Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Knights of the Cross by Henryk Sienkiewicz

Part 10 out of 14

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

The count got up with difficulty and went out. The guards were calling to
one another from the bastions upon the palisades. The light emanating
from the windows of the chapel illuminated the snow in front with a
yellow gleam. In the middle of the court near the stone wall were two
black dogs playing and tugging at a black rag. Beyond this the courtyard
was empty and silent.

"It is yet necessary this night!" said Zygfried. "I am exceedingly tired,
but I must go.... All are asleep. Jurand, overcome by torture, might also
be asleep. I only am unable to sleep. I will go. I will go, for there is
death within, and I have promised you.... Let death come afterward; sleep
will not come. You are smiling there, but my strength is failing me. You
are smiling, you are apparently glad. But you see that my fingers are
benumbed, my hands have lost their strength, and I cannot accomplish it
by myself ... the servant with whom she sleeps will accomplish it...."

Then he moved on with heavy steps toward the tower situated near the
gate. Meanwhile the dogs which were playing near the stone wall came
running up and began to fawn upon him. In one of them Zygfried recognized
the bulldog which was so much attached to Diedrich that it was said in
the castle that it served him as a pillow at night.

The dog greeted the count, it barked low once or twice; and then returned
toward the gate acting as though it had divined his thoughts.

After a while Zygfried found himself in front of the narrow little doors
of the tower, which at night were barred on the outside. Removing the
bars, he felt for the balustrade of the stairs which commenced quite near
the doors and began to ascend. In his absentmindedness he forgot the
lantern; he therefore went up gropingly, stepping carefully and feeling
with his feet for the steps.

Having advanced a few steps, he suddenly halted, when below quite near
him he heard something like the breathing of a man, or beast.

"Who is there?"

But there was no answer, only the breathing grew quicker.

Zygfried was not a timid man; he was not afraid of death. But the
preceding terrible night had quite exhausted his courage and
self-control. It crossed his mind that Rotgier or the evil spirit was
barring his way, and his hair stood up on his head and his brow was
covered with cold sweat.

He retreated to the very entrance.

"Who is there?" he asked, with a choked voice.

But at that moment something struck him a powerful blow on his chest, so
terrible that the old man fell through the door upon his back and
swooned. He did not even groan.

Silence followed, after which there could be seen a dark form, stealthily
issuing from the tower and making off toward the stable which was
situated on the left side of the courtyard near the arsenal. Diedrich's
big bulldog followed that figure silently. The other dog also ran after
him and disappeared in the shadow of the wall, but shortly appeared again
with its head to the ground, scenting as it were the trail of the other
dog. In this manner the dog approached the prostrate and lifeless body of
Zygfried, which it smelled carefully, then crouched near the head of the
prostrate man and began to howl.

The howling continued for a long while, filling the air of that sombre
night with a new kind of dolefulness and horror. Finally the small door
concealed in the middle of the gate creaked and a guard armed with a
halberd appeared in the courtyard.

"Death upon that dog," he said, "I'll teach you to howl during the

And he aimed the sharp end of the halberd so as to hit the animal with
it, but at that moment he observed something lying near the little open
door of the bastion.

"Lord Jesus! what is that?..."

He bent his head so as to look in the face of the prostrate man, and
began to shout:

"Help! Help! Help!"

Then he rushed to the gate and pulled with all his strength at the




Although Glowacz was somewhat anxious to hasten to Zgorzelice, he could
not make the progress he wished, because the road was exceedingly bad. A
general thaw had followed the severe winter, keen frost, and immense
snowdrifts which covered whole villages.

Luty (February), in spite of its name,[110] by no means showed itself
formidable. First there were thick, continuous fogs, succeeded by
torrential rains, which melted the white snowdrifts before one's eyes;
and in the intervals there were very high winds as is usual in the month
of March; then the tempestuous clouds were suddenly torn asunder by the
wind which now drove them together, and now scattered them, whilst on the
earth the wind howled in the thickets, whistled in the forests and
dispersed the snow beneath which only a short time before the boughs and
trunks had slept their silent, wintry sleep.

The woods assumed a dark color. The meadows were inundated with broad
sheets of water. The rivers and streams overflowed. Only the fishermen
were glad at the abundance of the watery element, but the rest of
humanity were confined as within a prison, sheltering themselves within
their houses and huts. In many places communication between village and
village could only be effected by means of boats. There was no lack of
dams, dykes and roads through the forests and swamps, constructed of
trunks, of trees and logs, but now the dykes became soft and the stumps
in the low, wet places endangered travel, or the roads were rendered
altogether impracticable. The most difficult part for the Bohemian to
traverse was the lake-land region of Wielkopolska, where every spring the
thaw was greater than in any other part of Poland. Consequently the road
was specially difficult for horses.

He was therefore obliged to wait whole weeks, sometimes in small towns,
sometimes in villages and farms, where he and his men were hospitably
received, according to custom, by the people, who were willing listeners
to the tale of the "Knights of the Cross," and paid for it with bread and
salt. For this reason spring was already far advanced, and the greater
part of March had already passed before he found himself in the
neighborhood of Zgorzelice and Bogdaniec.

He longed to see his mistress as soon as possible, although he knew that
he could never gain her, even as he could not gain the stars of heaven;
nevertheless he adored and loved her with his whole soul. Yet he resolved
first to go and see Macko; first, because he was sent to him; secondly,
because he was bringing men with him who were to be left at Bogdanice.
Zbyszko, having killed Rotgier, according to established rules, became
the owner of his following, which consisted of ten men and as many
horses. Two of them had been sent back with the body of Rotgier to
Szczytno. Knowing how anxious his uncle was to obtain colonists, he sent
the remaining eight men by Glowacz as a present to old Macko.

The Bohemian, on his arrival at Bogdaniec, did not find Macko at home; he
was informed that Macko had gone with his dogs and crossbow to the
forest; but he returned the same day, and having heard that an important
retinue was waiting for him, he hastened to salute the guests and offer
them hospitality. He did not recognize Glowacz at first, but when he gave
his name, Macko was greatly agitated, and throwing down his hat and
crossbow he cried:

"For God's sake! tell me, have they killed him? Tell what you know."

"They have not killed him," replied the Bohemian. "He is enjoying good

On hearing this, Macko was somewhat ashamed of himself, and began to
puff; at last he drew a deep breath.

"Praised be the Lord Christ," he said. "Where is he now?"

"He left for Malborg and sent me here with news."

"And why did he go to Malborg?"

"To fetch his wife."

"Be careful, boy, in the name of God what wife did he go for?"

"For Jurand's daughter. There is much to be told about it, enough for a
whole night, but, honored sir, allow me to rest a little, for I have been
constantly traveling since midnight."

Macko ceased questioning for a little while, for his great surprise
deprived him of speech. When he had somewhat recovered, he shouted to the
servant to throw some wood on the fire and bring food for the Bohemian;
then he began to pace up and down, gesticulating and talking to himself:

"I cannot believe mine own ears.... Jurand's daughter.... Zbyszko

"He is married and not married," said the Bohemian.

Then he began slowly to relate what had happened, while Macko listened
eagerly, only interrupting with questions when what the Bohemian related
was not quite clear to him. For instance, Glowacz could not give the
exact time when Zbyszko had got married, as there had been no public
marriage. Nevertheless he affirmed that that marriage had surely taken
place, and that it had come to pass owing to the instigation of Princess
Anna Danuta, and had been made public only after the arrival of the
Knight of the Cross, Rotgier, when Zbyszko had challenged him to the
judgment of God, in the presence of the entire Mazovian court.

"Ah! He fought?" Macko exclaimed, his eyes sparkling with intense
curiosity. "What followed?"

"He cut the German in two, and God also made me happy by delivering the
armor-bearer into my hands."

Macko again began to puff, but this time with an air of satisfaction.

"Well!" he said. "He is a fellow not to be trifled with. He is the last
of the Gradys, but so help me God, not the least. He was that already in
the fight with the Fryzjans ... when he was a mere stripling...."

Here he glanced sharply once and again at the Bohemian, then he

"And so you tried to imitate him, and it seems you tell the truth. I
doubted your words, but, as you yourself say, you had little work with
the armor-bearer. But if he chopped off the arm of that dog-brother after
killing the Aurochs, those are valiant deeds."

Then he suddenly asked:

"Is there rich spoil?"

"We have taken the arms, horses and ten men, eight of whom, the young
lord sends you."

"What has he done with the other two?"

"He sent them back with the corpse."

"Why did not the prince send two of his own servants? Those two will not

The Bohemian smiled at Macko's greed which often betrayed him.

"The young lord need not consider such trifles now," he said, "Spychow is
a large estate."

"It is a large estate; what of it, it is not yet his."

"Then whose is it?"

Macko rose from his seat.

"Speak! and Jurand?"

"Jurand is a prisoner, and dying, in the hands of the Knights of the
Cross. God knows whether he will survive, and even if he survives and
returns, what of it? Did not Father Caleb read Jurand's testament,
announcing to all that the young lord is to be their master?"

