Part 6 out of 14
the gate, it was dark before the bridge was lowered. They were received
by Zbyszko's former acquaintance, Mikolaj of Dlugolas, who commanded the
garrison consisting of a few knights and three hundred of the famous
archers of Kurpie. To his great sorrow, Zbyszko learned that the
court was absent. The prince wishing to honor the _comthurs_ of Szczytno
and Jansbork, arranged for them a great hunting party in the Krupiecka
wilderness; the princess, with her ladies-in-waiting went also, to give
more importance to the occasion. Ofka, the widow of Krzych of
Jarzombkow, was key-keeper, and the only woman in the castle whom Zbyszko
knew. She was very glad to see him. Since her return from Krakow, she had
told everybody about his love for Danusia, and the incident about
Lichtenstein. These stories made her very popular among the younger
ladies and girls of the court; therefore she was fond of Zbyszko. She now
tried to console the young man in his sorrow, caused by Danusia's
"You will not recognize her," she said. "She is growing older, and is a
little girl no longer; she loves you differently, also. You say your
uncle is well? Why did he not come with you?"
"I will let my horses rest for a while and then I will go to Danusia. I
will go during the night," answered Zbyszko.
"Do so, but take a guide from the castle, or you will be lost in the
In fact after supper, which Mikolaj of Dlugolas ordered to be served to
the guests, Zbyszko expressed his desire to go after the prince, and he
asked for a guide. The brothers of the Order, wearied by the journey,
approached the enormous fireplaces in which were burning the entire
trunks of pine trees, and said that they would go the next day. But de
Lorche expressed his desire to go with Zbyszko, saying that otherwise he
might miss the hunting party, and he wished to see them very much. Then
he approached Zbyszko, and having extended his hand, he again pressed his
fingers three times.
Mikolaj of Dlugolas having learned from Jendrek of Kropiwnica about the
challenge, required both Zbyszko and the other knight to give him their
knightly word that they would not fight without the prince and the
_comthur's_ permission; if they refused, he said he would shut the gates
and not permit them to leave the castle. Zbyszko wished to see Danusia as
soon as possible, consequently he did not resist; de Lorche, although
willing to fight when necessary, was not a bloodthirsty man, therefore he
swore upon his knightly honor, to wait for the prince's consent. He did
it willingly, because having heard so many songs about tournaments and
being fond of pompous feasts, he preferred to fight in the presence of
the court, the dignitaries and the ladies; he believed that such a
victory would bring greater renown, and he would win the golden spurs
more easily. Then he was also anxious to become acquainted with the
country and the people, therefore he preferred a delay. Mikolaj of
Dlugolas, who had been in captivity among the Germans a long time, and
could speak the language easily, began to tell him marvelous tales about
the prince's hunting parties for different kinds of beasts not known in
the western countries. Therefore Zbyszko and he left the castle about
midnight, and went toward Przasnysz, having with them their armed
retinues, and men with lanterns to protect them against the wolves, which
gathering during the winter in innumerable packs, it was dangerous even
for several well armed cavaliers to meet. On this side of Ciechanow there
were deep forests, which a short distance beyond Przasnysz were merged
into the enormous Kurpiecka wilderness, which on the west joined the
impassable forest of Podlasie, and further on Lithuania. Through these
forests the Lithuanian barbarians came to Mazowsze, and in 1337 reached
Ciechanow, which they burned. De Lorche listened with the greatest
interest to the stories, told him by the old guide, Macko of Turoboje. He
desired to fight with the Lithuanians, whom as many other western knights
did, he had thought were Saracens. In fact he had come on a crusade,
wishing to gain fame and salvation. He thought that a war with the
Mazurs, half heathenish people, would secure for him entire pardon.
Therefore he could scarcely believe his own eyes, when having reached
Mazowsze, he saw churches in the towns, crosses on the towers, priests,
knights with holy signs on their armor and the people, very daring
indeed, and ready for a fight, but Christian and not more rapacious than
the Germans, among whom the young knight had traveled. Therefore, when he
was told that these people had confessed Christ for centuries, he did not
know what to think about the Knights of the Cross; and when he learned
that Lithuania was baptized by the command of the late queen, his
surprise and sorrow were boundless.
He began to inquire from Macko of Turoboje, if in the forest toward which
they were riding, there were any dragons to whom the people were obliged
to sacrifice young girls, and with whom one could fight. But Macko's
answer greatly disappointed him.
"In the forest, there are many beasts, wolves, bisons and bears with
which there is plenty of work," answered the Mazur. "Perhaps in the
swamps there are some unclean spirits; but I never heard about dragons,
and even if they were there, we would not give them girls, but we would
destroy them. Bah! had there been any, the Kurpie would have worn belts
of their skins long ago."
"What kind of people are they; is it possible to fight with them?" asked
"One can fight with them, but it is not desirable," answered Macko; "and
then it is not proper for a knight, because they are peasants."
"The Swiss are peasants also. Do they confess Christ?"
"There are no such people in Mazowsze. They are our people. Did you see
the archers in the castles? They are all the Kurpie, because there are no
better archers than they are."
"They cannot be better than the Englishmen and the Scotch, whom I saw at
the Burgundian court."
"I have seen them also in Malborg," interrupted the Mazur. "They are
strong, but they cannot compare with the Kurpie, among whom a boy seven
years old, will not be allowed to eat, until he has knocked the food with
an arrow from the summit of a pine."
"About what are you talking?" suddenly asked Zbyszko, who had heard the
word "Kurpie" several times.
"About the English and the Kurpiecki archers. This knight says that the
English and the Scotch are the best."
"I saw them at Wilno. Owa! I heard their darts passing my ears. There
were knights there from all countries, and they announced that they would
eat us up without salt; but after they tried once or twice, they lost
Macko laughed and repeated Zbyszko's words to Sir de Lorche.
"I have heard about that at different courts," answered the Lotaringer;
"they praised your knights' bravery, but they blamed them because they
helped the heathen against the Knights of the Cross."
"We defended the nation which wished to be baptized, against invasion and
wrong. The Germans wished to keep them in idolatry, so as to have a
pretext for war."
"God shall judge them," answered de Lorche.
"Perhaps He will judge them soon," answered Macko of Turoboje.
But the Lotaringer having heard that Zbyszko had been at Wilno, began to
question Macko, because the fame of the knightly combats fought there,
had spread widely throughout the world. That duel, fought by four Polish
and four French knights, especially excited the imagination of western
warriors. The consequence was that de Lorche began to look at Zbyszko
with more respect, as upon a man who had participated in such a famous
battle; he also rejoiced that he was going to fight with such a knight.
Therefore they rode along apparently good friends, rendering each other
small services during the time for refreshment on the journey and
treating each other with wine. But when it appeared from the conversation
between de Lorche and Macko of Turoboje, that Ulryka von Elner was not a
young girl, but a married woman forty years old and having six children,
Zbyszko became indignant, because this foreigner dared not only to
compare an old woman with Danusia, but even asked him to acknowledge her
to be the first among women.
"Do you not think," said he to Macko, "that an evil spirit has turned his
brain? Perhaps the devil is sitting in his head like a worm in a nut and
is ready to jump on one of us during the night. We must be on our guard."
Macko of Turoboje began to look at the Lotaringer with a certain
uneasiness and finally said:
"Sometimes it happens that there are hundreds of devils in a possessed
man, and if they are crowded, they are glad to go in other people. The
worst devil is the one sent by a woman."
Then he turned suddenly to the knight:
"May Jesus Christ be praised!"
"I praise him also," answered de Lorche, with some astonishment.
Macko was completely reassured.
"No, don't you see," said he, "if the devil were dwelling in him, he
would have foamed immediately, or he would have been thrown to the earth,
because I asked him suddenly. We can go."
In fact, they proceeded quietly. The distance between Ciechanow and
Przasnysz is not great, and during the summer a cavalier riding a good
horse can travel from one city to the other in two hours; but they were
riding very slowly on account of the darkness and the drifts of snow.
They started after midnight and did not arrive at the prince's hunting
house, situated near the woods, beyond Przasnysz, until daybreak. The
wooden mansion was large and the panes of the windows were made of glass
balls. In front of the house were the well-sweeps and two barns for
horses, and round the mansion were many tents made of skins and booths
hastily built of the branches of pine trees. The fires shone brightly in
front of the tents, and round them were standing the huntsmen who were
dressed in coats made of sheepskins, foxskins, wolfskins and bearskins,
and having the hair turned outside. It seemed to Sir de Lorche that he
saw some wild beasts standing on two legs, because the majority of these
men had caps made of the heads of animals. Some of them were standing,
leaning on their spears or crossbows; others were busy winding enormous
nets made of ropes; others were turning large pieces of urus and elk meat
which was hanging over the fire, evidently preparing for breakfast.
Behind them were the trunks of enormous pines and more people; the great
number of people astonished the Lotaringer who was not accustomed to see
such large hunting parties.
"Your princes," said he, "go to a hunt as if to a war."
"To be sure," answered Macko of Turoboje; "they lack neither hunting
implements nor people."
"What are we going to do?" interrupted Zbyszko; "they are still asleep in
"Well, we must wait until they get up," answered Macko; "we cannot knock
at the door and awaken the prince, our lord."
Having said this, he conducted them to a fire, near which the Kurpie
threw some wolfskins and urusskins, and then offered them some roasted
meat. Hearing a foreign speech, the people began to gather round to see
the German. Soon the news was spread by Zbyszko's attendants that there
was a knight "from beyond the seas," and the crowd became so great that
the lord of Turoboje was obliged to use his authority to shield the
foreigner from their curiosity. De Lorche noticed some women in the crowd
also dressed in skins, but very beautiful; he inquired whether they also
participated in the hunt.
