A wagon was rattling by as he spoke, and its occupant was urging the galloping horse faster and faster along the road.
“That’s the doctor,” said Dietrich, looking out; “he has had to work hard enough and is still at it. He must be going to visit a very sick patient; he would not be driving at that rate for anything else. It is late for the old gentleman to be out.”
“Work!” said Jost, “well, I speak for that kind of work; sitting in a chaise behind a horse. It’s another part of speech to have to work with one’s hands, as we do.”
“The doctor has to work with his hands too, I’m sure of that. And besides, we have our evenings to ourselves, while he may be kept at it till eleven o’clock at night, as he is this evening, and later.”
“Oh drop all this stupid talk and give us an answer; yes or no. Will you be a fool and go on pricking your fingers over your work, or will you join me and have things comfortable without working at all? Anybody but you would be grateful to me for the chance I offer you. I came to you with it because of our old friendship. I know plenty of fellows who would jump at the chance. You can think it over till tomorrow, and then I’m sure you’ll be glad to accept. I’ll meet you here to-morrow evening, and bring some one with me who will explain it all clearly.”
Dietrich agreed to think about it till to-morrow, and now, in high good-humor and increasing confidence in the coming good-fortune, he helped Blasi and Jost to empty the bowl, in a toast to the success of their new projects.
It was Veronica’s habit to work on her embroidery for some time after going up to her bedroom, and this evening she was so much interested in her work, that she did not observe the flight of time, until she heard the clock strike one. She put by her sewing, and hastened to prepare for bed, as she must be up and stirring again by five o’clock. Presently she heard the outer door opened softly, and then closed from the inside. She blew out her light and gently opened her bed-room door. The moon lighted up the passageway with a faint beam. Some one came stealing up the staircase with noiseless steps. She saw that it was Dietrich. He went cautiously into his room and closed his door.
Veronica shut her door, and sat down upon her bed. All the blood seemed to rush to her heart and she could not stir. She knew in a moment that Dietrich, whom she had believed to be asleep long ago, had been visiting in secret the hated Rehbock. She sat some minutes motionless on her bed, in a kind of dull pain. Then she arose slowly, lighted her lamp again, took out her work and with nervous fingers drove on her needle, which flew faster and faster through the white cloth. She did not sleep at all that night.
Nor did Dietrich fall asleep easily. His thoughts were busy and he could not come to any decision. What should he do?
If he could become rich at once, without working any more, why shouldn’t he do it? Would it be best to consult his mother? No, that would upset everything. He was sure that his mother was too firmly wedded to the old ideas about ways of getting a living, to listen to any new-fangled methods of making money without work.