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Sidonia The Sorceress V2 by William Mienhold

Part 8 out of 8

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MARIA S., captiva.

[Footnote: It is evidently written by a female hand, and probably
the original letter; there are, however, no traces of sealing-wax
or wax upon it, whence I infer that it was sent open, which, from
its being written in a foreign language, would have been perfectly
safe. I have purposely left the few grammatical errors it
contains, as the smallest alteration of this gem would appear to
me in the light of a treason against the character of this
incomparable woman.

Translation.

JESUS!

Unhappy Father!

I shall not to-morrow grow more pale at sight of the pile, nor
will the pile grow more red on receiving me, than I grew pale and
then red while reading thy letter. How? and hath Satan so tempted
thee, pious father, pious servant of the Lord, that thou hast made
common cause with mine enemies, and that thou understandest not
that in such life is death, and in such death is life? For if the
all-merciful God forgave Mary Magdalene and other sinners, He
forgave them because they repented of the weakness of their flesh,
and sinned not again. And shall I sin with so great abhorrence of
the flesh, and that not once but again and again without return
even until death? How could the all-merciful God forgive this to
the vilest of women? Unhappy father! remember what thou hast told
me of the holy martyrs, and of the virgins of the Lord, who all
lost their lives rather than lose their chastity. These will I
follow, hoping that my spouse Jesus Christ will also give to
wretched me a crown of eternal glory, although, indeed, I have not
less offended through the weakness of the flesh than Mary,
declaring myself to be guilty, whereas I am innocent. Be strong,
therefore, and pray for me unto God, and not unto the devil, so
that I may soon pray for thee before the face of God.

MARY S., a Prisoner.]

When the sheriff heard this he flung the pitcher which he held in
his hand to the ground, so that it flew in pieces, and cried, "The
cursed devil's whore! the constable shall make her squeak for this
a good hour longer;" with many more such things beside, which he
said in his malice, and which I have now forgotten; but he soon
became quite gracious again, and said, "She is foolish; do you go
to her and see whether you cannot persuade her to her own good as
well as yours; the huntsman shall let you in, and should the
fellow listen, give him a good box on the ears in my name; do you
hear, reverend Abraham? Go now forthwith and bring me back an
answer as quickly as possible!" I therefore followed the huntsman,
who led me into a vault where was no light save what fell through
a hole no bigger than a crown-piece; and here my daughter sat upon
her bed and wept. Any one may guess that I straightway began to
weep too, and was no better able to speak than she. We thus lay
mute in each other's arms for a long time, until I at last begged
her to forgive me for my letter, but of the sheriff his message I
said naught, although I had purposed so to do. But before long we
heard the sheriff himself call down into the vault from above,
"What (and here he gave me a heavy curse) are you doing there so
long? Come up this moment, reverend Johannes!" Thus I had scarce
time to give her one kiss before the huntsman came back with the
keys and forced us to part; albeit we had as yet scarcely spoken,
save that I had told her in a few words what had happened with old
Lizzie. It would be hard to believe into what grievous anger the
sheriff fell when I told him that my daughter remained firm and
would not hearken unto him; he struck me on the breast, and said,
"Go to the devil then, thou infamous parson!" and when I turned
myself away and would have gone, he pulled me back, and said, "If
thou breathest but one word of all that has passed, I will have
thee burnt too, thou grey-headed old father of a witch; so look to
it!" Hereupon I plucked up a heart, and answered that that would
be the greatest joy to me, especially if I could be burnt
to-morrow with my child. Hereunto he made no answer, but clapped
to the door behind me. Well, clap the door as thou wilt, I greatly
fear that the just God will one day clap the doors of heaven in
thy face!

CHAPTER XXVI,

_How I received the Holy Sacrament with my daughter and the old
maid-servant, and how she was then led for the last time before
the court, with the drawn sword and the outcry, to receive
sentence._

Now any one would think that during that heavy Tuesday night I
should not have been able to close mine eyes; but know, dear
reader, that the Lord can do more than we can ask or understand,
and that His mercy is new every morning. For toward daybreak I
fell asleep as quietly as though I had had no care upon my heart;
and when I awoke I was able to pray more heartily than I had done
for a long time; so that, in the midst of my tribulation, I wept
for joy at such great mercy from the Lord. But I prayed for naught
save that He would endow my child with strength and courage to
suffer the martyrdom He had laid upon her with Christian patience,
and to send His angel to me, woeful man, so to pierce my heart
with grief when I should see my child burn, that it might
straightway cease to beat, and I might presently follow her. And
thus I still prayed when the maid came in all dressed in black,
and with the silken raiment of my sweet lamb hanging over her arm;
and she told me, with many tears, that the dead-bell had already
tolled from the castle tower, for the first time, and that my
child had sent for her to dress her, seeing that the court was
already come from Usedom, and that in about two hours she was to
set out on her last journey. Moreover, she had sent her word that
she was to take her some blue and yellow flowers for a garland;
wherefore she asked me what flowers she should take; and seeing
that a jar, filled with fine lilies and forget-me-nots, stood in
my window, which she had placed there yesterday, I said, "Thou
canst gather no better flowers for her than these, wherefore do
thou carry them to her, and tell her that I will follow thee in
about half-an-hour, in order to receive the sacrament with her."
Hereupon the faithful old creature prayed me to suffer her to go
to the sacrament with us, the which I promised her. And scarce had
I dressed myself and put on my surplice when _Pastor
Benzensis_ came in at the door and fell upon my neck, weeping,
and as mute as a fish. As soon as he came to his speech again he
told me of the great _miraculum_ (_dmonis_ I mean)
which had befallen at the burial of old Lizzie. For that, just as
the bearers were about to lower the coffin into the grave, a noise
was heard therein as though of a carpenter boring through a deal
board; wherefore they thought the old hag must be come to life
again, and opened the coffin. But there she lay as before, all
black and blue in the face and as cold as ice; but her eyes had
started wide open, so that all were horror-stricken, and expected
some devilish apparition; and, indeed, a live rat presently jumped
out of the coffin and ran into a skull which lay beside the grave.
Thereupon they all ran away, seeing that old Lizzie had ever been
in evil repute as a witch. Howbeit at last he himself went near
the grave again, whereupon the rat disappeared, and all the others
took courage and followed him. This the man told me, and any one
may guess that this was in fact Satan, who had flown down the hag
her throat as an insect, whereas his proper shape was that of a
rat: albeit I wonder what he could so long have been about in the
carrion; unless indeed it were that the evil spirits are as fond
of all that is loathsome as the angels of God are of all that is
fair and lovely. Be that as it may. _Summa_: I was not a
little shocked at what he told me, and asked him what he now
thought of the sheriff? whereupon he shrugged his shoulders, and
said, that he had indeed been a wicked fellow as long as he could
remember him, and that it was full ten years since he had given
him any first-fruits; but that he did not believe that he was a
warlock, as old Lizzie had said. For although he had indeed never
been to the table of the Lord in his church, he had heard that he
often went, at Stettin, with his princely Highness the Duke, and
that the pastor at the castle church had shown him the entry in
his communion-book. Wherefore he likewise could not believe that
he had brought this misery upon my daughter, if she were innocent,
as the hag had said; besides, that my daughter had freely
confessed herself a witch. Hereupon I answered, that she had done
that for fear of the torture; but that she was not afraid of
death; whereupon I told him, with many sighs, how the sheriff had
yesterday tempted me, miserable and unfaithful servant, to evil,
insomuch that I had been willing to sell my only child to him and
to Satan, and was not worthy to receive the sacrament to-day.
Likewise how much more steadfast a faith my daughter had than I,
as he might see from her letter, which I still carried in my
pocket; herewith I gave it into his hand, and when he had read it,
he sighed as though he had been himself a father, and said, "Were
this true, I should sink into the earth for sorrow; but come,
brother, come, that I may prove her faith myself."

Hereupon we went up to the castle, and on our way we found the
greensward before the hunting-lodge, _item_, the whole space
in front of the castle, already crowded with people, who,
nevertheless, were quite quiet as we went by: we gave our names
again to the huntsman. (I have never been able to remember his
name, seeing that he was a Polak; he was not, however, the same
fellow who wooed my child, and whom the sheriff had therefore
turned off.) The man presently ushered us into a fine large room,
whither my child had been led when taken out of her prison. The
maid had already dressed her, and she looked lovely as an angel.
She wore the chain of gold with the effigy round her neck again,
_item_, the garland in her hair, and she smiled as we
entered, saying, "I am ready!" Whereat the reverend Martinus was
sorely angered and shocked, saying, "Ah, thou ungodly woman, let
no one tell me further of thine innocence! Thou art about to go to
the Holy Sacrament, and from thence to death, and thou flauntest
as a child of this world about to go to the dancing-room."
Whereupon she answered and said, "Be not wroth with me, dear
godfather, because that I would go into the presence of my good
King of Heaven in the same garments wherein I appeared some time
since before the good King of Sweden. For it strengthens my weak
and trembling flesh, seeing I hope that my righteous Saviour will
in like manner take me to His heart, and will also hang His effigy
upon my neck when I stretch out my hands to Him in all humility,
and recite my _carmen_, saying, 'O Lamb of God, innocently
slain upon the cross, give me Thy peace, O Jesu!'" These words
softened my dear gossip, and he spoke, saying, "Ah, child, child,
I thought to have reproached thee, but thou hast constrained me to
weep with thee: art thou then indeed innocent?" "Verily," said
she, "to you, my honoured god-father, I may now own that I am
innocent, as truly as I trust that God will aid me in my last hour
through Jesus Christ. Amen."

When the maid heard this, she made such outcries that I repented
that I had suffered her to be present, and we all had enough to do
to comfort her from the Word of God till she became somewhat more
tranquil; and when this was done my dear gossip thus spake to my
child: "If, indeed, thou dost so steadfastly maintain thine
innocence, it is my duty, according to my conscience as a priest,
to inform the worshipful court thereof;" and he was about to leave
the room. But she withheld him, and fell upon the ground and
clasped his knees, saying, "I beseech you, by the wounds of Jesus,
to be silent. They would stretch me on the rack again, and uncover
my nakedness, and I, wretched weak woman, would in such torture
confess all that they would have me, especially if my father again
be there, whereby both my soul and my body are tortured at once:
wherefore stay, I pray you, stay; is it then a misfortune to die
innocent, and is it not better to die innocent than guilty?"

My good gossip at last gave way, and after standing awhile and
praying to himself, he wiped away his tears, and then spake the
exhortation to confession, in the words of Isa. xliii. I, 2: "But
now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that
formed thee, O Israel, Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have
called thee by thy name: thou art Mine. When thou passest through
the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they
shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou
shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For
I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour."

And when he had ended this comfortable address, and asked her
whether she would willingly bear until her last hour that cross
which the most merciful God, according to His unsearchable will,
had laid upon her, she spake such beautiful words that my gossip
afterwards said he should not forget them so long as he should
live, seeing that he had never witnessed a bearing at once so full
of faith and joy, and withal so deeply sorrowful. She spake after
this manner: "Oh, holy cross, which my Jesus hath sanctified by
His innocent suffering; oh, dear cross, which is laid upon me by
the hand of a merciful Father; oh, blessed cross, whereby I am
made like unto my Lord Jesus, and am called unto eternal glory and
blessedness: how! shall I not willingly bear thee, thou sweet
cross of my bridegroom, of my brother?" The reverend Johannes had
scarce given us absolution, and after this, with many tears, the
Holy Sacrament, when we heard a loud trampling upon the floor, and
presently the impudent constable looked into the room and asked
whether we were ready, seeing that the worshipful court was now
waiting for us; and when he had been told that we were ready, my
child would have first taken leave of me, but I forbade her,
saying, "Not so; thou knowest that which thou hast promised me;
... 'and whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I
will lodge: ...where thou diest will I die ...'; [Footnote: Ruth
i. 16,] if that the Lord, as I hope, will hear the ardent sighs of
my poor soul." Hereupon she let me go, and embraced only the old
maid-servant, thanking her for all the kindness she had shown her
from her youth up, and begging her not to go with her to make her
death yet more bitter by her cries. The faithful old creature was
unable for a long time to say a word for tears. Howbeit at last
she begged forgiveness of my child, for that she had unwittingly
accused her, and said, that out of her wages she had bought five
pounds' weight of flax to hasten her death; that the shepherd of
Pudgla had that very morning taken it with him to Coserow, and
that she should wind it closely round her body; for that she had
seen how old wife Schurne, who was burnt in Liepe, had suffered
great torments before she came to her death, by reason of the damp
wood.

But ere my child could thank her for this, the dreadful outcry of
blood began in the judgment-chamber; for a voice cried as loudly
as might be, "Woe upon the accursed witch, Mary Schweidler,
because that she hath fallen off from the living God!" Then all
the folk without cried, "Woe upon the accursed witch!" When I
heard this I fell back against the wall, but my sweet child
stroked my cheeks with her darling hands, and said, "Father,
father, do but remember that the people likewise cried out against
the innocent Jesus, 'Crucify Him, crucify Him!' Shall not we then
drink of the cup which our heavenly Father hath prepared for us?"

Hereupon the door opened, and the constable walked in, amid a
great tumult among the people, holding a drawn sword in his hand
which he bowed thrice before my child and cried, "Woe upon the
accursed witch, Mary Schweidler, because that she hath fallen off
from the living God!" and all the folks in the hall and without
the castle cried as loud as they could, "Woe upon the accursed
witch!"

Hereupon he said, "Mary Schweidler, come before the high and
worshipful court, to hear sentence of death passed upon thee!"
Whereupon she followed him with us two miserable men (for
_Pastor Benzensis_ was no less cast down than myself). As for
the old maid-servant, she lay on the ground for dead.

After we had with great pains pushed our way through all the
people, the constable stood still before the open
judgment-chamber, and once more bowed his sword before my child,
and cried for the third time, "Woe upon the accursed witch, Mary
Schweidler, because that she hath fallen off from the living God!"
And all the people, as well as the cruel judges themselves, cried
as loud as they could, "Woe upon the accursed witch!"

When we had entered the room, _Dom. Consul_ first asked my
worthy gossip whether the witch had abode by her free avowal in
confession; whereupon, after considering a short time, he
answered, that he had best ask herself, for there she stood.
Accordingly, taking up a paper which lay before him on the table,
he spake as follows--"Mary Schweidler, now that thou hast
confessed, and received the holy and most honourable sacrament of
the Lord's Supper, answer me once again these following
questions:--

1. Is it true that thou hast fallen off from the living God and
given thyself up to Satan?

2. Is it true that thou hadst a spirit called _Disidmonia,_
who re-baptized thee and carnally knew thee?

3. Is it true that thou hast done all manner of mischief to the
cattle?

4. Is it true that Satan appeared to thee on the Streckelberg in
the likeness of a hairy giant?"

When she had with many sighs said "Yes" to all these questions, he
rose, took a wand in one hand and a second paper in the other, put
his spectacles on his nose, and said, "Now, then, hear thy
sentence." (This sentence I since copied: he would not let me see
the other _Acta_, but pretended that they were at Wolgast.
The sentence, however, was word for word as follows.)

"We, the sheriff and the justices appointed to serve the high and
worshipful criminal court. Inasmuch as Mary Schweidler, the
daughter of Abraham Schweidlerus, the pastor of Coserow, hath,
after the appointed inquisition, repeatedly made free confession,
that she hath a devil named _Disidmonia_, the which did
re-baptize her in the sea, and did also know her carnally;
_item_, that she by his help did mischief to the cattle; that
he also appeared to her on the Streckelberg in the likeness of a
hairy giant. We do therefore by these presents make known and
direct, that _Rea_ be first duly torn four times on each
breast with red-hot iron pincers, and after that be burned to
death by fire, as a rightful punishment to herself and a warning
to others. Nevertheless, we, in pity for her youth, are pleased of
our mercy to spare her the tearing with red-hot pincers, so that
she shall only suffer death by the simple punishment of fire.
Wherefore she is hereby condemned and judged accordingly on the
part of the criminal court.

"_Publicatum_ at the castle of Pudgla, the 30th day _mensis
Augusti, anno Salutis_ 1630." [Footnote: Readers who are
unacquainted with the atrocious administration of justice in those
days, will be surprised at this rapid and arbitrary mode of
proceeding. But I have seen authentic witch-trials wherein a mere
notary condemned the accused to the torture and to death without
the smallest hesitation; and it may be considered as a mark of
humanity whenever the acts on which judgment was given were sent
to an university, or to some other tribunal. For the sentence of
death appears to have been almost invariably passed by the
inferior courts, and no appeal seems to have been possible; indeed
in these affairs their worships, as in this case, usually made
incredible haste, which, it must beadmitted, is perhaps the only
good quality which the modern courts of justice might borrow from
the old ones.]

