Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

the young lord to be a wiser man, and now could not but se that he was an Atheist. He guessed what my thoughts were and with a smile he answered me by asking whether I had eve read Johannes Wierus,* who would hear nothing of witchcraft and who argued that all witches were melancholy persons wh only imagined to themselves that they had a pactum with th devil; and that to him they seemed more worthy of pity thai of punishment? Hereupon I answered that I had not indeed read any such book (for say, who can read all that fools write ?) but that the appearances here and in all other places proved thai it was a monstrous error to deny the reality of witchcraft, inas. much as people might then likewise deny that there were such things as murder, adultery, and theft.

But he called my argumentum a dilemma, and after he had discoursed a great deal of the devil, all of which I have forgotten, seeing it savoured strangely of heresy, he said he would relate to me a piece of witchcraft which he himself had seen at Wittenberg:

It seems that one morning, as an Imperial captain mounted his good charger at the Elstergate in order to review his company, the horse presently began to rage furiously, reared, tossed his head, snorted, kicked, and roared not as horses use to neigh, but with a sound as though the voice came from a human throat, so that all the folks were amazed, and thought the horse bewitched. It presently threw the captain and crushed his head with its hoof, so that he lay writhing on the ground, and straightway set off at full speed. Hereupon a trooper fired his carabine at the bewitched horse, which fell in the midst of the road, and presently died. That he, Rüdiger, had then drawn near, together with many others, seeing that the colonel had forthwith given orders to the surgeon of the regiment to cut open the horse and see in what state it was inwardly. However, that everything was quite right, and both the surgeon and army physician testified that the

* A Netherland physician, who, long before Spee or Thomasius, attacked the wicked follies of the belief in witchcraft prevalent in his time in the paper entitled • Confutatio opinionum de magorum Dæmonomia,' Frankfort, 1590, and was therefore denounced by Bodinus and others as one of the worst magicians. It is curious that this liberal man had in another book, · De prestigiis Damonum,' taught the method of raising devils, and described the whole of Hell, with the names and surnames of its 572 princes.

horse was thoroughly sound ; whereupon all the people cried out more than ever about witchcraft. Meanwhile he himself (I mean the young nobilis) saw a thin smoke coming out from the horse's nostrils, and on stooping down to look what it might be, he drew out a match as long as my finger, which still smouldered, and which some wicked fellow had privately thrust into its nose with a pin. Hereupon all thoughts of witchcraft were at an end, and search was made for the culprit, who was presently found to be no other than the captain's own groom. For one day that his master had dusted his jacket for him he swore an oath that he would have his revenge, which indeed the provost-marshal himself had heard as he chanced to be standing in the stable. Item, another soldier bore witness that he had seen the fellow cut a piece off the fuse not long before he led out his master's horse. And thus, thought the young lord, would it be with all witchcraft if it were sifted to the bottom; like as I myself had seen at Gützkow, where the devil's apparition turned out to be a cordwainer, and that one day I should own that it was the same sort of thing here in our village. By reason of this speech I liked not the young nobleman from that hour forward, believing him to be an Atheist. Though, indeed, afterwards, I have had cause to see that he was in the right, more 's the pity, for had it not been for him what would have become of my daughter?

But I will say nothing beforehand.-Summa: I walked about the room in great displeasure at his words, while the young lord began to argue with my daughter upon witchcraft, now in Latin, and now in the vulgar tongue, as the words came into his mouth, and wanted to hear her mind about it. But she answered that she was a foolish thing, and could have no opinion on the matter ; but that, nevertheless, she believed that what happened in the village could not be by natural means. Hereupon the maid called me out of the room (I forget what she wanted of me); but when I came back again my daughter was as red as scarlet, and the nobleman stood close before her. I therefore asked her, as soon as he had ridden off, whether any thing had happened, which she at first denied, but afterwards owned that he had said to her while I was gone, that he knew but one person who could bewitch ; and when she asked him who that person was, he caught hold of her hand

and said, “ It is yourself, sweet maid; for you have thrown a spell upon my heart, as I feel right well !" But that he said nothing further, but only gazed on her face with eager eyes, and this it was that made her so red.

But this is the way with maidens; they ever have their secrets if one's back is turned but for a minute; and the proverb

“ To drive a goose and watch a maid

Needs the devil himself to aid” is but too true, as will be shown hereafter, more's the pity!

CHAPTER XIV.

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 nioment 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

not 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

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »