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Sidonia The Sorceress V1 by William Mienhold

Part 6 out of 8

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troop of robbers from the forest, Appelmann at their head--seize
every dish with the kale and meat that had been laid on the
tables, stick the loaves into their pockets, and gallop away as
hard as they can across into the Stettin border.

How the maids screamed and lamented I leave unsaid; but if any one
of them followed and seized a robber by the hair, he drew his
knife, so she was glad enough to run back again, while the
impudent troop laughed and jeered. Thus was it then in dear
Pomerania land! It seemed as if God had forsaken them; for the
nobles began their feuds, as of old, and the Jews were tormented
even to the death--yea, even the pastors were chased away, as if,
indeed, they had all learned of Otto Bork, these nobles saying,
"What need of these idle, prating swaddlers, with their prosy
sermons and whining psalms, teaching, forsooth, that all men are
equal, and that God makes no difference between lord and peasant?
Away with them! If the people learn such doctrine, no wonder if
they grow proud and disobedient--better no priests in the land."
And such-like ungodly talk was heard everywhere.

CHAPTER XII.

_How the peasants in Marienfliess want to burn a witch, but are
hindered by Johann Appelmann and Sidonia, who discover an old
acquaintance in the witch, the girl Wolde Albrechts._

At this time, one David Grosskopf was pastor of Marienfliess. He
was a learned and pious man, and like other pious priests, was in
the habit of gathering all the women-folk of the parish in his
study of a winter's evening, particularly the young maidens, with
their spinning-wheels. And there they all sat spinning round the
comfortable fire, while he read out to them from God's Word, and
questioned them on it, and exhorted them to their duties. Thus was
it done every evening during the winter, the maidens spinning
diligently till midnight without even growing weary; or if one of
them nodded, she was given a cup of cold water to drink, to make
her fresh again. So there was plenty of fine linen by each New
Year's day, and their masters were well pleased. No peasant kept
his daughter at home, but sent her to the priest, where she
learned her duties, and was kept safe from the young men. Even old
mothers went there, among whom Trina Bergen always gave the best
answers, and was much commended by the priest in consequence. This
pleased her mightily, so that she boasted everywhere of it; but
withal she was an excellent old woman, only the neighbours looked
rather jealously on her.

This same priest, with all his goodness and learning, was yet a
bad logician; for by his careless speaking in one of his sermons,
much commotion was raised in the village. In this sermon he
asserted that anything out of the usual course of nature must be
devil's work, and ought to be held in abhorrence by all good
Christians: he suffered for this after-wards, as we shall see. On
the Monday after this discourse, he journeyed into Poland, to
visit a brother who dwelt in some town there, I know not which.

Then arose a great talking amongst the villagers concerning the
said Trina Bergen; for the cocks began to sit upon the eggs in
place of the hens, in her poultry-yard, and all the people came
together to see the miracle, and as it was against the course of
nature, it must be devil's work, and Trina Bergen was a witch.

In vain the old mother protested she knew nothing of it, then runs
to the priest's house, but he is away; from that to the mayor of
the village, but he is going out to shoot, and bid her and the
villagers pack off with their silly stories.

So the poor old mother gets no help, and meanwhile the peasants
storm her house, and search and ransack every corner for proofs of
her witchcraft, but nothing can be found. Stay! there in the
cellar sits a woman, who will not tell her name.

They drag her out, bring her up to the parlour, while the old
mother sits wringing her hands. Who was this woman? and how did
she come into the cellar?

_Illa_.--"She had hired her to spin, because her daughter was
out at service till autumn, and she could not do all the work
herself."

"Why then did she sit in the cellar, as if she shunned the light?"

_Illa_.--"The girl had prayed for leave to sit there, because
the screaming of the young geese in the yard disturbed her;
besides, she had been only two days with her."

"But who in the devil's name was the girl? It was easy to see she
had bewitched the hens, for everything against the course of
nature must be devil's work."

_Illa_.--"Ah, yes! this must be the truth. Let them chase the
devil away. Now she saw why the girl would not sit in the light,
and had refused to enter the blessed church with her the day
before."

"What was her name? They should both be sent to the devil, if she
did not tell the girl's name."

_Illa_.--"Alas! she had forgotten it, but ask herself. Her
story was, that she had been married to a peasant in Usdom, who
died lately, and his relations then turned her out, that she was
now going to Daber, where she had a brother, a fisher in the
service of the Dewitz family, and wanted to earn a travelling
penny by spinning, to convey her there."

Now as the rumour of witchcraft spread through the village, all
the people ran together, from every part, to Trina's house. And a
pale young man pressed forward from amongst the crowd, to look at
the supposed witch. When he stood before her, the girl cast down
her eyes gloomily, and he cried out, "It is she! it is the very
accursed witch who robbed me of my strength by her sorceries, and
barely escaped from the fagot--seize her--that is Anna Wolde. Now
he knew what the elder sticks meant, which he found set up as a
gallows before his door this morning--the witch wanted to steal
away his manhood from him again--burn her! burn her! Come and see
the elder sticks, if they did not believe him!"

So the whole village ran to his cottage, where he had just brought
home a widow, whom he was going to marry, and there indeed stood
the elder sticks right before his door in the form of a gallows,
upon which the sheriff was wroth, and commanded the girl to be
brought before him with her hands bound.

But as she denied everything, Zabel Bucher, the sheriff, ordered
the hangman to be sent for, to see what the rack might do in
eliciting the truth. Further, he bade the people make a fire in
the street, and burn the elder sticks therein.

So the fire is lit, but no one will touch the sticks. Then the
sheriff called his hound and bade him fetch them; but Fixlein, who
was acute enough at other times, pretended not to know what his
master wanted. In vain the sheriff bent down on the ground,
pointing with his finger, and crying, "Here, Fixlein! fetch,
Fixlein!" No, Fixlein runs round and round the elder sticks till
the dust rises up in a cloud, and yelps, and barks, and jumps, and
stares at his master, but never touches the sticks, only at last
seizes a stone in his mouth, and runs with it to the sheriff.

Now, indeed, there was a commotion amongst the people. Not even
the dog would touch the accursed thing. So at last the sheriff
called for a pair of tongs, to seize the sticks himself and fling
them into the fire. Whereupon his wife screamed to prevent him;
but the brave sheriff, strengthening his heart, advanced and
touched them; whereupon Fixlein, as if he had never known until
now what his master wanted, made a grab at them, but the sheriff
gave him a blow on the nose with the tongs which sent him away
howling, and then, with desperate courage and a stout heart,
seizing the elder twigs in the tongs, flung them boldly into the
fire.

Meanwhile Peter Bollerjahn, the hangman, has arrived, and when he
hears of the devilry he shakes his head, but thinks he could make
the girl speak, if they only let him try his way a little. But
they must first get authority from the mayor. Now the mayor had
not gone to the hunt, for some friends arrived to visit him, whom
he was obliged to stay at home and entertain, so the whole crowd,
with the sheriff, Zabel Bucher, at the head, set off to the
mayoralty, bringing the witch with them, and prayed his lordship
to make a terrible example of her, for that witchcraft was
spreading fearfully in the land, and they would have no peace
else.

Whereupon he came out with his guests to look at the miserable
criminal, who, conscious of her guilt, stood there silent and
glowering; but he could do nothing for them--did they not know
that his Highness had closed all the courts of justice, therefore
he could not help them, nor be troubled about their affairs? Upon
which the sheriff cried out, "Then we shall help ourselves; let us
burn the witch who bewitches our hens, and sticks up elder sticks
before people's doors. Come, let us right ourselves!" So the mayor
said they might do as they pleased, he had no power to hinder
them, only let them remember that when the courts reopened, they
would be called to a strict account for all this. And he went into
his house, but the people shouted and dragged away the witch, with
loud yells, to the hangman, bidding him stretch her on the rack
before all their eyes.

When the girl saw and heard all this, and remembered how the old
Lord Chamberlain at Wolgast had stretched her till her hip was
broken, she cried out, "I will confess all, only spare me the
torture, for I dread it more than death."

Upon this, the sheriff said, "He would ask her three questions,
and pronounce judgment accordingly." (Oh! what evil times for dear
Pomerania land, when the people could thus take the law into their
own hands, and pronounce judgment, though no judges were there.
Had the bailiff given her a little twist of the rack, just to get
at the truth, it would at least have been more in accordance with
the usages, although I say not he would have been justified in so
doing; but without using the rack at all, to believe what this
devil's wretch uttered, and judge her thereupon, was grossly
improper and absurd.) _Summa_, here are the three
questions:--

"First, whether she had bewitched the hens; and for what?"

_Respond_.--"Simply to amuse herself; for the time hung heavy
in the cellar, and she could see them through the chinks in the
wall." (Let her wait; Master Peter will soon give her something to
amuse her.)

"Second, why and wherefore had she stuck up the elder twigs?"

_Respond_.-"Because she had been told that Albert was going
to marry a widow; for he had promised her marriage, as all the
world knew, and even called her by his name, Wolde Albrechts, and
therefore she had put a spell upon him of elder twigs, that he
might turn away the widow and marry her." (Let her wait; Master
Peter will soon stick up elder twigs for her.)

"Third, whether she had a devil; and how was he named?"

Here she remained silent, then began to deny it, but was reminded
of the rack, and Master Peter got ready his instruments as if for
instant use; so she sighed heavily, and answered, "Yes, she had a
familiar called Jurge, and he appeared always in the form of a
man."

Upon this confession the sheriff roared, "Burn the witch!" and all
the people shouted after him, "Burn the witch! the accursed
witch!" and she was delivered over to Master Peter.

But he made answer that he had never burned a witch; he would,
however, go over to Massow in the morning, to his brother-in-law,
who had burned many, and learn the mode from him. Meanwhile the
peasants might collect ten or twelve clumps of wood upon the
Koppenberg, and so would they frighten all women from practising
this devil's magic. Would they not burn Trina Bergen likewise--the
old hag who had the witch in her cellar? It would be a right
pleasant spectacle to the whole town.

This, however, the peasants did not wish. Upon which the carl
asked what he was to be paid for his trouble? Formerly the state
paid for the criminal, but the courts now would have nothing to do
with the business. What was he to get? So the peasants consulted
together, and at last offered him a sack of oats at Michaelmas,
just that they might have peace in the village. Whereupon he
consented to burn her; only in addition they must give him a free
journey to Massow on the morrow.

_Summa_.--When the third morning dawned, all the village came
together to accompany the witch up the Koppenberg: the
schoolmaster, with all his school going before, singing, "Now pray
we to the Holy Ghost;" then came Master Peter with the witch, he
bearing a pan of lighted coal in his hand. But, lo! when they
reached the pile on the Koppenberg, behold it was wet wood which
the stupid peasants had gathered.

