Part 8 out of 14
soul that if they wanted him to restore von Bergow, he would do so; if
they demanded an additional payment he would give it, even if he had to
throw into the price Spychow entire; but then, woe to those who had
raised their hands against this his only child!
Throughout the whole night, sleep did not close their eyelids for a
moment. At dawn, they scarcely recognized each other, to such an extent
had their faces changed during this single night. At length Jurand was
struck by that pain and inveterate hatred on Zbyszko's face and therefore
said: "She saved you and snatched you from death--I know. But you also
Zbyszko looked directly into his eyes with an almost defiant expression
and replied: "She is my wife."
Upon that, Jurand stopped his horse and looked at Zbyszko, blinking his
eyes with astonishment.
"What do you say?" he inquired.
"I say that she is my wife and I am her husband."
The knight of Spychow brushed his eyes with his sleeve, as if he were
dazed by a sudden thunder-stroke, and after awhile, without a word of
reply, he urged his horse forward to the head of the troop and rode on
But Zbyszko, riding behind him, could not stand it very long, and said to
himself: "I would rather have him burst forth in anger, than become
embittered." He therefore rode up to him and jogging his stirrup against
his, he commenced to speak: "Listen how it happened. You know what
Danusia did for me in Krakow, but you do not know that they proposed to
me Jagienka of Bogdaniec, the daughter of Zych of Zgorzelice. My uncle,
Macko, was in favor of it, also her parents and Zych; a relative, an
abbot, a wealthy man as well.... What is the use of many words?--an
honest girl and a beautiful woman and the dowry respectable also. But it
could not be. I felt sorry for Jagienka, but still more so for
Danusia--and I set out to her to Mazowsze, because, I tell you frankly, I
could not live any longer without her. Recollect the time when you
yourself loved--recollect it! and it will not seem strange to you."
Here Zbyszko broke off, waiting for a word from Jurand, but as the latter
remained silent, he continued:
"God gave me an opportunity at the Forest Court to save the princess and
Danusia from a wild bull while hunting. And the princess immediately
said: 'Now Jurand will not object any more, because how could he refuse
to reward such a deed?' But I did not wish to take her even then without
your parental consent. Yet! I was weak,... because the terrible animal
injured me so much, that it almost killed me. But then, as you know,
those people came for Danusia, in order to take her, as it seemed, to
Spychow, and I was still unable to leave my bed. I thought I should never
see her again. I thought that you would take her to Spychow and give her
to some one else. You objected to me at Krakow ... and I already thought
that I should die. Ah! great God, what a night I passed. Nothing but
worry; nothing but grief! I thought that if she also left me, the sun
would rise no more. Consider human love and human grief!"
And, for a moment, tears almost choked Zbyszko's voice, but, having a
courageous heart, he controlled himself and said:
"The people arrived for her in the evening and wanted to take her
immediately, but the princess ordered them to wait until morning. Just
then Jesus inspired me with the idea of presenting the princess with my
compliments and asking her for Danusia. I thought that if I died I should
have that consolation at least. Remember that the girl had to leave,
while I remained ill and nearly dying. There was also no time to ask for
your permission. The prince was no longer in the Forest Court, the
princess therefore weighed both sides because she had nobody to take
counsel with. But they, together with Father Wyszoniek at last took pity
upon me, and Father Wyszoniek performed the ceremony.... God's power,
But Jurand interrupted, gloomily: "And God's punishment!"
"Why should there be punishment?" inquired Zbyszko. "Consider only, they
had sent for her before the ceremony, and whether it had been performed
or not, they would have carried her off nevertheless."
But Jurand again replied nothing, and rode on alone, gloomy, and with
such a stony face, that though Zbyszko at first felt the relief that
confession of a long concealed thing always produces, at length he was
seized with fear and said to himself, with constantly increasing fear,
that the old knight was bitterly angered, and that thenceforth they would
be strangers and foes to each other. And there came upon him a moment of
great depression. He had never felt so badly since his departure from
Bogdaniec. It seemed to him now that there was no hope of reconciliation
with Jurand, nor, what was far worse, of saving Danusia, that all was of
no avail, and that in the future still greater misfortunes and miseries
would befall him. But this depression of spirits lasted a short while
only, and, in accordance with his nature, it soon changed into anger, and
a desire for quarreling and fight. "He does not want peace," he said to
himself, thinking of Jurand, "then let there be discord, let come what
will!" And he was ready to fly at Jurand's face. He also longed for a
fight with anybody for anything, merely to do something, merely to give
vent to his grief, bitterness and anger, and so find some relief.
Meanwhile they arrived at an inn at a ford called Swietlik, where Jurand,
on his return from the prince's court, usually allowed his people and
horses to rest. He did so now also involuntarily. After a while he and
Zbyszko found themselves alone in a separate chamber. Suddenly Jurand
stopped before the young knight and, fixing his eyes upon him, inquired:
"Did you wander about for her sake?"
The other almost harshly retorted:
"Do you suppose that I shall deny it?" And he looked straight into
Jurand's eyes, ready to meet anger with anger. But there was no
indignation in the old warrior's face; there was only almost boundless
"And you saved my child?" he inquired, after a moment, "and dug me out?"
But Zbyszko looked at him in astonishment and fear that his mind was
wandering, because Jurand repeated exactly the same questions that he had
"Be seated," he said, "because it seems to me that you are still weak."
But Jurand raised his hands, placed them on Zbyszko's shoulders, and so
drew him suddenly with all his strength to his breast; the other,
recovering from a momentary amazement, clasped him round the waist and
they embraced each other for a long time, because mutual anxiety and
mutual woe united them.
After relaxing their hold, Zbyszko again embraced the older knight's
knees, and began to kiss his hands with tears in his eyes.
"Will you not object to me?" he asked.
To that Jurand replied: "I did oppose you, because in my soul I
consecrated her to God."
"You devoted her to God, and God to me. His will!"
"His will!" repeated Jurand. "But now we need mercy also."
"Whom will God help, if not a father who seeks his daughter; if not a
husband who seeks his wife? He will certainly not assist robbers."
"But they captured her nevertheless," answered Jurand.
"Then you will return von Bergow to them."
"I shall return all they wish."
But at the thought of the Teutons, the old passion soon awoke in him and
enfolded him like a flame, because he added after a moment through his
"I shall also add to it what they do not want."
"I also swore their ruin," replied Zbyszko, "but now we must make haste
And he commenced to hasten the saddling of the horses. Accordingly, after
they had eaten their oats, and the men had warmed themselves in the
rooms, they started out, although it was growing dark outside. As the way
was long, and a severe frost had set in for the night, Jurand and
Zbyszko, who had not yet regained their strength, traveled in sledges.
Zbyszko told about Uncle Macko, for whom his heart yearned, and regretted
that he was not present, because his courage as well as craft might be of
use, the latter qualification being more necessary against such foes than
courage. At last he turned to Jurand and inquired:
"And are you cunning?... Because I am not."
"Neither am I," retorted Jurand. "I did not fight them with craft, but
with this hand and that which remained in me."
"I understand that," said the young knight. "I understand it because I
love Danusia and because they carried her off. If, God forbid...."
And he did not finish, because the mere thought made him feel not a human
but a wolfs heart in his breast. For some time they rode silently over a
white, moonlight-flooded road; then Jurand commenced to speak as if to
"If they only had any reason to take revenge on me--I would not say! But
gracious God! they had none.... I waged war with them in the field, when
sent on an embassy by our prince to Witold, but here I was like a
neighbor to neighbors.... Bartosz Natecz captured, chained and imprisoned
under ground in Kozmin forty knights who attacked him. The Teutons were
compelled to pay half a wagonful of money for them. While I, when a
German guest happened to come on his way to the Teutons, received and
rewarded him like one knight another. Frequently also, the Teutons came
against me across the swamps. I was not hard on them then, and they did
to me what I would not do even to-day to my greatest foe...."
And terrible recollections began to tear him with increasing force, his
voice died away for an instant in his breast, then he said, half
groaning: "I had only one, like a ewe lamb, like the heart in my breast,
and they captured her like a dog on a rope, and she died there.... Now
again, the child ... Jesus, Jesus!"
And again there was silence. Zbyszko raised his youthful, perplexed face
toward the moon, then again looked at Jurand and inquired:
"Father!... It would be far better for them to earn men's esteem than
their vengeance. Why do they commit so much wrong on all nations and all
But Jurand spread his hands apart as if in despair, and replied with a
choked voice: "I do not know...."
Zbyszko meditated for a time over his own question, presently however his
thoughts turned to Jurand.
"People say that you wreaked a worthy vengeance," he said.
Jurand meanwhile controlled his anguish, bethought himself and said:
"But I swore their ruin ... and I also swore to God that if He would
permit me to glut my vengeance I would surrender to Him the child that
was left to me. This is the reason why I objected to you. But now I do
not know: was it His will, or did you awaken His anger by your action?"
"No," said Zbyszko. "I told you once before that even if the ceremony had
not been performed, yet the scoundrels would have carried her off. God
accepted your vow, and presented me with Danusia, because without His
will we could accomplish nothing."
"Every sin is against God's will."
"A sin is, but not the sacrament. Because the sacrament is God's matter."
"Therefore there is no help."
"And God be blessed there is not! Therefore do not complain, because
nobody would help you against the robbers so well as I will. You will
see! In any case I shall pay them for Danusia, but even if one of those
who captured your deceased be still alive, leave him to me and you shall
But Jurand shook his head.
