Sidonia The Sorceress V1
Part 8 out of 8
the patron's flying wig had been a standing joke in the country
But the young lord still shook his head--
"Ah, they would yet see who was right. He was still of the same
But I shall leave these arguments at once, for the result will
fully show which party was in the right.
_Summa._--Sidonia, next day, drove in her one-horse cart
again to the convent gate at Marienfliess, accompanied by another
old hag as her servant. Now the peasants had just arrived with the
salmon, which the Duke despatched every fortnight as a present to
the convent, and the letter of his Grace had arrived also. So,
many of the nuns were assembled on the great steps looking at the
fish, and waiting for the abbess to divide it amongst them, as was
her custom. Others were gathered round the abbess, weeping as she
told them of the Duke's letter, and the good mother herself nearly
fainted when she read it.
So Sidonia drove straight into the court, as the gates were lying
open, and shouted--
"What the devil! Is this a nuns' cloister, where all the gates lie
open, and the carls come in and out as if it were a dove-cot?
Shame on ye, for light wantons! Wait; Sidonia will bring you into
order. Ha! ye turned me out; but now ye must have me, whether ye
will or no!"
At such blasphemies the nuns were struck dumb. However, the abbess
seemed as though she heard them not, but advancing, bid Sidonia
welcome, and said--
"It was not possible to receive her into the cloister, until she
had command from his Grace so to do, which command she now held in
This softened Sidonia somewhat, and she asked--
"What are the nuns doing there with the fish?"
"Dividing the salmon," was the answer.
Whereupon she jumped out of the cart, and declared that she must
get her portion also, for salmon was a right good thing for
Whereupon the sub-prioress, Dorothea von Stettin, cut her off a
fine large head-piece, which Sidonia, however, pushed away
"Fie! what did she mean by that? The devil might eat the
head-piece, but give her the tail. She had never in her life eaten
anything but the tail-piece; the tail was fatter."
So the abbess signed to them to give her the tail-end; after
which, she asked to see her cell, and, on being shown it, cried
"Fie on them! was that a cell for a lady of her degree? Why, it
was a pig-sty. Let the abbess put her young litter of nuns there;
they would be better in it than running up and down the convent
court with the fish-carls. She must and will have the refectory."
And when the abbess answered--
"That was the prayer-room, where the sisters met night and morning
for vespers and matins," she heeded not, but said--
"Let them pray in the chapel--the chapel is large enough."
And so saying, she commanded her maid, who was no other than Wolde
Albrechts, though not a soul in the convent knew her, to carry all
her luggage straight into the refectory.
What could the poor abbess do? She had to submit, and not only
give her up the refectory, but, finding that she had no bed, order
one in for her. _Item,_ seeing that Sidonia was in rags, she
desired black serge for a robe to be brought, and a white veil,
such as the sisterhood wore, and bid the nuns stitch them up for
her, thinking thus to win her over by kindness. Also she desired
tables, stools, &c., to be arranged in the refectory, since she so
ardently desired to possess this room. But what fruit all this
kindness brought forth we shall see in _liber tertius_.
END OF SECOND BOOK.
FROM THE RECEPTION OF SIDONIA INTO THE CONVENT AT MARIENFLIESS UP
TILL HER EXECUTION, AUGUST 19th, 1620.
_How the sub-prioress, Dorothea Stettin, visits Sidonia and
extols her virtue--Item, of Sidonia's quarrel with the dairywoman,
and how she beats the sheriff himself, Eggert Sparling, with a
MOST EMINENT AND ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE!--Your Serene Highness will
surely pardon me if I pass over, in _libra tertio_, many of
the quarrels, bickerings, strifes, and evil deeds, with which
Sidonia disturbed the peace of the convent, and brought many a
goodly person therein to a cruel end; first, because these things
are already much known and talked of; and secondly, because such
dire and Satanic wickedness must not be so much as named to gentle
ears by me.
I shall therefore only set down a few of the principal events of
her convent life, by which your Grace and others may easily
conjecture much of what still remains unsaid; for truly wickedness
advanced and strengthened in her day by day, as decay in a rotting
The morning after her arrival in the convent, while it was yet
quite early, and Wolde Albrechts, her lame maid, was sweeping out
the refectory, the sub-prioress, Dorothea Stettin, came to pay her
a visit. She had a piece of salmon, and a fine haddock's liver, on
a plate, to present to the lady, and was full of joy and gratitude
that so pious and chaste a maiden should have entered this
convent. "Ah, yes! it was indeed terrible to see how the convent
gates lay open, and the men-folk walked in and out, as the lady
herself had seen yesterday. And would sister Sidonia believe it,
sometimes the carls came in bare-legged? Not alone old Matthias
Winterfeld, the convent porter, but others--yea, even in their
shirt-sleeves sometimes--oh, it was shocking even to think of! She
had talked about it long enough, but no one heeded her, though
truly she was sub-prioress, and ought to have authority. However,
if sister Sidonia would make common cause with her from this time
forth, modesty and sobriety might yet be brought back to their
Sidonia desired nothing better than to make common cause with the
good, simple Dorothea--but for her own purposes. Therefore she
answered, "Ay, truly; this matter of the open gates was a grievous
sin and shame. What else were these giddy wantons thinking of but
lovers and matrimony? She really blushed to see them yesterday."
_Illa._--"True, true; that was just it. All about love and
marriage was the talk for ever amongst them. It made her heart die
within her to think what the young maidens were nowadays."
_Hæc._--"Had she any instances to bring forward; what had
_Illa._--"Alas! instances enough. Why, not long since, a nun
had married with a clerk, and this last chaplain, David Grosskopf,
had taken another nun to wife himself."
_Hæc._--"Oh, she was ready to faint with horror."
_Illa _ (sobbing, weeping, and falling upon Sidonia's
neck).--"God be praised that she had found one righteous soul in
this Sodom and Gomorrah. Now she would swear friendship to her for
life and death! And had she a little drop of wine, just to pour on
the haddock's liver? it tasted so much better stewed in wine! but
she would go for some of her own. The liver must just get one turn
on the fire, and then the butter and spices have to be added. She
would teach her how to do it if she did not know, only let the old
maid make up the fire."
_Hæc_.--"What was she talking about? Cooking was child's play
to her; she had other things to cook than haddocks' livers."
_Illa_ (weeping).--"Ah! let not her chaste sister be angry;
she had meant it all in kindness."
