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Sidonia The Sorceress V2 by William Mienhold

Part 5 out of 8

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Amongst the crowd, however, my Jobst is not to be seen; yet when
the cart stops, the beautiful form of Diliana is seen pressing
forward. She is dressed in a deep mourning mantle, and bears a
golden beaker of wine in her hand--weeps, and says mildly--

"Here, dear cousin, drink! You shall have everything as good as I
can make it for you, and eat what I and my father eat. Ah! cousin,
cousin, wherefore did you not make full confession?"

Herewith she reached out the beaker to the cart, but the evil
witch screamed out--

"Confess! What should I confess, you fool? Away with your stuff; I
will not be fed by your charity!"

Whereupon she dashed aside the beaker so fiercely that it fell to
the ground, and the wine splashed all over the young maiden's
robe. Then, clenching her withered hand, she shook it at the
window--

"Ha! the thick ploughman. Where hath the devil hid him? the thief
that stole my rents from Zachow! This is my reward for having
cured him! But wait, I will make him repent it yet," &c.

And she would have gone on much longer with her curses, but the
executioner gave her another blow with his fist, which made her
hold her tongue. Then he and his fellows lifted her from the cart,
and as she was unable to walk from shame, and despair, and wrath,
they carried her up the winding stairs to the witches' tower; and
she glowered into the little chamber which she had occupied fifty
years before, at the time she murdered poor Clara von Dewitz, for
they had to pass by it to reach the witches' tower, which lay two
flights of stairs higher up.

And when Master Worger laid her down in the damp dark hole, and
shook out some straw for her to lie on, the knave grinned and
said--"What would she do now for company? The devil would scarcely
come; still a companion would be pleasant."

The witch, however, made no answer, only looked down upon the
ground, muttering to herself. Whereupon the knave laughed again
and cried, "Eh, wait, I have got a companion for you!"

And opening a sack he had brought with him, took out a blackened
human head, and then two long, black, half-burned bones; placed
the bones crosswise on the ground, and set the head atop of them,
then said, "So, now you have right merry company. That is Wolde's
head, as you may perceive; and now ye may conjure the devil
together as ye were wont." Then, grinning maliciously, he went
out, locking the prison door upon the unfortunate wretch and the
death's-head.

Meanwhile, my Jobst and his fair daughter are plunged in great
perplexity and despair at the Duke's cruel order to have Sidonia
sent to their castle of Saatzig. Therefore, the indignant knight
sat down and wrote an earnest remonstrance to his Highness the
Duke, and prayed his Grace, therefore, to remove this millstone
from his neck, or he would resign the post of Governor of Saatzig,
and withdraw to his own good castle of Pansin. This letter he
despatched by a running courier to Old Stettin, and it produced a
good effect upon the Duke; for, in three days, an order arrived
for Sidonia's removal to Oderburg; and the crowds gathered round
the cart, from all parts, to see her as she passed along--as thick
as if it had been the time of the annual fair.

God be thanked, I have now got her as far as the Odenburg! For as
concerning her long imprisonment there, her frequent examinations,
and, finally, the question by torture, what need for me to relate
them here, seeing that your Highness and your illustrious brothers
were present during all behind the green screen? I, too, Doctor
Theodore Plonnies, assisted at the trial as high-sheriff, Anton
Petersdorf was _protonotarius_ to the criminal court, and
Johann Caude, the _notarius_, conducted the
_protocollum_. Besides, when I look back and think of her
shrieks, and how the dry withered limbs writhed and cracked upon
the wheel, till the black blood poured forth from her nails and
teeth, my head swims and the sight leaves my eyes--therefore, away
with it! This only will I notice, that her advocate, Doctor Elias
Pauli, preserved her in truth for a year and a day from the rack
and a bitter death, by his keen and cunning devices, thinking that
she would make away with herself some way or other, by mercury or
else, to escape the stake. But no such thing: she was as afraid of
death as a cat of hot broth; so at last he had to suffer justice
to take its course. Whereupon this Satan's hag, on the 28th July
1620, at four o'clock in the afternoon, pursuant to a decree of
the electoral-court of judges of Magdeburg in Saxony, was brought
into the great hall at Oderburg. and there stretched upon the
rack, as I have above mentioned, to force her to a confession upon
seventeen _artlculos inquisitionales_, many of which I have
noticed here and there through the preceding chapters.

CHAPTER XXIV.

_Of the execution of Sidonia and the wedding of Diliana._

After the torture, the poor malicious old wretch became so weak
that she thought herself like to die, and therefore bade my worthy
godfather, Doctor Cramer, to be brought to her that she might make
full confession at last. And her repentance, in truth, seemed
earnest and real now; for after the communion she bade them bring
her coffin--then sat up, and looking at it for a long while in
silence, at last said--

"I shall soon rest there in peace; meantime, carry it out again
till I am dead."

But such a hunger for the blessed sacrament was caused by her
death fears, and not by holy repentance; for as she did not die,
but rather after some days grew strong again (probably because the
Lord God chose to spare her yet longer, for a more fearful and
terrible warning to all sinners), she returned, "like a sow, to
her wallowing in the mire." And more particularly did she spit
forth her poisonous curses upon the whole princely race, when the
court-painter, Matthias Eller, arrived at the prison with an order
from his Highness, to paint her portrait, now in her hideous old
age, behind that which he had seen at Wolgast, representing her in
the prime of youthful beauty. Long did she weep and groan when she
looked upon the portrait of what she had been sixty years before;
then clenched her fists, and cursed to all eternity the princely
race which had first brought her to public dishonour--she so young
and innocent--and not content with that, now thirsted to see her
noble blood flow from the gallows.

"Ah, that was indeed the portrait of her youth! for her princely
bridegroom had got it painted secretly, because of his haughty
arrogant mother, by a painter in Wolgast; but she had revenged
herself on the proud old woman at last. The golden chain was her
own, but the gold hair-band and the sable collar had been a
present from her young bridegroom, And now, what was left of all
her pomp and magnificence! See what these accursed princes had
brought her to with their envy, arrogance, and savage
vengeance--she that was the richest lady in the land was now the
poorest beggar, and had not wherewithal even to purchase a
death-shift."

Meanwhile the report spread throughout all Pomerania land that
Sidonia was dead, and had been privately buried. The cause was
this,--when the executioner and his fellows carried out her coffin
after she had seen it, they told the eager and curious rabble, who
gathered round and had been roaring out for her death, that she
was dead already and lay within, and so they would lose the fun of
seeing her burned; and this they said in jest, to disappoint the
filthy and savage mob. So the news spread through the land and
reached Saatzig, where it was confirmed by an honourable knight
from Old Stettin, who answered them on oath that he had seen her
coffin carried out with his own eyes. So my Jobst and his fair
daughter are glad, and thank God that one of their noble race had
been spared the disgrace of falling by the hands of the hangman;
the young Diliana, in especial, rejoices, and when her lover
arrived from Pansin in the afternoon (for he was grown well and
strong again), she threw herself on his bosom, rapturously
exclaiming--

"Dearest George, our poor cousin is dead; now may the wedding
be--now may the banns be published!"

However, the news soon came how the mistake had happened, and that
Sidonia was still alive. But as the banns had been already
published and the wedding fixed for the 18th of July, Diliana at
length consented to abide by the arrangement, particularly as they
heard also that the execution would be delayed for some time, in
consequence of the Elector of Saxony having sent in his protest
against it to the Ducal Court of Stettin. Indeed, so many powerful
princes protested against this public disgrace, by reason of
Sidonia's high rank, that many thought she would be allowed to go
away perfectly free.

_Summa_.--Already, by the evening of the 17th, the noble
guests had gathered at Saatzig, and of the Borks, almost the whole
illustrious race is present; among whom were particularly
noticeable the Honourable Aulic Councillors, and Councillors of
Administration, Just, Andreas, and Henning. _Item_, all the
Putkammers, among whom came the old burgomaster Wolff, with his
sons, Benedictus, Asso, Gerson, Matthias, Wolfgang, &c. So that by
midnight the castle rang with merriment and revelry; and old Jobst
Bork was so beside himself with joy, that he flung the empty
flasks, as he drained them, up at the monks' heads which were
carved round the capitals of the pillars in the great knights'
hall, crying out, "That is for thee, monk!"

But the festive night hath a sad morning, without talking of all
the drinkers who snored till mid-day. However, all were ready at
last to go to the bridal, only waiting for Matzke Bork, the
princely chamberlain, who had promised, if possible, to be present
at the marriage, along with his Serene Highness himself, Duke
Francis. So they watched from the windows, and they watched from
the towers, but never a one of them is to be seen; and the guests
impatiently pace up and down the great hall, which is all wreathed
and decorated with flowers and banners. But the young bridegroom
is the most impatient of all. He paced up and down the hall,
arm-in-arm, with his betrothed, when at last a carriage was heard
approaching, and every eye was turned to the window, but Matzke
Bork sits in it alone. He enters disturbed and mournful, and when
the knight of Saatzig asks him where he has left his Highness the
Duke, he answers--

"The Duke will drink blood in place of wine to-day! Listen, good
cousins, to what the Duke hath resolved concerning our kinswoman
Sidonia. Her sentence hath been pronounced, and this very day will
be carried into effect: first, her nose and ears are to be torn up
with red-hot irons, at three different quarters of the town, by
the public hangman, and afterwards she is to be burned alive at a
slow fire."

When he ended, all the Borks present screamed with horror, and
gathered round him: "And was it not possible yet to change this
sentence?"

But Matzke answered, "He had tried all entreaties, but in vain;
even three times he had cast himself on his knees before his
Highness, yet could obtain no mitigation; for his Grace was
incensed against the witch, because of her arrogant defiance, and
her stubborn refusal to remove the spell from the princely race,
and sent orders to the executioner to build the pile by eight of
the clock on the following morning, and burn her alive thereon."

When he ceased speaking, the uproar in the hall rose to the
highest. Some of Sidonia's kin, amongst whom was Jobst, swore the
devil's hag deserved it all; and how could her death bring
dishonour upon them? But some thought evil of the insult offered
to their race, and cursed his Highness, and would spring to their
saddles and ride to Stettin on the instant.

Matzke, however, lifted his voice, and bade them have reason.
"They must endure what could not be altered. Jobst was right: was
the proud oak the worse because a rotten branch was lopped off?
Were they to come before his Highness with such mien and gesture,
why, he would straight order them all to be clapped into prison,
and then, indeed, would disgrace rest on their illustrious name.
No, no; for God's sake, let them rest here. His Grace was too full
of wrath now to listen even to his preachers, the ministers of
God. How, then, would he hear them? Let them rather rest in peace,
and forget the fate of their evil cousin in the festivities of the
bridal."

"Ay, good cousins and guests," quoth the bridegroom, "let us to
the bridal, and the Word of God will calm us, and bring us upon
other thoughts. But where is my beloved Diliana?"

They sought her in the hall--in vain! They ran all through the
castle--in vain! Diliana is away, and no one knows whither she has
gone.

But the maiden hath a brave spirit, and hath wrapped a black
mantle belonging to her mourning robes over her bridal dress, and
drawn the hood over her myrtle wreath; then taking the shift of
her grandmother, Clara, in her hand, which she had kept ready by
her for such a case, she descended to the stables, where there
were only two grooms to be seen, all the others having joined the
crowd round the church to catch a sight of the bridal procession,
had the best palfrey saddled, took one groom with her, pressed
some money into the hand of the other, and bade him not tell, for
three hours, that she had gone to Old Stettin. Then rode away,
striking, however, into a bypath, to deceive the guests, in case
they should attempt to follow her. And her journey ended all
safely; for in four hours she was in Old Stettin, without having
been pursued. And reaching the ducal residence, she alighted,
hastened up the stairs, bowed proudly to the princely official
without uttering a word, and proceeded straight to the apartment
of the Duke. There threw off her travelling hood and mantle, and
knocked bravely at the door.

