The story is set during the Thirty Years' War. The writer, the Rev. Abraham Schweidler, a good and simple minded man, almost loses his only child Maria to a plot by a rejected suitor (the Sheriff) accusing her of witchcraft aided by an evil and jealous woman of the neighborhood. After a formal trial and under the threat of the most dire torture Maria, wholly innocent of the preposterous crime, confesses. While on the way to the pyre she is rescued by a courageous young nobleman who loved her who reveals the evil plot against her. The forgery is done with great skill and detail using the language and expressions that would be common to the period it is set in.