_Hæc_.--"No doubt--but why did she call the convent a Sodom
and Gomorrah? Did the nuns ever admit a lover into their cells?"
_Illa_ (screaming with horror).--"No, no, fie! how could the
chaste sister bring her lips to utter such words?"
_Hæc_.--"What did she mean, then, by the Sodom and Gomorrah?"
_Illa_.--"Alas! the whole world was a Sodom and Gomorrah,
why, then, not the convent, since it lay in the world? For though
we do not sin in words or works, yet we may sin in thought; and
this was evidently the case with some of these young things, for
if the talk in their hearing was of marriage, they laughed and
tittered, so that it was a scandal and abomination!"
_Hæc_.--"But had she anything else to tell her--what had she
_Illa_.--"Ah! she had forgotten. The abbess sent to say, that
she must begin to knit the gloves directly for the canons of
Camyn. Here was the thread."
_Hæc_.--"Thousand devils! what did she mean?" _Illa_
(crossing herself).--"Ah! the pious sister might let the devils
alone, though (God be good to us) the world was indeed full of
_Hæc_.--"What did she mean, then, by this knitting--to talk
to her so--the lady of castles and lands?"
_Illa_.--"Why, the matter was thus. The reverend canons of
Camyn, who were twelve in number, purchased their beer always from
the convent--for such had been the usage from the old Catholic
times--and sent a waggon regularly every half-year to fetch it
home. In return for this goodness, the nuns knit a pair of thread
gloves for each canon in spring, and a pair of woollen ones in
_Hæc_.--"Then the devil may knit them if he chooses, but she
never will. What! a lady of her rank to knit gloves for these old
fat paunches! No, no; the abbess must come to her! Send a message
to bid her come."
And truly, in a little time, the abbess, Magdalena von Petersdorf,
came as she was bid; for she had resolved to try and conquer
Sidonia's pride and insolence by softness and humility.
But what a storm of words fell upon the worthy matron!
"Was this treatment, forsooth, for a noble lady? To be told to
knit gloves for a set of lazy canons. Marry, she had better send
the men at once to her room, to have them tried on. No wonder that
levity and wantonness should reign throughout the convent!"
Here the good mother interposed--
"But could not sister Sidonia moderate her language a little? Such
violence ill became a spiritual maiden. If she would not hold by
the old usage, let her say so quietly, and then she herself, the
abbess, would undertake to knit the gloves, since the work so
Then she turned to leave the room, but, on opening the door,
tumbled right against sister Anna Apenborg, who was stuck up close
to it, with her ear against the crevice, listening to what was
passing inside. Anna screamed at first, for the good mother's head
had given her a stout blow, but recovering quickly, as the two
prioresses passed out, curtsied to Sidonia--
"Her name was Anna Apenborg. Her father, Elias, dwelt in
Nadrensee, near Old Stettin, and her great-great-grandfather,
Caspar, had been with Bogislaff X. in the Holy Land. She had come
to pay her respects to the new sister, for she was cooking in the
kitchen yesterday when the lady arrived, and never got a sight of
her, but she heard that this dear new sister was a great lady,
with castles and lands. Her father's cabin was only a poor thing
thatched with straw," &c.
All this pleased the proud Sidonia mightily, so she beckoned her
into the room, where the aforesaid Anna immediately began to stare
about her, and devour everything with her eyes; but seeing such
scanty furniture, remarked inquiringly--
"The dear sister's goods are, of course, on the road?"
This spoiled all Sidonia's good-humour in a moment, and she
"What brought her there?"
Hereupon the other excused herself--
"The maid had told her that the dear sister was going to eat her
salmon for her lunch, with bread and butter, but it was much
better with kale, and if she had none, her maid might come down
now and cut some in the garden. This was what she had to say. She
heard, indeed, that the sub-prioress and Agnes Kleist ate their
salmon stewed in butter, but that was too rich; for one should be
very particular about salmon, it was so apt to disagree. However,
if sister Sidonia would just mind her, she would teach her all the
different ways of dressing it, and no one was ever the worse for
eating salmon, if they followed her plan."
But before Sidonia had time to answer, the chatterbox had run to
the door and lifted the latch--
"There was a strange woman in the courtyard, with something under
her apron. She must go and see what it was, but would be back
again instantly with the news."
In a short time she returned, bringing along with her Sheriff
Sparling's dairy-woman, who carried a large bundle of flax under
her apron. This she set down before Sidonia--
"And his worship bid her say that she must spin all this for him
without delay, for he wanted a new set of shirts, and the thread
must be with the weaver by Christmas."
When Sidonia heard this, she fell into a right rage in earnest--
"May the devil wring his ears, the peasant carl! To send such a
message to a lady of her degree!"
Then she pitched the flax out of the door, and wanted to shove the
dairy-woman out after it, but she stopped, and said--
"His worship gave all the nuns a bushel of seed for their trouble,
and sowed it for them; so she had better do as the others did."
Sidonia, however, was not to be appeased--
"May the devil take her and her flax, if she did not trot out of
So she pushed the poor woman out, and then panting and blowing
with rage, asked Anna Apenborg to tell her what this boor of a
sheriff was like?
_Illa_.--"He was a strange man. Ate fish every day, and
always cooked the one way, namely, in beer. How this was possible
she could not understand. To-day she heard he was to have pike for
_Hæc_.--"Was she asking the fool what he ate? What did she
care about his dinners? But what sort of man was he, and did all
the nuns, in truth, spin for him?"
_Illa_.--"Ay, truly, except Barbara Schetzkow; she was dead
now. But once when he went storming to her cell, she just turned
him out, and so she had peace ever after. For he roared like a
bear, but, in truth, was a cowardly rabbit, this same sheriff. And
she heard, that one time, when he was challenged by a noble, he
shrank away, and never stood up to his quarrel."
But just then in walked the sheriff himself, with a horse-whip in
his hand. He was a thick-set, grey-headed fellow, and roared at
"What! thou old, lean hag--so thou wilt spin no flax? May the
devil take thee, but thou shalt obey my commands!"
While he thus scolded, Sidonia quietly caught hold of the broom,
and grasping it with both hands, gave such a blow with the handle
on the grey pate of the sheriff, that he tumbled against the door,
while she screamed out--
"Ha! thou peasant boor, take that for calling me a hag--the lady
of castle and lands!"
