Sidonia The Sorceress V1
Part 4 out of 8
So Sidonia replied to him that she was content; but, as regarded
the page's dress, he must leave it, about ten o'clock the next
night, upon the beer-barrel in the corridor, but not attempt to
bring it himself to her chamber. Concerning the manner in which
she was to meet him on the third night, had he forgotten that the
old castellan barred and bolted all that wing of the castle by
eleven o'clock, so that she could never leave the corridor by the
usual way; but there was a trapdoor near her little chamber which
led down into the ducal stables, and this door no one ever thought
of or minded--it was never bolted night or day, and was quite
large enough for a man to creep through. Her dear Prince might
wait for her, by that trap-door, at eleven o'clock on the
appointed night. He could not mistake it, for the large basket lay
close behind, in which her Grace kept her darling little kittens;
from thence they could easily get into the outer courtyard, which
was never locked, and, after that, go where they pleased. If he
approved of this arrangement, let him shoot another arrow into her
room; but, above all things, he was to keep at a distance from her
during the day, that her Grace might not suspect anything.
Having thrown the arrow out of the window, and received another in
answer from the Prince, which the artful hypocrite flung out as if
in great anger, she ran to Clara's room, and complained bitterly
how the young lord had broken her window, because, forsooth, he
must be shooting arrows at the bear; and so she had to come into
her room out of the cold air, until the glazier came to put in the
glass. When Clara asked how she could be so angry with the young
Prince--did she not love him any longer?--Sidonia replied, that
truly she had grown very tired of him, for he did nothing but sigh
and groan whenever he came near her, like an asthmatic old woman,
and had grown as thin and dry as a baked plum. There was nothing
very lovable about him now. Would to Heaven that he were quite
well, and she would soon bid farewell to the castle and every one
in it; but the moment she spoke of going his sickness returned, so
that she was obliged to remain, which was much against her
inclination; and this she might tell Clara in confidence, because
she had always been her truest friend.
Then she pretended to weep, and cursed her beauty, which had
brought her nothing but unhappiness; thereupon the tender-hearted
Clara began to comfort her, and kissed her; and the moment Sidonia
left her to get the glass mended, Clara ran to her Grace to tell
her the joyful tidings; but, alas! that very day the wickedness of
the artful maiden was brought to light. For what happened in the
afternoon? See, the nun of Crummyn steps out of a boat at the
little water-gate, and places herself in a corner of the
courtyard, where the people soon gather round in a crowd, to laugh
at her white garments and black scapulary; and the boys begin to
pelt the poor old mother with stones, and abuse her, calling her
the old Papist witch; but by good fortune the castellan comes by,
and commands the crowd to leave off tormenting her, and then asks
_Illa._--"She must speak instantly to her Grace the princely
So the old man brings her to her Grace, with whom Clara was still
conversing, and the old nun, after she had kneeled to the Duchess
and kissed her hand, began to relate how her young lord, Prince
Ernest, had been with her the night before, while she was keeping
the _vigilia_ of holy St. Bernard to the best of her ability,
and had urgently demanded to see the Lutheran priest named
Neigialink, and that when this same priest came into the church to
scold her, as was his wont, he and the Prince had retired into the
choir, and there held a long conversation which she did not
comprehend. But the priest's mistress had told her the whole
business this morning, under a promise of secrecy--namely, that
the priest, her leman, had promised to wed Prince Ernest
privately, on the third night from that, to a certain young damsel
named Sidonia von Bork. That the Prince had given him a thousand
gulden for his services, and a promise of a rich living when he
succeeded to the government, so that in future she could live as
grand as an abbess, and have what beautiful horses she chose from
the ducal stables.
"And this," said the nun, "was told me by the priest's mistress;
but as I have a true Pomeranian heart, although, indeed, the
Prince has left the good old religion, I could not rest in peace
until I stepped into a boat, weak and old as I am, and sailed off
here direct to inform your Grace of the plot." She only asked one
favour in return for her service. It was that her Grace would
permit her to end the rest of her days peaceably in the cloister,
and protect her from the harshness of the Lutheran priests and the
fury of the mob, who fell on her like mad dogs here in the castle
court, and would have torn her to pieces if the castellan had not
come by and rescued her. But above all, she requested and prayed
her Grace to permit a true priest to come to her from Grypswald,
who could give her the holy Eucharist, and prepare her for death.
But her Grace was struck dumb by astonishment and alarm, and Clara
could not speak either, only wrung her hands in anguish. And her
Grace continued to walk up and down the room weeping bitterly,
until at last she sat down before her desk to indite a note to old
Ulrich, praying for his presence without delay, and straightway
despatched the chief equerry, Appelmann, with it to Spantekow.
The old nun still continued crying, would not her Grace send her a
priest? But her Grace refused; for in fact she was a stern
upholder of the pure doctrine. Anything else the old mother
demanded she might have, but with the abominations of Popery her
Grace would have nothing to do. Still the old nun prayed and
writhed at her feet, crying and groaning, "For the love of God, a
priest! for the love of God, a priest!" but her Grace drew herself
up stiff and stern, and let the old woman writhe there unheeded,
until at length she motioned to Clara to have her removed to the
courtyard, where the poor creature leaned up against the pump in
bitter agony, and drew forth a crucifix from her bosom, kissed it,
and looking up to heaven, cried, "Jesu! Jesu! art Thou come at
last?" and then dropped down dead upon the pavement, which the
crowd no sooner observed than they gathered round the corpse,
screaming out, "The devil has carried her off! See! the devil has
carried off the old Papist witch!" Hearing the uproar, her Grace
descended, as did also the young lord and Sidonia, who both
appeared as if they knew nothing at all about the old nun. And her
Grace commanded that the executioner should by no means drag away
the body, as the people demanded, who were now rushing to the spot
from all quarters of the town, but that it should be decently
lifted into the boat and conveyed back again to Crummyn, there to
be interred with the other members of the sisterhood at the
No word did she speak, either to her undutiful son or to Sidonia,
about what she had heard; only when the latter asked her what the
nun came there for, she answered coldly, "For a Popish priest."
Hereupon the young Prince was filled with joy, concluding that
nothing had been betrayed as yet. And it was natural the old nun
should come with this request, seeing that she had made the same
to him. Her Grace also strictly charged Clara to observe a
profound silence upon all they had heard, until the old
chamberlain arrived, and this she promised.
_Of Ulrich's counsels--Item, how Clara von Dewitz came upon the
track of the ghost._
At eleven o'clock that same night, the good and loyal Lord Ulrich
arrived at the castle with Appelmann, from Spantekow, and just
waited to change his travelling dress before he proceeded to the
apartment of her Grace. He found her seated with Clara and another
maiden, weeping bitterly. Dr. Gerschovius was also present. When
the old man entered, her Grace's lamentations became yet
louder--alas! how she was afflicted! Who could have believed that
all this had come upon her because the devil, out of malice, had
made Dr. Luther drop her wedding-ring at the bridal! And when the
knight asked in alarm what had happened, she replied that tears
prevented her speaking, but Dr. Gerschovius would tell him all.
So the doctor related the whole affair, from the declaration of
the old nun to the hypocritical conduct of Sidonia towards Clara
von Dewitz, upon which the old knight shook his head, and said,
"Did I not counsel your Grace to let the young lord die, in God's
name, for better is it to lose life than honour. Had he died then,
so would the Almighty have raised him pure and perfect at the last
day, but now he is growing daily in wickedness as a young wolf in
Then her Grace made answer, the past could not now be recalled;
and that she was ready to answer before God for what she had done
through motherly love and tenderness. They must now advise her how
to save her infatuated son from the snares of this wanton. Dr.
Gerschovius, thereupon, gave it as his opinion that they should
each be placed in strict confinement for the next fourteen days,
during which time he would visit and admonish them twice a day, by
which means he hoped soon to turn their hearts to God.
Here old Ulrich laughed outright, and asked the doctor, was he
still bent upon teaching Sidonia her catechism? As to the young
lord, no admonition would do him good now; he was thoroughly
bewitched by the girl, and though he made a hundred promises to
give her up, would never hold one of them. Alas! alas! that the
son of good Duke Philip should be so degenerate.
But her Grace wept bitterly, and said, that never was there a more
obedient, docile, and amiable child than her dear Ernest; skilled
in all the fine arts, and gifted by nature with all that could
ensure a mother's love. "But how does all this help him now?"
cried Ulrich. "It is with a good heart as with a good ship, unless
you guide it, it will run aground--stand by the helm, or the best
ship will be lost. What had the country to expect from a Prince
who would die, forsooth? unless his mistress sat by his bedside?
Ah! if he could only have followed the funeral of the young lord,
he would have given a hundred florins to the poor that very day!"
"It was not her son's fault--that base hypocrite had caused it all
by some hell magic."
_Ille_.--"That was quite impossible; however, he would
believe it to please her Grace."
"Then let him speak his opinion, if the counsel of Dr. Gerschovius
did not please him."
_Ille_.--"His advice, then, was to keep quiet until the third
night, then secretly place a guard round the castle and at the
wing, and when the bridal party met, take them out prisoners, send
my young lord to the tower, but disgrace Sidonia publicly, and
send her off where she pleased--to the fiend, if she liked."
"Then they would have the same old scene over again; her son would
fall sick, and Sidonia could not be brought back to cure him, if
once she had been publicly disgraced before all the people. So
matters would be worse than ever."
Hereupon old Ulrich fell into such a rage that he cursed and
swore, that her Grace treated him no better than a fool, to bring
him hither from Spantekow, and then refuse to take his advice. As
to Sidonia, her Grace had already brought disgrace upon her
princely house, by first turning her out, and then praying her to
come back before three days had elapsed. All Pomerania talked of
it, and old Otto Bork did not scruple to brag and boast
everywhere, that her Grace had no peace or rest from her
conscience until she had asked forgiveness from the Lady Sidonia
(as the vain old knave called her) and entreated her to return.
Now if she took the advice of Doctor Gerschovius, and first
imprisoned and then turned away Sidonia, no one would believe in
her story of the intended marriage, but look on her conduct as
only a confirmation of all the hard treatment which her Grace was
reported to have employed towards the girl; whereas if she only
waited till the whole bridal party were ready to start, and then
arrested Sidonia, her Grace was justified before the whole world,
for what greater fault could be committed than thus to entrap the
young Prince into a secret marriage, and run away with him by
night from the castle? Let her Grace then send for the
executioner, and let him give Sidonia a public whipping before all
the people. No one would think the punishment too hard, for
seducing a Prince of Pomerania into a marriage with her.
So the princely widow of Duke Philip will be justified before all
the world; and when the young lord sees his bride so disgraced, he
will assuredly be right willing to give her up; even if he fall
sick, it is impossible that he could send for a maiden to sit by
his bed who had been publicly whipped by the executioner. Those
were stern measures, perhaps, but a branch of the old Pomeranian
tree was decayed; it must be lopped, or the whole tree itself
would soon fall.