"No," he answered, gloomily, "none of those will be alive...."
For a time only the snorting of horses and the smothered echo of the
hoofs striking against the beaten road was audible.
"Once at night," continued Jurand, "I heard a voice, as if coming from a
wall, saying to me: 'Enough vengeance!' but I did not obey, because it
was not the voice of the deceased."
"And whose voice could that be?" inquired Zbyszko, anxiously.
"I do not know. In Spychow frequently something talks in the walls, and
sometimes moans, because many have died there in chains underground."
"And what does the priest tell you?"
"The priest sanctified the castle and also ordered me to relinquish
vengeance, but that could not be. I became too hard on them, and then
they themselves sought revenge. They lay in ambush and challenged me in
the field.... And so it was this time. Meineger and von Bergow were the
first to challenge me."
"Did you ever accept ransom?"
"Never! Of those I have captured, von Bergow will be the first to come
The conversation ceased, because they now turned from the broad highway
into a narrower road, on which they traveled for a long time in silence
on account of its tortuous course, and because in some places the snow
formed drifts difficult to traverse. In the spring or summer, on rainy
days, this road must have been almost impassable.
"Are we approaching Spychow already?" asked Zbyszko.
"Yes," answered Jurand. "There is a good deal of forest yet, and then
begin the morasses, in the centre of which is the castle.... Beyond the
morasses are the marshes and dry fields, while the castle can be
approached only by the dike. The Germans wished to capture me repeatedly,
but they could not, and their bones rot among the forest weeds."
"And it is hard to find," said Zbyszko. "If the Teutons send messengers
with letters, how will they find us?"
"They have sent out several times already, and they have people who know
"If we could only meet them at Spychow," said Zbyszko.
This wish was realized sooner than the young knight thought, for issuing
from the forest into the open country, where lay Spychow among the
swamps, they perceived before them two riders and a low sledge, in which
were sitting three dark figures.
The night was very bright, therefore the whole group was perfectly
visible against the white background of snow. Jurand's and Zbyszko's
heart began to beat faster at this sight, because who else would be
riding to Spychow in the middle of the night, but the messengers from the
Zbyszko ordered the driver to go faster, and so they soon came so near
each other, that they could be heard, and two riders, who apparently
watched over the safety of the sledge, turned to them, and, unslinging
their crossbows, cried:
"Who is there?"
"Germans!" whispered Jurand to Zbyszko.
Then he raised his voice and said:
"It is my right to ask, and yours to reply!"
"Who are you?"
"What sort of travelers?"
"It is they!" again whispered Jurand.
Meanwhile the sledges had come together, and at the same time six
horsemen appeared before them. This was the guard of Spychow, which
watched the dike leading to the castle day and night. With the horses
were very large and savage dogs, exactly resembling wolves.
The guardsmen, having recognized Jurand, began to utter cries of welcome
mingled with astonishment that the master had returned so soon and
unexpectedly; but he was entirely engaged with the messengers, and
therefore turned to them again:
"Where are you traveling to?" he asked.
"What do you want there?"
"We can tell that only to the lord himself."
Jurand was about to say: "I am the lord of Spychow;" but he restrained
himself, feeling that conversation could not be carried on in the
presence of others. He asked them instead, whether they had any letters,
and, when they replied that they were ordered to communicate verbally, he
gave orders to drive as fast as the horses could go. Zbyszko was equally
anxious to hear news of Danusia, and could not turn his attention to
anything else. He became impatient when the guards on the dike stopped
them twice; and when the bridge was lowered over the moat, behind which
rose on the mound a gigantic palisade, and although he had previously
often desired to see that castle of ominous fame, at the mention of which
the Germans made the sign of a cross, now he saw nothing but the Teuton
messengers, from whom he might hear where Danusia was and when she would
be set at liberty. He did not foresee though, that a great disappointment
was awaiting him. Besides the horsemen, who were given for defence, and
the driver, the embassy from Szczytno was composed of two persons: one of
these was the same woman who had once brought the healing balsam to the
Forest Court; the other was a young _pontnik_. Zbyszko did not
recognize the woman, because he had not seen her at the Forest Court; the
_pontnik_ at once seemed to him to be a disguised warrior. Jurand soon
led both into the neighboring room, and halted before them, huge, and
almost terrible in the glow of the fire, which fell upon him from the
logs burning in the chimney.
"Where is the child?" he asked.
But they were frightened, standing face to face with a menacing man.
Although the _pontnik_ had an insolent face, he simply trembled like a
leaf, and the woman's legs trembled also. She glanced from Jurand to
Zbyszko, and then at the shining bald head of the priest Kaleb, and then
again at Jurand, as if inquiring what the other two were doing there.
"Sir," she said, finally, "we do not know what you are asking, but we
were sent to you on important matters. Yet, the one who sent us ordered
us explicitly, that the conversation should be held without witnesses."
"I have no secrets from these!" said Jurand.
"But we have, noble lord," replied the woman, "and if you order them to
remain, then we shall ask for nothing but that you allow us to leave
Anger appeared in Jurand's face as he was not used to opposition. For a
moment his tawny moustache worked ominously, but he reflected, "For
Danusia's sake!" and restrained himself. Moreover, Zbyszko, who wanted
above all things that the conversation might be concluded as soon as
possible, and felt sure that Jurand would repeat it to him, said:
"If it must be so, then remain alone." And he left, together with the
priest Kaleb; but he scarcely found himself in the main hall, in which
were hanging targets and weapons, captured by Jurand, when Glowacz
"Sir," he said, "that is the same woman!"
"From the Teutons, who brought the balsam. I recognized her at once, and
so did Sanderus. She came, at it seems, to spy, and she certainly knows
now where the lady is."
"And we shall know," said Zbyszko.
"Do you also know that _pontnik_?"
"No," replied Sanderus; "but do not buy, sir, any remissions from him,
because he is a false _pontnik_,"
"If you put him to the torture, you might obtain a lot of information."
"Wait!" said Zbyszko.
Meanwhile, in the next room hardly had the doors closed behind Zbyszko
and the priest Kaleb, when the sister of the Order quickly approached
Jurand and whispered:
"Robbers captured your daughter."
"With crosses on their robes?"
"No. But God blessed the pious brethren, so that they recovered her, and
now she is with them."
"Where is she, I ask."
"Under the care of the religious Brother Shomberg," she answered,
crossing her hands on her breast and bowing humbly.
But Jurand, hearing the dreadful name of the hangman of Witold's
children, turned as pale as linen; after a moment he sat on a bench, shut
his eyes, and began to wipe away the cold perspiration, which collected
in beads on his forehead.
Seeing this, the _pontnik_, although he had not hitherto been able to
restrain his fear, now put his hands on his hips, lounged on the bench,
stretched out his legs and looked at Jurand, with eyes full of pride and
scorn. A long silence followed.
"Brother Markward also assists Brother Shomberg in guarding her," again
said the woman; "it is a vigilant watch and no harm will happen to the
"What am I to do in order to get her back?" inquired Jurand.
"To humble yourself before the Order!" proudly said the _pontnik_.
At this Jurand arose, went up to him, and bending down over him, said in
concentrated, terrible tones:
And the _pontnik_ was again terror-stricken. He knew, that he could
threaten and say what would tame and overwhelm Jurand, but he was
terrified lest, before saying a word, something dreadful would happen to
him; he therefore remained silent, with dilated eyes, as if petrified
with fear, fixed on the threatening face of the lord of Spychow, and sat
motionless, only his beard began to quiver with agitation.
Jurand again turned to the sister of the Order:
"Have you a letter?"
"No, sir. We have no letter. What we have to say, we were ordered to say
And she repeated again, as if wishing that Jurand should impress it well
in his memory:
"Brother Shomberg and Brother Markward watch over the lady; therefore,
you sir, restrain your anger.... But no evil will happen to her, because
although you have gravely injured the Order for many years, nevertheless
the brethren wish to repay you good for evil if you comply with their
"What do they wish?"
"They wish you to release Herr von Bergow."
Jurand breathed heavily.
"I will return von Bergow to them," he said.
"And the other prisoners that you have in Spychow."
"There are two retainers of Meineger and von Bergow, besides their boys."
"You must release them, sir, and make amends for the imprisonment."
"God forbid that I should bargain for my child."
"The religious friars expected that from you," said the woman, "but this
is not all that I was ordered to say. Your daughter, sir, was captured by
some men, undoubtedly robbers, and certainly for the purpose of demanding
a rich ransom. God permitted the brethren to recapture her, and now they
demand nothing but the return of their brother and associate. But the
brethren know, and you, too, sir, what hatred there is in this country
against them, and how unfairly even their most righteous actions are
judged. For this reason the brethren are sure that, if the people here
found out that your daughter was with them, they would at once begin to
suspect that they had captured her, and would consequently utter only
slander and complaints.... O yes, evil and malicious people here have
frequently repaid them so, and the reputation of the holy Order has
suffered greatly by it, and the brethren are greatly concerned about it,
and therefore they add this sole condition that you alone assure the
prince of this country and all the mighty knights that it is true, that
not the Teutonic knights, but robbers carried off your daughter, and that
you had to ransom her from robbers."
"It is true," said Jurand, "that bandits have captured my child, and that
I have to buy her back from bandits...."
"You shall tell nobody otherwise, because if only one person should find
out that you come to terms with the brethren, if only one living soul or
only one complaint were sent to the master, or the assembly, great
complications would ensue."
