horse? What does the rabble say about the ex-
changes ? "
" They say I beg that it may not be taken
" Well ? I take Russian bribes, perhaps ? "
" No one ventures to say that of your Excel-
lence ! "
" Well ! out with it, or march ! "
" They say that your Excellence receives the gov-
ernment ducats at thirteen dollars and pays them out
" Bah ! Let them talk. The devil take me, but I
will teach them to talk when the king comes."
" On that account I thought we might let the du-
cats go at fourteen, to shut their bawling mouths."
" Fifteen, I say, fifteen-two, for gold coin is going
out of circulation. If the king lives a few years longer,
Rydholm, ducats can not be had for twenty dollars.
Thunder ! and I should become a beggar by your ex-
changes. That would be my thanks for wearing out
my boots in this swampy country for taking com-
mand of servants and clowns who do not know any-
thing but to drink up their pay in ale and whiskey. I
am expected to do everything, indeed. For a few pal-
try hundred dollars, which they have scraped together
for me, I have to feed all these sots with blood-dump-
lings and sausage, establish magazines where there is
nothing to store, make uniforms for all these naked
Lapland bears, and fight the Russians with a handful
of recruits, dumb as oxen people who, when they
140 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
meet me, make their salute a quarter of an hour after I
have passed them ! "
The sentry here announced that an officer who
called himself Count Berteiskold desired audience with
" Let him wait. I tell you, Rydholm, fifteen dollars
and three cents we must take for ducats. I shall be
impoverished. I shall finally have to pawn the spurs
off my boots and the scabbard of my sword. Thunder
and lightning ! they think that gold grows here like
crow-berries ! What have you paid for butter and
pork ? Sixty-eight dollars for a few contemptible bar-
rels ! Is he possessed ? One would think that the stable
boys nowadays fry their pork in butter ! "
" I beg most humbly to remark that the pork and
butter are for your Excellence's table. The men, and
many of the officers, have often had to content them-
selves with half rations, and the peasants complain that
their barn-yards and hen-houses have had to furnish
the rest by night."
" So, the peasants complain ? I know nothing of
it ; mark that, Rydholm, I know nothing of it. The
greasy country-sots lie behind their stoves and fatten
themselves, while the defenders of the country live on
bread and water. I'll give them the devil ! Just let
the Russian come lightning! He will teach them
where David bought ale. You can haggle about the
hay, I say. These cart-horses will eat me up and the
" The cavalry horses drag their legs after them
from lack of fodder, and half the draft horses have
" Let them forage for themselves then. Shall we
eat hay ourselves, so that the horses may have oats ?"
" The pastures are short yet, your Excellence, and
all the barns are empty. The peasants complain that
our cavalry tramp down the crops in their fields."
" I'll have the country bumpkins hung, and the
THE FUGITIVE. - 1 41
commissary in the bargain. Must I beggar myself for
their stinginess ? You must beat them down on the
price of hay, Rydholm. Tell them they must risk their
purses while the soldiers risk their skins for the de-
fense of the country. I wish they had the Muscovites
to provide for."
" We might give them bills on the government, to
be paid when peace is concluded "
" Peace ? You prate about things you do not un-
derstand. If the devil does not take the king, we need
not expect peace."
"Your Excellence!" was suddenly heard from a
strange voice in the door of the room, and a tall officer
in the uniform of the life-dragoons made a military
The general reddened perceptibly, shoved his but-
ter-milk mechanically to one side, and surveyed the
new-comer with a look of indignation and embarrass-
ment. "Who are you, smuggling yourself in unan-
nounced and disturbing me in my business ? " was the
general's harsh inquiry.
" My name is Bertelskold, a major, and one of his
majesty's attendants. Smuggling was never an affair
of mine, and your Excellence will probably excuse me,
as I had myself announced a little while ago, but had
not time to wait, as my errand did not admit of delay."
" So, indeed Bertelskold ? And an order from
his majesty ! You are welcome, major. Rydholm,
leave us and go and revise the accounts. Remember
"Yes, your Excellence, I will haggle over the hay,"
said the paymaster, as he retired with a satirical bow.
" I have not the honor of bearing any orders from
his majesty," replied Bertelskold, who almost pitied the
general's embarrassment. " I was captured at Dnieper,
have escaped from prison, and now come at the head
of a troop of volunteers to offer my services to your
Excellence and the country."
