Chapter 7

"Yes, Herr Rathsherr."

"Well, then, now be off; and don't let anyone, — not even the Herr Amtshauptmann — know a word about it."

Fritz went, and the Rathsherr too.

My uncle Herse had, of course, had the blue Rathsherr uniform with red and gold collar made, as soon as he had become Rathsherr; and, as he was a fine, tall man he was very fond of putting it on, in order to command proper respect, whenever an opportunity presented itself, such as, for example, when the fire-engines were to be tried, or when the cowswere first driven to pasture in the spring, or foreign troops were quartered in the town. Then, too, when my father was sitting in his grey coat at the court table writing till his fingers ached, Rathsherr Herse would march up and down in front of the table, keeping up the official pomp and dignity by the splendour of his appearance, and it pleased him mightily when a Frenchman by mistake addressed him as "Monsieur le Maire." My father had nothing to say against this, for there was generally a good deal of disputing to be done, and he gave this over, with the pomp and dignity, to the Rathsherr, taking the real business upon himself. In this way, they had divided the work fairly between them, and what with Rathsherr Susemihl, who on days when the court was sitting performed the onerous duty of assessor, and what with the zeal of Dohmstreich the Recorder, and the exertions of Luth the Town Messenger, and the firemen who every month took out their engines to try them, and Panner Hirsch, who used to drive the boys out of the peas-fields, I should like to know where you could have found a town or parish in better trim than my native town of Stemhagen. And all because my uncle Herse was fond of wearing his uniform!

When my uncle Herse reached home, he looked in his clothes-closet for his grey cloak, — for it was still pouring with rain, — and he caught sight of his uniform. "Ah," thought he, "now, to-day will be a good opportunity for me to put it on; and, who knows, perhaps it may be of use in,this enterprise." So he put it on, and also the fine cocked hat that we boys used afterwards to make a boat of and sail on old Nahmaker's pond. At this time it was in its best days, and, as the Rathsherr stepped out at the door, he drew the cape of his cloak over it so that it should not get wet; and then he looked like a French General when he reconnoitres the enemy's post by night. "Well," he said, "no one will know me now."

He went across the market-place, and then by a little roundabout way across the timber yard, where Farmer Nahmaker was looking after his horses, which the French had taken out of the stable and were now driving away.

"Good morning, Herr Eathsherr," said the farmer, "what times these are!"

"Hush!" said my uncle and went on.

Behind the timber-yard barns, Swerdfeger, the joiner, met him.

"Grood morning, Herr Rathsherr."

"Hold your tongue!" said my uncle angrily, and went round outside the Schlossgarden.

"Good morning, Herr Rathsherr," said the son of old Harloff the actor.

Smack! The boy had a blow with the back of the hand on his mouth. "Blockhead! Don't you see that I do not wish to be known?"

So saying, he entered the Schloss-garden and said angrily: "The devil take it! A public position lies on one as heavy as a curse."

Dieses Kapitel ist Teil des Buches IN THE YEAR 13