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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Basia Works a Miracle
By Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846–1916)
 
        
From ‘Pan Michael’: Translation of Jeremiah Curtin
  
  [Pan Michael is in love with Krysia, but she loves Ketling; to him therefore Michael resigns her, while Basia sobs.]

KETLING was so changed that he was barely able to make a low obeisance to the ladies; then he stood motionless, with his hat at his breast, with his eyes closed, like a wonder-working image. Pan Michael embraced his sister on the way, and approached Krysia. The maiden’s face was as white as linen, so that the light down on her lip seemed darker than usual; her breast rose and fell violently. But Pan Michael took her hand mildly and pressed it to his lips; then his mustaches quivered for a time, as if he were collecting his thoughts; at last he spoke with great sadness, but with great calmness:—  1
  “My gracious lady—or better, my beloved Krysia! Hear me without alarm; for I am not some Scythian or Tartar, or a wild beast, but a friend, who though not very happy himself, still desires your happiness. It has come out that you and Ketling love each other: Panna Basia in just anger threw it in my eyes. I do not deny that I rushed out of this house in a rage, and flew to seek vengeance on Ketling. Whoso loses his all is more easily borne away by vengeance; and I, as God is dear to me, loved you terribly, and not merely as a man never married loves a maiden. For if I had been married, and the Lord God had given me an only son or daughter, and had taken them afterward, I should not have mourned over them, I think, as I mourned over you.”  2
  Here Pan Michael’s voice failed for a moment, but he recovered quickly; and after his mustache had quivered a number of times, he continued:—  3
  “Sorrow is sorrow; but there is no help. That Ketling fell in love with you is not a wonder. Who would not fall in love with you? And that you fell in love with him—that is my fate: there is no reason either to wonder at that, for what comparison is there between Ketling and me? In the field he will say himself that I am not the worse man; but that is another matter. The Lord God gave beauty to one, withheld it from the other, but rewarded him with reflection. So when the wind on the road blew around me, and my first rage had passed, conscience said straightway, Why punish them? Why shed the blood of a friend? They fell in love,—that was God’s will. The oldest people say that against the heart, the command of a hetman is nothing. It was the will of God that they fell in love; but that they did not betray, is their honesty. If Ketling had even known of your promise to me, maybe I should have called to him, ‘Quench!’ but he did not know of it. What was his fault? Nothing. And your fault? Nothing. He wished to depart; you wished to go to God. My fate is to blame, my fate only; for the finger of God is to be seen now in this, that I remain in loneliness. But I have conquered myself; I have conquered!”  4
  Pan Michael stopped again and began to breathe quickly, like a man who, after long diving in water, has come out to the air; then he took Krysia’s hand. “So to love,” said he, “as to wish all for one’s self, is not an exploit. ‘The hearts are breaking in all three of us,’ thought I: ‘better let one suffer and give relief to the other two.’ Krysia, God give you happiness with Ketling! Amen. God give you, Krysia, happiness with Ketling! It pains me a little, but that is nothing—God give you—that is nothing—I have conquered myself!”  5
  The soldier said, “That is nothing;” but his teeth gritted, and his breath began to hiss through them. From the other end of the room, the sobbing of Basia was heard.  6
  “Ketling, come here, brother!” cried Volodyovski.  7
  Ketling approached, knelt down, opened his arms, and in silence, with the greatest respect and love, embraced Krysia’s knees.  8
  But Pan Michael continued in a broken voice, “Press his head. He has had his suffering too, poor fellow. God bless you and him! You will not go to the cloister. I prefer that you should bless me rather than have reason to curse me. The Lord God is above me, though it is hard for me now.”  9
  Basia, not able to endure longer, rushed out of the room; seeing which, Pan Michael turned to Makovetski and his sister.  10
  “Go to the other chamber,” said he, “and leave them; I too will go somewhere, for I will kneel down and commend myself to the Lord Jesus.” And he went out.  11
  Half-way down the corridor he met Basia, at the staircase; on the very same place where, borne away by anger, she had divulged the secret of Krysia and Ketling. But this time Basia stood leaning against the wall, choking with sobs.  12
