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How little Mary Paasch was sorely plagued of the devil, and the whole parish fell off from me.
BEFor E I proceed any further, I will first mark that the illustrious king Gustavus Adolphus, as we presently heard, had cut down the 300 Croats at Swine, and was thence gone by sea to Stettin. May God be for ever gracious to him Amen. But my sorrows increased from day to day, seeing that the devil now played pranks such as he never had played before. I had begun to think that the ears of God had hearkened to our ardent prayers, but it pleased him to try us yet more hardly than ever. For, a few days after the arrival of the most illustrious king Gustavus Adolphus, it was bruited about that my child her little god-daughter was possessed of the Evil One, and tumbled about most piteously on her bed, insomuch that no one was able to hold her. My child straightway went to see her little goddaughter, but presently came weeping home. Old Paasch would not suffer her even to come near her, but railed at her very angrily, and said that she should never come within his doors again, as his child had got the mischief from the white roll which she had given her that morning. It was true that my child had given her a roll, seeing that the maid had been, the day before, to Wolgast, and had brought back a napkin full of them. Such news vexed me sore, and after putting on my cassock I went to old Paasch his house, to exorcise the foul fiend, and to remove such disgrace from my child. I found the old man standing on the floor by the cockloft steps, weeping; and after I had spoken “The peace of God,” I asked him first of all, whether he really believed that his little Mary had been bewitched by means of the roll which my child had given her? He said “Yes!” And when I answered, that in that case, I also must have been bewitched, item Pagel his little girl, seeing that we Jooth had eaten of the rolls, he was silent, and asked me with a sigh, whether I would not go into the room, and see for myself how matters stood. I then entered with “The peace of God,” and found six people standing round little Mary her bed; her eyes were shut, and she was as stiff as a board; wherefore Kit Wels (who was a young and sturdy fellow) seized the little child by one leg, and held her out like a hedgestake, so that I might see how the devil plagued her. I now said a prayer, and Satan, perceiving that a servant of Christ was come, began to tear the child so fearfully that it was pitiful to behold; for she flung about her hands and feet so that four strong men were scarce able to hold her; item she was afflicted with extraordinary risings and fallings of her belly, as if a living creature were therein, so that at last the old witch Lizzie Kolken sat herself upon her belly, whereupon the child seemed to be somewhat better, and I told her to repeat the Apostles' Creed, so as to see whether it really were the devil who possessed her.” She straightway grew worse than before, and began to gnash her teeth, to roll her eyes, and to strike so hard with her hands and feet that she flung her father, who held one of her legs, right into the middle of the room, and then struck her foot so hard against the bedstead that the blood flowed, and Lizzie Kolken was thrown about on her belly as though she had been in a swing. And as I ceased not, but exorcised Satan that he should leave her, she began to howl and to bark like a dog, item to laugh, and spoke at last, with a gruff bass voice like an old man's, “I will not depart.” But he should soon have been forced to depart out of her, had not both father and mother besought me by God's holy Sacrament to leave their poor child in peace, seeing that nothing did her any good, but rather made her worse. I was therefore forced to desist, and only admonished the parents to seek for help like the Canaanitish woman, in true repentance and incessant prayer, and with her to sigh in constant faith, “Have mercy upon me, O Lord, thou son of David, my daughter is grievously vexed of a devil,” Matthew xv.; that the heart of our Lord would then melt, so that he would have mercy on their child, and command Satan to depart from
* It was imagined in those fearful times that when the sick person could repeat the three articles of belief, and especially some passages from the Bible bearing particular reference to the work of redemption, he was not
possessed, since “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”—1 Cor. xii. 3.
