remains of the cellar's olden stock; the honest steward
192 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
had never before wished to touch it. " I found," said he,
" this half anker of rich Hungarian wine under the rub-
bish, and determined that it should only be drank to
the success of my late beloved master's son. May
God keep your grace in all dangers, and permit you yet
in better times to resume your place as master at your
father's table ! "
Hardly were these words uttered when a great crash
was heard, and immediately afterward a cloud of dust
arose near the wall. The portrait of the founder of
the family, General Bertelskold, with its heavy frame,
had started from its place, and in its fall drawn with it
stones and mortar.
Bertelskold smiled sadly. " My grandfather," said
he, " answers your toast in his way with 'amen.' It is
probably the last time that honest champions will ever
empty a beaker within these walls."
" Do not say so ! We shall protect them to the last
drop of our blood ! " said the men.
" May these walls fall if our land but stands,"
rejoined Bertelskold. " I would not sacrifice a single
one of you for Majniemi, if our country could gain
nothing by it."
" No," replied several voices, "but we are here by
the side of the highway to Abo, and could do much
injury to the enemy."
" Well ! In God's name, then ! " added the chief.
"But let us now take some rest; we may need all our
The steward had the floor covered with straw, and
the wearied champions gladly stretched out their stiff-
ened limbs. But it was written in the book of fate
that they, like Mohammed's warriors, should say of
themselves: " In Paradise we shall rest."
Lofving returned. He had been, in his peasant's
dress, right among the enemy, who, a hundred horses
strong, had taken quarters in the village of Arvio. He
had sat by their log-fire, drank with them, filled them
THE FUGITIVE. 193
with lies, and stolen one of their horses. Bertelskold
ought, in his opinion, to surprise them that night, for
they expected early in the morning a reinforcement of
a considerable body of infantry, and would without
doubt attack the castle.
The partisans were ready at once. Just as the
agreeable numbness of the first sleep was upon them,
they arose again to saddle their horses and ride out
into the darkness of the night. Such was their life.
In the meantime Pehr took the precaution during
the night to send two faithful servants, with all the wo-
men and children on the place, to one of the remote
and concealed islands in the group, whither he had
previously sent his most valuable possessions. With
many sorrowful tears these good people fled, as at that
time many others in Finland fled, from the dear home
which they might never see again. Neither were Mas-
ter Pehr's emotions of the most joyous character, when
he accompanied his friends a little way and then
returned alone to the deserted court of the castle. But
he was not a man to flee from his post; he would
watch the property of the crown to the last, and serve
his dear old master's son in the dangers which were
With his return, the first streaks of dawn began to
gild the creaking vanes on the castle peaks, and the
clatter of horses' hoofs was heard on the road. Master
Pehr listened with beating heart; the noise came nearer,
and soon one, then another, then a larger troop of
the partisans, and finally Bertelskold himself, came gal-
loping into the court. They could hardly be recog-
nized for blood and dust. They had had a hard bit of
work in the village, for the enemy had been awakened
by the neighing of the horses and had defended them-
selves manfully. As good luck would have it, the en-
emy's horsemen were scattered about in the village, and
on account of the darkness did not discover the slight
strength of their assailants. Forty men had been cut
194 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
down; thirty prisoners and more than sixty horses were
brought in as booty. Of Bertelskold's men two had
fallen and six been wounded in this night's con-
After the prisoners had been locked in the cellar
of the castle, and the horses put in the roomy stables,
the champions, faint from weariness, threw themselves
on the sheaves of straw, and in a few minutes slept as
calmly as the reaper at evening when he has housed his
crops from the night's frost. But the chief, and as
many men as were needed to watch the castle and care
for the wounded, were not permitted to sleep. Lofving
also, who had performed his lion's part in the night's
adventure, was already, early in the morning, mounted
to reconnoitre the neighborhood.
About ten o'clock in the forenoon he returned with
information that the expected hostile infantry, four hun-
dred men with three field-pieces, were marching against
the castle. The fugitives from Arvio had probably has-
tened their march and stimulated their revengefulness
by the story of Arvio's destruction. The defenders
had therefore to choose between a hasty flight in the
opposite direction, and a strife for life and death with
an excited and greatly superior foe.