As he spake the last word he brake his wand in two and threw the
pieces before the feet of my innocent lamb, saying to the
constable, "Now, do your duty!" But so many folks, both men and
women, threw themselves on the ground to seize the pieces of the
wand (seeing they are said to be good for the gout in the joints,
item, for cattle when troubled with lice), that the constable fell
to the earth over a woman who was on her knees before him, and his
approaching death was thus foreshadowed to him by the righteous
God. Something of the same sort likewise befell the sheriff now
for the second time; for when the worshipful court rose, throwing
down tables, stools, and benches, a table, under which two boys
were fighting for the pieces of the wand, fell right upon his
foot, whereupon he flew into a violent rage, and threatened the
people with his fist, saying that they should have fifty right
good lashes apiece, both men and women, if they were not quiet
forthwith, and did not depart peaceably out of the room. This
frighted them, and after the people were gone out into the street,
the constable took a rope out of his pocket, wherewith he bound my
lamb her hands so tightly behind her back that she cried aloud;
but when she saw how this wrung my heart, she straightway
constrained herself and said, "O father, remember that it fared no
better with the blessed Saviour!" Howbeit, when my dear gossip,
who stood behind her, saw that her little hands, and more
especially her nails, had turned black and blue, he spoke for her
to the worshipful court, whereupon the abominable sheriff only
said, "Oh, let her be; let her feel what it is to fall off from
the living God." But _Dom. Consul_ was more merciful,
inasmuch as, after feeling the cords, he bade the constable bind
her hands less cruelly and slacken the rope a little, which
accordingly he was forced to do. But my dear gossip was not
content herewith, and begged that she might sit in the cart
without being bound, so that she should be able to hold her
hymn-book, for he had summoned the school to sing a hymn by the
way for her comfort, and he was ready to answer for it with his
own head that she should not escape out of the cart. Moreover, it
is the custom for fellows with pitchforks always to go with the
carts wherein condemned criminals, and more especially witches,
are carried to execution. But this the cruel sheriff would not
suffer, and the rope was left upon her hands, and the impudent
constable seized her by the arm and led her from the
judgment-chamber. But in the hall we saw a great _scandalum_,
which again pierced my very heart. For the housekeeper and the
impudent constable his wife were fighting for my child her bed,
and her linen, and wearing apparel, which the housekeeper had
taken for herself, and which the other woman wanted to have. The
latter now called to her husband to help her, whereupon he
straightway let go my daughter and struck the housekeeper on her
mouth with his fist, so that the blood ran out therefrom, and she
shrieked and wailed fearfully to the sheriff, who followed us with
the court. He threatened them both in vain, and said that when he
came back he would inquire into the matter and give to each her
due share. But they would not hearken to this, until my daughter
asked _Dom. Consul_ whether every dying person, even a
condemned criminal, had power to leave his goods and chattels to
whomsoever he would? And when he answered, "Yes, all but the
clothes, which belong of right to the executioner," she said,
"Well, then, the constable may take my clothes, but none shall
have my bed save my faithful old maid-servant Ilse!" Hereupon the
housekeeper began to curse and revile my child loudly, who heeded
her not, but stepped out at the door toward the cart, where there
stood so many people that naught could be seen save head against
head. The folks crowded about us so tumultuously that the sheriff,
who, meanwhile, had mounted his grey horse, constantly smote them
right and left across their eyes with his riding-whip, but they
nevertheless would scarce fall back. Howbeit, at length he cleared
the way, and when about ten fellows with long pitchforks, who for
the most part also had rapiers at their sides, had placed
themselves round about our cart, the constable lifted my daughter
up into it, and bound her fast to the rail. Old Paasch, who stood
by, lifted me up, and my dear gossip was likewise forced to be
lifted in, so weak had he become from all the distress. He
motioned his sexton, Master Krekow, to walk before the cart with
the school, and bade him from time to time lead a verse of the
goodly hymn, "On God alone I rest my fate," which he promised to
do. And here I will also note, that I myself sat down upon the
straw by my daughter, and that our dear confessor the reverend
Martinus sat backwards. The constable was perched up behind with
his drawn sword. When all this was done, _item_, the court
mounted up into another carriage, the sheriff gave the order to
set out.

CHAPTER XXVII.

_Of that which befell us by the way--Item, of the fearful death
of the sheriff at the mill._

We met with many wonders by the way, and with great sorrow; for
hard by the bridge, over the brook which runs into the Schmolle,
[Footnote: A lake near Pudgla.] stood the housekeeper her hateful
boy, who beat a drum and cried aloud, "Come to the roast goose!
come to the roast goose!" whereupon the crowd set up a loud laugh,
and called out after him, "Yes, indeed, to the roast goose! to the
roast goose!" Howbeit, when Master Krekow led the second verse the
folks became somewhat quieter again, and most of them joined in
singing it from their books, which they had brought with them. But
when he ceased singing awhile the noise began again as bad as
before. Some cried out, "The devil hath given her these clothes,
and hath adorned her after that fashion;" and seeing the sheriff
had ridden on before, they came close round the cart, and felt her
garments, more especially the women and young maidens. Others,
again, called loudly, as the young varlet had done, "Come to the
roast goose! come to the roast goose!" whereupon one fellow
answered, "She will not let herself be roasted yet; mind ye that:
she will quench the fire!" This, and much filthiness beside, which
I may not for very shame write down, we were forced to hear, and
it especially cut me to the heart to hear a fellow swear that he
would have some of her ashes, seeing he had not been able to get
any of the wand; and that naught was better for the fever and the
gout than the ashes of a witch. I motioned the _Custos_ to
begin singing again, whereupon the folks were once more quiet for
a while--_i.e._, for so long as the verse lasted; but
afterwards they rioted worse than before. But we were now come
among the meadows, and when my child saw the beauteous flowers
which grew along the sides of the ditches, she fell into deep
thought, and began again to recite aloud the sweet song of St.
Augustinus as follows:--

"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 porna noridorum non lapsura nemorum
Non alternat luna vices, sol vel cursus syderum
Agnus est foelicis urbis lumen inocciduum."

[Footnote:

"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!"]

By this _Casus_ we gained that all the folk ran cursing away
from the cart, and followed us at the distance of a good
musket-shot, thinking that my child was calling on Satan to help
her. Only one lad, of about five-and-twenty, whom, however, I did
not know, tarried a few paces behind the cart, until his father
came, and seeing he would not go away willingly, pushed him into
the ditch, so that he sank up to his loins in the water. Thereat
even my poor child smiled, and asked me whether I did not know any
more Latin hymns wherewith to keep the stupid and foul-mouthed
people still further from us. But, dear reader, how could I then
have been able to recite Latin hymns, even had I known any? But my
_Confrater_, the reverend Martinus, knew such an one; albeit,
it is indeed heretical; nevertheless, seeing that it above measure
pleased my child, and that she made him repeat to her sundry
verses thereof three and four times, until she could say them
after him, I said naught; otherwise I have ever been very severe
against aught that is heretical. Howbeit, I comforted myself
therewith that our Lord God would forgive her in consideration of
her ignorance. And the first line ran as follows:--_Dies ir,
dies ilia._ [Footnote: Day of wrath, that dreadful day; one of
the most beautiful of the Catholic hymns.] But these two verses
pleased her more than all the rest, and she recited them many
times with great edification, wherefore I will insert them here:--

"Judex ergo cum sedebit
Quidquid latet apparebit
Nil inultum remanebit:
_Item_,
Rex tremend majestatis
Qui salvandos salvas gratis
Salva me, fons pietatis!"

[Footnote:
"The judge ascends his awful throne,
He makes each secret sin be known,
And all with shame confess their own.

Thou mighty formidable king!
Thou mercy's unexhausted spring,
Some comfortable pity bring."--_Old Version._]

When the men with the pitchforks, who were round about the cart,
heard this, and at the same time saw a heavy storm coming up from
the Achterwater, [Footnote: A wash formed by the river Peene.]
they straightway thought no other but that my child had made it;
and, moreover, the folk behind cried out, "The witch hath done
this; the damned witch hath done this!" and all the ten, save one
who stayed behind, jumped over the ditch, and ran away. But
_Dom. Consul_, who, together with the worshipful court, drove
behind us, no sooner saw this than he called to the constable,
"What is the meaning of all this?" Whereupon the constable cried
aloud to the sheriff, who was a little way on before us, but who
straightway turned him about, and when he had heard the cause,
called after the fellows that he would hang them all upon the
first tree, and feed his falcons with their flesh, if they did not
return forthwith. This threat had its effect; and when they came
back he gave each of them about half-a-dozen strokes with his
riding-whip, whereupon they tarried in their places, but as far
off from the cart as they could for the ditch.

