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Title: The Deluge, Vol. II. (of 2) - An Historical Novel of Poland, Sweden, and Russia.
Author: Sienkiewicz, Henryk, 1846-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Deluge, Vol. II. (of 2) - An Historical Novel of Poland, Sweden, and Russia." ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

   1. Page scan source:
      http://www.archive.org/details/delugeanhistori05siengoog

   2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].



                              THE DELUGE.


                                Vol. II.



                              THE DELUGE.


                          An Historical Novel

                                   OF

                      POLAND, SWEDEN, AND RUSSIA.

                              A SEQUEL TO

                         "WITH FIRE AND SWORD."



                                   BY

                          HENRYK SIENKIEWICZ.


              _AUTHORIZED AND UNABRIDGED TRANSLATION FROM
                             THE POLISH BY_

                            JEREMIAH CURTIN.



                            IN TWO VOLUMES.

                                Vol. II.



                                BOSTON:
                       LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
                                 1915.



                 _Copyright, 1891_, by Jeremiah Curtin.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                                Printers
                  S. J. Parkhill & Co., Boston, U.S.A.



                               THE DELUGE



                               CHAPTER I.


The war with cannon was no bar to negotiations, which the fathers
determined to use at every opportunity. They wished to delude the enemy
and procrastinate till aid came, or at least severe winter. But Miller
did not cease to believe that the monks wished merely to extort the
best terms.

In the evening, therefore, after that cannonading, he sent Colonel
Kuklinovski again with a summons to surrender. The prior showed
Kuklinovski the safeguard of the king, which closed his mouth at once.
But Miller had a later command of the king to occupy Boleslav,
Vyelunie, Kjepits, and Chenstohova.

"Take this order to them," said he to Kuklinovski; "for I think that
they will lack means of evasion when it is shown them." But he was
deceived.

The prior answered: "If the command includes Chenstohova, let the
general occupy the place with good fortune. He may be sure that the
cloister will make no opposition; but Chenstohova is not Yasna Gora, of
which no mention is made in the order."

When Miller heard this answer he saw that he had to deal with diplomats
more adroit than himself; reasons were just what he lacked,--and there
remained only cannon.

A truce lasted through the night. The Swedes worked with vigor at
making better trenches; and on Yasna Gora they looked for the damages
of the previous day, and saw with astonishment that there were none.
Here and there roofs and rafters were broken, here and there plaster
had dropped from the walls,--that was all. Of the men, none had fallen,
no one was even maimed. The prior, going around on the walls, said with
a smile to the soldiers,--

"But see, this enemy with his bombarding is not so terrible as
reported. After a festival there is often more harm done. God's care is
guarding you; God's hand protects you; only let us endure, and we shall
see greater wonders."

Sunday came, the festival of the offering of the Holy Lady. There was
no hindrance to services, since Miller was waiting for the final
answer, which the monks had promised to send after midday.

Mindful meanwhile of the words of Scripture, how Israel bore the ark of
God around the camp to terrify the Philistines, they went again in
procession with the monstrance.

The letter was sent about one o'clock, not to surrender; but to repeat
the answer given Kuklinovski, that the church and the cloister are
called Yasna Gora, and that the town Chenstohova does not belong to the
cloister at all. "Therefore we implore earnestly his worthiness," wrote
the prior Kordetski, "to be pleased to leave in peace our Congregation
and the church consecrated to God and His Most Holy Mother, so that God
may be honored therein during future times. In this church also we
shall implore the Majesty of God for the health and success of the Most
Serene King of Sweden. Meanwhile we, unworthy men, while preferring our
request, commend ourselves most earnestly to the kindly consideration
of your worthiness, confiding in your goodness, from which we promise
much to ourselves in the future."

There were present at the reading of the letter, Sadovski; Count
Veyhard; Horn, governor of Kjepitsi; De Fossis, a famous engineer; and
the Prince of Hesse, a man young and very haughty, who though
subordinate to Miller, was willing to show his own importance. He
laughed therefore maliciously, and repeated the conclusion of the
letter with emphasis,--

"They promise much to themselves from your kindness; General, that is a
hint for a contribution. I put one question, gentlemen: Are the monks
better beggars or better gunners?"

"True," said Horn, "during these first days we have lost so many men
that a good battle would not have taken more."

"As for me," continued the Prince of Hesse, "I do not want money; I am
not seeking for glory, and I shall freeze off my feet in these huts.
What a pity that we did not go to Prussia, a rich country, pleasant,
one town excelling another."

Miller, who acted quickly but thought slowly, now first understood the
sense of the letter; he grew purple and said,--

"The monks are jeering at us, gracious gentlemen."

"They had not the intention of doing so, but it comes out all the
same," answered Horn.

"To the trenches, then! Yesterday the fire was weak, the balls few."

The orders given flew swiftly from end to end of the Swedish line. The
trenches were covered with blue clouds; the cloister answered quickly
with all its energy. But this time the Swedish guns were better
planted, and began to cause greater damage. Bombs, loaded with powder,
were scattered, each drawing behind it a curl of flame. Lighted torches
were hurled too, and rolls of hemp steeped in rosin.

As sometimes flocks of passing cranes, tired from long flying, besiege
a high cliff, so swarms of these fiery messengers fell on the summit of
the church and on the wooden roofs of the buildings. Whoso was not
taking part in the struggle, was near a cannon, was sitting on a roof.
Some dipped water from wells, others drew up the buckets with ropes,
while third parties put out fire with wet cloths. Balls crashing
rafters and beams fell into garrets, and soon smoke and the odor of
burning filled all the interior of buildings. But in garrets, too,
defenders were watching with buckets of water. The heaviest bombs burst
even through ceilings. In spite of efforts more than human, in spite of
wakefulness, it seemed that, early or late, flames would embrace the
whole cloister. Torches and bundles of hemp pushed with hooks from the
roofs formed burning piles at the foot of the walls. Windows were
bursting from heat, and women and children confined in rooms were
stifling from smoke and exhalations. Hardly were some missiles
extinguished, hardly was the water flowing in broken places, when there
came new flocks of burning balls, flaming cloths, sparks, living fire.
The whole cloister was seized with it. You would have said that heaven
had opened on the place, and that a shower of thunders was falling;
still it burned, but was not consumed; it was flaming, but did not fall
into fragments; what was more, the besieged began to sing like those
youths in the fiery furnace; for, as the day previous, a song was now
heard from the tower, accompanied by trumpets. To the men standing on
the walls and working at the guns, who at each moment might think that
all was blazing and falling to ruins behind their shoulders, that song
was like healing balsam, announcing continually that the church was
standing, that the cloister was standing, that so far flames had not
vanquished the efforts of men. Hence it became a custom to sweeten with
such harmony the suffering of the siege, and to keep removed from the
ears of women the terrible shouts of raging soldiery.

But in the Swedish camp that singing and music made no small
impression. The soldiers in the trenches heard it at first with wonder,
then with superstitious dread.

"How is it," said they to one another, "we have cast so much fire and
iron at that hen-house that more than one powerful fortress would have
flown away in smoke and ashes, but they are playing joyously? What does
this mean?"

"Enchantment!" said others.

"Balls do not harm those walls. Bombs roll down from the roofs as if
they were empty kegs! Enchantment, enchantment!" repeated they.
"Nothing good will meet us in this place."

The officers in fact were ready to ascribe some mysterious meaning to
those sounds. But others interpreted differently, and Sadovski said
aloud, so that Miller might hear: "They must feel well there, since
they rejoice; or are they glad because we have spent so much powder for
nothing?"

"Of which we have not too much," added the Prince of Hesse.

"But we have as leader Poliorcetes," said Sadovski, in such a tone that
it could not be understood whether he was ridiculing or flattering
Miller. But the latter evidently took it as ridicule, for he bit his
mustache.

"We shall see whether they will be playing an hour later," said he,
turning to his staff.

Miller gave orders to double the fire, but these orders were carried
out over-zealously. In their hurry, the gunners pointed the cannons too
high, and the result was they carried too far. Some of the balls,
soaring above the church and the cloister, went to the Swedish trenches
on the opposite side, smashing timber works, scattering baskets,
killing men.

An hour passed; then a second. From the church tower came solemn music
unbroken.

Miller stood with his glass turned on Chenstohova. He looked a long
time. Those present noticed that the hand with which he held the glass
to his eyes trembled more and more; at last he turned and cried,--

"The shots do not injure the church one whit!" And anger, unrestrained,
mad, seized the old warrior. He hurled the glass to the earth, and it
broke into pieces. "I shall go wild from this music!" roared he.

At that moment De Fossis, the engineer, galloped up. "General," said
he, "it is impossible to make a mine. Under a layer of earth lies rock.
There miners are needed."

Miller used an oath. But he had not finished the imprecation when
another officer came with a rush from the Chenstohova entrenchment, and
saluting, said,--

"Our largest gun has burst. Shall we bring others from Lgota?"

Fire had slackened somewhat; the music was heard with more and more
solemnity. Miller rode off to his quarters without saying a word. But
he gave no orders to slacken the struggle; he determined to worry the
besieged. They had in the fortress barely two hundred men as garrison;
he had continual relays of fresh soldiers.

Night came, the guns thundered unceasingly; but the cloister guns
answered actively,--more actively indeed than during the day, for the
Swedish camp-fires showed them ready work. More than once it happened
that soldiers had barely sat around the fire and the kettle hanging
over it, when a ball from the cloister flew to them out of the
darkness, like an angel of death. The fire was scattered to splinters
and sparks, the soldiers ran apart with unearthly cries, and either
sought refuge with other comrades, or wandered through the night,
chilled, hungry, and frightened.

About midnight the fire from the cloister increased to such force that
within reach of a cannon not a stick could be kindled. The besieged
seemed to speak in the language of cannons the following words: "You
wish to wear us out,--try it! We challenge you!"

One o'clock struck, and two. A fine rain began to fall in the form of
cold mist, but piercing, and in places thickened as if into pillars,
columns and bridges seeming red from the light of the fire. Through
these fantastic arcades and pillars were seen at times the threatening
outlines of the cloister, which changed before the eye; at one time it
seemed higher than usual, then again it fell away as if in an abyss.
From the trenches to its walls stretched as it were ill-omened arches
and corridors formed of darkness and mist, and through those corridors
flew balls bearing death; at times all the air above the cloister
seemed clear as if illumined by a lightning flash; the walls, the lofty
works, and the towers were all outlined in brightness, then again they
were quenched. The soldiers looked before them with superstitious and
gloomy dread. Time after time one pushed another and whispered,--

"Hast seen it? This cloister appears and vanishes in turn. That is a
power not human."

"I saw something better than that," answered the other. "We were aiming
with that gun that burst, when in a moment the whole fortress began to
jump and quiver, as if some one were raising and lowering it. Fire at
such a fortress; hit it!"

The soldier then threw aside the cannon brush, and after a while
added,--

"We can win nothing here! We shall never smell their treasures. Brr, it
is cold! Have you the tar-bucket there? Set fire to it; we can even
warm our hands."

One of the soldiers started to light the tar by means of a sulphured
thread. He ignited the sulphur first, then began to let it down slowly.

"Put out that light!" sounded the voice of an officer. But almost the
same instant was heard the noise of a ball; then a short cry, and the
light was put out.

The night brought the Swedes heavy losses. A multitude of men perished
at the camp-fires; in places regiments fell into such disorder that
they could not form line before morning. The besieged, as if wishing to
show that they needed no sleep, fired with increasing rapidity.

The dawn lighted tired faces on the walls, pale, sleepless, but
enlivened by feverishness. Kordetski had lain in the form of a cross in
the church all night; with daylight he appeared on the walls, and his
pleasant voice was heard at the cannon, in the curtains, and near the
gates.

"God is forming the day, my children," said he. "Blessed be His light.
There is no damage in the church, none in the buildings. The fire is
put out, no one has lost his life. Pan Mosinski, a fiery ball fell
under the cradle of your little child, and was quenched, causing no
harm. Give thanks to the Most Holy Lady; repay her."

"May Her name be blessed," said Mosinski; "I serve as I can."

The prior went farther.

It had become bright day when he stood near Charnyetski and Kmita. He
did not see Kmita; for he had crawled to the other side to examine the
woodwork, which a Swedish ball had harmed somewhat. The prior asked
straightway,--

"But where is Babinich? Is he not sleeping?"

"I, sleep in such a night as this!" answered Pan Andrei, climbing up on
the wall. "I should have no conscience. Better watch as an orderly of
the Most Holy Lady."

"Better, better, faithful servant!" answered Kordetski.

Pan Andrei saw at that moment a faint Swedish light gleaming, and
immediately he cried,--

"Fire, there, fire! Aim! higher! at the dog-brothers!"

Kordetski smiled, seeing such zeal, and returned to the cloister to
send to the wearied men a drink made of beer with pieces of cheese
broken in it.

Half an hour later appeared women, priests, and old men of the church,
bringing steaming pots and jugs. The soldiers seized these with
alacrity, and soon was heard along all the walls eager drinking. They
praised the drink, saying,--

"We are not forgotten in the service of the Most Holy Lady. We have
good food."

"It is worse for the Swedes," added others. "It was hard for them to
cook food the past night; it will be worse the night coming."

"They have enough, the dog-faiths. They will surely give themselves and
us rest during the day. Their poor guns must be hoarse by this time
from roaring continually."

But the soldiers were mistaken, for the day was not to bring rest When,
in the morning, officers coming with the reports informed Miller that
the result of the night's cannonading was nothing, that in fact the
night had brought the Swedes a considerable loss in men, the general
was stubborn and gave command to continue cannonading. "They will grow
tired at last," said he to the Prince of Hesse.

"This is an immense outlay of powder," answered that officer.

"But they burn powder too?"

"They must have endless supplies of saltpetre and sulphur, and we shall
give them charcoal ourselves, if we are able to burn even one booth. In
the night I went near the walls, and in spite of the thunder, I heard a
mill clearly, that must be a powder-mill."

"I will give orders to cannonade as fiercely as yesterday, till sunset.
We will rest for the night. We shall see if an embassy does not come
out."

"Your worthiness knows that they have sent one to Wittemberg?"

"I know; I will send too for the largest cannons. If it is impossible
to frighten the monks or to raise a fire inside the fortress, we must
make a breach."

"I hope, your worthiness, that the field-marshal will approve the
siege."

"The field-marshal knows of my intention, and he has said nothing,"
replied Miller, dryly. "If failure pursues me still farther, the
field-marshal will give censure instead of approval, and will not fail
to lay all the blame at my door. The king will say he is right,--I know
that. I have suffered not a little from the field-marshal's sullen
humor, just as if 'tis my fault that he, as the Italians state, is
consumed by _mal francese_."

"That they will throw the blame on you I doubt not, especially when it
appears that Sadovich is right."

"How right? Sadovich speaks for those monks as if he were hired by
them. What does he say?"

"He says that these shots will be heard through the whole country, from
the Carpathians to the Baltic."

"Let the king command in such case to tear the skin from Count Veyhard
and send it as an offering to the cloister; for he it is who instigated
to this siege."

Here Miller seized his head.

"But it is necessary to finish at a blow. It seems to me, something
tells me, that in the night they will send some one to negotiate;
meanwhile fire after fire!"

The day passed then as the day previous, full of thunder, smoke, and
flames. Many such were to pass yet over Yasna Gora. But the defenders
quenched the conflagrations and cannonaded no less bravely. One half
the soldiers went to rest, the other half were on the walls at the
guns.

The people began to grow accustomed to the unbroken roar, especially
when convinced that no great damage was done. Faith strengthened the
less experienced; but among them were old soldiers, acquainted with
war, who performed their service as a trade. These gave comfort to the
villagers.

Soroka acquired much consideration among them; for, having spent a
great part of his life in war, he was as indifferent to its uproar as
an old innkeeper to the shouts of carousers. In the evening when the
guns had grown silent he told his comrades of the siege of Zbaraj. He
had not been there in person, but he knew of it minutely from soldiers
who had gone through that siege and had told him.

"There rolled on Cossacks, Tartars, and Turks, so many that there were
more under-cooks there than all the Swedes that are here. And still our
people did not yield to them. Besides, evil spirits have no power here;
but there it was only Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that the devils did
not help the ruffians; the rest of the time they terrified our people
whole nights. They sent Death to the breastworks to appear to the
soldiers and take from them courage for battle. I know this from a man
who saw Death himself."

"Did he see her?" asked with curiosity peasants gathering around the
sergeant.

"With his own eyes. He was going from digging a well; for water was
lacking, and what was in the ponds smelt badly. He was going, going,
till he saw walking in front of him some kind of figure in a black
mantle."

"In a black, not in a white one?"

"In black; in war Death dresses in black. It was growing dark, the
soldier came up. 'Who is here?' inquired he--no answer. Then he pulled
the mantle, looked, and saw a skeleton. 'But what art thou here for?'
asked the soldier. 'I am Death,' was the answer; 'and I am coming for
thee in a week.' The soldier thought that was bad. 'Why,' asked he, 'in
a week, and not sooner? Art thou not free to come sooner?' The other
said: 'I can do nothing before a week, for such is the order.'"

"The soldier thought to himself: 'That is hard; but if she can do
nothing to me now, I'll pay her what I owe.' Winding Death up in the
mantle, he began to beat her bones on the pebbles; but she cried and
begged: 'I'll come in two weeks!' 'Impossible.' 'In three, four, ten,
when the siege is over; a year, two, fifteen--' 'Impossible.' 'I'll
come in fifty years.' The soldier was pleased, for he was then fifty,
and thought: 'A hundred years is enough; I'll let her go.' The man is
living this minute, and well; he goes to a battle as to a dance, for
what does he care?"

"But if he had been frightened, it would have been all over with him?"

"The worst is to fear Death," said Soroka, with importance. "This
soldier did good to others too; for after he had beaten Death, he hurt
her so that she was fainting for three days, and during that time no
one fell in camp, though sorties were made."

"But we never go out at night against the Swedes."

"We haven't the head for it," answered Soroka.

The last question and answer were heard by Kmita, who was standing not
far away, and he struck his head. Then he looked at the Swedish
trenches. It was already night. At the trenches for an hour past deep
silence had reigned. The wearied soldiers were seemingly sleeping at
the guns.

At two cannon-shots' distance gleamed a number of fires; but at the
trenches themselves was thick darkness.

"That will not enter their heads, nor the suspicion of it, and they
cannot suppose it," whispered Kmita to himself.

He went straight to Charnyetski, who, sitting at the gun-carriage, was
reading his rosary, and striking one foot against the other, for both
feet were cold.

"Cold," said he, seeing Kmita; "and my head is heavy from the thunder
of two days and one night. In my ears there is continual ringing."

"In whose head would it not ring from such uproars? But to-day we shall
rest. They have gone to sleep for good. It would be possible to
surprise them like a bear in a den; I know not whether guns would rouse
them."

"Oh," said Charnyetski, raising his head, "of what are you thinking?"

"I am thinking of Zbaraj, how the besieged inflicted with sorties more
than one great defeat on the ruffians."

"You are thinking of blood, like a wolf in the night."

"By the living God and his wounds, let us make a sortie! We will cut
down men, spike guns! They expect no attack."

Charnyetski sprang to his feet.

"And in the morning they will go wild. They imagine, perhaps, that they
have frightened us enough and we are thinking of surrender; they will
get their answer. As I love God, 'tis a splendid idea, a real knightly
deed! That should have come to my head too. But it is needful to tell
all to Kordetski, for he is commander."

They went.

Kordetski was taking counsel in the chamber with Zamoyski. When he
heard steps, he raised his voice and pushing a candle to one side,
inquired,--

"Who is coming? Is there anything new?"

"It is I, Charnyetski," replied Pan Pyotr, "with me is Babinich;
neither of us can sleep. We have a terrible odor of the Swedes. This
Babinich, father, has a restless head and cannot stay in one place. He
is boring me, boring; for he wants terribly to go to the Swedes beyond
the walls to ask them if they will fire to-morrow also, or give us and
themselves time to breathe."

"How is that?" inquired the prior, not concealing his astonishment
"Babinich wants to make a sortie from the fortress?"

"In company, in company," answered Charnyetski, hurriedly, "with me and
some others. They, it seems, are sleeping like dead men at the
trenches; there is no fire visible, no sentries to be seen. They trust
over much in our weakness."

"We will spike the guns," said Kmita.

"Give that Babinich this way!" exclaimed Zamoyski; "let me embrace him!
The sting is itching, O hornet! thou wouldst gladly sting even at
night. This is a great undertaking, which may have the finest results.
God gave us only one Lithuanian, but that one an enraged and biting
beast. I applaud the design; no one here will find fault with it. I am
ready to go myself."

Kordetski at first was alarmed, for he feared bloodshed, especially
when his own life was not exposed; after he had examined the idea more
closely, he recognized it as worthy of the defenders.

"Let me pray," said he. And kneeling before the image of the Mother of
God, he prayed a while, with outspread arms, and then rose with serene
face.

"Pray you as well," said he; "and then go."

A quarter of an hour later the four went out and repaired to the walls.
The trenches in the distance were sleeping. The night was very dark.

"How many men will you take?" asked Kordetski of Kmita.

"I?" answered Pan Andrei, in surprise. "I am not leader, and I do not
know the place so well as Pan Charnyetski. I will go with my sabre, but
let Charnyetski lead the men, and me with the others; I only wish to
have my Soroka go, for he can hew terribly."

This answer pleased both Charnyetski and the prior, for they saw in it
clear proof of submission. They set about the affair briskly. Men were
selected, the greatest silence was enjoined, and they began to remove
the beams, stones, and brick from the passage in the wall.

This labor lasted about an hour. At length the opening was ready, and
the men began to dive into the narrow jaws. They had sabres, pistols,
guns, and some, namely peasants, had scythes with points downward,--a
weapon with which they were best acquainted.

When outside the wall they organized; Charnyetski stood at the head of
the party, Kmita at the flank; and they moved along the ditch silently,
restraining the breath in their breasts, like wolves stealing up to a
sheepfold.

Still, at times a scythe struck a scythe, at times a stone gritted
under a foot, and by those noises it was possible to know that they
were pushing forward unceasingly. When they had come down to the plain,
Charnyetski halted, and, not far from the enemy's trenches, left some
of his men, under command of Yanich, a Hungarian, an old, experienced
soldier; these men he commanded to lie on the ground. Charnyetski
himself advanced somewhat to the right, and having now under foot soft
earth which gave out no echo, began to lead forward his party more
swiftly. His plan was to pass around the intrenchment, strike on the
sleeping Swedes from the rear, and push them toward the cloister
against Yanich's men. This idea was suggested by Kmita, who now
marching near him with sabre in hand, whispered,--

"The intrenchment is extended in such fashion that between it and the
main camp there is open ground. Sentries, if there are any, are before
the trenches and not on this side of it, so that we can go behind
freely, and attack them on the side from which they least expect
attack."

"That is well," said Charnyetski; "not a foot of those men should
escape."

"If any one speaks when we enter," continued Pan Andrei, "let me
answer; I can speak German as well as Polish; they will think that some
one is coming from Miller, from the camp."

"If only there are no sentries behind the intrenchments."

"Even if there are, we shall spring on in a moment; before they can
understand who and what, we shall have them down."

"It is time to turn, the end of the trench can be seen," said
Charnyetski; and turning he called softly, "To the right, to the
right!"

The silent line began to bend. That moment the moon lighted a bank of
clouds somewhat, and it grew clearer. The advancing men saw an empty
space in the rear of the trench.

As Kmita had foreseen, there were no sentries whatever on that space;
for why should the Swedes station sentries between their trenches and
their own army, stationed in the rear of the trenches. The most
sharp-sighted leader could not suspect danger from that side.

At that moment Charnyetski said in the lowest whisper; "Tents are
now visible. And in two of them are lights. People are still awake
there,--surely officers. Entrance from the rear must be easy."

"Evidently," answered Kmita. "Over that road they draw cannon, and by
it troops enter. The bank is already at hand. Have a care now that arms
do not clatter."

They had reached the elevation raised carefully with earth dug from so
many trenches. A whole line of wagons was standing there, in which
powder and balls had been brought.

But at the wagons, no man was watching; passing them, therefore, they
began to climb the embankment without trouble, as they had justly
foreseen, for it was gradual and well raised.

In this manner they went right to the tents, and with drawn weapons
stood straight in front of them. In two of the tents lights were
actually burning; therefore Kmita said to Charnyetski,--

"I will go in advance to those who are not sleeping. Wait for my
pistol, and then on the enemy!" When he had said this, he went forward.

The success of the sortie was already assured; therefore he did not try
to go in very great silence. He passed a few tents buried in darkness;
no one woke, no one inquired, "Who is there?"

The soldiers of Yasna Gora heard the squeak of his daring steps and the
beating of their own hearts. He reached the lighted tent, raised the
curtain and entered, halted at the entrance with pistol in hand and
sabre down on its strap.

He halted because the light dazzled him somewhat, for on the camp table
stood a candlestick with six arms, in which bright lights were burning.

At the table were sitting three officers, bent over plans. One of them,
sitting in the middle, was poring over these plans so intently that his
long hair lay on the white paper. Seeing some one enter, he raised his
head, and asked in a calm voice,--

"Who is there?"

"A soldier," answered Kmita.

That moment the two other officers turned their eyes toward the
entrance.

"What soldier, where from?" asked the first, who was De Fossis, the
officer who chiefly directed the siege.

"From the cloister," answered Kmita. But there was something terrible
in his voice.

De Fossis rose quickly and shaded his eyes with his hand. Kmita was
standing erect and motionless as an apparition; only the threatening
face, like the head of a predatory bird, announced sudden danger.

Still the thought, quick as lightning, rushed through the head of De
Fossis, that he might be a deserter from Yasna Gora; therefore he asked
again, but excitedly,--

"What do you want?"

"I want this!" cried Kmita; and he fired from a pistol into the very
breast of De Fossis.

With that a terrible shout and a salvo of shots was heard on the
trench. De Fossis fell as falls a pine-tree struck by lightning;
another officer rushed at Kmita with his sword, but the latter slashed
him between the eyes with his sabre, which gritted on the bone; the
third officer threw himself on the ground, wishing to slip out under
the side of the tent, but Kmita sprang at him, put his foot on his
shoulder, and nailed him to the earth with a thrust.

By this time the silence of night had turned into the day of judgment.
Wild shouts: "Slay, kill!" were mingled with howls and shrill calls of
Swedish soldiers for aid. Men bewildered from terror rushed out of the
tents, not knowing whither to turn, in what direction to flee. Some,
without noting at once whence the attack came, ran straight to the
enemy, and perished under sabres, scythes, and axes, before they had
time to cry "Quarter!" Some in the darkness stabbed their own comrades;
others unarmed, half-dressed, without caps, with hands raised upward,
stood motionless on one spot; some at last dropped on the earth among
the overturned tents. A small handful wished to defend themselves; but
a blinded throng bore them away, threw them down, and trampled them.

Groans of the dying and heart-rending prayers for quarter increased the
confusion.

When at last it grew clear from the cries that the attack had come, not
from the side of the cloister, but from the rear, just from the
direction of the Swedish army, then real desperation seized the
attacked. They judged evidently that some squadrons, allies of the
cloister, had struck on them suddenly.

Crowds of infantry began to spring out of the intrenchment and run
toward the cloister, as if they wished to find refuge within its walls.
But soon new shouts showed that they had come upon the party of the
Hungarian, Yanich, who finished them under the very fortress.

Meanwhile the cloister-men, slashing, thrusting, trampling, advanced
toward the cannons. Men with spikes ready, rushed at them immediately;
but others continued the work of death. Peasants, who would not have
stood before trained soldiers in the open field, rushed now a handful
at a crowd.

Valiant Colonel Horn, governor of Kjepitsi, endeavored to rally the
fleeing soldiers; springing into a corner of the trench, he shouted in
the darkness and waved his sword. The Swedes recognized him and began
at once to assemble; but in their tracks and with them rushed the
attackers, whom it was difficult to distinguish in the darkness.

At once was heard a terrible whistle of scythes, and the voice of Horn
ceased in a moment. The crowd of soldiers scattered as if driven apart
by a bomb. Kmita and Charnyetski rushed after them with a few people,
and cut them to pieces.

The trench was taken.

In the main camp of the Swedes trumpets sounded the alarm. Straightway
the guns of Yasna Gora gave answer, and fiery balls began to fly from
the cloister to light up the way for the home-coming men. They came
panting, bloody, like wolves who had made a slaughter in a sheepfold;
they were retreating before the approaching sound of musketeers.
Charnyetski led the van, Kmita brought up the rear.

In half an hour they reached the party left with Yanich; but he did not
answer their call; he alone had paid for the sortie with his life, for
when he rushed after some officer, his own soldiers shot him.

The party entered the cloister amid the thunder of cannon and the gleam
of flames. At the entrance the prior was waiting, and he counted them
in order as the heads were pushed in through the opening. No one was
missing save Yanich.

Two men went out for him at once, and half an hour later they brought
his body; for Kordetski wished to honor him with a fitting burial.

But the quiet of night, once broken, did not return till white day.
From the walls cannon were playing; in the Swedish positions the
greatest confusion continued. The enemy not knowing well their own
losses, not knowing whence the aggressor might come, fled from the
trenches nearest the cloister. Whole regiments wandered in despairing
disorder till morning, mistaking frequently their own for the enemy,
and firing at one another. Even in the main camp were soldiers and
officers who abandoned their tents and remained under the open sky,
awaiting the end of that ghastly night. Alarming news flew from mouth
to mouth. Some said that succor had come to the fortress, others
asserted that all the nearer intrenchments were captured.

Miller, Sadovski, the Prince of Hesse, Count Veyhard, and other
superior officers, made superhuman exertions to bring the terrified
regiments to order. At the same time the cannonade of the cloister was
answered by balls of fire, to scatter the darkness and enable fugitives
to assemble. One of the balls struck the roof of the chapel, but
striking only the edge of it, returned with rattling and crackling
toward the camp, casting a flood of flame through the air.

At last the night of tumult was ended. The cloister and the Swedish
camp became still. Morning had begun to whiten the summits of the
church, the roofs took on gradually a ruddy light, and day came.

In that hour Miller, at the head of his staff, rode to the captured
trench. They could, it is true, see him from the cloister and open
fire; but the old general cared not for that. He wished to see with his
own eyes all the injury, and count the slain. The staff followed him;
all were disturbed,--they had sorrow and seriousness in their faces.
When they reached the intrenchment, they dismounted and began to
ascend. Traces of the struggle were visible everywhere; lower down than
the guns were the overthrown tents; some were still open, empty,
silent. There were piles of bodies, especially among the tents;
half-naked corpses, mangled, with staring eyes, and with terror
stiffened in their dead eyeballs, presented a dreadful sight. Evidently
all these men had been surprised in deep sleep; some of them were
barefoot; it was a rare one who grasped his rapier in his dead hand;
almost no one wore a helmet or a cap. Some were lying in tents,
especially at the side of the entrance; these, it was apparent, had
barely succeeded in waking; others, at the sides of tents, were caught
by death at the moment when they were seeking safety in flight.
Everywhere there were many bodies, and in places such piles that it
might be thought some cataclysm of nature had killed those soldiers;
but the deep wounds in their faces and breasts, some faces blackened by
shots, so near that all the powder had not been burned, testified but
too plainly that the hand of man had caused the destruction.

Miller went higher, to the guns; they were standing dumb, spiked, no
more terrible now than logs of wood; across one of them lay hanging on
both sides the body of a gunner, almost cut in two by the terrible
sweep of a scythe. Blood had flowed over the carriage and formed a
broad pool beneath it. Miller observed everything minutely, in silence
and with frowning brow. No officer dared break that silence. For how
could they bring consolation to that aged general, who had been beaten
like a novice through his own want of care? That was not only defeat,
but shame; for the general himself had called that fortress a
hen-house, and promised to crush it between his fingers, for he had
nine thousand soldiers, and there were two hundred men in the garrison;
finally, that general was a soldier, blood and bone, and against him
were monks.

That day had a grievous beginning for Miller.

Now the infantry came up and began to carry out bodies. Four of them,
bearing on a stretcher a corpse, stopped before the general without
being ordered.

Miller looked at the stretcher and closed his eyes.

"De Fossis," said he, in a hollow voice.

Scarcely had they gone aside when others came, this time Sadovski moved
toward them and called from a distance, turning to the staff,--

"They are carrying Horn!"

But Horn was alive yet, and had before him long days of atrocious
suffering. A peasant had cut him with the very point of a scythe; but
the blow was so fearful that it opened the whole framework of his
breast. Still the wounded man retained his presence of mind. Seeing
Miller and the staff, he smiled, wished to say something, but instead
of a sound there came through his lips merely rose-colored froth; then
he began to blink, and fainted.

"Carry him to my tent," said Miller, "and let my doctor attend to him
immediately."

Then the officers heard him say to himself,--

"Horn, Horn,--I saw him last night in a dream,--just in the evening. A
terrible thing, beyond comprehension!"

And fixing his eyes on the ground, he dropped into deep thought; all at
once he was roused from his revery by the voice of Sadovski, who cried:
"General! look there, there--the cloister!"

Miller looked and was astonished. It was broad day and clear, only fogs
were hanging over the earth; but the sky was clear and blushing from
the light of the morning. A white fog hid the summit itself of Yasna
Gora, and according to the usual order of things ought to hide the
church, but by a peculiar phenomenon the church, with the tower,
was raised, not only above the cliff, but above the fog, high,
high,--precisely as if it had separated from its foundations and was
hanging in the blue under the dome of the sky. The cries of the
soldiers announced that they too saw the phenomenon.

"That fog deceives the eye!" said Miller.

"The fog is lying under the church," answered Sadovski.

"It is a wonderful thing; but that church is ten times higher than it
was yesterday, and hangs in the air," said the Prince of Hesse.

"It is going yet! higher, higher!" cried the soldiers. "It will vanish
from the eye!"

In fact the fog hanging on the cliff began to rise toward the sky in
the form of an immense pillar of smoke; the church planted, as it were,
on the summit of that pillar, seemed to rise higher each instant; at
the same time when it was far up, as high as the clouds themselves, it
was veiled more and more with vapor; you would have said that it was
melting, liquefying; it became more indistinct, and at last vanished
altogether.

Miller turned to the officers, and in his eyes were depicted
astonishment and a superstitious dread.

"I acknowledge, gentlemen," said he, "that I have never seen such a
thing in my life, altogether opposed to nature: it must be the
enchantment of papists."

"I have heard," said Sadovski, "soldiers crying out, 'How can you fire
at such a fortress?' In truth I know not how."

"But what is there now?" cried the Prince of Hesse. "Is that church in
the fog, or is it gone?"

"Though this were an ordinary phenomenon of nature, in any event it
forebodes us no good. See, gentlemen, from the time that we came here
we have not advanced one step."

"If," answered Sadovski, "we had only not advanced; but to tell the
truth, we have suffered defeat after defeat, and last night was the
worst. The soldiers losing willingness lose courage, and will begin to
be negligent. You have no idea of what they say in the regiments.
Besides, wonderful things take place; for instance, for a certain time
no man can go alone, or even two men, out of the camp; whoever does so
is as if he had fallen through the earth, as if wolves were prowling
around Chenstohova. I sent myself, not long since, a banneret and three
men to Vyelunie for warm clothing, and from that day, no tidings of
them."

"It will be worse when winter comes; even now the nights are
unendurable," added the Prince of Hesse.

"The mist is growing thinner!" said Miller, on a sudden.

In fact a breeze rose and began to blow away the vapors. In the bundles
of fog something began to quiver; finally the sun rose and the air grew
transparent. The walls of the cloister were outlined faintly, then out
came the church and the cloister. Everything was in its old place. The
fortress was quiet and still, as if people were not living in it.

"General," said the Prince of Hesse, with energy, "try negotiations
again, it is needful to finish at once."

"But if negotiations lead to nothing, do you, gentlemen, advise to give
up the siege?" asked Miller, gloomily.

The officers were silent. After a while Sadovski said,--

"Your worthiness knows best that it will come to that."

"I know," answered Miller, haughtily, "and I say this only to you, that
I curse the day and the hour in which I came hither, as well as the
counsellor who persuaded me to this siege [here he pierced Count
Veyhard with his glance]. You know, however, after what has happened,
that I shall not withdraw until I turn this cursed fortress into a heap
of ruins, or fall myself."

Displeasure was reflected in the face of the Prince of Hesse. He had
never respected Miller over-much; hence he considered this mere
military braggadocio ill-timed, in view of the captured trenches, the
corpses, and the spiked cannon. He turned to him then and answered with
evident sarcasm,--

"General, you are not able to promise that; for you would withdraw in
view of the first command of the king, or of Marshal Wittemberg.
Sometimes also circumstances are able to command not worse than kings
and marshals."

Miller wrinkled his heavy brows, seeing which Count Veyhard said
hurriedly,--

"Meanwhile we will try negotiations. They will yield; it cannot be
otherwise."

The rest of his words were drowned by the rejoicing sound of bells,
summoning to early Mass in the church of Yasna Gora. The general with
his staff rode away slowly toward Chenstohova; but had not reached
headquarters when an officer rushed up on a foaming horse.

"He is from Marshal Wittemberg!" said Miller.

The officer handed him a letter. The general broke the seal hurriedly,
and running over the letter quickly with his eyes, said with confusion
in his countenance,--

"No! This is from Poznan. Evil tidings. In Great Poland the nobles are
rising, the people are joining them. At the head of the movement is
Krishtof Jegotski, who wants to march to the aid of Chenstohova."

"I foretold that these shots would be heard from the Carpathians to the
Baltic," muttered Sadovski. "With this people change is sudden. You do
not know the Poles yet; you will discover them later."

"Well! we shall know them," answered Miller. "I prefer an open enemy to
a false ally. They yielded of their own accord, and now they are taking
arms. Well! they will know our weapons."

"And we theirs," blurted out Sadovski. "General, let us finish
negotiations with Chenstohova; let us agree to any capitulation. It is
not a question of the fortress, but of the rule of his Royal Grace in
this country."

"The monks will capitulate," said Count Veyhard. "Today or to-morrow
they will yield."

So they conversed with one another; but in the cloister after early
Mass the joy was unbounded. Those who had not gone out in the sortie
asked those who had how everything had happened. Those who had taken
part boasted greatly, glorifying their own bravery and the defeat they
had given the enemy.

Among the priests and women curiosity became paramount. White habits
and women's robes covered the wall. It was a beautiful and gladsome
day. The women gathered around Charnyetski, crying "Our deliverer! our
guardian!" He defended himself particularly when they wanted to kiss
his hands, and pointing to Kmita, said,--

"Thank him too. He is Babinich,[1] but no old woman. He will not let
his hands be Kissed, for there is blood on them yet; but if any of the
younger would like to kiss him on the lips, I think that he would not
flinch."

The younger women did in fact cast modest and at the same time enticing
glances at Pan Andrei, admiring his splendid beauty; but he did not
answer with his eyes to those dumb questions, for the sight of these
maidens reminded him of Olenka.

"Oh, my poor girl!" thought he, "if you only knew that in the service
of the Most Holy Lady I am opposing those enemies whom formerly I
served to my sorrow!"

And he promised himself that the moment the siege was over he would
write to her in Kyedani, and hurry off Soroka with the letter. "And I
shall send her not empty words and promises; for now deeds are behind
me, which without empty boasting, but accurately, I shall describe in
the letter. Let her know that she has done this, let her be comforted."

And he consoled himself with this thought so much that he did not even
notice how the maidens said to one another, in departing,--

"He is a good warrior; but it is clear that he looks only to battle,
and is an unsocial grumbler."



                              CHAPTER II.


According to the wish of his officers, Miller began negotiations again.
There came to the cloister from the Swedish camp a well-known Polish
noble, respected for his age and his eloquence. They received him
graciously on Yasna Gora, judging that only in seeming and through
constraint would he argue for surrender, but in reality would add to
their courage and confirm the news, which had broken through the
besieged wall, of the rising in Great Poland; of the dislike of the
quarter troops to Sweden; of the negotiations of Yan Kazimir with the
Cossacks, who, as it were, seemed willing to return to obedience;
finally, of the tremendous declaration of the Khan of the Tartars, that
he was marching with aid to the vanquished king, all of whose enemies
he would pursue with fire and sword.

But how the monks were mistaken! The personage brought indeed a large
bundle of news,--but news that was appalling, news to cool the most
fervent zeal, to crush the most invincible resolution, stagger the most
ardent faith.

The priests and the nobles gathered around him in the council chamber,
in the midst of silence and attention; from his lips sincerity itself
seemed to flow, and pain for the fate of the country. He placed his
hand frequently on his white head as if wishing to restrain an outburst
of despair; he gazed on the crucifix; he had tears in his eyes, and in
slow, broken accents, he uttered the following words:--

"Ah, what times the suffering country has lived to! All help is past:
it is incumbent to yield to the King of the Swedes. For whom in reality
have you, revered fathers, and you lords brothers, the nobles, seized
your swords? For whom are you sparing neither watching nor toil, nor
suffering nor blood? For whom, through resistance,--unfortunately
vain,--are you exposing yourselves and holy places to the terrible
vengeance of the invincible legions of Sweden? Is it for Yan Kazimir?
But he has already disregarded our kingdom. Do you not know that he has
already made his choice, and preferring wealth, joyous feasts; and
peaceful delights to a troublesome throne, has abdicated in favor of
Karl Gustav? You are not willing to leave him, but he has left you, you
are unwilling to break your oath, he has broken it; you are ready to
die for him, but he cares not for you nor for any of us. Our lawful
king now is Karl Gustav! Be careful, then, lest you draw on your heads,
not merely anger, vengeance, and ruin, but sin before heaven, the
cross, and the Most Holy Lady; for you are raising insolent hands, not
against invaders, but against your own king."

These words were received in silence, as though death were flying
through that chamber. What could be more terrible than news of the
abdication of Yan Kazimir? It was in truth news monstrously improbable;
but that old noble gave it there in presence of the cross, in presence
of the image of Mary, and with tears in his eyes.

But if it were true, further resistance was in fact madness. The nobles
covered their eyes with their hands, the monks pulled their cowls over
their heads, and silence, as of the grave, continued unbroken; but
Kordetski, the prior, began to whisper earnest prayer with his pallid
lips, and his eyes, calm, deep, clear, and piercing, were fixed on the
speaker immovably.

The noble felt that inquiring glance, was ill at ease and oppressed by
it; he wished to preserve the marks of importance, benignity,
compassionate virtue, good wishes, but could not; he began to cast
restless glances on the other fathers, and after a while he spoke
further:--

"It is the worst thing to inflame stubbornness by a long abuse of
patience. The result of your resistance will be the destruction of this
holy church, and the infliction on you--God avert it!--of a terrible
and cruel rule, which you will be forced to obey. Aversion to the world
and avoidance of its questions are the weapons of monks. What have you
to do with the uproar of war,--you, whom the precepts of your order
call to retirement and silence? My brothers, revered and most beloved
fathers! do not take on your hearts, do not take on your consciences,
such a terrible responsibility. It was not you who built this sacred
retreat, not for you alone must it serve! Permit that it flourish, and
that it bless this land for long ages, so that our sons and grandsons
may rejoice in it."

Here the traitor opened his arms and fell into tears. The nobles were
silent, the fathers were silent; doubt had seized all. Their hearts
were tortured, and despair was at hand; the memory of baffled and
useless endeavors weighed on their minds like lead.

"I am waiting for your answer, fathers," said the venerable traitor,
dropping his head on his breast.

Kordetski now rose, and with a voice in which there was not the least
hesitation or doubt, spoke as if with the vision of a prophet,--

"Your statement that Yan Kazimir has abandoned us, has abdicated and
transferred his rights to Karl Gustav, is a calumny. Hope has entered
the heart of our banished king, and never has he toiled more zealously
than he is toiling at this moment to secure the salvation of the
country, to secure his throne, and bring us aid in oppression."

The mask fell in an instant from the face of the traitor; malignity and
deceit were reflected in it as clearly as if dragons had crept out at
once from the dens of his soul, in which till that moment they had held
themselves hidden.

"Whence this intelligence, whence this certainty?" inquired he.

"Whence?" answered the prior, pointing to a great crucifix hanging on
the wall. "Go! place your finger on the pierced feet of Christ, and
repeat what you have told us."

The traitor began to bend as if under the crushing of an iron hand, and
a new dragon, terror, crawled forth to his face.

Kordetski, the prior, stood lordly, terrible as Moses; rays seemed to
shoot from his temples.

"Go, repeat!" said he, without lowering his hand, in a voice so
powerful that the shaken arches of the council chamber trembled and
echoed as if in fear,--"Go, repeat!"

A moment of silence followed; at last the stifled voice of the visitor
was heard,--

"I wash my hands--"

"Like Pilate!" finished Kordetski.

The traitor rose and walked out of the room. He hurried through the
yard of the cloister, and when he found himself outside the gate, he
began to run, almost as if something were hunting him from the cloister
to the Swedes.

Zamoyski went to Charnyetski and Kmita, who had not been in the hall,
to tell them what had happened.

"Did that envoy bring any good?" asked Charnyetski; "he had an
honest face."

"God guard us from such honest men!" answered Zamoyski; "he brought
doubt and temptation."

"What did he say?" asked Kmita, raising a little the lighted match
which he was holding in his hand.

"He spoke like a hired traitor."

"That is why he hastens so now, I suppose," said Charnyetski. "See! he
is running with almost full speed to the Swedish camp. Oh, I would send
a ball after him!"

"A good thing!" said Kmita, and he put the match to the cannon.

The thunder of the gun was heard before Zamoyski and Charnyetski could
see what had happened. Zamoyski caught his head.

"In God's name!" cried he, "what have you done?--he was an envoy."

"I have done ill!" answered Kmita; "for I missed. He is on his feet
again and hastens farther. Oh! why did it go over him?" Here he turned
to Zamoyski. "Though I had hit him in the loins, they could not have
proved that we fired at him purposely, and God knows I could not hold
the match in my fingers; it came down of itself. Never should I have
fired at an envoy who was a Swede, but at sight of Polish traitors my
entrails revolt."

"Oh, curb yourself; for there would be trouble, and they would be ready
to injure our envoys."

But Charnyetski was content in his soul; for Kmita heard him mutter,
"At least that traitor will be sure not to come on an embassy again."

This did not escape the ear of Zamoyski, for he answered: "If not this
one, others will be found; and do you, gentlemen, make no opposition to
their negotiations, do not interrupt them of your own will; for the
more they drag on, the more it results to our profit. Succor, if God
sends it, will have time to assemble, and a hard winter is coming,
making the siege more and more difficult. Delay is loss for the enemy,
but brings profit to us."

Zamoyski then went to the chamber, where, after the envoy's departure,
consultation was still going on. The words of the traitor had startled
men; minds and souls were excited. They did not believe, it is true, in
the abdication of Yan Kazimir; but the envoy had held up to their
vision the power of the Swedes, which previous days of success had
permitted them to forget. Now it confronted their minds with all that
terror before which towns and fortresses not such as theirs had been
frightened,--Poznan, Warsaw, Cracow, not counting the multitude of
castles which had opened their gates to the conqueror; how could Yasna
Gora defend itself in a general deluge of defeats?

"We shall defend ourselves a week longer, two, three," thought to
themselves some of the nobles and some of the monks; "but what farther,
what end will there be to these efforts?"

The whole country was like a ship already deep in the abyss, and that
cloister was peering up like the top of a mast through the waves. Could
those wrecked ones, clinging to the mast, think not merely of saving
themselves, but of raising that vessel from under the ocean?

According to man's calculations they could not, and still, at the
moment when Zamoyski re-entered the hall, Kordetski was saying,--

"My brothers! if you sleep not, neither do I sleep. When you are
imploring our Patroness for rescue, I too am praying. Weariness, toil,
weakness, cling to my bones as well as to yours; responsibility in like
manner weighs upon me--nay, more perhaps, than upon you. Why have I
faith while you seem in doubt? Enter into yourselves; or is it that
your eyes, blinded by earthly power, see not a power greater than the
Swedes? Or think you that no defence will suffice, that no hand can
overcome that preponderance? If that is the case your thoughts are
sinful, and you blaspheme against the mercy of God, against the
all-might of our Lord, against the power of that Patroness whose
servants you call yourselves. Who of you will dare to say that that
Most Holy Queen cannot shield us and send victory? Therefore let us
beseech her, let us implore night and day, till by our endurance, our
humility, our tears, our sacrifice of body and health, we soften her
heart, and pray away our previous sins."

"Father," said one of the nobles, "it is not a question for us of our
lives or of our wives and children; but we tremble at the thought of
the insults which may be put on the image, should the enemy capture the
fortress by storm."

"And we do not wish to take on ourselves the responsibility," added
another.

"For no one has a right to take it, not even the prior," added a third.

And the opposition increased, and gained boldness, all the more since
many monks maintained silence. The prior, instead of answering
directly, began to pray.

"O Mother of Thy only Son!" said he, raising his hands and his eyes
toward heaven, "if Thou hast visited us so that in Thy capital we
should give an example to others of endurance, of bravery, of
faithfulness to Thee, to the country, to the king,--if Thou hast chosen
this place in order to rouse by it the consciences of men and save the
whole country, have mercy on those who desire to restrain, to stop the
fountain of Thy grace, to hinder Thy miracles, and resist Thy holy
will." Here he remained a moment in ecstasy, and then turned to the
monks and nobles: "What man will take on his shoulders this
responsibility,--the responsibility of stopping the miracles of Mary
Her grace. Her salvation for this kingdom and the Catholic faith?"

"In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!" answered a number of
voices, "God preserve us from that!"

"Such a man will not be found!" cried Zamoyski.

And those of the monks in whose hearts doubt had been plunging began to
beat their breasts, for no small fear had now seized them; and none of
the councillors thought of surrender that evening.

But though the hearts of the older men were strengthened, the
destructive planting of that hireling had given forth fruits of poison.

News of the abdication of Yan Kazimir and the improbability of succor
went from the nobles to the women, from the women to the servants; the
servants spread it among the soldiers, on whom it made the very worst
impression. The peasants were astonished least of all; but experienced
soldiers, accustomed to calculate the turns of war in soldier fashion
only, began to assemble and explain to one another the impossibility of
further defence, complaining of the stubbornness of monks, who did not
understand the position; and, finally, to conspire and talk in secret.

A certain gunner, a German of suspected fidelity, proposed that the
soldiers themselves take the matter in hand, and come to an
understanding with the Swedes touching the surrender of the fortress.
Others caught at this idea; but there were those who not only opposed
the treason resolutely, but informed Kordetski of it without delay.

Kordetski, who knew how to join with the firmest trust in the powers of
heaven the greatest earthly adroitness and caution, destroyed the
secretly spreading treason in its inception.

First of all he expelled from the fortress the leaders of the treason,
and at the head of them that gunner, having no fear whatever of what
they could inform the Swedes regarding the state of the fortress and
its weak sides; then, doubling the monthly wages of the garrison, he
took from them an oath to defend the cloister to the last drop of their
blood.

But he redoubled also his watchfulness, resolving to look with more
care to the paid soldiers, as well as the nobles, and even his own
monks. The older fathers were detailed to the night choirs; the
younger, besides the service of God, were obliged to render service on
the walls.

Next day a review of the infantry was held. To each bastion one noble
with his servants, ten monks and two reliable gunners were detailed.
All these were bound to watch, night and day, the places confided to
them.

Pan Mosinski took his place at the northeastern bastion; he was a good
soldier, the man whose little child had survived in a miraculous
manner, though a bomb fell near its cradle. With him Father Hilary
Slavoshevski kept guard. On the western bastion was Father Myeletski,
of the nobles Pan Mikolai Kryshtoporski, a man surly and abrupt in
speech, but of unterrified valor. The southeastern bastion was occupied
by Charnyetski and Kmita, and with them was Father Adam Stypulski, who
had formerly been a hussar. He, when the need came, tucked up his
habit, aimed cannon, and took no more heed of the balls flying over his
head than did the old sergeant Soroka. Finally, to the southwestern
bastion were appointed Pan Skorjevski and Father Daniel Ryhtalski, who
were distinguished by this, that both could abstain from sleep two and
three nights in succession without harm to their health or their
strength.

Fathers Dobrosh and Malahovski were appointed over the sentries.
Persons unfitted for fighting were appointed to the roofs. The armory
and all military implements Father Lyassota took under his care; after
Father Dobrosh, he took also the office of master of the fires. In the
night he had to illuminate the walls so that infantry of the enemy
might not approach them. He arranged sockets and iron-holders on the
towers, on which flamed at night torches and lights.

In fact, the whole tower looked every night like one gigantic torch. It
is true that this lightened cannonading for the Swedes; but it might
serve as a sign that the fortress was holding out yet, if, perchance,
some army should march to relieve the besieged.

So then not only had designs of surrender crept apart into nothing, but
the besieged turned with still greater zeal to defence. Next morning
the prior walked along the walls, like a shepherd through a sheepfold,
saw that everything was right, smiled kindly, praised the chiefs and
the soldiers, and coming to Charnyetski, said with radiant face,--

"Our beloved leader, Pan Zamoyski, rejoices equally with me, for he
says that we are now twice as strong as at first. A new spirit has
entered men's hearts, the grace of the Most Holy Lady will do the rest;
but meanwhile I will take to negotiations again. We will delay and put
off, for by such means the blood of people will be spared."

"Oh, revered father!" said Kmita, "what good are negotiations? Loss of
time! Better another sortie to-night, and we will cut up those dogs."

Kordetski (for he was in good humor) smiled as a mother smiles at a
wayward child; then he raised a band of straw lying near the gun, and
pretended to strike Pan Andrei with it on the shoulders: "And you will
interfere here, you Lithuanian plague; you will lap blood as a wolf,
and give an example of disobedience; here it is for you, here it is for
you!"

Kmita, delighted as a schoolboy, dodged to the right and to the left,
and as if teasing purposely, repeated: "Kill the Swedes! kill, kill,
kill!"

And so they gave comfort to one another, having ardent souls devoted to
the country. But Kordetski did not omit negotiations, seeing that
Miller desired them earnestly and caught after every pretext. This
desire pleased Kordetski, for he divined, without trouble, that it
could not be going well with the enemy if he was so anxious to finish.

Days passed then, one after another, in which guns and muskets were not
indeed silent, but pens were working mainly. In this way the siege was
prolonged, and winter was coming harsher and harsher. On the Carpathian
summits clouds hatched in their precipitous nests storms, frost, and
snows, and then came forth on the country, leading their icy
descendants. At night the Swedes cowered around fires, choosing to die
from the balls of the cloister rather than freeze.

A hard winter had rendered difficult the digging of trenches and the
making of mines. There was no progress in the siege. In the mouths
not merely of officers, but of the whole army, there was only one
word,--"negociations."

The priests feigned at first a desire to surrender. Father Dobrosh and
the learned priest Sebastyan Stavitski came to Miller as envoys. They
gave him some hope of agreement. He had barely heard this when he
opened his arms and was ready to seize them with joy to his embraces.
It was no longer a question of Chenstohova, but of the whole country.
The surrender of Yasna Gora would have removed the last hope of the
patriots, and pushed the Commonwealth finally into the arms of the King
of Sweden; while, on the contrary, resistance, and that a victorious
resistance, might change hearts and call out a terrible new war. Signs
were not wanting. Miller knew this, felt what he had undertaken, what a
terrible responsibility was weighing on him; he knew that either the
favor of the king, with the baton of a marshal, honors, a title, were
waiting for him, or final fall. Since he had begun to convince himself
that he could not crack this "nut," he received the priests with
unheard-of honor, as if they were embassadors from the Emperor of
Germany or the Sultan. He invited them to a feast, he drank to their
honor, and also to the health of the prior and Pan Zamoyski; he gave
them fish for the cloister; finally, he offered conditions of surrender
so gracious that he did not doubt for a moment that they would be
accepted in haste.

The fathers thanked him humbly, as beseemed monks; they took the paper
and went their way. Miller promised the opening of the gates at eight
of the following morning. Joy indescribable reigned in the camp of the
Swedes. The soldiers left the trenches, approached the walls, and began
to address the besieged.

But it was announced from the cloister that in an affair of such weight
the prior must consult the whole Congregation; the monks therefore
begged for one day's delay. Miller consented without hesitation.
Meanwhile they were counselling in the chamber till late at night.

Though Miller was an old and trained warrior, though there was not,
perhaps, in the whole Swedish army a general who had conducted more
negotiations with various places than that Poliorcetes, still his heart
beat unquietly when next morning he saw two white habits approaching
his quarters.

They were not the same fathers. First walked Father Bleshynski, a
reader of philosophy, bearing a sealed letter; after him came Father
Malahovski, with hands crossed on his breast, with drooping head and a
face slightly pale.

The general received them surrounded by his staff and all his noted
colonels; and when he had answered politely the submissive bow of
Father Bleshynski, he took the letter from his hand hastily and began
to read.

But all at once his face changed terribly: a wave of blood flew to his
head; his eyes were bursting forth, his neck grew thick, and terrible
anger raised the hair under his wig. For a while speech was taken from
him; he only indicated with his hand the letter to the Prince of Hesse,
who ran over it with his eyes, and turning to the colonels, said
calmly,--

"The monks declare only this much, that they cannot renounce Yan
Kazimir before the primate proclaims a new king; or speaking in other
words, they will not recognize Karl Gustav."

Here the Prince of Hesse laughed. Sadovski fixed a jeering glance on
Miller, and Count Veyhard began to pluck his own beard from rage. A
terrible murmur of excitement rose among those present.

Then Miller struck his palms on his knees and cried,--

"Guards, guards!"

The mustached faces of four musketeers showed themselves quickly in the
door.

"Take those shaven sticks," cried the general, "and confine them! And
Pan Sadovski, do you trumpet for me under the cloister, that if they
open fire from one cannon on the walls, I will hang these two monks the
next moment."

The two priests were led out amid ridicule and the scoffing of
soldiers. The musketeers put their own caps on the priests' heads, or
rather on their faces to cover their eyes, and led them of purpose to
various obstacles. When either of the priests stumbled or fell, an
outburst of laughter was heard in the crowds; but the fallen man they
raised with the butts of muskets, and pretending to support, they
pushed him by the loins and the shoulders. Some threw horse-dung at the
priests; others took snow and rubbed it on their shaven crowns, or let
it roll down on their habits. The soldiers tore strings from trumpets,
and tying one end to the neck of each priest, held the other, and
imitating men taking cattle to a fair, called out the prices.

Both fathers walked on in silence, with hands crossed on their breasts
and prayers on their lips. Finally, trembling from cold and insulted,
they were enclosed in a barn; around the place guards armed with
muskets were stationed.

Miller's command, or rather his threat, was trumpeted under the
cloister walls.

The fathers were frightened, and the troops were benumbed from the
threat. The cannon were silent; a council was assembled, they knew not
what to do. To leave the fathers in cruel hands was impossible; and if
they sent others, Miller would detain them as well. A few hours later
he himself sent a messenger, asking what the monks thought of doing.

They answered that until the fathers were freed no negotiations could
take place; for how could the monks believe that the general would
observe conditions with them if, despite the chief law of nations, he
imprisoned envoys whose sacredness even barbarians respect?

To this declaration there was no ready answer; hence terrible
uncertainty weighed on the cloister and froze the zeal of its
defenders.

The Swedish army dug new trenches in haste, filled baskets with earth,
planted cannon; insolent soldiers pushed forward to within half a
musket-shot of the walls. They threatened the church, the defenders;
half-drunken soldiers shouted, raising their hands toward the walls,
"Surrender the cloister, or you will see your monks hanging!"

Others blasphemed terribly against the Mother of God and the Catholic
faith. The besieged, out of respect to the life of the fathers, had to
listen with patience. Rage stopped the breath in Kmita's breast. He
tore the hair on his head, the clothing on his breast, and wringing his
hands, said to Charnyetski,--

"I asked, 'Of what use is negotiation with criminals?' Now stand and
suffer, while they are crawling into our eyes and blaspheming! Mother
of God, have mercy on me, and give me patience! By the living God, they
will begin soon to climb the walls! Hold me, chain me like a murderer,
for I shall not contain myself."

But the Swedes came ever nearer, blaspheming more boldly.

Meanwhile a fresh event brought the besieged to despair. Stefan
Charnyetski in surrendering Cracow had obtained the condition of going
out with all his troops, and remaining with them in Silesia till the
end of the war. Seven hundred infantry of those troops of the royal
guard, under command of Colonel Wolf, were near the boundary, and
trusting in stipulations, were not on their guard. Count Veyhard
persuaded Miller to capture those men.

Miller sent Count Veyhard himself, with two thousand cavalry, who
crossing the boundary at night attacked those troops during sleep, and
captured them to the last man. When they were brought to the Swedish
camp, Miller commanded to lead them around the wall, so as to show the
priests that that army from which they had hoped succor would serve
specially for the capture of Chenstohova.

The sight of that brilliant guard of the king dragged along the walls
was crushing to the besieged, for no one doubted that Miller would
force them first to the storm.

Panic spread again among the troops of the cloister; some of the
soldiers began to break their weapons and exclaim that there was help
no longer, that it was necessary to surrender at the earliest. Even the
hearts of the nobles had fallen; some of them appeared before Kordetski
again with entreaties to take pity on their children, on the sacred
place, on the image, and on the Congregation of monks. The courage of
the prior and Pan Zamoyski was barely enough to put down this movement.

But Kordetski had the liberation of the imprisoned fathers on his mind
first of all, and he took the best method; for he wrote to Miller that
he would sacrifice those brothers willingly for the good of the church.
Let the general condemn them to death; all would know in future what to
expect from him, and what faith to give his promises.

Miller was joyful, for he thought the affair was approaching its end.
But he did not trust the words of Kordetski at once, nor his readiness
to sacrifice the monks. He sent therefore one of them, Father
Bleshynski, to the cloister, binding him first with an oath to explain
the power of the Swedes and the impossibility of resistance. The monk
repeated everything faithfully, but his eyes spoke something else, and
concluding he said,--

"But prizing life less than the good of the Congregation, I am waiting
for the will of the council; and whatsoever you decide I will lay
before the enemy most faithfully."

They directed him to say: "The monks are anxious to treat, but cannot
believe a general who imprisons envoys." Next day the other envoy of
the fathers came to the cloister, and returned with a similar answer.

After this both heard the sentence of death. The sentence was read at
Miller's quarters in presence of the staff and distinguished officers.
All observed carefully the faces of the monks, curious to learn what
impression the sentence would make; and with the greatest amazement
they saw in both a joy as great, as unearthly, as if the highest
fortune had been announced to them. The pale faces of the monks flushed
suddenly, their eyes were filled with light, and Father Malahovski said
with a voice trembling from emotion,--

"Ah! why should we not die to-day, since we are predestined to fall a
sacrifice for our Lord and the king?"

Miller commanded to lead them forth straightway. The officers looked at
one another. At last one remarked; "A struggle with such fanaticism is
difficult."

The Prince of Hesse added: "Only the first Christians had such faith.
Is that what you wish to say?" Then he turned to Count Veyhard. "Pan
Veyhard," said he, "I should be glad to know what you think of these
monks?"

"I have no need to trouble my head over them," answered he, insolently;
"the general has already taken care of them."

Then Sadovski stepped forward to the middle of the room, stood before
Miller, and said with decision: "Your worthiness, do not command to
execute these monks."

"But why not?"

"Because there will be no talk of negotiations after that; for the
garrison of the fortress will be flaming with vengeance, and those men
will rather fall one upon the other than surrender."

"Wittemberg will send me heavy guns."

"Your worthiness, do not do this deed," continued Sadovski, with force;
"they are envoys who have come here with confidence."

"I shall not have them hanged on confidence, but on gibbets."

"The echo of this deed will spread through the whole country, will
enrage all hearts, and turn them away from us."

"Give me peace with your echoes; I have heard of them already a hundred
times."

"Your worthiness will not do this without the knowledge of his Royal
Grace?"

"You have no right to remind me of my duties to the king."

"But I have the right to ask for permission to resign from service, and
to present my reasons to his Royal Grace. I wish to be a soldier, not
an executioner."

The Prince of Hesse issued from the circle in the middle of the room,
and said ostentatiously,--

"Give me your hand. Pan Sadovski; you are a gentleman, a noble, and an
honest man."

"What does this mean?" roared Miller, springing from his seat.

"General," answered the Prince of Hesse, "I permit myself to remark
that Pan Sadovski is an honorable man, and I judge that there is
nothing in this against discipline."

Miller did not like the Prince of Hesse; but that cool, polite, and
also contemptuous manner of speaking, special to men of high rank,
imposed on him, as it does on many persons of low birth. Miller made
great efforts to acquire this manner, but had no success. He restrained
his outburst, however, and said calmly,--

"The monks will be hanged to-morrow."

"That is not my affair," answered the Prince of Hesse; "but in that
event let your worthiness order an attack on those two thousand Poles
who are in our camp, for if you do not they will attack us. Even now it
is less dangerous for a Swedish soldier to go among a pack of wolves
than among their tents. This is all I have to say, and now I permit
myself to wish you success." When he had said this he left the
quarters.

Miller saw that he had gone too far. But he did not withdraw his
orders, and that same day gibbets wore erected in view of the whole
cloister. At the same time the soldiers, taking advantage of the truce,
pushed still nearer the walls, not ceasing to jeer, insult, blaspheme,
and challenge. Whole throngs of them climbed the mountain, stood as
closely together as if they intended to make an assault.

That time Kmita, whom they had not chained as he had requested, did not
in fact restrain himself, and thundered from a cannon into the thickest
group, with such effect that he laid down in a row all those who stood
in front of the shot. That was like a watchword; for at once, without
orders, and even in spite of orders, all the cannons began to play,
muskets and guns thundered.

The Swedes, exposed to fire from every side, fled from the fortress
with howling and screaming, many falling dead on the road.

Charnyetski sprang to Kmita: "Do you know that for that the reward is a
bullet in the head?"

"I know, all one to me. Let me be--"

"In that case aim surely,"

Kmita aimed surely; soon, however, he missed. A great movement rose
meanwhile in the Swedish camp, but it was so evident that the Swedes
were the first to violate the truce, that Miller himself recognized in
his soul that the besieged were in the right.

What is more, Kmita did not even suspect that with his shots he had
perhaps saved the lives of the fathers; but Miller, because of these
shots, became convinced that the monks in the last extremity were
really ready to sacrifice their two brethren for the good of the church
and the cloister.

The shots beat into his head this idea also, that if a hair were to
fall from the heads of the envoys, he would not hear from the cloister
anything save similar thunders; so next day he invited the two
imprisoned monks to dinner, and the day after he sent them to the
cloister.

Kordetski wept when he saw them, all took them in their arms and were
astonished at hearing from their mouths that it was specially owing to
those shots that they were saved. The prior, who had been angry at
Kmita, called him at once and said,--

"I was angry because I thought that you had destroyed the two fathers;
but the Most Holy Lady evidently inspired you. This is a sign of Her
favor, be rejoiced."

"Dearest, beloved father, there will be no more negotiations, will
there?" asked Kmita, kissing Kordetski's hands.

But barely had he finished speaking, when a trumpet was heard at the
gates, and an envoy from Miller entered the cloister.

This was Pan Kuklinovski, colonel of the volunteer squadron attached
to the Swedes. The greatest ruffians without honor or faith served in
that squadron, in part dissidents such as Lutherans, Arians,
Calvinists,--whereby was explained their friendship for Sweden; but a
thirst for robbery and plunder attracted them mainly to Miller's army.
That band, made up of nobles, outlaws, fugitives from prison and from
the hands of a master, of attendants, and of gallows-birds snatched
from the rope, was somewhat like Kmita's old party, save in this, that
Kmita's men fought as do lions, and those preferred to plunder, offer
violence to noble women, break open stables and treasure chests. But
Kuklinovski himself had less resemblance to Kmita. Age had mixed gray
with his hair. He had a face dried, insolent, and shameless. His eyes,
which were unusually prominent and greedy, indicated violence of
character. He was one of those soldiers in whom, because of a turbulent
life and continuous wars, conscience had been burned out to the bottom.
A multitude of such men strolled about in that time, after the Thirty
Years' War, through all Germany and Poland. They were ready to serve
any man, and more than once a mere simple incident determined the side
on which they were to stand.

Country and faith, in a word all things sacred, were thoroughly
indifferent to them. They recognized nothing but war, and sought in it
pleasure, dissipation, profit, and oblivion of life. But still when
they had chosen some side they served it loyally enough, and that
through a certain soldier-robber honor, so as not to close the career
to themselves and to others. Such a man was Kuklinovski. Stern daring
and immeasurable stubbornness had won for him consideration among the
disorderly. It was easy for him to find men. He had served in various
arms and services. He had been ataman in the Saitch; he had led
regiments in Wallachia; in Germany he had enlisted volunteers in the
Thirty Years' War, and had won a certain fame as a leader of cavalry.
His crooked legs, bent in bow fashion, showed that he had spent the
greater part of his life on horseback. He was as thin as a splinter,
and somewhat bent from profligacy. Much blood, shed not in war only,
weighed upon him. And still he was not a man wholly wicked by nature;
he felt at times nobler influences. But he was spoiled to the marrow of
his bones, and insolent to the last degree. Frequently had he said in
intimate company, in drink; "More than one deed was done for which the
thunderbolt should have fallen, but it fell not."

The effect of this impunity was that he did not believe in the justice
of God, and punishment, not only during life, but after death. In other
words, he did not believe in God; still, he believed in the devil, in
witches, in astrologers, and in alchemy. He wore the Polish dress, for
he thought it most fitting for cavalry; but his mustache, still black,
he trimmed in Swedish fashion, and spread at the ends turned upward. In
speaking he made every word diminutive, like a child; this produced a
strange impression when heard from the mouth of such a devil incarnate
and such a cruel ruffian, who was ever gulping human blood. He talked
much and boastingly; clearly he thought himself a celebrated personage,
and one of the first cavalry colonels on earth.

Miller, who, though on a broader pattern, belonged himself to a similar
class, valued him greatly, and loved specially to seat him at his own
table. At that juncture Kuklinovski forced himself on the general as an
assistant, guaranteeing that he would with his eloquence bring the
priests to their senses at once.

Earlier, when, after the arrest of the priests, Pan Zamoyski was
preparing to visit Miller's camp and asked for a hostage, Miller sent
Kuklinovski; but Zamoyski and the prior would not accept him, as not
being of requisite rank.

From that moment, touched in his self-love, Kuklinovski conceived a
mortal hatred for the defenders of Yasna Gora, and determined to
injure them with all his power. Therefore he chose himself as an
embassy,--first for the embassy itself, and second so as to survey
everything and cast evil seed here and there. Since he was long known
to Charnyetski he approached the gate guarded by him; but Charnyetski
was sleeping at the time,--Kmita, taking his place, conducted the guest
to the council hall.

Kuklinovski looked at Pan Andrei with the eye of a specialist, and at
once he was pleased not only with the form but the bearing of the young
hero, which might serve as a model.

"A soldier," said he, raising his hand to his cap, "knows at once a
real soldier. I did not think that the priests had such men in their
service. What is your rank, I pray?"

Id Kmita, who had the zeal of a new convert, the soul revolted at sight
of Poles who served Swedes; still, he remembered the recent anger of
Kordetski at his disregard of negotiations; therefore he answered
coldly, but calmly,--

"I am Babinich, former colonel in the Lithuanian army, but now a
volunteer in the service of the Most Holy Lady."

"And I am Kuklinovski, also colonel, of whom you must have heard; for
during more than one little war men mentioned frequently that name and
this sabre [here he struck at his side], not only here in the
Commonwealth, but in foreign countries."

"With the forehead," said Kmita, "I have heard."

"Well, so you are from Lithuania, and in that land are famous soldiers.
We know of each other, for the trumpet of fame is to be heard from one
end of the world to the other. Do you know there, worthy sir, a certain
Kmita?"

The question fell so suddenly that Pan Andrei was as if fixed to the
spot. "But why do you ask of him?"

"Because I love him, though I know him not, for we are alike as two
boots of one pair; and I always repeat this, with your permission,
'There are two genuine soldiers in the Commonwealth,--I in the kingdom,
and Kmita in Lithuania,'--a pair of dear doves, is not that true? Did
you know him personally?"

"Would to God that you were killed!" thought Kmita; but, remembering
Kuklinovski's character of envoy, he answered aloud: "I did not know
him personally. But now come in, for the council is waiting."

When he had said this, he indicated the door through which a priest
came out to receive the guest. Kuklinovski entered the chamber with him
at once, but first he turned to Kmita: "It would please me," said he,
"if at my return you and none other were to conduct me out."

"I will wait here," answered Kmita. And he was left alone. After a
while he began to walk back and forth with quick steps; his whole soul
was roused within him, and his heart was filled with blood, black from
anger.

"Pitch does not stick to a garment like evil fame to a man," muttered
he. "This scoundrel, this wretch, this traitor calls me boldly his
brother, and thinks he has me as a comrade. See to what I have come!
All gallows-birds proclaim me their own, and no decent man calls me to
mind without horror. I have done little yet, little! If I could only
give a lesson to this rascal! It cannot be but that I shall put my
score on him."

The council lasted long in the chamber. It had grown dark. Kmita was
waiting yet.

At last Kuklinovski appeared. Pan Andrei could not see the colonel's
face, but he inferred from his quick panting, that the mission had
failed, and had been also displeasing, for the envoy had lost desire
for talk. They walked on then for some time in silence. Kmita
determined meanwhile to get at the truth, and said with feigned
sympathy,--

"Surely, you are coming with nothing.--Our priests are stubborn; and,
between you and me, they act ill, for we cannot defend ourselves
forever."

Kuklinovski halted and pulled him by the sleeve. "And do you think that
they act ill? You have your senses; these priests will be ground into
bran,--I guarantee that! They are unwilling to obey Kuklinovski; they
will obey his sword."

"You see, it is not a question of the priests with me," said Kmita,
"but of this place, which is holy, that is not to be denied, but which
the later it is surrendered the more severe must the conditions be. Is
what men say true, that through the country tumults are rising, that
here and there they are slashing the Swedes, and that the Khan is
marching with aid? If that is true, Miller must retreat."

"I tell you in confidence, a wish for Swedish broth is rising in the
country, and likely in the army as well; that is true. They are talking
of the Khan also. But Miller will not retreat; in a couple of days
heavy artillery will come. We'll dig these foxes out of their hole, and
then what will be will be!--But you have sense."

"Here is the gate!" said Kmita; "here I must leave you, unless you wish
me to attend you down the slope?"

"Attend me, attend me! A couple of days ago you fired after an envoy."

"Indeed! What do you mean?"

"Maybe unwillingly. But better attend me; I have a few words to say to
you."

"And I to you."

"That is well."

They went outside the gate and sank in the darkness. Here Kuklinovski
stopped, and taking Kmita again by the sleeve, began to speak,--

"You, Sir Cavalier, seem to me adroit and foreseeing, and besides I
feel in you a soldier, blood and bone. What the devil do you stick to
priests for, and not to soldiers? Why be a serving lad for priests?
There is a better and a pleasanter company with us,--with cups, dice,
and women. Do you understand?"

Here he pressed Kmita's arm with his fingers. "This house," continued
he, pointing with his finger to the fortress, "is on fire, and a fool
is he who flees not from a house when 'tis burning. Maybe you fear the
name of traitor? Spit on those who would call you that! Come to our
company; I, Kuklinovski, propose this. Obey, if you like; if you don't
like, obey not--there will be no offence. General Miller will receive
you well, I guarantee that; you have touched my heart, and I speak thus
from good wishes. Ours is a joyous company, joyous! A soldier's freedom
is in this,--to serve whom he likes. Monks are nothing to you! If a bit
of virtue hinders you, then cough it out. Remember this also, that
honest men serve with us. How many nobles, magnates, hetmans! What can
be better? Who takes the part of our little Kazimir? No man save
Sapyeha alone, who is bending Radzivill."

Kmita grew curious; "Did you say that Sapyeha is bending Radzivill?"

"I did. He is troubling him terribly there in Podlyasye, and is
besieging him now in Tykotsin. But we do not disturb him."

"Why is that?"

"Because the King of Sweden wants them to devour one another. Radzivill
was never reliable; he was thinking of himself. Besides, he is barely
breathing. Whoever lets himself be besieged is in a fix, he is
finished."

"Will not the Swedes go to succor him?"

"Who is to go? The king himself is in Prussia, for there lies the great
question. The elector has wriggled out hitherto; he will not wriggle
out this time. In Great Poland is war, Wittemberg is needed in Cracow,
Douglas has work with the hill-men; so they have left Radzivill to
himself. Let Sapyeha devour him. Sapyeha has grown, that is true, but
his turn will come also. Our Karl, when he finishes with Prussia, will
twist the horns of Sapyeha. Now there is no power against him, for all
Lithuania stands at his side."

"But Jmud?"

"Pontus de la Gardie holds that in his paws, and heavy are the paws, I
know him."

"How is it that Radzivill has fallen, he whose power was equal to that
of kings?"

"It is quenching already, quenching--"

"Wonderful are the ordinances of God!"

"The wheel of war changes. But no more of this. Well, what? Do you make
up your mind to my proposition? You'll not be sorry! Come to us. If it
is too hurried to-day, think till to-morrow, till the day after, before
the heavy artillery comes. These people here trust you evidently, since
you pass through the gate as you do now. Or come with letters and go
back no more."

"You attract others to the Swedish side, for you are an envoy of
Sweden," said Kmita; "it does not beseem you to act otherwise, though
in your soul who knows what you think? There are those who serve the
Swedes, but wish them ill in their hearts."

"Word of a cavalier!" answered Kuklinovski, "that I speak sincerely,
and not because I am filling the function of an envoy. Outside the gate
I am no longer an envoy; and if you wish I will remove the office of
envoy of my own will, and speak to you as a private man. Throw that
vile fortress to the devil!"

"Do you say this as a private man?"

"Yes,"

"And may I give answer to you as to a private man?"

"As true as life I propose it myself."

"Then listen, Pan Kuklinovski," Here Kmita inclined and looked into the
very eyes of the ruffian. "You are a rascal, a traitor, a scoundrel, a
crab-monger, an arch-cur! Have you enough, or shall I spit in your eyes
yet?"

Kuklinovski was astounded to such a degree that for a time there was
silence.

"What is this? How is this? Do I hear correctly?"

"Have you enough, you cur? or do you wish me to spit in your eyes?"

Kuklinovski drew his sabre; but Kmita caught him with his iron hand by
the wrist, twisted his arm, wrested the sabre from him, then slapped
him on the cheek so that the sound went out in the darkness; seized him
by the other side, turned him in his hand like a top, and kicking him
with all his strength, cried,--

"To a private man, not to an envoy!"

Kuklinovski rolled down like a stone thrown from a ballista. Pan Andrei
went quietly to the gate.

The two men parted on the slope of the eminence; hence it was difficult
to see them from the walls. But Kmita found waiting for him at the gate
Kordetski, who took him aside at once, and asked,--

"What were you doing so long with Kuklinovski."

"I was entering into confidence with him," answered Pan Andrei.

"What did he say?"

"He said that it was true concerning the Khan."

"Praise be to God, who can change the hearts of pagans and make friends
out of enemies."

"He told me that Great Poland is moving."

"Praise be to God!"

"That the quarter soldiers are more and more unwilling to remain with
the Swedes; that in Podlyasye, the voevoda of Vityebsk, Sapyeha, has
beaten the traitor Radzivill, and that he has all honest people with
him. As all Lithuania stands by him, except Jmud, which De la Gardie
has taken."

"Praise be to God! Have you had no other talk with each other?"

"Yes; Kuklinovski tried afterward to persuade me to go over to the
Swedes."

"I expected that," said the prior; "he is a bad man. And what did you
answer?"

"You see he told me, revered father, as follows: 'I put aside my office
of envoy, which without that is finished beyond the gates, and I
persuade you as a private man.' And I to make sure asked, 'May I answer
as to a private man?' He said, 'Yes'--then--"

"What then?"

"Then I gave it to him in the snout, and he rolled down hill."

"In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!"

"Be not angry, father; I acted very carefully, and that he will not say
a word about the matter to any man is certain."

The priest was silent for a time, then said; "That you acted honestly,
I know. I am only troubled at this, that you have gained a new enemy.
He is a terrible man."

"One more, one less!" said Kmita. Then he bent to the ear of the
priest. "But Prince Boguslav, he at least is an enemy! What is such a
Kuklinovski? I don't even look back at him."



                              CHAPTER III.


Now the terrible Arwid Wittemberg made himself heard. A famous officer
brought his stern letter to the cloister, commanding the fathers to
surrender the fortress to Miller. "In the opposite event," wrote
Wittemberg, "if you do not abandon resistance, and do not yield to the
said general, you may be sure that a punishment awaits you which will
serve others as an example. The blame for your suffering lay to
yourselves."

The fathers after receiving this letter determined in old fashion to
procrastinate, and present new difficulties daily. Again days passed
during which the thunder of artillery interrupted negotiations, and the
contrary.

Miller declared that he wished to introduce his garrison only to insure
the cloister against bands of freebooters. The fathers answered that
since their garrison appeared sufficient against such a powerful leader
as the general himself, all the more would it suffice against bands of
freebooters. They implored Miller, therefore, by all that was sacred,
by the respect which the people had for the place, by God and by Mary,
to go to Vyelunie, or wherever it might please him. But the patience of
the Swedes was exhausted. That humility of the besieged, who implored
for mercy while they were firing more and more quickly from cannons,
brought the chief and the army to desperation.

At first Miller could not get it into his head why, when the whole
country had surrendered, that one place was defending itself; what
power was upholding them; in the name of what hopes did these monks
refuse to yield, for what were they striving, for what were they
hoping?

But flowing time brought more clearly the answer to that question. The
resistance which had begun there was spreading like a conflagration. In
spite of a rather dull brain, the general saw at last what the question
with Kordetski was; and besides, Sadovski had explained
incontrovertibly that it was not a question of that rocky nest, nor of
Yasna Gora, nor of the treasures gathered in the cloister, nor of the
safety of the Congregation, but of the fate of the whole Commonwealth.
Miller discovered that that silent priest knew what he was doing, that
he had knowledge of his mission, that he had risen as a prophet to
enlighten the land by example,--to call with a mighty voice to the east
and the west, to the north and the south, _Sursum corda!_ (Raise your
hearts) in order to rouse, either by his victory or his death and
sacrifice, the sleeping from their slumber, to purify the sinful, to
bring light into darkness.

When he had discovered this, that old warrior was simply terrified at
that defender and at his own task. All at once that "hen-house" of
Chenstohova seemed to him a giant mountain defended by a Titan, and the
general seemed small to himself; and on his own army he looked, for the
first time in his life, as on a handful of wretched worms. Was it for
them to raise hands against that mysterious and heaven-touching power?
Therefore Miller was terrified, and doubt began to steal into his
heart. Seeing that the fault would be placed upon him, he began himself
to seek the guilty, and his anger fell first on Count Veyhard. Disputes
rose in the camp, and dissensions began to inflame hearts against one
another; the works of the siege had to suffer therefrom.

Miller had been too long accustomed to estimate men and events by the
common measure of a soldier, not to console himself still at times with
the thought that at last the fortress would surrender. And taking
things in human fashion, it could not be otherwise. Besides, Wittemberg
was sending him six siege guns of the heaviest calibre, which had shown
their force at Cracow.

"Devil take it!" thought Miller; "such walls will not stand against
guns like these, and if that nest of terrors, of superstitions, of
enchantment, winds up in smoke, then things will take another turn, and
the whole country will be pacified."

While waiting for the heavier guns, he commanded to fire from the
smaller. The days of conflict returned. But in vain did balls of fire
fall on the roofs, in vain did the best gunners exert superhuman power.
As often as the wind blew away the sea of smoke, the cloister appeared
untouched, imposing as ever, lofty, with towers piercing calmly the
blue of the sky. At the same time things happened which spread
superstitious terror among the besiegers. Now balls flew over the whole
mountain and struck soldiers on the other side; now a gunner, occupied
in aiming a gun, fell on a sudden; now smoke disposed itself in
terrible and strange forms; now powder in the boxes exploded all at
once, as if fired by some invisible hand.

Besides, soldiers were perishing continually who alone, in twos or in
threes, went out of the camp. Suspicion fell on the Polish auxiliary
squadrons, which, with the exception of Kuklinovski's regiment, refused
out and out every cooperation in the siege, and showed daily more
menacing looks. Miller threatened Colonel Zbrojek with a court-martial,
but he answered in presence of all the officers: "Try it, General."

Officers from the Polish squadrons strolled purposely through the
Swedish camp, exhibiting contempt and disregard for the soldiers, and
raising quarrels with the officers. Thence it came to duels, in which
the Swedes, as less trained in fencing, fell victims more frequently.
Miller issued a severe order against duels, and finally forbade the
Poles entrance to the camp. From this it came that at last both armies
were side by side like enemies, merely awaiting an opportunity for
battle.

But the cloister defended itself ever better. It turned out that the
guns sent by Pan Myaskovski were in no wise inferior to those which
Miller had, and the gunners through constant practice arrived at such
accuracy that each shot threw down an enemy. The Swedes attributed this
to enchantment. The gunners answered the officers that with that power
which defended the cloister it was no business of theirs to do battle.

A certain morning a panic began in the southwestern trench, for the
soldiers had seen distinctly a woman in a blue robe shielding the
church and the cloister. At sight of this they threw themselves down on
their faces. In vain did Miller ride up, in vain did he explain that
mist and smoke had disposed themselves in that form, in vain besides
was his threat of court-martial and punishment. At the first moment no
one would hear him, especially as the general himself was unable to
hide his amazement.

Soon after this the opinion was spread through the whole army that no
one taking part in the siege would die his own death. Many officers
shared this belief, and Miller was not free from fears; for he brought
in Lutheran ministers and enjoined on them to undo the enchantment.
They walked through the camp whispering, and singing psalms; fear,
however, had so spread that more than once they heard from the mouths
of the soldiers: "Beyond your power, beyond your strength!"

In the midst of discharges of cannon a new envoy from Miller entered
the cloister, and stood before the face of Kordetski and the council.

This was Pan Sladkovski, chamberlain of Rava, whom Swedish parties had
seized as he was returning from Prussia. They received him coldly and
harshly, though he had an honest face and his look was as mild as the
sky; but the monks had grown accustomed to see honest faces on
traitors. He was not confused a whit by such a reception; combing
briskly his yellow forelock with his fingers, he began:--

"Praised be Jesus Christ!"

"For the ages of ages!" answered the Congregation, in a chorus.

And Kordetski added at once; "Blessed be those who serve him."

"I serve him," answered Sladkovski, "and that I serve him more
sincerely than I do Miller will be shown soon. H'm! permit me,
worthy and beloved fathers, to cough, for I must first spit out
foulness. Miller then--tfu! sent me, my good lords, to you to persuade
you--tfu!--to surrender. But I accepted the office so as to say to you:
Defend yourselves, think not of surrender, for the Swedes are spinning
thin, and the Devil is taking them by the eye."

The monks and the laity were astonished at sight of such an envoy. Pan
Zamoyski exclaimed at once: "As God is dear to me, this is an honest
man!" and springing to him began to shake his hand; but Sladkovski,
gathering his forelock into one bunch, said,--

"That I am no knave will be shown straightway. I have become Miller's
envoy so as to tell you news so favorable that I could wish, my good
lords, to tell it all in one breath. Give thanks to God and His Most
Holy Mother who chose you as instruments for changing men's hearts. The
country, taught by your example and by your defence, is beginning to
throw off the yoke of the Swedes. What's the use in talking? In Great
Poland and Mazovia the people are beating the Swedes, destroying
smaller parties, blocking roads and passages. In some places they have
given the enemy terrible punishment already. The nobles are mounting
their horses, the peasants are gathering in crowds, and when they seize
a Swede they tear straps out of him. Chips are flying, tow is flying!
This is what it has come to. And whose work is this?--yours."

"An angel, an angel is speaking!" cried monks and nobles, raising their
hands toward heaven.

"Not an angel, but Sladkovski, at your service. This is
nothing!--Listen on. The Khan, remembering the kindness of the brother
of our rightful king, Yan Kazimir, to whom may God give many years! is
marching with aid, and has already passed the boundary of the
Commonwealth. The Cossacks who were opposed he has cut to pieces, and
is moving on with a horde of a hundred thousand toward Lvoff, and
Hmelnitski _nolens volens_ is coming with him."

"For God's sake, for God's sake!" repeated people, overcome as it were
by happiness.

But Pan Sladkovski, sweating and waving his hand, with still more vigor
cried,--

"That is nothing yet! Pan Stefan Charnyetski, with whom the Swedes
violated faith, for they carried captive his infantry under Wolf, feels
free of his word and is mounting. Yan Kazimir is collecting troops, and
may return any day to the country and the hetmans. Listen further, the
hetmans, Pototski and Lantskoronski, and with them all the troops, are
waiting only for the coming of the king to desert the Swedes and raise
sabres against them. Meanwhile they are coming to an understanding with
Sapyeha and the Khan. The Swedes are in terror; there is fire in the
whole country, war in the whole country--whosoever is living is going
to the field!"

What took place in the hearts of the monks and the nobles is difficult
of description. Some wept, some fell on their knees, other repeated,
"It cannot be, it cannot be!" Hearing this, Sladkovski approached the
great crucifix hanging on the wall and said,--

"I place my hands on these feet of Christ pierced with a nail, and
swear that I declare the pure and clean truth. I repeat only: Defend
yourselves, fail not; trust not the Swedes; think not that by
submission and surrender you could insure any safety for yourselves.
They keep no promises, no treaties. You who are closed in here know not
what is passing in the whole country, what oppression has come, what
deeds of violent are done,--murdering of priests, profanation of
sanctuaries, contempt of all law. They promise you everything, they
observe nothing. The whole kingdom is given up as plunder to a
dissolute soldiery. Even those who still adhere to the Swedes are
unable to escape injustice. Such is the punishment of God on traitors,
on those who break faith with the king. Delay!--I, as you see me here,
if only I survive, if I succeed in slipping away from Miller, will move
straightway to Silesia, to our king. I will fall at his feet and say:
Gracious King, save Chenstohova and your most faithful servants! But,
most beloved fathers, stand firm, for the salvation of the whole
Commonwealth is depending upon you."

Here Sladkovski's voice trembled, tears appeared on his eyelids, but he
spoke further. "You will have grievous times yet: siege guns are coming
from Cracow, which two hundred infantry are bringing. One is a
particularly dreadful cannon. Terrible assaults will follow. But these
will be the last efforts. Endure yet these, for salvation is coming
already. By these red wounds of God, the king, the hetmans, the army,
the whole Commonwealth will come to rescue its Patroness. This is what
I tell you: rescue, salvation, glory is right here--not distant."

The worthy noble now burst into tears, and sobbing became universal.

Ah! still better news was due to that wearied handful of defenders, to
that handful of faithful servants, and a sure consolation from the
country.

The prior rose, approached Sladkovski, and opened wide his arms.
Sladkovski rushed into them, and they embraced each other long; others
following their example began to fall into one another's arms, embrace,
kiss, and congratulate one another as if the Swedes had already
retreated. At last the prior said,--

"To the chapel, my brethren, to the chapel!"

He went in advance, and after him the others. All the candles were
lighted, for it was growing dark outside; and the curtains were drawn
aside from the wonder-working image, from which sweet abundant rays
were scattered at once round about. Kordetski knelt on the steps,
farther away the monks, the nobles, and common people; women with
children were present also. Pale and wearied faces and eyes which had
wept were raised toward the image; but from behind the tears was
shining on each face a smile of happiness. Silence continued for a
time; at last Kordetski began,--

"Under thy protection we take refuge, Holy Mother of God--"

Further words stopped on his lips, weariness, long suffering, hidden
alarms, together with the gladsome hope of rescue, rose in him like a
mighty wave; therefore sobbing shook his breast, and that man, who bore
on his shoulders the fate of the whole country, bent like a weak child,
fell on his face, and with weeping immeasurable had strength only to
cry: "O Mary, Mary, Mary!"

All wept with him, but the image from above cast brightest rays.

It was late at night when the monks and the nobles went each his own
way to the walls; but Kordetski remained all night lying in the chapel
in the form of a cross. There were fears in the cloister that weariness
might overpower him; but next morning he appeared on the bastions, went
among the soldiers and the garrison, glad and refreshed, and here and
there he repeated,--

"Children, the Most Holy Lady will show again that she is mightier than
siege guns, and then will come the end of your sorrows and torments."

That morning Yatsek Bjuhanski, an inhabitant of Chenstohova, disguised
as a Swede, approached the walls to confirm the news that great guns
were coming from Cracow, but also that the Khan with the horde was
approaching. He delivered a letter from Father Anton Pashkovski, of the
monastery at Cracow, who, describing the terrible cruelty and robbery
of the Swedes, incited and implored the fathers of Yasna Gora to put no
trust in the promises of the enemy, but to defend the sacred place
patiently against the insolence of the godless.

"There is no faith in the Swedes," wrote Father Pashkovski, "no
religion. Nothing divine or human is sacred and inviolate for them. It
is not their custom to respect anything, though guarded by treaties or
public declarations."

That was the day of the Immaculate Conception. Some tens of officers
and soldiers of the allied Polish squadrons besought with most urgent
requests Miller's permission to go to the fortress for divine service.
Perhaps Miller thought that they would become friendly with the
garrison, carry news of the siege guns and spread alarm; perhaps he did
not wish by refusing to cast sparks on inflammable elements, which
without that made relations between the Poles and the Swedes more and
more dangerous: 'tis enough that he gave the permission.

With these quarter soldiers went a certain Tartar of the Polish
Mohammedan Tartars. He, amid universal astonishment, encouraged the
monks not to yield their holy place to vile enemies, considering with
certainty that the Swedes would soon go away with shame and defeat. The
quarter soldiers repeated the same, confirming completely the news
brought by Sladkovski. All this taken together raised the courage of
the besieged to such a degree that they had no fear of those gigantic
cannons, and the soldiers made sport of them among themselves.

After services firing began on both sides. There was a certain Swedish
soldier who had come many times to the wall, and with a trumpet-like
voice had blasphemed against the Mother of God. Many a time had the
besieged fired at him, but always without result. Kmita aimed at him
once, but his bow-string broke; the soldier became more and more
insolent, and roused others by his daring. It was said that he had
seven devils in his service who guarded and shielded him.

He came this day again to blaspheme; but the besieged, trusting that on
the day of the Immaculate Conception enchantments would have less
effect, determined to punish him without fail. They fired a good while
in vain; at last a cannon ball, rebounding from an ice wall, and
tripping along the snow like a bird, struck him straight in the breast
and tore him in two. The defenders comforted themselves with this and
cried out: "Who will blaspheme against Her another time?" Meanwhile the
revilers had rushed down to the trenches, in panic.

The Swedes fired at the walls and the roofs; but the balls brought no
terror to the besieged.

The old beggarwoman, Konstantsia, who dwelt in a cranny of the cliff,
used to go, as if in ridicule of the Swedes, along the whole slope,
gathering bullets in her apron, and threatening from time to time the
soldiers with her staff. They, thinking her a witch, were afraid she
would injure them, especially when they saw that bullets did not touch
her.

Two whole days passed in vain firing. They hurled on the roof ship
ropes very thickly steeped in pitch; these flew like fiery serpents;
but the guards, trained in a masterly manner, met the danger in time. A
night came with such darkness that, in spite of the fires, tar barrels,
and the fireworks of Father Lyassota, the besieged could see nothing.

Meanwhile some uncommon movement reigned among the Swedes. The squeak
of wheels was heard, men's voices, at times the neighing of horses, and
various other kinds of uproar. The soldiers on the walls guessed the
cause easily.

"The guns have come surely," said some.

The officers were deliberating on a sortie which Charnyetski advised;
but Zamoyski opposed, insisting, with reason, that at such important
works the enemy must have secured themselves sufficiently, and must
surely hold infantry in readiness. They resolved merely to fire toward
the north and south, whence the greatest noise came. It was impossible
to see the result in the darkness.

Day broke at last, and its first rays exposed the works of the Swedes.
North and south of the fortress were intrenchments, on which some
thousands of men were employed. These intrenchments stood so high that
to the besieged the summits of them seemed on a line with the walls of
the fortress. In the openings at the top were seen great jaws of guns,
and the soldiers standing behind them looked at a distance like swarms
of yellow wasps.

The morning Mass was not over in the church when unusual thunder shook
the air; the window-panes rattled; some of them dropped out of the
frames from shaking alone, and were broken with a sharp shiver on the
stone floor; and the whole church was filled with dust which rose from
fallen plaster.

The great siege guns had spoken.

A terrible fire began, such as the besieged had not experienced. At the
end of Mass all rushed out on the walls and roofs. The preceding storms
seemed innocent play in comparison with this terrible letting loose of
fire and iron.

The smaller pieces thundered in support of the siege guns. Great bombs,
pieces of cloth steeped in pitch, torches, and fiery ropes were flying.
Balls twenty-six pounds in weight tore out battlements, struck the
walls of buildings; some settled in them, others made great holes,
tearing off plaster and bricks. The walls surrounding the cloister
began to shake here and there and lose pieces, and struck incessantly
by new balls threatened to fall. The buildings of the cloister were
covered with fire.

The trumpeters on the tower felt it totter under them. The church
quaked from continuous pounding, and candles fell out of the sockets at
some of the altars.

Water was poured in immense quantities on the fires that had begun, on
the blazing torches, on the walls, on the fire balls; and formed,
together with the smoke and the dust, rolls of steam so thick that
light could not be seen through them. Damage was done to the walls and
buildings. The cry, "It is burning, it is burning!" was heard oftener
amid the thunder of cannon and the whistle of bullets. At the northern
bastion the two wheels of a cannon were broken, and one injured cannon
was silent. A ball had fallen into a stable, killed three horses, and
set fire to the building. Not only balls, but bits of grenades, were
falling as thickly as rain on the roofs, the bastions, and the walls.

In a short time the groans of the wounded were heard. By a strange
chance three young men fell, all named Yan. This amazed other defenders
bearing the same name; but in general the defence was worthy of the
storm. Even women, children, and old men came out on the walls.
Soldiers stood there with unterrified heart, in smoke and fire, amid a
rain of missiles, and answered with determination to the fire of the
enemy. Some seized the wheels and rolled the cannon to the most exposed
places; others thrust into breaches in the walls stones, beams, dung,
and earth.

Women with dishevelled hair and inflamed faces gave an example of
daring, and some were seen running with buckets of water after bombs
which were still springing and ready to burst right there, that moment.
Ardor rose every instant, as if that smell of powder, smoke, and steam,
that thunder, those streams of fire and iron, had the property of
rousing it. All acted without command, for words died amid the awful
noise. Only the supplications which were sung in the chapel rose above
the voices of cannon.

About noon firing ceased. All drew breath; but before the gate a drum
was sounded, and the drummer sent by Miller, approaching the gate,
inquired if the fathers had had  enough, and if they wished to
surrender at once. Kordetski answered that they would deliberate over
the question till morning. The answer had barely reached Miller when
the attack began anew, and the artillery fire was redoubled.

From time to time deep ranks of infantry pushed forward under fire
toward the mountain, as if wishing to try an assault; but decimated by
cannon and muskets, they returned each time quickly and in disorder
under their own batteries. As a wave of the sea covers the shore and
when it retreats leaves on the sand weeds, mussels, and various
fragments broken in the deep, so each one of those Swedish waves when
it sank back left behind bodies thrown here and there on the slope.

Miller did not give orders to fire at the bastions, but at the wall
between them, where resistance was least. Indeed, here and there
considerable rents were made, but not large enough for the infantry to
rush through.

Suddenly a certain event checked the storm.

It was well toward evening when a Swedish gunner about to apply a
lighted match to one of the largest guns was struck in the very breast
by a ball from the cloister. The ball came not with the first force,
but after a third bound from the ice piled up at the intrenchment; it
merely hurled the gunner a number of yards. He fell on an open box
partly filled with powder. A terrible explosion was heard that instant,
and masses of smoke covered the trench. When the smoke fell away it
appeared that five gunners had lost their lives; the wheels of the
cannon were injured, and terror seized the soldiers. It was necessary
to cease fire for the time from that intrenchment, since a heavy fog
had filled the darkness; they also stopped firing in other places.

The next day was Sunday. Lutheran ministers held services in the
trenches, and the guns were silent. Miller again inquired if the
fathers had had  enough. They answered that they could endure more.

Meanwhile the damage in the cloister was examined and found to be
considerable. People were killed and the wall was shaken here and
there. The most formidable gun was a gigantic culverin standing on the
north. It had broken the wall to such a degree, torn out so many stones
and bricks, that the besieged could foresee that should the fire
continue two days longer a considerable part of the wall would give
away.

A breach such as the culverin would make could not be filled with beams
or earth. The prior foresaw with an eye full of sorrow the ruin which
he could not prevent.

Monday the attack was begun anew, and the gigantic gun widened the
breach. Various mishaps met the Swedes, however. About dusk that day a
Swedish gunner killed on the spot Miller's sister's son, whom the
general loved as though he had been his own, and intended to leave him
all that he had,--beginning with his name and military reputation and
ending with his fortune. But the heart of the old warrior blazed up
with hatred all the more from this loss.

The wall at the northern bastion was so broken that preparations were
made in the night for a hand-to-hand assault. That the infantry might
approach the fortress with less danger, Miller commanded to throw up in
the darkness a whole series of small redoubts, reaching the very slope.
But the night was clear, and white light from the snow betrayed the
movements of the enemy. The cannons of Yasna Gora scattered the men
occupied in making those parapets formed of fascines, fences, baskets,
and timbers.

At daybreak Charnyetski saw a siege machine which they had already
rolled toward the walls. But the besieged broke it with cannon fire
without difficulty; so many men were killed on that occasion that the
day might have been called a day of victory for the besieged, had it
not been for that great gun which shook the wall incessantly with
irrestrainable power.

A thaw came on the following days, and such dense mists settled down
that the fathers attributed them to the action of evil spirits. It was
impossible to see either the machines of war, the erection of parapets,
or the work of the siege. The Swedes came near the very walls of the
cloister. In the evening Charnyetski, when the prior was making his
usual round of the walls, took him by the side and said in a low
voice,--

"Bad, revered father! Our wall will not hold out beyond a day."

"Perhaps these fogs will prevent them from firing," answered Kordetski;
"and we meanwhile will repair the rents somehow."

"The fogs will not prevent the Swedes, for that gun once aimed may
continue even in darkness the work of destruction; but here the ruins
are falling and falling."

"In God and in the Most Holy Lady is our hope."

"True! But if we make a sortie? Even were we to lose men, if they could
only spike that dragon of hell."

Just then some form looked dark in the fog, and Babinich appeared near
the speakers.

"I saw that some one was speaking; but faces cannot be distinguished
three yards away," said he. "Good evening, revered father! But of what
is the conversation?"

"We are talking of that gun. Pan Charnyetski advises a sortie. These
fogs are spread by Satan; I have commanded an exorcism."

"Dear father," said Pan Andrei, "since that gun has begun to shake the
wall, I am thinking of it, and something keeps coming to my head. A
sortie is of no use. But let us go to some room; there I will tell you
my plans."

"Well," said the prior, "come to my cell."

Soon after they were sitting at a pine table in Kordetski's modest
cell. Charnyetski and the priest were looking carefully into the
youthful face of Babinich, who said,--

"A sortie is of no use in this case. They will see it and repulse it.
Here one man must do the work."

"How is that?" asked Charnyetski.

"One man must go and burst that cannon with powder; and he can do it
during such fogs. It is best that he go in disguise. There are jackets
here like those worn by the enemy. As it will not be possible to do
otherwise, he will slip in among the Swedes; but if at this side of the
trench from which the gun is projecting there are no soldiers, that
will be better still."

"For God's sake! what will the man do?"

"It is only necessary to put a box of powder into the mouth of the gun,
with a hanging fuse and a thread to be ignited. When the powder
explodes, the gun--devil I wanted to say--will burst."

"Oh, my son! what do you say? Is it little powder that they thrust into
it every day, and it does not burst?"

Kmita laughed, and kissed the priest on the sleeve of his habit.
"Beloved father, there is a great heart in you, heroic and holy--"

"Give peace now!" answered the prior.

"And holy," repeated Kmita; "but you do not understand cannon. It is
one thing when powder bursts in the butt of the cannon, for then it
casts forth the ball and the force flies out forward, but another if
you stop the mouth of a gun with powder and ignite it,--no cannon can
stand such a trial. Ask Pan Charnyetski. The same thing will take place
if you fill the mouth of a cannon with snow and fire it; the piece will
burst. Such is the villanous power of powder. What will it be when a
whole box of it explodes at the mouth? Ask Pan Charnyetski."

"That is true. These are no secrets for soldiers," answered
Charnyetski.

"You see if this gun is burst," continued Kmita, "all the rest are a
joke."

"This seems impossible to me," said Kordetski; "for, first, who will
undertake to do it?"

"A certain poor fellow," said Kmita; "but he is resolute, his name is
Babinich."

"You!" cried the priest and Charnyetski together.

"Ai, father, benefactor! I was with you at confession, and acknowledged
all my deeds in sincerity; among them were deeds not worse than the one
I am now planning; how can you doubt that I will undertake it? Do you
not know me?"

"He is a hero, a knight above knights," cried Charnyetski. And seizing
Kmita by the neck, he continued: "Let me kiss you for the wish alone;
give me your mouth."

"Show me another remedy, and I will not go," said Kmita; "but it seems
to me that I shall manage this matter somehow. Remember that I speak
German as if I had been dealing in staves, wainscots, and wall plank in
Dantzig. That means much, for if I am disguised they will not easily
discover that I am not of their camp. But I think that no one is
standing before the mouth of the cannon; for it is not safe there, and
I think that I shall do the work before they can see me."

"Pan Charnyetski, what do you think of this?" asked the prior, quickly.

"Out of one hundred men one might return from such an undertaking; but
_audaces fortuna juvat_ [fortune favors the bold]."

"I have been in hotter places than this," said Kmita: "nothing will
happen to me, for such is my fortune. Ai, beloved father, and what a
difference! Ere now to exhibit myself, and for vainglory, I crawled
into danger; but this undertaking is for the Most Holy Lady. Even
should I have to lay down my head, which I do not foresee, say yourself
could a more praiseworthy death be wished to any man than down there in
this cause?"

The priest was long silent, and then said at last,--

"I should try to restrain you with persuasion, with prayers and
imploring, if you wished to go for mere glory; but you are right: this
is a question affecting the honor of the Most Holy Lady, this sacred
place, the whole country! And you, my son, whether you return safely or
win the palm of glory, you will gain the supreme happiness,--salvation.
Against my heart then I say, Go; I do not detain you. Our prayers, the
protection of God, will go with you."

"In such company I shall go boldly and perish with joy."