Jurand's face exhibited great alarm. At the first moment it seemed to him
quite natural that the knights required secrecy, fearing responsibility
and disgrace, but now a suspicion arose in his mind that there might be
another reason, but, not being able to account for it, he was seized with
such terror as sometimes happens to the most courageous when danger does
not threaten them alone, but also their relatives and loved ones.
He determined however to find out more from the Order's servant.
"The knights wish secrecy," he said, "but how can it be kept, when I
release von Bergow and the others in return for my child?"
"You will say that you accepted ransom for von Bergow in order to be able
to pay the robbers."
"People will not believe it, because I never accepted ransom," gloomily
"But your child was never in question," hissed the messenger in reply.
And again silence followed, after which the _pontnik_, who, in the
meanwhile had gained courage, and judged that Jurand must now restrain
himself more, said:
"Such is the will of the brethren Shomberg and Markward."
The messenger continued:
"You will say, that this _pontnik_ who came with me, brought you the
ransom, we also will leave here with the noble von Bergow and the
"How so?" said Jurand, frowning, "do you think that I will give up the
prisoners before you return my child?"
"You can act, sir, still differently. You can call personally for your
daughter at Szczytno, whither the brethren will bring her to you."
"I? at Szczytno?"
"Because, should the bandits capture her again on the way, your and your
people's suspicion would again fall upon the pious knights, and therefore
they prefer to give her into your own hands."
"And who will pledge himself for my return, if I walk alone into a wolf's
"The virtue of the brethren, their justice and godliness!"
Jurand began to walk up and down the room. He began to suspect treason
and feared it, but he felt at the same time that the Teutons could impose
any conditions they pleased upon him, and that he was powerless before
However, an idea struck him, and suddenly halting before the _pontnik_,
he gazed at him with a piercing look, and then turned to the messenger
"Well, I will go to Szczytno. You and this man, who is wearing _pontnik_
garb, will remain here until my return, after which you will leave with
von Bergow and the prisoners."
"Do you refuse, sir, to believe friars." said the _pontnik_; "how then
can they trust you to liberate us and von Bergow on your return?"
Jurand's face turned pale with fury, and a critical moment followed, in
which it almost seemed that he would catch the _pontnik_ by the throat
and dash him to the floor; but he suppressed his anger, drew a deep
breath and commenced to speak slowly but emphatically.
"Whoever you are, do not strain my patience to the breaking point!"
But the _pontnik_ turned to the sister: "Speak! what you were ordered."
"Lord," she said: "we would not dare distrust your oath upon your sword
and knightly honor, but it is not proper for you to swear before people
of low rank. And we were not sent for your oath."
"What were you sent for?"
"The brethren told us that, without saying anything to anybody, you must
appear at Szczytno with von Bergow and the prisoners."
At that, Jurand's shoulders began to draw together, and his fingers to
extend like the claws of a bird of prey; at last, stopping before the
woman, he bent down, as if to speak into her ear, and said:
"Did they not tell you that I should order you and von Bergow to be
broken on the wheel in Spychow?"
"Your daughter is in the power of the brethren, and under the care of
Shomberg and Markward," replied the sister, meaningly.
"Robbers, poisoners, hangmen!" burst forth Jurand.
"Who are able to avenge us and who said at our departure: 'Should he not
comply with all our orders, it would be far better that the girl should
die, as Witold's children died.' Choose!"
"And understand that you are in the power of the knights," remarked the
_pontnik_. "They do not wish to do you any harm, and the _starosta_ of
Szczytno sends you his word by us that you shall go free from his castle;
but they want you, for the wrong done to them, to present your respects
to the Teuton, and beg for the victor's mercy. They want to forgive you,
but they first wish to bend your stubborn neck. You denounced them as
traitors and perjurers.--therefore they want you to acknowledge their
good faith. They will restore you and your daughter to liberty--but you
must beg for it. You trampled upon them--now you must swear that your
hand will never, be raised against the white robe."
"The knights wish it so," added the woman, "and Markward and Shomberg
A moment of deathlike silence followed. It seemed only that somewhere
among the beams of the ceiling some smothered echo repeated as if in
terror: "Markward ... Shomberg."
Outside the windows could be heard the voices of Jurand's archers keeping
watch on the mounds near the palisade of the castle.
The _pontnik_ and the servant of the Order looked for a long time at each
other and Jurand, who sat leaning against the wall, motionless, and with
a face deeply shadowed by furs suspended by the window. His brain
contained only one thought, that, if he did not do what the Teutons
demanded, they would destroy his child; again, if he should do it, he
might perhaps even then not save Danusia nor himself. And he saw no help,
no way of escape. He felt a pitiless superior force over him which was
crushing him. He saw in his soul already the iron hands of a Teuton on
Danusia's throat; knowing them thoroughly, he did not doubt for a moment
that they would kill her, bury her in the castle yard, and then deny
it,--and who would then be able to prove that they had captured her?
It was true that Jurand had the messengers in his power; he could bring
them to the prince and get a confession by means of torture, but the
Teutons had Danusia, and they might not care about their agents' torture.
And for a moment he seemed to see his child stretching out her hands from
afar, asking for assistance.... If he at least knew that she was really
at Szczytno, then he could go that very night to the border, attack the
unsuspecting Germans, capture the castle, destroy the garrison and
liberate the child--but she might not be and positively was not in
Szczytno. It flashed like lightning through his head, that if he were to
seize the woman and the _pontnik_, and take them directly to the grand
master, then perhaps the master could draw confessions from them and
might order the return of his daughter; but that gleam was extinguished
almost as quickly as it took fire.
These people could tell the master that they came to ransom von Bergow
and that they knew nothing about a girl. No! that way led to nothing, but
what did? He thought, that should he go to Szczytno they would chain him
and cast him under ground, while Danusia would not be released, lest it
should transpire that they had captured her, if for no other reason. And
meanwhile death hung over his only child, death over the last dear
head!... And finally his thoughts grew confused, and the pain became so
great, that it overpowered itself and became numbness. He sat motionless,
for his body became as dead as if cut out of stone. If he wanted to rise
now, he would not be able to do so.
Meanwhile the others grew tired of the long waiting, therefore the
servant of the Order arose and said:
"It will be soon daylight, therefore permit us, sir, to retire, because
we need a rest."
"And refreshment after the long journey," added the _pontnik_. Then they
both bowed to Jurand and went out.
But he continued to sit motionless, as if seized by sleep or death.
Presently, however, the door opened and Zbyszko appeared, followed by the
"Who are the messengers? What do they want?" inquired the young knight,
Jurand quivered, but at first answered nothing; he only began to blink
like a man awakened from a sound sleep.
"Sir, are you not ill?" said the priest Kaleb, who, knowing Jurand
better, noticed that something curious was taking place within him.
"No!" replied Jurand.
"And Danusia?" further inquired Zbyszko; "where is she and what did they
say to you?"
"What did they bring?"
"The ransom," slowly replied Jurand.
"The ransom for von Bergow?"
"For von Bergow...."
"How so, for von Bergow? what is the matter with you?"
But in his voice there was something so strange and listless that a
sudden fear seized those two, especially because Jurand spoke of the
ransom and not the exchange of von Bergow for Danusia.
"Gracious God!" exclaimed Zbyszko: "where is Danusia?"
"She is not with the Teutons,--no!" replied Jurand, in a sleepy tone; and
suddenly he fell from the bench upon the floor as if dead.
The following day at noon the messengers saw Jurand, and soon afterward
they rode away taking with them von Bergow, two esquires and a number of
other prisoners. Jurand then summoned Father Kaleb and dictated a letter
to the prince, stating that Danusia had not been carried off by the
Knights of the Order, but that he had succeeded in discovering her
refuge, and hoped to recover her in a few days. He repeated the same to
Zbyszko, who had been wild with astonishment, dread and perplexity since
the night before.
The old knight refused to answer any of his questions, telling him
instead to wait patiently and not to undertake anything for the
liberation of Danusia, because it was unnecessary.
Toward evening he shut himself in again with Father Kaleb, whom he had
ordered to write down his last will; then he confessed himself, and after
receiving the sacrament, he summoned Zbyszko, and the old taciturn
Tolima, who used to accompany him in all his expeditions and fights, and
in times of peace administered the affairs of Spychow.
"Here," he said, turning to the old warrior and raising his voice, as if
he was speaking to a man who could not hear well, "is the husband of my
daughter whom he married at the prince's court, for which he had my
entire consent. Therefore, after my death, he will be the master and
owner of the castle, the soil, forests, waters, people and all the craft
Hearing this, Tolima was greatly surprised and began to turn his square
head to Jurand and to Zbyszko alternately, he said nothing, however,
because he scarcely ever did say anything, he only bowed to Zbyszko and
lightly embraced his knees. And Jurand continued:
"This is my will, written by Father Kaleb, and below is my seal in wax;
you must testify that you have heard this from me, and that I ordered
that the young knight should be obeyed here even as I am. Furthermore,
what is in the treasury in booty and money, you will show him, and you
will serve him faithfully in peace as well as in war till death. Did you
Tolima raised his hands to his ears and nodded his head, then, at a sign
from Jurand, he bowed and went out; the knight again turned to Zbyszko
and said impressively:
"There is enough in the treasury to satisfy the greatest greed and to
ransom not one but a hundred captives. Remember!"
But Zbyszko inquired:
"And why are you giving me Spychow already?"
"I give you more than Spychow, in the child."
"And we know not the hour of death," said Father Kaleb.
