Chap. xxii.: HOW OLIVER BIT THE DUST AND TOOK SIX GOOD MEN
So as we sat down to refresh our bodies and to rest, Oliver sent the peasant out to buy food and also powder and shot. He being gone, he takes off his coat and says he, “Brother, I can no longer carry this devils’ money about with me alone”: and with that unbound a pair of bags like sausages that he wore on his naked body, threw them on the table and went on, “Of these thou must take care till I come to my holidays and we both have enough, for the accursed stuff hath worked sores upon my body, so that I can no longer carry it.” I answered, “Brother, hadst thou as little as I, ’twould not gall thee.” But he cut me short. “How,” says he, “what is mine is also thine; and what we do further win shall be fairly shared.” So I took up the two sausages and found they were indeed mighty heavy, being gold pieces only. Then I told him ’twas all ill-packed, and an he would [sic], I would so sew the money in that it should not vex him half so much in the carrying. And when he agreed to this he had me with him to a hollow tree wherein he had scissors, needles, and thread: and there I made for him and me a pair of knapsacks out of a pair of breeches, and many a fine red penny I sewed therein. So having put the same on under our shirts, ’twas as if we had golden armour behind and before, by means of which we were become, if not proof against bullets, yet against swords. Then did I wonder why he had kept no silver coin: to which he answered he had more than a thousand thalers lying in a tree from which he allowed the peasant to buy victuals, and never asked for a reckoning, as not greatly valuing such trash.
This done and the money packed, away we went to our hut, and there cooked our food and warmed ourselves by the stove all night. And thither at one o’clock of the day, when we did least expect it, came six musqueteers with a corporal to our hut with their pieces ready and their matches burning,1 who burst in the door and cried to us to surrender. But Oliver (that, like me, had ever his loaded piece lying by him and his sharp sword also, and then sat behind the table, and I by the stove behind the door) answered them with a couple of musquet-balls, wherewith he brought two to the ground, while I with like shot slew one and wounded the fourth. Then Oliver whipped out his terrible sword (that could cut hairs asunder and might well be compared to Caliburn, the sword of King Arthur of England)2 and therewith he clove the fifth man from the shoulder to the belly, so that his bowels gushed out and he himself fell down beside them in gruesome fashion. And meanwhile I knocked the sixth man on the head with the butt-end of my piece, so that he fell lifeless: but Oliver got even such a blow from the seventh, and that with such force that his brains flew out, and I in turn dealt him that did such a crack that he must needs join his comrades on the dead muster-roll. So when the one that I had shot at and wounded was ware of such cuffs and saw that I made for him with the butt of my piece also, he threw away his gun and began to run as if the devil was at his heels. Yet all this fright lasted no longer than one could say a paternoster, in which brief space seven brave soldiers did bite the dust.
Now when I thus found myself master of the field, I examined Oliver to see if he had a breath left in him, but finding him quite dead, methought ’twas folly to leave so much money on a corpse that could not need it, and so I stripped him of his golden fleece that I had made but yesterday and hung it round my neck with the other. And having broken mine own gun, I took Oliver’s musquet and sharp battle-sword to myself, wherewith I provided me against all chances, and so away I went and that by the road by which I knew our peasant must return: and sitting down by the wayside I waited for him and further considered what I should now do.
Chap. xxiii.: HOW SIMPLICISSIMUS BECAME A GREAT MAN AND HERZBRUDER
FELL INTO GREAT MISERY
Now I sat but half and hour in thought when there comes to me our peasant puffing like a bear, and, running with all his might, was not ware of me till I had in fast: and “Why so fast?” says I, “what news?” “Quick,” he answered, “away with ye! for here cometh a corporal with six musqueteers that are to seize you and Oliver and bring you to Liechteneck dead or alive: they took me and would have it I should lead them to you: yet am I luckily escaped and come hither to warn ye.”
“O villain,” thought I, “thou hast betrayed us to get Oliver’s money that lieth in the tree.” Yet of this I let him mark nothing (for I would have him shew me the way), but told him both Oliver and they that should take him were dead: which when he would not believe, I was good enough to go with him that me might see the miserable sight of the seven bodies, and says I, “The seventh of them that should take us I let go: and would to God I could bring these to life again, for I would not fail to do it.”
