[CURTAIN. An open forest glade. In the heart of the forest, among the trees, a small water-mill can be seen. The day is bright and summery. The water in the mill-pond gleams and sparkles in the sunlight. The mill is densely overgrown with grass; here and there are groups of hazelnut trees. To the left, on the proscenium is the stump of an uprooted oak, covered in moss. The stage is empty. Silence reigns in the forest -- birdsong and the gentle rippling of the water in the mill are the only sounds to be heard]
[To the right, up-stage, Czaplinski appears, dressed in simple but elegant clothes, his fur-hat jauntily tilted to one side. He wears a sabre on his belt]
Czaplinski: Aha, here's the water-mill. [Comes out to the centre of the stage and looks around] I came here first, but you see, it doesn't befit my fianc▌e. She said that she's coming to the Wojewoda's estate to pick berries, and told me to wait here at the water-mill. How radiantly happy the forest is today, embraced by the tender light of the sun. There is such abundance in the cool shade! And the birds sing so sweetly, so joyously; they flutter playfully in the green bushes, and all wait with me for her, my little dove, as if they know that she is coming. How happy, how good is her soul! And sweetly beats her heart within her breast! I could clasp the whole world to my breast at this moment, I could embrace the whole world in an excess of happiness!
[Girls' singing is heard in the distance to the left. The voices gradually get closer]
Chorus of Girls: A little bird, a swallow, from foreign parts, has flown to us from the distant sea.
Czaplinski: [Hearing the singing] It's them! It's them!
Girls: It sings us wondrous songs of distant lands beyond the sea.
Czaplinski: But how could I greet them? With what jokes could I amuse them?
Girls: How the sun, finished with its daily journey, sinks into the blue sea.
Czaplinski: I'll pretend to be asleep; let them chuckle to themselves.
[He lies down on the tree stump and closes his eyes]
Girls: [Much closer] How the sea sparkles like a blue sapphire in the golden rays of the sun.
[The girls emerge into the glade, carrying baskets. Seeing Czaplinski, they stop timidly]
[To each other] Who's lying over there? Perhaps we should leave. Who knows what he's thinking! And is he sleeping? Or just pretending?
[From amongst some trees to the left Maria and some friends appear]
Maria: [To the girls, moving closer to Czaplinski] Oh no, don't be afraid, he won't harm you. Or didn't you recognise him? It's Boleslav.
Girls: Ah! Her knight, her fianc▌. His bride greets him with caresses, but he slumbers, like a bear in its winter den. He's not even sucking his paw, he so soundly asleep. Hey! It's time to get up, bear! It's already Summer outside, and the bees have already gathered their honey from the flowers.
[The girls want to wake Czaplinski]
Maria: Leave him be! He's tired from his journey, and has sat down to rest; but the birds' songs have lulled him to sleep right here.
Girls: [Looking at Czaplinski] His arms are outstretched, there's a smile on his lips -- well, just like a baby in its cradle.
Maria: [Happily] Well, let's sing the baby a lullaby.
[Maria improvises, the girls sing half voice]
Girls: Rock-a-by, rock-a-by.
Maria: Having washed his little white hands, the little one sleeps sweetly and peacefully. His cradle is sturdily built from a firm, 100-year-old oak, but his pillow is his silky curls. His red lips smile, but those lips are darkened by hair. We must wrap the child in cloth, but a belt is already tightened around his elegant figure. I would cover him with a blanket, but he would be too warm in his kuntush. I would put the child's boots on, but he's already wearing his boots with spurs. I would place a teat in his hand, but he is holding a sharp sabre.
Czaplinski: He wanted to cuddle his nanny, but she suddenly turned into my bride.
Girls: No, he wasn't sleeping, just pretending.
Czaplinski: No, I wasn't asleep, but I still had a wonderful dream: beautiful young maidens were walking through the woods, searching for berries, laughing happily and singing a song. I remember how it goes: "A little grey jackdaw is singing us his songsи"
Girls: Ha, ha, ha! He's a joker, your young man, your innocent little boy with his black moustache, ringing spurs and sharp sabre. Life won't be boring with such a man, Maria. Well, we shall depart, and you two can have a chat.
[They start singing and go off to the left, collecting berries. Maria and Czaplinski stand embraced, watching the girls leave]
Come to the cherry-orchard later this evening; come my dark-browed one, I'll sit with you in secret. Embrace your friend, I'll sit quietly and gaze with bright smiles into my friend's clear eyes. There only the moon will look down on us through the branches, and in a nearby grove a nightingale will sing to us. I'll place my hands on your shoulders in adoration, and kiss you passionately as we part.
Maria: What do you want to talk about?
Czaplinski: About one thing only: that I love you madly, that I live for you alone, that the happiness and light of my soul only burns in your eyes, that I do not know how I can wait for our wedding day.
Maria, There isn't long to wait now; the sun is peeking through, and soon it
Czaplinski: will be that blessed happy day. Love burns in our hearts like the sun, and our lives are lit up by radiant happiness
Maria: With you the days flow past serenely, my sweet; my modest lot passes in quiet days. There are no days but happy days, no hours but hours of love.
[From the right, afar, the sound of horns is heard, answered by more from the left. Maria and Czaplinski listen intently]
Czaplinski: I hear the sound of horns; another hunting expedition is taking place. Once again the Wojewoda tears over our cornfields with a crowd of his godless friends. Long ago their horses trampled down Pan Stanislav's grain; they flattened the whole meadow and killed one of the shepherds.
[The horn calls draw nearer]
Maria: Righteous God! Where is the justice?
Czaplinski: Is there any justice when it comes to the Wojewoda? He is so powerful, nobly born and of the highest station that he does not even fear the king himself. Law and truth are nothing to him. Alas, my dear friend! With such people there is only one possible law: mob law.
[The horns sound even nearer]
Maria: He must be evil -- he has a morose appearance. I saw him in passing recently.
Czaplinski: You saw him? Where?
Maria: In the woods; he was passing through here. I stepped off the path and bowed down low, but he was somehow frightened of me, embarrassed, such that he didn't even return my bow, but just gave his horse a kick with his spurs.
[In the shadows a hunter appear, followed by the Wojewoda's marshal and lackeys who bear kegs of wine, honey and various supplies]
Czaplinski: Perhaps he was afraid for his heart?
Maria: Come on, let's catch up. They have already gone a long way.
Marshal: [To the lackeys] Hey, lackeys! Lay out the carpets over here, pitch the marquee, roll those barrels over there, fetch some bowls, bring some tables out of the mill! Look lively! This is a scheduled stop, and Pan Wojewoda himself is nearly here already.
