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Sidonia The Sorceress V2 by William Mienhold

Part 4 out of 8

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again!"

The poor knight now fairly sobs like a child, and at last stammers
out, "Well then, you must let me be present; if the devil takes my
child, let him take me too along with him. I would rather be with
my little daughter in hell, than without her in heaven."

"Good knight," answered Joel, "that may not be; only three can be
present, the Duke, your daughter, and myself. I handle the
intellectual vinculum or the conjuration. Diliana takes the
elementary vinculum, as dove's blood, the blood of the
field-mouse, virgin wax, and the censer, in her pure hands, and
the Duke holds the astral vinculum, and questions the spirit."

Still my Jobst answers, "It may not be, unless I am present." And
the strife continued in this wise for a good space, until it was
at last agreed upon that the knight should keep watch before the
door with his drawn sword during the conjuration, and that in
autumn, when the sun entered Libra, they would begin the great
work.

Jobst now rose to take his leave, but his little daughter,
Diliana, stood awhile silent, then blushed, looked upon the
ground, and spoke at last--

"My Lord Duke, will your Grace make my father promise, upon his
knightly word, never to bring the young noble, George Putkammer,
whom he has destined for my husband, into my presence from this
day forth until after I have questioned the spirit. For I have a
liking for the young knight, and I am but a poor, weak thing, like
our mother Eve and all other women: who knows what thoughts might
rise in my heart, if I beheld his face or listened to his
entreaties? and then the whole good work would come to nought, or
perchance I might repent it my life long. I would therefore now
rather go to Stramehl, where I can pray and become strong in
spirit, so that perchance I shall find favour in the sight of the
angel of God, as Hagar the handmaid of Abraham in the desert."

Then the beautiful child folded her hands, and looked up to heaven
with such trust and innocence, that all were moved, and the knight
pledged his word to the Duke; after which he pressed his little
lamb to his heart, and then both of them left the chamber of his
Highness.

Now the Duke at last was joyful, for he had hope in the great
work, and fell upon his knees with the magister to pray God for
mercy upon himself, his race, and the young virgin. _Item_,
promised by his honour to seek out and burn all the witches in the
land, that so the kingdom of God might be built up, and the
kingdom of the prince of this world sink to ruin and utter
destruction. And on the following morning, he sent for Christian
Ludecke (brother to the priest who had been bewitched to death),
appointed him special witch-commissioner of the kingdom, and bade
him search throughout the length and breadth of the land, and
wherever he found one of these evil and accursed sorceresses, to
burn her for the honour and glory of God. [Footnote: An equally
notorious witch-finder was one Hopkins of England. See Sir Walter
Scott's "Letters upon Demonology and Witchcraft."]

"Let him show no mercy towards this hell-brood of Satan, for the
devil lately had become so powerful everywhere, but especially in
dear Pomerania-land, that, if not prevented, he would soon pervert
the whole people, and turn them away from the pure and blessed
evangelical doctrine. Still he must have them all tried fairly
before the sheriff's court ere he tortured or burned. His brother
of blessed memory had too long delayed the burning, therefore he
must now be the more diligent; and, by next autumn, he trusted,
with the help of God, to be able to burn Sidonia herself."

Hereupon, my Ludecke wondered much that his Grace should be so
confident about burning Sidonia, but answered bravely, "All should
be done as his Highness wished; for since the cruel death of his
poor brother, the priest, his motto was--'Torture! burn! kill!'
But would to God that his Highness could bind Sidonia's familiar
first, for he was a powerful spirit, every one said; and could not
this learned magister exorcise him? The rumour went that he meant
so to do." But his Grace rebuked such curiosity, and answered
coldly, "He could not tell how the magister meant to proceed; but
his (Ludecke's) duty lay clear before him, let him do it."

Hereupon, my Ludecke looked rather confused, and took his leave.
And soon after, the witch-burnings began in such fearful rise
through the land, that in many parishes six or seven poor women,
young or old, innocent or guilty, it was all the same--yea, even
children of ten to twelve years were yearly burned to powder; and
by the wonderful providence of God, it happened that the burnings
began first in Marienfliess, and truly with one of Sidonia's
friends, the old pugnosed hag of Uchtenhagen, whom I have
mentioned before, and that she visited Sidonia frequently; and
this was the way of it:--One day, Sidonia beat this same Pug-nose
most unmercifully with the broomstick, and chased her out into the
convent square, still striking at her, which sight, however, the
nuns little heeded, for this _spectaculum_ was now so common
that they only thanked their stars it was not their turn, and
passed on. But Anna Apenborg met her by the well, and as the
horrible old Pug-nose was screeching and roaring at the top of her
voice, and cursing Sidonia, she asked, "What now?--what ailed
her?--what had she and the Lady Sidonia been quarrelling about?"
And some others came up, principally the wenches from the kitchen,
to hear what all the roaring was for. Whereupon, Pug-nose told her
story: "The cursed lady-witch had bid her lately go to the holy
sacrament, and when she received the blessed wafer, to take the
same out of her mouth privately, and bring it to her at
Marienfliess, wherewith to feed her familiar, whom she kept in the
form of a toad. At this blasphemy she (Pug-nose) remained silent,
for she feared the hag and her anger; but on the Sunday she
swallowed the bread, as other Christian people; whereupon Sidonia
sends for her, pretending she had spinning to give her, but no
sooner had she entered the room, than the terrible she-devil asked
for the wafer; so she confessed she had swallowed it. How could
she commit such a horrible sacrilege? At this, the accursed witch
ran at her with the broomstick, and beat her all the way down into
the court."

This story soon spread over the convent, and the priest's wife
told it to the fish-seller, who came up there that day, bidding
him run to her brother-in-law, Christian Ludecke, with the news of
the last sorcery going on in the convent.

This was a fine hearing to the witch commissioner, who resolved
instantly to seize Pug-nose, and begin the burnings in the parish
of Marienfliess, to frighten Sidonia, and keep her in check until
autumn. So he took the executioner, with all the torture
instruments, and a scriba along with him in the carriage, and set
off for Uchtenhagen, where the old hag dwelt.

CHAPTER XIX.

_How Christian Ludecke begins the witch-burnings in
Marienfliess, and lets the poor dairy-mother die horribly on the
rack._

Now it happened about this time in Marienfliess that the
dairy-mother (I have tried to remember her name, but in vain, she
was daughter to Trina Bergen I know, as is noticed _libro
secundo_) sold a kid to the bailiff, Brose [Footnote:
Ambrosius.] Bucher, grandson of that Zabel Bucher who was going to
burn old Wolde years before, which kid soon grew sick and died.
_Item_, the bailiff's wife had quarrelled with the
dairy-mother (ah, if I could remember her name) about the price;
the said wife assured her husband the bailiff that the
dairy-mother had bewitched the kid to death out of spite, because
she would not give her as much as she asked for it. This he easily
credited, and talked of it to the country people, and now the old
hag must be an evil witch, her mother indeed he knew had been in
bad repute likewise, for how but by witchcraft could the poor
little kid have died off all of a sudden. So all the malicious
women's tongues were set going with their spinning-wheels, and
this poor worthy dairy-mother, whose piety, charity, and kindness
I have noticed already, was in a few days the common talk of the
parish.

About this time, Beatus Schact, the convent chaplain, was summoned
to baptize a shepherd's dying child, and he had just packed up his
book, when he observed through the window a waggon, drawn by four
horses, coming down the Stargard street, with the sound of singing
from the persons within. Foremost on the waggon sit three
official-looking personages, in scarlet mantles, and one of them
bears a red banner, with a black cross thereon, in his hand.
Behind them are three women bound, and the psalm which they chant
is the death-psalm--"Now pray we to the Holy Ghost." As the priest
looks upon this strange sight, _bis dato_, never seen in
Pomerania-land, the waggon halts close by the church wall, and one
of the men with the red mantles sounded a trumpet, so that all the
people run to see what was going forward, and the priest runs
likewise. _Item_, all the nuns gather thick at the convent
gate, and peep over other's shoulders; for people think it must be
pickleherring, or some such strolling mummers, come to exhibit to
the folk during the evening.

Meanwhile, a peasant observes that his own sister, Ussel, wife to
a peasant at Pegelow, was one of the three poor wretches who sat
there with bound hands. Whereupon he springs to the waggon, and
asks with wonder, "Ussel, what brings thee here?" But for answer
she only pours forth tears and lamentations. However, commissioner
Ludecke (for you may well guess it was he with his witch-waggon)
would not let them discourse further; but bid the peasant stand
back, unless he wished the executioner to seize him and tear his
hide for him; then speaks--

"Know, good people, that our serene and gracious Prince and Lord,
the illustrious and eminent Duke Francis George of Stettin,
Pomerania, having heard that the devil is loose in our dear
fatherland, and carries on his demon work, especially amongst the
women folk, tempting them into all horrible sorceries, filthiness,
and ungodly deeds, has appointed me, Christian Ludecke (brother of
your late pastor), to be witch-commissioner for the whole kingdom,
that so I may purge the land by fire, bringing these devil's hags
to their just punishment, for the great glory of God, and terror
of all godless sorceresses, witches, and others in this or any
other place. Ye are also to name me the honourable
attorney-general, which also I am."

Here the peasant cried out--

"But his sister Ussel, who sat there bound upon the cart, was no
witch, and every one knew that. His worship might take pity on her
tears and let her free. She had a husband, and four innocent
little children likewise; who would take care of them now?"

"No, no," shouted Ludecke; "true sign that she is a witch since
she howls! Had she a good conscience wherefore should she do it?
He came to know whether there was a witch, perchance, also in
Marienfliess?"

Here the bailiff's wife nudged her husband in the side with her
elbow, and whispers--"The dairy-mother," but the carl would not
utter a word. So she screamed out herself--

"Ay, there is the dairy-mother of the parish, a horrible old
witch, as all the town knows."

And here I have just bethought me of the name of the dairy-mother.
It was Benigna Ficht; she was widow of old Ficht, the peasant.

At this several voices cried out, "No, no;" but she screamed out--

"Yea, yea! it was true; and her mother before her had been an evil
witch, and had let witches sit in her cellar, so that she must be
a witch herself." [Footnote: This idea runs through all the witch
trials. Woe to the woman whose mother had been accused of
witchcraft, she seldom got off with her life.]

This pleased the bloodthirsty attorney-general, and he asked if
the bailiff were present. And when my Brose stepped forward with a
profound bow, Ludecke went on--

"Was this the case about the dairy-mother? Was she, in truth, an
evil witch?"

Whereupon his malicious wife nudged him again with her elbows in
the side, till he answered--"Ay, the people say so."

Ludecke continued--"Were there more witches in the place beside
the dairy-mother?"

