“You must not speak so, Dietrich. I belong to you both, and you both belong to me.”
In general, the two children were excellent friends, and completely inseparable. They were not happy unless they shared everything together and wherever one went, the other must go too. They went regularly to school every morning, and were always joined by two of the neighbors’ children, who went with them.
These were, the son of the shoemaker, long, bony Jost, with his little, cunning eyes,—and the sexton’s boy, who was as broad as he was long, and from whose round face two pale eyes peered forth upon the world, in innocently stupid surprise. His name was Blasius, nicknamed Blasi.
Often, on the way to school, quarrels arose between Dieterli and the two other boys. It would occur to one of them to try what Veronica would do if he were to give her a blow with his fist. Scarcely had he opened his attack when he found himself lying on his nose, while Dieterli played a vigorous tattoo on his back with no gentle fists. Or the sport would be to plant a good hard snow-ball between Veronica’s shoulders, with the mortifying result to the aggressive boy, of being pelted in the face with handfuls of wet snow, until he was almost stifled, and cried out for mercy. Dieterli was not afraid of either of them; for though smaller and thinner than either, he was also much more lithe, and could glide about like a lizard before, behind and all around his adversaries, and slip through their fingers while they were trying to catch him. Veronica was well avenged, and went on the rest of her way without fear of molestation. If one of the other lads felt in a friendly mood, and wished to act as escort to the little girl, Dieterli soon gave him to understand that that was his own place, and he would give it up to no one.
Every evening “Cousin Judith” came for a little visit, to give Gertrude some friendly advice about the children, or the household economy. She used to say that the gentle widow needed some one now and then to show claws in her behalf, and Judith knew herself to be in full possession of claws, and of the power to use them, an accomplishment of which she was somewhat proud. One evening she crossed over between daylight and dark, and entered the room where Veronica was, with her favorite plaything in her hand, moving it back and forth as she sat in the window in the waning light. She could read very nicely now for two years had passed since she had lost her own mother, and had become Gertrude’s child. Many a time had she read over the motto which shone out so mysteriously from the breast of the opened rose. To-day she was poring over it again, and her absorption in “that same old rose,” as Dieterli called it, had so annoyed the lively lad that he left her, and had gone out into the kitchen to find his mother. When Judith saw the girl sitting thus alone, buried in thought, she asked her what she was thinking about in the twilight all by herself.