[Maria and Czaplinski make to leave; Dzjuba, on horseback, blocks their path to the right, and climbs clumsily out of the saddle. The servants hurriedly carry out their tasks]
Dzjuba: [To the marshal] It seems I'm one of the first at this stop; it's not my fault they've all fallen behind -- there isn't another horse like this one. [Notices Maria] Ah, Pana Oskolskaya! Is it you I see there? I swear that you are as fair as a queen's rose; believe me, looking at you makes me feel young at heart. [Kisses her outstretched hand] And who is this young man with you?
Maria: [Presenting him] My fianc▌, Czaplinski.
Dzjuba: [Exchanging bows] Jan Dzjuba, at your service. [To Maria] Please join us.
Maria: Oh no, we must be going; I need to catch up with my friends. My greetings to you, Pan Dzjuba.
Dzjuba: [Stepping back from a bow] Don't let me keep you.
[Maria and Czaplinski exit right into the woods]
Dzjuba: [Going up stage, to the marshal] Well, it's hot today, we're right in the heat of the sun, but since morning I've galloped twenty miles. Order them to decant me some Tokay; choose me a cup in proportion to my sinful belly.
[The Wojewoda's hunting guests, both men and women, begin to assemble]
Guests (t. & b.): We must admit: it's a glorious hunt! But it's no longer early morning, the sun is already high, and now is the time to have a rest. Look, Pani, here's a fine example: the worthy Dzjuba is already at the resting spot. Our horses can't keep up with his. Ha, ha, ha, ha!
[Some of the guests surround Dzjuba, chatting light-heartedly with him; the rest sit down at the tables. On the proscenium, dressed in luxurious hunting attire, appears Pana Jadwiga, followed by the young Olesnicki]
Jadwiga: [Continuing their conversation with a slight smile] And have you been in love with me for long?
Olesnicki: Since the very moment I first laid eyes on you, from the very moment you left Krakow with the Wojewoda and settled here and lit up our region like the sun.
Jadwiga: [With a coquettish bow] I thank you for the honour.
Olesnicki: Don't mock me, Pana, don't mock me! I speak from the heart. Yes: like the sun; and its rays boil the blood in my heart. I have extinguished it all, burned and pined behind a mask of pretence; I have concealed my passion and only today have I seized the moment to reveal to you the pain in my heart.
Jadwiga: [Mockingly shaking a finger at him] Look here, Pan; what if the Wojewoda were to hear your declaration of love? He's a jealous man, you know.
Olesnicki: [Fervently] Oh, what is he to me? If you would love me, I would not fear a whole company of such Wojewodas!
Jadwiga: [With a cunning smile] We'll see. [Exits up stage to join the ladies]
[From the right the Wojewoda slowly enters the glade. He rides his horse absent-mindedly, and, hanging his head, is seemingly immersed in some thought or other. Seeing the crowd of guests he stops and dismounts without a word]
Dzjuba: [To the guests] He seems in low spirits today. [Goes to meet the Wojewoda] Please forgive us, dear master, for gathering here before you arrived; but there are such tempting things like wine spread out for us.
Wojewoda: It is my own fault that I was late and made the guests wait. Please forgive my delay, and make yourselves at home at this feast.
Chorus: We drink your health, Pan Wojewoda! Vivat, vivat, kind host! We can't remember such a good hunt.
Women: Yes, and this resting place has been wonderfully prepared.
Chorus: It's luxury fit for a king. And not every king is rich enough to entertain his guests so lavishly.
Dzjuba: Ever since you settled here with your friend you have breathed new life into our deserted region.
Chorus: We drink you health, Pan Wojewoda! We drink the health of Pana Jadwiga!
[The Wojewoda and Jadwiga exchange bows and take their places at table, in front of the marquee. Dzjuba, Olesnicki and a few Pani and ladies of high station sit with them. The rest sit on benches and on carpets spread out on the grass. The lackeys serve out food and drinks]
Jadwiga: Haven't you already excelled yourself today, Pan Dzjuba?
Dzjuba: [Slightly tipsy] And how did you hear of it, Pana?
Jadwiga: [With a smile] I can see with my own eyes.
Dzjuba: You are right. This evening I had a bad time of it. In the dark a witch flew down my chimney.
Chorus: [From the nearest tables, with laughter] Ha, ha, ha! Impossible!
Dzjuba: But it's true, Pani. She crept up and, all of a sudden, she's at my breast.
Chorus: [With feigned terror] Is it possible? How did you manage to stay alive?
Dzjuba: Well, what use am I to a witch, for pity's sake, when I'm not even any use to Dorosh?
Jadwiga: Who is this Dorosh?
Chorus: A beekeeper and a sorcerer who has long been in league with the evil one.
Dzjuba: [To Jadwiga] Everyone fears him and bypasses his bee-garden praying and crossing themselves at a distance of three miles. Only a brave man can be connected with him -- the old man does not value anybody else's life; but to prove whether or not I fear him, I shall visit him alone tomorrow morning at first light, and ask him to give me whatever potion you desire, Pana.
Jadwiga: [With a mock bow] I am very much obliged. However, enough of this talk. Just look how morose our Wojewoda is. Find something to cheer him up, some song or exciting dance or other.
Dzjuba: [Stands] I'm ready to be of service as much as I can. If you like, we can hold one of our folk dances here in the clearing -- our people can dance very merrily. [Turning to the servants and hunters at the back of the stage] Hey! Lads! Give us a lively dance! Cheer up our Pan and his guests.
[Some of the servants and hunters come out into the centre of the forest glade. A few have violins and pipes]
Guests: [Men, enthusiastically following the dance] What good lads! How well they dance! Hurrah! Good lads!
[The dance becomes even more animated]
Dzjuba: Don't they dance with spirit! Wonderful, wonderful! It's time we joined in, too!
[General excitement and jollity. Some of the guests get carried away and try to join in the dance. Dzjuba tries to encourage the dances with shouts and gestures. The Wojewoda is as pensive as ever]
Chorus (tenors): This dance makes our blood boil. How they dance with spirit!
Chorus (basses): It's time for us to dance, too!
Dzjuba: Hey! Hey!
[At the end of the dance the participants bow to the Wojewoda and the guests]
Jadwiga: [To the Wojewoda] But this is tedious, Wojewoda! Neither wine nor dancing pleases you. Amidst friends, amidst general happiness, you alone are all frowns.
Wojewoda: [As if to himself] I can't help thinking about my encounter.
Jadwiga: [Animated] Encounter? With whom?
Wojewoda: [In deep thought] I don't know myself whether it was a maiden or a water spirit in the radiant form of a maiden. I met her at the water-mill in the woods, and the sight of her was so extraordinary that all my thoughts were eclipsed, so wonderfully beautiful was she.
Jadwiga: [Mockingly] Could she possibly be fairer than me? Are you telling the truth, Wojewoda?
