THE AMBER WITCH
The most interesting trial for witchcraft ever known. Printed from an imperfect manuscript by her father Abraham Schweidler, the pastor of Coserow, in the Island of Usedom.
Translated from the German by Lady Duff Gordon.
Original publication date: 1846.
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, etc. The aged and half-blind pastor had mistaken the folio for old parochial accounts which could be of no more use to any one.
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.
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. 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 Maleficarum) 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 noble-minded 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 Micraelius. 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.
 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.
 It is my intention to publish this trial also, as it possesses very great psychological interest.
 Horst, Zauberbibliothek, vi. p. 231.
 Vom Alten Pommerlande (of old Pomerania), book v.
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 clew 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, 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, Hinrich 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, 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 praestanda 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, 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 pigstye 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 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 handsbreadths 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.'"
The Seventh Chapter
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, 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"; 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 was soon out of sight among the bushes. Meanwhile I exhorted the people to set to work directly, and to cut little wands for springes, 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!" 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 nought 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 hoofmarks 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. I then abode a while 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. She sobbed for grief as she spoke the words:—
Uno pane vivunt cives utriusque patriae; 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 faelicis urbis lumen inocciduum.
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, 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.
The Eighth Chapter
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), 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, et cet., 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 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? 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, 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 Gratias 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 Virgilius, and wrote to the Pastor Liepensis, 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 mid-day, 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 selfsame 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 Krueger 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 caldron, 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 nought 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 nought, 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! Oh, 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. Oh, 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 chid 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 good man 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, etc., from the Polters and Quatzners, of Anklam and Lassan 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 step-brother, 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 Gruessow, 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.
The Ninth Chapter
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" (Psalm 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 nought, she smiled, and said, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself."
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 camest 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. 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 nought 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 two hundred 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 mayest 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 cabinetmaker, 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.
The Tenth Chapter
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, 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, 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 learned man, and has also composed sundry Latin Chronosticha on these wretched times, in metrum heroicum, which, I must say, please me greatly. When we had crossed the ferry we went in at Sehms his house, on the Castle Green, who keeps an ale-house; he told us that the pestilence had not yet altogether ceased in the town; whereat I was much afraid, more especially as he described to us so many other horrors and miseries of these fearful times, both here and in other places, e.g. of the great famine in the island of Ruegen, where a number of people had grown as black as Moors from hunger; a wondrous thing if it be true, and one might almost gather therefrom how the first blackamoors came about. But be that as it may. Summa. When Master Sehms had told us all the news he had heard, and we had thus learnt, to our great comfort, that the Lord had not visited us only in these times of heavy need, I called him aside into a chamber and asked him whether I could not here find means to get money for a piece of amber which my daughter had found by the sea. At first he said "No"; but then recollecting, he began, "Stay, let me see, at Nicolas Graeke's, the inn at the castle, there are two great Dutch merchants—Dieterich von Pehnen and Jacob Kiekebusch—who are come to buy pitch and boards, item timber for ships and beams; perchance they may like to cheapen your amber too; but you had better go up to the castle yourself, for I do not know for certain whether they still are there." This I did, although I had not yet eaten anything in the man's house, seeing that I wanted to know first what sort of bargain I might make, and to save the farthings belonging to the church until then. So I went into the castle-yard. Gracious God! what a desert had even his Princely Highness' house become within a short time! The Danes had ruined the stables and hunting-lodge, Anno 1628; item, destroyed several rooms in the castle; and in the locamentum of his Princely Highness Duke Philippus, where, Anno 22, he so graciously entertained me and my child, as will be told further on, now dwelt the innkeeper Nicolas Graeke; and all the fair tapestries, whereon was represented the pilgrimage to Jerusalem of his Princely Highness Bogislaus X, were torn down and the walls left grey and bare. At this sight my heart was sorely grieved; but I presently inquired for the merchants, who sat at the table drinking their parting cup, with their travelling equipments already lying by them, seeing that they were just going to set out on their way to Stettin; straightway one of them jumped up from his liquor—a little fellow with a right noble paunch and a black plaster on his nose—and asked me what I would of them? I took him aside into a window, and told him I had some fine amber, if he had a mind to buy it of me, which he straightway agreed to do. And when he had whispered somewhat into the ear of his fellow, he began to look