When the Grand Chamberlain ceased speaking, her Grace considered
the matter well, and finally pronounced that she would follow his
advice, whereupon, as the night waxed late, she dismissed the
party to their beds, retaining only Clara with her for a little
But a strange thing happened as she, too, finally quitted her
Grace, and proceeded along the corridor to her own little
apartment--and here let every one consider how the hand of God is
in everything, and what great events He can bring forth from the
slightest causes, as a great oak springs up from a little acorn.
For as the maiden walked along, her sandal became unfastened, and
tripped her, so that she nearly fell upon her face, whereupon she
paused, and placing her foot upon a beer-barrel that stood against
the wall not far from Sidonia's chamber, began to fasten it, but
lo! just at that moment the head of the ghost appeared rising
through the trap-door, and looked round, then, as if aware of her
presence, drew back, and she heard a noise as if it had jumped
down on the earth beneath. She was horribly frightened, and crept
trembling to her bed; but then on reflecting over this apparition
of the serpent knight, it came into her head that it could not be
a ghost, since it came down on the ground with such a heavy jump;
she prayed to God, therefore, to help her in discovering this
matter, and as she could not sleep, rose before the first glimmer
of daylight to examine this hole which lay so close to Sidonia's
chamber, and there truly she discovered the trap-door, and having
opened, found that it lay right over a large coach in the ducal
stables; thereupon she concluded that the ghost was no other than
the Prince himself who thus visited Sidonia.
Then she remembered that the ghost had been particularly active
while the young Prince lay sick on his bed watched by his mother;
so to make the matter clearer she went the next evening into the
stables, and observing the coach, which lay just beneath the hole,
sprinkled fine ash-dust all round it. Then returning to her room,
she waited until it grew quite dark, and as ten o'clock struck and
all the doors of the corridor leading to the women's apartments
were barred and bolted, she wrapped herself in a black mantle and
stole out with a palpitating heart into the gallery. Remembering
the large beer-barrel near Sidonia's room, she crouched down
behind it, and from thence had a distinct view of the trap-door,
and also of Sidonia's chamber. There she waited for about an hour,
when she perceived the young Prince coming, but not through the
trap-door. He knocked lightly at Sidonia's door, who opened it
instantly, and they held a long whispering conversation together.
He had brought her the page's dress, and there was nothing to be
feared now, for he had examined the trap and found they could
easily get out through it on the top of the coach, and from thence
into the stables. After that the way was clear. Surely some good
angel had put the idea into her head. Then he kissed her tenderly.
_Illa_.--"What did the old nun come for? Could she have
_Hic_.--"Impossible. She did not know a syllable of their
affairs, and had come to ask his lady mother to send her a Popish
priest, as she had asked himself." Then he kissed her again, but
she tore herself from his arms, threw the little bundle into the
room, and shut the door in his face. Whereupon the young Prince
went his way, sighing as if his heart would break.
Now Clara concluded, with reason, that the young lord was not the
ghost, inasmuch as he did not creep through the trap-door, nor did
he wear helmet or cuirass, or any sort of disguise. But when she
heard Sidonia talk with such knowledge of the trap-door, she
guessed there was some knavery in the matter, and though she sat
the night there she was determined to watch. And behold! at twelve
o'clock there was a great clattering heard below, and presently a
helmet appeared rising through the hole, and then the entire
figure of the ghost clambered up through it, and after cautiously
looking round it, approached Sidonia's door, and knocked lightly.
Immediately she opened it herself, admitted the ghost, and Clara
heard her drawing the bolts of the door within.
The pious and chaste maiden felt ready to faint with shame; for it
was now evident that Sidonia deceived the poor young Prince as
well as every one else, and that this ghost whom she admitted must
be a favoured lover. She resolved to watch until he came out. But
it was about the dawn of morning before he again appeared, and
took his hellish path down through the trap-door, in the same way
as he had risen. But to make all certain she took a brush, and
before it was quite day, descended to the stables, where, indeed,
she observed large, heavy footprints in the ashes all round the
coach, quite unlike those which the delicate little feet of his
Highness would have made. So she swept them all clean away to
avoid exciting any suspicion, and crept back noiselessly to her
little room. Then waiting till the morning was somewhat advanced,
she despatched her maid on some errand into the town, in order to
get rid of her, and then watched anxiously for her bridegroom,
Marcus Bork, who always passed her door going to his office; and
hearing his step, she opened her door softly, and drew him in.
Then she related fully all she had heard and seen on the past
The upright and virtuous young man clasped his hands together in
horror and disgust, but could not resolve whether it were fitter
to declare the whole matter to her Highness instantly or not.
Clara, however, was of opinion that her Grace would derive great
comfort from the information, because when the Prince found how
Sidonia had betrayed him, he would give up the creature of his own
accord. To which Marcus answered, that probably the Prince would
not believe a word of the story, and then matters would be in a
worse way than ever.
_Illa_.--"Was he afraid to disgrace Sidonia because she was
his kinswoman? Was it the honour of his name he wished to shield
by sparing her from infamy?"
_Hic_.--"No; she wronged him. If she were his sister, he
would still do his duty towards her Grace. The honour of the whole
Pomeranian house was perilled here, and he would save it at any
cost. But did his darling bride know who the ghost was?"
_Illa_.--"No; she had been thinking the whole night about him
till her head ached, but in vain."
At this moment the Grand Chamberlain passed the room on his way to
the Duchess, and they both went to the door, and entreated him to
come in and give them his advice. How the old knight laughed for
joy when he heard all; it was almost as good news to him as the
death of the young lord would have been. But no; they must not
breathe a syllable of it to her Highness. Wait for this night, and
if the dear ghost appeared again, he would give him and his
paramour something to think of to the end of their lives. Then he
walked up and down Clara's little room, thinking over what should
be done; and finally resolved to open the matter to the young
Prince that night between ten and eleven o'clock, and show him
what a creature he was going to make Duchess of Pomerania. After
which they should all, Marcus included, go armed to the
stables--for the Prince, no doubt, would be slow of belief--and
there conceal themselves in the coach until the ghost arrived. If
he came, as was almost certain, they would follow him to Sidonia's
room, break it open, and discover them together. In order that
witnesses might not be wanting, he would desire all the pages and
household to be collected in his room at that hour; and the moment
they were certain of having trapped the ghost, Marcus should slip
out of the coach, and run to gather them all together in the grand
corridor. To ensure all this being done, he would take the keys
from the castellan himself that night, and keep them in his own
possession. But, above all things, they were to keep still and
quiet during the day; and now he would proceed to her Grace.
But Marcus Bork begged to ask him, if the ghost did not come that
night, what was to be done? For the next was to be that of the
marriage, and unless the Prince was convinced by his own eyes,
nothing would make him credit the wickedness of his intended
bride. Sidonia would swear by heaven and earth that the story was
a malicious invention, and a plot to effect her utter destruction.
This view of the case puzzled the old knight not a little, and he
rubbed his forehead and paced up and down the room, till suddenly
an idea struck him, and he exclaimed--"I have it, Marcus! You are
a brave youth, dear Marcus, and a loyal subject and servant to her
Grace. Your conduct will bring as much honour upon the noble name
of Bork as Sidonia's has brought disgrace. Therefore I will trust
you. Listen, Marcus. If the ghost does not appear to-night, then
you must ride the morrow morn to Crummyn. Bribe the priest with
gold. Tell him that he must write instantly to the young Prince,
saying, that the marriage must be delayed for eight days, for
there was no boat to be had safe enough to carry him and his bride
up the Haff, seeing that all the boats and their crews were
engaged at the fisheries, and would not be back to Crummyn until
the following Saturday. The young lord, therefore, must have
patience. Should the priest hesitate, then Marcus must threaten
him with the loss of his living, as the whole princely house
should be made acquainted with his villainy. He will then consent.
I know him well!
"If that is once arranged, then we shall seat ourselves every
night in the coach until the ghost comes; and, methinks, he will
not long delay, since hitherto he has managed his work with such
security and success."
The discreet and virtuous Marcus promised to obey Ulrich in all
things, and the Grand Chamberlain then went his way.
_How the horrible wickedness of Sidonia was made apparent; and
how in consequence thereof she was banished with ignominy from the
ducal court of Wolgast_.
The night came at last. And the Grand Chamberlain collected, as he
had said, all the officials and pages of the household together in
his office at the treasury, and bid them wait there until he
summoned them. No one was to leave the apartment under pain of his
severe displeasure. _Item_, he had prayed her Grace not to
retire to rest that night before twelve of the clock; and when she
asked wherefore, he replied that she would have to take leave of a
very remarkable visitor that night; upon which she desired to know
more, but he said that his word was passed not to reveal more. So
her Grace thought he meant himself, and promised to remain up.
As ten o'clock struck, the castellan locked, up, as was his wont,
all that portion of the castle leading to the women's apartments.
Whereupon Ulrich asked him for the keys, saying that he would keep
them in his own charge. Then he prayed his Serene Highness Prince
Ernest to accompany him to the lumber-room.
His Highness consented, and they both ascended in the dark. On
entering, Ulrich drew forth a dark lantern from beneath his cloak,
and made the light fall upon an old suit of armour. Then turning
to the Prince--"Do you know this armour?" he said.
"Ah, yes; it was the armour of his dearly beloved father, Duke
_Ille_.--"Right. Did he then remember the admonitions which
the wearer of this armour had uttered, upon his deathbed, to him
and his brothers?"
"Oh yes, well he remembered them; but what did this long sermon
_Ille_.--"This he would soon know. Had he not given his right
hand to the wearer of that armour, and pledged himself ever to set
a good example before the people committed to his rule?"
_Hic_.--"He did not know what all this meant. Had he even set
a bad example to his subjects?"
_Ille_.--"He was on the high-road to do it, when he had
resolved to wed himself secretly to a maiden beneath his rank.
(Here the young Prince became as pale as a corpse.) Let him deny,
if he could, that he had sworn by his father's corpse, with his
hand upon the coffin, to abandon Sidonia. He would not upbraid him
with his broken promises to him, but would he bring his loving
mother to her grave through shame and a broken heart? Would he
make himself on a level with the lowest of the people, by wedding
Sidonia the next night in the church at Crummyn?"
_Hic_.--"Had that accursed Catholic nun then betrayed him?
Ah, he was surrounded by spies and traitors; but if he could not
obtain Sidonia now, he would wed her the moment he was of age and
succeeded to the government. If he could in no way have Sidonia,
then he would never wed another woman, but remain single and a
dead branch for his whole life long. Her blood was as noble as his
own, and no devil should dare to part them."
_Ille.--"But if he could prove, this very night, to the young
lord, that Sidonia was not an honourable maiden, but a dishonoured
creature----" Here the young Prince drew his dagger and rushed
upon the old man, with lips foaming with rage; but Ulrich sprang
behind the armour of Duke Philip, and said calmly, "Ernest, if
thou wouldst murder me who have been so leal and faithful a
servant to thee and thine, then strike me dead here through the
links of thy father's cuirass."