142 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
"You are welcome, my good major," repeated Ly-
becker, " but I do not find your errand, as given, at all
events, so especially pressing."
" It was not on that account that I desired admission,"
answered the major coldly. " During the march hither
I have had the good fortune to obtain reliable informa-
tion that the government fleet sent out from Stockholm
to relieve Wiborg was obliged to turn back without
accomplishing its object, because the Muscovites had
sunk obstructions in the entrance to the harbor and
had protected them with batteries."
" Bad, major, very bad. Stjernstrale will be obliged
to surrender "
" I have learned further, that the Osterbotten levies
were on the march to assist Wiborg. The fourteen par-
ishes north of Old Carleby have armed to defend the
northern boundary, and the fourteen parishes south of
the same town have marched out under command of
Captain Faber. Everywhere great enthusiasm has pre-
vailed and the readiest willingness to offer blood and
life for the fatherland."
"Pleasing news, very pleasing. But, major, tell
me honestly, for you are an experienced soldier, what
the devil shall I do with all this trash from Oster-
botten ? Without arms, without clothes, without disci-
pline, such a loose drove of peasants must make dis-
turbance and confusion among regular troops, and be-
sides this they can accomplish nothing else than to
plunder the country and die like flies in the hospitals.
What the devil can I do with all this rabble that the
government at Stockholm is pleased to send to encum-
" Your Excellence is right so far as it concerns the
difficulty of disciplining and provisioning the levies,
which nevertheless ought to be attainable by proper
orders and judicious arrangements. But your Excel-
lence is wrong in calling these honest peasants trash
and rabble. They are in truth the must and marrow
THE FUGITIVE. 143
of the land, and their honorable and manly desire to
serve against the enemy is entitled to a better name
and a better reception. Unhappily, the whole levy
will probably be lost."
"In what way?"
" Pardon my saying it through the most incredible,
the most lamentable carelessness. A student just ar-
rived from Osterbotten reports to me that a review was
held at Ilmola, and that, leaving one man on each farm
and one or two on those which had already given three
or four to the crown, they have enrolled four thousand
two hundred men, all good, capable people, under
command of their sheriffs and parish clerks, and the
most highly esteemed of the peasants. This troop
marched out, but did not find any arrangements made
either to clothe or feed them. To proceed soon be-
came quite impossible. First the sheriffs deserted,
then the clerks, and afterward most of the men, so that
now of this army, which could have saved Wiborg, only
a few hundred in miserable condition have reached
" Now, what did I say, major ? Mere trash scraped
together, with no knowledge of military discipline !
God be praised that we are rid of them."
" Your Excellence, you can as well say : God be
praised that we are rid of Wiborg, and soon will be of
the whole of Finland !."
" Can I help it ? Stjernstrale will have to capitu-
late. I have enough to do to take care of myself."
" No, your Excellence, Stjernstrale must not capit-
ulate. We must save Wiborg if it costs the whole army
and our right hands."
"We? we ? The major may be one of the king's at-
tendants, but it is I whom his majesty has been pleased
to intrust with the command in Finland. I beg the
major not to forget that when he speaks of what we
" Your Excellence, I entreat you, for the king's and
144 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
your own honor, for the welfare of the country, in jus-
tice to posterity, which will sit in judgment on our ac-
tions, save Wiborg ! If it falls, it may be that all
Finland will soon be lost. Let us not neglect for a
moment to reach out and boldly seize the enemy wher-
ever we can meet him ! I understand your Excel-
lence's scruples; I know that we are much inferior to
the enemy in numbers and materiel of war, but we have
instead the approval of our king and our indomitable
spirit ; we protect our land, we can at least die for it.
A retreat, an armistice, would paralyze our whole army.
As long as we stand idly here, while we can almost
hear the thunder of cannon at Wiborg, and while every
day a part of its walls tumble down, a part of its few
defenders bleed, so long is every arm unstrung and
every soldier a cripple. But give us the order to move
forward to attack, and with God's help our arms would
be of steel and the weakest among us would be as good
as ten! I know this people; your Excellence ought
also to know them. They are not fit for camp life,
they would work in blood when they can not work with
the plow and harrow. If our king stood here among
us, by my good sword, he would not remain in camp
now, he would fall upon the enemy Jehu-like and
would hunt him like a wolf from his certain booty.