The last words obviously made a great impression upon Macko; because he
was too much amazed to thoroughly grasp the news. That Zbyszko had got
married was painful to him at the first moment, for he loved Jagienka
with a fatherly love, and heartily wished to see Zbyszko united to her.
But, on the other hand, he had already grown accustomed to regard the
affair as lost; moreover Jurandowna brought with her so much that
Jagienka could never bring; the prince's favor, and being an only
daughter her dower was many times greater. Macko already saw Zbyszko, as
the prince's friend, the master of Bogdaniec and of Spychow; nay, in the
near future, a castellan. That was not at all unlikely. For it was told
in those days of a certain poor nobleman who had twelve sons, six fell in
battle and the other six became castellans and were advancing toward
greatness; only a reputation could assist Zbyszko in this career, so that
Macko's ambition and greed for a pedigree might be realized according to
his wishes. The old man, however, had much cause for alarm. He, himself,
had once gone to the Knights of the Cross, to save Zbyszko and brought
back with him an iron splinter between the ribs; now Zbyszko had gone to
Malborg, into the very throat of the wolf. Was it to get his wife there
or death? They would not look upon him there with a favorable eye,
thought Macko. He had just destroyed one of their famous knights and
before that he had killed Lichtenstein. Those dog-blooded men loved
vengeance. That thought made the old knight very uneasy. It also occurred
to him that Zbyszko, being quick tempered, would engage in a fight with
some German; or what he most feared was that they would kidnap him as
they had old Jurand and his daughter. At Zlotorja they did not scruple to
kidnap even the prince himself. Why then should they be scrupulous with

Then he asked himself what would happen if the youngster should escape
the knights, but not find his wife? This thought pleased him, because
even if Zbyszko should not recover her, he would still be the owner of
Spychow, but that pleasure only lasted for a moment. For while the old
man was much concerned about the property, yet Zbyszko's offspring
interested him quite as much. If Danusia were to be lost, like a stone in
the water and nobody knew whether she were alive or dead, Zbyszko could
not marry another, and then there would be no heir to the Gradys of
Bogdaniec. Ah! It would be quite another thing if he were married to
Jagienka!... Moczydoly was not to be scorned; it was spacious and well
stocked. Such a girl, like an apple-tree in the orchard, would bring
forth every year without fail. Thus Macko's regret was greater than his
joy at the prospect of the possession of the new estate. His regret and
agitation caused him to renew his questions, and he again inquired of the
Bohemian how and when the marriage had taken place.

But the Bohemian replied:

"I have told you already, honored sir, that I do not know when it
happened, and what I conjecture I cannot confirm with an oath."

"What do you conjecture?"

"I have never left my young master and we slept together. On one evening
only, he ordered me to leave him when I saw them all visit him: the
princess accompanied by the lady Jurandowna, (Danusia,) Lord de Lorche
and Father Wyszoniek. I was even surprised to see the young lady with a
wreath on her head; but I thought they had come to administer the
sacrament to my master.... It may be that the marriage took place
then.... I recollect that the master commanded me to attire myself as for
a wedding ceremony, but then I also thought that that was to receive the

"And after that, did they remain by themselves?"

"They did not remain alone; and even if they had remained by themselves
the master was then so feeble that he could not even eat without
assistance. And there were already people sent by Jurand waiting for the
young lady, and she left the following morning...."

"Then Zbyszko has not seen her since?"

"No human eye has seen her."

Then silence reigned for a while.

"What do you think?" asked Macko, presently. "Will the Knights of the
Cross give her up, or not?"

The Bohemian shook his head, then he waved his hand discouragingly.

"I think," he said, slowly, "she is lost forever."

"Why?" asked Macko in terror.

"Because, when they said they had her there was yet hope, one could yet
contend with them, either to ransom her, or take her from them by force.
'But,' they said, 'we had a girl retaken from robbers and we notified
Jurand; he did not recognize her, and he killed of our people, in our
very presence, more than fall in one good fight in war.'"

"Then they showed Jurand some other girl."

"So it is said. God knows the truth. It may not be true, and it may be
that they showed him some other girl. But it is a fact that he killed
people, and the Knights of the Cross are ready to swear that they never
abducted Panna Jurandowna, and that is an exceedingly difficult affair.
Even should the grand master order an investigation, they would reply
that she was not in their hands; especially since the courtiers of
Ciechanow spoke of Jurand's letter in which he said that she was not with
the Knights of the Cross."

"It may be she is not with them."

"I beg your pardon, sir!... If they had recaptured her from the robbers,
it would have been for no other motive than for ransom. The robbers,
before that happened could neither write a letter nor imitate the
signature of the lord of Spychow, nor send an honorable messenger."

"That is true; but what do the Knights of the Cross want her for?"

"Revenge on Jurand's race. They prefer vengeance to mead and wine; and if
they want a pretext, they have one. The lord of Spychow was terrible to
them, and his last deed completely finished them.... My master, I also
heard, had lifted up his hand against Lichtenstein; he killed Rotgier....
God helped me, too, to shatter that dog-brother's arm. Wait, I pray, let
us consider. There were four of them to be exterminated; now hardly one
is alive, and that one is an old man, and your grace must bear in mind
that we yet have our teeth."

There was again silence for a moment.

"You are a discreet armor-bearer," said Macko, at last; "but what do you
think they are going to do with her?"

"Prince Witold, they say, is a powerful prince, even the German emperor
bows to him; and what did they do to his children? Have they but few
castles? Few underground prisons? Few wells? Few ropes and halters for
the neck?"

"For the living God's sake!" exclaimed Macko.

"God grant that they may not also detain the young lord, although he went
there with a letter from the prince, and accompanied by de Lorche who is
a powerful lord and related to the prince. Ah, I did not want to set out
for this place. But he commanded me to go. I heard him once say to the
old lord of Spychow: 'It is to be regretted that you are not cunning, for
I shall get nothing by craft, and with them that is a necessary thing. O
Uncle Macko! he would be useful here;' and for that reason he dispatched
me. But as for Jurandowna, even you, sir, will not find her, for probably
she is already in the other world, and where death is concerned, even the
greatest cunning cannot prevail."

Macko was absorbed in thought for a long while, after which he said:

"Ha! Then there is no counsel. Cunning cannot prevail against death. But
if I were to go there and only get assurance that she has been removed,
then in that case Spychow as well as Zbyszko remain. He will be able to
return here and marry another maiden."

Here Macko breathed freely, as though a burden were removed from his
heart, and Glowacz asked in a bashful, subdued voice:

"Do you mean the young lady of Zgorzelice?"

"Well!" replied Macko, "especially as she is an orphan, and Cztan of
Rogow and Wilk of Brzozowa continually press their court to her."

At that the Bohemian straightened himself up.

"Is the young lady an orphan?... The knight Zych?..."

"Then you do not know."

"For the love of God! What has happened?"

"Well you are right. How could you know, since you have just arrived; and
our only conversation has been about Zbyszko. She is an orphan. Unless he
had guests, Zych of Zgorzelice never remained at home; otherwise he
avoided Zgorzelice. He wrote about you to his abbot that he was going to
visit Prince Przemka of Oswiecemia and ask him to give you to him. Zych
did it because he was well acquainted with the prince and they have often
frolicked together. Consequently Zych called upon me and said as follows:
'I am going to Oswiecemia, then to Glewic; keep your eye on Zgorzelice.'
I at once suspected something wrong and said: 'Don't go! I will keep good
watch over Jagienka and the estate,' for I know that Cztan and Wilk
intend to do you some wrong, and you ought to know that the abbot out of
spite against Zbyszko, preferred Cztan or Wilk for the girl. But he
subsequently learned to know them better and rejected both of them, and
turned them out of Zgorzelice; but not effectually, for they obstinately
persisted. Now they have quieted down for a while, for they have wounded
each other and are laid up, but before that occurred there was not a
moment of security. Everything is upon my head, protection and
guardianship. Now Zbyszko wishes me to come.... What will happen here to
Jagienka--I don't know, but now I will tell you about Zych; he did not
follow my advice--he went. Well, they feasted and frolicked together.
From Glewic they went to see old Nosak, Prince Przemka's father, who
rules in Cieszyn; till Jasko, the prince of Racibor, out of hatred for
Prince Przemka, set upon them the robber band under the leadership of the
Bohemian Chrzan; Prince Przemka and Zych of Zgorzelice perished in the
affray. The robbers stunned the abbot with an iron flail, so that even
now his head shakes and he knows nothing of what is going on in the world
and has lost his speech, God help him, forever! Now old Prince Nosak
bought Chrzan from the owner of Zampach, and tortured him so much that
even the oldest inhabitants never heard of such cruelty,--but the cruelty
did not lessen the sorrow of the old man for his son; neither did it
resuscitate Zych, nor wipe away the tears of Jagienka. This is the result
of the frolic.... Six weeks ago they brought Zych here and buried him."

"Such a hard master!..." sorrowfully said the Bohemian. "Under Boleslaw I
was comfortably situated when he took me into captivity. But such was the
captivity that I would not have exchanged it for freedom.... He was a
good and worthy master! May God grant him eternal glory. Ah, I am very
sorry! But I must grieve for the helpless young lady."

"Because the poor thing is a good girl, she loved her father more than a
man loves his mother. Then too she is not safe in Zgorzelice. After the
funeral, scarcely had the snow covered Zych's grave, when Cztan and Wilk
stepped into the mansion of Zgorzelice. My people were informed of it
beforehand. Then I, with the farm hands went to the rescue; we arrived in
good time and with God's help we gave them a good thrashing. Immediately
after the fight, the girl fell on her knees and begged me to save her.
'If I cannot belong to Zbyszko,' she said, 'I will belong to nobody else;
only save me from those torturers, I prefer death to them....' I tell you
that I made a real castle out of Zgorzelice. After that, they appeared
twice on the premises, but believe me, they could not succeed. Now there
will be peace for some time, for as I told you: they hurt each other
badly, so much so, that neither is able to move head or foot."

Glowacz made no observation upon this, but when he heard of the conduct
of Cztan and Wilk, he began to gnash his teeth so loudly, that it sounded
like the creaking caused by the opening and closing of a door, then he
began to rub his strong hands upon his thighs as though they were
itching. Finally, he uttered with difficulty only one word:


But at that moment, a voice was heard in the entrance-hall, the door
suddenly opened and Jagienka rushed into the house, and with her was
Jasko, her oldest brother, who was fourteen years old and looked as like
her, as though they were twins.

