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The Marble Heart
by [?]

The raftsmen on the other side of the forest also aroused his envy. When these giants came over among the glass-makers, dressed in their elegant clothes, wearing at least fifty pounds of silver in buttons, buckles, and chains, when they looked on at a dance, with legs spread wide apart, swore in Dutch, and smoked pipes from Cologne three feet long in the stem, just like any distinguished Mynheer–then was Peter convinced that such a raftsman was the very picture of a lucky man. And when these fortunate beings put their hands into their pockets and drew out whole handfuls of thalers and shook for half a-dozen at a throw–five guldens here, ten there–then he would nearly lose his senses, and would steal home to his hut in a very melancholy mood. On many holiday nights he had seen one or another of these timber merchants lose more at play than his poor father had ever been able to earn in a year.

Distinguished above all others were three of these men and Peter was uncertain which one of them was most wonderful. One was a large heavy man, with a red face, who passed for the richest man of them all. He was called Stout Ezekiel. He went down to Amsterdam twice a year with timber, and always had the good fortune to sell it at so much higher a price than others could sell theirs, that he could afford to ride back home in good style, while the others had to return on foot. The second man of the trio was the lankest and leanest person in the whole forest, and was called Slim Schlurker. Peter envied him for his audacity; he contradicted the most respectable people, occupied more room when the inn was crowded than four of the stoutest, either by spreading his elbows out on the table, or by stretching his legs out on the bench, and yet no one dared to interfere with him, for he had an enormous amount of money. But the third was a handsome young man, who was the best dancer far and wide, and had, therefore, received the title of King of the Ball. He had been a poor boy, and had been a servant to one of the lumber dealers, when he suddenly became very rich. Some said that he had found a pot of gold under an old pine tree, others asserted that he had fished up a packet of gold pieces near Bingen on the Rhine, with the pole with which the raftsmen sometimes speared for fish; and that the packet was part of the great Nibelungen treasure that lies buried there. In short, he had suddenly become a rich man, and was looked upon by young and old with the respect due a prince. Charcoal Pete often thought of these three men, as he sat so lonely in the forest of pines. It is true that all three had a common failing that made them hated by the people; this was their inhuman avarice–their utter lack of sympathy for the poor and unfortunate; for the inhabitants of the Black Forest are a kind-hearted people. But you know how it goes in the world; if they were hated on account of their avarice, they yet commanded deference by virtue of their money; for who but they could throw away thalers as if one had only to shake them down from the pines?

“I won’t stand this much longer,” said Peter, dejectedly, to himself one day; for the day before had been a holiday, and all the people had been down to the inn. “If I don’t make a strike pretty soon, I shall make away with myself. Oh, if I were only as rich and respectable as the Stout Ezekiel, or so bold and mighty as the Slim Schlurker, or as famous and as well able to throw thalers to the fiddlers as the King of the Ball! Where can the fellow get his money?” He thought over all the ways by which one could make money, but none of them suited him. Finally there occurred to him the traditions of people who had become rich through the aid of Dutch Michel and the Little Glass-Man. During his father’s life-time, other poor people often came to visit them, and Peter had heard them talk by the hour of rich people and of the way their riches were acquired. The name of the Little Glass-Man was often mentioned in these conversations, as one who had helped these rich men to their wealth; and Peter could almost remember the verse that had to be spoken at the Tannenbuehl in the centre of the forest in order to summon him. It ran thus: