Barbara Blomberg by Georg Ebers
Pyramus Kogel, on his return, saw nothing of the deep impression which Wolf's visit had made upon Barbara. She merely mentioned it, and carelessly said that the friend of her youth had been delighted with the children.
The news that reached her ears about what was happening in the world awakened her interest, it is true, but she took no trouble to ask for tidings. When, the following year, her husband informed her that the Emperor's only son was about to conclude a second marriage, with Mary Tudor, of England, and Charles was to commit to Philip the sovereignty of the Netherlands, Spain, Naples, and Milan, she received it as if she had already known it.
What she learned through the neighbours of the increasing number of executions of obdurate heretics she deemed the wise measures of a devout and conscientious government.
To the children Barbara was a careful mother. She rarely went to visit the Dubois couple. Frau Traut either could not or was not allowed to tell her anything about her child, except that he was thriving under the maternal care of Dona Magdalena, to whom he had been confided.
The next winter, during which Charles reached his fifty-fourth year, his health failed so noticeably that the physicians despaired of his recovery. The Brabant palace was constantly besieged by people of all classes inquiring about the condition of the still honoured and by many deeply beloved monarch, and Barbara almost daily asked for news of him. She usually entered the palace clad in black and closely veiled, for she had many acquaintances among the attendants.
Adrian was inaccessible, because his master could not spare him a single hour, but she saw his substitute, Ogier Bodart, who had served the Emperor in Ratisbon. From him she learned how the sufferer passed the night, how the day promised, and whether the physician's opinion awakened hope or fear. He even told her that his Majesty was occupying himself with his last will, the payment of his debts, the arrangement of the succession, and the choice of his burial place.
All this occupied Barbara's mind so deeply, and the long waiting to see Bodart often robbed her of so much time, that her housewifely and maternal duties suffered, yet her patient husband endured it a long while indulgently. But once, when he summoned up courage and cautiously blamed her, she quietly admitted that he was right, but added that she had never concealed from him the tie which bound her to the Emperor Charles, and now that Death was stretching his hand toward him, she must be permitted to obtain news of his welfare.
The strong man silenced his dissatisfaction, and placed no obstacles in her way. He was grateful for the maternal solicitude which she showed the children.
His kindly nature secretly approved of her spending a longer time in the Cathedral of St. Gudule than usual, praying for the royal sufferer who was so seriously ill. The man whom she could not forget was dying and, moreover, was his sovereign.
Spring at last brought an improvement in the monarch's health, and with it Barbara's return to her household duties.
A great change took place in the Dubois home during the spring after Charles's convalescence. The exhausting care of the Emperor had made Adrian seriously ill and, in spite of the objections and bitter complaints of his beloved and honoured master and his own desire to continue in his service, he was forced to resign his office, which was committed to his assistant Bodart.
One day Barbara met Dr. Mathys at the ex-valet's sick-bed. The kindly leech was amazed at her youthful appearance, and also at the obstinacy of her throat ailment; but he encouraged her, for he had recently seen marvellous effects produced by the old Roman baths at Ems, which were not difficult to reach, and advised her to use them as soon as possible. She must inform him of the result, if he was permitted to visit the Netherlands again.
Then Barbara asked if he intended to leave the master whose life was preserved by his skill; but he only shook his big head, smiling, and said that the Emperor and he belonged together, like the soul and the body, but whether his Majesty would remain in Brabant much longer was an open question.
Barbara now remembered Wolf's communication, and when the rumour spread that the Emperor Charles was inclined to give up his rulership and commit the sceptre and crown to his son Philip, she knew that this time also Charles would execute the plan which he had matured after years of consideration.
Through her friend she knew the motives which urged him to renounce power and grandeur and retire to solitude; but to her it seemed certain that, above all other reasons, longing for the fair, curly-headed boy, his son and hers, had induced him to take this great and admirable step.
Gradually her maternal heart attributed to her John alone the desire of the world-weary earthly pilgrim to lay aside the purple and return to Spain.
Though Barbara at this time rarely left her own fireside, her husband might often have wished that she would return to the conduct of the previous winter, for he perceived the torturing anxiety which was consuming her.
She could gaze for hours into vacancy, absorbed in profound meditation and reveries, or play on the harp and lute, softly humming old songs to herself. If at such times Pyramus asked, lovingly and modestly, that he might not expose himself to an angry rebuff, what was burdening her soul, his wife gave evasive answers or told him about the physician's advice, and described how different the lives of both would be if she could regain the lost melody of her voice. But when he, who did not grudge the woman he loved the very best of everything, joyfully offered from his savings the sum necessary to send her and Frau Lamperi to Ems, in order, if possible, to commence the cure at once, she asserted that, for many reasons, she could not begin this summer the treatment which promised so much. True, the bare thought that if might once again be allotted to her to raise her heart in song filled her with the same blissful hope as ever; but if the report, which constantly grew more definite, did not deceive, the Emperor's formal abdication was close at hand, and to attend this great event seemed to her a duty of the heart, a necessity which she could not avoid. In many a quiet hour she told herself that Charles, when he had divested himself of all his honours and become a mere man like the rest of the world, would draw nearer to her boy, and through him to her. As an ordinary mortal, he would be able to love, like every other father, the child that attracted him to Spain. If in his life of meditation, far from the tumult of the world, the strife for knowledge should lead him to look back into the past, and in doing so he again recalled the days to which he owed his greatest happiness, could he help remembering her and her singing?
How often she had heard that the knowledge of self was the highest goal of thought to the philosopher, and as such Charles would certainly retire into seclusion, and, as surely as she desired to be saved, he had wronged her and must then perceive it. Probably there were thousands of more important things in which he had to bury himself, but the boy would remind him of her and the injury which he had done.
Never had she more deeply admired the grandeur of her imperial lover, and with entire confidence she believed that this stupendous act of renunciation would mark the beginning of a new life for her and her child.
September and the first half of October passed like a fevered dream.
The abdication would certainly take place,
Charles had resolved to transfer all the crowns which adorned him to his son Philip, and retire to a Spanish monastery.
Barbara also learned when and where the solemn ceremony was to take place. Day after day she again mingled with the visitors to the palace, and on the twenty-first of October she saw the eleven Knights of the Golden Fleece, to whom he wished to restore the office of grand master, enter the palace chapel.
How magnificently these greatest of all dignitaries were attired! how all that she saw of this rare event in the palace chapel reminded her of the solemn ceremonial at the Trausnitzburg at Landshut, and her resolve to surrender her child, that it might possess the same splendour and honours as its sister's husband!
The wishes cherished at that time were still unfulfilled; but the father would soon meet the son again, and the greater affection this peerless boy aroused in Charles, the more surely he would know how to bestow on him honours as high or higher than he gave the daughter of Johanna Van der Gheynst.
Five days after the assembling of the Knights of the Golden Fleece, the solemn ceremony of the abdication would take place in the great hall which joined the palace chapel.
She must obtain admittance to it. Her husband did what he could to aid her and soothe her excitement by the gratification of so ardent a wish, but his efforts were vain.
Barbara herself, however, did not remain idle, and tried her fortune with those of high and low estate whom she had known in the past.
She could not trust to forcing her way in on the day of the ceremony of abdication, for every place in the limited space assigned to spectators had been carefully allotted, and no one would be permitted to enter the palace without a pass. When, after many a futile errand, she had been refused also by the lord chamberlain, she turned her steps to Baron Malfalconnet's palace.
He had just swung himself into the saddle, and Barbara found him greatly changed. The handsome major-domo had grown gray, his bright face was wrinkled, and his smiling lips now wore a new, disagreeable, almost cruel expression of mockery. He probably recognised his visitor at once, but the meeting seemed scarcely to afford him pleasure. Nevertheless, he listened to her.
But as soon as he heard what she desired, he straightened himself in the saddle, and cried: "When I wished to present you to his Majesty--do you remember?--at Ratisbon, you hastily wheeled your horse and vanished. Now, when you desire to bid farewell to our sovereign lord, I dutifully follow the example you then set me."
As he spoke he put spurs to his horse and, kissing his hand to her, dashed away. Barbara, wounded and disappointed, gazed after the pitiless scoffer.
She had knocked in vain where she might hope for consideration; only the young man of middle height who, carrying a portfolio under his arm, now approached her and raised his black secretary's cap, had been omitted, though he, too, was one of the old Ratisbon friends, and his position with the Bishop of Arras gave him a certain influence.
It was the little Maltese choir boy, Hannibal Melas, who owed so much to her recommendation.
He asked sympathizingly what troubled her and, after Barbara had confided to him what she had hitherto vainly desired, he referred her unasked to his omnipotent master, who was to enter King Philip's service, and proposed that she should come to his office early the next morning. Thence he would try to take her to the minister, who had by no means forgotten her superb singing. His Eminence had mentioned her kindly very recently in a conversation with the leech.
The following morning Barbara went to the great statesman's business offices. Hannibal was waiting for her.
It was on Saint Raphael's day, which had attracted his fellow-clerks to a festival in the country. Granvelle had given the others leave of absence, but wished to keep within call the industrious Maltese, on whose zeal he could always rely.
Without stopping his diligent work at the writing-desk, the secretary begged Barbara to wait a short time. He would soon finish the draught of the new edict for which his Eminence and the Councillor Viglius were waiting in the adjoining chamber. The pictures on the walls of the fourth room were worth looking at.
Barbara followed his advice, but she paused in the third room, for through the partly open door she heard Granvelle's familiar voice.
Curious to see what changes time had wrought, she peered through the by no means narrow crack and overlooked the minister's spacious office, where he was now entirely alone with the Councillor Viglius.
The Bishop of Arras had scarcely altered since their last meeting, only his appearance had become somewhat more stately, and his clever, handsome face was fuller.
The Councillor Viglius, whom Barbara looked directly in the face, did not exactly profit by the contrast with Granvelle, for the small figure of the Frieslander barely reached to the chin of the distinguished native of tipper Burgundy, but his head presented a singular and remarkably vivid colouring. The perfectly smooth hair and thick beard of this no longer young man were saffron yellow, and his plump face was still red and white as milk and blood. It was easy to perceive by his whole extremely striking appearance that he was rightly numbered among the Emperor's shrewdest councillors. Barbara had heard marvellous tales of his learning, and it was really magnificent in compass and far more important than his keen but narrow mind. This time the loquacious man was allowing the Bishop of Arras to speak, and Barbara listened to his words and the councillor's answers with eager attention.
They were talking about the approaching abdication, and who knew the Emperor Charles better than these far-seeing men, who were so near his person?
If only she had not been obliged to believe this, for what she heard from them showed in sombre lines what her heart had clothed with golden radiance.
Everything Wolf had told her concerning the motives which induced Charles to devote himself for the remainder of his life to quiet contemplation seemed to her as credible as to the knight himself. But he had received what he knew from Queen Mary of Hungary, who interpreted her royal brother's conduct like an affectionate sister, or thought it advisable to represent it in the most favourable light.
It had not occurred to the warm-hearted, straightforward Wolf to doubt the royal lady's statement; but Barbara had regarded her friend's explanation of the Emperor's wonderful act of renunciation as she would have gazed at a citadel founded on a rock with towers rising to the clouds, and in imagination had followed to his solitude the world-weary philosopher, the father yearning for the child he had missed so long. But how pitilessly what she heard here overthrew the proud edifice! how cruelly it destroyed what she had deemed worthy of the greatest admiration, what had rendered her happy and reanimated her wishes and her hopes!
The wise Granvelle foresaw how the world would judge his master's abdication, and described it to the Frieslander. It bore a fateful resemblance to the regent's interpretation, her friend's opinion, and her own, and the shrewd Viglius accompanied this narrative with so scornful a laugh that it made her heart ache.
"This is what will be said," concluded the Bishop of Arras, summing up his previous statements, "of the wise scorner of the world upon the throne, who cast aside sceptre and crown in order, as a pious recluse, to secure the salvation of his soul and, like a second Diogenes, to listen to the wealth of his thoughts and investigate the nature of things."
"If only the pure spring from which the Greek dipped water in the hollow of his hand was not changed to a cellar full of fiery wine, his hermit fare to highly seasoned pasties, stuffed partridges, frozen fruit juices, truffled pheasants, and such things! But everybody to his taste! The world will be deceived. Unless you wish to blind yourself, your Eminence, you will admit that I have seen correctly the most powerful motives for this unequalled act."
