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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Knights Of The Cross - Part 4 - Chapter 3
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The Knights Of The Cross - Part 4 - Chapter 3 Post by :joelee Category :Long Stories Author :Henryk Sienkiewicz Date :July 2011 Read :2890

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The Knights Of The Cross - Part 4 - Chapter 3

PART FOURTH: CHAPTER III

Father Wyszoniek feared that even at Jurand's next awakening, he might be stupefied and might not recover consciousness for a long time. Meanwhile he promised the princess and Zbyszko to let them know when the old knight could speak, and himself retired after they left. In fact Jurand first awoke on the second Holy Day just before noon, but fully conscious. The princess and Zbyszko were present. Therefore, sitting on the bed, he looked at and recognized her and said:

"Your Highness ... for God's sake, am I in Ciechanow?"

"And you overslept the Holy Day," replied the lady.

"The snows covered me. Who saved me?"

"This knight: Zbyszko of Bogdaniec. You remember him in Krakow...."

And Jurand gazed with his sound eye at the youth for a moment and said:

"I remember ... but where is Danusia?"

"She did not ride with you?" anxiously inquired the princess.

"How could she ride with me, when I did not go to her?"

Zbyszko and the princess looked at each other, believing him to be still speaking under the influence of the fever. Then the lady said: "Wake up, for God's sake! There was no girl with, you?"

"Girl? With me?" inquired Jurand in amazement.

"Because your people perished, but she could not be found among them."

"Why did you leave her in Spychow?"

He then again repeated, but now with alarm in his voice:

"In Spychow? Why, she is with you, Your Highness, not with me!"

"However you sent a letter for her to the Forest Court."

"In the name of the Father and Son!" replied Jurand. "I did not send for her at all."

Then the princess suddenly became pale:

"What is that?" she said, "are you positive that you are speaking in your right senses?"

"For God's mercy, where is the child?" exclaimed Jurand, starting up.

Father Wyszoniek, on hearing this, quickly left the room, while the princess continued:

"Listen: There arrived an armed retinue and a letter from you to the Forest Court, for Danusia. The letter stated that you were knocked down in a conflagration by a falling beam ... that you were half blinded and that you wished to see the child.... They took Danusia and rode away...."

"My head swims!" exclaimed Jurand. "As there is a God in Heaven, there was no fire in Spychow, nor did I send for her!"

At that moment Father Wyszoniek returned with the letter, which he handed to Jurand and inquired: "Is not this your clerkly writing?"

"I do not know."

"And the seal?"

"It is mine."

"What does the letter say?"

Father Wyszoniek read the letter while Jurand listened, tearing his hair and finally saying: "The writing is counterfeited! ... the seal is false!... my soul! They have captured my child and will destroy her!"

"Who are they?"

"The Teutons!"

"For God's sake! The prince must be informed! He shall send messengers to the master!" exclaimed the princess. "Merciful Jesus, save her and help!" ... and she left the room screaming.

Jurand jumped out of bed and began hurriedly to clothe his gigantic frame. Zbyszko sat as if petrified, but in a few moments his tightly set teeth began to gnash with rage.

"How do you know that the Teutons captured her?" asked Father Wyszoniek.

"By the Passion of our Lord, I'll swear!"

"Wait! ... It may be so. They came to complain about you to the Forest Court."

"They wanted to take revenge on you..."

"And they captured her!" suddenly exclaimed Zbyszko. Then he hurried out of the room, and running to the stables he ordered horses to be saddled and harnessed to wagons, not knowing well himself why he did so. He only knew that it was necessary to go to Danusia's assistance--at once--and as far as Prussia--and there to tear her out of the foe's hands or perish.

He then returned to the room to tell Jurand that the weapons and horses would soon be ready. He was sure that Jurand would accompany him. His heart was burning with rage, pain and sorrow,--but at the same time he did not lose hope; it seemed to him that he and the formidable knight of Spychow together would be able to accomplish everything--and that they were equal to attacking the whole Teutonic force.

In the room, besides Jurand, he met Father Wyszoniek and the princess, also the prince and de Lorche, as well as the old knight of Dlugolas, whom the prince, having heard of the affair, summoned also to council on account of his wisdom and extensive knowledge of the Teutons, who had kept him for a number of years in slavery.

