Monday, March 10, 2008

Chapter 2 (1.2.01)


At that moment the duchess entered. She was a middle-aged lady with a smiling face, dressed in a red mantle and light green dress with a golden girdle around her hips. The duchess was followed by the ladies of the court, some not yet grown up, some of them older. They had pink and lilac wreaths on their heads, and the majority of them had lutes in their hands. Some of them carried large bunches of fresh flowers, evidently plucked by the roadside. The room was soon filled, because several courtiers and young servants followed the ladies. All were lively, with glee on their faces, talking loudly or humming as if they were intoxicated with the beautiful night and bright moon. Among the courtiers were two musicians, one had a lute and the other had a fiddle at his belt. One of the girls who was very young, perhaps twelve years old, carried behind the princess a very small lute ornamented with brass nails.

"May Jesus Christ be praised!" said the duchess, standing in the center of the room.

"For ages and ages, amen!" answered those present, while deeply bowing to her.

"Where is the innkeeper?"

The German hearing the call, advanced to the front and kneeled, in the German fashion.

"We are going to stop here and rest," said the lady. "Please be quick we are hungry."

The townsmen were already gone, now the two noblemen and both Macko and young Zbyszko bowed again with an intention to leave the inn, as they did not wish to interfere with the court.

But the duchess stopped them.

"You are noblemen and you don’t intrude, get acquainted with courtiers. From where has God brought you from?"

They started giving their names, their coats of arms, their nicknames and the estates after which they received their names. The lady having heard from Macko where is coming from, clapped her hands, and said:

"What a great coincidence! Tell us about Vilnius and about my brother and sister. Is Prince Witold coming for the queen's pregnancy confinement and for the Baptism?"

"He would like to, but doesn’t know whether he will be able to do so. Therefore he sent a silver cradle to the queen as a present. My nephew and I came with that cradle protecting it."

"Is the cradle here? I would like to see it! All silver?"

"All silver, but it’s not here. It was taken to Krakow."

"And what are you doing in Tyniec?"

"We returned here to see the caretaker from monastery, our relative, in order to deposit with the monks valuables and duke’s rewards with which the war has blessed us."

"Then God gave you good luck and valuable booty? But tell me why my brother is uncertain whether he will come?"

"Because he is preparing an expedition against the Tatars."

"I know that, but I am worried that the queen did not prophesy a happy end for that expedition, and everything she prophesy is always fulfilled."

Macko smiled.

"My lady, I cannot deny that, but a mighty number of our knights will go with Prince Witold, good men, against whom nobody can contend."

"You are not going?"
"No, I was sent with the cradle, and for five years I have not taken off my armor," answered Macko, showing the furrows made by the cuirass on his reindeer jacket; "but as soon as I am rested I will go, and if I don’t go myself I will send this young man, my nephew Zbyszko, to Sir Spytko of Melsztyn, under whose command all our knights will go."

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