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I was m sud1 fright I could hardly breathe. Tears were coming hard.  I ... I swear, I choked out.
'On the sacred name of Jesus.
'On ... the sacred name ... of Jesus, I went on.
'That I will be your servant.. .
'That I will be your servant.. .
'That if I default.. .
'If I default.. .
The words caught in my throat, It was a dreadful thing he was making me swear. One could never break such vows.
'Say it, he cried, his dagger drawing closer.
In fear for my life, I said,  If I default .. .
'May the all-seeing God strike me dead where I stand.
'May the all-seeing God ... strike me dead, I whispered.
'Where I stand. 'Where I stand.
'Done, he proclaimed. Then he put his dagger aside and tossed me a piece of bread. 'Now you are mine, or God will chew
you up and spit you out like the living with all wolf's heads are.
19
BREAD CLUTCHED IN MY trembling hand, I crept into a corner of the broken church as far from the monstrous man as I
could go. As I swallowed the bread he'd given me, I knew I'd sworn a sacred oath to whid1I was forever bound. Far better, I
thought, to have died on the road
Hearing him move about, I stole an anxious glance in his direction. He had sat down again, but m such a place so as to
prevent me from bolting. What's more, he was staring at me with his moist, sly eyes. I dared to look back with the greatest
loathing I had ever felt.
'Ah, boy, what does it matter!' he said, speaking in a far softer voice than before.  You didn't truly expect to live without a
master, did you!'
I made no reply.
'Or do you believe that some day none of us will have masters?
Unable to find words for my misery, I remained mute.
'Answer me!' he cried, making me jump.  Do you believe that some day none of us will have masters, or not!'
I shook my head.
'Why not!'
'God', I said, gulping down my misery, 'has willed it otherwise.
'And yet, he said, leaning towards me and leering,  when Adam ploughed the earth and Eve span, who then was the
gentleman!'
His question was so unusual, I did not, could not, respond.
'You don't like my sense of humour,' he said.  You think it treasonous.
I wanted to say yes, but was too afraid.
'You needn't be so resentful, he said. 'When you've lived as much as I, you'll learn to neither trust nor love any mortal. Then
the only one who can betray you is yourself
I didn't know what to say.
'Do you ever smile, boy!' he demanded. If you cant laugh and smile, life is worthless. Do you hear me?' he yelled. 'It's
nothing!'
I winced.
Then, smiling, he cocked his head to one side and ruffled up his beard. With a sweep of his hand, he snatched off his hat,
revealing a bald pate. 'By the love of St Arnulf the King, he said, you could do much worse than being bound to me.
That stated, he seemed to pull back within himself and give way to private thoughts.
Fearing what sudden thing he might do next, I watched him warily. But after a while he said only,  Do you wish to ask me
anything? Who I am! My name! What I'm doing here!'
'It doesn't ... matter, I stammered.
'Why!' he said.
'Because you're already my master for ever.,
'So be it, he said, acting as if I had offended him.
For a while he toyed with his hat, not to any purpose that I could see, but as if lost in thought. At length, however, he reached
over and took up his sack and rummaged through it, From it he took out three balls, each made of stitched leather.
To my surprise he tossed the balls into the air. Instead of falling to the ground, they stayed in the air and rotated at his will,
with only the smallest touch and encouragement of his fingers.
I looked on, astonished.
'What think you of that!' he said, laughing. 'Are they.., enchanted, sir!' I whispered. 'Hardly, he said as he continued to keep
the balls in the air, sometimes higher, sometimes lower, until, as abruptly as he'd begun, he gathered them in and they rested
upon his great slab like hands.
'I'm a juggler, he said. When I made no response he said, 'Don't you know the word!'
I shook my head.
A French word It means I balance things, or toss balls, boxes, knives - anything I choose - through the air and catch them up
again. And what do I do with my skills! I wander from town to town through the kingdom Not as a beggar, mind you, but as a
man of skills. Skills, boy, which enable me to gather enough farthings and pennies to live and keep this belly full. He patted
himself on his large stomach.  Believe me, he said,  there s no place in the kingdom I've not been. Gascony, Brittany and
Scotland too, for that matter. What think you of that!' [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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