The fellow was silent and seemed disturbed, until being menaced by
the commissioner with all temporal and eternal punishment if he
spoke not the truth, my Brose stepped up upon the wheel, and
whispered in his ear, while he cast a frightened glance at the
convent gate--

"Ay, there is another, one of the convent sisters called Sidonia
Bork, she is the very devil itself."

But Ludecke seemed as though he could not believe him--

"It was impossible; he had always heard that this lady was a model
of all goodness, piety, and wisdom, who had healed the sheriff
himself of some great sickness;" but he squinted all the time over
at the convent gate, where the black robes were crowding, and then
whispered the bailiff--"Is Sidonia amongst them, think you?"

My carl squinted likewise at the gate, then whispered back again
in his ear--"No, Sidonia is not there, as far as I can see."

Meanwhile the _pastor loci_, a simple, timid little man, as I
have said, got up all his courage, and feeling it to be his duty
to defend his parishioner, the poor dairy-mother, advanced to the
waggon, saying--

"Would his worship the lord attorney-general permit him a few
words? He was the priest of the parish, had married the widow of
his late brother, as no doubt his worship had heard by letters
from his dear spouse. His duty compelled him to take the part of
this poor dairy-woman, whose character evil tongues had blackened
to his worship, for she was the most pious person in all the
parish, and every evening brought her spinning along with other
pious women to his house, to hear the blessed Word of God, and be
examined in the catechism--any one who knew her pious honest life
could not believe this of her."

"So much the more likely she is a witch," cried Ludecke; "they are
all hypocrites. Look at that pious and honest trio in the cart,
how they cast down their eyes and look so innocent, and yet they
were three of the vilest witches; for what made them look down, if
it were not their evil conscience?"

Now it happened that just then old Wolde came limping by, with a
new broom which she had bought in the town for Sidonia, no doubt
to lay under the table, as she was wont; so Brose whispered--

"Yea, yea, there was one hobbling by with the broom, and she was
the worst of all, Sidonia's servant, old Wolde." Whereupon the
commissioner thought within himself, how could he terrify Sidonia
more than by seizing her maid, and sending her to the rack and the
stake. So he bid the executioner lay hold on that lame hag with
the broom, and fling her into the cart along with the others. This
was soon done; for, though old Wolde made some resistance, and
screeched and roared, yet she was thrown down upon the ground,
bound, and flung into the nest in spite of all.

Anna Apenborg saw all this from the convent gate, and, to make
friends with Sidonia, she ran to the refectory with the news of
Ludecke's doings. Whereupon Sidonia, who knew the coward knave
well, seized her broomstick and ran down the steps, beating the
nuns right and left about the ears, who were gathered thick and
black around the gate, so that they all flew screaming away, and
then presented herself, glowing with fury, and brandishing her
broomstick, to the eyes of the terrified Ludecke, whereat all the
four hags cried out from the waggon--

"Help us, O Lady Prioress! Help us, O Lady Prioress!"

And Sidonia screamed in answer, "I come, I come!" swung her
broomstick and called out--"Wait, thou accursed quill-driver,
wait!"

But my Ludecke no sooner saw her rushing at him, with her thin
white hair flying about her face, than he jumped from the cart,
and took to his heels so fast that nothing could be seen of him
through the dust he raised but the bright nails of his shoes, as
he scampered away to the furze bushes. _Item_, followed the
scriba, and lastly the executioner, to the great amusement of the
common folk, who stood round the waggon, and now laughed and gibed
at the authorities. Then the afore-mentioned peasant jumped upon
the cart, and cut the cords that bound his sister, Ussel, and the
others. Whereat they likewise took to their heels and went hither
and thither, to hide themselves in the wood, while old Wolde
returned calmly with Sidonia to the convent, and two of the hags
got clear off, and were fed by their kinsfolk, I take it, for
months in the pits and hollow trees where they had sheltered
themselves, for never a trace could Ludecke get of them more,
though he searched day and night in every village, and house, and
nook, and corner. But Pug-nose, who was half-blind with fright, in
place of running away, ran straight up into the very mouth of the
executioner, who was crouching with the clerk his master behind a
thorn-bush.

Eh, how she roared when Master Hansen stretched out his arm and
caught hold of her by the coat! Then he bound her again, and so
she was carried to the sheriff's house, for Ludecke had set up his
quarters with Sheriff Sparling, and that same day he resolved to
open the criminal commission _nomine serenissim_a with
Pug-nose.

_Summa_.--The hag confessed upon the rack to Sidonia being a
witch, and named several other women besides. So my Ludecke has to
write off for another executioner and seven bailiffs, fearing his
own would have more work on their hands than they could do. And
every day messengers were despatched to Stargard with bundles of
indictments and writs. And in the sheriff's court, day after day,
there was nothing but trying witches and condemning them, and
torturings, and burnings. And though many saved themselves by
flight, and others got off with only a sharp reprimand, yet in
four weeks no less than four wretched women were burned close by
Sidonia's window, so that she might see them smoking to powder.

And Pug-nose was the first whom the bloodthirsty knave ordered to
be burned (I say nothing against that, for it is all right and
according to law), but the bloodhound went rather beyond the law
sometimes, thinking to terrify Sidonia, for it was the custom to
build a sort of little chamber at top of the pile within which the
wretched victims were bound, so that they could be stifled by the
smoke before the flames reached them. But he would allow of no
little chamber, and had a stake erected on the summit of the pile,
round which an iron chain was fastened, and to the end of this
chain the miserable criminal: and truly many hearts were moved
with pity when Pug-nose was fastened to the stake, and the pile
was lit, seeing how she ran right and left to escape the flames,
with the chain clattering after her, in her white death-shift,
stitched with black, which Sidonia gave out she made for her out
of pure Christian charity--screaming horribly all the while, till
finally the fire blazed up over her, and she fell down a blackened
heap.

Three weeks after three more women were burned upon three separate
piles, on the same day, and at the same hour, straight in view of
Sidonia's window; and they likewise each one were bound to the
chain, and their screams were heard plainly as far as Stargard.
And for four miles round the smell of roast human flesh was
plainly perceptible, which, as every one knows, has quite a
different odour from any other burned flesh. Yet the death of the
poor dairy-mother was still more horrible if possible, and though
it may well make my tears to flow again, yet I will relate it. But
tears here, tears there, what will it help?

So to begin:--

My worthy father-in-law, M. Beutzius, formerly court-chaplain, but
who had lately been made general-superintendent by Duke Francis,
for the reason before mentioned, went about this time to attend
the synod, at the little town of Jacobshagen; and on his way home,
in the morning about eleven o'clock (for he had slept at
Stargard), while passing the court-house at Marienfliess, had his
attention attracted by two young peasant girls, who were standing
before a window wringing their hands, and screaming as piteously
as if the world itself were going to be destroyed.

He stopped his coach instantly, listened, and then distinctly
heard groans proceeding from the little room; but the sound was so
hollow and unnatural that two pigs that were rooting up the earth
near him lifted up their snouts. As soon as they heard it, they
started off in fright, then stopped and stood listening and
trembling in the distance. So my worthy father-in-law called out,
while his hair stood on end with terror, "Children, for the love
of God, what is the matter?" But the poor girls, for their sobbing
and weeping, could utter nothing but "Our mother! our poor
mother!" Upon which he sprang from the coach, advanced closer, and
asked, "What is it, poor girls? what has happened?"

"Oh sir!" answered one at last, "our poor innocent mother has been
lying two whole hours on the rack within there, and the savage
knaves won't leave their breakfast to come and release her!"

So the good man looked shudderingly through the window, and there
beheld the unfortunate dairy-mother lying bound half naked upon a
plank, so that her white hair swept the ground. And her hands were
bound round her neck, and under each arm lay a coal-pan, from
which a blue flame ascended as if sulphur were burning therein, so
that her arms were burned quite black already.

"My God! where is the executioner?" screamed my father-in-law, and
when the girl, sobbing, pointed to the tavern, the old man ran off
as quick as he was able the whole way to the place, where the
executioner and his fellows sat by the beer-jug, laughing and
making merry. And when he arrived, the old man's breath was
well-nigh gone, and he could scarcely tell of the horrors he had
seen and heard; but when he had ended the executioner answered he
could not help it. "His worship the attorney-general was at
breakfast likewise at the court-house, and had the keys. When he
was done he would send for them." The worthy priest then ran back
again all the way from the tavern to the court-house, as quick as
he could, but stopping his ears the while as he came nearer, not
to hear the groans of the poor dairy-mother, and the screams of
her daughters, who were running hither and thither round the
walls, as if indeed the wretched girls had quite lost their
senses. And at last he reached the sheriff's quarter, where
another kind of roaring saluted his ears--I mean the shouts and
laughter of the drunken noisy crew within.

For the ferocious bloodhound, Christian Ludecke, had invited
friends over from Old Stettin, and there they all sat, Sheriff
Sparling too amongst them, round the table like coupled hounds,
for a fine metal wire had been passed through all their ears as
they sat drinking, so that none could go away without having his
ear torn by the wire. Or if one of the beastly drunken pigs
swilled so much, that he fell under the table, and his ear tore in
consequence, it was a source of great laughter and merriment to
the other pigs.

When the old man beheld this, he thought that between grief,
anger, and horror, he would have fallen to the ground. And for a
long while he stood gazing at the scene, unable to utter a word,
whilst they roared to him to take his place, and shoved the
wine-can over: "But he must have his ear pierced first like the
others; for the good old laws were in force here, and he must
drain the cup at a draught till his breath was gone, and his two
cheeks remained full--this was the true Pomeranian draught."

At this beastly proposition, the pious priest crossed himself, and
at last got out the words--"Mercy for the criminal! mercy for the
poor dairy-mother!"

At this, the attorney-general, Christian Ludecke, clapped his hand
upon his forehead, exclaiming, "'Fore God, it is true, I have let
that cursed hag lie on the rack these two hours. I forgot all
about her. Send to the executioner, and bid him release her. Let
her rest for to-day."

"And you could forget a fellow-creature thus!" exclaimed the
priest, with indignation. "Oh! you are more savage than a heathen,
or the very brute beasts there without, who trembled at the groans
of the poor martyr; yea, hell itself could not be more merciless!"

"What, thou cursed parson!" cried the commissioner, starting from
his seat in fury. But just then, as he sprang up, the wire tore
through his ear, and the red blood flowed down upon his fine white
ruff, whereat the others burst out into a yell of laughter, which
increased the villain's fury ten times more.

"Now the damned hag should stay on the rack till night. What did
people mean coming with begging prayers for the devil's brood? As
well pray mercy for the devil himself--the reverend parson was
very tender about his friends the witches." At which he laughed so
loud that the roof rang, and all the others roared in chorus.

But the priest replied gravely, "I shall repeat every word you
have uttered to his Highness the Duke, with a statement of how I
found ye all employed, unless this instant you give orders to
release the dairy-mother."