very pleasant, and reached me the pitcher before we went to my inn. I drank to him right heartily, seeing that (as I have already said) I was still fasting, so that I felt my very heart warmed by it in an instant. (Gracious God, what can go beyond a good draught of wine taken within measure!) After this we went to my inn, and told the maid to carry the box on one side into a small chamber. I had scarce opened it and taken away the gown, when the man (whose name was Dieterich von Pehnen, as he had told me by the way) held up both hands for joy, and said he had never seen such wealth of amber, and how had I come by it? I answered that my child had found it on the sea-shore; whereat he wondered greatly that we had so much amber here, and offered me three hundred florins for the whole box. I was quite beside myself for joy at such an offer, but took care not to let him see it, and bargained with him till I got five hundred florins, and I was to go with him to the castle and take the money forthwith. Hereupon I ordered mine host to make ready at once a mug of beer and a good dinner for my child, and went back to the castle with the man and the maid, who carried the box, begging him, in order to avoid common talk, to say nothing of my good fortune to mine host, nor, indeed, to any one else in the town, and to count out the money to me privately, seeing that I could not be sure that the thieves might not lay in wait for me on the road home if they heard of it, and this the man did; for he whispered something into the ear of his fellow, who straightway opened his leathern surcoat, item his doublet and hose, and unbuckled from his paunch a well-filled purse, which he gave to him. Summa. Before long I had my riches in my pocket, and, moreover, the man begged me to write to him at Amsterdam whenever I found any more amber, the which I promised to do. But the worthy fellow (as I have since heard) died of the plague at Stettin, together with his companion—truly I wish it had happened otherwise. Shortly after I was very near getting into great trouble; for, as I had an extreme longing to fall on my knees, so that I could not wait until such time as I should have got back to my inn, I went up three or four steps of the castle stairs and entered into a small chamber, where I humbled myself before the Lord. But the host, Nicolas Graeke, followed me, thinking I was a thief, and would have stopped me, so that I knew not how to excuse myself by saying that I had been made drunken by the wine which the strange merchants had given to me (for he had seen what a good pull I had made at it), seeing I had not broken my fast that morning, and that I was looking for a chamber wherein I might sleep a while, which lie he believed (if, in truth, it were a lie, for I was really drunken, though not with wine, but with love and gratitude to my Maker), and accordingly he let me go.
But I must now tell my story of his Princely Highness, as I promised above. Anno 22, as I chanced to walk with my daughter, who was then a child of about twelve years old, in the castle-garden at Wolgast, and was showing her the beautiful flowers that grew there, it chanced that as we came round from behind some bushes we espied my gracious lord the Duke Philippus Julius, with his Princely Highness the Duke Bogislaff, who lay here on a visit, standing on a mount and conversing, wherefore we were about to return. But as my gracious lords presently walked on toward the drawbridge, we went to look at the mount where they had stood; of a sudden my little girl shouted loudly for joy, seeing that she found on the earth a costly signet-ring, which one of their Princely Highnesses doubtless had dropped. I therefore said, "Come and we will follow our gracious lords with all speed, and thou shall say to them in Latin, 'Serenissimi principes, quis vestrum hunc annulum deperdidit?' (for, as I have mentioned above, I had instructed her in the Latin tongue ever since her seventh year); and if one of them says 'Ego,' give to him the ring. Item.—Should he ask thee in Latin to whom thou belongest, be not abashed, and say 'Ego sum filia pastoris Coserowiensis'; for thou wilt thus find favour in the eyes of their Princely Highnesses, for they are both gracious gentlemen, more especially the taller one, who is our gracious ruler, Philippus Julius himself." This she promised to do; but as she trembled sorely as she went, I encouraged her yet more and promised her a new gown if she did it, seeing that even as a little child she would have given a great deal for fine clothes. As soon, then, as we were come into the courtyard, I stood by the statue of his Princely Highness Ernest Ludewig, and whispered her to run boldly after them, as their Princely Highnesses were only a few steps before us, and had already turned toward the great entrance. This she did, but of a sudden she stood still, and would have turned back, because she was frightened by the spurs of their Princely Highnesses, as she afterwards told me, seeing that they rattled and jingled very loudly.
But my gracious lady the Duchess Agnes saw her from the open window wherein she lay, and called to his Princely Highness, "My lord, there is a little maiden behind you, who, it seems, would speak with you," whereupon his Princely Highness straightway turned him round, smiling pleasantly, so that my little maid presently took courage, and, holding up the ring, spoke in Latin as I had told her. Hereat both the princes wondered beyond measure, and after my gracious Duke Philippus had felt his finger, he answered, "Dulcissima puella, ego perdidi"; whereupon she gave it to him. Then he patted her cheek, and again asked, "Sed quaenam es, et unde venis?" whereupon she boldly gave her answer, and at the same time pointed with her finger to where I stood by the statue; whereupon his Princely Highness motioned me to draw near. My gracious lady saw all that passed from the window, but all at once she left it. She, however, came back to it again before I had time even humbly to draw near to my gracious lord, and beckoned to my child, and held a cake out of the window for her. On my telling her, she ran up to the window, but her Princely Highness could not reach so low nor she so high above her as to take it, wherefore my gracious lady commanded her to come up into the castle, and as she looked anxiously round after me, motioned me also, as did my gracious lord himself, who presently took the timid little maid by the hand and went up with his Princely Highness the Duke Bogislaff. My gracious lady came to meet us at the door, and caressed and embraced my little daughter, so that she soon grew quite bold and ate the cake. When my gracious lord had asked me my name, item, why I had in so singular a manner taught my daughter the Latin tongue, I answered that I had heard much from a cousin at Cologne of Maria Schurman, and as I had observed a very excellent ingenium in my child, and also had time enough in my lonely cure, I did not hesitate to take her in hand, and teach her from her youth up, seeing I had no boy alive. Hereat their Princely Highnesses marvelled greatly, and put some more questions to her in Latin, which she answered without any prompting from me. Whereupon my gracious lord Duke Philippus said in the vulgar tongue, "When thou art grown up and art one day to be married, tell it to me, and thou shall then have another ring from me, and whatsoever else pertains to a bride, for thou hast this day done me good service, seeing that this ring is a precious jewel to me, as I had it from my wife." Hereupon I whispered her to kiss his Princely Highness' hand for such a promise, and so she did.