Macko explained to him that they did not take part in the hunting, but
only came to satisfy their womanly curiosity, or to purchase the products
of the towns and to sell the riches of the forest. The court of the
prince was like a fireplace, round which were concentrated two
elements--rural and civic. The Kurpie disliked to leave their wilderness,
because they felt uneasy without the rustling of the trees above their
heads; therefore the inhabitants of Przasnysz brought their famous beer,
their flour ground in wind mills or water mills built on the river
Wengierka, salt which was very rare in the wilderness, iron, leather and
other fruits of human industry, taking in exchange skins, costly furs,
dried mushrooms, nuts, herbs, good in case of sickness, or clods of amber
which were plentiful among the Kurpie. Therefore round the prince's court
there was the noise of a continual market, increased during the hunting
parties, because duty and curiosity attracted the inhabitants from the
depths of the forests.
De Lorche listened to Macko, looking with curiosity at the people, who,
living in the healthy resinous air and eating much meat as was the custom
with the majority of the peasants in those days, astonished the foreign
travelers by their strength and size. Zbyszko was continually looking at
the doors and windows of the mansion, hardly able to remain quiet. There
was light in one window only, evidently in the kitchen, because steam was
coming out through the gapes between the panes.
In the small doors, situated in the side of the house, servants in the
prince's livery appeared from time to time, hurrying to the wells for
water. These men being asked if everybody was still sleeping, answered
that the court, wearied by the previous day's hunting, was still resting,
but that breakfast was being prepared. In fact through the window of the
kitchen, there now issued the smell of roasted meat and saffron,
spreading far among the fires. Finally the principal door was opened,
showing the interior of a brightly lighted hall, and on the piazza
appeared a man whom Zbyszko immediately recognized as one of the
_rybalts_, whom he had seen with the princess in Krakow. Having perceived
him, and waiting neither for Macko of Turoboje, nor for de Lorche,
Zbyszko rushed with such an impetus toward the mansion, that the
astonished Lotaringer asked:
"What is the matter with the young knight?"
"There is nothing the matter with him," answered Macko of Turoboje; "he
is in love with a girl of the princess' court and he wants to see her as
soon as possible."
"Ah!" answered de Lorche, putting both of his hands on his heart. He
began to sigh so deeply that Macko shrugged his shoulders and said to
"Is it possible that he is sighing for that old woman? It may be that his
senses are impaired!"
In the meanwhile he conducted de Lorche into the large hall of the
mansion which was ornamented with the horns of bisons, elks and deer, and
was lighted by the large logs burning in the fireplace. In the middle of
the hall stood a table covered with _kilimek_ and dishes for
breakfast; there were only a few courtiers present, with whom Zbyszko was
talking. Macko of Turoboje introduced Sir de Lorche to them. More
courtiers were coming at every moment; the majority of them were fine
looking men, with broad shoulders and fallow hair; all were dressed for
hunting. Those who were acquainted with Zbyszko and were familiar with
his adventure in Krakow, greeted him as an old friend--it was evident
that they liked him. One of them said to him:
"The princess is here and Jurandowna also; you will see her soon, my dear
boy; then you will go with us to the hunting party."
At this moment the two guests of the prince, the Knights of the Cross,
entered: brother Hugo von Danveld, _starosta_ of Ortelsburg, and
Zygfried von Loeve, bailiff of Jansbork. The first was quite a young man,
but stout, having a face like a beer drunkard, with thick, moist lips;
the other was tall with stern but noble features. It seemed to Zbyszko
that he had seen Danveld before at the court of Prince Witold and that
Henryk, bishop of Plock, had thrown him from his horse during the combat
in the lists. These reminiscences were disturbed by the entrance of
Prince Janusz, whom the Knights of the Cross and the courtiers saluted.
De Lorche, the _comthurs_ and Zbyszko also approached him, and he
welcomed them cordially but with dignity. Immediately the trumpets
resounded, announcing that the prince was going to breakfast; they
resounded three times; and the third time, a large door to the right was
opened and Princess Anna appeared, accompanied by the beautiful blonde
girl who had a lute hanging on her shoulder.
Zbyszko immediately stepped forward and kneeled on both knees in a
position full of worship and admiration. Seeing this, those present began
to whisper, because Zbyszko's action surprised the Mazurs and some of
them were even scandalized. Some of the older ones said: "Surely he
learned such customs from some knights living beyond the sea, or perhaps
even from the heathen themselves, because there is no custom like it even
among the Germans." But the younger ones said: "No wonder, she saved his
life." But the princess and Jurandowna did not recognize Zbyszko at once,
because he kneeled with his back toward the fire and his face was in the
shadow. The princess thought that it was some courtier, who, having been
guilty of some offence, besought her intervention with the prince; but
Danusia having keener sight, advanced one step, and having bent her fair
head, cried suddenly:
Then forgetting that the whole court and the foreign guests were looking
at her, she sprang like a roe toward the young knight and encircling his
neck with her arms, began to kiss his mouth and his cheeks, nestling to
him and caressing him so long that the Mazurs laughed and the princess
drew her back.
Then Zbyszko embraced the feet of the princess; she welcomed him, and
asked about Macko, whether he was alive or not, and if alive whether he
had accompanied Zbyszko. Finally when the servants brought in warm
dishes, she said to Zbyszko:
"Serve us, dear little knight, and perhaps not only now at the table, but
Danusia was blushing and confused, but was so beautiful, that not only
Zbyszko but all the knights present were filled with pleasure; the
_starosta_ of Szczytno, put the palm of his hands to his thick, moist
lips; de Lorche was amazed, and asked:
"By Saint Jacob of Compostella, who is that girl?"
To this the _starosta_ of Szczytno, who was short, stood on his toes and
whispered in the ear of the Lotaringer:
"The devil's daughter."
De Lorche looked at him; then he frowned and began to say through his
"A knight who talks against beauty is not gallant."
"I wear golden spurs, and I am a monk," answered Hugo von Danveld,
The Lotaringer dropped his head; but after awhile he said:
"I am a relative of the princess of Brabant."
"_Pax! Pax!_" answered the Knight of the Cross. "Honor to the mighty
knights and friends of the Order from whom, sir, you shall soon receive
your golden spurs. I do not disparage the beauty of that girl; but
listen, I will tell you who is her father."
But he did not have time to tell him, because at that moment, Prince
Janusz seated himself at the table; and having learned before from the
bailiff of Jansbork about the mighty relatives of Sir de Lorche, he
invited him to sit beside him. The princess and Danusia were seated
opposite. Zbyszko stood as he did in Krakow, behind their chairs, to
serve them. Danusia held her head as low as possible over the plate,
because she was ashamed. Zbyszko looked with ecstasy at her little head
and pink cheeks; and he felt his love, like a river, overflowing his
whole breast. He could also feel her sweet kisses on his face, his eyes
and his mouth. Formerly she used to kiss him as a sister kisses a
brother, and he received the kisses as from a child. Now Danusia seemed
to him older and more mature--in fact she had grown and blossomed. Love
was so much talked about in her presence, that as a flower bud warmed by
the sun, takes color and expands, so her eyes were opened to love;
consequently there was a certain charm in her now, which formerly she
lacked, and a strong intoxicating attraction beamed from her like the
warm beams from the sun, or the fragrance from the rose.
Zbyszko felt it, but he could not explain it to himself. He even forgot
that at the table one must serve. He did not see that the courtiers were
laughing at him and Danusia. Neither did he notice Sir de Lorche's face,
which expressed great astonishment, nor the covetous eyes of the
_starosta_ from Szczytno, who was gazing constantly at Danusia. He
awakened only when the trumpets again sounded giving notice that it was
time to go into the wilderness, and when the princess Anna Danuta,
turning toward him said:
"You will accompany us; you will then have an opportunity to speak to
Danusia about your love."
Having said this, she went out with Danusia to dress for the ride on
horseback. Zbyszko rushed to the court-yard, where the horses covered
with frost were standing. There was no longer a great crowd, because the
men whose duty it was to hem in the beasts, had already gone forward into
the wilderness with the nets. The fires were quenched; the day was bright
but cold. Soon the prince appeared and mounted his horse; behind him was
an attendant with a crossbow and a spear so long and heavy, that very few
could handle it; but the prince used it very easily, because like the
other Mazovian Piasts, he was very strong. There were even women in that
family so strong that they could roll iron axes, between their
fingers. The prince was also attended by two men, who were prepared to
help him in any emergency: they had been chosen from among the landowners
of the provinces of Warszawa and Ciechanow; they had shoulders like the
trunks of oak trees. Sir de Lorche gazed at them with amazement.
In the meanwhile, the princess and Danusia came out; both wore hoods made
of the skins of white weasels. This worthy daughter of Kiejstut could
_stitch_ with a bow better than with a needle; therefore her attendants
carried a crossbow behind her. Zbyszko having kneeled on the snow,
extended the palm of his hand, on which the princess rested her foot
while mounting her horse; then he lifted Danusia into her saddle and they
all started. The retinue stretched in a long column, turned to the right
from the mansion, and then began slowly to enter the forest.
Then the princess turned to Zbyszko and said:
"Why don't you talk? Speak to her."
Zbyszko, although thus encouraged, was still silent for a moment; but,
after quite a long silence, he said:
"I love you!"
Here he again stopped, searching for words which he could not find;
although he kneeled before the girl like a foreign knight, and showed her
his respect in every way, still he could not express his love in words.
Therefore he said:
"My love for you is so great that it stops my breathing."
"I also love you, Zbyszku!" said she, hastily.
"Hej, my dearest! hej, my sweet girl" exclaimed Zbyszko. "Hej!" Then he
was silent, full of blissful emotion; but the good-hearted and curious
princess helped them again.
"Tell her," said she, "how lonesome you were without her, and when we
come to a thicket, you may kiss her; that will be the best proof of your
Therefore he began to tell how lonesome he was without her in Bogdaniec,
while taking care of Macko and visiting among the neighbors. But the
cunning fellow did not say a word about Jagienka. When the first thicket
separated them from the courtiers and the guests, he bent toward her and
During the winter there are no leaves on the hazel bushes, therefore Hugo
von Danveld and Sir de Lorche saw him kiss the girl; some of the
courtiers also saw him and they began to say among themselves:
"He kissed her in the presence of the princess! The lady will surely
prepare the wedding for them soon."
