A short story by William Hauff
The Cold Heart
Title: The Cold Heart
Author: William Hauff [More Titles by Hauff]
Those who travel through Swabia should always remember to cast a passing glance into the Schwarzwald, not so much for the sake of the trees (though pines are not found everywhere in such prodigious numbers, nor of such a surpassing height), as for the sake of the people, who show a marked difference from all others in the neighbourhood around. They are taller than ordinary men, broad-shouldered, have strong limbs, and it seems as if the bracing air which blows through the pines in the morning, has allowed them, from their youth upwards, to breathe more freely, and has given them a clearer eye and a firmer, though ruder, mind than the inhabitants of the valleys and plains. The strong contrast they form to the people living without the limits of the "Wald," consists, not merely in their bearing and stature, but also in their manners and costume. Those of the Schwarzwald of the Baden territory dress most handsomely; the men allow their beards to grow about the chin just as nature gives it; and their black jackets, wide trousers, which are plaited in small folds, red stockings, and painted hats surrounded by a broad brim, give them a strange, but somewhat grave and noble appearance. Their usual occupations are the manufacturing of glass, and the so-called Dutch clocks, which they carry about for sale over half the globe.
Another part of the same race lives on the other side of the Schwarzwald; but their occupations have made them contract manners and customs quite different from those of the glass manufacturers. Their Wald supplies their trade; felling and fashioning their pines, they float them through the Nagold into the Neckar, from thence down the Rhine as far as Holland; and near the sea the Schwarzwaelder and their long rafts are well known. Stopping at every town which is situated along the river, they wait proudly for purchasers of their beams and planks; but the strongest and longest beams they sell at a high price to Mynheers, who build ships of them. Their trade has accustomed them to a rude and roving life, their pleasure consisting in drifting down the stream on their timber, their sorrow in wandering back again along the shore. Hence the difference in their costume from that of the glass manufacturers. They wear jackets of a dark linen cloth, braces a hand's breadth wide, displayed over the chest, and trousers of black leather, from the pocket of which a brass rule sticks out as a badge of honour; but their pride and joy are their boots, which are probably the largest that are worn in any part of the world, for they may be drawn two spans above the knee, and the raftsmen may walk about in water at three feet depth without getting their feet wet.
It is but a short time ago that the belief in hobgoblins of the wood prevailed among the inhabitants, this foolish superstition having been eradicated only in modern times. But the singularity about these hobgoblins who are said to haunt the Schwarzwald, is, that they also wear the different costumes of the people. Thus it is affirmed of the Glass-mannikin, a kind little sprite three feet and a half high, that he never shows himself except in a painted little hat with a broad brim, a doublet, white trousers, and red stockings; while Dutch Michel, who haunts the other side of the forest, is said to be a gigantic, broad-shouldered fellow wearing the dress of a raftsman; and many who have seen him say they would not like to pay for the calves whose hides it would require to make one pair of his boots, affirming that, without exaggeration, a man of the middle height may stand in one of them with his head only just peeping out.
The following strange adventure with these spirits is said to have once befallen a young Schwarzwaelder:--There lived a widow in the Schwarzwald, whose name was Frau Barbara Munk; her husband had been a charcoal-burner, and after his death she had by degrees prevailed upon her boy, who was now sixteen years old, to follow his father's trade. Young Peter Munk, a sly fellow, submitted to sit the whole week near the smoking stack of wood, because he had seen his father do the same; or, black and sooty and an abomination to the people as he was, to drive to the nearest town and sell his charcoal. Now, a charcoal-burner has much leisure for reflection, about himself and others; and when Peter Munk was sitting by his stack, the dark trees around him, as well as the deep stillness of the forest, disposed his heart to tears, and to an unknown secret longing. Something made him sad, and vexed him, without his knowing exactly what it was. At length, however, he found out the cause of his vexation,--it was his condition. "A black, solitary charcoal-burner," he said to himself; "it is a wretched life. How much more are the glass-manufacturers, and the clockmakers regarded; and even the musicians, on a Sunday evening! And when Peter Munk appears washed, clean, and dressed out in his father's best jacket with the silver buttons and bran new red stockings--if then, any one walking behind him, thinks to himself, 'I wonder who that smart fellow is?' admiring, all the time, my stockings and stately gait;--if then, I say, he passes me and looks round, will he not say, 'Why, it is only Peter Munk, the charcoal-burner."
The raftsmen also on the other side of the wood were an object of envy to him. When these giants of the forest came over in their splendid clothes, wearing about their bodies half a hundred weight of silver, either in buckles, buttons or chains, standing with sprawling legs and consequential look to see the dancing, swearing in Dutch, and smoking Cologne clay pipes a yard long, like the most noble Mynheers, then he pictured to himself such a raftsman as the most perfect model of human happiness. But when these fortunate men put their hands into their pocket, pulled out handsful of thalers and staked a Sechsbatzner piece upon the cast of a die, throwing their five or ten florins to and fro, he was almost mad and sneaked sorrowfully home to his hut. Indeed he had seen some of these gentlemen of the timber trade, on many a holy-day evening, lose more than his poor old father had gained in the whole year. There were three of these men, in particular, of whom he knew not which to admire most. The one was a tall stout man with ruddy face, who passed for the richest man in the neighbourhood; he was usually called fat "Hesekiel." Twice every year he went with timber to Amsterdam, and had the good luck to sell it so much dearer than the rest that he could return home in a splendid carriage, while they had to walk. The second was the tallest and leanest man in the whole Wald, and was usually called "the tall Schlurker;" it was his extraordinary boldness that excited Munk's envy, for he contradicted people of the first importance, took up more room than four stout men, no matter how crowded the inn might be, setting either both his elbows upon the table, or drawing one of his long legs on the bench; yet, notwithstanding all this, none dared to oppose him, since he had a prodigious quantity of money. The third was a handsome young fellow, who being the best dancer far around, was hence called "the king of the ball-room." Originally poor he had been servant to one of the timber merchants, when all at once he became immensely rich; for which some accounted by saying he had found a pot full of money under an old pine tree, while others asserted that he had fished up in the Rhine, near Bingen, a packet of gold coins with the spear which these raftsmen sometimes throw at the fish as they go along in the river, that packet being part of the great "Niebelungenhort," which is sunk there. But however this might be, the fact of his suddenly becoming rich caused him to be looked upon as a prince by young and old.
Often did poor Peter Munk the coal burner think of these three men, when sitting alone in the pine forest. All three indeed had one great fault, which made them hated by every body: this was their insatiable avarice, their heartlessness towards their debtors and towards the poor, for the Schwarzwaelder are naturally a kind-hearted people. However, we all know how it is in these matters; though they were hated for their avarice, yet they commanded respect on account of their money, for who but they could throw away thalers, as if they could shake them from the pines?
"This will do no longer," said Peter one day to himself, when he felt very melancholy, it being the morrow after a holiday when every body had been at the inn; "if I don't soon thrive I shall make away with myself; Oh that I were as much looked up to and as rich as the stout Hesekiel, or as bold and powerful as the tall Schlurker, or as renowned as the king of the ball-room, and could like him throw thalers instead of kreutzers to the musicians! I wonder where the fellow gets his money!" Reflecting upon all the different means by which money may be got, he could please himself with none, till at length he thought of the tales of those people who, in times of old, had become rich through the Dutchman Michel, or the glass-mannikin. During his father's lifetime other poor people often made their calls, and then their conversation was generally about rich persons, and the means by which they had come by their riches; in these discourses the glass-mannikin frequently played a conspicuous part. Now, if Peter strained his memory a little he could almost recall the short verse which one must repeat near the Tannenbuehl in the heart of the forest, to make the sprite appear. It began as follows:
When Peter Munk heard this he was almost beside himself with joy and desire to try the adventure. It appeared to him enough to know part of the verse, and to be born on a Sunday, for the glass-mannikin to show himself. Consequently when he one day had sold his coals, he did not light a new stack, but put on his father's holiday jacket, his new red stockings, and best hat, took his blackthorn stick, five feet long into his hand, and bade farewell to his mother, saying, "I must go to the magistrate in the town, for we shall soon have to draw lots who is to be soldier, and therefore I wish to impress once more upon him that you are a widow, and I am your only son." His mother praised his resolution; but he started for the Tannenbuehl. This lies on the highest point of the Schwarzwald, and not a village or even a hut was found, at that time, for two leagues around, for the superstitious people believed it was haunted; they were even very unwilling to fell timber in that part, though the pines were tall and excellent, for often the axes of the wood-cutters had flown off the handle into their feet, or the trees falling suddenly, had knocked the men down, and either injured or even killed them; moreover, they could have used the finest trees from there only for fuel, since the raftsmen never would take a trunk from the Tannenbuehl as part of a raft, there being a tradition that both men and timber would come to harm, if they had a tree from that spot on the water. Hence the trees there grew so dense and high that is was almost night at noon. When Peter Munk approached the place, he felt quite awe-stricken, hearing neither voice nor footstep except his own; no axe resounded, and even the birds seemed to shun the darkness amidst the pines.
