Sunday, October 5, 2008


"Why would she get married? Although this girl makes a good catch, the whole Spychow will hers, and there are many handsome youths at the court, yet not one of them looked into her eyes, because all respect what she did and your vow. The duchess would not permit it, either. Hey! there will be great joy. Sometimes they teased the girl! Someone would tell her: 'Your knight will not come back!' Then she would clap her shoes and reply: 'He will be back! He will be back!' And when sometimes they told her that you married another, she cried."

These words made Zbyszko feel very tender; he also felt angry at those who said those things; therefore he said:

"I shall challenge those who said such things about me!"

Jendrek of Kropiwnica began to laugh and said:

"The women teased her! Will you challenge a woman? You cannot do anything with a sword against a distaff."

Zbyszko was pleased that he had met such a cheerful companion; he began to ask Jendrek about Danusia. The he inquired about the customs of the Mazowiecki court, then again about Danusia, then about Duke Janusz, then about duchess, then once again about Danusia. Finally he told what he had heard about the coming war during his journey, and how the people were making preparations for it, and were expecting it every day. He asked whether the people in the principalities of Masovia thought it would soon come.

The knight from Kropiwnica did not think that the war was near. The people said that it could not be avoided; but he had heard the prince himself say to Mikolaj of Dlugolas, that the Knights of the Cross were very peaceable now, and if the king only insisted, they would return the province of Dobrzyn to Poland; or they would try to delay the whole affair, until they were better prepared.

"The prince went to Malborg a short time ago," he said, "where during the absence of the grand master, the grand marshal received him and entertained him with great hospitality; now there are some komturs here, and other guests are coming."

Here he stopped for a while, and then added:

"The people say that the Tetonic Knights have a purpose in coming here and in going to Plock to the court of Prince Ziemowit. They would like to have the princes’ pledge that if there is a war they will not aid the king but them, or if they do not agree to help the Tetonic Knights, that at least they will remain neutral; but there is no chance for that."

"With God’s help it will not happen. How could you stay home? Your princes are king’s subjects!"

"No, we would not stay home," answered Jendrek of Kropiwnica.

Zbyszko again glanced at the foreign knights, and at their peacocks' tufts, and asked:

"Are these knights going for that purpose?"

"They are brothers of the Order and perhaps that is their motive. Who understands them?"

"And that third one?"

"He is going because he is inquisitive."

"He must be some famous knight."

"Well! Three heavily laden wagons follow him, and he has nine men in his escort. I would like to fight with such a man!"

"Can you not do it?"

"Of course not! The prince commanded me to guard them. Not one hair shall fall from their heads until they reach Ciechanow."

"Suppose I challenge them? Perhaps they would desire to fight with me?"

"Then you would be obliged to fight with me first, because I will not permit you to fight with them while I live."

Zbyszko looked at the young nobleman in a friendly way, and said:

"You understand what knightly honor is. I shall not fight with you, because I am your friend; but in Ciechanow, God will help me to find some pretext for a challenge to the Germans."

"In Ciechanow you can do what you please. I am sure there will be tournaments; then you can fight, if the prince and the komturs give permission."

"I have a board on which is written a challenge for anyone who will not affirm that Miss Danusia, Jurand’s daughter, is the most virtuous and the most beautiful girl in the world; but everywhere the people shrugged their shoulders and laughed."

"Because it is a foreign custom; and speaking frankly, a stupid one which is not known in our country, except near the boundaries. That knight from Lorraine tried to pick a quarrel with some noblemen, asking them to praise some lady of his; but nobody could understand him, and I would not let them fight."

"What? He wanted to praise his lady? For God's sake!"

He looked closely at the foreign knight, and saw that his young face was full of sadness; he also noticed with astonishment that the knight had a rope made of hairs round his neck.

"Why does he wear that rope?" asked Zbyszko.

"I could not find out, because they do not understand our language, Brother Rotgier can say a few words, but not very well either. But I think that this young knight has made a vow to wear that rope until he has accomplished some knightly deed. During the day, he wears it outside of his armor, but during the night, on the bare flesh."

"Sanderus!" called Zbyszko, suddenly
"At your service," answered the German, approaching.

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