"But return, soldier of God, return safely; for you are loved with
sincerity here. May Saint Raphael attend you and bring you back,
cherished son, my dear child!"

"Then I will begin preparations at once," said Pan Andrei, joyfully
pressing the priest. "I will dress in Swedish fashion with a jacket and
wide-legged boots. I will fill in the powder, and do you, father, stop
the exorcisms for this night; fog is needful to the Swedes, but also to
me."

"And do you not wish to confess before starting?"

"Of course, without that I should not go; for the devil would have
approach to me."

"Then begin with confession."

Charnyetski went out of the cell, and Kmita knell down near the priest
and purged himself of his sins. Then, gladsome as a bird, he began to
make preparations.

An hour or two later, in the deep night, he knocked again at the
prior's cell, where Pan Charnyetski also was waiting.

The two scarcely knew Pan Andrei, so good a Swede had he made himself.
He had twirled his mustaches to his eyes and brushed them out at the
ends; he had put his hat on one side of his head, and looked precisely
like some cavalry officer of noted family.

"As God lives, one would draw a sabre at sight of him," said
Charnyetski.

"Put the light at a distance," said Kmita; "I will show you something."

When Father Kordetski had put the light aside quickly, Pan Andrei
placed on a table a roll, a foot and a half long and as thick as the
arm of a sturdy man, sewn up in pitched linen and filled firmly with
powder. From one end of it was hanging a long string made of tow
steeped in sulphur.

"Well," said he, "when I put this flea-bane in the mouth of the cannon
and ignite the string, then its belly will burst."

"Lucifer would burst!" cried Pan Charnyetski. But he remembered that it
was better not to mention the name of the foul one, and he slapped his
own mouth.

"But how will you set fire to the string?" asked Kordetski.

"In that lies the whole danger, for I must strike fire. I have good
flint, dry tinder, and steel of the best; but there will be a noise,
and they may notice something. The string I hope will not quench, for
it will hang at the beard of the gun, and it will be hard to see it,
especially as it will hide itself quickly in burning; but they may
pursue me, and I cannot flee straight toward the cloister."

"Why not?" asked the priest.

"For the explosion would kill me. The moment I see the spark on the
string I must jump aside with all the strength in my legs, and when I
have run about fifty yards, must fall to the ground under the
intrenchment. After the explosion I shall rush toward the cloister."

"My God, my God, how many dangers!" said the prior, raising his eyes to
heaven.

"Beloved father, so sure am I of returning that even emotion does not
touch me, which on an occasion like this ought to seize me. This is
nothing! Farewell, and pray the Lord God to give me luck. Only conduct
me to the gate."

"How is that? Do you want to go now?" asked Charnyetski.

"Am I to wait till daylight, or till the fog rises? Is not my head dear
to me?"

But Pan Andrei did not go that night, for just as they came to the
gate, darkness, as if out of spite, began to grow light. Some movement
too was heard around the great siege gun.

Next morning the besieged were convinced that the gun was transferred
to another place.

The Swedes had received apparently some report of a great weakness in
the wall a little beyond the bend near the southern bastion, and they
determined to direct missiles to that spot. Maybe too the prior was not
a stranger to the affair, for the day before they had seen old Kostuha
(Konstantsia) going out of the cloister. She was employed chiefly when
there was need of giving false reports to the Swedes. Be that as it
may, it was a mistake on their part; for the besieged could now repair
in the old place the wall so greatly shaken, and to make a new breach a
number of days would be needed.

The nights were clear in succession, the days full of uproar. The
Swedes fired with terrible energy. The spirit of doubt began again to
fly over the fortress. Among the besieged were nobles who wished to
surrender; some of the monks too had lost heart. The opposition gained
strength and importance. The prior made head against it with
unrestrained energy, but his health began to give way. Meanwhile came
reinforcements to the Swedes and supplies from Cracow, especially
terrible explosive missiles in the form of iron cylinders filled with
powder and lead. These caused more terror than damage to the besieged.

Kmita, from the time that he had conceived the plan of bursting the
siege gun, secreted himself in the fortress. He looked every day at the
roll, with heart-sickness. On reflection he made it still larger, so
that it was almost an ell long and as thick as a boot-leg. In the
evening he cast greedy looks toward the gun, then examined the sky like
an astrologer. But the bright moon, shining on the snow continually,
baffled his plan.

All at once a thaw came; clouds covered the horizon, and the night was
dark,--so dark that even strain your eyes you could see nothing. Pan
Andrei fell into such humor as if some one had given him the steed of
the Sultan; and midnight had barely sounded when he stood before
Charnyetski in his cavalry dress, the roll under his arm.

"I am going!" said he.

"Wait, I will speak to the prior."

"That is well. Kiss me. Pan Pyotr, and go for the prior."

Charnyetski kissed him with feeling, and turned away. He had hardly
gone thirty steps when Kordetski stood before him in white. He had
guessed that Kmita was going, and had come there to bless him.

"Babinich is ready; he is only waiting for your reverence."

"I hurry, I hurry!" answered the priest. "O Mother of God, save him and
aid him!"

After a while both were standing at the opening where Charnyetski left
Kmita, but there was no trace of him.

"He has gone!" said the prior, in amazement.

"He has gone!" repeated Charnyetski.

"But, the traitor!" said the prior, with emotion, "I intended to put
this little scapular on his neck."

Both ceased to speak; there was silence around, and as the darkness was
dense there was firing from neither side. On a sudden Charnyetski
whispered eagerly,--

"As God is dear to me, he is not even trying to go in silence! Do you
hear steps crushing the snow?"

"Most Holy Lady, guard thy servant!" said the prior.

Both listened carefully for a time, till the brisk steps and the noise
on the snow had ceased.

"Do you know, your reverence, at moments I think that he will succeed,
and I fear nothing for him. The strange man went as if he were going to
an inn to drink a glass of liquor. What courage he has in him! Either
he will lay down his head untimely, or he will be hetman. H'm! if I did
not know him as a servant of Mary, I should think that he has--God give
him success, God grant it to him! for such another cavalier there is
not in the Commonwealth."

"It is so dark, so dark!" said Kordetski; "but they are on their guard
since the night of your sortie. He might come upon a whole rank before
he could see it."

"I do not think so. The infantry are watching, that I know, and watch
carefully; but they are in the intrenchment, not before the muzzles of
their own cannon. If they do not hear the steps, he can easily push
under the intrenchment, and then the height of it alone will cover
him--Uf!"

Here Charnyetski puffed and ceased speaking; for his heart began to
beat like a hammer from expectation and alarm, and breath failed him.

Kordetski made the sign of the cross in the darkness.

A third person stood near the two. This was Zamoyski.

"What is the matter?" asked he.

"Babinich has gone to blow up the siege gun."

"How is that? What is that?"

"He took a roll of powder, cord, and flint, and went."

Zamoyski pressed his head between his hands.

"Jesus, Mary! Jesus, Mary! All alone?"

"All alone."

"Who let him go? That's an impossible deed!"

"I. For the might of God all things are possible, even his safe
return," said Kordetski.

Zamoyski was silent. Charnyetski began to pant from emotion.

"Let us pray," said the prior.

The three knelt down and began to pray. But anxiety raised the hair on
the heads of both knights. A quarter of an hour passed, half an hour,
an hour as long as a lifetime.

"There will be nothing now!" said Charnyetski, sighing deeply.

All at once in the distance a gigantic column of flame burst forth, and
a roar as if all the thunders of heaven had been hurled to the earth;
it shook the walls, the church, and the cloister.

"He has burst it, he has burst it!" shouted Charnyetski.

New explosions interrupted further speech of his.

Kordetski threw himself on his knees, and raising his hands, cried to
heaven, "Most Holy Mother, Guardian, Patroness, bring him back safely!"

A noise was made on the walls. The garrison, not knowing what had
happened, seized their arms. The monks rushed from their cells. No one
was sleeping. Even women sprang forth. Questions and answers crossed
one another like lightnings.

"What has happened?"

"An assault!"

"The Swedish gun has burst!" cried one of the cannoneers.

"A miracle, a miracle!"

"The largest gun is burst!"

"That great one!"

"Where is the prior?"

"On the wall. He is praying; he did this."

"Babinich burst the gun!" cried Charnyetski.

"Babinich, Babinich! Praise to the Most Holy Lady! They will harm us no
longer."

At the same time sounds of confusion rose from the Swedish camp. In all
the trenches fires began to shine. An increasing uproar was heard. By
the light of the fires masses of soldiers were seen moving in various
directions without order, trumpets sounded, drums rolled continually;
to the walls came shouts in which alarm and amazement were heard.

Kordetski continued kneeling on the wall.

At last the night began to grow pale, but Babinich came not to the
fortress.



                              CHAPTER IV.


What had happened to Pan Andrei, and in what way had he been able to
carry out his plan?

After leaving the fortress he advanced some time with a sure and wary
step. At the very end of the slope he halted and listened. It was
silent around,--so silent in fact that his steps were heard clearly on
the snow. In proportion as he receded from the walls, he stepped more
carefully. He halted again, and again listened. He was somewhat afraid
of slipping and falling, and thus dampening his precious roll; he drew
out his rapier therefore and leaned on it. That helped him greatly.
Thus feeling his way, after the course of half an hour he heard a
slight sound directly in front.

"Ah! they are watching. The sortie has taught them wariness," thought
he.

And he went farther now very slowly. He was glad that he had not gone
astray, for the darkness was such that he could not see the end of the
rapier.

"Those trenches are considerably farther: I am advancing well then!"
whispered he to himself.

He hoped also not to find men before the intrenchment; for, properly
speaking, they had nothing to do there, especially at night. It might
be that at something like a hundred or fewer yards apart single
sentries were stationed; but he hoped to pass them in such darkness. It
was joyous in his soul.

Kmita was not only daring but audacious. The thought of bursting the
gigantic gun delighted him to the bottom of his soul,--not only as
heroism, not only as an immortal service to the besieged, but as a
terrible damage to the Swedes. He imagined how Miller would be
astounded, how he would gnash his teeth, how he would gaze in
helplessness on those walls; and at moments pure laughter seized him.

And as he had himself said, he felt no emotion, no fear, no unquiet. It
did not even enter his head to what an awful danger he was exposing
himself. He went on as a school-boy goes to an orchard to make havoc
among apples. He recalled other times when he harried Hovanski, stole
up at night to a camp of thirty thousand with two hundred such fighters
as himself.

His comrades stood before his mind: Kokosinski, the gigantic
Kulvyets-Hippocentaurus, the spotted Ranitski, of senatorial stock, and
others; then for a moment he sighed after them. "If they were here
now," thought he, "we might blow up six guns." Then the feeling of
loneliness oppressed him somewhat, but only for a short while; soon
memory brought before his eyes Olenka. Love spoke in him with
immeasurable power. He was moved to tenderness. If she could see him,
the heart would rejoice in her this time. Perhaps she thinks yet that
he is serving the Swedes. He is serving them nicely! And soon he will
oblige them! What will happen when she learns of all these perils? What
will she think? She will think surely, "He is a whirlwind, but when it
comes to a deed which no other can do, he will do it; where another
dares not go, he will go. Such a man is that Kmita!"

"Another such deed I shall never accomplish," said Pan Andrei; and
boastfulness seized him completely. Still, in spite of these thoughts
he did not forget where he was, whither he was going, what he intended
to do; and he began to advance like a wolf on a night pasture. He
looked behind once and a second time. No church, no cloister! All was
covered with thick, impenetrable gloom. He noted, however, by the time,
that he must have advanced far already, and that the trench might be
right there.

"I am curious to know if there are sentries," thought he.

But he had not advanced two steps after giving himself this question,
when, in front of him, was heard the tramp of measured steps and a
number of voices inquired at various distances,--

"Who goes?"

Pan Andrei stood as if fixed to the earth. He felt hot.

"Ours," answered a number of voices.

"The watchword!"

"Upsala."

"The counter-sign!"

"The crown."

Kmita saw at this moment that there was a change of sentries. "I'll
give you Upsala and a crown!" And he rejoiced. This was really for him
a very favorable circumstance, for he might pass the line of guards at
the moment of changing sentries, when the tramp of the soldiers drowned
his own steps.

In fact, he did so without the least difficulty, and went after the
returning soldiers rather boldly up to the trench itself. There they
made a turn to go around it; but he pushed quickly into the ditch and
hid in it.

Meanwhile objects had become somewhat more visible; Pan Andrei thanked
Heaven, for in the previous darkness he could not by feeling have found
the gun sought for. Now, by throwing back his head and straining his
vision, he saw above him a black line, indicating the edge of the
trench, and also the black outlines of the baskets between which stood
the guns.

He could indeed see their jaws thrust out a little above the trench.
Advancing slowly in the ditch, he discovered the great gun at last. He
halted and began to listen. From the intrenchment a noise came,--a
murmur; evidently the infantry were near the guns, in readiness. But
the height of the intrenchment concealed Kmita; they might hear him,
they could not see him. Now he had only to rise from below to the mouth
of the gun, which was high above his head.

Fortunately the sides of the ditch were not too steep; and besides the
embankment freshly made, or moist with water, had not frozen, since for
some time there had been a thaw.

Taking note of all this, Kmita began to sink holes quietly in the slope
of the intrenchment and to climb slowly to the gun. After fifteen
minutes' work he was able to seize the opening of the culverin. Soon he
was hanging in the air, but his uncommon strength permitted him to hold
himself thus till he pushed the roll into the jaws of the cannon.

"Here's dog sausage for thee!" muttered he, "only don't choke with it!"

Then he slipped down and began to look for the string, which, fastened
to the inner side of the roll, was hanging to the ditch. After a while
he felt it with his hand. But then came the greatest difficulty, for he
had to strike fire and ignite the string.

Kmita waited for a moment, thinking that the noise would increase
somewhat among the soldiers in the breastworks. At last he began to
strike the flint lightly with the steel. But that moment above his head
was heard in German the question,--

"Who is there in the ditch?"

"It is I, Hans!" answered Kmita, without hesitation; "the devils have
taken my ramrod into the ditch, and I am striking fire to find it."

"All right, all right," said the gunner. "It is your luck there is no
firing, for the wind would have taken your head off."

"Ah!" thought Kmita, "the gun besides my charge has still its own,--so
much the better."

At that moment the sulphur-string caught, and delicate little sparks
began to run upward along its dry exterior.

It was time to disappear. Kmita hurried along the ditch with all the
strength in his legs, not losing an instant, not thinking overmuch of
the noise he was making. But when he had run twenty yards, curiosity
overcame in him the feeling of his terrible danger.

"The string has gone out, there is moisture in the air!" thought he;
and he stopped. Casting a look behind, he saw a little spark yet, but
much higher than he had left it.

"Eh, am I not too near?" thought he; and fear hurried him forward.

He pushed on at full speed; all at once he struck a stone and fell. At
that moment a terrible roar rent the air; the earth trembled, pieces of
wood, iron, stones, lumps of ice and earth, whistled about his ears,
and here his sensations ended.

After that were heard new explosions in turn. These were powder-boxes
standing near the cannon which exploded from the shock.

But Kmita did not hear these; he lay as if dead in the ditch. He did
not hear also how, after a time of deep silence, the groans of men were
heard, cries and shouts for help; how nearly half the army, Swedish and
allied, assembled.

The confusion and uproar lasted long, till from the chaos of testimony
the Swedish general reached the fact that the siege-gun had been blown
up of purpose by some one. Search was ordered immediately. In the
morning the searching soldiers found Kmita lying in the ditch.

It appeared that he was merely stunned from the explosion. He had lost,
to begin with, control of his hands and feet. His powerlessness lasted
the whole ensuing day. They nursed him with the utmost care. In the
evening he had recovered his power almost completely.

He was brought then by command before Miller, who occupied the middle
place at the table in his quarters; around him sat the Prince of Hesse,
Count Veyhard, Sadovski, all the noted officers of the Swedes, of the
Poles, Zbrojek, Kalinski, and Kuklinovski. The last at sight of Kmita
became blue, his eyes burned like two coals, and his mustaches began to
quiver. Without awaiting the question of the general, he said,--

"I know this bird. He is from the Chenstohova garrison. His name is
Babinich."

Kmita was silent; pallor and weariness were evident on his face, but
his glance was bold and his countenance calm.

"Did you blow up the siege-gun?" asked Miller.

"I did."

"How did you do it?"

Kmita stated all briefly, concealed nothing. The officers looked at one
another in amazement.

"A hero!" whispered the Prince of Hesse to Sadovski.

But Sadovski inclined to Count Veyhard. "Count Veyhard," asked he, "how
are we to take a fortress with such defenders? What do you think, will
they surrender?"

"There are more of us in the fortress ready for such deeds," said
Kmita. "You know not the day nor the hour."

"I too have more than one halter in the camp," said Miller.

"We know that. But you will not take Yasna Gora while there is one man
alive there."

A moment of silence followed. Then Miller inquired,--

"Is your name Babinich?"

Pan Andrei thought that after what he had done, and in presence of
death, the time had come in which he had no need to conceal his name.
Let people forget the faults and transgressions bound up with it; let
glory and devotion shine over them.

"My name is not Babinich," said he, with a certain pride, "my name is
Andrei Kmita; I was colonel of my own personal squadron in the
Lithuanian contingent."

Hardly had Kuklinovski heard this when he sprang up as if possessed,
stuck out his eyes, opened his mouth, and began to strike his sides
with his hands. At last he cried,--

"General, I beg for a word without delay, without delay."

A murmur rose at the same time among the Polish officers, which the
Swedes heard with wonder, since for them the name Kmita meant nothing.
They noted at once that this must be no common soldier, for Zbrojek
rose, and approaching the prisoner said,--

"Worthy colonel, in the straits in which you are I cannot help you; but
give me your hand, I pray."

Kmita raised his head and began to snort.

"I will not give a hand to traitors who serve against their country!"

Zbrojek's face flushed. Kalinski, who stood right behind him, withdrew.
The Swedish officers surrounded them at once, asking what man this
Kmita was whose name had made such an impression. During this time
Kuklinovski had squeezed Miller up to the window, and said,--

"For your worthiness the name Kmita is nothing; but he is the first
soldier, the first colonel, in the whole Commonwealth. All know of him,
all know that name; once he served Radzivill and the Swedes; now it is
clear that he has gone over to Yan Kazimir. There is not his equal
among soldiers, save me. He was the only man who could go alone and
blow up that gun. From this one deed you may know him. He fought
Hovanski, so that a reward was put on his head. He with two or three
hundred men kept up the whole war after the defeat at Shklov, until
others were found who, imitating him, began to tear at the enemy. He is
the most dangerous man in all the country--"

"Why do you sing his praises to me?" inquired Miller. "That he is
dangerous I know to my own irreparable loss."

"What does your worthiness think of doing with him?"

"I should give orders to hang him; but being a soldier myself, I know
how to value daring and bravery. Besides, he is a noble of high
birth,--I will order him shot, and that to-day."

"Your worthiness, it is not for me to instruct the most celebrated
soldier and statesman of modern times; but I permit myself to say that
that man is too famous. If you shoot him, Zbrojek's squadron and
Kalinski's will withdraw at the latest this very day, and go over to
Yan Kazimir."

"If that is true, I'll have them cut to pieces before they go!" cried
Miller.

"Your worthiness, a terrible responsibility! for if that becomes
known,--and the cutting down of two squadrons is hard to hide,--the
whole Polish army will leave Karl Gustav; at present their loyalty is
tottering, as you know. The hetmans are not reliable. Pan Konyetspolski
with six thousand of the best cavalry is at the side of our king. That
force is no trifle. God defend us if these too should turn against us,
against the person of his Royal Grace! Besides, this fortress defends
itself; and to cut down the squadrons of Zbrojek and Kalinski is no
easy matter, for Wolf is here too with his infantry. They might come to
an agreement with the garrison of the fortress."

"A hundred horned devils!" cried Miller; "what do you want,
Kuklinovski? do you want me to give Kmita his life? That cannot be."

"I want," answered Kuklinovski, "you to give him to me."

"What will you do with him?"

"Ah, I--will tear him alive from his skin."

"You did not know even his real name, you do not know him. What have
you against him?"

"I made his acquaintance first in the fortress, where I have been twice
as an envoy to the monks."

"Have you reasons for vengeance?"

"Your worthiness, I wished privately to bring him to our camp. He,
taking advantage of the fact that I laid aside my office of envoy,
insulted me, Kuklinovski, as no man in life has insulted me."

"What did he do to you?"

Kuklinovski trembled and gnashed his teeth. "Better not speak of it.
Only give him to me. He is doomed to death anyhow, and I would like
before his end to have a little amusement with him,--all the more
because he is the Kmita whom formerly I venerated, and who repaid me in
such fashion. Give him to me; it will be better for you. If I rub him
out, Zbrojek and Kalinski and with them all the Polish knighthood will
fall not upon you, but upon me, and I'll help myself. There will not be
anger, wry faces, and mutiny. It will be my private matter about
Kmita's skin, of which I shall have a drum made."

Miller fell to thinking; a sudden suspicion flashed over his face.

"Kuklinovski," said he, "maybe you wish to save him?"

Kuklinovski smiled quietly, but that smile was so terrible and sincere
that Miller ceased to doubt.

"Perhaps you give sound advice," said he.

"For all my services I beg this reward only."

"Take him, then."

Now both returned to the room where the rest of the officers were
assembled. Miller turned to them and said,--

"In view of the services of Pan Kuklinovski I place at his absolute
disposal this prisoner."

A moment of silence followed; then Pan Zbrojek put his hands on his
sides, and asked with a certain accent of contempt,--

"And what does Pan Kuklinovski think to do with the prisoner?"

Kuklinovski bent, straightened himself quickly, his lips opened with an
ill-omened smile, and his eyes began to quiver.

"Whoso is not pleased with what I do to the prisoner, knows where to
find me." And he shook his sabre.

"Your promise, Pan Kuklinovski," said Zbrojek.

"Promise, promise!"

When he had said this he approached Kmita. "Follow me, little worm;
come after me, famous soldier. Thou'rt a trifle weak; thou needst
swathing,--I'll swathe thee."

"Ruffian!" said Kmita.

"Very good, very good, daring soul! Meanwhile step along."

The officers remained in the room; Kuklinovski mounted his horse before
the quarters. Having with him three soldiers, he commanded one of them
to lead Kmita by a lariat; and all went together toward Lgota, where
Kuklinovski's regiment was quartered.

On the way Kmita prayed ardently. He saw that death was approaching,
and he committed himself with his whole soul to God. He was so sunk in
prayer and in his own doom that he did not hear what Kuklinovski said
to him; he did not know even how long the road was.

They stopped at last before an empty, half-ruined barn, standing in the
open field, at some distance from the quarters of Kuklinovski's
regiment. The colonel ordered them to lead Kmita in, and turning
himself to one of the soldiers, said,--

"Hurry for me to the camp, bring ropes and a tar bucket!"

The soldier galloped with all the breath in his horse, and in quarter
of an hour returned at the same pace, with a comrade. They had brought
the requisite articles.

"Strip this spark naked!" ordered Kuklinovski; "tie his hands and feet
behind him with a rope, and then fasten him to a beam."

"Ruffian!" said Kmita.

"Good, good! we can talk yet, we have time!"

Meanwhile one of the soldiers climbed up on the beam, and the others
fell to dragging the clothes from Kmita. When he was naked the three
executioners placed Pan Andrei with his face to the ground, bound his
hands and feet with a long rope, then passing it still around his waist
they threw the other end to the soldier sitting on the beam.

"Now raise him, and let the man on the beam pull the rope and tie it!"
said Kuklinovski.

In a moment the order was obeyed.

"Let him go!"

The rope squeaked. Pan Andrei was hanging parallel with the earth, a
few ells above the threshing-floor. Then Kuklinovski dipped tow in the
burning tar-bucket, walked up to him, and said,--

"Well, Pan Kmita, did not I say that there are two colonels in the
Commonwealth?--only two, I and thou! And thou didst not wish to join
company with Kuklinovski, and kicked him! Well, little worm, thou art
right! Not for thee is the company of Kuklinovski, for Kuklinovski is
better. Hei! a famous colonel is Pan Kmita, and Kuklinovski has him in
his hand, and Kuklinovski is roasting his sides!"

"Ruffian!" repeated Kmita, for the third time.

"This is how he will roast his sides!" finished Kuklinovski, and he
touched Kmita's side with the burning tow; then he said,--

"Not too much at first; we have time."

Just then the tramp of horses was heard near the barn-door.

"Whom are the devils bringing?" asked Kuklinovski.

The door squeaked and a soldier entered. "General Miller wishes to see
your grace at once!"

"Ah! that is thou, old man?" asked Kuklinovski. "What business? What
devil?"

"The general asks your grace to come to him straightway."

"Who came from the general?"

"There was a Swedish officer; he has ridden off already. He had almost
driven the breath out of his horse."

"I'll go," said Kuklinovski. Then he turned to Kmita: "It was hot for
thee; cool off now, little worm. I'll come again soon, we'll have
another talk."

"What shall be done with the prisoner?" asked one of the soldiers.

"Leave him as he is. I shall return directly. Let one go with me."

The colonel went out, and with him that soldier who had sat on the beam
at first. There remained only three, but soon three new ones entered
the barn.

"You may go to sleep," said he who had reported Miller's order to
Kuklinovski, "the colonel has left the guard to us."

"We prefer to remain," replied one of the first three soldiers, "to see
the wonder; for such a--"

Suddenly he stopped. A certain unearthly sound was wrested from his
throat like the call of a strangled cock. He threw out his arms and
fell as if struck by lightning.

At the same moment the cry of "Pound" was heard through the barn, and
two of the newly arrived rushed like leopards on the two remaining
soldiers. A terrible, short struggle surged up, lighted by the gleams
of the burning tar-bucket. After a moment two bodies fell in the straw,
for a moment longer were heard the gasps of the dying, then that voice
rose which at first seemed familiar to Kmita.

"Your grace, it is I, Kyemlich, and my sons. We have been waiting since
morning for a chance, we have been watching since morning." Then
he turned to his sons: "Now out, rogues, free the colonel in a
breath,--quickly!"

And before Kmita was able to understand what was taking place there
appeared near him the two bushy forelocks of Kosma and Damian, like two
gigantic distaffs. The ropes were soon cut, and Kmita stood on his
feet. He tottered at first; his stiffened lips were barely able to
say,--

"That is you?--I am thankful."

"It is I!" answered the terrible old man. "Mother of God! Oh--let his
grace dress quickly. You rogues--" And he began to give Kmita his
clothes.

"The horses are standing at the door," said he. "From here the way is
open. There are guards; maybe they would let no one in, but as to
letting out, they will let out. We know the password. How does your
grace feel?"

"He burned my side, but only a little. My feet are weak--"

"Drink some gorailka."

Kmita seized with eagerness the flask the old man gave him, and
emptying half of it said,--

"I was stiff from the cold. I shall be better at once."

"Your grace will grow warm on the saddle. The horses are waiting."

"In a moment I shall be better," repeated Kmita. "My side is smarting a
little--that's nothing!--I am quite well." And he sat on the edge of a
grain-bin.

After a while he recovered his strength really, and looked with perfect
presence of mind on the ill-omened faces of the three Kyemliches,
lighted by the yellowish flame of the burning pitch. The old man stood
before him.

"Your grace, there is need of haste. The horses are waiting."

But in Pan Andrei the Kmita of old times was roused altogether.

"Oh, impossible!" cried he, suddenly; "now I am waiting for that
traitor."

The Kyemliches looked amazed, but uttered not a word,--so accustomed
were they from former times to listen blindly to this leader.

The veins came out on his forehead; his eyes were burning in the dark,
like two stars, such was the hate and the desire of vengeance that
gleamed in them. That which he did then was madness, he might pay for
it with his life; but his life was made up of a series of such
madnesses. His side pained him fiercely, so that every moment he seized
it unwittingly with his hand; but he was thinking only of Kuklinovski,
and he was ready to wait for him even till morning.

"Listen!" said he; "did Miller really call him?"

"No," answered the old man. "I invented that to manage the others here
more easily. It would have been hard for us three against five, for
some one might have raised a cry."

"That was well. He will return alone or in company. If there are any
people with him, then strike at once on them. Leave him to me. Then to
horse! Has any one pistols?"

"I have," said Kosma.

"Give them here! Are they loaded, is there powder in the pan?"

"Yes."

"Very well. If he comes back alone, when he enters spring on him and
shut his mouth. You can stuff his own cap into it."

"According to command," said the old man. "Your grace permits us now to
search these? We are poor men."

He pointed to the corpses lying on the straw.

"No! Be on the watch. What you find on Kuklinovski will be yours."

"If he returns alone," said the old man, "I fear nothing. I shall stand
behind the door; and even if some one from the quarters should come, I
shall say that the colonel gave orders not to admit."

"That will do. Watch!"

The tramp of a horse was heard behind the barn. Kmita sprang up and
stood in the shadow at the wall. Kosma and Damian took their places
near the door, like two cats waiting for a mouse.

"He is alone," said the old man.

"Alone," repeated Kosma and Damian.

The tramp approached, was right there and halted suddenly.

"Come out here, some one,--hold the horse!"

The old man jumped out quickly. A moment of silence followed, then to
those waiting in the barn came the following conversation,--

"Is that you, Kyemlich? What the thunder! art mad, or an idiot? It is
night, Miller is asleep. The guard will not give admission; they say
that no officer went away. How is that?"

"The officer is waiting here in the barn for your grace. He came right
away after you rode off; he says that he missed your grace."

"What does all this mean? But the prisoner?"

"Is hanging."

The door squeaked, and Kuklinovski pushed into the barn; but before he
had gone a step two iron hands caught him by the throat, and smothered
his cry of terror. Kosma and Damian, with the adroitness of genuine
murderers, hurled him to the ground, put their knees on his breast,
pressed him so that his ribs began to crack, and gagged him in the
twinkle of an eye.

Kmita came forward, and holding the pitch light to his eyes, said,--

"Ah! this is Pan Kuklinovski! Now I have something to say to you!"

Kuklinovski's face was blue, the veins were so swollen that it seemed
they might burst any moment; but in his eyes, which were coming out of
his head and bloodshot, there was quite as much wonder as terror.

"Strip him and put him on the beam!" cried Kmita.

Kosma and Damian fell to stripping him as zealously as if they wished
to take the skin from him together with his clothing.

In a quarter of an hour Kuklinovski was hanging by his hands and feet,
like a half goose, on the beam. Then Kmita put his hands on his hips
and began to brag terribly.

"Well, Pan Kuklinovski," said he, "who is better, Kmita or Kuklinovski?"
Then he seized the burning tow and took a step nearer. "Thy camp is
distant one shot from a bow, thy thousand ruffians are within call,
there is thy Swedish general a little beyond, and thou art hanging here
from this same beam from which 'twas thy thought to roast me.--Learn to
know Kmita! Thou hadst the thought to be equal to Kmita, to belong to
his company, to be compared with him? Thou cut-purse, thou low ruffian,
terror of old women, thou offscouring of man. Lord Scoundrel of
Scoundrelton! Wry-mouth, trash, slave! I might have thee cut up like a
kid, like a capon; but I choose to roast thee alive as thou didst think
to roast me."

Saying this, he raised the tow and applied it to the side of the
hanging, hapless man; but he held it longer, until the odor of the
burned flesh began to spread through the barn.

Kuklinovski writhed till the rope was swinging with him. His eyes,
fastened on Kmita, expressed terrible pain and a dumb imploring for
pity; from his gagged lips came woful groans; but war had hardened the
heart of Pan Andrei, and there was no pity in him, above all, none for
traitors.

Removing at last the tow from Kuklinovski's side, he put it for a while
under his nose, rubbed with it his mustaches, his eyelashes, and his
brows; then he said,--

"I give thee thy life to meditate on Kmita. Thou wilt hang here till
morning, and now pray to God that people find thee before thou art
frozen."

Then he turned to Kosma and Damian. "To horse!" cried he, and went out
of the barn.

Half an hour later around the four riders were quiet hills, silent and
empty fields. The fresh breeze, not filled with smoke of powder,
entered their lungs. Kmita rode ahead, the Kyemliches after him. They
spoke in low voices. Pan Andrei was silent, or rather he was repeating
in silence the morning "Our Father," for it was not long before dawn.

From time to time a hiss or even a low groan was rent from his lips,
when his burned side pained him greatly. But at the same time he felt
on horseback and free; and the thought that he had blown up the
greatest siege gun, and besides that had torn himself from the hands of
Kuklinovski and had wrought vengeance on him, filled Pan Andrei with
such consolation that in view of it the pain was nothing.

Meanwhile a quiet dialogue between the father and the sons turned into
a loud dispute.

"The money belt is good," said the greedy old man; "but where are the
rings? He had rings on his fingers; in one was a stone worth twenty
ducats."

"I forgot to take it," answered Kosma.

"I wish you were killed! Let the old man think of everything, and these
rascals haven't wit for a copper! You forgot the rings, you thieves?
You lie like dogs!"

"Then turn back, father, and look," muttered Damian.

"You lie, you thieves! You hide things. You wrong your old
father,--such sons! I wish that I had not begotten you. You will die
without a blessing."

Kmita reined in his horse somewhat. "Come this way!" called he.

The dispute ceased, the Kyemliches hurried up, and they rode farther
four abreast.

"And do you know the road to the Silesian boundary?"
asked Pan Andrei.

"O Mother of God! we know, we know," answered the old man.

"There are no Swedish parties on the road?"

"No, for all are at Chenstohova, unless we might meet a single man; but
God give us one!"

A moment of silence followed.

"Then you served with Kuklinovski?" asked Kmita.

"We did, for we thought that being near we might serve the holy monks
and your grace, and so it has happened. We did not serve against the
fortress,--God save us from that! we took no pay unless we found
something on Swedes."

"How on Swedes?"

"For we wanted to serve the Most Holy Lady even outside the walls;
therefore we rode around the camp at night or in the daytime, as the
Lord God gave us; and when any of the Swedes happened alone, then
we--that is--O Refuge of sinners!--we--"

"Pounded him!" finished Kosma and Damian.

Kmita laughed. "Kuklinovski had good servants in you. But did he know
about this?"

"He received a share, an income. He knew, and the scoundrel commanded
us to give a thaler a head. Otherwise he threatened to betray us. Such
a robber,--he wronged poor men! And we have kept faith with your grace,
for not such is service with you. Your grace adds besides of your own;
but he, a thaler a head, for our toil, for our labor. On him may God--"

"I will reward you abundantly for what you have done," said Kmita. "I
did not expect this of you."

The distant sound of guns interrupted further words. Evidently the
Swedes had begun to fire with the first dawn. After a while the roar
increased. Kmita stopped his horse; it seemed to him that he
distinguished the sound of the fortress cannon from the cannon of the
Swedes, therefore he clinched his fist, and threatening with it in the
direction of the enemies' camp said,--

"Fire away, fire away! Where is your greatest gun now?"



                               CHAPTER V.


The bursting of the gigantic culverin had really a crushing effect upon
Miller, for all his hopes had rested hitherto on that gun. Infantry
were ready for the assault, ladders and piles of fascines were
collected; but now it was necessary to abandon all thought of a storm.

The plan of blowing up the cloister by means of mines came also to
nothing. Miners brought in previously from Olkush split, it is true,
the rock, and approached on a diagonal to the cloister; but work
progressed slowly. The workmen, in spite of every precaution, fell
frequently from the guns of the church, and labored unwillingly. Many
of them preferred to die rather than aid in the destruction of a sacred
place.

Miller felt a daily increasing opposition. The frost took away the
remnant of courage from his unwilling troops, among whom terror was
spreading from day to day with a belief that the capture of the
cloister did not lie within human power.

Finally Miller himself began to lose hope, and after the bursting of
the gun he was simply in despair; a feeling of helplessness and
impotence took possession of him. Next morning he called a council, but
he called it with the secret wish to hear from officers encouragement
to abandon the fortress.

They began to assemble, all wearied and gloomy. In silence they took
their places around a table in an enormous and cold room, in which the
steam from their breaths stood before their faces, and they looked from
behind it as from behind a cloud. Each one felt in his soul exhaustion
and weariness; each one said to himself: "There is no counsel to give
save one, which it is better for no man to be the first to give." All
waited for what Miller would say. He ordered first of all to bring
plenty of heated wine, hoping that under the influence of warm drink it
would be easier to obtain a real thought from those silent figures, and
encouragement to retreat from the fortress.

At last, when he supposed that the wine had produced its effect, he
spoke in the following words--

"Have you noticed, gentlemen, that none of the Polish colonels have
come to this council, though I summoned them all?"

"It is known of course to your worthiness that servants of the Polish
squadron have, while fishing, found silver belonging to the cloister,
and that they fought for it with our soldiers. More than ten men have
been cut down."

"I know; I succeeded in snatching a part of that silver from their
hands, indeed the greater part. It is here now, and I am thinking what
to do with it."

"This is surely the cause of the anger of the Polish colonels. They say
that if the Poles found the silver, it belongs to the Poles."

"That's a reason!" cried Count Veyhard.

"For my mind, it is a strong reason," said Sadovski; "and I think that
if you had found the silver you would not feel bound to divide it, not
only with the Poles, but even with me, a Cheh."

"First of all, my dear sir, I do not share your good will for the
enemies of our king," answered the count, with a frown.

"But we, thanks to you, must share with you shame and disgrace, not
being able to succeed against a fortress to which you have brought us."

"Then have you lost all hope?"

"But have you any yourself to give away?"

"Just as if you knew; and I think that these gentlemen share more
willingly with me in my hope, than with you in your fear."

"Do you make me a coward, Count Veyhard?"

"I do not ascribe to you more courage than you show."

"And I ascribe to you less."

"But I," said Miller, who for some time had looked on the count with
dislike as the instigator of the ill-starred undertaking, "shall have
the silver sent to the cloister. Perhaps kindness and graciousness will
do more with these surly monks than balls and cannon. Let them
understand that we wish to possess the fortress, not their treasures."

The officers looked on Miller with wonder, so little accustomed were
they to magnanimity from him. At last Sadovski said,--

"Nothing better could be done, for it will close at once the mouths of
the Polish colonels who lay claim to the silver. In the fortress it
will surely make a good impression."

"The death of that Kmita will make the best impression," answered Count
Veyhard. "I hope that Kuklinovski has already torn him out of his
skin."

"I think that he is no longer alive," said Miller. "But that name
reminds me of our loss, which nothing can make good. That was the
greatest gun in the whole artillery of his grace. I do not hide from
you, gentlemen, that all my hopes were placed on it. The breach was
already made, terror was spreading in the fortress. A couple of days
longer and we should have moved to a storm. Now all our labor is
useless, all our exertions vain. They will repair the wall in one day.
And the guns which we have now are no better than those of the
fortress, and can be easily dismounted. No larger ones can be had
anywhere, for even Marshal Wittemberg hasn't them. The more I ponder
over it, the more the disaster seems dreadful. And to think that one
man did this,--one dog! one Satan! I shall go mad! To all the horned
devils!"

Here Miller struck the table with his fist, for unrestrained anger had
seized him, the more desperately because he was powerless. After a
while he cried,--

"But what will the king say when he hears of this loss?" After a while
he added: "And what shall we do? We cannot gnaw away that cliff with
our teeth. Would that the plague might strike those who persuaded me to
come to this fortress!"

Having said this, he took a crystal goblet, and in his excitement
hurled it to the floor so that the crystal was broken into small bits.

This unbecoming frenzy, more befitting a peasant than a warrior holding
such a high office, turned all hearts from him, and soured good-humor
completely.

"Give counsel, gentlemen!" cried Miller.

"It is possible to counsel, but only in calmness," answered the Prince
of Hesse.

Miller began to puff and blow out his anger through his nostrils. After
a time he grew calm, and passing his eyes over those present as if
encouraging them with a glance, he said,--

"I ask your pardon, gentlemen, but my anger is not strange. I will not
mention those places which, when I had taken command after Torstenson,
I captured, for I do not wish, in view of the present disaster, to
boast of past fortune. All that is done at this fortress simply passes
reason. But still it is necessary to take counsel. For that purpose I
have summoned you. Deliberate, then, and what the majority of us
determine at this council will be done."

"Let your worthiness give us the subject for deliberation," said the
Prince of Hesse. "Have we to deliberate only concerning the capture of
the fortress, or also concerning this, whether it is better to
withdraw?"

Miller did not wish to put the question so clearly, or at least he did
not wish the "either--or," to come first from his mouth; therefore he
said,--

"Let each speak clearly what he thinks. It should be a question for us
of the profit and praise of the king."

But none of the officers wished more than Miller to appear first with
the proposition to retreat, therefore there was silence again.

"Pan Sadovski," said Miller after a while, in a voice which he tried to
make agreeable and kind, "you say what you think more sincerely than
others, for your reputation insures you against all suspicion."

"I think, General," answered the colonel, "that Kmita was one of the
greatest soldiers of this age, and that our position is desperate."

"But you were in favor of withdrawing from the fortress?"

"With permission of your worthiness, I was only in favor of not
beginning the siege. That is a thing quite different."

"Then what do you advise now?"

"Now I give the floor to Count Veyhard."

Miller swore like a pagan.

"Count Veyhard will answer for this unfortunate affair," said he.

"My counsels have not all been carried out," answered the count,
insolently. "I can boldly cast responsibility from myself. There were
men who with a wonderful, in truth an inexplicable, good-will for the
priests, dissuaded his worthiness from all severe measures. My advice
was to hang those envoy priests, and I am convinced that if this had
been done terror would have opened to us before this time the gates of
that hen-house."

Here the count looked at Sadovski; but before the latter had answered,
the Prince of Hesse interfered: "Count, do not call that fortress a
hen-house, for the more you decrease its importance the more you
increase our shame."

"Nevertheless I advised to hang the envoys. Terror and always terror,
that is what I repeated from morning till night; but Pan Sadovski
threatened resignation, and the priests went unharmed."

"Go, Count, to-day to the fortress," answered Sadovski, "blow up with
powder their greatest gun as Kmita did ours, and I guarantee that, that
will spread more terror than a murderous execution of envoys."

The count turned directly to Miller: "Your worthiness I thought we had
come here for counsel and not for amusement."

"Have you an answer to baseless reproaches?" asked Miller.

"I have, in spite of the joyousness of these gentlemen, who might save
their humor for better times."

"Oh, son of Laertes, famous for stratagems!" exclaimed the Prince of
Hesse.

"Gentlemen," answered the count, "it is universally known that not
Minerva but Mars is your guardian deity; but since Mars has not favored
you, and you have renounced your right of speech, let me speak."

"The mountain is beginning to groan, and soon we shall see the small
tail of a mouse," said Sadovski.

"I ask for silence!" said Miller, severely. "Speak, Count, but keep in
mind that up to this moment your counsels have given bitter fruit."

"Which, though it is winter, we must eat like mouldy biscuits," put in
the Prince of Hesse.

"This explains why your princely highness drinks so much wine," said
Count Veyhard; "and though it does not take the place of native wit, it
helps you to a happy digestion of even disgrace. But no matter! I know
well that there is a party in the fortress which is long desirous of
surrender, and that only our weakness on one side and the superhuman
stubbornness of the prior on the other keep it in check. New terror
will give this party new power; for this purpose we should show that we
make no account of the loss of the gun, and storm the more vigorously."

"Is that all?"

"Even if it were all, I think that such counsel is more in accordance
with the honor of Swedish soldiers than barren jests at cups, or than
sleeping after drinking-bouts. But that is not all. We should spread
the report among our soldiers, and especially among the Poles, that the
men at work now making a mine have discovered the old underground
passage leading to the cloister and the church."

"That is good counsel," said Miller.

"When this report is spread among the soldiers and the Poles, the Poles
themselves will persuade the monks to surrender, for it is a question
with them as with the monks, that that nest of superstitions should
remain intact."

"For a Catholic that is not bad!" muttered Sadovski.

"If he served the Turks he would call Rome a nest of superstitions,"
said the Prince of Hesse.

"Then, beyond doubt, the Poles will send envoys to the priests,"
continued Count Veyhard,--"that party in the cloister, which is long
anxious for surrender will renew its efforts under the influence of
fear; and who knows but its members will force the prior and the
stubborn to open the gates?"

"The city of Priam will perish through the cunning of the divine son of
Laertes," declaimed the Prince of Hesse.

"As God lives, a real Trojan history, and he thinks he has invented
something new!" said Sadovski.

But the advice pleased Miller, for in very truth it was not bad. The
party which the count spoke of existed really in the cloister. Even
some priests of weaker soul belonged to it. Besides, fear might extend
among the garrison, including even those who so far were ready to
defend it to the last drop of blood.

"Let us try, let us try!" said Miller, who like a drowning man seized
every plank, and from despair passed easily to hope. "But will
Kuklinovski or Zbrojek agree to go again as envoys to the cloister, or
will they believe in that passage, and will they inform the priests of
it?"

"In every case Kuklinovski will agree," answered the count; "but it is
better that he should believe really in the existence of the passage."

At that moment they heard the tramp of a horse in front of the
quarters.

"There, Pan Zbrojek has come!" said the Prince of Hesse, looking
through the window.

A moment later spurs rattled, and Zbrojek entered, or rather rushed
into the room. His face was pale, excited, and before the officers
could ask the cause of his excitement the colonel cried,--

"Kuklinovski is no longer living!"

"How? What do you say? What has happened?" exclaimed Miller.

"Let me catch breath," said Zbrojek, "for what I have seen passes
imagination."

"Talk more quickly. Has he been murdered?" cried all.

"By Kmita," answered Zbrojek.

The officers all sprang from their seats, and began to look at Zbrojek
as at a madman; and he, while blowing in quick succession bunches of
steam from his nostrils, said,--

"If I had not seen I should not have believed, for that is not a human
power. Kuklinovski is not living, three soldiers are killed, and of
Kmita not a trace. I know that he was a terrible man. His reputation is
known in the whole country. But for him, a prisoner and bound, not only
to free himself, but to kill the soldiers and torture Kuklinovski to
death,--that a man could not do, only a devil!"

"Nothing like that has ever happened; that's impossible of belief!"
whispered Sadovski.

"That Kmita has shown what he can do," said the Prince of Hesse. "We
did not believe the Poles yesterday when they told us what kind of bird
he was; we thought they were telling big stories, as is usual with
them."

"Enough to drive a man mad," said the count.

Miller seized his head with his hands, and said nothing. When at last
he raised his eyes, flashes of wrath were crossing in them with flashes
of suspicion.

"Pan Zbrojek," said he, "though he were Satan and not a man, he could
not do this without some treason, without assistance. Kmita had his
admirers here; Kuklinovski his enemies, and you belong to the number."

Zbrojek was in the full sense of the word an insolent soldier;
therefore when he heard an accusation directed against himself, he grew
still paler, sprang from his place, approached Miller, and halting in
front of him looked him straight in the eyes.

"Does your worthiness suspect me?" inquired he.

A very oppressive moment followed. The officers present had not the
slightest doubt were Miller to give an affirmative answer something
would follow terrible and unparalled in the history of camps. All hands
rested on their rapier hilts. Sadovski even drew his weapon altogether.

But at that moment the officers saw before the window a yard filled
with Polish horsemen. Probably they also had come with news of
Kuklinovski, but in case of collision they would stand beyond doubt on
Zbrojek's side. Miller too saw them, and though the paleness of rage
had come on his face, still he restrained himself, and feigning to see
no challenge in Zbrojek's action, he answered in a voice which he
strove to make natural,--

"Tell in detail how it happened."

Zbrojek stood for a time yet with nostrils distended, but he too
remembered himself; and then his thoughts turned in another direction,
for his comrades, who had just ridden up, entered the room.

"Kuklinovski is murdered!" repeated they, one after another.
"Kuklinovski is killed! His regiment will scatter! His soldiers are
going wild!"

"Gentlemen, permit Pan Zbrojek to speak; he brought the news first,"
cried Miller.

After a while there was silence, and Zbrojek spoke as follows,--

"It is known to you, gentlemen, that at the last council I challenged
Kuklinovski on the word of a cavalier. I was an admirer of Kmita, it is
true; but even you, though his enemies, must acknowledge that no common
man could have done such a deed as bursting that cannon. It behooves us
to esteem daring even in an enemy; therefore I offered him my hand, but
he refused his, and called me a traitor. Then I thought to myself, 'Let
Kuklinovski do what he likes with him.' My only other thought was this:
'If Kuklinovski acts against knightly honor in dealing with Kmita, the
disgrace of his deed must not fall on all Poles, and among others on
me.' For that very reason I wished surely to fight with Kuklinovski,
and this morning taking two comrades, I set out for his camp. We come
to his quarters; they say there, 'He is not at home.' I send to this
place,--he is not here. At his quarters they tell us, 'He has not
returned the whole night.' But they are not alarmed, for they think
that he has remained with your worthiness. At last one soldier says,
'Last evening he went to that little barn in the field with Kmita, whom
he was going to burn there.' I ride to the barn; the doors are wide
open. I enter; I see inside a naked body hanging from a beam. 'That is
Kmita,' thought I; but when my eyes have grown used to the darkness, I
see that the body is some thin and bony one, and Kmita looked like a
Hercules. It is a wonder to me that he could shrink so much in one
night. I draw near--Kuklinovski!"

"Hanging from the beam?" asked Miller.

"Exactly! I make the sign of the cross,--I think, 'Is it witchcraft, an
omen, deception, or what?' But when I saw three corpses of soldiers,
the truth stood as if living before me. That terrible man had killed
these, hung Kuklinovski, burned him like an executioner, and then
escaped."

"It is not far to the Silesian boundary," said Sadovski.

A moment of silence followed. Every suspicion of Zbrojek's
participation in the affair was extinguished in Miller's soul. But the
event itself astonished and filled him with a certain undefined fear.
He saw dangers rising around, or rather their terrible shadows, against
which he knew not how to struggle; he felt that some kind of chain of
failures surrounded him. The first links were before his eyes, but
farther the gloom of the future was lying. Just such a feeling mastered
him as if he were in a cracked house which might fall on his head any
moment. Uncertainty crushed him with an insupportable weight, and he
asked himself what he had to lay hands on.

Meanwhile Count Veyhard struck himself on the forehead. "As God lives,"
said he, "when I saw this Kmita yesterday it seemed as if I had known
him somewhere. Now again I see before me that face. I remember the
sound of his voice. I must have met him for a short time and in the
dark, in the evening; but he is going through my head,--going--" Here
he began to rub his forehead with his hand.

"What is that to us?" asked Miller; "you will not mend the gun, even
should you remember; you will not bring Kuklinovski to life."

Here he turned to the officers. "Gentlemen, come with me, whoso wishes,
to the scene of this deed."

All wished to go, for curiosity was exciting them. Horses were brought,
and they moved on at a trot, the general at the head. When they came to
the little barn they saw a number of tens of Polish horsemen scattered
around that building, on the road, and along the field.

"What men are they?" asked Miller of Zbrojek.

"They must be Kuklinovski's; I tell your worthiness that those
ragamuffins have simply gone wild."

Zbrojek then beckoned to one of the horsemen,--

"Come this way, come this way. Quickly!"

The soldier rode up.

"Are you Kuklinovski's men?"

"Yes."

"Where is the rest of the regiment?"

"They have run away. They refused to serve longer against Yasna Gora."

"What does he say?" asked Miller.

Zbrojek interpreted the words.

"Ask him where they went to."

Zbrojek repeated the question.

"It is unknown," said the soldier. "Some have gone to Silesia. Others
said that they would serve with Kmita, for there is not another such
colonel either among the Poles or the Swedes."

When Zbrojek interpreted these words to Miller, he grew serious. In
truth, such men as Kuklinovski had were ready to pass over to the
command of Kmita without hesitation. But then they might become
terrible, if not for Miller's army, at least for his supplies and
communication. A river of perils was rising higher and higher around
the enchanted fortress.

Zbrojek, into whose head this idea must have come, said, as if in
answer to these thoughts of Miller: "It is certain that everything is
in a storm now in our Commonwealth. Let only such a Kmita shout,
hundreds and thousands will surround him, especially after what he has
done."

"But what can he effect?" asked Miller.

"Remember, your worthiness, that that man brought Hovanski to
desperation, and Hovanski had, counting the Cossacks, six times as
many men as we. Not a transport will come to us without his permission,
the country houses are destroyed, and we are beginning to feel hunger.
Besides, this Kmita may join with Jegotski and Kulesha; then he will
have several thousand sabres at his call. He is a grievous man, and may
become most harmful."

"Are you sure of your soldiers?"

"Surer than of myself," answered Zbrojek, with brutal frankness.

"How surer?"

"For, to tell the truth, we have all of us enough of this siege."

"I trust that it will soon come to an end."

"Only the question is: How? But for that matter to capture this
fortress is at present as great a calamity as to retire from it."

Meanwhile they had reached the little barn. Miller dismounted, after
him the officers, and all entered. The soldiers had removed Kuklinovski
from the beam, and covering him with a rug laid him on his back on
remnants of straw. The bodies of three soldiers lay at one side, placed
evenly one by the other.

"These were killed with knives."

"But Kuklinovski?"

"There are no wounds on Kuklinovski, but his side is roasted and his
mustaches daubed with pitch. He must have perished of cold or
suffocation, for he holds his own cap in his teeth to this moment."

"Uncover him."

The soldier raised a corner of the rug, and a terrible face was
uncovered, swollen, with eyes bursting out. On the remnants of his
pitched mustaches were icicles formed from his frozen breath and mixed
with soot, making as it were tusks sticking out of his mouth. That face
was so revolting that Miller, though accustomed to all kinds of
ghastliness, shuddered and said,--

"Cover it quickly. Terrible, terrible!"

Silence reigned in the barn.

"Why have we come here?" asked the Prince of Hesse, spitting. "I shall
not touch food for a whole day."

All at once some kind of uncommon exasperation closely bordering on
frenzy took possession of Miller. His face became blue, his eyes
expanded, he began to gnash his teeth, a wild thirst for the blood of
some one had seized him; then turning to Zbrojek, he screamed,--

"Where is that soldier who saw that Kuklinovski was in the barn? He
must be a confederate!"

"I know not whether that soldier is here yet," answered Zbrojek. "All
Kuklinovski's men have scattered like oxen let out from the yoke."

"Then catch him!" bellowed Miller, in fury.

"Catch him yourself!" cried Zbrojek, in similar fury.

And again a terrible outburst hung as it were on a spider-web over the
heads of the Swedes and the Poles. The latter began to gather around
Zbrojek, moving their mustaches threateningly and rattling their
sabres.

During this noise the echoes of shots and the tramp of horses were
heard, and into the barn rushed a Swedish officer of cavalry.

"General!" cried he. "A sortie from the cloister! The men working at
the mine have been cut to pieces! A party of infantry is scattered!"

"I shall go wild!" roared Miller, seizing the hair of his wig. "To
horse!"

In a moment they were all rushing like a whirlwind toward the cloister,
so that lumps of snow fell like hail from the hoofs of their horses. A
hundred of Sadovski's cavalry, under command of his brother, joined
Miller and ran to assist. On the way they saw parties of terrified
infantry fleeing in disorder and panic, so fallen were the hearts of
the Swedish infantry, elsewhere unrivalled. They had left even trenches
which were not threatened by any danger. The oncoming officers and
cavalry trampled a few, and rode finally to within a furlong of the
fortress, but only to see on the height as clearly as on the palm of
the hand, the attacking party returning safely to the cloister; songs,
shouts of joy, and laughter came from them to Miller's ears.

Single persons stood forth and threatened with bloody sabres in the
direction of the staff. The Poles present at the side of the Swedish
general recognized Zamoyski himself, who had led the sortie in person,
and who, when he saw the staff, stopped and saluted it solemnly with
his cap. No wonder he felt safe under cover of the fortress cannon.

And, in fact, it began to smoke on the walls, and iron flocks of cannon
balls were flying with terrible whistling among the officers. Troopers
tottered in their saddles, and groans answered whistles.

"We are under fire. Retreat!" commanded Sadovski.

Zbrojek seized the reins of Miller's horse. "General, withdraw! It is
death here!"

Miller, as if he had become torpid, said not a word, and let himself be
led out of range of the missiles. Returning to his quarters, he locked
himself in, and for a whole day would see no man. He was meditating
surely over his fame of Poliorcetes.

Count Veyhard now took all power in hand, and began with immense energy
to make preparations for a storm. New breastworks were thrown up; the
soldiers succeeding the miners broke the cliff unweariedly to prepare a
mine. A feverish movement continued in the whole Swedish camp. It
seemed that a new spirit had entered the besiegers, or that
reinforcements had come. A few days later the news thundered through
the Swedish and allied Polish camps that the miners had found a passage
going under the church and the cloister, and that it depended now only
on the good-will of the general to blow up the whole fortress.

Delight seized the soldiers worn out with cold, hunger, and fruitless
toil. Shouts of: "We have Chenstohova! We'll blow up that hen-house!"
ran from mouth to mouth. Feasting and drinking began.

The count was present everywhere; he encouraged the soldiers, kept them
in that belief, repeated a hundred times daily the news of finding the
passage, incited to feasting and frolics.

The echo of this gladness reached the cloister at last. News of the
mines dug and ready to explode ran with the speed of lightning from
rampart to rampart. Even the most daring were frightened. Weeping women
began to besiege the prior's dwelling, to hold out to him their
children when he appeared for a while, and cry,--

"Destroy not the innocent! Their blood will fall on thy head!"

The greater coward a man had been, the greater his daring now in urging
Kordetski not to expose to destruction the sacred place, the capital of
the Most Holy Lady.

Such grievous, painful times followed, for the unbending soul of our
hero in a habit, as had not been till that hour. It was fortunate that
the Swedes ceased their assaults, so as to prove more convincingly that
they needed no longer either balls or cannon, that it was enough for
them to ignite one little powder fuse. But for this very reason terror
increased in the cloister. In the hour of deep night it seemed to some,
the most timid, that they heard under the earth certain sounds, certain
movements; that the Swedes were already under the cloister. Finally, a
considerable number of the monks fell in spirit. Those, with Father
Stradomski at the head of them, went to the prior and urged him to
begin negotiations at once for surrender. The greater part of the
soldiers went with them, and some of the nobles.

Kordetski appeared in the courtyard, and when the throng gathered
around him in a close circle, he said,--

"Have we not sworn to one another to defend this holy place to the last
drop of our blood? In truth, I tell you that if powder hurls us forth,
only our wretched bodies, only the temporary covering, will fall away
and return to the earth, but the souls will not return,--heaven will
open above them, and they will enter into rejoicing and happiness, as
into a sea without bounds. There Jesus Christ will receive them, and
that Most Holy Mother will meet them, and they like golden bees will
sit on her robe, and will sink in light and gaze on the face of the
Lord."

Here the reflection of that brightness was gleaming on his face. He
raised his inspired eyes upward, and spoke on with a dignity and a calm
not of earth:--

"O Lord, the Ruler of worlds, Thou art looking into my heart, and Thou
knowest that I am not deceiving this people when I say that if I
desired only my own happiness I would stretch out my hands to Thee and
cry from the depth of my soul: O Lord! let powder be there, let it
explode, for in such a death is redemption of sins and faults, for it
is eternal rest, and Thy servant is weary and toil worn over-much. And
who would not wish a reward of such kind, for a death without pain and
as short as the twinkle of an eye, as a flash in the heavens, after
which is eternity unbroken, happiness inexhaustible, joy without end.
But Thou hast commanded me to guard Thy retreat, therefore it is not
permitted me to go. Thou hast placed me on guard, therefore Thou hast
poured into me Thy strength, and I know, O Lord, I see and feel that
although the malice of the enemy were to force itself under this
church, though all the powder and destructive saltpetre were placed
there, it would be enough for me to make the sign of the cross above
them and they would never explode."

Here he turned to the assembly and continued: "God has given me this
power, but do you take fear out of your hearts. My spirit pierces the
earth and tells you; Your enemies lie, there are no powder dragons
under the church. You, people of timid hearts, you in whom fear has
stifled faith, deserve not to enter the kingdom of grace and repose
to-day. There is no powder under your feet then! God wishes to preserve
this retreat, so that, like Noah's ark, it may be borne above the
deluge of disasters and mishap; therefore, in the name of God, for the
third time I tell you, there is no powder under the church. And when I
speak in His name, who will make bold to oppose me, who will dare still
to doubt?"

When he had said this he was silent and looked at the throng of monks,
nobles, and soldiers. But such was the unshaken faith, the conviction
and power in his voice that they were silent also, and no man came
forward. On the contrary, solace began to enter their hearts, till at
last one of the soldiers, a simple peasant, said,--

"Praise to the name of the Lord! For three days they say they are able
to blow up the fortress; why do they not blow it up?"

"Praise to the Most Holy Lady! Why do they not blow it up?" repeated a
number of voices.

Then a wonderful sign was made manifest. Behold all about them on a
sudden was heard the sound of wings, and whole flocks of small winter
birds appeared in the court of the fortress, and every moment new ones
flew in from the starved country-places around. Birds such as gray
larks, ortolans, buntings with yellow breasts, poor sparrows, green
titmice, red bulfinches, sat on the slopes of the roofs, on the corners
over the doors, on the church; others flew around in a many-colored
crown above the head of the prior, flapping their wings, chirping sadly
as if begging for alms, and having no fear whatever of man. People
present were amazed at the sight; and Kordetski, after he had prayed
for a while, said at last,--

"See these little birds of the forest. They come to the protection of
the Mother of God, but you doubt Her power."

Consolation and hope had entered their hearts; the monks, beating their
breasts, went to the church, and the soldiers mounted the walls.

Women scattered grain to the birds, which began to pick it up eagerly.

All interpreted the visit of these tiny forest-dwellers as a sign of
success to themselves, and of evil to the enemy.

"Fierce snows must be lying, when these little birds, caring neither
for shots nor the thunder of cannon, flock to our buildings," said the
soldiers.

"But why do they fly from the Swedes to us?"

"Because the meanest creature has the wit to distinguish an enemy from
a friend."

"That cannot be," said another soldier, "for in the Swedish camp are
Poles too; but it means that there must be hunger there, and a lack of
oats for the horses."

"It means still better," said a third, "that what they say of the
powder is downright falsehood."

"How is that?" asked all, in one voice.

"Old people say," replied the soldier, "that if a house is to fall, the
sparrows and swallows having nests in spring under the roof, go away
two or three days in advance; every creature has sense to feel danger
beforehand. Now if powder were under the cloister, these little birds
would not fly to us."

"Is that true?"

"As true as Amen to 'Our Father!'"

"Praise to the Most Holy Lady! it will be bad for the Swedes."

At this moment the sound of a trumpet was heard at the northwestern
gate; all ran to see who was coming.

It was a Swedish trumpeter with a letter from the camp. The monks
assembled at once in the council hall. The letter was from Count
Veyhard, and announced that if the fortress were not surrendered before
the following day it would be hurled into the air. But those who before
had fallen under the weight of fear had no faith now in this threat.

"Those are vain threats!" said the priests and the nobles together.

"Let us write to them not to spare us; let them blow us up!"

And in fact they answered in that sense.

Meanwhile the soldiers who had gathered around the trumpeter answered
his warnings with ridicule.

"Good!" said they to him. "Why do you spare us? We will go the sooner
to heaven."

But the man who delivered the answering letter to the messenger said,--

"Do not lose words and time for nothing. Want is gnawing you, but we
lack nothing, praise be to God! Even the birds fly away from you."

And in this way Count Veyhard's last trick came to nothing. And when
another day had passed it was shown with perfect proof how vain were
the fears of the besieged, and peace returned to the cloister.

The following day a worthy man from Chenstohova, Yatsek Bjuhanski, left
a letter again giving warning of a storm; also news of the return of
Yan Kazimir from Silesia, and the uprising of the whole Commonwealth
against the Swedes. But according to reports circulating outside the
walls, this was to be the last storm.

Bjuhanski brought the letter with a bag of fish to the priests for
Christmas Eve, and approached the walls disguised as a Swedish soldier.
Poor man!-the Swedes saw him and seized him. Miller gave command to
stretch him on the rack; but the old man had heavenly visions in the
time of his torture, and smiled as sweetly as a child, and instead of
pain unspeakable joy was depicted on his face. The general was present
at the torture, but he gained no confession from the martyr; he merely
acquired the despairing conviction that nothing could bend those
people, nothing could break them.

Now came the old beggarwoman Kostuha, with a letter from Kordetski
begging most humbly that the storm be delayed during service on the day
of Christ's birth. The guards and the officers received the beggarwoman
with insults and jeers at such an envoy, but she answered them straight
in the face,--

"No other would come, for to envoys you are as murderers, and I took
the office for bread,--a crust. I shall not be long in this world; I
have no fear of you: if you do not believe, you have me in your hands."

But no harm was done her. What is more, Miller, eager to try
conciliation again, agreed to the prior's request, even accepted a
ransom for Bjuhanski, not yet tortured quite out of his life; he sent
also that part of the silver found with the Swedish soldiers. He did
this last out of malice to Count Veyhard, who after the failure of the
mine had fallen into disfavor again.

At last Christmas Eve came. With the first star, lights great and small
began to shine all around in the fortress. The night was still, frosty,
but clear. The Swedish soldiers, stiffened with cold in the
intrenchments, gazed from below on the dark walls of the unapproachable
fortress, and to their minds came the warm Scandinavian cottages
stuffed with moss, their wives and children, the fir-tree gleaming with
lights; and more than one iron breast swelled with a sigh, with regret,
with homesickness, with despair. But in the fortress, at tables covered
with hay, the besieged were breaking wafers. A quiet joy was shining in
all faces, for each one had the foreboding, almost the certainty, that
the hours of suffering would be soon at an end.

"Another storm to-morrow, but that will be the last," repeated the
priests and the soldiers. "Let him to whom God will send death give
thanks that the Lord lets him be present at Mass, and thus opens more
surely heaven's gates, for whoso dies for the faith on the day of
Christ's birth must be received into glory."

They wished one another success, long years, or a heavenly crown; and
so relief dropped into every heart, as if suffering were over already.

But there stood one empty chair near the prior; before it a plate on
which was a package of white wafers bound with a blue ribbon. When all
had sat down, no one occupied that place. Zamoyski said,--

"I see, revered father, that according to ancient custom there are
places for men outside the cloister."

"Not for men outside," said Father Agustine, "but as a remembrance of
that young man whom we loved as a son, and whose soul is looking with
pleasure upon us because we keep him in eternal memory."

"As God lives," replied Zamoyski, "he is happier now than we. We owe
him due thanks."

Kordetski had tears in his eyes, and Charnyetski said,--

"They write of smaller men in the chronicles. If God gives me life, and
any one asks me hereafter, who was there among us the equal of ancient
heroes, I shall say Babinich."

"Babinich was not his name," said Kordetski.

"How not Babinich?"

"I long knew his real name under the seal of confession; but when going
out against that cannon, he said to me: 'If I perish, let men know who
I am, so that honorable repute may rest with my name, and destroy my
former misdeeds.' He went, he perished; now I can tell you that he was
Kmita!"

"That renowned Lithuanian Kmita?" cried Charnyetski, seizing his
forelock.

"The same. How the grace of God changes hearts!"

"For God's sake. Now I understand why he undertook that work; now I
understand where he got that daring, that boldness, in which he
surpassed all men. Kmita, Kmita, that terrible Kmita whom Lithuania
celebrates."

"Henceforth not only Lithuania, but the whole Commonwealth will glorify
him in a different manner."

"He was the first to warn us against Count Veyhard."

"Through his advice we closed the gates in good season, and made
preparations."

"He killed the first Swede with a shot from a bow."

"And how many of their cannon did he spoil! Who brought down De
Fossis?"

"And that siege gun! If we are not terrified at the storm of to-morrow,
who is the cause?"

"Let each remember him with honor, and celebrate his name wherever
possible, so that justice be done," said Kordetski; "and now may God
give him eternal rest."

"And may everlasting light shine on him," answered one chorus of
voices.

But Pan Charnyetski was unable for a long time to calm himself, and his
thoughts were continually turning to Kmita.

"I tell you, gentlemen, that there was something of such kind in that
man that though he served as a simple soldier, the command of itself
crawled at once to his hand, so that it was a wonder to me how people
obeyed such a young man unwittingly. In fact, he was commander on the
bastion, and I obeyed him myself. Oh, had I known him then to be
Kmita!"

"Still it is a wonder to me," said Zamoyski, "that the Swedes have not
boasted of his death."

Kordetski sighed. "The powder must have killed him on the spot."

"I would let a hand be cut from me could he be alive again," cried
Charnyetski. "But that such a Kmita let himself be blown up by powder!"

"He gave his life for ours," said Kordetski.

"It is true," added Zamoyski, "that if that cannon were lying in the
intrenchment, I should not think so pleasantly of to-morrow."

"To-morrow God will give us a new victory," said the prior, "for the
ark of Noah cannot be lost in the deluge."

Thus they conversed with one another on Christmas Eve, and then
separated; the monks going to the church, the soldiers, some to quiet
rest, and others to keep watch on the walls and at the gates. But great
care was superfluous, for in the Swedish camp there reigned unbroken
calm. They had given themselves to rest and meditation, for to them too
was approaching a most serious day.

The night was solemn. Legions of stars twinkled in the sky, changing
into blue and rosy colors. The light of the moon changed to green the
shrouds of snow stretching between the fortress and the hostile camp.
The wind did not howl, and it was calm, as from the beginning of the
siege it had not been near the cloister.

At midnight the Swedish soldiers heard the flow of the mild and grand
tones of the organ; then the voices of men were joined with them; then
the sounds of bells, large and small. Joy, consolation, and great calm
were in those sounds; and the greater was the doubt, the greater the
feeling of helplessness which weighed down the hearts of the Swedes.

The Polish soldiers from the commands of Zbrojek and Kalinski, without
seeking permission, went up to the very walls. They were not permitted
to enter through fear of some snare; but they were permitted to stand
near the walls. They also collected together. Some knelt on the snow,
others shook their heads pitifully, sighing over their own lot, or beat
their breasts, promising repentance; and all heard with delight and
with tears in their eyes the music and the hymns sung according to
ancient usage.

At the same time the sentries on the walls who could not be in the
church, wishing to make up for their loss, began also to sing, and soon
was heard throughout the whole circuit of the walls the Christmas
hymn:--


                 "He is lying in the manger;
                  Who will run
                  To greet the little stranger?"


In the afternoon of the following day the thunder of guns drowned again
every other sound. All the intrenchments began to smoke simultaneously,
the earth trembled in its foundations; as of old there flew on the roof
of the church heavy balls, bombs, grenades, and torches fixed in
cylinders, pouring a rain of melted lead, and naked torches, knots and
ropes. Never had the thunder been so unceasing, never till then had
such a river of fire and iron fallen on the cloister; but among the
Swedish guns was not that great gun, which alone could crush the wall
and make a breach necessary for assault.

But the besieged were so accustomed to fire that each man knew what he
had to do, and the defence went in its ordinary course without command.
Fire was answered with fire, missile with missile, but better aimed,
for with more calmness.

Toward evening Miller went out to see by the last rays of the setting
sun the results; and his glance fell on the tower outlined calmly on
the background of the sky.

"That cloister will stand for the ages of ages!" cried he, beside
himself.

"Amen!" answered Zbrojek, quietly.

In the evening a council was assembled again at headquarters, still
more gloomy than usual. Miller opened it himself.

"The storm of to-day," said he, "has brought no result. Our powder is
nearly consumed; half of our men are lost, the rest discouraged: they
look for disasters, not victory. We have no supplies; we cannot expect
reinforcements."

"But the cloister stands unmoved as on the first day of the siege,"
added Sadovski.

"What remains for us?"

"Disgrace."

"I have received orders," said the general, "to finish quickly or
retreat to Prussia."

"What remains to us?" repeated the Prince of Hesse.

All eyes were turned to Count Veyhard, who said: "To save our honor!"

A short broken laugh, more like the gnashing of teeth, came from
Miller, who was called Poliorcetes. "The Count wishes to teach us how
to raise the dead," said he.

Count Veyhard acted as though he had not heard this.

"Only the slain have saved their honor," said Sadovski.

Miller began to lose his cool blood. "And that cloister stands there
yet, that Yasna Gora, that hen-house! I have not taken it! And we
withdraw. Is this a dream, or am I speaking in my senses?"

"That cloister stands there yet, that Yasna Gora!" repeated word for
word the Prince of Hesse, "and we shall withdraw,--defeated!"

A moment of silence followed; it seemed as though the leader and his
subordinates found a certain wild pleasure in bringing to mind their
shame and defeat.

Now Count Veyhard said slowly and emphatically: "It has happened more
than once in every war that a besieged fortress has ransomed itself
from the besiegers, who then went away as victors; for whoso pays a
ransom, by this same recognizes himself as defeated."

The officers, who at first listened to the words of the speaker with
scorn and contempt, now began to listen more attentively.

"Let that cloister pay us any kind of ransom," continued the count;
"then no one will say that we could not take it, but that we did not
wish to take it."

"Will they agree?" asked the Prince of Hesse.

"I will lay down my head," answered Count Veyhard, "and more than that,
my honor as a soldier."

"Can that be!" asked Sadovski. "We have enough of this siege, but have
they enough? What does your worthiness think of this?"

Miller turned to Veyhard "Many grievous moments, the most grievous of
my life, have I passed because of your counsels, Sir Count; but for
this last advice I thank you, and will be grateful."

All breasts breathed more freely. There could be no real question but
that of retreating with honor.

On the morrow, the day of Saint Stephen, the officers assembled to the
last man to hear Kordetski's answer to Miller's letter, which proposed
a ransom, and was sent in the morning.

They had to wait long. Miller feigned joyousness, but constraint was
evident on his face. No one of the officers could keep his place. All
hearts beat unquietly. The Prince of Hesse and Sadovski stood under the
window conversing in a low voice.

"What do you think?" asked the first; "will they agree?"

"Everything indicates that they will agree. Who would not wish to be
rid of such terrible danger come what may, at the price of a few tens
of thousands of thalers, especially since monks have not worldly
ambition and military honor, or at least should not have? I only fear
that the general has asked too much."

"How much has he asked?"

"Forty thousand from the monks, and twenty thousand from the nobles,
but in the worst event they will try to reduce the sum."

"Let us yield, in God's name, let us yield. If they have not the money,
I would prefer to lend them my own, if they will let us go away with
even the semblance of honor. But I tell your princely highness that
though I recognize the count's advice this time as good, and I believe
that they will ransom themselves, such a fever is gnawing me that I
would prefer ten storms to this waiting."

"Uf! you are right But still this Count Veyhard may go high."

"Even as high as the gibbet," said the other.

But the speakers did not foresee that a worse fate than even the gibbet
was awaiting Count Veyhard.

That moment the thunder of cannon interrupted further conversation.

"What is that? firing from the fortress!" cried Miller. And springing
up like a man possessed, he ran out of the room.

All ran after him and listened. The sound of regular salvos came indeed
from the fortress.

"Are they fighting inside, or what?" cried Miller; "I don't
understand."

"I will explain to your worthiness," said Zbrojek, "this is Saint
Stephen's Day, and the name's day of the Zamoyskis, father and son; the
firing is in their honor."

With that shouts of applause were heard from the fortress, and after
them new salvos.

"They have powder enough," said Miller, gloomily. "That is for us a new
indication."

But fate did not spare him another very painful lesson.

The Swedish soldiers were so discouraged and fallen in spirit that at
the sound of firing from the fortress the detachments guarding the
nearest intrenchments deserted them in panic.

Miller saw one whole regiment, the musketeers of Smaland, taking refuge
in disorder at his own quarters; he heard too how the officers repeated
among themselves at this sight,--

"It is time, it is time, it is time to retreat!"

But by degrees everything grew calm; one crushing impression remained.
The leader, and after him the subordinates, entered the room and
waited, waited impatiently; even the face of Count Veyhard, till then
motionless, betrayed disquiet.

At last the clatter of spurs was heard in the antechamber, and the
trumpeter entered, all red from cold, his mustaches covered with his
frozen breath.

"An answer from the cloister!" said he, giving a large packet wound up
in a colored handkerchief bound with a string.

Miller's hands trembled somewhat, and he chose to cut the string with a
dagger rather than to open it slowly. A number of pairs of eyes were
fixed on the packet; the officers were breathless. The general unwound
one roll of the cloth, a second, and a third, unwound with increasing
haste till at last a package of wafers fell out on the table. Then he
grew pale, and though no one asked what was in the package, he said,
"Wafers!"

"Nothing more?" asked some one in the crowd.

"Nothing more!" answered the general, like an echo.

A moment of silence followed, broken only by panting; at times too was
heard the gritting of teeth, at times the rattling of rapiers.

"Count Veyhard!" said Miller, at last, with a terrible and ill-omened
voice.

"He is no longer here!" answered one of the officers.

Again silence followed.

That night movement reigned in the whole camp. Scarcely was the light
of day quenched when voices of command were heard, the hurrying of
considerable divisions of cavalry, the sound of measured steps of
infantry, the neighing of horses, the squeaking of wagons, the dull
thump of cannon, with the biting of iron, the rattle of chains, noise,
bustle, and turmoil.

"Will there be a new storm in the morning?" asked the guards at the
gates.

But they were unable to see, for since twilight the sky was covered
with clouds, and abundant snow had begun to fall. Its frequent flakes
excluded the light. About five o'clock in the morning all sounds had
ceased, but the snow was falling still more densely. On the walls and
battlements it had created new walls and battlements. It covered the
whole cloister and church, as if wishing to hide them from the glance
of the enemy, to shelter and cover them from iron missiles.

At last the air began to grow gray, and the bell commenced tolling for
morning service, when the soldiers standing guard at the southern gate
heard the snorting of a horse.

Before the gate stood a peasant, all covered with snow; behind him was
a low, small wooden sleigh, drawn by a thin, shaggy horse. The peasant
fell to striking his body with his arms, to jumping from one foot to
the other, and to crying,--

"People, but open here!"

"Who is alive?" they asked from the walls.

"Your own, from Dzbov. I have brought game for the benefactors."

"And how did the Swedes let you come?"

"What Swedes?"

"Those who are besieging the church."

"Oho, there are no Swedes now!"

"Praise God, every soul! Have they gone?"

"The tracks behind them are covered."

With that, crowds of villagers and peasants blackened the road, some
riding, others on foot, there were women too, and all began to cry from
afar,--

"There are no Swedes! there are none! They have gone to Vyelunie. Open
the gates! There is not a man in the camp!"

"The Swedes have gone, the Swedes have gone!" cried men on the walls;
and the news ran around like lightning.

Soldiers rushed to the bells, and rang them all as if for an alarm.
Every living soul rushed out of the cells, the dwellings, and the
church.

The news thundered all the time. The court was swarming with monks,
nobles, soldiers, women, and children. Joyful shouts were heard around.
Some ran out on the walls to examine the empty camp; others burst into
laughter or into sobs. Some would not believe yet, but new crowds came
continually, peasants and villagers.

They came from Chenstohova, from the surrounding villages, and from the
forests near by, noisily, joyously, and with singing. New tidings
crossed one another each moment. All had seen the retreating Swedes,
and told in what direction they were going.

A few hours later the slope and the plain below the mountain were
filled with people. The gates of the cloister were open wide, as they
had been before the siege; and all the bells were ringing, ringing,
ringing,--and those voices of triumph flew to the distance, and then
the whole Commonwealth heard them.

The snow was covering and covering the tracks of the Swedes.

About noon of that day the church was so filled with people that head
was as near head as on a paved street in a city one stone is near
another. Father Kordetski himself celebrated a thanksgiving Mass, and
to the throng of people it seemed that a white angel was celebrating
it. And it seemed to them also that he was singing out his soul in that
Mass, or that it was borne heavenward in the smoke of the incense, and
was expanding in praise to the Lord.

The thunder of cannon shook not the walls, nor the glass in the
windows, nor covered the people with dust, nor interrupted prayer, nor
that thanksgiving hymn which amid universal ecstasy and weeping, the
holy prior was intoning--

"Te Deum laudamus."



                              CHAPTER VI.


The horses bore Kmita and the Kyemliches swiftly to ward the Silesian
boundary. They advanced with caution to avoid meeting Swedish scouts,
for though the cunning Kyemliches had "passes," given by Kuklinovski
and signed by Miller, still soldiers, though furnished with such
documents, were usually subjected to examination, and examination might
have an evil issue for Pan Andrei and his comrades. They rode,
therefore, swiftly, so as to pass the boundary in all haste and push
into the depth of the Emperor's territory. The boundaries themselves
were not free from Swedish ravagers, and frequently whole parties of
horsemen rode into Silesia to seize those who were going to Yan
Kazimir. But the Kyemliches, during their stay at Chenstohova, occupied
continually with hunting individual Swedes, had learned through and
through the whole region, all the boundary roads, passages, and paths
where the chase was most abundant, and were as if in their own land.

Along the road old Kyemlich told Pan Andrei what was to be heard in the
Commonwealth; and Pan Andrei, having been confined so long in the
fortress, forgetting his own pain, listened to the news eagerly, for it
was very unfavorable to the Swedes, and heralded a near end to their
domination in Poland.

"The army is sick of Swedish fortune and Swedish company," said old
Kyemlich; "and as some time ago the soldiers threatened the hetmans
with their lives if they would not join the Swedes, so now the same men
entreat Pototski and send deputations asking him to save the
Commonwealth from oppression, swearing to stand by him to the death.
Some colonels also have begun to attack the Swedes on their own
responsibility."

"Who began first?"

"Jegotski, the starosta of Babimost, and Pan Kulesha. These began in
Great Poland, and annoy the Swedes notably. There are many small
divisions in the whole country, but it is difficult to learn the names
of the leaders, for they conceal them to save their own families and
property from Swedish vengeance. Of the army that regiment rose first
which is commanded by Pan Voynillovich."

"Gabryel? He is my relative, though I do not know him."

"A genuine soldier. He is the man who rubbed out Pratski's party, which
was serving the Swedes, and shot Pratski himself; but now he has gone
to the rough mountains beyond Cracow; there he cut up a Swedish
division, and secured the mountaineers from oppression."

"Are the mountaineers fighting with the Swedes already?"

"They were the first to rise; but as they are stupid peasants, they
wanted to rescue Cracow straightway with axes. General Douglas
scattered them, for they knew nothing of the level country; but of the
parties sent to pursue them in the mountains, not a man has returned.
Pan Voynillovich has helped those peasants, and now has gone himself to
the marshal at Lyubovlya, and joined his forces."

"Is Pan Lyubomirski, the marshal, opposed to the Swedes?"

"Reports disagreed. They said that he favored this side and that; but
when men began to mount their horses throughout the whole country he
went against the Swedes. He is a powerful man, and can do them a great
deal of harm. He alone might war with the King of Sweden. People say
too that before spring there will not be one Swede in the
Commonwealth."

"God grant that!"

"How can it be otherwise, your grace, since for the siege of
Chenstohova all are enraged against them? The army is rising, the
nobles are fighting already wherever they can, the peasants are
collecting in crowds, and besides, the Tartars are marching; the Khan,
who defeated Hmelnitski and the Cossacks, and promised to destroy them
completely unless they would march against the Swedes, is coming in
person."

"But the Swedes have still much support among magnates and nobles?"

"Only those take their part who must, and even they are merely waiting
for a chance. The prince voevoda of Vilna is the only man who has
joined them sincerely, and that act has turned out ill for him."

Kmita stopped his horse, and at the same time caught his side, for
terrible pain had shot through him.

"In God's name!" cried he, suppressing a groan, "tell me what is taking
place with Radzivill. Is he all the time in Kyedani?"

"O Ivory Gate!" said the old man; "I know as much as people say, and
God knows what they do not say. Some report that the prince voevoda is
living no longer; others that he is still defending himself against Pan
Sapyeha, but is barely breathing. It is likely that they are struggling
with each other in Podlyasye, and that Pan Sapyeha has the upper hand,
for the Swedes could not save the prince voevoda. Now they say that,
besieged in Tykotsin by Sapyeha, it is all over with him."

"Praise be to God! The honest are conquering traitors! Praise be to
God! Praise be to God!"

Kyemlich looked from under his brows at Kmita, and knew not himself
what to think, for it was known in the whole Commonwealth that if
Radzivill had triumphed in the beginning over his own troops and the
nobles who did not wish Swedish rule, it happened, mainly, thanks to
Kmita and his men. But old Kyemlich did not let that thought be known
to his colonel, and rode farther in silence.

"But what has happened to Prince Boguslav?" asked Pan Andrei, at last.

"I have heard nothing of him, your grace," answered Kyemlich. "Maybe he
is in Tykotsin, and maybe with the elector. War is there at present,
and the King of Sweden has gone to Prussia; but we meanwhile are
waiting for our own king. God give him! for let him only show himself,
all to a man will rise, and the troops will leave the Swedes
straightway."

"Is that certain?"

"Your grace, I know only what those soldiers said who had to be with
the Swedes at Chenstohova. They are very fine cavalry, some thousands
strong, under Zbrojek, Kalinski, and other colonels. I may tell your
grace that no man serves there of his own will, except Kuklinovski's
ravagers; they wanted to get the treasures of Yasna Gora. But all
honorable soldiers did nothing but lament, and one quicker than another
complained: 'We have enough of this Jew's service! Only let our king
put a foot over the boundary, we will turn our sabres at once on the
Swedes; but while he is not here, how can we begin, whither can we go?'
So they complain; and in the other regiments which are under the
hetmans it is still worse. This I know certainly, for deputations came
from them to Pan Zbrojek with arguments, and they had secret talks
there at night; this Miller did not know, though he felt that there was
evil about him."

"But is the prince voevoda of Vilna besieged in Tykotsin?" asked Pan
Andrei.

Kyemlich looked again unquietly on Kmita, for he thought that surely a
fever was seizing him if he asked to have the same information
repeated; still he answered,--

"Besieged by Pan Sapyeha."

"Just are Thy judgments, God!" said Kmita. "He who might compare in
power with kings! Has no one remained with him?"

"In Tykotsin there is a Swedish garrison. But with the prince only some
of his trustiest attendants have remained."

Kmita's breast was filled with delight. He had feared the vengeance of
the terrible magnate on Olenka, and though it seemed to him that he had
prevented that vengeance with his threats, still he was tormented by
the thought that it would be better and safer for Olenka and all the
Billeviches to live in a lion's den than in Kyedani, under the hand of
the prince, who never forgave any man. But now when he had fallen his
opponents must triumph by the event; now when he was deprived of power
and significance, when he was lord of only one poor castle, in which he
defended his own life and freedom, he could not think of vengeance; his
hand had ceased to weigh on his enemies.

"Praise be to God! praise be to God!" repeated Kmita.

He had his head so filled with the change in Radzivill's fortunes, so
occupied with that which had happened during his stay in Chenstohova,
and with the question where was she whom his heart loved, and what had
become of her, that a third time he asked Kyemlich: "You say that the
prince is broken?"

"Broken completely," answered the old man. "But are you not sick?"

"My side is burned. That is nothing!" answered Kmita.

Again they rode on in silence. The tired horses lessened their speed by
degrees, till at last they were going at a walk. That monotonous
movement lulled to sleep Pan Andrei, who was mortally wearied, and he
slept long, nodding in the saddle. He was roused only by the white
light of day. He looked around with amazement, for in the first moment
it seemed to him that everything through which he had passed in that
night was merely a dream; at last he inquired,--

"Is that you, Kyemlich? Are we riding from Chenstohova?"

"Of course, your grace."

"But where are we?"

"Oho, in Silesia already. Here the Swedes will not get us."

"That is well!" said Kmita, coming to his senses completely. "But where
is our gracious king living?"

"At Glogov."

"We will go there then to bow down to our lord, and offer him service.
But listen, old man, to me."

"I am listening, your grace."

Kmita fell to thinking, however, and did not speak at once. He was
evidently combining something in his head; he hesitated, considered,
and at last said: "It cannot be otherwise!"

"I am listening, your grace," repeated Kyemlich.

"Neither to the king nor to any man at the court must you mutter who I
am. I call myself Babinich, I am faring from Chenstohova. Of the great
gun and of Kuklinovski you may talk, so that my intentions be not
misconstrued, and I be considered a traitor, for in my blindness I
aided and served Prince Radzivill; of this they may have heard at the
court."

"I may speak of what your grace did at Chenstohova--"

"But who will show that 'tis true till the siege is over?"

"I will act at your command."

"The day will come for truth to appear at the top," added Kmita, as it
were to himself, "but first our gracious lord must convince himself.
Later he also will give me his witness."

Here the conversation was broken. By this time it had become perfect
day. Old Kyemlich began to sing matins, and Kosma and Damian
accompanied him with bass voices. The road was difficult, for the frost
was cutting, and besides, the travellers were stopped continually and
asked for news, especially if Chenstohova was resisting yet. Kmita
answered that it was resisting, and would take care of itself; but
there was no end to questions. The roads were swarming with travellers,
the inns everywhere filled. Some people were seeking refuge in the
depth of the country from the neighboring parts of the Commonwealth
before Swedish oppression; others were pushing toward the boundary for
news. From time to time appeared nobles, who, having had enough of the
Swedes, were going, like Kmita, to offer their services to the fugitive
king. There were seen, also, attendants of private persons; at times
smaller or larger parties of soldiers, from armies, which either
voluntarily or in virtue of treaties with the Swedes had passed the
boundaries,--such, for instance, as the troops of Stefan Charnyetski.
News from the Commonwealth had roused the hope of those "exiles," and
many of them were making ready to come home in arms. In all Silesia,
and particularly in the provinces of Ratibor and Opol, it was boiling
as in a pot; messengers were flying with letters to the king and from
the king; they were flying with letters to Charnyetski, to the primate,
to Pan Korytsinski, the chancellor; to Pan Varshytski, the castellan of
Cracow, the first senator of the Commonwealth, who had not deserted the
cause of Yan Kazimir for an instant.

These lords, in agreement with the great queen, who was unshaken in
misfortune, were coming to an understanding with one another, with the
country, and with the foremost men in it, of whom it was known that
they would gladly resume allegiance to their legal lord. Messengers
were sent independently by the marshal of the kingdom, the hetmans, the
army, and the nobles, who were making ready to take up arms.

It was the eve of a general war, which in some places had broken out
already. The Swedes put down these local outbursts either with arms or
with the executioner's axe, but the fire quenched in one place flamed
up at once in another. An awful storm was hanging over the heads of the
Scandinavian invaders; the ground itself, though covered with snow,
began to burn their feet; threats and vengeance surrounded them on all
sides; their own shadows alarmed them.

They went around like men astray. The recent songs of triumph died on
their lips, and they asked one another in the greatest amazement, "Are
these the same people who yesterday left their own king, and gave up
without fighting a battle?" Yes, lords, nobles, army,--an example
unheard of in history,--passed over to the conqueror; towns and castles
threw open their gates; the country was occupied. Never had a conquest
cost fewer exertions, less blood. The Swedes themselves, wondering at
the ease with which they had occupied a mighty Commonwealth, could not
conceal their contempt for the conquered, who at the first gleam of a
Swedish sword rejected their own king, their country, provided that
they could enjoy life and goods in peace, or acquire new goods in the
confusion. What in his time Count Veyhard had told the emperor's envoy,
Lisola, the king himself, and all the Swedish generals repeated: "There
is no manhood in this nation, there is no stability, there is no order,
no faith, no patriotism! It must perish."

They forgot that that nation had still one feeling, specially that one
whose earthly expression was Yasna Gora. And in that feeling was
rebirth.

Therefore the thunder of cannon which was heard under the sacred
retreat found an echo at once in the hearts of all magnates, nobles,
town-dwellers, and peasants. An outcry of awe was heard from the
Carpathians to the Baltic, and the giant was roused from his torpor.

"That is another people!" said the amazed Swedish generals.

And all, from Arwid Wittemberg to the commandants of single castles,
sent to Karl Gustav in Prussia tidings filled with terror.

The earth was pushing from under their feet; instead of recent friends,
they met enemies on all sides; instead of submission, hostility;
instead of fear, a wild daring ready for everything; instead of
mildness, ferocity; instead of long-suffering, vengeance.

Meanwhile from hand to hand were flying in thousands throughout the
whole Commonwealth the manifestoes of Yan Kazimir, which, issued at
first in Silesia, had found no immediate echo. Now, on the contrary,
they were seen in castles still free of the enemy. Wherever the Swedish
hand was not weighing, the nobles assembled in crowds large and small,
and beat their breasts, listening to the lofty words of the fugitive
king, who, recounting faults and sins, urged them not to lose hope, but
hasten to the rescue of the fallen Commonwealth.

"Though the enemy have already advanced far, it is not too late," wrote
Yan Kazimir, "for us to recover the lost provinces and towns, give due
praise to God, satisfy the profaned churches with the blood of the
enemy, and restore the former liberties, laws, and ancient enactments
of Poland to their usual circuit; if only there is a return of that
ancient Polish virtue, and that devotion and love of God peculiar to
your ancestors, virtues for which our great-grandfather, Sigismund I.,
honored them before many nations. A return to virtue has already
diminished these recent transgressions. Let those of you to whom God
and His holy faith are dearer than aught else rise against the Swedish
enemy. Do not wait for leaders or voevodas, or for such an order of
things as is described in public law. At present the enemy have brought
all these things to confusion among you; but do you join, the first man
to a second, a third to these two, a fourth to the three, a fifth to
the four, and thus farther, so that each one with his own subjects may
come, and when it is possible try resistance. Afterward you will select
a leader. Join yourselves one party to another, and you will form an
army. When the army is formed and you have chosen a known chief over
it, wait for our person, not neglecting an occasion wherever it comes
to defeat the enemy. If we hear of the occasion, and your readiness and
inclination, we will come at once and lay down our life wherever the
defence of the country requires it."

This manifesto was read even in the camp of Karl Gustav, in castles
having Swedish garrisons, in all places wherever Polish squadrons were
found. The nobles shed tears at every word of the king their kind lord,
and took an oath on crosses, on pictures of the Most Holy Lady, and on
scapulars to please him. To give a proof of their readiness, while
ardor was in their hearts and their tears were not dry, they mounted
here and there without hesitation, and moved on while hot against the
Swedes.

In this way the smaller Swedish parties began to melt and to vanish.
This was done in Lithuania, Mazovia, Great and Little Poland. More than
once nobles who had assembled at a neighbor's house for a christening,
a name's day, a wedding or a dance, without any thought of war,
finished the entertainment with this, that after they had taken a good
share of drink they struck like a thunderbolt and cut to pieces the
nearest Swedish command. Then, amid songs and shouts, they assembled
for the road. Those who wished to "hunt" rode farther, changed into a
crowd greedy for blood, from a crowd into a "party" which began steady
war. Subject peasants and house-servants joined the amusement in
throngs; others gave information about single Swedes or small squads
disposed incautiously through the villages. And the number of "balls"
and "masquerades" increased with each day. Joyousness and daring
personal to the people were bound up with these bloody amusements.

They disguised themselves gladly as Tartars, the very name of which
filled the Swedes with alarm; for among them were current marvellous
accounts and fables touching the ferocity, the terrible and savage
bravery of those sons of the Crimean steppes, with whom the
Scandinavians had never met hitherto. Besides, it was known universally
that the Khan with about a hundred thousand of the horde was marching
to succor Yan Kazimir; and the nobles made a great uproar while
attacking Swedish commands, from which wonderful disorder resulted.

The Swedish colonels and commandants in many places were really
convinced that Tartars were present, and retreated in haste to larger
fortresses and camps, spreading everywhere erroneous reports and alarm.
Meanwhile the neighborhoods which were freed in this manner from the
enemy were able to defend themselves, and change an unruly rabble into
the most disciplined of armies.

But more terrible for the Swedes than "masquerades" of nobles, or than
the Tartars themselves, were the movements of the peasants. Excitement
among the people began with the first day of the siege of Chenstohova;
and ploughmen hitherto silent and patient began here and there to offer
resistance, here and there to take scythes and flails and help nobles.
The most brilliant Swedish generals looked with the greatest alarm at
these crowds, which might at any moment turn into a genuine deluge and
overwhelm beyond rescue the invaders.

Terror seemed to them the most appropriate means by which to crush in
the beginning this dreadful danger. Karl Gustav cajoled still, and
retained with words of kindness those Polish squadrons which had
followed him to Prussia. He had not spared flattery on Konyetspolski,
the celebrated commander from Zbaraj. This commander stood at his side
with six thousand cavalry, which at the first hostile meeting with the
elector spread such terror and destruction among the Prussians that the
elector abandoning the fight agreed as quickly as possible to the
conditions.

The King of Sweden sent letters also to the hetmans, the magnates, and
the nobles, full of graciousness, promises, and encouragement to
preserve loyalty to him. But at the same time he issued commands to his
generals and commandants to destroy with fire and sword every
opposition within the country, and especially to cut to pieces peasant
parties. Then began a period of iron military rule. The Swedes cast
aside the semblance of friendship. The sword, fire, pillage,
oppression, took the place of the former pretended good will. From the
castles they sent strong detachments of cavalry and infantry in pursuit
of the "masqueraders." Whole villages, with churches and priests'
dwellings, were levelled to the earth. Nobles taken prisoners, were
delivered to the executioner; the right hands were cut from captured
peasants, then they were sent home.

These Swedish detachments were specially savage in Great Poland, which,
as it was the first to surrender, was also the first to rise against
foreign dominion. Commandant Stein gave orders on a certain occasion to
cut the hands from more than three hundred peasants. In towns they
built permanent gibbets, which every day were adorned with new victims.
Pontus de la Gardie did the same in Lithuania and Jmud, where the noble
villages took up arms first, and after them the peasants. Because in
general it was difficult for the Swedes in the disturbance to
distinguish their friends from their enemies, no one was spared.

But the fire put down in blood, instead of dying, grew without ceasing,
and a war began which was not on either side a question merely of
victory, castles, towns, or provinces, but of life or death. Cruelty
increased hatred, and they began not to struggle, but to exterminate
each the other without mercy.



                              CHAPTER VII.


This war of extermination was just beginning when Kmita, with the three
Kyemliches, reached Glogov, after a journey which was difficult in view
of Pan Andrei's shaken health. They arrived in the night. The town was
crowded with troops, lords, nobles, servants of the king and of
magnates. The inns were so occupied that old Kyemlich with the greatest
trouble found lodgings for his colonel outside the town at the house of
a rope-maker.

Pan Andrei spent the whole first day in bed in pain and fever from the
burn. At times he thought that he should be seriously and grievously
ill; but his iron constitution gained the victory. The following night
brought him ease, and at daybreak he dressed and went to the parish
church to thank God for his miraculous escape.

The gray and snowy winter morning had barely dissipated the darkness.
The town was still sleeping, but through the church door lights could
be seen on the altar, and the sounds of the organ came forth.

Kmita went to the centre of the church. The priest was celebrating Mass
before the altar; there were few worshippers so far. At benches some
persons were kneeling with their faces hidden in their hands; but
besides those Pan Andrei saw, when his eyes had grown used to the
darkness, a certain figure lying in the form of a cross in front of the
pews on a carpet. Behind him were kneeling two youths with ruddy and
almost angelic childish faces.

This man was motionless, and only from his breast moving continually
with deep sighs could it be known that he was not sleeping, but praying
earnestly and with his whole soul. Kmita himself became absorbed in a
thanksgiving prayer; but when he had finished his eyes turned
involuntarily to the man lying as a cross, and could not leave him;
something fastened them to him. Sighs deep as groans, audible in the
silence of the church, shook that figure continually. The yellow rays
of the candles burning before the altar, together with the light of
day, whitening in the windows, brought it out of the gloom, and made it
more and more visible.

Pan Andrei conjectured at once from the dress that he must be some
noted person, besides all present, not excepting the priest celebrating
Mass, looked on him with honor and respect. The unknown was dressed
entirely in black velvet bound with sable, but on his shoulders he had,
turned down, a white lace collar, from under which peeped the golden
links of a chain; a black hat with feathers of like color lay at his
side; one of the pages kneeling beyond the carpet held gloves and a
sword enamelled in blue. Kmita could not see the face of the unknown,
for it was hidden by the folds of the carpet, and besides, the locks of
an unusually thick wig scattered around his head concealed it
completely.

Pan Andrei pressed up to the front pew to see the face of the unknown
when he rose. Mass was then drawing to an end. The priest was singing
_Pater noster_. The people who wished to be at the following Mass were
coming in through the main entrance. The church was filled gradually
with figures with heads shaven at the sides, dressed in cloaks with
long sleeves, in military burkas, in fur cloaks, and in brocade coats.
It became somewhat crowded. Kmita then pushed with his elbow a noble
standing at his side, and whispered,--

"Pardon, your grace, that I trouble you during service, but my
curiosity is most powerful. Who is that?" He indicated with his eyes
the man lying in the form of a cross.

"Have you come from a distance, that you know not?" asked the noble.

"Certainly I come from a distance, and therefore I ask in hope that if
I find some polite man he will not begrudge an answer."

"That is the king."

"As God lives!" cried Kmita.

But at that moment the king rose, for the priest had begun to read the
Gospel.

Pan Andrei saw an emaciated face, yellow and transparent, like church
wax. The eyes of the king were moist, and his lids red. You would have
said that all the fate of the country was reflected in that noble face,
so much was there in it of pain, suffering, care. Sleepless nights
divided between prayer and grief, terrible deceptions, wandering,
desertion, the humiliated majesty of that son, grandson, and
great-grandson of powerful kings, the gall which his own subjects had
given him to drink so bountifully, the ingratitude of that country for
which he was ready to devote his blood and life,--all this could be
read in that face as in a book, and still it expressed not only
resignation, obtained through faith and prayer, not only the majesty of
a king and an anointed of God, but such great, inexhaustible kindness
that evidently it would be enough for the greatest renegade, the most
guilty man, only to stretch out his hands to that father, and that
father would receive him, forgive him, and forget his offences.

It seemed to Kmita at sight of him that some one had squeezed his heart
with an iron hand. Compassion rose in the ardent soul of the young
hero. Compunction, sorrow, and homage straitened the breath in his
throat, a feeling of immeasurable guilt cut his knees under him so that
he began to tremble through his whole body, and at once a new feeling
rose in his breast. In one moment he had conceived such a love for that
suffering king that to him there was nothing dearer on earth than that
father and lord, for whom he was ready to sacrifice blood and life,
bear torture and everything else in the world. He wished to throw
himself at those feet, to embrace those knees, and implore forgiveness
for his crimes. The noble, the insolent disturber, had died in him in
one moment, and the royalist was born, devoted with his whole soul to
his king.

"That is our lord, our unhappy king," repeated he to himself, as if he
wished with his lips to give witness to what his eyes saw and what his
heart felt.

After the Gospel, Yan Kazimir knelt again, stretched out his arms,
raised his eyes to heaven, and was sunk in prayer. The priest went out
at last, there was a movement in the church, the king remained
kneeling.

Then that noble whom Kmita had addressed pushed Pan Andrei in the side.

"But who are you?" asked he.

Kmita did not understand the question at once, and did not answer it
directly, so greatly were his heart and mind occupied by the person of
the king.

"And who are you?" repeated that personage.

"A noble like yourself," answered Pan Andrei, waking as if from a
dream.

"What is your name?"

"What is my name? Babinich; I am from Lithuania, from near Vityebsk."

"And I am Pan Lugovski, of the king's household. Have you just come
from Lithuania, from Vityebsk?"

"No; I come from Chenstohova."

Pan Lugovski was dumb for a moment from wonder.

"But if that is true, then come and tell us the news. The king is
almost dead from anxiety because he has had no certain tidings these
three days. How is it? You are perhaps from the squadron of Zbrojek,
Kalinski, or Kuklinovski, from near Chenstohova."

"Not from near Chenstohova, but directly from the cloister itself."

"Are you not jesting? What is going on there, what is to be heard? Does
Yasna Gora defend itself yet?"

"It does, and will defend itself. The Swedes are about to retreat."

"For God's sake! The king will cover you with gold. From the very
cloister do you say that you have come? How did the Swedes let you
pass?"

"I did not ask their permission; but pardon me, I cannot give a more
extended account in the church."

"Right, right!" said Pan Lugovski. "God is merciful! You have fallen
from heaven to us! It is not proper in the church,--right! Wait a
moment. The king will rise directly; he will go to breakfast before
high Mass. To-day is Sunday. Come stand with me at the door, and when
the king is going out I will present you. Come, come, there is no time
to spare."

He pushed ahead, and Kmita followed. They had barely taken their places
at the door when the two pages appeared, and after them came Yan
Kazimir slowly.

"Gracious King!" cried Pan Lugovski, "there are tidings from
Chenstohova."

The wax-like face of Yan Kazimir became animated in an instant.

"What tidings? Where is the man?" inquired he.

"This noble; he says that he has come from the very cloister."

"Is the cloister captured?" cried the king.

That moment Pan Andrei fell his whole length at the feet of the king.
Yan Kazimir inclined and began to raise him by the arms.

"Oh, ceremony another time, another time!" cried he. "Rise, in God's
name, rise! Speak quickly! Is the cloister taken?"

Kmita sprang up with tears in his eyes, and cried with animation,--

"It is not, and will not be taken, Gracious Lord. The Swedes are
beaten. The great gun is blown up. There is fear among them, hunger,
misery. They are thinking of retreat."

"Praise, praise to Thee, Queen of the Angels and of us!" said the king.
Then he turned to the church door, removed his hat, and without
entering knelt on the snow at the door. He supported his head on a
stone pillar, and sank into silence. After a while sobbing began to
shake him. Emotion seized all, and Pan Andrei wept loudly. The king,
after he had prayed and shed tears, rose quieted, with a face much
clearer. He inquired his name of Kmita, and when the latter had told
his assumed one, said,--

"Let Pan Lugovski conduct you at once to our quarters. We shall not
take our morning food without hearing of the defence."

A quarter of an hour later Kmita was standing in the king's chamber
before a distinguished assembly. The king was only waiting for the
queen, to sit down to breakfast. Marya Ludvika appeared soon. Yan
Kazimir barely saw her when he exclaimed,--

"Chenstohova has held out! The Swedes will retreat! Here is Pan
Babinich, who has just come, and he brings the news."

The black eyes of the queen rested inquiringly on the youthful face of
the hero, and seeing its sincerity, they grew bright with joy; and he,
when he had made a profound obeisance, looked also at her boldly, as
truth and honesty know how to look.

"The power of God!" said the queen. "You have taken a terrible weight
from our hearts, and God grant this is the beginning of a change of
fortune. Do you come straight from near Chenstohova?"

"Not from near Chenstohova, he says, but from the cloister itself,--one
of the defenders!" exclaimed the king. "A golden guest! God grant such
to come daily; but let him begin. Tell, brother, tell how you defended
yourselves, and how the hand of God guarded you."

"It is sure, Gracious King and Queen, that nothing saved us but the
guardianship of God and the miracles of the Most Holy Lady, which I saw
every day with my eyes."

