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That his son, Rüdiger, had indeed at times, when he went that way, been to see Pastor Schweidler, whom he had first known upon a journey; but that he swore that he wished he might turn black if he had ever used any folly or jesting with the cursed devil's whore his daughter; much less ever been with her by night on the Streckelberg, or embraced her there.
At this dreadful news we both (I mean my child and I) fell down in a swound together, seeing that we had rested our last hopes on the young lord ; and I know not what further happened. For when I came to myself, my host, Conrad Seep, was standing over me, holding a funnel between my teeth, through which he ladled some warm beer down my throat, and I never felt more wretched in all my life; insomuch that Master Seep had to undress me like a little child, and to help me into bed.
Of the malice of the Governor and of old Lizzie: item, of the examination
The next morning my hairs, which till datum had been mingled with grey, were white as snow, albeit the Lord otherwise blessed me wondrously. For near daybreak a nightingale flew into the elder-bush beneath my window, and sang so sweetly that straightway I thought it must be a good angel. For after I had hearkened awhile to it, I was all at once able again to pray, which since last Sunday I could not do; and the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ began to speak within me, “ Abba, Father;"* and straightway I was of good cheer, trusting that God would once more be gracious unto me his wretched child; and when I had given him thanks for such great mercy, I fell into a refreshing slumber, and slept so long that the blessed sun stood high in the heavens when I awoke. And seeing that my heart was still of good cheer, I sat up in
sang with a loud voice, “ Be not dismayed, thou little flock :" whereupon Master Seep came into the room, thinking I had called him. But he stood reverently waiting till I had done ; and after marvelling at my snow-white hair, he told me it was already seven ; item, that half my congregation, among others my ploughman, Claus Neels, were already assembled in his house to bear witness that day. When I heard this, I bade mine host forthwith send Claus to the castle, to ask when the court would open, and he brought word back that no one knew, seeing that Dom. Consul was already gone that morning to Mellenthin to see old Nienkerken, and was not yet come back. This message gave me good courage, and I asked the fellow whether he also had come to bear witness against my poor child ? To which he answered, “Nay, I know naught save good of her, and I would give the fellows their due, only”—
my bed, and
* Gal. iv. 6.
These words surprised me, and I vehemently urged him to open his heart to me. But he began to weep, and at last said that he knew nothing. Alas! he knew but too much, and could then have saved my poor child if he had willed. But from fear of the torture he held his peace, as he since owned ; and I will here relate what had befallen him that very morning.
He had set out betimes that morning, so as to be alone with his sweetheart, who was to go along with him (she is Steffen of Zempin his daughter, not farmer Steffen, but the lame gouty Steffen), and had got to Pudgla abont five, where he found no one in the ale-house save old Lizzie Kolken, who straightway hobbled up to the castle ; and when his sweetheart was gone home again, time hung heavy on his hands, and he climbed over the wall into the castle-garden, where he threw himself on his face behind a hedge to sleep. But before long the Sheriff came with old Lizzie, and after they had looked all round and seen no one, they went into an arbour close by him, and conversed as follows :
Ille. Now that they were alone together, what did she want of him?
Illa. She came to get the money for the witchcraft she had contrived in the village.
Ille. Of what use had all this witchcraft been to him? My child, so far from being frightened, defied him more and more ; and he doubted whether he should ever have his will of her.
Illa. He should only have patience; when she was laid upon the rack she would soon learn to be fond.
Ille. That might be, but till then she (Lizzie) should get no money.
Illa. What! Must she then do his cattle a mischief?
Ille. Yes, if she felt chilly, and wanted a burning faggot to warm her podex, she had better. Moreover, he thought that she had bewitched him, seeing that his desire for the parson's daughter was such as he had never felt before.
Illa (laughing). He had said the same thing some thirty years ago, when he first came after her.
Ille. Ugh! thou old baggage, don't remind me of such things, but see to it that you get three witnesses, as I told you
before, or else methinks they will rack your old joints for you after all.
Illa. She had the three witnesses ready, and would leave the rest to him. But that if she were racked she would reveal all she knew.
Ille. She should hold her ugly tongue, and go to the devil. Illa. So she would, but first she must have her money.
Ille. She should have no money till he had had his will of my daughter.
Illa. He might at least pay her for her little pig which she herself had bewitched to death, in order that she might not get into evil repute.
Ille. She might choose one when his pigs were driven by, and say she had paid for it. Hereupon, said my Claus, the pigs were driven by, and one ran into the garden, the door being open, and as the swineherd followed it, they parted; but the witch muttered to herself, “Now help, devil, help, that I may but he heard no further.
The cowardly fellow, however, hid all this from me, as I have said above, and only said, with tears, that he knew nothing. I believed him, and sat down at the window to see when Dom. Consul should return; and when I saw him I rose and went to the castle, where the constable, who was already there with my child, met me before the judgment-chamber. Alas ! she looked more joyful than I had seen her for a long time, and smiled at me with her sweet little mouth : but when she saw my snowwhite hair, she gave a cry, which made Dom. Consul throw open the door of the judgment-chamber, and say, “Ha, ha! thou knowest well what news I have brought thee; come in, thou stubborn devil's brat!” Whereupon we stepped into the chamber to him, and he lift up his voice and spake to me, after he had sat down with the Sheriff, who was by.
He said that yestereven, after he had caused me to be carried like one dead to Master Seep his ale-house, and that my stubborn child had been brought to life again, he had once more adjured her, to the utmost of his power, no longer to lie before the face of the living God, but to confess the truth; whereupon she had borne herself very unruly, and had wrung her hands and wept and sobbed, and at last answered that the young nobilis ne.er
could have said such things, but that his father must have written them, who hated her, as she had plainly seen when the Swedish king was at Coserow. That he, Dom. Consul, had indeed doubted the truth of this at the time, but as a just judge had gone that inorning right early with the scriba to Mellenthin, to question the young lord himself.
That I might now see myself what horrible malice was in my daughter. For that the old knight had led him to his son's bedside, who still lay sick from vexation, and that he had confirmed all his father had written, and had cursed the scandalous she-devil (as he called my daughter) for seeking to rob him of his knightly honour. “What sayest thou now?” he continued ; “wilt thou still deny thy great wickedness ? See here the protocollum which the young
lord hạth signed manu propriâ !" But the wretched maid had meanwhile fallen on the ground again, and the constable had no sooner seen this than he ran into the kitchen, and came back with a burning brimstone match, which he was about to hold under her nose.
But I hindered him, and sprinkled her face with water, so that she opened her eyes, and raised herself up by a table. She then stood awhile, without saying a word or regarding my sorrow. At last she smiled sadly, and spake thus : That she clearly saw how true was that spoken by the Holy Ghost, “ Cursed be the man that trusteth in man;" * and that the faithlessness of the young lord had surely broken her poor heart if the all-merciful God had not graciously prevented him, and sent her a dream that night, which she would tell, not hoping to persuade the judges, but to raise up the white head of her poor
father. 66 After I had sat and watched all the night," quoth she, " towards morning I heard a nightingale sing in the castle-garden so sweetly that my eyes closed, and I slept. Then methought I was a lamb, grazing quietly in my meadow at Coserow. Suddenly the Sheriff jumped over the hedge, and turned into a wolf, who seized me in his jaws, and ran with me towards the Streckelberg, where he had his lair. I, poor little lamb, trembled and bleated in vain, and saw death before my eyes, when he laid me down before his lair, where lay the she-wolf and her young. But behold a hand, like the hand of a man,
* Jer. xvii. 5.