Veronica flushed burning red.
“Tell Jost,” she said, scornfully, “that if he is clever in nothing else he is a master liar. I would tell him myself, but I will never speak to him again. Will you come for me tomorrow or not, Blasi?” she had turned to leave him.
“Why of course, if that’s the way it is about Jost, I’ll come. You may count on me,” he replied gleefully. She held out her hand to him, and was gone.
The next evening, as Blasi was walking at his ease, towards the wood, he met Jost hurrying along from another direction.
“Where may you be going?” asked Jost peremptorily.
“I am going to meet Veronica; she engaged me to,” answered Blasi, not at all unwilling to make known his errand.
“Well, you are a dunderhead to take a joke like that for sober earnest,” said Jost, bursting into a loud laugh. “Hadn’t you sense enough to see that she was making a fool of you? We had a good laugh together about it last night, she and I, and she said she had a mind to make you go all winter long to Fohrensee, to fetch her; and that you would never find out that she was making sport of you. She seems to have made a good beginning.”
Jost laughed again immoderately, and Blasi began to waver.
“If I only knew which of you was telling a lie;” he said, and stood still to think it over. Suddenly he started forward on the full run, for it occured to him that he could decide by Veronica’s air when he met her, whether she had cheated him or not. Jost saw that Blasi was determined not to give up his enterprise so he turned about, and disappeared among the bushes; for he had no desire to have Blasi see how Veronica treated him.
When Blasi met Veronica, her face had so pleasant and bright a look, that the lad was struck with her beauty. It was not the look of one who was making a fool of him. Veronica was sincere. She talked kindly with him all the way home, more kindly than he had ever thought she could talk, and when they parted, she said persuasively,
“You’ll come tomorrow, and every day, won’t you Blasi?”
Then she pressed a piece of money into his hand, and thanked him for his kindness so gratefully, that it seemed as if he had conferred a great favor on her, instead of having received payment for service rendered.
As the young man turned away, a new set of ideas took possession of his mind. For the first time in his life, he felt a desire to use the money that he held in his hand, for something better than drink. He recollected that he had no necktie on, and he was conscious of looking slovenly and dirty. That was not the way for a fellow to look who was going to be seen walking with the pretty Veronica along the high-road. He would buy a neck-tie in the morning; he had money enough for that. Then his thoughts ran on still farther. Veronica had not spoken to him in this friendly way for many a long year. It was not to make fun of him, Jost was