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The Marble Heart (Second Part)
by [?]

When Peter went to his glass-works on Monday morning, he found not only his workmen there, but also other people who do not make very pleasant visitors–the sheriff and three bailiffs. The sheriff bade Peter good morning, asked how he had slept, and then took out a long register, on which were inscribed the names of Peter’s creditors. “Can you pay or not?” demanded the sheriff in a severe tone. “And be quick about the matter too, for I have not much time to spare, and the prison is a three hours ride from here.” Peter, in great despondency, confessed that he was unable to pay the claims, and left it to the sheriff to appraise his house, glass-works, stable, and horses and carriage.

While the officials were conducting their examination, it occurred to Peter that the Tannenbuehl was not far away, and as the little man had not helped him, he would try the big man. He ran to the Tannenbuehl as fast as though the officers had been at his heels; and it seemed to him, as he rushed by the spot where he had first spoken to the Little Glass-Man, that an invisible hand seized him–but he tore himself out of its grasp, and ran on till he came to the boundary line, which he remembered well; and hardly had he shouted: “Dutch Michel! Dutch Michel!” when the giant raftsman, with his immense pole, stood before him.

“Have you come at last?” said the giant, laughing. “Do they want to strip you for the benefit of your creditors? Well, be quiet; your whole trouble comes, as I told you it would, from the Little Glass-Man–the hypocrite. When one gives, one should give generously, and not like this miser. But come,” continued he, turning towards the forest, “follow me to my house, and we will see whether we can make a trade.”

“Make a trade?” reflected Peter. “What can he want from me? How can I make a bargain with him? Does he want me to do him some service, or what is it he’s after?”

They walked over a steep forest path, and suddenly came upon a dark and deep ravine. Dutch Michel sprang down the rocks as if they were an easy marble stair-case; but Peter came near fainting with fright, when Dutch Michel on reaching the bottom, made himself as tall as a church steeple, and stretched out an arm as long as a weaver’s beam, with a hand as broad as the table in the tavern, and shouted in a voice that echoed like a deep funeral bell: “Set down on my hand and hold fast to the fingers, and you will not fall.” Peter tremblingly obeyed him, taking a seat on the giant’s hand, and holding on to his thumb.

They went down and down for a great distance, but still, to Peter’s astonishment it did not grow darker; on the contrary, it seemed to be lighter in the ravine, so that for some time his eyes could not endure the light. The farther they descended, the smaller did Dutch Michel make himself, and he now, in his former stature, stood before a house neither better nor worse than those owned by wealthy peasants in the Black Forest. The room into which Peter was conducted did not differ from the rooms of other houses, except that an indescribable air of loneliness pervaded it. The wooden clock, the enormous Dutch tile stove, the utensils on the shelves, were the same as those in use every-where. Michel showed him to a seat behind the large table and then went out, returning soon with a pitcher of wine and glasses. He poured out the wine, and they talked at random, until Dutch Michel began to tell about the pleasures of the world, of strange lands, and of beautiful cities and rivers, so that Peter at last became possessed of a strong desire to travel also, and told the giant so openly.