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The Young Englishman
by [?]

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.

In the southern part of Germany lies the town of Gruenwiesel, where I was born and bred. It is a town identical with its neighbors; in its centre a small marketplace 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 lo protect yourselves 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 this 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.