“Do you mean to be a gentleman like the doctor, and own a horse, Dietrich?” asked the mother.
The boy nodded.
“So you can, if you will work hard for it, and stick to your work well. You see the doctor had to do that for a long time, and has to do it still, and if you stick to your work as he has, and never stop nor get tired till it is done, and well done, then you will be a gentleman, even if you are not a doctor. It doesn’t matter what you do; you may be a gentleman if you persevere and work hard and faithfully.”
“Yes, with a horse,” said Dietrich.
The little girl had been listening intently to every word of this conversation. Her black eyes blazed out suddenly as she looked up to Gertrude and said decidedly,
“I’ll be one too.”
“Yes, Yes, Mr. Veronica! Mr. Veronica! that sounds well,” cried Dietrich, and he laughed aloud at the idea.
Veronica thought it no laughing matter, however. She pressed Gertrude’s hand firmly and looked up with glowing eyes, as she said, “I can be one too, can’t I mother; say?”
“You should not laugh, Dietrich,” said his mother kindly. “Veronica can be exactly what you can be. If she works steadily, and does not grow tired and careless, but keeps on till her work is finished and well finished, she will be a lady as you will be a gentleman.”
Veronica trotted along contentedly after this explanation. She did not speak again. The frowning brows were smoothed and the fiery eyes now shone with the light of childish joy as she caught sight of the first flowers that began to peep above the ground. The child’s face looked fairly charming now; her well-formed features framed by the dark locks, made a beautiful picture.
Dietrich was also silent: but he was pursuing the same train of thought, for he broke out presently,
“Will she have a horse too?”
“Why not, as well as you. It all depends on how steadily and how faithfully you both work,” replied Gertrude.
“Well, then, we shall have two horses,” cried the boy, joyfully. “Where shall we put the stable, mother?”
“We can see to that bye and bye, there is plenty of time for that. It won’t do for you to be thinking about the horse all the time, you know, you must keep your mind on your work if you mean to do it well.”
Dieterli said no more. He was busy trying to decide on which side of the house it would be best to put the stable.
That night, Gertrude again hurried down the hill to the doctor’s houses and this time she brought him back with her.
Her husband’s illness had taken a turn for the worse, and the next day he died.
With fresh courage.
A few days later a numerous company of mourners followed another black bier to the sunny church-yard.
Steffan, the saddler, had been universally respected. He had begun life modestly; there had been no large industries in Tannenegg in his early days. He married the quiet and orderly Gertrude, who worked with him at his trade, and helped support the frugal household. Soon the flood of prosperity invaded Fohrensee, and naturally the only saddler in the vicinity had his hands full of work.