Here Kmita was preparing for his narrative, when new dignitaries
appeared. First came the nuncio of the Pope; then the primate,
Leshchynski; after him Vydjga, a golden-mouthed preacher, who was the
queen's chancellor, later bishop of Varmia, and finally primate. With
him came the chancellor of the kingdom, Pan Korytsinski, and the
Frenchman De Noyers, a relative of the queen, and other dignitaries who
had not deserted the king in misfortune, but chose to share with him
the bitter bread of exile rather than break plighted faith.

The king was eager to hear; therefore he ceased eating, every moment,
and repeated, "Listen, gentlemen, listen; a guest from Chenstohova!
Good news; hear it! From Yasna Gora itself!"

Then the dignitaries looked with curiosity on Kmita, who was standing
as it were before a court; but he, bold by nature and accustomed to
intercourse with great people, was not a whit alarmed at sight of so
many celebrated persons; and when all had taken their places, he began
to describe the whole siege.

Truth was evident in his words; for he spoke with clearness and
strength, like a soldier who had seen everything, touched everything,
passed through everything. He praised to the skies Pan Zamoyski and Pan
Charnyetski; spoke of Kordetski, the prior, as of a holy prophet;
exalted other fathers; missed no one save himself; but he ascribed the
whole success of the defence, without deviation, to the Most Holy Lady,
to Her favor and miracles.

The king and the dignitaries listened to him in amazement. The
archbishop raised his tearful eyes to heaven. Father Vydjga interpreted
everything hurriedly to the nuncio; other great personages caught their
heads; some prayed, or beat their breasts.

At last, when Kmita came to the recent storms,--when he began to relate
how Miller had brought heavy guns from Cracow, and among them one
against which not only the walls of Chenstohova, but no walls in the
world could stand,--such silence began as though some one were sowing
poppy seeds, and all eyes rested on Pan Andrei's lips.

But he stopped suddenly, and began to breathe quickly; a clear flush
came out on his face; he frowned, raised his head, and spoke boldly:
"Now I must speak of myself, though I should prefer to be silent. And
if I say aught which seems praise, God is my witness that I do so not
for rewards, for I do not need them, since the greatest reward for me
is to shed my blood for majesty."

"Speak boldly, I believe you," said the king. "But that great gun?"

"That great gun--I, stealing out in the night from the fortress, blew
into fragments with powder."

"O loving God!" cried the king.

But after this cry was silence, such astonishment had seized each
person. All looked as at a rainbow at the young hero, who stood with
flashing eyes, with a flush on his face, and with head proudly erect.
And so much was there in him at that moment of a certain terribleness
and wild courage that the thought came to each one unwittingly, such a
man might dare such a deed. After silence of a moment the primate
said,--

"This man looks like that!"

"How did you do it?" asked the king.

Kmita explained how he did it.

"I cannot believe my ears," said Pan Korytsinski, the chancellor.

"Worthy gentlemen," answered the king, with dignity, "you do not know
whom we have before us. There is yet hope that the Commonwealth has not
perished while it gives such cavaliers and citizens."

"This man might say of himself, '_Si fractus illabatur orbis, impavidum
ferient ruinæ_ (If the broken firmament should fall the ruins would
strike him unterrified)!'" said Father Vydjga, who loved to quote
authors at every opportunity.

"These are almost impossible things," said the chancellor again. "Tell,
Cavalier, how you brought away your life, and how you passed through
the Swedes."

"The explosion stunned me," said Kmita, "and next day the Swedes found
me in the ditch lying as if lifeless. They judged me at once, and
Miller condemned me to death."

"Then did you escape?"

"A certain Kuklinovski begged me of Miller, so that he might put me to
death, for he had a fierce animosity against me."

"He is a well-known disturber and murderer; we have heard of him," said
the castellan of Kjyvinsk. "His regiment is with Miller at Chenstohova.
That is true!"

"Previously Kuklinovski was an envoy from Miller to the cloister, and
once tried to persuade me in secret to treason when I was conducting
him to the gate. I struck him in the face and kicked him. For that
insult he was enraged against me."

"Ah, this I see is a noble of fire and sulphur!" cried the king,
amused. "Do not go into such a man's road. Did Miller then give you to
Kuklinovski?"

"He did, Gracious Gentlemen. Kuklinovski shut me with himself and some
men in an empty little barn. There he had me tied to a beam with ropes,
then he began to torture me and to burn my sides with fire."

"By the living God!"

"While doing this he was called away to Miller; when he was gone three
nobles came, certain Kyemliches, his soldiers, who had served with me
previously. They killed the guards, and unbound me from the beam--"

"And you fled! Now I understand," said the king.

"No, your Royal Grace. We waited for the return of Kuklinovski. Then I
gave command to tie him to that same beam, and I burned him better with
fire."

When he had said this, Kmita, roused by remembrance, became red again,
and his eyes gleamed like those of a wolf. But the king, who passed
easily from grief to joy, from seriousness to sport, began to strike
the table with his hand, and exclaim with laughter,--

"That was good for him! that was good for him! Such a traitor deserved
nothing better!"

"I left him alive," continued Kmita, "but he must have perished from
cold before morning."

"That's a deed; he does not give away his own. We need more of such!"
cried the king, now completely delighted. "Did you come hither with
those soldiers? What are their names?"

"They are Kyemlich, a father and two sons."

"My mother is from the house of Kyemlich," said Father Vydjga.

"It is evident that there are great and small Kyemliches," answered
Kmita, smiling; "these are not only small persons, but robbers; they
are fierce soldiers, however, and faithful to me."

Meanwhile the chancellor, who had been whispering for a time in the ear
of the Archbishop of Gnyezno, said at last,--

"Many come here who for their own praise or for an expected reward are
glad to raise dust. They bring false and disturbing news, and are
frequently sent by the enemy."

This remark chilled all present. Kmita's face became purple.

"I do not know the office of your grace," said he, "which, I think,
must be considerable, therefore I do not wish to offend you; but there
is no office, as I think, which would empower any one to give the lie
to a noble, without reason."

"Man! you are speaking to the grand chancellor of the kingdom," said
Lugovski.

"Whoso gives me the lie, even if he is chancellor, I answer him, it is
easier to give the lie than to give your life, it is easier to seal
with wax than with blood!"

Pan Korytsinski was not angry; he only said: "I do not give you the
lie, Cavalier; but if what you say is true, you must have a burned
side."

"Come to another place, your great mightiness, to another room, and I
will show it to you!" roared Kmita.

"It is not needful," said the king; "I believe you without that."

"It cannot be, your Royal Grace," exclaimed Pan Andrei; "I wish it
myself, I beg it as a favor, so that here no one, even though I know
not how worthy, should make me an exaggerator. My torment would be an
ill reward; I wish belief."

"I believe you," answered the king.

"Truth itself was in his words," added Marya Ludvika. "I am not
deceived in men."

"Gracious King and Queen, permit. Let some man go aside with me, for it
would be grievous for me to live here in suspicion."

"I will go," said Pan Tyzenhauz, a young attendant of the king. So
saying, he conducted Kmita to another room, and on the way said to him,
"I do not go because I do not believe you, for I believe; but to speak
with you. Have we met somewhere in Lithuania? I cannot remember your
name, for it may be that I saw you when a youth, and I myself was a
youth then?"

Kmita turned away his face somewhat to hide his sudden confusion.

"Perhaps at some provincial diet. My late father took me with him
frequently to see public business."

"Perhaps. Your face is surely not strange to me, though at that time it
had not those scars. Still see how _memoria fragilis est_ (weak memory
is); also it seems to me you had a different name."

"Years dull the memory," answered Pan Andrei.

They went to another room. After a while Tyzenhauz returned to the
royal pair.

"He is roasted, Gracious King, as on a spit," said he; "his whole side
is burned."

When Kmita in his turn came back, the king rose, pressed his head, and
said,--

"We have never doubted that you speak the truth, and neither your pain
nor your services will pass unrewarded."

"We are your debtors," added the queen, extending her hand to him.

Pan Andrei dropped on one knee and kissed with reverence the hand of
the queen, who stroked him on the head like a mother.

"Be not angry with the chancellor," said the king. "In this place there
are really not a few traitors, or, if not traitors, men who are unwise,
that wind three after three, and it belongs to the chancellor's office
to discover truth touching public affairs."

"What does my poor anger mean for such a great man?" answered Pan
Andrei. "And I should not dare to murmur against a worthy senator, who
gives an example of loyalty and love of country to all."

The chancellor smiled kindly and extended his hand. "Well, let there be
peace! You spoke ill to me of wax; but know this, that the Korytsinskis
have sealed often with blood, not with wax only."

The king was rejoiced. "This Babinich has pleased us," said he to the
senators, "has touched our heart as few have. We will not let you go
from our side, and God grant that we shall return together soon to our
beloved country."

"Oh, Most Serene King," cried Kmita, with ecstasy; "though confined in
the fortress of Yasna Gora, I know from the nobles, from the army, and
even from those who, serving under Zbrojek and Kalinski, besieged
Chenstohova, that all are waiting for the day and the hour of your
return. Only show yourself. Gracious Lord, and that day all Lithuania,
Poland, and Russia will stand by you as one man! The nobles will join;
even insignificant peasants will go with their lord to resist. The army
under the hetmans is barely breathing from eagerness to move against
the Swedes. I know this, too, that at Chenstohova deputies came from
the hetmans' troops to arouse Zbrojek, Kalinski, and Kuklinovski,
against the Swedes. Appear on the boundary to-day, and in a week there
will not be a Swede; only appear, only show yourself, for we are there
like sheep without a shepherd."

Sparks came from Kmita's eyes while he was speaking, and such great
ardor seized him that he knelt in the middle of the hall. His
enthusiasm was communicated even to the queen herself, who, being of
fearless courage, had long been persuading the king to return.

Therefore, turning to Yan Kazimir, she said with energy and
determination: "I hear the voice of the whole people through the mouth
of this noble."

"That is true, that is true, Gracious Lady, our Mother!" exclaimed
Kmita.

But certain words in what Kmita had said struck the chancellor and the
king.

"We have always been ready," said the king, "to sacrifice our health
and life, and hitherto we have been waiting for nothing else but a
change in our subjects."

"That change has taken place already," said Marya Ludvika.

"_Majestas infracta malis_ (Majesty unbroken by misfortune)!" said
Father Vydjga, looking at her with homage.

"It is important," said the archbishop, "if, really, deputations from
the hetmans went to Chenstohova."

"I know this from my men, those Kyemliches," answered Pan Andrei. "In
the squadrons of Zbrojek and Kalinski all spoke openly of this, paying
no attention to Miller and the Swedes. These Kyemliches were not
enclosed in the fortress; they had relations with the world, with
soldiers and nobles,--I can bring them before your Royal Grace and your
worthinesses; let them tell how it is seething in the whole country as
in a pot. The hetmans joined the Swedes from constraint only; the
troops wish to return to duty. The Swedes beat nobles and priests,
plunder, violate ancient liberties; it is no wonder then that each man
balls his fist and looks anxiously at his sabre."

"We, too, have had news from the troops," said the king; "there were
here, also, secret envoys who told us of the general wish to return to
former loyalty and honor."

"And that agrees with what this cavalier tells," said the chancellor.
"But if deputations are passing among the regiments it is important,
for it means that the fruit is already ripe, that our efforts were not
vain, that our work is accomplished, that the time is at hand."

"But Konyetspolski," said the king, "and so many others who are still
at the side of the invader, who look into his eyes and give assurances
of their devotion?"

Then all grew silent, the king became gloomy on a sudden, and as when
the sun goes behind a cloud a shadow covers at once the whole world, so
did his face grow dark. After a time he said,--

"God sees in our heart that even to-day we are ready to move, and that
not the power of Sweden detains us, but the unhappy fickleness of our
people, who, like Proteus, take on a new form every moment. Can we
believe that this change is sincere, this desire not imagined, this
readiness not deceitful? Can we believe that people who so recently
deserted us, and with such light hearts joined the invader against
their own king, against their own country, against their own liberties?
Pain straitens our heart, and we are ashamed of our own subjects! Where
does history show such examples? What king has met so many treasons, so
much ill-will? Who has been so deserted? Call to mind, your kindnesses,
that we in the midst of our army, in the midst of those who were bound
to shed their blood for us,--it is a danger and a terror to tell
it,--we were not sure of our life. And if we left the country and had
to seek an asylum, it is not from fear of the Swedish enemy, but of our
own subjects, to save our own children from the terrible crime of king
murder and parricide."

"Gracious Lord!" exclaimed Kmita; "our people have sinned grievously;
they are guilty, and the hand of God is punishing them justly; but
still, by the wounds of Christ, there has not been found among that
people, and God grant that there will never be found, a man who would
raise his hand on the sacred person of the anointed of God."

"You do not believe, because you are honest," said the king, "but we
have letters and proofs. The Radzivills have paid us badly for the
kindness with which we have covered them; but still Boguslav, though a
traitor, was moved by conscience, and not only did he not wish to lend
a hand to such a deed, but he was the first to warn us of it."

"What deed?" asked the astonished Kmita.

"He informed us," said the king, "that there was a man who offered for
one hundred gold ducats to seize us and deliver us, living or dead, to
the Swedes."

A shiver passed through the whole assembly at these words of the king,
and Kmita was barely able to groan out the question, "Who was that
man?--who was he?"

"A certain Kmita," answered the king.

A wave of blood suddenly struck Pan Andrei in the head, it grew dark in
his eyes, he seized his forelock, and with a terribly wandering voice
said: "That is a lie! Prince Boguslav lies like a dog! Gracious King,
believe not that traitor; he did that of purpose to bring infamy on an
enemy, and to frighten you, my king. He is a traitor! Kmita would not
have done such a deed."

Here Pan Andrei turned suddenly where he was standing. His strength,
exhausted by the siege, undermined by the explosion of powder in the
great gun, and through the torture given by Kuklinovski, left him
altogether, and he fell without consciousness at the feet of the king.

They bore him into the adjoining room, where the king's physician
examined him. But in the assembly of dignitaries they knew not how to
explain why the words of the king had produced such a terrible
impression on the young man.

"Either he is so honest that horror alone has thrown him off his feet,
or he is some relative of that Kmita," said the castellan of Cracow.

"We must ask him," replied the chancellor. "In Lithuania nobles are all
related one to another, as in fact they are with us."

"Gracious Lord," said Tyzenhauz, "God preserve me from wishing to speak
evil of this young man; but we should not trust him at present too
much. That he served in Chenstohova is certain,--his side is burned;
this the monks would not have done in any event, for they as servants
of God must have every clemency, even for prisoners and traitors; but
one thing is coming continually to my head and destroying trust in him,
that is, I met him somewhere in Lithuania,--still a youth, at a diet or
a carnival,--I don't remember--"

"And what of that?" asked the king.

"And it seems to me always that his name was not Babinich."

"Do not tell every little thing," said the king; "you are young and
inattentive, and a thing might easily enter your head. Whether he is
Babinich or not, why should I not trust him? Sincerity and truth are
written on his lips, and evidently he has a golden heart. I should not
trust myself, if I could not trust a soldier who has shed his blood for
us and the country."

"He deserves more confidence than the letter of Prince Boguslav," said
the queen, suddenly, "and I recommend this to the consideration of your
worthinesses, there may not be a word of truth in that letter. It might
have been very important for the Radzivills of Birji that we should
lose courage completely, and it is easy to admit that Prince Boguslav
wished also to ruin some enemy of his, and leave a door open to himself
in case of changed fortune."

"If I were not accustomed," said the primate, "to hear wisdom itself
coming from the mouth of the gracious queen, I should be astonished at
the quickness of these words, worthy of the ablest statesman--"

"_Comasque gerens, animosque viriles_ (Though wearing tresses, she has
the courage of a man)," interrupted Father Vydjga, in a low voice.

Encouraged by these words, the queen rose from her chair and began to
speak: "I care not for the Radzivills of Birji, for they, as heretics,
listen easily to the whispers of the enemy of the human race; nor of
the letter of Prince Boguslav, which may touch private affairs. But I
am most pained by the despairing words of my lord and husband, the
king, spoken against this people. For who will spare them if their own
king condemns them? And still, when I look through the world, I ask in
vain, where is there another such people in which the praise of God
endures with the manner of ancient sincerity and increases continually?
In vain do I look for another people in which such open candor exists.
Where is there another State in which no one has heard of those hellish
blasphemies, subtle crimes, and never ending feuds with which foreign
chronicles are filled. Let people skilled in the history of the world
show me another kingdom where all the kings died their own quiet
deaths. You have no knives or poisons here; you have no protectors, as
among the English. It is true that this nation has grown grievously
guilty, has sinned through frivolity and license. But where is the
nation that never errs, and where is the one which, as soon as it has
recognized its offence, begins penance and reformation? Behold they
have already taken thought, they are now coming, beating their breasts
to your majesty, ready to spill their blood, to yield their lives, to
sacrifice their fortune for you. And will you reject them; will you not
forgive the penitent; will you not trust those who have reformed, those
who are doing penance; will you not return the affection of a father to
children who have erred? Trust them, since they are yearning for their
Yagyellon blood, and for your government, which is of their fathers. Go
among them; I, a woman, fear no treason, for I see love, I see sorrow
for sins and restoration of this kingdom to which they called you after
your father and your brother. It does not seem to me likely that God
will destroy such a great commonwealth, in which the light of the true
faith is burning. For a short period God's justice has stretched forth
the rod to chastise, not to ruin its children, and soon will the
fatherly love of that heavenly Lord receive them and cherish them. But
do not contemn them, O king, and fear not to confide in their sonly
discretion, for in this way alone can you turn evil into good,
suffering into comfort, defeat into triumph."

When she had said this, the queen sat down, with fire still in her
eyes, and heaving breast; all looked at her with veneration, and her
chancellor, Vydjga, began to speak with a resonant voice,--


           "Nulla sors longa est, dolor et voluptas,
            Invicens cedunt.
            Ima permutat brevis hora summis."

            (No fortune is long, pain and pleasure
            Yield in turn.
            A short hour changes the lowest with the highest.)


But no one heard what he said, for the ardor of the heroic lady was
communicated to every heart. The king himself sprang up, with a flush
on his sallow face, and said,--

"I have not lost the kingdom yet, since I have such a queen. Let her
will be done, for she spoke with prophetic inspiration. The sooner I
move and appear in my realms the better."

To this the primate answered with seriousness: "I do not wish to oppose
the will of my gracious king and queen, nor to turn them from an
undertaking in which there is hazard, but in which there may be also
salvation. Still I should consider it a wise thing to assemble in Opol,
where a majority of the senators are tarrying, and there listen to the
ideas of all; these may develop and explain the affair more clearly and
broadly."

"Then to Opol!" exclaimed the king, "and afterward to the road, and
what God will give!"

"God will give a happy return and victory!" said the queen.

"Amen!" said the primate.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


Pan Andrei fretted in his lodgings like a wounded wildcat. The hellish
revenge of Boguslav Radzivill brought him almost to madness. Not enough
that that prince had sprung out of his hands, killed his men, almost
deprived him of life; he had put upon him besides shame such as no one,
not merely of his name, but no Pole from the beginning of the world,
had ever groaned under.

There were moments when Kmita wished to leave everything--the glory
which was opening before him, the service of the king--and fly away to
avenge himself on that magnate whom he wanted to eat up alive.

But on the other hand, in spite of all his rage and the whirlwind in
his head, he remembered that while the prince lived revenge would not
vanish; and the best means, the only way to hurl back his calumny and
lay bare all the infamy of his accusation, was precisely the service of
the king; for in it he could show the world that not only had he not
thought of raising his hand against the sacred person of Yan Kazimir,
but that among all the nobles of Lithuania and Poland no person more
loyal than Kmita could be found.

But he gnashed his teeth and was boiling like a stew; he tore his
clothing, and long, long was it before he could calm himself. He
gloated over the thought of revenge. He saw this Radzivill again in his
hands; he swore by the memory of his father, that he must reach
Boguslav even if death and torments were awaiting him therefor. And
though the prince was a mighty lord whom not only the revenge of a
common noble, but even the revenge of a king, could not easily touch;
still, whoso knew that unrestrained soul better, would not have slept
calmly, and more than once would have trembled before his vows.

And still Pan Andrei did not know yet that the prince had not merely
covered him with shame and robbed him of repute.

Meanwhile the king, who from the first had conceived a great love for
the young hero, sent Pan Lugovski to him that same day, and on the
morrow commanded Kmita to accompany his majesty to Opol, where at a
general assembly of the senators it was intended to deliberate on the
return of the king to the country. Indeed there was something over
which to deliberate. Lyubomirski, the marshal of the kingdom, had sent
a new letter, announcing that everything in the country was ready for a
general war, and urging earnestly the return. Besides this, news was
spread of a certain league of nobles and soldiers formed for the
defence of the king and the country, concerning which men had really
been thinking for some time, but which, as appeared afterward, was
concluded a little later, under the name of the Confederation of
Tishovtsi.

All minds were greatly occupied by the news, and immediately after a
thanksgiving Mass they assembled in a secret council, to which, at the
instance of the king, Kmita too was admitted, since he had brought news
from Chenstohova.

They began then to discuss whether the return was to take place at
once, or whether it were better to defer it till the army, not only by
wish, but by deed, should abandon the Swedes.

Yan Kazimir put an end to these discussions by saying: "Do not discuss,
your worthinesses, the return, or whether it is better to defer it
awhile, for I have taken counsel already concerning that with God and
the Most Holy Lady. Therefore I communicate to you that whatever may
happen we shall move in person these days. Express your ideas
therefore, your worthinesses, and be not sparing of counsel as to how
our return may be best and most safely accomplished."

Opinions were various. Some advised not to trust too greatly to the
marshal of the kingdom, who had once shown hesitation and disobedience,
when, instead of giving the crown to the emperor for safe keeping,
according to the order of the king, he had carried it to Lyubovlya.
"Great," said they, "is the pride and ambition of that lord, and if he
should have the person of the king in his castle, who knows what he
might do, or what he would ask for his services; who knows that he
would not try, or wish to seize the whole government in his own hands,
and become the protector, not only of the entire country, but of the
king?"

These advised the king therefore to wait for the retreat of the Swedes
and repair to Chenstohova, as to the place from which grace and rebirth
had spread over the Commonwealth. But others gave different opinions,--

"The Swedes are yet at Chenstohova, and though by the grace of God they
will not capture the place, still there are no unoccupied roads. All
the districts about there are in Swedish hands. The enemy are at
Kjepitsi, Vyelunie, Cracow; along the boundary also considerable forces
are disposed. In the mountains near the Hungarian border, where
Lyubovlya is situated, there are no troops save those of the marshal;
the Swedes have never gone to that distance, not having men enough nor
daring sufficient. From Lyubovlya it is nearer to Russia, which is free
of hostile occupation, and to Lvoff, which has not ceased to be loyal,
and to the Tartars, who, according to information, are coming with
succor; all these are waiting specially for the decision of the king."

"As to Pan Lyubomirski," said the Bishop of Cracow, "his ambition will
be satisfied with this, that he will receive the king first in his
starostaship of Spij, and will surround him with protection. The
government will remain with the king, but the hope itself of great
services will satisfy the marshal. If he wishes to tower above all
others through his loyalty, then, whether his loyalty flows from
ambition or from love to the king and the country, his majesty will
always receive notable profit."

This opinion of a worthy and experienced bishop seemed the most proper;
therefore it was decided that the king should go through the mountains
to Lyubovlya, and thence to Lvoff, or whithersoever circumstances might
indicate.

They discussed also the day of returning; but the voevoda of Lenchytsk,
who had just come from his mission to the emperor for aid, said that it
was better not to fix the date, but to leave the decision to the king,
so that the news might not be spread and the enemy forewarned. They
decided only this, that the king would move on with three hundred
dragoons, under command of Tyzenhauz, who, though young, enjoyed
already the reputation of a great soldier.

But still more important was the second part of the deliberations, in
which it was voted unanimously that on his arrival in the country,
government and the direction of the war should pass into the hands of
the king, whom nobles, troops, and hetmans were to obey in all things.
They spoke besides of the future, and touched upon the causes of those
sudden misfortunes which, as a deluge, had covered the whole land in
such a brief period. And the primate himself gave no other cause for
this than the disorder, want of obedience, and excessive contempt for
the office and majesty of the king.

He was heard in silence, for each man understood that it was a question
here of the fate of the Commonwealth, and of great, hitherto unexampled
changes in it, which might bring back the ancient power of the State,
and which was long desired by the wise queen who loved her adopted
country.

From the mouth of the worthy prince of the church there came words like
thunderbolts, and the souls of the hearers opened to the truth, almost
as flowers open to the sun.

"Not against ancient liberties do I rise," said the primate, "but
against that license which with its own hands is murdering the country.
In very truth men have forgotten in this Commonwealth the distinction
between freedom and license; and as excessive pleasure ends in pain, so
freedom unchecked has ended in slavery. You have descended to such
error, citizens of this illustrious Commonwealth, that only he among
you passes for a defender of liberty who raises an uproar, who breaks
diets and opposes the king, not when it is needful, but when for the
king it is a question of saving the country. In our treasury the bottom
of the chest can be seen; the soldier unpaid seeks pay of the enemy;
the diets, the only foundation of this Commonwealth, are dissolved
after having done nothing, for one disorderly man, one evil citizen,
for his own private purpose may prevent deliberation. What manner of
liberty is that which permits one man to stand against all? If that is
freedom for one man, then it is bondage for all others. And where have
we gone with the use of this freedom which seemed such sweet fruit?
Behold one weak enemy, against whom our ancestors gained so many
splendid victories, now _sicut fulgur exit ab occidente et poret usque
ad orientem_ (flashes like lightning from the west, and goes as far as
the east). No one opposes him, traitorous heretics aided him, and he
seized possession of all things; he persecutes the faith, he desecrates
churches, and when you speak of your liberties he shows you the sword.
Behold what your provincial diets have come to, what your veto has come
to, what your license has come to, your degradation of the king at
every step. Your king, the natural defender of the country, you have
rendered, first of all, powerless, and then you complain that he does
not defend you. You did not want your own government, and now the enemy
is governing. And who, I ask, can save us in this fall, who can bring
back ancient glory to this Commonwealth, if not he who has spent so
much of his life and time for it; when the unhappy domestic war with
the Cossacks tore it, who exposed his consecrated person to dangers
such as no monarch in our time has passed through; who at Zborovo, at
Berestechko, and at Jvanyets fought like a common soldier, bearing
toils and hardships beyond his station of king? To him now we will
confide ourselves; to him, with the example of the ancient Romans, we
will give the dictatorship, and take counsel ourselves how to save in
time coming this fatherland from domestic enemies, from vice, license,
disorder, disobedience, and restore due dignity to the government and
the king."

So spoke the primate; and misfortune with the experience of recent
times had changed his hearers in such a degree that no man protested,
for all saw clearly that either the power of the king must be
strengthened, or the Commonwealth must perish without fail. They began
therefore to consider in various ways how to bring the counsels of the
primate into practice. The king and queen listened to them eagerly and
with joy, especially the queen, who had labored long and earnestly at
the introduction of order into the Commonwealth.

The king returned then to Glogov glad and satisfied, and summoning a
number of confidential officers, among whom was Kmita, he said,--

"I am impatient, my stay in this country is burning me, I could wish to
start even to-morrow; therefore I have called you, as men of arms and
experience, to provide ready methods. It is a pity that we should lose
time, when our presence may hasten considerably a general war."

"In truth," said Lugovski, "if such is the will of your Royal Grace,
why delay? The sooner the better."

"While the affair is not noised about and the enemy do not double their
watchfulness," added Colonel Wolf.

"The enemy are already on their guard, and have taken possession of the
roads so far as they are able," said Kmita.

"How is that?" asked the king.

"Gracious Lord, your intended return is no news for the Swedes. Almost
every day a report travels over the whole Commonwealth, that your Royal
Grace is already on the road, or even now in your realms, _inter
regna_. Therefore it is necessary to observe the greatest care, and to
hurry by through narrow places stealthily, for Douglas's scouts are
waiting on the roads."

"The best carefulness," said Tyzenhauz, looking at Kmita, "is three
hundred faithful sabres; and if my gracious lord gives me command over
them, I will conduct him in safety, even over the breasts of Douglas's
scouts."

"You will conduct if there are just three hundred, but suppose that you
meet six hundred or a thousand, or come upon a superior force waiting
in ambush, what then?"

"I said three hundred," answered Tyzenhauz, "for three hundred were
mentioned. If however that is too small a party, we can provide five
hundred and even more."

"God save us from that. The larger the party, the more noise will it
make," said Kmita.

"I think that the marshal of the kingdom will come out to meet us with
his squadrons," put in the king.

"The marshal will not come out," answered Kmita, "for he will not know
the day and the hour, and even if he did know some delay might happen
on the road, as is usual; it is difficult to foresee everything."

"A soldier says that, a genuine soldier!" said the king. "It is clear
that you are not a stranger to war."

Kmita laughed, for he remembered his attacks on Hovanski. Who was more
skilled than he in such actions? To whom could the escort of the king
be entrusted with more judgment?

But Tyzenhauz was evidently of a different opinion from the king, for
he frowned and said with sarcasm against Kmita, "We wait then for your
enlightened counsel."

Kmita felt ill will in the words; therefore he fixed his glance on
Tyzenhauz and answered,--

"My opinion is that the smaller the party the easier it will pass."

"How is that?"

"The will of your Royal Grace is unfettered," said Kmita, "and can do
what it likes, but my reason teaches me this: Let Pan Tyzenhauz go
ahead with the dragoons, giving out purposely that he is conducting the
king; this he will do to attract the enemy to himself. His affair is to
wind out, to escape from the trap safely. And we with a small band in a
day or two will move after him with your Royal Grace; and when the
enemy's attention is turned in another direction it will be easy for us
to reach Lyubovlya."

The king clapped his hands with delight. "God sent us this soldier!"
cried he. "Solomon could not judge better. I give my vote for this
plan, and there must not be another. They will hunt for the king among
the dragoons, and the king will pass by under their noses. It could not
be better!"

"Gracious King," cried Tyzenhauz, "that is pastime."

"Soldier's pastime!" said the king. "But no matter, I will not recede
from that plan."

Kmita's eyes shone from delight because his opinion had prevailed, but
Tyzenhauz sprang from his seat.

"Gracious Lord!" said he, "I resign my command from the dragoons. Let
some one else lead them."

"And why is that?"

"For if your Royal Grace will go without defence, exposed to the play
of fortune, to every destructive chance which may happen, I wish to be
near your person to expose my breast for you and to die should the need
be."

"I thank you for your sincere intention," answered Yan Kazimir; "but
calm yourself, for in just such a way as Babinich advises shall I be
least exposed."

"Let Pan Babinich, or whatever his name may be, take what he advises on
his own responsibility! It may concern him that your Royal Grace be
lost in the mountains. I take as witness God and my companions here
present that I advised against it from my soul."

Scarcely had he finished speaking when Kmita sprang up, and standing
face to face with Tyzenhauz asked, "What do you mean by these words?"

Tyzenhauz measured him haughtily with his eyes from head to foot, and
said, "Do not strain your head, little man, toward mine, the place is
too high for you."

To which Kmita with lightning in his eyes replied, "It is not known for
whom it would be too high if--"

"If what?" asked Tyzenhauz, looking at him quickly.

"If I should reach higher people, than you."

Tyzenhauz laughed. "But where would you seek them?"

"Silence!" said the king suddenly, with a frown. "Do not begin a
quarrel in my presence."

Yan Kazimir made an impression of such dignity on all surrounding him,
that both young men were silent and confused, remembering that in the
presence of the king unseemly words had escaped them. But the king
added,--

"No one has the right to exalt himself above that cavalier who burst
the siege gun and escaped from Swedish hands, even though his father
lived in a village, which, as I see, was not the case, for a bird from
his feathers, and blood from deeds are easily known. Drop your
offences." Here the king turned to Tyzenhauz. "You wish it; then remain
with our person. We may not refuse that. Wolf or Denhoff will lead the
dragoons. But Babinich too will remain, and we will go according to his
counsel, for he has pleased our heart."

"I wash my hands!" said Tyzenhauz.

"Only preserve the secret, gentlemen. Let the dragoons go to Ratibor
to-day, and spread as widely as possible the report that I am with
them. And then be on the watch, for you know not the day nor the
hour--Go, Tyzenhauz, give the order to the captain of the dragoons."

Tyzenhauz went out wringing his hands from anger and sorrow; after him
went other officers.

That same day the news thundered through all Glogov that the king had
already gone to the boundaries of the Commonwealth. Even many
distinguished senators thought that the departure had really taken
place. Couriers, sent purposely, took the report to Opol and to the
roads on the boundary.

Tyzenhauz, though he had declared that he washed his hands, did not
give up the affair as lost; as attendant of the king, he had access to
the person of the monarch every moment made easy. That very day
therefore, after the dragoons had gone, he stood before the face of Yan
Kazimir, or rather before both royal persons, for Marya Ludvika was
present.

"I have come for the order," said he; "when do we start?"

"The day after to-morrow, before dawn."

"Are many people to go?"

"You will go; Lugovski with the soldiers. The castellan of Sandomir
goes also with me. I begged him to take as few men as possible; but we
cannot dispense with a few trusty and tried sabres. Besides, his
holiness the nuncio wishes to accompany me; his presence will add
importance, and will touch all who are faithful to the true church. He
does not hesitate therefore to expose his sacred person to hazard. Do
you have a care that there are not more than forty horses, for that is
Babinich's counsel."

"Gracious Lord!" said Tyzenhauz.

"And what do you wish yet?"

"On my knees I implore one favor. The question is settled, the dragoons
have gone,--we shall travel without defence, and the first scouting
party of a few tens of horses may capture us. Listen, your Royal Grace,
to the prayer of your servant, on whose faithfulness God is looking,
and do not trust in everything to that noble. He is an adroit man,
since he has been able in so short a time to steal into your heart and
favor; but--"

"Do you envy him?" interrupted the king.

"I do not envy him, Gracious Lord; I do not wish even to suspect him of
treason positively; but I would swear that his name is not Babinich.
Why does he hide his real name? Why is it somehow inconvenient to tell
what he did before the siege of Chenstohova? Why specially has he
insisted upon dragoons going out first, and that your Royal Grace
should go without an escort?"

The king thought awhile, and began, according to his custom, to pout
his lips repeatedly.

"If it were a question of collusion with the Swedes," said he at last,
"what could three hundred dragoons do? What power would they be, and
what protection? Babinich would need merely to notify the Swedes to
dispose a few hundred infantry along the roads, and they could take us
as in a net. But only think if there can be a question of treason here.
He would have had to know beforehand the date of our journey, and to
inform the Swedes in Cracow; and how could he do so, since we move the
day after to-morrow? He could not even guess that we would choose his
plan; we might have gone according to your suggestion or that of
others. It was at first decided to go with the dragoons; then if he
wished to talk with the Swedes this special party would have confused
his arrangements, for he would have to send out new messengers and give
fresh notice. All these are irrefragable reasons. And besides he did
not insist at all on his opinion, as you say; he only offered, as did
others, what seemed to him best. No, no! Sincerity is looking forth
from the eyes of that noble, and his burned side bears witness that he
is ready to disregard even torture."

"His Royal Grace is right," said the queen, on a sudden; "these points
are irrefragable, and the advice was and is good."

Tyzenhauz knew from experience that when the queen gave her opinion it
would be vain for him to appeal to the king, Yan Kazimir had such
confidence in her wit and penetration. And it was a question now with
the young man only that the king should observe needful caution.

"It is not my duty," answered he, "to oppose my king and queen. But if
we are to go the day after to-morrow, let this Babinich not know of it
till the hour of departure."

"That may be," said the king.

"And on the road I will have an eye on him, and should anything happen
he will not go alive from my hands."

"You will not have to act," said the queen. "Listen; not you will
preserve the king from evil happenings on the road, from treason, and
snares of the enemy; not you, not Babinich, not the dragoons, not the
powers of earth, but the Providence of God, whose eye is turned
continually on the shepherds of nations and the anointed of the Lord.
It will guard him. It will protect him and bring him safely; and in
case of need, send him assistance, of which you do not even think, you
who believe in earthly power only."

"Most Serene Lady!" answered Tyzenhauz, "I believe, too, that without
the will of God not a hair will fall from the head of any man; but to
guard the king's person through fear of traitors is no sin for me."

Marya Ludvika smiled graciously. "But you suspect too hastily, and thus
cast shame on a whole nation, in which, as this same Babinich has said,
there has not yet been found one to raise his hand against his own
king. Let it not astonish you that after such desertion, after such a
breaking of oaths and faith as the king and I have experienced, I say
still that no one has dared such a terrible crime, not even those who
to-day serve the Swedes."

"Prince Boguslav's letter, Gracious Lady?"

"That letter utters untruth," said the queen, with decision. "If there
is a man in the Commonwealth ready to betray even the king, that man is
Prince Boguslav, for he in name only belongs to this people."

"Speaking briefly, do not put suspicion on Babinich," said the king.
"As to his name, it must be doubled in your head. Besides, we may ask
him; but how can we say to him here, how inquire, 'If you are not
Babinich, then what is your name?' Such a question might pain an honest
man terribly, and I'll risk my head that he is an honest man."

"At such a price, Gracious Lord, I would not convince myself of his
honesty."

"Well, well, we are thankful for your care. To-morrow for prayer and
penance, and the day after to the road, to the road!"

Tyzenhauz withdrew with a sigh, and in the greatest secrecy began
preparations that very day for the journey. Even dignitaries who were
to accompany the king were not all informed of the time. But the
servants were ordered to have horses in readiness, for they might start
any day for Ratibor.

The king did not show himself the entire following day, even in the
church; but he lay in the form of a cross in his own room till night,
fasting and imploring the King of kings for aid, not for himself, but
for the Commonwealth.

Marya Ludvika, together with her ladies-in-waiting, was also in prayer.

Then the following night freshened the strength of the wearied ones;
and when in darkness the Glogov church-bell sounded to matins, the hour
had struck for the journey.



                              CHAPTER IX.


They rode through Ratibor, merely stopping to feed the horses. No one
recognized the king, no one paid much attention to the party, for all
were occupied with the recent passage of the dragoons, among whom, as
all thought, was the King of Poland. The retinue was about fifty in
number, for several dignitaries accompanied the king; five bishops
alone, and among others the nuncio, ventured to share with him the
toils of a journey not without peril. The road within the boundary of
the empire, however, presented no danger. At Oderberg, not far from the
junction of the Olsha with the Odra, they entered Moravia.

The day was cloudy, and snow fell so thickly that it was not possible
to see the road a few steps ahead. But the king was joyous and full of
courage, for a sign had been manifested which all considered most
favorable, and which contemporary historians did not neglect to insert
in their chronicles. Behold, just as the king was departing from
Glogov, a little bird, entirely white, appeared before his horse and
began to circle round, rising at times in the air, at times coming down
to the head of the king, chirping and twittering joyously meanwhile.
They remembered that a similar bird, but black, had circled over the
king when he was retreating from Warsaw before the Swedes.

But this was white, exactly of the size and form of a swallow; which
fact roused the greater wonder, because it was deep winter, and
swallows were not thinking yet of return. But all were rejoiced, and
the king for the first few days spoke of nothing else, and promised
himself the most successful future. It appeared from the beginning,
too, how sound was Kmita's advice to travel apart.

Everywhere in Moravia people were telling of the recent passage of the
King of Poland. Some stated that they had seen him with their own eyes,
all in armor, with a sword in his hand and a crown on his head. Various
stories, also, were current of the forces which he had with him, and in
general the number of his dragoons was exaggerated to the fabulous.
There were some who had seen ten thousand, and who could not wait till
the last horses, men, gunners, and flags had passed.

"Surely," said they, "the Swedes will spring before them, but what they
will do with such a force is unknown."

"Well," asked the king of Tyzenhauz, "was not Babinich right?"

"We are not in Lyubovlya yet, Gracious Lord," replied the young
magnate.

Babinich was satisfied with himself and with the journey. Generally he
went ahead of the king's party with the three Kyemliches, examining the
road; sometimes he rode with the rest, entertaining the king with
narratives of single incidents in the siege of Chenstohova, of which
the king never had enough. And almost every hour that young hero,
cheerful, mettlesome, eagle-like, drew nearer the heart of the king.
Time passed for the monarch now in prayer, now in pious meditation on
eternal life, now in discussing the coming war and the aid hoped from
the emperor, and finally in looking at knightly amusements with which
the attendant soldiers endeavored to shorten the time of the journey.
For Yan Kazimir had this in his nature, that his mind passed easily
from seriousness almost to frivolity, from hard labor to amusements, to
which, when there was leisure, he gave himself with his whole soul, as
if no care, no grief had pressed him at any time.

The soldiers then exhibited themselves, each with what he could do; the
Kyemliches, Kosma, and Damian, immense and awkward figures, amused the
king by breaking horseshoes, which they broke like canes; he paid them
a thaler apiece, though his wallet was empty enough, for all his money,
and even the diamonds and "parafanaly" (paraphernalia) of the queen,
had been spent on the army.

Pan Andrei exhibited himself by throwing a heavy hatchet, which he
hurled upward with such force that it was barely visible, and then he
sprang under the instrument with his horse and caught it by the handle
as it fell. At sight of this the king clapped his hands.

"I saw that done," said he, "by Pan Slushka, brother of the
vice-chancellor's wife, but he threw not so high by half."

"This is customary with us in Lithuania," said Pan Andrei; "and when a
man practises it from childhood he becomes skilful."

"Whence have you those scars across the lip?" asked the king of him
once, pointing to Kmita's scars. "Some one went through you well with a
sabre."

"That is not from a sabre, Gracious Lord, but from a bullet. I was
fired at by a man who put the pistol to my mouth."

"An enemy or one of ours?"

"One of ours; but an enemy whom I shall yet call to account, and till
that happens it is not proper for me to speak of it."

"Have you such animosity as that?"

"I have no animosity. Gracious Lord, for on my head I bear a still
deeper scar from a sabre, through which cut my soul almost left me; but
since an honorable man did it I harbor no offence against him." Kmita
removed his cap and showed the king a deep furrow, the white edges of
which were perfectly visible. "I am not ashamed of this wound," said
he, "for it was given me by such a master that there is not another
like him in the Commonwealth."

"Who is such a master?"

"Pan Volodyovski."

"For God's sake! I know him. He did wonders at Zbaraj. And I was at the
wedding of his comrade, Skshetuski, who was the first to bring me news
of the besieged. Those are great cavaliers! And with them was a third,
him the whole army glorified as the greatest of all. A fat noble, and
so amusing that we almost burst our sides from laughter."

"That is Pan Zagloba, I think!" said Kmita; "he is a man not only
brave, but full of wonderful stratagems."

"Do you know what they are doing now?"

"Volodyovski used to lead dragoons with the voevoda of Vilna."

The king frowned. "And is he serving the Swedes now with the prince
voevoda?"

"He! The Swedes? He is with Pan Sapyeha. I saw myself how, after the
treason of the prince, he threw his baton at his feet."

"Oh, he is a worthy soldier!" answered the king. "From Pan Sapyeha we
have had news from Tykotsin, where he is besieging the voevoda. God
give him luck! If all were like him, the Swedish enemy would regret
their undertaking."

Here Tyzenhauz, who had been listening to the conversation, asked
suddenly, "Then were you with Radzivill at Kyedani?"

Kmita was somewhat confused, and began to throw up his hatchet. "I
was," answered he.

"Give peace to your hatchet," said Tyzenhauz. "And what were you doing
at the prince's house?"

"I was a guest," answered Kmita, impatiently, "and I ate his bread,
until I was disgusted with his treason."

"And why did you not go with other honorable soldiers to Pan Sapyeha?"

"Because I had made a vow to go to Chenstohova, which you will more
easily understand when I tell you that our Ostra Brama was occupied by
the Northerners."

Tyzenhauz began to shake his head and smack his lips; this attracted
the attention of the king, so that he looked inquiringly at Kmita. The
latter, made impatient, turned to Tyzenhauz and said,--

"My worthy sir! Why do I not inquire of you where you have been, and
what you have been doing?"

"Ask me," replied Tyzenhauz; "I have nothing to conceal."

"Neither am I before a court; and if I shall ever be, you will not be
my judge. Leave me, then, that I lose not my patience."

When he had said this, he hurled the hatchet so sharply that it grew
small in the height; the king raised his eyes after it, and at that
moment he was thinking of nothing save this, would Babinich catch it in
its fall, or would he not catch it?

Babinich put spurs to his horse, sprang forward, and caught it. That
same evening Tyzenhauz said to the king,--

"Gracious Lord, this noble pleases me less and less."

"But me more and more," answered the king, pursing his lips.

"I heard to-day one of his people call him colonel; he only looked
threateningly, and straightway confused the man. There is something in
that."

"And it seems to me sometimes that he does not wish to tell
everything," added the king; "but that is his affair."

"No, Gracious Lord," exclaimed Tyzenhauz, forcibly, "it is not his
affair, it is our affair, and that of the whole Commonwealth. For if he
is some traitor who is planning the death or captivity of your Royal
Grace, then with your person will perish all those who at this moment
have taken arms; the whole Commonwealth will perish, which you alone
are competent to save."

"I will ask him myself to-morrow."

"God grant that I be a false prophet, but nothing good looks out of his
eyes. He is too smart, too bold, too daring; and such people are ready
for anything."

The king looked troubled. Next morning, when they moved on their
journey, he beckoned Kmita to approach him.

"Where were you, Colonel?" asked the king, suddenly.

A moment of silence followed.

Kmita struggled with himself; the wish was burning him to spring from
his horse, fall at the feet of the king, and throw off the burden he
was bearing,--tell the whole truth at once. But he thought of the
fearful impression which the name Kmita would make, especially after
the letter of Prince Boguslav Radzivill. How could he, who had been the
right hand of Radzivill, who had maintained the preponderance of Prince
Yanush, who had aided him in scattering his disobedient squadrons, who
supported him in treason; how could he, accused and suspected of the
most terrible crime,--an attack on the person of the king,--succeed in
convincing the king, the bishops, and senators, that he had corrected
himself, that he was transformed? With what could he show the sincerity
of his intentions? What proofs could he bring save naked words? His
former offences pursue him unceasingly, unsparingly, as furious dogs a
wild beast in the forest. He determined on silence. But he felt also
unspeakable disgust and hatred of subterfuge. Must he throw dust in the
eyes of the king, whom he loved with all the power of his soul, and
deceive him with fictitious tales?

He felt that strength failed him for this; therefore he said, after a
while: "Gracious King, the time will come, perhaps soon, in which I
shall open my whole soul to your Royal Grace as in confession to a
priest. But I wish deeds to vouch for me, for my sincere intention, for
my loyalty and my love of majesty, not words simply. I have offended
against you, my Gracious Lord, and the country, and I have repented too
little yet; therefore I am seeking service in which I can find
reparation more easily. Besides, who has not offended? Who in the whole
Commonwealth does not need to beat his breast? It may be that I have
offended more grievously than others, but I was the first also to
bethink myself. Do not inquire, Gracious Lord, about anything until the
present service will convince you concerning me; do not ask, for I
cannot answer without closing the road of salvation to myself, for God
is the witness, and the Most Holy Lady, our Queen, that I had no evil
intent, that I am ready to give the last drop of my blood for you."

Here Pan Andrei's eyes grew moist, and such sincerity and sorrow
appeared on his face that his countenance defended him with greater
power than his words.

"God is looking at my intentions," said he, "and will account them to
me at judgment, but, Gracious Lord, if you do not trust me, dismiss me,
remove me from your person. I will follow at a distance, so as to come
in time of difficulty, even without being called, and lay down my life
for you. And then, Gracious Lord, you will believe that I am not a
traitor, but one of that kind of servants of whom you have not many,
even among those who cast suspicion on others."

"I believe you to-day," said the king. "Remain near our person as
before, for treason does not speak in such fashion."

"I thank your Royal Grace," answered Kmita; and reining in his horse
somewhat, he pushed back among the last ranks of the party.

But Tyzenhauz did not limit himself to conveying suspicions to the
king. The result was that all began to look askance at Kmita. Audible
conversation ceased at his approach, and whispers began. Every movement
of his was followed, every word considered. Kmita noticed this, and was
ill at ease among these men.

Even the king, though he did not remove confidence from him, had not
for Pan Andrei such a joyful countenance as before. Therefore the young
hero lost his daring, grew gloomy, sadness and bitterness took
possession of his heart. Formerly in front, among the first, he used to
make his horse prance; now he dragged on many yards behind the
cavalcade, with hanging head and gloomy thoughts.

At last the Carpathians stood white before the travellers. Snow lay on
their slopes, clouds spread their unwieldy bodies on the summits; and
when an evening came clear at sunset, those mountains put on flaming
garments from which marvellously bright gleams went forth till quenched
in the darkness embracing the whole world. Kmita gazed on those wonders
of nature which to that time he had never seen; and though greatly
grieved, he forgot his cares from admiration and wonder.

Each day those giants grew greater, more mighty, till at last the
retinue of the king came to them and entered a pass which opened on a
sudden, like a gate.

"The boundary must be near," said the king, with emotion.

Then they saw a small wagon, drawn by one horse, and in the wagon a
peasant. The king's men stopped him at once.

"Man," said Tyzenhauz, "are we in Poland?"

"Beyond that cliff and that little river is the emperor's boundary, but
you are standing on the king's land."

"Which way is it then to Jivyets?"

"Go straight ahead; you will come to the road." And the mountaineer
whipped his horse.

Tyzenhauz galloped to the retinue standing at a distance.

"Gracious Lord," cried he, with emotion, "you are now _inter regna_,
for at that little river your kingdom begins."

The king said nothing, only made a sign to hold his horse, dismounted,
and throwing himself on his knees, raised his eyes and his hands
upward.

At sight of this, all dismounted and followed his example. That king,
then a wanderer, fell after a moment in the form of a cross on the
snow, and began to kiss that land, so beloved and so thankless, which
in time of disaster had refused refuge to his head.

Silence followed, and only sighs interrupted it.

The evening was frosty, clear; the mountains and the summits of the
neighboring fir-trees were in purple, farther off in the shadow they
had begun to put on violet; but the road on which the king was lying
turned as it were into a ruddy and golden ribbon, and rays fell on the
king, bishops, and dignitaries.

Then a breeze began from the summits, and bearing on its wings sparks
of snow, flew to the valley. Therefore the nearer fir-trees began to
bend their snow-covered heads, bow to their lord, and to make a joyous
and rustling sound, as if they were singing that old song, "Be welcome
to us, thou dear master!"

Darkness had already filled the air when the king's retinue moved
forward. Beyond the defile was spread out a rather roomy plain, the
other end of which was lost in the distance. Light was dying all
around; only in one place the sky was still bright with red. The king
began to repeat _Ave Maria_; after him the others with concentration of
spirit repeated the pious words.

Their native land, unvisited by them for a long time; the mountains
which night was now covering; the dying twilight, the prayer,--all
these caused a solemnity of heart and mind; hence after the prayer the
king, the dignitaries, and the knights rode on in silence. Night fell,
but in the east the sky was shining still more redly.

"Let us go toward that twilight," said the king, at last; "it is a
wonder that it is shining yet."

Then Kmita galloped up. "Gracious Lord, that is a fire!"
cried he.

All halted.

"How is that?" asked the king; "it seems to me that 'tis the twilight."

"A fire, a fire! I am not mistaken!" cried Kmita.

And indeed, of all of the attendants of the king he knew most in that
matter. At last it was no longer possible to doubt, since above that
supposed twilight were rising as it were red clouds, rolling now
brighter, now darker in turn.

"It is as if Jivyets were burning!" cried the king; "maybe the enemy is
ravaging it."

He had not finished speaking when to their ears flew the noise of men,
the snorting of horses, and a number of dark figures appeared before
the retinue.

"Halt, halt!" cried Tyzenhauz.

These figures halted, as if uncertain what to do farther.

"Who are you?" was asked from the retinue.

"Ours!" said a number of voices. "Ours! We are escaping with our lives
from Jivyets. The Swedes are burning Jivyets, and murdering people."

"Stop, in God's name! What do you say? Whence have they come?"

"They were waiting for our king. There is a power of them, a power! May
the Mother of God have the king in Her keeping!"

Tyzenhauz lost his head for a moment. "See what it is to go with a
small party!" cried he to Kmita; "Would that you were killed for such
counsel!"

Yan Kazimir began to inquire himself of the fugitives. "But where is
the king?"

"The king has gone to the mountains with a great army. Two days ago he
passed through Jivyets; they pursued him, and were fighting somewhere
near Suha. We have not heard whether they took him or not; but to-day
they returned to Jivyets, and are burning and murdering."

"Go with God!" said Yan Kazimir.

The fugitives shot past quickly.

"See what would have met us had we gone with the dragoons!" exclaimed
Kmita.

"Gracious King!" said Father Gembitski, "the enemy is before us. What
are we to do?"

All surrounded the monarch, as if wishing to protect him with their
persons from sudden danger. The king gazed on that fire which was
reflected in his eyes, and he was silent; no one advanced an opinion,
so difficult was it to give good advice.

"When I was going out of the country a fire lighted me," said Yan
Kazimir, at last; "and when I enter, another gives light."

Again silence, only still longer than before.

"Who has any advice?" inquired Father Gembitski, at last.

Then the voice of Tyzenhauz was heard, full of bitterness, and insult:
"He who did not hesitate to expose the king's person to danger, who
said that the king should go without a guard, let him now give advice."

At this moment a horseman pushed out of the circle. It was Kmita.

"Very well!" said he. And rising in the stirrups he shouted, turning to
his attendants standing at some distance, "Kyemliches, after me!"

Then he urged his horse to a gallop, and after him shot the three
horsemen with all the breath that was in the breasts of their horses.

A cry of despair came from Tyzenhauz: "That is a conspiracy!" said he.
"These traitors will give us up surely. Gracious King, save yourself
while there is time, for the enemy will soon close the pass! Gracious
King, save yourself! Back! back!"

"Let us return, let us return!" cried the bishops and dignitaries, in
one voice.

Yan Kazimir became impatient, lightnings flashed from his eyes;
suddenly he drew his sword from its sheath and cried,--

"May God not grant me to leave my country a second time. Come what may,
I have had enough of that!" And he put spurs to his horse to move
forward; but the nuncio himself seized the reins.

"Your Royal Grace," said he, seriously, "you bear on your shoulders the
fate of the Catholic Church and the country, therefore you are not free
to expose your person."

"Not free," repeated the bishops.

"I will not return to Silesia, so help me the Holy Cross!" answered Yan
Kazimir.

"Gracious Lord! listen to the prayers of your subjects," said the
castellan of Sandomir. "If you do not wish to return to the emperor's
territory, let us go at least from this place and turn toward the
Hungarian boundary, or let us go back through this pass, so that our
return be not intercepted. There we will wait. In case of an attack by
the enemy, escape on horses will remain to us; but at least let them
not enclose us as in a trap."

"Let it be even so," said the king. "I do not reject prudent counsel,
but I will not go wandering a second time. If we cannot appear by this
road, we will by another. But I think that you are alarmed in vain.
Since the Swedes looked for us among the dragoons, as the people from
Jivyets said, it is clear proof that they know nothing of us, and that
there is no treason or conspiracy. Just consider; you are men of
experience. The Swedes would not have attacked the dragoons, they would
not have fired a gun at them if they know that we were following them.
Be calm, gentlemen! Babinich has gone with his men for news, and he
will return soon of a certainty."

When he had said this the king turned his horse toward the pass; after
him his attendants. They halted on the spot where the first mountaineer
had shown them the boundary.

A quarter of an hour passed, then a half-hour and an hour.

"Have you noticed, gentlemen," asked the voevoda of Lenchytsk on a
sudden, "that the fire is decreasing?"

"It is going out, going out; you can almost see it die," said a number
of voices.

"That is a good sign," said the king.

"I will go ahead with a few men," said Tyzenhauz. "We will halt about a
furlong from here, and if the Swedes come we will detain them till we
die. In every case there will be time to think of the safety of the
king's person."

"Remain with the party; I forbid you to go!" said the king.

To which Tyzenhauz answered,--

"Gracious Lord, give command later to shoot me for disobedience, but
now I will go, for now it is a question of you." And calling upon a
number of soldiers in whom it was possible to trust in every emergency,
he moved forward.

They halted at the other end of the defile which opened into the
valley, and stood in silence, with muskets ready, holding their ears
toward every sound. The silence lasted long; finally the sound of snow
trampled by horses' feet came to them.

"They are coming!" whispered one of the soldiers.

"That is no party; only a few horses are to be heard," answered the
other. "Pan Babinich is returning."

Meanwhile those approaching came in the darkness within a few tens of
yards.

"Who is there?" cried Tyzenhauz.

"Ours! Do not fire there!" sounded the voice of Kmita.

At that moment he appeared before Tyzenhauz, and not knowing him in the
darkness, inquired,--

"But where is the king?"

"At the end of the pass."

"Who is speaking, for I cannot see?"

"Tyzenhauz. But what is that great bundle which you have before you?"
And he pointed to some dark form hanging before Kmita, on the front of
the saddle.

Pan Andrei made no answer, but rode on. When he had reached the king's
escort, he recognized the person of the king, for it was much clearer
beyond the pass, and cried,--

"Gracious Lord, the road is open!"

"Are there no Swedes in Jivyets?"

"They have gone to Vadovitsi. That was a party of German mercenaries.
But here is one of them, Gracious Lord; ask him yourself." And Pan
Andrei pushed to the ground that form which he held before him, so that
a groan was heard in the still night.

"Who is that?" asked the astonished king.

"A horseman!"

"As God is dear to me! And you have brought an informant! How is that?
Tell me."

"Gracious Lord; when a wolf prowls in the night around a flock of sheep
it is easy for him to seize one; and besides, to tell the truth, this
is not the first time with me."

The king raised his hands. "But this Babinich is a soldier, may the
bullets strike him! I see that with such servants I can go even in the
midst of Swedes."

Meanwhile all gathered around the horseman, who did not rise from the
ground however.

"Ask him, Gracious Lord," said Kmita, not without a certain
boastfulness in his voice; "though I do not know whether he will
answer, for he is throttled a little and there is nothing here to burn
him with."

"Pour some gorailka into his throat," said the king.

And indeed that medicine helped more than burning, for the horseman
soon recovered strength and voice. Then Kmita, putting a sword-point to
his throat, commanded him to tell the whole truth.

The prisoner confessed that he belonged to the regiment of Colonel
Irlehorn, that they had intelligence of the passage of the king with
dragoons, therefore they fell upon them near Suha, but meeting firm
resistance they had to withdraw to Jivyets, whence they marched on to
Vadovitsi and Cracow, for such were their orders.

"Are there other divisions of the Swedes in the mountains?" asked Kmita
in German, while squeezing the throat of the horseman somewhat more
vigorously.

"Maybe there are some," answered he in a broken voice. "General Douglas
sent scouting-parties around, but they are all withdrawing, for the
peasants are attacking them in passes."

"Were you the only ones in the neighborhood of Jivyets?"

"The only ones."

"Do you know that the King of Poland has passed?"

"He passed with those dragoons who fought with us at Suha. Many saw
him."

"Why did you not pursue him?"

"We were afraid of the mountaineers."

Here Kmita began again in Polish: "Gracious Lord, the road is open and
you will find a night's lodging in Jivyets, for only a part of the
place is burned."

But unconfiding Tyzenhauz was speaking at this time with the castellan
of Voinik, and said: "Either that is a great warrior and true as gold,
or a finished traitor. Consider, your worthiness, that all this may be
simulated, from the taking of this horseman to his confederates. And if
this is a trick,--if the Swedes are in ambush in Jivyets,--if the king
goes and falls as into a net?"

"It is safer to convince one's self," answered the castellan of Voinik.

Then Tyzenhauz turned to the king and said aloud: "Gracious Lord,
permit me to go ahead to Jivyets and convince myself that what this
cavalier says and what this trooper declares is true."

"Let it be so! Permit them to go, Gracious Lord," said Kmita.

"Go," said the king; "but we will move forward a little, for it is
cold."

Tyzenhauz rushed on at all speed, and the escort of the king began to
move after him slowly. The king regained his good humor and
cheerfulness, and after a while said to Kmita,--

"But with you it is possible to hunt Swedes as birds with a falcon, for
you strike from above."

"That is my fashion," said Kmita. "Whenever your Royal Grace wishes to
hunt, the falcon will always be ready."

"Tell how you caught him."

"That is not difficult. When a regiment marches there are always a few
men who lag in the rear, and I got this one about half a furlong
behind. I rode up to him; he thought that I was one of his own people,
he was not on his guard, and before he could think I had seized and
gagged him so that he could not shout."

"You said that this was not your first time. Have you then practised
somewhere before?"

Kmita laughed. "Oh, Gracious Lord, I have, and that of the best. Let
your Royal Grace but give the order and I will go again, overtake them,
for their horses are road-weary, take another man, and order my
Kyemliches to take also."

They advanced some time in silence; then the tramp of a horse was
heard, and Tyzenhauz flew up. "Gracious King," said he, "the road is
free, and lodgings are ready."

"But did not I say so?" cried Yan Kazimir. "You, gentlemen, had no need
to be anxious. Let us ride on now, let us ride, for we have earned our
rest."

All advanced at a trot, briskly, joyously; and an hour later the
wearied king was sleeping a sleep without care on his own territory.

That evening Tyzenhauz approached Kmita. "Forgive me," said he; "out of
love for the king I brought you under suspicion."

Kmita refused his hand and said: "Oh, that cannot be! You made me a
traitor and a betrayer."

"I would have done more, for I would have shot you in the head; but
since I have convinced myself that you are an honest man and love the
king, I stretch out my hand to you. If you wish, take it; if not, take
it not. I would prefer to have no rivalry with you save that of
attachment to the king; but I am not afraid of other rivalry."

"Is that your thought? H'm! perhaps you are right, but I am angry with
you."

"Well, stop being angry. You are a strong soldier. But give us your
lips, so that we may not lie down to sleep in hatred."

"Let it be so!" said Kmita.

And they fell into each other's arms.



                               CHAPTER X.


The king's party arrived at Jivyets late in the evening, and paid
almost no attention to the place, which was terrified by the recent
attack of the Swedish detachment. The king did not go to the castle,
which had been ravaged by the enemy and burned in part, but stopped at
the priest's house. Kmita spread the news that the party was escorting
the ambassador of the emperor, who was going from Silesia to Cracow.

Next morning they held on toward Vadovitsi, and then turned
considerably to one side toward Suha. From this place they were to pass
through Kjechoni to Yordanovo, thence to Novy Targ, and if it appeared
that there were no Swedish parties near Chorshtyn to go to Chorshtyn;
if there were, they were to turn toward Hungary and advance on
Hungarian soil to Lyubovlya. The king hoped, too, that the marshal of
the kingdom, who disposed of forces so considerable that no reigning
prince had so many, would make the road safe and hasten forth to meet
his sovereign. Only this could prevent, that the marshal knew not which
road the king would take; but among the mountaineers there was no lack
of trusty men ready to bear word to the marshal. There was no need even
of confiding the secret to them, for they went willingly when told that
it was a question of serving the king. These people, though poor and
half wild, tilling little or not at all an ungrateful soil, living by
their herds, pious, and hating heretics, were, in truth, given heart
and soul to the sovereign. They were the first to seize their axes and
move from the mountains when news of the taking of Cracow spread
through the country, and especially when news came of the siege of
Chenstohova, to which pious women were accustomed to go on pilgrimages.
General Douglas, a well-known warrior, furnished with cannon and
muskets, scattered them, it is true, on the plains, to which they were
not accustomed; but the Swedes only with the greatest caution entered
their special districts, in which it was not easy to reach them, and
easy to suffer disaster,--so that some smaller divisions, having
needlessly entered this labyrinth of mountains, were lost.

And now news of the king's passage with an army had already done its
own, for all had sprung up as one man to defend him and accompany him
with their axes, even to the end of the world. Yan Kazimir might, if he
had only disclosed who he was, have surrounded himself in a short time
with thousands of half-wild "householders;" but he thought justly that
in such an event the news would be carried about everywhere by all the
whirlwinds through the whole region, and that the Swedes might send out
numerous troops to meet him, therefore he chose to travel unknown even
to the mountaineers.

But in all places trusty guides were found, to whom it was enough to
say that they were conducting bishops and lords who desired to preserve
themselves from Swedish hands. They were led, therefore, among snows,
cliffs, and whirlwinds, and over places so inaccessible that you would
have said: "A bird cannot fly through them."

More than once the king and the dignitaries had clouds below them, and
when there were not clouds their glances passed over a shoreless
expanse, covered with white snows, an expanse seemingly as wide as the
whole country was wide; more than once they entered mountain throats,
almost dark, covered with snow, in which perhaps only a wild beast
might have its lair. But they avoided places accessible to the enemy,
shortening the road; and it happened that a settlement, at which they
expected to arrive in half a day, appeared suddenly under their feet,
and in it they awaited rest and hospitality, though in a smoky hut and
a sooty room.

The king was in continual good humor; he gave courage to others to
endure the excessive toil, and he guaranteed that by such roads they
would surely reach Lyubovlya as safely as unexpectedly.

"The marshal does not expect that we shall fall on his shoulders!"
repeated the king, frequently.

"What was the return of Xenophon to our journey among the clouds?"
asked the nuncio.

"The higher we rise, the lower will Swedish fortune fall," answered the
king.

They arrived at Novy Targ. It seemed that all danger was passed; still
the mountaineers declared that Swedish troops were moving about near
Chorshtyn and in the neighborhood. The king supposed that they might be
the marshal's German cavalry, of which he had two regiments, or they
might be his own dragoons sent in advance and mistaken for the enemy's
scouts. Since in Chorshtyn the bishop of Cracow had a garrison,
opinions were divided in the royal party. Some wished to go by the road
to Chorshtyn, and then pass along the boundary to Spij; others advised
to turn straight to Hungary, which came up in wedge-form to Novy Targ,
and go over heights and through passes, taking guides everywhere who
knew the most dangerous places.

This last opinion prevailed, for in that way meeting with the Swedes
became almost impossible; and besides this "eagle" road over the
precipices and through the clouds gave pleasure to the king.

They passed then from Novy Targ somewhat to the south and west, on the
right hand of the Byaly Dunayets. The road at first lay through a
region rather open and spacious, but as they advanced the mountains
began to run together and the valleys to contract. They went along
roads over which horses could barely advance. At times the riders had
to dismount and lead; and more than once the beasts resisted, pointing
their ears and stretching their distended and steaming nostrils forward
toward precipices, from the depths of which death seemed to gaze
upward.

The mountaineers, accustomed to precipices, frequently considered roads
good on which the heads of unaccustomed men turned and their ears rang.
At last they entered a kind of rocky chasm long, straight, and so
narrow that three men could barely ride abreast in it. Two cliffs
bounded it on the right side and the left. At places however the edges
inclined, forming slopes less steep, covered with piles of snow
bordered on the edges with dark pine-trees. Winds blew away the snow
immediately from the bottom of the pass, and the hoofs of horses
gritted everywhere on a stony road. But at that moment the wind was not
blowing, and such silence reigned that there was a ringing in the ears.
Above where between the woody edges a blue belt of sky was visible,
black flocks of birds flew past from time to time, shaking their wings
and screaming.

The king's party halted for rest. Clouds of steam rose from the horses,
and the men too were tired.

"Is this Poland or Hungary?" inquired, after a time, the king of a
guide.

"This is Poland."

"But why do we not turn directly to Hungary?"

"Because it is impossible. At some distance this pass turns, beyond the
turn is a cliff, beyond that we come out on the high-road, turn, then
go through one more pass, and there the Hungarian country begins."

"Then I see it would have been better to go by the highway at first,"
said the king.

"Quiet!" cried the mountaineer, quickly. And springing to the cliff he
put his ear to it.

All fixed their eyes on him; his face changed in a moment, and he said:
"Beyond the turn troops are coming from the water-fall! For God's sake!
Are they not Swedes?"

"Where? How? What?" men began to ask on every side. "We hear nothing."

"No, for snow is lying on the sides. By God's wounds, they are near!
they will be here straightway!"

"Maybe they are the marshal's troops," said the king.

In one moment Kmita urged his horse forward. "I will go and see!" said
he.

The Kyemliches moved that instant after him, like hunting-dogs in a
chase; but barely had they stirred from their places when the turn of
the pass, about a hundred yards distant, was made black by men and
horses. Kmita looked at them, and the soul quivered within him from
terror.

Swedes were advancing.

They were so near that it was impossible to retreat, especially since
the king's party had wearied horses. It only remained to break through,
to perish, or to go into captivity. The unterrified king understood
this in a flash; therefore he seized the hilt of his sword.

"Cover the king and retreat!" cried Kmita.

Tyzenhauz with twenty men pushed forward in the twinkle of an eye; but
Kmita instead of joining them moved on at a sharp trot against the
Swedes.

He wore the Swedish dress, the same in which he disguised himself when
going out from the cloister. Seeing a horseman coming toward them in
such a dress, the Swedes thought perhaps this was some party of their
own belonging to the King of Sweden; they did not hasten their pace,
but the captain commanding pushed out beyond the first three.

"What people are you?" asked he in Swedish, looking at the threatening
and pale face of the young man approaching.

Kmita rode up to him so closely that their knees almost touched, and
without speaking a word fired from a pistol directly into his ear.

A shout of terror was rent from the breasts of the Swedish cavalry; but
still louder thundered the voice of Pan Andrei, "Strike!"

And like a rock torn from a cliff rolling down, crushing everything in
its course, so did he fall on the first rank, bearing death and
destruction. The two young Kyemliches, like two bears, sprang after him
into the whirl. The clatter of sabres on mail and helmets was heard,
like the sound of hammers, and was followed straightway by outcries and
groans.

It seemed at the first moment to the astonished Swedes that three
giants had fallen upon them in that wild mountain pass. The first three
pushed back confused in the presence of the terrible man, and when the
succeeding ones had extricated themselves from behind the bend of the
pass, those in the rear were thrown back and confused. The horses fell
to biting and kicking. The soldiers in the remoter ranks were not able
to shoot, nor come to the assistance of those in front, who perished
without aid under the blows of the three giants. In vain did they fall,
in vain did they present their weapon points; here sabres were
breaking, there men and horses fell. Kmita urged his horse till his
hoofs were hanging above the heads of the steeds of his opponents, he
was raging himself, cutting and thrusting. The blood rushed to his
face, and from his eyes fire flashed. All thoughts were quenched in him
save one,--he might perish, but he must detain the Swedes. That thought
turned in him to a species of wild ecstasy; therefore his powers were
trebled, his movements became like those of a leopard, mad, and swift
as lightning. With blows of his sabre, which were blows beyond human,
he crushed men as a thunderbolt crushes young trees; the twin
Kyemliches followed, and the old man, standing a trifle in the rear,
thrust his rapier out every moment between his sons, as a serpent
thrusts out its bloody tongue.

Meanwhile around the king there rose confusion. The nuncio, as at
Jivyets, seized the reins of his horse, and on the other side the
bishop of Cracow pulled back the steed with all his force; but the king
spurred him till he stood on his hind legs.

"Let me go!" cried the king. "As God lives! We shall pass through the
enemy!"

"My Lord, think of the country!" cried the bishop of Cracow.

The king was unable to tear himself from their hands, especially since
young Tyzenhauz with all his men closed the road. Tyzenhauz did not go
to help Kmita; he sacrificed him, he wanted only to save the king.

"By the passion of our Lord!" cried he, in despair, "those men will
perish immediately! Gracious Lord, save yourself while there is time! I
will hold them here yet awhile!"

But the stubbornness of the king when once roused reckoned with nothing
and no man. Yan Kazimir spurred his horse still more violently, and
instead of retreating pushed forward.

But time passed, and each moment might bring with it final destruction.

"I will die on my own soil! Let me go!" cried the king.

Fortunately, against Kmita and the Kyemliches, by reason of the
narrowness of the pass, only a small number of men could act at once,
consequently they were able to hold out long. But gradually even their
powers began to be exhausted. A number of times the rapiers of the
Swedes had struck Kmita's body, and his blood began to flow. His eyes
were veiled as it were by a mist. The breath halted in his breast. He
felt the approach of death; therefore he wanted only to sell his life
dearly. "Even one more!" repeated he to himself, and he sent down his
steel blade on the head or the shoulder of the nearest horseman, and
again he turned to another; but evidently the Swedes felt ashamed,
after the first moment of confusion and fear, that four men were able
to detain them so long, and they crowded forward with fury; soon the
very weight of men and horses drove back the four men, and each moment
more swiftly and strongly.

With that Kmita's horse fell, and the torrent covered the rider.

The Kyemliches struggled still for a time, like swimmers who seeing
that they are drowning make efforts to keep their heads above the whirl
of the sea, but soon they also fell. Then the Swedes moved on like a
whirlwind toward the party of the king.

Tyzenhauz with his men sprang against them, and struck them in such
fashion that the sound was heard through the mountains.

But what could that handful of men, led by Tyzenhauz, do against a
detachment of nearly three hundred strong?

There was no doubt that for the king and his party the fatal hour of
death or captivity must come.

Yan Kazimir, preferring evidently the first to the second, freed
finally the reins from the hands of the bishops, and pushed forward
quickly toward Tyzenhauz. In an instant he halted as if fixed to the
earth.

Something uncommon had happened. To spectators it seemed as though the
mountains themselves were coming to the aid of the rightful king.

Behold on a sudden the edges of the pass quivered as if the earth were
moving from its foundations, as if the pines on the mountain desired to
take part in the battle; and logs of wood, blocks of snow and ice,
stones, fragments of cliff's, began to roll down with a terrible crash
and roar on the ranks of the Swedes crowded in the pass. At the same
time an unearthly howl was heard on each side of the narrow place.

Below in the ranks began seething which passed human belief. It seemed
to the Swedes that the mountains were falling and covering them. Shouts
rose, the lamentations of crushed men, despairing cries for assistance,
the whining of horses, the bite and terrible sound of fragments of
cliffs on armor.

At last men and horses formed one mass quivering convulsively, crushed,
groaning, despairing, and dreadful. But the stones and pieces of
cliff's ground them continually, rolling without mercy on the now
formless masses, the bodies of horses and men.

"The mountaineers! the mountaineers!" shouted men in the retinue of the
king.

"With axes at the dog-brothers!" called voices from the mountain.

And that very moment from both rocky edges appeared long-haired heads,
covered with round fur caps, and after them came out bodies, and
several hundred strange forms began to let themselves down on the
slopes of the snow.

Dark and white rags floating above their shoulders gave them the
appearance of some kind of awful birds of prey. They pushed down in the
twinkle of an eye; the sound of their axes emphasized their wild
ominous shouting and the groans of the Swedes.

The king himself tried to restrain the slaughter; some horsemen, still
living, threw themselves on their knees, and raising their defenceless
hands, begged for their lives. Nothing availed, nothing could stay the
vengeful axes. A quarter of an hour later there was not one man living
among the Swedes in the pass.

After that the bloody mountaineers began to hurry toward the escort of
the king.

The nuncio looked with astonishment on those people, strange to him,
large, sturdy, covered partly with sheepskin, sprinkled with blood, and
shaking their still steaming axes.

But at sight of the bishops they uncovered their heads. Many of them
fell on their knees in the snow.

The bishop of Cracow raising his tearful face toward heaven said,
"Behold the assistance of God, behold Providence, which watches over
the majesty of the king." Then turning to the mountaineers, he asked,
"Men, who are you?"

"We are of this place," answered voices from the crowd.

"Do you know whom you have come to assist? This is your king and your
lord, whom you have saved."

At these words a shout rose in the crowd. "The king! the king! Jesus,
Mary! the king!" And the joyful mountaineers began to throng and crowd
around Yan Kazimir. With weeping they fell to him from every side; with
weeping, they kissed his feet, his stirrups, even the hoofs of his
horse. Such excitement reigned, such shouting, such weeping that the
bishops from fear for the king's person were forced to restrain the
excessive enthusiasm.

And the king was in the midst of a faithful people, like a shepherd
among sheep, and great tears were flowing down his face. Then his
countenance became bright, as if some sudden change had taken place in
his soul, as if a new, great thought from heaven by birth had flashed
into his mind, and he indicated with his hand that he wished to speak;
and when there was silence he said with a voice so loud that the whole
multitude heard him,--

"O God, Thou who hast saved me by the hands of simple people, I swear
by the suffering and death of Thy Son to be a father to them from this
moment forward."

"Amen!" responded the bishops.

For a certain time a solemn silence reigned, then a new burst of joy.
They inquired of the mountaineers whence they had come into the passes,
and in what way they had appeared to rescue the king. It turned out
that considerable parties of Swedes had been wandering about Chorshtyn,
and, not capturing the castle itself, they seemed to seek some one and
to wait. The mountaineers too had heard of a battle which those parties
had delivered against troops among whom it was said that the king
himself was advancing. Then they determined to push the Swedes into an
ambush, and sending to them deceitful guides, they lured them into the
pass.

"We saw," said the mountaineers, "how those four horsemen attacked
those dogs; we wanted to assist the four horsemen, but were afraid to
fall upon the dog-brothers too soon!"

Here the king seized his head. "Mother of Thy only Son!" cried he,
"find Babinich for me! Let us give him at least a funeral! And he is
the man who was considered a traitor, the one who first shed his own
blood for us."

"It was I who accused him. Gracious Lord!" said Tyzenhauz.

"Find him, find him!" cried the king. "I will not leave here till I
look upon his face and put my blessing on him."

The soldiers and the mountaineers sprang to the place of the first
struggle, and soon they removed from the pile of dead horses and men
Pan Andrei. His face was pale, all bespattered with blood, which was
hanging in large stiffened drops on his mustaches; his eyes were
closed; his armor was bent from the blows of swords and horses' hoofs.
But that armor had saved him from being crushed, and to the soldier who
raised him it seemed as though he heard a low groan.

"As God is true, he is alive!" cried he.

"Remove his armor," called others.

They cut the straps quickly. Kmita breathed more deeply.

"He is breathing, he is breathing! He is alive!" repeated a number of
voices.

But he lay a certain time motionless; then he opened his eyes. At that
time one of the soldiers poured a little gorailka into his mouth;
others raised him by the armpits.

Now the king, to whose hearing the cry repeated by several voices had
come, rode up in haste. The soldiers drew into his presence Pan Andrei,
who was hanging on them and slipping from their hands to the ground.
Still, at sight of the king consciousness returned to him for a moment,
a smile almost childlike lighted his face, and his pale lips whispered
clearly,--

"My lord, my king, is alive--is free." And tears shone on his
eyelashes.

"Babinich, Babinich! with what can I reward you?" cried the king.

"I am not Babinich; I am Kmita!" whispered the knight.

When he had said this he hung like a corpse in the arms of the
soldiers.



                              CHAPTER XI.


Since the mountaineers gave sure information that on the road to
Chorshtyn there was nothing to be heard of other Swedish parties, the
retinue of the king turned toward the castle, and soon found themselves
on the highway, along which the journey was easiest and least tiresome.
They rode on amid songs of the mountaineers and shouts, "The king is
coming! The king is coming!" and along the road new crowds of men
joined them, armed with flails, scythes, forks, and guns, so that Yan
Kazimir was soon at the head of a considerable division of men, not
trained, it is true, but ready at any moment to go with him even to
Cracow and spill their blood for their sovereign. Near Chorshtyn more
than a thousand "householders" and half-wild shepherds surrounded the
king.

Then nobles from Novy Sanch and Stary Sanch began to come in. They said
that a Polish regiment, under command of Voynillovich, had defeated,
that morning, just before the town of Novy Sanch, a considerable
detachment of Swedes, of which almost all the men were either slain, or
drowned in the Kamyenna or Dunayets.

This turned out to be really the fact, when soon after on the road
banners began to gleam, and Voynillovich himself came up with the
regiment of the voevoda of Bratslav.

The king greeted with joy a celebrated and to him well-known knight,
and amidst the universal enthusiasm of the people and the army, he rode
on toward Spij. Meanwhile men on horseback rushed with all breath to
forewarn the marshal that the king was approaching, and to be ready to
receive him.

Joyous and noisy was the continuation of the journey. New crowds were
added continually. The nuncio, who had left Silesia filled with fear
for the king's fate and his own, and for whom the beginning of the
journey had increased this fear, was beside himself now with delight,
for he was certain that the future would surely bring victory to the
king, and besides to the church over heretics. The bishops shared his
joy; the lay dignitaries asserted that the whole people, from the
Carpathians to the Baltic, would grasp their weapons as these crowds
had done. Voynillovich stated that for the greater part this had taken
place already. And he told what was to be heard in the country, what a
terror had fallen upon the Swedes, how they dared go no longer outside
fortifications in small numbers, how they were leaving the smaller
castles, which they burned, and taking refuge in the strongest.

"The Polish troops are beating their breasts with one hand, and are
beginning to beat the Swedes with the other," said he. "Vilchkovski,
who commands the hussar regiment of your Royal Grace, has already
thanked the Swedes for their service, and that in such fashion that he
fell upon them at Zakjevo, under the command of Colonel Altenberg, and
slew a large number,--destroyed almost all. I, with the assistance of
God, drove them out of Novy Sanch, and God gave a noted victory. I do
not know whether one escaped alive. Pan Felitsyan Kohovski with the
infantry of Navoi helped me greatly, and so they received pay for those
dragoons at least whom they attacked two or three days ago."

"What dragoons?" asked the king.

"Those whom your Royal Grace sent ahead from Silesia. The Swedes fell
on these suddenly, and though not able to disperse them, for they
defended themselves desperately, they inflicted considerable loss. And
we were almost dying of despair, for we thought that your Royal Grace
was among those men in your own person, and we feared lest some evil
might happen to majesty. God inspired your Royal Grace to send the
dragoons ahead. The Swedes heard of it at once, and occupied the roads
everywhere."

"Do you hear, Tyzenhauz?" asked the king. "An experienced soldier is
talking."

"I hear, Gracious Lord," answered the young magnate.

"And what further, what further? Tell on!" said the king, turning to
Voynillovich.

"What I know I shall surely not hide. Jegotski and Kulesha are active
in Great Poland; Varshytski has driven Lindorm from the castle of
Pilets; Dankoff is defending itself; Lantskoron is in our hands; and in
Podlyasye, Sapyeha is gaining every day at Tykotsin. The Swedes are in
greater straits in the castle, and with them is failing the prince
voevoda of Vilna. As to the hetmans, they have moved already from
Sandomir to Lyubelsk, showing clearly that they are breaking with the
enemy. The voevoda of Chernigov is with them, and from the region about
is marching to them every living man who can hold a sabre in his hand.
They say, too, that there is some kind of federation to be formed there
against the Swedes, in which is the hand of Sapyeha as well as that of
Stefan Charnyetski."

"Is Charnyetski now in Lyubelsk?"

"He is, your Royal Grace. But he is here to-day and there to-morrow. I
have to join him, but where to find him I know not."

"There will be noise around him," said the king; "you will not need to
inquire."

"So I think too," answered Voynillovich.

In such conversation was the road passed. Meanwhile the sky had grown
perfectly clear, so that the azure was unspotted by even a small cloud.
The snow was glittering in the sunlight. The mountains of Spij were
extended gloriously and joyously before the travellers, and Nature
itself seemed to smile on the king.

"Dear country!" said Yan Kazimir, "God grant me strength to bring thee
peace before my bones rest in thy earth."

They rode out on a lofty eminence, from which the view was open and
wide, for beyond, at the foot of it, was spread a broad plain. There
they saw below, and at a great distance as it were, the movement of a
human ant-hill.

"The troops of the marshal!" cried Voynillovich.

"Unless they are Swedes," said the king.

"No, Gracious Lord! The Swedes could not march from Hungary, from the
south. I see now the hussar flag."

In fact a forest of spears soon pushed out in the blue distance, and
colored streamers were quivering like flowers moved by the wind; above
these flags spear-points were glittering like little flames. The sun
played on the armor and helmets.

The throngs of people accompanying the king gave forth a joyous shout,
which was heard at a distance, for the mass of horses, riders, flags,
horse-tail standards, and ensigns began to move more quickly. Evidently
they were moving with all speed, for the regiments became each moment
more definite, and increased in the eye with incomprehensible rapidity.

"Let us stay on this height. We will await the marshal here," said the
king.

The retinue halted; the men coming toward them moved still more
rapidly. At moments they were concealed from the eye by turns of the
road, or small hills and cliffs, scattered along the plain; but soon
they appeared again, like a serpent with a skin of splendid colors
playing most beautifully. At last they came within a quarter of a mile
of the height, and slackened their speed. The eye could take them in
perfectly, and gain pleasure from them. First advanced the hussar
squadron of the marshal himself, well armored, and so imposing that any
king might be proud of such troops. Only nobles of the mountains served
in this squadron, chosen men of equal size; their armor was of bright
squares inlaid with bronze, gorgets with the image of the Most Holy
Lady of Chenstohova, round helmets with steel rims, crests on the top,
and at the side wings of eagles and vultures, on their shoulders tiger
and leopard skins, but on the officers wolf skins, according to custom.

A forest of green and black streamers waved above them. In front rode
Lieutenant Victor; after him a janissary band with bells, trumpets,
drums, and pipes; then a wall of the breasts of horses and men clothed
in iron.

The king's heart opened at that lordly sight. Next to the hussars came
a light regiment still more numerous, with drawn sabres in their hands
and bows at their shoulders; then three companies of Cossacks, in
colors like blooming poppies, armed with spears and muskets; next two
hundred dragoons in red jackets; then escorts belonging to different
personages visiting at Lyubovlya, attendants dressed as if for a
wedding, guards, haiduks, grooms, Hungarians, and janissaries, attached
to the service of great lords.

And all that changed in colors like a rainbow, and came on
tumultuously, noisily, amid the neighing of horses, the clatter of
armor, the thunder of kettle-drums, the roll of other drums, the blare
of trumpets, and cries so loud that it seemed as though the snows would
rush down from the mountains because of them. In the rear of the troops
were to be seen closed and open carriages, in which evidently were
riding dignitaries of the church and the world.

The troops took position in two lines along the road, and between them
appeared, on a horse white as milk, the marshal of the kingdom, Pan
Yerzy Lyubomirski. He flew on like a whirlwind over that road, and
behind him raced two equerries, glittering in gold. When he had ridden
to the foot of the eminence, he sprang from his horse, and throwing the
reins to one of the equerries, went on foot to the king standing above.

He removed his cap, and placing it on the hilt of his sabre, advanced
with uncovered head, leaning on a staff all set with pearls. He was
dressed in Polish fashion, in military costume; on his breast was armor
of silver plates thickly inlaid at the edges with precious stones, and
so polished that he seemed to be bearing the sun on his bosom; over his
left shoulder was hanging a cloak of Venetian velvet of dark color,
passing into violet purple; it was fastened at the throat by a cord
with a buckle of diamonds, and the whole cloak was embroidered with
diamonds; in like manner a diamond was trembling in his cap, and these
stones glittered like many-colored sparks around his whole person, and
dazzled the eyes, such was the brightness which came from them.

He was a man in the vigor of life, of splendid form. His head was
shaven around the temples; his forelock was rather thin, growing gray,
and lay on his forehead in a shaggy tuft; his mustache, as black as the
wing of a crow, drooped in fine points at both sides. His lofty
forehead and Roman nose added to the beauty of his face, but the face
was marred somewhat by cheeks that were too plump, and small eyes
encircled with red lids. Great dignity, but also unparalleled pride and
vanity were depicted on that face. You might easily divine that that
magnate wished to turn to himself eternally the eyes of the whole
Commonwealth, nay, of all Europe; and such was the case in reality.

Where Yerzy Lyubomirski could not hold the first place, where he could
only share glory and merit with others, his wounded pride was ready to
bar the way and corrupt and crush every endeavor, even when it was a
question of saving the country.

He was an adroit and fortunate leader, but even in this respect others
surpassed him immeasurably; and in general his abilities, though
uncommon, were not equal to his ambition and desire of distinction.
Endless unrest therefore was boiling in his soul, whence was born that
suspiciousness, that envy, which later on carried him so far that he
became more destructive to the Commonwealth than the terrible Yanush
Radzivill. The black soul which dwelt in Prince Yanush was great also;
it stopped before no man and no thing. Yanush wanted a crown, and he
went toward it consciously over graves and the ruin of his country.
Lyubomirski would have taken a crown if the hands of the nobles had
placed it on his head; but having a smaller soul, he dared not desire
the crown openly and expressly. Radzivill was one of those men whom
failure casts down to the level of criminals, and success elevates to
the greatness of demigods; Lyubomirski was a mighty disturber who was
always ready to ruin work for the salvation of the country, in the name
of his own offended pride, and to build up nothing in place of it. He
did not even dare to raise himself, he did not know how. Radzivill died
the more guilty, Lyubomirski the more harmful man.

But at that hour, when in gold, velvet, and precious stones he stood in
front of the king, his pride was sufficiently satisfied. For he was the
first magnate to receive his own king on his own land; he first took
him under a species of guardianship, he had to conduct him to a throne
which had been overturned, and to drive out the enemy; from him the
king and the country expected everything; on him all eyes were turned.
Therefore to show loyalty and service coincided with his self-love, in
fact flattered it, he was ready in truth for sacrifices and devotion,
he was ready to exceed the measure even with expressions of respect and
loyalty. When therefore he had ascended one half of that eminence on
which the king was standing, he took his cap from the sword-hilt and
began, while bowing, to sweep the snow with its diamond plume.

The king urged his horse somewhat toward the descent, then halted to
dismount, for the greeting. Seeing this, the marshal sprang forward to
hold the stirrup with his worthy hands, and at that moment grasping
after his cloak, he drew it from his shoulders, and following the
example of a certain English courtier, threw it under the feet of the
monarch.

The king, touched to the heart, opened his arms to the marshal, and
seized him like a brother in his embrace. For a while neither was able
to speak; but at that exalted spectacle the army, the nobles, the
people, roared in one voice, and thousands of caps flew into the air,
all the guns, muskets, and blunderbusses sounded, cannon from Lyubovlya
answered in a distant bass, till the mountains trembled; all the echoes
were roused and began to course around, striking the dark walls of pine
woods, the cliffs and rocks, and flew with the news to remoter
mountains and cliffs.

"Lord Marshal," said the king, "we will thank you for the restoration
of the kingdom!"

"Gracious Lord!" answered Lyubomirski, "my fortune, my life, my blood,
all I have I place at the feet of your Royal Grace."

"Vivat! vivat Yoannes Casimirus Rex!" thundered the shouts.

"May the king live! our father!" cried the mountaineers.

Meanwhile the gentlemen who were riding with the king surrounded the
marshal; but he did not leave the royal person. After the first
greetings the king mounted his horse again; but the marshal, not
wishing to recognize bounds to his hospitality and honor to his guest,
seized the bridle, and going himself on foot, led the king through the
lines of the army amid deafening shouts, till they came to a gilded
carriage drawn by eight dapple-gray horses; in this carriage Yan
Kazimir took his seat, together with Vidon, the nuncio of the Pope.

The bishops and dignitaries took seats in succeeding carriages, then
they moved on slowly to Lyubovlya. The marshal rode at the window of
the king's carriage, splendid, self-satisfied, as if he were already
proclaimed father of the country. At both sides went a dense army,
singing songs, thundering out in the following words:--


                 "Cut the Swedes, cut,
                  With sharpened swords.

                 "Beat the Swedes, beat,
                  With strong sticks.

                 "Roll the Swedes, roll,
                  Empale them on stakes.

                 "Torment the Swedes, torment,
                  And torture them as you can.

                 "Pound the Swedes, pound,
                  Pull them out of their skins.

                 "Cut the Swedes, cut,
                  Then there will be fewer.

                 "Drown the Swedes, drown,
                  If you are a good man!"


Unfortunately amidst the universal rejoicing and enthusiasm no one
foresaw that later the same troops of Lyubomirski, after they had
rebelled against their legal lord and king, would sing the same song,
putting the French in place of the Swedes.

But now it was far from such a state. In Lyubovlya the cannon were
thundering in greeting till the towers and battlements were covered
with smoke, the bells were tolling as at a fire. At the part of the
courtyard in which the king descended from the carriage, the porch and
the steps were covered with scarlet cloth. In vases brought from Italy
were burning perfumes of the East. The greater part of the treasures of
the Lyubomirskis,--cabinets of gold and silver, carpets, mats, gobelin
tapestry, woven wonderfully by Flemish hands, statues, clocks,
cupboards, ornamented with precious stones, cabinets inlaid with
mother-of-pearl and amber brought previously to Lyubovlya to preserve
them from Swedish rapacity, were now arranged and hung up in display;
they dazzled the eye and changed that castle into a kind of fairy
residence. And the marshal had arranged all this luxury, worthy of a
Sultan, in this fashion of purpose to show the king that though he was
returning as an exile, without money, without troops, having scarcely a
change of clothing, still he was a mighty lord, since he had servants
so powerful, and as faithful as powerful. The king understood this
intention, and his heart rose in gratitude; every moment therefore he
took the marshal by the shoulder, pressed his head and thanked him. The
nuncio, though accustomed to luxury, expressed his astonishment at what
he beheld, and they heard him say to Count Apotyngen that hitherto he
had had  no idea of the power of the King of Poland, and now saw that
the previous defeats were merely a temporary reverse of fortune, which
soon must be changed.

At the feast, which followed a rest, the king sat on an elevation, and
the marshal himself served him, permitting no one to take his place. At
the right of the king sat the nuncio, at his left the prince primate,
Leshchynski, farther on both sides dignitaries, lay and clerical, such
as the bishops of Cracow, Poznan, Lvoff, Lutsk, Premysl, Helm; the
archdeacon of Cracow; farther on keepers of the royal seal and
voevodas, of whom eight had assembled, and castellans and
referendaries; of officers, there were sitting at the feast
Voynillovich, Viktor, Stabkovski, and Baldwin Shurski.

In another hall a table was set for inferior nobles, and there were
large barracks for peasants, for all had to be joyful on the day of the
king's coming.

At the tables there was no other conversation but touching the royal
return, and the terrible adventures which had met them on the road, in
which the hand of God had preserved the king. Yan Kazimir himself
described the battle in the pass, and praised the cavalier who had held
back the first Swedish onset.

"And how is he?" asked he of the marshal.

"The physician does not leave him, and guarantees his life; and
besides, maidens and ladies in waiting have taken him in care, and
surely they will not let the soul go from the body, for the body is
shapely and young!" answered the marshal, joyously.

"Praise be to God!" cried the king. "I heard from his lips something
which I shall not repeat to you, for it seems to me that I heard
incorrectly, or that he said it in delirium; but should it come true
you will be astonished."

"If he has said nothing which might make your Royal Grace gloomy."

"Nothing whatever of that nature," said the king; "it has comforted us
beyond measure, for it seems that even those whom we had reason to hold
our greatest enemies are ready to spill their blood for us if need be."

"Gracious Lord!" cried the marshal, "the time of reform has come; but
under this roof your Royal Grace is among persons who have never sinned
even in thought against majesty."

"True, true!" answered the king, "and you, Lord Marshal, are in the
first rank."

"I am a poor servant of your Royal Grace."

At table the noise grew greater. Gradually they began to speak of
political combinations; of aid from the emperor, hitherto looked for in
vain; of Tartar assistance, and of the coming war with the Swedes.
Fresh rejoicing set in when the marshal stated that the envoy sent by
him to the Khan had returned just a couple of days before, and reported
that forty thousand of the horde were in readiness, and perhaps even a
hundred thousand, as soon as the king would reach Lvoff and conclude a
treaty with the Khan. The same envoy had reported that the Cossacks
through fear of the Tartars had returned to obedience.

"You have thought of everything," said the king, "in such fashion that
we could not have thought it out better ourselves." Then he seized his
glass and said: "To the health of our host and friend, the marshal of
the kingdom!"

"Impossible, Gracious Lord!" cried the marshal; "no man's health can be
drunk here before the health of your Royal Grace."

All restrained their half-raised goblets; but Lyubomirski, filled with
delight, perspiring, beckoned to his chief butler.

At this sign the servants who were swarming through the hall rushed to
pour out Malvoisie again, taken with gilded dippers from kegs of pure
silver. Pleasure increased still more, and all were waiting for the
toast of the marshal.

The chief butler brought now two goblets of Venetian crystal of such
marvellous work that they might pass for the eighth wonder of the
world. The crystal, bored and polished to thinness during whole years,
perhaps, cast real diamond light. On the setting great artists of Italy
had labored. The base of each goblet was gold, carved in small figures
representing the entrance of a conqueror to the Capitol. The conqueror
rode in a chariot of gold on a street paved with pearls. Behind him
followed captives with bound hands; with them a king, in a turban
formed of one emerald; farther followed legionaries with eagles
and ensigns. More than fifty small figures found room on each
base,--figures as high as a hazel-nut, but made so marvellously that
the features of the faces and the feelings of each one could be
distinguished, the pride of the victors, the grief of the vanquished.
The base was bound to the goblet with golden filigree, fine as hair
bent with wondrous art into grape leaves, clusters, and various
flowers. Those filigree were wound around the crystal, and joining at
the top in one ring formed the edge of the goblet, which was set with
stones in seven colors.

The head butler gave one such goblet to the king and the other to the
marshal, both filled with Malvoisie. All rose from their seats;
the marshal raised the goblet, and cried with all the voice in his
breast,--

"Vivat Yoannes Casimirus Rex!"

"Vivat! vivat! vivat!"

At that moment the guns thundered again so that the walls of the castle
were trembling. The nobles feasting in the second hall came with their
goblets; the marshal wished to make an oration, but could not, for his
words were lost in the endless shouts: "Vivat! vivat! vivat!"

Such joy seized the marshal, such ecstasy, that wildness was gleaming
in his eyes, and emptying his goblet he shouted so, that he was heard
even in the universal tumult,--

"_Ego ultimus_ (I am the last)!"

Then he struck the priceless goblet on his own head with such force
that the crystal sprang into a hundred fragments, which fell with a
rattle on the floor, and the head of the magnate was covered with
blood. All were astonished, and the king said,--

"Lord Marshal, we regret not the goblet, but the head which we value so
greatly."

"Treasures and jewels are nothing to me," cried the marshal, "when I
have the honor of receiving your Royal Grace in my house. Vivat Yoannes
Casimirus Rex!"

Here the butler gave him another goblet.

"Vivat! vivat!" shouted the guests without ceasing. The sound of broken
glass was mingled with the shout. Only the bishops did not follow the
example of the marshal, for their spiritual dignity forbade them.

The nuncio, who did not know of that custom of breaking glasses on the
head, bent to the bishop of Poznan, sitting near him, and said,--

"As God lives, astonishment seizes me! Your treasury is empty, and for
one such goblet two good regiments of men might be equipped and
maintained."

"It is always so with us," answered the bishop; "when desire rises in
the heart there is no measure in anything."

And in fact the desire grew greater each moment. Toward the end of the
feast a bright light struck the windows of the castle.

"What is that?" asked the king.

"Gracious Lord, I beg you to the spectacle," answered the marshal. And
tottering slightly, he conducted the king to the window. There a
wonderful sight struck their eyes. It was as clear in the court as when
there is daylight. A number of tens of pitch-barrels cast a bright
yellow gleam on the pavement, cleared of snow and strewn with leaves of
mountain-fern. Here and there were burning tubs of brandy which cast
blue light; salt was sprinkled into some to make them burn red.

The spectacle began. First knights cut off Turkish heads, tilted at a
ring and at one another; then the dogs of Liptovo fought with a bear;
later, a man from the hills, a kind of mountain Samson, threw a
millstone and caught it in the air. Midnight put an end to these
amusements.

Thus did the marshal declare himself, though the Swedes were still in
the land.



                              CHAPTER XII.


In the midst of feasting and the throng of new dignitaries, nobles, and
knights who were coming continually, the kindly king forgot not his
faithful servant who in the mountain-pass had exposed his breast to the
Swedish sword with such daring; and on the day following his arrival in
Lyubovlya he visited the wounded Pan Andrei. He found him conscious and
almost joyful, though pale as death; by a lucky fortune the young hero
had received no grievous wound, only blood had left him in large
quantities.

At sight of the king, Kmita even rose in the bed to a sitting position,
and though the king insisted that he should lie down again, he was
unwilling to do so.

"Gracious Lord," said he, "in a couple of days I shall be on horseback,
and with your gracious permission will go farther, for I feel that
nothing is the matter with me."

"Still they must have cut you terribly. It is an unheard of thing for
one to withstand such a number."

"That has happened to me more than once, for I think that in an evil
juncture the sabre and courage are best. Ei, Gracious Lord, the number
of cuts that have healed on my skin you could not count on an ox-hide.
Such is my fortune."

"Complain not of fortune, for it is evident that you go headlong to
places where not only blows but deaths are distributed. But how long do
you practise such tactics? Where have you fought before now?"

A passing blush covered the youthful face of Kmita.

"Gracious Lord, I attacked Hovanski when all dropped their hands, and a
price was set on my head."

"But listen," said the king, suddenly; "you told me a wonderful word in
that pass. I thought that delirium had seized you and unsettled your
reason. Now you say that you attacked Hovanski. Who are you? Are you
not really Babinich? We know who attacked Hovanski!"

A moment of silence followed; at last the young knight raised his pale
face, and said,--

"Not delirium spoke through me, but truth; it was I who battered
Hovanski, from which war my name was heard throughout the whole
Commonwealth. I am Andrei Kmita, the banneret of Orsha."

Here Kmita closed his eyes and grew still paler; but when the
astonished king was silent, he began to speak farther,--

"I am, Gracious Lord, that outlaw, condemned by God and the judgments
of men for killing and violence. I served Radzivill, and together with
him I betrayed you and the country; but now, thrust with rapiers and
trampled with horses' hoofs, unable to rise, I beat my breast,
repeating, _Mea culpa, mea culpa!_ (My fault, my fault!) and I implore
your fatherly mercy. Forgive me, for I have cursed my previous acts,
and have long since turned from that road which lies toward hell."

Tears dropped from the eyes of the knight, and with trembling he began
to seek the hand of the king. Yan Kazimir, it is true, did not withdraw
his hand; but he grew gloomy, and said,--

"Whoso in this land wears a crown should be unceasingly ready to
pardon; therefore we are willing to forgive your offence, since on
Yasna Gora and on the road you have served us with faithfulness,
exposing your breast."

"Then forgive them, Gracious Lord! Shorten my torment"

"But one thing we cannot forget,--that in spite of the virtue of this
people you offered Prince Boguslav to raise hands on majesty, hitherto
inviolable, and bear us away living or dead, and deliver us into
Swedish hands."

Kmita, though a moment before he had said himself that he was unable to
rise, sprang from the bed, seized the crucifix hanging above him, and
with the cuts on his face and fever in his flashing eyes, and breathing
quickly, began to speak thus,--

"By the salvation of my father and mother, by the wounds of the
Crucified, it is untrue! If I am guilty of that sin, may God punish me
at once with sudden death and with eternal fires. If you do not believe
me, I will tear these bandages, let out the remnant of the blood which
the Swedes did not shed. I never made the offer. Never was such a
thought in my head. For the kingdom of this world, I would not have
done such a deed. Amen! on this cross, amen, amen!" And he trembled
from feverish excitement.

"Then did the prince invent it?" asked the astonished king. "Why? for
what reason?"

"He did invent it. It was his hellish revenge on me for what I did to
him."

"What did you do to him?"

"I carried him off from the middle of his court and of his whole army.
I wanted to cast him bound at the feet of your Royal Grace."

"It's a wonder, it's a wonder! I believe you, but I do not understand.
How was it? You were serving Yanush, and carried off Boguslav, who was
less guilty, and you wanted to bring him bound to me?"

Kmita wished to answer; but the king saw at that moment his pallor and
suffering, therefore he said,--

"Rest, and later tell me all from the beginning. I believe you; here is
our hand."

Kmita pressed the king's hand to his lips, and for some time was
silent, for breath failed him; he merely looked at the king's face with
immeasurable affection; at last he collected his strength, and said,--

"I will tell all from the beginning. I warred against Hovanski, but I
was hard with my own people. In part I was forced to wrong them, and to
take what I needed; I did this partly from violence, for the blood was
storming within me. I had companions, good nobles, but no better than
I. Here and there a man was cut down, here and there a house was
burned, here and there some one was chased over the snow with sticks.
An outcry was raised. Where an enemy could not touch me, complaint was
made before a court. I lost cases by default. Sentences came one after
another, but I paid no heed; besides, the devil flattered me, and
whispered to surpass Pan Lashch, who had his cloak lined with
judgments; and still he was famous, and is famous till now."

"For he did penance, and died piously," remarked the king.

When he had rested somewhat, Kmita continued: "Meanwhile Colonel
Billevich--the Billeviches are a great family in Jmud--put off his
transitory form, and was taken to a better world; but he left me a
village and his granddaughter. I do not care for the village, for in
continual attacks on the enemy I have gathered no little property, and
not only have made good the fortune taken from me by the Northerners,
but have increased it. I have still in Chenstohova enough to buy two
such villages, and I need ask no one for bread. But when my party
separated I went to winter quarters in the Lauda region. There the
maiden, Billevich's granddaughter, came so near my heart that I forgot
God's world. The virtue and honesty in this lady were such that I grew
shamefaced in presence of my former deeds. She too, having an inborn
hatred of transgression, pressed me to leave my previous manner of
life, put an end to disturbances, repair wrongs, and live honestly."

"Did you follow her advice?"

"How could I, Gracious Lord! I wished to do so, it is true,--God sees
that I wished; but old sins follow a man. First, my soldiers were
attacked in Upita, for which I burned some of the place."

"In God's name! that is a crime," said the king.

"That is nothing yet. Later on, the nobles of Lauda slaughtered my
comrades, worthy cavaliers though violent. I was forced to avenge them.
I fell upon the village of the Butryms that very night, and took
vengeance, with fire and sword, for the murder. But they defeated me,
for a crowd of homespuns live in that neighborhood. I had to hide. The
maiden would not look at me, for those homespuns were made fathers and
guardians to her by the will. But my heart was so drawn to her that I
could not help myself. Unable to live without her, I collected a new
party and seized her with armed hand."

"Why, the Tartars do not make love differently."

"I own that it was a deed of violence. But God punished me through the
hands of Pan Volodyovski, and he cut me so that I barely escaped with
my life. It would have been a hundred times better for me if I had not
escaped, for I should not have joined the Radzivills to the injury of
the king and the country. But how could it be otherwise? A new suit was
begun against me for a capital offence; it was a question of life. I
knew not what to do, when suddenly the voevoda of Vilna came to me with
assistance."

"Did he protect you?"

