Spring auguries - Entry of the troops - The service - Official rehabilitation of the late Jacek Soplica - From Gerwazy and Protazy's conversation one can deduce an early end to the lawsuit - The wooing of uhlan and girl - The end of rivalry between Bobtail and Hawk -After which the guests gather for the meal - The betrothed pairs are introduced to the leaders
O fateful year! Who saw you then walk through our fields!
By the people still known as the year of good yields,
'Year of War' by the soldier; till this day among
The aged, of you are tales told, of you songs are sung.
Long announced by strange portents in heaven's vault read,
By dull rumours preceded among the folk spread;
Litwan hearts in spring's sunshine were wrapped, but in some
Strange forebodings, as if the world's end were to come,
By strange anticipation, both sombre and glad.
When, the first time that springtime, the cattle were led
To the field, it was seen that, though famished and lean,
They did not seek the sprung grass, at last to be seen,
But lay down on the ground, and, with head lowered, would
Bellow sadly, or else on their winter cud chewed.
And the villagers, pulling their ploughs out at last,
Do not, as wont, rejoice that cold winter has passed,
Sing no usual songs, work unwillingly, slowly,
As if sowing and harvest they had forgot wholly.
They, at each step, their oxen and harrows arrest
To cast with apprehension a glance to the west,
As if from that direction some wonder would come,
And observe with misgiving the birds winging home.
For the stork has already outspread its wide wing
On its native pine, early white standard of spring;
And behind him, in noisy battalions there follows,
Mustering over the waters, an army of swallows,
Which to build their nests gather mud from frozen ground.
Heard among reeds at evening, the woodcock's soft sound,
And wild geese in flocks rustle above the old wood,
Until tired, with clamour, they dive down for food,
In the depths of the dark sky the cranes moan and groan.
Hearing this, scared night-watchmen ask, in a hushed tone,
Why such, in the winged kingdom, is heard hurly-burly,
What wild tempest has driven these birds out so early?
Now fresh flocks, like formations of finches and plover
Or starlings; swarms of pennons and plumes cover over
With their brightness the hillocks, to meadows descend.
Cavalry! With strange weapons, strange dress, without end,
Corps rides after corps; by them, like spring-melted snow,
Along roads, shod with iron, more serried ranks flow;
Black caps darken the forest, steel bayonet rows gleam,
The uncountable ant swarms of infantry teem.
All moving northward; seemed it, as earlier from heaven
Came the birds, mankind too was now to our land driven,
Driven by some unfathomed, instinctual might.
Horses, men, cannon, eagles, by day and by night
Keep flowing; the sky flashes with sheet-lightning's flare,
The earth shakes, one hears thunder boom loud here and there.
War! War! In Lithuania, no corner of ground
Was not reached by its roar; in the dark woods it found
The peasant, whose own parents and granddads had died
In those woods, without having adventured outside,
Who, than the winds, no other knew noise from the skies,
Nor roars, on the ground, other than animals' cries,
Than his wood-dwelling neighbours no other guests saw.
He now sees in the night-sky strange fire-flashes glow,
Hears in thickets a thudding: some cannon-ball rude
From a battlefield straying now into the wood,
Tears stumps, breaks twigs. The bison, grey-bearded old sir,
Lying in the moss trembles, and bristles his hair,
Half risen, on his front legs his huge carcass raised,
And, his shaggy beard shaking, he watches amazed
Through the undergrowth sudden and bright cinders flare:
It was a stray grenade. It whirls, whistling, and there
Bursts with thunder-like thudding. The bison felt dread
The first time in its life, and to deeper woods fled.
Battle! Where? North, or south? Ask the young men, and fly
To grasp weapons; the women raise hands to the sky;
All, of victory certain, cry out with tears thus:
"God is with Napoleon, Napoleon's with us!"
O Spring! Who had then witnessed you walk through our fields,
Spring of war unforgotten, spring of bounteous yields!
O Spring, who'd seen you blossom abundantly then
With corn and with green grasses, and glittering with men,
Profuse with events, pregnant with hope unfulfilled!
O fair phantom of dreamland, I can see you still!
I, in slavery born, and then swaddled with chain,
Only one such spring knew, and will not know again.
