The Man-Wolf and Other Tales eBook

Emile Erckmann
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 186 pages of information about The Man-Wolf and Other Tales.

With a few touches of his magic pencil the Laureate has drawn a powerful picture of such a state of things in ancient Britain, of which we can scarcely deny the literal faithfulness.  It is not a poetic conception; it is historic truth:—­

“And ever and anon the wolf would steal
The children and devour; but now and then,
Her own brood lost or dead, lent her fierce teat
To human sucklings; and the children, housed
In her foul den, there at their meat would growl,
And mock their foster-mother on four feet,
Till, straightened, they grew up to wolf-like men,
Worse than the wolves.”

Coming of Arthur.

The following tale, in which the lycanthropy is far from being altogether a mere effort of the imagination, appears to be founded upon the belief in the continued existence of this rare species of madness down to our own day—­or near it—­for the story seems to belong to the year 1832.

The English reader will not fail to notice the correspondence between the title and the well-known designation of the illustrious head of the noble house of Grosvenor.  Whatever connection there may or may not be between that German Hugh Lupus of a thousand years ago and the truly British Hugh Lupus of our day, all the base qualities of his supposed progenitor have disappeared in him who is adorned with all the qualities which make the English nobility rank as the pride and the flower of our land.

F. A. M.

The Vicaraqe, Broughton-in-Furness.

THE MAN-WOLF.

CHAPTER I.

About Christmas time in the year 18—­, as I was lying fast asleep at the Cygne at Fribourg, my old friend Gideon Sperver broke abruptly into my room, crying—­

“Fritz, I have good news for you; I am going to take you to Nideck, two leagues from this place.  You know Nideck, the finest baronial castle in the country, a grand monument of the glory of our forefathers?”

Now I had not seen Sperver, who was my foster-father, for sixteen years; he had grown a full beard in that time, a huge fox-skin cap covered his head, and he was holding his lantern close under my nose.  It was, therefore, only natural that I should answer—­

“In the first place let us do things in order.  Tell me who you are.”

“Who I am?  What! don’t you remember Gideon Sperver, the Schwartzwald huntsman?  You would not be so ungrateful, would you?  Was it not I who taught you to set a trap, to lay wait for the foxes along the skirts of the woods, to start the dogs after the wild birds?  Do you remember me now?  Look at my left ear, with a frost-bite.”

“Now I know you; that left ear of yours has done it; Shake hands.”

Sperver, passing the back of his hand across his eyes, went on—­

“You know Nideck?”

“Of course I do—­by reputation; what have you to do there?”

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Project Gutenberg
The Man-Wolf and Other Tales from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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