"He sent me a commission through this same Pan Volodyovski, and thereby
I went under the jurisdiction of the hetman, and was not afraid of the
courts. I clung to Radzivill as to a plank of salvation. Soon I put on
foot a squadron of men known as the greatest fighters in all Lithuania.
There were none better in the army. I led them to Kyedani. Radzivill
received me as a son, referred to our kinship through the Kishkis, and
promised to protect me. He had his object. He needed daring men ready
for all things, and I, simpleton, crawled as it were into bird-lime.
Before his plans had come to the surface, he commanded me to swear on a
crucifix that I would not abandon him in any straits. Thinking it a
question of war with the Swedes or the Northerners, I took the oath
willingly. Then came that terrible feast at which the Kyedani treaty
was read. The treason was published. Other colonels threw their batons
at the feet of the hetman, but the oath held me as a chain holds a dog,
and I could not leave him."

"But did not all those who deserted us later swear loyalty?" asked the
king, sadly.

"I, too, though I did not throw down my baton, had no wish to steep my
hands in treason. What I suffered, Gracious Lord, God alone knows. I
was writhing from pain, as if men were burning me alive with fire; and
my maiden, though even after the seizure the agreement between us
remained still unbroken, now proclaimed me a traitor, and despised me
as a vile reptile. But I had taken oath not to abandon Radzivill. She,
though a woman, would shame a man with her wit, and lets no one surpass
her in loyalty to your Royal Grace."

"God bless her!" said the king. "I respect her for that."

"She thought to reform me into a partisan of the king and the country;
and when that came to naught, she grew so steadfast against me that her
hatred became as great as her love had been once. At that juncture
Radzivill called me before him, and began to convince me. He explained,
as two and two form four, that in this way alone could he save the
falling country. I cannot, indeed, repeat his arguments, they were so
great, and promised such happiness to the land. He would have convinced
a man a hundred times wiser, much less me, a simple soldier, he such a
statesman! Then, I say, your Royal Grace, that I held to him with both
hands and my heart, for I thought that all others were blind; only he
saw the truth, all others were sinning, only he was the just man. And I
would have sprung into fire for him, as now I would for your Royal
Grace, for I know not how to serve or to love with half a heart."

"I see that, this is true!" said Yan Kazimir.

"I rendered him signal service," continued Kmita, gloomily, "and I can
say that had it not been for me his treason could not have yielded any
poisonous fruits, for his own troops would have cut him to pieces with
sabres. They were all ready for that. The dragoons, the Hungarian
infantry and the light squadrons were already slaying his Scots, when I
sprang in with my men and rubbed them out in one twinkle. But there
were other squadrons at various quarters; these I dispersed. Pan
Volodyovski alone, who had come out from prison, led his Lauda men to
Podlyasye by a wonder and by superhuman resolve, so as to join with
Sapyeha. Those who escaped me assembled in Podlyasye in considerable
numbers, but before they could do that many good soldiers perished
through me. God alone can count them. I acknowledge the truth as if at
confession. Pan Volodyovski, on his way to Podlyasye, seized me, and
did not wish to let me live; but I escaped because of letters which
they found on my person, and from which it transpired that when
Volodyovski was in prison and Radzivill was going to shoot him, I
interceded persistently and saved him. He let me go free then; I
returned to Radzivill and served longer. But the service was bitter for
me, the soul began to revolt within me at certain deeds of the prince,
for there is not in him either faith, honesty, or conscience, and from
his own words it comes out that he works as much for himself as for the
King of Sweden. I began then to spring at his eyes. He grew enraged at
my boldness, and at last sent me off with letters."

"It is wonderful what important things you tell," said the king. "At
least we know from an eyewitness who _pars magna fuit_ (took a great
part) in affairs, how things happened there."

"It is true that _pars magna fui_ (I took a great part)," answered
Kmita. "I set out with the letters willingly, for I could not remain in
that place. In Pilvishki I met Prince Boguslav. May God give him into
my hands, to which end I shall use all my power, so that my vengeance
may not miss him for that slander. Not only did I not promise him
anything, Gracious Lord, not only is that a shameless lie, but it was
just there in Pilvishki that I became converted when I saw all the
naked deceit of those heretics."

"Tell quickly how it was, for we were told that Boguslav aided his
cousin only through constraint."

"He? He is worse than Prince Yanush, and in his head was the treason
first hatched. Did he not tempt the hetman first, pointing out a crown
to him? God will decide at the judgment. Yanush at least simulated and
shielded himself with _bono publico_ (public good); but Boguslav,
taking me for an arch scoundrel, revealed his whole soul to me. It is a
terror to repeat what he said. 'The devils,' said he, 'must take your
Commonwealth, it is a piece of red cloth, and we not only will not
raise a hand to save it, but will pull besides, so that the largest
piece may come to us. Lithuania,' said he, 'must remain to us, and
after Yanush I will put on the cap of Grand Prince, and marry his
daughter.'"

The king covered his eyes with his hands. "O passion of our Lord!" said
he. "The Radzivills, Radzeyovski, Opalinski--how could that which
happened not happen!--they must have crowns, even through rending what
the Lord had united."

"I grew numb, Gracious Lord, I had water poured on my head so as not to
go mad. The soul changed in me in one moment, as if a thunderbolt had
shaken it. I was terrified at my own work. I knew not what to do,
whether to thrust a knife into Boguslav or into myself. I bellowed like
a wild beast, they had driven me into such a trap. I wanted service no
longer with the Radzivills, but vengeance. God gave me a sudden
thought: I went with a few men to the quarters of Prince Boguslav, I
brought him out beyond the town, I carried him off and wanted to bring
him to the confederates so as to buy myself into their company and into
the service of your Royal Grace at the price of his head."

"I forgive you all!" cried the king, "for they led you astray; but you
have repaid them! Kmita alone could have done that, no man besides. I
overlook all and forgive you from my heart! But tell me quickly, for
curiosity is burning me, did he escape?"

"At the first station he snatched the pistol from my belt and shot me
in the mouth,--here is the scar. He killed my men and escaped. He is a
famous knight, it would be hard to deny that; but we shall meet again,
though that were to be my last hour."

Here Kmita began to tear at the blanket with which he was covered, but
the king interrupted him quickly,--

"And through revenge he invented that letter against you?"

"And through revenge he sent that letter. I recovered from the wound,
in the forest, but my soul was suffering more and more. To Volodyovski,
to the confederates I could not go, for the Lauda men would have cut me
to pieces with their sabres. Still, knowing that the hetman was about
to march against them, I forewarned them to collect in a body. And that
was my first good deed, for without that Radzivill would have crushed
them out, squadron after squadron; but now they have overcome him and,
as I hear, are besieging him. May God aid them and send punishment to
Radzivill, amen!"

"That may have happened already; and if not it will happen surely,"
said the king. "What did you do further?"

"I made up my mind that, not being able to serve with the confederate
troops of your Royal Grace, I would go to your person and there atone
for my former offences with loyalty. But how was I to go? Who would
receive Kmita, who would believe him, who would not proclaim him a
traitor? Therefore I assumed the name Babinich, and passing through the
whole Commonwealth, I reached Chenstohova. Whether I have rendered any
services there, let Father Kordetski give witness. Day and night I was
thinking only how to repair the injuries to the country, how to spill
my blood for it, how to restore myself to repute and to honesty. The
rest, Gracious Lord, you know already, for you have seen it. And if a
fatherly kind heart incline you, if this new service has outweighed my
old sins, or even equalled them, then receive me to your favor and your
heart, for all have deserted me, no one comforts me save you. You alone
see my sorrow and tears,--I am an outcast, a traitor, an oath-breaker,
and still I love this country and your Royal Grace. God sees that I
wish to serve both."

Here hot tears dropped from the eyes of the young man till he was
carried away with weeping; but the king, like a loving father, seizing
him by the head began to kiss his forehead and comfort him.

"Yendrek! you are as dear to me as if you were my own son. What have I
said to you? That you sinned through blindness; and how many sin from
calculation? From my heart I forgive you all, for you have wiped away
your faults. More than one would be glad to boast of such services as
yours. I forgive you and the country forgives; and besides, we are
indebted to you. Put an end to your grieving."

"God give your Royal Grace everything good for this sympathy," said the
knight, with tears. "But as it is I must do penance yet in the world
for that oath to Radzivill; for though I knew not to what I was
swearing, still an oath is an oath."

"God will not condemn you for that," said the king. "He would have to
send half this Commonwealth to hell; namely, all those who broke faith
with us."

"I think myself, Gracious King, that I shall not go to hell, for
Kordetski assured me of that, though he was not certain that purgatory
would miss me. It is a hard thing to roast for a hundred of years. But
it is well even to go there! A man can endure much when the hope of
salvation is lighting him; and besides prayers can help somewhat and
shorten the torment."

"Do not grieve," said Yan Kazimir, "I will prevail on the nuncio
himself to say Mass for your intention. With such assistance you will
not suffer great harm. Trust in the mercy of God."

Kmita smiled through his tears. "Besides," said he, "God give me to
return to strength, then I will shell the soul out of more than one
Swede, and through that there will be not only merit in heaven, but it
will repair my earthly repute."

"Be of good cheer and do not be troubled about earthly glory. I
guarantee that what belongs to you will not miss you. More peaceful
times will come; I myself will declare your services, which are not
small, and surely they will be greater; and at the Diet, with God's
help, I will have this question raised, and you will be restored soon
to honor."

"Let that, Gracious Lord, give some comfort; but before then the courts
will attack me, from which even the influence of your Royal Grace
cannot shield me. But never mind! I will not yield while there is
breath in my nostrils, and a sabre in my hand. I am anxious concerning
the maiden. Olenka is her name. Gracious Lord; I have not seen her this
long time, and I have suffered, oh, I have suffered a world without her
and because of her; and though at times I might wish to drive her out
of my heart and wrestle with love as with a bear, it's of no use, for
such a fellow as he will not let a man go."

Yan Kazimir smiled good-naturedly and kindly: "How can I help you here,
my poor man?"

"Who can help me if not your grace? That maiden is an inveterate
royalist, and she will never forgive me my deeds at Kyedani, unless
your Royal Grace will make intercession, and give witness how I changed
and returned to the service of the king and my country, not from
constraint, not for profit, but through my own will and repentance."

"If that is the question I will make the intercession; and if she is
such a royalist as you say, the intercession should be effectual,--if
the girl is only free, and if some mishap has not met her such as are
frequent in war-time."

"May angels protect her!"

"She deserves it. So that the courts may not trouble you, act thus
wise: Levies will be made now in haste. Since, as you say, outlawry
weighs on you, I cannot give you a commission as Kmita, but I will give
you one as Babinich; you will make a levy which will be for the good of
the country, for you are clearly a mettlesome soldier with experience.
You will take the field under Stefan Charnyetski; under him death is
easiest, but the chances of glory are easiest. And if need comes you
will attack the Swedes of yourself as you did Hovanski. Your conversion
and good deeds commenced with the day when you called yourself
Babinich; call yourself Babinich still further, and the courts will
leave you at rest. When you will be as bright as the sun, when the
report of your services will be heard through the Commonwealth, let men
discover who this great cavalier is. This and that kind of man will be
ashamed to summon such a knight to a court. At that time some will have
died, you will satisfy others. Not a few decisions will be lost, and I
promise to exalt your services to the skies, and will present them to
the Diet for reward, for in my eyes they deserve it."

"Gracious Lord! how have I earned such favors?"

"Better than many who think they have a right to them. Well, well! be
not grieved, dear royalist, for I trust that the royalist maiden will
not be lost to you, and God grant you to assemble for me more royalists
soon."

Kmita, though sick, sprang quickly from the bed and fell his whole
length at the feet of the king.

"In God's name! what are you doing?" cried the king. "The blood will
leave you! Yendrek! Hither, some one!"

In came the marshal himself, who had long been looking for the king
through the castle.

"Holy Yerzy! my patron, what do I see?" cried he, when he saw the king
raising Kmita with his own hands.

"This is Babinich, my most beloved soldier and most faithful servant,
who saved my life yesterday," said the king. "Help, Lord Marshal, to
raise him to the couch."



                             CHAPTER XIII.


From Lyubovlya the king advanced to Dukla, Krosno, Lantsut, and Lvoff,
having at his side the marshal of the kingdom, many dignitaries and
senators, with the court squadrons and escorts. And as a great river
flowing through a country gathers to itself all the smaller waters, so
did new legions gather to the retinue of the king. Lords and armed
nobles thronged forward, and soldiers, now singly, now in groups, and
crowds of armed peasants burning with special hatred against the
Swedes.

The movement was becoming universal, and the military order of things
had begun to lead to it. Threatening manifestoes had appeared dated
from Sanch: one by Constantine Lyubomirski, the marshal of the Circle
of Knights; the other by Yan Vyelopolski, the castellan of Voinik, both
calling on the nobles in the province of Cracow to join the general
militia; those failing to appear were threatened with the punishments
of public law. The manifesto of the king completed these, and brought
the most slothful to their feet.

But there was no need of threats, for an immense enthusiasm had seized
all ranks. Old men and children mounted their horses. Women gave up
their jewels, their dresses; some rushed off to the conflict
themselves.

In the forges gypsies were pounding whole nights and days with their
hammers, turning the innocent tools of the ploughman into weapons.
Villages and towns were empty, for the men had marched to the field.
From the heaven-touching mountains night and day crowds of wild people
were pouring down. The forces of the king increased with each moment.
The clergy came forth with crosses and banners to meet the king; Jewish
societies came with their rabbis; his advance was like a mighty
triumph. From every side flew in the best tidings, as if borne by the
wind.

Not only in that part of the country which the invasion of the enemy
had not included did people rush to arms. Everywhere in the remotest
lands and provinces, in towns, villages, settlements, and
unapproachable wildernesses, the awful war of revenge and retaliation
raised its flaming head. The lower the people had fallen before, the
higher they raised their heads now; they had been reborn, changed in
spirit, and in their exaltation did not even hesitate to tear open
their own half-healed wounds, to free their blood of poisoned juices.

They had begun already to speak, and with increasing loudness, of the
powerful union of the nobles and the army, at the head of which were to
be the old grand hetman Revera Pototski and the full hetman
Lantskoronski, Stefan Charnyetski and Sapyeha, Michael Radzivill, a
powerful magnate anxious to remove the ill-fame which Yanush had
brought on the house, and Pan Kryshtof Tyshkyevich, with many other
senators, provincial and military officials and nobles.

Letters were flying every day between these men and the marshal of the
kingdom, who did not wish that so noted a union should be formed
without him. Tidings more and more certain arrived, till at last it was
announced with authority that the hetmans and with them the army had
abandoned the Swedes, and formed for the defence of the king and the
country the confederation of Tyshovtsi.

The king knew of this first, for he and the queen, though far apart,
had labored no little through letters and messengers at the formation
of it; still, not being able to take personal part in the affair, he
waited for the tenor of it with impatience. But before he came to
Lvoff, Pan Slujevski with Pan Domashevski, judge of Lukoff, came to him
bringing assurances of service and loyalty from the confederates and
the act of union for confirmation.

The king then read that act at a general council of bishops and
senators. The hearts of all were filled with delight, their spirits
rose in thankfulness to God; for that memorable confederacy announced
not merely that the people had come to their senses, but that they had
changed; that people of whom not long before the foreign invader might
say that they had no loyalty, no love of country, no conscience, no
order, no endurance, nor any of those virtues through which nations and
States do endure.

The testimony of all these virtues lay now before the king in the act
of a confederation and its manifesto. In it was summed up the perfidy
of Karl Gustav, his violation of oaths and promises, the cruelty of his
generals and his soldiers, such as are not practised by even the
wildest of people, desecration of churches, oppression, rapacity,
robbery, shedding of innocent blood, and they declared against the
Scandinavian invasion a war of life or death. A manifesto terrible as
the trumpet of the archangel, summoned not only knights but all ranks
and all people in the Commonwealth. Even _infames_ (the infamous),
_banniti_ (outlaws), and _proscripti_ (the proscribed) should
go to this war, said the manifesto. The knights were to mount their
horses and expose their own breasts, and the land was to furnish
infantry,--wealthy holders more, the poorer less, according to their
wealth and means.

"Since in this state good and evil belong equally to all, it is proper
that all should share danger. Whoso calls himself a noble, with hind or
without it, and if one noble has a number of sons, they should all go
to the war against the enemies of the Commonwealth. Since we all,
whether of higher or lower birth, being nobles, are eligible to all the
prerogatives of office, dignity, and profit in the country, so we are
equal in this, that we should go in like manner with our own persons to
the defence of these liberties and benefits."

Thus did that manifesto explain the equality of nobles. The king, the
bishops, and the senators, who for a long time had carried in their
hearts the thought of reforming the Commonwealth, convinced themselves
with joyful wonder that the people had become ripe for that reform,
that they were ready to enter upon now paths, rub the rust and mould
from themselves, and begin a new, glorious life.

"With this," explained the manifesto, "we open to each deserving man of
plebeian condition a place, we indicate and offer by this our
confederation an opportunity to reach and acquire the honors,
prerogatives, and benefits which the noble estate enjoys--"

When this introduction was read at the royal council, a deep silence
followed. Those who with the king desired most earnestly that access to
rights of nobility should be open to people of lower station thought
that they would have to overcome, endure, and break no small
opposition; that whole years would pass before it would be safe to give
utterance to anything similar; meanwhile that same nobility which
hitherto had been so jealous of its prerogatives, so stubborn in
appearance, opened wide the gate to the gray crowds of peasants.

The primate rose, encircled as it were by the spirit of prophecy, and
said,--

"Since you have inserted that _punctum_ (paragraph), posterity will
glorify this confederation from age to age, and when any one shall wish
to consider these times as times of the fall of ancient Polish virtue,
in contradicting him men will point to you."

Father Gembitski was ill; therefore he could not speak, but with hand
trembling from emotion he blessed the act and the envoys.

"I see the enemy already departing in shame from this land!" said the
king.

"God grant it most quickly!" cried both envoys.

"Gentlemen, you will go with us to Lvoff," said the king, "where we
will confirm this confederation at once, and besides shall conclude
another which the powers of hell itself will not overcome."

The envoys and senators looked at one another as if asking what power
was in question; the king was silent, but his countenance grew brighter
and brighter; he took the act again in his hand and read it a second
time, smiled, and asked,--

"Were there many opponents?"

"Gracious Lord," answered Pan Domashevski, "this confederacy arose with
unanimity through the efforts of the hetmans, of Sapyeha, of Pan
Charnyetski; and among nobles not a voice was raised in opposition, so
angry are they all at the Swedes, and so have they flamed up with love
for the country and your majesty."

"We decided, moreover, in advance," added Pan Slujevski, "that this was
not to be a diet, but that _pluralitas_ (plurality) alone was to
decide; therefore no man's _veto_ could injure the cause; we should
have cut an opponent to pieces with our sabres. All said too that it
was necessary to finish with the _liberum veto_, since it is freedom
for one, but slavery for many."

"Golden words of yours!" said the primate. "Only let a reform of the
Commonwealth come, and no enemy will frighten us."

"But where is the voevoda of Vityebsk?" asked the king.

"He went in the night, after the signing of the manifesto, to his own
troops at Tykotsin, in which he holds the voevoda of Vilna, the
traitor, besieged. Before this time he must have taken him, living or
dead."

"Was he so sure of capturing him?"

"He was as sure as that night follows day. All, even his most faithful
servants, have deserted the traitor. Only a handful of Swedes are
defending themselves there, and reinforcements cannot come from any
side. Pan Sapyeha said in Tyshovtsi, 'I wanted to wait one day, for I
should have finished with Radzivill before evening! but this is more
important than Radzivill, for they can take him without me; one
squadron is enough.'"

"Praise be to God!" said the king. "But where is Charnyetski?"

"So many of the best cavaliers have hurried to him that in one day he
was at the head of an excellent squadron. He moved at once on the
Swedes, and where he is at this moment we know not."

"But the hetmans?"

"They are waiting anxiously for the commands of your Royal Grace. They
are both laying plans for the coming war, and are in communication with
Pan Yan Zamoyski in Zamost; meanwhile regiments are rolling to them
every day with the snow."

"Have all left the Swedes then?"

"Yes, Gracious King. There were deputies also to the hetmans from the
troops of Konyetspolski, who is with the person of Karl Gustav. And
they too would be glad to return to their lawful service, though Karl
does not spare on them promises or flattery. They said too that though
they could not _recedere_ (withdraw) at once, they would do so as soon
as a convenient time came, for they have grown tired of his feasts and
his flattery, his eye-winking and clapping of hands. They can barely
hold out."

"Everywhere people are coming to their senses, everywhere good news,"
said the king. "Praise to the Most Holy Lady! This is the happiest day
of my life, and a second such will come only when the last soldier of
the enemy leaves the boundary of the Commonwealth."

At this Pan Domashevski struck his sword. "May God not grant that to
happen!" said he.

"How is that?" asked the king, with astonishment.

"That the last wide-breeches should leave the boundaries of the
Commonwealth on his own feet? Impossible, Gracious Lord! What have we
sabres at our sides for?"

"Oh!" said the king, made glad, "that is bravery."

But Pan Slujevski, not wishing to remain behind Domashevski, said: "As
true as life we will not agree to that, and first I will place a veto
on it. We shall not be content with their retreat; we will follow
them!"

The primate shook his head, and smiled kindly. "Oh, the nobles are on
horseback, and they will ride on and on! But not too fast, not too
fast! The enemy are still within the boundaries."

"Their time is short!" cried both confederates.

"The spirit has changed, and fortune will change," said Father
Gembitski, in a weak voice.

"Wine!" cried the king. "Let me drink to the change, with the
confederates."

They brought wine; but with the servants who brought the wine entered
an old attendant of the king, who said,--

"Gracious Lord, Pan Kryshtoporski has come from Chenstohova, and wishes
to do homage to your Royal Grace."

"Bring him here quickly!" cried the king.

In a moment a tall, thin noble entered, with a frowning look. He bowed
before the king to his feet, then rather haughtily to the dignitaries,
and said,--

"May the Lord Jesus Christ be praised!"

"For the ages of ages!" answered the king. "What is to be heard from
the monastery?"

"Terrible frost. Gracious Lord, so that the eyelids are frozen to the
eyeballs."

"But for God's sake! tell us of the Swedes and not of the frost!" cried
the king.

"But what can I say of them, Gracious Lord, when there are none at
Chenstohova?" asked he, humorously.

"Those tidings have come to us," replied the king, "but only from the
talk of people, and you have come from the cloister itself. Are you an
eyewitness?"

"I am. Gracious Lord, a partner in the defence and an eyewitness of the
miracles of the Most Holy Lady."

"That was not the end of Her grace," said the king, raising his eyes to
heaven, "but let us earn them further."

"I have seen much in my life," continued the noble; "but such evident
miracles I have not seen, touching which the prior Kordetski writes in
detail in this letter."

Yan Kazimir seized hastily the letter handed him by the noble, and
began to read. At times he interrupted the reading to pray, then again
turned to the letter. His face changed with joyful feelings; at last he
raised his eyes to the noble.

"Father Kordetski writes me," said he, "that you have lost a great
cavalier, a certain Babinich, who blew up the Swedish siege gun with
powder?"

"He sacrificed himself for all. But some say he is alive, and God knows
what they have said; not being certain, we have not ceased to mourn
him, for without his gallant deed it would have been hard for us to
defend ourselves."

"If that is true, then cease to mourn him. Pan Babinich is alive, and
here with us. He was the first to inform us that the Swedes, not being
able to do anything against the power of God, were thinking of retreat.
And later he rendered such famous service that we know not ourselves
how to pay him."

"Oh, that will comfort the prior!" cried the noble, with gladness; "but
if Pan Babinich is alive, it is only because he has the special favor
of the Most Holy Lady. How that will comfort Father Kordetski! A father
could not love a son as he loved him. And your Royal Grace will permit
me to greet Pan Babinich, for there is not a second man of such daring
in the Commonwealth."

But the king began again to read, and after a while cried,--

"What do I hear? After retreating they tried once again to steal on the
cloister?"

"When Miller went away, he did not show himself again; but Count
Veyhard appeared unexpectedly at the walls, trusting, it seems, to find
the gates open. He did, but the peasants fell on him with such rage
that he retreated shamefully. While the world is a world, simple
peasants have never fought so in the open field against cavalry. Then
Pan Pyotr Charnyetski and Pan Kulesha came up and cut him to pieces."

The king turned to the senators.

"See how poor ploughmen stand up in defence of this country and the
holy faith."

"That they stand up, Gracious King, is true," cried the noble. "Whole
villages near Chenstohova are empty, for the peasants are in the field
with their scythes. There is a fierce war everywhere; the Swedes are
forced to keep together in numbers, and if the peasants catch one of
them they treat him so that it would be better for him to go straight
to hell. Who is not taking up arms now in the Commonwealth? It was not
for the dog-brothers to attack Chenstohova. From that hour they could
not remain in this country."

"From this hour no man will suffer oppression in this land who resists
now with his blood," said the king, with solemnity; "so help me God and
the holy cross!"

"Amen!" added the primate.

Now the noble struck his forehead with his hand. "The frost has
disturbed my mind, Gracious Lord, for I forgot to tell one thing, that
such a son, the voevoda of Poznan, is dead. He died, they say,
suddenly."

Here the noble was somewhat ashamed, seeing that he had called a great
senator "that such a son" in presence of the king and dignitaries;
therefore he added, confused,--

"I did not wish to belittle an honorable station, but a traitor."

But no one had noticed that clearly, for all looked at the king, who
said,--

"We have long predestined Pan Yan Leshchynski to be voevoda of Poznan,
even during the life of Pan Opalinski. Let him fill that office more
worthily. The judgment of God, I see, has begun upon those who brought
this country to its decline, for at this moment, perhaps, the voevoda
of Vilna is giving an account of his deeds before the Supreme Judge."
Here he turned to the bishops and senators,--

"But it is time for us to think of a general war, and I wish to have
the opinion of all of you, gentlemen, on this question."



                              CHAPTER XIV.


At the moment when the king was saying that the voevoda of Vilna was
standing, perhaps, before the judgment of God, he spoke as it were with
a prophetic spirit, for at that hour the affair of Tykotsin was
decided.

On December 25 Sapyeha was so sure of capturing Tykotsin that he went
himself to Tyshovtsi, leaving the further conduct of the siege to Pan
Oskyerko. He gave command to wait for the final storm till his return,
which was to follow quickly; assembling, therefore, his more prominent
officers, he said,--

"Reports have come to me that among the officers there is a plan to
bear apart on sabres the voevoda of Vilna immediately after capturing
the castle. Now if the castle, as may happen, should surrender during
my absence, I inform you, gentlemen, that I prohibit most strictly an
attack on Radzivill's life. I receive letters, it is true, from persons
of whom you gentlemen do not even dream, not to let him live when I
take him. But I do not choose to obey these commands; and this I do not
from any compassion, for the traitor is not worthy of that, but because
I have no right over his life, and I prefer to bring him before the
Diet, so that posterity may have in this case an example that no
greatness of family, no office can cover such offence, nor protect him
from public punishment."

In this sense spoke the voevoda of Vityebsk, but more minutely, for his
honesty was equalled by this weakness: he esteemed himself an orator,
and loved on every occasion to speak copiously, and listened with
delight to his own words, adding to them the most beautiful sentences
from the ancients.

"Then I must steep my right hand well in water," answered Zagloba, "for
it itches terribly. But I only say this, that if Radzivill had me in
his hands, surely he would not spare my head till sunset. He knows well
who in great part made his troops leave him; he knows well who
embroiled him with the Swedes. But even if he does, I know not why I
should be more indulgent to Radzivill than Radzivill to me."

"Because the command is not in your hands and you must obey," said
Sapyeha, with dignity.

"That I must obey is true, but it is well at times also to obey
Zagloba. I say this boldly, because if Radzivill had listened to me
when I urged him to defend the country, he would not be in Tykotsin
to-day, but in the field at the head of all the troops of Lithuania."

"Does it seem to you that the baton is in bad hands?"

"It would not become me to say that, for I placed it in those hands.
Our gracious lord, Yan Kazimir, has only to confirm my choice, nothing
more."

The voevoda smiled at this, for he loved Zagloba and his jokes.

"Lord brother," said he, "you crushed Radzivill, you made me hetman,
and all this is your merit. Permit me now to go in peace to Tyshovtsi,
so that Sapyeha too may serve the country in something."

Zagloba put his hands on his hips, thought awhile as if he were
considering whether he ought to permit or not; at last his eye gleamed,
he nodded, and said with importance,--

"Go, your grace, in peace."

"God reward you for the permission!" answered the voevoda, with a
laugh.

Other officers seconded the voevoda's laugh. He was preparing to start,
for the carriage was under the window; he took farewell of all,
therefore, giving each instructions what to do during his absence; then
approaching Volodyovski, he said,--

"If the castle surrenders you will answer to me for the life of the
voevoda."

"According to order! a hair will not fall from his head," said the
little knight.

"Pan Michael," said Zagloba to him, after the departure of the voevoda,
"I am curious to know what persons are urging our Sapyo[2] not to let
Radzivill live when he captures him."

"How should I know?" answered the little knight.

"If you say that what another mouth does not whisper to your ear your
own will not suggest, you tell the truth! But they must be some
considerable persons, since they are able to command the voevoda."

"Maybe it is the king himself."

"The king? If a dog bit the king he would forgive him that minute, and
give him cheese in addition. Such is his heart."

"I will not dispute about that; but still, do they not say that he is
greatly incensed at Radzivill?"

"First, any man will succeed in being angry,--for example, my anger at
Radzivill; secondly, how could he be incensed at Radzeyovski when he
took his sons in guardianship, because the father was not better? That
is a golden heart, and I think it is the queen who is making requests
against the life of Radzivill. She is a worthy lady, not a word against
that, but she has a woman's mind; and know that if a woman is enraged
at you, even should you hide in a crack of the floor, she will pick you
out with a pin."

Volodyovski sighed at this, and said,--

"Why should any woman be angry with me, since I have never made trouble
for one in my life?"

"Ah, but you would have been glad to do so. Therefore, though you serve
in the cavalry, you rush on so wildly against the walls of Tykotsin
with infantry, for you think not only is Radzivill there, but Panna
Billevich. I know you, you rogue! Is it not true? You have not driven
her out of your head yet."

"There was a time when I had put her thoroughly out of my head; and
Kmita himself, if now here, would be forced to confess that my action
was knightly, not wishing to act against people in love. I chose to
forget my rebuff, but I will not hide this: if Panna Billevich is now
in Tykotsin, and if God permits me a second time to save her from
trouble, I shall see in that the expressed will of Providence. I need
take no thought of Kmita, I owe him nothing; and the hope is alive in
me that if he left her of his own will she must have forgotten him, and
such a thing will not happen now as happened to me the first time."

Conversing in this way, they reached their quarters, where they found
Pan Yan and Pan Stanislav, Roh Kovalski and the lord tenant of Vansosh,
Jendzian.

The cause of Sapyeha's trip to Tyshovtsi was no secret, hence all the
knights were pleased that so honorable a confederacy would rise in
defence of the faith and the country.

"Another wind is blowing now in the whole Commonwealth," said Pan
Stanislav, "and, thanks be to God, in the eyes of the Swedes."

"It began from Chenstohova," answered Pan Yan. "There was news
yesterday that the cloister holds out yet, and repulses more and more
powerful assaults. Permit not, Most Holy Mother, the enemy to put Thy
dwelling-place to shame."

Here Jendzian sighed and said: "Besides the holy images how much
precious treasure would go into enemies' hands; when a man thinks of
that, food refuses to pass his throat!"

"The troops are just tearing away to the assault; we can hardly hold
them back," said Pan Michael. "Yesterday Stankyevich's squadron moved
without orders and without ladders, for they said, 'When we finish this
traitor, we will go to relieve Chenstohova;' and when any man mentions
Chenstohova all grit their teeth and shake their sabres."

"Why have we so many squadrons here when one half would be enough for
Tykotsin?" asked Zagloba. "It is the stubbornness of Sapyeha, nothing
more. He does not wish to obey me; he wants to show that without my
counsel he can do something. As you see yourselves, how are so many men
to invest one paltry castle? They merely hinder one another, for there
is not room for them all."

"Military experience speaks through you,--it is impossible!" answered
Pan Stanislav.

"Well, I have a head on my shoulders."

"Uncle has a head on his shoulders!" cried Pan Roh, suddenly; and
straightening his mustaches, he began to look around on all present as
if seeking some one to contradict him.

"But the voevoda too has a head," answered Pan Yan; "and if so many
squadrons are here, there is danger that Prince Boguslav might come to
the relief of his cousin."

"Then send a couple of light squadrons to ravage Electoral Prussia,"
said Zagloba; "and summon volunteers there from among common people. I
myself would be the first man to go to try Prussian beer."

"Beer is not good in winter, unless warmed," remarked Pan Michael.

"Then give us wine, or gorailka, or mead," said Zagloba.

Others also exhibited a willingness to drink; therefore the lord tenant
of Vansosh occupied himself with that business, and soon a number of
decanters were on the table. Hearts were glad at this sight, and the
knights began to drink to one another, raising their goblets each time
for a new health.

"Destruction to the Swedes, may they not skin our bread very long!"
said Zagloba. "Let them devour their pine cones in Sweden."

"To the health of his Royal Grace and the Queen!" said Pan Yan.

"And to loyal men!" said Volodyovski.

"Then to our own healths!"

"To the health of Uncle!" thundered Kovalski.

"God reward! Into your hands! and empty though your lips to the bottom.
Zagloba is not yet entirely old! Worthy gentlemen! may we smoke this
badger out of his hole with all haste, and move then to Chenstohova."

"To Chenstohova!" shouted Kovalski. "To the rescue of the Most Holy
Lady."

"To Chenstohova!" cried all.

"To defend the treasures of Yasna Gora from the Pagans!" added
Jendzian.

"Who pretend that they believe in the Lord Jesus, wishing to hide their
wickedness; but in fact they only howl at the moon like dogs, and in
this is all their religion."

"And such as these raise their hands against the splendors of Yasna
Gora!"

"You have touched the spot in speaking of their faith," said
Volodyovski to Zagloba, "for I myself have heard how they howl at the
moon. They said afterward that they were singing Lutheran psalms; but
it is certain that the dogs sing such psalms."

"How is that?" asked Kovalski. "Are there such people among them?"

"There is no other kind," answered Zagloba, with deep conviction.

"And is their king no better?"

"Their king is the worst of all. He began this war of purpose to
blaspheme the true faith in the churches."

Here Kovalski, who had drunk much, rose and said: "If that is true,
then as sure as you are looking at me, and as I am Kovalski, I'll
spring straight at the Swedish king in the first battle, and though he
stood in the densest throng, that is nothing! My death or his! I'll
reach him with my lance,--hold me a fool, gentlemen, if I do not!"

When he had said this he clinched his fist and was going to thunder on
the table. He would have smashed the glasses and decanters, and broken
the table; but Zagloba caught him hastily by the arm and said,--

"Sit down, Roh, and give us peace. We will not think you a fool if you
do not do this, but know that we will not stop thinking you a fool
until you have done it. I do not understand, though, how you can raise
a lance on the King of Sweden, when you are not in the hussars."

"I will join the escort and be enrolled in the squadron of Prince
Polubinski; and my father will help me."

"Father Roh?"

"Of course."

"Let him help you, but break not these glasses, or I'll be the first
man to break your head. Of what was I speaking, gentlemen? Ah! of
Chenstohova. _Luctus_ (grief) will devour me, if we do not come in time
to save the holy place. _Luctus_ will devour me, I tell you all! And
all through that traitor Radzivill and the philosophical reasoning of
Sapyeha."

"Say nothing against the voevoda. He is an honorable man," said the
little knight.

"Why cover Radzivill with two halves when one is sufficient? Nearly ten
thousand men are around this little booth of a castle, the best cavalry
and infantry. Soon they will lick the soot out of all the chimneys in
this region, for what was on the hearths they have eaten already."

"It is not for us to argue over the reasons of superiors, but to obey!"

"It is not for you to argue, Pan Michael, but for me; half of the
troops who abandoned Radzivill chose me as leader, and I would have
driven Karl Gustav beyond the tenth boundary ere now, but for that
luckless modesty which commanded me to place the baton in the hands of
Sapyeha. Let him put an end to his delay, lest I take back what I
gave."

"You are only so daring after drink," said Volodyovski.

"Do you say that? Well, you will see! This very day I will go among the
squadrons and call out, 'Gracious gentlemen, whoso chooses come with me
to Chenstohova; it is not for you to wear out your elbows and knifes
against the mortar of Tykotsin! I beg you to come with me! Whoso made
me commander, whoso gave me power, whoso had confidence that I would do
what was useful for the country and the faith, let him stand at my
side. It is a beautiful thing to punish traitors, but a hundred times
more beautiful to save the Holy Lady, our Mother and the Patroness of
this kingdom from oppression and the yoke of the heretic.'"

Here Zagloba, from whose forelock the steam had for some time been
rising, started up from his place, sprang to a bench, and began to
shout as if he were before an assembly,--

"Worthy gentlemen! whoso is a Catholic, whoso a Pole, whoso has pity on
the Most Holy Lady, let him follow me! To the relief of Chenstohova!"

"I go!" shouted Roh Kovalski.

Zagloba looked for a while on those present, and seeing astonishment
and silent faces, he came down from the bench and said,--

"I'll teach Sapyeha reason! I am a rascal if by tomorrow I do not take
half the army from Tykotsin and lead it to Chenstohova."

"For God's sake, restrain yourself, father!" said Pan Yan.

"I'm a rascal, I tell you!" repeated Zagloba.

They were frightened lest he should carry out his threat, for he was
able to do so. In many squadrons there was murmuring at the delay in
Tykotsin; men really gnashed their teeth thinking of Chenstohova. It
was enough to cast a spark on that powder; and what if a man so
stubborn, of such immense knightly importance as Zagloba, should cast
it? To begin with, the greater part of Sapyeha's army was composed of
new recruits, and therefore of men unused to discipline, and ready for
action on their own account, and they would have gone as one man
without doubt after Zagloba to Chenstohova.

Therefore both Skshetuskis were frightened at this undertaking, and
Volodyovski cried,--

"Barely has a small army been formed by the greatest labor of the
voevoda, barely is there a little power for the defence of the
Commonwealth, and you wish with disorder to break up the squadrons,
bring them to disobedience. Radzivill would pay much for such counsel,
for it is water to his mill. Is it not a shame for you to speak of such
a deed?"

"I'm a scoundrel if I don't do it!" said Zagloba.

"Uncle will do it!" said Kovalski.

"Silence, you horseskull!" roared out Pan Michael.

Pan Roh stared, shut his mouth, and straightened himself at once.

Then Volodyovski turned to Zagloba: "And I am a scoundrel if one man of
my squadron goes with you; you wish to ruin the army, and I tell you
that I will fall first upon your volunteers."

"O Pagan, faithless Turk!" said Zagloba. "How is that? you would attack
knights of the Most Holy Lady? Are you ready? Well, I know you! Do you
think, gentlemen, that it is a question with him of an army or
discipline? No! he sniffs Panna Billevich behind the walls of Tykotsin.
For a private question, for your own wishes you would not hesitate to
desert the best cause. You would be glad to flutter around a maiden, to
stand on one foot, then the other, and display yourself. But nothing
will come of this! My head for it, that better than you are running
after her, even that same Kmita, for even he is no worse than you."

Volodyovski looked at those present, taking them to witness what
injustice was done him; then he frowned. They thought he would burst
out in anger, but because he had been drinking, he fell all at once
into tenderness.

"This is my reward," said he. "From the years of a stripling I have
served the country; I have not put the sabre out of my hand! I
have neither cottage, wife, nor children; my head is as lone as a
lance-point. The most honorable think of themselves, but I have no
rewards save wounds in the flesh; nay, I am accused of selfishness,
almost held a traitor."

Tears began to drop on his yellow mustaches. Zagloba softened in a
moment, and throwing open his arms, cried,--

"Pan Michael, I have done you cruel injustice! I should be given to the
hangman for having belittled such a tried friend!"

Then falling into mutual embraces, they began to kiss each other; they
drank more to good understanding, and when sorrow had gone considerably
out of his heart, Volodyovski said,--

"But you will not ruin the army, bring disobedience, and give an evil
example?"

"I will not, Pan Michael, I will not for your sake."

"God grant us to take Tykotsin; whose affair is it what I seek behind
the walls of the fortress? Why should any man jeer at me?"

Struck by that question, Zagloba began to put the ends of his mustaches
in his mouth and gnaw them; at last he said: "Pan Michael, I love you
as the apple of my eye, but drive that Panna Billevich out of your
head."

"Why?" asked Pan Michael, with astonishment.

"She is beautiful, _assentior_ (I agree)," answered Zagloba, "but she
is distinguished in person, and there is no proportion whatever between
you. You might sit on her shoulder, like a canary-bird, and peck sugar
out of her mouth. She might carry you like a falcon on her glove, and
let you off against every enemy, for though you are little you are
venomous like a hornet."

"Well, have you begun?" asked Volodyovski.

"If I have begun, then let me finish. There is one woman as if created
for you, and she is precisely that kernel-- What is her name? That one
whom Podbipienta was to marry?"

"Anusia Borzobogati!" cried Pan Yan. "She is indeed an old love of
Michael's."

"A regular grain of buckwheat, but a pretty little rogue; just like a
doll," said Zagloba, smacking his lips.

Volodyovski began to sigh, and to repeat time after time what he always
repeated when mention was made of Anusia: "What is happening to the
poor girl? Oh, if she could only be found!"

"You would not let her out of your hands, for, God bless me, I have not
seen in my life any man so given to falling in love. You ought to have
been born a rooster, scratch the sweepings in a house-yard, and cry,
'Co, co, co,' at the top-knots."

"Anusia! Anusia!" repeated Pan Michael. "If God would send her to
me--But perhaps she is not in the world, or perhaps she is married--"

"How could she be? She was a green turnip when I saw her, and
afterward, even if she ripened, she may still be in the maiden state.
After such a man as Podbipienta she could not take any common fellow.
Besides, in these times of war few are thinking of marriage."

"You did not know her well," answered Pan Michael. "She was wonderfully
honest; but she had such a nature that she let no man pass without
piercing his heart. The Lord God created her thus. She did not miss
even men of lower station; for example, Princess Griselda's physician,
that Italian, who was desperately in love with her. Maybe she has
married him and he has taken her beyond the sea."

"Don't talk such nonsense, Michael!" cried Zagloba, with indignation.
"A doctor, a doctor,--that the daughter of a noble of honorable blood
should marry a man of such low estate! I have already said that that is
impossible."

"I was angry with her myself, for I thought, 'This is without limit;
soon she will be turning the heads of attorneys.'"

"I prophesy that you will see her yet," said Zagloba.

Further conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Pan
Tokarzevich, who had served formerly with Radzivill, but after the
treason of the hetman, left him, in company with others, and was now
standard-bearer in Oskyerko's regiment.

"Colonel," said he to Volodyovski, "we are to explode a petard."

"Is Pan Oskyerko ready?"

"He was ready at midday, and he is not willing to wait, for the night
promises to be dark."

"That is well; we will go to see. I will order the men to be ready with
muskets, so that the besieged may not make a sortie. Will Pan Oskyerko
himself explode the petard?"

"He will--in his own person. A crowd of volunteers go with him."

"And I will go!" said Volodyovski.

"And we!" cried Pan Yan and Pan Stanislav.

"Oh, 'tis a pity that old eyes cannot see in the dark," said Zagloba,
"for of a surety I should not let you go alone. But what is to be done?
When dusk comes I cannot draw my sword. In the daytime, in the daytime,
in the sunlight, then the old man likes to move to the field. Give me
the strongest of the Swedes, if at midday."

"But I will go," said, after some thought, the tenant of Vansosh. "When
they blow up the gate the troops will spring to the storm in a crowd,
and in the castle there may be great wealth in plate and in jewels."

All went out, for it was now growing dark; in the quarters Zagloba
alone remained. He listened for a while to the snow squeaking under the
steps of the departing men, then began to raise one after another the
decanters, and look through them at the light burning in the chimney to
see if there was something yet in any of them.

The others marched toward the castle in darkness and wind, which rose
from the north and blew with increasing force, howling, storming,
bringing with it clouds of snow broken fine.

"A good night to explode a petard!" said Volodyovski.

"But also for a sortie," answered Pan Yan. "We must keep a watchful eye
and ready muskets."

"God grant," said Pan Tokarzevich, "that at Chenstohova there is a
still greater storm. It is always warmer for our men behind the walls.
But may the Swedes freeze there on guard, may they freeze!"

"A terrible night!" said Pan Stanislav; "do you hear, gentlemen, how it
howls, as if Tartars were rushing through the air to attack?"

"Or as if devils were singing a requiem for Radzivill!" said
Volodyovski.



                              CHAPTER XV.


But a few days subsequent the great traitor in the castle was looking
at the darkness coming down on the snowy shrouds and listening to the
howling of the wind.

The lamp of his life was burning out slowly. At noon of that day he was
still walking around and looking through the battlements, at the tents
and the wooden huts of Sapyeha's troops; but two hours later he grew so
ill that they had to carry him to his chambers.

From those times at Kyedani in which he had striven for a crown, he had
changed beyond recognition. The hair on his head had grown white,
around his eyes red rings had formed, his face was swollen and flabby,
therefore it seemed still more enormous, but it was the face of a half
corpse, marked with blue spots and terrible through its expression of
hellish suffering.

And still, though his life could be measured by hours, he had lived too
long, for not only had he outlived faith in himself and his fortunate
star, faith in his own hopes and plans, but his fall was so deep that
when he looked at the bottom of that precipice to which he was rolling,
he would not believe himself. Everything had deceived him: events,
calculations, allies. He, for whom it was not enough to be the
mightiest lord in Poland, a prince of the Roman Empire, grand hetman,
and voevoda of Vilna; he, for whom all Lithuania was less than what he
desired and was lusting after, was confined in one narrow, small castle
in which either Death or Captivity was waiting for him. And he watched
the door every day to see which of these two terrible goddesses would
enter first to take his soul or his more than half-ruined body.

Of his lands, of his estates and starostaships, it was possible not
long before to mark out a vassal kingdom; now he is not master even of
the walls of Tykotsin.

Barely a few months before he was treating with neighboring kings;
to-day one Swedish captain obeys his commands with impatience and
contempt, and dares to bend him to his will.

When his troops left him, when from a lord and a magnate who made the
whole country tremble, he became a powerless pauper who needed rescue
and assistance himself, Karl Gustav despised him. He would have raised
to the skies a mighty ally, but he turned with haughtiness from the
supplicant.

Like Kostka Napyerski, the foot-pad, besieged on a time in Chorshtyn,
is he, Radzivill, besieged now in Tykotsin. And who is besieging him?
Sapyeha, his greatest personal enemy. When they capture him they will
drag him to justice in worse fashion than a robber, as a traitor.

His kinsmen have deserted him, his friends, his connections. Armies
have plundered his property, his treasures and riches are blown into
mist, and that lord, that prince, who once upon a time astonished the
court of France and dazzled it with his luxury, he who at feasts
received thousands of nobles, who maintained tens of thousands of his
own troops, whom he fed and supported, had not now wherewith to nourish
his own failing strength; and terrible to relate, he, Radzivill, in the
last moments of his life, almost at the hour of his death, was hungry!

In the castle there had long been a lack of provisions; from the scant
remaining supplies the Swedish commander dealt stingy rations, and the
prince would not beg of him.

If only the fever which was devouring his strength had deprived him of
consciousness; but it had not. His breast rose with increasing
heaviness, his breath turned into a rattle, his swollen feet and hands
were freezing, but his mind, omitting moments of delirium, omitting the
terrible visions and nightmares which passed before his eyes, remained
for the greater part of the time clear. And that prince saw his whole
fall, all his want, all his misery and humiliation; that former
warrior-victor saw all his defeat, and his sufferings were so immense
that they could be equalled only by his sins.

Besides, as the Furies tormented Orestes, so was he tormented by
reproaches of conscience, and in no part of the world was there a
sanctuary to which he could flee from them. They tormented him in the
day, they tormented him at night, in the field, under the roof; pride
could not withstand them nor repulse them. The deeper his fall, the
more fiercely they lashed him. And there were moments in which he tore
his own breast. When enemies came against his country from every side,
when foreign nations grieved over its hapless condition, its sufferings
and bloodshed, he, the grand hetman, instead of moving to the field,
instead of sacrificing the last drop of his blood, instead of
astonishing the world like Leonidas or Themistocles, instead of pawning
his last coat like Sapyeha, made a treaty with enemies against the
mother, raised a sacrilegious hand against his own king, and imbrued it
in blood near and dear to him. He had done all this, and now he is at
the limit not only of infamy, but of life, close to his reckoning,
there beyond. What is awaiting him?

The hair rose on his head when he thought of that. For he had raised
his hand against his country, he had appeared to himself great in
relation to that country, and now all had changed. Now he had become
small, and the Commonwealth, rising from dust and blood, appeared to
him something great and continually greater, invested with a mysterious
terror, full of a sacred majesty, awful. And she grew, increased
continually in his eyes, and became more and more gigantic. In presence
of her he felt himself dust as prince and as hetman, as Radzivill. He
could not understand what that was. Some unknown waves were rising
around him, flowing toward him, with roaring, with thunder, flowing
ever nearer, rising more terribly, and he understood that he must be
drowned in that immensity, hundreds such as he would be drowned. But
why had he not seen this awfulness and this mysterious power at first;
why had he, mad man, rushed against it? When these ideas roared in his
head, fear seized him in presence of that mother, in presence of that
Commonwealth; for he did not recognize her features, which formerly
were so kind and so mild.

The spirit was breaking within him, and terror dwelt in his breast. At
moments he thought that another country altogether, another people,
were around him. Through the besieged walls came news of everything
that men were doing in the invaded Commonwealth, and marvellous and
astonishing things were they doing. A war of life or death against the
Swedes and traitors had begun, all the more terrible in that it had not
been foreseen by any man. The Commonwealth had begun to punish. There
was something in this of the anger of God for the insult to majesty.

When through the walls of Tykotsin came news of the siege of
Chenstohova, Radzivill, a Calvinist, was frightened; and fright did not
leave his soul from that day, for then he perceived for the first time
those mysterious waves which, after they had risen, were to swallow the
Swedes and him; then the invasion of the Swedes seemed not an invasion,
but a sacrilege, and the punishment of it inevitable. Then for the
first time the veil dropped from his eyes, and he saw the changed face
of the Commonwealth, no longer a mother, but a punishing queen.

All who had remained true to her and served with heart and soul, rose
and grew greater and greater; whoso sinned against her went down. "And
therefore it is not free to any one to think," said the prince to
himself, "of his own elevation, or that of his family, but he must
sacrifice life, strength, and love to her."

But for him it was now too late; he had nothing to sacrifice; he had no
future before him save that beyond the grave, at sight of which he
shuddered.

From the time of besieging Chenstohova, when one terrible cry was torn
from the breast of an immense country, when as if by a miracle there
was found in it a certain wonderful, hitherto unknown and not
understood power, when you would have said that a mysterious hand from
beyond this world rose in its defence, a new doubt gnawed into the soul
of the prince, and he could not free himself from the terrible thought
that God stood with that cause and that faith.

And when such thoughts roared in his head he doubted his own faith, and
then his despair passed even the measure of his sins. Temporal fall,
spiritual fall, darkness, nothingness,--behold to what he had come,
what he had gained by serving self.

And still at the beginning of the expedition from Kyedani against
Podlyasye he was full of hope. It is true that Sapyeha, a leader
inferior to him beyond comparison, had defeated him in the field, and
the rest of the squadrons left him, but he strengthened himself with
the thought that any day Boguslav might come with assistance. That
young eagle of the Radzivills would fly to him at the head of Prussian
Lutheran legions, who would not pass over to the papists like the
Lithuanian squadrons; and at once he would bend Sapyeha in two, scatter
his forces, scatter the confederates, and putting themselves on the
corpse of Lithuania, like two lions on the carcass of a deer, with
roaring alone would terrify all who might wish to tear it away from
them.

But time passed; the forces of Prince Yanush melted; even the foreign
regiments went over to the terrible Sapyeha; days passed, weeks,
months, but Boguslav came not.

At last the siege of Tykotsin began.

The Swedes, a handful of whom remained with Yanush, defended themselves
heroically; for, stained already with terrible cruelty, they saw that
even surrender would not guard them from the vengeful hands of the
Lithuanians. The prince in the beginning of the siege had still the
hope that at the last moment, perhaps, the King of Sweden himself would
move to his aid, and perhaps Pan Konyetspolski, who at the head of six
thousand cavalry was with Karl Gustav. But his hope was vain. No one
gave him a thought, no one came with assistance.

"Oh, Boguslav! Boguslav!" repeated the prince, walking through the
chambers of Tykotsin; "if you will not save a cousin, save at least a
Radzivill!"

At last in his final despair Prince Yanush resolved on taking a step at
which his pride revolted fearfully; that was to implore Prince Michael
Radzivill of Nyesvyej for rescue. This letter, however, was intercepted
on the road by Sapyeha's men; but the voevoda of Vityebsk sent to
Yanush in answer a letter which he had himself received from Prince
Michael a week before.

Prince Yanush found in it the following passage:--


"If news has come to you, gracious lord, that I intend to go with
succor to my relative, the voevoda of Vilna, believe it not, for I hold
only with those who endure in loyalty to the country and our king, and
who desire to restore the former liberties of this most illustrious
Commonwealth. This course will not, as I think, bring me to protect
traitors from just and proper punishment. Boguslav too will not come,
for, as I hear, the elector prefers to think of himself, and does not
wish to divide his forces; and _quod attinet_ (as to) Konyetspolski,
since he will pay court to Prince Yanush's widow, should she become
one, it is to his profit that the prince voevoda be destroyed with all
speed."


This letter, addressed to Sapyeha, stripped the unfortunate Yanush of
the remnant of his hope, and nothing was left him but to wait for the
accomplishment of his destiny.

The siege was hastening to its close.

News of the departure of Sapyeha passed through the wall almost that
moment; but the hope that in consequence of his departure hostile steps
would be abandoned were of short duration, for in the infantry
regiments an unusual movement was observable. Still some days passed
quietly enough, since the plan of blowing up the gate with a petard
resulted in nothing; but December 31 came, on which only the
approaching night might incommode the besiegers, for evidently they
were preparing something against the castle, at least a new attack of
cannon on the weakened walls.

The day was drawing to a close. The prince was lying in the so-called
"Corner" hall situated in the western part of the castle. In an
enormous fireplace were burning whole logs of pine wood which cast a
lively light on the white and rather empty walls. The prince was lying
on his back on a Turkish sofa, pushed out purposely into the middle of
the room, so that the warmth of the blaze might reach it. Nearer to the
fireplace, a little in the shade, slept a page, on a carpet; near the
prince were sitting, slumbering in arm-chairs, Pani Yakimovich,
formerly chief lady-in-waiting at Kyedani, another page, a physician,
also the prince's astrologer, and Kharlamp.

Kharlamp had not left the prince, though he was almost the only one of
his former officers who had remained. That was a bitter service, for
the heart and soul of the officer were outside the walls of Tykotsin,
in the camp of Sapyeha; still he remained faithful at the side of his
old leader. From hunger and watching the poor fellow had grown as thin
as a skeleton. Of his face there remained but the nose, which now
seemed still greater, and mustaches like bushes. He was clothed in
complete armor, breastplate, shoulder-pieces, and morion, with a wire
cape which came down to his shoulders. His cuirass was battered, for he
had just returned from the walls, to which he had gone to make
observations a little while before, and on which he sought death every
day. He was slumbering at the moment from weariness, though there was a
terrible rattling in the prince's breast as if he had begun to die, and
though the wind howled and whistled outside.

Suddenly short quivering began to shake the gigantic body of Radzivill,
and the rattling ceased. Those who were around him woke at once and
looked quickly, first at him and then at one another. But he said,--

"It is as if something had gone out of my breast; I feel easier."

He turned his head a little, looked carefully toward the door, at last
he said, "Kharlamp!"

"At the service of your highness!"

"What does Stahovich want here?"

The legs began to tremble under poor Kharlamp, for unterrified as he
was in battle he was superstitious in the same degree; therefore he
looked around quickly, and said in a stifled voice,--

"Stahovich is not here; your highness gave orders to shoot him at
Kyedani."

The prince closed his eyes and answered not a word.

For a time there was nothing to be heard save the doleful and
continuous howling of the wind.

"The weeping of people is heard in that wind," said the prince, again
opening his eyes in perfect consciousness. "But I did not bring in the
Swedes; it was Radzeyovski."

When no one gave answer, he said after a short time,--

"He is most to blame, he is most to blame, he is most to blame."

And a species of consolation entered his breast, as if the remembrance
rejoiced him that there was some one more guilty than he.

Soon, however, more grievous thoughts must have come to his head, for
his face grew dark, and he repeated a number of times,--

"Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!"

And again choking attacked him; a rattling began in his throat more
terrible than before. Meanwhile from without came the sound of
musketry, at first infrequent, then more frequent; but amidst the
drifting of the snow and the howling of the whirlwind they did not
sound too loudly, and it might have been thought that that was some
continual knocking at the gate.

"They are fighting!" said the prince's physician.

"As usual!" answered Kharlamp. "People are freezing in the snow-drifts,
and they wish to fight to grow warm."

"This is the sixth day of the whirlwind and the snow," answered the
doctor. "Great changes will come in the kingdom, for this is an unheard
of thing."

"God grant it!" said Kharlamp. "It cannot be worse."

Further conversation was interrupted by the prince, to whom a new
relief had come.

"Kharlamp!"

"At the service of your highness!"

"Does it seem to me so from weakness, or did Oskyerko try to blow up
the gate with a petard two days since?"

"He tried, your highness; but the Swedes seized the petards and wounded
him slightly, and Sapyeha's men were repulsed."

"If wounded slightly, then he will try again. But what day is it?"

"The last day of December, your highness."

"God be merciful to my soul! I shall not live to the New Year. Long ago
it was foretold me that every fifth year death is near me."

"God is kind, your highness."

"God is with Sapyeha," said the prince, gloomily.

All at once he looked around and said: "Cold comes to me from it. I do
not see it, but I feel that it is here."

"What is that, your highness?"

"Death!"

"In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!"

A moment of silence followed; nothing was heard but the whispered "Our
Father," repeated by Pani Yakimovich.

"Tell me," said the prince, with a broken voice, "do you believe that
outside of your faith no one can be saved?"

"Even in the moment of death it is possible to renounce errors," said
Kharlamp.

The sound of shots had become at that moment more frequent. The thunder
of cannon began to shake the windowpanes, which answered each report
with a plaintive sound.

The prince listened a certain time calmly, then rose slightly on the
pillow; his eyes began slowly to widen, his pupils to glitter. He sat
up; for a moment he held his head with his hand, then cried suddenly,
as if in bewilderment,--

"Boguslav! Boguslav! Boguslav!"

Kharlamp ran out of the room like a madman.

The whole castle trembled and quivered from the thunder of cannon.

All at once there was heard the cry of several thousand voices; then
something was torn with a ghastly smashing of walls, so that brands and
coals from the chimney were scattered on the floor. At the same time
Kharlamp rushed into the chamber.

"Sapyeha's men have blown up the gate!" cried he. "The Swedes have fled
to the tower! The enemy is here! Your highness--"

Further words died on his lips. Radzivill was sitting on the sofa with
eyes starting out; with open lips he was gulping the air, his teeth
bared like those of a dog when he snarls; he tore with his hands the
sofa on which he was sitting, and gazing with terror into the depth of
the chamber, cried, or rather gave out hoarse rattles between one
breath and another,--

"It was Radzeyovski--Not I--Save me!--What do you want? Take the
crown!--It was Radzeyovski--Save me, people! Jesus! Jesus! Mary!"

These were the last words of Radzivill.

Then a terrible coughing seized him; his eyes came out in still more
ghastly fashion from their sockets; he stretched himself out, fell on
his back, and remained motionless.

"He is dead!" said the doctor.

"He cried Mary, though a Calvinist, you have heard!" said Pani
Yakimovich.

"Throw wood on the fire!" said Kharlamp to the terrified pages.

He drew near to the corpse, closed the eyelids; then he took from his
own armor a gilded image of the Mother of God which he wore on a chain,
and placing the hands of Radzivill together on his breast, he put the
image between the dead fingers.

The light of the fire was reflected from the golden ground of the
image, and that reflection fell upon the face of the voevoda and made
it cheerful so that never had it seemed so calm.

Kharlamp sat at the side of the body, and resting his elbows on his
knees, hid his face in his hands.

The silence was broken only by the sound of shots.

All at once something terrible took place. First of all was a flash of
awful brightness; the whole world seemed turned into fire, and at the
same time there was given forth such a sound as if the earth had fallen
from under the castle. The walls tottered; the ceilings cracked with a
terrible noise; all the windows tumbled in on the floor, and the panes
were broken into hundreds of fragments. Through the empty openings of
the windows that moment clouds of snow drifted in, and the whirlwind
began to howl gloomily in the corners of the chamber.

All the people present fell to the floor on their faces, speechless
from terror.

Kharlamp rose first, and looked directly on the corpse of the voevoda;
the corpse was lying in calmness, but the gilded image had slipped a
little in the hands.

Kharlamp recovered his breath. At first he felt certain that that was
an army of Satans who had broken into the chamber for the body of the
prince.

"The word has become flesh!" said he. "The Swedes must have blown up
the tower and themselves."

But from without there came no sound. Evidently the troops of Sapyeha
were standing in dumb wonder, or perhaps in fear that the whole castle
was mined, and that there would be explosion after explosion.

"Put wood on the fire!" said Kharlamp to the pages.

Again the room was gleaming with a bright, quivering light. Round about
a deathlike stillness continued; but the fire hissed, the whirlwind
howled, and the snow rolled each moment more densely through the window
openings.

At last confused voices were heard, then the clatter of spurs and the
tramp of many feet; the door of the chamber was opened wide, and
soldiers rushed in.

It was bright from the naked sabres, and more and more figures of
knights in helmets, caps, and kolpaks crowded through the door. Many
were bearing lanterns in their hands, and they held them to the light,
advancing carefully, though it was light in the room from the fire as
well.

At last there sprang forth from the crowd a little knight all in
enamelled armor, and cried,--

"Where is the voevoda of Vilna?"

"Here!" said Kharlamp, pointing to the body lying on the sofa.

Volodyovski looked at him, and said,--

"He is not living!"

"He is not living, he is not living!" went from mouth to mouth.

"The traitor, the betrayer is not living!"

"So it is," said Kharlamp, gloomily. "But if you dishonor his body and
bear it apart with sabres, you will do ill, for before his end he
called on the Most Holy Lady, and he holds Her image in his hand."

These words made a deep impression. The shouts were hushed. Then the
soldiers began to approach, to go around the sofa, and look at the dead
man. Those who had lanterns turned the light of them on his eyes; and
he lay there, gigantic, gloomy, on his face the majesty of a hetman and
the cold dignity of death.

The soldiers came one after another, and among them the officers;
therefore Stankyevich approached, the two Skshetuskis, Horotkyevich,
Yakub Kmita, Oskyerko, and Pan Zagloba.

"It is true!" said Zagloba, in a low voice, as if he feared to rouse
the prince. "He holds in his hands the Most Holy Lady, and the shining
from Her falls on his face."

When he said this he removed his cap. That instant all the others bared
their heads. A moment of silence filled with reverence followed, which
was broken at last by Volodyovski.

"Ah!" said he, "he is before the judgment of God, and people have
nothing to do with him." Here he turned to Kharlamp: "But you,
unfortunate, why did you for his sake leave your country and king?"

"Give him this way!" called a number of voices at once.

Then Kharlamp rose, and taking off his sabre threw it with a clatter on
the floor, and said,--

"Here I am, cut me to pieces! I did not leave him with you, when he was
powerful as a king, and afterward it was not proper to leave him when
he was in misery and no one stayed with him. I have not grown fat in
his service; for three days I have had nothing in my mouth, and the
legs are bending under me. But here I am, cut me to pieces! for I
confess furthermore [here Kharlamp's voice trembled] that I loved him."

When he had said this he tottered and would have fallen; but Zagloba
opened his arms to him, caught him, supported him, and cried,--

"By the living God! Give the man food and drink!"

That touched all to the heart; therefore they took Kharlamp by the arms
and led him out of the chamber at once. Then the soldiers began to
leave it one after another, making the sign of the cross with devotion.

On the road to their quarters Zagloba was meditating over something. He
stopped, coughed, then pulled Volodyovski by the skirt. "Pan Michael,"
said he.

"Well, what?"

"My anger against Radzivill is passed; a dead man is a dead man! I
forgive him from my heart for having made an attempt on my life."

"He is before the tribunal of heaven," said Volodyovski.

"That's it, that's it! H'm, if it would help him I would even give for
a Mass, since it seems to me that he has an awfully small chance up
there."

"God is merciful!"

"As to being merciful, he is merciful; still the Lord cannot look
without abhorrence on heretics. And Radzivill was not only a heretic,
but a traitor. There is where the trouble is!"

Here Zagloba shook his head and began to look upward.

"I am afraid," said he, after a while, "that some of those Swedes who
blew themselves up will fall on my head; that they will not be received
there in heaven is certain."

"They were good men," said Pan Michael, with recognition; "they
preferred death to surrender, there are few such soldiers in the
world."

All at once Volodyovski halted: "Panna Billevich was not in the
castle," said he.

"But how do you know?"

"I asked those pages. Boguslav took her to Taurogi."

"El!" said Zagloba, "that was as if to confide a kid to a wolf. But it
is not your affair; your predestined is that kernel!"



                              CHAPTER XVI.


Lvoff from the moment of the king's arrival was turned into a real
capital of the Commonwealth. Together with the king came the greater
part of the bishops from the whole country and all those lay senators
who had not served the enemy. The calls already issued summoned also to
arms the nobles of Rus and of the remoter adjoining provinces, they
came in numbers and armed with the greater ease because the Swedes had
not been in those regions. Eyes were opened and hearts rose at sight of
this general militia, for it reminded one in nothing of that of Great
Poland, which at Uistsie offered such weak opposition to the enemy. On
the contrary, in this case marched a warlike and terrible nobility,
reared from childhood on horseback and in the field, amidst continual
attacks of wild Tartars, accustomed to bloodshed and burning, better
masters of the sabre than of Latin. These nobles were in fresh training
yet from Hmelnitski's uprising, which lasted seven years without
interval, so that there was not a man among them who was not as many
times in fire as he had years of life. New swarms of these were
arriving continually in Lvoff: some had marched from the Byeshchadi
full of precipices, others from the Pruth, the Dniester, and the
Seret; some lived on the steep banks of the Dniester, some on the
wide-spreading Bug; some on the Sinyuha had not been destroyed from the
face of the earth by peasant incursions; some had been left on the
Tartar boundaries;--all these hurried at the call of the king to the
city of the Lion,[3] some to march thence against an enemy as yet
unknown. The nobles came in from Volynia and from more distant
provinces, such hatred was kindled in all souls by the terrible tidings
that the enemy had raised sacrilegious hands on the Patroness of the
Commonwealth in Chenstohova.

And the Cossacks dared not raise obstacles, for the hearts were moved
in the most hardened, and besides, they were forced by the Tartars to
beat with the forehead to the king, and to renew for the hundredth time
their oath of loyalty. A Tartar embassy, dangerous to the enemies of
the king, was in Lvoff under the leadership of Suba Gazi Bey, offering,
in the name of the Khan, a horde a hundred thousand strong to assist
the Commonwealth; of these forty thousand from near Kamenyets could
take the field at once.

Besides the Tartar embassy a legation had come from Transylvania to
carry through negotiations begun with Rakotsy concerning succession to
the throne. The ambassador of the emperor was present; so was the papal
nuncio, who had come with the king. Every day deputations arrived from
the armies of the kingdom and Lithuania, from provinces and lands, with
declarations of loyalty, and a wish to defend to the death the invaded
country.

The fortunes of the king increased; the Commonwealth, crushed
altogether so recently, was rising before the eyes of all to the wonder
of ages and nations. The souls of men were inflamed with thirst for war
and retaliation, and at the same time they grew strong. And as in
spring-time a warm generous rain melts the snow, so mighty hope melted
doubt. Not only did they wish for victory, but they believed in it. New
and favorable tidings came in continually; though often untrue, they
passed from mouth to mouth. Time after time men told now of castles
recovered, now of battles in which unknown regiments under leaders
hitherto unknown had crushed the Swedes, now of terrible clouds of
peasants sweeping along, like locusts, against the enemy. The name of
Stefan Charnyetski was more and more frequent on every lip.

The details in these tidings were often untrue, but taken together they
reflected as a mirror what was being done in the whole country.

But in Lvoff reigned as it were a continual holiday. When the king came
the city greeted him solemnly, the clergy of the three rites, the
councillors of the city, the merchants, the guilds. On the squares and
streets, wherever an eye was cast, banners, white, sapphire, purple,
and gilded, were waving. The Lvoff people raised proudly their golden
lion on a blue field, recalling with self-praise the scarcely passed
Cossack and Tartar attacks.

At every appearance of the king a shout was raised among the crowds,
and crowds were never lacking.

The population doubled in recent days. Besides senators and bishops,
besides nobles, flowed in throngs of peasants also, for the news had
spread that the king intended to improve their condition. Therefore
rustic coats and horse-blankets were mingled with the yellow coats of
the townspeople. The mercantile Armenians with their swarthy faces put
up booths for merchandise and arms which the assembled nobles bought
willingly.

There were many Tartars also with the embassy; there were Hungarians,
Wallachians, and Austrians,--a multitude of people, a multitude of
troops, a multitude of different kinds of faces, many strange garments
in colors brilliant and varied, troops of court servants, hence
gigantic grooms, haiduks, janissaries, red Cossacks, messengers in
foreign costume.

The streets were filled from morning till evening with the noise of
men, now passing squadrons of a quota, now divisions of mounted nobles,
the cries of command, the shining of armor and naked sabres, the
neighing of horses, the rumble of cannon, and songs full of threatening
and curses for the Swedes.

The bells in the churches, Polish, Russian, and Armenian, were tolling
continually, announcing to all that the king was in the city, and that
Lvoff, to its eternal praise, was the first of the capitals that had
received the king, the exile.

They beat to him with the forehead; wherever he appeared caps flew
upward, and shouts of "Vivat!" shook the air. They beat with the
forehead also before the carriages of bishops, who through the windows
blessed the assembled throngs; they bowed to and applauded senators,
honoring in them loyalty to the king and country.

So the whole city was seething. At night they even burned on the square
piles of wood, at which in spite of cold and frost those men were
encamped who could not find lodgings because of the excessive
multitude.

The king spent whole days in consultation with senators. Audience was
given to foreign embassies, to deputations from provinces and troops;
methods of filling the empty treasury with money were considered; all
means were used to rouse war wherever it had not flamed up already.

Couriers were flying to the most important towns in every part of the
Commonwealth, to distant Prussia, to sacred Jmud, to Tyshovtsi, to the
hetmans, to Sapyeha, who after the storming of Tykotsin took his army
to the south with forced marches; couriers went also to Konyetspolski,
who was still with the Swedes. Where it was needful money was sent; the
slothful were roused with manifestoes.

The king recognized, consecrated, and confirmed the confederation of
Tyshovtsi and joined it himself; taking the direction of all affairs
into his untiring hands, he labored from morning till night, esteeming
the Commonwealth more than his own rest, his own health.

But this was not the limit of his efforts; for he had determined to
conclude in his own name and the name of the estates a league such that
no earthly power, could overcome,--a league which in future might serve
to reform the Commonwealth.

The moment for this had come at last.

The secret must have escaped from the senators to the nobles, and from
the nobles to the peasants, for since morning it had been said that at
the hour of services something important would happen,--that the king
would make some solemn vow, concerning, as was said, the condition of
the peasants and a confederation with heaven. There were persons,
however, who asserted that these were incredible things, without an
example in history; but curiosity was excited, and everywhere something
was looked for.

The day was frosty, clear; tiny flakes of snow were flying through the
air, glittering like sparks. The land infantry of Lvoff and the
district of Jidache, in blue half shubas, hemmed with gold, and half a
Hungarian regiment were drawn out in a long line before the cathedral,
holding their muskets at their feet in front of them; officers passed
up and down with staffs in their hands. Between these two lines a
many-colored throng flowed into the church, like a river. In front
nobles and knights, after them the senate of the city, with gilded
chains on their necks, and tapers in their hands. They were led by the
mayor, a physician noted throughout the whole province; he was dressed
in a black velvet toga, and wore a calotte. After the senate went
merchants, and among them many Armenians with green and gold skull-caps
on their heads, and wearing roomy Eastern gowns. These, though
belonging to a special rite, went with the others to represent the
estate. After the merchants came, with their banners, the guilds, such
as butchers, bakers, tailors, goldsmiths, confectioners, embroiderers,
linen-drapers, tanners, mead-boilers, and a number of others yet; from
each company representatives went with their own banner, which was
borne by a man the most distinguished of all for beauty. Then came
various brotherhoods and the common throng in coats, in sheepskins, in
horse-blankets, in homespun; dwellers in the suburbs, peasants.
Admittance was barred to no one till the church was packed closely with
people of all ranks and both sexes.

At last carriages began to arrive; but they avoided the main door, for
the king, the bishops, and the dignitaries had a special entrance
nearer the high altar. Every moment the troops presented arms; at last
the soldiers dropped their muskets to their feet, and blew on their
chilled hands, throwing out clouds of steam from their breasts.

The king came with the nuncio, Vidon; then arrived the archbishop of
Gnyezno and the bishop, Prince Chartoryski; next appeared the bishop of
Cracow, the archbishop of Lvoff, the grand chancellor of the kingdom,
many voevodas and castellans. All these vanished through the side door;
and their carriages, retinues, equerries, and attendants of every
description formed as it were a new army, standing at the side of the
cathedral.

Mass was celebrated by the apostolic nuncio, Vidon, arrayed in purple,
in a white chasuble embroidered with pearls and gold.

For the king a kneeling-stool was placed between the great altar and
the pews; before the kneeling-stool was a Turkish sofa. The church
arm-chairs were occupied by bishops and lay senators.

Many colored rays, passing through the windows, joined with the gleam
of candles, with which the altar seemed burning, and fell upon the
faces of senators in the church chairs, on the white beards, on the
imposing forms, on golden chains, on violet velvet. You would have
said, "A Roman senate!" such was the majesty and dignity of these old
men. Here and there among gray heads was to be seen the face of a
warrior senator; here and there gleamed the blond head of a youthful
lord. All eyes were fixed on the altar, all were praying; the flames of
the candles were glittering and quivering; the smoke from the censers
was playing and curling in the bright air. The body of the church was
packed with heads, and over the heads a rainbow of banners was playing,
like a rainbow of flowers.

The majesty of the king, Yan Kazimir, prostrated itself, according to
his custom, in the form of a cross, and humiliated itself before the
majesty of God. At last the nuncio brought from the tabernacle a
chalice, and bearing it before him approached the kneeling-stool, then
the king raised himself with a brighter face, the voice of the nuncio
was heard: "_Ecce Agnus Dei_ (Behold the Lamb of God)," and the king
received communion.

For a time he remained kneeling, with inclined head; at last he rose,
turned his eyes toward heaven, and stretched out both hands.

There was sudden silence in the church, so that breathing was not
audible. All divined that the moment had come, and that the king would
make some vow; all listened with collected spirit. But he stood with
outstretched arms; at last, with a voice filled with emotion, but as
far reaching as a bell, he began to speak,--

"O Great Mother of Divine humanity, and Virgin! I, Yan Kazimir, king by
the favor of Thy Son, King of kings and my Lord, and by Thy favor
approaching Thy Most Holy feet, form this, the following pact. I to-day
choose Thee my Patroness and Queen of my dominions. I commit to Thy
special guardianship and protection myself, my Polish kingdom, the
Grand Principality of Lithuania, Russia, Prussia, Mazovia, Jmud,
Livland, and Chernigov, the armies of both nations and all common
people. I beg obediently Thy aid and favor against enemies in the
present affliction of my kingdom."

Here the king fell on his knees and was silent for a time. In the
church a deathlike stillness continued unbroken; then rising he spoke
on,--

"And constrained by Thy great benefactions, I, with the Polish people,
am drawn to a new and ardent bond of service to Thee. I promise Thee in
my own name and in the names of my ministers, senators, nobles, and
people, to extend honor and glory to Thy Son, Jesus Christ, Our
Saviour, through all regions of the Polish kingdom; to make a promise
that when, with the mercy of Thy Son, I obtain victory over the Swedes,
I will endeavor that an anniversary be celebrated solemnly in my
kingdom to the end of the world, in memory of the favor of God, and of
Thee, O Most Holy Virgin."

Here he ceased again and knelt. In the church there was a murmur; but
the voice of the king stopped it quickly, and though he trembled this
time with penitence and emotion, he continued still more distinctly,--

"And since, with great sorrow of heart, I confess that I endure from
God just punishment, which is afflicting us all in my kingdom with
various plagues for seven years, because poor, simple tillers of the
soil groan in suffering, oppressed by the soldiery, I bind myself on
the conclusion of peace to use earnest efforts, together with the
estates of the Commonwealth, to free suffering peasants from every
cruelty, in which, O Mother of Mercy, Queen, and my Lady, since Thou
hast inspired me to make this vow, obtain for me, by grace of Thy
mercy, aid from Thy Son to accomplish what I here promise."

These words of the king were heard by the clergy, the senators, the
nobles, and the common people. A great wail was raised in the church,
which came first from hearts of the peasants; it burst forth from them,
and then became universal. All raised their hands to heaven; weeping
voices repeated, "Amen, amen, amen!" in testimony that they had joined
their feelings and vows with the promise of the king. Enthusiasm seized
their hearts, and at that moment made them brothers in love for the
Commonwealth and its Patroness. Indescribable joy shone on their faces
like a clear flame, and in all that church there was no one who doubted
that God would overwhelm the Swedes.

After that service the king, amid the thunder of musketry and cannon
and mighty shouts of "Victory! victory! may he live!" went to the
castle, and there he confirmed the heavenly confederation together with
that of Tyshovtsi.



                             CHAPTER XVII.


After these solemnities various tidings flew into Lvoff like winged
birds. There were older and fresh tidings more or less favorable, but
all increased courage. First the confederation of Tyshovtsi grew like a
conflagration; every one living joined it, nobles as well as peasants.
Towns furnished wagons, firearms, and infantry; the Jews money. No one
dared to oppose the manifestoes; the most indolent mounted. There came
also a terrible manifesto from Wittemberg, turned against the
confederation. Fire and sword were to punish those who joined it. This
manifesto produced the same effect as if a man tried to quench flames
with powder. The manifesto, with the knowledge assuredly of the king,
and to rouse hatred more thoroughly against the Swedes, was scattered
through Lvoff in great numbers, and it is not becoming to state what
common people did with the copies; it suffices to say that the wind
bore them terribly dishonored through the streets of the city, and the
students showed, to the delight of crowds, "Wittemberg's Confusion,"
singing at the same time the song beginning with these words,--


                 "O Wittemberg, poor man,
                  Race across over the sea,
                        Like a hare!
                  But when thy buttons are lost
                  Thou wilt drop down thy trousers,
                        While racing away!"


And Wittemberg, as if making the words of the song true, gave up his
command in Cracow to the valiant Wirtz, and betook himself hurriedly to
Elblang, where the King of Sweden was sojourning with the queen,
spending his time at feasts, and rejoicing in his heart that he had
become the lord of such an illustrious kingdom.

Accounts came also to Lvoff of the fall of Tykotsin, and minds were
gladdened. It was strange that men had begun to speak of that event
before a courier had come; only they did not say whether Radzivill had
died or was in captivity. It was asserted, however, that Sapyeha, at
the head of a considerable force, had gone from Podlyasye to Lyubelsk
to join the hetmans; that on the road he was beating the Swedes and
growing in power every day.

At last envoys came from Sapyeha himself in a considerable number, for
the voevoda had sent neither less nor more than one whole squadron to
be at the disposal of the king, desiring in this way to show honor to
the sovereign, to secure his person from every possible accident, and
perhaps specially to increase his significance.

The squadron was brought by Volodyovski, well known to the king; so Yan
Kazimir gave command that he should stand at once in his presence, and
taking Pan Michael's head between his hands, he said,--

"I greet thee, famous soldier! Much water has flowed down since we lost
sight of thee. I think that we saw thee last at Berestechko, all
covered with blood."

Pan Michael bent to the knees of the king, and said,--

"It was later, in Warsaw, Gracious Lord; also in the castle with the
present castellan of Kieff, Pan Charnyetski."

"But are you serving all the time? Had you no desire to enjoy leisure
at home?"

"No; for the Commonwealth was in need, and besides, in these public
commotions my property has been lost. I have no place in which to put
my head, Gracious Lord; but I am not sorry for myself, thinking that
the first duty of a soldier is to the king and the country."

"Ah, would there were more such! The enemy would not be so rich. God
grant the time for rewards will come; but now tell me what you have
done with the voevoda of Vilna?"

"The voevoda of Vilna is before the judgment of God. The soul went out
of him just as we were going to the final storm."

"How was that?"

"Here is Pan Sapyeha's report," said Volodyovski.

The king took Sapyeha's letter and began to read; he had barely begun
when he stopped.

"Pan Sapyeha is mistaken," said he, "when he writes that the grand
baton of Lithuania is unoccupied; it is not, for I give it to him."

"There is no one more worthy," said Pan Michael, "and to your Royal
Grace the whole army will be grateful till death for this deed."

The king smiled at the simple soldierly confidence, and read on. After
a while he sighed, and said,--

"Radzivill might have been the first pearl in this glorious kingdom, if
pride and the errors which he committed had not withered his soul. It
is accomplished! Inscrutable are the decisions of God! Radzivill and
Opalinski--almost in the same hour! Judge them, O Lord, not according
to their sins, but according to Thy mercy."

Silence followed; then the king again began to read.

"We are thankful to the voevoda," said he, when he had finished, "for
sending a whole squadron and under the greatest cavalier, as he writes.
But I am safe here; and cavaliers, especially such as you, are more
needed in the field. Rest a little, and then I will send you to assist
Charnyetski, for on him evidently the greatest pressure will be
turned."

"We have rested enough already at Tykotsin, Gracious Lord," said the
little knight, with enthusiasm; "if our horses were fed a little, we
might move to-day, for with Charnyetski there will be unspeakable
delights. It is a great happiness to look on the face of our gracious
lord, but we are anxious to see the Swedes."

The king grew radiant. A fatherly kindness appeared on his face, and he
said, looking with pleasure on the sulphurous figure of the little
knight,--

"You were the first little soldier to throw the baton of a colonel at
the feet of the late prince voevoda."

"Not the first, your Royal Grace; but it was the first, and God grant
the last, time for me to act against military discipline." Pan Michael
stopped, and after a while added, "It was impossible to do otherwise."

"Certainly," said the king. "That was a grievous hour for those who
understood military duty; but obedience must have its limits, beyond
which guilt begins. Did many officers remain in with Radzivill?"

"In Tykotsin we found only one officer, Pan Kharlamp, who did not leave
the prince at once, and who did not wish afterward to desert him in
misery. Compassion alone kept Kharlamp with Radzivill, for natural
affection drew him to us. We were barely able to restore him to health,
such hunger had there been in Tykotsin, and he took the food from his
own mouth to nourish the prince. He has come here to Lvoff to implore
pardon of your Royal Grace, and I too fall at your feet for him; he is
a tried and good soldier."

"Let him come hither," said the king.

"He has also something important to tell, which he heard in Kyedani
from the mouth of Prince Boguslav, and which relates to the person of
your Royal Grace, which is sacred to us."

"Is this about Kmita?"

"Yes, Gracious Lord."

"Did you know Kmita?"

"I knew him and fought with him; but where he is now, I know not."

"What do you think of him?"

"Gracious Lord, since he undertook such a deed there are no torments of
which he is not worthy, for he is an abortion of hell."

"That story is untrue," said the king; "it is all an invention of
Prince Boguslav. But putting that affair aside, what do you know of
Kmita in times previous?"

"He was always a great soldier, and in military affairs incomparable.
He used to steal up to Hovanski so that with a few hundred people he
brought the whole force of the enemy to misery; no other man could have
done that. It is a miracle that the skin was not torn from him and
stretched over a drum. If at that time some one had placed Prince
Radzivill himself in the hands of Hovanski, he would not have given him
so much pleasure as he would had he made him a present of Kmita. Why!
it went so far that Kmita ate out of Hovanski's camp-chests, slept on
his rugs, rode in his sleighs and on his horse. But he was an
infliction on his own people too, terribly self-willed; like Pan
Lashch, he might have lined his cloak with sentences, and in Kyedani he
was lost altogether."

Here Volodyovski related in detail all that had happened in Kyedani.

Yan Kazimir listened eagerly, and when at last Pan Michael told how
Zagloba had freed first himself and then all his comrades from
Radzivill's captivity, the king held his sides from laughter.

"_Vir incomparabilis! vir incomparabilis_ (an incomparable man)!" he
repeated. "But is he here with you?"

"At the command of your Royal Grace!" answered Volodyovski.

"That noble surpasses Ulysses! Bring him to me to dinner for a pleasant
hour, and also the Skshetuskis; and now toll me what you know more of
Kmita."

"From letters found on Roh Kovalski we learned that we were sent to
Birji to die. The prince pursued us afterward and tried to surround us,
but he did not take us. We escaped luckily. And that was not all, for
not far from Kyedani we caught Kmita, whom I sent at once to be shot."

"Oh!" said the king, "I see that you had sharp work there in
Lithuania."

"But first Pan Zagloba had him searched to find letters on his person.
In fact, a letter from the hetman was found, in which we learned that
had it not been for Kmita we should not have been taken to Birji, but
would have been shot without delay in Kyedani."

"But you see!" said the king.

"In view of that we could not take his life. We let him go. What he did
further I know not, but he did not leave Radzivill at that time. God
knows what kind of man he is. It is easier to form an opinion of any
one else than of such a whirlwind. He remained with Radzivill and then
went somewhere. Later he warned us that the prince was marching from
Kyedani. It is hard to belittle the notable service he did us, for had
it not been for that warning Radzivill would have fallen on unprepared
troops, and destroyed the squadrons one after the other. I know not
myself, Gracious Lord, what to think,--whether that was a calumny which
Prince Boguslav uttered."

"That will appear at once," said the king; and he clapped his hands.
"Call hither Pan Babinich!" said he to a page who appeared on the
threshold.

The page vanished, and soon the door of the king's chamber opened, and
in it stood Pan Andrei. Volodyovski did not know him at once, for he
had changed greatly and grown pale, as he had not recovered from the
struggle in the pass. Pan Michael therefore looked at him without
recognition.

"It is a wonder," said he at last; "were it not for the thinness of
lips and because your Royal Grace gives another name, I should say this
is Pan Kmita."

The king smiled and said,--

"This little knight has just told me of a terrible disturber of that
name, but I explained as on my palm that he was deceived in his
judgment, and I am sure that Pan Babinich will confirm what I say."

"Gracious Lord," answered Babinich, quickly, "one word from your grace
will clear that disturber more than my greatest oath."

"And the voice is the same," said Pan Michael, with growing
astonishment; "but that wound across the mouth was not there."

"Worthy sir," answered Kmita, "the head of a noble is a register on
which sometimes a man's hand writes with a sabre. And here is your
note; recognize it."

He bowed his head, shaven at the sides, and pointed at the long whitish
scar.

"My hand!" cried Volodyovski.

"But I say that you do not know Kmita," put in the king.

"How is that, Gracious Lord?"

"For you know a great soldier, but a self-willed one, an associate in
the treason of Radzivill. But here stands the Hector of Chenstohova, to
whom, next to Kordetski, Yasna Gora owes most; here stands the defender
of the country and my faithful servant, who covered me with his own
breast and saved my life when in the pass I had fallen among the Swedes
as among wolves. Such is this new Kmita. Know him and love him, for he
deserves it."

Volodyovski began to move his yellow mustaches, not knowing what to
say; and the king added,--

"And know that not only did he promise Prince Boguslav nothing, but he
began on him the punishment for Radzivill intrigues, for he seized him
and intended to give him into your hands."

"And he warned us against Prince Yanush!" cried Volodyovski. "What
angel converted you?"

"Embrace each other!" said the king.

"I loved you at once!" said Kmita to Volodyovski.

Then they fell into each other's embraces, and the king looked on them
and pursed out his lips with delight, time after time, as was his
habit. But Kmita embraced the little knight with such feeling that he
raised him as he would a cat, and not soon did he place him back on his
feet.

Then the king went to the daily council, for the two hetmans of the
kingdom had come to Lvoff, they were to form the army there, and lead
it later to the aid of Charnyetski, and the confederate divisions
marching, under various leaders, throughout the country.

The knights were alone.

"Come to my quarters," said Volodyovski; "you will find there Pan Yan,
Pan Stanislav, and Zagloba, who will be glad to hear what the king has
told me. There too is Kharlamp."

But Kmita approached the little knight with great disquiet on his face.
"Did you find many people with Radzivill?" asked he.

"Of officers, Kharlamp alone was there."

"I do not ask about the military, but about women."

"I know what you mean," answered Pan Michael, flushing somewhat.
"Prince Boguslav took Panna Billevich to Taurogi."

Kmita's face changed at once; first it was pale as a parchment, then
purple, and again whiter than before. He did not find words at once;
but his nostrils quivered while he was catching breath, which
apparently failed in his breast. Then he seized his temples with both
hands, and running through the room like a madman, began to repeat,--

"Woe to me, woe, woe!"

"Come! Kharlamp will tell you better, for he was present," said
Volodyovski.



                             CHAPTER XVIII.


When they had left the king's chamber the two knights walked on in
silence. Volodyovski did not wish to speak; Kmita was unable to utter a
word, for pain and rage were gnawing him. They broke through the crowds
of people who had collected in great numbers on the streets in
consequence of tidings that the first detachment of the Tartars
promised by the Khan had arrived, and was to enter the city to be
presented to the king. The little knight led on; Kmita hastened after
him like one beside himself, with his cap pulled over his eyes and
stumbling against men on the way.

When they had come to a more spacious place Pan Michael seized Kmita by
the wrist and said,--

"Control yourself! Despair will do nothing."

"I am not in despair," answered Kmita, "but I want his blood."

"You may be sure to find him among the enemies of the country."

"So much the better," answered Kmita, feverishly; "but even should I
find him in a church--"

"In God's name, do not commit sacrilege!" interrupted the little
colonel, quickly.

"That traitor will bring me to sin."

They were silent for a time. Then Kmita asked, "Where is he now?"

"Maybe in Taurogi, and maybe not. Kharlamp will know better."

"Let us go."

"It is not far. The squadron is outside the town, but we are here; and
Kharlamp is with us."

Then Kmita began to breathe heavily like a man going up a steep
mountain. "I am fearfully weak yet," said he.

"You need moderation all the more, since you will have to deal with
such a knight."

"I had him once, and here is what remained." Kmita pointed to the scar
on his face.

"Tell me how it was, for the king barely mentioned it."

Kmita began to tell; and though he gritted his teeth, and even threw
his cap on the ground, still his mind escaped from misfortune, and he
calmed himself somewhat.

"I knew that you were daring," said Volodyovski; "but to carry off
Radzivill from the middle of his own squadron, I did not expect that,
even of you."

Meanwhile they arrived at the quarters. Pan Yan and Pan Stanislav,
Zagloba, Jendzian, and Kharlamp were looking at Crimean coats made of
sheepskin, which a trading Tartar had brought. Kharlamp, who knew Kmita
better, recognized him at one glance of the eye, and dropping the coat
exclaimed,--

"Jesus, Mary!"

"May the name of the Lord be praised!" cried Jendzian.

But before all had recovered breath after the wonder, Volodyovski
said,--

"I present to you, gentlemen, the Hector of Chenstohova, the faithful
servant of the king, who has shed his blood for the faith, the country,
and the sovereign."

When astonishment had grown still greater, the worthy Pan Michael began
to relate with enthusiasm what he had heard from the king of Kmita's
services, and from Pan Andrei himself of the seizure of Prince
Boguslav; at last he finished thus,--

"Not only is what Prince Boguslav told of this knight not true, but the
prince has no greater enemy than Pan Kmita, and therefore he has taken
Panna Billevich from Kyedani, so as to pour out on him in some way his
vengeance."

"And this cavalier has saved our lives and warned the confederates
against Prince Yanush," cried Zagloba. "In view of such services,
previous offences are nothing. As God lives, it is well that he came to
us with you. Pan Michael, and not alone; it is well also that our
squadron is outside the city, for there is a terrible hatred against
him among the Lauda men, and before he could have uttered a syllable
they would have cut him to pieces."

"We greet you with full hearts as a brother and future comrade," said
Pan Yan.

Kharlamp seized his head.

"Such men never sink," said he; "they swim out on every side, and
besides bring glory to the shore."

"Did I not tell you that?" cried Zagloba. "The minute I saw him in
Kyedani I thought at once, 'That is a soldier, a man of courage.' And
you remember that we fell to kissing each other straightway. It is true
that Radzivill was ruined through me, but also through him. God
inspired me in Billeviche not to let him be shot. Worthy gentlemen, it
is not becoming to give a dry reception to a cavalier like him; he may
think that we are hypocrites."

When he heard this Jendzian packed off the Tartar with his coats, and
bustled around with the servant to get drinks.

But Kmita was thinking only how to hear most quickly from Kharlamp
about the removal of Olenka.

"Where were you then?" asked he.

"I scarcely ever left Kyedani," answered Great Nose. "Prince Boguslav
came to our prince voevoda. He so dressed himself for supper that one's
eyes ached in looking at him; it was clear that Panna Billevich had
pleased him mightily, for he was almost purring from pleasure, like a
cat rubbed on the back. It is said that a cat repeats prayers, but if
Boguslav prayed he was praising the devil. Oh, but he was agreeable,
and sweet and pleasant spoken."

"Let that go!" said Pan Michael, "you cause too great pain to the
knight."

"On the contrary. Speak! speak!" cried Kmita.

"He said then at table," continued Kharlamp, "that it was no derogation
even to a Radzivill to marry the daughter of a common noble, and that
he himself would prefer such a lady to one of those princesses whom the
King and Queen of France wished to give him, and whose names I cannot
remember, for they sounded as when a man is calling hounds in the
forest."

"Less of that!" said Zagloba.

"He said it evidently to captivate the lady; we, knowing that, began
one after another to look and mutter, thinking truly that he was
setting traps for the innocent."

"But she? but she?" asked Kmita, feverishly.

"She, like a maiden of high blood and lofty bearing, showed no
satisfaction, did not look at him; but when Boguslav began to talk
about you, she fixed her eyes on him quickly. It is terrible what
happened when he said that you offered for so many ducats to seize the
king and deliver him dead or alive to the Swedes. We thought the soul
would go out of her; but her anger against you was so great that it
overcame her woman's weakness. When he told with what disgust he had
rejected your offer, she began to respect him, and look at him
thankfully; afterward she did not withdraw her hand from him when he
wished to escort her from the table."

Kmita covered his eyes with his hands. "Strike, strike, whoso believes
in God!" said he. Suddenly he sprang from his place. "Farewell,
gentlemen!"

"How is this? Whither?" asked Zagloba, stopping the way.

"The king will give me permission; I will go and find him," said Kmita.

"By God's wounds, wait! You have not yet learned all, and to find him
there is time. With whom will you go? Where will you find him?"

Kmita perhaps might not have obeyed, but strength failed him; he was
exhausted from wounds, therefore he dropped on the bench, and resting
his shoulders against the wall, closed his eyes. Zagloba gave him a
glass of wine; he seized it with trembling bands, and spilling some on
his beard and breast, drained it to the bottom.

"There is nothing lost," said Pan Yan; "but the greatest prudence is
needed, for you have an affair with a celebrated man. Through hurried
action and sudden impulse you may ruin Panna Billevich and yourself."

"Hear Kharlamp to the end," said Zagloba.

Kmita gritted his teeth. "I am listening with patience."

"Whether the lady went willingly I know not," said Kharlamp, "for I was
not present at her departure. I know that the sword-bearer of Rossyeni
protested when they urged him previously; then they shut him up in the
barracks, and finally he was allowed to go to Billeviche without
hindrance. The lady is in evil hands; this cannot be concealed, for
according to what they say of the young prince no Mussulman has such
greed of the fair sex. If any fair head strikes his eye, though she be
married, he is ready to disregard even that."

"Woe! woe!" repeated Kmita.

"The scoundrel!" cried Zagloba.

"But it is a wonder to me that the prince voevoda gave her to
Boguslav," said Pan Yan.

"I am not a statesman, therefore I repeat only what the officers said,
and namely Ganhoff, who knew all the secrets of the prince; I heard
with my own ears how some one cried out in his presence, 'Kmita will
have nothing after our young prince!' and Ganhoff answered, 'There is
more of politics in this removal than love. Prince Boguslav,' said he,
'lets no one off; but if the lady resists he will not be able to treat
her like others, in Taurogi, for a noise would be made. Yanush's
princess is living there with her daughter; therefore Boguslav must be
very careful, for he seeks the hand of his cousin. It will be hard for
him to simulate virtue,' said he, 'but he must in Taurogi.'"

"A stone has of course fallen from your heart," cried Zagloba, "for
from this it is clear that nothing threatens the lady."

"But why did they take her away?" cried Kmita.

"It is well that you turn to me," said Zagloba, "for I reason out
quickly more than one thing over which another would break his head for
a whole year in vain. Why did he take her away? I do not deny that she
must have struck his eye; but he took her away to restrain through her
all the Billeviches, who are numerous and powerful, from rising against
the Radzivills."

"That may be!" said Kharlamp. "It is certain that in Taurogi he must
curb himself greatly; there he cannot go to extremes."

"Where is he now?"

"The prince voevoda supposed in Tykotsin that he must be at Elblang
with the King of Sweden, to whom he had to go for reinforcements. It is
certain that he is not in Taurogi at present, for envoys did not find
him there."

Here Kharlamp turned to Kmita. "If you wish to listen to a simple
soldier I will tell you what I think. If any misadventure has happened
to Panna Billevich in Taurogi, or if the prince has been able to arouse
in her affection, you have no reason to go; but if not, if she is with
Yanush's widow and will go with her to Courland, it will be safer there
than elsewhere, and a better place could not be found for her in this
whole Commonwealth, covered with the flame of war."

"If you are a man of such courage as they say, and as I myself think,"
added Pan Yan, "you have first to get Boguslav, and when you have him
in your hands, you have all."

"Where is he now?" repeated Kmita, turning to Kharlamp.

"I have told you already," answered Great Nose, "but you are forgetful
from sorrow; I suppose that he is in Elblang, and certainly will take
the field with Karl Gustav against Charnyetski."

"You will do best if you go with us to Charnyetski, for in this way you
will soon meet Boguslav," said Volodyovski.

"I thank you, gentlemen, for kindly advice," cried Kmita. And he began
to take hasty farewell of all, and they did not detain him, knowing
that a suffering man is not good for the cup or for converse; but Pan
Michael said,--

"I will attend you to the archbishop's palace, for you are so reduced
that you may fall somewhere on the street."

"And I!" said Pan Yan.

"Then we will all go!" put in Zagloba.

They girded on their sabres, put on warm burkas, and went out. On the
streets there were still more people than before. Every moment the
knights met groups of armed nobles, soldiers, servants of magnates and
nobles, Armenians, Jews, Wallachians, Russian peasants from the suburbs
burned during the two attacks of Hmelnitski.

Merchants were standing before their shops; the windows of the houses
were filled with heads of curious people. All were repeating that the
chambul had come, and would soon march through the city to be presented
to the king. Every living person wished to see that chambul, for it was
a great rarity to look on Tartars marching in peace through the streets
of a city. In other temper had Lvoff seen these guests hitherto; the
city had seen them only beyond the walls, in the form of impenetrable
clouds on the background of flaming suburbs and neighboring villages.
Now they were to march in as allies against Sweden. Our knights were
barely able to open a way for themselves through the throng. Every
moment there were cries; "They are coming, they are coming!" People ran
from street to street, and were packed in such masses that not a step
forward was possible.

"Ha!" said Zagloba, "let us stop a little, Pan Michael. They will
remind us of the near past, for we did not look sidewise but straight
into the eyes of these bull-drivers. And I too have been in captivity
among them. They say that the future Khan is as much like me as one cup
is like another. But why talk of past follies?"

"They are coming, they are coming!" cried the people again.

"God has changed the hearts of the dog-brothers," continued Zagloba,
"so that instead of ravaging the Russian borders they come to aid us.
This is a clear miracle! For I tell you that if for every pagan whom
this old hand has sent to hell, one of my sins had been forgiven, I
should be canonized now, and people would have to fast on the eve of my
festival, or I should have been swept up living to heaven in a chariot
of fire."

"And do you remember," asked Volodyovski, "how it was with them when
they were returning from the Valadynka from Rashkoff to Zbaraj?"

"Of course I do, Pan Michael; but somehow you fell into a hole, and I
chased through the thick wood to the high-road. And when we came back
to find you, the knights could not restrain their astonishment, for at
each bush lay a dead beast of a Tartar."

Pan Volodyovski remembered that at the time in question it was just the
opposite; but he said nothing, for he was wonderfully astonished, and
before he could recover breath voices were shouting for the tenth time;
"They are coming, they are coming!"

The shout became general; then there was silence, and all heads were
turned in the direction from which the chambul was to come. Now
piercing music was heard in the distance, the crowds began to open from
the middle of the street toward the walls of the houses, and from the
end appeared the first Tartar horsemen.

"See! they have a band even; that is uncommon with Tartars!"

"They wish to make the best impression," said Pan Yan; "but still some
chambuls after they have lived long in camp, have their own musicians.
That must be a choice body."

Meanwhile the horsemen had come up and begun to ride past. In front on
a pied horse sat a Tartar holding two pipes in his mouth, and as tawny
as if he had been dried and smoked. Bending his head backward and
closing his eyes, he ran his fingers over those pipes, obtaining from
them notes squeaking, sharp, and so quick that the ear could barely
catch them. After him rode two others holding staffs furnished at the
ends with brass rattles, and they were shaking these rattles as if in
frenzy; farther back some were making shrill sounds with brass plates,
some were beating drums, while others were playing in Cossack fashion
on teorbans; and all, with the exception of the pipers were singing, or
rather howling, from moment to moment, a wild song, at the same time
showing their teeth and rolling their eyes. After that chaotic music,
which went like a brawl past the dwellers in Lvoff, clattered horses
four abreast; the whole party was made up of about four hundred men.

This was in fact a chosen body, as a specimen, and to do honor to the
King of Poland, for his own use, and as an earnest sent by the Khan.
They were led by Akbah Ulan, of the Dobrudja, therefore of the
sturdiest Tartars in battle, an old and experienced warrior, greatly
respected in the Uluses (Tartar villages), because of his bravery and
severity. He rode between the music and the rest of the party, dressed
in a shuba of rose-colored velvet, but greatly faded, and too narrow
for his powerful person; it was lined with tattered marten-skin, he
held in front of him a baton, like those used by Cossack colonels. His
red face had become blue from the cold wind, and he swayed somewhat on
his lofty saddle; from one moment to another he looked from side to
side, or turned his face around to his Tartars, as if not perfectly
sure that they could restrain themselves at sight of the crowds, the
women, the children, the open shops, the rich goods, and that they
would not rush with a shout at those wonders.

But they rode on quietly, like dogs led by chains and fearing the lash,
and only from their gloomy and greedy glances might it be inferred what
was passing in the souls of those barbarians. The crowds gazed on them
with curiosity, though almost with hostility, so great in those parts
of the Commonwealth was hatred of the Pagan. From time to time cries
were heard: "Ahu! ahu!" as if at wolves. Still there were some who
expected much from them.

"The Swedes have a terrible fear of the Tartars, and the soldiers tell
wonders of them, from which their fear increases," said some, looking
at the Tartars.

"And justly," answered others. "It is not for the cavalry of Karl to
war with the Tartars, who, especially those of the Dobrudja, are equal
sometimes to our cavalry. Before a Swedish horseman can look around,
the Tartar will have him on a lariat."

"It is a sin to call sons of Pagans to aid us," said some voice.

"Sin or no sin, they will serve us."

"A very decent chambul!" said Zagloba.

Really the Tartars were well dressed in white, black, and party-colored
sheepskin coats, the wool on the outside; black bows, and quivers full
of arrows were shaking on their shoulders; each had besides a sabre,
which was not always the case in large chambuls, for the poorest were
not able to obtain such a luxury, using in hand-to-hand conflict a
horse-skull fastened to a club. But these were men, as was said, to be
exhibited; therefore some of them had even muskets in felt cases, and
all were sitting on good horses, small, it is true, rather lean and
short, with long forelocks on their faces, but of incomparable
swiftness.

In the centre of the party went also four camels: the crowd concluded
that in their packs were presents from the Khan to the king; but in
that they were mistaken, for the Khan chose to take gifts, not give
them; he promised, it is true, reinforcements, but not for nothing.

When they had passed, Zagloba said: "That aid will cost dear. Though
allies, they will ruin the country. After the Swedes and them, there
will not be one sound roof in the Commonwealth."

"It is sure that they are terribly grievous allies," said Pan Yan.

"I have heard on the road," said Pan Michael, "that the king has made a
treaty, that to every five hundred of the horde is to be given one of
our officers, who is to have command and the right of punishment.
Otherwise these friends would leave only heaven and earth behind them."

"But this is a small chambul; what will the king do with it?"

"The Khan sent them to be placed at the disposal of the king almost as
a gift; and though he will make account of them, still the king can do
what he likes with them, and undoubtedly he will send them with us to
Charnyetski."

"Well, Charnyetski will be able to keep them in bounds."

"Not unless he is among them, otherwise they will plunder. It cannot
be, but they will give them an officer at once."

"And will he lead them? But what will that big Agá do?"

"If he does not meet a fool, he will carry out orders."

"Farewell, gentlemen!" cried Kmita, on a sudden.

"Whither in such haste?"

"To fall at the king's feet, and ask him to give me command of these
people."



                              CHAPTER XIX.


That same day Akbah Ulan beat with his forehead to the king, and
delivered to him letters of the Khan in which the latter repeated his
promise of moving with one hundred thousand of the horde against the
Swedes, when forty thousand thalers were paid him in advance, and when
the first grass was on the fields, without which, in a country so
ruined by war, it would be difficult to maintain such a great number of
horses. As to that small chambul, the Khan had sent it to his "dearest
brother" as a proof of his favor, so that the Cossacks, who were still
thinking of disobedience, might have an evident sign that this favor
endures steadily, and let but the first sound of rebellion reach the
ears of the Khan, his vengeful anger will fall on all Cossacks.

The king received Akbah Ulan affably, and presenting him with a
beautiful steed, said that he would send him soon to Pan Charnyetski in
the field, for he wished to convince the Swedes by facts, that the Khan
was giving aid to the Commonwealth. The eyes of the Tartar glittered
when he heard of service under Charnyetski; for knowing him from the
time of former wars in the Ukraine, he, in common with all the Agás,
admired him.

