I was born in Torun, where everybody speaks that language; then I
lived in Marienburg, and there it is the same. Bah! even the brothers of
the Order understand your language."

"How long since you left Marienburg?"

"I was in the Holy Land, then in Constantinople, and in Rome; thence
through France I came to Marienburg and from there I was going to
Mazowsze, carrying the holy relics which pious Christians buy willingly,
for the salvation of their souls."

"Have you been in Plock or in Warszawa?"

"I was in both cities. May God give good health to both of the
princesses! Princess Alexandra is greatly esteemed even by the Prussian
lords, because she is a pious lady; the princess Anna Januszowna is also

"Did you see the court in Warszawa?"

"I did not see it in Warszawa but in Ciechanow, where both the princesses
received me hospitably, and gave me munificent presents, as God's servant
deserves to receive. I left them relics, which will bring them God's

Zbyszko wanted to ask about Danusia; but he understood that it would be
unwise to make a confidant of this stranger, a man of low origin.
Therefore, after a short silence, he asked:

"What kind of relics are you carrying?"

"I carry indulgences and relics; the indulgences are different kinds;
there are total indulgences, some for five hundred years, some for three
hundred, some for two hundred and some for less time, which are cheaper,
so that even poor people can buy them and shorten the torments of
purgatory. I have indulgences for future and for past sins; but don't
think, sir, that I keep the money I receive for them. I am satisfied with
a piece of black bread and a glass of water--that is all for me; the rest
I carry to Rome, to accumulate enough for a new crusade. It is true,
there are many swindlers who carry false indulgences, false relics, false
seals and false testimonials; and they are righteously pursued by the
holy father's letters; but I was wronged by the prior of Sieradz, because
my seals are authentic. Look, sir, at the wax and tell me what you think
of them."

"What about the prior of Sieradz?"

"Ah, sir! I fear that he is infected with Wiklef's heresy. If, as your
shield-bearer told me, you are going to Sieradz, it will be better for me
not to show myself to him, because I do not want to lead him into the sin
of blasphemy against holy things."

"This means, speaking frankly, that he thinks that you are a swindler."

"If the question were about myself, I would pardon him for the sake of
brotherly love; but he has blasphemed against my holy wares, for which, I
am very much afraid, he will be eternally damned."

"What kind of holy wares have you?"

"It is not right to talk about them with covered head; but this time,
having many indulgences ready, I give you, sir, permission to keep your
cowl on, because the wind is blowing again. For that you will buy an
indulgence and the sin will not be counted against you. What have I not?
I have a hoof of the ass on which the Holy Family rode during the flight
into Egypt; it was found near the pyramids. The king of Aragon offered me
fifty ducats for it. I have a feather from the wings of the archangel
Gabriel, which he dropped during the annunciation; I have the heads of
two quails, sent to the Israelites in the desert; I have the oil in which
the heathen wanted to fry St. John; a step of the ladder about which
Jacob dreamed; the tears of St. Mary of Egypt and some rust of St.
Peter's keys. But I cannot mention any more. I am very cold and your
shield-bearer would not give me any wine."

"Those are great relics, if they are authentic!" said Zbyszko.

"If they are authentic? Take the spear from your attendant and aim it,
because the devil is near and brings such thoughts to you. Hold him, sir,
at the length of the spear. If you do not wish to bring some misfortune
on yourself, then buy an indulgence from me; otherwise within three weeks
somebody whom you love, will die."

Zbyszko was frightened at this threat, because he thought about Danusia,
and said:

"It is not I, but the prior of the Dominicans in Sieradz who does not

"Look, sir, for yourself, at the wax on the seals; as for the prior, I do
not know whether he is still living, because God's justice is quick."

