Thursday, May 22, 2008

1.5.08


Both princesses got frightened and decided to be silent before the queen, but instead to beseech the king until he showed some mercy. The whole court and all the knights sympathized with Zbyszko. Powala of Taczew declared that he would tell the whole truth, but that he would also speak in favor of the young man, because the whole affair was only an instance of childish impetuousness. But everybody could see, and the castellan, Jasko of Tenczyn made it known, that if the Teutonic Knight was unrelenting, then the law, as harsh as it is, must be obeyed.

Therefore the knights were still more indignant against Lichtenstein and they all thought and even said frankly: "He is an envoy and cannot be challenged, but when he returns to Malborg, God will not permit that he die a natural death." They were not talking in vain, because a knight who wore the girdle was not permitted to say even one word without meaning it, and the knight who vowed anything, was obliged to accomplish his vow or perish. Powala was the most implacably angry because he had a beloved daughter of Danusia's age in Taczew, and Danusia's tears made his heart ache.

Consequently, that same day, he went to see Zbyszko, in his underground cell, commanded him to have hope, and told him about the princesses' prayers and about Danusia's tears. Zbyszko having learned that the girl threw herself at the king's feet for his sake, was moved to tears, and wishing to express his gratitude, said, wiping his tears with his hand:

"May God bless her, and permit me as soon as possible to engage in a combat, either on horseback or on foot, for her sake! I did not promise Germans enough to her! To such a lady, I ought to vow as many as she has years. If the Lord Jesus will only release me from this tower, I will not be stingy with her!" He raised his eyes, full of gratitude.

"First promise something to on of the churches," advised the Lord of Taczew; "if your promise is pleasing, you will surely be free soon. Now listen, your uncle went to see Lichtenstein, and I will go see him also. It will be no shame for you to ask his pardon, because you are guilty, and then you do not ask for pardon of Lichtenstein, but an envoy. Are you ready?"

"If such a knight as your grace tells me it is proper, I will do it. But if he requires me to ask him for pardon in the same way he asked us to do it on the road from Tyniec, then let them cut off my head. My uncle will remain and he will avenge me when the envoy's mission has ended."

"We shall hear first what he says to Macko," answered Powala.

And Macko really went to see the German but he returned as gloomy as the night and went directly to the king, to whom he was presented by the castellan himself. The king received Macko kindly because he had been appeased. When Macko kneeled, he immediately told him to arise, asking what he wished.

"Gracious lord," said Macko, "there was an offence, there must be a punishment, otherwise, there would be no law in the world. But I am also guilty because not only did I not try to restrain the natural hotheadedness of that youth but I even praised him for it. It is my fault, gracious king, because I often told him: 'First cut, and then look to see whom you have hurt.' That was right in war, but wrong at the court! But he is a man, pure as gold, the last of our family!"

"He has brought shame upon me and upon my kingdom," said the king, "shall I be gracious to him for that?"

Macko was silent, because grief overwhelmed him; after a long silence, he began to talk in a broken voice:

"I did not know that I loved him so much, I only know it now when misfortune has come. I am old and he is last of the family. If he perishes - we perish! Merciful king and lord, have pity on our family!"

Here Macko kneeled again and stretching out his arms scarred by war, he spoke with tears:

"We defended Wilno, God gave us honest booty, to whom shall I leave it? If the Teutonic Knight requires punishment, let the punishment come, but permit me to receive it. What do I care for life without Zbyszko? He is young, let him redeem the land and have children, as God ordered man to do. The Teutonic Knight will not ask whose head was cut off, if there is one cut. There will be no shame on the family. It is difficult for a man to die; but it is better that one man perishes than a family should be destroyed."

While talking thus he clasped the king's legs, the king began to wink his eyes which was a sign that emotion is taking over. Finally he said:

"It can not be! I cannot condemn to death a belted knight! It cannot be! It cannot be!"

"And there would be no justice in it," added the castellan. "The law will squeeze the guilty one, but it is not a monster, which does not look to see whose blood is being shed. And you must consider what shame would fall on your family, if your nephew agreed to your proposal. It would be considered a disgrace, not only to him, but to his children also."

To this Macko replied:

"He would not agree. But if it were done without his knowledge, he would avenge me, as I will avenge him."

"Well!" said Tenczynski, "persuade the Teutonic Knight to withdraw the complaint."

"I have asked him."

"And what?" asked the king, stretching his neck; "what did he say?"
"He answered me thus: 'You should have asked me for pardon on the road - you did not want to; now I don’t want that.'"

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