These men, through the black masks or paste which covered their faces, and made of them, at fear's pleasure, charcoal-burners, negroes, or demons, had a stupid and gloomy air, and it could be felt that they perpetrated a crime like a bit of work, tranquilly, without either wrath or mercy, with a sort of ennui. They were crowded together in one corner like brutes, and remained silent.
Like many modern mediums she was of humble origin, her birthplace being a forester's hut in the Würtemberg mountain village of Prevorst; and here, among wood-cutters and charcoal-burners, she passed the first years of her life. Even while still a child she seems to have attracted wide-spread attention on account of certain peculiarities of temperament and conduct.
Nobody there save wood-choppers and charcoal-burners; no culture nor taste for art no station where one can spend a night for nothing!" "Oh, nonsense!" rejoined the other. "I like the peasants best; they know where the shoe pinches, and are not so particular if you sometimes blow a false note." "That is, you have no point d'honneur," said the cornetist.
And so " Mowgli thought hard, with his fingers playing round the haft of the skinning-knife, while Buldeo and the charcoal-burners went off very valiantly in single file. "I go hot-foot back to the Man-Pack," Mowgli said at last. "And those?" said Gray Brother, looking hungrily after the brown backs of the charcoal-burners.
The peasants, as well the wood-cutters and charcoal-burners of the forest, having then no employment, assemble in small bands, furnish themselves with provisions for several days, and armed with ponderous and clumsy fowling-pieces, go in search of the wild cat and the wolf, the roebuck and the boar.
The charcoal-burners of years gone by were a far more flourishing community than they are now. When the old baronial halls and country-seats depended on them for the basis of their fuel, and the log was a more frequent occupant of the fire-grate than now, these occupiers of midforest were a people of some importance.
'A guard of soldiers will take you back to your hut, said the king. 'Your wife has the key. 'Weren't they silly? cried the grandchildren of the charcoal-burners when they heard the story. 'How we wish that we had had the chance! We should never have wanted to know what was in the soup-tureen! From 'Littérature Orale de l'Auvergne, par P. Sébillot.
One wretched hovel succeeded another. Yonder before a door, Wilhelm the idiot, on whom the city boys played their pranks, smiled into vacancy just as foolishly as he had done twenty years ago, here lodged Kathrin, with the big goitre, who swept the gutters; in the three grey huts, from which hung numerous articles of ragged clothing, lived two families of charcoal-burners, and Caspar, the juggler, a strange man, whom as a boy he had seen in the pillory, with his deformed daughters, who in winter washed laces and in summer went with him to the fairs.
As we watched we knew that all in the cottage must be dead. What could we do? At last James started off in the hope of getting help. He found a party of charcoal-burners, and they came with him. The flames were burnt down now; and we and they approached the charred ruins. Everything was in ashes.
P.S. If thought fit, after the fashion of Parisian charcoal-burners in ill-ventilated bed-rooms, Charlotte may have recorded her experiences in the vault, by writing with a rusty nail on the coffin-plates.