Saturday, October 18, 2008


"Ask this knight, who is the most virtuous and the most beautiful girl in the world."

Sanderus repeated the question in German.

"Ulryka von Elner!" answered Fulko de Lorche.

Then he raised his eyes and began to sigh. Zbyszko hearing this answer, was indignant, and reined in his stallion; but before he could reply, Jendrek of Kropiwnica, pushed his horse between him and the foreigner, and said:

"You shall not quarrel here!"

But Zbyszko turned to Sanderus and said:

"Tell him that I say that he is in love with an owl."

"Noble knight, my master says that you are in love with an owl!" repeated Sanderus, like an echo.

At this Sir de Lorche dropped his reins, drew the iron gauntlet from his right hand and threw it in the snow in front of Zbyszko, who motioned to the Czech to lift it with the point of his spear.

Jendrek of Kropiwnica, turned toward Zbyszko with a threatening face, and said:

"You shall not fight; I shall permit neither of you."

"I did not challenge him; he challenged me."

"But you called his lady an owl. Enough of this! I also know how to use a sword."

"But I do not wish to fight with you."

"You will have to, because I have sworn to defend that knight."

"Then what shall I do?" asked Zbyszko.

"Wait; we are near Ciechanow."

"But what will the German think?"

"Your servant must explain to him that he cannot fight here; that first you must receive the prince's permission, and he, the komtur's."

"Well! Suppose they will not give permission?"

"Then you will find each other. Enough of this talk."

Zbyszko, seeing that he could not do otherwise, because Jendrek of Kropiwnica would not permit them to fight, called Sanderus, and told him to explain to the foreigner knight, that they could fight only in Ciechanow. De Lorche listened, nodded to signify that he understood; then having stretched his hand toward Zbyszko, he pressed the palm three times, which according to the knightly custom, meant that they must fight, no matter when or where. Then in an apparent good understanding, they moved on toward the castle of Ciechanow, whose towers could be seen reflected on the pink sky.

It was daylight when they arrived; but before they announced themselves at the gate, and the bridge was lowered it become a late night came. They were welcomed by Zbyszko's former acquaintance, Mikolaj of Dlugolas, who commanded the garrison consisting of a few knights and three hundred of the wild forest archers. To his great sorrow, Zbyszko learned that the court was absent. To honor the komturs of Szczytno and Jansbork the prince arranged a great hunting party in the wild forest; the princess, with her ladies-in-waiting, to give more importance to the occasion, went there too. Ofka, the widow, was the key-keeper and the only woman in the castle whom Zbyszko knew. She was very glad to see him. Since her return from Krakow, she had told everybody about his love for Danusia, and the incident with Lichtenstein. These stories made her very popular among the younger ladies and girls of the court; therefore she was fond of Zbyszko. She now tried to console the young man in his sorrow, caused by Danusia's absence.

"You will not recognize her," she said. "She is maturing and is not a little girl any longer; she loves you differently, too. Any time someone calls ‘Zbyszko’ - and she jumps as stuck with a needle. That is what we, women, go through. You say your uncle is well? Why did he not come with you? Yes, that’s what women go through. It is difficult to be alone in this world. Thank God that she didn’t break her legs, because every day she climbs the tower to look on the road. We all need friends."

"I will let my horses rest for a while and then I will go to Danusia. I will leave at night," answered Zbyszko.

"Do so, but take a guide from the castle, or you will be lost in the wilderness."
After a supper, which Mikolaj of Dlugolas ordered to be served to the guests, Zbyszko expressed his desire to go after the prince, and he asked for a guide. The brothers of the Order, tired by the journey, approached the enormous fireplaces in which were burning the entire trunks of pine trees, and said that they would go the next day. But de Lorche expressed his desire to go with Zbyszko, saying that otherwise he might miss the hunting party, and he wished to see them very much. Then he approached Zbyszko to shake hand with him and he again pressed his fingers three times.

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