"He is a daring boy, but Jurand's blood is warm also!"
"They are flint-stone and fire-steel, although the girl looks so quiet.
Do not be afraid, there will be some sparks from them!"
Thus they talked and laughed; but the _starosta_ of Szczytno turned his
evil face toward Sir de Lorche and asked:
"Sir, would you like some Merlin to change you by his magic power into
"Would you, sir?" asked de Lorche.
To this the Knight of the Cross, who evidently was filled with jealousy,
drew the reins of his horse impatiently, and exclaimed:
"Upon my soul!"
But at that moment he recovered his composure, and having bent his head,
"I am a monk and have made a vow of chastity."
He glanced quickly at the Lotaringer, fearing he would perceive a smile
on his face, because in that respect the Order had a bad reputation among
the people; and of all among the monks, Hugo von Danveld had the worst. A
few years previous he had been vice-bailiff of Sambia. There were so many
complaints against him there that, notwithstanding the tolerance with
which the Order looked upon similar cases in Marienburg, the grand master
was obliged to remove him and appoint him _starosta_ of the garrison in
Szczytno. Afterward he was sent to the prince's court on some secret
mission, and having perceived the beautiful Jurandowna, he conceived a
violent passion for her, to which even Danusia's extreme youth was no
check. But Danveld also knew to what family the girl belonged, and
Jurand's name was united in his memory with a painful reminiscence.
De Lorche began to question him:
"Sir, you called that beautiful girl the devil's daughter; why did you
call her that?"
Danveld began to relate the story of Zlotorja: how during the restoration
of the castle, they captured the prince with the court, and how during
that fight Jurandowna's mother died; how since that time Jurand avenged
himself on all the Knights of the Cross. Danveld's hatred was apparent
during the narration, because he also had some personal reasons for
hating Jurand. Two years before, during an encounter, he met Jurand; but
the mere sight of that dreadful "Boar of Spychow" so terrified him for
the first time in his life that he deserted two of his relatives and his
retinue, and fled to Szczytno. For this cowardly act the grand marshal of
the Order brought a knightly suit against him; he swore that his horse
had become unmanageable and had carried him away from the battlefield;
but that incident shut his way to all higher positions in the Order. Of
course Danveld did not say anything to Sir de Lorche about that
occurrence, but instead he complained so bitterly about Jurand's
atrocities and the audacity of the whole Polish nation, that the
Lotaringer could not comprehend all he was saying, and said:
"But we are in the country of the Mazurs and not of the Polaks."
"It is an independent principality but the same nation," answered the
_starosta_; "they feel the same hatred against the Order. May God permit
the German swords to exterminate all this race!"
"You are right, sir; I never heard even among the heathen of such an
unlawful deed, as the building of a castle on somebody else's land, as
this prince tried to do," said de Lorche.
"He built the castle against us, but Zlotorja is situated on his land,
not on ours."
"Then glory be to Christ that he granted you the victory! What was the
result of the war?"
"There was no war then?"
"What was the meaning of your victory at Zlotorja?"
"God favored us; the prince had no army with him, only his court and the
Here de Lorche looked at the Knight of the Cross with amazement.
"What? During the time of peace you attacked the women and the prince,
who was building a castle on his own land?"
"For the glory of the Order and of Christendom."
"And that dreadful knight is seeking vengeance only for the death of his
young wife, killed by you during the time of peace?"
"Whosoever raises his hand against a Knight of the Cross, is a son of
Hearing this, Sir de Lorche became thoughtful; but he did not have time
to answer Danveld, because they arrived at a large, snow-covered glade in
the woods, on which the prince and his courtiers dismounted.
The foresters under the direction of the head huntsman, placed the
hunters in a long row at the edge of the forest, in such a way that being
hidden themselves, they faced the glade. Nets were fastened along two
sides of the glade, and behind these were the men whose duty it was to
turn the beasts toward the hunters, or to kill them with spears if they
became entangled in the nets. Many of the Kurpie were sent to drive every
living thing from the depths of the forest into the glade. Behind the
hunters there was another net stretched; if an animal passed the row of
hunters, he would be entangled in it and easily killed.
The prince was standing in the middle in a small ravine, which extended
through the entire width of the glade. The head huntsman, Mrokota of
Mocarzew, had chosen that position for the prince because he knew that
the largest beasts would pass through this ravine. The prince had a
crossbow, and leaning on a tree beside him was a heavy spear; a little
behind him stood two gigantic "defenders" with axes on their shoulders,
and holding crossbows ready to be handed to the prince. The princess and
Jurandowna did not dismount, because the prince would not allow them to
do so, on account of the peril from urus and bisons; it was easier to
escape the fury of these fierce beasts on horseback than on foot. De
Lorche, although invited by the prince to take a position at his right
hand, asked permission to remain with the ladies for their defence.
Zbyszko drove his spear into the snow, put his crossbow on his back and
stood by Danusia's horse, whispering to her and sometimes kissing her. He
became quiet only when Mrokota of Mocarzew, who in the forest scolded
even the prince himself, ordered him to be silent.
In the meanwhile, far in the depths of the wilderness, the horns of the
Kurpie were heard, and the noisy sound of a _krzywula_ answered from
the glade; then perfect silence followed. From time to time the chatter
of the squirrels was heard in the tops of the pines. The hunters looked
at the snow-covered glade, where only the wind moved the bushes, and
asked themselves what kind of animals would first appear. They expected
abundant game, because the wilderness was swarming with urus, bisons and
boars. The Kurpie had smoked out a few bears which were wandering in the
thickets, angry, hungry and watchful.
But the hunters were obliged to wait a long time, because the men who
were driving the animals toward the glade, had taken a very large space
of the forest, and therefore they were so far away that the hunters did
not even hear the baying of the dogs, that had been freed from the
leashes immediately after the horns resounded.
After a while some wolves appeared on the edge of the forest, but having
noticed the people, they again plunged into the forest, evidently
searching for another pass. Then some boars having emerged from the
wilderness, began to run in a long black line through the snowy space,
looking from afar like domestic swine. They stopped and listened--turned
and listened again: turned toward the nets, but having smelt the men,
went in the direction of the hunters, snorting and approaching more and
more carefully; finally there resounded the clatter of the iron cranks of
the crossbows, the snarl of the bolts and then the first blood spotted
the white snow.
Then a dreadful squealing resounded and the whole pack dispersed as if
struck by a thunderbolt; some of them rushed blindly straight ahead,
others ran toward the nets, while still others ran among the other
animals, with which the glade was soon covered. The sounds of the horns
were heard distinctly, mingled with the howling of the dogs and the
bustle of the people coming from the depths of the forest. The wild
beasts of the forest driven by the huntsmen soon filled the glade. It was
impossible to see anything like it in foreign countries or even in the
other Polish provinces; nowhere else was there such a wilderness as there
was in Mazowsze. The Knights of the Cross, although they had visited
Lithuania, where bisons attacked and brought confusion to the army,
were very much astonished at the great number of beasts, and Sir de
Lorche was more astonished than they. He beheld in front of him herds of
yellow deer and elks with heavy antlers, mingled together and running on
the glade, blinded by fear and searching in vain for a safe passage. The
princess, in whom Kiejstut's blood began to play, seeing this, shot arrow
after arrow, shouting with joy when a deer or an elk which was struck,
reared and then fell heavily plowing the snow with his feet. Some of the
ladies-in-waiting were also shooting, because all were filled with
enthusiasm for the sport. Zbyszko alone did not think about hunting; but
having leaned his elbows on Danusia's knees and his head on the palms of
his hands, he looked into her eyes, and she smiling and blushing, tried
to close his eyelids with her fingers, as if she could not stand such
Sir de Lorche's attention was attracted by an enormous bear, gray on the
back and shoulders, which jumped out unexpectedly from the thicket near
the huntsmen. The prince shot at it with his crossbow, and then rushed
forward with his boar-spear; when the animal roaring frightfully, reared,
he pierced it with his spear in the presence of the whole court so deftly
and so quickly, that neither of the "defenders" needed to use his axe.
The young Lotaringer doubted that few of the other lords, at whose courts
he had visited during his travels, would dare to amuse themselves in such
a way, and believed that the Order would have hard work to conquer such
princes and such people. Later on he saw the other hunters pierce in the
same way, many boars much larger and fiercer than any that could be found
in the forest of Lower Lotaringen or in the German wilderness. Such
expert hunters and those so sure of their strength, Sir de Lorche had
never before seen; he concluded, being a man of some experience, that
these people living in the boundless forests, had been accustomed from
childhood to use the crossbow and the spear; consequently they were very
dexterous in using them.
The glade of the wood was finally covered with the dead bodies of many
different kinds of animals; but the hunt was not finished. In fact, the
most interesting and also the most perilous moment was coming, because
the huntsmen had met a herd of urus and bisons. The bearded bulls
marching in advance of the herd, holding their heads near the ground,
often stopped, as if calculating where to attack. From their enormous
lungs came a muffled bellowing, similar to the rolling of thunder, and
perspiration steamed from their nostrils; while pawing the snow with
their forefeet, they seemed to watch the enemy with their bloody eyes
hidden beneath their manes. Then the huntsmen shouted, and their cries
were followed by similar shoutings from all sides; the horns and fifes
resounded; the wilderness reverberated from its remotest parts; meantime
the dogs of the Kurpie rushed to the glade with tremendous noise. The
appearance of the dogs enraged the females of the herd who were
accompanied by their young. The herd which had been walking up to this
moment, now scattered in a mad rush all over the glade. One of the
bisons, an enormous old yellow bull, rushed toward the huntsmen standing
at one side, then seeing horses in the bushes, stopped, and bellowing,
began to plow the earth with his horns, as if inciting himself to fight.
Seeing this, the men began to shout still more, but among the hunters
there were heard frightened voices exclaiming: "The princess! The
princess! Save the princess!" Zbyszko seized his spear which had been
driven into the ground behind him and rushed to the edge of the forest;
he was followed by a few Litwins who were ready to die in defence of
Kiejstut's daughter; but all at once the crossbow creaked in the hands of
the lady, the bolt whistled and, having passed over the animal's head,
struck him in his neck.
