Thursday, August 14, 2008

1.11.4

"Loosen your belt; then you will be able to eat and drink more. What a beautiful girdle you have! Yon must have taken rich booty in Lithuania!"

"We can’t complain," answered Zbyszko, gladly seizing the opportunity to explain that the heirs of Bogdaniec were no longer simple knights. "A part of our booty, we sold in Krakow and received forty pieces of silver for it."

"You don't say! One can buy a whole village for that."

"Yes. That’s because among other things there was Milanese armor which my uncle, expecting to die, sold."

"I know! Well then, it is worth it to go to Lithuania. I wanted to go there too, but I was afraid."

"Of what? Of the Knights of the Cross?"

"No, who would be afraid of Germans? I was afraid of those heathenish gods or devils. It seems there are plenty of them in those woods."

"Where can they go? Their temples have been burned. Before they were well-to-do; but now they live on mushrooms and ants."

"Did you see them?"

"No, I did not see any myself, but I heard of people who had seen them. Sometimes one of them sticks out a hairy paw from behind a tree and shakes it, begging for something."

"Macko told me the same," said Jagienka.

"Yes! He told me about it on the road," said Zych. "Well, no wonder! Even in here, although it is a Christian country, one can hear laughter in the marshes, and although the priests scold about it in the churches, it is always good policy to put a dish filled with something to eat, for the little devils; otherwise they will scratch on the walls so much that one can hardly sleep. Jagienka, my dearest, put a dish at the threshold."

Jagienka took dish full of noodles and cheese, and placed it at the threshold. Zych said:

"The priests scold! But the Lord Jesus will not be angry about a dish of noodles; and a elf, as soon as his hunger is satisfied, will protect one from fire and from thieves."

Then he turned to Zbyszko:

"But will you not sing a little?"

"You go ahead. I can see, you wanted to do it for a while already, or perhaps Miss Jagienka would sing?"

"We will sing by turns," said Zych. "We have a servant who will accompany us on a wooden fife. Call the boy!"

They called the servant who sat down on the bench and put the fife to his mouth, waiting to learn whom he was to accompany.

None of them wanted to be first. Finally Zych told Jagienka to begin; therefore Jagienka, although bashful because Zbyszko was present, rose from the bench, put her hands under her apron, and began:

"If I only could getThe wings like a birdie,I would flyTo my Johnny from Silesia!"

Zbyszko opened his eyes wide; then he jumped up and shouted:

"Where did you learn that song?"

Jagienka looked at him astonished.

"Everybody sings that. What is the matter with you?"

Zych thinking that Zbyszko was a little intoxicated, turned his jovial face toward him and said:

"Loosen your belt! It will relieve you!"

But Zbyszko stood for a while with astonishment on his face. Then, recovering from his emotion, he said to Jagienka:

"Excuse me, I suddenly remembered something. Sing further."

"Perhaps it makes you sad?"

"No, not at all!" he answered, with a quivering voice. "I could listen to it all night long."

Then he sat down, covered his face with his hand, and listened.

Jagienka sang another couplet; but when she finished, she noticed a big tear rolling down Zbyszko's fingers.

Then she sat down beside him, and began to touch him with her elbow.

"What is the matter with you? I do not want to make you cry. Tell me what is the matter with you?"

"Nothing! Nothing!" answered Zbyszko, sighing. "I could tell you much. But it is over. I feel happier now."

"Perhaps you would like to have some sweet wine?"

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