"Never! never!" shouted the bloodhound, and struck the table till
the glasses rang. "What is it to thee, damned priest? I am
witch-commissioner of Pomerania; and his Highness expressly
charged me to show no mercy to these cursed devil's hags,
therefore, I am ready to answer to God, the Prince, and my
conscience, for what I do."

However, my worthy father-in-law had scarcely left the room,
sighing deeply at his unsuccessful mission, when the coward
despatched his scriba with the keys to release the dairy-mother.
But it was too late--the horrible agony had already killed her;
and when the hands of the corpse were unbound, both arms fell of
themselves to the ground, out of the sockets. [Footnote: Such
scenes of satanic cruelty and beastly debauch, mingled together
with the proceedings of justice, were very frequent during the
witch-trials. How would it rejoice me if, upon contemplating this
present age, I could exclaim with my whole heart, "What
progression--infinite progression--in manners and humanity!" But,
alas! our modern laws, with their womanish feebleness, and
sentimental whimperings, sin quite as much against a lofty and
noble justice as those of earlier times by their tyrannical and
cannibal ferocity. And yet now, as then, _conscience_ is
appealed to as the excuse for all. O conscience, conscience! how
wilt thou answer for all that is laid upon thee! To-day, for
example, it is a triumphal denial of God and thy Saviour Jesus
Christ: a crime at which a Ludecke would have shuddered, even as
we shudder now at his; and yet no sense of shame or disquietude
seems to pass over thee, although by the Word of God thy crime is
a thousandfold greater than his. Matt. xii. 31; John viii. 24;
Ephes. v. 6.]

CHAPTER XX.

_What Sidonia said to these doings--Item, what our Lord God
said; and, lastly, of the magical experiment performed upon George
Patkammer and Diliana, in Old Stettin_.

I think my bloodhound gained his end at last respecting Sidonia;
for truly a terrible anguish fell upon her--a foretaste of that
hell-anguish she would one day suffer, I take it; yet she only
betrayed this terror by the disquietude of her bearing, and the
uneasiness which she exhibited day and night; _item_, through
an increase of her horrible hypocrisy, which grew more flagrant
than ever; for now, standing or going, her eyes were turned up to
heaven, and three or four times a day she compelled the nuns to
attend prayers in the chapel. Yet when the news was brought her,
that the coward knave, Christian Ludecke, had extolled her virtues
himself to the bailiff, Brose, she concluded that he meant nothing
serious with her. However, she continued sending Anna Apenborg
diligently to the sheriff's house, to pick up all the gossip she
could from the servants and others. And at length Anna brought
word that a maid at the court-house said, the scriba said, in
confidence, that his Grace of Stettin said, Sidonia should be
burned next autumn.

When Sidonia heard this, she turned as pale as a corpse, and her
breath seemed stifling, but recovering herself soon, attempted to
smile, turned up her eyes to heaven, and, sighing, said, "He that
walketh innocently walketh surely" (Prov. x. 9), and then rang for
the nuns to go and pray in the chapel. Yet that same day, when she
heard of the fearful death of the dairy-mother, she turned her
hypocritical mouth to another tune, raged, and stormed, and abused
the bloodthirsty savage of a commissioner, who had let the most
pious person of the whole parish die so horribly on the rack; then
bid the whole chapter assemble in her room, to state the matter to
his Highness, for if these evil doings went on, not even the most
innocent amongst them was safe from a like bitter death.

Whereupon Anna Apenborg, who had grown the bravest of all, since
she found that Sidonia could not do without her, said, "But,
gracious Lady Prioress, you yourself accused the dairy-mother of
witchcraft when you came back from Stettin, and found the poor
priest in his coffin!" which impertinence, however, my hag so
resented, that she hit Anna a blow on the mouth, and exclaimed in
great wrath, "Take that for thy impudence, thou daring peasant
wench!" But, calming herself in a moment, added, "Ah, good Anna,
is it not human to err?--have you never been deceived yourself?"

_Summa_.--The nuns must write and sign. Whereupon my Ludecke,
out of fear of Sidonia's revenge, withdrew to Saatzig after the
death of the dairy-mother, from thence to Dlitz, Pyritz, and so
on, still faithful to his motto, "Torture! burn! kill!" for he
found as many witches as he pleased in every place; so that the
executioner, Curt Worger, who, when he first arrived at
Marienfliess, wore nothing but a sorry grey mantle, now appeared
decked out like a noble, in a bright scarlet cloak; _item_, a
hat with a red feather, a buff jerkin, and jack-boots with gilded
spurs; neither would he sit any longer on the cart with the
witches, but rode by the side of the commissioner, on a jet black
horse, which carried a red flag between its ears; and his drawn
sword rested upon his shoulder. Thus they proceeded through the
land; and upon entering a town, the executioner always struck up a
psalm, in which not only the attorney-general and his secretary
frequently joined, but also the wretched witches themselves who
sat in the cart.

And though the Duke received complaints daily, not only from the
priest Beutzius, and the convent, but from every town where the
special commission was held, of the horrible cruelties practised
and permitted by his Grace's officials; yet the Duke remained firm
in his determination to root out witchcraft, by these or any
means; for whatever the ferocious bloodhound, Ludecke, prated to
his Highness, the Duke believed, and therefore would say nothing
against any of his acts. But our Lord God had a great deal to say
against them; for observe all the signs and wonders that appeared
about this time through different parts of the land, which brought
many a one to serious reflection.

First, some women, who were cooking meal and pease at Pyritz,
found the mess changed into blood; baked bread, likewise, the
same. And a like miracle happened at Wriezen also, for the deacon,
Caspar Rohten, preached a sermon on the occasion, which has since
been printed. _Item_, at Stralsund there was a red rain--yea,
the whole sea had the appearance as if it were turned into blood;
and some think this was a foreshadowing of the great and real
blood-rain at Prague, and of all the evils which afterwards fell
upon our whole German fatherland. Next the news was brought to
court, that, at the same hour, on the same night, strange and
supernatural voices were heard at the following places, in
Pomerania:--

1. W-edderwill, a house, as every one knows, close to Stramehl,
and the birthplace of Sidonia.

2. E-ggesin, a town near Uckermand, at the other end of Pomerania.

3. H-ohenmoeker, near Demmin.

4. P-yritz, the town where the witch-burnings had raged the most
cruelly.

5. O-derkrug, close to his Grace in Stettin.

6. M-arienfliess, where Sidonia defied man, and blasphemed God,
and organised all the evil that fell upon the land.

Now when the Duke read this account he was filled with horror,
that heaven itself should cry, "Woe;" for when he placed the
initial letters of each town together, he observed, to his dismay,
that they read, "Weh Pom--" [Footnote: Weh is called Woe, and
Pomerania, _Pommern_ in the original.] Yet as the last
syllable, _mern_, was wanting, the Duke comforted himself,
and thought, "Perhaps it is the other Pomerania, where my cousin
Philip Julius rules, over which God has cried 'Woe.'" So he wrote
letters; but, alas! received for answer, that in the self-same
night the strange voices had been heard in the following places:--

E-ixen, a town near Franzburg.

R-appin, in Rgen.

N-etzelkow, on the island of Usedom.

Thus passing directly across the land.

Yet the Duke still had some little comfort remaining, for there
was an _m_ wanting--people always wrote Pommern, not
Pomern--therefore by this the All-merciful God showed that He
meant to preserve one _m_, that is, a _man_, of the
noble Pomeranian house, whereby to build it up and make it
flourishing again. To this faith he clung in his sore grief; and
Doctor Joel further comforted him about the angel, saying that he
would assuredly tell him what the sign denoted, and this _m_
in particular, which was kept back from the word Pomerania. But
the magister knew right well--as many others, though they would
not tell the Duke--that the Lord God had spelled the word
correctly; for the name in the Wendisch and Polish tongues is
_Pomorswa_, spelt with but one _m_, and means a land
lying by the sea, and therefore many of the old people still wrote
Pomern for Pommern. Had the Duke, however, as well as his princely
brothers, heard of the awful appearances which accompanied the
voices in every place, methinks they would have despaired utterly.
For the clouds gathered themselves into forms resembling each of
the four princely Dukes in succession, as like as if a painter had
drawn them upon the sky; thence they were, each lying on his black
bier, from east to west, in the clear moonlight of heaven.

And his Highness, Duke Francis, was the first, lying on his bier,
with his hair combed _ la Nazarene_, as was his custom, and
his face turned to the moon, behind which he presently
disappeared.

Next came Duke Udalricus, and his face was so distinct that it
seemed cut out of paper, lying there in his coffin; and he, too,
sank behind the moon, and was seen no more.

Philip Julius of Wolgast was the third, and the blessed moon shone
bright upon his black moustache in the coffin; and, lastly--woe,
alas! Whereupon night and darkness fell upon the sky. [Footnote:
Latin note of Bogislaff XIV.--"Tune ego ipse, nonne? hoc nobis
infelicibus bene taciturnitate nostrum cohibitum est; Elector
Brandenburgi sane omnia rapiet!" (Then I myself--is it not so?
This was kept secret from us unfortunates. The Elector of
Brandenburg will rob all.) Then in German he added:--"Yet the Lord
is my light, of whom then shall I be afraid? Ah, that my poor
soul, in truth, rested calm in heaven! For I am ready to be
offered up like St. Paul (meaning through Wallenstein): 'Would
that the time of my departure were at hand! '--2 Tim. iv. 6. Yea,
come and take my heritage, George of Brandenburgh, I am weary of
this life."]

But these fearful signs were as carefully concealed from their
Highnesses as if the whole people had conspired to keep the
secret; besides, the figures were not observed at every place
where the voices sounded. However, Doctor Joel himself came to the
conclusion, in his own mind, that, after these open declarations
from heaven, it would be quite useless to consult the angel.
Nevertheless, to calm the mind of the Duke, he resolved to go
through with the conjuration if possible, at least he might bind
the hell-dragon of Marienfliess, and save others from her evil
spells, if even the Duke and his illustrious race were already
doomed.

Now, having cast Sidonia's nativity, he found that the time in
which alone her powerful evil spirit or familiar could be bound,
coincided exactly with that in which the sun-angel might be made
to appear; thus, the helpless hag could be seized at Marienfliess
without danger or difficulty, at this precise hour and moment. So
he determined to commence his conjuration at once by the magical
bloodletting, and for this purpose wrote the following letter to
Diliana, with which his Highness instantly despatched a horseman
to Stramehl:--

* * * * * *

JESUS!

"NOBLE AND PURE VIRGIN,--Having found, _ex namtate Sidoni_,
that it is possible to bind her evil spirit just at the moment in
which we three stand within the circle to question the sun-angel,
we must seek out a brave youth in Marienfliess whom you trust, and
who by nature is so sympathetical with you, that he will
experience the same sensations in his body while there, precisely
at the same moment in which they are excited in you at Old
Stettin. This can be accomplished only by the magic bleeding,
performed upon you both; therefore I pray you, in the name of his
Highness, to communicate with such an one, if so be there is a
youth in whom you place trust, and by the next new moon come with
him to Old Stettin, where I shall perform the magic bleeding on
you both, that no time may be lost in commencing this mighty work,
which, by God's help, will save the land. God keep you. Pray for
me!

"Your servant to command," M. JOEL.

"Old Stettin, 19th June 1618."

This letter grieved the young virgin, for she saw the magister
would not cease his importunities. Nevertheless, to show her
obedience to his Highness, and by the advice of her cousin
Bastien, she consented to undertake the journey. Bastien likewise
offered willingly to go through the magic bleeding along with her,
but the maiden declined, and wrote privately to George Putkammer
at Pansin the following letter:--

"Be it known to you, Sir Knight, that his Highness of Stettin has
solicited my aid in a mighty magic-work, and desired me to seek
out a youth in whom I trust, that magister Joel of Grypswald may
perform a magic bleeding upon us both. So I have selected you, and
desire therefore to meet you on St. John the Baptist's day, by ten
of the clock in the forenoon, at the castle of Old Stettin. But my
father or Saatzig is to know nothing of the matter; and you must
promise neither to look upon me, nor sigh, nor press my hand, nor
speak of marriage, whether we be alone or not. In this I trust to
your knightly honour and noble nature.

"DILIANA BORK.

"Stramehl, 22nd July 1618."

So on the appointed day Diliana arrived at the castle of Stettin,
and his Highness was rejoiced to see her, and bade the magister
Joel himself to bring all sorts of dainties for her refreshment,
in order that the lacqueys might not be coming in and out, spying
at what was going on. And immediately after, the court marshal
flung open the door a second time, and my young knight
appeared--marry, how handsome he looked--dressed just like a
bridegroom! He wore a buff doublet, with sleeves of blue satin,
bordered with scarlet velvet; scarlet hose broidered in
gold--_item_, Spanish boots with gold spurs, and round his
throat a ruff of the finest lace--_item_, ruffles of the
same. So with his long sword by his side he entered, carrying his
plumed beaver in his hand; and truly he blushed up to his very
ears when he beheld Diliana seated there in her pomp and beauty,
and he stammered and cast down his eyes upon his boots when the
Duke addressed him, so that his Highness grew provoked, and
exclaimed--

"What the devil, young man! have you an evil conscience? Can you
not look any one straight in the face?"

At this the young knight lifted his eyes boldly and fixed them
upon his Grace, answering haughtily--"My Lord Duke, I can look the
devil himself straight in the face, if need be; but what is this
comedy which you are about to play with me and this young maiden?"

This speech offended his Highness. "It was no mumming work they
had in hand, but a grave and serious matter, which, as he did not
understand, the magister would explain to him."

So my magister began, and demonstrated the whole _opus
theurgicum_; but the knight is as unbelieving as Jobst, and
says--

"But what need of the angel? Can we not do the business ourselves?
My lord Duke, it is now eleven o'clock; give me permission, and by
this hour to-morrow morning Sidonia shall be here in a pig-sack.
And long ago I would have done this of myself, or stabbed her with
my dagger for her late evil deeds, if your Grace had not forbade
me so to do at the burial of our gracious lord, Duke Philip II.
The devil himself must laugh at our cowardice, that we cannot
seize an old withered hag whom a cowboy of ten years old would
knock down with his left hand."

To which his Highness answered, "You are foolhardy, young man, to
esteem so lightly the power of her evil spirit; for know that it
is a mighty and terrible spirit, who could strangle you as easily
as he has murdered others, for all your defiant speeches!
Therefore we must conquer him by other means; and for this reason
I look with hope to the appearance of the angel, who will teach
us, perhaps, how to remove the spell from my illustrious race,
which Sidonia's inhuman malice has laid on them, making them to
perish childless off the face of the earth. If even you succeeded
in seizing her, how would this help? She would revenge herself by
standing there deaf and mute as a corpse, and would sooner be
burned at the stake than speak one word that would remove this
great calamity from our house."

Then the knight said, "He would never consent that Diliana should
run the great danger of citing a spirit."

Which, when the maiden heard, she grew as red as the young knight
when he first entered, and said with a grave and haughty mien--

"Sir knight, who gave you any right over my words or works? There
may be other men in whom I place trust as well as you; and speak
but another word of the like nature, and I will prove it to you by
my acts."

Marry, that was a slap on the mouth to my young knight, who grew
as red as scarlet, and cast down his eyes upon his boots, while M.
Joel began to demonstrate the magic blood-letting to them as
follows--

"See here, young knight, and you, fair virgin, here are two little
boxes of white ivory, of the same size and weight; and see, within
each of them is suspended a little magnet, both cut from the one
loadstone, and round in a circle are all the letters of the
alphabet. Now, let each of you take a little box, carry it
delicately, and by its help you can converse with each other
though you were a hundred miles apart. This sympathy between you
is established by means of the magic blood-letting. I make an
incision in each of your arms, placed together in the form of a
cross, then touch the knight's wound with the blood of the virgin,
and the virgin's with the blood of the knight, so will your blood
be mingled; and then, if one of you press the wound on the arm,
the other will feel the same pressure sympathetically on the arm
at the same instant, though ye be ever so far removed from one
another. Now suppose that you, fair maiden, feel a pressure
suddenly on the wound in your arm, you place the magnet box
thereon, and the needle will point of itself, by sympathy, to the
letters necessary to form a word, which word will be the same as
that found by the magnet of the knight, who will likewise have the
box on his arm at the same moment; thus ye can read each other's
thoughts instantaneously, and this results entirely from the laws
of sympathy, as described by the renowned Abbot Johannes
Trithemius, and Hercules de Sunde."

To all this my knight made no answer, but seemed much disturbed.
However, the magister ordered him to retire into the next chamber
and remove his doublet. _Item_, he bade the young maiden
likewise to take off her robe, seeing that the sleeves were very
tight. It was a blue silk bodice she had on, trimmed round the
bosom with golden fringe, and a mantle of yellow silk embroidered
in violets and gold. Now the maiden was angry at first with the
magister for his request, but laughed afterwards, when she thought
of Dorothea Stettin, and her absurdities with the doctor.

So she said, "Here, cut open my sleeve, it matters not. I have
more dresses with me at my lodging." This my magister does
immediately, and draws forth the beautiful arm white as a
snow-flake, throws the sleeve back upon the shoulder, and places
Diliana with her face turned towards the window, on a seat which
his Highness, the Duke, laid for her himself, while he exclaimed
earnestly, "Now, Diliana, guard thy soul well from any evil
thought!"

Hereupon the poor young virgin began to weep, and said, "Ah! my
Lord Duke, I have indeed need to pray for support, but I will look
up to the Lord my Saviour, whose strength is made perfect in my
weakness. Now the young knight may come, but let me not see him."

On this, the magister called in the young man, and sat him on the
same seat with Diliana, but back to back. Then he stepped to one
side, and looking at them, said, "Eh, my Lord Duke, see the
beautiful James's head. That betokens good luck. Pity that the
younker has no beard! Young man, you have more hair on your teeth
than on your chin, I take it. [FOOTNOTE: Having hair on the teeth,
means being a brave, fearless person, one who will stand up boldly
for his own.] Why do you not scrape diligently; shall I give you a
receipt?"

But the knight made no answer, only grew red for shame. Whereupon
my magister left off jesting; and taking the young man's arm, laid
it upon the maiden's, in the form of a cross, then opened a vein
in each, murmuring some words, while the blood-stream poured down
into two silver cups which were held by his Highness, the Duke.

But, woe! my knight sinks down in a dead faint off his side of the
couch to the ground. Which, when Diliana heard, she springs up
with her arm still bleeding, and exclaims, "The knight is dead!
Oh, save the knight!" Then the poor child wept. "Ah, what will
become of me? What is this you mean to do with us?"

So the magister gave over the young knight to the care of his
Highness, who held a smelling-flask to his nose, while Dr. Joel
took some of his blood and poured it into Diliana's arm, after
which he bound it up. And then, when the young knight began to
recover, she hastened, weeping, out of the apartment, saying,
"Tell the knight not to touch his arm. When there is necessity I
shall press mine. Farewell, gracious Lord Duke, and help me day
and night with the sixth petition in the Lord's Prayer!" And she
would not return, though the Duke called out after her, "A word,
one word!" _Item_, M. Joel, "Bring a shift with you that
belonged to your grandmother! Nothing can be done unless you bring
this with you!" She hastens on to the inn, and when the knight
recovered sufficiently to follow after her, behold, there was her
carriage already crossing the Oder bridge, which so afflicted him,
that the tears poured from his eyes, and he cursed the whole world
in his great love-agony, particularly his Grace, the magister, and
the ghost of Clara. For to these three he imputed all the grievous
vexations and misfortunes he endured with regard to the fair
maiden.

Yet he lived in hope that she would soon press her wounded arm,
and thus establish a sympathy of thought between them. So he set
spurs to his horse and rode back again to his good castle of
Pansin.

CHAPTER XXI.

_Of the awful and majestic appearance of the sun-angel, Och._

At last the blessed autumn arrived, and found my Ludecke still
torturing and burning, and Sidonia still practising her evil
sorceries upon man and beast, of which, however, it would be
tiresome here to notice all the particulars. And on the 11th day
of September, Jobst and his fair daughter arrived at Old Stettin,
where the knight again tried to remonstrate with his Highness
about the conjuration, but without any success, as we may easily
suppose. Thereupon the Duke and the magister commenced a
discipline of fastings. _Item_, every day they had magic
baths, and this continued up to the midnight of the 22nd day, when
they at last resolved to begin the great work, for the sun entered
Libra that year on the 23rd day of September, at twenty minutes
after two o'clock A.M.

So they all three put on garments of virgin-white linen, and
Diliana drew over hers a shift which had belonged to her
grandmother of blessed memory, Clara von Dewitz, for she had not
omitted to bring one with her, having searched for it with great
diligence. Then she said to the magister, "Much do I wish to ask
the angel, wherefore it is that God gives such power to Satan upon
the earth? No man hath yet answered me on this point. May I dare
to ask the angel?"

