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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Knights Of The Cross - Part 6 - Chapter 6
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The Knights Of The Cross - Part 6 - Chapter 6 Post by :66633 Category :Long Stories Author :Henryk Sienkiewicz Date :July 2011 Read :3000

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The Knights Of The Cross - Part 6 - Chapter 6

PART SIXTH: CHAPTER VI

When Jagienka realized the import of Macko's message, that she was to remain at Spychow, she was almost stunned. Grief and anger rendered her speechless for a while, and with wide opened eyes she stared at the Bohemian, which told him how unwelcome was the information he brought her. He therefore said:

"I should also like to inform you, what we heard at Szczytno. There is much and important news."

"Is it from Zbyszko?"

"No, from Szczytno. You know...."

"Let the servant unsaddle the horses, and you come with me."

The order was executed and they went into her room.

"Why does Macko leave us here? Why must we remain at Spychow, and why did you return here?" she asked in one breath.

"I returned," replied Hlawa, "because the knight Macko ordered me. I wished to go to the war, but an order is an order. Knight Macko told me thus: 'Return, take care of the lady of Zgorzelice, and wait for news from me. You may have to escort her to Zgorzelice, since she cannot go there by herself.'"

"For the love of God, tell me what happened! Did they find Jurand's daughter? Has Macko gone there to search for Zbyszko? Did you see her? Have you spoken to her? Why have you not brought her with you? Where is she now?"

Hearing such an avalanche of questions, the Bohemian bowed to the girl's feet and said:

"Let it not displease your grace if I do not reply to all questions at once, for it is impossible for me to do so, but, I shall if nothing hinders, endeavor to answer them one by one in the order according as they were put."

"Well, did they find her?"

"No, but there is sure information that she was at Szczytno, and that she was probably removed to a distant castle in the east."

"But why must we remain at Spychow?"

"Bah! If she were found?... It is true, as your grace is aware.... There would be no reason for remaining here...."

Jagienka was silent, only her cheeks reddened. But the Bohemian said;

"I thought and am still of the opinion, that we shall not be able to rescue her alive from the talons of those dog-brothers. But everything is in God's hands. I must relate to you from the beginning. We arrived at Szczytno. Well. Knight Macko showed Lichtenstein's letter to the bailiff, who kissed the seal in our presence, and received us as guests. He did not suspect us in the least and had full confidence in us, so that if we had had a few of our men in the neighborhood we could easily have taken possession of the castle. There was no hindrance to our interview with the priest. We conversed for two nights; we informed ourselves of strange things which the priest got from the executioner."

"But the executioner is dumb."

"He is, but the priest speaks to him by signs, and he understands him perfectly well. They are strange things. It must have been the finger of God. That executioner cut off Jurand's hand, tore out his tongue, and put out his eyes. That executioner is such that where men are concerned he would not shrink from inflicting any torture, even if he were ordered to pull the teeth of the victim; but, where girls are concerned, he would not lift up his hand to kill them, or to assist in torturing them. The reason for this determination is, because he too had an only daughter whom he loved dearly, and whom the Knights of the Cross have...."

Here Hlawa stopped; he knew not how to continue his narrative. This Jagienka observed, and she said:

"What do I care about the executioner?"

"Because this is in order," he replied. "When our young master quartered the knight Rotgier the old _comthur Zygfried almost raved. They said at Szczytno that Rotgier was the _comthur's son. The priest confirmed the story, that no father ever loved his son as much as Zygfried loved Rotgier; for his thirst for vengeance he sold his soul to the devil. All this the executioner saw. The _comthur talked with the slain Rotgier, as I am talking to you, and the corpse smiled; then he gnashed his teeth, and for joy he licked his livid lips with his black tongue when the old _comthur promised him Zbyszko's head. But as he could not then get Zbyszko, he ordered Jurand to be tortured in the meanwhile and then placed Jurand's tongue and hand in Rotgier's coffin, who began to devour it...."

"It is terrible to hear. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, amen," said Jagienka. Then she got up and threw a log of wood on the fire because it was night already.

