For Greater Things; the Story of Saint Stanislaus Kostka

Author: William Terence Kane

Chapter X the Runaway

He was going to run away. But he was not going to sneak away. He was just as kind and forgiving to Paul as he had always been. He bore him no ill-will for his three years of abuse, now that he had determined upon a course of action, which would free him from a continuance of it. He had often felt angry over Paul’s treatment of him, but he had kept down his anger under his vigorous will.

But now he made up his mind that Paul would receive something of a shock the next time he had resort to his now almost habitual amusement of beating his younger brother. Meantime, he bought a peasant’s tunic and a pair of rough shoes that would be serviceable for his long march.

It was not long before something or other Stanislaus did or said woke Paul’s easily aroused rage. He began with oaths, of which he seemed to possess a pretty stock. He worked himself up into greater and greater heat of temper - a substitute for courage with many people. Finally he sprang at Stanislaus. Formerly, on such occasions Stanislaus was so busy holding his own temper in check that he could do little else, he stood almost like a statue. But this time Paul felt there was something wrong. Stanislaus was looking straight at him. When he leaped to strike him, Stanislaus quietly and skillfully thrust him aside. Paul stumbled, staggered, recovered himself. But when he looked again, fear took hold of him. He was afraid of what he saw in Stanislaus’ eyes. The younger boy spoke quietly, coolly.

"That will be about enough," he said; "I’ve put up with your cowardice and brutality for three years. I’ll stand it no longer. Since I cannot have peace here, well,. I’ll look for it somewhere else. You can answer to our father, and tell him how it happened."

Paul was still frightened. The situation was extremely novel to him. The turning of the worm! What would happen next! He was afraid at first that Stanislaus was going to give him his long-due payment, and he had no stomach to face the reckoning. He had not noticed before how wiry and strong Stanislaus looked. But when he saw that the boy made no movement, only spoke in that quiet voice, he plucked up a little courage. He began to bluster and swear.

"You’ll go away, will you?" he cried. "What the devil do I care? Go, and be hanged to you!" - that was the gist of it, only a trifle more ornamental.

"Don’t forget! " said Stanislaus. " Send word to father. I’m certainly going away."

Paul was waxing eloquent again, but Stanislaus turned on his heel and walked away. Nor did the bullying big brother venture to follow him. He contented himself with calling him hard names which he could not hear, and muttering savagely to himself for some time. But, naturally, he did not believe at all that Stanislaus was really going to run away9 He looked upon the words as an empty threat.

And so it was all over. Stanislaus sighed a sigh of relief. There was nothing ahead of him now save the road to Augsburg. He said his prayers tranquilly and went to bed.

Morning came, or the dawn that precedes the morning. Stanislaus got up, selected his finest suit of clothes, and dressed. His first care was to write the letter for Paul and his father. This he put between the leaves of a book.

The servants, of course, even in the primitive housekeeping of the Kostkas, slept in another room than the big common apartment of their masters. Stanislaus went to the bed of one of them, named Pacifici, who was rather particularly devoted to him, and who afterwards became a Franciscan. He shook Pacifici and woke him. The servant rubbed his eyes sleepily, then gazed in astonishment at the brilliant figure standing in the half-light beside his bed. What was the Lord Stanislaus doing, dressed in this unusual finery, at such an unearthly hour!

"Listen," said Stanislaus, "I am going out for the day. I have received an invitation which I must accept. I am going now. If Bilinski or the Lord Paul ask for me, tell them that."

"I will, your grace, I will," said Pacifici. But he was almost too astonished to speak.

Stanislaus left the room and the house. He walked quickly to the Jesuit church, where he heard Mass and received Holy Communion. At Mass he met a young Hungarian, with whom he had been very intimate. He beckoned him aside and whispered:

"Wait for me a minute. I just want to say a word to Father Antoni."

Then he hurried away, but was back shortly at his friend’s side, eyes dancing, lips smiling, hand outstretched.

"I have just bid Father Antoni good-by," he said, with a little excitement. "I am running away. I am going to Augsburg’ to ask admission into the Society of Jesus. I told Paul yesterday that I should not stay with him, and I have written a letter and put it in a book. Do not tell any one what I tell you now. But after a few days, please go and point out the letter to Paul."

His friend listened with wonder. Going away!’ Going to Augsburg!

"But how?" he asked. "Not on foot?"

"On foot, to be sure," answered Stanislaus gayly. "Do you think I have a horse secreted about me? Or could I take one of ours and wake the house?"

"And you will be a Jesuit, and teach, and never ride a good horse again, and give up your people and your place in the world!"

"I shall be a Jesuit, if I can," said Stanislaus. "As for what I shall give up, well, I’d have to give it up when death came, wouldn’t I? And since God wants it, I’d sooner give it up now."

But he had not much time for talk. Day was growing; he must be off. He got his friend’s promise about the letter, bade him good-by heartily and cheerily, and turned his face towards the Augsburg road. What happened else that day we have already seen, and how Paul and Bilinski followed him, and how he got away, and how he did walk, bravely, gayly, in less than two weeks the four hundred miles to Augsburg.


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Chicago: William Terence Kane, "Chapter X the Runaway," For Greater Things; the Story of Saint Stanislaus Kostka, trans. Smith, R. in For Greater Things; the Story of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Original Sources, accessed December 9, 2023,

MLA: Kane, William Terence. "Chapter X the Runaway." For Greater Things; the Story of Saint Stanislaus Kostka, translted by Smith, R., in For Greater Things; the Story of Saint Stanislaus Kostka, Original Sources. 9 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: Kane, WT, 'Chapter X the Runaway' in For Greater Things; the Story of Saint Stanislaus Kostka, trans. . cited in , For Greater Things; the Story of Saint Stanislaus Kostka. Original Sources, retrieved 9 December 2023, from