Wojewoda: [Seriously] Yes, more beautiful.
Jadwiga: [Jumping up, sensitively] If that is so, let us leave him. let him await his fairy alone; perhaps she will be able to cheer him up better than us. And you, my friends -- I invite you to continue with our hunt.
[The guests rise noisily]
Chorus: We're at your service, Pana.
Jadwiga: Quickly, bring our horses! Sound the trumpets! Forward, friends! Why waste time?
[Exits quickly, accompanied by Dzjuba, Olesnicki and some of the guests]
Chorus: [Some of the guests hesitate to leave] And what about you, Pan Wojewoda?
Wojewoda: Don't worry -- continue the hunt without me. I shall wait.
Chorus: Goodbye! [They leave]
[The horn calls and noises of the hunt gradually fade away. With a signal the Wojewoda dismisses his servants and remains alone, seated at the table, deep in thought]
Wojewoda: [Raising his head] Here by this water-mill, in these woods, I saw a beautiful maiden as I passed by, and ever since then I have seen before me her radiant, bewitching form. But she is barely human: she radiated with unearthly beauty. She was a water-mater, and came up to me from her watery mansions; she lives in a nearby lake; the breeze will carry my voice to her, and once again, like then, she will appear to me like a pale phantom. O come, come quickly, entwine me in your light-brown plaits, draw me in with your tender hand, entice me into your underwater tower. There you will rock me, caress me. I will abandon myself to your powers forever. Be mine, from henceforth be my mistress, my sovereign queen. I am pining, suffering and waiting; come quickly!
[From the woods to the right Maria's voice is heard, calling out to her friends]
Maria: [Off-stage] A-oo!
Chorus: [From the left, very distant] A-oo! A-oo!
Wojewoda: [With a start] She's coming!
Maria: [Closer] A-oo! A-oo!
Wojewoda: She heard me! [He is rooted to the spot in anticipation]
[From the right Maria appears and turns back towards the Wojewoda, who follows her, unseen]
Maria: They've gone beyond the water-mill. A-oo!
Wojewoda: [Throws himself at her impetuously] At last you have come to me, at last you have answered my calls! O, beautiful one, be mine forever, forever henceforth!
[He tries to embrace Maria passionately, but she recoils in fear. Czaplinski appears between her and the Wojewoda]
Czaplinski: Stand back! She is my fianc▌e.
Wojewoda: [Steps back slowly and proudly, scornfully looking him up and down] You are too insignificant for such an honour.
Czaplinski: [Enraged, reaches for his sabre, but then restrains himself] I should challenge you for that insult, Wojewoda, but for her sake I will endure it. Let's go, Maria.
Wojewoda: [Blocks their path] Wait! [Blows on the silver horn which hangs from his belt]
Chorus (tenors): [The hunters and some of the guests enter] That was the Wojewoda's horn summoning us.
Wojewoda: [Pointing out Czaplinski to his men] Hey, lads! Seize him!
Chorus (basses): Perhaps a bear has come out of the thicket?
Wojewoda: Seize him, or kill him!
[On the Wojewoda's signal the hunters rush at Czaplinski. He draws his sabre, embraces Maria with his left arm, and, leaning against a tree, holds off his assailants for a short time. In the end the hunters manage to wound him in the head]
Chorus (t. & b.): No, it's a szlachta and a beautiful girlиCan a szlachta really have got it into his head to dare to go against the Wojewoda? I'd rather pick a fight with the king that with Pan Wojewoda. The madman will pay dearly for this.
[Czaplinski drops his sabre, and falls to the ground, unconscious]
Maria: O, righteous God! Have mercy, Wojewoda! My poor Boleslav, farewell forever!
Wojewoda: [To the servants] Take him and throw him into the forest.
[They carry Czaplinski out. Maria tries to follow, but the Wojewoda grasps her by the arm]
[Ardently] A different fate awaits you. Enchantress, be my love!
Maria: You monster, you beast!иThere is not one drop of compassion in youи
[Maria trembles and falls into a faint. Jadwiga enters from the right with Olesnicki and some of the guests]
Jadwiga: [Points at Maria] Who is this?
Wojewoda: My wife before God and men. [To the guests] And I warmly invite you to our wedding in exactly one week.
Jadwiga: [Startled] You are not yourself. This cannot be!
Wojewoda: No -- it will be thus!
[General amazement. CURTAIN]
[CURTAIN. A small clearing in the undergrowth of a dense forest. Dorosh's apiary. To the back-right of the stage is a small peasant hut with a low door and concealed windows; the hut is half-buried in the ground. Beside it, amongst the trees, beehives are visible; in front of them are some old tree stumps. It is nearly sunset]
Olesnicki: [Alone, pacing back and forth in the clearing] We'll see who's braver: Pan Dzjuba or I. She wanted to accompany him here herself, and replied to me that I'm still too young and inexperienced for such a trip. How cruel she can be! And she pitilessly tortures my heart. Well, let's see how afraid I am of the magician. Let her discover that I'm prepared to do anything for her. [Listens intently] I can hear someone tramping through the woods; is it they? [Looks to the left beyond the trees] It is they! They have stopped their horses, now they are coming this way. I'll hide for now. [Disappears left into the undergrowth]
[Jadwiga and Dzjuba enter from the left, looking lost]
Jadwiga: [To Dzjuba] Did you tie up the horses?
Dzjuba: [Looking around timidly] Eh? Yes, yes.
Jadwiga: Well, go and knock on the door.
Dzjuba: What? Me, knock?
Jadwiga: [With a disdainful smile] Well, how else are we going to get him to come out?
Dzjuba: [Not moving from the spot] You're right, we need to knock.
Jadwiga: Well, then?
Dzjuba: No I can't -- I'm afraid!
Jadwiga: What a coward!
Dzjuba: What shall we do if I can't? I'm not afraid for myself, but for you, Pana. Don't you remember how, as we were walking though the woods, we saw shadows as we passed by? They were robbers, or even worse: you see, he has many things at his command, and if we knock and make him angry, what then?
Jadwiga: [From the heart] Go away and leave me alone.
Dzjuba: What? What will I do on my own?
Jadwiga: [Angrily] Get away from here!
Dzjuba: [Timourously] You're getting rid of me?
Jadwiga: Go away!
Dzjuba: [To himself] I don't know what to do; to stay would be terrible, but to go would be even worse. [Thinks] Wouldn't it be better settled like this? [To Jadwiga] Here's the plan, Pana: I'll sit on my horse and wait right untilи
Jadwiga: And then you'll scarper?
Dzjuba: O, no, on the contraryи
Jadwiga: Right then; go!