At that the peasant was amazed with fear and asked, “What plan have ye now?” “Why,” quoth I, “the plan is already resolved on: for I give thee the choice of three things: either lead me by safe by-ways through the wood to Villingen,3 or shew me Oliver’s money that lieth in the tree, or die here and keep these dead men company: an thou bringest me to Villingen thou hast Oliver’s money for thyself alone: if thou wilt shew it me I will share it with thee: but if thou wilt do neither, I shoot thee dead and go my way.”
Then would he fain have made off, but feared the musquet, and so fell on his knees and offered to guide me through the wood. So we started in haste and walked the whole of that day and the next night, which was by great good luck a very bright one, without food or drink or rest of any kind, till towards daybreak we saw the town of Villingen lie before us, and there I let my peasant go. And what supported us in this long journey was: for the peasant the fear of death and for me the desire to escape, myself and my money; yea, I do well-nigh believe that gold lendeth a man strength: for though I carried a heavy enough load of it yet I felt no especial weariness.
I held it for a lucky omen that even as I came to the gates of Villingen they were being opened, where the officer of the watch examined me; and hearing that I gave myself out to be a volunteer trooper of that regiment to which Herzbruder had appointed me when he released me from my musquet at Philippsburg, and also said that I had escaped from Weimar’s camp before Breisach, by whose man I had been captured at Wittenweier and made to serve among them, and that I now desired to come to my regiment among the Bavarians, he gave me in charge to a musqueteer, who led me to the commandant.4 The same was yet asleep, for he had spent half the night awake about his affairs, so that I must wait a full hour and a half before his quarters, and because the folk just then came from early mass I had a crowd of citizens and soldiers around me that would all know how matters stood before Breisach; at which clamour the commandant awoke and without further delay had me brought to him.
Then began he to examine me, and I said even as I did at the gate. Whereupon he asked me of certain particularities of the siege and so forth, and at that I confessed all; namely, how I had spent some few days with a fellow that had also escaped, and with him had attacked and plundered a coach, with intent to get so much booty from Weimar’s people that we could get us horses, and so properly equipped could come to our regiments again; but yesterday we had been attacked unawares by a corporal and six other fellows that would have taken us, whereby my comrade had been left dead on the field with six of the enemy, while the seventh as well as I had escaped: but he to his own party. But of the rest, namely, how I would have come to my wife at Lippstadt, and how I had two such well-stuffed breast and back-plates, of that I said no word, and made no scruple to conceal it, for what did it concern him? Nor did he ask me of it at all, but much more was amazed and would hardly believe that Oliver and I had killed six men and put the seventh to flight, even though my comrade had paid with his life. So as we talked there was occasion to speak of Oliver’s wonderful sword that I had by my side: which pleased him so well that if I would part civilly from him and get a pass I must hand it over to him in return for another that he gave me. And in truth it was a fine and beautiful blade, with a perpetual calendar engraved thereupon, nor shall any persuade me ’twas not forged by Vulcan in hora Martis,5 and altogether so prepared as is told of that sword in the Heldenbuch,6 by which all other swords are cleft asunder and the most courageous and lion-hearted foes are put to flight like fearful hares. So when he had dismissed me and commanded to give me a pass I went the nearest way to and inn, and knew not whether I should first eat or sleep: for I needed both. Yet I would sooner appease my belly, and so commanded meat and drink and considered how I should lay my plans to come in safety to my wife at Lippstadt with my money; for I was as little minded to go to my regiment as to break my neck.
But while I so speculated and mused of one and another cunning device, there limped into the room a fellow with a stick in his hand, his head bound up, one arm in a sling, and clothes so poor that I would have given him not a penny for them: and so soon as the drawer was ware of him he would have cast him forth, for he smelt vilely and was so full of lice that a man could have garrisoned the whole Swabian* heath with them. Yet he prayed he might but be allowed to warm himself, which yet was not granted. But I taking pity on him and interceding for him, with difficulty he was let come to the stove: and there he looked upon me, as I thought, with a curious longing and a great attention to my drinking, and uttered many sighs. So when the drawer went to fetch me a dish of meat, he came to me at my table and held out an earthen penny-pot, so that I might well understand what he would have: so I took the can and filled up his little pot for him before he asked. But “O friend,” says he, “for Herzbruder’s sake give me somewhat to eat also.” Which when he said it cut me to the heart; for well I saw it was Herzbruder himself. Then had I nearly swooned to see him in so evil a plight, yet I recovered myself and fell upon his neck and set him by me, where the tears did gush from our eyes: his for joy and mine for pity.