"Yes, unknown," repeated Jurand, sadly, "a short time ago, the snow
covered me up, and, although God saved me, I have no more my old
"Gracious God!" exclaimed Zbyszko, "something his changed within you
since yesterday, and you prefer to speak of death than of Danusia.
"Danusia will return, she will," replied Jurand; "she is under God's
protection. But if she returns ... listen ... take her to Bogdaniec and
leave Spychow with Tolima.... He is a faithful man, and this is a wild
neighborhood.... There they cannot capture her with a rope ... there she
"Hej!" cried Zbyszko, "and you talk already as if from the other world.
What is that?"
"Because I went half-way to the other world, and now I seem to be ill.
And I also care for my child ... because I have only her. And, you too,
although I know that you love her...."
Here he interrupted, and drawing a short weapon from its sheath, called
the _misericordia_, he held the handle toward Zbyszko.
"Swear to me now upon this little cross that you will never harm her and
that you will love her constantly...."
And tears suddenly started in Zbyszko's eyes; in a moment he fell upon
his knees and, putting a finger on the hilt, exclaimed:
"Upon the Holy Passion, I will never harm, and will love her constantly!"
"Amen," said Father Kaleb.
Jurand again put the "dagger of mercy" back into the sheath and extended
"Then you are my child too!..."
They separated then, because it was late, and they had had no good rest
for several days. However, Zbyszko got up the following morning at
daybreak, because the previous day he had been frightened, lest Jurand
were really falling ill, and he wished to learn how the older knight had
spent the night. Before the door to Jurand's room he met Tolima, who had
just left it.
"How is the lord? well?" he inquired.
The other again bowed, and then, putting his hand to his ear, said:
"What orders, your grace?"
"I am asking how the lord is?" repeated Zbyszko, louder.
"The lord has departed."
"I do not know.... In arms!"
The dawn was just beginning to whiten the trees, bushes and boulders
scattered in the fields, when the hired guide, walking beside Jurand's
horse, stopped and said:
"Permit me to rest, knight, for I am out of breath. It is thawing and
foggy, but it is not far now."
"You will conduct me to the road, and then return," replied Jurand.
"The road will be to the right behind the forest, and you will soon see
the castle from the hill."
Then the peasant commenced to strike his hands against his armpits,
because he was chilled with the morning dampness; he then sat on a stone,
because this exercise made him still more breathless.
"Do you know whether the count is in the castle?" inquired Jurand.
"Where else could he be, since he is ill?"
"What ails him?"
"People say that the Polish knights gave him a beating," replied the old
peasant. And there was a feeling of satisfaction in his voice. He was a
Teuton subject, but his Mazovian heart rejoiced over the superiority of
the Polish knights.
He presently added:
"Hej! our lords are strong, but they have a hard task with them."
But immediately after saying this, he looked sharply at the knight, as if
to convince himself that nothing bad would happen to him for the words
which he had heedlessly let slip and said:
"You, lord, speak our language; you are no German?"
"No," replied Jurand; "but lead on."
The peasant arose, and again began to walk beside the horse. On the way,
he now and then put his hand into a leathern pouch, pulled out a handful
of unground corn, and put it into his mouth, and when he had thus
satisfied his first hunger, he began to explain why he ate raw grains,
although Jurand was too much occupied with his own misfortune and his own
thoughts, to heed him.
"God be blessed for that," he said. "A hard life under our German lords!
They lay such taxes upon grist, that a poor man must eat the grain with
the chaff, like an ox. And when they find a hand-mill in a cottage, they
execute the peasant, take whatever he has, bah! they do not pardon even
women and children.... They fear neither God nor the priests. They even
put the priest in chains for blaming them for it. Oh, it is hard under
the Germans! If a man does grind some grains between two stones, then he
keeps that handful of flour for the holy Sunday, and must eat like birds
on Friday. But God be blessed for even that, because two or three months
before the harvest there will not be even that much. It is not permitted
to catch fish ... nor kill animals ... It is not as it is in Mazowsze."
The Teutonic peasant complained, speaking partly to himself, and partly
to Jurand, and meanwhile they passed through a waste country, covered
with limestone boulders, heaped with snow, and entered a forest, which
looked grey in the morning light, and from which came a sharp, damp
coolness. It became broad daylight; otherwise it would have been
difficult for Jurand to travel along the forest road, which ran somewhat
up hill, and was so narrow that his gigantic battle-horse could, in some
places, hardly pass between the trunks. But the forest soon ended, and in
a few "_Paters_," they reached the summit of a white hill, across the
middle of which ran a beaten road.
"This is the road, lord," said the peasant; "you will find the way alone,
"I shall," replied Jurand. "Return home, man." And putting his hand into
a leather bag, fastened in front of the saddle, he took from it a silver
coin and handed it to the guide. The peasant, accustomed more to blows
than to gifts from the local Teutonic knights, could scarcely believe his
eyes, and catching the money, dropped his head to Jurand's stirrup and
"O Jesus, Mary!" he exclaimed: "God reward your honor!"
"God be with you!"
"God's grace be with you! Szczytno is before you."
Then he once more bent down to the stirrup and disappeared. Jurand
remained on the hill alone and looked in the direction indicated by the
peasant, at a grey, moist veil of fog, which concealed the world before
him. Behind this fog was hidden that ominous castle, to which he was
driven by superior force and misery. It is already near, then, and what
must happen, must happen.... As that thought came into Jurand's heart, in
addition to his fear and anxiety about Danusia, and his readiness to
redeem her from a foe's hands even with his own blood, he experienced a
new, exceedingly bitter, and hitherto unknown feeling of humiliation. And
now Jurand, at the mere mention of whose name the neighboring counts
trembled, was riding to their command with a bowed head. He who had
defeated and trampled under foot so many of them, now felt himself
defeated and trampled upon. It is true, they had not overcome him in the
field with courage and knightly strength, nevertheless he felt himself
subdued. And it was to him something so unusual, that it seemed as if the
entire order of the world were subverted. He was going to submit himself
to the Teutons, he, who would rather meet single-handed the entire Teuton
force, if it were not for Danusia's sake. Had it not happened already,
that a single knight, having to choose between disgrace and death had
attacked whole armies? But he felt that he might meet disgrace, and, at
that thought, his heart groaned with agony as a wolf howls when it feels
the dart within it.
But he was a man with not only a body, but also a soul, of iron. He knew
how to subdue others, he knew also how to subdue himself.
"I will not move," he said to himself, "until I have overcome this anger
with which I should rather lose than deliver my child."
And he wrestled with his hard heart, his inveterate hatred and his desire
to fight. Whoever had seen him on that hill, in armor, on a gigantic
horse, would have said that he was some giant, wrought out of iron, and
would not have recognized that that motionless knight at that moment was
waging the hottest of all the battles of his life. But he fought with
himself until he had entirely overcome and felt that his will would not
fail him. Meanwhile the mist thinned, although it did not disappear
entirely, but finally something darker loomed through it.
Jurand guessed that these were the walls of the castle of Szczytno. At
the sight of it he still did not move from the place, but began to pray
so fervidly and ardently as a man prays, when nothing is left for him in
the world but God's mercy. And when his horse did finally move, he felt
that some sort of confidence was beginning to enter his heart. He was now
prepared to suffer everything that could befall him. There came back to
his memory Saint George, a descendant of the greatest race in Cappadocia,
who suffered various shameful tortures, and nevertheless not only did not
lose any honor, but is placed on the right hand of God and appointed
patron of all knighthood. Jurand had sometimes heard tales of his
exploits from the abbots, who came from distant countries, and now he
strengthened his heart with these recollections.
Slowly even, hope began to awaken in him. The Teutons were indeed famous
for their desire of revenge, therefore he did not doubt that they would
take vengeance on him for all the defeats which he had inflicted upon
them, for the disgrace which had fallen upon them after each encounter,
and for the dread in which they had lived for so many years.
But that very consideration increased his courage. He thought that they
had captured Danusia only in order to get him; therefore of what use
would she be to them, after they had gotten him? Yes! They would
undoubtedly seize him, and, not daring to keep him near Mazowsze, they
would send him to some distant castle, where perhaps he would have to
groan until his life's end under ground, but they would liberate Danusia.
Even if it should prove that they had got him insidiously and by
oppression, neither the grand master nor the assembly would blame them
very much for that, because Jurand was actually very hard on the Teutons,
and shed more of their blood than did any other knight in the world. But
that same grand master would perhaps punish them for the imprisonment of
the innocent girl, who was moreover a foster-daughter of the prince,
whose favor he was seeking on account of the threatening war with the
And his hope constantly increased. At times it seemed to him almost
certain that Danusia would return to Spychow, under Zbyszko's powerful
protection.... "He is a strong man," he thought; "he will not permit
anybody to injure her." And he began to recall with affection all he knew
of Zbyszko: "He defeated the Germans at Wilno, fought single-handed
against the Fryzjans whom he challenged with his uncle and quartered, he
also beat Lichtenstein, saved the child from the wild bull, and he
challenged those four, whom he will surely not pardon." Here Jurand
raised his eyes toward heaven and said: "I gave her to you, O Lord, and
you to Zbyszko!"
And he gained still more confidence, judging that if God had given her to
the youth, then He would certainly not allow the Germans to mock him but
snatch her out of their hands, even if the entire Teuton power should
oppose it. But then he commenced to think again about Zbyszko: "Bah! he
is not only a mighty man but also as true as gold. He will guard her,
love her, and Jesus! be good to her; but it seems to me, that, by his
side she will neither miss the princely court nor paternal love...." At
that thought his eyelids became suddenly moist, and a great yearning
filled us heart. He would like to see his child once more at least in his
life, and at some future time die in Spychow near those two, and not in
the dark Teuton cells. "But God's will be done!" Szczytno was already
visible. The walls became more distinct in the mist, the hour of
sacrifice was approaching; he therefore began to comfort himself, and
said to himself: "Surely, it is God's will! but the end of life is near.