"Enter!" exclaimed the voice of his Highness. Upon which the
beautiful maiden in her bridal robes, and the myrtle wreath on her
hair, stepped in. At which sight his Grace, who was reclining on a
couch, started up, took her hand smiling, and asked--"For the love
of Heaven, what brought her hither upon her festal-day?"

So she began: "This was no festal-day, but a day of shame to her
and her whole race, because of the horrible and incredible tidings
brought to them by Matzke Bork, respecting their old kinswoman,
Sidonia; therefore she had left bridegroom, bridal, and festival,
and ridden away alone, to see if she could not turn away such a
disgrace from her noble race, and such horrible torture from her
poor old kinswoman. Had she not freely perilled her life for his
Grace? If they had not succeeded, at least it was no fault of
hers. Let him recall the terrible decree, and if her cousin
deserved death, as she doubted not, command her to be beheaded, as
had at first been agreed upon. This, at least, was a more
honourable and less painful death. His Grace must grant her
prayer, for she would not move from the spot until he did so."

But his Grace is inexorable, and recapitulates all the sins of the
demon hag; "how she had defied him, and made a mock of the holy
sacrament; and wherefore did he bear the sword from God, if it
were not as a just Prince, to set her forth a terrible warning and
example to all; for witchcraft was increasing day by day in the
land, and witches were almost as plenty as flies."

His Grace then paced up and down a long while in silence. At last
spake--

"Now, for thy sake, the first decree shall hold good, although
never was one so unworthy of my favour as this hag."

Whereat the young virgin was so moved with gratitude, that she
fell down on her knees before his Grace, and bedewed his hand with
her tears.

Just then some one knocked, and the jailer entered--

"The witch had taken another fit of conversion, and prayed for a
priest. _Item_, for a fresh shift, for she had not changed
her linen for four weeks, and no one would give her a fresh
shift."

When Diliana heard this she wondered much over the dark providence
of God, and said--"Wait, I will give thee a shift for her;"
stepped out into the gallery and took Clara's, No. 7, which she
had brought with her, out of her travelling mantle, and, in truth,
this was the very shift in which the murderess was carried to her
death.

_Summa_.--The jailer hath scarcely got the said shift under
his arm, when the clatter of footsteps is heard upon the stairs,
and then another knock at the Duke's apartment, and this was my
knight George Putkamraer, who rushed in, arrayed in his wedding
finery, but all covered over with dust, since he had not given
himself time to fling a cloak over his dress. He clasped his young
bride to his heart, and half scolded her for leaving him privately
before the bridal. But when he heard of her noble courage, and
what she had accomplished, he was glad again, and kissed the hand
of his Grace, and he must now grant them one favour more, and
return with them to the wedding. "The distance was only five
miles, and he had the finest Malmsey that ever was drunk to
present to his Highness."

At this hearing his Grace exclaimed--

"Eh, George, where have you got the Malmsey? Ha! younker, hast
thou a cup of Malmsey? I will go with thee right heartily to
Saatzig!"

And his Grace wanted to order carriages instantly to carry them
all off, that so they might arrive that same evening at the
castle, but Diliana objected--

"No, she would stand by her word, and never hold bridal in Saatzig
until her poor cousin lay at rest in her grave. This night she
would remain in the town, and not leave it until she had seen the
last of her poor cousin."

A long strife now ensued, but Diliana remained firm to her
resolve. So his Highness said, at last, that he would play the
messenger himself, and journey off to the wedding the moment he
had given orders to his chancellor respecting the change of
Sidonia's sentence. He was better pleased not to be in the place
when she was executed. Diliana could stay the night in the castle
with his dear spouse, the Duchess, and the knight might look after
a place for himself. He would desire all the wedding-guests to be
ready to-morrow at midday for the bridal, and if Diliana and the
knight disliked riding, let them order a carriage from the marshal
of his stables, with fresh Frisian horses, and in a couple of
hours they would be at Saatzig.

However, Diliana would not remain the night in the castle, but
went to her cousin, the lady of Matzke Bork, because her house
stood not far from the place of execution, although the place
itself was not visible, and my younker went down sorrowfully to
the inn to pass the night there, but betimes in the morning was up
and off to his dear little bride. He finds her in the second
story, but no longer in her bridal magnificence; a black mourning
garment covered her entire person; and when the knight started in
dismay at her appearance, she said--

"That no other robes beseemed a Bork when one of their race was
going to her death; and she heard that the procession to the
scaffold was to come that way from the Otterburg, and would pass
in half-an-hour, therefore she was prepared to behold it. It was
well that the scaffold itself was hidden from their sight; but
would her dear George just go over and bid some one hoist a flag
when the head of her cousin fell."

So the knight did her will, but when he returned said--

"Diliana, if thou givest me so many nuts to crack when we are
married, methinks it will be an evil thing."

To which she answered mildly--

"No, dear George, after marriage it is the wife who cracks all the
hard nuts, but to-day, dearest, it is thy office. I know not why,
but I have a feeling over me to-day as if the soul of my poor
grandmother would be at rest after this execution, and that
Sidonia herself will be, in some sense, pardoned through the means
of that death-shift, No. 7; yet wherefore I think this I know
not."

Just then a dull, hoarse, murmuring sound was heard in the
distance, like the heaving of the waves when thunder is in the
air, and the Lady Matzke's maid rushed in exclaiming--"She's
coming! she's coming!" Then Diliana trembled and turned pale, but
still advanced to the balcony with her cousin and the young
knight.

At length the terrible sorceress herself appears in sight,
accompanied by the school, chanting the death-psalm. She wore a
white robe seamed with black, and Diliana recognises, with a
shudder, that this is indeed Clara's shift, for she had herself
thus stitched the seams in order to know it; but besides, the No.
7 was plainly discernible on the neck. She walked barefoot, and
round her head was bound a black fillet flowered with gold, from
beneath which her long white hair fluttered in the wind.

Diliana contemplates all this awhile shudderingly, then covers her
face with both hands, and sobs and weeps, so that the tears pour
down through the delicate little fingers, and my younker hath
enough to do to comfort her. But when the procession disappears
she dries her eyes, re-enters the chamber, and folding her hands
across her bosom, walks up and down, praying earnestly, until the
red Danish flag shoots up. Then she sighed deeply, and drying her
beautiful eyes again said softly--

"May God have mercy upon her soul, now her tortures are over!"

Scarcely are the words uttered ere a dense cloud of smoke ascends
above the fisher's house, rising higher and higher, like a lofty
black tower in the air, so that they all conjectured--"Now she is
burning on the pile," and shuddered, yet are content withal that
at last her fearful life has ended.

Then they all knelt down and repeated the Lord's Prayer; then
rising, addressed themselves in earnest for their homeward
journey.

And here, with the death of Sidonia, I might justly close my book,
merely stating in addition, that her ashes were laid in the burial
ground for the poor, and that some time after the gentle Diliana
caused a tombstone to be erected over them, out of Christian
charity and forgiveness. But as some say his Highness the Duke got
his death at the wedding of Diliana, I shall briefly narrate the
facts here, to please the curious reader.

For the said Duke was so much taken with the Malmsey wine, that he
sat up drinking the whole night, and next morning his legs were
swelled to that degree that his boots had to be cut oft with
knives. So that when the bridal pair arrived, his Grace had to
receive them in slippers, yet rejoiced much at hearing that all
was over; and then, scarcely giving Diliana time to recover
herself, despatched the whole company off to the church. Not,
however, without giving serious admonitions, both to the priest
and the knight, George, not to let the ring drop. For if Dr.
Luther, the thoughtless lubberhead, had not let the ring fall at
the wedding of his grandfather in Forgau, it would have been
better with him and his whole race, as his grandmother of blessed
memory had always said, and now indeed he saw she had spoken
wisely.

Now my Jobst in the confusion of voices, hearing only the word
"monk," thought his Grace was speaking of the monks' heads on the
capitals of the pillars in the hall. So seeing two empty flasks,
shouted, "Ay, that is for thee, monk!" and pitched them crash!
crash! with such force up at the monks, that the pieces flew about
the ears of the musicians who were to play before the bridal pair
going to church, and a loud peal of laughter rang through the
hall--after which they all set off for the wedding at last. And in
truth this was a blessed marriage.

But respecting the illustrious and princely race of Pomerania,
they perished each and all without leaving behind one single
inheritor of their name or possessions. Not, methinks, because of
the spell which the demoniac sorceress laid on them, but because
He loved this race so well, that He withdrew them from this evil
world before the dreadful strifes, wars, and calamities came upon
them, which our poor fatherland now endures. For before these
storms broke over our heads, He called them one by one from this
vale of tears, and truly, the first was his Highness Duke Francis,
for in a few months after Sidonia's execution, after a brief
illness, on the 27th December 1620, he fell asleep in God, aged 43
years, 8 months, and 3 days, without leaving children. The next
was Bishop Udalricus, who likewise became suddenly ill at
Pribbernow, near Stepnitz, with swollen body and limbs, and had to
lie there until his death, on the 31st October 1622, when, to the
great grief and consternation of the whole land, his young life
closed at the early age of 34 years, and he too left no children,
though he had a young and beautiful spouse. The next who died was
Duke Philip Julius of Wolgast, the only son of Ernest Ludovicus
and his spouse Hedwig. He was a wise and just ruler, but followed
the others soon, on the 16th February 1625, aged only 40 years, 1
month, and 28 days--likewise, as all the rest, left no children.

But our Lord God hath not withdrawn so many and noble princes from
the world without sending forth strange and wonderful signs to
forewarn the land; for, without speaking of the great thunderclap
which was heard all of a sudden in the middle of clear fine
weather, the winter after Sidonia's death, and the numberless mock
suns that appeared in different places, or of that strange rain,
when a sulphureous matter, like starch in appearance, fell from
the air (_item_, a snow-white pike was caught at Colzow in
Wellin, seven quarters long, and half an ell broad, with red round
eyes, and red fins), a stranger wonder than all was seen at
Wolgast; for suddenly, during a review held there, one of the
soldier's muskets went off without a finger being laid on it, and
the ball went right through the princely Pomeranian standard with
such precision, that the arms seemed to have been cut out all
round with a sharp knife. At Stettin also, in the castle-chapel,
one of the crowns suspended over the stalls fell down of itself;
but still more awful was what happened respecting Bogislaus XIII.,
last father of all the Pomeranian princes. For all along, by the
pillars of the aisle, there are figures in armour representing the
deceased dukes. And during the sermon one Sunday, the sword fell
clanging to the ground from the hand of the armed figure
representing Bogislaus XIII., though no human hand ever touched
it. At this sight every one was troubled in spirit, but woe, alas!
we now see what all these supernatural signs and wonders denoted!
Yet still we have one noble prince remaining with the ancient
blood of Pomerania in his veins. May the Lord God spare him long
to us, and bless him, like Abraham, with a son in his old age.
Such an Isaac would be a blessed sight to me; for when the last
branch falls, I know that my poor heart will break also!

DR. THEODORUS PLNNIES.

CONCLUSION.