"He is hit!" exclaimed the princess; "he will not escape."
But suddenly, with such a dreadful bellowing that the frightened horses
reared, the bison rushed directly toward the lady; at the same moment
with no less impetus, Sir de Lorche rushed from beneath the trees and
leaning on his horse, with his spear extended as in a knightly
tournament, attacked the animal.
Those near by perceived during one moment, the spear plunged into the
animal's neck, immediately bend like a bow, and break into small pieces;
then the enormous horned head disappeared entirely under the belly of Sir
de Lorche's horse, and the charger and his rider were tossed into the
From the forest the huntsmen rushed to help the foreign knight. Zbyszko
who cared most about the princess and Danusia's safety, arrived first and
drove his spear under the bison's shoulder blade. He gave the blow with
such force, that the spear by a sudden turn of the bison, broke in his
hands, and he himself fell with his face on the ground. "He is dead! He
is dead!" cried the Mazurs who were rushing to help him. The bull's head
covered Zbyszko and pressed him to the ground. The two powerful
"defenders" of the prince arrived; but they were too late; fortunately
the Czech Hlawa, given to Zbyszko by Jagienka, outstripped them, and
having seized his broad-axe with both hands he cut the bison's bent neck,
near the horns.
The blow was so powerful that the animal fell, as though struck by a
thunderbolt, with his head almost severed from his neck; this enormous
body fell on top of Zbyszko. Both "defenders" pulled it away quickly. The
princess and Danusia having dismounted, arrived at the side of the
Zbyszko, pale and covered with his own and the animal's blood, tried to
rise; but he staggered, fell on his knees and leaning on his hands, could
only pronounce one word:
Then the blood gushed from his mouth. Danusia grasped him by his
shoulders, but being unable to hold him, began to cry for help. The
huntsmen rubbed him with snow and poured wine in his mouth; finally the
head huntsman, Mrokota of Mocarzew ordered them to put him on a mantle
and to stop the blood with soft spunk from the trees.
"He will live if his ribs and his backbone are not broken," said he,
turning toward the princess. In the meanwhile some ladies of the court
with the help of other huntsmen, were attending to Sir de Lorche. They
turned him over, searching in his armor for holes or dents made by the
horns of the bull; but besides traces of the snow, which had entered
between the joints of the iron plates, they could find nothing. The urus
had avenged himself especially on the horse, which was lying dead beside
the knight; as for Sir de Lorche, he was not seriously injured. He had
fainted and his right hand was sprained. When they took off his helmet
and poured some wine in his mouth, he opened his eyes, and seeing the
sorrowful faces of two pretty young ladies bent over him, said in German:
"I am sure I am in paradise already and the angels are over me."
The ladies did not understand what he said; but being glad to see him
open his eyes and speak, they smiled, and with the huntsmen's help raised
him from the ground; feeling the pain in his right hand, he moaned and
leaned with the left on the shoulder of one of the "angels"; for a while
he stood motionless, fearing to make a step, because he felt weak. Then
he glanced around and perceived the yellow body of the urus, he also saw
Danusia wringing her hands and Zbyszko lying on a mantle.
"Is that the knight who rushed to help me?" he asked. "Is he alive?"
"He is very severely injured," answered a courtier who could speak
"From this time, I am going to fight not with him, but for him!" said the
At this time, the prince who was near Zbyszko, approached Sir de Lorche
and began to praise him because he had defended the princess and the
other ladies, and perhaps saved their lives by his bold deed; for which,
besides the knightly reward, he would be renowned not only then but in
all future generations.
"In these effeminate times," said he, "there are few true knights
traveling through the world; therefore pray be my guest as long as
possible or if you can, remain forever in Mazowsze, where you have
already won my favor, and by honest deeds will easily win the love of the
Sir de Lorche's heart was filled with joy when he heard the prince's
words and realized that he had accomplished such a famous knightly deed
and deserved such praise in these remote Polish lands, about which so
many strange things were told in the East. He knew that a knight who
could tell at the Burgundian court or at the court of Brabant, that when
on a hunting party, he had saved the life of the Mazowiecka princess,
would be forever famous.
Zbyszko became conscious and smiled at Danusia; then he fainted again.
The huntsmen seeing how his hands closed and his mouth remained open,
said to one another that he would not live; but the more experienced
Kurpie, among whom many an one had on him the traces of a bear's paws, a
boar's tusks or an urus' horns, affirmed that the urus' horn had slipped
between the knight's ribs, that perhaps one or two of his ribs were
broken, but that the backbone was not, because if it were, he could not
rise. They pointed out also, that Zbyszko had fallen in a snow-drift and
that had saved him, because on account of the softness the animal when
pressing him with his horns, could not entirely crush his chest, nor his
Unfortunately the prince's physician, the _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek of
Dziewanna, was not with the hunting party, being busy in the chateau
making wafers. The Czech rushed to bring him immediately, and
meanwhile the Kurpie carried Zbyszko to the prince's mansion. The Knight
of the Cross, Hugo von Danveld, helped Danusia mount her horse and then,
riding beside her and closely following the men who were carrying
Zbyszko, said in Polish in a muffled voice, so that she alone could hear
"In Szczytno I have a marvelous balm, which I received from a hermit
living in the Hercynski forest; I can bring it for you in three days."
"God will reward you," answered Danusia.
"God records every charitable deed; but will you reward me also?"
"What reward can I give you?"
The Krzyzak approached and evidently wished to say something else but
hesitated; after a while he said:
"In the Order, besides the brothers there are also sisters. One of them
will bring the healing balm, and then I will speak about the reward."
The _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek dressed Zbyszko's wounds and he stated that only
one rib was broken; but the first day he could not affirm that the sick
man would live, because he could not ascertain whether the heart had been
injured or not. Sir de Lorche was so ill toward morning that he was
obliged to go to bed, and on the following day he could not move his hand
nor his foot, without great pain in all the bones. The princess Danusia
and some other ladies of the court nursed the sick men and prepared for
them, according to the prescriptions of the _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek,
different ointments and potions. But Zbyszko was very severely injured,
and from time to time blood gushed from his mouth, and this alarmed the
_ksiondz_ Wyszoniek very much. He was conscious however, and on the
second day, although very weak, having learned from Danusia to whom he
owed his life, called Hlawa to thank and reward him. He remembered that
he had received the Czech from Jagienka and that had it not been for her
kind heart, he would have perished. He feared that he never would be able
to repay the good-hearted girl for her kindness, but that he would only
be the cause of her sorrow.
"I swore to my _panienka_," said Hlawa, "on my honor of a _wlodyka_, that
I would protect you; therefore I will do it without any reward. You are
indebted to her for your life."
Zbyszko did not answer, but began to breathe heavily; the Czech was
silent for a while, then he said:
"If you wish me to hasten to Bogdaniec, I will go. Perhaps you will be
glad to see the old lord, because God only knows whether you will
"What does the _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek say?" asked Zbyszko.
"The _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek says that he will know when the new moon comes.
There are four days before the new moon."
"Hej! then you need not go to Bogdaniec, because I will either die, or I
will be well before my uncle could come."
"Could you not send a letter to Bogdaniec? Sanderus will write one. Then
they will know about you, and will engage a mass for you."
"Let me rest now, because I am very ill. If I die, you will return to
Zgorzelice and tell how everything happened; then they can engage a mass.
I suppose they will bury me here or in Ciechanow."
"I think they will bury you in Ciechanow or in Przasnysz, because only
the Kurpie are buried in the forest, and the wolves howl over their
graves. I heard that the prince intends to return with the court to
Ciechanow in two days' time, and then to Warszawa."
"They would not leave me here alone," answered Zbyszko.
He guessed correctly, because that same day the princess asked the
prince's permission to remain in the house in the wilderness, with
Danusia and the ladies-in-waiting, and also with the _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek,
who was opposed to carrying Zbyszko to Przasnysz. Sir de Lorche at the
end of two days felt better, and he was able to leave his bed; but having
learned that the ladies intended to remain, he stayed also, in order to
accompany them on their journey and defend them in case the "Saracens"
attacked them. Whence the "Saracens" could come, the Lotaringer did not
know. It is true that the people in the East used thus to call the
Litwins; but from them no danger could threaten Kiejstut's daughter,
Witold's sister and the first cousin of the mighty "Krakowski king,"
Jagiello. But Sir de Lorche had been among the Knights of the Cross for
so long a time, that notwithstanding all he had heard in Mazowsze about
the baptism of the Litwa, and about the union of the two crowns on the
head of one ruler, he could not believe that any one could expect any
good from the Litwins. Thus the Knights of the Cross had made him
believe, and he had not yet entirely lost all faith in their words.
In the meantime an incident occurred which cast a shadow between Prince
Janusz and his guests. One day, before the departure of the court,
Brother Godfried and Brother Rotgier, who had remained in Ciechanow, came
accompanied by Sir de Fourcy, who was a messenger of bad news to the
Knights of the Cross. There were some foreign guests at the court of the
Krzyzacki _starosta_ in Lubowa; they were Sir de Fourcy and also Herr von
Bergow and Herr Meineger, both belonging to families which had rendered
great services to the Order. They having heard many stories about Jurand
of Spychow, determined, to draw the famous warrior into an open field,
and ascertain for themselves whether he really was as dreadful as
represented. The _starosta_ opposed the plan, giving as a reason that
there was peace between the Order and the Mazowiecki princes; but
finally, perhaps hoping thus to get rid of his terrible neighbor, not
only connived at the expedition but even furnished the armed _knechts_.