[Dzjuba exits quickly to the left]
Jadwiga: [Alone] This unexpected blow has struck me down like a bolt of lightening out of a cloudless sky. I must know my fate. If he had taken her for a while, amused himself and then discarded her, I would have forgiven his treachery. But now that he has definitely decided to marry her, neither tears nor entreaties will help. So whatever happens, I will not give him up. I am embarking boldly on a battle with fate; I will not fear nor be threatened, but will draw back the dark curtain of the future with intrepid hand.
[Goes over to the hut. Knocks on the door. Knocks again]
Dorosh: [In the hut] Who's there?
Jadwiga: Old man, you must come out and see me.
Jadwiga: You'll see; come out.
[The concealed window slides open and a dishevelled head pokes out]
Dorosh: Here I am.
Jadwiga: They say you can foretell the future; reveal my fate to me, old man, everything that must come to pass. I want to know now.
Dorosh: For what reason?
Jadwiga: I must.
Dorosh: You won't be frightened?
Jadwiga: I am not timid.
Dorosh: Then wait here -- I shall go and make some magic water.
[He disappears. The concealed window slides shut. Jadwiga moves away from the hut]
Jadwiga: What is in store for me: happiness or grief? My heart is trembling and beats with melancholy.
Dzjuba: [Enters from the left. To himself] No, I can't sit on my own any longer. I can hear voices all around the forest.
Jadwiga: No, I am now ready for anything, anything.
Olesnicki: [From the back-right of the stage] Now she will discover who is braver.
Dzjuba: [Seeing Jadwiga, creeps towards her timidly] What, what, Pana, are you still alive? Let's get out of here quickly! Look it's already getting dark! [The door of the hut opens] Come! Come!
Olesnicki: He's trembling and shaking like a hare, the knave. [Jadwiga walks up stage impetuously. Dzjuba remains on the proscenium, not daring to move] I'll give him a fright, then he'll run away.
[Olesnicki, emerging from out of the undergrowth, gives out two long, sharp whistles]
Dzjuba: Ai! Ai! [In terror] Save yourself, Pana! [Runs off]
[Dorosh appears in the doorway of the hut, carrying a large wooden chalice full of water. Olesnicki hides in the bushes]
Dorosh: [Carefully placing the chalice on the tree stump in front of the hut] Come over here and stand over this chalice; look into the water and do not avert your eyes. Now clear you mind of all earthly thoughts, and concentrate your mind on one thing; stand perfectly still, like a statue, and take in all that you see.
[Jadwiga stands in front of the chalice facing the audience and looks into the water. Dorosh circles her and then stands to one side. Jadwiga's eyes grow wider and wider]
Jadwiga: It is dark in the water...I see the tops of trees, and a star is shining in the sky.
Dorosh: [Quietly] Keep looking! Keep looking!
Jadwiga: Its light is getting brighter and brighter, ever brighter...and the water is lit up by a golden light, like the sun. What is this? An arch? And a row of white pillars? The light is pouring in through stained-glass windows... I see, it's a church. The festive sound of an organ drifts into the air; the pews are full of guests in their Sunday best. At the alter stand a bride and groom. The groom - that's him; the bride is covered in a veil and it's hard to make out her features. Is it I standing there beside him? But her hair is lighter than mine. She's turning round... Ah! Now I see her! Curse it! [Upsets the chalice with an abrupt movement] Then it is true! His words will come true! No, that will never be, so long as I live! [To Dorosh] Give me some poison, old man, whatever the cost. Give me some fatal poison, old man, which will kill a person straight away.
Dorosh: Yourself or someone else?
Jadwiga: I do not know yet. One of us is fated die. If you need some money, take it. [Hands him a purse] If you require more, I shall give it willingly.
Dorosh: [Holding the purse in his hand] Think about it. Is it really necessary?
Jadwiga: When I ask for something, I know what I am requesting.
Dorosh: I shall give you some poison, a poison which will kill instantaneously. But remember that fate is stronger than poison.
Jadwiga: So long as it will strike someone down - then we will see.
Dorosh: Then come with me.
[He lets Jadwiga past into the hut and locks the door behind them. A fire starts up in the hut]
[The full moon appears on the horizon and slowly rises amongst the trees. Olesnicki dreamily admires that beauty of the nightfall]
[The door opens and Jadwiga appears in the doorway holding a small flask. Dorosh sees her out and then exits back into the hut]
Jadwiga: [Holds the flask high in front of her eyes] So here it is; here is my wedding present! It will decide my fate in an instant.
Olesnicki: [Emerges from the bushes to the right] Pana, your knight has run away shamefully, and now I am here at your service. [Jadwiga jumps in surprise, and, clutching the flask in her hand, turns towards Olesnicki]
Jadwiga: You're here?
Olesnicki: Now it should be clear to you that you were wrong to prefer Dzjuba to me.
Jadwiga: [Regaining her composure] You are right.
Olesnicki: [Passionately] Is it possible, Pana, that only now can you be sure? Perhaps you did not want to believe that I love you, that I am suffering terribly, that you are everything to me, that you hold the one key to my happiness, joy and bliss?
Jadwiga: Enough, Pan! I have heard it all before, and not from you alone.
Olesnicki: [Bitterly] Was it not for me that you obtained the poison, so that I couldn't trouble you any longer?
Jadwiga: [Conceals the flask in her bodice embarrassedly] Poison? But how did you know that it's poison?
Olesnicki: What else could Dorosh give you?
Jadwiga: [Becoming more affectionate] No, you are wrong, my young friend; this potion which you call poison will only kill love. [With pretend frankness] I admit to you that I have loved the Wojewoda with all my soul up to this point; but I cannot forget his lowly behaviour towards me, I cannot endure it! I hate him! With this potion I will destroy the final remnants of love, and my heart will be free once more. I will give it to one more deserving, to one who will neither betray nor deceive me, who will listen to all I have to say, who will fulfil my wishes, caprices, whims.
Olesnicki: [In rapture] Oh, repeat these words, repeat these words, Pana; they contain the pledge of my happiness!
Jadwiga: Can I trust you?
Olesnicki: As yourself.
Jadwiga: Swear it!
Olesnicki: Whatever you wish!
Jadwiga: I believe you. You are young, handsome, and you have proved your bravery to me. You have already half won me over. If you are as devoted as you are brave, and if you will do as I say, I could love you like him. My first request is to keep everything secret.
[From on high the moon lights up the whole forest in brilliant radiance]
Silence, you understand? Silence about everything.
Olesnicki: With light footsteps the peaceful, clear night has descended upon the weary earth from the transparent heavens. From the night sky the distant moon silently pours out its enchanting light upon the forest thickets. Your bewitching glance flows into my weary heart, lighting my path with bright hope, promising me future happiness.