After a short consultation the partisans chose the
latter. They mustered their forces, which, deducting
the wounded, amounted to three and twenty men; but
this little band was increased by Master Pehr with his
remaining servants, and a group of fugitives from the
nearest villages, so that Bertelskold's little army was
made up of about fifty men, all well provided with arms
which had just before been taken from the enemy. Be-
sides, Master Pehr had concealed in the lowest cellar
of the castle a considerable lot of powder belonging to
the crown, and which was not carried away at the en-
emy's first approach. It was found, too, that even the
six old swivels, which in happier times had been used
to fire salutes from the castle, could be used, although
THE FUGITIVE. 195
for want of balls they must be loaded with small
The necessary arrangements were scarcely com-
pleted before the enemy began to show himself at mid-
day on the road from Abo. At first he advanced cau-
tiously in small divisions, fearing an attack in the rear;
but he soon became bolder, and sent out a line of
skirmishers to force their way into the park between
the castle and the lake. This had to be prevented at
whatever cost, for the knolls in the park commanded
the castle, and the enemy would find shelter there be-
hind the old lindens. Bertelskold had also placed his
best marksmen there, and the skirmishers were re-
This was only the prelude. The enemy had ex-
perienced the danger of passing a night in the neigh-
borhood of these desperate adventurers, and hoped
before evening to be master of this unfortified country-
seat, protected only by a handful of peasants and
wood-rovers. He therefore, without delay, had his
field-guns placed beyond musket-range from the low
brick wall which surrounded the yard in front of the
castle. By two o'clock the balls clattered against the
garden wall and the walls of the castle, accomplishing
nothing more than to knock down some plaster and
mar the window posts. No shot, no sound from the
castle answered this impotent assault. There was no
reply but that of the old blue and yellow flags the
same that swayed before the gayer winds at the festivi-
ties attending the entrance of the Countess Bertelskold
which still fluttered spitefully and defiantly from the
five small towers arising from the wings and the center
of this aristocratic building.
The enemy began to lose patience. In order to de-
cide the affair at once, he sent three companies to take
the park, while his other forces annoyed the castle from
the farther side and from the east.
Bertelskold had foreseen this. While half of his
196 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
men made the enemy fight for every inch of the way
into the park, he and twenty of his most active men
threw themselves into the saddle, rode out through the
back gate, took a circuit and hewed in upon the
enemy's flank near the west part of the park wall. If
a thunderbolt had struck among the assailants, they
could not have been more astonished than they were at
this sudden, unexpected, and dangerous onset. They
scattered like lambs, they fell like ripe grain before the
reaper; and as nearly all their cavalry had been de-
stroyed the night before, there, was no other escape for
them but to clamber over the wall into the park, where
about half their number were exchanging lively shots
with the defenders of the castle. Baggage, arms, am-
munition and cannons, in short, all of the enemy's war
material, fell into Bertelskold's hands, and he was often
afterwards heard to say that if he had only had twenty
more men outside the castle and twenty more in the
park, the enemy in spite of his vastly superior numbers
would have been captured or annihilated to the last man.
The little troop of horse had accomplished no more
than to nicely spike the three cannons, when the ap-
pointed signal, a red flag on the middle tower, told
Bertelskold that distress and danger prevailed within
the castle. He was obliged therefore to wheel about
immediately and hasten with all speed back to the gate.
Here he mec Master Pehr, wounded in the arm, and
crying out :
" For God's sake, your grace, hurry to the park !
They have taken Flora's palace and are shooting balls
of fire upon the castle ! "
" Flora's palace ! " repeated Bertelskold, struck with
memories of childhood which this long forgotten name
awakened in his soul. " Was it not there that Prince
Wintersnow and Prince Autumnnight once strove in
sport for victory ? * Ah, Pehr, now we will play the
same game, but in earnest ! "
* The Surgeon's Stories, second cycle, page 262.