The knights sent a challenge to Jurand, who immediately accepted it under
the condition that they would send away the soldiers and that three of
them would fight with him and two of his companions on the boundaries of
Szlonsk and Spychow. But when they refused to send away the _knechts_ or
to retire from the land belonging to Spychow, he suddenly fell upon them,
exterminated the _knechts_, pierced Herr Meineger dreadfully with a
spear, took Herr von Bergow into captivity and put him into the
Spychowski dungeon. De Fourcy alone escaped and after three days'
wandering in the Mazowiecki forests, having learned from some
pitch-burners that there were some brothers of the Order in Ciechanow, he
succeeded in reaching them. He and the brothers of the Order made a
complaint to the prince, and asked for the punishment of Jurand, and for
an order for the deliverance of Herr von Bergow.
This news disturbed the good understanding between the prince and his
guests, because not only the two newly arrived brothers but also Hugo von
Danveld and Zygfried von Loeve, began to beseech the prince to render
justice to the Order, to free the boundaries from the plunderer and to
punish him once for all his offences. Hugo von Danveld, having his own
grievance against Jurand, the remembrance of which burned him with shame
and grief, asked for vengeance almost threateningly.
"The complaint will go to the grand master," he said; "and if we be not
able to get justice from Your Grace, he will obtain it himself, even if
the whole Mazowsze help that robber."
But the prince, although naturally good-tempered, became angry and said.
"What kind of justice do you ask for? If Jurand had attacked you first,
then I would surely punish him. But your people were the first to
commence hostilities. Your _starosta_ gave the _knechts_, permission to
go on that expedition. Jurand only accepted the challenge and asked that
the soldiers be sent away. Shall I punish him for that? You attacked that
dreadful man, of whom everybody is afraid, and voluntarily brought
calamity upon yourselves--what do you want then? Shall I order him not to
defend himself, when it pleases you to attack him?"
"It was not the Order that attacked him, but its guests, foreign
knights," answered Hugo.
"The Order is responsible for its guests, and then the _knechts_, from
the Lubowski garrison were there."
"Could the _starosta_ allow his guests to be slaughtered?"
Here the prince turned to Zygfried and said.
"You must take heed lest your wiles offend God."
But the stern Zygfried answered:
"Heir von Bergow must be released from captivity, because the men of his
family were high dignitaries in the Order and they rendered important
services to the Cross."
"And Meineger's death must be avenged," added Hugo von Danveld.
Thereupon the prince arose and walked threateningly toward the Germans;
but after a while, evidently having remembered that they were his guests,
he restrained his anger, put his hand on Zygfried's shoulder, and said:
"Listen: you wear a cross on your mantle, therefore answer according to
your conscience--upon that cross! Was Jurand right or was he not?"
"Herr von Bergow must be released from prison," answered Zygfried von
There was as a moment of silence; then the prince said:
"God grant me patience!"
Zygfried continued sharply, his words cutting like a sword:
"The wrong which was done to us in the persons of our guests, is only one
more occasion for complaint. From the time the Order was founded, neither
in Palestine, nor in Siedmiogrod, nor among the heathenish Litwa,
has any man wronged us so much as that robber from Spychow. Your
Highness! we ask for justice and vengeance not for one wrong, but for
thousands; not for the blood shed once, but for years of such deeds, for
which fire from heaven ought to burn that nest of wickedness and cruelty.
Whose moanings entreat God for vengeance? Ours! Whose tears? Ours! We
have complained in vain. Justice has never been given us!"
Having heard this, Prince Janusz began to nod his head and said:
"Hej! formerly the Krzyzaks were received hospitably in Spychow, and
Jurand was not your foe, until after his dear wife died on your rope; and
how many times have you attacked him first, wishing to kill him, as in
this last case, because he challenged and defeated your knights? How many
times have you sent assassins after him, or shot at him with a crossbow
from the forest? He attacked you, it is true, because vengeance burns
within him; but have you not attacked peaceful people in Mazowsze? Have
you not taken their herds, burned their houses and murdered the men,
women and children? And when I complained to the grand master, he sent me
this reply from Marienburg: 'Customary frolic of the boundaries' Let me
be in peace! Was it not you who captured me when I was without arms,
during the time of peace, on my own land? Had it not been for your fear
of the mighty Krakowski king, probably I would have had to moan until now
in captivity. Who ought to complain? With such gratitude you repaid me,
who belonged to the family of your benefactors. Let me be in peace; it is
not you who have the right to talk about justice!"
Having heard this, the Knights of the Cross looked at each other
impatiently, angry because the prince mentioned the occurrence at
Zlotorja, in the presence of Sir de Fourcy; therefore Hugo von Danveld,
wishing to finish the conversation about it, said:
"That was a mistake, Your Highness, and we made amends for it, not on
account of fear of the Krakowski king, but for the sake of justice; and
with regard to the frolics on the boundaries, the grand master cannot be
held responsible, because on every frontier there are some restless
"Then you say this yourself, and still you ask for the punishment of
Jurand. What do you wish then?"
"Justice and punishment!"
The prince clenched his bony fists and repeated:
"God grant me patience!"
"Your Princely Majesty must also remember," said Danveld, further, "that
our wantons only wrong lay people who do not belong to the German race,
but your men raise their hand against the German Order, and for this
reason they offend our Saviour Himself."
"Listen!" said the prince. "Do not talk about God; you cannot deceive
Then having placed his hands on the Krzyzak's shoulders, he shook him so
strongly, that he frightened him. He relented immediately and said,
"If it be true that our guests attacked Jurand first and did not send
away the soldiers, I will not blame him; but had Jurand really accepted
Having said this, he looked at Sir de Fourcy, winking at him, to deny it;
but the latter, not wishing to lie, answered:
"He asked us to send our soldiers away, and to fight three against
"Are you sure of that?"
"Upon my honor! Herr von Bergow and I agreed, but Meineger did not
Here the prince interrupted:
"_Starosta_ from Szczytno! you know better than anybody else that Jurand
would not miss a challenge."
Then he turned to all present and said:
"If one of you will challenge Jurand to a fight on horseback or on foot,
I give my permission. If he be taken prisoner or killed, then Herr von
Bergow will be released without paying any ransom. Do not ask me for
anything else, because I will not grant it."
After these words, there was a profound silence. Hugo von Danveld,
Zygfried von Loeve, Brother Rotgier and Brother Godfried, although brave,
knew the dreadful lord of Spychow too well to dare to challenge him for
life or death. Only a foreigner from a far distant country, like de
Lorche or de Fourcy, would do it; but de Lorche was not present during
the conversation, and Sir de Fourcy was still too frightened.
"I have seen him once," he muttered, "and I do not wish to see him any
Zygfried von Loeve said:
"It is forbidden the monks to fight in single combat, except by special
permission from the grand master and the grand marshal; but I do not ask
for permission for a combat, but for the release of von Bergow and the
punishment by death of Jurand."
"You do not make the laws in this country."
"Our grand master will know how to administer justice."
"Your grand master has nothing to do with Mazowsze!"
"The emperor and the whole German nation will help him."
"The king of Poland will help me, and he is more powerful than the German
"Does Your Highness wish for a war with the Order?"
"If I wanted a war, I would not wait for you to come to Mazowsze, but
would go toward you; you need not threaten me, because I am not afraid of
"What shall I say to the grand master?"
"He has not asked you anything. Tell him what you please."
"Then we will avenge ourselves."
Thereupon the prince stretched forth his arm and began to shake his
finger close to the Krzyzak's face.
"Keep quiet!" said he, angrily; "keep quiet! I gave you permission to
challenge Jurand; but if you dare to invade this country with the army of
the Order, then I will attack you, and you will stay here not as a guest
but as a prisoner."
Evidently his patience was entirely exhausted, because he threw a cap
violently on the table and left the room, slamming the door. The Knights
of the Cross became pale and Sir de Fourcy looked at them askance.
"What will happen now?" asked Brother Rotgier, who was the first to break
Hugo von Danveld turned to Sir de Fourcy and menacing him with his fists,
"Why did you tell him that you attacked Jurand?"
"Because it is true!"
"You should have lied."
"I came here to fight and not to lie."
"Well, you fought well, indeed!"
"And you! did you not run away from Jurand of Spychow?"
"_Pax!_" said von Loeve. "This knight is a guest of the Order."
"It is immaterial what he said," added Brother Godfried. "They would not
punish Jurand without a trial, and in the court, the truth would come
"What will be done now?" repeated Brother Rotgier.
There was a moment of silence; then the sturdy and virulent Zygfried von
"We must finish once for all with that bloody dog!" said he. "Herr von
Bergow must be released from his fetters. We will gather the garrisons
from Szczytno, Insburk and Lubowa; we will summon the Chelminsk nobility
and attack Jurand. It is time to settle with him!"
"We cannot do it without permission from the grand master."
"If we succeed, the grand master will be pleased!" said Brother Godfried.
"But if we do not succeed? If the prince go against us?"
"He will not do that if there is peace between him and the Order."
"There is peace, but we are going to violate it. Our garrisons will not
be sufficient to fight against the Mazurs."
"Then the grand master will help us and there will be a war."
Danveld frowned again and became thoughtful.
"No! no!" said he after a while. "If we be successful, the grand master
will be pleased. Envoys will be sent to the prince, there will be
negotiations and we will go scot-free. But in case of defeat, the Order
will not intercede for us and will not declare war. Another grand master
is necessary for that. The Polski king is behind the prince, and the
grand master will not quarrel with him."
"But we have taken the Dobrzynska province; it is evident that we are not
afraid of Krakow."
"There was some pretext--Opolczyk. We took it apparently in pledge, and
then----" Here he looked around and said quietly:
"I heard in Marienburg, that if they threaten us with war, we will return
"Ah!" said Brother Rotgier, "if we had Markward Salzbach with us, or
Shomberg who killed Witold's whelps, he would find some remedy against
Jurand. Witold was the king's viceroy and a grand duke! Notwithstanding
that, Shomberg was not punished. He killed Witold's children, and went
scot-free! Verily, there is great lack among us of people who can find a
remedy for everything."
Having heard this, Hugo von Danveld put his elbows on the table, leaned
his head on his hands and plunged into deep thought. Then his eyes became
bright, he wiped, according to his custom, his moist, thick lips with the
upper part of his hand and said:
"May the moment in which you mentioned, pious brother, the name of the
valiant Shomberg be blessed."