"How," continued Hlawa, "how will it be in the day of judgment? Because then everything belonging to Jurand must be restored to him. But that surpasses human understanding. The executioner then saw everything. Gorged with human flesh, the old _comthur went to take Jurand's daughter, because the other, it seems, whispered to him that he wanted to drink innocent human blood, after his meal. But the executioner, as I have already told you, who did everything, but would not hurt or kill a girl, placed himself upon the staircase.... The priest said that otherwise the executioner is stupid and half a brute, but in that matter he was wide awake, and when necessary he has no equal in cunning. He sat on the stairs and waited, until the _comthur arrived and heard the breathing of the executioner. He saw something shining and started back for he thought it was the devil. The executioner struck him in the neck with his fist, so that he thought the bones were completely shattered. He did not die, but fainted, and became sick with fright. When he recovered, he was afraid to repeat this attempt upon Jurandowna."

"But they have carried her off."

They have, but they have taken the executioner with her. The _comthur did not know that it was he who defended Jurandowna. He thought that some supernatural power, good or evil, did it. He had taken the executioner with him and would not leave him at Szczytno. He was afraid of his testimony, for although dumb, he could in case of a trial testify by signs that which he told the priest. Moreover, the priest finally told Macko that old Zygfried no more threatens Jurandowna, because he is afraid; and although he ordered somebody else to harm her, nothing will happen to her as long as Diedrich lives; he will not permit it, especially as he has already protected her once."

"But does the priest know where they have taken her?"

"Not exactly, but he heard them talk of a certain place called Ragniec, which castle is situated not far from the Lithuanian or Zmudz frontiers."

"What did Macko say concerning that?"

"Pan Macko told me the following day: 'If it is so, then I can and will find her, but I must hasten to Zbyszko, to see that he is not entrapped by them through Jurandowna as they did with Jurand. They have only to tell him that if he comes by himself they will give her up to him and he would not hesitate to go; then old Zygfried would wreak his vengeance upon him, for the death of Rotgier, in unheard-of tortures.'"

"True! It is true!" exclaimed Jagienka, alarmed. "If that is the reason of his hurried departure, then he is right."

But after a moment she turned to Hlawa and said:

"Nevertheless he made a mistake in sending you here. There is no need to guard us here. Old Tolima can do it as well. You, being strong and intrepid, could be of much help to Zbyszko there."

"But who would guard you in case you were to go to Zgorzelice?"

"In such a case they would have to convey the news by somebody; they will do it through you. You will precede them and take us home."

The Bohemian kissed her hand, and asked, with emotion:

"But during the time of your sojourn here?"

"God watches over orphans! I shall remain here."

"Will you not find it tedious? What will you do here?"

"I shall ask the Lord Jesus to restore happiness to Zbyszko and keep all of you in good health."

Then she burst out weeping, and the armor-bearer bowed again at her feet, and said:

"You are indeed like an angel in heaven."

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PART SIXTH: CHAPTER VII But she wiped away her tears, took the armor-bearer with her and went to Jurand to tell him the news. She found him in a bright room, the tame she-wolf at his feet, sitting with Father Kaleb, old Tolima and Sieciechowa. Supporting their heads with their hands, absorbed in thought, and sorrowful, they were listening to a poem which the village beadle, who was also the _rybalt_, accompanied by his lute, sang of Jurand's former exploits against the "abominable Knights of the Cross." The room was lit up by the moon. A very warm and quiet night
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PART SIXTH: CHAPTER V Jurand awoke from his long sleep in the presence of the priest; he forgot what had happened to him and where he was; he began to feel around in bed and at the wall. The priest caught him in his arms and wept, tenderly kissing him, and said: "It is I! You are at Spychow! Brother Jurand!... God tried you.... But you are now among your own.... Good people brought you here. Brother, dear brother, Jurand." Then he repeatedly pressed him to his breast, kissed his brow and his hollow eyes; but Jurand appeared to be stupefied
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