Nsho-Chi and the Greenhorn (cont’d)

Nsho-Chi and the Greenhorn

Written in 1893 – setting: Apache pueblo, scene: Rattler is about to be executed. The greenhorn (Old Shatterhand) asks Nsho-Chi about Rattler. Modern versions, including translations, differ from May’s own version.

Excerpt from: Winnetou I, Lulu.com



“They skin them alive (eels); they pull out the intestines from them while they are still alive (crabs) and then immerse them in the boiling water. And do you know what the medicine men of the Whites do?”

“What do you mean?”

“They throw live dogs in boiling water to find out how long they can survive and then pull the cooked skin off. They cut out the eyes, the tongue; they cut them open; they torture them in many more ways, just so they can write books about it.”

“That is vivisection and happens for the benefit of science.”

“Science! Klekih-Petra was also my teacher; that is why I know what you mean with this word. What does your Manitou have to say about a science that cannot learn anything without torturing His creatures to death! And such tortures are carried out by your medicine men in their houses, where the squaws also live and have to watch it! Or don’t they hear the screams of pain from the poor animals? Don’t your squaws have birds in cages in their houses? Don’t they know what torture that is for a bird? Don’t your squaws sit and watch by the thousands when horses are raced and die as a result? Aren’t squaws among the spectators when boxers beat each other to a pulp? I am a young, inexperienced girl and am counted among the savages by you; but I could tell you even more things your delicate squaws do without feeling the shudder that I would. Count the many thousands of delicate, beautiful, white women who have tortured their slaves to death and watched with a smile on their face when a black servant was whipped until he died! And here we have a criminal, a murderer. He must die as he deserves it. I want to be present and you condemn this! Is it really so wrong of me that I am capable of quietly watching such a person die? And if it is an injustice, who is responsible that the Red Indian eyes have become accustomed to such things? Isn’t it the cruelty of the Whites that forces us to retaliate with harshness?”

“I don’t believe that a white judge would sentence an imprisoned Indian to death by torture at the stake.”

“Judge! Don’t be angry with me if I use the term that I have heard from Hawkens so often: greenhorn! You don’t know the West. Where is a judge, to be precise, that which you refer to with this word? The strong is the judge, the weak will be sentenced. Let me tell you what has happened around the campfires of the Whites! Did the countless Indians who perished in the fight against the white intruders all die a quick death by bullet or knife? So many were tortured to death! And yet they didn’t do anything except defend their rights! And now that a murderer is to die here, one who has deserved his punishment, I should avert my eyes because I am a squaw, a girl? Yes, we were different once; but you have taught us to watch blood flow without so much as batting an eye. I will be there when Klekih-Petra’s murderer receives his punishment!”

The beautiful, young Indian woman whom I knew as a gentle, calm being, stood before me with eyes flashing and cheeks glowing—the living image of an avenging goddess who knew no mercy. She seemed even more beautiful than before. Could I judge her? Was she mistaken?

“Then go,” I said, “but I’ll go to.”

“Better stay here!” she warned, speaking in an entirely different tone of voice again. “Inshu-Chuna and Winnetou won’t like it if you come, too.”

“Will they be angry with me?”

“No. It is against their wishes but they won’t forbid it; you are our brother.”

“Then I’ll accompany you and they’ll forgive me.”

More: WinnetouI, Lulu.com