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- Barbara Blomberg, Volume 10. - 2/13 -
could be heard of her child.
Many provisions of the imperial will were known, but there was no mention of her son. Yet Charles could not have forgotten him, and Adrian protested that it would soon appear that he had not omitted him in his last will, and this was done in a manner which indicated that he knew more than he would or could confess.
All this increased Barbara's impatience to the highest degree, and induced her to watch and question with twofold zeal. On no account would she have left the capital during this period of decision, and, though her husband earnestly entreated her to go to the springs, whose waters had proved so beneficial, she remained in Brussels.
In August she saw King Philip set out for Spain, and Margaret of Parma, her son's sister, assume the government of the Netherlands as regent.
On various occasions she succeeded in obtaining a near view of the stately-lady, with her clever; kindly and, spite of the famous down on her upper lip, by no means unlovely features, and her attractive appearance gave Barbara courage to request an audience, in order to learn from her something about her child. But the effort was vain, for the duchess had had no news of the existence of a second son of her father; and this time it was Granvelle who prevented the regent from receiving the woman who would probably have spoken to her of the boy concerning whose fate King Philip had yet reached no determination.
Barbara spent the month of October in depression caused by this fresh disappointment, but it, too, passed without bringing her any satisfaction.
It seemed almost foolish to lull herself further with ambitious expectations, but the hope a mother's heart cherishes for her child does not die until its last throb; and if the Emperor Charles's will did not give her John his rights, then the gracious Virgin would secure them, if necessary, by a miracle.
Her faithful clinging to hope was rewarded, for when one day, with drooping head, she returned home from another futile errand, she found Hannibal Melas there, as bearer of important news.
The Emperor's last will had a codicil, which concerned a son of his Majesty; but, a few days before his end, Charles had also remembered Barbara, and commissioned Ogier Bodart, Adrian's successor, to buy a life annuity for her in Brussels. Hannibal had learned all this from secret despatches received by Granvelle the day before. Informing her of their contents might cost him his place; but how often she had entreated him to think of her if any news came from Valladolid of a boy named Geronimo or John, and how much kindness she had showed him when he was only a poor choir boy!
At last, at last the most ardent desire of the mother's heart was to be fulfilled. She saw in the codicil the bridge which would lead her son to splendour and magnificence, and up to the last hour of his life the Emperor Charles had also remembered her.
She felt not only relieved of a burden, but as if borne on wings. Which of these two pieces of news rendered her the happier, she could not have determined. Yet she did not once think of the addition to her income. What was that in comparison to the certainty that to the last Charles did not forget her!
It made her husband happy to see her sunny cheerfulness. Never had she played and romped with the children in such almost extravagant mirth. Nay, more! For the first time the officer's modest house echoed with the singing of its mistress.
Though her voice was no longer so free from sharpness and harshness as in the old days, it by no means jarred upon the ear; nay, every tone revealed its admirable training. She had broken the long silence with Josquin's motet, "Quia amore langueo," and in her quiet chamber dedicated it, as it were, to the man to whom this cry of longing had been so dear. Then, in memory of and gratitude to him, other religious songs which he had liked to hear echoed from her lips.
The little German ballads which she afterward sang, to the delight of her boys, deeply moved her husband's heart, and she herself found that it was no insult to art when, with the voice that she now possessed, she again devoted herself to the pleasure of singing.
If the codicil brought her son what she desired, she could once more, if her voice lost the sharpness which still clung to it, serve her beloved art as a not wholly unworthy priestess, and then, perchance, she would again possess the right, so long relinquished, of calling herself happy.
She would go the next day to Appenzelder, who always greeted her kindly when they met in the street, and ask his advice.
If only Wolf had been there!
He understood how to manage women's voices also, and could have given her the best directions how to deal with the new singing exercises.
It seemed as though in these days not one of her wishes remained unfulfilled, for the very next afternoon, just as she was dressing to call upon the leader of the boy choir, the servant announced a stranger.
