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How old Seden disappeared all on a sudden; item, how the great Gustavus
Adolphus came to Pomerania, and took the fort at Peenemünde.
We were now left for some time in peace from witchcraft; unless, indeed, I reckon the caterpillars, which miserably destroyed my orchard, and which truly were a strange thing. For the trees blossomed so fair and sweetly, that one day as we were walking under them, and praising the almighty power of the most merciful God, my child said, “If the Lord goes on to bless us so abundantly, it will be Christmas Eve with us every night of next winter !” But things soon fell out far otherwise. For all in a moment the trees were covered with such swarms of caterpillars (great and small, and of every shape and colour), that one might have measured them by the bushel ; and before long my poor trees looked like brooms; and the blessed fruit, which was so well set, all fell off, and was scarce good enough for the pigs. I do not choose to lay this to any one, though I had my own private thoughts upon the matter, and have them yet. However, my barley, whereof I had sown about three bushels out on the common, shot up bravely. On my field I had sown nothing, seeing that I dreaded the malice of Satan. Neither was corn at all plentiful throughout the parish, in part because they had sown no winter crops, and in part because the summer crops did not prosper. However, in all the villages, a great supply of fish was caught by the mercy of God, especially herring; but they were very low in price. Moreover, they killed many seals ; and at Whitsuntide I myself killed one as I walked by the sea with my daughter. The creature lay on a rock close to the water, snoring like a Christian. Thereupon I pulled off my shoes and drew near him softly, so that he heard me not, and then struck him over his nose with my staff (for a seal cannot bear much on his nose), so that he tumbled over into the water ; but he was quite stunned, and I could easily kill him outright. It was a fat beast, though
very large; and we melted forty pots of train-oil out of his fat, which we put by for a winter store.
Meanwhile, however, something seized old Seden all at once, so that he wished to receive the holy sacrament. When I went to him, he could give no reason for it ; or perhaps he would give none for fear of his old Lizzie, who was always watching him with her squinting eyes, and would not leave the room. However, Zuter his little girl, a child near twelve years old, said that a few days before, while she was plucking grass for the cattle under the garden hedge by the road, she heard the husband and wife quarrelling violently again, and that the goodman threw in her teeth that he now knew of a certainty that she had a familiar spirit, and that he would straightway go and tell it to the priest. Albeit this is only a child's tale, it may be true for all that, seeing that children and fools, they say, speak the truth.
But be that as it may. Summa: my old warden grew worse and worse; and though I visited him every morning and evening, as I use to do to my sick, in order to pray with him, and often observed that he had somewhat on his mind, nevertheless he could not disburthen himself of it, seeing that old Lizzie never left her post.
This went on for a while, when at last one day about noon, he sent to beg me to scrape a little silver off the new sacramental cup, because he had been told that he should get better if he took it mixed with the dung' of fowls. For some time I would not consent, seeing that I straightway suspected that there was some devilish mischief behind it; but he begged and prayed, till I did as he would have me.
And lo and behold, he mended from that very hour, so that when I went to pray with him at evening, I found him already sitting on the bench with a bowl between his knees, out of which he was supping broth. However, he would not pray (which was strange, seeing that he used to pray so gladly, and often could not wait patiently for my coming, insomuch that he sent after me two or three times if I was not at hand, or elsewhere employed), but he told me he had prayed already, and that he would give me the cock whose dung he had taken, for my trouble, as it was a fine large cock, and he had nothing better to offer for my Sunday's dinner. And as the poultry was by this time gone to
roost he went up to the perch which was behind the stove, and reached down the cock, and put it under the arm of the maid, who was just come to call me away.
