Author(s)Wilhelm Hauff (1802-1827): Hauff was born in Stuttgard in 1802, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Tuebingen in 1824. He published "The Young Englishman" (alternately known as "Der Affe als Mensch" and "Der Junge Englander") in Maerchen-almanach auf das Jahr 1826, für Soehne und Toechter gebildeter Staende in 1826. He sickened and died in the fall of 1827, before his 25th birthday.
Link to Tarzan of the ApesAn advanced ape comes to live in a small German town.
Hauff, William. 1882. "The Young Englishman" p. 353-373. In: Tales of the Caravan, Inn, and Palace. Edward L. Stowell (transl.) Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Co.
Copy in McGill Library.
Modifications to the text
Sire, I am a German by birth, and have been in your country too short a time to be able to entertain you with a Persian tale or an amusing story of sultans and viziers. You must, therefore, permit me to tell you a story of my native land. Sad to say, our stories are not always as elevated as yours — that is, they do not deal with sultans or kings, nor with viziers and pashas, that are called ministers of justice or finance, privy-counsellors, and the like, but they treat very modestly (soldiers sometimes excepted) of persons outside of official life.
"The Young Englishman"
In the southern part of Germany lies the town of Gruenwiesel, where I was born and bred. It is a town identical with its neighbours; in its centre a small market-place with a town-pump, on one corner a small old town-hall, while built around the square were the houses of the justice of the peace and the well-to-do merchants, and, in a few narrow streets that opened out of the square, lived the rest of the citizens. Everybody knew everybody else; every one knew all that was going on; and if the minister, or the mayor, or the doctor had an extra dish on the table, the whole town would know of it before dinner was over. On afternoons, the wives went out to coffee parties, as we call them, where , over strong coffee and sweet cakes, they gossiped of the great events of the day, coming to the conclusion that the minister must have invested in a lottery ticket and won an unchristian amount of money, that the mayor was open to a bribe, and that the apothecary paid the doctor well to write costly prescriptions. You may therefore imagine, Sire, how unpleasant it was for an orderly town like Gruenwiesel, when a man came there of whom nothing was known — not even where he came from, what he wanted there, or on what he lived. The mayor to be sure, had seen his passport, a paper that every one is compelled to have in our country ——
"Is it, then, so unsafe on the street," interrupted the sheik, "that you must have a firman from your sultan in order to protect yourself from robbers?"
No, Sire, (replied the slave); these passports do not protect us from thieves, but are only a regulation by which the identity of the holder is every-where established. Well, the mayor had investigated this strange man’s passport and at a gathering at the doctor’s house had said that it had been found all right from Berlin to Gruenwiesel, but there must be some cheat in it, as the man was a suspicious-looking character. The mayor’s opinion being entitled to great weight in Gruenwiesel, it is no wonder that from that time forth the stranger was looked upon with suspicion. And his course of life was not adapted to change the opinion of my countrymen. The stranger rented an entire house that had formerly been unoccupied, had a whole wagon full of singular furniture — such as stoves, ranges, frying-pans, and the like — put in there, and lived there alone by himself. Yes, he even cooked for himself; and not a single soul entered his house, with the exception of an old man living in Gruenwiesel, who made purchases for him of bread, meat, and vegetables. Still, even this old man was only allowed to step inside the door, where he was always met by the stranger, who relieved him of his bundles.
I was ten years of age when this man came to our town, and I can to-day recall the uneasiness which his presence caused, as clearly as though it had all happened yesterday. He did not come in the afternoon, like the other men, to the bowling alley; nor did he visit the inn in the evening, to discuss the news over a pipe of tobacco. It was in vain that, one after another, the mayor, the ‘squire, the doctor, and the minister invited him to dinner or to lunch; he always excused himself. Thus it was that some believed him crazy; others took him to be a Jew; while a third party firmly insisted that he was a magician or sorcerer.