And as the young man drew back with a deep groan, he
continued--"Hear me, before thou dost a deed which eternity will
not be long enough to repent. I cannot be angry with thee, for I
have been young myself, and would have stricken any one to the
earth who had called my own noble bride dishonoured. Listen to me,
then, and strike me afterwards, if thou wilt." Hereupon the old
knight stepped out from behind the armour, which was fixed upon a
wooden frame in the middle of the apartment, with the helmet
surmounting it, and leaning against the shoulder-piece, he
proceeded to relate all that Clara had seen and heard.
The young Prince turned first as red as scarlet, then pale as a
corpse, and sunk down upon a pile of old armour, unable to utter
anything but sighs and groans.
Ulrich then asked if he remembered the silly youth who had been
drowned lately in consequence of Sidonia's folly; for it was his
apparition in the armour he then wore which it was reported
haunted the castle. And did he remember also how that armour (in
which the poor young man's father also had been killed fighting
against the Bohemians) had been taken off the corpse and hung up
again in that lumber-room?
_Hic_.--"Of course he remembered all that; it had happened
too lately for him to forget the circumstance."
_Ille_.--"Well, then, let him take the lantern himself, and
see if the armour hung still upon the wall." So the young lord
took the lantern with trembling hands, and advanced to the place;
but no--there was no armour there now. Then he looked all round
the room, but the armour with the serpent crest was nowhere to be
seen. He dropped the lantern with a bitter execration. Hereupon
the old knight continued--"You see, my gracious Prince, that the
ghost must have flesh and blood, like you or me. The castellan
tells me that when the ghost first began his pranks, the helmet
and cuirass were still found every morning in their usual place
here. But for eight days they have not been forthcoming; for the
ghost, you see, is growing hardy and forgetting his usual
precautions. However, the castellan had determined to watch him,
and seize hold of him, for, as he rightly conjectured, a spirit
could not carry away a heavy iron suit of armour on him; but his
wife had dissuaded him from those measures up to the present time.
Come now to the stables with me," continued Ulrich, "and let us
conceal ourselves in the coach which I mentioned to you; Marcus
Bork shall accompany us, and let us wait there until the ghost
appears, and creeps through the trapdoor. After some time we shall
follow him; and then this wicked cheat will be detected. But
before we move, swear to me that you will await the issue
peaceably and calmly in the coach; you must neither sigh nor
groan, nor scarcely breathe. No matter what you hear or see, if
you cannot control your fierce, jealous rage, all will be lost."
Then the young Prince gave him his hand, and promised to keep
silence, though it should cost him his life, for no one could be
more anxious to discover the truth or falsehood of this matter
than he himself. So they both descended now to the courtyard,
Ulrich concealing the lantern under his mantle; and they crouched
along by the wall till they reached the horse-pond, where Marcus
Bork stood awaiting them; then they glided on, one by one, into
the stables, and concealed themselves within the coach.
It was well they did so without longer delay, for scarcely had
they been seated when the ghost appeared. No doubt he had heard of
the intended marriage, and wished to take advantage of his last
opportunity. As the sound of his feet became audible approaching
the coach, the Prince almost groaned audibly; but the stout old
knight threw one arm powerfully round his body, and placed the
hand of the other firmly over his mouth. The ghost now began to
ascend the coach, and they heard him clambering up the hind wheel;
he slipped down, however (a bad omen), and muttered a half-curse;
then, to help himself up better, he seized hold of the sash of the
window, and with it took a grip of Ulrich's beard, as he was
leaning close to the side of the coach to watch his proceedings.
Not a stir did the brave old knight make, but sat as still as
marble, and even held his breath, lest the ghost might feel it
warm upon his hand, and so discover their ambuscade.
At last he was up; and they heard him clattering over their heads,
then creeping through the trap-door into the corridor, and a
little after, the sound of a door gently opening.
All efforts were in vain to keep the Prince quiet. He must follow
him. He would rush through the trap-door after him, though it cost
him his life! But old Ulrich whispered in his ear, "Now I know
that Prince Ernest has neither honour nor discretion, and
Pomerania has little to hope from such a ruler." All in vain--he
springs out of the coach, but the knight after him, who hastily
gave Marcus Bork the keys of the castle, and bade him go fetch the
household, down to the menials, here to the gallery. Marcus took
them, and left the stables instantly. Then Ulrich seized the hand
of Prince Ernest, who was already on the top of the coach, and
asked him was it thus he would, leave an old man without any one
to assist him. Let him in first through the trap-door, while the
Prince held the lantern. To this he consented, and helped the old
knight up, who, having reached the trap-door, put his head
through; but, alas! the portly stomach of the stout old knight
would not follow. He stretched out his head, however, on every
side, as far as it could go, and heard distinctly low whispering
voices from Sidonia's little room; then a sound as of the tramp of
many feet became audible in the courtyard, by which he knew that
Marcus and the household were advancing rapidly.
But the young lord, who was waiting at the top of the coach, grew
impatient, and pulled him back, endeavouring to creep through the
hole himself. Praised be Heaven, however, this he failed to do
from weakness; so he was obliged to follow the Grand Chamberlain,
who whispered to him to come down, and they could reach the
corridor through the usual entrance. Hereupon they both left the
stables, and met Marcus in the courtyard with his company.
Then all ascended noiselessly to the gallery, and ranged
themselves around Sidonia's door. Ulrich now told eight of the
strongest carls present to step forward and lean their shoulders
against the door, but make no stir until he gave a sign; then when
he cried "Now!" they should burst it open with all their force.
As to the young Prince, he was trembling like an aspen leaf, and
his weakness was so great that two young men had to support him.
In short, as all present gradually stole closer and closer up to
the door of Sidonia's room, the old knight drew forth his lantern,
and signed to the men, who stood with their shoulders pressed
against it; then when all was ready, he cried "Now!" and the door
burst open with a loud crash. Every lock, and bar, and bolt
shivered to atoms, and in rushed the whole party, Ulrich at their
head, with his lantern lifted high up above them all.
Sidonia and her visitor were standing in the middle of the room.
Ulrich first flashed the light upon the face of the man. Who would
have believed it?--no other than Johann Appelmann! The knight hit
him a heavy blow across the face, exclaiming, "What! thou common
horse-jockey--thou low-born varlet--is it thus thou bringest
disgrace upon a maiden of the noblest house in Pomerania? Ha, thou
shalt be paid for this. Wait! Master Hansen shall give thee some
of his gentle love-touches this night!"
But meanwhile the young Prince had entered, and beheld Sidonia, as
she stood there trembling from shame, and endeavouring to cover
her face with her long, beautiful golden hair that fell almost to
her knees. "Sidonia!" he exclaimed, with a cry as bitter as if a
dagger had passed through his heart--"Sidonia!" and fell
insensible before her.
Now a great clamour arose amongst the crowd, for beside the couch
lay the helmet and cuirass of the ghost; so every one knew now who
it was that had played this trick on them for so long, and kept
the castle in such a state of terror.
Then they gathered round the poor young Prince, who lay there as
stiff as a corpse, and lamented over him with loud lamentations,
and some of them lifted him up to carry him out of the chamber;
but the Grand Chamberlain sternly commanded them to lay him down
again before his bride, whom he had arranged to wed privately at
Crummyn on the following night. Then seizing Sidonia by the hand,
and dashing back her long hair, he led her forward before all the
people, and said with a loud voice, "See here the illustrious and
high-born Lady Sidonia, of the holy Roman Empire, Duchess of
Pomerania, Cassuben, and Wenden, Princess of Rügen, Countess of
Gützkow, and our Serene and most Gracious Lady, how she honours
the princely house of Pomerania by sharing her love with this
stable groom, this tailor's son, this debauched profligate! Oh! I
could grow mad when I think of this disgrace. Thou shameless one!
have I not long ago given thee thy right name? But wait--the name
shall be branded on thee this night, so that all the world may
Just then her Grace entered with Clara, followed by all the other
maids of honour; for, hearing the noise and tumult, they had
hastened thither as they were, some half undressed, others with
only a loose night-robe flung round them. And her Grace, seeing
the young lord lying pale and insensible on the ground, wrung her
hands and cried out, "Who has killed my son? who has murdered my
Here stepped forward Ulrich, and said, "The young lord was not
dead; but, if it so pleased God, was in a fair way now to regain
both life and reason." Then he related all which had led to this
discovery; and how they had that night been themselves the
witnesses of Sidonia's wickedness with the false ghost. Now her
Grace knew his secret, which he had not told until certain of
As he related all these things, her Grace turned upon Sidonia and
spat on her; and the young lord, having recovered somewhat in
consequence of the water they had thrown on him, cried out,
"Sidonia! is it possible? No, Sidonia, it is not possible!"
The shameless hypocrite had now recovered her self-possession, and
would have denied all knowledge of Appelmann, saying that he
forced himself in when she chanced to open the door; but he,
interrupting her, cried, "Does the girl dare to lay all the blame
on me? Did you not press my hand there when you were lying after
you fell from the stag? Did you not meet me afterwards in the
lumber-room--that day of the hunt when Duke Barnim was here last?"
"No, no, no!" shrieked Sidonia. "It is a lie, an infamous lie!"
But he answered, "Scream as you will, you cannot deny that this
disguise of the ghost was your own invention to favour my visits
to you. Did you not drop notes for me down on the coach, through
the trap-door, fixing the nights when I might come? and bethink
you of last night, when you sent me a note by your maid, wrapped
up in a little horse-cloth which I had lent you for your cat, with
the prayer that I would not fail to be with you that night nor the
next"--Oh, just Heaven! to think that it was upon that very night
that Clara should break her shoe-string, by which means the
Almighty turned away ruin and disgrace from the ancient,
illustrious, and princely house of Pomerania--all by a broken
shoe-string! For if the ghost had remained away but that one
night, or Clara had not broken her shoestring, Sidonia would have
been Duchess of Pomerania; but what doth the Scripture say? "Man's
goings are of the Lord. What man understandeth his own way?"
(Prov. xx. 24).
When Sidonia heard him tell all this, and how she had written
notes of entreaty to him, she screamed aloud, and springing at him
like a wild-cat, buried her ten nails in his hair, shrieking,
"Thou liest, traitor; it is false! it is false!"
Now Ulrich rushed forward, and seized her by her long hair to part
them, but at that moment Master Hansen, the executioner, entered
in his red cloak, with six assistants (for Ulrich had privately
sent for him), and the Grand Chamberlain instantly let go his hold
of Sidonia, saying, "You come in good time, Master Hansen; take
away this wretched pair, lock them up in the bastion tower, and on
the morn bring them to the horse-market by ten of the clock, and
there scourge and brand them; then carry them both to the frontier
out of our good State of Wolgast, and let them both go their ways
from that, whither it may please them."