But he was less pleased with the part of the Khan's letter which asked
the king to attach to the chambul an officer, who knew the country
well, who would lead the party and restrain the men, and also Akbah
Ulan himself from plunder and excesses. Akbah Ulan would have preferred
certainly not to have such a patron over him; but since the will of the
Khan and the king were explicit, he merely beat with his forehead once
more, hiding carefully his vexation, and perhaps promising in his soul
that not he would bow down before that patron, but the patron before
him.

Barely had the Tartar gone out, and the senators withdrawn, when Kmita,
who had an audience at once, fell at the feet of the king, and said,--

"Gracious Lord! I am not worthy of the favor for which I ask, but I set
as much by it as by life itself. Permit me to take command over these
Tartars and move to the field with them at once."

"I do not refuse," answered the astonished Yan Kazimir, "for a better
leader it would be difficult to find. A cavalier of great daring and
resolve is needed to hold them in check, or they will begin straightway
to burn and murder our people. To this only am I firmly opposed, that
you go tomorrow, before your flesh has healed from the wounds made by
Swedish rapiers."

"I feel that as soon as the wind blows around me in the field, my
weakness will pass, and strength will enter me again; as to the
Tartars, I will manage them and bend them into soft wax."

"But why in such haste? Whither are you going?"

"Against the Swedes, Gracious Lord; I have nothing to wait for here,
since what I wanted I have, that is your favor and pardon for my former
offences. I will go to Charnyetski with Volodyovski, or I will attack
the enemy separately, as I did once Hovanski, and I trust in God that I
shall have success."

"It must be that something else is drawing you to the field."

"I will confess as to a father, and open my whole soul. Prince
Boguslav, not content with the calumny which he cast on me, has taken
that maiden from Kyedani and confined her in Taurogi, or worse, for he
is attacking her honesty, her virtue, her honor as a woman. Gracious
Lord! the reason is confused in my head, when I think in what hands the
poor girl is at present. By the passion of the Lord! these wounds pain
less. That maiden thinks to this moment that I offered that damned
soul, that arch-cur to raise hands on your Royal Grace--and she holds
me the lowest of all the degenerate. I cannot endure, I am not able to
endure, till I find her, till I free her. Give me those Tartars and I
swear that I will not do my own work alone, but I will crush so many
Swedes that the court of this castle might be paved with their skulls."

"Calm yourself," said the king.

"If I had to leave service and the defence of majesty and the
Commonwealth for my own cause, it would be a shame for me to ask, but
here one unites with the other. The time has come to beat the Swedes, I
will do nothing else. The time has come to hunt a traitor; I will hunt
him to Livland, to Courland, and even as far as the Northerners, or
beyond the sea to Sweden, should he hide there."

"We have information that Boguslav will move very soon with Karl, from
Elblang."

"Then I will go to meet them."

"With such a small chambul? They will cover you with a cap."

"Hovanski, with eighty thousand, was covering me, but he did not
succeed."

"All the loyal army is under Charnyetski. They will strike Charnyetski
first of all."

"I will go to Charnyetski. It is needful to give him aid the more
quickly."

"You will go to Charnyetski, but to Taurogi with such a small number
you cannot go. Radzivill delivered all the castles in Jmud to the
enemy, and Swedish garrisons are stationed everywhere; but Taurogi, it
seems to me, is somewhere on the boundary of Prussia?"

"On the very boundary of Electoral Prussia, but on our side, and twenty
miles from Tyltsa. Wherever I have to go, I will go, and not only will
I not lose men, but crowds of daring soldiers will gather to me on the
road. And consider this, Gracious Lord, that wherever I show myself the
whole neighborhood will mount against the Swedes. First, I will rouse
Jmud, if no one else does it. What place may not be reached now, when
the whole country is boiling like water in a pot? I am accustomed to be
in a boil."

"But you do not think of this,--perhaps the Tartars will not like to go
so far with you."

"Only let them not like! only let them try not to like," said Kmita,
gritting his teeth at the very thought, "as there are four hundred,
or whatever number there is of them, I'll have all four hundred
hanged--there will be no lack of trees! Just let them try to rebel
against me."

"Yandrek!" cried the king, falling into good humor and pursing his
lips, "as God is dear to me, I cannot find a better shepherd for those
lambs! Take them and lead them wherever it pleases thee most."

"I give thanks, Gracious Lord!" said the knight, pressing the knees of
the king.

"When do you wish to start?" asked Yan Kazimir.

"God willing, to-morrow."

"Maybe Akbah Ulan will not be ready, because his horses are
road-weary."

"Then I will have him lashed to a saddle with a lariat, and he will go
on foot if he spares his horse."

"I see that you will get on with him. Still use mild measures while
possible. But now, Yendrek, it is late; to-morrow I wish to see you
again. Meanwhile take this ring, tell your royalist lady that you have
it from the king, and tell her that the king commands her to love
firmly his faithful servant and defender."

"God grant me," said the young hero, with tears in his eyes, "not to
die save in defence of your Royal Grace!"

Here the king withdrew, for it was already late; and Kmita went to his
own quarters to prepare for the road, and think what to begin, and
whither he ought to go first.

He remembered the words of Kharlamp, that should it appear that
Boguslav was not in Taurogi it would really be better to leave the
maiden there, for from Taurogi being near the boundary, it was easy to
take refuge in Tyltsa, under care of the elector. Moreover, though the
Swedes had abandoned in his last need the voevoda of Vilna, it was
reasonable to expect that they would have regard for his widow; hence,
if Olenka was under her care, no evil could meet her. If they had gone
to Courland, that was still better. "And to Courland I cannot go with
my Tartars," said Kmita to himself, "for that is another State."

He walked then, and worked with his head. Hour followed hour, but he
did not think yet of rest; and the thought of his new expedition so
cheered him, that though that day he was weak in the morning, he felt
now that his strength was returning, and he was ready to mount in a
moment.

The servants at last had finished tying the saddle-straps and were
preparing to sleep, when all at once some one began to scratch at the
door of the room.

"Who is there?" asked Kmita. Then to his attendant, "Go and see!"

He went, and after he had spoken to some one outside the door, he
returned.

"Some soldier wants to see your grace greatly. He says that his name is
Soroka."

"By the dear God! let him in," called Kmita. And without waiting for
the attendant to carry out the order, he sprang to the door. "Come in,
dear Soroka! come hither!"

The soldier entered the room, and with his first movement wished to
fall at the feet of his colonel, for he was a friend and a servant as
faithful as he was attached; but soldierly subordination carried the
day, therefore he stood erect and said,--

"At the orders of your grace!"

"Be greeted, dear comrade, be greeted!" said Kmita, with emotion. "I
thought they had cut you to pieces in Chenstohova." And he pressed
Soroka's head, then began to shake him, which he could do without
lowering himself too much, for Soroka was descended from village
nobility.

Then the old sergeant fell to embracing Kmita's knees.

"Whence do you come?" asked Kmita.

"From Chenstohova."

"And you were looking for me?"

"Yes."

"And from whom did you learn that I was alive?"

"From Kuklinovski's men. The prior, Kordetski, celebrated High Mass
from delight, in thanksgiving to God. Then there was a report that Pan
Babinich had conducted the king through the mountains; so I knew that
that was your grace, no one else."

"And Father Kordetski is well?"

"Well; only it is unknown whether the angels will not take him alive to
heaven any day, for he is a saint."

"Surely he is nothing else. Where did you discover that I came with the
king to Lvoff?"

"I thought, since you conducted the king you must be near him; but I
was afraid that your grace might move to the field and that I should be
late."

"To-morrow I go with the Tartars."

"Then it has happened well, for I bring your grace two full belts, one
which I wore and the other you carried, and besides, those precious
stones which we took from the caps of boyars, and those which your
grace took when we seized the treasury of Hovanski."

"Those were good times when we gathered in wealth; but there cannot be
much of it now, for I left a good bit with Father Kordetski."

"I do not know how much, but the prior himself said that two good
villages might be bought with it."

Then Soroka drew near the table, and began to remove the belts from his
body. "And the stones are in this canteen," added he, putting the
canteen near the belts.

Kmita made no reply, but shook in his hand some gold ducats without
counting them, and said to the sergeant,--

"Take these!"

"I fall at the feet of your grace. Ei, if I had had  on the road one
such ducat!"

"How is that?"

"Because I am terribly weak. There are few places now where they will
give one morsel of bread to a man, for all are afraid; and at last I
barely dragged my feet forward from hunger."

"By the dear God! but you had all this with you!"

"I dared not use it without leave."

"Take this!" said Kmita, giving him another handful. Then he cried to
the servants,--

"Now, scoundrels, give him to eat in less time than a man might say
'Our Father,' or I'll take your heads!"

They sprang one in front of another, and in little while there was an
enormous dish of smoked sausage before Soroka, and a flask of vodka.
The soldier fastened his eyes greedily on the food, and his lips and
mustaches were quivering; but he dared not sit in presence of the
colonel.

"Sit down, eat!" commanded Kmita.

Kmita had barely spoken when a dry sausage was crunching between the
powerful jaws of Soroka. The two attendants looked on him with
protruding eyes.

"Be off!" cried Kmita.

They sprang out with all breath through the door; out the knight walked
with hasty steps up and down the room, not wishing to interrupt his
faithful servant. But he, as often as he poured out a glass of vodka,
looked sidewise at the colonel, fearing to find a frown; then he
emptied the glass and turned toward the wall.

Kmita walked, walked; at last he began to speak to himself. "It cannot
be otherwise!" muttered he; "it is needful to send him. I will give
orders to tell her--No use, she will not believe! She will not read a
letter, for she holds me a traitor and a dog. Let him not come in her
way, but let him see and tell me what is taking place there."

Then he said on a sudden; "Soroka!"

The soldier sprang up so quickly that he came near overturning the
table, and straightened as straight as a string.

"According to order!"

"You are an honest man, and in need you are cunning. You will go on a
long road, but not on a hungry one."

"According to order!"

"To Tyltsa, on the Prussian border. There Panna Billevich is living in
the castle of Boguslav Radzivill. You will learn if the prince is
there, and have an eye on everything. Do not try to see Panna
Billevich, but should a meeting happen of itself, tell her, and swear
that I brought the king through the mountains, and that I am near his
person. She will surely not give you credit; for the prince has defamed
me, saying that I wished to attempt the life of the king,--which is a
lie befitting a dog."

"According to order!"

"Do not try to see her, as I have said, for she will not believe you.
But if you meet by chance, tell her what you know. Look at every thing,
and listen! But take care of yourself, for if the prince is there and
recognizes you, or if any one from his court recognizes you, you will
be impaled on a stake. I would send old Kyemlich, but he is in the
other world, slain in the pass, and his sons are too dull. They will go
with me. Have you been in Tyltsa?"

"I have not, your grace."

"You will go to Shchuchyn, thence along the Prussian boundary to
Tyltsa. Taurogi is twenty miles distant from Tyltsa and opposite, on
our side. Stay in Taurogi till you have seen everything, then come to
me. You will find me where I shall be. Ask for the Tartars and Pan
Babinich. And now go to sleep with the Kyemliches. To-morrow for the
road."

After these words, Soroka went out. Kmita did not lie down to sleep for
a long time, but at last weariness overcame him; then he threw himself
on the bed, and slept a stone sleep.

Next morning he rose greatly refreshed and stronger than the day
before. The whole court was already on foot, and the usual activity had
begun. Kmita went first to the chancellery, for his commission and
safe-conduct; he visited Suba Gazi Bey, chief of the Khan's embassy in
Lvoff, and had a long conversation with him.

During that conversation Pan Andrei put his hand twice in his purse; so
that when he was going out Suba Gazi Bey changed caps with him, gave
him a baton of green feathers and some yards of an equally green cord
of silk.

Armed in this fashion, Pan Andrei returned to the king, who had just
come from Mass; then the young man fell once more at the knees of the
sovereign; after that he went, together with the Kyemliches and his
attendants, directly to the place where Akbah Ulan was quartered with
his chambul.

At sight of him the old Tartar put his hand to his forehead, his mouth,
and his breast; but learning who Kmita was and why he had come, he grew
severe at once; his face became gloomy, and was veiled with
haughtiness.

"And the king has sent you to me as a guide," said he to Kmita, in
broken Russian; "you will show me the road, though I should be able to
go myself wherever it is needed, and you are young and inexperienced."

"He indicates in advance what I am to be," thought Kmita, "but I will
be polite to him as long as I can." Then he said aloud: "Akbah Ulan,
the king has sent me here as a chief, not as a guide. And I tell you
this, that you will do better not to oppose the will of his grace."

"The Khan makes appointments over the Tartars, not the king," answered
Akbah Ulan.

"Akbah Ulan," repeated Kmita, with emphasis, "the Khan has made a
present of thee to the king, as he would a dog or a falcon; therefore
show no disrespect to him, lest thou be tied like a dog with a rope."

"Allah!" cried the astonished Tartar.

"Hei! have a care that thou anger me not!" said Kmita.

Akbah Ulan's eyes became bloodshot. For a time he could not utter a
word; the veins on his neck were swollen, his hands sought his dagger.

"I'll bite, I'll bite!" said he, with stifled voice.

But Pan Andrei, though he had promised to be polite, had had  enough,
for by nature he was very excitable. In one moment therefore something
struck him as if a serpent had stung; he seized the Tartar by the thin
beard with his whole hand, and pushing back his head as if he wished to
show him something on the ceiling, he began to talk through his set
teeth.

"Hear me, son of a goat! Thou wouldst like to have no one above thee,
so as to burn, rob, and slaughter! Thou wouldst have me as guide! Here
is thy guide! thou hast a guide!" And thrusting him to the wall, he
began to pound his head against a corner of it.

He let him go at last, completely stunned, but not looking for his
knife now. Kmita, following the impulse of his hot blood, discovered
the best method of convincing Oriental people accustomed to slavery;
for in the pounded head of the Tartar, in spite of all the rage which
was stifling him, the thought gleamed at once how powerful and
commanding must that knight be who could act in this manner with him,
Akbah Ulan; and with his bloody lips he repeated three times,--

"Bagadyr (hero), Bagadyr, Bagadyr!"

Kmita meanwhile placed on his own head the cap of Suba Grazi, drew
forth the green baton, which he had kept behind his belt of purpose
till that moment, and said,--

"Look at these, slave! and these!"

"Allah!" exclaimed the astonished Ulan.

"And here!" added Kmita, taking the cord from his pocket.

But Akbah Ulan was already lying at his feet, and striking the floor
with his forehead.

An hour later the Tartars were marching out in a long line over the
road from Lvoff to Vyelki Ochi; and Kmita, sitting on a valiant
chestnut steed which the king had given him, drove along the chambul as
a shepherd dog drives sheep. Akbah Ulan looked at the young hero with
wonder and fear.

The Tartars, who were judges of warriors, divined at the first glance
that under that leader there would be no lack of blood and plunder, and
went willingly with singing and music.

And Kmita's heart swelled within him when he looked at those forms,
resembling beasts of the wilderness; for they were dressed in sheepskin
and camel-skin coats with the wool outside. The wave of wild heads
shook with the movements of the horses; he counted them, and was
thinking how much he could undertake with that force.

"It is a peculiar body," thought he, "and it seems to me as if I were
leading a pack of wolves; and with such men precisely would it be
possible to run through the whole Commonwealth, and trample all
Prussia. Wait awhile, Prince Boguslav!"

Here boastful thoughts began to flow into his head, for he was inclined
greatly to boastfulness.

"God has given man adroitness," said he to himself; "yesterday I had
only the two Kyemliches, but to-day four hundred horses are clattering
behind me. Only let the dance begin; I shall have a thousand or two of
such roisterers as my old comrades would not be ashamed of. Wait a
while, Boguslav!"

But after a moment he added, to quiet his own conscience: "And I shall
serve also the king and the country."

He fell into excellent humor. This too pleased him greatly, that
nobles, Jews, peasants, even large crowds of general militia, could not
guard themselves from fear in the first moment at sight of his Tartars.
And there was a fog, for the thaw had filled the air with a vapor. It
happened then every little while that some one rode up near, and seeing
all at once whom they had before them, cried out,--

"The word is made flesh!"

"Jesus! Mary! Joseph!"

"The Tartars! the horde!"

But the Tartars passed peacefully the equipages, loaded wagons, herds
of horses and travellers. It would have been different had the leader
permitted, but they dared not undertake anything of their own will, for
they had seen how at starting Akbah Ulan had held the stirrup of that
leader.

Now Lvoff had vanished in the distance beyond the mist. The Tartars had
ceased to sing, and the chambul moved slowly amid the clouds of steam
rising from the horses. All at once the tramp of a horse was heard
behind. In a moment two horsemen appeared. One of them was Pan Michael,
the other was the tenant of Vansosh; both, passing the chambul, pushed
straight to Kmita.

"Stop! stop!" cried the little knight.

Kmita held in his horse. "Is that you?"

Pan Michael reined in his horse. "With the forehead!" said he, "letters
from the king: one to you, the other to the voevoda of Vityebsk."

"I am going to Pan Charnyetski, not to Sapyeha."

"But read the letter."

Kmita broke the seal and read as follows:--


We learn through a courier just arrived from the voevoda of Vityebsk
that he cannot march hither to Little Poland, and is turning back again
to Podlyasye, because Prince Boguslav, who is not with the King of
Sweden, has planned to fall upon Tykotsin and Pan Sapyeha. And since he
must leave a great part of his troops in garrisons, we order you to go
to his assistance with that Tartar chambul. And since your own wish is
thus gratified, we need not urge you to hasten. The other letter you
will give to the voevoda; in it we commend Pan Babinich, our faithful
servant, to the good will of the voevoda, and above all to the
protection of God.            YAN KAZIMIR, _King_.


"By the dear God! by the dear God! This is happy news for me!" cried
Kmita. "I know not how to thank the king and you for it."

"I offered myself to come," said the little knight, "out of compassion,
for I saw your pain; I came so that the letters might reach you
surely."

"When did the courier arrive?"

"We were with the king at dinner,--I, Pan Yan, Pan Stanislav, Kharlamp,
and Zagloba. You cannot imagine what Zagloba told there about the
carelessness of Sapyeha, and his own services. It is enough that the
king cried from continual laughter, and both hetmans were holding their
sides all the time. At last the chamber servant came with a letter;
when the king burst out, 'Go to the hangman, maybe evil news will spoil
my fun!' When he learned that it was from Pan Sapyeha, he began to read
it. Indeed he read evil news, for that was confirmed which had long
been discussed; the elector had broken all his oaths, and against his
own rightful sovereign had joined the King of Sweden at last."

"Another enemy, as if there were few of them hitherto!" cried Kmita;
and he folded his hands. "Great God! only let Pan Sapyeha send me for a
week to Prussia, and God the Merciful grant that ten generations will
remember me and my Tartars."

"Perhaps you will go there," said Pan Michael; "but first you must
defeat Boguslav, for as a result of that treason of the elector is he
furnished with men and permitted to go to Podlyasye."

"Then we shall meet, as to-day is to-day; as God is in heaven, so shall
we meet," cried Kmita, with flashing eyes. "If you had brought me the
appointment of voevoda of Vilna, it would not have given me more
pleasure."

"The king too cried at once; 'There is an expedition ready for Yendrek,
from which the soul will rejoice in him.' He wanted to send his servant
after you, but I said I will go myself, I will take farewell of him
once more."

Kmita bent on his horse, and seized the little knight in his embrace.

"A brother would not have done for me what you have done! God grant me
to thank you in some way."

"Tfu! Did not I want to shoot you?"

"I deserved nothing better. Never mind! May I be slain in the first
battle if in all knighthood I love a man more than I love you."

Then they began to embrace again at parting, and Volodyovski said,--

"Be careful with Boguslav, be careful, for it is no easy matter with
him."

"For one of us death is written. Ei! if you who are a genius at the
sabre could discover your secrets to me. But there is no time. As it
is, may the angels help me; and I will see his blood, or my eyes will
close forever on the light of day."

"God aid you! A lucky journey, and give angelica to those traitors of
Prussians!" said Volodyovski.

"Be sure on that point. The disgusting Lutherans!"

Here Volodyovski nodded to Jendzian, who during this time was talking
to Akbah Ulan, explaining the former successes of Kmita over Hovanski.
And both rode back to Lvoff.

Then Kmita turned his chambul on the spot, as a driver turns his wagon,
and went straight toward the north.



                              CHAPTER XX.


Though the Tartars, and especially those of the Dobrudja, knew how to
stand breast to breast against armed men in the field, their most
cherished warfare was the slaughter of defenceless people, the seizing
of women and peasants captive, and above all, plunder. The road was
very bitter therefore to that chambul which Kmita led, for under
his iron hand these wild warriors had to become lambs, keep their
knives in the sheaths, and the quenched tinder and coiled ropes in
their saddle-bags. They murmured at first.

Near Tarnogrod a few remained behind of purpose to let free the "red
birds" in Hmyelevsk and to frolic with the women. But Kmita, who had
pushed on toward Tomashov, returned at sight of the first gleam of
fire, and commanded the guilty to hang the guilty. And he had gained
such control of Akbah Ulan, that the old Tartar not only did not
resist, but he urged the condemned to hang quickly, or the "bogadyr"
would be angry. Thenceforth "the lambs" marched quietly, crowding more
closely together through the villages and towns, lest suspicion might
fall on them. And the execution, though Kmita carried it out so
severely, did not rouse even ill will or hatred against him; such
fortune had that fighter that his subordinates felt just as much love
for him as they did fear.

It is true that Pan Andrei permitted no one to wrong them. The country
had been terribly ravaged by the recent attack of Hmelnitski and
Sheremetyeff; therefore it was as difficult to find provisions and
pasture as before harvest, and besides, everything had to be in time
and in plenty; in Krinitsi, where the townspeople offered resistance
and would not furnish supplies, Pan Andrei ordered that some of them be
beaten with sticks, and the under-starosta he stretched out with the
blow of a whirlbat.

This delighted the horde immensely, and hearing with pleasure the
uproar of the beaten people, they said among themselves,--

"Ei! our Babinich is a falcon; he lets no man offend his lambs."

It is enough that not only did they not grow thin, but the men and
horses improved in condition. Old Ulan, whose stomach had expanded,
looked with growing wonder on the young hero and clicked with his
tongue.

"If Allah were to give me a son, I should like such a one. I should not
die of hunger in my old age in the Ulus," repeated he.

But Kmita from time to time struck him on the stomach and said,--

"Here listen, wild boar! If the Swedes do not open your paunch, you
will hide the contents of all cupboards inside it."

"Where are the Swedes? Our ropes will rot, our bows will be mildewed,"
answered Ulan, who was homesick for war.

They were advancing indeed through a country to which a Swedish foot
had not been able to come, but farther they would pass through one in
which there had been garrisons afterward driven out by confederates.
They met everywhere smaller and larger bands of armed nobles, marching
in various directions, and not smaller bands of peasants, who more than
once stopped the road to them threateningly, and to whom it was often
difficult to explain that they had to do with friends and servants of
the King of Poland.

They came at last to Zamost. The Tartars were amazed at sight of this
mighty fortress; but what did they think when told that not long before
it had stopped the whole power of Hmelnitski?

Pan Zamoyski, the owner by inheritance, permitted them as a mark of
great affection and favor to enter the town. They were admitted through
a brick gate, while the other two were stone. Kmita himself did not
expect to see anything similar, and he could not recover from
astonishment at sight of the broad streets, built in straight lines,
Italian fashion; at sight of the splendid college, and the academy, the
castle, walls, the great cannon and every kind of provision. As few
among magnates could be compared with the grandson of the great
chancellor, so there were few fortresses that could be compared with
Zamost.

But the greatest ecstasy seized the Tartars, when they saw the Armenian
part of the town. Their nostrils drew in greedily the odor of morocco,
a great manufacture of which was carried on by industrial immigrants
from Kaffa; and their eyes laughed at sight of the dried fruits and
confectionery, Eastern carpets, girdles, inlaid sabres, daggers, bows,
Turkish lamps, and every kind of costly article.

The cup-bearer of the kingdom himself pleased Kmita's heart greatly, he
was a genuine kinglet in that Zamost of his; a man in the strength of
his years, of fine presence though lacking somewhat robustness, for he
had not restrained sufficiently the ardors of nature in early years. He
had always loved the fair sex, but his health had not been shaken to
that degree that joyousness had vanished from his face. So far he had
not married, and though the most renowned houses in the Commonwealth
had opened wide their doors, he asserted that he could not find in them
a sufficiently beautiful maiden. He found her somewhat later, in the
person of a young French lady, who though in love with another gave him
her hand without hesitation, not foreseeing that the first one,
disregarded, would adorn in the future his own and her head with a
kingly crown.

The lord of Zamost was not distinguished for quick wit, though he had
enough for his own use. He did not strive for dignities and offices,
though they came to him of themselves; and when his friends reproached
him with a lack of native ambition, he answered,--"It is not true that
I lack it, for I have more than those who bow down. Why should I wear
out the thresholds of the court? In Zamost I am not only Yan Zamoyski,
but Sobiepan Zamoyski,"[4] with which name he was very well pleased. He
was glad to affect simple manners, though he had received a refined
education and had passed his youth in journeys through foreign lands.
He spoke of himself as a common noble, and spoke emphatically of the
moderateness of his station, perhaps so that others might contradict
him, and perhaps so that they might not notice his medium wit. On the
whole he was an honorable man, and a better son of the Commonwealth
than many others.

And as he came near Kmita's heart, so did Kmita please him; therefore
he invited Pan Andrei to the chambers of the castle and entertained
him, for he loved this also, that men should exalt his hospitality.

Pan Andrei came to know in the castle many noted persons; above all,
Princess Griselda Vishnyevetski, sister of Pan Zamoyski and widow of
the great Yeremi,--a man who in his time was well-nigh the greatest in
the Commonwealth, who nevertheless had lost his whole immense fortune
in the time of the Cossack incursion, so that the princess was now
living at Zamost, on the bounty of her brother Yan.

But that lady was so full of grandeur, of majesty and virtue, that her
brother was the first to blow away the dust from before her; and
moreover he feared her like fire. There was no case in which he did not
gratify her wishes, nor an affair the most important concerning which
he did not advise with her. The people of the castle said that the
princess ruled Zamost, the army, the treasury, and her brother; but she
did not wish to take advantage of her preponderance, being given with
her whole soul to grief for her husband and to the education of her
son.

That son had recently returned for a short time from the court of
Vienna and was living with her. He was a youth in the springtime of
life; but in vain did Kmita seek in him those marks which the son of
the great Yeremi should bear in his features.

The figure of the young prince was graceful; but he had a large, full
face, and protruding eyes with a timid look; he had coarse lips, moist,
as with people inclined to pleasures of the table; an immense growth of
hair, black as a raven's wing, fell to his shoulders. He inherited from
his father only that raven hair and dark complexion.

Pan Andrei was assured by those who were more intimate with the prince
that he had a noble soul, unusual understanding, and a remarkable
memory, thanks to which he was able to speak almost all languages; and
that a certain heaviness of body and temperament with a native greed
for food were the only defects of that otherwise remarkable young man.

In fact, after he had entered into conversation with him Pan Andrei
became convinced that the prince not only had an understanding mind and
a striking judgment touching everything, but the gift of attracting
people. Kmita loved him after the first conversation with that feeling
in which compassion is the greatest element. He felt that he would give
much to bring back to that orphan the brilliant future which belonged
to him by right of birth.

Pan Andrei convinced himself at the first dinner that what was said of
the gluttony of Michael Vishnyevetski was true. The young prince seemed
to think of nothing save eating. His prominent eyes followed each dish
uneasily, and when they brought him the platter he took an enormous
quantity on his plate and ate ravenously, smacking his lips as only
gluttons do. The marble face of the princess grew clouded with still
greater sorrow at that sight. It became awkward for Kmita, so that he
turned away his eyes and looked at Sobiepan.

But Zamoyski was not looking either at Prince Michael or his own guest.
Kmita followed his glance, and behind the shoulders of Princess
Griselda he saw a wonderful sight indeed, which he had not hitherto
noticed.

It was the small pretty head of a maiden, who was as fair as milk, as
red as a rose, and beautiful as an image. Short wavy locks ornamented
her forehead; her quick eyes were directed to the officers sitting near
Zamoyski, not omitting Sobiepan himself. At last those eyes rested on
Kmita, and looked at him fixedly, as full of coquetry as if they
intended to gaze into the depth of his heart.

But Kmita was not easily confused; therefore he began to look at once
into those eyes with perfect insolence, and then he punched in the side
Pan Shurski, lieutenant of the armored castle squadron at Zamost, who
was sitting near him, and asked in an undertone,--

"But who is that tailed farthing?"

"Worthy sir," answered Shurski, aloud, "do not speak slightingly when
you do not know of whom you are speaking. That is Panna Anusia
Borzobogati. And you will not call her otherwise unless you wish to
regret your rudeness."

"You do not know, sir, that a farthing is a kind of bird and very
beautiful, therefore there is no contempt in the name," answered Kmita,
laughing; "but noticing your anger you must be terribly in love."

"But who is not in love?" muttered the testy Shurski. "Pan Zamoyski
himself has almost looked his eyes out, and is as if sitting on an
awl."

"I see that, I see that!"

"What do you see? He, I, Grabovski, Stolangyevich, Konoyadzki, Rubetski
of the dragoons, Pyechynga,--she has sunk us all. And with you it will
be the same, if you stay here. With her twenty-four hours are
sufficient."

"Lord brother! with me she could do nothing in twenty-four months."

"How is that?" asked Shurski, with indignation; "are you made of metal,
or what?"

"No! But if some one had stolen the last dollar from your pocket you
would not be afraid of a thief."

"Is that it?" answered Shurski.

Kmita grew gloomy at once, for his trouble came to his mind, and he
noticed no longer that the black eyes were looking still more
stubbornly at him, as if asking, "What is thy name, whence dost thou
come, youthful knight?"

But Shurski muttered: "Bore, bore away! She bored that way into me till
she bored to my heart. Now she does not even care."

Kmita shook himself out of his seriousness.

"Why the hangman does not some one of you marry her?"

"Each one prevents every other."

"The girl will be left in the lurch," said Kmita, "though in truth
there must be white seeds in that pear yet."

Shurski opened his eyes, and bending to Kmita's ear said very
mysteriously,--

"They say that she is twenty-five, as I love God. She was with Princess
Griselda before the incursion of the rabble?"

"Wonder of wonders, I should not give her more than sixteen or eighteen
at the most."

This time the devil (the girl) guessed apparently that they were
talking of her, for she covered her gleaming eyes with the lids, and
only shot sidelong glances at Kmita, inquiring continually: "Who art
thou, so handsome? Whence dost thou come?" And he began involuntarily
to twirl his mustache.

After dinner Zamoyski, who from respect to the courtly manners of Kmita
treated him as an unusual guest, took him by the arm. "Pan Babinich,"
said he, "you have told me that you are from Lithuania?"

"That is true, Pan Zamoyski."

"Tell me, did you know the Podbipientas?"

"As to knowing I know them not, for they are no longer in the world, at
least those who had the arms Tear-Cowl. The last one fell at Zbaraj. He
was the greatest knight that Lithuania had. Who of us does not know of
Podbipienta?"

"I have heard also of him; but I ask for this reason: There is in
attendance on my sister a lady of honorable family. She was the
betrothed of this Podbipienta who was killed at Zbaraj. She is an
orphan, without father or mother; and though my sister loves her
greatly, still, being the natural guardian of my sister, I have in this
way the maiden in guardianship."

"A pleasant guardianship!" put in Kmita.

Zamoyski smiled, winked, and smacked his tongue. "Sweetcakes! isn't
she?"

But suddenly he saw that he was betraying himself, and assumed a
serious air.

"Oh, you traitor!" said he, half jestingly, half seriously, "you want
to hang me on a hook, and I almost let it out!"

"What?" asked Kmita, looking him quickly in the eyes.

Here Zamoyski saw clearly that in quickness of wit he was not the equal
of his guest, and turned the conversation at once.

"That Podbipienta," said he, "bequeathed her some estates there
in your region. I don't remember the names of them, for they are
strange,--Baltupie, Syrutsiani, Myshykishki,--in a word, all that he
had. Would I could remember them! Five or six estates."

"They are adjoining estates, not separate. Podbipienta was a very
wealthy man, and if that lady should come to his fortune she might have
her own ladies-in-waiting, and seek for a husband among senators."

"Do you tell me that? Do you know those places?"

"I know only Lyubovich and Sheputy, for they are near my land. The
forest boundary alone is ten miles long, and the fields and meadows are
as much more."

"Where are they?"

"In Vityebsk."

"Oh, far away! the affair is not worth the trouble, and the country is
under the enemy."

"When we drive out the enemy we shall come to the property. But the
Podbipientas have property in other places,--in Jmud very considerable,
I know, for I have a piece of land there myself."

"I see that your substance is not a bag of chopped straw."

"It brings in nothing now. But I need nothing from others."

"Advise me how to put that maiden on her feet."

Kmita laughed.

"I prefer to talk over this matter rather than others. It would be
better for her to go to Pan Sapyeha. If he would take the affair in
hand, he could do a great deal as voevoda of Vityebsk and the most
noted man in Lithuania. He could send notices to the tribunals that the
will was made to Panna Borzobogati, so that Podbipienta's more distant
relatives should not seize the property."

"That is true; but now there are no tribunals, and Sapyeha has
something else in his head."

"The lady might be placed in his hands and under his guardianship.
Having her before his eyes, he would give aid more speedily."

Kmita looked with astonishment at Zamoyski. "What object has he in
wishing to remove her from this place?" thought he.

Zamoyski continued: "It would be difficult for her to live in camp, in
the tent of the voevoda of Vityebsk; but she might stay with his
daughters."

"I do not understand this," thought Kmita; "would he consent to be only
her guardian?"

"But here is the difficulty: how can I send her to those parts in the
present time of disturbance? Several hundred men would be needed, and I
cannot strip Zamost. If I could only find some one to conduct her. Now,
you might take her; you are going to Sapyeha. I would give you letters,
and you would give me your word of honor to take her in safety."

"I conduct her to Sapyeha?" asked Kmita, in amazement.

"Is the office unpleasant? Even if it should come to love on the
road--"

"Ah," said Kmita, "another one is managing my affections; and though
the tenant pays nothing, still I do not think of making a change."

"So much the better; with all the greater satisfaction can I confide
her to you."

A moment of silence followed.

"Well, will you undertake it?" asked the starosta,

"I am marching with Tartars."

"People tell me that the Tartars fear you worse than fire. Well, what?
Will you undertake it?"

"H'm! why not, if thereby I can oblige your grace? But--"

"Ah, you think that the princess must give permission; she will, as God
is dear to me! For she,--fancy to yourself,--she suspects me."

Here the starosta whispered in Kmita's ear; at last he said aloud,--

"She was very angry with me for that, and I put my ears aside; for to
war with women,--behold you! I would rather have the Swedes outside
Zamost. But she will have the best proof that I am planning no evil,
when I wish to send the girl away. She will be terribly amazed, it is
true; but at the first opportunity I'll talk with her touching this
matter."

When he had said this, Zamoyski turned and went away. Kmita looked at
him, and muttered,--

"You are setting some snare, Pan Sobiepan; and though I do not
understand the object, I see the snare quickly, for you are a terribly
awkward trapper."

Zamoyski was pleased with himself, though he understood well that the
work was only half done; and another remained so difficult that at
thought of it despair seized him, and even terror. He had to get
permission of Princess Griselda, whose severity and penetrating mind
Pan Sobiepan feared from his whole soul. But having begun, he wished to
bring the work to completion as early as possible; therefore next
morning, after Mass, and breakfast, and after he had reviewed the hired
German infantry, he went to the chambers of the princess.

He found the lady embroidering a cope for the college. Behind her was
Anusia winding silk hung upon two armchairs; a second skein of rose
color she had placed around her neck, and moving her hands quickly, she
ran around the chairs in pursuit of the unwinding thread.

Zamoyski's eyes grew bright at sight of her; but he assumed quickly a
serious look, and greeting the princess, began as if unwillingly,--

"That Pan Babinich who has come here with the Tartars is a
Lithuanian,--a man of importance, a very elegant fellow, a born knight
in appearance. Have you noticed him?"

"You brought him to me yourself," answered the princess, indifferently,
"he has an honest face."

"I asked him concerning that property left Panna Borzobogati. He says
it is a fortune almost equal to that of the Radzivills."

"God grant it to Anusia; her orphanhood will be the lighter, and her
old age as well," said the lady.

"But there is a danger lest distant relatives tear it apart. Babinich
says that Sapyeha might occupy himself with it, if he wished. He is an
honest man, and very friendly to us: I would confide my own daughter to
him. It would be enough for him to send notices to the tribunals, and
proclaim the guardianship. But Babinich says it is needful that Panna
Anusia should go to those places in person."

"Where,--to Pan Sapyeha?"

"Or to his daughters, so as to be there, that the formal installation
might take place."

The starosta invented at that moment "formal installation," thinking
justly that the princess would accept this counterfeit money instead of
true coin. She thought a moment, and asked,--

"How could she go now, when Swedes are on the road?"

"I have news that the Swedes have left Lublin. All this side of the
Vistula is free."

"And who would take Anusia to Pan Sapyeha?"

"Suppose this same Babinich."

"With Tartars? Lord Brother, fear God; those are wild, chaotic people!"

"I am not afraid," put in Anusia, curtesying.

But Princess Griselda had noted already that her brother came with some
plan all prepared; therefore she sent Anusia out of the room, and began
to look at Pan Sobiepan with an inquiring gaze. But he said as if to
himself,--

"These Tartars are down in the dust before Babinich; he hangs them for
any insubordination."

"I cannot permit this journey," answered the princess. "The girl is
honest but giddy, and rouses enthusiasm quickly. You know that best
yourself. I would never confide her to a young, unknown man."

"Unknown here he is not, for who has not heard of the Babiniches as men
of high family and steady people? [Zamoyski had never heard of the
Babiniches in his life.] Besides," continued he, "you might give her
some sedate woman as companion, and then decorum would be observed.
Babinich I guarantee. I tell you this, too, Lady Sister, that he has in
those places a betrothed with whom he is, as he tells me himself, in
love; and whoso is in love has something else in his head. The
foundation of the matter is this, that another such chance may not come
for a long time,--the fortune may be lost to the girl, and in ripe
years she may be without a roof above her."

The princess ceased embroidering, raised her head, and fixing her
penetrating eyes on her brother, asked,--

"What reason have you to send her from here?"

"What reason have I?" repeated he, dropping his glance; "what can I
have?--none!"

"Yan, you have conspired with Babinich against her virtue!"

"There it is! As God is dear to me, only that was wanting! You will
read the letter which I shall send to Sapyeha, and give your own. I
will merely say this to you, that I shall not leave Zamost. Finally
examine Babinich himself, and ask him whether he will undertake the
office.

"The moment you suspect me I step aside."

"Why do you insist so that she shall leave Zamost?"

"For I wish her good, and it is the question of an immense fortune.
Besides, I confess it concerns me much that she should leave Zamost.
Your suspicions have grown disagreeable; it is not to my taste that you
should be frowning at me forever and looking stern. I thought that in
consenting to the departure of the young lady I should find the best
argument against suspicions. God knows I have enough of this, for I am
no student who steals under windows at night. I tell you more: my
officers are enraged one against the other, and shaking their sabres at
one another. There is neither harmony, nor order, nor service as there
should be. I have enough of this. But since you are boring me with your
eyes, then do as you wish; but look after Michael yourself, for that is
your affair, not mine."

"Michael!" exclaimed the astonished princess.

"I say nothing against the girl. She does not disturb him more than
others; but if you do not see his arrowy glances and ardent affection,
then I tell you this, that Cupid has not such power to blind as a
mother's love."

Princess Griselda's brows contracted, and her face grew pale.

Pan Sobiepan, seeing that he had struck home at last, slapped his knees
with his hands and continued,--

"Lady Sister, thus it is, thus it is! What is the affair to me? Let
Michael give her silk to unwind, let his nostrils quiver when he looks
at her, let him blush, let him look at her through keyholes! What is
that to me? Still, I know--she has a good fortune--her family--well,
she is of nobles, and I do not raise myself above nobles. If you want
it yourself, all right. Their years are not the same, but again it is
not my affair."

Zamoyski rose, and bowing to his sister very politely, started to go
out.

The blood rushed to her face. The proud lady did not see in the whole
Commonwealth a match worthy of Vishnyevetski, and abroad, perhaps among
the archduchesses of Austria; therefore these words of her brother
burned her like iron red hot.

"Yan!" said she, "wait!"

"Lady Sister," said Zamoyski, "I wished first to give you proof that
you suspect me unjustly; second, that you should watch some one besides
me. Now you will do as you please; I have nothing more to say."

Then Pan Zamoyski bowed and went out.



                              CHAPTER XXI.


Pan Zamoyski had not uttered pure calumny to his sister when he spoke
of Michael's love for Anusia, for the young prince had fallen in love
with her, as had all, not excepting the pages of the castle. But that
love was not over-violent, and by no means aggressive; it was rather an
agreeable intoxication of the head and mind, than an impulse of the
heart, which, when it loves, impels to permanent possession of the
object beloved. For such action Michael had not the energy.

Nevertheless, Princess Griselda, dreaming of a brilliant future for her
son, was greatly terrified at that feeling. In the first moment the
sudden consent of her brother to Anusia's departure astonished her; now
she ceased thinking of that, so far had the threatening danger seized
her whole soul. A conversation with her son, who grew pale and
trembled, and who before he had confessed anything shed tears,
confirmed her in the supposition that the danger was terrible.

Still she did not conquer her scruples of conscience at once, and it
was only when Anusia, who wanted to see a new world, new people, and
perhaps also turn the head of the handsome cavalier, fell at her feet
with a request for permission, that the princess did not find strength
sufficient to refuse.

Anusia, it is true, covered herself with tears at the thought of
parting with her mistress and mother; but for the clever girl it was
perfectly evident that by asking for the separation she had cleared
herself from every suspicion of having with preconceived purpose turned
the head of Prince Michael, or even Zamoyski himself.

Princess Griselda, from desire to know surely if there was a conspiracy
between her brother and Kmita, directed the latter to come to her
presence. Her brother's promise not to leave Zamost had calmed her
considerably, it is true; she wished, however, to know more intimately
the man who was to conduct the young lady.

The conversation with Kmita set her at rest thoroughly.

There looked from the blue eyes of the young noble such sincerity and
truth that it was impossible to doubt him. He confessed at once that he
was in love with another, and besides he had neither the wish nor the
head for folly. Finally he gave his word as a cavalier that he would
guard the lady from every misfortune, even if he had to lay down his
head.

"I will take her safely to Pan Sapyeha, for Pan Zamoyski says that the
enemy has left Lublin. But I can do no more; not because I hesitate in
willing service for your highness, since I am always willing to shed my
blood for the widow of the greatest warrior and the glory of the whole
Commonwealth, but because I have my own grievous troubles, out of which
I know not whether I shall bring my life."

"It is a question of nothing more," answered the princess, "than that
you give her into the hands of Pan Sapyeha, and he will not refuse my
request to be her guardian."

Here she gave Kmita her hand, which he kissed with the greatest
reverence, and she said in parting,--

"Be watchful, Cavalier, be watchful, and do not place safety in this,
that the country is free of the enemy."

These last words arrested Kmita; but he had no time to think over them,
for Zamoyski soon caught him.

"Gracious Knight," said he, gayly, "you are taking the greatest
ornament of Zamost away from me."

"But at your wish," answered Kmita.

"Take good care of her. She is a toothsome dainty. Some one may be
ready to take her from you."

"Let him try! Oh, ho! I have given the word of a cavalier to the
princess, and with me my word is sacred."

"Oh, I only say this as a jest. Fear not, neither take unusual
caution."

"Still I will ask of your serene great mightiness a carriage with
windows."

"I will give you two. But you are not going at once, are you?"

"I am in a hurry. As it is, I am here too long."

"Then send your Tartars in advance to Krasnystav. I will hurry off a
courier to have oats ready for them there, and will give you an escort
of my own to that place. No evil can happen to you here, for this is my
country. I will give you good men of the German dragoons, bold fellows
and acquainted with the road. Besides, to Krasnystav the road is as if
cut out with a sickle."

"But why am I to stay here?"

"To remain longer with us; you are a dear guest. I should be glad to
detain you a year. Meanwhile I shall send to the herds at Perespa;
perhaps some horse will be found which will not fail you in need."

Kmita looked quickly into the eyes of his host; then, as if making a
sudden decision, said,--

"I thank you, I will remain, and will send on the Tartars."

He went straight to give them orders, and taking Akbah Ulan to one side
he said,--

"Akbah Ulan, you are to go to Krasnystav by the road, straight as if
cut with a sickle. I stay here, and a day later will move after you
with Zamoyski's escort. Listen now to what I say! You will not go to
Krasnystav, but strike into the first forest, not far from Zamost, so
that a living soul may not know of you; and when you hear a shot on the
highroad, hurry to me, for they are preparing some trick against me in
this place."

"Your will," said Akbah Ulan, placing his hand on his forehead, his
mouth, and his breast.

"I have seen through you, Pan Zamoyski," said Kmita to himself. "In
Zamost you are afraid of your sister therefore you wish to seize the
young lady, and secret her somewhere in the neighborhood, and make of
me the instrument of your desires, and who knows if not to take my
life. But wait! You found a man keener than yourself; you will fall
into your own trap!"

In the evening Lieutenant Shurski knocked at Kmita's door. This
officer, too, knew something, and had his suspicions; and because he
loved Anusia he preferred that she should depart, rather than fall into
the power of Zamoyski. Still he did not dare to speak openly, and
perhaps because he was not sure; but he wondered that Kmita had
consented to send the Tartars on in advance; he declared that the roads
were not so safe as was said, that everywhere armed bands were
wandering,--hands swift to deeds of violence.

Pan Andrei decided to feign that he divined nothing "What can happen to
me?" asked he; "besides, Zamoyski gives me his own escort."

"Bah! Germans!"

"Are they not reliable men?"

"Is it possible to depend upon those dog-brothers ever? It has happened
that after conspiring on the road they went over to the enemy."

"But there are no Swedes on this side of the Vistula."

"They are in Lublin, the dogs! It is not true that they have left. I
advise you honestly not to send the Tartars in advance, for it is
always safer in a large company."

"It is a pity that you did not inform me before. I have one tongue in
my mouth, and an order given I never withdraw."

Next morning the Tartars moved on. Kmita was to follow toward evening,
so as to pass the first night at Krasnystav. Two letters to Pan Sapyeha
were given him,--one from the princess, the other from her brother.

Kmita had a great desire to open the second, but he dared not; he
looked at it, however, before the light, and saw that inside was blank
paper. This discovery was proof to him that both the maiden and the
letters were to be taken from him on the road.

Meanwhile the horses came from Perespa, and Zamoyski presented the
knight with a steed beautiful beyond admiration; the steed he received
with thankfulness, thinking in his soul that he would ride farther on
him than Zamoyski expected. He thought also of his Tartars, who must
now be in the forest, and wild laughter seized him. At times again he
was indignant in soul, and promised to give the master of Zamost a
lesson.

Finally the hour of dinner came, which passed in great gloom. Anusia
had red eyes; the officers were in deep silence. Pan Zamoyski alone was
cheerful, and gave orders to fill the goblets; Kmita emptied his, one
after another. But when the hour of parting came, not many persons took
leave of the travellers, for Zamoyski had sent the officers to their
service. Anusia fell at the feet of the princess, and for a long time
could not be removed from her; the princess herself had evident
disquiet in her face. Perhaps she reproached herself in secret for
permitting the departure of a faithful servant at a period when mishap
might come easily. But the loud weeping of Michael, who held his fists
to his eyes, crying like a school-boy, confirmed the proud lady in her
conviction that it was needful to stifle the further growth of this
boyish affection. Besides, she was quieted by the hope that in the
family of Sapyeha the young lady would find protection, safety, and
also the great fortune which was to settle her fate for the rest of her
life.

"I commit her to your virtue, bravery, and honor," said the princess
once more to Kmita; "and remember that you have sworn to me to conduct
her to Pan Sapyeha without fail."

"I will take her as I would a glass, and in need will wind oakum around
her, because I have given my word; death alone will prevent me from
keeping it," answered the knight.

He gave his arm to Anusia, but she was angry and did not look at him;
he had treated her rather slightingly, therefore she gave him her hand
very haughtily, turning her face and head in another direction.

She was sorry to depart, and fear seized her; but it was too late then
to draw back.

The moment came; they took their seats,--she in the carriage with her
old servant, Panna Suvalski, he on his horse,--and they started. Twelve
German horsemen surrounded the carriage and the wagon with Anusia's
effects. When at last the doors in the Warsaw gate squeaked and the
rattle of wheels was heard on the drop-bridge, Anusia burst into loud
weeping.

Kmita bent toward the carriage. "Fear not, my lady, I will not eat
you!"

"Clown!" thought Anusia.

They rode some time along the houses outside the walls, straight toward
Old Zamost; then they entered fields and a pine-wood, which in those
days stretched along a hilly country to the Bug on one side; on the
other it extended, interrupted by villages, to Zavihost.

Night had fallen, but very calm and clear; the road was marked by a
silver line; only the rolling of the carriage and the tramp of the
horses broke the silence.

"My Tartars must be lurking here like wolves in a thicket," thought
Kmita.

Then he bent his ear.

"What is that?" asked he of the officer who was leading the escort.

"A tramp! Some horseman is galloping after us!" answered the officer.

He had barely finished speaking when a Cossack hurried up on a foaming
horse, crying,--

"Pan Babinich! Pan Babinich! A letter from Pan Zamoyski."

The retinue halted. The Cossack gave the letter to Kmita.

Kmita broke the seal, and by the light of a lantern read as follows:--


"Gracious and dearest Pan Babinich! Soon after the departure of Panna
Borzobogati tidings came to us that the Swedes not only have not left
Lublin, but that they intend to attack my Zamost. In view of this,
further journeying and peregrination become inconvenient. Considering
therefore the dangers to which a fair head might be exposed, we wish to
have Panna Borzobogati in Zamost. Those same knights will bring her
back; but you, who must be in haste to continue your journey, we do not
wish to trouble uselessly. Announcing which will of ours to your grace,
we beg you to give orders to the horseman according to our wishes."


"Still he is honest enough not to attack my life; he only wishes to
make a fool of me," thought Kmita. "But we shall soon see if there is a
trap here or not."

Now Anusia put her head out of the window. "What is the matter?" asked
she.

"Nothing! Pan Zamoyski commends you once more to my bravery. Nothing
more."

Here he turned to the driver,--

"Forward!"

The officer leading the horsemen reined in his horse. "Stop!" cried he
to the driver. Then to Kmita, "Why move on?"

"But why halt longer in the forest?" asked Kmita, with the face of a
stupid rogue.

"For you have received some order."

"And what is that to you? I have received, and that is why I command to
move on."

"Stop!" repeated the officer.

"Move on!" repeated Kmita.

"What is this?" inquired Anusia again.

"We will not go a step farther till I see the order!" said the officer,
with decision.

"You will not see the order, for it is not sent to you."

"Since you will not obey it, I will carry it out. You move on to
Krasnystav, and have a care lest we give you something for the road,
but we will go home with the lady."

Kmita only wished the officer to acknowledge that he knew the contents
of the order; this proved with perfect certainty that the whole affair
was a trick arranged in advance.

"Move on with God!" repeated the officer now, with a threat.

At that moment the horsemen began one after another to take out their
sabres.

"Oh, such sons! not to Zamost did you wish to take the maiden, but
aside somewhere, so that Pan Zamoyski might give free reign to his
wishes; but you have met with a more cunning man!" When Babinich had
said this, he fired upward from a pistol.

At this sound there was such an uproar in the forest, as if the shot
had roused whole legions of wolves sleeping near by. The howl was heard
in front, behind, from the sides. At once the tramp of horses sounded
with the cracking of limbs breaking under their hoofs, and on the road
were seen black groups of horsemen, who approached with unearthly
howling.

"Jesus! Mary! Joseph!" cried the terrified women in the carriage.

Now the Tartars rushed up like a cloud; but Kmita restrained them with
a triple cry, and turning to the astonished officer, began to boast,--

"Know whom you have met! Pan Zamoyski wished to make a fool of me, a
blind instrument. To you he intrusted the functions of a pander, which
you undertook, Sir Officer for the favor of a master. How down to
Zamoyski from Babinich, and tell him that the maiden will go safely to
Pan Sapyeha."

The officer looked around with frightened glance, and saw the wild
faces gazing with terrible eagerness on him and his men. It was evident
that they were waiting only for a word to hurl themselves on the twelve
horsemen and tear them in pieces.

"Your grace, you will do what you wish, for we cannot manage superior
power," said he, with trembling voice "but Pan Zamoyski is able to
avenge himself."

Kmita laughed. "Let him avenge himself on you; for had it not come out
that you knew the contents of the order and had you not opposed the
advance, I should not have been sure of the trick, and should have
given you the maiden straightway. Tell the starosta to appoint a keener
pander than you."

The calm tone with which Kmita said this assured the officer somewhat,
at least on this point,--that death did not threaten either him or his
troopers; therefore he breathed easily, and said,--

"And must we return with nothing to Zamost?"

"You will return with my letter, which will be written on the skin of
each one of you."

"Your grace--"

"Take them!" cried Kmita; and he seized the officer himself by the
shoulder.

An uproar and struggle began around the carriage. The shouts of the
Tartars deadened the cries for assistance and the screams of terror
coming from the breasts of the women.

But the struggle did not last long, for a few minutes later the
horsemen were lying on the road tied, one at the side of the other.

Kmita gave command to flog them with bullock-skin whips, but not beyond
measure, so that they might retain strength to walk back to Zamost. The
common soldiers received one hundred, and the officer a hundred and
fifty lashes, in spite of the prayers and entreaties of Anusia, who not
knowing what was passing around her, and thinking that she had fallen
into terrible hands, began to implore with joined palms and tearful
eyes for her life.

"Spare my life, knight! In what am I guilty before you? Spare me, spare
me!"

"Be quiet, young lady!" roared Kmita.

"In what have I offended?"

"Maybe you are in the plot yourself?"

"In what plot? O God, be merciful to me, a sinner!"

"Then you did not know that Pan Zamoyski only permitted your departure
apparently, so as to separate you from the princess and carry you off
on the road, to make an attempt on your honor in some empty castle?"

"O Jesus of Nazareth!" screamed Anusia.

And there was so much truth and sincerity in that cry that Kmita said
more mildly,--

"How is that? Then you were not in the plot? That may be!"

Anusia covered her face with her hands, but she could say nothing; she
merely repeated, time after time,--

"Jesus, Mary! Jesus, Mary!"

"Calm yourself," said Kmita, still more mildly. "You will go in safety
to Pan Sapyeha, for Pan Zamoyski did not know with whom he had to deal.
See, those men whom they are flogging were to carry you off. I give
them their lives, so that they may tell Pan Zamoyski how smoothly it
went with them."

"Then have you defended me from shame?"

"I have, though I did not know whether you would be glad."

Anusia, instead of making answer or contradiction, seized Pan Andrei's
hand and pressed it to her pale lips; and sparks went from his feet to
his head.

"Give peace, for God's sake!" cried he. "Sit in the carriage, for you
will wet your feet--and be not afraid! You would not be better cared
for with your mother."

"I will go now with you even to the end of the world."

"Do not say such things."

"God will reward you for defending honor."

"It is the first time that I have had the opportunity," said Kmita. And
then he muttered in an undertone to himself: "So far I have defended
her as much as a cat sheds tears."

Meanwhile the Tartars had ceased to beat the horsemen and Pan Andrei
gave command to drive them naked and bloody along the road toward
Zamost. They went, weeping bitterly. Their horses, weapons, and
clothing Kmita gave his Tartars; and then moved on quickly, for it was
unsafe to loiter.

On the road the young knight could not restrain himself from looking
into the carriage to gaze at the flashing eyes and wonderful face of
the maiden. He asked each time if she did not need something, if the
carriage was convenient, or the quick travelling did not tire her too
much.

She answered, with thankfulness, that it was pleasant to her as it had
never been. She had recovered from her terror completely. Her heart
rose in gratitude to her defender, and she thought: "He is not so rude
and surly as I held at first."

"Ai, Olenka, what do I suffer for you!" said Kmita to himself; "do you
not feed me with ingratitude? Had this been in old times, u-ha!"

Then he remembered his comrades and the various deeds of violence which
he had committed in company with them; then he began to drive away
temptation, began to repeat for their unhappy souls, "Eternal rest."

When they had reached Krasnystav, Kmita considered it better not to
wait for news from Zamost, and went on farther. But at parting he wrote
and sent to Zamoyski the following letter:--


SERENE GREAT MIGHTY LORD STAROSTA,[5] and to me very Gracious Favorer
and Benefactor! Whomsoever God has made great in the world, to him He
deals out wit in more bountiful measure. I knew at once that you,
Serene Great Mighty Lord, only wished to put me on trial, when you sent
the order to give up Panna Borzobogati. I knew this all the better when
the horsemen betrayed that they knew the substance of the order, though
I did not show them the letter, and though you wrote to me that the
idea came to you only after my departure. As on the one hand I admire
all the more your penetration, so on the other, to put the careful
guardian more completely at rest, I promise anew that nothing will
suffice to lead me away from fulfilling the function imposed on me. But
since those soldiers, evidently misunderstanding your intention, turned
out to be great ruffians, and even threatened my life, I think that I
should have hit upon your thought if I had commanded to hang them.
Because I did not do so, I beg your forgiveness; still I gave orders to
flog them properly with bullock-skin whips, which punishment, if your
Great Mighty Lordship considers it too small, you can increase
according to your will. With this, hoping that I have earned the
increased confidence and gratitude of your Serene Great Mighty
Lordship, I subscribe myself the faithful and well-wishing servant of
your Serene Great Mighty Lordship.

                                                BABINICH.


The dragoons, when they had dragged themselves to Zamost late at night,
did not dare to appear before the eyes of their master; therefore he
learned of the whole matter from this letter which the Krasnystav
Cossack brought next day.

After he had read Kmita's letter, Zamoyski shut himself up in his rooms
for three days, admitting no attendant save the chamber servants, who
brought him his food. They heard, also, how he swore in French, which
he did only when he was in the greatest fury.

By degrees, however, the storm was allayed. On the fourth day and fifth
Zamoyski was still very silent; he was ruminating over something and
pulling at his mustache; in a week, when he was very pleasant and had
drunk a little at table, he began to twirl his mustache, not to pull
it, and said to Princess Griselda,--

"Lady Sister, you know that there is no lack of penetration in me; a
couple of days ago I tested of purpose that noble who took Anusia, and
I can assure you that he will take her faithfully to Pan Sapyeha."

About a month later, as it seems, Pan Sobiepan turned his heart in
another direction; and besides he became altogether convinced that what
had happened, happened with his will and knowledge.



                             CHAPTER XXII.


The province of Lyubelsk and the greater part of Podlyasye were almost
completely in the hands of Poles, that is, of the confederates and
Sapyeha's men. Since the King of Sweden remained in Prussia, where he
was treating with the elector, the Swedes, not feeling very powerful in
presence of the general uprising, which increased every day, dared not
come out of the towns and castles, and still less to cross to the
eastern side of the Vistula, where the Polish forces were greatest. In
those two provinces, therefore, the Poles were laboring to form a
considerable and well-ordered army, able to meet the regular soldiers
of Sweden. In the provincial towns they were training infantry, and
since the peasants in general had risen, there was no lack of
volunteers; it was only necessary to organize in bodies and regular
commands those chaotic masses of men frequently dangerous to their own
country.

The district captains betook themselves to this labor. Besides, the
king had issued a number of commissions to old and tried soldiers;
troops were enrolled in all provinces, and since there was no lack of
military people in those regions, squadrons of perfect cavalry were
formed. Some went west of the Vistula, others to Charnyetski, still
others to Sapyeha. Such multitudes had taken arms that Yan Kazimir's
forces were already more numerous than those of the Swedes.

A country over whose weakness all Europe had recently wondered, gave
now an example of power unsuspected, not only by its enemies, but by
its own king, and even by those whose faithful hearts, a few months
before, had been rent by pain and despair. Money was found, as well as
enthusiasm and bravery; the most despairing souls were convinced that
there is no position, no fall, no weakness from which there may not be
a deliverance, and that when children are born consolation cannot die.

Kmita went on without hindrance, gathering on his road unquiet spirits,
who joined the chambul with readiness, hoping to find most blood and
plunder in company with the Tartars. These he changed easily into good
and prompt soldiers, for he had the gift to make his subordinates fear
and obey. He was greeted joyously on the road, and that by reason of
the Tartars; for the sight of them convinced men that the Khan was
indeed coming with succor to the Commonwealth. It was declaimed openly
that forty thousand chosen Tartar cavalry were marching to strengthen
Sapyeha. Wonders were told of the "modesty" of these allies,--how they
committed no violence or murder on the road. They were shown as an
example to the soldiers of the country.

Pan Sapyeha was quartered temporarily at Byala. His forces were
composed of about ten thousand regular troops, cavalry and infantry.
They were the remnants of the Lithuanian armies, increased by new men.
The cavalry, especially some of the squadrons, surpassed in valor and
training the Swedish horsemen; but the infantry were badly trained, and
lacked firearms, powder, and cannon. Sapyeha had thought to find these
in Tykotsin; but the Swedes, by blowing themselves up with the powder,
destroyed at the same time all the cannons of the castle.

Besides these forces there were in the neighborhood of Byala twelve
thousand general militia from all Lithuania, Mazovia, and Podlyasye;
but from few of these did the voevoda promise himself service,
especially since having an immense number of wagons they hindered
movement and turned the army into a clumsy, unwieldy multitude.

Kmita thought of one thing in entering Byala. There were under Sapyeha
so many nobles from Lithuania and so many of Radzivill's officers, his
former acquaintances, that he feared they would recognize him and cut
him to pieces before he could cry, "Jesus! Mary!"

His name was detested in Sapyeha's camp and in all Lithuania; for men
still preserved in vivid remembrance the fact that while serving Prince
Yanush, he had cut down those squadrons which, opposing the hetman, had
declared for the country.

Pan Andrei had changed much, and this gave him comfort. First, he had
become thin; second, he had the scar on his face from Boguslav's
bullet; finally, he wore a beard, rather long, pointed in Swedish
fashion, and his mustache he combed upward, so that he was more like
some Erickson than a Polish noble.

"If there is not a tumult against me at once, men will judge me
differently after the first battle," thought Kmita, when entering
Byala.

He arrived in the evening, announced who he was, whence he had come,
that he was bearing letters from the king, and asked a special audience
of the voevoda.

The voevoda received him graciously because of the warm recommendation
of the king, who wrote,--


"We send to you our most faithful servant, who is called the Hector of
Chenstohova, from the time of the siege of that glorious place; and he
has saved our freedom and life at the risk of his own during our
passage through the mountains. Have him in special care, so that no
injustice come to him from the soldiers. We know his real name, and the
reasons for which he serves under an assumed one; no man is to hold him
in suspicion because of this change, or suspect him of intrigues."


"But is it not possible to know why you bear an assumed name?" asked
the voevoda.

"I am under sentence, and cannot make levies in my own name. The king
gave me a commission, and I can make levies as Babinich."

"Why do you want levies if you have Tartars?"

"For a greater force would not be in the way."

"And why are you under sentence?"

"Under the command and protection of whomsoever I go, him I ought to
tell all as to a father. My real name is Kmita."

The voevoda pushed back a couple of steps,--

"He who promised Boguslav to carry off our king, living or dead?"

Kmita related with all his energy how and what had happened,--how,
befogged by Prince Yanush, he had served the Radzivills; how he had
learned their real purposes from the mouth of Boguslav, and then
carried off the latter and thus incurred his implacable vengeance.

The voevoda believed, for he could not refuse belief, especially since
the king's letter confirmed the truth of Kmita's words. Besides, his
soul was so delighted in the voevoda that he would at that moment have
pressed his worst enemy to his heart and forgiven his greatest offence.
This delight was caused by the following passage in the king's
letter:--


"Though the grand baton of Lithuania, unused now after the death of the
voevoda of Vilna, can by usual procedure be given to a successor only
at the Diet, still in the present extraordinary circumstances,
disregarding the usual course, We give this baton to you, greatly
cherished by us, for the good of the Commonwealth and your memorable
services, thinking justly that, God giving peace, no voice at the
coming Diet will be raised against this our choice, and that our act
will find general approval."


Pan Sapyeha, as was said then in the Commonwealth, "had pawned his coat
and sold his last silver spoon;" he had not served his country for
profit, nor for honors. But even the most disinterested man is glad to
see that his services are appreciated, that they are rewarded with
gratitude, that his virtue is recognized. Therefore Sapyeha's serious
face was uncommonly radiant.

This act of the king adorned the house of Sapyeha with new splendor;
and to this no "kinglet" of that time was indifferent,--it were well
had there been none to strive for elevation _per nefas_ (through
injustice). Therefore Pan Sapyeha was ready to do for the king what was
in his power and what was out of his power.

"Since I am hetman," said he to Kmita, "you come under my jurisdiction
and are under my guardianship. There is a multitude here of the general
militia, hence tumult is near; therefore do not show yourself over-much
till I warn the soldiers, and remove that calumny which Boguslav cast
on you."

Kmita thanked him from his heart, and then spoke of Anusia, whom he had
brought to Byala. In answer the hetman fell to scolding, but being in
excellent humor he scolded joyously.

"You made a fool of Sobiepan, as God is dear to me! He sits there with
his sister inside the walls of Zamost, as with the Lord God, behind the
stove, and thinks that every one can do as he does,--raise the skirts
of his coat, turn to the fire, and warm his back. I know the
Podbipientas, for they are related to the Bjostovskis, and the
Bjostovskis to me. The fortune is a lordly one, that is not to be
denied; but though war with the Northerners has weakened it for a time,
still people are alive yet in those regions. Where can anything be
found, where any courts, any officers? Who will take the property and
put the young lady in possession? They have gone stark mad! Boguslav is
sitting on my shoulders; I have my duties in the army, but they would
have me fill my head with women."

"She is not a woman, but a cherry," said Kmita. "She is nothing however
to me. They asked me to bring her here; I have brought her. They asked
me to give her to you; I give her."

The hetman then took Kmita by the ear and said: "But who knows,
protector, in what form you have brought her? God preserve us, people
may say that from the guardianship of Sapyeha she has suffered; and I,
old man, shall have to keep my eyes open. What did you do at the
stopping-places? Tell me right away, Pagan, did you not learn from your
Tartars some heathen customs?"

"At the stopping-places," answered Kmita, jestingly, "I commanded my
attendants to plough my skin with discipline, so as to drive out the
less worthy motives, which have their seat under the skin, and which I
confess were plaguing me worse than horseflies."

"Ah, you see-- Is she a worthy maiden?"

"Really so; and terribly pretty."

"And the Turk was at hand?"

"But she is as honest as a nun; that I must say for her. And as to
suffering I think that would come sooner from the Zamoyski guardianship
than from you."

Here Kmita told what had taken place and how. Then the hetman fell to
clapping him on the shoulder and laughing,--

"Well, you are a crafty fellow! Not in vain do they tell so much of
Kmita. Have no fear! Pan Zamoyski is not a stubborn man, and he is my
friend. His first anger will pass, and he will even laugh at it himself
and reward you."

"I need no reward!" interrupted Kmita.

"It is well that you have ambition and are not looking for favor. Only
serve me against Boguslav, and you will not need to think of past
outlawry."

Sapyeha was astonished when he looked at the soldier's face, which a
moment before was so open and joyous. Kmita at mention of Boguslav grew
pale in an instant, and his face took on wrinkles like the face of a
dog, when preparing to bite.

"Would that the traitor were poisoned with his own spittle, if he could
only fall into my hands before his death!" said he, gloomily.

"I do not wonder at your venom. Have a care, though, that your anger
does not choke your adroitness, for you have to deal with no common
man. It is well that the king sent you hither. You will attack Boguslav
for me, as you once did Hovanski."

"I will attack him better!" said Kmita, with the same gloom.

With this the conversation ended. Kmita went away to sleep in his
quarters, for he was wearied from the road.

Meanwhile the news spread through the army that the king had sent the
baton to their beloved chief. Joy burst out like a flame among
thousands of men. The officers of various squadrons hurried to the
quarters of the hetman. The sleeping town sprang up from its slumber.
Bonfires were kindled. Standard-bearers came with their standards.
Trumpets sounded and kettle-drums thundered; discharges from muskets
and cannon roared. Pan Sapyeha ordered a lordly feast, and they
applauded the whole night through, drinking to the health of the king,
the hetman, and to the coming victory over Boguslav.

Pan Andrei, as was agreed, was not present at the feast.

The hetman at the table began a conversation about Boguslav, and not
telling who that officer was who had come with the Tartars and brought
the baton, he spoke in general of the perversity of Boguslav.

"Both Radzivills," said he, "were fond of intrigues, but Prince
Boguslav goes beyond his dead cousin. You remember, gentlemen, Kmita,
or at least you have heard of him. Now imagine to yourselves, what
Boguslav reported--that Kmita offered to raise his hand on the king our
lord--was not true."

"Still Kmita helped Yanush to cut down good cavaliers."

"It Is true that he helped Yanush; but at last he saw what he was
doing, and then not only did he leave the service, but as you know,
being a man of daring, he attacked Boguslav. It was close work there
for the young prince, and he barely escaped with his life from Kmita's
hands."

"Kmita was a great soldier!" answered many voices.

"The prince through revenge invented against him a calumny at which the
soul shudders."

"The devil could not have invented a keener!"

"Do you know that I have in my hands proofs in black and white that
that was revenge for the change in Kmita?"

"To put infamy in such a way on any one's name! Only Boguslav could do
that! To sink such a soldier!"

"I have heard this," continued the hetman: "Kmita, seeing that nothing
remained for him to do in this region, hurried off to Chenstohova,
rendered there famous services, and then defended the king with his own
breast."

Hearing this, the same soldiers who would have cut Kmita to pieces with
their sabres began to speak of him more and more kindly.

"Kmita will not forgive the calumny, he is not such a man; he will fall
on Boguslav."

"Boguslav has insulted all soldiers, by casting such infamy on one of
them."

"Kmita was cruel and violent, but he was not a parricide."

"He will have vengeance!"

"We will be first to take vengeance for him!"

"If you, serene great mighty hetman, guarantee this with your office,
it must have been so."

"It was so!" said the hetman.

And they lacked little of drinking Kmita's health. But in truth there
were very violent voices against this, especially among the former
officers of Radzivill. Hearing these, the hetman said,--

"And do you know, gentlemen, how this Kmita comes to my mind? Babinich,
the king's courier, resembles him much. At the first moment I was
mistaken myself."

Here Sapyeha began to look around with more severity and to speak with
greater seriousness,--

"Though Kmita were to come here himself, since he has changed, since he
has defended a holy place with immense bravery, I should defend him
with my office of hetman. I ask you therefore, gentlemen, to raise no
disturbance here by reason of this newly arrived. I ask you to remember
that he has come here by appointment of the king and the Khan. But
especially do I recommend this to you who are captains in the general
militia, for with you it is harder to preserve discipline."

Whenever Sapyeha spoke thus, Zagloba alone dared to murmur, all others
would sit in obedience, and so they sat now; but when the hetman's face
grew gladsome again, all rejoiced. The goblets moving swiftly filled
the measure of rejoicing, and the whole town was thundering till
morning, so that the walls of houses were shaking on their foundation,
and the smoke of salutes veiled them, as in time of battle.

Next morning Sapyeha sent Anusia to Grodno with Pan Kotchyts. In
Grodno, from which Hovanski had long since withdrawn, the voevoda's
family was living.

Poor Anusia, whose head the handsome Babinich had turned somewhat, took
farewell of him very tenderly; but he was on his guard, and only at the
very parting did he say to her,--

"Were it not for one devil which sits in my heart like a thorn, I
should surely have fallen in love with you to kill."

Anusia thought to herself that there is no splinter which may not be
picked out with patience and a needle; but she feared somewhat this
Babinich, therefore she said nothing, sighed quietly, and departed.



                             CHAPTER XXIII.


A week after the departure of Anusia with Kotchyts, Sapyeha's camp was
still at Byala. Kmita, with the Tartars, was ordered to the
neighborhood of Rokitno; he was resting too, for the horses needed food
and rest after the long road. Prince Michael Kazimir Radzivill, the
owner of the place by inheritance, came also to Byala; he was a
powerful magnate of the Nyesvyej branch of Radzivills, of whom it was
said that they had inherited from the Kishkis alone seventy towns and
four hundred villages. This Radzivill resembled in nothing his kinsmen
of Birji. Not less ambitious perhaps than they, but differing in faith,
an ardent patriot, and an adherent of the lawful king, he joined with
his whole soul the confederacy of Tyshovtsi, and strengthened it as
best he could. His immense possessions were, it is true, greatly
ravaged by the last war, but still he stood at the head of considerable
forces and brought the hetman no small aid.

Not so much, however, did the number of his soldiers weigh in the
balance as the fact that Radzivill stood against Radzivill; in this way
the last seeming of justice was taken from Boguslav, and his acts were
covered with the open character of invasion and treason.

Therefore Sapyeha saw Prince Michael in his camp with delight. He was
certain now that he would overcome Boguslav, for he surpassed him much
in power; but according to his custom he weighed his plans slowly,
stopped, considered, and summoned councils of officers.

Kmita also was at these councils. He so hated the name Radzivill that
at first sight of Prince Michael he trembled from anger and rage; but
Michael knew how to win people by his countenance alone, on which
beauty was united with kindness. The great qualities of this Radzivill,
the grievous times which he had recently passed while defending the
country from Zolotarenko and Serobryani, his genuine love for the king,
made him one of the most honorable cavaliers of his time. His very
presence in the camp of Sapyeha, the rival of the house of Radzivill,
testified how far the young prince knew how to sacrifice private to
public affairs. Whoso knew him was forced to love him. This feeling
could not be resisted even by the passionate Kmita, despite his first
opposition.

Finally the prince captivated the heart of Pan Andrei by his advice.

This advice was not merely to move against Boguslav, but to move
without negotiations, to dash upon him at once: "Do not let him take
castles; give him neither rest nor chance to draw breath; make war upon
him with his own method." In such decision the prince saw speedy and
certain victory.

"It cannot be that Karl Gustav has not moved also; we must have our
hands free, therefore, as soon as possible, and hasten to succor
Charnyetski."

Of the same opinion was Kmita, who had been fighting three days with
his old evil habit of self-will so as to restrain himself from
advancing without orders.

But Sapyeha liked to act with certainty, he feared every inconsiderate
step; therefore he determined to wait for surer intelligence.

And the hetman had his reasons. The reported expedition of Boguslav
against Podlyasye might be only a snare, a trick of war. Perhaps it was
a feigned expedition with small forces, to prevent the junction of
Sapyeha with the king. That done, Boguslav would escape from before
Sapyeha, receiving battle nowhere, or delaying; but meanwhile Karl
Gustav with the elector would strike Charnyetski, crush him with
superior forces, move against the king himself, and smother the work in
its inception,--the work of defence created by the glorious example of
Chenstohova. Sapyeha was not only a leader, but a statesman. He
explained his reasons with power at the councils, so that even Kmita
was forced in his soul to agree with him. First of all, it was
incumbent to know what course to take. If Boguslav's invasion proved to
be merely a trick, it was sufficient to send a number of squadrons
against him, and move with all speed to Charnyetski against the chief
power of the enemy. The hetman might leave boldly a few or even more
squadrons, for his forces were not all around Byala. Young Pan
Krishtof, or the so-called Kryshtofek Sapyeha, was posted with two
light squadrons and a regiment of infantry at Yavorov; Horotkyevich was
moving around Tykotsin, having under him half a dragoon regiment very
well trained, and five hundred volunteers, besides a light horse
squadron named for Sapyeha; and in Byalystok were land infantry.

These forces would more than suffice to stand against Boguslav, if he
had only a few hundred horses.

But the clear-sighted hetman sent couriers in every direction and
waited for tidings.

At last tidings came; but like thunderbolts, and all the more so that
by a peculiar concurrence of circumstances all came in one evening.

They were just at council in the castle of Byala when an officer of
orderlies entered and gave a letter to the hetman. Barely had the
hetman cast eyes on it when he changed in the face and said,--

"My relative is cut to pieces at Yavorov by Boguslav himself; hardly
has he escaped with his life."

A moment of silence followed.

"The letter is written in Bransk, in fright and confusion," said he;
"therefore it contains not a word touching Boguslav's power, which
must, I think, be considerable, since, as I read, two squadrons and a
regiment of infantry are cut to pieces. It must be, however, that
Boguslav fell on them unawares. The letter gives nothing positive."

"I am certain now," said Prince Michael, "that Boguslav wants to seize
all Podlyasye, so as to make of it a separate or feudal possession in
the treaties. Therefore he has surely come with as much power as he
could possibly get. I have no other proofs save a knowledge of
Boguslav. He cares neither for the Swedes nor the Brandenburgers, only
for himself. He is an uncommon warrior, who trusts in his fortunate
star. He wants to win a province, to avenge Yanush, to cover himself
with glory; and to do this he must have a corresponding power, and has
it, otherwise he would not march on us."

"For everything the blessing of God is indispensable," said Oskyerko;
"and the blessing is with us!"

"Serene great mighty hetman," said Kmita, "information is needed. Let
me loose from the leash with my Tartars, and I will bring you
information."

Oskyerko, who had been admitted to the secret and knew who Babinich
was, supported the proposal at once and with vigor.

"As God is good to me, that is the best idea in the world! Such a man
is needed there, and such troops. If only the horses are rested."

Here Oskyerko was stopped, for the officer of orderlies entered the
room again.

"Serene great mighty hetman!" said he.

Sapyeha slapped his knees and exclaimed. "They have news! Admit them."

After a while two light-horsemen entered, tattered and muddy.

"From Horotkyevich?" asked Sapyeha.

"Yes."

"Where is he now?"

"Killed, or if not killed, we know not where he is."

The hetman rose, but sat down again and inquired calmly,--

"Where is the squadron?"

"Swept away by Prince Boguslav."

"Were many lost?"

"We were cut to pieces; maybe a few were left who were taken captive
like us. Some say that the colonel escaped; but that he is wounded I
saw myself. We escaped from captivity."

"Where were you attacked?"

"At Tykotsin."

"Why did you not go inside the walls, not being in force?"

"Tykotsin is taken."

The hetman covered his eyes for a moment with his hand, then he began
to pass his hand over his forehead.

"Is there a large force with Boguslav?"

"Four thousand cavalry, besides infantry and cannon; the infantry very
well trained. The cavalry moved forward, taking us with them; but
luckily we escaped."

"Whence did you escape?"

"From Drohichyn."

Sapyeha opened wide his eyes. "You are drunk. How could Boguslav come
to Drohichyn? When did he defeat you?"

"Two weeks ago."

"And is he in Drohichyn?"

"His scouting-parties are. He remained in the rear himself, for some
convoy is captured which Pan Kotchyts was conducting."

"He was conducting Panna Borzobogati!" cried Kmita.

A silence followed. Boguslav's success, and so sudden, had confused the
officers beyond measure. All thought in their hearts that the hetman
was to blame for delay, but no one dared say so aloud.

Sapyeha, however, felt that he had done what was proper, and had acted
wisely. Therefore he recovered first from the surprise, sent out the
men with a wave of his hand, and said,--

"These are ordinary incidents of war, which should confuse no one. Do
not think, gentlemen, that we have suffered any defeat. Those regiments
are a loss surely; but the loss might have been a hundred times greater
if Boguslav had enticed us to a distant province. He is coming to us.
We will go out to meet him like hospitable hosts."

Here he turned to the colonels: "According to my orders all must be
ready to move?"

"They are ready," said Oskyerko. "Only saddle the horses and sound the
trumpet."

"Sound it to-day. We move in the morning at dawn, without fail. Pan
Babinich will gallop ahead with his Tartars, and seize with all haste
informants."

Kmita had barely heard this when he was outside the door, and a moment
later hurrying on as his horse could gallop to Rokitno.

And Sapyeha also did not delay long.

It was still night when the trumpets gave out their prolonged sounds;
then cavalry and infantry poured forth into the field; after them
stretched a long train of squeaking wagons. The first gleams of day
were reflected on musket-barrels and spear-points.

And they marched, regiment after regiment, squadron after squadron, in
great regularity. The cavalry sang their matins, and the horses snorted
sharply in the morning coolness, from which the soldiers predicted sure
victory for themselves.

Their hearts were full of consolation; for the knighthood knew from
experience that Sapyeha weighed everything, that he labored with his
head, that he considered every undertaking from both sides, that when
he began a thing he would finish it, and when he moved he would strike.

At Rokitno the lairs of the Tartars were cold; they had gone the night
before, hence must have pushed far in advance. It surprised Sapyeha
that along the road it was difficult to learn anything of them, though
the division, numbering, with volunteers, several hundred, could not
pass without being seen.

The most experienced officers wondered greatly at this march, and at
Pan Babinich for being able to lead in such fashion.

"Like a wolf he goes through the willows, and like a wolf he will
bite," said they; "he is as if born for the work."

But Oskyerko, who, as has been said, knew who Babinich was, said to
Sapyeha,--

"It was not for nothing that Hovanski put a price on his head. God will
give victory to whom he chooses; but this is sure, that war with us
will soon be bitter for Boguslav."

"But it is a pity that Babinich has vanished as if he had fallen into
water," answered the hetman.

Three days passed without tidings. Sapyeha's main forces had reached
Drohichyn, had crossed the Bug, and found no enemy in front. The hetman
began to be disturbed. According to the statements of the light horse,
Boguslav's scouts had reached Drohichyn; it was evident therefore that
Boguslav had determined to withdraw. But what was the meaning of this
withdrawal? Had Boguslav learned that Sapyeha's forces were superior,
and was he afraid to measure strength with him, or did he wish to
entice the hetman far toward the north, to lighten for the King of
Sweden his attack on Charnyetski and the hetmans of the kingdom?
Babinich was to find an informant and let the hetman know. The reports
of the light horse as to the number of Boguslav's troops might be
erroneous; hence the need of precise information at the earliest.

Meanwhile five days more passed, and Babinich gave no account of
himself. Spring was coming; the days were growing warmer; the snow was
melting. The neighborhoods were being covered with water, under which
were sleeping morasses which hindered the march in an unheard of
degree. The greater part of the cannons and wagons the hetman had to
leave in Drohichyn, and go farther on horseback. Hence great
inconvenience and murmuring, especially among the general militia. In
Bransk they came upon such mud that even the infantry could not march
farther. The hetman collected on the road horses from peasants and
small nobles, and seated musketeers on them. The light cavalry took
others; but they had gone too far already, and the hetman understood
that only one thing remained,--to advance with all speed.

Boguslav retreated unceasingly. Along the road they found continual
traces of him in villages burned here and there, in corpses of men
hanging on trees. The small local nobles came every little while with
information to Sapyeha; but the truth was lost, as is usual in
contradictory statements. One saw a single squadron, and swore that the
prince had no more troops; another saw two; a third three, a fourth an
army five miles long. In a word they were fables such as men tell who
know nothing of armies or war.

They had seen Tartars, too, here and there; but the stories concerning
them seemed most improbable, for it was said that they were seen not
behind the prince's army, but in front, marching ahead. Sapyeha panted
angrily when any one mentioned Babinich in his presence, and he said to
Oskyerko,--

"You overrated him. In an evil hour I sent away Volodyovski, for if he
were here I should have had long ago as many informants as I need; but
Babinich is a whirlwind, or even worse. Who knows, he may in truth have
joined Boguslav and be marching in the vanguard."

Oskyerko himself did not know what to think. Meanwhile another week
passed; the army had come to Byalystok.

It was midday.

Two hours later the vanguard gave notice that some detachment was
approaching.

"It may be Babinich!" cried the hetman. "I'll give him _Pater Noster!_"

It was not Babinich himself. But in the camp there rose such commotion
over the arrival of this detachment that Sapyeha went out to see what
was taking place.

Meanwhile officers from different squadrons flew in, crying,--

"From Babinich! Prisoners! A whole band! He seized a crowd of men!"

Indeed the hetman saw a number of tens of men on poor, ragged horses.
Babinich's Tartars drove nearly three hundred men with bound hands,
beating them with bullock-skin whips. The prisoners presented a
terrible sight. They were rather shadows than men. With torn clothing,
half naked, so poor that the bones were pushing through their skin,
bloody, they marched half alive, indifferent to all things, even to the
whistle of the whips which cut them, and to the wild shouts of the
Tartars.

"What kind of men are they?" asked the hetman.

"Boguslav's troops!" answered one of Kmita's volunteers who had brought
the prisoners together with the Tartars.

"But where did you get so many?"

"Nearly half as many more fell on the road, from exhaustion."

With this an old Tartar, a sergeant in the horde, approached, and
beating with the forehead, gave a letter from Kmita to Sapyeha.

The hetman, without delay, broke the seal and began to read aloud:--


"Serene great mighty hetman! If I have sent neither news nor informants
with news hitherto, it is because I went in front, and not in the rear
of Prince Boguslav's army, and I wished to learn the most possible."


The hetman stopped reading.

"That is a devil!" said he. "Instead of following the prince, he went
ahead of him."

"May the bullets strike him!" added Oskyerko, in an undertone.

The hetman read on.


"It was dangerous work, as Boguslav's scouts marched in a wide front;
but after I had cut down two parties and spared none. I worked to the
van of the army, from which movement great confusion came upon the
prince, for he fell to thinking at once that he was surrounded, and as
it were was crawling into a trap."


"That is the reason of this unexpected withdrawal!" cried the hetman.
"A devil, a genuine devil!" He read on with still more curiosity,--


"The prince, not understanding what had happened, began to lose his
head, and sent out party after party, which we cut up notably, so that
none of them returned in the same number. Marching in advance, we
seized provisions, cut dams, destroyed bridges, so that Boguslav's men
advanced with great trouble, neither sleeping nor eating, having rest
neither day nor night. They could not stir from the camp, for the
Tartars seized the unwary; and when the camp was sleeping, the Tartars
howled terribly in the willows; so the enemy, thinking that a great
army was moving on them, had to stand under arms all night. The prince
was brought to great despair, not knowing what to begin, where to go,
how to turn,--for this reason it is needful to march on him quickly,
before his fear passes. He had six thousand troops, but has lost nearly
a thousand. His horses are dying. His cavalry is good; his infantry is
passable; God, however, has granted that from day to day it decreases,
and if our army comes up it will fly apart. I seized in Byalystok the
prince's carriages, some of his provision chests and things of value,
with two cannons; but I was forced to throw most of these into the
river. The traitor from continual rage has grown seriously ill, and is
barely able to sit on his horse; fever leaves him neither night nor
day. Panna Borzobogati is taken, but being ill the prince can make no
attack on her honor. These reports, with the account of Boguslav's
desperation, I got from the prisoners whom my Tartars touched up with
fire, and who if they are touched again will repeat the truth. Now I
commend my obedient services to you, serene great mighty hetman,
begging for forgiveness if I have erred, the Tartars are good fellows,
and seeing a world of plunder, serve marvellously."


"Serene great mighty lord," said Oskyerko, "now you surely regret less
that Volodyovski is away, for he could not equal this devil incarnate.
Oh, he is an ambitious piece; he even hurled the truth into the eyes of
Prince Yanush, not caring whether it was pleasant or unpleasant for
that hetman to hear it. This was his style with Hovanski, but Hovanski
had fifteen times more troops."

"If that is true, we need to advance at the greatest speed," said
Sapyeha.

"Before the prince can collect his wits."

"Let us move on, by the dear God! Babinich will cut the dams, and we
will overtake Boguslav!"

Meanwhile the prisoners, whom the Tartars had kept in a group in front
of Sapyeha, seeing the hetman, fell to groaning and weeping, showing
their misery and calling for mercy in various tongues; for there were
among them Swedes, Germans, and the Scottish guards of Prince Boguslav.
Sapyeha took them from the Tartars, and gave command to feed them and
take their testimony without torture. Their statements confirmed the
truth of Kmita's words; therefore the rest of Sapyeha's army advanced
at great speed.



                             CHAPTER XXIV.


Kmita's next report came from Sokolka, and was brief:


"The prince, to mislead our troops, has feigned a march toward
Shchuchyn, whither he has sent a party. He has gone himself with his
main force to Yanov, and has received there a reinforcement of
infantry, led by Captain Kyritz, eight hundred good men. From the place
where we are the prince's fires are visible. In Yanov he intends to
rest one week. The prisoners say that he is ready for battle. The fever
is shaking him continually."


On receipt of this statement Sapyeha, leaving the remainder of his
cannon and wagons, moved on with cavalry to Sokolka; and at last the
two armies stood eye to eye. It was foreseen too that a battle was
unavoidable; for on one side they could flee no longer, the others
pursuing. Meanwhile, like wrestlers who after a long chase are to seize
each other by the bodies, they lay opposite each other, catching breath
in their panting throats, and resting.

When the hetman saw Kmita he seized him by the shoulders, and said,--

"I was angry with you for not giving an account of yourself for so
long, but I see that you have accomplished more than I could hope for;
and if God gives victory, not mine but yours will be the merit. You
went like an angel guardian after Boguslav."

An ill-omened light gleamed in Kmita's eyes. "If I am his angel
guardian, I must be present at his death."

"God will order that," said the hetman, seriously; "but if you wish the
Lord to bless you, then pursue the enemy of the country, not your own."

Kmita bowed in silence; but it could not be learned whether the
beautiful words of the hetman made any impression on him. His face
expressed implacable hatred, and was the more threatening that the toil
of pursuit after Boguslav had emaciated it still more. Formerly in that
countenance was depicted only daring and insolent wildness; now it had
become also stern and inexorable. You could easily see that he against
whom that man had recorded vengeance in his soul ought to guard
himself, even if he were Radzivill.

He had, in truth, avenged himself terribly. The services he had
rendered in that campaign were immense. By pushing himself in front of
Boguslav he had beaten him from the road, had made his reckoning false,
had fixed in him the conviction that he was surrounded, and had forced
him to retreat. Further he went before him night and day. He destroyed
scouting-parties; he was without mercy for prisoners. In Syemyatiche,
in Botski, in Orel and Byelsk he had fallen in the dark night on the
whole camp.

In Voishki, not far from Zabludovo, in a purely Radzivill country, he
had fallen like a blind hurricane on the quarters of the prince
himself, so that Boguslav, who had just sat down to dinner, almost fell
into his hands; and thanks to Sakovich alone, did he take out his head
alive.

At Byalystok Kmita seized the carriages and camp-chests of Boguslav. He
wearied, weakened, and inflicted hunger on Boguslav's troops. The
choice German infantry and Swedish cavalry which the prince had brought
with him were like walking skeletons, from wandering, from surprises,
from sleeplessness. The mad howling of the Tartars and Kmita's
volunteers was heard in front of them, at the flanks, and in the rear.
Scarcely had a wearied soldier closed his eyes when he had to seize his
weapons. The farther on, the worse the condition.

The small nobility inhabiting those neighborhoods joined with the
Tartars, partly through hatred of the Radzivills of Birji, partly
through fear of Kmita; for he punished beyond measure those who
resisted. His forces increased therefore; those of Boguslav melted.

Besides, Boguslav himself was really ill; and though in the heart of
that man care never had its nest long, and though the astrologers, whom
he believed blindly, had foretold him in Prussia that his person would
meet no harm in that expedition, his ambition suffered harshly more
than once. He, whose name had been repeated with admiration in the
Netherlands, on the Rhine, and in France, was beaten every day in those
deep forests by an unseen enemy, and overcome without a battle.

There was, besides, in that pursuit such uncommon stubbornness and
impetuosity passing the usual measure of war, that Boguslav with his
native quickness divined after a few days that some inexorable personal
enemy was following him. He learned the name Babinich easily, for the
whole neighborhood repeated it; but that name was strange to him. Not
less glad would he be to know the person; and on the road in times of
pursuit he arranged tens and hundreds of ambushes,--always in vain.
Babinich was able to avoid traps, and inflicted defeats where they were
least expected.

At last both armies came to the neighborhood of Sokolka. Boguslav found
there the reinforcement under Kyritz, who, not knowing hitherto where
the prince was, went to Yanov, where the fate of Boguslav's expedition
was to be decided.

Kmita closed hermetically all the roads leading from Yanov to Sokolka,
Korychyn, Kuznitsa, and Suhovola. The neighboring forests, willow
woods, and thickets were occupied by the Tartars. Not a letter could
pass; no wagon with provisions could be brought in. Boguslav himself
was in a hurry for battle before his last biscuit in Yanov should be
eaten.

But as a man of quick wit, trained in every intrigue, he determined to
try negotiations first. He did not know yet that Sapyeha in this kind
of intrigue surpassed him greatly in reasoning and quickness. From
Sokolka then in Boguslav's name came Pan Sakovich, under-chamberlain
and starosta of Oshmiana, the attendant and personal friend of Prince
Boguslav, with a letter and authority to conclude peace.

This Pan Sakovich was a wealthy man, who reached senatorial dignity
later in life, for he became voevoda of Smolensk and treasurer of the
Grand Principality; he was at that time one of the most noted cavaliers
in Lithuania, famed equally for bravery and beauty. Pan Sakovich was of
medium stature; the hair of his head and brows was black as a raven's
wing, but he had pale blue eyes which gazed with marvellous and
unspeakable insolence, so that Boguslav said of him that he stunned
with his eyes as with the back of an axe. He wore foreign garments
which he brought from journeys made with Boguslav; he spoke nearly all
languages; in battle he rushed into the greatest whirl so madly that
among his enemies he was called "the doomed man." But, thanks to his
uncommon strength and presence of mind, he always came out unharmed. It
was said that he had strength to stop a carriage in its course by
seizing the hind wheel; he could drink beyond measure, could toss off a
quart of cream in vodka, and be as sober as if he had taken nothing in
his mouth. With men he was morose, haughty, offensive; in Boguslav's
hand he was as soft as wax. His manners were polished, and though in
the king's chambers he knew how to bear himself, he had a certain
wildness in his spirit which burst forth at times like a flame.

Pan Sakovich was rather a companion than a servant of Boguslav.
Boguslav, who in truth had never loved any one in his life, had an
unconquerable weakness for this man. By nature exceedingly sordid, he
was generous to Sakovich alone. By his influence he raised him to be
under-chamberlain, and had him endowed with the starostaship of
Oshmiana. After every battle Boguslav's first question was: "Where is
Sakovich? has he met with no harm?" The prince depended greatly on the
starosta's counsels, and employed him in war and in negotiations in
which the courage and impudence of Sakovich were very effective.

This time he sent him to Sapyeha. But the mission was
difficult,--first, because the suspicion might easily fall on the
starosta that he had come only to spy out and discover Sapyeha's
strength; second, because the envoy had much to ask and nothing to
offer.

Happily, Pan Sakovich did not trouble himself with anything. He entered
as a victor who comes to dictate terms to the vanquished, and struck
Sapyeha with his pale eyes.

Sapyeha smiled when he saw that pride, but half of his smile was
compassion. Every man may impose much with daring and impudence, but on
people of a certain measure; the hetman was above the measure of
Sakovich.

"My master, prince in Birji and Dubinki, commander-in-chief of the
armies of his princely highness the elector," said Sakovich, "has sent
me with a greeting, and to ask about the health of your worthiness."

"Thank the prince, and say that you saw me well."

Sapyeha took the letter, opened it carelessly enough, read it, and
said,--

"Too bad to lose time. I cannot see what the prince wants. Do you
surrender, or do you wish to try your fortune?"

Sakovich feigned astonishment.

"Whether we surrender? I think that the prince proposes specially in
this letter that you surrender; at least my instructions--"

"Of your instructions we will speak later, my dear Pan Sakovich. We
have chased you nearly a hundred and fifty miles, as a hound does a
hare. Have you ever heard of a hare proposing to a hound to surrender?"

"We have received reinforcements."

"Von Kyritz, with eight hundred men, and so tired that they will lay
down their arms before battle. I will give you Hmelnitski's saying
'There is no time to talk!'"

"The elector with all his power is with us."

"That is well,--I shall not have far to seek him; for I wish to ask him
by what right he sends troops into the Commonwealth, of which he is a
vassal, and to which he is bound in loyalty."

"The right of the strongest."

"Maybe in Prussia such a right exists, but not with us. But if you are
the stronger, take the field."

"The prince would long since have attacked you, were it not for kindred
blood."

"I wonder if that is the only hindrance!"

"The prince wonders at the animosity of the Sapyehas against the house
of Radzivill, and that your worthiness for private revenge hesitates
not to spill the blood of the country."

"Tfu!" cried Kmita, listening behind the hetman's armchair to the
conversation.

Pan Sakovich rose, went to Kmita, and struck him with his eyes. But he
met his own, or better; and in the eyes of Pan Andrei the starosta
found such an answer that he dropped his glance to the floor.

The hetman frowned. "Take your seat, Pan Sakovich. And do you preserve
calm" (turning to Kmita). Then he said to Sakovich,--

"Conscience speaks only the truth, but mouths chew it and spit it into
the world as calumny. He who with foreign troops attacks a country,
inflicts wrong on him who defends it. God hears this, and the heavenly
chronicler will inscribe."

"Through hatred of the Sapyehas to the Radzivills was the prince
voevoda of Vilna consumed."

"I hate traitors, not the Radzivills; and the best proof of this is
that Prince Michael Radzivill is in my camp now. Tell me what is your
wish?"

"Your worthiness, I will tell what I have in my heart; he hates who
sends secret assassins."

Pan Sapyeha was astonished in his turn.

"I send assassins against Prince Boguslav?"

"That is the case!"

"You have gone mad!"

"The other day they caught, beyond Yanov, a murderer who once made an
attack on the life of the prince. Tortures brought him to tell who sent
him."

A moment of silence followed; but in that silence Pan Sapyeha heard how
Kmita, standing behind him, repeated twice through his set lips, "Woe,
woe!"

"God is my judge," answered the hetman, with real senatorial dignity,
"that neither to you nor your prince shall I ever justify myself; for
you were not made to be my judges. But do you, instead of loitering,
tell directly what you have come for, and what conditions your prince
offers."

"The prince, my lord, has destroyed Horotkyevich, has defeated Pan
Krishtof Sapyeha, taken Tykotsin; therefore he can justly call himself
victor, and ask for considerable advantages. But regretting the loss of
Christian blood, he desires to return in quiet to Prussia, requiring
nothing more than the freedom of leaving his garrisons in the castles.
We have also taken prisoners not a few, among whom are distinguished
officers, not counting Panna Anusia Borzobogati, who has been sent
already to Taurogi. These may be exchanged on equal terms."

"Do not boast of your victories, for my advance guard, led by Pan
Babinich here present, pressed you for a hundred and fifty miles; you
retreated before it, lost twice as many prisoners as you took
previously; you lost wagons, cannon, camp-chests. Your army is
fatigued, dropping from hunger, has nothing to eat; you know not
whither to turn. You have seen my army; I did not ask to have your eyes
bound purposely, that you might know whether you are able to measure
forces with us. As to that young lady, she is not under my
guardianship, but that of Pan Zamoyski and Princess Griselda
Vishnyevetski. The prince will reckon with them if he does her any
injustice. But speak with wisdom; otherwise I shall order Pan Babinich
to march at once."

Sakovich, instead of answering, turned to Kmita: "Then you are the man
who made such onsets on the road? You must have learned your murderous
trade under Kmita--"

"Learn on your own skin whether I practised well!"

The hetman again frowned. "You have nothing to do here," said he to
Sakovich; "you may go."

"Your worthiness, give me at least a letter."

"Let it be so. Wait at Pan Oskyerko's quarters for a letter."

Hearing this, Pan Oskyerko conducted Sakovich at once to his quarters.
The hetman waved his hand as a parting; then he turned to Pan Andrei.
"Why did you say 'Woe,' when he spoke of that man whom they seized?"
asked he, looking quickly and severely into the eyes of the knight.
"Has hatred so deadened your conscience that you really sent a murderer
to the prince?"

"By the Most Holy Lady whom I defended, no!" answered Kmita; "not
through strange hands did I wish to reach his throat."

"Why did you say 'Woe'? Do you know that man?"

"I know him," answered Kmita, growing pale from emotion and rage. "I
sent him from Lvoff to Taurogi--Prince Boguslav took Panna Billevich to
Taurogi--I love that lady. We were to marry--I sent that man to get me
news of her. She was in such hands--"

"Calm yourself!" said the hetman. "Have you given him any letters?"

"No; she would not read them."

"Why?"

"Boguslav told her that I offered to carry away the king."

"Great are your reasons for hating him."

"True, your worthiness, true."

"Does the prince know that man?"

"He knows him. That is the sergeant Soroka. He helped me to carry off
Boguslav."

"I understand," said the hetman; "the vengeance of the prince is
awaiting him."

A moment of silence followed.

"The prince is in a trap," said the hetman, after a while; "maybe he
will consent to give him up."

"Let your worthiness," said Kmita, "detain Sakovich, and send me to the
prince. Perhaps I may rescue Soroka."

"Is his fate such a great question for you?"

"An old soldier, an old servant; he carried me in his arms. A multitude
of times he has saved my life. God would punish me were I to abandon
him in such straits." And Kmita began to tremble from pity and anxiety.

But the hetman said: "It is no wonder to me that the soldiers love you,
for you love them. I will do what I can. I will write to the prince
that I will free for him whomsoever he wishes for that soldier, who
besides at your command has acted as an innocent agent."

Kmita seized his head: "What does he care for prisoners? he will not
let him go for thirty of them."

"Then he will not give him to you; he will even attempt your life."

"He would give him for one,--for Sakovich."

"I cannot imprison Sakovich; he is an envoy."

"Detain him, and I will go with a letter to the prince. Perhaps I shall
succeed--God be with him! I will abandon my revenge, if he will give me
that soldier."

"Wait," said the hetman; "I can detain Sakovich. Besides that I will
write to the prince to send me a safe-conduct without a name."

The hetman began to write at once. An hour later a Cossack was
galloping with a letter to Yanov, and toward evening he returned with
Boguslav's answer:--


"I send according to request the safe-conduct with which every envoy
may return unharmed, though it is a wonder to me that your worthiness
should ask for a conduct while you have such a hostage as my servant
and friend Pan Sakovich, for whom I have so much love that I would give
all the officers in my army for him. It is known also that envoys are
not killed, but are usually respected even by wild Tartars with whom
your worthiness is making war against my Christian army. Now,
guaranteeing the safety of your envoy by my personal princely word, I
subscribe myself, etc."


That same evening Kmita took the safe-conduct and went with the two
Kyemliches. Pan Sakovich remained in Sokolka as a hostage.



                              CHAPTER XXV.


It was near midnight when Pan Andrei announced himself to the advanced
pickets of the prince, but no one was sleeping in the whole camp. The
battle might begin at any moment, therefore they had prepared for it
carefully. Boguslav's troops had occupied Yanov itself; they commanded
the road from Sokolka, which was held by artillery, managed by the
elector's trained men. There were only three cannons, but abundance of
powder and balls. On both sides of Yanov, among the birch groves,
Boguslav gave orders to make intrenchments and to occupy them with
double-barrelled guns and infantry. The cavalry occupied Yanov itself,
the road behind the cannons, and the intervals between the trenches.
The position was defensible enough, and with fresh men defence in it
might be long and bloody; but of fresh soldiers there were only eight
hundred under Kyritz; the rest were so wearied that they could barely
stand on their feet. Besides, the howling of the Tartars was heard in
Suhovola at midnight, and later in the rear of Boguslav's ranks; hence
a certain fear was spread among the soldiers. Boguslav was forced to
send in that direction all his light cavalry, which after it had gone
three miles dared neither return nor advance, for fear of ambushes in
the forest.

Boguslav, though fever together with violent chills was tormenting him
more than ever, commanded everything in person; but since he rode with
difficulty he had himself carried by four soldiers in an open litter.
In this way he had examined the road as well as the birch groves, and
was entering Yanov when he was informed that an envoy from Sapyeha was
approaching.

They were already on the street. Boguslav was unable to recognize Kmita
because of the darkness, and because Pan Andrei, through excess of
caution on the part of officers in the advance guard, had his head
covered with a bag in which there was an opening only for his mouth.

The prince noticed the bag when Kmita, after dismounting, stood near
him; he gave command to remove it at once.

"This is Yanov," said he, "and there is no reason for secrecy." Then he
turned in the darkness to Pan Andrei: "Are you from Pan Sapyeha?"

"I am."

"And what is Pan Sakovich doing there?"

"Pan Oskyerko is entertaining him."

"Why did you ask for a safe conduct when you have Sakovich? Pan Sapyeha
is too careful, and let him see to it that he is not too clever."

"That is not my affair," answered Kmita.

"I see that the envoy is not over-given to speech."

"I have brought a letter, and in the quarters I will speak of my own
affair."

"Is there a private question?"

"There will be a request to your highness."

"I shall be glad not to refuse it. Now I beg you to follow. Mount your
horse; I should ask you to the litter, but it is too small."

They moved on. The prince in the litter and Kmita at one side on
horseback. They looked in the darkness without being able to
distinguish the faces of each other. After a while the prince, in spite
of furs, began to shake so that his teeth chattered. At last he said,--

"It has come on me grievously; if it were--brr!--not for this, I would
give other conditions."

Kmita said nothing, and only wished to pierce with his eyes the
darkness, in the middle of which the head and face of the prince were
outlined in indefinite gray and white features. At the sound of
Boguslav's voice and at sight of his figure all the former insults, the
old hatred, and the burning desire for revenge so rose in Kmita's heart
that they turned almost to madness. His hand of itself sought the
sword, which had been taken from him; but at his girdle he had the
baton with an iron head, the ensign of his rank of colonel; the devil
then began to whirl in his brain at once, and to whisper: "Cry in his
ear who you are, and smash his head into bits. The night is dark, you
will escape. The Kyemliches are with you. You will rub out a traitor
and pay for injustice. You will rescue Olenka, Soroka-- Strike!
strike!"

Kmita came still nearer the litter, and with trembling hand began to
draw forth the baton. "Strike!" whispered the devil; "you will serve
the country."

Kmita had now drawn out the baton, and he squeezed the handle as if
wishing to crush it in his hand. "One, two, three!" whispered the
devil.

But at that moment Kmita's horse, whether because he had hit the helmet
of the soldier with his nose, or had shied, it is enough that he
stumbled violently. Kmita pulled the reins. During this time the litter
had moved on several steps. The hair stood on the head of the young
man.

"O Most Holy Mother, restrain my hand!" whispered he, through his set
teeth. "O Most Holy Mother, save me! I am here an envoy; I came from
the hetman, and I want to murder like a night assassin. I am a noble; I
am a servant of Thine. Lead me not into temptation!"