(But alas! most gracious God, it is one thing to promise, and quite another to hold. Where is his Princely Highness at this time? Wherefore let me ever keep in mind that "thou only art faithful, and that which thou hast promised thou wilt surely hold." Psalm xxxiii. 4. Amen.)
Item. When his Princely Highness had also inquired concerning myself and my cure, and heard that I was of ancient and noble family, and my salarium very small, he called from the window to his chancellor, D. Rungius, who stood without, looking at the sun-dial, and told him that I was to have an addition from the convent at Pudgla, item from the crown-lands at Ernsthoff, as I mentioned above; but, more's the pity, I never have received the same, although the instrumentum donationis was sent me soon after by his Princely Highness' chancellor.
Then cakes were brought for me also, item, a glass of foreign wine in a glass painted with armorial bearings, whereupon I humbly took my leave, together with my daughter.
However, to come back to my bargain, anybody may guess what joy my child felt when I showed her the fair ducats and florins I had gotten for the amber. To the maid, however, we said that we had inherited such riches from my brother in Holland; and after we had again given thanks to the Lord on our knees, and eaten our dinner, we bought in a great store of bread, salt, meat, and stock-fish: item, of clothes, seeing that I provided what was needful for us three throughout the winter from the cloth-merchant. Moreover, for my daughter I bought a hair-net and a scarlet silk bodice, with a black apron and white petticoat, item, a fine pair of earrings, as she begged hard for them; and as soon as I had ordered the needful from the cordwainer we set out on our way homewards, as it began to grow very dark; but we could not carry nearly all we had bought. Wherefore we were forced to get a peasant from Bannemin to help us, who likewise was come into the town; and as I found out from him that the fellow who gave me the piece of bread was a poor cotter called Pantermehl, who dwelt in the village by the roadside, I shoved a couple of loaves in at his house-door without his knowing it, and we went on our way by the bright moonlight, so that by the help of God we got home about ten o'clock at night. I likewise gave a loaf to the other fellow, though truly he deserved it not, seeing that he would go with us no further than to Zitze. But I let him go, for I, too, had not deserved that the Lord should so greatly bless me.
The Eleventh Chapter
HOW I FED ALL THE CONGREGATION: ITEM, HOW I JOURNEYED TO THE HORSE FAIR AT GUeTZKOW, AND WHAT BEFELL ME THERE
Next morning my daughter cut up the blessed bread, and sent to every one in the village a good large piece. But as we saw that our store would soon run low, we sent the maid with a truck, which we bought of Adam Lempken, to Wolgast to buy more bread, which she did. Item, I gave notice throughout the parish that on Sunday next I should administer the blessed sacrament, and in the meantime I bought up all the large fish that the people of the village had caught. And when the blessed Sunday was come I first heard the confessions of the whole parish, and after that I preached a sermon on Matt. xv. 32—"I have compassion on the multitude ... for they have nothing to eat." I first applied the same to spiritual food only, and there arose a great sighing from both the men and the women, when, at the end, I pointed to the altar, whereon stood the blessed food for the soul, and repeated the words, "I have compassion on the multitude ... for they have nothing to eat." (N.B.—The pewter cup I had borrowed at Wolgast, and bought there a little earthenware plate for a paten till such time as Master Bloom should have made ready the silver cup and paten I had bespoke.) Thereupon as soon as I had consecrated and administered the blessed sacrament, item, led the closing hymn, and every one had silently prayed his "Our Father" before going out of church, I came out of the confessional again, and motioned the people to stay yet a while, as the blessed Saviour would feed not only their souls, but their bodies also, seeing that he still had the same compassion on his people as of old on the people at the Sea of Galilee, as they should presently see. Then I went into the tower and fetched out two baskets which the maid had bought at Wolgast, and which I had hidden there in good time; set them down in front of the altar, and took off the napkins with which they were covered, whereupon a very loud shout arose, inasmuch as they saw one filled with broiled fish and the other with bread, which we had put into them privately. Hereupon, like our Saviour, I gave thanks and brake it, and gave it to the churchwarden Hinrich Seden, that he might distribute it among the men, and to my daughter for the women. Whereupon I made application of the text, "I have compassion on the multitude ... for they have nothing to eat," to the food of the body also; and walking up and down in the church, amid great outcries from all, I exhorted them alway to trust in God's mercy, to pray without ceasing, to work diligently, and to consent to no sin. What was left I made them gather up for their children and the old people who were left at home.