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The KILLCROP.

A SCENE hetween BENEDICT a German Peasant, and FATHER

Kart, an old Neighbour.

Eight years since (said Luther) at Dessaw, I did see and touch a changed Childe, which was twelv years of age; hee had his eies and all his members like another childe: Hee did nothing but feed, and would eat as much as two Clowns, or Threshers, were able to eat. When one touched it, then it cried out : When any evil happened in the Hous, then it laughed and was joiful ; but when all went well, then it cried, and was very sad. I told the Prince of Anhalt, if I were Prince of that Countrie, so would I venture Homicidium thereon, and would throw it into the River Moldaw. I admonished the people dwelling in that place devoutly to praie to God to take away the Divel ; the same. was don accordingly, and the second year after the Changeling died.

In Saxonia, near unto Halberstad, was a man that also had a Killcrop, who sucked the mother and five other women drie : and besides, devoured very much. This man was advised that hee should in his pilgrimage at Halberstad make a promiss of the Killerop to the Virgin Marie, and should caus him there to bee rocked. This advice the man followed, and carried the Changeling thither in a bas. ket. But going over a river, beeing upon the bridg, another Divel that was below in the river called, and said, Killcrop, Killcrop! Then the childe in the basket (which never before spake one word) answered, Ho, Ho. The Divel

in the water asked further, Whither art thou going? The childe in the basket said, I am going towards Hocklestad to our loving mother to be rocked.

The man beeing much affrighted thereat, threw the childe, with the basket, over the bridg into the water. Whereupon the two Divels flew away together, and cried, Ho, Ho, Ha, tumbling themselvs one over another, and so vanished.

Such Changelings and Killcrops (said Luther) Supponit Satan in locum verorum filiorum ; for the Devil hath this power, that hee changeth children, and instead thereof laieth Divels in the cradles, which prosper not, onely they feed and suck : but such Changeling3 live not above eighteen or nineteen years. It oftentimes falleth out, that the children of women in childe-bed are changed, and Divels are laid in their stead, the mothers in such sort are sucked out, that afterwards they are able to give suck no more. Such changelings (said Luther) are also baptized, in regard that they cannot be known the first year ; but are knowa only by sucking the mothers drie.

Luther's Divine Discourses, folio. p. 387.

In justice however to Luther, it should be remembered, that this Superstition was common to the age in which he lived.

BENEDICT.

You squalling Imp, lie still ! Is n't it enough
To eat two pounds for a breakfast, but again
Before the Sun's half-risen, I must hear
This cry? as tho' your stomach was as empty

As old Karl's head, that, yonder limps along
Mouthing his crust. I'll haste to Hocklestad !
A short mile only.

(Enter Father Karl.)

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KARL.

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BENEDICT, how now! Earnest and out of breath, why in this haste? What have you in your basket ?

BENEDICT.

Stand aside!
No moment this for converse: Ask to-morrow
And I will answer you, but I am now
About to punish Belzebub. Take care,
My business is important.

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KARL.

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What! about
To punish the Arch Fiend old Belzebub?"
A thing most rare -But can't I lend a hand
On this occasion ?

BENEDICT.

Father, stand aside ! I hate this parly ' Stand aside I say !

KARL.

Good BENEDICT, be not o'ercome by rage
But listen to an old man.-What is 't there
Within your basket ?

BENEDICT.

'Tis the Devil's Changeling A thumping Killcrop! (uncovers the basket)

Yes, 'tween you and I, (whispering) Our Neighbour Balderic's changed for his Son Will!

KARL
An idle thought! I say it is a child.
A fine one too !

BENEDICT.

A child! you dreaming grey-beard ! Nothing will you believe like other people. Did ever mortal man see child like this ! Why 'tis a Killcrop, certain, manifest ; Look there ! I'd rather see a dead pig snap At th' butcher's knife, than call this thing a child, View how he stares ! I'm no young Cub d'ye see.

KARL.

Why Benedict ! this is most wonderful
To my plain mind. I've often heard of Killcrops
And laugh'd at the tale most heartily ; but now
I'll mark him well, and see if there's any truth
In these said creatures. (looks at the basket)

A finer child ne'er breath'd !
Thou art mistaken, Benedict ! thine eyes
See things confused ! But let me hear thee say

What are the signs by which thou know'st the diff'rence El "Twixt Crop and Child.

BENEDICT.

The diff'rence ! mercy on us ! ·
That I should talk to such a Heretic-
D'ye know the difference 'twixt the Moon and Stars?

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KARL.

Most certainly.

BENEDICT.

Then these are things so near,
That I might pardon one who hesitates,
Doubting between them. But the Crop and Child !
They are so opposite, that I should look
Sooner to hear the Frog teach harmony
Than meet a man with hairs so grey as thine
Who did not know the difference.

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KARL.

BENEDICT!
The oldest 'ere he die, something might learn;
And I shall hear, gladly, the certain marks
That show the Killcrop.

BENEDICT

Father, listen then The Killcrop, mark me, for a true man's child At first might be mistaken--has two eyes

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