Barbara saw the bishop shake his head in dissent and, while she was listening with strained ears to his explanation, Viglius, as if singing bass to Granvelle's tenor, repeated again and again at brief intervals, in a low tone, the one word, "Debts," while his green eyes sparkled, sometimes as if asking assent, sometimes combatively.
He believed that the weight of financial cares was causing the Emperor Charles's abdication. Like a wise man, he said, he would place his own burden of debt upon his son's shoulders. His Majesty usually uttered exactly the opposite of his real opinions, and therefore, in the outline of his abdication speech, he twice emphasized how great a debt of gratitude Don Philip owed him for the Heritage which while still alive he bequeathed to him. True, besides the debts, crowns and kingdoms in plenty passed to Charles's successor; but the father, so long as he drew breath, would not give up the decision of the most important questions of government, and therefore this abdication, after all, was merely an excellent means of divesting himself of burdensome obligations, embellished with a certain amount of humbug.
The Bishop of Arras made no weighty protest against this severe speech; nay, he even said, in a tone of assent, that the Emperor Charles's tireless intellect would continue to direct political events. Besides, he could safely commit the execution of his conclusions and commands to his obedient and dutiful heir.
"The world," he added, "will not fare badly by this arrangement; but you, Viglius, can not forget the religious liberty which his Majesty promised to the Germans."
"Not until the end of my life!" cried the Frieslander, his green eyes flashing angrily.
Granvelle protested that this act of indulgence weighed heavily upon him also; but at that time a refusal would have occasioned a new war, which, according to human judgment, would have resulted in loss and the establishment of heresy in the Netherlands. Maurice of Saxony, he reminded the councillor, did not fall until a year later, and then as a conqueror, on the battlefield.
His Majesty's abdication, he went on with calm deliberation, was, however, not exactly as Viglius supposed. The desire to rid himself of troublesome debts had only hastened the Emperor's resolution. The principal motive for this momentous act he could state most positively to be the increasing burden of his physical sufferings. To this was added the feeling, usually found most frequently among gamblers, that the time to win or, in his Majesty's case, to succeed was past. Lastly, Charles really did long for less disturbance from the regular course of business, the reception of ambassadors, the granting of audiences.
"In short," he concluded, "he wants to have an easier life, and, besides, if the despatches and orders leave him time for it, to occupy himself with his favourite amusements--his clocks and pieces of mechanism. Finally, his sufferings remind him often enough of the approach of death, and he hopes by religious exercises to secure his place in the kingdom of heaven."
"So far as politics and the table give him leisure for it," interposed the Frieslander. "He doesn't seem inclined to make his penance too severe. Quijada is now preparing the penitential cell, and it is neither in the burning Thebais nor in the arid sands of the desert, but in one of the most delightful and charming places in Spain. May our sovereign find there what he seeks! You are aware of the paternal joys which await him through the boy Geronimo?"
"Where did you learn that?" Granvelle interrupted in a startled tone, and Barbara held her breath and listened with twofold attention.
"From his Majesty himself," was the reply. "He intended his son for the monastery. He longs to see him again, because he is said to be developing magnificently; but he wished to know whether it would not be safer to remove him from the world before his arrival, for, if necessary, he could give up meeting him. If he should discover his father's identity, it might easily fill him with vanity, and in Villagarcia he was learning to prize knightly achievements above the service of the Most High. It would not do to leave him in the world; unpleasant things might come from it. As King Philip's sole heir was the sickly Don Carlos----"
"His son Geronimo might aspire to the crown," interrupted Granvelle. "He expressed the same doubts to me also. What I heard of the child induced me to plead that he might be allowed to grow up in the world untrammelled. If any one understands how to defend himself against unauthorized demands, it is Don Philip."
"So I, too, think, and advised," replied Viglius. "Poor boy! His father of late holds on to thalers more than anxiously and, if I am correctly informed, the education of his son has hitherto cost his Majesty no more expense than the maintenance of the mother. Wise economy, your Eminence! Or what shall it be called?"