When Sidonia heard this, she let go her paramour and fell fainting
upon the bed; but recovering herself in a little time, she
exclaimed, "What is this you talk of? A noble maiden who is as
innocent as the child in its cradle, to be scourged by the common
executioner? Oh, is there no Christian heart here to take pity on
a poor, helpless girl! Gracious young Prince, even if all the
world hold me guilty, you cannot, no, you cannot; it is
Hereupon the young lord began to tremble like an aspen leaf, and
said in a broken voice, "Alas, Sidonia! you betrayed yourself: if
you had not mentioned that trap-door to me, I might still have
believed you innocent (I, who thought some good angel had guided
you to it!); now it is impossible; yet be comforted, the
executioner shall never scourge you nor brand you--you are branded
enough already." Then turning to the Grand Chamberlain he said,
that with his consent a hangman should never lay his hands upon
this nobly born maiden, whom he had once destined to be Duchess of
Pomerania; but Appelmann, this base-born vassal, who had eaten of
his bread and then betrayed him like a Judas, let him be flogged
and branded as much as they pleased; no word of his should save
the accursed seducer from punishment.
Notwithstanding this, old Ulrich was determined on having Sidonia
scourged, and my gracious lady the Duchess must have her scourged
too. "Let her dear son only think that if the all-merciful God had
not interposed, he would have been utterly ruined and his princely
house disgraced, by means of this girl. Nothing but evil had she
brought with her since first she set foot in the castle: she had
caused his sickness; item, the death of two young knights by
drowning; item, the terrible execution of Joachim Budde, who was
beheaded at the festival; and had she not, in addition, whipped
her dear little Casimir, which unseemly act had only lately come
to her knowledge? and had she not also made every man in the
castle that approached her mad for love of her, all by her
diabolical conduct? No--away with the wretch: she merits her
chastisement a thousand and a thousand-fold!" And old Ulrich
exclaimed likewise, "Away with the wretch and her paramour!"
Here the young lord made an effort to spring forward to save her,
but fell fainting on the ground; and while the attendants were
busy running for water to throw over him, Clara von Dewitz,
turning away the executioner with her hand from Sidonia, fell down
on her knees before her Grace, and besought her to spare at least
the person of the poor, unfortunate maiden; did her Grace think
that any punishment could exceed what she had already suffered?
Let her own compassionate heart plead along with her words--and
did not the Scripture say, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord."
Hereupon her Grace looked at old Ulrich without speaking; but he
understood her glance, and made answer--"No; the hangman must do
his duty towards the wretch!" when her Grace said mildly, "But for
the sake of this dear, good young maiden, I think we might let her
go, for, remember, if she had not opened out this villainy to us,
the creature would have been my daughter-in-law, and my princely
house disgraced for evermore."
Now Marcus Bork stepped forward, and added his prayers that the
noble name he bore might not be disgraced in Sidonia. "He had ever
been a faithful feudal vassal to her princely house, and had not
even scrupled to bring the secret wicked deeds of his cousin
before the light of day, though it was like a martyrdom of his own
flesh and blood for conscience' sake."
Here old Ulrich burst forth in great haste--"Seven thousand
devils! Let the wench be off, then. Not another night should she
rest in the castle. Let her speak--where would she go to? where
should they bring her to?"
And when Sidonia answered, sobbing, "To Stettin, to her gracious
lord, Duke Barnim, who would take pity on her because of her
innocence," Ulrich laughed outright in scorn. "I shall give the
driver a letter to him, and another to thy father. Perhaps his
Grace will show thee true pity, and drive thee with his horsewhip
to Stramehl. But thou shalt journey in the same coach whereon thy
leman clambered up to the trap-door, and Master Hansen shall sit
on the coach-box and drive thee himself. As to thy darling
stablegroom here, the master must set his mark on him before he
goes; but that can be done when the hangman returns from Stettin."
When Appelmann heard this, he fell at the feet of the Lord
Chamberlain, imploring him to let him off too. "Had he not ridden
to Spantekow, without stop or stay, at the peril of his life, to
oblige Lord Ulrich that time the Lapland wizard made the evil
prophecy; and though his illustrious lady died, yet that was from
no fault of his, and his lordship had then promised not to forget
him if he were but in need. So now he demanded, on the strength of
his knightly word, that a horse should be given him from the ducal
stables, and that he be permitted to go forth, free and scathless,
to ride wherever it might please him. His sins were truly heavy
upon him, and he would try and do better, with the help of God."
When the old knight heard him express himself in this godly sort
(for the knave knew his man well), he was melted to compassion,
and said, "Then go thy way, and God give thee grace to repent of
thy manifold sins."
Her Grace had nothing to object; only to put a fixed barrier
between the Prince and Sidonia, she added, "But send first for Dr.
Gerschovius, that he may unite this shameless pair in marriage
before they leave the castle, and then they can travel away
Hereupon Johann Appelmann exclaimed, "No, never! How could he hope
for God's grace to amend him, living with a thing like that, tied
to him for life, which God and man alike hold in abhorrence?" At
this speech Sidonia screamed aloud, "Thou lying and accursed
stable-groom, darest thou speak so of a castle and land dowered
maiden?" and she flew at him, and would have torn his hair, but
Marcus Bork seized hold of her round the waist, and dragged her
with great effort into Clara's room.
Now the tears poured from the eyes of her Grace at such a
disgraceful scene, and she turned to her son, who was slowly
recovering--"Hast thou heard, Ernest, this groom--this servant of
thine--refuses to take the girl to wife whom thou wast going to
make Duchess of Pomerania? Woe! woe! what words for thy poor
mother to hear; but it was all foreshadowed when Dr. Luther--" &c.
In short, the end of the infamous story was, that Sidonia was
carried off that very night in the identical coach we know of, and
Master Hansen was sent with her, bearing letters to the Duke and
Otto from the Grand Chamberlain, and one also to the burgomaster
Appelmann in Stargard; and the executioner had strict orders to
drive her himself the whole way to Stettin. As for Appelmann, he
sprung upon a Friesland clipper, as the old chamberlain had
permitted, and rode away that same night. But the young lord was
so ill from grief and shame, that he was lifted to his bed, and
all the _medici_ of Grypswald and Wolgast were summoned to
And such was the end of Sidonia von Bork at the ducal court of
Wolgast. But old Küssow told me that for a long while she was the
whole talk of the court and town, many wondering, though they knew
well her light behaviour, that she should give herself up to
perdition at last for a common groom, no better than a menial
compared to her. But I find the old proverb is true for her as
well as for another, "The apple falls close to the tree; as is the
sheep, so is the lamb;" for had her father brought her up in the
fear of God, in place of encouraging her in revenge, pride, and
haughtiness, Sidonia might have been a good and honoured wife for
her life long. But the libertine example of her father so
destroyed all natural instincts of modesty and maidenly reserve
within her, that she fell an easy prey to the first temptation.
In short, my gracious Prince Bogislaus XIV., as well as all those
who love and honour the illustrious house of Wolgast, will
devoutly thank God for having turned away this disgrace in a
manner so truly wonderful.
I have already spoken of the broken shoe-tie, but in addition, I
must point out that if Sidonia had counselled her paramour to take
the armour of Duke Philip, which hung in the same lumber-room, in
place of that belonging to the serpent knight, that wickedness
would never have come to light. For assuredly all in the castle
would have believed that it was truly the ghost of the dead duke,
who came to reproach his son for not holding the oath which he had
sworn on his coffin, to abandon Sidonia. And consequently, respect
and terror would have alike prevented any human soul in the castle
from daring to follow it, and investigate its object. Therefore
let us praise the name of the Lord who turned all things to good,
and fulfilled, in Sidonia and her lover, the Scripture which
saith, "Thinking themselves wise, they became fools" (Rom. i. 21).
END OF FIRST BOOK.
FROM THE BANISHMENT OF SIDONIA FROM THE DUCAL COURT OF WOLGAST UP
TO HER RECEPTION IN THE CONVENT OF MARIENFLIESS.
_Of the quarrel between Otto Bork and the Stargardians, which
caused him to demand the dues upon the Jena._
MOST EMINENT AND ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE!--Your Grace must be informed,
that much of what I have here set down, in this second book, was
communicated to me by that same old Uckermann of Dalow of whom I
have spoken already in my first volume.
Other important facts I have gleaned from the Diary of Magdalena
von Petersdorfin, _Priorissa_ of the convent of Marienfliess.
She was an old and worthy matron, whom Sidonia, however, used to
mock and insult, calling her the old cat, and such-like names. But
she revenged herself on the shameless wanton in no other way than
by writing down what facts she could collect of her disgraceful
life and courses, for the admonition and warning of the holy
This little book the pious nun left to her sister Sophia, who is
still living in the convent at Marienfliess; and she, at my
earnest entreaties, permitted me to peruse it.
Before, however, I continue the relation of Sidonia's adventures,
I must state to your Grace what were the circumstances which
induced Otto von Bork to demand so urgently the dues upon the Jena
from their Highnesses of Stettin and Wolgast. In my opinion, it
was for nothing else than to revenge himself upon the burgomaster
of Stargard, Jacob Appelmann, father of the equerry. The quarrel
happened years before, but Otto never forgot it, and only waited a
fitting opportunity to take vengeance on him and the people of
This Jacob Appelmann was entitled to receive a great portion of
the Jena dues, which were principally paid to him in kind,
particularly in foreign spices, which he afterwards sold to the
Polish Jews, at the annual fair held in Stramehl.
It happened, upon one of these occasions, as Jacob, with two of
his porters, appeared, as usual, carrying bags of spices, to sell
to the Polish Jews, that Otto met him in the market-place, and
invited him to come up to his castle, for that many nobles were
assembled there who would, no doubt, give him better prices for
his goods than the Polish Jews, and added that the worthy
burgomaster must drink his health with him that day.
Now, Jacob Appelmann was no despiser of good cheer or of broad
gold pieces; so, unfortunately for himself, he accepted the
invitation. But the knight had only lured him up to the castle to
insult and mock him. For when he entered the hall, a loud roar of
laughter greeted his appearance, and the half-drunk guests, who
were swilling the wine as if they had tuns to fill, and not
stomachs, swore that he must pledge each of them separately, in a
lusty draught. So they handed him an enormous becker, cut with
Otto's arms, bidding him drain it; but as the Herr Jacob
hesitated, his host asked him, laughing, was he a Jesu disciple,
that he refused to drink?
Hereupon the other answered, he was too old for a disciple, but he
was not ashamed to call himself a servant of Jesus.
Then they all roared with laughter, and Otto spoke--
"My good lords and dear friends, ye know how that the Stargard
knaves joined with the Pomeranian Duke to ravage my good town of
Stramehl, so that it can be only called a village now. And it is
also not unknown to you that my disgrace then passed into a
proverb, so that people will still say, 'He fell upon me as the
Stargardians upon Stramehl.' Let us, then, revenge ourselves
to-day. If this Jesu's servant will not drink, then tear open his
mouth, put a tun-dish therein, and pour down a good draught till
the knave cries 'enough!' As to his spices, let us scatter them
before the Polish Jews, as pease before swine, and it will be
merry pastime to see how the beasts will lick them up. Thus will
Stramehl retort upon Stargard, and the whole land will shout with
laughter. For wherefore does this Stargard pedlar come here to my
fairs? Mayhap I shall visit his."
