Wednesday, September 24, 2008


"Here is also a purse for your disposal," answered the Czech.

Zbyszko was ready to strike him with the lance, but he recollected that the boy, although a prisoner, was by birth a knight, who had remained with Zych only because he did not have money to pay his ransom; consequently Zbyszko dropped the spear.

Then the Czech bent to his stirrups and said:

"Don’t be angry, sir. If you do not wish me to accompany you, I will follow you at a distance of one or two furlongs; but I must go, because I have sworn to do so upon the salvation of my soul."

"If I order my servants to kill you or to bind you?"

"If you order them to kill me, that will not be my sin; and if you order them to bind me, then I will remain until some good people untie me, or until the wolves devour me."

Zbyszko did not reply; he urged his horse forward and his attendants followed him. The Czech with a crossbow and an axe on his shoulder followed them, shielding himself with a shaggy bison skin, because a sharp wind carrying snow flakes began to blow.

The storm grew worse and worse. The Turks, although dressed in sheepskin coats, were getting cold; other servants started clap their hands; Zbyszko himself, not being dressed very warmly, glanced several times at the mantle lined with wolf-fur brought by Hlawa; after a while, he told one of the Turks to give it to him.

Having wrapped himself with it carefully, he felt warmth spreading all over his body. The hood was really helpful; it covered his eyes and the greater part of his face so that the wind did not annoy him any more. Then, involuntarily, he thought how good Jagienka had been to him. He reined in his horse, called the Czech to ask him about her, and everything that had happened in Zgorzelice.

"Does Zych know that the Lady sent you to me?" he said.

"He knows it," answered Hlawa.

"Was he not opposed to it?"

"He was."

"Tell me then all about it."

"The Lord was walking around the room and the Lady followed him. He shouted, but the she said nothing; but when he turned toward her, she kneeled but did not utter one word. Finally the he said:

'Have you become deaf, that you do not answer my questions? Speak then and I will consent. But if I do the about will tear me head off' The Lady saw that she could do as she wished and began to thank him. The Lord reproached her, because she had persuaded him, and complained that he must always do as she wished; finally he said: 'Promise me that you will not go secretly to bid him good-bye; then I will consent, but not otherwise.' The Lady became very sorrowful, but she promised – and the Lord was satisfied, because the abbot and he were both afraid that she would try to see you. Well, that was not the end of it; afterward the Lady wanted to send two horses, but the Lord would not consent; the Lady wanted to send a wolf-skin and a bag of money, but the Lord refused. His refusal did not amount to anything, however! If she wanted to set the house on fire, the Lord would finally consent. Therefore I brought two horses, a wolf-skin and a bag of money."

"Great girl!" thought Zbyszko. After a while he asked:

"Was there no trouble with the abbot?" The Czech, who understood what was going on, smiled and answered:

"They were both careful to keep everything secret from the abbot; I do not know what happened after I left Zgorzelice.

Abbot, as usually, sometimes shouts at her; but afterward he watches her to see if he upset her. I saw him myself one time after he had scolded her, go to his chest and bring out such a beautiful chain that one could not get a better one even in Krakow, and give it to her. She will manipulate abbot too, because he loves her as much as her own father if not more."

"That is certainly true."

"As God is in heaven!"

Then they became silent and rode along amidst wind and snow. Suddenly Zbyszko reined in his horse because from the forest came a plaintive voice, half stifled by the roar of the wind:

"Christians, help God's servant in his misfortune!"

At the same time a man dressed partly in clerical, partly in secular clothing rushed to the road and began to cry:

"Whoever you are, sir, help a fellow man who has met with a dreadful accident!"

"What has happened, and who are you?" asked the young knight.

"I am God's servant, although not yet ordained; this morning the horse which was carrying my chests containing holy things, ran away. I remained alone, without weapons; evening is approaching, and soon the wild beasts will begin to roar in the forest. I shall perish, unless you help me."

"If I let you perish," answered Zbyszko, "I will be accountable for your sins; but how can I believe that you are speaking the truth. You may be a highway robber, like many others wandering on the roads!"

"You may believe me, sir, for I will show you the chests. Many a man would give a purse full of gold for what is in them; but I will give you some of it for nothing, if you take me and the chests with you."

"You told me that you were God's servant, and yet you do not know that one must give help, not for earthly compensation, but for spiritual reward. But how is it that you have the chests, if the horse carrying them run away?"

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