Thursday, September 25, 2008


The prior invited Zbyszko to remain and pass the night in the monastery; but he would not, because he wanted to hang in front of the inn an inscription challenging all knights who denied that Miss Danusia, Jurand’s daughter, was the most beautiful and the most virtuous girl in the kingdom, to a combat on horseback or on foot. It was not proper to hang such a challenge on the gate of the monastery. Prior and other priests even refused to help him write that note, so the young man was in trouble. When he arrived at the inn he realized that he could ask the peddler.

"The prior thinks you are a scoundrel," said Zbyszko, "because he said: 'Why should he be afraid of the bishop's judgment, if he had good testimonials?'"

"I am not afraid of the bishop," answered Sanderus; "I am afraid of the monks, who do not know anything about seals. I wanted to go to Krakow, but I have no horse; therefore I must wait until somebody makes me a present of one. Meanwhile, I will send a letter, and I will put my own seal on it."

"If you show that you know how to write, that will prove that you are not a churl; but how will you send the letter?"

"By some pilgrim, or wandering monk. There are many people going on a pilgrimage to the queen's tomb."

"Can you write a card for me?"

"I will write, sir, even on a board, anything you wish."

"I think it will be better on a board," said Zbyszko, "because it will not tear and I can use it again later on."

After awhile the attendants brought a new board and Sanderus wrote on it. Zbyszko could not read what was written on the board; but he ordered it fastened with nails on the door of the inn, under it to be hung a shield, which was watched by the Turks alternately. Whoever struck the shield would declare that he wished to fight. But neither that day nor the following day, did the shield resound from a blow; and in the afternoon the unhappy knight was ready to continue his journey.

Before that, however, Sanderus came to Zbyszko and said:

"Sir, if you hang your shield in the land of the Prussian lords, I am sure your shield-bearer would have to buckle your armor for battle by now."

"What do you mean? Don't you know that a Teutonic Knight, being a monk, cannot have a lady nor be in love with one, because it is forbidden to him."

"I do not know whether it is forbidden or not; but I know that they have them. It is true that a Teutonic Knight cannot fight a duel without bringing reproach on himself, because he swore that he would fight only for the faith; but besides the monks, there are many secular knights from distant countries, who came to help the Prussian lords. They are looking for someone to fight with, especially the French knights."

"Well! I saw them at Wilno, and with God's permission I shall see them in Marienburg. I need the peacocks' crests from their helmets, because I made a vow--do you understand?"

"Sir, I will sell you two or three drops of the perspiration, which St. George shed while fighting with the dragon. There is no relic, which could be more useful to a knight. Give me the horse for it, on which you permitted me to ride; then I will also give you an indulgence for the Christian blood which you will shed in the fight."

"Let me be, or I shall become angry. I shall not buy your wares until I know they are genuine."

"You are going, sir, so you have said, to the Masovian court. Ask there how many relics they bought from me, the princess herself, the knights and the girls for their weddings, at which I was present."

"For what weddings?" asked Zbyszko.

"As it usually happens before advent. The knights were marrying as soon as they could, because the people are expecting that there will be a war between the Polish king and the Prussian lords about the province of Dobrzyn. Some of them say: 'God knows whether I shall return.' So they want to experience some happiness with their women."

Zbyszko was very anxious to hear about the war, but still more anxious to hear about the weddings, of which Sanderus was talking; therefore he asked:

"Which girls were married there?"

"The duchess' ladies-in-waiting. I do not know whether even one remained, because I heard the duchess say that she would have to look for other attendants."

Having heard this, Zbyszko was silent for a while; then he asked in an altered voice:

"Did Miss Danusia, Jurand’s daughter, whose name is on the board, get married too?"

Sanderus hesitated before he answered. He did not know anything for sure; then he thought that if he kept the knight anxious and perplexed, he would have more influence over him. He wanted to retain his power over this knight who had a good retinue, and was well provided with everything.

Zbyszko's youth led him to believe that he would be generous, without forethought and careless with money. He had noticed already the costly armor made in Milan, and the enormous stallions, which not everybody could possess; then he assured himself that if he traveled with such a knight, he would receive hospitality in noblemen's houses, and a good opportunity to sell his indulgences; he would be safe during the journey, and have abundance of food and drink, about which he cared greatly.

Therefore, hearing Zbyszko's question, he frowned, lifted his eyes as if he was trying to remember, and answered:

"Miss Danusia, Jurand’s daughter? Where is she from?"

"Daughter of Jurand of Spychow."

"I saw all of them, but I cannot remember their names."

"She is very young; she plays the lute, and amuses the princess with her singing."
"Young--plays the lute--there were some young ones getting married too. Does she have black hair?"

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