Soplicowo lay close by the great eastern road,
Along which from the Niemen the two leaders strode:
Our Prince Józef, and king of Westphalia, Hieronym.
All Lithuania was theirs, from Grodno to Slonim,
When the king his troops ordered three days rest; despite
Their fatigue, Polish soldiers so spoiled for the fight,
They complained that the king was just holding them back;
So keen were they the Russians at once to attack.
The Prince's general staff stopped in near-by small town,
In Soplicas' fields forty-odd thousand camped down,
There with own staff were quartered the generals Dabrowski,
Kniaziewicz, Malachowski, Giedrojc and Grabowski.
It was late when they came; so each, as space allows,
Shelters inside the Castle, or else in the house;
Quickly orders are issued, the watch set with care,
And, all tired, to the quarters allotted repair.
With the night all grows silent: camp, homestead, and field;
Like vague shadows, night sometimes patrols would reveal,
And one sees, in the distance, the campfires' red shine
And hears, from post to post passed, sign and countersign.
All now slumber: the soldiers, the leaders, the host;
But the Tribune's eyes close not for sleep at his post;
For he plans now the feast for the following day,
Which will make the house famous for ever and aye:
Feast befitting these guests so to Polish hearts dear,
Worthy of such a day of observance and cheer,
Which for church and for family's a great holiday;
For three couples' betrothals would take place next day,
And, too, General Dabrowski said, that for the fete
He would like Polish cooking.
Although it was late,
The Tribune some cooks quickly from neighbours collects;
Soon has five, and they labour, while he them directs.
As the chef, a white apron he tied round his waist,
Pushed his sleeves to his elbows, a white nightcap placed
On his head; held a fly-swat, and with it drove back
Greedy insects which fain would the dainties attack;
A well-wiped pair of glasses he placed on his head,
Drew a book from his bosom, unwrapped it, and read.
The volume was entitled: The Excellent Cook,
Every known Polish dish was writ down in this book
In detail; Count of Teczyn would have it on hand
When he planned those great dinners in Italy's land
Which Holy Father Urban the Eighth so amazed;
Karol-My-Dear-Radziwill on it later based
His reception at Nieswiz for King Stanislaus,
That most famous of banquets, the fame of which glows
In Lithuania today yet in popular tale.
What the Tribune's perusal makes known, without fail
The skilled cooks at once carry all out to the letter.
The work hums, on the tables some fifty knives clatter,
Small scullions, black as Satan, run, bustle and scurry,
These with wood, those with pailfuls of milk or wine hurry,
Into pots pour, and cauldrons; steam gushes; two fellows
Take a seat by the range and work hard at the bellows;
The Tribune, that the firewood more easily should
Catch alight, bids that butter be poured on the wood
(In a well-to-do house such waste can be forgiven).
The scullions pitch dry bundles of twigs in the oven,
Yet others, huge roasts onto enormous spits drag
Of veal, venison, haunches of wild boar and stag;
They pluck mountains of game birds, great down clouds arouse,
All denuded lie heath cocks, and chickens, and grouse.
But not much poultry, for since the slaughter that, gory,
Chook Dobrzynski had wrought at the time of the foray,
Havoc made in the henhouse, and Zosia's small farm
Wrecked, despoiled, leaving not one to raise an alarm,
Time for new birds to blossom had not been allowed
To Soplicowo, once of its poultry so proud.
For the rest, of all viands there was a great stock,
Put together from larder, and from butcher's block,
From the forests, from neighbours, from far and from near:
You would say, only bird's milk could be lacking here.
Two things a generous lord to a feast can impart,
Unite in Soplicowo: there's plenty, and art.
Dawned the most solemn day of Our Lady of Flowers;
Indeed, the day was lovely, the dawn's early hours,
The sky cloudless, and stretched out above the earth, gave
The mirage of a sea, calm, suspended, concave;
Some stars shone from its depths, like pearls from the sea-bed
Through the waves; to one side a small, milky cloud sped,
Now approached, pinions dipping into the sky-blue,
Which seemed a Guardian Angel's swift fading wings, who
On mankind's evening prayers much time having lost,
Hastens to reunite with the heavenly host.
