Pan Casimir rode on into the darkness. It was almost midnight. He thought it better to travel by night, so that he may have a chance to escape if he met with any Turkish patrolls. Though admittedly, he was not too concerned of Turkish patrolls, for he was in wooded land, and he could hide easily under any bush or trench.
The night was clear and beautiful. Pan Casimir tried to stay awake while he thought of which road he and his brother might take to travel back to Krakow. He thought at first that he would take a side road, but then he supposed that most Turkish partolls were on all roads now.
“I suppose that I must take the way that I am taking now. I wonder if Lvov is burning down this instant. Though chances are if it has been burnt, then some townspeople would be coming this way,” he said to himself. He felt desperately lonely. He wondered why, for he had been on many expeditions given from the king to himself, and only himself. Now however, he felt as though no one had even seen him. To make himself feel a bit better, he quietly sang an old Polish folk song;
In my garden there is a rose growing,
Mary, water the horse for me,
I can’t, I won’t, I’m afraid of the horse,
I’m afraid of the horse since I’m so young.
In my garden there rosemary grow....
But Zovstinsky was alarmed by sudden footsteps, which were approaching him swiftly. He stopped his song, drew his sword, and quickly withdrew a few steps. He saw at once that they were patrols running towards him. He could not tell how many there were, or of whether or not they were Turkish or Polish. He was about to dismount from his horse until one of the men riding towards him let out a cry. Quickly Pan Casimir mounted again.
“At least this way I could run a bit more quickly,” he thought to himself. The riders came up, and soon Pan Casimir recognized Polish clothing.
“Hold!” The closest rider to Pan Casimir said, evidently the leader of the group. “Where do you come from, and where are you going?”
“I am coming from Great Poland, and am going to Lesser Poland,” said Pan Casimir, purposely being vague. “May I ask who you are?” The leader looked at his men, then turned his gaze back on Pan Casimir.
“We are Polish patrols, sent by the voevoda of Lublin to scout the area. Perhaps you would know if you have seen Turks anywhere hereabouts?”
“The only Turkish armies that I have seen recently is the army at Krakow. Besides that, a few Turkish patrols here and there. But if you do not mind, I am hurrying to Lvov. I am sorry I cannot stay.” But the leader, indeed the whole group, had visible signs of disappointment.
“A shame,” the leader said. “Though perhaps we could escort you on the way. We were going to Lvov anyway.”
“Well, in that case I would not mind your company.” He lifted his hat in respect. “I am Pan Casimir Zovstrinsky.”
“And I am Marek Drovedko, and with me here is Jeremy Volodvo, with six more of my men.”
“So you are a commander of some sort?”
“A lieutenant, yes, serving under the voevoda of Lublin.”
“Then my respects,” Pan Casimir bowed. Then they began moving on the road towards Lvov. On the way Pan Casimir could not help but look at the strange faces which were behind him and Marek. They looked like they were looking for something, perhaps an opportunity. Indeed, they looked like regular thieves. Their hair was not groomed very nicely, and their beards and mustaches were unkempt. Their clothes were old and worn, and wondered about them. At last after Marek had finished a sentence, Pan Casimir said, “And tell me of your men; where did you get those men?”
“Let not their looks deceive you; As it is said, do not judge a book from its cover.”
“Wise words!” answered Pan Casimir.
“They hack at bodies like no other, that is for sure. They are brave above all, and shall do whatever I tell them to do, whether it is to set before me my dinner or to charge head on into the largest Turkish army.”
“Then I trust that you are renowned for your fighting as well?”asked Pan Casimir.
“Yes,” he boasted. “Yet we shall see who is better on the art of swords.” Here he pulled out his sabre and dismounted from his horse. Pan Casimir smiled.
“I would be glad to accept a duel, but I am indeed in urgent business in Lvov. I am afraid that I cannot accept. Please do not take this offensively.”
“And why should I?” said Marek, sheathing his sword. “I understand that you are hurrying to Lvov. If that is the case, we shall quit our talk, and ride faster.” Immediately Marek galloped past Pan Casimir, but soon they were even with the rest of Marek’s men, riding for Lvov. An hour later Pan Casimir looked at the sky and saw that the sun was beginning to rise. He made the sign of the cross, and in between his lips came silent prayer.
It was broad daylight when they reached the city. When Pan Casimir was near enough to his brother’s house, he said to Marek;
“Thank you for escorting me. Please accept these few ducats for my gratitude.”
“I do not wish money,” said Marek, withdrawing his hands. “Instead I wish for information.”
“Why do you want information?”
“The voevoda of Lublin wishes to send aid here, but he wishes also to spare as many troops as possible for the defense of Lublin.”
“I do not know much. But I know that if you go to Hetman Jablonowski, who should be here, then I am certain he will give what you are seeking for.” Marek bowed in farewell as did his men. Pan Casimir bowed in return, and after giving his horse to the stables, he went to the house of his brother. It was a large house, fitting for a lord. Besides the door stood two carved marble owls, as if guarding the entrance. He knocked on the door, and it was not long before his brother, Pan Cyril, who was only sixteen, appeared before him with open arms. They greeted each other with gladness, for they did not see each other for a long while. But at last, after Pan Casimir had settled and rested from the journey, he told Pan Cyril his true purpose. But Pan Cyril objected.
“I am sorry, Casimir. But I do not wish to leave. I wish to stay and fight the infidels, and if I die doing so, God wills it! But if I live, I shall fight to my last breath, until we rid of the Turks from our homeland.”
“But I do not wish to expose you to such danger. If you die, shall I do to myself? I shall put the blame on me for letting you stay here, letting you die. Rather I should take you with me to Lublin, so that we may go to our sister.”
“I wish to stay and fight. Why don’t you ever let me stand up for myself? I can hold a blade, I can fire a pistol; all I need is a target. The Turks are that target, and I shall not abandon it.” Pan Casimir walked about, thinking. How could he leave his brother here, doomed to die? Or perhaps worse, get captured and give precious information to the Turks? He simply did not have the strength to leave him here.
“I am sorry. I must take you somehow. I am sure you will get a chance to fight plenty of Turks, even if you go with me,” said Pan Casimir.
“But if I am bound to meet Turks even if I do leave, why should I go with you, just to be in the same position?”
“It may be under safer circumstances.”
“When has fighting begun to be safe?” muttered Pan Cyril. To this Pan Casimir had no answer. But eventually he said;
“I do not wish to argue. Therefore I shall leave you as you are. I shall take my leave.”
“You are not even going to stay for an hour?” protested Pan Cyril. “The Turks are still a long way off.” Pan Casimir looked into the eyes of his brother, but he did not say anything. THen the true spirit of war and adventure came into him, and said, “Why am I sitting here, like a herd of sheep waiting to be caught by the wolf? I shall go out! Come, Casimir! Quickly!” Pan Cyril rushed out of the door, bringing only a coat and his hat. He ran to the stables, where his horse was kept, and brought out a white horse, which was obviously a good one. When Pan Casimir followed, he said;
“Why are we leaving so quickly? As you said, ‘the Turks are still a long way off.’ Besides, my horses need rest.”
“Very well,” answered Pan Cyril. “But what do you intend to do while we are here?”
“It just so happens that I have an appointment which I cannot reject. I came here with a good soldier, a lieutenant, and he along the way has challenged me to a duel. It would be unknightly for me to refuse, especially if I have no reason not to.” But then behind the two brothers came trumpet blasts, and they saw a lord walking through the gates of the city. He was followed by Europe’s most famous cavalry, the hussars, holding banners with the Polish Eagle sowed into them. Some banners also carried an insignia which bore a stag, with a golden crown circling around its neck. Then came multitudes of gunners, marching with great skill, always without any flaw. Indeed, all were so well dressed that they all looked identical. Next came thousands of men, with gleaming pikes, halberds, with a pistol at each one’s side. These men were welcomed with cries of gladness and joy, and when the procession stopped another lord of great stature went out to meet them. The newly arrived was the Voevoda of Lublin, Yanush Libetski, and when he saw the man coming towards him, he said;
“Jablonowski! Here are my men. They shall smash the muslims to bits, and they shall never scatter not lose hope! There are no better men in all of Poland.”
“And I shall accept them gladly. These men here just told me of your coming.” He pointed to the men which followed him, which Pan Casimir recognized as Marek and his men. “Thankfully, now we have enough men to scatter the Ottomans, and relieve Krakow, if it ever comes to that.” Jablonowski welcomed Libetski into his quarters, and the soldiers were sent to the barracks, and the crowds broke away from the entertainment. Pan Casimir, however, not wishing to lose his opportunity, went to Marek before he was out of his sight. Yet Marek now wished to leave as soon as possible, for he wished to go to Lvov simply to see the hetman, and that was all.
“Well, you cannot blame me,” said Pan Casimir. “You were the one who offered, and I rejected because I had urgent business. Now you have urgent business, and that for the country, which if I was to stop you I should be ashamed of myself. Therefore go upon your way, and hopefully we shall meet again.” Marek drew his sword, and, placing the tip of it in the ground, he said;
“I swear, that if we ever meet again, we shall fight. And so I wish to meet on the field of battle, not as enemies, but as comrades!” He withdrew his sword from the ground, and shook Pan Casimir’s hand. “May we meet again!”
“May God guard you!” Pan Casimir cried after him. Raising his hand in farewell, Marek left swiftly, followed by his men. Pan Casimir and Pan Cyril, after having dinner, rested till dawn. Setting for Lublin, where the would travel to their sister. From there, Pan Casimir would go to Krakow alone.