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Translated by John Oxenford
Illustrated by R.Sahaltuev
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 Schwarzwälder 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 Schwarzwälder:—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 Schwarzwälder 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.
Hauff W.; illustrated by Sahaltuev R.
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