Then she struck him again and again, till the sheriff at last got
the door open and bolted out, running down the stairs as hard as
he could, and into the courtyard, where, when he was safely
landed, he shook the horsewhip up at Sidonia's windows, crying
"I will make you pay dear for this. Anna Apenborg was witness of
the assault. I will swear information this very day before his
Highness, how the hag assaulted me, the sheriff, and
superintendent of the convent, in the performance of my duty, and
pray him to deliver an honourable cloister from the presence of
such a vagabond."
Then he went to the abbess, and begged her and the nuns to sustain
him in his accusation--
"Such wickedness and arrogance had never yet been seen under the
sun. Let the good abbess only feel his head; there was a lump as
big as an egg on it. Truly, he had had a mind to horsewhip her
black and blue; but that would have been illegal; so he thanked
God that he had restrained himself."
Then he made the abbess feel his head again; also Anna Apenborg,
who happened to come in that moment. But the worthy mother knew
not what to do. She told the sheriff of Sidonia's behaviour as she
drove into the convent; also how she had possessed herself of the
refectory by force, refused to knit or spin, and had sent for her,
the abbess, bidding her come to her, as if she were no better than
At last the sheriff desired all the nuns to be sent for, and in
their presence drew up a petition to his Highness, praying that
the honourable convent might be delivered from the presence of
this dragon, for that no peace could be expected within the walls
until this vagabond and evil-minded old hag were turned out on the
road again, or wherever else his Highness pleased. Every one
present signed this, with the exception of Anna Apenborg and the
sub-prioress, Dorothea Stettin. And many think that in
consideration of this gentleness, Sidonia afterwards spared their
lives, and did not bring them to a premature grave, like as she
did the worthy abbess and others.
For the next time that she caught Anna at her old habit of
listening, Sidonia said, while boxing her--
"You should get something worse than a box on the ear, only for
your refusal to sign that lying petition to his Highness."
_Summa_.--After a few days, an answer arrived from his Grace
the Duke of Stettin, and the abbess, with the sheriff, proceeded
with it to Sidonia's apartment.
They found her brewing beer, an art in which she excelled; and the
letter which they handed to her ran thus, according to the copy
received likewise by the convent:--
"WE, BOGISLAFF, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, DUKE OF STETTIN, &c.
"Having heard from our sheriff and the pious sisterhood of
Marienfliess, of thy unseemly behaviour, in causing uproars and
tumults in the convent; further, of thy having struck our worthy
sheriff on the head with a broom-stick--We hereby declare, desire,
and command, that, unless thou givest due obedience to the
authorities, lay and spiritual, doing this well, with humility and
meekness, even as the other sisters, the said authorities shall
have full power to turn thee out of the convent, by means of their
bailiffs or otherwise, as they please, giving thee back again to
that perdition from which thou wast rescued. Further, thou art
herewith to deliver up the refectory to the abbess, of which We
hear thou hast shamefully possessed thyself.
"Old Stettin, 10th November, 1603.
Sidonia scarcely looked at the letter, but thrust it under the pot
on the fire, where it soon blazed away to help the brewing, and
"They had forged it between them; the Prince never wrote a line of
it. Nor would he have sent it to her by the hands of her enemies.
Let it burn there. Little trouble would she take to read their
villainy. But never fear, they should have something in return for
Hereupon she blew on them both, and they had scarcely reached the
court, after leaving her apartment, when both were seized with
excruciating pains in their limbs; both the sheriff and the abbess
were affected in precisely the same way--a violent pain first in
the little finger, then on through the hand, up the arm, finally,
throughout the whole frame, as if the members were tearing
asunder, till they both screamed aloud for very agony. Doctor
Schwalenberg is sent for from Stargard, but his salve does no
good; they grow worse rather, and their cries are dreadful to
listen to, for the pain has become intolerable.
So my brave sheriff turns from a roaring ox into a poor cowardly
hare, and sends off the dairy-woman with a fine haunch of venison
and a sweetbread to Sidonia: "His worship's compliments to the
illustrious lady with these, and begged to know if she could send
him anything good for the rheumatism, which had attacked him quite
suddenly. The Stargard doctor was not worth the air he breathed,
and his salve had only made him worse in place of better. He would
send the illustrious lady also some pounds of wax-lights; she
might like them through the winter, but they were not made yet."
When Sidonia heard this she laughed loudly, danced about, and
repeated the verse which was then heard for the first time from
her lips; but afterwards she made use of it, when about any evil
"Also kleien und also kratzen,
Meine Hunde und meine Katzen."
["So claw and so scratch,
My dogs and my cats."]
The dairy-woman stood by in silent wonder, first looking at
Sidonia, then at Wolde, who began to dance likewise, and
"Also kleien und also kratzen,
Unsre Hunde und unsre Katzen."
["So claw and so scratch,
Our dogs and our cats."]
At last Sidonia answered, "This time I will help him; but if he
ever bring the roaring ox out of the stall again, assuredly he
will repent it."
Hereon the dairy-mother turned to depart, but suddenly stood quite
still, staring at Anne Wolde; at length said, "Did I not see thee
years ago spinning flax in my mother's cellar, when the folk
wanted to bring thee to an ill end?"
But the hag denied it all--"The devil may have been in her
mother's cellar, but she had never seen Marienfliess in her life
before, till she came hither with this illustrious lady."
So the other seemed to believe her, and went out; and by the time
she reached her master's door, his pains had all vanished, so that
he rode that same day at noon to the hunt.
The poor abbess heard of all this through Anna Apenborg, and
thereupon bethought herself of a little embassy likewise.
So she bid Anna take all sorts of good pastry, and a new kettle,
and greet the Lady Sidonia from her--"Could the dear sister give
her anything for the rheumatism?" She heard the sheriff was quite
cured, and all the doctor's salves and plasters were only making
her worse. She sent the dear sister a few dainties--_item_, a
new kettle, as her own kettle had not yet arrived. _Item_,
she begged her acceptance of all the furniture, &c., which she had
lent her for her apartment.
At this second message, the horrible witch laughed and danced as
before, repeating the same couplet; and the old hag, Wolde, danced
behind her like her shadow.
Now Anna Apenborg's curiosity was excited in the highest degree at
all this, and her feet began to beat up and down on the floor as
if she were dying to dance likewise; at last she exclaimed, "Ah,
dear lady! what is the meaning of that? Could you not teach it to
me, if it cures the rheumatism? that is, if there be no devil's
work in it (from which God keep us). I have twelve pounds of wool
lying by me; will you take it, dear lady, for teaching me the
But Sidonia answered, "Keep your wool, good Anna, and I will keep
my secret, seeing that it is impossible for me to teach it to you;
for know, that a woman can only learn it of a man, and a man of a
woman; and this we call the doctrine of sympathies. However, go
your ways now, and tell the abbess that, if she does my will, I
will visit her and see what I can do to help her; but, remember,
my will she must do."
Hereupon sister Anna was all eagerness to know what her will was,
but Sidonia bade her hold her tongue, and then locked up the
viands in the press, while Wolde went into the kitchen with the
kettle, where Anna Apenborg followed her slowly, to try and pick
something out of the old hag, but without any success, as one may
_How Sidonia visits the abbess, Magdalena von Petersdorf, and
explains her wishes, but is diverted to other objects by a sight
of David Ludeck, the chaplain to the convent._
When Sidonia went to visit the abbess, as she had promised, she
found her lying in bed and moaning, so that it might have melted
the heart of a stone; but the old witch seemed quite
surprised--"What could be the matter with the dear, good mother?
but by God's help she would try and cure her. Only, concerning
this little matter of the refectory, it might as well be settled
first, for Anna Apenborg told her the room was to be taken from
her; but would not the good mother permit her to keep it?"
And when the tortured matron answered, "Oh yes; keep it, keep it,"
Sidonia went on--
"There was just another little favour she expected for curing her
dear mother (for, by God's help, she expected to cure her). This
was, to make her sub-prioress in place of Dorothea Stettin; for,
in the first place, the situation was due to her rank, she being
the most illustrious lady in the convent, dowered with castles and
lands; secondly, because her illustrious forefathers had helped to
found this convent; and thirdly, it was due to her age, for she
was the natural mother of all these young doves, and much more
fitted to keep them in order and strict behaviour than Dorothea
Here the abbess answered, "How could she make her sub-prioress
while the other lived? This was not to be done? Truly sister
Dorothea was somewhat prudish and whining, this she could not
deny, for she had suffered many crosses in her path; but, withal,
she was an upright, honest creature, with the best and simplest
heart in the world; and so little selfishness, that verily she
would lay down her life for the sisterhood, if it were necessary."
_Illa_.--"A good heart was all very well, but what could it
do without respect? and how could a poor fool be respected who
fell into fits if she saw a bride, particularly here, where the
young sisters thought of nothing but marriage from morning till
_Hæc_.--"Yet she was held in great respect and honour by all
the sisterhood, as she herself could testify."
_Illa_.--"Stuff! she must be sub-prioress, and there was an
end of it, or the abbess might lie groaning there till she was as
stiff as a pole."
"Alas! Sidonia," answered the abbess, "I would rather lie here as
stiff as a pole--or, in other words, lie here a corpse, for I
understand thy meaning--than do aught that was unjust."
_Illa_.--"What was unjust? The old goose need not be turned
out of her office by force, but persuaded out of it--that would be
an easy matter, if she were so humble and excellent a creature."
_Hæc_.--"But then deceit must be practised, and that she
could never bring herself to."
_Illa_.--"Yet you could all practise deceit against me, and
send off that complaint to his Highness the Prince."
_Hæc_.--"There was no falsehood there nor deceit, but the
openly expressed wish of the whole convent, and of his worship the
_Illa_.--"Then let the whole convent and his worship the
sheriff make her well again; she would not trouble herself about
Whereupon she rose to depart, but the suffering abbess stretched
out her hands, and begged, for the sake of Jesus, that she would
release her from this torture! "Take everything--everything thou
wishest, Sidonia--only leave me my good conscience. Thy dying hour
must one day come too; oh! think on that."
_Illa_.--"The dying hour is a long way off yet" (and she
moved to the door).
"Why should health from God estrange thee?
Morning cometh and may change thee;
Life, to-day, its hues may borrow
Where the grave-worm feeds to-morrow."
_Illa_.--"Look to yourself then. Speak! Make me sub-prioress,
and be Cured on the instant."
_Hæc _ (turning herself back upon the pillow).--"No, no,
"'Softest pillow for the dying,
Is a conscience void of dread.'
Go, leave me; my life is in the hand of God. 'For if we live, we
live unto the Lord; and if we die, we die unto the Lord. Living,
therefore, or dying, we are the Lord's.'"
So saying, the pious mother turned her face to the wall, and
Sidonia went out of the chamber.
In a little while, however, she returned--"Would the good mother
promise, at least, to offer no opposition, if Dorothea Stettin
proposed, of her own free will, to resign the office of
sub-prioress? If so, let her reach forth her hand; she would soon
find the pains leave her."
The poor abbess assented to this, and oh, wonder! as it came, so
it went; first out of the little finger, and then by degrees out
of the whole body, so that the old mother wept for joy, and
thanked her murderess.
Just then the door opened, and David Ludeck, the chaplain, whom
the abbess had sent for, entered in his surplice. He was a fine
tall man, of about thirty-five years, with bright red lips and
He wondered much on hearing how the abbess had been cured by what
Sidonia called "sympathies," and smelled devil's work in it, but
said nothing--for he was afraid; spoke kindly to the witch-hag
even, and extolled her learning and the nobility of her race;
declaring that he knew well that the Von Borks had helped mainly
to found this cloister.
This mightily pleased the sorceress, and she grew quite friendly,
asking him at last, "What news he had of his wife and children?"
And when he answered, "He had no wife nor children," her eyes lit
up again like old cinders, and she began to jest with him about
his going about so freely in a cloister, as she observed he did.
But when she saw that the priest looked grave at the jestings, she
changed her tone, and demurely asked him, "If he would be ready
after sermon on Sunday to assist at her assuming the nun's dress;
for though many had given up this old usage, yet she would hold by
it, for love of Jesu." This pleased the priest, and he promised to
be prepared. Then Sidonia took her leave; but scarcely had she
reached her own apartment when she sent for Anna Apenborg. "What
sort of man was this chaplain? she saw that he went about the
convent at his pleasure. This was strange when he was unmarried."
_Illa_.--"He was a right friendly and well-behaved gentleman.
Nothing unseemly in word or deed had ever been heard of him."
_Hæc_.--"Then he must have some private love-affair."
_Illa_.--"Some said he was paying court to Bamberg's sister
there in Jacobshagen."
_Hæc_.--"Ha! very probable. But was it true? for otherwise he
should never go about amongst the nuns the way he did. It was
quite abominable: an unmarried man; Dorothea Stettin was right.
But how could they ascertain the fact?"
_Illa_.--"That was easily done. She was going next morning to
Jacobshagen, and would make out the whole story for her. Indeed,
she herself, too, was curious about it."
_Hæc_.--"All right. This must be done for the honour of the
cloister. For according to the rules of 1569, the court chaplain
was to be an old man, who should teach the sisters to read and
write. Whereas, here was a fine carl with red lips and a black
beard--unmarried too. Did he perchance ever teach any of them to
read or write?"
_Illa_.--"No; for they all knew how already."
_Hæc_.--"Still there was something wrong in it. No, no, in
such matters youth has no truth; Dorothea Stettin was quite right.
Ah, what a wonderful creature, that excellent Dorothea! Such
modesty and purity she had never met with before. Would that all
young maidens were like her, and then this wicked world would be
_Illa_ (sighing).--"Ah, yes; but then sister Dorothea went
rather far in her notions."
_Hæc_.--"How so? In these matters one could never go too
_Illa_.--"Why, when a couple were called in church, or a
woman was churched, Dorothea nearly fainted. Then, there was a
niche in the chancel for which old Duke Barnim had given them an
Adam and Eve, which he turned and carved himself. But Dorothea was
quite shocked at the Adam, and made a little apron to hang before
him, though the abbess and the whole convent said that it was not
necessary. But she told them, that unless Adam wore his apron,
never would she set foot in the chapel. Now, truly this was going
rather far. _Item_, she has been heard to wonder how the Lord
God could send all the animals naked into the world; as cats,
dogs, horses, and the like. Indeed, she one day disputed sharply
on the matter with the chaplain; but he only laughed at her,
whereupon Dorothea went away in a sulk."
Here Sidonia laughed outright too; but soon said with grave
decorum, "Quite right. The excellent Dorothea was a treasure above
all treasures for the convent. Ah, such chastity and virtue were
rarely to be met with in this wicked world."
Now Anna Apenborg had hardly turned her back, to go and chatter
all this back again to the sub-prioress, when Sidonia proceeded to
tap some of her beer, and called the convent porter to her,
Matthias Winterfeld, bidding him carry it with her greetings to
the chaplain, David Ludeck. (For her own maid, Wolde, was lame,
ever since the racking she got at Wolgast. So Sidonia was in the
habit of sending the porter all her messages, much to his
annoyance.) When he came now he was in his shirt-sleeves, at which
Sidonia was wroth--"What did he mean by going about the convent in
shirt-sleeves? Never let him appear before her eyes in such
unseemly trim. And was this a time even for shirt-sleeves, when
they were in the month of November? But winter or summer, he must
never appear so,"
Hereupon the fellow excused himself. He was killing geese for some
of the nuns, and had just put off his coat, not to have it spoiled
by the down; but she is nothing mollified--scolds him still, so
the fellow makes off without another word, fearing he might get a
touch of the rheumatism, like the abbess and his worship the
sheriff, and carries the beer-can to the reverend chaplain; from
whom he soon brings back "his grateful acknowledgments to the Lady
Two days now passed over, but on the third morning Anna Apenborg
trotted into the refectory full of news. She was quite tired from
her journey yesterday; for the snow was deep on the roads, but to
pleasure sister Sidonia (and besides, as it was a matter that
concerned the honour of the convent) she had set off to
Jacobshagen, though indeed the snow lay ankle-deep. However, she
was well repaid, and had heard all she wanted; oh, there was great
_Illa_.--"Quick! what? how? why? Remember it is for the
honour and reputation of the entire convent."
_Hæc_.--"She had first gone to one person, who pretended not
to know anything at all of the matter; but then another person had
told her the whole story--under the seal of the strictest secrecy,
_Illa_.--"What is it? what is it? How she went on chattering
_Hæc_.--"But will the dear sister promise not to breathe it
to mortal? She would be ruined with her best friend otherwise."
_Illa_.--"Nonsense, girl; who could I repeat it to? Come, out
So Anna began, in a very long-winded manner, to explain how the
burgomaster's wife in Jacobshagen said that her maid said that
Provost Bamberg's maid said, that while she was sweeping his study
the other morning, she heard the provost's sister say to her
brother in the adjoining room, that she could not bear the
chaplain, David Ludeck, for he had been visiting there off and on
for ever so long, and yet never had asked her the question. He was
a faint-hearted coward evidently, and she hated faint-hearted men.
Sidonia grew as red as a lire-beacon when she heard this, and
walked up and down the apartment as if much perturbed, so that
Anna asked if the dear sister were ill? "No," was the answer. "She
was only thinking how best to get rid of this priest, and prevent
him running in and out of the convent whenever he pleased. She
must try and have an order issued, that he was only to visit the
nuns when they were sick. This very day she would see about it.
Could the good Anna tell her what the sheriff had for lunch
_Illa_.--"Ay, truly, could she; for the milk-girl, who had
brought her some fresh milk, told her that he had got plenty of
wild fowl, which the keeper had snared in the net; and there was
to be a sweetbread besides. But what was the dear sister herself
_Hæc_.--"No matter--but did she not hear a great ringing of
bells? What could the ringing be for?"
_Illa_.--"That was a strange thing, truly. And there was no
one dead, nor any child to be christened, that she had heard of.
She would just run out and see, and bring the dear sister word."
_Illa_.-"Well then, wait till evening, for it is near noon
now, and I expect a guest to lunch."
_Hæc_.--"Eh? a guest!--and who could it be?"
_Illa_.--"Why, the chaplain himself. I want to arrange about
So, hardly had she got rid of the chatterbox, when Sidonia called
the porter, Matthias, and bid him greet the reverend chaplain from
her, and say, that as she had somewhat to ask him concerning the
investiture on Sunday, would he be her guest that day at dinner?
She hoped to have some game with a sweetbread, and excellent beer
to set before him.
When the porter returned with the answer from his reverence,
accepting the invitation, she sent him straight to the sheriff
with a couple of covered dishes, and a message, begging his
worship to send her half-a-dozen brace or so of game, for she
heard that a great many had been taken in his nets; and a
sweetbread, if he had it, for she had a guest to-day at dinner.
