Monday, April 14, 2008

CHAPTER 3 (1.3.01)

Dutchess Danuta, Macko and Zbyszko had been in Tyniec before, but in the train of attendants there were some courtiers who saw it for the first time and they admired the magnificent abbey which was surrounded by high walls built over the rocks and precipices, and stood on a lofty mountain now shining in the golden rays of the rising sun. The stately walls and the buildings devoted to various purposes, the gardens situated at the foot of the mountain and the carefully cultivated fields, showed immediately the great wealth of the abbey. The people from poor Masovia unaccustomed to such riches were amazed. It is true there were other mighty Benedictine abbeys in other parts of the country; as for instance in Lubusz on the Odra river, in Plock, in Greater Poland, in Mogilno and in several other places, but none of them could compare with the abbey in Tyniec, which was richer than many principalities, and had an income that made kings jealous.

Therefore the astonishment was rising among the courtiers and some of them could scarcely believe their own eyes. In the meanwhile, the duchess wishing to make the journey pleasant, and to interest the young ladies, begged one of the monks to relate the awful story about Walter Wdaly which had been told to her in Krakow, although not completely.

Hearing this, the ladies surrounded the duchess and walked slowly up the hill with her, in the rays of the early morning sun.

"Let Brother Hidulf tell us about Walter, who appeared to him one night," said one of the monks looking at another one who was an old man.

"Pious father, have you seen him with your own eyes?" asked the duchess.

"I have seen him," answered the monk gloomily, "there are certain moments during which, by God's will, he is permitted to leave the underground regions of hell and show himself to the world."

"When does it happen?"

The old monk looked at the other monks and became silent. There was a tradition that the ghost of Walter appeared when the morals of the monastic lives became corrupted, and when the monks thought more about worldly riches and pleasures than it was appropriate.

None of them, however, wished to tell this, but it was also said that the ghost's appearance portended war or some other calamity. Brother Hidulf, after a short silence, said:

"His appearance does not foretell any good fortune."

"I would not care to see him," said the duchess, making the sign of the cross; "but why is he in hell, if it is true as I heard, that he only avenged a wrong?"

"Had he been virtuous during his whole life," said the monk sternly, "he would be damned just the same because he was a pagan, and original sin was not washed out by baptism."

After those words the duchess' brows contracted painfully because she recollected that her father whom she loved dearly, had also died as pagan.

"We are listening," she said after a short silence.

Brother Hidulf began a tale:
During the time of paganism, there was a mighty count whose name was Walter, whom on account of his good looks, they called Wdaly. This whole country, as far as one can see, belonged to him, and when he led the expeditions besides the foot soldiers he also had a hundred heavy cavalry who were all nobles; the noblemen to the east as far as Opole, and to the west as far as Sandomierz, were all his vassals. Nobody was able to count his herds, and in Tyniec he had a tower full of money the same as the Knights of the Cross have now in Marienburg."

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