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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Knights Of The Cross - Part 7 - Chapter 2
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The Knights Of The Cross - Part 7 - Chapter 2 Post by :Smokestack67 Category :Long Stories Author :Henryk Sienkiewicz Date :July 2011 Read :2425

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The Knights Of The Cross - Part 7 - Chapter 2

PART SEVENTH: CHAPTER II

Prince and Princess Janusz had left with part of the court for the spring fishing at Czerska, of which sport he was extremely fond, and loved it above all others. The Bohemian got much important information from Mikolaj of Dlugolas, treating of private affairs as well as of the war. First he learned that Macko had apparently given up his intended route to Zmudz, the "Prussian enclosure," that a few days ago he had left for Warsaw where be found the princely pair. As to the war, old Mikolaj informed him all that he had already heard in Szczytno. All Zmudz, as one man, had risen in arms against the Germans, and Prince Witold not only had refused to help the Order against the unhappy Zmudzians, but had not yet declared war against them, and was negotiating with them; but meanwhile he supplied the Zmudzians with money, men, horses and corn. Meanwhile, he, as well as the Knights of the Cross, sent ambassadors to the pope, to the emperor, and to other Christian lords, accusing each other of breach of faith, and treachery. The ambassador carrying the letters of the prince was the clever Mikolaj of Rzeniewa, a man of great ability who could unravel the thread which was woven by the artifice of the Knights of the Cross, convincingly demonstrating the great wrongs done to the lands of Lithuania and Zmudz.

Meantime when at the diet in Wilno the ties between the Poles and Lithuanians were strengthened, it acted like poison in the hearts of the Knights of the Cross. It was easy to foresee that Jagiello as the supreme lord of all the lands under the command of Prince Witold, would stand at his side in time of war. Count Jan Sayn, the _comthur of Grudzia, and Count Schwartzburg of Danzig, went, at the request of the grand master, to see the king and asked him what might be expected from him. Although they brought him falcons and costly presents, he told them nothing. Then they threatened him with war, without really intending it, because they well knew that the grand master and the chapter were terribly afraid of Jagiello's forces, and were anxious to avert the day of wrath and calamity.

All their schemes were broken like cobwebs, especially with Prince Witold. The evening after Hlawa's arrival, fresh news reached Warsaw. Bronisz of Ciasnoc, courtier of Prince Janusz, whom the prince had previously sent for information from Lithuania, arrived, and with him were two important Lithuanian princes. They brought letters from Witold and the Zmudzians. It was terrible news. The Order was preparing for war. The fortresses were being strengthened, ammunition manufactured, soldiers, (knechts) and knights were gathering at the frontier, and the lighter bodies of cavalry and infantry had already crossed the frontier near Ragnety, Gotteswerder and other border strongholds. The din of war was already heard in the forests, fields and villages, and during the night the woods were seen on fire along the dark sea. Witold finally received Zmudz under his overt protection. He sent his governors, and wagons with armed people he placed under the most famous warrior Skirwoillo. He broke into Prussia, burned, destroyed and devastated. The prince himself approached with his army toward Zmudz. Some fortresses he provisioned; others, Kowno, for instance, he destroyed, so that the Knights of the Cross might find no support. It was no more a secret, that at the advent of winter, when the swamps should be frozen, or even earlier than that, if the season was dry, a great war would break out, which would embrace all the lands of Lithuania, Zmudz, and Prussia. But should the king rush to the assistance of Witold then a day must follow in which the flood would inundate the German or the other half of the world, or would be forced back for long ages into its original river-bed.

But that was not to happen yet. Meanwhile, the sighs of the Zmudzians, their despairing complaints of the wrongs done to them, and their appeals for justice were heard everywhere. They also read letters concerning the unfortunate people in Krakow, Prague, in the pope's court and in other western countries. The nobleman brought an open letter to Prince Janusz, from Bronisz of Ciasnoc. Many a Mazovian involuntarily laid his hand on his sword at his side and considered seriously whether voluntarily to enroll under the standard of Witold. It was known that the great prince would be glad to have with him the valiant Polish nobles, who were as valorous in battle as the Lithuanian and Zmudzian nobility, and better disciplined and equipped than they. Others were also impelled by their hatred toward the old enemies of the Polish race, whilst others wanted to go out of compassion.

