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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Knights Of The Cross - Part 5 - Chapter 3
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The Knights Of The Cross - Part 5 - Chapter 3 Post by :LloydM Category :Long Stories Author :Henryk Sienkiewicz Date :July 2011 Read :1439

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The Knights Of The Cross - Part 5 - Chapter 3

PART FIFTH: CHAPTER III

There was anxiety about Zbyszko in the whole court, among the knights as well as among the ladies, because he was universally liked; but, according to Jurand's letter, nobody doubted that the right was on the side of the Teuton. On the other hand it was known that Rotgier was one of the more famous brethren of the Order. The squire van Krist narrated among the Mazovian nobility, perhaps on purpose, that his lord before becoming an armed monk, once sat at the Honor-Table of the Teutons, to which table only world-famous knights were admitted, those who had accomplished an expedition to the Holy Land, or fought victoriously against giants, dragons, or mighty magicians. Hearing van Krist tell such tales, and, at the same time, boast that his lord had repeatedly met five opponents single-handed with his "dagger of mercy" in one hand and an axe or sword in the other, the Mazurs were disquieted, and some said: "Oh, if only Jurand were here, he could give an account of himself with even two; no German ever escaped him yet, but the youth--bah!--for the other exceeds him in strength, years and experience."

Therefore others regretted that they had not accepted the challenge, asserting that they would undoubtedly have done so, if it had not been for the news from Jurand. "But fear of the judgment of God...." On this occasion, and for mutual entertainment, they recalled the names of Mazovian and more often of Polish knights, who, either in courtly jousts or hunting, had gained numerous victories over the western knights; above all they mentioned Zawisza of Garbow, with whom no knight of the Christian kingdom could cope. But there were also those who cherished great hopes of Zbyszko: "He is not to be despised!" they said "and according to common report he once admirably broke the heads of Germans in fair field." But their hearts were particularly strengthened by the action of Zbyszko's follower, the Bohemian Hlawa, who, on the eve of the combat, hearing how van Krist was talking about Rotgier's unheard-of victories, and being a hasty youth, caught van Krist by the beard, pulled his head up, and said:

"If it is no shame to lie before men, then look up, so that God also may hear you!"

And he kept him long enough to say a "Pater"; while the other, when at length liberated, began to ask him about his lineage, and, having heard that he sprang from the _wlodykas_, challenged him also to fight with axes.

The Mazovians were delighted at such conduct, and again several said:

"Indeed these fellows will not hobble on the barn-floor; even if truth and God be on their side these Teutonic women will not carry away sound bones with them!"

But Rotgier succeeded in throwing dust in the eyes of all, so that many were disquieted as to which had the truth on his side, and the prince himself partook of that fear.

Therefore, on the evening before the combat, he summoned Zbyszko to a consultation at which was present the princess only, and asked:

"Are you positive that God will be with you? How do you know that they captured Danusia? Did Jurand perchance tell you any thing? Because, you see, here is Jurand's letter, by the hand of the priest Kaleb, and his seal, and in this letter Jurand says that he knows that it was not the Teutons. What did he tell you?"

"He said that it was not the Teutons."

"How then can you risk your life and appeal to the judgment of God?"

Then Zbyszko was silent, and only his jaws worked for some time and tears gathered in his eyes.

"I know nothing, gracious lord," he said. "We left here together with Jurand, and on the way I admitted our marriage. He then began to lament that this might be a sin against God, but when I told him it was God's will, he quieted down and forgave me. Along the whole way he said that nobody captured Danusia but the Teutons, and what happened afterward I do not know myself! That woman who brought certain medicines for me to the Forest Court, came to Spychow, accompanied by another messenger. They shut themselves up with Jurand and deliberated. Neither do I know what they said, only after the interview his own servants could not recognize Jurand, because he looked as if he had risen from the grave. He told us: 'Not the Teutons,' but he released von Bergow and all the prisoners he had underground, God knows why! he himself again rode away without any warrior or servant.... He said that he was riding after robbers to ransom Danusia, and ordered me to wait. And I waited until the news from Szczytno arrived, that Jurand had slain Germans and fallen himself. Oh! gracious lord! The soil in Spychow almost scorched me and I nearly ran mad. I made people mount horses in order to revenge Jurand's death, and then the priest Kaleb said: 'You will not be able to take the castle, and do not commence war. Go to the prince, perhaps they know something about Danusia there.' Hlawa and I arrived, and just heard how that dog was barking about Teutonic grievances and Jurand's frenzy.... My lord, I accepted his challenge, because I had challenged him before, and although I know nothing, this much I know, that they are hellish liars--without shame, without honor and without belief! Look, gracious lord, they stabbed de Fourcy to death and tried to cast the guilt upon my follower! By God! they stabbed him like an ox, and then they came to you, lord, for vengeance and retribution! Who will swear then, that they did not lie to Jurand before, and now do the same to you, lord?... I know not, I know not where Danusia is but I challenged him, because, even if I were to lose my life, I prefer death to life without my love, without the one who is clearest to me in the whole world."

Saying this in rapture, he tore off a band from his head, so that his hair fell about his shoulders, and clutching it, he began to weep bitterly, until the princess Anna Danuta was moved to the bottom of her soul for the loss of Danusia, and, pitying him for his sufferings, laid her hands upon his head, and said:

"May God help you, console and bless you!"

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PART FIFTH: CHAPTER IV The prince did not object to the duel, because, according to the customs of that time, he had no power to do so. He only prevailed upon Rotgier to write a letter to the master and to Zygfried von Loeve, stating that he was the first to throw down the gauntlet to the Mazovian knights, in consequence of which he appeared at a combat with the husband of Jurand's daughter, who had already challenged him once before. The Teuton also explained to the grand master, that if he appeared at the duel without permission, he did it
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PART FIFTH: CHAPTER II The rumor of the occurrence in Szczytno arrived in Warsaw however before Brother Rotgier, and there excited amazement and concern. Neither the king himself, nor anybody else at the court, could understand what had happened. Shortly before, just when Mikolaj of Dlugolas was starting for Malborg with the prince's letter, in which he bitterly complained of the capture of Danusia by turbulent border counts and almost threateningly demanded her instant restoration, a letter had arrived from the owner of Spychow stating that his daughter was not captured by the Teutons, but by ordinary border bandits, and that
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