"It is necessary to set about it prudently, so as not to commit a sin in blind fury and so lose the girl," said the knight of Dlugolas.

"A complaint must be instantly filed with the master and I will ride thither, if His Highness will give me a letter to him."

"I will give the letter, and go with it," said the prince. "We will not allow the child to be lost, so help me God and Holy Cross! The master dreads war with the Polish king, and he is anxious to win over Semka, my brother and myself.... They did not capture her at his command--and he will order her return."

"And if it was by his orders?" inquired Father Wyszoniek.

"Although he is a Teuton, there is more honesty in him than in the others," replied the prince; "and, as I told you, he would rather accommodate me than make me angry now. The Jagiellonian power is no laughter. Hej! They poured hog's grease under our skin as long as they could, but they did not perceive that if also we Mazurs should assist Jagiello, then it would be bad...."

But the knight of Dlugolas said, "That is true. The Teutons do nothing foolishly; therefore, I think that if they have captured the girl, it is either to disarm Jurand, or to demand a ransom, or to exchange her." Here he turned to the knight of Spychow:

"Whom have you now among your prisoners of war?"

"Herr von Bergow," replied Jurand.

"Is he important?"

"It seems so."

De Lorche, hearing the name von Bergow, began to inquire about him, and, having found out, said: "He is a relative of the Duke of Geldryi, a great benefactor of the Order, and devoted to the Order from his birth."

"Yes," said the knight of Dlugolas, translating his words to those present. "Von Bergow held high rank in the Order."

"Danveld and von Loeve strongly demanded him," remarked the prince.

"Whenever they opened their mouths, they said that von Bergow must be free. As God is in Heaven they undoubtedly captured the girl, in order to liberate von Bergow."

"Hence they will return her," said the prince.

"But it would be better to know where she is," replied the knight of Dlugolas. "But suppose the master asks: 'Whom shall I order to return her?' what shall we say then?"

"Where is she?" said Jurand, in a hollow voice. "They certainly are not keeping her on the border, for fear that I might recover her, but they have taken her somewhere to a far secret hold or to the sea."

But Zbyszko said: "I will find and recover her."

The prince now suddenly burst out with suppressed anger: "Villains carried her off from my court, disgracing me as well, and this shall not be forgiven as long as I live. I have had enough of their treacheries! enough of their assaults! I would rather have wolves for neighbors! But now the master must punish these lords and return the girl, and send messengers with apologies to me, otherwise I will send out a call to arms!"

Here he struck the table with his fist and added:

"Owa! The lord of Plock will follow me, and Witold and King Jagiello's forces! Following enough! Even a saint would snort away his patience. I have had enough!"

All were silent, waiting until his anger had quieted down; but Anna Danuta rejoiced that the prince took Danusia's affair so to heart; she knew that he was long-suffering, but stubborn also, and when he once undertook anything he never relinquished it until he attained his object.

Then Father Wyszoniek rose to speak. "There was of old a rule in the Order," he said, "that no lord was permitted to do anything on his own responsibility without the permission of the assembly or the master. Therefore God gave them such extensive territories that they almost exceed all other earthly powers. But now they know neither obedience, truth, honesty, nor belief. Nothing but greed and such ravage as if they were wolves and not human beings. How can they obey the master's commands or those of the assembly, if they do not even obey God's commandments? Each one resides in his castle like an independent prince--and one assists another in doing evil. I shall complain to the master--but they will deny it. The master will order them to restore the girl, but they will refuse to do so, or they will say: 'She is not here, because we have not captured her.' He will command them to take oath and they will do so. What shall we do then?"

"What to do?" rejoined the knight of Dlugolas. "Let Jurand go to Spychow. If they did carry her off for ransom, or to exchange her for von Bergow, then they must and will inform no one but Jurand."

"Those who used to visit the Forest Court captured her," said the priest.

"Then the master will submit them to trial, or order them to give Jurand the field."

"They must give me the field," exclaimed Zbyszko, "because I challenged them first!"

And Jurand removed his hands from his face and inquired: "Which of them were in the Forest Court?"

"There were Danveld, old von Loeve, and two brethren, Godfried and Rotgier," replied the priest.