She had heard from some peasants at Zgorzelice, that they had seen the
Bohemian Hlawa, at the head of some people, journeying to Bogdaniec, and
like Macko, she also was terrified, and when they informed her that
Zbyszko was not among them she was almost sure that some misfortune had
happened. She therefore lost no time and hastened to Bogdaniec to
ascertain the truth.

"What has happened?... For God's sake tell me," she shouted, when yet
upon the threshold.

"What should happen?" replied Macko. "Zbyszko is alive and well."

The Bohemian hastened toward the young lady, knelt upon one knee and
kissed the hem of her dress, but she paid no attention to it; only when
she heard the reply of the old knight she turned her head from the
fireplace to the darker side of the room, and only after a while, as if
having forgotten that it was necessary to salute the Bohemian, she said:

"The name of Jesus Christ be praised!"

"Forever and ever," replied Macko.

Then she observed the kneeling Bohemian at her feet and bent toward him.

"From my soul I am glad to see you, Hlawa, but why did you leave your
master behind?"

"He sent me away, most gracious lady."

"What were his orders?"

"He ordered me to go to Bogdaniec."

"To Bogdaniec?... What else?"

"He sent me to get counsel.... He also sends his compliments and good

"To Bogdaniec? Very well, then. But where is he himself?"

"He left for Malborg, and is now among the Knights of the Cross."

Jagienka's face again assumed an expression of alarm.

"Why, is he tired of life?"

"He is in quest, gracious lady, of that which he will not be able to

"I believe he will not find it," interrupted Macko. "Just as one cannot
drive a nail without a hammer, so are man's wishes without the will of

"What are you talking about?" cried Jagienka. But Macko replied with
another query.

"Did he say to you that Zbyszko went for Jurandowna? It seems to me that
he did."

Jagienka at first did not reply, and only after awhile, catching her
breath, she replied:

"Ay! He said! But what hindered him telling?"

"Well, then, now I can talk freely."

And he began to tell to her all that he had heard from the Bohemian. He
wondered at himself why his words came haltingly and with difficulty, but
being a clever man, he tried to avoid any expression that might irritate
Jagienka, and he dwelt strongly upon what he himself believed, that
Zbyszko was never the husband of Danusia in reality and that she was
already lost to him forever.

The Bohemian confirmed Macko's words now and then, sometimes by nodding
his head in approval, sometimes repeating "By God, true, as I live," or:
"It is so, not otherwise!" The young lady listened, with eyelashes
lowered till they touched her cheeks; she asked no more questions, and
was so quiet that her silence alarmed Macko.

"Now, what do you say to that?" he enquired when he had ended.

But she did not reply, only two tears glistened between her eyelids and
rolled down her cheeks.

After a while she approached Macko, and kissing his hand, said:

"The Lord be praised."

"Forever and ever," replied Macko. "Are you so much needed at home?
Better stay with us."

But she refused to remain, giving as a reason that she had not given out
the provisions for supper. But Macko, although he knew that there was the
old lady, Sieciechowa, at Zgorzelice, who could easily fulfil Jagienka's
duties, did not persuade her to remain, for he knew that sorrow does not
like the light on human tears, and that a man is like a fish, when it
feels the penetrating harpoon in its body it sinks to the depths.

Then he only regarded her as a girl, so he led her and the Bohemian into
the courtyard.

But the Bohemian brought the horse from the stable, harnessed him, and
departed with the young lady.

But Macko returned to the house, shook his head, and murmured:

"What a fool that Zbyszko is?... Why, her presence seems to have filled
the whole house with perfume."

The old man lamented to himself. "Had Zbyszko taken her immediately after
he returned, by this time there might have been joy and delight! But what
of it now? If they should speak of him her eyes would immediately be
filled with tears of longing, and the fellow is roaming about the world
and may break the head of some of the knights at Malborg, provided they
do not break his; and now the house is empty, only the arms on the wall
glitter. There is some benefit in husbandry. Running about is nothing,
Spychow and Bogdaniec are nothing. Very soon none will remain to whom
they might be left."

Here Macko became angry.

"Wait, you tramp," he exclaimed, "I will not go with you, you may do as
you like!"

But at that very moment he was seized with an exceeding yearning after

"Bah! shall I not go," he thought. "Shall I remain at home? God
forbid!... I wish to see that rascal once more. It must be so. He will
again fight one of those dog-brothers--and take spoil. Others grow old
before they receive the belt of knighthood, but he already has received
the belt from the prince.... And rightly so. There are many valorous
youths among the nobility; but not another like him."

His tender feelings entirely subdued him. First he began to look at the
arms, swords and axes which had become blackened by the smoke, as though
considering which to take with him, and which to leave behind; then he
left the house; first, because he could not stay there; secondly, to give
orders to prepare the carriage and give the horses double provender.

In the courtyard where it was already beginning to grow dark, he
remembered Jagienka, who only a moment ago sat here on horseback, and he
again became uneasy.

"I must go," he said to himself, "but who is going to protect the girl
against Cztan and Wilk. May thunder strike them."

But Jagienka was on the road with her little brother, Jasko, crossing the
woods leading to Zgorzelice, and the Bohemian accompanied them in
silence, with love and grief in his heart. A moment since he saw her
tears, now he looked at her dark form, scarcely visible in the darkness
of the forest, and he guessed her sorrow and pain. It also seemed to him
that at any moment Wilk or Cztan's rapacious hands might dart from the
dark thicket and grasp her, and at that thought, he was carried away by
wild anger and longed for a fight. At times the desire for fight was so
intense that he wanted to grasp his axe or sword and cut down a pine tree
on the road. He felt that a good fight would comfort him. Lastly he would
be glad, even if he could let the horse go at a gallop. But he could not
do it, they rode silently in front of him, and at a very slow gait, foot
by foot, and little Jasko, who was of a talkative disposition, after
several attempts to engage his sister in conversation, seeing that she
was unwilling to speak, desisted, and also sank into deep silence.

But when they were approaching Zgorzelice, the sorrow in the Bohemian's
heart turned to anger against Cztan and Wilk: "I would not spare even my
blood in your behalf," he said to himself, "provided it comforted you.
But what can I, unfortunate, do? What can I tell you? Unless I tell you
that he ordered me to kneel before you. And, God grant that that might be
of some comfort to you."

Thinking thus, he urged his horse close to Jagienka's.

"Gracious lady...."

"Are you riding with us?" enquired Jagienka, as though awaking from
sleep. "What do you say?"

"I forgot to tell you what my master commanded me to say to you. When I
was about to depart from Spychow, he called me and said 'I bow at the
feet of the young lady of Zgorzelice, for whether in good or bad fortune,
I shall never forget her; and for what she did for my uncle and myself,
may God recompense her, and keep her in good health.'"

"May God also recompense him for his good words," replied Jagienka.

Then she added, in such a wonderful tone, that it caused the Bohemian's
heart to melt:

"And you, Hlawa."

The conversation ceased for a while. But the armor-bearer was glad for
himself and for her words. For he said to himself: "At least it shall not
be said that she has been fed with ingratitude." He also began to rack
his brains for something more of the same nature to tell her; and after a
moment he said:



"This ... as it were ... I want to say, as the old _pan_ of Bogdaniec
also said: 'That the lady there is lost forever, and that he will never
find her, even if the grand master himself assist him.'"

"Then she is his wife...."

The Bohemian nodded his head.

"Yes, she is his wife."

Jagienka made no reply to this, but at home, after supper, when Jasko and
the younger brother were put to bed, she ordered a pitcher of mead. Then
she turned to the Bohemian and asked:

"Perhaps you want to retire. I wish to continue our conversation."

The Bohemian, although tired, was ready to chatter even till morning. So
they began to talk, and he again related in general terms all that had
happened to Zbyszko, Jurand, Danusia and himself.


Macko prepared for his journey, and Jagienka did not show herself at
Bogdaniec for two days after her consultation with the Bohemian. It was
only on the third day that the old knight met her on his way to church.
She was riding with her brother Jasiek to church at Krzesnia, and with
her was a considerable number of armed servants in order to protect her
from Cztan and Wilk, because she was not sure whether Cztan and Wilk were
still sick or were planning to harm her.

"Any way, I intended to call upon our own people at Bogdaniec," she said,
greeting Macko, "because I have to consult you about a very important
affair, but since you are here we can talk about it now."

Then she advanced in front of the retinue, obviously to prevent the
servants overhearing their conversation. When Macko was near her she

"Are you surely going?"

"If God will, not later than to-morrow."

"Are you going to Malborg?"

"To Malborg, or any other place, according to circumstances."

"Now then listen to me. I have thought a long time about what I ought to
do. I want to ask your advice, too. You well know that as long as papa
was alive, and the abbot was powerful, it was quite different. Cztan and
Wilk also thought that I should choose one of them, so they kept their
temper. But now I stand alone without a protector; then either I shall
remain at Zgorzelice in a fortress, like a prisoner, or they will do us
some harm without fail. Is it not so?"

"Yes," said Macko, "I thought of it myself."

"And what did you devise?"

"I devised nothing, but I must tell you one thing, that we are in Poland
and the law of this country punishes severely those who are guilty of
acts of violence."

"Very well, but the transgressors have no difficulty in crossing the
frontier. Indeed, I know that Szlonsk is also in Poland, yet there the
princes themselves quarrel and attack each other. If it were not so, my
beloved father would still be alive. There are already Germans there and
the times are stormy; they are mischievous, so that if any one of them
wishes to conceal himself, he does. It would be easy for me to avoid
Cztan and Wilk, but it concerns my little brother. If I should be absent
there would be peace, but if I remained in Zgorzelice, God only knows
what ill luck might happen. There would be outrages and fights; and
Jasiek is already fourteen years old, and nobody, not even myself, can
detain him. Upon the last occasion when you came to our assistance he
flew to the front, and when Cztan used his club upon the crowd he nearly
hit him on the head. 'O,' Jasko said to the servants, 'those two I will
prosecute to the very end.' I tell you that there will not be a single
peaceful day and some evil might befall the youngster."

