Saturday, August 9, 2008

1.11.2


Here Jagienka began to look round, and Macko having noticed it, smiled and asked:

"Whom are you looking for?"

"I am not looking for anyone!"

"I will send Zbyszko to thank you and your father. How do you find Zbyszko?"

"I have not looked at him."

"Then take a good look at him now, because he is coming."

In fact Zbyszko was coming from water trough. He was dressed in a reindeer jacket and round felt cap like those worn under the helmets. His hair was without a net, cut evenly over his eyebrows and hung in golden curls on his shoulders; he walked swiftly, he was tall and graceful, looking like the shield-bearer of a rich nobleman.

Jagienka turned toward Macko to show that she came only to see him, but Zbyszko welcomed her joyfully, and having taken hold of her hand, raised it to his mouth, despite her resistance.

"Why do you kiss my hand?" asked she. "Am I a priest?"

"Don’t resist, such is the custom."

"Even if he had kissed both your hands," said Macko, "it would not be enough for all that you have brought us."

"What have you brought?" asked Zbyszko, looking around the courtyard; but he did not see anything except the black horse tied to the post.

"The wagons have not come yet, they will be here soon" answered Jagienka.

Macko began to enumerate what she had brought; but when he mentioned the two beddings, Zbyszko said:

"I am satisfied to sleep on the urus' skin but thank you for thinking about me too."

"It wasn’t me, it was Dad" answered the girl, blushing. "But if you prefer to sleep on the skin, suit yourself."

"I prefer to sleep on what I can. Sometimes after a battle, I slept with a dead Tetonic Knight instead of a pillow under my head."

"You do not mean to tell me that you have ever killed a Tetonic Knight? I am sure you have not."

Zbyszko, instead of answering, began to laugh. Macko answered instead:

"For heaven's sake, girl, you do not know him! He has never done anything else, but kill the Germans. He can fight with an axe, a spear or with any weapon; and when he sees a German from afar, one must tie him with a rope, or else he will attack him. In Krakow he wanted to kill the envoy, Lichtenstein, and for that he barely escaped execution. Such a man he is! I will also tell you about the two Fryzes, from whom we took their retinues and so much rich booty, that one could redeem Bogdaniec with half of it."

Here Macko began to tell about his duel with the Fryzes, then about other adventures which had happened to them, and about the deeds they had performed. How they had fought from behind the walls and in the open fields, with the greatest knights living in foreign lands; how they had fought Germans, Frenchmen, Englishmen and Burgundians. He also told her what they had seen! They had seen German castles of red brick, Lithuanian wooden fortresses and churches, more beautiful than one could see around Bogdaniec; also large cities and the dreadful wilderness in which during the nights Lithuanian gods cried, and many different, marvelous things; and everywhere, in any fight, Zbyszko was always in front, so that even the greatest knights were astonished at him.

Jagienka, who was sitting on the log beside Macko, listened with open mouth to that narrative, tossing her head and looking at the young knight with increasing admiration and amazement. Finally when Macko was through, she sighed and said:

"I am sorry I was not born a boy!"

But Zbyszko, who during the narration had been looking at her attentively, evidently was thinking about something else, because he suddenly said:

"What a beautiful girl you are now!"

Jagienka answered, half in displeasure and half in sadness:

"You have seen many more beautiful than I am."

But Zbyszko could truly answer her that he had not seen many as pretty as she, because Jagienka was beaming with health, youth and strength. Everything was beautiful in her, a slender figure, a broad bosom that looked as if it were cut out of marble, a red mouth, and intelligent blue eyes. She was also dressed with more care than when in the forest with the hunting party. Around her neck she had a necklace of red beads; she wore a fur jacket opened in front and covered with green cloth, a homespun skirt and new boots. Even old Macko noticed this beautiful attire, and after looking at her for a moment, asked:

"Why are you dressed as if you were going to church?"

But instead of answering, she said:

"The wagons are coming!"

She sprang toward them, followed by Zbyszko. The unloading lasted quite a long time to the great satisfaction of Macko who looked at everything, and praised Jagienka all the time. It was dusk when the girl started home. While she was getting ready to mount her horse, Zbyszko suddenly caught her, and before she was able to say a word, lifted her into the saddle. Then she blushed like the dawn and turning her head toward him, said with emotion in her voice:
"What a strong boy you are!"

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