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Chronicals of Lake Narocz by Mieczyslaw Lisiewicz

This long out of print autobiographical work by this Polish author is reproduced here in full. I have transcribed the work and present it here for all to read. Copyright remains the property of the owners whoever and wherever they are. If anyone who is reading this has any historical facts, documents, maps or photographs about Narocz I would be very grateful if you would contact me, Alan at Landschaft I hope readers enjoy, as I have, the tales from this forgotten corner of the world.

Chapter VIII: The Church on the Shore


Kakzergi, Skiemie, Uzla Tyszkiewician, Tyszkiewicz, Ostrow, Hatowicz, Miastro, Nieslucz, Uzla, Lithuania, Czerewka, Podreza, Pasynka, Mikolec, Kupa, Miadziol, Miadziol Stary, Lake, Narocz, marshes of Polesia, Swir, Kobylnik, Wilno, Pasynki, Czerechy, Minsk


History of the gentry of Narocz and it's environs drawn from local legend and Nieslecki's book of Polish Gentry; Local legends and mysticism.

Further reading

Polish Genaelogical Society of America A searchable on-line database.

Polish Nobility: Bibilograpy The Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (then including today's Belarus and Ukraine) formed a political and dynastic union in 1386. A system of heraldic clans, already in existence in Poland, was extended to Lithuania via the adoption into as many Polish clans of forty-seven Lithuanian and Ruthenian noblemen at Horodlo in 1413. The Union of Both Nations was renewed at Lublin in 1569, and endured until its three-stage partitions at the hands of Prussia, Austria, and Russia: 1772, 1793, and 1795...

Polish Nobility and it's heraldry It will not be an overstatement to say that Polish heraldry is unlike any other style of heraldry, as it is considerably different from the Anglo-Norman heraldry with which most people in the Western countries are familiar...



Further reading


Chapter VIII: The Text

THERE was much gossip at the hostel about " the Island," and the experiences had there, so at last we set out for the place in three canoes. The island has many names; some call it " the Islet," some "Castle island," and others, with a fine illogicality, "Devil's Hollow." The young and care-free people of both sexes, who approach unnoticed, unfold and pitch their tents under a tree, light a bonfire and begin to fry eggs in a pan, only to vanish without trace two hours later; these creatures of the open air, sun worshippers and vagabonds, tanned to chocolate brown, gave the island the unexpected name of "Island of Love."

Maybe this name arose from the complete isolation, giving occasion and opportunity for every kind of caress. The island hung 'in the watery void, lost to the land, the ash trees of Ostrow bidding it farewell. Over it spread only the empty sky, of an elegant blue, or if not blue, of a dirty leaden colour.

If one looks at the lake from Hatowicz, even from the hostel or from the Headland, one cannot' see the Island. In the mists it melts into the background of trees, green and little hills near Mikolec. Only when bad weather coming from the west hides these hills, trees and 'green horizon in its stormy vanguard, does the island stand out more clearly against the curtains of grey rain. Then it looks like a vision, a Fata Morgana brought here by some caprice of Nature from the South Pacific Ocean. The flat shores of the island become a coral atoll, and the trees look like palms.

In reality the island is in two parts, hills and lowlands. It would he a pleasantly varied landscape hut for one thing: the hilly part is ioo yards square, and the plains measure half as rnuch again. On the "plains" grow reeds and brittle bushes ot dried wood, for the ground is wet; while on the "hills" the richness of flora is represented by three gnarled trees, with trunks twisted by the wind and the bark torn from the bases of the trunks, marks of the attacks of the spring ice.

The island has seen other attacks too. It is torn and furrowed by the Great War, during which it was turned into one great concrete blockhouse. To this day there are still standing the walls of those "unterstands" and "observationpunkts," "Komntandostellungs" and "fuchslochs," where once German soldiers, crowded as sardines while lying side by side under withering fire, dolefully remembered the beautiful meadows of Bavaria, various Liebchens, sweet youthful kisses and the recent leave.

On the hill, in the osiers, above the concrete, hid the nests of the few birds attracted by the solitude. Above this part, too, danced a continual cloud of coloured butterflies, dragonflies, and undines.

