The protagonist of the novel “Kaspar Hauser” had a prototype – a really existing person, about which much was written and spoken throughout Europe. He suddenly appeared in 1828 in Nuremberg, this young stranger of sixteen or seventeen, whose past was shrouded in mystery and whose short life was soon forcibly interrupted.
The novel begins with a description of the events in Nuremberg in the summer of 1828. The inhabitants of the city learn that in the fortress tower a young man of seventeen is kept in custody who can not tell anything about himself, since he speaks no better than a two-year-old child, receives only bread and water from the guards walks with great difficulty. On a piece of paper, he was able to write his name: Caspar Hauser. Some suggest that this is a caveman, others – that he is just an underdeveloped peasant. However, the appearance of the youth – velvety skin, white hands, wavy light-brown hair – contradicts these assumptions. When a stranger found a letter from which it appears that in 1815 the boy was thrown into a poor house, where for many years he was deprived of communication with people. In the summer of 1828 he was taken out of hiding and, pointing the way to the city, left one in the forest.
The mayor of the city, Mr. Binder, assumes that the young man is a victim of a crime. Interest in the foundling increases, people come to see it. Of particular interest to him is the teacher Daumer, who sat with him for hours and, gradually accustoming Caspar to understand the human language, learns something about his past. But the young man still can not answer questions about who his parents were and who kept him in the dungeon. Teacher Daumer, summarizing all his observations, publishes an article in the press, especially noting the purity of the soul and heart of Caspar and making an assumption of his noble origin. Conclusions made by Daumer alarmed some members of the district administration, and the city council of Nuremberg led by Baron von Tucher decides to appeal to the president of the Court of Appeals to the state councilor Feuerbach, who lives in Ansbach, for advice and help. At Feuerbach’s insistence, Caspar’s guardian appoints Daumer, who continues to reveal to Caspar the world of things, colors, sounds, the world of the word. The teacher does not tire of repeating that Caspar is a real miracle and that his human nature is sinless.
One day, a note is thrown at the teacher’s home with a warning against possible troubles. Daumer informs the police about this, the police – the Court of Appeal. From the district office to the Nuremberg magistrate, instructions are received to strengthen the supervision of Kaspar, since the latter may well conceal something. The more Caspar learns about the real world, the more often he dreams. Once Caspar informs Daumer that he often sees in a dream some beautiful woman, a palace and other things that are very disturbing to him, and when he remembers them in reality, he becomes sad. He constantly thinks about this woman and is sure that she is his mother. Daumer tries to convince Kaspar that this is just a dream, that is something unreal and having nothing to do with reality. Caspar for the first time does not believe the teacher, and this makes his sadness even more intense.
Daumer and Binder write a letter to Feuerbach, where they talk about the dreams of the young man and his feelings. In response, Feuerbach advises Kaspar to go horseback riding and more often to be in the air. At another meeting, Feuerbach gives the young man a beautiful notebook in which he begins to keep a diary. Public attention to Caspar does not weaken, he is often invited to visit noble families. Once, Daumer, who accompanied Kaspar, gets acquainted with an important foreigner named Stanhope, who manages to cast doubt on the guardian’s mind about his ward. After this conversation, Daumer begins to closely monitor Kaspar, tries to convict him of insincerity or lies. Especially unpleasant is the guardian’s categorical refusal to read him a diary entry. Kaspara does not leave a feeling of unease, he is in deep thoughtfulness. Once, while walking in the garden near the house, he sees a stranger with a closed face. The stranger approaches Caspar and strikes him with a knife in the head. The criminal does not find the criminal wounded Kaspar.
Counselor Feuerbach, gathering together all the facts known to him, writes a memorandum to the king, where he claims that Kaspar Hauser is the offspring of some noble family and that his child was removed from the parents’ palace, so that someone else could become a legacy. In this straightforward exposure, Feuerbach directly points to a specific... dynasty and to some other details. In a reply sent from the King’s office, Feuerbach is ordered to remain silent until the circumstances become clear. Daumer, frightened by the attempt on Kaspar, seeks permission to change the domicile of the young man.
