**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Marble Heart
by [?]


Whoever travels through Suabia should not neglect to take a peep into the Black Forest; not on account of the trees, although one does not find every-where such a countless number of magnificent pines, but because of the inhabitants, between whom and their outlying neighbors there exists a marked difference. They are taller than ordinary people, broad-shouldered and strong-limbed. It seems as though the balmy fragrance exhaled by the pines had given them a freer respiration, a clearer eye, and a more resolute if somewhat ruder spirit than that possessed by the inhabitants of the valleys and plains. And not only in their bearing and size do they differ from other people, but in their customs and pursuits as well. In that part of the Black Forest included within the Grand Duchy of Baden, are to be seen the most strikingly dressed inhabitants of the whole forest. The men let nature have her own way with their beards; while their black jackets, close-fitting knee breeches, red stockings, and peaked hats bound with a broad sheaf, give them a picturesque, yet serious and commanding appearance. Here the people generally are occupied in the manufacture of glass; they also make watches and sell them to half the world.

On the other side of the forest formerly dwelt a branch of this same race; but their employment had given them other customs and manners. They felled and trimmed their pine trees, rafted the logs down the Nagold into the Neckar, and from the Upper-Neckar to the Rhine, and thence far down into Holland, and even at the sea coast these raftsmen of the Black Forest were known. They stopped on their way down the rivers at each city that lined the banks, and proudly awaited purchasers for their logs and boards, but kept their largest and longest logs to dispose of for a larger sum, to the Mynheers for shipbuilding purposes. These raftsmen were accustomed to a rough, wandering life. Their joy was experienced in floating down the streams on their rafts; their sorrow in the long walk back on the banks. Thus from the nature of their occupation they required a costume entirely different from that worn by the glass-makers on the other side of the Black Forest. They wore jackets of dark linen, over which green suspenders of a hand-breadth’s width crossed over their broad breasts; black leather knee breeches, from the pockets of which projected brass foot-rules like badges of honor; but their joy and pride lay in their boots, the largest perhaps that ever came into vogue in any part of the world, as they could be drawn up two spans of the hand above the knee, so that the raftsmen could wade around in a yard of water without wetting their feet.

Up to quite a recent period, the inhabitants of this forest believed in spirits of the wood. But it is somewhat singular that the spirits who, as the legend ran, dwelt in the Black Forest, took sides in these prevailing fashions. Thus, it was averred that the Little Glass-Man, a good little spirit, only three-and-a-half feet high, never appeared otherwise than in a peaked hat with a wide brim, as well as a jacket and knee breeches and red stockings; whereas, Dutch-Michel, who haunted the other part of the forest, was a giant-sized broad-shouldered fellow in the dress of a raftsman, and several people who had seen him, asserted that they would not care to pay for the hides that would be used to make him a pair of boots. “And so tall,” said they, “that an ordinary man would not reach to his neck.”

With these spirits of the forest, a young man of this region is reported to have had a strange experience, which I will relate:

There lived in the Black Forest a widow by the name of Frau Barbara Munkin; her husband had been a charcoal-burner, and after his death she brought up her son to the same business. Young Peter Munk, a cunning fellow of sixteen, was much pleased to sit all the week round on his smoking piles of wood, just as he had seen his father do; or, all black and sooty as he was, and a scarecrow to the people, he would go down to the towns to sell his charcoal. But a charcoal-burner has plenty of time to think about himself and others; and when Peter Munk sat on his half-burned piles of wood, the dark trees about him and the deep stillness of the forest disposed him to tears and filled his heart with nameless longings. Something troubled him, and he could not well make out what it was. Finally he discovered what it was that had so put him out of sorts; it was his occupation. “A lonely black charcoal-burner,” reflected he. “It is a miserable life. How respectable are the glassmakers, the watchmakers, and even the musicians of a Sunday evening! And when Peter Munk, cleanly-washed and brushed, appears dressed in his father’s best jacket with silver buttons and with bran-new red stockings, and when one walks behind me and thinks, Who is that stylish-looking fellow? and inwardly praises my stockings and my stately walk–when he passes by me and turns around to look, he is sure to say to himself: ‘Oh, it’s only Charcoal Pete!'”