Not for all the world, however, would I have eaten the cock, but I turned it out to breed. I went to him once more and asked whether I should give thanks to the Lord next Sunday, for his recovery; whereupon he answered that I might do as I pleased in the matter. Hereat I shook my head, and left the house, resolving to send for him as soon as ever I should hear that his old Lizzie was from home (for she often went to fetch flax to spin from the Sheriff). But mark what befel within à few days! We heard an outcry that old Seden was missing, and that no one could tell what had become of him. His wife thought he had gone up into the Streckelberg, whereupon the accursed witch ran howling to our house and asked my daughter whether she had not seen anything of her goodman, seeing that she went up the mountain every day. My daughter said she had not; but, woe is me, she was soon to hear enough of him. For one morning, before sunrise, as she came down into the wood on her way back from her forbidden digging after amber, she heard a woodpecker (which, no doubt, was old Lizzie herself), crying so dolefully, close beside her, that she went in among the bushes to see what was the matter. There was the woodpecker, sitting on the ground before a bunch of hair, which was red, and just like what old Seden's had been, and as soon as it espied her it flew up with its beak full of the hair, and slipped into a hollow trée. While my daughter still stood looking at this devil's work, up came old Paasch, who also had heard the cries of the woodpecker, as he was cutting roofing shingles on the mountain, with his boy, and was likewise struck with horror when he saw the hair on the ground. At first they thought a wolf must have eaten him, and searched all about, but could not find a single bone. On looking up they fancied they saw something red at
top of the tree, so they made the boy climb up, and he forthwith cried out that here, too, there was a great bunch of red hair, stuck to some leaves as if with pitch, but that it was not pitch, but something speckled red and white, like fish-guts; item, that the leaves all around, even where there was no hair, were stained and spotted, and had a very ill smell. Hereupon
the lad, at his master's bidding, threw down the clotted branch, and they two below straightway judged that this was the hair and brains of old Seden, and that the devil had carried him off bodily, because he would not pray nor give thanks to the Lord for his recovery. I myself believed the same, and told it on the Sunday as a warning to the congregation. But further on it will be seen that the Lord had yet greater cause for giving him into the hands of Satan, inasmuch as he had been talked over by his wicked wife to renounce his Maker, in the hopes of getting better. Now, however, this devil's whore did as if her heart was broken, tearing out her red hair by whole handsful when she heard about the woodpecker from my child and old Paasch, and bewailing that she was now a poor widow, and who was to take care of her for the future, &c.
Meanwhile we celebrated on this barren shore, as best we could and might, together with the whole Protestant church, the 25th day mensis Junii, whereon, one hundred years ago, the Estates of the holy Roman empire laid their confession before the most high and mighty emperor Carolus V., at Augsburg; and I preached a sermon on Matt. x. 32, of the right confession of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, whereupon the whole congregation came to the Sacrament. Now towards the evening of the self-same day, as walked with my daughter by the sea-shore, we saw several hundred sail of ships, both great and small, round about Ruden, and plainly heard firing, whereupon we judged forthwith that this must be the most high and mighty king Gustavus Adolphus, who was now coming, as he had promised, to the aid of poor persecuted Christendom. While we were still debating a boat sailed towards us from Oie,* wherein was Kate Berow her
son, who is a farmer there, and was coming to see his old mother. The same told us that it really was the king, who had this morning run before Ruden with his fleet from Rügen ; that a few men of Oie were fishing there at the time, and saw how he went ashore with his officers, and straightway bared his head and fell upon
his knees.t Thus, then, most gracious God, did I thy unworthy servant enjoy a still greater happiness and delight that blessed evening * Ruden and Oie, two small islands between Usedom and Rügen.
† See also the · Theatrum Europeum,' p. 226 A.
than I had done on the blessed morn; and any one may think that I delayed not for a moment to fall
my knees with my child, and to follow the example of the king ; and God knows I never in my life prayed so fervently as that evening, whereon the Lord showed such a wondrous sign upon us as to cause the deliverer of his poor Christian people to come among them on the very day when they had everywhere called upon him, on their knees, for his gracious help against the murderous wiles of the Pope and the Devil. That night I could not sleep for joy, but went quite early in the morning to Damerow, where something had befallen Vithe his boy. I supposed that he, too, was bewitched ; but this time it was not witchcraft, seeing that the boy had eaten something unwholesome in the forest. He could not tell what kind of berries they were, but the malum, which turned all his skin bright scarlet, soon passed over. As I therefore was returning home shortly after, I met a messenger from Peenemünde, whom his Majesty the high and mighty king Gustavus Adolphus had sent to tell the Sheriff that on the 29th of June, at ten o'clock in the morning, he was to send three guides to meet his Majesty at Coserow, and to guide him through the woods to Swine, where the Imperialists were encamped. Item, he related how his Majesty had taken the fort at Peenemünde yesterday (doubtless the cause of the firing we heard last evening), and that the Imperialists had run away as fast as they could, and played the bush-ranger properly, for after setting their camp on fire they all fled into the woods and coppices, and part escaped to Wolgast and part to Swine.
Straightway I resolved in my joy to invent a carmen gratulatorium to his Majesty, whom, by the grace of Almighty God, I was to see, the which my little daughter might present to him.
I accordingly proposed it to her as soon as I got home, and she straightway fell on my neck for joy, and then began to dance about the room. But when she had considered a little, she thought her clothes were not good enough to wear before his Majesty, and that I should buy her a blue silk gown, with a yellow apron, seeing that these were the Swedish colours, and would please his Majesty right well. For a long time I would not, seeing that I hate this kind of pride; but she teased me with her kisses and coaxing words, till I, like an old fool, said yes, and ordered my ploughman to drive her over to Wolgast