"Faith. Cztan and Wilk are dog-brothers," said Macko, "although they
would not dare lift up their hands against children. Bah! only a Knight
of the Cross would do that."

"They will not lift up their hands against children, but in case of
tumult, or, God forbid, in an incendiary fire, there will be no lack of
accidents. Why talk! I love the brother of old Sieciechowa as my own
parents, and protection for them from the dear old woman is not wanting,
yet, without me ... would they be safer without me?"

"May be," replied Macko.

Then he looked slyly at the girl.

"Then, what do you want?"

And she replied in a low tone:

"Take me with you."

Then Macko, although he easily understood the drift of the conversation,
was much surprised. He checked his horse, and exclaimed:

"Fear God, Jagienka."

But she dropped her head and replied bashfully and sadly:

"You may think so, but as far as myself is concerned, I would rather
speak out than be silent. Hlawa and yourself said that Zbyszko will never
find Danusia, and the Bohemian's hope of finding her is even less. God is
my witness that I do not wish her evil in the least. Let the mother of
God watch over that poor girl and keep her. Zbyszko loved her more than
myself. Well, I cannot help it. Such is my lot. But observe this, so long
as Zbyszko does not find her, or as you believe, he will never find her,
then, then ..."

"What then?" asked Macko, seeing that the girl was getting more and more
confused and stammering.

"Then I do not wish to be Madame Cztan, nor Madame Wilk, nor madame

Macko breathed freely.

"I thought that you had already forgiven him."

But she, still in a sad tone, replied: "Ah!..."

"Then what are your wishes? How can we take you among the Knights of the

"Not exactly among the Knights of the Cross, I should like to be now with
the abbot who is confined in the hospital at Sieradz. He has not a single
friendly soul with him. The servants care more for the pitcher than they
do for him. Moreover, he is my godfather and benefactor. If he were well
I would have sought his protection all the same because the people fear

"I shall not dispute that," said Macko, who as a matter of fact, would be
glad that Jagienka should not go with him, for he well knew the Knights
of the Cross, and he was thoroughly convinced that Danuska would never
come out alive from their hands. "But only this I tell you, that to
travel with a girl is very troublesome."

"May be with others, but not with me. Nothing has occurred to me so far,
but I am accustomed to go about with the bow and can endure hardship in
the chase. When it is necessary, it is necessary. Don't be afraid. I
shall take Jasiek's clothing and a net for my hair and I shall go.
Jasiek, although younger than I am, with the exception of his hair looks
exactly like myself, so much so that when we disguised ourselves last
carnival our departed father could not tell one from the other. Observe,
neither the abbot nor anybody else recognized me."

"Neither Zbyszko?"

"If I shall see him...."

Macko thought for a moment, then suddenly smiled and said:

"But Wilk of Brzozowa and Cztan of Rogow would be furious."

"Let them! It might be worse if they came after us."

"Well! Fear not. I am an old man, but let them beware of my fist. All the
Gradys are of the same mettle!... However, they have already tested

Meanwhile they arrived at Krzesnia. Old Wilk of Brzozowa, who also
happened to be at church, from time to time cast gloomy glances at Macko,
but he did not mind it, and with a light heart he returned with Jagienka
immediately after mass.... Then they took leave of each other and parted.
When Macko was by himself at Bogdaniec, less happy thoughts passed
through his mind. He understood that neither the people at Zgorzelice nor
the relatives of Jagienka would really object to her departure. "But as
to the girl's admirers," he said to himself, "that is quite another
affair, but against the orphans and their property they would not dare to
lift up their hand, because they would cover themselves with excessive
infamy. Everybody would be against them as one is against a wolf. But
Bogdaniec is left to God's favor!... The quarries will be filled up, the
flocks will be seized, the peasants will be enticed away!... If God
permit me to return, then I will fight them. I shall send out bans, and
fight them not with the fist but with the law!... Only let me return, and
if I do?... They will combine against me, because I have spoiled their
love affair, and if she goes with me they will yet be more rancorous."

He was much grieved about his estate at Bogdaniec which he had improved.
Now he felt sure that on his return he would find it desolate and in

"Now then, it is necessary to take counsel," he thought.

Accordingly, after dinner, he ordered his horse to be saddled and left
directly for Brzozowa.

It was already dark when he arrived. Old Wilk was sitting in the front
room drinking mead from a pitcher. Young Wilk, who was wounded by Cztan,
was lying on a skin-covered bench, and was also drinking mead. Macko
entered unexpectedly and remained standing upon the threshold with a
stern look on his face; tall, bony, armed only with a big sabre at his
side. They recognized him at once, because his face was lit up by the
bright flame of the fireplace, and at the first moment, both the father
and son jumped up, lightning-like, and running toward the wall seized the
first arms that were at hand.

But the old experienced Macko, well knowing the people and their customs,
did not interfere in the least, he did not even reach his hand to his
sword. He only put his hands on his hips, and said quietly in a somewhat
sarcastic voice:

"How is it? Is this the kind of hospitality which the nobles in Brzozowa

These words had the desired effect; their hands fell, and in a moment the
old man let fall the sword with a clash, the young man dropped his pike,
and they stood with their necks craned toward Macko, their faces still
expressing hatred, but already amazed and ashamed of themselves.

Macko smiled and said:

"May the name of Christ be praised!"

"Forever and ever."

"And Saint Jerzy."

"We serve him."

"I come to visit my neighbors with good will."

"With good will we greet you, the guest of his holy person."

Then old Wilk rushed toward Macko, and with his son, both of them pressed
his right hand, they made him sit at a comfortable place at the table; in
a second they threw another log on the fireplace, spread the table and
put upon it a dish full of food, a jug of beer, a pitcher of mead, and
began to eat and drink. Young Wilk glanced now and then at Macko, which,
happily for the guest, contributed to lessen his hatred against him. But
he served him, however, so diligently that he became pale from fatigue,
because he was wounded and deprived of his wonted strength. The father
and son burned with curiosity to know the object of Macko's call. None,
however, asked him why, but waited for him to speak.

But Macko, as a man of manners, praised the meat, drink and hospitality.
Only when he had filled himself well, he looked up and spoke with

"People often quarrel. But neighborly peace above all."

"There is not a better thing than peace," replied old Wilk, with equal

"It also often happens," said Macko, "when one wants to undertake a long
journey, he wants to make up and bid good-bye even to his adversaries."

"God reward you for your candid words."

"Not mere words, but deeds, for I actually came to wish you good-bye."

"From our soul we wish you might visit us daily."

"I wish I could feast you in Bogdaniec in a manner suitable to people who
are acquainted with knightly honor. But I am in a hurry to go."

"Is it to war, or to some holy place?"

"I should like to go to one of the two, but the place I am going to is
worse, for I am going among the Knights of the Cross."

"Among the Knights of the Cross," exclaimed both father and son.

"Yes!" replied Macko. "And one who is their enemy is going to them. It is
well for him to be reconciled with God and men, so that he may not
forfeit, not only his life, but everlasting salvation."

"It is wonderful," said old Wilk. "I have never yet seen any man who has
not suffered from their wrongs and oppression."

"So it is in the whole fatherland," added Macko. "Neither Lithuania
before its conversion to Christianity, nor even the Tartars were such a
burden to the Polish kingdom as those devilish monks."

"Quite true, but this you also know, they gathered and gathered. It is
time now to finish with them."

Then the old man spat in his hands, and young Wilk added:

"It cannot be otherwise now."

"It will come to pass, surely, but when? We cannot do it, it is the
king's affair. It may be soon or not ... God only knows. But meanwhile I
must go to them."

"Is it not with ransom for Zbyszko?"

As his father mentioned Zbyszko's name young Wilk's face became pale with

But Macko replied quietly:

"May be with ransom but not for Zbyszko."

These words intensified the curiosity of both lords of Brzozowa. Old
Wilk, who could no more contain himself, said:

"Can you tell us, or not, the reason for your going there?"

"I will tell you! I will!" he said, nodding assent, "but first let me
tell you something else. Take notice then. After my departure Bogdaniec
will be under God's care.... When Zbyszko and myself were fighting under
Prince Witold, the abbot, also Zych of Zgorzelice, looked somewhat after
our small property. Now we shall miss even that little. It pains me
terribly to think that my endeavor and labor will be in vain.... You can
well form an idea how much this troubles me. They will entice away my
people, plough up the boundaries; they will take away my herds. Even
should God permit me to return, I shall find my property ruined.... There
is only one remedy, only one help ... good neighbor. For this reason I
came to ask you as a neighbor that you would take Bogdaniec under your
protection and see that no harm is done."

Listening to Macko's request, old Wilk and his son exchanged looks; both
of them were amazed beyond measure. They were silent for a moment, and
neither could muster courage enough to reply. But Macko lifted another
cup of mead to his mouth, drank it, then continued his conversation in as
quiet and confiding a manner as though the two had been his most intimate
friends for years.

"I have told you candidly from whom most damage is expected. It is from
no other quarter but from Cztan of Rogow. Although we were hostile to
each other, I fear nothing from you because you are noble people who
would face your adversaries, yet would not revenge yourselves by acting
meanly. You are quite different. A knight is always a knight. But Cztan
is a _prestak_ (churl). From such a fellow anything might be expected, as
you know. He is very bitter against me because I spoiled his game with

"Whom you reserve for your nephew," burst out young Wilk.

Macko looked at him and held him under his cold gaze for a moment, then
he turned to the old man and said quietly:

"You know, my nephew married a rich Mazovian proprietress and took
considerable dower." Silence more profound than before again reigned for
a while. Both father and son gazed at Macko with their mouths wide open,
for some time.

Finally the old man said:

"O! how is that? Tell us...."

