Thursday, July 17, 2008

1.7 (Chap. 7)

In merchant Amylej's house, Macko and Zbyszko were discussing what to do. The old knight expected to die soon, and since Father Cybek, a Franciscan friar who had experience in treating wounds, predicted the same, therefore he wanted to return to Bogdaniec to die and be buried beside his forefathers in the cemetery in Ostrow.

But not all of his forefathers were buried there. It used to be a large clan. In times of wars their war cry was: "Grady!" On their shields they had a right to carry a coat of arms, the Tempa Podkowa (Dull Horseshoe). In 1331, in the battle of Plowce, seventy warriors from Bogdaniec were killed in the marshes by German archers. Only one Wojciech, called Tur, escaped. After this defeat by the Germans, the king, Wladyslaw Lokietek, granted him a coat of arms and the estate of Bogdaniec as a special privilege. Wojciech returned home, only to discover the complete annihilation of his family.

While the men of Bogdaniec were perishing from German arrows, the knights-robbers of Silesia fell upon their homes, burned their buildings, and slaughtered or took into slavery the peasants. Wojciech remained alone, the heir of a large but devastated tract of land, which formerly belonged to the whole family. Five years afterward he married and had two sons, Jasko and Macko. Soon afterward he was killed in a forest by an urus.

The sons grew up under the mother's care. She conducted two successful expeditions against the Germans of Silesia to avenge former wrongs, but in the third expedition she was killed. When Jasko became of age, he got married and had a son, Zbyszko. Macko remained unmarried. He took care of his nephew's property as far as his war expeditions permitted.

But when during the civil war, Bogdaniec was again burned and the peasants scattered, Macko could not restore it, although he toiled for several years. Finally he pledged the land to his relative, the abbot, and with Zbyszko who was small, he went to Lithuania to fight against the Germans.

But he had never forgotten about Bogdaniec. He went to Lithuania hoping to become rich from booty so as to return to Bogdaniec, redeem the land from his pledge, colonize it with slaves, rebuild the fort and settle Zbyszko on it. Therefore now, after Zbyszko's lucky deliverance, they were discussing this matter at the house of the merchant, Amylej.

They had enough money to redeem their land. From the booty and the ransoms paid by the knights captured by them, and from Witold's presents they had small fortune. The fight to death with the two Frisian knights brought them a big booty. The suits of armor alone were worth what was considered in those times quite a fortune; beside the armor, they had captured wagons, people, clothes, money and rich implements of war. The merchant had just purchased many of these things, and among them two pieces of beautiful Flemish broadcloth. Macko sold the splendid armor, because he thought that he would have no use for it. The merchant sold it the next day to Marcin of Wrocimowice for a large sum, because in those times the suits of armor made in Milan were considered the best in the world and were expensive. Zbyszko was sorry that they sold it.

"If God give you back your health," said he, to his uncle, "where will you find another like it?"

"There, where I found this one, on some German," answered Macko. "But this time I will not escape death. The head of the spear split between my ribs and will not come out. Every time took hold of it and tried to pull it out with my fingernail, I pushed it in further. And now there is no help."

"You must drink two or three pots of bear's grease."

"Yea! Father Cybek also said that would be a good thing. But where can I get it? In Bogdaniec one could very easily kill a bear!"

"Then we must go to Bogdaniec! Only you must not die on the road."

Old Macko looked at his nephew with tenderness.

"I know where you would like to go; to the Duke Janusz's court, or to Jurand of Spychow, and fight the Germans."

"I will not deny it. I would be glad to go to Warsaw with the duchess' court, or to go to Ciechanow; and I would stay as long as possible with Danusia, because now she is not only my lady, but my love also. I tremble when I think of her! I shall follow her even to the end of the world, but you are my first responsibility. You did not abandon me; therefore I will never abandon you. If we must go to Bogdaniec then we go to Bogdaniec."

"You are a good man," said Macko.

"God would punish me, if I were not mindful of you. Look, they are getting ready! I ordered one wagon to be filled with hay. Amylej's wife has made for you a feather bed, but I am afraid it will be too warm for you. We will travel slowly, with the duchess' court, so that you may have good care. Then they turn toward Masovia, and we will turn toward home; may God be with us!"

"If I can only live long enough to rebuild the fort!" exclaimed Macko. "I know that after my death, you will not think about Bogdaniec."

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