_Mournful destiny of the last princely Pomeranian remains--My
visit to the ducal Pomeranian vault in Wolgast, on the 6th May
1840._

Bogislaf XIV., who as a truth-loving, amicable, and pious
glossator, has annotated so many places in our text, found this
"last and happy hour," which he had so long desired, on the 10th
March 1637. When he had attained the age of fifty-seven years, his
death occurred at a period of unexampled misery, the like of which
before or since was never seen in our whole German fatherland. Yet
the destiny of the Zantalides which followed the princely
Pomeranian house, seemed in no way propitiated even by their
death. No; it raged, and rages still, against the last poor
remains of their mouldering clay. Bogislaff, during the horrors of
the thirty years' war, remained for _seventeen_ years
unburied, because none of the princes who fought for the
possession of Pomerania' would consent to bear the expense of the
burial, and the land was too poor to take the cost upon itself.
Yet his corpse suffered no further indignities like those of his
princely kinsfolk of Wolgast. For after ninety-four years we find
him still lying calmly in his coffin, looking upward to his God
through the little window which he so often sighed after. We shall
first take a look at him before we descend into the Wolgast vault
to contemplate the disgusting sacrilege which has been perpetrated
and permitted there. Every reader of sensibility will feel
interested in the following details, which are taken from
Oelrich's valuable work, "Memorials of the Pomeranian Dukes," p.
87:--

"On the 19th of April 1731, a royal commission opened the vault in
the castle-church of Stettin, wherein many of the noble princes of
Pomerania lay buried, and the coffin of Duke Bogislaff was broken
open by especial command. The body was found quite perfect. Even
the face was tolerably preserved, though the eyes had fallen in;
for the skin had dried over the features, and the beard was long
and somewhat red; the coffin was lined throughout with violet
velvet (some say black), bordered with stones which had the
appearance of turquoise. The corpse was dressed in a surplice,
similar in form to that worn by priests at the present day, but
fringed with silver, and likewise ornamented with turquoise. Upon
the left hand there was a diamond ring and another. The diamond
was quite pale, and the right hand was lying close to the side, as
if going to seize the dagger. Farther, they found a long and
massive gold chain suspended round the neck, and upon the breast a
silver plate, like the bottom of a silver beaker, upon which the
Pomeranian arms were engraved.

"Beneath the coffin of this last Duke of Pomerania lay the ducal
flag, but the pole was broken in two, either from design or in
consequence of decay; and above the coffin were remains of crape
and mouldered fragments of velvet. _Lave anima pia!_

"But the princely remains of Wolgast had indeed a mournful
destiny. True; they were not left unburied for a number of years,
but they were plundered and outraged, in such a disgraceful and
revolting manner, by church-robbers, that it is impossible even to
read the account of it in the Swedish protocol of 21st June 1688,
from which Heller gives extracts in his 'Chronicle of the Town of
Wolgast,' p. 346, without as much pain as emotion.
[Footnote: Only one of these robbers was seized-he was whipped
and banished; the second hanged himself, and the other escaped.
One was a Jew; the other two were the sexton and gravedigger of
the church.]

"Yet the Swedish Government seemed content to rest with the simple
investigation, and took no trouble about, or showed the least
respect for, the ashes of those to whom they were indebted for
land and people. For the coffins lay there just as the robbers
left them--broken open with axes and hatchets, or wrenched asunder
with crowbars, and still lie in this state. However the vault was
closed up, and no one was permitted to enter it unless in the
presence of one of the reigning family; for this reason very few
ever beheld these mournful remains. I myself would probably never
have had an opportunity of so doing, only that the Prussian
Government resolved on building some additions to the Wolgast
church; and, at the same time, desired the foundation to be
evened, for it had sunk in various places, and afterwards to wall
up the princely vault for ever. In order to work at the
foundation, it was necessary to remove the great stone which
covered the entrance to the vault, and many along with myself
availed themselves of this last opportunity to visit the interior.
Therefore, on the day named above, I descended with deep emotion
the steps that led to it. I found the vault was divided into two
compartments, having vaulted roofs of about seven or eight feet
high. In the first partition no coffin whatever was to be seen,
but I could distinguish already the glitter of the tin coffins in
the second compartment, which was reached by a further descent of
a few steps, and lit up by the torches and lanterns of numerous
visitors who had preceded me. The coffins were nine in number, and
mostly covered with tin; each lay on a tressel of mason-work, and
bore the marks, more or less, of the violence that had been
employed to wrench them open.

"The strong Philip I. began the mournful range. A gentleman handed
me his skull, in which scarcely a tooth was wanting. Then I
searched in the adjoining coffin for that of his spouse Maria, 'my
gracious Lady of Wolgast,' of Doctor Theodore's History. I found
it, took it in the other hand, and cannot describe the strange
feeling which came over me.

"When I had indulged some time in strange and deep emotions, I
laid down the honourable relics again in their coffins, and
stepped to that of Ernest Ludovic, the unfortunate lover of the
still more unfortunate Sidonia. According to the protocol of 1688,
which I held in my hand, there was to be seen there a violet
velvet mantle, and a cap without anything inside. There they
were--nothing more to find--all fallen in dust, the weak head as
the weak heart! Close to him lay his unfortunate wife, Sophia
Hedwig of Brunswick, both the most beautiful persons of their
time.

"But my interest was excited most by the contemplation of Philip
Julius, the last Duke of Pommern-Wolgast, who has only received a
passing notice in this book, but who was one of the most gifted,
and probably the most lamented Prince of his thousand-year-old
race. His coffin was of far costlier workmanship than the others,
and decorated with a row of gilded angels' heads; near it stood
the black wooden tressel, upon which it had originally been
placed, and which looked as fresh as if it had been only just
placed there, instead of having lain in the vault for two hundred
and fifteen years. A strange sensation crept over me! We were both
silent, till at last the gentleman began to search with his hand
in the grey mouldering dust, and along with some rags of velvet,
he brought up a damp, discoloured scrap of paper, which he
carelessly tore; but I instantly seized it, and joined the pieces
together again, for the signification of such little notes in the
coffins of old times was not unknown to me.

"And, in fact, I found what I sought; there was not only marked on
it the date of the Duke's burial, the 6th of May, which had a
mystic significance to me, since it was on the very 6th of May
that I was now standing to contemplate these mute yet eloquent
graves, but also there was noted down the text from which the
funeral sermon had been preached (2 Tim. iv. 7), as well as the
list of the psalms sung on the occasion, among which the closing
psalm--'When sorrow assails thee,' is still to be found in most
hymn-books. But my poor old Pomeranian heart could bear no more: I
placed the paper again in the coffin; and, while the tears poured
from my eyes as I ascended the steps, those beautiful old verses
came into my head, and I could not help reciting them aloud:--

'So must human pomp and stat
In the grave lie desolate.
He who wore the kingly crown,
With the base worm lieth down:
Ermined robe, and purple pall,
Leaveth he at death's weird call.

Fleeting, cheating human life,
Souls are perilled in thy strife;
Yet the pomps in which we trust,
All must perish!--dust to dust.
God alone will ever be;
Who serves Him reigns eternally!'"

MARY SCHWEIDLER

THE AMBER WITCH

THE MOST INTERESTING TRIAL FOR WITCHCRAFT EVER KNOWN

PRINTED FROM AN IMPERFECT MANUSCRIPT BY HER FATHER ABRAHAM
SCHWEIDLER, THE PASTOR OP COSEROW IN THE ISLAND OF USEDOM

EDITED BY

WILLIAM MEINHOLD DOCTOR OF THEOLOGY

TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY

LADY DUFF GORDON

PREFACE

In laying before the public this deeply affecting and romantic
trial, which I have not without reason called on the title-page
the most interesting of all trials for witchcraft ever known, I
will first give some account of the history of the manuscript.

At Coserow, in the island of Usedom, my former cure, the same
which was held by our worthy author some two hundred years ago,
there existed under a seat in the choir of the church a sort of
niche, nearly on a level with the floor. I had, indeed, often seen
a heap of various writings in this recess; but owing to my short
sight, and the darkness of the place, I had taken them for
antiquated hymn-books, which were lying about in great numbers.
But one day, while I was teaching in the church, I looked for a
paper mark in the Catechism of one of the boys, which I could not
immediately find; and my old sexton, who was past eighty (and who,
although called Appelmann, was thoroughly unlike his namesake in
our story, being a very worthy, although a most ignorant man),
stooped down to the said niche, and took from it a folio volume
which I had never before observed, out of which he, without the
slightest hesitation, tore a strip of paper suited to my purpose,
and reached it to me. I immediately seized upon the book, and,
after a few minutes' perusal, I know not which was greater, my
astonishment or my vexation at this costly prize. The manuscript,
which was bound in vellum, was not only defective both at the
beginning and at the end, but several leaves had even been torn
out here and there in the middle. I scolded the old man as I had
never done during the whole course of my life; but he excused
himself, saying that one of my predecessors had given him the
manuscript for waste paper, as it had lain about there ever since
the memory of man, and he had often been in want of paper to twist
round the altar-candles, &c. The aged and half-blind pastor had
mistaken the folio for old parochial accounts which could be of no
more use to any one.

[Footnote: The original manuscript does indeed contain several
accounts which at first sight may have led to this mistake;
besides, the handwriting is extremely difficult to read, and in
several places the paper is discoloured and decayed.]

No sooner had I reached home than I fell to work upon my new
acquisition, and after reading a bit here and there with
considerable trouble, my interest was powerfully excited by the
contents.

I soon felt the necessity of making myself better acquainted with
the nature and conduct of these witch trials, with the
proceedings, nay, even with the history of the whole period in
which these events occur. But the more I read of these
extraordinary stories, the more was I confounded; and neither the
trivial Beeker (_Die bezauberte Welt_, "The Enchanted
World"), nor the more careful Horst (_Zauberbibliothek_, "The
Library of Magic"), to which, as well as to several other works on
the same subject, I had flown for information, could resolve my
doubts, but rather served to increase them.

Not alone is the demoniacal character, which pervades nearly all
these fearful stories, so deeply marked, as to fill the attentive
reader with feelings of alternate horror and dismay, but the
eternal and unchangeable laws of human feeling and action are
often arrested in a manner so violent and unforeseen, that the
understanding is entirely baffled. For instance, one of the
original trials which a friend of mine, a lawyer, discovered in
our province, contains the account of a mother, who, after she had
suffered the torture, and received the holy Sacrament, and was on
the point of going to the stake, so utterly lost all maternal
feeling, that her conscience obliged her to accuse as a witch her
only dearly loved daughter, a girl of fifteen, against whom no one
had ever entertained a suspicion, in order, as she said, to save
her poor soul. The court, justly amazed at an event which probably
has never since been paralleled, caused the state of the mother's
mind to be examined both by clergymen and physicians, whose
original testimonies are still appended to the records, and are
all highly favourable to her soundness of mind. The unfortunate
daughter, whose name was Elizabeth Hegel, was actually executed on
the strength of her mother's accusation. [Footnote: It is my
intention to publish this trial also, as it possesses very great
psychological interest.]

The explanation commonly received at the present day, that these
phenomena were produced by means of animal magnetism, is utterly
insufficient. How, for instance, could this account for the deeply
demoniacal nature of old Lizzie Kolken as exhibited in the
following pages? It is utterly incomprehensible, and perfectly
explains why the old pastor, notwithstanding the horrible deceits
practised on him in the person of his daughter, retained as firm a
faith in the truth of witchcraft as in that of the Gospel.

