Monday, May 12, 2008


Zbyszko looked at those knights with admiration and envy, but his attention was mainly focused on the king, who every once in a while gathered his hair with his fingers and pushed it behind his ears as if impatient because breakfast was not served yet. King’s rested for a moment on Zbyszko, and the young knight felt fear, he thought that he certainly would have to face the angry king. This was the first time he had thought seriously about the consequences of his rash action. Until now it had seemed to him to be something remote, unworthy his attention.

The German did not know that that youth who dad attacked him so boldly on the highway, was so near. The breakfast began. In the meanwhile the jester, sitting on a chair in the doorway, began to imitate the singing of a nightingale, of which the king was very fond. Then another jester went around the table, stopped behind the guests and imitated the buzzing of a bee so well, that some of them began wave their arms to protect their necks.

Seeing this, the others burst with laughter. Zbyszko had served the princess and Danusia diligently, but when Lichtenstein began to clap his balding head, he again forgot about his danger and began to laugh until he had tears in his eyes.

The Teutonic Knight having finally noticed his mistake, put his hand in his pocket, and turning to the bishop, said few words in German which bishop immediately translated.

"This noble lord says to you," said bishop, turning toward the jester, "that you will receive two coins but do not buzz too close, because the bees are driven away, but the drones are killed."

The jester took the two coins given to him by the Knight, and taking advantage of freedom granted at all courts to the men of his profession, answered:

"There is plenty of honey in the northern province of Dobrzyn and that is why it is beset with the drones. Drive them away my King!"

"Here is a coin from me, because you have said a clever thing," said bishop, "but remember that if the rope break, the beehive keeper breaks his neck. Those drones from Malborg, by whom Dobrzyn is beset, have stings, and it is dangerous to climb to the beehives."

"Well!" exclaimed Zyndram of Maszkow, the sword bearer of Krakow, "one can smoke them out!"

"With what?"

"With powder."

"Or cut the beehive with an axe," added the giant man, Paszko of Biskupice.

Zbyszko's heart was ready to leap with joy, because he thought that such words meant war. Kuno von Lichtenstein understood what was said, because during his long stay in Torun and Chelmno, he learned Polish language but was to proud to use it. But now, being irritated by the words of Zyndram of Maszkow, he looked at him sharply with his grey eyes and said:

"We shall see."

"Our fathers saw at Plowce and we saw at Wilno," answered Zyndram.

"Pax vobiscum!" exclaimed Kropidlo. "Peace, peace! If only the priest Mikolaj of Kurow will give up his Kujawian bishopric and the gracious king appoint me in his place, I will preach you such a beautiful sermon about the love between Christian nations, that you will completely repent. Hatred is nothing but a sin and deadly sin at that, such a dreadful fire that one cannot extinguish it with water, but is obliged to pour wine on it. Give us some wine!"

"And then we go to hell, the devil says," added the jester.

"Let him take you!"

"It would be more amusing for him to take you. They have not yet seen the devil with Sprinkler, but I think we shall all have that pleasure."

"I will sprinkle you first. Give us some wine and may love blossom among the Christians!"

"Among true Christians!" added Kuno von Lichtenstein, emphatically.

"What?" exclaimed the Bishop of Krakow, raising his head, "are you not in an old Christian kingdom? Are not our churches older than yours in Malborg?"

"I don't know," answered the Teutonic Knight.

The king was especially sensitive where any question about Christianity arose. It seemed to him that the Teutonic Knight made an allusion to him, therefore his cheeks flamed immediately and his eyes began to shine.

"What!" said he, in a deep voice, "am I not a Christian king?"

"The kingdom calls itself a Christian," coolly answered the Teutonic Knight; "but its customs are pagan."

At this many angry knights arose, many of them powerful and famous knights, victorious in many battles and in many tournaments. Alternately blushing and turning pale from anger, gnashing their teeth, they began to shout:

"Too bad! He is our guest so we cannot challenge him!"

Black Zawisha, the most famous among the famous, "the model of knighthood," turned to Lichtenstein with a frown on his forehead and said:

"I do not recognize you, Kuno. How can you, a knight, insult a mighty nation, when you know that, being an envoy, you cannot be punished for it?"

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