Now the hangman fell into a great rage. Who the devil could burn a
witch with wet wood? She must have bewitched it. This was as bad
as the hen business.

Some of the people then offered to run for some dry wood and hay;
but my knave saw that he might turn the matter to profit, so he
proposed to sack the witch in place of burning her; "for," said
he, "it will be a far more edifying spectacle and example to your
children, this sacking in place of burning. There was a lake quite
close to the town, and, indeed, he had forgotten yesterday to
propose it to them. The plan was this. They were to tie her up in
a leathern sack, with a dog, a cock, and a cat. (Ah, what a pity
he had killed the wild-cat which he had caught some weeks before
in the fox-trap.) Then they would throw all into the lake, where
the cat and dog, and cock and witch, would scream and fight, and
bite and scratch, until they sank; but after a little while up
would come the sack again, and the screaming, biting, and fighting
would be renewed until they all sank down again and for ever.
Sometimes, indeed, they would tear a hole in the sack, which
filled with water, and so they were all drowned. In any case it
was a fine improving lesson to their children; let them ask the
schoolmaster if the sacking was not a far better spectacle for the
dear children than the burning."

"Ay, 'tis true," cried the schoolmaster; "sacking is better."

Upon which all the people shouted after him, "Ay, sack her! sack
her!"

When the knave heard this, he continued--

"Now, they heard what the schoolmaster said, but he could not do
all this for a sack of oats, for, indeed, leather sacks were very
dear just now; but if each one added a sack of meal and a goose at
Michaelmas, why, he would try and manage the sacking. The lake was
broad and deep, and it lay right beneath them, so that all the
dear children could see the sight from the hill."

However, the peasants would by no means agree to the sack of meal,
whereupon a great dispute arose around the pile, and a bargaining
about the price with great tumult and uproar.

Now the robber-band were in the vicinity, and Sidonia, hearing the
noise, peeped out through the bushes and recognised Anna Wolde;
then, guessing from the pile what they were going to do to her,
she begged of Johann to save the poor girl, if possible; for
Sidonia and the knave were now on the best of terms, since he had
chased away the gipsy hag and her daughter for robbing him.

So Johann gives the word, and the band, which now numbered one
hundred strong, burst forth from the wood with wild shouts and
cries. Ho! how the people fled on all sides, like chaff before the
wind! The executioner is the first off, throws away his pan of
coals, and takes to his heels. _Item_, the schoolmaster, with
all his school, take to their heels; the sheriff, the women,
peasants, spectators-all, with one accord, take to their heels,
screaming and roaring.

The witch alone remains, for she is lame and cannot run; but she
screams, too, and wrings her hands, crying--

"Take me with you; oh, take me with you; for the love of God take
me with you; I am lame and cannot run!"

_Summa_.--One can easily imagine how it all ended. The
witch-girl was saved, and, as she now owed her life a second time
to Sidonia, she swore eternal fidelity and gratitude to the lady,
promising to give her something in recompense for all the benefits
she had conferred on her. Alas, that I should have to say to
Christian men what this was! [Footnote: Namely, the evil spirit
Chim. See Sidonia's confession upon the rack, vol. iv. Dahnert's
Pomeranian Library, p. 244.]

And when Sidonia asked how things went on in Daber, great was her
joy to hear that the whole castle and town were full of company,
for the nuptials of Clara von Dewitz and Marcus Bork were
celebrated there. And the old Duchess from Wolgast had arrived,
along with Duke Johann Frederick, and the Dukes Barnim, Casimir,
and Bogislaff. _Item_, a grand cavalcade of nobles had ridden
to the wedding upon four hundred horses, and lords and ladies from
all the country round thronged the castle.

Now Johann Appelmann would not credit the witch-girl, for he had
seen none of all this company upon the roads; but she said her
brother the fisherman told her that their Graces travelled by
water as far as Wollin, for fear of the robbers, and from thence
by land to Daber.

When Sidonia heard this she fell upon Johann's neck, exclaiming--

"Revenge me now, Johann! revenge me! Now is the time; they are all
there. Revenge me in their blood!"

This seemed rather a difficult matter to Johann, but he promised
to call together the whole band, and see what could be done. So he
went his way to the band, and then the evil-minded witch-girl
began again, and told Sidonia, that if she chose to burn the
castle at Daber, and make an end of all her enemies at once, there
was some one hard by in the bush who would help her, for he was
stronger than all the band put together.

_Illa_.--"Who was her friend? Let her go and bring him."

_Hc_.--"She must first cross her hand with gold, and give a
piece of money for him; [Footnote: According to the witches, every
evil spirit must be purchased, no matter how small the price, but
something must be given-a ball of worsted, a kerchief, &c.] then
he would come and revenge her."

Sidonia's eyes now sparkled wildly, and she put some money in the
woman's hand, who murmured, "For the evil one;" then stepped
behind a tree, and returned in a short time with a black cat
wrapped up in her apron.

"This," she said, "was the strong spirit Chim. [Footnote:
Joachim.] Let her give him plenty to eat, but show him to no one.
When she wanted his assistance, strike him three times on the
head, and he would assume the form of a man. Strike him six times
to restore him again to this form."

Now Sidonia would scarcely credit this; so, looking round to see
if they were quite alone, she struck the animal three times on the
head, who instantly started up in the form of a gay young man,
with red stockings, a black doublet, and cap with stately heron's
plumes.

"Yes, yes," he exclaimed, "I know thy enemies, and will revenge
thee, beautiful child. I will burn the castle of Daber for thee,
if thou wilt only do my bidding; but now, quick! strike me again
on the head, that I may reassume my original form, for some one
may see us; and put me in a basket, so can I travel with thee
wheresoever thou goest."

And thus did Sidonia with the evil spirit Chim, as she afterwards
confessed upon the rack, when she was a horrible old hag of
eighty-four years of age.

And he went with her everywhere, and suggested all the evil to her
which she did, whereof we shall hear more in another place.
[Footnote: Dahnert.--This belief in the power of evil spirits to
assume the form of animals, comes to us from remotest
antiquity--example, the serpent in Paradise. In all religions, and
amongst all nations, this belief seems firmly rooted; but even if
we do not see a visible devil, do we not, alas! know and feel that
there is one ever with us, ever pre-sent, ever suggesting all
wickedness to us, as this devil to Sidonia?-even our own evil
nature. For what else is the Christian life, but a warfare between
the divine within us and this ever-present Satan?--and through
God's grace alone can we resist this devil.]

CHAPTER XIII.

_Of the adventure with the boundary lads, and how one of them
promises to admit Johann Appelmann into the castle of Daber that
same night-Item, of what befell amongst the guests at the
castle._

When Johann and Sidonia proposed to the band that they should
pillage the castle of Daber, they all shouted with delight, and
swore that life and limb might be perilled, but the castle should
be theirs that night. Nevertheless my knave Johann thought it a
dangerous undertaking, for they knew no one inside the walls, and
Anna Wolde, the witch, could not come with them, seeing that she
was lame. So at last he thought of sending Konnemann disguised as
a beggar, to examine the courtyard and all the out
offices--perchance he might spy out some unguarded door by which
they could effect an entrance.

Then Sidonia said she would go too, and although Johann tried hard
to persuade her, yet she begged so earnestly for leave that
finally he consented. Yes, she must see the very spot where the
viper was hatched which had stung her to death. Ah, she would brew
something for her in return; pity only that the wedding was over,
otherwise the little bride should never have touched a
wedding-ring, if she could help it; but it was too late now.

So the three Satan's children slipped out upon the highway from
the wood, and travelled on so near to the castle that the noise,
and talking, and laughing, and barking of dogs, and neighing of
horses, were all quite audible to their ears.

Now the castle of Daber is built upon a hill which is entirely
surrounded by water, so that the castle can be approached only by
two bridges--one southwards, leading from the town; the other
eastwards, leading direct through the castle gardens. The castle
itself was a noble, lofty pile, with strong towers and
spires--almost as stately a building as my gracious lord's castle
at Saatzig.

When Johann observed all this, his heart failed him, and as he and
his two companions peeped out at it from behind a thorn-bush, they
agreed that it would be hard work to take such a castle,
garrisoned, as it was now, by four hundred men or more, with their
mere handful of partisans.

But Satan knows how to help his own, for what happened while they
were crouching there and arguing? Behold, the old Dewitz, as an
offering to the church at Daber upon his daughter's marriage, had
promised twenty good acres of land to be added to the glebe. And
he comes now up the hill, with a great crowd of men to dig the
boundary. So the Satan's children behind the thorn-bush feared
they would be discovered; but it was not so, and the crowd passed
on unheeding them.

Old Dewitz now called the witnesses, and bid them take note of the
position of the boundary. There where the hill, the wild
apple-tree, and the town tower were all in one line, was the
limit; let them keep this well in their minds. Then calling over
six lads, he bid them take note likewise of the boundary, that
when the old people were dead they might stand up as witnesses;
but as such things were easily forgotten, he, the priest, and the
churchwarden would write it down for them, so that it never, by
any chance, could escape their memory.

Upon which the good knight, being lord and patron, took a stout
stick the first, and cudgelled the young lads well, asking them
between terms--

"Where is the boundary?"

To which they answered, screaming and roaring--

"Where the hill, the apple-tree, and the town tower are all in one
line."

Then the knight, laughing, handed over the stick to the priest,
saying--

"It was still possible they might forget; they better, therefore,
have another little memorandum from his reverence."

"No! no!" screamed the boys, "we will remember it to eternity."

However, his reverence just gave them a little touch of the stick
in fun, till they roared out the boundary marks a second time.

But now stepped forth the churchwarden, to take his turn with the
stick on the boys' backs. This man had been a forester of the old
Baron Dewitz, and had often taken note of one of the young fellows
present, how he had poached and stolen the buck-wheat, so he
gladly seized this opportunity to punish him for all his misdeeds,
and laying the cudgel on his shoulders, thrashed and belaboured
him so unmercifully, that the lad ran, shrieking, cursing,
howling, and roaring, far away in amongst the bushes to hide
himself, while the churchwarden cried out--

"Well! if all the other lads forget the boundary, I think my fine
fellow here will bear the memorandum to the day of judgment."

And so they went away laughing from the place, and returned to the
castle.

But the devil drew his profit from all this, for where should the
lad run to, but close to the very spot where the robbers were
hiding, and there he threw himself down upon the grass, writhing
and howling, and swearing he would be revenged upon the
churchwarden. This is a fine hearing for my knave in the bush, so
he steps forward, and asks--

"What vile Josel had dared to ill-treat so brave a youth? He would
help him to a revenge upon the base knave, for injustice was a
thing he never could suffer. The tears really were in his eyes to
think that such wickedness should be in the world;" and here he
pretended to wipe his eyes. So the lad, being quite overcome by
such compassionate sympathy, howled and cried ten times more--

"It was the forester Kell, the shameless hound; but he would play
him a trick for it."