Let us, therefore, make the attack to-day, now ! I
lead a little company of fifty men, students and dea-
cons. Grant us the honor of being first of the advance
guard to elbow the way. I swear to your Excellence
that if Wiborg is not by this means set free before the
next moon is lit anew, the midsummer sun shall shine
over the gravesof myself and comrades by its walls."
" Major, where have you learned to make so fine a
speech ? Upon my honor, it would be charming at a
banquet, but as an old soldier and your chief, sir, I
ought to inform you that I did not desire your counsel
and do not intend to order my conduct by it. For what
I do I am answerable to his majesty alone, who has
THE FUGITIVE. 145
given me positive orders ; and in obedience to them I
am not authorized to engage in any fool-hardy and ad-
venturous enterprises with an insufficient force. If
Stjernstrale can not take care of himself, I will not
sacrifice the king's troops for his sake, let the result
be what it may."
" The result will be that after the fall of Wiborg
you will have the whole Russian force upon you."
" That is my affair. Farewell, Major. You must
excuse me that important business . . . ."
" Your Excellence, allow me at least with my little
party to make a raid on the enemy's couriers and trans-
" What were you pleased to say? Students and
deacons ? No, Major, I cannot answer for your sacri-
ficing them in your hazardous games. You remain here
with your company until I find a more fitting oppor-
tunity to make use of you."
" Blood flows near us, the cannons thunder, Fin-
land's outer walls fall, and you refuse to let me
strike ! "
" I command you to remain, and obey my order.
" Your Excellence, now I foresee Finland's fate !
Wherefore should a people so willing to fight, in its mis-
fortune be bound hand and foot to an incompetent
general ! "
These last words the brave officer uttered half aloud
and left the general's apartment with sorrow and bit-
terness in his heart.
146 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
THE PLAGUE 1 710.
ALLANT WIBORG, forsaken by every one, had
VjT been compelled to capitulate on the loth day of
June, and Stjernstrale and the greater part of his remain-
ing forces were obliged to give themselves up as prison-
ers, delivering to the enemy one hundred and forty can-
non, eight mortars, and a multitude of military equipages
of all kinds. In the same year, September 3d, Kexholm,
with two hundred and thirty-one cannons, forty mortars
and three hundred and eighty-one thousand pounds of
powder, fell into the energy's hands after its little gar-
rison of three or four hundred men had defended it for
two weeks against a force more than ten times as strong.
Ancient Finland and Ladoga were thus forever lost
to the Swedish government. Shocking outrages were
perpetrated in the parishes about Wiborg, the outburst
of the savage warriors' lust and avarice atrocities the
memory of which ages are insufficient to obliterate and
which were outdone only by the scenes of Osterbotten
several years later. Rather than live over again these
sorrowful memories, we will pass them by in silence,
only remarking that the strict military discipline of the
Russian troops and the generally merciful treatment of
the country in the late war fortunately can give no idea
of the horrors of that great conflict.
But as if the angels of the judgment would pour
out all the vials of wrath upon this unfortunate period,
there came yet the third angel of destruction to visit
that which hunger and war had spared in this devastated
land. From these gloomy times was brought forth a
new public calamity, a desolating pest which slowly
THE FUGITIVE. 147
spread over the north and west of Europe. It seemed,
if also of eastern origin, to have arisen with the poison-
ous exhalations from the battle-fields of Poland and
Galicia, in the midst of the victorious career of Charles
XII, in 1707, and it found everywhere a fruitful soil in
the distress and anxiety which attended the war. A
mysterious derangement in nature's workshop seemed
now, as during the great famine years, to loosen the
joints of health and life. Fearfully cold winters, with
packs of wolves, oppressively hot summers, earthquakes,
and death, were the precursors of the plague. Refugees
from Esthonia and Livonia, half-dead from hunger and
suffering, spread destruction along the Swedish and
Finnish coasts. The gth of September the plague,
brought by two Livonian women, reached Helsingfors.