Peter Munk had now reached the highest point of the Tannenbuehl, and stood before a pine of enormous girth, for which a Dutch ship-builder would have given many hundred florins on the spot. "Here," said he, "the treasure-keeper (Schatzhauser) no doubt lives," and pulling off his large hat, he made a low bow before the tree, cleared his throat, and said, with a trembling voice, "I wish you a good evening, Mr. Glass-mannikin." But receiving no answer, and all around remaining silent as before, he thought it would probably be better to say the verse, and therefore murmured it forth. On repeating the words, he saw, to his great astonishment, a singular and very small figure peep forth from behind the tree. It seemed to him as if he had beheld the glass-mannikin, just as he was described, the little black jacket, red stockings, hat, all even to the pale, but fine shrewd countenance of which the people so much talked, he thought he had seen. But alas, as quickly as it had peeped forth, as quickly it had disappeared again. "Mr. Glass-mannikin," cried Peter Munk, after a short hesitation, "pray don't make a fool of me; if you fancy that I have not seen you, you are vastly mistaken, I saw you very well peeping forth from behind the tree." Still no answer, only at times he fancied he heard a low, hoarse tittering behind the tree. At length his impatience conquered this fear, which had still restrained him, and he cried, "Wait, you little rascal, I will have you yet." At the same time he jumped behind the tree, but there was no Schatzhauser, and only a pretty little squirrel was running up the tree.
Peter Munk shook his head; he saw he had succeeded to a certain degree in the incantation, and that he perhaps only wanted one more rhyme to the verse to evoke the glass-mannikin; he tried over and over again, but could not think of any thing. The squirrel showed itself on the lowest branches of the tree, and seemed to encourage or perhaps to mock him. It trimmed itself, it rolled its pretty tail, and looked at him with its cunning eyes. At length he was almost afraid of being alone with this animal; for sometimes it seemed to have a man's head, and to wear a three cornered hat, sometimes to be quite like another squirrel, with the exception only of having red stockings and black shoes on its hind feet. In short it was a merry little creature, but still Peter felt an awe, fancying that all was not right.
Peter now went away with more rapid strides than he had come. The darkness of the forest seemed to become blacker and blacker; the trees stood closer to each other, and he began to be so terrified that he ran off in a trot, and only became more tranquil when he heard dogs bark at a distance, and soon after descried the smoke of a hut through the trees. But on coming nearer and seeing the dress of the people, he found that having taken the contrary direction he had got to the raftsmen instead of the glass-makers. The people living in the hut were wood-cutters, consisting of an aged man with his son who was the owner, and some grown up grand-children. They received Peter Munk, who begged a night's quarter, hospitably enough without asking his name or residence, they gave him cider to drink, and in the evening a large black cock, the best meal in the Schwarzwald, was served up for supper.
After this meal the housewife and her daughters took their distaffs and sat round a large pine torch, which the boys fed with the finest rosin; the host with his guest sat smoking and looking at the women; while the boys were busy carving wooden spoons and forks. The storm was howling and raging through the pines in the forest without, and now and then very heavy blasts were heard, and it was as if whole trees were breaking off and crashing down. The fearless youths were about to run out to witness this terrific and beautiful spectacle, but their grandfather kept them back with a stern look and these words: "I would not advise any of you," cried he, "to go now outside the door; by heavens he never would return, for Michel the Dutchman is building this night a new raft in the forest."
The younger of them looked at him with astonishment, having probably heard before of Michel, but they now begged their grandpapa to tell them some interesting story of him. Peter Munk who had heard but confused stories of Michel the Dutchman on the other side of the forest, joined in this request, asking the old man who and where he was. "He is the lord of the forest," was the answer, "and from your not having heard this at your age, it follows that you must be a native of those parts just beyond the Tannenbuehl or perhaps still more distant. But I will tell you all I know, and how the story goes about him. A hundred years ago or thereabouts, there were far and wide no people more upright in their dealings than the Schwarzwaelder, at least so my grandfather used to tell me. Now, since there is so much money in the country, the people are dishonest and bad. The young fellows dance and riot on Sundays, and swear to such a degree that it is horrible to hear them; whereas formerly it was quite different, and I have often said and now say, though he should look in through the window, that the Dutchman Michel is the cause of all this depravity. A hundred years ago then there lived a very rich timber merchant who had many servants; he carried his trade far down the Rhine and was very prosperous, being a pious man. One evening a person such as he had never seen came to his door; his dress was like that of the young fellows of the Schwarzwald, but he was full a head taller than any of them, and no one had ever thought there could be such a giant. He asked for work, and the timber-merchant, seeing he was strong, and able to carry great weights, agreed with him about the wages and took him into his service. He found Michel to be a labourer such as he had never yet had; for in felling trees he was equal to three ordinary men, and when six men were pulling at one end of a trunk he would carry the other end alone. After having been employed in felling timber for six months, he came one day before his master, saying, 'I have now been cutting wood long enough here, and should like to see what becomes of my trunks; what say you to letting me go with the rafts for once?' To which his master replied, 'I have no objection, Michel, to your seeing a little of the world; to be sure I want strong men like yourself to fell the timber, and on the river all depends upon skill; but, nevertheless, be it for this time as you wish.'
"Now the float with which Michel was to go, consisted of eight rafts, and in the last there were some of the largest beams. But what then? The evening before starting, the tall Michel brought eight beams to the water, thicker and longer than had ever been seen, and he carried every one of them as easily upon his shoulder as if it had been a rowing pole, so that all were amazed. Where he had felled them, no one knows to this day. The heart of the timber-merchant was leaping with joy when he saw this, calculating what these beams would fetch; but Michel said, 'Well, these are for my travelling on, with those chips I should not be able to get on at all.' His master was going to make him a present of a pair of boots, but throwing them aside, Michel brought out a pair the largest that had ever been seen, and my grandfather assured me they weighed a hundred pounds and were five feet long.
"The float started; and if Michel had before astonished the wood-cutters, he perfectly astonished the raftsmen; for his raft, instead of drifting slowly down the river as they thought it would, by reason of the immense beams, darted on like an arrow, as soon as they came into the Neckar. If the river took a turn, or if they came to any part where they had a difficulty in keeping the middle stream or were in danger of running aground, Michel always jumped into the water, pushing his float either to the right or to the left, so that he glided past without danger. If they came to a part where the river ran straight, Michel often sprang to the foremost raft, and making all put up their poles, fixed his own enormous pole in the sand, and by one push made the float dart along, so that it seemed as if the land, trees, and villages were flying by them. Thus they came in half the time they generally occupied to Cologne on the Rhine, where they formerly used to sell their timber. Here Michel said, 'You are but sorry merchants and know nothing of your advantage. Think you these Colognese want all the timber from the Schwarzwald for themselves? I tell you no, they buy it of you for half its value, and sell it dear to Holland. Let us sell our small beams here, and go to Holland with the large ones; what we get above the ordinary price is our own profit.'
"Thus spoke the subtle Michel, and the others consented; some because they liked to go and see Holland, some for the sake of the money. Only one man was honest, and endeavoured to dissuade them from putting the property of their master in jeopardy or cheating him out of the higher price. However they did not listen to him and forgot his words, while Michel forgot them not. So they went down the Rhine with the timber, and Michel, guiding the float soon brought them to Rotterdam. Here they were offered four times as much as at Cologne, and particularly the large beams of Michel fetched a very high sum. When the Schwarzwaelders beheld the money, they were almost beside themselves with joy. Michel divided the money, putting aside one-fourth for their master, and distributing the other three among the men. And now they went into the public houses with sailors and other rabble, squandering their money in drinking and gambling; while the honest fellow who had dissuaded them was sold by Michel to a slave-trader and has never been heard of since. From that time forward Holland was a paradise to the fellows from the Schwarzwald, and the Dutchman Michel their king. For a long time the timber merchants were ignorant of this proceeding, and before people were aware, money, swearing, corrupt manners, drunkenness and gambling were imported from Holland.