"But why are you loitering?" asked Boguslav, in a voice broken by
fever.

"I am here!"

"Do you hear the cocks crowing beyond the fences? It is needful to
hurry, for I am sick and want rest."

Kmita put the baton behind his belt and rode farther, near the litter.
Still he could not find peace. He understood that only with cool blood
and self-command could he free Soroka; therefore he stipulated with
himself in advance what words to use with the prince so as to incline
and convince him. He vowed to have only Soroka in view, to mention
nothing else, and especially not Olenka. And he felt how in the
darkness a burning blush covered his face at the thought that perhaps
the prince himself would mention her, and maybe mention something that
Pan Andrei would not be able to endure or listen to.

"Let him not mention her," said he to himself; "let him not allude to
her, for in that is his death and mine. Let him have mercy upon
himself, if he lacks shame."

Pan Andrei suffered terribly; his breath failed him, and his throat was
so straitened that he feared lest he might not be able to bring forth
the words when he came to speak. In this stifling oppression he began
the Litany.

After a time relief came; he was quieted considerably, and that grasp
as it were of an iron hand squeezing his throat was relaxed.

They had now arrived at the prince's quarters. The soldiers put down
the litter; two attendants took the prince by the armpits; he turned to
Kmita, and with his teeth chattering continually, said,--

"I beg you to follow. The chill will soon pass; then we can speak."

After a while they found themselves in a separate apartment in which
heaps of coals were glowing in a fireplace, and in which was
unendurable heat. His servants placed Prince Boguslav on a long
campaign arm-chair covered with furs, and brought a light. Then the
attendants withdrew. The prince threw his head back, closed his eyes,
and remained in that position motionless for a time; at last he said,--

"Directly,--let me rest."

Kmita looked at him. The prince had not changed much, but the fever had
pinched his face. He was painted as usual, and his cheeks touched with
color; but just for that reason, when he lay there with closed eyes and
head thrown back, he was somewhat like a corpse or a wax figure. Pan
Andrei stood before him in the bright light. The prince began to open
his lids lazily; suddenly he opened them completely, and a flame, as it
were, flew over his face. But it remained only an instant; then again
he closed his eyes.

"If thou art a spirit, I fear thee not," said he; "but vanish."

"I have come with a letter from the hetman," answered Kmita.

Boguslav shuddered a little, as if he wished to shake off visions; then
he looked at Kmita and asked,--

"Have I been deceived in you?"

"Not at all," answered Pan Andrei, pointing with his finger to the
scar.

"That is the second!" muttered the prince to himself; and he added
aloud, "Where is the letter?"

"Here it is," said Kmita, giving the letter.

Boguslav began to read, and when he had finished a marvellous light
flashed in his eyes.

"It is well," said he; "there is loitering enough! Tomorrow the
battle--and I am glad, for I shall not have a fever."

"And we, too, are glad," answered Kmita.

A moment of silence followed, during which these two inexorable enemies
measured each other with a certain terrible curiosity. The prince first
resumed the conversation.

"I divine that it was you who attacked me with the Tartars?"

"It was T."

"And did you not fear to come here?"

Kmita did not answer.

"Did you count on our relationship through the Kishkis? For you and I
have our reckonings. I can tear you out of your skin, Sir Cavalier."

"You can, your highness."

"You came with a safe-conduct, it is true. I understand now why Pan
Sapyeha asked for it. But you have attempted my life. Sakovich is
detained there; but Sapyeha has no right to Sakovich, while I have a
right to you, cousin."

"I have come with a prayer to your highness."

"I beg you to mention it. You can calculate that for you everything
will be done. What is the prayer?"

"You have here a captive soldier, one of those men who aided me in
carrying you off. I gave orders, he acted as a blind instrument. Be
pleased to set that man at liberty."

Boguslav thought awhile.

"I am thinking," said he, "which is greater,--your daring as a soldier,
or your insolence as a petitioner."

"I do not ask this man from you for nothing."

"And what will you give me for him?"

"Myself."

"Is it possible that he is such a precious soldier? You pay
bountifully, but see that that is sufficient; for surely you would like
to ransom something else from me."

Kmita came a step nearer to the prince, and grew so awfully pale that
Boguslav, in spite of himself, looked at the door, and notwithstanding
all his daring he changed the subject of conversation.

"Pan Sapyeha will not entertain such an agreement. I should be glad to
hold you; but I have guaranteed with my word of a prince your safety."

"I will write by that soldier to the hetman that I remain of my own
will."

"And he will declare that, in spite of your will, I must send you. You
have given him services too great. He will not set Sakovich free, and
Sakovich I prize higher than you."

"Then, your highness, free that soldier, and I will go on my word where
you command."

"I may fall to-morrow; I care nothing for treaties touching the day
after."

"I implore your highness for that man. I--"

"What will you do?"

"I will drop my revenge."

"You see, Pan Kmita, many a time have I gone against a bear with a
spear, not because I had to do so, but from desire. I am glad when some
danger threatens, for life is less dull for me. In this case I reserve
your revenge as a pleasure; for you are, I must confess, of that breed
of bears which seek the hunter themselves."

"Your highness," said Kmita, "for small mercies God often forgives
great sins. Neither of us knows when it will come to him to stand
before the judgment of Christ."

"Enough!" said the prince. "I compose psalms for myself in spite of the
fever, so as to have some merit before the Lord; should I need a
preacher I should summon my own. You do not know how to beg with
sufficient humility, and you go in round-about ways. I will show you
the method myself: strike to-morrow in the battle on Sapyeha, and after
to-morrow I will let out the soldier and forgive you your sins. You
betrayed Radzivill; betray now Sapyeha."

"Is this the last word of your highness? By all the saints, I implore
you!"

"No! Devil take you! And you change in the face--But don't come too
near, for, though I am ashamed to call attendants--look here! You are
too bold!"

Boguslav pointed at a pistol-barrel peeping from under the fur with
which it was covered, and looked with sparkling eyes into Kmita's eyes.

"Your highness!" cried Kmita, almost joining his hands in prayer, but
with a face changed by wrath.

"You beg, but you threaten," said Boguslav; "you bend your neck, but
the devil is gnashing his teeth at me from behind your collar. Pride is
gleaming in your eyes, and in your mouth it sounds as in a cloud. With
your forehead to the Radzivill feet when you beg, my little man! Beat
with your forehead on the floor, then I will answer."

Pan Andrei's face was as pale as a piece of linen; he drew his hand
over his moist forehead, his eyes, his face; and he spoke with such a
broken voice, as if the fever from which the prince suffered had
suddenly sprung upon him.

"If your highness will free for me that old soldier, I am ready to fall
at your feet."

Satisfaction gleamed in Boguslav's eyes. He had brought down his enemy,
bent his proud neck. Better food he could not give to his revenge and
hatred.

Kmita stood before him with hair erect in his forelock, trembling in
his whole body. His face, resembling even in rest the head of a hawk,
recalled all the more an enraged bird of prey. You could not tell
whether at the next moment he would throw himself at the feet, or hurl
himself at the breast of the prince. But Boguslav not taking his eyes
from him, said,--

"Before witnesses! before people!" And he turned to the door. "Hither!"

A number of attendants, Poles and foreigners, came in; after them
officers entered.

"Gracious gentlemen!" said the prince, "behold Pan Kmita, the banneret
of Orsha and envoy of Pan Sapyeha, who has come to beg a favor of me,
and he wishes to have all you gentlemen as witnesses."

Kmita tottered like a drunken man, groaned, and fell at Boguslav's
feet. The prince stretched his feet purposely so that the end of his
riding-boot touched the forehead of the knight.

All looked in silence, astonished at the famous name, as well as at
this,--that he who bore it was now an envoy from Pan Sapyeha. All
understood, too, that something uncommon was taking place.

The prince rose, and without saying a word passed into the adjoining
chamber, beckoning to two attendants to follow him.

Kmita rose. His face showed no longer either anger or rapacity, merely
indifference and insensibility. He appeared unconscious of what was
happening to him, and his energy seemed broken completely.

Half an hour passed; an hour. Outside the windows was heard the tramp
of horses' feet and the measured tread of soldiers; he sat continually
as if of stone.

Suddenly the door opened. An officer entered, an old acquaintance of
Kmita's from Birji, and eight soldiers,--four with muskets, four
without firearms,--with sabres.

"Gracious Colonel, rise!" said the officer, politely.

Kmita looked on him wanderingly. "Glovbich!" said he, recognizing the
officer.

"I have an order," answered Glovbich, "to bind your hands and conduct
you beyond Yanov. The binding is for a time, then you will go free;
therefore I beg you not to resist."

"Bind!" answered Kmita.

And he permitted them to tie him. But they did not tie his feet. The
officer led him out of the room and on foot through Yanov. Then they
advanced for about an hour. On the road some horsemen joined them.
Kmita heard them speaking in Polish; the Poles, who served with
Boguslav, all knew the name of Kmita, and therefore were most curious
to know what would happen to him. The party passed the birch grove and
came to an open field, on which Pan Andrei saw a detachment of the
light Polish squadron of Boguslav.

The soldiers stood in rank, forming a square; in the middle was a space
in which were two foot-soldiers holding horses harnessed to draw, and
some men with torches.

By the light of the torches Pan Andrei saw a freshly sharpened stake
lying on the ground with the large end fastened in a great log.

A shiver passed through Kmita involuntarily. "That is for me," thought
he; "Boguslav has ordered them to draw me on the stake with horses. He
sacrifices Sakovich to his vengeance."

But he was mistaken; the stake was intended first for Soroka.

By the quivering flames Pan Andrei saw Soroka himself; the old soldier
was sitting there at the side of the log on a stool, without a cap and
with bound hands, guarded by four soldiers. A man dressed in a short
shuba without sleeves was at that moment giving him in a shallow cup
gorailka, which Soroka drank eagerly enough. When he had drunk, he
spat; and since at that very moment Kmita was placed between two
horsemen in the first rank, Soroka saw him, sprang from the stool and
straightened himself as if on military parade.

For a while they looked the one at the other. Soroka's face was calm
and resigned; he only moved his jaws as if chewing.

"Soroka!" groaned Kmita, at last.

"At command!" answered the soldier.

And again silence followed. What had they to say at such a moment? Then
the executioner, who had given Soroka the vodka, approached him.

"Well, old man,"' said he, "it is time for you!"

"And you will draw me on straight?"

"Never fear."

Soroka feared not; but when he felt on his shoulder the hand of the
executioner, he began to pant quickly and loudly. At last he said,--

"More gorailka!"

"There is none!"

Suddenly one of the soldiers pushed out of the rank and gave a
canteen,--

"Here is some; give it to him."

"To the rank!" commanded Glovbich.

Still the man in the short shuba held the canteen to Soroka's mouth; he
drank abundantly, and after he had drunk breathed deeply.

"See!" said he, "the lot of a soldier after thirty years' service.
Well, if it is time, it is time!"

Another executioner approached and they began to undress him.

A moment of silence. The torches trembled in the hands of those holding
them; it became terrible for all.

Meanwhile from the ranks surrounding the square was wrested a murmur of
dissatisfaction, which became louder each instant: "A soldier is not an
executioner; he gives death himself, but does not wish to see torture."

"Silence!" cried Glovbich.

The murmur became a loud bustle, in which were heard single words:
"Devils!" "Thunders!" "Pagan service!"

Suddenly Kmita shouted as if they had been drawing him on to the
stake,--

"Stop!"

The executioner halted involuntarily. All eyes were turned to Kmita.

"Soldiers!" shouted Pan Andrei, "Prince Boguslav is a traitor to the
king and the Commonwealth! You are surrounded, and to-morrow you will
be cut to pieces. You are serving a traitor; you are serving against
the country! But whoso leaves this service leaves the traitor; to him
forgiveness of the king, forgiveness of the hetman! Choose! Death and
disgrace, or a reward to-morrow! I will pay wages, and a ducat a
man,--two ducats a man! Choose! It is not for you, worthy soldiers, to
serve a traitor! Long life to the king! Long life to the grand hetman
of Lithuania!"

The disturbance was turned into thunder; the ranks were broken. A
number of voices shouted,--

"Long life to the king!"

"We have had enough of this service!"

"Destruction to traitors!"

"Stop! stop!" shouted other voices.

"To-morrow you will die in disgrace!" bellowed Kmita.

"The Tartars are in Suhovola!"

"The prince is a traitor!"

"We are fighting against the king!"

"Strike!"

"To the prince!"

"Halt!"

In the disturbance some sabre had cut the ropes tying Kmita's hands. He
sprang that moment on one of the horses which were to draw Soroka on
the stake, and cried from the horse,--

"Follow me to the hetman!"

"I go!" shouted Glovbich. "Long life to the king!"

"May he live!" answered fifty voices, and fifty sabres glittered at
once.

"To horse, Soroka!" commanded Kmita.

There were some who wished to resist, but at sight of the naked sabres
they grew silent. One, however, turned his horse and vanished from the
eye in a moment. The torches went out. Darkness embraced all.

"After me!" shouted Kmita. An orderless mass of men moved from the
place, and then stretched out in a long line.

When they had gone two or three furlongs they met the infantry pickets
who occupied in large parties the birch grove on the left side.

"Who goes?"

"Glovbich with a party!"

"The word?"

"Trumpets!"

"Pass!"

They rode forward, not hurrying over-much; then they went on a trot.

"Soroka!" said Kmita.

"At command!" answered the voice of the sergeant at his side.

Kmita said nothing more, but stretching out his hand, put his palm on
Soroka's head, as if wishing to convince himself that he was riding
there. The soldier pressed Pan Andrei's hand to his lips in silence.

Then Glovbich called from the other side,--

"Your grace! I wanted long to do what I have done to-day."

"You will not regret it!"

"I shall be thankful all my life to you."

"Tell me, Glovbich, why did the prince send you, and not a foreign
regiment, to the execution?"

"Because he wanted to disgrace you before the Poles. The foreign
soldiers do not know you."

"And was nothing to happen to me?"

"I had the order to cut your bonds; but if you tried to defend Soroka
we were to bring you for punishment to the prince."

"Then he was willing to sacrifice Sakovich," muttered Kmita.

Meanwhile Prince Boguslav in Yanov, wearied with the fever and the toil
of the day, had gone to sleep. He was roused from slumber by an uproar
in front of his quarters and a knocking at the door.

"Your highness, your highness!" cried a number of voices.

"He is asleep, do not rouse him!" answered the pages.

But the prince sat up in bed and cried,--

"A light!"

They brought in a light, and at the same time the officer on duty
entered.

"Your highness," said he, "Sapyeha's envoy has brought Glovbich's
squadron to mutiny and taken it to the hetman."

Silence followed.

"Sound the kettle-drums and other drums!" said Boguslav at last; "let
the troops form in rank!"

The officer went out; the prince remained alone.

"That is a terrible man!" said he to himself; and he felt that a new
paroxysm of fever was seizing him.



                             CHAPTER XXVI.


It is easy to imagine Sapyeha's amazement when Kmita not only returned
safely himself, but brought with him a number of tens of horsemen and
his old servant. Kmita had to tell the hetman and Oskyerko twice what
had happened, and how it had happened; they listened with curiosity,
clapping their hands frequently and seizing their heads.

"Learn from this," said the hetman, "that whoso carries vengeance too
far, from him it often slips away like a bird through the fingers.
Prince Boguslav wanted to have Pole's as witnesses of your shame and
suffering so as to disgrace you the more, and he carried the matter too
far. But do not boast of this, for it was the ordinance of God which
gave you victory, though, in my way, I will tell you one thing,--he is
a devil; but you too are a devil! The prince did ill to insult you."

"I will not leave him behind in vengeance, and God grant that I shall
not overdo it."

"Leave vengeance altogether, as Christ did; though with one word he
might have destroyed the Jews."

Kmita said nothing, and there was no time for discussion; there was not
even time for rest. He was mortally wearied, and still he had
determined to go that night to his Tartars, who were posted in the
forests and on the roads in the rear of Boguslav's army. But people of
that period slept soundly on horseback. Pan Andrei simply gave command
then to saddle a fresh horse, promising himself to slumber sweetly on
the road.

When he was mounting Soroka came to him and stood straight as in
service.

"Your grace!" said he.

"What have you to say, old man?"

"I have come to ask when I am to start?"

"For what place?"

"For Taurogi."

Kmita laughed: "You will not go to Taurogi, you will go with me."

"At command!" answered the sergeant, striving not to show his delight

They rode on together. The road was long, for they had to go around by
forests, so as not to fall into Boguslav's hands; but Kmita and Soroka
slept a hundred fold, and came to the Tartars without any accident.

Akbah Ulan presented himself at once before Babinich, and gave him a
report of his activity. Pan Andrei was satisfied. Every bridge had been
burned, the dams were cut; that was not all, the water of springtime
had overflowed, changing the fields, meadows, and roads in the lower
places into muddy quagmires.

Boguslav had no choice but to fight, to conquer or perish; it was
impossible for him to think of retreat.

"Very well," said Kmita; "he has good cavalry, but heavy. He will not
have use for it in the mud of to-day."

Then he turned to Akbah Ulan. "You have grown poor," said he, striking
him on the stomach with his fist; "but after the battle you will fill
your paunch with the prince's ducats."

"God has created the enemy, so that men of battle might have some one
to plunder," said the Tartar, with seriousness.

"But Boguslav's cavalry stands in front of you."

"There are some hundreds of good horses, and yesterday a regiment of
infantry came and intrenched itself."

"But could they not be enticed to the field?"

"They will not come out."

"But turn them, leave them in the rear, and go to Yanov."

"They occupy the road."

"Then we must think of something!" Kmita began to stroke his forelock
with his hand: "Have you tried to steal up to them? How far will they
follow you out?"

"A furlong, two,--not farther."

"Then we must think of something!" repeated Kmita.

But that night they thought of nothing. Next morning, however, Kmita
went with the Tartars toward the camp lying between Suhovol and Yanov,
and discovered that Akbah Ulan had exaggerated, saying that the
infantry was intrenched on that side; for they had little ditches,
nothing more. It was possible to make a protracted defence from them,
especially against Tartars, who did not go readily to the attack of
such places; but it was impossible for men in them to think of enduring
any kind of siege.

"If I had infantry," thought Kmita, "I would go into fire."

But it was difficult even to dream of bringing infantry; for, first,
Sapyeha himself had not very many; second, there was no time to bring
them.

Kmita approached so closely that Boguslav's infantry opened fire on
him; but he did not care. He rode among the bullets and examined,
looked around; and the Tartars, though less enduring of fire, had to
keep pace with him. Then cavalry rushed out and undertook to flank him.
He retreated about three thousand yards and turned again. But they had
ridden back toward the trenches. In vain did the Tartars let off a
cloud of arrows after them. Only one man fell from his horse, and that
one his comrades saved, carried in.

Kmita on returning, instead of riding straight to Suhovola, rushed
toward the west and came to the Kamyonka.

This swampy river had overflowed widely, for that year the springtime
was wonderfully abundant in water. Kmita looked at the river, threw a
number of broken branches into it so as to measure the speed of the
current, and said to Ulan,--

"We will go around their flank and strike them in the rear."

"Horses cannot swim against the current."

"It goes slowly. They will swim! The water is almost standing."

"The horses will be chilled, and the men cannot endure it. It is cold
yet."

"Oh, the men will swim holding to the horses' tails! That is your
Tartar way."

"The men will grow stiff."

"They will get warm under fire."

"Kismet (fate)!"

Before it had grown dark in the world, Kmita had ordered them to cut
bunches of willows, dry reeds, and rushes, and tie them to the sides of
the horses. When the first star appeared, he sent about eight hundred
horses into the water, and they began to swim. He swam himself at the
head of them; but soon he saw that they were advancing so slowly that
in two days they would not swim past the trenches. Then he ordered them
to swim to the other bank.

That was a dangerous undertaking. The other bank was steep and swampy.
The horses, though light, sank in it to their bellies. But Kmita's men
pushed forward, though slowly and saving one another, while advancing a
couple of furlongs.

The stars indicated midnight. Then from the south came to them echoes
of distant fighting.

"The battle has begun!" shouted Kmita.

"We shall drown!" answered Akbah Ulan.

"After me!"

The Tartars knew not what to do, when on a sudden they saw that Kmita's
horse issued from the mud, evidently finding firm footing.

In fact, a bench of sand had begun. On the top of it there was water to
the horses' breasts, but under foot was solid ground. They went
therefore more swiftly. On the left distant fires were gleaming.

"Those are the trenches!" said Kmita, quietly. "Let us avoid them, go
around!"

After a while they had really passed the trenches. Then they turned to
the left, and put their horses into the river again, so as to land
beyond the trenches.

More than a hundred horses were swamped at the shore; but almost all
the men came out. Kmita ordered those who had lost their beasts to sit
behind other horsemen, and they moved toward the trenches. First he
left volunteers with the order not to disturb the trenches till he
should have gone around them to the rear. When he was approaching he
heard shots, at first few, then more frequent.

"It is well!" said he; "Sapyeha is attacking!"

And he moved on.

In the darkness was visible only a multitude of heads jumping with the
movement of the horses; sabres did not rattle, armor did not sound; the
Tartars and volunteers knew how to move in silence, like wolves.

From the side of Yanov the firing became more and more vigorous; it was
evident that Sapyeha was moving along the whole line.

But on the trenches toward which Kmita was advancing shouts were heard
also. A number of piles of wood were burning near them, casting around
a strong light. By this light Pan Andrei saw infantry firing rarely,
more occupied in looking in front at the field, where cavalry was
fighting with volunteers.

They saw him too from the trenches, but instead of firing they greeted
the advancing body with a loud shout. The soldiers thought that
Boguslav had sent them reinforcements.

But when barely a hundred yards separated the approaching body from the
trenches, the infantry began to move about unquietly; an increasing
number of soldiers, shading their eyes with their hands, were looking
to see what kind of people were coming.

When fifty yards distant a fearful howl tore the air, and Kmita's force
rushed like a storm, took in the infantry, surrounded them like a ring,
and that whole mass of men began to move convulsively. You would have
said that a gigantic serpent was stifling a chosen victim.

In this crowd piercing shouts were heard. "Allah!" "Herr Jesus!" "Mein
Gott!"

Behind the trenches new shouts went up; for the volunteers, though in
weaker numbers, recognizing that Pan Babinich was in the trenches,
pressed on the cavalry with fury. Meanwhile the sky, which had been
cloudy for some time, as is common in spring, poured down a heavy,
unexpected rain. The blazing fires were put out, and the battle went on
in the darkness.

But the battle did not last long. Attacked on a sudden, Boguslav's
infantry went under the knife. The cavalry, in which were many Poles,
laid down their arms. The foreigners, namely, one hundred dragoons,
were cut to pieces.

When the moon came out again from behind the clouds, it lighted only
crowds of Tartars finishing the wounded and taking plunder.

But neither did that last long. The piercing sound of a pipe was heard;
Tartars and volunteers as one man sprang to their horses.

"After me!" cried Kmita.

And he led them like a whirlwind to Yanov.

A quarter of an hour later the ill-fated place was set on fire at four
corners, and in an hour one sea of flame was spread as widely as Yanov
extended. Above the conflagration pillars of fiery sparks were flying
toward the ruddy sky.

Thus did Kmita let the hetman know that he had taken the rear of
Boguslav's army.

He himself like an executioner, red from the blood of men, marshalled
his Tartars amid the fire, so as to lead them on farther.

They were already in line and extending into column, when suddenly, on
a field as bright as in day, from the fire, he saw before him a
division of the elector's gigantic cavalry.

A knight led them, distinguishable from afar, for he wore silver-plate
armor, and sat on a white horse.

"Boguslav!" bellowed Kmita, with an unearthly voice, and rushed forward
with his whole Tartar column.

They approached one another, like two waves driven by two winds. A
considerable space divided them; the horses on both sides reached their
greatest speed, and went with ears down like hounds, almost sweeping
the earth with their bellies. On one side large men with shining
breastplates, and sabres held erect in their right hands; on the other,
a black swarm of Tartars.

At last they struck in a long line on the clear field; but then
something terrible took place. The Tartar swarm fell as grain bent by a
whirlwind; the gigantic men rode over it and flew farther, as if the
men and the horses had the power of thunderbolts and the wings of a
storm.

Some of the Tartars sprang up and began to pursue. It was possible to
ride over the wild men, but impossible to kill them at once; so more
and more of them hastened after the fleeing cavalry. Lariats began to
whistle in the air.

But at the head of the retreating cavalry the rider on the white horse
ran ever in the first rank, and among the pursuers was not Kmita.

Only in the gray of dawn did the Tartars begin to return, and almost
every man had a horseman on his lariat. Soon they found Kmita, and
carried him in unconsciousness to Pan Sapyeha.

The hetman himself took a seat at Kmita's bedside. About midday Pan
Andrei opened his eyes.

"Where is Boguslav?" were his first words.

"Cut to pieces. God gave him fortune at first; then he came out of the
birch groves and in the open field fell on the infantry of Pan
Oskyerko; there he lost men and victory. I do not know whether he led
away even five hundred men, for your Tartars caught a good number of
them."

"But he himself?"

"Escaped!"

Kmita was silent awhile; then said;--

"I cannot measure with him yet. He struck me with a double-handed sword
on the head, and knocked me down with my horse. My morion was of trusty
steel, and did not let the sword through; but I fainted."

"You should hang up that morion in a church."

"I will pursue him, even to the end of the world!" said Kmita.

To this the hetman answered: "See what news I have received to-day
after the battle!"

Kmita read aloud the following words,--


The King of Sweden has moved from Elblang; he is marching on Zamost,
thence to Lvoff against Yan Kazimir. Come, your worthiness, with all
your forces, to save king and country, for I cannot hold out alone.

                                                 Charnyetski.


A moment of silence.

"Will you go with us, or will you go with the Tartars to Taurogi?"

Kmita closed his eyes. He remembered the words of Father Kordetski, and
what Volodyovski had told him of Pan Yan, and said,--

"Let private affairs wait! I will meet the enemy at the side of the
country!"

The hetman pressed Pan Andrei's head. "You are a brother to me!" said
he; "and because I am old, receive my blessing."



                             CHAPTER XXVII.


At a time when all living men in the Commonwealth were mounting their
horses Karl Gustav stayed continually in Prussia, busied in capturing
the towns of that province and in negotiating with the elector.

After an easy and unexpected conquest, the quick soldier soon saw that
the Swedish lion had swallowed more than his stomach could carry. After
the return of Yan Kazimir he lost hope of retaining the Commonwealth;
but while making a mental abdication of the whole, he wished at least
to retain the greater part of his conquest, and above all Royal
Prussia,--a province fruitful, dotted with large towns, wealthy, and
adjoining his own Pomerania. But as that province was first to defend
itself, so did it continue faithful to its lord and the Commonwealth.
The return of Yan Kazimir, and the war begun by the confederation of
Tyshovtsi might revive the courage of Prussia, confirm it in loyalty,
give it will for endurance; therefore Karl Gustav determined to crush
the uprising, and to wipe out Kazimir's forces so as to take from
Prussians the hope of resistance.

He had to do this for the sake of the elector, who was ever ready to
side with the stronger. The King of Sweden knew him thoroughly, and
doubted not for a moment that if the fortune of Yan Kazimir should
preponderate, the elector would be on his side again.

When, therefore, the siege of Marienburg advanced slowly,--for the more
it was attacked the more stubbornly did Pan Weiher defend it,--Karl
Gustav marched to the Commonwealth, so as to reach Yan Kazimir again,
even in the remotest corner of the land.

And since with him deed followed decision as swiftly as thunder follows
lightning, he raised his army disposed in towns; and before any one in
the Commonwealth had looked around, before the news of his march had
spread, he had passed Warsaw and had rushed into the greatest blaze of
conflagration.

Driven by anger, revenge, and bitterness, he moved on like a storm.
Behind him ten thousand horse trampled the fields, which were still
covered with snow; and taking the infantry from the garrisons, he went
on, like a whirlwind, toward the far south of the Commonwealth.

On the road he burned and pursued. He was not now that recent Karl
Gustav, the kindly, affable, and joyous lord, clapping his hands at
Polish cavalry, winking at feasts, and praising the soldiers. Now,
wherever he showed himself the blood of peasants and nobles flowed in a
torrent. On the road he annihilated "parties," hanged prisoners, spared
no man.

But as when, in the thick of the pine-woods, a mighty bear rushes
forward with heavy body crushing branches and brush on the way, while
wolves follow after, and not daring to block his path, pursue, press
nearer and nearer behind, so did those "parties" pursuing the armies of
Karl join in throngs denser and denser, and follow the Swedes as a
shadow a man, and still more enduringly than a shadow, for they
followed in the day and the night, in fair and foul weather; before him
too bridges were ruined, provisions destroyed, so that he had to march
as in a desert, without a place for his head or anything with which to
give strength to his body when hungry.

Karl Gustav noted quickly how terrible his task was. The war spread
around him as widely as the sea spreads around a ship lost in the
waters. Prussia was on fire; on fire was Great Poland, which had first
accepted his sovereignty, and first wished to throw off the Swedish
yoke; Little Poland was on fire, and so were Russia, Lithuania, and
Jmud. In the castles and large towns the Swedes maintained themselves
yet, as if on islands; but the villages, the forests, the fields, the
rivers, were already in Polish hands. Not merely a single man, or small
detachments, but a whole regiment might not leave the main Swedish army
for two hours; for if it did the regiment vanished without tidings, and
prisoners who fell into the hands of peasants died in terrible
tortures.

In vain had Karl Gustav given orders to proclaim in villages and towns
that whoso of peasants should bring an armed noble, living or dead,
would receive freedom forever and land as a reward; for peasants, as
well as nobles and townsmen, marched off to the woods. Men from the
mountains, men from deep forests, men from meadows and fields, hid in
the woods, formed ambushes on the roads against the Swedes, fell upon
the smaller garrisons, and cut scouting-parties to pieces. Flails,
forks, and scythes, no less than the sabres of nobles, were streaming
with Swedish blood.

All the more did wrath rise in the heart of Karl, that a few months
before he had gathered in that country so easily; hence he could hardly
understand what had happened, whence these forces, whence that
resistance, whence that awful war for life or death, the end of which
he saw not and could not divine.

Frequent councils were held in the Swedish camp. With the king marched
his brother Adolph, prince of Bipont, who had command over the army;
Robert Douglas; Henry Horn, relative of that Horn who had been slain by
the scythe of a peasant at Chenstohova; Waldemar, Prince of Denmark,
and that Miller who had left his military glory at the foot of Yasna
Gora; Aschemberg, the ablest cavalry leader among the Swedes;
Hammerskiold, who commanded the artillery; and the old robber Marshal
Arwid Wittemberg, famed for rapacity, living on the last of his health,
for he was eaten by the Gallic disease; Forgell, and many others, all
leaders skilled in the capture of cities, and in the field yielding in
genius to the king only.

These men were terrified in their hearts lest the whole army with the
king should perish through toil, lack of food, and the fury of the
Poles. Old Wittemberg advised the king directly against the campaign:
"How will you go, O King," said he, "to the Russian regions after an
enemy who destroys everything on the way, but is unseen himself? What
will you do if horses lack not only hay, but even straw from the roofs
of cottages, and men fall from exhaustion? Where are the armies to come
to our aid, where are the castles in which to draw breath and rest our
weary limbs? My fame is not equal to yours; but were I Karl Gustav, I
would not expose that glory acquired by so many victories to the fickle
fortune of war."

To which Karl Gustav answered: "And neither would I, were I
Wittemberg."

Then he mentioned Alexander of Macedon, with whom he liked to be
compared, and marched forward, pursuing Charnyetski. Charnyetski, not
having forces so great nor so well trained, retreated before him, but
retreated like a wolf ever ready to turn on his enemy. Sometimes he
went in advance of the Swedes, sometimes at their flanks, and sometimes
in deep forests he let them go in advance; so that while they thought
themselves the pursuers, he, in fact, was the hunter. He cut off
the unwary; here and there he hunted down a whole party, destroyed
foot-regiments marching slowly, attacked provision-trains. The Swedes
never knew where he was. More than once in the darkness of night they
began to fire from muskets and cannons into thickets, thinking that
they had an enemy before them. They were mortally wearied; they marched
in cold, in hunger, in affliction, and that _vir molestissimus_ (most
harmful man) hung about them continually, as a hail-cloud hangs over a
grain-field.

At last they attacked him at Golamb, not far from the junction of the
Vyepr and the Vistula. Some Polish squadrons being ready for battle
charged the enemy, spreading disorder and dismay. In front sprang
Volodyovski with his Lauda squadron, and bore down Waldemar, prince of
Denmark; but the two Kavetskis, Samuel and Yan, urged from the hill the
armored squadron against English mercenaries under Wilkinson, and
devoured them in a moment, as a pike gulps a whiting; and Pan Malavski
engaged so closely with the Prince of Bipont that men and horses were
confounded like dust which two whirlwinds sweeping from opposite
quarters bring together and turn into one circling column. In the
twinkle of an eye the Swedes were pushed to the Vistula, seeing which
Douglas hastened to the rescue with chosen horsemen. But even these
reinforcements could not check the onset; the Swedes began to spring
from the high bank to the ice, falling dead so thickly that they lay
black on the snow-field, like letters on white paper. Waldemar, Prince
of Denmark, fell; Wilkinson fell; and the Prince of Bipont, thrown from
his horse, broke his leg. But of Poles both Kavetskis fell; killed also
were Malavski, Rudavski, Rogovski, Tyminski, Hoinski, and Porvanyetski.
Volodyovski alone, though he dived among the Swedish ranks like a
seamew in water, came out without having suffered the slightest wound.

Now Karl Gustav himself came up with his main force and with artillery.
Straightway the form of the battle changed. Charnyetski's other
regiments, undisciplined and untrained, could not take position in
season; some had not their horses in readiness, others had been in
distant villages, and in spite of orders to be always ready, were
taking their leisure in cottages. When the enemy pressed suddenly on
these men, they scattered quickly and began to retreat to the Vyepr.
Therefore Charnyetski gave orders to sound the retreat so as to spare
those regiments that had opened the battle. Some of the fleeing went
beyond the Vistula; others to Konskovoli, leaving the field and the
glory of the victory to Karl; for specially those who had crossed the
Vyepr were long pursued by the squadrons of Zbrojek and Kalinski, who
remained yet with the Swedes.

There was delight beyond measure in the Swedish camp. No great trophies
fell to the king, it is true,--sacks of oats, and a few empty wagons;
but it was not at that time a question of plunder for Karl. He
comforted himself with this,--that victory followed his steps as
before; that barely had he shown himself when he inflicted defeat on
that very Charnyetski on whom the highest hopes of Yan Kazimir and the
Commonwealth were founded. He could trust that the news would run
through the whole country; that every mouth would repeat, "Charnyetski
is crushed;" that the timid would exaggerate the proportions of the
defeat, and thus weaken hearts and take courage from those who had
grasped their weapons at the call of the confederation of Tyshovtsi.

So when they brought in and placed at his feet those bags of oats, and
with them the bodies of Wilkinson and Prince Waldemar, he turned to his
fretful generals and said,--

"Unwrinkle your foreheads, gentlemen, for this is the greatest victory
which I have had for a year, and may end the whole war."

"Your Royal Grace," answered Wittemberg, who, weaker than usual, saw
things in a gloomier light, "let us thank God even for this,--that we
shall have a farther march in peace, though Charnyetski's troops
scatter quickly and rally easily."

"Marshal," answered the king, "I do not think you a worse leader than
Charnyetski; but if I had beaten you in this fashion, I think you would
not be able to assemble your troops in two months."

Wittemberg only bowed in silence, and Karl spoke on: "Yes, we shall
have a quiet march, for Charnyetski alone could really hamper it. If
Charnyetski's troops are not before us, there is no hindrance."

The generals rejoiced at these words. Intoxicated with victory, the
troops marched past the king with shouts and with songs. Charnyetski
ceased to threaten them like a cloud. Charnyetski's troops were
scattered; he had ceased to exist. In view of this thought their past
sufferings were forgotten and their future toils were sweet. The king's
words, heard by many officers, were borne through the camp; and all
believed that the victory had uncommon significance, that the dragon of
war was slain once more, and that only days of revenge and dominion
would come.

The king gave the army some hours of repose; meanwhile from Kozyenitsi
came trains with provisions. The troops were disposed in Golamb, in
Krovyeniki, and in Jyrzynie. The cavalry burned some deserted houses,
hanged a few peasants seized with arms in their hands, and a few
camp-servants mistaken for peasants; then there was a feast in the
Swedish camp, after which the soldiers slept a sound sleep, since for a
long time it was the first quiet one.

Next day they woke in briskness, and the first words which came to the
mouths of all were: "There is no Charnyetski!"

One repeated this to another, as if to give mutual assurance of the
good news. The march began joyously. The day was dry, cold, clear. The
hair of the horses and their nostrils were covered with frost. The cold
wind froze soft places on the Lyubelsk highroad, and made marching
easy. The troops stretched out in a line almost five miles long, which
they had never done previously. Two dragoon regiments, under command of
Dubois, a Frenchman, went through Markushev and Grabov, five miles from
the main force. Had they marched thus three days before they would have
gone to sure death, but now fear and the glory of victory went before
them.

"Charnyetski is gone," repeated the officers and soldiers to one
another.

In fact, the march was made in quiet. From the forest depths came no
shouts; from thickets fell no darts, hurled by invisible hands.

Toward evening Karl Gustav arrived at Grabov, joyous and in good humor.
He was just preparing for sleep when Aschemberg announced through the
officer of the day that he wished greatly to see the king.

After a while he entered the royal quarters, not alone, but with a
captain of dragoons. The king, who had a quick eye and a memory so
enormous that he remembered nearly every soldier's name, recognized the
captain at once.

"What is the news, Freed?" asked he. "Has Dubois returned?"

"Dubois is killed."

The king was confused; only now did he notice that the captain looked
as if he had been taken from the grave; and his clothes were torn.

"But the dragoons?" inquired he, "those two regiments?"

"All cut to pieces. I alone was let off alive."

The dark face of the king became still darker; with his hands he placed
his locks behind his ears.

"Who did this?"

"Charnyetski."

Karl Gustav was silent, and looked with amazement at Aschemberg; but he
only nodded as if wishing to repeat: "Charnyetski, Charnyetski,
Charnyetski!"

"All this is incredible," said the king, after a while. "Have you seen
him with your own eyes?"

"As I see your Royal Grace. He commanded me to bow to you, and to
declare that now he will recross the Vistula, but will soon be on our
track again. I know not whether he told the truth."

"Well," said the king, "had he many men with him?"

"I could not estimate exactly, but I saw about four thousand, and
beyond the forest was cavalry of some kind. We were surrounded near
Krasichyn, to which Colonel Dubois went purposely from the highroad,
for he was told that there were some men there. Now, I think that
Charnyetski sent an informant to lead us into ambush, since no one save
me came out alive. The peasants killed the wounded. I escaped by a
miracle."

"That man must have made a compact with hell," said the king, putting
his hand to his forehead; "for to rally troops after such a defeat, and
be on our neck again, is not human power."

"It has happened as Marshal Wittemberg foresaw," put in Aschemberg.

"You all know how to foresee," burst out the king, "but how to advise
you do not know."

Aschemberg grew pale and was silent. Karl Gustav, when joyous, seemed
goodness itself; but when once he frowned he roused indescribable fear
in those nearest him, and birds do not hide so before an eagle as the
oldest and most meritorious generals hid before him. But this time he
moderated quickly, and asked Captain Freed again,--

"Has Charnyetski good troops?"

"I saw some unrivalled squadrons, such cavalry as the Poles have."

"They are the same that attacked with such fury in Golamb; they must be
old regiments. But Charnyetski himself,--was he cheerful, confident?"

"He was as confident as if he had beaten us at Golamb. Now his heart
must rise the more, for they have forgotten Golembo and boast of
Krasichyn. Your Royal Grace, what Charnyetski told me to repeat I have
repeated; but when I was on the point of departing some one of the high
officers approached me, an old man, and told me that he was the person
who had stretched out Gustavus Adolphus in a hand-to-hand conflict, and
he poured much abuse on your Royal Grace; others supported him. So do
they boast. I left amid insults and abuse."

"Never mind," said Karl Gustav, "Charnyetski is not broken, and has
rallied his army; that is the main point. All the more speedily must we
march so as to reach the Polish Darius at the earliest. You are free to
go, gentlemen. Announce to the army that those regiments perished at
the hands of peasants in unfrozen morasses. We advance!"

The officers went out; Karl Gustav remained alone. For something like
an hour he was in gloomy thought. Was the victory at Golamb to bring no
fruit, no change to the position, but to rouse still greater rage in
that entire country?

Karl, in presence of the army and of his generals, always showed
confidence and faith in himself; but when he was alone he began to
think of that war,--how easy it had been at first, and then increased
always in difficulty. More than once doubt embraced him. All the events
seemed to him in some fashion marvellous. Often he could see no
outcome, could not divine the end. At times it seemed to him that he
was like a man who, going from the shore of the sea into the water,
feels at every step that he is going deeper and deeper and soon will
lose the ground under his feet.

But he believed in his star. And now he went to the window to look at
the chosen star,--that one which in the Wain or Great Bear occupies the
highest place and shines brightest. The sky was clear, and therefore at
that moment the star shone brightly, twinkled blue and red; but from
afar, lower down on the dark blue of the sky, a lone cloud was
blackening serpent-shaped, from which extended as it were arms, as it
were branches, as it were the feelers of a monster of the sea, and it
seemed to approach the king's star continually.



                            CHAPTER XXVIII.


Next morning the king marched farther and reached Lublin. There he
received information that Sapyeha had repulsed Boguslav's invasion, and
was advancing with a considerable army; he left Lublin the same day,
merely strengthening the garrison of that place.

The next object of his expedition was Zamost; for if he could occupy
that strong fortress he would acquire a fixed base for further war, and
such a notable preponderance that he might look for a successful end
with all hope. There were various opinions touching Zamost. Those Poles
still remaining with Karl contended that it was the strongest fortress
in the Commonwealth, and brought as proof that it had withstood all the
forces of Hmelnitski.

But since Karl saw that the Poles were in no wise skilled in
fortification, and considered places strong which in other lands would
scarcely be held in the third rank; since he knew also that in Poland
no fortress was properly mounted,--that is, there were neither walls
kept as they should be, not earthworks, nor suitable arms,--he felt
well touching Zamost. He counted also on the spell of his name, on the
fame of an invincible leader, and finally on treaties. With treaties,
which every magnate in the Commonwealth was authorized to make, or at
least permitted himself to make, Karl had so far effected more than
with arms. As an adroit man, and one wishing to know with whom he had
to deal, he collected carefully all information touching the owner of
Zamost. He inquired about his ways, his inclinations, his wit and
fancy.

Yan Sapyeha, who at that time by his treason still spotted the name, to
the great affliction of Sapyeha the hetman, gave the fullest
explanations to the king concerning Zamoyski. They spent whole hours in
council. But Yan Sapyeha did not consider that it would be easy for the
king to captivate the master of Zamost.

"He cannot be tempted with money," said Yan, "for he is terribly rich.
He cares not for dignities, and never wished them, even when they
sought him themselves. As to titles, I have heard him at the court
reprimand Des Noyers, the queen's secretary, because in addressing him
he said, 'Mon prince.' 'I am not a prince,' answered he, 'but I have
had archdukes as prisoners in my Zamost.' The truth is, however, that
not he had them, but his grandfather, who among our people is surnamed
the Great."

"If he will open the gates of Zamost, I will offer him something which
no Polish king could offer."

It did not become Yan Sapyeha to ask what that might be; he merely
looked with curiosity at Karl Gustav. But the king understood the look,
and answered, gathering, as was his wont, his hair behind his ears,--

"I will offer him the province of Lyubelsk as an independent
principality; a crown will tempt him. No one of you could resist such a
temptation, not even the present voevoda of Vilna."

"Endless is the bounty of your Royal Grace," replied Sapyeha, not
without a certain irony in his voice.

But Karl answered with a cynicism peculiar to himself: "I give it, for
it is not mine."

Sapyeha shook his head: "He is an unmarried man and has no sons. A
crown is dear to him who can leave it to his posterity."

"What means do you advise me to take?"

"I think that flattery would effect most. The man is not too
quick-witted, and may be easily over-reached. It is necessary to
represent that on him alone depends the pacification of the
Commonwealth; it is necessary to tell him that he alone may save it
from war, from all defeats and future misfortunes; and that especially
by opening the gates. If the fish will swallow that little hook, we
shall be in Zamost; otherwise not."

"Cannon remain as the ultimate argument."

"H'm! To that argument there is something in Zamost with which to give
answer. There is no lack of heavy guns there; we have none, and when
thaws come it will be impossible to bring them."

"I have heard that the infantry in the fortress is good; but there is a
lack of cavalry."

"Cavalry are needed only in the open field, and besides, since
Charnyetski's army, as is shown, is not crushed, he can throw in one or
two squadrons for the use of the fortress."

"You see nothing save difficulties."

"But I trust ever in the lucky star of your Royal Grace."

Yan Sapyeha was right in foreseeing that Charnyetski would furnish
Zamost with cavalry needful for scouting and seizing informants. In
fact, Zamoyski had enough of his own, and needed no assistance
whatever; but Charnyetski sent the two squadrons which had suffered
most at Golamb--that is, the Shemberk and Lauda--to the fortress to
rest, recruit themselves and change their horses, which were fearfully
cut up. Sobiepan received them hospitably, and when he learned what
famous soldiers were in them he exalted these men to the skies, covered
them with gifts, and seated them every day at his table.

But who shall describe the joy and emotion of Princess Griselda at
sight of Pan Yan and Pan Michael, the most valiant colonels of her
great husband? Both fell at her feet shedding warm tears at sight of
the beloved lady; and she could not restrain her weeping. How many
reminiscences of those old Lubni days were connected with them; when
her husband, the glory and love of the people, full of the strength of
life, ruled with power a wild region, rousing terror amid barbarism
with one frown of his brow, like Jove. Such were those times not long
past; but where are they now? To-day the lord is in his grave,
barbarians have taken the land, and she, the widow, sits on the ashes
of happiness, of greatness, living only with her sorrow and with
prayer.

Still in those reminiscences sweetness was so mingled with bitterness
that the thoughts of those three flew gladly to times that were gone.
They spoke then of their past lives, of those places which their eyes
were never to see, of the past wars, finally of the present times of
defeat and God's anger.

"If our prince were alive," said Pan Yan, "there would be another
career for the Commonwealth. The Cossacks would be rubbed out, the
Trans-Dnieper would be with the Commonwealth, and the Swede would find
his conqueror. God has ordained as He willed of purpose to punish us
for sins."

"Would that God might raise up a defender in Pan Charnyetski!" said
Princess Griselda.

"He will!" cried Pan Michael. "As our prince was a head above other
lords, so Charnyetski is not at all like other leaders. I know the two
hetmans of the kingdom, and Sapyeha of Lithuania. They are great
soldiers; but there is something uncommon in Charnyetski; you would
say, he is an eagle, not a man. Though kindly, still all fear him; even
Pan Zagloba in his presence forgets his jokes frequently. And how he
leads his troops and moves them, passes imagination. It cannot be
otherwise than that a great warrior will rise in the Commonwealth."

"My husband, who knew Charnyetski as a colonel, prophesied greatness
for him," said the princess.

"It was said indeed that he was to seek a wife in our court," put in
Pan Michael.

"I do not remember that there was talk about that," answered the
princess.

In truth she could not remember, for there had never been anything of
the kind; but Pan Michael, cunning at times, invented this, wishing to
turn the conversation to her ladies and learn something of Anusia; for
to ask directly he considered improper, and in view of the majesty of
the princess, too confidential. But the stratagem failed. The princess
turned her mind again to her husband and the Cossack wars; then the
little knight thought: "Anusia has not been here, perhaps, for God
knows how many years." And he asked no more about her. He might have
asked the officers, but his thoughts and occupations were elsewhere.
Every day scouts gave notice that the Swedes were nearer; hence
preparations were made for defence. Pan Yan and Pan Michael received
places on the walls, as officers knowing the Swedes and warfare against
them. Zagloba roused courage in the men, and told tales of the enemy to
those who had no knowledge of them yet; and among warriors in the
fortress there were many such, for so far the Swedes had not come to
Zamost.

Zagloba saw through Pan Zamoyski at once; the latter conceived an
immense love for the bulky noble, and turned to him on all questions,
especially since he heard from Princess Griselda how Prince Yeremi had
venerated Zagloba and called him _vir incomparabilis_ (the incomparable
man). Every day then at table all kept their ears open; and Zagloba
discoursed of ancient and modern times, told of the wars with the
Cossacks, of the treason of Radzivill, and how he himself had brought
Pan Sapyeha into prominence among men.

"I advised him," said he, "to carry hempseed in his pocket, and use a
little now and then. He has grown so accustomed to this that he takes a
grain every little while, puts it in his mouth, bites it, breaks it,
eats it, spits out the husk. At night when he wakes he does the same.
His wit is so sharp now from hempseed that his greatest intimates do
not recognize him."

"How is that?" asked Zamoyski.

"There is an oil in hempseed through which the man who eats it
increases in wit."

"God bless you," said one of the colonels; "but oil goes to the
stomach, not to the head."

"Oh, there is a method in things!" answered Zagloba. "It is needful in
this case to drink as much wine as possible; oil, being the lighter, is
always on top; wine, which goes to the head of itself, carries with it
every noble substance. I have this secret from Lupul the Hospodar,
after whom, as is known to you, gentlemen, the Wallachians wished to
create me hospodar; but the Sultan, whose wish is that the hospodar
should not have posterity, placed before me conditions to which I could
not agree."

"You must use a power of hempseed yourself," said Sobiepan.

"I do not need it at all, your worthiness; but from my whole heart I
advise you to take it."

Hearing these bold words, some were frightened lest the starosta might
take them to heart; but whether he failed to notice them or did not
wish to do so, it is enough that he merely laughed and asked,--

"But would not sunflower seeds take the place of hemp?"

"They might," answered Zagloba; "but since sunflower oil is heavier, it
would be necessary to drink stronger wine than that which we are
drinking at present."

The starosta understood the hint, was amused, and gave immediate order
to bring the best wines. Then all rejoiced in their hearts, and the
rejoicing became universal. They drank and gave vivats to the health of
the king, the host, and Pan Charnyetski. Zagloba fell into good humor
and let no one speak. He described at great length the affair at
Golamb, in which he had really fought well, for, serving in the Lauda
squadron, he could not do otherwise. But because he had learned from
Swedish prisoners taken from the regiments of Dubois of the death of
Prince Waldemar, Zagloba took responsibility for that death on himself.

"The battle," said he, "would have gone altogether differently were it
not that the day before I went to Baranov to the canon of that place,
and Charnyetski, not knowing where I was, could not advise with me.
Maybe the Swedes too had heard of that canon, for he has splendid mead,
and they went at once to Golamb. When I returned it was too late; the
king had attacked, and it was necessary to strike at once. We went
straight into the fire; but what is to be done when the general militia
choose to show their contempt for the enemy by turning their backs? I
don't know how Charnyetski will manage at present without me."

"He will manage, have no fear on that point," said Volodyovski.

"I know why. The King of Sweden chooses to pursue me to Zamost rather
than seek Charnyetski beyond the Vistula. I do not deny that
Charnyetski is a good soldier; but when he begins to twist his beard
and look with his wildcat glance, it seems to an officer of the
lightest squadron that he is a dragoon. He pays no attention to a man's
office; and this you yourselves saw when he gave orders to drag over
the square with horses an honorable man, Pan Jyrski, only because he
did not reach with his detachment the place to which he was ordered.
With a noble, gracious gentlemen, it is necessary to act like a father,
not like a dragoon. Say to him, 'Lord brother,' be kind, rouse his
feelings,--he will call to mind the country and glory, will go farther
for you than a dragoon who serves for a salary."

"A noble is a noble, and war is war," remarked Zamoyski. "You have
brought that out in a very masterly manner," answered Zagloba.

"Pan Charnyetski will turn the plans of Karl into folly," said
Volodyovski. "I have been in more than one war, and I can speak on this
point."

"First, we will make a fool of him at Zamost," said Sobiepan, pouting
his lips, puffing, and showing great spirit, staring, and putting his
hands on his hips. "Bah! Tfu! What do I care? When I invite a man I
open the door to him. Well!"

Here Zamoyski began to puff still more mightily, to strike the table
with his knees, bend forward, shake his head, look stern, flash his
eyes, and speak, as was his habit, with a certain coarse carelessness.

"What do I care? He is lord in Sweden; but Zamoyski is lord for himself
in Zamost. _Eques polonus sum_ (I am a Polish nobleman), nothing more.
But I am in my own house; I am Zamoyski, and he is King of Sweden; but
Maximilian was Austrian, was he not? Is he coming? Let him come. We
shall see! Sweden is small for him, but Zamost is enough for me. I will
not yield it."

"It is a delight, gracious gentlemen, to hear not only such eloquence,
but such honest sentiments," cried Zagloba.

"Zamoyski is Zamoyski!" continued Pan Sobiepan, delighted with the
praise. "We have not bowed down, and we will not. I will not give up
Zamost, and that is the end of it."

"To the health of the host!" thundered the officers.

"Vivat! vivat!"

"Pan Zagloba," cried Zamoyski, "I will not let the King of Sweden into
Zamost, and I will not let you out."

"I thank you for the favor; but, your worthiness, do not do that, for
as much as you torment Karl with the first decision, so much will you
delight him with the second."

"Give me your word that you will come to me after the war is over."

"I give it."

Long yet did they feast, then sleep began to overcome the knights;
therefore they went to rest, especially as sleepless nights were soon
to begin for them, since the Swedes were already near, and the advance
guards were looked for at any hour.

"So in truth he will not give up Zamost," said Zagloba, returning to
his quarters with Pan Yan and Volodyovski. "Have you seen how we have
fallen in love with each other? It will be pleasant here in Zamost
for me and you. The host and I have become so attached to each other
that no cabinet-maker could join inlaid work better. He is a good
fellow--h'm! If he were my knife and I carried him at my belt, I would
whet him on a stone pretty often, for he is a trifle dull. But he is a
good man, and he will not betray like those bull-drivers of Birji. Have
you noticed how the magnates cling to old Zagloba? I cannot keep them
off. I'm scarcely away from Sapyeha when there is another at hand. But
I will tune this one as a bass-viol, and play such an aria on him for
the Swedes that they will dance to death at Zamost. I will wind him up
like a Dantzig clock with chimes."

Noise coming from the town interrupted further conversation. After a
time an officer whom they knew passed quickly near them.

"Stop!" cried Volodyovski; "what is the matter?"

"There is a fire to be seen from the walls. Shchebjeshyn is burning!
The Swedes are there!"

"Let us go on the walls," said Pan Yan.

"Go; but I will sleep, since I need my strength for to-morrow,"
answered Zagloba.



                             CHAPTER XXIX.


That night Volodyovski went on a scouting expedition, and about morning
returned with a number of informants. These men asserted that the King
of Sweden was at Shchebjeshyn in person, and would soon be at Zamost.

Zamoyski was rejoiced at the news, for he hurried around greatly, and
had a genuine desire to try his walls and guns on the Swedes. He
considered, and very justly, that even if he had to yield in the end he
would detain the power of Sweden for whole months; and during that time
Yan Kazimir would collect troops, bring the entire Tartar force to his
aid, and organize in the whole country a powerful and victorious
resistance.

"Since the opportunity is given me," said he, with great spirit, at the
military council, "to render the country and the king notable service,
I declare to you, gentlemen, that I will blow myself into the air
before a Swedish foot shall stand here. They want to take Zamoyski by
force. Let them take him! We shall see who is better. You, gentlemen,
will, I trust, aid me most heartily."

"We are ready to perish with your grace," said the officers, in chorus.

"If they will only besiege us," said Zagloba, "I will lead the first
sortie."

"I will follow, Uncle!" cried Roh Kovalski; "I will spring at the king
himself!"

"Now to the walls!" commanded Zamoyski.

All went out. The walls were ornamented with soldiers as with flowers.
Regiments of infantry, so splendid that they were unequalled in the
whole Commonwealth, stood in readiness, one at the side of the other,
with musket in hand, and eyes turned to the field. Not many foreigners
served in these regiments, merely a few Prussians and French; they were
mainly peasants from Zamoyski's inherited lands. Sturdy, well-grown
men, who, wearing colored jackets and trained in foreign fashion,
fought as well as the best Cromwellians of England. They were specially
powerful when after firing it came to rush on the enemy in hand-to-hand
conflict. And now, remembering their former triumphs over Hmelnitski,
they were looking for the Swedes with impatience. At the cannons, which
stretched out through the embrasures their long necks to the fields as
if in curiosity, served mainly Flemings, the first of gunners. Outside
the fortress, beyond the moat, were squadrons of light cavalry, safe
themselves, for they were under cover of cannon, certain of refuge, and
able at any moment to spring out whithersoever it might be needed.

Zamoyski, wearing inlaid armor and carrying a gilded baton in his hand,
rode around the walls, and inquired every moment,--

"Well, what--not in sight yet?" And he muttered oaths when he received
negative answers on all sides. After a while he went to another side,
and again he asked,--

"Well, what--not in sight yet?"

It was difficult to see the Swedes, for there was a mist in the air;
and only about ten o'clock in the forenoon did it begin to disappear.
The heaven shining blue above the horizon became clear, and immediately
on the western side of the walls they began to cry,--

"They are coming, they are coming, they are coming!"

Zamoyski, with three adjutants and Zagloba, entered quickly an angle of
the walls from which there was a distant view, and the four men began
to look through field-glasses. The mist was lying a little on the
ground yet, and the Swedish hosts, marching from Vyelanchy, seemed to
be wading to the knees in that mist, as if they were coming out of wide
waters. The nearer regiments had become very distinct, so that the
naked eye could distinguish the infantry; they seemed like clouds of
dark dust rolling on toward the town. Gradually more regiments,
artillery, and cavalry appeared.

The sight was beautiful. From each quadrangle of infantry rose an
admirably regular quadrangle of spears; between them waved banners of
various colors, but mostly blue with white crosses, and blue with
golden lions. They came very near. On the walls there was silence;
therefore the breath of the air brought from the advancing army the
squeaking of wheels, the clatter of armor, the tramp of horses, and the
dull sound of human voices. When they had come within twice the
distance of a shot from a culverin, they began to dispose themselves
before the fortress. Some quadrangles of infantry broke ranks; others
prepared to pitch tents and dig trenches.

"They are here!" said Zamoyski.

"They are the dog-brothers!" answered Zagloba. "They could be counted,
man for man, on the fingers. Persons of my long experience, however, do
not need to count, but simply to cast an eye on them. There are ten
thousand cavalry, and eight thousand infantry with artillery. If I am
mistaken in one common soldier or one horse, I am ready to redeem the
mistake with my whole fortune."

"Is it possible to estimate in that way?"

"Ten thousand cavalry and eight thousand infantry. I have hope in God
that they will go away in much smaller numbers; only let me lead one
sortie."

"Do you hear? They are playing an aria."

In fact, trumpeters and drummers stepped out before the regiments, and
military music began. At the sound of it the more distant regiments
approached, and encompassed the town from a distance. At last from the
dense throngs a few horsemen rode forth. When half-way, they put white
kerchiefs on their swords, and began to wave them.

"An embassy!" cried Zagloba; "I saw how the scoundrels came to Kyedani
with the same boldness, and it is known what came of that."

"Zamost is not Kyedani, and I am not the voevoda of Vilna," answered
Zamoyski.

Meanwhile the horsemen were approaching the gate. After a short time an
officer of the day hurried to Zamoyski with a report that Pan Yan
Sapyeha desired, in the name of the King of Sweden, to see him and
speak with him.

Zamoyski put his hands on his hips at once, began to step from one foot
to the other, to puff, to pout, and said at last, with great
animation,--

"Tell Pan Sapyeha that Zamoyski does not speak with traitors. If the
King of Sweden wishes to speak with me, let him send me a Swede by
race, not a Pole,--for Poles who serve the Swedes may go as embassadors
to my dogs; I have the same regard for both."

"As God is dear to me, that is an answer!" cried Zagloba, with
unfeigned enthusiasm.

"But devil take them!" said the starosta, roused by his own words and
by praise. "Well, shall I stand on ceremony with them?"

"Permit me, your worthiness, to take him that answer," said Zagloba.
And without waiting, he hastened away with the officer, went to Yan
Sapyeha, and, apparently, not only repeated the starosta's words, but
added something very bad from himself; for Sapyeha turned from the town
as if a thunderbolt had burst in front of his horse, and rode away with
his cap thrust over his ears.

From the walls and from the squadrons of the cavalry which were
standing before the gate they began to hoot at the men riding off,--

"To the kennel with traitors, the betrayers! Jew servants! Huz, huz!"

Sapyeha stood before the king, pale, with compressed lips. The king too
was confused, for Zamost had deceived his hopes, in spite of what had
been said, he expected to find a town of such power of resistance as
Cracow, Poznan, and other places, so many of which he had captured;
meanwhile he found a fortress powerful, calling to mind those of
Denmark and the Netherlands, which he could not even think of taking
without guns of heavy calibre.

"What is the result?" asked the king, when he saw Sapyeha.

"Nothing! Zamoyski will not speak with Poles who serve your Royal
Grace. He sent out his jester, who reviled me and your Royal Grace so
shamefully that it is not proper to repeat what he said."

"It is all one to me with whom he wants to speak, if he will only
speak. In default of other arguments, I have iron arguments; but
meanwhile I will send Forgell."

Half an hour later Forgell, with a purely Swedish suite, announced
himself at the gate. The drawbridge was let down slowly over the moat,
and the general entered the fortress amid silence and seriousness.
Neither the eyes of the envoy nor those of any man in his suite were
bound; evidently Zamoyski wished him to see everything, and be able to
report to the king touching everything. The master of Zamost received
Forgell with as much splendor as an independent prince would have done,
and arranged all, in truth, admirably, for Swedish lords had not one
twelfth as much wealth as the Poles had; and Zamoyski among Poles was
well-nigh the most powerful. The clever Swede began at once to treat
him as if the king had sent the embassy to a monarch equal to himself;
to begin with, he called him "Princeps," and continued to address him
thus, though Pan Sobiepan interrupted him promptly in the beginning,--

"Not princeps, _eques polonus_ (a Polish nobleman), but for that very
reason the equal of princes."

"Your princely grace," said Forgell, not permitting himself to be
diverted, "the Most Serene King of Sweden and Lord," here he enumerated
his titles, "has not come here as an enemy in any sense; but, speaking
simply, has come on a visit, and through me announces himself, having,
as I believe, a well-founded hope that your princely grace will desire
to open your gates to him and his army."

"It is not a custom with us," answered Zamoyski, "to refuse hospitality
to any man, even should he come uninvited. There will always be a place
at my table for a guest; but for such a worthy person as the Swedish
monarch the first place. Inform then the Most Serene King of Sweden
that I invite him, and all the more gladly since the Most Serene
Carolus Gustavus is lord in Sweden, as I am in Zamost. But as your
worthiness has seen, there is no lack of servants in my house;
therefore his Swedish Serenity need not bring his servants with him.
Should he bring them I might think that he counts me a poor man, and
wishes to show me contempt."

"Well done!" whispered Zagloba, standing behind the shoulders of Pan
Sobiepan.

When Zamoyski had finished his speech he began to pout his lips, to
puff and repeat,--

"Ah, here it is, this is the position!"

Forgell bit his mustache, was silent awhile, and said,--

"It would be the greatest proof of distrust toward the king if your
princely grace were not pleased to admit his garrison to the fortress.
I am the king's confidant. I know his innermost thoughts, and besides
this I have the order to announce to your worthiness, and to give
assurance by word in the name of the king, that he does not think of
occupying the possessions of Zamost or this fortress permanently. But
since war has broken out anew in this unhappy land, since rebellion has
raised its head, and Yan Kazimir, unmindful of the miseries which may
fall on the Commonwealth, and seeking only his own fortune, has
returned within the boundaries, and, together with pagans, comes forth
against our Christian troops, the invincible king, my lord, has
determined to pursue him, even to the wild steppes of the Tartars and
the Turks, with the sole purpose of restoring peace to the country, the
reign of justice, prosperity, and freedom to the inhabitants of this
illustrious Commonwealth."

Zamoyski struck his knee with his hand without saying a word; but
Zagloba whispered,--

"The Devil has dressed himself in vestments, and is ringing for Mass
with his tail."

"Many benefits have accrued to this land already from the protection of
the king," continued Forgell; "but thinking in his fatherly heart that
he has not done enough, he has left his Prussian province again to go
once more to the rescue of the Commonwealth, which depends on finishing
Yan Kazimir. But that this new war should have a speedy and victorious
conclusion, it is needful that the king occupy for a time this
fortress. It is to be for his troops a point from which pursuit
may begin against rebels. But hearing that he who is the lord of
Zamost surpasses all, not only in wealth, antiquity of stock, wit,
high-mindedness, but also in love for the country, the king, my master,
said at once: 'He will understand me, he will be able to appreciate my
intentions respecting this country, he will not deceive my confidence,
he will surpass my hopes, he will be the first to put his hand to the
prosperity and peace of this country.' This is the truth! So on you
depends the future fate of this country. You may save it and become the
father of it; therefore I have no doubt of what you will do. Whoever
inherits from his ancestors such fame should not avoid an opportunity
to increase that fame and make it immortal. In truth, you will do more
good by opening the gates of this fortress than if you had added a
whole province to the Commonwealth. The king is confident that your
uncommon wisdom, together with your heart, will incline you to this;
therefore he will not command, he prefers to request, he throws aside
threats, he offers friendship; not as a ruler with a subject, but as
powerful with powerful does he wish to deal."

Here General Forgell bowed before Zamoyski with as much respect as
before an independent monarch. In the hall it grew silent. All eyes
were fixed on Zamoyski. He began to twist, according to his custom, in
his gilded armchair, to pout his lips, and exhibit stern resolve; at
last he thrust out his elbows, placed his palms on his knees, and
shaking his head like a restive horse, began,--

"This is what I have to say! I am greatly thankful to his Swedish
Serenity for the lofty opinion which he has of my wit and my love for
the Commonwealth. Nothing is dearer to me than the friendship of such a
potentate. But I think that we might love each other all the same if
his Swedish Serenity remained in Stockholm and I in Zamost; that is
what it is. For Stockholm belongs to his Swedish Serenity, and Zamost
to me. As to love for the Commonwealth, this is what I think. The
Commonwealth will not improve by the coming in of the Swedes, but by
their departure. That is my argument! I believe that Zamost might help
his Swedish Serenity to victory over Yan Kazimir; but your worthiness
should know that I have not given oath to his Swedish Grace, but to Yan
Kazimir; therefore I wish victory to Yan Kazimir, and I will not give
Zamost to the King of Sweden. That is my position!"

"That policy suits me!" said Zagloba.

A joyous murmur rose in the hall; but Zamoyski slapped his knees with
his hands, and the sounds were hushed.

Forgell was confused, and was silent for a time; then he began to argue
anew, insisted a little, threatened, begged, flattered. Latin flowed
from his mouth like a stream, till drops of sweat were on his forehead;
but all was in vain, for after his best arguments, so strong that they
might move walls, he heard always one answer,--

"But still I will not yield Zamost; that is my position!"

The audience continued beyond measure; at last it became awkward and
difficult for Forgell, since mirth was seizing those present. More and
more frequently some word fell, some sneer,--now from Zagloba, now from
others,--after which smothered laughter was heard in the hall. Forgell
saw finally that it was necessary to use the last means; therefore he
unrolled a parchment with seals, which he held in his hand, and to
which no one had turned attention hitherto, and rising said with a
solemn, emphatic voice,--

"For opening the gates of the fortress his Royal Grace," here again he
enumerated the titles, "gives your princely grace the province of
Lubelsk in perpetual possession."

All were astonished when they heard this, and Zamoyski himself was
astonished for a moment. Forgell had begun to turn a triumphant look on
the people around him, when suddenly and in deep silence Zagloba,
standing behind Zamoyski, said in Polish,--

"Your worthiness, offer the King of Sweden the Netherlands in
exchange."

Zamoyski, without thinking long, put his hands on his hips and fired
through the whole hall in Latin,--

"And I offer to his Swedish Serenity the Netherlands!"

That moment the hall resounded with one immense burst of laughter. The
breasts of all were shaking, and the girdles on their bodies were
shaking; some clapped their hands, others tottered as drunken men, some
leaned on their neighbors, but the laughter sounded continuously.
Forgell was pale; he frowned terribly, but he waited with fire in his
eyes and his head raised haughtily. At last, when the paroxysm of
laughter had passed, he asked in a short, broken voice,--

"Is that the final answer of your worthiness?"

Zamoyski twirled his mustache. "No!" said he, raising his head still
more proudly, "for I have cannon on the walls."

The embassy was at an end.

Two hours later cannons were thundering from the trenches of the
Swedes, but Zamoyski's guns answered them with equal power. All Zamost
was covered with smoke, as with an immense cloud; moment after moment
there were flashes in that cloud, and thunder roared unceasingly. But
fire from the heavy fortress guns was preponderant. The Swedish balls
fell in the moat or bounded without effect from the strong angles;
toward evening the enemy were forced to draw back from the nearer
trenches, for the fortress was covering them with such a rain of
missiles that nothing living could endure it. The Swedish king, carried
away by anger, commanded to burn all the villages and hamlets, so that
the neighborhood seemed in the night one sea of fire; but Zamoyski
cared not for that.

"All right!" said he, "let them burn. We have a roof over our heads,
but soon it will be pouring down their backs."

And he was so satisfied with himself and rejoiced that he made a great
feast that day and remained till late at the cups. A resounding
orchestra played at the feast so loudly that, in spite of the thunder
of artillery, it could be heard in the remotest trenches of the Swedes.

But the Swedes cannonaded continually, so constantly indeed that the
firing lasted the whole night. Next day a number of guns were brought
to the king, which as soon as they were placed in the trenches began to
work against the fortress. The king did not expect, it is true, to make
a breach in the walls; he merely wished to instil into Zamoyski the
conviction that he had determined to storm furiously and mercilessly.
He wished to bring terror on them; but that was bringing terror on
Poles.[6] Zamoyski paid no attention to it for a moment, and often
while on the walls he said, in time of the heaviest cannonading,--

"Why do they waste powder?"

Volodyovski and the others offered to make a sortie, but Zamoyski would
not permit it; he did not wish to waste blood. He knew besides that it
would be necessary to deliver open battle; for such a careful warrior
as the king and such a trained army would not let themselves be
surprised. Zagloba, seeing this fixed determination, insisted all the
more, and guaranteed that he would lead the sortie.

"You are too bloodthirsty!" answered Zamoyski. "It is pleasant for us
and unpleasant for the Swedes; why should we go to them? You might
fall, and I need you as a councillor; for it was by your wit that I
confounded Forgell so by mentioning the Netherlands."

Zagloba answered that he could not restrain himself within the walls,
he wanted so much to get at the Swedes; but he was forced to obey. In
default of other occupation he spent his time on the walls among the
soldiers, dealing out to them precautions and counsel with importance,
which all heard with no little respect, holding him a greatly
experienced warrior, one of the foremost in the Commonwealth; and he
was rejoiced in soul, looking at the defence and the spirit of the
knighthood.

"Pan Michael," said he to Volodyovski, "there is another spirit in the
Commonwealth and in the nobles. No one thinks now of treason or
surrender; and every one out of good-will for the Commonwealth and the
king is ready to give his life sooner than yield a step to the enemy.
You remember how a year ago from every side was heard, 'This one has
betrayed, that one has betrayed, a third has accepted protection;' and
now the Swedes need protection more than we. If the Devil does not
protect them, he will soon take them. We have our stomachs so full here
that drummers might beat on them, but their entrails are twisted into
whips from hunger."

Zagloba was right. The Swedish army had no supplies; and for eighteen
thousand men, not to mention horses, there was no place from which to
get supplies. Zamoyski, before the arrival of the enemy, had brought in
from all his estates for many miles around food for man and horse. In
the more remote neighborhoods of the country swarmed parties of
confederates and bands of armed peasants, so that foraging detachments
could not go out, since just beyond the camp certain death was in
waiting.

In addition to this, Pan Charnyetski had not gone to the west bank of
the Vistula, but was circling about the Swedish army like a wild beast
around a sheepfold. Again nightly alarms had begun, and the loss of
smaller parties without tidings. Near Krasnik appeared certain Polish
troops, which had cut communication with the Vistula. Finally, news
came that Pavel Sapyeha, the hetman, was marching from the north with a
powerful Lithuanian army; that in passing he had destroyed the garrison
at Lublin, had taken Lublin, and was coming with cavalry to Zamost.

Old Wittemberg, the most experienced of the Swedish leaders, saw the
whole ghastliness of the position, and laid it plainly before the king.

"I know," said he, "that the genius of your Royal Grace can do wonders;
but judging things in human fashion, hunger will overcome us, and when
the enemy fall upon our emaciated army not a living foot of us will
escape."

"If I had this fortress," answered the king, "I could finish the war in
two months."

"For such a fortress a year's siege is short."

The king in his soul recognized that the old warrior was right, but he
did not acknowledge that he saw no means himself, that his genius was
strained. He counted yet on some unexpected event; hence he gave orders
to fire night and day.

"I will bend the spirit in them," said he; "they will be more inclined
to treaties."

After some days of cannonading so furious that the light could not be
seen behind the smoke, the king sent Forgell again to the fortress.

"The king, my master," said Forgell, appearing before Zamoyski,
"considers that the damage which Zamost must have suffered from our
cannonading will soften the lofty mind of your princely grace and
incline it to negotiations."

To which Zamoyski said: "Of course there is damage! Why should there
not be? You killed on the market square a pig, which was struck in the
belly by the fragment of a bomb. If you cannonade another week, perhaps
you'll kill another pig."

Forgell took that answer to the king. In the evening a new council was
held in the king's quarters; next day the Swedes began to pack their
tents in wagons and draw their cannon out of the trenches, and in the
night the whole army moved onward.

Zamost thundered after them from all its artillery, and when they had
vanished from the eye two squadrons, the Shemberk and the Lauda, passed
out through the southern gate and followed in their track.

The Swedes marched southward. Wittemberg advised, it is true, a return
to Warsaw, and with all his power he tried to convince the king that
that was the only road of salvation; but the Swedish Alexander had
determined absolutely to pursue the Polish Darius to the remotest
boundaries of the kingdom.



                              CHAPTER XXX.


The spring of that year approached with wonderful roads; for while in
the north of the Commonwealth snow was already thawing, the stiffened
rivers were set free, and the whole country was filled with March
water, in the south the icy breath of winter was still descending from
the mountains to the fields, woods, and forests. In the forests lay
snow-drifts, in the open country frozen roads sounded under the hoofs
of horses; the days were dry, the sunsets red, the nights starry and
frosty. The people living on the rich clay, on the black soil, and in
the woods of Little Poland comforted themselves with the continuance of
the cold, stating that the field-mice and the Swedes would perish from
it. But inasmuch as the spring came late, it came as swiftly as an
armored squadron advancing to the attack of an enemy. The sun shot down
living fire from heaven, and at once the crust of winter burst; from
the Hungarian steppes flew a strong warm wind, and began to blow on the
fields and wild places. Straightway in the midst of shining ponds
arable ground became dark, a green fleece shot up on the low
river-lands, and the forests began to shed tears from bursting buds on
their branches.

In the heavens continually fair were seen, daily, rows of cranes, wild
ducks, teal, and geese. Storks flew to their places of the past year,
and the roofs were swarming with swallows; the twitter of birds was
heard in the villages, their noise in the woods and ponds, and in the
evening the whole country was ringing with the croaking and singing of
frogs, which swam with delight in the waters.

Then came great rains, which were as if they had been warmed; they fell
in the daytime, they fell in the night, without interruption.

The fields were turned into lakes, the rivers overflowed, the fords
became impassable; then followed the "stickiness and the impossible of
muddy roads." Amid all this water, mud, and swamp the Swedish legions
dragged onward continually toward the south.

But how little was that throng, advancing as it were to destruction,
like that brilliant army which in its time marched under Wittemberg to
Great Poland! Hunger had stamped itself on the faces of the old
soldiers; they went on more like spectres than men, in suffering, in
toil, in sleeplessness, knowing that at the end of the road not food
was awaiting, but hunger; not sleep, but a battle; and if rest, then
the rest of the dead.

Arrayed in iron these skeletons of horsemen sat on skeletons of horses.
The infantry hardly drew their legs along; barely could they hold
spears and muskets with trembling hands. Day followed day; they went
onward continually. Wagons were broken, cannons were fastened in
sloughs; they went on so slowly that sometimes they were able to
advance hardly five miles in one day. Diseases fell on the soldiers,
like ravens on corpses; the teeth of some were chattering from fever;
others lay down on the ground simply from weakness, choosing rather to
die than advance.

But the Swedish Alexander hastened toward the Polish Darius
unceasingly. At the same time he was pursued himself. As in the
night-time jackals follow a sick buffalo waiting to see if he will soon
fall, and he knows that he will fall and he hears the howl of the
hungry pack, so after the Swedes went "parties," nobles and peasants,
approaching ever nearer, attacking ever more insolently, and snatching
away.

At last came Charnyetski, the most terrible of all the pursuers, and
followed closely. The rearguards of the Swedes as often as they looked
behind saw horsemen, at one time far off on the edge of the horizon, at
another a furlong away, at another twice the distance of a musket-shot,
at another time, when attacking, on their very shoulders.

The enemy wanted battle; with despair did the Swedes pray to the Lord
of Hosts for battle. But Charnyetski did not receive battle, he bided
his time; meanwhile he preferred to punish the Swedes, or let go from
his hand against them single parties as one would falcons against water
birds.

And so they marched one after the other. There were times, however,
when Charnyetski passed the Swedes, pushed on, and blocked the road
before them, pretending to prepare for a general battle. Then the
trumpet sounded joyously from one end of the Swedish camp to the other,
and, oh miracle! new strength, a new spirit seemed to vivify on a
sudden the wearied ranks of the Scandinavians. Sick, wet, weak, like
Lazaruses, they stood in rank promptly for battle, with flaming faces,
with fire in their eyes. Spears and muskets moved with as much accuracy
as if iron hands held them; the shouts of battle were heard as loudly
as if they came from the healthiest bosoms, and they marched forward to
strike breast against breast.

Then Charnyetski struck once, twice; but when the artillery began to
thunder he withdrew his troops, leaving to the Swedes as profit, vain
labor and the greater disappointment and disgust.

When, however, the artillery could not come up, and spears and sabres
had to decide in the open field, he struck like a thunderbolt, knowing
that in a hand-to-hand conflict the Swedish cavalry could not stand,
even against volunteers.

And again Wittemberg implored the king to retreat and thus avoid ruin
to himself and the army; but Karl Gustav in answer compressed his lips,
fire flashed from his eyes, and he pointed to the south, where in the
Russian regions he hoped to find Yan Kazimir, and also fields open to
conquest, rest, provisions, pastures for horses, and rich plunder.

Meanwhile, to complete the misfortune, those Polish regiments which had
served him hitherto, and which in one way or another were now alone
able to meet Charnyetski, began to leave the Swedes. Pan Zbrojek
resigned first; he had held to Karl hitherto not from desire of gain,
but from blind attachment to the squadron, and soldierly faithfulness
to Karl. He resigned in this fashion, that he engaged in conflict with
a regiment of Miller's dragoons, cut down half the men, and departed.
After him resigned Pan Kalinski, who rode over the Swedish infantry.
Yan Sapyeha grew gloomier each day; he was meditating something in his
soul, plotting something. He had not gone hitherto himself, but his men
were deserting him daily.

Karl Gustav was marching then through Narol, Tsyeshanov, and Oleshytse,
to reach the San. He was upheld by the hope that Yan Kazimir would bar
his road and give him battle. A victory might yet repair the fate of
Sweden and bring a change of fortune. In fact, rumors were current that
Yan Kazimir had set out from Lvoff with the quarter soldiers and the
Tartars. But Karl's reckonings deceived him. Yan Kazimir preferred to
await the junction of the armies and the arrival of the Lithuanians
under Sapyeha. Delay was his best ally; for he was growing daily in
strength, while Karl was becoming weaker.

"That is not the march of troops nor of an army, but a funeral
procession!" said old warriors in Yan Kazimir's suite.

Many Swedish officers shared this opinion. Karl Gustav however repeated
still that he was going to Lvoff; but he was deceiving himself and his
army. It was not for him to go to Lvoff, but to think of his own
safety. Besides, it was not certain that he would find Yan Kazimir in
Lvoff; in every event the "Polish Darius" might withdraw far into
Podolia, and draw after him the enemy into distant steppes where the
Swedes must perish without rescue.

Douglas went to Premysl to try if that fortress would yield, and
returned, not merely with nothing, but plucked. The catastrophe was
coming slowly, but inevitably. All tidings brought to the Swedish camp
were simply the announcement of it. Each day fresh tidings and ever
more terrible.

"Sapyeha is marching; he is already in Tomashov!" was repeated one day.
"Lyubomirski is marching with troops and mountaineers!" was announced
the day following. And again: "The king is leading the quarter soldiers
and the horde one hundred thousand strong! He has joined Sapyeha!"

Among these tidings were "tidings of disaster and death," untrue and
exaggerated, but they always spread fear. The courage of the army fell.
Formerly whenever Karl appeared in person before his regiments, they
greeted him with shouts in which rang the hope of victory; now the
regiments stood before him dull and dumb. And at the fires the
soldiers, famished and wearied to death, whispered more of Charnyetski
than of their own king. They saw him everywhere. And, a strange thing!
when for a couple of days no party had perished, when a few nights
passed without alarms or cries of "Allah!" and "Strike, kill!" their
disquiet became still greater. "Charnyetski has fled; God knows what he
is preparing!" repeated the soldiers.

Karl halted a few days in Yaroslav, pondering what to do. During that
time the Swedes placed on flat-bottomed boats sick soldiers, of whom
there were many in camp, and sent them by the river to Sandomir, the
nearest fortified town still in Swedish hands. After this work had been
finished, and just when the news of Yan Kazimir's march from Lvoff had
come in, the King of Sweden determined to discover where Yan Kazimir
was, and with that object Colonel Kanneberg with one thousand cavalry
passed the San and moved to the east.

"It may be that you have in your hands the fate of the war and us all,"
said the king to him at parting.

And in truth much depended on that party, for in the worst case
Kanneberg was to furnish the camp with provisions; and if he could
learn certainly where Yan Kazimir was, the Swedish King was to move at
once with all his forces against the "Polish Darius," whose army he was
to scatter and whose person he was to seize if he could.

The first soldiers and the best horses were assigned, therefore, to
Kanneberg. Choice was made the more carefully as the colonel could not
take artillery or infantry; hence he must have with him men who with
sabres could stand against Polish cavalry in the field.

March 20, the party set out. A number of officers and soldiers took
farewell of them, saying: "God conduct you! God give victory! God give
a fortunate return!" They marched in a long line, being one thousand in
number, and went two abreast over the newly built bridge which had one
square still unfinished, but was in some fashion covered with planks so
that they might pass.

Good hope shone in their faces, for they were exceptionally well fed.
Food had been taken from others and given to them; gorailka was poured
into their flasks. When they were riding away they shouted joyfully and
said to their comrades,--

"We will bring you Charnyetski himself on a rope."

Fools! They knew not that they were going as go bullocks to slaughter
at the shambles!

Everything combined for their ruin. Barely had they crossed the river
when the Swedish sappers removed the temporary covering of the bridge,
so as to lay stronger planks over which cannon might pass. The thousand
turned toward Vyelki Ochi, singing in low voices to themselves; their
helmets glittered in the sun on the turn once and a second time; then
they began to sink in the dense pine-wood.

They rode forward two miles and a half,--emptiness, silence around
them; the forest depths seemed vacant altogether. They halted to give
breath to the horses; after that they moved slowly forward. At last
they reached Vyelki Oehi, in which they found not a living soul. That
emptiness astonished Kanneberg.

"Evidently they have been waiting for us here," said he to Major Sweno;
"but Charnyetski must be in some other place, since he has not prepared
ambushes."

"Does your worthiness order a return?" asked Sweno.

"We will go on even to Lvoff itself, which is not very far. I must find
an informant, and give the king sure information touching Yan Kazimir."

"But if we meet superior forces?"

"Even if we meet several thousand of those brawlers whom the Poles call
general militia, we will not let ourselves be torn apart by such
soldiers."

"But we may meet regular troops. We have no artillery, and against them
cannons are the main thing."

"Then we will draw back in season and inform the king of the enemy, and
those who try to cut off our retreat we will disperse."

"I am afraid of the night!" replied Sweno.

"We will take every precaution. We have food for men and horses for two
days; we need not hurry."

When they entered the pine-wood beyond Vyelki Ochi, they acted with
vastly more caution. Fifty horsemen rode in advance musket in hand,
each man with his gunstock on his thigh. They looked carefully on every
side; examined the thickets, the undergrowth; frequently they halted,
listened; sometimes they went from the road to one side to examine the
depths of the forest, but neither on the roads nor at the sides was
there a man.

But one hour later, after they had passed a rather sudden turn, two
troopers riding in advance saw a man on horseback about four hundred
yards ahead.

The day was clear and the sun shone brightly; hence the man could be
seen as something on the hand. He was a soldier, not large, dressed
very decently in foreign fashion. He seemed especially small because he
sat on a large cream-colored steed, evidently of high breed.

The horseman was riding at leisure, as if not seeing that troops were
rolling on after him. The spring floods had dug deep ditches in the
road, in which muddy water was sweeping along. The horseman spurred his
steed in front of the ditches, and the beast sprang across with the
nimbleness of a deer, and again went on at a trot, throwing his head
and snorting vivaciously from time to time.

The two troopers reined in their horses and began to look around for
the sergeant. He clattered up in a moment, looked, and said: "That is
some hound from the Polish kennel."

"Shall I shout at him?"

"Shout not; there may be more of them. Go to the colonel."

Meanwhile the rest of the advance guard rode up, and all halted; the
small horseman halted too, and turned the face of his steed to the
Swedes as if wishing to block the road to them. For a certain time they
looked at him and he at them.

"There is another! a second! a third! a fourth! a whole party!" were
the sudden cries in the Swedish ranks.

In fact, horsemen began to pour out from both sides of the road; at
first singly, then by twos, by threes. All took their places in line
with him who had appeared first.

But the second Swedish guard with Sweno, and then the whole detachment
with Kanneberg, came up. Kanneberg and Sweno rode to the front at once.

"I know those men!" cried Sweno, when he had barely seen them; "their
squadron was the first to strike on Prince Waldemar at Golamb; those
are Charnyetski's men. He must be here himself!"

These words produced an impression; deep silence followed in the ranks,
only the horses shook their bridle-bits.

"I sniff some ambush," continued Sweno. "There are too few of them to
meet us, but there must be others hidden in the woods."

He turned here to Kanneberg: "Your worthiness, let us return."

"You give good counsel," answered the colonel, frowning. "It was not
worth while to set out if we must return at sight of a few ragged
fellows. Why did we not return at sight of one? Forward!"

The first Swedish rank moved at that moment with the greatest
regularity; after it the second, the third, the fourth. The distance
between the two detachments was becoming less.

"Cock your muskets!" commanded Kanneberg.

The Swedish muskets moved like one; their iron necks were stretched
toward the Polish horsemen.

But before the muskets thundered, the Polish horsemen turned their
horses and began to flee in a disorderly group.

"Forward!" cried Kanneberg.

The division moved forward on a gallop, so that the ground trembled
under the heavy hoofs of the horses.

The forest was filled with the shouts of pursuers and pursued. After
half an hour of chasing, either because the Swedish horses were better,
or those of the Poles were wearied by some journey, the distance
between the two bodies was decreasing.

But at once something wonderful happened. The Polish band, at first
disorderly, did not scatter more and more as the flight continued, but
on the contrary, they fled in ever better order, in ranks growing more
even, as if the very speed of the horses brought the riders into line.

Sweno saw this, urged on his horse, reached Kanneberg, and called
out,--

"Your worthiness, that is an uncommon party; those are regular
soldiers, fleeing designedly and leading us to an ambush."

"Will there be devils in the ambush, or men?" asked Kanneberg.

The road rose somewhat and became ever wider, the forest thinner, and
at the end of the road was to be seen an unoccupied field, or rather a
great open space, surrounded on all sides by a dense, deep gray
pine-wood.

The Polish horsemen increased their pace in turn, and it transpired
that hitherto they had gone slowly of purpose; for now in a short time
they pushed forward so rapidly that the Swedish leader knew that he
could never overtake them. But when he had come to the middle of the
open plain and saw that the enemy were almost touching the other end of
it, he began to restrain his men and slacken speed.

But, oh marvel! the Poles, instead of sinking in the opposite forest,
wheeled around at the very edge of the half-circle and returned on a
gallop toward the Swedes, putting themselves at once in such splendid
battle order that they roused wonder even in their opponents.

"It is true!" cried Kanneberg, "those are regular soldiers. They turned
as if on parade. What do they want for the hundredth time?"

"They are attacking us!" cried Sweno.

In fact, the squadron was moving forward at a trot. The little knight
on the cream-colored steed shouted something to his men, pushed
forward, again reined in his horse, gave signs with his sabre;
evidently he was the leader.

"They are attacking really!" said Kanneberg, with astonishment.

And now the horses, with ears dropped back, were coming at the greatest
speed, stretched out so that their bellies almost touched the ground.
Their riders bent forward to their shoulders, and were hidden behind
the horse manes. The Swedes standing in the first rank saw only
hundreds of distended horse-nostrils and burning eyes. A whirlwind does
not move as that squadron tore on.

"God with us! Sweden! Fire!" commanded Kanneberg, raising his sword.

All the muskets thundered; but at that very moment the Polish squadron
fell into the smoke with such impetus that it hurled to the right and
the left the first Swedish ranks, and drove itself into the density of
men and horses, as a wedge is driven into a cleft log. A terrible whirl
was made, breastplate struck breast-plate, sabre struck rapier; and the
rattle, the whining of horses, the groan of dying men roused every
echo, so that the whole pine-wood began to give back the sounds of the
battle, as the steep cliffs of mountains give back the thunder.

The Swedes were confused for a time, especially since a considerable
number of them fell from the first blow; but soon recovering, they went
powerfully against the enemy. Their flanks came together; and since the
Polish squadron was pushing ahead anyhow, for it wished to pass through
with a thrust, it was soon surrounded. The Swedish centre yielded
before the squadron, but the flanks pressed on it with the greater
power, unable to break it; for it defended itself with rage and with
all that incomparable adroitness which made the Polish cavalry so
terrible in hand-to-hand conflict. Sabres toiled then against rapiers,
bodies fell thickly; but the victory was just turning to the Swedish
side when suddenly from under the dark wall of the pinewood rolled out
another squadron, and moved forward at once with a shout.

The whole right wing of the Swedes, under the lead of Sweno, faced the
new enemy in which the trained Swedish soldiers recognized hussars.
They were led by a man on a valiant dapple gray; he wore a burka, and a
wild-cat skin cap with a heron feather. He was perfectly visible to the
eye, for he was riding at one side some yards from the soldiers.

"Charnyetski! Charnyetski!" was the cry in the Swedish ranks.

Sweno looked in despair at the sky, then pressed his horse with his
knees and rushed forward with his men.

But Charnyetski led his hussars a few yards farther, and when they were
moving with the swiftest rush, he turned back alone.

With that a third squadron issued from the forest, he galloped to that
and led it forward; a fourth came out, he led that on; pointing to each
with his baton, where it must strike. You would have said that he was a
man leading harvesters to his field and distributing work among them.

At last, when the fifth squadron had come forth from the forest, he put
himself at the head of that, and with it rushed to the fight.

But the hussars had already forced the right wing to the rear, and
after a while had broken it completely; the three other squadrons,
racing around the Swedes in Tartar fashion and raising an uproar, had
thrown them into disorder; then they fell to cutting them with steel,
to thrusting them with lances, scattering, trampling, and finally
pursuing them amid shrieks and slaughter.

Kanneberg saw that he had fallen into an ambush, and had led his
detachment as it were under the knife. For him there was no thought of
victory now; but he wished to save as many men as possible, hence he
ordered to sound the retreat. The Swedes, therefore, turned with all
speed to that same road by which they had come to Vyelki Ochi; but
Charnyetski's men so followed them that the breaths of the Polish
horses warmed the shoulders of the Swedes.

In these conditions and in view of the terror which had seized the
Swedish cavalry, that return could not take place in order; and soon
Kanneberg's brilliant division was turned into a crowd fleeing in
disorder and slaughtered almost without resistance.

The longer the pursuit lasted, the more irregular it became; for the
Poles did not pursue in order, each of them drove his horse according
to the breath in the beast's nostrils, and attacked and slew whom he
wished.

Both sides were mingled and confused in one mass. Some Polish soldiers
passed the last Swedish ranks; and it happened that when a Pole stood
in his stirrups to strike with more power the man fleeing in front of
him, he fell himself thrust with a rapier from behind. The road to
Vyelki Ochi was strewn with Swedish corpses; but the end of the chase
was not there. Both sides rushed with the same force along the road
through the next forest; there however the Swedish horses, wearied
first, began to go more slowly, and the slaughter became still more
bloody.

Some of the Swedes sprang from their beasts and vanished in the forest;
but only a few did so, for the Swedes knew from experience that
peasants were watching in the forest, and they preferred to die from
sabres rather than from terrible tortures, of which the infuriated
people were not sparing. Some asked quarter, but for the most part in
vain; for each Pole chose to slay an enemy, and chase on rather than
take him prisoner, guard him, and leave further pursuit.

They cut then without mercy, so that no one might return with news of
the defeat. Volodyovski was in the van of pursuit with the Lauda
squadron. He was that horseman who had appeared first to the Swedes as
a decoy; he had struck first, and now, sitting on a horse which was as
if impelled by a whirlwind, he enjoyed himself with his whole soul,
wishing to be sated with blood, and avenge the defeat of Golamb. Every
little while he overtook a horseman, and when he had overtaken him he
quenched him as quickly as he would a candle; sometimes he came on the
shoulders of two, three, or four, but soon, only in a moment, that same
number of horses ran riderless before him. More than one hapless Swede
caught his own rapier by the point, and turning the hilt to the knight
for quarter implored with voice and with eyes. Volodyovski did not
stop, but thrusting his sabre into the man where the neck joins the
breast, he gave him a light, small push, and the man dropped his hands,
gave forth one and a second word with pale lips, then sank in the
darkness of death.

Volodyovski, not looking around, rushed on and pushed new victims to
the earth.

The valiant Sweno took note of this terrible harvester, and summoning a
few of the best horsemen he determined with the sacrifice of his own
life to restrain even a little of the pursuit in order to save others.
They turned therefore their horses, and pointing their rapiers waited
with the points toward the pursuers. Volodyovski, seeing this,
hesitated not a moment, spurred on his horse, and fell into the midst
of them.

And before any one could have winked, two helmets had fallen. More than
ten rapiers were directed at once to the single breast of Volodyovski;
but at that instant rushed in Pan Yan and Pan Stanislav, Yuzva Butrym,
Zagloba and Roh Kovalski, of whom Zagloba related, that even when going
to the attack he had his eyes closed in sleep, and woke only when his
breast struck the breast of an enemy.

Volodyovski put himself under the saddle so quickly that the rapiers
passed through empty air. He learned this method from the Tartars of
Bailgorod; but being small and at the same time adroit beyond human
belief, he brought it to such perfection that he vanished from the eye
when he wished, either behind the shoulder or under the belly of the
horse. So he vanished this time, and before the astonished Swedes could
understand what had become of him he was erect on the saddle again,
terrible as a wild-cat which springs down from lofty branches among
frightened dogs.

Meanwhile his comrades gave him aid, and bore around death and
confusion. One of the Swedes held a pistol to the very breast of
Zagloba. Roh Kovalski, having that enemy on his left side, was unable
to strike him with a sabre; but he balled his fist, struck the Swede's
head in passing, and that man dropped under the horse as if a
thunderbolt had met him, and Zagloba, giving forth a shout of delight,
slashed in the temple Sweno himself, who dropped his hands and fell
with his forehead to the horse's shoulder. At sight of this the other
Swedes scattered. Volodyovski, Yuzva Footless, Pan Yan, and Pan
Stanislav followed and cut them down before they had gone a hundred
yards.

And the pursuit lasted longer. The Swedish horses had less and less
breath in their bodies, and ran more and more slowly. At last from a
thousand of the best horsemen, which had gone out under Kanneberg,
there remained barely a hundred and some tens; the rest had fallen in a
long belt over the forest road. And this last group was decreasing, for
Polish hands ceased not to toil over them.

At last they came out of the forest. The towers of Yaroslav were
outlined clearly in the azure sky. Now hope entered the hearts of the
fleeing, for they knew that in Yaroslav was the king with all his
forces, and at any moment he might come to their aid. They had
forgotten that immediately after their passage the top had been taken
from the last square of the bridge, so as to put stronger planks for
the passage of cannon.

Whether Charnyetski knew of this through his spies, or wished to show
himself of purpose to the Swedish king and cut down before his eyes the
last of those unfortunate men, it is enough that not only did he not
restrain the pursuit, but he sprang forward himself with the Shemberk
squadron, slashed, cut with his own hand, pursuing the crowd in such
fashion as if he wished with that same speed to strike Yaroslav.

At last they ran to within a furlong of the bridge; shouts from the
field came to the Swedish camp. A multitude of soldiers and officers
ran out from the town to see what was taking place beyond the river;
they had barely looked when they saw and recognized the horsemen who
had gone out of camp in the morning.

"Kanneberg's detachment! Kanneberg's detachment!" cried thousands of
voices.

"Almost cut to pieces! Scarcely a hundred men are running!"

At that moment the king himself galloped up; with him Wittemberg,
Forgell, Miller, and other generals.

The king grew pale. "Kanneberg!" said he.

"By Christ and his wounds! the bridge is not finished," cried
Wittemberg; "the enemy will cut them down to the last man."

The king looked at the river, which had risen with spring waters,
roaring with its yellow waves; to give aid by swimming was not to be
thought of.

The few men still left were coming nearer.

Now there was a new cry: "The king's train and the guard are coming!
They too will perish!"

In fact, it had happened that a part of the king's provision-chests
with a hundred men of the infantry guard had come out at that moment by
another road from adjoining forests. When they saw what had happened,
the men of the escort, in the conviction that the bridge was ready,
hastened with all speed toward the town.

But they were seen from the field by the Poles. Immediately about three
hundred horsemen rushed toward them at full speed; in front of all,
with sabre above his head and fire in his eyes, flew the tenant of
Vansosh, Jendzian. Not many proofs had he given hitherto of his
bravery; but at sight of the wagons in which there might be rich
plunder, daring so rose in his heart that he went some tens of yards in
advance of the others. The infantry at the wagons, seeing that they
could not escape, formed themselves into a quadrangle, and a hundred
muskets were directed at once at the breast of Jendzian. A roar shook
the air, a line of smoke flew along the wall of the quadrangle; but
before the smoke had cleared away the rider had urged on his horse so
that the forefeet of the beast were above the heads of the men, and the
lord tenant fell into the midst of them like a thunderbolt.

An avalanche of horsemen rushed after him. And as when wolves overcome
a horse, and he, lying yet on his back, defends himself desperately
with his hoofs, and they cover him completely and tear from him lumps
of living flesh, so those wagons and the infantry were covered
completely with a whirling mass of horses and riders. But terrible
shouts rose from that whirl, and reached the ears of the Swedes
standing on the other bank.

Meanwhile still nearer the bank the Poles were finishing the remnant of
Kanneberg's cavalry. The whole Swedish army had come out like one man
to the lofty bank of the San. Infantry, cavalry, artillery were mingled
together; and all looked as if in an ancient circus in Rome at the
spectacle; but they looked with set lips, with despair in their hearts,
with terror and a feeling of helplessness. At moments from the breasts
of those unwilling spectators was wrested a terrible cry. At moments a
general weeping was heard; then again silence, and only the panting of
the excited soldiers was audible. For that thousand men whom Kanneberg
had led out were the front and the pride of the whole Swedish army;
they were veterans, covered with glory in God knows how many lands, and
God knows how many battles. But now they are running, like a lost flock
of sheep, over the broad fields in front of the Swedish army, dying
like sheep under the knife of the butcher. For that was no longer a
battle, but a hunt. The terrible Polish horsemen circled about, like a
storm, over the field of struggle, crying in various voices and running
ahead of the Swedes. Sometimes a number less than ten, sometimes a
group more than ten fell on one man. Sometimes one met one, sometimes
the hunted Swede bowed down on the saddle as if to lighten the blow for
the enemy, sometimes he withstood the brunt: but oftener he perished,
for with edged weapons the Swedish soldiers were not equal to Polish
nobles trained in all kinds of fencing.

But among the Poles the little knight was the most terrible of all,
sitting on his cream-colored steed, which was as nimble and as swift as
a falcon. The whole army noted him; for whomsoever he pursued he
killed, whoever met him perished it was unknown how and when, with such
small and insignificant movements of his sword did he hurl the
sturdiest horsemen to the earth. At last he saw Kanneberg himself, whom
more than ten men were chasing; the little knight shouted at them,
stopped the pursuit by command, and attacked the Swede himself.

The Swedes on the other bank held the breath in their breasts. The king
had pushed to the edge of the river and looked with throbbing heart,
moved at once with alarm and hope; for Kanneberg, as a great lord and a
relative of the king, was trained from childhood in every species of
sword exercise by Italian masters; in fighting with edged weapons he
had not his equal in the Swedish army. All eyes therefore were fixed on
him now, barely did they dare to breathe; but he, seeing that the
pursuit of the crowd had ceased, and wishing after the loss of his
troops to save his own glory in the eyes of the king, said to his
gloomy soul,--

"Woe to me if having first lost my men, I do not seal with my own blood
the shame, or if I do not purchase my life by having overturned this
terrible man. In another event, though the hand of God might bear me to
that bank, I should not dare to look in the eyes of any Swede." When he
had said this he turned his horse and rushed toward the yellow knight.

Since those Poles who had cut him off from the river had withdrawn,
Kanneberg had the hope that if he should finish his opponent, he might
spring into the water, and then what would be would be; if he could not
swim the stormy stream, its current would bear him far with the horse,
and his brothers would provide him some rescue.

He sprang therefore like a thunderbolt at the little knight, and the
little knight at him. The Swede wished during the rush to thrust the
rapier up to the hilt under the arm of his opponent; but he learned in
an instant that though a master himself he must meet a master as well,
for his sword merely slipped along the edge of the Polish sabre, only
quivered somehow wonderfully in his hand, as if his arm had suddenly
grown numb; barely was he able to defend himself from the blow which
the knight then gave him; luckily at that moment their horses bore them
away in opposite directions.

Both wheeled in a circle and returned simultaneously; but they rode now
more slowly against each other, wishing to have more time for the
meeting and even to cross weapons repeatedly. Kanneberg withdrew into
himself so that he became like a bird which presents to view only
a powerful beak from the midst of upraised feathers. He knew
one infallible thrust in which a certain Florentine had trained
him,--infallible because deceitful and almost impossible to be warded
off,--consisting in this: that the point of the sword was directed
apparently at the breast, but by avoiding obstacles at the side it
passed through the throat till the hilt reached the back of the neck.
This thrust he determined to make now.

And, sure of himself, he approached, restraining his horse more and
more; but Volodyovski rode toward him with short springs. For a moment
he thought to disappear suddenly under the horse like a Tartar, but
since he had to meet with only one man, and that before the eyes of
both armies, though he understood that some unexpected thrust was
waiting for him, he was ashamed to defend himself in Tartar and not in
knightly fashion.

"He wishes to take me as a heron does a falcon with a thrust," thought
Pan Michael to himself; "but I will use that windmill which I invented
in Lubni."

And this idea seemed to him best for the moment; therefore it
surrounded him like a glittering shield of light, and he struck his
steed with his spurs and rushed on Kanneberg.

Kanneberg drew himself in still more, and almost grew to the horse; in
the twinkle of an eye the rapier caught the sabre, and quickly he stuck
out his head like a snake and made a ghastly thrust.

But in that instant a terrible whirling began to sound, the rapier
turned in the hands of the Swede; the point struck empty space, but the
curved end of the sabre fell with the speed of lightning; on the face
of Kanneberg, cut through a part of his nose, his mouth and beard,
struck his shoulder-blade, shattered that, and stopped only at the
sword-belt which crossed his shoulder.

The rapier dropped from the hands of the unfortunate man, and night
embraced his head; but before he fell from his horse, Volodyovski
dropped his own weapon and seized him by the shoulder.

The Swedes from the other bank roared with one out burst, but Zagloba
sprang to the little knight.

"Pan Michael, I knew it would be so, but I was ready to avenge you!"

"He was a master," answered Volodyovski. "You take the horse, for he is
a good one."

"Ha! if it were not for the river we could rush over and frolic with
those fellows. I would be the first--"

The whistle of balls interrupted further words of Zagloba; therefore he
did not finish the expression of his thoughts, but cried,--

"Let us go, Pan Michael; those traitors are ready to fire."

"Their bullets have no force, for the range is too great."

Meanwhile other Polish horsemen came up congratulating Volodyovski and
looking at him with admiration; but he only moved his mustaches, for he
was a cause of gladness to himself as well as to them.

But on the other bank among the Swedes, it was seething as in a
beehive. Artillerists on that side drew out their cannons in haste; and
in the nearer Polish ranks trumpets were sounded for withdrawal. At
this sound each man sprang to his squadron, and in a moment all were in
order. They withdrew then to the forest, and halted again, as if
offering a place to the enemy and inviting them across the river. At
last, in front of the ranks of men and horses, rode out on his dapple
gray the man wearing a burka and a cap with a heron's feather, and
bearing a gilded baton in his hand.

He was perfectly visible, for the reddish rays of the setting sun fell
on him, and besides he rode before the regiments as if reviewing them.
All the Swedes knew him at once, and began to shout,--

"Charnyetski! Charnyetski!"

He said something to the colonels. It was seen how he stopped longer
with the knight who had slain Kanneberg, and placed his hand on his
shoulder; then he raised his baton, and the squadrons began to turn
slowly one after another to the pine-woods.

Just then the sun went down. In Yaroslav the bells sounded in the
church; then all the regiments began to sing in one voice as they were
riding away, "The Angel of the Lord announced to the Most Holy Virgin
Mary;" and with that song they vanished from the eyes of the Swedes.



                             CHAPTER XXXI.