During the earlier centuries of the Middle Ages little was known
of witchcraft. The crime of magic, when it did occur, was
leniently punished. For instance, the council of Ancyra (314)
ordained the whole punishment of witches to consist in expulsion
from the Christian community. The Visigoths punished them with
stripes, and Charlemagne, by advice of his bishops, confined them
in prison until such time as they should sincerely repent.
[Footnote: Horst, _Zauberbibliothek_, vi. p. 231.] It was not
until very soon before the Reformation, that Innocent VIII.
lamented that the complaints of universal Christendom against the
evil practices of these women had become so general and so loud,
that the most vigorous measures must be taken against them; and
towards the end of the year 1489, he caused the notorious Hammer
for Witches (_Malleus Malleficarurn_) to be published,
according to which proceedings were set on foot with the most
fanatical zeal, not only in Catholic, but, strange to say, even in
Protestant Christendom, which in other respects abhorred
everything belonging to Catholicism. Indeed, the Protestants far
outdid the Catholics in cruelty, until, among the latter, the
nobleminded Jesuit, J. Spee, and among the former, but not until
seventy years later, the excellent Thomasius, by degrees put a
stop to these horrors.

After careful examination into the nature and characteristics of
witchcraft, I soon perceived that among all these strange and
often romantic stories, not one surpassed my "amber witch" in
lively interest; and I determined to throw her adventures into the
form of a romance. Fortunately, however, I was soon convinced that
her story was already in itself the most interesting of all
romances; and that I should do far better to leave it in its
original antiquated form, omitting whatever would be uninteresting
to modern readers, or so universally known as to need no
repetition. I have therefore attempted, not indeed to supply what
is missing at the beginning and end, but to restore those leaves
which have been torn out of the middle, imitating, as accurately
as I was able, the language and manner of the old biographer, in
order that the difference between the original narrative, and my
own interpolations, might not be too evident.

This I have done with much trouble, and after many ineffectual
attempts; but I refrain from pointing out the particular passages
which I have supplied, so as not to disturb the historical
interest of the greater part of my readers. For modern criticism,
which has now attained to a degree of acuteness never before
equalled, such a confession would be entirely superfluous, as
critics will easily distinguish the passages where Pastor
Schweidler speaks from those written by Pastor Meinhold.

I am, nevertheless, bound to give the public some account of what
I have omitted, namely--

1st. Such long prayers as were not very remarkable for Christian
unction.

2d. Well-known stories out of the Thirty Years' War.

3d. Signs and wonders in the heavens, which were seen here and
there, and which are recorded by other Pomeranian writers of these
fearful times; for instance, by Micrlius. [Footnote: Vom Alten
Pommerlande (Of Old Pomerania), book v.] But when these events
formed part of the tale itself, as, for instance, the cross on the
Streckelberg, I, of course, allowed them to stand.

4th. The specification of the whole income of the church at
Coserow, before and during the terrible times of the Thirty Years'
War.

5th. The enumeration of the dwellings left standing, after the
devastations made by the enemy in every village throughout the
parish.

6th. The names of the districts to which this or that member of
the congregation had emigrated.

7th. A ground plan and description of the old manse.

I have likewise here and there ventured to make a few changes in
the language, as my author is not always consistent in the use of
his words or in his orthography. The latter I have, however, with
very few exceptions, retained.

And thus I lay before the gracious reader a work, glowing with the
fire of heaven, as well as with that of hell.

MEINHOLD.

THE AMBER WITCH

INTRODUCTION.

The origin of our biographer cannot be traced with any degree of
certainty, owing to the loss of the first part of his manuscript.
It is, however, pretty clear that he was not a Pomeranian, as he
says he was in Silesia in his youth, and mentions relations
scattered far and wide, not only at Hamburg and Cologne, but even
at Antwerp; above all, his South-German language betrays a foreign
origin, and he makes use of words, which are, I believe, peculiar
to Swabia. He must, however, have been living for a long time in
Pomerania at the time he wrote, as he even more frequently uses
Low-German expressions, such as occur in contemporary native
Pomeranian writers.

Since he sprang from an ancient noble family, as he says on
several occasions, it is possible that some particulars relating
to the Schweidlers might be discovered in the family records of
the seventeenth century, which would give a clue to his native
country; but I have sought for that name in all the sources of
information accessible to me in vain, and am led to suspect that
our author, like many of his contemporaries, laid aside his
nobility and changed his name when he took holy orders.

I will not, however, venture on any further conjectures; the
manuscript, of which six chapters are missing, begins with the
words "Imperialists plundered," and evidently the previous pages
must have contained an account of the breaking out of the Thirty
Years' War in the island of Usedom. It goes on as follows:--

"Coffers, chests, and closets were all plundered and broken to
pieces, and my surplice also was torn, so that I remained in great
distress and tribulation. But my poor little daughter they did not
find, seeing that I had hidden her in the stable, which was dark,
without which I doubt not they would have made my heart heavy
indeed. The lewd dogs would even have been rude to my old maid
Ilse, a woman hard upon fifty, if an old cornet had not forbidden
them. Wherefore I gave thanks to my Maker when the wild guests
were gone, that I had first saved my child from their clutches,
although not one dust of flour, nor one grain of corn, nor one
morsel of meat even of a finger's length was left, and I knew not
how I should any longer support my own life, and my poor child's.
_Item_, I thanked God that I had likewise secured the _vasa
sacra_, which I had forthwith buried in the church in front of
the altar, in presence of the two churchwardens, Hienrich Seden
and Claus Bulken, of Uekeritze, commending them to the care of
God. And now because, as I have already said, I was suffering the
pangs of hunger, I wrote to his lordship the Sheriff Wittich v.
Appelmann, at Pudgla [Footnote: A castle in Usedom, formerly a
celebrated convent.], that for the love of God and His holy Gospel
he should send me that which his Highness' Grace Philippus Julius
had allowed me as _prstanda_ from the convent at Pudgla, to
wit, thirty bushels of barley and twenty-five marks of silver,
which howbeit his lordship had always withheld from me hitherto
(for he was a very hard inhuman man, inasmuch as he despised the
holy Gospel and the preaching of the Word, and openly, without
shame, reviled the servants of God, saying that they were useless
feeders, and that Luther had but half cleansed the pig-stye of the
Church--God mend it!). But he answered me nothing, and I should
have perished for want if Hinrich Seden had not begged for me in
the parish. May God reward the honest fellow for it in eternity!
Moreover, he was then growing old, and was sorely plagued by his
wicked wife Lizzie Kolken. Methought when I married them that it
would not turn out over well, seeing that she was in common report
of having long lived in unchastity with Wittich Appelmann, who had
ever been an arch-rogue, and especially an arrant whoremaster, and
such the Lord never blesses. This same Seden now brought me five
loaves, two sausages, and a goose, which old goodwife Paal, at
Loddin, had given him; also a flitch of bacon from the farmer Jack
Tewert. But he said I must shield him from his wife, who would
have had half for herself, and when he denied her she cursed him,
and wished him gout in his head, whereupon he straightway felt a
pain in his right cheek, and it was quite hard and heavy already.
At such shocking news I was affrighted, as became a good pastor,
and asked whether peradventure he believed that she stood in evil
communication with Satan, and could bewitch folks? But he said
nothing, and shrugged his shoulders. So I sent for old Lizzie to
come to me, who was a tall, meagre woman of about sixty, with
squinting eyes, so that she could not look any one in the face;
likewise with quite red hair, and indeed her goodman had the same.
But though I diligently admonished her out of God's Word, she made
no answer, until at last I said, 'Wilt thou unbewitch thy goodman
(for I saw from the window how that he was raving in the street
like a madman), or wilt thou that I should inform the magistrate
of thy deeds?' Then, indeed, she gave in, and promised that he
should soon be better (and so he was); moreover she begged that I
would give her some bread and some bacon, inasmuch as it was three
days since she had had a bit of anything to put between her lips,
saving always her tongue. So my daughter gave her half a loaf, and
a piece of bacon about two hands-breadths large; but she did not
think it enough, and muttered between her teeth; whereupon my
daughter said, 'If thou art not content, thou old witch, go thy
ways and help thy goodman; see how he has laid his head on Zabel's
fence, and stamps with his feet for pain.' Whereupon she went
away, but still kept muttering between her teeth, 'Yea, forsooth,
I will help him and thee too.'"

CHAPTER VII.

_How the Imperialists robbed me of all that was left, and
likewise broke into the church and stole the Vasa Sacra; also what
more befell us._

After a few days, when we had eaten almost all our food, my last
cow fell down dead (the wolves had already devoured the others, as
mentioned above), not without a strong suspicion that Lizzie had a
hand in it, seeing that the poor beast had eaten heartily the day
before; but I leave that to a higher judge, seeing that I would
not willingly calumniate any one; and it may have been the will of
God, whose wrath I have well deserved. _Summa_, I was once
more in great need, and my daughter Mary pierced my heart with her
sighs, when the cry was raised that another troop of Imperialists
was come to Uekeritze, and was marauding there more cruelly than
ever, and, moreover, had burnt half the village. Wherefore I no
longer thought myself safe in my cottage; and after I had
commended everything to the Lord in a fervent prayer, I went up
with my daughter and old Ilse into the Streckelberg, [Footnote: A
considerable mountain close to the sea near Coserow.] where I
already had looked out for ourselves a hole like a cavern, well
grown over with brambles, against the time when the troubles
should drive us thither. We therefore took with us all we had left
to us for the support of our bodies, and fled into the woods,
sighing and weeping, whither we soon were followed by the old men,
and the women and children; these raised a great cry of hunger
when they saw my daughter sitting on a log and eating a bit of
bread and meat, and the little things came with their tiny hands
stretched out and cried, "Have some too, have some too." Therefore
being justly moved by such great distress, I hindered not my
daughter from sharing all the bread and meat that remained among
the hungry children. But first I made them pray--"The eyes of all
wait upon Thee;" [Footnote: Ps. cxlv. 15, 16.] upon which words I
then spake comfortably to the people, telling them that the Lord,
who had now fed their little children, would find means to fill
their own bellies, and that they must not be weary of trusting in
Him.

This comfort did not, however, last long; for after we had rested
within and around the cavern for about two hours, the bells in the
village began to ring so dolefully, that it went nigh to break all
our hearts, the more as loud firing was heard between whiles;
_item_, the cries of men and the barking of dogs resounded,
so that we could easily guess that the enemy was in the village. I
had enough to do to keep the women quiet, that they might not by
their senseless lamentations betray our hiding-place to the cruel
enemy; and more still when it began to smell smoky, and presently
the bright flames gleamed through the trees. I therefore sent old
Paasch up to the top of the hill, that he might look around and
see how matters stood, but told him to take good care that they
did not see him from the village, seeing that the twilight had but
just begun.

