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- Barbara Blomberg, Volume 10. - 3/13 -

How Barbara's heart swelled, how eagerly she listened, as Wolf described how well founded was his Majesty's affection for this beautiful, extremely lovable, docile, true-hearted, and, moreover, frank, boy!

True, he showed as yet little taste for knowledge and all that can be learned from books; but he devoted himself with fiery zeal to the knightly exercises which since his Majesty's death Quijada himself was directing, and in which he promised to become a master. Besides, by appealing to his ambition, he could be induced to put forth all his powers, and, if his teachers aimed at what they studiously omitted, it would not be difficult to make a scholar of him.

He had not remained unnoticed by any of the great lords who had sought the Emperor in Sal Yuste and met him. The Venetian ambassador Bodoaro, had asked the name of the splendid young noble.

Even when Death was already stretching hi hand toward the Emperor, he was still overburdened with business, and the heretical agitation which was discovered at that time in Spain had caused him much sorrow, especially as men and women whom he knew personally, belonging to the distinguished families of Posa and De Rojas, has taken part in it.

The monarch's end came more quickly than was expected. He had been unable to attend the auto-da-fe at which the heretics were committed to the flames. He would have done so gladly, and after this mournful experience even regretted that he had granted the German misleader, Luther, the safe conduct promised.

Before a fatal weakness suddenly attacked him his health had been rather better than before; then his voice failed, and Quijada was compelled to kneel beside his bed that he might understand what he wished to impress upon him. While doing so, the dying man had expressed the desire that Don Luis would commend Geronimo to the love of his son Philip.

He had also remembered the love of better days, and when Barbara insisted upon learning what he had said of her, Wolf, who had heard it from Don Luis, did not withhold it.

He had complained of her perverse nature. Had she obediently gone to the convent, he might have spared himself and her the sorrow of holding her so rigidly aloof from his person. Finally, he had spoken of her singing with rapturous delight. At night the "Quia amore langueo" from the Mary motet had echoed softly from his lips, and when he perceived that Don Luis had heard him, he murmured that this peerless cry of longing, reminded him not of the earthly but the heavenly love.

At these words Barbara hid her face in her hands, and Wolf paused until she had controlled the sobs which shook her breast.

Then he went on, she listening devoutly with wet eyes and clasped hands.

The Archbishop of Toledo was summoned, and predicted that Charles would die on the day after to-morrow, St. Matthew's day. He was born on St. Matthias's day, and he would depart from life on St. Matthew's,-- [September 12, 1558]--Matthias's brother and fellow-disciple.

So it was, and Barbara remembered that his son and hers had also seen the light of the world on St. Matthias's day.

Charles's death-agony was severe. When Dr. Mathys at last said softly to those who were present, "Jam moritur,"--[Now he is dying]--the loud cry "Jesus!" escaped his lips, and he sank back upon the pillows lifeless.

Here Wolf was again obliged to give his weeping friend time to calm herself.

What he now had to relate--both knew it--was well suited to transform the tears which Barbara was shedding in memory of the beloved dead to tears of joy.

While she was wiping her eyes, Wolf described the great anxiety which, after Charles's death, overpowered the Quijadas in Villagarcia.

The codicil had existed, and Don Luis was familiar with its contents. But how would King Philip take it?

Dona Magdalena knew not what to do with herself in her anxiety.

The immediate future must decide Geronimo's fate, so she went on a pilgrimage with her darling to the Madonna of Guadelupe to pray for the repose of the Emperor's soul, and also to beseech the gracious Virgin mercifully to remember him, Geronimo.

Until that time the boy had believed Don Luis and his wife to be his parents, and had loved Dona Magdalena like the most affectionate son.

He had not even the slightest suspicion that he was a child of the Emperor, and was perfectly satisfied with the lot of being the son of a grandee and the child of so good, tender, and beautiful a mother.

This exciting expectation on the part of the Quijadas lasted nearly a whole year, for it was that length of time before Don Philip finally left the Netherlands and reached Valladolid.

He spent the anniversary of his father's death in the monastery of Del Abrojo.

There, or previously, he had read the codicil in which his imperial father acknowledged the boy Geronimo as his son.

Barbara now desired to learn the contents of the codicil and, as Wolf had told her yesterday how the boy's fate had changed, he interrupted his narrative and obeyed her wish.

As a widower, Charles confessed that he had had a son in Germany by an unmarried woman. He had reason to wish that the boy should assume the robe of a reformed order, but he must be neither forced nor persuaded to do so. If he wished to remain in the world, he would settle upon him a yearly income of from twenty to thirty thousand ducats, which was to pass also to his heirs. Whatever mode of life he might choose, he commanded his son Philip to honour him and treat him with due respect.

As on the day before, when Barbara had only learned in general terms what the codicil contained, her soul to-day, while listening to the more minute particulars, was filled with grateful joy.

Her sacrifice had not been vain. For years the fear of seeing her son vanish in a monastery had darkened her days and nights, and Quijada and Dona Magdalena had also probably dreaded that King Philip might confide his half-brother to a reformed order, for the monarch had by no means hastened to inform the anxious pair what he had determined.

It was not until the end of September that, upon the pretext of hunting, he went to the monastery of San Pedro de la Espina, a league from Villagarcia, and ordered Don Luis to seek him there with the boy. He was to leave the latter wholly unembarrassed, and not even inform him that the gentleman whom he would meet was the King.

His decision, he had added in the chilling manner characteristic of him, would depend upon circumstances.

Quijada, with a throbbing heart, obeyed, but Geronimo had no suspicion of what awaited him, and only wondered why his mother took so much trouble about his dress, since they were merely going hunting. The tears glittering in her eyes he attributed to the anxiety which she often expressed when he rode with the hunters on the fiery young Andalusian which his father had given him. He was then twelve years and a half old, but might easily have been taken for fourteen.

"It was a splendid sight," Wolf went on, "as the erect figure of the dark Don Luis, on his powerful black stallion, galloped beside the fair, handsome boy with his white skin and blue eyes, who managed his spirited dun horse so firmly and joyously.

"Dona Magdalena and I followed them on our quiet bays. Her lips moved constantly, and her right hand never stirred from the rosary at her belt while we were riding along the woodland paths.

"To soothe her, I began to talk about the pieces of music which his Majesty had brought from Brussels, but she did not hear me. So I remained silent until the monastery glimmered through the trees. "The blood left her cheeks, for at the same moment the thought came to us both that King Philip was taking him to the monks.

"But we had scarcely time to confide what we feared to each other ere the blast of horns echoed from the forest.

"Then, to calm the anxious mother's heart, I remarked, 'His Majesty would not have the horns sounded in that way if he were taking the pious brothers a new companion,' and Dona Magdalena's wan cheeks again flushed slightly.

"The forest is cleared in front of the monastery, but it surrounds on all sides the open glade amid whose grass the meadow saffron was then growing thickly.

"I can still see Geronimo as he swung himself from the saddle to gather some of the flowers. His mother needed them as medicine for a poor woman in the village.

"We stopped behind the last trees, where we had a good view of the glade. Don Luis left the boy to himself for a time; but when the blast of horns and the baying of the hounds sounded nearer, he ordered him, in the commanding tone he used in teaching him to ride, to remount.

"Geronimo laughed, thrust the flowers hastily into his saddlebag, and with a bold leap vaulted on his horse's back.

"A few minutes after, the King rode out of the forest.

"He was mounted on a noble bay hunting charber, and wore a huntsman's dress.

"No rider can hold a slender figure more erect.

"His haughty head, with the fair, pointed beard, was carried slightly thrown back, which gave him an especially arrogant appearance.

"When he saw Quijada, he raised his riding-whip with a significant gesture to his lips. We, too, understood what it meant, and Don Luis knew him far better than we.

"He greeted the King without the least constraint, as if he were merely a friend of noble birth, then beckoned to Geronimo, and the introduction was only the brief words, 'My son' and 'The Count of Flanders.'

"The boy raised his little plumed hat with frank courtesy and, while bowing in the saddle, forced his dun horse to approach the King sideways. It was no easy matter, and seemed to please his Majesty, for a smile of

Barbara Blomberg, Volume 10. - 3/13

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