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.]