A few years more or less, the result will be the same. Hej! I would like
to see both children yet, but, justly speaking, I have lived long enough.
Whatever I had to experience, I did; whomever to revenge, I revenged. And
what now? Rather to God, than to the world; and since it is necessary to
suffer, then it is necessary. Danusia with Zbyszko, even when most
prosperous, will not forget. Surely, they will sometimes recollect and
ask: where is he? is he alive yet, or already in God's court of justice?
They will inquire and perhaps find out. The Teutons are very revengeful,
but also very greedy for ransom. Zbyszko would not grudge ransoming the
bones at least. And they will surely order more than one mass. The hearts
of both are honest and loving, for which may God and the Most Holy Mother
The road became not only broader but also more frequented. Wagons laden
with lumber and straw were on the way to the town. Herders were driving
cattle. Frozen fish were carried on sledges from the lakes. In one place
four archers led a peasant on a chain to court for some offence, for he
had his hands tied behind him, and on his feet were fetters which,
dragging in the snow, hardly enabled him to move. From his panting
nostrils and mouth escaped breath in the shape of wreaths of vapor, while
they sang as they urged him on. Or seeing Jurand, they began to look at
him inquisitively, apparently marvelling at the huge proportions of the
rider and horse; but, at the sight of the golden spurs and knightly belt,
they lowered then crossbows as a sign of welcome and respect. The town
was still more populous and noisy, but everybody hastily got out of the
armed man's way, while he, traversing the main street, turned toward the
castle which, wrapped in clouds, seemed to sleep yet.
Not everything around slept, at least not the crows and ravens, whole
flights of which were stirring on the elevation, which constituted the
entrance to the castle, flapping their wings and crowing. On coming
nearer, Jurand understood the cause of their gathering. Beside the road
leading to the gate of the castle, stood wide gallows, on which were
hanging the bodies of four Mazovian peasants. There was not the least
breath of wind, therefore the corpses, which seemed to be looking at
their own feet, did not sway at all, except when the black buds perched
upon their shoulders and heads, jostling one another, striking the ropes
and pecking the bowed heads. Some of the hanged men must have been there
for a long time, because their skulls were entirely naked, and their legs
very much lengthened. At Jurand's approach, the flock arose with a great
noise, but they soon turned in the air and began to settle on the
crossbeam of the gallows. Jurand passed them, crossing himself,
approached the moat, and, stopping at the place where the drawbridge was
raised before the gate, sounded the horn.
He sounded it a second and a third time and waited. There was no living
soul upon the walls, nor could a voice be heard within the gates. After a
while though, a heavy flap, visible behind a grate built in stone near
the castle gate, was raised with a crash, and in the opening appeared the
bearded head of a German servant.
"_Wer da?_" inquired a harsh voice.
"Jurand of Spychow!" replied the knight.
Immediately the flap was closed again and deep silence followed.
Time passed. No movement was heard behind the gate, only the cawing of
birds reached his ear from the direction of the gallows.
Jurand stood yet a long time before he raised the horn and sounded it
again. But silence again was the sole response.
Now he understood that he was kept before the gate by Teuton pride, which
knew no bounds before the defeated, in order to humiliate him like a
beggar. He also guessed that he would have to wait thus until evening, or
even longer. Consequently his blood began to boil in the first moments;
he was suddenly seized with the desire to dismount, pick up one of the
rocks which lay near the moat, and cast it at the grate. He and every
other Mazovian or Polish knight would have done so, under other
circumstances, and let them come then from behind the gate and fight him.
But recollecting for what purpose he had come, he bethought himself and
"Have I not sacrificed myself for my child?" he said in his soul.
And he waited.
Meanwhile something black appeared in the loopholes of the wall. There
appeared heads covered with fur, dark hoods and even iron bars, from
behind which curious eyes gazed at the knight. More came every moment,
because the terrible Jurand, waiting solitarily before the Teuton gate,
was an unusual sight for the garrison. Whoever had seen him hitherto, had
seen death, but now he could be looked at in safety. The heads constantly
multiplied till at last all the loopholes near the gate were occupied by
servants. Jurand thought that also the superiors must be looking at him
through the grates of the windows in the adjacent tower, and he turned
his eyes in that direction, but there the windows were cut in deep walls,
and it was impossible to see through them. But in the apertures, the
group of people who at first looked at him silently, began to talk. One
after another repeated his name, here and there laughter was heard, gruff
voices shouted as if at a wolf, louder and more insolently, and when,
apparently, nobody among them interfered, they finally began to throw
snow at the standing knight. He moved his horse as if involuntarily and
then for a moment the throwing of snow ceased, voices quieted down, and
even some heads disappeared behind the walls. Surely, Jurand's name must
have been very menacing! Soon, however, even the most cowardly bethought
themselves that a moat and a wall separated them from that terrible
Mazovian, therefore the rough soldiery again commenced to throw not only
small lumps of snow, but also ice, and even shards and stones, which
rebounded with a clang from the armor which covered the horse.
"I have sacrificed myself for the child," repeated Jurand to himself.
And he waited. Noontime arrived, the walls were deserted, because the
retainers were called to dinner. A few, those that had to be on guard,
ate their meal on the wall, and, after having eaten, entertained
themselves with throwing the picked bones at the hungry knight. They also
began to tease and question each other who would dare to descend and
strike him with the fist in the neck, or with the handle of the lance.
Others, returning from their meal, called to him that if he disliked
waiting he could hang himself, because there was a vacant hook on the
gallows with a ready rope. And amidst such mockery, cries, bursts of
laughter and cursing, the afternoon hours passed. The short wintry day
gradually drew toward evening, and the drawbridge was still up and the
gate remained closed.
But toward evening a wind arose, dispersed the mist, cleared the sky and
revealed the sunset glow.
The snow became dark-blue, and then violet. There was no frost, but the
night promised to be fair. The walls were again deserted by all but the
guard; the rooks and crows departed from the gallows to the forests.
Finally the sky darkened and complete silence followed.
"They will not open the gate before nightfall," thought Jurand.
And for a moment he thought to return to the city, but he soon gave up
that idea. "They want me to stand here," he said to himself. "If I
return, they will certainly not let me go home, but surround and capture
me, and then they will say that they owe me nothing, because they took me
by force, and if I should ride over them, even then I must return...."
The great endurance of the Polish knights for cold, hunger and hardships,
so admired by foreign chroniclers, frequently enabled them to perform
deeds which the less hardy people from the west could not undertake.
Jurand possessed that endurance to a still greater degree than others;
therefore, although hunger had long since began to gripe him, and the
evening frost penetrated his fur, which was covered with iron plates, he
determined to wait, even if he had to die before this gate.
But suddenly, before it became entirely dark, he heard behind him the
sound of footsteps in the snow.
He looked back: there were coming toward him, from the direction of the
city, six men, armed with lances and halberds; in their midst walked a
seventh man supporting himself on a weapon.
"They will perhaps open the gate for them and then I shall ride in with
them," thought Jurand. "They will not try to take me by force, nor kill
me, because there are too few; should they attack me, however, it will
prove that they do not mean to keep their promise, and then--woe to
Thus thinking, he raised the steel axe hanging at his saddle, so heavy,
that its weight was too great for the two hands of an ordinary man, and
moved toward them.
But they did not think of attacking him. On the contrary, the servants
planted their lances and halberds in the snow, and as the night was not
entirely dark yet, Jurand saw that the handles somewhat trembled in their
The seventh, who appeared to be the superior, put out his left arm
quickly, and turning his hand upward, said:
"Are you the knight Jurand of Spychow?"
"Do you wish to hear my message?"
"The powerful and religious Count von Danveld ordered me to tell you,
lord, that until you dismount, the gate will not be opened for you."
Jurand remained motionless for a while, then he dismounted, the horse
being instantly taken away by one of the archers.
"The arms must be surrendered to us," again said the man with the weapon.
The lord of Spychow hesitated. Perhaps they would attack him unarmed, and
kill him like a beast; or capture and cast him under ground? But after a
moment he thought that if it were to be so, they would have sent more
men. But should they throw themselves on him, they would not destroy his
armor at once, and then he could wrench a weapon from the nearest and
kill them all before assistance could arrive. They knew him well.
"And even if they should wish to shed my blood," he said to himself, "I
came for no other purpose than that."
Thus thinking, he threw down first the axe, then the sword, and finally
the _misericordia_, and waited. They took everything, and then the man
who had addressed him previously, withdrawing several steps, stopped and
began to speak in an insolent, loud voice:
"For all the wrongs you have done to the Order, you must, by the count's
orders, put on this sack cloth which I leave here, tie around your neck
the scabbard of your sword with a rope, and wait humbly at the gate until
the count's grace orders it to be opened for you."
And the next moment Jurand remained alone in the darkness and silence. In
the snow before him the penitential robe and rope showed black while he
stood long, feeling something in his soul dissolving, breaking,
agonizing, dying, and that shortly he would be a knight no more, Jurand
of Spychow no more, but a beggar, a slave without a name, without fame,
Therefore, a long time passed before he approached the penitential robe,
"How can I do otherwise? Christ, Thou knowest they will kill the innocent
child, if I do not do all they order. And Thou also knowest that I would
not do that for the sake of my own life! Disgrace is a distasteful
thing!... distasteful!--but Thou also wast disgraced of old. Well then,
in the name of the Father and of the Son...."