_Ille_.--"Right. He owed the fellow a drubbing already
himself, and now he would have a double one, if he could only get
hold of him."

_Hic_.--"He would run and tell him that a great lord wanted
to speak to him here in the forest."

_Ille_.-"No, no; that would scarcely answer; but where did
the fellow live?"

_Hic_.-"In the castle, where his father lived likewise."

_Ille_.-"Who was his father?"

_Hic_.--"His father was the steward."

_Ille_.--"Ah, then, he kept the keys of the castle?"

_Hic_.--"Oh yes, and the key of the back entrance also, which
led through the gardens. His father kept one key, and the gardener
the other."

_Ille_.--"Well, he would tell him a secret. This very Kell
had deceived him once, like a knave as he was, and he was watching
to punish him, but he daren't go up to the castle in the broad
daylight, particularly now while the wedding was going on. How
long would it last?"

_Hic_.--"For three days more; it had lasted three days
already, and the castle was full of company, and great lords from
all the country round, a great deal grander even than old Dewitz,
were there."

_Ille_.--"Well, then, it would be quite impossible to go up
to the castle and flog the churchwarden before all the company--he
could see that himself. But supposing he let him in at night
through the garden door, couldn't they get the knave out on some
pretence, and then drub him to their heart's content?"

So the lad was delighted with the plan, particularly on hearing
that he was to help in the drubbing; but then if the forester
recognised him, what was to be done? he would be ruined. To which
Johann answered--

"Just put on an old cloak, and speak no word; then, neither by
dress nor voice will he know thee; besides, the night will be
quite dark, so fear nothing. We'll teach him, I engage, how to
beat a fine young fellow again, or to rob me of my gold, as he
did, the base, unworthy knave."

Here the lad laughed outright with joy. "Yes, yes, that would just
do; and he could put on his father's old mantle, and bring a stout
crab-stick along with him."

_Hic_.--"All right, young friend; but how was he to get into
the castle garden? Was there not a drawbridge which was lifted
every night?"

_Hic._--"Oh yes; but his father very often sent him to draw
it up, and he could leave it down for tonight; then he would get
the forester, by some means, into the shrubbery, where it was dark
as pitch, and they could thrash the dog there without any one
knowing a word about it."

_Ille._-"Good! Then when the tower-clock struck nine, let him
come himself and admit him into the garden--time enough after to
run for the forester, while he was hiding himself in the
shrubbery, for no one must know a word about his being there."
Then he gave the lad a knife, and told him if all turned out well
he should have a piece of gold in addition. "Ah! they would give
him a warm greeting, this dog of a forester! But after he had
called him out, the lad must pretend as if he had nothing to do
with the matter, and go back to the house, or slip down some
by-path."

So the lad jumped with joy when he got hold of the knife, and
skipped off to the castle, promising to be at the drawbridge when
nine o'clock struck from the tower, to admit his good friend into
the garden.

Meanwhile my gracious Lady of Wolgast was making preparations for
her departure on the morrow from the castle, for she had been
attending the wedding festivities with her four sons, and Ulrich,
the Grand Chamberlain; but previous to taking leave of her dear
son, Duke Johann Frederick, she wished to make one more attempt to
induce him to take off the interdict from the country, and allow
the courts of justice to be re-opened, for thus would the land be
freed from these wild hordes who haunted every road, and filled
all hearts with fear.

For this purpose she went up to his own private chamber in the
castle, bringing old Ulrich along with her; and when they entered,
old Ulrich, having closed the door, began--"Now, gracious lady,
speak to your son as befits a mother and your princely Grace to
do."

Upon which he took his seat at the table, looking around him as
sour as a vinegar-cruet.

So the Duchess lifted up her voice with many tears, and prayed his
Highness of Stettin to stem all this violence that raged in the
land, as a loving Prince and father towards his subjects. He had
resisted all her entreaties until now, with those of his dear
brothers and old Ulrich; and had not even his host and the whole
nobility tried to soften his heart towards his people, who were
suffering by his hard resolve? But surely he would not refuse her
now, for she had come to take her leave of him, and had brought
his old guardian and his brothers to plead along with her;
besides, who knew what might happen next? For she heard, to her
astonishment, that Sidonia was not dead at all, as they supposed,
but roaming through the country with her accursed paramour. Had
she known this, never would she have permitted this long journey,
dear even as the bride was to her heart, but would have stayed at
Wolgast to watch over her heart's dear son, Ernest, and his young
spouse, who rightly feared to put themselves in danger again,
after the sore peril they had encountered in the Stettin forest;
and who knew what might happen to her on the journey homeward? for
if she encountered Sidonia, what could she expect from her but the
bitterest death? (weeping.) Ah, this all came upon them because
the young Duke had despised the admonitions of his blessed father
upon his death-bed, and thought not of that Scripture which saith,
"The father's blessing buildeth the children's houses, but the
curse of the mother pulleth them down." [Footnote: Sirach iii.
II.] She had never cursed him yet, but that day might come.

Then Duke Johann answered, "He was sad to see his darling mother
chafe and fret about these same courts of justice, but his
princely honour was pledged, and he could not retract one word
until the states came back to their duty, and gave him the gold he
demanded. For how could he stand before the world as a fool? He
had begun this castle of Friedrichswald, and had ordered all kinds
of statues, paintings, &c., from Italy, for which gold must be
paid. How, then, if he had none?"

"But those were idle follies," his mother answered, "and showed
how true were the words of Solomon--'When a prince wanteth
understanding, there is great oppression.'" [Footnote: Prov.
xxviii. 16.]

Here the Duke grew angry. "It was false; he did not want
understanding. Well it was that no one had dared to say this to
him but his mother."

But my gracious lady could not hear him plainly; for his Serene
Highness, Barnim the younger, who had drunk rather freely at
dinner, began to snore so loudly, that he snored away a paper
which lay before old Ulrich, upon which he had been sketching a
list of _propositions_ for the reconciliation of the Duke and
the estates of the kingdom.

Hereupon the old chamberlain cursed and swore--"May the seven
thousand devils take them! One snarls at his mother, and the other
snores away his paper! Did the Prince think that Pomerania was
like Saxony, when he began these fine buildings at Friedrichswald?
His Grace had a house at Stettin; what did he want with a second?
Was his Grace better than his forefathers? And would not his Grace
have Oderburg when old Duke Barnim died? and castles and towns all
round the land?"

But the Duke answered proudly, "That Ulrich should remember his
guardianship had ended. He knew himself what to do and what to
leave undone."

Herewith the young Lord Bogislaff broke in--"Yet, dearest brother,
be advised by us. Bethink you how I resigned my chance of the
duchy at the Diet of Wollin, and now I am ready to give you up the
annuity which I then received, if it will help your necessities,
and that you promise thereupon to release the land from the
interdict, that all this fearful villainy and lawlessness which is
devastating the country may have an end."

_Ille_.--"Matters were not so bad as he thought; besides, why
cannot the people defend themselves, and take care of their own
skin?"

_Hic_.--"So they do; but this only increased injustice and
lawlessness." Then he related many examples of how the despairing
people of the different towns had executed justice, after their
own manner, upon the robbers who fell into their hands. In
Stolpschen, for instance, three fellows had been caught plundering
the corn, and the peasants nailed them up to a tree, and whipped
them till they dropped down dead. Well might Satan laugh over the
sin and wickedness that reigned now in poor Pomerania.

_Item_, he related how the peasants in Marienfliess were
going to burn a witch, without trial or sentence. _Item_, how
many peasants and villagers had hung up their own bailiffs, or
strangled them. _Item_, how the priests had been chased away
from many places, so that they now had to beg their bread upon the
highway; and in such towns God's service was no more heard, but
each one lived as it pleased him, and the peasants did as they
chose. And now he would ask his heart's dear brother, which would
be more upright and honourable in the sight of the great God--to
build up this castle of Friedrichswald, or to let it fall, and
build up the virtue and happiness of his people? He could not
build the castle without money, and he had none; but he could
restore his land to peace and happiness by a word. Let him, then,
open these long-closed courts of justice, for this was his duty as
a Prince; and let him remember that every prince was ordained of
God, and must answer to Him for his government.

Hereupon the Stettin Duke made answer--"Pity, good Bogislaff, thou
wert not a village priest! Hast thou finished thy sermon? Truly
thou wert never meant for a prince, as we heard from thy own lips,
the day of the Diet at Wollin. Thou hast no sense of princely
honour, I see, but I stand by mine; and now, by my princely
honour, I pledge my princely word, that, until the states give me
the money, the land shall remain in all things as it is."

Here old Ulrich sprang to his feet (while my gracious lady sobbed
aloud), clapped the table, and roared--"Seven thousand devils, my
lord! are we to be robbed and murdered by those vile cut-throats
that infest the land, and your Grace will fold your hands and do
nothing, till they drive your Grace yourself out of the land, or
run a spear through your body, as they would have done to your
princely brother of Wolgast, only he had faithful vassals to
defend him? If it is so to be, then must the nobles make their
petition to the Emperor, and we shall see if his Imperial Majesty
cannot bring your Grace to reason, though your mother and we all
have failed to move you."

Here the little Casimir, who was playing with the paper which his
brother had snored away, ran up to his mother, and pulling her by
the gown, said, "Gracious lady mamma, what ails my brother, the
Stettin Duke? Is he drunk, too?"

At which they all laughed, except Duke Johann, who gave a kick to
his little brother, and then strode out of the room, exclaiming,
"Sooner my life than my honour; I shall stay here no longer to be
tutored and lectured, but will take my journey homewards this very
night." And so he departed, but by a small side-door, for old
Ulrich had locked the chief door on entering.

Now, indeed, her Grace wept bitterly: ah! she thought the evil had
left her house, which the fatal business at her wedding had
wrought on it, when Dr. Martinus dropped the ring; but, alas! it
was only beginning now; and yet she could not curse him, for he
was her son, and she had borne him in pain and sorrow.

_Summa_.--If many were displeased at these proceedings of his
Grace, so also was the Lord God, as was seen clearly by many
strange signs; for on that same night Duke Barnim the elder died
at Oderburg, and all the crosses, knobs, and spires throughout the
whole town turned quite black, though they had only been newly
gilded a year before, and no rain, lightning, or thunder had been
observed. [Footnote: The Duke died 29th September 1573, aged 72
years.--_Micraelius_. 369.]

But this was all clearly to show the anger of God over the sins of
the young Duke, and by these signs He would admonish him to
repentance, as a father might gently threaten a refractory child.
As to what further happened his Grace when he went out by the
little door, and the danger that befell him there, we shall hear
more in another chapter.