"When the thing became known, Michel was nowhere to be found, but he was not dead; for a hundred years he has been haunting the forest, and is said to have helped many in becoming rich at the cost of their souls of course: more I will not say. This much, however, is certain, that to the present day, in boisterous nights, he finds out the finest pines in the Tannenbuehl where people are not to fell wood; and my father has seen him break off one of four feet diameter, as he would break a reed. Such trees he gives to those who turn from the right path and go to him; at midnight they bring their rafts to the water and he goes to Holland with them. If I were lord and king in Holland, I would have him shot with grape, for all the ships that have but a single beam of Michel's, must go to the bottom. Hence it is that we hear of so many shipwrecks; and if it were not so, how could a beautiful, strong ship as large as a church, be sunk. But as often as Michel fells a pine in the forest during a boisterous night, one of his old ones starts from its joints, the water enters, and the ship is lost, men and all. So far goes the legend of the Dutchman Michel; and true it is that all the evil in the Schwarzwald dates from him. Oh! he can make one rich," added the old man mysteriously; "but I would have nothing from him; I would at no price be in the shoes of fat Hesekiel and the long Schlurker. The king of the ballroom, too, is said to have made himself over to him."
The storm had abated during the narrative of the old man; the girls timidly lighted their lamps and retired, while the men put a sackful of leaves upon the bench by the stove as a pillow for Peter Munk, and wished him good night.
Never in his life had Peter such heavy dreams as during this night; sometimes he fancied the dark gigantic Michel was tearing the window open and reaching in with his monstrous long arm a purse full of gold pieces, which jingled clearly and loudly as he shook them; at another time he saw the little friendly glass-mannikin riding upon a huge green bottle about the room, and thought he heard again the same hoarse laughter as in the Tannenbuehl; again something hummed into his left ear the following verse:
He groaned, he wearied himself to find a rhyme, but never having made one in his life, his trouble in his dream was fruitless. When he awoke the next morning with the first dawn, his dream seemed strange to him; he sat down at the table with his arms crossed, and meditated upon the whisperings that were still ringing in his ears. He said to himself, "Rhyme, stupid Peter, rhyme," knocking his forehead with his finger, but no rhyme would come. While still sitting in this mood, looking gloomily down before him and thinking of a rhyme with "place," he heard three men passing outside and going into the forest, one of whom was singing,
"What possesses you, fellow?" replied the Schwarzwaelder. "I may sing what I like; let go my arm, or----"
"No, you shall tell me what you were singing," shouted Peter, almost beside himself, clutching him more tightly at the same time. When the other two saw this, they were not long in falling foul upon poor Peter with their large fists, and belabouring him till the pain made him release the third, and he sank exhausted upon his knees. "Now you have your due," said they, laughing, "and mark you, madcap, never again stop people like us upon the highway."
"Woe is me!" replied Peter with a sigh, "I shall certainly recollect it. But now that I have had the blows, you will oblige me by telling me plainly what he was singing." To this they laughed again and mocked him; but the one who had sung repeated the song to him, after which they went away laughing and singing.
"Face," then said the poor belaboured Peter as he got up slowly; "will rhyme with 'place,' now glass-mannikin, I will have another word with you." He went into the hut, took his hat and long stick, bid farewell to the inmates, and commenced his way back to the Tannenbuehl. Being under the necessity of inventing a verse, he proceeded slowly and thoughtfully on his way; at length, when he was already within the precincts of the Tannenbuehl, and the trees became higher and closer, he found his verse, and for joy cut a caper in the air. All at once he saw coming from behind the trees a gigantic man dressed like a raftsman, who held in his hand a pole as large as the mast of a ship. Peter Munk's knees almost gave way under him, when he saw him slowly striding by his side, thinking he was no other than the Dutchman Michel. Still the terrible figure kept silence, and Peter cast a side glance at him from time to time. He was full a head taller than the biggest man Peter had even seen; his face expressed neither youth nor old age, but was full of furrows and wrinkles; he wore a jacket of linen, and the enormous boots being drawn above his leather breeches, were well known to Peter from hearsay.
"What are you doing in the Tannenbuehl, Peter Munk?" asked the wood king at length, in a deep, roaring voice.
"Good morning, countryman," replied Peter, wishing to show himself undaunted, but trembling violently all the while.
"Peter Munk," replied Michel, casting a piercing, terrible glance at him, "your way does not lie through this grove."
"True, it does not exactly," said Peter; "but being a hot day, I thought it would be cooler here."
"Do not lie, Peter," cried Michel, in a thundering voice, "or I strike you to the ground with this pole; think you I have not seen you begging of the little one?" he added mildly. "Come, come, confess it was a silly trick, and it is well you did not know the verse; for the little fellow is a skinflint, giving but little; and he to whom he gives is never again cheerful in his life. Peter, you are but a poor fool and I pity you in my soul; you, such a brisk handsome fellow, surely could do something better in the world, than make charcoal. While others lavish big thalers and ducats, you can scarcely spend a few pence; 'tis a wretched life."
"You are right, it is truly a wretched life."
"Well," continued Michel, "I will not stand upon trifles, you would not be the first honest good fellow whom I have assisted at a pinch. Tell me, how many hundred thalers do you want for the present?" shaking the money in his huge pocket, as he said this, so that it jingled just as Peter had heard it in his dream. But Peter's heart felt a kind of painful convulsion at these words, and he was cold and hot alternately; for Michel did not look as if he would give away money out of charity, without asking any thing in return. The old man's mysterious words about rich people occurred to him, and urged by an inexplicable anxiety and fear, he cried "Much obliged to you, sir, but I will have nothing to do with you and know you well," and at the same time he began to run as fast as he could. The wood spirit, however, strode by his side with immense steps, murmuring and threatening "You will yet repent it, Peter, it is written on your forehead and to be read in your eyes that you will not escape me. Do not run so fast, listen only to a single rational word; there is my boundary already." But Peter, hearing this and seeing at a little distance before him a small ditch, hastened the more to pass this boundary, so that Michel was obliged at length to run faster, cursing and threatening while pursuing him. With a desperate leap Peter cleared the ditch, for he saw that the Wood-spirit was raising his pole to dash it upon him; having fortunately reached the other side, he heard the pole shatter to pieces in the air as if against an invisible wall, and a long piece fell down at his feet.
He picked it up in triumph to throw it at the rude Michel; but in an instant he felt the piece of wood move in his hand, and, to his horror, perceived that he held an enormous serpent, which was raising itself up towards his face with its venomous tongue and glistening eyes. He let go his hold, but it had already twisted itself tight round his arm and came still closer to his face with its vibrating head; at this instant, however, an immense black cock rushed down, seized the head of the serpent with its beak, and carried it up in the air. Michel, who had observed all this from the other side of the ditch, howled, cried, and raved when he saw the serpent carried away by one more powerful than himself.
Exhausted and trembling, Peter continued his way; the path became steeper, the country wilder, and soon he found himself before the large pine. He again made a bow to the invisible glass-mannikin, as he had done the day before, and said,
"You have met the lubber Michel, the Dutchman?" asked the little man, laughing strangely between each word. "He wished to frighten you terribly; but I have got his magic cudgel, which he shall never have again."
"Yes, Mr. Schatzhauser," replied Peter, with a profound bow, "I was terribly frightened. But I suppose the black cock was yourself, and I am much obliged to you for killing the serpent. The object of my visit to you, however, is to ask your advice; I am in very poor circumstances, for charcoal-burning is not a profitable trade; and being still young I should think I might be made something better, seeing so often as I do how other people have thriven in a short time; I need only mention Hezekiel, and the king of the ball-room, who have money like dirt."
"Peter," said the little man, gravely, blowing the smoke of his pipe a long way off, "don't talk to me of these men. What good have they from being apparently happy for a few years here, and the more unhappy for it afterwards? You must not despise your trade; your father and grandfather were honest people, Peter Munk, and they carried on the same trade. Let me not suppose it is love of idleness that brings you to me."
Peter was startled at the gravity of the little man, and blushed. "No, Mr. Schatzhauser," said he; "idleness is the root of every vice, but you cannot blame me, if another condition pleases me better than my own. A charcoal-burner is, in truth, a very mean personage in this world; the glass manufacturer, the raftsmen, and clock-makers, are people much more looked upon."
"Pride will have a fall," answered the little man of the pine wood, rather more kindly. "What a singular race you are, you men! It is but rarely that one is contented with the condition in which he was born and bred, and I would lay a wager that if you were a glass-manufacturer, you would wish to be a timber-merchant, and if you were a timber-merchant you would take a fancy to the ranger's place, or the residence of the bailiff. But no matter for that; if you promise to work hard, I will get you something better to do. It is my practice to grant three wishes to those born on a Sunday, who know how to find me out. The first two are quite free from any condition, the third I may refuse, should it be a foolish one. Now, therefore, Peter, say your wishes; but mind you wish something good and useful."