"Listen! Oh listen!" They appealed to the kings, princes and to the whole Zmudzian nation. "We are people of noble blood and free, but the Order wants to enslave us! They do not care for our souls, but they covet our lands and wealth. Our need is already such that nothing remains for us but to gather together, or kill ourselves! How can they wash us with Christian water when they themselves have unclean hands. We wish to be baptized, but not with blood and the sword. We want religion, but only such as upright monarchs shall teach,--Jagiello and Witold.

"Listen to us and help us, for we perish! The Order does not wish to christen us for our enlightenment. They do not send us priests, but executioners. Our beehives, our flocks, and all the products of our land they have already carried away. We are not even allowed to fish or hunt in the wilds.

"We pray you: Listen to us! They are just bending our necks under the yoke and force us to work during the night in the castles. They have carried off our children as hostages; our wives and daughters they ravish in our presence. It behooves us to groan, but not to speak. Our fathers they have burned at the stake; our lords have been carried off to Prussia. Our great men, Korkucia, Wasigina, Swolka and Songajle, they have destroyed."

"Oh listen! for we are not wild beasts but human beings. We earnestly call upon the Holy Father to send us Polish bishops to baptize us, for we thirst for baptism from the very depth of our heart. But baptism is performed with water and not with shedding of human living blood."

This was the kind of complaint the Zmudzians made against the Knights of the Cross, so that when they were heard by the Mazovian court, several knights and courtiers immediately presented themselves ready to go and help them; they understood that it was not even necessary to ask for permission from Prince Janusz, even if only for the reason that the princess was the sister of Prince Witold. They were specially enraged when they learned from Bronisz and the noblemen, that many noble Zmudzian young ladies, who were hostages in Prussia, but could not endure dishonor and cruelty, had taken their own lives when the Knights of the Cross were about to attack their honor.

Hlawa was very glad to learn of the desire of the Mazovian knights, because he thought that the more men from Poland that joined Prince Witold, the more intense would be the war, and the affair against the Knights of the Cross would be more potent. He was also glad of his chances of meeting Zbyszko, and the old knight Macko, to whom he was much attached and whom, he believed, he was worthy to meet, and together see new wild countries, hitherto unknown cities, and see knights and soldiers never seen before, and, finally, that Prince Witold whose great fame resounded then throughout the world.

Those thoughts decided him to undertake the long and hurried journey--not stopping upon the road more than was necessary for the horses to rest.

The noblemen who arrived with Bronisz of Ciasnoc and other Lithuanians who were present at the prince's court, and who were acquainted with the roads and all passes, were to guide him and the Mazovian knights, from hamlet to hamlet, from city to city and through the silent, immense, deep wilderness which covered the greater part of Mazovia, Lithuania and Zmudz.

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The Knights Of The Cross - Part 7 - Chapter 3 The Knights Of The Cross - Part 7 - Chapter 3

The Knights Of The Cross - Part 7 - Chapter 3
PART SEVENTH: CHAPTER III In the woods, about a mile to the east of Kowno, which Witold had destroyed, were stationed the principal forces of Skirwoillo, extending in time of need from point to point in the neighborhood. They made quick expeditions sometimes to the Prussian frontier, and at others against the castles and smaller fortified places which were still in the hands of the Knights of the Cross, and filled the country with flame of war. There the faithful armor-bearer found Zbyszko and Macko only two days after the latter arrived. After greetings, the Bohemian slept like a rock the
PREVIOUS BOOKS

The Knights Of The Cross - Part 7 - Chapter 1 The Knights Of The Cross - Part 7 - Chapter 1

The Knights Of The Cross - Part 7 - Chapter 1
PART SEVENTH: CHAPTER I To a certain extent the Bohemian adored Jagienka, but his love for the charming Sieciechowna was on the increase, nevertheless his young and brave heart caused him to be eager above all for war. He returned to Spychow with Macko's message, in obedience to his master, and therefore he felt a certain satisfaction that he would be protected by both masters, but when Jagienka herself told him what was the truth, that there was none to oppose him in Spychow and that his duty was to be with Zbyszko, he gladly assented. Macko was not his immediate
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