896 THE STORM SHIFTS THE SIGNS
by a plasterer, who had managed to catch it. Such a scene was really very pleasant; and the shield on the new guild-house was hung with flowers and green wreaths.
1 One never forgets a display like that, however old one may grow,' said Grandfather. Nor did he forget it, though he saw many other grand spectacles in his time, and could tell about them too ; but it was most pleasant of all to hear him tell about shifting the signs in the great town itself.
Once, when he was a little boy, Grandpapa had gone there with his parents. He had never yet been in the metropolis of the country. There were so many people in the streets, that he thought that the signs were being moved; and there were many signs to move here ; a hundred rooms might have been filled with them, if they had been hung up inside, and not outside. At the tailor's were pictures of all kinds of clothing, to show that he could stitch up people from the coarsest to the finest ; at the tobacco manufacturer's were pictures of the most charming little boys, smoking cigars, just as they do in reality; there were signs with painted butter and herrings, clerical collars, and coffins, and inscriptions and announcements into the bargain. A person could walk up and down for a whole day through the streets, and tire himself out with looking at the pictures ; and then he would know all about what people lived in the houses, for they had hung out their signs ; and, as Grandfather said, it was a very instructive thing, in a great town, to know at once who the inhabitants were.
And this is what happened with these signs, when Grandpapa came to the town. He told it me himself, and he hadn't a ' rogue on his back', as mother used to tell me he had when he wanted to make me believe something outrageous, for now he looked quite trustworthy.
The first night after he came to the town, there was the most terrible gale ever recorded in the newspapers, a gale such as none of the inhabitants had ever before experienced. The air was filled with flying tiles ; old wood-work crashed and fell; and a wheelbarrow ran up the street all alone, only to get out of the way. There was a groaning in the air, and a howling and a shrieking, and altogether it was a terrible storm. The water in the canal rose over the banks, for it did not know where to run. The storm