This he promised, and soon returned with the news that about
twenty horsemen had galloped out of the village towards the
Damerow, but that half the village was in flames. _Item, he told
us that by a wonderful dispensation of God a great number of birds
had appeared in the juniper-bushes and elsewhere, and that if we
could catch them they would be excellent food for us. I therefore
climbed up the hill myself, and having found everything as he had
said, and also perceived that the fire had, by the help of God's
mercy, abated in the village; _item_, that my cottage was
left standing, far beyond my merits and deserts; I came down again
and comforted the people, saying, "The Lord hath given us a sign,
and He will feed us, as He fed the people of Israel in the
wilderness; for He has sent us a fine flight of fieldfares across
the barren sea, so that they whirr out of every bush as ye come
near it. Who will now run down into the village, and cut off the
mane and tail of my dead cow which lies out behind on the common?"
(for there was no horsehair in all the village, seeing that the
enemy had long since carried off or stabbed all the horses). But
no one would go, for fear was stronger even than hunger, till my
old Ilse spoke, and said, "I will go, for I fear nothing, when I
walk in the ways of God; only give me a good stick." When old
Paasch had lent her his staff, she began to sing, "God the Father
be with us," and soon out of sight among the bushes. Meanwhile I
exhorted the people to set to work directly, and to cut little
wands for syringes, and to gather berries while the moon still
shone; there were a great quantity of mountain-ash and
elder-bushes all about the mountain. I myself and my daughter Mary
stayed to guard the little children, because it was not safe there
from wolves. We therefore made a blazing fire, sat ourselves
around it, and heard the little folks say the Ten Commandments,
when there was a rustling and crackling behind us, and my daughter
jumped up and ran into the cavern, crying, "_Proh dolor
hostis!_" [Our author afterwards explains the learned education
of the maiden.] But it was only some of the able-bodied men who
had stayed behind in the village, and who now came to bring us
word how things stood there. I therefore called to her directly,
"_Emergas amici_," whereupon she came skipping joyously out,
and sat down again by the fire, and forthwith my warden Hinrich
Seden related all that had happened, and how his life had only
been saved by means of his wife Lizzie Kolken; but that Jurgen
Flatow, Chim Burse, Claus Peer, and Chim Seideritz were killed,
and the last named of them left lying on the church steps. The
wicked incendiaries had burned down twelve sheds, and it was not
their fault that the whole village was not destroyed, but only in
consequence of the wind not being in the quarter that suited their
purpose. Meanwhile they tolled the bells in mockery and scorn, to
see whether any one would come and quench the fire; and that when
he and the three other young fellows came forward they fired off
their muskets at them, but, by God's help, none of them were hit.
Hereupon his three comrades jumped over the paling and escaped;
but him they caught, and had already taken aim at him with their
firelocks, when his wife Lizzie Kolken came out of the church with
another troop and beckoned to them to leave him in peace. But they
stabbed Lene Hebers as she lay in childbed, speared the child, and
flung it over Claus Peer's hedge among the nettles, where it was
yet lying when they came away. There was not a living soul left in
the village, and still less a morsel of bread, so that unless the
Lord took pity on their need they must all die miserably of
hunger.

(Now who is to believe that such people can call themselves
Christians?)

I next inquired, when he had done speaking (but with many sighs,
as any one may guess), after my cottage; but of that they knew
naught save that it was still standing. I thanked the Lord
therefore with a quiet sigh; and having asked old Seden what his
wife had been doing in the church, I thought I should have died
for grief when I heard that the villains came out of it with both
the chalices and patens in their hands. I therefore spoke very
sharply to old Lizzie, who now came slinking through the bushes;
but she answered insolently, that the strange soldiers had forced
her to open the church, as her goodman had crept behind the hedge,
and nobody else was there; that they had gone straight up to the
altar, and seeing that one of the stones was not well fitted
(which, truly, was an arch lie), had begun to dig with their
swords till they found the chalices and patens; or somebody else
might have betrayed the spot to them, so I need not always to lay
the blame on her, and rate her so hardly.

Meanwhile the old men and the women came with a good store of
berries; _item_, my old maid, with the cow's tail and mane,
who brought word that the whole house was turned upside down, the
windows all broken, and the books and writings trampled in the
dirt in the midst of the street, and the doors torn off their
hinges. This, however, was a less sorrow to me than the chalices;
and I only bade the people make springes and snares, in order next
morning to begin our fowling, with the help of Almighty God. I
therefore scraped the rods myself until near midnight; and when we
had made ready a good quantity, I told old Seden to repeat the
evening blessing, which we all heard on our knees; after which I
wound up with a prayer, and then admonished the people to creep in
under the bushes to keep them from the cold (seeing that it was
now about the end of September, and the wind blew very fresh from
the sea), the men apart, and the women also apart by themselves. I
myself went up with my daughter and my maid into the cavern, where
I had not slept long before I heard old Seden moaning bitterly,
because, as he said, he was seized with the colic. I therefore got
up and gave him my place, and sat down again by the fire to cut
springes, till I fell asleep for half-an-hour; and then morning
broke, and by that time he had got better, and I woke the people
to morning prayer. This time old Paasch had to say it, but could
not get through with it properly, so that I had to help him.
Whether he had forgot it, or whether he was frightened, I cannot
say. _Summa_.--After we had all prayed most devoutly, we
presently set to work, wedging the springes into the trees, and
hanging berries all around them; while my daughter took care of
the children, and looked for blackberries for their breakfast. Now
we wedged the snares right across the wood along the road to
Uekeritze; and mark what a wondrous act of mercy befell from
gracious God! As I stepped into the road with the hatchet in my
hand (it was Seden his hatchet, which he had fetched out of the
village early in the morning), I caught sight of a loaf as long as
my arm which a raven was pecking, and which doubtless one of the
Imperial troopers had dropped out of his knapsack the day before,
for there were fresh hoof-marks in the sand by it. So I secretly
buttoned the breast of my coat over it, so that none should
perceive anything, although the aforesaid Paasch was close behind
me; _item_, all the rest followed at no great distance. Now,
having set the springes so very early, towards noon we found such
a great number of birds taken in them, that Katy Berow, who went
beside me while I took them out, scarce could hold them all in her
apron; and at the other end old Pagels pulled nearly as many out
of his doublet and coat-pockets. My daughter then sat down with
the rest of the womankind to pluck the birds; and as there was no
salt (indeed it was long since most of us had tasted any), she
desired two men to go down to the sea, and to fetch a little salt
water in an iron pot borrowed from Staffer Zuter; and so they did.
In this water we first dipped the birds, and then roasted them at
a large fire, while our mouths watered only at the sweet savour of
them, seeing it was so long since we had tasted any food.

And now when all was ready, and the people seated on the earth, I
said, "Behold how the Lord still feeds His people Israel in the
wilderness with fresh quails: if now He did yet more, and sent us
a piece of manna bread from heaven, what think ye? Would ye then
ever weary of believing in Him, and not rather willingly endure
all want, tribulation, hunger and thirst, which He may hereafter
lay upon you according to His gracious will?" Whereupon they all
answered and said, "Yea, surely!" _Ego_: "Will you then
promise me this in truth?" And they said again, "Yea, that will
we!" Then with tears I drew forth the loaf from my breast, held it
on high, and cried, "Behold then, thou poor believing little
flock, how sweet a manna loaf your faithful Redeemer hath sent ye
through me!" Whereupon they all wept, sobbed and groaned; and the
little children again came running up and held out their hands,
crying, "See, bread, bread!" But as I myself could not pray for
heaviness of soul, I bade Paasch his little girl say the
_Gratias_ the while my Mary cut up the loaf and gave to each
his share. And now we all joyfully began to eat our meat from God
in the wilderness.

Meanwhile I had to tell in what manner I had found the blessed
manna bread, wherein I neglected not again to exhort them to lay
to heart this great sign and wonder, how that God in His mercy had
done to them as of old to the prophet Elijah, to whom a raven
brought bread in his great need in the wilderness; as likewise
this bread had been given to me by means of a raven, which showed
it to me, when otherwise I might have passed it by in my heaviness
without ever seeing it.

When we were satisfied with food, I said the thanksgiving from
Luke xii. 24, where the Lord saith, "Consider the ravens: for they
neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and
God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?" But
our sins stank before the Lord. For old Lizzie, as I afterwards
heard, would not eat her birds because she thought them unsavoury,
but threw them among the juniper bushes; whereupon the wrath of
the Lord was kindled against us as of old against the people of
Israel, and at night we found but seven birds in the snares, and
next morning but two. Neither did any raven come again to give us
bread. Wherefore I rebuked old Lizzie, and admonished the people
to take upon themselves willingly the righteous chastisement of
the Most High God, to pray without ceasing, to return to their
desolate dwellings, and to see whether the all-merciful God would
peradventure give them more on the sea. That I also would call
upon Him with prayer night and day, remaining for a time in the
cavern with my daughter and the maid to watch the springes, and
see whether His wrath might be turned from us. That they should,
meanwhile put my manse to rights to the best of their power,
seeing that the cold was become very irksome to me. This they
promised me, and departed with many sighs. What a little flock! I
counted but twenty-five souls where there used to be above eighty;
all the rest had been slain by hunger, pestilence, or the sword.
[Footnote: This took place in the year 1628, and the horrors of
the Thirty Years' War were spread most fearfully over this island;
pity that the description of the old vicar, which he doubtless
gave in the preceding pages, has been lost.] I then abode awhile
alone and sorrowing in the cave, praying to God, and sent my
daughter with the maid into the village to see how things stood at
the manse; _item_, to gather together the books and papers,
and also to bring me word whether Hinze the carpenter, whom I had
straightway sent back to the village, had knocked together some
coffins for the poor corpses, so that I might bury them next day.
I then went to look at the springes, but found only one single
little bird, whereby I saw that the wrath of God had not yet
passed away. Howbeit, I found a fine blackberry bush, from which I
gathered nearly a pint of berries, and put them, together with the
bird, in Staffer Zuter his pot, which the honest fellow had left
with us for a while, and set them on the fire for supper against
my child and the maid should return. It was not long before they
came through the coppice, and told me of the fearful devastation
which Satan had made in the village and manse by the permission of
all-righteous God. My child had gathered together a few books,
which she brought with her, above all, a _Virgilius_ and a
Greek Bible. And after she had told me that the carpenter would
not have done till next day, and we had satisfied the cravings of
hunger, I made her read to me again, for the greater strengthening
of my faith, the _locus_ about the blessed raven from the
Greek of Luke, at the twelfth chapter; also, the beautiful
_locus parallelus_, Matt. vi. After which the maid said the
evening blessing, and we all went into the cave to rest for the
night. When I awoke next morning, just as the blessed sun rose out
the sea and peeped over the mountain, I heard my poor hungry
child, already standing outside the cave, reciting the beautiful
verses about the joys of paradise which St. Augustine wrote and I
had taught her. [Footnote: This is an error. The following verses
are written by the Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, Peter Damianus (d.
23d Feb. 1072), after Augustine's prose.] She sobbed for grief as
she spoke the words:--

"Uno pane vivunt cives utriusque patri
Avidi et semper pleni, quod habent desiderant
Non _sacietas_ fastidit, neque fames cruciat
Inhiantes semper edunt, et edentes inhiant
Flos perpetuus rosarum ver agit perpetuum,
Candent lilia, rubescit crocus, sudat balsamum,
Virent prata, vernant sata, rivi mellis influunt
Pigmentorum spirat odor liquor et aromatum,
Pendent poma floridorum non lapsura nemorum
Non alternat luna vices, sol vel cursus syderum
Agnus est fcelicis urbis lumen inocciduum."

[Footnote: The following version is from the pen of a
friend.--_Trans_.

"In that far land the citizens all share one equal bread,
And keep desire and hunger still, although to fulness fed:
Unwearied by satiety, unracked by hunger's strife,
The air they breathe is nourishment, and spiritual life!
Around them, bright with endless Spring, perpetual roses bloom;
Warm balsams gratefully exude luxurious perfume;
Red crocuses, and lilies white, shine dazzling in the sun;
Green meadows yield them harvests green, and streams with honey
run;
Unbroken droop the laden boughs, with heavy fruitage bent,
Of incense and of odours strange the air is redolent;
And neither sun, nor moon, nor stars, dispense their changeful
light,
But the Lamb's eternal glory makes the happy city bright!"