The last star-pearls were fading on heaven's bed now,
Dimming one by one; pales now the mid-heaven's brow,
Its right temple on pillow of shadow still laid,
And still dark; the left turning a rosier shade;
And beyond, like an eyelid, the curve of the sky
Parts, and shows in its centre the white of its eye,
Shows the iris, the pupil-a ray from it dashed,
Bending over curved heavens it suddenly flashed,
In the little white cloud its gold arrow immersed.
At this bolt, the day's signal, massed fireworks now burst,
Rockets, criss-cross, by thousands, the world's arc traversed,
The sun's eye arose, opened-still sleepily shivering,
Still blinking its bright lashes, still tremulous, quivering,
And with seven tints radiant: here glows sapphire-blue,
Here, you see blood-red ruby; here, topaz's hue,
Till it, like crystal lucent, grew ever more bright.
As a diamond now brilliant, with fiery white light,
Like a star sparkling, large as the moon, now strode by
The solitary sun over the limitless sky.
Today Litwan folk from the entire neighbourhood
Before dawn round the chapel assembled, and stood
As if the priest would publish a miracle new.
This gathering was, in part, to their piety due,
To curiosity also: for at mass today
Would be present real generals, they heard others say,
Famed commanders, these men, of our own legions dear,
Whose names people knew well, and like saints' names revered,
And whose each campaign, battle and peregrination
Were in Litwa as gospel held by the whole nation.
Some officers arrived; troop of soldiers came too;
The folk surround them, hardly can trust what they view:
Their uniformed compatriots here standing among
Them armed, free, and conversing all in Polish tongue.
Mass began-the small chapel just cannot compass
This entire congregation; they kneel on the grass,
They gaze through chapel doorways, in prayer, heads bared:
Lithuanian folk's hair, flaxen-white, or very fair,
Like a stand of ripe wheat shines in golden sun's light;
Here and there, like a flower, a maid's head blooms bright,
With fresh blossoms dressed, or with a peacock scarf worn,
Or, with plaited braids, which loose, gay ribbons adorn,
Like cornflowers and cockles among the men's heads.
The throng, multi-hued, kneeling, the field overspreads
And, as at sudden breeze, when the little bell pealed,
All the bright heads bent over, like wheat in the field.
To the altar of Mary the peasant girls bring
Sheaves of greenery, the first, fresh, oblation of spring;
All today is bedecked with a garland, or flower,
Altar, icon and even the porch and bell-tower.
Sometimes, a morning breeze from the east gently blows,
Parts the garlands, their petals on kneeling folk throws,
And, as if from a censer, a sweet odour flows.
And when the mass, and sermon, were over and done,
Rose the chief of this gathering before everyone,
The Chamberlain, whom lately the local collected
Estates had as their Marshal-Confederate elected.
In Voivode's dress: a tunic set off with gold braid,
A fine gros-de-tours kontusz, a sash of brocade,
On which hung a long sword, with its hilt of shagreen,
At his neck was a diamond set in a gold pin;
A white confederate cap, with a bunch of the best
Costly plumes set upon it, a white heron's crest
(Only gala days sanction such splendid panache,
Each small feather on which costs a ducat in cash)
Thus attired, he in front of the church, on a mound
Stepped up, soldiers and peasants all crowding around,
"Brothers! The priest now did news to you bring
Of our Kingdom, set free by the Emperor-King,
Now Litwa, now all Poland, has thrown off the yoke,
Now all Poland's free; also, the priest just now spoke
Of writs, whereby the Diet is forthwith convoked.
I'll now say but a few words to you people here,
With regard to the family Soplica, your near
Squires and neighbours.
Our district remembers the various
Crimes that Jacek Soplica had made so notorious;
But while his many sins are well known everywhere,
The world should of his virtues be also aware:
The generals of our army are with us today,
And from them I heard all I to you now convey.
Jacek died not in Rome then (as rumour had said),
But changed name and estate, and a different life led;
And all sins against God, and against Fatherland,
He made good by life holy and by exploits grand.
'Twas he at Hohenlinden, when ringed, and half-beat,
General Rynszpans had nearly proposed a retreat,
Unaware that Kniaziewicz with aid now advances;
He 'twas, Jacek, as 'Worm' known, between swords and lances
Brought the news from Kniaziewicz for Rynszpans's ear
Which informed him our men had attacked the foe's rear.