THE FUGITIVE. 197
Before Pehr had time to reply, Bertelskold and his
men had dismounted and were running at full speed to
the park. The scene which presented itself there was
not encouraging. The twenty marksmen that had been
stationed there were as good as lost in the extensive
park, and could only here and there, posted behind
trees, fell their man; they could not prevent the enemy
from crowding from all sides into the close avenues and
the old now fallen hot-houses, even to the highest
and central knoll, which, on account of the magnificent
pavilion which formerly adorned it, had received the
name of Flora's palace. Utterly enraged at his over-
throw, the enemy began to shoot from here in through
the castle windows, and to throw fire-balls upon the
roof of the old wooden structure beside it, in which
Master Pehr and his people had their residence. From
the castle windows the men let the swivels answer as
well as they could with their stone balls, and for
every shot was heard a clattering in the tops of the
lindens, as the broken branches fell to the ground.
But this artillery was only a child's plaything ; it was
not sufficient to drive the besiegers back from the
Once more Bertelskold called his men together.
They had now melted away to about thirty. But with-
out stopping to count whether' there were more or less,
without heeding the fire from more than a hundred
muskets, they all stormed the hill. Here was fought
out the last battle for Majniemi, man against man, blow
for blow. Never had Gustaf Adolf Bertelskold's iron
arm cut down with such fury all who came in his way;
never had his champions so irresistibly broken through
the enemy's wavering ranks. In spite of his brave re-
sistance, he was driven from the hill. Flora's palace
was covered with blood, and the water in the pond
was colored red. Once more victory seemed to smile
on Majniemi's brave defenders , but it was her farewell
glance, the last sunny ray of hope on Majniemi's
198 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
towers, now waving their flags but destined never to see
Bertelskold was hardly in possession of the hill,
before the cry arose behind him that the castle was on
fire. He turned around. Evening was already casting
its shadows over the stately building, and in the twilight
he saw in four or five places the red light of tongues of
fire, where, still quite small, they began to wind them-
selves out under the cornice. " To the castle, boys ! "
he shouted in a voice of thunder. " If we succeed in
quenching the fire, the enemy will never again venture
an attack, and the victory is ours ! "
At these words all hastened to the castle. But it
was already too late. A thick suffocating smoke brought
to naught every attempt to ascend to the garret and get
near the fire. Soon the wooden building by the side of
the castle blazed up, and then all effort to thwart the
flames had to be abandoned.
All the people were called together by the beating
of the drum in the great hall, and received orders to
retreat. Master Pehr and the rest of the wounded
were laid in carts, while all the available men, mounted
in close ranks and prepared for defense, surrounded
Bertelskold had undertaken all these preparations
with perfect sang froid, but when he came for the last
time to leave his ancestral castle, his courage failed.
He wished at least to say farewell to the family por-
traits in the great armory. He hastened thither.
The flame of the burning house outside shone clearly
through the high windows, and made the armory, though
filled with smoke, as light as day. The image of the
founder of the family, again placed in its position,
seemed to contemplate his descendant with a dark and
threatening countenance, and in the flames' wavering
light the iron-clad champions of the Thirty-years war
all around him seemed to move upon the canvas as
though they would spring out from the frames. A bitter
thought penetrated the Carolin's soul. His brother
Torsten had neglected to carry the pictures away; they
would be consumed, these honorable mementoes of his
family would be destroyed, and he could not save them.
The founder of the house was buried in the sea, his
image would be destroyed by fire. Dark Fate, what
meanest thou by this ?
Once more Bertelskold looked back. Then there
met him from the canvas those beautiful, enthusiastic,
never to be forgotten glances with which Regina von
Emmeritz had once fascinated his stern grandfather.
The grandson stood like one petrified ; those dark eyes
flashed, those beauteous princely lineaments seemed
alive ; a mild, unspeakably sad smile flitted over the
noble princess' pale lips her mouth opens she
wishes to speak what would she say to him ?
But at the door was now heard an anxious, hurry-
ing voice : "Come, for God's sake, sir Count ! Mas-
ter Pehr bade me remind you of the powder in the
Bertelskold started out. His people were ready at
the gate; the word concerning the powder winged every
foot. They marched out in the dark evening, and no
enemy was seen.
They had thus reached the highway on the north
when Bertelskold suddenly stopped and looked back.
