Baron von Ernest (1)
I could feel the excitement bustling through the village long before the emissary arrived. Much as the excitement that must surge through a hive when a worker bee returns with news of a field full of lavender.
I looked out of the window and saw the mayor running trouserless out of Mrs Hoffermann’s house to his own, then rushing from his own house wearing his official robes and sash, but still no trousers, and then back to Mrs Hoffermann’s from which he finally exited in complete attire.
“What is causing the consternation outside, mother?” I asked my mother.
“Nothing to concern you, I am sure,” she said. Nevertheless she took her own turn at the window.
“It is an emissary from the castle,” she said with great excitement.
This was indeed news. The rents due to the Baron were collected by Herr Kurler and his team of auditors, all purchases and trade were done through Herr Dogberry, it was unheard of for a member of the Baron’s inner circle to visit in person.
My mother reported from her place at the window, breathless with excitement.
“There is a coach with four horses,” she said. “They are dressed in red cloth, they are coming down from the castle. The mayor is waiting to great them, the mayoress is shouting at him, ‘I know where your trousers have been’.”
“Should we go outside and see?” I said.
“No, the emissary would not want to be troubled by the likes of us. We must wait and hear in due course of time.”
The commentary continued. Breathlessly, mother described the coach entering the village, the mayor approaching, bowing, the mayoress shouting ‘Tell the emissary about your trousers’ travels’, the emissary emerging from the coach, dressed in a great red coat and black hat, the path the emissary walked along the main street, until he stopped outside our house.
“The emissary,” mother said, “He has stopped outside our house.”
I waited for mother to continue, but she had left the window and was busy attending to herself.
“Your collar, Hans,” she said to me. “Your collar. You must look smart.”
I didn’t understand.
“My collar?,” I said. “What of my collar.”
There was a knock on the door. From outside a voice boomed. “This is the emissary of Baron von Ernest,” the voice said. “I am here for master Hans Neesand.”
I hastened to my collar as my mother hastened to the door.