"Here," pompously exclaimed one of the members of our expedition, a young engineer, pointing to the ground, "here stood the castle of the knight Koscien."

"Who was this Koscien?" my wife asked him.

The omniscient engineer immediately began to explain that on the island, in the days of Queen Bona, a castle was built in which lived a wealthy knight who murdered his wife in a rage. Thunderbolts from Heaven avenged the murder : they burnt the castle and killed the knight, who having passed into Eternity, now haunts the lake. His apparition betokens the coming of fire or hail.

We listened to this explanation with becoming gravity.

"How do you know all this?" I asked, immediately thinking of it as a pretty good subject for a poem, or even more.

"They told me of it," he said, "in Elernka."

Elernka is a hostel near Kupa, belonging to the Ocean and Colonial League. I therefore carefully examined the island again. It's true that I found in one place a heap of brick and stone, but there was nothing to show that this heap was the remains of a Renaissance castle. I had to stop further exploration, as it was coming over cloudy. Anyway, there was nothing more to see except concrete and rubble.

A few days later I heard the name of the legendary knight again. This time the man telling the tale said that Koscien was supposed to have walled his brother's family up alive, after poisoning the brother himself. "You're a fine fellow!" I thought. "Whenever you're mentioned, blood flows from the very words." He apparently had some quarrel with the local devils, too. They, wanting to get on to the island and give the wicked knight a beating, began to build a great stone dyke from Mikolec, but were driven away by angels, for in the meantime the knight's conscience had pricked him and he had become a reformed character.

But when I went to visit Tony in Mikolec, and he too mentioned Koscien, connecting him with Queen Bona and the ruins on another island, this time on an island in the Miadziol Lake, I decided to get to the bottom of the story. Unfortunately no one could give me any more accurate information. The records of the local parishes had vanished, or had been burnt or taken away. Where? Whither? No one knew. Other clues also proved disappointing. Chronicles mention every other place in the country, but in all the chronicles of all the ages there is not one word of Narocz. As it it had never existed. That it did exist, nevertheless, I found from maps, from the i6th and I7th centuries, belonging to the Radziwills.

Only when studying the Geographical Dictionary in Krakow, looking under "N" for Narocz and "M" for Miadziol Stary, did I find the name, not, to be sure, Koscien, but Koszczyc, connected with Miadziol through the whole i8th century. Then I began to suspect the truth.

Miadziol. The two villages of Old and New Miadziol hang over the lake like two women seeking a lost ring in the water. They have shaded themselves from the sun with their crests of ash trees, and search, seek, and wait. In their frenzy they have lost all count of time, and certainly don't know if to-day is to-day or still yesterday. The forest which surrounded them, the forest of the Tartars and of Voivode Sakowicz who built the first church near the mosque (both church and mosque have disappeared from the face of the earth, razed by wars and consumed by fire. and the wind has scattered their ashes over the lake), the forest of the Fraczkiewdcz's, who came after Sakowicz, the Radziwills who followed the Fraczkiewiczes, the forest of the Rayskis, the Granowskis, has thinned out and at last vanished, leaving behind only the twisted trunks of lonely, unlovely pine trees. The district has changed, the wooden stockade was burnt and long ago covered by the earth, three churches went up in flames too, the lake has changed, its shores torn by the waves. The winds have altered the shapes of the hills, and, where once stood Oskierka's castle on Kaczergi, to-day is only marsh, where snipe wander and water-fowl quack.

That's it, the Koszczycs! ' They came after the Granowskis. They bought the estate of Miadziol from Bonaventura Granowski. They even built a palace, a church and a convent. The convent was dissolved and the palace fell to ruins during the Napoleonic Wars. Only the church remains. The village lies overhanging the lake, huddled under the hill. The wind which once thrashed the trees and roared in their leafy crowns, now rushes unchecked over the lake, whipping it to white foam. Sorrowfully in the wind, along the road to Mikolec, whine the rows of telegraph posts.

Here, in the middle of the last century, on a visit to the Wolodkowiczes, came a certain long-haired poet. He looked at the huts of the Tartar settlement, his eye ran over the woods red with the hues of autumn, which shut off the horizon across the lake; they lingered on Skiemie overgrown with reeds, on the glow of the Naroczankan sunset; and that poet burst out weeping. He poured out those copious tears on the pages of the Warsaw "Ivy."