I grew to be eighteen, twenty years old, and still this man passed under the name of "the strange gentleman." There came a day, however, on which some fellows came to our town leading a number of strange animals. They were a rough lot of vagrants, who had a camel that would kneel, a bear that danced, some dogs and monkeys looking very comical in clothes and playing all sorts of tricks. These vagrants generally go through the town, stopping at all the cross streets and squares, making a horrible tumult with a small drum and fife, compelling their animals to dance and perform tricks, and then collect money in the houses. But the band, which was now exhibiting in Gruenwiesel, was distinguished above others of its class by the presence of a monster orang-outang, nearly as large as a human being, which walked on two legs, and could perform all manner of clever tricks. This dog-and-ape-troupe stopped before the house of the strange gentleman. At the sound of the fife and drum, the latter appeared at the dust-dimmed window, looking rather displeased; but after a time his face lighted up, and, to everybody’s surprise, he opened the window, looked out, and laughed heartily at the tricks of the orang-outang, and even gave such a large silver coin to the show that the whole town spoke of it.
On the following day these vagrants left the place. The camel carried a large number of baskets in which the dogs and apes sat demurely, while the men and the big ape walked behind the camel. They had hardly been gone an hour, however, when the strange gentleman sent to the post, and ordered, to the astonishment of the postmaster, a carriage with post-horses, and shortly drove through the same gate, out on the same road that had been taken by the band of men and monkeys. The whole town was vexed because it could not be learned where he was bound. Night had set in before the strange gentleman returned to the gate. But another person sat in the wagon with him, who pressed his hat down over his face, and had bound up his mouth and ears in a silk handkerchief. The gate-keeper held it to be his duty to question the other stranger, and to ask him for his passport; he answered, however, very roughly, muttering away in a quite unintelligible language.
"It is my nephew," said the strange gentleman, pleasantly, to the gate-keeper, as he pressed some silver coin into his hand; "it is my nephew, who does not at present understand very much German. He was just now cursing in his own dialect at our being stopped here."
"Well, if he is your nephew," replied the gate-keeper, "of course a pass is not necessary. He will probably lodge with you?"
"Certainly," said the strange gentleman, "and will most likely remain here some time."
The gate-keeper had no further objection to make, so the strange gentleman and his nephew drove into the town. The mayor and citizens, however, were not very well pleased with the action of the gate-keeper. He might at least have taken notice of a few words of the nephew’s dialect, so that thereby it might have been easily ascertained from what country he and his uncle originally came. On this the gate-keeper asserted that his dialect was neither French nor Italian, but it sounded broad enough to be English.
But, like his uncle, the young Englishman did not show himself wither at the bowling alley or the beer table; but yet he gave the much to busy themselves about in another way. For instance, it often happened that, in the formerly quiet house of the strange gentleman, such fearful cries and noises were heard, that the people would crowd together before the house and look up at the windows. They would then see the young Englishman, clad in a red coat and green knee-breeches, with bristly hair, and a frightened expression, run by the windows, and through all the rooms, with inconceivable rapidity, chased by his uncle, wearing a red dressing-gown, with a hunting whip in his hand; he often missed hitting him, but after a time the crowd felt sure that the young man had been caught, as the most pitiable cries and whip-lashings were heard. The ladies of the town now felt such a lively sympathy for the young man who was treated so cruelly that they finally prevailed on the mayor to take some steps in the matter. He wrote the strange gentleman a note, in which he expressed his opinion very emphatically about the way the young Englishman had been treated, and threatened that if any more such scenes occurred he would take the young man under his own protection.
But who could have been more astonished than was the mayor, when, for the first time in ten years, he saw the strange gentleman enter his house! The old gentleman excused his conduct, on the ground that it was in accordance with the expressed charge of the young man’s parents, who had sent their son to him to be educated. This youth was in other respects wise and forward for his years, but he did not learn languages easily; and he was very anxious to teach his nephew to speak German fluently, that he might take the liberty of introducing him to the society of Gruenwiesel. And yet this language seemed so hard to him to acquire, that often there was nothing left to do but to whip it into him. The mayor expressed himself well satisfied with these explanations, only advising moderation on the old man’s part; and he said that evening, over his beer, that he had seldom seen so intelligent and clever a man as the strange gentleman. "It is a pity," added he, in conclusion, "that he comes so little into society; still, I think that when the nephew is a little further advanced in German, he will visit my circle oftener."