"As you choose," replied the bishop in an irritated tone. "What do you know about the boy's mother?"
"Nothing," replied the Frieslander, "except what my friend Mathys told me lately. He said that before she lost her voice she was a perfect nightingale. She might recover it at Ems, and so the leech proposed to the Emperor to give her a sum of money for this purpose."
"And his Majesty?" asked Granvelle.
"Remained faithful to his habit of not sullying his reputation by extravagance," replied the Frieslander, laughing.
"Suffering, misfortune!" sighed Granvelle. "As a long period of rain produces fungi in the woods, so this terrible pair calls to life one pettiness after another in the rare man in whom once every trait of character was great and glorious. I knew the boy's mother. Many things might be said of her, among them good, nay, the best ones. As to the boy, his Majesty informed Don Philip of his existence. It was in Augsburg. He does not seem at all suited for the monastic life, and therefore I shall continue to strive to preserve him from it."
"And if his Majesty decides otherwise?"
"Then, of course--" answered Granvelle, shrugging his shoulders. "But the draught must be composed, and there are more important matters for us to discuss."
As he spoke he rang the bell on the table at his side, and Hannibal obeyed his master's summons. In doing so he passed Barbara, who started as if bewildered when she heard him approach.
He went up to her in great surprise, but ere he could utter the first words she clutched his arm, whispering: "I am going, Hannibal. His Eminence did not entirely forget me. If he can receive me, send word to my house."
Scarcely able to control herself, Barbara set out on her way home. The words she had heard had shaken the depths of her soul like an earthquake.
The news that Charles intended to confine in a monastery the boy whom she had given up to him that he might bestow upon him whatever lay within his imperial power poisoned her joy in the future. How often this man lead inflicted bleeding wounds upon her heart! Now he trampled it under his cruel feet. Two convictions had lent her the strength not to despair: she felt sure that his love for her could never have been extinguished had the power of her art aided her to warm Charles's heart, and she was still more positive that the father would raise to splendour and magnificence the boy whom she had given him.
He had refused the leech's request to help her regain the divine gift to which, according to his own confession, he owed the purest joys; and her strong, merry child he, its own father, condemned to disappear and wither in the imprisonment of a cloister. This must not be, and on her way home she formed plan after plan to prevent it.
Pyramus attributed her sometimes depressed, sometimes irritable manner to the disappointment of her wish.
What she had just learned and had had inflicted upon her filled her with hatred of life.
Her two boys scarcely dared to approach their mother, who, unlike her usual self, harshly rebuffed them.
At twilight Hannibal Melas appeared, full of joyous excitement. Granvelle sent Barbara word that the doorkeeper Mangin would show her a good seat. His Eminence desired to be remembered to her, and said that only those who had been closely associated with his Majesty would be admitted to this ceremony, and he knew that she ranked among the first of these.
Barbara's features brightened and, as she saw how happy it made the Maltese to be the bearer of so pleasant a message, she forced herself to give a joyous expression to her gratitude. In the evening, and during a sleepless night, she considered whether she should make use of the invitation. What she had expected for herself and her child from Charles's abdication had been mere chimeras of the brain, and what could this spectacle offer her? She would only behold with her eyes what she had often enough imagined with the utmost distinctness--the great monarch divested of his grandeur and all his dignities.
But Granvelle's message that she was one cf those who stood nearest to the abdicating sovereign constantly echoed in her ears, and her absence from this ceremony would have seemed to her unnatural--nay, an offence against something necessary.
Her husband was pleased with the great minister's kindness to his wife. He had nothing to do in the palace, but he intended to look for the children, who had gone there before noon with Frau Lamperi, that they might get the best possible view of the approach of the princes and dignitaries.
Barbara herself was to use a litter. The ex-'garde-robiere' had helped her put on her gala attire, and Pyramus assured his wife that every one would consider her the handsomest and most elegant lady in the galleries. She knew that he was right, and listened with pleasure, deeply as resentment and disappointment burdened her soul.
Then the knocker on the door rapped. The litter-bearers had probably come. But no! The Flemish maid, who had opened the door, announced that a messenger was waiting outside with a letter which he could deliver only to the master or the mistress.
