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The Cold Heart
by [?]

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:

“Keeper of wealth in the forest of pine,
Hundreds of years are surely thine:
Thine is the tall pine’s dwelling place–“

But he might tax his memory as much as he pleased, he could remember no more of it. He often thought of asking some aged person what the whole verse was. However, a certain fear of betraying his thoughts kept him back, and moreover he concluded that the legend of the glass-mannikin could not be very generally known, and that but few were acquainted with the incantation, since there were not many rich persons in the Wald;–if it were generally known, why had not his father, and other poor people, tried their luck? At length, however, he one day got his mother to talk about the mannikin, and she told him what he knew already, as she herself remembered only the first line of the verse, but she added, that the sprite would show himself only to those who had been born on a Sunday, between eleven and two o’clock. He was, she said, quite fit for evoking him, as he was born at twelve o’clock at noon; if he but knew the verse.

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.