Through this single circumstance, the public opinion of the town was completely changed. The stranger was looked upon as a clever man, wishes for his better acquaintance were freely expressed, and when, now and then, a terrible shriek was heard to come from the house, the Gruenwiesel people simply said: "He is giving his nephew lessons in the German language," and ceased to block up the street before his house, as they had been wont to do on hearing those cries. In the course of three months the German exercises seemed to be finished, as the old gentleman took another step in the education of his nephew. There lived a feeble old Frenchman in the town, who gave the young people lessons in dancing. He gave him to understand that while the young man was quite docile, yet where dancing were concerned he was rather peculiar; he had, for instance, once learned how to dance from another master, but so singular were the figures taught him, that he could not be taken out into society. But then his nephew believed himself to be a great dancer, notwithstanding the fact that his dancing did not bear the slightest resemblance to a waltz or a gallopade. As for the rest, he promised the dancing-master a thaler a lesson; and the Frenchman announced himself as ready to begin the instruction of this peculiar pupil. Never in the world, as the Frenchman privately asserted, was there anything so extraordinary as these dancing-lessons. The nephew, quite a tall, slim young man, whose legs were still much too short, would make his appearance, finely dressed in a red coat, loose green trousers, and kid gloves. He spoke but little, and with a foreign accent, was at the beginning fairly clever and well-behaved, but would suddenly break into the wildest leaps, danced the boldest figures that took away the master’s sight and speech; and if he attempted to set him right again, the young man would draw off his dancing-shoes, and throw them at the master’s head, and then get down on the floor and run around on all fours. Summoned by the noise, the old gentleman would then rush out of his room, attired in a loose red dressing-gown, with a gold-paper cap on his head, and lay the hunting whip on the back of the young man without mercy. The nephew would thereupon scream frightfully, spring upon tables and bureaus, and cry out in an odd foreign tongue. The old man in the red dressing-gown would at length catch him by the leg, drag him down from a table, beat him black and blue, and choked him by twisting his cravat, whereupon he would become clever and decent again, and the dancing-exercise would continue without further interruption.
But when the Frenchman had advanced his pupil so far that music could be used during the lesson, there was a magical change in the nephew’s behavior. A town musician was called in, and given a seat on the table in the salon of the desolate house. The dancing-master would then represent a lady, the old gentleman furnishing him with a silk dress and an Indian shawl; and the nephew would request the lady to dance with him. The young Englishman was a tireless dancer, and would not let the Frenchman escape out of his long arms, but forced him to dance, in spite of his groans and cries, till he fell down from fatigue, or until the fiddler’s arm became too lame to keep up the music.
The dancing-master was nearly brought to his grave by these lessons, but the thaler that he received regularly every day, and the good wine that the old man set out for him, caused him to keep on, even though he firmly resolved each day not to enter the desolate house again.
But the inhabitants of Gruenwiesel took an altogether different view of the matter. They found that the young man must have sociable qualities; while the young ladies rejoiced that, in the great scarcity of young men, they should have so nimble a dancer for the forthcoming winter.
One morning the maids, on returning from market, reported to their mistresses a wonderful occurrence. Before the desolate house, a splendid coach, with beautiful horses, was drawn up, with a footman in rich livery holding open the door. Thereupon the door of the desolate house was opened, and two richly dressed gentlemen stepped out, one of whom was the old gentleman and the other probably the young Englishman, who had had such a hard time in learning German, and who danced so actively. Both men took seats in the coach, the footman sprang up on the rack at the back, and the coach — just think of it! — had been driven up to the mayor’s door.
