Such remarks as these, thrown out before all the company at the Rehbock were very exasperating to Blasi and several times he seized the big bowl to throw it at the insolent fellow’s head. He did not throw it however, for Veronica had charged him to have as little as possible to do with Jost, and especially never to quarrel with him, and Veronica’s influence over Blasi grew stronger every day. So he did not throw the bowl, but instead, drained it to the bottom and then left the room.
About this time Blasi began to meet Judith very often on his evening walk. Judith seemed to have some business that took her frequently to Fohrensee. Strange surmises were aroused, among the Fohrensee people; for it was known that she went to visit the cattle-dealer. The two were often seen standing before his house in the open street, gesticulating vehemently with hands and arms. The people about said,
“Something’s in the wind. They’re going to be married. To be sure she is cleverer than he, but then he is twenty-five years younger, and that counts for something.”
One evening in January, Judith met Blasi as he was coming round the corner of Gertrude’s house, where he was always at work till it was time to go for Veronica.
“What makes you go about laughing all the time, and looking as if you had been winning a game?” asked Judith.
“That’s exactly what I was going to ask you,” retorted Blasi, “What have you got to laugh about?”
“Answer me, and I’ll answer you, my lad.”
“All right; it’s nothing to be ashamed of. She’ll have me.”
“Good heavens!” exclaimed Judith “Who? Which one?”
Blasi did not turn round, but pointed with his thumb over his shoulder at the house he had just left. “That one,” he said.
Judith shouted with laughter.
“Will she have you all three?” she said; “first Dietrich, then Jost, and now you.”
“I don’t see the joke,” said Blasi crossly. “Dietrich has run away; she avoids Jost as if he were a nettle, and who else is there? Who is there for her to call upon if she wants help, hey?”
Judith was still snickering over the news.
“Now it’s your turn,” said Blasi, “tell me what it is that you’re so pleased about.”
“It is very much like yours, Blasi; come a little nearer,” and she whispered in his ear, “I have him.”
“Mercy on us!” cried Blasi. “You will be as rich as a Jew, for the cattle-dealer is worth more than half the people in Fohrensee, all put together.”
“I’m not talking about the cattle-dealer.”
“Pshaw! whom are you talking about then?”
“Somebody else, and I have him in such a fashion that he will not forget it in a hurry, I tell you!”
As she spoke, Judith made a gesture with her hands as if she were choking some one, who certainly would not escape alive from her clutches.
Blasi shook his head and walked on in silence. But in his inmost mind he thought, “I can’t make anything out of her; her head is all in a buzz. But she’s only a woman.”