He in Spain, where our uhlans in desperate fight
Stormed and took Samosierra's well-fortified height,
By Kozietulski's side was twice wounded in action.
And then later, as envoy with secret instructions,
He rushed hither and thither, men's hearts for to sound,
And would secret societies inspirit and found;
At last in Soplicowo, his father's nest cherished,
While a rising he planned, in the foray he perished.
And the news of his passing just reached Warsaw, where
At that moment the Emperor had deigned to confer
On him, for his heroic past deeds him to thank,
Of the Legion of Honour the Chevalier's rank.
Taking all of these matters in consideration,
I, who hold the chief rank in this shire for the nation,
With my confederate baton announce in this place:
That Jacek's loyal service, and Emperor's grace,
His infamy erases, returns to good fame,
In the ranks of good patriots again writes his name;
Know that, who dares remind now the late Jacek's kin
Of his old, expiated, forgiven old sin,
Will fall under the burden of civil offence:
Gravis notae maculae in statute, and hence
Touching both the militem and the skartabella
Any such who with slander traduces his fellow;
And, as now we are equal, so Article Three
Binds the peasants, as also it binds burghers free.
This decree of the Marshal the Clerk shall now frame
And in minutes inscribe, and the Usher proclaim.
As for the Cross, the Legion of Honour, the fact
That it late comes does no way from his fame detract;
If it cannot serve now to adorn Jacek's breast,
Let it serve for memorial, and on his grave rest.
Three days here we shall leave it; and after, shall carry
To the chapel, as votum, for our Virgin Mary."
Having spoken, the order he took from its case
And upon the grave's humble wood cross he it placed;
On a crimson-red ribbon cockade, the renowned
Starry cross of the Legion hung, white, golden-crowned;
To the sun the star's radiance emitted bright beams
Like Jacek's earthly glory's penultimate gleams.
Meanwhile, the people, kneeling, the Angelus say
For the sinner, and for his eternal rest pray.
The Judge among his guests and the villagers passed,
And asked to Soplicowo, to break the day's fast
On the home's turf seat, meanwhile, two oldsters, at ease
Were seated with full beakers of mead by their knees;
They gazed into the orchard, where midst poppies red,
An uhlan, like a sunflower stood, shako on head,
With much gilding resplendent, and cock-feather crest;
Close by him a young maiden in simple green dressed,
Stood and lifted her eyes, like the violets blue,
Towards the lad's; and, not far, there wandered a few
Ladies gathering flowers, their heads turned away
From the lovers, so these could in peace have their say.
But the old ones drink mead, turn by turn passing over
A snuff-box made of bark, and keep up their palaver.
"Yes, yes, Protazy dear", said the Warden Gerwazy.
"Yes, yes, Gerwazy dear", said the Usher Protazy.
"Yes, yes!" this observation a few more times passed,
Heads would nod in assent, till the Usher, at last:
"That our process ends strangely, I will this accept,
Precedents for this, certes, I do recollect
In which parties the mark more than here overstepped:
Yet a contract of marriage brought strife to an end;
Thus the Borzobohatys made Lopot a friend,
The Krepsztulows the Kupskis; Putrament-Pikturno;
With Odyniec-Mackiewicz; with Kwilecki-Turno.
Yet! Between Poles and Litwans worse squabbles there were
By far, than the Horeszko-Soplica affair.
But when our Queen Jadwiga applied her sharp wits,
She resolved the whole problem without court or writs.
With a maid in one party, or widow, with luck,
Be these nubile, then always a deal can be struck.
The longest suits, most always, with clergy begin,
That's with Catholic priests, or with nearest of kin,
For then matters cannot be made good with a ring.
Thus, the Poles and the Russians are enemies sworn,
From Lech and Russ descended, so are brothers born;
Hence, too, of Lithuanians the suits long went on
With Priest-Knights of the Cross, till Jagiello had won.
Hence, lastly, long pendebat, so famed in court lists,
Rymszas' lengthy suit with the Dominican priests,
Till the Abbey's own lawyer had won, Father Dymsza,
Hence the saying, that 'greater is God than Pan Rymsza';
I would add: Penknife's good, but mead better by far!"
Saying this, to the Warden he drank a half-jar.
"True! True!" answered Gerwazy, much moved, "We've all seen
How most strange have the fortunes of our Kingdom been,
And of our Lithuania! They're like man and wife!
God unites, devil parts; God and devil in strife!
Ah, my brother Protazy, what now stands before
Our old eyes! That these Kingdom lads visit once more
Our land! I once served with them, a long time ago,
Brave confederate lads, they put on a good show!
If my master, the Pantler, were still here with us!
O Jacek, Jacek-why, though, still blubber we thus?
Since the Kingdom and Litwa today tie the knot
By the same token all's now forgiven, forgot!"
"And strange, too", said Protazy, "that of Zosia, whom
To court our Tadeusz has been given room,
Once an omen there was, like a sign from the sky..."
"Panna Zofia", the Warden cut in, "she should by
All be called, for grown up now, is no hoyden wild,
And, besides, she is high-born, the Pantler's grand-child."
"Once", Protazy continued, "I saw a clear sign
Of her future, a portent, with these eyes of mine.
This day twelvemonth the staff sat out here, in fresh air,
('Twas a feast-day), drank mead: when there plopped down a pair,
From the eaves, of old sparrows, which spitefully fought;
One, perhaps, a bit younger, with greyish dark throat,
Black the other; they tumbled and bounced in the yard,
Turning cartwheels, dived into the dust, pecked and sparred;
We looked on; and the servants then one and all reckoned,
The black one was Horeszko, Soplica the second;
So each time the grey bird was on top, they all bellowed:
'Vivat Soplica! Pfui, all Horeszkos are yellow!'
And they cried, when it faltered: 'Get on with your game!
Do not let a lord win, to a gentleman's shame!'
So, laughing, we sat watching for who wins the fight;
Until Zosia, with pity for wee birdies' plight,
Ran up, with her hand covering the two knights from view;
In her hand they still bickered, until feathers flew,
Such great rancour the little scamps' passions still fed.
Wenches, looking at Zosia, to each other said
That it's surely the mission of yonder girl-child
The two quarrelling families to make reconciled.
And I see that the women's prognostic came true.
Though, indeed, it's the Count, whom they then had in view,
Not Tadeusz at all."
And the Warden then said:
"Strange things happen in this world, who knows what's ahead!
I, too, will tell you something, though not such a wonder
As your omen, but something which still makes one ponder.
As you know, the Soplicas I'd once have been glad
To drown all in a puddle, but this likely lad,
This Tadeusz, from childhood my fancy quite caught.
I remarked that whenever he other boys fought
He would thrash them; so when to the castle he went,
On some dare-devil errand I always him sent.
And he always succeeded; the pigeons he'd poke
Off the tower, or mistletoe strip off the oak,
Or would steal a crow's nest from the highest of pines,
He did all that, and I thought: a lucky star shines
On that youngster, a pity he's one of that brood!
Who'd have guessed as the Castle's new master I should
One day greet him, the husband of my Ladyship!"
Here they finish their converse, just sit, muse and sip.
One can but the disjointed and short phrases hear:
"Yes, yes, my dear Gerwazy", "yes, Protazy, dear".
The bench stood by the kitchen, whose windows entire
Were wide open, and smoke belched as if from a fire,
And among the smoke's coils, like a white mother-dove,
The white cap of the head-chef flashed, gleaming, above.
The Tribune through the window had stuck out his head
O'er the oldsters' heads, silent, heard all that was said,
At length passed them a saucer with biscuits: "You need
Something rather substantial to go with your mead,
While I to you recount now an int'resting story
Of a conflict which could all have ended quite gory,
When Rejtan, hunting game in Nalibock woods thick
Played on the Prince Denassow a noteworthy trick.
For this trick himself nearly with life paid as well;
I these lords reconciled, and how, will now you tell..."
But the cooks came, disturbing the old Tribune's fable,
Asking, whom he would order to set up the table.
The Tribune left.-Mugs topped up, the Usher and Warden
Full of musing, directed their gaze to the garden,
To where that smart young uhlan conversed with the miss.
Just then, the uhlan pressing her left hand with his,
(His right, wounded, it seems, in a sling letting rest),
He the following words to his lady addressed:
"Zofia, you absolutely must say, yes or no,
Before rings we exchange, I for certain must know.
What of that, that last winter you were quite prepared
To pledge your word? I would not bind you to that word:
What use such word to me, when forced out in some ways?
In Soplicowo spent I then but a few days;
I am not quite so vain, nor am so self-deceived,
That my one glance would in you a grand passion leave;
I'm no braggart, and through my own merits would wake
Your affection, although this a long time may take.
You are gracious enough now your word to make good:
But how have I such favour deserved as I should?
Perhaps not from attachment you now me accept,
Only that aunt and uncle have urged such a step;
But marriage is, my Zosia, a thing very great,
Your own heart consult only, not persons of weight;
Heed not uncle's threats, neither your auntie's advice;
If good will's all you're feeling, this does not suffice,
We can leave the betrothal to some future date;
I would not bind you over, we can, Zosia, wait.
There is no need for haste, since I, late yesterday,
To instruct local forces was ordered to stay
In the regiment here, till my wounds are all cured.
And so, my dearest Zosia?"
And Zosia, demure,
Her head raising, and, timid, her eyes meeting his:
"I do not quite remember what happened then. This
I just know that all said that it's you, sir, should be
My husband: I with dictates of heaven agree
And the will of my elders". Her eyes letting fall,
She went on: "Before leaving, if you, sir, recall,
After Father Worm died, that night stormy and wet,
I saw, sir, at this parting you showed much regret.
There were tears in your eyes, sir, those tears, I must say,
Fell right into my heart; and I thought that you may
Truly like me; and since then, I've prayed every day
That you prosper; before my own eyes would appear
Sir, your face, on your cheek a large glistening tear.
Lady Chamberlain did later to Wilno adjourn,
Had me there the whole winter, but always I yearned
For this our Soplicowo, and that little chamber
Where, sir, you had first met me, and, as I remember,
Where you said farewell later; that memory of you,
Like a small tender seedling, from that last adieu,
In my heart set in autumn, so through winter's freeze
Grew, that as now I tell you-I yearned without cease
For this small room and something kept whispering to me
There again I should find you-so it came to be.
In my head your name buzzing, it frequently passed
Through my lips, too-in Wilno then, after the fast,
All the girls would insist I'm in love; and if true,
Sure, if I'm in love truly, it must be with you."
Tadeusz, well content with such proof of her love,
Took her arm, squeezed it gently, and both left the grove,
And returned to the boudoir, a room which we know,
Where Tadeusz had lived once, some ten years ago.
There presided the Notary, most splendidly clothed,
And diligently aiding his lady betrothed,
Running hither and thither, and handing her rings,
Powder, jars, little bottles and patches and things,
Eyes, triumphant and gay, on his bride-to-be set.
The bride sat at the looking-glass, at her toilette
And was gravely consulting the Graces of Beauty;
Curling irons in hand, maids discharged there their duty
Of reviving tired curls and restoring their bounce,
Others busy, while kneeling, adjusting the flounce.
While the Notary thus was engaged with his bride
A scullion rapped the window: a hare was espied;
Stealing out of the osiers, streaked over the field
And jumped into the orchard, in young greens concealed;
There it sits-would be easy to start from his niche,
And be coursed, while still keeping the hounds on the leash.
Runs the Assessor, pulling his Hawk by the collar.
Behind hurries the Notary, who for Bobtail hollers,
Men and hounds by the Tribune behind the fence kept,
While himself with his fly-swat midst orchard trees stepped
Stomping, whistling and clapping, the beast sorely frightened;
The huntsmen, each his grip on his dog's collar tightened,
Fingers aimed at the spot whence the hare would appear,
Then each gave a low whistle, hounds pricked up their ears,
With their muzzles to windward, impatient to spring,
Both a-tremble, two arrows held taut on a string.
Then, the Tribune, cried: "Get him!"; hare: whoosh! From the wall,
In the meadow, hounds follow, no zig-zag at all,
Hawk and Bobtail together upon the hare spring
From two sides at one moment, like raptor's two wings,
Both sank teeth like sharp talons deep in the back-bone.