But when they came to Sieradz they found the prior alive. Zbyszko went to
see him, and purchased two masses; one of which was to be read to insure
success for Macko's vow, and the other to insure success for his vow to
obtain three peacocks' crests. The prior was a foreigner, having been
born in Cylia; but during his forty years' residence in Sieradz, he had
learned the Polish language very well, and was a great enemy of the
Knights of the Cross. Therefore, having learned about Zbyszko's
enterprise, he said:

"A still greater punishment will fall upon them; but I shall not dissuade
you, because you promised it upon your knightly honor; neither can there
be punishment enough administered by Polish hands for the wrongs they
hare perpetrated in this land."

"What have they done?" asked Zbyszko, who was anxious to hear about the
iniquities of the Knights of the Cross.


The old prior crossed his hands and began to recite aloud "The eternal
rest;"[89] then he sat down on a bench and kept his eyes closed for a
while as if to collect his thoughts; finally he began to talk:

"Wincenty of Szamotul brought them here. I was twenty years old then, and
I had just come from Cylia with my uncle Petzoldt. The Krzyzaks attacked
the town and set it on fire. We could see from the walls, how in the
market square they cut men and women's heads off, and how they threw
little children into the fire. They even killed the priests, because in
their fury they spared nobody. The prior Mikolaj, having been born in
Elblong, was acquainted with _Comthur_ Herman, the chief of their army.
Therefore he went accompanied by the senior brothers, to that dreadful
knight, and having kneeled before him, entreated him in German, to have
pity on Christian blood. _Comthur_ Herman replied: "I do not understand,"
and ordered his soldiers to continue killing the people. They slaughtered
the monks also, among them my uncle Petzoldt; the prior Mikolaj was tied
to a horse's tail. The next morning there was no man alive in this town
except the Krzyzaks and myself. I hid on a beam in the belfry. God
punished them at Plowce;[90] but they still want to destroy this
Christian kingdom, and nothing will deter them unless God's arm crush

"At Plowce," said Zbyszko, "almost all the men of my family perished; but
I do not regret it, for God granted a great victory to the king
Lokietek,[91] and twenty thousand Germans were destroyed.

"You will see a still greater war and a greater victory," said the prior.

"Amen!" answered Zbyszko.

Then they began to talk about other matters. The young knight asked about
the peddler of relics whom he met on the road. He learned that many
similar swindlers were wandering on the roads, cheating credulous people.
The prior also told him that there were papal bulls ordering the bishops
to examine such peddlers and immediately punish those who did not have
authentic letters and seals. The testimonials of the stranger seemed
spurious to the prior; therefore he wanted to deliver him to the bishop's
jurisdiction. If he proved that he was sent by the pope, then no harm
would be done him. He escaped, however. Perhaps he was afraid of the
delay in his journey; but on account of this flight, he had drawn on
himself still greater suspicion.

The prior invited Zbyszko to remain and pass the night in the monastery;
but he would not, because he wanted to hang in front of the inn an
inscription challenging all knights who denied that _Panna_ Danuta
Jurandowna was the most beautiful and the most virtuous girl in the
kingdom, to a combat on horseback or on foot. It was not proper to hang
such a challenge over the gate of the monastery. When he arrived at the
inn, he asked for Sanderus.

"The prior thinks you are a scoundrel," said Zbyszko, "because he said:
'Why should he be afraid of the bishop's judgment, if he had good

"I am not afraid of the bishop," answered Sanderus; "I am afraid of the
monks, who do not know anything about seals. I wanted to go to Krakow,
but I have no horse; therefore I must wait until somebody makes me a
present of one. Meanwhile, I will send a letter, and I will put my own
seal on it."

"If you show that you know how to write, that will prove that you are not
a churl; but how will you send the letter?"

"By some pilgrim, or wandering monk. There are many people going on a
pilgrimage to the queen's tomb."

"Can you write a card for me?"

"I will write, sir, even on a board, anything you wish."

"I think it will be better on a board," said Zbyszko, "because it will
not tear and I can use it again later on."