I see you well, dear poet, as, terrified of wetting your almond-coloured trousers and pointed spats, wrapped in a black overcoat, with your hair loose in the wind, you stand in the bows of a fishing-boat, and improvise verses, which have been carefully written on your cuff beforehand. Writing of the great legand of Narocz, our dreamer, in love with the gilt-edged vellum, lets loose the reins of his imagination. Apparently he heard of the Koszcxycs from some former soldier of Napoleon-bah! An old veteran of the Koscius/.ko rehellion. I dare swear lie was an honest fisherman, who, at the most, had done forced service in the Russian ranks. In the words of the master, Satan in the forest, by the light ot fiery red lightning, looked after Koszczyc's affairs. I am only surprised that the long-haired poet took an interest in this local Satan. After all, these local devils reek of tar! However, I must always think thankfully of my long-haired poet. He was the one to show me a ray of light in the utter darkness. With his taper in my hand, I venture into the labyrinth of legend, fairy tale, ballad, old wives' tales, maybe, yet tragically true.

This is the story :

When the new sheriff, Anthony Koszczyc, returned A.D. 1784 from the Ukraine to take over his inheritance, all the 16 settlements, like one man, flocked to church and committed themselves to God's care. The sheriff was known as a violent man, a misanthrope, an eccentric, not a simpleton, but somewhat queer. He was a stocky man, with a swarthy complexion and sparse moustaches drooping like a Tartar's. That is how his portraits show him. He looked askance at the world, chewing his moustaches, and on whom-soever he happened to glance, that man, were he gentry born and bred or only a simple villager, felt cold shivers run up and down his spine.

He was the third Koszczyc in succession to possess Miadziol, for the family had been there for nearly ioo years, 'from 1687, to be exact. They had built themselves an abode which they grandiloquently dubbed a "palace."

From the terrace of this palace there was a wide view: across the lake spread the village of New Miadziol on the slope of the hill. This village was once the property of Barbara Radziwill (she had inherited it from Gasztowd, and after her death it became Crown Property, the perquisite of the King's Chamberlain). Farther, on the horizon, loomed through the mists the green wall of the Uzia Tyszkiewiczian. Though to the right the ash trees of the Mahometan cemetery cut off the view of the northern part of the Narocz, that shore, beautiful, steep and precipitous seemed especially picturesque. At the foot of the terrace murmured the waters of the Miastro. When the autumn winds blew, the lake broke into foam on the very doorstep. In winter the snow changed all this beauty of grey, brown, emerald, and red to shining white. Then with the winter came the silence, so quiet it rang in the ears, the silence of complete torpor. The winter whiteness fills the too sensitive soul with a fatal melancholy. And winter lasts long, longer than summer.

Almost the whole of Miastro and Narocz, with the shores from Nieslucz to beyond Mikolec, belonged to the Koszczycs. They were great and rich estates, somewhat neglected by the father of the present owner, who preferred to stay in Warsaw rather than in the Ukraine, and only towards the end of his life began to come regularly to the lake. The new heir at first wanted to rid himself of his inheritance, but, although there were many willing to purchase it, somehow the bargain was never made. Sheriff Turkuc died on the very day the bill of sale was to have been signed; Zabiello was taken ill during the process of coming to an agreement, and also passed into a better world; and Count Constantine Mycielski was on his way to Wilno to meet Koszczyc, when his horse bolted and his neck was broken. Then the rumour began to spread that it was unlucky to buy Miadziol. The prospective, purchasers faded from view, and Koszczyc was left standing in his own lake waters. When he finally installed himself, he began to lead a strange life. The estate was managed by his father's old bailiff, one Skirmunt, while the sheriff himself wandered in the woods, spending much time on the lake ' and in hunting. But what strange hunting it was! Sometimes he would get off his horse, sit down on the nearest stone or fallen tree-trunk, and sit silent for hours looking at the lake. At other times, leaving his huntsman and pages, sticking the pistol from his holster in his belt, he would go into the thickets and vanish for long periods.