Jadwiga: The clear night, the air, caresses my breast in quiet languor. My soul trembles, my heart beats sweetly in anticipation of a new passion.
Jadwiga: Be humble and do as I say, my young friend.
Olesnicki: I swear, Pana, that I shall carry out your wishes.
Jadwiga: Silence about everything.
Olesnicki: As our servants obey us, so I swear that I shall keep your divine secret; I shall protect you as a devoted friend.
Jadwiga: And when you have sworn to keep my secret, for the sake of love you will wait for your reward, my brave knight.
Jadwiga: Swear it.
Olesnicki: I swear it.
[A whistle rings out in the woods not far off; another one answers it from afar]
Jadwiga: [Listens intently; speaks anxiously] Someone is coming...quick, let's go. What if they are robbers?
Olesnicki: [Grasping his sabre] Do not fear, Pana; I shall not let you be hurt.
[From the left Czaplinski and Poslawski appear. Czaplinski's head is bandaged]
Jadwiga: [Seizes Olesnicki's arm and goes out into the shadows; speaks half-voice] Wait a moment, that looks like the bridegroom.
Czaplinski: Shall we light a fire? They'll soon find their way here through the woods with the light.
Poslawski: I shall light it, and you go into the hut; let him look at your wound and give you some potion.
[Poslawski lays out the fire; Czaplinski sits on the tree-stump near Dorosh's hut]
Jadwiga: Come with me and hide in the woods; we shall have to wait for them.
[They both disappear behind the trees to the right]
Czaplinski: My one last hope rests on my friends. But if my friends will not help me either, then all will be lost. From that day the Wojewoda has kept Maria locked up, and keeps watch over her as if she's in prison. All my attempts to let her know that my friend saved me have been in vain. Threatening violence towards innocent children, he has refused the poor thing's sister and little brother permission to attend the marriage. Oh, you gentle, innocent dove! You have sacrificed yourself for their sakes. My heart is torn in pieces within my breast. I have done everything in my power, and must acknowledge my powerlessness. There remains one hope for me...if it fails, all is lost. [Exits into the hut]
[The fire flares up. In the woods whistles and calls can be heard]
Chorus: [Off-stage voices of szlachta members] Come on! Over here! Go towards the fire!
Poslawski: [On-stage] Over here! Keep to the right path!
[A number of szlachta members appear from several directions, some old, but mostly young. They all carry sabres. As they enter, they greet one-another and Poslawski]
Welcome, most honoured Pani! In his hour of need, Czaplinski requires your assistance, and I have assembled you here for him.
Chorus: We all know and love Czaplinski. Any enemy of his is an enemy of ours. An injury to him is a dishonour on the whole of our glorious, well-born szlachta.
Poslawski: The Wojewoda has many servants in his castle; he has a large number of lowly minions. But there are enough of us here to go into battle to defend the honour of the szlachta.
Chorus: The freedom of the szlachta has not died; no-one dares to infringe upon our rights!
[Czaplinski comes back outside, followed by Dorosh, who stands to one side]
And here comes Czaplinski himself. [To Czaplinski] We are ready to help you, Pan. [They go over to the fire] Just tell us how we can be of service.
Czaplinski: My troubles are known to you, my friends, and I shall not begin to speak of them. Here, in the dense stillness of an ancient forest, far away from insidious spies, please give me your impartial judgement.
Chorus: Our judgement is brief! An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth!
Czaplinski: Of course, by law I should go to the king for a judgement.
Chorus: Or can we judge without the king? What is the king to us? On our ancestral estates were ourselves are kings, we are our own judges! He is sentenced to death. Death to the Wojewoda!
Czaplinski: You agree to help me get back my bride and settle accounts with my enemy?
Chorus: We agree! And the sooner, the better!
Czaplinski: I thank you. I was sure all along that you would not give up on me.
Chorus: We will launch a surprise attack tomorrow. We will take them unawares.
Poslawski: If you want to take them unawares, it would be better for us to bide our time. Let's put it off until the day before the wedding feast. When the servants are all busy getting ready, and their heads are blurred with wine; when everyone in the castle is sitting down at the feast - then we will attack.
Chorus: He's right, he's right! Let all the different guests assemble, then we will serve our own feast - a feast of blood.
Czaplinski: [Drawing his sabre] I swear by all that I know that I shall not lay down my sword until Maria is rescued!
Poslawski, Chorus: [Bearing arms] We all swear to fight alongside you until we have taken vengeance for this disgrace and reaffirmed our szlachta rights!
Czaplinski: Then it is decided: on the day of the wedding.
Chorus: We will be there.
[Dorosh, who all along has been standing silently to one side, comes out into the middle of the stage in deep thought. Jadwiga and Olesnicki, carefully creeping through the trees up-stage, hide in the forest]
Dorosh: The poison is ready, and the sabres sparkle in the light. Vengeance, jealousy and love have all become inter-linked, like branches in the dark forest; but above all reigns the decree of fate.
[Walks slowly over to his hut. CURTAIN]
[CURTAIN. Pan Wojewoda's wedding feast. A hall arranged with tables, brightly lit by tall chandeliers and candelabra. To the right, in the foreground - a richly-adorned table and two arm chairs for the newly-weds. In an archway at the back of the stage, through a wide-open door, the garden is visible, illuminated by the moon. The feast is in full swing. As the curtain is raised a Mazurka is being danced. The guests sit at table, the newly-weds in their arm chairs on a dais. Musicians with violins, trumpets, oboes, etc., are situated in the archway at the entrance to the garden. Maria is pale and thoughtful, the Wojewoda is not quite in high spirits and keeps fiddling with his moustache. Dzjuba moves from table to table, extremely drunk]
Chorus: [A few of the guests cheer themselves by singing] Mama, mama, day and night my thoughts are of one thing: That boy Stas has only to look me in the eye and I come over all fiery. He is a sorcerer, for sure, mama. How cunning and clever he is; how proudly he walks, how directly he looks at you; and how handsome he is!
[Dzjuba selects a pretty young lady, goes to the centre of the Mazurka hall and dances along laboriously. From time to time he stops and sings, turning to his lady half jokingly, half seriously. The seated guests and the dancers who have taken a rest watch Dzjuba, nodding their heads in approval]
Dzjuba: [Sings] O, take my heart into happy, inescapable captivity, and with your tender hand throw it in your dungeon. [Dances. Sings, pausing in his dance again] It is sweet to be in your dungeon, it's pleasant to live there: you see, my dear, that is what they call your heart.
Chorus (sop.): Hey, Pan Dzjuba! How sweet you are! How smart, how cavalier! And your singing and dancing - you outdo us all!
Chorus: (t. & b.): Brave, invincible Pan! You are even master of time!