In fact, after awhile the attendants brought a new board and Sanderus
wrote on it. Zbyszko could not read what was written on the board; but he
ordered it fastened with nails on the door of the inn, under it to be
hung a shield, which was watched by the Turks alternately. Whoever struck
the shield would declare that he wished to fight. But neither that day
nor the following day, did the shield resound from a blow; and in the
afternoon the sorrowful knight was ready to pursue his journey.

Before that, however, Sanderus came to Zbyszko and said to him:

"Sir, if you hang your shield in the land of the Prussian lords, I am
sure your shield-bearer will buckle your armor."

"What do you mean! Don't you know that a Krzyzak, being a monk, cannot
have a lady nor be in love with one, because it is forbidden him."

"I do not know whether it is forbidden them or not; but I know that they
have them. It is true that a Krzyzak cannot fight a duel without bringing
reproach on himself, because he swore that he would fight only for the
faith; but besides the monks, there are many secular knights from distant
countries, who came to help the Prussian lords. They are looking for some
one to fight with, and especially the French knights."

"_Owa!_ I saw them at Wilno, and with God's permission I shall see them
in Marienburg. I need the peacocks' crests from their helmets, because I
made a vow--do you understand?"

"Sir, I will sell you two or three drops of the perspiration, which St.
George shed while fighting with the dragon. There is no relic, which
could be more useful to a knight. Give me the horse for it, on which you
permitted me to ride; then I will also give you an indulgence for the
Christian blood which you will shed in the fight."

"Let me be, or I shall become angry. I shall not buy your wares until I
know they are genuine."

"You are going, sir, so you have said, to the Mazowiecki court. Ask there
how many relics they bought from me, the princess herself, the knights
and the girls for their weddings, at which I was present."

"For what weddings?" asked Zbyszko.

"As is customary before advent, the knights were marrying as soon as they
could, because the people are expecting that there will be a war between
the Polish king and the Prussian lords about the province of Dobrzyn.
Therefore some of them say: 'God knows whether I shall return.'"

Zbyszko was very anxious to hear about the war, but still more anxious to
hear about the weddings, of which Sanderus was talking; therefore he

"Which girls were married there?"

"The princess' ladies-in-waiting. I do not know whether even one
remained, because I heard the princess say that she would be obliged to
look for other attendants."

Having heard this, Zbyszko was silent for awhile; then he asked in an
altered voice:

"Was _Panna_ Danuta Jurandowna, whose name is on the board, married

Sanderus hesitated before he answered. He did not know anything correctly
himself; then he thought that if he kept the knight anxious and
perplexed, he would have more influence over him. He wanted to retain his
power over this knight who had a goodly retinue, and was well provided
with everything.

Zbyszko's youth led him to suppose that he would be a generous lord,
without forethought and careless of money. He had noticed already the
costly armor made in Milan, and the enormous stallions, which everybody
could not possess; then he assured himself that if he traveled with such
a knight, he would receive hospitality in noblemen's houses, and a good
opportunity to sell his indulgences; he would be safe during the journey,
and have abundance of food and drink, about which he cared greatly.

Therefore having heard Zbyszko's question, he frowned, lifted his eyes as
if he were trying to recollect, and answered:

"_Panna_ Danuta Jurandowna? Where is she from?"

"Jurandowna Danuta of Spychow."

"I saw all of them, but I cannot remember their names."

"She is very young; she plays the lute, and amuses the princess with her

"Aha--young--plays the lute--there were some young ones married also. Is
she dark like an agate?"

Zbyszko breathed more freely.

"No, that was not she! Danusia is as white as snow, but has pink cheeks."

To this Sanderus replied:

"One of them, dark as an agate, remained with the princess; the others
were almost all married."

"You say 'almost all,' therefore not all. For God's sake, if you wish to
get anything from me, then try to recollect."

"In two or three days I could recollect; the best way will be to give me
a horse, on which I can carry my holy wares."

"You will get it if you only tell me the truth."

At that moment the Czech, who was listening to the conversation, smiled
and said:

"The truth will be known at the Mazowiecki court."

Sanderus looked at him for a while; then he said:

"Do you think that I am afraid of the Mazowiecki court?"