The houses where the disease appeared were at once
isolated, and all refugees arriving from the sea were
taken to an island distant from the rest of the group
probably Mjolo. But in spite of this the pestilence
advanced, and within three months snatched away
eleven hundred and eighty-five persons from this city,
at that time so inconsiderable. Then it burst out in
Borga, and six hundred and fifty-two persons died,
after which it spread farthej, both along the coast and
into the interior. The greater part of Finland, even as
far as Uleaborg, was visited by this frightful guest, but
with very different results. In some of the country dis-
tricts, as for instance Janakkala and Mantyharju, more
than half the population was destroyed, and entire vil-
lages became extinct. Others escaped much more
easily, while some seem to have been entirely spared.
Our story now takes us to Abo, in the middle of
October of the same unfortunate year.
Among the few travelers who at that time, for
weighty reasons only, visited Abo, was our old ac-
quaintance Simon Bang, corporal of Bertelskold's vol-
unteers. His entrance was not a brilliant one ; it
was accomplished on foot, and he led by the bridle
148 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
an old cavalry horse which had hitherto borne him,
but now was about dying from hunger and fatigue.
Honest Simon Bang hardly recognized the place of his
nativity ; Abo had so changed in a few months. A
hazy, sultry south wind blew softly over the city, the
smoke settled down, and the shores of the turbid river
were covered with a thick green slime. The quays
along the shore, formerly so lively, were unoccupied,
the halls of the university were deserted, the streets
were empty, the market place strewn with yellow autumn
leaves. Here and there a human being anxiously and
hastily stole along towards the apothecary's. The
open houses resembled newly-made graves, and most
of the windows were covered with white curtains.
Occasionally a heavy wagon rattled along the streets,
driven slowly and solemnly by a man wrapped from
head to foot in an oil-cloth cloak, and wearing over his
face a mask which made him look all the more frightful.
After this wagon ran screaming children, sometimes
weeping, sometimes threatening with their little hands
to strike the grim man in the oil-cloth cloak, if he did
not give them back their father or mother whom he was
carrying away in his wagon. Simon Bang was not easily
moved to tears, but at this scene he turned away his
eyes and a pair of great clrops rolled down upon his
black, untrimmed beard.
He approached the center of the town, the venera-
ble cathedral. Its doors were open, although it was a
week-day, and the organ therein was playing a funeral
hymn. In the church-yard outside was a confused
crowd of people. The well known smith Wasara-Jaako
had, during the night, buried there his wife, who had
died of the plague. This was strictly forbidden, it be-
ing ordered that all who died of this disease should be
taken to the new burying-ground outside the city. As
soon as the fact became known, Governor Palmenburg,
who was not to be trifled with, ordered the city police
to remove the body and arrest the smith. But Wasara-
THE FUGITIVE. 149
Jaako was not one to give up readily what he consid-
ered his right as a citizen and a man. The desperate
fellow struck about him like a madman, and his
knotty fists felled one after another of the police to
the ground. The crowd took his part, the police were
driven away, and the dead body was again deposited in
the grave. It was complete anarchy. The bonds that
hold society in order were on the point of bursting. A
lot of drunken apprentices and sailors, who the night
before had plundered the wine cellar of a lately de-
parted merchant, bent on mischief, mingled with the
An old woman with wildly staring eyes and flowing
hair climbed upon one of the monuments and began to
prophesy. One after another those who were scream-
ing about her became silent, and by degrees perfect
quiet prevailed in the church-yard. Everybody knew
Inkeri from Tyrvis. She had formerly, as the witch of
Majniemi, been an object of horror to the multitude
and the subject of many judicial investigations. Con-
victed of sorcery upon imperfect testimony, she had
been imprisoned that she might confess one of the
last martyrs of that fearful witchcraft period which was
described in the second of these stories. But now peo-
ple were no longer so certain of the reality of such
crimes; the judges considered longer before they con-
demned any one to be burned. And Inkeri was no
witch of the old sort. In her confused imagination
she considered herself a saint, a prophetess, rather
than a servant of the devil, and was accustomed to
mingle with her conjurations the keenest exhortations.
Her madness would have been perfectly harmless if
she had been left in peace, but her judges were con-
founded, and were not certain whether a good or an
evil spirit spoke through her. So old Inkeri remained
in prison for years without having her fate decided,
until now, during the disorders of the plague, she had
escaped, no one knew how.