When the news of these strange habits got about the neighbourhood they were put down to an uneasy conscience. There are some sins which cry to heaven for vengeance. Soon people remembered the almost forgotten story of Anulka from the Tyszkiewiczean mill on the Uzla.

Once from such a hunting expedition the sheriff raced back to Miadziol as fast as his horse could carry him, with his cap on awry, and eyes as wide as saucers. His falconer and two pages (they had been out hawking for herons) could hardly keep pace with him. He left his horse at the door and not looking round went to his office, and shut himself in. He came downstairs only at supper-time. After supper he left the company, but did not go to bed as usual. He ordered candles to burn all night in his bed-chamber, a great many candles, and a fire in the grate though it was a warm June night, fragrant of nectar, with a full moon. A night such as is found only here, a real Lithuanian night. Till morning, till the moment when dawn lit up the forests on the Uzia, and the grey trees began to peep over the mist at themselves in the water, he walked and walked. In the morning Skirmunt came as usual for orders. Then the sheriff pronounced these mysterious words:

"I tell you, I must have a son!" Skirmunt did not understand, but nodded in agreement.

All this was because the sheriff had had a wife chosen for him in his father's will. His father knew his son well. There had been much talk of Chasiey's daughter among the Tartars. Anthony, who was still a youngster, had had to escape as quickly as possible when the girl had thrown herself and her child into the Miastro, and the old man had hanged himself in his mill.

The bride chosen for Anthony by his father was poor, and an orphan, but of good family. The Koszczycs were proud, tracing their descent from Roman patricians or Armenian kings (who in Poland has not M'thridates at the root of his family tree?). The lady's family were the descendants of Mendog/ Besides, the sheriff's mother, Duninowna, was descended from the Princes of Denmark. Perhaps this exalted lineage was the cause of all the misfortune.

After a sleepless night, the sheriff immediately set off to Polock for the maiden. He returned with a wife, and on his return gave a great ball for the local gentry. Although on the whole they had always avoided the sheriff-whether on account of his pride or because of his eccentricity-yet there appeared then in Miadziol all the neighbours, both near and distant, curious to see wliat it would be like. It was a noble feast, abundant, generous and elegant. Good wine, food in plenty, a pretty bride, and the sheriff pleased and satisfied. He wandered about the house button-holing his guests, drinking with them and not allowing them to leave.

Things had changed. The sheriff began to win back hand over fist the esteem he had lost. One feast followed another, wine flowed like water, life was one continual entertainment. Dancing on the edge of the lake, "kuligs"2 with loo sleighs, excursions on the lake in boats joined together to form a huge raft, hunting with many thrills, of which even Radziwill need not have been ashamed. Even when his wife was expecting, the banquets went on, and the sheriff on every occasion would propose a toast to- his future son. He told someone once, in befuddled good humour, of the secret prophecy of his son's great future.

But this joy did not last long. Carriages arriving at the "palace" on St. Anthony's Day found, the house dark, locked and barred. All that could be pressed from the servants was that the sheriff and his wife had suddenly left for Warsaw. One lackey let it out that the sheriff was .ashamed that instead of a son, a daughter had been born to him. At first this caused great amazement, but as the sheriff had always been queer, the fact was accepted, and at last even forgotten-the house in Miadziol stood empty.

The' Miastro thawed with the coming of spring, and froze again next winter, not before someone had been drowned in it as usual. Dull and sunny days by turns sped across the lake. The bream of the northern shores met for spawning, and the inhabitants of the villages of Czerewka, Podreza and Pasynka attended this spawning as in duty bound. The lakes were sometimes smooth as the face of a sleeping child, sometimes criss-crossed with wrinkles like that of a bad tempered old man. The watery echoes mingled with those of the forest, and on the Uzia shore more and more trees fell.

Suddenly the sheriff returned, but the manor remained closed, no guests were received, and the K.oszczycs led a cloistered life. Thus passed io long years from the day when the old man had promised the sheriff that, if he had a son, that son would wear a crown. But as if out of spite only daughters were born. Their father put them all out to nurse at farms, not wishing to have them even in sight, and deciding from the beginning that they must become nuns. They were to enter the Carmelite convent at Minsk, where the Abbess was a close relation of the family. When the sheriff spoke of his daughters, he never called them anything but "my four monkeys." He hated those four "monkeys" heartily.

