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1 correction by allanraymond - Show corrections

WHO WAS KASPAR HAUSER? An Unsolved Identity Mystery. One May morning a century ago the good citizens of the town of Nurem- berg noticed in their market-place a sad and forlorn figure. So helpless and weak did he appear that a merchant approached him, asking him if he was ill. For reply he was shown a letter addressed to the captain of the sixth regiment of horse at Nuremberg. He was led to the cavalry headquarters, and the letter was found to be an ap- peal that he might be accepted as a recruit in the ranks. But there was somthilng so strange about this young stranger, who had apparently dropped out of the blue, that lihe was very thoroughly ques tioned. And an odd tale he told. In the first place, hle could speak very little, being only able to say a few sentences in old Bavarian dialect, though lie wrote well, and could sign his namo-Kaspar Ilauser. lie was not deformed in any way, but, though short, was of well-proportiolled build, and tllose who befriended him re marked oil tile whlliteness of lls skill and the delicacy of his halids and foot. lie recoiled from food placed before him, and would only tollch bread and water. lie had no idea who he really was or whence lhe had come. The letter was headed: "Fronl the confines of Dlava tla, place unknown, 1828." le had with him a few articles of clothing, a prayer-book, and a handkerchief marked "K.II." Considerable interest in him was taken by tile people of Nuremberg, and lie was provided with a home. Un. der care lihe began to develop, add it was soon seen that lie was by no menoans the half.witted creature which Io mnight very well have been tkeon to be. Learning to say more than the for. mnrly oft-repeated words, "lch wonls lit" (I don't know), lie was able to tell somethinglu of Ills tale. lie said that the writer of the letter which lihe had carried with him was a laborer in very poor circumstances, the father of tLoll, before whose door lie had been left as a child. lie said that he had lived In tile labourer's house In so cret, spending practically the whole of his life, till the time lie loft for Nur. emberg, in a collar, but that during tile last few years the laborer lihad taught him to write and how to walk. Such a tale, full of gaps and suggea tlons of ia mysterious origin, was bound to attract wildespread Interest, and there were plenty of people to In terest themselves In Ilauser and to strive to tear aside the veil which sur rounded him. Countless theories were evolved, It was said that he was tile son of ai high.born lhdy, tilhe heir of a kingdom, the son of an Englishl lord. There was. no lack of speculations, but none of them led to any useful discovery, Who ever dill know the secret of his birth ilad covered their tracks remarkably well. Anid that there were those irllo know something of the hidden secret of Kas. par Iiauser is proved by two strange incidents, one of which terminated the caroeer of the mysterious, foundling. Kaspar. was very quick to learn. Those who took him in hand were sur. prised at his zeal for knowledge, and lie Very quickly reached the normal standards of education and knowledge of other youths of hie age. But, hayv Ing atalned this level, lie did not ful. il the promise of his first days under Lultlon, and lie was quickly sinking into obscurity when a strange thing happened. About a year after Ills first appear. ance in Nuremberg he returned home blooding from a wound in the head, and' said- that lie had booeen attacked by a man wearing a covering over his face. Tile nlcident again brought him to the fore; lie was granted a guard of soldiers, and again lie received many visitors interested in his case. One of these was Lord Stanlhope. lie took a liking to Kaspar and sent him to Anapach to be educated, wheore he progressed fairly well, at last being employed at tile law courts. lere lie settled down to the ordln ary routine of life, showing no remark able qualities bilt not lagging behind others In ally respect. -lo was now, to all intents ahd purposes, an ordln. ary young man living all ordinary life. Bht there is no doubt that those who know his secret were frightened. Lurk ing in the background were those who feared that some day ia clue would be discovered and the truth of hlls iden tity revealed. And It Is quite certain that Kasper was not the son of some obscure peasant but of soloeone who had the very greatest reasons for do. siring tile circlumstances of his birth neover to be known. On the aftcrlloon of Decenmbur 14, 1833, Klaspar received a letter saying that lie wits to moot a miessonger from ills patron, Iordl Stllllnhopo, In the pal ace gardlen, when his true Identlty woulld ie revealedl to him. lIe attendl onl tile uneslgnatliln, lild hlld hardlly opellol Ills mouth in greeting of thl sIUpposed messenger fronm Lord Stan lope wlloln lihu was stalbbed l ll tile left side. Tleo wundlll wis nutL nlluledlately fa tel. lie manaligedi to make his way ilomo and rolite wlhat huIld Ihappenod 1nd1 to find thlt Ills patron lhad oent lo meneasenger to hlin. Thureo days later lie died. Those who tllhus inido sure of his doe etructlon were never found, and who Kaspar lHeusor really wils Is a mnystery as complete as that which surrounds the Identity of thile Man ill thle Ironl Mask.

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State Library of Victoria
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