CHAPTER XIV.

_How the knave Appelmann seizes his Serene Eminence Duke Johann
by the throat, and how his Grace and the whole castle are saved by
Marcus Bork and his young bride Clara; also, how Sidonia at last
is taken prisoner._

The castle was now almost quite still, for as the festival had
already lasted three days, the guests were pretty well tired of
dancing and drinking, and most of them, like young Prince Barnim,
had lain down to snore. Yet still there were many drinking in the
great hall, or dancing in the saloon, for the fiddles fiddled away
merrily until far in the night.

And it was a beautiful night this one; not too dark, but starry,
bright, and soft and still, so that Marcus and his young bride
glided away from the dancing and drinking, to wander in the cool,
fresh air of the shrubbery, before they retired to their chamber.
So they passed down the broad path that led from the garden to the
drawbridge by the water-mill, and seating themselves on a bank
under the shade of the trees, began to kiss and caress, as may
well become a young bridal pair to do.

Soon they heard nine o'clock strike from the town, and immediately
after, stealthy footsteps coming along the shrubbery towards them.
They held their breath, and remained quite still, thinking it was
some half-drunken guest from the castle wandering this way; but
then the drawbridge was lowered, and three persons advanced to a
youth, as they could see plainly. One said, "Now?" to which
another answered, "No, when I whistle!" He who had so asked, then
went back again, but Sidonia and my knave came on with the
boundary lad over the bridge (for, of course, every one will have
guessed them) and entered the shrubbery where the young bridal
pair were seated, but perfectly hidden, by reason of the darkness.

The boundary lad would now have drawn up the bridge, but the knave
hindered him--"Let him leave it down; how would he escape else, if
the carl roared, and all came running out of the castle to see
what was the matter?" Then Sidonia asked the boy, if he thought
the castle folk would hear him? To which he answered, no. They
could thrash the hound securely, and he had brought a short cudgel
with him for the purpose. Upon which my knave murmured to him,
"Lead on, then; I must get out of this dark place to see what I am
about. And when we get to the end of it, do you run and bring him
out here. Then we shall both pay him off bravely."

So they crept on in the darkness towards the castle, but the young
wedded pair had plenty of time to recognise both Sidonia and
Appelmann by their voices. Therefore Marcus argued truly that the
knave and his paramour could be about no good, for the whole land
rang with their wickedness. And, no doubt, the band was in the
vicinity, because Appelmann had answered, "No, when I whistle!"

So the good Marcus grew wroth over the villainy of this shameless
pair, who had evidently resolved on nothing less than the
destruction of the whole princely race, and even this castle of
Daber was not to be spared, which belonged to his dear bride's
father, so that their wicked purposes might be fulfilled. Then he
whispered, did his dear wife know of any byway that led to the
castle? as she was born here, perhaps some such little path might
be known to her, so that she would escape meeting the villain. And
as she whispered in return, "Yes, there was such a path," he bid
her run along it quick as thought, have all the bells rung when
she reached the castle, and even the cannon fired, which was ready
loaded for the farewell salute to the Lady of Wolgast on the
morrow; and to gather as many people together, of all stations and
ages, as could be summoned on the instant, and let them shout
"Murder! murder!" Meanwhile he would run and draw up the bridge,
then track the fellow along the shrubbery, and seize him if
possible.

How Clara trembled and hesitated, as a young girl might; but soon
collecting herself, she said, although with much agitation, "I
will trust in God: the Lord is my strength, of whom then should I
be afraid?" and plunged alone into the darkest part of the
shrubbery.

Marcus instantly ran down to the garden door, and began to draw up
the bridge with as little noise as possible. "What are you doing?"
called out a voice to him from the other side. "I hear steps," he
answered, "and perchance it is the castellan on his rounds; he
would discover all." So he draws up the bridge, and then glided
along the shrubbery after my knave.

Meanwhile Appelmann and Sidonia, with the boundary lad, had
reached the door of the castle, through which he was determined to
make good his entrance after the lad by any means.

But at that very instant it opened, and my gracious lord Duke
Johann Frederick stood before them. For it has been already
mentioned, that he left the chamber in which the family council
was held, by a small private door which led down to this portion
of the castle. Here he was looking about for his court-jester,
Clas Hinze, to bid him order the carriages to convey him and his
suite that very night to Freienwald, and by chance opened this
very door which led out to the shrubbery.

Seeing no one from the darkness, the Duke called out, "Is Clas
there?" to which Appelmann answered, "Yes, my lord" (for he had
recognised the Duke by his voice), and at the same time he
retreated a few steps into the shrubbery, hoping the Duke would
follow him.

But the Duke called out again, "Where art thou, Clas?" "Here!"
responded Appelmann, retreating still further. Whereupon the
boundary lad whispered, "That is not him!" His Grace, however,
heard the whisper, and called out angrily, while he advanced from
the door, "What meanest thou, knave? It is I who call! Art thou
drunk, fool? If so, thou must have a bucket of water on thy head,
for we ride away this night."

So speaking, his Highness went on still further into the
shrubbery, upon which my knave makes a spring at his throat and
hurls him to the ground, while he gives a loud, shrill whistle
through the fingers of his other hand. Now the boundary lad
screamed in earnest; but Sidonia threatened him, and bade him hold
his tongue, and run for the other fellows, and not mind them. But
she screamed yet louder herself, when a powerful arm seized her
round the waist, and she found herself in the grasp of Marcus
Bork.

Appelmann, who had stuffed his kerchief into the Duke's mouth to
stifle his cries, and placed one knee upon his breast, now sprang
up in terror at her scream, while at the same instant the bells
rang, the cannon was fired, and all the court was filled with
people shouting, "Murder! murder!" So he let go his hold of the
Duke, and without waiting to release Sidonia, darted down the
shrubbery, reached the bridge, and finding it raised, plunged into
the water, and swam to the other side.

And here we see the hand of the all-merciful God; for had the
bridge been down, the band would have rushed over at their
captain's whistle, and then, methinks, there would have been a sad
end to the whole princely race, for, as I have said, half the
guests were drunk and half were snoring, so that but for Marcus
this evil and accursed woman would have destroyed them all, as she
had sworn. True, they were destroyed by her at last, but not until
God gave them over to destruction, in consequence of their sins,
no doubt, and of the wickedness of the land.

_Summa_.--When my gracious lord felt himself free, he sprang
up, crying, "Help! help!" and ran as quick as he could back into
the castle. Marcus Bork followed with Sidonia, who drew a knife to
stab him, but he saw the glitter of the blade by the light of the
lanterns (for one can easily imagine that the bells and the cannon
had brought all the snorers to their legs), and giving her a blow
upon the arm that made her drop the knife, dragged her through the
little door, after the Duke, as fast as he was able.

So the whole princely party stood there, and great and small
shouted when the upright Marcus appeared, holding Sidonia firmly
by the back, while she writhed and twisted, and kicked him with
her heels till the sweat poured down his face.

But when old Ulrich beheld her, he exclaimed, "Seven thousand
devils!--do my eyes deceive me, or is this Sidonia again?" Her
Grace, too, turned pale, and all were horrified at seeing the evil
one, for they knew her wickedness.

Then Marcus must relate the whole story, and how he came to bring
to nought the counsel of the devil.

And when Duke Johann heard the whole extent of the danger from
which he had been saved, he fell upon the neck of the loyal
Marcus, and, pressing him to his heart, exclaimed, "Well-beloved
Marcus, and dear friend, thou hast saved my brother of Wolgast in
the Stettin forest, so hast thou saved me this night, therefore
accept knighthood from my hands; and I make thee governor of my
fortress of Saatzig."

To which the other answered, "He thanked his Grace heartily for
the honours; but he had already promised to remain in the service
of his princely brother of Wolgast; and for that object had made
purchase of the lands of Crienke."

But his Highness would hear of no refusal. Only let him look at
Saatzig; it was the finest fortress in the land. What would he do
in a miserable fishing village? The castle was almost grander than
his own ducal house at Stettin; and the knights' hall, with its
stone pillars and carved capitals, was the most stately work of
architecture in the kingdom. Where would he find such a dwelling
in his village nest? Old Kleist, the governor, had just died, and
to whom could he give the castle sooner than to his right worthy
and loyal Marcus?

When old Dewitz heard this (he was a little, dry old man, with
long grey hair), he pressed forward to his son-in-law, and bade
him by no means refuse a Prince's offer; besides, Saatzig was but
two miles off, and they could see each other every Sunday. Also,
if they had a hunt, a standard erected on the tower of one castle
could be seen plainly from the tower of the other, and so they
could lead a right pleasant, neighbourly life, almost as if they
all lived together.

Still Marcus will not consent. Upon which his mother-in-law can no
longer suppress her feelings, and comes forward to entreat him.
(She was a good, pious matron, and as fat as her husband was
thin.) So she stroked his cheeks--"And where in the land, as far
as Usdom, could he find such fine muranes and maranes [Footnote:
The great marana weighs from ten to twelve pounds, and is a
species of salmon-trout. The murana is of the same race, but not
larger than the herring. It must not be confounded with the
_murana_ of which the Romans were so fond, which was a
species of eel.]--this fish he loved so much?--and where was such
fine flax to be had, for his young wife to spin?--no flax in the
land equalled that of Saatzig!--since ever she was a little girl,
people talked of the fine Saatzig flax. Let her dear daughter
Clara come over, and see could she prevail aught with her stern
husband. Why, they could send pudding hot to each other, the
castles were so near."

And now the mild young bride approached her husband, and taking
his hand gently, looked up into his eyes with soft, beseeching
glances, but spake no word; so that the princely widow of Wolgast
was moved, and said, "Good Marcus, if you only fear to offend my
son of Wolgast by taking service at Saatzig, be composed on that
head, for I myself will make your peace. Great, indeed, would be
my joy to have you and your young spouse settled at Crienke,
which, you know, is but half a mile from Pudgla, my dower-castle,
where I mean to reside; yet these beseeching glances of my little
Clara fill my heart with compassion, for do I not read in her
clear eyes that she would love to stay near her dear parents, as
indeed is natural? Therefore, in God's name accept the offer of
your Prince. I myself command you."

Hereupon Marcus inclined himself gracefully to the Duchess and
Duke Johann, and pressed his little wife to his heart. "But what
need, gracious Prince, of a governor at Saatzig, when all the
courts are closed and no justice can be done? I shall eat my bread
in idleness, like a worn-out hound. But, marry, if your Grace
consents to open the courts, I will accept your offer with thanks,
and do my duty as governor with all justice and fidelity." Then
his Grace answered, "What! good Marcus, dost thou begin again on
that old theme which roused my wrath so lately, and made me fall
into that peril? But I bethink me of thy bravery, and will say no
bitter word; only, thou mayest hold thy peace, for I have sworn by
my princely honour, and from that there is no retreating. However,
thou hast leave to hold jurisdiction in thy own government, and
execute justice according to thy own upright judgment."