150 TIMES OF CHARLES XlL
"Wo, wo to Abo ! " she shouted with a frenzy which
was at once fired by a feeling of revenge for past per-
secutions and by a fanatical belief in her supernatural
gift of prophecy. " Wo, wo to thee, doomed city, that
like Israel burned thy prophets and dragged thy proph-
etesses before judges and cast them in the rivers, to the
reproach of mankind. I tell thee that fire from heaven
shall fall upon thee and sweep thee from the earth
when the day of wrath shall come upon thee, and the
funeral fires shall blaze up and destroy thee. Wo, wo
to thee, cathedral, which hath opened thy doors to curse
things holy and consecrated ! I tell thee, O church,
that thy portals shall not be closed before the abom-
ination of desolation shall stand in thy innermost sanc-
tuary, and horses' hoofs shall tramp within thee upon
the graves of thy dead. Wo to thee, river, which hast
swallowed up Walborg Kyni, my mother's mother, and
others, her equals, who had the gift of prophecy ! I
tell thee, Aura river, that thy waves shall be covered red
with blood and gray with ashes, and flames of fire shall
dry up thy channel, and the keels of the enemy shall
throng thee like ice-blocks in the great spring flood.
Wo unto thee, sand-hill, that lent thy earth to the
witches' funeral pyre ! I tell thee that thou shalt be
clothed with the bones of the unburied, thou shalt be
watered with blood and become the abode of vultures
and wolves. Wo unto thee, O wood, which lent thy
timber to the pyre ! I tell thee that thou shalt fall be-
fore the ax of the enemy and the flames of violence,
and shalt be destroyed from the face of the earth, and
upon thy ground no grass shall ever grow. Wo unto
thee, people . . . ."
" Silence the crazy old woman ! " sounded the gov-
ernor's heavy voice, he having arrived on horseback to
No one dared to touch her. Among all that multi-
tude no one raised an arm and no mouth opened to
command her to be still.
THE FUGITIVE. 151
"Wo unto thee, people of Abo! "she continued,
"wo unto thee who bathed thy hands in the blood of
martyrs and sneered at their lamentations ! I tell thee
that thou shall enrich thy lands and thy church-yard
with thy bodies and be scattered like dust before the
wind. Wo unto thee, all the inhabitants of our great
Finland, whose sins cry unto heaven and shout for ven-
geance ! I tell thee that thine enemy is upon thee ; be-
hold, he standeth at the threshold of thy hut, and he
shall enter in and destroy thee and thy children, so that
not a gray hair and not a sucking child shall be spared,
and for seven years he shall rule thee with an iron scep-
ter and scourge thee to death and trample thee like
weeds. Wo unto thee, O king . . . ."
"Hew down the accursed witch, who reviles the
king! " shouted the governor, beside himself with wrath.
But fear had palsied every one; no one stirred.
" Wo unto thee, O king ! " burst forth the woman,
with indescribable frenzy ; " wo unto thee, Charles,
Sweden's, Gothland's and Venda's King, who callest
thyself a Christian prince and dwellest in league with
infidels and defilest the earth with blood and abomina-
tion ! I tell thee that thy star hath set and shall never
more arise out of the night. Bloody are thy footsteps
and in blood shalt thou tread misfortune's path, and
thine enemies shall triumph over thee, and they whom
thou hast trusted most shall secretly take thy life by
The governor, provoked to the utmost, now pressed
forward to the seeress, and a couple of constables
plucked up their courage and stepped up to arrest
" Touch me not ! " she shrieked. " I have the
plague ! "
The uplifted arms of the men sank down at these
But now the strength of the unfortunate woman
was exhausted. She was silent and stood quite still.
152 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
Then she sank slowly down, but her lips moved again
more slowly, and she was heard to say: "Wo, wo, also
unto Inkeri. In sin was she brought forth, in sin has
she lived and spoken, and the spirit has come to
make away with her and take her before the living
With these words she sank motionless to the ground.
They lifted her up. She was dead.
The crowd scattered under the awful impression of
this event. The rebellious spirit of defiance was blown
away from the minds of the multitude. The words of
the seeress had suppressed the storm like a sudden
rain. The smith voluntarily permitted them to bear
away his wife ; no one uttered a single word in opposi-
tion. The vision of the future, which the dying woman
had set before them, stood like a black shadow before
" More sand, more sand on the graves ! " again
commanded the governor. " Is that you, Bang ? I
know your errand, and have just received an answer
from Stockholm. The government has granted your re