"Hurrah!" shouted Peter; "you are a capital glass-mannikin, and justly do people call you the treasure-keeper, for treasures seem to be plentiful with you. Well then, since I may wish what my heart desires, my first wish is that I may be able to dance better than the king of the ball-room, and to have always as much money in my pocket as fat Hezekiel."
"You fool!" replied the little man, angrily, "what a paltry wish is this, to be able to dance well and to have money for gambling. Are you not ashamed of this silly wish, you blockish Peter? Would you cheat yourself out of good fortune? What good will you and your poor mother reap from your dancing well? What use will money be to you, which according to your wish is only for the public-house, thereto be spent like that of the wretched king of the ball-room? And then you will have nothing for the whole week and starve. Another wish is now left free to you; but have a care to desire something more rational."
Peter scratched himself behind his ears, and said, after some hesitation, "Now I wish the finest and richest glass-factory in the Schwarzwald, with every thing appertaining to it, and money to carry it on."
"Is that all?" asked the little man, with a look of anxiety; "is there nothing else, Peter?"
"Why you might add a horse and chaise."
"Oh, you stupid Peter!" cried the little man, while he flung his glass pipe against a thick pine so that it broke in a hundred pieces. "Horses? a carriage? Sense, I tell you, sense--common sense and judgment you ought to have wished, but not a horse and chaise. Come, come, don't be so sad, we will do all we can to make it turn out for the best, even as it is, for the second wish is on the whole not altogether foolish. A good glass-factory will support its man; but you ought to have wished judgment and sense in addition; a horse and chaise would come as a matter of course."
"But, Mr. Schatzhauser," replied Peter, "I have another wish left, and might very well wish sense, if I am so much in need of it, as you seem to think."
"Say no more about it. You will get involved in many an embarrassment yet, when you will be glad of being at liberty to obtain your third wish. And now proceed on your way home." Drawing a small bag from his pocket, he said: "There are two thousand florins; let that be enough, and don't come again asking for money, for, if you do, I must hang you up to the highest pine. That is the way I have always acted, ever since I have lived in the forest. Three days ago old Winkfritz died, who had a large glass-factory in the Unterwald. Go there to-morrow morning, and make a fair offer for it. Look well to yourself. Be prudent and be industrious; I will come to see you from time to time, and assist you with word and deed, since you have not wished for common sense. But I must repeat it seriously; your first wish was evil. Guard against frequenting the public-house, Peter, no one who did so, ever prospered long." The little man, while thus talking to him, had taken a new pipe, of the most beautiful glass, from his pocket, charged it with dry fir-apples, and stuck it into his little toothless mouth. Then drawing out a large burning-glass, he stepped into the sun and lighted it. When he had done this, he kindly offered his hand to Peter, added a few more words of salutary advice which he might carry on his way, puffed and blew still faster, and finally disappeared in a cloud of smoke, which smelled of genuine Dutch canaster, and, slowly curling upwards, vanished amidst the tops of the pines.
On his arrival home, Peter found his mother in great anxiety about him, for the good dame thought in reality her son had been drawn among the recruits. He, however, was in great glee and full of hope, and related to her how he had met with a good friend in the forest, who had advanced him money to begin another trade. Although his mother had been living for thirty years in a charcoal-burner's hut, and was as much accustomed to the sight of sooty people, as any miller's wife is to the floury face of her husband; yet, as soon as her Peter showed her a more splendid lot, she was vain enough to despise her former condition, and said: "In truth, as the mother of a man who possesses a glass-manufactory, I shall indeed be something different from neighbour Kate and Betsy, and shall in future sit more consequentially at church among the people of quality." Her son soon came to terms with the heir of the glass manufactory. He kept the workmen he found, and made them work day and night at manufacturing glass. At first he was well enough pleased with his new trade; he was in the habit of walking leisurely into the factory, striding up and down with an air of consequence and with his hands in his pockets, looking now in one corner, now in another, and talking about various things at which his workmen often used to laugh heartily. His chief delight, however, was to see the glass blown, when he would often set to work himself, and form the strangest figures of the soft mass. But he soon took a dislike to the work; first came only for an hour in the day, then only every other day, and finally only once a week, so that his workmen did just what they liked. All this proceeded from his frequenting the public-house. The Sunday after he had come back from the Tannenbuehl he went to the public-house, and who should be jumping there already but the king of the ball-room; fat Hezekiel also was already sitting by a quart pot, playing at dice for crown-pieces. Now Peter quickly put his hand into his pocket to feel whether the glass-mannikin had been true to his word, and lo! his pockets were stuffed full of silver and gold. He also felt an itching and twitching in his legs, as if they wished to dance and caper. When the first dance was over, he took his place with his partner at the top next to the "king of the ball-room;" and if the latter jumped three feet high, Peter jumped four; if he made fantastic and graceful steps, Peter twined and twisted his legs in such a manner that all the spectators were utterly amazed with delight and admiration. But when it was rumoured in the dancing-room that Peter had bought a glass manufactory, and when people saw that Peter, as often as he passed the musicians, threw a six-batzner piece to them, there was no end of astonishment. Some thought he had found a treasure in the forest, others were of opinion that he had succeeded to some fortune, but all respected him now, and considered him a made man, simply because he had plenty of money. Indeed that very evening he lost twenty florins at play, and yet his pockets jingled and tingled as if there were a hundred thalers in them.
When Peter saw how much respected he was, he could no longer contain himself with joy and pride. He threw away handfuls of money and distributed it profusely among the poor, knowing full well as he did how poverty had formerly pinched him. The feats of the king of the ball-room were completely eclipsed by those of the new dancer, and Peter was surnamed the "emperor of the ball-room." The most daring gamblers did not stake so much as he did on a Sunday, neither did they, however, lose so much; but then, the more he lost, the more he won. This was exactly what he had demanded from the glass-mannikin; for he had wished he might always have as much money in his pocket as fat Hezekiel, and it was to this very man he lost his money. If he lost twenty or thirty florins at a stroke, they were immediately replaced in his own pocket, as soon as Hezekiel pocketed them. By degrees he carried his revelling and gambling further than the worst fellows in the Schwarzwald, and he was oftener called "gambling Peter" than "emperor of the ball-room," since he now gambled almost all the week days. In consequence of his imprudence, his glass manufactory gradually fell off. He had manufactured as much as ever could be made, but he had failed to purchase, together with the factory, the secret of disposing of it most profitably. At length it accumulated to such a degree that he did not know what to do with it, and sold it for half-price to itinerant dealers in order to pay his workmen.
Walking homewards one evening from the public house, he could not, in spite of the quantity of wine he had drunk to make himself merry, help thinking with terror and grief of the decline of his fortune. While engaged in these reflections, he all at once perceived some one walking by his side. He looked round, and behold it was the glass-mannikin. At the sight of him he fell into a violent passion, protested solemnly, and swore that the little man was the cause of all his misfortune. "What am I now to do with the horse and chaise?" he cried; "of what use is the manufactory and all the glass to me? Even when I was merely a wretched charcoal-burner, I lived more happily, and had no cares. Now I know not when the bailiff may come to value my goods and chattels, and seize all for debt."
"Indeed?" replied the glass-mannikin, "indeed? I am then the cause of your being unfortunate. Is that your gratitude for my benefits? Who bade you wish so foolishly? A glass-manufacturer you wished to be, and you did not know where to sell your glass! Did I not tell you to be cautious in what you wished? Common sense, Peter, and prudence, you wanted."
"A fig for your sense and prudence," cried Peter; "I am as shrewd a fellow as any one, and will prove it to you, glass-mannikin," seizing him rudely by the collar as he spoke these words, and crying, "have I now got you, Schatzhauser? Now I will tell you my third wish, which you shall grant me. I'll have instantly, on the spot, two hundred thousand hard thalers and a house. Woe is me!" he cried, suddenly shaking his hand, for the little man of the wood had changed himself into red-hot glass, and burned in his hand like bright fire. Nothing more was to be seen of him.
For several days his swollen hand reminded him of his ingratitude and folly. Soon, however, he silenced his conscience, saying: "Should they sell my glass, manufactory and all, still fat Hezekiel is certain to me; and as long as he has money on a Sunday, I cannot want."