He then bent down, put on the robe in which were cut the openings for the
head and hands, then he tied around his neck the scabbard of his sword,
and dragged himself to the gate.
He did not find it open; but now it was immaterial to him whether they
opened it sooner or later. The castle sank into nocturnal silence, only
the guards called now and then to each other on the bastions. In the
tower near the gate there was light in one window high up; the others
The night hours flew one after another, on the sky appeared the crescent
moon and threw light upon the gloomy walls of the castle. It became so
quiet that Jurand was able to hear his own heart-beats. But he stiffened
and became entirely petrified, as if his soul were taken from him, and
took no account of anything. One thought remained with him, that he had
ceased to be a knight, Jurand of Spychow, but what he was he did not
know.... Sometimes it also seemed to him that in the middle of the night
death was coming to him across the snow from those hanged men that he had
seen in the morning....
Suddenly he quivered and awoke entirely.
"O gracious Christ! what is that?"
From the high window in the adjacent tower, the sounds of a lute, hardly
heard at first, reached his ear. Jurand, while on the way to Szczytno,
was sure that Danusia was not in the castle, and yet this sound of the
lute at night aroused his heart in an instant. It seemed to him that he
knew those sounds, and that nobody else was playing but she--his child!
his darling.... He therefore fell upon his knees, clasped his hands to
pray, and listened shivering, as in a fever.
Just then a half-childish and as if ardently longing voice began to sing:
"Had I the dear little wings
Of a gosling,
I would fly
To Jasiek at Szlonsk."
Jurand wished to reply, to utter the dear name, but his words were
imprisoned in his throat, as if an iron band squeezed them. A sudden wave
of pain, tears, longing, suffering, collected in his breast; be therefore
cast himself down with his face in the snow and began in ecstasy to call
upon heaven in his soul, as if in thankful prayer:
"O Jesus! I hear my child once again! O Jesus!" ...
And weeping began to tear his gigantic body. Above, the longing voice
continued to sing amid the undisturbed silence of the night:
"Would that I might sit
In the little Szlonsk garden
To gaze upon little Jasiek
The poor orphan!"
In the morning a stout, bearded German retainer began to prod the ribs of
the knight lying at the gate.
"Upon your feet, dog!... The gate is open, and the count orders you to
appear before him."
Jurand awoke, as if from sleep. He did not catch the man by the throat,
he did not crush him in his iron hands, he had a quiet and almost humble
face; he arose, and, without saying a word, followed the soldier through
He had hardly crossed, when a clang of chains was heard, and the bridge
began to be drawn up again, while in the gateway itself fell a heavy iron
END OF PART FOURTH.
Jurand, finding himself in the castleyard, did not know at first where to
go, because the servant, who had led him through the gate, had left him
and gone toward the stables. It is true, the soldiers stood near the
palisades, either singly or in groups, but their faces were so insolent,
and their looks so derisive, that the knight could easily guess that they
would not show him the way, and even if they were to make a reply to his
question, it would be a brutal or an indignant one.
Some laughed, pointing at him with their fingers, others commenced to
throw snow at him, like yesterday. But he, noticing a door larger than
the others, over which was cut out in stone Christ on a cross, turned to
it, thinking that if the count and the elders were in another part of the
castle or in other rooms, somebody must set him right.
And so it happened. The instant Jurand approached that particular door,
both halves of it opened suddenly, and there stood before it a youth with
a head shaven like the clericals, but dressed in a worldly dress, who
"Are you Sir Jurand of Spychow?"
"The pious count ordered me to guide you. Follow me."
And he commenced to lead him through a great vaulted vestibule toward a
staircase. At the stairs though he halted, and casting a glance at
Jurand, again inquired:
"But have you no weapon with you? I was ordered to search you."
Jurand threw up his arms, so that his guide might be able to view his
whole figure, and replied:
"Yesterday I gave up everything."
Then the guide lowered his voice and said almost in a whisper:
"Be careful then not to break out into anger, because you are under might
and superior force."
"But also under God's will," returned Jurand.
Then he looked more carefully at his guide, and observing in his face
something in the nature of mercy and sympathy, said:
"Honesty looks through your eyes, young man! Will you answer sincerely to
what I question?"
"Make haste, sir," said the guide.
"Will they return the child to me?"
And the youth raised his brows wonderingly.
"Is your child here?"
"That lady in the tower near the gate?"
"Yes. They promised to send her away if I surrendered to them."
The guide waved his hand to signify that he knew nothing, but his face
expressed trouble and doubt.
Then Jurand further asked:
"Is it true, that Shomberg and Markward are watching her?"
"Those brethren are not in the castle. Take her away though, sir, ere the
nobleman Danveld regains his health."
Hearing that, Jurand shivered, but there was no time to ask any more
questions, because they had arrived at the hall on the upper floor in
which Jurand was to face the chief Shchycienski. The youth, after having
opened the door, retreated toward the stairs.
The knight of Spychow entered and found himself in a roomy apartment,
very dark, because the lead-framed, oval-shaped panes transmitted very
little light; furthermore the day was wintry and cloudy. There was, it is
true, a fire burning in a large chimney at the other end of the
apartment, but the green logs produced little flame. Only after a time,
when Jurand's eyes became used to the darkness, he distinguished a table
behind which were knights sitting, and behind them a whole group of armed
warriors and servants also armed, among whom the castle fool held a tame
bear by a chain.
Jurand had frequently met Danveld some time before, and afterward had
seen him twice at the court of the prince of Mazowsze, as delegate, but
several years had passed since that time; yet, notwithstanding the
darkness, he recognized him instantly, because of his obesity, his face,
and finally because he sat in the centre behind the table in an armchair,
his hand being circled by wooden splints and resting upon the arm of the
chair. To his right sat the old Zygfried von Loeve of Insburk, an
inexorable foe of the Polish race in general, and particularly of Jurand
of Spychow; to his left were the younger brethren, Godfried and Rotgier.
Danveld had invited them purposely, to witness his triumph over a
threatening foe, and at the same time to enjoy the fruits of the treason
which they had plotted together, and in the accomplishment of which they
had assisted. They sat now comfortably dressed in soft dark cloth, with
light swords at their sides. They were joyous and self-confident, and
looking upon Jurand with that pride and extreme contempt which they
always bore in their hearts toward the weaker and vanquished.
The silence lasted a long while, because they wished to satiate
themselves with the sight of the man whom they had previously dreaded,
and who stood before them now with his head bowed upon his breast, and
dressed like a penitent in sackcloth, and with a rope around his neck,
upon which was suspended the scabbard of his sword.
They also apparently wanted as great a number of people as possible to
witness his humiliation, for through a side door, leading into other
rooms, whoever pleased entered, and the hall was nearly half filled with
armed men. They all looked with extreme eagerness at Jurand, conversing
loudly and making remarks about him.
But he gained confidence, at the sight of them, because he thought to
"If Danveld did not wish to keep his promise, he would not have ordered
so many witnesses."
Meanwhile Danveld raised his hand, and stopped the conversation; he then
made a sign to one of the warriors, who approached Jurand, and catching
the rope which encircled his neck, dragged him a few steps nearer the
And Danveld looked triumphantly at those present and said:
"Look, how the power of religion defeats anger and pride."
"May God always grant it so!" answered those present.
Then again followed a moment of silence, after which Danveld turned to
"You were biting the faith like a mad dog, therefore God has caused you
to stand before us, with a rope around your neck, looking for charity and
"Do not compare me with a dog, count," replied Jurand, "because you thus
lower the honor of those who met me and fell under my hand."
At these words the armed Germans commenced to murmur: it was not known
whether the daring answer aroused their anger or whether they were struck
by its justice.
But the count, dissatisfied at such a turn of the conversation, said:
"Look, even now he spits into our eyes with arrogance and pride!"
Jurand then raised his hands, like a man who calls heaven to witness, and
shaking his head, answered:
"God sees that my arrogance remained outside your gate; God sees and will
judge, whether in dishonoring my knighthood, you did not dishonor
yourself. There is the honor of a nobleman, which every one who has a
belt around him, should respect."
Danveld wrinkled his brows, but at that moment the castle fool started to
rattle the chain to which he had fastened the bear, and called out:
"Sermon! sermon! the preacher from Mazowsze has arrived! Listen! to the
Then turning to Danveld, he said:
"Sir! Duke Rosenheim ordered his sexton to eat the bell-rope from knot to
knot whenever the latter awakened him too early for the sermon. This
preacher has also a rope around his neck--make him also eat it up before
he finishes his sermon."
And, having said this, he gazed at the count in some alarm, being
uncertain whether the count would laugh or whether his inappropriate
remark would result in an order for a flogging for him. But the religious
brethren, gentle, well-behaved, and even humble, whenever they felt they
were not in power, did not know any limits before the defeated;
therefore, Danveld not only nodded his head at the bear-leader as a sign
that he permitted the mockery, but he himself burst out with such
unheard-of roughness that the faces of the younger warriors expressed
"Don't complain that you were put to shame," he said, "because even if I
had made you a dogcatcher, a religious dogcatcher is better than you,
And the encouraged fool commenced to shout: "Bring the currycomb, comb
the bear, and he in turn will comb your shags with his paws."
