The Rose of Shiraz

The Rose of Shiraz

(Written as the initial ending to Winnetou III, rejected, and later used as the introduction to the ‘Silver-Lion’ epos).

Several key characters in this tale are Karl May’s vehicle to confirm the ‘Old Shatterhand Legend’, and merge both, the Old Shatterhand and the Kara ben Nemsi persona, into one.

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Excerpt from: SavageTo Saint: The Karl May Story, Lulu.com

Most of my readers know Winnetou, the chief of the Apache, the noblest Indian, the best and most precious friend I had; they also know that he died and how he died. He received a bullet in the chest in the crater of Hancock Mountain and a short while later died in my arms. We had taken his body to the Gros Ventre Mountains and buried it there in the valley of the Metsur River. I was left with the sad duty to ride south and notify the Apache that their most respected and admired leader was no longer among the living.

It was a ride that I would rather strike from my memory if I could. I was so deeply shaken by Winnetou’s death, to the core of my being, that my personality changed considerably as a consequence. Usually always cheerful and full of self-confidence, I had become unable to smile and seemed to have lost all will to live. I wanted to be by myself and avoided human contact and when I needed to visit a fort or a settlement during my lonely and long ride, I did it in the quickest manner possible, and left as fast as I could.

Of course, I can’t say that the conduct of the people in those places towards me would have enticed me to stay longer than intended. Oh, no, on the contrary, they paid so little attention to me it seemed as if I were nonexistent and upon leaving I never heard a farewell. The reason for that was my external appearance.

Winnetou and I had gone to Hancock Mountain to rescue a bunch of settlers, with whom we had made acquaintance earlier, from the Ogallala Sioux. We were successful but paid with Winnetou’s death. After we had buried him some of the white settlers decided to stay in the valley of the Metsur River and build a settlement there. I helped them and so it happened that my ride to the Apache was delayed.

During that time, my hunting outfit became defective to such a degree that I was forced to replace it with another suit; but since there were no clothing stores in the Wild West I had to be content with the homemade garments that one of the settlers offered me. It was of the sort that was worn by country folk, made from blue linen. It was homespun and -woven and also cut to size and stitched together by the settlers. There was no tailoring to speak of, the trouser resembled a double pipe, the vest looked like a small bag without and the coat like a large bag with sleeves. Because the habit had been destined for a wearer of a different figure, my appearance wasn’t exactly admirable. I looked nothing like a frontiersman, and since I had become increasingly uncommunicative it was only natural that I didn’t arouse the attention that Old Shatterhand ordinarily would have.

After about two weeks I neared the North Canadian River. I rode across a broad and level prairie where stands of trees and shrubs grew like islands. That was of particular concern as they obstructed the view; caution was called for because of the possibility of a sudden hostile encounter but especially since rumors had been circulating that alarming unrest had broken out among the Comanche whose hunting grounds extended to that area.

It was around midday when I reached a creek and the fresh, clear water invited me to take a rest. I chose a spot from where I had a good view in all directions and could see anyone approaching from afar, dismounted, let my horse free to graze, drank my fill and then stretched out in the shade of a tree but so that I could keep an eye on the surrounding landscape.

After about a quarter of an hour I noticed two riders who seemed to head directly for the spot where I was lying. They were Whites; I remained on the ground and unconcerned. They came from the same direction I had come from; yes, they followed my trail and I noticed that it had their undivided attention. They had found my tracks and wanted to know who was ahead of them.

They rode mules and were dressed alike. When they came closer I noticed that the similarity extended to their figures and their faces. Anyone who saw them would have had to take them for brothers, twins even.

They were tall, exceptionally lean figures and it was tempting to think that they had suffered long periods of deprivation. But that wasn’t so and their healthy skin color and robust bearing in the saddle evidenced it. The similarity between them was so significant, especially since they were also identically armed, that it seemed only possible to distinguish them on account of a scar across the cheek of one of them.

They weren’t endowed with great male beauty because, and unfortunately, the most prominent part of their faces had developed in a quite unusual manner. They had noses, but what sort of noses! A wager on their noses—that there was no other nose like theirs in the entire United States—would most assuredly be the winning bet. And not just the size alone but also the shape was just as extraordinary and so was the color. Noses such as those couldn’t be described; they had to be seen to be believed. And astonishingly, they also resembled one another to such an extent that they could have been exchanged between faces without effecting a change to the overall expression. The men couldn’t be called ugly despite their noses; on the contrary, there was an expression of appealing benevolence on their distinct features; a bright, carefree smile had permanently nestled in the corners of their mouths and their bright, keen eyes gazed into the world with such friendliness that nobody would have had cause for mistrust.

They were dressed in very comfortable, dark-grey woolen shirts and trousers, wore lace-up boots on their feet, broad-brimmed beaver hats on their heads and had a couple of large blankets draped over their shoulders like raincoats. There were knives and revolvers in their leather belts and in addition they each carried a long-range rifle.

It was all very confusing. If they hid behind a bush and only one reappeared, it would have been impossible to tell them apart without the scar. And to add to the confusion, they both rode mules that were also identical in color, size, shape and gait.

I had never seen those two men before but had heard of them and therefore knew who they were; it was impossible to make a mistake in that regard. They were inseparable; nobody had ever seen one without the other; their real names were unknown; they were known only as The Two Snuffles, because of their noses, of course. Jim Snuffle was the one with the scar; the other was Tim Snuffle. Obviously, even their first names were similar. And as if that hadn’t been enough their mules had similar-sounding names; Jim’s was called Polly, Tim’s Molly.

(A digression to the Snuffles of ‘The Phantom of Llano Estacado‘, as a comparison, and as a brief look at how May worked, in the next post).

More: Savage To Saint: The Karl May Story, Lulu.com

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