So Marcus was silent; but the Duchess and the other princes took
up the subject, and assailed his Highness with earnest
petitions--"Had he not himself felt and seen the danger of
permitting these freebooters to get such a head in the land? Had
not the finger of God warned him this very night, in hopes of
turning him back to the right path? Let him reflect, for the peace
of his land was at stake." But all in vain. Even though old Ulrich
tumbled into the argument with his seven thousand devils, yet
could they obtain no other answer from his Highness but--"If the
states give me gold, I shall open the courts; if they give no
gold, the courts shall remain closed for ever. Were he to be
brought before the Emperor, or Pontius Pilate himself, it was all
alike; they might tear him in pieces, but not one nail's breadth
of his princely word would he retreat from, or break it like a
woman, for their prayers."

Then he rose, and calling his fool Clas to him, bid him run to the
old priest, and tell him he would sleep at his quarters that
night, for he must have peace; but the merry Clas, as he was
running out, got behind his Highness, and stuck his fool's cap
upon the head of his Grace, crying out, "Here, keep my cap for
me."

However, his Highness did not relish the joke, for every one
laughed; and he ran after the fool, trying to catch him, and
threatening to have his head cut off; but Clas got behind the
others, and clapping his hands, cried out, "You can't, for the
courts are closed. Huzza! the courts are closed!" Whereupon he
runs out at the door, and my gracious lord after him, with the
fool's cap upon his head. Nor did he return again to the hall, but
went to sleep at the priest's quarters, as he had said; and next
morning, by the first dawn of day, set off on his journey
homeward.

All this while no one had troubled himself about Sidonia. My
gracious lady wept, the young lords laughed, old Ulrich swore,
whilst the good Marcus murmured softly to his young wife, "Be
happy, Clara; for thy sake I shall consent to go to Saatzig. I
have decided."

This filled her with such joy that she danced, and smiled, and
flung herself into her mother's arms; nothing was wanting now to
her happiness! Just then her eyes rested upon Sidonia, who was
leaning against the wall, as pale as a corpse. Clara grew quite
calm in a moment, and asked, compassionately, "What aileth thee,
poor Sidonia?"

"_I am hungry!_" was the answer. At this the gentle bride was
so shocked, that the tears filled her eyes, and she exclaimed,
"Wait, thou shalt partake of my wedding-feast;" and away went she.

The attention of the others was, by this time, also directed to
Sidonia. And old Ulrich said, "Compose yourself, gracious lady; I
trust your son, the Prince, will not be so hard and stern as he
promises; now that the water has touched his own neck, methinks he
will soon come to reason. But what shall we do now with Sidonia?"

Upon which my Lady of Wolgast turned to her, and asked if she were
yet wedded to her gallows-bird? "Not yet," was the answer; "but
she would soon be." Then my gracious lady spat out at her; and,
addressing Ulrich, asked what he would advise.

So the stout old knight said, "If the matter were left to him, he
would just send for the executioner, and have her ears and nose
slit, as a warning and example, for no good could ever come of her
now, and then pack her off next day to her farm at Zachow; for if
they let her loose, she would run to her paramour again, and come
at last to gallows and wheel; but if they just slit her nose, then
he would hold her in abhorrence, as well as all other men-folk."

During this, Clara had entered, and set fish, and wild boar, and
meat, and bread, before the girl; and as she heard Ulrich's last
words, she bent down and whispered, "Fear nothing, Sidonia, I hope
to be able to protect thee, as I did once before; only eat,
Sidonia! Ah! hadst thou followed my advice! I always meant well by
thee; and even now, if I thought thou wouldst repent truly, poor
Sidonia, I would take thee with me to the castle of Saatzig, and
never let thee want for aught through life."

When Sidonia heard this, she wept, and promised amendment. Only
let Clara try her, for she could never go to Zachow and play the
peasant-girl. Upon which Clara turned to her Highness, and prayed
her Grace to give Sidonia up to her. See how she was weeping;
misfortune truly had softened her, and she would soon be brought
back to God. Only let her take her to Saatzig, and treat her as a
sister. At this, however, old Ulrich shook his head--"Clara,
Clara," he exclaimed, "knowest thou not that the Moor cannot
change his skin, nor the leopard his spots? I cannot, then, let
the serpent go. Think on our mother, girl; it is a bad work
playing with serpents."

Her Grace, too, became thoughtful, and said at last--

"Could we not send her to the convent at Marienfliess, or
somewhere else?"

"What the devil would she do in a convent?" exclaimed the old
knight. "To infect the young maidens with her vices, or plague
them with her pride? Now, there was nothing else for her but to be
packed off to Zachow."

Now Clara looked up once again at her husband with her soft,
tearful eyes, for he had said no word all this time, but remained
quite mute; and he drew her to him, and said--

"I understand thy wish, dear Clara, but the old knight is right.
It is a dangerous business, dear Clara! Let Sidonia go."

At this Sidonia crawled forth like a serpent from her corner, and
howled--

"Clara had pity on her, but he would turn her out to starve--he,
who bore her own name, and was of her own blood."

Alas! the good knight was ashamed to refuse any longer, and
finally promised the evil one that she should go with them to
Saatzig. So her Grace at last consented, but old Ulrich shook his
grey head ten times more.

"He had lived many years in the world, but never had it come to
his knowledge that a godless man was tamed by love. Fear was the
only teacher for them. All their love would be thrown away on this
harlot; for even if the stout Marcus kept her tight with bit and
rein, and tried to bring her back by fear, yet the moment his back
was turned, Clara would spoil all again by love and kindness."

However, nobody minded the good knight, though it all came to pass
just as he had prophesied.

CHAPTER XV.

_How Sidonia demeans herself at the castle of Saatzig, and how
Clara forgets the injunctions of her beloved husband, when he
leaves her to attend the Diet at Wollin, on the subject of the
courts--Item, how the Serene Prince Duke Johann Frederick beheads
his court fool with a sausage._

Summa.--Sidonia went to the castle of Saatzig, and her worthy
cousin Marcus gave her a little chamber to herself, in the third
story, close to the tower. It was the same room in which she
afterwards sat as a witch, for some days ere she was taken to
Oderburg. There was a right cheerful view from the windows down
upon the lake, which was close to the castle, and over the little
town of Jacobshagen, as far even as the meadows beyond. Here, too,
was left a Bible for her, and the _Opera Lutheri_ in
addition, with plenty of materials for spinning and embroidery,
for she had refused to weave. _Item_, a serving-wench was
appointed to attend on her, and she had permission to walk where
she pleased within the castle walls; but if ever seen beyond the
domain, the keepers had orders to bring her back by force, if she
would not return willingly.

In fine, the careful knight took every precaution possible to
render her presence as little baneful as could be, for, truth to
say, he had no faith whatever in her tears and seeming repentance.

First, he strictly forbade all his secretaries to interchange a
word with her, or even look at her. They need not know his reason,
but any one who transgressed his slightest command in this
particular, should be chased away instantly from the castle.

Secondly, he prayed his dear wife to let Sidonia eat her meals
alone, in her own little room, and never to see her but in the
presence of a third person.

Also, never to accept the slightest gift from her hand--fruit,
flower, or any kind of food whatsoever. These injunctions were the
more necessary, as the young bride had already given hopes of an
heir. Sidonia's rage and jealousy at this prospect of complete
happiness for Clara may be divined from her words to her maid,
Lene Penkun, a short time after she reached the castle--

"Ha! they are talking of the baptism already, forsooth; but it
might have been otherwise if I had come across her a little
sooner!"

This same maid also she sent to Daber for the spirit Chim, which
had been left behind at the last resting-place of the robbers,
never telling her it was a spirit, however, only a tame cat, that
was a great pet of hers. "It must be half dead with hunger now,
for it was four days since she had left it in the hollow of an old
oak in the forest, the poor creature! So let the maid take a flask
of sweet milk and a little saucer to feed it. She could not miss
her way, for, when she stepped out of the high-road at Daber into
the forest, there was a thorn-bush to her left hand, and just
beyond it a large oak where the ravens had their nests; in a
hollow of this oak, to the north side, lay her dear little cat.
But she must not tell any one about the matter, or they would
laugh at her for sending her maid two miles and more to look for a
cat. Men had no compassion or tenderheartedness nowadays to each
other, much less to a poor dumb animal. No; just let her say that
she went to fetch a robe which her mistress had left in the oak.
Here was an old gown; take this with her, and it would do to wrap
up the poor little pussy in it after she had fed it and warmed it,
so that no one might see it, for what a mock would all these
pitiless men make of her, if they heard the object of her message;
but she was not cruel like them."

Now, after some time, it happened that the states of the duchy
assembled at Wollin, to come to some arrangement with his Highness
respecting the opening of the courts of justice; and Marcus Bork,
along with all the other nobles, was summoned to attend the Diet.
So, with great grief, he had to leave his dear wife, but promised,
if possible, to return before she was taken with her illness. Then
he bid her be of good courage, and, above all things, to guard
herself, against Sidonia, and mind strictly all his injunctions
concerning her.

Alas! she too soon flung them all to the winds! For, behold,
scarcely had the good knight arrived at Wollin, when Clara was
delivered of a little son, at which great joy filled the whole
castle. And one messenger was despatched to Marcus, and another to
old Dewitz and his wife, with the tidings; but woe, alas! the good
old mother was going to stand sponsor for a nobleman's child in
the neighbourhood, and could not hasten then to save her dear
daughter from a terrible and cruel death. She cooked some broth,
however, for the young mother, and pouring it into a silver flask,
bid the messenger ride back with all speed to Saatzig, that it
might not be too cold. She herself would be over in the morning
early with her husband, and let her dear little daughter keep
herself warm and quiet.

Meanwhile Sidonia had heard of the birth, and sent her maid to
wish the young mother joy, and ask her permission just to give one
little kiss to her new cousin, for they told her he was a
beautiful infant.

Alas, alas! that Clara's joy should make her forget the judicious
cautions of her husband! Permission was given to the murderess,
and down she comes directly to offer her congratulations; even
affecting to weep for joy as she kissed the infant, and praying to
be allowed to act as nurse until her mother came from Daber.

"Why, she had no one about her but common serving-women! How could
she leave her dearest friend to the care of these old hags, when
she was in the castle, who owed everything to her dear Clara?"

And so she went on till poor Clara, even if she did not quite
believe her, felt ashamed to doubt so much apparent affection and
tenderness.

