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Once upon a time in Zandam, which is by the Zuider Zee, there lived a wicked man named Nicholas Snyders. He was mean and hard and cruel, and loved but one thing in the world, and that was gold. And even that not for its own sake. He loved the power gold gave him--the power to tyrannize and to oppress, the power to cause suffering at his will. They said he had no soul, but there they were wrong.