Again he began to go alone to the forest and wander in the thickets. He believed that some superhuman powers of the forest and lake, the same which had opposed the passing of Miadziol into the hands of strangers, now would not allow the family male heirs. Not only for the sake of the crown, but in order that the name should not die out (the sheriff's brother was a priest, and the sheriff the ,last of the line) he eagerly yearned for a. son."

The usual human methods; masses, ex-vota, pilgrimages, all led to nothing. The sheriff was prepared to deal with any power which would give him a son; with the white magic which is pleased by offerings of incense, or with that which, as they still say to-day, in the depths of the forest, at the foot of an oak near a dark stream, gladly accepts blood sacrifices. In spite of all this, God did not help him. The sheriff did not know to whom he should turn. Perhaps the old man, who had staunched the blood from his cut hand with a word, and othen, describing a circle with his hand, as if calling woods and water to witness, promised that if there should be a son, his temples would be adorned by the crown. He recalled the details of the meeting, and remembered them with alarm. When the old man had spoken there were also some voices in the woods, a smell of graveyards rose around them, the lake seethed and foamed like a frightened horse, and there came an echo of horns and the baying of hounds-obviously ghostly. The sheriff's hair stood on end when he remembered the old man's eyes, pupils without irises, round, green, full of fire, not the e'yes of a man, but the pupils of a wolf.

Perhaps it was-here the sheriff's heart beat faster-miller Chasiey changed into the old man? A corpse which enticed to evil things? A spectre like those which rise from the weeds of the lake and drag one back to the depths? The peasantssay that at the full moon the burnt mill appears from beneath the waters, and on the mill-wheel dances Anulka with her ashen child in her arms.

Though he sought every aid, he could not, did not wish, was not yet prepared to do as a certain witch advised him; to go at midnight to the cross-roads, and after saying the Lord's Prayer backwards, call to the west wind the names of Lucifer, Asmodeus, Gog, and Magog. For suppose he should answer, should stand before him, hairy, horned, with claw-like hands? When the sheriff thought of this he was ready to give up all hope of a son, and all hope of his son's crown. Yet the thoughts flowed back, as if they came from the autumnal lake, and they were- as turbid, troubled, and dark as the lake. He longed to believe that there was no need of Hell, for God would yet turn his countenance on the Koszczycs. As before he began to buy masses, and travel from Poczajowa to Ostra Brama, from Czestochowa to Luck, everywhere making offerings and taking with him his wife, who from much childbearing had begun to ail.

Thus passed days, months, years. All was in vain, only the daughters grew.

The sheriff hated to see, not only his daughters but his wife. She had the paleness of a martyr, was always telling her beads, always troubled, always trying to gain the companionship of at least one of the "four monkeys." So in the end he came to lay the blame on h:s wife, and began to consider the idea of divorce.

As has been said, his younger brother was a priest. He had been born prematurely, and was a feeble creature, not at all suited to be a soldier. In the hope that the child would, by God's good grace, and the king's, attain high rank in the church, his father chose for him an ecclesiastical career. The lad was contented with his fate. The quiet of the cloister was dearer to him than anything. Modest and pious, he wished only to spend a quiet life in holy solitude. Only when pressed bv his father not to cease to be ambitious, did he at last accept a parish in one of the villages of Malopolska,* but soon changed it for another, a small mountain village on the borders of Silesia and Hungary. As he considered his brother to be a holy and wise man, the sheriff went to him for advice how to obtain a divorce. But he met with an unpleasant surprise. When his brother heard what the matter was about, he made the sign of the cross between himself and the sheriff, and burst out:

"Can I believe my ears? Thus speaks a Christian? A Catholic? Oh, horror! Did Our Saviour ordain the holy sacrament of marriage that we should cast it aside for the vanitas omnium vanitatum Live quietly and in godliness with your wife, rejoice in your daughters (I hear you have spurned them, is that true?), strive by your' present life to wipe out your past sins, for I know they were many, exemplum Anulka (may God have mercy on her soul), but the Merciful God may forget and bless you."

