Earlier posts have been migrated from ‘blogger’; this is Karl May Friends’ new home for excerpts of the English Karl May Books by Bugmann.
Excerpt from: The Travels of Winnetou & Shatterhand
During our ride it became evident what good horses were capable of accomplishing. I was worried for the immigrants; we therefore drove our horses on quite considerably. We believed that they would be able to rest once we had arrived at the hacienda. Consequently, we reached the boundary of the estate already in the afternoon of the next day. The two boys on frothing horses, of course, while ours were as dry and lively as if we were only starting out on our lengthy ride.
We followed the lead of the stream and soon saw the walls that surrounded the burned-down buildings. No one prevented us from entering. Nevertheless, I hesitated to ride into the yard. Winnetou immediately understood me and said:
“My brother Old Shatterhand may search alone at first. Red men attacked the hacienda. If someone is here and sees the four of us at the same time, he might mistake us for Yuma and flee, so that we cannot make enquiries, and won’t receive any information.”
I rode into the yard on my own. It contained a chaos of blackened wall ruins; I searched them but found not a soul. I turned back in the hope of finding someone outside the walls. As soon as I turned the south-west corner, I spotted a white man slowly approaching. He wore a long, dark frock, which gave him almost the appearance of a cleric, and he stopped in surprise when he saw me.
“Buenas dias!” I greeted in Spanish. “Do you belong to this hacienda, senor?”
“Yes,” he replied while he scrutinized me with a piercing gaze.
“Who is the owner?”
“Ah, after all! I am looking for him. He is an acquaintance of mine.”
“Then I’m sorry that you won’t meet him here. He and senor Timoteo Pruchillo, the former owner of the property, rode to Ures, to legalize the purchase.”
“But his friends are still here?”
“The senores Weller? No. They went up to the Fuente de la Roca.”
“And the German workers?”
“The two senores are leading them up there, where they are being expected by the Yuma Indians. You must be a friend of senor Melton, because you’re asking about these people. May I ask who…”
I remained at his side as he continued on his way. We were rounding the corner of the wall, and he saw the three Indians, stopped, cut himself short mid-sentence, stared at the Apache with a start, and then shouted in English:
“Winnetou! All devils! Satan incarnate has led him here!”
During the last remark he turned and ran away, leapt across the creek with a long, daring jump, and then like a hunted animal raced across the ash-covered forest floor from which the stumps of the burned trees and bushes rose. Winnetou had also seen him, and heard his words. He drove his horse into a gallop, raced past me, and careened across the water, without saying anything, to follow the fleeing man. The Apache had undoubtedly recognized him, and had obviously made his acquaintance in a way that seemed to suggest it was advisable to apprehend him.
But that was a difficult task. During the fast ride, the countless stumps of the burned-down forest were almost indistinguishable from the thick ash cover, because they were of the same, grey colour, and could easily cause the horse to fall, or injure its feet, so that it would become unrideable. Winnetou realized it, especially since it had already stumbled a few times. He stopped it, jumped down and continued the pursuit on foot.
Had I known who the man was, and that we ought to have secured him at all costs, I would have easily rendered him immobile with a bullet to his leg during the first few moments; but in the given situation I had to leave it be, especially since I was aware of the fact that Winnetou would do likewise, should he deem it necessary. He was an excellent runner; I knew that it was impossible to catch him; we had had cause to run for our lives once before. However, he was at a disadvantage in the prevailing situation, because not only his rifle, but also the rest of his gear was obstructing his movements, while the other was not carrying anything, and under the circumstances, being driven by great fear, developed a speed that would ordinarily not have been possible. Winnetou wasn’t able to make up the man’s head start as quickly as he wished. But I knew that he would catch him during a lengthy pursuit, because he possessed the kind of staying power the other could not match.
The race went up a burned, naked hill behind the hacienda. The fugitive arrived on the top a whole minute ahead of the Apache, and then disappeared on the far side. When Winnetou reached the height, I could see that, initially, he wanted to continue, but changed his mind, cast a glance across the terrain to estimate the distance, and then put his rifle to his cheek to aim. He wanted to shoot, yet lowered his rifle again, made a reflexive movement with his arm as if to say: “No, I won’t,” turned around and came back down the hill. When he reached his horse, which hadn’t moved from where he had left it, he remounted and crossed the creek to return to us.
“Winnetou prefers to let him go,” he said. “On the other side of the hill there is forest that didn’t burn; he would reach it ahead of me, and then I would no longer be able to see him.”
“My brother would certainly catch him,” I replied.
“Yes, I would capture him, but that would take a long time, perhaps more than a day, since I would be forced to follow his trail, which would slow me down. And the matter isn’t worth wasting so much time over.”
“My brother wanted to shoot. Why didn’t he do it?”
“Because I wanted to only wound him, but the distance was too great to get a clear shot. I would definitely have hit him, but it could have been in a dangerous spot, and I didn’t want to kill him; although I know of some of the bad things he had done, they aren’t grave enough for me to have the right to kill him.”
“My brother knows the man?”
“Yes. My friend Shatterhand has probably not seen him before, but he knows his name. He belongs to the palefaces who call themselves Mormons; he belongs to the Saints of the Latter Days, but his conduct in the past, as well as in the present, is that of a very dangerous human being. He is a murderer, on top of everything else; but since he hasn’t killed any of my brothers, I must let him live.”
“And yet you’ve gone after him! You must therefore have been of the opinion that it would be of an advantage to us to catch him.”
“Yes, those were my thoughts the moment I saw him. If he is here on the hacienda, then he most certainly is Melton’s ally; he knows Melton’s plans and secrets, and we might have been successful in forcing him to tell us.”
“Had I known that, then he wouldn’t have escaped; I would have apprehended him while we were talking, or with a bullet forced him to stay. Who is this man you call dangerous, and even a murderer?”
“I don’t know his actual name; he is usually called ‘The Gambler’.”
“‘The Gambler’! Ah! I’ve indeed heard more than enough about him. You know that Melton has a brother, infamous for cheating in card games. He shot dead an officer and two soldiers in Fort Uintah. I hunted him down to Fort Edward, where I caught him and delivered him into custody; but he escaped soon after. ‘The Gambler’ was closely associated with that Melton brother. For years they’ve conducted their shady dealings together, and there is indeed talk about not only theft and robbery, but also murder and bloodshed. I know two or three cases in which I consider ‘The Gambler’ to be guilty of a crime. So, the scoundrel is here! Which means, of course, that he’s in cahoots with Melton, whom he would have met through the brother, and it is a shame that he managed to escape.”
“Shall we go after him? Old Shatterhand will find his trail just as easily as I would; he cannot get away from us.”
“I’m convinced of that; but Winnetou has correctly pointed out that catching him would cost us too much time, which we require for more pressing priorities. ‘The Gambler’ mistook me for a close acquaintance of Melton, and has consequently given me information that he now regrets having divulged. I must convey it to my red brother.”
I reported what I had heard. When I concluded, he said in his customary, reflective manner:
“The Wellers have travelled to the Fuente de la Roca with the immigrants, and Melton has ridden to Ures with the hacendado. What are Old Shatterhand’s fellow countrymen supposed to do at the Fuente?”