Chorus (all): Hey, Pan Dzjuba! You are so glorious!
[Dzjuba leads his lady to her place. General Mazurka. At Dzjuba's signal, the musicians stop playing. The Mazurka comes to an end. Accompanied by two servants, Dzjuba walks to the middle of the stage. The slaves carry golden trays holding two goblets (one bigger, the other smaller) for the newly-weds. The guests stand up from their tables and accompany Dzjuba, goblets in hand]
Dzjuba: [To the Wojewoda, pointing at the goblets] As the liquid and sparkling water plays on the inside of the goblet, so let valour and courage well up in you forever like a wave.
Chorus: We drink to you and wish you good health; live long and prosper; may you never know the evil bitterness of sorrow.
Dzjuba: [To Maria] In the goblet is sweet amber nectar, all a-sparkle; let such a radiant pathway lie ahead for you.
Chorus: We drink to you....
Dzjuba: And tomorrow we shall fill the same cups for you again, so that you can greet the first day of your happily-married life with a cup in your hand. A toast: to the newly-weds!
Chorus: Vivat, vivat!
[The Wojewoda empties his goblet; Maria places hers back on the table]
Dzjuba: [To Maria] Please drink it all up: it is the custom.
Maria: Thank you; I can manage no more. I'm tired, and it's somewhat stuffy in this castle.
Wojewoda: Let us go for a walk in the garden. The cold of the night will refresh you. Then you'll empty your cup.
Dzjuba: [Joyfully] And let's take some music with us into the garden.
[The musicians play. The men invite the ladies to dance. Dzjuba quickly makes up a procession: the Wojewoda hand in hand with Maria, the guests in pairs. The procession circles the hall a few times, then moves off into the garden. The musicians lead off, followed by servants bearing torches; then come the guests and the Wojewoda and Maria. Dzjuba, left without a lady in all his busying, brings up the rear. The sound of the Polonaise drifts in from time to time. The stage is empty. From the door to the right Jadwiga appears, followed by Olesnicki. Olesnicki is richly dressed, Jadwiga is in a modest dress, dark in colour]
Jadwiga: [To Olesnicki] Go into the garden and mingle with the crowd of guests.
Olesnicki: And you, you come with me.
Jadwiga: No, I shall stay here. I don't want to be seen; I shall only look on from afar, and then move away.
Olesnicki: Let me stay with you, please!
Jadwiga: [Imperiously] Go!
[Olesnicki leaves. Watching him go, Jadwiga stands for a long time in thought]
Although uninvited to the feast, here I am! I was not even invited. Rejected, abandoned, forgotten! Forgotten now by the one to whom I have given everything. I can only come here furtively, yet was it so long ago that I reigned supreme in this hall? The pretty little szlachtyanka has taken him away forever! No, that will never be! There is nowhere on earth that can divide us. There remains one final task, then the Wojewoda will return the poison to me. [The sound of the Polonaise drifts in from the garden] They are coming. [Takes the flask from under her bodice and quickly moves over to the top table] Quickly, quickly! [Peers into Maria's cup] There is still some mead in here, there's no need to refill it. [Reaches out her hand to the goblet] Let her drink - then she will sleep.
Dzjuba: [Merrily] Whom do I see there? Is it you, Pana? O, ruler of my heart!
Jadwiga: [Moves away from the table hurriedly; speaks dryly] Please leave me alone.
Dzjuba: [Holds out his hand] What do you mean? Why do you punish me so harshly?
[The Polonaise sounds nearer]
Jadwiga: Go into the garden and keep quiet about me; I don't want to be seen.
Dzjuba: On the contrary, you will brighten up the whole party, and for today I shall be your dancing partner. I have no lady, as you see, but that is now my good fortune.
Jadwiga: [Impatiently] Are you going to leave?
Dzjuba: [Falls to his knees and grasps her by the hand] I am powerless, o ruler of my soul! Are you going to spurn me?
Jadwiga: [Pulls away from him and tries to leave] They are coming. [Dzjuba blocks her path] Let me go, let me go!
[The musicians enter, playing, and take their places. They are followed by the guests. Before the Wojewoda and Maria have entered, Dzjuba still fools around. The Wojewoda enters with Maria; Dzjuba turns to them in mock despair. The Wojewoda signals to the musicians to stop playing]
Dzjuba: I wish to make a complaint, Pan Wojewoda!
Wojewoda: [Leaves Maria and approaches Jadwiga, knitting his brows menacingly] What are you doing here? What do you want from me? What is this foolish scene with that old man all about? Did you want to make me jealous of him? Forget it!
Jadwiga: [Straightens up] Pan Wojewoda!
Wojewoda: [Not listening] What is it? Mockery, or perhaps a challenge?
Olesnicki: [Emerging from the crowd] Yes, a challenge! Either you apologize to her this instant for your rude and impertinent words, or else you will have it out with me.
Wojewoda: Little boy!
Olesnicki: [Draws his sabre] What?
Chorus: [General commotion; several guests draw arms, some others launch themselves at Olesnicki] Don't move, Pan! [To Olesnicki] Drop your weapon, or you'll pay for it!
Olesnicki: [Impetuously, to the guests gathered round him] If you are on his side, then I'm prepared to fight with you all.
Jadwiga: [Coming forward] Be quiet, Olesnicki, calm down; replace your sabre in its sheath and apologize to the Wojewoda. I stand insulted here, and I shall respond. [To the Wojewoda. Olesnicki reluctantly obeys. The commotion subsides] I do not deserve your reproaches, and I didn't come here to argue with you. I was drawn by the desire to save you, and can only reveal everything to you alone.
[Those present withdraw up-stage. The Wojewoda and Jadwiga stand on the proscenium. Dzjuba and the guests surround Olesnicki and mockingly reprimand him for his fervour. The ladies stand near to Maria]
Your behaviour has incensed Czaplinski and all the local szlachta; they see it as a violation of justice, and have sworn to take vengeance on you today. Prepare immediately for an invasion, arm your servants.
Wojewoda: [Proudly] To arms, Pani; I have more faith in you than in my servants. [More gently] I am ashamed that I got excited, and beg your forgiveness. However, I do declare that I do not fear the szlachta, but all the same, I thank you for your kind feelings for me.
Jadwiga: Shall I leave?
Wojewoda: Oh, no; I invite you to be my guest, and once more I apologize to you.
[With a ceremonious bow Jadwiga moves off to one side, watching the Wojewoda from a distance; the Wojewoda stays where he is, immersed in thought]
Quintet with chorus:
Wojewoda: Her appearance is incomprehensible! Is it possible that she still loves me, and does not harbour evil intentions in her heart? Our eternal union has been unexpectedly interrupted. I know her proud disposition of old, and I can only expect revenge from her. But forgotten jealousy, forsaken vengeance; she wants to avert my misfortune, and has warmly hurried to my aid, having forgotten her shame and hurt. She comes to me, she comes to me.