A glad presentiment hurried her into the vestibule, and there stood Sir Wolf Hartschwert in person, an aristocratic cavalier in his black Spanish court costume. He had become a man indeed, and his appearance did not even lack the "sosiego," the calm dignity of the Castilian noble, which gave Don Louis Quijada so distinguished an appearance.
True, his greeting was more eager and cordial than the genuine "sosiego" --which means "repose"--would have permitted. Even the manner in which Wolf expressed his pleasure in the new melody of Barbara's voice, and whispered an entreaty to send the children and Frau Lamperi--who came to greet him--away for a short time, was anything but patient.
What had he in view?
Yet it must be something good.
When the light shone through her flower-decked window upon his face, she thought she perceived this by the smile hovering around his lips. She was not mistaken, nor did she wait long for the joyous tidings she expected; his desire to tell her what, with the exception of the regent-- to whom his travelling companion, the Grand Prior Don Luis de Avila, was perhaps just telling it as King Philip's envoy--no human being in the Netherlands could yet know, was perhaps not much less than hers to hear it.
Scarcely an hour before he had dismounted in Brussels with the nobleman, and his first visit was to her, whom his news must render happy, even happier than it did him and the woman in the house near the palace, whose heart cherished the Emperor's son scarcely less warmly than his own mother's.
On the long journey hither he had constantly anticipated the pleasure of telling every incident in succession, just as it had happened; but Barbara interrupted his first sentence with an inquiry how her John was faring.
"He is so well that scarcely ever has any boy in the happiest time of his life fared better," was the reply; and its purport, as well as the tone in which it was uttered, entered Barbara's heart like angels' greetings from the wide-open heavens. But Wolf went on with his report, and when, in spite of hundreds of questions, he at last completed the main points, his listener staggered, as if overcome by wine, to the image of the Virgin on the pilaster, and with uplifted hands threw herself on her knees before it.
Wolf, unobserved, silently stole away.
The following afternoon Wolf sought Barbara again, and now for the first time succeeded in relating regularly and clearly what, constantly interrupted by her impatience, he had told in a confused medley the day before. Pyramus, as usual, was away, and Barbara had taken care that no one should interrupt them.
Deep silence pervaded the comfortable room, and Wolf had seated himself in the arm-chair opposite to the young wife when, at her entreaty, he began to tell the story again. She had informed him of Dona Magdalena's letter, and that it took her to the Emperor's residence in San Yuste. At that point her friend's fresh tidings began.
In the spring of the previous year Wolf had again been summoned from Valladolid, where in the winter he directed the church singing as prinnen of the religious music, to Cuacos, near San Yuste, where Quijada's wife lived with her foster-son Geronimo. From there he had often gone with Dona Magdalena and the boy to the Emperor's residence, and frequently saw him.
The account given in the letter written by Quijada's wife also applied to the last months of the imperial recluse's existence. Doubtless he sometimes devoted himself to pious exercises and quiet meditation, but he was usually busied with political affairs and the reading and dictating of despatches. Even at that time he received many visitors. When Geronimo came from Cuacos, he was permitted to go in and out of his apartments freely, and the Emperor even seemed to prefer him to Don Carlos, his grandson, King Philip's only son, who was destined to become the head of his house; at least, Charles's conduct favoured this opinion.
On his return to Spain he had made his grandson's acquaintance in Valladolid.
He was a boy who had well-formed, somewhat sickly features, and a fragile body. Of course the grandfather felt the deepest interest in him, and the influence of the famous victor in so many battles upon the twelve- year-old lad was a most beneficial one.
But Charles had scarcely left Valladolid when the passionate boy's extremely dangerous tastes burst forth with renewed violence. The recluse student of human nature had probably perceived them, for when his tutor, and especially the young evildoer's aunt, Juana, the Emperor Charles's daughter, earnestly entreated him to let the grandson, whose presence would disturb him very little, come to San Yuste, because his influence over Don Carlos would be of priceless value, the grandfather most positively refused the request.
On the other hand, the Emperor had not only tolerated his son Geronimo near him, but rejoiced in his presence, for the quiet sufferer's eyes had sparkled when he saw him. Wolf himself had often witnessed this delightful sight.
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