As soon as the ladies had heard these stories from their servants, they tore off their kitchen aprons, and dressed themselves in state. "Nothing is more certain," they exclaimed to their families, while all were running about to set the parlor in order, "nothing is more certain than that the stranger is about to bring his nephew out. The old fool has not had the decency to set his foot in our house for ten years; but we will pardon him on account of the nephew, who must be a charming fellow." Thus said the ladies, and admonished their sons and daughters to appear polite if the strangers came — to stand up straight, and also to take more pains than usual in their speech. And the wise women of the town were not wrong in their calculations, as the old gentleman went the rounds with his nephew, to recommend himself and the young Englishman to the favor of the Gruenwiesel families.
Every-where the people were quite charmed with the appearance of the two strangers, and felt sorry that they had not made the acquaintance of these agreeable gentlemen earlier. The old gentleman showed himself to be a worthy, sensible man, who, to be sure, smiled a little over all he said, so that one was not quite sure whether he was in earnest or not; but he spoke of the weather, of the suburbs, and of the Summer pleasures in the cave on the mountain side, so wisely and elaborately that everyone was charmed with him. But the nephew! He bewitched everybody; he took all hearts by storm. Certainly, so far as his exterior was concerned, his face could not be called handsome; the under part, the chin especially, protruded too far, and his complexion was exceedingly dark; then, too, he frequently made all sorts of singular grimaces, closing his eyes and gnashing his teeth; but in spite of all this, the contour of his face was found to be unusually interesting. Nothing could be more athletic than his figure. His clothes, it is true hung somewhat loosely and unevenly on his body; but he was pleased with every thing; he flew about the room with uncommon activity, threw himself on the sofa and then in an arm-chair, and stretched out his legs before him. But what in another young man would have been considered vulgar and unseemly, passed in the case of the nephew for agreeableness. "He is an Englishman," they would say, "they are all like that; an Englishman can lie down on a sofa and go to sleep while ten ladies stand up for the lack of a seat; we shouldn’t take it amiss in an Englishman." He was very watchful, however, of the old gentleman, his uncle; and when he began to spring about the room, or , as he seemed constantly inclined to do, put his feet up in a chair, a serious look served to make him behave himself a little better. And then, how could any one take any thing amiss, when the uncle on entering would say to the lady of the house: "My nephew is still somewhat coarse and uncultured, but I am sanguine that a little society will do much to polish his manners, and I therefore recommend him to you with my whole heart."
Thus was the nephew brought into society, and all Gruenwiesel spoke of nothing else for two whole days. The old gentleman did not stop with this, however, but set about changing his entire course of life. In the afternoon, in company with his nephew, he would go out to the cave on the mountain, where the most respectable gentlemen of Gruenwiesel drank beer and played at bowls. The nephew there showed himself to be an accomplished master of the sport, as he never bowled down less than five or six pins. Now and then, it is true, a singular spirit seemed to control him. He would, for instance, often chase a ball with the speed of an arrow, right down among the pins, and there set up all kinds of strange noises; or when he had knocked down the king, or made a strike, he would stand on his beautifully curled head, and throw his feet his feet into the air; or when a wagon rattled by, he would be found, before he was fairly missed from the room, on the driver’s seat, would ride a short distance, and then come back.
On these occasions, the old gentleman was accustomed to beg pardon of the mayor and the other gentlemen, for the antics of his nephew; but they laughed, charged it all to the account of his youth, asserted that at his age they were also as nimble, and loved the harum-scarum chap, as they called him, uncommonly well.
But there were also times when they were not a little vexed with him, and they did not venture to make any complaints, because the young Englishman passed every-where as a model of culture and intelligence. The old gentleman was accustomed to take his nephew with him every evening to the "Golden Hirsch," an inn of the town. Although the nephew was quite a young man, he did all that his elders did, placed his glass before him, put on an enormous pair of spectacles, produced a mighty pipe, lighted it, and blew his smoke among them mischievously. If the papers, or war, or peace, were spoken of, and the doctor and the mayor fell into a discussion on these subjects, surprising all the other gentlemen by their deep political knowledge, the nephew was quite liable to interpose very forcible objections; he would strike the table with his hand, from which he never drew the glove, and gave the doctor and the mayor very plainly to understand that they had not any correct information on these subjects; that he had heard all about them himself, and possessed a deeper insight into them. He then gave expression to his own views, in singular broken German, which received, much to the disgust of the mayor, the approval of all the other gentlemen; for he must, naturally, as an Englishman, understand all this much better than they.
Then when the mayor and doctor, to conceal the anger they did not dare express, sat down to a game of chess, the nephew would come up, look over the mayor’s shoulders with his great goggles, and find fault with this and that move, and tell the doctor he must move thus and so, until both men were secretly burning with anger. If then the mayor challenged him to play a game, with the design of mating him speedily — as he held himself to be a second Philidor — the old gentleman would grasp his nephew by the cravat, whereupon the young man at once became quiet and polite, and gave mate to the mayor.
They had been accustomed to play cards of an evening at Gruenwiesel, at half a kreuzer a game for each player; this the nephew thought was a miserable stake, and laid down crown-thalers and ducats himself, asserting that not one of them could play as well as he, but generally consoled the insulted gentlemen by losing large sums of money to them. They suffered no twinges of conscience in this taking of his money. "He is an Englishman, and inherits his wealth," said they, as they shoved the ducats into their pockets.
Thus did the nephew of the strange gentleman establish his respectability in the town in a very short time. The oldest inhabitants could not remember having ever seen a young man of this style in Gruenwiesel, and he created the greatest sensation that had ever been known there. It could not be said that the nephew had learned any thing more than the art of dancing; Latin and Greek were to him, as we were wont to express it, "Bohemian villages." In a game at the mayor’s house he was called upon to write something, and it was discovered that he could not even write his own name. In geography, he made the most egregious blunders — as he would place a German city in France, or a Danish town in Poland; he had not read any thing, hand not studied any thing, and the minister often shook his head seriously over the utter ignorance of the young man. Yet, in spite of all these defects, every thing he said or did was considered excellent; for he was so impudent as to claim that he was always right, and the close of every one of his speeches was, "I know better than you!"
Winter came, and now the young Englishman appeared in still greater glory. Every party was voted wearisome where he was not a guest. People yawned when a wise man began to speak; but when the young Englishman uttered the veriest nonsense in broken German, all was attention. It was now discovered that the young man was also a poet, for rarely did an evening go by that he did not pull out a piece of paper and read some sonnets to the company. There were, to be sure, some people who maintained that some of these poems were poor and without sense, and that others they had read somewhere in print; but the nephew did not permit himself to be put down in any such manner. He read, and read, directed the attention of his hearers to the beauties of his verses, and was applauded to the echo.
His great triumph, however, was at the Gruenwiesel ball. No one could dance more gracefully and rapidly than he. None could execute such uncommonly difficult steps. His uncle dressed him in the greatest splendor, after the latest fashion; and although the clothes did not fit his body very well, yet every one thought him charmingly dressed. The men, to be sure, thought themselves somewhat insulted by the new fashion which he introduced. The mayor had always been accustomed to open the ball in his own person, while the leading young people had the right to arrange the other dances; but since the appearance of the young Englishman, all this was changed. Without much ceremony, he took the next best lady by the hand and led her out on the floor, arranged every thing to suit himself, and was lord and master and king of the ball. But because these innovations were acceptable to the ladies, the men did not venture to make any objections, and the nephew held firmly to his self-appointed office.