Pyramus went into the entry, and his long absence was already making Barbara uneasy, when he returned with bowed head and, after many words of preparation, informed her that her father was very ill and, finally, that apoplexy had put a swift and easy end to his life.
Then a great and genuine grief seized upon her with all its power. Everything that the simple-hearted, lovable man, who had guarded her child hood so tenderly and her girlhood with such solicitude and devotion, had been to her, returned to her memory in all its vividness. In him she had lost the last person whose right to judge her conduct she acknowledged, the only one whom she had good reason to be sure cared for her welfare as much as, nay, perhaps more than, his own.
The litter, Granvelle's message, the Emperor's abdication ceremony, everything that had just wounded, angered, and disturbed her, was forgotten.
She gently refused the consolation of her husband, who in the captain had lost a dear friend and sincerely mourned his death, and entreated him to leave her alone; but when her sons returned and joyously described the magnificent spectacle on which they had feasted their eyes outside of the palace, she drew them toward her with special tenderness, and tried to make them understand that they would never again see the good grandfather who had loved them all so dearly.
But the older boy, Conrad, only gazed at her wonderingly, and asked why she was weeping; and the younger one did not understand her at all, and went on talking about the big soldier who wanted to lift him on his piebald horse. To the child death is only slumber, and life being awake to new games and pleasures.
Barbara said this to her husband when he wished to check the merry laughter of the little ones, and then went to her chamber.
There she strove to think of the dead man, and she succeeded, but with the memory of the sturdy old hero constantly blended the image of the feeble man who to-day was voluntarily surrendering all the gifts of fortune which she--oh, how willingly! would have received for the son whom he desired to withdraw from the world.
The next morning Hannibal Melas came to ask what had kept her from the ceremony. He learned it in the entry from Frau Lamperi, and Barbara's tearful eyes showed him what deep sorrow this loss had caused her. Her whole manner expressed quiet melancholy. This great, pure grief had come just at the right time, flowing, like oil upon the storm-lashed waves, over hatred, resentment, and all the passionate emotions by which she had previously been driven to the verge of despair.
She did not repulse the witness of her lost happiness, and listened attentively while Hannibal told her about the memorable ceremony which he had attended.
True, his description of the lofty hall in the Brabant palace where it took place, the chapel adjoining it, and the magnificent decorations of flowers and banners that adorned it, told nothing new to Barbara. She was familiar with both, and had seen them garlanded, adorned with flags and coats of arms, and even witnessed the erection of the stage in the hall and the stretching of the canopy above it.
The Emperor had appeared upon the platform at the stroke of three, leaning upon his crutch and the shoulder of William of Orange. His son Philip and the Queen of Hungary followed, and all took their seats upon the gilded thrones awaiting them. The blithe, pleasant Archduke Maximilian of Austria, the Duke of Savoy, who was expecting a great winning card in the game of luck of his changeful life, the Knights of the Golden Fleece, and the highest of the Netherland nobles, the councillors, the governor, and the principal military officers also had places upon the stage.
Barbara knew every name that Hannibal mentioned. It seemed as if she saw the broken-down Emperor, his son Philip with his head haughtily thrown back, his favourite, the omnipotent minister, Ruy Gomez, the Prince of Eboli, who with his coal-black hair and beard would have resembled Quijada if, instead of the soldierly frankness of the major-domo, an uneasy, questioning expression had not lurked in his dark eyes, the brilliant Bishop of Arras, who had again so kindly placed her under obligation to him, and the Frieslander Viglius, who had dropped into her soul the wormwood whose bitterness she still tasted, and whose motto, "The life of mortals is a watch in the night," seemed to flash from his green eyes. Not a single woman had been admitted to the distinguished assembly of the States-General, the city magistrates, and illustrious invited guests, who as spectators sat on benches and chairs opposite to the stage, and this placed the kindness of Granvelle, whom the Netherland dignitaries were said to detest, in a still brighter light.
The ceremony had been opened by the great speech of Philibert of Brussels, which the young Maltese described as a masterpiece of the finest rhetorical art. At the close of this address a solemn silence pervaded the hall, for the Emperor Charles had risen to take leave of his faithful subjects.
