THE DOOR-KEY 1081
They had to hurry themselves ; several people who wished to get into the town went quickly past them. As they approached the last guard-house, the clock struck twelve, and the gate banged to: many people stood shut out, and amongst them the chamberlain and his wife and the girl with the tea-basket. Some stood there in great terror, others in vexation : each took it in his own way. What was to be done ?
Fortunately, it had been settled lately that one of the town gates should not be locked, and through the guardhouse there, foot-passengers could slip into the town.
The way was not very short, but the weather was beautiful, the sky clear and starry, frogs croaked in ditch and pond. The party began to sing, one song after another, but the chamberlain neither sang nor looked at the stars, nor even at his own feet, so he fell all his length, along by the ditch ; one might have thought that he had been drinking too much, but it was not the punch, it was the key, which had gone to his head and was turning about there.
Finally they got to the guard-house, slipped over the bridge and into the town.
' Now I am glad again,' said the wife. ' Here is our door !'
1 But where is the door-key ? ' said the chamberlain. It was neither in the back pocket, nor the side pocket.
' Merciful God !' shouted his wife. ' Have you not got the key ? You have lost it with your key-tricks with the Baron. How can we get in now ? The bell-wire was broken yesterday, and the policeman has no key for the house. We are in despair ! '
The servant girl began to sob, the chamberlain was the only one who had any self-possession.
' We must break one of the chandler's window-panes,' said he ; ' get him up and then slip in.'
He broke one pane, he broke two. ' Petersen !' he shouted, and stuck his umbrella handle through the panes ; the cellar-man's daughter inside screamed. The cellar-man threw open the shop door and shouted ' Police!' and before he had seen the chamberlain's family, recognized and let them in ; the policeman whistled, and in the next street another policeman answered with a whistle. People ran