Riders in a Storm
Excerpt from: Black Mustang
The raging storm whipped sheets of rain through the crowns of the tall fir trees that flexed in its fury. Finger-thick streams of water flowed down the giant trunks to unite at their base first into small, then ever-growing runnels, becoming small creeks that, in countless cascades, jumped from rock ledge to rock ledge into the depth. From there the swollen river carried the waters down the narrow gorge. Night was about to fall. Minute after minute thunder rolled across the chasm. Yet despite the bright lightning flashes the rain fell so solidly that one could barely see five paces ahead.
The effects of the wild storm were felt most severely by the forest and the cliffs at the upper reaches of the valley. But its force did not quite penetrate into the narrow confines further down. That’s where the giant, immovable firs were standing in the darkness. By no means was it quiet though. The river rushed and tumbled so noisily that only someone with very keen auditory perception could have heard the two horsemen riding downstream; but he wouldn’t have been able to see them.
Had it been day, with its plentiful light, the two riders would certainly have attracted the gazes of everyone they encountered, and not just because of their clothing and equipment, but because both were of a frightening stature. One would have been hard pressed to find two people as long and thin as those two, even searching all the countries on the Earth for decades.
One of them was flaxen-haired; his head was ridiculously small for his size. Centred beneath two placid mouse eyes sat a tiny, upturned snub-nose that would have suited a four-year-old child much better. Those proportions were at odds with the enormously wide mouth. It stretched almost from one ear to the other. The man didn’t have a beard; it seemed to be a congenital defect because the womanly smooth face had certainly never felt a razor. He wore a doublet that hung from his narrow shoulders like a pleated short coat, tight-fitting leather pants that kept his stork legs snugly wrapped, half boots, and a straw hat with a sadly drooping brim that channelled the water down onto him in uninterrupted streams. On his back hung a double-barreled rifle with its barrel pointing downwards. The horse he was riding was a strong, big-boned nag that surely had fifteen summers on its back already, but seemed intent on experiencing another fifteen in a just-as-spritely manner.
The other rider had dark hair upon which sat an ancient fur cap, a very narrow, very long face, with equally narrow and long nose and mouth. His thread-like moustache had tips long enough to almost be tied together behind his ears. His more than two- metre frame was, contrary to his companion, clad tightly at the top and loose at the bottom, because while he wore very wide trousers with many pleats, the cuffs of which terminated inside rawhide boots, his upper body was encased in a long felt jacket that was as tight as if it had been moulded around his body. He also carried a double-barreled firearm. He was sitting on a reliable mustang with a birth date that would have repeated just as many times already as that of his companion’s horse. Of course, both also carried knife and revolver.
Neither the path they were taking nor the pouring rain bothered the two riders. They left the matter of finding and following the former to their horses, and basically had no objections to the latter because it couldn’t penetrate any deeper than their skin and was bound to run off at the bottom anyway.
Despite the unrelenting thunder and lightning, as well as the dangerously close vicinity of the river, which tore and dug at its banks, they conversed as uninhibited with each other as if they were riding across a prairie in bright sunshine. However, an attentive observer would have noticed that they scrutinized each other closely despite the gloomy light. They had met only an hour earlier, during the late afternoon, upriver, and just before the onset of the thunderstorm. Initial mistrust is well placed in the Wild West; but when they found out that both were headed for Firwood Camp, they considered that riding together, instead of separately, was only natural.
They hadn’t asked about each other’s names or circumstances and their conversation had thus far been of such general nature that they didn’t touch on personal matters. When lightning sent a series of blinding flashes through the narrow gorge, immediately followed by a succession of cracking thunder rolls, the blond rider with the snub nose said:
“Bless my soul! What a thunderstorm! Feels like home with Timpe’s heirs!”
The other reflexively stopped his horse when he heard the last remark and already opened his mouth to pose a hasty question, but thought better of it and said nothing; instead, he drove his horse on again. He remembered that one ought not be careless west of the Mississippi.
The conversation recommenced, though in a fairly monosyllabic fashion, as dictated by locality and situation. A quarter of an hour passed, and another. Then, unexpectedly, the river described a sharp bend across the riders’ path; the water had washed out and undercut the clay bank; the horse of the blond couldn’t turn fast enough, stepped onto the unsupported, loosened piece of ground and broke through, fortunately not very deeply; the rider pulled it up and around, used his spurs and, with one daring leap of the horse, was back on solid ground.
“Good God!” he exclaimed. “I’m already wet enough from the rain, why add such a bath? I could have drowned here! Reminds me of Timpe’s heirs!”
Swallow & L’Horrible … encore
Or: The Romance of the Tall Ships
Excerpt from: Captured at Sea
A vessel sailed on course from Acapulco to San Francisco. She was a sturdy, elegant three master. Under her bowsprit, and along her stern she wore in golden letters the name L’Horrible. The uniform of the crew evidenced that the ship belonged to the navy of the United States, although small details in construction and rigging led to the assumption that it hadn’t been built for that purpose.
The commander stood on the quarterdeck, and looked up to the shroud, where one of the men was hanging, and with the telescope was scanning the horizon.
“Well, Jim, have you got her?”
“Aye, aye, captain; there she sails right in front of the lens!” the man in the shroud replied while he pointed into the wind. He called the commander ‘captain’, although the man in question wore the insignia of a navy lieutenant. Using the address of a higher rank cannot hurt, especially not if the person deserved the promotion.
“What course is she holding?”
“She is seeking our wake, sir. I believe she hails from Guayaquil or Lima, perhaps even from Valparaiso, because she steers from further west than we are.”
“What kind of vessel is she, Jim?”
“I can’t say yet, sir; let her come a little closer first!”
“Will she be able to?”
“I find that hard to believe,” the commander replied. “I’m curious to see the ship that can out-sail L’Horrible!”
“Hm,” the man grunted while he climbed down from the shroud. He gave the telescope to the lieutenant: “I know one who would!”
“Yes, her; but no other! But why would Swallow come into these waters?”
“Don’t know, sir; but the ship back there is no Boston herring tub; it is a swift little clipper. If it were a large vessel, one would have to see it more clearly at that distance. And Swallow is a clipper.”
“Alright, we’ll see!” the lieutenant said. He dismissed the man and went to the helm with the telescope.
“Sail in sight?” the helmsman asked.
“Wouldn’t you want to do some reefing?”
“That’s not necessary,” the commander replied as he looked through the lens. “It’s a splendid sailer; she’ll catch us without reefing.”
“Pah, sir; I’d like to see that!”
“It is so,” the lieutenant said with a voice that revealed just a hint of injured seaman’s pride. “She knows how to grab her space. Look, mate, three minutes ago she was visible from only the top; now I’m standing on the deck and can spot her.”
“Shall I luff the sails, sir?”
“No; I would like to see how long it will take her to draw level with us. If it’s an American, then I shall be pleased; but if it’s someone else, then I’d rather whish the devil upon him than such a vessel.”
It didn’t take long before the tops of the masts, and then soon after the slender hull of the stranger was visible with the naked eye.
“It is a clipper with schooner rigging,” the mate said.
“Yes. A magnificent ship, by all the devils! Look how she runs before the wind, and with full sails at that. The one who captains her has less respect of a handful of wind than anyone else. He’s even readied the topgallant sails, so that the schooner will lift the rudder and dance on the bow!”
