Sunday, August 31, 2008

1.14 (Chap. 14)


Old Macko was not mistaken when he said that Zbyszko and Jagienka were fond of each other, and even longed for each other.

Jagienka pretending that she wanted to visit the sick Macko, often visited Bogdaniec, either alone or with her father. Zbyszko also often visited Zgorzelice. That way, after a few days a familiarity and friendship originated between them. They grew fond of each other and talked about everything that interested them. There was mutual admiration in that friendship too. The young and handsome Zbyszko, who had already distinguished himself in the war, had participated in tournaments and had been in the presence of kings, was considered by the girl, when she compared him with Cztan of Rogow or Wolf of Brzozowo, a true courtly knight and almost a prince; as for him, he was astonished at the great beauty of the girl. He was loyal to Danusia, but quite often when he looked at Jagienka, either in the forest or at home, he said involuntarily to himself: "Hey! what a girl!" Whenever helping her to mount her horse, he felt her muscular flesh under his hands and disquiet filled him and he shivered.

Jagienka, although proud by nature and even aggressive, grew more and more gentle with him. Often looked in to his eyes to discover how she could please him. He saw her affection and was grateful for it and he liked to be with her more and more. Finally, especially after Macko began to drink the bear's grease, they saw each other almost every day; when the splinter came out of the wound, they went together to get some fresh beaver's grease, necessary for the healing of the wound.

They took the crossbow, mounted their horses and went first to Moczydoly, destined for Jagienka's dowry, then to the edge of the forest, where they left the horses with a servant and went on foot, because it was impossible to pass through the thicket on horseback. While walking, Jagienka pointed to the far away forest over large meadow and said:

"Those woods belong to Cztan of Rogow."

"The same man who would like to take you?"

She began to laugh:

"He would if he could!"

"You can defend yourself very easily, especially with the help from Wolf who, as I understand, gnashes his teeth at Cztan. I am surprised that they have not challenged each other to fight yet."

"They have not because dad before he went to the war said to them:
'If you fight about Jagienka I do not want to see you any more.' How could they fight then? When they are in Zgorzelice they scowl at each other; but afterward they drink together in an inn until they fall of the bench."

"Stupid boys!"

"Why?"

"Because while Zych was away one of them should have taken you by force. What could Zych do, if when he returned he had found you with a baby on your lap?"

At this Jagienka's blue eyes flashed immediately.

"Do you think I would let them take me? Don’t we have we people in Zgorzelice, and do I not know how to manage a crossbow or a spear? Let them try! I would chase them back home and even raid their places in Rogow or Brzozowa. Father knew very well that he could go to the war and leave me home alone."

She frowned, and shook the crossbow threateningly, so that Zbyszko began to laugh, and said:

"You ought to have been a knight and not a girl."

Becoming calmer, she answered:

"Cztan guarded me from Wolf and Wolf from Cztan. Then I was also under the abbot's tutelage, and it is well for everyone to let the abbot alone."

"Yes”-answered Zbyszko. "They are all afraid of the abbot! But I, may Saint George help me speak the truth, I would neither be afraid of the abbot, nor of your peasants, nor of yourself; I would take you!"

At this Jagienka stopped on the spot, and fixing her eyes on Zbyszko, asked in a strange, soft, low voice:

"You would take me?"

Then her lips parted and blushing, she waited for his answer.

But he evidently was only thinking what he would do, were he in Cztan or Wolf's position; because after a while, he shook his head and said further:

"A girl must marry and not fight with the boys. Unless you have a third one, you must choose one of these two."

"You must not tell me that," answered the girl, sadly.

"Why not? I have been away from home for a long time, therefore I do not know whether there is somebody around Zgorzelice, of whom you are fond or not."

"Let it be!" answered Jagienka.

They walked along silently, trying to make their way through the thicket which was now much denser because the bushes and the trees were covered with wild hop vines. Zbyszko walked first, tearing down the green vines, and breaking the branches here and there; Jagienka followed him with a crossbow on her shoulder, looking like a hunting goddess.

"Beyond that thicket," said she, "there is a deep brook; but I know where the ford is."

"I have long boots on, reaching above my knees; we can cross it," answered Zbyszko.

Shortly afterward, they reached the brook. Jagienka being familiar with the forests, very easily found the ford; but the water was deeper than usual, the little brook swollen by the rains. Then Zbyszko without asking her permission seized the girl in his arms.

"I can cross by myself," said Jagienka.
"Put your arms around my neck!" answered Zbyszko.

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