Peals of laughter and applause greeted Otto's speech; but Jacob,
when he heard it, determined, if possible, to effect his escape;
and watching his opportunity, for he was the only one there not
drunk, sprang out of the hall, and down the flight of steps, and
being young then, never drew breath till he reached the
market-place of Stramehl, and jumped into his own waggon.
In vain Otto screamed out to "stop him, stop him!" all his
servants were at the fair, where, indeed, the people of the whole
country round were gathered. Then the host and the guests sprang
up themselves, to run after Jacob Appelmann, but many could not
stand, and others tumbled down by the way. However, with a chorus
of cries, curses, and threats, Otto and some others at last
reached the waggon, and laid hold of it. Then they dragged out the
bags of spices, and emptied them all down upon the street,
"Come hither, ye Jews; which of you wants pepper? Who wants
So all the Jews in the place ran together, and down they went on
all-fours picking up the spices, while their long beards swept the
pavement quite clean. Hey! how they pushed and screamed, and dealt
blows about among themselves, till their noses bled, and the place
looked as if gamecocks had been fighting there, whereat Otto and
his roistering guests roared with laughter.
One of the bags they pulled out of the waggon contained cinnamon;
but a huntsman of Otto Bork's, not knowing what it was, poured it
down likewise into the street. Cinnamon was then so rare, that it
sold for its weight in gold. So an old Jew, spying the precious
morsel, cried out, "Praise be to God! Praise be to God!" and ran
through Otto Bork's legs to get hold of a stick of it. This made
the knight look down, and seeing the cinnamon, he straightway bid
the huntsman gather it all up again quick, and carry it safely
home to the castle.
But the old Jew would by no means let go his hold of the booty,
and kept the sticks in one hand high above his head, while with
the other he dealt heavy buffets upon the huntsman. An apprentice
of Jacob Appelmann's beheld all this from the waggon, and knowing
what a costly thing this cinnamon was, he made a long arm out of
the waggon, and snapped away the sticks from the Jew. Upon this
the huntsman sprang at the apprentice; but the latter, seizing a
pair of pot-hooks, which his master had that day bought in the
fair, dealt such a blow with them upon the head of the huntsman,
that he fell down at once upon the ground quite dead.
Now every one cried out "Murder! murder! Jodute! Jodute! Jodute!"
and they tore the bags right and left from the waggon, Jews as
well as Christians; but Otto commanded them to seize the
apprentice also. So they dragged him out too. He was a fine young
man of twenty-three, Louis Griepentroch by name. There was such an
uproar, that the men who held the horses' heads were forced away.
Whereupon the burgomaster resolved to seize this opportunity for
escape; and without heeding the lamentations of the other
apprentice, Zabel Griepentroch, who prayed him earnestly to stop
and save his poor brother, desired the driver to lash the horses
into a gallop, and never stop nor stay until the unlucky town was
left far behind them.
Otto von Bork ordered instant pursuit, but in vain. The
burgomaster could not be overtaken, and reached Wangerin in
safety. There he put up at the inn, to give the panting horses
breathing-time; and now the aforesaid Zabel besought him, with
many tears, to write to Otto Bork on behalf of his poor brother,
to which the burgomaster at last consented; for he loved these two
youths, who were orphans and twins, and he had brought them up
from their childhood, and treated them in all things like a true
and loving godfather. So he wrote to Otto, "That if aught of ill
happened to the young Louis Griepentroch, he (the burgomaster)
would complain to his Grace of Stettin, for the youth had only
done his duty in trying to save the property of his master from
the hands of robbers." The good Jacob, however, admonished Zabel
to make up his mind for the worst, for the knight was not a man
whose heart could be melted, as he himself had experienced but too
well that day.
But the sorrowing youth little heeded the admonitions, only seized
the letter, and ran with it that same evening back to Stramehl.
Here, however, no one would listen to him, no one heeded him; and
when at last he got up to Otto and gave him the letter, the knight
swore he would flay him alive if he did not instantly quit the
town. Now the poor youth gnashed his teeth in rage and despair,
and determined to be revenged on the knight.
Just then came by a great crowd leading his brother Louis to the
gallows; and on his head they had stuck a high paper cap with the
Stargard arms painted thereon, namely, a tower with two griffins
(Sidonia, indeed, had painted it, and she was by, and clapping her
hands with delight); and for the greater scandal to Stargard, they
had tied two hares' tails to the back of the cap, with the
inscription written in large letters above them--"So came the
Stargardians to Stramehl!"
And Otto and his guests gathered round the gallows, and all the
market-folk, with great uproar and laughter. _Summa_, when
the poor carl saw all this, and that there was no hope for his
heart's dear brother, neither could he even get near him just to
say a last "good-night," he ran like mad to the castle, which was
almost empty now, as every one had gone to the market-place; and
there, on the hill, he turned round and saw how the hangman had
shoved his dear Louis from the ladder, and the body was swinging
lamentably to and fro between heaven and earth. So he seized a
brand and set fire to the brew-house, from which a thick smoke and
light flames soon rose high into the air. Now all the people
rushed towards the castle, for they suspected well who had done
the deed, particularly as they had observed a young fellow
running, as if for life or death, in the opposite direction
towards the open country. So they pursued him with wild shouts
from every direction; right and left they hemmed him in, and cut
off his escape to the wood. And Otto Bork sprang upon a fresh
horse, and galloped along with them, roaring out, "Seize the
rascal!--seize the vile incendiary! He who takes him shall have a
tun of my best beer!" But others he despatched to the castle to
extinguish the flames.
Now the poor Zabel knew not what to do, for on every side his
pursuers were gaining fast upon him, and he heard Otto's voice
close behind crying, "There he runs! there he runs! Seize the
gallows-bird, that he may swing with his brother this night. A tun
of my best beer to the man who takes him! Seize the incendiary!"
So the poor wretch, in his anguish, threw off his smock upon the
grass and sprang into the lake, hoping to be able to swim to the
other side and reach the wood.
"In after him!" roared Otto; and a fellow jumped in instantly, and
seizing hold of Zabel by the hose, dragged him along with him; but
they were soon both carried into deep water--Zabel, however, was
the uppermost, and held the other down tight to stifle him.
Another seeing this, plunged in to rescue his companion, and from
the bank dived down underneath Zabel, intending to seize him round
the body; but it so happened that the fishermen of Stramehl had
laid their nets close to the place, and he plunged direct into the
middle of the largest, and stuck there miserably; which when Zabel
observed, he let the other go, who was now quite dead, and struck
out boldly for the opposite bank. The fishermen sprang into their
boats to pursue him, and the crowd ran round, hoping to cut off
the pass before he could gain the bank; but he was a brave youth,
and distanced them all, jumped on land before one of them could
reach him, and plunged into the thick wood. Here it was vain to
follow him, for night was coming on fast; so he pursued his path
in safety, and returned to his master at Stramehl.
Otto von Bork, however, would not let the matter rest here, for he
had sustained great loss by the burning of his brew-house (the
other buildings were saved); therefore he wrote to the honourable
council at Stargard--"That by the shameful and scandalous burning
of his brew-house, he had lost two fine hounds named Stargard and
Stramehl, which he had brought himself from Silesia; _item_,
two old servants and a woman; _item_, in the lake, two other
servants had been drowned; and all by the revenge of an
apprentice, because he had justly caused his brother to be
executed. Therefore this apprentice must be given up to him, that
he might have him broken on the wheel, otherwise their vassals on
the Jena should suffer in such a sort, that the Stargardians would
long have reason to remember Otto Bork."
Now, some of the honourable councillors were of opinion that they
should by no means give up the apprentice; first, because Otto had
insulted the Stargard arms, and secondly, lest it might appear as
if they feared he would fulfil his threats respecting the Jena.
But Jacob Appelmann, the burgomaster, who lay sick in his bed from
the treatment he had received at Stramehl, entirely disapproved of
this resolution; and when they came to him for his advice,
proposed to give for answer to the knight that he should first
indemnify him for the loss of his costly spices, which he valued
at one thousand florins, and when this sum was paid down, they
might treat of the matter concerning the apprentice.
The knight, however, mocked them for making such an absurd demand
as compensation, and reiterated his threats, that if the young man
were not delivered up to him, he would punish Stargard with a
The council, however, were still determined not to yield; and as
the burgomaster lay sick in his bed, they released the apprentice
from prison; and replied to Otto, "That if he broke the public
peace of his Imperial Majesty, let the consequences fall on his
own head--there was still justice for them to be had in
When the burgomaster heard of this, he had himself carried in a
litter, sick as he was, to the honourable council, and asked them,
"Was this justice, to release an incendiary from prison? If they
sought justice for themselves, let them deal it out to others. No
one had lost more by the transaction than he: his income for the
next two years was clean gone, and the care and anxiety he had
undergone, besides, had reduced him to this state of bodily
weakness which they observed. It was a heart-grief to him to give
up the young man, for he had reared him from the baptism water,
and he had been a faithful servant unto him up to this day. Could
he save him, he would gladly give up his house and all he was
worth, and go and take a lodging upon the wall; for this young man
had once saved his life, by slaying a mad dog which had seized him
by the tail of his coat; but it was not to be done. They must set
an honourable example, as just and upright citizens and fearless
magistrates, who hold that old saying in honour--'_Fiat justitia
et pereat mundus_;' which means, 'Let justice be done, though
life and fortune perish.' But the punishment of the wheel was, he
confessed, altogether too severe for the poor youth; and therefore
he counselled that they should hang him, as Otto had hung his
This course the honourable society consented at last to adopt; but
the knight had disgraced their arms, and they ought in return to
disgrace his. They could get the court painter from Stettin at the
public expense, and let him paint Otto Bork's arms on the back of
the young man's hose.
Here the burgomaster again interfered--"Why should the honourable
council attempt a stupid insult, because the knight had done so?"
But he talked in vain; they were determined on this retaliation.
At last (but after a great deal of trouble) he obtained a promise
that they would have the arms painted before, upon his smock, and
not behind, upon the hose, for that would be a sore disgrace to
Otto, and bring his vengeance upon them. "Why should they do more
to him than he had done unto them? The Scripture said, 'Eye for
eye, tooth for tooth,' and not two eyes for an eye, two teeth for
a tooth." Hereupon the honourable council pronounced sentence on
the young man, and fixed the third day from that for his
execution. But first the executioner must bring him up before the
bed of the burgomaster, who thus spoke--"Ah, Zabel, wherefore
didst thou not behave as I admonished thee in Wangerin?" And as
the young man began to weep, he gave him his hand, and admonished
him to be steadfast in the death-hour, asked his forgiveness for
having condemned him, but it was his duty as a magistrate so to
do--thanked him for having saved his life by slaying the mad dog;
finally, bid him "Good-night," and then buried his face in the
So the hangman carried back the weeping youth to the council-hall,
where the honourable councillors had the Bork arms fastened upon
his smock, and out of further malice against Otto (for they knew
the burgomaster, being sick in his bed, could not hinder them),
they placed over them a large piece of pasteboard, on which was
written, "So did the Stargardians with Stramehl." _Item_,
they fastened to the two corners a pair of wolf's ears, because
Bork, in the Wendig tongue, signifies wolf. This was to revenge
themselves for the hares' tails.