At these words my own heart was melted; and when she ceased from
speaking, I asked, "What art thou doing, my child?" Whereupon she
answered, "Father, I am eating." Thereat my tears now indeed began
to flow, and I praised her for feeding her soul, as she had no
meat for her body. I had not, however, spoken long, before she
cried to me to come and look at the great wonder that had risen
out of the sea, and already appeared over the cave. For behold a
cloud, in shape just like a cross, came over us, and let great
heavy drops, as big or bigger than large peas, fall on our heads,
after which it sank behind the coppice. I presently arose, and ran
up the mountain with my daughter to look after it. It floated on
towards the Achterwater, [Footnote: A wash formed by the river
Peene in the neighbourhood.] where it spread itself out into a
long blue streak, whereon the sun shone so brightly that it seemed
like a golden bridge, on which, as my child said, the blessed
angels danced. I fell on my knees with her, and thanked the Lord
that our cross had passed away from us; but, alas! our cross was
yet to come, as will be told hereafter.

CHAPTER VIII.

_How our need waxed sorer and sorer, and how I sent old Ilse
with another letter to Pudgla, and how heavy a misfortune this
brought upon me_.

Next day, when I had buried the poor corpses amid the lamentations
of the whole village (by the same token that they were all buried
under where the lime-tree overhangs the wall [Footnote: This
exists no longer.]), I heard with many sighs that neither the sea
nor the Achterwater would yield anything. It was now ten days
since the poor people had caught a single fish. I therefore went
out into the field, musing how the wrath of the just God might be
turned from us, seeing that the cruel winter was now at hand, and
neither corn, apples, fish nor flesh, to be found in the village,
nor even throughout all the parish. There was indeed plenty of
game in the forests of Coserow and Uekeritze; but the old forest
ranger, Zabel Nehring, had died last year of the plague, and there
was no new one in his place. Nor was there a musket nor a grain of
powder to be found in all the parish; the enemy had robbed and
broken everything: we were therefore forced, day after day, to see
how the stags and the roes, the hares and the wild boars, &c., ran
past us, when we would so gladly have had them in our bellies, but
had no means of getting at them: for they were too cunning to let
themselves be caught in pit-falls. Nevertheless, Claus Peer
succeeded in trapping a roe, and gave me a piece of it, for which
may God reward him. _Item_, of domestic cattle there was not
a head left; neither was there a dog nor a cat, which the people
had not either eaten in their extreme hunger, or knocked on the
head, or drowned long since. Albeit old farmer Paasch still owned
two cows; _item_, an old man in Uekeritze was said to have
one little pig--this was all. Thus, then, nearly all the people
lived on blackberries and other wild fruits; the which also soon
grew to be scarce, as may easily be guessed. Besides all this, a
boy of fourteen was missing (old Labahn his son), and was never
more heard of, so that I shrewdly think that the wolves devoured
him.

And now let any Christian judge by his own heart in what sorrow
and heaviness I took my staff in my hand, seeing that my child
fell away like a shadow from pinching hunger; although I myself,
being old, did not, by the help of God's mercy, find any great
failing in my strength. While I thus went continually weeping
before the Lord, on the way to Uekeritze, I fell in with an old
beggar with his wallet, sitting on a stone, and eating a piece of
God's rare gift, to wit, a bit of bread. Then truly did my poor
mouth so fill with water, that I was forced to bow my head and let
it run upon the earth before I could ask, "Who art thou? and
whence comest thou, seeing that thou hast bread?" Whereupon he
answered that he was a poor man of Bannemin, from whom the enemy
had taken all; and as he had heard that the Lieper Winkel
[Footnote: A remote part of the island of Usedom.] had long been
in peace, he had travelled thither to beg. I straightway answered
him, "Oh, poor beggar man, spare to me, a sorrowful servant of
Christ, who is poorer even than thyself, one little slice of bread
for his wretched child; for thou must know that I am the pastor of
this village, and that my daughter is dying of hunger. I beseech
thee, by the living God, not to let me depart without taking pity
on me, as pity also hath been shown to thee!" But the beggar man
would give me none, saying that he himself had a wife and four
children, who were likewise staggering towards death's door under
the bitter pangs of hunger; that the famine was sorer far in
Bannemin than here, where we still had berries; whether I had not
heard that but a few days ago a woman (he told me her name, but
horror made me forget it) had there killed her own child, and
devoured it from hunger? [Footnote: Micraslius also mentions this
horrible event in his History of Pomerania.] That he could not
therefore help me, and I might go to the Lieper Winkel myself.

I was horror-stricken at his tale, as is easy to guess, for we in
our own trouble had not yet heard of it, there being little or no
traffic between one village and another; and thinking on
Jerusalem, [Footnote: Where, according to Josephus, the same thing
occurred.] and sheer despairing because the Lord had visited us,
as of old that ungodly city, although we had not betrayed or
crucified Him, I almost forgot all my necessities, and took my
staff in my hand to depart. But I had not gone more than a few
yards when the beggar called me to stop, and when I turned myself
round he came towards me with a good hunch of bread which he had
taken out of his wallet, and said, "There! but pray for me also,
so that I may reach my home; for if on the road they smell that I
have bread, my own brother would strike me dead, I believe." This
I promised with joy, and instantly turned back to take to my child
the gift hidden in my pocket. And behold, when I came to the road
which leads to Loddin, I could scarce trust my eyes (before I had
overlooked it in my distress) when I saw my glebe, which could
produce seven bushels, ploughed, sown, and in stalk; the blessed
crop of rye had already shot lustily out of the earth a finger's
length in height. I could not choose but think that the evil one
had deceived me with a false show, yet, however hard I rubbed my
eyes, rye it was, and rye it remained. And seeing that old Paasch
his piece of land which joined mine was in like manner sown, and
that the blades had shot up to the same height, I soon guessed
that the good fellow had done this deed, seeing that all the other
land lay waste. Wherefore, I readily forgave him for not knowing
the morning prayer; and thanking the Lord for so much love from my
flock, and earnestly beseeching Him to grant me strength and faith
to bear with them, steadfastly and patiently, all the troubles and
adversities which it might please Him henceforward to lay upon us,
according to His divine pleasure, I ran rather than walked back
into the village to old Paasch his farm, where I found him just
about to kill his cow, which he was slaughtering from grim hunger.
"God bless thee," said I, "worthy friend, for sowing my field, how
shall I reward thee?" But the old man answered, "Let that be, and
do you pray for us;" and when I gladly promised this, and asked
him how he had kept his corn safe from the savage enemy, he told
me that he had hidden it secretly in the caves of the
Streckelberg, but that now all his store was used up. Meanwhile he
cut a fine large piece of meat from the top of the loin, and said,
"There is something for you, and when that is gone you can come
again for more." As I was then about to go with many thanks, his
little Mary, a child nearly seven years old, the same who had said
the _Gratlas_ on the Streckelberg, seized me by the hand, and
wanted to go to school to my daughter; for since my _Custos_,
as above mentioned, departed this life in the plague, she had to
teach the few little ones there were in the village; this,
however, had long been abandoned. I could not, therefore, deny
her, although I feared that my child would share her bread with
her, seeing that she dearly loved the little maid, who was her
godchild; and so indeed it happened; for when the child saw me
take out the bread, she shrieked for joy, and began to scramble up
on the bench. Thus she also got a piece of the slice, our maid got
another, and my child put the third piece into her own mouth, as I
wished for none, but said that I felt no signs of hunger, and
would wait until the meat was boiled, the which I now threw upon
the bench. It was a goodly sight to see the joy which my poor
child felt, when I then also told her about the rye. She fell upon
my neck, wept, sobbed, then took the little one up in her arms,
danced about the room with her, and recited, as she was wont, all
manner of Latin _versus_, which she knew by heart. Then she
would prepare a right good supper for us, as a little salt was
still left in the bottom of a barrel of meat which the
Imperialists had broken up. I let her take her own way, and having
scraped some soot from the chimney and mixed it with water, I tore
a blank leaf out of _Virgillus_, and wrote to the _Pastor
Liepensts_, his reverence Abraham Tiburtius, praying that for
God His sake he would take our necessities to heart, and would
exhort his parishioners to save us from dying of grim hunger, and
charitably to spare to us some meat and drink, according as the
all-merciful God had still left some to them, seeing that a beggar
had told me that they had long been in peace from the terrible
enemy. I knew not, however, wherewithal to seal the letter, until
I found in the church a little wax still sticking to a wooden
altar-candlestick, which the Imperialists had not thought it worth
their while to steal, for they had only taken the brass ones. I
sent three fellows in a boat with Hinrich Seden, the churchwarden,
with this letter to Liepe.

First, however, I asked my old Ilse, who was born in Liepe,
whether she would not rather return home, seeing how matters
stood, and that I, for the present at least, could not give her a
stiver of her wages (mark that she had already saved up a small
sum, seeing that she had lived in my service above twenty years,
but the soldiers had taken it all). Howbeit, I could nowise
persuade her to this, but she wept bitterly, and besought me only
to let her stay with the good damsel whom she had rocked in her
cradle. She would cheerfully hunger with us if it needs must be,
so that she were not turned away. Whereupon, I yielded to her, and
the others went alone.

Meanwhile the broth was ready, but scarce had we said the
_Gratias_, and were about to begin our meal, when all the
children of the village, seven in number, came to the door, and
wanted bread, as they had heard we had some from my daughter her
little godchild. Her heart again melted, and notwithstanding I
besought her to harden herself against them, she comforted me with
the message to Liepe, and poured out for each child a portion of
broth on a wooden platter (for these also had been despised by the
enemy), and put into their little hands a bit of meat, so that all
our store was eaten up at once. We were, therefore, left fasting
next morning, till towards midday, when the whole village gathered
together in a meadow on the banks of the river to see the boat
return. But, God be merciful to us, we had cherished vain hopes!
six loaves and a sheep, _item_, a quarter of apples, was all
they had brought. His reverence Abraham Tiburtius wrote to me that
after the cry of their wealth had spread throughout the island, so
many beggars had flocked thither that it was impossible to be just
to all, seeing that they themselves did not know how it might fare
with them in these heavy troublous times. Meanwhile he would see
whether he could raise any more. I therefore with many sighs had
the small pittance carried to the manse, and though two loaves
were, as _Pastor Liepensis_ said in his letter, for me alone,
I gave them up to be shared among all alike, whereat all were
content save Seden his squint-eyed wife, who would have had
somewhat extra on the score of her husband's journey, which,
however, as may be easily guessed, she did not get; wherefore she
again muttered certain words between her teeth as she went away,
which, however, no one understood. Truly she was an ill woman, and
not to be moved by the Word of God.

Any one may judge for himself that such a store could not last
long; and as all my parishioners felt an ardent longing after
spiritual food, and as I and the churchwardens could only get
together about sixteen farthings in the whole parish, which was
not enough to buy bread and wine, the thought struck me once more
to inform my lord the sheriff of our need. With how heavy a heart
I did this may be easily guessed, but necessity knows no law. I
therefore tore the last blank leaf out of _Virgilius_, and
begged that, for the sake of the Holy Trinity, his lordship would
mercifully consider mine own distress and that of the whole
parish, and bestow a little money to enable me to administer the
Holy Sacrament for the comfort of afflicted souls; also, if
possible, to buy a cup, were it only of tin, since the enemy had
plundered us of ours, and I should otherwise be forced to
consecrate the sacred elements in an earthen vessel. _Item_,
I besought him to have pity on our bodily wants, and at last to
send me the first-fruits which had stood over for so many years.
That I did not want it for myself alone, but would willingly share
it with my parishioners, until such time as God in His mercy
should give us more.

Here a huge blot fell upon my paper; for the windows being boarded
up, the room was dark, and but little light came through two small
panes of glass, which I had broken out of the church, and stuck in
between the boards: this, perhaps, was the reason why I did not
see better. However, as I could not anywhere get another piece of
paper, I let it pass, and ordered the maid, whom I sent with the
letter to Pudgla, to excuse the same to his lordship the sheriff,
the which she promised to do; seeing that I could not add a word
more on the paper, as it was written all over. I then sealed it as
I had done before.

But the poor creature came back trembling for fear, and bitterly
weeping, and said that his lordship had kicked her out of the
castle-gate, and had threatened to set her in the stocks if she
ever came before him again. "Did the parson think that he was as
free with his money as I seemed to be with my ink? I surely had
water enough to celebrate the Lord's Supper wherewithal. For if
the Son of God had once changed the water into wine, He could
surely do the like again. If I had no cup, I might water my flock
out of a bucket, as he did himself;" with many more blasphemies,
such as he afterwards wrote to me, and by which, as may easily be
guessed, I was filled with horror. Touching the first-fruits, as
she told me, he said nothing at all. In such great spiritual and
bodily need the blessed Sunday came round, when nearly all the
congregation would have come to the Lord's table, but could not. I
therefore spoke on the words of St. Augustine, _crede et
manducasti_, and represented that the blame was not mine, and
truly told what had happened to my poor maid at Pudgla, passing
over much in silence, and only praying God to awaken the hearts of
magistrates for our good. Peradventure I may have spoken more
harshly than I meant. I know not; only that I spoke that which was
in my heart. At the end I made all the congregation stay on their
knees for nearly an hour, and call upon the Lord for His holy
Sacrament; _item_, for the relief of their bodily wants, as
had been done every Sunday, and at all the daily prayers I had
been used to read ever since the heavy time of the plague. Last of
all, I led the glorious hymn, "When in greatest need we be," which
was no sooner finished than my new churchwarden, Claus Bulk of
Uekeritze, who had formerly been a groom with his lordship, and
whom he had now put into a farm, ran off to Pudgla, and told him
all that had taken place in the church. Whereat his lordship was
greatly angered, insomuch that he summoned the whole parish, which
still numbered about 150 souls, without counting the children, and
dictated _ad protocollum_ whatsoever they could remember of
the sermon, seeing that he meant to inform his princely Grace the
Duke of Pomerania of the blasphemous lies which I had vomited
against him, and which must sorely offend every Christian heart.
_Item_, what an avaricious wretch I must be to be always
wanting something of him, and to be daily, so to say, pestering
him in these hard times with my filthy letters, when he had not
enough to eat himself. This, he said, should break the parson his
neck, since his princely Grace did all that he asked of him; and
that no one in the parish need give me anything more, but only let
me go my ways. He would soon take care that they should have quite
a different sort of parson from what I was.

(Now I would like to see the man who could make up his mind to
come into the midst of such wretchedness at all.)

This news was brought to me in the self-same night, and gave me a
great fright, as I now saw that I should not have a gracious
master in his lordship, but should all the time of my miserable
life, even if I could anyhow support it, find in him an ungracious
lord. But I soon felt some comfort, when Chim Krger, from
Uekeritze, who brought me the news, took a little bit of his
sucking-pig out of his pocket and gave it to me. Meanwhile old
Paasch came in and said the same, and likewise brought me a piece
of his old cow; _item_, my other warden, Hinrich Seden, with
a slice of bread, and a fish which he had taken in his net; all
saying they wished for no better priest than me, and that I was
only to pray to the merciful Lord to bestow more upon them,
whereupon I should want for nothing. Meanwhile I must be quiet,
and not betray them. All this I promised; and my daughter Mary
took the blessed gifts of God off the table and carried them into
the inner chamber. But, alas! next morning, when she would have
put the meat into the cauldron, it was all gone. I know not who
prepared this new sorrow for me, but much believe it was Hinrich
Seden his wicked wife, seeing he can never hold his tongue, and
most likely told her everything. Moreover, Paasch his little
daughter saw that she had meat in her pot next day; _item_,
that she had quarrelled with her husband, and had flung the
fish-board at him, whereon some fresh fish-scales were sticking:
she had, however, presently recollected herself when she saw the
child. (Shame on thee, thou old witch, it is true enough, I dare
say!) Hereupon naught was left us but to feed our poor souls with
the Word of God. But even our souls were so cast down that they
could receive naught, any more than our bellies; my poor child,
especially, from day to day grew paler, greyer, and yellower, and
always threw up all her food, seeing she ate it without salt or
bread. I had long wondered that the bread from Liepe was not yet
done, but that every day at dinner I still had a morsel. I had
often asked, "Whence comes all this blessed bread? I believe,
after all, you save the whole for me, and take none for yourself
or the maid." But they both then lifted to their mouths a piece of
fir-tree bark, which they had cut to look like bread, and laid by
their plates; and as the room was dark, I did not find out their
deceit, but thought that they too were eating bread. But at last
the maid told me of it, so that I should allow it no longer, as my
daughter would not listen to her. It is not hard to guess how my
heart was wrung when I saw my poor child lying on her bed of moss
struggling with grim hunger. But things were to go yet harder with
me, for the Lord in His anger would break me in pieces like a
potter's vessel. For behold, on the evening of the same day, old
Paasch came running to me, complaining that all his and my corn in
the field had been pulled up and miserably destroyed, and that it
must have been done by Satan himself, as there was not a trace
either of oxen or horses. At these words my poor child screamed
aloud and fainted. I would have run to help her, but could not
reach her bed, and fell on the ground myself for bitter grief. The
loud cries of the maid and old Paasch soon brought us both to our
senses. But I could not rise from the ground alone, for the Lord
had bruised all my bones. I besought them, therefore, when they
would have helped me, to leave me where I was; and when they would
not, I cried out that I must again fall on the ground to pray, and
begged them all save my daughter to depart out of the room. This
they did, but the prayer would not come. I fell into heavy
doubting and despair, and murmured against the Lord that He
plagued me more sorely than Lazarus or Job. Wretch that I was, I
cried, "Thou didst leave to Lazarus at least the crumbs and the
pitiful dogs, but to me Thou hast left nothing, and I myself am
less in Thy sight even than a dog; and Job Thou didst not afflict
until Thou hadst mercifully taken away his children, but to me
Thou hast left my poor little daughter, that her torments may
increase mine own a thousandfold. Behold, then, I can only pray
that Thou wilt take her from the earth, so that my grey head may
gladly follow her to the grave! Woe is me, ruthless father, what
have I done? I have eaten bread, and suffered my child to hunger!
O Lord Jesu, who hast said, 'What man is there of you, whom if his
son ask bread will he give him a stone?' Behold, I am that
man!--behold, I am that ruthless father! I have eaten bread, and
have given wood to my child! Punish me; I will bear it and lie
still. O righteous Jesu, I have eaten bread, and have given wood
to my child!" As I did not speak, but rather shrieked these words,
wringing my hands the while, my child fell upon my neck, sobbing,
and chide me for murmuring against the Lord, seeing that even she,
a weak and frail woman, had never doubted His mercy; so that with
shame and repentance I presently came to myself, and humbled
myself before the Lord for such heavy sin.

Meanwhile the maid had run into the village with loud cries to see
if she could get anything for her poor young mistress, but the
people had already eaten their noontide meal, and most of them
were gone to sea to seek their blessed supper; thus she could find
nothing, seeing that old wife Seden, who alone had any victuals,
would give her none, although she prayed her by Jesu's wounds.

She was telling us this when we heard a noise in the chamber, and
presently Lizzie her worthy old husband, who had got in at the
window by stealth, brought us a pot of good broth, which he had
taken off the fire whilst his wife was gone for a moment into the
garden. He well knew that his wife would make him pay for it, but
that he did not mind, so the young mistress would but drink it,
and she would find it salted and all. He would make haste out of
the window again, and see that he got home before his wife, that
she might not find out where he had been. But my daughter would
not touch the broth, which sorely vexed him, so that he set it
down on the ground cursing, and ran out of the room. It was not
long before his squint-eyed wife came in at the front door, and
when she saw the pot still steaming on the ground, she cried out,
"Thou thief, thou cursed thieving carcass!" and would have flown
at the face of my maid. But I threatened her, and told her all
that had happened, and that if she would not believe me, she might
go into the chamber and look out of the window, whence she might
still, belike, see her goodman running home. This she did, and
presently we heard her calling after him, "Wait, and the devil
shall tear off thine arms, only wait till thou art home again!"
After this she came back, and, muttering something, took the pot
off the ground. I begged her, for the love of God, to spare a
little to my child; but she mocked at me and said, "You can preach
to her, as you did to me," and walked towards the door with the
pot. My child indeed besought me to let her go, but I could not
help calling after her, "For the love of God, one good sup, or my
poor child must give up the ghost: wilt thou that at the day of
judgment God should have mercy on thee, so show mercy this day to
me and mine!" But she scoffed at us again, and cried out, "Let her
cook herself some bacon," and went out at the door. I then sent
the maid after her with the hour-glass which stood before me on
the table, to offer it to her for a good sup out of the pot; but
the maid brought it back, saying that she would not have it. Alas,
how I wept and sobbed, as my poor dying child with a loud sigh
buried her head again in the moss! Yet the merciful God was more
gracious to me than my unbelief had deserved; for when the
hard-hearted woman bestowed a little broth on her neighbour, old
Paasch, he presently brought it to my child, having heard from the
maid how it stood with her; and I believe that this broth, under
God, alone saved her life, for she raised her head as soon as she
had supped it, and was able to go about the house again in an
hour. May God reward the good fellow for it! Thus I had some joy
in the midst of my trouble. But while I sat by the fireside in the
evening musing on my fate, my grief again broke forth, and I made
up my mind to leave my house, and even my cure, and to wander
through the wide world with my daughter as a beggar. God knows I
had cause enough for it; for now that all my hopes were dashed,
seeing that my field was quite ruined, and that the sheriff had
become my bitter enemy, moreover that it was five years since I
had had a wedding, _item_, but two christenings during the
past year, I saw my own and my daughter's death staring me in the
face, and no prospect of better times at hand. Our want was
increased by the great fears of the congregation; for although by
God's wondrous mercy they had already begun to take good draughts
of fish both in the sea and the Achterwater, and many of the
people in the other villages had already gotten bread, salt,
oatmeal, &c., from the Pokers and Quatzners of Anklam and Lassan
[Footnote: These people still go about the Achterwater every day
in small boats called Polten and Quatzen, and buy from the boors
any fish they may have caught.] in exchange for their fish;
nevertheless, they brought me nothing, fearing lest it might be
told at Pudgla, and make his lordship ungracious to them. I
therefore beckoned my daughter to me, and told her what was in my
thoughts, saying that God, in His mercy, could any day bestow on
me another cure if I was found worthy in His sight of such a
favour, seeing that these terrible days of pestilence and war had
called away many of the servants of His Word, and that I had not
fled like a hireling from His flock, but, on the contrary, till
_datum_ shared sorrow and death with it. Whether she were
able to walk five or ten miles a day; for that then we would beg
our way to Hamburg, to my departed wife her stepbrother, Martin
Behring, who is a great merchant in that city.

