Sunday, September 21, 2008

1.17 (Chap. 17)


When Jagienka reached home, she immediately sent a servant to Krzesnia to learn whether there had been a fight in the inn, or whether there had been a challenge. But the servant having received some money began to drink with the priest's servants, and did not rush to come back. Another servant, who had been sent to Bogdaniec to inform Macko that the abbot was going to pay him a visit, returned and reported that he had seen Zbyszko playing dice with the old man. This partly soothed Jagienka, because knowing by experience how dexterous Zbyszko was, she was not so much afraid about a regular duel, as she was about some unexpected accident in the inn. She wanted to accompany the abbot to Bogdaniec, but he was not willing. He wished to talk with Macko about the pledge and about some other important business he didn’t want her to hear. He also wanted to go there toward night.

Having learned that Zbyszko had returned home safe, he became very jovial and ordered his wandering clerics to sing. They obeyed him so well that the forest resounded with the noise, and in Bogdaniec, the farm hands came out from their houses, and looked to see whether there was a fire or enemy invasion. The cleric riding ahead, reassured them that a high church dignitary was coming; therefore when they saw the abbot, they bowed to him, and some of them even made the sign of the cross on their chests; he seeing how they respected him, rode along with joyful pride, pleased with the world and full of kindness toward people.

Macko and Zbyszko having heard the singing, came to the gate to meet him. Some of the clerics had been in Bogdaniec before with the abbot; but others had never seen it until now. They were disappointed when they saw the miserable house, which could not be compared with the large mansion in Zgorzelice. But they were reassured when they saw the smoke coming out from the thatched roof of the house; and they were greatly pleased when upon entering the room, they smelt saffron and different kinds of meats, and noticed two tables full of tin dishes, empty as yet, but enormous. On the smaller table, which was prepared for the abbot, shone a silver dish and also a beautifully engraved silver cup, both taken with the other treasures from the Fryzes.

Macko and Zbyszko invited them to the table immediately; but the abbot who had eaten plentifully in Zgorzelice, refused because he had something else on his mind. Since his arrival he had looked at Zbyszko attentively and uneasily, as if he desired to see on him some traces of the fight; but seeing the quiet face of the youth, he began to be impatient; finally he was unable to restrain his curiosity any longer.

"Let us go into the chamber," he said, "to speak about the pledge. Do not refuse me; that will make me angry!"

Here he turned to the clerics and shouted:

"You keep quiet and do not listen at the door!"

Having said this, he opened the door to the chamber and entered, followed by Zbyszko and Macko. As soon as they were seated on the chests, the abbot turned toward the young knight:

"Did you go back to Krzesnia?" he asked.

"Yes, I was there."

"And what?"

"Well, I paid for a mass for my uncle's health, that's all."

The abbot moved on the chest impatiently.

"Well!" he thought, "he did not meet Cztan and Wolf; perhaps they were not there, and perhaps he did not look for them. I was mistaken."

But that made him angry, because his plans had not been realized; therefore immediately his face grew red and he began to breathe loudly.

"Let us speak about the pledge!" he said. "Do you have the money? If not, then the estate is mine!"

Macko, who knew how to act with him, rose silently, opened the chest on which he was sitting, and took out of it a bag of silver coins, evidently prepared for this occasion, and said:

"We are poor people, but we have the money; we will pay what is right, as it is written in the ‘letter’ that I signed with the mark of the holy cross. If you want to be paid for the improvements, we will not quarrel about that either; we will pay the amount you say, and we will bow to you, our benefactor."

Having said this, he kneeled at the abbot's knee and Zbyszko did the same. The abbot, who expected some quarrels and arguing, was very much surprised at such a proceeding, and not very much pleased with it; he wanted to dictate some conditions and he saw that he would have no opportunity to do so.

Therefore returning the "letter" or rather the mortgage, which Macko had signed with a cross, he said:

"Why are you talking to me about an additional payment?"

"Because we do not want to receive any presents," answered Macko, knowing well that the more he quarreled in that matter the more he would get.

At this the abbot reddened with anger:

"Did you ever see such people? They do not wish to accept anything from a relative! You have too much bread! I did not take waste land and I do not return it waste; and if I want to give you this bag, I will do it!"

"You would not do that!" exclaimed Macko.
"I will not do it? Here is your pledge! Here is your money! I give it because I want to, and had I even thrown it into the road, it would be none of your affairs. You shall see if I will not do as I wish!"

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