"They made complaint and wished the prince to order you to release von Bergow from imprisonment. But the prince, being informed by de Fourcy that the Germans were the first to attack you, rebuked and dismissed them without satisfaction."

"Go to Spychow," said the prince, "because they will apply to you there. They failed to do it till now, because this young knight's follower crushed Danveld's arm when bearing the challenge to them. Go to Spychow, and if they apply, inform me. They will send your daughter back in exchange for von Bergow, but I shall nevertheless take vengeance, because they disgraced me also by carrying her off from my court."

Here the prince began to get angry again, for the Teutons had entirely exhausted his patience, and after a moment he added:

"Hej! They blew and blew the fire, but they will end by burning their mouths."

"They will deny it," repeated the priest Wyszoniek.

"If they once inform Jurand that the girl is with them, then they will not be able to deny it," somewhat impatiently replied Mikolaj of Dlugolas. "He believes that they are not keeping her on the border, and that, as Jurand has justly pointed out, they have carried her to some distant castle or to the seashore, but if there be proof that they are the perpetrators, then they will not disclaim it before the master."

But Jurand said in a strange and, at the same time, terrible tone: "Danveld, von Loeve, Godfried and Rotgier."

Mikolaj of Dlugolas also recommended that experienced and shrewd people be sent to Prussia, to find out whether Jurand's daughter was there, and if not, whither she had been taken; then the prince took the staff in his hand and went out to give the necessary orders; the princess again turned to Jurand to speak encouraging words:

"How are you?" she inquired.

He did not reply for a moment, as if he had not heard the question, but then he suddenly said:

"As if one had struck me in an old wound."

"But trust in God's mercy; Danusia will come back as soon as you return von Bergow to them. I would willingly sacrifice my own blood."

The princess hesitated whether to say anything about the marriage now, but, considering a little, she did not wish to add new worries to Jurand's already great misfortunes, and at the same time she was seized with a certain fear. "They will look for her with Zbyszko; may he find an occasion to tell him," she said to herself, "otherwise he may entirely lose his mind." She therefore preferred to discuss other matters.

"Do not blame us," she said. "People wearing your livery arrived with a writing under your seal, informing us that you were ill, that your eyes were closing, and that you wished to look once more upon your child. How could we oppose it and not obey a father's command?"

But Jurand embraced her feet. "I do not blame anybody, gracious lady."

"And know also that God will return her to you, because His eye is upon her. He will send her succor, as He did at the last hunt, when a fierce wild bull attacked us--and Jesus inspired Zbyszko to defend us. He almost lost his own life, and was ill for a long time afterward, but he saved Danusia and me, for which he received a girdle and spurs from the prince. You see!... God's hand is over her. Surely, the child is to be pitied! I, myself, am greatly grieved. I thought she would arrive with you, and that I should see the dear child, but meanwhile" ... and her voice trembled, tears fell from her eyes, and Jurand's long repressed despair burst out for a moment, sudden and terrible as a tempest. He took hold of his long hair, and began to beat his head against the wall, groaning and repeating in husky tones: "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!"

But Zbyszko sprang to his side, and shaking him by the shoulders with all his might, exclaimed:

"We must go! To Spychow!"

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PART FOURTH: CHAPTER IV "Whose retinue is this?" inquired Jurand, suddenly starting from musing, as if from sleep, beyond Radzanow. "Mine," replied Zbyszko. "And did all my people perish?" "I saw them dead in Niedzborz." "Have you no old comrades?" Zbyszko made no reply, and they traveled on in silence, but hurriedly, because they wanted to get to Spychow as quickly as possible, hoping possibly to meet some Teutonic messengers there. To their good fortune the frosts set in again, and the highways were firm, so that they could make haste. Toward evening Jurand spoke again, and began to inquire about
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PART FOURTH: CHAPTER II When Zbyszko heard the ill tidings, he did not even ask the prince's permission, but hastened to the stable and ordered his horse to be saddled. The Bohemian, being a noble-born armor-bearer, met Zbyszko in the hall before he returned to the house, and brought him a warm fur coat, yet he did not attempt to detain his young master, for he possessed strong natural sense; he knew that detention would be of no avail, and only loss of time, he therefore mounted the second horse and seized some torches from the guard at the gate, and
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