So the dishes came back full--everything just ready to be served;
for the cunning hag knew well that he dare not refuse her; and
immediately afterwards the priest arrived to dinner. He was very
friendly, but Sidonia caught him looking very suspiciously at a
couple of brooms which she had laid crosswise under the table. So
she observed, "I lay these brooms there, to preserve our dear
mother and the sheriff from falling again into this sickness. It
is part of the doctrine of sympathies, and I learned it out of my
Herbal, as I can show you." Upon which she went to her trunk and
got the book for the priest, whose fears diminished when he saw
that it was _printed_; but he could not prevail on her to
lend it to him.
_Summa_.--The priest grew still more friendly over the good
eating and drinking; and she, the old hypocrite, discoursed him
the while about her heavenly bridegroom, and threw up her eyes and
sighed, at the same time pressing his hand fervently. But the
priest never minded it, for she was old enough to be his mother,
and besides, he remembered the Scripture--"No man can call Jesus
Lord, except through the Holy Ghost." So as her every third word
was "Jesus," he looked upon her as a most discreet and pious
Christian, and went away much satisfied by her and the good
_Sidonia tries another way to catch the priest, but fails
through a mistake--Item, of her horrible spell, whereby she
bewitched the whole princely race of Pomerania, so that, to the
grievous sorrow of their fatherland, they remain barren even unto
this day._ [Footnote: Note of Duke Bogislaff XIV.--"Ay, and
will to the last day, _vaeh mihi_."]
As soon as the pious abbess was able to leave her bed, she sent
for the priest, for she had strange suspicions about Sidonia, and
asked the reverend clerk, if indeed her cure could have been
effected by sympathy? and were it not rather some work of the
bodily Satan himself? But my priest assured her concerning
Sidonia's Christian faith; _item_, told, to the great
wonderment of the abbess, that she no longer cared for the
sub-prioret (we know why--she would sooner have the priest than
the prioret), but was content to let Dorothea Stettin keep it or
resign it, just as she pleased.
After this, the investiture of Sidonia took place, and the priest
blessed her at the altar, and admonished her to take as her model
the wise virgins mentioned Matt. xxv. (but God knows, she had
followed the foolish virgins up to that period, and never ceased
doing so to the end of her days).
Even on that very night, we shall see her conduct; for she bid her
maid, Wolde, run and call up the convent porter, and despatch him
instantly for the priest, saying that she was very ill, and he
must come and pray with her. This excited no suspicion, since she
herself had forbade the priest entering the convent, unless any of
the sisters were sick. But Anna Apenborg slipped out of bed when
she heard the noise, and watched from the windows for the porter's
return. Then she tossed up the window, though the snow blew in all
over her bed, and called out, "Well, what says he? will he come?
will he come?"
And when the fellow grunted in answer, "Yes, he's coming," she
wrapped a garment round her, and set herself to watch, though her
teeth were chattering from cold all the time. In due time the
priest came, whereupon the curious virgin crept out of her garret,
and down the stairs to a little window in the passage which looked
in upon the refectory, and through which, in former times,
provisions were sometimes handed in. There she could hear
everything that passed.
When the priest entered, Sidonia stretched out her meagre arms
towards him, and thanked him for coming; would he sit down here on
the bed, for there was no other seat in the room? she had much to
tell him that was truly wonderful. But the priest remained
standing: let her speak on.
_Illa_.--"Ah! it concerned himself. She had dreamt a strange
dream (God be thanked that it was not a reality), but it left her
no peace. Three times she awoke, and three fell asleep and dreamt
it again. At last she sent for him, for there might be danger in
store for him, and she would turn it away if possible."
_Hic_.--"It was strange, truly. What, then, had she dreamed?"
_Illa_.--"It seemed to her that murderers had got up into his
room through the window, and just as they were on the point of
strangling him, she had appeared and put them to flight,
whereupon--" (here she paused and sighed).
_Hic _(in great agitation).--"Go on, for God's sake go
_Illa_.--"Whereupon--ah! she must tell him now, since he
forced her to do it. Whereupon, out of gratitude, he took her to
be his wife, and they were married" (sighing, and holding both
hands before her eyes).
_Hic_ (clasping his hands).--"Merciful Heaven! how strange! I
dreamt all that precisely myself." [Footnote: The power of
producing particular dreams by volition, was recognised by the
ancients and philosophers of the Middle Ages. _Ex._ Albertus
Magnus relates (_De Mirabilibus Mundi_ 205) that horrible
dreams can be produced by placing an ape's skin under the pillow.
He also gives a receipt for making women tell their secrets in
sleep (but this I shall keep to myself). Such phenomena are
neither physiologically nor psychologically impossible, but our
modern physiologists are content to take the mere poor form of
nature, dissect it, anatomise it, and then bury it beneath the
sand of their hypotheses. Thus, indeed, "the dead bury their
dead," while all the strange, mysterious, inner powers of nature,
which the philosophers of the Middle Ages, as Psellus, Albertus
Magnus, Trithemius, Cardanus, Theophastus, &c., did so much to
elucidate, are at once flippantly and ignorantly placed in the
category of "Superstitions," "Absurdities," and "Artful
Upon which Sidonia cried out, "How can it be possible? Oh, it is
the will of God, David--it is the will of God" (and she seized him
by both hands).
But the priest remained as cold as the snow outside, drew back his
head, and said, "Ah! no doubt these absurdities about marriage
came into my head because I had been thinking so much over our
young Lord Philip of Wolgast, who was wedded to-day at Berlin."
Sidonia started up at this, and screamed in rage and anger--"What!
Duke Philip married to-day in Berlin? The accursed prioress told
me the wedding was not to be for eight days after the next new
The priest now was more astonished at her manner than even at the
coincidence of the dreams, and he started back from the bed.
Whereupon, perceiving the mistake she had made, the horrible witch
threw herself down again, and letting her head fall upon the
pillow, murmured, "Oh! my head! my head! She must have locked up
the moon in the cellar. How will the poor people see now by
night?--why did the prioress lock up the moon? Oh! my head! my
head!" Then she thanked the priest for coming--it was so good of
him; but she was worse--much worse. "Ah! her head! her head!
Better go now--but let him come again in the morning to see her."