One might have heard a leaf fall, a spicier walk, as, supported by the arm of William of Orange, he raised the notes of his address and began to read.
At this information Barbara remembered how Maurice of Saxony had supported the Emperor at the May festival at Prebrunn. William of Orange, too, was still young. She had often seen him, and what deep earnestness rested on his noble brow! how open and pure was the glance of his clear eyes, yet how penetrating and inexorably keen it could also be! She had noticed this at the assembly of the Knights of the Golden Fleece, when he looked at King Philip with bitter hate or certainly with dislike and scorn. Was this man chosen to avenge Charles's sins upon his son and heir? Could the Prince of Orange be destined to deal with the new king as Maurice of Saxony had treated his imperial father? Would the resentment which, since the day before, had again filled her soul have permitted her to prevent it had she possessed the power?
The Emperor's speech had treated of his broken health and the necessity of living in a milder climate. Then Don Philip had been described by his father as a successor whose wisdom equalled his experience. This called a smile to Barbara's lips.
Philip was said to be an industrious, devout man, fond of letter-writing, and full of intrigue, but only his father would venture to compare him with himself, with Charles V.
He, the son, probably knew how vacant and lustreless his eyes were, for he usually fixed them on the ground; and what fulness of life, what a fiery soul had sparkled only a short time ago, when she saw him in the distance, from those of the man whom she certainly was not disposed to flatter!
Then the Emperor had reviewed his whole reign, mentioned how many wars he had waged, how many victories he had won and, finally, had reminded his son of the gratitude he owed a father who during his lifetime bestowed all his possessions upon him and, as it were, descended into the grave in order to make him earlier the heir of all his power and wealth.
Now Barbara fancied that again--she knew not for what hundredth time--the Frieslander's exclamation, "Debts! debts!" rang in her ears, and at the same time she thought of the boy in Spain who had here been disinherited, and must be hidden in a monastery that the other son of the same father, the diminutive upstart Philip, puffed up with arrogance, might sleep more quietly. For one son the unjust man whom she loved was ready to die before his last hour came, in order to give him all that he possessed; for the other he could find nothing save a monk's cowl. Instead of the yearning for John, of which Wolf had spoken and she, blind fool, believed, he thought of him with petty fears of the claims by which he might injure his favoured brother. No warm impulse of paternal tenderness stirred the breast of the man whose heart was hardened, who understood how to divest himself of the warmest love as he now cast aside the crown and the purple of royalty.
These torturing thoughts so powerfully affected Barbara that she only half heard what Hannibal was saying about the Emperor's admonition to his son to hold fast to justice, law, and the Catholic Church. But when Granvelle's faithful follower, in an agitated tone, went on to relate how Charles had besought the forgiveness of Providence for all the sins and errors which he had committed, and added that he would remember all who had rendered him happy by their love and obedience in every prayer which he addressed to the Being to whom the remnant of his life should be devoted, the ex-singer's breath came quicker, her small hands clinched, and the question whether she had failed in love and obedience before he basely cast her off forced itself upon her mind, and with it the other, whether he would also include in his prayers her whom he had ill-treated and mortally insulted.
These thoughts lent her features so gloomy an expression that it would have offended the Emperor Charles's ardent admirer if he had noticed it. But the scene which, with tears in his eyes, he now described absorbed his attention so completely that he forgot everything around him and, as it were, gazed into his own soul while picturing to himself and his listener how the monarch, with a pallid, ashen countenance, had sunk back upon his throne and wept like a child.
At this spectacle the whole assembly, even the sternest old general, had been overwhelmed by deep emotion, and the spacious hall echoed with the sobs and groans of graybeards, middle-aged men and youths, warriors and statesmen.
Here the young man's voice failed and, weeping, with unfeigned emotion he covered his agitated face with his handkerchief.
When he regained his composure he saw, with a shade of disappointment, that Barbara's eyes had remained dry during the description of an event in which he himself and so many stronger men had shed burning tears.
Yet, when Barbara was again alone she could not drive from her mind the image of her broken-down, weeping lover. Doubtless she often felt moved to think of him with deep pity; but she soon remembered the conversation to which she had listened in the apartments of the Bishop of Arras, and her belief in the genuineness of those tears vanished.