Macko appeared not to notice the question and continued:

"This is the very reason why I must go, and why I also ask you, as worthy
and upright neighbors, to take care of Bogdaniec when I go, and see to it
that nobody damages my property. Have your eye especially upon Cztan and
protect me against him."

During that time young Wilk, who was quick to understand, reflected that
since Zbyszko had got married it would be better to be in friendship with
Macko, because Jagienka confided in him, and did nothing without asking
his advice. Thus new prospects suddenly presented themselves before his
eyes. "It is not enough, we must not only not oppose Macko, but endeavor
to be reconciled with him," he said to himself. Therefore, although he
was somewhat under the influence of drink, he quickly stretched his hand
under the table and grasped his father's knee and pressed it vigorously
as a sign for his father to be careful in his speech, but said himself:

"Ay! we do not fear Cztan! Let him only try. He wounded me with the
platter, true, but I too have given him such a sound drubbing that his
own mother could not recognize him. Fear nothing! Be at your ease. Not
even one crow shall be lost at Bogdaniec!"

"I see you are upright people. Do you promise me?"

"We promise!" both exclaimed.

"Upon your knightly honor?"

"Upon knightly honor."

"And upon your escutcheon?"

"Upon the escutcheon; yea, upon the cross too. So help us God!"

Macko smiled with satisfaction, and said:

"Well, this is now with you, and I am confident you will do it. If so,
let me tell you something more. Zych, as you know, appointed me guardian
of his children. I have, therefore, spoiled both Cztan's incursions and
your young man at Zgorzelice. But now when I arrive at Malborg, or, God
knows where, what then will become of my guardianship?... It is true,
that God is a father of the fatherless; and woe to him who shall attempt
to harm her; not only will I chop off his head with an axe, but also
proclaim him an infamous scoundrel. Nevertheless I feel very sorry to
part, sorry indeed. Then promise me I pray, that you will not only
yourself not do any harm to Zych's orphans, but see too that others do
not harm them."

"We swear! We swear!"

"Upon your knightly honor and your escutcheon?"

"Upon knightly honor and escutcheon."

"Also upon the cross?"

"Upon the cross too."

"God hears it. Amen," concluded Macko, and he breathed deeply, because he
was sure that they would not break such an oath. Even if they were
provoked they would rather gnaw their fists with anger than perjure

Then he began to take leave, but they insisted upon his remaining. He was
obliged to drink and fraternize with old Wilk. But young Wilk, contrary
to his custom to look for quarrels when drunk, this time limited his
anger to threats against Cztan, and ran around Macko so assiduously as
though he were to obtain Jagienka from Macko the following morning.
Toward midnight he fainted from over-exertion, and after they revived
him, he fell asleep like a log. Old Wilk followed the example of his son,
so that when Macko left them they were lying under the table like
corpses. Yet Macko himself had an extraordinary head and was not so much
affected by the drink, but was cheerful. When he returned home he
reflected with joy upon what he had accomplished.

"Well!" he said to himself, "Bogdaniec is safe and so is Zgorzelice. They
will be raging when they hear of Jagienka's departure. But she and my
property are safe. The Lord Jesus has endowed men with skill, so that
when one cannot make use of his fist, he uses his mind. The old man will
surely challenge me when I return home, but it is not worth while to
think about it.... Would to God that I might entrap the Knights of the
Cross in such manner.... But it will be a difficult task with them. With
us, even when one has an affair with a 'dog brother,' nevertheless if he
takes an oath on his knightly honor and escutcheon he will keep it. But
with them an oath has no value; it is like spitting upon the water. But
may the mother of Jesus assist me, that I may be as serviceable to
Zbyszko as I have been to Zychow's children, and Bogdaniec...."

Here, it crossed his mind, that perhaps it might be advisable not to take
Jagienka, because the two Wilks would care for her as the apple of their
eye. But the next moment he rejected that plan. "The Wilks might care for
her, true, but Cztan will persist in his attempts, and God knows who will
prevail. But it is a sure thing that there will be a succession of fights
and outrages from which Zgorzelice, Zych's orphans, and even the girl
might suffer. It will be an easy matter for Wilk to guard Bogdaniec. But
by all means it will be better for the girl to be as far away from the
two murderers as possible, and at the same time to be as near the rich
abbot as possible. Macko firmly believed that Danusia would never be
rescued from the Knights of the Cross, alive. And the hope that Zbyszko
would return home as a widower and most likely take to Jagienka, never
left him."

"Ah! Mighty God!" he said to himself. "In such a case he will be the
owner of Spychow, then he will get Jagienka and Moczydoly, and in
addition to it he will acquire that which the abbot will bequeath. I
would not even spare him wax for candles."

Occupied with such thoughts, the road from Brzozowa seemed to be
shortened, yet he arrived at Bogdaniec after nightfall, and was surprised
to see his windows brightly illuminated. The servants, too, were awake,
for he had scarcely entered the courtyard when the stable boy came
rushing to him.

"Are there some guests?" asked Macko, dismounting.

"There is the young gentleman of Zgorzelice with the Bohemian," replied
the stable boy.

This information astonished Macko, for Jagienka had promised to arrive
next day, very early, when they were to start immediately. Then, why had
Jasko come and that so late? It struck the old knight that something must
have occurred at Zgorzelice, and he entered his house with a certain
amount of anxiety. But within he found a bright fire burning in the large
clay oven in the centre of the room. And upon the table were two iron
cradles and two torches in them, by which light Macko observed Jasko, the
Bohemian, Hlawa, and another young servant with a face as red as an

"How are you, Jasko? and what is the matter with Jagienka?" asked the old

"Jagienka ordered me to tell you," he said, whilst kissing Macko's hand,
"that she has reconsidered the matter and she prefers to stay at home."

"For God's sake! What do you say? How? What has happened to her?"

But the boy looked at him with his beautiful blue eyes and smiled.

"What are you prating about?"

But at this moment, the Bohemian and the other boy also burst out

"You see!" exclaimed the disguised boy. "Who could recognize me. You even
have failed to recognize me!"

Then Macko looked at the lovely figure carefully and exclaimed:

"In the name of the Father and Son! It is a true carnival! You also here,
croaking thing. Why?"

"Yes! Why? Those who are on the road have no time to lose."

"Is it not to-morrow at dawn, that you were to leave?"

"Certainly! to-morrow at dawn, so that all may know. To-morrow they will
think at Zgorzelice that I am your guest, and they will not notice it
till the day after to-morrow. Sieciechowa and Jasiek know it. But Jasko
promised, upon knightly honor, that he will tell only then, when the
people begin to be restless. How is it you did not recognize me?"

Now it was Macko's turn to laugh.

"Let me have a good look at you; you are an excessively fine boy!... and
singularly so. From such one might expect to raise a good breed.... I
justly declare, if this fellow were, (pointing at himself) were not
old,--well! But, even thus I tell you, keep off, girl, from creeping
under my eyes, stand back!..."

And he began to threaten her with his finger, but looked at her with much
pleasure. Because such a girl he never saw before. Upon her head she had
a silken red net, and a yellow jacket upon her body and the breeches
ample round her hips and tighter above them, of which one little leg was
of the same color as the cap (net) upon her head, the other had longwise
stripes, with a richly covered little sword at her side, smiling and
bright like the dawn. Her face was so exquisite that he could not take
his eyes off her.

"My God!" said the overjoyed Macko. "She looks like some marvelous young
lady or like a flower, or something else!"

"And this one here--I am sure it must also be somebody in disguise?"

"This is Sieciechowa," answered Jagienka. "It would be improper for me to
be alone among you. How could I? Therefore I have taken Anulka[111] with
me so that two courageous women will be of help and service. Her also,
nobody can recognize."

"There, old woman, you have a marriage feast. One is bad enough, now
there will be two."

"Don't tease."

"I am not teasing, but everybody will recognize you and her, in the

"Pray, and why?"

"In order to go on their knees to you and to her also."

"O, give us peace!..."

"You shall have it, I am not in a hurry. But will Cztan or Wilk let you
have peace? God knows. Do you know, birdie, where I have just been? Why,
at Brzozowa."

"For God's sake! What are you saying?"

"It is true as truth itself that the Wilks protect Bogdaniec and
Zgorzelice against Cztan. Well, it is an easy matter to challenge an
enemy and fight him. But to make your enemy into a protector of your own
property is a very difficult task."

Then Macko related his adventures with the Wilks, how they had become
reconciled to each other. How he had got advantage over them; to this she
listened with the greatest wonder, and when he concluded she said:

"The Lord Jesus did not stint you in craftiness, and I observe that you
will always be successful in your undertakings."

But Macko shook his head, as though he felt sorry.

"Ay, daughter! If that were so, you would have long ago become the lady
of Bogdaniec!"

Upon hearing that, Jagienka looked at him with her lovely blue eyes for a
moment, then she approached him, and kissed his hand.

"Why do you kiss me?" inquired the old knight.

"Nothing.... I only wish to bid you goodnight, because it is getting late
and to-morrow we must get up early for our journey."

She then embraced Sieciechowa and left, and Macko led the Bohemian to his
room, where they stretched themselves upon aurochs' skins and both fell
sound asleep.


After the destruction, conflagration and slaughter which the Knights of
the Cross had committed in 1331, at Sieradz, Casimir the Great rebuilt
the razed town. The place, however, was not exceedingly splendid and
could not keep pace with the other towns of the realm. But Jagienka, who
hitherto had spent her time among the people of Zgorzelice and Krzesnia,
was beside herself with admiration and astonishment at the sight of the
houses, towers, town hall, and especially the churches; the wooden
structure at Krzesnia could not be compared with them. At first she lost
her wonted resolution, so much so that she dared not talk aloud, and only
inquired of Macko in a whisper about those wonderful things which dazzled
her eyes. But when the old knight assured her that there was as much
difference between Sieradz and Krakow as there is between a firebrand and
the sun, she would not believe her own ears, because it appeared to her
an impossibility that another city could be found in the world which
could be equal to Sieradz.

