Monday, September 1, 2008


When they came to Zgorzelice, they found Zych and the abbot sitting in front of the house, looking at the world, and drinking wine. Behind them, near the wall, sat six men of the abbot's retinue; two of them were musicians; one was a pilgrim, who could easily be distinguished by his curved stick and dark mantle; the others looked like clerics because their heads were shaved, but they wore lay clothing, girdles of ox leather, and short swords.

When Zych saw Macko coming in the wagon, he rushed toward him; but the abbot, evidently remembering his dignity, remained seated, and said something to his clerics, some of whom left. Zbyszko and Zych helped the sick Macko enter the house.

"I am not well yet," said Macko, kissing the abbot's hand, "but I came to bow to you, my benefactor; to thank you for your care of Bogdaniec, and to beg you for a benediction, which is most necessary for a sinful man."

"I heard you were better," said the abbot, placing his hand on Macko's head; "and that you had promised to go to the grave of our late queen."

"Not knowing which saint's protection to ask for, I made a vow to her."

"You did well!" said the abbot, enthusiastically; "she is better than all the others, and none dare to be jealous of her!"

In a moment his face became flushed with anger, his cheeks filled with blood, his eyes began to sparkle.

They were so used to his impetuosity, that Zych began to laugh and exclaimed:

"Strike, who believes in God!"

As for the abbot, he puffed loudly, and looked at those present; then laughed suddenly, and having looked at Zbyszko, he asked:

"Is that your nephew and my relative?"

Zbyszko bent and kissed his hand.

"I saw him when he was a small boy; I did not recognize him," said the abbot. "Show yourself!" And he began to look at him from head to foot, and finally said:

"He is too handsome! It is a girl, not a knight!"

"To this Macko replied:

"That girl used to go to dancing parties with the Germans; but those who took her, fell down and did not rise again."

"And he can stretch a crossbow without a crank!" exclaimed Jagienka.

The abbot turned toward her:

"Why are you here?"

She blushed so much that even her neck and ears became red, but answered:

"I saw it."

"Look out then, that he does not shoot you, because you would have to nurse yourself for a long time."

At this the musicians, the pilgrim and the clerics broke out with great laughter, which perplexed Jagienka still more; the abbot took pity on her.

Meanwhile Zych assisted Macko to the bench and ordered some wine for him. Jagienka went to get it. The abbot turned to Zbyszko and began to talk:

"Enough of joking! I compared you to a girl, not to humiliate you, but to praise your handsomeness. But I know that you are a strong man! I have heard about your deeds at Wilno, about the Fryzes, and about Krakow. Zych has told me all about it. Do you understand?"

Here he looked intently into Zbyszko's eyes, and after a while he said:

"If you have promised three peacocks' tufts, then search for them! It is praiseworthy and pleasing to God to persecute the foes of our people. But, if you have promised something else, I can release you from the vow."

"Hey!" said Zbyszko; "when a man promises something in his soul to the Lord Jesus, who has the power to release him?"

Macko looked with fear at the abbot; but evidently he was in an excellent humor, because instead of becoming angry, he threatened Zbyszko with his finger and said:

"How clever you are! But you must be careful that you do not meet the same fate that the German, Beyhard, did."

"What happened to him?" asked Zych.

"They burned him at a stake."

"What for?"

"Because he used to say that a layman could understand God's secrets as well as the clergy."

"They punished him severely!"

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