  At sight of this, Pan Michael was touched at his own fate; he had restrained himself up to that moment as best he was able, but then the bonds of sorrow gave way, and tears burst from his eyes in a torrent. “Why do you weep?” cried he pitifully.  13
  Basia raised her head, thrusting, like a child, now one and now the other fist into her eyes, choking and gulping at the air with open mouth, and answered with sobbing, “I am so sorry! Oh, for God’s sake! O Jesus! Pan Michael is so honest, so worthy! Oh, for God’s sake!”  14
  Pan Michael seized her hands and began kissing them from gratitude. “God reward you! God reward you for your heart!” said he. “Quiet; do not weep.”  15
  But Basia sobbed the more, almost to choking. Every vein in her was quivering from sorrow; she began to gulp for air more and more quickly; at last, stamping from excitement, she cried so loudly that it was heard through the whole corridor, “Krysia is a fool! I would rather have one Pan Michael than ten Ketlings! I love Pan Michael with all my strength—better than auntie, better than uncle, better than Krysia!”  16
  “For God’s sake! Basia!” cried the knight. And wishing to restrain her emotion, he seized her in his embrace, and she nestled up to his breast with all her strength, so that he felt her heart throbbing like a wearied bird; then he embraced her still more firmly, and they remained so.  17
  Silence followed.  18
  “Basia, do you wish me?” asked the little knight.  19
  “I do, I do, I do!” answered Basia.  20
  At this answer transport seized him in turn; he pressed his lips to her rosy lips, and again they remained so.  21
  Meanwhile a carriage rattled up to the house; and Zagloba rushed into the ante-room, then to the dining-room, in which Pan Makovetski was sitting with his wife. “There is no sign of Michael!” cried he, in one breath: “I looked everywhere. Pan Krytski said that he saw him with Ketling. Surely they have fought!”  22
  “Michael is here,” answered Pani Makovetski; “he brought Ketling and gave him Krysia.”  23
  The pillar of salt into which Lot’s wife was turned had surely a less astonished face than Zagloba at that moment. Silence continued for a while; then the old noble rubbed his eyes and asked, “What?”  24
  “Krysia and Ketling are sitting in there together, and Michael has gone to pray,” said Makovetski.  25
  Zagloba entered the next room without a moment’s hesitation; and though he knew of all, he was astonished a second time, seeing Ketling and Krysia sitting forehead to forehead. They sprang up, greatly confused, and had not a word to say, especially as the Makovetskis came in after Zagloba.  26
  “A lifetime would not suffice to thank Michael,” said Ketling at last. “Our happiness is his work.”  27
  “God give you happiness!” said Makovetski. “We will not oppose Michael.”  28
  Krysia dropped into the embraces of Pani Makovetski, and the two began to cry. Zagloba was as if stunned. Ketling bowed to Makovetski’s knees as to those of a father; and either from the onrush of thoughts, or from confusion, Makovetski said, “But Pan Deyma killed Pan Ubysh. Thank Michael, not me!” After a while he asked, “Wife, what was the name of that lady?”  29
  But she had no time for an answer, for at that moment Basia rushed in, panting more than usual, more rosy than usual, with her forelock falling down over her eyes more than usual; she ran up to Ketling and Krysia, and thrusting her finger now into the eye of one, and now into the eye of the other, said, “Oh, sigh, love, marry! You think that Pan Michael will be alone in the world? Not a bit of it: I shall be with him, for I love him, and I have told him so. I was the first to tell him, and he asked if I wanted him, and I told him that I would rather have him than ten others; for I love him, and I’ll be the best wife, and I will never leave him! I’ll go to the war with him! I’ve loved him this long time, though I did not tell him; for he is the best and the worthiest, the beloved— And now marry for yourselves, and I will take Pan Michael, to-morrow if need be—for—”  30
  Here breath failed Basia.  31
  All looked at her, not understanding whether she had gone mad or was telling the truth; then they looked at one another, and with that Pan Michael appeared in the door behind Basia.  32
  “Michael,” asked Makovetski, when presence of mind had restored his voice to him, “is what we hear true?”  33
  “God has wrought a miracle,” answered the little knight with great seriousness, “and here is my comfort, my love, my greatest treasure.”  34
  After these words Basia sprang to him again like a deer.  35
  Now the mask of astonishment fell from Zagloba’s face, and his white beard began to quiver; he opened his arms widely and said, “God knows I shall sob! Haiduk and Michael, come hither!”  36
 
 
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