Saturday, August 2, 2008

1.10 (Chap. 10)


The canon of the rectory heard Macko's confession and offered them Hospitality. They remained there over night, and left the next morning. Beyond Olkusk, they turned toward Silesia and along its boundaries, they intended to ride toward Greater Poland. The road was laid out through a large forest, in which there was heard toward sunset the roaring of animals, and during the night the eyes of wolves were seen shining behind the thick hazelnut trees. But the greatest danger, which threatened the traveler on this road, was from the German and Germanized knights of Silesia, whose castles were erected here and there, near the boundaries. Although during the last war, in which the Silesians were helping against King Wladyslaw, the majority of these castles had been destroyed by Polish armies it was necessary to be watchful, especially after sunset, and to have one's weapons ready.

The ride was so uneventful that Zbyszko found the journey tedious, but when they were about one day's journey from Bogdaniec, they heard the snorting and trampling of horses behind them.

"Some people are following us," said Zbyszko.

Macko, who was awake, looked at the stars and answered like an experienced traveler:

"Daybreak is near. Robbers do not attack toward the end of the night."

Zbyszko stopped the wagon, placed the men across the road, facing the advancing horses, and waited.

After some time he saw in the dusk, several horsemen. One of them was riding ahead, and it was evident that he did not wish to hide, because he was singing. Zbyszko could not hear the words of the song, but the word "hoc! hoc!" with which the stranger ended each refrain, reached his ears.

"Our people!" he said to himself.

After a while he shouted, however:

"Stop!"

"And you sit down!" answered a joyous voice.

"Who are you?"

"And you?"

"Why do you follow us?"

"And why do you obstruct the road?"

"Answer, our crossbows are ready."

"And ours are not, shoot!"

"Answer like a man, otherwise woe to you!"

To this a merry song was given, as an answer to Zbyszko.

"One misery with another
They are dancing on the crossway.
Hoc! Hoc! Hoc!
What use have they of dancing?
It's a good thing, anyhow.
Hoc! Hoc! Hoc!"

Zbyszko was amazed at hearing such an answer; meantime, the song stopped and the same voice asked:

"And how is the old man Macko? Does he still breathe?"

Macko rose in the wagon and said:

"For God's sake, they are some of our people!"

Zbyszko went forward.

"Who asks about Macko?"

"A neighbor. Zych of Zgorzelice. I have looked for you for a week and inquired about you from all on the road."

"O my! Uncle! Zych of Zgorzelice is here!" shouted Zbyszko.

They began to greet each other joyfully because Zych was really their neighbor, and also a good man of whom everybody was very fond because of his humor.

"Well, how are you?" he asked, shaking hands with Macko. "Still ‘hoc’, or no more ‘hoc’!"

"Hey, no more ‘hoc’!" answered Macko. "But I see you gladly. Gracious God, it is as if I were already in Bogdaniec."

"What is the matter with you; I heard that the Germans had wounded you?"

"They did, those dogs! I have a head of a spear stuck between my ribs."

“O, God!. You should have some bear grease.”

"You see!" said Zbyszko, "everybody advises that. As soon as we reach Bogdaniec, I will go with an axe to the woods."

"Perhaps Jagienka has some."

"What Jagienka? Your wife's name was Malgochna," said Macko.

"O! Malgochna is no more! It will be three years on St. Michael's day since Malgochna was buried. She was a hard woman, Lord shine some light upon her soul! Jagienka is exactly like her, only younger."

"Behind a ravine, there is a mount,
As was mother, such is daughter.
Hoc! Hoc!"

"I told Malgochna not to climb the pine tree at her fifties. But she climbed it anyway. The branch broke, she fell and was badly hurt. Within three days, she died."
"Lord, shine some light upon her soul!" said Macko. "I remember, I remember! When she was angry, the farm boys used to hide in the hay. But she was clever. So she fell from a pine tree?"

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