_Summa_.--She permitted her to remain, and we shall soon see
what murderous deeds Sidonia was planning against the poor young
mother. But first I must relate what happened at the Diet of
Wollin, to which Marcus Bork had been summoned.

His Highness Duke Johann had become somewhat more gracious to the
states since they had come to the Diet at their own cost, which
was out of the usage; and further, because, as old Ulrich
prophesied, he himself had felt the inconveniences resulting from
the present lawless state of the country.

Still he was ill-tempered enough, particularly as he had a fever
on him; and when the states promised at last that they would let
him have the money, he said, "So far good; but, till he saw the
gold, the courts should not be opened. Not that he misdoubted
them, but then he knew that they were sometimes as tedious in
handing out money as a peasant in paying his rent. The courts,
therefore, should not be opened until he had the gold in his pot,
so it would be to their own profit to use as much diligence as
possible." At this same Diet his Grace related how he first met
Clas, his fool, which story I shall set down here for the reader's
pastime.

This same fool had been nothing but a poor goose-herd; and one day
as he was on the road to Friedrichswald with his flock, my
gracious lord rode up, and growing impatient at the geese running
hither and thither in his path, bid the boy collect them together,
or he would strike them all dead.

Upon which the knave took up goose after goose by the throat, and
stuck them by their long necks into his girdle, till a circle of
geese hung entirely round his body, all dangling by the head from
his waist.

This merry device pleased my lord so much, that he made the lad
court-jester from that day, and many a droll trick he had played
from that to this, particularly when his Highness was gloomy, so
as to make him laugh again. Once, for instance, when the Duke was
sore pressed for money, by reason of the opposition of the states,
he became very sad, and all the doctors were consulted, but could
do nothing. For unless his Grace could be brought to laugh (they
said to the Lady Erdmuth), it was all over with him. Then my
gracious lady had the fool whipped for a stupid jester, who could
not drive his trade; for if he did not make the Duke laugh, why
should he stay at all in the castle?

What did my fool? He collected all the princely soldatesca, and
got leave from their Graces to review them; and surely never were
seen such strange evolutions as he put them through, for they must
do everything he bid them. And when his Highness came forth to
look, he laughed so loud as never had fool made him laugh before;
and calling the Duchess, bid him repeat his _experimentum_
many times for her. In fine, the fool got the good town of
Butterdorf for his fee, which changed its name in honour of him,
and is called Hinzendorf to this day (for his name was Hinze).

But Clas Hinze had not been able to cure my Lord Duke of his
fever, which attacked him at the Diet at Wollin, nor all the
doctors from Stettin, nor even Doctor Pomius, who had been sent
from Wolgast by the old Duchess, to attend her dear son; and as
the doctor (as I have said) was a formal, priggish little man, he
and the fool were always bickering and snarling.

Now, one day at Wollin, the weather being beautiful, his Grace,
with several of the chief prelates, and many of the nobility, went
forth to walk by the river's side, and the fool ran along with
them; _item_, Doctor Pomius, who, if he could not run, at
least tried to walk majestically; and he munched a piece of sugar
all the time, for he never could keep his mouth still a moment.
Seeing his Grace now about to cross the bridge, the doctor started
forward with as much haste as was consistent with his dignity, and
seizing his Highness by the tail of the coat, drew him back,
declaring, "That he must not pass the water; all water would give
strength to the fever-devil." But his Highness, who was talking
Latin to the Deacon of Colberg, turned on the doctor with--"Apage
te asine!" and strode forward, whilst one of the nobles gave a
free translation aloud for the benefit of the others, saying, "And
that means: Begone, thou ass!"

When the fool heard this, he clapped the little man on the back,
shouting, "Well done, ass! and there is thy fee for curing our
gracious Prince of his fever."

This so nettled the doctor that he spat out the lump of sugar for
rage, and tried to seize the fool; but the crowd laughed still
louder when Clas jumped on the back of an old woman, giving her
the spur with his yellow boots in the side, and shaking his head
with the cap and bells at the little doctor in mockery, who could
not get near him for the crowd. So the woman screamed and roared,
and the people laughed, till at last the Duke stopped in the
middle of the bridge to see what was the matter. When the fool
observed this, he sprang off the old woman's back, and calling out
to the doctor--"See how I cure our gracious lord's fever," ran
upon the bridge like wind, and, seizing the Duke with all his
force, jumped with him into the water.

Now the people screamed from horror, as much as before from mirth,
and thirty or forty burghers, along with Marcus Bork, plunged in
to rescue his Highness, whilst others tried to seize the fool,
threatening to tear him in pieces. This was a joyful hearing to
Doctor Pomius. He drew forth his knife--"Would they not finish the
knave at once? Here was a knife just ready."

But the fool, who was strong and supple, swung himself up to the
bridge, and crouched in between the arches, catching hold of the
beams, so that no one dared to touch him there, and his Highness
was soon carried to land. He was in a flaming rage as he shook off
the water.

"Where is that accursed fool? He had only threatened to cut off
his head at Daber, but now it should be done in earnest."

So the fool shouted from under the bridge--"Ho! ho! the courts are
all closed! the courts are all closed!" At which the crowd laughed
so heartily, that my Lord Duke grew still more angry, and
commanded them to bring the fool to him dead or alive.

Hearing this, the fool crept forward of himself, and whimpered in
his Low Dutch, "My good Lord Duke, praise be to God that we've
made the doctor fly. I'll give him a little piece of drink-money
for his journey, and then I'll be your doctor myself. For if the
fright has not cured you, marry, let the deacon be your fool, and
I will be your deacon as long as I live."

However, my gracious lord was in no humour for fun, but bid them
carry off the fool to prison, and lock him up there; for though,
indeed, the fever had really quite gone, as his Highness perceived
to his joy, yet he was resolved to give the fool a right good
fright in return.

Therefore, on the third day from that, he commanded him to be
brought out and beheaded on the scaffold at Wollin. He wore a
white shroud, bordered with black gauze, over his motley jacket,
and a priest and melancholy music accompanied him all the way; but
Master Hansen had directions that, when the fool was seated in the
chair with his eyes bound, he should strike the said fool on the
neck with a sausage in place of the sword.

However, no one suspected this, and a great crowd followed the
poor fool up to the scaffold; even Doctor Pomius was there, and
kept close up to the condemned. As the fool passed the ducal
house, there was my lord seated at a window looking out, and the
fool looked up, saying, "My gracious master, is this a fool's jest
you are playing me, or is it earnest?"

To which the Duke answered, "You see it is earnest."

Then answered the fool, "Well, if I must, I must; yet I crave one
boon!"

When the promise was granted, the knave, who could not give up his
jesting even on the death-road, said, "Then make Doctor Pomius
herewith to be fool in my place, for look how he is learning all
my tricks from me--sticking himself close up to my side."

Hereat a great shout of laughter pealed from the crowd, and the
Duke motioned with the hand to proceed to the scaffold.

Still the poor fool kept looking round every moment, thinking his
Grace would send a message after them to stop the execution, but
no one appeared. Then his teeth chattered, and he trembled like an
aspen leaf; for Master Hansen seized hold of him now, and put him
down upon the chair, and bound his eyes. Still he asked, with his
eyes bound, "Master, is any one coming?"

"No!" replied the executioner; and throwing back his red cloak,
drew forth a large sausage in place of a sword, to the great
amusement of the people. With this he strikes my fool on the neck,
who thereupon tumbles down from the stool, as stone dead from the
mere fright as if his head and body had parted company--yea, more
dead, for never a finger or a muscle did the poor fool move more.

This sad ending moved his Grace even to tears; and he fell into a
yet greater melancholy than before, crying, "Woe! alas! He gave me
my life through fright, and through fright I have taken away his
poor life! Ah, never shall I meet with so good and merry a fool
again!"

Then he gave command to all the physicians to try and restore him,
and he himself stood by while they bled him and felt his pulse,
but all was in vain; even Doctor Pomius tried his skill, but
nothing would help, so that my lord cried out angrily--

"Marry, the fool was right. The fools should be doctors, for the
doctors are all fools. Away with ye all, and your gibberish, to
the devil!"

After this he had the said fool placed in a handsome black coffin,
and conveyed to his own town of Hinzendorf, there to be buried;
and over his grave my lord erected a stately monument, on which
was represented the poor fool, as large as life, with his cap and
bells, and staff in his hand; and round his waist was a girdle,
from which many geese dangled, all cut like life, while at his
side lay his shepherd's bag, and at his feet a beer-can. The
figure is five feet two inches long, and bears a Latin inscription
above it, which I forget; but the initials G. H. are carved upon
each cheek. [Footnote: His original name was Grgen Hinze, not
Clas. The Latin inscription is nearly effaced, but the beginning
is still visible, and runs thus: "Caput ecce manus gestus que;"
from which Oelrichs concludes that the whole was written in
hexameters. (See his estimable work, "Memoirs of the Pomeranian
Dukes," p. 41.)]

Shortly after the death of the fool a messenger arrived from
Saatzig to Marcus Bork, bringing him the joyful tidings that the
Lord God had granted him the blessing of a little son. So he is
away to my Lord Duke, to solicit permission to leave the Diet and
return to his castle. This the Duke readily granted, seeing that
he himself was going away to attend the funeral of the poor fool
at Hinzendorf. Then he wished Marcus joy with all his heart, which
so emboldened the knight that he ventured to make one more effort
about the opening of the courts, praying his Grace to put faith in
the word of his faithful states, and open the courts and the
treasury without further delay.

But his Grace is wroth: "What should he be troubled for? The
states could give the money when they chose, and then all would be
right. Let the nobles do their duty. He never saw a penny come out
of their pockets for their Prince."

"But his Highness knew the poor peasants were all beggared; and
where could the nobles get the money?"

"Let them go to their saving-pots, then, where the money was
turning green from age; better for them if they had less avarice.
Why did not he himself bring him some gold, in place of dressing
up his wife in silks and jewels, finer than the Princess Erdmuth
herself, his own princely spouse? Then, indeed, the courts might
be soon opened," &c. So the sorrowing knight took his leave, and
each went his different way.

CHAPTER XVI.

_How Sidonia makes poor Clara appear quite dead, and of the
great mourning at Saatzig over her burial, while Sidonia dances on
her coffin and sings the 109th psalm--Item, of the sermon and the
anathema pronounced upon a wicked sinner from the altar of the
church._

I must first state that this horrible wickedness of Sidonia, which
no eye had seen nor ear heard, neither had it entered into the
heart of man to conceive (for only in hell could such have been
imagined), never would have come to light but that she herself
made confession thereof to Dr. Cramero, thy well-beloved
godfather, in her last trial. And he, to show how far Satan can
lead a poor human creature who has once fallen from God, related
the same to my worthy father-in-law, Master David Reutzio, some
time superintendent at the criminal court, from whose own lips I
received the story.