They were received in the cloister by the same shriveled old prior, who
still remembered in his childhood the butchery by the Knights of the
Cross, and who had previously received Zbyszko. The news of the abbot
occasioned them sorrow and trouble; he lived in the cloister for a long
while, but he left a fortnight before their arrival to visit his friend,
the bishop of Plock. He was constantly ill. He was generally conscious in
the morning; but toward the evening he lost his head, he stormed and he
asked to put on a coat of mail, and challenged Prince John of Racibor.
The clergy were obliged to apply force to keep him in bed; that was not
accomplished without considerable trouble and even much risk. About a
fortnight ago he had entirely lost his reason, and in spite of his
serious illness, he had given orders to be taken to Plock immediately.

"He said that he confided in nobody so much as in the bishop of Plock,
and that he wished to receive the sacrament from him alone and leave his
testament with him. We opposed his journey as much as we could, for he
was very faint, and we feared that he would not survive even one mile's
journey. But to oppose him was not an easy task. So the attendants
prepared a wagon and carried him away. May God direct it to a happy

"If he had died somewhere near Sieradz you would have heard of it," said

"We would have surely heard of it," replied the little old prior. "We
therefore are of opinion that he did not die, and we think that he had
not yet when he reached Lenczyca. What may have happened beyond that
place, we are unable to tell. You will get information on the road if you
go after him."

Macko felt uneasy when he received the tidings, and he went to take
counsel with Jagienka, who had already got information from the Bohemian
whither the abbot had gone.

"What is to be done?" he asked her; "and what are you going to do with

"Come to Plock, and I will go with you."

"To Plock!" repeated Sieciechowa, in a piping voice.

"Look how things go! Is it as easy for you to go to Flock as to handle
the sickle?"

"How can I and Sieciechowa return by ourselves? If I cannot continue my
journey with you, it would have been preferable to have remained at home.
Do you not think that Wilk and Cztan will be more obstinate in their
intrigues against me?"

"Wilk will protect you against Cztan."

"I fear Wilk's protection as much as Cztan's open violence. I see that
you too are opposing me; if it were only simple opposition I should not
mind it, but not when it is in earnest."

Indeed Macko's opposition was not in earnest; on the contrary he
preferred that Jagienka should accompany him, than return, so when he
heard her words, he smiled and said:

"She has got rid of her petticoats, and now she wants reason too."

"Reason is only to be found in the head."

"But Plock is out of the way."

"The Bohemian said that it is not out of the way, but it is nearer to

"Then you have already consulted the Bohemian?"

"Surely; moreover, he said: 'If the young lord got into trouble at
Malborg, then we could get much help from Princess Alexandra, for she is
a relative of the king; besides that, being a personal friend of the
Knights of the Cross, she has great influence among them.'"

"It is true, as God is dear to me!" exclaimed Macko. "It is a fact well
known to all, that if she wished to give us a letter to the master we
could travel with perfect safety in all lands of the Knights of the
Cross. They love her because she loves them. That Bohemian boy is not a
fool, his advice is good."

"And how much so!" Sieciechowa exclaimed with warmth, lifting up her
little eyes.

Macko suddenly turned toward her and said:

"What do you want here?"

The girl became much confused, lowered her eyelashes and blushed like a

However, Macko saw that there was no other remedy but to continue his
journey and take both girls with him. This he much desired. The following
morning he took leave of the little old prior and then they continued
their journey. Owing to the thawing of the snow and inundations they
progressed with greater difficulty than before. On the road they inquired
after the abbot, and they found many courts, and parsonages, where there
were none of the former, even inns, where he had remained for a night's
lodging. It was quite easy to follow in his track, because he had
lavishly distributed alms, bought missals, contributed to church bells
and subscribed to funds for the repair of churches. Therefore every
beggar, sexton, yea even every priest they met remembered him with
gratitude. They generally said: "He traveled like an angel," and prayed
for his recovery, although here and there were heard more expressions of
apprehension that his everlasting rest was drawing nigh, than hopes of
temporary recovery. In some places he had taken supplies enough for two
or three days. It seemed to Macko that most likely he would be able to
overtake him.

Yet Macko was mistaken in his calculations. The overflow of the rivers
Ner and Bzur prevented them from arriving at Lenczyca. They were obliged
to take up their quarters for four days at a deserted inn, whose owner
apparently had fled on account of the threatening floods. The road
leading from the inn to the town which to a certain extent was repaired
with stumps of trees was submerged for a considerable stretch in the
muddy flood. Macko's servant, Wit, a native of that locality, had some
knowledge of the road leading through the woods, but he refused to act as
guide, because he knew that the marshes of Lenczyca were the rendezvous
of unclean spirits, especially the powerful Borut who delighted in
leading people to bottomless swamps, whence escape was only possible by
forfeiture of the soul. Even the inn itself was held in bad repute, so
that travelers used to provision themselves with victuals to avoid
hunger. Even old Macko was scared of this place. During the night they
heard skirmishing upon the roof of the inn; at times there were also
rappings at the door. Jagienka and Sieciechowa, who slept in the alcove
near the large room, also heard the sound of little footsteps upon the
ceiling and walls during the night-time. They were apparently not afraid
of it, because at Zgorzelice they were accustomed to croaking birds. Old
Zych, in his time, fed them, according to the then prevailing custom
there were not wanting those who would provide them with crusts, and they
were not mischievous. But on a certain night, from the neighboring
thickets resounded a dull ominous bellowing, and the following morning
they discovered huge cloven-foot traces upon the mud. They might have
been of aurochs or bison, but Wit was of opinion that the traces were
those of Borut, and although his outward appearance is that of a man,
even of a nobleman, he has cloven instead of human feet. But owing to
parsimony he takes off his boots when crossing the swamps. Macko was
informed that one could appease him with drink; he considered during the
whole day whether it would be sinful to gain the friendship of the evil
spirit. He even took counsel with Jagienka on the same subject.

"I should like to suspend upon the fence a bull's bladder full of wine or
mead," he said, "and if it were found that something of the drink were
missing, then it would be conclusive proof that the evil spirit was

"But that might displease the heavenly powers," replied Jagienka, "of
whose blessing we stand in need to assist us in succoring Zbyszko

"I, too, am afraid, but I think that a little mead is not the soul. I
shall not give him my soul. One bladder full of wine or mead, I think, is
of little significance in the eyes of the heavenly powers!"

Then he lowered his voice and added:

"One nobleman entertains another even if he is a useless fellow, and they
say he is a nobleman."

"Who?" asked Jagienka.

"I do not want to mention the name of the unclean spirit."

Nevertheless, Macko, with his own hands suspended the same evening a
large bull's bladder in which drink is usually carried, and it was found
empty the following morning.

When that was related to the Bohemian, he laughed heartily, but nobody
paid attention to it. Macko, however, was filled with joy, because he
expected that when he should attempt to cross the swamp no mishap would
occur on that account.

"Unless they told an untruth when they said that he knows honor," he said
to himself.

Above all things it was necessary to investigate if there was a passage
through the woods. It might have been so, because where the soil was made
firm by the roots of the trees and other growths, it did not easily
soften by the rains; although Wit, who belonged in the locality, could
best perform that service, he refused to go, and when his name was
suggested, he shouted: "Better kill me. I shall not go."

Then they explained to him that the unclean spirits are powerless during
the daytime. Macko himself was willing to go, but it was finally arranged
that Hlawa should venture, because he was a bold fellow, agreeable to
all, specially to the ladies. He put an axe in his belt, and in his hand
a scythe, and left.

He left early in the morning and was expected to return about noon, but
he did not, and they began to be alarmed. Later on, the servants were
watching at the edge of the forest, and in the afternoon Wit waved his
hand as a sign that Hlawa had not returned, and should he return the
danger is greater for us, for God knows whether, owing to a wolf's bite,
he is not transformed into a werewolf. Hearing this, all were frightened;
even Macko was not himself. Jagienka turned toward the forest and made
the sign of the cross. But Anulka searched in vain in her skirt and apron
for something with which to cover her eyes, but finding nothing she
covered them with her fingers, from between which tears began to trickle
in big drops.

However, toward evening time, just at the spot where the sun was about to
set, the Bohemian appeared, and that, not by himself, but accompanied by
a human figure whom he drove in front of him on a rope. All rushed out
toward him with shouts of joy. But at the sight of the figure they became
silent; it was dwarfed, monkey-like, hairy, black and dressed in wolf

"In the name of the Father and Son tell me; what is this figure you have
brought," shouted Macko.

"How do I know?" replied the Bohemian. "He said that he was a man and a
pitch-burner, but I don't know whether he told me the truth."

"Oh, he is not a man, no," said Wit.

But Macko ordered him to be quiet; then he looked carefully around him
and suddenly said:

"Cross yourself. We are accustomed to cross ourselves when with the

"Praised be Jesus Christ!" exclaimed the prisoner, and crossed himself as
fast as he could. He breathed deeply, looked with great confidence at the
group and said:

"Praised be Jesus Christ. I too, O Jesus, was uncertain whether I was in
Christian or in the devil's power."

"Fear not, you are among Christians, who attend the holy Mass. What are
you then?"

"I am a pitch-burner, sir, dwelling in a tent. There are seven of us who
dwell in tents with our families."

"How far are you from here?"

"Not quite ten furlongs."

"How do you get to town?"

"We have our private road along the 'Devil's Hollow.'"

"Along what? The Devil's?... then cross yourself again."

"In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen."

"Very well. Is that road practicable for vehicles?"

"Now there is quagmire everywhere, although there is less near the Hollow
than upon the regular road; owing to the access of the wind the mud is
quickly dried up. But farther on to Buda the road is bad. But those who
know the track push through it slowly."

