The Banished Paper Miller’s Wife

Behind Goslar, there used to be a paper mill. An old couple lived within who had only one son. As he grew up, he found himself a woman he loved, but his parents could not stand the relationship. Nevertheless, he could not be deterred and courted her. Soon after the marriage, the paper miller’s wife died and the paper miller handed over the premises and everything within them to his son, moved to Goslar, and established his own household there. Time passed, and the young woman gave birth to a son. The two maids had to keep watch with the new mother. When the time approached midnight, the two girls became tired along with the mother, and all fell asleep. When they woke up the next morning, the boy lay dead next to the mother, and nobody knew what caused his death.

More time passed, and the young paper miller’s wife gave birth to a little girl. Then everything happened again as before. Some time after the death of the daughter, the woman gave birth to a boy again. At that time, there was a new maid among the two maids watching over her. She chatted with and told things to the other one, and in this manner both stayed awake. But it was a wonderful night, the moon was shining brightly, and when the hour approached eleven o’clock, the new girl said that she wanted to step outside for a moment. There was a large side building opposite of the paper mill, and as she was outside, there was suddenly a noise coming from this building. Then, a window opened and a white figure looked outside. As the bell struck twelve, the white figure closed the window, walked across the floor, and went away.

When the young master woke up the next morning, the maids told him of these events. He initially did not want to believe this, and decided to stay awake with them himself the following night. As soon as the bell struck eleven, the figure appeared again, and the young paper miller recognized his mother. At twelve o’clock, the figure threw the window shut and vanished. The next day, the old paper miller was brought to the mill. He, too, stayed awake during the night and was able to convince himself that the first two children had been killed by none other than his wife.

He thus sent out a call for discalced monks who could banish the ghost. The physician and the midwife were fetched as well, in case something happened to the mother while the ghost was to be banished from the chamber in which she was lying. The monks ordered the miller to leave everything open in the house, and he did so. However, when the guard passed by, he closed the main entrance and the window of the main chamber. First, the two monks drew three rings on the floor of the mother’s chamber. There was a young monk and an old one. The young one sat down at the bottom of the bed at a small table, took his large book, put it down before him backwards, and started to read in it. The old one stood next to him.

As the hour struck eleven, the old woman appeared at the window of the side building. When she had looked outside for a while, she closed the window and entered the main house. At the first circle, she stopped. Then the young monk asked: “Spirit, declare if you a good spirit or an evil spirit! Thus I command you to speak!” She did not reply, and he asked for a second time. But she did not answer again, and when he asked for the third time, she confronted him that he had once had stolen a penny from his mother. While he replied that he had bought paper with this money, he still had to stand up, and the old monk sat down in his place.

When he talked to the ghost, she began to shake and confessed that she could not rest, for she had not wanted his son to court his wife, and that she was guilty for the death of the two children. And if the girl hadn’t stayed awake this time, the third child would have suffered the same fate. Then the monk commanded her to leave for the Red Sea, but in answer she started to beg. She asked them to leave her a corner in the house, even if it was only a hole she could climb into. Then this monk asked her son and her husband if they would be content that she would stay within the house. These two did not want to abide by this, and said: “No, she should go to the Red Sea.” As soon as the bell struck twelve, she turned around and vanished, and left a terrible stench behind. When they went down to the main chamber where the guard had closed everything, they discovered that she had taken a panel of glass from one of the window frames with her. But from this time onward, she never reappeared again.


Source: Pröhle, H. Harzsagen zum Teil in der Mundart der Gebirgsbewohner. 1896, p. 88ff.