"I do not say you are afraid of the Mazowiecki court; but neither now,
nor after three days will you go away with the horse. If it prove that
you were lying, then you will not be able to go on your feet either,
because my lord will order me to break them."

"Be sure of that!" answered Zbyszko.

Sanderus now thought that it would be wiser to be more careful, and said:

"If I wanted to lie, I would have said immediately whether she was
married or not; but I said: 'I don't remember.' If you had common sense,
you would recognize my virtue by that answer."

"My common sense is not a brother of your virtue, because that is the
sister of a dog."

"My virtue does not bark, as your common sense does; and the one who
barks when alive, may howl after death."

"That is sure! Your virtue will not howl after your death; it will gnash
its teeth, provided it does not lose its teeth in the service of the
devil while living." Thus they quarreled; the Czech's tongue was ready,
and for every word of the German, he answered two. Zbyszko having asked
about the road to Lenczyca, ordered the retinue to move forward. Beyond
Sieradz, they entered thick forests which covered the greater part of the
country; but the highways through these forests, had been paved with logs
and ditches dug along the sides, by the order of King Kazimierz. It is
true that after his death, during the disturbances of the war aroused by
Nalenczs and Grzymalits, the roads were neglected; but during Jadwiga's
reign, when peace was restored to the kingdom, shovels were again busy in
the marshes, and axes in the forests; soon everywhere between the
important cities, merchants could conduct their loaded wagons in safety.
The only danger was from wild beasts and robbers; but against the beasts,
they had lanterns for night, and crossbows for defence during the day;
then there were fewer highway robbers than in other countries, and one
who traveled with an armed retinue, need fear nothing.

Zbyszko was not afraid of robbers nor of armed knights; he did not even
think about them. But he was filled with great anxiety, and longed with
his whole soul to be at the Mazowiecki court. Would he find Danusia still
a lady-in-waiting of the princess, or the wife of some Mazowiecki knight?
Sometimes it seemed to him impossible that she should forget him; then
sometimes he thought that perhaps Jurand went to the court from Spychow
and married the girl to some neighbor or friend. Jurand had told him in
Krakow, that he could not give Danusia to him; therefore it was evident
that he had promised her to somebody else; evidently he was bound by an
oath, and now he had fulfilled his promise. Zbyszko called Sanderus and
questioned him again; but the German prevaricated more and more.

Therefore, Zbyszko was riding along, sad and unhappy. He did not think
about Bogdaniec, nor about Zgorzelice, but only how he should act. First,
it was necessary to ascertain the truth at the Mazowiecki court;
therefore, he rode hastily, only stopping for a short time at the houses
of noblemen, in the inns and in the cities to rest the horses. He had
never ceased to love Danusia; but while in Bogdaniec and Zgorzelice,
chatting almost every day with Jagienka and admiring her beauty, he had
not thought about Danusia often. Now she was constantly in his thoughts,
day and night. Even in his sleep, he saw her standing before him, with a
lute in her hands and a garland on her head. She stretched her hands
toward him, and Jurand drew her away. In the morning, when the dreams
disappeared, a greater longing came, and he loved this girl more than
ever now, when he was uncertain whether they had taken her from him or

Sometimes he feared that they had married her against her will;
therefore, he was not angry with her, as she was only a child and could
not have her own will. But he was angry with Jurand and with Princess
Januszowna. He determined that he would not cease to serve her; even if
he found her somebody else's wife, he would deposit the peacocks' crests
at her feet.

Sometimes he was consoled by the thought of a great war. He felt that
during the war, he would forget about everything and that he would escape
all sorrows and griefs. The great war seemed suspended in the air. It was
not known whence the news came, because there was peace between the king
and the Order; nevertheless, wherever Zbyszko went, nothing else was
talked about. The people had a presentiment that it would come, and some
of them said openly: "Why were we united with Litwa, if not against those
wolves, the Knights of the Cross? Therefore we must finish with them once
for all, or they will destroy us." Others said: "Crazy monks! They are
not satisfied with Plowce! Death is over them, and still they have taken
the land of Dobrzyn."

