“Oh, what a fuss you make over a few minutes,” he said crossly; “I have to go at four o’clock to ring the bell. I think I ought to take a little from the old man.”
“I should say you took more from him than he had. It has just struck half past two; do you know how many minutes there are in an hour and a half?”
“There’s no getting along with you,” said Blasi, turning away.
“Well, you get along finely without me, so go on and prosper,” said Judith quickly as the lad disappeared.
Blasi had by no means given up his project. He did not see anyone in Gertrude’s garden as he passed along. He clambered up on the lattice by the hedge and peeped through the open window into the room. Dietrich’s mother was seated near her son; both were working steadily, the young fellow was chattering and laughing gaily, and his mother answered and laughed too, but they did not stop working all the while. Blasi saw plainly that this was not the time to make his request. He would wait until the mother had gone to the kitchen, as she was sure to do bye-and-bye. Four o’clock came and the great business of his day was at hand; it was time to ring the bell, and he had to go. At last when evening came Blasi found his opportunity. He stood watching outside the door, when suddenly Dietrich threw it open, and started off with rapid strides.
Blasi called out, “Wait, wait a minute, can’t you? What’s your hurry?”
Dietrich turned about.
“What do you want? Tell me quickly. I’m going to meet Veronica; she can’t come home alone through the woods after dusk.”
“Well, look here,” said Blasi, breathing hard with his haste, and holding Dietrich by the arm. “You see, I’m in trouble for want of a few francs or so. Can’t you lend them to me? I’ll give them back again very soon.”
“I haven’t that much about me now. Stop a minute—yes, here are two francs and here’s a half; will that be enough?” and throwing the money to Blasi, the young man hastened away.
As evening drew on, Gertrude stood at the end of the garden and looked down the road. She listened to every sound that came from below. She was waiting for her children’s voices, for the sound of their footsteps; her children, who made her life, her happiness, her hope! Ah! there they are! that is Dietrich’s voice talking eagerly, while Veronica’s bell-like laugh sounds clear through the still evening air. With a heart filled to overflowing with happiness, Gertrude went forth to meet them.
As they sat together round the table in their usual cheerful mood, the mother asked for an account of this, Veronica’s first day among strangers, and how she liked her new work.
“Very much indeed, mother,” was the answer, and the young girl’s face beamed with a smile that swept away all trace of the clouds that sometimes marred its beauty.
“I can’t tell you how delightful it is to be able to earn so much. But after all, mother dear, the best part is that I can come home to you at night.”