The hare, like a babe new-born, gave one small low moan,
A sad moan! Run up huntsmen: he lies lifeless, gory,
And the hounds the white coat on his underside worry.
Each huntsman his dog patted, the Tribune then felt
For the small huntsman's dagger, which hung from his belt,
Cut their hind legs off: "Equal hounds' share in the game",
He announced, "equal share have they earned of the fame,
To their toil and their fleetness is equal praise due;
Palace worthy of Pac, Pac of palace is too,
The hounds worthy such hunters, the hunters such hounds;
Thus your old bitter quarrel is over, by zounds!
I, the judge, with whom both chose your wager to place,
At last publish my verdict: you've both won your case!
I return all the pledges, let each keep his own,
And both sign a pact"-Moved by the old man's firm tone
Each huntsman viewed the other with greatly cheered look,
And each other's long-sundered right hand gladly took.
"Horse and harness I wagered", the Notary exclaimed,
In the registry office I pledged my good name
That the Tribune receive my prized ring, as his fee;
A collateral, once pledged, then withdrawn cannot be.
So, you, Tribune, this ring, as a keepsake, please wear
And your name engrave on it, or, if you prefer,
It instead can Hreczehas' own coat-of-arms hold;
The carnelian's a beauty, the setting fine gold;
The uhlans have now taken the chestnut for theirs,
But the harness remains, praised by all connoisseurs,
For it's easy, and sturdy, and as smart as smart:
Seat narrow, wrought inTurkish and Cossack-style art,
And within the front pommel are set precious stones,
A small pillow of damask is kind to the bones,
When you leap in the saddle, for this I can vouch,
You repose in such comfort as if on a couch;
And when into a gallop..." (here, Notary, who,
That he loved using gestures it is nothing new,
Legs spread wide, mimicked mounting, and then while he talked,
Recreating the gallop repeatedly rocked),
"And when into the gallop, the harness indeed
Sparkles brilliantly, as if gold dripped from your steed,
For gold leaf very thickly the leathern girths covers
And the broad silver stirrups are gilded all over;
On the bridle and halter, and, too, on the spur
Glitter numerous buttons of mother-of-pearl,
On the breastplate a crescent, Leliwa, is pendant,
In the shape of a new moon. This outfit resplendent,
And captured (they say) in the Podhajce campaign
From a very distinguished Turk gentleman slain,
Take as token, Assessor, of my deep respect."
The Assessor then, well-pleased such gift to collect:
"And I wagered the collars, the same that I hold
As gift from Prince Sanguszko, superb to behold,
All inlaid with shagreen and with gold bosses rich,
And a leash of silk woven, of workmanship, which
Is as fine as the precious large jewel it bears.
This equipment I wished once to leave to my heirs;
Children I well may have, for I marry today,
This equipment, though, Notary, I hope that you may
In exchange, deign accept now, for your valued gift,
As a reminder, also, of many years' rift,
That dispute, which with honour concluded this hour
For us both.-Let between us now harmony flower!"
And they went home, at table to tell every friend
That the Hawk-Bobtail dispute was now at an end
There were tales that the Tribune had nurtured this hare
And released to the garden, with no one aware,
To reconcile the huntsmen by this easy catch.
The old man played his ruse out with secrecy such,
That the whole Soplicowo he fooled, to a man.
The scullion dropped, years later, some word of this plan,
With intent to make trouble between them again;
This tale, slighting to both hounds, quite vainly he spread it,
For the Tribune denied it, so none gave it credit.
In the great hall already the gathered guests sat
And awaiting the banquet talked of this and that,
When the Judge, in official dress, came into sight
With Tadeusz and Zosia on his left and right.
Tadeusz, smartly touching to brow his left hand,
As a soldier saluting his chiefs in command;
Zosia, lowering demurely her gaze to the ground,
Blushing, bobbed many curtseys to guests gathered round,
(Such manners Telimena her very well taught).
On her head wore a wreath, as a bride-to-be ought,
For the rest, the same dress which at mass she had worn,
When the spring sheaf to Mary she offered that morn.
For the guests she had, too, picked of green a fresh sheaf,
With one hand to each offers a bloom, or a leaf,
With the other adjusts her bright sickle brow-band;
The great leaders accept these, while kissing her hand!