In all parts of the kingdom, they were making preparations, gravely,
without boasting, as was customary for a fight for life or death; but
with the silent, deadly grudge of a mighty nation, which had suffered
wrongs for a long time, and finally was ready to administer a terrible
punishment. In all the houses of the nobility, Zbyszko met people who
were convinced that at any moment one might be obliged to mount his
horse. Zbyszko was pleased to see these hasty preparations which he met
at every step. Everywhere other cares gave way to thoughts about horses
and armor. Everywhere the people were gravely inspecting spears, swords,
axes, helmets and javelins. The blacksmiths were busy day and night,
hammering iron sheets and making heavy armor, which could hardly be
lifted by the refined western knights, but which the strong noblemen of
Wielko and Malopolska could wear very easily. The old people were pulling
out musty bags full of _grzywns_[92] from their chests, for the war
expedition of their children. Once Zbyszko passed the night in the house
of a wealthy nobleman, Bartosz of Bielaw, who having twenty-two sturdy
sons, pledged his numerous estates to the monastery in Lowicz, to
purchase twenty-two suits of armor, the same number of helmets and
weapons of war. Zbyszko now realized that it would be necessary to go to
Prussia, and he thanked God that he was so well provided.

Many thought that he was the son of a _wojewoda_; and when he told the
people that he was a simple nobleman, and that armor such as he wore,
could be bought from the Germans by paying for it with a good blow of an
axe, their hearts were filled with enthusiasm for war. Many a knight
seeing that armor, and desiring to possess it, followed Zbyszko, and
said: "Will you not fight for it?"

In Mazowsze, the people did not talk so much about the war. They also
believed that it would come, but they did not know when. In Warszawa
there was peace. The court was in Ciechanow, which Prince Janusz rebuilt
after the Lithuanian invasion; nothing of the old town remained, only the

In the city of Warszawa, Zbyszko was received by Jasko Socha, the
_starosta_[93] of the castle, and the son of the _wojewoda_ Abraham, who
was killed at Worskla. Jasko knew Zbyszko, because he was with the
princess in Krakow; therefore he received him hospitably and with joy;
but the young man, before he began to eat or drink, asked Jasko about
Danusia. But he did not know anything about her, because the prince and
the princess had been in Ciechanow since fall. In Warszawa there were
only a few archers and himself, to guard the castle. He had heard that
there had been feasts and weddings in Ciechanow; but he did not know
which girls were married.

"But I think," said he, "that Jurandowna is not married; it could not be
done without Jurand, and I have not heard of his arrival. There are two
brothers of the Order, _comthurs_, with the prince; one from Jansbork and
the other from Szczytno, and also some foreign guests; on such occasions,
Jurand never goes to the court, because the sight of a white mantle
enrages him. If Jurand were not there, there would be no wedding! If you
wish, I will send a messenger to ascertain and tell him to return,
immediately; but I firmly believe that you will find Jurandowna still a

"I am going there to-morrow myself; but may God reward you for your
kindness. As soon as the horses are rested, I will go, because I shall
have no peace, until I know the truth."

But Socha was not satisfied with that, and inquired among the nobles and
the soldiers if they had heard about Jurandowna's wedding. But nobody had
heard anything, although there were several among them who had been in

Meanwhile Zbyszko retired greatly relieved. While lying in bed he decided
to get rid of Sanderus; but afterward he thought that the scoundrel might
be useful to him because he could speak German. Sanderus had not told him
a falsehood; and although he was a costly acquisition, because he ate and
drank as much as four men would in the inns, still he was serviceable,
and showed some attachment for the young knight. Then he possessed the
art of writing, and that gave him a superiority over the shield-bearer,
the Czech, and even over Zbyszko himself. Consequently Zbyszko permitted
him to accompany his retinue to Ciechanow. Sanderus was glad of this,
because he noticed that being in respectable company, he won confidence
and found purchasers for his wares more easily. After stopping one night
in Nasielsk, riding neither too swiftly nor too slowly, they perceived
next day toward evening, the walls of the castle of Ciechanow. Zbyszko
stopped in an inn to don his armor, so as to enter the castle according
to knightly custom, with his helmet on his head and his spear in his
hand; then he mounted his enormous stallion, and having made the sign of
the cross in the air, he rushed forward. He had gone only a short
distance, when the Czech who was riding behind him, drew near and said:

"Your Grace, some knights are coming behind us; they must be Krzyzaks."

Zbyszko turned and saw about half a furlong behind him, a splendid
retinue at the head of which there were riding two knights on fine
Pomeranian horses, both in full armor, each of them wearing a white
mantle with a black cross, and a helmet having a high crest of peacock's

"For God's sake, Krzyzacy!" said Zbyszko.

Involuntarily he leaned forward in his saddle and aimed his spear; seeing
this the Czech seized his axe. The other attendants being experienced in
war, were also ready, not for a fight, because the servants did not
participate in single combat, but to measure the space for the fight on
horseback, or to level the ground for the fight on foot. The Czech alone,
being a nobleman, was ready to fight; but he expected that Zbyszko would
challenge before he attacked, and he was surprised to see the young
knight aim his spear before the challenge.

But Zbyszko came to his senses in time. He remembered how he attacked
Lichtenstein near Krakow, and all the misfortunes which followed;
therefore he raised the spear and handed it to the Czech. Without drawing
his sword, he galloped toward the Krzyzaks. When he came near them, he
noticed that there was a third knight, also with a peacock's crest on his
helmet, and a fourth, without armor, but having long hair, who seemed to
be a Mazur. Seeing them, he concluded that they must be some envoys to
the prince of Mazowiecki; therefore he said aloud:

"May Jesus Christ be praised!"

"For ages and ages!" answered the long-haired knight.

"May God speed you!"

"And you also, sir!"

"Glory be to St. George!"

"He is our patron. You are welcome, sir."

Then they began to bow; Zbyszko told his name, who he was, what his coat
of arms was, what his war-cry was and whence he was going to the
Mazowiecki court. The long-haired knight said that his name was Jendrek
of Kropiwnica and that he was conducting some guests to the prince;
Brother Godfried, Brother Rotgier, also Sir Fulko de Lorche of
Lotaringen, who being with the Knights of the Cross, wished to see the
prince and especially the princess, the daughter of the famous

While they were conversing, the foreign knights sat erect on their
horses, occasionally bending their heads which were covered with iron
helmets ornamented with peacocks' tufts. Judging from Zbyszko's splendid
armor, they thought that the prince had sent some important personage,
perhaps his own son, to meet them. Jendrek of Kropiwnica said further:

"The _comthur_, or as we would say the _starosta_ from Jansbork is at our
prince's castle; he told the prince about these knights; that they
desired to visit him, but that they did not dare, especially this knight
from Lotaringen, who being from a far country, thought that the Saracens
lived right beyond the frontier of the Knights of the Cross, and that
there was continual war with them. The prince immediately sent me to the
boundary, to conduct them safely to his castle."

"Could they not come without your help!"

"Our nation is very angry with the Krzyzaks, because of their great
treacherousness; a Krzyzak will hug and kiss you, but he is ready in the
same moment to stab you with a knife from behind; and such conduct is
odious to us Mazurs. Nevertheless anyone will receive even a German in
his house, and will not wrong his guest; but he would stop him on the
road. There are many who do this for vengeance, or for glory."

"Who among you is the most famous?"

"There is one whom all Germans fear to meet; his name is Jurand of

The heart of the young knight throbbed when he heard that name;
immediately he determined to question Jendrek of Kropiwnica.

"I know!" said he; "I heard about him; his daughter Danuta was
girl-in-waiting with the princess; afterward she was married."

