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Next day came old Seden his squint-eyed wife, limping like a lame dog, and put it to my daughter whether she would not go into the service of the Sheriff; praised him as a good and pious man; and vowed that all the world said of him were foul lies, as she herself could bear witness, seeing that she had lived in his service for above ten years. Item, she praised the good cheer they had there, and the handsome beer-money that the great lords who often lay there gave the servants which waited upon that she herself had more than once received a rosenoble from his Princely Highness Duke Ernest Ludewig; moreover, many pretty fellows came there, which might make her fortune, inasmuch as she was a fair woman, and might take her choice of a husband; whereas here in Coserow, where nobody ever came, she might wait till she was old and ugly, before she got a curch on her head, &c. Hereat my daughter was beyond measure angered, and answered, “ Ah! thou old witch, and who has told thee that I wish to go into service, to get a curch on my head ? Go thy ways, and never enter the house again, for I have naught to do with thee." Whereupon she walked away again, muttering between her teeth.
Scarce had a few days passed, and I was standing in the chamber with the glazier, who was putting in new windows, when I heard my daughter scream in the kitchen. Whereupon I straightway ran in thither, and was shocked and affrighted when I saw the Sheriff himself standing in the corner with his arm round my child her neck; he, however, presently let her go, and said: “Aha, reverend Abraham, what a coy little fool you have for a daughter! I wanted to greet her with a kiss, as I always use to do, and she struggled and cried out as if I had been some young fellow who had stolen in upon her, whereas I might be her father twice over.” As I answered naught, he went on to say that he had done it to encourage her, seeing that he desired to take her into his service, as indeed I knew, with more excuses of the same kind which I have forgot. Hereupon I pressed him to come into the room, seeing that after all he was the ruler set over me by God, and humbly asked what his lordship desired of me. Whereupon he answered me graciously, that it was true he had just cause for anger against me, seeing that I had preached at him before the whole congregation, but that he was ready to forgive
me and to have the complaint he hąd sent in contra me to his Princely Ilighness at Stettin, and which might easily cost me my place, returned to him if I would but do his will. And when I asked what his lordship’s will might be, and excused myself as best I might with regard to the sermon, he answered that he stood in great need of a faithful housekeeper whom he could set over the other women folk; and as he had learnt that my daughter was a faithful and trustworthy person, he would that I should send her into his service. " See there,” said he to her, and pinched her cheek the while. “ I want to lead you to honour, though you are such a young creature, and yet you cry out as if I were going to bring you to dishonour. Fie upon you ! (My child still remembers all this verbotenus ; I myself should have forgot it a hundred times over in all the wretchedness I since underwent.) But she was offended at his words, and, jumping up from her seat, she answered shortly, “ I thank your lordship for the honour, but will only keep house for my papa, which is a better honour for me;" whereupon he turned to me and asked what I said to that. I must own that I was not a little affrighted, inasmuch as I thought of the future and of the credit in which the Sheriff stood with his Princely Highness, I therefore answered with all humility, that I could not force my child, and that I loved to have her about me, seeing that my dear huswife had departed this life during the heavy pestilence, and I had no child but only her. That I hoped therefore his lordship would not be displeased with me, that I could not send her into his lordship's service. This angered him sore, and after disputing some time longer in vain he took leave, not without threats that he would make me pay for it. Item, my man, who was standing in the stable, heard him say as he went round the corner, “I will have her yet, in spite of him !"
I was already quite disheartened by all this, when, on the Sunday following, there came his huntsman Johannes Kurt, a tall, handsome fellow, and smartly dressed. Ile brought a roebuck tied before him on his horse, and said that his lordship had sent it to me for a present, in hopes that I would think better of his offer, seeing that he had been ever since seeking on all sides for a housekeeper in vain. Moreover, that if I changed my mind about it his lordship would speak for me to his Princely Highness, so that the dotation of Duķe Philippus Julius should be
paid to me out of the princely ærarium, &c. But the young fellow got the same answer as his master had done, and I desired him to take the roebuck away with him again. But this he refused to do ; and as I had by chance told him at first that game was my favourite meat, he promised to supply me with it abundantly, seeing that there was plenty of game in the forest, and that he often went a-hunting on the Streckelberg; moreover, that I (he meant my daughter) pleased him uncommonly, the more because I would not do his master's will, who, as he told me in confidence, would never leave any girl in peace, and certainly would not let my damsel alone. Although I had rejected his game, he brought it notwithstanding, and in the course of three weeks he was sure to come four or five times, and grew more and more sweet upon my daughter. He talked a vast deal about his good place, and how he was in search of a good huswife, whence we soon guessed what quarter the wind blew from. Ergo, my daughter told him that if he was seeking for a huswife she wondered that he lost his time in riding to Coserow to no purpose, for that she knew of no huswife for him there, which vexed him so sore that he never came again.
And now any one would think that the grapes were sour even for the Sheriff; nevertheless he came riding to us soon after, and without more ado asked my daughter in marriage for his hunts
Moreover, he promised to build him a house of his own in the forest; item, to give him pots and kettles, crockery, bedding, &c., seeing that he had stood godfather to the young fellow, who, moreover, had ever borne himself well during seven years he had been in his service. Hereupon my daughter answered that his lordship had already heard that she would keep house for nobody but her papa, and that she was still much too young to become a huswife.
This, however, did not seem to anger him, but, after he had talked a long time to no purpose, he took leave quite kindly, like a cat which pretends to let a mouse go, and creeps behind the corners, but she is not in earnest, and presently springs out upon it again. For doubtless he saw that he had set to work stupidly; wherefore he went away in order to begin his attack again after a better fashion, and Satan went with him, as whilom with Judas Iscariot.
What more happened during the Winter: item, how in the Spring witchcraft
began in the village.
Nothing else of note happened during the winter, save that the merciful God bestowed a great plenty of fish both from the Achterwater and the sea, and the parish again had good food; so that it might be said of us, as it is written, “ For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
Wherefore we were not weary of praising the Lord; and the whole congregation did much for the church, buying new pulpit and altar cloths, seeing that the enemy had stolen the old ones. Item, they desired to make good to me the money I had paid for the new cups, which, however, I would not take.
There were still, however, about ten peasants in the parish who had not been able to buy their seed-corn for the spring, inasmuch as they had spent all their earnings on cattle and corn for bread. I therefore made an agreement with them that I would lend them the money for it, and that if they could not repay me this year, they might the next, which offer they thankfully took; and we sent seven waggons to Friedland, in Mecklenburg, to fetch seed-corn for us all. For my beloved brotherin-law, Martin Behring, in Hamburg, had already sent me by the schipper Wulf, who had sailed home by Christmas, 700 florins for the amber : may the Lord prosper it with him!
Old Thiemcke died this winter in Loddin, who used to be the midwife in the parish, and had also brought my child into the world. Of late, however, she had had but little to do, seeing that in this year I only baptized two children, namely, Jung his son in Uekeritze, and Lene Hebers her little daughter, the same whom the Imperialists afterwards speared. Item, it was now full five years since I had married the last couple. Hence any one
* Isa. liv. 7.
may guess that I might have starved to death, had not the righteouş God so mercifully considered and blessed me in other ways. Wherefore to him alone be all honour and glory. Amen.
Meanwhile, however, it so happened that, not long after the Sheriff had last been here, witchcraft began in the village. I sat reading with my child the second book of Virgilius of the fearful destruction of the city of Troy, which was more terrible even than that of our own village, when a cry arose that our old neighbour Zabel his red cow, which he had bought only a few days before, had stretched out all fours, and seemed about to die; and this was the more strange as she had fed heartily but half an hour before. My child was therefore begged to go and pluck three hairs from its tail and bury them under the threshold of the stall; for it was well known that if this was done by a pure maid the cow would get better. My child then did as they would have her, seeing that she is the only maid in the whole village (for the others are still children); and the cow got better from that very hour, whereat all the folks were amazed. But it was not long before the same thing befell Witthahn her pig, whilst it was feeding heartily. She too came running to beg my child for God's sake to take compassion on her, and to do something for her pig, as ill men had bewitched it. Hereupon she had pity on her also; and it did as much good as it had done before. But the woman,
who was gravida, was straightway taken in labour from the fright; and my child was scarce out of the pigstye when the woman went into her cottage, wailing and holding by the wall, and called together all the women of the neighbourhood, seeing that the proper midwife was dead, as mentioned above; and before long something shot to the ground from under her ; and when the women stooped down to pick it up, the devil's imp, which had wings like a bat, flew up off the ground, whizzed and buzzed about the room, and then shot out of the window with a great noise, so that the glass clattered down into the street. When they looked after it, nothing was to be found. Any one may judge for himself what a great noise this made in all the neighbourhood. And the whole village believed that it was no one but old Seden his squint-eyed wife that had brought forth such a devil's brat.
But the people soon knew not what to believe. For that wo