Old Shatterhand and Winnetou join Old Firehand, Hobble-Frank, Aunty Droll and others on a ride into the Rocky Mountains to unearth a huge treasure.
Karl May Friends
The Treasure in Silver Lake
Twelfth novel in my series of English Karl May books, translated from the author's classic works as published during the late 1800s and first decade of the 1900s.
After the Winnetou Trilogy, The Old Surehand saga, the adventures in South America, a Christmas in the snowy Rocky Mountains, Black Mustang, as well as three volumes of short stories, and the first English biography, I have for the 2012 Karl May year presented The Treasure In Silver Lake with research into Karl May's sources, introductions from Karl May fans around the world, and for the first time a faithful depiction of Old Shatterhand's 'Magic Rifle'.
Because of the events just mentioned, no one had noticed the small craft, which had been put together with tree branches and reeds, and which was carrying two people who were obviously attempting to reach the steamer from the right river bank. They were working with two makeshift paddles that had also been fashioned from branches. One of the people was a boy, the other seemed to be a woman wearing peculiar clothing. The passengers saw a head covering, akin to an old poke bonnet, and underneath it a full, red-cheeked face with small eyes. The rest of the body was clad in a wide sack or some such thing, the cut and style of which was undeterminable because the person was sitting down. Black Tom stood next to Old Firehand and asked him:
“Sir, do you know this woman?”
“No. Is she so famous that I ought to know her?”
“Indeed. To be precise, she is not a woman but a man, a prairie
hunter and trapper. And there the panther is approaching. You’re about to see what a woman, who’s a man, is capable of.”
He leaned over the railing and called down:
“Hola, Aunty Droll, pay attention! This animal here wants to eat you.”
The raft was still approximately fifty metres from the steamer. The panther had been swimming up and down the side of the vessel, all the while looking for its prey. At that point it spotted the raft and headed for it. The person on it, who looked like a woman, gazed up at the deck, recognized the one who had called down, and then replied with a high-pitched falsetto voice:
“What good luck, is that you, Tom? I’m very pleased to see you if that’s necessary! What kind of animal is it?”
“A black panther that’s jumped overboard. Get away from here, quickly, quickly!”
“Oho! Aunty Droll doesn’t run away from anyone, not even from a panther, may it be black, blue or green. Am I permitted to shoot the beast?”
“Of course! But you won’t be able to do it. It belongs to a menagerie and is the most dangerous predator in the world. Flee to the other side of the steamer.”
No one except Tom knew the peculiar figure, yet everyone shouted their warning in the direction of the raft. The person, however, seemed to derive some kind of pleasure from playing catch with the panther. She worked the paddle with astonishing precision, and with the same falsetto voice called the question:
“I’ll certainly do it, old Tom. Where shall I shoot such a creature, if that’s necessary?”
“Into the eye,” Old Firehand replied.
“Alright! Then let the water rat come a little closer.”
The person put the paddle aside and reached for the rifle, which
had been lying next to her. Raft and panther quickly drew closer. The predator stared at the enemy with wide-open eyes; the person lifted the firearm, aimed swiftly and pulled the trigger twice. To put the gun down, grab the paddle and drive the raft back a stretch was the work of a single moment. The panther had disappeared. Where it had last been spotted a swirl marked its death struggle; then it surfaced again further downstream, motionless and dead; it drifted for a few seconds and was then pulled back into the deep water.
“A masterful shot!” Tom shouted down from the deck, and the other passengers enthusiastically agreed, except for the menagerie owner, who had lost his expensive panther as well as his tamer.
“There were two shots,” the odd-looking person replied from down below. “One in each eye. Where is this steamer headed, if it’s necessary?”
“It’ll go as far as it finds enough water,” the captain replied.
“We wish to board, and have built a raft on the bank for that purpose. Will you permit us to come up?”
“Can you pay your fare, Ma’am, or Sir? I truly don’t know whether to haul you up as a man or a woman.”
“As an aunt, sir. To be precise, I’m Aunty Droll, if that’s necessary. And talking of the fare, I’m used to paying with real money, or even gold nuggets.”
“In that case I’ll send the rope ladder down to you. Come aboard! We’ll have to see to it that we can get away from this unfortunate spot.”
The rope ladder was lowered. First the boy, who was also armed with a gun, climbed up; then the other person hung the rifle across her back, grabbed the ladder, pushed the raft below away and, as agile as a squirrel climbed up on deck where she was greeted by the stares of the incredulous, astonished passengers.