Chap. xxiv.: OF THE MANNER IN WHICH HERZBRUDER FELL INTO SUCH
Now by reason of the suddenness of this our meeting we could neither eat nor drink, but only ask one of the other how it had fared with each since we had last met. Yet as the host and the drawer went ever in and out, we could have no private discourse: and the host marvelling [sic] that I could suffer so lousy a companion by me, I told him that in time of war such was the custom among good soldiers that were comrades: and when I understood further how Herzbruder had till now been in the Spital,7 and there had been supported by alms, and his wounds but sorrily bound up, I hired of the host a separate chamber, put Herzbruder to bed, and sent for the best surgeon I could find, besides a tailor and a sempstress to clothe him and to rid him of his lice: and having in my purse those same doubloons that Oliver had fetched out of the dead Jew’s mouth, I cast them on the table, and says I to Herzbruder, in the host’s hearing, “See, brother; there is my money: that will I spend on thee and consume with thee.”
So with that the host entertained us nobly: but to the surgeon I showed the ruby that had belonged to the said Jew, and was worth some 20 thalers, and told him that as I purposed to spend such small moneys as I had for our food and for the clothing of our comrade, therefore I would give him that ring if he would quickly and thoroughly cure my said comrade, with which he was content, and bestowed his best care upon that cure. And so I tended Herzbruder like my second self, and caused a modest suit of grey cloth to be made for him. But first I went to the commander for my pass, and told him how I had met a comrade sorely wounded: for him I would wait till he was sound, for were I to leave him behind me I could not answer for it to my regiment: which intention the commandant approved and allowed me to stay as long as I listed, with the further offer that when my comrade could follow me he would provide us both with sufficient passes.
Then, coming back to Herzbruder and sitting by his bed alone, I begged him he would freely tell me how he had come into so evil a plight: for I thought he might perchance have been driven from his former place for weighty reasons or for some fault, and so degraded and brought to his present evil case. But “Brother,” said he, “thou knowest that I was the Count of Götz his factotum and dearest intimate friend: on t’other hand thou knowest well how evil an end this last campaign hath come to under his generalship and command, wherein we not only lost the Battle of Wittenweier, but did also fail to raise the siege of Breisach.8 Seeing, then, that on this account all manner of rumours be afloat, and that most unfair ones, and in especial now that the said count is cited to Vienna to justify himself, therefore for fear and shame I do willingly live in this humble plight, and often do wish either to die in this misery or at least so long to lie concealed till the said Count shall have proved his innocence: for so far as I know he was at all times true to the Roman emperor: and that in this set year he hath had no good luck, is, in my opinion, more to be ascribed to the Providence of God (who giveth victory to whom He will) than to the Count his neglectfulness.
Now when we were to relieve Breisach and I saw that on our side all was done so sleepily, I armed mine own self and marched forth with the rest upon the bridge of boats as if I in person were to finish the business; which was neither my profession nor my duty: yet I did it for an example to others, because we had accomplished so little that summer then past. But luck or ill-luck would so have it that I, being among the first to sally forth, was also among the first to look the enemy in the face upon the bridge, where was a sharp encounter, and as I had been the foremost in attack, so when we gave way before the furious charge of the French I was the last to retreat, and so fell into the enemy’s hands: and there did I receive a bullet in the right arm and another under the leg, so that I could neither run nor hold a sword: and as the straitness of the place and the desperateness of the action allowed no talk of giving or taking of quarter, I got me a crack on the head which brought me to the ground, and there, being finely clad, I was by some stripped and in the confusion thrown into the Rhine for dead: in which sore strait I called to God for help and left myself to His good pleasure; and while I offered up my prayers I found His help at hand: for the Rhine did cast me up on land where I did staunch my wounds with moss: and though in so doing I was nigh frozen, yet I found in me a special strength to creep from thence (for God helped me) so that I, though miserably wounded, came to certain Merode-brothers§ and soldiers’ wives, that one and all had compassion on me though they knew me not: yet all already despaired of the relief of that fortress; and that did hurt me more than all my wounds: but they refreshed and clothed me by their fire, and before I could even bandage up my wounds I must behold how our people prepared for a shameful retreat and gave up our cause as lost: which caused me dreadful pain: and for that reason I resolved to make myself known to none, and so not to make myself a mark for mockery: wherefore I joined myself to certain wounded men of our army that had their own surgeon with them: to him I gave a golden cross that I still had about my neck, for which he bound up my wounds so as to last till now. And in such poor plight, my good Simplicissimus, have I made shift so far, and am minded to reveal to no man who I am till I see how the Count of Götz his affair will turn out. And now that I see thy goodness and faith, it breedeth in me great comfort that the good God hath not forsaken me: for this very morning, when I came from early mass and saw thee stand before the commandant’s quarters, I did fancy that God had sent thee to me in shape of an angel to help me in my need.”
So I did comfort him as best I could, and secretly told him I had yet more money than those doubloons that he had seen; and that all was at his service. Therewith I also told him of Oliver’s end, and how I had perforce avenged his death, which so enlivened his spirits that it also helped his body, in such wise that every day he grew better of his wounds.
Edited by Josh Hansen
1In connection to firearms, the term "match" refers to the fuse on a matchlock musket, which would fire when that fuse ignited a charge of powder. The most advanced firing system for a matchlock was a mechanism developed in 1425 for a musket called the matchlock arquebus. A soldier whose musket had this kind of firing system did not need to wait until he was ready to fire before lighting the fuse. Instead he could light the fuse long before he needed to fire and then focus on aiming and shooting. For the mechanism worked in such a way that when the musketeer pulled the trigger, the already-burning fuse descended and ignited the charge. By Simplicius's time, however, even better firing mechanisms existed. These, used in wheel-lock and flintlock muskets, depended on the grinding or striking of flints, which produced sparks, rather than on fuses that soldiers would have to light. The Swedish commander Gustavus Adolphus in fact armed many of his soldiers in the Thirty Years' War with wheel-lock muskets. Simplicius and Oliver may have wheel-locks, such as these, or even flintlocks. Kenneth Macksey, The Penguin Encyclopedia of Weapons and Military Technology: Prehistory to the Present Day (New York: Viking, 1993), s.v. "rifle."
2Caliburn is Arthur's magical sword Excalibur, which the Lady of the Lake gives him and which protects him from defeat when he carries it. Peter Berresford Ellis, Dictionary of Celtic Mythology (Denver: ABC-CLIO, 1992), s.v. "Caliburn." James MacKillop, Dictionary of Celtic Mythology (New York: Oxford UP, 1998), s.v. "Excalibur."
3Villingen is a town in Baden located directly east of Breisach and directly north of Zurich. George Philip Limited, Oxford Atlas of the World, 7th ed. (New York: Oxford UP, 1999), 30.
4Breisach is a town on the Rhine in the area of Alsace. At the beginning of 1638, this town remained under the control of the Holy Roman emperor. But on 5 June of that year, Duke Bernard of Saxe Weimar arrived at the town with an army with which he would lay siege to it. To defend the city, the Bavarian general Count von Götz led an army toward it, but on 30 July Weimar's army met Götz's at Wittenweier and there defeated it. Weimar returned to Breisach, where he began to establish a siege, which was in place by the middle of August. On the 22nd of that month, von Götz attacked Weimar at Breisach but again suffered defeat. The siege continued, and on 17 December the town surrendered to Weimar. C. V. Wedgwood, The Thirty Years War (New Haven: Yale UP, 1939), 419.
5The phrase in hora Martis means "in the hour of Mars," "Mars" being the Latin name of Ares, the Greek god of War. Vulcan is the Latin name of the Greek god Hephaestus, a craftsman of metal who forges weapons for some of the greatest classical heroes, including Achilles and Aeneas. John Lempriere, Lempriere's Classical Dictionary of Proper Names Mentioned in Ancient Authors: Writ Large, 3rd ed. (New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1949.
6The Heldenbuch is the "Book of Heroes," a collection of four legends about the hero Dietrich of Bern. The text was published in Strasbourg in 1483. Edward R. Haymes and Susann T. Samples, Heroic Legends of the North: An Introduction to the Nibelung and Dietrich Cycles (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1996) 98-99.
7A "spital" is a "spittle," a home or some other organization for the care of those who are too ill or too poor to take care of themselves. Such institutions were particularly associated with those who had especially repugnant diseases. J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner, The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., vol. 16 (New York: Oxford UP, 1989), s.v. "spital" and "spittle."
8See note 4 above.
*[Goodrick's note] He may possibly mean the three old fortifications of which ruins still remain: Schwaben-, Schweden-, and Aleander-schanze; all of which are close to his favourite spa at Griesbach.
note] See chap. xi. above.