"Why? Have you found a remedy?" asked Zygfried von Loeve.
"Speak quickly!" exclaimed Brother Godfried.
"Listen," said Hugo. "Jurand has a daughter here, his only child, whom he
"Yes, so he has. We know her. The princess Anna Danuta loves her also."
"Yes. Listen then: if you capture this girl, Jurand will give as a ransom
for her, not only, Bergow, but all his prisoners, himself and Spychow!"
"By Saint Bonifacius' blood shed in Duchum!" exclaimed Brother Godfried;
"it would be as you say!"
Then they were silent, as if frightened by the boldness and the
difficulties of the enterprise. But after a while Brother Rotgier turned
toward Zygfried von Loeve, and said:
"Your judgment and experience are equal to your bravery: what do you
think about this plan?"
"I think that the matter is worthy of consideration."
"Because," said Rotgier further, "the girl is a lady-in-waiting with the
princess--the princess loves her as if she were her own daughter. Think,
pious brother, what an uproar will arise."
But Hugo von Danveld began to laugh:
"You said yourself, that Shomberg poisoned or strangled Witold's whelps,
and what happened to him? They will raise an uproar about anything we do;
but if we sent Jurand in chains to the grand master, then it is certain
that we could expect reward rather than punishment."
"Yes," said von Loeve, "there is a good opportunity for an attack. The
prince is going away and Anna Danuta will remain here alone with her
court. However it is a serious matter to invade the prince's house during
the time of peace. The prince's house is not Spychow. It will be the same
thing that happened in Zlotorja! Again complaints against the Order will
go to all kings and to the pope; again that cursed Jagiello will threaten
us, and the grand master; you know him: he is glad to take hold of
anything he can, but he does not wish for war with Jagiello. Yes! there
will be a great uproar in all the provinces of Mazowsze and of Polska."
"In the meanwhile Jurand's bones will whiten on a hook," answered Brother
Hugo. "Then we do not need to take his daughter from the prince's
"But we cannot do it from Ciechanow either, because there, besides the
noblemen, there are three hundred archers."
"No. But Jurand can become ill and send for his daughter. Then the
princess would not prevent her going, and if the girl be lost on the
road, who will accuse you or me and say to us: 'You captured her!'"
"Bah!" answered von Loeve, impatiently. "You must first make Jurand sick
and then make him summon the girl."
At this Hugo smiled triumphantly and answered:
"I have a goldsmith, who having been driven from Marienburg for theft,
settled in Szczytno and who is able to make a seal; I also have people,
who although our bondmen, came from the Mazurski country. Do you
understand me yet?"
"I understand," shouted Brother Godfried.
And Rotgier raised his hands and said:
"May God bless you, pious brother, because neither Markward Salzbach, nor
Shomberg could find better means."
Then he half closed his eyes, as if he saw something afar.
"I see Jurand," said he, "with a rope around his neck, standing at the
Gdansk gate in Marienburg and our _knechts_ are kicking him."
"And the girl will become a servant of the Order," said Hugo.
Having heard this, von Loeve turned his severe eyes on Danveld; but the
latter again rubbed his lips with the upper part of his hand and said:
"And now to Szczytno as soon as we can!"
Before starting on the journey to Szczytno, the four brothers of the
Order and de Fourcy went to bid the prince and the princess adieu. It was
not a very friendly farewell; but the prince, not wishing to act contrary
to the old Polish custom which did not permit the guests to depart with
empty hands, made each brother a present of some beautiful marten-fur and
of one _grzywna_ of silver; they received the presents with great
pleasure, assuring the prince that being brothers of an order, and having
made a solemn promise to live in poverty, they would not retain the money
for themselves, but would distribute it among the poor, whom they would
recommend to pray for the prince's health, fame and future salvation.
The Mazurs laughed in their sleeves at such an assurance, because they
knew very well how rapacious the Order was, and still better what liars
the Knights of the Cross were.
It was a popular saying in Mazowsze: "As the skunk smells, so the Krzyzak
lies." The prince waved his hand to such thanks, and after they went out
he said that by the intervention of the Knights of the Cross, one would
go to heaven as swiftly as the craw-fish walks.
But before that, while taking leave of the princess, at the moment that
Zygfried von Loeve kissed her hand, Hugo von Danveld approached Danusia,
put his hand on her head and caressing her, said:
"Our commandment is to return good for evil, and even to love our enemy;
therefore I will send a sister of the Order here, and she will bring you
the healing balm."
"How can I thank you for it?" answered Danusia.
"Be a friend of the Order and of the monks."
De Fourcy noticed this conversation, and in the meantime he was struck by
the beauty of the young girl; therefore as they traveled toward Szczytno,
"Who is that beautiful lady of the court with whom you were talking while
taking leave of the princess?"
"Jurand's daughter!" answered the Krzyzak.
Sir de Fourcy was surprised.
"The same whom you propose to capture?"
"Yes. And when we capture her, Jurand is ours."
"Evidently everything is not bad that comes from Jurand. It will be worth
while to guard such a prisoner."
"Do you think it will be easier to fight with her than with Jurand?"
"I mean that I think the same as you do. The father is a foe of the
Order; but you spoke words as sweet as honey to the daughter, and besides
you promised to send her the balm."
Evidently Hugo von Danveld felt the need of justification before Zygfried
von Loeve who, although not better than the others, observed the austere
laws of the Order, and very often scolded the other brothers.
"I promised her the balm," said Hugo, "for that young knight, who was
injured by the bison and to whom she is betrothed. If they make an outcry
when the girl is captured, then we will tell them that we did not wish to
harm her any, and the best proof of it will be that on account of
Christian mercy we sent her some medicine."
"Very well," said von Loeve. "Only we must send somebody whom we can
"I will send a pious woman, entirely faithful to the Order. I will
command her to look and to listen. When our people, apparently sent by
Jurand, arrive, they will find the road already prepared."
"It will be difficult to get such people."
"No! In our province the people speak the same language. There are in our
city, bah! even among the _knechts_ of the garrison, some men who left
Mazowsze because they were pursued by the law; it is true they are
thieves and robbers; but they do not fear anybody and they are ready to
do anything. To those men, I will promise, in case they succeed, a large
reward; if they fail, a rope."
"Bah! Suppose they betray us?"
"They will not betray us, because in Mazowsze every one of them deserves
to be hanged. Only we must give them decent clothes so that they will be
taken for Jurand's servants; and we must get the principal thing: a
letter with Jurand's seal."
"We must foresee everything," said Brother Rotgier. "It is probable that
Jurand will go to see the prince, and justify himself on account of the
last war. If he is in Ciechanow, he will go to see his daughter. It may
happen that our men when they go to capture Jurandowna, will come in
contact with Jurand himself."
"The men whom I am going to choose are sharp. They will know that they
will be hanged if they come in contact with Jurand. It will be to their
own interest not to meet him."
"But they may be captured."
"Then we will deny them and the letter. Who can prove that we sent them?
And then if there be no outrage, there will be no outcry, and it will not
harm the Order, if Mazury cut several scoundrels into pieces."
Brother Godfried, the youngest of the monks, said:
"I do not understand your policy, nor your fear that it may be known that
the girl was carried off by our command. Because if we have her in our
possession, we will be obliged to send some one to Jurand to tell him:
'Your daughter is with us; if you wish her to be set at liberty, give von
Bergow and yourself in exchange for her.' You cannot do otherwise, and
then it will be known that we ordered the girl to be carried off."
"That is true!" said Sir de Fourcy, who did not like the whole affair.
"Why should we hide that which must come out?"
But Hugo von Danveld began to laugh, and turning to Brother Godfried,
"How long have you worn the white mantle?"
"It will be six years the first week after the day of the Holy Trinity."
"When you have worn it six years longer, you will understand the affairs
of the Order better. Jurand knows us better than you do. We will tell
him: 'Your daughter is watched by Brother Shomberg; if you say a word,
remember what happened to Witold's children!'"
"Then von Bergow will be free and the Order also will be free from
"No!" exclaimed Brother Rotgier; "everything is planned so cleverly that
God ought to bless our enterprise."
"God blesses all deeds whose purpose is the good of the Order," said the
gloomy Zygfried von Loeve.
Then they rode silently, and before them went their retinue, to open the
way, because the road was covered with a heavy snow, which had fallen
during the night. The day was cloudy, but warm; therefore the horses were
steaming. From the forest flocks of crows were flying toward the
villages, filling the air with their gloomy cawing.
Sir de Fourcy remained a little bit behind the Knights of the Cross and
rode along in deep thought. He had been the guest of the Order for
several years, and had participated in the expeditions against the Zmudz,
where he distinguished himself by great bravery. Everywhere he had been
received as the Knights of the Cross knew how to receive the knights from
remote countries; he became attached to them very strongly, and not being
rich, he planned to join their ranks. In the meanwhile he either lived in
Marienburg, or visited the commanderies, searching in his travels for
distractions and adventures. Having just arrived at Lubowa with the rich
von Bergow, and having heard about Jnrand, he desired very much to fight
with the man who was regarded with general dread. The arrival of
Meineger, who was always victorious, precipitated the expedition. The
_comthur_ of Lubowa furnished the men for it, but in the meanwhile he
told them so much not only about Jurand's cruelty, but also about his
cunning and treachery, that when Juvand asked them to send away the
soldiers, they refused to do it, fearing that if they did, he would
surround and exterminate them or else capture and put them into the
Spychowski dungeons. Then Jurand thinking that they cared less about a
knightly fight than about plunder, attacked them and defeated them. De
Fourcy saw von Bergow overthrown with his horse; he saw Meineger with a
piece of a spear in his body, and he saw the men asking in vain for
mercy. He escaped with great difficulty, and wandered for several days in
the forests, where he would have died of hunger or been destroyed by wild
beasts, if by chance he had not reached Ciechanow, where he found
Brothers Godfried and Rotgier. From the expedition he emerged with a
feeling of humiliation and shame, and with a desire for vengeance and a
longing after Bergow, who was his dear friend. Therefore he joined with
his whole soul in the complaint of the Knights of the Cross, when they
asked for the punishment of the Polish knight and the freedom of his
unhappy companion. When their complaint had no effect whatever, in the
first moment he was ready to approve of any plan for vengeance against
Jurand. But now some scruples were aroused in him. Listening to the
conversation of the monks, and especially to what Hugo von Danveld said,
he could not refrain from astonishment. It is true, that having become
well acquainted during the past few years with the Knights of the Cross,
he knew that they were not what they were represented to be in Germany
and in the West. In Marienburg, he knew, however, a few honest and
upright knights who often complained of the corruption of the brothers,
of their lasciviousness and lack of discipline; de Fourcy felt that they
were right, but being himself dissolute and lacking in discipline, he did
not criticise them for those faults, especially because all knights of
the Order redeemed them with bravery. He had seen them at Wilno, fighting
breast to breast with the Polish knights; at the taking of castles,
defended with superhuman stubbornness by Polish garrisons; he had seen
them perishing under the blows of axes and swords, in general assaults or
in single combats. They were merciless and cruel toward the Litwa, but at
the same time, they were as brave as lions.
But now it seemed to Sir de Fourcy, that Hugo von Danveld advised such
actions from which every knight's soul should recoil; and the other
brothers not only were not angry with him, but approved of his words.
Therefore astonishment seized him more and more; finally he became deeply
thoughtful, pondering whether it was proper to join in the performance of
If it were only a question of carrying off the girl and then exchanging
her for Bergow, he would perhaps consent to that, although his heart had
been moved by Danusia's beauty. But evidently the Knights of the Cross
wished for something else. Through her they wished to capture Jurand, and
then murder him, and together with him,--in order to hide the fraud and
the crime--must assuredly murder the girl also.
They had threatened her already with the same fate that Witold's children
met, in case Jurand should dare to complain. "They do not intend to keep
any promise, but to cheat both and kill both," said de Fourcy, to
himself, "although they wear the cross, and ought to guard their honor
more than anybody else."
He became more and more indignant at such effrontery, and he determined
to verify his suspicions; therefore he rode near Danveld and asked:
"If Jurand give himself up to you, will you set the girl at liberty?"
"If we let her go free, the whole world would immediately say that we had
captured both of them," answered Danveld.
"Then, what do you propose to do with her?"
At this Danveld bent toward the knight, and laughing, showed his rotten
teeth from beneath his thick lips.
"Do you mean what will be done with her, before or after?"
But Fourcy, surmising already that which he wished to know, became
silent; for a while he seemed to struggle with himself; then he raised
himself in his stirrups and said so loudly that he could be heard by all
four of the monks:
"The pious brother, Ulrych von Jungingen, who is an example and an
ornament of knighthood, said to me: 'Among the old knights in Marienburg,
one can still find worthy Knights of the Cross; but those who control the
commanderies near the frontier, only bring shame upon the Order.'"
"We are all sinful, but we serve the Saviour," answered Hugo.
"Where is your knightly honor? One cannot serve the Saviour by shameful
deeds. You must know that I will not put my hand to anything like that,
and that I also will prevent you."
"What will you prevent?"
"The artifice, the treachery, the shame!"
"How can you do it? In the fight with Jurand, you lost your retinue and
wagons. You are obliged to live on the generosity of the Order, and you
will die from hunger if we do not throw you a piece of bread; and then,
you are alone, we are four--how could you prevent us?"
"How can I prevent you?" repeated de Fourcy. "I can return to the mansion
and warn the prince; I can divulge your plans to the whole world."
Here the brothers of the Order looked at one another, and their faces
changed in the twinkling of an eye. Hugo von Danveld, especially, looked
questioningly into Zygfried von Loeve's eyes; then he turned to Sir de
"Your ancestors," said he, "used to serve in the Order, and you wished to
join it also; but we do not receive traitors."
"And I do not wish to serve with traitors."
"Ej! you shall not fulfill your threat. The Order knows how to punish not
only the monks----"
Sir de Fourcy being excited by these words, drew his sword, and seized
the blade with his left hand; his right hand he put on the hilt and said:
"On this hilt which is in the form of the cross, on St. Denis, my
patron's head, and on my knightly honor, I swear that I will warn the
Mazowiecki prince and the grand master."
Hugo von Danveld again looked inquiringly at Zygfried von Loeve, who
closed his eyelids, as if consenting to something.
Then Danveld said in a strangely muffled and changed voice:
"St. Denis could carry his head after he was beheaded, but when yours
once falls down----"
"Are you threatening me?" interrupted de Fourcy.
"No, but I kill!" answered Danveld. And he thrust his knife into de
Fourcy's side with such strength, that the blade disappeared up to the
hilt. De Fourcy screamed dreadfully; for a while he tried to seize his
sword which he held in his left hand, with his right, but he dropped it;
at the same time, the other three brothers began to pierce him
mercilessly with their knives, in the neck, in the back, and in the
stomach, until he fell from his horse.
Then there was silence. De Fourcy bleeding dreadfully from several
wounds, quivered on the snow. From beneath the leaden sky, there came
only the cawing of the crows, which were flying from the silent
wilderness, toward human habitations.
Then there began a hurried conversation between the murderers:
"Our servants did not see anything!" said Danveld, panting.
"No. The retinues are in front; we cannot see them," answered von Loeve.
"Listen: we will have cause for a new complaint. We will publish the
statement that the Mazowiecki knights fell upon us and killed our
companion. We will shout aloud--they will hear us in Marienburg--that the
prince sent murderers even after his guests. Listen! we must say that
Janusz did not wish to listen to our complaints against Jurand, but that
he ordered the accuser to be murdered."
In the meanwhile, de Fourcy turned in the last convulsion on his back and
then remained motionless, with a bloody froth on his lips and with dread
pictured in his widely-opened dead eyes. Brother Rotgier looked at him
"Notice, pious brothers, how God punishes even the thought of treachery."
"What we have done, was done for the good of the Order," answered
Godfried. "Glory to those----"
But he stopped, because at that moment, behind them, at the turn of the
snowy road, there appeared a horseman, who rushed forward as fast as his
horse could go. Having perceived him, Hugo von Danveld quickly exclaimed:
"Whoever this man is--he must die." And von Loeve, who although the oldest
among the brothers, had very keen eyesight, said:
"I recognize him; it is that shield-bearer who killed the bison with an
axe. Yes; it is he!"
"Hide your knives, so that he may not become frightened," said Danveld.
"I will attack him first, you shall follow me."
In the meanwhile, the Bohemian arrived and reined in his horse at a
distance of eight or ten steps. He noticed the corpse lying in the pool
of blood, the horse without a rider, and astonishment appeared on his
face; but it lasted only for the twinkling of an eye. After a while, he
turned to the brothers as if nothing had happened and said:
"I bow to you, brave knights!"
"We recognize you," answered Danveld, approaching slowly. "Have you
anything for us?"
"The knight Zbyszko of Bogdaniec, after whom I carry the spear, sent me,
because being injured by the bison, he could not come himself."
"What does your master wish from us?"
"My master commanded me to tell you that because you unrighteously
accused Jurand of Spychow, to the detriment of his knightly honor, you
did not act like honest knights, but howled like dogs; and if any one of
you feels insulted by these words, he challenges him to a combat on
horseback or on foot, to the last breath; he will be ready for the duel
as soon as with God's help and mercy he is released from his present
"Tell your master, that the Knights of the Order bear insults patiently
for the Saviour's sake, and they cannot fight, without special permission
from the grand master or from the grand marshal; for which permission
they will write to Malborg."
The Czech again looked at de Fourcy's corpse, because he had been sent
especially to that knight. Zbyszko knew that the monks could not fight in
single combat: but having heard that there was a secular knight with
them, he wanted to challenge him especially, thinking that by doing so he
would win Jurand's favor. But that knight was lying slaughtered like an
ox, by the four Knights of the Cross.
It is true that the Czech did not understand what had happened; but being
accustomed from childhood to different kinds of danger, he suspected some
treachery. He was also surprised to see Danveld, while talking with him,
approach him closer and closer; the others began to ride to his sides, as
if to surround him. Consequently he was upon the alert, especially as he
did not have any weapons; he had not brought any, being in great haste.
In the meanwhile Danveld who was near him, said:
"I promised your master some healing balm; he repays me badly for my good
deed. But no wonder, that is the usual thing among the Polaks. But as he
is severely injured and may soon be called to God, tell him then----"
Here he leaned his left hand on the Czech's shoulder.
"Tell him then, that I--well--I answer this way!----"
And at the same moment, his knife gleamed near the throat of the
shield-bearer; but before he could thrust, the Czech who had been
watching his movements closely, seized Danveld's right hand, with his
iron-like hands, bent and twisted it so that the bones cracked; then
hearing a dreadful roaring of pain, he pricked his horse and rushed away
like an arrow, before the others could stop him.
Brothers Rotgier and Godfried pursued him, but they soon returned,
frightened by a dreadful cry from Danveld. Von Loeve supported him with
his shoulders, while he cried so loudly that the retinue, riding with the
wagons in front at quite a distance, stopped their horses.
"What is the matter with you?" asked the brothers.
But von Loeve ordered them to ride forward as fast as they could, and
bring a wagon, because Danveld could not remain in his saddle. After a
moment, a cold perspiration covered his forehead and he fainted.
When they brought the wagon, they put him on some straw in the bottom and
hurried toward the frontier. Von Loeve urged them forward because he
realized that after what had happened, they could not lose time in
nursing Danveld. Having seated himself beside him in the wagon, he rubbed
his face with snow from time to time; but he could not resuscitate him.
At last when near the frontier, Danveld opened his eyes and began to look
"How do you feel?" asked Loeve.
"I do not feel any pain, but neither can I feel my hand," answered
"Because it has grown stiff already; that is why you do not feel any
pain. It will come back in a warm room. In the meanwhile, thank God even
for a moment of relief."
Rotgier and Godfried approached the wagon.
"What a misfortune!" said the first. "What shall we do now?"
