Tuesday, June 17, 2008

1.5.10


Therefore Lichtenstein approached him and as if he would like to justify his said:

"The grand master himself could show him clemency but I cannot."

"Your grand master has nothing to do with our laws; our king can show clemency to our people, not he," answered Zawisza.

"I as the envoy was obliged to insist upon punishment."

"Lichtenstein, you were first a knight, afterward an envoy!"

"Do you think that I acted against honor?"

"You know our books of chivalry, and you know that they order us to imitate two animals, the lamb and the lion. Which of the two have you, imitated in this case?"

"You are not my judge!"

"You asked me if you had committed an offence, and I answered as I thought."

"You gave me a hard answer, which I cannot swallow."

"You will be choked by your own malice, not by mine."

"But Christ will put to my account, the fact that I cared more about the dignity of the Order, than about your praise."

"He will judge all of us."

Further conversation was interrupted by the reappearance of the castellan and the secretary. They knew that the sentence would be a severe one, and everyone waited silently. The castellan sat at the table, and, having taken a crucifix in his hand, ordered Zbyszko to kneel.

The secretary began to read the sentence in Latin. It was a sentence of death. When the reading was over, Zbyszko struck himself several times on the chest, repeating; "God be merciful to me, a sinner!"

Then he arose and threw himself in Macko's arms, who began to kiss his head and eyes.

In the evening of the same day, a herald announced at the four corners of the market place with the sound of trumpets, to the knights, guests and burghers assembled, that the noble Zbyszko of Bogdaniec was sentenced by the castellan's court to be decapitated by the sword.

But Macko obtained a delay of the execution; this was readily granted, because in those days they used to allow prisoners plenty of time to dispose of their property, as well as to be reconciled to God. Lichtenstein himself did not wish to insist upon an early execution of the sentence, because he understood, that as long as he obtained
satisfaction for the offended majesty of the Order, it would be bad policy to estrange the powerful monarch, to whom he was sent not only to take part in the solemnity of the christening, but also to attend to the negotiations about the province of Dobrzyn. But the chief reason for the delay was the queen's health. Bishop Wysz did not wish even to hear about the execution before her delivery, rightly thinking, that it would be difficult to conceal such an affair from the lady. She would feel such sorrow and distress that it would be very injurious to her health. For these reasons, they granted Zbyszko several weeks, and perhaps more, of life, to make his final arrangements and to bid his friends farewell.

Macko visited him every day and tried to console him. They spoke sorrowfully about Zbyszko's inevitable death, and still more sorrowfully about the fact that the family would become extinct.

"It cannot be otherwise, you have to get a wife” Zbyszko said once.

"I would prefer to find some distant relative," answered the sorrowful Macko. "How can I think about women, when they are going to behead you. And even if I am obliged to marry, I will not do it, until I send a challenge to Lichtenstein, and avenge your death. Do not fear!"

"God will reward you. I have at least that joy! But I know that you will not forgive him. How will you avenge me?"

"When his duty as an envoy has ended, there may be a war! If there be war, I will send him a challenge for single combat before the battle."

"On the leveled ground?"

"On the leveled ground, on horseback or on foot, but only for death, not for captivity. If there be peace, then I will go to Malborg and will strike the door of the castle gates with my spear, and will order the trumpeter to proclaim that I challenge Kuno to fight until death. He cannot avoid the contest!"

"Surely he will not refuse. And you will defeat him."

"Defeat? I could not defeat Zawisza, Paszko, nor Powala; but without boasting, I can take care of two like him. That scoundrel Tetonic Knight shall see! That Fryzjan knight, was he not stronger? And how I cut him through the helmet, until the axe stopped! Did I not?"

Zbyszko breathed with relief and said:
"I will perish with some consolation."

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