“A brave fellow, sir. But if a squall grabs her, the clipper will kiss the sea, as truly as I am mate Perkins! The man is sailing a little too recklessly.”
“No. Can’t you see that the men only hold the lines, and that they aren’t tied down? In the event of a squall, they simply let them go, pah!”
“She’s hoisting the banner now. Truly, an American! Can you see the stars and stripes? She literally eats the water, and will be at our side in five minutes.”
“She eats the water; yes, that’s the proper expression for such a run. By God, she really has six cannon hatches on each side, a swivel gun on the forecastle, and one on the poop deck near the helmsman. Can you recognize the emblem yet, mate?”
“Not yet; but if I’m not mistaken, then it is Swallow. I’ve been aboard her in Hoboken once, and have had a very close look at every pulley and every sheet, each piece of hawser and rigging.”
“Who was the commander on her at the time?”
“I’ve forgotten the name, sir; he was an old, half wrecked seadog with a red-blue nose that looked a lot like Gin and Brandy. But I knew the mate very well. His name was Peter Polter. He came from Germany and was an experienced sailor. Everyone knew they could rely on him. Have you got her close enough to the lens?”
“Yes. It is Swallow. Keep one or two points to windward; it is obvious that she wants to talk to us!”
The lieutenant returned to the quarterdeck. “Holla, boys, to the braces!”
The men leapt to the lines.
“Hoist the pennant!”
The stars and stripes banner of the Union flew to the top. “Ready to heave to!”
The orders were carried out with admirable precision. “Gun commander!”
The gunner stepped up to his cannon.
“Reef sails! Fire!”
The sails slacked, and at the same time the cannon shot discharged over the sea.
“Attention, mate, keep the wind out of the sails!”
The helmsman immediately obeyed the order, and with the least possible canvas on the yards, L’Horrible was hove to, and waiting for Swallow. A cannon also fired on board the clipper. She came flying along with almost fabulous speed. A blue swallow carved from wood spread its golden, pointy wings under her bowsprit. The inscription of the name on her stern was not visible at that point. The stiff breeze filled her heavy sails. She was lying to the side, so that the tips of her spars almost touched the water; the confidence and elegance with which she approached was a credit to her name. Her jib drew level with the stern pennant of L’Horrible when the voice of her commander, who stood on the deck of his schooner, carried across:
“Reef the sails!”
Her sails immediately dropped, the vessel lifted her bow, rose from her tilted stance, with the momentum taking her into a quick, short tilt to the other side, before she straightened up proud and strong above the tamed waves.
Four Saxons in the Wild Wesht
Excerpt from: Black Mustang
Four Saxons together in the Wild West, in a thicket at Corner Top! Surely a rare accident! Hobble remarked about it:
“It’s almost as if wild pigeons had purposely gathered us here.”
“Why wild pigeons and not tame ones?” Has asked.
“Because there aren’t any tame ones in the Wild West. Can’t you see thet?”
“Well! You’re right there, dear Frank.”
“I think so too. Because I’m always right. In this reshpect you’ll soon see right through me, while in every other way I am mostly not transparent. And of course the greatest wisdom of our subcutanean life is that it’s wisest to keep one’s talents closely guarded; that way one cannot be misundershtood and at the most be regarded as dumb once in a while. For that reason it is that I usually keep my brainwaves encapsulated and only favourite people are privileged to experience the honour of my chlornatrium, by which I allow them a glimpse into the depths of my mind to pluck the treasures therein as if from the pinions of the paternoster works. And such a privileged and devout hour has at this moment come over you. You’ll probably like to know how we’re going to deal with the Comanche today. I am able and willing to hand down to you the necessary explanations and herewith grant you my permission to address myself trustfully with your questions. You speak firsht, cousin Droll.”
Droll didn’t want to object, but he knew the value of the explanations that were to be expected, and so he shook his head and said:
“Why me first, dear Frank? I have known you a long time and am more than happy to afford these two gentlemen first priority. A man has to be polite.”
“You’re quite right! I knew a professor of zoology who always said: ‘Politeness is one habit one shouldn’t try and give up’. Words from an expert such as him have good rhyme and reason. Now then, Kas shall tell me what he wants to hear from me.”
“Me?” Kas asked. “You want me to tell you what I want to know from you?”
“Ja doch, Ja, ‘yes, indeed, yes’!”
“Nothing, I want to know absolutely nothing.”
“What? Nischt, absolutely nothing? Ish thet possible?” Frank asked with great consternation.
“Nothing at all,” Kas nodded.
“And you, Has?”
“The same nothing,” Has replied.
“Ooch nischt, ‘nothing, either’? Are you shpeaking in all earnest?”
“Absolute earnest.” First Frank pulled a baffled face as if something altogether incomprehensible had happened to him; then his features took on an air of concern before they changed to expressions of ire and he heatedly shouted:
“Ish thet possible? Has anyone ever experienced anything like this? They don’t want to know anything from me, absolutely zilch! That is impertinent! Is it possible that there are such people in existence who are of the inconceivable opinion that they don’t require to hear or learn anything from the prairie- and bear- hunter Heliogabalus Morpheus Edeward Franke? We’re lying in ambush to eavesdrop on them Indians; we have the intention to outfox them and to defeat them; this intention can only come to incalculable fruition because of the present individuality of my experienced persona, and there are two human creatures on this planet who entertain the attitude that they need not hear anything from me! Thet goes against all of my grains; that plunges my entire charitable demeanour into disarray; I hide my head behind the Roman satin mantilla veil and let those cook coffee who feel so inclined. But when the enemies are coming, the Comanche, and the cry resounds: ‘Hannibal ad boarding houses!’, when panic strikes and the trouble has got to its highest point, when they return to me and ask for help; that’s when I will be thanking them for the sour liverwurst and close my ears to their despair, just like the gate gets bolted before bedtime at night!”
Kas shook his head in amazement and said:
“What was that? What did you say: ‘Hannibal ad boarding houses’?”
“Ja, I have said thet and jusht like thet and not any other way ’round,” Frank replied with the eyes and the mien of a jaguar, ready to pounce onto its prey.
“But that’s wrong,” lanky Kas said, “so completely wrong, there couldn’t be anything more wrong that I could think of!”
Droll signalled him to shut up, which Kas didn’t notice, unfortunately, because he still wasn’t quite familiar with Hobble’s demeanour yet. Frank had been vexed before; but the new contradiction provoked him even more, and so he fiercely roused at careless Kas:
“Was…wie? ‘What…how?’ Completely wrong? Have you lost your mind? World-famous Hobble-Frank is supposed to have said something that wasn’t true, even completely wrong, and cannot be corroborated by the higher temperatures of science! Has the human race ever heard such impertinently mixed hotchpotch! Of course myself won’t be deranged in the least from my olympathically calm composure because of such an unorthographic doubt about my unequivocal capillarity, and so I ask you then in the softest H-minor tone of my bacteriological voice: how could what I said have been wrong, eh?”
“It’s: ‘Hannibal ad portas’.”
“And how so?”
“Hannibal is before our gates! That was the warning cry of the Romans back then.”
“Ay, how nicely you can recite that! Who has taught you this nonsense?”
“There’s no question of nonsense. We’ve learnt this in history class.”
“Ah so! And who was the good man who told you such nice stories?”
“Our history teacher of course.”
“A German then, from Plauen in Voigtland, a member of the nineteenth secularium?”
“This clever teacher of world history was no old Roman then?”
“Na [‘well’], there you have it, you heard it! Such a dimwit who still has the green walnut shells of the last decades tacked behind his ears wants to make you believe that he knows how the old Romans spoke! Portas! Thet isn’t a Roman-Irish word, and anyone who’s only halfway educated knows that it’s portiere [carriage door] instead of portas, and show me the old Roman who would have had the idea to shout that Hannibal was hanging around the portiere! No self-reshpecting old Roman would have been guilty of such nonsense. When Peter the Great fitted out his admiral, Hannibal, against the Romans, thet-a-one steamed speedily around the Cape of Good Hope, clambered over the Kjoelen Mountains from Norway to Sweden, where his camels dragged the canons along, then first dealt with the hordes of the Thessalonians and Colossians near Ligny, where Napoleon had his last victory, and then had the entire Roman empire at his feet. Although Emperor Herodotus sent his cavalry general Holofernes against him, said general was thoroughly roasted when he fell from the frypan into the coals not far from the Schipka pass in the Balkans so that he sang his Sicilian vesper out of mortal fear and died of his wounds during the Parisian night of Saint Bartholomew. Now there was only one remedy left for the old Romans: they had to make sure that Hannibal had no food supplies for his troops. Therefore they burned down Moscow behind them, ransacked the Pontine Marshes and then halted at Mount Ararat to await the effects of the destruction. But soon they recognized that they had been mistaken in Hannibal. He had been wily enough to provide for this eventuality as well and had taken along plenty of provishions so that there was no thinking about shtarvation. In contemplation of the winter cold he’d even ordered his general quartermaster Phidias to take along portable houses from corrugated tin, and American heaters; they were erected and some of them were used as living quarters, and others served as public bars and restaurants. Hannibal’s hordes lived happily and in pleasurable surroundings; but the Romans, when they heard this, knew they were done for and shouted in fear: ‘Hannibal ad boarding houses!’ The fact that the Roman ad is the Germanic hat or the English has is clear to anyone who hasn’t been christened by that Serbian-grammatical name of Timpe. Well then, now you know where you’re at, Herr Kasimir Obadja Timpe junior! And should I ever depart into the hereafter, please make sure I’m not interred next to your blessed teacher of history, because I’d reach over and shake him by his ears long enough until he reaches the enlightenment that portieres are no boarding houses by a long shot!”
Frank had spoken so fast in his comical fervour, that he had to take a deep breath. Kas and Has looked at one another completely agog; they didn’t know what to say, or whether they should laugh or cry; but luckily they noticed Aunt Droll’s desperate gestures meant for them to shut up, and they did. Their silence assuaged zealous Hobble somewhat and he continued in a more moderate tone of voice:
“I thought you would again dare to gainsay my words; but because your devoted silence proves to me that your menagerie is yielding to my higher wisdom, I don’t feel too disinclined to pardon you with the radiance of my fiat justitia, and only appeal to you with a deeply felt emotion to go deep within yourselves and to recognize that it ish no fun to be named Heliogabalus Morpheus, not counting Edeward and Franke. Now then, do penance in ash and a hairshirt and never again forget that there are incomparable intelligences and psychic powers on this planet that even those who own them cannot understand. No human ish born for no purpose, and one person’s advantage over another ish only an advantage when it ishn’t connected to any disadvantages to himself. Anyone can be human—but don’t ask me what sort of human—and then, being someone who is greatly endowed and an important human, thet ish something only someone can accomplish who can either say they’ve been to Arkadia or Moritzburg, or whose stamens are anchored in the Linnaean order of nomenclature. It was the will of creation that diversity shall rule; that’s why we’re all the same, and if someone is different he can’t change it, but if someone like me is lucky enough to occupy an excellent position within the philosophy of the distinguished, perhaps even attains first-row amphitheatre, number one, or at least first fiddle, centre-front row, closest to the curtains of immortality, he may in spite of all humbleness and pride separate from ante- and mid- worldliness to prove to the hereafter that in the first instance, it is part of the world regardless and that in the second instance, it will have to die also eventually! There is no rattling about of this wisdom; it is solidly built and unshakeable, it has even prompted Schiller, the famous poet of Uhland’s Leonore who sailed into her sunrise, to say in his Goetz von Berlichingen: ‘Die Vorwelt flicht der Nachwelt keene Kraenze, jedoch der Fruehling duftet schon im Lenze or, ‘history doesn’t praise posterity, but spring is in the air when thet time of the year comes ’round’!”
While that peculiar conversation was conducted in the hiding place below, Old Shatterhand and Winnetou had reached the peak of Corner Top.
[Being an early translation, explanations have been given next to the foreign language term, not in footnotes.]
Hobble-Frank and Aunty Droll’s Grand Entrance
Excerpt from: The Oil Baron
Fateful meeting at Forner’s Rancho …
Two riders came riding along the near bank of the river. They were well mounted. One could have confused them from afar with Old Shatterhand, the famous prairie hunter, and for Winnetou, the just as famous chief of the Apache—if their physiques had been of different shapes. But both were too short for that; one of them was rotund, and the other skinny.
The slender one wore leather leggings with fringes, a fringed leather hunting shirt, and long boots the shafts of which he had pulled up over his knees. On his head sat a felt hat with a very wide brim. The broad belt, which had been woven from a number of individual leather strips, held two revolvers and a bowie knife. He wore a lasso draped from his left shoulder to his right hip, and on a silken string around his neck an Indian peace pipe. Across his back he had slung two guns, a long one and a short one. Old Shatterhand used to dress just like it. The famous hunter also possessed two firearms: The feared Henry rifle, and the world-famous, long, heavy bear killer.
While the skinny, short man seemed to make every effort to deliver a likeness, or image, of Old Shatterhand, the other had gone to a lot of trouble to imitate Winnetou. He wore a white-tanned hunting shirt with Indian embroidery in red. The leggings were fashioned from the same material, and studded with hair along the seams; but it was doubtful that it was human scalp hair. His feet were clad in pearl-decorated moccasins, adorned with porcupine quills. He also carried a peace pipe on a string around his neck, and a leather sac, which was supposed to represent an Indian medicine pouch. The broad belt wound around his fat waist consisted of a Saltillo blanket. The grips of a knife and two revolvers peeked out from it. His head was uncovered; he had grown his hair long and tied it back in a tall chignon. Across his back he carried a double-barrelled gun the wooden parts of which were studded with silver nails—an imitation of the famous silver rifle belonging to the Apache chief Winnetou.
Someone who knew Old Shatterhand and Winnetou, and then spotted the two short men, would have been unable to fend off a smile when comparing the cleanly shaven, good-natured, and somewhat cheeky face of the skinny rider, to the cerebral, imperious features of Old Shatterhand; and the glowing-red, round cheeks, the guileless eyes, and friendly lips of the rotund fellow, to the serious, bronzed face of the Apache!
And yet the two men weren’t individuals who would have given anyone cause to laugh at them. Of course, they possessed certain conspicuous peculiarities, but they were men of honour, gentlemen through and through, and had looked many great and unusual dangers courageously and fearlessly into the eye. In short: The rotund fellow was the well-known Westerner Aunty Droll, and the slim one was his friend and cousin Hobble-Frank.
Their admiration of Old Shatterhand and Winnetou was so great that they dressed like them, which gave them a peculiar appearance, of course. Their outfits were new, and would have cost quite a bit of money; and they had not pinched pennies with regard to their horses, either.
The rancho was their destination, too, and they rode through the gate. When they entered the yard, they attracted a fair amount of attention, the reason being the contrast between their war-like equipment, and their good-natured appearance. They didn’t stand on ceremony, dismounted, gave short greetings, and then sat on two vacant rocks without asking whether or not that bothered anyone.
Forner scrutinized the two arrivals with curious gazes. He was an experienced man, and yet didn’t know what to make of them. The only means to get to the end was to pose questions; hence he enquired:
“Will the gentlemen perhaps wish to eat something?”
“Not now,” Droll replied.
“Later, in that case. How long do you intend to stay here?”
“That depends on the circumstances, if that’s necessary.”
“Are you referring to the local circumstances?”
“I can tell you that you are safe here with me.”
“In other places, too!”
“Do you think so? You probably don’t know yet that the Navajo have raised their war hatchets, do you?”
“We know it.”
“And that the Moqui and Nijora are also in a nervous uprising?”
“And yet you feel safe?”
“And why should we not feel safe, if that’s necessary?”
It is an entirely peculiar, and timeworn understanding that there rarely is a genuine Westerner who has not acquired a particular stock phrase. Sam Hawkens, for example, frequently said: “If I’m not mistaken.” Aunty Droll had adopted the habit of saying: “If that’s necessary.” Often, the phrases were used during occasions in which they seemed utterly ridiculous, and probably also expressed the opposite of what the man had wanted to say. That was the case there, too. That’s why Forner looked at the rotund fellow with some astonishment, but nevertheless continued in all seriousness:
“Do you know these tribes, sir?”
“That does not suffice. One has to be friends with them, and even then it may be possible that one loses one’s scalp if they have decided to wage war on the Whites. If your route leads north, perchance, I’d advice against continuing; things are definitely not trustworthy up there. You seem to be equipped well, but I can see from your outfits that you’re fresh from the East, and that your faces aren’t those of unafraid Westerners.”
“So! That’s very honest. You therefore judge the people by their faces, if that’s necessary?”
“You ought to get out of that habit as soon as you can. One shoots with the gun, and stabs with the knife, but not with one’s face, remember that! Someone can easily have very warlike and fierce features, and yet be a coward.”
“I won’t argue against that; but you, hm. May I perhaps learn what you do, gentlemen?”
“I don’t see why not!”
“Alright; tell me, please!”
“We are…well, we are actually what you would call, men of private means, or gentlemen of leisure.”
“Oh, my! In that case you’ve come west for your pleasure?”
“Of course, we haven’t done so for a heartache!”
“If that’s so, sir, then you ought to immediately turn around; otherwise, you’ll be extinguished here like one blows out a candle. From what you say, I can glean that you have no idea about the dangers that await you in this region, Mr…Mr…what was your name?”
Droll calmly reached into his pocket, pulled out a calling card, and handed it to Forner. The ranchero made a great effort to keep a straight face, and read out aloud:
“Sebastian Melchior Pampel.”
Hobble-Frank had also reached into his pocket to hand a card to him. Forner read:
“Heliogabalus Morpheus Edeward Franke.”
He paused for a moment, and then erupted in laughter:
“But, gents, what peculiar names are they, and what peculiar men are you? Do you perhaps think that the rebellious Indians will run away from your names? I tell you that…”
Rollins, the banker, interrupted him:
“Please, Mr Forner don’t say anything that could insult these gentlemen. Although I don’t have the honour of being personally acquainted with them, I nevertheless know that you must respect them.”
Then, he turned to Hobble-Frank, and continued:
“Sir, your name is so unusual that I committed it to my memory. I am banker Rollins from Brownsville in Arkansas. Was there not a sizeable amount of money deposited in my bank on your behalf?”
“Yes, sir, that’s correct,” Frank nodded. “I entrusted it to a good friend, who was tasked with depositing it with you, because Old Shatterhand described you as trustworthy. Later, I was unable to withdraw it in person, and so I had it sent to New York for me.”
“That’s correct, that’s correct!” Rollins zealously interjected. “Old Shatterhand, yes, yes! At that time you found a large mass of gold up there near Fillmore City, at Silver-Lake, I believe. Isn’t it so, sir?”
“Yes,” Frank merrily laughed. “It was a few thimbles full.”
At that point, Forner jumped off his seat, and exclaimed:
“Thunderstorm! Is that true? Is this possible? You were up there at Silver-Lake?”
“Certainly. And my cousin here was there as well.”
“Truly? The newspapers were full of the extraordinary story. The famous fellows, Old Firehand, Old Shatterhand, and Winnetou were part of it. Then there was Fat Jemmy, Long Davy, Hobble-Frank, and Aunty Droll! In that case you know those men, sir?”
“Of course, I know them. Here sits Aunty Droll, right next to me, if you kindly permit it.”
Frank pointed at his companion, and Droll pointed at him, and explained:
“And here you have our Hobble-Frank, if that’s necessary. Do you still think we’re men who do not know the West yet?”
“Unbelievable, really unbelievable! But that cannot be! Aunty Droll has never been seen wearing anything else than a very peculiar outfit, and everyone always thought she was a lady. And Hobble-Frank wears a blue tailcoat with shiny buttons, and on his head a large feather hat!”
“Must it always be so? Aren’t we permitted to dress any other way? Do you think that a suit is indestructible, and that it can be worn for centuries in the Wild West? As the friends of Old Shatterhand and Winnetou, we now like to dress like those two men. If you don’t believe us, then that’s your problem; we have no objections.”
This novel, The Oil Baron, represents the final of my Winnetou translations, stories that were originally written by Karl May between 1875 and 1910; in it, Sam Hawkens and his two friends, Dick Stone and Will Parker make the first chapter their own.
Excerpt from: The Oil Baron
All of a sudden, the noise in front of the liquor hut abated, and everyone gazed at three new arrivals. The exterior of the men justified the perplexed looks of anyone who saw them for the first time. They stopped their animals, jumped out of the saddles, and then headed for one of the empty tables, without paying attention to the company already present, so it seemed.
The one at the front was a short, and fairly stout fellow. Beneath the melancholy drooping brim of a felt hat, the colour, age and shape of which would have caused a headache to the most astute thinker, a nose that could have served a sun dial as its gnomon peeked out from a forest of messy, black-grey beard hair. Because of the mighty beard, and the over-endowed olfactory organ, only the two small, smart eyes were noticeable of the other facial parts. They seemed to have an extraordinary talent for agility, and seemed to inspect the ‘poison hut’ of the Irishman with mischievous astuteness, while the hidden glance was actually meant for the twelve Finders.
His head rested on a body that was invisible down to his knees, because it was cloaked in an old buckskin coat, which had evidently been made for a significantly taller person. The piece had been mended countless times; it consisted of patch upon patch and splotch upon splotch and gave the short man the appearance of a child that had donned his grandfather’s housecoat just for fun. From below the more than ample wrap, two thin, bowed legs in fringed leggings peeked out. The latter were so old that the wearer had no doubt out-grown them decades earlier; they permitted a good look at a pair of Indian boots so large that their wearer could also find room in one of them if need be. His feet were of a dimension that in Germany would elicit the expression: ‘Over the Rhine bridge in five paces.’ In his hand the man held a shooting iron that looked like an old cudgel cut in the forest. The weapons that would be seated in his belt were not visible, because the hunting coat covered them.
And his horse? It was a mule, but evidently old enough for its parents to have lived just after the biblical deluge. The long ears, which it rotated like wind mill blades, were bald; the mane had long since gone; the tail consisted of a naked stump where a few bored strands of hair kept each other company. And the animal was frightfully scrawny. However, its eyes were as bright as those of a young filly, and of a lively expression that would have demanded respect from an expert.
The short fellow’s two companions, who followed him to the table, were no less originals. One of them held his endlessly long, terribly skinny, desiccated body in a stooped posture, so that it seemed there was no other perspective for him than that of his two feet, which were appended to two legs the length of which could shock anyone who looked at them. Over his robust boots he had strapped a couple of leather gaiters that also covered a good part of his thighs; a tight jacket, held together by a wide belt, clothed his body. A knife, as well as a revolver and diverse other necessities were placed in the belt, or suspended from it. A woollen blanket, the threads of which were permitted to unravel in all directions, hung from his shoulders, and on his short-cropped hair sat an item that was neither cloth, nor cap, nor hat—it was impossible to describe. Over one of his shoulders sat the strap of an old, long rifle, which from afar looked like a waterskin attached to a stick.
The third of the men was just as tall and skinny as the stooped one; he had wound a large, dark piece of fabric around his head, like a turban, and across his shoulders had draped a red hussar jacket that somehow had found its way into the Far West. He wore long linen trousers and Wellington boots with huge spurs. Two revolvers, and a knife made from the best Kingfield steel were sitting in his belt; his gun was a double-barrelled Kentucky rifle of the type that never misfires, and never misses a target in the hands of its owner. The man’s conspicuous mouth was the one peculiarity in his physiognomy. The two corners seemed to have a particular fondness for his earlobes, and were approaching them in a most friendly manner. At the same time, his face displayed an expression of honest loyalty; the man was definitely without falsehood.
The short man’s two companions were riding horses, which had obviously experienced many trials and tribulations, yet looked as though they would be able to weather much more adversity in the future.
How to Make it Rain in the Desert
Excerpt from: Winnetou III
Old Shatterhand and Sans-Ear are following a trail into the desert, the deadly Llano Estacado; things are getting desperate, as they have run out of water, and are near perishing … they encounter an expansive cactus field.
Naturally, the trail I followed didn’t lead into the dangerous vegetation; it lead around it and I followed it, but not for long because, suddenly, I had an idea that filled me with renewed energy.
When the heat in Florida’s low-lying areas increased so much that it turned the ground to ‘liquid lead’ and the sky to ‘glowing ore’ without the smallest cloud in sight, the people suffering from the heat would set alight the dry reeds and any other dead shrubbery and wouldn’t you know it, the rain came. I had witnessed it twice and someone who was reasonably familiar with the laws, powers and phenomena of nature could certainly explain the process without the need for a scientific elaboration.
That’s what came to my mind at that moment; as soon as I thought about it I knelt next to the plants to carve enough kindling from their fibres. A few minutes later a lively fire licked into the air that expanded, slowly at first but increasingly faster until I stood in front of a raging inferno that seemed to have no boundaries.
I had experienced several prairie fires already, but none had travelled across the ground with such thundering roar like the cactus hell where every single plant exploded like a loaded gun upon firing so that it sounded like an entire army was engaged in combat. The blaze climbed into the sky and above it hovered an ocean of glowing steam, pierced by cactus splinters that were catapulted upwards by the heat like arrows. The ground beneath my feet shook and the air reverberated from the dull roar of what sounded like a battle.
That was the best help—at least for now—that I could give Bernard Marshall and his friends. I turned back, unperturbed about whether or not I would be able to find their tracks later. The hope strengthened me so much that I wouldn’t have required half an hour to get back to the others, but it wasn’t necessary, because Sam and Bob had followed me with the horses, which managed to drag themselves along a bit farther.
“Blimey, Charley, what’s happening up ahead? First I thought there was an earthquake, but now f’r instance I believe that the sand has ignited.”
“Not the sand, Sam but the plentiful cactus over yonder.”
“How did it catch alight? I don’t believe it would have been you who did it.”
“Truly, it was you! But…what for?”
“To get rain.”
“Rain? Don’t mind me saying so, Charley, but I do believe that you’ve gone a little crazy just to pass the time!”
“Don’t you know that many natives consider crazy people to be very smart?”
“I hope you don’t claim to have done something very smart! The heat has doubled compared to before the fire.”
“The heat increased and static electricity will develop accordingly.”
“Stay away from me with your electricity f’r instance! I can’t eat it; I can’t drink it: I don’t even know what sort of strange creature it’s supposed to be.”
“You’ll soon hear it because in a short while we’ll have the nicest thunderstorm.”
“Get off it! Poor Charley, you’ve really snapped!”
He looked at me with such concern that I realized he wasn’t joking. I pointed into the sky.
“Can’t you see the vapour clouds that are already forming?”
“Tarnation, Charley, in the end you’re not as crazy as I thought!”
“They’ll form a cloud that has to discharge quite violently.”
“Charley, if this really is so, then I’m an ass and you’re the smartest fellow in the United States and beyond.”
“It’s not that bad, Sam. I’ve seen it done in Florida and have simply imitated it here because I thought that a handful of rain wouldn’t do any harm. See, there’s the cloud already! As soon as the cactus has burned down it’ll happen. And if you don’t want to believe it, then have a look at your Tony, how she flaps her tail stump and flares her nostrils! Even my mustang can smell rain already; it won’t extend much past the cactus expanse. Let’s move so that we can catch it!”
Although we were running, we could have just as well climbed onto our animals because they were as lively as their reserves permitted, and urged forward. They instinctively sensed the refreshing water.
My prophecy came true. Half an hour later, the small cloud had expanded so much that the entire sky above us and up to the horizon appeared black; then it broke loose, not gradually like it did in temperate zones but suddenly, as if the clouds consisted of solid vessels that had been toppled over and their contents spilt out. It felt as if twenty fists were drumming around on our shoulders and within a minute we were so drenched as if we had swum across a river in our clothes. The two horses first stood quietly and endured the flood with joyful snorting; but once they had been drinking their fill from the liquid in the many toppled and hollowed cactus trunks they began to cut capers; soon we noticed that they had regained their strength almost completely. We felt extremely comfortable, opened our blankets to catch the precious liquid, drank plenty of it and filled our waterbags.
How the Runaways Got Into Trouble
Excerpt from: The Bear Hunter’s Son
Hobble-Frank, Fat Jemmy and Long Davy, Martin Bauman and his Mandan friend Wohkadeh take matters into their own hands, and sneak out of camp at night, against Old Shatterhand’s advice. They travel through the ancient landscape of Yellowstone, towards the region with the geysers ..
The volcanic river banks rise torn and jagged, washed by the rain, and form shapes no amount of fantasy could create. The onlooker believes that he sees the ruins of an old fortress. He is able to see the empty window openings, the turret, and the spot where the drawbridge once spanned the moat. Not far from it rise slim minarets. One imagines the muezzin would step out onto the platform at any moment, and call the believers to prayer. Opposite, a Roman amphitheatre opens up in which Christian slaves had once been fighting wild animals. Next to it, a Chinese pagoda rises freely and daringly into the air, and further down the river stands a thirty or forty metres tall animal figure, massive and indestructible, as if it had been built to the gods of a prehistoric culture.
Yet all of that is but deception. The volcanic eruptions furnished the mass that the water sculpted into figures. And someone who gazes upon the products of such elemental powers feels like a microscopic worm in the dust, and has forgotten all pride that hitherto possessed him.
Jemmy, Davy and Martin Baumann fared no better when they followed the course of the river in the morning. They didn’t tire of voicing their admiration. It was impossible to say what Wohkadeh was feeling and thinking; he didn’t comment.
Of course, good old Hobble-Frank used the opportunity to let his scientific light shine; but he found no willing listener in Jemmy that day, because his fat friend had concentrated all of his senses into his eyes, and in the end, he gave the limping Saxon short shrift with an angry request to shut up.
“Very well then!” the erstwhile forestry warden replied. “Wat good does gazing at these wonders do to humanity if it refuses to have them explained? The great poet Gellert is quite correct when he says: ‘Wat’s nutmeg to a cow?’ I will therefore also keep my nutmeg and my pearls to myself. One might have been through high school, yet undershtands nothing about the Yellowstone. I, however, will wash my hands of it henceforth. At least I know where I shtand!”
Where the river described a fairly wide bend west, numerous hot springs emerged that combined their waters to a sizeable rivulet, which emptied into the Yellowstone. It seemed as though the riders were no longer able to move along the banks of the latter from there on, and thus the five men turned left, to follow the hot rivulet.
There was no tree or bush. All vegetation had died. The hot liquid looked dirty, and smelt like rotten eggs. It was barely tolerable. The situation didn’t improve until the riders reached elevated ground after an arduous ride of several hours. Up there was clear, fresh water; soon, bushes came into view, and trees a little later on.
There was no real path, of course. The horses often needed to work their way across long stretches covered with boulders that looked as if a mountain had crashed from the sky, and broke into a mess of small pieces.
The rubble oftentimes attained wondrous shapes, and the five riders stopped occasionally to exchange their opinions about them. Time passed over that, and it was already noon when they had covered about half of their way.
At that point the riders saw a fairly large house in the distance. It seemed to have been built in the style of an old Italian villa, framed by a garden, and surrounded by a tall rock wall. They stopped in astonishment.
“A residence, here, on the Yellowstone! That’s impossible!” Jemmy said.
“Why would dat be impossible?” Frank replied. “If there is a hostis on the Saint Bernard pass, then someone might just have built one here, too. Dat possibility exists everywhere.”
“That’s hospice, not hostis,” Jemmy said.
“Are you getting started on me again? You didn’t want to profit from my knowledge before, and now you ought not peddle your dubious wisdom on me, either! Have you ever been on the Saint Bernhard pass?”
“Then be quietly silent! Only those who dwell up there can talk about dat. But, have a closer look at the house! Isn’t there someone standing right there in front of the gate?”
“Indeed. At least it seemed that way. He’s gone now. It might have been only a shadow.”
“So? You’re once again embarrassing yourself with your optical allusions. Where there is a human shadow, there must also be a human who threw dat shadow. Dat would be the famous theory of Pythagoras’s hypothesis on the two triangles. And if the shadow is gone, then either the sun or the one who threw the shadow has vanished. The sun is still here, therefore the fellow’s gone. We will soon find out where to.”
They hastily approached the building, and of course noticed that it hadn’t been built by human hands, and that it was instead a work of nature. What they had seen as walls, turned out to be white feldspar. Several gaps could easily be mistaken for the openings of windows from a distance. There was even a broad, tall gate opening. When the men looked through it, they saw a kind of large courtyard, which had been divided into spaces of varying sizes by natural rock formations. A spring bubbled up from the Earth in the middle of the yard, and sent its clear, cool water straight out of the gate.
“Wonderful!” Jemmy exclaimed. “This place is mightily suited for a midday rest. Shall we go inside?”
“I’m all for it,” Frank replied. “But we don’t know yet whether the fellow who lives in there is perhaps an evil person.”
“Pshaw! We were mistaken; there’s no one about. But I shall do some unnecessary reconnoitring.”
He slowly rode through the gate, holding his gun ready to shoot, and looked around the yard. Then he turned around to the others and gave them a wave.
“Come inside! There’s not a single soul here.”
“I would hope so,” Frank said. “I’m not fond of dealing with departed souls who maintain a spectral existence on Earth.”
Davy, Martin and Frank obeyed Jemmy’s invitation. But Wohkadeh maintained his cautious reluctance and stayed outside.
“Why is my red brother not coming?” the son of the bear hunter asked.
The Indian pensively sucked the air through his nose and replied:
“Can my brothers not notice that it very much smells of horses here?”
“Of course there must be a horse smell. We’ve brought ours here.”
“The smell came out of the gate when we stopped outside.”
“There is neither a man nor a beast to see here, and not even a trace of either.”
“Because the ground is made from solid rock. My brothers must be careful.”
“There is no reason for any concern,” Jemmy explained. “Come, let’s have a look around further back as well.”
Instead of letting him do that on his own, and thus keeping their retreat open, they were following him to the furthest rock niche, riding in a tight bunch.
And suddenly, an unexpected chorus of howls erupted as if the Earth were quaking. A very significant number of Indians broke out of the background, and in no time at all, the four careless men were surrounded.
Old Shatterhand’s Romance with Martha Vogel
‘Old Shatterhand at Home’ was a section that had been cut from May’s multi-volume ‘Satan und Jsharioth’ before it was published for the first time in the 1890s. Copyright prevents translation of that part in full, however, a short synopsis of it has been included where May once placed it—in the middle of the Satan & Jsharioth tale, translated as The Travels of Winnetou & Shatterhand.
In it, the adventurer, Old Shatterhand, tells of a visit ‘back home’ in his native Germany, and of a romance with a young woman called Martha Vogel. He met her when she was still a young girl, and meets her again several times, in effect watching her grow up; in the end, Old Shatterhand realizes that he had fallen in love with Martha.
As the story, in which the one-sided romance is embedded, develops through May’s quill, so the relationship between Shatterhand and Martha develops; but love remains unrequited, with dire consequences. Martha Vogel gains employment in the printing rooms of the publishing house, where Shatterhand is holding a temporary post as the publisher’s editor, and she finds lodging with the head printer. Thus they cross paths almost daily, whereupon he does his best to ignore her, yet secretly watches her. He observes how she matures and physically develops day by day, and that the continuous stretching and bending on the printing machine allows her youthful figure to stand out. During a short conversation that ensued when a coincidental meeting was unavoidable, Martha confides that she wishes to be where he is, since she is unable to have accommodation where her brother, Franz [a student of music], lives; the adolescent would-be virtuosos at the music school, where the girl had been residing initially, had been showering her with all manner of possible and impossible gallantries. Shatterhand is moved by the girl’s gratitude towards him for the benevolence he had shown her family. He seems unaware of Martha’s actual feelings towards him, and also doesn’t seem to correctly read the meaning behind the small daily gestures of attention, like a freshly picked posy of flowers in his rooms.
After several months, a new editor is found, and Old Shatterhand departs for Brazil; Martha Vogel remains in her employment with the publisher in Dresden, especially since she knows that the rooms Shatterhand had occupied will be kept vacant for him until his next return to Germany from one of his overseas adventures. The night before his departure he spends the entire time preparing, writing letters, and packing until the early hours of the morning, when he reclines on the sofa in his lounge. He falls asleep and dreams of someone gently stroking his hair, and of two lips kissing his. He prefers to dream on, and doesn’t open his eyes. The dream is interrupted by the noise of a freight wagon, and he rises to find a fresh bunch of field flowers on the table. He realizes the posy is from Martha, because she knows his love for wild flowers. But the hand that had caressed his head…and then the kiss? Had that merely been a dream? Nonsense! Such a young, beautiful creature would not kiss an utterly unpoetic prairie runner and ‘linguist’ in his sleep! He dismisses his thoughts as a silly dream.
Old Shatterhand departs and travels in South America for a year or so. Upon his return, he realizes that Martha had waited for him all this time…but because of his reluctance to enter a relationship, he loses Martha to someone not deserving of her…
As he had promised, Konrad Werner [a wealthy oil baron] visits him, and informs him that his mother had long since died of alcoholism. It is inevitable that Werner will see Martha, which happens during a concert where the young singer makes her debut, and enthrals the audience with her mezzo-soprano voice [Martha had taken up singing in the meantime]. The oil baron, too, is smitten by Martha’s appearance and he declares emphatically that he will take the girl to America—as his wife. Old Shatterhand enters into an argument with Werner and realizes that he is experiencing jealousy. When he voices his objections to Werner’s intentions, the man retorts by pointing out that Old Shatterhand belongs in the Prairie, the Rocky Mountains, in the cave of the grey bear, but not at the side of a beautiful, young, delicate, lovely bride; that he would not fit into a marriage, and soon leave his wife to again disappear in the wilderness together with Winnetou. The director of music joins the two men, interrupting their exchange of words. When they leave after the concert, Shatterhand finds Konrad Werner waiting for the girl outside the hotel, where the recital took place. He informs the wealthy young man that the building has a second exit, and he does so with rising, heart-felt glee.
For once, Old Shatterhand’s equanimity is shaken. He feels inner turmoil and takes a walk to calm himself; he wanders out of town, unable to later say what paths he took through the outlying meadows, and towards the forest, where the darkness promises some inner clarity. He makes an effort to look deep inside himself, but is unable to see through the chaos that exists there. Friendship, fondness, mere interest, love, mistrust, envy, jealousy, hurt pride, pity, delight, the scabiosa in the hair of the singer, Old Shatterhand, the girl on the step of the printing machine, the cave of the grey bear where he’s supposed to belong, the secret kiss before his departure to Brazil, the oil baron, his millions, Shatterhand’s usually empty money pouch, and much more. He continues to agonize: “Does she love me? I cannot believe it. Me, the bear! Do I love her? That is, indeed, a difficult question…!” Does Cupid have two kinds of arrows? Those that he shoots suddenly, and those with which he sneaks up secretly, slowly, in order to drill them into one’s heart bit by bit? By the time the day dawns, Shatterhand realizes that he has not been able to resolve his emotional confusion, and he returns to his apartment to find a few hours of sleep after all.
Later in the morning, Martha comes to clean his rooms. She hands him a card that she has found folded up in the slot of the door lock. It is that of Konrad Werner, the oil baron. Old Shatterhand at this point still thinks that Martha does not know who that man is. The girl seems embarrassed, insecure, and when Shatterhand makes a remark about her giving up the demanding job on the printing machine, the girl replies, with a look up at him from under her eyelashes, that she will not do that, because she has developed a love for the apparatus. And when Shatterhand reminds her that her new career as a singer will be very demanding, she informs him that she didn’t intend to pursue it, that she would never sing in public again, and that the performance the night before would remain her only one. Old Shatterhand is perplexed and asks why she underwent tuition, and why she now wants to bury her treasures; the young woman simply replies that she would continue to sing, but not in public, not in concerts, or on stage, but at home.
“At home…!” is all Shatterhand can think of saying.
Again, his mind is reeling with the chaos and confusion of the night before. He almost pulls her into an embrace…but Old Shatterhand belongs in the prairie, in the Rocky Mountains, in the bear cave, not at the side of a young, delicate, beautiful woman! He catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror, and sees a serious, sunburnt face, the face of a man who has never received a friendly smile from life. And in front of him stands happiness in its most beautiful, youthful figure. “Would it not be a sin, a grave sin to chain her youth and beauty to a life that might not ever grant me peace? Yes, certainly!” he agonizes inwardly, and loudly repeats: “At home, ah, only at home?”
The conversation ends with his enquiry about the morning before his departure to Brazil, when he slept on the sofa, which causes her to flee his apartment with the exclamation of panic: “No, no, not that, anything but that!”
Old Shatterhand is thrown into even deeper self-doubt. Could the adventurer be capable, after all, of treating more delicate creatures correctly, and not only fit into a bear’s cave? Despite the severe thunderstorm that is breaking over Dresden, the hunter dons the raincoat and leaves the house. On his way out, the chief printer asks him whether he has received Mr Werner’s card. Shatterhand is surprised that the man knows of it, and receives an even bigger jolt when he is told that the oil baron, who was about to call on Shatterhand to invite him to an event in the evening, caught a glimpse into the printing room where Martha was working. That, of course, is what Old Shatterhand wanted to prevent at all cost, but he is powerless now to stave off Werner’s advances on Martha—and worst of all, he realizes that Martha had kept from him the fact that she had met the man, spoken to him, and accepted his invitation for an evening out.
Distraught, he walks through the storm until he realizes that the raincoat is scant protection from the deluge; he seeks refuge in a grove of linden trees and stands under one of them, which is against all common sense during an electrical storm. Sure enough, the bolts of lightning seem to aim for his tree and Shatterhand hastily moves to another. He muses about the absurdity of his reaction, since it is impossible to accurately determine the direction of lightning; however, not a moment after he moves away from the particular tree, lightning does indeed strike it. Amid a deafening detonation and a blinding sheaf of lightning, the tree is smashed asunder; had Shatterhand remained under it, he would have been killed. Shaken to the core, he makes his way home, finding unexpected calm along the way, and is able to put into perspective his insignificant chagrin about a matter of the heart, compared to the will of God!
In the evening, he attends the event and finds Konrad Werner and Martha Vogel already present. As the evening develops, the once-friendly relationship between Shatterhand and the oil baron cools rapidly, and the hunter makes the experience that unrequited love might prompt a woman to make an unhappy decision. And when he declines Martha’s last-resort attempt at getting his attention, an invitation to the ladies waltz, the consequences will become evident very soon; Old Shatterhand himself foreshadows it when he says to the chief printer that he will not see the girl at the printing machine the next day. Two days later, the man confirms Shatterhand’s suspicions when he says:
“[…] you seem to have guessed correctly.”
“About Miss Martha and the American.”
He would find out soon.