This at first sounded strange to her, seeing that she had very
seldom been out of our parish, and that her departed mother and
her little brother lay in our churchyard. She asked, "Who was to
make up their graves and plant flowers on them? _Item_, as
the Lord had given her a smooth face, what I should do if in these
wild and cruel times she were attacked on the highways by
marauding soldiers or other villains, seeing that I was a weak old
man and unable to defend her; _item_, wherewithal should we
shield ourselves from the frost, as the winter was setting in, and
the enemy had robbed us of our clothes, so that we had scarce
enough left to cover our nakedness?" All this I had not
considered, and was forced to own that she was right; so after
much discussion we determined to leave it this night to the Lord,
and to do whatever He should put into our hearts next morning. At
any rate, we saw that we could in nowise keep the old maid any
longer; I therefore called her out of the kitchen, and told her
she had better go early next morning to Liepe, as there still was
food there, whereas here she must starve, seeing that perhaps we
ourselves might leave the parish and the country to-morrow. I
thanked her for the love and faith she had shown us, and begged
her at last, amid the loud sobs of my poor daughter, to depart
forthwith privately, and not to make our hearts still heavier by
leave-taking; that old Paasch was going a-fishing to-night on the
Achterwater, as he had told me, and no doubt would readily set her
on shore at Grussow, where she had friends, and could eat her fill
even to-day. She could not say a word for weeping, but when she
saw that I was really in earnest she went out of the room. Not
long after we heard the house-door shut to, whereupon my daughter
moaned, "She is gone already," and ran straight to the window to
look after her. "Yes," cried, she, as she saw her through the
little panes, "she is really gone;" and she wrung her hands and
would not be comforted. At last, however, she was quieted when I
spoke of the maid Hagar, whom Abraham had likewise cast off, but
on whom the Lord had nevertheless shown mercy in the wilderness;
and hereupon we commended ourselves to the Lord, and stretched
ourselves on our couches of moss.

CHAPTER IX.

_How the old maid-servant humbled me by her faith, and the Lord
yet blessed me His unworthy servant_.

"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His
holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His
benefits. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy
diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth
thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies" (Ps. ciii.).

Alas! wretched man that I am, how shall I understand all the
benefits and mercies which the Lord bestowed upon me the very next
day? I now wept for joy as of late I had done for sorrow; and my
child danced about the room like a young roe, and would not go to
bed, but only cry and dance, and between whiles repeat the 103rd
Psalm, then dance and cry again until morning broke. But as she
was still very weak, I rebuked her presumption, seeing that this
was tempting the Lord; and now mark what had happened.

After we had both woke in the morning with deep sighs, and called
upon the Lord to manifest to us, in our hearts, what we should do,
we still could not make up our minds. I therefore called to my
child, if she felt strong enough, to leave her bed and light a
fire in the stove herself, as our maid was gone; that we would
then consider the matter further. She accordingly got up, but came
back in an instant with cries of joy, because the maid had
privately stolen back into the house, and had already made a fire.
Hereupon I sent for her to my bedside, and wondered at her
disobedience, and asked what she now wanted here, but to torment
me and my daughter still more, and why she did not go yesterday
with old Paasch? But she lamented and wept so sore that she scarce
could speak, and I understood only thus much: that she had eaten
with us, and would likewise starve with us, for that she could
never part from her young mistress, whom she had known from her
cradle. Such faithful love moved me so, that I said almost with
tears, "But hast thou not heard that my daughter and I have
determined to wander as beggars about the country; where, then,
wilt thou remain?" To this she answered that neither would she
stay behind, seeing it was more fitting for her to beg than for
us; but that she could not yet see why I wished to go out into the
wide world; whether I had already forgotten that I had said, in my
induction sermon, that I would abide with my flock in affliction
and in death? That I should stay yet a little longer where I was,
and send her to Liepe, as she hoped to get something worth having
for us there, from her friends and others. These words, especially
those about my induction sermon, fell heavy on my conscience, and
I was ashamed of my want of faith, since, not my daughter only,
but yet more, even my maid, had stronger faith than I, who,
nevertheless, professed to be a servant of God's Word. I believed
that the Lord, to keep me, poor fearful hireling, and at the same
time to humble me, had awakened the spirit of this poor
maid-servant to prove me, as the maid in the palace of the
high-priest had also proved the fearful St. Peter. Wherefore I
turned my face towards the wall, like Hezekiah, and humbled myself
before the Lord; which scarce had I done before my child ran into
the room again with a cry of joy. For behold some Christian heart
had stolen quietly into the house in the night, and had laid in
the chamber two loaves, a good piece of meat, a bag of oatmeal,
_item_, a bag of salt, holding near a pint. Any one may guess
what shouts of joy we all raised. Neither was I ashamed to confess
my sins before my maid; and in our common morning prayer, which we
said on our knees, I made fresh vows to the Lord of obedience and
faith. Thus we had that morning a grand breakfast, and sent
something to old Paasch besides; _item_, my daughter again
sent for all the little children to come, and kindly fed them with
our store, before they said their tasks; and when in my heart of
little faith I sighed thereat, although I said naught, she smiled,
and said, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the
morrow shall take thought for the things of itself." [Footnote:
Matt. vi. 34.]

The Holy Ghost spoke by her, as I cannot but believe, nor thou
either, beloved reader: for, mark what happened. In the afternoon,
she (I mean my child) went up the Streckelberg to seek for
blackberries, as old Paasch had told her through the maid that a
few bushes were still left. The maid was chopping wood in the
yard, to which end she had borrowed old Paasch his axe, for the
Imperialist thieves had thrown away mine, so that it could nowhere
be found; and I myself was pacing up and down in the room,
meditating my sermon; when my child, with her apron full, came
quickly in at the door, quite red and with beaming eyes, and
scarce able for joy to say more than "Father, father, what have I
got?" "Well," quoth I, "what hast thou got, my child?" Whereupon
she opened her apron, and I scarce trusted my eyes when I saw,
instead of the blackberries which she had gone to seek, two
shining pieces of amber, each nearly as big as a man's head, not
to mention the small pieces, some of which were as large as my
hand, and that, God knows, is no small one. "Child of my heart,"
cried I, "how cam'st thou by this blessing from God?" As soon as
she could fetch her breath, she told me as follows:

That while she was seeking for blackberries in a dell near the
shore, she saw somewhat glistening in the sun, and on coming near,
she found this wondrous godsend, seeing that the wind had blown
the sand away from off a black vein of amber. [Footnote: This
happens frequently even now, and has occurred to the editor
himself. The small dark vein held indeed a few pieces of amber,
mixed with charcoal, a sure proof of its vegetable origin, of
which we may observe in passing there is now scarce any doubt,
since whole trees of amber have been found in Prussia, and are
preserved in the museum at Konigsberg.] That she straightway had
broken off these pieces with a stick, and that there was plenty
more to be got, seeing that it rattled about under the stick when
she thrust it into the sand, neither could she force it farther
than, at most, a foot deep into the ground; _item_, she told
me that she had covered the place all over again with sand, and
swept it smooth with her apron so as to leave no traces.

Moreover, that no stranger was at all likely to go thither, seeing
that no blackberries grew very near, and she had gone to the spot,
moved by curiosity and a wish to look upon the sea, rather than
from any need; but that she could easily find the place again
herself, inasmuch as she had marked it with three little stones.
What was our first act after the all-merciful God had rescued us
out of such misery, nay, even as it seemed, endowed us with great
riches, any one may guess. When we at length got up off our knees
my child would straightway have run to tell the maid our joyful
news. But I forbade her, seeing that we could not be sure that the
maid might not tell it again to her friends, albeit in all other
things she was a faithful woman, and feared God; but that if she
did that, the sheriff would be sure to hear of it, and to seize
upon our treasure for his princely Highness the Duke, that is to
say, for himself; and that naught would be left to us but the
sight thereof, and our want would begin all over again; that we
therefore would say, when folks asked about the luck that had
befallen us, that my deceased brother, who was a councillor at
Rotterdam, had left us a good lump of money; and indeed it was
true that I had inherited near 200 florins from him a year ago,
which, however, the soldiery (as mentioned above) cruelly robbed
me of; _item_, that I would go to Wolgast myself next day,
and sell the little bits as best I might, saying that thou hadst
picked them up by the seaside; thou mayst tell the maid the same
if thou wilt, but show the larger pieces to no one, and I will
send them to thy uncle at Hamburg, to be turned into money for us;
perchance I may be able to sell one of them at Wolgast, if I find
occasion, so as to buy clothes enough for the winter, for thee and
for me, wherefore thou too mayst go with me. We will take the few
farthings which the congregation have brought together to pay the
ferry, and thou canst order the maid to wait for us till eventide
at the water-side to carry home the victuals. She agreed to all
this, but said we had better first break off some more amber, so
that we might get a good round sum for it at Hamburg; and I
thought so too, wherefore we stopped at home next day, seeing that
we did not want for food, and that my child, as well as myself,
both wished to refresh ourselves a little before we set out on our
journey; _item_, we likewise bethought us that old Master
Rothoog, of Loddin, who is a cabinet-maker, might knock together a
little box for us, to put the amber in, wherefore I sent the maid
to him in the afternoon. Meanwhile we ourselves went up the
Streckelberg, where I cut a young fir-tree with my pocket knife,
which I had saved from the enemy, and shaped it like a spade, so
that I might be better able to dig deep therewith. First, however,
we looked about us well on the mountain, and seeing nobody, my
daughter walked on to the place, which she straightway found
again. Great God! what a mass of amber, was there! The vein was
hard upon twenty feet long, as near as I could feel, and the depth
of it I could not sound. Nevertheless, save four good-sized
pieces, none, however, so big as those of yesterday, we this day
only broke out little splinters, such as the apothecaries bruise
for incense. After we had most carefully covered and smoothed over
the place, a great mishap was very near befalling us; for we met
Witthan her little girl, who was seeking blackberries, and she
asked what my daughter carried in her apron, who straightway grew
red, and stammered so that our secret would have been betrayed if
I had not presently said, "What is that to thee? she has got
fir-apples, for firing," which the child believed. Wherefore we
resolved in future only to go up the mountain at night by
moonlight, and we went home and got there before the maid, and hid
our treasure in the bedstead, so that she should not see it.

CHAPTER X.

_How we journeyed to Wolgast, and made good barter there._

Two days after, so says my daughter, but old Ilse thinks it was
three (and I myself know not which is true), we at last went to
the town, seeing that Master Rothoog had not got the box ready
before. My daughter covered it over with a piece of my departed
wife her wedding gown, which the Imperialists had indeed torn to
pieces, but as they had left it lying outside, the wind had blown
it into the orchard, where we found it. It was very shabby before,
otherwise I doubt not they would have carried it off with them. On
account of the box we took old Ilse with us, who had to carry it,
and as amber is very light ware, she readily believed that the box
held nothing but eatables. At daybreak, then, we took our staves
in our hands, and set out with God. Near Zitze, [Footnote: A
village half way between Coserow and Wolgast, now called
Zinnowitz.] a hare ran across the road before us, which they say
bodes no good. Well-a-day!--When we came near Bannemin I asked a
fellow if it was true that here a mother had slaughtered her own
child, from hunger, as I had heard. He said it was, and that the
old woman's name was Zisse; but that God had been wroth at such a
horrid deed, and she had got no good by it, seeing that she
vomited so much upon eating it that she forthwith gave up the
ghost. On the whole, he thought things were already going rather
better with the parish, as Almighty God had richly blessed them
with fish, both out of the sea and the Achterwater. Nevertheless a
great number of people had died of hunger here also. He told us
that their vicar, his reverence Johannes Lampius, [Footnote: The
present parish archives contain several short and incomplete
notices of his sufferings during these dreadful wars.] had had his
house burnt down by the Imperialists, and was lying in a hovel
near the church. I sent him my greeting, desiring that he would
soon come to visit me (which the fellow promised he would take
care to deliver to him), for the reverend Johannes is a pious and

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