And this was her confession:--That when the messenger returned
from Daber with the broth, he had ridden so fast that it was
still, in truth, quite hot, but she (the horrible Sidonia), who
was standing at the bed of the young mother, along with the other
women, pretended that it was too cold for a woman in her state,
and must just get one little heating on the fire.

The poor Clara, indeed, showed unwillingness to permit this, but
she ran down with it, and secretly, without being seen by any of
the other women, poured in a philtrum that had been given her by
the gipsy hag, and then went back again for a moment. This
philtrum was the one which produced all the appearance of death.
It had no taste, except, perhaps, that it was a little saltish.
Therefore Clara perceived nothing wrong, only when she tasted it,
said, "My heart's dearest mother, in her joy, has put a little too
much salt into her broth; still, what a heart's dearest mother
sends, must always taste good!" However, in one hour after that,
Clara lay as stiff and cold as a corpse, only her breath came a
little; but even this ceased in a short time, and then a great cry
and lamentation resounded through the whole castle. No one
suspected Sidonia, for many said that young women died so often;
but even the old mother, who arrived a few hours after, and
hearing the cries from the castle while she was yet far off, began
to weep likewise; for her mother's heart revealed the cause to her
ere she had yet descended from the carriage.

But it was a sadder sight next evening, when the husband arrived
at the castle from Wollin. He could not take his eyes from the
corpse. One while he kissed the infant, then fixed his eyes again
upon his dead wife, and sighed and groaned as if he lay upon the
rack. He alone suspected Sidonia, but when she cried more than
they all, and wrung her hands, exclaiming, who would have pity on
her now, for her best friend lay there dead! and flung herself
upon the seeming corpse, kissing it and bedewing it with her
tears, and praying to have leave to watch all night beside it, for
how could she sleep in her sore grief and sorrow? the knight was
ashamed of his suspicions, and even tried to comfort her himself.

Then came the physicians out of Stargard and other places, who had
been summoned in all haste, and they gabbled away, saying, "It
could not have been the broth, but puerperal fever." This at least
was Dr. Hamster's opinion, who knew all along it would be a bad
case. Indeed, the last time he was at the castle visiting the
mower's wife, he was frightened at the look of the poor lady.
Still, if they had only sent for him in time, this great evil
could not have happened, for his _pulvis antispasmodicus_ was
never known to fail; and so he went on chattering, by which one
can see that doctors have always been the same from that time even
till now.

_Summa_.--On the third day the poor Clara was laid in her
coffin, and carried to her grave, with such weeping and
lamentation of the mourners and bearers as never had been heard
till then. And all the nobles of the vicinage, with the knights
and gentlemen, came to attend her funeral at Saatzig Cathedral,
for she was to be buried in this new church just finished by his
Grace Duke Johann, and but one corpse had been laid in the vaults
before her. [Footnote: The beautifully painted escutcheon of Duke
Johann and his wife, Erdmuth of Brandenburg, is still to be seen
on the chancel windows of this stately staircase.]

But what does the devil's sorceress do now? She knew that the poor
Clara would awake the next day (which was Sunday) about noon, and
if any should hear her cries, her plans would be detected.
Therefore, about ten of the clock she ran to Marcus, with her hair
all flowing down her shoulders, saying, that he must let her away
that very day to Zachow, for what would the world say if she, a
young unmarried thing, should remain here all alone with him in
his castle? No; sooner would she swallow the bitter cup her father
had left her than peril her name. But first, would he allow her to
go and pray alone in the church? Surely he would not deny her
this.

Thereupon the simple knight gave her instant leave--"Let her go
and pray, in God's name. He himself would soon be there to hear
the Reverend Dr. Wudargensis preach the funeral sermon over his
heart's dear wife. And after service he would desire a carriage to
be in readiness to convey her to Zachow."

Then he called to the warder from the window, bidding him let
Sidonia pass. So she went forth in deep mourning garments, glided
through the castle gardens, and concealing herself by the trees,
slipped into the church without any one having perceived her; for
the sexton had left the door open to admit fresh air, on account
of the corpse. Then she stepped over to the little grated door
near the altar, which led down into the vault, and softly lifting
it, stepped down, drawing the door down again close over her head.
Clara's coffin was lying beneath, and first she laid her ear on it
and listened, but all was quite still within. Then removing the
pall, she sat herself down upon the lid. Time passed, and still no
sound. The sexton began to ring the bell, and the people were
assembling in the church above. Soon the hymn commenced, "Now in
peace the loved one sleepeth," and ere the first verse had ended,
a knocking was heard in the coffin, then a cry--"Where am I? What
brought me here? Let me out, for God's sake let me out! I am not
dead. Where is my child? Where is my good Marcus? Ah! there is
some one near me. Who is it? Let me out! let me out!" Then (oh!
horror of horrors!) the devil's harlot on her coffin answered, "It
is I, Sidonia! this pays thee for acting the spy at Wolgast. Lie
there and writhe till thou art stifled in thy blood!" Now the
voice came again from the coffin, praying and beseeching, so that
many times it went through her stony heart like a sword. And just
then the first verse of the hymn ended, and the voice of the
priest was heard asking the lord governor whether they should go
and sing the remainder over the vault of his dear spouse, for it
was indeed sung in her honour, seeing she had been ever a mother
to the orphan, and a holy, pious, and Christian wife; or, since
the people all knew her worth, and mourned for her with bitter
mourning, should they sing it here in the nave, that the whole
congregation might join in chorus? [Footnote: These interruptions
were by no means unusual at that period.]

To this the governor, in a loud yet mournful voice, gave answer--

"Alas, good friends, do what you will in this sad case; I am
content."

But Sidonia, this devil's witch, was in a horrible fright, lest
the priest would come up to the altar to sing the hymn, and so
hear the knocking within the coffin. However, the devil protects
his own, for, at that instant, many voices called out--

"Let the hymn be sung here, that we may all join to the honour of
the blessed soul of the good lady."

And mournfully the second verse was heard pealing through the
church, from the lips of the whole congregation, so that poor
Clara's groans were quite smothered. For, when the voice of her
dear husband reached her ear, she had knocked and cried out with
all her strength--

"Marcus! Marcus! Alas, dear Lord, will you not come to me!" Then
again--"Sidonia, by the Jesu cross, I pray thee have pity on me.
Save me--save me--I am stifling. Oh, run for some one, if thou
canst not lift the lid thyself!"

But the devil made answer to the poor living corpse--

"Dost thou take me for a silly fool like thyself, that I should
now undo all I have done?"

And as the voice went on from the coffin, but feebler and
fainter--

"Think on my husband--on my child, Sidonia!"

She answered--

"Didst thou think of that when, but for thee, I might have been a
Duchess of Pomerania, and the proud mother of a prince, in place
of being as I now am."

Then all became still within the coffin, and Sidonia sprang upon
it and danced, chanting the 109th psalm; [Footnote: Superstition
has found many sinful usages for this psalm. The Jews, for
example, took a new vessel, poured a mixture of mustard and water
therein, and after repeating this psalm over it for three
consecutive days, poured it out before the door of their enemy, as
a certain means to ensure his destruction. In the middle ages
monks and nuns were frequently obliged to repeat it in
superstitious ceremonies, at the command of some powerful
revengeful man. And that its efficacy was Considered as something
miraculously powerful, even by the evangelical Church, is proved
by this example of Sidonia, who made frequent use of this terrible
psalm in her sorceries, as any one may see by referring to the
records of the trial in Dhnert. And other interesting examples
are found in the treatise of Job. Andreas Schmidii, _Abusus
Psalmi 109 imprecatorii_; vulgo, _The Death Prayer_,
Helmstadt, 1708.] and as she came to the words, "Let none show
mercy to him; let none have pity on his orphans; let his posterity
be cut off and his name be blotted out," there was a loud knocking
again within the coffin, and a faint, stifled cry--"I am dying!"
then followed a gurgling sound, and all became still. At that
moment the congregation above raised the last verse of the hymn:--

"In the grave, with bitter weeping,
Loving hands have laid her down;
There she resteth, calmly sleeping,
Till an angel lifts the stone."

But the sermon which now followed she remembered her life long. It
was on the tears, the soft tears of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. And as her spirit became oppressed by the silence in the
vault, now that all was still within the coffin, she lifted the
lid after the exordium, to see if Clara were indeed quite dead.

It was an easy matter to remove the cover, for the screws were not
fastened; but--O God! what has she beheld? A sight that will never
more leave her brain! The poor corpse lay all torn and disfigured
from the writhings in the coffin, and a blood-vessel must have
burst at last to relieve her from her agony, for the blood lay yet
warm on the hands as she lifted the cover. But more horrible than
all were the fixed glassy eyes of the corpse, staring immovably
upon her, from which clear tears were yet flowing, and blending
with the blood upon the cheek; and, as if the priest above had
known what was passing beneath, he exclaimed--

"Oh, let us moisten our couch with tears; let tears be our meat
day and night. They are noble tears that do not fall to earth, but
ascend up to God's throne. Yea, the Lord gathers them in His
vials, like costly wine. They are noble tears, for if they fill
the eyes of God's chosen in this life, yet, in that other world,
the Lord Jesus will wipe away tears from off all faces, as the dew
is dried by the morning sun. Oh, wondrous beauty of those eyes
which are dried by the Lord Jesus! Oh, blessed eyes! Oh, sun-clear
eyes! Oh, joyful and ever-smiling eyes!"

She heard no more, but felt the eyes of the corpse were upon her,
and fell down like one dead beside the coffin; and Clara's eyes
and the sermon never left her brain from that day, and often have
they risen before her in dreams.

But the Holy Spirit had yet a greater torment in store for her, if
that were possible.

For, after the sermon, a consistorium was held in the church upon
a grievous sinner named Trina Wolken, who, it appeared, had many
times done penance for her unchaste life, but had in no wise
amended. And she heard the priest asking, "Who accuseth this
woman?" To which, after a short silence, a deep, small voice
responded--

"I accuse her; for I detected her in sin, and though I besought
her with Christian words to turn from her evil ways, and that I
would save her from public shame if she would so turn, yet she
gave herself up wholly to the devil, and out of revenge bewitched
my best sheep, so that it died the very day after it had brought
forth a lamb. Alas! what will become of the poor lamb? And it was
such a beautiful little lamb!"

When Marcus Bork heard this, he began to sob aloud; and each word
seemed to run like a sharp dagger through Sidonia's heart, so that
she bitterly repented her evil deeds. And all the congregation
broke out into loud weeping, and even the priest continued, in a
broken voice, to ask the sinner what she had to say to this
terrible accusation.