Caretaker Caspar becomes Mrs. Bechold. Fluttering and too energetic, she tries to seduce the young man. When the frightened Kaspar evades her caresses, she accuses him of tactless behavior towards her daughter. Exhausted Kaspar wants to leave this house. Mr. von Tucher, assessing the situation and regretting Caspar, agrees to become his next guardian. In the house of Tucher reign silence and boredom, the guardian, being a strict and unsympathetic person, rarely communicates with Kaspar. Caspar is sad, his soul seeks more sincere affection, he is again tormented with forebodings.
One day a young man is brought a letter, and together with him a gift in the form of a ring with a diamond. The author of the letter, Lord Henry Stanhope, soon arrives in the city in person and visits Kaspar. Stanhope is surprised by the cordiality of Caspar and the readiness to conduct long and frank conversations with him. Caspar is glad that Stanhope promises to take him with him and show the world. He also promises to take Caspar to a distant country to his mother. Now they often see each other, walk together, talk. Stanhope submits a petition to the magistrate about custody of Kaspar. In response, he is asked to provide a certificate of his well-being. The city authorities constantly follow him, Feuerbach orders to make inquiries about him. It becomes known for the bright, but flawed past of the lord: he was a mediator in dark matters, an expert fishers of human souls. Not having received permission for custody, Stanhope leaves, promising Caspar to return. He had already put a hope in his soul into his future greatness.
After a while Stanhope arrives in Ansbach and masterfully has to himself as a city society, and Feuerbach. He receives a letter instructing him to destroy some document, having previously removed a copy from him. Stanhope begins to worry when a police lieutenant Kinkel offers him his services and behaves as if he knows everything about the secret mission of Stanhope. The lord manages to persuade Feuerbach to transport Kaspar from Nuremberg to Ansbach. The young man began to live in the house of the teacher Quant. He still meets Stanhope, but not always easy and pleasant with him: sometimes in his presence Kaspar feels some kind of fear. The feeling of danger increases with him and with the appearance of Kinkel, and during the morals of the aggressive Kvant, Feuerbach, however, who has not lost interest in Kaspar, publishes a brochure about him, where he speaks directly about the criminal nature of the history of Caspar. He plans to organize a secret trip in order to find the culprit of this crime. Kinkel, leading a double game, skillfully disposes of an advisor to him and receives an order to accompany him on this trip.
Caspar now often happens in the house of Frau von Imhof, a good acquaintance of Feuerbach. After a while he meets there with Clara Cannavurf, a young, very beautiful woman with a dramatic fate. In the absence of Kinkel, a new supervisor must supervise Kaspar. The soldier performs his functions quite tactfully, imbued with sympathy for the young man. This is facilitated by the fact that he read the brochure of Feuerbach. When Kaspar asks him to find the Countess Stephanie somewhere in another principality and give her the letter, the soldier does not hesitate to agree. Meanwhile in Ansbach comes a message about the sudden death of Feuerbach. The advisor’s daughter is sure that her father was poisoned and that this is directly related to his investigation. Stanhope will never return to Caspar any more: he committed suicide somewhere in a foreign land. Attempts by Clara von Cannavurf to somehow amuse Kaspar are unsuccessful. Feeling that she falls in love with a young man and that happiness with him is impossible, she leaves.
After some time, at the courthouse, an unfamiliar gentleman approaches Kaspar and tells him that he is sent by his mother, and calls him “my prince.” The stranger says that tomorrow he will wait for the young man in the palace garden with the crew and show him a sign from his mother, proving that he is indeed a messenger of the countess. A dream full of anxieties and symbols that Caspar sees at night can not shake his decision. At the appointed time, he comes to the garden, where he is shown a bag, saying that there is a sign from his mother. While Caspar untying this bag, he is stabbed in the chest. Mortally wounded Kaspar lives a few more days, but he can not be saved.