Then the poor apprentice was carried to the gallows, amid loud
laughter from the common people. And even the honourable
councillors waxed merry at the sight; and as the hangman pushed
him from the ladder, they cried out, "So will the Stargardians do
Now Otto heard tidings of all these doings, but he feared to
complain to his Highness the Duke, because he himself had begun
the quarrel, and they had only retorted as was fair. _Item_,
he did not dare to stop the boats upon the Jena--for he knew that
although Duke Barnim was usually of a soft and placable temper,
yet when he was roused there was no more dangerous enemy. And if
the Stargardians leagued with him, they might fall upon his town
of Stramehl, as they had done once before.
Therefore he waited patiently for an opportunity of revenge, and
held his peace until Sidonia acquainted him with the love of the
young Prince Ernest. Then he resolved to demand the dues upon the
Jena to be given up to him, and if his wicked desire had been
gratified, I think the good citizens of Stargard might have taken
to the beggar's staff for the rest of their days, for like all the
old Hanseatic towns, their entire subsistence came to them by
water, and all their wares and merchandise were carried up the
Jena in boats to the town. These the knight would have rated so
highly, if he had been made owner of the dues, that the town and
people would have been utterly ruined.
It has been already stated that the Duke Barnim gave an ambiguous
answer to Otto upon the subject; but the knight, after his visit
to Wolgast, was so certain of seeing his daughter in a short time
Duchess of Pomerania, that he already looked upon the Jena dues as
his own, and proceeded to act as shall be related in the next
_How Otto von Bork demands the Jena dues from the Stargardians,
and how the burgomaster Jacob Appelmann takes him prisoner, and
locks him up in the Red Sea._ [Footnote: A watch-tower, built
in the Moorish style, upon the town wall of Stargard, from which
the adjacent streets take their name.]
As the aforesaid knight and my gracious lord, Duke Barnim,
journeyed home from Wolgast, the former discoursed much on this
matter of the Jena dues, but his Grace listened in silence, after
his manner, and nicked away at his doll. (I think, however, that
his Grace did not quite understand the matter of the Jena dues
_Summa_, while Otto was at Stettin, he received information
that three vessels, laden with wine and spices, and all manner of
merchandise, were on their way to Stargard. So he took this for a
good sign, and went straight to the town and up to the
burgomaster, Jacob Appelmann, would not sit down, however, but
made himself as stiff as if his back would break, and asked
whether he (Appelmann) was aware that the lands of the Bork family
bordered close upon the Jena.
_Ille._--"Yes, he knew it well."
_Hic._--"Then he could not wonder if he now demanded dues
from every vessel that went up to Stargard."
_Ille._--"On the contrary, he would wonder greatly; since by
an Act passed in the reign of Duke Barnim the First, A.D. 1243,
the freedom of the Jena had been secured to them, and they had
enjoyed it up to the present date."
_Hic_.--"Stuff! what was the use of bringing up these old
Acts. His Grace of Stettin, as well as the Duchess of Wolgast, had
now given them over to him."
_Ille_.--"Then let his lordship produce his charter; if he
had got one, why not show it?"
_Hic_.--"No, he had not got the written order yet, but he
would soon have it."
_Ille_.--"Well, until then they would abide by the old law."
_Hic_.--"By no means. This very day he would insist on being
paid the dues."
_Ille_.--"That meant, that he purposed to break the peace of
our lord the Emperor. Let him think well of it. It might cost him
_Hic_.--"That was his care. The Stargardians should not a
second time hang his arms on the gallows."
_Ille_.--"It was a simple act of retaliation; had he not
read, 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'?"
_Hic_.--"Nonsense! was that retaliation, when a set of low
burgher carls took upon themselves to disgrace the lord of castles
and lands; as well might one of his serfs, when he struck him,
strike him in return; that would be retaliation too. Ha! ha! ha!"
_Ille_.--"What did his lordship mean? He was no village
justice, nor were the burghers of this good town serfs or boors."
_Hic_.--"If he knew not now what he meant, he would soon
learn; ay, and take off his hat so low to the Bork arms that it
would touch the ground. Then, too, he might himself get a lesson
And herewith the knight strode firmly out of the room, without
even saluting the burgomaster; but Jacob knew well how to deal
with him, so he sent instantly for the keeper of the forest, who
lived in the thick wood on the banks of the Jena, and told him to
watch by night and day, and if he observed anything unusual going
on, to spring upon a horse and bring him the intelligence without
Meanwhile the knight summoned all his feudal vassals around him at
Stramehl, and told them how his Grace had bestowed the Jena dues
upon him, but the sturdy burghers of Stargard had dared to impugn
his rights; therefore let each of them select two trusty
followers, and meet all together on the morrow morn at Putzerlin,
close to the Jena ferry. Then, if there came by any vessels laden
with choice wines, let them be sure and drink a health to
Stargard. So they all believed him, and came to the appointed
place with twenty horsemen, and the knight himself brought twenty
more. There they unsaddled and turned into the meadow, then set to
work to throw a bridge over the river. As soon as the forest
ranger spied them, he saddled his wild clipper, which he himself
had caught in the Uckermund country, and flew like wind to the
town (for the wild horses are much stouter and fleeter than the
tame, but there are none to be found now in all Pomerania).
When the burgomaster heard this tale, he told him to go back the
way he came, and keep perfectly still until he saw a rocket rise
from St. Mary's Tower, then let him loose all his hounds upon the
horses in the meadow, and he and the burghers would follow soon,
and make a quick end of the robber knights and freebooters; but he
would wait for three hours before giving the promised sign from
St. Mary's Tower, that he might have time to get back to the wood.
Still the knight and his followers continued working at the bridge
right merrily. They took the ferryman's planks and poles, and cut
down large oak-trees, and every one that went across the ferry
must stop and help them; but their work was not quite completed,
when three vessels appeared in sight, laden with all sorts of
merchandise, and making direct for Stargard. As soon as Otto
perceived them, he took half-a-dozen fellows with him, and jumped
into a ferry-boat, crying, "Hold! until the dues are paid, you can
go no farther. The river and the land alike belong to me now, and
I must have my dues, as his Grace of Stettin has commanded."
The crew, however, strictly objected, saying that in the memory of
man they had never paid dues upon their goods, and they would not
pay them now; but Otto and his knights jumped on deck, followed by
their squires, and having asked for the bill of lading, decimated
all the goods, as a priest collecting his tithe of the sheaves.
Then he took the best cask of wine, had it rolled on land, and
called out to the crew, who were crying like children, "Now, good
people, you may go your ways."
But the poor devils were in despair, and followed him on land,
praying and beseeching him not to ruin them, but to restore their
property, at which Otto laughed loudly, and bid the strongest of
his followers chase the miserable varlets back to their vessel.
Meanwhile the cask of wine had been rolled up against a tree, and
the knight and his followers set themselves round it upon the
grass, and because they had no glasses, they drank out of kettles,
and pots, and bowls, and dishes, or whatever the ferryman could
give them. Yea, some of them drew off their boots and filled them
with the wine, others drank it out of their caps, and so there
they lay on the grass, swilling the wine, and the different wares
they had seized lay all scattered round them, and they laughed and
drank, and roared, "Thus we drink a health to Stargard!" Hereupon
the crew, seeing that nothing could be got from the robbers, went
their way with curses and imprecations, to which the knight and
his party responded only with peals of laughter.
But the vessel had scarcely set sail, when a woman's voice was
heard crying out loudly from the deck--"Father! father! I am here.
Listen, Otto von Bork, your daughter Sidonia is here!"
When the knight heard this, he felt as if stunned by a blow, but
immediately comforted himself by thinking that no doubt Prince
Ernest was with her, particularly as he could observe in the
twilight the figure of a man seated beside her on a bundle of
goods. "This surely must be the Prince," he said to himself, and
so called out with a joyful voice, "Ah, my dearest daughter,
Sidonia! how comest thou in the merchant vessel?"
Then he screamed to the sailors to stop and cast anchor; but they
heeded neither his cries nor commands, and in place of stopping,
began to crowd all sail. Otto now tried entreaties, and promised
to restore all their goods, and even pay for the wine drunk, if
they would only stop the vessel. This made them listen to him, but
they demanded, beside, a compensation money of one hundred
florins, for all the anxiety and delay they had suffered. This he
promised also, only let them stop instantly. However, they would
not trust his word, and not until he had pledged his knightly
faith would they consent to stop. Some, indeed, were not even
content with this, and required that he should stand bareheaded on
the bank, and take a solemn oath, with his hand extended to
heaven, that he would deal with them as he had promised.
To this also the knight consented, since they would not believe he
held his knightly word higher than any oath; though, in my
opinion, he would have done anything they demanded, such was his
anxiety to behold the Prince and Princess of Pomerania, for he
could imagine nothing else, but that his daughter and her husband
had been turned out of Wolgast by the harsh Duchess and the old
Grand Chamberlain, and were now on their way to his castle at
Here my gracious Prince will no doubt say, "But, Theodore, why did
she not call on her father sooner, when, as you told me, he was on
board this very vessel plundering the wares?"
I answer--"Serene Prince! your Grace must know that she and her
paramour were at that time crouching in the cabin, through fear of
Otto, for the sailors did not know her, or who she was. They had
taken her and Appelmann in at Damm, and believed this story: that
he was secretary to the Duke at Stettin, and Sidonia was his wife;
they were on their way to Stargard, but preferred journeying by
water, on account of the robbers who infested the high-roads, and
who, they heard, had murdered three travellers only a few days
But when Sidonia had found what her father had done, and heard the
crew cursing and vowing vengeance on him, she feared it would be
worse for her even to fall into the hands of the Stargardians than
into her father's, and therefore rushed up on deck and called out
to him, though her paramour conjured her by heaven and earth to
keep quiet, and not bring him under her father's sword.
_Summa_, as the vessel once more stood still, the knight
sprang quick as thought into the ferry-boat along with some of his
followers, and rowed off to the vessel, where his daughter sat
upon a bundle of merchandise and wept, but Appelmann crept down
again into the cabin. When the knight stepped on board, he kissed
and embraced her--but where was the young Prince whom he had seen
standing beside her?
_Illa_.--"Alas! it was not the Prince; the young lord had
shamefully deceived her!" (weeping.)
_Hic_.--"He would make him suffer for it, then; let her tell
him the whole business. If he had trifled with her, she should be
revenged. Was he not as powerful as any duke in Pomerania?"
_Illa_.--"He must send away all the bystanders first; did he
not see how they all stood round, with their mouths open from
wonder?" Hereupon the knight roared out, "Away, go all, all of ye,
or I'll stick ye dead as calves. The devil take any of you who
dare to listen!" His whole frame trembled meanwhile as an aspen
leaf, and he could scarcely wait till the carls clambered over the
bundles of goods--"What had happened? In the name of all the
devils, let her speak, now that they were alone."
But here the cunning wanton began to weep so piteously, that not a
word could she utter; however, as old Otto grew impatient, and
began to curse and swear, and shake her by the arm, she at last
commenced (while Appelmann was listening from the cabin):--
"Her dearest father knew how the young lord had bribed a priest in
Crummyn to wed them privately; but this was all a trick which his
wicked mother had suggested to him, in order to bring her to utter
ruin; for on the very wedding night, while she was waiting for the
Prince in her little room, according to promise, to flee with him
to Crummyn, the perfidious Duchess, who was aware of the whole
arrangement, sent a groom to her chamber at the appointed hour,
and she being in the dark, embraced him, thinking he was the
Prince. In the self-same instant the door was burst open, and the
old revengeful hag, with Ulrich von Schwerin, rushed in, along
with the young Prince and Marcus Bork, her cousin, amid a great
crowd of people with lanterns. And no one would listen to her or
heed her; so she was thrust that same night out of the castle,
like a common swine-maid, though the young lord, when he saw the
full extent of his wicked mother's treachery, fell down in a dead
faint at her feet."
And here she wept and groaned, as if her heart would break.
"Who, then, was the gay youth who sat beside her there on the
bundle?" screamed Otto.
_Illa_.--"That was the very groom that she had embraced, for
they had sent him away with her, to make their wicked story seem
_Hic_.--"But what was his name? May the devil take her, to
have gone off with a base-born groom. What was his name?"
_Illa_ (weeping).--"What did he think of her, that she should
love a common groom? truly, he had the title of equerry, but then
he was nothing better than a common burgher carl. What could she
do, when they turned her by night and cloud out of the castle? She
must thank God for having had even this groom to protect her, but
that he was her lover--fie!--no; that was, indeed, to think little
_Hic_.--"He would strike her dead if she did not answer. Who
was the knave? Where did he come from?"
_Illa_.--"He was called Johann Appelmann, and was son to the
burgomaster of Stargard."
Here the knight raved and chafed like a wild beast, and drew his
sword to kill Sidonia, but she fled away down to her paramour in
the cabin. However, he had heard the whole conversation, and flew
at her to beat her, crying, "Am I then a base-born groom? Ha! thou
proud wanton, didst thou not run after me like a common
street-girl? I will teach thee to call me a groom!"
And as the knight listened to all this, the sword dropped from his
hands and fell into the hold, so that he could not get it up
again. Then he was beside himself for rage, and seized a stone of
the ballast, to rush down with it to the cabin.
But, behold! a rocket shot up from St. Mary's Tower, and poured
its clear light upon the deepening twilight, like a starry meteor,
and, at the same instant, the deep bay of ten or twelve
blood-hounds resounded fearfully across the meadow where the
horses were grazing, and the dogs flew on them, and tore some of
them to the ground, and bit others, so that they dashed nearly to
their masters, who were lying round the wine-cask, and others fled
into the wood bleeding and groaning with pain and agony, as if
they had been human creatures.
Then all the fellows jumped up from their wine-cask, and screamed
as if the last day had come, and Otto let the stone fall from his
hand with horror; but still called out boldly to his men to know
what had happened. "Was the devil himself among them that accursed
Then they shouted in return, that he must hasten to land, for the
Stargardians were upon them, and had killed all their horses.
"Strike them dead, then; kill all, and himself the last, but he
would go over and help them."
So he jumped into the boat with his companions, but had not time
to set foot on shore, when the Stargardians, horse and foot, with
the burgomaster at their head, dashed forth from the wood,
shouting, "So fall the Stargardians upon Stramehl!"
At this sight the knight could no longer restrain his impatience,
but jumped out of the boat; and although the water reached up
under his arms, strode forward, crying--
"Courage, my brave fellows; down with the churls. Kill, slay, give
no quarter. He who brings me the head of the burgomaster shall be
my heir! His vile son hath brought my daughter to shame. Kill
all--all! I will never outlive this day. Ye shall all be my
heritors--only kill! kill! kill!"
Then he jumps on land and goes to draw his sword, but he has
none--only the scabbard is hanging there; and as the Stargard men
are already pressing thick upon them, he shouts--
"A sword, a sword! give me a sword! My good castle of Stramehl for
a sword, that I may slay this base-born churl of a burgomaster!"
But a blood-hound jumped at his throat, and tore him to the
ground, and as he felt the horrible muzzle closer to his face, he
"Save me! save me! Oh, woe is me!"
And at the same moment, Sidonia's voice was heard from the vessel,
"Father, father, save me! this groom is beating me to death--he is
killing me!" while a loud roar of laughter from the crew
accompanied her cries.
No one, however, came to save the knight; for the Stargardians
were slaying right and left, and Otto's followers were utterly
discomfited. So the knight tried to draw his dagger, and having
got hold of it, plunged it with great force into the heart of the
ferocious animal, who fell back dead, and Otto sprang to his feet.
Just then, however, a tanner recognised him, and seizing hold of
him by the arms, carried him off to the other prisoners.
Now, indeed, might he call on the mountains to fall on him, and
the hills to cover him (Hosea x.); and now he might feel, too,
what a terrible thing it is to fall into the hands of the living
God (Hebrews x.); for the Jesu wounds, I'm thinking, burned then
like hell-fire in his heart.
_Summa_, as the wretched man was brought before the
burgomaster, who sat down upon a bank and wiped his sword in the
grass, the latter cried out--
"Well, sir knight, you would not heed me; you have worked your
will. Now, do you understand what retaliation means--'An eye for
an eye, a tooth for a tooth'?"
And as the other stood quite silent, he continued--
"Where is your charter for the Jena dues? Perchance it is
contained in this letter, which I have received to-day from her
Grace of Wolgast, addressed to you. Hand a lantern here, that the
knight may read it! If the charter is not therein, then he shall
be flung into prison this night with his followers, until my lord,
Duke Barnim, pronounces judgment upon him."
The ferryman advanced and held a light; but Otto had scarcely
looked over the letter when he began to tremble as if he would
fall to the ground, and then sighed forth, like the rich man in
"Have mercy on me, and give me a drink of water!"
They brought him the water, and then he added--
"Jacob, hast thou, too, had any tidings of our children?"
"Alas!" the other answered; "Ulrich has written all to me."
"Then have mercy on me. Listen how your godless son there in the
vessel is beating my daughter to death, and how she is shrieking
As the burgomaster heard these unexpected tidings, he sent
messengers to the vessel, with orders to bring the pair
immediately before him.
Meanwhile the other prisoners besought the burgomaster to let them
go, for they were feudal vassals of Otto Bork, and must do as he
commanded them. Besides, he told them that Duke Barnim had given
him the dues, and therefore they held it their duty to assist him
in collecting them.
And as Otto confirmed their words, saying that he had indeed
deceived them, the burgomaster turned to his party, and cried--
"How say you then, worthy burghers and dear friends, shall we let
the vassals run, and keep the lord? for, if the master lies, are
the servants to be punished if they believe him? Speak, worthy
Then all the burghers cried--
"Let them go, let them go; but keep the knight a prisoner."
Upon which all the retainers took to their heels, not forgetting,
though, to hoist the cask of wine upon their shoulders, and so
they fled away into the wood.
Now comes a great crowd from all the vessels, accompanying the
infamous pair, mocking, and gibing, and laughing at them, so that
no one can hear a word for the tumult. But the burgomaster bids
them hold their peace, and let the guilty pair be placed before
He remained a long while silent, gazing at them both, then sighing
deeply, addressed his son--
"Oh, thou lost son, hast thou not yet given up thy dissolute
courses? What is this I hear of thee in Wolgast? Now thou must
needs humble this noble maiden, and bring dishonour on her
house--flinging all thy father's admonitions to the wind--"
Here the son interrupted--
"True; but this noble maiden had thrown herself in his way, like a
common girl, and he was only flesh and blood like other men. Why
did she follow him so?"
Whereupon the father replied--
"Oh, thou shameless child, who, like the prodigal in Scripture,
hast destroyed thy substance with harlots and riotous living, in
place of humbleness and repentance, dost thou impudently tell of
this poor young maiden's shame before all the world? Oh, son! oh,
son! even the blind heathen said, '_Ego illum periisse puto, cui
quidem periit pudor_' [Footnote: Plautus in Bacchid.]--which
means, 'I esteem him dead in whom shame is dead.' Therefore is thy
sin doubled, being a Christian, for thou hast boasted of thy shame
before the people here, and held up the young maiden to their
contempt, besides having beaten her so on board the vessel that
many heard her screams, as if she were only a common wench, and
not a castle and land dowered maiden."
To which Appelmann answered, that she had called him a common
groom and a base-born burgher churl. But his father commanded him
to be silent, and bid his men first bind the knight's hands behind
his back, and then those of his son, and so carry them both to
prison; but to let the maiden go free.
When the knight heard that he was to be bound, his pride revolted,
and he offered any ransom, or to give any compensation that could
be demanded for the injury he had done them. Every one knew his
wealth, and that he had power to keep his word to the uttermost.
But the burgomaster made answer, "Eye for eye, and tooth for
tooth; how say you, sir knight--speak the truth, if you had taken
me prisoner, as I have taken you, would you have bound my hands or
not?" To which the knight replied, "Well, Jacob, I will not speak
a falsehood, for I feel that my end is near;--I would have bound
Hereupon the brave burgomaster answered, "I know it well; however,
as you have answered me honestly, I will spare you. Burghers, do
not bind his hands, neither those of my son. Ye have enough to
suffer yet before ye, and God give you both grace to repent. And
now to the town! The crew shall declare to-morrow morn, before the
honourable council, what they have lost by the knight's means; and
he shall make it all good again to them."
So all the people returned with great uproar and rejoicing back to
the town, and the bell from St. Mary's and St. John's rung forth
merry peals, and all the people of the town ran forth to meet
them; but when they saw the knight a prisoner, and his empty
scabbard hanging by his side, they clapped their hands and
huzzaed, shouting, "So fell the Stargardians upon Stramehl." Thus
with merry laughter, and jests, and mockings, they carried him up
the street to the tower called the Red Sea, and there locked him
up, well guarded.
Here again he prayed the burgomaster to accept a ransom, but in
vain. Whereupon he at last solicited pen, paper, and ink, and a
light, that he might indite a letter to his Grace, Duke Barnim;
and this was granted to him.
As for his unworthy son, the burgomaster had him carried to his
own house, and there placed him in a room, with three stout
burghers as a guard over him. And Sidonia was placed by herself in
another little chamber.
