Thursday, September 24, 2015

Two Captains

Book: Two Captains
Author:   Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué
Edition: online from Gutenberg
Read: September 24, 2015
48 pages
Genre:  Fiction
Rated: 3  out of 5

Two captains, one in the Spanish army and the other in the German army, are united together to fight the Muslim invasion of Tunis. But first, the Spanish captain engages the German to be his guard as he serinaids his old lady, who has married while he is on a campaign. The German has met a lady and asked the Spanaird to perform a similar task. It turns out the lady, Donna Clara, is the sister of Fadrique Mendez, the Spanish captain. After performing is duty, Fadrique challenges Heimbert to a point of honor, but they are interrupted by the call to return to their ship to go to war.

They both perform gallantly during the war, turning the tide of the attack on Tunis. Part of the Muslim army is a sorceress named Zelinda who is a beautiful lady as well. Fardrique falls in love and gets permission to chase her out into the desert. Heimbert also chases after her.

After enduring the heat in the desert and an attack, Heimbert can not make it any further. But Zelinda finds him, being impressed by his and Fadrique's heroics in Tunis. After many nights of discussion, Zelinda leads him to her oasis where a Dervish enchanter lives. The enchanter fights Heimbert and is killed. Zelinda becomes a Christian and they return to Tunis, along the way finding Fadrique, close to death.

When they all return to Spain, there is the matter of honor between Fadrique and Heimbert. They continue their fight, but in the end, they liver happily ever after.


Fouque, according to Charlotte M Yonge in her introduction to Undine, Undine is part of a quartet of stories based upon seasons:"Sintram", to winter; the tearful, smiling, fresh "Undine", to Spring; the torrid deserts of the "Two Captains", to summer; and the sunset gold of "Aslauga's Knight.

Sort of refreshing reading a story like this. There is much of old culture and forms which we can laugh at now, but was serious then. We can look at honor and see that it can be somewhat hollow when the point of dishonor has passed and there is no more dishonor, but you need to keep up the fight because of your integrity.

Heimbert knelt down with a glad heart, thanking the good God for having given him success, and for blessing, him with a future full of joyful assurance.(Chp 15) There is also a reminder to give God thanks for success. There is so much which we think we are responsible for and forget  that it is because of Him do we succeed.

When Zelinda talks to Heimbert, she starts to understand why Jesus is the way, not the magical spells she has been into. I think Fouque does a good job of showing that Jesus is different than all others, and that there is an element of wonder in Him. But I do not think a person could understand how o e becomes a follower of Christ. Also there is a lot of element of sexism in this story. But what do I expect from the early 1800's?  He does have Zelinda play a strong role in the beginning, but then she is a disciple of Heimbert.


This is the second Fouque book I read. He seems to specialize in fast moving, short stories. This has action and is enjoyable to read-if you do not mind the writing style of the early 1800's. In a lot of ways, it seems like a short story predecessor to Lew Wallace's Ben Hur. The relationship? Fouque uses this story as a vehicle to show a changed life through finding out who Jesus is. I was able to read this story in between doing some errands. It made for a nice break, not having to think much while reading it.

New Words:
  • Mussulmans (Chp 5):  archaic term for Muslim
  • Zelinda (Chp 6):  shield of victory. Also a small planet orbiting the sun
  • vivacity (Chp 8): (especially in a woman) the quality of being attractively lively and animated
  • inimical (Chp 17): tending to obstruct or harm, hostility

Good Quotes:
  • First Line: A Mild summer evening was resting on the shores of Malaga, awakening the guitar of many a merry singer among the ships in the harbor, and in the city houses, and in many an ornamental garden villa.
  • Last Line: From that time forth they lived in undisturbed and joyful concord; and though the Knight Heimbert was recalled soon afterward with his lovely consort to the bosom of his German Fatherland, he and Fadrique kept up the link between them by letters and messages; and even in after times the descendants of the lord of Waldhausen boasted of their connection with the noble house of Mendez, while the latter have ever sacredly preserved the tradition of the brave and magnanimous Heimbert.
  •  The Heavenly Gardener has indeed permitted us, his beloved children, in his abundant mercy, to help forward his gracious works, that we may thus become happier and better; but we must take care that we change nothing to suit our own rash wilful fancies; else it is as if we were expelling ourselves a second time from Paradise. (chp 14)


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