“No, mother, no; it is not good to go to bed before you say your prayers.”
Did her boy ever pray now? “Oh, Dieterli, my son, you are wandering away, but you know the way home,” she said to herself, and she folded her hands in prayer, for her habit was to lay all her troubles before God, her Supporter and Comforter.
At this moment, she heard through the stillness loud shouts and cries, first at a distance, then nearer and nearer, until they grew into a wild tumult. Then many of the voices seemed to scatter in different directions while some sounded as if approaching the garden. A vague fear seized Gertrude. Three fellows shouting and calling, passed on the other side of the hedge; she recognized one of the voices.
“Jost,” she cried feebly, “Jost, what is it? where is Dietrich?”
There was no answer; Jost did not or would not, hear. He ran faster than before, and the second fellow ran too. The last one paused a little; it was Blasi. He said hastily:
“He isn’t coming yet awhile. You can go to bed;” and was making off.
“Oh do tell me what has happened,” said Gertrude, white with terror. “Don’t leave me so, but tell me, Blasi, why Dietrich hasn’t come home with the rest of you?”
Blasi had too much respect for Dietrich’s mother to run away from her when she put a direct question to him, although he would fain have escaped. He came close to the hedge, and replied,
“There has been a row at the Rehbock. Two men were killed. Some one stole the cattle dealer’s money bag—”
“Is Dietrich killed? Speak out!” broke in Gertrude, trembling.
“No; he struck about him bravely, till one of the fellows got enough of it, and lay dead on the ground; and then he made off.”
With this Blasi ran on.
Gertrude mounted wearily to her room as if her last day was come. She sat down upon her bed, and when the morning light filled the room, still she sat there listening in trembling anxiety, as she had listened through all the long night; in vain. Dietrich had not come home in the night; he did not come in the morning.
Each one according to his kind.
In all Tannenegg and Fohrensee, nothing was talked of but the affair of the night before. Never was such excitement known. In every house, at every corner, in all the roads, groups of people stood talking it over; each telling what he knew.