Meanwhile, however, the storm came up from the southward, with
thunder, lightning, hail, and such a wind, as though the
all-righteous God would manifest His wrath against these ruthless
murderers; and the tops of the lofty beeches around us were beaten
together like besoms, so that our cart was covered with leaves as
with hail, and no one could hear his own voice for the noise. This
happened just as we were entering the forest from the convent dam,
and the sheriff now rode close behind us, beside the coach wherein
was _Dom. Consul_. Moreover, just as we were crossing the
bridge over the mill-race, we were seized by the blast, which
swept up a hollow from the Achterwater with such force that we
conceived it must drive our cart down the abyss, which was at
least forty feet deep or more; and seeing that, at the same time,
the horses did as though they were upon ice, and could not stand,
the driver halted to let the storm pass over, the which the
sheriff no sooner perceived, than he galloped up and bade him go
on forthwith. Whereupon the man flogged on the horses, but they
slipped about after so strange a fashion, that our guards with the
pitchforks fell back, and my child cried aloud for fear; and when
we were come to the place where the great waterwheel turned just
below us, the driver fell with his horse, which broke one of its
legs. Then the constable jumped down from the cart, but
straightway fell too, on the slippery ground; Item, the driver,
after getting on his legs again, fell a second time. Hereupon the
sheriff with a curse spurred on his grey charger, which likewise
began to slip as our horses had also done. Nevertheless, he came
sliding towards us, without, however, falling down; and when he
saw that the horse with the broken leg still tried to get up, but
always straightway fell again on the slippery ground, he hallooed
and beckoned the fellows with pitchforks to come and unharness the
mare; _item_, to push the cart over the bridge, lest it
should be carried down the precipice. Presently a long flash of
lightning shot into the water below us, followed by a clap of
thunder so sudden and so awful that the whole bridge shook, and
the sheriff his horse (our horses stood quite still) started back
a few paces, lost its footing, and, together with its rider, shot
headlong down upon the great mill-wheel below, whereupon a fearful
cry arose from all those that stood behind us on the bridge. For a
while naught could be seen for the white foam, until the sheriff
his legs and body were borne up into the air by the wheel, his
head being stuck fast between the fellies; and thus, fearful to
behold, he went round and round upon the wheel. Naught ailed the
grey charger, which swam about in the mill-pond below. When I saw
this, I seized the hand of my innocent lamb, and cried, "Behold,
Mary, our Lord God yet liveth! 'And he rode upon a cherub, and did
fly; yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. Then did he beat
them small as the dust before the wind; he did cast them out as
the dirt in the streets.' [Footnote: Ps. xviii. 10, 42.] Look
down, and see what the Almighty God hath done." While she hereupon
raised her eyes toward heaven with a sigh, we heard _Dom.
Consul_ calling out behind us as loudly as he could: and,
seeing that none could understand his words for the fearful storm
and the tumult of the waters, he jumped down from the coach, and
would have crossed the bridge on foot, but straightway he fell
upon his nose, so that it bled, and he crept back again on his
hands and feet, and held a long talk with _Dom. Camerarius_,
who, howbeit, did not stir out of the coach. Meanwhile, the driver
and the constable had unyoked the maimed horse, bound it, and
dragged it off the bridge, and now they came back to the cart, and
bade us get down therefrom, and cross the bridge on foot, the
which we did after that the constable had unbound my child, with
many curses and ill words, threatening that, in return for her
malice, he would keep her roasting till late in the evening. (I
could not blame him much therefore; for truly this was a strange
thing!) But, albeit, my child herself got safe across; we two--I
mean reverend Martinus and myself--like all the others, fell two
or three times to the ground. At length we all, by God His grace,
got safe and sound to the miller's house, where the constable
delivered my child into the miller his hands, to guard her on
forfeit of his life, while he ran down to the mill-pond to save
the sheriff his grey charger. The driver was bidden the while to
get the cart and the other horses off the bewitched bridge. We
had, however, stood but a short time with the miller, under the
great oak before his door, when _Dom. Consul_ with the
worshipful court, and all the folks, came over the little bridge,
which is but a couple of musket shots off from the first one, and
he could scarce prevent the crowd from falling upon my child and
tearing her in pieces, seeing that they all, as well as _Dom.
Consul_ himself, imagined that none other but she had brewed
the storm, and bewitched the bridge (especially as she herself had
not fallen thereon), and had likewise caused the sheriff his
death; all of which, nevertheless, were foul lies, as ye shall
hereafter hear. He, therefore, railed at her for a cursed
she-devil, who, even after having confessed and received the holy
Sacrament, had not yet renounced Satan; but that naught should
save her, and she should, nevertheless, receive her reward. And,
seeing that she kept silence, I hereupon answered, "Did he not see
that the all-righteous God had so ordered it, that the sheriff,
who would have robbed my innocent child of her honour and her
life, had here forfeited his own life as a fearful example to
others?" But _Dom. Consul_ would not see this, and said that
a child might perceive that our Lord God had not made this storm,
or did I peradventure believe that our Lord God had likewise
bewitched the bridge? I had better cease to justify my wicked
child, and rather begin to exhort her to repent, seeing that this
was the second time that she had brewed a storm, and that no man
with a grain of sense could believe what I said, &c.

Meanwhile the miller had already stopped the mill, _item,_
turned off the water, and some four or five fellows had gone with
the constable down to the great water-wheel, to take the sheriff
out of the fellies, wherein he had till _datum_ still been
carried round and round. This they could not do until they had
first sawn out one of the fellies; and when at last they brought
him to the bank, his neck was found to be broken, and he was as
blue as a corn-flower. Moreover, his throat was frightfully torn,
and the blood ran out of his nose and mouth. If the people had not
reviled my child before, they reviled her doubly now, and would
have thrown dirt and stones at her, had not the worshipful court
interfered with might and main, saying that she would presently
receive her well-deserved punishment.

Also, my dear gossip, the reverend Martinus, climbed up into the
cart again, and admonished the people not to forestall the law;
and seeing that the storm had somewhat abated, he could now be
heard. And when they had become somewhat more quiet, _Dom.
Consul_ left the corpse of the sheriff in charge with the
miller, until such time as, by God's help, he should return.
_Item,_ he caused the grey charger to be tied up to the
oak-tree till the same time, seeing that the miller swore that he
had no room in the mill, inasmuch as his stable was filled with
straw; but that he would give the grey horse some hay, and keep
good watch over him. And now were we wretched creatures forced to
get into the cart again, after that the unsearchable will of God
had once more dashed all our hopes. The constable gnashed his
teeth with rage, while he took the cords out of his pocket to bind
my poor child to the rail withal. As I saw right well what he was
about to do, I pulled a few groats out of my pocket, and whispered
into his ear, "Be merciful, for she cannot possibly run away, and
do you hereafter help her to die quickly, and you shall get ten
groats more from me!" This worked well, and albeit he pretended
before the people to pull the ropes tight, seeing they all cried
out with might and main, "Haul hard, haul hard," in truth, he
bound her hands more gently than before, and even without making
her fast to the rail; but he sat up behind us again with the naked
sword, and after that _Dom. Consul_ had prayed aloud, "God
the Father, dwell with us," likewise the _Custos_ had led
another hymn (I know not what he sang, neither does my child), we
went on our way, according to the unfathomable will of God, after
this fashion: the worshipful court went before, whereas all the
folks to our great joy fell back, and the fellows with the
pitchforks lingered a good way behind us, now that the sheriff was
dead.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

_How my daughter was at length saved by the help of the
all-merciful, yea, of the all-merciful God._

Meanwhile, by reason of my unbelief, wherewith Satan again tempted
me, I had become so weak that I was forced to lean my back against
the constable his knees, and expected not to live even till we
should come to the mountain; for the last hope I had cherished was
now gone, and I saw that my innocent lamb was in the same plight.
Moreover, the reverend Martinus began to upbraid her, saying that
he, too, now saw that all her oaths were lies, and that she really
could brew storms. Hereupon she answered, with a smile, although,
indeed, she was as white as a sheet, "Alas, reverend godfather, do
you then really believe that the weather and the storms no longer
obey our Lord God? Are storms, then, so rare at this season of the
year, that none save the foul fiend can cause them? Nay, I have
never broken the baptismal vow you once made in my name, nor will
I ever break it, as I hope that God will be merciful to me in my
last hour, which is now at hand." But the reverend Martinus shook
his head doubtingly, and said, "The evil one must have promised
thee much, seeing thou remainest so stubborn even unto thy life's
end, and blasphemest the Lord thy God; but wait, and thou wilt
soon learn with horror that the devil 'is a liar, and the father
of it'" (St. John viii.). Whilst he yet spake this, and more of a
like kind, we came to Uekeritze, where all the people, both great
and small, rushed out of their doors, also Jacob Schwarten his
wife, who, as we afterwards heard, had only been brought to bed
the night before, and her goodman came running after her to fetch
her back, in vain. She told him he was a fool, and had been one
for many a weary day, and that if she had to crawl up the mountain
on her bare knees, she would go to see the parson's witch burnt;
that she had reckoned upon it for so long, and if he did not let
her go, she would give him a thump on the chaps, &c.

Thus did the coarse and foul-mouthed people riot around the cart
wherein we sat, and as they knew not what had befallen, they ran
so near us that the wheel went over the foot of a boy.
Nevertheless they all crowded up again, more especially the
lasses, and felt my daughter her clothes, and would even see her
shoes and stockings, and asked her how she felt. _Item_, one
fellow asked whether she would drink somewhat, with many more
fooleries besides, till at last, when several came and asked her
for her garland and her golden chain, she turned towards me and
smiled, saying, "Father, I must begin to speak some Latin again,
otherwise the folks will leave me no peace." But it was not wanted
this time; for our guards, with the pitchforks, had now reached
the hindmost, and, doubtless, told them what had happened, as we
presently heard a great shouting behind us, for the love of God to
turn back before the witch did them a mischief; and as Jacob
Schwarten his wife heeded it not, but still plagued my child to
give her her apron to make a christening coat for her baby, for
that it was pity to let it be burnt, her goodman gave her such a
thump on her back with a knotted stick which he had pulled out of
the hedge, that she fell down with loud shrieks; and when he went
to help her up she pulled him down by his hair, and, as reverend
Martinus said, now executed what she had threatened; inasmuch as
she struck him on the nose with her fist with might and main,
until the other people came running up to them, and held her back.
Meanwhile, however, the storm had almost passed over, and sank
down toward the sea.

And when we had gone through the little wood, we suddenly saw the
Streckelberg before us, covered with people, and the pile and
stake upon the top, upon the which the tall constable jumped up
when he saw us coming, and beckoned with his cap with all his
might. Thereat my senses left me, and my sweet lamb was not much
better; for she bent to and fro like a reed, and stretching her
bound hands toward heaven, she once more cried out--

"Rex tremend majestatis!
Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietatis!" [Footnote: Vide p. 395.]