Olesnicki: I followed her orders, and the Pana's wish was my command. I have put my sword back in its sheath, I endured his insult; but do not think, Pana, that you have closed all accounts with me. I am not used to taking insults, Pana, I shall remember those harsh words for a long time, and even if the Pana unties my hands, I shall recall the insult immediately, and will pay her back, will pay her back.
Jadwiga: I must postpone my revenge, but I shall not wait long for it to come to pass. I shall not wait long until I have killed my pitiful rival. The time is nigh...Pan Wojewoda, Pan Wojewoda, I must take severe revenge on you for that insult and for my shame, for my shame.
Maria: This beautiful, distinguished Pana could be his wife, but I, have been living as her rival, like a blade of grass in the overgrown parts of the forest. Why has he abandoned her? Why has he eyes only for me?
Chorus: How unexpectedly this argument has turned out! How inopportunely this feast has been interrupted! What were they talking about in private for so long? The Wojewoda has become pensive, he has heard news which is not to his liking!
Dzjuba: In one moment the feast is quiet again, the guests are all confused; but let me not be called Dzjuba if I allow the feast to die down. Let me not be called Jan Dzjuba if I allow the feast to die down. I know a way in which merriment can be restored, in which merriment can be restored.
[Taking a lute from a servant, falls on his knees before Maria with an ingratiating smile. He holds out the lute]
Goddess! I come to you with supplications!
[The Wojewoda moves up-stage and beckons to his marshal; he gives him some instructions. Jadwiga and Olesnicki lose themselves in the crowd]
Maria: What is your wish, Pan?
Dzjuba: You know, no-one in the whole universe can sing like you can - we are all witnesses to this.
Maria: [Embarrassed] I thank you for the compliment, but I am tired.
Chorus: We all beg you: sing to us, Pana, there is not a singer like you among us.
Wojewoda: [Maria hangs her head, sighing deeply] And I ask you to fulfil my guests' wishes, Maria.
Maria: [Takes the lute from Dzjuba, undecided] My song will seem sad to you.
Chorus: We would be happy to listen if you would sing.
Maria: [Tries to pick out a few chords and puts the lute down again] I cannot.
Chorus: We all implore you warmly.
Wojewoda: Do not keep them waiting.
Maria: I cannot.
Wojewoda: [Frowning] When your spouse asks you to, you must.
Maria: [Her eyes flash] I must, did you say? I must? With pleasure!
The Song of the Dying Swan:
Maria: [Accompanies herself on the lute] I shall sing a song, with difficulty shall I make this sacrifice: I see the melancholy sea-shore; there on the beach, its wings spread, a swan lies, struck by an arrow. His appearance is pitiful, feeble, pale; he seeks his mate, but she does not come. And all alone he tosses and turns, the poor thing, his wings thrash against the hard granite. Where are you, answer me, my friend, my dearest! He calls out, languishing in his death-agony; soon you will lose your friend forever, you will never see one another again. Your sweetheart lies in his spilled blood, the arrow has pierced his heart so strongly. Wild, avaricious human evil has deprived him of you and of life itself.
[She puts down the lute and buries her head in her hands. All are deeply touched]
Wojewoda: Well, I have to confess that I didn't expect to hear such a sad song at this feast. It is out of place here and quite inappropriate. Look how you have all upset yourselves! Forget about her and calm down.
Maria: [Lifts her eyes heavenwards obliviously] He is already no more, my swan has flown away.
Wojewoda: Your swan? What words are these!
[Maria silently hangs her head]
Dzjuba: [Clapping his hands at the servants] Give us some mead! Its streams will make us all merry. Why be sad? We will make merry. Would you like to see my dancers? I've kept them until last on purpose; I didn't bring them with me for nothing. They dance Ukrainian dances just like the Cossacks. I taught them myself.
[On Dzjuba's signal his men run in, dressed in festive clothes. The servants distribute mead]
[The musicians play, and the dancers dance the Kazachok. The moon is low in the sky; in the East the dawn begins to break]
Chorus II: [Off-stage] Forward, friends! [In the garden shots ring out. The dancers stop confusedly, and the musicians stop playing abruptly. The guests listen out in agitation] Show no mercy! Slay all who stand in our way!
Chorus I: [On-stage] What's all that noise? They've seen some people in the garden, with sabres; they're coming here!
Chorus II: [Nearer] Where is the Wojewoda? You have guests! Your time has come!
Chorus I: It's an attack, an attack! Quickly, to arms!
[A crowd of szlachta burst into the hall, lead by Czaplinski and Poslawski. The guests attempt to block their path, but to no avail]
Czaplinski: [To the Wojewoda, pointing at Maria] She is mine!
Maria: [Seeing him, she is stunned at first; then, beside herself with joy, she tries to run to him] You're alive?
[The Wojewoda grasps her roughly by the arm and practically throws her onto the bench]
Wojewoda: But not for long.
[He throws himself at Czaplinski; they fight. Armed servants rush in from the door to the right. General fighting, clashing of sabres. Half the women run out in terror, the others cower against the walls. CURTAIN]
[CURTAIN. The same set as for the previous act. It is morning. The tables and benches are scattered around chaotically; there are obvious signs of a recent battle everywhere. The Wojewoda, visibly, fatigued, sits on a chair to the left. His marshal stands nearby, holding a bunch of keys]
Wojewoda: How many prisoners did we take?
Wojewoda: Do you have Czaplinski firmly locked up?
Marshal: He is in an underground dungeon.
Wojewoda: [Standing] Keep close watch until his execution.
[The marshal bows and exits. Maria appears in the doorway to the left, looking anxious and scared]
Maria: [In horror] Is he going to die?
Wojewoda: Of course he is going to die.
Maria: [Throws herself on her knees at the Wojewoda's feet] Oh, I pray, by all that is holy I beseech you: cancel your brutal command! Do not execute him, do not destroy him! For my sake have mercy! This is my first request of you, and it will be my last. I shall become your eternally obedient slave if only you will have pity; pardon him! You see, to me he is dearer than life itself; I have thus lost everything.
[All the time she keeps crossing herself]
Wojewoda: Does this mean he is dearer to you above all else, this swan of whom you sang yesterday? And me? Is my love for you nothing? Making your vows before the altar, did you commit perjury?
Maria: My God!
Wojewoda: Have you forgotten that I am your husband from henceforth, that you are mine in body and soul?
Maria: Righteous God!
Wojewoda: You may have forgotten - I cannot.