_Of Otto Bark's dreadful suicide--Item, how Sidonia and Johann
Appelmann were brought before the burgomaster._
During that night there was a strong suspicion upon every one's
mind that something terrible was going to happen; for a great
storm arose at midnight, and raged fearfully round the Red Sea
tower, so that it seemed to rock, and when the night-watch went
round to examine it, behold three toads crept out, and set
themselves upright upon the parapet like little manikins, as the
hares sometimes make themselves into manikins.
What all this denoted was discovered next morning, for when the
jailer entered Otto's cell in the tower, he saw him lying on the
floor in a pool of blood, with his own dagger sticking in his
heart. On the table stood the lamp which he had asked for, still
burning feebly, and near it a great many written papers.
The man instantly ran for the burgomaster, who followed him with
all speed to the tower. They felt the corpse, but it was already
quite cold. So then a messenger was despatched for the chirurgeon,
to hold a _visum repertum_ over him.
Meantime they examined the papers, and found first my gracious
Lady of Wolgast's letter to the unfortunate father--the same which
had made him tremble so the day before--and therein was related
all the shameful circumstances concerning Sidonia, just as Ulrich
had stated them in the letter to the burgomaster. Then they came
upon his last will and testament; but where the seal ought to have
been, there lay a large drop of blood, with this memorandum
beneath it: "This is my heart's first blood which I have affixed
here, in place of a seal, and may he who slights it be accursed
for evermore, even as my daughter Sidonia."
In this testament he had completely disinherited his daughter
Sidonia, and made his son Otto sole inheritor of all his property,
castles, and lands (for his daughter Clara was already dead, and
had left no children). Nothing should his daughter Sidonia have
but two farm-houses in Zachow, [Footnote: A small town near
Stramehl, a mile and a half from Regenwalde.] just to keep her
from beggary, and to save the ancient, illustrious name of their
house from falling into further contempt. Yet should his son think
proper to give her further _alimentum_, he was at liberty so
to do. Lastly, for the second and third time, he cursed his
daughter, to whom he owed all his misery, from the affair with the
apprentice to that concerning the Jena dues, up to this his most
miserable and wretched death. _Item_, the burgomaster picked
up another letter, which was addressed to himself, and wherein the
knight prayed, first, that his body might not be drawn by the
executioner to burial, as was the custom with suicides, but
conveyed honourably to Stramehl, and there deposited in the vault
of his family; secondly, that his daughter Sidonia might be sent
to Zachow, there to learn how to live humbly as a peasant
maid--for that she might look to being a Duchess of Pomerania,
only when she could keep her evil desires still for even a couple
Then he cursed her so that it was pitiable to read; and proved
that, if he had been a more God-fearing father, she might have
been a different daughter; for as St. Paul says (Galatians vi.),
"What a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The letter further
said, that, for the good deed done to his corpse, the burgomaster
should take all the gold found upon his person, consisting of
eighty good rose-nobles, and indemnify himself therewith for the
loss of his spices that day in Stramehl when they were scattered
before the Jews. He lastly desired his last will and testament to
be conveyed to his son, along with his corpse; and further, his
son was to send compensation to the crew for the cask of wine and
whatever other losses they had sustained, according to his
knightly word which he had pledged to them.
_Summa_, when the chirurgeon arrived and the body was
examined, there was found upon the unfortunate knight a purse,
embroidered with pearls and diamonds, containing eighty
rose-nobles, which the burgomaster in no wise disdained to
receive, and then laid the whole matter before the honourable
council, with the petition of Otto concerning the corpse. The
honourable council fully justified the burgomaster for all he had
done, and gave their opinion, that as the good town had no
jurisdiction over the knight, so they could have none over his
body, and therefore let it be removed with all honour to Stramehl,
particularly as he had in all things made amends for the wrong he
had done them. As regarded Sidonia, two porters should be sent to
convey her to Zachow.
Meantime Sidonia had heard of her father's horrible death, and lay
on the ground nearly insensible from grief. Just then the
burgomaster returned from the council-hall, and commanded that she
and his profligate son should be brought before him. When they
arrived, he asked how it happened that they were both found in the
vessel, for Ulrich, the Grand Chamberlain, had written to inform
him that Sidonia had been sent away in a coach to Stettin, with
the executioner on the box.
Here Sidonia sobbed so violently that no word could she utter;
therefore the son replied that such had been done, but that he
had been given a horse from the ducal stables, and had followed
the coach; and when they stopped at Uckermund for the night, he
had secretly got speech with Sidonia, and advised her to try and
remove the planks from the bottom of the carriage and escape to
him, for that he would be quite close at hand. And he did what he
could that night to loosen the boards himself. So in the morning
Sidonia got them up easily, and first dropped her baggage out
through the hole, which he picked up; and then, as they came to a
soft, sandy tract where the coach had to go very slowly, she let
herself also down through it, and sinking in the deep sand, let
the coach go over her without any hurt. Then he came to her, and
they fled to the next town, where he bought a waggon from some
peasants, for her and her luggage to proceed into Stargard, for
she was ashamed to appear before Duke Barnim, and wished to get on
from Stargard to Stramehl; but when they reached Damm, they heard
such wild tales of the robbers and partisans who infested the
roads, that Sidonia grew alarmed, and made him go by water for
safety. So he left the horse and waggon at the inn, and took ship
with the merchants who were going to Stargard. These were their
adventures. The rest his father knew as well as himself.
The burgomaster then asked Sidonia had he spoken truth. So she
dried her eyes, and nodded her head for "Yes."
Then he admonished her gravely, for that she, a noble maiden,
could have dishonoured herself with a mere burgher's son, like his
Johann, in whom even he, his own father, must say, there was
nothing to tempt any girl. And now she knew the truth of those
words of St. James: "Lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth
sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
Her sin had, indeed, brought forth her father's death;--would that
he could say only his _temporal_ death. This her father had
himself asserted in his testament, which he held now in his hands,
and for this cause had left all his goods, lands, and castles to
her brother Otto--only giving her two farm-houses in Zachow to
save her from the beggar's staff, and their noble name from
falling into yet greater contempt--and, in addition, he had cursed
her with terrible curses; but these might be yet turned away, if
she would incline her heart to God, and lead a pious, honest life
for the rest of her days. And much more the worthy man preached to
her; but she interrupted him, having found her tongue at last, and
exclaimed in wrath, "What! has the good-for-nothing old churl
written this? Let me see it; it cannot be true."
So the burgomaster reached her the paper, and, as she read, her
colour changed, and at last she shrieked aloud and fell down
before the burgomaster, clasping his knees, and praying by the
Jesu cross not to send such a testament to her brother, for that
he was still harder than her father, because he was by nature
avaricious, and would grudge her even salt with her bread. Let him
remember that his son had promised her marriage, and would he
destroy his own children?
Then Jacob Appelmann turned to his profligate son, and asked,
"Does she speak the truth? Have you promised her marriage?"
But the shameless knave answered, "True, I so promised her, when
we were at Uckermund; but now that she has no money, I wash my
hands of her."
Such villainy made the old man flame with indignation. "He would
make him know that he must stand by his word--he would force him
to it, if he could only think it would be for the advantage of
this wretched girl. But he would admonish her to give him up; did
she not see that he was shameless, cruel, and selfish? and how
could she ever hope to turn to God and lead a new life with such
an infamous partner? _Item_, his son should be made to work,
and to feel poverty, so that his evil desires might be stifled;
and as for her, let her go in God's name to Zachow, and there in
solitude repent her sins, and strive to win the favour of God."
But that was no water for her mill; so she continued to lament,
and weep, and pray the burgomaster not to send the will to her
harsh brother; upon which he answered mildly, "Wert thou to lie at
my feet till morning, it would not help thee: the testament goes
this day to Stramehl; but I will do this for thee. Thy father left
me some rose-nobles, in a purse which he carried about with him,
as a compensation for my spices, which he strewed before the Jews
in Stramehl, of which deed thou, too, wert also guilty, as I know;
therefore I was not ashamed to take the money. But of the purse
thy father said naught; so I had it in my mind to keep it--for, in
truth, it is of more worth than the nobles it contained. If I
mistake not, these are true pearls and diamonds with which it is
broidered. Look, here it is. What sayest thou?"
Here she sobbed, and answered, "She knew it well; she had
broidered the purse herself. They were her mother's pearls and
diamonds, and part of her bridal gear; truly they were worth three
"Then," said the brave old man, "I will give thee this purse,
since it was not named either for me or for thy brother at
Stramehl. Take it to Zachow; thou wilt make a good penny of it. Be
pious, and God-fearing, and industrious, remembering what the Holy
Scripture says (Prov. xxxi.): 'A virtuous woman takes wool and
flax, and labours diligently with her hands. She stretches out her
hands to the wheel, and her fingers grasp the spindle.' Hadst thou
learned this, in place of thy costly broidery, methinks it would
have been better with thee this day."
As he thus spoke, he put the purse in her hands, and she instantly
hid it in her pocket. But the profligate Johann now suddenly
became repentant, for he thought, if I can obtain nothing good
from my father, I may at least get the purse. So he began to weep
and lament, and fell down, too, at his father's feet, saying, if
he would only pardon him this once, he would indeed take this poor
maiden to wife, as he had promised her, for he alone was guilty of
her sin; only would his heart's dearest father forgive him? And so
the hypocrite went on with his lies.
Whereupon his father made answer honourably and mildly--"Such
promises thou hast often made, but never kept. However, I will try
thee yet again. If thou wilt spend each day diligently writing in
the council-office, and return each night to sleep in my chamber,
and continue this good conduct for a few years, to testify thy
repentance, as a brave and upright son, and Sidonia meanwhile
continues to lead a godly and humble life at Zachow, then, in
God's name, ye shall both marry, and make amends for your sin; but
not before that."
As he said this, and bid his son stand up, the hypocrite answered,
yes, he would do the will of his dear father; but then he must
keep back this testament; so would his children be happy.
Otherwise, wherefore should they marry?--what could they live on?
A couple of cabins in Zachow would not be enough.
"Truly," replied the old man, "if I were as great a knave as thou
art, I would do as thou hast said; yet, though the loss of the
spices, which her father wickedly destroyed, did me such injury
that I had to sell my house, to get the means of living and
keeping thee at the University of Grypswald, I will keep my hands
pure from the property of another, even if this property belonged
to my greatest enemy, and the enemy of this good town also.
_Summa_, this day thou shalt go to the council-office, the
testament to Stramehl, and Sidonia to Zachow."
So the knave was silent: but Sidonia still resisted; she would not
go to Zachow--never; but if he would send her to Stettin, she was
certain the good Duke Barnim would be kind to an unfortunate
maiden, who had done nothing more than what thousands do in
secret. And whatever the gracious Prince resolved concerning her,
she would abide by.
When the burgomaster heard this speech, he saw that no amendment
was to be expected from her; and as he had no authority to compel
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