Monday, August 4, 2008

1.10.4

He had longed to see Bogdaniec for several years, therefore now, when he was so close, he had to go there, even if it meant that it would be his last night. Anyway, God was merciful to let him comeback.

With his fists he brushed away the tears gathered under his eyelids, looked around and said:

"If these are the woods of Wilk of Brzozowa we will be home this afternoon."

"They do not belong to Wilk of Bizozowa any longer; but to the abbot," said Zych.

Macko smiled and said after awhile:

"If they belong to the abbot, then sometime, they may belong to us."

"Ha! Just while ago you were talking about death," said Zych joyfully, "and now you wish to outlive the abbot."

"No, I will not outlive him; but Zbyszko may."

Further conversation was interrupted by the sound of horns in the forest. Zych stopped his horse and began to listen.

"Somebody is hunting," said he. "Wait."

"Perhaps it is the abbot. It would be pleasant to meet him here."

"Keep quiet!"

Here be turned to his retinue.

"Stop!"

They halted. The horns resounded nearer, and soon afterward the baying of dogs was heard.

"Stop!" repeated Zych. "They are coming toward us."

Zbyszko jumped from his horse and began to shout:

"Give me the crossbow! Maybe a game will come toward us! Harry! Harry!"

Seizing the crossbow from the servant's hands, he rested it against the ground, pressed it against his abdomen, bent, stretched his back like a bow, seized the string with the fingers of both hands, he pulled it on to the iron hook; then placed an arrow and sprang into the woods.

"He stretched it without a crank!" whispered Zych, astonished at such strength.

"Yes, he is a strong boy!" answered Macko, proudly.

Meanwhile, the sound of horns and the barking of dogs got closer. All at once, at the right side of the forest, a heavy trampling resounded, accompanied by the crackling of broken branches and bushes--then out of the thicket rushed an old urus, with his huge head lowered, with bloody eyes and panting tongue, breathless and dangerous. Coming to a small ravine, he leaped it, fell from impact on his forelegs but immediately arose, and a few seconds later he would have disappeared in the thicket on the other side of the road, when the whistling of the arrow resounded, the beast reared, turned, roared dreadfully and fell on the ground as if he were struck by a thunderbolt.

Zbyszko leaped from behind a tree, again stretched the crossbow, and approached the bull that was pawing the ground with its hind legs. After glancing at it, he turned quietly toward the retinue, and began to shout:

"It got hit so hard it soiled itself!"

"Damn you!" said Zych, riding toward him, "with just one arrow!"

"Yea, it was close, and it run fast. Come and see, not only the iron, but even the shaft has disappeared under the left shoulder bone."

"The hunters must be near, they will claim the beast."

"I will not give it to them!" answered Zbyszko. "It was killed on the road, and the road is not private property."

"But if it belong to the abbot?"

"Well, then he may have it."

Meanwhile, several dogs came out of the forest. Seeing the animal, they rushed on it.

"Soon the huntsmen will appear" said Zych. "Look! There they are, but they do not see the beast yet. Stop! Stop! Here, here! Killed! Killed!"

Then he became silent, and sheltered his eyes with one hand; after a while, he said:

"For God's sake! what has happened? Have I become blind, or does it only seem so to me?"

"There is some one on a piebald horse in the front," said Zbyszko.

Then Zych exclaimed at once:

"Dear Jesus! It must be Jagienka!"

And he began to shout:

"Jagna! Jagna!"

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