Hereupon he answered, "She might fearlessly do it, he was himself
curious." So they conversed, and meantime placed caps on their
heads, made likewise of virgin linen, with the Holy
_Tetragrammaton_ [Footnote: I have observed before, this was
the name, Jehovah, in the Hebrew.] bound thereon. Then the
magister, taking a hazel-wand in his right hand, placed the magic
circle upon his breast with the left, which circle was made of
parchment, and carved all over with magic characters, and taking
up his book, bade the Duke bear the vinculum of the heavenly
bodies, that is, the signet of the spirit; _item_, Diliana,
the vinculum of the earthly creature, as her own pure body, the
blood of the white dove, of the field-mouse, incense, and
swallow's feathers. Whereupon, he lastly made the sign of the
cross, and led the way to the great knights' hall, which was
already illuminated with magic lights of virgin wax, according to
his directions.

Now as they all stepped out of the door in their white robes and
high caps, shaped like the mitre of a bishop, there stood my Jobst
in the corridor, purple with anguish and bathed in sweat--"He
would go with them;" and when the magister put him back, saying,
"Impossible," the poor knight began to sob, embraced his little
daughter, "for who could tell whether he would ever see his only
joy upon earth alive again? Ah, into what straits had the Duke
brought him and his dear little daughter!"

However, the magister bade him be of good heart, for that no evil
could happen to his fair daughter, seeing that she had again and
again assured him of her pure virgin soul; but they must lose no
time now, if the knight chose to stand outside he might do so. To
this Jobst consented, but when the three others had entered the
knights' hall, my magister turned round to bolt the door, on which
the alarmed father shook the door violently--

"He would never consent to have it bolted; if it were, he would
burst it in with a noise that would waken the whole castle. He was
a father, and if any danger were in there, he could spring in and
save his poor little worm, or die with her if need be."

So the magister consented at last not to bolt the door, but
clapped it to, so that the knight could not peep through. He is
not to be outwitted, however; drew off his buff doublet, took out
a gimlet from his pocket, and bored a hole in the door, laid his
hat upon the doublet, took his naked sword between his legs, and,
resting both hands firmly on the hilt, bent down and placed his
eye at the gimlet-hole, through which he could distinctly see all
that passed in the room. And the three walked up to the centre of
the hall, where the magic lights were burning, and the magister
unloosed the circle from his breast and spread it out upon the
ground, as far as it would reach, then he drew a figure with white
chalk at each of the four corners, like interlaced triangles, and
taking the vinculum of the heavenly creature, or the signet of the
sun-angel, which was written with the blood of a coal-black raven
upon virgin parchment, out of the hand of the Duke, hung it upon a
new dagger, which no man had ever used, and fixed the same in the
circle towards the north--

"For," said he, "the spirit will come from the north: only watch
well for the little white cloud that always precedes him, and be
not alarmed at anything, for I have too often practised this
conjuration to anticipate danger now."

After all this was done, and the pan of perfume, with the vinculum
of the earthly creature, had been placed in the centre, the
magister spake--"In the name of God the Father, of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost. Amen!" And stepped from the north side the first
into the circle, within which he kneeled down and repeated a
beautiful prayer.

And the two others responded "Amen." Whereupon the wise Theurgist,
the brave priest of the grand primitive old faith, rose up, made
the sign of the cross at the north, and began the conjuration of
the angel with a loud voice.

They were harsh and barbarous words that he uttered, which no one
understood, and they lasted a good paternoster long; after which,
the priest stopped and said--

"Gracious Prince, lay thy left hand upon the vinculum of the
heavenly creature;--virgin, step with thy left foot upon the
signet of the spirit, in the north of the circle. After the third
_pause_ he must appear."

With these words he began the conjuration again; but, behold, as
it was ended, a form appeared, not at the north but at the south,
and glided on in a white bloody shroud, until it reached the
centre of the circle. At this sight the magister was transfixed
with horror, and made the sign of the cross, then said in an
agitated voice--

"All good spirits praise God the Lord!"

Upon which the spirit answered--

"In eternity. Amen!"

Whilst Diliana exclaimed--

"Grandmother! grandmother! art thou indeed her spirit?"

So the spirit glided three times round the circle, with a
plaintive wailing sound, then stopped before Diliana, and making
the sign of the cross, said--

"Daughter, take that shift of mine from off thee, it betokens
misfortune. It is No. 7, and see, I have No. 6 for my bloody
shroud."

Whereupon it pointed to the throat, where indeed the red number 6
was plainly discernible.

Diliana spake--

"Grandmother, how did these things come to pass?"

But the spirit laid the forefinger on its mouth in silence.
Whereupon she asked again--

"Grandmother, art thou happy?" The spirit answered--

"I hope to become so, but take off that shift, the angel must soon
appear; it will be Sidonia's death shroud."

As the spirit said these words it disappeared again towards the
south, whereupon the knight at the gimlet-hole cried out--

"There was some one here, was it the angel?"

"No, no," screamed Diliana, while she quickly stepped out of the
circle, and drew off the shift. "No, it was my poor grandmother!"

"Silence," cried the magister; "for God's sake, no talking more,
we have already lost ten seconds by that ghost. Now quick with the
vinculum of the earthly creature! My Prince, strew the incense
upon the burner; virgin, dip the swallow's feathers in the blood
of the white dove, and streak my two lips with them. Now all be
still if you value your life. Eternity is listening to us, and the
whole apartment is full of invisible spirits."

Then he repeated the conjuration for the third time, and, behold,
at the last word, a white cloud appeared at the north, that at
every moment became brighter and brighter, until a red pillar of
light, about an arm's thickness, shot forth from the centre of it,
and the most exquisite fragrance with soft tones of music were
diffused over the whole north end of the hall; then the cloud
seemed to rain down radiant flowers of hues and beauty, such as
earth had never seen, after which a tremendous sound, as if a clap
of thunder shook not only the castle to its foundation, but seemed
to shake heaven and earth itself, and the cloud, parting in twain,
disclosed the sun-angel in the centre. Yet the knight outside
never heard this sound, nor did old Kruger, the Duke's
boot-cleaner, who sat in the very next room reading the Bible; he
merely thought that the clock had run down in the corridor, and
sent his wife out to see, and this seems to me a very strange
thing, but the knight, through his gimlet-hole, saw plainly that a
chair, which they had forgotten to take out the way of the angel
at the north side, was utterly consumed by his presence, and when
he had passed, lay there a heap of ashes.

And the angel in truth appeared in the form of a beautiful boy of
twelve years old, and from head to foot shone with a dazzling
light. A blue mantle, sown with silver stars, was flung around
him, but so glittering to the eye that it seemed a portion of the
milky way he had torn from heaven, as he passed along, and wrapped
round his angelic form. On his feet, rosy as the first clouds of
morning, were bound golden sandals, and on his yellow hair a
crown; and thus surrounded by radiant flowers, odours, and the
soft tones of heavenly music, he swept down in grace and glorious
beauty to earth. When the Theurgist beheld this, he fell on his
knees along with the others, and prayed--

"We praise thee, we bless thee, we adore thee, O lofty spirit of
God!--thou throne-angel of the Almighty!--that thou hast deigned
by the word of our father Adae, by the word of our father Henoch,
and by the word of our father Noah, to enter the darkness of this
our second world, and appear before our eyes. Help us, blessed
angel!--help us!"

And the angel said, "What will ye?"

Here the Duke took heart, and gave for answer, "Lord, an evil
witch, a devil's sorceress, wickeder than anything yet known upon
earth, Sidonia Bork by name----"

But the angel let him continue no further, and with a glance of
terrible anger exclaimed, "Silence, thou drunken man of blood!"

Then, looking upon Diliana, murmured softly, "Speak, thou pure and
blessed maiden!"

At this the virgin took courage, and answered, "Our gracious
Prince would know how the evil spirit of my cousin Sidonia can be
overcome?"

"Seize Wolde first," replied the angel, "then the evil spirit of
Sidonia will become powerless. What wouldst thou know further?"

Hereupon the modest virgin blushed, stammered, and looked down;
then from awe and terror, scarcely knowing what she said, made
answer--

"Behold, thy servant would know wherefore the All-mighty and
All-merciful God hath, since the beginning of time, allowed so
much power to Satan over His creatures, the works of His own
hands?"

Then the angel spake--"That is a grave and serious question,
maiden, and the answer would be above thy comprehension; yet this
much I will explain to thee--if there were no devil and no evil,
many attributes of the Almighty God our Lord would have remained
for ever hid from you, children of humanity, as well as from us,
spirits of heaven. Therefore, from the beginning, hath God
permitted such power to the devil as might show forth these His
attributes to the wondering universe. First, after the fall, His
_justice_ was revealed, as you have seen displayed in the old
covenant, and this attribute could never have been manifested
unless evil and the devil had entered into the world. Now, thought
the devil when he beheld the manifestation of this terrible
attribute, the whole human race must fall for ever to perdition,
and the Lord God must be the first to murder the work of His own
hands. But, lo! before heaven and earth, the great God manifested
two new attributes; namely, mercy and love, for He fulfilled His
word given to Satan in Paradise. The serpent-treader entered into
the world, and oh! infinite wonder! heaven and earth, which till
then had seen God but in His goodness, now beheld His love bleed
from the wounds of His Son on Golgotha, and the world reconciled
to Him for ever, through Christ.

"Yet Satan still thinks to regain his lost dominion over the
world; therefore it shall come to pass that the Lord will suffer
him to become a mock and derision to all mankind, and for the
first time since the world was made men will doubt his existence
and disbelieve his power, and his name will be a scorn and idle
word to the very children, and the old wives by their
spinning-wheels. Then will be manifested some new attribute of
divinity, of which as yet thou, nor I, nor any creature, may have
an opportunity to contemplate. All this has lain in the purpose of
God, in order to increase the happiness of His creatures; for all
the other attributes of the Almighty, such as Infinity,
Omnipresence, Omnipotence, awaken only _awe_ in the mind of
the finite; but those attributes which He manifests in His triumph
over sin and Satan, are what truly awaken _love_, and through
love, above all, is the happiness of the creature advanced. When
God has thus manifested all His attributes by means of sin and
Satan, to the joy of His faithful servants, men and angels, for
all eternity, who without sin and Satan would never have known
them, then the great day of the Lord will come, when the wine of
His love-spirit will inspire every creature that believes on Him
in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth! Further----"

But behold, at this word of the angel, a blue ray, about the
thickness of an arm, came up from the south into the middle of the
circle, and blended itself, trembling and glittering, with the
radiant cloud and flowers. When the angel beheld this, he said--

"Lo! I am summoned to the ruins of Nineveh. Let me depart!"

At this the Duke took heart again to speak, and began, "Lord, how
is my ancient race----"

But the angel again interrupted him with, "Silence, thou drunken
man of blood!"

And when the magister repeated the form which broke the
conjuration, the angel disappeared as he had come, with a terrible
clap of thunder; and clouds, light, flowers, odours, and music,
all passed away with him, and the hall became dark and silent as
the grave.

But in a couple of seconds, just as the magister had stepped out
of the circle with the virgin, who trembled in every limb, even as
he did himself, my Jobst comes rushing in at the door with joyful
mien, thanks God, sobs, embraces his little daughter twice,
thrice--embraces her again, and at last asks, "What said the
angel?"