At that, laughter was heard here and there, and a voice exclaimed from
behind the religious brethren:
"You will cut reeds on the lake in the summer!"
"And catch crabs with your carcass!" exclaimed another.
A third added: "And now begin to drive away the crows from the hanging
thief! There will always be plenty of work for you."
Thus they made fun of the once terrible Jurand. The assembly gradually
became joyous. Some, leaving the table, began to approach the prisoner
and look at him closely, saying:
"This is the wild boar of Spychow, whose tusks our count has knocked out;
his snout is surely foaming; he would gladly tear somebody, but he
Danveld and others of the religious brethren, who at first had wished to
give the hearing the solemn appearance of a court, seeing that the affair
had turned out differently, also arose from their benches and mingled
with those who approached Jurand.
The old Zygfried of Insburk was dissatisfied at that, but the count
"Be cheerful, there will be a greater joy yet!"
And they also commenced to look at Jurand, for this was a rare
opportunity, because when any of the knights or servants had seen him
before from so near, they had usually closed their eyes forever. Some of
them also remarked:
"He is broad shouldered, although he has a fur beneath his sack; he could
be wrapped up with pease straw, and exhibited in country fairs."
Others again commenced to ask for beer in order to make the day a still
And so in a few moments flowing pitchers began to clink and the dark hall
became covered with the foam escaping from under the covers. The
good-humored count said:
"That is just right, let him not think that his disgrace is of great
So they again approached him, and touching his chin with their pewters,
"You would like to drink, Mazovian snout!" and others, pouring the beer
into their palms, cast it into his eyes, while he stood among them
stunned and abused, until at last he moved toward the old Zygfried, and
apparently feeling that he could not stand it any longer, he began to cry
so loudly as to deafen the noise in the hall:
"By the torture of the Saviour and the salvation of the soul, restore to
me my child, as you promised!"
And he attempted to seize the right hand of the old count who quickly
withdrew and said:
"Avaunt, prisoner! what dost thou want?"
"I released Bergow from prison, and came myself, because in return you
promised to restore my child who is here."
"Who promised you that?" inquired Danveld.
"By the soul and faith, you, count!"
"You will not find any witnesses, but they amount to nothing, if honor
and word are in question."
"Upon your honor, upon that of the Order," exclaimed Jurand.
"Then your daughter will be returned to you!" replied Danveld, and,
turning to the others, remarked: "All that has happened to him here is an
innocent trifle in comparison with his violence and crimes. But since we
promised to return his daughter if he should appear and submit himself to
us, then know, that the word of a Knight of the Cross is, like God's
word, irreproachable, and that that girl, whom we saved from the hands of
robbers, shall now be given her liberty, and after an exemplary penance
for his sins against the Order, he also shall be allowed to go back to
Such a speech astounded some, because, knowing Danveld and his old hatred
for Jurand, they did not expect such honesty from him. Therefore old
Zygfried, together with Rotgier and Brother Godfried, looked at him,
raising and wrinkling their brows with astonishment, but he pretended not
to observe their inquiring looks and said:
"I'll send your daughter back under guard, but you must remain here until
our guard returns safely and until you have paid your ransom."
Jurand himself was somewhat astonished, because he had ceased to hope
that his sacrifice would be of any use to Danusia; he therefore looked at
Danveld, almost with thankfulness and replied:
"May God reward you, count!"
"Recognize the Knights of the Cross," said Danveld.
"All mercy from Him!" replied Jurand; "but, since it is long since I saw
my child, permit me to see and bless my girl."
"Bah, and not otherwise than before all of us, so that there may be
witnesses of our good faith and mercy."
Then he ordered the warriors standing near to bring Danusia, while he
himself approached von Loeve, Rotgier and Godfried, who surrounded him and
commenced a quick and animated conversation.
"I do not oppose you, although this was not your object," said old
And the hot Rotgier, famous for his courage and cruelties, said: "How is
this? not only the girl but also that devilish dog is going to be
liberated, that he may bite again?"
"He will bite not that way only!" exclaimed Godfried.
"Bah! he will pay ransom!" lazily replied Danveld.
"Even if he should return everything, in a year he will have robbed twice
"I shall not object as to the girl," repeated Zygfried; "but this wolf
will yet make the sheep of the Order weep more than once."
"And our word?" queried Danveld, laughingly.
"You spoke differently...."
Danveld shrugged his shoulders. "Did you not have enough pleasure?" he
inquired. "Do you wish more?"
Others surrounded Jurand again and commenced to brag before him, praising
the upright conduct of Danveld, and the impression it made upon the
members of the Order.
"And what bone breaker!" said the captain of the castle-archers. "Your
heathen brethren would not have treated our Christian knights so!"
"You drank our blood?"
"And we give you bread for stones."
But Jurand paid no attention either to the pride or to the contempt which
their words contained: his heart swelled and his eyelashes were moist. He
thought that he would see Danusia in a moment, and that he would see her
actually by their favor; he therefore gazed at the speakers almost with
humility, and finally said:
"True! true! I used to be hard on you but ... not treacherous."
That instant a voice at the other end of the hall suddenly cried: "They
are bringing the girl;" and immediately silence reigned throughout the
hall. The soldiers scattered to both sides, because none of them had ever
seen Jurand's daughter, and the majority of them did not even know of her
presence in the castle on account of the secrecy with which Danveld
surrounded his actions; but those who knew, whispered to one another
about her admirable grace. All eyes turned with extreme curiosity toward
the door through which she was to appear.
Meanwhile a warrior appeared in front followed by the well-known servant
of the Order, the same woman that rode to the court in the forest. After
her entered a girl dressed in white, with loose hair tied with a ribbon
on the forehead.
And suddenly one great outburst of laughter, like the roaring of thunder,
rang through the entire hall. Jurand, who at the first moment had sprung
toward his daughter, suddenly recoiled and stood as pale as linen,
looking with surprise at the ill-shaped head, the bluish lips, and the
expressionless eyes of the wench who was restored to him as Danusia.
"This is not my daughter!" he said, in a terrifying voice.
"Not your daughter?" exclaimed Danveld. "By the holy Liboryusz of
Paderborn! Then either we did not rescue your daughter from the murderers
or some wizard has changed her, because there is no other in Szczytno."
Old Zygfried, Rotgier and Godfried exchanged quick glances with each
other, full of admiration at the shrewdness of Danveld, but none of them
had time enough to speak, because Jurand began to shout with a terrible
"She is, she is in Szczytno! I heard her sing, I heard the voice of dear
Upon that Danveld turned to those assembled and said quietly but
"I take you all present as witnesses and especially you, Zygfried of
Insburk, and you pious brothers, Rotgier and Godfried, that, according to
my word and given promise, I restore that girl, who was said by the
robbers whom we defeated, to be the daughter of Jurand of Spychow. If she
is not--it is not our fault, but rather the will of our Lord, who in that
manner wished to deliver Jurand into our hands."
Zygfried and the two younger brethren bowed to signify that they heard
and would testify in case of necessity. Then again they glanced quickly
at each other, because it was more than they ever could have expected to
capture Jurand, not to restore his daughter, and still ostensibly to keep
a promise; who else could do that?
But Jurand threw himself upon his knees and commenced to conjure Danveld
by all the relics in Malborg, then by the ashes and heads of his parents,
to restore to him his true child and not proceed like a swindler and
traitor, breaking oaths and promises. His voice contained so much despair
and truth, that some began to suspect treason; others again thought that
some wizard had actually changed the appearance of the girl.
"God looks upon your treason!" exclaimed Jurand. "By the Saviour's
wounds, by the hour of your death, return my child!"
And arising, he went bent double toward Danveld, as if he wished to
embrace his knees; and his eyes glittered with madness, and his voice
broke alternately with pain, fear, and dread. Danveld, hearing the
accusations of treason and deceit in presence of all, commenced to snort,
and at length his features worked with rage; so that like a flame in his
desire utterly to crush the unfortunate, he advanced and bending down to
his ear, whispered through his set teeth: "If I ever give her up, it will
be with my bastard...."
But at that very moment Jurand roared like a bull, and with both hands he
caught Danveld and raised him high in the air.
The hall still resounded with the terrible cry: "Save me!" when the body
of the count struck the stone floor with such terrible force that the
brains from the shattered skull bespattered Zygfried and Rotgier who
stood by. Jurand sprang to the wall, near which stood the arms, and
snatching a large two-handed weapon, ran like a storm at the Germans, who
were petrified with terror. The people were used to battles, butchery and
blood, and yet their hearts sank to such an extent that even after the
panic had passed, they commenced to retreat and escape like a flock of
sheep before a wolf who kills with one stroke of his claws. The hall
resounded with the cry of terror, with the sound of human footsteps, the
clang of the overturned vessels, the howling of the servants, the
growling of the bear, who, tearing himself out of the hands of the
trainer, started to climb on a high window, and a terror-stricken cry for
arms and targets, weapons and crossbows. Finally weapons gleamed, and a
number of sharp points were directed toward Jurand, but he, not caring
for anything, half crazed, sprang toward them, and there commenced an
unheard-of wild fight, resembling a butchery more than a contest of arms.
