“That’s what I think too,” said Dietrich quickly, and you had but to look in his eyes to see that he spoke the truth.
“And I am as glad as either of you,” said Gertrude smiling. “It has been a long day for me. It seems a great while since you started off this morning, Veronica.”
“What! when your only son was sitting by you all day long?” asked Dietrich playfully.
“Oh, you know what I mean. I need you both to make me perfectly happy, and cannot spare either of you;” and she looked from one to the other with caressing glances.
Veronica told them all about the new teacher and the new work, and it was late in the evening before the three separated for the night.
Upon unsafe paths.
After this evening, Dietrich was scarcely ever able to go on his walk alone. Blasi had always some pretext for joining him, and when Jost found out that regularly every evening his friend took the same walk at the same hour, he too discovered that he had a great deal to tell him, and to consult him about. The two accompanied him through the wood, and when they emerged from it on the other side, they usually saw a graceful figure coming along the white road that led up the hill from Fohrensee. Then without a word on the subject, as by tacit agreement, they stopped, shook hands, and separated; the other two turned back toward the village, and Dietrich went on. They felt instinctively that this was the best thing to do. Dietrich, certainly, found out that his companions were not to Veronica’s mind, when one evening, the three being so engaged in talk that they had not noticed that they were later than usual, Veronica came into the wood before they left it, and she recognized Blasi and Jost, although they turned quickly back.
“They can’t have the best of consciences,” said Veronica, as Dietrich joined her; “if they had only straight-forward business on hand, why did they take themselves off so hastily, as soon as I came in sight?”
“Can’t you understand that we may have something to talk about, that we do not wish you to hear?” asked Dietrich.
The girl was silent a few moments, and then she said, rather seriously,
“It would suit me far better, if you were not so much in company with those two fellows. Blasi is absolutely idle, and cannot be nice, and Jost is really bad; you can see that in his face. He never dares to look me full in the eye; he always avoids a direct glance, as if he feared that his eyes would betray him. I believe he is thoroughly false.”
“No, no, you should not judge him so harshly,” said Dietrich, good-humoredly. “He is not what you think him; he is a good friend to me, and has already taught me a great deal that I should never have got at without his help. He is a very clever fellow.”
Veronica let the matter drop, but it was plain that she had not changed her opinion.