Having said this, he looked sharply into the eyes of the Mazowiecki
knight, who answered with great astonishment:

"Who told you that? She is very young yet. It is true that it sometimes
happens that very young girls are married, but Jurandowna is not married.
I left Ciechanow six days ago and I saw her then with the princess. How
could she marry during advent?"

Zbyszko having heard this, wanted to seize the knight by the neck and
shout: "May God reward you for the news!" but he controlled himself, and

"I heard that Jurand gave her to some one."

"It was the princess who wished to give her, but she could not do it
against Jurand's will. She wanted to give her to a knight in Krakow, who
made a vow to the girl, and whom she loves."

"Does she love him?" exclaimed Zbyszko.

At this Jendrek looked sharply at him, smiled and said:

"Do you know, you are too inquisitive about that girl."

"I am asking about my friend to whom I am going."

One could hardly see Zbyszko's face under the helmet; but his nose and
cheeks were so red that the Mazur, who was fond of joking, said:

"I am afraid that the cold makes your face red!"

Then the young man grew still more confused, and answered:

"It must be that."

They moved forward and rode silently for some time; but after a while
Jendrek of Kropiwnica asked:

"What do they call you? I did not hear distinctly?"

"Zbyszko of Bogdaniec."

"For heaven's sake! The knight who made a vow to Jurandowna, had the same

"Do you think that I shall deny that I am he?" answered Zbyszko, proudly.

"There is no reason for doing so. Gracious Lord, then you are that
Zbyszko whom the girl covered with her veil! After the retinue returned
from Krakow, the women of the court talked about nothing else, and many
of them cried while listening to the story. Then you are he! Hej! how
happy they will be to see you at the court; even the princess is very
fond of you."

"May the Lord bless her, and you also for the good news. I suffered
greatly when I heard that Danusia was married."

"She is not married! Although she will inherit Spychow, and there are
many handsome youths at the court, yet not one of them looks into her
eyes, because all respect your vow; then the princess would not permit
it. Hej! there will be great joy. Sometimes they teased the girl! Some
one would tell her: 'Your knight will not come back!' Then she would
reply: 'He will be back! He will be back!' Sometimes they told her that
you had married another; then she cried."

These words made Zbyszko feel very tender; he also felt angry because
Danusia had been vexed; therefore he said:

"I shall challenge those who said such things about me!"

Jendrek of Kropiwnica began to laugh and said:

"The women teased her! Will you challenge a woman? You cannot do anything
with a sword against a distaff."

Zbyszko was pleased that he had met such a cheerful companion; he began
to ask Jendrek about Danusia. He also inquired about the customs of the
Mazowiecki court, about Prince Janusz, and about the princess. Finally he
told what he had heard about the war during his journey, and how the
people were making preparations for it, and were expecting it every day.
He asked whether the people in the principalities of Mazowsze, thought it
would soon come.

The heir of Kropiwnica did not think that the war was near. The people
said that it could not be avoided; but he had heard the prince himself
say to Mikolaj of Dlugolas, that the Knights of the Cross were very
peaceable now, and if the king only insisted, they would restore the
province of Dobrzyn to Poland; or they would try to delay the whole
affair, until they were well prepared,

"The prince went to Malborg a short time ago," said he, "where during the
absence of the grand master, the grand marshal received him and
entertained him with great hospitality; now there are some _comthurs_
here, and other guests are coming."

Here he stopped for a while, and then added:

"The people say that the Krzyzaks have a purpose in coming here and in
going to Plock to the court of Prince Ziemowit. They would like to have
the princes pledge themselves not to help the king but to aid them; or if
they do not agree to help the Krzyzaks, that at least they will remain
neutral; but the princes will not do that."

"God will not permit it. Would you stay home? Your princes belong to the
kingdom of Poland!"

"No, we would not stay home," answered Jendrek of Kropiwnica.

Zbyszko again glanced at the foreign knights, and at their peacocks'
tufts, and asked:

"Are these knights going for that purpose?"