The sheriff blushed, started up, and shouting, "I hoped for another answer from the lips of a brother and a Koszczyc!" rode away. However, he did not give up his intention of obtaining a divorce, though all his further efforts came to nought. The Bishop of Wilno refused his aid, the Primate would not even listen, and a certain Abbe Costalozzi, who was accustomed to conducting affairs in Rome, achieved nothing. At that time in Rome was proceeding the famous divorce of "Fortunate" Potocki and Maria Komorowska, and Polish divorces were looked upon with disapproval.

The lakes reddened with the sunset, and glowed pink at dawn. Winds passed over them, carrying before them curtains of rain, and ahead of them flew weeping gulls and gloomy fish-eagles. The winter came. The humbled .lakes slept beneath the ice in their white, frost-spangled prisons. Only sometimes a storm tore across them, whirled the snow into a blizzard and hurled it at the shore, breaking the white onrush on the naked trees in the palace gardens. The sheriff stood by the window, watched and clenched his fists.

Again it grew warm in summer. Now above the lake near the palace sat a row of "knowing" old, sooth-saying women. They cast the spell of the water on the newly awakened life, fertile and prolific, like the fertile and prolific depths from which come silver fish to the glory of God, and slippery eels for hidden powers. There smoked a heap of herbs, gathered secretly at the new moon. Smoke and whispers went out into the summer night, with charms and incantations, mysteries born of the marshes of Polesia, culled from the forests where holy fungi grow. Muttered words rose above the rustle of the grass.

The lake reflected the light and drank up the words. The gleams played over its watery body like the play of the veins under the skin of a mare of eastern breed. Do you remember? Sudden bluish wrinklings, running over the dark surface of the hide when the bristles are stirred by the breeze.

The sheriff watched and listened from the balcony, and his lady and Miss Rogozinska, not knowing what it was all about, told their beads. The lake was silent. Soon the doctors summoned from Wilno and Warsaw announced that, according to their opinion, the sheriff's wife would not give birth, nor even become pregnant, since she had a torn womb.

The sheriff gnashed his teeth and again began to go to the forest. He wanted to find there the old man, the false prophet, and get even with him. But it was as if he had sunk into the earth. No one had ever heard of such an old man. At last the foresters .of the Uzia told him of a wizard who lived in the very centre of "Purgatory," never left the marshes, and was a miraculous healer and fortune teller. But what? Even the half-wild peasants from Czereszyce near "Purgatory," who in all their lives had done nothing but roam the bogs, living off them, could not show the way to this old man. The sheriff asked:

"What does this old man look like?" '

"Tall, very tall. You watch, and he grows like a pine tree, look again and he's sunk in the earth. A white heard he has, snowy white, and eyes-ooh! stars! "

"Where does he live?"

"He's the devil's, the devil knows."

And they glanced around as they spoke. Pressed they became silent, and tried to get out of it all. He was obliged to return home with nothing.

Worst of all, the neighbouring gentry began to snigger at this search for a son and gossiped about it a lot-even mocking Koszczyc's behaviour heartily. Koszczyc then, not waiting for the doubtful divorce, tried another way. He wrote to kinsmen, friends and acquaintances all over the Commonwealth, begging them, if they should meet or hear of any Koszczyc (there were still two branches of the family, Volhynian and Ruthenian, with whom contact had apparently been lost during the Cossack riots) they would 'without loss of time let the sheriff know or send the namesake straight to Miadziol. For, "as unkind fate has denied me the sweetness of male descendants of my old age, I have firmly decided even to adopt my namesake, give him one of my daughters, whichever he chooses, for a wife, and make him the heir, not only to a famous name, but to the whole estates, which are considerable."

Not far from Swir, in the same district, lived a fairly well situated knight, by name Niewiarowicz. He was famous for his love of practical jokes and his sharp tongue. People were a little afraid of him, for his jokes knew no measure, and he told the truth to everyone's face, whether the listener wished to hear it or not. There cannot be anyone in this world who cares for such gall.

Niewiarowicz did not like Koszczyc. He often provoked him, but the sheriff, for reasons best known to himself, let his insults go by unheeded. Till once they me't at Kobyinik at a kermis. Niewiarowicz was well "pickled." When he caught sight of Koszczyc he began to shout that there was no kermis for the wizard. At the uproar everyone gathered round, scenting a quarrel.

