Everyone asked questions, and no one listened to the answers. Such a fight at the Rehbock! It began over the card-table. The cattle-dealer from Fohrensee was on his way home with his bag full of money, when he stopped in at the Rehbock, and joined the game. When the dispute broke out, his big fists took their share in the fray. Not until two of the party lay for dead on the ground, did the brawling cease and the combatants begin to cool. Then the cattle-dealer discovered that his bag full of gold was gone, and raised a fearful alarm.
Then the red-haired man from Fohrensee shouted into the midst of the excited crowd,
“Don’t let any one get away. Run after them! That’s the only way to find out the thief!”
This man had not taken part in the fight, but had mixed with the crowd, trying to pacify them, and to restore quiet.
His advice was useless. A good many had already gone. First of all, Dietrich had disappeared; then several fellows ran after him, and then all the rest went together.
On the way home, Jost had told his companions that Dietrich had made off with himself, and that he, Jost, had told him when he saw him going that there was doubtless good reason for his wishing to be out of the way. But in truth Jost had not said any such thing to Dietrich!
One of the men had run at once for the doctor, and the doctor had come in the night to the Rehbock, and had found that the two men were not dead after all. So he had given orders that they should be let alone till they had slept off the effect of their carouse.
In the morning, all those who had been at the Rehbock the night before, were called together; and every one denied stoutly having any knowledge of the cattle-dealer’s money, and all were ready to be searched in proof of their innocence. Dietrich alone was not there; he had vanished, no one knew whither. Some one whispered, and then it was softly repeated, then louder and louder, that Dietrich would not have taken himself off if he had had a clear conscience; and although nobody seriously believed Dietrich capable of a disgraceful act, yet after awhile it seemed to grow more likely, especially when it became known that he had lost a great deal of money in betting and gambling, and was unable to pay back what he had lost. And many shook their heads and said, “How easy it is for a man to be drawn into evil ways if he once begins to go down hill!”
Where Dietrich had gone, was now the important question. No trace of him had been discovered from the moment of his disappearance. The cattle-dealer left no stone unturned to find him, but he could get no clue to his whereabouts. He had entered complaints against Dietrich, and hoped that the hands of the law would succeed in getting track of him. But it was all in vain. Gradually, no one knew how, a report got about that Dietrich had fled to Australia, and would never come back. Little by little every one came to believe it.