And, behold, scarce had she spoken these words, when the sun came
out and formed a rainbow right over the mountain most pleasant to
behold; and it is clear that this was a sign from the merciful
God, such as He often gives us, but which we blind and unbelieving
men do not rightly mark. Neither did my child heed it; for albeit
she thought upon that first rainbow which shadowed forth our
troubles, yet it seemed to her impossible that she could now be
saved, wherefore she grew so faint, that she no longer heeded the
blessed sign of mercy, and her head fell forwards (for she could
no longer lean it upon me, seeing that I lay my length at the
bottom of the cart), till her garland almost touched my worthy
gossip his knees. Thereupon, he bade the driver stop for a moment
and pulled out a small flask filled with wine, which he always
carries in his pocket when witches are to be burnt, [Footnote:
Which so often happened at that time, that in many parishes of
Pomerania six or seven of these unhappy women were brought to the
stake every year.] in order to comfort them therewith in their
terror. (Henceforth, I myself will ever do the like, for this
fashion of my dear gossip pleases me well.) He first poured some
of this wine down my throat, and afterwards down my child's; and
we had scarce come to ourselves again, when a fearful noise and
tumult arose among the people behind us, and they not only cried
out in deadly fear, "The sheriff is come back! the sheriff is come
again!" but as they could neither run away forwards nor backwards
(being afraid of the ghost behind and of my child before them),
they ran on either side, some rushing into the coppice, and others
wading into the Achterwater up to their necks. _Item_, as
soon as _Dom. Camerarius_ saw the ghost come out of the
coppice with a grey hat and a grey feather, such as the sheriff
wore, riding on the grey charger, he crept under a bundle of straw
in the cart: and _Dom. Consul_ cursed my child again, and
bade the coachmen drive on as madly as they could, even should all
the horses die of it, when the impudent constable behind us called
to him, "It is not the sheriff, but the young lord of Nienkerken,
who will surely seek to save the witch: shall I, then, cut her
throat with my sword?" At these fearful words my child and I came
to ourselves again, and the fellow had already lift up his naked
sword to smite her, seeing _Dom. Consul_ had made him a sign
with his hand, when my dear gossip, who saw it, pulled my child
with all his strength back into his lap. (May God reward him on
the day of judgment, for I never can.) The villain would have
stabbed her as she lay in his lap; but the young lord was already
there, and seeing what he was about to do, thrust the boar-spear,
which he held in his hand, in between the constable's shoulders,
so that he fell headlong on the earth, and his own sword, by the
guidance of the most righteous God, went into his ribs on one
side, and out again at the other. He lay there and bellowed, but
the young lord heeded him not, but said to my child, "Sweet maid,
God be praised that you are safe!" When, however, he saw her bound
hands, he gnashed his teeth, and, cursing her judges, he jumped
off his horse, and cut the rope with his sword, which he held in
his right hand, took her hand in his, and said, "Alas, sweet maid,
how have I sorrowed for you! but I could not save you, as I myself
also lay in chains, which you may see from my looks."

But my child could answer him never a word, and fell into a swound
again for joy; howbeit, she soon came to herself again, seeing my
dear gossip still had a little wine by him. Meanwhile the dear
young lord did me some injustice, which, however, I freely forgive
him; for he railed at me and called me an old woman, who could do
naught save weep and wail. Why had I not journeyed after the
Swedish king, or why had I not gone to Mellenthin myself to fetch
his testimony, as I knew right well what he thought about
witchcraft? (But, blessed God, how could I do otherwise than
believe the judge, who had been there? Others besides old women
would have done the same; and I never once thought of the Swedish
king; and say, dear reader, how could I have journeyed after him,
and left my own child? But young folks do not think of these
things, seeing they know not what a father feels.)

Meanwhile, however, _Dom. Camerarius_, having heard that it
was the young lord, had again crept out from beneath the straw;
_Item, Dom. Consul_ had jumped down from the coach and ran
towards us, railing at him loudly, and asking him by what power
and authority he acted thus, seeing that he himself had heretofore
denounced the ungodly witch? But the young lord pointed with his
sword to his people, who now came riding out of the coppice, about
eighteen strong, armed with sabres, pikes, and muskets, and said,
"There is my authority, and I would let you feel it on your back
if I did not know that you were but a stupid ass. When did you
hear any testimony from me against this virtuous maiden? You lie
in your throat if you say you did." And as _Dom. Consul_
stood and straightway forswore himself, the young lord, to the
astonishment of all, related as follows:--That as soon as he heard
of the misfortune which had befallen me and my child, he ordered
his horse to be saddled forthwith, in order to ride to Pudgla to
bear witness to our innocence: this, however, his old father would
nowise suffer, thinking that his nobility would receive a stain if
it came to be known that his son had conversed with a reputed
witch by night on the Streckelberg. He had caused him therefore,
as prayers and threats were of no avail, to be bound hand and
foot, and confined in the donjon-keep, where till _datum_ an
old servant had watched him, who refused to let him escape,
notwithstanding he offered him any sum of money; whereupon he fell
into the greatest anguish and despair at the thought that innocent
blood would be shed on his account; but that the all-righteous God
had graciously spared him this sorrow; for his father had fallen
sick from vexation, and lay a-bed all this time, and it so
happened that this very morning about prayer time, the huntsman,
in shooting at a wild duck in the moat, had by chance sorely
wounded his father's favourite dog, called Packan, which had crept
howling to his father's bedside, and had died there; whereupon the
old man, who was weak, was so angered that he was presently seized
with a fit and gave up the ghost too. Hereupon his people released
him, and after he had closed his father's eyes and prayed an "Our
Father" over him, he straightway set out with all the people he
could find in the castle, in order to save the innocent maiden.
For he testified here himself before all, on the word and honour
of a knight, nay, more, by his hopes of salvation, that he himself
was that devil which had appeared to the maiden on the mountain in
the shape of a hairy giant; for having heard by common report that
she ofttimes went thither, he greatly desired to know what she did
there, and that from fear of his hard father he disguised himself
in a wolf's skin, so that none might know him, and he had already
spent two nights there, when on the third the maiden came, and he
then saw her dig for amber on the mountain, and that she did not
call upon Satan, but recited a Latin _carmen_ aloud to
herself. This he would have testified at Pudgla, but, from the
cause aforesaid, he had not been able: moreover, his father had
laid his cousin, Glaus von Nienkerken, who was there on a visit,
in his bed and made him bear false witness; for as _Dom.
Consul_ had not seen him (I mean the young lord) for many a
long year, seeing he had studied in foreign parts, his father
thought that he might easily be deceived, which accordingly
happened.

When the worthy young lord had stated this before _Dom.
Consul_ and all the people, which flocked together on hearing
that the young lord was no ghost, I felt as though a millstone had
been taken off my heart; and seeing that the people (who had
already pulled the constable from under the cart, and crowded
round him, like a swarm of bees) cried to me that he was dying,
but desired first to confess somewhat to me, I jumped from the
cart as lightly as a young bachelor, and called to _Dom.
Consul_ and the young lord to go with me, seeing that I could
easily guess what he had on his mind. He sat upon a stone, and the
blood gushed from his side like a fountain (now that they had
drawn out the sword); he whimpered on seeing me, and said that he
had in truth hearkened behind the door to all that old Lizzie had
confessed to me, namely, that she herself, together with the
sheriff, had worked all the witchcraft on man and beast, to
frighten my poor child, and force her to play the wanton. That he
had hidden this, seeing that the sheriff had promised him a great
reward for so doing; but that he would now confess it freely,
since God had brought my child her innocence to light. Wherefore
he besought my child and myself to forgive him. And when _Dom.
Consul_ shook his head, and asked whether he would live and die
on the truth of this confession, he answered, "Yes!" and
straightway fell on his side to the earth and gave up the ghost.

Meanwhile time hung heavy with the people on the mountain, who had
come from Coserow, from Zitze, from Gnitze, &c., to see my child
burnt, and they all came running down the hill in long rows like
geese, one after the other, to see what had happened. And among
them was my ploughman, Claus Neels. When the worthy fellow saw and
heard what had befallen us, he began to weep aloud for joy; and
straightway he too told what he had heard the sheriff say to old
Lizzie in the garden, and how he had promised her a pig in the
room of her own little pig, which she had herself bewitched to
death in order to bring my child into evil repute. _Summa_:
All that I have noted above, and which till _datum_ he had
kept to himself for fear of the question. Hereat all the people
marvelled, and greatly bewailed her misfortunes: and many came,
among them old Paasch, and would have kissed my daughter her hands
and feet, as also mine own, and praised us now as much as they had
before reviled us. But thus it ever is with the people. Wherefore
my departed father used to say,

"The people's hate is death,
Their love, a passing breath!"

My dear gossip ceased not from fondling my child, holding her in
his lap, and weeping over her like a father (for I could not have
wept more myself than he wept). Howbeit she herself wept not, but
begged the young lord to send one of his horsemen to her faithful
old maid-servant at Pudgla, to tell her what had befallen us,
which he straightway did to please her. But the worshipful court
(for _Dom. Camerarius_ and the _scriba_ had now plucked
up a heart, and had come down from the coach) was not yet
satisfied, and _Dom. Consul_ began to tell the young lord
about the bewitched bridge, which none other save my daughter
could have bewitched. Hereto the young lord gave answer that this
was indeed a strange thing, inasmuch as his own horse had also
broken a leg thereon, whereupon he had taken the sheriff his
horse, which he saw tied up at the mill; but he did not think that
this could be laid to the charge of the maiden, but that it came
about by natural means, as he had half discovered already,
although he had not had time to search the matter thoroughly.
Wherefore he besought the worshipful court and all the people,
together with my child herself, to return back thither, where,
with God's help, he would clear her from this suspicion also, and
prove her perfect innocence before them all.