And they told him all--_item_, about the ghost of his poor
mother, and what it desired. Then, for the first time, they
observed that the Duke stood still within the circle with folded
arms, and eyes bent upon the ground.

"My Lord Duke, will you not step out of the circle?" exclaimed the
magister.

Whereupon the Duke started, sprang from the circle to the spot
where they stood, and, seizing the magister by the throat, roared,
"Dog of a sorcerer! this is some of thy black-art. Jobst here was
right; thou hast raised no angel, but a devil!"

At this the terrified magister first tried to release himself from
his Grace's hold, then began to explain, but the Duke would listen
to nothing.

"It was clear as the sun this was no angel, but a devil, who, as
St. Paul says, had transformed himself into an angel of light;
for, first, the hellish emissary had called him a bloodhound. Now,
what blood had he ever shed, except the blood of accursed witches?
and this, as a just ruler, he had done upon the express command of
God Himself (Ex. xxii. 18), where it is written:--'Thou shalt not
suffer a witch to live.' No one, therefore, from heaven or upon
earth, could blame him for fulfilling the commands of God, yet the
spirit had blamed him. _Ergo_, he was not an angel, but a
devil. Next, the knave twice called me a drunkard. Here clearly he
showed himself no angel, but, as the Lord Jesus named him, the
'father of lies;' for tell me, friends, was I drunk to-day? If I
do take a sleeping draught after the fatigues of the day--tell me,
what does that matter to this impudent devil? So I say with that
Mecklenburgh nobleman in Dobberan:--

'Away, away, thou devil, from me,
I care not a single hair for thee;
In spite of the devil, a noble man
Should drain to the last his drinking-can.
I'll sup with the Lord and the saints the first,
While thou, poor devil, must ever thirst.
I'll drain the mead from the flowing bowl,
While the devil is sitting in hellish dole;
Therefore, away, thou devil, from me,
I care not a single hair for thee.

[Footnote: This inscription is still to be seen upon a tombstone
in Dobberan.]

And doth not Martinus Lutherus say--

'Who loves not wine, women, and song,
Remains a fool his whole life long'?

Marry, the grievous devil may wait long enough before he makes me
a fool. I am too sharp for the stuff with which he humbugs you, my
wise chattering magister!"

But the magister began to demonstrate how unlikely it was that
Satan would give advice how to subdue himself; "For how then could
his kingdom stand?" as the Lord said (Luke xi.). So the Duke
listened, and grew thoughtful--at last exclaimed, "Well, come,
we'll settle that over the wine-cup; and to spite the knave, we'll
keep up the carouse till morning; the night is already half spent,
and I have some glorious Muscadel in the cellar."

My Jobst, however, will not remain; and Diliana asks, "What his
Grace will do about Wolde?"

This set his Grace again upon abusing the spirit--"Ay, truly, he
must have been a devil--Master Beelzebub himself, and no good
angel--for had he not bid him twice to hold his tongue when he
began to ask about his old illustrious race, and what should be
done to preserve it from utter destruction? The magister might go
to the devil himself now, with all his magic; he saw clearly
through the whole business."

So a great strife arose between them, which ended in the Duke
permitting the blessed maiden to press the wound in her arm, in
order to communicate, by means of the magnetic alphabet, with the
knight, who at that moment was keeping watch with his good sword
in the chapel of Marienfliess. Everything, however, must be
performed before the eyes of the Duke, else he would not believe
it; so the young maiden, blushing for shame, pressed the wound on
her arm; and after a brief space, cried out with wonder--"In truth
I feel the pressure now of itself." Whereupon, at the command of
the magister, she threw up her wide sleeve (for she still wore the
magic robe), and placed the little box with the magnet on her arm,
directing the magnetic needle, with a fine stick, to the letters,
thus:--

S--E--I--Z--E----W--O--L--D--E.

She then retired to a chamber, to put on her own dress, and had
scarcely finished when she feels the pressure on her arm again.
Whereupon she calls to his Grace and the magister, who set the
magnet immediately on her arm, when, to the great surprise of his
Grace, the needle turns of itself to the letters--

S--H--E----I--S----S--E--I--Z--E--D.

This sight gave my gracious Lord fresh courage: "And after all,
perhaps that was an angel; for surely Sidonia would have protected
her maid, if her evil spirit had not become powerless, as the
spirit had foretold. And now they would soon have the
arch-sorceress herself. He would send a horseman instantly to
Christian Ludecke, who was burning witches at Colbatz, to hasten,
without delay, to Marienfliess."

At last he permits Jobst, since he will not drink, to take his
leave; "yet he and his fair daughter must first promise, by their
honour, not to breathe a word of the magic conjuration, since the
ignorant and stupid people would only make a mock of such matters;
and why cast pearls before swine, or holy mysteries to dogs?" And
truly they kept the secret of his Grace, so that not a word was
known thereof until Duke Bogislaff the Fourteenth communicated the
same to me, precisely as he had the facts from his brother, and
gave me permission to publish them in my "History of Sidonia."

CHAPTER XXII.

_How old Wolde is seized, confronted with Sidonia, and finally
burned before her window._

Meanwhile the young knight, George Putkammer, had ridden over to
Marienfliess on the appointed day, to Sheriff Eggert Sparling's.
He mentioned nothing of the great magic work, as the Duke had
forbidden him to do so, but merely said that he had orders from
the Prince to seize Sidonia that night.

At this, my sheriff shuddered: "The young knight should reflect on
what he was about; young people were often foolhardy and
confident, to their utter ruin. What did he want from him? If he
got half the world for it, he would not touch even the clothes of
the devil's hag. He had tried it once, and that would do him for
his life."

But the knight answered, "He had pledged his word to the Duke, and
must hold by it. His worship must just give him a couple of stout
fellows to help him."

_Ille_.--"Did he really think that in the whole bailiwick a
fellow could be got to go with him, when it was known he was going
to seize the sorceress--the devil's night-bird? Ha! ha! ha!"

_Hic_.--"Then he would do it alone. His worship must just
give him some cords, and show him a prison where he could put the
vile witch."

_Ille_.--"Cords he should have, as many as he wished, but on
no account must the hag be brought to the court-house. He knew her
well, and would take care to have nothing to do with her."

_Hic_.--"At least, then, his worship must lend him a horse,
and he would bind the dragon thereon with stout cords, and carry
her away to his good castle of Pansin, where there was a deep
dungeon, in which he could lay her, until he knew the Duke's
pleasure."

_Ille_.--"The horse he might have, and choose one himself
from the stall, and if it pleased him, bind the witch on its back
there in the churchyard, under the linden-trees; but to the
court-house the witch must not come--certainly not--or she would
suspect him of having a hand in her capture. Yet let the knight
think again, and give up this dangerous business, or surely they
had beheld each other for the last time."

But the knight only waited until the clock pointed to ten; then
taking a lantern, he goes and chooses out a stout white mare (for
such, they say, are antipathetical to witches), ties her to a
linden in the churchyard, enters the church, lights the altar
candles, and sits there, reading in the large Bible; until about
the hour that the conjuration was taking place at Old Stettin,
when a strange feeling of uneasiness came over him, and he rose up
and walked to and fro in the church in great agitation. Suddenly
he felt a pressure on his wounded arm, and turning up the sleeve
of his doublet, pressed in return, after which, he laid the magnet
upon it, and, to his surprise, read that he was to seize Wolde,
not Sidonia. Instantly he took up the lantern and the cords, put
his good sword under his arm, and ascended the steps up to the
nuns' gallery, and from that, entered the convent corridor, as the
door between always lay open; but stumbling, by chance, into Anna
Apenborg's cell, she led him down a flight of stairs to the ground
floor, and close to the refectory, where she pointed to a little
chamber adjoining, whispering, "There is where the old cat
snores;" then creeps behind a barrel, to watch, while the knight,
holding the light before him, stepped at once into the cell,
crying, "Stand up, old night-bird, and get on thy rags, thine hour
hath come."

A scream of horror was the answer from the hag, and she clapped
violently at the refectory wall, calling out, "Help me! help!
help! a fellow has seized me, Lady Prioress!" But the knight was
resolved to make quick work of it; and hearing a stir already in
Sidonia's apartment, threw himself upon the hag, and bound her
hands tight with the cords, while she screamed, and struggled, and
yelled piteously for the Lady Prioress; then dragging her up, he
exclaimed, "Since thou didst not heed me, now thou shalt come off
naked as thou art; better the devil should not have a rag to catch
hold of. Come!"

But a fearful-looking form just then rushed into the room--it was
Sidonia, just as she had risen from bed, bearing a lamp in her
hand, with her white hair flowing wildly about her face and
shoulders, and her red glowing eyes fixed menacingly upon the
knight. She had just begun a terrific curse, when the young man,
seeing the cat in his red hose following, lifted his sword and
with one blow cut him clean in two, but started back, for the
first time, in terror, when he beheld one half, on its two legs,
run quickly under Wolde's bed, and the other half, on the two
other legs, make off for the refectory, through the door which had
been left open. Even Sidonia recoiled at the sight; but soon, with
increased ferocity, sprang at the knight, screaming and clenching
her hands. But he cried out, "Hold! or I will cleave thee in
twain, even as thy cat." And in truth she stopped stone-still, but
soon began to spit and murmur. Whereupon he cried out again, "Ay,
spit and mumble; but know that my good friend, of whom I told
thee, stands without, and if but a finger of mine aches, now or in
future, he hath sworn thy death."

Then swinging Wolde's clothes, which lay on the bed, over her
shoulder with the point of his sword, he exclaimed to
Sidonia--"Away, away, or the like will be done to thee!"

Whereupon, amidst the howling of the hag, and the horrible curses
and maledictions of Sidonia, he re-crossed the gallery and the
church, the lame she-devil still howling before him, till they
entered the churchyard; after which my brave knight bound her feet
upon the white mare, and rode away with her to his good castle of
Pansin.

I had forgotten to notice before, that the pastor was not buried
within the church, as his widow first intended, but was laid
outside in the blessed earth, because she feared that the man-wolf
might get at him again within the church-vault and tear him.

_Summa_.--That same evening the witch-commissioner, Christian
Ludecke, arrived with his secretary at Marienfliess, according to
the mandate of the Prince; and behind them come two waggons, on
one of which sits the executioner with his assistants, the red
flag floating above him, and the second is laden with the
instruments of torture and the rack; for those belonging to the
court-house of Marienfliess were not considered powerful enough.
And, as usual, they enter the town chanting a sacred hymn, at
which sound every one shudders, but my sheriff is particularly
horror-struck; and, rushing out to meet them at the court-house,
cried out--

"What the devil! is the bloodhound back again? Did he think that
witches grew up in the town like cabbages?" but held his peace
instantly, when he heard that all was done by command of the
Prince.