The young and fiery Brother Godfried was the first to intercept Jurand's
way, but he severed his head, hand and shoulder-blade with a lightning
swing of his weapon; after him fell by Jurand's hand the captain of the
archers, and the castle administrator, von Bracht and the Englishman
Hugues, who, although he did not very well understand the cause, pitied
Jurand and his sufferings, and only drew his weapon when Danveld was
killed. Others, seeing the terrible force and the fury of the man,
gathered closely together, so as to offer combined resistance, but this
plan brought about a still greater defeat, because he, with his hair
standing upright on his head, with maddened eyes, covered all over with
blood, panting, raging and furious, broke, tore and cut with terrible
strokes of his sword that battered group, casting men to the floor,
splashed all over with clotted blood, as a storm overturns bushes and
trees. Then followed a moment of terrific fright, in which it seemed that
this terrible Mazovian, all by himself, would hew and slay all these
people. Like a pack of barking hounds that cannot overpower a fierce boar
without the assistance of the hunters, so were those armed Germans; they
could not match his might and fierceness in that fight which resulted
only in their death and discomfiture.
"Scatter! surround him! strike from behind!" shrieked old Zygfried von
They consequently dispersed through the hall like a flock of starlings in
the field upon which a hawk with crooked beak swoops from a height, but
they could not surround him, because, in the heat of the fight, instead
of looking for a place of defence, he commenced to chase them around the
walls and whoever was overtaken died as if thunderstruck. Humiliation,
despair, disappointed hope, changed into one thirst for blood, seemed to
multiply tenfold his terrific natural strength. A weapon, for which the
most powerful of the Knights of the Cross needed both hands, he managed
to wield with one as if it were a feather. He did not care for his life,
nor look for escape; he did not even crave for victory; he sought
revenge, and like a fire, or like a river, which breaking a dam, blindly
destroys everything obstructing its flow, so he, a terrible, blindfolded
destroyer, tore, broke, trampled, killed and extinguished human beings.
They could not hurt him in his back, because, in the beginning they were
unable to overtake him; moreover the common soldiers feared to come near
him even from behind; they knew that if he happened to turn no human
power could save them from death. Others were simply terror-stricken at
the thought, that an ordinary man could cause so much havoc, and that
they were dealing with a man who was aided by some superhuman power.
But old Zygfried, and with him Brother Rotgier, rushed to the gallery
which extended above the large windows of the hall, and commenced to call
others to take shelter after them; these did so in haste, so that, on the
narrow stairs, they pushed each other in their desire to get up as
quickly as possible and thence to strike the strong knight, with whom any
hand to hand struggle appeared to them impossible.
Finally, the last one banged the door leading to the gallery and Jurand
remained alone below. From the gallery the sounds of joy and triumph
reached him, and soon heavy oak benches and iron collars of torches began
to fall upon the nobleman. One of the missiles struck him on the forehead
and bathed his face with blood. At the same time the large entrance door
opened, and through the upper windows the summoned servants rushed into
the hall in a body, armed with pikes, halberds, axes, crossbows,
palisades, poles, ropes and all varieties of weapons, which they could
hurriedly get hold of. And with his left hand the mad Jurand wiped the
blood from his face, so as not to obstruct his sight, gathered himself
together, and threw himself at the entire throng. In the hall again
resounded groans, the clash of iron, the gnashing of teeth and the
piercing voices of the slain men.
In the same hall, behind the table that evening, sat old Zygfried von
Loeve, who, after the bailiff Danveld, temporarily took command of
Szczytno, and near him were Brother Rotgier, and the knight von Bergow, a
former prisoner of Jurand's and two noble youths, novices, who were soon
to put on white mantles. The wintry storm was howling outside the
windows, shaking the leaden window-frames; the torchlights, which were
burning in iron frames, wavered, and now and then the wind drove clouds
of smoke from the chimney into the hall. Silence reigned among the
brethren, although they were assembled for a consultation, because they
were waiting for the word from Zygfried, who, again resting his elbows on
the table and running his hands over his grey and bowed head, sat gloomy
with his face in the shadow and with sullen thoughts in his soul.
"About what are we to deliberate?" finally asked Brother Rotgier.
Zygfried raised his head, looked at the speaker, and, awakening from
"About the defeat, about what the master and the assembly will say, and
about this, that our actions may not cause any loss to the Order." He was
silent again, but after a while he looked around and moved his nostrils:
"There is still a smell of blood here."
"No, count," replied Rotgier; "I ordered the floor to be scrubbed and the
place to be fumigated with sulphur. It is the odor of sulphur."
And Zygfried looked at those present with a strange glance, and said:
"God have mercy upon the soul of our brothers Danveld and Godfried!"
They again understood that he implored God's mercy upon their souls,
because, at the mention of sulphur, he thought of hell; therefore a chill
ran through their bones and all at once replied: "Amen! amen! amen!"
After a moment the howling of the wind and the rattling of the
window-frames were heard again.
"Where are the bodies of the count and Brother Godfried?" inquired the
"In the chapel: the priests are chanting the litany over them."
"Are they already in coffins?"
"In coffins, only the count's head is covered, because his skull and face
"Where are the other corpses, and where are the wounded?"
"The corpses are in the snow so as to stiffen whilst the coffins are
being made, and the wounded are being attended to in the hospital."
Zygfried again ran his hands over his head.
"And one man did that!... God, have the Order under Thy care, when it
comes to a great war with this wolfish race!"
Upon that Rotgier turned up his eyes, as if recollecting something, and
said: "I heard in Wilno, how the bailiff of Samboz spoke to his brother
the master: 'If you do not make a great war and get rid of them, so that
even their name shall not remain, then woe to us and our nation.'"
"May God give such a war and a meeting with them!" said one of the noble
Zygfried looked at him for some time, as if he wanted to say: "You could
have met one of them to-day," but seeing the small and youthful figure of
the novice, and perhaps remembering that he himself, although famous for
his courage, did not care to expose himself to a sure destruction,
refrained and inquired:
"Who saw Jurand?"
"I," replied von Bergow.
"Is he alive?"
"Yes, he lies in the same net in which we entrapped him. When he awoke
the servants wanted to kill him, but the chaplain would not allow it."
"He cannot be executed. He is too great a man among his people, and there
would be a terrible clamor," replied Zygfried. "It will be also
impossible to hide what has happened, because there were too many
"What then are we to say and do?" inquired Rotgier.
Zygfried meditated, and finally said:
"You, noble Count von Bergow go to Malborg to the master. You were
groaning in Jurand's slavery, and are now a guest of the Order; therefore
as such, and because you need not necessarily speak in favor of the
monks, they will rather believe you. Tell, then, what you saw, that
Danveld, having recovered from a band of rogues a certain girl and
thinking her to be Jurand's daughter, informed the latter, who also came
to Szczytno, and what happened further you know yourself."
"Pardon me, pious count," said von Bergow. "I suffered great hardships as
a slave in Spychow, and as your guest, I would gladly testify for you;
but tell me, for the sake of quieting my soul, whether there was not a
real daughter of Jurand's in Szczytno, and whether it was not Danveld's
treason that drove her father to madness?"
Zygfried von Loeve hesitated for a moment with his answer; in his nature
lay deep hatred toward the Polish nation, and barbarity in which he
exceeded even Danveld, and rapacity, and, when the Order was in question,
pride and avarice, but there was no falsehood. It was the greatest
bitterness and grief of his life, that lately, through insubordination
and riot, the affairs of the Order had turned in such a manner that
falsehood had become one of the most general and unavoidable factors of
the life of the Order. Therefore von Bergow's inquiry touched the most
painful string of his soul, and, after a long silence, he said:
"Danveld stands before God, and God will judge him, while you, duke,
should they ask you for conjectures, answer what you please; should they
again ask you about what you saw, then say that before we coiled a wild
man in a net you saw nine corpses, besides the wounded, on this floor,
and among them the bodies of Danveld, Brother Godfried, von Bracht and
Hugues, and two noble youths.... God, give them eternal peace. Amen!"
"Amen! Amen!" again repeated the novices.
"And say also," added Zygfried, "that although Danveld wished to subdue
the foe of the Order, yet nobody here raised the first weapon against
"I shall say only what my eyes saw," replied von Bergow.
"Be in the chapel before midnight; we shall also go there to pray for the
souls of the dead," answered Zygfried.
He then extended his hand to him as a sign of gratitude and farewell; he
wished to remain for a further consultation alone with Brother Rotgier,
whom he loved and had great confidence in. After the withdrawal of von
Bergow, he also dismissed the two novices, under the pretence that they
might watch the work of the coffins for the common servants killed by
Jurand, and after the doors had closed behind them he turned with
animation to Rotgier, and said:
"Listen to what I am going to say: there is only one remedy: that no
living soul should ever find out that the real daughter of Jurand was
"It will not be difficult," replied Rotgier, "because nobody knew that
she was here except Danveld, Godfried, we two, and those servants of the
Order who watched her. Danveld ordered the people who brought her here to
be made intoxicated and hanged. There were some among the garrison who
suspected something, but that affair confused them, and they do not know
now themselves whether an error happened on our part, or whether some
wizard really exchanged Jurand's daughter."
"This is good," said Zygfried.
"I have been thinking again, noble count, whether, since Danveld lives no
longer, we should not cast all the guilt upon him...."
"And so admit before the whole world that we, in a time of peace and
concord with the prince of Mazowsze, ravished from his court the pupil of
the princess and her beloved courtlady? No, for God's sake! this cannot
be!... We were seen at the court together with Danveld; and the grand
master, his relative, knows that we always undertook everything
together.... If we accuse Danveld, he may desire to avenge his
"Let us consult on that," said Rotgier. "Let us consult and find good
advice, because otherwise woe to us! If we return Jurand's daughter, then
she will say herself that we did not capture her from robbers, but that
the people who caught her carried her directly to Szczytno."