Thereunto the worshipful court agreed; and the young lord, having
given the sheriff his grey charger to my ploughman to carry the
corpse, which had been laid across the horse's neck, to Coserow,
the young lord got into the cart by us, but did not seat himself
beside my child, but backward by my dear gossip: moreover, he bade
one of his own people drive us instead of the old coachman, and
thus we turned back in God His name. _Custos Benzensis_, who,
with the children, had run in among the vetches by the wayside (my
defunct _Custos_ would not have done so, he had more
courage), went on before again with the young folks, and by
command of his reverence the pastor led the Ambrosian _Te
Deum_, which deeply moved us all, more especially my child,
insomuch that her book was wetted with her tears, and she at
length laid it down and said, at the same time giving her hand to
the young lord, "How can I thank God and you for that which you
have done for me this day?" Whereupon the young lord answered,
saying, "I have greater cause to thank God than yourself, sweet
maid, seeing that you have suffered in your dungeon unjustly, but
I justly, inasmuch as by my thoughtlessness I brought this misery
upon you. Believe me that this morning when, in my donjon keep, I
first heard the sound of the dead-bell, I thought to have died;
and when it tolled for the third time, I should have gone
distraught in my grief, had not the Almighty God at that moment
taken the life of my strange father, so that your innocent life
should be saved by me. Wherefore I have vowed a new tower, and
whatsoe'er beside may be needful, to the blessed house of God; for
naught more bitter could have befallen me on earth than your
death, sweet maid, and naught more sweet than your life!"

But at these words my child only wept and sighed; and when he
looked on her, she cast down her eyes and trembled, so that I
straightway perceived that my sorrows were not yet come to an end,
but that another barrel of tears was just tapped for me, and so
indeed it was. Moreover, the ass of a _Custos_, having
finished the _Te Deum_ before we were come to the bridge,
straightway struck up the next following hymn, which was a funeral
one, beginning, "The body let us now inter." (God be praised that
no harm has come of it till _datum_.) My beloved gossip rated
him not a little, and threatened him that for his stupidity he
should not get the money for the shoes which he had promised him
out of the church dues. But my child comforted him, and promised
him a pair of shoes at her own charges, seeing that peradventure a
funeral hymn was better for her than a song of gladness.

And when this vexed the young lord, and he said, "How now, sweet
maid, you know not how enough to thank God and me for your rescue,
and yet you speak thus?" she answered, smiling sadly, that she had
only spoken thus to comfort the poor _Custos_. But I
straightway saw that she was in earnest, for that she felt that
although she had escaped one fire, she already burned in another.

Meanwhile we were come to the bridge again, and all the folks
stood still, and gazed open-mouthed, when the young lord jumped
down from the cart, and after stabbing his horse, which still lay
kicking on the bridge, went on his knees, and felt here and there
with his hand. At length he called to the worshipful court to draw
near, for that he had found out the witchcraft. But none save
_Dom. Consul_ and a few fellows out of the crowd, among whom
was old Paasch, would follow him; _item_, my dear gossip and
myself. And the young lord showed us a lump of tallow about the
size of a large walnut which lay on the ground, and wherewith the
whole bridge had been smeared, so that it looked quite white, but
which all the folks in their fright had taken for flour out of the
mill; _item_, with some other _materia_, which stunk
like fitchock's dung, but what it was we could not find out. Soon
after a fellow found another bit of tallow, and showed it to the
people; whereupon I cried, "Aha! none hath done this but that
ungodly miller's man, in revenge for the stripes which the sheriff
gave him for reviling my child." Whereupon I told what he had
done, and _Dom. Consul_, who also had heard thereof,
straightway sent for the miller.

He, however, did as though he knew naught of the matter, and only
said that his man had left his service about an hour ago. But a
young lass, the miller's maid-servant, said that that very
morning, before daybreak, when she had got up to let out the
cattle, she had seen the man scouring the bridge. But that she had
given it no further heed, and had gone to sleep for another hour:
and she pretended to know no more than the miller whither the
rascal was gone. When the young lord had heard this news, he got
up into the cart, and began to address the people, seeking to
persuade them no longer to believe in witchcraft, now that they
had seen what it really was. When I heard this, I was
horror-stricken (as was but right) in my conscience, as a priest,
and I got upon the cart-wheel, and whispered into his ear, for God
His sake, to leave this _materia_, seeing that if the people
no longer feared the devil, neither would they fear our Lord God.
[Footnote: Maybe a profound truth.]

The dear young lord forthwith did as I would have him, and only
asked the people whether they now held my child to be perfectly
innocent? And when they had answered, Yes! he begged them to go
quietly home, and to thank God that he had saved innocent blood.
That he, too, would now return home, and that he hoped that none
would molest me and my child if he let us return to Coserow alone.
Hereupon he turned hastily towards her, took her hand, and said,
"Farewell, sweet maid; I trust that I shall soon clear your honour
before the world, but do you thank God therefore, not me." He then
did the like to me and to my dear gossip, whereupon he jumped down
from the cart, and went and sat beside _Dom. Consul_ in his
coach. The latter also spake a few words to the people, and
likewise begged my child and me to forgive him (and I must say it
to his honour, that the tears ran down his cheeks the while), but
he was so hurried by the young lord that he brake short his
discourse, and they drove off over the little bridge, without so
much as looking back. Only _Dom. Consul_ looked round once,
and called out to me, that in his hurry he had forgotten to tell
the executioner that no one was to be burned to-day: I was
therefore to send the churchwarden of Uekeritze up the mountain,
to say so in his name; the which I did. And the bloodhound was
still on the mountain, albeit he had long since heard what had
befallen; and when the bailiff gave him the orders of the
worshipful court, he began to curse so fearfully that it might
have awakened the dead; moreover, he plucked off his cap and
trampled it under foot, so that any one might have guessed what he
felt.

But to return to ourselves: my child sat as still and as white as
a pillar of salt, after the young lord had left her so suddenly
and so unawares, but she was somewhat comforted when the old
maid-servant came running with her coats tucked up to her knees,
and carrying her shoes and stockings in her hand. We heard her
afar off, as the mill had stopped, blubbering for joy, and she
fell at least three times on the bridge, but at last she got over
safe, and kissed now mine and now my child her hands and feet;
begging us only not to turn her away, but to keep her until her
life's end; the which we promised to do. She had to climb up
behind where the impudent constable had sat, seeing that my dear
gossip would not leave me until I should be back in mine own
manse. And as the young lord his servant had got up behind the
coach, old Paasch drove us home, and all the folks who had waited
till _datum_ ran beside the cart, praising and pitying as
much as they had before scorned and reviled us. Scarce, however,
had we passed through Uekeritze, when we again heard cries of
"Here comes the young lord, here comes the young lord!" so that my
child started up for joy, and became as red as a rose, but some of
the folks ran into the buckwheat by the road, again thinking it
was another ghost. It was, however, in truth the young lord, who
galloped up on a black horse, calling out as he drew near us,
"Notwithstanding the haste I am in, sweet maid, I must return and
give you safe conduct home, seeing that I have just heard that the
filthy people reviled you by the way, and I know not whether you
are yet safe." Hereupon he urged old Paasch to mend his pace, and
as his kicking and trampling did not even make the horses trot,
the young lord struck the saddle horse from time to time with the
flat of his sword, so that we soon reached the village and the
manse. Howbeit, when I prayed him to dismount awhile, he would
not, but excused himself, saying that he must still ride through
Uzedom to Anclam, but charged old Paasch, who was our bailiff, to
watch over my child as the apple of his eye, and should anything
unusual happen, he was straightway to inform the town clerk at
Pudgla or _Dom. Consul_ at Uzedom thereof, and when Paasch
had promised to do this, he waved his hand to us, and galloped off
as fast as he could.

But before he got round the corner by Pagel his house, he turned
back for the third time: and when we wondered thereat he said we
must forgive him, seeing his thoughts wandered to-day.

That I had formerly told him that I still had my patent of
nobility, the which he begged me to lend him for a time. Hereupon
I answered that I must first seek for it, and that he had best
dismount the while. But he would not, and again excused himself,
saying he had no time. He therefore stayed without the door, until
I brought him the patent, whereupon he thanked me and said, "Do
not wonder hereat, you will soon see what my purpose is."
Whereupon he struck his spurs into his horse's sides, and did not
come back again.

CHAPTER XXIX.