"Very true, Peter! But, if he has none?" And so it happened one day, and it proved a singular example in arithmetic. For he came one Sunday in his chaise to the inn, and at once all the people popped their heads out of the windows, one saying, "There comes gambling Peter;" a second saying, "Yes, there is the emperor of the ball-room, the wealthy glass-manufacturer;" while a third shook his head, saying, "It is all very well with his wealth, but people talk a great deal about his debts, and somebody in town has said that the bailiff will not wait much longer before he distrains upon him."
At this moment the wealthy Peter saluted the guests at the windows, in a haughty and grave manner, descended from his chaise, and cried: "Good evening, mine Host of the Sun. Is fat Hezekiel here?"
To this question a deep voice answered from within: "Only come in, Peter; your place is kept for you, we are all here, at the cards already."
Peter entering the parlour, immediately put his hand into his pocket, and perceived, by its being quite full, that Hezekiel must be plentifully supplied. He sat down at the table among the others and played, losing and winning alternately; thus they kept playing till night, when all sober people went home. After having continued for some time by candle-light, two of the gamblers said: "Now it is enough, and we must go home to our wives and children."
But Peter challenged Hezekiel to remain. The latter was unwilling, but said, after a while, "Be it as you wish; I will count my money, and then we'll play dice at five florins the stake, for any thing lower is, after all, but child's play." He drew his purse, and, after counting, found he had a hundred florins left; now Peter knew how much he himself had left, without counting first. But if Hezekiel had before won, he now lost stake after stake, and swore most awfully. If he cast a pasch, Peter immediately cast one likewise, and always two points higher. At length he put down the last five florins on the table, saying, "Once more; and if I lose this stake also, yet I will not leave off; you will then lend me some of the money you have won now, Peter; one honest fellow helps the other."
"As much as you like, even if it were a hundred florins," replied Peter, joyful at his gain, and fat Hezekiel rattled the dice and threw up fifteen; "Pasch!" he exclaimed, "now we'll see!" But Peter threw up eighteen, and, at this moment, a hoarse, well-known voice said behind him, "So! that was the last."
He looked round, and behind him stood the gigantic figure of Michel the Dutchman. Terrified, he dropped the money he had already taken up. But fat Hezekiel, not seeing Michel, demanded that Peter should advance him ten florins for playing. As if in a dream Peter hastily put his hand into his pocket, but there was no money; he searched in the other pocket, but in vain; he turned his coat inside out, not a farthing, however, fell out; and at this instant he first recollected his first wish; viz., to have always as much money in his pocket as fat Hezekiel. All had now vanished like smoke.
The host and Hezekiel looked at him with astonishment as he still searched for and could not find his money; they would not believe that he had no more left; but when they at length searched his pockets, without finding any thing, they were enraged, swearing that gambling Peter was an evil wizard, and had wished away all the money he had won home to his own house. Peter defended himself stoutly, but appearances were against him. Hezekiel protested he would tell this shocking story to all the people in the Schwarzwald, and the host vowed he would, the following morning early go into the town and inform against Peter as a sorcerer, adding that he had no doubt of his being burnt alive. Upon this they fell furiously upon him, tore off his coat, and kicked him out of doors.
Not one star was twinkling in the sky to lighten Peter's way as he sneaked sadly towards his home, but still he could distinctly recognise a dark form striding by his side, which at length said, "It is all over with you, Peter Munk; all your splendour is at an end, and this I could have foretold you even at the time when you would not listen to me, but rather ran to the silly glass dwarf. You now see to what you have come by disregarding my advice. But try your fortune with me this time, I have compassion on your fate. No one ever yet repented of applying to me, and if you don't mind the walk to the Tannenbuehl, I shall be there all day to-morrow and you may speak to me, if you will call." Peter now very clearly perceived who was speaking to him, but feeling a sensation of awe, he made no answer and ran towards home.
When, on the Monday morning, he came to his factory, he not only found his workmen, but also other people whom no one likes to see; viz., the bailiff and three beadles. The bailiff wished Peter good morning, asked him how he had slept, and then took from his pocket a long list of Peter's creditors, saying, with a stern look, "Can you pay or not? Be short, for I have no time to lose, and you know it is full three leagues to the prison." Peter in despair confessed he had nothing left, telling the bailiff he might value all the premises, horses, and carts. But while they went about examining and valuing the things, Peter said to himself, "Well, it is but a short way to the Tannenbuehl, and as the little man has not helped me, I will now try for once the big man." He ran towards the Tannenbuehl as fast as if the beadles were at his heels. On passing the spot where the glass-mannikin had first spoken to him, he felt as if an invisible hand were stopping him, but he tore himself away and ran onwards till he came to the boundary which he had well marked. Scarcely had he, almost out of breath, called, "Dutch Michel, Mr. Dutch Michel!" than suddenly the gigantic raftsman with his pole stood before him.
"Have you come then?" said the latter, laughing. "Were they going to fleece you and sell you to your creditors? Well, be easy, all your sorrow comes, as I have always said, from the little glass-mannikin, the Separatist and Pietist. When one gives, one ought to give right plentifully and not like that skinflint. But come," he continued, turning towards the forest, "follow me to my house, there we'll see whether we can strike a bargain."
"Strike a bargain?" thought Peter. "What can he want of me, what can I sell to him? Am I perhaps to serve him, or what is it that he can want?" They went at first up-hill over a steep forest path, when all at once they stopped at a dark, deep, and almost perpendicular ravine. Michel leaped down as easily as he would go down marble steps; but Peter almost fell into a fit when he saw him below, rising up like a church steeple reaching him an arm as long as a scaffolding pole with a hand at the end as broad as the table in the ale house, and calling in a voice which sounded like the deep tones of a death bell, "Set yourself boldly on my hand, hold fast by the fingers and you will not fall off." Peter, trembling, did as he was ordered, sat down upon his hand and held himself fast by the thumb of the giant.
They now went down a long way and very deep, yet, to Peter's astonishment, it did not grow darker; on the contrary, the daylight seemed rather to increase in the chasm, and it was sometime before Peter's eyes could bear it. Michel's stature became smaller as Peter came lower down, and he stood now in his former size before a house just like those of the wealthy peasants of the Schwarzwald. The room into which Peter was led differed in nothing but its appearance of solitariness from those of other people. The wooden clock, the stove of Dutch tiles, the broad benches and utensils on the shelves were the same as anywhere else. Michel told him to sit down at the large table, then went out of the room and returned with a pitcher of wine and glasses. Having filled these, they now began a conversation, and Dutch Michel expatiated on the pleasures of the world, talked of foreign countries, fine cities and rivers, so that Peter, at length, feeling a yearning after such sights, candidly told Michel his wish.
"If you had courage and strength in your body to undertake any thing, could a few palpitations of your stupid heart make you tremble; and the offences against honor, or misfortunes, why should a rational fellow care, for either? Did you feel it in your head when they but lately called you a cheat and a scoundrel? Or did it give you a pain in your stomach, when the bailiff came to eject you from your house? Tell me, where was it you felt pain?"
"In my heart," replied Peter, putting his hand on his beating breast, for he felt as if his heart was anxiously turning within him.
"Excuse me for saying so, but you have thrown away many hundred florins on vile beggars and other rabble; what has it profited you? They have wished you blessings and health for it; well, have you grown the healthier for that? For half that money you might have kept a physician. A blessing, a fine blessing forsooth, when one is distrained upon and ejected! And what was it that urged you to put your hand into your pocket, as often as a beggar held out his broken hat?--Why your heart again, and ever your heart, neither your eyes, nor your tongue, nor your arms, nor your legs, but your heart; you have, as the proverb truly says, taken too much to heart."
"But how can we accustom ourselves to act otherwise? I take, at this moment, every possible pains to suppress it, and yet my heart palpitates and pains me."
"You, indeed, poor fellow!" cried Michel, laughing; "you can do nothing against it; but give me this scarcely palpitating thing, and you will see how comfortable you will then feel."
"My heart to you?" cried Peter, horrified. "Why, then, I must die on the spot! Never!"
"Yes, if one of your surgeons would operate upon you and take out your heart, you must indeed die; but with me it is a different thing; just come in here and convince yourself."
Rising at these words, he opened the door of a chamber and took Peter in. On stepping over the threshold, his heart contracted convulsively, but he minded it not, for the sight that presented itself was singular and surprising. On several shelves glasses were standing, filled with a transparent liquid, and each contained a heart. All were labelled with names which Peter read with curiosity; there was the heart of the bailiff in F., that of fat Hezekiel, that of the "king of the ball-room," that of the ranger; there were the hearts of six usurious corn-merchants, of eight recruiting officers, of three money-brokers; in short, it was a collection of the most respectable hearts twenty leagues around.
