Sunday, August 3, 2008


"She fell down like a pine cone. What a loss. Do you know, after the funeral I was so stupefied with grief, that for three days they could not wake me up. They thought I was dead. Afterward, I wept for a long time. But Jagienka takes care of a house. She takes care of everything."

"I can scarcely remember her. She was not as large as the helve of an axe when I went away. She could pass under a horse without touching its body. Yea! That was long time ago, and she must have grown."

"She is fifteen, but I have not seen her for more than a year."

"Why have you not seen her? Where have you been?"

"To the war. I do not need to stay home; Jagienka takes care of everything."

Macko, although ill, began to listen attentively when the war was mentioned, and asked:

"Were you with Duke Witold at Worskla?"

"Yes, I was there," answered Zych of Zgorzelice gaily. "Well, the Lord God did not send him good luck; we were dreadfully defeated by Edyga. First they killed our horses. A Tatar will not attack you openly like a Christian knight, but throws his arrows from afar. You attack him and he flees, and then again throws his arrows. What can you do with such a man? In our army the knights boasted and said: 'We do not need to lower our spears, nor draw our swords; we will crush the vermin under our horses' feet.' So they boasted, but when the arrows began to fly, it grew dark they were so numerous, and the battle was soon over. Hardly one out of ten survived. Will you believe it? More than half of the army were slain; seventy Lithuanian and Russian princes lay dead on the battlefield. So many courtiers were killed that one could not count in two weeks' time."

"I heard about it," interrupted Macko. "Many of our knights perished also."

"Yea! Even ten Knights of the Cross were killed, because they were obliged to serve in Witold's army. Many of our people perished, because they, you know, never run away. Duke Witold had the greatest confidence in our knights and he wanted a guard of them round him during the battle, exclusively Poles. Well, great havoc was made among them, but he was not touched! Lord Spytko of Mielsztyn was killed, also the sword bearer, Bernat, Judge Mikolaj, Prokop, Przeclaw, Dobrogost, Jasko of Lazewice, Pilik Mazur, Warsz of Michow, _Wojewoda_ Socha, Jasko of Dombrowa, Pietrko of Miloslaw, Szczepiecki, Oderski and Tomko Lagoda. Who can count all of them! Some of them had been hit with so many arrows, that after death they looked like porcupines; it was awful to look at them!"

Here he laughed as if he were telling a most amusing story, and at once he began to sing:

"You have learned what is a Tatar,
When he beat you and flew afar!"

"Well, and what then?" asked Zbyszko.

"Then the grand duke escaped, but he was as courageous as he usually is. So, we rushed to the Tavanian Crossing to stop those crossing the river. Some more knights from Poland arrived. The next day, Edyga came with a swarm of Tatars, but he could not do a thing anymore. Hey it was fun! Any time he wanted to cross, we punch him hard. No way he could cross. We killed many of the and even captured quite a few. I myself caught five and I am bringing them to Zgorzelice. In the daylight you will see what dog faces they have."

"In Krakow, they say that the war may reach Kingdom too."

"Is Edyga a fool? He saw well what kind of knights we have and knew that the greatest knights stayed home, because the queen was not pleased that Witold starts wars on his own authority. Hey, he is cunning, that old Edyga! He saw right away at Tavania that the prince's army had increased and had gone away, far beyond the tenth land!"

"And you returned?"

"Yes, I returned. There is nothing to do there. In Krakow I heard about you, and that you had started a little ahead of me."

Here he turned to Zbyszko:

"Dear Lord, the last time I saw you, you were a small boy, and now, although there is no light, I suppose you are large like an urus. And you were ready to use crossbows! One can see you have been in the war."

"War has nurtured me since childhood. Let my uncle tell you if I am lacking in experience."

"It is not necessary for your uncle to tell me anything; in Krakow, I saw the Lord of Taczew who told me about you. But I understand that the Mazur does not want to give you his daughter. I would not be so stubborn because I like you. You will forget about that one when you see my Jagienka. She is a wonder!"

"I shall not forget, even if I see ten such as your Jagna."

"She will get the estate of Moczydoly for her dowry. Many will ask me for Jagna, do not fear?"

Zbyszko wanted to answer: "But not me!" But Zych of Zgorzelice began to sing:

"I will bend to your knees
And you for that, will give me the girl,
Give me the girl!"

"You are always happy and singing," said Macko.

"Well, and what do the blessed do in heaven."

"They sing."

"Well, then! And the damned cry. I prefer to go to those who sing rather than to those who cry; and St. Peter will say thus: 'We must let him into paradise; otherwise he will sing in hell, and that will not be right.' Look, the day breaks!"

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