That evening the Swedes lay down to sleep without putting food into
their mouths, and without hope that they would have anything to
strengthen themselves with on the morrow. They were not able to sleep
from the torment of hunger. Before the second cock-crow the suffering
soldiers began to slip out of the camp singly and in crowds to plunder
villages adjoining Yaroslav. They went like night-thieves to Radzymno,
to Kanchuya, to Tychyno, where they hoped to find food of some kind.
Their confidence was increased by the fact that Charnyetski was on the
other side of the river; but even had he been able to cross, they
preferred death to hunger. There was evidently a great relaxation in
the camp, for despite the strictest orders of the king about fifteen
hundred men went out in this way.

They fell to ravaging the neighborhood, burning, plundering, killing;
but scarcely a man of them was to return. Charnyetski was on the other
side of the San, it is true, but on the left bank were various
"parties" of nobles and peasants; of these the strongest, that of
Stjalkovski, formed of daring nobles of the mountains, had come that
very night to Prohnik, as if led by the evil fate of the Swedes. When
he saw the fire and heard the shots, Stjalkovski went straight to the
uproar and fell upon the plunderers. They defended themselves fiercely
behind fences; but Stjalkovski broke them up, cut them to pieces,
spared no man. In other villages other parties did work of the same
kind. Fugitives were followed to the very camp, and the pursuers spread
alarm and confusion, shouting in Tartar, in Wallachian, in Hungarian,
and in Polish; so that the Swedes thought that some powerful auxiliary
of the Poles was attacking them, maybe the Khan with the whole horde.

Confusion began, and--a thing without example hitherto--panic, which
the officers put down with the greatest effort. The king, who remained
on horseback till daylight, saw what was taking place; he understood
what might come of that, and called a council of war at once in the
morning.

That gloomy council did not last long, for there were not two roads to
choose from. Courage had fallen in the army, the soldiers had nothing
to eat, the enemy had grown in power.

The Swedish Alexander, who had promised the whole world to pursue the
Polish Darius even to the steppes of the Tartars, was forced to think
no longer of pursuit, but of his own safety.

"We can return by the San to Sandomir, thence by the Vistula to Warsaw
and to Prussia," said Wittemberg; "in that way we shall escape
destruction."

Douglas seized his own head: "So many victories, so many toils, such a
great country conquered, and we must return."

To which Wittemberg said: "Has your worthiness any advice?"

"I have not," answered Douglas.

The king, who had said nothing hitherto, rose, as a sign that the
session was ended, and said,

"I command the retreat!"

Not a word further was heard from his mouth that day.

Drums began to rattle, and trumpets to sound. News that the retreat was
ordered ran in a moment from one end of the camp to the other. It was
received with shouts of delight. Fortresses and castles were still in
the hands of the Swedes; and in them rest, food, and safety were
waiting.

The generals and soldiers betook themselves so zealously to preparing
for retreat that that zeal, as Douglas remarked, bordered on disgrace.

The king sent Douglas with the vanguard to repair the difficult
crossings and clear the forests. Soon after him moved the whole army in
order of battle; the front was covered by artillery, the rear by
wagons, at the flanks marched infantry. Military supplies and tents
sailed down the river on boats.

All these precautions were not superfluous; barely had the march begun,
when the rearguard of the Swedes saw Polish cavalry behind, and
thenceforth they lost it almost never from sight. Charnyetski assembled
his own squadrons, collected all the "parties" of that region, sent to
Yan Kazimir for reinforcements, and pursued. The first stopping-place,
Pjevorsk, was at the same time the first place of alarm. The Polish
divisions pushed up so closely that several thousand infantry with
artillery had to turn against them. For a time the king himself thought
that Charnyetski was really attacking; but according to his wont he
only sent detachment after detachment. These attacked with an uproar
and retreated immediately. All the night passed in these encounters,--a
troublesome and sleepless night for the Swedes.

The whole march, all the following nights and days were to be like this
one.

Meanwhile Yan Kazimir sent two squadrons of very well trained cavalry,
and with them a letter stating that the hetmans would soon march with
cavalry, and that he himself with the rest of the infantry and with the
horde would hasten after them. In fact, he was detained only by
negotiations with the Khan, with Rakotsy, and with the court of Vienna.
Charnyetski was rejoiced beyond measure by this news; and when the day
after the Swedes advanced in the wedge between the Vistula and the San,
he said to Colonel Polyanovski,--

"The net is spread, the fish are going in."

"And we will do like that fisherman," said Zagloba, "who played on the
flute to the fish so that they might dance, and when they would not, he
pulled them on shore; then they began to jump around, and he fell to
striking them with a stick, crying: 'Oh, such daughters! you ought to
have danced when I begged you to do so.'"

"They will dance," answered Charnyetski; "only let the marshal, Pan
Lyubomirski, come with his army, which numbers five thousand."

"He may come any time," remarked Volodyovski.

"Some nobles from the foot-hills arrived to-day," said Zagloba; "they
say that he is marching in haste; but whether he will join us instead
of fighting on his own account is another thing."

"How is that?" asked Charnyetski, glancing quickly at Zagloba.

"He is a man of uncommon ambition and envious of glory. I have known
him many years; I was his confidant and made his acquaintance when he
was still a lad, at the court of Pan Krakovski. He was learning fencing
at that time from Frenchmen and Italians. He fell into terrible anger
one day when I told him that they were fools, not one of whom could
stand before me. We had a duel, and I laid out seven of them one
following the other. After that Lyubomirski learned from me, not only
fencing, but the military art. By nature his wit is a little dull; but
whatever he knows he knows from me."

"Are you then such a master of the sword?" asked Polyanovski.

"As a specimen of my teaching, take Pan Volodyovski; he is my second
pupil. From that man I have real comfort."

"True, it was you who killed Sweno."

"Sweno? If some one of you, gentlemen, had done that deed, he would
have had something to talk about all his life, and besides would invite
his neighbors often to dinner to repeat the story at wine; but I do not
mind it, for if I wished to take in all I have done, I could pave the
road from this place to Sandomir with such Swenos. Could I not? Tell
me, any of you who know me."

"Uncle could do it," said Roh Kovalski.

Charnyetski did not hear the continuation of this dialogue, for he had
fallen to thinking deeply over Zagloba's words. He too knew of
Lyubomirski's ambition, and doubted not that the marshal would either
impose his own will on him, or would act on his own account, even
though that should bring harm to the Commonwealth. Therefore his stern
face became gloomy, and he began to twist his beard.

"Oho!" whispered Zagloba to Pan Yan, "Charnyetski is chewing something
bitter, for his face is like the face of an eagle; he will snap up
somebody soon."

Then Charnyetski said: "Some one of you, gentlemen, should go with a
letter from me to Lyubomirski."

"I am known to him, and I will go," said Pan Yan.

"That is well," answered Charnyetski; "the more noted the messenger,
the better."

Zagloba turned to Volodyovski and whispered: "He is speaking now
through the nose; that is a sign of great change."

In fact, Charnyetski had a silver palate, for a musket-ball had carried
away his own years before at Busha. Therefore whenever he was roused,
angry, and unquiet, he always began to speak with a sharp and clinking
voice. Suddenly he turned to Zagloba: "And perhaps you would go with
Pan Skshetuski?"

"Willingly," answered Zagloba. "If I cannot do anything, no man can.
Besides, to a man of such great birth it will be more proper to send
two."

Charnyetski compressed his lips, twisted his beard, and repeated as if
to himself: "Great birth, great birth--"

"No one can deprive Lyubomirski of that," remarked Zagloba.

Charnyetski frowned.

"The Commonwealth alone is great, and in comparison with it no family
is great, all of them are small; and I would the earth swallowed those
who make mention of their greatness."

All were silent, for he had spoken with much vehemence; and only after
some time did Zagloba say,--

"In comparison with the whole Commonwealth, certainly."

"I did not grow up out of salt, nor out of the soil, but out of that
which pains me," said Charnyetski; "and the Cossacks who shot this lip
through pained me, and now the Swedes pain me; and either I shall cut
away this sore with the sabre, or die of it myself, so help me God!"

"And we will help you with our blood!" said Polyanovski.

Charnyetski ruminated some time yet over the bitterness which rose in
his heart, over the thought that the marshal's ambition might hinder
him in saving the country; at last he grew calm and said,--

"Now it is necessary to write a letter. I ask you, gentlemen, to come
with me."

Pan Yan and Zagloba followed him, and half an hour later they were on
horseback and riding back toward Radymno; for there was news that the
marshal had halted there with his army.

"Yan," said Zagloba, feeling of the bag in which he carried
Charnyetski's letter, "do me a favor; let me be the only one to talk to
the marshal."

"But, father, have you really known him, and taught him fencing?"

"Hei! that came out of itself, so that the breath should not grow hot
in my mouth, and my tongue become soft, which might easily happen from
too long silence. I neither knew him nor taught him. Just as if I had
nothing better to do than be a bear-keeper, and teach the marshal how
to walk on hind legs! But that is all one; I have learned him through
and through from what people tell of him, and I shall be able to bend
him as a cook bends pastry. Only one thing I beg of you: do not say
that we have a letter from Charnyetski, and make no mention of it till
I give the letter myself."

"How is that? Should I not do the work for which I was sent? In my life
such a thing has not happened, and it will not happen! Even if
Charnyetski should forgive me, I would not do that for ready treasure."

"Then I will draw my sabre and hamstring your horse so that you cannot
follow me. Have you ever seen anything miscarry that I invented with my
own head? Tell me, have you ever come into evil plight yourself with
Zagloba's stratagems? Did Pan Michael come out badly, or your Helena,
or any of you, when I freed you all from Radzivill's hands? I tell you
that more harm than good may come of that letter; for Charnyetski wrote
it in such agitation that he broke three pens. Finally, you can speak
of it when my plans fail. I promise to give it then, but not before."

"If I can only deliver the letter, it is all one when."

"I ask for no more. Now on, for there is a terrible road before us."

They urged the horses, and went at a gallop. But they did not need to
ride long, for the marshal's vanguard had not only passed Radymno, but
Yaroslav; and Lyubomirski himself was at Yaroslav, and occupied the
former quarters of the King of Sweden.

They found him at dinner, with the most important officers. But when
the envoys were announced, Lyubomirski gave orders to receive them at
once; for he knew the names, since they were mentioned at that time in
the whole Commonwealth.

All eyes were turned on the envoys as they entered; the officers looked
with especial admiration and curiosity at Pan Yan. When the marshal had
greeted them courteously, he asked at once,--

"Have I that famous knight before me who brought the letters from
besieged Zbaraj to the king?"

"I crept through," said Pan Yan.

"God grant me as many such officers as possible! I envy Pan Charnyetski
nothing so much; as to the rest, I know that even my small services
will not perish from the memory of men."

"And I am Zagloba," said the old knight, pushing himself forward.

Here he passed his eye around the assembly; and the marshal, as he
wished to attract every one to himself, exclaimed,--

"Who does not know of the man who slew Burlai, the leader of the
barbarians; of the man who raised Radzivill's army in rebellion--"

"And I led Sapyeha's army, who, if the truth is told, chose me, not him
for leader," added Zagloba.

"And why did you wish, being able to have such a high office, to leave
it and serve under Pan Charnyetski?"

Here Zagloba's eye gleamed at Skshetuski, and he said: "Serene great
mighty marshal, from your worthiness I as well as the whole country
take example how to resign ambition and self-interest for the good of
the Commonwealth."

Lyubomirski blushed from satisfaction, and Zagloba, putting his hands
on his hips, continued,--

"Pan Charnyetski has sent us to bow to your worthiness in his name and
that of the whole army, and at the same time to inform you of the
considerable victory which God has permitted us to gain over
Kanneberg."

"I have heard of it already," said the marshal, dryly enough, in whom
envy had now begun to move, "but gladly do I hear it again from an
eyewitness."

Zagloba began at once to relate, but with certain changes, for the
forces of Kanneberg grew in his mouth to two thousand men. He did not
forget either to mention Sweno or himself, and how before the eyes of
the king the remnant of the cavalry were cut to pieces near the river;
how the wagons and three hundred men of the guards fell into the hands
of the fortunate conquerors; in a word, the victory increased in his
narrative to the dimensions of an unspeakable misfortune for the
Swedes.

All listened with attention, and so did the marshal; but he grew
gloomier and gloomier, his face was chilled as if by ice, and at last
he said,--

"I do not deny that Charnyetski is a celebrated warrior, but still he
cannot devour all the Swedes himself; something will remain for others
to gulp."

"Serene great mighty lord," answered Zagloba, "it is not Pan
Charnyetski who gained the victory."

"But who?"

"But Lyubomirski!"

A moment of universal astonishment followed. The marshal opened his
mouth, began to wink, and looked at Zagloba with such an astonished
gaze, as if he wished to ask: "Is there not a stave lacking in your
barrel?"

Zagloba did not let himself be beaten from the track, but pouting his
lips with great importance (he borrowed this gesture from Zamoyski),
said,--

"I heard Charnyetski say before the whole army: 'It is not our sabres
that slay them; 'tis the name of Lyubomirski that cuts them down. Since
they have heard that he is right here marching on, their courage has so
gone out of them that they see in every one of our soldiers the army of
the marshal, and they put their heads under the knife like sheep.'"

If all the rays of the sun had fallen at once on the face of the
marshal, that face could not have been more radiant.

"How is that?" asked he; "did Charnyetski himself say that?"

"He did, and many other things; but I do not know that 'tis proper for
me to repeat them, for he told them only to intimates."

"Tell! Every word of Pan Charnyetski deserves to be repeated a hundred
times. He is an uncommon man, and I said so long ago."

Zagloba looked at the marshal, half closing his one eye, and muttered:
"You have swallowed the hook; I'll land you this minute."

"What do you say?" asked the marshal.

"I say that the army cheered your worthiness in such fashion that they
could not have cheered the king better; and in Pjevorsk, where we
fought all night with the Swedes, wherever a squadron sprang out the
men cried: 'Lyubomirski! Lyubomirski!' and that had a better effect
than 'Allah!' and 'Slay, kill!' There is a witness here too,--Pan
Skshetuski, no common soldier, and a man who has never told a lie in
his life."

The marshal looked involuntarily at Pan Yan, who blushed to his ears,
and muttered something through his nose. Meanwhile the officers of the
marshal began to praise the envoys aloud,--

"See, Pan Charnyetski has acted courteously, sending such polished
cavaliers; both are famous knights, and honey simply flows from the
mouth of one of them."

"I have always understood that Pan Charnyetski was a well-wisher of
mine, but now there is nothing that I would not do for him," cried the
marshal, whose eyes were veiled with a mist from delight.

At this Zagloba broke into enthusiasm: "Serene great mighty lord, who
would not render homage to you, who would not honor you, the model of
all civic virtues, who recall Aristides in justice, the Scipios in
bravery! I have read many books in my time, have seen much, have
meditated much, and my soul has been rent from pain; for what have I
seen in this Commonwealth? The Opalinskis, the Radzeyovskis, the
Radzivills, who by their personal pride, setting their own ambition
above all things, were ready at every moment to desert the country for
their own private gain. I thought further, this Commonwealth is lost
through the viciousness of its own sons. But who has comforted me, who
has consoled me in my suffering? Pan Charnyetski, for he said: 'The
Commonwealth has not perished, since Lyubomirski has risen up in it.
These others,' said he, 'think of themselves alone; he is only looking,
only seeking how to make an offering of his own interests on the common
altar. These are pushing themselves forward; he is pushing himself
back, for he wants to illustrate by his example. Now,' said he, 'he is
marching with a powerful conquering army, and I have heard,' said he,
'that he wishes to give me the command over it, in order to teach
others how they should sacrifice their ambition, though even just, for
the country. Go, then,' said he, 'to Pan Lyubomirski, declare to him
that I do not want the sacrifice, I do not desire it, since he is a
better leader than I am; since, moreover, not only as leader, but--God
grant our Kazimir a long life!--as king are we ready to choose him,
and--we will choose him!'"

Here Zagloba was somewhat frightened lest he had passed the measure,
and really after the exclamation, "We will choose him!" followed
silence; but before the magnate heaven opened; he grew somewhat pale at
first, then red, then pale again, and laboring heavily with his breast,
said, after the silence of a moment,--

"The Commonwealth is and will ever remain in control of its own will,
for on that ancient foundation do our liberties rest. But I am only a
servant of its servants, and God is my witness that I do not raise my
eyes to those heights at which a citizen should not gaze. As to command
over the army, Pan Charnyetski must accept it. I demand it especially
for this, to give an example to those who, having continually the
greatness of their family in mind, are unwilling to recognize any
authority whenever it is necessary to forget the greatness of their
family for the good of the country. Therefore, though perhaps I am not
such a bad leader, still I, Lyubomirski, enter willingly under the
command of Charnyetski, praying to God only to send us victory over the
enemy!"

"Roman! Father of the country!" exclaimed Zagloba, seizing the
marshal's hand and pressing it to his lips.

But at the same moment the old rogue turned his eye on Pan Yan, and
began to wink time after time.

Thundering shouts were heard from the officers. The throng in the
quarters increased with each moment.

"Wine!" cried the marshal.

And when they brought in goblets he raised at once a toast to the king,
then to Charnyetski, whom he called his leader, and finally to the
envoys. Zagloba did not remain behind with the toasts, and he so caught
the hearts of all that the marshal himself conducted them to the
threshold, and the knights to the gates of Yaroslav.

At last Pan Yan and Zagloba were alone; then Zagloba stopped the road
in front of Pan Yan, reined in his horse, and putting his hands on his
hips, said,--

"Well, Yan, what do you think?"

"God knows," answered Pan Yan, "that if I had not seen it with my own
eyes and heard it with my own ears, I would not believe, even if an
angel had told me."

"Ha! do you know? I will swear to you that Charnyetski himself at the
most asked and begged Lyubomirski to go in company with him. And do you
know what he would have done? Lyubomirski would have gone alone; for if
Charnyetski has adjured in the letter by the love of country, or if he
mentioned private interests, and I am sure that he has, the marshal
would have been offended at once, and would have said: 'Does he want to
be my preceptor, and teach me how to serve the country?' I know those
men! Happily old Zagloba took the matter in hand, and hardly had he
opened his mouth when Lyubomirski not only wanted to go with
Charnyetski, but to go under his command. Charnyetski is killing
himself with anxiety, but I will comfort him. Well, Yan, does Zagloba
know how to manage the magnates?"

"I tell you that I am not able to let the breath go from my lips from
astonishment."

"I know them! Show one of them a crown and a corner of the ermine robe,
and you may rub him against the grain like a hound pup, and besides, he
will bend up to you and present his back himself. No cat will so lick
his chops, even if you hold before him a dinner of pure cheese. The
eyes of the most honest of them will be bursting out from desire; and
if a scoundrel happens, such as the voevoda of Vilna, he is ready to
betray the country. Oh, the vanity of man! Lord Jesus! if Thou hadst
given me as many thousands of ducats as Thou hast created candidates
for this crown, I should be a candidate myself. For if any of them
imagines that I hold myself inferior to him, then may his stomach burst
from his own pride. Zagloba is as good as Lyubomirski; in fortune alone
is the difference. This is true, Yan. Do you think that I really kissed
him on the hand? I kissed my own thumb, and shoved his hand up to my
nose. Certain it is that since he is alive no one has so fooled him. I
have spread him like butter on toast for Charnyetski. God grant our
king as long a life as possible; but in case of election, I would
rather give a vote to myself than to Lyubomirski. Roh Kovalski would
give me another, and Pan Michael would strike down my opponents. As God
lives! I would make you grand hetman of the kingdom straightway, and
Pan Michael, after Sapyeha, grand hetman of Lithuania,--but Jendzian,
treasurer. He would punish the Jews with taxes! But enough; the main
thing is that I have caught Lyubomirski on a hook and put the line in
Charnyetski's hand. For whomsoever the flour, it will be ground on the
Swedes; and whose is the merit? What do you think? Should the
chroniclers inscribe it to some one else? But I have no luck. It will
be well even if Charnyetski does not break out on the old man for not
having given the letter. Such is human gratitude. This is not my first,
not my first--others are sitting in starostaships, and are grown around
with fat, like badgers; but do you, old man, shake your poor stomach on
a horse as before."

Here Zagloba waved his hand. "Human gratitude may go to the hangman!
And whether in this or that position you must die, still it is pleasant
to serve the country. The best reward is good company. As soon as a man
is on horseback, then, with such comrades as you and Michael, he is
ready to ride to the end of the world,--such is our Polish nature. If a
German, a Frenchman, an Englishman, or a dark Spaniard is on horseback,
he is ready at once to gallop into your eyes; but a Pole, having inborn
patience, will endure much, and will permit even a Swedish fellow to
pluck him; but when the limit is passed and the Pole whacks him in the
snout, such a Swede will cover himself three times with his legs. For
there is metal yet in the Poles, and while the metal lasts the
Commonwealth will last. Beat that into yourself, Yan."

And so spoke Zagloba for a long time, for he was very glad; and
whenever he was very glad he was talkative beyond usual measure, and
full of wise sentences.



                             CHAPTER XXXII.


Charnyetski, in truth, did not even dare to think that the marshal of
the kingdom would put himself under his command. He wished merely joint
action, and he feared that even that would not be attained because of
the great ambition of Lyubomirski; for the proud magnate had mentioned
more than once to his officers that he wished to attack the Swedes
independently, for thus he could effect something; but if he and
Charnyetski won a victory together, the whole glory would flow to
Charnyetski.

Such was the case, in fact. Charnyetski understood the marshal's
reasons, and was troubled. He was reading now, for the tenth time, the
copy of the letter which he had sent from Pjevorsk, wishing to see if
he had written anything to offend so irritable a man as Lyubomirski.

He regretted certain phrases; finally he began to regret, on the whole,
that he had sent the letter. Therefore he was sitting gloomy in his
quarters, and every little while he approached the window and looked
out on the road to see if the envoys were not returning. The officers
saw him through the window, and divined what was passing in his mind,
for evident trouble was on his forehead.

"But look," said Polyanovski to Pan Michael, "there will be nothing
pleasant, for the castellan's face has become spotted, and that is a
bad sign."

Charnyetski's face bore numerous traces of small-pox, and in moments of
great emotion or disquiet it was covered with white and dark spots. As
he had sharp features, a very high forehead and cloudy, Jupiter brows,
a bent nose, and a glance cutting straight through, when in addition
those spots appeared, he became terrible. The Cossacks in their time
called him the spotted dog; but in truth, he was more like a spotted
eagle, and when he led men to the attack and his burka spread out like
great wings, the likeness struck both his own men and the enemy.

He roused fear in these and those. During the Cossack wars leaders of
powerful bands lost their heads when forced to act against Charnyetski.
Hmelnitski himself feared him, but especially the counsels which he
gave the king. They brought upon the Cossacks the terrible defeat of
Berestechko. But his fame increased chiefly after Berestechko, when,
together with the Tartars, he passed over the steppes like a flame,
crushed the uprisen crowds, took towns and trenches by storm, rushing
with the speed of a whirlwind from one end of the Ukraine to the other.

With this same raging endurance was he plucking the Swedes now.
"Charnyetski does not knock out my men, he steals them away," said Karl
Gustav. But Charnyetski was tired of stealing away; he thought that the
time had come to strike. But he lacked artillery and infantry
altogether, without which nothing decisive could be done, nothing
important effected; hence his eagerness for a junction with
Lyubomirski, who had a small number of cannon, it is true, but brought
with him infantry composed of mountaineers. These, though not over-much
trained as yet, had still been under fire more than once, and might,
for want of better, be used against the incomparable infantry legions
of Karl Gustav.

Charnyetski, therefore, was as if in a fever. Not being able to endure
in the house, he went outside, and seeing Volodyovski and Polyanovski,
he asked,--

"Are the envoys not in sight?"

"It is clear that they are glad to see them," answered Volodyovski.

"They are glad to see them, but not glad to read my letter, or the
marshal would have sent his answer."

"Pan Castellan," said Polyanovski, whom Charnyetski trusted greatly,
"why be careworn? If the marshal comes, well; if not, we will attack as
of old. As it is, blood is flowing from the Swedish pot; and we know
that when a pot once begins to leak, everything will run out of it."

"There is a leak in the Commonwealth too," said Charnyetski. "If the
Swedes escape this time, they will be reinforced, succor will come to
them from Prussia, our chance will be lost." Then he struck his side
with his hand in sign of impatience. Just then was heard the tread of
horses and the bass voice of Zagloba singing,--


           "Kaska to the bakehouse went her way,
            And Stah said to her, 'Take me in, let me in,
                                          My love.
            For the snow is falling, and the wind is blowing;
            Where shall I, poor fellow, put my head
                                          Till morning?'"


"It is a good sign! They are returning joyously," cried Polyanovski.

That moment the envoys, seeing Charnyetski, sprang from their saddles,
gave their horses to an attendant, and went quickly to the entrance.
Zagloba threw his cap suddenly into the air, and imitating the voice of
the marshal so excellently that whoever was not looking on might be
deceived, cried,--

"Vivat Pan Charnyetski, our leader!"

The castellan frowned, and asked quickly: "Is there a letter for me?"

"There is not," answered Zagloba; "there is something better. The
marshal with his army passes voluntarily under command of your
worthiness."

Charnyetski pierced him with a look, then turned to Pan Yan, as if
wishing to say: "Speak you, for this one has been drinking!"

Zagloba was in fact a little drunk; but Skshetuski confirmed his words,
hence astonishment was reflected on the face of the castellan.

"Come with me," said he to the two. "I beg you also," said he to
Polyanovski and Pan Michael.

All entered his room. They had not sat down yet when Charnyetski asked:
"What did he say to my letter?"

"He said nothing," answered Zagloba, "and why he did not will appear at
the end of my story; but now _incipiam_ (I will begin)."

Here he told all as it had happened,--how he had brought the marshal to
such a favorable decision. Charnyetski looked at him with growing
astonishment, Polyanovski seized his own head, Pan Michael's mustaches
were quivering.

"I have not known you hitherto, as God is dear to me!" cried
Charnyetski, at last. "I cannot believe my own ears."

"They have long since called me Ulysses," said Zagloba, modestly.

"Where is my letter?"

"Here it is."

"I must forgive you for not delivering it. He is a finished rogue! A
vice-chancellor might learn from him how to make treaties. As God
lives, if I were king, I would send you to Tsargrad."

"If he were there, a hundred thousand Turks would be here now!" cried
Pan Michael.

To which Zagloba said: "Not one, but two hundred thousand, as true as I
live."

"And did the marshal hesitate at nothing?" asked Charnyetski.

"He? He swallowed all that I put to his lips, just as a fat gander
gulps pellets; his eyes were covered with mist. I thought that from
delight he would burst, as a Swedish bomb bursts. With flattery that
man might be taken to hell."

"If it can only be ground out on the Swedes, if it can only be ground
out, and I have hope that it will be," said Charnyetski, delighted.
"You are a man adroit as a fox; but do not make too much sport of the
marshal, for another would not have done what he has to-day. Much
depends on him. We shall march to Sandomir itself over the estates of
the Lyubomirskis, and the marshal can raise with one word the whole
region, command peasants to injure crossings, burn bridges, hide
provisions in the forests. You have rendered a service which I shall
not forget till death; but I must thank the marshal, for as I believe
he has not done this from mere vanity."

Then he clapped his hands and cried: "A horse for me at once! Let us
forge the iron while it is hot!" Then he turned to the colonels: "Come,
all of you gentlemen, with me, so that the suite may be the most
imposing."

"And must I go too?" asked Zagloba.

"You have built the bridge between me and the marshal, it is proper
that you be the first to pass over. Besides, I think that they will see
you gladly. Come, come, lord brother, or I shall say that you wished to
leave a half-finished work."

"Hard to refuse. I must draw my belt tighter, however, lest I shake
into nothing. Not much strength is left me, unless I fortify it with
something."

"But with what?"

"Much has been told me of the castellan's mead which I have not tasted
as yet, and I should like to know if it is better than the marshal's."

"We will drink a stirrup cup now, but after our return we shall not
limit the cups in advance. You will find a couple of decanters of it in
your own quarters."

Then the castellan commanded to bring goblets; they drank enough for
brightness and good humor, mounted and rode away.

The marshal received Charnyetski with open arms, entertained him with
food and drink, did not let him go till morning; but in the morning the
two armies were joined, and marched farther under command of
Charnyetski.

Near Syenyava the Poles attacked the Swedes again with such effect that
they cut the rearguard to pieces and brought disorder into the main
army. Only at daybreak did the artillery disperse them. At Lejaysk,
Charnyetski attacked with still greater vigor. Considerable detachments
of the Swedes were mired in soft places, caused by rains and
inundations, and those fell into the hands of the Poles. The roads
became of the worst for the Swedes. Exhausted, hungry, and tortured by
desire of sleep, the regiments barely marched. More and more soldiers
stopped on the way. Some were found so terribly reduced that they no
longer wished to eat or drink, they only begged for death. Others lay
down and died on hillocks; some lost presence of mind, and looked with
the greatest indifference on the approaching pursuers. Foreigners, who
were counted frequently in the ranks of the Swedes, began to disappear
from the camp and go over to Charnyetski. Only the unbroken spirit of
Karl Gustav held the remnant of its dying strength in the whole army.

For not only did an enemy follow the army; various "parties" under
unknown leaders and bands of peasants crossed its road continually.
Those bodies, unformed and not very numerous, could not, it is true,
strike it with offensive warfare, but they wearied it mortally. And
wishing to instil into the Swedes the conviction that Tartars had
already come with assistance, all the Polish troops gave forth the
Tartar shout; therefore "Allah! Allah!" was heard night and day without
a moment's cessation. The Swedish soldiers could not draw breath, could
not put aside their armor for an instant. More than once a few men
alarmed the whole camp. Horses fell by tens, and were eaten
immediately; for the transport of provisions had become impossible.
From time to time the Polish horsemen found Swedish corpses terribly
disfigured; here they recognized at once the hands of peasants. The
greater part of the villages in the triangle between the San and the
Vistula belonged to the marshal and his relatives; therefore all the
peasants in those parts rose up as one man, for the marshal, unsparing
of his own fortune, had announced that whoever took up arms would be
freed from subjection. Scarcely had this news gone the round of the
region when the peasants put their scythes on staffs and began to bring
Swedish heads into camp: they brought them in every day till
Lyubomirski was forced to prohibit that custom as unchristian. Then
they brought in gloves and boots. The Swedes, driven to desperation,
flayed those who fell into their hands; and the war became more and
more dreadful. Some of the Polish troops adhered yet to the Swedes, but
they adhered only through fear. On the road to Lejaysk many of them
deserted; those who remained made such tumults in the camp daily that
Karl Gustav gave orders to shoot a number of officers. This was the
signal for a general withdrawal, which was effected sabre in hand. Few,
if any, Poles remained; but Charnyetski, gaining new strength, attacked
with still greater vigor.

The marshal gave most effectual assistance. During this period, which
by the way was short, the nobler sides of Lyubomirski's nature gained,
perhaps, the upper hand over his pride and self-love; therefore he
omitted no toil, he spared neither his health nor his person, he led
squadrons frequently, gave the enemy no rest; and as he was a good
soldier he rendered good services. These, added to his later ones,
would have secured him a glorious memory in the nation, were it not for
that shameless rebellion which toward the end of his career he raised
in order to hinder the reform of the Commonwealth.

But at this time he did everything to win glory, and he covered himself
with it as with a robe. Pan Vitovski, the castellan of Sandomir, an old
and experienced soldier, vied with him. Vitovski wished to equal
Charnyetski himself; but he could not, for God had denied him
greatness.

All three crushed the Swedes more and more, and with such effect that
the infantry and cavalry regiments, to whom it came to form the
rearguard on the retreat, marched with so much fear that a panic arose
among them from the slightest cause. Then Karl Gustav decided to march
always with the rearguard, so as to give courage by his presence.

But in the very beginning he almost paid for this position with
his life. It happened that having with him a detachment of the
life-guards,--the largest of all the regiments, for the soldiers in it
were selected from the whole Scandinavian people,--the king stopped for
refreshment at the village of Rudnik. When he had dined with the parish
priest he decided to sleep a little, since he had not closed his eyes
the night preceding. The life-guards surrounded the house, to watch
over the safety of the king. Meanwhile the priest's horse-boy stole
away from the village, and coming up to a mare in the field, sprang
upon her colt and raced off to Charnyetski.

Charnyetski was ten miles distant at this time; but his vanguard,
composed of the regiment of Prince Dymitri Vishnyevetski, was marching
under Shandarovski, the lieutenant, about two miles behind the Swedes.
Shandarovski was just talking to Roh Kovalski, who had ridden up that
moment with orders from Charnyetski, when suddenly both saw the lad
flying toward them at all horse speed.

"What devil is that racing up so," asked Shandarovski, "and besides on
a colt?"

"Some village lad," said Kovalski.

Meanwhile the boy had ridden to the front of the rank, and only stopped
when the colt, frightened at horses and men, stood on his hind legs and
dug his hoofs into the earth. The youth sprang off, and holding the
colt by the mane, bowed to the knights.

"Well, what have you to say?" asked the lieutenant, approaching him.

"The Swedes are with us at the priest's house; they say that the king
himself is among them!" said the youth, with sparkling eyes.

"Many of them?"

"Not more than two hundred horses."

Shandarovski's eyes now flashed in their turn; but he was afraid of an
ambush, therefore he looked threateningly at the boy and asked,--

"Who sent you?"

"Who was to send me? I jumped myself on the colt, I came near falling,
and lost my cap. It is well that the Swedish carrion did not see me!"

Truth was beating out of the sunburned face of the youth; he had
evidently a great animosity against the Swedes,--he was panting, his
cheeks were burning, he stood before the officers holding the mane of
the colt with one hand, his hair disordered, the shirt open on his
bosom.

"Where is the rest of the Swedish army?" asked the lieutenant.

"At daybreak so many passed that we could not count them; those went
farther, only cavalry remained. But there is one sleeping at the
priest's, and they say that he is the king."

"Boy," answered Shandarovski, "if you are lying, your head will fall;
but if you speak the truth, ask what you please."

"As true as I live! I want nothing unless the great mighty lord officer
would command to give me a sabre."

"Give him some blade," cried Shandarovski to his attendants, completely
convinced now.

The other officers fell to inquiring of the boy where the house was,
where the village, what the Swedes were doing.

"The dogs! they are watching. If you go straight they will see you; but
I will take you behind the alder grove."

Orders were given at once, and the squadron moved on, first at a trot
and then at a gallop. The youth rode before the first rank bareback on
his colt without a bridle. He urged the colt with his heels, and every
little while looked with sparkling eyes on the naked sabre.

When the village was in sight, he turned out of the willows and led by
a somewhat muddy road to the alder grove, in which it was still
muddier; therefore they slackened the speed of the horses.

"Watch!" said the boy; "they are about ten rods on the right from the
end of the alder grove."

They advanced now very slowly, for the road was difficult and heavy;
the cavalry horses sank frequently to their knees. At last the alder
grove began to grow thinner, and they came to the edge of the open
space.

Not more than three hundred yards distant, they saw a broad square
rising somewhat, and in it the priest's house surrounded by poplars,
among which were to be seen the tops of straw beehives. On the square
were two hundred horsemen in rimmed helmets and breastplates.

The great horsemen sat on enormous lean horses, and were in
readiness,--some with rapiers at their shoulders, others with muskets
on their thighs; but they were looking in another direction toward the
main road, from which alone they expected the enemy. A splendid blue
standard with a golden lion was waving above their heads.

Farther on, around the house stood guards by twos. One was turned
toward the alder grove; but because the sun shone brightly and struck
his eyes, and in the alders, which were already covered with thick
leaves, it was almost dark, he could not see the Polish horsemen.

In Shandarovski, a fiery horseman, the blood began to boil like water
in a pot; but he restrained himself and waited till the ranks should be
in order. Meanwhile Roh Kovalski put his heavy hand on the shoulder of
the youth,--

"Listen, horsefly!" said he; "have you seen the king?"

"I saw him, great mighty lord!" whispered the lad.

"How did he look? How can he be known?"

"He is terribly black in the face, and wears red ribbons at his side."

"Did you see his horse?"

"The horse is black, with a white face."

"Look out, and show him to me."

"I will. But shall we go quickly?"

"Shut your mouth!"

Here they were silent; and Roh began to pray to the Most Holy Lady to
permit him to meet Karl, and to direct his hand at the meeting.

The silence continued still a moment, then the horse under Shandarovski
himself snorted. At that the horseman on guard looked, quivered as if
something had been thrown at his saddle, and fired his pistol.

"Allah! Allah! Kill, slay! Uha-u, slay!" was heard in the alder grove;
and the squadron, coming out of the shadow like lightning, rushed at
the Swedes.

They struck into the smoke before all could turn front to them, and a
terrible hewing began; only sabres and rapiers were used, for no man
had time to fire. In the twinkle of an eye the Poles pushed the Swedes
to the fence, which fell with a rattle under the pressure of the
horses' rumps, and the Poles began to slash them so madly that they
were crowded and confused. Twice they tried to close, and twice torn
asunder they formed two separate bodies which in a twinkle divided into
smaller groups; at last they were scattered as peas thrown by a peasant
through the air with a shovel.

All at once were heard despairing voices: "The king, the king! Save the
king!"

But Karl Gustav, at the first moment of the encounter, with pistols in
hand and a sword in his teeth, rushed out. The trooper who held the
horse at the door gave him the beast that moment; the king sprang on,
and turning the corner, rushed between the poplars and the beehives to
escape by the rear from the circle of battle.

Reaching the fence he spurred his horse, sprang over, and fell into the
group of his men who were defending themselves against the right wing
of the Poles, who had just surrounded the house and were fighting with
the Swedes behind the garden.

"To the road!" cried Karl Gustav. And overturning with the hilt of his
sword the Polish horseman who was raising his sabre above him, with one
spring he came out of the whirl of the fight; the Swedes broke the
Polish rank and sprang after him with all their force, as a herd of
deer hunted by dogs rush whither they are led by their leader.

The Polish horsemen turned their horses after them, and the chase
began. Both came out on the highroad from Rudnik to Boyanovka. They
were seen from the front yard where the main battle was raging, and
just then it was that the voices were heard crying,--

"The king, the king! Save the king!"

But the Swedes in the front yard were so pressed by Shandarovski that
they could not think even of saving themselves; the king raced on then
with a party of not more than twelve men, while after him were chasing
nearly thirty, and at the head of them all Roh Kovalski.

The lad who was to point out the king was involved somewhere in the
general battle, but Roh himself recognized Karl Gustav by the knot of
red ribbons. Then he thought that his opportunity had come; he bent in
the saddle, pressed his horse with the spurs, and rushed on like a
whirlwind.

The pursued, straining the last strength from their horses, stretched
along over the broad road. But the swifter and lighter Polish horses
began soon to gain on them. Roh came up very quickly with the hindmost
Swede; he rose in his stirrups for a better blow, and cut terribly;
with one awful stroke he took off the arm and the shoulder, and rushed
on like the wind, fastening his eyes again on the king.

The next horseman was black before his eyes; he hurled him down. He
split the head and the helmet of the third, and tore farther, having
the king, and the king only, in his eye. Now the horses of the Swedes
began to pant and fall; a crowd of Polish horsemen overtook them and
cut down the riders in a twinkle.

Roh had already passed horses and men, so as not to lose time; the
distance between him and Karl Gustav began to decrease. There were only
two men between him and the king.

Now an arrow, sent from a bow by some one of the Poles, sang near the
ear of Pan Roh, and sank in the loins of the rider rushing before him.
The man trembled to the right and the left; at last he bent backward,
bellowed with an unearthly voice, and fell from the saddle.

Between Roh and the king there was now only one man. But that one,
wishing evidently to save the king, instead of helping turned his
horse. Kovalski came up, and a cannonball does not sweep a man from the
saddle as he hurled him to the ground; then, giving a fearful shout, he
rushed forward like a furious stag.

The king might perhaps have met him, and would have perished
inevitably; but others were flying on behind Roh, and arrows began to
whistle; any moment one of them might wound his horse. The king,
therefore, pressed his heels more closely, bent his head to the mane,
and shot through the space in front of him like a sparrow pursued by a
hawk.

But Roh began not only to prick his own horse with the spurs, but to
beat him with the side of the sabre; and so they sped on one after the
other. Trees, stones, willows, flashed before their eyes; the wind
whistled in their ears. The king's hat fell from his head; at last he
threw down his purse, thinking that the pitiless rider might be tempted
by it and leave the pursuit; but Kovalski did not look at the purse,
and rolled his horse on with more and more power till the beast was
groaning from effort.

Roh had evidently forgotten himself altogether; for racing onward he
began to shout in a voice in which besides threats there was also a
prayer,--

"Stop, for God's mercy!"

Then the king's horse stumbled so violently that if the king had not
held the bridle with all his power the beast would have fallen. Roh
bellowed like an aurochs; the distance dividing him from Karl Gustav
had decreased notably.

After a while the steed stumbled a second time, and again before the
king brought him to his feet Roh had approached a number of yards.

Then he straightened himself in the saddle as if for a blow. He was
terrible; his eyes were bursting out, his teeth were gleaming from
under his reddish mustaches. One more stumble of the horse, another
moment, and the fate of the Commonwealth, of all Sweden, of the entire
war would have been decided. But the king's horse began to run again;
and the king, turning, showed the barrels of two pistols, and twice did
he fire.

One of the bullets shattered the knee of Kovalski's horse; he reared,
then fell on his forefeet, and dug the earth with his nose.

The king might have rushed that moment on his pursuer and thrust him
through with his rapier; but at the distance of two hundred yards other
Polish horsemen were flying forward; so he bent down again in his
saddle, and shot on like an arrow propelled from the bow of a Tartar.

Kovalski freed himself from his horse. He looked for a while
unconsciously at the fleeing man, then staggered like one drunk, sat on
the road, and began to roar like a bear.

But the king was each instant farther, farther, farther! He began to
diminish, to melt, and then vanished in the dark belt of pine scrub.

Meanwhile, with shouting and roaring, came on Kovalski's companions.
There were fifteen of them whose horses held out. One brought the
king's purse, another his hat, on which black ostrich feathers were
fastened with diamonds. These two began to cry out,--

"These are yours, comrade! they belong to you of right."

Others asked: "Do you know whom you were chasing? That was Karl
himself."

"As God is true! In his life he has never fled before any man as before
you. You have covered yourself with immense glory!"

"And how many men did you put down before you came up with the king?"

"You lacked only little of freeing the Commonwealth in one flash, with
your sabre."

"Take the purse!"

"Take the hat!"

"The horse was good, but you can buy ten such with these treasures."

Roh gazed at his comrades with dazed eyes; at last he sprang up and
shouted,--

"I am Kovalski, and this is Pani Kovalski! Go to all the devils!"

"His mind is disturbed!" cried they.

"Give me a horse! I'll catch him yet," shouted Roh.

But they took him by the arms, and though he struggled they brought him
back to Rudnik, pacifying and comforting him along the road.

"You gave him Peter!" cried they. "See what has come to this victor,
this conqueror of so many towns and villages!"

"Ha, ha! He has found out Polish cavaliers!"

"He will grow tired of the Commonwealth. He has come to close
quarters."

"Vivat, Roh Kovalski!"

"Vivat, vivat, the most manful cavalier, the pride of the whole army!"

And they fell to drinking out of their canteens. They gave Roh one, and
he emptied the bottle at a draught.

During the pursuit of the king along the Boyanovka road the Swedes
defended themselves in front of the priest's house with bravery worthy
of their renowned regiment. Though attacked suddenly and scattered very
quickly, they rallied as quickly around their blue standard, for the
reason that they were surrounded by a dense crowd. Not one of them
asked for quarter, but standing horse to horse, shoulder to shoulder,
they thrust so fiercely with their rapiers that for a time victory
seemed to incline to their side. It was necessary either to break them
again, which became impossible since a line of Polish horsemen
surrounded them completely, or to cut them to pieces. Shandarovski
recognized the second plan as the better; therefore encircling the
Swedes with a still closer ring, he sprang on them like a wounded
falcon on a flock of long-billed cranes. A savage slaughter and press
began. Sabres rattled against rapiers, rapiers were broken on the hilts
of sabres. Sometimes a horse rose, like a dolphin above the sea waves,
and in a moment fell in the whirl of men and horses. Shouts ceased;
there were heard only the cry of horses, the sharp clash of steel,
gasping from the panting breasts of the knights; uncommon fury had
mastered the hearts of Poles and Swedes. They fought with fragments of
sabres and rapiers; they closed with one another like hawks, caught one
another by the hair, by mustaches, gnawed with their teeth; those who
had fallen from their horses and were yet able to stand stabbed with
their knives horses in the belly and men in the legs; in the smoke, in
the steam from horses, in the terrible frenzy of battle, men were
turned into giants and gave the blows of giants; arms became clubs,
sabres lightning. Steel helmets were broken at a blow, like earthen
pots; heads were cleft; arms holding sabres were swept away. They hewed
without rest; they hewed without mercy, without pity. From under the
whirl of men and horses blood began to flow along the yard in streams.

The great blue standard was waving yet above the Swedish circle, but
the circle diminished with each moment. As when harvesters attack grain
from two sides, and the sickles begin to glitter, the standing grain
disappears and the men see one another more nearly each moment, thus
did the Polish ring become ever narrower, and those fighting on one
side could see the bent sabres fighting on the opposite side.

Pan Shandarovski was wild as a hurricane, and ate into the Swedes as a
famished wolf buries his jaws in the flesh of a freshly killed horse;
but one horseman surpassed him in fury, and that was the youth who had
first let them know that the Swedes were in Rudnik, and now had sprung
in with the whole squadron on the enemy. The priest's colt, three years
old, which till that time had walked quietly over the land, shut in by
the horses, could not break out of the throng; you would have said he
had gone mad, like his master. With ears thrown back, with eyes
bursting out of his bead, with erect mane, he pushed forward, bit, and
kicked; but the lad struck with his sabre as with a flail; he struck at
random, to the right, to the left, straight ahead; his yellow forelock
was covered with blood, the points of rapiers had been thrust into his
shoulders and legs, his face was cut; but these wounds only roused him.
He fought with madness, like a man who has despaired of life and wishes
only to avenge his own death.

But now the Swedish body had decreased like a pile of snow on which men
are throwing hot water from every side. At last around the king's
standard less than twenty men remained. The Polish swarm had covered
them completely, and they were dying gloomily, with set teeth; no hand
was stretched forth, no man asked for mercy. Now in the crowd were
heard voices: "Seize the standard! The standard!"

When he heard this, the lad pricked his colt and rushed on like a
flame. When every Swede had two or three Polish horsemen against him,
the lad slashed the standard-bearer in the mouth; he opened his arms,
and fell on the horse's mane. The blue standard fell with him.

The nearest Swede, shouting terribly, grasped after the staff at once;
but the boy caught the standard itself, and pulling, tore it off in a
twinkle, wound it in a bundle, and holding it with both hands to his
breast, began to shout to the sky,--

"I have it, I won't give it! I have it, I won't give it!"

The last remaining Swedes rushed at him with rage; one thrust the flag
through, and cut his shoulder.

Then a number of men stretched their bloody hands to the lad, and
cried: "Give the standard, give the standard!"

Shandarovski sprang to his aid, and commanded: "Let him alone! He took
it before my eyes; let him give it to Charnyetski himself."

"Charnyetski is coming!" cried a number of voices.

In fact, from a distance trumpets were heard; and on the road from the
side of the field appeared a whole squadron, galloping to the priest's
house. It was the Lauda squadron; and at the head of it rode
Charnyetski himself. When the men had ridden up, seeing that all was
over, they halted; and Shandarovski's soldiers began to hurry toward
them.

Shandarovski himself hastened with a report to the castellan; but he
was so exhausted that at first he could not catch breath, for he
trembled as in a fever, and the voice broke in his throat every moment.

"The king himself was here: I don't know--whether he has escaped!"

"He has, he has!" answered those who had seen the pursuit.

"The standard is taken! There are many killed!"

Charnyetski, without saying a word, hurried to the scene of the
struggle, where a cruel and woful sight presented itself. More than two
hundred bodies of Swedes and Poles were lying like a pavement, one at
the side of the other, and often one above the other. Sometimes one
held another by the hair; some had died biting or tearing one another
with their nails; and some again were closed as in a brotherly embrace,
or they lay one with his head on the breast of his enemy. Many faces
were so trampled that there remained nothing human in them; those not
crushed by hoofs had their eyes open full of terror, the fierceness of
battle, and rage. Blood spattered on the softened earth under the feet
of Charnyetski's horse, which were soon red above the fetlocks; the
odor of blood and the sweat of horses irritated the nostrils and
stopped breath in the breast.

The castellan looked on those corpses of men as the agriculturist looks
on bound sheaves of wheat which are to fill out his stacks.
Satisfaction was reflected on his face. He rode around the priest's
house in silence, looked at the bodies lying on the other side, beyond
the garden; then returned slowly to the chief scene.

"I see genuine work here, and I am satisfied with you, gentlemen."

They hurled up their caps with bloody hands.

"Vivat Charnyetski!"

"God grant another speedy meeting. Vivat! vivat!"

And the castellan said: "You will go to the rear for rest. But who took
the standard?"

"Give the lad this way!" cried Shandarovski; "where is he?"

The soldiers sprang for him, and found him sitting at the wall of the
stable near the colt, which had fallen from wounds and was just
breathing out his last breath. At the first glance it did not seem that
the lad would last long, but he held the standard with both hands to
his breast.

They bore him away at once, and brought him before Charnyetski. The
youth stood there barefoot, with disordered hair, with naked breast,
his shirt and his jacket in shreds, smeared with Swedish blood and his
own, tottering, bewildered, but with unquenched fire in his eyes.

Charnyetski was astounded at sight of him. "How is this?" asked he.
"Did he take the royal standard?"

"With his own hand and his own blood," answered Shandarovski. "He was
the first also to let us know of the Swedes; and afterward, in the
thickest of the whirl, he did so much that he surpassed me and us all."

"It is truth, genuine truth, as if some one had written it!" cried
others.

"What is thy name?" asked Charnyetski of the lad.

"Mihalko."

"Whose art thou?"

"The priest's."

"Thou hast been the priest's, but thou wilt be thy own!" said
Charnyetski.

Mihalko heard not the last words, for from his wounds and the loss of
blood he tottered and fell, striking the castellan's stirrup with his
head.

"Take him and give him every care. I am the guaranty that at the first
Diet he will be the equal of you all in rank, as to-day he is the equal
in spirit."

"He deserves it! he deserves it!" cried the nobles.

Then they took Mihalko on a stretcher, and bore him to the priest's
house.

Charnyetski listened to the further report, which not Shandarovski
gave, but those who had seen the pursuit of the king by Roh Kovalski.
He was wonderfully delighted with that narrative, so that he caught his
head, and struck his thighs with his hands; for he understood that
after such an adventure the spirit must fall considerably in Karl
Gustav.

Zagloba was not less delighted, and putting his hands on his hips, said
proudly to the knights,--

"Ha! he is a robber, isn't he? If he had reached Karl, the devil
himself could not have saved the king! He is my blood, as God is dear
to me, my blood!"

In course of time Zagloba believed that he was Roh Kovalski's uncle.

Charnyetski gave orders to find the young knight; but they could not
find him, for Roh, from shame and mortification, had crept into a barn,
and burying himself in the straw, had fallen asleep so soundly that he
came up with the squadron only two days later. But he still suffered
greatly, and dared not show himself before the eyes of his uncle. His
uncle, however, sought him out, and began to comfort him,--

"Be not troubled, Roh!" said he. "As it is, you have covered yourself
with great glory; I have myself heard the castellan praise you: 'To the
eye a fool,' said he, 'so that he looks as though he could not count
three, and I see that he is a fiery cavalier who has raised the
reputation of the whole army.'"

"The Lord Jesus has not blessed me," said Roh; "for I got drunk the day
before, and forgot my prayers."

"Don't try to penetrate the judgments of God, lest you add blasphemy to
other deeds. Whatever you can take on your shoulders take, but take
nothing on your mind; if you do, you will fail."

"Rut I was so near that the sweat from his horse was flying to me. I
should have cut him to the saddle! Uncle thinks that I have no reason
whatever!"

"Every creature," said Zagloba, "has its reason. You are a sprightly
lad, Roh, and you will give me comfort yet more than once. God grant
your sons to have the same reason in their fists that you have!"

"I do not want that! I am Kovalski, and this is Pani Kovalski."



                            CHAPTER XXXIII.


After the affair at Rudnik the king advanced farther toward the point
of the wedge between the San and the Vistula, and did not cease as
before to march with the rearguard; for he was not only a famous
leader, but a knight of unrivalled daring. Charnyetski, Vitovski, and
Lyubomirski followed, and urged him on as a wild beast is urged to a
trap. Detached parties made an uproar night and day around the Swedes.
The retreating troops had less and less provisions; they were more and
more wearied and drooping in courage, looking forward to certain
destruction.

At last the Swedes enclosed themselves in the very corner where the two
rivers meet, and rested. On one side the Vistula defended them, on the
other the San, both overflowed, as usual in springtime; the third side
of the triangle the king fortified with strong intrenchments, in which
cannons were mounted.

That was a position not to be taken, but it was possible to die there
from hunger. But even in that regard the Swedes gained better courage,
for they hoped that the commandants would send them provisions by water
from Cracow and other river fortresses. For instance, right there at
hand was Sandomir, in which Colonel Schinkler had collected
considerable supplies. He sent these in at once; therefore the Swedes
ate, drank, slept; and when they woke they sang Lutheran psalms,
praising God that he had saved them from such dire distress.

But Charnyetski was preparing new blows for them.

Sandomir in Swedish hands could always come to the aid of the main
army. Charnyetski planned, therefore, to take the town with the castle
at a blow, and cut off the Swedes.

"We will prepare a cruel spectacle for them," said he, at a council of
war. "They will look on from the opposite bank when we strike the town,
and they will not be able to give aid across the Vistula; and when we
have Sandomir we will not let provisions come from Wirtz in Cracow."

Lyubomirski, Vitovski, and others tried to dissuade Charnyetski from
that undertaking. "It would be well," said they, "to take such a
considerable town, and we might injure the Swedes greatly; but how are
we to take it? We have no infantry, siege guns we have not; it would be
hard for cavalry to attack walls."

"But do our peasants," asked Charnyetski, "fight badly as infantry? If
I had two thousand such as Mihalko, I would take not only Sandomir, but
Warsaw."

And without listening to further counsel he crossed the Vistula. Barely
had his summons gone through the neighborhood when a couple of thousand
men hurried to him, one with a scythe, another with a musket, the third
with carabine; and they marched against Sandomir.

They fell upon the place rather suddenly, and in the streets a fierce
conflict set in. The Swedes defended themselves furiously from the
windows and the roofs, but they could not withstand the onrush. They
were crushed like worms in the houses, and pushed entirely out of the
town. Schinkler took refuge, with the remnant of his forces, in the
castle; but the Poles followed him with the same impetuosity. A storm
against the gates and the walls began, Schinkler saw that he could not
hold out, even in the castle; so he collected what he could of men,
articles and supplies of provisions, and putting them on boats, crossed
to the king, who looked from the other bank on the defeat of his men
without being able to succor them.

The castle fell into the hands of the Poles; but the cunning Swede when
departing put under the walls in the cellars kegs of powder with
lighted matches.

When he appeared before the king he told him of this at once, so as to
rejoice his heart.

"The castle," said he, "will fly into the air with all the men.
Charnyetski may perish."

"If that is true, I want myself to see how the pious Poles will fly to
heaven," said the king; and he remained on the spot with all the
generals.

In spite of the commands of Charnyetski, who foresaw deceit, the
volunteers and the peasants ran around through the whole castle to seek
hidden Swedes and treasure. The trumpets sounded an alarm for every man
to take refuge in the town; but the searchers in the castle did not
hear the trumpets, or would not heed them.

All at once the ground trembled under their feet, an awful thunder and
a roar tore the air, a gigantic pillar of fire rose to the sky, hurling
upward earth, walls, roofs, the whole castle, and more than five
hundred bodies of those who had not been able to withdraw.

Karl Gustav held his sides from delight, and his favor-seeking
courtiers began at once to repeat his words: "The Poles are going to
heaven, to heaven!"

But that joy was premature; for none the less did Sandomir remain in
Polish hands, and could no longer furnish food for the main army
enclosed between the rivers.

Charnyetski disposed his camp opposite the Swedes, on the other side
of the Vistula, and guarded the passage.

Sapyeha, grand hetman of Lithuania and voevoda of Vilna, came from the
other side and took his position on the San.

The Swedes were invested completely; they were caught as it were in a
vise.

"The trap is closed!" said the soldiers to one another in the Polish
camps.

For every man, even the least acquainted with military art, understood
that inevitable destruction was hanging over the invaders, unless
reinforcements should come in time and rescue them from trouble.

The Swedes too understood this. Every morning officers and soldiers,
coming to the shore of the Vistula, looked with despair in their eyes
and their hearts at the legions of Charnyetski's terrible cavalry
standing black on the other side.

Then they went to the San; there again the troops of Sapyeha were
watching day and night, ready to receive them with sabre and musket.

To cross either the San or the Vistula while both armies stood near was
not to be thought of. The Swedes might return to Yaroslav by the same
road over which they come, but they knew that in that case not one of
them would ever see Sweden.

For the Swedes grievous days and still more grievous nights now began,
for these days and nights were uproarious and quarrelsome. Again
provisions were at an end.

Meanwhile Charnyetski, leaving command of the army to Lyubomirski and
taking the Lauda squadron as guard crossed the Vistula above the mouth
of the San, to visit Sapyeha and take counsel with him touching the
future of the war.

This time the mediation of Zagloba was not needed to make the two
leaders agree; for both loved the country more than each one himself,
both were ready to sacrifice to it private interests, self-love, and
ambition.

The Lithuanian hetman did not envy Charnyetski, nor did Charnyetski
envy the hetman, but each did homage to the other; so the meeting
between them was of such character that tears stood in the eyes of the
oldest soldiers.

"The Commonwealth is growing, the dear country is rejoicing, when such
sons of heroes take one another by the shoulders," said Zagloba to Pan
Michael and Pan Yan. "Charnyetski is a terrible soldier and a true
soul, but put Sapyeha to a wound and it will heal. Would there were
more such men! The skin would fly off the Swedes, could they see this
love of the greatest patriots. How did they conquer us, if not through
the rancor and envy of magnates? Have they overcome us with force? This
is how I understand! The soul jumps in a man's body at sight of such a
meeting. I will guarantee, too, that it will not be dry; for Sapyeha
loves a feast wonderfully, and with such a friend he will willingly let
himself out."

"God is merciful! the evil will pass," said Pan Yan.

"Be careful that you do not blaspheme," said Zagloba; "every evil must
pass, for should it last forever it would prove that the Devil governs
the world, and not the Lord Jesus, who has mercy inexhaustible."

Their further conversation was interrupted by the sight of Babinich,
whose lofty form they saw from a distance over the wave of other heads.

Pan Michael and Zagloba began to beckon to him, but he was so much
occupied in looking at Charnyetski that he did not notice them at
first.

"See," said Zagloba, "how thin the man has grown!"

"It must be that he has not done much against Boguslav," said
Volodyovski; "otherwise he would be more joyful."

"It is sure that he has not, for Boguslav is before Marienburg with
Steinbock, acting against the fortress."

"There is hope in God that he will do nothing."

"Even if he should take Marienburg," said Zagloba, "we will capture
Karl Gustav right away; we shall see if they will not give the fortress
for the king."

"See! Babinich is coming to us!" interrupted Pan Yan.

He had indeed seen them, and was pushing the crowd to both sides; he
motioned with his cap, smiling at them from a distance. They greeted
one another as good friends and acquaintances.

"What is to be heard? What have you done with the prince?" asked
Zagloba.

"Evil, evil! But there is no time to tell of it. We shall sit down to
table at once. You will remain here for the night; come to me after the
feast to pass the night among my Tartars. I have a comfortable cabin;
we will talk at the cups till morning."

"The moment a man says a wise thing it is not I who will oppose," said
Zagloba. "But tell us why you have grown so thin?"

"That hell-dweller overthrew me and my horse like an earthen pot,
so that from that time I am spitting fresh blood and cannot recover.
There is hope in the mercy of our Lord Christ that I shall let the
blood out of him yet. But let us go now, for Sapyeha and Charnyetski
are beginning to make declarations and to be ceremonious about
precedence,--a sign that the tables are ready. We wait for you here
with great pleasure, for you have shed Swedish pig-blood in plenty."

"Let others speak of what I have done," said Zagloba; "it does not
become me."

Meanwhile whole throngs moved on, and all went to the square between
the tents on which were placed tables. Sapyeha in honor of Charnyetski
entertained like a king. The table at which Charnyetski was seated was
covert with Swedish flags. Mead and wine flowed from vats, so that
toward the end both leaders became somewhat joyous. There was no lack
of gladsomeness, of jests, of toasts, of noise; though the weather was
marvellous, and the sun warm beyond wonder. Finally the cool of the
evening separated the feasters.

Then Kmita took his guests to the Tartars. They sat down in his tent on
trunks packed closely with every kind of booty, and began to speak of
Kmita's expedition.

"Boguslav is now before Marienburg," said Pan Andrei, "though some say
that he is at the elector's, with whom he is to march to the relief of
the king."

"So much the better; then we shall meet! You young fellows do not know
how to manage him; let us see what the old man will do. He has met with
various persons, but not yet with Zagloba. I say that we shall meet,
though Prince Yanush in his will advised him to keep far from Zagloba."

"The elector is a cunning man," said Pan Yan; "and if he sees that it
is going ill with Karl, he will drop all his promises and his oath."

"But I tell you that he will not," said Zagloba. "No one is so venomous
against us as the Prussian. When your servant who had to work under
your feet and brush your clothes becomes your master by change of
fortune, he will be sterner to you, the kinder you were to him."

"But why is that?" asked Pan Michael.

"His previous condition of service will remain in his mind, and he will
avenge himself on you for it, though you have been to him kindness
itself."

"What of that?" asked Pan Michael. "It often happens that a dog bites
his master in the hand. Better let Babinich tell about his expedition."

"We are listening," said Pan Yan.

Kmita, after he had been silent awhile, drew breath and began to tell
of the last campaign of Sapyeha against Boguslav, and the defeat of the
latter at Yanov; finally how Prince Boguslav had broken the Tartars,
overturned him with his horse, and escaped alive.

"But," interrupted Volodyovski, "you said that you would follow him
with your Tartars, even to the Baltic."

"And you told me also in your time," replied Kmita, "how Pan Yan here
present, when Bogun carried off his beloved maiden, forgot her and
revenge because the country was in need. A man becomes like those with
whom he keeps company; I have joined you, gentlemen, and I wish to
follow your example."

"May the Mother of God reward you, as she has Pan Yan!" said Zagloba.
"Still I would rather your maiden were in the wilderness than in
Boguslav's hands."

"That is nothing!" exclaimed Pan Michael; "you will find her!"

"I have to find not only her person, but her regard and love."

"One will come after the other," said Pan Michael, "even if you had to
take her person by force, as at that time--you remember?"

"I shall not do such a deed again."

Here Pan Andrei sighed deeply, and after a while he said, "Not only
have I not found her, but Boguslav has taken another from me."

"A pure Turk! as God is dear to me!" cried Zagloba.

And Pan Yan inquired: "What other?"

"Oh, it is a long story, a long story," said Kmita. "There was a maiden
in Zamost, wonderfully fair, who pleased Pan Zamoyski. He, fearing
Princess Vishnyevetski, his sister, did not dare to be over-bold before
her; he planned, therefore, to send the maiden away with me, as if to
Sapyeha, to find an inheritance in Lithuania, but in reality to take
her from me about two miles from Zamost, and put her in some wilderness
where no one could stand in his way. But I sounded his intention. You
want, thought I to myself, to make a pander of me; wait! I flogged his
men, and the lady in all maidenly honor I brought to Sapyeha. Well, I
say to you that the girl is as beautiful as a goldfinch, but honest. I
am now another man, and my comrades, the Lord light their souls! are
long ago dust in the earth."

"What sort of maiden was she?" asked Zagloba.

"From a respectable house, a lady-in-waiting on Princess Griselda. She
was once engaged to a Lithuanian, Podbipienta, whom you, gentlemen,
knew."

"Anusia Borzobogati!" shouted Volodyovski, springing from his place.

Zagloba jumped up too from a pile of felt "Pan Michael, restrain
yourself!"

But Volodyovski sprang like a cat toward Kmita. "Is it you, traitor,
who let Boguslav carry her off?"

"Be not unjust to me," said Kmita. "I took her safely to the hetman,
having as much care for her as for my own sister. Boguslav seized her,
not from me, but from another officer with whom Pan Sapyeha sent her to
his own family; his name was Glovbich or something, I do not remember
well."

"Where is he now?"

"He is no longer living, he was slain; so at least Sapyeha's officers
said. I was attacking Boguslav separately, with the Tartars; therefore
I know nothing accurately save what I have told you. But noticing your
changed face, I see that a similar thing has met us; the same man has
wronged us, and since that is the case let us join against him to
avenge the wrong and take vengeance in company. He is a great lord and
a great knight, and still I think it will be narrow for him in the
whole Commonwealth, if he has two such enemies."

"Here is my hand!" said Volodyovski. "Henceforth we are friends for
life and death. Whoever meets him first will pay him for both. God
grant me to meet him first, for that I will let his blood out is as
sure as that there is Amen in 'Our Father.'"

Here Pan Michael began to move his mustaches terribly and to feel of
his sabre. Zagloba was frightened, for he knew that with Pan Michael
there was no joking.

"I should not care to be Prince Boguslav now," said he, "even if some
one should add Livonia to my title. It is enough to have such a wildcat
as Kmita against one, but what will he do with Pan Michael? And that is
not all; I will conclude an alliance with you. My head, your sabres! I
do not know as there is a potentate in Christendom who could stand
against such an alliance. Besides, the Lord God will sooner or later
take away his luck, for it cannot be that for a traitor and a heretic
there is no punishment; as it is, Kmita has given it to him terribly."

"I do not deny that more than one confusion has met him from me," said
Pan Andrei. And giving orders to fill the goblets, he told how he had
freed Soroka from captivity. But he did not tell how he had cast
himself first at the feet of Radzivill, for at the very thought of that
his blood boiled.

Pan Michael was rejoiced while hearing the narrative, and said at the
end,--

"May God aid you, Yendrek! With such a daring man one could go to hell.
The only trouble is that we shall not always campaign together, for
service is service. They may send me to one end of the Commonwealth and
you to the other. It is not known which will meet him first."

Kmita was silent a moment.

"In justice I should reach him--if only I do not come out again with
confusion, for I am ashamed to acknowledge that I cannot meet that
hell-dweller hand to hand."

"Then I will teach you all my secrets," said Pan Michael.

"Or I!" said Zagloba.

"Pardon me, your grace, I prefer to learn from Michael," said Kmita.

"Though he is such a knight, still I and Pani Kovalski are not afraid
of him, if only I had a good sleep," put in Roh.

"Be quiet, Roh!" answered Zagloba; "may God not punish you through his
hand for boasting."

"Oh, tfu! nothing will happen to me from him."

Poor Kovalski was an unlucky prophet, but it was steaming terribly from
his forelock, and he was ready to challenge the whole world to single
combat. Others too drank heavily to one another, and to the destruction
of Boguslav and the Swedes.

"I have heard," said Kmita, "that as soon as we rub out the Swedes here
and take the king, we shall march straight to Warsaw. Then surely there
will be an end of the war. After that will come the elector's turn."

"Oh, that's it! that's it!" said Zagloba.

"I heard Sapyeha say that once, and he, as a great man, calculates
better than others; he said: 'There will be a truce with the Swedes;
with the Northerners there is one already, but with the elector we
should not make any conditions. Pan Charnyetski,' he says, 'will go
with Lyubomirski to Brandenburg, and I with the treasurer of Lithuania
to Electoral Prussia; and if after that we do not join Prussia to the
Commonwealth, it is because in our chancellery we have no such head as
Pan Zagloba, who in autograph letters threatened the elector.'"

"Did Sapyeha say that?" asked Zagloba, flushing from pleasure.

"All heard him. And I was terribly glad, for that same rod will flog
Boguslav; and if not earlier, we will surely reach him at that time."

"If we can finish with these Swedes first," said Zagloba. "Devil take
them! Let them give up Livland and a million, I will let them off
alive."'

"The Cossack caught the Tartar, and the Tartar is holding him by the
head!" said Pan Yan, laughing. "Karl is still in Poland; Cracow,
Warsaw, Poznan, and all the most noted towns are in his hands, and
father wants him to ransom himself. Hei, we shall have to work much at
him yet before we can think of the elector."

"And there is Steinbock's army, and the garrisons, and Wirtz," put in
Pan Stanislav.

"But why do we sit here with folded hands?" asked Roh Kovalski, on a
sudden, with staring eyes; "cannot we beat the Swedes?"

"You are foolish, Roh," said Zagloba.

"Uncle always says one thing; but as I am alive, I saw a boat at the
shore. We might go and carry off even the sentry. It is so dark that
you might strike a man on the snout and he wouldn't know who did it;
before they could see we should return and exhibit the courage of
cavaliers to both commanders. If you do not wish to go, I will go
myself."

"The dead calf moved his tail, wonder of wonders!" said Zagloba,
angrily.

But Kmita's nostrils began to quiver at once. "Not a bad idea! not a
bad idea!" said he.

"Good for camp-followers, but not for him who regards dignity. Have
respect for yourselves! You are colonels, but you wish to amuse
yourselves with wandering thieves!"

"True, it is not very becoming," added Volodyovski. "We would better go
to sleep."

All agreed with that idea; therefore they kneeled down to their prayers
and repeated them aloud; after that they stretched themselves on the
felt cloth, and were soon sleeping the sleep of the just.

But an hour later all sprang to their feet, for beyond the river the
roaring of guns was heard; while shouts and tumult rose in Sapyeha's
whole camp.

"Jesus! Mary!" exclaimed Zagloba. "The Swedes are coming!"

"What are you talking about?" asked Volodyovski, seizing his sabre.

"Roh, come here!" cried Zagloba, for in cases of surprise he was glad
to have his sister's son near him.

But Roh was not in the tent.

They ran out on the square. Crowds were already before the tents, and
all were making their way toward the river, for on the other side was
to be seen flashing of fire, and an increasing roar was heard.

"What has happened, what has happened?" was asked of the numerous
guards disposed along the bank.

But the guards had seen nothing. One of the soldiers said that he had
heard as it were the plash of a wave, but as fog was hanging over the
water he could see nothing; he did not wish therefore to raise the camp
for a mere sound.

When Zagloba heard this he caught himself by the head in desperation,--

"Roh has gone to the Swedes! He said that he wished to carry off a
sentry."

"For God's sake, that may be!" cried Kmita.

"They will shoot the lad, as God is in heaven!" continued Zagloba, in
despair. "Worthy gentlemen, is there no help? Lord God, that boy was of
the purest gold; there is not another such in the two armies! What shot
that idea into his stupid head? Oh, Mother of God, save him in
trouble!"

"Maybe he will return; the fog is dense. They will not see him."

"I will wait for him here even till morning. Mother of God, Mother of
God!"

Meanwhile shots on the opposite bank lessened, lights went out
gradually, and after an hour dull silence set in. Zagloba walked along
the bank of the river like a hen with ducklings, and tore out the
remnant of hair in his forelock; but he waited in vain, he despaired in
vain. The morning whitened the river, the sun rose, but Roh came not.



                             CHAPTER XXXIV.


Zagloba in unbroken despair betook himself to Charnyetski, with a
request that he would send to the Swedes to see what had happened to
Kovalski. Is he alive yet, is he groaning in captivity, or has he paid
with his life for his daring?

Charnyetski agreed to this willingly, for he loved Zagloba. Then
comforting him in his suffering, he said,--

"I think your sister's son must be alive, otherwise the water would
have brought him ashore."

"God grant that he is!" answered Zagloba; "still it would be hard for
the water to raise him, for not only had he a heavy hand, but his wit
was like lead, as is shown by his action."

"You speak justly," answered Charnyetski. "If he is alive I ought to
give orders to drag him with a horse over the square, for disregard of
discipline. He might alarm the Swedish army, but he has alarmed both
armies; besides, he was not free to touch the Swedes without command
and my order. Is this a general militia or what the devil, that every
man has a right to act on his own account?"

"He has offended, I agree; I will punish him myself, if only the Lord
will bring him back."

"But I forgive him in remembrance of the Rudnik affair. I have many
prisoners to exchange, and more distinguished officers than Kovalski.
Do you go to the Swedes and negotiate about exchange; I will give two
or three for him if need be, for I do not wish to make your heart
bleed. Come to me for a letter to the king, and go quickly."

Zagloba sprang with rejoicing to Kmita's tent, and told his comrades
what had happened. Pan Andrei and Volodyovski exclaimed at once that
they too would go with him, for both were curious to see the Swedes;
besides Kmita might be very useful, since he spoke German almost as
fluently as Polish.

Preparations did not delay them long. Charnyetski, without waiting for
the return of Zagloba, sent the letter by a messenger; then they
provided a piece of white cloth fixed to a pole, took a trumpeter, sat
in a boat, and moved on.

At first they went in silence, nothing save the plash of oars was to be
heard; at last Zagloba was somewhat alarmed and said,--

"Lot the trumpeter announce us immediately, for those scoundrels are
ready to fire in spite of the white flag."

"What do you say?" answered Volodyovski; "even barbarians respect
envoys, and this is a civilized people."

"Let the trumpeter sound, I say. The first soldier who happens along
will fire, make a hole in the boat, and we shall get into the water;
the water is cold, and I have do wish to get wet through their
courtesy."

"There, a sentry is visible!" said Kmita.

The trumpeter sounded. The boat shot forward quickly; on the other
shore a hurried movement began, and soon a mounted officer rode up,
wearing a yellow leather cap. When he had approached the edge of the
water he shaded his eyes with his hand and began to look against the
light. A few yards from the shore Kmita removed his cap in greeting;
the officer bowed to him with equal politeness.

"A letter from Pan Charnyetski to the Most Serene King of Sweden!"
cried Pan Andrei, showing the letter.

The guard standing on the shore presented arms. Pan Zagloba was
completely reassured; presently he fixed his countenance in dignity
befitting his position as an envoy, and said in Latin,--

"The past night a certain cavalier was seized on this shore; I have
come to ask for him."

"I cannot speak Latin," answered the officer.

"Ignoramus!" muttered Zagloba.

The officer turned then to Pan Andrei,--

"The king is in the farther end of the camp. Be pleased, gentlemen, to
stay here; I will go and announce you." And he turned his horse.

The envoys looked around. The camp was very spacious, for it embraced
the whole triangle formed by the San and the Vistula. At the summit of
the triangle lay Panyev, at the base Tarnobjeg on one side, and
Rozvadov on the other. Apparently it was impossible to take in the
whole extent at a glance; still, as far as the eye could reach, were to
be seen trenches, embankments, earthworks, and fascines at which were
cannons and men. In the very centre of the place, in Gojytsi, were the
quarters of the king; there also the main forces of the army.

"If hunger does not drive them out of this place, we can do nothing
with them," said Kmita. "The whole region is fortified. There is
pasture for horses."

"But there are not fish for so many mouths," said Zagloba. "Lutherans
do not like fasting food. Not long since they had all Poland, now they
have this wedge; let them sit here in safety, or go back to Yaroslav."

"Very skilful men made these trenches," added Volodyovski, looking with
the eye of a specialist on the work. "We have more swordsmen, but fewer
learned officers; and in military art we are behind others."

"Why is that?" asked Zagloba.

"Why? It does not beseem me as a soldier who has served all his life in
the cavalry, to say this, but everywhere infantry and cannon are the
main thing; hence those campaigns and military man[oe]uvres, marches,
and countermarches. A man in a foreign army must devour a multitude of
books and turn over a multitude of Roman authors before he becomes a
distinguished officer; but there is nothing of that with us. Cavalry
rushes into the smoke in a body, and shaves with its sabres; and if it
does not shave off in a minute, then they shave it off."

"You speak soundly, Pan Michael; but what nation has won so many famous
victories?"

"Yes, because others in old times warred in the same way, and not
having the same impetus they were bound to lose; but now they have
become wiser, and see what they are doing."

"Wait for the end. Place for me now the wisest Swedish or German
engineer, and against him I will put Roh, who has never turned over
books, and let us see."

"If you could put him," interrupted Kmita.

"True, true! I am terribly sorry for him. Pan Andrei, jabber a little
in that dog's language of those breeches fellows, and ask what has
happened to Roh."

"You do not know regular soldiers. Here no man will open his lips to
you without an order; they are stingy of speech."

"I know that they are surly scoundrels. While if to our nobles, and
especially to the general militia, an envoy comes, immediately talk,
talk, they will drink gorailka with him, and will enter into political
discussion with him; and see how these fellows stand there like posts
and bulge out their eyes at us! I wish they would smother to the last
man!"

In fact, more and more foot-soldiers gathered around the envoys,
looking at them curiously. The envoys were dressed so carefully in
elegant and even rich garments, that they made an imposing appearance.
Zagloba arrested most attention, for he bore himself with almost
senatorial dignity; Volodyovski was less considered, by reason of his
stature.

Meanwhile the officer who received them first on the bank returned with
another of higher rank, and with soldiers leading horses. The superior
officer bowed to the envoys and said in Polish,--

"His Royal Grace asks you, gentlemen, to his quarters; and since they
are not very near we have brought horses."

"Are you a Pole?" asked Zagloba.

"No, I am a Cheh,--Sadovski, in the Swedish service."

Kmita approached him at once. "Do you know me?"

Sadovski looked at him quickly. "Of course! At Chenstohova you blew up
the largest siege gun, and Miller gave you to Kuklinovski. I greet you,
greet you heartily as a famous knight."

"And what is going on with Kuklinovski?" asked Kmita.

"But do you not know?"

"I know that I paid him with that with which he wanted to treat me, but
I left him alive."

"He died."

"I thought he would freeze to death," said Pan Andrei, waving his hand.

"Worthy Colonel," put in Zagloba, "have you not a certain Roh
Kovalski?"

Sadovski laughed: "Of course."

"Praise be to God and the Most Holy Lady! The lad is alive and I shall
get him. Praise be to God!"

"I do not know whether the king will be willing to yield him up," said
Sadovski.

"But why not?"

"Because he has pleased him greatly. He recognized him at once as the
same man who had pushed after him with such vigor at Rudnik. We held
our sides listening to the narrative of the prisoner. The king asked:
'Why did you pick me out?' and he answered, 'I made a vow.' Then the
king asked again, 'But will you do so again?' 'Of course!' answered the
prisoner. The king began to laugh. 'Put away your vow,' said he, 'and I
will give you your life and freedom.' 'Impossible!' 'Why?' 'For my
uncle would proclaim me a fool.' 'And are you so sure that you could
manage me in a hand-to-hand fight?' 'Oh, I could manage five men like
you,' said he. Then the king asked again: 'And do you dare to raise
your hand against majesty?' 'Yes,' said he, 'for you have a vile
faith.' They interpreted every word to the king, and he was more and
more pleased, and continued to repeat: 'This man has pleased me.' Then
wishing to see whether in truth he had such strength, he gave orders to
choose twelve of the strongest men in camp and bring them to wrestle in
turn with the prisoner. But he is a muscular fellow! When I came away
he had stretched out ten one after another, and not a man of them could
rise again. We shall arrive just at the end of the amusement."

"I recognize Roh, my blood!" said Zagloba. "We will give for him even
three famous officers!"

"You will find the king in good humor," said Sadovski, "which is a rare
thing nowadays."

"Oh, I believe that!" answered the little knight

Meanwhile Sadovski turned to Kmita, and asked how he had not only freed
himself from Kuklinovski, but put an end to him. Kmita told him in
detail. Sadovski, while listening, seized his own head with amazement;
at last he pressed Kmita's hand again, and said,--

"Believe me, I am sincerely glad; for though I serve the Swedes, every
true soldier's heart rejoices when a real cavalier puts down a ruffian.
I must acknowledge to you that when a daring man is found among you,
one must look with a lantern through the universe to find his equal."

"You are a courteous officer," said Zagloba.

"And a famous soldier, we know that," added Volodyovski.

"I learned courtesy and the soldier's art from you," answered Sadovski,
touching his cap.

Thus they conversed, vying with one another in courtesy, till they
reached Grojytsi, where the king's quarters were. The whole village was
occupied by soldiers of various arms. Our envoys looked with curiosity
at the groups scattered among the fences. Some, wishing to sleep away
their hunger, were dozing around cottages, for the day was very clear
and warm; some were playing dice on drums, drinking beer; some were
hanging their clothes on the fences; others were sitting in front of
the cottages singing Scandinavian longs, rubbing with brick-dust their
breastplates and helmets, from which bright gleams went forth. In
places they were cleaning horses, or leading them out; in a word, camp
life was moving and seething under the bright sky. There were men, it
is true, who bore signs of terrible toil and hunger, but the sun
covered their leanness with gold; besides, days of rest were beginning
for those incomparable warriors, therefore they took courage at once,
and assumed a military bearing. Volodyovski admired them in spirit,
especially the infantry regiments, famous through the whole world for
endurance and bravery. Sadovski gave explanations as they passed,
saying,--

"This is the Smaland regiment of the royal guard. This is the infantry
of Delekarlia, the very best."

"In God's name, what little monsters are these?" cried Zagloba on a
sudden, pointing to a group of small men with olive complexions and
black hair hanging on both sides of their heads.

"Those are Laplanders, who belong to the remotest Hyperboreans."

"Are they good in battle? It seems to me that I might take three in
each hand and strike with their heads till I was tired."

"You could surely do so. They are useless in battle. The Swedes bring
them for camp servants, and partly as a curiosity. But they are the
most skilful of wizards; each of them has at least one devil in his
service, and some have five."

"How do they get such friendship with evil spirits?" asked Kmita,
making the sign of the cross.

"Because they wander in night, which with them lasts half a year or
more; and you know that it is easier to hold converse with the Devil at
night."

"But have they souls?"

"It is unknown; but I think that they are more in the nature of
animals."

Kmita turned his horse, caught one of the Laplanders by the shoulders,
raised him up like a cat, and examined him curiously; then he put him
on his feet, and said,--

"If the king would give me one such, I would give orders to have him
dried and hung up in the church in Orsha, where, among other
curiosities, are ostrich eggs."

"In Lubni, at the parish church, there were jaws of a whale or even of
a giant," said Volodyovski.

"Let us go on, for something evil will fall on us here," said Zagloba.

"Let us go," repeated Sadovski. "To tell the truth, I ought to have had
bags put on your heads, as is the custom; but we have nothing here to
hide, and that you have looked on the trenches is all the better for
us."

They spurred on their horses, and after a while were before the castle
at Gojytsi. In front of the gate they sprang from their saddles, and
advanced on foot; for the King was before the house.

They saw a large number of generals and very celebrated officers. Old
Wittemberg was there, Douglas, Löwenhaupt, Miller, Erickson, and many
others. All were sitting on the balcony, a little behind the king,
whose chair was pushed forward; and they looked on the amusement which
Karl Gustav was giving himself with the prisoner. Roh had just
stretched out the twelfth cavalier, and was in a coat torn by the
wrestlers, panting and sweating greatly. When he saw his uncle in
company with Kmita and Volodyovski, he thought at once that they too
were prisoners. He stared at them, opened his mouth, and advanced a
couple of steps; but Zagloba gave him a sign with his hand to stand
quietly, and the envoy stood himself with his comrades before the face
of the king.

Sadovski presented the envoys; they bowed low, as custom and etiquette
demanded, then Zagloba delivered Charnyetski's letter.

The king took the letter, and began to read; meanwhile the Polish
envoys looked at him with curiosity, for they had never seen him
before. He was a man in the flower of his age, as dark in complexion as
though born an Italian or a Spaniard. His long hair, black as a raven's
wing, fell behind his ears to his shoulders. In brightness and color
his eyes brought to mind Yeremi Vishnyevetski; his brows were greatly
elevated, as if he were in continual astonishment. In the place where
the brows approached, his forehead was raised in a large protuberance,
which made him resemble a lion; a deep wrinkle above his nose, which
did not leave him even when he was laughing, gave his face a
threatening and wrathful expression. His lower lip protruded like that
of Yan Kazimir, but his face was heavier and his chin larger; he wore
mustaches in the form of cords, brushed out somewhat at the ends. In
general, his face indicated an uncommon man, one of those who when they
walk over the earth press blood out of it. There was in him grandeur,
the pride of a monarch, the strength of a lion, and the quickness of
genius; but though a kindly smile never left his mouth, there was
lacking that kindness of heart which illuminates a face from within
with a mild light, as a lamp placed in the middle of an alabaster urn
lights it. He sat in the arm-chair, with crossed legs, the powerful
calves of which were indicated clearly from under the black stockings,
and blinking as was his wont, he read with a smile the letter from
Charnyetski. Raising his lids, he looked at Pan Michael, and said,--

"I knew you at once; you slew Kanneberg."

All eyes were turned immediately on Volodyovski, who, moving his
mustaches, bowed and answered,--

"At the service of your Royal Grace."

"What is your office?" asked the king.

"Colonel of the Lauda squadron."

"Where did you serve before?"

"With the voevoda of Vilna."

"And did you leave him with the others? You betrayed him and me."

"I was bound to my own king, not to your Royal Grace."

The king said nothing; all foreheads were frowning, eyes began to bore
into Pan Michael; but he stood calmly, merely moving his mustaches time
after time.

All at once the king said,--

"It is pleasant for me to know such a famous cavalier. Kanneberg passed
among us as incomparable in hand-to-hand conflict. You must be the
first sabre in the kingdom?"

"_In universo_ (In the universe)!" said Zagloba.

"Not the last," answered Volodyovski.

"I greet you, gentlemen, heartily. For Pan Charnyetski I have a real
esteem as for a great soldier, though he broke his word to me, for he
ought to be sitting quietly till now in Syevej."

"Your Royal Grace," said Kmita, "Pan Charnyetski was not the first to
break his word, but General Miller, who seized Wolf's regiment of royal
infantry."

Miller advanced a step, looked in the face of Kmita, and began to
whisper something to the king, who, blinking all the time, listened
attentively; looking at Pan Andrei, he said at last,--

"I see that Pan Charnyetski has sent me chosen cavaliers. I know from
of old that there is no lack of daring men among you; but there is a
lack of faith in keeping promises and oaths."

"Holy are the words of your Royal Grace," answered Zagloba.

"How do you understand that?"

"If it were not for this vice of our people, your Royal Grace would not
be here."

The king was silent awhile; the generals again frowned at the boldness
of the envoys.

"Yan Kazimir himself freed you from the oath," said Karl, "for he left
you and took refuge abroad."

"From the oath we can be freed only by the Vicar of Christ, who resides
in Rome; and he has not freed us."

"A truce to that!" said the king. "I have acquired the kingdom by
this," here he struck his sword, "and by this I will hold it. I do not
need your suffrages nor your oaths. You want war, you will have it. I
think that Pan Charnyetski remembers Golembo yet."

"He forgot it on the road from Yaroslav," answered Zagloba.

The king, instead of being angry, smiled: "I'll remind him of it."

"God rules the world."

"Tell him to visit me; I shall be glad to receive him. But he must
hurry, for as soon as my horses are in condition I shall march
farther."

"Then we shall receive your Royal Grace," said Zagloba, bowing and
placing his hand slightly on his sabre.

"I see," said the king, "that Pan Charnyetski has sent in the embassy
not only the best sabres, but the best mouth. In a moment you parry
every thrust. It is lucky that the war is not of words, for I should
find an opponent worthy of my power. But I will come to the question.
Pan Charnyetski asks me to liberate this prisoner, offering two
officers of distinction in return. I do not set such a low price on my
soldiers as you think, and I have no wish to redeem them too cheaply;
that would be against my own and their ambition, but since I can refuse
Pan Charnyetski nothing, I will make him a present of this cavalier."

"Gracious Lord," answered Zagloba, "Pan Charnyetski did not wish to
show contempt for Swedish officers, but compassion for me; for this is
my sister's son, and I, at the service of your Royal Grace, am Pan
Charnyetski's adviser."

"In truth," said the king, "I ought not to let the prisoner go, for he
has made a vow against me, unless he will give up his vow in view of
this favor."

Here he turned to Roh, who was standing in front of the porch, and
beckoned: "But come nearer, you strong fellow!"

Roh approached a couple of steps, and stood erect.

"Sadovski," said the king, "ask him if he will let me go in case I free
him."

Sadovski repeated the king's question.

"Impossible!" cried Roh.

The king understood without an interpreter, and began to clap his hands
and blink.

"Well, well! How can I set such a man free? He has twisted the necks of
twelve horsemen, and promises me as the thirteenth. Good, good! the
cavalier has pleased me. Is he Pan Charnyetski's adviser too? If he is,
I will let him go all the more quickly."

"Keep your mouth shut!" muttered Zagloba to Roh.

"A truce to amusement!" said the king, suddenly. "Take him, and have
still one more proof of my clemency. I can forgive, as the lord of this
kingdom, since such is my will and favor; but I will not enter into
terms with rebels."

Here the king frowned, and the smile left his face: "Whoso raises his
hand against me is a rebel, for I am his lawful king. Only from
kindness to you have I not punished hitherto as was proper. I have been
waiting for you to come to your minds; but the hour will strike when
kindness will be exhausted and the day of punishment will rise. Through
your self-will and instability the country is flaming with fire;
through your disloyalty blood is flowing. But I tell you the last days
are passing; you do not wish to hear admonitions, you do not wish to
obey laws, you will obey the sword and the gallows!"

Lightnings flashed in Karl's eyes. Zagloba looked on him awhile with
amazement, unable to understand whence that storm had come after fair
weather; finally he too began to grow angry, therefore he bowed and
said only,--

"We thank your Royal Grace."

Then he went off, and after him Kmita, Volodyovski, and Roh Kovalski.

"Gracious, gracious!" said Zagloba, "and before you can look around he
bellows in your ear like a bear. Beautiful end to an embassy! Others
give honor with a cup at parting, but he with the gallows! Let him hang
dogs, not nobles! O my God! how grievously we have sinned against our
king, who was a father, is a father, and will be a father, for there is
a Yagyellon heart in him. And such a king traitors deserted, and went
to make friendship with scarecrows from beyond the sea. We are served
rightly, for we were not worthy of anything better. Gibbets! gibbets!
He is fenced in, and we have squeezed him like curds in a bag, so that
whey is coming out, and still he threatens with sword and gibbet. Wait
awhile! The Cossack caught a Tartar, and the Tartar has him by the
head. It will be closer for you yet.--Roh, I wanted to give you a slap
on the face or fifty blows on a carpet, but I forgive you now since you
acted so like a cavalier and promised to hunt him still farther. Let me
kiss you, for I am delighted with you."

"Uncle is still glad!" said Roh.

"The gibbet and the sword! And he told that to my eyes," said Zagloba
again, after a while. "You have protection! The wolf protects in the
same fashion a sheep for his own eating. And when does he say that?
Now, when there is goose skin on his own back. Let him take his
Laplanders for counsellors, and with them seek Satan's aid. But the
Most Holy Lady will help us, as she did Pan Bobola in Sandomir when
powder threw him and his horse across the Vistula, and he was not hurt.
He looked around to see where he was, and arrived in time to dine with
the priest. With such help we will pull them all by the necks like
lobsters out of a wicker trap."



                             CHAPTER XXXV.


Almost twenty days passed. The king remained continually at the
junction of the rivers, and sent couriers to fortresses and commands in
every direction toward Cracow and Warsaw, with orders for all to hasten
to him with assistance. They sent him also provisions by the Vistula in
as great quantities as possible, but insufficient. After ten days the
Swedes began to eat horse-flesh; despair seized the king and the
generals at thought of what would happen when the cavalry should lose
their horses, and when there would be no beasts to draw cannon. From
every side too there came unpleasant news. The whole country was
blazing with war, as if some one had poured pitch over it and set fire.
Inferior commands and garrisons could not hasten to give aid, for they
were not able to leave the towns and villages. Lithuania, held hitherto
by the iron hand of Pontus do la Gardie, rose as one man. Great Poland,
which had yielded first of all, was the first to throw off the yoke,
and shone before the whole Commonwealth as an example of endurance,
resolve, and enthusiasm. Parties of nobles and peasants rushed not only
on the garrisons in villages, but even attacked towns. In vain did the
Swedes take terrible vengeance on the country, in vain did they cut off
the hands of prisoners, in vain did they send up villages in smoke, cut
settlements to pieces, raise gibbets, bring instruments of torture from
Germany to torture insurgents. Whoso had to suffer, suffered; whoso had
to die, died; but if he was a noble, he died with a sabre; if a
peasant, with a scythe in his hand. And Swedish blood was flowing
throughout all Great Poland; the peasants were living in the forests,
even women rushed to arms; punishments merely roused vengeance and
increased rage. Kulesha, Jegotski, and the voevoda of Podlyasye moved
through the country like flames, and besides their parties all the
pine-woods were filled with other parties. The fields lay untilled,
fierce hunger increased in the land; but it twisted most the entrails
of the Swedes, for they were confined in towns behind closed gates, and
could not go to the open country. At last breath was failing in their
bosoms.

In Mazovia the condition was the same. There the Barkshoe people
dwelling in forest gloom came out of their wildernesses, blocked the
roads, seized provisions and couriers. In Podlyasye a numerous small
nobility marched in thousands either to Sapyeha or to Lithuania.
Lyubelsk was in the hands of the confederates. From the distant Russias
came Tartars, and with them the Cossacks constrained to obedience.

Therefore all were certain that if not in a week in a month, if not in
a month in two, that river fork in which Karl Gustav had halted with
the main army of the Swedes would be turned into one great tomb to the
glory of the nation; a great lesson for those who would attack the
Commonwealth.

The end of the war was foreseen already; there were some who said that
one way of salvation alone remained to Karl,--to ransom himself and
give Swedish Livland to the Commonwealth.

But suddenly the fortune of Karl and the Swedes was bettered.
Marienburg, besieged hitherto in vain, surrendered, March 20, to
Steinbock. His powerful and valiant army had then no occupation, and
could hasten to the rescue of the king.

From another direction the Markgraf of Baden, having finished levies,
was marching also to the river fork with ready forces, and soldiers yet
unwearied.

Both pushed forward, breaking up the smaller bands of insurgents,
destroying, burning, slaying. Along the road they gathered in Swedish
garrisons, took the smaller commands, and increased in power, as a
river increases the more it takes streams to its bosom.

Tidings of the fall of Marienburg, of the army of Steinbock, and the
march of the Markgraf of Baden came very quickly to the fork of the
river, and grieved Polish hearts. Steinbock was still far away; but the
markgraf, advancing by forced marches, might soon come up and change
the whole position at Sandomir.

The Polish leaders then held a council in which Charnyetski, Sapyeha,
Michael Radzivill, Vitovski, and Lyubomirski, who had grown tired of
being on the Vistula, took part. At this council it was decided that
Sapyeha with the Lithuanian army was to remain to watch Karl, and
prevent his escape, Charnyetski was to move against the Markgraf of
Baden and meet him as quickly as possible; if God gave him victory, he
would return to besiege Karl Gustav.

Corresponding orders were given at once. Next morning he trumpets
sounded to horse so quietly that they were barely heard; Charnyetski
wished to depart unknown to the Swedes. At his recent camp-ground a
number of unoccupied parties of nobles and peasants took position at
once. They kindled fires and made an uproar, so that the enemy might
think that no one had left the place; but Charnyetski's squadrons moved
out one after another. First marched the Lauda squadron, which by right
should have remained with Sapyeha; but since Charnyetski had fallen
greatly in love with this squadron, the hetman was loath to take it
from him. After the Lauda went the Vansovich squadron, chosen men led
by an old soldier half of whose life had been passed in shedding blood;
then followed the squadron of Prince Dymitri Vishnyevetski, under the
same Shandarovski who at Rudnik had covered himself with immeasurable
glory; then two regiments of Vitovski's dragoons, two regiments of the
starosta of Yavorov; the famed Stapkovski led one; then Charnyetski's
own regiment, the king's regiment under Polyanovski, and Lyubomirski's
whole force. No infantry was taken, because of haste; nor wagons, for
the army went on horseback.

All were drawn up together at Zavada in good strength and great
willingness. Then Charnyetski himself went out in front, and after he
had arranged them for the march, he withdrew his horse somewhat and let
them pass so as to review well the whole force. The horse under him
sniffed, threw up his head and nodded, as if wishing to greet the
passing regiments; and the heart swelled in the castellan himself. A
beautiful view was before him. As far as the eye reached a river of
horses, a river of stern faces of soldiers, welling up and down with
the movement of the horses; above them still a third river of sabres
and lances, glittering and gleaming in the morning sun. A tremendous
power went forth from them, and Charnyetski felt the power in himself;
for that was not some kind of collection of volunteers, but men forged
on the anvil of battle, trained, exercised, and in conflict so
"venomous" that no cavalry on earth of equal numbers could withstand
them. Therefore Charnyetski felt with certainty, without doubt, that he
would bear asunder with sabres and hoofs the army of the Markgraf of
Baden; and that victory, felt in advance, made his face so radiant that
it gleamed on the regiments.

"With God to victory!" cried he at last.

"With God! We will conquer!" answered mighty voices.

And that shout flew through all the squadrons like deep thunder through
clouds. Charnyetski spurred his horse to come up with the Lauda
squadron, marching in the van.

The army moved forward.

They advanced not like men, but like a flock of ravening birds which
having wind of a battle from afar, fly to outstrip the tempest. Never,
even among Tartars in the steppes, had any man heard of such a march.
The soldiers slept in the saddles; they ate and drank without
dismounting; they fed the horses from their hands. Rivers, forests,
villages, were left behind them. Scarcely had peasants hurried out from
their cottages to look at the army when the army had vanished behind
clouds of dust in the distance. They marched day and night, resting
only just enough to escape killing the horses.

At Kozyenitsi they came upon eight Swedish squadrons under Torneskiold.
The Lauda men, marching in the van, first saw the enemy, and without
even drawing breath sprang at them straightway and into the fire. Next
advanced Shandarovski, then Vansovich, and then Stapkovski.

The Swedes, thinking that they had to deal with some mere common
parties, met them in the open field, and two hours later there was not
a living man left to go to the markgraf and tell him that Charnyetski
was coming. Those eight squadrons were simply swept asunder on sabres,
without leaving a witness of defeat. Then the Poles moved straight on
to Magnushev, for spies informed them that the markgraf was at Varka
with his whole army.

Volodyovski was sent in the night with a party to learn how the army
was disposed, and what its power was.

Zagloba complained greatly of that expedition, for even the famed
Vishnyevetski had never made such marches as this; therefore the old
man complained, but he chose to go with Pan Michael rather than remain
with the army.

"It was a golden time at Sandomir," said he, stretching himself in the
saddle; "a man ate, drank, and looked at the besieged Swedes in the
distance; bat now there is not time even to put a canteen to your
mouth. I know the military arts of the ancients, of the great Pompey
and Cæsar; but Charnyetski has invented a new style. It is contrary to
every rule to shake the stomach so many days and nights. The
imagination begins to rebel in me from hunger, and it seems to me
continually that the stars are buckwheat pudding and the moon cheese.
To the dogs with such warfare! As God is dear to me, I want to gnaw my
own horses' ears off from hunger."

"To-morrow, God grant, we shall rest after finishing the Swedes."

"I would rather have the Swedes than this tediousness! O Lord! O Lord!
when wilt Thou give peace to this Commonwealth, and to Zagloba a warm
place at the stove and heated beer, even without cream? Batter along,
old man, on your nag, batter along, till you batter your body to death.
Has any one there snuff? Maybe I could sneeze out this sleepiness
through my nostrils. The moon is shining through my mouth, looking into
my stomach, but I cannot tell what the moon is looking for there; it
will find nothing. I repeat, to the dogs with such warfare!"

"If Uncle thinks that the moon is cheese, then eat it, Uncle," said Roh
Kovalski.

"If I should eat you I might say that I had eaten beef; but I am afraid
that after such a roast I should lose the rest of my wit."

"If I am an ox and Uncle is my uncle, then what is Uncle?"

"But, you fool, do you think that Althea gave birth to a firebrand
because she sat by the stove?"

"How does that touch me?"

"In this way. If you are an ox, then ask about your father first, not
about your uncle: for a bull carried off Europa, but her brother, who
was uncle to her children, was a man for all that. Do you understand?"

"To tell the truth, I do not; but as to eating I could eat something
myself."

"Eat the devil and let me sleep! What is it, Pan Michael? Why have we
halted?"

"Varka is in sight," answered Volodyovski. "See, the church tower is
gleaming in the moonlight."

"But have we passed Magnushev?"

"Magnushev is behind on the right. It is a wonder to me that there is
no Swedish party on this side of the river. Let us go to those thickets
and stop; perhaps God may send us some informant."

Pan Michael led his detachment to the thicket, and disposed it about a
hundred yards from the road on each side, ordering the men to remain
silent, and hold the bridles closely so the horses might not neigh.

"Wait," said he. "Let us hear what is being done on the other side of
the river, and perhaps we may see something."

They stood there waiting; but for a long time nothing was to be heard.
The wearied soldiers began to nod in the saddles. Zagloba dropped on
the horse's neck and fell asleep; even the horses were slumbering. An
hour passed. The accurate ear of Volodyovski heard something like the
tread of a horse on a firm road.

"Hold! silence!" said he to the soldiers.

He pushed out himself to the edge of the thicket, and looked along the
road. The road was gleaming in the moonlight like a silver ribbon;
there was nothing visible on it, still the sound of horses came nearer.

"They are coming surely!" said Volodyovski.

All held their horses more closely, each one restraining his breath.
Meanwhile on the road appeared a Swedish party of thirty horsemen. They
rode slowly and carelessly enough, not in line, but in a straggling
row. Some of the soldiers were talking, others were singing in a low
voice; for the night, warm as in May, acted on the ardent souls of the
soldiers. Without suspicion they passed near Pan Michael, who was
standing so hard by the edge of the thicket that he could catch the
odor of horses and the smoke of pipes which the soldiers had lighted.

At last they vanished at the turn of the road. Volodyovski waited till
the tramp had died in the distance; then only did he go to his men and
say to Pan Yan and Pan Stanislav,--

"Let us drive them now, like geese, to the camp of the castellan. Not a
man must escape, lest he give warning."

"If Charnyetski does not let us eat then and sleep," said Zagloba, "I
will resign his service and return to Sapyo. With Sapyo, when there is
a battle, there is a battle; but when there is a respite, there is a
feast. If you had four lips, he would give each one of them enough to
do. He is the leader for me! And in truth tell me by what devil are we
not serving with Sapyo, since this regiment belongs to him by right?"

"Father, do not blaspheme against the greatest warrior in the
Commonwealth," said Pan Yan.

"It is not I that blaspheme, but my entrails, on which hunger is
playing, as on a fiddle--"

"The Swedes will dance to the music," interrupted Volodyovski. "Now,
gentlemen, let us advance quickly! I should like to come up with them
exactly at that inn in the forest which we passed in coming hither."

And he led on the squadron quickly, but not too quickly. They rode into
a dense forest in which darkness enclosed them. The inn was less than
two miles distant. When Volodyovski had drawn near, he went again at a
walk, so as not to alarm the Swedes too soon. When not more than a
cannon-shot away, the noise of men was heard.

"They are there and making an uproar!" said Pan Michael.

The Swedes had, in fact, stopped at the inn, looking for some living
person to give information. But the place was empty. Some of the
soldiers were shaking up the main building; others were looking in the
cow-house, in the shed, or raising the thatch on the roof. One half of
the men remained on the square holding the horses of those who were
searching.

Pan Michael's division approached within a hundred yards, and began to
surround the inn with a Tartar crescent. Those of the Swedes standing
in front heard perfectly, and at last saw men and horses; since,
however, it was dark in the forest they could not see what kind of
troops were coming; but they were not alarmed in the least, not
admitting that others than Swedes could come from that point. At last
the movement of the crescent astonished and disturbed them. They called
at once to those who were in the buildings.

Suddenly a shout of "Allah!" was heard, and the sound of shots, in one
moment dark crowds of soldiers appeared as if they had grown out of the
earth. Now came confusion, a flash of sabres, oaths, smothered shouts;
but the whole affair did not last longer than the time needed to say
the Lord's Prayer twice.

There remained on the ground before the inn five bodies of men and
horses; Volodyovski moved on, taking with him twenty-five prisoners.

They advanced at a gallop, urging the Swedish horses with the sides of
their sabres, and arrived at Magnushev at daybreak. In Charnyetski's
camp no one was sleeping; all were ready. The castellan himself came
out leaning on his staff, thin and pale from watching.

"How is it?" asked he of Pan Michael. "Have you many informants?"

"Twenty-five prisoners."

"Did many escape?"

"All are taken."

"Only send you, soldier, even to hell! Well done! Take them at once to
the torture, I will examine them."

Then the castellan turned, and when departing said,--

"But be in readiness, for perhaps we may move on the enemy without
delay."

"How is that?" asked Zagloba.

"Be quiet!" said Volodyovski.

The prisoners, without being burned, told in a moment what they knew of
the forces of the markgraf,--how many cannons he had, what infantry
and cavalry. Charnyetski grew somewhat thoughtful; for he learned that
it was really a newly levied army, but formed of the oldest soldiers,
who had taken part in God knows how many wars. There were also many
Germans among them, and a considerable division of French; the whole
force exceeded that of the Poles by several hundred. But it appeared
from the statements of the prisoners that the markgraf did not even
admit that Charnyetski was near, and believed that the Poles were
besieging Karl Gustav with all their forces at Sandomir.

The castellan had barely heard this when he sprang up and cried to his
attendant: "Vitovski, give command to sound the trumpet to horse!"

Half an hour later the army moved and marched in the fresh spring
morning through forests and fields covered with dew. At last Varka--or
rather its ruins, for the place had been burned almost to the ground
six years before--appeared on the horizon.

Charnyetski's troops were marching over an open flat; therefore they
could not be concealed from the eyes of the Swedes. In fact they were
seen; but the markgraf thought that they were various "parties" which
had combined in a body with the intent of alarming the camp.

Only when squadron after squadron, advancing at a trot, appeared from
beyond the forest, did a feverish activity rise in the Swedish camp.
Charnyetski's men saw smaller divisions of horsemen and single officers
hurrying between the regiments. The bright-colored Swedish infantry
began to pour into the middle of the plain; the regiments formed one
after another before the eyes of the Poles and were numerous,
resembling a flock of many-colored birds. Over their heads were raised
toward the sun quadrangles of strong spears with which the infantry
shielded themselves against attacks of cavalry. Finally, were seen
crowds of Swedish armored cavalry advancing at a trot along the wings;
the artillery was drawn up and brought to the front in haste. All the
preparations, all the movements were as visible as something on the
palm of the hand, for the sun had risen clearly, splendidly, and
lighted up the whole country.