This ball seemed to furnish great entertainment for the old gentleman; he never once took his eyes off his nephew, wore a smiling face, and when all the world of Gruenwiesel moved up to him to sound the praises of the noble, well-bred youth, he could no longer contain himself from very joy, but broke out into a hearty laugh, and conducted himself almost foolishly. The Gruenwiesel people attributed these singular manifestations of pleasure to his great love for his nephew, and did not think them unnatural. Still, every now and then he had to turn his fatherly attention to his nephew, for, in the middle of an elegant dance, the young man would leap up to the platform where the town musicians sat, take away the bass-viol from its owner, and scrape out a horrible medley; or for a change he would throw his heels up into the air and dance about on his hands. At such times, the old gentleman would take him aside, would talk to him very seriously, and tighten his neck-tie, until he once more was tractable.
Thus did the nephew conduct himself in society. It is usually the case with social customs, that the objectionable ones spread much more rapidly than the good ones; and a new and striking fashion, even though ludicrous in itself, may have something attractive in it for young people who have not thought very deeply about themselves and the world. Thus it was in Gruenwiesel, over the young Englishman and his singular manners. When the young people saw how he, with his perverse disposition, with his coarse laughs and jests, with his rude answers to elderly people, was more praised than blamed, that all this was considered spirited, they said to themselves, "It would be easy for me to become such a spirited fellow." They had formerly been industrious and clever young people; now they thought, "Of what use is study, when ignorance is more highly rewarded?" They let books alone, and spent their time on the square and in the streets. Formerly they were well-behaved and polite towards every one — had waited until they were spoken to, and then replied modestly; but now they placed themselves in the company of their elders, gossiped with them, gave expression to their opinions, and even laughed in the mayor’s face when he spoke, and affirmed that they knew better than he. Formerly the young men of Gruenwiesel had had a horror of a coarse and vulgar life; but now they sang all kinds of low songs, smoked tobacco in enormous pipes, and frequented the worse saloons. They also bought large goggles, although their sight was not impaired, set them on their nose, and thought that they were now made, as they looked just like the celebrated young Englishman. At home, or when they were visiting, they would lie down on the lounge with their boots and spurs on; they tilted back their chairs in company, or put their elbows on the table and rested their cheeks on their fists — a posture that was in the highest degree charming to look at. All in vain did their mothers and friends tell them how foolish and disgraceful these actions were; they quoted the shining example of the nephew in defence of their behavior. All in vain was it represented to them that one should overlook in the nephew, as a young Englishman, a certain national rudeness; — the young men of Gruenwiesel would assert that they had just as good a right as the best Englishman living, to be rude in a spirited way; in short, it was a pity to see how the evil example of the nephew had completely destroyed the customs and good manners of Gruenwiesel.
But the joy of the young men, in their rude unrestrained life did not last long, as the following event wrought a complete change in the scene. The Winter amusements were to close with a concert, that was to be given, partly by the town musicians, and partly by the lovers of music in Gruenwiesel. The mayor played the violoncello, the doctor the bassoon, extremely well; the apothecary, although he had a very poor talent for it, blew the flute; the young ladies of Grienwiesel had learned some songs, and every thing was all nicely arranged. But the strange gentleman gave out that while the concert would undoubtedly be a success, yet it was a mistake not to introduce a duet, as duet was a recognized feature of every concert. The old gentleman’s declaration proved quite an embarrassment to the managers. It was true that the mayor’s daughter sang like a nightingale; but where should they find a gentleman who could sing a diet with her? In their perplexity, they at last hit upon the old organist who had once possessed an excellent bass voice; but the strange gentleman asserted that they need have no uneasiness on that score, as his nephew was an exceptionally fine singer. They were not a little surprised over this new accomplishment of the young man, and requested him to sing something, that they might judge of his acquirements. He sang for them, and, barring a few outlandish affectations which were supposed to be the English style, he sang like an angel. The duet was therefore decided on and hurriedly practiced, and the evening finally came on which the ears of the Gruenwiesel people were to be refreshed with a concert.
