Saturday, January 3, 2009


Having said this, she went out with Danusia to dress for the horseback riding. Zbyszko rushed to the backyard, where the horses for duke and duchess, and the guests were kept. There were much fewer people in the courtyard now, because most of the men went to the woods to hem in the beasts. The fires were dying out, the day was getting bright but very cold and freezing snow was crunching under the feet. Soon the duke appeared and mounted his horse; behind him was an attendant with a crossbow and a spear so long and heavy that very few could handle it. The duke used it with ease, because like the other members of the house of Masovian Piasts, he was unusually strong. Even women in that family were very strong.

Close to the duke were two of his bodyguards. They had been chosen from among all the landowners of the provinces of Warsaw and Ciechanow. They looked fierce and had shoulders like the trunks of oak trees. Sir de Lorche gazed at them with amazement.

In the meanwhile, the duchess and Danusia came out. They both wore white weasel hoods. Because the duchess was much better in using a bow then than a needle, her attendants carried a light crossbow behind her. Zbyszko kneeled on the snow and extended the palms of his hands, on which the duchess rested her foot while mounting her horse. Then he lifted Danusia into her saddle and they all started. The retinue stretched in a long column, turned to the right, away from the mansion, and then began to enter the forest.

They were deep in the woods when the duchess turned to Zbyszko and said:

"Why don't you talk to her? Go ahead."

Despite encouragement Zbyszko was silent for a while, but then he said:


"What, Zbyszko?"

"I love you!"

Here he stopped again, searching for words. Although he kneeled before the girl like a foreigner, and showed her his respect in every way, he still could not express his love in words. Therefore he said:

"My love for you is so great that it stops my breathing."

"I also love you, Zbyszko!" she said, hastily.

"My dearest! My sweet girl" exclaimed Zbyszko. Then he was silent, full of blissful emotion. But the good-hearted and curious duchess helped them again.

"Tell her," said she, "how lonesome you were without her, and when we come to a thicket, you may kiss her; that will be the best proof of your love."

Therefore he began to tell how lonesome he was without her in Bogdaniec, while taking care of Macko and while visiting the neighbors. He did not say a word about Jagienka.

When the first thicket separated them from the courtiers and the guests, he bent toward her and kissed her.

But because it was the winter and there were no leaves on the hazel bushes, Hugo von Danveld and Sir de Lorche saw him kiss the girl. So did some of the courtiers and they began to talk among themselves:

"He kissed her in the presence of the duchess! The lady will surely prepare the wedding for them soon."

"He is a daring boy, but Jurand's blood is warm also!"

"They are flint-stone and fire-steel, although the girl looks so quiet. Do not be afraid, there will be some sparks from them!"

While others talked and laughed the komtur of Szczytno turned his fat face toward De Lorche and asked:

"Sir, would you like some wizard to change you by his magic power into that knight?"

"How about you, sir?" asked de Lorche.

To this the Knight of the Cross, who evidently was filled with jealousy and desire, drew the reins of his horse impatiently, and exclaimed:

"Yes! Upon my soul!"

But at that moment he recovered his composure, and bending his head, he added:

"I am a monk and have made a vow of chastity."

He glanced quickly at de Lorche, fearing he would see a smile on his face, because in that respect the Order had a bad reputation and of all the monks, he, Hugo von Danveld, had the worst.

A few years prior he had been vice-bailiff of Sambia. There were so many complaints against him there that, notwithstanding the tolerance with which the Order looked upon similar cases, the grand master was obliged to remove him and appoint him to the garrison in Szczytno. Afterward he was sent to the duke's court on some secret mission. There, after noticing the beauty of Jurand’s daughter, he developed a violent passion for her. Even Danusia's young age would not give him a pause. But Danveld was also aware to what family the girl belonged. Jurand's name was brining him terrible memories and so his passion was also feeding on his hate.

De Lorche began to question him:

"Sir, you called that beautiful girl the devil's daughter. Why did you call her that?"

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