"Will you lead us for a florin or two?"

The pitch-burner accepted the offer willingly, but begged for half a loaf
of bread, which he said is very scarce in the woods and he had seen none
for some time past. It was arranged that they should start very early the
next morning, because it was "not good to travel in the evening," he
said. "There at Boruca ghosts storm terribly, but they do no harm. But
being jealous for the Lenczyca principality they chase away other devils
into the bushes. It is only bad to meet them during the night, especially
when a man is drunk, but the sober need not be afraid."

"You were afraid nevertheless," said Macko.

"Because that knight unexpectedly grasped me with such strength that I
took him for another being."

Then Jagienka smiled that all of them took the pitch-burner to be the
devil, and he thought them to be the same. Anulka and Sieciechowa laughed
at Macko's words, when he said:

"Your eyes are not yet dry from weeping for Hlawa; now you are laughing?"

The Bohemian looked at the girl, he observed her eyelids which were still
moist, then he asked:

"Did you cry for me?"

"Of course not," replied the girl. "I was only scared."

"You ought to be ashamed. Are you not a noblewoman, and a noblewoman like
your mistress is not afraid. Nothing evil could happen to you in the
middle of the day, and among people."

"Nothing to me, but to you."

"Yet you said that you did not cry for me."

"I insist, not for you."

"Then why did you cry?"

"From fear."

"You are not afraid now?"



"Because you have returned."

Then the Bohemian looked at her with gratitude, smiled, and said:

"Bah! If we kept on talking in that manner we might have continued till
morning. What a smart woman you are!"

"Make no fun of me," quietly replied Sieciechowa. In fact she was as
smart as any woman; and Hlawa who was himself a cunning fellow understood
it well. He knew that the girl's attachment to him was daily increasing.
He loved Jagienka, but the love was that of a subject for his king's
daughter, and with great humility and reverence, and without any other
motive. Meanwhile the journey brought him in closer contact with
Sieciechowa. When on the march old Macko and Jagienka usually rode side
by side in front, while Hlawa and Sieciechowa were together in the rear.
He was as strong as a urus and hot-blooded, so that when looking straight
into her lovely bright eyes, at her flaxen locks which escaped from under
her bonnet, upon her whole slender and well-shaped figure, especially at
her admirably shaped limbs gripping the black pony, his whole frame
trembled. He could restrain himself no longer. The more he looked upon
those charms the more intense and longing his gaze became. He
involuntarily thought that if the devil were to assume the form of that
girl he would have no difficulty in leading one into temptation. She was
moreover of a sweet temperament, very obedient, and lively, like a
sparrow upon the roof. Sometimes strange thoughts crossed the Bohemian's
mind; once when he and Anulka remained somewhat in the rear near the
packhorses, he suddenly turned toward her and said:

"Do you know I shall devour you here as a wolf devours a lamb."

She heartily laughed, and showed her pretty little white teeth.

"Do you want to eat me?" she asked.

"Yes I even with the little bones."

And he cast such a look at her that she melted under his glances. Then
they lapsed into silence, only their hearts were beating intensely, his
with desire, and hers with pleasurable intoxication tinged with fear.

But the Bohemian's passion at first entirely prevailed over his
tenderness, and when he said that he looked at Anulka like a wolf at a
lamb, he told the truth. Only on that evening when he observed her
eyelids and cheeks moistened with tears, his heart became softened She
seemed to him as good, as though near to him and as though she were
already his own, and as he himself was upright by nature, and at the same
time a knight, he not only was elated with pride, and not hardened at the
sight of the sweet tears, but he courageously continued gazing at her.
His wonted gaiety of conversation left him, and although he continued to
jest in the evening with the timid girl, yet it was of a different
nature. He treated her as a knightly armor-bearer ought to treat a

Old Macko was chiefly occupied in thinking of the journey, and the
crossing of the swamps, and he only praised him for his noble manners
which, as he observed, he must have learned when he was with Zbyszko at
the Mazovian court.

Then he turned to Jagienka and added:

"Hey! Zbyszko!... His deportment befits even a king's presence."

But his work was over in the evening, when it was time to retire. Hlawa,
after having kissed the hand of Jagienka, lifted in turn the hand of
Sieciechowa to his lips and said:

"Not only need you not fear me, but whilst you are with me you need fear
nothing, for I shall not give you to anybody."

Then the men went into the front room whilst Jagienka and Anulka retired
to the alcove and slept together in a wide and comfortable bed. Neither
fell asleep readily, especially Sieciechowa, who was restless and turned
from side to side. At length Jagienka moved her head toward Anulka and


"What is it?"

"It seems to me that you are much taken with that Bohemian.... Is it so?"

Her question remained unanswered.

But Jagienka whispered again:

"I understand it all.... Tell me."

Sieciechowa did not reply, but instead, pressed her lips to the cheeks of
her mistress and showered kisses upon them.

At Anulka's kisses, poor Jagienka's breast heaved.

"Oh, I understand, I understand," she whispered, so low that Anulka's ear
scarcely caught her words.


After a mild and foggy night, a windy and gloomy day came. At times the
sky was bright, at others it was covered with broken clouds which were
driven before the wind like flocks of sheep. Macko ordered the train to
move by daybreak. The pitch-burner, who was hired as guide to Buda,
affirmed that the horses could pass everywhere, but as to the wagons,
provisions and baggage, it would be necessary in some places to take them
apart and carry them piecemeal, and that could not be done without
tedious work. But people accustomed to hard labor preferred hardship to
lounging in the deserted inn. Therefore they moved on willingly. Even the
timid Wit was not scared by the words and presence of the pitch-burner.

They left the inn and entered at once between high-trunked forest trees,
free from undergrowth. They led their horses, and could pass along
without taking the wagons to pieces. Occasionally a storm arose, and at
times it increased to such extraordinary force that it struck the
branches of the bending pines as with gigantic wings, bending, twisting
and shaking and breaking them as it were with the fans of a windmill. The
forest bent under the unchained elements. Even in the intervals between
the gusts it did not cease to howl and thunder, as if angry with their
rest at the inn, and the forced march they had undertaken. Now and then
the clouds entirely obscured the daylight. Drenching rain mingled with
hail came down in torrents, and it became as dark as nightfall. Wit was
short of breath, and shouted that "evil was bent to do harm and is doing
it." But nobody paid attention to it, even the timid Anulka did not take
his words to heart because the Bohemian was so near that her stirrup
touched his, and he looked ahead with such a brave air that he seemed to
want to challenge the very devil.

Behind the tall pine trees where the undergrowth began, the thickets were
impassable. There they were obliged to take the wagons in sections; they
did it dexterously and quickly. The strong servants transported the
wheels, axle-tree, front of the wagon, packages and stores, upon their
shoulders. The bad road continued about three furlongs. However they
arrived at Buda about nightfall; there the pitch-burner received them as
his guests, and they were assured by him that along the Devil's Hollow,
correctly speaking, they could reach the town. These people, inhabitants
of the pathless forest seldom saw bread or flour, yet they were not
starving. Because all kinds of smoked meat, especially eels, which
abounded in all swamps and mud holes, they had in plenty. They treated
them liberally, in exchange, holding out greedy hands for the biscuits.
There were among them women and children, all blackened from the smoke.
There was also a peasant, more than one hundred years old, who remembered
the massacre of Lenczyca, which happened in 1331, and the complete
destruction of the town by the "Knights of the Cross." Although Macko,
the Bohemian, and the two girls, had already heard the narrative from the
prior of Sieradz, nevertheless they listened with much interest to the
tale of the old man who was sitting at the fireside scraping in the
cinders. It seemed as if he discovered among them the events of his
earlier days. At Lenczyca, as well as at Sieradz, they spared not even
the churches and clergy, and the knives of the conquerors were covered
with the blood of old men, women and children. Always the Knights of the
Cross, the everlasting Knights of the Cross! The thoughts of Macko and
Jagienka were constantly directed toward Zbyszko, who was living in the
very jaws of the wolves, in the midst of a hardened clan who knew neither
pity nor the laws of hospitality. Sieciechowa was faint at heart, because
she feared that their hunt after the abbot might lead them among those
terrible Knights of the Cross.

But the old man, to counteract the unfavorable impression which the
stories made upon the women, told them of the battle near Plowce, which
put an end to the incursions of the Knights of the Cross, and in which he
took part as a soldier in the infantry raised by the peasants, and armed
with an iron flail. In that battle perished almost the whole clan of the
Gradys; Macko knew all the particulars of it, nevertheless he listened
now as though it were a recital of a new terrible calamity caused by the
Germans, when like cornfields before the storm they were mowed down by
the sword in the hands of the Polish knighthood and the forces of King

"Ha! I just recollect," said the old man, "when they invaded this
country, they burned the town and castles. Yes, they even massacred the
infants in the cradles, but their terrible end came. Hey! It was a fine
fight. I can see the battle now with my eyes closed...."

He closed his eyes and was silent, gently moving the ashes until
Jagienka, who could wait no longer, asked:

"How was it?"

"How was it?..." repeated the old man. "I remember the battlefield, it
seems that I am now looking at it; there were bushes, and patches of
stubble to the right. But after the battle nothing was visible but
swords, axes, pikes and fine armor, one upon another, as though the whole
blessed land was covered with them.... I have never seen so many slain in
one heap, and so much human blood shed...."

Macko's heart was strengthened anew by the recollection of these events,
then he said:

"True. Merciful Lord Jesus! They had then encompassed the kingdom like a
conflagration or like a plague. Not only Sieradz and Lenczyca, but they
destroyed many other towns. What now? Are not our people mighty and
indestructible? And although those dog-brothers, the Knights of the
Cross, were severely chastised, yet if you cannot crush them they will
attack you and break your teeth.... Only see, King Kazimierz rebuilt
Sieradz and Lenczyca so that they are better now than ever before, yet
the incursions occur there as of old, and the Knights of the Cross are
laid low and rot there as they were at the battle of Plowce. May God
always grant them such an end!"