So the good priest believed in truth that the detestable hag was
very ill, and evidently suffering from fever; so he went his way
pitying her much, and without the least suspicion of her wicked
Scarcely, however, had he closed the door, when Sidonia sprang
like a cat from her bed, and called out, "Wolde, Wolde!" And as
the old witch hobbled in with her lame leg, Sidonia raged and
stamped, crying out, "The accursed abbess has lied to me. Ernest
Ludovicus' brat was married to-day at Berlin. Oh! if I am too late
now, as on his father's marriage, I shall hang myself in the
laundry. Where is Chim--the good-for-nothing spirit?--he should
have seen to this." And she dragged him out and beat him, while he
quaked like a hare.
Whereupon Wolde called out, "Bring the padlock from the trunk."
The other answered, "What use now?--the bridal pair are long since
wedded and asleep." To which the old witch replied, "No; it is
twelve o'clock here, but in Berlin it wants a quarter to it yet.
There is time. The Berlin brides never retire to their apartment
till the clock strikes twelve. There is time still."
"Then," exclaimed Sidonia, "since the devil cannot tell me on what
day they hold bridal, I will make an end now of the whole accursed
griffin brood, in all its relationships, branch and root, now and
for evermore, in Wolgast as in Stettin; be they destroyed and
rooted out for ever and for ever." Then she took the padlock, and
murmured some words over it, of which Anna Apenborg could only
catch the names, Philip, Francis, George, Ulrich, Bogislaff, who
were all sons to Duke Bogislaff XIII., and, in truth, died each
one without leaving an heir. And, during the incantation, the
light trembled and burned dim upon the table, and the thing which
she had beaten seemed to speak with a human voice, and the bells
on the turret swung in the wind with a low sound, so that Anna
fell on her knees from horror, and scarcely dared to breathe. Then
the accursed sorceress gave the padlock and key to Wolde, bidding
her go forth by night and fling it into the sea, repeating the
"Hid deep in the sea
Let my dark spell be,
For ever, for ever!
To rise up never!"
Then Wolde asked, "Had she forgotten Duke Casimir?" Whereat
Sidonia laughed and said, "The spell had long been on him." And
immediately after, Anna Apenborg beheld _three_ shadows, in
place of two, thrown upon the white wall opposite the little
window. So she strengthened her heart to look in, and truly there
was _another_ form present now. And the three danced
together, and chanted strange rhymes, while the shadows on the
wall danced up and down likewise. Then a deep bass voice called
out, "Ha! there is Christian flesh here! Ha! there is Christian
flesh!" Whereupon Anna, though nearly dead with fright, crept up
to her garret on her knees, while loud laughter resounded behind
her; and it seemed as if old pots were flung up the stairs after
her. [Footnote: Note of Duke Bogislaff XIV.--Incredibile sane, et
tamen verum. Cur, mi Deus?--(It seems impossible, and yet how
true. Wherefore, my God?)
The spell by knotting the girdle is noticed by Virgil, 8th
"Necte tribus nodis ternos Amarylli colores;
Necte Amarylli modo, et Veneris die vincula necto."
[In three knots Amaryllis weaves three different colours;
Amaryllis knots and says: I knot the girdle of Venus.]
The use of the padlock is not mentioned until the Middle Ages,
when it seems to have been so much employed that severe ordinances
were directed against its use.] For the rest of that night she
could not close her eyes.
Next morning, one can easily imagine with what eagerness she
hurried to the abbess, to relate the past night's horrible tale.
Sidonia likewise is astir early, for by daybreak she despatched
her old lame Wolde to the chaplain (the porter was not up yet)
with a can of beer for his great trouble the night before, and
trusted it would strengthen his heart. In this beer she had poured
her detestable love-philtrum, to awaken a passion for herself in
the breast of the reverend David, but it turned out quite
otherwise, and ended after the most ludicrous fashion, no doubt
all owing to the malice of the spirit Chim, in revenge for the
blows she had given him the night previous; for, behold, as soon
as the priest had swallowed a right good draught of beer, he began
to stare at the old hag and murmur; then he passed his hand over
his eyes, and motioned her to remain. Again he looked at
her--twice, thrice--put some silver into her hand, and at last
spake--"Ah! Wolde, what a beautiful creature you are! Where have
my eyes been, that I never discovered this before?"
The cunning hag saw now plainly what the drink had done, and which
way the wind blew. So she sat herself down simpering, by the
stove, and my priest crept up close beside her; he took her
hand--"Ah! how fat and plump it was--such a beautiful hand."
But the old hag drew it back, saying, "Let me go, Mr. David!" To
which he answered, "Yes, go, my treasure! I love to see you walk!
What an exquisite limp! How stupid are men nowadays not to see all
the beauty of a limp! Ah! Venus knew it well, and therefore chose
Vulcan, for he, too, limped like my Wolde. Give me a kiss then,
loveliest of women! Ah! what enchanting snow-white hair, like the
purest silver, has my treasure on her head."
No wonder the old lame hag was tickled with the commendations,
for, in all the sixty years of her life, she never had heard the
like before. But she played the prude, and pushed away the priest
with her hand, just as, by good fortune, a messenger from the
abbess knocked at the door, with a request that the chaplain would
come to the good mother without delay. So the old hag went away
with the maid of the abbess, and the priest stopped to dress
himself more decently.
But in some time the abbess, who was on the watch, saw him
striding past her door; so she opened the window and called out to
know "Where was he going? Had he forgotten that she lived there?"
To which he answered, "He must first visit Sidonia." At this the
worthy matron stared at him in horror; but my priest went on; and
as he cared more for the maid than the mistress now, ran at once
into the kitchen, without waiting to see Sidonia in the refectory;
and seizing hold of Wolde, whispered, "That she must give him the
kiss now--she need not be such a prude, for he had no wife. And
what beautiful hair! Never in his life had he seen such beautiful
white hair!" But the old hag still resisted; and in the struggle a
stool, on which lay a pot, was thrown down.
Sidonia rushed in at the noise; and behold! there was my priest
holding Wolde by the hand. She nearly fainted at the sight. What
was he doing with her maid? Then seizing a heavy log of wood, she
began to lay it on Wolde's shoulders, who screamed and roared,
while my priest slunk away ashamed, without a word; and as he ran
down the steps, heard the blows and the screams still resounding
from the kitchen.
As he passed the door of the abbess's room, again she called him
in; but as he entered, she exclaimed in terror, "My God, what ails
your reverence? You look as black and red in the face as if you
had had a fit, and had grown ten years older in one night!"
"Nothing ails me," he answered; then sighed, and walked up and
down the room, murmuring, "What is the world to me? Why should I
care what the world thinks?" Then falls flat on the ground as if
he were dead, while the good abbess screams and calls for help. In
runs Anna Apenborg--_item_, several other sisters with their
maids, and they stretch the priest out upon a bench near the
stove, where he soon begins to foam at the mouth, and throw up all
the beer, with the love-philtrum therein, which he had drunk
(Sidonia's power effected this, no doubt, since she saw how
Then he heaved a deep sigh, opened his eyes, and asked, "Where am
I?" Whereupon, finding that his reason and clear understanding had
been restored to him, he requested the sisterhood to depart (for
they had all rushed in to hear what was going on) and leave him
alone with the abbess, as he had matter of grave import to discuss
with her. Whereupon they all went out, except Anna Apenborg, who
said that she, too, had matter of grave import to relate. So
finding she would not stir, the priest took her by the hand, and
put her out at the door along with the others.
Now when they were both left alone, we can easily imagine the
subject of their conversation. The poor priest made his
confession, concealing nothing, only lamenting bitterly how he had
disgraced his holy calling; but he had felt like one in a dream,
or under some influence which he could not shake off. In return,
the abbess told him of the horrible scene witnessed by Anna
Apenborg the night before; upon which they both agreed that no
more accursed witch and sorceress was in the world than their poor
cloister held at that moment. Finally, putting all the
circumstances together, the reverend David began to perceive what
designs Sidonia had upon him, particularly when he heard of Anna
Apenborg's visit to Jacobshagen, and the news which she had
brought back from thence. So to destroy all hope at once in the
accursed sorceress, and save himself from further importunity and
persecution on her part, he resolved to offer his hand the very
next day to Barbara Bamberg, for, in truth, he had long had an eye
of Christian love upon the maiden, who was pious and discreet, and
just suited to be a pastor's wife.
Then they agreed to send for the sheriff, and impart the whole
matter to him, he being cloister superintendent; but his answer
was, "Let them go to him, if they wanted to speak to him; for, as
to him, he would never enter the convent again--his poor body had
suffered too much there the last time."
Whereupon they went to him; but he could give no counsel, only to
leave the matter in the hands of God the Lord; for if they
appealed to the Prince, the sorceress would surely bewitch them
again, and they would be screaming day and night, or maybe die at
once, and then what help for them, &c.
Sidonia meanwhile was not idle; for she sent messages throughout
the whole convent that she lay in her bed sick unto death, and
they must needs come and pray with her, along with the priest,
before they assembled in the chapel for service. At this open
blasphemy and hypocrisy, a great fear and horror fell upon the
abbess, likewise upon the priest, since the witch had specially
named him, and desired that he would come _before_ service to
pray with her. For a long while he hesitated, at last promised to
visit her _after_ service; but again bethought himself that
it would be more advisable to visit her before, for he might
possibly succeed in unveiling all her iniquities, or if not, he
could pray afterwards in the church, "that if indeed Sidonia were
really sick, and a child of God, the just and merciful Father
would raise her up and strengthen her in her weakness; but if she
were practising deceit, and were no child of God, but an accursed
limb of Satan, then he would give her up into the hands of God for
punishment, for had He not said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will
repay, saith the Lord'? (Romans xii. 19.)"
This pleased the abbess, and forthwith the reverend David
proceeded to the refectory.
Now Sidonia had not expected him so early, and she was up and
dressed, busily brewing another hellish drink to have ready for
him by the time he arrived; but when his step sounded in the
passage, she whipped into bed and covered herself up with the
clothes, not so entirely, however, but that a long tail of her
black robe fell outside from under the white sheet--this,
unluckily for herself, she knew nothing of. The priest, however,
saw it plainly, and had, moreover, heard the jump she gave into
bed just as he opened the door; but he made no remark, only
greeted her as usual, and asked what she wanted with him.
_Illa.--"Ah! she was sick, sick unto death--would he not pray
for her? for the night before she was too ill to pray, and no
doubt the Lord was angry with her, by reason of the omission. This
morning, indeed, she had crept out of bed, just to scold her
awkward maid for breaking all the pots and pans, as he himself
saw, but had to go to bed again, and was growing weaker and weaker
every quarter of an hour. But the good priest must taste her beer;
let him drink a can of it first to strengthen his heart. It was
the best beer she had made yet, and her maid had just tapped a
Here the reverend David made answer--"He thanked her for her beer,
but would drink none. He could not believe, either, that she was
as ill as she said, and had been lying in bed all the morning."
But she persisted so vehemently in her falsehoods that the very
boards under her must have felt ashamed, if they had possessed any
consciousness. Whereupon the priest shuddered in horror and
disgust, bent down silently, and lifted up the piece of her robe
which lay outside.
"What did this mean? did she wear her nun's dress in bed? or was
she not rather making a mock of him, and the whole convent, by her
Here Sidonia grew red with shame and wrath; but, ere she could
utter a word, the priest continued with a holy and righteous
"Woe to thee, Sidonia! for thou art a byword amongst the people.
Woe to thee, Sidonia! for thou hast passed thy youth in wantonness
and thy old age in sin. Woe to thee, Sidonia! for thy hellish arts
brought thy mother the abbess, and thy father the superintendent,
nearly to their graves. Woe to thee, Sidonia! for this past night
thou hast taken a horrible revenge upon the whole princely race,
and cursed them by the power which the devil gives thee. Woe to
thee, Sidonia! for by thy hellish drink thou didst seek to destroy
me, the servant of the living God, to thy horrible maid still more
horribly attracting me. Woe to thee, Sidonia! accursed witch and
sorceress, blasphemer of God and man! Behold, thy God liveth, and
thy Prince liveth, and they will rain fire and brimstone upon thy
infamous head. Woe to thee! woe to thee! woe to thee! thou false
serpent--thou accursed above all the generations of vipers--how
wilt thou escape eternal damnation?"
When the righteous priest of God had ended his fearful
malediction, he started at himself, for he knew not how the words
had come into his mouth; then turned from the bed and went out,
while a peal of laughter followed him from the room. But no evil
happened to him at that time, as he had fully expected, from
Sidonia (probably she feared to exasperate the convent and the
Prince against her too much); but she treasured up her vengeance
to another opportunity, as we shall hear further on.
END OF VOL. I.
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