Zosia blushes in turn, drops more curtseys with charm;
When General Kniaziewicz takes her by both arms,
And he plants on her forehead a fatherly kiss,
Lifting onto the table the still-blushing miss,
And they all, clapping loudly, cried out their bravos,
Enchanted by the maiden's great beauty, her pose,
And, specially, her artless, sweet country attire;
Because these great commanders, whose lifetime entire
Was in exile spent, travelling the world's foreign climes,
In the native dress found an attraction sublime,
Bringing memories back of long-gone youthful times
And their youthful loves also, that almost in tears
They all crowd round the table; each tries to get near;
Some ask Zosia to kindly raise somewhat her brow
Her eyes showing thus; others, that Zosia would now
Turn herself about. Bashful, she follows commands,
Turns around, but then covers her eyes with both hands.
Tadeusz, glad, his hands rubbed, and well-pleased looked on.
Had someone prompted Zosia this garment to don?
Or divined she by instinct (a woman, by some
Instinct always will guess what her looks will become),
Suffice, that for the first time, her auntie had cause
To scold Zosia that morning, who dug in her toes,
Stylish dresses refused, till she had her own way,
By her sobs, in her country apparel to stay.
She wore a long,white kirtle; a short dress she chose
Of soft green camlet fashioned, and bordered with rose;
Green was also the bodice above the slim waist,
Criss-cross, up to the neckline with pink ribbon laced;
Under this the breasts snuggled, like buds under leaves,
A blouse, fluffed out at shoulder, displayed its white sleeves,
Like a butterfly's wings, wide extended in flight,
Gathered well at the wrist and with ribbon held tight;
The neck, too, by the blouse's white collar close rimmed,
And the collar was by the same pink ribbon trimmed;
Earrings cunningly carved from two stones of the cherry,
For the making of which Chook Dobrzynski was very
Justly famed (two hearts joined, these, with flame and with dart,
Given Zosia when young Chook still vied for her heart);
Round the collar two bright strings of amber beads swung,
From her temples a garland of rosemary hung;
She the hair ribbons over her slim shoulders threw,
And upon her brow placed, as the reaper-girls do,
A curved sickle, which polished by grass-cutting, shone
As shines on Dian's forehead the crescent new moon.
All applaud, cheering. One of the officers took
A portefeuille from a pocket, from it a sketch-book,
Spread it, sharpened a pencil, then licked the point wet,
Looked at Zosia, and sketched. And as soon as Judge set
Eyes on paper and pencil, the artist he knew,
Though the change in him great, to his colonel's dress due,
Rich epaulettes, mien really an uhlan's, quite dashing,
And a blackened moustache, beard in Spanish trimmed fashion.
The Judge hailed him: "Your lordship, and how do you do?
In your cartridge belt, plainly, you now carry too
Your artistic gear?"-This was indeed the young Count,
Joined up lately, but had spent a tidy amount,
Out of his own vast income a regiment raised,
In his very first battle was justly much praised,
And the Emperor today had him colonel created:
So, the Judge the Count welcomed and congratulated.
Meanwhile the second couple walked in through the doors:
The Assessor, once Czarist, today Emperor's
Loyal servant, in charge of a troop of gendarmes,
And although but hours twenty his new title bears,
With Polish facings he now his uniform wears,
Drags a sabre behind him, and jingles his spurs.
By his side with mien stately his lady-love strode,
Tekla, Tribune's fair daughter, and dressed a la mode;
For he long Telimena's attractions had spurned,
And so that this coquette a good lesson would learn,
He towards Miss Hreczeha his amorous thoughts turned.
A miss not too young, of some at least fifty years,
A good manager though, well regarded by peers,
And well-off, she a village held in fee, her own,
With the Judge's gift, also, her dower had grown.
They await the third couple a long time in vain.
The Judge grows more impatient, sends servants again;
These return: the third husband-to-be lost, they say,
While out hunting the hare, his gold ring on the way,
And is in the field, searching; the Notary's fiancée
Is still in her room, dressing, and, try as she may,
And though several handmaids attend to her yet,
She has far from concluded her final toilette:
And will scarcely be ready before four o'clock.