Upon which a woman's voice was heard swearing that all was a
malignant lie, for her accuser was a shameless liar and open
sinner, who wished to ruin her because she had refused his son.

Then the priest commanded the witnesses to be called, not only to
prove the unchastity, but also the witchcraft. And after this, she
was asked if she could make good the loss of the sheep? No; she
had no money. And the people testified also that the harlot had
nothing but her shame. Thereupon the priest rose up, and said--

"That she had long been notorious in the Christian communion for
her wicked life, and that all her penance and repentance having
proved but falsehood and deceit, he was commissioned by the
honourable consistorium to pronounce upon her the solemn curse and
sentence of excommunication. For she had this day been convicted
of strange and terrible crimes, on the testimony of competent
witnesses. Therefore he called upon the whole Christian
congregation to stand up and listen to the words of the anathema,
by which he gave over Trina Wolken to the devil, in the name of
the Almighty God."

And as he spoke the curse, it fell word by word upon the head of
Sidonia, as if he were indeed pronouncing it over herself--

"Dear Christian Friends,--Because Trina Wolken hath broken her
baptismal vows, and given herself over to the devil, to work all
uncleanness with greediness; and though divers times admonished to
repentance by the Church, yet hath stiffened her neck in
corruption, and hardened her heart in unrighteousness, therefore
we herewith place the said Trina Wolken under the ban of the
excommunication. Henceforth she is a thing accursed--cast off from
the communion of the Church, and participation in the holy
sacraments. Henceforth she is given up to Satan for this life and
the next, unless the blessed Saviour reach forth His hand to her
as He did to the sinking Peter, for all things are possible with
God. And this we do by the power of the keys granted by Christ to
His Church, to bind and loose on earth as in heaven, in the name
of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

And now Sidonia heard distinctly the screams of the wretched
sinner, as she was hunted out of the church, and all the
congregation followed soon after, and then all was still above.

Now, indeed, terror took such hold of her that she trembled like
an aspen leaf, and the lid fell many times from her hand with
great clatter on the ground, as she tried to replace it on the
coffin. For she had closed her eyes, for fear of meeting the
ghastly stare of the corpse again. At last she got it up, and the
corpse was covered; but she would not stay to replace the screws,
only hastened out of the vault, closing the little grated door
after her, reached the church door, which had no lock, but only a
latch, and plunged into the castle gardens to hide herself amongst
the trees.

Here she remained crouched for some hours, trying to recover her
self-possession; and when she found that she could weep as well as
ever when it pleased her, she set off for the castle, and met her
cousin Marcus with loud weeping and lamentations, entreating him
to let her go that instant to Zachow. Eat and drink could she not
from grief, though she had eaten nothing the whole morning. So the
mournful knight, who had himself risen from the table without
eating, to hasten to his little motherless lamb, asked her where
she had passed the morning, for he had not seen her in the church?
To which she answered, that she had sunk down almost dead on the
altar-steps; and, as he seemed to doubt her, she repeated part of
the sermon, and spoke of the curse pronounced upon the girl, and
told how she had remained behind in the church, to weep and pray
alone. Upon which he exclaimed joyfully--

"Now, I thank God that my blessed spouse counselled me to take
thee home with us. Ah! I see that thou hast indeed repented of thy
sins. Go thy ways, then; and, with God's help, thou shalt never
want a true and faithful friend while I live."

He bid her also take all his blessed wife's wardrobe with her,
amongst which was a brocaded damask with citron flowers, which she
had only got a year before; _item_, her shoes and kerchiefs:
_summa_, all that she had worn, he wished never to see them
again. And so she went away in haste from the castle, after having
given a farewell kiss to the little motherless lamb. For though
the evil spirit Chim, which she carried under her mantle,
whispered to her to give the little bastard a squeeze that would
make him follow his mother, or to let him do so, she would not
consent, but pinched him for his advice till he squalled, though
Marcus certainly could not have heard him, for he was attending
Sidonia to the coach; but then the good knight was so absorbed in
grief that he had neither ears nor eyes for anything.

CHAPTER XVII.

_How Sidonia is chased by the wolves to Rehewinkel, and finds
Johann Appelmann again in the inn, with whom she goes away a
second time by night._

When Sidonia left Saatzig, the day was far advanced, so that the
good knight recommended her to stop at Daber that night with his
blessed wife's mourning parents, and, for this purpose, sent a
letter by her to them. Also he gave a fine one-year-old foal in
charge to the coachman, who tied it to the side of the carriage;
and Marcus bid him deliver it up safely to the pastor of
Rehewinkel, his good friend, for he had only been keeping the
young thing at grass for him, and the pastor now wished it
back--they must therefore go by Rehewinkel. So they drove away;
but many strange things happened by reason of this same foal; for
it was so restive and impatient at being tied, that many times
they had to stop and quiet it, lest the poor beast might get hurt
by the wheel.

This so delayed their journey, that evening came on before they
were out of the forest; and as the sun went down, the wolves began
to appear in every direction. Finally, a pack of ten or twelve
pursued the carriage; and though the coach-man whipped his horses
with might and main, still the wolves gained on them, and stared
up in their faces, licking their jaws with their red tongues. Some
even were daring enough to spring up behind the carriage, but
finding nothing but trunks, had to tumble down again.

This so terrified Sidonia that she screamed and shrieked, and,
drawing forth a knife, cut the cords that bound the foal, which
instantly galloped away, and the wolves after it. How the carl
drove now, thinking to get help in time to save the poor foal! but
not so. The poor beast, in its terror, galloped into the town of
Rehewinkel; and as the paddock is closed, it springs into the
churchyard, the wolves after it, and runs into the belfry-tower,
the door of which is lying open--the wolves rush in too, and there
they tear the poor animal to pieces, before the pastor could
collect peasants enough to try and save it.

Meanwhile Sidonia has reached the town likewise; and as there is a
great uproar, some of the peasants crowding into the churchyard,
others setting off full chase after the wolves, which had taken
the road to Freienwald, Sidonia did not choose to move on (for she
must have travelled that very road), but desired the coachman to
drive up to the inn; and as she entered, lo! there sat my knave,
with two companions, at a table, drinking. Up he jumps, and seizes
Sidonia to kiss her, but she pushed him away. "Let him not attempt
to come near her. She had done with such low fellows."

So the knave feigned great sorrow--"Alas! had she quite forgotten
him--and he treasured her memory so in his heart! Where had she
come from? He saw a great many trunks and bags on the carriage.
What had she in them?"

_Illa_.--"Ah! he would, no doubt, like to get hold of them;
but she would take care and inform the people what sort of robber
carls they had now in the house. She came from Saatzig, and was
going to Daber; for as old Dewitz had lost his daughter, he
intended to adopt her in the place of one. Therefore let him not
attempt to approach her, for she was now, more than ever, a castle
and land dowered maiden, and from such a low burgher carl as he
was, would cross and bless herself."

But my knave knew her well; so he answered--"Woe is me, Sidonia!
do not grieve me by such words; for know that I have given up my
old free courses of which you talk; and my father is so pleased
with my present mode of life, that he has promised to give me my
heritage, and even this very night I am to receive it at
Bruchhausen, and am on my way there, as you see. Truly I meant to
purchase some land in Poland with the money, and then search
throughout all places for you, that we might be wedded like pious
Christians. Alas! I thought to have sold your poor cabins at
Zachow, and brought you home to my castle in Poland; but for all
my love you only give me this proud answer!"

Now Sidonia scarcely believed the knave; so she called one of his
comrades aside, and asked him was it true, and where they came
from. Upon which he confirmed all that Johann had said--"The devil
had dispersed the whole band, so that only two were left with the
captain--himself and Konnemann; and they came from Nrenburg,
where the master had been striking a bargain with Elias von Wedel,
for a town in Poland. The town was called Lembrowo, and there was
a stately castle there, as grand almost as the castle of old
Dewitz at Daber. They were going this very night to Bruchhausen,
to get gold from the old stiff-neck of Stargard, so that the
bargain might be concluded next day."

This was a pleasant hearing for Sidonia. She became more friendly,
and said, "He could not blame her for doubting him, as he had
deceived her so often; still it was wonderful how her heart clung
to him through all. Where had he been so long? and what had
happened since they parted?"

Hereupon he answered, "That he could not speak while the people
were all going to and fro in the inn; but if she came out with him
(as the night was fine), they could walk down to the river-side,
and he would tell her all."

_Summa_.--She went with him, and they sat down upon the green
grass to discourse, never knowing that the pastor of Rehewinkel
was hid behind the next tree; for he had gone forth to lament over
the loss of his poor foal, and sat there weeping bitterly. He had
got it home to sell, that he might buy a warm coat for the winter,
which now he cannot do; therefore the old man had gone forth
mournfully into the clear night, thrown himself down, and wept.

By this chance he heard the whole story from my knave, and related
it afterwards to the old burgomaster in Stargard. It was as
follows:--

Some time after his flight from Daber, a friend from Stettin told
him that Dinnies von Kleist (the same who had spoiled their work
in the Uckermund forest) had got a great sum of gold in his
knapsack, and was off to his castle at Dame, [Footnote: A town
near Polzin, in Lower Pomerania, and an ancient feudal hold of the
Kleists.] while the rest were feasting at Daber. This sum he had
won by a wager from the Princes of Saxony, Brandenburg, and
Mecklenburg. For he had bet, at table, that he would carry five
casks of Italian wine at once, and without help, up from the
cellar to the dining-hall, in the castle of Old Stettin. Duke
Johann refused the bet, knowing his man well, but the others took
it up; upon which, after grace, the whole noble company stood up
and accompanied him to the cellar. Here Dinnies took up a cask
under each arm, another in each hand by the plugs, and a fifth
between his teeth by the plug also; thus laden, he carried the
five casks up every step from the cellar to the dining-hall. So
the money was paid to him, as the lacqueys witnessed, and having
put the same in his knapsack, he set off for his castle at Dame,
to give it to his father. And the knave went on--"After I heard
this news from my good friend, I resolved to set off for Dame and
revenge myself on this strong ox, burn his castle, and take his
gold. The band agreed; but woe, alas! there was one traitor
amongst them. The fellow was called Kaff, and I might well have
suspected him; for latterly I observed that when we were about any
business, particularly church-robbing, he tried to be off, and
asked to be left to keep the watch. Divers nights, too, as I
passed him, there was the carl praying; and so I ought to have
dismissed the coward knave at once, or he would have had half the
band praying likewise before long.

"In short, this arrant villain slips off at night from his post,
just as we had all set ourselves down before the castle, waiting
for the darkest hour of midnight to attack the foxes in their den,
and betrays the whole business to Kleist himself, telling him the
strength of the band, and how and when we were to attack him, with
all other particulars. Whereupon a great lamentation was heard in

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