_Of our next great sorrow, and final joy._

And now might we have been at rest, and have thanked God on our
knees by day and night. For, besides mercifully saving us out of
such great tribulation, He turned the hearts of my beloved flock,
so that they knew not how to do enough for us. Every day they
brought us fish, meat, eggs, sausages, and whatsoe'er besides they
could give me, and which I have since forgotten. Moreover, they,
every one of them, came to church the next Sunday, great and small
(except goodwife Kliene of Zempin, who had just got a boy, and
still kept her bed), and I preached a thanksgiving sermon on Job
v., 17th, 18th, and 19th verses, "Behold, happy is the man whom
God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the
Almighty: for He maketh sore, and bindeth up; and His hands make
whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles, yea, in seven there
shall no evil touch thee." And during my sermon I was ofttimes
forced to stop by reason of all the weeping, and to let them blow
their noses. And I might truly have compared myself to Job, after
that the Lord had mercifully released him from his troubles, had
it not been for my child, who prepared much fresh grief for me.

She had wept when the young lord would not dismount, and now that
he came not again, she grew more uneasy from day to day. She sat
and read first the Bible, then the hymnbook, _item_, the
history of Dido in _Virgilius_, or she climbed up the
mountain to fetch flowers (likewise sought after the vein of amber
there, but found it not, which shows the cunning and malice of
Satan). I saw this for awhile with many sighs, but spake not a
word (for, dear reader, what could I say?) until it grew worse and
worse; and as she now recited her _carmina_ more than ever
both at home and abroad, I feared lest the people should again
repute her a witch, and one day I followed her up the mountain.
Well-a-day, she sat on the pile which still stood there, but with
her face turned towards the sea, reciting the _versus_ where
Dido mounts the funeral pile in order to stab herself for love of
Aeneas--

"At trepida et coeptis immanibus effera Dido
Sanguineam volvens aciem, maculisque trementes
Interfusa genas, et pallida morte futura
Interiora domus irrumpit limina et altos
Conscendit furibunda rogos..."

[Footnote:
"But furious Dido, with dark thoughts involv'd,
Shook at the mighty mischief she resolv'd.
With livid spots distinguish'd was her face,
Red were her rolling eyes, and discompos'd her pace;

Ghastly she gazed, with pain she drew her breath,
And nature shiver'd at approaching death.
Then swiftly to the fatal place she pass'd,
And mounts the funeral pile with furious haste."

--DRYDEN'S _Virgil._]

When I saw this, and heard how things really stood with her, I was
affrighted beyond measure, and cried, "Mary, my child, what art
thou doing?" She started when she heard my voice, but sat still on
the pile, and answered, as she covered her face with her apron,
"Father, I am burning my heart." I drew near to her and pulled the
apron from her face, saying, "Wilt thou then again kill me with
grief?" Whereupon she covered her face with her hands, and moaned,
"Alas, father, wherefore was I not burned here? My torment would
then have endured but for a moment, but now it will last as long
as I live?" I still did as though I had seen naught, and said,
"Wherefore, dear child, dost thou suffer such torment?" Whereupon
she answered, "I have long been ashamed to tell you; for the young
lord, the young lord, my father, do I suffer this torment! He no
longer thinks of me; and albeit he saved my life he scorns me, or
he would surely have dismounted and come in awhile; but we are of
far too low degree for him!" Hereupon I indeed began to comfort
her and to persuade her to think no more of the young lord, but
the more I comforted her the worse she grew. Nevertheless I saw
that she did yet in secret cherish a strong hope by reason of the
patent of nobility which he had made me give him. I would not take
this hope from her, seeing that I felt the same myself, and to
comfort her I flattered her hopes, whereupon she was more quiet
for some days, and did not go up the mountain, the which I had
forbidden her. Moreover, she began again to teach little Paasch,
her god-daughter, out of whom, by the help of the all-righteous
God, Satan was now altogether departed. But she still pined, and
was as white as a sheet; and when soon after a report came that
none in the castle at Mellenthin knew what was become of the young
lord, and that they thought he had been killed, her grief became
so great that I had to send my ploughman on horseback to
Mellenthin to gain tidings of him. And she looked at least twenty
times out of the door and over the paling to watch for his return;
and when she saw him coming she ran out to meet him as far as the
corner by Pagels. But, blessed God! he brought us even worse news
than we had heard before, saying, that the people at the castle
had told him that their young master had ridden away the self-same
day whereon he had rescued the maiden. That he had, indeed,
returned after three days to his father's funeral, but had
straightway ridden off again, and that for five weeks they had
heard nothing further of him, and knew not whither he was gone,
but supposed that some wicked ruffians had killed him.

And now my grief was greater than ever it had been before; so
patient and resigned to the will of God as my child had shown
herself heretofore, and no martyr could have met her last hour
stronger in God and Christ, so impatient and despairing was she
now. She gave up all hope, and took it into her head that in these
heavy times of war the young lord had been killed by robbers.
Naught availed with her, not even prayer, for when I called upon
God with her, on my knees, she straightway began so grievously to
bewail that the Lord had cast her off, and that she was condemned
to naught save misfortunes in this world; that it pierced through
my heart like a knife, and my thoughts forsook me at her words.
She lay also at night, and "like a crane or a swallow so did she
chatter; she did mourn like a dove; her eyes did fail with looking
upward," [Footnote: Isa. xxxviii. 14.] because no sleep came upon
her eyelids. I called to her from my bed, "Dear child, wilt thou
then never cease? sleep, I pray thee!" and she answered and said,
"Do you sleep, dearest father; I cannot sleep until I sleep the
sleep of death. Alas, my father; that I was not burned!" But how
could I sleep when she could not? I, indeed, said each morning
that I had slept awhile in order to content her; but it was not
so; but, like David, "all the night made I my bed to swim; I
watered my couch with my tears." [Footnote: Ps. vi. 6.] Moreover,
I again fell into heavy unbelief, so that I neither could nor
would pray. Nevertheless the Lord "did not deal with me after my
sins, nor reward me according to mine iniquities. For as the
heaven is high above the earth, so great was His mercy toward" me,
miserable sinner! [Footnote: Ps ciii. 10,11.]

For mark what happened on the very next Saturday! Behold, our old
maid-servant came running in at the door quite out of breath,
saying that a horseman was coming over the Master's Mount, with a
tall plume waving on his hat; and that she believed it was the
young lord. When my child, who sat upon the bench combing her
hair, heard this, she gave a shriek of joy, which would have moved
a stone under the earth, and straightway ran out of the room to
look over the paling. She presently came running in again, fell
upon my neck, and cried without ceasing, "The young lord! the
young lord!" whereupon she would have run out to meet him, but I
forbade her, saying she had better first bind up her hair, which
she then remembered, and laughing, weeping, and praying, all at
once, she bound up her long hair. And now the young lord came
galloping round the corner, attired in a green velvet doublet with
red silk sleeves, and a grey hat with a heron's feather therein;
_summa_, gaily dressed as beseems a wooer. And when we now
ran out at the door, he called aloud to my child in the Latin,
from afar off, "Quomodo stat dulcissima virgo?_" Whereupon she
gave answer, saying, "_Bene, te aspecto._" He then sprang
smiling off his horse and gave it into the charge of my ploughman,
who meanwhile had come up together with the maid; but he was
affrighted when he saw my child so pale, and taking her hand spake
in the vulgar tongue, "My God! what is it ails you, sweet maid?
you look more pale than when about to go to the stake." Whereupon
she answered, "I have been at the stake daily since you left us,
good my lord, without coming into our house, or so much as sending
us tidings of whither you were gone."

This pleased him well, and he said, "Let us first of all go into
the chamber, and you shall hear all." And when he had wiped the
sweat from his brow, and sat down on the bench beside my child, he
spake as follows:--That he had straightway promised her that he
would clear her honour before the whole world, and the self-same
day whereon he left us he made the worshipful court draw up an
authentic record of all that had taken place, more especially the
confession of the impudent constable, _item_, that of my
ploughboy Claus Neels; wherewith he rode throughout the same
night, as he had promised, to Anclam, and next day to Stettin, to
our gracious sovereign Duke Bogislaw: who marvelled greatly when
he heard of the wickedness of his sheriff, and of that which he
had done to my child: moreover, he asked whether she were the
pastor's daughter who once upon a time had found the signet-ring
of his princely Highness Philippus Julius of most Christian memory
in the castle garden at Wolgast? and as he did not know thereof,
the Duke asked, whether she knew Latin? And he, the young lord,
answered yes, that she knew the Latin better than he did himself.
His princely Highness said, "Then indeed, it must be the same,"
and straightway he put on his spectacles, and read the _Acta_
himself. Hereupon, and after his princely Highness had read the
record of the worshipful court, shaking his head the while, the
young lord humbly besought his princely Highness to give him an
_amende honorable_ for my child, _item, literas
commendatitias_ for himself to our most gracious Emperor at
Vienna, to beg for a renewal of my patent of nobility, seeing that
he was determined to marry none other maiden than my daughter so
long as he lived.

When my child heard this, she gave a cry of joy, and fell back in
a swound with her head against the wall. But the young lord caught
her in his arms, and gave her three kisses (which I could not then
deny him, seeing, as I did with joy, how matters went), and when
she came to herself again, he asked her whether she would not have
him, seeing that she had given such a cry at his words? Whereupon
she said, "Whether I will not have you, my lord! Alas! I love you
as dearly as my God and my Saviour! You first saved my life, and
now you have snatched my heart from the stake whereon, without
you, it would have burned all the days of my life!" Hereupon I
wept for joy, when he drew her into his lap, and she clasped his
neck with her little hands.