[He claps his hands. The marshal enters]
Quickly, set up a scaffold in front of the castle, and send a priest to Czaplinski. Summon the guests here, and make sure the hangman is ready in one hour.
[The marshal exits]
You will see how your beloved friend will end his life on the scaffold; then you can perhaps go to a convent - I shall not stop you.
[Opens the door and gestures Maria through it]
Maria: [Wringing her hands in despair] This is the end of everything, o righteous God!
[Exits through the door, followed by the Wojewoda; Jadwiga enters from the garden]
Jadwiga: I follow her like a shadow and bide my time; my hand hovers over her. The blow will surely fall - I only know not when. Olesnicki was called by the guests for some reason. I have escaped from him for a moment.
[Olesnicki can be seen looking for Jadwiga in the garden. Seeing her he quickly enters the hall]
But here he is again, my stupid little boy. [To him] What did they call you out for?
Olesnicki: [Discontented] It's all Dzjuba's doing! He pestered me, saying that I should definitely pass the goblets to the newly-weds when they meet, as a sign of reconciliation after yesterday's events.
Jadwiga: [To herself] Fate itself delivers her into my hands. [To Olesnicki] And what did you say?
Olesnicki: What could I say? I was forced to agree to everything.
Jadwiga: [Taking him by the hand] There remains one thing for you to do for me, then your probation will be over and I shall be yours; but first my vengeance must run its course. I cannot forgive him. He has already lost me forever; thus he will also lose her in the same way. You will pass them the chalices today. [Hands him the flask] Here is a flask - you will secretly empty it into her cup.
Olesnicki: Is it poison?
Jadwiga: Does that make any difference to you? The sin is not ours. Do this last service for me, and I shall be yours forever.
Olesnicki: [Firmly, after some thought] I will do it.
[He exits to the left into the garden. Jadwiga sees him to the garden, then returns. From the door to the left the Wojewoda enters, sombre, as before]
Jadwiga: Why so gloomy, Pan Wojewoda?
Wojewoda: [Happy to see her] You have appeared at the right moment to make fun of the one who, having fallen thoughtlessly for a pretty face, abandoned you, for which I agonizingly and bitterly repent. My dearest, I implore you! How can I atone for my evil treachery? How can I earn your forgiveness? The darkness of delusion is abating in my heart, and once more it is illuminated by pure feelings.
Jadwiga: [Animatedly] What is this I'm hearing? Is it really true? My heart is illumined with the light of hope, a striving for life is revived within it! The darkness of delusion is abating in my heart, and once more I am illuminated by former happiness.
Wojewoda: Only now do I understand that my life is incomplete without you; only now do I understand that I cannot be happy without you. [Pulls her towards him tenderly]
Jadwiga: [Embracing the Wojewoda] Do you only understand it now? But I, my dearest, never doubted for one moment that my happiness and life itself could only be found in you. I have been forced to know the meaning of so much grief, so much jealousy and yearning, so much gloom and heavy thoughts.
[Olesnicki walks through the garden from the left, carrying the goblets. Seeing the Wojewoda and Jadwiga, he stops momentarily and then quickly exits to the right]
Wojewoda: Forget it all quickly, and embrace me once more; we have many days of love and contentment ahead of us.
Jadwiga: I really do believe that there we have many days of love and contentment ahead of us.
Jadwiga: But there can be no happiness whilst Maria is still alive; you must become a widower.
[The sounds of a march can be heard. The Wojewoda and Jadwiga hurriedly tear themselves apart from each other: he exits through the door to the left, she moves away up-stage. From the garden to the right the guests appear, led by musicians. Dzjuba leads Olesnicki, who solemnly carries two goblets on a golden salver. The servants carry trays of mead for the guests and quickly arrange the tables. The guests and musicians stop in a half-circle around the door; Dzjuba and Olesnicki are at the head of the procession]
Dzjuba: This happy day we come to congratulate Pan Wojewoda. We bring the wedding drinks for him and his new wife.
Dzjuba, Chorus: Happy day, awaken from your sweet sleep. May your life be pure and bright. Our water revives us and you heart warms us; It caresses us and gives us life; it makes us joyful. May your life be pure and bright, full of love and abundant riches.
Dzjuba: Let the newly-weds drain their cups together with their friends!
[Olesnicki brings them the goblets; they drain them and bow to the guests]
Chorus: Vivat! Vivat! Vivat!
[The Wojewoda and Maria take their places, the guests sit at their tables; some of them are left over in groups scattered around the hall]
Wojewoda: [Rising to his full height] We thank you for this honour and greeting; once again our feasting can begin. But firstly the punishment will be severe on he who burst into this house yesterday with his mob, and threatened your lives with violence. Bring in the transgressor under heavy guard!
[The marshal exits with a bow. General expectation]
Maria: Oh, let me leave.
Wojewoda: [Pushes her firmly into her chair] You are not leaving.
[Czaplinski is brought in slowly, in chains. A confessional priest walks beside him, the executioner keeps at a distance. Under guard, Czaplinski slowly crosses the hall and stops a short distance in front of the Wojewoda]
Chorus: Oh, poor brave young man! He will perish for nothing. How handsome he is! But his crime is hard for the Wojewoda to forgive.
Wojewoda: [Stands up, staggers a little, and leans against the table] As a rebel who has burst in, armed, on a peaceful feast, you will be beheaded; your hour of execution is already upon us. Prepare yourself!
Czaplinski: I greet death with a smile; my conscience is clear and I am ready to face the judgement of the Most High. But are you ready for it, Wojewoda? You see, sooner or later death will come to you, and you will have to answer to the heavenly judge for those whose lives you have permanently destroyed, those you have separated with you cruel hand, those whose happiness you have trampled on forever. Oh, sinners washed in my tears and sprinkled with my red blood, prepare for judgement. Fear God!
Wojewoda: [Hammers the table angrily with his fist] Enough, impertinent szlachta! I do not have to answer to you for my transgressions. [Shudders and clasps his chest] Enough talking! Let's get on with it! [Staggers] What...What is wrong with me? My blood is burning! I feel suffocated!.. Aah!...
[He falls backwards, dead. Jadwiga falls on him with a loud cry]
Olesnicki: [On the proscenium, maliciously looking at the Wojewoda] How lucky for you rush to embrace him again! [Hides]
Chorus: What is wrong with him? Quickly, fetch a doctor! It's too late, he's already dead.
Marshal, Dzjuba,: [To Maria] You are a widow, Pana.
[A general hush descends. Amidst the general silence Maria approaches the Wojewoda's body; kneeling beside him and putting her hands together, she says a silent prayer]
Grant him eternal peace, O God; grant unto his soul unending light!
[Maria gets up and slowly turns to the servants]
Maria: [With dignity] Remove his chains; he is free. The judgement of the righteous God has been passed!