When the old peasant heard these words he nodded assent; finally he said:

"Perhaps they don't lie and rot. We of the infantry were ordered by the
king, after the battle was over, to dig ditches; the peasants from the
neighborhood came to assist us in our labor. We worked industriously, so
that the spades groaned. Then we laid the Germans in trenches and covered
them well, to avoid pestilence. But they did not remain there."

"What happened? Why did they not remain there?"

"I did not see it, but the people said afterward that after the battle
there came a fierce storm which lasted about twelve weeks, but only at
night-time. The sun shone during the daytime, but at night the wind was
so fierce that it almost tore the hair from off the head. The devils,
like thick clouds, came down in great numbers, whirling like a hurricane;
every one of them held a pitchfork, and as soon as one of them reached
the earth he thrust the pitchfork into the ground and carried off one
Knight of the Cross to hell. At Plowce they heard a hurly-burly of human
voices which sounded like the howling of whole packs of dogs, but they
did not know what it all meant, whether it were the noise of the Germans,
who were howling with terror and pain, or the devils with joy. That
continued as long as the trenches were not consecrated by the priest, and
the ground was not frozen, so that there was no need even for

Silence followed for a moment, then the old man added:

"But God grant, Sir Knight, such an end to them as you said, and although
I shall not live to see it, but such young lasses as these two will live,
but they shall not see what mine eyes have seen."

Then he turned his head, now looking at Jagienka, now at Sieciechowa,
wondering at their marvelous faces and shaking his head.

"Like poppies in corn," he said. "Such beautiful faces I have never

Thus they chattered during a part of the night. Then they went to sleep
in the shanties and lay down upon mosses as soft as down and covered
themselves with warm fur; then after a refreshing sleep, they arose early
in the morning and continued their journey. The road along the hollow was
not an easy passage, but it was not a very bad road. So that before
sunset they descried the castle of Lenczyca. The city had arisen from its
ashes, it was rebuilt; part of it was built of brick and part of stone,
its walls were high, the towers armed. The churches were even larger than
those of Sieradz. There they had no difficulty in getting information
from the Dominican friars concerning the abbot. He was there, he said
that he felt better, and he hoped to recover his health entirely; and
only a few days ago he left for his onward journey. Macko was not bent on
overtaking him on the road, so he had already procured conveyance for
both girls to Plock, where the abbot himself would have taken them. But
Macko was much concerned about Zbyszko, and other news distressed him.
The rivers had arisen after the departure of the abbot, and it was
impossible to continue the journey. Seeing that the knight was
accompanied by a considerable retinue and was proceeding to the court of
Prince Ziemowit, the Dominicans offered him their hospitality; they had
even provided him with an olive-wood tablet upon which there was
inscribed a Latin prayer to the angel Raphael, the patron of travelers.

Their compulsory sojourn at Lenczyca lasted a fortnight, during which
time a servant of the castle discovered that the two young pages
accompanying the knight were females in disguise, and at once fell deeply
in love with Jagienka. The Bohemian was about to challenge him at once,
but as it happened on the eve of their departure Macko dissuaded him from
taking such a step.

When they moved on toward Plock, the wind had already somewhat dried the
road, and although it rained often, yet the rainfall, as is usual in the
spring, consisted of larger drops, but warm, and of short duration. The
furrows upon the fields glistened with water. The moist, sweet smell from
the cultivated fields was wafted by the strong wind. The marshes were
covered with buttercups and the violets blossomed in the woods, and the
grasshoppers joyfully chirped among the branches. The hearts of the
travelers were also filled with new hope and longing, especially as they
were now progressing well. After sixteen days' travel they were at the
gates of Plock.

But they arrived at night, when the gates of the city were closed. They
were obliged to pass the night with a weaver outside the wall.

The girls retired late, and after the fatigue of the long journey they
fell sound asleep, but Macko, who was not troubled by fatigue, got up
early; he did not wish to wake them and he entered the town by himself at
the opening of the gates. He found the cathedral and the bishop's
residence without difficulty. There he was informed that the abbot had
died a week ago, but according to the prevailing custom they had
celebrated mass before the coffin from the sixth day, and the funeral was
to take place on the day of Macko's arrival, after which would be
obsequies and last honors in memory of the defunct.

Owing to intense grief, Macko did not even look about the town, but he
knew something already from that time when he had passed through that
city with a letter from the princess Alexandra to the grand master. He
returned to the weaver's place as fast as he could, and on his way home
he said to himself:

"Ha! He is dead. Eternal repose to him. There is nothing in the world to
remedy it. But now what shall I do with the girls?"

Then he reflected whether it were not better to leave them with the
princess Alexandra, or with the princess Anna Danuta, or to take them to
Spychow. It struck him more than once, that if Danuska were dead, it
would be advisable to have Jagienka close to Zbyszko at Spychow, since
Zbyszko, who loved Danuska above all other things would greatly mourn
after his beloved. He was also sure that Jagienka's presence at Zbyszko's
side would have the desired effect. He also remembered that Zbyszko in
his boyhood, although his heart was after the woods in Mazowsze, was
constantly longing for Jagienka. For these reasons, and fully believing
that Danusia was lost, he often thought that in case of the abbot's
demise, he would not send Jagienka to any other place; but as he was
greedy to acquire landed property, he was therefore concerned about the
property of the abbot. Surely, the abbot was displeased with them and
promised to bequeath nothing to them; but after that he must have felt
sorry and, before he died left something for Jagienka. He was sure that
the abbot had bequeathed something to her, because he frequently spoke
about it at Zgorzelice, and he would not overlook Zbyszko on account of
Jagienka. Macko was also thinking of remaining for sometime at Plock, so
as to investigate the will and attend to the matter, but other thoughts
crossed his mind, and he said: "Should I longer be here looking after
property, whilst my boy yonder is stretching out his hand and waiting for
my help from some Knight of the Cross dungeon?"

In truth, there was only one course, and that was: to leave Jagienka
under the care of the princess and the bishop, and beg them to look after
her interest. But that plan did not please Macko. The girl has already
considerable property of her own, and when her estate is increased by
that which the abbot has bequeathed her, then as sure as there is a God
some Mazur will take her, for she cannot hold out any longer. Zych, her
defunct father, used to say of her, that she was in danger[112] even
then. In such case, the old knight thought that both Danusia and Jagienka
might fail Zbyszko. That of course was not to be thought of.

He will take one of the two, whichever God had decreed. Finally that plan
to rescue Zbyszko he preferred to the others; and as to Jagienka, he
resolved either to leave her in the care of Princess Danuta, or at
Spychow, but not at the court at Plock where there was much glitter, and
which was filled with handsome knights.

Overwhelmed with these thoughts, he proceeded quickly to the dwelling of
the weaver, to inform Jagienka of the abbot's death. He was determined
not to break the news to her suddenly, as it might greatly endanger her
health. When he reached home both ladies were properly dressed and
appeared as gay as birds; he sat down and ordered the servants to bring
him a jug of brown beer; then he assumed a doleful air, and said:

"Do you hear the bells ringing in town? Guess, why are they ringing,
since to-day is not Sunday, and you slept during matins. Would you like
to see the abbot?"

"Surely! What a question?" answered Jagienka.

"Well, you shall see him as the king sees Cwiek."[113]

"Has he left the city?"

"He has left, but do you not hear the bells ringing?"

"Is he dead?" exclaimed Jagienka.

"Yes! say 'God rest his soul.' ..."

Both ladies knelt down and began to chant: "God rest his soul," in a
bell-like voice. Then tears streamed down Jagienka's cheeks, for she was
very fond of the abbot, who, though of a violent temper, never harmed
anybody, but did much good; he specially loved Jagienka, for he was her
godfather, he loved her as one loves his own daughter. Macko remembered
that the abbot was related to him and Zbyszko; he was also moved to tears
and even cried. After his grief had subsided a little, he took the ladies
and the Bohemian with him and went to the funeral services in the church.

It was a magnificent funeral. The bishop himself, Jacob of Kurdwanow,
conducted it. There were present all the priests and monks of the diocese
of Plock, all the bells were ringing, and prayers were said which none
else but the clergy understood, for they were said in the Latin. Then the
clergy and the laity went to the banquet at the bishop's palace.

Macko and his two girls (disguised as boys) also went to the banquet; he,
as a relative of the deceased, and known to the bishop, was fully
entitled to be present. The bishop also willingly received him as such,
but immediately after the invitation he said to Macko:

"There is here a bequest of some forests for the Gradys of Bogdaniec. The
rest he did not bequeath to the abbey and the cloister, but to his
goddaughter, a certain Jagienka of Zgorzelice."

Macko, who did not expect much, was glad for the woodlands. The bishop
did not observe that one of the youths accompanying the old knight at the
mentioning of the name of Jagienka of Zgorzelice lifted up her tearful
eyes, and said:

"May God recompense him, but I wish he were alive."

Macko turned and said angrily:

"Be silent, otherwise you will shame yourself."

But he suddenly stopped, his eyes glistened with amazement, then his face
assumed wolfish fierceness, when at a distance from him opposite the
door, through which the princess Alexandra had just entered, he observed
the figure, dressed in court uniform, of Kuno of Lichtenstein, the very
man by whom Zbyszko had nearly lost his life in Krakow.

Jagienka had never seen Macko in such a condition. His face was
contracted like the jaws of a fierce dog, his teeth glistened beneath his
moustache, and in a moment he tightened his belt and moved toward the
hateful Knight of the Cross.

But when about midway he checked himself and began to pass his broad
hands through his hair; he reflected in time, that Lichtenstein might
only be a guest in the court of Plock, or an envoy, therefore, if he were
to strike him without apparent reason, the very thing which happened to

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest