Sunday, April 13, 2008


"Not true! You calculated well talking about the Tatars! However, you have forgotten what the Russians told us, that it is difficult to catch any prisoners among the Tatars, because you can’t catch a Tartar on the steppes. On what will I chase them? On those heavy stallions that we captured from the Germans? Don’t you see? And what booty can I take? Scabby sheep-skin coats but nothing else! How rich then I shall return to Bogdaniec! Then they will call me knave!"

Macko was silent because there was a great deal of truth in Zbyszko's words; but after a while he said:

"But Prince Witold will reward you."

"Well, as you know, to some he gives too much, to others, nothing."

"Then tell me, where will you go?"

"To Jurand of Spychow."

Macko angrily twisted the belt of his leather jacket, and said:

"May you go blind!"

"Listen," answered Zbyszko quietly. "I had a talk with Mikolaj of Dlugolas and he said that Jurand is seeking revenge on the Germans for the death of his wife. I will go and help him. In the first place, you said yourself that it was nothing strange for us to fight the Germans because we know them and their ways so well. Second, I will more easily capture those peacock's crests there; and third, you know that knaves do not wear peacock’s crests; therefore if the Lord Jesus will help me to secure the crests, it will also bring booty. Finally: the slaves from those parts are not like the Tatars. You settle them in a forest, and you will not regret it."

"Man, are you crazy? There is no war at present and God knows when there will be!"

"How clever you are! The bears make peace with the beekeepers and they neither spoil the beehives, nor eat the honey! Ha! Ha! Then it is news to you, that although the great armies are not fighting and although the king and the grand master stamped the parchment with their seals, still there is always great disturbance on the frontiers? The cattle are seized; they burn several villages for one cow's head and besiege the castles. How about capturing peasants and their girls? How about merchants on the highways? Remember old times, about which you told me yourself. That Nalencz, who captured forty knights going to join the Knights of the Cross, and kept them in prison until the grand master sent him a cart full of silver coins, did he not do a good business? Jurand of Spychow is doing the same and on the frontier the work is always ready."

For a while they walked along silently; in the meanwhile, it was broad daylight and the bright rays of the sun lighted up the rocks on which the abbey was built.

"God can help in any place," Macko said, finally, with a calm voice; "pray that he may bless you."

"Sure, all depends on his favor!"

"And think about Bogdaniec, because you cannot persuade me that you go to Jurand of Spychow for the sake of Bogdaniec and not for that duck's beak."

"Don't speak that way, because it makes me angry. I will see her gladly and I do not deny it. Have you ever met a prettier girl?"

"What do I care for her beauty? Better marry her, when she is grown up; she is the daughter of a mighty warlord."

Zbyszko's face brightened with a pleasant smile.

"It may be. No other lady, no other wife! When your bones are old, you shall play with the grandchildren born to her and myself."

Now Macko smiled too and said:

"May they be as numerous as hail. When one is old, they are his joy; and after death, his salvation. Jesus, grant us this!"

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