So the lame hag was brought back again from Pansin that night, and
the _articuli indictionales_ were drawn up against her, in
which it was not forgotten that years before she had sat in the
cellar of the poor dairy-woman's mother, and there bewitched the
cocks and hens, as many old people still living could testify; and
the bailiff's wife is by no means slack either in helping her to
the same death as the poor dairy-mother. While the whole town and
adjacent country rang with these proceedings, Sidonia's
disquietude became evident. Every day she sent Anna Apenborg up to
the court-house, and there the said Anna and the serving-maid of
the scriba were seen with their heads together in every corner
conversing, and each day brought less comfort to the terrible
witch of Marienfliess. Therefore, about this time, she changed her
demeanour to the nuns, and in place of her usual fierce and cruel
bearing, she now became quite mild, threw up her eyes, went
regularly to church every Sunday, and sighed deeply during the
sermon. Day and night she was singing spiritual songs, and sent to
Stargard to purchase prayer-books, all to make the world think
that she had grown truly religious. _Item_, she sent her new
maid, Anna Dorings by name, to Stargard, to purchase mercury for
her from the apothecary; and when the maid handed the same to her,
she heard her murmur as if to herself, while she locked up the
poison in her press--

"So now, at least, they can do nothing worse with me than behead
me!"

Then she went herself one day to Stargard, and visited a
celebrated advocate, called Elias Pauli. "The world was now so
hard-hearted, and the devil so active, that she feared her turn
might come next to be tried for a witch, just for the sympathy she
showed for the poor creatures. Alas! how Satan blinded the reason
of men; for when were such cruelties ever heard of as were
practised now on poor helpless women? (Weeping.) And would not my
Elias defend her from this ferocious bloodhound, Christian
Ludecke, who had come again to Marienfliess, and boasted loudly
that, when he had made an end of her old maid, Wolde, he would
seize her next; and even sworn that, to make a terrible example of
her, her nose and ears should be torn off with red-hot pincers ere
she was tied to the stake. And what would my Elias do for her? She
had a few dozen gold crowns which her sister Dorothea had left her
by will, and willingly she would give them, if he turned the base
malice of her enemies to shame. Ah, he might take pity on her; for
she was a good and holy virgin, and as innocent of all they
charged her with as the child in the cradle!" (Weeps and sobs
again.)

So the cunning witch had struck the right nail on the head, for my
Elias was a great lover of coins; and though he had a few silver
and many copper, yet not a single gold one did he possess.
Therefore he became thoughtful after her speech, and walked up and
down the room for a quarter of an hour, after which he stood
still, and answered--

"Lady, you know as well as I do that your name is notorious
throughout the whole land, and little hope can I give you if you
are brought to trial. However, I will do what I can to delay the
time as much as possible; perchance from your great age, and the
bitter heart-remorse you must, no doubt, suffer, you may end your
miserable life before they can lay violent hands on you. Pray to
the Lord God, therefore, day by day, for your speedy death! I
will, likewise, pray for you. Meanwhile, if any evil befall you, I
will write petitions in your favour to all the neighbouring
princes, to the resident nobles, and to the Duke himself in
Stettin, for your race is one of the most illustrious in all
Pomerania. And respecting the gold crowns which you promise, send
them speedily; for remember from the moment they arrest you, your
_inventorium_ is sealed."

This my hag promised, and took her leave; but, woe! the first news
she heard upon her return home was, that her maid, by a decree of
the council at Stettin, had that day been put to the torture; and
having on the rack confessed that she (Sidonia) was the true
arch-sorceress, they were to be confronted with each other on the
morrow. This news Anna Apenborg told her before she had well
descended from the coach--_item_, many of the other nuns
confirmed the rumour; so that the unfortunate wretch at last
resolved, in despair, to put an end to herself. However, she had
little inclination to taste the mercury, I think.

So in the twilight she creeps out behind the brew-house, which
stood three or four feet from the convent wall, so that no one in
the convent could see what she was about, draws a ladder after
her, sets it against the wall, and mounts, intending to spring
down into the river below and drown herself.

Now it happened that in the oak-wood, at the opposite side of the
stream, my Ludecke and the sheriff were walking up and down, and
the sheriff's teeth were chattering in his head from pure fright;
for a courier from Stettin had arrived that very evening with an
order from his Grace, commanding him, under pain of severe
punishment and princely disfavour, to be present, along with Jobst
Bork, on the following morning, when Sidonia and Wolde were
confronted. Their eyes were suddenly attracted to a head rising
above the opposite wall, then long white hair fluttered wildly in
the evening breeze, and afterwards a thin black form appeared,
until the entire figure stood upon the top of the wall, and
extended its arms as a young stork its wings, when it essays to
leave the nest, while the eyes were fixed on the water below.
Instantly they both recognised Sidonia, and saw what her purpose
was.

"Let her, let her," whispered the sheriff to the other; "if she is
dead, if she is dead, we shall all rest in peace!"

But the other seized a stone, and flung it with all his might at
the wall, crying out, "Wait, thou shameless witch; doth thy
conscience move thee so?"

Whereupon the black figure dropped down again behind the wall as
quickly as possible. And my Ludecke, being loath to lose the fat
morsel he had ready for the flames, resolved to place four guards
over her in the refectory; but though the whole town was
searched--_item_, menaced that the executioner should scourge
them man by man, yet no one will undertake the dangerous office.
At last four fellows are found, who promise, for a tun of beer at
the very least, to hold watch in the convent square, so that the
witch cannot get away out of the building, with which my
bloodhound is obliged to be content.

Next morning, at nine of the clock, Sidonia was cited to appear in
court, but as she did not come, and mocked the messenger who was
sent for her, Ludecke commanded the executioner to go himself, and
if she would not come by fair means, to drag her by force. The
fellow hesitated, however--

"It was a dangerous business; but if his worship was very anxious,
why, for a good horse from the ducal stables, he might dare it,
since his own nag had fallen lame."

So this being promised, he departed, and, in a short time, they
beheld the carl in his red mantle dragging Sidonia up to the
court-house; and, methinks, many within shuddered at the sight;
for there were present sitting round the green table--Christian
Ludecke, Eggert Sparling, Jobst Bork, and the scriba, Christopher
Kahn.

But when the executioner threw open the door, and bade the witch
take off her shoes and enter backwards, she refused and scolded--

"What? her bitterest enemies were to be her judges. The thick
ploughman from Saatzig, who had stolen her rents from the
farm-houses at Zachow; _item_, the arch-cheat Sparling, who
robbed his Prince every day--such rabble--burgher carls--secretary
fellows, and the like--no; she would never enter. She was the lady
of castles and lands; besides, her advocate was not here, and she
had engaged one at Stargard;" finally she pushed the door to with
her foot.

"Master," cried the bloodhound within, "seize the witch in the
name of the Prince!"

Whereupon the door was again thrown open, and my hag, sobbing
loudly, was forced into the court in her socks, and backwards.
[Footnote: Because the judges on witch-trials feared the evil
influence of the glances of the accused.]

"And what did they want with her?" she asked, still sobbing.

Whereupon the commissioner made a sign to the executioner, who
instantly admitted old Wolde Albrecht by the same door. She
entered barefoot, and in the black shift worn upon the rack, upon
which the red blood lay in deep fresh stains. When Sidonia beheld
this she shuddered. But Ludecke rose up and admonished Wolde to
speak the truth without fear, and to remember that, on the morrow
morning, at that very hour, she would stand before the throne of
God--there was yet time to save her poor soul.

So the old lame hag began to sob likewise, and lament, and says at
last--

"O Lady Prioress, I must save my poor soul! I would not betray you
else."

Then she spoke out, and told bravely all she knew about Sidonia,
and her evil spirit Chim; and how Chim used to help her own
familiar, whose name was Jurgen, to get rid of Sidonia's enemies;
_item_, that the devil Chim sometimes took the form of a man,
for she had seen him frequently in Sidonia's chamber.

At this Sidonia raged and scolded, and flew at Wolde to seize her
by the hair, but Ludecke interposed, and threatened, if she were
not quiet, to give her up to Master Hansen for a few turns or so
for trial; upon which she remained silent from terror apace, but
soon began again to sob, and exclaimed--

"Yes, yes; she must think of her blessed Saviour, who likewise was
betrayed and trodden under foot by one who had broken bread with
Him! She had not only given bread to this wretch, but twice had
given her life. Oh, woe, woe to the shameless creature, who could
step before the throne of God with such a lie in her mouth!"

At which the other wept, and answered with loud sobs--

"Ah, gracious Lady Prioress, if I had not my poor soul to save, I
would betray you never!"

Then by desire of the court, she confirmed by oath her previous
statements. Whereupon Sidonia was led back to her cell in the
convent by the executioner, and forbidden, upon pain of death, to
leave it without permission. Whereupon her rage knew no bounds;
she scolded, stamped, menaced, and finally cursed her cousin
Jobst, as well as the commissioner, jailers, and hangmen, as they
were.

The third day the pile is erected again by the executioner, there
where the others stood, that is, not far from the window of
Sidonia, and as it was necessary for one of the criminal judges to
be present at the burning of a witch, Jobst Bork proceeded thither
with a great concourse of people, for my Eggert had excused
himself, saying he was sick, though, methinks, I know what
sickness he had--namely, the hare's sickness; and Jobst admonished
the witch, who hobbled along in her white shift and black cap,
leaning on a crutch, not to accuse his poor cousin falsely, for
let her think where she would stand in a few moments. There was
the pile before her eyes, an image of the eternal hell-fire. But
she held by her first confession, and even after the executioner
made her ascend the ladder, she turned round at the third step,
and cried--

"Give her shoulder as good a wrench as ye gave mine, and she will
soon confess, I warrant."

But behold, when the executioner, by desire of the upright Jobst,
had bound her fast with wet cords, in order soon to make an end of
her, and lit the pile up round about, the flames were still blown
away from the stake by the wind, and would not touch the hag, so
that many saw in it a miracle of Satan, and wondered, till an old
peasant stepped forth from the crowd, and cried, "Ha, ha, I will
soon settle her." Then seizing her crutch, which she had dropped
at the foot of the pile, he stepped up the ladder, and pitched off
her black cap with his stick, whereupon a black raven flew out,
with loud croakings, and disappeared towards the north, and
instantly after the flames blazed up around her, covering her all
over like a yellow mantle, with such rapidity that the people only
heard her shriek once.

CHAPTER XXIII.

_How Diliana Bork and George Putkammer are at length
betrothed--Item, how Sidonia is degraded from her conventual
dignities and carried to the witches' tower of Saatzig in
chains._

When Jobst returned home to Saatzig from the execution, he seemed
much disturbed in his mind, which was unusual to him, and sat by
the stove plunged in deep thought. At length he calls his little
daughter Diliana from the spinning wheel where she sat.

