"An examination of the methods employed by these 'witches,' as shown by their confessions, give us a key to the mystery. These 'witches' would fix their minds upon other people, or their animals, and by holding a concentrated mental picture the... Read more of The Secret Of Witchcraft at Occultism.caInformational Site Network Informational

Van Wempel's Goose


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Allow us to introduce Nicholas Van Wempel, of Flatbush: fat, phlegmatic,
rich, and henpecked. He would like to be drunk because he is henpecked,
but the wife holds the purse-strings and only doles out money to him when
she wants groceries or he needs clothes. It was New Year's eve, the eve
of 1739, when Vrouw Van Wempel gave to her lord ten English shillings and
bade him hasten to Dr. Beck's for the fat goose that had been bespoken.
And mind you do not stop at the tavern, she screamed after him in her
shrillest tone. But poor Nicholas! As he went waddling down the road,
snapping through an ice-crust at every step, a roguish wind--or perhaps
it was one of the bugaboos that were known to haunt the shores of
Gravesend Bay--snatched off his hat and rolled it into the very doorway
of the tavern that he had been warned, under terrible penalties, to

As he bent to pick it up the door fell ajar, and a pungency of schnapps
and tobacco went into his nostrils. His resolution, if he had one,
vanished. He ordered one glass of schnapps; friends came in and treated
him to another; he was bound to do as much for them; shilling by shilling
the goose money passed into the till of the landlord. Nicholas was heard
to make a muttered assertion that it was his own money anyhow, and that
while he lived he would be the head of his own house; then the mutterings
grew faint and merged into snores. When he awoke it was at the low sound
of voices in the next room, and drowsily turning his head he saw there
two strangers,--sailors, he thought, from their leather jackets, black
beards, and the rings in their ears. What was that they said? Gold? On
the marshes? At the old Flatlands tide-mill? The talkers had gone before
his slow and foggy brain could grasp it all, but when the idea had fairly
eaten its way into his intellect, he arose with the nearest approach to
alacrity that he had exhibited in years, and left the place. He crunched
back to his home, and seeing nobody astir went softly into his shed,
where he secured a shovel and lantern, and thence continued with all
consistent speed to the tumbledown tide-mill on the marsh,--a trying
journey for his fat legs on a sharp night, but hope and schnapps impelled

He reached the mill, and, hastening to the cellar, began to probe in the
soft, unfrozen earth. Presently his spade struck something, and he dug
and dug until he had uncovered the top of a canvas bag,--the sort that
sailors call a round stern-chest. It took all his strength to lug it
out, and as he did so a seam burst, letting a shower of gold pieces over
the ground. He loosed the band of his breeches, and was filling the legs
thereof with coin, when a tread of feet sounded overhead and four men
came down the stair. Two of them he recognized as the fellows of the
tavern. They saw the bag, the lantern, then Nicholas. Laden though he was
with gold until he could hardly budge, these pirates, for such they were,
got him up-stairs, forced him to drink hot Hollands to the success of
their flag, then shot him through the window into the creek. As he was
about to make this unceremonious exit he clutched something to save
himself, and it proved to be a plucked goose that the pirates had stolen
from a neighboring farm and were going to sup on when they had scraped
their gold together. He felt the water and mud close over him; he
struggled desperately; he was conscious of breathing more freely and of
staggering off at a vigorous gait; then the power of all the schnapps
seemed to get into his head, and he remembered no more until he heard his
wife shrilling in his ears, when he sat up and found himself in a
snow-bank close to his house, with a featherless goose tight in his

Vrouw Van Wempel cared less about the state of her spouse when she saw
that he had secured the bird, and whenever he told his tale of the
pirates she turned a deaf ear to him, for if he had found the gold why
did he not manage to bring home a few pieces of it? He, in answer, asked
how, as he had none of his own money, she could have come by the goose?
He often told his tale to sympathetic ears, and would point to the old
mill to prove that it was true.

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