"We will declare," said Danveld in a feeble voice, "that the
shield-bearer murdered de Fourcy."
"It is their latest crime and the culprit is known!" added Rotgier.
In the meanwhile, the Czech rushed as fast as he could to the prince's
hunting residence, and finding the prince still there, he told him first,
what had happened. Happily there were some courtiers who had seen the
shield-bearer go without any arms. One of them had even shouted after
him, half in jest, to take some old iron, because otherwise the Germans
would get the best of him; but he, fearing that the knights would pass
the frontier, jumped on horseback as he stood, in a sheepskin overcoat
only and hurried after them. These testimonies dispelled all possible
doubts from the prince's mind as to the fact who had murdered de Fourcy;
but they filled him with uneasiness and with such anger, that at first he
wanted to pursue the Knights of the Cross, capture them and send them to
the grand master in chains. After a while, however, he came to the
conclusion, that it was impossible to reach them on this side of the
boundary and he said:
"I will send, instead, a letter to the grand master, so that he may know
what they are doing here. God will punish them for it!"
Then he became thoughtful and after a while he began to say to the
"I cannot understand why they killed their guest; I would suspect the
shield-bearer if I did not know that he went there without weapons."
"Bah!" said the _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek, "why should the boy kill him? He had
not seen him before. Then suppose be had had arms, how could he attack
five of them and their armed retinues?"
"That is true," said the prince. "That guest must have opposed them in
something, or perhaps be did not wish to lie as was necessary for them. I
saw them wink at him, to induce him to say that Jurand was the first to
begin the fight."
Then Mrokota of Mocarzew said:
"He is a strong boy, if be could crush the arm of that dog Danveld."
"He said that be heard the bones of the German crack," answered the
prince; "and taking into consideration what he did in the forest, one
must admit it is true! The master and the servant are both strong boys.
But for Zbyszko, the bison would have rushed against the horses. Both the
Lotaringer and he contributed very much to the rescue of the princess."
"To be sure they are great boys," affirmed the _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek. "Even
now when he can hardly breathe, be has taken Jurand's part and challenged
those knights. Jurand needs exactly such a son-in-law."
"In Krakow, Jurand said differently; but now, I think he will not oppose
it," said the prince.
"The Lord Jesus will help," said the princess, who entered just now and
heard the end of the conversation.
"Jurand cannot oppose it now, if only God will restore Zbyszko's health;
but we must reward him also."
"The best reward for him will be Danusia, and I think he will get her,
for when the women resolve to accomplish some object, then even Jurand
himself could not prevent them."
"Am I not right, to wish for that marriage?" asked the princess.
"I would not say a word if Zbyszko were not constant; but I think there
is no other in the world as faithful as he. And the girl also. She does
not leave him now for a moment; she caresses him and he smiles at her,
although he is very ill. I cry myself when I see this! I am speaking
righteously! It is worth while to help such a love, because the Holy
Mother looks gladly on human happiness."
"If it be God's will," said the prince, "the happiness will come. But it
is true that he nearly lost his head for that girl and now the bison has
"Do not say it was for that girl," said the princess, quickly, "because
in Krakow Danusia saved him."
"True! But for her sake he attacked Lichtenstein, in order to tear from
his head the feathers, and he would not have risked his life for de
Lorche. As for the reward, I said before that they both deserve one, and
I will think about it in Ciechanow."
"Nothing will please Zbyszko more than to receive the knightly girdle and
the golden spurs."
The prince smiled benevolently and answered:
"Let the girl carry them to him; and when the illness leaves him, then we
will see that everything is accomplished according to the custom. Let her
carry them to him immediately, because quick joy is the best!"
The princess having heard that, hugged her lord in the presence of the
courtiers, and kissed his hands; he smiled continually and said:
"You see--A good idea! I see that the Holy Ghost has granted the woman
some sense also! Now call the girl."
"Danuska! Danuska!" called the princess.
And in a moment in the side door Danusia appeared; her eyes were red on
account of sleepless nights; and she held a pot of steaming gruel, which
the _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek had ordered to be put on Zbyszko's fractured
"Come to me, my dear girl!" said Prince Janusz. "Put aside the pot and
When she approached with some timidity, because "the lord" always excited
some fear in her, he embraced her kindly and began to caress her face,
"Well, the poor child is unhappy--_hein_?"
"Yes!" answered Danusia.
And having sadness in her heart, she began to cry but very quietly, in
order not to hurt the prince; he asked again:
"Why do you cry?"
"Because Zbyszko is ill," answered she, putting her little hands to her
"Do not be afraid, there is no danger for him. Is that not true, Father
"Hej! by God's will, he is nearer to the wedding than to the coffin,"
answered the good-hearted _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek.
The prince said:
"Wait! In the meanwhile, I will give you a medicine for him, and I trust
it will relieve him or cure him entirely."
"Have the Krzyzaks sent the balm?" asked Danusia quickly, taking her
little hands from her eyes.
"With that balm which the Krzyzaks will send, you had better smear a dog
than a knight whom you love. I will give you something else."
Then he turned to the courtiers and said:
"Hurry and bring the spurs and the girdle."
After a while, when they had brought them to him, he said to Danusia:
"Take these to Zbyszko--and tell him that from this time he is a belted
knight. If he die, then he will appear before God as _miles cinctus_; if
he live, then the rest will be accomplished in Ciechanow or in Warszawa."
Having heard this, Danusia seized "the lord" by his knees; then caught
the knightly insignia with one hand and the pot of porridge with the
other, and rushed to the room where Zbyszko was lying. The princess, not
wishing to lose the sight of their joy, followed her.
Zbyszko was very ill, but having perceived Danusia, he turned his pale
face toward her and asked:
"Has the Czech returned?"
"No matter about the Czech!" answered the girl. "I bring you better news
than that. The lord has made you a knight and has sent you this by me."
Having said this, she put beside him the girdle and the spurs. Zbyszko's
pale cheeks flushed with joy and astonishment, he glanced at Danusia and
then at the spurs; then he closed his eyes and began to repeat:
"How could he dub me a knight?"
At that moment the princess entered, and he raised himself a little and
began to thank her, because he guessed that her intervention had brought
such a great favor and bliss to him. But she ordered him to be quiet and
helped Danusia to put his head on the pillows again. In the meanwhile,
the prince, the _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek, Mrokota and several other courtiers
Prince Janusz waved his hand to signify that Zbyszko must not move; then
having seated himself beside the bed, he said:
"You know! The people must not wonder that there is reward for good
deeds, because if virtue remained without any reward, human iniquities
would walk without punishment. You did not spare your life, but with
peril to yourself defended us from dreadful mourning; therefore we permit
you to don the knightly girdle, and from this moment to walk in glory and
"Gracious lord," answered Zbyszko. "I would not spare even ten lives----"
But he could not say anything more, on account of his emotion; and the
princess put her hand on his mouth because the _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek did
not permit him to talk. The prince continued further:
"I think that you know the knightly duties and that you will wear the
insignia with honor. You must serve our Saviour, and fight with the
_starosta_ of hell. You must be faithful to the anointed lord, avoid
unrighteous war and defend innocence against oppression; may God and His
Holy Passion help you!"
"Amen!" answered the _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek.
The prince arose, made the sign of the cross over Zbyszko and added:
"And when you recover, go immediately to Ciechanow, where I will summon
Three days afterward, a woman arrived with the Hercynski balm and with
her came the captain of the archers from Szczytno, with a letter, signed
by the brothers and sealed with Danveld's seal; in that letter the
Knights of the Cross called on heaven and earth as witnesses of the
wrongs committed against them in Mazowsze, and with a threat of God's
vengeance, they asked for punishment for the murder of their "beloved
comrade and guest." Danveld added to the letter his personal complaint,
asking humbly but also threateningly for remuneration for his crippled
hand and a sentence of death against the Czech. The prince tore the
letter into pieces in the presence of the captain, threw it under his
feet and said:
"The grand master sent those scoundrels of Krzyzaks to win me over, but
they have incited me to wrath. Tell them from me that they killed their
guest themselves and they wanted to murder the Czech. I will write to the
grand master about that and I will request him to send different envoys,
if he wishes me to be neutral in case of a war between the Order and the
"Gracious lord," answered the captain, "must I carry such an answer to
the mighty and pious brothers?"
"If it is not enough, tell them then, that I consider them dog-brothers
and not honest knights."
This was the end of the audience. The captain went away, because the
prince departed the same day for Ciechanow. Only the "sister" remained
with the balm, but the mistrustful _ksiondz_ Wyszoniek did not wish to
use it, especially as the sick man had slept well the preceding night and
had awakened without any fever, although still very weak. After the
prince's departure, the sister immediately sent a servant for a new
medicine apparently--for the "egg of a basilisk"--which she affirmed had
the power to restore strength even to people in agony; as for herself,
she wandered about the mansion; she was humble and was dressed in a lay
dress, but similar to that worn by members of the Order; she carried a
rosary and a small pilgrim's gourd at her belt. She could not move one of
her hands. As she could speak Polish well, she inquired from the servants
about Zbyszko and Danusia, to whom she made a present of a rose of
Jericho; on the second day during Zbyszko's slumber, while Danusia was
sitting in the dining-room, she approached her and said:
"May God-bless you, _panienko_. Last night after my prayers I dreamed
that there were two knights walking during the fall of the snow; one of
them came first and wrapped you in a white mantle, and the other said: 'I
see only the snow, and she is not here,' and he returned."
Danusia who was sleepy, immediately opened her blue eyes curiously, and
"What does it mean?"
"It means that the one who loves you the best, will get you."
"That is Zbyszko!" said the girl.
"I do not know, because I did not see his face; I only saw the white
mantle and then I awakened; the Lord Jesus sends me pain every night in
my feet and I cannot move my hand."
"It is strange that the balm has not helped you any!"
"It cannot help me, _panienko_, because the pain is a punishment for a
sin; if you wish to know what the sin was, I will tell you."
Danusia nodded her little head in sign that she wished to know; therefore
the "sister" continued: