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- Barbara Blomberg, Volume 1. - 5/10 -
you gazed down into the valley of the Danube from the hill where you stopped before sunset, and now see how zealously you are striving to adorn your person, it seems to me that there must be in this good city some one for whom you care more than for all you left behind in Brussels. At your age, that is a matter of course, if there is a woman in the case, as I suppose. I know very well what I should do if I were in your place. Longing often urges me back to Spain like a scourge. I have already told you why I left my dear wife there in our home. A few more years in the service, and our savings and the pension together will be enough to support us there and lay aside a little marriage dowry for our daughter. When I have what is necessary, I shall turn my back on the orchestra and the court of Brussels that very day, dear as music is to me, and sure as I am that I shall never again find a leader like our Gombert. You do not yet know with how sharp a tooth yearning rends the soul of the man whom Fate condemns to live away from his family. This place is your home, and dearer to you than any other, so build yourself a snug nest here with the person you have in mind."
"How gladly I would do so!" replied the young knight, "but whether I can must be decided within the next few davs."
"Inde-e-ed?" drawled Massi; then he bent his eyes thoughtfully upon the floor for a short time, and, after calling Wolf by name in a tone of genuine friendly affection, he frankly added: "Surely you know how dear a comrade you are to me! Yet precisely for that reason I stick to my counsel. It's not only on account of the homesickness--I am, thinking rather of your position at court--and, let me speak candidly, it is unworthy of a nobleman and a musician of such ability. The regent is graciously disposed toward you, and you praise her liberality, but do you yourself know the name of the office which you fill? More than enough is placed upon you, and yet, so far as I see, nothing complete. They understand admirably how to make use of you. It would be well if that applied solely to the musician. But sometimes she makes you secretary, and you have to waste whole days in writing letters and do penance for having learned so many languages; sometimes you must share in the folly of arranging performances, and your wealth of knowledge is industriously utilized in preparing mythological figures and devising new ideas for the exhibitions at which we have to furnish the music. This affords plenty of labour, but others reap the credit. Recently the Bishop of Arras even asked you to write in German what he dictated in French, although you are in the regent's service, and just at that time you were transposing the old church songs for the boy choir. I regret to see you do such tradesmen's work without adequate reward. Why, even if her Majesty would give you a fat living or appoint you to the imperial council which directs musical affairs in the Netherlands! Pardon me, Sir Wolf! But give people an inch, and they take an ell, and your ever ready obligingness will injure you, for the harder it is to win a thing the higher its value becomes. You made yourself too cheap at court here people will surely know how to put a higher value upon a man who is equally skilful in Netherland, Italian, and German music. In counterpoint you are little inferior to Maestro Gombert, and, besides, you play as many instruments as you have fingers on your hands. We all like to have you lead us, because you do it with such delicate taste and comprehension, and, moreover, with a vigour which one would scarcely expect from you. You will not lack patrons. Look around you here or elsewhere for a position as leader of an orchestra. Goinbert, to relieve himself a little, would like to have de Hondt come from Antwerp to Brussels. His place would be the very one for you if you find nothing worthy of you here, where you have a house of your own and other things that bind you to the city."
"Here I should probably be obliged to crowd somebody else out of one in order to obtain a position," replied Wolf, "and I am unwilling to do so."
"You are wrong," cried the violinist. "The course of the world causes the stronger--and that you are--to take precedence of the weaker. Learn at last to give up this modest withdrawal and elbow your way forward!"
"Pressing and jostling are not in my nature;" replied Wolf with a slight shrug of the shoulders. "Since I may hope to be relieved of anxiety concerning my daily bread, I am disposed to leave the court and seek quiet happiness in a more definite circle of duties at home. You see, Massi, it is just the same with us human beings as with material things. There is my man cutting the rope from yonder package with his sharp knife. The contents are distributed in a trice, and yet it was tiresome to collect them and pack them carefully. Thus it would need only a word to separate myself from the court; but to join it again would be a totally different affair. There have been numerous changes in this city since I went away, and many a hand which pressed mine in farewell is no longer here, or would perhaps be withdrawn, merely because I am a Catholic and intend to stay here among the Protestants. Besides--lay the roll on the table, Janche--besides, as you have already heard, the final decision does not depend upon myself.--Take care, Jan. That little package is breakable!"
This last exclamation was addressed to Wolf's Netherland servant, who was just unpacking his master's leather bag.
Massi noticed that the articles taken out could scarcely be intended for a man's use, and, pointing to a piece of Flanders velvet, he gaily remarked:
"So my guess was correct. Here, too, the verdict is to be pronounced by beardless lips." Wolf blushed like a girl, but, after the violinist had waited a short time for the confirmation of his conjecture, he continued more gravely:
"It ill befits me to intrude upon your secret. Every one must go his own way, and I have wondered why a person who so readily renders a service to others pursues his own path so unsocially. Will you ever let your friend know what stirs your heart?"
"I should often have confided in you gladly," replied Wolf, "but a certain shyness always restrained me. How can others be interested in what befalls a lonely, quiet fellow like me? It is not my habit to talk much, but you will always find me ready to use hand and brain in behalf of one who is as dear to me as you, Massi."
"You have already given me proof of that," replied the violinist, "and I often marvel how you find time, without neglecting your own business, to do so much for others with no payment except thanks. I thought you would accomplish something great, because you paid no heed to women; but probably you depend on other powers, for if it is a pair of beautiful eyes whose glance is to decide so important a matter----"
"Never mind that," interrupted Wolf beseechingly, raising his hand soothingly. "I confess with Terentius that nothing human is strange to me. As soon as the decision comes, I will tell you--but you alone-- several particulars. Now accept my thanks for your well-meant counsel and the use of your room. I'll see you again early to-morrow. I promised Gombert and the leader of the boy choir to lend them a helping hand, so we shall probably meet at the rehearsal.--Go to the stable, Janche, and see that the groom has rubbed the bay down thoroughly. As for the rolls and packages here----"
"I'll help you carry them," said the violinist, seizing his shoes; but Wolf eagerly declined his assistance, and went out to ask the landlord to let him have one of his men.
But the servants of the overcrowded Red Cock all had their hands full, so the nine-year-old son of the Leitgeb couple and the cellar man's two somewhat younger boys, who had not yet gone to bed, were made bearers of the parcels.
How eager they were to do something which suited grown people, and, when Wolf described the place where they were to carry the articles, Fran Leitgeb sympathizingly helped him, and charged the children to hold the valuable packages very carefully. They must not spare the knocker in the second story of the cantor house, for old Ursula's hearing was no longer the best, and since the day before yesterday--Kathl had brought the news home--she had been ill. "Some rare luck," the landlady continued, "will surely follow the knight up to the Blombergs. The same old steep path, leads there; but as to Wawer!--it would be improper to say Jungfrau Barbara--you will surer open your eyes--" Here she was summoned to the kitchen, and Wolf followed his little assistants into the street.
The cantor house was only a few steps from the Red Cock, and Wolf knew every stone in the street, which was named for the tavern. Yet that very circumstance delayed him, for even the smallest trifle which had changed during his absence attracted his attention.
He had already noticed at the familiar inn that the gay image of the Madonna and Cluld, and the little lamp above, were no longer there. The pictures of the saints had been removed from the public rooms, and even the painting which had been impressed upon his memory from boyhood--like a sign of the house--had vanished. A large red cock, crowing with wide- open beak at the Apostle Peter, had been there.
This venerable work of an old artist ought to have been retained, no matter what doctrine the Leitgebs now professed. Its disappearance affected the knight unpleasantly.
It also induced him to see whether the Madonna with the swords in her heart, which, at the time of his departure, had adorned the Ark, the great house at the corner of the Haidplatz, had met with the same fate, and this sacred witness of former days had likewise been sacrificed to the iconoclasm of the followers of the new Protestant faith. This also grieved him, and urged him to go from street to street, from church to church, from monastery to monastery, from one of the chapels which no great mansion in his native land lacked to another, in order to ascertain what else religious fanaticism had destroyed; but he was obliged to hasten if he wished to be received by those in his home whom he most desired to see.
The windows of the second story in the Golden Cross, opposite to the Ark, were brilliantly lighted. The Emperor Charles lodged there, and probably his royal sister also. Wolf had given his heart to her with the devotion with which he had always clung to every one to whom he was indebted for anv kindness. He knew her imperial brother's convictions, too, and when he saw at one of the windows a man's figure leaning, motionless against the casement with his hand pressed upon his brow, he realized what deep indignation had doubtless seized upon him at the sight of the changes which had taken place here during the five years of his absence.
But Emperor Charles was not the man to allow matters which aroused his wrath and strong disapproval to pass unpunished. Wolf suspected that the time was not far distant when yonder monarch at the window, who had won so many victories, would have a reckoning with the Smalcalds, the allied Protestants of Germany, and his vivid imagination surrounded him with an almost mystical power.
He would surely succeed in becoming the master of the Protestant princes; but was the steel sword the right weapon to destroy this agitation of the soul which had sprung from the inmost depths of the German nature? He knew the firm, obstinate followers of the new doctrine, for there had
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