Reingelder and the German flag

(notes edited by John McGivering)


First published in the Civil and Military Gazette, 16 April 1889, and collected in Life’s Handicap, 1891.

The story

This is another tale related by Hans Breitmann, the German naturalist. See the notes to the previous story, “Bertran and Bimi”.

A fellow naturalist, Reingelder, collecting in Uruguay, is keen to find a speciment of the Coral Snake, which has markings coloured in red black and white, like the German flag. He finds one, and relying on the report of Yates, an authority on the snakes of South America, assumes it is not poisonous. Breitmann advises him not to handle it, but he insists, is bitten, and dies in agony protesting that Yates had lied.

Some critical responses

Gilmour (p. 92) regards this tale as the least funny in this volume.
Norman Page (p. 119) quotes an undated Edinburgh Review which found it:

…a delightful study of the stolid egotism of the middle-class German savant, with his assumption that everyone is ignorant beside himself…


[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2006 All rights reserved