But the sheriff passed by Niewiarowicz without even turning his head.

"Come, sir, why do you stand here? Have you never seen a drunken man?" he remarked to Wieclawowicz, with whom he was walking, and drew the chamberlain with him.

"Here comes Conceit, Conceit puffs himself up, gangway tor Conceit!" Niewiarowicz kept shouting.

Unfortunately it happened that when Niewiarowicz was returning home from the kermis, a tree cut by a lumberman in the forest fell on his carriage, which was smashed to dust, and Niewiarowicz was only saved by chance, being able to jump out in time. He soon spread about the district that the sheriff had a pact with sorcerers and wished to remove him from this world by spells.

"I am no wizard, but I know such spells that Koszczyc's black magic will sink into his boots," he asserted before witnesses.

The sheriff, when told of this, only waved his hand carelessly.

Some little time after the writing of the letters about his namesake, there came to the palace an old man leaning on a stick and dressed in a ragged russet cloak. He insisted on seeing the sheriff, saying that he brought important news. On admission, he handed the sheriff a letter from Niewiarowicz. The letter read as follows :-

"Most Worshipful Sheriff and Gracious Benefactor!

"Having an unchanging sympathy for You, Most Worshipful Sheriff and Gracious Benefactor, in my humble heart, and knowing that You, Worshipful Sir, have always a like feeling for me,. being unable to bear the sight of the way in which My Most Gracious Benefactor 'in currendo troubles himself over his lack of heirs, worthy 'gentis illustrissimae,' in neighbourly zeal permit myself to direct to Your address a cousin.

"He is somewhat damaged 'calamitatis fortunae' and-1 must admit-advanced in years. But I trust that noble blood counts for more than age or condition. Reflecting that more than one has been healed and 'reparatus' by great fortune, and leaving the rest to faith, which moves mountains, I commit the matter to Your care with fervent prayers.

"Believing that in this way I win at least some slight right to Your good graces, and remaining Your unworthy servant, I pray for remembrance and bow to You and all Your House.


When the sheriff read this, he flushed and his face darkened, and such sparks flew from his eyes that Skirmunt, who was present, sought a way of escape. The sheriff did not attack the old man, however, but began to question him. It appeared that the old man, though he did indeed bear the name of Koszczyc, had no documents, and worse, did not even know who were his parents. Then the sheriff burst out. He summoned his people, ordered the old man ioo lashes and prom-'sed him iooo more if he dared to use a noble name.

The old man shook his sore bones and took himself off, straight to Niewiarowicz. The latter took him in, poulticed his beaten back, and when he recovered dressed him as a noble, with a sword at his side, but in bare feet, and took him to the fair at Michaliszki. There he went everywhere with him, introducing him always as Koszczyc.

Koszczyc did not quite know what to do. Niewiarowicz was cousin to Father Lapocki, who had great influence in the Wilno consistory, and the sheriff had not yet lost all hope of eventually obtaining a divorce. Thus the whole affair ended in mutual threats. But again people misconstrued the sheriff's involuntary mildness.

Two months later Lord Oskierka celebrated a riotous birthday party at Kobyinik. The sheriff, having first assured himself that Niewiarowicz would not be there, went with Wieclawowicz and Captain Kubicki to offer his congratulations. As usual there was much deep drinking, and during the carousal the bold Halko addressed himself to the sheriff thus:

"For God's sake, My Lord Sheriff! I hear that you have collected all the 'wise women' in Lithuania to Miadziol, in order to find some way of begetting a son. You'ld do better to drown them all, and invite me to the ceremony, which is one I've never witnessed, and go to Mr. Syruc for some expert advice-I've heard that he is expecting a twelfth son."

All the company burst out laughing.

The sheriff felt for his sword, but their host threw himself between him and Halko, calling on all the saints that the sheriff should not take Jesting words seriously. The sheriff regained control of himself.

