Sunday, August 3, 2008


And truly, daylight was coming. After awhile they arrived at a large glade where it was already bright. On the lake covering the greater part of the glade, some people were fishing, but seeing the armed men, they left their nets and immediately seized their picks and staffs and stood ready for battle.

"They think we are robbers," said Zych, laughing. "Hey, fishermen! Who do you serve?"

They stood for a while silently, looking distrustfully; but finally one of them having recognized that they were knights, answered:

"To the priest, the abbot of Tulcza."

"Our relative," said Macko, "the same who holds Bogdaniec in pledge. These must be his forests; but he must have purchased them a short time ago."

"He did not buy them," answered Zych. "He was fighting for them with Wilk of Brzozowa and it seems that the abbot defeated Wilk. A year ago they were going to fight on horseback with spears and long swords for this part of the forest, but I do not know how it ended because I left."

"Well, we are relatives," said Macko, "he will not quarrel with us."

"Perhaps, if you are friendly with him he will share with you. He is a chivalrous abbot who knows how to wear a helmet; but he is pious and he celebrates the mass beautifully. Don't you remember? When he shouts at mass, the swallows nested under the ceiling, fall from their nests.”

"Certainly I remember! From ten steps away he could blow the candles at the altar out. Has he been in Bogdaniec?"

"Yes, he was there. He settled five peasants on the land. He has also been at my house, because, as you know, he baptized Jagienka, of whom he is very fond and calls her little daughter."

"God will bless him if he be willing to leave me the peasants," said Macko.

"Five peasants for such a rich man mean nothing! Then, if Jagienka will ask him, he will not refuse."

Here the conversation stopped for a while, because over the dark forest the bright sun had risen and lighted the environs. The knights greeted it with the customary: "May it be blessed!" and then after making the sign of the cross, they began their morning prayers.

Zych finished first and said to his companions:

"Now I can see you well. Hey! You have both changed. You, Macko, must regain your health. Jagienka will take care of you, because there is no woman in your house. I can see that you have something between your ribs."

Here he turned toward Zbyszko:

"Now, let me look at you. Well, mighty God! I remember you when you were small and used to climb onto the colts (young horses), and now, what a knight! The face looks like that of a little lord, but the body like that of a sturdy man. Such can wrestle even with a bear."

"A bear is nothing for him!" said Macko. "When he was younger, some Fryzjan called him a beardless youth; and he resenting it, immediately pulled out the Fryzjan's mustache."

"I know," interrupted Zych, "and you fought afterward, and captured their retinue. Lord of Taczew told me all about it:"

"There came a German very proud,
He was buried with sore snout;
Hoc! Hoc!"

Zbyszko wondered at Zych's long thin figure, at his thin face with its enormous nose and at his laughing round eyes.

"O!" said he, "with such a neighbor there will be no sadness, if God only restore my uncle's health."

"It is good to have a joyful neighbor, because with a jolly fellow there will be no quarrel," answered Zych. "Now listen to what I tell you as a neighbor and christian. You have been away from home a long time, and you will not find much comfort in Bogdaniec. The abbot has taken care of the farm; he cut down up a large piece of the forest and settled new peasants. But as he didn’t visit very often, you will find the storage empty; even in the house, there is hardly a bench or a bunch of straw to sleep on; and a sick man needs some comforts. You had better come with me to Zgorzelice. I will be glad to have you stay a month or two. During that time, Jagienka will take care of Bogdaniec. Rely on her and do not bother yourselves with anything. Zbyszko can go there, from time to time, to inspect the farming; I will bring the abbot to Zgorzelice, and you can settle your account with him. The girl will take good care of you, as of a father, and during illness, a woman's care is the best. Well, my dear friends, will you do as I ask you?"

"We know that you are a good man and you always were," answered Macko with emotion; "but don't you see, if I must die from this wound, I prefer to die in my own home. Also, when one is home, although he is old or sick, he can inspect and fix many things. If God orders me to go to the other world, well, then I cannot help it! I cannot escape it even with better care. As for inconvenience, we are accustomed to that at the war. Even a bunch of straw is pleasant to those who, for many years slept on the bare ground. But I thank you for your kind heart and if I will not be able to show you my gratitude, God will permit Zbyszko to do it."

Zych of Zgorzelice, who was noted for his kind heart and readiness to oblige, began to insist: but Macko was firm: "If I must die, it will be better to die in my own courtyard!"

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