"Look!" said Dutch Michel, "all these have shaken off the anxieties and cares of life; none of these hearts any longer beat anxiously and uneasily, and their former owners feel happy now they have got rid of the troublesome guest."
"But what do they now carry in their breasts instead?" asked Peter, whose head was nearly swimming at what he beheld.
"This," replied he, taking out of a small drawer, and presenting to him--a heart of stone.
"Indeed!" said Peter, who could not prevent a cold shuddering coming over him. "A heart of marble? But, tell me, Mr. Michel, such a heart must be very cold in one's breast."
"True, but very agreeably cool. Why should a heart be warm? For in winter its warmth is of little use, and good strong Kirschwasser does more than a warm heart, and in summer when all is hot and sultry, you can't think how cooling such a heart is. And, as before said, such a heart feels neither anxiety nor terror, neither foolish compassion nor other grief."
"And that is all you can offer me," asked Peter, indignantly, "I looked for money and you are going to give me a stone."
"Well! an hundred thousand florins, methinks, would suffice you for the present. If you employ it properly, you may soon make it a million."
"An hundred thousand!" exclaimed the poor coal-burner, joyfully. "Well, don't beat so vehemently in my bosom, we shall soon have done with one another. Agreed, Michel, give me the stone, and the money, and the alarum you may take out of its case."
"I always thought you were a reasonable fellow," replied Michel, with a friendly smile; "come, let us drink another glass, and then I will pay you the money."
They went back to the room and sat down again to the wine, drinking one glass after another till Peter fell into a profound sleep.
He was awakened by the cheerful blast of a post-boy's bugle, and found himself sitting in a handsome carriage, driving along on a wide road. On putting his head out he saw in the airy distance the Schwarzwald lying behind him. At first he could scarcely believe that it was his own self sitting in the carriage, for even his clothes were different from those he had worn the day before; but still he had such a distinct recollection that, giving up at length all these reflections, he exclaimed, "I am Peter and no other, that is certain."
He was astonished that he could no longer, in the slightest degree, feel melancholy now he for the first time departed from his quiet home and the forests where he had lived so long. He could not even press a tear out of his eyes or utter a sigh, when he thought of his mother, who must now feel helpless and wretched; for he was indifferent to every thing: "Well," he said, "tears and sighs, yearning for home and sadness proceed indeed from the heart, but thanks to Dutch Michel, mine is of stone and cold." Putting his hand upon his breast, he felt all quiet and no emotion. "If Michel," said he, beginning to search the carriage, "keeps his word as well with respect to the hundred thousand florins as he does with the heart, I shall be very glad." In his search he found articles of dress of every description he could wish, but no money. At length, however, he discovered a pocket containing many thousand thalers in gold, and bills on large houses in all the great cities. "Now I have what I want," thought he, squeezed himself into the corner of the carriage and went into the wide world.
For two years he travelled about in the world, looked from his carriage to the right and left up the houses, but whenever he alighted he looked at nothing except the sign of the hotel, and then ran about the town to see the finest curiosities. But nothing gladdened him, no pictures, no building, no music, no dancing, nor any thing else had any interest for, or excited his stone heart; his eyes and ears were blunted for every thing beautiful. No enjoyment was left him but that which he felt in eating and drinking and sleep; and thus he lived running through the world without any object, eating for amusement and sleeping from ennui. From time to time he indeed remembered that he had been more cheerful and happier, when he was poor and obliged to work for a livelihood. Then he was delighted by every beautiful prospect in the valley, by music and song, then he had for hours looked in joyful expectation towards the frugal meal which his mother was to bring him to the kiln.
When thus reflecting on the past, it seemed very strange to him, that now he could not even laugh, while formerly he had laughed at the slightest joke. When others laughed, he only distorted his mouth out of politeness, but his heart did not sympathise with the smile. He felt he was indeed exceedingly tranquil, but yet not contented. It was not a yearning after home, nor was it sadness, but a void, desolate feeling, satiety and a joyless life that at last urged him to his home.
When, after leaving Strasburg, he beheld the dark forest of his native country; when for the first time he again saw the robust figures, the friendly and open countenances of the Schwarzwaelder; when the homely, strong, and deep, but harmonious sounds struck upon his ear, he quickly put his hand upon his heart, for his blood flowed faster, thinking he must rejoice and weep at the same time; but how could he be so foolish? he had a heart of stone, and stones are dead and can neither smile nor weep.
His first walk was to Michel who received him with his former kindness. "Michel," said he, "I have now travelled and seen every thing, but all is dull stuff and I have only found ennui. The stone I carry about with me in my breast, protects me against many things; I never get angry, am never sad, but neither do I ever feel joyful, and it seems as if I was only half alive. Can you not infuse a little more life into my stone heart, or rather, give me back my former heart? During five-and-twenty years I had become quite accustomed to it, and though it sometimes did a foolish thing, yet it was, after all, a merry and cheerful heart."
The sylvan spirit laughed grimly and sarcastically at this, answering, "When once you are dead, Peter Munk, it shall not be withheld; then you shall have back your soft, susceptible heart, and may then feel whatever comes, whether joy or sorrow. But here, on this side of the grave, it can never be yours again. Travelled you have indeed, Peter, but in the way you lived, your travelling could afford you no satisfaction. Settle now somewhere in the world, build a house, marry, and employ your capital; you wanted nothing but occupation; being idle, you felt ennui, and now you lay all the blame to this innocent heart." Peter saw that Michel was right with respect to idleness, and therefore proposed to himself to become richer and richer. Michel gave him another hundred thousand florins, and they parted as good friends.
The report soon spread in Schwarzwald that "Coal Peter," or "gambling Peter" had returned, and was much richer than before. It was here as it always is. When he was a beggar he was kicked out of the inn, but now he had come back wealthy, all shook him by the hand when he entered on the Sunday afternoon, praised his horse, asked about his journey, and when he began playing for hard dollars with fat Hezekiel, he stood as high in their estimation as ever before. He no longer followed the trade of glass manufacturer, but the timber trade, though that only in appearance, his chief business being in corn and money transactions. Half the people of the Schwarzwald became by degrees his debtors, and he lent money only at ten per cent., or sold corn to the poor who, not being able to pay ready money, had to purchase it at three times its value. With the bailiff he now stood on a footing of the closest friendship, and if any one failed paying Mr. Peter Munk on the very day the money was due, the bailiff with his beadles came, valued house and property, sold all instantly, and drove father, mother, and child, out into the forest. This became at first rather troublesome to Peter, for the poor outcasts besieged his doors in troops, the men imploring indulgence, the women trying to move his stony heart, and the children moaning for a piece of bread. But getting a couple of large mastiffs, he soon put an end to this cat's music, as he used to call it, for he whistled and set them on the beggars, who dispersed screaming. But the most troublesome person to him was "the old woman," who, however, was no other than Frau Munk, Peter's mother. She had been reduced to great poverty and distress, when her house and all was sold, and her son, on returning wealthy, had troubled himself no more about her. So she came sometimes before his house, supporting herself on a stick, as she was aged, weak, and infirm; but she no more ventured to go in, as he had on one occasion driven her out; and she was much grieved at being obliged to prolong her existence by the bounties of other people, while her own son might have prepared for her a comfortable old age. But his cold heart never was moved by the sight of the pale face and well known features, by the imploring looks, outstretched withered hands and decaying frame. If on a Saturday she knocked at the door, he put his hand grumbling into his pocket for a six-batzen-piece, wrapped it in a bit of paper and sent it out by a servant. He heard her tremulous voice when she thanked him, and wished him a blessing in this world, he heard her crawl away coughing from the door, but he thought of nothing, except that he had again spent six-batzen for nothing.
At length Peter took it into his head to marry. He knew that every father in the Schwarzwald would gladly give him his daughter, but he was fastidious in his choice, for he wished that every body should praise his good fortune and understanding in matrimony as well as in other matters. He therefore rode about the whole forest, looking out in every direction, but none of the pretty Schwarzwuelder girls seemed beautiful enough for him. Having finally looked out in vain for the most beautiful at all the dancing-rooms, he was one day told the most beautiful and most virtuous girl in the whole forest was the daughter of a poor wood-cutter. He heard she lived quiet and retired, was industrious and managed her father's household well, and that she was never seen at a dancing-room, not even at Whitsuntide or the Kirchweihfest. When Peter heard of this wonder of the Schwarzwald, he determined to court her, and, having inquired where the hut was, rode there. The father of the beautiful Elizabeth received the great gentleman with astonishment, but was still more amazed when he heard it was the rich Herr Peter who wished to become his son-in-law. Thinking all his cares and poverty would now be at an end, he did not hesitate long in giving his consent, without even asking the beautiful Elizabeth, and the good child was so dutiful that she became Frau Peter Munk without opposition.