The old gentleman, sad to say, was sick and could not attend the concert; but he gave the mayor, who called on him just before the hour of opening the concert, some directions regarding his nephew. "He is a good soul, my nephew," said he, "but now and then he is overtaken by all sorts of singular fancies, and does many stupid things; it is, therefore, a great misfortune that I can not be present at your concert, as in my presence he always behaves himself —he well knows why! I must say, in his favor, that he does not commit these actions in a spirit of wantonness, but they are a fault of his constitution, deeply implanted in his nature. If then, Mr. Mayor, he should sit down on the music-desk, or attempt to play the bass-viol, just loosen his neck-tie a little; or, if that does not help matters, pull it off entirely, and you will see how quiet and well-behaved he will become." The mayor thanked the sick man for his confidence, and promised that if it should be necessary he would carry out his instructions.
The concert hall was crowded: all Gruenwiesel and the surrounding country were there. All the royal game-keepers, the ministers, officials, landlords, and others, within a circumference of ten miles, came with their numerous families to share the rare enjoyment of the concert with the Gruenwiesel people. The town musicians did themselves honor. After them, the mayor appeared with his violoncello, accompanied by the apothecary with his flute; after these, the organist sang, amid universal applause; and the doctor, too, was cheered not a little when he appeared with his bassoon.
The first part of the concert was over, and every one was impatiently awaiting the second part, in which the young stranger was to sing a duet with the mayor’s daughter. The nephew was present, in a brilliant costume, and had already attracted the attention of all present. He had, with the greatest composure, laid himself back in an easy chair which had been reserved for a countess of the neighborhood, stretched his legs out before him, and stared at everybody through a large spyglass, stopping occasionally to play with a large mastiff which he, in spite of the rule excluding dogs, had brought with him into this goodly company. The countess for whom the chair had been reserved, put in an appearance; but he showed no disposition to vacate the seat, — on the contrary, he settled himself down in it more comfortably, and as no one dared say any thing to the young man about it, the noble lady was forced to take a common straw-bottomed chair in the midst of the other ladies; a proceeding that vexed her not a little.
During the excellent playing of the mayor, during the fine singing of the organist, yes, even while the doctor was performing some fantasies on the bassoon, and all were breathlessly listening, the young Englishman amused himself by having the dog fetch his handkerchief, or chatted aloud with his neighbors, so that very one who was not acquainted with him wondered at the extraordinary conduct of the young man.
It was no wonder, therefore, that there was great curiosity to hear him in the duet. The second part began; the town musicians had opened with a short piece of music, and now the mayor, with his daughter, stepped up to the young man, handed him a sheet of music and said: "Mosjoh! Will it please you to sing the duet now?" The young msn laughed, gnashed his teeth, sprang up, and the others followed him to the music-stand, while the entire company were in full expectation. The organist began the accompaniment and beckoned the nephew to begin. The young Englishman looked through his goggles at the music, and broke out in the most discordant tones. The organist called out to him, "Two tones deeper, your honor! You must sing in C, C!"
Instead of singing in C, however, the nephew took off his shoe, and struck the organist such a blow on the head that the powder flew in all directions. As the mayor saw this, he thought: "Ha! He has another attack!" and sprang forward, seized him by the throat, and loosened his neck-tie; but this only increased the young man’s violence; he no longer spoke German, but a strange language instead, that no one understood, and began to leap about in an extraordinary manner. The mayor was very much annoyed by this unpleasant disturbance; he therefore resolved, inasmuch as the young man must have been attacked by some very unusual symptoms, to remove the cravat entirely. But he had no sooner done this, that he stood motionless with horror, for instead of a human skin and complexion, the neck of the young man was covered with dark-brown fur. The young man took some high leaps, grasped his hair with his gloved hands, pulled it, and, oh, wonder! This beautiful hair was simply a wig, which he flung into the mayor’s face; and his head now appeared, covered with the same brown fur.
He jumped over tables and benches, threw down the music-stands, stamped on the fiddles and clarionet, and appeared to have gone mad. "Catch him! Catch him!" shouted the mayor, quite beside himself. "He is out of his senses, catch him!" That was, however, a difficult thing to do, as the Englishman had pulled off his gloves, disclosing nails on his fingers, with which he scratched the faces of those who attempted to hold him. Finally an experienced hunter succeeded in holding him. He bound his long arms down by his side so that he could only move his feet. The people gathered round and stared at the singular young gentleman, who no longer resembled a human being.
Just then a scientific gentleman of the neighborhood who had a large cabinet full of specimens of natural history, and possessed all kinds of stuffed animals, approached nearer, examined him closely, and then exclaimed in tones of surprise: "Good gracious! ladies and gentlemen, how is it you bring this animal into genteel company? That is an ape, of the Homo Troglodytes species. I will give six thalers for him on the spot, if you will let me have him, for my cabinet."
Who could describe the astonishment of the Gruenwiesel people as they heard this! "What! An ape, an orang-outang in our society? The young stranger a common ape?" cried they, and they looked at one another in a stupefied way. They could not believe it; they could not trust their ears. The men examined the animal more closely, but it was beyond all doubt a quite natural ape.
"But how is this possible," cried the mayor’s wife. "Has he not often read his poems to me? Has he not eaten at my table, just like any other man?"
"What?" exclaimed the doctor’s wife. "Has he not often drank coffee with me, and a great deal of it? And has he not talked learnedly with my husband, and smoked with him?"
"What! Is it possible!" cried the men; "has he not bowled nine-pins with us at the cave? And discussed politics like one of us?"
"And how can it be?" lamented they all; "has he not danced at our balls? An ape! an ape? It is a miracle! It is witchcraft!"
"Yes, it is witchcraft, and a satanic spook!" echoed the mayor, exhibiting the cravat of the nephew, or ape. "See, this cloth contains the magic that made him so acceptable to our eyes. There is a broad strip of elastic parchment covered with all manner of singular characters. I think it must be Latin. Can any one read it?"
The minister, a scholarly gentleman who had lost many a game of chess to the young Englishman, walked up, examined the parchment, and said: "By no means! They are only Latin letters, " and read:
"THE APE CAN DO MOST COMIC FEATS,
WHEN OF THE APPLE FRUIT HE EATS."
"Yes, it is a wicked fraud, a kind of sorcery; and the perpetrator of it should be made an example of."
The mayor was of the same opinion, and started to go to the house of the stranger, who must be a sorcerer; while six militia-men took the ape along, as the stranger would be immediately put on trial.
They arrived at the desolate house, accompanied by a large crowd of people, as every one was anxious to see the outcome of the affair. They knocked on the door and pulled the bell, but no one responded. The mayor, in his wrath, had the door beaten in, and went up to the room of the stranger. But nothing was to be seen there save various kinds of old furniture. The strange gentleman was not to be found; but on his work-table lay a large sealed letter, directed to the mayor, who immediately opened it. He read:
"MY DEAR GRUWENWIESEL FRIENDS: — When you read this I shall be far away from your town, and you will have discovered of what rank and country my dear nephew is. Take this joke, which I have allowed myself to indulge in at your expense, as a lesson not to seek the society of a stranger who prefers to live quietly by himself. I felt above sharing in your eternal clack, in your miserable customs, and your ridiculous manners. Therefore, I educated a young orang-outang, which, as my deputy, won such a warm place in your affections. Farewell; make the best use of this lesson."
The people of Gruenwiesel were not a little ashamed at the position they were in before the whole country. They had hoped that all this could be shown to have some connection with supernatural things. But the young people experienced the deepest sense of shame, because they had copied the bad customs and manners of the ape. They ceased to prop their elbows on the table; they no longer tilted back their chairs; they were silent until spoken to; they laid aside their spectacles, and were good and obedient; and if any one of them chanced to slip back into the old ways, the Gruenwiesel people would say, "It is an ape!" But the ape, that had so long played the role of a young gentleman, was surrendered to the learned man who possessed a cabinet of natural curiosities. He allowed the ape to have the run of his yard, fed it well, and showed it as a curiosity to strangers, where it can be seen to this day.
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