Veronica was convinced that the letter she was in search of lay before her. So Jost had written as she had expected he would do, the day before. He had undoubtedly seen that Dietrich’s letter had been opened. Did he write so promptly in order to frighten Dietrich into going farther away? Had he suggested to him a new address now that the old one had been discovered? She felt sure that Jost was trying to prevent anyone but himself from having any communication with Dietrich. There was not a moment to lose. What would she not have given to be able to withhold the letter! But she did not dare. She returned it to the postmaster and asked for a piece of paper. Her hand trembled with excitement and her heart beat so loud, that she thought the post-master must hear it.
She wrote the following words:
“Dear Dietrich; your mother is very weak. Come home directly. You have nothing to fear. Veronica.”
She enveloped it, and addressed it as Jost had done his, and handed it to the post-master.
“I thank you very much indeed,” she said, “will you kindly see that this letter goes by this morning’s mail?”
“Yes, yes, I understand; it’s a thread-and-needle business,” he said laughing, as he threw the letters down on the same pile. “They will travel side by side and reach Hamburg together.”
All day Veronica’s hand trembled at her work. Outwardly she was tranquil and composed; but within was a storm of conjectures, fears and hopes. What had Jost written to Dietrich about his mother; what about her? Jost had evidently let him believe that he had killed a man. What reason had Jost for deceiving him and keeping him at a distance? These questions brought the color to Veronica’s cheeks as she suspected what the answers might be. Did Jost think that she would marry him if Dietrich did not come back? or were there other reasons why he did not dare to let him come? All sorts of possible solutions flew through Veronica’s head, and the conclusion she arrived at frightened her. She did not wish to suspect any one of being a rogue without good reason; yet the evidence seemed in this case to be irresistible. If Dietrich came home, everything would be cleared up. But if he did not come, what then? Would everything have to be allowed to go on as it was? She would talk it all over with Gertrude this very evening.
The motto proves true.
Veronica for once did not carry out her plans. When she reached home she found Gertrude in a high fever. She spoke to Veronica as if she were still a child, and had just come in from school. Veronica sat quietly down by the bedside, and did what she could to soothe and refresh her, and when by degrees her mother’s mind became more clear, she proposed to her to send for the doctor. But Gertrude did not want the doctor. She had no pain, she said;