The World is a Jungle
by Gabriel Timar
|Table of Contents|
Book One: The Pleasant Jungle
The Birth of the Clan
Gabriel Timar recounts stories and anecdotes from his family history and his adventures around the world. Some of the names, dates and places may have been changed, but the essence is a true memoir.
Captain David Tanner of the Austrian Imperial Dragoons distinguished himself in several battles during the Napoleonic wars. The grateful Emperor rewarded the captain with a title and matching estates in northern Hungary. The property had been confiscated from a rebellious Hungarian nobleman involved in one of the innumerable, unsuccessful conspiracies against the Hapsburgs.
With the title came a new, double-barreled name starting with the name of the town — in our case, Farkashida — where the estate was located, followed by the captain’s family name: Tanner.
At the first visit to his estate, Captain David Tanner von Farkashida impressed the Hungarians by his understanding of the sensitivity of the political situation.
“I am going to settle at this estate,” he told the parson of the village.
“I am sure you’ll be welcome,” the priest said. He raised his eyes to Heaven, hoping the Lord would forgive him for the pious lie.
“Look, Padre,” the captain said, “I am a realist. The people of the village are rebels, Hungarians, and Catholics. Most likely, they’d hate me because I am an Austrian, a Protestant, and faithful to the Emperor. You detest living under our rule. I understand that, but I suggest your people accept the status quo and try to make the best of it.”
“You don’t know the Hungarians, captain. Every last one of us is a natural born rebel.”
“I know that,” the captain replied. “Therefore we’d better get to know and understand each other because I own this estate and you guys are stuck with me. Somehow, we must learn to live side by side in peace and prosperity.”
“That is not going to be easy, sir.”
“As I managed to defeat the French cuirassiers, I am sure I can win the hearts and minds of the people of this village.”
The priest looked the captain squarely in the eye and said: “You can count on me.”
David soon retired from the army and married a beautiful although not very talented Catholic, Hungarian actress. Unlike the other brave officers of the Imperial Army of Austria to whom the Emperor also awarded titles and estates in Hungary, David assimilated into Hungarian society.
Within a few years, he became one of them, taking up their lifestyle and way of thinking. He even translated his name into Hungarian, calling himself Timar, which means “tanner” in English and German. The only thing reminding him of his Austrian roots was the language. David did not mind his children converting to Catholicism, but insisted they become bilingual.
After he became a country squire, he began learning the art of making wine.
“It is a damned difficult business,” David complained to his friend the pharmacist of the village. “I read several books on the subject and each suggested a different method of making wine. I must figure out what the buyers want.”
“They are fickle, but don’t worry about them. Go to the small vineyards,” his friend suggested, “taste their wine and if you like one, ask the fellow how he is making it. If the buyers don’t like it, at least you’ll have a wine you can stomach.”
The pharmacist’s advice was sound, and apparently, David had good taste when it came to wine. His muscatel soon became a much sought after white table wine, and the vineyards flourished.
Copyright © 2009 by Gabriel Timar