"Very well!" he exclaimed, "as you ask me, so be it! As Niewiarowicz is protected by the bishop, so Halko finds refuge behind your Grace. So be it! No Koszczyc shelters in the shade of bishop or Duke. This I will say: it is all very well for you all to laugh at another's misfortune. But I swear that I will have a son! The priests may talk, prayers, fasting, alms, and God knows what all. I will pay God well in advance. If a son is born to me He shall never lack incense. I invite you all, gentlemen, to the consecration of a new church and monastery at Miadziol on this day year, and after to the christening. If that does not help," he added, "I shall know to whom I must turn, and who will help me." Again Halko, crying, "Let him who believes in God strike the blasphemer!" threw himself on rhe sheriff, but was held back by those who caught hold of his coat-tails. The sheriff, as though he had heard and seen nothing, clapped on his hat and returned with his friends to Miadziol.

He set to work without delay. First of all he hurried off to Wilno. Soon there came to Miadziol three waggons full of builders and masons, and they began to build a new church on the foundations of the one burnt down 70 years before. Two hundred labourers were told off for the work, and ioo boats brought great stones from Hatowicze, Mikolec, Pasynki, and Czerechy for the walls. The sheriff had no special wishes regarding the plan of the church save one : that its roof should be visible all over the Miastro and Narocz. And so it came to pass.

There arose a church with a round nave, not large but beautiful, from which on all four sides branched semi-circular alcoves in the shape of a four-leaved clover, forming the arms of the cross. A high cupola threw light from above. Beautiful pews for the donor, his family and household were placed in the gallery behind gilt bars, beside the choir and the organ. It was a fine church. Beside it had been built a monastery, and outbuildings for the monastic servants.

Fifty Sundays after Oskierka's birthday, Carmelite Fathers from Czernca were praying over the body of St. Justinius. The body had been brought all the way from Rome, and its purchase alone cost the sheriff io,ooo golden escudos. Two villages were mortgaged, but three counties came to the consecration. The Bishop of Minsk and many clergy came with the Bishop of Wilno.

The sheriff again went about well pleased with himself, smiling, and hospitable, treating even the humblest effusively. He had good reason to be cheerful; his wife, in spite of the doctors' opinions, was again "in a certain condition," and everything went to show that this .time it really would be a son.

The murmur of the lake no longer annoyed the sheriff. He listened with satisfaction as more than one of the gentry from the further counties, standing on the shore gaped with amazement, saying:

"Can I be dreaming? Where have the Gods brought me? Surely to that sea, 'mare immensum,' where sail the fleets of Rome!"

My Lord Bishop Massalski compared the Narocz with the Tiber, and Tyszkiewicz with the waters of Scotland, where he had been in his time. The sheriff blushed with pleasure, caught everyone and invited them all to the approaching christening. Preparations began as soon as the guests had left. It was already clear that the mother would not be able to feed the child herself, so a search for wet nurses began. The sheriff insisted that the nurse be a gentlewoman. A suitable one was found, an eighteen-year-old widow Jasinska from New Miadziol, whose husband had been drowned during a storm on the lake. She was immediately brought to the "palace" and placed under the care of Miss Rogozinska.

At the same time letters were sent to the farthest counties with invitations. A layette and cradle for the infant were ordered from Paris. Thin lawn arrived from Paris, and Lyons silks, priceless Brussels lace, and ribbons from Alen~on. The cradle was the eighth wonder of the world, of ebony with ivory and mother-of-pearl. On either side were carved in high relief the arms of the parents. The brocade hangings in the colours and emblems of these arms were held at the top by a golden coronet, neither gentle nor ducal, but rather royal. The curious were told that it was the Danish crown which came down from the grandmother, Duninowna. In his heart, however, the sheriff had another thought.

At last the crucial day came. The sheriff, as he liked to do, stood on the balcony and gazed at the lake. It was covered by the pall of a starless night. The night was damp and cloudless. From over the Uzia flickered the little fires of an approaching storm. When the first gusts of wind struck the window-panes and the first peal of thunder sounded over the lake, Miss Rogozinska ran breathlessly to the sheriff and informed him that it was a son.

The storm raged over the lake, every flash of lightning showing a view of long streaks of foam flying over the water in eddies and whirlpools. But the sheriff, if he could, would have flown at the head of the storm, borne on the wind, lit by the red lightning.