Saturday, August 2, 2008


This conversation cheered Zbyszko greatly. Meanwhile at the first rest stop, old Macko became worse, and it was necessary to stay there until he became better. The good duchess, Anna Danuta, left him all the medicine she had with her; but she was obliged to continue her journey; therefore both knights of Bogdaniec bid farewell to the Mazovian court. Zbyszko prostrated himself at the duchess' feet, then at Danusia's; he promised her once more to be faithful and to meet her soon at Ciechanow or at Warsaw; finally he seized her in his strong arms, and lifting her, he repeated with a voice full of emotion:

"Remember me, my sweetest flower! Remember me, my little golden fish!"

Danusia embraced him as though he were a beloved brother, put her little cheek to his face and wept copiously.

"I do not want to go to Ciechanow without Zbyszko; I do not want to go to Ciechanow!"

Jurand saw her grief, but he was not angry. On the contrary, he bid the young man good-bye kindly; and after he had mounted, he turned toward him once more, and said:

"God be with you; do not bear ill will toward me."

"How can I feel ill will toward you; you are Danusia's father!" answered Zbyszko cordially and the old man shook hands with him, and said:

"May God help you in everything! Understand?"

Then he rode away. But Zbyszko understood that in his last words, he wished him success; and when he went back to the wagon on which Macko was lying, he said:

"Do you know I believe he is willing; but something hinders him from giving his consent. You were in Spychow and you have good common sense, try to guess what it is."

But Macko was too ill. The fever rose so much toward evening, that he became delirious. Therefore instead of answering Zbyszko, he looked at him as if he were astonished; then he asked:

"Why do they ring the bells?"

Zbyszko was frightened. He feared that if the sick man heard the sound of bells, it was a sign that death would soon come. He feared also that the old man might die without a priest and without confession, and therefore go, if not to hell, then at least for long centuries to purgatory; therefore he determined to resume their journey, in order to reach, as soon as possible, some parish in which Macko could receive the last sacraments.

Therefore they traveled all night. Zbyszko sat in the wagon on the hay, beside the sick man and watched him till daybreak. From time to time he gave him wine to drink. Macko drank it eagerly, because it relieved him greatly. After the second quart he recovered from his delirium; and after the third, he fell asleep; he slept so well that Zbyszko bent toward him from time to time, to make sure that he was still alive.

Until the time of his imprisonment in Krakow, he did not realize how dearly he loved this uncle who replaced in his life his father and mother. But now he realized that after his uncle's death, life would be very lonesome for him, alone, without relatives, except the abbot who held Bogdaniec in pledge, without friends and without anyone to help him. The thought came to him that if Macko died, it would be one more reason for vengeance on the Germans, by whose means he had nearly lost his head, by whom all his forefathers had been killed, also Danusia's mother and many other innocent people, whom he knew or about whom he had heard from his acquaintances, and he began to ask himself:

"Is there anyone in this kingdom who has not suffered some wrong from them, and who would not like to avenge those wrongs." Here he remembered the Germans with whom he fought at Wilno, and be knew that even the Tatars were less cruel.

The dawn interrupted his thoughts. The morning was bright but cold. Evidently Macko felt better, because he was breathing more regularly and more quietly. He did not awaken until the day was quite warm; then he opened his eyes and said:

"I am better. Where are we?"

"We are approaching Olkusk. You know, where they dig silver."

"If one could get what is in the ground, then one could rebuild Bogdaniec!"

"I see you are better," answered Zbyszko laughing. "Hey! It would be enough even for a stone castle! We will stop there because they will offer us hospitality and you will be able to see priest to make your confession. Everything is in God's hands; but it is better to have one's conscience clear."
"I am a sinner and will willingly repent," answered Macko. "I dreamed last night that the devils were taking my skin off. They were talking German. Thanks be to God that I am better. Have you slept any?"

No comments: