Winnetou visits Old Shatterhand at home
When at home, in Germany, Old Shatterhand customarily meets with other musical gentlemen to exercise their vocal cords, meaning, they meat to sing German songs, and usually do so in their local inn.
We met one Saturday evening to discuss a benefits concert; the barman came to our room and informed me:
“There are two gentlemen who wish to speak to you.”
“Who is it?”
“I don’t know them. One of them is a young and very decent gentleman, but the other a very peculiar, dark-skinned person. He doesn’t speak, doesn’t take off his hat, and the gaze from his eyes makes one feel altogether creepy.”
“Sharlih!” The shout resounded through the open door.
I quickly jumped up. ‘Sharlih’ was the way in which Winnetou used to pronounce my given name. And there he stood in the open doorway—Winnetou, the famous chief of the Apache in Dresden! And what a figure the mighty warrior cut! A pair of dark trousers, a shirt of the same fabric with a belt tied over it, a short coat; a strong walking stick in his hand and a tall top hat on his head, which he hadn’t taken off! The recounting of the incident is made in a simple, brief manner, but I hardly need to emphasize that my surprise, my astonishment, to see him in that establishment, was at least as big as my delight.
I rushed up to him; he hurried towards me just as quickly; we met halfway and fell into each other’s arms. We kissed repeatedly, looked at each other in between, and finally broke into heartfelt laughter, something that had never before happened to the Apache. The picture that his Shatterhand presented was oh-so-tame and the bravest warrior of the Apache appeared so peaceful and droll that one would have required the spell-making magic of a wizard to avoid laughing out aloud.
He hadn’t waited for the barman to fetch him, and had instead followed him. Then, the young gentleman in his company entered, he was none other than Franz Vogel, the former pupil of my friend in Dresden, the director of music.
The members of the singing group all knew the Apache from my stories. What a commotion when I introduced him! They didn’t want to believe it at first. They couldn’t imagine him any other way than dressed in his leather garb, holding his famous silver rifle. I had guessed the reason why he hadn’t taken off his hat—he hid the mass of his rich dark hair under it. I took the top hat off his head; the hair spilt out and over his shoulders far down his back like a cloak. The singers believed only then that it was the Apache. All hands stretched out, and when the excited baritone launched into ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ the rest joined in with gusto.
I had often invited Winnetou to return to Germany with me or to visit me! It had not been possible thus far. The fact that he had come so unexpectedly was indicative of a very important reason. He realized that I wanted to learn of it but shook his head, and instead said:
“Don’t let me interrupt you, my brother. The message that I bring is important; but more than a week has passed and one more hour won’t matter.”
“But how did you find me here?”
“Winnetou is not on his own. The young paleface, Vogel, is with me. He knew your house and led me to it. We were informed that you had gone to where people were singing; and I wanted to hear it. We will return to your house later, and then I will tell you the reasons that made me travel across the big water.”
“Very well, I’ll be patient until then, and you shall now get to hear German songs.”
When I translated the Apache’s wish to the members of the choir they were very eager, of course, to grant it to him. Winnetou, Vogel and I sat at a separate small table and ordered beer, which Winnetou liked, but drank in only very small quantities. Then a performance began that turned into a veritable concert. The men were proud of the fact that such a famous man was listening to them sing.
Winnetou held my right hand in his, and I held his left in mine. I was very happy to have him in my home country and he was just as happy to have given me that pleasure. We must have presented quite a quaint pair. Someone who knew us in the prairie or the Mountains of America would not have recognized us at that moment. Winnetou looked to me like a ‘black panther in sheep’s clothing’ would, and he most likely felt the same about me. Fine feathers make fine birds.
It was around midnight when the Apache announced that he had heard enough— the zealous music brethren would have loved to entertain him right through to the next morning. He thanked them, and then we left. He didn’t say a word about what he had listened to; but, because I was familiar with his ways, I knew very well what deep and lasting impressions the German songs had left behind in his soul.
When we arrived at my house he looked around with great interest, touched every item and closed his eyes from time to time to commit every little detail to memory. I took two peace pipes from the wall, filled them with tobacco, and gave one to Winnetou. I handed a cigar to Vogel. When I at last reclined on the sofa with my best, most loyal and noblest friend, smoking the peace pipe …