My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Cholera in Hamburg

THE removal van containing the furniture, kitchen utensils, and soon, had departed, drawn by hefty iron-grey Percherons with funny tufts of hair on hooves and belly. Father, mother and Oluf had left by the Hamburg-Berlin train; brother Eddy was studying medicine in Kiel and fully occupied with anatomy, jolly companionship and attractive blondes. I remained behind in Wedel, near Hamburg.

Every morning I went into Hamburg by steam-train--an hour and a quarter's journey--and returned in the evening. From the windows of my compartment I could see the magnificent villas in Blankensee belonging to various shipowners, and the white sails of the yachts cruising on the Lower Elbe.

In spite of the view, however, I was not really happy because of the mistress of the house my parents had chosen for me. She was a miserly woman, stepmother to the two daughters of a somewhat corpulent doctor, a friend of my father's student days whose first wife had died many years previously.

When my parents moved to Berlin they took the doctor's eldest daughter with them and I went to board with the family at Wedel so that I could continue to attend the Johanneum. From this exchange of offspring there sprang up a staunch friendship between my "foster-sister" and myself which has endured to this day.

There was nothing wrong with the doctor. He was an easy-going sort of fellow who asked nothing better than to get into his ponytrap and drive off on his rounds. If I were at home he would often ask, "What about it, Hjalmar--feel inclined to come along?"

I always felt inclined, so the two of us would drive all over the place.

"It's not comfortable at home," he would sigh, when we came to an attractive looking pub. "Come along, let's have a grog." We would have one--or several, according to how we felt--and then drive on again.

His wife never bothered herself about me, but I put up with it. I was now in the upper school, the masters addressed me in the third person, as is the custom in Germany among adults; in addition to compulsory Latin and Greek I had chosen Hebrew as my

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