But the poor girl did not find the happiness she had dreamt of. She believed she understood the management of a house well, but she could never give satisfaction to Herr Peter; she had compassion on poor people, and, as her husband was wealthy, thought it no sin to give a poor woman a penny, or a dram to a poor aged man. This being one day found out by Peter, he said to her, with angry look and gruff voice, "Why do you waste my property upon ragamuffins and vagabonds? Have you brought any thing of your own to the house that you can give away? With your father's beggar's staff you could not warm a soup, and you lavish my money like a princess. Once more let me find you out, and you shall feel my hand." The beautiful Elizabeth wept in her chamber over the hard heart of her husband, and often wished herself at home in her father's poor hut rather than with the rich, but avaricious and sinful Peter. Alas! had she known that he had a heart of marble and could neither love her nor any body else, she would not, perhaps, have wondered. But as often as a beggar now passed while she was sitting before the door, and drawing his hat off, asked for alms, she shut her eyes that she might not behold the distress, and closed her hand tight that she might not put it involuntarily in her pocket and take out a kreutzer. This caused a report and obtained an ill name for Elizabeth in the whole forest, and she was said to be even more miserly than Peter Munk. But one day Frau Elizabeth was again sitting before the door spinning and humming an air, for she was cheerful because it was fine weather, and Peter was taking a ride in the country, when a little old man came along the road, carrying a large heavy bag, and she heard him panting at a great distance. Sympathising, she looked at him and thought how cruel it was to place such a heavy burden upon an aged man.
In the meanwhile the little man came near, tottering and panting, and sank under the weight of his bag almost down on the ground just as he came opposite Frau Elizabeth.
"Oh, have compassion on me, good woman, and give me a drink of water," said the little man, "I can go no farther, and must perish from exhaustion."
"But you ought not to carry such heavy loads at your age?" said she.
"No more I should if I were not obliged to work as carrier from poverty and to prolong my life," replied he. "Ah, such rich ladies as you know not how painful poverty is, and how strengthening a fresh draught in this hot weather."
On hearing this she immediately ran into the house, took a pitcher from the shelf and filled it with water; but she had only gone a few paces back to take it to him, when, seeing the little man sit on his bag miserable and wretched, she felt pity for him, and recollecting that her husband was from home, she put down the pitcher, took a cup, filled it with wine, put a loaf of rye bread on it and gave it to the poor old man. "There," she said, "a draught of wine will do you more good than water, as you are very old; but do not drink so hastily, and eat some bread with it."
The little man looked at her in astonishment till the big tears came into his eyes; he drank and said, "I have grown old, but have seen few people who were so compassionate and knew how to spend their gifts so handsomely and cordially as you do, Frau Elizabeth. But you will be blessed for it on earth; such a heart will not remain unrequited."
"No, and she shall have her reward on the spot," cried a terrible voice, and looking round they found it was Herr Peter with a face as red as scarlet. "Even my choicest wine you waste upon beggars, and give my own cup to the lips of vagabonds? There, take your reward." His wife fell prostrate before him and begged his forgiveness, but the heart of stone knew no pity, and flourishing the whip he held in his hand he struck her with the ebony handle on her beautiful forehead with such vehemence, that she sunk lifeless into the arms of the old man. When he saw what he had done it was almost as if he repented of the deed immediately; he stooped to see whether there was yet life in her, but the little man said in a well-known voice, "Spare your trouble, Peter; she was the most beautiful and lovely flower in the Schwarzwald, but you have crushed it and never again will see it bloom."
Now the blood fled from Peter's cheek and he said, "It is you then, Mr. Schatzhauser? well, what is done is done then, and I suppose this was to happen. But I trust you will not inform against me."
"Wretch," replied the glass-mannikin, "what would it profit me if I brought your mortal part to the gallows? It is not earthly tribunals you have to fear, but another and more severe one; for you have sold your soul to the evil one."
"And if I have sold my heart," cried Peter, "it is no one's fault but yours and your deceitful treasures; your malicious spirit brought me to ruin; you forced me to seek help from another, and upon you lies the whole responsibility." He had scarcely uttered these words than the little man grew enormously tall and broad, his eyes it is said became as large as soup plates, and his mouth like a heated furnace vomiting flames. Peter fell upon his knees, and his stone heart did not protect his limbs from trembling like an aspen leaf. The sylvan spirit seized him, as if with vultures' claws, by the nape of the neck, whirled him round as the storm whirls the dry leaves, and dashed him to the ground so that his ribs cracked within him. "You worm of dust," he cried, in a voice roaring like thunder, "I could crush you if I wished, for you have trespassed against the lord of the forest; but for the sake of this dead woman that fed and refreshed me, I give you a week's respite. If you do not repent I shall return and crush your bones, and you will go hence in your sins."
It was already evening when some men passing by saw the wealthy Peter Munk lying on the ground. They turned him over and over to see whether there was still life in him, but for a long time looked in vain. At length one of them went into the house, fetched some water and sprinkled some on his face. Peter fetched a deep sigh and opened his eyes, looked for a long time around, and asked for his wife Elizabeth, but no one had seen her. He thanked the men for their assistance, crawled into his house, searched everywhere, but in vain, and found what he imagined to be a dream a sad reality. As he was now quite alone strange thoughts came into his mind; he did not indeed fear any thing, for his heart was quite cold; but when he thought of the death of his wife his own forcibly came to his mind, and he reflected how laden he should go hence--heavily laden with the tears of the poor; with thousands of the curses of those who could not soften his heart; with the lamentations of the wretched on whom he had set his dogs; with the silent despair of his mother; with the blood of the beautiful and good Elizabeth; and yet he could not even so much as give an account of her to her poor old father, should he come and ask "Where is my daughter, your wife?" How then could he give an account to Him--to Him to whom belong all woods, all lakes, all mountains, and the life of men?
This tormented him in his dreams at night, and he was awoke every moment by a sweet voice crying to him "Peter, get a warmer heart!" And when he was awoke he quickly closed his eyes again, for the voice uttering this warning to him could be none other but that of his Elizabeth. The following day he went into the inn to divert his thoughts, and there met his friend, fat Hezekiel. He sat down by him and they commenced talking on various topics, of the fine weather, of war, of taxes, and lastly, also of death, and how such and such a person had died suddenly. Now Peter asked him what he thought about death, and how it would be after death. Hezekiel replied, "That the body was buried, but that the soul went either up to heaven or down to hell."
"Then the heart also is buried?" asked Peter, anxiously.
"To be sure that also is buried."
"But supposing one has no longer a heart?" continued Peter.
Hezekiel gave him a terrible look at these words. "What do you mean by that? Do you wish to rally me? Think you I have no heart?"
"Oh, heart enough, as firm as stone," replied Peter.
Hezekiel looked in astonishment at him, glancing round at the same time to see whether they were overheard, and then said, "Whence do you know that? Or does your own perhaps no longer beat within your breast?"
"It beats no longer, at least, not in my breast;" replied Peter Munk. "But tell me, as you know what I mean, how will it be with our hearts?"
"Why does that concern you, my good fellow?" answered Hezekiel, laughing. "Why you have plenty here upon earth, and that is sufficient. Indeed, the comfort of our cold hearts is that no fear at such thoughts befals us."
"Very true, but still one cannot help thinking of it, and though I know no fear now, still I well remember how I was terrified at hell when yet an innocent little boy."
"Well, it will not exactly go well with us," said Hezekiel; "I once asked a schoolmaster about it, who told me that the hearts are weighed after death to ascertain the weight of their sins. The light ones rise, the heavy sink, and methinks our stone hearts will weigh heavy enough."
"Alas, true," replied Peter; "I often feel uncomfortable that my heart is so devoid of sympathy, and so indifferent when I think of such things." So ended their conversation.
But the following night Peter again heard the well-known voice whispering into his ear five or six times, "Peter, get a warmer heart!" He felt no repentance at having killed his wife, but when he told the servants that she had gone on a journey, he always thought within himself, where is she gone to? Six days had thus passed away, and he still heard the voice at night, and still thought of the sylvan spirit and his terrible menace; but on the seventh morning, he jumped up from his couch and cried, "Well, then, I will see whether I can get a warmer heart, for the cold stone in my breast makes my life only tedious and desolate." He quickly put on his best dress, mounted his horse, and rode towards the Tannenbuehl.
