Saturday, April 5, 2008


"Who is he?" asked one of the monks.

"He is a nephew of that knight,” answered the duchess, pointing to Macko; "he has just made a vow to Danusia."

The monks did not show any surprise, because such a vow did not bind him to anything. Often vows were made to married women, and among the powerful families where the western custom was known; almost every woman had a knight. If a knight made a vow to a young girl, he did not automatically become her fiancé, on the contrary he usually married another, he was faithful to his vow, but did not hope to be wedded to her, but to marry another.

The monks were little surprised about Danusia's youth, but not much, because in those times sixteen year old youths used to be governors. The great Queen Jadwiga herself, when she came from Hungary, was only fifteen years old, and thirteen year old girls used to marry. At any rate, at that moment they were more occupied looking at Zbyszko than at Danusia and listening to Macko's who, being proud of his nephew, was telling how he came in possession of such beautiful clothes.

"Over one year ago we were invited by the Saxon knights. There was another guest, a certain knight, from a far Frysian nation, who lived there on the shores of a sea. With him was his son who was three years older than Zbyszko. Once at a banquet, that son began to taunt Zbyszko because he had neither moustache nor beard. Zbyszko being hot tempered, was very angry, and immediately seized him by his moustache, and pulled out all the hair. Because of that we afterward fought to death or slavery."

"What do you mean?" asked the man from Dlugolas.

"Because the father took his son's side and I took Zbyszko's side, therefore we fought, in the presence of the guests, on level ground. The agreement was, that the one who conquered, should take the wagons, horses, servants and everything that belonged to the vanquished one. With God’s will we killed those Frysians, although with great labor, because they were brave and strong. We took much valuable booty; there were four wagons, each one drawn by two horses, four enormous stallions, ten servants, and two excellent suits of armor, which are difficult to find. It is true we broke the helmets in the fight, but the Lord Jesus rewarded us with something else; there was a large chest of costly clothing; those in which Zbyszko is now dressed, we found there also."

Now the two noblemen from Krakow, and all the Msovians began to look with more respect at both the uncle and the nephew, and Mikolaj of Dlugolas said:

"I see you are quick and ferocious guys."

"We now believe that this youngster will capture those peacock's crests."

Macko laughed, but on his tough face really appeared a fierce expression.

In the meanwhile, the servants from the monastery had taken the wine and the dainties from the willow baskets, and the servant girls were bringing large dishes full of scrambled eggs and sausage, from which a strong and savory smell filled the whole room. This sight made everybody's appetite rise, and they rushed to the tables.

But nobody sat down until the duchess was seated at the head of the table. She told Zbyszko and Danusia to sit opposite her and then said to Zbyszko:

"It is right for you to eat from one dish, but do not step on her feet under the table, nor touch her with your knees, as the other knights do to their ladies, because she is too young."

To this he answered:

"I shall not do that, my lady, for another two or three years, until the Lord Jesus permits me to accomplish my vow, and then this little berry will be ripe; as for stepping on her feet, even if I wanted to, I can not, because they do not touch the floor."

"True," answered the duchess. "But it is good to see that you have good manners."

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