They thus sat and toyed awhile, till the young lord again
perceived me, and said, "What say you thereto? I trust it is also
your will, reverend Abraham." Now, dear reader, what could I say,
save my hearty good-will? seeing that I wept for very joy, as did
my child, and I answered, how should it not be my will, seeing
that it was the will of God? But whether the worthy, good young
lord had likewise considered that he would stain his noble name if
he took to wife my child, who had been habit and repute a witch,
and had been well-nigh bound to the stake?

Hereupon he said, By no means; for that he had long since
prevented this, and he proceeded to tell us how he had done it,
namely, his princely Highness had promised him to make ready all
the _scripta_ which he required, within four days, when he
hoped to be back from his father's burial. He therefore rode
straightway back to Mellenthin, and after paying the last honour
to my lord his father, he presently set forth on his way again,
and found that his princely Highness had kept his word meanwhile.
With these _scripta_ he rode to Vienna, and albeit he met
with many pains, troubles, and dangers by the way (which he would
relate to us at some other time), he nevertheless reached the city
safely. There he by chance met with a Jesuit with whom he had once
upon a time had his _locamentum_ for a few days at Prague,
while he was yet a _studiosus_, and this man having heard his
business, bade him be of good cheer, seeing that his Imperial
Majesty stood sorely in need of money in these hard times of war,
and that he, the Jesuit, would manage it all for him. This he
really did, and his Imperial Majesty not only renewed my patent of
nobility, but likewise confirmed the _amende honorable_ to my
child granted by his princely Highness the Duke, so that he might
now maintain the honour of his betrothed bride against all the
world, as also hereafter that of his wife.

Hereupon he drew forth the _Acta_ from his bosom and put them
into my hand, saying, "And now, reverend Abraham, you must also do
me a pleasure; to wit, to-morrow morning, when I hope to go with
my betrothed bride to the Lord's table, you must publish the banns
between me and your daughter, and on the day after you must marry
us. Do not say nay thereto, for my pastor the reverend Philippus
says that this is no uncommon custom among the nobles in
Pomerania, and I have already given notice of the wedding for
Monday at mine own castle, whither we will then go, and where I
purpose to bed my bride." I should have found much to say against
this request, more especially that in honour of the holy Trinity
he should suffer himself to be called three times in church
according to custom, and that he should delay awhile the
espousals; but when I perceived that my child would gladly have
the marriage held right soon, for she sighed and grew red as
scarlet, I had not the heart to refuse them, but promised all they
asked. Whereupon I exhorted them both to prayer, and when I had
laid my hands upon their heads, I thanked the Lord more deeply
than I had ever yet thanked Him, so that at last I could no longer
speak for tears, seeing that they drowned my voice.

Meanwhile the young lord his coach had driven up to the door,
filled with chests and coffers: and he said, "Now, sweet maid, you
shall see what I have brought you," and he bade them bring all the
things into the room. Dear reader, what fine things were there,
such as I had never seen in all my life! all that women can use
was there, especially of clothes, to wit, bodices, plaited gowns,
long robes, some of them bordered with fur, veils, aprons,
_item_, the bridal shift with gold fringes, whereon the merry
lord had laid some six or seven bunches of myrtle to make herself
a wreath withal. _Item_, there was no end to the rings,
neck-chains, ear-drops, &c., the which I have in part forgotten.
Neither did the young lord leave me without a gift, seeing he had
brought me a new surplice (the enemy had robbed me of my old one),
also doublets, hosen, and shoes, _summa_, whatsoever
appertains to a man's attire; wherefore I secretly besought the
Lord not to punish us again in His sore displeasure for such pomps
and vanities. When my child beheld all these things she was
grieved that she could bestow upon him naught save her heart
alone, and the chain of the Swedish king, the which she hung round
his neck, and begged him, weeping the while, to take it as a
bridal gift. This he at length promised to do, and likewise to
carry it with him into the grave: but that my child must first
wear it at her wedding, as well as the blue silken gown, for that
this and no other should be her bridal dress, and this he made her
promise to do.

And now a merry chance befell with the old maid, the which I will
here note. For when the faithful old soul had heard what had taken
place, she was beside herself for joy, danced and clapped her
hands, and at last said to my child, "Now to be sure you will not
weep when the young lord is to lie in your bed," whereat my child
blushed scarlet for shame, and ran out of the room; and when the
young lord would know what she meant therewith she told him that
he had already once slept in my child her bed when he came from
Gtzkow with me, whereupon he bantered her all the evening after
that she was come back again. Moreover, he promised the maid that
as she had once made my child her bed for him, she should make it
again, and that on the day after to-morrow, she and the ploughman
too should go with us to Mellenthin, so that masters and servants
should all rejoice together after such great distress.

And seeing that the dear young lord would stop the night under my
roof, I made him lie in the small closet together with me (for I
could not know what might happen). He soon slept like a top, but
no sleep came into my eyes for very joy, and I prayed the livelong
blessed night, or thought over my sermon. Only near morning I
dosed a little; and when I rose the young lord already sat in the
next room with my child, who wore the black silken gown which he
had brought her, and, strange to say, she looked fresher than even
when the Swedish king came, so that I never in all my life saw her
look fresher or fairer. _Item_, the young lord wore his black
doublet, and picked out for her the best bits of myrtle for the
wreath she was twisting. But when she saw me, she straightway laid
the wreath beside her on the bench, folded her little hands, and
said the morning prayer, as she was ever wont to do, which
humility pleased the young lord right well, and he begged her that
in future she would ever do the like with him, the which she
promised.

Soon after we went to the blessed church to confession, and all
the folk stood gaping open-mouthed because the young lord led my
child on his arm. But they wondered far more when, after the
sermon, I first read to them in the vulgar tongue the _amende
honorable_ to my child from his princely Highness, together
with the confirmation of the same by his Imperial Majesty, and
after that my patent of nobility; and, lastly, began to publish
the banns between my child and the young lord. Dear reader, there
arose a murmur throughout the church like the buzzing of a swarm
of bees. (_N.B_.-These _scripta_ were burnt in the fire
which broke out in the castle a year ago, as I shall hereafter
relate, wherefore I cannot insert them here _in origine_.)

Hereupon my dear children went together with much people to the
Lord's table, and after church nearly all the folks crowded round
them and wished them joy. _Item_, old Paasch came to our
house again that afternoon, and once more besought my daughter's
forgiveness because that he had unwittingly offended her; that he
would gladly give her a marriage-gift, but that he now had nothing
at all; howbeit that his wife should set one of her hens in the
spring, and he would take the chickens to her at Mellenthin
himself. This made us all to laugh, more especially the young
lord, who at last said, "As thou wilt bring me a marriage-gift,
thou must also be asked to the wedding, wherefore thou mayest come
to-morrow with the rest."

Whereupon my child said, "And your little Mary, my god-child,
shall come too, and be my bridemaiden, if my lord allows it."
Whereupon she began to tell the young lord all that had befallen
the child by the malice of Satan, and how they laid it to her
charge until such time as the all-righteous God brought her
innocence to light; and she begged that since her dear lord had
commanded her to wear the same garments at her wedding which she
had worn to salute the Swedish king, and afterwards to go to the
stake, he would likewise suffer her to take for her bridemaiden
her little god-child, as _indicium secundum_ of her sorrows.

And when he had promised her this, she told old Paasch to send
hither his child to her, that she might fit a new gown upon her
which she had cut out for her a week ago, and which the maid would
finish sewing this very day. This so went to the heart of the good
old fellow that he began to weep aloud, and at last said, she
should not do all this for nothing, for instead of the one hen his
wife should set three for her in the spring.

When he was gone, and the young lord did naught save talk with his
betrothed bride both in the vulgar and in the Latin tongue, I did
better--namely, went up the mountain to pray, wherein, moreover, I
followed my child's example, and clomb up upon the pile, there in
loneliness to offer up my whole heart to the Lord as an offering
of thanksgiving, seeing that with this sacrifice He is well
pleased, as in Ps. li. 19, "The sacrifice of God is a troubled
spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, shall Thou not
despise."

That night the young lord again lay in my room, but next morning,
when the sun had scarce risen----------

* * * * *

Here end these interesting communications, which I do not intend
to dilute with any additions of my own. My readers, more
especially those of the fair sex, can picture to themselves at
pleasure the future happiness of this excellent pair.

All further historical traces of their existence, as well as that
of the pastor, have disappeared, and nothing remains but a tablet
fixed in the wall of the church at Mellenthin, on which the
incomparable lord, and his yet more incomparable wife, are
represented. On his faithful breast still hangs "the golden chain,
with the effigy of the Swedish king." They both seem to have died
within a short time of each other, and to have been buried in the
same coffin. For in the vault under the church there is still a
large double coffin, in which, according to tradition, lies a
chain of gold of incalculable value. Some twenty years ago, the
owner of Mellenthin, whose unequalled extravagance had reduced him
to the verge of beggary, attempted to open the coffin in order to
take out this precious relic, but he was not able. It appeared as
if some powerful spell held it firmly together; and it has
remained unopened down to the present time. May it remain so until
the last awful day, and may the impious hand of avarice or
curiosity never desecrate these holy ashes of holy beings!

THE END.

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