Monday, September 22, 2008

1.17.3


Hearing this, the abbot not being accustomed to opposition, lost his breath to such a degree, that for a time he could not speak. There was an ill-omened silence, which finally was broken by Macko:

"Zbyszko!" he exclaimed, "come to your wits! What is the matter with you?"

Meanwhile the abbot raised his hand and pointing toward the youth, began to shout:

"What is the matter with him? I know what is the matter; he has not the heart of a nobleman, nor of a knight, but of a hare! That is the matter with him; he is afraid of Cztan and Wolf!"

But Zbyszko, who had remained cool and calm, carelessly shrugged his shoulders and answered:

"Well! I broke their heads when I was in Krzesnia."

"For heaven's sake!" exclaimed Macko.

The abbot stared for a while at Zbyszko. Anger was struggling with admiration in him, and his reason told him that from that fight, he might derive some benefit for his plans.

Therefore having become cooler, he shouted to Zbyszko:

"Why didn't you tell us that before?"

"Because I was ashamed. I thought they would challenge me, as it is customary for knights to do, to fight on horseback or on foot; but they are bandits, not knights. Wolf first took a board from the table, Cztan seized another and they both rushed against me! What could I do? I seized a bench; and well…, you know…"

"Are they still alive?" asked Macko.

"Yes, they are alive, but they were hurt. They were breathing when I left them."

The abbot, rubbing his forehead, listened; then he suddenly jumped from the chest, on which he had seated himself to be more comfortable and to think the matter over, and exclaimed:

"Wait! I want to tell you something!"

"What?" asked Zbyszko.

"If you fought for Jagienka and injured them for her sake, then you are really her knight, not Danusia's; and you must take Jagienka."

Having said this, he put his hands on his hips and looked at Zbyszko triumphantly; but Zbyszko smiled and said:

"Well! I knew very well why you wanted me to fight them; but you have not succeeded in your plans."

"Why? Speak!"

"Because I challenged them to deny that Danusia, Jurand's daughter, is the prettiest and the most virtuous girl in the world; they took Jagienka side, and that is why there was a fight."

Hearing this, the abbot stood still, and only the frequent movement of his eyes indicated that he was still alive. Finally he turned, opened the door with his foot, and rushed into the other room; there he seized the curved stick from the pilgrim's hands and began to strike his men with it, roaring like a wounded urus.

"To horses, you rascals! To horses, you dog worshipers! I will not put my foot in this house again! To horses, he who believes in God, to horses!"

Then he stormed the outer door and went into the courtyard, followed by the frightened clerics. They rushed to the stable and began to saddle the horses. In vain Macko followed the abbot and begged him to stay; swore that it was not his fault. The abbot cursed the house, the people and the fields; when they brought him a horse he jumped in the saddle without touching the stirrups and galloped away looking, with his large sleeves filled by the wind, like an enormous red bird. The clerics rushed after him, like a herd following its leader.

Macko stood looking after them for some time; but when they disappeared in the forest, he returned slowly to the room and said to Zbyszko, shaking his head sadly:

"See what you have done?"

"It would not have happened if I had gone away; and it is your fault that I did not."

"Why?"

"Because I did not wish to leave you when you were sick."

"And what will you do now?"

"Now I shall go."

"Where?"

"To Masovia to see Danusia; and after that to search for peacock's tufts among the Germans."

Macko was silent for a moment, and then he said:

"He returned the 'letter,' but the mortgage is recorded in the mortgage-book at the court. Now the abbot will not give us even a broken coin."

"I do not care. You have money, and I do not need anything for my journey. I will be received everywhere and my horses will be fed; if I only had a suit of armor on my back and a sword in my hand, I would need nothing else."

Macko began to think about everything that had happened. All his plans and wishes had been frustrated. He had wished with his whole heart that Zbyszko would marry Jagienka; but he now realized that this wish would never be fulfilled; and considering the abbot's anger, the behavior of Zbyszko toward Jagienka and finally the fight with Cztan and Wolf, he concluded it would be better to allow Zbyszko to go.

"Well!" he said finally, "if you must seek the peacock's feathers on the heads of the Knights of the Cross, go then. Let the will of Lord Jesus' be fulfilled. But I must go immediately to Zgorzelice; perhaps I will succeed in appeasing their wrath if I implore pardon of the abbot and of Zych; I care especially for the friendship of Zych."

Here he looked into Zbyszko's eyes and asked:

"Do you not regret Jagienka?"
"May God give her health and the best of everything!" answered Zbyszko.

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