"They are brothers of the Order and perhaps that is their motive. Who
understands them?"

"And that third one?"

"He is going because he is inquisitive."

"He must be some famous knight."

"Bah! three heavily laden wagons follow him, and he has nine men in his
escort. I would like to fight with such a man!"

"Can you not do it?"

"Of course not! The prince commanded me to guard them. Not one hair shall
fall from their heads until they reach Ciechanow."

"Suppose I challenge them? Perhaps they would desire to fight with me?"

"Then you would be obliged to fight with me first, because I will not
permit you to fight with them while I live."

Zbyszko looked at the young nobleman in a friendly way, and said:

"You understand what knightly honor is. I shall not fight with you,
because I am your friend; but in Ciechanow, God will help me to find some
pretext for a challenge to the Germans."

"In Ciechanow you can do what you please. I am sure there will be
tournaments; then you can fight, if the prince and the _comthurs_ give

"I have a board on which is written a challenge for anyone who will not
affirm that _Panna_ Danuta Jurandowna is the most virtuous and the most
beautiful girl in the world; but everywhere the people shrugged their
shoulders and laughed."

"Because it is a foreign custom; and speaking frankly, a stupid one which
is not known in our country, except near the boundaries. That Lotaringer
tried to pick a quarrel with some noblemen, asking them to praise some
lady of his; but nobody could understand him, and I would not let them

"What? He wanted to praise his lady? For God's sake!"

He looked closely at the foreign knight, and saw that his young face was
full of sadness, he also perceived with astonishment that the knight had
a rope made of hairs round his neck.

"Why does he wear that rope?" asked Zbyszko.

"I could not find out, because they do not understand our language,
Brother Rotgier can say a few words, but not very well either. But I
think that this young knight has made a vow to wear that rope until he
has accomplished some knightly deed. During the day, he wears it outside
of his armor, but during the night, on the bare flesh."

"Sanderus!" called Zbyszko, suddenly

"At your service," answered the German, approaching

"Ask this knight, who is the most virtuous and the most beautiful girl in
the world."

Sanderus repeated the question in German.

"Ulryka von Elner!" answered Fulko de Lorche.

Then he raised his eyes and began to sigh. Zbyszko hearing this answer,
was indignant, and reined in his stallion; but before he could reply,
Jendrek of Kropiwnica, pushed his horse between him and the foreigner,
and said:

"You shall not quarrel here!"

Zbyszko turned to Sanderus and said:

"Tell him that I say that he is in love with an owl."

"Noble knight, my master says that you are in love with an owl!" repeated
Sanderus, like an echo.

At this Sir de Lorche dropped his reins, drew the iron gauntlet from his
right hand and threw it in the snow in front of Zbyszko, who motioned to
the Czech to lift it with the point of his spear.

Jendrek of Kropiwnica, turned toward Zbyszko with a threatening face, and

"You shall not fight; I shall permit neither of you."

"I did not challenge him; he challenged me."

"But you called his lady an owl. Enough of this! I also know how to use a

"But I do not wish to fight with you."

"You will be obliged to, because I have sworn to defend the other

"Then what shall I do?" asked Zbyszko.

"Wait; we are near Ciechanow."

"But what will the German think?"

"Your servant must explain to him that he cannot fight here; that first
you must receive the prince's permission, and he, the _comthur's_."

"Bah! suppose they will not give permission."

"Then you will find each other. Enough of this talk."

Zbyszko, seeing that he could not do otherwise, because Jendrek of
Kropiwnica would not permit them to fight, called Sanderus, and told him
to explain to the Lotaringer knight, that they could fight only in
Ciechanow. De Lorche having listened, nodded to signify that he
understood; then having stretched his hand toward Zbyszko, he pressed the
palm three times, which according to the knightly custom, meant that they
must fight, no matter when or where. Then in an apparent good
understanding, they moved on toward the castle of Ciechanow, whose towers
one could see reflected on the pink sky.

It was daylight when they arrived; but after they announced themselves at

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