Having arrived at that part where the trees stand thickest, he dismounted, and went with a quick pace towards the summit of the hill, and as he stood before the thick pine he repeated the following verse:
"What do you want with me, Peter Munk?" asked he with a stern voice.
"I have one more wish, Mr. Schatzhauser," replied Peter, with his look cast down.
"Can hearts of stone still wish?" said the former. "You have all your corrupt mind can need, and I could scarcely fulfil your wish."
"But you have promised to grant me three wishes, and one I have still left."
"I can refuse it if it is foolish," continued the spirit; "but come, let me hear what you wish."
"Well, take the dead stone out of me, and give me a living heart," said Peter.
"Have I made the bargain about the heart with you?" asked the glass-mannikin. "Am I the Dutch Michel, who gives wealth and cold hearts? It is of him you must seek to regain your heart."
"Alas! he will never give it back," said Peter.
"Bad as you are, yet I feel pity for you," continued the little man, after some consideration; "and as your wish is not foolish, I cannot at least refuse my help. Hear then. You can never recover your heart by force, only by stratagem, but probably you will find it without difficulty; for Michel will ever be stupid Michel, although he fancies himself very shrewd. Go straightway to him, and do as I tell you." He now instructed Peter fully, and gave him a small cross of pure glass, saying, "He cannot touch your life and will let you go when you hold this before him and repeat a prayer. When you have obtained your wish return to me."
Peter took the cross, impressed all his words on his memory, and started on his way to the Dutchman Michel's residence; there he called his name three times and immediately the giant stood before him.
"You have slain your wife?" he asked, with a grim laugh. "I should have done the same, she wasted your property on beggars; but you will be obliged to leave the country for some time; and I suppose you want money and have come to get it?"
"You have hit it," replied Peter; "and pray let it be a large sum, for it is a long way to America."
Michel leading the way they went into his cottage; there he opened a chest containing much money and took out whole rolls of gold. While he was counting it on the table Peter said, "You're a wag, Michel. You have told me a fib, saying that I had a stone in my breast, and that you had my heart."
"And is it not so then?" asked Michel, astonished. "Do you feel your heart? Is it not cold as ice? Have you any fear or sorrow? Do you repent of any thing?"
"You have only made my heart to cease beating, but I still have it in my breast, and so has Hezekiel, who told me you had deceived us both. You are not the man who, unperceived and without danger, could tear the heart from the breast; it would require witchcraft on your part."
"But I assure you," cried Michel, angrily, "you and Hezekiel and all the rich people, who have sold themselves to me, have hearts as cold as yours, and their real hearts I have here in my chamber."
"Ah! how glibly you can tell lies," said Peter, laughing, "you must tell that to another to be believed; think you I have not seen such tricks by dozens in my journeys? Your hearts in the chamber are made of wax; you're a rich fellow I grant, but you are no magician."
Now the giant was enraged and burst open the chamber door, saying, "Come in and read all the labels and look yonder is Peter Munk's heart; do you see how it writhes? Can that too be of wax?"
"For all that, it is of wax," replied Peter. "A genuine heart does not writhe like that. I have mine still in my breast. No! you are no magician."
"But I will prove it to you," cried the former angrily. "You shall feel that it is your heart." He took it, opened Peter's waistcoat, took the stone from his breast, and held it up. Then taking the heart, he breathed on it, and set it carefully in its proper place, and immediately Peter felt how it beat, and could rejoice again. "How do you feel now?" asked Michel, smiling.
"True enough, you were right," replied Peter, taking carefully the little cross from his pocket. "I should never have believed such things could be done."
"You see I know something of witchcraft, do I not? But, come, I will now replace the stone again."
"Gently, Herr Michel," cried Peter, stepping backwards, and holding up the cross, "mice are caught with bacon, and this time you have been deceived;" and immediately he began to repeat the prayers that came into his mind.
Now Michel became less and less, fell to the ground, and writhed like a worm, groaning and moaning, and all the hearts round began to beat, and became convulsed, so that it sounded like a clockmaker's workshop.
Peter was terrified, his mind was quite disturbed; he ran from the house, and, urged by the anguish of the moment, climbed up a steep rock, for he heard Michel get up, stamping and raving, and denouncing curses on him. When he reached the top, he ran towards the Tannenbuehl; a dreadful thunder-storm came on; lightning flashed around him, splitting the trees, but he reached the precincts of the glass-mannikin in safety.
His heart beat joyfully--only because it did beat; but now he looked back with horror on his past life, as he did on the thunderstorm that was destroying the beautiful forest on his right and left. He thought of his wife, a beautiful, good woman, whom he had murdered from avarice; he appeared to himself an outcast from mankind, and wept bitterly as he reached the hill of the glass-mannikin.
The Schatzhauser was sitting under a pine-tree, and was smoking a small pipe; but he looked more serene than before.
"Why do you weep, Peter?" asked he, "have you not recovered your heart? Is the cold one still in your breast?"
"Alas! sir," sighed Peter, "when I still carried about with me the cold stony heart, I never wept, my eyes were as dry as the ground in July; but now my old heart will almost break with what have done. I have driven my debtors to misery, set the dogs on the sick and poor, and you yourself know how my whip fell upon her beautiful forehead."
"Peter, you were a great sinner," said the little man. "Money and idleness corrupted you, until your heart turned to stone, and no longer knew joy, sorrow, repentance, or compassion. But repentance reconciles; and if I only knew that you were truly sorry for your past life, it might yet be in my power to do something for you."
"I wish nothing more," replied Peter, dropping his head sorrowfully. "It is all over with me, I can no more rejoice in my lifetime; what shall I do thus alone in the world? My mother will never pardon me for what I have done to her, and I have perhaps brought her to the grave, monster that I am! Elizabeth, my wife, too,--rather strike me dead, Herr Schatzhauser, then my wretched life will end at once."
"Well," replied the little man, "if you wish nothing else, you can have it, so my axe is at hand." He quietly took his pipe from his mouth, knocked the ashes out, and put it into his pocket. Then rising slowly, he went behind the pines. But Peter sat down weeping in the grass, his life had no longer any value for him, and he patiently awaited the deadly blow. After a short time, he heard gentle steps behind him, and thought, "Now he is coming."
"Look up once more, Peter Munk," cried the little man. He wiped the tears from his eyes and looked up, and beheld his mother, and Elizabeth his wife, who kindly gazed on him. Then he jumped up joyfully, saying, "You are not dead, then, Elizabeth, nor you, mother; and have you forgiven me?"
"They will forgive you," said the glass-mannikin, "because you feel true repentance, and all shall be forgotten. Go home now, to your father's hut, and be a charcoal-burner as before; if you are active and honest, you will do credit to your trade, and your neighbours will love and esteem you more than if you possessed ten tons of gold." Thus saying, the glass-mannikin left them. The three praised and blessed him, and went home.
The splendid house of wealthy Peter stood no longer; it was struck by lightning, and burnt to the ground, with all its treasures. But they were not far from his father's hut, and thither they went, without caring much for their great loss. But what was their surprise when they reached the hut; it was changed into a handsome farm-house, and all in it was simple, but good and cleanly.
"This is the glass-mannikin's doing," cried Peter.
"How beautiful!" said Frau Elizabeth; "and here I feel more at home than in the larger house, with many servants."
Henceforth Peter Munk became an industrious and honest man. He was content with what he had, carried on his trade cheerfully, and thus it was that he became wealthy by his own energy, and respected and beloved in the whole forest. He no longer quarrelled with his wife, but honoured his mother, and relieved the poor who came to his door. When, after twelvemonths, Fran Elizabeth presented him with a beautiful little boy, Peter went to the Tannenbuehl, and repeated the verse as before. But the glass-mannikin did not show himself.
"Mr. Schatzhauser," he cried loudly, "only listen to me. I wish nothing but to ask you to stand godfather to my little son." But he received no answer, and only a short gust of wind rushed through the pines, and cast a few cones on the grass.
"Then I will take these as a remembrance, as you will not show yourself," cried Peter, and he put them in his pocket, and returned home. But when he took off his jacket, and his mother turned out the pockets before putting it away, four large rolls of money fell out; and when they opened them, they found them all good and new Baden dollars, and not one counterfeit, and these were the intended godfather's gift for little Peter, from the little man in the Tannenbuehl. Thus they lived on, quietly and cheerfully; and many a time Peter Munk, when gray-headed, would say, "It is indeed better to be content with little, than to have wealth and a cold heart."
C. A. F.
 A great festival in German villages, general during the months of October and November.
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