Friday, February 29, 2008


"Uncle Gamroth, don't interrupt the knight," said the second merchant.

"I’m not, I just think that he will be glad to know what people are talking about, because I am sure he is going to Krakow. We cannot return to the city today at any rate, because they will shut the gates by the time we get there."

"And you say twenty words, in reply to one. You are getting old, Uncle Gamroth!"

"But I can carry a whole bale of wet broadcloth just the same."

"Big deal! The cloth through which one can see, as through a sieve."

But the knight interrupted further dispute. "Yes, I will stay in Krakow because I have heard about the tournaments and I will be glad to try my strength on the field; and my nephew, who although young and smooth faced, has already seen more then on armor on the ground at his feet."

The guests glanced at the youth who smiled happily, and putting his long hair behind his ears, raised the mug of beer to his mouth.

The older knight added: "Even if we wanted to, we have no place to return to."

"How is that?" asked one of the nobles. "Where are you from, and what do they call you?"

"I am Macko of Bogdaniec, and this lad, the son of my brother, calls himself Zbyszko. Our coat of arms is Dull Horseshoe (Tepa Podkowa), and our battle cry is Grady!"

"Where is Bogdaniec?"

"Hah! You better ask, my friend, where it was, because it is no more. During the last war Bogdaniec was burned to the ground, we were robbed of everything and the servants ran away. Only the bare soil remained, because even the farmers who were in the neighborhood, fled into the forests. We, me and my brother, the father of this lad, rebuilt; but next year, a flood took everything. Then my brother died, and after his death I remained with the orphan. Then I thought: 'I can't stay!' I heard about the war for which Jasko of Olesnica was sent by the king Vladislaus to recruit knights and foot soldiers in Poland while Mikolaj of Moskorzowo was sent to Vilnius for the same purpose. I knew a worthy abbot, Janko of Tulcza, to whom I gave my land as security for the money I needed to buy armor and horses, necessary for a war expedition. I put the boy, twelve years old at that time, on a young horse and we went to find Jasko of Olesnica."

"With the teenager?"

"He was not even a teen then, but he has been strong since childhood.
When he was twelve, he used to rest a crossbow on the ground, press itagainst his chest and turn the crank. None of the English, whom I have seen in Wilno, could do better."

"Was he that strong?"

"He used to carry my helmet, and when he passed thirteen winters, he
could carry my shield too."

"You must have had plenty of fighting there!"

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