Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Zbyszko was entirely forgotten. Who in the time of such tragedy could remember about the noble lad or about his imprisonment in the castle? Zbyszko had heard, however, from the guards, about the queen's illness. He had heard the noise of the people around the castle; when he heard their weeping and the tolling of the bells, he dropped on his knees, and having forgotten about his own lot, began to mourn the death of the worshipped lady. It seemed to him, that with her, something died within him and that after her death, there was nothing worth living for in this world.

For several weeks he could hear the sounds of the funeral: the church bells, the processional songs and the lamenting of the crowd. During that time, he grew gloomier, lost his appetite, could not sleep and walked in his underground cell like a wild beast in a cage. He suffered solitude; there were often days during which the jailer did not bring him food nor water. So much was everybody engaged with the queen's funeral, that after her death nobody came to see him: neither the duchess, nor Danusia, nor Powala of Taczew. Zbyszko thought with bitterness, that as soon as Macko left the city, everybody forgot about him. Sometimes he thought that perhaps the law would forget about him too, and that he would stay in prison till death. Then he prayed for death.

Finally, when after the queen's funeral one month passed, and the second commenced, he began to doubt if Macko would ever return. Macko had promised to ride quickly and not to spare his horse. Marienburg was not at the other end of the world. One could reach it and return in twelve weeks, especially if one were in haste. "But perhaps he was not in a hurry!" thought Zbyszko bitterly, "perhaps he has found some woman whom he will gladly bring to Bogdaniec, and start his own family while I must wait here forever for God's mercy."

Finally he lost all sense of time, and stopped talking to his guards. Only by a growing spider web thickly covering the iron grating of the window, did he know that fall was coming. For hours he sat on his cell bed, his elbows resting on his knees, his fingers in his long hair. Half dreaming and stiff, he did not raise his head even when the warden brought him food, spoke to him. But at last one day the bolts of the door creaked, and a familiar voice called him from the threshold:

"Uncle!" exclaimed Zbyszko, rushing from the bed.

Macko seized him in his arms, and began to kiss his fair head. Grief, bitterness and loneliness had so filled the heart of the youth, that he began to cry on his uncle's breast like a little child.

"I thought you would never come back," said he, sobbing.

"That came near being true," answered Macko.

Now Zbyszko raised his head and looking at him, exclaimed:

"What happened to you?"

He looked with amazement at the emaciated and pallid face of the old warrior, at his bent figure and his gray hair.

"What happened to you?" he repeated.

Macko sat on the bed and for a while breathed heavily.

"What happened?" said he, finally. "Hardly had I passed the frontier, before the Germans whom I met in the forest, shot me with a crossbow. Robbers, you know! I cannot breathe! God sent me help, otherwise you would not see me here."

"Who rescued you?"

"Jurand of Spychow," answered Macko.

There was a moment of silence.

"They attacked me, but half a day later he attacked them and hardly half of them escaped. He took me with him to the fort and then to Spychow. I fought with death for three weeks. God did not let me die and although I am not well yet, I have returned."

"Then you have not been in Malborg?"
"How would I get there? They robbed me of everything and they took the letter with the other things. I returned to ask Duchess for another, but I missed her, and whether I will see her or not, I do not know. I must prepare for the journey to the other world!"

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