her. Item, I promised to pray for the little child on the following Sunday, with the whole congregation, and told them to bring her, if it were any ways possible, to the church, seeing that the ardent prayer of the whole congregation has power to rise beyond the clouds. This they promised to do, and I then went home sorely troubled, where I soon learned that she was somewhat better; thus it still is sure that Satan hates nothing so much, after the Lord Jesus, as the servants of the Gospel. But wait, and I shall even yet “bruise thy head with my heel” (Genesis, chap. iii.); naught shall avail thee. Howbeit, before the blessed Sunday came, I perceived that many of my people went out of my way, both in the village and elsewhere in the parish, where I went to visit sundry sick folks. When I went to Uekeritze to see young Tittelwitz, there even befel me as follows. Claus Pieper the peasant stood in his yard chopping wood, and on seeing me, he flung the axe out of his hand so hastily that it stuck in the ground, and he ran towards the pigstye, making the sign of the cross. I motioned him to stop, and asked why he thus ran from me, his confessor? Whether, peradventure, he also believed that my daughter had bewitched her little godchild? “Ille. Yes, he believed it, because the whole parish did. Ego. Why, then, had she been so kind to her formerly, and kept her like a sister, through the worst of the famine? Ille. This was not the only mischief she had done. Ego. What, then, had she done besides? Ille. That was all one to me. Ego. He should tell me, or I would complain to the magistrate. Ille. That I might do, if I pleased.” Whereupon he went his way, insolently. Any one may guess that I was not slow to enquire everywhere, what people thought my daughter had done; but no one would tell me anything, and I might have grieved to death at such evil reports. Moreover, not one child came during this whole week to school to my daughter; and when I sent out the maid to ask the reason, she brought back word that the children were ill, or that the parents wanted them for their work. I thought and thought, but all to no purpose, until the blessed Sunday came round, when I meant to have held a great Sacrament, seeing that many people had made known their intention to come to the Lord's table. It seemed strange to me that I saw no one standing, as was their wont, about the church door; I thought, however, that they might have gone into the houses. But when I went into the church with my daughter, there were not more than six people assembled, among whom was old Lizzie Kolken ; and the accursed witch no sooner saw my daughter follow me, than she made the sign of the cross, and ran out of the door under the steeple; whereupon the five others, among them mine own churchwarden Claus Bulken (I had not appointed any one in the room of old Seden), followed her. I was so horror-struck that my blood curdled, and I began to tremble, so that I fell with my shoulder against the confessional. My child, to whom I had as yet told nothing, in order to spare her, then asked me, “Father, what is the matter with all the people; are they, too, bewitched?” Whereupon I came to myself again, and went into the churchyard to look after them. But all were gone save my churchwarden Claus Bulken, who stood under the lime-tree, whistling to himself. I stepped up to him, and asked what had come to the people? whereupon he answered, he could not tell; and when I asked him again, why, then, he himself had left the church, he said, What was he to do there alone, seeing that no collection could be made? I then implored him to tell me the truth, and what horrid suspicion had arisen against me in the parish 2 But he answered, I should very soon find it out for myself; and he jumped over the wall and went into old Lizzie her house, which stands close by the churchyard. My child had made ready some veal broth for dinner, for which I mostly use to leave every thing else; but I could not swallow one spoonful, but sat resting my head on my hand, and doubted whether I should tell her or no. Meanwhile the old maid came in, ready for a journey, and with a bundle in her hand, and begged me with tears to give her leave to go. My poor child turned pale as a corpse, and asked in amaze what had come to her? but she merely answered, “Nothing !” and wiped her eyes with her apron. When I recovered my speech, which had wellnigh left me at seeing that this faithful old creature was also about to forsake me, I began to question her why she wished to go; she who had dwelt with me so long, and who would not forsake us even in the great famine, but had faithfully borne up against it, and indeed had humbled me by her faith, and had ex
horted me to stand out gallantly to the last, for which I should be grateful to her as long as I lived. Hereupon she merely wept and sobbed yet more, and at length brought out that she still had an old mother of eighty, living in Liepe, and that she wished to go and nurse her till her end. Hereupon my daughter jumped up, and answered with tears, “Alas, old Ilse, why wilt thou leave us, for thy mother is with thy brother? Do but tell me why thou wilt forsake me, and what harm have I done thee, that I may make it good to thee again.” But she hid her face in her apron, and sobbed, and could not get out a single word; whereupon my child drew away the apron from her face, and would have stroked her cheeks, to make her speak. But when Ilse saw this she struck my poor child's hand, and cried “Ugh !” spat out before her, and straightway went out at the door. Such a thing she had never done even when my child was a little girl, and we were both so shocked that we could neither of us say a word. Before long my poor child gave a loud cry, and cast herself upon the bench, weeping and wailing, “What has happened, what has happened?” I therefore thought I ought to tell her what I had heard, namely, that she was looked upon as a witch. Whereat she began to smile instead of weeping any more, and ran out of the door to overtake the maid, who had already left the house, as we had seen. She returned after an hour crying out that all the people in the village had run away from her, when she would have asked them whither the maid was gone. Item, the little children, for whom she had kept school, had screamed, and had hidden themselves from her : also no one would answer her a single word, but all spat out before her, as the maid had done. On her way home she had seen a boat on the water, and had run as fast as she could to the shore, and called with might and main after old Ilse, who was in the boat. But she had taken no notice of her, not even once to look round after her, but had motioned her to be gone. And now she went on to weep and to sob the whole day and the whole night, so that I was more miserable than even in the time of the great famine. But the worst was yet to come, as will be shown in the following chapter.