His ancestral castle was now on all sides enveloped in
flames one single gigantic column of fire, whose light
clearly illuminated all the surrounding country.
" The prisoners ! " exclaimed Bertelskold. " Has
any one let the prisoners out of the cellar ? "
All were silent. Since mid-day no one had had
time to think of the unfortunate men.
" Two men may voluntarily accompany me," con-
tinued the count, " or if not, I will go alone, and the
rest may continue the march."
" Hold, your grace ! " cried Master Pehr, " your life
200 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
is at stake ! In a few minutes the fire will certainly
have reached the vaults."
" The enemy himself has fired the castle ; let him
answer for the prisoners ! " objected the reluctant
" For shame ! " replied Bertelskold passionately.
" Friend or foe, it is a matter of thirty human lives ! "
And with these words he sprang back to the castle.
Two men followed him, his faithful Bang and the brave
and clever Lofving. The castle yard was so thick with
smoke, and the heat was so great, that they with the
greatest difficulty and danger reached the cellar door.
It was an iron door provided with a strong lock, and no
key was to be found. But the greater the danger the
greater Bertelskold's giant strength. He broke loose
from the great stairway its heated. bannister of iron; the
others followed his example ; the solid door bent before
their united energies it burst open. They rushed in
and found the prisoners already half-dead with the heat.
They must first let them out into the garden and thence
to the park. A whole crowd of marauders from the
enemy had already come to plunder. Bertelskold threw
his purse to the prisoners and left them in care of their
countrymen, and with his followers made a circuit
through the park back again to the highway.
Here he halted once more. By the bright firelight
he saw the enemy in closer groups swarming about the
castle as near as the flames would permit. These had
now reached the foundations. About five minutes the
fire continued to redden the cloudy evening sky ....
Then the earth was shaken by a frightful report the
horses started a thick ash-gray pillar of smoke and
rubbish arose from the castle and for the moment put
out the light so that the brightly illuminated district
was at once enveloped in complete darkness. Then
followed a clattering shower of stones, which fell on
every side and penetrated several feet into the earth.
The whole of that lofty and proud castle, with its five
THE FUGITIVE. 201
towers, had disappeared from the earth and buried be-
neath its ruins every living being which had breathed
within twice a gunshot of it.
Upon the site where Majniemi formerly stood, one
now sees a small substantial peasant cottage surrounded
by high birches, near a pretty bay. The former park
is now a pasture, and the bells on the cattle ring and
the shepherd-girl sings her simple ballad where noble
ladies once danced on the hill of Flora's palace.
THE BATTLE OF STORKYRO.
THE results of Lybecker's unfortunate retreat soon
appeared, both as they affected himself and the
country. He was removed (without the king's knowl-
edge), and was summoned to appear before the council.
Here he was finally acquitted, as Armfelt magnani-
mously undertook his defense. He fell into a sharp
contest with Bishop Gezelius, however, and demanded
redress from the bishop. Hereupon there followed a
new and bitter lawsuit, which ended with Lybecker
being convicted of letting fall the well-known ex-
pression : " If the devil does not take the king, we
have no peace to expect." These insignificant, forgot-
ten words affected him more than the whole weight of
Finland's loss. He was condemned to lose life, honor
and goods, was pardoned as to life on New Year's day
1718, but died a few months later, and is rather to be
pitied than considered intentionally criminal, for history
exonerates his memory from the disgrace of treason if
it cannot also release him from the hate with which his
contemporaries loaded him.
202 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
In September, 1713, the valiant Carl Gustaf Arm-
felt took command in Finland ; but it was already too
late to repair Lybecker's mistakes. He could not
gather more than six thousand men when his army was
at its best, and the Russians had possession of all the
southern part of the country. In order to check their
farther incursion, he put himself on the defense at
Kuokkola pass, in Pelkane, in the heart of Tavastland.
But early on a foggy autumn morning, the 6th of Octo-
ber, 1713, seven thousand Russians crossed over Lake
Pelkane on rafts and attacked Armfelt in the rear.
