Sunday, September 21, 2008


"What of it? If he fights for Jagienka, then how can he afterward think about that other girl, Jurand's daughter? From this time, Jagienka will be his lady, not the other girl; and I wish it because he is my relative and I like him."

"Well! What about his vow?"

"I will give him absolution in the twinkling of an eye! Have you not heard that I promised to absolve him?"

"Your wisdom will solve everything," answered Zych.

The abbot was pleased with this praise; then he approached Jagienka and asked:

"Why are you so sad?"

She leaned on the saddle, seized the abbot's hand and lifted it to her mouth:

"Godfather, could you not send your men to Krzesnia?"

"What for? They will just get drunk in the inn, that's all."

"But they may prevent a quarrel."

The abbot looked into her eyes and then said sharply:

"They might even kill him."

"Then they must kill me too!" exclaimed Jagienka.

The bitterness, which had accumulated in her since that conversation about Danusia with Zbyszko, mingled with grief, now gushed forth in a stream of tears. Seeing this, the abbot hugged her with one arm, almost covering her with his enormous sleeve, and began to talk:

"Do not be afraid, my dear little girl. They may quarrel, but the other boys are noblemen; they will attack him only in a chivalrous manner; they will call him up on the field, and then he can manage for himself, even if he had to fight with both of them at once. As for Jurand's daughter, about whom you have heard, I will tell you this: there is no wood growing for a bed for the other girl."

"If he prefers the other girl, then I do not care about him," answered Jagienka, through her tears.

"Then why do you, weep?"

"Because I am afraid for him."

"Woman's way of thinking!" said the abbot, laughing.

Then bending toward Jagienka's ear, he said:

"You must remember, dear girl, that even if he take you, he will be obliged to fight just the same; a nobleman must be a knight." Here he bent still closer and added:

"And he will take you, and before long, as God is in heaven!"

"I do not know about that!" answered Jagienka.

But she began to smile through her tears, looked at abbot as if she wished to ask him how he knew it.

Meanwhile, Zbyszko returned to Krzesnia and went directly to the priest, because he wished to have a mass dedicated for Macko's health; after that, he went to the inn, where he expected to find young Wolf and Cztan.

He found both of them there, and also many other people, noblemen, farmers and some performers showing different tricks. At first he could not recognize anybody, because the windows did not let in a lot of light; but when the servant put some wood on the fire, he noticed in the corner behind the beer buckets, Cztan's hairy cheeks, and Wolf's furious face.

He walked slowly toward them, pushing aside the people; when he reached them, he struck the table so heavily with his fist that the noise resounded throughout the whole inn.

They arose immediately and began to turn their girdles; but before they could grasp the hilts of their swords, Zbyszko threw down a glove, and speaking through his nose, as the knights used to speak while challenging, he said these words which were unexpected by everybody:

"If either of you, or any other knightly person here present, deny that the most beautiful and most virtuous girl in the world is Lady Danusia, the daughter of Jurand of Spychow, that one I will challenge to combat, on horseback or on foot, until the first kneeling, or until the last breath."

Wolf and Cztan were astonished as much as the abbot would have been, had he heard Zbyszko's words; and for a while they could not say a word. Who was this lady? They cared about Jagienka and not about her; and if this youth did not care for Jagienka, then what did he want? Why had he made them angry in the church’s courtyard? What did he return for, and why did he wish to quarrel with them? These questions produced such confusion in their minds, that they opened their mouths widely and stared at Zbyszko as if he were not a man, but some creature.

But Wolf, who was a little more familiar with chivalrous customs and knew that often a knight served one lady, but married another, thought that this must be a similar case, and that he must seize the opportunity, to defend Jagienka.

Therefore he came out from behind the table, and coming close to Zbyszko, asked threateningly:

"Then, you dog, you mean to say that Jagienka, daughter of Zych, is not the most beautiful girl in the world?"

Cztan followed him; and the people surrounded them, because they understood that it would not end in words.

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