The Best Mystery and Detective Stories HTML version

ERCKMANN-CHATRIAN (1822-99)—(1826-90)
The Owl's Ear
On the 29th of July, 1835, Kasper Boeck, a shepherd of the little village of Hirschwiller,
with his large felt hat tipped back, his wallet of stringy sackcloth hanging at his hip, and
his great tawny dog at his heels, presented himself at about nine o'clock in the evening at
the house of the burgomaster, Petrus Mauerer, who had just finished supper and was
taking a little glass of kirchwasser to facilitate digestion.
This burgomaster was a tall, thin man, and wore a bushy gray mustache. He had seen
service in the armies of the Archduke Charles. He had a jovial disposition, and ruled the
village, it is said, with his finger and with the rod.
"Mr. Burgomaster," cried the shepherd in evident excitement.
But Petrus Mauerer, without awaiting the end of his speech, frowned and said:
"Kasper Boeck, begin by taking off your hat, put your dog out of the room, and then
speak distinctly, intelligibly, without stammering, so that I may understand you."
Hereupon the burgomaster, standing near the table, tranquilly emptied his little glass and
wiped his great gray mustachios indifferently.
Kasper put his dog out, and came back with his hat off.
"Well!" said Petrus, seeing that he was silent, "what has happened?"
"It happens that the spirit has appeared again in the ruins of Geierstein!"
"Ha! I doubt it. You've seen it yourself?"
"Very clearly, Mr. Burgomaster."
"Without closing your eyes?"
"Yes, Mr. Burgomaster—my eyes were wide open. There was plenty of moonlight."
"What form did it have?"
"The form of a small man."