After the bravest defense, the little Finnish army was
driven back with a loss of twelve cannons, eight stand-
ards and more than five hundred men or, according to
some authorities, even a thousand men. It was Arm-
felt's wish to make a stand at Tammersfors ; but here
faltered for the first time the enduring perseverance of
the Finnish soldiers, or, more accurately, of what re-
mained of the Finnish militia. Half-naked, famished
and tired out by marching in the chilling autumn rains,
the men followed the vicious habit acquired under Ly-
becker's command, and deserted in such large squads
that Armfelt was compelled to retire to the vicinity of
Wasa. Most of the militia was from this district; here
they would stand by their colors to the last man.
Meanwhile, the Russian army marched by way of
Tammersfors, Birkola, and Tavastkyro, to Bjorneborg.
These marches consumed the month of November, and
winter set in early and severe over these northern set-
In the beginning of December the Russian cavalry
made a foraging expedition against Nerpes and Christi-
nestad and plundered the neighborhood. Then the
Finnish army consolidated at Solf, and a watch of peas-
ants was stationed at Laihela and Ilmola. It is here,
in Kauhajoki chapel, that we again find Gustaf Bertel-
skold with his little troop of volunteers zealously drill-
ing the peasants in the use of weapons and the arts of
THE FUGITIVE, 203
war, assisted therein by those vigorous brothers, Gabriel
and Israel Peldan. His troop, which by degrees in-
creased to two hundred and ninety men, was also joined
by six brothers named Larsson, from Storkyro, all
manly young men, led by the eldest brother, Lars, the
same who at Pelkiine was spokesman for the peasants
who waited on Lybecker. The enemy also remained
quiet in the winter quarters; and thus Christmas went
by, and the whole of January, 1714, without any
especial adventure, waiting for whatever might come.
But in the beginning of February the report came
that the enemy were advancing from Bjorneberg along
the winter roads and upon the frozen lakes in Tavast-
kyro and Ikalis. The peasant watch in Kauhajoki, on
the 1 2th of February, received orders to make a recon-
noisance towards Kurikka chapel on the enemy's road
and to return after a two days' march.
It was an obscure night, with little moonlight, and
the troop had made about five miles south of Luoppa
village, when they learned that the enemy's outposts
were not more than five or six miles away on the other
side of the woods. Therefore they must from a nearer
point ascertain his position and his intentions.
" Friends," said Bertelskold, " our horses can never
go through the woods and the snow. Are there among
you a half dozen good skaters that are willing to risk
life for king and fatherland ? "
" Sir Major," answered Lars Larsson quickly, " I
and my brothers are exactly as many as you want, and
from our childhood have our skates known how to
overtake the wolf in the forest. Command, and we are
"Well said, honest Larsson," replied the chief; "if
my word has any weight with the general, the pen is
already cut that shall sign your commission. But
beware of the open field; if the Cossacks get at you,
you are riddled."
" No danger," said the peasant. " If we are not
204 TIMES OF CHARLES XII.
back by day-break, remember us to our old father. So
far as the officer's commission is concerned, major,
many thanks, but I do not care for it. Our family be-
long to the people, and you are the only nobleman with
whom I have ever shaken hands. In God's name, for-
ward ! "
"A stiff-necked democratic race, those Larssons ! "
said Bertelskold to Gabriel Peldan. " My father
and my grandfather have been in contention with
them. But they are brave fellows, God bless them,
with as honest hearts as ever beat under a peasant's
They still live on the old peasant-king Bertila's
manor," answered Peldan; " only, one branch of the
family became merchants in Wasa. But come, major,
let us rest a few hours here in the hut."
" The night passed, and the Larssons did not return.
It was broad day, and they did not appear. Then Ber-
telskold with ten men rode, by a circuitous route,
around the woods, and found that the enemy had
already marched farther from the deserted village,
where they had rested. But the tracks of the horses'
hoofs led them to an open, almost snowless meadow
by the edge of the woods, and here the Larssons were
found. They had probably ventured too near the vil-
lage, and upon the snowless field were overtaken by
the enemy's horsemen. All six lay close beside each
other on the bloody tufts, stiffened in the sleep of
death; a dead horse and the bloody path back towards
the village showed that they had dearly sold their
young lives. They had fallen as brothers, not one of
them had attempted to desert the others, and as broth-
ers were they also buried the whole six side by