"Ah, the Prince had set his life in great peril, but more than the
Prince himself did she, his little daughter, plague him by showing
herself so cold to the brave young knight. She ought to leave off
this prudery, else he feared by the next time the sun was in the
propitious position, that his Highness would send for her again to
question the devil--there was nothing such a fanatic would not do;
but if she would only press her arm now, and bid the young knight
come. Where could she meet with a braver husband?"

At this the young maiden blushed up to her very eyes, and asked
earnestly--

"Father, think you the good knight stays away because I have not
summoned him?"

_Ille_.--"Of course, my child. Thou forbadst him to approach
thee until summoned; and now where could be a greater proof of his
love than in having obeyed thee?"

_Hc_.--"Ah me, I have wondered so, father, why he never
sought me. I never meant that; you surely misunderstood me. But,
father, if you wish--shall I summon him by the magnetic sign?"

_Ille_ nods his head, laughing.

Whereupon Diliana, blushing yet more, pressed her arm, and feeling
a pressure in return almost immediately, pushed up her sleeve, set
the magic box thereon, and with her golden breastpin directed the
magnetic needle to the letters--

C--O--M--E---D--E--A--R--E--S--T.

Whilst my Jobst looked over her shoulder, so that his long grey
beard fell upon her neck, and when he read the letters he embraced
and kissed her, telling her that a better kisser would soon come
and save him the trouble--meaning the knight; and truly scarce
half-an-hour had passed, when the cloud of dust could be seen
through the trees, which was raised as he rode along, and, panting
and agitated, he sprang into the room, exclaiming to my
Jobst--"Where is Diliana?" But she sits mute in the corner, red as
a rose, and looks down upon the ground.

So my Jobst laughed, and pointed to the blushing rose in the
corner, whereupon the young knight, George, in a moment is by her
side, and had her hand in his, and asks--

"If his loved Rachel will not end his weary years of serving now,
and be his for evermore?"

"Yes," she murmured through her soft tears. "I will be yours now
for evermore;" and she extended her two arms towards him.

Marry, how soon my young knight took the trouble off the old
father; so that Jobst danced for joy at the sight, and clapped his
hands, and swore that such a wedding should be held at Saatzig,
that people would talk about it for fifty years.

But, alas! the wedding must wait for a year and a day! for, in two
days the young knight is laid upon a sick bed, and brought so low
that at one time his life was despaired of. However, he comforted
himself by pressing his wounded arm three times a day, and thus
corresponding with his betrothed by means of the magnet. So they
told their grief and their love to each other daily in these few
words. And many think that his sickness was a devil's work of
Sidonia, or of old Wolde's planning; but he himself rather judged
it arose from the wild ride to his young bride on the morning she
bade him come. This matter, therefore, I leave undecided.

Yet no one can surely fathom all the cunning wiles of Satan; for
though many said Sidonia's power is now broken by Wolde's death,
and indeed the poor sheriff was the only one who still played the
hare, and kept the roaring ox safe up in the stall--still, so
strange a thing happened at this time to the knight, Ewald von
Mellenthin, that the criminal court thought proper to take
cognisance of the matter, and so we find it noted down in the
records of the trial. For, mark! This same knight, being summoned
to give evidence, deposed to Sidonia having in his presence flung
a hatchet at his dear bride, Ambrosia von Guntersberg, who had
been now a long while his well-beloved spouse, which hatchet had
wounded her in the foot. Then turning to the hag, he exclaimed
wrathfully--

"Ha! thou devil's witch, hast thou found thy recompense at last?"

Whereupon Sidonia made a face at him after her fashion, and
menaced him with the vengeance of her friends.

But what friend had she but Satan, who avenged her on this wise.
For, as some days after, the knight Ewald was driving with his
cousin Detloff, between Schlotenitz and Schellin, such an awful
roaring, and raging, and storming was heard in the air over their
heads, that the two foremost horses took fright, broke their
traces, threw the coachman, who was nearly killed, and dashed off
across the field through thick and thin, and never stopped till
they reached Stargard, trembling, panting, and exhausted, about
evening time.

The knight laid all this evidence before the criminal commission,
and my hare grew so frightened thereupon, that next day, while
listening to the depositions of more witnesses, seeing a shadow
hop along his paper, he started up in horror, screaming, "There
are the toad-shadows again! O God, keep me! There are the
toad-shadows again!" But the special commissioner, who had also
observed the shadow, and got up to look out at the window, now
called out, laughing heartily, "Marry, good Sparling, the shadow
belongs to one of your worship's brothers--a poor little sparrow,
who is hopping there on the house-top. Go out and see, if you
don't believe me." Whereupon the whole court burst out into a loud
fit of laughter, to the great annoyance of my hare.

Whilst Ludecke is drawing up his _articulus inquisitionalis_,
Sidonia's advocate, Dr. Elias Pauli, was not idle. And first he
stirred up the whole race of the Borks in her favour, letting it
come to the Duke's ears through his grand chamberlain, Matzke
Bork, that if Sidonia were treated with gentleness, and thereby
brought to make confession, assuredly there was great hope that
for this grace and indulgence she would untie the magic knots of
the girdle wherewith she had bewitched the whole princely race,
and laid the spell of barrenness upon them. But if extreme
measures were resorted to, never would she do this for his
Highness.

So the Duke was half moved to consent, and bade his
superintendent, Mag. Reutzius, come to him, and he should
instantly repair to Marienfliess, visit the sorceress in her
apartment, where she was _bis dato_, guarded a close
prisoner. Let him read out the seventy-four articles of the
indictment to her himself, admonish her to confess, and in his
(the Duke's) name, offer her pardon if she would untie the knots
of the girdle. Did she refuse, however, let her be brought the
following Sunday to the convent-chapel, there, in the presence of
the whole congregation, before the altar he was again to admonish
her. If she still persisted in her lies and wickedness, then let
him summon the executioner to strip her of her cloister habit
before the eyes of all the people. When he had further pronounced
her degradation from all her conventual dignities, she was to be
put in fetters and carried to the witches' tower at Saatzig.

My worthy father-in-law offered many objections against this
public degradation, but his Highness was resolved, and would
listen to no reasons, his wrath was so great against the hag.

Now it may be easily conjectured what crowds of people gathered in
the chapel when the blessed Sabbath bell rang, and the news ran
from mouth to mouth, that the witch was to be denounced and
degraded that day before the altar. Never had so many folk been
seen within the walls. And when the church was so full that not a
soul more could squeeze in at the doors, the people broke in the
windows, and setting ladders against them, clambered through, and
swung themselves right and left on the balustrades, and above and
below, and on all sides, there was not a spot without a human
face. Yea, four younkers crowded under the baldaquin of the
pulpit, and another carl got on the altar behind the crucifix, and
would have knocked it down, but my worthy father-in-law, seeing it
shake, caught hold of the carl by the tail of his coat, and
dragged him forth. _Item_, the whole criminal commission is
present; _item_, all the nuns in their gallery, with the
exception of the sub-prioress, Dorothea Stettin, who, along with
two other women, had devoted themselves to a fearful act of
vengeance (which I would hardly have believed of them), but it
will be related presently.

As to Sidonia, she had been brought in already, and placed on the
penitential stool before the altar, after which the organ struck
up that terrible hymn,

"Eternity, thou thunder word!"

Yet, as it happened that the congregation had not got this hymn in
their Psalm-books, seeing that it was quite a new one (which
circumstance had been overlooked in the general agitation), they
were obliged to sing that other, beginning,

"Now the awful hour has come."

Then the reverend priest, M. Reutzius, advanced to the altar,
having first chanted the litany, and there, to obey the Duke's
behests as nearly as possible, opened his sermon with some verses
from the afore-mentioned hymn, which I shall set down here for the
sake of the curious reader:--

"Eternity, thou thunder word!
Piercing the soul like sharpest sword,
Beginning without ending!
Eternity! Time without Time,
I know not in my grief and crime
Whereto my soul is tending.
The fainting heart recoils in fear
To see thy shadow drawing near.

In all the world there is no grief
To which Time brings not some relief,
Though sorrow wildest rages;
But thou, Eternity, can bring
No balm to lessen hell's fierce sting,
Through never-ending ages.
For even Christ Himself hath said,
'There's no repentance for the dead.'

So long as God in Heaven reigns,
So long shall last the sinner's pains,
In hell's fierce tortures lying.
Eternal fires will plague the soul,
Thirst, hunger, horror, fear, and dole,
The soul itself undying.
For hell's dark shades will never flee,
Till God Himself hath ceased to be!"

After which he read out the words of his text to the criminal,
telling her how his Serene Highness had selected the same himself
out of paternal clemency and in all uprightness. Then he explained
it, admonishing her yet once more to save her poor soul and not
plunge it into eternal perdition. After this, he kneeled down
along with the whole congregation, and prayed to the Holy Spirit
for her conversion, so that every one in the church wept and
trembled and sobbed. Then he rose up again and spake: "I ask you,
for the last time, Sidonia von Bork, do you confess yourself
guilty or not?"

And while every one held their breath suspended, the terrible
sorceress rose up and spake out with bold defiance--

"I am innocent. Curse upon the bloodthirsty Prince, who has
brought me to this shame; my blood be upon him and upon his race!"

"No!" cried the priest from the altar; "he hath saved his soul;
thy blood be upon thyself, and thy perdition upon thine own head!"

Then he lifted his right hand as a signal to the executioner,
whereupon Master Worger stepped forward in his red mantle with six
assistants. And first he draws forth a pair of scissors from
beneath his cloak, and cuts off her nun's veil (for by command of
the criminal judge, she had only a simple veil on to-day), and he
and his assistants trampled it beneath their feet. Then he cuts a
slit in her black robe, just beneath the chin, and tore it down
from head to foot, as a draper tears linen, and at this sight, and
the harsh sound in the silence of the church, many amongst the
nuns fainted. When all this had been done, and Sidonia now stood
there in her white under-garment, Master Worger, by command of the
court, put fetters on her, and riveted them tightly. So that at
the terrible sound of the hammering and clanking, and the
thundering reverberation through the vaulted church, so great a
horror and fear fell upon every one present, that all the nuns who
had not fainted rushed out of the gallery; _item_, a crowd of
people from the nave, and even the priest holding his hands before
his eyes, hastened after them.

She was soon lifted up by the executioner and his assistants, and
thrown into the cart over which the red flag waved; then driven
off without delay to Saatzig, a great crowd of people trotting
along with her. And even in Saatzig the whole town ran together
when the cart with the criminal was seen emerging from the wood,
and the executioner blew his trumpet to give notice to the warder
on the tower of their approach, as had been agreed upon.

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