The Pilitsa separated the two armies.

On the Swedish bank trumpets and kettle-drums were heard, and the
shouts of soldiers coming with all speed into line. Charnyetski ordered
also to sound the crooked trumpets, and advanced with his squadrons
toward the river.

Then he rushed with all the breath of his horse to the Vansovich
squadron, which was nearest the Pilitsa.

"Old soldier!" cried he to Vansovich, "advance for me to the bridge,
there dismount and to muskets! Let all their force be turned on you!
Lead on!"

Vansovich merely flushed a little from desire, and waved his baton. The
men shouted and shot after him like a cloud of dust driven by wind.

When they came within three hundred yards of the bridge, they slackened
the speed of their horses; then two thirds of them sprang from the
saddles and advanced on a run to the bridge.

But the Swedes came from the other side; and soon muskets began to
play, at first slowly, then every moment more briskly, as if a thousand
flails were beating irregularly on a barn-floor. Smoke stretched over
the river. Shouts of encouragement were thundering from one and the
other command. The minds of both armies were bent to the bridge, which
was wooden, narrow, difficult to take, but easy to defend. Still over
this bridge alone was it possible to cross to the Swedes.

A quarter of an hour later Charnyetski pushed forward Lyubomirski's
dragoons to the aid of Vansovich.

But the Swedes now attacked the opposite front with artillery. They
drew up new pieces one after another, and bombs began to fly with a
howl over the heads of Vansovich's men and the dragoons, to fall in the
meadow and dig into the earth, scattering mud and turf on those
fighting.

The markgraf, standing near the forest in the rear of the army, watched
the battle through a field-glass. From time to time he removed the
glass from his eyes, looked at his staff, shrugged his shoulders and
said with astonishment: "They have gone mad; they want absolutely to
force the bridge. A few guns and two or three regiments might defend it
against a whole army."

Vansovich advanced still more stubbornly with his men; hence the
defence grew still more resolute. The bridge became the central point
of the battle, toward which the whole Swedish line was approaching and
concentrating. An hour later the entire Swedish order of battle was
changed, and they stood with flank to their former position. The bridge
was simply covered with a rain of fire and iron. Vansovich's men were
falling thickly; meanwhile orders came more and more urgent to advance
absolutely.

"Charnyetski is murdering those men!" cried Lyubomirski on a sudden.

Vitovski, as an experienced soldier, saw that evil was happening, and
his whole body quivered with impatience; at last he could endure no
longer. Spurring his horse till the beast groaned piteously, he rushed
to Charnyetski, who during all this time, it was unknown why, was
pushing men toward the river.

"Your grace," cried Vitovski, "blood is flowing for nothing; we cannot
carry that bridge!"

"I do not want to carry it!" answered Charnyetski.

"Then what does your grace want? What must we do?"

"To the river with the squadrons! to the river! And you to your place!"

Here Charnyetski's eyes flashed such lightnings that Vitovski withdrew
without saying a word.

Meanwhile the squadrons had come within twenty paces of the bank, and
stood in a long line parallel with the bed of the river. None of the
officers or the soldiers had the slightest suspicion of what they were
doing.

In a flash Charnyetski appeared like a thunderbolt before the front of
the squadrons. There was fire in his face, lightning in his eyes. A
sharp wind had raised the burka on his shoulders so that it was like
strong wings: his horse sprang and reared, casting fire from his
nostrils. The castellan dropped his sword on its pendant, took the rap
from his head, and with hair erect shouted to his division,--

"Gentlemen! the enemy defends himself with this water, and jeers at us!
He has sailed through the sea to crush our fatherland, and he thinks
that we in defence of it cannot swim through this river!"

Here he hurled his cap to the earth, and seizing his sabre pointed with
it to the swollen waters. Enthusiasm bore him away, for he stood in the
saddle and shouted more mightily still,--

"To whom God, faith, fatherland, are all, follow me!"

And pressing the horse with the spurs so that the steed sprang as it
were into space, he rushed into the river. The wave plashed around him;
man and horse were hidden under water, but they rose in the twinkle of
an eye.

"After my master!" cried Mihalko, the same who had covered himself with
glory at Rudnik; and he sprang into the water.

"After me!" shouted Volodyovski, with a shrill but thin voice; and he
sprang in before he had finished shouting.

"O Jesus! O Mary!" bellowed Zagloba, raising his horse for the leap.

With that an avalanche of men and horses dashed into the river, so that
it struck both banks with wild impetus. After the Lauda squadron went
Vishnyevetski's, then Vitovski's, then Stapkovski's, after that all the
others. Such a frenzy seized the men that the squadrons crowded one
another in emulation; the shouts of command were mingled with the roar
of the soldiers; the river overflowed the banks and foamed itself into
milk in a moment. The current bore the regiments down somewhat; but the
horses, pricked with spurs, swam like a countless herd of dolphins,
snorting and groaning. They filled the river to such a degree that the
mass of heads of horses and riders formed as it were a bridge on which
a man might have passed with dry foot to the other bank.

Charnyetski swam over first; but before the water had dropped from him
the Lauda squadron had followed him to land; then he waved his baton,
and cried to Volodyovski,--

"On a gallop! Strike!"

And to the Vishnyevetski squadron under Shandarovski,--

"With them!"

And so he sent the squadrons one after another, till he had sent all.
He stood at the head of the last himself, and shouting, "In the name of
God! with luck!" followed the others.

Two regiments of Swedish cavalry posted in reserve saw what was
happening; but such amazement had seized the colonels that before they
could move from their tracks the Lauda men, urging their horses to the
highest speed, and sweeping with irresistible force, struck the first
regiment, scattered that, as a whirlwind scatters leaves, hurled it
against the second, brought that to disorder; then Shandarovski came
up, and a terrible slaughter began, but of short duration; after a
while the Swedish ranks were broken, and a disordered throng plunged
forward toward the main army.

Charnyetski's squadron pursued them with a fearful outcry, slashing,
thrusting, strewing the field with corpses.

At last it was clear why Charnyetski had commanded Vansovich to carry
the bridge, though he had no thought of crossing it. The chief
attention of the whole army had been concentrated on that point;
therefore no one defended, or had time to defend, the river itself.
Besides nearly all the artillery and the entire front of the Swedish
army was turned toward the bridge; and now when three thousand cavalry
were rushing with all impetus against the flank of that army, it was
needful to change the order of battle, to form a new front, to defend
themselves even well or ill against the shock. Now rose a terrible
haste and confusion; infantry and cavalry regiments turned with all
speed to face the enemy, straining themselves in their hurry, knocking
one against another, not understanding commands in the uproar, acting
independently. In vain did the officers make superhuman efforts; in
vain did the markgraf move straightway the regiments of cavalry posted
at the forest; before they came to any kind of order, before the
infantry could put the butt ends of their lances in the ground to hold
the points to the enemy, the Lauda squadron fell, like the spirit of
death, into the very midst of their ranks; after it a second, a third,
a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth squadron. Then began the day of
judgment! The smoke of musketry fire covered, as if with a cloud, the
whole scene of conflict; and in that cloud screams, seething, unearthly
voices of despair, shouts of triumph, the sharp clang of steel, as if
in an infernal forge, the rattling of muskets; at times a flag shone
and fell in the smoke; then the gilded point of a regimental banner,
and again you saw nothing; but a roar was heard more and more terrible,
as if the earth had broken on a sudden under the river, and its waters
were tumbling down into fathomless abysses.

Now on the flank other sounds were heard. This was Vansovich, who had
crossed the bridge and was marching on the new flank of the enemy.
After this the battle did not last long.

From out that cloud large groups of men began to push, and run toward
the forest in disorder, wild, without caps, without helmets, without
armor. Soon after them burst out a whole flood of people in the most
dreadful disorder. Artillery, infantry, cavalry mingled together fled
toward the forest at random, in alarm and terror. Some soldiers cried
in sky-piercing voices; others fled in silence, covering their heads
with their hands. Some in their haste threw away their clothing; others
stopped those running ahead, fell down themselves, trampled one
another; and right there behind them, on their shoulders and heads,
rushed a line of Polish cavaliers. Every moment you saw whole ranks of
them spurring their horses and rushing into the densest throngs of men.
No one defended himself longer; all went under the sword. Body fell
upon body. The Poles hewed without rest, without mercy, on the whole
plain; along the bank of the river toward the forest, as far as the eye
could reach you saw merely pursued and pursuing; only here and there
scattered groups of infantry offered an irregular, despairing
resistance; the cannons were silent. The battle ceased to be a battle;
it had turned into a slaughter.

All that part of the army which fled toward the forest was cut to
pieces; only a few squadrons of Swedish troopers entered it. After them
the light squadrons of Poles sprang in among the trees.

But in the forest peasants were waiting for that unslain remnant,--the
peasants who at the sound of the battle had rushed together from all
the surrounding villages.

The most terrible pursuit, however, continued on the road to Warsaw,
along which the main forces of the Swedes were fleeing. The young
Markgraf Adolph struggled twice to cover the retreat; but beaten twice,
he fell into captivity himself. His auxiliary division of French
infantry, composed of four hundred men, threw away their arms; three
thousand chosen soldiers, musketeers and cavalry, fled as far as
Mnishev. The musketeers were cut down in Mnishev; the cavalry were
pursued toward Chersk, until they were scattered completely through the
forest, reeds, and brush; there the peasants hunted them out one by one
on the morrow.

Before the sun had set, the army of Friederich, Markgraf of Baden, had
ceased to exist.

On the first scene of battle there remained only the standard-bearers
with their standards, for all the troops had followed the enemy. And
the sun was well inclined to its setting when the first bodies of
cavalry began to appear from the side of the forest and Mnishev. They
returned with singing and uproar, hurling their caps in the air, firing
from pistols. Almost all led with them crowds of bound prisoners. These
walked at the sides of the horses they were without caps, without
helmets, with heads drooping on their breasts, torn, bloody, stumbling
every moment against the bodies of fallen comrades. The field of battle
presented a terrible sight. In places, where the struggle had been
fiercest, there lay simply piles of bodies half a spear-length in
height. Some of the infantry still held in their stiffened hands long
spears. The whole ground was covered with spears. In places they were
sticking still in the earth; here and there pieces of them formed as it
were fences and pickets. But on all sides was presented mostly a
dreadful and pitiful mingling of bodies, of men mashed with hoofs,
broken muskets, drums, trumpets, caps, belts, tin boxes which the
infantry carried; hands and feet sticking out in such disorder from the
piles of bodies that it was difficult to tell to what body they
belonged. In those places specially where the infantry defended itself
whole breastworks of corpses were lying.

Somewhat farther on, near the river, stood the artillery, now cold,
some pieces overturned by the onrush of men, others as it were ready to
be fired. At the sides of them lay the cannoneers now held in eternal
sleep. Many bodies were hanging across the guns and embracing them with
their arms, as if those soldiers wished still to defend them after
death. The brass, spotted with blood and brains, glittered with ill
omen in the beams of the setting sun. The golden rays were reflected in
stiffened blood, which here and there formed little lakes. Its
nauseating odor was mingled over the whole field with the smell of
powder, the exhalation from bodies, and the sweat of horses.

Before the setting of the sun Charnyetski returned with the king's
regiment, and stood in the middle of the field. The troops greeted him
with a thundering shout. Whenever a detachment came up it cheered
without end. He stood in the rays of the sun, wearied beyond measure,
but all radiant, with bare head, his sword hanging on his belt, and he
answered to every cheer,--

"Not to me, gentlemen, not to me, but to the name of God!"

At his side were Vitovski and Lyubomirski, the latter as bright as the
sun itself, for he was in gilded plate armor, his face splashed with
blood; for he had worked terribly and labored with his own hand as a
simple soldier, but discontented and gloomy, for even his own regiments
shouted,--

"Vivat Charnyetski, _dux et victor_ (commander and conqueror)!"

Envy began then to dive into the soul of the marshal.

Meanwhile new divisions rolled in from every side of the field; each
time an officer came up and threw a banner, captured from the enemy, at
Charnyetski's feet. At sight of this rose new shouts, new cheers,
hurling of caps into the air, and the firing of pistols.

The sun was sinking lower and lower.

Then in the one church that remained after the fire in Varka they
sounded the Angelus; that moment all uncovered their heads. Father
Pyekarski, the company priest, began to intone: "The Angel of the Lord
announced unto the Most Holy Virgin Mary!" and a thousand iron breasts
answered at once, with deep voices: "And she conceived of the Holy
Ghost!"

All eyes were raised to the heavens, which were red with the evening
twilight; and from that bloody battle-field began to rise a pious hymn
to the light playing in the sky before night.

Just as they had ceased to sing, the Lauda squadron began to come up at
a trot; it had chased the enemy farthest. The soldiers throw more
banners at Charnyetski's feet. He rejoiced in heart, and seeing
Volodyovski, urged his horse toward him and asked,--

"Have many of them escaped?"

Pan Michael shook his head as a sign that not many had escaped, but he
was so near being breathless that he was unable to utter one word; he
merely gasped with open mouth, time after time, so that his breast was
heaving. At last he pointed to his lips, as a sign that he could not
speak. Charnyetski understood him and pressed his head.

"He has toiled!" said he; "God grant us more such."

Zagloba hurried to catch his breath, and said, with chattering teeth
and broken voice,--

"For God's sake! The cold wind is blowing on me, and I am all in a
sweat. Paralysis will strike me. Pull the clothes off some fat Swede
and give them to me, for everything on me is wet,--wet, and it is wet
in this place. I know not what is water, what is my own sweat, and what
is Swedish blood. If I have ever expected in my life to cut down so
many of those scoundrels, I am not fit to be the crupper of a saddle.
The greatest victory of this war! But I will not spring into water a
second time. Eat not, drink not, sleep not, and then a bath! I have had
enough in my old years. My hand is benumbed; paralysis has struck me
already; gorailka, for the dear God!"

Charnyetski, hearing this, and seeing the old man really covered
completely with the blood of the enemy, took pity on his age and gave
him his own canteen.

Zagloba raised it to his mouth, and after a while returned it empty;
then he said,--

"I have gulped so much water in the Pilitsa, that we shall soon see how
fish will hatch in my stomach; but that gorailka is better than water."

"Dress in other clothes, even Swedish," said Charnyetski.

"I'll find a big Swede for Uncle!" said Roh.

"Why should I have bloody clothes from a corpse?" said Zagloba; "take
off everything to the shirt from that general whom I captured."

"Have you taken a general?" asked Charnyetski, with animation.

"Whom have I not taken, whom have I not slain?" answered Zagloba.

Now Volodyovski recovered speech: "We have taken the younger markgraf,
Adolph; Count Falckenstein, General Wegier, General Poter Benzij, not
counting inferior officers."

"But the Markgraf Friederich?" asked Charnyetski.

"If he has not fallen here, he has escaped to the forest; but if he has
escaped, the peasants will kill him."

Volodyovski was mistaken in his previsions. The Markgraf Friederich
with Counts Schlippenbach and Ehrenhain, wandering through the forest,
made their way in the night to Chersk; after sitting there in the
ruined castle three days and nights in hunger and cold, they wandered
by night to Warsaw. That did not save them from captivity afterward;
this time, however, they escaped.

It was night when Charnyetski came to Varka from the field. That was
perhaps the gladdest night of his life, for such a great disaster the
Swedes had not suffered since the beginning of the war. All the
artillery, all the flags, all the officers, except the chief, were
captured. The army was cut to pieces, driven to the four winds; the
remnants of it were forced to fall victims to bands of peasants. But
besides, it was shown that those Swedes who held themselves invincible
could not stand before regular Polish squadrons in the open field.
Charnyetski understood at last what a mighty result this victory would
work in the whole Commonwealth,--how it would raise courage, how it
would rouse enthusiasm; he saw already the whole Commonwealth, in no
distant future, free from oppression, triumphant. Perhaps, too, he saw
with the eyes of his mind the gilded baton of the grand hetman on the
sky.

He was permitted to dream of this, for he had advanced toward it as a
true soldier, as a defender of his country, and he was of those who
grow not from salt nor from the soil, but from that which pains them.

Meanwhile he could hardly embrace with his whole soul the joy which
flowed in upon him; therefore he turned to Lyubomirski, riding at his
side, and said,--

"Now to Sandomir! to Sandomir with all speed! Since the army knows now
how to swim rivers, neither the San nor the Vistula will frighten us!"

Lyubomirski said not a word; but Zagloba, riding a little apart in
Swedish uniform, permitted himself to say aloud,--

"Go where you like, but without me, for I am not a weathercock to turn
night and day without food or sleep."

Charnyetski was so rejoiced that he was not only not angry, but he
answered in jest,--

"You are more like the belfry than the weathercock, since, as I see,
you have sparrows in your head. But as to eating and rest it belongs to
all."

To which Zagloba said, but in an undertone. "Whoso has a beak on his
face has a sparrow on his mind."



                             CHAPTER XXXVI.


After that victory Charnyetski permitted at last the army to take
breath and feed the wearied horses; then he was to return to Sandomir
by forced marches, and bend the King of Sweden to his fall.

Meanwhile Kharlamp came to the camp one evening with news from Sapyeha.
Charnyetski was at Chersk, whither he had gone to review the general
militia assembled at that town. Kharlamp, not finding the chief, betook
himself at once to Pan Michael, so as to rest at his quarters after the
long journey.

His friends greeted him joyously; but he, at the very beginning, showed
them a gloomy face and said,--

"I have heard of your victory. Fortune smiled here, but bore down on us
in Sandomir. Karl Gustav is no longer in the sack, for he got out, and,
besides, with great confusion to the Lithuanian troops."

"Can that be?" cried Pan Michael, seizing his head.

Pan Yan, Pan Stanislav, and Zagloba were as if fixed to the earth.

"How was it? Tell, by the living God, for I cannot stay in my skin!"

"Breath fails me yet," said Kharlamp; "I have ridden day and night, I
am terribly tired. Charnyetski will come, then I will tell all from the
beginning. Let me now draw breath a little."

"Then Karl has gone out of the sack. I foresaw that, did I not? Do you
not remember that I prophesied it? Let Kovalski testify."

"Uncle foretold it," said Roh.

"And whither has Karl gone?" asked Pan Michael.

"The infantry sailed down in boats; but he, with cavalry, has gone
along the Vistula to Warsaw."

"Was there a battle?"

"There was and there was not. In brief, give me peace, for I cannot
talk."

"But tell me one thing. Is Sapyeha crushed altogether?"

"How crushed! He is pursuing the king; but of course Sapyeha will never
come up with anybody."

"He is as good at pursuit as a German at fasting," said Zagloba.

"Praise be to God for even this, that the army is intact!" put in
Volodyovski.

"The Lithuanians have got into trouble!" said Zagloba. "Ah, it is a bad
case! Again we must watch a hole in the Commonwealth together."

"Say nothing against the Lithuanian army," said Kharlamp. "Karl Gustav
is a great warrior, and it is no wonder to lose against him. And did
not you, from Poland, lose at Uistsie, at Volbor, at Suleyov, and in
ten other places? Charnyetski himself lost at Golembo. Why should not
Sapyeha lose, especially when you left him alone like an orphan?"

"But why did we go to a dance at Varka?" asked Zagloba, with
indignation.

"I know that it was not a dance, but a battle, and God gave you the
victory. But who knows, perhaps it had been better not to go; for among
us they say that the troops of both nations (Lithuanian and Poland) may
be beaten separately, but together the cavalry of hell itself could not
manage them."

"That may be," said Volodyovski; "but what the leaders have decided is
not for us to discuss. This did not happen, either, without your
fault."

"Sapyo must have blundered; I know him!" said Zagloba.

"I cannot deny that," muttered Kharlamp.

They were silent awhile, but from time to time looked at one another
gloomily, for to them it seemed that the fortune of the Commonwealth
was beginning to sink, and yet such a short time before they were full
of hope and confidence.

"Charnyetski is coming!" said Volodyovski; and he went out of the room.

The castellan was really returning; Volodyovski went to meet him, and
began to call from a distance,--

"The King of Sweden has broken through the Lithuanian army, and escaped
from the sack. There is an officer here with letters from the voevoda
of Vilna."

"Bring him here!" cried Charnyetski. "Where is he?

"With me; I will present him at once."

Charnyetski took the news so much to heart that he would not wait, but
sprang at once from his saddle and entered Volodyovski's quarters.

All rose when they saw him enter; he barely nodded and said,--

"I ask for the letter!"

Kharlamp gave him a sealed letter. The castellan went to the window,
for it was dark in the cottage, and began to read with frowning brow
and anxious face. From instant to instant anger gleamed on his
countenance.

"The castellan has changed," whispered Zagloba to Pan Yan; "see how his
beak has grown red. He will begin to lisp right away, he always does
when in anger."

Charnyetski finished the letter. For a time he twisted his beard with
his whole hand; at last he called out with a jingling, indistinct
voice,--

"Come this way, officer!"

"At command of your worthiness!"

"Tell me the truth," said Charnyetski, with emphasis, "for this
narrative is so artfully put together that I am unable to get at the
affair. But--tell me the truth, do not color it--is the army
dispersed?"

"Not dispersed at all, your grace."

"How many days are needed to assemble it?"

Here Zagloba whispered to Pan Yan: "He wants to come at him from the
left hand as it were."

But Kharlamp answered without hesitation,--

"Since the army is not dispersed, it does not need to be assembled. It
is true that when I was leaving, about five hundred horse of the
general militia could not be found, were not among the fallen; but that
is a common thing, and the army does not suffer from that; the hetman
has even moved after the king in good order."

"You have lost no cannon?"

"Yes, we lost four, which the Swedes, not being able to take with them,
spiked."

"I see that you tell the truth; tell me then how everything happened."

"_Incipiam_ (I will begin)," said Kharlamp. "When we were left alone,
the enemy saw that there was no army on the Vistula, nothing but
parties and irregular detachments. We thought--or, properly speaking,
Pan Sapyeha thought--that the king would attack those, and he sent
reinforcements, but not considerable, so as not to weaken himself.
Meanwhile there was a movement and a noise among the Swedes, as in a
beehive. Toward evening they began to come out in crowds to the San. We
were at the voevoda's quarters. Pan Kmita, who is called Babinich now,
a soldier of the first degree, came up and reported this. But Pan
Sapyeha was just sitting down to a feast, to which a multitude of noble
women from Krasnik and Yanov had assembled--for the voevoda is fond of
the fair sex--"

"And he loves feasting!" interrupted Charnyetski.

"I am not with him; there is no one to incline him to temperance," put
in Zagloba.

"Maybe you will be with him sooner than you think; then you can both
begin to be temperate," retorted Charnyetski. Then he turned to
Kharlamp: "Speak on!"

"Babinich reported, and the voevoda answered: 'They are only pretending
to attack; they will undertake nothing! First,' said he, 'they will try
to cross the Vistula; but I have an eye on them, and I will attack
myself. At present,' said he, 'we will not spoil our pleasure, so that
we may have a joyous time! We will eat and drink.' The music began to
tear away, and the voevoda invited those present to the dance."

"I'll give him dancing!" interrupted Zagloba.

"Silence, if you please!" said Charnyetski.

"Again men rush in from the bank saying that there is a terrible
uproar. 'That's nothing!' the voevoda whispered to the page; 'do not
interrupt me!' We danced till daylight, we slept till midday. At midday
we see that the intrenchments are bristling, forty-eight pound guns on
them; and the Swedes fire from time to time. When a ball falls it is
the size of a bucket; it is nothing for such a one to fill the eyes
with dust."

"Give no embellishments!" interrupted Charnyetski; "you are not with
the hetman."

Kharlamp was greatly confused, and continued: "At midday the voevoda
himself went out. The Swedes under cover of these trenches began to
build a bridge. They worked till evening, to our great astonishment;
for we thought that as to building they would build, but as to crossing
they would not be able to do that. Next day they built on. The voevoda
put the troops in order, for he expected a battle."

"All this time the bridge was a pretext, and they crossed lower down
over another bridge, and turned your flank?" interrupted Charnyetski.

Kharlamp stared and opened his mouth, he was silent in amazement; but
at last said,--

"Then your worthiness has had an account already?"

"No need of that!" said Zagloba; "our grandfather guesses everything
concerning war on the wing, as if he had seen it in fact."

"Speak on!" said Charnyetski.

"Evening came. The troops were in readiness, but with the first star
there was a feast again. This time the Swedes passed over the second
bridge lower down, and attacked us at once. The squadron of Pan
Koshyts, a good soldier, was at the edge. He rushed on them. The
general militia which was next to him sprang to his aid; but when the
Swedes spat at them from the guns, they took to their heels. Pan
Koshyts was killed, and his men terribly cut up. Now the general
militia, rushing back in a crowd on the camp, put everything in
disorder. All the squadrons that were ready advanced; but we effected
nothing, lost cannon besides. If the king had had  more cannon and
infantry, our defeat would have been severe; but fortunately the
greater number of the infantry regiments with the cannon had sailed
away in boats during the night. Of this no one of us knew."

"Sapyo has blundered! I knew it beforehand!" cried Zagloba.

"We got the correspondence of the king," added Kharlamp, "which the
Swedes dropped. The soldiers read in it that the king is to go to
Prussia to return with the elector's forces, for, he writes, that with
Swedish troops alone he cannot succeed."

"I know of that," said Charnyetski. "Pan Sapyeha sent me that letter."
Then he muttered quietly, as if speaking to himself: "We must follow
him to Prussia."

"That is what I have been saying this long time," put in Zagloba.

Charnyetski looked at him for a while in thoughtfulness. "It is
unfortunate," said he, aloud; "for if I had returned to Sandomir the
hetman and I should not have let a foot of them out alive. Well! it has
passed and will not return. The war will be longer; but death is fated
to this invasion and to these invaders."

"It cannot be otherwise!" cried the knights in chorus; and great
consolation entered their hearts, though a short time before they had
doubted.

Meanwhile Zagloba whispered something in Jendzian's ear; he vanished
through the door, and soon returned with a decanter. Seeing this,
Volodyovski inclined to the knee of the castellan.

"It would be an uncommon favor for a simple soldier," he began.

"I will drink with you willingly," said Charnyetski; "and do you know
why?--because we must part."

"How is that?" cried the astonished Pan Michael.

"Sapyeha writes that the Lauda squadron belongs to the Lithuanian army,
and that he sent it only to assist the forces of the kingdom; that now
he will need it himself, especially the officers, of whom he has a
great lack. My Volodyovski, you know how much I love you; it is hard
for me to part with you, but here is the order. It is true Pan Sapyeha
as a courteous man leaves the order in my power and discretion. I might
not show it to you.--Well, it is as pleasant to me as if the hetman had
broken my best sabre. I give you the order precisely because it is left
to my discretion, and do your duty. To your health, my dear soldier!"

Volodyovski bowed again to the castellan's knees; but he was so
distressed that he could not utter a word, and when Charnyetski
embraced him tears ran in a stream over his yellow mustaches.

"I would rather die!" cried he, pitifully. "I have grown accustomed to
toil under you, revered leader, and there I know not how it will be."

"Pan Michael, do not mind the order," cried Zagloba, with emotion. "I
will write to Sapyo myself, and rub his ears for him fittingly."

But Pan Michael first of all was a soldier; therefore he flew into a
passion,--

"But the old volunteer is ever sitting in you. You would better be
silent when you know not the question. Service!"

"That is it," said Charnyetski.



                            CHAPTER XXXVII.


Zagloba when he stood before the hetman did not answer his joyous
greeting, but put his hands behind his back, pouted his lips, and
looked on him like a just but stern judge. Sapyeha was pleased when he
saw that mien, for he expected some pleasantry and said,--

"How are you, old rogue? Why twist your nose as if you had found some
unvirtuous odor?"

"In the whole camp of Sapyeha it smells of hashed meat and cabbage."

"Why? Tell me."

"Because the Swedes have cut up a great many cabbage-heads!"

"There you are! You are already criticising us. It is a pity they did
not cut you up too."

"I was with a leader under whom we are the cutters, not the cut."

"The hangman take you! if they had even clipped your tongue!"

"Then I should have nothing to proclaim Sapyeha's victory with."

"Ah, lord brother, spare me! The majority already forget my service to
the country, and belittle me altogether. I know too that there are many
who make a great outcry against my person; still, had it not been for
that rabble of a general militia, affairs might have gone differently.
They say that I have neglected the enemy for night feasting; but the
whole Commonwealth has not been able to resist that enemy."

Zagloba was somewhat moved at the words of the hetman, and answered,--

"Such is the custom with us, always to put the blame on the leader. I
am not the man to speak evil of feasting, for the longer the day, the
more needful the feast. Pan Charnyetski is a great warrior; still,
according to my head, he has this defect,--that he gives his troops for
breakfast, for dinner, and for supper nothing but Swedes' flesh. He is
a better leader than cook; but he acts ill, for from such food war may
soon become disgusting to the best cavaliers."

"Was Charnyetski very much enraged at me?"

"No, not very! In the beginning he showed a great change; but when he
discovered that the army was unbroken, he said at once: 'The will of
God, not the might of men! That is nothing! any general may lose a
battle. If we had Sapyehas only in the land, we should have a country
in which every man would be an Aristides.'"

"For Pan Charnyetski I would not spare my blood!" answered Sapyeha.
"Every other would have lowered me, so as to exalt himself and his own
glory, especially after a fresh victory; but he is not that kind of
man."

"I will say nothing against him but this,--that I am too old for such
service as he expects of soldiers, and especially for those baths which
he gives the army."

"Then are you glad to return to me?"

"Glad and not glad, for I hear of feasting for an hour, but somehow I
don't see it."

"We will sit down to the table this minute. But what is Charnyetski
undertaking now?"

"He is going to Great Poland to help those poor people; from there he
will march against Steinbock and to Prussia, hoping to get cannon and
infantry from Dantzig."

"The citizens of Dantzig are worthy people, and give a shining example
to the whole Commonwealth. We shall meet Charnyetski at Warsaw, for I
shall march there, but will stop a little first around Lublin."

"Then have the Swedes besieged Lublin again?"

"Unhappy place! I know not how many times it has been in the hands of
the enemy. There is a deputation here now from Lubelsk, and they will
appear with a petition asking me to save them. But as I have letters to
despatch to the king and the hetmans, they must wait awhile."

"I will go gladly to Lublin, for there the fair heads are comely beyond
measure, and sprightly. When a woman of that place is cutting bread,
and puts the loaf against herself, the crust on the lifeless bread
blushes from delight."

"Oh, Turk!"

"Your worthiness, as a man advanced in years, cannot understand this;
but I, like May, must let my blood out yet."

"But you are older than I."

"Only in experience, not in years. I have been able _conservare
juventutem meam_ (to preserve my youth), and more than one man has
envied me that power. Permit me, your worthiness, to receive the
Lubelsk deputation. I will promise to aid them at once; let the poor
men comfort themselves before we comfort the poor women."

"That is well," said the hetman; "then I will write the letters." And
he went out.

Immediately after were admitted the deputies from Lubelsk, whom Zagloba
received with uncommon dignity and seriousness. He promised assistance
on condition that they would furnish the army with provisions,
especially with every kind of drink. When the conditions were settled,
he invited them in the name of the voevoda to supper. They were glad,
for the army marched that night toward Lublin. The hetman himself was
active beyond measure, for it was a question with him of effacing the
memory of the Sandomir defeat by some military success.

The siege began, but advanced rather slowly. During this time Kmita was
learning from Volodyovski to work with the sabre, and made uncommon
progress. Pan Michael, knowing that his art was to be used against
Boguslav's neck, held back no secret. Often too they had better
practice; for, approaching the castle, they challenged to single combat
the Swedes, many of whom they slew. Soon Kmita had made such advance
that he could meet Pan Yan on equal terms; no one in the whole army of
Sapyeha could stand before him. Then such a desire to try Boguslav
seized his soul that he was barely able to remain at Lublin, especially
since the spring brought back to him strength and health. His wounds
had healed, he ceased to spit blood, life played in him as of old, and
fire gleamed in his eyes. At first the Lauda men looked at him
frowningly; but they dared in not attack, for Volodyovski held them
with iron hand; and later, when they considered his acts and his deeds,
they were reconciled completely, and his most inveterate enemy, Yuzva
Butrym, said,--

"Kmita is dead; Babinich is living, let him live."

The Lubelsk garrison surrendered at last, to the great delight of the
army; then Sapyeha moved his squadrons toward Warsaw. On the road they
received tidings that Yan Kazimir himself, with the hetmans and a fresh
army, was advancing to aid them. News came too from Charnyetski, who
was marching to the capital from Great Poland. The war, scattered
through the whole country, was gathering at Warsaw, as a cloud
scattered in the sky gathers and thickens to give birth to a storm with
thunders and lightnings.

Sapyeha marched through Jelehi, Garvolin, and Minsk to the Syedlets
highway, to join the general militia of Podlyasye. Pan Yan took command
of this multitude; for though living in Lubelsk, he was near the
boundary of Podlyasye, and was known to all the nobles, and greatly
esteemed by them as one of the most famous knights in the Commonwealth.
In fact, he soon changed that nobility, gallant by nature, into a
squadron second in no way to regular troops.

Meanwhile they moved from Minsk forward to Warsaw very hastily, so as
to stop at Praga one day. Fair weather favored the march. From time to
time May showers sped past, cooling the ground and settling the dust;
but on the whole the weather was marvellously fair,--not too hot, not
too cold. The eye saw far through the transparent air. From Minsk they
went mounted; the wagons and cannon were to follow next day. An immense
eagerness reigned in the regiments; the dense forests on both sides of
the whole road were ringing with echoes of military songs, the horses
nodded as a good omen. The squadrons regularly and in order flowed on,
one after the other, like a river shining and mighty; for Sapyeha led
twelve thousand men, besides the general militia. The captains leading
the regiments were gleaming in their polished cuirasses; the red flags
waved like gigantic flowers above the heads of the knights.

The sun was well toward its setting when the first squadron, that of
Lauda, marching in advance, beheld the towers of the capital. At sight
of this, a joyful shout tore from the breasts of the soldiers.

"Warsaw! Warsaw!"

That shout flew like thunder through all the squadrons, and for some
time was to be heard over two miles of road the word, "Warsaw! Warsaw!"

Many of Sapyeha's knights had never been in the capital; many of them
had never seen it; therefore the sight made an uncommon impression on
them. Involuntarily all reined in their horses; some removed their
caps, others made the sign of the cross; tears streamed from the eyes
of others, and they stood in silent emotion. All at once Sapyeha came
out from the rear ranks on a white horse, and began to fly along the
squadrons.

"Gentlemen!" cried he, in a piercing voice, "we are here first! To us
luck, to us honor! We will drive the Swedes out of the capital!"

"We'll drive them! We'll drive them! We'll drive them!"

And there rose a sound and a thunder. Some shouted continually, "We'll
drive them!" Others cried, "Strike, whoso has manhood!" Others,
"Against them, the dog-brothers!" The rattle of sabres was mingled with
the shouts of the knights. Eyes flashed lightning, and from under
fierce mustaches teeth were gleaming. Sapyeha himself was sputtering
like a pine torch. All at once he raised his baton, and cried,--

"Follow me!"

Near Praga the voevoda restrained the squadron and commanded a slow
march. The capital rose more and more clearly out of the bluish
distance. Towers were outlined in a long line on the azure of the sky.
The red many-storied roofs of the Old City were gleaming in the evening
light. The Lithuanians had never seen anything more imposing in their
lives than those white lofty walls pierced with multitudes of narrow
windows; those walls standing like lofty swamp-reeds over the water.
The houses seemed to grow some out of others, high and still higher;
but above that dense and close mass of walls with windows and roofs,
pointed towers pierced the sky. Those of the soldiers who had been in
the capital previously, either at an election or on private affairs,
explained to the others what each pile meant and what name it bore.
Zagloba especially, as a person of experience, told all to the Lauda
men, and they listened to him eagerly, wondering at his words and the
city itself.

"Look at that tower in the very centre of Warsaw! That is the citadel
of the king. Oh that I could live as many years as I have eaten dinners
at the king's table! I would twist Methuselah into a ram's horn. The
king had no nearer confidant than me; I could choose among
starostaships as among nuts, and give them away as easily as hob-nails.
I have given promotion to multitudes of men, and when I came in
senators used to bow to me to the girdle, in Cossack fashion. I fought
duels also in presence of the king, for he loved to see me at work; the
marshal of the palace had to close his eyes."

"That is a tremendous building!" said Roh Kovalski: "and to think that
these dogs have it all in hand!"

"And they plunder terribly," added Zagloba. "I hear that they even take
columns out of the walls and send them to Sweden; these columns are of
marble and other valuable stones. I shall not recognize the dear
corners; various writers justly describe this castle as the eighth
wonder of the world. The King of France has a respectable palace, but
it is a fool in comparison with this one."

"And that other tower over there near it, on the right?"

"That is St. Yan. There is a gallery from the castle to it. I had a
vision in that church, for I remained behind once after vespers; I
heard a voice from the arches, crying, 'Zagloba, there will be war with
such a son the Swedish king, and great calamities will follow.' I was
running with all my breath to the king to tell him what I had heard,
when the primate caught me by the neck with his crosier. 'Don't tell
follies,' said he; 'you were drunk!' That other church just at the side
belongs to the Jesuit college; the third tower at a distance is the law
courts; the fourth at the right is the marshals, and that green roof is
the Dominicans. I could not name them all, even if I could wield my
tongue as well as I do my sabre."

"It must be that there is not another such city in the world," said one
of the soldiers.

"That is why all nations envy us!" answered Zagloba.

"And that wonderful pile on the left of the castle?"

"Behind the Bernardines?"

"Yes."

"That is the Radzeyovski Palace, formerly the Kazanovski. It is
considered the ninth wonder of the world; but there is a plague on it,
for in those walls began the misfortune of the Commonwealth."

"How is that?" asked a number of voices.

"When the vice-chancellor Radzeyovski began to dispute and quarrel with
his wife, the king took her part. You know, gentlemen, what people said
of this; and it is true that the vice-chancellor thought that his wife
was in love with the king, and the king with her; then afterward,
through hatred, he fled to the Swedes, and war began. To tell the
truth, I was in the country at the moment, and did not see the end of
the affair, I got it from hearsay; but I know this, that she made sweet
eyes, not at the king, but at some one else."

"At whom?"

Zagloba began to twirl his mustaches: "At him to whom all are hurrying
like ants to honey; but it does not beseem me to mention his name, for
I have always hated boastfulness. Besides, the man has grown old, and
from sweeping out the enemy of the country, I am worn as a broom; but
once there was no greater beauty and love maker than I. Let Rob
Kovalski--"

Here Zagloba saw that by no means could Roh remember those times;
therefore he waved his hand, and said,--

"But what does he know of this affair?"

Then he pointed out the palaces of Ossolinski and Konyetspolski,
palaces which were in size almost equal to the Radzeyovski; finally the
splendid villa Regia; and then the sun went down, and the darkness of
night began to fill the air.

The thunder of guns was heard on the walls of Warsaw, and trumpets were
sounded a considerable time and prolonged, in sign that the enemy was
approaching.

Sapyeha also announced his coming by firing from muskets, to give
courage to the inhabitants; and that night he began to transport his
army across the Vistula. First the Lauda squadron passed; second the
squadron of Pan Kotvich; then Kmita's Tartars; then Vankovich's
squadron; after that, eight thousand men. In this way the Swedes, with
their accumulated plunder, were surrounded and deprived of
communication; but nothing remained to Sapyeha except to wait till
Charnyetski from one side, and from the other Yan Kazimir with the
hetmans of the kingdom, marched up, and meanwhile to see that no
reinforcements stole through to the city.

The first news came from Charnyetski, but not overfavorable, for he
reported that his troops and horses were so exhausted that at that
moment he could not take part in the siege. From the time of the battle
of Varka, they were under fire day after day; and from the first months
of the year they had fought twenty-one great battles with the Swedes,
not counting the engagements of scouting-parties and the attacks on
smaller detachments. He had not obtained infantry in Pomerania, and had
not been able to advance to Dantzig; he promised, at most, to hold in
check with the rest of his forces that Swedish army which under the
brother of the king, Radzivill, and Douglas, was stationed at Narev,
and apparently was preparing to come to the aid of the besieged.

The Swedes prepared for defence with the bravery and skill peculiar to
them. They burned Praga before the arrival of Sapyeha; they had begun
already to throw bombs into all the suburbs, such as the Cracow and the
Novy-Sviat, and on the other side against the church of St. Yerzy and
the Virgin Mary. Then houses, great buildings, and churches flamed up.
In the daytime smoke rolled over the city like clouds, thick and dark.
At night those clouds became red, and bundles of sparks burst forth
from them toward the sky. Outside the walls, crowds of people were
wandering, without roofs over their heads, without bread; women
surrounded Sapyeha's camp, and cried for charity; people were seen as
thin as pincers from hunger; children were dying for want of food, in
the arms of emaciated mothers; the suburbs were turned into a vale of
tears and misery.

Sapyeha, having neither infantry nor cannon, waited and waited for the
coming of the king. Meanwhile he aided the poor, sending them in groups
to the less injured neighborhoods, in which they might survive in some
way. He was troubled not a little when he foresaw the difficulties of
the siege, for the skilled engineers of Sweden had turned Warsaw into a
strong fortress. Behind the walls were three thousand trained soldiers,
led by able and experienced generals; on the whole, the Swedes passed
as masters in besieging and defending great fortresses. To solace this
trouble, Sapyeha arranged daily feasts, during which the goblets
circled freely; for that worthy citizen and uncommon warrior had this
failing,--he loved company and the clatter of glasses above all things,
and therefore neglected frequently service for pleasure.

His diligence in the daytime he balanced by negligence at night. Till
sunset he worked faithfully, sent out scouts, despatched letters,
inspected pickets himself, examined the informants brought in; but with
the first star even fiddles were heard in his quarters. And when once
he felt joyous he permitted everything, sent for officers even though
on guard or appointed to scouting expeditions, and was angry if any one
failed to appear, since for him there was no feast without a throng. In
the morning Zagloba reproached him seriously, but in the night the
servants bore Zagloba himself without consciousness to Volodyovski's
quarters.

"Sapyeha would make a saint fall," he explained next day to his
friends; "and what must happen to me, who have been always fond of
sport? Besides, he has some kind of special passion to force goblets on
me, and I, not wishing to seem rude, yield to his pressing; this I do
to avoid offending the host. But I have made a vow that at the coming
Advent I shall have my back well covered with discipline (stripes), for
I understand myself that this yielding cannot remain without penance;
but now I have to keep on good terms with him, out of fear that I might
fall into worse company and indulge myself altogether."

There were officers who without the eye of the hetman accomplished
their service; but some neglected it terribly in the evenings, as
ordinary soldiers do when they feel no iron hand above them.

The enemy was not slow to take advantage of this. Two days before the
coming of the king and the hetmans, Sapyeha arranged his most splendid
feast, for he was rejoiced that all the troops were coming, and that
the siege would begin in earnest. All the best known officers were
invited; the hetman, ever in search of an opportunity, announced that
that feast would be in honor of the king. To Kmita, Zagloba, Pan Yan,
Pan Stanislav, and Kharlamp were sent special orders to come without
fail, for the hetman wished to honor them particularly for their great
services. Pan Andrei had just mounted his horse to go with a party, so
that the orderly found the Tartars outside the gate.

"You cannot show the hetman disrespect, and return rudeness for
kindness," said the officer.

Kmita dismounted and went to ask advice of his comrades.

"This is dreadfully awkward for me," said he. "I have heard that a
considerable body of cavalry has appeared near Babitsi. The hetman
himself commanded me to learn absolutely who they are, and now he asks
me to the feast. What must I do?"

"The hetman has sent an order to let Akbah Ulan go with the
scouting-party," answered the officer.

"An order is an order!" said Zagloba, "and whoso is a soldier must
obey. Be careful not to give an evil example; and besides it would not
be well for you to incur the ill-will of the hetman."

"Say that I will come," said Kmita to the orderly.

The officer went out. The Tartars rode off under Akbah Ulan; and Kmita
began to dress a little, and while dressing said to his comrades,--

"To-day there is a feast in honor of his Royal Grace; to-morrow there
will be one in honor of the hetmans of the kingdom, and so on to the
end of the siege."

"Only let the king come and this will be at an end," answered
Volodyovski; "for though our gracious lord is fond of amusing himself
in every trouble, still service must go on more diligently, since every
man, and among others Pan Sapyeha, will endeavor to show his zeal."

"We have had too much of this, too much! There is no question on that
point," said Pan Yan. "Is it not a wonder to you that such a laborious
leader, such a virtuous man, such a worthy citizen, has this weakness?"

"Just let night come and straightway he is another person, and from a
grand hetman turns into a reveller."

"But do you know why these banquets are not to my taste?" asked Kmita.
"It was the custom of Yanush Radzivill to have them almost every
evening. Imagine that, as if by some wonder, whenever there was a
banquet, either some misfortune happened, some evil tidings came, or
some new treason of the hetman was published. I do not know whether it
was blind chance or an ordinance of God; but it is enough that evil
never came except in time of a banquet. I tell you that at last it went
so far that whenever they were setting the table the skin began to
creep on us."

"True, as God is dear to me!" added Kharlamp. "But it came from this,
that the prince hetman chose that time to announce his intrigues with
the enemy of the country."

"Well," said Zagloba, "at least we have nothing to fear from the honest
Sapyeha. If he will ever be a traitor, I am of as much value as my
boot-heel."

"There is nothing to be said on that point. He is as honest as bread
without a raw spot," put in Pan Michael.

"And what he neglects in the evening he repairs in the day-time," added
Kharlamp.

"Then we will go," said Zagloba, "for to tell the truth I feel a void
in my stomach."

They went out, mounted their horses, and rode off; for Sapyeha was on
the other side of the city and rather far away. When they arrived at
the hetman's quarters they found in the yard a multitude of horses, and
a crowd of grooms, for whom a keg of beer had been set out, and who, as
is usual, drinking without measure, had begun to quarrel; they grew
quiet, however, at sight of the approaching knights, especially when
Zagloba fell to striking with the side of his sabre those who were in
his way, and to crying with a stentorian voice: "To your horses,
rascals, to your horses! You are not the persons invited to the
banquet."

Sapyeha received the officers as usual, with open arms; and since he
had been drinking a little with his guests, he began at once to tease
Zagloba.

"With the forehead, Lord Commander!" said he.

"With the forehead, Lord Kiper," answered Zagloba.

"If you call me that," said Sapyeha, "I will give you wine which is
working yet."

"Very good, if it will make a tippler of a hetman!"

Some of the guests, hearing this, were alarmed; but Zagloba, when he
saw the hetman in good humor, permitted himself everything, and Sapyeha
had such a weakness for Zagloba that he not only was not angry, but he
held his sides, and called those present to witness what he endured
from that noble.

Then began a noisy and joyous banquet. Sapyeha drank to each guest
separately, raised toasts to the king, the hetmans, the armies of both
peoples (Poland and Lithuania), Pan Charnyetski, the whole
Commonwealth. Pleasure increased, and with it noise and talk. From
toasts it came to songs. The room was filled with steam from the heads
of the guests, and the odor of mead and wines. From outside the windows
came in no less of an uproar, and even the noise of steel. The servants
had begun to fight with sabres. Some nobles rushed out to restore
order, but they increased the confusion.

Suddenly there rose a shout so great that the banqueters in the hall
became silent.

"What is that?" asked one of the colonels. "The grooms cannot make such
an uproar as that."

"Silence, gentlemen!" said the hetman, disturbed.

"Those are not ordinary shouts!"

All at once the windows shook from the thunder of cannon and discharges
of musketry.

"A sortie!" cried Volodyovski; "the enemy is advancing!"

"To horse! To sabres!"

All sprang to their feet. There was a throng at the door; then a crowd
of officers rushed to the yard, calling to their grooms for horses.

But in the disturbance it was not easy for each one to find his own.
Meanwhile from beyond the yard alarmed voices began to shout in the
darkness,--

"The enemy is advancing! Pan Kotvich is under fire!"

All rushed with what breath was in their horses to their squadrons,
jumping over fences and breaking their necks in the darkness. An alarm
began in the whole camp. Not all the squadrons had horses at hand, and
those who had not began the uproar first of all. Throngs of soldiers on
foot and on horseback struck against one another, not being able to
come to order, not knowing who was a friend and who an enemy, shouting
and roaring in the middle of the dark night. Some cried that the King
of Sweden was advancing with his whole army.

The Swedish sortie had really struck with a mighty impetus on Kotvich's
men. Fortunately, being sick, he was not at the banquet, and therefore
could offer some kind of immediate resistance; still it was not a long
one, for he was attacked by superior numbers and covered with musketry
fire, hence was forced to retreat. Oskyerko came first to his
assistance with his dragoons. They answered musketry fire with musketry
fire. But neither could Oskyerko's dragoons withstand the pressure, and
in a moment they began to withdraw more and more hastily, leaving the
ground covered with corpses. Twice did Oskyerko endeavor to bring them
to order, and twice was he beaten back, so that the soldiers could only
cover their retreat by firing in groups. At last they scattered
completely; but the Swedes pressed on like an irrepressible torrent
toward the hetman's quarters. More and more regiments issued from the
city to the field; after the infantry came cavalry; they brought out
even field-guns. It looked like a general battle, and it seemed as
though the enemy sought one.

Volodyovski, rushing from the hetman's quarters, met his own squadron,
which was always in readiness, half way, going toward the sound of the
alarm and the shots. It was led by Roh Kovalski, who, like Kotvich, was
not at the banquet; but Roh was not there because he had not been
invited. Volodyovski gave orders to set fire with all speed to a couple
of sheds, so as to light up the field, and he hurried to the battle. On
the road he was joined by Kmita with his terrible volunteers, and that
half of the Tartars which had not gone on the scouting expedition. Both
came just in time to save Kotvich and Oskyerko from utter disaster.

The sheds had now blazed up so well that everything could be seen as at
noontide. In this light the Lauda men, aided by Kmita, struck the
infantry regiments, and passing through their fire took them on sabres.
The Swedish cavalry sprang to assist their own men, and closed mightily
with the Lauda squadron. For a certain time they struggled exactly like
two wrestlers who seizing each other by the bodies use their last
strength,--now this one bends the other, and now the other bends this;
but men fell so frequently in their ranks that at last the Swedes began
to be confused. Kmita with his fighters rushed into the thick of the
struggle. Volodyovski as usual cleared an opening; near him the two
gigantic Skshetuskis fought, and Kharlamp with Roh Kovalski; the Lauda
men emulated Kmita's fighters,--some shouting terribly, others, as the
Butryms, rolling on in a body and in silence.

New regiments rushed forward to the aid of the broken Swedes; but
Vankovich, whose quarters were near Volodyovski's and Kmita's, was a
little later than they and supported them. At last the hetman led all
the troops to the engagement, and began to advance in order. A fierce
battle sprang up along the whole line from Mokotov to the Vistula.

Then Akbah Ulan, who had gone with the scouts, appeared on a foaming
horse before the hetman.

"Effendi!" cried he; "a chambul of cavalry is marching from Babitsi to
the city, and convoying wagons; they wish to enter the gates."

Sapyeha understood in one moment what that sortie in the direction of
Mokotov meant. The enemy wished to draw away troops on the meadow road,
so that that auxiliary cavalry and a provision train might enter the
gates.

"Run to Volodyovski!" cried the hetman to Akbah Ulan; "let the Lauda
squadron, Kmita, and Vankovich stop the road. I will send them
reinforcements at once."

Akbah Ulan put spurs to his horse; after him flew one, and a second,
and a third orderly. All rushed to Volodyovski and repeated the order
of the hetman.

Volodyovski turned his squadron immediately; Kmita and the Tartars
caught up with him; going across the field, they shot on together, and
Vankovich after them.

But they arrived too late. Nearly two hundred wagons had entered the
gate; a splendid detachment of cavalry following them was almost within
radius of the fortress. Only the rearguard, composed of about one
hundred men, had not come yet under cover of the artillery. But these
too were going with all speed. The officer, riding behind, urged them
on.

Kmita, seeing them by the light of the burning shed, gave forth such a
piercing and terrible shout, that the horses at his side were
frightened; he recognized Boguslav's cavalry, that same which had
ridden over him and his Tartars at Yanov.

Mindful of nothing, he rushed like a madman toward them, passed his own
men, and fell first blindly among their ranks. Fortunately the two
Kyemliches, Kosma and Damian, sitting on the foremost horses, rode with
him. At that moment Volodyovski struck the flank like lightning, and
with this one blow cut off the rearguard from the main body.

Cannon began to thunder from the walls; but the main division,
sacrificing their comrades, rushed in with all speed after the wagons.
Then the Lauda men and Kmita's forces surrounded the rearguard as with
a ring, and a merciless slaughter began.

But it was of short duration. Boguslav's men, seeing that there was no
rescue on any side, sprang from their horses in a moment, threw down
their weapons, and shouted with sky-piercing voices, heard in the
throng and the uproar, that they surrendered.

Neither the volunteers nor the Tartars regarded their shouts, but hewed
on. At this moment was heard the threatening and shrill voice of
Volodyovski, who wanted informants,--

"Stop! stop! take them alive!"

"Take them alive!" cried Kmita.

The biting of steel ceased. The Tartars were commanded to bind the
enemy, and with the skill peculiar to them they did this in a twinkle;
then the squadrons pushed back hastily from the cannon-fire. The
colonels marched toward the sheds,--the Lauda men in advance, Vankovich
in the rear, and Kmita, with the prisoners, in the centre, all in
perfect readiness to repulse attack should it come. Some of the Tartars
led prisoners on leashes; others of them led captured horses. Kmita,
when he came near the sheds, looked carefully into the faces of the
prisoners to see if Boguslav was among them; for though one of them had
sworn under a sword-point that the prince was not in the detachment,
still Kmita thought that perhaps they were hiding him purposely. Then
some voice from under the stirrup of a Tartar cried to him,--

"Pan Kmita! Colonel! Rescue an acquaintance! Give command to free me
from the rope on parole."

"Hassling!" cried Kmita.

Hassling was a Scot, formerly an officer in the cavalry of the voevoda
of Vilna, whom Kmita knew in Kyedani, and in his time loved much.

"Let the prisoner go free!" cried he to the Tartar, "and down from the
horse yourself!"

The Tartar sprang from the saddle as if the wind had carried him off,
for he knew the danger of loitering when the "bagadyr" commanded.

Hassling, groaning, climbed into the Tartar's lofty saddle. Kmita then
caught him above the palm, and pressing his hand as if he wished to
crush it, began to ask insistently,--

"Whence do you come? Tell me quickly, whence do you come? For God's
sake, tell quickly!"

"From Taurogi," answered the officer.

Kmita pressed him still more.

"But--Panna Billevich--is she there?"

"She is."

Pan Andrei spoke with still greater difficulty, for he pressed his
teeth still more closely.

"And--what has the prince done with her?"

"He has not succeeded in doing anything."

Silence followed; after a while Kmita removed his lynxskin cap, drew
his hand over his forehead and said,--

"I was struck in the battle; blood is leaving me, and I have grown
weak."



                            CHAPTER XXXVIII.


The sortie had attained its object only in part; though Boguslav's
division had entered the city, the sortie itself had not done great
things. It is true that Pan Kotvich's squadron and Oskyerko's dragoons
had suffered seriously; but the Swedes too had strewn the field with
many corpses, and one regiment of infantry, which Volodyovski and
Vankovich had struck, was almost destroyed. The Lithuanians boasted
that they had inflicted greater loss on the enemy than they had endured
themselves. Pan Sapyeha alone suffered internally, because a new
"confusion" had met him from which his fame might be seriously
affected. The colonels attached to the hetman comforted him as well as
they could; and to tell the truth this lesson was useful, for
henceforward he had no more such wild banquets, and if there was some
pleasure the greatest watchfulness was observed during the time of its
continuance. The Swedes were caught the day after. Supposing that the
hetman would not expect a repetition of the sortie so soon, they came
outside the walls again; but driven from their ground and leaving a
number of dead, they returned.

Meanwhile they were examining Hassling in the hetman's quarters; this
made Pan Andrei so impatient that he almost sprang out of his skin, for
he wished to have the Scot to himself at the earliest, and talk with
him touching Taurogi. He prowled about the quarters all day, went in
every little while, listened to the statements, and sprang up whenever
Boguslav's name was mentioned in the question.

But in the evening he received an order to go on a scouting expedition.
He said nothing, only set his teeth; for he had changed greatly
already, and had learned to defer private affairs for public service.
But he pushed the Tartars terribly during the expedition, burst out in
anger at the least cause, and struck with his baton till the bones
cracked. They said one to another that the "bagadyr" was mad, and
marched silently, as silently as cowards, looking only to the eyes of
the leader and guessing his thoughts on the wing.

On returning he found Hassling in his quarters, but so ill that he
could not speak, for his capture had affected him so cruelly that after
the additional torture of a whole day's inquisition he had a fever, and
did not understand what was said to him. Kmita therefore was forced to
be satisfied with what Zagloba told of Hassling's statements; but they
touched only public, not private affairs. Of Boguslav the young officer
said only this,--that after his return from the expedition to Podlyasye
and the defeat at Yanov he had become terribly ill from rage and
melancholy; he fell into a fever, but as soon as he had recovered
somewhat, he moved with his troops to Pomerania, whither Steinbock and
the elector invited him most earnestly.

"But where is he now?" asked Kmita.

"According to what Hassling tells me, and he has no reason to lie, he
is with the king's brother, at the fortified camp on the Narev and the
Bug, where Boguslav is commanding a whole cavalry division," answered
Zagloba.

"Ha! and they think to come here with succor to the besieged. We shall
meet, as God is in heaven, even if I had to go to him in disguise."

"Do not grow angry for nothing! To Warsaw they would be glad to come
with succor, but they cannot, for Charnyetski has placed himself in
their way. Having neither infantry nor cannon, he cannot attack their
camp, and they are afraid to go out against him, for they know that
their soldiers could not withstand his in the field, and they know too
that if they went out, they could not shield themselves with the river.
If the king himself were there he would give battle, for under his
command the soldiers fight better, being confident that he is a great
warrior; but neither Douglas, nor the king's brother, nor Prince
Boguslav, though all three are daring men, would venture against
Charnyetski."

"But where is the king?"

"He has gone to Prussia. The king does not believe that we are before
Warsaw already, and that we shall capture Wittemberg. But whether he
believes or not, he had to go for two reasons,--first, because he must
win over the elector, even at the price of all Great Poland; second,
because the army, which he led out of the sack, is of no use until it
has rested. Toil, watching, and continual alarms have so gnawed it that
the soldiers are not able to hold muskets in their hands; and still
they are the choicest regiments in the whole army, which through all
the German and Danish regions have won famous victories."

Further conversation was interrupted by the coming of Volodyovski.

"How is Hassling?" asked he on the threshold.

"He is sick and imagines every folly," answered Kmita.

"And you, my dear Michael, what do you want of Hassling?" asked
Zagloba.

"Just as if you do not know!"

"I could not know that it is a question with you of that cherry-tree
which Prince Boguslav has planted in his garden. He is a diligent
gardener; he does not need to wait a year for fruit."

"I wish you were killed for such jokes!" cried the little knight.

"Look at him, tell him the most innocent thing, and immediately his
mustaches are quivering like the horns of a mad grasshopper. In what am
I to blame? Seek vengeance on Boguslav, not on me."

"God grant me to seek and to find!"

"Just now Babinich has said the same! Before long I see that he will
raise the whole army against the prince; but Boguslav is taking good
care of himself, and without my stratagems you will not be able to
succeed."

Here both young men sprang to their feet and asked,--

"Have you any stratagems?"

"But do you think it is as easy to take a stratagem out of the head as
a sabre out of the sheath? If Boguslav were here, surely I should find
more than one; but at that distance, not only a stratagem, but a cannon
will not strike. Pan Andrei, give orders to bring me a goblet of mead,
for it is hot here to-day."

"I'll give you a keg of it if you will invent something."

"First, why do you stand over this Hassling like an executioner? He is
not the only man captured; you can ask others."

"I have already tortured others, but they are common soldiers; they
know nothing, but he, as an officer, was at the court," answered Kmita.

"That is a reason!" answered Zagloba. "I must talk with him too; from
what he tells me of the person and ways of Prince Boguslav, stratagems
may be important. Now the main thing is to finish the siege soon, for
afterward we shall move surely against that army on the Narev. But
somehow our gracious lord and the hetmans are a long time invisible."

"How so?" asked Volodyovski. "I have returned this minute from the
hetman, who has just received news that the king will take up position
here this evening with the auxiliary divisions, and the hetmans with
cavalry will come to-morrow. They are advancing from Sokal itself,
resting but little, making forced marches. Besides, it has been known
for two days that they are almost in sight."

"Are they bringing many troops?"

"Nearly five times as many as Sapyeha has, infantry Russian and
Hungarian, very excellent; six thousand Tartars under Suba Gazi, but
probably it is impossible to let them out for even a day, for they are
very self-willed and plunder all around."

"Better give them to Pan Andrei to lead," said Zagloba.

"Yes," said Kmita, "I should lead them straightway from Warsaw, for
they are of no use in a siege; I should take them to the Bug and the
Narev."

"They are of use," replied Volodyovski, "for none can see better than
they that provisions do not enter the fortress."

"Well, it will be warm for Wittemberg. Wait, old criminal!" cried
Zagloba. "You have warred well, I will not deny that, but you have
robbed and plundered still better; you had two mouths,--one for false
oaths, the other for breaking promises,--but this time you will not beg
off with both of them. The Gallic disease will dry up your skin, and
doctors will tear it from you; but we will flay you better, Zagloba's
head for that!"

"Nonsense! he will surrender on conditions to the king, who will not do
anything to him," answered Pan Michael; "and we shall have to give him
military honors besides."

"He will yield on conditions, will he? Indeed!" cried Zagloba. "We
shall see!"

Here he began to pound the table with such force that Roh Kovalski, who
was coming in at the moment, was frightened and stood as if fixed to
the threshold.

"May I serve as a waiting-lad to Jews," shouted the old man, "if I let
free out of Warsaw that blasphemer of the faith, that robber of
churches, that oppressor of widows, that executioner of men and women,
that hangman's assistant, that ruffian, that blood-spiller and
money-grabber, that purse-gnawer, that flayer! All right! The king will
let him out on conditions; but I, as I am a Catholic, as I am Zagloba,
as I wish for happiness during life and desire God at death, will make
such a tumult against him as no man has ever heard of in this
Commonwealth before! Don't wave your hand, Pan Michael! I'll make a
tumult! I repeat it, I'll make a tumult!"

"Uncle will make a tumult!" thundered Roh Kovalski.

Just then Akbah Ulan thrust in his beast-like face at the door.

"Effendi!" said he to Kmita, "the armies of the king are visible beyond
the Vistula."

All sprang to their feet and rushed forth.

The king had come indeed. First arrived the Tartar squadrons, under
Suba Gazi, but not in such numbers as was expected; after them came the
troops of the kingdom, many and well armed, and above all full of
ardor. Before evening the whole army had passed the bridge freshly
built by Oskyerko. Sapyeha was waiting for the king with squadrons
drawn out as if ready for battle, standing one by the side of the
other, like an immense wall, the end of which it was difficult to reach
with the eye. The captains stood before the regiments; near them the
standard-bearers, each with lowered ensign; the trumpets, kettle-drums,
crooked trumpets, and drums made a noise indescribable. The squadrons
of the kingdom, in proportion as they passed, stood just opposite the
Lithuanians in line; between one and the other army was an interval of
a hundred paces.

Sapyeha with baton in hand went on foot to that open space; after him
the chief civil and military dignitaries. On the other side, from the
armies of the kingdom approached the king on a splendid Frisian horse,
given him by Lyubomirski; he was arrayed as if for battle, in light
armor of blue and gold, from under which was to be seen a black velvet
kaftan, with a lace collar coming out on the breastplate, but instead
of a helmet he wore the ordinary Swedish hat, with black feathers; but
he wore military gloves, and long yellow boots coming far above his
knees.

After him rode the papal nuncio, the archbishop of Lvoff, the bishop of
Kamenyets, the priest Tsyetsishovski, the voevoda of Cracow, the
voevoda of Rus, Baron Lisola, Count Pöttingen, Pan Kamenyetski, the
ambassador of Moscow, Pan Grodzitski, general of artillery, Tyzenhauz,
and many others. Sapyeha advanced as marshal of the kingdom to hold the
king's stirrup; but the king sprang lightly from the saddle, hurried to
Sapyeha and without saying a word, seized him in his embrace.

And Yan Kazimir held him a long time, in view of both armies; silent
all the while, but tears flowed down his cheeks in a stream, for he
pressed to his bosom the truest servant of the king and the country,--a
man who, though he did not equal others in genius, though he even erred
at times, still soared in honesty above all the lords of that
Commonwealth, never wavered in loyalty, sacrificed without a moment's
thought his whole fortune, and from the beginning of the war exposed
his breast for his king and the country.

The Lithuanians, who had whispered previously among themselves that
perhaps reprimands would meet Pan Sapyeha because he had let Karl
Gustav escape from near Sandomir and for the recent carelessness at
Warsaw, or at least a cool reception, seeing this heartiness of the
king, raised in honor of the kindly monarch a tremendous heaven-echoing
shout. The armies of the kingdom answered it immediately with one
thunder-roll, and for some time above the noise of the music, the
rattle of drums, the roar of musketry, were heard only these shouts,--

"Vivat Yoannes Casimirus!"

"Long life to the armies of the crown!"

"Long life to the Lithuanians!"

So they greeted one another at Warsaw. The walls trembled, and behind
the walls the Swedes.

"I shall bellow, as God is dear to me!" cried Zagloba, with emotion; "I
cannot restrain myself. See our king, our father!--gracious gentlemen,
I am blubbering,--our father, our king! the other day a wanderer
deserted by all; now here--now here are a hundred thousand sabres at
call! merciful God! I cannot keep from tears; yesterday a wanderer,
to-day the Emperor of Germany has not such good soldiers--"

Here the sluices were opened in the eyes of Zagloba, and he began to
sob time after time; then he turned suddenly to Roh,--

"Be silent! what are you whimpering about?"

"And is Uncle not whimpering?" answered Roh.

"True, as God is dear to me!--I was ashamed, gracious gentlemen, of
this Commonwealth. But now I would not change with any nation! A
hundred thousand sabres,--let others show the like. God has brought
them to their minds; God has given this, God has given it!"

Zagloba had not made a great mistake, for really there were nearly
seventy thousand men at Warsaw, not counting Charnyetski's division,
which had not arrived yet, and not counting the armed camp attendants
who rendered service when necessary, and who straggled after every camp
in countless multitudes.

After the greeting and a hurried review of the troops, the king thanked
Sapyeha's men, amid universal enthusiasm, for their faithful services,
and went to Uyazdov. The troops occupied the positions assigned them.
Some squadrons remained in Praga; others disposed themselves around the
city. A gigantic train of wagons continued to cross the Vistula till
the following midday.

Next morning the suburbs of the city were as white with tents as if
they had been covered with snow. Countless herds of horses were
neighing on the adjoining meadows. After the army followed a crowd of
Armenians, Jews, Tartars; another city, more extensive and tumultuous
than that which was besieged, grew up on the plain.

The Swedes, amazed during the first days at the power of the King of
Poland, made no sorties, so that Pan Grodzitski, general of artillery,
could ride around the city quietly and form his plan of siege.

On the following day the camp attendants began to raise intrenchments
here and there, according to Grodzitski's plan; they placed on them at
once the smaller cannon, for the larger ones were to appear only a
couple of weeks later.

Yan Kazimir sent a message to old Wittemberg summoning him to surrender
the city and lay down his arms, giving favorable conditions, which,
when known, roused discontent in the army. That discontent was spread
mainly by Zagloba, who had a special hatred of the Swedish commander.

Wittemberg, as was easy to foresee, rejected the conditions and
resolved on a defence to continue till the last drop of blood was shed,
and to bury himself in the ruins of the city rather than yield it to
the king. The size of the besieging army did not frighten him a whit,
for he knew that an excessive number was rather a hindrance than help
in a siege. He was informed also in good season that in the camp of Yan
Kazimir there was not one siege gun, while the Swedes had more than
enough of them, not taking into consideration their inexhaustible
supply of ammunition.

It was in fact to be foreseen that they would defend themselves with
frenzy, for Warsaw had served them hitherto as a storehouse for booty.
All the immense treasures looted in castles, in churches, in cities, in
the whole Commonwealth, came to the capital, whence they were
despatched in parties to Prussia, and farther to Sweden. But at the
present time, when the whole country had risen, and castles defended by
the smaller Swedish garrisons did not insure safety, booty was brought
to Warsaw all the more. The Swedish soldier was more ready to sacrifice
his life than his booty. A poor people who had seized the treasures of
a wealthy land had acquired the taste of them to such a degree that the
world had never seen more grasping robbers. The king himself had grown
famous for greed; the generals followed his example, and Wittemberg
surpassed them all. When it was a question of gain, neither the honor
of a knight nor consideration for the dignity of rank restrained
officers. They seized, they extorted, they skinned everything that
could be taken. In Warsaw itself colonels of high office and noble
birth were not ashamed to sell spirits and tobacco to their own
soldiers, so as to cram their purses with the pay of the army.

This too might rouse the Swedes to fury in defence, that their foremost
men were at that time in Warsaw. First was Wittemberg himself, next in
command to Karl Gustav. He was the first who had entered the
Commonwealth and brought it to decline at Uistsie. In return for that
service a triumph was prepared for him in Sweden as for a conqueror. In
the city was Oxenstiern, the chancellor, a statesman renowned
throughout the world, respected for honesty even by his enemies. He was
called the Minerva of the king. To his counsel Karl was indebted for
all his victories in negotiation. In the capital was also Wrangel, the
younger Horn, Erickson, the second Löwenhaupt, and many Swedish ladies
of high birth, who had followed their husbands to the country as to a
new Swedish colony.

The Swedes had something to defend. Yan Kazimir understood, therefore,
that the siege, especially through the lack of heavy guns on his side,
would be long and bloody. The hetmans understood this also, but the
army would not think of it. Barely had Grodzitski raised the
intrenchments in some fashion, barely had he pushed forward somewhat to
the walls, when deputations went from all the squadrons to ask the king
to permit volunteers to storm the walls. The king had to explain to
them a long time that fortresses were not taken with sabres, before he
could restrain their ardor.

Meanwhile the works were pushed forward as rapidly as possible. The
troops, not being able to storm, took eager part with the camp servants
in raising these works; men from the foremost regiments, nay, even
officers brought earth in wheelbarrows, carried fascines, labored. More
than once the Swedes tried to hinder, and not a day passed without
sorties; but barely were the Swedish musketeers outside the gate, when
the Poles, working at the intrenchments, throwing aside wheelbarrows,
bundles of twigs, spades and pickaxes, ran with sabres into the smoke
so furiously that the Swedes had to hide in the fortress with all
haste. In these engagements bodies fell thickly; the fosses and the
open space as far as the intrenchments were full of graves, in which
were placed sometimes small bundles of the weapons of the dead. At last
even time failed for burial, so that bodies lay on the ground spreading
a terrible odor around the city and the besiegers.

In spite of the greatest difficulty citizens stole forth to the king's
camp every day, reporting what happened in the city, and imploring on
their knees to hasten the storm. The Swedes, they said, had a plenty of
provisions as yet, but the people were dying of hunger on the streets;
they lived in want, in oppression under the terrible hand of the
garrison. Every day echoes brought to the Polish camp sounds of
musket-shots in the city, and fugitives brought intelligence that the
Swedes were shooting citizens suspected of good-will to Yan Kazimir.
The hair stood on end at the stories of the fugitives. They said that
the whole population, sick women, newly born infants, old men, all
lived at night on the streets, for the Swedes had driven them from
their houses, and made passages from wall to wall, so that the
garrison, in case Yan Kazimir's troops should enter, might withdraw and
defend themselves. Rains fell on the people in their camping-places; on
clear days the sun burned them, at night the cold pinched them.
Citizens were not allowed to kindle fires; they had no means of
preparing warm food. Various diseases spread more and more, and carried
away hundreds of victims.

Yan Kazimir's heart was ready to burst when he heard these narratives.
He sent therefore courier after courier to hasten the coming of the
heavy guns. Days and weeks passed; but it was impossible to undertake
anything more important than the repulse of sorties. Still the
besiegers were strengthened by the thought that the garrison must fail
of provisions at last, since the roads were blocked in such fashion
that a mouse could not reach the fortress. The besieged lost hope of
assistance; the troops under Douglas, which were posted nearest, were
not only unable to come to the rescue, but had to think of their own
skin; for Yan Kazimir, having even too many men, was able to harass
them.

At last the Poles, even before the coming of the heavy guns, opened on
the fortress with the smaller ones. Pan Grodzitski from the side of the
Vistula, raised in front of himself, like a mole, earth defences,
pushed to within six yards of the moat, and vomited a continual fire on
the unfortunate city. The magnificent Kazanovski Palace was ruined; and
the Poles did not regret it, for the building belonged to the traitor
Radzeyovski. The shattered walls were barely standing, shining with
their empty windows; day and night balls were dropping on the splendid
terraces and in the gardens, smashing the beautiful fountains, bridges,
arbors, and marble statues, terrifying the peacocks which with pitiful
screams gave notice of their unhappy condition.

Pan Grodzitski hurled fire on the Bernardine bell-tower, for he had
decided to begin the assault on that side.

Meanwhile the camp servants begged permission to attack the city, for
they wished greatly to reach the Swedish treasures earliest. The king
refused at first, but finally consented. A number of prominent officers
undertook to lead them, and among others Kmita, who was imbittered by
delay, and not only that, but in general he knew not what to do with
himself; for Hassling, having fallen into a grievous fever, lay without
consciousness for some weeks and could speak of nothing.

Men therefore were summoned to the storm. Grodzitski opposed this to
the last moment, insisting that until a breach was made the city could
not be taken, even though the regular infantry were to go to the
assault. But as the king had given permission, Grodzitski was forced to
yield.

June 15, about six thousand camp servants assembled; ladders, bundles
of brush, and bags of sand were prepared. Toward evening a throng,
barefoot and armed for the greater part only with sabres, began to
approach the city where the trenches and earth defences came nearest
the moat. When it had become perfectly dark, the men rushed, at a given
signal, toward the moat with a terrible uproar, and began to fill it.
The watchful Swedes received them with a murderous fire from muskets
and cannons, and a furious battle sprang up along the whole eastern
side of the city. Under cover of darkness the Poles filled the moat in
a twinkle and reached the walls in an orderless mass. Kmita, with two
thousand men, fell upon an earth fort, which the Poles called "the
mole-hill," and which stood near the Cracow gate. In spite of a
desperate defence he captured this place at a blow; the garrison was
cut to pieces with sabres, not a man was spared. Pan Andrei gave
command to turn the guns on the gate and some of them to the farther
walls, so as to aid and cover somewhat those crowds who were striving
to scale the walls.

These men, however, were not so fortunate. They put the ladders in
position, and ascended them so furiously that the best trained infantry
could not have done better; but the Swedes, safe behind battlements,
fired into their very faces, and hurled stones and blocks prepared for
the purpose; under the weight of these the ladders were broken into
pieces, and at last the infantry pushed down the assaulters with long
spears, against which sabres had no effect.

More than five hundred of the best camp servants were lying at the foot
of the wall; the rest passed the moat under an incessant fire, and took
refuge again in the Polish intrenchments.

The storm was repulsed, but the little fort remained in the hands of
the Poles. In vain did the Swedes roll at it all night from their
heaviest guns; Kmita answered them in like manner from those cannon
which he had captured. Only in the morning, when light came, were his
guns dismounted to the last one. Wittemberg, for whom that intrenchment
was as his head, sent infantry at once with the order not to dare
return without retaking what had been lost; but Grodzitski sent
reinforcements to Kmita, by the aid of which he not only repulsed the
infantry, but fell upon and drove them to the Cracow gate.

Grodzitski was so delighted that he ran in person to the king with the
report.

"Gracious Lord," said he, "I was opposed to yesterday's work, but now I
see that it was not lost. While that intrenchment was in the enemy's
hands I could do nothing against the gate; but now only let the heavy
guns come, and in one night I will make a breach."

The king, who was grieved that so many good men had fallen, was
rejoiced at Grodzitski's words, and asked at once,--

"But who has command in that intrenchment?"

"Pan Babinich," answered a number of voices.

The king clapped his hands. "He must be first everywhere! Worthy
General, I know him. He is a terribly stubborn cavalier, and will not
let himself be smoked out."

"It would be a mistake beyond forgiveness, Gracious Lord, if we should
permit that. I have already sent him infantry and small cannon; for
that they will try to smoke him out is certain. It is a question of
Warsaw! That cavalier is worth his weight in gold."

"He is worth more; for this is not his first, and not his tenth
achievement," said the king.

Then Yan Kazimir gave orders to bring quickly a horse and a
field-glass, and he rode out to look at the earthwork. But it was not
to be seen from behind the smoke, for a number of forty-eight-pounders
were blowing on it with ceaseless fire; they hurled long balls, bombs,
and grape-shot. Still the intrenchment was so near the gate that
musket-balls almost reached it; the bomb-shells could be seen perfectly
when they flew up like cloudlets, and, describing a closely bent bow,
fell into that cloud of smoke, bursting with terrible explosion. Many
fell beyond the intrenchment, and they prevented the approach of
reinforcements.

"In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!" said the king.
"Tyzenhauz, look! A pile of torn earth is all that remains. Tyzenhauz,
do you know who is there?"

"Gracious King, Babinich is there. If he comes out living, he will be
able to say that he was in hell during life."

"We must send him fresh men. Worthy General--"

"The orders are already given, but it is difficult for them to go,
since bombs pass over and fall very thickly on this side of the fort."

"Turn all the guns on the walls so as to make a diversion," said the
king.

Grodzitski put spurs to his horse and galloped to the trenches. After a
while cannonading was heard on the whole line, and somewhat later it
was seen that a fresh division of Mazovian infantry went out of the
nearest trenches, and on a run to the mole-hill.

The king stood there, looking continually. At last he cried: "Babinich
should be relieved in the command. And who, gentlemen, will volunteer
to take his place?"

Neither Pan Yan, Pan Stanislav, nor Volodyovski was near the king,
therefore a moment of silence followed.

"I!" said suddenly Pan Topor Grylevski, an officer of the light
squadron of the primate.

"I!" said Tyzenhauz.

"I! I! I!" called at once a number of voices.

"Let the man go who offered himself first," said the king.

Pan Topor Grylevski made the sign of the cross, raised the canteen to
his mouth, then galloped away.

The king remained looking at the cloud of smoke with which the
mole-hill was covered, and the smoke rose above it like a bridge up to
the very wall. Since the fort was near the Vistula, the walls of the
city towered above it, and therefore the fire was terrible.

Meanwhile the thunder of cannon decreased somewhat, though the balls
did not cease to describe arcs, and a rattle of musketry was given out
as if thousands of men were beating threshing-floors with flails.

"It is evident that they are going to the attack again," said
Tyzenhauz. "If there were less smoke, we should see the infantry."

"Let us approach a little," said the king, urging his horse.

After him others moved on, and riding along the bank of the Vistula
from Uyazdov they approached almost to the Solets itself; and since the
gardens of the palaces and the cloisters coming down to the Vistula had
been cleared by the Swedes in the winter for fuel, trees did not cover
the view, they could see even without field-glasses that the Swedes
were really moving again to the storm.

"I would rather lose that position," said the king all at once, "than
that Babinich should die."

"God will defend him!" said the priest Tsyetsishovski.

"And Pan Grodzitski will not fail to send him reinforcements," added
Tyzenhauz.

Further conversation was interrupted by some horseman who was
approaching from the direction of the city at all speed. Tyzenhauz,
having such sight that he saw better with the naked eye than others
through field-glasses, caught his head at sight of him, and said,--

"Grylevski is returning! It must be that Kmita has fallen, and the fort
is captured."

The king shaded his eyes with his hands. Grylevski rushed up, reined in
his horse, and, panting for breath, exclaimed,--

"Gracious Lord!"

"What has happened? Is he killed?" asked the king.

"Pan Babinich says that he is well, and does not wish any one to take
his place; he begs only to send him food, for he has had nothing to eat
since morning."

"Is he alive then?" cried the king.

"He says that he is comfortable there!" repeated Grylevski.

But others, catching breath from wonder, began to cry: "That is
courage! He is a soldier!"

"But it was necessary to stay there and relieve him absolutely," said
the king to Grylevski. "Is it not a shame to come back? Were you
afraid, or what? It would have been better not to go."

"Gracious Lord," answered Grylevski, "whoso calls me a coward, him I
will correct on any field, but before majesty I must justify myself. I
was in the ant-hill itself, but Babinich flew into my face because of
my errand: 'Go,' said he, 'to the hangman! I am at work here, I am
almost creeping out of my skin, and I have no time to talk, but I will
not share either my glory or command with any man. I am well here and I
will stay here, but I'll give orders to take you outside the trench! I
wish you were killed!' said he. 'We want to eat, and they send us a
commandant instead of food!' What had I to do, Gracious Lord? I do not
wonder at his temper, for their hands are dropping from toil."

"And how is it?" asked the king; "is he holding the place?"

"Desperately. What would he not hold? I forgot to tell besides that he
shouted to me when I was going: 'I'll stay here a week and will not
surrender, if I have something to eat!'"

"Is it possible to hold out there?"

"There, Gracious Lord, is the genuine day of judgment! Bomb is falling
after bomb; pieces of shells are whistling, like devils, around the
ear; the earth is dug out into ditches; it is impossible to speak from
smoke. The balls hurl around sand and earth, so that every moment a man
must shake himself to avoid being buried. Many have fallen, but those
who are living lie in furrows in the intrenchments, and have made
defences before their heads of stakes strengthened with earth. The
Swedes constructed the place carefully, and now it serves against them.
While I was there, infantry came from Grodzitski, and now there is
fighting again."

"Since we cannot attack the walls until a breach is made," said the
king, "we will strike the palace on the Cracow suburbs to-day; that
will be the best diversion."

"The palace is wonderfully strengthened, almost changed into a
fortress," remarked Tyzenhauz.

"But they will not hurry from the city to give aid, for all their fury
will be turned on Babinich," said the king. "So will it be, as I am
here alive, so will it be! I will order the storm at once; but first I
will bless Babinich."

Then the king took from the priest a golden crucifix in which were
splinters of the true cross, and raising it on high he began to bless
the distant mound, covered with fire and smoke, saying,--

"O God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, have mercy on Thy people, and give
salvation to the dying! Amen! amen! amen!"



                             CHAPTER XXXIX.


A bloody storm followed from the side of the Novy Svyat against the
Cracow suburbs, not over-successful, but in so far effective that it
turned the attention of the Swedes from the intrenchment defended by
Kmita, and permitted the garrison enclosed in it to rest somewhat. The
Poles pushed forward however, to the Kazimirovski Palace, but they
could not hold that point.

On the other side they stormed up to the Danillovich Palace and to
Dantzig House, equally without result. A number of hundreds of people
fell again. The king, however, had this consolation: he saw that even
the general militia rushed to the walls with the greatest daring and
devotion, and that after those attempts, more or less unsuccessful,
their courage not only had not fallen, but on the contrary assurance of
victory was growing strong in the army.

The most fortunate event of the day was the arrival of Pan Yan Zamoyski
and Pan Charnyetski. The first brought very excellent infantry and guns
from Zamost, so heavy that the Swedes had nothing like them in Warsaw.
The second, in agreement with Sapyeha, having besieged Douglas, and
with some Lithuanian troops and the general militia of Podlyasye, under
command of Pan Yan, had come to Warsaw to take part in the general
storm. It was hoped by Charnyetski as well as others that this would be
the last storm.

Zamoyski's heavy guns were placed in the position taken by Kmita; they
began work immediately against the walls and the gate, and forced the
Swedish howitzers to silence at once. General Grodzitski himself
occupied the "molehill," and Kmita returned to his Tartars.

But he had not reached his quarters when he was summoned to Uyazdov.
The king in presence of the whole staff applauded the young knight;
neither Charnyetski, Sapyeha, Lyubomirski, nor the hetmans spared
praises on him. He stood there in torn garments covered with earth, his
face entirely discolored with powder smoke; without sleep, soiled, but
joyous because he had held the place, had won so much praise, and
gained immeasurable glory in both armies. Among other cavaliers Pan
Michael and Pan Yan congratulated him.

"You do not know indeed, Pan Andrei," said the little knight, "what
great weight you have with the king. I was at the council of war
yesterday, for Pan Charnyetski took me with him. They talked of the
storm, and then of the news which had just come in from Lithuania, the
war there, and the cruelties which Pontus de la Gardie and the Swedes
permit. They were considering at the council how to strengthen
resistance. Sapyeha said it was best to send thither a couple of
squadrons and a man who could be there what Charnyetski was at the
beginning of the war in Poland. To which the king answered: 'There is
only one such man, Babinich.' The others confirmed this at once."

"I would go most willingly to Lithuania, and especially to Jmud,"
answered Kmita. "I resolved to ask of the king myself permission to go,
but I am waiting till Warsaw is taken."

"There will be a general storm to-morrow," said Zagloba.

"I know, but how is Kettling?"

"Who is that? Hassling?"

"All one, for he has two names, as is the custom among the English, the
Scots, and many other nations."

"True," answered Zagloba, "and a Spaniard every day of the week has a
new name for himself. Your servant told me that Hassling, or Kettling,
is well; he has begun to talk, walks, the fever has left him, he calls
for food every hour."

"Have you been with him?" asked Kmita of Pan Michael.

"I have not, for I have had no time. Who has a head for anything but
the storm?"

"Then let us go now."

"Go to sleep first," said Zagloba.

"True! true! I am barely standing on my feet."

So when he came to his own quarters Pan Andrei followed Zagloba's
advice, especially as he found Hassling asleep. But Zagloba and
Volodyovski came to see him in the evening; they sat down in the broad
summer-house which the Tartars had made for their "bagadyr." The
Kyemliches poured out for them mead a hundred years old, which the king
had sent to Kmita; and they drank it willingly, for the air was hot
outside. Hassling, pale and emaciated, seemed to draw life and strength
from the precious liquid. Zagloba clicked with his tongue, and wiped
perspiration from his forehead.

"Hei! how the great guns are thundering!" said the young Scot,
listening. "To-morrow you will go to the storm--it is well!--for the
healthy--God give you blessing! I am of foreign blood, and serve him
whom it was my duty to serve, but you have my best wishes. Ah, what
mead this is! Life enters me."

Thus speaking, he threw back his golden hair and raised his blue eyes
toward heaven; he had a wonderful face, half childlike as yet. Zagloba
looked at him with a certain emotion.

"You speak Polish as well as any of us," said he. "Become a Pole, love
this our country, and you will do an honorable deed, and mead will not
be lacking to you. It is not difficult for a soldier to receive
naturalization with us."

"All the more easy since I am a noble," answered Hassling. "My name is
Hassling-Kettling of Elgin. My family come from England, though settled
in Scotland."

"Those countries beyond the sea are far away, and somehow it is more
decent for a man to live here," said Zagloba.

"It is pleasant for me here."

"But unpleasant for us," said Kmita, who from the beginning was
twisting impatiently on the bench, "for we are anxious to hear what is
going on in Taurogi; but you are talking genealogies."

"Ask me; I will answer."

"Have you seen Panna Billevich often?"

Over the pale face of Hassling blushes passed. "Every day!" said he.

Kmita looked at him quickly. "Were you such a confidant? Why do you
blush? Every day,--how every day?"

"For she knew that I wished her well, and I rendered her some services.
That will appear from the further narrative, but now it is necessary to
commence at the beginning. You, gentlemen, know, perhaps, that I was
not at Kyedani when Prince Boguslav came and took that lady to Taurogi?
Therefore I will not repeat why that happened, for different people
gave different accounts. I will only say that they had scarcely arrived
when all saw at once that the prince was terribly in love--"

"God punish him!" cried Kmita.

"Amusements followed, such as had not been before,--tilting at the ring
and tournaments. Any one would have thought it a time of the greatest
peace; but letters were coming in every day, as well as envoys from the
elector and from Prince Yanush. We knew that Prince Yanush was pushed
by Sapyeha and the confederates; he implored for rescue by the mercy of
God, for destruction was threatening him. We did nothing. On the
elector's boundary troops were standing ready, captains were coming
with letters; but we did not go with assistance, for the prince had no
success with the lady."

"Is that why Boguslav did not give aid to his cousin?" asked Zagloba.

"It is. Patterson said the same, and all the persons nearest the
prince. Some complained of this; others were glad that the Radzivills
were falling. Sakovich conducted all public business for the prince,
answered letters, and held council with the envoys; but the prince was
laboring on one idea only, to contrive some kind of amusement, either a
cavalcade or hunt. He, a miser, scattered money on every side. He gave
orders to fell forests for whole miles, so that the lady might have a
better view from her windows; in a word, he really scattered flowers
under her feet, and received her in such fashion that had she been
Queen of Sweden he could have invented nothing better. Many pitied her
and said, 'All this is for her ruin; as to marrying, the prince will
not marry, and if he can only catch her heart he will deceive her.' But
it appeared that she was not a lady to be conducted whither virtue does
not go. Oh!"

"Well, what?" cried Kmita, springing up. "I know that better than
others!"

"How did Panna Billevich receive these royal homages?" asked Pan
Michael.

"At first with affable face, though it was evident that she was bearing
some sorrow in her heart. She was present at the hunts, at the
masquerades, cavalcades, and tournaments, thinking indeed that these
were usual court amusements with the prince. It happened on a time that
the prince, straining his imagination over various spectacles, wished
to show the lady the counterfeit of war; he had a settlement burned
near Taurogi, infantry defended it, the prince stormed the place.
Evidently he gained a great victory, after which, being sated with
praise, he fell at the lady's feet and begged for a return of his love.
It is not known what he proposed to her, but from that time their
friendship was at an end. She began to hold night and day to the sleeve
of her uncle, the sword-bearer of Rossyeni; but the prince--"

"Began to threaten her, did he?" cried Kmita.

"What, threaten! He dressed himself as a Greek shepherd, as Philemon;
special couriers were flying to Königsberg for patterns of shepherd's
garments, for ribbons and wigs. He feigned despair, he walked under her
windows, and played on a lute. And here I tell you, gentlemen, what I
really think. He was a savage executioner of the virtue of ladies, and
it may be boldly said of him, as is said in our country of such people,
his sighs filled out the sails of more than one lady; but this time he
fell in love in earnest,--which is no wonder, for the lady reminds one
more of a goddess than a dweller in this earthly vale."

Here Hassling blushed again, but Pan Andrei did not see it; for seizing
his sides with satisfaction and pride, he looked with a triumphant
glance at Zagloba and Volodyovski.

"We know her, a perfect Diana; she needs only the moon in her hair!"
said the little knight.

"What, Diana! Diana's dogs would howl at Diana if they could see Panna
Billevich."

"Therefore I said it is 'no wonder,'" answered Hassling.

"Well! But for that 'no wonder' I would burn him with a slow fire; for
that 'no wonder' I would have him shod with hob-nails--"

"Give us peace!" interrupted Zagloba. "Get him first, then play pranks;
but now let this cavalier speak."

"More than once I was on watch before the room in which he slept,"
continued Hassling. "I know how he turned on his bed, sighed, talked to
himself, and hissed, as if from pain; evidently desires were burning
him. He changed terribly, dried up. It may be, too, that the illness
under which he afterward fell was diving into him. Meanwhile news flew
through the whole court that the prince had become so distracted that
he wanted to marry. This came to Yanush's princess, who with her
daughter was living at Taurogi. Then began anger and disputes; for, as
you know, Boguslav, according to agreement, is to marry Yanush's
daughter when she comes of age. But he forgot everything, so pierced
was his heart. Yanush's princess, falling into a rage, went with her
daughter to Courland. That same evening he made a proposal to Panna
Billevich."

"Did he make proposals?" cried Zagloba, Kmita, and Pan Michael, with
astonishment.

"He did. First to the sword-bearer of Rossyeni, who was no less
astonished than you, and would not believe his own ears; but convinced
at last he was barely able to control himself from delight, for it was
no small splendor for the house of Billevich to be united with the
Radzivills. It is true, as Patterson said, that there is some
connection already, but it is old and forgotten."

"Tell on!" said Kmita, trembling from impatience.

"Both went to the lady with all ostentation, as is the custom on such
occasions. The whole court was trembling. Evil tidings came from Prince
Yanush. Sakovich alone read them, but no one paid attention to them,
nor even to Sakovich, for he had fallen out of favor because he had
proposed the marriage. But among us some said that it was no novelty
for the Radzivills to marry ordinary noble women; that in the
Commonwealth all nobles were equal, and that the house of Billevich
went back to Roman times. And this was said by those who wished to gain
for themselves the favor of the coming princess. Others asserted that
this was a stratagem of the prince to come to great intimacy with the
lady, which happens not infrequently between persons betrothed."

"That was it! Nothing else," said Zagloba.

"And so I think," said Hassling; "but listen further. When we were
deliberating in the court among ourselves in this fashion, the report
went out like a thunderbolt that the lady had cut all doubt as with a
sabre, for she refused him directly."

"God bless her!" cried Kmita.

"She refused him directly," continued Hassling. "It was enough to look
at the prince to know that. He, to whom princesses yielded, could not
endure resistance, and almost went mad. It was dangerous to appear
before him. We all saw that it would not remain long thus, and that the
prince would use force sooner or later. In fact, the sword-bearer of
Rossyeni was carried off the next day to Tyltsa, beyond the elector's
boundary. That day the lady implored the officer keeping guard before
her door to give her a loaded pistol. The officer did not refuse that,
for being a noble and man of honor he felt compassion for the lady and
homage for her beauty and resolution."

"Who was that officer?" asked Kmita.

"I," answered Hassling, dryly.

Pan Andrei seized him by the shoulders, so that the young Scot, being
weak, called out from pain.

"That is nothing!" cried Kmita. "You are not a prisoner; you are my
brother, my friend! Tell me what you wish! In God's name, tell me what
you wish!"

"To rest awhile," answered Hassling, breathing heavily; and he was
silent. He merely pressed the hands which Pan Michael and Zagloba gave
him. At last, seeing that all were burning with curiosity, he
continued,--

"I forewarned her too of what all knew, that the prince's physician was
preparing some intoxicating drug. Meanwhile fears turned out to be
groundless, for God interfered in the affair. He touched the prince
with his finger, threw him on a bed of sickness, and kept him there a
month. It is a marvel, gentlemen, but it happened as if he had been cut
from his feet, as with a scythe, that same day, when he intended to
attack the virtue of this lady. The hand of God, I say, nothing else!
He thought that himself, and was afraid; may be too that during his
sickness the desire left him, may be he was waiting to regain his
strength; it is enough, that when he came to himself he left her in
peace, and even permitted the sword-bearer to come from Tyltsa. It is
true, also, that the sickness which confined him to his bed left him,
but not the fever, which is, I believe, crushing him to this day. It is
true, also, that soon after he left the bed he had to go on the
expedition to Tykotsin, where defeat met him. He returned with a still
greater fever; then the elector sent for him. But meanwhile a change
took place at Taurogi, of which it is wonderful and laughable to tell;
it is enough that the prince cannot count on the loyalty of any officer
or any attendant, unless on very old ones, who neither hear nor see
perfectly, and therefore guard nothing well."

"What happened?" asked Zagloba.

"During the Tykotsin campaign, before the defeat at Tanov, they
captured a certain Panna Anusia Borzobogati, and sent her to Taurogi."

"There, Grandmother, you have cakes!" exclaimed Zagloba.

Pan Michael began to blink and move his mustaches; at last he said:
"Say nothing bad of her, or when you recover you will have to meet me."

"Even if I wished I could say nothing bad of that lady. But if she is
your betrothed, I say that you take poor care of her; and if she is a
relative, you know her too well to deny what I say. It is enough that
in one week she made all in the company, old and young, in love with
her, and only by using her eyes with the addition of some tricks of
witchcraft, of which I can give no account."

"She! I should know her in hell by this," muttered Zagloba.

"It is a wonderful thing!" said Hassling. "Panna Billevich is equal to
her in beauty, but has such dignity and unapproachableness that a man
while admiring and doing homage to her does not dare to raise his eyes,
much less to conceive any hope. You know yourselves, gentlemen, that
there are different kinds of ladies: some are like ancient vestals;
others, you have barely seen them and you wish--"

"Worthy sir!" said Pan Michael, threateningly.

"Don't make a fool of yourself, Michael, for he tells the truth," said
Zagloba. "You go around like a young cockerel and show the whites of
your eyes; but that she is a coquette we all know, and you have said so
more than a hundred times."

"Let us leave this matter," said Hassling. "I wished simply to explain
to you, gentlemen, why only a few were in love with Panna Billevich,
those who could really appreciate her unrivalled perfection [here he
blushed again], and with Panna Borzobogati nearly all. As God is dear
to me, I had to laugh, for it was just as if some plague had come upon
hearts. Disputes and duels increased in the twinkle of an eye. And
about what? For what? You must know that there was no one who could
boast of the love of the lady; each one believed blindly in this alone,
that earlier or later he would have some success--"

"He has painted her, as it were!" muttered Pan Michael.

"But these two young ladies became wonderfully fond of each other,"
continued Hassling; "one would not move a step without the other, and
Panna Borzobogati manages in Taurogi as it pleases her."

"How is that?" asked the little knight.

"For she rules everybody. Sakovich did not go on a campaign this time,
because he is in love; and Sakovich is absolute master in all the
possessions of Prince Boguslav. And Panna Anusia governs through him."

"Is he so much in love with her?" asked Pan Michael.

"He is, and has the greatest confidence in himself, for he is a very
rich man."

"And his name is Sakovich?"

"You wish, I see, to remember him well."

"Certainly!" answered Pan Michael, as it were, carelessly, but at the
same time he moved his mustaches so ominously that a shudder went
through Zagloba.

"I only wish to add," continued Hassling, "that if Panna Borzobogati
should command Sakovich to betray the prince and lighten her escape and
that of her friend, I think he would do it without hesitation; but so
far as I know she wishes to do that without his knowledge, maybe to
spite him, who knows? It is enough that an officer, a relative of mine,
but not a Catholic, assured me that the departure of the sword-bearer
with the ladies is arranged; officers are involved in the conspiracy,
and it is to take place soon."

Here Hassling began to breathe heavily, for he was weary and was using
the last of his strength.

"And this is the most important thing that I had to tell you," added
he, hurriedly.

Volodyovski and Kmita seized their heads.

"Whither are they going to flee?"

"To the forests and through the forests to Byalovyej."

Further conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Sapyeha's
orderly, who delivered to Pan Michael and Kmita a quarter of a sheet of
paper folded in four. Volodyovski had barely unfolded his when he
said,--

"The order to occupy positions for to-morrow's work."

"Do you hear how the cannons are roaring?" asked Zagloba.

"Well, to-morrow! to-morrow!"

"Uf! hot!" said Zagloba, "a bad day for a storm,--may the devil take
such heat! Mother of God! But more than one will grow cold in spite of
the heat; but not those--not those who commend themselves to Thee, our
Patroness-- But the cannons are thundering! I am too old for storms;
the open field is something else."

Another officer appeared in the door.

"Is his grace Pan Zagloba here?" asked he.

"I am here."

"By the command of our Gracious King, you are to be near his person
to-morrow."

"Ha! he wishes to keep me from the storm, for he knows that the old man
will move first, only let the trumpets sound. He is a kind lord,
mindful; I should not like to annoy him; but whether I shall restrain
myself I know not, for when the desire presses me I think of nothing,
and roll straight into the smoke. Such is my nature! A kind lord! Do
you hear how the trumpets are sounding for every one to take his place?
Well, to-morrow, to-morrow. Saint Peter will have work; he must have
his books ready. In hell too they have put fresh pitch in the kettles,
a bath for the Swedes. Uf! uf! to-morrow!"



                              CHAPTER XL.


July 1, between Povanski and the settlement afterward called Marymont,
was celebrated a great field Mass, which ten thousand men of the
quarter-soldiers heard with attentive mind. The king made a vow that in
case of victory he would build a church to the Most Holy Lady.
Dignitaries, the hetmans, the knights made vows, and even simple
soldiers, following the example, each according to his means, for this
was to be the day of the final storm.

After the Mass each of the leaders moved to his own command. Sapyeha
took his position opposite the Church of the Holy Ghost, which at that
time was outside the walls; but because it was the key to the walls, it
was greatly strengthened by the Swedes, and occupied in fitting manner
by the troops. Charnyetski was to capture Dantzig House, for the rear
wall of that building formed a part of the city wall, and by passing
through the building it was possible to reach the city. Pyotr
Opalinski, the voevoda of Podlyasye, with men from Great Poland and
Mazovia, was to attack from the Cracow suburbs and the Vistula. The
quarter-regiments were to attack the gates of New City. There were so
many men that they almost exceeded the approaches to the walls; the
entire plain, all the neighboring suburban villages and the meadows
were overflowed with a sea of soldiers. Beyond the men were white
tents, after the tents wagons far away; the eye was lost in the blue
distance before it could reach the end of that swarm.

Those legions were standing in perfect readiness, with weapons point
forward, and one foot in advance for the run; they were ready at any
moment to rush to the breaches made by the guns of heavy calibre, and
especially by Zamoyski's great guns. The guns did not cease to play for
a moment; the storm was deferred only because they were waiting for the
final answer of Wittemberg to the letter which the grand chancellor
Korytsinski had sent him. When about midday the officer returned with a
refusal, the ominous trumpets rang out around the city, and the storm
began.

The armies of the kingdom under the hetmans, Charnyetski's men, the
regiments of the king, the infantry regiments of Zamoyski, the
Lithuanians of Sapyeha, and the legions of the general militia rushed
toward the walls like a swollen river. But from behind the walls
bloomed out against them rolls of white smoke and darts of flame; heavy
cannon, arquebuses, double-barrelled guns, muskets thundered
simultaneously; the earth was shaken in its foundations. The balls
broke into that throng of men, ploughed long furrows in it; but the men
ran on and tore up to the fortress, regarding neither fire nor death.
Clouds of powder smoke hid the sun.

Each attacked furiously what was nearest him,--the hetmans the gates of
New City; Charnyetski, Dantzig House; Sapyeha with the Lithuanians, the
Church of the Holy Ghost; the Mazovians and men of Great Poland, the
Cracow suburbs.

The heaviest work fell to the last-mentioned men, for the palaces and
houses along the Cracow suburbs were turned into fortresses. But that
day such fury of battle had seized the Mazovians that nothing could
stand before their onset. They took by storm house after house, palace
after palace; they fought in windows, in doors, in passages.

After the capture of one house, before the blood was dry on their hands
and faces, they rushed to another; again a hand-to-hand battle, and
again they rushed farther. The private regiments vied with the general
militia, and the general militia with the infantry. They had been
commanded before advancing to the storm to carry at their breasts
bundles of unripe grain to ward off the bullets, but in the ardor and
frenzy of battle they hurled aside every defence, and ran forward with
bare bosoms. In the midst of a bloody struggle the chapel of the Tsar
Shuiski and the lordly palace of the Konyetspolskis were captured. The
Swedes were destroyed to the last man in the smaller buildings, in the
stables of the magnates, in the gardens descending to the Vistula. Near
the Kazanovski Palace the Swedish infantry tried to make a stand in the
street, and reinforced from the walls of the palace, from the church
and the bell-tower of the Bernardines, which was turned into a strong
fortress, they received the attack with a cutting fire.

But the hail of bullets did not stop the attack for a moment; and the
nobles, with the cry of "Mazovians victorious!" rushed with sabres into
the centre of the quadrangle; after them came the land infantry,
servants armed with poles, pickaxes, and scythes. The quadrangle was
broken in a twinkle, and hewing began. Swedes and Poles were so mingled
together that they formed one gigantic mass, which squirmed, twisted,
and rolled in its own blood between the Kazanovski Palace, the house of
Radzeyovski, and the Cracow gate.

But new legions of warriors breathing blood came on continually, like a
foaming river, from the direction of the Cracow gate. The Swedish
infantry was cut to pieces at last, and then began that famous storm of
the Kazanovski Palace and the Bernardines' Church which in great part
decided the fate of the day.

Zagloba commanded, for he was mistaken the day before in thinking that
the king called him to his person only to be present; for, on the
contrary, he confided to him, as to a famous and experienced warrior,
command over the camp servants, who with the quarter-soldiers and the
general militia were to go as volunteers to storm from that side.
Zagloba was willing, it is true, to go with these men in the rear, and
content himself with occupying the palaces already captured; but when
in the very beginning all vying with one another were mingled
completely, the human current bore him on with the others. So he went;
for although he had from nature great circumspection as a gift, and
preferred, where it was possible, not to expose his life to danger, he
had for so many years become accustomed to battles in spite of himself,
had been present in so many dreadful slaughters, that when the
inevitable came he fought with others, and even better than others, for
he fought with desperation and rage in a manful heart.

So at this time he found himself at the gate of the Kazanovski Palace,
or rather in the hell which was raging dreadfully in front of that
gate; that is, amid a whirlpool, heat, crushing, a storm of bullets,
fire, smoke, groans and shouts of men. Thousands of scythes, picks, and
axes were driven against the gate; a thousand arms pressed and pushed
it furiously. Some men fell as if struck by lightning; others pushed
themselves into their places, trampled their bodies, and forced
themselves forward, as if seeking death of purpose. No one had seen or
remembered a more stubborn defence, but also not a more resolute
attack. From the highest stories bullets were rained and pitch poured
down on the gate; but those who were under fire, even had they wished
could not withdraw, so powerfully were they pressed from behind. You
saw single men, wet from perspiration, black from smoke, with set
teeth, with wild eyes, hurling at the gate beams of such size that at
an ordinary time three strong men would not have been able to lift
them. So their strength was trebled by frenzy. All the windows were
stormed simultaneously, ladders were placed at the upper stories,
lattices were hewn from the walls. But still from those lattices
and windows, from openings cut in the walls, were sticking out
musket-barrels, which did not cease to smoke for a moment. But at last
such smoke ascended, such dust rose, that on that bright sunny day the
assailants could scarcely recognize one another. In spite of that they
did not desist from the struggle, but climbed ladders the more
fiercely, attacked the gate the more wildly, because the sounds from
the Church of the Bernardines announced that there other parties were
storming with similar energy.

Now Zagloba cried with a voice so piercing that it was heard amid the
uproar and shots: "A box with powder under the gate!"

It was brought to him in a twinkle; he gave command at once to cut just
beneath the bolt an opening of such size that the box alone would find
place in it. When the box was fitted in, Zagloba himself set fire to
the sulphur thread, then commanded,--

"Aside! Close to the wall!"

Those standing near rushed to both sides, toward those who had placed
the ladders at the farther windows. A moment of expectation f